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poor, are all alike. To speak as Job had spoken was to imply, that one governed who hated right, it was to condemn Him who is most just. It was to find fault with Him who created all men, and who can lay low the mightiest, and can bring to light the secret doings of the most subtle. He can discern our actions, thoughts, and words. He can expose the wrongs inflicted by the great, and put them to an open shame. He can hear the cry of the afflicted, and can give them that peace which shall enable them to say, "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?"

And shall any human being, great or small, old or young, wise or foolish, shall any human being dare to lift his voice against so great a God as this? Shall it be thought treason to speak against the majesty of kings, and yet be borne with that men should make question of the perfect justice and goodness of God? Shall we stand in awe of one another, and not much more stand in awe of Him? Shall we think it meet to maintain the dignity of our earthly sovereign, by laying down this principle of law, that the king can do no wrong, and yet hold it consistent with our paramount allegiance to the sovereignty of the most high God, to raise doubts as to whether his commands and dispensations are or are not just and equal? No, let us rather say, as Elihu here seems to teach us, I know that I deserve the worst that God can send, and am bound to bear it patiently; and instead of murmuring, I resolve that I will offend no more; instead of questioning the wisdom of that which I understand not, I pray God to instruct me; I promise God to do his will; and I pray that through his help I may understand his doctrine.

This is the kind of language which it becomes man to address to God. And whether we thus submit ourselves to Him or not, He will not submit his ways and will to our presumptuous scrutiny; He will not fail to rule and govern all, as He best knows to be both just and good. Let us therefore stay our minds on Him, and He will keep us in perfect peace. See Is. 26. 3. Let us hold fast to the conviction, that whatsoever God does or orders in heaven and in earth, must be right, that every doctrine and commandment of his word must be wise, and holy, gracious and good. We shall then have no complaint to make, no murmurs to repress. And whether it be from the world, the flesh, or the devil, that temptation besets us, and endangers the peace and prosperity of the soul, we shall be able still to say of God, with thankfulness, "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?"

Elihu insisteth on the irreverence of Job's words.

1 Elihu spake moreover, and said,

2 Thinkest thou this to be right, that thou saidst, My righteousness is more than God's? 3 For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee? and, What profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin?

4 I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee.

5 Look unto the heavens, and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou.

6 If thou sinnest, what doest thou against him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest thou unto him?

7 If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? or what receiveth he of thine hand?

8 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of

man.

9 By reason of the multitude of oppressions they make the

oppressed to cry: they cry out by reason of the arm of the mighty.

10 But none saith, Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night;

11 Who teacheth us more than the beasts of the earth, and maketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?

12 There they cry, but none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men.

13 Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it.

14 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him.

15 But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger; yet he knoweth it not in great extremity:

16 Therefore doth Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowledge.

LECTURE 817.

If we trust in God, He will turn our mourning into joy. Elihu continues to press on Job's attention the irreverence, unreasonableness, and untruth, of the language which he had indulged in towards God, when speaking in the heat of his vexation. It amounted to maintaining, that he had been wronged by the Almighty, and was therefore more righteous than God. It sounded as if Job thought, that God was to gain advantage by his sufferings, more than Job had gained by any sin of his, whereby he could conceive that he had provoked them. Elihu therefore tells both him, and those for whom such language made him a fit companion, see ch. 34. 8, that nothing which such an one as man could do, whether in the way of sin or righteousness, could be either loss or gain to One who dwells on high above the clouds of heaven. Our wickedness is hurtful to ourselves. And our righteousness is our own gain. It is also profitable to our fellow creatures that we should obey God. And when we disobey Him, and do violence to each other, we wrong each other, though we hurt not God.

But though it thus appears, that almighty God cannot, properly speaking, have any thing to gain from the obedience or the sufferings of such an one as man, yet man has much to gain from God. Man, when in affliction, instead of crying out and complaining against his fellow man, instead of murmuring against God, as though He were like one of us to delight in doing evil, man, when in affliction would gain much, by lifting up his heart to God, and applying to Him with reverence and confidence as the Maker and the Ruler of all mankind. Yes we ought to flee to Him for refuge, and to cast our cares on Him, not as repining at that which He permits, but as remembering, that it is He who has made us the reasonable beings which we are, Ile who has given each of us a living soul, capable of choosing between good and evil, fit to be tried and proved, and to be refined and purified by proof and trial, and that He who has thus made us liable to suffer much, is ready, if we pray to Him with humility, to hear our cry, and to grant our prayers, and to turn our darkness into light, our groans of agony into songs of joy.

