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had trial of cruel mockings;' and Jeremiah says, “I was a derision to all my people, and their
song all the day. It is enough that holiness is in repute with God, for it never had, nor never will have credit in this world.
“ He now enters upon the argument, and in verses 5 and 6, lays down two positions in direct opposition to what Zophar asserts, verses 17, 20.
“ Verse 5. · He that is ready to slip with his feet, is as a lamp despised in the thoughts of him that is at ease.'
“ As a burning lamp is an emblem of a happy condition, so a dying lamp represents a miserable one.
They that slide should be supported. But he who falls under the weight of affliction has often the burden of contempt laid above it.
“ The afflicted are usually neglected; for the very best of men at ease are apt to be inattentive to others in affliction, and, in a certain degree, to despise them, which we do not only by reproaching them with our tongues, but by not sympathizing with, and assisting them with a brotherly fellow-feeling.
Though David was despised when he was eating ashes and drinking tears, Psal. xlii. yet he acted very differently. Psal. xxxv. · When they were sick, my clothing was sackcloth.' Happy they who are enabled to follow this example.
5. Upon the whole, it is as if Job had said to Zophar, Thou hast affirmed that the righteous man is as the shining light; but I say, he is a
despised lamp. Again, you have said that the eyes of the wicked shall fail, &c. whereas I
say, - Verse 6. "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly.'
“ God sometimes gives them the greatest worldly prosperity, who offer him the highest provocations. These treasures of good things which he bestows upon them gives them an opportunity to bring out those evils which were treasured up in their hearts; hence, observe, That to have wealth, without grace to use it to the glory of God, is a curse to the possessor, and often hurtful to all around him.
“ Job having checked the pride of his friends, and opposed Zophar's assertions, proceeds to give proof.
• Verse 7. But ask now the beasts and they shall teach thee, and the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee.'
“ All creatures have a teaching voice. The knowledge of natural things should be made subservient to spiritualimprovement;this world is a glass, wherein we may discern and converse with the invisible world.
“ It is usual to direct us to the irrational creatures, when we depart from or act below
Go to the ant thou sluggard, &c. Though they do not answer the questions put to them explicitly to the ear, yet they do it convincingly to the conscience. To meditate in a serious manner, on the peculiar properties of the beasts, is to be taught of them, as every true conclusion is the voice and answer of the creature.
" Verse 8. Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee, and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Zophar had said, canst thou by searching find out God? Yea, saith Job, I can find him, without much searching ; every thing I see, shows me God, and every object is a teacher to the ear. The earth, and the creatures, are mostly given to oppressors and robbers, and in this sense, the tabernacles of
“ But what is chiefly intended by Job, is expressed in the two verses following.
76 Verse 9. - Who knoweth not in all these, that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this ?'.
“ Verse 10. · In whose hand is the soul of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind
“ Though there is much to be learned from beasts, and fowls, &c. yet Job calls on them, in a special manner, to observe that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and that all these things are in his hand. Providence is as extensive as creation. Now, if providence, (wherein man usually acts with God,) act so much above man, that the whole is ascribed to God, how much more does creation declare itself to be the sole work of God? Some parts of creation excel others, but there is enough in any one of them to speak out who made it. Let us therefore glorify God, in whose hand our breath is, and all our ways, by carefully observing the operation of his hand, in all that happens, submitting cheerfully to his will in all things, and by depending upon him for all we need, either in this or the world to come.
« This is Job's first argument from the creatures, all of which acknowledge God their Maker, disposer, and preserver, they have their being and their well being with the changes and continuance of both from him.
“ Verse 11. Doth not the ear try words? and the mouth taste his meat?'
- The words seem to convey a reproof of the rash and inconsiderate judgment of Job's friends about what had been spoken. You have not pondered my speech, nor the arguments and reasons which I have produced in support of my opinion; or suppose it to refer to what Job's friends had offered. You have declared many things to me, and you
think that I have taken no notice of them ; but my ear hath tried your words as exactly as the palate of a mouth does in tasting meat.
« Our Saviour cautions us to take heed how we hear. The ear must be taught to hear by the spirit, or else we never can hear what the spirit saith. The senses are a door to the un. derstanding, and, acting jointly, they lay up treasures of knowledge; therefore
“ Verse 12. · With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.'
“ Experience is a great teacher, and by attentive observation much knowledge may be attained. Therefore, old men should show forth wisdom by their conduct and instructions, and then they are to be honoured and their counsel respected. But it is to be lamented that many have learned nothing of holy knowledge, even when their time is far spent, and so have nothing worthy of communicating to the succeeding race. To whom the Apostle gives a severe reproof, Heb. v. 12. · When for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you,' &c. Though we may attain knowledge by conversing with creatures, yet there is no creature hath wisdom at his disposal. It is the prerogative and privilege of God only.
« Verse 13. With him is wisdom and strength, he hath counsel and understanding.'
“ Thus Job shows that all these perfections meet in God, and thereby demonstrates the absolute completeness of all his administrations. Would you have understanding? It is in him; he can search out deep things. Would you have counsel ? He can direct to the most proper means. Would
have wisdom ? He can manage and order means to the best ad. vantage. Do you need strength ? His power is over all, and there is nothing too hard for him. God is complete in every perfection. Of this he gives an instance.
“ Verse 14. Behold he breaketh down, and it cannot be built again: he shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening.'
• What God will do, he can do, and it shall be done. There is no prevailing against God. No withstanding any of his operations; or repealing any of his decrees. Balaam confesses God hath blessed, and I cannot reverse it.
“ Verse 15. “Behold he withholdeth the waters, and they dry up: also he sendeth them out, and they overturn the earth.'