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l, A X T E learn from hence to reflect seriously on the greatness V V of God, and how unable we are to hm t him by our sins, or profit him by our righteousness. 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 righteousness cannot profit him; therefore when he commands, encour* 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 j 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 afflicted, to be thankful for the mercies which are continued to them; particularly for our reason; that we are made miser than the brutes; can observe whence afflictions 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 confcience under our afflictions, we have abundantly more cause for thankfulness than complaint.
3. Let us attend 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 enjoy 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 judgment1 blessed are all they that waitfor him. Isa. xxx. 18.
Elihu here comes close to the fioint; arguing that if Job had submitted to God's correction, he would have been delivered; that his not being able to comprehend the designs of Providence ought not to be an hindrance to this, seeing the daily works of God are incomprehensible.
1 'C1 LI H U also proceeded, and said, Suffer me a little, and I
2 X-J will show thee that [I have] yet to speak on God's behalf; entreating their patience while he goes tn to vindicate God's hrc
3 ceedings. I will fetch my knowledge from afar, and will ascribe righteousness to my Maker; 1 will urge some uncommon
4 and sublime considerations to sufifiort the jus'ice of God. For
truly tny words [shall] not [be] false: he that Is perfect in knowledge [is] with thee; / will not use sophistical arguments,
5 but offer solid reasons. Behold, Clod [is] mighty, and despiseth not [any: he is] mighty in strength [and] wisdom ; there
6 fore he will wrong no man, nor despise wen the meanest. He preserveth not the life of the wicked: but giveth right to the poor; he firescrveth not the wicked though very rich, but fights the poor,
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 [arc 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 anytime
9 he afflicts them, yet Then he showeth them their work, and their transgressions that they have exceeded; he leads them to reflect
10 on p/ieir sins, and He openeth also their ear to discipline, and commandeth that they return from iniquity, to receive in
11 struction, and return to their duty; and if they do so, If they obey and serve [him,] they shall spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures; they shall be restored to protperi*
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 theirfol
13 ly. But the hypocrites in heart heap up wrath by their counterfeit piety, 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 prime of their days,
15 and are suddenly cut off, like the Sodomites; whereas He deliver' eth the poor in his affliction, and openeth their ears in oppression ; he delivers the humble, and teaches them instruction by their
16 oppression. Even so woVihi 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 famess; so upon thy humble submission he would have restored thee to thy
17 former prosperity and plenty. But instead of delivering the poor, thou hast maintained the came of the wicked, thou hast fulfilled the judgment of the wicked: therefore judgment and justice
18 take hold [on thee,] and thou svfferest like them. Because [there is] wrath, [beware] lest he take thee away with [his] stroke: then a great ransom cannot deliver thee; cautioning him therefore not to persist in such sentiments lest he should be suddenly cut
19 off. Will he esteem thy riches? [no,] not gold, nor all the forces of strength ; no ransom will signify any thing to him, nei
20 ther riches, nor all the forces thou canst muster up. Desire not the night, when people are cut off in their place; do not rashly desire death, for God sometimes cuts off multitudes at once in the
21 night. Take heed, regard not iniquity; do not give way to
•Some think, with grcat probability, that here is a referrnc- f o the cane of Manaflch,
and would render it, he lo4l rtltate kingi ii»^n the thr.r.e, if, aftrr h,iun- teen bwnd in fetters, as he they repent and ref jrmi a* he Uii.
sueh rash speeches: for this hast thou chosen rather than afflic
22 tion ; accusing God rather than submitting to him. BehoIdS God exalteth by his powtr, and ccstcth down: who tcacheth lik* him? therefore bje willing to learn, and do not firetend to track
23 him. Who hath enjoined him in his way? or who can say, Thou hast wrought iniquity? ivho hath directed his way, or can
24 charge him with injuitice? 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 behold [it] afar off; the most ignorant and stupid must see the great
26 nuss and excclkiicy 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 fiower of God in the rain; and the clouds gently distil the rain which is ex
28 haled from the earth: Which the clouds do drop [and] distil upon man abundantly ; so 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 how 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, to exhale
31 and draw up the vapours from thence. For by them judgeth he the people; he giveth meat in abundance; he sometimes judgeth or punhheth by storms or tempests; at other times he makes
32 plentiful provision by seasonable showers. With clouds he covereth the light; and commandeth it [not to shine] by [the cloud] that cometh betwixt; sometimes he obscures the face of heaven, so as to withhold the kindly influences of the sun; and sometimes there are only thin clouds that temper its excessive heat.
33 The noise thereof showeth concerning it, the cattle also concerning 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. REAT caution becomes us when we speak of God. Let V-T 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 Jay it down as a first principle, that he will, that he cap 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 withdraweth nef his eyes from them. Though they may seem to be forgotten, and think God hides his face from them, yet he never looks
•V«i. IV. B I?
oJF them* • Though he afflicts them, yet he graciously regards
jliem; directs when, in what manner, and how long, they shall b« afflicted; and assists them in improving their afflictions. Let our eyes be ever toward the Lord, and then his eyes will be ever upon us for good. ., *, •
. 3. See the misery of hypocrites in heart ) of men who counterfeit religion and goodness, but tohote hearts are not right iviih God, They think they are heaping up wealth, reputation, and merit; but they are indeed only heaping up wrath. Their hearts are hard* uhhumbled, and stubborn under affliction. Every sin, every counterfeit net of religion, every proud, repining thought, further pro* yokes tfeod; and thai are only treasuring ufi to themselves ivratli against the day qfwrathj and the revelation of the righteous judgment of God.
4. It is a very foolish thing indeed to prefer imquity to affliction; to pursue wealth by sinful methods in order to avoid poverty, to indulge sinful pleasures, to ease the cares of the mind, to allow ourselves in sinful Compliances, to avoid trouble, reproach, or persecution. Such persons may think themselves wise and cunning; but they Will appear at last to be very great fools. Sin is the greatest and most dreadful evil, and therefore ought to be avoided, whatever yrt may endure or sutTer.
'$. High and honourable thoughts of God, tend to promote submission to his \yjU,' Let us consider him as a Being of infinite pei factions, of boundless power and knowledge, supreme authority, unrivalled and everlasting dominion. We see his works of nature, and they are all without fault and defect; especially his agency in the blessings otsuushine and rain; they are plain to our eyesj though tht method of the operation of natural causes is mysterious and incomprehensible. Let us not dare to teach him or prescribe to hirhy T|ie more careful we .are to contemplate his nature, and tp magnify his works which we behold, the more shall we be afraid and ashamed of censuring his providence. .