66 Although thou sayest thou shalt not see him, yet judgment is before him; therefore trust thou in him." Job had but to wait patiently, and to trust devoutly; and God would, in his good time, Elihu assures him, make it manifest that He judges according unto right. "But now, because it is not so, he hath visited in his anger;" because Job was wanting in this entire confidence that God is altogether just and good, it had seemed good to God to visit him with affliction. "Yet he knoweth it not in great extremity." God would not take cognizance of Job's fault severely. He would not prove extreme to mark what Job had said or thought amiss, for it is not his wont to do so unto any man.

Let us then commend our cause to God, with the most entire trust, that He is not only incapable of wronging any man, but is also merciful unto every man. Let us, in all the troubles which beset us, bethink ourselves of saying, "Where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night?" Let us call to mind how exactly this language of Elihu was realized long afterward in the case of Paul and Silas, whom God so greatly supported by his gracious presence, when they were cast into prison at Philippi, that at midnight they sang praises to his name. See Acts 16. 25. And whether our bonds be those laid on us by cruel men, or those imposed by our own oppressive passions, whether our darkness be ignorance of mind, or come of painful apprehension in the heart, that God is hiding the light of his countenance from us, still if we turn our thoughts and prayers to Him, as to One who is not only our Maker, but also our Saviour and Sanctifier, He will give us "songs in the night.”

PART V. O. T.

Elihu sheweth that God is just in his ways.

1 Elihu also proceeded, and said, 2 Suffer me a little, and I will shew thee that I have yet to speak on God's behalf.

3 I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.

4 For truly my words shall not be false he that is perfect in knowledge is with thee.

5 Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth not any he is mighty in strength and wisdom.

6 He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.

7 He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne; yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted.

8 And if they be bound in fetters, and be holden in cords of

affliction;

9 Then he sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded.

10 He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity. 11 If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures.

12 But if they obey not, they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge.

13 But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them:

14 They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean.

15 He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression.

LECTURE 818.

The constant superintendence of God's providence.

The general argument of Elihu has been this, that God is infinitely greater than man, and therefore cannot be expected to account to man for any of his dealings. But though it is out of place for man to require this, yet God may vouchsafe to do it. And Elihu here purposes, in God's behalf, to shew how God is just in all his ways, notwithstanding all that Job had said and questioned to the contrary, in the extremity of his sufferings. And with this view he states the doctrine of God's righteous providence, not in the same language as Eliphaz, and Bildad, and Zophar had done, as if prosperity and adversity in this world were sure to follow on doing well and doing ill. But thus it is, that Elihu sets this doctrine forth: that God is mighty," yes, is almighty, Lord of heaven and earth; and yet "despiseth not any;" is not too high to take notice of the least of his creatures: "He is mighty in strength, and wisdom;" He is not only supremely strong, but also supremely wise, so that He well knows how to compass all his righteous and gracious purposes. "He preserveth not the life of the wicked;" He has not the same regard for them as for the good: "but giveth right to the

poor;" He takes care of the cause of those who might otherwise have no protection from oppression and wrong. "He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous: but with kings are they on the throne;" He pays as much attention to their welfare as to that of the greatest potentates of the earth. "Yea, he doth establish them for ever, and they are exalted;" which words we may thus interpret: they are raised to a higher honour than that of any earthly throne, as it is written in the Book of Revelation, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." Rev. 3. 21.

And further, Elihu thus explains the ends for which God, in the order of his providence, dispenses affliction to his faithful servants. "He sheweth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded. He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity." This is his object in afflicting them. And this is a purpose which, as we all well know, is often answered by the visitation of affliction. And then how great is the gain of them that suffer for a time, and are saved to all eternity! "If they obey and serve him, they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures." This was in those times the settled order of God's providence; that the latter end of such as these was blessed more than their beginning. "But if they obey not they shall perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge." And if these things do not now uniformly turn out thus, we believe that they do so frequently, often enough to prove that God rules in earth as well as heaven; often enough to leave no room for doubt that whatsoever passes unrequited here will meet with ample retribution hereafter.

Thus then God brings it to pass, that whilst they, who when afflicted, will not turn and cry to Him, perish miserably, there are others to whom the season of affliction becomes an opportunity of growth in grace and of increase in divine wisdom. The one sort "heap up wrath: they cry not when he bindeth them." They shew no sign of godly sorrow, when chastised for their sins. "They die in youth, and their life is among the unclean." Whilst in regard to the others, "He delivereth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression;" openeth their ears to understand, and their hearts to receive with faith the divine lessons which it is good for them to learn. Thus are the eyes of God ever over the righteous, alike when He prospers them, and when He chastens them. Thus is He always providing for their welfare, even when most He seems to hide away his face from them. And thus does He, by his providence, always impart to them the best of happiness in this present world, the happiness of using it to the most advantage with a view to the world which is to

come.

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