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Job lamenteth his misery and mortality.

1 My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me.

2 Are there not mockers with me? and doth not mine eye continue in their provocation?

3 Lay down now, put me in a surety with thee; who is he that will strike hands with me? 4 For thou hast hid their heart from understanding: therefore shalt thou not exalt them.

5 He that speaketh flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail.

6 He hath made me also a byword of the people; and aforetime I was as a tabret.

7 Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow.

s Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.

9 The righteous also shall hold

on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger.

10 But as for you all, do ye return, and come now for I cannot find one wise man among you.

11 My days are past, my purposes are broken off, even the thoughts of my heart.

12 They change the night into day: the light is short because of darkness.

13 If I wait, the grave is mine house: I have made my bed in the darkness.

14 I have said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister.

15 And where is now my hope? as for my hope, who shall see it?

16 They shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.

LECTURE 789.

How to meet death with joy and thankfulness.

In this chapter Job continues to lament his miserable condition, one while complaining of his friends, and then bewailing his own misery and mortality. He challenges Eliphaz to strike a bargain with him, not mentioning the terms, but probably meaning to offer something like a wager, that he would prove right, and his friends wrong, in respect to the integrity of his character. He also calls upon his friends to return to a better mind, saying, that he cannot find one wise man among them. He charges them with changing "the night into day," by which he perhaps means, that they called evil good and good evil, that they represented his case as one of no uncommon hardship, whereas he felt it to be a most inscrutable affliction. He describes himself as one hopeless of life, for whom the grave was waiting. He had become, he thought, a byword of the people." He had "said to corruption, Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister." And all this and more had been brought on him by God, when he was conscious to himself that he had served God truly,

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and when in fact he had served God so thoroughly, that God had Himself described him as "a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.” Ch. 1. 8.

This was the great source of Job's perplexity. He knew not how to reconcile the portion he received from God with the duty which he had faithfully discharged towards Him. It was at this that he apprehended the righteous would be astonished. This he thought would make the innocent jealous of the hypocrite. But though it was past his power to account for it, he had no doubt that every thing would be cleared up at the last. And he trusted, that however much it might astonish the good, they would nevertheless stedfastly persevere, and they that had clean hands would grow stronger and stronger. Let us lay to heart the rule here suggested for our practice. And however much we may be astonished or perplexed by any of God's dealings, let us still hold on our way faithful and rejoicing. Let us still add strength to strength, and grow in every Christian grace; knowing that in our heavenly course it is next to impossible to stand still, so that if we are not advancing in holiness of life, it is to be feared that we must be growing less diligent and devout.

Let us then press forward, in spite of every discouragement, arising either from what befals others, or from what may happen to ourselves. It is indeed a strange and trying sight when we see the righteous in deep affliction. Strange it is and trying to our natural apprehension. And for ourselves it is a trying thing to experience or look forward to the change from prosperity to adversity, from health to sickness, from life to death. So strange and trying is the thought of our mortality, much more the reality of our death, that we have been instructed by the church to pray to God, "Suffer us not in our last hour for any pains of death to fall from thee." (Burial Service.) Let us be aware beforehand that this is likely to prove a passage of great difficulty in our Christian course. Let us endeavour, by frequently reflecting on our mortality, to become familiar with the thought of it; and to say to corruption, "Thou art my father: to the worm, Thou art my mother, and my sister." But it will not be enough to reflect on the certainty of death. It will not make the thought of dying any the more welcome, merely to be frequently meditating on the time when the body shall be decaying in the grave. It was the hope of the resurrection, it was faith in Him who died for us and rose from the dead, these were the things which encouraged St. Paul to cry out triumphantly, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" These are the thoughts and feelings which will enable us, throughout our fearful conflict with the last enemy, to lift up oftentimes our voice, and always our heart, to God, with joy, saying, "Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 15. 55, 57.

Bildad with angry words reneweth his argument.

1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

2 How long will it be ere ye make an end of words? mark, and afterwards we will speak.

3 Wherefore are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight?

4 He teareth himself in his anger shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place?

5 Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine.

6 The light shall be dark in his tabernacle, and his candle shall be put out with him.

7 The steps of his strength shall be straitened, and his own counsel shall cast him down.

8 For he is cast into a net by his own feet, and he walketh upon a snare.

9 The gin shall take him by the heel, and the robber shall prevail against him.

10 The snare is laid for him in the ground, and a trap for him in the way.

11 Terrors shall make him afraid on every side, and shall drive him to his feet.

12 His strength shall be hun

ger bitten, and destruction shall be ready at his side.

13 It shall devour the strength of his skin: even the first born of death shall devour his strength.

14 His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.

15 It shall dwell in his tabernacle, because it is none of his : brimstone shall be scattered upon his habitation.

16 His roots shall be dried up beneath, and above shall his branch be cut off.

17 His remembrance shall perish from the earth, and he shall have no name in the street.

18 He shall be driven from light into darkness, and chased out of the world.

19 He shall neither have son nor nephew among his people, nor any remaining in his dwellings.

20 They that come after him shall be astonied at his day, as they that went before were affrighted.

21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked, and this is the place of him that knoweth not God.

