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15 are] with Mm, that lie taill not give a man the reason of. Therefore am I troubled at his presence: when I consider, I am
16 afraid of him, overwhelmed with his majesty and power. For God maketh my heart soft, and the Almighty troubleth me; instead of coming into his presence with cheerfulness, my heart is
17 qidte weakened and broken; Because I was not cut off before the darkness, [neither] hath he covered the darkness from my face, so thai it is maner of lamentation that I was not cut off by such darkness as now ovenvhclms vie : for even death is denied me m the midst of death itself.
I. TT is no uncommon thing for good men, when in distress, to JL be quite at a loss to understand the providence of God. They go forward, but he is not there, and backward, but they cannot perceive him, v. 8. This arises partly from the nature of God, the -depth of his counsels, and the unsearchableness of his judgments, and partly from the hurry and discomposure of their own spirits. Yet still they flerfonn the thing afifwinted. Afflictions are sent in such number and measure as infmite wisdom ordains, and therefore undoubtedly are for the best.
2. It is allowable for afflicted persons humbly to plead their cause with Gad : to be particular and importunate in their requests; to fill their mouths with arguments, and urge ihem before the throne of grace, provided it be with a due sense of God's absolute power and unsearchable wisdom, and a patient resignation to his will.
3. It is comfortable to good men under afflictions, to have a consciousness of their own integrity. God knows 'he way they take, the course in which they have walked ; and though they have taken some false steps, yet that upon the whole they have not declinedfront Ms ways. Let us endeavour to trace his moral excellencies, to walk in his steps; and by a holy walk and conversation, endeavour to secure this comfort to ourselves.
4. Let all, and especially afflicted persons, cherish an high esteem for the word of God, as their necessary food ; as necessary to support and comfort the soul, as food is to strengthen the body; to sustain the spiritual life, as food doth the natural life. Let us hunger and thirst after the word of Gwd ; earnestly desire and diligently seek it, highly prize it, heartily delight in it, and carefully treasure it up in our hearts. Then God will be our guide in prosperity, and our cordial in every distressing scene.
5. The end and use of afflictions should be seriously considered, v. 10. God designs to try us. to examine and bring into light and strengthen our virtures in the furnace of affliction ; if it is properly improved, we sh»U come out as gold refined and purified. Let this be our prayer and endeavour, that the trial of our faith may be fund to firciic, and honour, and glory, at the afiflearing of Jetus Christ.
Job here come* to the very hinge of the controversy between him and
. Ms friends; he directly answers their assertions concerning the firesent punishment of the wicked, by mentioning several kinds of wicked people, who, instead of being made an example of vengeance,
. Kved infilenty, and died in ease.
1 TT7'HY, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, V V do they that know him not see his days? if,,as you say, God always punishes the wicked in this world, since he knows all things, and is a wimess to the greatest wickedness, why do not those who know him, (truly fiious and good men) see the triumfih
3 of his wrath and vengeance on the wicked? [Some] for instance remove the land marks; they violently take away flocks, and feed [thereof ;] defraud persons of their inheritance and substance
3 in an open notorious manner. They drive away the ass of the fatherless, they take the widow's ox for a pledge, whose labour
4, is all they have to support themselves with. They turn the needy out of the way; they make the needy forsake the common road, for fear of meeting with them: the poor of the earth hide them
5 selves together, as of raid to appear in their presence. Behold, [as] wild asses in the desert, go they forth to their work ; rising betimes for a prey: the wild Arabs did so: the wilderness [yieldeth] food for them [and] for [their] children; they go out to rob, plunder, and murder, with as little shame an labourers to their daily business; and thus they support thiir families even in
6 the wilderness. They reap [every one] his corn in the field: and they gather the vintage of the wicked ; they make incursions upon neighbouring countries, steal away their corn, and gather
7 grapes without considering who is the owner. They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that [they have] no covering
8 in the cold; they strip even the,poor reaper and labourer. They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter ; they arc so much set on their vilhny, that they lie all night on the mountains to watch their prey, and
9 are glad to creep into a cave for shelter. They pluck the fatherless from the breast, sell the child for a slave, and make the mother work, and take a pledge of the poor; take away their garments
10 to pay a trifling debt. They cause [him] to go naked without clothing, and they take away the sheaf [from] the hungry ; if he hath gleaned a sheaf of corn, 'he violently takes it from Mm;
11 [Which] make oil within their walls, [and] tread [their] wine presses, and suffer thirst; they deprive labourers and servants of their fmy, and will not allow thcqf to refresh themselves with the
12 things they are preparing. Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out: yet God layeth not folly [to them,] does not make them immediate examples of his justice.
