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ing term seems to explain this: "He was upright," and his uprightness was his perfection. The general sense of the passage seems to be that Job was a just or righteous man, one whom God approved. He was just or righteous in a threefold sense, and the first may be the remote cause of the two following:
1. Just, as made so by the Almighty.
2. Just, in the eye of the law as to its moral tendency.
3. Just, from the charges of pretended friends, and the reproaches of his enemy.
1. He was just and made so by the Almighty. The terms just, or righteous, or innocent, all of them convey relative ideas and evidently refer to rule. That rule can be no other than the Divine mind revealed in his word. Now, if Job be just, or approved of God, it must be in consequence of conformity of action to this rule. A deviation in thought, word, or action, renders him guilty; a strict conformity renders him just or approved by his Maker. But will any man say, that Job was just, and that God considered him just on account of such conformity ? So far from this Job confesses himself vile, that if God contend with him he could not answer him for one sin of a thousand. If these things be so, Job must be just by some other conformity, and we know of no other righteousness or conformity, than that which Christ has rendered to this rule ; " which is to and upon all them that believe ;" and of course Job among the rest ; and though we do not say this is the principal idea in the text, yet, we do say God would never have pronounced him just, apart from
this, and that he could never have performed one · action acceptable to God without it, since no good
work can be wrought by a man, while that man is in a state of condemnation. We view this, then, as the cause
2. Of a justification which refers to the conduct of Job, as standing spotless in the eye of the law. He was “an upright man.” But uprightness consists not with the breach of the law. We are not about to enter upon a discourse concerning the law as a rule of conduct. But this we say, that the man who has the grace of God will keep close to the law, and while that grace is in exercise, will continue to glorify God in such a manner as no ungodly man ever did or ever will do. It is not by well saying, but by well doing, that we are to put silence the ignorance of foolish men.
3. This brings a third justification ; from the charges of pretended friends, who sometimes prove the greatest enemies a man has: they charged him with being an hypocrite, and that in justice God had chastised him for it. But God wipes off this reproach, both in the beginning of this book and when hïs affliction was ended. “ There is none like him in all the earth, a perfect and upright
Let us take another view of his character, and look at him in his sufferings. They were temporal and spiritual, consisting in the absence of the light of God's countenance. His temporal sufferings were great. No person is mentioned as ever sustaining such loss of property. Then again: men fall by degrees much better than suddenly : but he had not this favour. He was hurled at once from the summit of affluence to poverty and the dust; no sooner is one tale of distress ended, than another begins. " The clouds return after the rain.” Messenger after messenger arrives with
heavy tidings, and he seems doomed to yet ad. ditional trouble; loathsome disease is inflicted; his wife tempts him ; his friends charge him with crimes of which he is guiltless. His sufferings were spiritual, as well as temporal. The loss of health was great, that of near and dear connections was yet greater ; but the loss of the light of the Sun of righteousness went beyond all. “I go mourning, says he, without the sun.” “O that it were with me as in days that are past.” “O that I knew where I might find him." It would seem as though heaven, earth, and hell had united to make him miserable. We must contemplate his character as it is exhibited,
In his patient submission. We see in the midst of all the most striking example of patience, that can possibly be found in man. Is Abraham renowned for his faith ? Moses for his meekness? Solomon for his wisdom ? David for various excellencies ? Job has higher eulogiums paid to his memory, for his patience, than any of them.
The apostle James when he wishes to fortify the minds of the afflicted, says, " Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering, affliction, and of patience. Ye have heard of the patience of Job.” In the midst of all his afflictions he says, “shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord and shall we not also receive evil ? the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” We will now consider,
The conduct of God with reference to
1. In his permitting Satan to act as he did, we see his sovereignty. He could not only have permitted all this, but have effected it if he had pleased ; and none durst have said unto him, “what doest thou?" He however, does not take the matter into his own hands, he delegates to Satan the power of acting, “behold all that he hath is in thy power." Yet we are to observe his absolute authority, "touch not his life." “Only on himself put not forth thine hand." The Almighty has not given up the reins of government into the hands of either men or devils; though they may seem to possess great influence, he still presides, sitting in the throne “ judging righteously ;' and with regard to his people,
“ Almighty mercy guards their life,
And bounds the tempter's power." 2. In his overruling the permission for the good of Job, we see his infinite wisdom. He overrules all these dispensations for the welfare of Job, ,
By humbling him. It must be confessed that though Job was a good man, yet he had too much conceit of himself; he thought too highly of himself; and spake too loftily of his own!doings. But by this God brought him to acknowledge “behold I am vile, what shall I answer thee ?” “I abhor myself and repent in dust and ashes." .
By weaning him from the world. There is nothing like affliction to do this. When Jacob lost his children, he refused to be comforted; saying, "I will go down to my grave mourning," as though he would have nothing more to do with any thing below. And David says, “ Before I was afflicted I went astray, but since, I have kept thy word." He would not seek happiness in the world. God is said to choose his people in the furnace of affliction, by which he purifies them as silver and
tries them as gold: and he taught Job sufficiently by this affliction, not to lean on man: hence, he was constrained to cry out at last, "Physicians of no value, miserable comforters are ye all."
He did this by exalting him to more than his former prosperity. “The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than the beginning." By the goodness of God his substance was doubled, his friends came unto him and bemoaned him for all that the Lord had done. Here we see the truth of these words, “weeping may endure for a night, but,” to a good man, "joy cometh in the morning." And as God had blessed him with one exaltation, temporally, we are led to think that God also blessed him spiritually, because we find God is said to accept Job, and seemed to delight in him, and likewise turned his captivity. Thus was one of Job's sentences fulfilled, “Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth, therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty."
1. If Satan be such a being, the subject calls on the people of God to be circumspect. “ Be sober, be vigilant." Take heed to the objects of contemplation. Watch the operations of sin. Guard the affections of the soul.
2. If he be unchangeable in his conduct, he must be resolutely and constantly opposed. Hence the address, “Resist the devil and he will flee from you.” Do this by prayer ;_"praying always with all prayer, in the Spirit.” Do this by faith, in the certainty of victory.
3. Though he be subtle, malicious, and powerful, still let the believer for his consolation recol