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What time was it, do you imagine, that Job desired to be
appointed for him? Was it the time of this life? If so, how could it succeed his being hid in the grave ? No; he had other hopes, and expected to be called from the grave, and seems assured that God would not desert his creatures even there; • Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee : thou wilt have a desire to the work of thine hands :' ver. 15. He had before declared his notion, that man lieth down, and riseth not till the heavens be no more:' ver. 12. And presently he declares that all things were drawing to an end, the earth and the inhabitants thereof. Surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place. The waters wear the stones.
Thou washeth away the things which grow out of the dust of the earth, and thou destroyest the hope of man. Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth :: ver. 18. 19. 20. Thus far Job. Let us see now how this new argument is entertained by his friends. The first who replies is Eliphaz the Temanite: he appears quite astonished, and asks Job where he had this knowlege, whether he had the secret of God, and had engrossed all wisdom to himself; he tells him they were no strangers to the ways of God, but had heard as much from their fathers as Job had, though he pretended to the knowlege of such secret things. But take his own words : ! Art thou the first man that was born ?, or wast thou made before the hills ? Hast thou heard the secret of God ? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself? What knowest thou that we know not? what understandest thou which is not in us? With us are both the grey-headed and very aged men, much elder than thy father. Are the consolations of God (which we have instructed thee in) small with thee? is there any secret thing with thee ?' chap. xv. ver. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. After this strong expostulation he returns to his old argument, and offers many proofs, from ancient tradition, of God's immediate ven, geance on the wicked. The next who answered Job is Bildad the Shuhite: he talks in the same strain, and reproaches Job with his pretence to secret knowlege above others. Wherefore,' says he, are we counted as beasts, and reputed vile in your sight ? chap. xviii. ver. 3. And because Job had talked
' as if the heavens should cease to be, and that the earth and its
inhabitants should fail, and the rock be removed out of hiš place, Bildad thinks him even distracted with passion, and reproaches him with his wild conceit: 'He teareth himself in his anger: shall the earth be forsaken for thee? and shall the rock be removed out of his place ?'* chap. xviii. ver. 4. As if he had said, “ What is this wonderful man, that he expects to see all things destroyed, the earth and the heavens to pass away, that there may be a proper time to do him justice? Is it not more reasonable to think that God will do justice here than that all the works of nature should be destroyed to make way for judgment? Yea, the light of the wicked shall be put out, and the spark of his fire shall not shine :” 5.
These repeated provocations drew from Job that noble declaration of his faith and hope which is the subject of our present inquiry. In the next chapter he gently rebukes his friends for their severe reproaches for his supposed error: 'and be it indeed that I have erred, mine error remaineth with myself: chap. xix. ver. 4. It affects not you, why then are ye so enraged ? He goes on to acknowlege, in the first place, that all his misery was from the hand of God; and that he cried in vain, being not regarded by God or by man: “I cry aloud, but there is no judgment:' ver. 7. But then, so far was he from being ashamed of the error imputed to him, that he appeals again with great solemnity to the future judgment of God : Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! that they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth : and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.' Job's meaning in this solemn appeal may be understood from another like passage: • also now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and
my record is on high. My friends scorn me: but mine eye poureth out tears unto God : chap. xvi. ver. 19. 20. From these reasons and circumstances laid together, it appears to me
* Τί γάρ, εάν συ αποθάνης, άοίκητος η υπ' ουρανόν ; “What, if you die, must the earth under the heavens be uninhabitable?'-LXX.
evident that Job's friends understood him to speak of a resur, rection to judgment, and not of a temporal deliverance; otherwise what occasion was there to reproach him with pretending to be wiser than all men, to know the secret of God, beyond what the first man knew, or any who succeeded him ? What reason was there to charge him ith an opinion, that the earth should be forsaken for his sake?' His temporal deliverance surely could hurt neither the earth nor its inhabitants. Add to this two other charges brought against Job's opinion by Eliphaz, and not yet taken notice of; he calls his notion unprofitable, speeches that can do no good, nay, which are hurtful; 'for,' says he, thou casteth off fear, and restrainest prayer
‘“ before God : chap. xv. ver. 4. His thought was plainly this: if once Job can persuade men that God does not interpose to execute judgment in this life, but reserves all things to a distant, far distant day of visitation, when the heavens shall be no more, there will be an end of all fear of God, an end of all prayer and supplication to him.* Taking it in this light, we see how the charge arises; but could he possibly charge Job's hope of temporal deliverance with such consequences? If not, it is a great evidence in what manner he understood Job; and I think we need no other interpreter.
