Page images

any the better for thy righteousness. In strictness of specch God

is not obliged to reward his creatures any farther than he has 8 promised. Thy wickedness (may hurt) a man as thou [art ;]

and thy righteousness (may profit) the son of man ; but not with: standing this, it is not all one whether thou art good or bad, for thyself and others will be better or worse according as thy temper

and character is. Job had reflected on God's goodness, to which 9 Elihu answers, By reason of the multitude of oppressions, they

make (the oppressed) to cry : they cry out by reason of the arm 10 of the mighty, yet God does not an ear to vindicate them ; But

the reason of this is, none saith, Where [is] God my maker, who giveth songs in the night ? they do nui humbly and sincerely firay to him, nor acknowledge his goodness in tempering their af. fictions with so much mercy that he gives them ground of re.

joicing in the darkest seasons. It is a cry of nature, not of devo11 tion, which they utter ; Who teacheth us more than the beasts

of the earth, and naketh us wiser than the fowls of heaven?

God has given us rational faculties to pray to him, and will not nee 12 glect us if we use those faculties aright. There they cry, but

none giveth answer, because of the pride of evil men ; they cry because of evil men and oppressors, but none answereth, because

they do not devoutly pray, their cry dues not proceed from a regard 13 to God, but from sensations of pain and trouble. Surely God will

not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it; therefore

they cannot expect an answer, God will not hear their prayer, nor 14 regard their oppression, so as to deliver them. Although thou

sayest thou shalt not see him, [yet] judgment [is] before him ; therefore trust thou in hin ; though thou sayest chou shalt never enjoy prosfierity, or a sense of his love again ; yet he is perfectly

just and righteous, therefore frust him, and wait fiatient y for him, 15 But now, because [it is) not (so,] because thou dost not pray thus,

art not thus humble and penitent, he hath visited in his anger, and thine afflictions still continue ; yet he knoweth [it] not in great

extremity ; thy great extremity liath not broughi thee 10 a sense 16 of this, and to a knowledge of God and thyself. Therefore doth

Job open his mouth in vain; he multiplieth words without knowl. edge ; therefore thou chargest God with great severity in his cona duct, which it is easy to justify on the clearest principles of reason,


TATE learn from hence to reflect seriously on the greatness

VV of God, and how unable we are to hurt him by our sins, or profit him by our rightcousness. Sin cannot hurt his nature and happiness ; but, as the moral governor of the world, he must hate and punisb it for the sake of his creatures. Our righteous. ness cannot profit him ; therefore when he commands, encoura ages and rewards it, it is all of his grace and for our good. We must take in the whole of a creature's duration, in order to judge of its

happiness and misery. The prospect of a future state seems the only sufficient answer to Job's objections ; especially as we can but very imperfectly judge of what our fellow creatures suffer or enjoy here below.

2. It is the duty of those who are afficted, to be thankful for the mercies which are continued to them; particularly for our reason ; that we are made wiser than the brutes ; can observe wiience affictions come, and what ends they are designed to answer. That we have songs in the night, many alleviating comfortable circumstances in the deepest distress ; so that we have reason to rejoice in the darkest seasons : but these comforts we too often ungratefully overlook. If God continues to us the exercise of reason and peace of conscience under our afflictions, we have abundantly more cause for thankfulness than complaint.

2. Let us atiend to the important distinction here made between crying and praying. It is natural in affliction to groan, cry, and complain ; but there is no religion in this ; the brutes do so. The cry of too many to God under their afflictions, rather arises from a sense of pain, than any devout regards to him. They cry for health, or for a physician : but how few say, Where is God my maker ? Every one complains of pain and trouble, but few lift up their hearts to God with penitential, humble, and devout addresses ; and it is no wonder if they are not regarded. God hears the cry of brutes extorted by pain, because they have no rational souls ; but as men have them, he expects they should pray as well as cry, and consider and improve their afflictions, as well as feel them.

4. When we are under the deepest distress, let us remember that our judgment is before God, and therefore trust in him. We are often ready to despair, and think we shall never see him ; never en. joy prosperity, or be restored to his favour. But he is perfectly righteous and wise, and knows the best time and way to deliver us ; therefore we should continue to trust him. The Lord is a God of judgment ; blessed are all they that wait for him. Isa. xxx. 18.


