Imatges de pÓgina

Elihu recommendeth Job to 16 Even so would he have removed thee out of the strait into a broad place, where there is no straitness; and that which should be set on thy table should be full of fatness.

17 But thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: judgmentand justice take hold on thee. 18 Because there is wrath, beware lest he take thee away with his stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee.

19 Will he esteem thy riches? no, not gold, nor all the forces of strength.

20 Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place. 21 Take heed, regard not iniquity for this hast thou chosen rather than affliction.

22 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him? 23 Who hath enjoined him his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity?

24 Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.

magnify God in his works.
25 Every man may see it; man
may behold it afar off.

26 Behold, God is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out.

27 For he maketh small the drops of water; they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof:

28 Which the clouds do drop and distil upon man abundantly.

29 Also can any understand the spreadings of the clouds, or the noise of his tabernacle?

30 Behold, he spreadeth his light upon it, and covereth the bottom of the sea.

31 For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance.

32 With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it not to shine, by the cloud that cometh betwixt.

33 The noise thereof sheweth concerning it, the cattle also concerning the vapour.


The works of nature prove God to be almighty and unsearchable. Elihu having set forth a just view of God's dealings in his providence, assures Job that he might have been enjoying deliverance from his troubles, but for his not being yet humbled as he ought to be, and as we know that he soon afterwards was. See Ch. 42. 6. Instead of this, he considered that Job was undergoing the judgment of the wicked;" it being indeed strictly true, that the chastisements which God dispenses to the best of men, are no more than a just judgment for their sins. Therefore, Elihu would have Job beware, and not further provoke the wrath of God by hasty and irreverent words. Else he might be overtaken by the death which he had so rashly wished for, and would wish then, when too late to escape, that he might find a ransom for his life. This language of Elihu might be useful to teach Job not to trust too much, as he appears to have been inclined to do, to the integrity of his past life. As it was possible that St. Paul, after preaching to others, might have become a castaway himself, so it was possible for Job, and it was well that he

should know that it was possible, so to persist in hard thoughts of God, as to provoke his displeasure past forgiveness.

It is well then, as Elihu suggests, it is well to choose affliction rather than iniquity. It is well to resign ourselves willingly to that rod of chastisement, whereby God vouchsafes to teach the children of men. "Who teacheth like him?" Who, indeed, can compare with God in anything, much less presume to teach, instruct, or censure Him? Rather let us remember to "magnify his work, which men behold;" to praise Him with our lips, and to glorify Him in our hearts, for the proofs of his great power and goodness, which on every side surround us. "Every man may see it; man may behold it afar off." It needs no unusual ability, it needs no close examination of his works, it needs no exclusive attention of the mind to this or that particular branch of study; none of these things are needed, though each may greatly help, to impress on our minds the obvious conclusion forced on us by every object we behold, that God, who created all these things, "is great, and we know him not, neither can the number of his years be searched out."

Take, for instance, a thing with which all men are familiar, the weather and its changes, from rain to sunshine, from sunshine to clouds and storms. Shall we think that all this goes on of its own accord, without any one to order it, any one to originate it? Shall we view it with no eye but to our own convenience, complaining when it is otherwise than as we wish it, and thankful only when it falls out as we desire? Or shall we not behold in it continually the work of an almighty hand? And the more we watch it, and think of it, and study it, and find ourselves unable to comprehend any one of the many beautiful and wise arrangements by which the clouds are made to know their place, and the rain to fall in its due measure, shall we not regard it as a striking proof, that He who contrived all these things is almighty, infinite, and unsearchable? He it is, who not disdaining the least of his works, "maketh small the drops of water," fitting them to fertilize the earth. He it is, who rolling away the clouds, as though drawing aside the curtains of a tent, spreads out light for the covering of the sky, and makes it reach to the bottom of the sea. He it is, who controlling the most powerful of the elements, makes tempests to fulfil his righteous judgments. It is of Him that thunder speaks to man, and tells how great God is. The cattle too, instructed by his wisdom to know the coming storm, proclaim to us their Maker's might, and teach us, if we would but learn, to flee the wrath to come. And if these things, of daily occurrence in the world of sense, are so altogether past our understanding, how shall we think to comprehend all God's dealings with our souls? why should we desire more, in matters that are revealed not to sense but faith, why should we desire more than simply to believe?

Elihu calleth on Job to consider God's wondrous works.

1 At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place.

2 Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth.

3 He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth.

4 After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard. 5 God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend.

