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Job declareth his confidence in God's favourable decision.

ì Then Job answered and said, 2 Even to-day is my complaint bitter my stroke is heavier than my groaning.

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3 Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat!

4 I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments.

5 I would know the words which he would answer me, and understand what he would say unto

me.

6 Will he plead against me with his great power? No; but he would put strength in me.

7 There the righteous might dispute with him; so should I be delivered for ever from my judge.

8 Behold, I go forward, but he is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive him :

9 On the left hand, where he doth work, but I cannot behold him he hideth himself on the right hand, that I cannot see

him:

10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.

11 My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined.

12 Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food.

13 But he is in one mind, and who can turn him? and what his soul desireth, even that he doeth. 14 For he performeth the thing that is appointed for me and many such things are with him.

15 Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am afraid of him.

16 For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth

me:

17 Because I was not cut off before the darkness, neither hath he covered the darkness from my face.

LECTURE 799.

Of aiming at perfect love and perfect obedience.

In reply to the heavy charges brought against him, Job here solemnly declares his conviction, that whensoever it should please God to bring him to judgment, he should "come forth as gold." He felt that he had endeavoured to keep a conscience void of offence both towards God and towards man. See Acts 24. 16. And it was the consciousness of this that induced him to wish, that he might forthwith be put upon his trial. He longed to know where he might find God, with a view to pleading his cause before Him. He was persuaded, that God would not plead against him with all the might and majesty of divine power, but rather would give him help and strength to abide the trial. And gladly would he have appealed from such decisions as those of his friends, to the upright sentence of the Judge of all the earth. But he knew not where to find God, that he might obtain a

hearing. He was ready to say with those who are mentioned by the prophet Isaiah," Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour." Isai. 45. 15.

In the midst of this perplexity it was Job's comfort to believe, that God saw him, though he could not see God: "he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot hath held his steps, his way have I kept, and not declined. Neither have I gone back from the commandment of his lips; I have esteemed the words of his mouth more than my necessary food." A solemn assertion of the truth, made by Job not in vain glory, but in unaffected simplicity of heart, by way of reply to the charges brought against him by his friends, and in explanation of his earnest desire to have his case decided before the Lord. And to this he adds the acknowledgment, that he knew it was of no use for him to wish, in opposition to the mind of God, who would doubtless perform the things He had determined on against him, and who, in the order of his providence, dealt thus with many of his servants. And this, in the weakness of Job's nature, troubled him; for he knew not to what sufferings he might yet be exposed. He needed the exhortation. of St. James, "Be patient therefore, brethren." James 5. 7. And he had never heard, as we have, the encouraging assurance of St. Paul, "our light affliction which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory." 2 Cor. 4. 17.

But though in some things Job fell short of that which is proposed to every Christian's practice in the Gospel, though he knew not how to find Almighty God, as well as we, who have been plainly told by Christ, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no man cometh to the Father but by me;" John 14. 6; though in these respects it may be said of Job, as it was said by our Lord of John the Baptist, "he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he;" Matt. 11. 11; yet in many points Job has here set before us a pattern, which we, in the full enjoyment of Gospel light, find it hard to imitate. When we hear him describe his feelings, we might almost think that he had learnt from the words of St. John, that " herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment." 1 John 4. 17. When he states the manner of his practice, he speaks as if he were acquainted with these words of Christ, "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work." John 4. 34. How much more then ought we to bear these words in mind, to act up to the standard set before us in the Gospel, to aim in all we do at fulfilling the whole of God's commandments; and in all we feel to approach as near as possible, and daily to study to approach nearer, to that "perfect love which casteth out fear!" 1 John 4. 18.

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Job sheweth how men sin whilst judgment is delayed.

1 Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days?

2 Some remove the landmarks; they violently take away flocks, and feed thereof.

3 They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge.

4 They turn the needy out of the way: the poor of the earth hide themselves together.

5 Behold, as wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work; rising betimes for a prey: the wilderness yieldeth food for them and for their children. 6 They reap every one his corn in the field and they gather the vintage of the wicked.

7 They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.

8 They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.

9 They pluck the fatherless from the breast, and take a pledge of the poor.

10 They cause him to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf from the hungry;

11 Which make oil within their walls, and tread their winepresses, and suffer thirst.

12 Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them.

LECTURE 800.

It is good for us not to know the day of judgment.

