Imatges de pÓgina
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of the murderer, the thief, and the adulterer? What can more plainly prove the lost and ruined state of men through the corruption of their nature, than that such acts should have prevailed, so soon as this after the fearful warning of the flood; and also that from that time, to the present, they should have been of frequent occurrence? What can more plainly prove, that they who do them are selfcondemned, than their horror of being brought to light in their misdeeds? What can more painfully illustrate the horrible degree of wickedness to which men had arrived before the preaching of the Gospel, than that acts like these were done in open daylight, and that men were found who not only did the same, but had pleasure in them that did them? See Rom. 1. 32. And what can be a stronger proof of the power of Christ's true religion, than the fact, that where it has been professed, even though not received into the heart, it has repressed the shamelessness of sins like these, and has taught them to creep back into the depths of darkness, if not out of regard to God, at least out of respect to man?

Other enormities are next specified by Job. And he contends that those who practise them "are exalted for a little while," however soon afterwards they may be "gone and brought low." He is equally willing to admit that "they are taken out of the way as all other, and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn." The grave consumes them, as heat and drought consume the waters of melting snow. Their birth is forgotten in their death; and the form which was but now the mother's joy, becomes the food of worms. Thus their wickedness is brought to an end; it is "broken as a tree." But then this is by means of death, which is the lot of all men. And this, therefore, did not justify the ground taken by the friends of Job, namely, that heavy affliction in this life is uniformly the lot of the wicked, and that, if dispensed to the righteous, it could not be reconciled with the attributes of God. Job, for his part, defied his friends to prove that they were right. His consciousness of integrity, and his own experience of affliction, united to convince him that his friends were wrong. He was sure, therefore, that it must be consistent with the perfect truth, goodness, and justice of the Lord, to dispense poverty, sickness, and sorrow to his faithful servants. But how this was consistent he knew not as yet. He had not seen, as we have, how God was pleased to make the Captain of our salvation perfect through sufferings. See Heb. 2. 10. He had not been made to feel this precious truth, familiar to the mind of the afflicted Christian, "whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." Heb. 12. 6. Let us, who know these things, be always prepared to rejoice in tribulation; and instead of grudging the prosperity of the wicked, let us rather tremble, in the midst of thankfulness, to receive at the hands of God unmingled prosperity for ourselves.

PART V. O. T.

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Bildad urgeth God's greatness and man's sinfulness.

1 Then answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said,

2 Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places.

3 Is there any number of his armies? and upon whom doth not his light arise?

4 How then can man be jus

tified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?

5 Behold even to the moon, and it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight. 6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

LECTURE 802.

That we, being justified through Christ, rejoice in hope of glory. It is now the turn of Bildad to speak; and we may observe that he does not attempt to gainsay the things stated by Job to be facts. Rather he dwells eloquently on the greatness and the majesty of God; and hence he argues the folly of any man's attempting to be justified with Him. That which he says on this subject is most strictly true, and most profitable for us to bear ever in mind. That which he meant to imply against Job does not follow in the sense in which he meant it. For if no one born of woman be clean with God, this was true not only of Job, but also of those upright men, whom Bildad and his friends supposed to be always blest with prosperity. If, then, they could be justified, so might Job. If they could be rewarded, without being justified, so might Job. In short, Bildad's argument comprehended all men alike; and therefore it did not touch the main point at issue, relating to the difference between one man and another. True though it were that man is but as a worm compared to God, and altogether unclean in his sight, it might still be true, or it might not, that man is never afflicted except for sin, never signally afflicted except for having been a very great and grievous sinner. But though this, the main point in the discussion, is not touched at all by Bildad's argument, there is one point in Job's part of the conference, on which the words of Bildad seem to press with weight, and that is the eagerness which Job expressed to enter upon his trial before God. And probably it was to this that Bildad intended that his words should chiefly be applied. To this consideration let us now apply them, as it concerns ourselves. How is it that in any case we can bear to think of death with composure, when we remember, that as we are when we die so we shall be when we are judged? How can we contemplate with peace of mind, much less with hope and joy, the thought of that day in which God has appointed to judge the world in righteousness? If we have any such hopes, any such rejoicing in hope, have we sufficiently considered who God is, and who we ourselves are? He how great, and we how feeble? He how holy, and we how vile? Have we remembered that,

as Bildad reminds us, "Dominion and fear are with him, he maketh peace in his high places?" How improbable then, that He should admit into the heavens wherein He dwells, beings so full of strife within themselves, and so apt to strive with one another, as men are! "Is there any number of his armies?" He needs not, then, we may be sure, He needs not our services; He can compel us, let us be aware, by legions of angels, if He should so think fit, both to do all his will, and to suffer all his pleasure. "And upon whom doth not his light arise?" He can see all men, yea, and angels also, good spirits and evil, and the thoughts of each. "How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?" What thoughts or actions can we have, that are fit to be seen by Him, who is "of purer eyes than to behold evil," and will "not look upon iniquity?" Hab. 1. 13. "Behold, even to the moon, it shineth not; yea, the stars are not pure in his sight." Bright as these radiant orbs appear to us, and free from all spot as is the lustre with which they adorn the vault of night, yet compared with the glory in which God dwells, the light of the stars must be considered dim, and the moon is as though it shined not at all. "How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man. which is a worm?" Insignificant we feel ourselves to be; and not only so, but also by reason of our sinfulness vile and hateful in the sight of God. And wonderful it seems, that we should in any case be able to attain to a hopeful looking for of judgment, or to look for it with any thing short of lively fear.