Elihu here comes close to the point ; arguing that if Job had submitted

to God's correction, he would have been delivered ; that his not be ing able to comprchend the designs of Providence ought not to be an hindrance to this, seeing the daily works of God are incomprehen. sible.

IL LIHU also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I 21 will show thee that (I have) yet to speak on God's behalf;

entreating their patience chile he goes on lo vindicate God's pirc3 ceedings. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will as.

cribe righteousness to my Maker ; I will urge some uncommon $ and sublime considerațions to support the justice of God. For

truly my words [shall] not [be] false : he that is perfect in knowledge [is] with thee ; I will not use sophistical arguments, 5 but offer solid reasons. Behold, God [is] mighty, and despis

eth not (any : he is) mighty in strength [and] wisdom ; there. 6 fore he will wrong' no man, nor despise even the meanest. He pre

serveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor;

he preserveth not the wicked though very rich, but righis the proof, 7 by delivering them from oppressors. He withdraweth not his

eyes from the righteous; he regards them with an eye of favour : but with kings (are they] on the throne ; yea, he doth establish

them for ever, and they are exalted; he often exalts them to the 8 highest honours which kings can confer. And if [they be] bound

in fetters, [and] be holden in cords of affliction ; if at any time 9. he afticis them, yet Then he showeth them their work, and their

transgressions that they have exceeded ; he leads them to reflec: 10 on their sins, and He openeth also their ear to discipline, and

commandeth that they return from iniquity, to receive ite 11 struction, and return to their duty; and if they do 80, If they

obey and serve (him,] they shall spend their days in prosperity,

and their years in pleasures ; they shall be restored to prosperi 12 ty and established in comfort.* But if they obey not, they shall

perish by the sword, and they shall die without knowledge ; if

they persist in obstinacy and impenitency they shall die in their fol. 13 ly. But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath by their counter

feit friety, and they cry not when he bindeth them ; do not pray 14 sincerely to God. They die in youth, and their life (is) among

the unclean ; they die unexpectedly, in the firime of their days, 15 and are suddenly cut off, like the Sodomites ; whereas He deliver

cth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppres.

şion ; he delivers the humble, and teaches them insiruction by their 16 oppression. Even so would he have removed thee out of the

strait [into) a broad place, where (there is) no straitness ; and that which should be set on thy table should be] full of fatness;

so upon thy humble submission he would have restored thee 10 lliy IT foriner prosperity and plenty. But instead of delivering the poor,

thou hast maintained the cause of the wicked, thou hast fulfilled

the judgment of the wicked: therefore judgment and justice 18 take bold (on thee,) and thou sufferest like them. Because (there

is] wrath, [beware] lest he take thee away with this) stroke : then a great ransom cannot deliver thee ; cautioning him there

fore not to persist in such sentiments lest he should be suddenly cul *19 off. Will he esteem thy riches? [no,] not gold, nor all the

forces of strength, no raison will signify any thing to him, nel 20 ther riches, nor all the forces thou canst muster us. Desire not

the night, when people are cut off in their place ; do not rushly

desire death, for God sometimes cuts off multitudes at once in the 21 night. Take heed, 'regard not iniquity ; do not give way to

• Sone think. with great prob bility, that here is a reference to the che nf Manalen and would render it, he will release kings on the throne, if, after having been: 600 as he was, they repent and reform, as he did.

such rash speeches : for this hast thou chosen rather than afflic22 tion ; accusing God rather than submitting to him. Behold, God

exalteth by his power', and casteth down : who teacheth like

him ? therefore be willing to learn, and do not firetend to teach 23 him. Who hath enjoined him in his way? or who can say,

Thou hast wrought iniquity? who hath directed his way, or can 24 charge him with injustice? Remember that thou magnify his

work, which men behold ; instead of finding fault with his work, 25 speak honourably of it. Every man may see it ; man may be

hold (it) afar off; the most ignorant and stupid must see the greal26 ness and ercellency of it. Behold, God [is] great, and we know

(him) not, neither can the number of his years be searched out; 27 he is infinite and eternal, therefore just in all his ways. For he

maketh small the drops of water : they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof; instancing in the wisdom and power of