13 They are of those that rebel against the light, endeavour to conceal their wickedness; the? know not the ways thereof, nor
Vol. IV. X
abide in the paths thereof, like owls and bats titling where it Can(4 not reach them. The murderer rising with the light killeth thepoor and needy as he goeth to his work, and in the night is as a 15 thief, mailing to rob others as they return. The eye also of the adulterer waitet.h for the twilight, saying, No eye shaH see me: and disguiseth [his] face ; wraps his face in his cloak, so that if It he should be met, he may not be known. In the dark they dig through houses, [which] they had marked for themselves in the day time; they mark the filace where to enter, in the day time,
17 and at night break in: they know not the light. For the morning [is] to them even as the shadow of death: if [one] know [them, they are in] the terrors of the shadow of death } they fear the light of the morning should discover them, and if they are
18 known they are in the agonies of death. He [is] swift as the waters; the fiirate who robs on the sea is so; their portion is cursed in the earth; whatever land they liave is neglected and runs waste, and they betake themselves to this way of lii'ing : he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards; he gives up all the inno
19 cent pleasure» of husbandry fur a life of rafiine. Drought a»d heat consume the snow waters: [so doth] the grave [those which] have sinned; notwitlistanding their wickedness they die by insensible degrees, and gently decay, as snow water sinks in
20 to the ground. The womb shall forget him, his mother shall not remember him on account of any honour attending his death; the wrrm shall feed sweetly on hrra, he shall become their prey; he shall be no more remembered but with infamy ; and his wickedness shall be broken as a tree; or violently destroyed, as a tree
21 that is broken off from the place where it grows, He evil entreateth the barren [that] beareth not: and doeth not good to the widow ; he insulteth and opprcsseth the barren and the widow, who
22 are proper objects of compassion. He draweth also the mighty with his power: he riseth op, and no [man] is sUre of life y he overcomes the mighty, and no man can stand against him
23 [Though] it be given him [to be] in safety, whereon he resteth; yet his eyes [are] upon their ways; notwithstandmg all Ms wicktduess, he is in safety, and rests secure, though the eyes if
24 God are on all lis ways. They are exalted for a little while, but are gone and brought low; they are taken out of the way as all [other,] and cut off as the tops of the ears of corn ; they are sometimes taken off by a sudden stroke that gives them no pain,
25 like ears of corn cut down in a moment. And if [it be] not [so] now, who will make me a liar, and make my speech nothing worth? if these things are n,it so, do you 'disprove them, and confute my reasonings, jfnd indeed this was the matter in question, end there was no room to charge this discourse as being foreign end impertinent.
1. T N all our debates upon the providence of God, let us remem« JL ber and acknowledge his omniscience. No being is hidden from him; his eyes are ufion men's mays: a truth so evident, that we cannot but acknowledge it. The times of all men are ip his bands, and the various events of their lives. He sees all the wickedness of men, and knows their ways; therefore it is a just conclusion.that he has wise and good ends in not immediately punishing them: the delay is not for want of knowledge or power. Some such first principles, firmly established in our minds, will help us to understand, at least to reconcile us to many difficulties and mysteries in the conduct of Providence.
