Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

and enjoying the good things of the earth, without caring to provide adequately for the wants of those by whose labour their comforts are supplied. To obtain all he could for himself from his land, without shewing mercy to those who held it or wrought it under him, this appears to be the sin which Job mentions and disclaims at the end of his discourse. And when we consider that it would imply selfishness and covetousness, and remember that the love of money is the root of all evil, 1 Tim. 6. 10, we shall not think it strange, that Job, after winding up his statement, and declaring how gladly he would be put upon his trial, should conclude with protesting his innocency in respect of this particular transgression.

And what shall we say of his expressing so earnest a desire to be put upon his trial? How shall we explain his challenge to his adversary, to write his accusation in a book, which he declared that he would gladly take up on his shoulder, and bind it on him as a crown, and would fearlessly answer before God as to the whole course of his life, and that as a prince he would draw nigh to God for judgment? We may suppose, that in part he meant to apply these words to the false charges brought against him by his friends. But we must fear, that as far as concerned God, he spake unadvisedly with his lips; not sufficiently considering, how different a thing it was to answer the accusations of man, and to stand clear in the presence of his Maker. Though in many important points he knew how he ought to walk and to please God, he had not yet beheld that revelation of the power, and wisdom, and glory of the Lord, which soon afterwards constrained him to say, "Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Ch. 42. 6.

And yet knowing these things so much better as we do, and fully informed as we have been, both as to our own extreme sinfulness, and as to God's perfect holiness, there is a sense in which we may notwithstanding take into our mouths words not unlike to these of Job; and may defy our adversary the devil to meet us, with his accusation written, before the judgment seat of Christ. It is when we are conscious, that instead of trying to hide our transgressions from God, we have confessed them, and repented of them all, with full purpose of amendment. It is when we are persuaded that God has for Christ's sake forgiven us, and that we have been justified through faith. It is when we find that we are sanctified by the Holy Spirit of God. Then it is that we may venture to say with St. Paul, "To me to die is gain," and therefore we may add, I have "a desire to depart and to be with Christ." Phil. 1. 23. And though after death there must be judgment, and Satan be ready to accuse us before God night and day, yet can we lie down to die in peace, and hope, and joy; and can say with our expiring lips, at once humbly, and triumphantly, "Thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15. 57.

Elihu expresseth his great anxiety to speak.

1 So these three men ceased to answer Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes.

2 Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God.

3 Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled, because they had found no answer, and yet had condemned Job.

4 Now Elihu had waited till Job had spoken, because they were elder than he.

5 When Elihu saw that there was no answer in the mouth of these three men, then his wrath was kindled.

6 And Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite answered and said, I am young, and ye are wery old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not shew you mine opinion.

7 I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom.

8 But there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.

9 Great men are not always wise neither do the aged understand judgment.

10 Therefore I said, Hearken to me; I also will shew mine opinion.

11 Behold, I waited for your

words; I gave ear to your reasons, whilst ye searched out what

to say.

12 Yea, I attended unto you, and, behold, there was none of you that convinced Job, or that answered his words:

13 Lest ye should say, We have found out wisdom: God thrusteth him down, not man.

14 Now he hath not directed his words against me: neither will I answer him with your speeches.

15 They were amazed, they answered no more: they left off speaking.

16 When I had waited, (for they spake not, but stood still, and answered no more;)

17 I said, I will answer also my part, I also will shew mine opinion.

18 For I am full of matter, the spirit within me constraineth

me.

19 Behold, my belly is as wine which hath no vent; it is ready

to burst like new bottles.

20 I will speak, that I may be refreshed: I will open my lips and answer.

21 Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering titles unto

man.

22 For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away.

LECTURE 812.

The right end and object of conversation.

When Job's three friends had failed to convince him, and had indeed greatly erred in the tenour of their argument, Elihu, who

it seems had been present all the time, declared himself most anxious to express his opinion. His wrath was kindled, or as the expression may rather mean, he felt vext and impatient, both with Job, for justifying himself, rather than owning that God's dealings must at all events be just, whether man can understand them or not; and also with Job's three friends, for persisting in condemning Job, though unable to give him any satisfactory answer. They, in their anxiety for victory in the argument, imputed to Job things of which he knew that he was guiltless, things which they maintained he must have done wickedly in time past. Elihu brought home to him the charge of that which he had done wrong in the present controversy. He declared that his own zeal within him was like fermenting wine that wanted vent; not as if he had taken offence at any of Job's words, for they were not directed, as he remarks, against him. Neither was he inclined to take the side of either party, as accepting any man's person, or as giving flattering titles unto any one. It was for the truth's sake that he felt so deeply, and longed so ardently to speak; it was for the truth's sake, and for the sake of God and of his glory, not out of personal offence, nor out of personal favour towards any man. And notwithstanding the strong desire prompting him to interpose, he had waited patiently until those who were older than himself had spoken first, and had declined to speak further.

