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Elihu accounteth for the affliction laid on Job.

14 For God speaketh once, yea twice, yet man perceiveth it not.

15 In a dream, in a vision of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men, in slumberings upon the bed;

16 Then he openeth the ears of men, and sealeth their instruction,

17 That he may withdraw man from his purpose, and hide pride from man.

18 He keepeth back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword.

19 He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with strong pain:

20 So that his life abhorreth bread, and his soul dainty meat." 21 His flesh is consumed away, that it cannot be seen; and his bones that were not seen stick out.

22 Yea, his soul draweth near unto the grave, and his life to the destroyers.

23 If there be a messenger with him, an interpreter, one among a thousand, to shew unto man his uprightness:

24 Then he is gracious unto him, and saith, Deliver him from going down to the pit: I have found a ransom.

25 His flesh shall be fresher than a child's: he shall return to the days of his youth:

26 He shall pray unto God, and he will be favourable unto him and he shall see his face with joy: for he will render unto man his righteousness.

27 He looketh upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, and perverted that which was right, and it profited me not;

28 He will deliver his soul from going into the pit, and his life shall see the light.

29 Lo, all these things worketh God oftentimes with man, 30 To bring back his soul from the pit, to be enlightened with the light of the living.

31 Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I will speak.

32 If thou hast anything to say, answer me speak, for I desire to justify thee.

33 If not, hearken unto me: hold thy peace, and I shall teach thee wisdom.

LECTURE 814.

The use of affliction in bringing us to Christ.

Elihu had very plainly protested against the monstrous notion, that God could be held accountable to man for any of his dispensations. See ver. 13. But for all this, God has been pleased to explain to us very graciously as much of his ways and dealings, as we are capable of understanding with profit to ourselves. And in the passage before us, He has vouchsafed to throw much light, by means of his servant Elihu, on his purposes in visiting his faithful people with such afflictions as those of Job. It was "in a dream, in a vision of the night," that matters of this kind were wont to be revealed to those holy men of old, of whom

St. Peter testifies, that they inquired and searched diligently concerning the salvation of the soul, and prophesied of that grace which has come unto us. See 1 Pet. 1. 10. And it was by means like these, Elihu signifies, that he received this interpretation of such a case as that of Job. The life of man is spared in the midst of danger, or he is afflicted with pain, sickness, and wasting away, in order that either by the mercy of deliverance, or by the chastisement of affliction, he may be prepared for receiving the faith of a Redeemer, and may be led thereby to repent and to amend.

This appears to be the general purport of a passage, which is expressed in terms so general, that it has been explained in a great variety of ways. But to those who think that nothing more is here intended than the healing of the body, we would put the question of our Lord, "Whether is easier to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?" Matt. 9. 5. We would at all events desire for ourselves, to see, in the messenger here spoken of, not any mere man or angel, but the divine Messenger of the divine covenant, the great Interpreter of God's will to man, who is described in the Song of Solomon as "the chiefest among ten thousand;" Song 5. 10; and by whom God has been pleased to declare, to reveal, and to make manifest unto us, "his righteousness, that he might be just, and the justifier of him that believeth in Jesus." Rom. 3. 26. This is He who pleads for us effectually: "Deliver him from going down to the pit." This is He who can truly say of the atonement made by his own blood, "I have found a ransom." This is He for whose sake, and through whose merits, it comes to pass, that if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." I John 1. 9. The healing of the body was the very miracle which He wrought most frequently, when manifest on earth in the flesh, by way of proof that it was He who came to save the soul. No wonder that this renewal of the flesh should be made a sign or type, in the Old Testament, of that renewal of the spirit which is the work of Christ revealed in the Gospel. Let us but attain to this, and what matter the tribulations of the present moment? What signified to Job the past anguish of his bones, when he was restored to health and to prosperity, and established in peace with God through Christ? What shall we think of any manner of affliction, which it may please God to lay upon us; what shall we say, but that it was good for us to be afflicted, when we shall have been brought thereby, if by God's grace we are brought in the end, out of this world so full of sorrow and perplexity into the light and life of joy everlasting?

Elihu chargeth Job with having founa fault with God.
delight himself with God.

1 Furthermore Elihu answered and said,

2 Hear my words, O ye wise men; and give ear unto me, ye that have knowledge.

3 For the ear trieth words, as the mouth tasteth meat.

4 Let us choose to us judgment: let us know among ourselves what is good.

5 For Job hath said, I am righteous and God hath taken away my judgment.

6 Should I lie against my right? my wound is incurable without transgression.

7 What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water? 8 Which goeth in company with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. 9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should

10 Therefore hearken unto me, ye men of understanding: Far be it from God, that he should do wickedness; and from the Almighty, that he should commit iniquity.

11 For the work of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways.

12 Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment.

13 Who hath given him a charge over the earth? or who hath disposed the whole world? 14 If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath;

15 All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust.

LECTURE 815.

