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22 cusations. At destruction* and famine thou shalt laugh; amidst
these thou shalt be composed, courageous, and cheerful : neither
shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth, wild beasts, or sere 23 penis, as some understand it. For thou shalt be in league with
the stones of the field, safe. from any mischief by them : and the
beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee ; own thy domin24 ion, and peaceably submit to and serve thee. And thou shalt
know that thy tabernacle (shall be) in peace, free from the invasion of robbers, and other calamities, and thou shalt visit thy baba itation, and shall not sin ; search thy habitation, and find thy af
fairs prosperous and thy expectations answered; thou shalt not 25 err, or miscarry, or meet with disappointment. Thou shalt know
also that thy seed (shall be] great, and thine offspring as the
grass of the earth, numerous and prosperous, notwithstanding thy 26 present bereaved state. Thou shalt come to (thy] grave in a
full age, not by untimely death, but in a good old age, like as a
shock of corn cometh in in his season, when it is carried home 27 fully ripe. Lo this, we have searched it, so it [is ;] we are fully
convinced of the truth of it, on the most diligent search ; hear it, and know thou [it] for thy good ; thou art concerned in it, anniy ir therefore to thyself, and regulate thy conduct accordingly,
make useful reflections upon it. We have seen what Elia phaz here remarks, the wicked taking root, and flourishing, looking gay, thinking themselves secure, blessing themselves, and others blessing them, and ready to envy them. But by an eye of faith we see their habitation under a curse ; and often with an eye of sense we have seen it executed ; their glory vanished, their families brought to ruin ! Let us consider such scenes, that we may not envy the prosperity of the wicked, but rest in the Lord, and keep his way.
2. The providence of God in managing the affairs of this lower world should be carefully and seriously observed.
He doeth great and tvonderful things, unsearchable, and innumerable. That consideration should fill us with awe and veneration. He gives rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. He exalteth the poor and bringeth down the rich ; disappoints the schemes of cunning men, and turns them to purposes directly con trary to their own designs. This is applied by the apostle Paul (1 Cor. m. 19.) to the heathens being deceived and beguiled by their own philosophy, which they opposed to the gospel, which yet spread in opposition to it. Such interpositions of providence are very encouraging when times are dark, and the circumstances of the church and world seem discouraging to those who wish prosper. ity to both
• This is quite a different word from the former, and implies, invasions, tempests, robar beries.
3. This chapter gives a just idea of the nature of afflictions, of their design, and the proper manner of behaving under them. Affictions are from God. They do not come by chance or fortune ; we are to look beyond second causes to him. They are the common lot of men, fatherly chastisements, and are intended for our good. Our duty under them is to pray, to seek to God for the removal of them, or for direction, assistance, and support under them, and that we may get good by them. We are to commit our cause to God ; to pray to him to interpose and help us in his own time and way. The apostle applies this and the similar advice, Prov. iji. 11. to all christians, Heb. xii. 5, 6. Let us not forget the exhortation which speaketh unto us as unto children. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him : for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth, Let us improve our afflictions to further our repentance and holiness; then happy shall we be, and all shall work together for our good.
4. Prosperity should be sought from God, and his hand acknowl. edged in it. He alone can deliver from trouble, from the sword, and famine, from vexing calamities, and (which is one of the worst troubles) from the scourge of the tongue. When he does so, it becomes us to be very thankful. If he preserves us in journies, keepe our bones that none of them are broken, and we find our tabernacles in peace at our return; business prosperous, and all without sin, it is peculiarly happy, and we should give glory to God, our preserver and benefactor.
5. We may reflect, that application is the life and soul of preach. ing. Eliphaz says, v. 27. Hear it, and know thou it for thy good, This is in effect the language of ministers ; it is their business to search diligently ; to explain duty clearly, and to suit their discourses to the circumstances of their hearers, and come home to their consciences. It is the duty of hearers to apply all to themselves, to consider their own concern in it. It is not sufficient to hear it in general, to know the meaning and design of what is said ; but to know it for themselves. Is it true in itself, and a truth that concerns me? We know it for our good, when we know it for ourselves. Let it be our care to apply the reasonings, exhortations, and reproofs of our ministers to ourselves ; to consider what they say, and may the Lord give us understanding in all things.
