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CHAPTER XVIII.

JOB.

THE DEATH OF SELF.

Keynote: Heb. xii. 5-11.

THE book of Esther, as we have seen, closed the historical series of books in the Old Testament. In Job we now enter upon another series, containing, I think, the inward exercises of the hearts of God's people, as to sanctification. This series consists of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs; and seems to give us a progressive development of heart experience, beginning with the deal of self in Job, and culminating in a realized union with the Lord in the Song of Songs.

In Job we have the death of self. Man is taught to see himself as he really is in the Lord's presence. His utter weakness and need are here revealed to him, and he is brought to an end of the self-life. In Psalms we 278 have the resurrection life, the "life hid with Christ in God." Man is there taught to know the Lord, and is shown how to draw from Him the supplies for his weakness and need. In Proverbs we have this dead and risen man surrendering himself to the teachings of Divine wisdom, by which he is shown the path to walk in. In Ecclesiastes the world is sought in vain for an object to satisfy this deeply-taught soul. And in the Song of Songs this Object is found, and the heart rests eternally in a realized union with its Beloved. Job is the first step in the soul's experience, and Canticles is the last; and Canticles can never be reached, until Job has been first passed through. These steps are more or less marked in the experience of every sanctified soul, I think, and come mostly in the same order. We must first be brought to an end of self, as in Job, before we can learn what it is to live the life hid with Christ in God, as in Psalms. But in this resurrection life, we realize the need of guidance in order to walk safely through the crooked paths of the world, and must therefore yield ourselves up to the teachings of Divine wisdom, as in Proverbs. The world will then drop from our hands as an utterly unsatisfying thing, as in Ecclesiastes. And finally the soul will find itself prepared to be united to its Lord in a blessed oneness, which forever satisfies its needs and its longings, as in Canticles.

The first step in this developing series of heart exercises is, as I have said, that man should be brought to an end of self; and the Lord's first dealings with him, 279 therefore, will be directed to this. In the book of Job we seem to have these dealings plainly set before us, and are there shown, as it were, the Lord's processes with His saints. We get behind the scenes here, into His secret counsels, and are made to understand the hidden mystery of trial, and see how it all has its spring in God, let the instrumentalities be what they may; and is all meant to make us "partakers of His holiness." It is the work of the Refiner that is here revealed to us. And I feel that it is unspeakably blessed for us, thus as it were, to get a glimpse into His work-shop, and see His processes of refining the gold committed to His care. The mystery of suffering is so unfathomable to most of us, and the questions it asks are so unanswerable, and often so agonizing, that we cannot be thankful enough for the glorious and satisfying answer given us in this book of Job; nor can we rest our hearts too utterly upon the revelation here made. "No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous. Nevertheless afterward it worketh the peaceable fruits of righteousness to them that are exercised thereby." This is the lesson of Job.

Job was a righteous man, coming under the refining and purifying hand of the Lord, in order that he might be brought to an end of self, and might have a revelation of God to his soul. And in this he was a sample and a foretelling of the thousands of saints since, who have had to go through similar processes, for the same glorious and blessed end." There was a certain 280 man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil," i. 1.

It was necessary that a righteous man should have been chosen for that which was to follow, since it is the training of God's saints that is here set forth; and none but a good man could have understood the lessons or profited by them. Moreover it is plain to the simplest comprehension, that a wicked man needs to be brought to the end of himself. But that an upright man, who "fears God and eschews evil," should also need this, is not so clear. And some who can look, with a complacent comprehension of the divine purposes, on the trials that fall to the lot of the sinners around them, are yet unable to discover any reason for the mysterious dispensation of suffering to themselves. They are conscious, it may be, of the integrity of their hearts, and cannot see the justice or the need of their trials. "I was doing what I believed to be right," such a one will say, and "why should these things come upon me?" But the subtle forms of self-life that would ruin us, if left undiscovered and unchecked, are often most vigorous in those whose outward walk is all that could be desired; and it needs sometimes a very sharp discipline to uproot them. And in this fact lies hidden, doubtless, the secret of much that is mysterious in the dealings of the Lord with the souls of His servants. He loves us too much to permit any evil to linger undiscovered and uncured in our natures, and He will probe us to the very bottom by His dispensations, 281 before He will suffer the hurt of His people to be slightly healed. This is not severity, but mercy. For the great object of all the discipline of life here, is character-building. We are to be the "friends of God" throughout all eternity, and to be His friends means something far grander than merely being saved by Him, and requires a far deeper harmony with His will. Therefore it is an unspeakable boon for us, that He loves us enough to take the necessary pains to make us meet for companionship with Himself. How well we know the strength of love it requires for us to discipline our children, in order to make them what they ought to be, and how often we fail just through a selfish weakness. Let us be thankful, then, that we have to do with a God who is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity with any toleration, and whose love is so strong that He will not withhold the hand of His discipline, until He has purely purged away all our dross, and taken away all our tin, and has presented us to Himself a "glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."

