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Eliphas declareth God's goodness in correcting us. 17 Bebold, happy is the man thou be afraid of the beasts of whom God correcteth; therefore the earth. despise not thou the chastening 23 For thou shalt be in league of the Almighty:
with the stones of the field : and 18 For he maketh sore, and the beasts of the field shall be at bindeth up: he woundeth, and peace with thee. his hands make whole.
24 And thou shalt know that 19 He shall deliver thee in six thy tabernacle shall be in peace; troubles : yea, in seven there and thou shalt visit thy habitashall no evil touch thee.
tion, and shalt not sin. 20 In famine he shall redeem 25 Thou shalt know also that thee from death : and in war thy seed shall be great, and thine from the power of the sword. offspring as the grass of the earth.
21 Thou shalt be hid from the 26 Thou shalt come to thy grave scourge of the tongue; neither in a full age, like as a shock of shalt thou be afraid of destruc- corn cometh in in his season. tion when it cometh.
27 Lo, this we have searched 22 At destruction and famine it, so it is; hear it, and know thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou it for thy good.
LECTURE 769. Of recommending true devotion by our own experience. In these concluding words of Eliphaz we have an affecting description of God's goodness, and of the happiness of those who put their trust in Him. At the same time we are led to reflect, that though He should seem for a time to hide his face from us, this is no proof that we have lost his favour, but rather a sign of his still aiming at our good. “ Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth.” A truth most profitable for Job to dwell upon. A truth most important to be kept in mind by God's ancient people Israel; who, while under the Law, looking for temporal prosperity, as the constant reward of well doing, were too apt to be cast down at the least appearance of reverse. A truth which Christians also often need to be reminded of, however frequently and plainly they have been told in the Gospel, that here they must have tribulation, see John 16.33, and that their light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for them a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. See 2 Cor. 3. 17. For notwithstanding these assurances, who is not apt to be cast down when overtaken by grief, or pain, or sickness, or misfortune? Who speaks, and thinks, and feels, when in affliction, as if he were verily persuaded, and thankfully sensible, that “ happy is the man whom God correcteth?”
Let us, by frequent meditation on God's word, on the promises it contains, and on the dealings it records, prepare ourselves for our time of trial when it comes, having settled firmly in our minds
the conviction of this truth. When she maketh sore," let us remember that He also “bindeth up." When 6 he woundeth," let us confidently expect the time, when this also will be fulfilled in us, that “ his hands make whole." However many are the troubles which beset us, He will deliver us from the power of them all. Though there be a dearth of his word in the land, He knows how to feed us with the bread of life. Though there be war even within ourselves, our evil passions striving for the mastery, He can give safety to the soul. And further, He can give us the sense of safety; the happiness of feeling a good hope that we are safe. " Neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh.” This is something more than not to be destroyed. This is the Christian's privilege at the present, that he trusts he shall be saved to all eternity. He has the happiness of knowing, that unless it be his own fault, his “ tabernacle shall be in peace.” And “as a shock of corn cometh in in his season,” so does the believer look to die, ready and ripe, whether he be young or aged, ripe if he have done what he could to be prepared; ready, whensoever God sees fit to call him hence; ready and ripe for the harvest of eternity. "Lo this,” says Eliphaz, at the conclusion of his first address to Job, “ Lo this, we have searched it, so it is ; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.” A forcible and persuasive topic, in dealing with our friends for their improvement in faith or practice. Let us appeal to experience. Let us be able to appeal to our own experience. The devotion which we seek to recommend, will come to them with so much the stronger commendation, in proportion as they have reason to know, that we have tried it in practice, and felt it to be good. Exhortation has little weight, in this matter, unless it be backed by a corresponding example. But when it is known that we are living a holy life, in the fear and in the love of God, when it is seen that we deny ourselves in order to do good to others, when it is heard, on due occasions, from our thankful lips, that we gladly do all this, yea all that in us lies, to glorify Him who bought us with a price, the price of his own precious blood; then we may come forward and say boldly to any friend who seems to need the exhortation, and surely if we have a friend who needs it, we ought not to be slow to say it to him: “ Lo this, we have searched it, so it is ;" one thing is needful, the saving of the soul is above all comparison the first object worth the anxious desire of a sinner, the Gospel with the things set forth therein is the truth of God revealed from heaven; it is “ the power of God unto salvation ;" Rom. 1. 16; “ hear it, and know thou it for thy good.”
May we have courage thus to speak on due occasions ! And may they to whom we thus speak have grace to receive gladly the word of exhortation : through Jesus Christ our Lord !
PART v. 0. T.
Job persisteth in his complaint, wisheth for death. 1 But Job answered and said, 8 Oh that I might have my 2. Oh that my grief were request; and that God would throughly weighed, and my grant me the thing that I long calamity laid in the balances for! together!
9 Even that it would please 3 For now it would be heavier God to destroy me; that he would than the sand of the sea : there- let loose his hand, and cut me fore my words are swallowed up. off!
4 For the arrows of the Al 10 Then should I yet have mighty are within me, the poison comfort; yea, I would harden whereof drinketh up my spirit: myself in sorrow: let him not the terrors of God do set them- spare; for I have not concealed selves in array against me. the words of the Holy One.