But even Job had attained to this; and that, without presumption, as we suppose, by faith in a Redeemer who was yet to come. We, for our parts, know of his having come, and of his having wrought redemption for us by his death. And, "therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Rom. 5. 1, 2. We have peace at present. We have a joyful hope for the future. The greatness of the God before whom we shall appear does not dismay us. For even He it is who gave his Son to be our Saviour. The consciousness of our having been made vile by sin, neither can this prevent us from rejoicing. Because we know "that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners." 1 Tim. 1. 15. And we know that if we have repented, and have been converted, our sins will be found to be blotted out, "when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." Acts 3. 19. And therefore trusting in his merits, not in our own, and working not in our own strength but his, we find it consistent with a deep sense of our own unworthiness, and with a lowly reverence for God's greatness, still to be "always looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God."

2 Pet. 3. 12.

Job sheweth that he also can set forth the greatness of God.

1 But Job answered and said, 2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength? 3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?

4 To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?

5 Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.

6 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering. 7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.

9 He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his clouds upon it.

10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.

11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.

12 He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.

13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.

14 Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand? LECTURE 803.

8 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.

That we ought to vie with each other in glorifying God. It appears to be Job's intention, in these words, to shew, by way of reply to Bildad, that he needed not his friend to teach him the excellency of the power of God. "How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?" A great assistance truly to instruct one who knows these things so well as I do, who can tell, quite as well as you can, of the might and majesty of the Lord, as compared with the weakness and vileness of man. Thou hast spoken as if counselling one destitute of all wisdom, and hast merely declared that which is at all hands agreed upon. And this thou hast done to one whose knowledge in these matters is at least equal to thine own; doing it with the air of one animated by a spirit of wisdom which demands my entire deference. After this scornful beginning, Job proceeds to give an instance, that he also can speak with eloquence on the same subject as Bildad; and thus he happily turns from reproving his friend to praising and magnifying God. Would that his friends and he had throughout confined their strife to trying points like this, which could extol most highly the greatness of the Lord! Would that all the bitterness of religious controversy amongst us were turned into a holy emulation, and a vieing with each other, as to which of us can most abundantly glorify God, not only with our lips, but also with our lives!

Very edifying is the account of God's creative power, to which

Job proceeds to give utterance. The heavens, the earth, and that which is beneath the earth, are regarded in one comprehensive view, as the workmanship of the almighty Hand. First the wonders of the deep are mentioned, their living inhabitants. And perhaps there is here also an allusion to those former inhabitants of the waters, now nowhere to be met with alive, whose gigantic remains have lately excited so much attention and astonishment amongst us. "Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof." Then we are told, that "hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering." The grave, which we close so carefully, is uncovered before God; and the place of departed spirits, if place it can properly be called, invisible and unsearchable as it is to us, is all open in his sight. Next we have a most expressive description of the firmament stretched out over our heads, and of the earth as it hangs on nothing but itself. How lively also and just is the account here given us, of the manner in which water is stored up for us in the clouds, bound as it were in bales, and the fastening not rent, until the rain is needed for our use! And how sublime is the notion of God's own abode, as far as He who is present every where can have any where a dwelling place of his own, how sublime is the notion of that dwelling place, conveyed by the simple statement, that it is withheld from view; we beholding both the clouds and the sky above them, and also the stars that spangle all the firmament, and yet not seeing to the throne of the most High! He it is who " hath compassed the waters with bounds;" having declared by his word, after the flood, that they should never again destroy all flesh; see Gen. 9. 15; having promised, that "while the earth remaineth, seed time and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night, shall not cease." Gen. 8. 22. "The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof;" they are afraid to disobey his orders, they are terrified by the manifestation of his wrath against sinners, in the flood which He brought upon the world of the ungodly. "He divideth the sea with his power; and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud." He can master with equal ease the most mighty elements, and the most haughty spirits; He can say, either to the raging ocean, or to rebel man," Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further; and here shall thy proud waves be stayed." Ch. 38. 11. For it was by his Spirit that the heavens were made and furnished with worlds, and also that the inhabitants thereof were formed, yea, even those which oppose themselves unto Him, yea, even "that old serpent, called the devil." Rev. 12. 9. And all these things now recited are only "parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him?" How little has been told in saying all these things! Who then can comprehend the greatness of his majesty?" The thunder of his power who can understand ?"

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