Job, as I have said, shows us the divine process by which all this is accomplished. It is "baptism unto death." By all that happened to Job, he was brought to a know- ledge of his own heart, and was made to abhor himself in dust and ashes. The instrument used was Satan, but the Hand that used this instrument was the Lord's. In both cases, when Job's possessions were taken, and also when his own body was smitten with sores, Satan's power extended only so far as the Lord permitted, and not 282 one hair's breadth further. At first the Lord said, "Behold, all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thy hand," i. 12. And afterward he said, "Behold he is in thine hand; but save his life," ii. 6. Therefore, while Satan seemed to do it all, there was One behind Satan, who overruled everything, and made it all work together to accomplish His purposes of grace toward Job.

First, the Sabeans fell upon Job's oxen and asses, and the servants who were ploughing with them, and destroyed them all. Then, "the fire of God" fell from Heaven and consumed his sheep and their shepherds. Next, the Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon his camels, and carried them away. Then, there came a great wind from the wilderness and caused the house to fall upon his children and kill them, i. 13-19. And finally Satan smote Job himself "with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown," ii. 7. To all these trials were added the reproaches and misunderstanding of his friends; until Job's life seemed to be utterly ruined, and as though it must end in nothing but humiliation and defeat on every hand. But it was only the "seen thing" which was thus ruined. The "unseen thing" in the mind of the Lord, was the "exceeding and eternal weight of glory "which was to be the outcome of this ruin. The outward man, it is true, seemed to perish, but the inward man was renewed day by day. And by all that Satan was thus permitted to do, Job was brought at last to the place of emptying, where the Lord could reveal Himself in glorious fulness.

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The Sabeans, and the Chaldeans, the fire, the wind, and the sore sickness, were the agencies employed to accomplish this blessed result. And man, judging by "feeble sense," would have seen only these. But the curtain has been lifted for us, and we see behind these furls of trial, One who sits as a Refiner and Purifier of silver, and who controls and guides it all. He knew the heart of His servant Job, and that his successful and prosperous career, and even his very righteousness, were in danger of building up a subtle form of self-life, that would in the end, if unchecked, drag him down into the miry clay. Therefore He used Satan to spoil it, that in the spoiling, Job himself might be saved.

This story of Job is, I believe, enacted over and over in our midst now. The righteous suffer, and we cannot tell why. "Mysterious providences," as we call them, darken and apparently ruin the lives of those who have seemed too good to need such discipline. Even to ourselves come afflictions that we cannot understand. And Satan seems so busy in the matter, that it is hard to trace the hand of the Lord in it at all. But His hand is in it nevertheless, and He overrules everything. Not a trial comes except by His permission, and for some wise and loving purpose, which, however perhaps, only eternity will disclose.

The Sabeans and the Chaldeans may carry away our property. Fires and storms may deprive us of all that we love and value. Sore sickness may lay its hand upon us. Friends may misjudge and reproach us. But behind 284 them all, our Father sits, measuring out each bitter drop with His own unerring wisdom and unspeakable love.

Earthly parents deal thus continually smith their children. Their watchful eyes discover incipient diseases, long before the children perhaps feel any uncomfortable symptoms themselves, and they administer the needed medicines, often when it seems very mysterious and unreasonable to the child. And yet the parent's closet may be full of medicines, and all remain untouched for months, if no need is discovered. A parent's love is too tender to inflict unnecessary doses, and too strong to spare the dose that is needed.

We may be sure, therefore, that here lies the secret of all that seems so mysterious in the discipline of our lives, whether it is outward or inward trial. Our loving and wise Physician has discovered in us some incipient disease, that He knows will ruin us, if it remains unchecked, and He is applying the remedy. Would we stay His hand, even if we could? Surely not. For more than anything else we, too, want for ourselves soul health; and any remedy that will bring it to us, is more than welcome. Above all do we want to have that done for us which was done for Job, and to be brought to the end of self as he was, and have, as he had, a revelation of God to our souls. We sing, and we mean it,

"Oh! to be nothing, nothing,

Only to lie at His feet,

A broken and emptied vessel,

For the Master's use made meet.

