« السابقةمتابعة »
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 compensation 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: be 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
an opportunity so favourable, that they must have been noticed had they taken place before that time. It is also observable, that all these men, though coming from dife ferent parts of Arabia, spoke the same language, the ori. ginal Hebrew; from which it would appear, that they conversed together on this memorable occasion, before it was corrupted into different dialects by the posterity of Abraham.
It is well known, that of all the various forms by which the true religion was debased, amongst the most ancient was the worship of the sun and moon ; and to this alone is there any allusion in the book of Job.
From these, and yet other arguments, the high antiquity of this incomparable book is completely proved. A late writer* of great erudition, collecting them all-concludes the time of Job to have been eight hundred and eighteen years after the deluge, and one hundred and eighty-four before the birth of Abraham, which would carry it back some ages beyond the date in our common bibles. But it is a nicer point to determine by whom this interesting story was written. It may have been the work of Job himself, but the thirty-second chapter affords a strong presumption that Elihu was the author. Moses having found it during his long exile in Midian, might deliver it to bis rebellious people in the desert, as a corrective of their unthankful temper, and an encouragement to submission by the rewards that are there held out to quiet suffering,
CATHERINE, It would, then, appear that this is the oldest book in the world, even more ancient than the'pentateuch. I should now be glad to have some account of
the argument, which is beyond my present comprehension. I hope it will not be always so, but that I may hereafter obtain a better knowledge, both of this and every other part of sacred writ.'
Mrs. M. I am only able to give you a general view of a composition so magnificent: although it contains instruction the most obvious, it is yet veiled to the most illustrious scholars, by our imperfect knowledge of the eastern idioms, and by the transcendent nature of the subject. The God of nature is discovered in his works, we see-we feel-we admire and adore ! much is given to exercise the intellectual faculties of man, but much more is exalted beyond his best attainments. Of his justice and his mercy we see the effects in his moral government, but we are often lost in conjecture when we attempt to scan the reason of his dispensations. These high matters were the chief subject of debate between Job and his disputa tious friends. Guided only by the light of nature and tradition, and destitute of the revelation with which we are favoured, although they often “spoke amiss," it is yet surprising that they were in general so correct.
Job was a man of great eminence, a prince, perhaps, or a magistrate in the land of Uz. Endowed with wisdom, wealth and virtue, he was reverenced by every class of society. His children had grown to maturity, and misfortune had not violated his dwelling : encompassed by all the blessings of domestic and social life, he seemed almost beyond her reach. But suddenly he is bereft of all ! Neighbouring bands of roving Chaldeans overrun his fields-his focks and herds are swept away, and the shepherds and ploughmen put to the sword! Scarcely had these disasters reached his ears, when the blow is finished by ano
All his ebildren, assembled at a feast in their elder brother's house, are crushed to death in its fall, by a fierce whirlwind ! Such a tide of accumulated evils might well have burst the heart of a father and a man ! But in the midst of prosperity, Job had prepared his heart for a reverse.
Whilst his sons and daughters had gone from house to house at some festive season, the pious patriarch had “ risen early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings, according to the number of them all.” “It may be,” said he, “ that my sons have sinned in a moment of intemperance, and blasphemed their Creator.” “ Thus he. stood, ready to submit to the divine will, in that beautiful ascription to his unquestionable sovereignty, which fell without a murmur from his lips." " The Lord gaye,
and the Lord hath taken away-Blessed be the name of the Lord.” But this was not all--the saint was to be yet further proved. He is smitten with “ sore boils, from the sole of his foot to his crown!” His wife, who seems not to have borne affliction with the same placid temper, was astonished that he should yet confide in Jehovah -- but he silenced her : What,” said he, “ shall we receive good at the hand of God, and not evil?” “ In all this,” adds
” the historian, “ Job sinned not with his lips.” Happy would it be for you and me, who have the assured hope of rejoining our pious friends after death, could we give them up with the same obedient will.
Fanny. Was he altogether without that consoling hope ?
Mrs M. By some it has been supposed that he was. By others, his belief in a future state of glory through the intercession of a Redeemer, is supposed to be clearly marked in some sentences, which he afterwards uttered.