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Job Replies: God’s Majesty Is Unsearchable

26

Then Job answered:

2

“How you have helped one who has no power!

How you have assisted the arm that has no strength!

3

How you have counseled one who has no wisdom,

and given much good advice!

4

With whose help have you uttered words,

and whose spirit has come forth from you?

5

The shades below tremble,

the waters and their inhabitants.

6

Sheol is naked before God,

and Abaddon has no covering.

7

He stretches out Zaphon over the void,

and hangs the earth upon nothing.

8

He binds up the waters in his thick clouds,

and the cloud is not torn open by them.

9

He covers the face of the full moon,

and spreads over it his cloud.

10

He has described a circle on the face of the waters,

at the boundary between light and darkness.

11

The pillars of heaven tremble,

and are astounded at his rebuke.

12

By his power he stilled the Sea;

by his understanding he struck down Rahab.

13

By his wind the heavens were made fair;

his hand pierced the fleeing serpent.

14

These are indeed but the outskirts of his ways;

and how small a whisper do we hear of him!

But the thunder of his power who can understand?”

 

Job Maintains His Integrity

27

Job again took up his discourse and said:

2

“As God lives, who has taken away my right,

and the Almighty, who has made my soul bitter,

3

as long as my breath is in me

and the spirit of God is in my nostrils,

4

my lips will not speak falsehood,

and my tongue will not utter deceit.

5

Far be it from me to say that you are right;

until I die I will not put away my integrity from me.

6

I hold fast my righteousness, and will not let it go;

my heart does not reproach me for any of my days.

 

7

“May my enemy be like the wicked,

and may my opponent be like the unrighteous.

8

For what is the hope of the godless when God cuts them off,

when God takes away their lives?

9

Will God hear their cry

when trouble comes upon them?

10

Will they take delight in the Almighty?

Will they call upon God at all times?

11

I will teach you concerning the hand of God;

that which is with the Almighty I will not conceal.

12

All of you have seen it yourselves;

why then have you become altogether vain?

 

13

“This is the portion of the wicked with God,

and the heritage that oppressors receive from the Almighty:

14

If their children are multiplied, it is for the sword;

and their offspring have not enough to eat.

15

Those who survive them the pestilence buries,

and their widows make no lamentation.

16

Though they heap up silver like dust,

and pile up clothing like clay—

17

they may pile it up, but the just will wear it,

and the innocent will divide the silver.

18

They build their houses like nests,

like booths made by sentinels of the vineyard.

19

They go to bed with wealth, but will do so no more;

they open their eyes, and it is gone.

20

Terrors overtake them like a flood;

in the night a whirlwind carries them off.

21

The east wind lifts them up and they are gone;

it sweeps them out of their place.

22

It hurls at them without pity;

they flee from its power in headlong flight.

23

It claps its hands at them,

and hisses at them from its place.

 

Interlude: Where Wisdom Is Found

28

“Surely there is a mine for silver,

and a place for gold to be refined.

2

Iron is taken out of the earth,

and copper is smelted from ore.

3

Miners put an end to darkness,

and search out to the farthest bound

the ore in gloom and deep darkness.

4

They open shafts in a valley away from human habitation;

they are forgotten by travelers,

they sway suspended, remote from people.

5

As for the earth, out of it comes bread;

but underneath it is turned up as by fire.

6

Its stones are the place of sapphires,

and its dust contains gold.

 

7

“That path no bird of prey knows,

and the falcon’s eye has not seen it.

8

The proud wild animals have not trodden it;

the lion has not passed over it.

 

9

“They put their hand to the flinty rock,

and overturn mountains by the roots.

10

They cut out channels in the rocks,

and their eyes see every precious thing.

11

The sources of the rivers they probe;

hidden things they bring to light.

 

12

“But where shall wisdom be found?

And where is the place of understanding?

13

Mortals do not know the way to it,

and it is not found in the land of the living.

14

The deep says, ‘It is not in me,’

and the sea says, ‘It is not with me.’

15

It cannot be gotten for gold,

and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.

16

It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,

in precious onyx or sapphire.

17

Gold and glass cannot equal it,

nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.

18

No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;

the price of wisdom is above pearls.

19

The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it,

nor can it be valued in pure gold.

 

20

“Where then does wisdom come from?

And where is the place of understanding?

21

It is hidden from the eyes of all living,

and concealed from the birds of the air.

22

Abaddon and Death say,

‘We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.’

 

23

“God understands the way to it,

and he knows its place.

24

For he looks to the ends of the earth,

and sees everything under the heavens.

25

When he gave to the wind its weight,

and apportioned out the waters by measure;

26

when he made a decree for the rain,

and a way for the thunderbolt;

27

then he saw it and declared it;

he established it, and searched it out.

28

And he said to humankind,

‘Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;

and to depart from evil is understanding.’ ”

 

Job Finishes His Defense

29

Job again took up his discourse and said:

2

“O that I were as in the months of old,

as in the days when God watched over me;

3

when his lamp shone over my head,

and by his light I walked through darkness;

4

when I was in my prime,

when the friendship of God was upon my tent;

5

when the Almighty was still with me,

when my children were around me;

6

when my steps were washed with milk,

and the rock poured out for me streams of oil!

7

When I went out to the gate of the city,

when I took my seat in the square,

8

the young men saw me and withdrew,

and the aged rose up and stood;

9

the nobles refrained from talking,

and laid their hands on their mouths;

10

the voices of princes were hushed,

and their tongues stuck to the roof of their mouths.

11

When the ear heard, it commended me,

and when the eye saw, it approved;

12

because I delivered the poor who cried,

and the orphan who had no helper.

13

The blessing of the wretched came upon me,

and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy.

14

I put on righteousness, and it clothed me;

my justice was like a robe and a turban.

15

I was eyes to the blind,

and feet to the lame.

16

I was a father to the needy,

and I championed the cause of the stranger.

17

I broke the fangs of the unrighteous,

and made them drop their prey from their teeth.

18

Then I thought, ‘I shall die in my nest,

and I shall multiply my days like the phoenix;

19

my roots spread out to the waters,

with the dew all night on my branches;

20

my glory was fresh with me,

and my bow ever new in my hand.’

 

21

“They listened to me, and waited,

and kept silence for my counsel.

22

After I spoke they did not speak again,

and my word dropped upon them like dew.

23

They waited for me as for the rain;

they opened their mouths as for the spring rain.

24

I smiled on them when they had no confidence;

and the light of my countenance they did not extinguish.

25

I chose their way, and sat as chief,

and I lived like a king among his troops,

like one who comforts mourners.

 

30

“But now they make sport of me,

those who are younger than I,

whose fathers I would have disdained

to set with the dogs of my flock.

2

What could I gain from the strength of their hands?

All their vigor is gone.

3

Through want and hard hunger

they gnaw the dry and desolate ground,

4

they pick mallow and the leaves of bushes,

and to warm themselves the roots of broom.

5

They are driven out from society;

people shout after them as after a thief.

6

In the gullies of wadis they must live,

in holes in the ground, and in the rocks.

7

Among the bushes they bray;

under the nettles they huddle together.

8

A senseless, disreputable brood,

they have been whipped out of the land.

 

9

“And now they mock me in song;

I am a byword to them.

10

They abhor me, they keep aloof from me;

they do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.

11

Because God has loosed my bowstring and humbled me,

they have cast off restraint in my presence.

12

On my right hand the rabble rise up;

they send me sprawling,

and build roads for my ruin.

13

They break up my path,

they promote my calamity;

no one restrains them.

14

As through a wide breach they come;

amid the crash they roll on.

15

Terrors are turned upon me;

my honor is pursued as by the wind,

and my prosperity has passed away like a cloud.

 

16

“And now my soul is poured out within me;

days of affliction have taken hold of me.

17

The night racks my bones,

and the pain that gnaws me takes no rest.

18

With violence he seizes my garment;

he grasps me by the collar of my tunic.

19

He has cast me into the mire,

and I have become like dust and ashes.

20

I cry to you and you do not answer me;

I stand, and you merely look at me.

21

You have turned cruel to me;

with the might of your hand you persecute me.

22

You lift me up on the wind, you make me ride on it,

and you toss me about in the roar of the storm.

23

I know that you will bring me to death,

and to the house appointed for all living.

 

24

“Surely one does not turn against the needy,

when in disaster they cry for help.

25

Did I not weep for those whose day was hard?

Was not my soul grieved for the poor?

26

But when I looked for good, evil came;

and when I waited for light, darkness came.

27

My inward parts are in turmoil, and are never still;

days of affliction come to meet me.

28

I go about in sunless gloom;

I stand up in the assembly and cry for help.

29

I am a brother of jackals,

and a companion of ostriches.

30

My skin turns black and falls from me,

and my bones burn with heat.

31

My lyre is turned to mourning,

and my pipe to the voice of those who weep.

 

31

“I have made a covenant with my eyes;

how then could I look upon a virgin?

2

What would be my portion from God above,

and my heritage from the Almighty on high?

3

Does not calamity befall the unrighteous,

and disaster the workers of iniquity?

4

Does he not see my ways,

and number all my steps?

 

5

“If I have walked with falsehood,

and my foot has hurried to deceit—

6

let me be weighed in a just balance,

and let God know my integrity!—

7

if my step has turned aside from the way,

and my heart has followed my eyes,

and if any spot has clung to my hands;

8

then let me sow, and another eat;

and let what grows for me be rooted out.

 

9

“If my heart has been enticed by a woman,

and I have lain in wait at my neighbor’s door;

10

then let my wife grind for another,

and let other men kneel over her.

11

For that would be a heinous crime;

that would be a criminal offense;

12

for that would be a fire consuming down to Abaddon,

and it would burn to the root all my harvest.

 

13

“If I have rejected the cause of my male or female slaves,

when they brought a complaint against me;

14

what then shall I do when God rises up?

When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?

15

Did not he who made me in the womb make them?

And did not one fashion us in the womb?

 

16

“If I have withheld anything that the poor desired,

or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail,

17

or have eaten my morsel alone,

and the orphan has not eaten from it—

18

for from my youth I reared the orphan like a father,

and from my mother’s womb I guided the widow—

19

if I have seen anyone perish for lack of clothing,

or a poor person without covering,

20

whose loins have not blessed me,

and who was not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;

21

if I have raised my hand against the orphan,

because I saw I had supporters at the gate;

22

then let my shoulder blade fall from my shoulder,

and let my arm be broken from its socket.

23

For I was in terror of calamity from God,

and I could not have faced his majesty.

 

24

“If I have made gold my trust,

or called fine gold my confidence;

25

if I have rejoiced because my wealth was great,

or because my hand had gotten much;

26

if I have looked at the sun when it shone,

or the moon moving in splendor,

27

and my heart has been secretly enticed,

and my mouth has kissed my hand;

28

this also would be an iniquity to be punished by the judges,

for I should have been false to God above.

 

29

“If I have rejoiced at the ruin of those who hated me,

or exulted when evil overtook them—

30

I have not let my mouth sin

by asking for their lives with a curse—

31

if those of my tent ever said,

‘O that we might be sated with his flesh!’—

32

the stranger has not lodged in the street;

I have opened my doors to the traveler—

33

if I have concealed my transgressions as others do,

by hiding my iniquity in my bosom,

34

because I stood in great fear of the multitude,

and the contempt of families terrified me,

so that I kept silence, and did not go out of doors—

35

O that I had one to hear me!

(Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)

O that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

36

Surely I would carry it on my shoulder;

I would bind it on me like a crown;

37

I would give him an account of all my steps;

like a prince I would approach him.

 

38

“If my land has cried out against me,

and its furrows have wept together;

39

if I have eaten its yield without payment,

and caused the death of its owners;

40

let thorns grow instead of wheat,

and foul weeds instead of barley.”

 

The words of Job are ended.

 


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Job's Reproof of Bildad. (b. c. 1520.)

1 But Job answered and said,   2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?   3 How hast thou counselled him that hath no wisdom? and how hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is?   4 To whom hast thou uttered words? and whose spirit came from thee?

One would not have thought that Job, when he was in so much pain and misery, could banter his friend as he does here and make himself merry with the impertinency of his discourse. Bildad thought that he had made a fine speech, that the matter was so weighty, and the language so fine, that he had gained the reputation both of an oracle and of an orator; but Job peevishly enough shows that his performance was not so valuable as he thought it and ridicules him for it. He shows,

I. That there was no great matter to be found in it (v. 3): How hast thou plentifully declared the thing as it is? This is spoken ironically, upbraiding Bildad with the good conceit he himself had of what he had said. 1. He thought he had spoken very clearly, had declared the thing as it is. He was very fond (as we are all apt to be) of his own notions, and thought they only were right, and true, and intelligible, and all other notions of the thing were false, mistaken, and confused; whereas, when we speak of the glory of God, we cannot declare the thing as it is, for we see it through a glass darkly, or but by reflection, and shall not see him as he is till we come to heaven. Here we cannot order our speech concerning him, ch. xxxvii. 19. 2. He thought he had spoken very fully, though in few words, that he had plentifully declared it, and, alas! it was but poorly and scantily that he declared it, in comparison with the vast compass and copiousness of the subject.

II. That there was no great use to be made of it. Cui bonoWhat good hast thou done by all that thou hast said? How hast thou, with all this mighty flourish, helped him that is without power? v. 2. How hast thou, with thy grave dictates, counselled him that has no wisdom? v. 3. Job would convince him, 1. That he had done God no service by it, nor made him in the least beholden to him. It is indeed our duty, and will be our honour, to speak on God's behalf; but we must not think that he needs our service, or is indebted to us for it, nor will he accept it if it come from a spirit of contention and contradiction, and not from a sincere regard to God's glory. 2. That he had done his cause no service by it. He thought his friends were mightily beholden to him for helping them, at a dead lift, to make their part good against Job, when they were quite at a loss, and had no strength, no wisdom. Even weak disputants, when warm, are apt to think truth more beholden to them than it really is. 3. That he had done him no service by it. He pretended to convince, instruct, and comfort, Job; but, alas! what he had said was so little to the purpose that it would not avail to rectify any mistakes, nor to assist him either in bearing his afflictions or in getting good by them: "To whom has thou uttered words? v. 4. Was it to me that thou didst direct thy discourse? And dost thou take me for such a child as to need these instructions? Or dost thou think them proper for one in my condition?" Every thing that is true and good is not suitable and seasonable. To one that was humbled, and broken, and grieved in spirit, as Job was, he ought to have preached of the grace and mercy of God, rather than of his greatness and majesty, to have laid before him the consolations rather than the terrors of the Almighty. Christ knows how to speak what is proper for the weary (Isa. l. 4), and his ministers should learn rightly to divide the word of truth, and not make those sad whom God would not have made sad, as Bildad did; and therefore Job asks him, Whose spirit came from thee? that is, "What troubled soul would ever be revived, and relieved, and brought to itself, by such discourses as these?" Thus are we often disappointed in our expectations from our friends who should comfort us, but the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, never mistakes in his operations nor misses of his end.

The Wisdom and Power of God. (b. c. 1520.)

5 Dead things are formed from under the waters, and the inhabitants thereof.   6 Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering.   7 He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing.   8 He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them.   9 He holdeth back the face of his throne, and spreadeth his cloud upon it.   10 He hath compassed the waters with bounds, until the day and night come to an end.   11 The pillars of heaven tremble and are astonished at his reproof.   12 He divideth the sea with his power, and by his understanding he smiteth through the proud.   13 By his spirit he hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent.   14 Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

The truth received a great deal of light from the dispute between Job and his friends concerning those points about which they differed; but now they are upon a subject in which they were all agreed, the infinite glory and power of God. How does truth triumph, and how brightly does it shine, when there appears no other strife between the contenders than which shall speak most highly and honourably of God and be most copious in showing forth his praise! It were well if all disputes about matters of religion might end thus, in glorifying God as Lord of all, and our Lord, with one mind and one mouth (Rom. xv. 6); for to that we have all attained, in that we are all agreed.

I. Many illustrious instances are here given of the wisdom and power of God in the creation and preservation of the world.

1. If we look about us, to the earth and waters here below, we shall see striking instances of omnipotence, which we may gather out of these verses. (1.) He hangs the earth upon nothing, v. 7. The vast terraqueous globe neither rests upon any pillars nor hangs upon any axle-tree, and yet, by the almighty power of God, is firmly fixed in its place, poised with its own weight. The art of man could not hang a feather upon nothing, yet the divine wisdom hangs the whole earth so. It is ponderibus librata suis—poised by its own weight, so says the poet; it is upheld by the word of God's power, so says the apostle. What is hung upon nothing may serve us to set our feet on, and bear the weight of our bodies, but it will never serve us to set our hearts on, nor bear the weight of our souls. (2.) He sets bounds to the waters of the sea, and compasses them in (v. 10), that they may not return to cover the earth; and these bounds shall continue unmoved, unshaken, unworn, till the day and night come to an end, when time shall be no more. Herein appears the dominion which Providence has over the raging waters of the sea, and so it is an instance of his power, Jer. v. 22. We see too the care which Providence takes of the poor sinful inhabitants of the earth, who, though obnoxious to his justice and lying at his mercy, are thus preserved from being overwhelmed, as they were once by the waters of a flood, and will continue to be so, because they are reserved unto fire. (3.) He forms dead things under the waters. Rephaim-giants, are formed under the waters, that is, vast creatures, of prodigious bulk, as whales, giant-like creatures, among the innumerable inhabitants of the water. So bishop Patrick. (4.) By mighty storms and tempests he shakes the mountains, which are here called the pillars of heaven (v. 11), and even divides the sea, and smites through its proud waves, v. 12. At the presence of the Lord the sea flies and the mountains skip, Ps. cxiv. 3, 4. See Hab. iii. 6, &c. A storm furrows the waters, and does, as it were, divide them; and then a calm smites through the waves, and lays them flat again. See Ps. lxxxix. 9, 10. Those who think Job lived at, or after, the time of Moses, apply this to the dividing of the Red Sea before the children of Israel, and the drowning of the Egyptians in it. By his understanding he smiteth through Rahab; so the word is, and Rahab is often put for Egypt; as Ps. lxxxvii. 4; Isa. li. 9.