285Emptied, that He might fill me,

As forth to His service I go;

Broken, that so unhindered,

His life through me might flow.”

But when the Lord takes us at our word, and begins to empty us, and to break us, the means He is obliged to use, puzzle us, and seem unreasonable, and even often unkind and unjust. No chastening for the present can seem joyous to us; but must necessarily be grievous, and we ought not to think it "mysterious" that it should be so. We must not question, therefore, nor admit the slightest inward rebellion against it, but thankfully submit to that which our Lord permits to come, let the instrumentality be what it may, whether Satan directly, or the wickedness and treachery of men. For not a sparrow falls without our Father's notice, and all that He permits to come upon us is meant to make us "partakers of His holiness," if only we are rightly exercised thereby. For it is the cross, and the cross alone, that brings us out of self. And lives that we are apt to call wasted, which have ended in sorrow and humiliation, are not really wasted, but are simply being stripped of that which separated them from the Lord, and from a perfect conformity to His likeness. And that man is happy who goes into the next world emptied of self, no matter how painful the humbling may have been.

But Job's friends, as so many now, saw nothing of all this. They thought they entirely understood the Lord's dealings, and that what He did must simply be a just 286 reward for Job's sins. Eliphaz said, "Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished being innocent? Or where were the righteous cut off?" iv. 7. Bildad also said, "If thou wert pure and upright, surely now He would awake for thee, and make the habitation of thy righteousness prosperous," viii. 6. And finally Zophar said, "Know therefore that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth," xi. 6. See also xxii. 3-11. These three friends coldly reasoned concerning the Lord, that His outward dealings towards men are an adequate representation of His relationship with them, and that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth is always His way; therefore, because Job was in trouble, it manifested the Lord's disapproval and anger. We, who see behind the scenes, know how mistaken was this view, for it was really the Lord' s love and approval of Job, that was at the secret source of all that had happened. For the Lord said to Satan, "Hast thou considered my servant Job that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil?" i. 8. As the potter will cast aside the poorest vases, as not worth any further trouble, but will expend all his energies on perfecting and beautifying one that is already beautiful, so the Lord chose Job out of all the men living on the earth at that time, as being the one most worthy of His utmost skill to fashion and mould to His will. It is the old rule, "For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance." Because Job had so much righteousness 287 already, the Lord desired to make him altogether right, down to the very bottom; and his trials, therefore, if they had been rightly understood, were but a proof of that blessed sort of approval, that cannot be satisfied with anything but complete perfection in the object of its love. But Job's friends had not such a knowledge of God as would have enabled them to dream of this. Their view of Him was the shallow outward view of hearts, who have not yet gone into the depths, either for themselves or others. They looked upon Him as a hard and exacting Master, instead of a loving and tender Father, and construed the blessed. justice of One who knows the weakness and the infirmities of those He judges, into the stern and revengeful injustice of a tyrant, who makes no allowance for human need. They lost sight of the Saviour in the Judge. "Behold God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will He help the evil-doers," was the whole of their creed. It was all works, works, works: "this do, and thou shalt live." And in this they were a fitting type of every legalist since, who will not believe in any justification but the justification of works.

Job, conscious of the integrity of his heart, and roused by the unjust reproaches of his friends, appealed from them to the Lord. His friends, he felt, did not understand him, but he knew the Lord did, and he was not afraid to pour out all his heart before Him. The very freedom of his complaints and reproaches revealed the depth of his childlike confidence in Him. "Oh that I 288 might know where I might find Him! that I might come even to His seat! I would order my cause before Him and fill my mouth with arguments. I would know the words which He would answer me, and understand what He would say unto me. Will He plead against me with His great power? No; but He would put His strength in me," xxiii. 3-6. Job was sure that if he could only see the Lord, and get at His reasons , all would be made plain. "Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. . . . Then call thou, and I will answer: or let me speak and answer thou me. How many are my iniquities and sins? Make me to know my transgressions. Wherefore hidest thou thy face, and holdest me for thine enemy? Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro? and wilt thou pursue the dry stubble?" xiii. 3, 22-24. And through it all he trusted. His mouth was full of complaints and of anguish, and even of reproaches; but they were, after all, the complaints and the reproaches of a soul who knew that his Redeemer lived, and who at the bottom trusted all the time. "Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him," xiii. 15. "For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though after my skin, worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: whom I shall see for myself and not another; though my reins consume within me." xix. 25-27.

