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the trial of faith, which is much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, is found to praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ.
Job, though he was essentially right in the articles of his creed and in their application to himself, was nevertheless (to use St. Paul's phrase) “unskilful in the word of righteousness.” Though, in vindicating himself from the overt iniquities with which his friends charged him, he maintained nothing but what was strictly true; yet he did not fully understand the Divine axiom that “whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth ;" and therefore was at a loss to account for the severity of his afflictions, while the frailty he manifested in the use he should have made of the great principle of Divine Revelation, and in the temper which was excited by the irritating mistakes of his visitors, demonstrated the necessity of that severity. Impatience, want of submission, and the use of remonstrance with God, at times hardly consistent with that which becomes a sinner who looks for salvation by grace, frequently appear in his part of the dialogue. But can a Christian believer be at a loss for parallel instances. If he have himself been subjected to severe privations of property, children, and health
-if moreover he have been buffeted by Satanif his character and motives of conduct have been
grossly mistaken by Christian friends—may he not recollect similar aberrations from humility and meekness in his own spirit, if not in his own converse with others. The personal experience of a tempted Christian will afford the best commentary on the book of Job: others may discuss, with more critical skill, the circumstances of the history, but he only can fully understand its import.
Further evidence in supportof the view which I have taken of the principal scope of the book of Job is furnished by Elihu, who is the last of the speakers, excepting Jehovah himself, who at length appears to decide the long contested points at issue between Job and his friends. But as I have already protracted my present communication to a great length, I shall trouble you again on the same subject in another letter, and am, in the mean time,
THE BOOK OF JOB.
MY DEAR FRIEND,
As the concluding part of the book of Job, containing the speeches of Elihu and of the supreme Arbiter of the controversy, together with the sequel of the history, is calculated to shed great light on the inquiry which I have instituted on the subject of its design ; you will, I am sure, pardon me for resuming the consideration of that subject. I shall first offer you a few remarks on the view taken by Elihu.
Who Elihu was, is a question on which a difference of opinion has arisen. Mr. Faber suspects that in this character Moses, whom he considers as the author of the book, “ personates himself in his capacity of a teacher sent from God," and that “he is introduced as a moderator, at once to correct the error of Job, and to supply what is defective in the argument of his three friends." And he infers this from the circumstance that, at the close of the drama,
censure whatever is passed upon Elihu, though Job is made to confess his sinfulness :" and likewise because “he speaks of himself in the very same remarkable language, which in the Pentateuch the Lord applies to Moses. Thou shalt be to Aaron instead of God, and I have made thee a God to Pharaoh, says Jehovah to the legislator of the Israelites : Behold, I am according to thy wish in God's stead, says Elihu to Job respecting himself."*
There is something, certainly, very remarkable in the manner in which Elihu is introduced in the dialogue, and in the part he takes in it. He describes himself as a very young person, and yet makes high pretensions to inspiration from above, and assumes a right of censuring freely, and, I may add, with a tone resembling conscious infallibility, the opinions which had been maintained both by Job and his friends. I cannot however concur in the view of Mr. Faber that Elihu personates Moses ; for, as Moses, even on Mr. Faber's own hypothesis was not contemporary with Job, he could not with propriety, (even if the dialogue be, as Mr. F. supposes, an allegory or parabolic drama) be introduced as addressing Job and his friends at a time perhaps antecedent to his own birth.
Dr. Hodges, in his “ Inquiry into the princi
* Exod. iv. 16. vii. 1. Job xxxiii. 6.
pal scope and design of the book of Job," conceives that Elihu was a type, and, perhaps, an actual manifestation of the Son of God, who on this occasion, as on many others, appeared in the anticipated form of man which he often assumed before his incarnation. That such a manifestation was not unusual in the patriarchal age, has appeared by the instances which have been produced in former letters ; and that the present case was dignus vindice nodus, one that would justify Divine interposition, is plain, since a voice from the cloud of glory at length terminated the controversy. But the question, who Elihu was, must be determined by what he says of himself, for no other notice than the record of his address is taken of him either before or after his appearance. This is, of itself, an extraordinary circumstance.
Though I can determine nothing on this difficult question, I shall venture to lay before you an abstract of Dr. Hodges's reasoning on the subject, leaving you to form your own decision.
Surprising indeed it may seem, to any impartial reader of this history, that so young a man should be invested with, much more that he should claim, so weighty an office, which required the highest abilities, and all the advantages of a superior character, to execute with success. Curious points of the most interesting nature were to be settled by this young arbitrator—the