2. If we consider hell beneath, though it is out of our sight, yet we may conceive the instances of God's power there. By hell and destruction (v. 6) we may understand the grave, and those who are buried in it, that they are under the eye of God, though laid out of our sight, which may strengthen our belief of the resurrection of the dead. God knows where to find, and whence to fetch, all the scattered atoms of the consumed body. We may also consider them as referring to the place of the damned, where the separate souls of the wicked are in misery and torment. That is hell and destruction, which are said to be before the Lord (Prov. xv. 11), and here to be naked before him, to which it is probable there is an allusion, Rev. xiv. 10, where sinners are to be tormented in the presence of the holy angels (who attended the Shechinah) and in the presence of the Lamb. And this may give light to v. 5, which some ancient versions read thus (and I think more agreeably to the signification of the word Rephaim): Behold, the giants groan under the waters, and those that dwell with them; and then follows, Hell is naked before him, typified by the drowning of the giants of the old world; so the learned Mr. Joseph Mede understands it, and with it illustrates Prov. xxi. 16, where hell is called the congregation of the dead; and it is the same word which is here used, and which he would there have rendered the congregation of the giants, in allusion to the drowning of the sinners of the old world. And is there any thing in which the majesty of God appears more dreadful than in the eternal ruin of the ungodly and the groans of the inhabitants of the land of darkness? Those that will not with angels fear and worship shall for ever with devils fear and tremble; and God therein will be glorified.

3. If we look up to heaven above, we shall see instances of God's sovereignty and power. (1.) He stretches out the north over the empty place, v. 7. So he did at first, when he stretched out the heavens like a curtain (Ps. civ. 2); and he still continues to keep them stretched out, and will do so till the general conflagration, when they shall be rolled together as a scroll, Rev. vi. 14. He mentions the north because his country (as ours) lay in the northern hemisphere; and the air is the empty place over which it is stretched out. See Ps. lxxxix. 12. What an empty place is this world in comparison with the other! (2.) He keeps the waters that are said to be above the firmament from pouring down upon the earth, as once they did (v. 8): He binds up the waters in his thick clouds, as if they were tied closely in a bag, till there is occasion to use them; and, notwithstanding the vast weight of water so raised and laid up, yet the cloud is not rent under them, for then they would burst and pour out as a spout; but they do, as it were, distil through the cloud, and so come drop by drop, in mercy to the earth, in small rain, or great rain, as he pleases. (3.) He conceals the glory of the upper world, the dazzling lustre of which we poor mortals could not bear (v. 9): He holds back the face of his throne, that light in which he dwells, and spreads a cloud upon it, through which he judges, ch. xxii. 13. God will have us to live by faith, not by sense; for this is agreeable to a state of probation. It were not a fair trial if the face of God's throne were visible now as it will be in the great day.

Lest his high throne, above expression bright,

With deadly glory should oppress our sight,

To break the dazzling force he draws a screen

Of sable shades, and spreads his clouds between.

Sir R. Blackmore.

(4.) The bright ornaments of heaven are the work of his hands (v. 13): By his Spirit, the eternal Spirit that moved upon the face of the waters, the breath of his mouth (Ps. xxxiii. 6), he has garnished the heavens, not only made them, but beautified them, has curiously bespangled them with stars by night and painted them with the light of the sun by day. God, having made man to look upward (Os homini sublime deditTo man he gave an erect countenance), has therefore garnished the heavens, to invite him to look upward, that, by pleasing his eye with the dazzling light of the sun and the sparkling light of the stars, their number, order, and various magnitudes, which, as so many golden studs, beautify the canopy drawn over our heads, he may be led to admire the great Creator, the Father and fountain of lights, and to say, "If the pavement be so richly inlaid, what must the palace be! If the visible heavens be so glorious, what are those that are out of sight!" From the beauteous garniture of the ante-chamber we may infer the precious furniture of the presence-chamber. If stars be so bright, what are angels! What is meant here by the crooked serpent which his hands have formed is not certain. Some make it part of the garnishing of the heavens, the milky-way, say some; some particular constellation, so called, say others. It is the same word that is used for leviathan (Isa. xxvii. 1), and probably may be meant of the whale or crocodile, in which appears much of the power of the Creator; and why may not Job conclude with that inference, when God himself does so? ch. xli.

II. He concludes, at last, with an awful et cætera (v. 14): Lo, these are parts of his ways, the out-goings of his wisdom and power, the ways in which he walks and by which he makes himself known to the children of men. Here, 1. He acknowledges, with adoration, the discoveries that were made of God. These things which he himself had said, and which Bildad had said, are his ways, and this is heard of him; this is something of God. But, 2. He admires the depth of that which is undiscovered. This that we have said is but part of his ways, a small part. What we know of God is nothing in comparison with what is in God and what God is. After all the discoveries which God has made to us, and all the enquiries we have made after God, still we are much in the dark concerning him, and must conclude, Lo, these are but parts of his ways. Something we hear of him by his works and by his word; but, alas! how little a portion is heard of him? heard by us, heard from us! We know but in part; we prophesy but in part. When we have said all we can, concerning God, we must even do as St. Paul does (Rom. xi. 33); despairing to find the bottom, we must sit down at the brink, and adore the depth: O the depth of the wisdom and knowledge of God! It is but a little portion that we hear and know of God in our present state. He is infinite and incomprehensible; our understandings and capacities are weak and shallow, and the full discoveries of the divine glory are reserved for the future state. Even the thunder of his power (that is, his powerful thunder), one of the lowest of his ways here in our own region, we cannot understand. See ch. xxxvii. 4, 5. Much less can we understand the utmost force and extent of his power, the terrible efforts and operations of it, and particularly the power of his anger, Ps. xc. 11. God is great, and we know him not.

Job's Protestation of His Sincerity. (b. c. 1520.)

1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,   2 As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment; and the Almighty, who hath vexed my soul;   3 All the while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils;   4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit.   5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me.   6 My righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go: my heart shall not reproach me so long as I live.

Job's discourse here is called a parable (mashal), the title of Solomon's proverbs, because it was grave and weighty, and very instructive, and he spoke as one having authority. It comes from a word that signifies to rule, or have dominion; and some think it intimates that Job now triumphed over his opponents, and spoke as one that had baffled them. We say of an excellent preacher that he knows how dominari in concionibus—to command his hearers. Job did so here. A long strife there had been between Job and his friends; they seemed disposed to have the matter compromised; and therefore, since an oath for confirmation is an end of strife (Heb. vi. 16), Job here backs all he had said in maintenance of his own integrity with a solemn oath, to silence contradiction, and take the blame entirely upon himself if he prevaricated. Observe,

I. The form of his oath (v. 2): As God liveth, who hath taken away my judgment. Here, 1. He speaks highly of God, in calling him the living God (which means everliving, the eternal God, that has life in himself) and in appealing to him as the sole and sovereign Judge. We can swear by no greater, and it is an affront to him to swear by any other. 2. Yet he speaks hardly of him, and unbecomingly, in saying that he had taken away his judgment (that is, refused to do him justice in this controversy and to appear in defence of him), and that by continuing his troubles, on which his friends grounded their censures of him, he had taken from him the opportunity he hoped ere now to have of clearing himself. Elihu reproved him for this word (ch. xxxiv. 5); for God is righteous in all his ways, and takes away no man's judgment. But see how apt we are to despair of favour if it be not shown us immediately, so poor-spirited are we and so soon weary of waiting God's time. He also charges it upon God that he had vexed his soul, had not only not appeared for him, but had appeared against him, and, by laying such grievous afflictions upon him had quite embittered his life to him and all the comforts of it. We, by our impatience, vex our own souls and then complain of God that he has vexed them. Yet see Job's confidence in the goodness both of his cause and of his God, that though God seemed to be angry with him, and to act against him for the present, yet he could cheerfully commit his cause to him.

II. The matter of his oath, v. 3, 4. 1. That he would not speak wickedness, nor utter deceit—that, in general, he would never allow himself in the way of lying, that, as in this debate he had all along spoken as he thought, so he would never wrong his conscience by speaking otherwise; he would never maintain any doctrine, nor assert any matter of fact, but what he believed to be true; nor would he deny the truth, how much soever it might make against him: and, whereas his friends charged him with being a hypocrite, he was ready to answer, upon oath, to all their interrogatories, if called to do so. On the one hand he would not, for all the world, deny the charge if he knew himself guilty, but would declare the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and take to himself the shame of his hypocrisy. On the other hand, since he was conscious to himself of his integrity, and that he was not such a man as his friends represented him, he would never betray his integrity, nor charge himself with that which he was innocent of. He would not be brought, no, not by the rack of their unjust censures, falsely to accuse himself. If we must not bear false witness against our neighbour, then not against ourselves. 2. That he would adhere to this resolution as long as he lived (v. 3): All the while my breath is in me. Our resolutions against sin should be thus constant, resolutions for life. In things doubtful and indifferent, it is not safe to be thus peremptory. We know not what reason we may see to change our mind: God may reveal to us that which we now are not aware of. But in so plain a thing as this we cannot be too positive that we will never speak wickedness. Something of a reason for his resolution is here implied—that our breath will not be always in us. We must shortly breathe our last, and therefore, while our breath is in us, we must never breathe wickedness and deceit, nor allow ourselves to say or do any thing which will make against us when our breath shall depart. The breath in us is called the spirit of God, because he breathed it into us; and this is another reason why we must not speak wickedness. It is God that gives us life and breath, and therefore, while we have breath, we must praise him.

III. The explication of his oath (v. 5, 6): "God forbid that I should justify you in your uncharitable censures of me, by owning myself a hypocrite: no, until I die I will not remove my integrity from me; my righteousness I hold fast, and will not let it go." 1. He would always be an honest man, would hold fast his integrity, and not curse God, as Satan, by his wife, urged him to do, ch. ii. 9. Job here thinks of dying, and of getting ready for death, and therefore resolves never to part with his religion, though he had lost all he had in the world. Note, The best preparative for death is perseverance to death in our integrity. "Until I die," that is, "though I die by this affliction, I will not thereby be put out of conceit with my God and my religion. Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him." 2. He would always stand to it that he was an honest man; he would not remove, he would not part with, the conscience, and comfort, and credit of his integrity; he was resolved to defend it to the last. "God knows, and my own heart knows, that I always meant well, and did not allow myself in the omission of any known duty or the commission of any known sin. This is my rejoicing, and no man shall rob me of it; I will never lie against my right." It has often been the lot of upright men to be censured and condemned as hypocrites; but it well becomes them to bear up boldly against such censures, and not to be discouraged by them nor think the worse of themselves for them; as the apostle (Heb. xiii. 18): We have a good conscience in all things, willing to live honestly.

Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conscire sibi.

Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence,

Still to preserve thy conscious innocence.

Job complained much of the reproaches of his friends; but (says he) my heart shall not reproach me, that is, "I will never give my heart cause to reproach me, but will keep a conscience void of offence; and, while I do so, I will not give my heart leave to reproach me." Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies. To resolve that our hearts shall not reproach us when we give them cause to do so is to affront God, whose deputy conscience is, and to wrong ourselves; for it is a good thing, when a man has sinned, to have a heart within him to smite him for it, 2 Sam. xxiv. 10. But to resolve that our hearts shall not reproach us while we still hold fast our integrity is to baffle the designs of the evil spirit (who tempts good Christians to question their adoption, If thou be the Son of God) and to concur with the operations of the good Spirit, who witnesses to their adoption.

Condition of Hypocrites. (b. c. 1520.)

7 Let mine enemy be as the wicked, and he that riseth up against me as the unrighteous.   8 For what is the hope of the hypocrite, though he hath gained, when God taketh away his soul?   9 Will God hear his cry when trouble cometh upon him?   10 Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?

Job having solemnly protested the satisfaction he had in his integrity, for the further clearing of himself, here expresses the dread he had of being found a hypocrite.

I. He tells us how he startled at the thought of it, for he looked upon the condition of a hypocrite and a wicked man to be certainly the most miserable condition that any man could be in (v. 7): Let my enemy be as the wicked, a proverbial expression, like that (Dan. iv. 19), The dream be to those that hate thee. Job was so far from indulging himself in any wicked way, and flattering himself in it, that, if he might have leave to wish the greatest evil he could think of to the worst enemy he had in the world, he would wish him the portion of a wicked man, knowing that worse he could not wish him. Not that we may lawfully wish any man to be wicked, or that any man who is not wicked should be treated as wicked; but we should all choose to be in the condition of a beggar, an out-law, a galley-slave, any thing, rather that in the condition of the wicked, though in ever so much pomp and outward prosperity.

II. He gives us the reasons of it.

1. Because the hypocrite's hopes will not be crowned (v. 8): For what is the hope of the hypocrite? Bildad had condemned it (ch. viii. 13, 14), and Zophar (ch. xi. 20), and Job here concurs with them, and reads the death of the hypocrite's hope with as much assurance as they had done; and this fitly comes in as a reason why he would not remove his integrity, but still hold it fast. Note, The consideration of the miserable condition of wicked people, and especially hypocrites, should engage us to be upright (for we are undone, for ever undone, if we be not) and also to get the comfortable evidence of our uprightness; for how can we be easy if the great concern lie at uncertainties? Job's friends would persuade him that all his hope was but the hope of the hypocrite, ch. iv. 6. "Nay," says he, "I would not, for all the world, be so foolish as to build upon such a rotten foundation; for what is the hope of the hypocrite?" See here, (1.) The hypocrite deceived. He has gained, and he has hope; this is his bright side. It is allowed that he has gained by his hypocrisy, has gained the praise and applause of men and the wealth of this world. Jehu gained a kingdom by his hypocrisy and the Pharisees many a widow's house. Upon this gain he builds his hope, such as it is. He hopes he is in good circumstances for another world, because he finds he is so for this, and he blesses himself in his own way. (2.) The hypocrite undeceived. He will at last see himself wretchedly cheated; for, [1.] God shall take away his soul, sorely against his will. Luke xii. 20, Thy soul shall be required of thee. God, as the Judge, takes it away to be tried and determined to its everlasting state. He shall then fall into the hands of the living God, to be dealt with immediately. [2.] What will his hope be then? It will be vanity and a lie; it will stand him in no stead. The wealth of this world, which he hoped in, he must leave behind him, Ps. xlix. 17. The happiness of the other world, which he hoped for, he will certainly miss of. He hoped to go to heaven, but he will be shamefully disappointed; he will plead his external profession, privileges, and performances, but all his pleas will be overruled as frivolous: Depart from me, I know you not. So that, upon the whole, it is certain that a formal hypocrite, with all his gains and all his hopes, will be miserable in a dying hour.

2. Because the hypocrite's prayer will not be heard (v. 9): Will God hear his cry when trouble comes upon him? No, he will not; it cannot be expected he should. If true repentance come upon him, God will hear his cry and accept him (Isa. i. 18); but, if he continue impenitent and unchanged, let him not think to find favour with God. Observe, (1.) Trouble will come upon him, certainly it will. Troubles in the world often surprise those that are most secure of an uninterrupted prosperity. However, death will come, and trouble with it, when he must leave the world and all his delights in it. The judgment of the great day will come; fearfulness will surprise the hypocrites, Isa. xxxiii. 14. (2.) Then he will cry to God, will pray, and pray earnestly. Those who in prosperity slighted God, either prayed not at all or were cold and careless in prayer, when trouble comes will make their application to him and cry as men in earnest. But, (3.) Will God hear him then? In the troubles of this life, God has told us that he will not hear the prayers of those who regard iniquity in their hearts (Ps. lxvi. 19) and set up their idols there (Ezek. xiv. 4), nor of those who turn away their ear from hearing the law, Prov. xxviii. 9. Get you to the gods whom you have served, Judg. x. 14. In the judgment to come, it is certain, God will not hear the cry of those who lived and died in their hypocrisy. Their doleful lamentations will all be unpitied. I will laugh at your calamity. Their importunate petitions will all be thrown out and their pleas rejected. Inflexible justice cannot be biassed, nor the irreversible sentence revoked. See Matt. vii. 22, 23; Luke xiii. 26, and the case of the foolish virgins, Matt. xxv. 11.

3. Because the hypocrite's religion is neither comfortable nor constant (v. 10): Will he delight himself in the Almighty? No, not at any time (for his delight is in the profits of the world and the pleasures of the flesh, more than in God), especially not in the time of trouble. Will he always call upon God? No, in prosperity he will not call upon God, but slight him; in adversity he will not call upon God but curse him; he is weary of his religion when he gets nothing by it, or is in danger of losing. Note, (1.) Those are hypocrites who, though they profess religion, neither take pleasure in it nor persevere in it, who reckon their religion a task and a drudgery, a weariness, and snuff at it, who make use of it only to serve a turn, and lay it aside when the turn is served, who will call upon God while it is in fashion, or while the pang of devotion lasts, but leave it off when they fall into other company, or when the hot fit is over. (2.) The reason why hypocrites do not persevere in religion is because they have no pleasure in it. Those that do not delight in the Almighty will not always call upon him. The more comfort we find in our religion the more closely we shall cleave to it. Those who have no delight in God are easily inveigled by the pleasures of sense, and so drawn away from their religion; and they are easily run down by the crosses of this life, and so driven away from their religion, and will not always call upon God.

Heritage of the Wicked. (b. c. 1520.)

11 I will teach you by the hand of God: that which is with the Almighty will I not conceal.   12 Behold, all ye yourselves have seen it; why then are ye thus altogether vain?   13 This is the portion of a wicked man with God, and the heritage of oppressors, which they shall receive of the Almighty.   14 If his children be multiplied, it is for the sword: and his offspring shall not be satisfied with bread.   15 Those that remain of him shall be buried in death: and his widows shall not weep.   16 Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay;   17 He may prepare it, but the just shall put it on, and the innocent shall divide the silver.   18 He buildeth his house as a moth, and as a booth that the keeper maketh.   19 The rich man shall lie down, but he shall not be gathered: he openeth his eyes, and he is not.   20 Terrors take hold on him as waters, a tempest stealeth him away in the night.   21 The east wind carrieth him away, and he departeth: and as a storm hurleth him out of his place.   22 For God shall cast upon him, and not spare: he would fain flee out of his hand.   23 Men shall clap their hands at him, and shall hiss him out of his place.

