Imatges de pÓgina

Zophar declareth the end of the oppressor.

19 Because he hath oppressed and hath forsaken the poor; because he hath violently taken away an house which he builded not;

20 Surely he shall not feel quietness in his belly, he shall not save of that which he desired.

21 There shall none of his meat be left; therefore shall no man look for his goods.

22 In the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits: every hand of the wicked shall come upon him.

23 When he is about to fill his belly, God shall cast the fury of his wrath upon him, and shall rain it upon him while he is eating.

weapon, and the bow of steel shall strike him through.

25 It is drawn, and cometh out of the body; yea, the glittering sword cometh out of his gall: terrors are upon him.

26 All darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that is left in his tabernacle.

27 The heaven shall reveal his iniquity; and the earth shall rise up against him.

28 The increase of his house shall depart, and his goods shall flow away in the day of his wrath.

29 This is the portion of a wicked man from God, and the heritage appointed unto him by

24 He shall flee from the iron God.


Against the abuse of riches and authority.

It is painful to observe, in this passage, clear proof of the great extent to which the oppression of the weak by the powerful prevailed in very early times. Some men have indeed ignorantly supposed, that in the early ages of the human race, all men were equal in riches, rank, and power. But it is obvious to reason, that the natural inequality amongst men in strength of body or of mind must soon have led to difference in station; even if such difference had not arisen, by God's ordinance, from the natural relationships of father and child, of brother and sister, of husband and wife. Out of these relationships, together with the respect naturally paid to the first born among brethren, and the sense of property, and the rights of inheritance, it appears that the frame and order of society grew up as fast as the growing numbers of mankind, of society like to that which has ever since prevailed amongst all the nations of the earth. And in such society, it has undoubtedly always been the will of God, that while the poor should be contented, the rich should be poor in spirit, whilst they who are under authority should be subject for conscience sake, they who are in authority should rule for the same conscience sake, with a single eye to the benefit of those, over whom it has pleased God to make them rulers.

But see how grossly such authority was abused as early as the times of Job! See how plainly Zophar could describe the case of those who oppress and forsake the poor; who violently take away that which they have not built; who, being rich and increased with goods, are apt to trust in their wealth as a sufficiency, and are encouraged thereby to live without God in the world! This is a fearful case, as described by Zophar. And, alas! it is no uncommon case, even in Christian times and countries. It is not more uncommon for the great to be oppressive, than for the poor to be discontented. It is not more uncommon for them that are in authority to abuse their power, and to rule with a view to gaining their own ends, than it is for those who are subject to authority to murmur, and resist, and rebel. There are faults in all classes and all ranks. And the word of God spares none; but rather holds up to every one, in every station, the mirror of his own besetting sins; that each may take warning, and escape; may repent, and amend, and lead a new life, that iniquity be not his ruin.

Here then let those who possess riches or power be taught to beware of the temptations which beset them, and watch that they never are prevailed upon to oppress the poor, or to lord it over the weak and helpless. Let such an one remember that his greatness is not his own, but is a talent entrusted to his care; to be used, not for the gratification of his own passions, but for the good of his fellow creatures, to the praise of the glory of God. Let him not say, whatsoever his heart is set upon, I can do this thing, therefore I will; I can purchase this enjoyment, or compel this submission, therefore, whether it be right or wrong, allowable or forbidden, mine it shall be forthwith. Let him be assured, that if this be the temper of his mind, "in the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits." Though he should not be disappointed in the attainment of his object, he shall not have satisfaction in possessing it. Or however much he may enjoy the possession, he shall not be able to keep it long. Whether he be harassed with remorse, or have his conscience lulled in fatal slumber, in either case his sin will find him out; and for whatsoever wrong he inflicts upon his brethren, or dishonour he offers unto God, retribution is at hand. Death with "the iron weapon," and "the bow of steel," will prove too strong for the strongest. Then will follow horrors indescribable; sometimes called "outer darkness," Matt. 22. 13; sometimes "everlasting burnings;" Is. 33. 14. Or to use the words of Zophar, "all darkness shall be hid in his secret places: a fire not blown," that is to say, not kindled by man, "shall consume him." Or to apply the corresponding language of Isaiah, "Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it." Is. 30. 33.

Job maintaineth that the wicked do sometimes prosper.
of the organ.

1 But Job answered and said, 2 Hear diligently my speech, and let this be your consolations. 3 Suffer me that I may speak; and after that I have spoken, mock on.

4 As for me, is my complaint to man? and if it were so, why should not my spirit be troubled? 5 Mark me, and be astonished, and lay your hand upon your mouth.

6 Even when I remember I am afraid, and trembling taketh hold on my flesh.

7 Wherefore do the wicked live, become old, yea, are mighty in power?

8 Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes.

9 Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them.

10 Their bull gendereth, and faileth not; their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf.

11 They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance.

12 They take the timbrel and harp, and rejoice at the sound

13 They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.

14 Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. 15 What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?