We see here that it is no new thing for men to be very desirous to know the time of the universal judgment. "Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know him not see his days." God knows the time; why should He not reveal it to his faithful servants? Thus did Job inquire of old. And thus, in after times the disciples asked of our Lord, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" In answer to which questions, our Lord first warns us not to be deceived by false signs, and then tells us, "of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Matt. 24. 3, 36. Doubtless, then, it is good for us to be kept in a state of awful uncertainty; never knowing when that day will come, only knowing that it will come soon and suddenly. This is doubtless the best method for the trial of our faith, for the exercise of our patience, diligence, and love.

Job seems to have thought that this uncertainty encouraged men in sinning. For it was probably under this notion, that he recited the various acts of oppression which he had met with or observed, as frequently practised in his age and country. Such were removing landmarks, plundering flocks, and feeding thereof, depriving the widow and the fatherless of their cattle, injuring the needy, and making the poor hide themselves through fear.

Such was the practice of going forth in troops to plunder those who travelled through the wilderness, or to make a prey of the corn and vintage of those who laboured peaceably for their bread. "They reap every one his corn in the field;" each seizes by force on as much as he can carry. And "the wicked" to use the marginal translation, these wicked plunderers "gather the vintage.' They used also to strip men of their clothing, leaving them nothing but the bare rock for their shelter. Whilst others, equally unprincipled, but not so openly indulging in robbery and wrong, would seize upon fatherless children as their slaves, under the plea that they were pledged to them for debt. Or, on the like pretext, they would take the poor man's clothing, or carry off the sheaf from the hungry. They would constrain others to labour in making oil for them, or wine, without giving them enough to quench their thirst. And whilst all this wickedness was practised with seeming impunity in the country, it was no less true that "Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly to them;" that is to say, God does not straightway call them to account for it.

In several of the particulars here mentioned, there appeared to be an allusion to the charges which Eliphaz had brought against Job. See Ch. 22. 6-9. And it is probable that Job meant to imply, that since these things were notoriously practised with impunity for a time, it could not follow from his being heavily afflicted that he must have been guilty of such practices. But the chief consideration pressing on his mind, was the encouragement apparently afforded to such evil deeds, by the uncertainty of the day of retribution. And doubtless this does, in a certain sense, encourage the like oppressive practices still prevalent in the world. "We walk by faith, not by sight." 2 Cor. 5. 7. And they who walk by sight only are ever apt to ask within themselves, "Where is the promise of his coming?" 2 Pet. 3. 4. And on the presumption that all things will continue as they have done, they encroach on their neighbour's land, they rob their neighbour's flock, they enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, they steal lawlessly, or they wrong under cover of law, and they make both town and country ring with the groans of want and nakedness, of brutish ignorance or slavish toil, whilst they themselves in ease and idleness, in frivolous amusement, or in the vain pursuit of fruitless knowledge, are faring sumptuously every day. Such are the ways of those who walk by sight and not by faith. Such is their abuse of that order of things, which God has in his wisdom thought fit to establish, as the best for our trial and improvement. These very abuses, let us remember, these very abuses of the wicked, as they are surely overruled for God's greater glory, so also if we patiently put up with them, and persevere in loving God, will be made to work together for our good.

Job concludeth his 13 They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof.

14 The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. 15 The eye also of the adulterer waiteth for the twilight, saying, No eye shall see me: and disguiseth his face.

16 In the dark they dig through houses, which they had marked for themselves in the daytime: they know not the light.

17 For the morning is to them even as the shadow of death: if one know them, they are in the terrors of the shadow of death. 18 He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards.

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19 Drought and heat consume

reply to Eliphaz.
the snow waters: so doth the
grave those which have sinned.
20 The womb shall forget him;
the worm shall feed sweetly on
him; he shall be no more re-
membered; and wickedness shall
be broken as a tree.

21 He evil entreateth the barren that beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow.

22 He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth up, and no man is sure of life.

23 Though it be given him to be in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes are upon their ways. 24 They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn.

25 And if it be not so now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth?

LECTURE 801.

The evil of rebelling against the light.

Here we have other instances of iniquity set forth, such as prevailed in the times of Job, and such as are, alas! not uncommon in our own age and country. And with us, as with them of old, this evil comes of rebelling against the light. "They know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof." In the instances of murder, theft, and adultery, there is rebellion against the natural light of day, a preference of the darkness of the night. But this appears to be connected, in the mind of Job, with that loving of spiritual darkness rather than spiritual light, which is the case with all whose deeds are evil. This it is that estranges men from the Gospel. And then the being estranged from the Gospel, the rebelling against the light of Christ, this confirms men in their sins, and ensures their condemnation. And so has our Lord plainly taught us, saying, "This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." John 3. 19, 20.

What, indeed, but wilful ignorance, and hardened rebellion against the light of truth, can account for such gross violence done to conscience, much more to the revealed will of God, as the acts

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