Job's friends had seen a great deal of the misery and destruction that attend wicked people, especially oppressors; and Job, while the heat of disputation lasted, had said as much, and with as much assurance, of their prosperity; but now that the heat of the battle was nearly over he was willing to own how far he agreed with them, and where the difference between his opinion and theirs lay. 1. He agreed with them that wicked people are miserable people, that God will surely reckon with cruel oppressors, and one time or other, one way or other, his justice will make reprisals upon them for all the affronts they have put upon God and all the wrongs they have done to their neighbours. This truth is abundantly confirmed by the entire concurrence even of these angry disputants in it. But, 2. In this they differed—they held that these deserved judgments are presently and visibly brought upon wicked oppressors, that they travail with pain all their days, that in prosperity the destroyer comes upon them, that they shall not be rich, nor their branch green, and that their destruction shall be accomplished before their time (so Eliphaz, ch. xv. 20, 21, 29, 32), that the steps of their strength shall be straitened, that terrors shall make them afraid on every side (so Bildad, ch. xviii. 7, 11), that he himself shall vomit up his riches, and that in the fulness of his sufficiency he shall be in straits, so Zophar, ch. xx. 15, 22. Now Job held that, in many cases, judgments do not fall upon them quickly, but are deferred for some time. That vengeance strikes slowly he had already shown (ch. xxi. and xxiv.); now he comes to show that it strikes surely and severely, and that reprieves are no pardons.

I. Job here undertakes to set this matter in a true light (v. 11, 12): I will teach you. We must not disdain to learn even from those who are sick and poor, yea, and peevish too, if they deliver what is true and good. Observe, 1. What he would teach them: "That which is with the Almighty," that is, "the counsels and purposes of God concerning wicked people, which are hidden with him, and which you cannot hastily judge of; and the usual methods of his providence concerning them." This, says Job, will I not conceal. What God has not concealed from us we must not conceal from those we are concerned to teach. Things revealed belong to us and our children. 2. How he would teach them: By the hand of God, that is, by his strength and assistance. Those who undertake to teach others must look to the hand of God to direct them, to open their ear (Isa. l. 4), and to open their lips. Those whom God teaches with a strong hand are best able to teach others, Isa. viii. 11. 3. What reason they had to learn those things which he was about to teach them (v. 12), that it was confirmed by their own observation—You yourselves have seen it (but what we have heard, and seen and known, we have need to be taught, that we may be perfect in our lesson), and that it would set them to rights in their judgment concerning him—"Why then are you thus altogether vain, to condemn me for a wicked man because I am afflicted?" Truth, rightly understood and applied, would cure us of that vanity of mind which arises from our mistakes. That particularly which he offers now to lay before them is the portion of a wicked man with God, particularly of oppressors, v. 13. Compare ch. xx. 29. Their portion in the world may be wealth and preferment, but their portion with God is ruin and misery. They are above the control of any earthly power, it may be, but the Almighty can deal with them.

II. He does it, by showing that wicked people may, in some instances, prosper, but that ruin follows them in those very instances; and that is their portion, that is their heritage, that is it which they must abide by.

1. They may prosper in their children, but ruin attends them. His children perhaps are multiplied (v. 14) or magnified (so some); they are very numerous and are raised to honour and great estates. Worldly people are said to be full of children (Ps. xvii. 14), and, as it is in the margin there, their children are full. In them the parents hope to live and in their preferment to be honoured. But the more children they leave, and the greater prosperity they leave them in, the more and the fairer marks do they leave for the arrows of God's judgments to be levelled at, his three sore judgments, sword, famine, and pestilence, 2 Sam. xxiv. 13. (1.) Some of them shall die by the sword, the sword of war perhaps (they brought them up to live by their sword, as Esau, Gen. xxvii. 40, and those that do so commonly die by the sword, first or last), or by the sword of justice for their crimes, or the sword of the murderer for their estates. (2.) Others of them shall die by famine (v. 14): His offspring shall not be satisfied with bread. He thought he had secured to them large estates, but it may happen that they may be reduced to poverty, so as not to have the necessary supports of life, at least not to live comfortably. They shall be so needy that they shall not have a competency of necessary food, and so greedy, or so discontented, that what they have they shall not be satisfied with, because not so much, or not so dainty, as what they have been used to. You eat, but you have not enough, Hag. i. 6. (3.) Those that remain shall be buried in death, that is, shall die of the plague, which is called death (Rev. vi. 8), and be buried privately and in haste, as soon as they are dead, without any solemnity, buried with the burial of an ass; and even their widows shall not weep; they shall not have wherewithal to put them in mourning. Or it denotes that these wicked men, as they live undesired, so they die unlamented, and even their widows will think themselves happy that they have got rid of them.

2. They may prosper in their estates, but ruin attends them too, v. 16-18. (1.) We will suppose them to be rich in money and plate, in clothing and furniture. They heap up silver in abundance as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay; they have heaps of clothes about them, as plentiful as heaps of clay. Or it intimates that they have such abundance of clothes that they are even a burden to them. They lade themselves with thick clay, Hab. ii. 6. See what is the care and business of worldly people—to heap up worldly wealth. Much would have more, until the silver is cankered and the garments are moth-eaten, Jam. v. 2, 3. But what comes of it? He shall never be the better for it himself; death will strip him, death will rob him, if he be not robbed and stripped sooner, Luke xii. 20. Nay, God will so order it that the just shall wear his raiment and the innocent shall divide his silver. [1.] They shall have it, and divide it among themselves. In some way or other Providence shall so order it that good men shall come honestly by that wealth which the wicked man came dishonestly by. The wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just, Prov. xiii. 22. God disposes of men's estates as he pleases, and often makes their wills against their wills. The just, whom he hated and persecuted, shall have rule over all his labour, and, in due time, recover with interest what was violently taken from him. The Egyptians' jewels were the Israelites' pay. Solomon observes (Eccl. ii. 26) that God makes the sinners drudges to the righteous; for the sinner he gives travail to gather and heap up, that he may give to him that is good before God. [2.] They shall do good with it. The innocent shall not hoard the silver, as he did that gathered it, but shall divide it to the poor, shall give a portion to seven and also to eight, which is laying up the best securities. Money is like manure, good for nothing if it be not spread. When God enriches good men they must remember they are but stewards and must give an account. What bad men bring a curse upon their families with the ill-getting of good men bring a blessing upon their families with the well-using of. He that by unjust gain increaseth his substance shall gather it for him that will pity the poor, Prov. xxviii. 8. (2.) We will suppose them to have built themselves strong and stately houses; but they are like the house which the moth makes for herself in an old garment, out of which she will soon be shaken, v. 18. He is very secure in it, as a moth, and has no apprehension of danger; but it will prove of as short continuance as a booth which the keeper makes, which will quickly be taken down and gone, and his place shall know him no more.

3. Destruction attends their persons, though they lived long in health and at ease (v. 19): The rich man shall lie down to sleep, to repose himself in the abundance of his wealth (Soul, take thy ease), shall lie down in it as his strong city, and seem to others to be very happy and very easy; but he shall not be gathered, that is, he shall not have his mind composed, and settled, and gathered in, to enjoy his wealth. He does not sleep so contentedly as people think he does. He lies down, but his abundance will not suffer him to sleep, at least not so sweetly as the labouring man, Eccl. v. 12. He lies down, but he is full of tossings to and fro till the dawning of the day, and then he opens his eyes and he is not; he sees himself, and all he has, hastening away, as it were, in the twinkling of an eye. His cares increase his fears, and both together make him uneasy, so that, when we attend him to his bed, we do not find him happy there. But, in the close, we are called to attend his exit, and see how miserable he is in death and after death.

(1.) He is miserable in death. It is to him the king of terrors, v. 20, 21. When some mortal disease seizes him what a fright is he in! Terrors take hold of him as waters, as if he were surrounded by the flowing tides. He trembles to think of leaving this world, and much more of removing to another. This mingles sorrow and wrath with his sickness, as Solomon observes, Eccl. v. 17. These terrors put him either [1.] Into a silent and sullen despair; and then the tempest of God's wrath, the tempest of death, may be said to steal him away in the night, when no one is aware or takes any notice of it. Or, [2.] Into an open and clamorous despair; and then he is said to be carried away, and hurled out of his place as with a storm, and with an east wind, violent, and noisy, and very dreadful. Death, to a godly man, is like a fair gale of wind to convey him to the heavenly country, but, to a wicked man, it is like an east wind, a storm, a tempest, that hurries him away in confusion and amazement, to destruction.

(2.) He is miserable after death. [1.] His soul falls under the just indignation of God, and it is the terror of that indignation which puts him into such amazement at the approach of death (v. 22): For God shall cast upon him and not spare. While he lived he had the benefit of sparing mercy; but now the day of God's patience is over, and he will not spare, but pour out upon him the full vials of his wrath. What God casts down upon a man there is no flying from nor bearing up under. We read of his casting down great stones from heaven upon the Canaanites (Josh. x. 11), which made terrible execution among them; but what was that to his casting down his anger in its full weight upon the sinner's conscience, like the talent of lead? Zech. v. 7, 8. The damned sinner, seeing the wrath of God break in upon him, would fain flee out of his hand; but he cannot: the gates of hell are locked and barred, and the great gulf fixed, and it will be in vain to call for the shelter of rocks and mountains. Those who will not be persuaded now to fly to the arms of divine grace, which are stretched out to receive them, will not be able to flee from the arms of divine wrath, which will shortly be stretched out to destroy them. [2.] His memory falls under the just indignation of all mankind (v. 23): Men shall clap their hands at him, that is, they shall rejoice in the judgments of God, by which he is cut off, and be well pleased in his fall. When the wicked perish there is shouting, Prov. xi. 10. When God buries him men shall hiss him out of his place, and leave on his name perpetual marks of infamy. In the same place where he has been caressed and cried up he shall be laughed at (Ps. lii. 7) and his ashes shall be trampled on.

Extent of Human Discoveries. (b. c. 1520.)

1 Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they fine it.   2 Iron is taken out of the earth, and brass is molten out of the stone.   3 He setteth an end to darkness, and searcheth out all perfection: the stones of darkness, and the shadow of death.   4 The flood breaketh out from the inhabitant; even the waters forgotten of the foot: they are dried up, they are gone away from men.   5 As for the earth, out of it cometh bread: and under it is turned up as it were fire.   6 The stones of it are the place of sapphires: and it hath dust of gold.   7 There is a path which no fowl knoweth, and which the vulture's eye hath not seen:   8 The lion's whelps have not trodden it, nor the fierce lion passed by it.   9 He putteth forth his hand upon the rock; he overturneth the mountains by the roots.   10 He cutteth out rivers among the rocks; and his eye seeth every precious thing.   11 He bindeth the floods from overflowing; and the thing that is hid bringeth he forth to light.   12 But where shall wisdom be found? and where is the place of understanding?   13 Man knoweth not the price thereof; neither is it found in the land of the living.

Here Job shows, 1. What a great way the wit of man may go in diving into the depths of nature and seizing the riches of it, what a great deal of knowledge and wealth men may, by their ingenious and industrious searches, make themselves masters of. But does it therefore follow that men may, by their wit, comprehend the reasons why some wicked people prosper and others are punished, why some good people prosper and others are afflicted? No, by no means. The caverns of the earth may be discovered, but not the counsels of heaven. 2. What a great deal of care and pains worldly men take to get riches. He had observed concerning the wicked man (ch. xxvii. 16) that he heaped up silver as the dust; now here he shows whence that silver came which he was so fond of and how it was obtained, to show what little reason wicked rich men have to be proud of their wealth and pomp. Observe here,

I. The wealth of this world is hidden in the earth. Thence the silver and the gold, which afterwards they refine, are fetched, v. 1. There they lay mixed with a great deal of dirt and dross, like a worthless thing, of no more account than common earth; and abundance of them will so lie neglected, till the earth and all the works therein shall be burnt up. Holy Mr. Herbert, in his poem called Avarice, takes notice of this, to shame men out of the love of money:—

Money, thou bane of bliss, thou source of woe,

Whence com'st thou, that thou art so fresh and fine?

I know thy parentage is base and low;

Man found thee poor and dirty in a mine.

Surely thou didst so little contribute

To this great kingdom which thou now hast got

That he was fain, when thou wast destitute,

To dig thee out of thy dark cave and grot.

Man calleth thee his wealth, who made thee rich,

And while he digs out thee falls in the ditch.

Iron and brass, less costly but more serviceable metals, are taken out of the earth (v. 2), and are there found in great abundance, which abates their price indeed, but is a great kindness to man, who could much better be without gold than without iron. Nay, out of the earth comes bread, that is, bread-corn, the necessary support of life, v. 5. Thence man's maintenance is fetched, to remind him of his own original; he is of the earth, and is hastening to the earth. Under it is turned up as it were fire, precious stones, that sparkle as fire—brimstone, that is apt to take fire—coal, that is proper to feed fire. As we have our food, so we have our fuel, out of the earth. There the sapphires and other gems are, and thence gold-dust is digged up;, v. 6. The wisdom of the Creator has placed these things, 1. Out of our sight, to teach us not to set our eyes upon them, Prov. xxiii. 5. 2. Under our feet, to teach us not to lay them in our bosoms, nor to set our hearts upon them, but to trample upon them with a holy contempt. See how full the earth is of God's riches (Ps. civ. 24) and infer thence, not only how great a God he is whose the earth is and the fulness thereof (Ps. xxiv. 1), but how full heaven must needs be of God's riches, which is the city of the great King, in comparison with which this earth is a poor country.

II. The wealth that is hidden in the earth cannot be obtained but with a great deal of difficulty. 1. It is hard to be found out: there is but here and there a vein for the silver, v. 1. The precious stones, though bright themselves, yet, because buried in obscurity and out of sight, are called stones of darkness and the shadow of death. Men may search long before they light on them. 2. When found out it is hard to be fetched out. Men's wits must be set on work to contrive ways and means to get this hidden treasure into their hands. They must with their lamps set an end to darkness; and if one expedient miscarry, one method fail, they must try another, till they have searched out all perfection, and turned every stone to effect it, v. 3. They must grapple with subterraneous waters (v. 4, 10, 11), and force their way through rocks which are, as it were, the roots of the mountains, v. 9. Now God has made the getting of gold, and silver, and precious stones, so difficult, (1.) For the exciting and engaging of industry. Dii laboribus omnia vendunt—Labour is the price which the gods affix to all things. If valuable things were too easily obtained men would never learn to take pains. But the difficulty of gaining the riches of this earth may suggest to us what violence the kingdom of heaven suffers. (2.) For the checking and restraining of pomp and luxury. What is for necessity is had with a little labour from the surface of the earth; but what is for ornament must be dug with a great deal of pains out of the bowels of it. To be fed is cheap, but to be fine is chargeable.

III. Though the subterraneous wealth is thus hard to obtain, yet men will have it. He that loves silver is not satisfied with silver, and yet is not satisfied without it; but those that have much must needs have more. See here, 1. What inventions men have to get this wealth. They search out all perfection, v. 3. They have arts and engines to dry up the waters, and carry them off, when they break in upon them in their mines and threaten to drown the work, v. 4. They have pumps, and pipes, and canals, to clear their way, and, obstacles being removed, they tread the path which no fowl knoweth (v. 7, 8), unseen by the vulture's eye, which is piercing and quick-sighted, and untrodden by the lion's whelps, which traverse all the paths of the wilderness. 2. What pains men take, and what vast charge they are at, to get this wealth. They work their way through the rocks and undermine the mountains, v. 10. 3. What hazards they run. Those that dig in the mines have their lives in their hands; for they are obliged to bind the floods from overflowing (v. 11), and are continually in danger of being suffocated by damps or crushed or buried alive by the fall of the earth upon them. See how foolish man adds to his own burden. He is sentenced to eat bread in the sweat of his face; but, as if that were not enough, he will get gold and silver at the peril of his life, though the more is gotten the less valuable it is. In Solomon's time silver was as stones. But, 4. Observe what it is that carries men through all this toil and peril: Their eye sees every precious thing, v. 10. Silver and gold are precious things with them, and they have them in their eye in all these pursuits. They fancy they see them glittering before their faces, and, in the prospect of laying hold of them, they make nothing of all these difficulties; for they make something of their toil at last: That which is hidden bringeth he forth to light, v. 11. What was hidden under ground is laid upon the bank; the metal that was hidden in the ore is refined from its dross and brought forth pure out of the furnace; and then he thinks his pains well bestowed. Go to the miners then, thou sluggard in religion; consider their ways, and be wise. Let their courage, diligence, and constancy in seeking the wealth that perisheth shame us out of slothfulness and faint-heartedness in labouring for the true riches. How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! How much easier and safer! Yet gold is sought for, but grace neglected. Will the hopes of precious things out of the earth (so they call them, though really they are paltry and perishing) be such a spur to industry, and shall not the certain prospect of truly precious things in heaven be much more so?

The Excellency of Wisdom. (b. c. 1520.)

14 The depth saith, It is not in me: and the sea saith, It is not with me.   15 It cannot be gotten for gold, neither shall silver be weighed for the price thereof.   16 It cannot be valued with the gold of Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire.   17 The gold and the crystal cannot equal it: and the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of fine gold.   18 No mention shall be made of coral, or of pearls: for the price of wisdom is above rubies.   19 The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold.

Job, having spoken of the wealth of the world, which men put such a value upon and take so much pains for, here comes to speak of another more valuable jewel, and that is, wisdom and understanding, the knowing and enjoying of God and ourselves. Those that found out all those ways and means to enrich themselves thought themselves very wise; but Job will not own theirs to be wisdom. He supposes them to gain their point, and to bring to light what they sought for (v. 11), and yet asks, "Where is wisdom? for it is not here." This their way is their folly. We must therefore seek it somewhere else, and it will be found nowhere but in the principles and practices of religion. There is more true knowledge, satisfaction, and happiness, in sound divinity, which shows us the way to the joys of heaven, than in natural philosophy or mathematics, which help us to find a way into the bowels of the earth. Two things cannot be found out concerning this wisdom:—

I. The price of it, for that is inestimable; its worth is infinitely more than all the riches in this world: Man knows not the price thereof (v. 13), that is, 1. Few put a due value upon it. Men know not the worth of it, its innate excellency, their need of it, and of what unspeakable advantage it will be to them; and therefore, though they have many a price in their hand to get this wisdom, yet they have no heart to it, Prov. xvii. 16. The cock in the fable knew not the value of the precious stone he found in the dunghill, and therefore would rather have lighted on a barley-corn. Men know not the worth of grace, and therefore will take no pains to get it. 2. None can possibly give a valuable consideration for it, with all the wealth this world can furnish them with. This Job enlarges upon v. 15, &c., where he makes an inventory of the bona notabilia—the most valuable treasures of this world. Gold is five times mentioned; silver comes in also; and then several precious stones, the onyx and sapphire, pearls and rubies, and the topaz of Ethiopia. These are the things that are highest prized in the world's markets: but if a man would give, not only these, heaps of these, but all the substance of his house, all he is worth in the world, for wisdom, it would utterly be contemned. These may give a man some advantage in seeking wisdom, as they did to Solomon, but there is no purchasing wisdom with these. It is a gift of the Holy Ghost, which cannot be bought with money, Acts viii. 20. As it does not run in the blood, and so come to us by descent, so it cannot be got for money, nor does it come to us by purchase. Spiritual gifts are conferred without money and without price, because no money can be a price for them. Wisdom is likewise a more valuable gift to him that has it, makes him richer and happier, than gold or precious stones. It is better to get wisdom than gold. Gold is another's, wisdom our own; gold is for the body and time, wisdom for the soul and eternity. Let that which is most precious in God's account be so in ours. See Prov. iii. 14, &c.