We have here Joo's reply to Eliphaz ; in which he observes, that his
sorrow was greater than he apprehended; he repeats his wishes for death ; reproves his friends for their uncharitable censures ; and advises them to consider, reflect, and reason more justly. 1 2 thoroughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances
together! O that some equitable judge would weigh my sorrow
and my complaints together, which you think are 80 unreasonable. 3 For now it, that is, my sorrows and afflictions, would be heavier
than the sand of the sea : therefore my words are swallowed 4 up, that is, I want words to express my grief. For the arrows
of the Almighty Care] within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit ; arrows dipped in poison, which occasion violent burning pains, in the New Testament called fiery darts ; and the
terrors of God do set themselves in array against me, like a 5 mighty army surrounding me on every side. Doth the wild ass
bray when he hath grass ? or loweth the ox over his fodder ? It is no virtue in you to forbear impatience and complaint ; even the brutes are easy and quiet when they have plenty of provisions.
It is easy for those who neither feel sickness nor want, lo read lec6 tures of submission and patience.
Can that which is unsavoury be eaten without salt ? or is there (any) taste in the white of an egg? A reflection upon Eliphaz's discourse, as quite insipid and
unsboury, as wanting both wisdom and experience, therefore un7 grateful and distasteful. The things (that) my soul refuseth to
touch (are) as my sorrowful meat : your comforts are but sora
rowful meat, I find as little relish in them, as a man who is sick, 8 and overwhelmed with grief, finds in his meat. Oh that I might
have my request ; and that God would grant (me) the thing 9 that I long for ! Even that it would please God to destroy me ;
that he would let loose his hand, and cut me off ! His great
leading desire was death, that God would let go the arrow that 10 would cut him off at once ; it is an allusion to v. 4. Then should
I yet have comfort ; the thoughts of my approaching death would comfort me in all my sorrows ; yea, I would harden myself in sorrow ; I would resolutely and undauntedly endure any sorrow in order to my end : let him not spare ; I would not entreat him to spare me, but would be content that he should afflice me as much as he pleases ; for I have not concealed the words of the holy
One ; I have faithfully maintained his truths, and instructed others Il in his will. What [is] my strength, that I should hope ? and
what [is] mine end, that I should prolong my life? Do not
blame me for desiring death; I have no hope of better days, 12 that should make me willing to live. [IS] my strength the
strength of stones? or [is] my flesh of brass ? I must quickly
die by my disease, and therefore may well wish for a speedy death. 13 (Is) not my help in me? and is wisdom driven quite from me?
Though I am in a very helpless slate, I am not delirious ; I know
whut I say and think, and my wishing for death is no sign of guilt 14 or folly. To him that is afflicted, pity (should be showed) from
his friend ; but he who shows no pity forsaketh the fear of the 15 Almighty : inhumanity is imfiety. My brethren have dealt de
ceitfully as a brook, (and) as the stream of brooks, which are full 16 of water in winter, they pass away ; * Which are blackish by rea
• This is a beantiful simile, to describe the pretensions they had made, the great ça pectations he had forined from them, and the failure of them.
son of the ice, (and) wherein the snow is hid ; which spread so
'wide when the ice and snow are melted, as to make a food : but 17 What time they wax warm, they vanish : when it is hot they are
consumed out of their place ; in hot weather, when they are most 18 santed, they are vanished and gone. The paths of their way are
turned aside ; they go to nothing, and perish ; . you can scarce 19 tell where their channel ran. The troops of Tema looked, the
companies of Sheba waited for them. The Arabians who trav. elled from place to place, or caravans of merchants, who traversed the deserts, when parched with thirst repaired to the place
where ihe brooks used to be, and find nothing but sand, no water 20 at all. They were confounded because they had hoped ; they
came thither, and were ashamed. To apply this to his friends, 21 he adds, For now ye are nothing ; ye have deceived my expec.