Job proved moreover, that outward prosperity was no test of righteousness, by pointing out the prosperous circumstances 289 of the wicked. "The tabernacles of robbers prosper, and they that provoke God are secure; into whose hand God bringeth abundantly," xiii. 6. "Their seed is established in their sight with them, and their offspring before their eyes. Their houses are safe from fear, neither is the rod of God upon them," xxi. 7-14. And he showed that if righteousness were indeed the test of prosperity, none could be prosperous, because none in the sight of the Lord are really righteous. "If I wash myself with snow water, and make my hands never so clean, yet shalt thou plunge me in the ditch, and mine own clothes shall abhor me," ix. 30, 31.

Notwithstanding all his rebellious complaints, Job knew the Lord so much better than his three friends, and set forth His character and His ways so much more truly, that the Lord's own verdict, given to Eliphaz the Temanite was, "My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends; for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right as my servant Job has," xlii. 7. The resignation of these three friends to Job's sorrows, and their exalting of the Lord's rigid justice in His dealings with men, sound to a surface reader far more pious than poor Job's rebellious complaints; but the fact remains that the Lord Himself was angry with them for not speaking the thing that was right, as He declared His servant Job did. And when we look below the surface, we get at the secret. Job believed in a Saviour, they believed in a Judge. And all the rest was included in this. Job knew something of God's love; they were ignorant of it. 290 To Job He was a Father, to them He was only a Law-giver. Job trusted Him, although he did not understand Him; they thought they understood Him, but were afraid of Him. Theirs was a salvation of works; Job's was a salvation of faith. They misjudged the Lord, and ascribed to Him a character that He could not but hate. Therefore Job, with all his complaints and his questionings, was far more acceptable, because through it all, and in spite of it all, he trusted. And doubtless this is so still, and the man who trusts, even in the midst of utter darkness, and while acknowledging that he cannot understand, pleases the Lord far better than the cold reasonings of hearts who know Him not, and who attribute to Him therefore characteristics that grieve Him. More than anything else, I feel sure, He wants our utter confidence, and would far rather we would trust that His ways are right, than try to explain them. It is not comprehension we desire from our children, but confidence. And we can love even the very complaints that come from this confidence, far better than the constrained and stiff backwardness that is our homage from those who know us not. Love, love, love! is the one universal cry of every heart, whether Divine or human, and no homage but love can satisfy.

But although Job had thus spoken of the Lord that which was right, in comparison with his three friends, yet the deep-seated evil of his heart came out at last in his self-justifications. Sinful self had been conquered in him, but righteous self was mighty. Chapters xxix., 291 xxx., xxxi. bring this to light: "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem." Job was satisfied with himself. He was good, and he knew it, and his heart was lifted up within him. This was a very subtle, but a very fatal form of self-life, and nothing would have reached it and destroyed it but those very "mysterious" dealings, against which poor Job so rebelled. "He was righteous in his own eyes," we are told," and "justified himself rather than God," xxxii. 2. And this was more disastrous than any other form of evil; therefore it must be rooted out at whatever cost. I believe that just here many fail, and need sore discipline. Their very righteousness and religious success builds up self in them, and nothing but a complete overthrow of all will root it out. Sometimes the contrast between chapters xxix. and xxx. is experienced now, and Christians who once could say with Job, "Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel;" afterwards are driven to say as he did, "But now am I their song: yea I am their byword. They abhor me, they flee from me, and spare not to spit in my face." Such know not why this is, and their friends know not, and perhaps reproach them. But the Lord knows, and, behind all the 292 wrath of the enemy, He is at work, sitting "as a refiner and purifier of silver," watching for the moment when the perfect reflection of His own image in the molten metal, shall assure Him that the work is accomplished, and the dross is all purged away.

That moment came when Job could say from the depth of a convicted heart, "I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes," xlii. 5, 6. But it did not come, until the Lord had revealed Himself. That which all the reproaches and accusations of his friends had failed to do, one sight of God accomplished in a moment. Job had prayed that he might but see Him and hear Him speak, and the answer had come, bringing with it a revelation of self, which Job could hardly have expected, and yet which he found to be the beginning of richest blessings. He saw the Lord, but he also saw himself, as he was in the Lord's presence, and all his self-righteousness turned into filthy rags in an instant.