LECTURE 790.

Of waiting for the issue of our conduct until another life.

In this second address of Bildad, he speaks as one who had taken great offence at Job, for making light of the counsel offered by his friends. He complains that Job had treated the counsel of his friends with no more respect, than if they had been so many creatures devoid of understanding, such as in their passion tear themselves to pieces. A common practice, on the part of those who take offence, to exaggerate, and interpret in an overstrained sense, the expressions at which they are offended. And he considers, that if Job were to have his way, the earth must be forsaken for him, and the rock removed out of his place. That is

to say, he implies, that Job requires things no less unreasonable than these. And this is another usual way of widening the breach, when strife has once begun, for a man to charge his opponent with holding opinions much more extravagant than he does, and to try to fasten on him consequences which he altogether disavows.

After this preface of angry words, Bildad returns to the position, which he and his companions had all along maintained; and describes, in still stronger language than before, the misery, which, as they conceived, God was sure to bring upon the wicked in this present life, and upon the wicked only. All this was plainly aimed at Job; and it amounted to telling him, that unless he owned his guilt and repented of it, he might expect to fare even worse than he had yet fared. Darkness would be his portion, weakness instead of strength, and instead of liberty captivity. He that had counted his friends as beasts, would himself be like one hunted down, driven into a corner, cast into a net, caught in a gin, terrified, famished, the prey of worms, here called "the first born of death," the victim of death, here called "the king of terrors." His tabernacle would be no longer his, but would be tenanted by desolation. He would be cut off root and branch. His memory would perish with him; and his posterity after him. And as to what he had said of upright men being astonished at the afflictions of the righteous, see Ch. 17. 8, it would rather be at the dreadful judgments of the wicked that both they that come after would be astonished, and they that witnessed them would be affrighted.

Allowing for the warmth of passion with which Bildad delivers these sentiments, we may consider them as expressing the general opinion of the patriarchal church, founded on their experience of God's dealings in his providence, and perhaps also on their knowledge of his revealed will. In the earlier ages of the world, it is probable that mankind were dealt with by God, as we treat human beings in their infancy, when they cannot look forward to any distance. The Law, which held out rewards and punishments in this life, is said to have been a schoolmaster to bring the Jews to Christ, see Gal. 3. 24, so perhaps, in the period before the Law, there was a system of divine proceeding suited to a world not yet of age for such a school as that of the Law. And it may have been one great object of the book of Job, when viewed in the issue of the whole argument, to teach mankind to wait longer than they had been used to do, for the reward of their good or evil doings. Let it teach us, who live in these last days, to look chiefly to another life, and to wait patiently for eternity; knowing as we do that the time is short, the day is at hand, and that " God is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." 2 Pet. 3. 9.

Job detaileth his afflictions, as grounds of pity.

Then Job answered and said, 2 How long will ye vex my soul, and break me in pieces with words?

3 These ten times have ye reproached me: ye are not ashamed that ye make yourselves strange

to me.

4 And be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself.

5 If indeed ye will magnify yourselves against me, and plead against me my reproach:

6 Know now that God hath overthrown me, and hath compassed me with his net.

7 Behold, I cry out of wrong, but I am not heard: I cry aloud, but there is no judgment.

8 He hath fenced up my way that I cannot pass, and he hath set darkness in my paths.

9 He hath stripped me of my glory, and taken the crown from my head.

10 He hath destroyed me on every side, and I am gone: and mine hope hath he removed like a tree.

11 He hath also kindled his wrath against me, and he count

eth me unto him as one of his enemies.

12 His troops come together, and raise up their way against me, and encamp round about my tabernacle.

13 He hath put my brethren far from me, and mine acquaintance are verily estranged from me.

14 My kinsfolk have failed, and my familiar friends have forgotten me.

15 They that dwell in mine house, and my maids, count me for a stranger: I am an alien in their sight.

16 I called my servant, and he gave me no answer; I entreated him with my mouth.

17 My breath is strange to my wife, though I entreated for the children's sake of mine own body. 18 Yea, young children despised me; I arose, and they spake against me.

19 All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me.

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.

LECTURE 791.

Of sympathy with sinners in their sufferings.

Job, in this reply to Bildad's second speech, complains as before of the conduct of his friends; and pleads his many and grievous afflictions, as reasons for them to pity him, rather than reproach him. Supposing that he had been guilty of all the wickedness with which they thought fit to charge him, still, he observes, the consequences, as they regarded them, were so bitter, that he was fully entitled to their sympathy. The power of the Almighty had overtaken him. He was distressed in mind by doubt and perplexity as to the true cause of his affliction, and he had in

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