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KNIGHT OF THE MOST NOBLE ORDER OF THE GARTER, &c.
MY VERY GOOD LORD AND PATRON.
thoughts, of making some public acknowledgement of my obligations to your Lordship, for placing me, when I thought not of it, in this station which I hold in Covent-Garden ; yet I have only deferred it, till the most proper opportunity, as it seems to me, for this small expression of my gratitude. For I could not have prefixed your Lordship's name to any work of mine, which I believe would have been so acceptable, as this wherewith I now present you; desiring it may remain as a lasting testimony of the sense I have of the favours I have received from your Lordship. In whom, as I have always observed a particular veneration and affection for the holy Scriptures; so I know to be a constant reader of them: and therefore humbly offer this assistance to your Lordship, for the understanding of the oldest book (as I have shown) of that sacred volume, which, I am confident, you esteem above all earthly treasures.
There have been many large volumes written for its explication, which will cost abundance of time and pains to peruse; and after all, the design and scope of the whole may not be understood, while the reader's mind stays so long in the several parts. I have therefore taken quite another course, and only given the sense of it in a compendious, but perspicuous Paraphrase,' (or Metaphrase rather, as the ancients would have it), which is not much larger than the text, put into other words, It would have been more easy to have enlarged it, than it was to make it thus short ; which I the rather chose to do, not merely because it will be more useful for those who have little leisure, or less money ; but because thereby I have preserved, I persuade myself, the majesty of the book; and made it still look, not like
; the word of a man, but, as it is indeed, the word of God.
Which I could never have presented to your Lordship and the world more seasonably than now; when the state of our affairs is so dangerously perplexed, that we cannot stand upright, nor preserve our souls from sinking into the saddest fears or discontents, or some such troublesome passion, without a strong confidence in the Vol. III.
most wise, just, and merciful providence of the Almighty; which orders things in unsearchable ways, to the good of those that stedfastly adhere unto him, in faithful obedience. Which is so admirably represented in this holy book, that one cannot read it seriously, and not be moved to resign the conduct of ourselves, and all that concerns us, unto God's most blessed will and pleasure ; to wait patiently for him, as the psalmist speaks, and keep his way; not to be disheartened by any trouble that befals us, much less forsake our integrity; but still expect the end of the Lord, as St James speaks, i. e. the issue to which he will bring our troubles; persuading ourselves that he is very pitiful, and of tender mercy; and therefore, as he does not love to grieve us by laying afflictions on us, so is wont many times to bring the greatest good out of the greatest evil; and to produce it by such unexpected means, as shall surprise us with the greater admiration of his wisdom and goodness.
For a great reader of ancient writers tells us, “ He hath observed, in the histories of all ages, that the great events which determine the fate of great affairs, do happen less frequently according to design, than by accident and occasion. Our enterprises here below are derived from above, and we but engines and actors of pieces
; that are composed in heaven, “ Homo histrio, Deus vero poeta est.”
God is the sovereign poet, and we cannot refuse the part which he appoints us to bear in the
All our business is to act it well ; chearfully complying with his orders concerning us, and submitting ourselves to the direction of his providence.
To which, and all other religious courses, did we more heartily apply ourselves, there is no doubt but that in this book we might 'read God's gracious intentions towards this church and kingdom; which his most inerciful providence would bring, as he did his servant Job, through all these clouds which now encompass us, into a splendour incomparably beyond all that wherein hitherto we have appeared. Why should we despair of it, when he shews, by the unexpected discovery which he hath made of the designs of our enemies against us, that he hath no mind to cast us off, if we will not carelessly cast away ourselves, by the continual neglect of our duty to him ?
God of his infinite goodness awaken all our hearts, to make such a good use both of that deliverance, and of our present distress, (which is so great that we see no way out of it, but by his power alone to whom Job owed his resurrection), that we may in the issue be the more happy, and the better established, for having been so miserably unsettled. In which prayer, I am sure your Lordship will cordially join with,
Your Lordship's most humble,
and affectionate servant,
P R E F À CE.