2. Say not the former times are better than these; for it is by no means universally true. What variety of wickedness was there in old times! and how many different sorts! There is scarce any now, but what is pointed out even in this chapter. The same lusts and passions in wicked minds produce the same dreadful effects. Though it is matter of lamentation that there should be such wickedness, deceit and cruelty at any time, especially under the gospel dispensation.
3. See what great labour and pains are necessary to be wicked. How much care and contrivance does it cost wicked men to conceal their designs, and to accomplish their purposes. They rite vfl early, and sit up late, and submit to many hardships and inconveniences. Tliey take great pains to disguise themselves; and have many anxious fears lest a discovery should take place. Half these pains in a lawful calling and honest labour, would make them as rich, and much happier; yea, half the cares and thoughts and pains would have saved their souls. Shall wicked men submit to all this to gratify their lusts, and shall we grudge diligence, care, and pains, to serve God, and save our souls? God forbid!
4. Let us judge nothing before the time. When wc see the wicked prosper, and such sinners as these living in plenty and worldly honour, and dying in peace, and perhaps spoken of honourably by many survivors, let us not say, God seeth not, nor rcgardeth. Remember what reason hints to us, and what' scripture assures us of, that God will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and render to every man according to his works. The future state will set every thing to rights. In the mean time let us not envy the portion of sinners, but seek one infinitely better; that when all their evil deeds are called over, censured, and punished, we may have praise «f Godt and enter into our Master's joy.
Bildad could flnd nothing lo reply to tHe point in debate; but apprehending that Job had boasted too much of hit own righteousness, and spoken irreverently of God, he here checks him for it; and repretent* the greatness of God, and the meanness of man,
1 Hp* HEN answered Bildad the Shuhite, and said, Dominion
2 X and fear [are] with him, that is, God; supreme authority to give laws and dispose of his creatures; therefore he ought to be roorshif-.ped, and spoken of with the greatest reverence; he makJ eth peace in Vis high places ; not only do the heavenfy bodies obey his orders, but his angels most calmly consent to his service, and submissively bow to his will; they never clash or contend with each other; his presence imposes upon them a most respectful-silence; and wilt thou clamour against him on earth, and quarrel at
3 his dealings uith thee? Is there any number of his armies ?' the creatures here below are his armies, and all the hosts of heaven are
. under his command, therefore it is in vain to think of contending with him; yea, he is infinitely good as well as great, and upon .whom doth not his light arise ? his sun arises and shines, he be
4 slows his favours and extends his providence to all men. How . then can man be justified with God, and accounted innccentat his
tribunal? or how can he be clean [that is] born of a woman? how can a creature descended from weak, imfiure, and guilty mor* tals, boast of righteousness and purify before this glorious majesty?
5 Behold even lo the moon, and it shineth not: yea, the stars are not pure in his sight; when compared with hint, there it darkness end imperfection in the brightest luminary; even in those which men admire, and whicl. some of them worship; all disappear before his perfect lustre, as the sun obscures all meaner lights.
6 How much less man, [that is] a worm? and the son of man, [which is] a worm ? how can he compare with God in purity, man that is a worm, a moth, or small insect, and the son of man, which is a worm, that is, a mite, and can scarce be discerned? How can he pretend to be pure before God, who is a weak, defiled creature, vanity while he lives, arid corruption when he is dead?
THIS short chapter is extremely useful, a$ it inculcates this truth, which we have all great need to learn and lay to heart, that God is infinitely and incomprehensivcly gre:..t; that we are weak, mean, and polluted. Let us think of him as perfectly purei outshining the sun in lustre; as the father of lights; as the universal Lord. Innumerable hosts are at his command; all obedient and submissive to his will. He is therefore greatly to br feared. Let us think of God in this light, and learn to think meanly of oursjelves, as vanity, darkness and nothing in his sight. Let us see how little reason we have to be proud; how unbecoming pride is for a