6 For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.

7 He sealeth up the hand of every man; that all men may know his work.

8 Then the beasts go into dens, and remain in their places. 9 Out of the south cometh the whirlwind and cold out of the north.

10 By the breath of God frost is given and the breadth of the waters is straitened.

11 Also by watering he wearieth the thick cloud: he scattereth his bright cloud:

12 And it is turned round about by his counsels: that they may do whatsoever he commandeth them upon the face of the world in the earth.

13 He causeth it to come, whether for correction, or for his land, or for mercy.

14 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

15 Dost thou know when God disposed them, and caused the light of his cloud to shine?

16 Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?


17 How thy garments warm, when he quieteth the earth by the south wind?

18 Hast thou with him spread out the sky, which is strong, and as a molten looking glass?

19 Teach us what we shall say unto him: for we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness.

20 Shall it be told him that I speak? If a man speak, surely he shall be swallowed up.

21 And now men see not the bright light which is in the clouds: but the wind passeth and cleanseth them.

22 Fair weather cometh out of the north: with God is terrible majesty.

23 Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out: he is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: he will not afflict.

24 Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.


That God is unsearchable by man.

The appearances presented by the weather, and the effects wrought by its astonishing changes, had been already dwelt upon

by Elihu, as proofs of the great power and skill of the Creator. Here he describes more particularly the awful strife of elements in a storm of thunder and lightning, and then turns to the mention of snow, which, as well as the small and great rain, is the result of God's power, the consequence of his word saying, "Be thou on the earth." Frost, also, and its effects upon the waters, no less marvellous to those who study them, no less incredible to those who never saw them, are ascribed to the same divine providence. And whilst man is hindered in many of his labours, and the beasts lie torpid in their dens, it is suggested that we in this change may be reminded of the hand which brings all these things to pass. And it is plainly stated, that all these things not only were at first created by God, but also are continually under his appointment, made to come and go, whithersoever He will, either for correction or for mercy.

"Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still and consider the wondrous works of God." Let us follow this counsel of Elihu. Let us consider how infinitely above all that we can conceive must be the might and majesty of Him from whose word all creation had its being. We know not, with all our study, and with the accumulated observation of all ages, we know not the actual composition of any single substance, we know not the complete cause or principle of any single effect. We cannot find the limit between the laws which God originally impressed upon the elements, and the commands which from time to time He gives them anew. We cannot say, in the chain of causes and effects, which is the last link we come to, when searching up to the first beginning in the will of God. We cannot explain the poising of the clouds in the sky, or the sense of warmth in our own persons, or how it is dependent on the changes of the atmosphere, or how the atmosphere itself, light of weight and scarcely to be felt, should form a bulwark round about our earth, bright as a molten mirror. How then shall we pretend to speak as if by searching we could find out God Himself? How shall we dare to utter such a thought, when there is not a word in our lips but He, without any telling Him, knows it altogether? Only this we may be sure of, " He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice." He is good as He is great; and though with Him "is terrible majesty," yet "he will not afflict;" "He doth not," as the prophet writes, "he doth not afflict willingly, nor grieve the children of men." Lam. 3. 33. It is not then for Him to give account even to the wisest of mankind. On the contrary, it is fitting for all mankind always to stand in awe of God.

Lord, let us both fear Thee for thy greatness, and also love Thee for thy goodness. Unsearchable as is thy wisdom, and thy ways past finding out, so also is thy love beyond all conception great, and thy mercy over all thy works.

Jehovah answereth Job out of the whirlwind.

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.

4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it brake forth, as if it had issued out of the womb?

9 When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling band for it,

10 And brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors,

11 And said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy proud waves be stayed? 12 Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days; and caused the dayspring to know his place;

13 That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, that the wicked might be shaken out of it?

14 It is turned as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment.

15 And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken.

16 Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? or hast thou walked in the search of the depth?

17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare, if thou knowest it all.


The ignorance of man ought to make him humble.

There is in the style of all Holy Scripture an air of something more than human, a sacred solemnity, which distinguishes it plainly from all other writings whatsoever. But especially when almighty God is represented as speaking in his own person, the language rises to a degree of sublimity, appropriate, as far as human language can be, to the majesty of the divine character. Elihu, as God's minister, had prepared the way for the demonstration of power, with which it pleased God on this occasion to rebuke the murmurs of his afflicted servant. But the minister is now silent; and the Lord Himself condescends to speak to Job; and out of the whirlwind there now issue words spoken without lips, which we marvel how man could hear and live. Let us thank God, that these words have been written for our use. Let us read, and study them, with as much of reverent devotion, as if they were thus spoken in our ears by God.

"Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without know

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