God, being almighty, and all good, cannot do wrong. "Furthermore Elihu answered and said:" these words at the beginning of the chapter may with reason be thought to imply, that Elihu had made a pause for Job to answer if he wished it; and that then finding Job silent he proceeded. And now he addressed himself to others besides Job, and called upon the wise and the discerning to judge whether Job had not spoken rashly and wrongfully. This was the point on which Elihu very properly insisted. Instead of charging Job with faults which were imaginary, he plainly stated what he considered that Job had said; and he pointed out how unfit this language was to be applied to the most high God. Here indeed there was some risk of misrepresenting Job's meaning, as he did not quote the words actually spoken. Job, however, made no complaint to any such effect. And probably therefore he considered, that in the height of his vexation he had been led to use expressions as intemperate as those with which Elihu charged him. We see then here what words of murmuring amount to, and what we shall ourselves hereafter feel that they amount to, if we are now tempted to indulge in them. It is as though we deemed ourselves righteous, and God not righteous. It renders us companions of wicked men. It

is as if we thought it of no use to delight ourselves with God, because we do not thereby gain at once all that we could wish.

If any such thoughts as these are harboured in our minds, if we ever murmur against that which God has ordered, and thus become guilty of these rebel thoughts, let us note how earnestly Elihu protests against the notion, that God can do any thing which is not altogether good. Far be from God wickedness, and from the Almighty iniquity. Instead of his administering happiness and misery without reference to character, Elihu declares, that "the works of a man shall he render unto him, and cause every man to find according to his ways." He then repeats a truth, too obvious to have been mentioned even once, if it were not that it is so often called in question by them that murmur, "Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment." He asks, "Who hath given him a charge over the earth?" as if there were any one superior to the Lord, to whom He must give account of what He does, any one who "hath disposed the whole world," which it is indeed God that does, and no one else. And he remarks, that if God were to think fit to recal the life which He has given us, all flesh must perish together, yea, the whole race of man must turn again to the dust at once.

It should be enough to humble man, to think that God could do this at any moment. It should be enough to make us abundantly contented, to know that God could at any moment bring us absolutely to nothing, and yet He does not. He could turn

our bodies to the dust from which they were taken, and could also, if it should so seem good to Him, take back unto Himself that breath of life which He breathed into us; and man would cease to be a living soul. Our immortality, as well as our present life, is dependent on his will. For it is owing to his will that we are immortal. And though the miseries of this sinful world may sometimes make us glad to think, that "the sepulchre is nigh at hand," John 19. 42, still who that has the promise and the hope of everlasting life in heaven, who could bear that death should cut off soul as well as body, and make us altogether cease to be? From this dreadful annihilation God preserves us. And He is not such an one as man, that He should preserve us for any object save a good one. All powerful as He is, his goodness is equal to his might. And instead of reasoning like Elihu from his power, we shall be rather inclined to argue, according to the revelation of the Gospel, God's dealings must be righteous, because "God is love." 1 John 4. 8.

May we ourselves, weak creatures as we are, endeavour to imitate the pattern of his love! May love give us strength to fulfil all our duties, both towards God, and towards each other!

Elihu adviseth Job to humble himself before God.

16 If now thou hast understanding, hear this: hearken to the voice of my words.

17 Shall even he that hateth right govern? and wilt thou condemn him that is most just?

18 Is it fit to say to a king, Thou art wicked? and to princes, Ye are ungodly?

19 How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands.

20 In a moment shall they die, and the people shall be troubled at midnight, and pass away: and the mighty shall be taken away without hand.

21 For his eyes are upon the ways of man, and he seeth all his goings.

22 There is no darkness, nor shadow of death, where the workers of iniquity may hide themselves.

23 For he will not lay upon man more than right; that he should enter into judgment with God.

24 He shall break in pieces mighty men without number, and set others in their stead.

25 Therefore he knoweth their works, and he overturneth them in the night, so that they are destroyed.

26 He striketh them as wicked men in the open sight of others;

27 Because they turned back from him, and would not consider any of his ways:

28 So that they cause the cry of the poor to come unto him, and he heareth the cry of the afflicted.

29 When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble? and when he hideth his face, who then can behold him? whether it be done against a nation, or against a man only:

30 That the hypocrite reign not, lest the people be ensnared. 31 Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastisement, I will not offend any more:

32 That which I see not teach thou me: if I have done iniquity, I will do no more.

33 Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, or whether thou choose; and not I: therefore speak what thou knowest.

34 Let men of understanding tell me, and let a wise man hearken unto me.

35 Job hath spoken without knowledge, and his words were without wisdom.

36 My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end because of his answers for wicked men. 37 For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God.

LECTURE 816.

Nothing can trouble those to whom God giveth peace.

Elihu argues justly, from the respect paid to kings and princes, that the most heartfelt reverence of language is due to Almighty God, before whom kings and their subjects, rich and

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