THE study of the holy scriptures is so much recommended to us by the scriptures themselves, and hat!
been judged so necessary by the holy Doctors of the Church, that St Chrysostom (who was wont to press this duty with great earnestness, not only in his sermons, but in his private discourses with his people) adventures to say, That “a man cannot, he cannot be saved, unless he be conversant in this spiritual reada ing.” But as the neglect of them is very dangerous, when men are able to read them ; so the reading them without understanding, must needs be unprofitable. Though a Christian (as the fore-named great person speaks) can no more be without the scriptures, than an artificer without his tools; yet we must acknowledge, that he will make but ill work with them in many places, unless he be instructed how to use and apply them to the purpose for which they were designed. Whosoever, therefore, shall assist the minds of Christians, by giving a clear meaning of them, (in which that holy Father employed much of his time), it is certain, doth great service to God, and to their souls. For this contributes much to the honour of the holy scriptures, (which want nothing to make them reverenced by considering men, but to be understood), and it invites men to the reading them, and it conveys the heavenly truth easily and delightfully to their minds.
Which hath moved me to attempt the explaining of the most ancient book in the whole Bible, by way of a short Paraphrase. In which, if I have not always tied myself to our English translation, (which ever gives an excellent sense of the original words), it was because I thought another meaning sometimes more agreeable to the whole discourse ; which I have endeavoured to carry on coherently from first to last. But if the matter would bear it, I have, when I met with a word of two senses, expressed them both. And where I found any difficulty, I consulted with such interpreters as are of best note in the church ; being unwilling to do any thing without the warrant of some or other of them. I was forced indeed here and there to follow only my own judgement; but not without the appearance of very urgent reasons ; of which I if should give an account, by adding notes to those places, it would make this, which I intend for common use, swell into, too big a volume. I have only, therefore, (in the Argument prefixed to each chapter), pointed to such histories in the Bible as may help to illustrate some passages; and shewn how the dispute is managed, till God himself determine it.
But there are two things of which I think myself bound to give a larger account, to avoid the imputation of such novelty as may be justly censured. The one is, That I have interpreted those three known verses in the 19th chapter, 25.-- 27. not of Job's resurrection from the dead at the last day, but of his restauration to an happy estate in this world, after he had been so sorely afflicted. There are many, of no mean esteem, (Mr Calvin amongst the rest), who have done so before me; in following whom I do not forsake the sense of the ancient doctors. For though I take that to be the literal sense of the words, yet I doubt not there is another more secret and hidden, which lies covered under them; and that we ought to look upon Job's restauration (and so I have always explained it) as a notable type of the future resurrection of our bodies out of the grave. And accordingly our Church hath very fitly applied the words (as many of the Fathers do) to this purpose, in the office for the burial of the dead.
St Hierom (or the author of the Commentaries upon Job under his name) is my guide in this business ; who saith no more than this, that Job in these words, " resurrectionem futuram prophetat in Spiritu,” prophesieth in the Spirit the future resurrection. Now, the words of the prophets had commonly an immediate respect to something which was then doing, or shortly to be done, besides that sense which the Holy Ghost directed them to signify in the latter days. And so had these words of Job, of which that Father indeed gives us only the mystical sense ; but he doth so in many other places of that book, where it is certain and acknowledged the holy man had another meaning, in which he was more nearly concerned. I shall refer the reader only to one place in the first chapter, where he saith, that Job did “ ferre typum Christi t,” and therefore expound those words, ver. 20. 21. in this manner, “ Ele fell on the ground when he emptied hiin.
+ And so he saith in his preface, “ Figuram Christi portavit.'' And in his conclusion, xlii. 14. “ Figuram manifeste habuit Salvatoris."
* in Lazar. tom. V. 243.
self of the form of God, to take on him the form of a servant; and came naked out of his mother's womb, being not aspersed with the least spot of original sin.” He that will may read what follows, and see how he only sets down a mystical sense, when it is certain another (upon which that is built) is first intended. And so we are to take his exposition upon these words, which,“ secundum mysticos intellectas,” (as he speaks, xxxviii. 16.), according to the hidden interpretations, are to be understood of the resurrection of the dead at the second coming of Christ ; but relate in the first place to Job's resurrection out of that miserable condition wherein he lay, which was a figure of the other. " They, therefore, who interpret these words otherwise, (to speak with that Father in his commentaries upon Ezekiel xxxvii. 1. &c.), ought not to make me ill thought of, as if by expounding them in the literal sense only, I took away & proof of the resurrection from the dead. For I know there are far stronger testimonies (of which there can be no doubt nor dispute) to be found for the confirmation of that truth. On those let us rely, on the plain words of him who is the truth, (and of whom Job was but a figure), which are abundantly sufficient to support our faith ; and let none imagine, that we “give occasion to heretics,” (as he speaks presently after), “ if we deny these words to be meant of the general resurrection."
