Imatges de pÓgina
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Job describeth his sufferings of mind and body.

15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.

16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me. 17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season; and my sinews take no rest.

18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.

19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.

20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.

21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.

22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my sub

stance.

23 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living. 24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction. 25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?

26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me and when I waited for light, there came darkness.

27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.

28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.

29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.

30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.

31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep. LECTURE 809.

The happiness of resignation to the will of God.

St. Paul, referring to the extraordinary privations and sufferings of himself and his fellow labourers, writes thus: "I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men." 1 Cor. 4. 9. If the apostles were the last, at least of those recorded in Scripture, as instances of extreme suffering, we may regard Job as one of the first or earliest. And when we read his own account of what he had to undergo, we shall be inclined to look upon him with the deepest interest, and to think it not improbable, that angels as well as men must have felt concerned in his afflictions. For surely that which an evil spirit is permitted to inflict, for the trial of man's faith and patience, good angels are allowed to feel for and compassionate, and in God's due time are commissioned to relieve. And it may help us, in bearing patiently and cheerfully whatsoever it shall please God to lay upon us, if we reflect, that they in heaven who have joy in our repentance, probably also have pity for our sorrows.

But the sufferings of those who suffer patiently, are a spectacle to angels, not only as moving them to heavenly compassion, but also as giving them fresh reason to adore the wisdom and the goodness of Almighty God. They doubtless see further than we can do into the marvellous dispensations of his providence. They doubtless understand, more clearly than we are able, how all things, even the most painful agonies of body and of mind, are made to work together for good to them that love God. See Rom. 8. 28. Let us try to believe entirely that so it is, though we are unable to comprehend how it can be. Let us contemplate these dreadful sufferings of Job, with an unhesitating conviction, that God did not willingly inflict one of them, and that He would not have inflicted any of them, but for good reasons well known to Him, all issuing from that one all sufficient source of all God's dealings, namely, his universal love.

To this point then let us prepare our minds beforehand, that if we should be visited with any of these sad afflictions enumerated by Job, we might stedfastly maintain the conviction, that He who rules in heaven and in earth, would not permit them but for good. On the head of this his faithful servant He let Satan heap at once reverse of circumstances, disease of body, and terrors of mind; days of affliction, and sleepless nights; loathsome sores, and the painful apprehension that God had become averse to hear his prayers. In this complicated agony Job saw no prospect of relief except in death, no comfort but in the thought that God would not stretch out his hand to afflict in the grave. The remembrance of his own compassionate conduct, in times past, embittered the cruel usage which he now met with from those, at whose hands he looked for good. And whether he thought of the unkindness of his friends, or of his own disfigured countenance, and unseemly cries, he felt himself fit company for the monsters of the desert, rather than for his fellow creature man. Most pitiable case! Most awful spectacle! Yet most consolatory the thought, that all this was not the punishment that flows from wrath, but the chastisement that proceeds from love. And Job lived to know that thus it was. And Job's transitory sufferings, and his happy end, are written in the Scriptures, in order that we might know this also. Happy they, who learn so devoutly the lessons of God's word, as not to need the correction of his rod! Happy all, who, whether learning from the instances of others, or made a spectacle of suffering themselves, attain to the grace of thoroughly resigning themselves, their souls and bodies, to the good pleasure of Almighty God!

PART V. 0. T.

H

Job setteth forth his behaviour in private life.
root out all mine increase.

1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?

2 For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?

3 Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity? 4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps? 5 If I have walked with vanity, my foot hath hasted to deceit;

6 Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.

7 If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;

8 Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman; or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door ;

10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.

11 For this is an heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.

12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would

13 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;

14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?

15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

16 If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;

17 Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;

18 (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;) 19 If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;

20 If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;

21 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:

22 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.

23 For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.

LECTURE 810.

Of being restrained from sin by a sense of God's majesty.

After describing his upright character in public life, and the respect in which he had been held, Job broke off his discourse, to bemoan the melancholy change in his condition, from the highest honour to the most abject scorn. See ch. 29. 30. He now returns to the account of his own conduct; and in order to complete his

answer to the argument of his friends, and to shew that he had been pious as well as prosperous, he sets forth the morality of his private life. It is remarkable that in Job's view of moral character, we find him approaching at the outset very near to the religion of the heart, set before us as all important in the New Testament. When he would refrain from the act of sin, he felt that he ought not to allow himself to think of it. And to prevent his thoughts from taking an evil course, he knew that he must make a covenant with his eyes. Even as our Lord has fully explained to us, that to look and lust is to commit adultery in the heart. See Matt. 5. 28. He was well aware how apt the heart is to walk, as he expresses it, after the eyes. And by way of checking the lust of the eye, he called to mind how surely God saw all his steps, and what a destruction is most certainly prepared for the wicked. He knew too how closely one sin is connected with another; and how easily he whose heart is deceived by a woman is led to acts of the most mean deceit as well as of the most cruel injustice. He considered himself bound to treat his servants, and even his slaves, with equity; as knowing that he also had a Master in heaven. One who made both them and him. He would have thought himself to blame if not bountiful to the widow and the orphan, and willing to share his abundance with all who were in want. And to have taken advantage of his rank and station, to oppress the poor and helpless, he was aware that this would have made each act of oppression the greater sin. Of acts like these, he here protests that he was guiltless. And he speaks of having been restrained from these abominable sins, not only by his dread of the terrors of the Lord, but also by his sense of the divine majesty. "For destruction from God was a terror unto me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure."

Let these be the thoughts, and not the fear of man, nor simply the fear of punishment, that restrain us from the sins here spoken of. Let it be the thought of God's greatness, yea, and also of his goodness, the thought of his always seeing us, yea, and of his always loving us, let these be the thoughts we call in to our aid, when tempted to acts, words, or thoughts, of impurity or deceit, of unkindness or oppression. "How can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?" Gen. 39. 9. This was the reflexion of Joseph, when tempted to commit adultery. After thousands of years, man remains liable to the like temptations, and will find it his wisdom to resist Satan by means of the like reflexion: How dare I do that which has been forbidden by One so great and good as God? How dare I transgress his will, ever present as He is to witness what I do, all just as He has declared that He is to punish sin; and all merciful as He has proved Himself to pardon repentant sinners?

Job concludeth his account of his manner of life.

24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;

25 If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much; 26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;

27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand:

28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.

29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:

30 Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.

31 If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh we cannot be satisfied. 32 The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.

33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom :

34 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?

35 Oh that one would hear me ! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.

36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a

crown to me.

37 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him. 38 If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;

39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:

40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended. LECTURE 811.

Of being willing to abide death and judgment.

Here we find other fundamental points of morality, set forth by Job on principles very nearly approaching those which we meet with in the Gospel. How closely for instance does he connect covetousness with idolatry, the saying to gold, "Thou art my confidence," with the saying to the sun or to the moon, Thou art my god! How deeply does he search into the spirit of revenge; and how thoroughly does he renounce it in all its forms, and under the most enticing circumstances! How well was he aware of the danger of trying to hide our sinfulness from God! How lightly did he account of the displeasure of the multitude, never refraining from good words or from good actions, with a view to the approbation of the world! Well would it be if all they who are instructed in the Gospel, could protest, with as clear a conscience as the patriarch of old, against the sins of covetousness, idolatry, revenge, inhospitality to the poor, attempting to deceive the all seeing God, standing in awe of the evil world,

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