16 Lo, their good is not in their hand: the counsel of the wicked is far from me.

17 How oft is the candle of the wicked put out? and how oft cometh their destruction upon them? them? God distributeth sorrows in his anger.

18 They are as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away.

19 God layeth up his iniquity for his children: he rewardeth him, and he shall know it.

20 His eyes shall see his destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty.

21 For what pleasure hath he in his house after him, when the number of his months is cut off in the midst?


Of looking not to the things of time but to those of eternity. There is but little asperity in this reply of Job, compared with that which he had previously indulged in, under the provocation given him by his friends. With a deep sense of the difficulty of the subject on which he was entering, he maintains, in contradiction to the tenour of their argument, that the wicked do not uniformly suffer in this present life. He admits indeed that they do suffer frequently; not however without many exceptions, sufficient to overthrow the conclusion of his friends, that because he suffered, therefore he must be a wicked man. Many times, he declares, the wicked attain to length of days and eminence of power. They live to see their children grow up and flourish. They have neither affliction nor the dread of it. They prosper

in their flocks and herds, the increase of which was the chief source of wealth among the patriarchs. They prosper in the numbers of their children; and, together with their families, they spend their days in ease and entertainment, until the time of their going down to the grave. "Therefore they say unto God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?"

A most faithful description this of the thoughts of the ungodly! A most true and awful account of language which may even now be heard from many presumptuous lips, of feelings which even now are harboured in many unconverted hearts! Many had rather have nothing at all to do with God, as long as they can help it. They drive away as far as possible all thought of Him. They shrink from all mention of his name. They take no pains to know his ways. They do no acts with a view to serving Him. And they never really pray to Him at all. That God should allow such men to live at all, much more to live and prosper, is indeed a thing strange to reflect upon. And well may we with Job be afraid when we remember it, well may trembling take hold on our flesh. For assuredly "their good is not in their hand;" their prosperity is not dependent on their own will; it is purposely allowed to them by God for his own greater glory. Their impunity for the present betokens all the more sore punishment to overtake them in the end. Their safety for a time, not being improved as a season of repentance, hardens them in sin, confirms them in ungodliness, and seals them unto endless perdition.

But Job would not have his friends lay hold on what he said, as if he thought that the wicked always thus fared well; whence they would have been apt to charge him with giving the preference to evil courses. He therefore testifies, that oftentimes their light is extinguished, and their destruction overtakes them in the midst of their prosperity; God distributing sorrows in his anger. Then they become "as stubble before the wind, and as chaff that the storm carrieth away." Their iniquity is also visited on their children, and they are made to feel and know that they suffer for their sins. They see the sad sight of their own calamity, and drink the dregs of the cup of the divine displeasure. And they are cut off in the midst of their enjoyments here, as well as reserved for the judgment of hereafter. But what comparison is there between the two? What a mere earnest of eternal misery is the worst that can befal the wicked now! Oh, let us ever keep our thoughts fixed upon eternity; and let us direct our hopes and fears, whether for ourselves or for our brethren, not to the things seen, but to those which are unseen; not towards prosperity or adversity on earth, but to the everlasting joys of heaven, and to the endless torments of hell!

Job accounteth for the prosperity of the wicked. 22 Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high.

23 One dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet. 24 His breasts are full of milk, and his bones are moistened with marrow.

25 And another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure.

26 They shall lie down alike in the dust, and the worms shall cover them.

27 Behold, I know your thoughts, and the devices which ye wrongfully imagine against me.

28 For ye say, Where is the house of the prince? and where are the dwelling places of the wicked?

29 Have ye not asked them that go by the way? and do ye not know their tokens,

30 That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath.

31 Who shall declare his way to his face? and who shall repay him what he hath done?

32 Yet shall he be brought to the grave, and shall remain in the tomb.

33 The clods of the valley shall be sweet unto him, and every man shall draw after him, as there are innumerable before him.

34 How then comfort ye me in vain, seeing in your answers there remaineth falsehood?


The wicked are reserved for future judgment.

That Almighty God knows all things, is a consideration closely connected with the certainty that He governs all things. And it appears to have been by connecting these two doctrines in his mind, and holding fast to the conviction of their truth, that Job began to see some light in the perplexity surrounding him; at least sufficient to save him from assenting to the mistaken notions of his friends. "Shall any teach God knowledge? seeing he judgeth those that are high." This means that He must know what is best; and that He governs high and low, rich and poor, good and evil; insomuch that nothing happens but as He thinks fit. All therefore must be ordered for the best by God; however hard it may be for man to reconcile the things which God allows, with the holiness, and justice, and goodness, which are essentially his. All must be ordered for the best, though many things are ordered otherwise than as man would suppose right; as for instance, though one man may fare well and another ill, both having as far as we can see deserved alike; "one dieth in his full strength, being wholly at ease and quiet;" "and another dieth in the bitterness of his soul, and never eateth with pleasure." And again, all, whether good or evil, return alike to the dust from which they were taken; all alike become the food of worms.

Job knew that these things were true, that there was, in point of fact, no sure, uniform, and full retribution of good and evil in this present life; however near an approach God might be

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