The second thing of which I am to give an account is, that I have not expounded Behemoth to signify the Elephant, nor Leviathan to signify the Whale ; because many of their characters do not agree to them; but every one of them to the description which the writers of natural history have given of two other creatures. And therefore I have herein followed the guidance of that excellent critic Bochartus, who takes the former for the river-horse, and the latter for the crocodile ; as I have expressed it in the margin, but put neither of them in the text. For I leave every one, as our translators have done, to apply the words to any other creatures, if they can find any besides those now mentioned which have all the qualities that are ascribed to them,
I have adventured also in the begianing to add a few words, as the manner of paraphrasts is, to give an account of the time when Job lived, which seems to have been before the children of Israel came out of Egypt. For though there be plain mention of the drowning of the old world, and the burning of Sodom, in this book ; yet there is no allusion to the drowning of Pharaoh, and other miraculous works which attended · their deliverance. Nor is there any notice taken of that revelation of God's will to Moses, when Elihu reckons up those ways whereby God was wont to discover himself to men. Such like reasons moved* Ori. gen to say, that Job was ágyarótico xj Mauriws avrš, more ancient than even Moses himself; and Eusebiust to pronounce that he was before Moses two whole
Which is conformable to the opinion of many of the Hebrew writers, who (as Mr Selden observes 1) think Job lived in the days of Isaac and Jacob. The judgement of other Eastern people is not much different from this, as may be seen in Hottinger's Smegna Orientale ||.
And therefore one use we may make of this book is, to inform ourselves what are the true natural dictates of human reason ; which teaches greater chastity than many Christians are now willing to observe ; strict justice, both private and public ; compassionate charity to those who are in need ; together with a pious care to please God, and to worship and confide in him alone; as we may learn here better than from any other book in the world. For in the 21st chapter, Job gives such a character of his life, with respect to all these, as declares both that there is a law written in our hearts, and what instractions it gives us, if we will attend to it. There is not the least syllable that we read concerning his being circumcised, or observing the Sab. bath, or such like parts of the Mosaical discipline, which assures us he was neither a natural Israelite, nor a proselyte, (as St Austin speaksg), and yet he found such a rule of life in himself, that, by the assistance of the divine grace, he ordered not only his outward actions, but the inward motions of his mind, after such a manner as is " not unsuitable to the evangelical doctrine of our Saviour.” They are the words of Eusebius in the place forenamed; where he doth not fear to add, that " the word of Christ hath published to all nations that most ancient manner of godliness which was among the first Fathers; so that the new covenant is. no other than that old godly polity, which was before the times of Moses ;" I may add, before the time that Abraham was circumcised; when, as St Chrysostom speaks very significantly **, aqxãi kuri të vopes tò ervados sej
, αντί το νόμο το και Royaouds, their conscience and the use of reason sufficed instead of the law.
The Hebrew books, indeed, are full of discourses concerning certain precepts which all mankind after the flood observed, but cannot all of them be deduced from the principles of reason. They call them the seven precepts of the sons of Noah, who delivered them, they say, to all his children, by whom the world was peopled; and therefore the Israelites ever exacted the observance of them from all those Gentiles whom they admitted as proselytes at large to their religion. Two of those precepts concerned their duty toward the blessed Creator ; the next four respected their duty towards their neighbours; the last forbade cruelty towards other creatures. They are reckoned up commonly in this order : I. Concerning strange worship, or idolatry. 11. About blaspheming the name of God. III. About murder. IV. About the uncovering of nakedness, or all filthy mixtures. V. About theft and rapine. VI. About judicatures and civil government; to make the other precepts more carefully observed. VII. About not eating of any flesh which is
Lib. i. contra Celsum, p. 305. | Lib. vii.' De Jure Nat. &c. Cap. II. ** Upon Rom. ii. 14.
+ Lib. i. Demonstr. Evangel. Cap. 6. || Pag. 381. 452 453. ♡ Lib. xviii. Cap. 47. De Civit. Dei,
cut off from any animal alive. The authors that treat of these are innumerable, among whom I shall only mention Maimonides, who thus delivers his opinion of them in his Treatise of Kings, chap. ix.
“ Adam the first man received commands about six things, (which are those first above mentioned), from whence it is, that the mind of man inclines more pronely to them, than to the rest of the commands which we have received from our master Moses. Besides these, it is manifest Noah received another, according to what we read, Gen. ix. 4. “ Flesh with the life thereof you shall not eat.” And thus things stood throughout the whole world until the days of Abraham, to whom there was superadded the precept of circumcision."