God in the rain ; and the clouds gently distil the rain which is er. 28 haled froni the earth : Which the clouds do drop sand] distil un

on man abundantly ; 80 as plentifully to supply the necessities of 29 man and beast. Also can (any) understand the spreadings of the

clouds, [or] the noise of his tabernacle ? we cannot understand

hors the clouds hang and float in the air, nor the thunder we hear 30 from his dwelling place : Behold he spreadeth his light upon it,

and covereth the bottom of the sea; the sun spreads its light over

the whole heavens, and penetrates the surface of the sea, lo exhale 31 and draw up the vapours from thence. For by them judgeth he

the people ; he giveth meat in abundance ; he sometimes jude

eth or punisheth by storms or tempests ; at other times he makes 32 plentiful provision by seasonable showers. With clouds he cov

ereth the light ; and commandeth it (not to shine] by [the cloud) that cometh betwist ; sometimes he obscures the face of heaven, so as to withhold the kindly influences of the sun ; and

sometimes there are oniy thin clouds that temper its excessive heat. 33 The noise thereof showeth concerning it, the cattle also con

cerning the vapour; thunder and wind foretell and introduce a storm ; and cattle by a strong instinct foresee it, and by various actions give notice of it.


1. C REAT caution becomes us when we speak of God. Let

U us be careful that what we say be true, and pertinent ; that we always entertain the highest idea of God, and neither speak wickedly, rashly, nor uncharitably in his behalf. Let us especially be careful to ascribe righteousness to our Maker ; and lay it down as a first principle, that he will, that he can do nothing wrong. Let us remember that he is our Maker ; and always speak of him with seriousness.

2. It is a comfortable thought to the righteous, that God svithdraweth not his eyes from them. Though they inay seem to be forgotten, and think God hides his face from them, yet he never looks Vol. IV.


off them. Though he afflicts them, yet he graciously regards them ; directs when, in what manner, and how long, they shall be afflicted; and assists them in improving their afflictions. Let our eyes be ever toward the Lord, and then his eyes will be ever ufron us for good.

3. See the misery of hypocrites in heart ; of men who counterfeit religion and goodness, but whose hearts are not right with God. They think they are heaping up wealth, reputation, and merit ; but they are indeed only heaping up wrath. Their hearts are hard, linhumbled, and stubborn under affliction. Every sin, every coun. terfeit act of religion, every proud, repining thought, further provokes God; and they are only treasuring up to themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and the revelation of the righteous judgmens of God. . 4. It is a very foolish thing indeed to prefer iniquity to affliction; to pursue wealth by sinful methods in order to avoid poverty, 10 indulge sinful pleasures, to ease the cares of the mind, to allow our selves in sinful conipliances, to avoid trouble, reproach, or persecution. Such persons may think themselves wise and cunning ; but they will appear at last io be very great fools. Sin is the greatest and most dreadful evil, and therefore ought to be avoided, whatever we may endure or suffer.

5. High and honourable thoughts of God, tend to promote submission to his will. Let us consider him as a Being of infinite per• fections, of boundless power and knowledge, supreme authority, uprivalled and everlasting dominion. We see his works of nature, and they are all without fault and defect; especially his agency in the blessings of sunshine and rain ; they are plain to our eyes, though the method of the operation of natural causes is mysterious and incomprehensible. Let us not dare to teach him or prescribe to him. The more careful we are to contemplate his nature, and to magnify his works which we behold, the more shall we be afraid and ashamed of censuring his providence.

CHAP. XXXVII. Elihu pursues his fornier suhject concerning the incomprehensible

greatness and glory of God's works, as displayed in the formation of the sky, and the direction of the meteors and clouds,*

[ocr errors]

A T this also my heart trembleth, at the consideration of the A thunder, which perhaps he then heard, and is moved out of his place, beats and leaps up and down, as if it would leap out of

[ocr errors]

This chapter will have a peculiar beauty if this thought he attentle toy, that the per introduces God himself in the next chapter, as speaking out of whirlwind, and the presents Elihu as hearing the thynder at a distance, and scing the whirlwini coming ward with slow pom. and point in toward the place from whence it came. This mig heart tremble, but at its her puroach toward the closed the shouer, he speak

he sneaks abort, and with broken sentences, like one in a hurry and contus101), who was afraid to niouth, and lost ill amazesne At.

« PreviousContinue »