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Job lamenteth his misery and mortality. i My breath is corrupt, my on his way, and he that hath days are extinct, the graves are clean hands shall be stronger ready for me.

and stronger. 2 Are there not mockers with 10 But as for you all, do

ye me? and doth not mine eye con- return, and come now : for I tinue in their provocation ? cannot find one wise man among

3 Lay down now, put me in a you. surety with thee; who is he that 11 My days are past, my purwill strike hands with me? poses are broken off, even the 4 For thou hast hid their heart thoughts of my heart. from understanding: therefore 12 They change the night into shalt thou not exalt them. day: the light is short because 5 He that speaketh flattery to of darkness. his friends, even the eyes of his 13 If I wait, the grave is mine children shall fail.

house: I have made my bed in 6 He hath made me also a by- the darkness. word of the people; and afore- 14 I have said to corruption, time I was as tabret.

Thou art my father: to the worm, 7 Mine eye also is dim by rea- Thou art my mother, and my son of sorrow, and all my mem- sister. bers are as a shadow.

15 And where

is now my s Upright men shall be asto- hope? as for my hope, who shall nied at this, and the innocent see it? shall stir up himself against the 16 They shall go down to the hypocrite.

bars of the pit, when our rest 9 The righteous also shall hold together is in the dust.

LECTURE 789. How to meet death with joy and thankfulness. In this chapter Job continues to lament his miserable condition, one while complaining of his friends, and then bewailing his own misery and mortality. He challenges Eliphaz to strike a bargain with him, not mentioning the terms, but probably meaning to offer something like a wager, that he would prove right, and his friends wrong, in respect to the integrity of his character. He also calls upon his friends to return to a better mind, saying, that he cannot find one wise man among them. He charges them with changing the night into day,” by which he perhaps means, that they called evil good and good evil, that they represented his case as one of no uncommon hardship, whereas he felt it to be a most inscrutable affliction. He describes himself as one hopeless of life, for whom the grave was waiting. He had become, he thought, “ a byword of the people.” He had “said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.” And all this and more had been brought on him by God, when he was conscious to himself that he had served God truly,

and when in fact he had served God so thoroughly, that God had Himself described him as “ a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.” Ch. 1. 8.

This was the great source of Job's perplexity. He knew not how to reconcile the portion he received from God with the duty which he had faithfully discharged towards Him. It was at this that he apprehended the righteous would be astonished. This he thought would make the innocent jealous of the hypocrite. But though it was past his power to account for it, he had no doubt that every thing would be cleared up at the last. And he trusted, that however much it might astonish the good, they would nevertheless stedfastly persevere, and they that had clean hands would grow stronger and stronger. Let us lay to heart the rule here suggested for our practice. And however much we may be astonished or perplexed by any of God's dealings, let us still hold on our way faithful and rejoicing. Let us still add strength to strength, and grow in every Christian grace; knowing that in our heavenly course it is next to impossible to stand still, so that if we are not advancing in holiness of life, it is to be feared that we must be growing less diligent and devout.

Let us then press forward, in spite of every discouragement, arising either from what befals others, or from what may happen to ourselves. It is indeed a strange and trying sight when we see the righteous in deep affliction. Strange it is and trying to our natural apprehension. And for ourselves it is a trying thing to experience or look forward to the change from prosperity to adversity, from health to sickness, from life to death. So strange and trying is the thought of our mortality, much more the reality of our death, that we have been instructed by the church to pray to God, “ Suffer us not in our last hour for any pains of death to fall from thee.” (Burial Service.) Let us be aware beforehand that this is likely to prove a passage of great difficulty in our Christian course. Let us endeavour, by frequently reflecting on our mortality, to become familiar with the thought of it; and to say to corruption, “ Thou art my father : to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.” But it will not be enough to reflect on the certainty of death. It will not make the thought of dying any the more welcome, merely to be frequently meditating on the time when the body shall be decaying in the grave. It was the hope of the resurrection, it was faith in Him who died for us and rose from the dead, these were the things which encouraged St. Paul to cry out triumphantly, “ () death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? These are the thoughts and feelings which will enable us, throughout our fearful conflict with the last enemy, to lift up oftentimes our voice, and always our heart, to God, with joy, saying, “ Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Cor. 15. 55, 57.

3

Bildad with angry words reneweth his argument. i Then answered Bildad the ger bitten, and destruction shall Shuhite, and said,

be ready at his side. 2 How long will it be ere ye

13 It shall devour the strength make an end of words ? mark, of his skin : even the first born of and afterwards we will speak.

death shall devour his strength. 3 Wherefore are we counted 14 His confidence shall be as beasts, and reputed vile in rooted out of his tabernacle, and your sight?

it shall bring him to the king of 4 He teareth himself in his terrors. anger : shall the earth be for 15 It shall dwell in his tabersaken for thee? and shall the rock nacle, because it is none of his : be removed out of his place? brimstone shall be scattered upon

5 Yea, the light of the wicked bis habitation. shall be put out, and the spark 16 His roots shall be dried up of his fire shall not shine. beneath, and above sball his

6 The light shall be dark in branch be cut off. his tabernacle, and his candle 17 His remembrance shall peshall be put out with him. rish from the earth, and he shall

7 The steps of his strength shall have no name in the street. be straitened, and his own coun- 18 He shall be driven from sel shall cast him down. light into darkness, and chased

8 For he is cast into a net by out of the world. his own feet, and he walketh 19 He shall neither have son upon a snare.

nor nephew among his people, 9 The gin shall take him by nor any remaining in his dwellthe heel, and the robber shall ings. prevail against him.