Chapters xxxii. to xli. give us this revelation, first through the lips of Elihu, and then directly from the mouth of the Lord Himself. These chapters are unspeakably grand revelations of the Almighty. They show us His infinite greatness and His infinite goodness in such a glorious union, as to give to every heart that receives their teaching, an eternal rest. His ways are here declared to be ALWAYS RIGHT, let them look as they may to the eyes of men. And we are shown, therefore, 293 that there is nothing left for us to do but to trust Him: "Although thou sayest I shall not see Him, yet judgment is before Him, therefore trust thou in Him," xxxv. 14. Yes, trust Him always, everywhere, and through everything. We must not question His dealing, for He is too great for us to comprehend, and yet too wise to make a mistake. "Behold God is great and we know Him not; neither can the number of His years be searched out," xxxvi. 26. "God thundereth marvellously with His voice; great things doeth He which we cannot comprehend," xxxvii. 5. "Touching the Almighty, we cannot find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of justice: He will not afflict." xxxvii. 23. "Yea, surely God will not do wickedly, neither will the Almighty pervert judgment." xxxiv. 12. Such was the testimony of Elihu who spoke to Job "in God's stead" and on His behalf. And the Lord Himself also spoke. "Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said, . . "Gird up now thy loins like a man: for I will demand of thee and answer thou Me. Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast understanding.  . . . Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? Wilt thou condemn Me that thou mayst be righteous? Hast thou an arm like God? Or canst thou thunder with a voice like Him? Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty.  . . . Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee." Who can wonder that his rebellious reasonings silenced forever 294 by such a revelation of God's greatness and his own unspeakable nothingness, Job should exclaim, "Behold I am vile: what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth." xl. 4. In such a Presence we may well be dumb. But not with fear, only with adoring love. "For this God is our God even for ever and ever; He will be our guide even unto death."

Job did, however, at last "answer the Lord," but it was simply by a confession of the Divine omnipotence, and his own nothingness. All his self-justifications were over forever, and from henceforth he would have eyes and ears for none but the Lord and His glory. "Then Job answered the Lord and said, I know that Thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from Thee. Who is he that hideth counsel without knowledge? Therefore have I uttered that I understood not, things too wonderful for me which I knew not. Hear I beseech Thee and I will speak: I will demand of Thee, and declare Thou unto me. I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth Thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." xlii. 1-6.

Upon the lap of God's greatness Job could now lie down in perfect content, satisfied to be nothing in himself, since he belonged to the omnipotent One.

"For greatness which is infinite, makes room

For all things in its lap to lie;

We should be crushed by a magnificence

Short of eternity.

295            *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

"But what is infinite must be a home,

A shelter for the meanest life,

Where it is free to reach its greatest growth,

Far from the touch of strife.

            *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Thus doth Thy hospitable greatness lie

Outside us like a boundless sea;

We cannot lose ourselves where all is home,

Nor drift away from Thee.

            *                    *                    *                    *                    *                    *

"Great God! our lowliness takes heart to play

Beneath the shadow of Thy state;

The only comfort of our littleness

Is that Thou art so great.

Then on Thy grandeur I will lay me down;

Already life is heaven for me;

No cradled child more softly lies than I, --

Come soon Eternity!"

One deeply important lesson to be drawn from this experience of Job's is this, that all true knowledge of self and abhorrence of self must come, not from self-examination, but from beholding the Lord. Until Job had his eyes opened to see the Lord, he was very well satisfied with himself, and all his self-examination seemed to lead only to self-justification. But the moment the Lord was revealed, all was changed, and the man, who, while looking at self had seen nothing but good, now abhors himself in dust and ashes.

Self-examination is sometimes extolled among Christians as a most commendable and necessary duty; but in 296 my view it is often a very great evil. It leads either to self- justification and self-commiseration, or else to discouragement and despair. It fills our lives with chapters full of the personal pronoun "I" and "my," as Job's was. While the soul that looks away from self, and examines the Lord instead, finds its mouth filled with His name, and His praises, and His glorious power. Compare Job xxix, with Psalm lxxi. In the one it is all, I, my, me. In the other it is all, Thou, Thy, Thee. If you will take a pencil and mark these respective words underneath, you will see how striking is the contrast.