II. The place of it, for that is undiscoverable. Where shall wisdom be found? v. 12. He asks this, 1. As one that truly desired to find it. This is a question we should all put. While the most of men are asking, "Where shall money be found?" we should ask, Where may wisdom be found? that we may seek it and find it, not vain philosophy, or carnal policy, but true religion; for that is the only true wisdom, that is it which best improves our faculties and best secures our spiritual and eternal welfare. This is that which we should cry after and dig for, Prov. ii. 3, 4. 2. As one that utterly despaired of finding it any where but in God, and any way but by divine revelation: It is not found in this land of the living, v. 13. We cannot attain to a right understanding of God and his will, of ourselves and our duty and interest, by reading any books or men, but by reading God's book and the men of God. Such is the degeneracy of human nature that there is no true wisdom to be found with any but those who are born again, and who, through grace, partake of the divine nature. As for others, even the most ingenious and industrious, they can tell us no tidings of this lost wisdom. (1.) Ask the miners, and by them the depth will say, It is not in me, v. 14. Those who dig into the bowels of the earth, to rifle the treasures there, cannot in these dark recesses find this rare jewel, nor with all their art make themselves masters of it. (2.) Ask the mariners, and by them the sea will say, It is not in me. It can never be got either by trading on the waters or diving into them, can never be sucked from the abundance of the seas or the treasures hidden in the sand. Where there is a vein for the silver there is no vein for wisdom, none for grace. Men can more easily break through the difficulties they meet with in getting worldly wealth than through those they meet with in getting heavenly wisdom, and they will take more pains to learn how to live in this world than how to live for ever in a better world. So blind and foolish has man become that it is in vain to ask him, Where is the place of wisdom, and which is the road that leads to it?

The Wisdom Hidden from Man; The Wisdom Revealed to Man. (b. c. 1520.)

20 Whence then cometh wisdom? and where is the place of understanding?   21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air.   22 Destruction and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears.   23 God understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.   24 For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;   25 To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.   26 When he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder:   27 Then did he see it, and declare it; he prepared it, yea, and searched it out.   28 And unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.

The question which Job had asked (v. 12) he asks again here; for it is too worthy, too weighty, to be let fall, until we speed in the enquiry. Concerning this we must seek till we find, till we get some satisfactory account of it. By a diligent prosecution of this enquiry he brings it, at length, to this issue, that there is a twofold wisdom, one hidden in God, which is secret and belongs not to us, the other made known by him and revealed to man, which belongs to us and to our children.

I. The knowledge of God's secret will, the will of his providence, is out of our reach, and what God has reserved to himself. It belongs to the Lord our God. To know the particulars of what God will do hereafter, and the reasons of what he is doing now, is the knowledge Job first speaks of.

1. This knowledge is hidden from us. It is high, we cannot attain unto it (v. 21, 22): It is hid from the eyes of all living, even of philosophers, politicians, and saints; it is kept close from the fowls of the air; though they fly high and in the open firmament of heaven, though they seem somewhat nearer that upper world where the source of this wisdom is, though their eyes behold afar off (ch. xxxix. 29), yet they cannot penetrate into the counsels of God. No, man is wiser than the fowls of heaven, and yet comes short of this wisdom. Even those who, in their speculations, soar highest, and think themselves, like the fowls of the air, above the heads of other people, yet cannot pretend to this knowledge. Job and his friends had been arguing about the methods and reasons of the dispensations of Providence in the government of the world. "What fools are we" (says Job) "to fight in the dark thus, to dispute about that which we do not understand!" The line and plummet of human reason can never fathom the abyss of the divine counsels. Who can undertake to give the rationale of Providence, or account for the maxims, measure, and methods of God's government, those arcana imperii—cabinet counsels of divine wisdom? Let us then be content not to know the future events of the Providence until time discover them (Acts i. 7) and not to know the secret reasons of Providence until eternity discover them. God is now a God that hideth himself (Isa. xlv. 15); clouds and darkness are round about him. Though this wisdom be hidden from all living, yet destruction and death say, We have heard the fame of it. Though they cannot give an account of themselves (for there is no wisdom, nor device, nor knowledge at all in the grave, much less this), yet there is a world on the other side death and the grave, on which those dark regions border, and to which we must pass through them, and there we shall see clearly what we are now in the dark about. "Have a little patience," says Death to the inquisitive soul: "I will fetch thee shortly to a place where even this wisdom will be found." When the mystery of God shall be finished it will be laid open, and we shall know as we are known; when the veil of flesh is rent, and the interposing clouds are scattered, we shall know what God does, though we know not now, John xiii. 7.

2. This knowledge is hidden in God, as the apostle speaks, Eph. iii. 9. Known unto God are all his works, though they are not known to us, Acts xv. 18. There are good reasons for what he does, though we cannot assign them (v. 23): God understands the way thereof. Men sometimes do they know not what, but God never does. Men do what they did not design to do; new occurrences put them upon new counsels, and oblige them to take new measures. But God does all according to the purpose which he purposed in himself, and which he never alters. Men sometimes do that which they cannot give a good reason for, but in every will of God there is a counsel: he knows both what he does and why he does it, the whole series of events and the order and place of every occurrence. This knowledge he has in perfection, but keeps to himself. Two reasons are here given why God must needs understand his own way, and he only:—

(1.) Because all events are now directed by an all-seeing and almighty Providence, v. 24, 25. He that governs the world is, [1.] Omniscient; for he looks to the ends of the earth, both in place and time; distant ages, distant regions, are under his view. We do not understand our own way, much less can we understand God's way, because we are short-sighted. How little do we know of what is doing in the world, much less of what will be done? But the eyes of the Lord are in every place; nay, they run to and fro through the earth. Nothing is, or can be, hidden from him; and therefore the reasons why some wicked people prosper remarkably and others are remarkably punished in this world, which are secret to us, are known to him. One day's events, and one man's affairs, have such a reference to, and such a dependence upon, another's, that he only to whom all events and all affairs are naked and open, and who sees the whole at one entire and certain view, is a competent Judge of every part. [2.] He is omnipotent. He can do every thing, and is very exact in all he does. For proof of this Job mentions the winds and waters, v. 25. What is lighter than the wind? Yet God hath ways of poising it. He knows how to make the weight for the winds, which he brings out of his treasuries (Ps. cxxxv. 7), keeping a very particular account of what he draws out, as men do of what they pay out of their treasuries, not at random, as men bring out their trash. Nothing sensible is to us more unaccountable than the wind. We hear the sound of it, yet cannot tell whence it comes, nor whither it goes; but God gives it out by weight, wisely ordering both from what point it shall blow and with what strength. The waters of the sea, and the rain-waters, he both weighs and measures, allotting the proportion of every tide and every shower. A great and constant communication there is between clouds and seas, the waters above the firmament and those under it. Vapours go up, rains come down, air is condensed into water, water rarefied into air; but the great God keeps an exact account of all the stock with which this trade is carried on for the public benefit and sees that none of it be lost. Now if, in these things, Providence be so exact, much more in dispensing frowns and favours, rewards and punishments, to the children of men, according to the rules of equity.

(2.) Because all events were from eternity designed and determined by an infallible prescience and immutable decree, v. 26, 27. When he settled the course of nature he foreordained all the operations of his government. [1.] He settled the course of nature. Job mentions particularly a decree for the rain and a way for the thunder and lightning. The general manner and method, and the particular uses and tendencies, of these strange performances, both their causes and their effects, were appointed by the divine purpose; hence God is said to prepare lightnings for the rain, Ps. cxxxv. 7; Jer. x. 13. [2.] When he did that he laid all the measures of his providence, and drew an exact scheme of the whole work from first to last. Then, from eternity, did he see in himself, and declare to himself, the plan of his proceedings. Then he prepared it, fixed it, and established it, set every thing in readiness for all his works, so that, when any thing was to be done, nothing was to seek, nor could any thing unforeseen occur, to put it either out of its method or out of its time; for all was ordered as exactly as if he had studied it and searched it out, so that, whatever he does, nothing can be put to it nor taken from it, and therefore it shall be for ever, Eccl. iii. 14. Some make Job to speak of wisdom here as a person, and translate it, Then he saw her and showed her, &c., and then it is parallel with that of Solomon concerning the essential wisdom of the Father, the eternal Word, Prov. viii. 22, &c. Before the earth was, then was I by him, John i. 1, 2.

II. The knowledge of God's revealed will, the will of his precept, and this is within our reach; it is level to our capacity, and will do us good (v. 28): Unto man he said, Behold, the fear of the Lord that is wisdom. Let it not be said that when God concealed his counsels from man, and forbade him that tree of knowledge, it was because he grudged him any thing that would contribute to his real bliss and satisfaction; no, he let him know as much as he was concerned to know in order to his duty and happiness; he shall be entrusted with as much of his sovereign mind as is needful and fit for a subject, but he must not think himself fit to be a privy-counsellor. He said to Adam (so some), to the first man, in the day in which he was created; he told him plainly it was not for him to amuse himself with over-curious searches into the mysteries of creation, nor to pretend to solve all the phenomena of nature; he would find it neither possible nor profitable to do so. No less wisdom (says archbishop Tillotson) than that which made the world can thoroughly understand the philosophy of it. But let him look upon this as his wisdom, to fear the Lord and to depart from evil; let him learn that, and he is learned enough; let this knowledge serve his turn. When God forbade man the tree of knowledge he allowed him the tree of life, and this is that tree, Prov. iii. 18. We cannot attain true wisdom but by divine revelation. The Lord giveth wisdom, Prov. ii. 6. Now the matter of that is not found in the secrets of nature or providence, but in the rules for our own practice. Unto man he said, not, "Go up to heaven, to fetch happiness thence;" or, "Go down to the deep, to draw it up thence." No, the word is nigh thee, Deut. xxx. 14. He hath shown thee, O man! not what is great, but what is good, not what the Lord thy God designs to do with thee, but what he requires of thee, Mic. vi. 8. Unto you, O men! I call, Prov. viii. 4. Lord, what is man that he should be thus minded, thus visited! Behold, mark, take notice of this; he that has ears let him hear what the God of heaven says to the children of men: The fear of the Lord, that is the wisdom. Here is, 1. The description of true religion, pure religion, and undefiled; it is to fear the Lord and depart from evil, which agrees with God's character of Job, ch. i. 1. The fear of the Lord is the spring and summary of all religion. There is a slavish fear of God, springing from hard thoughts of him, which is contrary to religion, Matt. xxv. 24. There is a selfish fear of God springing from dreadful thoughts of him, which may be a good step towards religion, Acts ix. 5. But there is a filial fear of God, springing from great and high thoughts of him, which is the life and soul of all religion. And, wherever this reigns in the heart, it will appear by a constant care to depart from evil, Prov. xvi. 6. This is essential to religion. We must first cease to do evil, or we shall never learn to do well. Virtus est vitium fugere—Even in our flight from vice some virtue lies. 2. The commendation of religion: it is wisdom and understanding. To be truly religious is to be truly wise. As the wisdom of God appears in the institution of religion, so the wisdom of man appears in the practice and observance of it. It is understanding, for it is the best knowledge of truth; it is wisdom, for it is the best management of our affairs. Nothing more surely guides our way and gains our end than being religious.

Former Prosperity of Job. (b. c. 1520.)

1 Moreover Job continued his parable, and said,   2 Oh that I were as in months past, as in the days when God preserved me;   3 When his candle shined upon my head, and when by his light I walked through darkness;   4 As I was in the days of my youth, when the secret of God was upon my tabernacle;   5 When the Almighty was yet with me, when my children were about me;   6 When I washed my steps with butter, and the rock poured me out rivers of oil;

Losers may have leave to speak, and there is nothing they speak of more feelingly than of the comforts they are stripped of. Their former prosperity is one of the most pleasing subjects of their thoughts and talk. It was so to Job, who begins here with a wish (v. 2): O that I were as in months past! so he brings in this account of his prosperity. His wish is, 1. "O that I were in as good a state as I was in then, that I had as much wealth, honour, and pleasure, as I had then!" This he wishes, from a concern he had, not so much for his ease, as for his reputation and the glory of his God, which he thought were eclipsed by his present sufferings. "O that I might be restored to my prosperity, and then the censures and reproaches of my friends would be effectually silenced, even upon their own principles, and for ever rolled away!" If this be our end in desiring life, health, and prosperity, that God may be glorified, and the credit of our holy profession rescued, preserved, and advanced, the desire is not only natural, but spiritual. 2. "O that I were in as good a frame of spirit as I was in then!" That which Job complained most of now was a load upon his spirits, through God's withdrawing from him; and therefore he wishes he now had his spirit as much enlarged and encouraged in the service of God as he had then and that he had as much freedom and fellowship with him as then thought himself happy in. This was in the days of his youth (v. 4), when he was in the prime of his time for the enjoyment of those things and could relish them with the highest gust. Note, Those that prosper in the days of their youth know not what black and cloudy days they are yet reserved for. Two things made the months past pleasant to Job:—

I. That he had comfort in his God. This was the chief thing he rejoiced in, in his prosperity, as the spring of it and the sweetness of it, that he had the favour of God and the tokens of that favour. He did not attribute his prosperity to a happy turn of fortune, nor to his own might, nor to the power of his own hand, but makes the same acknowledgment that David does. Ps. xxx. 7, Thou, by thy favour, hast made my mountain stand strong. A gracious soul delights in God's smiles, not in the smiles of this world. Four things were then very pleasant to holy Job:—1. The confidence he had in the divine protection. They were the days when God preserved me, v. 2. Even then he saw himself exposed, and did not make his wealth his strong city nor trust in the abundance of his riches, but the name of the Lord was his strong tower; in that only he thought himself safe, and to that he ascribed it that he was then safe and that his comforts were preserved to him. The devil saw a hedge about him of God's making (ch. i. 10), and Job saw it himself, and owned it was God's visitation that preserved his spirit, ch. x. 12. Those only whom God protects are safe and may be easy; and therefore those who have ever so much of this world must not think themselves safe unless God preserve them. 2. The complacency he had in the divine favour (v. 3): God's candle shone upon his head, that is, God lifted up the light of his countenance upon him, gave him the assurances and sweet relishes of his love. The best of the communications of the divine favour to the saints in this world is but the candle-light, compared with what is reserved for them in the future state. But such abundant satisfaction did Job take in the divine favour that, by the light of that, he walked through darkness; that guided him in his doubts, comforted him in his griefs, bore him up under his burdens, and helped him through all his difficulties. Those that have the brightest sun-shine of outward prosperity must yet expect some moments of darkness. They are sometimes crossed, sometimes at a loss, sometimes melancholy. But those that are interested in the favour of God, and know how to value it, can, by the light of that, walk cheerfully and comfortably through all the darkness of this vale of tears. That puts gladness into the heart enough to counterbalance all the grievances of this present time. 3. The communion he had with the divine word (v. 4): The secret of God was upon my tabernacle, that is, God conversed freely with him, as one bosom-friend with another. He knew God's mind, and was not in the dark about it, as, of late, he had been. The secret of the Lord is said to be with those that fear him, for he shows them that in his covenant which others see not, Ps. xxv. 14. God communicates his favour and grace to his people, and receives the return of their devotion in a way secret to the world. Some read it, When the society of God was in my tabernacle, which Rabbi Solomon understands of an assembly of God's people that used to meet at Job's house for religious worship, in which he presided; this he took a great deal of pleasure in, and the scattering of it was a trouble to him. Or it may be understood of the angels of God pitching their tents about his habitation. 4. The assurance he had of the divine presence (v. 5): The Almighty was yet with me. Now he thought God had departed from him, but in those days he was with him, and that was all in all to him. God's presence with a man in his house, though it be but a cottage, makes it both a castle and a palace.

II. That he had comfort in his family. Every thing was agreeable there: he had both mouths for his meat and meat for his mouths; the want of either is a great affliction. 1. He had a numerous offspring to enjoy his estate: My children were about me. He had many children, enough to compass him round, and they were observant of him and obsequious to him; they were about him, to know what he would have and wherein they might serve him. It is a comfort to tender parents to see their children about them. Job speaks very feelingly of this comfort now that he was deprived of it. He thought it an instance of God's being with him that his children were about him; and yet reckon amiss if, when we have lost our children, we cannot comfort ourselves with this, that we have not lost our God. 2. He had a plentiful estate for the support of this numerous family, v. 6. His dairy abounded to such a degree that he might, if he pleased, wash his steps with butter; and his olive-yards were so fruitful, beyond expectation, that it seemed as if the rock poured him out rivers of oil. He reckons his wealth, not by his silver and gold, which were for hoarding, but by his butter and oil, which were for use; for what is an estate good for unless we take the good of it ourselves and do good with it to others?

7 When I went out to the gate through the city, when I prepared my seat in the street!   8 The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose, and stood up.   9 The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth.   10 The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to the roof of their mouth.   11 When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:   12 Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him.   13 The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.   14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.   15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.   16 I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.   17 And I brake the jaws of the wicked, and plucked the spoil out of his teeth.

