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FANNY. Mother, you have now finished the history of the Old Testament, without once mentioning the Book of Job. You have, I believe, named every other,-why did you omit that?

MRS. M. The Book of Job was omitted, because it is wholly unconnected with the history of which we have spoken. Job was not a Jew, nor does he appear to have known any thing of that people, but rather to have lived some ages before they became a nation.

. FANNY. Why, then, is his story inserted amongst the sacred writings, which are chiefly devoted to their affairs. MRS. M. By the sacred writings, we do not mean merely such books as were connected with the Jewish history, but all the inspired books which have come down to us, and considering the scrupulous care that has been most religiously devoted to their preservation, it may be presumed, that we now possess all that did ever bear the sacred stamp. We have histories of the Jews by some profane authors, and frequent allusions to them by others. We read also of "the book of Jasher," "the book of Iddo, the seer," and "the book of the wars of the Lord” -these were historical, but probably not inspired, otherwise they would not have been lost, as they now certainly

are. But this sublime poem has been treasured up with the sacred rolls of the Jews, from the earliest period of their written history, and is transmitted with them for our instruction. It has all the marks of divine inspiration; its views of the deity are the most elevated, and its moral sentiments the most pure: we conclude, then, that it was delivered to them by their revered legislator, from whom alone, perhaps, they would have received a rule of faith and man


CATHERINE. By whom was it written?

MRS. M. That is a question which divides commentators. Some have assigned it to Moses, and some to Job himself Some have supposed it to have been written by Elihu, one of the actors in the drama, whilst others have not scrupled to bring it down so late as the time of Ezra, but so various are the opinions on this uncertain subject, that still others, and intermediate persons, between the first and the last named, are supported as the authors.

No book of scripture has been more severely scrutinized than this. The reality of Job's existence, the period, and the place in which he lived, as well as the pen to which we are indebted for this portion of the story, have all been made the subjects of very able discussion. The time and the design of its publication have also been examined. Some writers, more fanciful than wise, have imagined the whole book to be an allegory, or fable, agreeably to the eastern mode of giving lessons. Whilst others, with more reason, defend the literal truth of every circumstance related, admitting, however, that the dialogue is ornamented by the florid language, without which, a conversation could not have been reduced to measured numbers, consistently with the elegance required in an epic

poem. But all these disputed points are put to rest by the successful labours of commentators,* all competent to the work. It is not necessary that I should rehearse all the arguments on either side, an abstract on each particular will prepare you to read their works, and to study the sublime original. I shall only premise, that it is allowed on all hands, to be a poem of the most lofty character, excepting the two first, and the last chapters, which are plain narrative, and that it is replete with instruction.

CATHERINE. On what ground is the reality of his existence questioned, when the patience of Job is proposed as an example, by the apostle James ?+

MRS. M. Objections are made to the transactions related in the exordium. That the adversary of mankind should have appeared with the "sons of God," before the throne of the Omnipotent, and have obtained permission to bring a succession of calamities beyond the common lot of mortals, on a righteous man, say the objectors, appears fa bulous, and the protraction of the patriarch's days, to the amount of an hundred and forty years after his trial, is inconsistent with the abridgment of man's life after the flood, for that he lived after that catastrophe is evident from the text.

Now the experience of every age, in accordance with the words of inspiration, is sufficient proof that the patience and resignation of the most pious, are often severely tried by affliction. That Satan may be the agent, is also clear. He tempted Eve in Paradise, and our Saviour in the wilderness-but in what manner he obtains his com

* Gray, Magee, Peters, Horne, &c.

+ James, v. xi.

mission, or what takes place in the celestial regions, re specting this awful arrangement, is amongst the secret things of God, which we are not permitted to know. If the fact is to be communicated to mortals, it must be done in some way compatible with human comprehension. Another argument, against the reality of the whole story, is assumed, from its metaphorical style, in the debate between Job and his companions. In answer to this, it is not necessary to contend, that every word is related as it was spoken, although much may be allowed to the known figurative style of the Arabians, the country in which the scene is laid. If the sentiments are preserved, the dignified form into which the poem is cast, does not impugn the 'reality of the events. Besides, to the testimony of an apostle we have added that of a prophet,* concerning the existence of such a man as Job. And with respect to the number of his years-they did not so far exceed that of other patriarchs, (considering too that he was but young at the date of his trial) that we may not suppose him to have been favoured with an extraordinary length of life, as a reward of his pious fortitude, and a gracious compensa tion for his extraordinary sufferings.

Job is called "the greatest of all the men of the East," by the inspired historian. "The whole region between Egypt and the Euphrates, was called the East, at first in respect to Egypt, and afterwards absolutely, and without any relation to situation or circumstances." He dwelt in the land of Uz, which is said to be a district of Arabia, lying between Egypt and Philistia. Having discovered

* Ezekiel, xiv. 14.

+ Horne's Introduction to the study of the Bible.

the place of Job's residence, there is no difficulty in ascertaining the period at which he flourished. The whole complexion of the book in question, bears the mark of high antiquity. He was the priest of his own family, according to patriarchal customs, and offered sacrifices for his children and his friends; consequently, he lived before the institution of a regular priesthood by Moses, to which alone belonged this privilege after the promulgation of the law. He offered them at his own dwelling, whereas, the Levites, as you know, might sacrifice only at the consecrated tabernacle. Had there been a law, the acknowledged piety of Job would have restrained him from transgressing it. His wealth is reckoned by his flocks-he had seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, besides an immense herd of cattle: he therefore led the pastoral life-the earliest occupation of man. Our bible chronology dates the trial of Job about twenty-nine years before the Exodus from Egypt. That there is no allusion to such a nation as the Israelites, or their peculiar system, to the miracles by which they were delivered from the cruel hand of Pharaoh, or by which they were sustained forty years in the desert, is abundant evidence that he lived anterior to these wonderful events. Their number, and their notoriety, must have reached the ears of those who lived in the very neighbourhood where they occurred. Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain, lay still nearer to the land of Uz-all the people of Idumea must have known of their miraculous ruin, yet none of all these most remarkable transactions are mentioned in the conversation between Job and his companions—a conversation which, turning chiefly on the power of God, and the manner of his dealings with the children of men, afforded

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