5 Doth the wild ass bray when 11 What is my strength, that I he hath grass ? or loweth the ox should hope ? and what is mine over his fodder?
end, that I should prolong my 6 Can that which is unsavoury life? be eaten without salt? or is there 12 Is my strength the strength any taste in the white of an egg? of stones ? or is my flesh of
7 The things that my soul re- brass ? fused to touch are as my sor- 13 Is not my help in me? and rowful meat.
is wisdom driven quite from me?
show What is the Holy concealnot
arat my soul ? of ston my
LECTURE 770. That we ought to wish the will of God fulfilled. Even our blessed Lord, when suffering on the cross, cried out, in the vehemence of his pain, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matt. 27. 46. We cannot then be surprised that Job should give way to extremity of grief. Nor when we remember Job's frailty as a man, can we wonder that he should persist in his complaints, notwithstanding the admonitions he had received from his friend. But whilst we are more disposed to pity than to censure him, still we must mark his faults, in order to avoid them. And when next we are tempted to complain under affliction, if we find ourselves apt to think that our troubles are far heavier than fall to the lot of most men, we may be checked by reflecting, that thus it was that Job complained : “Oh that my grief were throughly weighed, and my calamity laid in the balances together! For now it would be heavier than the sand of the sea." Job had indeed no common measure of affliction. And truly he could say, “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison whereof drinketh up my spirit: the terrors of God do set themselves in array against me." Yet even Job ought to have found comfort in the thought, that “ happy is
the man whom God correcteth.” Ch. 5. 17. How much less then ought we ever to repine! How much less can we ever be justified in complaining, as if no affliction were so weighty as our own !
But the counsel which Job had received from Eliphaz was one of the things which now chiefly aggrieved him. And it appears to be in the way of a reply to this admonition, that he asks, “ Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? or loweth the ox over his fodder ?” meaning, that as these animals do not complain without reason, neither was he disposed to do so. And as that which is unsavoury needs salt to be eaten with it, so ought the advice given him by his friend to have been rendered palatable by greater kindness of manner, and by more consideration in the matter. Yet surely this is foolishness in man, to reject good counsel, be it ever so unpalatable, be it ever so ungraciously administered. Surely this would be our wisdom, to be willing to be taught even by an enemy, much more by a friend, who is well meaning, though ill judging. Is it true, and just, and right? these are the questions to be considered, in regard to any counsel that is given us; not is it welcome, or pleasantly administered. However the soul may naturally loathe it, and however like unto “our sorrowful meat” it may be made, by the indiscreet zeal of those who offer it; still if it be good advice that is offered us, it is our wisdom, it is our gain, and it ought to be our pleasure, to adopt it. But Job will not take his friend's advice. Neither will he refrain from wishing, if not that he had never been born, at least that now his life might end. He is persuaded that he cannot recover of his disease, and that there can be no use in having his life prolonged. And therefore he wishes that God would cut him off. The thought of approaching death he thinks would give him comfort, and would enable him to bear the weight of his affliction. And especially be declares, that he could face death with a good courage, because he had not "con- • cealed the words of the Holy One,” which probably means, because he had been a prophet, and a preacher of righteousness, and bad faithfully discharged his duty, in that capacity. But there is a time for all things: a time to speak boldly, and a time to suffer patiently; a time to testify to the truth with our lips, and a time to prove the force of true religion by our conduct. Let the example of Job warn us against indulging in a disposition to wish any thing otherwise than as God orders it. When He summons us to die, it will be time enough for us to say, “ Let him not spare.” Whilst He requires us to live, however full of trouble our life may be, let us cheerfully admit, it is good for us to be here. And if we must needs wish that God would grant the thing we long for, let us long for nothing upon earth, so much as this, that the will of God Himself may be done on earth, even as it is in heaven.
Job chargeth his friends with unkindness. 14 To him that is afflicted pity or, Give a reward for me of your should be shewed from his friend; substance ? but he forsaketh the fear of the 23 Or, Deliver me from the Almighty.
enemies' hand? or, Redeem me 15 My brethren have dealt de- from the hand of the mighty ? ceitfully as a brook, and as the 24 Teach me, and I will hold stream of brooks they pass away; my tongue; and cause me to un
16 Which are blackish by rea- derstand wherein I have erred ? son of the ice, and wherein the 25 How forcible are right words ! snow is hid:
but what doth your arguing re17 What time they wax warm, prove ? they vanish : when it is hot, they 26 Do ye imagine to reprove are consumed out of their place. words,and the speeches of one that
18 The paths of their way are is desperate, which are as wind? turned aside; they go to nothing, 27 Yea, ye overwhelm the faand perish.
therless, and ye dig a pit for 19 The troops of Tema looked, your friend. the companies of Sheba waited 28 Now, therefore, be content; for them.
look upon me; for it is evident 20 They were confounded be- unto you if I lie. cause they had hoped ; they came 29 Return, I pray you, let it thither, and were ashamed. not be iniquity; yea, return
21 For now ye are nothing; ye again, my righteousness is in it. see my casting down, and are 30 Is there iniquity in my afraid.
tongue? cannot my taste discern 22 Did I say, Bring unto me? perverse things?
LECTURE 771. Of maintaining a kind feeling with our friends. There is much force in the remarks which Job here makes on the behaviour of his friends, who probably were all agreed as to the strain of admonition which Elipbaz adopted; and therefore were all answerable for it. Let us learn from what Job says on this occasion, to be, as the apostle bids us, at once compassionate and courteous. See 1 Pet. 3. 8. To weep with them that weep, must be our rule. And if we have been their friends, when they were prosperous, we must be the more careful to manifest all the tenderness of friendship, in the way in which we behave to them when overtaken by adversity. Consideration for their feelings is of the utmost importance, as a proof of sympathy in their sorrows; and is also of the utmost weight, as a recommendation of any advice we have to give them in their troubles. For though they would do wisely to follow good counsel, however harshly we may urge it, we should certainly do wrong not to temper our zeal with gentleness, not to have a tender care lest we add to the sorrows of our friends, instead of relieving their distresses.
Most painfully true is the picture drawn by Job of such friends