We have here Job in a post of honour and power. Though he had comfort enough in his own house, yet he did not confine himself to that. We are not born for ourselves, but for the public. When any business was to be done in the gate, the place of judgment, Job went out to it through the city (v. 7), not in an affectation of pomp, but in an affection to justice. Observe, Judgment was administered in the gate, in the street, in the places of concourse, to which every man might have a free access, that every one who would might be a witness to all that was said and done, and that when judgment was given against the guilty others might hear and fear. Job being a prince, a judge, a magistrate, a man in authority, among the children of the east, we are here told,

I. What a profound respect was paid to him by all sorts of people, not only for the dignity of his place, but for his personal merit, his eminent prudence, integrity, and good management. 1. The people honoured him and stood in awe of him, v. 8. The gravity and majesty of his looks and mien, and his known strictness in animadverting upon every thing that was evil and indecent, commanded all about him into due decorum. The young men, who could not keep their countenances, or, it may be, were conscious to themselves of something amiss, hid themselves, and got out of his way; and the aged, though they kept their ground, yet would not keep their seats: they arose and stood up to do homage to him; those who expected honour from others gave honour to him. Virtue and piety challenge respect from all, and usually have it; but those that not only are good, but do good, are worthy of double honour. Modesty becomes those that are young and in subjection as much as majesty becomes those that are aged and in power. Honour and fear are due to magistrates, and must be rendered to them, Rom. xiii. 7. But, if a great and good man was thus reverenced, how is the great and good God to be feared! 2. The princes and nobles paid great deference to him, v. 9, 10. Some think that these were inferior magistrates under him, and that the respect they paid him was due to his place, as their sovereign and supreme. It should rather seem that they were his equals in place, and joined in commission with him, and that the peculiar honour they gave him was gained by his extraordinary abilities and services. It was agreed that he excelled them all in quickness of apprehension, soundness of judgment, closeness of application, clearness and copiousness of expression; and therefore he was among his fellows an oracle of law, and counsel, and justice, and what he said all attended to and acquiesced in. When he came into court, especially when he stood up to speak to any business, the princes refrained talking, the nobles held their peace, that they might the more diligently hearken to what he said and might be sure to understand his meaning. Those that had been forward to speak their own thoughts, loved to hear themselves talk, and cared not much what any body else said, yet, when it came to Job's turn to speak, were as desirous to know his thoughts as ever they had been to vent their own. Those that suspected their own judgment were satisfied in his, and admired with what dexterity he split the hair and untied the knots which puzzled them and which they knew not what to make of. When the princes and nobles wrangled among themselves all agreed to refer the matters in dispute to Job and to abide by his judgment. Happy the men that are blessed with such eminent gifts as these; they have great opportunities of honouring God and doing good, but have great need to watch against pride. Happy the people that are blessed with such eminent men; it is a token for good to them.

II. What a great deal of good he did in his place. He was very serviceable to his country with the power he had; and here we shall see what it was which Job valued himself by in the day of his prosperity. It is natural to men to have some value for themselves, and we may judge something of our own character by observing what that is upon which we value ourselves. Job valued himself, not by the honour of his family, the great estate he had, his large income, his full table, the many servants he had at his command, the ensigns of his dignity, his equipage and retinue, the splendid entertainments he gave, and the court that was made to him, but by his usefulness. Goodness is God's glory, and it will be ours; if we are merciful as God is, we are perfect as he is.

1. He valued himself by the interest he had in the esteem, affections, and prayers, of sober people; not by the studied panegyrics of the wits and poets, but the unconstrained praises of all about him. All that heard what he said, and saw what he did, how he laid out himself for the public good with all the authority and tender affection of a father to his country, blessed him, and gave witness to him, v. 11. Many a good word they said of him, and many a good prayer they put up for him. He did not think it an honour to make every body fear him (Oderint dum metuant—Let them hate, provided they also fear) nor to be arbitrary, and to have his own will and way, not caring what people said of him; but, like Mordecai, to be accepted of the multitude of his brethren, Esth. x. 3. He did not so much value the applauses of those at a distance as the attestations of those that were the witnesses of his conduct, that constantly attended him, saw him, and heard him, and could speak of their own knowledge, especially theirs who had themselves been the better for him and could speak by their own experience: such was the blessing of him who was ready to perish (v. 13) and who by Job's means was rescued from perishing. Let great men, and men of estates, thus do good, and they shall have praise of the same; and let those who have good done to them look upon it as a just debt they owe to their protectors and benefactors to bless them and give witness to them, to use their interest on earth for their honour and in heaven for their comfort, to praise them and pray for them. Those are ungrateful indeed who grudge these small returns.

2. He valued himself by the care he took of those that were least able to help themselves, the poor and the needy, the widows and fatherless, the blind and the lame, who could not be supposed either to merit his favour or ever to be in a capacity to recompense it. (1.) If the poor were injured or oppressed, they might cry to Job, and, if he found the allegations of their petitions true, they had not only his ear and his bowels, but his hand too: He delivered the poor that cried (v. 12) and would not suffer them to be trampled upon and run down. Nay (v. 16), he was a father to the poor, not only a judge to protect them and to see that they were not wronged, but a father to provide for them and to see that they did not want, to counsel and direct them, and to appear and act for them upon all occasions. It is no disparagement to the son of a prince to be a father to the poor. (2.) The fatherless that had none to help them found Job ready to help them, and, if they were in straits, to deliver them. He helped them to make the best of what little they had, helped them to pay what they owed and to get in what was owing to them, helped them out into the world, helped them into business, helped them to it, and helped them in it; thus should the fatherless be helped. (3.) Those that were ready to perish he saved from perishing, relieving those that were hungry and ready to perish for want, taking care of those that were sick, that were outcasts, that were falsely accused, or in danger of being turned out of their estates unjustly, or, upon any other account, were ready to perish. The extremity of the peril, as it quickened Job to appear the more vigorously for them, so it made his seasonable kindness the more affecting and the more obliging, and brought their blessings the more abundantly upon him. (4.) The widows that were sighing for grief, and trembling for fear, he made to sing for joy, so carefully did he protect them and provide for them, and so heartily did he espouse their interest. It is a pleasure to a good man, and should be so to a great man, to give those occasion to rejoice that are most acquainted with grief. (5.) Those that were upon any account at a loss Job gave suitable and seasonable relief to (v. 15): I was eyes to the blind, counselling and advising those for the best that knew not what to do, and feet to the lame, assisting those with money and friends that knew what they should do, but knew not how to compass it. Those we best help whom we help out in that very thing wherein they are defective and most need help. We may come to be blind or lame ourselves, and therefore should pity and succour those that are so, Isa. xxxv. 3, 4; Heb. xii. 13.

3. He valued himself by the conscience he made of justice and equity in all his proceedings. His friends had unjustly censured him as an oppressor. "So far from that," says he, "I always made it my business to maintain and support right." (1.) He devoted himself to the administration of justice (v. 14): I put on righteousness and it clothed me, that is, he had an habitual disposition to execute justice and put on a fixed resolution to do it. It was the girdle of his lions, Isa. xi. 5. It kept him tight and steady in all his motions. He always appeared in it, as in his clothing, and never without it. Righteousness will clothe those that put it on; it will keep them warm, and be comfortable to them; it will keep them safe, and fence them against the injuries of the season; it will adorn them, and recommend them to the favour both of God and man. (2.) He took pleasure in it, and, as I may say, a holy delight. He looked upon it as his greatest glory to do justice to all and injury to none: My judgment was as a robe and a diadem. Perhaps he did not himself wear a robe and a diadem; he was very indifferent to those ensigns of honour; those were most fond of them who had least intrinsic worth to recommend them. But the settled principles of justice, by which he was governed and did govern, were to him instead of all those ornaments. If a magistrate do the duty of his place, that is an honour to him far beyond his gold or purple, and should be, accordingly, his delight; and truly if he do not make conscience of his duty, and in some measure answer the end of his elevation, his robe and diadem, his gown and cap, his sword and mace, are but a reproach, like the purple robe and crown of thorns with which the Jews studied to ridicule our Saviour; for, as clothes on a dead man will never make him warm, so robes on a base man will never make him honourable. (3.) He took pains in the business of his place (v. 16): The cause which I knew not I searched out. He diligently enquired into the matters of fact, patiently and impartially heard both sides, set every thing in its true light, and cleared it from false colours; he laid all circumstances together, that he might find out the truth and the merits of every cause, and then, and not until then, gave judgment upon it. He never answered a matter before he heard it, nor did he judge a man to be righteous, however he seemed, for his being first in his own cause, Prov. xviii. 17.

4. He valued himself by the check he gave to the violence of proud and evil men (v. 17): I broke the jaws of the wicked. He does not say that he broke their necks. He did not take away their lives, but he broke their jaws, he took away their power of doing mischief; he humbled them, mortified them, and curbed their insolence, and so plucked the spoil out of their teeth, delivered the persons and estates of honest men from being made a prey of by them. When they had got the spoil between their teeth, and were greedily swallowing it down, he bravely rescued it, as David did the lamb out of the mouth of the lion, not fearing, though they roared and raged like a lion disappointed of his prey. Good magistrates must thus be a terror and restraint to evil-doers and a protection to the innocent, and, in order to this, they have need to arm themselves with zeal, and resolution, and an undaunted courage. A judge upon the bench has as much need to be bold and brave as a commander in the field.

18 Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand.   19 My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch.   20 My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.   21 Unto me men gave ear, and waited, and kept silence at my counsel.   22 After my words they spake not again; and my speech dropped upon them.   23 And they waited for me as for the rain; and they opened their mouth wide as for the latter rain.   24 If I laughed on them, they believed it not; and the light of my countenance they cast not down.   25 I chose out their way, and sat chief, and dwelt as a king in the army, as one that comforteth the mourners.

That which crowned Job's prosperity was the pleasing prospect he had of the continuance of it. Though he knew, in general, that he was liable to trouble, and therefore was not secure (ch. iii. 26, I was not in safety, neither had I rest), yet he had no particular occasion for fear, but as much reason as ever any man had to count upon the lengthening out of his tranquility.

I. See here what his thoughts were in his prosperity (v. 18): Then I said, I shall die in my nest. Having made himself a warm and easy nest, he hoped nothing would disturb him in it, nor remove him out of it, till death removed him. He knew he had never stolen any coal from the altar which might fire his nest; he saw no storm arising to shake down his nest; and therefore concluded, To morrow shall be as this day; as David (Ps. xxx. 6), My mountain stands strong, and shall not be moved. Observe, 1. In the midst of his prosperity he thought of dying, and the thought was not uneasy to him. He knew that, though his nest was high, it did not set him out of the reach of the darts of death. 2. Yet he flattered himself with vain hopes, (1.) That he should live long, should multiply his days as the sand. He means as the sand on the sea-shore; whereas we should rather reckon our days by the sand in the hourglass, which will have run out in a little time. See how apt even good people are to think of death as a thing at a distance, and to put far from them that evil day, which will really be to them a good day. (2.) That he should die in the same prosperous state in which he had lived. If such an expectation as this arise from a lively faith in the providence and promise of God, it is well, but if from a conceit of our own wisdom, and the stability of these earthly things, it is ill-grounded and turns into sin. We hope Job's confidence was like David's (Ps. xxvii. 1, Whom shall I fear?), not like the rich fool's (Luke xii. 19), Soul, take thy ease.

II. See what was the ground of these thoughts.

1. If he looked at home, he found he had a good foundation. His stock was all his own, and none of all his neighbours had any demand upon him. He found no bodily distemper growing upon him; his estate did not lie under any incumbrance; nor was he sensible of any worm at the root of it. He was getting forward in his affairs, and not going behind-hand; he lost no reputation, but gained rather; he knew no rival that threatened either to eclipse his honour or abridge his power. See how he describes this, v. 19, 20. He was like a tree whose root is not only spread out, which fixes it and keeps it firm, so that it is in no danger of being overturned, but spread out by the waters, which feed it, and make it fruitful and flourishing, so that it is in no danger of withering. And, as he thought himself blessed with the fatness of the earth, so also with the kind influences of heaven too; for the dew lay all night upon his branch. Providence favoured him, and made all his enjoyments comfortable and all his enterprises successful. Let none think to support their prosperity with what they draw from this earth without that blessing which is derived from above. God's favour being continued to Job, in the virtue of that his glory was still fresh in him. Those about him had still something new to say in his praise, and needed not to repeat the old stories: and it is only by constant goodness that men's glory is thus preserved fresh and kept from withering and growing stale. His bow also was renewed in his hand, that is, his power to protect himself and annoy those that assailed him still increased, so that he thought he had as little reason as any man to fear the insults of the Sabeans and Chaldeans.

2. If he looked abroad, he found he had a good interest and well confirmed. As he had no reason to dread the power of his enemies, so neither had he any reason to distrust the fidelity of his friends. To the last moment of his prosperity they continued their respect to him and their dependence on him. What had he to fear who so gave counsel as in effect to give law to all his neighbours? Nothing surely could be done against him when really nothing was done without him.

(1.) He was the oracle of his country. He was consulted as an oracle, and his dictates were acquiesced in as oracles, v. 21. When others could not be heard all men gave ear to him, and kept silence at his counsel, knowing that, as nothing could be said against it, so nothing needed to be added to it. And therefore, after his words, they spoke not again, v. 22. Why should men meddle with a subject that has already been exhausted?

(2.) He was the darling of his country. All about him were well pleased with every thing he said and did, as David's people were with him, 2 Sam. iii. 36. He had the hearts and affections of all his neighbours, all his servants, tenants, subjects; never was man so much admired nor so well beloved. [1.] Those were thought happy to whom he spoke, and they thought themselves so. Never were the dews of heaven so acceptable to the parched ground as his wise discourses were to those that attended on them, especially to those to whom they were particularly accommodated and directed. His speech dropped upon them, and they waited for its as for the rain (v. 22, 23), wondering at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth, catching at them, laying hold on them, and treasuring them up as apophthegms. His servants that stood continually before him to hear his wisdom would not have envied Solomon's. Those are wise, or are likely to be so, that know how to value wise discourse, that wish for it, and wait for it, and drink it in as the earth does the rain that comes often upon it, Heb. vi. 7. And those who have such an interest as Job had in the esteem of others whose ipse dixit—bare assertion goes so far, as they have a great opportunity of doing good, so they must take great care lest they do hurt, for a bad word out of their mouths is very infectious. [2.] Much more happy were those thought on whom he smiled, and they thought themselves so, v. 24. "If I laughed on them, designing thereby to show myself pleased in them, or pleasant with them, it was such a favour that they believed it not for joy," or because it was so rare a thing to see this grave man smile. Many seek the ruler's favour. Job was a ruler whose favour was courted and valued at a high rate. He to whom a great prince gave a kiss was envied by another to whom he only gave a golden cup. Familiarity often breeds contempt; but if Job at any time saw fit, for his own diversion, to make himself free with those about him, yet it did not in the least diminish the veneration they had for him: The light of his countenance they cast not down. So wisely did he dispense his favours as not to make them cheap, and so wisely did they receive them as not to make themselves unworthy of them another time.

(3.) He was the sovereign of his country, v. 25. He chose out their way, sat at the helm, and steered for them, all referring themselves to his conduct and submitting themselves to his command. To this perhaps, in many countries, monarchy owed its rise: such a man as Job, that so far excelled all his neighbours in wisdom and integrity, could not but sit chief, and the fool will, of course, be servant to the wise in heart: and, if the wisdom did but for a while run in the blood, the honour and power would certainly attend it and so by degrees become hereditary. Two things recommended Job to the sovereignty:—[1.] That he had the authority of a commander or general. He dwelt as a king in the army, giving orders which were not to be disputed. Every one that has the spirit of wisdom has not the spirit of government, but Job had both, and, when there was occasion, could assume state, as the king in the army does, and say, "Go," "Come," and "Do this," Matt. viii. 9. [2.] That yet he had the tenderness of a comforter. He was as ready to succour those in distress as if it had been his office to comfort the mourners. Eliphaz himself owned he had been very good in that respect (ch. iv. 3): Thou hast strengthened the weak hands. And this he now reflected upon with pleasure, when he was himself a mourner. But we find it easier to comfort others with the comforts wherewith we ourselves have been formerly comforted than to comfort ourselves with those comforts wherewith we have formerly comforted others.

I know not but we may look upon Job as a type and figure of Christ in his power and prosperity. Our Lord Jesus is such a King as Job was, the poor man's King, who loves righteousness and hates iniquity, and upon whom the blessing of a world ready to perish comes; see Ps. lxxii. 2, &c. To him therefore let us give ear, and let him sit chief in our hearts.

Job's Humbled Condition. (b. c. 1520.)

1 But now they that are younger than I have me in derision, whose fathers I would have disdained to have set with the dogs of my flock.   2 Yea, whereto might the strength of their hands profit me, in whom old age was perished?   3 For want and famine they were solitary; fleeing into the wilderness in former time desolate and waste.   4 Who cut up mallows by the bushes, and juniper roots for their meat.   5 They were driven forth from among men, (they cried after them as after a thief;)   6 To dwell in the clifts of the valleys, in caves of the earth, and in the rocks.   7 Among the bushes they brayed; under the nettles they were gathered together.   8 They were children of fools, yea, children of base men: they were viler than the earth.   9 And now am I their song, yea, I am their byword.   10 They abhor me, they flee far from me, and spare not to spit in my face.   11 Because he hath loosed my cord, and afflicted me, they have also let loose the bridle before me.   12 Upon my right hand rise the youth; they push away my feet, and they raise up against me the ways of their destruction.   13 They mar my path, they set forward my calamity, they have no helper.   14 They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters: in the desolation they rolled themselves upon me.