I feel very sure that the commands to look unto Jesus, to behold His glory, to have our eyes ever toward the Lord, mean something exceedingly literal. And it is very certain that when we are looking unto Jesus, we cannot see ourselves, for if our face is to the One, our back will necessarily be to the other. It is by "beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord," that we are to be "changed into His image." It is by keeping our eyes "ever toward the Lord," that our feet are to be plucked out of the net. It is by looking unto Him, that all the ends of the earth are to be saved.

And practically we know that nothing hinders us more in our christian life, than to keep our eyes fixed on our- selves, trying to search out evidences of our own goodness and fitness for the mercy of the Lord, or tokens of our growth in grace. If we think we find any, then at once we are frightened at the danger of pride; and if we do not find any, then we are plunged into the depths 297 of discouragement. The true way is to give up self at first, as Job did at last, as hopelessly bad, and to have no eyes nor thoughts for anything but the Lord and His salvation. This, I think, is what the Scriptures mean by self-denial and self-crucifixion. It is to say to this "I," "I am a stranger to you," and to refuse to listen for a moment to its pretensions or its claims.

I am afraid but few will understand this, and fewer still will act upon it. Self is so enticing to us, and self-examination such an interesting and absorbing occupation, that it is very difficult for us really to take in the thought that we are to have no more of it. But experimentally I can say, that I never have any peace nor find any victory, except when I utterly ignore even the existence of self, and turn my eyes and thoughts only on the Lord.

Job's end was a glorious triumph. The discipline had accomplished its work of purification, and the Lord could now bestow upon him double of all his blessings. "And the Lord turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends; also the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before," xiii. 10. The turning point was "when he prayed for his friends;" and it seems to me that it is because this fact was the sign of the inward death to self that had taken place. They had utterly misunderstood and misjudged him, and had heaped undeserved reproaches upon him. But now that he abhorred himself, he felt no resentment towards them, and so partook of the mind of the Lord as to pray for those 298 who had thus "despitefully used him and persecuted him." In the New Testament, our Lord speaks of this as one of the marks of being "perfect even as our Father which is in Heaven is perfect." And I doubt not, it is one of the last surrenders of self and self-love made by any soul.

Thus was Job's discipline completed, and he was brought out of self and into God. The process bad been painful and mysterious, but the end that the Lord had in view, could have been reached by no other means; and could Job have seen into the secret counsels of the Lord from the beginning, he would doubtless have rejoiced at every blow. The "exceeding and eternal weight of glory" worked out for him by what he had passed through, a thousand times more than compensated for it all.

Let us learn the lesson, dear friends; and without a question let us accept the sorrows, and trials, and crosses of our lives, directly from the hands of our loving Father, as being His own choice for us, in order for our being made "partakers of His holiness," no matter what instrumentality may be used to bring them upon us. What if they are mysterious? The ways of the infinite God must be mysterious to the finite creature. Even the ways of earthly parents are often mysterious to the minds of their children, and cannot be explained in any terms that the children could comprehend, even if the parent should be willing to make the explanation. But the day comes, when the children have been trained 299 into such maturity of character, as to be able to under- stand the needs-be for the process of their training, and to understand it by an intuitive perception without any explanation. And the day will come to us, I am sure, if we yield ourselves unresistingly to our Lord's training, when His ways with us will all be vindicated and made glorious, and when we will praise Him for every dispensation of His providence, and for every stroke of His rod.

"God moves in a mysterious way,

His wonders to perform;

He plants His footsteps in the sea,

And rides upon the storm.

Deep in unfathomable mines

Of never failing skill,

He treasures up His bright designs

And works His sovereign will.

"Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take!

The clouds ye so much dread

Are big with mercy, and shall break

In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace;

Behind a frowning providence

He hides a smiling face.

"His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower.

300Blind unbelief is sure to err,

And scan His works in vain;

God is His own Interpreter,

And He will make it plain."


Texts illustrating the Lord's refining processes with his children, and their blessed fruits: -- Jas. v. 10, 11Heb. xii. 5-11Rev. iii. 19Prov. xiii. 24Luke vi. 21-26Matt. v. 10-12Ps. xciv. 12, 131 Pet. iv. 12, 13James i. 2, 3, 12.   John xv.19-21. Matt. x. 22-25. Phil. i. 291 Peter ii. 19-231 Cor. xi. 31, 32Job v. 17Deut. viii. 2-5Prov. iii. 11, 12Jer. xxxi. 18, 19Ps. xxxviii.  Rom. v. 3John xvi. 33Acts xiv. 22Rev. vii. 14Matt. xviii. 8.

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