Imatges de pÓgina
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Job concludeth his first answer to his three friends.

13 Oh that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!

14 If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

15 Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands.

16 For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?

17 My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity.

18 And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place.

19 The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man.

20 Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away.

21 His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them.

22 But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn.

LECTURE 784.

The true use and advantage of earthly blessings.

Our life in this world once lost is irrecoverable. But we have a life in the world that is to come. This appears to have been the hope upon which Job relied, and which he expressed, though not without some obscurity and doubt, in the words which we are now considering. As to our present life being irretrievable, it might well strike Job as strange, that a being so active and intelligent as man, endowed with faculties so superior to those of any other of God's creatures here below, and disposed to enter with such lively pleasure into the enjoyment of all the blessings here placed within his reach, should be after a short career so entirely cut off from all his possessions, connexions, and relationships on earth, that "his come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them." We also, if we were not so familiar with the fact, should be apt to think this a matter hard to account for. And we might be led by inquiry to account for it on the principle suggested by the words of Job. It is because this life is only a state of preparation for another. It is because the next life is of infinite importance, compared with that which we here occupy for a short season.

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As surely as the mountains fall piece by piece, and so gradually decay, as surely as the waters falling drop by drop wear away the hardest rocks, and wash before them whatsoever grows within their reach, so surely does God bring to an end the life of

man, prevail against his strength, cut short his hope of continuance here, and send him away to another place. This is thé course of nature, and it cannot be altered; for the course of nature is the ordinance of God. This is the course of nature, and it need not be regretted. For however much we leave behind us when we go, however much we lose or seem to lose by dying, however much of usefulness and enjoyment may seem to be wasted in the world, by the constant departure of its short lived tenants: the truth is, that all is gained which God designs, every object which He has in view is secured, our souls are tried, our faith is proved, our steps are numbered, our sins are noted, our transgressions, yea and also our good works, are written down, and sealed up, and the record safely kept, until the appointed time for which we wait, until our change comes. Then will God call, and we shall answer. Then will God prove that He has not failed to remember the work of his hands. Then will it be seen, that in all the rich abundance of his workmanship, nothing is wasted, in all the wise arrangements of his providence nothing is misplaced; but that life and death, joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain, earnest expectation and patient waiting, all tend to the manifestation of God's great glory, and to the greatest possible good of all God's creatures.

For our own parts, the lesson to be learnt hence is this: that we ought to value every thing we have here, simply and solely in reference to its use in forwarding us and fitting us for eternity. How greatly ought this thought to moderate our eagerness in pursuing any earthly good! How much ought it to check our grief at the loss of every earthly blessing! How entirely ought it to change the views, with which we are inclined by nature, and encouraged by the world, to use and enjoy whatsoever we now possess! It is good for us to have it, only so far as the possession makes us thankful to God, and enables us to do service to Him, and to do good unto each other. It is good for us to enjoy it, only if the enjoyment turns our thoughts to God's goodness in providing for our pleasure, only if it helps to make us long the more entirely for those far better things which He has prepared for them that love Him. It is good for us to keep whatsoever He now bestows, only so long as He thinks fit to let us, only so far as we can keep it without murmuring when called upon to part with it, only so far as we can be all the while prepared to feel, that when it is taken away it is good for us to lose it. It is good for us to have it, or to be without it, to acquire, or to be deprived; it is good for us to wait here, and it is good for us to depart hence; if we in every case are always watching to obey God's will. It is good for us, because, through God's gracious appointment, it ministers to our endless happiness. It is good for us, because through his wonderful condescension it redounds to his divine glory.

Eliphaz findeth fault with what Job had said.

1 Then answered Eliphaz the Temanite, and said,

2 Should a wise man utter vain knowledge, and fill his belly with the east wind?

3 Should he reason with unprofitable talk? or with speeches wherewith he can do no good? 4 Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

5 For thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity, and thou choosest the tongue of the crafty.

6 Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I; yea, thine own lips testify against thee. 7 Art thou the first man that was born? or wast thou made before the hills?

8 Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?

know not? what understandest thou, which is not in us?

10 With us are both the grayheaded and very aged men, much elder than thy father.

11 Are the consolations of God small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee?

12 Why doth thine heart carry thee away? and what do thine eyes wink at,

13 That thou turnest thy spirit against God, and lettest such words go out of thy mouth?

14 What is man, that he should be clean? and he which is born of a woman, that he should be righteous?

15 Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.

16 How much more abominable and filthy is man, which drinketh

9 What knowest thou, that we iniquity like water?

LECTURE 785.

The best method of conciliating the ill tempered.