Here Job makes a very large and sad complaint of the great disgrace he had fallen into, from the height of honour and reputation, which was exceedingly grievous and cutting to such an ingenuous spirit as Job's was. Two things he insists upon as greatly aggravating his affliction:—

I. The meanness of the persons that affronted him. As it added much to his honour, in the day of his prosperity, that princes and nobles showed him respect and paid a deference to him, so it added no less to his disgrace in his adversity that he was spurned by the footmen, and trampled upon by those that were not only every way his inferiors, but were the meanest and most contemptible of all mankind. None can be represented as more base than those are here represented who insulted Job, upon all accounts. 1. They were young, younger than he (v. 1), the youth (v. 12), who ought to have behaved themselves respectfully towards him for his age and gravity. Even the children, in their play, played upon him, as the children of Bethel upon the prophet, Go up, thou bald-head. Children soon learn to be scornful when they see their parents so. 2. They were of a mean extraction. Their fathers were so very despicable that such a man as Job would have disdained to take them into the lowest service about his house, as that of tending the sheep and attending the shepherds with the dogs of his flock, v. 1. They were so shabby that they were not fit to be seen among his servants, so silly that they were not fit to be employed, and so false that they were not fit to be trusted in the meanest post. Job here speaks of what he might have done, not of what he did: he was not of such a spirit as to set any of the children of men with the dogs of his flock; he knew the dignity of human nature better than to do so. 3. They and their families were the unprofitable burdens of the earth, and good for nothing. Job himself, with all his prudence and patience, could make nothing of them, v. 2. The young were not fit for labour, they were so lazy, and went about their work so awkwardly: Whereto might the strength of their hands profit me? The old were not to be advised with in the smallest matters, for in them was old age indeed, but their old age was perished, they were twice children. 4. They were extremely poor, v. 3. They were ready to starve, for they would not dig, and to beg they were ashamed. Had they been brought to necessity by the providence of God, their neighbours would have sought them out as proper objects of charity and would have relieved them; but, being brought into straits by their own slothfulness and wastefulness, nobody was forward to relieve them. Hence they were forced to flee into the deserts both for shelter and sustenance, and were put to sorry shifts indeed, when they cut up mallows by the bushes, and were glad to eat them, for want of food that was fit for them, v. 4. See what hunger will bring men to: one half of the world does not know how the other half lives; yet those that have abundance ought to think sometimes of those whose fare is very coarse and who are brought to a short allowance of that too. But we must own the righteousness of God, and not think it strange, if slothfulness clothe men with rags and the idle soul be made to suffer hunger. This beggarly world is full of the devil's poor. 5. They were very scandalous wicked people, not only the burdens, but the plagues, of the places where they lived, arrant scoundrels, the scum of the country: They were driven forth from among men, v. 5. They were such lying, thieving, lurking, mischievous people, that the best service the magistrates could do was to rid the country of them, while the very mob cried after them as after a thief. Away with such fellows from the earth; it is not fit they should live. They were lazy and would not work, and therefore they were exclaimed against as thieves, and justly; for those that do not earn their own bread by honest labour do, in effect, steal the bread out of other people's mouths. An idle fellow is a public nuisance; but it is better to drive such into a workhouse than, as here, into a wilderness, which will punish them indeed, but never reform them. They were forced to dwell in caves of the earth, and they brayed like asses among the bushes, v. 6, 7. See what is the lot of those that have the cry of the country, the cry of their own conscience, against them; they cannot but be in a continual terror and confusion. They groan among the trees (so Broughton) and smart among the nettles; they are stung and scratched there, where they hoped to be sheltered and protected. See what miseries wicked people bring themselves to in this world; yet this is nothing to what is in reserve for them in the other world. 8. They had nothing at all in them to recommend them to any man's esteem. They were a vile kind; yea, a kind without fame, people that nobody could give a good word to nor had a good wish for; they were banished from the earth as being viler than the earth. One would not think it possible that ever the human nature should sink so low, and degenerate so far, as it did in these people. When we thank God that we are men we have reason to thank him that we are not such men. But such as these were abusive to Job, (1.) In revenge, because when he was in prosperity and power, like a good magistrate, he put in execution the laws which were in force against vagabonds, and rogues, and sturdy beggars, which these base people now remembered against him. (2.) In triumph over him, because they thought he had now become like one of them. Isa. xiv. 10, 11. The abjects, men of mean spirits, insult over the miserable, Ps. xxxv. 15.

II. The greatness of the affronts that were given him. It cannot be imagined how abusive they were.

1. They made ballads on him, with which they made themselves and their companions merry (v. 9): I am their song and their byword. Those have a very base spirit that turn the calamities of their honest neighbours into a jest, and can sport themselves with their griefs.

2. They shunned him as a loathsome spectacle, abhorred him, fled far from him, (v. 10), as an ugly monster or as one infected. Those that were themselves driven out from among men would have had him driven out. For,

3. They expressed the greatest scorn and indignation against him. They spat in his face, or were ready to do so; they tripped up his heels, pushed away his feet (v. 12), kicked him, either in wrath, because they hated him, or in sport, to make themselves merry with him, as they did with their companions at foot-ball. The best of saints have sometimes received the worst of injuries and indignities from a spiteful, scornful, wicked world, and must not think it strange; our Master himself was thus abused.

4. They were very malicious against him, and not only made a jest of him, but made a prey of him—not only affronted him, but set themselves to do him all the real mischief they could devise: They raise up against me the ways of their destruction; or (as some read it), They cast upon me the cause of their woe; that is, "They lay the blame of their being driven out upon me;" and it is common for criminals to hate the judges and laws by which they are punished. But under this pretence, (1.) They accused him falsely, and misrepresented his former conversation, which is here called marring his path. They reflected upon him as a tyrant and an oppressor because he had done justice upon them; and perhaps Job's friends grounded their uncharitable censures of him (ch. xxii. 6, &c.) upon the unjust and unreasonable clamours of these sorry people; and it was an instance of their great weakness and inconsideration, for who can be innocent if the accusations of such persons may be heeded? (2.) They not only triumphed in his calamity, but set it forward, and did all they could to add to his miseries and make them more grievous to him. It is a great sin to forward the calamity of any, especially of good people. In this they have no helper, nobody to set them on or to countenance them in it, nobody to bear them out or to protect them, but they do it of their own accord; they are fools in other things, but wise enough to do mischief, and need no help in inventing that. Some read it thus, They hold my heaviness a profit, though they be never the better. Wicked people, though they get nothing by the calamities of others, yet rejoice in them.

5. Those that did him all this mischief were numerous, unanimous, and violent (v. 14): They came upon me as a wide breaking in of waters, when the dam is broken; or, "They came as soldiers into a broad breach which they have made in the wall of a besieged city, pouring in upon me with the utmost fury;" and in this they took a pride and a pleasure: They rolled themselves in the desolation as a man rolls himself in a soft and easy bed, and they rolled themselves upon him with all the weight of their malice.

III. All this contempt put upon him was caused by the troubles he was in (v. 11): "Because he has loosed my cord, has taken away the honour and power with which I was girded (ch. xii. 18), has scattered what I had got together and untwisted all my affairs—because he has afflicted me, therefore they have let loose the bridle before me," that is, "have given themselves a liberty to say and do what they please against me." Those that by Providence are stripped of their honour may expect to be loaded with contempt by inconsiderate ill-natured people. "Because he hath loosed his cord" (the original has that reading also), that is, "because he has taken off his bridle of restraint from off their malice, they cast away the bridle from me," that is, "they make no account of my authority, nor stand in any awe of me." It is owing to the hold God has of the consciences even of bad men, and the restraints he lays upon them, that we are not continually thus insulted and abused; and, if at any time we meet with such ill treatment, we must acknowledge the hand of God in taking off those restraints, as David did when Shimei cursed him: So let him curse, for the Lord hath bidden him. Now in all this, 1. We may see the uncertainty of worldly honour, and particularly of popular applause, how suddenly a man may fall from the height of dignity into the depth of disgrace. What little cause therefore have men to be ambitious or proud of that which may be so easily lost, and what little confidence is to be put in it! Those that to-day cry Hosannah may to-morrow cry Crucify. But there is an honour which comes from God, which if we secure, we shall find it not thus changeable and loseable. 2. We may see that it has often been the lot of very wise and good men to be trampled upon and abused. And, 3. That those who look only at the things that are seen despise those whom the world frowns upon, though they are ever so much the favourites of Heaven. Nothing is more grievous in poverty than that it renders men contemptible. Turba Remi sequitur fortunam, ut semper odit damnatos—The Roman populace, faithful to the turns of fortune, still persecute the fallen. 4. We may see in Job a type of Christ, who was thus made a reproach of men and despised of the people (Ps. xxii. 6; Isa. liii. 3), and who hid not his face from shame and spitting, but bore the indignity better than Job did.

Job Complains of His Affliction. (b. c. 1520.)

15 Terrors are turned upon me: they pursue my soul as the wind: and my welfare passeth away as a cloud.   16 And now my soul is poured out upon me; the days of affliction have taken hold upon me.   17 My bones are pierced in me in the night season: and my sinews take no rest.   18 By the great force of my disease is my garment changed: it bindeth me about as the collar of my coat.   19 He hath cast me into the mire, and I am become like dust and ashes.   20 I cry unto thee, and thou dost not hear me: I stand up, and thou regardest me not.   21 Thou art become cruel to me: with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me.   22 Thou liftest me up to the wind; thou causest me to ride upon it, and dissolvest my substance.   23 For I know that thou wilt bring me to death, and to the house appointed for all living.   24 Howbeit he will not stretch out his hand to the grave, though they cry in his destruction.   25 Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? was not my soul grieved for the poor?   26 When I looked for good, then evil came unto me: and when I waited for light, there came darkness.   27 My bowels boiled, and rested not: the days of affliction prevented me.   28 I went mourning without the sun: I stood up, and I cried in the congregation.   29 I am a brother to dragons, and a companion to owls.   30 My skin is black upon me, and my bones are burned with heat.   31 My harp also is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of them that weep.

In this second part of Job's complaint, which is very bitter, and has a great many sorrowful accents in it, we may observe a great deal that he complains of and some little that he comforts himself with.

I. Here is much that he complains of.

1. In general, it was a day of great affliction and sorrow. (1.) Affliction seized him, and surprised him. It seized him (v. 16): The days of affliction have taken hold upon me, have caught me (so some); they have arrested me, as the bailiff arrests the debtor, claps him on the back, and secures him. When trouble comes with commission it will take fast hold, and not lose its hold. It surprised him (v. 27): "The days of affliction prevented me," that is, "they came upon me without giving me any previous warning. I did not expect them, nor make any provision for such an evil day." Observe, He reckons his affliction by days, which will soon be numbered and finished, and are nothing to the ages of eternity, 2 Cor. iv. 17. (2.) He was in great sorrow by reason of it. His bowels boiled with grief, and rested not, v. 27. The sense of his calamities was continually preying upon his spirits without any intermission. He went mourning from day to day, always sighing, always weeping; and such cloud was constantly upon his mind that he went, in effect, without the sun, v. 28. He had nothing that he could take any comfort in. He abandoned himself to perpetual sorrow, as one that, like Jacob, resolved to go to the grave mourning. He walked out of the sun (so some) in dark shady places, as melancholy people use to do. If he went into the congregation, to join with them in solemn worship, instead of standing up calmly to desire their prayers, he stood up and cried aloud, through pain of body, or anguish of mind, like one half distracted. If he appeared in public, to receive visits, when the fit came upon him he could not contain himself, nor preserve due decorum, but stood up and shrieked aloud. Thus he was a brother to dragons and owls (v. 29), both in choosing solitude and retirement, as they do (Isa. xxxiv. 13), and in making a fearful hideous noise as they do; his inconsiderate complaints were fitly compared to their inarticulate ones.

2. The terror and trouble that seized his soul were the sorest part of his calamity, v. 15, 16. (1.) If he looked forward, he saw every thing frightful before him: if he endeavoured to shake off his terrors, they turned furiously upon him: if he endeavoured to escape from them, they pursued his soul as swiftly and violently as the wind. He complained, at first, of the terrors of God setting themselves in array against him, ch. vi. 4. And still, which way soever he looked, they turned upon him; which way soever he fled, they pursued him. My soul (Heb., my principal one, my princess); the soul is the principal part of the man; it is our glory; it is every way more excellent than the body, and therefore that which pursues the soul, and threatens that, should be most dreaded. (2.) If he looked back, he saw all the good he had formerly enjoyed removed from him, and nothing left him but the bitter remembrance of it: My welfare and prosperity pass away, as suddenly, swiftly, and irrecoverably, as a cloud. (3.) If he looked within, he found his spirit quite sunk and unable to bear his infirmity, not only wounded, but poured out upon him, v. 16. He was not only weak as water, but, in his own apprehension, lost as water spilt upon the ground. Compare Ps. xxii. 14, My heart is melted like wax.

3. His bodily diseases were very grievous; for, (1.) He was full of pain, piercing pain, pain that went to the bone, to all his bones, v. 17. It was a sword in his bones, which pierced him in the night season, when he should have been refreshed with sleep. His nerves were affected with strong convulsions; his sinews took no rest. By reason of his pain, he could take no rest, but sleep departed from his eyes. His bones were burnt with heat, v. 30. He was in a constant fever, which dried up the radical moisture and even consumed the marrow in his bones. See how frail our bodies are, which carry in themselves the seeds of our own disease and death. (2.) He was full of sores. Some that are pained in their bones, yet sleep in a whole skin, but, Satan's commission against Job extending both to his bone and to his flesh, he spared neither. His skin was black upon him, v. 30. The blood settled, and the sores suppurated and by degrees scabbed over, which made his skin look black. Even his garment had its colour changed with the continual running of his boils, and the soft clothing he used to wear had now grown so stiff that all his garments were like his collar, v. 18. It would be noisome to describe what a condition poor Job was in for want of clean linen and good attendance, and what filthy rags all his clothes were. Some think that, among other diseases, Job was ill of a quinsy or swelling in his throat, and that it was this which bound him about like a stiff collar. Thus was he cast into the mire (v. 19), compared to mire (so some); his body looked more like a heap of dirt than any thing else. Let none be proud of their clothing nor proud of their cleanness; they know not but some disease or other may change their garments, and even throw them into the mire, and make them noisome both to themselves and others. Instead of sweet smell, there shall be a stench, Isa. iii. 24. We are but dust and ashes at the best, and our bodies are vile bodies; but we are apt to forget it, till God, by some sore disease, makes us sensibly to feel and own what we are. "I have become already like that dust and ashes into which I must shortly be resolved: wherever I go I carry my grave about with me."

4. That which afflicted him most of all was that God seemed to be his enemy and to fight against him. It was he that cast him into the mire (v. 19), and seemed to trample on him when he had him there. This cut him to the heart more than any thing else, (1.) That God did not appear for him. He addressed himself to him, but gained no grant—appealed to him, but gained no sentence; he was very importunate in his applications, but in vain (v. 20): "I cry unto thee, as one in earnest, I stand up, and cry, as one waiting for an answer, but thou hearest not, thou regardest not, for any thing I can perceive." If our most fervent prayers bring not in speedy and sensible returns, we must not think it strange. Though the seed of Jacob did never seek in vain, yet they have often thought that they did and that God has not only been deaf, but angry, at the prayers of his people, Ps. lxxx. 4. (2.) That God did appear against him. That which he here says of God is one of the worst words that ever Job spoke (v. 21): Thou hast become cruel to me. Far be it from the God of mercy and grace that he should be cruel to any (his compassions fail not), but especially that he should be so to his own children. Job was unjust and ungrateful when he said so of him: but harbouring hard thoughts of God was the sin which did, at this time, most easily beset him. Here, [1.] He thought God fought against him and stirred up his whole strength to ruin him: With thy strong hand thou opposest thyself, or art an adversary against me. He had better thoughts of God (ch. xxiii. 6) when he concluded he would not plead against him with his great power. God has an absolute sovereignty and an irresistible strength, but he never uses either the one or the other for the crushing or oppressing of any. [2.] He thought he insulted over him (v. 22): Thou lifted me up to the wind, as a feather or the chaff which the wind plays with; so unequal a match did Job think himself for Omnipotence, and so unable was he to help himself when he was made to ride, not in triumph, but in terror, upon the wings of the wind, and the judgments of God did even dissolve his substance, as a cloud is dissolved and dispersed by the wind. Man's substance, take him in his best estate, is nothing before the power of God; it is soon dissolved.

5. He expected no other now than that God, by these troubles, would shortly make an end of him: "If I be made to ride upon the wind, I can count upon no other than to break my neck shortly;" and he speaks as if God had no other design upon him than that in all his dealings with him: "I know that thou wilt bring me, with so much the more terror, to death, though I might have been brought thither without all this ado, for it is the house appointed for all living," v. 23. The grave is a house, a narrow, dark, cold, ill-furnished house, but it will be our residence, where we shall rest and be safe. It is our long home, our own home; for it is our mother's lap, and in it we are gathered to our fathers. It is a house appointed for us by him that has appointed us the bounds of all our habitations. It is appointed for all the living. It is the common receptacle, where rich and poor meet; it is appointed for the general rendezvous. We must all be brought thither shortly. It is God that brings us to it, for the keys of death and the grave are in his hand, and we may all know that, sooner or later, he will bring us thither. It would be well for us if we would duly consider it. The living know that they shall die; let us, each of us, know it with application.

6. There were two things that aggravated his trouble, and made it the less tolerable:—(1.) That it was a very great disappointment to his expectation (v. 26): "When I looked for good, for more good, or at least for the continuance of what I had, then evil came"—such uncertain things are all our worldly enjoyments, and such a folly is it to feed ourselves with great expectations from them. Those that wait for light from the sparks of their creature comforts will be wretchedly disappointed and will make their bed in the darkness. (2.) That is was a very great change in his condition (v. 31): "My harp is not only laid by, and hung upon the willow-trees, but it is turned to mourning, and my organ into the voice of those that weep." Job, in his prosperity, had taken the timbrel and harp, and rejoiced at the sound of the organ, ch. xxi. 12. Notwithstanding his gravity and grace, he had found time to be cheerful; but now his tune was altered. Let those therefore that rejoice be as though they rejoiced not, for they know not how soon their laughter will be turned into mourning and their joy into heaviness. Thus we see how much Job complains of; but,

II. Here is something in the midst of all with which he comforts himself, and it is but a little. 1. He foresees, with comfort, that death will be the period of all his calamities (v. 24): Though God now, with a strong hand, opposed himself against him, "yet," says he, "he will not stretch out his hand to the grave." The hand of God's wrath would bring him to death, but would not follow him beyond death; his soul would be safe and happy in the world of spirits, his body safe and easy in the dust. Though men cry in his destruction (though, when they are dying, there is a great deal of agony and out-cry, many a sigh, and groan, and complaint), yet in the grave they feel nothing, they fear nothing, but all is quiet there. "Though in hell, which is called destruction, they cry, yet not in the grave; and, being delivered from the second death, the first to me will be an effectual relief." Therefore he wished he might be hidden in the grave, ch. xiv. 13. 2. He reflects with comfort upon the concern he always had for the calamities of others when he was himself at ease (v. 25): Did not I weep for him that was in trouble? Some think he herein complains of God, thinking it very hard that he who had shown mercy to others should not himself find mercy. I would rather take it as a quieting consideration to himself; his conscience witnessed for him that he had always sympathized with persons in misery and done what he could to help them, and therefore he had reason to expect that, at length, both God and his friends would pity him. Those who mourn with them that mourn will bear their own sorrows the better when it comes to their turn to drink of the bitter cup. Did not my soul burn for the poor? so some read it, comparing it with that of St. Paul, 2 Cor. xi. 29, Who is offended, and I burn not? As those who have been unmerciful and hard-hearted to others may expect to hear of it from their own consciences, when they are themselves in trouble, so those who have considered the poor and succoured them shall have the remembrance thereof to make their bed easy in their sickness, Ps. xli. 1, 3.

Job's Vindication of Himself. (b. c. 1520.)