This very passage is to me no inconsiderable argument of the reality of the history contained in the book of Job, and of the antiquity of the book itself: for supposing the book to be a mere poetical fiction, on what ground of probability does the author furnish Job with such exalted sentiments of religion, and at the same time suppose them to be such secrets to all his friends ? Are there any such instances in any author ? Cicero in his dialogues introduces philosophers of different opinions, but we find them all acquainted equally with the common notions of their own times; and it would be absurd in any author
suppose the contrary without very evident reason; and there can be no such reason but the evidence of history. Consequently the book of Job must be founded in history, and not in invention. In the time of Job true religion was preserved
* This sense of the passage is confirmed by a like reflexion in the Book of Job, chap. xxi. from verse 7. to 15.
among a few, and communicated by special revelation; whether therefore Job had himself this knowlege by prophecy, or received it by tradition in his own house from those who had, he might very well know what his friends and neighbors knew not. This circumstance is natural and agreeable to the times, supposing the history to be true ; but it is unnatural, and without probability, which is the very life of poetical fiction, supposing the book to be a mere fable or parable.
I have been much longer in examining these passages in the book of Job than I intended; but this book is so obscure and hard to be understood, that I found it would be to little purpose to produce the passages without endeavoring to fix the meaning of them. And if I have not mistaken in so doing, the time has not been ill employed; for the evidence arising from this book is in all respects considerable; and it is of great moment to see those great strokes of true religion, and of God's purpose from the beginning with respect to the children of men, preserved in an author who cannot be charged with Jewish education or prejudices; but who was born in another country, of another family, and does not appear to have heard of Moses, or his law, and yet the secret of God was with him.
I will be very short in what follows.
We may consider the Book of Psalms, the Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, as the productions of one and the same age; and there is no reason to think but that the writers had the same opinions in the subject-matters of our inquiry. If we find less than it may seem reasonable to expect from these writers on the subject of the fall, and the promise made to Adam, there is a plain reason to be given why it is so; for the great promises made to David of a son whose kingdom should endure for ever,' had eclipsed all the ancient hopes, and so intirely possessed the mind of the Psalmist and of his son Solomon, that they seldom look higher than the immediate promises of God to themselves. And yet God's method of opening gradually his purposes to different ages was understood by Solomon, who tells us that the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day: Prov. iv. 18. The case was much the same with the succeeding prophets ; they were ministers of new declarations made by God, and had
no occasion to treat of the old. And of the later writers, none treat expressly of this subject; if ever they mention it, it is only occasionally and in transitu. All the help therefore to be had in this case must come from hints and allusions, and ways of speaking, which refer to ancient things, and show the writer's sense concerning them. Thus when Solomon tells us, • he applied his heart to know, the reason of things, and to know the wickedness of folly, even of foolishness and madness;' and then declares the result of all his inquiry, · Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright, but they have sought out many inventions :' Eccles. vii. 25. 29.-when he tells us that there is not a just man on the earth that doeth good, and sinneth not :' ver. 20.—not one who can say, :I have made my heart clean, I am pure
sin :'Prov. xx. 9.-when David tells us that he was shapen in iniquity, that in sin did his mother conceive him,' Psalm. li. 5. and that in the sight of God no man shall be justified, Psal. cxliii. 2.
-when we read in the book of Wisdom, that God made not death, neither hath be pleasure in the destruction of the living : for he created all things, that they might have their being; and the generations of the world were healthful: and there is no poison of destruction in them; nor the kingdom of death on the earth. For righteousness is immortal. But ungodly men with their works and words called it to them :' Wisd. i. 13. 14. 15. 16.—and again, that “God created man to be immortal, and made him to be an image of his own eternity. Nevertheless, through envy of the devil came death into the world; and they that do hold of his side do find it:' Wisd. ii. 23. 24.-when the Son of Sirach tells us that · error and darkness had their beginning together with sinners,' Ecclus. xi. 16. that death is the sentence of the Lord over all flesh,' Ecclus. xli. 3. that the covenant from the beginning was, Thou shalt die the death,' Ecclus. xiv. 17. that of woman came the beginning of sin, and through her we all die,' Ecclus. xxv. 24. that God, at the first, filled man with the knowlege of understanding, and showed him good and evil,' Ecclus. xvii. 7. 'and left him in the hand of his own) counsel,' Ecclus. xv. 14. --when, I say, we read and compare all these passages together, can there be any reasonable foundation to doubt in what sense