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worldling sees it. He sees that good men die. This should impress him with a sense of his own liability. If any were exempt from death it should be good men. When the rich sinner sees that they succumb to the stroke, if he were not brutish he would surely reflect and infer his own mortality, and allow the impression to deepen on his mind. How seldom is it so !
Rich men strangely superior to the thought of death. They will even see their rich neighbours die and their wealth transferred, and still not be moved to any practical purpose.
Wise men die ; likewise the fool and the brutish person perish. Expositors say that the use of the word perish is for emphasis here, to signify that the wicked do more than die, they perish; whereas the good only die. Think if this be so. See Isaiah lvii. 1.
The transfer of their wealth is a painful consideration for them if they know that it will pass into strange hands. They “ leave their wealth to others.” And who are those others? If they be their own children or their own kindred, it may be a comfort to them to think as they quit the world that they have not lived in vain, since they have provided for their posterity, who will remember them with gratitude and name them with respect. No doubt this is desirable, and it is sometimes done. (Ps. xvii. 14.) But there are many exceptions. Sometimes they are childless. Sometimes they are bereaved, the hope of their household passing to the grave before they die themselves. “He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them.” Perhaps they will fall to the share of entire strangers, or come into possession of their enemies.
Let us learn from this subject the true value of earthly good. How little it should elevate us if we come into a large share of it! How little it should grieve us if we are limited and straitened ! There is, however, something better than either of these suppositions. If by diligence and honest endeavour we can rise above uncomfortable indigence, by all means let us choose it rather. Between wealth on the one hand and poverty on the other there is a golden mean more conducive to virtue than either. He who can pray Agar's prayer has the best estimate of earthly possessions. The limitation of desire is a great secret in relation to character and happiness. “He that hath an ear to hear, let him bear.”
ART. V.-THE BOOK OF JOB.
AN ESSAY, READ TO THE PRIMITIVE METHODIST MINISTERS' LITERARY ASSOCIATION OF THE TUNSTALL DISTRICT, OCT, 5, 1868.
We might fill many pages with the opinions and conjectures of the learned, but it is not our intention to detain you with their various and contradictory sentiments. That Job was a real and not a fictitious character may be inferred from the manner in which he is mentioned in Scripture. In Ezek. xiv. 14, the Almighty is introduced as saying: “ Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, they should deliver their own souls by their righteousness.” Here Job is referred to as a real character, as distinctly as are Noah and Daniel. They are alike spoken of as “ men,” as having souls, as having sons and daughters; and it is evident that Ezekiel as certainly regarded Job as a real character as he did either of the others. In James v. 11, we read : “Ye bave heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord ; that the Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy," showing that he was pitiful to those in affliction, and of great mercy.
There can be no doubt that there is reference here to the sufferings of a real man, as there is to the real compassion which the Lord shows to one in great trouble. In addition to the authority of the inspired writers, we have the strongest internal evidence from the book itself that Job was a real person; the fact of his existence is expressly declared, and it plainly specifies the names of persons, places, facts, and other circumstances usually related in true histories.
Let us notice the author, the date, the locality, the authenticity, the contents, and the lessons of this book.
1. ITS AUTHOR. Who the author was, is a question concerning which the learned are very much divided. Its author cannot be ascertained with certainty. Some suppose it was Elihu, others Moses, others Solomon, others Ezra, &c. We incline to the opinion that Job himself was the author. The following suggestions may serve to show that this opinion is attended with a high degree of probability. 1. Job lived after his calamities an hundred and forty years, affording ample leisure to make the record of his trials. 2. The art of making books was known in his time (ch. xix. 23). In wbatever way it was done, whether by engraving on stone or lead, or by the use of more perishable materials, he was not ignorant of some method of making a record of thoughts to be preserved and transmitted to future times. Understanding
this art, and having abundant leisure, it is scarcely probable he would have failed to make a record of what bad occurred during his own remarkable life. 3. Job has shown in his own speeches that he was well able to compose the book. In everything he goes far beyond all the other interlocutors, except God; and he who was competent in trials so severe as his were, to give utterance to the lofty eloquence, the argument, and the poetry now found in his speeches, was not incompetent to make a record of them in the long period of health and prosperity which he subsequently enjoyed. Every circumstance, therefore, seems to render it probable that Job was the author of this remarkable book, with the exception of the record which is made of his own age and death, and this may have been added afterwards, by another hand.
II. ITS DATE. The age in which Job lived has been as much controverted as his real existence and the authorship of the book. It has been thought that he lived in the time of Moses, of David, and even as low down as the Babylonish captivity; but we cannot reconcile either of these periods with the religion of Job, or the character of the book which contains bis history. The probability is that he lived in the time of the patriarchs. The following are some of the arguments used to prove the great antiquity of this portion of the sacred volume.
1. The length of Job's life. It is stated that after his affliction “he lived an hundred and forty years;" at his death he must have been between 200 and 300 years of
age. 2. He lived at a time when records were kept by engraving in stone; when the iron pen, the lead, and the rock were employed for this purpose; and when property was estimated by the flocks, herds, and great households of the possessors.