1 I made a covenant with mine eyes; why then should I think upon a maid?   2 For what portion of God is there from above? and what inheritance of the Almighty from on high?   3 Is not destruction to the wicked? and a strange punishment to the workers of iniquity?   4 Doth not he see my ways, and count all my steps?   5 If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit;   6 Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity.   7 If my step hath turned out of the way, and mine heart walked after mine eyes, and if any blot hath cleaved to mine hands;   8 Then let me sow, and let another eat; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.

The lusts of the flesh, and the love of the world, are the two fatal rocks on which multitudes split; against these Job protests he was always careful to stand upon his guard.

I. Against the lusts of the flesh. He not only kept himself clear from adultery, from defiling his neighbour's wives (v. 9), but from all lewdness with any women whatsoever. He kept no concubine, no mistress, but was inviolably faithful to the marriage bed, though his wife was none of the wisest, best, or kindest. From the beginning it was so, that a man should have but one wife and cleave to her only; and Job kept closely to that institution and abhorred the thought of transgressing it; for, though his greatness might tempt him to it, his goodness kept him from it. Job was now in pain and sickness of body, and under that affliction it is in a particular manner comfortable if our consciences can witness for us that we have been careful to preserve our bodies in chastity and to possess those vessels in sanctification and honour, pure from the lusts of uncleanness. Now observe here,

1. What the resolutions were which, in this matter, he kept to (v. 1): I made a covenant with my eyes, that is, "I watched against the occasions of the sin; why then should I think upon a maid?" that is, "by that means, through the grace of God, I kept myself from the very first step towards it." So far was he from wanton dalliances, or any act of lasciviousness, that, (1.) He would not so much as admit a wanton look. He made a covenant with his eyes, made this bargain with them, that he would allow them the pleasure of beholding the light of the sun and the glory of God shining in the visible creation, provided they would never fasten upon any object that might occasion any impure imaginations, much less any impure desires, in his mind; and under this penalty, that, if they did, they must smart for it in penitential tears. Note, Those that would keep their hearts pure must guard their eyes, which are both the outlets and inlets of uncleanness. Hence we read of wanton eyes (Isa. iii. 16) and eyes full of adultery, 2 Pet. ii. 14. The first sin began in the eye, Gen. iii. 6. What we must not meddle with we must not lust after; and what we must not lust after we must not look at; not the forbidden wealth (Prov. xxiii. 5), not the forbidden wine (Prov. xxiii. 31), not the forbidden woman, Matt. v. 28. (2.) He would not so much as allow a wanton thought: "Why then should I think upon a maid with any unchaste fancy or desire towards her?" Shame and sense of honour might restrain him from soliciting the chastity of a beautiful virgin, but only grace and the fear of God would restrain him from so much as thinking of it. Those are not chaste that are not so in spirit as well as body, 1 Cor. vii. 34. See how Christ's exposition of the seventh commandment agrees with the ancient sense of it, and how much better Job understood it than the Pharisees, though they sat in Moses's chair.

2. What the reasons were which, in this matter, he was governed by. It was not for fear of reproach among men, though that is to be considered (Prov. vi. 33), but for fear of the wrath and curse of God. He knew very well, (1.) That uncleanness is a sin that forfeits all good, and shuts us out from the hope of it (v. 2): What portion of God is there from above? What blessing can such impure sinners expect from the pure and holy God, or what token of his favour? What inheritance of the Almighty can they look for from on high? There is no portion, no inheritance, no true happiness, for a soul, but what is in God, in the Almighty, and what comes from above, from on high. Those that wallow in uncleanness render themselves utterly unfit for communion with God, either in grace here or in glory hereafter, and become allied to unclean spirits, which are for ever separated from him; and then what portion, what inheritance, can they have with God? No unclean thing shall enter into the New Jerusalem, that holy city. (2.) It is a sin that incurs divine vengeance, v. 3. It will certainly be the sinner's ruin if it be not repented of in time. Is not destruction, a swift and sure destruction, to those wicked people, and a strange punishment to the workers of this iniquity? Fools make a mock at this sin, make a jest of it; it is with them a peccadillo, a trick of youth. But they deceive themselves with vain words, for because of these things, how light soever they make of them, the wrath of God, the unsupportable wrath of the eternal God, comes upon the children of disobedience, Eph. v. 6. There are some sinners whom God sometimes out of the common road of Providence to meet with; such are these. The destruction of Sodom is a strange punishment. Is there not alienation (so some read it) to the workers of iniquity? This is the sinfulness of the sin that it alienates the mind from God (Eph. iv. 18, 19), and this is the punishment of the sinners that they shall be eternally set at a distance from him, Rev. xxii. 15. (3.) It cannot be hidden from the all-seeing God. A wanton thought cannot be so close, nor a wanton look so quick, as to escape his cognizance, much less any act of uncleanness so secretly done as to be out of his sight. If Job was at any time tempted to this sin, he restrained himself from it, and all approaches to it, with this pertinent thought (v. 4), Doth not he see my ways; as Joseph did (Gen. xxxix. 9), How can I do it, and sin against God? Two things Job had an eye to:—[1.] God's omniscience. It is a great truth that God's eyes are upon all the ways of men (Prov. v. 20, 21); but Job here mentions it with application to himself and his own actions: Doth not he see my ways? O God! thou hast searched me and known me. God sees what rule we walk by, what company we walk with, what end we walk towards, and therefore what ways we walk in. [2.] His observance. "He not only sees, but takes notice; he counts all my steps, all my false steps in the way of duty, all my by-steps into the way of sin." He not only sees our ways in general, but takes cognizance of our particular steps in these ways, every action, every motion. He keeps account of all, because he will call us to account, will bring every work into judgment. God takes a more exact notice of us than we do of ourselves; for who ever counted his own steps? yet God counts them. Let us therefore walk circumspectly.

II. He stood upon his guard against the love of the world, and carefully avoided all sinful indirect means of getting wealth. He dreaded all forbidden profit as much as all forbidden pleasure. Let us see,

1. What his protestation is. In general, he had been honest and just in all his dealings, and never, to his knowledge, did any body any wrong. (1.) He never walked with vanity (v. 5), that is, he never durst tell a lie to get a good bargain. It was never his way to banter, or equivocate, or make many words in his dealings. Some men's constant walk is a constant cheat. They either make what they have more than it is, that they may be trusted, or less than it is, that nothing may be expected from them. But Job was a different man. His wealth was not acquired by vanity, though now diminished, Prov. xiii. 11. (2.) He never hasted to deceit. Those that deceive must be quick and sharp, but Job's quickness and sharpness were never turned that way. He never made haste to be rich by deceit, but always acted cautiously, lest, through inconsideration, he should do an unjust thing. Note, What we have in the world may be either used with comfort or lost with comfort if it was honestly obtained. (3.) His steps never turned out of the way, the way of justice and fair dealing; from that he never deviated, v. 7. He not only took care not to walk in a constant course and way of deceit, but he did not so much as take one step out of the way of honesty. In every particular action and affair we must closely tie ourselves up to the rules of righteousness. (4.) His heart did not walk after his eyes, that is, he did not covet what he saw that was another's, nor wish it his own. Covetousness is called the lust of the eye, 1 John ii. 16. Achan saw, and then took, the accursed thing. That heart must needs wander that walks after the eyes; for then it looks no further than the things that are seen, whereas it ought to be in heaven whither the eyes cannot reach: it should follow the dictates of religion and right reason: if it follow the eye, it will be misled to that for which God will bring men into judgment, Eccl. xi. 9. (5.) That no blot had cleaved to his hands, that is, he was not chargeable with getting any thing dishonestly, or keeping that which was another's, whenever it appeared to be so. Injustice is a blot, a blot to the estate, a blot to the owner; it spoils the beauty of both, and therefore is to be dreaded. Those that deal much in the world may perhaps have a blot come upon their hands, but they must wash it off again by repentance and restitution, and not let it cleave to their hands. See Isa. xxxiii. 15.

2. How he ratifies his protestation. So confident is he of his own honesty that, (1.) He is willing to have his goods searched (v. 6): Let me be weighed in an even balance, that is, "Let what I have got be enquired into and it will be found to weigh well"—a sign that it was not obtained by vanity, for then Tekel would have been written on it—weighed in the balance and found too light. An honest man is so far from dreading a trial that he desires it rather, being well assured that God knows his integrity and will approve it, and that the trial of it will be to his praise and honour. (2.) He is willing to forfeit the whole cargo if there be found any prohibited or contraband goods, any thing but what he came honestly by (v. 8): "Let me sow, and let another eat," which was already agreed to be the doom of oppressors (ch. v. 5), "and let my offspring, all the trees that I have planted, be rooted out." This intimates that he believed the sin did deserve this punishment, that usually it is thus punished, but that though now his estate was ruined (and at such a time, if ever, his conscience would have brought his sin to his mind), yet he knew himself innocent and would venture all the poor remains of his estate upon the issue of the trial.

9 If mine heart have been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour's door;   10 Then let my wife grind unto another, and let others bow down upon her.   11 For this is a heinous crime; yea, it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges.   12 For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and would root out all mine increase.   13 If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me;   14 What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him?   15 Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?

Two more instances we have here of Job's integrity:—

I. That he had a very great abhorrence of the sin of adultery. As he did not wrong his own marriage bed by keeping a concubine (he did not so much as think upon a maid, v. 1), so he was careful not to offer any injury to his neighbour's marriage bed. Let us see here, 1. How clear he was from this sin, v. 9. (1.) He did not so much as covet his neighbour's wife; for even his heart was not deceived by a woman. The beauty of another man's wife did not kindle in him any unchaste desires, nor was he ever moved by the allurements of an adulterous woman, such as is described, Prov. vii. 6, &c. See the original of all the defilements of the life; they come from a deceived heart. Every sin is deceitful, and none more so than the sin of uncleanness. (2.) He never compassed or imagined any unchaste design. He never laid wait at his neighbour's door, to get an opportunity to debauch his wife in his absence, when the good man was not at home, Prov. vii. 19. See ch. xxiv. 15. 2. What a dread he had of this sin, and what frightful apprehensions he had concerning the malignity of it—that it was a heinous crime (v. 11), one of the greatest vilest sins a man can be guilty of, highly provoking to God, and destructive to the prosperity of the soul. With respect to the mischievousness of it, and the punishment it deserved, he owns that, if he were guilty of that heinous crime, (1.) His family might justly be made infamous in the highest degree (v. 10): Let my wife grind to another. Let her be a slave (so some), a harlot, so others. God often punishes the sins of one with the sin of another, the adultery of the husband with the adultery of the wife, as in David's case (2 Sam. xii. 11), which does not in the least excuse the treachery of the adulterous wife; but, how unrighteous soever she is, God is righteous. See Hos. iv. 13, Your spouses shall commit adultery. Note, Those who are not just and faithful to their relations must not think it strange if their relations be unjust and unfaithful to them. (2.) He himself might justly be made a public example: For it is an iniquity to be punished by the judges; yea, though those who are guilty of it are themselves judges, as Job was. Note, Adultery is a crime which the civil magistrate ought to take cognizance of and punish: so it was adjudged even in the patriarchal age, before the law of Moses made it capital. It is an evil work, to which the sword of justice ought to be a terror. (3.) It might justly become the ruin of his estate; nay, he knew it would be so (v. 12): It is a fire. Lust is a fire in the soul: those that indulge it are said to burn. It consumes all that is good there (the convictions, the comforts), and lays the conscience waste. It kindles the fire of God's wrath, which, if not extinguished by the blood of Christ, will burn to the lowest hell. It will consume even to that eternal destruction. It consumes the body, Prov. v. 11. It consumes the substance; it roots out all the increase. Burning lusts bring burning judgments. Perhaps it alludes to the burning of Sodom, which was intended for an example to those who should afterwards, in like manner, live ungodly.

II. That he had a very great tenderness for his servants and ruled them with a gentle hand. He had a great household and he managed it well. By this he evidenced his sincerity that he had grace to govern his passion as well as his appetite; and he that in these two things has the rule of his own spirit is better than the mighty, Prov. xvi. 32. Here observe, 1. What were Job's condescensions to his servants (v. 13): He did not despise the cause of his man-servant, no, nor of his maid-servant, when they contended with him. If they contradicted him in any thing, he was willing to hear their reasons. If they had offended him, or were accused to him, he would patiently hear what they had to say for themselves, in their own vindication or excuse. Nay, if they complained of any hardship he put upon them, he did not browbeat them, and bid them hold their tongues, but gave them leave to tell their story, and redressed their grievances as far as it appeared they had right on their side. He was tender of them, not only when they served and pleased him, but even when they contended with him. Herein he was a great example to masters, to give to their servants that which is just and equal; nay, to do the same things to them that they expect from them (Col. iv. 1, Eph. vi. 9), and not to rule them with rigour, and carry it with a high hand. Many of Job's servants were slain in his service (ch. i. 15-17); the rest were unkind and undutiful to him, and despised his cause, though he never despised theirs (ch. xix. 15, 16); but he had this comfort that in his prosperity he had behaved well towards them. Note, When relations are either removed from us or embittered to us the testimony of our consciences that we have done our duty to them will be a great support and comfort to us. 2. What were the considerations that moved him to treat his servants thus kindly. He had, herein, an eye to God, both as his Judge and their Maker. (1.) As his Judge. He considered, "If I should be imperious and severe with my servants, what then shall I do when God riseth up?" He considered that he had a Master in heaven, to whom he was accountable, who will rise up and will visit; and we are concerned to consider what we shall do in the day of his visitation (Isa. x. 3), and, considering that we should be undone if God should then be strict and severe with us, we ought to be very mild and gentle towards all with whom we have to do. Consider what would become of us if God should be extreme to mark what we do amiss, should take all advantages against us and insist upon all his just demands from us—if he should visit every offence, and take every forfeiture—if he should always chide, and keep his anger for ever. And let not us be rigorous with our inferiors. Consider what will become of us if we be cruel and unmerciful to our brethren. The cries of the injured will be heard; the sins of the injurious will be punished. Those that showed no mercy shall find none; and what shall we do then? (2.) As his and his servants' Creator, v. 15. When he was tempted to be harsh with his servants, to deny them their right and turn a deaf ear to their reasonings, this thought came very seasonably into his mind, "Did not he that made me in the womb make him? I am a creature as well as he, and my being is derived and depending as well as his. He partakes of the same nature that I do and is the work of the same hand: Have we not all one Father?" Note, Whatever difference there is among men in their outward condition, in their capacity of mind, or strength of body, or place in the world, he that made the one made the other also, which is a good reason why we should not mock at men's natural infirmities, nor trample upon those that are in any way our inferiors, but, in every thing, do as we would be done by. It is a rule of justice, Parium par sit ratio—Let equals be equally estimated and treated; and therefore since there is so great a parity among men, they being all made of the same mould, by the same power, for the same end, notwithstanding the disparity of our outward condition, we are bound so far to set ourselves upon the level with those we deal with as to do to them, in all respects, as we would they should do to us.

Job's Compassion to the Poor. (b. c. 1520.)

16 If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail;   17 Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof;   18 (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;)   19 If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering;   20 If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep;   21 If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate:   22 Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.   23 For destruction from God was a terror to me, and by reason of his highness I could not endure.

Eliphaz had particularly charged Job with unmercifulness to the poor (ch. xxii. 6, &c.): Thou hast withholden bread from the hungry, stripped the naked of their clothing, and sent widows away empty. One would think he could not have been so very positive and express in his charge unless there had been some truth in it, some ground, for it; and yet it appears, by Job's protestation, that it was utterly false and groundless; he was never guilty of any such thing. See here,

I. The testimony which Job's conscience gave in concerning his constant behaviour towards the poor. He enlarges most upon this head because in this matter he was most particularly accused. He solemnly protests,

1. That he had never been wanting to do good to them, as there was occasion, to the utmost of his ability. He was always compassionate to the poor, and careful of them, especially the widows and fatherless, that were destitute of help. (1.) He was always ready to grant their desires and answer their expectations, v. 16. If a poor person begged a kindness of his, he was ready to gratify him; if he could but perceive by the widow's mournful craving look that she expected an alms from him, though she had not confidence enough to ask it, he had compassion enough to give it, and never caused the eyes of the widow to fail. (2.) He put a respect upon the poor, and did them honour; for he took the fatherless children to eat with him at his own table: they should fare as he fared, and be familiar with him, and he would show himself pleased with their company as if they had been his own, v. 17. As it is one of the greatest grievances of poverty that it exposes to contempt, so it is none of the least supports to the poor to be respected. (3.) He was very tender of them, and had a fatherly concern for them, v. 18. He was a father to the fatherless, took care of orphans, brought them up with him under his own eye, and gave them, not only maintenance, but education. He was a guide to the widow, who had lost the guide of her youth; he advised her in her affairs, took cognizance of them, and undertook the management of them. Those that need not our alms may yet have occasion for our counsel, and it may be a real kindness to them. This Job says he did from his youth, from his mother's womb. He had something of tenderness and compassion woven in his nature; he began betimes to do good, ever since he could remember; he had always some poor widow or fatherless child under his care. His parents taught him betimes to pity and relieve the poor, and brought up orphans with him. (4.) He provided food convenient for them; they ate of the same morsels that he did (v. 17), did not eat after him, of the crumbs that fell from his table, but with him, of the best dish upon his table. Those that have abundance must not eat their morsels alone, as if they had none but themselves to take care of, nor indulge their appetite with a dainty bit by themselves, but take others to share with them, as David took Mephibosheth. (5.) He took particular care to clothe those that were without covering, which would be more expensive to him than feeding them, v. 19. Poor people may perish for want of clothing as well as for want of food—for want of clothing to lie in by night or to go abroad in by day. If Job knew of any that were in this distress, he was forward to relieve them, and instead of giving rich and gaudy liveries to his servants, while the poor were turned off with rags that were ready to be thrown to the dunghill, he had good warm strong clothes made on purpose for them of the fleece of his sheep (v. 20), so that their loins, whenever they girt those garments about them, blessed him; they commended his charity, blessed God for him, and prayed God to bless him. Job's sheep were burned with fire from heaven, but this was his comfort that, when he had them, he came honestly by them, and used them charitably, fed the poor with their flesh and clothed them with their wool.

2. That he had never been accessory to the wronging of any that were poor. It might be said, perhaps, that he was kind here and there to a poor orphan that was a favourite, but to others he was oppressive. No, he was tender to all and injurious to none. He never so much as lifted up his hand against the fatherless (v. 21), never threatened or frightened them, or offered to strike them; never used his power to crush those that stood in his way or squeeze what he could out of them, though he saw his help in the gate, that is, though he had interest enough, both in the people and in the judges, both to enable him to do it and to bear him out when he had done it. Those that have it in their power to do a wrong thing and go through with it, and a prospect of getting by it, and yet do justly, and love mercy, and are firm to both, may afterwards reflect upon their conduct with much comfort, as Job does here.