tations, and afford me no comfort at all ; ye see (my) casting
down, and are afraid, lest I should prove a burden to you, and 22 therefore you turn strangers to me. Did I say, Bring unto me? or, 23 Give a reward for me of your substance ? Or, Deliver me from
the enemy's hand? or, Redeem me from the hand of the mighty? I asked you for no presents, nor for assistance to recover my sub
slance; surely then you might have given me a few good words. 24 Teach me, and I will hold my tongue : and cause me to under
stand wherein I have erred : intimating that he did not despise good advice, but was open to conviction ; if they would convince
him of his error, he would make all the acknowledgments they could 25 desire. How forcible are right words ! Solid arguments have a
marvellous power to convince and persuade men : but what doth 26 your arguing reprove ? your words are not convincing. Do ye
imagine, have you arefully contrived together to reprove words, and the speeches of one that is desperate, to censure me for a few
hasty and passionate words, (which are] as wind, and only the 27 speeches of one who wants a little respite from his sorrow? Yea,
ye overwhelm the fatherless, oppress me, a helpless person, with your bitter censures and calumnies, and 80 add misery to my misery,
and ye dig [a pit) for your friend, design mischief against me. 28 Now therefore be content; be not so rash as to condemn me, but deal
more kindly with me than you have done hitherio ; look upon me; for (it is) evident unto you if I lie : consider me well, both what
I am, and what I have said, and what my condition is ; you will 29 easily find it out if I speak false, or maintain a bad cause. Return,
I pray you, let it not be iniquity ; yea, return again, give the inatter a fair hearing, and do noi take up a hasty surficion, for my
righteousness (is) in it, upon further examination you will see that 30 I am right. Is there iniquity in my tongue ? have I spoken any
thing that is untrue ? cannoi my taste discern perverse things? cannot I discern between truth and falsehood ? therefore you should be very careful not to speak from prejudice against me. VOL. IV.
1. E see here, that a sense or apprehension of the di.
vine displeasure, is the bitterest circumstance in any ailliction. This is expressed very strongly, v. 4. The ai rows of the Almighty are within me. The spirit of a man may sustain his infirmity ; but a wounded spirit, who can bear? This should teach us to stund in awe and not sin, that we may have peace in our consciences ; and while we enjoy that, other afflictions will be comparatively light.
2. We are taught that great pity is due to those who are afflicted. God hati implanted compassion in our nature; and it is our duty to cherish the workings of it, 10 slow it by friendly visits and kind words to our afflicted friends ; patiently hearing their complaints, and making allowances for their infirmities : and endeavouring by all prudlent methods to confort and relieve them. Without this, we show there is but little of the fear of the Almighty in us: Inhumanity is impiety. As fellow mortals, liable to the same sufferings, and especially as fellow cliristians who are members one of another, it becomes us to be finder hearted, fitiful, courteous, bearing one another’s burdens, and so fulfilling ile inay of Christ.
3. Ile are taught, that adversity is the trial of friendship. Then • we have an opportunity to know who are real, and who are pre
tended friends. Too many are like deceitful brooks ; they make a fair profession, and our expectations are raised ; but when we most want them, ihey foil; and the disappointment will be great and grierous, in proportion as our expectations were high. This should teach us to cease from man, and not expect too much from fickle mortals. Let us seek the divine friendship. While men prove as deceitful brooks, we shall find him a fountain of living water, and a present help in every time of need.
4. A fair trial and examination of men's characters would prevent uncharitable and groundless censures, and moderate those which are just. A candid mind will be willing to examine, to be inforined, and will hope and believe the best ; and it becomes those who suspect the characters of others, to avoid confident charges, or spiteful insmuations ; to judge, and examint, and reason the case with those they think wrong ; for right words are forcible, to set themselves or their brethren right, and prevent or remove an evil suspicion.
5. It is very comfortable when we are charged with, or suspected of, any thing that is evil, to be able to oiler our character or conduct for a fuir trial. When friends censure us, or misrepresent us, while we are conscious of our integrity, we should offer our beliaviour to a full examination ; and an ability to do this will afford us satisfaction and peace, whether they will enter into it or not.
That we may enjoy this peace, herein lee us exercise ouerselves daily, to kec/l.consciences void of nfonce both iomard God and mon,