Let the young learn hence to restrain their eagerness, and to pay all due respect unto the aged. Let those who think, however justly, that they can say much to the purpose, refrain their lips, and keep silence, till it is properly their turn to take part in conversation. Let those who argue, watch against the temptation to argue for victory rather than for truth. And let those who possess an understanding which enables them to become the instructors of others, take care that, with Elihu, they ascribe their powers to the spirit given them by Almighty God. This is our best safeguard against conceit and vain glory, to bear in mind that we have nothing which we have not received from One infinitely great, wise, and good. And this will largely help us in choosing aright both when to speak and when to keep silence, namely, this rule, to set before ourselves, for our end in speaking, not the display of our own knowledge or ability, but the advancement of truth, the doing good to each other, and the glorifying Almighty God.

Elihu reproveth Job for 1 Wherefore, Job, I pray thee, hear my speeches, and hearken to all my words.

2 Behold, now I have opened my mouth, my tongue hath spoken in my mouth.

murmuring against God.
make thee afraid, neither shall
my hand be heavy upon thee.
8 Surely thou hast spoken in
mine hearing, and I have heard
the voice of thy words, saying,
9 I am clean without trans-

10 Behold, he findeth occasions against me, he counteth me for his enemy,

3 My words shall be of the up-gression, I am innocent; neither rightness of my heart: and my is there iniquity in me. lips shall utter knowledge clearly. 4 The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life. 5 If thou canst answer me, set thy words in order before me, stand up.

6 Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay.

7 Behold, my terror shall not

11 He putteth my feet in the stocks, he marketh all my paths. 12 Behold, in this thou art not just I will answer thee, that God is greater than man.

13 Why dost thou strive against him? for he giveth not account of any of his matters.

LECTURE 813.

God being almighty is not accountable to man.

Elihu labours to conciliate the favourable attention of Job, as knowing that in order to convince the mind, it is a great thing to soothe the affections of the heart. He had already declared, that he was not about to speak as one against whom Job's words had been directed, or as one who meant to adopt the line of argument taken by Job's friends. See ch. 32. 14. Here he protests, that his words shall be spoken in the sincerity of his heart, and according to the genuine judgment of his mind. And as Job had pleaded with God not to let his fear terrify him, as if he felt unequal to meet so awful a Being face to face; see ch. 9. 34; Elihu here states, that he, for his part, though offering to answer Job as God's messenger, or in God's place, was yet no more than a mere man like Job himself, made of the same dust of the earth, by the same Almighty Spirit: "Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead: I also am formed out of the clay." And thus may every minister plead for hearing, with those to whom he is sent by God, saying in the words of the apostle Paul, "We have this treasure in earthen vessels;" 2 Cor. 4. 7; and applying these words thus, We are men of the same nature as yourselves, we have a fellow feeling for all the infirmities of which it is our desire that you should be healed by the grace of God; we come not to triumph over you, we speak not to find fault with you by way of clearing ourselves, but as messengers from God, as ambassadors from Christ, aiming at your good, and at his glory. Such is the spirit in which ministers of the Gospel ought to address themselves to the people committed to their charge. And such

is the honour which the people ought to pay unto God's ministers, to receive them as commissioned to address them in his stead.

And it

Elihu seems to have spoken to Job not only with the authority of a minister, but also with that of a prophet of the Lord. And it is remarkable that Job did not attempt to answer him, nor to gainsay that which he asserted. This looks as if he felt and acknowledged the truth of the doctrines which Elihu laid down, and also the justice of their application to his own case. proves great discernment on Elihu's part, unless rather we ought to call it heavenly guidance, that in dealing plainly with Job, and in telling him faithfully of his fault, he made no reference to the reports which others raised against him, but only to the words which he had heard with his own ears from Job's own lips. These words he referred to without exaggerating them. He stated their purport fairly; and he faithfully told Job, that he had been guilty in his hearing of murmuring against God, and of expressing himself too confidently, as if he supposed himself altogether without sin in God's sight. Whether Job really meant to say thus much, or merely to deny the charges falsely brought against him by his friends, his words certainly amount to that which Elihu here states to be their purport. And he certainly therefore needed the correction of a faithful friend or minister, to point out his error, and to lead him to repent of it. Happy they who have the benefit of good counsel on the part of those, who are to them in God's stead, though formed out of the clay like themselves! Happy they who have the grace to receive the just reproof of God's ministers attentively and thankfully, and who, even if in part it be founded on mistake, receive it thankfully as far as it applies, and endeavour to improve thereby!

The answer which Elihu purposes to give to Job, as sufficient to solve all his doubt and perplexity, is simply this, "God is greater than man." Omnipotence; this makes all complaint on our part foolishness. Omnipotence; this makes all attempt to strive against God little short of madness. Omnipotence; this renders it altogether out of the question that God should give account to man, much less be called to account by man, for anything that He thinks fit to do. He that can do everything He pleases, must not for one moment be supposed to be capable of doing anything wrong; must not be spoken of or spoken to, as if it were conceivable that He could have any object but that which is most excellent, in all the dispensations of his providence. "God is greater than man," infinitely greater, and also infinitely more wise than the wisest of men, infinitely more good than the best. Let this thought still our murmurs when they are likely to arise, either at what God lays on us to suffer, or at what He requires us to believe and do, either at pain of body, perplexity of mind, or anguish of heart, this thought which Elihu has so significantly expressed, "God is greater than man."

« AnteriorContinua »