II. The imprecation with which he confirms this protestation (v. 22): "If I have been oppressive to the poor, let my arm fall from my shoulder-blade and my arm be broken from the bone," that is, "let the flesh rot off from the bone and one bone be disjointed and broken off from another." Had he not been perfectly clear in this matter, he durst not thus have challenged the divine vengeance. And he intimates that it is a righteous thing with God to break the arm that is lifted up against the fatherless, as he withered Jeroboam's arm that was stretched out against a prophet.

III. The principles by which Job was restrained from all uncharitableness and unmercifulness. He durst not abuse the poor; for though, with his help in the gate, he could overpower them, yet he could not make his part good against that God who is the patron of oppressed poverty and will not let oppressors go unpunished (v. 23): "Destruction from God was a terror to me, whenever I was tempted to this sin, and by reason of his highness I could not endure the thought of making him my enemy." He stood in awe, 1. Of the majesty of God, as a God above him. He thought of his highness, the infinite distance between him and God, which possessed him with such a reverence of him as made him very circumspect in his whole conversation. Those who oppress the poor, and pervert judgment and justice, forget that he who is higher than the highest regards, and there is a higher than they, who is able to deal with them (Eccl. v. 8); but Job considered this. 2. Of the wrath of God, as a God that would certainly be against him if he should wrong the poor. Destruction from God, because it would be a certain and an utter ruin to him if he were guilty of this sin, was a constant terror to him, to restrain him from it. Note, Good men, even the best, have need to restrain themselves from sin with the fear of destruction from God, and all little enough. This should especially restrain us from all acts of injustice and oppression that God himself is the avenger thereof. Even when salvation from God is a comfort to us, yet destruction from God should be a terror to us. Adam, in innocency, was awed with a threatening.

Job's Abhorrence of Idolatry. (b. c. 1520.)

24 If I have made gold my hope, or have said to the fine gold, Thou art my confidence;   25 If I rejoiced because my wealth was great, and because mine hand had gotten much;   26 If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness;   27 And my heart hath been secretly enticed, or my mouth hath kissed my hand:   28 This also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.   29 If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or lifted up myself when evil found him:   30 Neither have I suffered my mouth to sin by wishing a curse to his soul.   31 If the men of my tabernacle said not, Oh that we had of his flesh! we cannot be satisfied.   32 The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveller.

Four articles more of Job's protestation we have in these verses, which, as all the rest, not only assure us what he was and did, but teach us what we should be and do:—

I. He protests that he never set his heart upon the wealth of this world, nor took the things of it for his portions and happiness. He had gold; he had fine gold. His wealth was great, and he had gotten much. Our wealth is either advantageous or pernicious to us according as we stand affected to it. If we make it our rest and our ruler, it will be our ruin; if we make it our servant, and an instrument of righteousness, it will be a blessing to us. Job here tells us how he stood affected to his worldly wealth. 1. He put no great confidence in it: he did not make gold his hope, v. 24. Those are very unwise that do, and enemies to themselves, who depend upon it as sufficient to make them happy, who think themselves safe and honourable, and sure of comfort, in having abundance of this world's goods. Some make it their hope and confidence for another world, as if it were a certain token of God's favour; and those who have so much sense as not to think so yet promise themselves that it will be a portion for them in this life, whereas the things themselves are uncertain and our satisfaction in them is much more so. It is hard to have riches and not to trust in riches; and it is this which makes it so difficult for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God, Matt. xix. 23; Mark x. 24. 2. He took no great complacency in it (v. 25): If I rejoiced because my wealth was great and boasted that my hand had gotten much. He took no pride in his wealth, as if it added any thing to his real excellency, nor did he think that his might and the power of his hand obtained it for him, Deut. viii. 17. He took no pleasure in it in comparison with the spiritual things which were the delight of his soul. His joy did not terminate in the gift, but passed through it to the giver. When he was in the midst of his abundance he never said, Soul, take thy ease in these things, eat, drink, and be merry, nor blessed himself in his riches. He did not inordinately rejoice in his wealth, which helped him to bear the loss of it so patiently as he did. The way to weep as though we wept not is to rejoice as though we rejoiced not. The less pleasure the enjoyment is the less pain the disappointment will be.

II. He protests that he never gave the worship and glory to the creature which are due to God only; he was never guilty of idolatry, v. 26-28. We do not find that Job's friends charged him with this. But there were those, it seems, at that time, who were so sottish as to worship the sun and moon, else Job would not have mentioned it. Idolatry is one of the old ways which wicked men have trodden, and the most ancient idolatry was the worshipping of the sun and moon, to which the temptation was most strong, as appears Deut. iv. 19, where Moses speaks of the danger which the people were in of being driven to worship them. But as yet it was practised secretly, and durst not appear in open view, as afterwards the most abominable idolatries did. Observe,

1. How far Job kept from this sin. He not only never bowed the knee to Baal (which, some think, was designed to represent the sun), never fell down and worshipped the sun, but he kept his eye, his heart, and his lips, clean from this sin. (1.) He never so much as beheld the sun or the moon in their pomp and lustre with any other admiration of them than what led him to give all the glory of their brightness and usefulness to their Creator. Against spiritual as well as corporal adultery he made a covenant with his eyes; and this was his covenant, that, whenever he looked at the lights of heaven, he should by faith look through them, and beyond them, to the Father of lights. (2.) He kept his heart with all diligence, that that should not be secretly enticed to think that there is a divine glory in their brightness, or a divine power in their influence, and that therefore divine honours are to be paid to them. Here is the source of idolatry; it begins in the heart. Every man is tempted to that, as to other sins, when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed. (3.) He did not so much as put a compliment upon these pretended deities, did not perform the least and lowest act of adoration: His mouth did not kiss his hand, which, it is likely, was a ceremony then commonly used even by some that yet would not be thought idolaters. It is an old-fashioned piece of civil respect among ourselves, in making a bow, to kiss the hand, a form which, it seems, was anciently used in giving divine honours to the sun and moon. They could not reach to kiss them, as the men that sacrificed kissed the calves (Hos. xiii. 2, 1 Kings xix. 18); but, to show their good will, they kissed their hand, reverencing those as their masters which God has made servants to this lower world, to hold the candle for us. Job never did it.

2. How ill Job thought of this sin, v. 28. (1.) He looked upon it as an affront to the civil magistrate: It were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, as a public nuisance, and hurtful to kings and provinces. Idolatry debauches men's minds, corrupts their manners, takes off the true sense of religion which is the great bond of societies, and provokes God to give men up to a reprobate sense, and to send judgments upon a nation; and therefore the conservators of the public peace are concerned to restrain it by punishing it. (2.) He looked upon it as a much greater affront to the God of heaven, and no less than high treason against his crown and dignity: For I should have denied the God that is above, denied his being as God and his sovereignty as God above. Idolatry is, in effect, atheism; hence the Gentiles are said to be without God (atheists) in the world. Note, We should be afraid of every thing that does but tacitly deny the God above, his providence, or any of his perfections.

III. He protests that he was so far from doing or designing mischief to any that he neither desired nor delighted in the hurt of the worst enemy he had. The forgiving of those that do us evil, it seems, was Old-Testament duty, though the Pharisees made the law concerning it of no effect, by teaching, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy, Matt. v. 43. Observe here,

1. Job was far from revenge. He did not only not return the injuries that were done him, not only not destroy those who hated him; but, (1.) He did not so much as rejoice when any mischief befel them, v. 29. Many who would not wilfully hurt those who stand in their light, or have done them a diskindness, yet are secretly pleased and laugh in their sleeve (as we say) when hurt is done them. But Job was not of that spirit. Though Job was a very good man, yet, it seems, there were those that hated him; but evil found them. He saw their destruction, and was far from rejoicing in it; for that would justly have brought the destruction upon him, as it is intimated, Prov. xxiv. 17, 18. (2.) He did not so much as wish in his own mind that evil might befel them, v. 30. He never wished a curse to his soul (curses to the soul are the worst of curses), never desired his death; he knew that, if he did, it would turn into sin to him. He was careful not to offend with his tongue (Ps. xxxix. 1), would not suffer his mouth to sin, and therefore durst not imprecate any evil, no, not to his worst enemy. If others bear malice to us, that will not justify us in bearing malice to them.

2. He was violently urged to revenge, and yet he kept himself thus clear from it (v. 31): The men of his tabernacle, his domestics, his servants, and those about him, were so enraged at Job's enemy who hated him, that they could have eaten him, if Job would but have set them on or given them leave. "O that we had of his flesh! Our master is satisfied to forgive him, but we cannot be so satisfied." See how much beloved Job was by his family, how heartily they espoused his cause, and what enemies they were to his enemies; but see what a strict hand Job kept upon his passions, that he would not avenge himself, though he had those about him that blew the coals of his resentment. Note, (1.) A good man commonly does not himself lay to heart the affronts that are done him so much as his friends do for him. (2.) Great men have commonly those about them that stir them up to revenge. David had so, 1 Sam. xxiv. 4; xxvi. 8; 2 Sam. xvi. 9. But if they keep their temper, notwithstanding the spiteful insinuations of those about them, afterwards it shall be no grief of heart to them, but shall turn very much to their praise.

IV. He protests that he had never been unkind or inhospitable to strangers (v. 32): The stranger lodged not in the street, as angels might lately have done in the streets of Sodom if Lot alone had not entertained them. Perhaps by that instance Job was taught (as we are, Heb. xiii. 2) not to be forgetful to entertain strangers. He that is at home must consider those that are from home, and put his soul into their soul's stead, and then do as he would be done by. Hospitality is a Christian duty, 1 Pet. iv. 9. Job, in his prosperity, was noted for good house-keeping: He opened his door to the road (so it may be read); he kept the street-door open, that he might see who passed by and invite them in, as Abraham, Gen. xviii. 1.

Job's Protestation of His Integrity. (b. c. 1520.)

33 If I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom:   34 Did I fear a great multitude, or did the contempt of families terrify me, that I kept silence, and went not out of the door?   35 Oh that one would hear me! behold, my desire is, that the Almighty would answer me, and that mine adversary had written a book.   36 Surely I would take it upon my shoulder, and bind it as a crown to me.   37 I would declare unto him the number of my steps; as a prince would I go near unto him.   38 If my land cry against me, or that the furrows likewise thereof complain;   39 If I have eaten the fruits thereof without money, or have caused the owners thereof to lose their life:   40 Let thistles grow instead of wheat, and cockle instead of barley. The words of Job are ended.

We have here Job's protestation against three more sins, together with his general appeal to God's bar and his petition for a hearing there, which, it is likely, was intended to conclude his discourse (and therefore we will consider it last), but that another particular sin occurred, from which he thought it requisite to acquit himself. He clears himself from the charge,

I. Of dissimulation and hypocrisy. The general crime of which his friends accused him was that, under the cloak of a profession of religion, he had kept up secret haunts of sin, and that really he was as bad as other people, but had the art of concealing it. Zophar insinuated (ch. xx. 12) that he hid his iniquity under his tongue. "No," says Job, "I never did (v. 33), I never covered my transgression as Adam, never palliated a sin with frivolous excuses, nor made fig-leaves the shelter of my shame, nor ever hid my iniquity in my bosom, as a fondling, a darling, that I could by no means part with, or as stolen goods which I dreaded the discovery of." It is natural to us to cover our sins; we have it from our first parents. We are loth to confess our faults, willing to extenuate them and make the best of ourselves, to devolve the blame upon others, as Adam on his wife, not without a tacit reflection upon God himself. But he that thus covers his sins shall not prosper, Prov. xxviii. 13. Job, in this protestation, intimates two things, which were certain evidences of his integrity:—1. That he was not guilty of any great transgression or iniquity, inconsistent with sincerity, which he had now industriously concealed. In this protestation he had dealt fairly, and, while he denies some sins, was not conscious to himself that he allowed himself in any. 2. That what transgression and iniquity he had been guilty of (Who is there that lives and sins not?) he had always been ready to own it, and, as soon as ever he perceived he had said or done amiss, he was ready to unsay it and undo it, as far as he could, by repentance, confessing it both to God and man, and forsaking it: this is doing honestly.

II. From the charge of cowardice and base fear. His courage in that which is good he produces as an evidence of his sincerity in it (v. 34): Did I fear a great multitude, that I kept silence? No, all that knew Job knew him to be a man of undaunted resolution in a good cause, that boldly appeared, spoke, and acted, in defence of religion and justice, and did not fear the face of man nor was ever threatened or brow-beaten out of his duty, but set his face as a flint. Observe, 1. What great conscience Job had made of his duty as a magistrate, or a man of reputation, in the place where he lived. He did not, he durst not, keep silence when he had a call to speak in an honest cause, or keep within doors when he had a call to go abroad to do good. The case may be such that it may be our sin to be silent and retired, as when we are called to reprove sin and bear our testimony against it, to vindicate the truths and ways of God, to do justice to those who are injured or oppressed, or in any way to serve the public or to do honour to our religion. 2. What little account Job made of the discouragements he met with in the way of his duty. He valued not the clamours of the mob, feared not a great multitude, nor did he value the menaces of the mighty: The contempt of families never terrified him. He was not deterred by the number or quality, the scorns or insults, or the injurious from doing justice to the injured; no, he scorned to be swayed and biassed by any such considerations, nor ever suffered a righteous cause to be run down by a high hand. He feared the great God, not the multitude, and his curse, not the contempt of families.

III. From the charge of oppression and violence, and doing wrong to his poor neighbours. And here observe,

1. What his protestation is—that the estate he had he both got and used honestly, so that his land could not cry out against him nor the furrows thereof complain (v. 38), as they do against those who get the possession of them by fraud and extortion, Hab. ii. 9-11. The whole creation is said to groan under the sin of man; but that which is unjustly gained and held cries out against a man, and accuses him, condemns him, and demands justice against him for the injury. Rather than his oppression shall go unpunished the very ground and the furrows of it shall witness against him, and be his prosecutors. Two things he could say safely concerning his estate:—(1.) That he never ate the fruits of it without money, v. 39. What he purchased he paid for, as Abraham for the land he bought (Gen. xxiii. 16), and David, 2 Sam. xxiv. 24. The labourers that he employed had their wages duly paid them, and, if he made use of the fruits of those lands that he let out, he paid his tenants for them, or allowed it in their rent. (2.) That he never caused the owners thereof to lose their life, never got an estate, as Ahab got Naboth's vineyard, by killing the heir and seizing the inheritance, never starved those that held lands of him nor killed them with hard bargains and hard usage. No tenant, no workman, no servant, he had, could complain of him.

2. How he confirms his protestation. He does it, as often before, with a suitable imprecation (v. 40): "If I have got my estate unjustly, let thistles grow instead of wheat, the worst of weeds instead of the best of grains." When men get estates unjustly they are justly deprived of the comfort of them, and disappointed in their expectations from them. They sow their land, but they sow not that body that shall be. God will give it a body. It was sown wheat, but shall come up thistles. What men do not come honestly by will never do them any good. Job, towards the close of his protestation, appeals to the judgment-seat of God concerning the truth of it (v. 35-37): O that he would hear me, even that the Almighty would answer me! This was what he desired and often complained that he could not obtain; and, now that he had drawn up his own defence so particularly, he leaves it upon record, in expectation of a hearing, files it, as it were, till his cause be called.

(1.) A trial is moved for, and the motion earnestly pressed: "O that one, any one, would hear me; my cause is so good, and my evidence so clear, that I am willing to refer it to any indifferent person whatsoever; but my desire is that the Almighty himself would determine it." An upright heart does not dread a scrutiny. He that means honestly wishes he had a window in his breast, that all men might see the intents of his heart. But an upright heart does particularly desire to be determined in every thing by the judgment of God, which we are sure is according to the truth. It was holy David's prayer, Search me, O God! and know my heart; and it was blessed Paul's comfort, He that judgeth me is the Lord.

(2.) The prosecutor is called, the plaintiff summoned, and ordered to bring in his information, to say what he has to say against the prisoner, for he stands upon his deliverance: "O that my adversary had written a book—that my friends, who charge me with hypocrisy, would draw up their charge in writing, that it might be reduced to a certainty, and that we might the better join issue upon it." Job would be very glad to see the libel, to have a copy of his indictment. He would not hide it under his arm, but take it upon his shoulder, to be seen and read of all men, nay, he would bind it as a crown to him, would be pleased with it, and look upon it as his ornament; for, [1.] If it discovered to him any sin he had been guilty of, which he did not yet see, he should be glad to know it, that he might repent of it and get it pardoned. A good man is willing to know the worst of himself and will be thankful to those that will faithfully tell him of his faults. [2.] If it charged him with what was false, he doubted not but to disprove the allegations, that his innocency would be cleared up as the light, and he should come off with so much the more honour. But, [3.] He believed that, when his adversaries came to consider the matter so closely as they must do if they put the charge in writing, the accusations would be trivial and minute, and every one that saw them would say, "If this was all they had to say against him, it was a shame they gave him so much trouble."

(3.) The defendant is ready to make his appearance and to give his accusers all the fair play they can desire. He will declare unto them the number of his steps, v. 37. He will let them into the history of his own life, will show them all the stages and scenes of it. He will give them a narrative of his conversation, what would make against him as well as what would make for him, and let them make what use they pleased of it; and so confident he is of his integrity that as a prince to be crowned, rather than a prisoner to be tried, he would go near to him, both to his accuser to hear his charge and to his judge to hear his doom. Thus the testimony of his conscience was his rejoicing.

Hic murus aheneus esto, nil conscire sibi—

Be this thy brazen bulwark of defence,

Still to preserve thy conscience innocence.

Those that have kept their hands without spot from the world, as Job did, may lift up their faces without spot unto God, and may comfort themselves with the prospect of his judgment when they lie under the unjust censures of men. If our hearts condemn us not, then have we confidence towards God.

Thus the words of Job are ended; that is, he has now said all he would say in answer to his friends: he afterwards said something in a way of self-reproach and condemnation (ch. xl. 4, 5, xlii. 2, &c.), but here ends what he had to say in a way of self-defence and vindication. If this suffice not he will say no more; he knows when he has said enough and will submit to the judgment of the bench. Some think the manner of expression intimates that he concluded with an air of assurance and triumph. He now keeps the field and doubts not but to win the field. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifies.




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