Of all Job's trials, none were perhaps more difficult to bear with patience, than the unfavourable construction which his friends persisted in putting on his case. And certainly he had been greatly provoked by their first series of speeches, and he had been led to speak in his reply angrily and scornfully. And now we see the ill effect of Job's hasty words, how they were the means of provoking Eliphaz to speak even more unkindly than before. But how naturally is this the consequence of giving utterance to anger and scorn! How true to our corrupt nature, as it is at present, is this picture of what human nature was, so many hundreds and thousands of years back! With due allowance made for difference of language and of manners, how exactly the same are the passions and infirmities of the human speakers in the book of Job, and those of which we are conscious in ourselves! In all this long interval human nature is not altered. The child of man, now born into the world, has the very same moral nature which the child of man had then. His corruption has not been the growth of ages, the effect of continual degeneracy in successive generations. But it was from the fall of our first parents that we all derived the very same taint of depravity.

And from that time to this we have all of us the same sins besetting us, all of us the same propensity to commit them, all the same need of an entire change of heart, ere we can abhor that which is evil, and love that which is good.

Let us examine then, are our hearts changed in respect to wrath, and strife, and evil speaking? If we are spoken to angrily, can we suppress the rising spirit of vexation, and reply with calmness and good temper? Or do we give way to the impulse of passion; and when we are reproached, answer reproachfully; when reviled, revile again? There are few points of duty, in which we are more frequently tempted to transgress. There are few, if any, in which the happiness of social and domestic life is more constantly put in jeopardy, and seriously affected. And many are the ways of self deceit, by which men are led to allow themselves in anger, and to vex the tempers of each other, consistently, as they suppose, with habits of devotion, and with the maintenance of a religious character. Some by a studied calmness, without kindness, contrive to triumph over those whom they oppose, and whose haste and heat is no further from true charity than the cold and sullen temper with which it is encountered. Some by a quick transition from rage to meekness think to make all smooth at once, and consider that they do no harm by the fury of the moment, or at least not more than they make amends for by the forgiveness which ensues. And some like Eliphaz give vent to the expression of their own wrath, under cover of announcing the declarations of divine truth; and whilst they really say that which is edifying in itself, concerning God's holiness and man's sinfulness, render all their admonition fruitless, by its being evidently intended not to edify but to mortify and condemn; not to glorify God, but to exalt and justify themselves. In approaching a fellow creature whose temper is provoked, and whom we desire to render calm and penitent, sensible of his sin, and desirous to amend, for his own advantage, and for God's glory, the very first thing we have to look to is the state of our own heart, and to watch that no root of bitterness lurks there, no pride or passion seeking for indulgence at the expense of our offending brother. More especially is this necessary, if we ourselves have been the cause of the provocation, whether intentionally or otherwise. First we must with prayer and deep searching of ourselves, attain to an entire calm within, the calm that comes of true affection, not the quieting of passion, but the energy of love. Having this sincere desire to do good for the real motive of what we say, we shall need no study of manner or of words, to give our brother the impression, that our address is not meant to add to his vexation, but to allay his pain. And when we have thus obtained access to his heart, we may safely attempt to plead that word and will of God, to which we prove that we have submitted our own tempers.

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Eliphaz dwelleth on the miserable end of the wicked.
bosses of his bucklers:

17 I will shew thee, hear me; and that which I have seen I will declare;

18 Which wise men have told from their fathers, and have not hid it:

19 Unto whom alone the earth was given, and no stranger passed among them.

20 The wicked man travaileth with pain all his days, and the number of years is hidden to the

oppressor.

21 A dreadful sound is in his ears: in prosperity the destroyer shall come upon him.

22 He believeth not that he shall return out of darkness, and he is waited for of the sword.

23 He wandereth abroad for bread, saying, Where is it? he knoweth that the day of darkness is ready at his hand.

24 Trouble and anguish shall make him afraid; they shall prevail against him, as a king ready to the battle.

25 For he stretcheth out his hand against God, and strengtheneth himself against the Almighty. 26 He runneth upon him, even on his neck, upon the thick

27 Because he covereth his face with his fatness, and maketh collops of fat on his flanks.

28 And he dwelleth in desolate cities, and in houses which no man inhabiteth, which are ready to become heaps.

29 He shall not be rich, neither shall his substance continue, neither shall he prolong the perfection thereof upon the earth.

30 He shall not depart out of darkness; the flame shall dry up his branches, and by the breath of his mouth shall he go away. 31 Let not him that is deceived trust in vanity for vanity shall be his recompence.

32 It shall be accomplished before his time, and his branch shall not be green.

33 He shall shake off his unripe grape as the vine, and shall cast off his flower as the olive.

34 For the congregation of hypocrites shall be desolate, and fire shall consume the tabernacles of bribery.

35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.

LECTURE 786.

The hopelessness of being opposed to Almighty God. Throughout this whole speech of Eliphaz, we find nearly the same topics dwelt upon, as those which he had at first brought forward. See Ch. 4. 5. He urges as before the perfect holiness of God, and thence argues that his judgments overtake the wicked and the wicked only; implying, that whatsoever Job's character might be with man, he must have been a very grievous sinner in the sight of God. In his former speech he had referred to a vision which he had seen, a vision of a supernatural kind. Now he strengthens his own statements, by the authority of the aged and wise and good, who agreed with him in thinking, that sooner or later the ungodly are sure to come unto destruction. And the men to whom he refers were those, he says, "Unto whom alone

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