3. The religion of Job is of the same kind which we find prevailing in the time of Abraham, before the institution of the Jewish system. It is a religion of sacrifices, but without any officiating priest. Job himself presents the offering as the head of the family, in behalf of his children and his friends. There is no priest appointed for this office; no temple, tabernacle, or sacred place of any kind. Now, this is just the kind of religion which we find prevailing among the patriarchs until the giving of the law on Mount Sinai, and hence it is natural to infer that Job lived previous to that event. These circumstances combined leave little doubt as to the time when Job lived. They concur in fixing the period as not remote from the age of Abraham, and there is no other period of history in which they will be found to unite.
III. ITS LOCALITY. The sacred narrative informs us that Job dwelt "in the land of Uz.” Uz is said to be in the north-eastern part of Arabia Deserta, between Idumea, Palestine, and the Euphrates. It is clear to some that the history of an inhabitant
of Idumea is the subject of the poem which bears the name of Job, and that all the persons introduced into it were Idumeans, dwelling in Idumea; in other words, Edomite Arabs.
IV. ITS AUTHENTICITY. The canonical authority of the book of Job, or its right to a place among the inspired Scriptures, is determined on the same principles as the other books of the Old Testament. The argument for this rests mainly on two considerations, which have generally been regarded as satisfactory by those who believe in the Divine mission of the Saviour, and the inspiration of the apostles. The first is, that it was found in the canon of the Jewish Scriptures, to which the Saviour gave his sanction as inspired; and the other is, that it is quoted in the New Testament as of Divine authority. It was in reference to this entire collection that the Saviour gave to the Jews of his time the direction, “Search the Scriptures." And it was of this entire collection that the Apostle Paul said, “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” St. James commends the patience of Job, and says it was well known to those to whom he wrote. We are not to suppose that the speeches of Eliphaz, Bildad, Zophar, and Elihu were inspired when they were uttered. The angry disputants frequently contradicted each other, and most of the speeches God himself has declared to be wrong (Job xlii. 7-9). The author of the book was undoubtedly inspired to give an account of this dispute, and he had a great moral purpose in view.
V. ITS CONTENTS. 1. The book of Job contains the history of a man equally distinguished for purity and uprightness of character, and for honours, wealth, and domestic happiness, whom God permitted for the trial of his faith to be suddenly deprived of all his numerous blessings, and to be at once plunged into the deepest affliction and most accumulated distress. His trial was great. He lost all, his sheep, his camels, his oxen, his asses, his houses, his daughters, and his health. It has been observed, that Satan left bim nothing but his tongue to curse God with, bis boils to torture him to do it, and his wife to persuade him to blaspheme. He who one day was the richest, happiest, and most honoured of men, in a very short time was the poorest, the most afflicted, and the most despised. But he was eminent for his piety, patience, and resignation under the pressure of his severe calamities, which humbled and purified bim; all his afflictions only developed the strength of his patience. He sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. “The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”
2. In this poem we have an exposition of the book of Providence, and a clear and satisfactory solution of many of its difficult and
The prosperity of the wicked, and the afflictions of the righteous have always been reckoned two as hard chapters as any in that book; but they are here expounded, and reconciled with the Divine wisdom, purity, and goodness, by the end they serve. Shall it be said, after this, that the conduct of Divine Providence cannot be vindicated in suffering an upright man to become a butt for the malice of Satan for so long a time, and for no purpose ? The greatest, the most important purposes were accomplished by thistrial. Job became a much better man than he ever was before, the dispensations of God's providence were illustrated and justified, Satan's devices unmasked, patience crowned and rewarded; and the Church of God greatly enriched by having bequeathed to it the vast treasury of Divine truth which is found in the book of Job.
3. We have here a monument of primitive theology. The first and great principles of the light of nature, on which natural religion is founded, are here, in a warm, and long, and learned dispute not only taken for granted on all sides, and not the least doubt made of them, but, by common consent, plainly laid down as eternal truths, illustrated and urged as commanding truths.
Were ever the being of God, his glorious attributesand perfections, his unsearchable wisdom, his irresistible power, his inconceivable glory, and his inflexible justice, discoursed of with more clearness, fulness, reverence, and Divine eloquence than in this book ? The creation of the world, and the government of it, are here admirably described. Moral good and evil, virtue and vice, were never drawn more to the life-the beauty of the one, and the deformity of the other-than in this book.
4. We have also a specimen of early poetry and an illus tration of the early views of science of incomparable beauty and sublimity. As a mere specimen of composition, apart from all the questions of its theology ; as the oldest book in the world; as reflecting the manners, habits, and opinions of an ancient generation; as illustrating more than any other book extant the state of the sciences, the ancient views of astronomy, geology, geography, natural history, and the advances made in the arts, this book has a higher value than can be attached to any other record of the past, and demands the profound attention of those who would make themselves familiar with the early history of the human race. The theologian should study it as an invaluable introduction to the volume of inspired truth; the humble Christian, to obtain elevated views of God; the philosopher, to see how little the human mind can accomplish on the most important of all subjects without the aid of revelation; the child of sorrow, to learn the lessons of patient submission; the man of science, to know what was understood in the far distant periods of the past; the man of taste, as an incomparable specimen of poetic beauty and sublimity.