But as there is not the least sign that circumcision was part of Job's religion, so there is no footstep at all remaining of his observance of the last of those seven precepts, which they say all the sons of Noah, who were pions, carefully obeyed. A great man of our own nation * hath sifted this business with as much diligence as is possible ; but after all his search, he is fain to stop at those first six precepts delivered to Adam. For though this general character be given of Job in the beginning of the book, that he was a perfect, or simple and upright man, fearing God, and eschewing evil; and in the 31st chapter, and other places, there are particular instances given of his abhorring strange worship, (ver. 26.); blasphemy, (chap. i. 5.); murder, (xxxi. 29. 31.); adultery, and other filthiness, (ib. ver. 1. 9.); theft, rapine, and deceit, (ver. 5.—7.); for the punishment of which he mentions judges in his days, (ver. 11. 28.); and was himself one of the chief, (xxix. 11.); yet here is not so much as one word to be found, that I can discern, concerning the seventh precept, whether we understand thereby eating flesh with the blood in it, or, which is more likely, (because other nations which were not Jew's might lawfully eat that which died of itself, Deut. xiv. 21.), eating that which was cut alive from any living creature.
Which makes me think that it was not so generally known, as the Jews now pretend, till the memory of it was revived by Moses, among whose ancestors the tradition was more carefully preserved than in other nations. For Job, and such like pious persons, seem to have been governed by those precepts only which the first man received ; that is, the dictates of natural reason. According to those words of Tertullian, in his Book against the Jews, where he contends t, that “ before the law of Moses written in tables of stone, there was a law not written, which was naturally understood, and observed by the Fathers;" which he elsewhere calls the “common law, which we meet withal in publico mundi, in the streets and highways of the world, in the natural tables ;" which mankind having broken, our Saviour came to repair and renew ; abro. gating the law of Moses, in which the Jews had placed too much confidence, while they neglected these nataral precepts. Or rather, He hath not only engaged us by his holy sacraments to observe those more strictly, but raised them also to a greater height of purity; according to that of St Chrysostom, in his Book of Virginity, “ We are to shew greater virtue, because now there is an abundant grace poured out ; and great is the gift of the coming of Christ.” But the principal benefit (to omit the naming of many other whereby I might recommend this work)
I which I hope pious souls, especially the afficted, will reap by this book, is to be persuaded thereby that all things are ordered and disposed by Almighty God, without whose command or permission, neither good angels, nor the devil, nor men, nor any other creature, can do any thing. And that as his power is infinite, so is his wisdom and goodness, which is able to bring good out of evil. And therefore we ought not to complain of him in any condition, as if he neglected us, or dealt hardly with us; but rather chearfully submit ourselves to his blessed will, which never doth any thing without reason, though we cannot always comprehend it. To that issue God himself at last brings all the dispute between Job and his friends, representing his works throughout the world to be so wonderful and unaccountable, that it is fit for us to acknowledge our ignorance, but never accuse his providence; if we cannot see the cause why he sends any afliction, or continues it long upon us, instead of murmuring and complaining in such a case, this book effectually teaches us to resign ourselves absolutely to him ; silently to adore and reverence the unsearchable depths of his wise councils ; contentedly to bear what he inflicts upon us; still to assert his righteousness, in the midst of the calamities that befal the good, and in the most prosperous successes of the wicked ; and stedfastly to believe that all at last shall turn to our advantage, if, like his servant Job, we persevere in faith, and hope, and patience.
To which this book gives so high an encouragement, and contains such powerful comforts for the afflicted, that the old tradition is, Moses could not find any thing like it for the support and satisfaction of the Israelites in their Egyptian bondage, and therefore took the pains to translate it into their language, out of the Syriac, wherein it was first written. Thus he who writes the Commentaries upon this book under the name of Origen, tells us, “ That he found, in antiquorum dictis, in the sayings of the ancients, that when the great Moses was sent by God into Egypt, and beheld the affliction of the children of ásrael to be so grievous, that nothing he could say was able to comfort them in that lamentable condition, he declared to them the terrible sufferings of Job, with his happy deliverance; and setting them down in writing also, gave this book to that distressed people; that reading these things in their several tribes and families, and hearing how sorely this blessed man suffered, they might comfort and exhort one another to endure, with patience and thanks