20 They that come after him 10 The snare is laid for him in shall be astonied at his day, as the ground, and a trap for him they that went before were

affrighted. 11 Terrors shall make him 21 Surely such are the dwellafraid on every side, and shall ings of the wicked, and this is drive him to his feet.

the place of him that knoweth 12 His strength shall be hun- not God.

LECTURE 790. Of waiting for the issue of our conduct until another life. In this second address of Bildad, he speaks as one who had taken great offence at Job, for making light of the counsel offered by his friends. He complains that Job had treated the counsel of his friends with no more respect, than if they had been so many creatures devoid of understanding, such as in their passion tear themselves to pieces. A common practice, on the part of those who take offence, to exaggerate, and interpret in an overstrained sense, the expressions at which they are offended. And he considers, that if Job were to have his way, the earth must be forsaken for him, and the rock removed out of his place. That is

in the way.

to say, he implies, that Job requires things no less unreasonable than these. And this is another usual way of widening the breach, when strife has once begun, for a man to charge his opponent with holding opinions much more extravagant than he does, and to try to fasten on him consequences which he altogether disavows.

After this preface of angry words, Bildad returns to the position, which he and his companions had all along maintained ; and describes, in still stronger language than before, the misery, which, as they conceived, God was sure to bring upon the wicked in this present life, and upon the wicked only. All this was plainly aimed at Job; and it amounted to telling him, that unless he owned his guilt and repented of it, he might expect to fare even worse than he had yet fared. Darkness would be his portion, weakness instead of strength, and instead of liberty captivity. He that had counted his friends as beasts, would himself be like one hunted down, driven into a corner, cast into a net, caught in a gin, terrified, famished, the prey of worms, here called “the first born of death," the victim of death, here called “ the king of terrors." His tabernacle would be no longer his, but would be tenanted by desolation. He would be cut off root and branch. His memory would perish with him; and his posterity after him. And as to what he had said of upright men being astonished at the afflictions of the righteous, see Ch. 17. 8, it would rather be at the dreadful judgments of the wicked that both they that come after would be astonished, and they that witnessed them would be affrighted.

Allowing for the warmth of passion with which Bildad delivers these sentiments, we may consider them as expressing the general opinion of the patriarchal church, founded on their experience of God's dealings in his providence, and perhaps also on their knowledge of his revealed will. In the earlier ages of the world, it is probable that mankind were dealt with by God, as we treat human beings in their infancy, when they cannot look forward to any distance. The Law, which held out rewards and punishments in this life, is said to have been a schoolmaster to bring the Jews to Christ, see Gal. 3. 24, so perhaps, in the period before the Law, there was a system of divine proceeding suited to a world not yet of age for such a school as that of the Law. And it may have been one great object of the book of Job, when viewed in the issue of the whole argument, to teach mankind to wait longer than they had been used to do, for the reward of their good or evil doings. Let it teach us, who live in these last days, to look chiefly to another life, and to wait patiently for eternity; knowing as we do that the time is short, the day is at hand, and that “ God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Pet. 3. 9.

Job detaileth his afflictions, as grounds of pity. | Then Job answered and said, eth me unto him as one of his 2 How long will ye vex my enemies. soul, and break me in pieces 12 His troops come together, with words?

and raise up their way against 3 These ten times have ye re- me, and encamp round about my proached me: ye are not ashamed tabernacle. that ye make yourselves strange 13 He hath put my brethren far to me.

from me, and mine acquaintance 4 And be it indeed that I have are verily estranged from me. erred, mine error remaineth 14 My kinsfolk have failed, and with myself.

my familiar friends have forgot5 If indeed ye will magnify ten me. yourselves against me, and plead 15 They that dwell in mine against me my reproach : house, and my maids, count me

6 Know now that God hath for a stranger: I am an alien in overthrown me, and hath com- their sight. passed me with his net.

16 I called my servant, and he 7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, gave me no answer; I entreated but I am not heard: I cry aloud, him with my mouth. but there is no judgment.

17 My breath is strange to my 8 He hath fenced up my way wife, though I entreated for the that I cannot pass, and he hath children's sake of mine own body. set darkness in my paths. 18 Yea, young children de

9 He hath stripped me of my spised me; I arose, and they glory, and taken the crown

from spake against me.

19 All my inward friends abio He hath destroyed me on horred me: and they whom I every side, and I am gone: and loved are turned against me. mine hope hath he removed 20 My bone cleaveth to my like a tree.

skin and to my flesh, and I am 11 He hath also kindled his escaped with the skin of my wrath against me, and he count- teeth.

my head.

LECTURE 791.

Of sympathy with sinners in their sufferings. Job, in this reply to Bildad's second speech, complains as before of the conduct of his friends; and pleads his many and grievous afflictions, as reasons for them to pity him, rather than reproach him. Supposing that he had been guilty of all the wickedness with which they thought fit to charge him, still, he observes, the consequences, as they regarded them, were so bitter, that he was fully entitled to their sympathy. The power of the Almighty had overtaken him. He was distressed in mind by doubt and perplexity as to the true cause of his affliction, and he had in

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