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tertained, and then thinks of their present base desertion and neglect,-he is reminded of those brooks in the country wherein he resided, which, swelled with the melting of the ice and snow from the mountains, were marked with attention by the caravans as they passed, and regarded with pleasure as the source of a future supply; but, alas ! when in the midst of summer, parched with thirst, they resorted thither, they found these brooks entirely dried up, and their reliance upon them produced only distress and disappointment. “ My brethren have dealt deceitfully as a brook, and as the stream of brooks they pass away—which are blackish by reason of the ice, and wherein the snow is hid: what time they wax warm they vanish; when it is hot, they are consumed out of their place. The paths of their way are turned aside; they go to nothing, and perish. The troops of Tema looked ; the companies of Sheba waited for them. They were confounded, because they had hoped; they came thither, and were ashamed.” (vi. 15—20.)

When some time had elapsed, during which no kind voice had cheered this sufferer, and no affectionate heart had condoled with him, three persons from among the crowd of his former friends, approached him, professing, and perhaps feeling, a desire to comfort him. These were, Eliphaz, the Temanite, probably a descendant of Esau ; Bildad, the Shuhite, who is supposed to have sprung

from Shuah, a son of Abraham, by Keturah; and Zophar, the Naamathite, of whose ancestry we know nothing. On approaching him, and beholding his desolate situation, they expressed their grief in the most emphatical manner; but probably they already indulged and silently displayed those suspicions of Job, which they so soon and so often declared. Overcome at last by his sufferings, wounded by the silence and reserve of his friends, and forcibly, no doubt, assailed by Satan, Job at last, in a highly unjustifiable manner, poured forth his curses (not upon God, as the adversary predicted, but) upon the day of his birth. The minds of his visiters were immediately changed, if their designs were ever benevolent. Not the smallest allowance is made for his situation. Instead of consolation, they load him with censures and contumely; and by unjust suspicions, by bitter reproaches, by violent altercations, they increase his distress. Eliphaz reproves his impatience, and declares that his sufferings prove that he was a profane man and a hypocrite. Bildad not only repeats the same charges, but asserts that the sudden death of his children was a proof of their wickedness, and a just judgment for their impiety. And Zophar accuses him of arrogance, of vanity, and falsehood, because he denies the unfounded charges that they bring against him. All of them display, with force and eloquence, the greatness and the certainty of the divine judgments against the false pretender to piety, and apply their remarks particularly to him. In vain does Job complain of their inhumanity, and tenderly adjure them, 6 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, 0 ye my friends, for the hand of the Lord hath touched me. Ye overwhelm the fatherless, and dig a pit for your friend. If

your soul were in my soul's stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake my head at you. But I would strengthen you with my mouth, and the moving of my lips should assuage your grief.” In vain does he appeal to God for his sincerity, and the falsehood of their charges. His expostulations only irritate them more, and cause

them, with greater severity, to reproach him with pride, impiety, passion, and madness. In their various attacks upon him, they uniformly appear malignant, irritable, severe censors—destitute of charity, and torturing and perverting all his expressions.

Is this, my brethren, a solitary instance in the history of the world? Oh, no! such examples of the instability and inefficacy of earthly friendships are certainly so numerous, that we should certainly be led to “ cease from man,” and look for support, in our sorrows, to the living God. Has not the same insincerity, which was so painfully felt by Job, often been experienced by you? Oh! my brethren, ought we not, then, to labour to secure the friendship of Jesus, a “ friend who sticketh closer than a brother?” Amidst the fluctuations, the miseries, the reverses of life, we need some friend on whom we may unreservedly rely-some support on which we may safely lean. Such a friend, such a support, is our Redeemer.

II. The history of Job leads us to reflect on that mixture of sincere piety with the remains of corruption, which is found in every believer.

God has thought proper to leave us but partially sanctified while we are on earth. Even the most holy are at times constrained, with the holy apostle, to complain of " a law in their members, warring against the law of their mind,” and with him to exclaim, “O miserable man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” In consequence of this, they sometimes are seduced by temptation to the commission of acts, which, in the general disposition of their heart they abhor, and which are contrary to the habitual bias of their soul. The faith of an Abraham is shaken, the professions of a Peter are forgot



ten, and the exalted patience and submission of Job appear to waver.

In reading over his dispute with his pretended friends, we see much to admire; but we observe also proofs that he was “ a man subject to like passions even as others;" we behold the light and darkness so intermingled, as to show us that he was still in this land of twilight and shadows, and not in the regions of celestial and unclouded light.

We see him acknowledging himself depraved and sinful, and assuming that lowly station which becomes the worthiest of men, when he cries, “ I have sinned! what shall I do unto thee, thou Preserver of men? Though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but make supplication to my Judge. If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me: if I say, I am perfect, it shall also prove me perverse; for how should man be just with God?” But he awfully forgot his character, as a creature and a sinner, when he so often challenged God to reason the cause of his afflictions with him, and to show him the justice of the judgments inflicted on him; when he so presumptuously cried, “ Let him take his rod away from me, and let not his fear terrify me; then would I speak and not fear him. Surely I would speak to the Almighty, and I desire to reason with God. Callthou, and I will answer; or let me speak, and answer thou me.”

We admire the meekness and resignation which he generally displays, and regard him with admiration, while, in the midst of such multiplied calamities, he declares, “ Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. All the days of my appointed time will I wait till my change come.

When he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold.” But we shudder at

hearing this same Job ungratefully cursing the day when he was born; in his impatience, lamenting that he had not died as soon as he had opened his eyes upon the light, desiring to be destroyed, and charging God with cruelty: “Oh that I might have my request, and that God would grant me the thing that I long for; even that it would please God to destroy me; that he would let loose his hand and cut me off. Thou art become cruel unto me; with thy strong hand thou opposest thyself against me."

We are edified, when we hear him expressing his dependence upon God, his hope, and his faith, in those emphatic words, “ I know that my Redeemer liveth.” But we regret to see, afterwards, this consolation vanished, his hope almost extinct, and the most gloomy apprehensions preying upon his soul.

We cannot justify, but let us pity, the unhappy sufferer. His circumstances were peculiar. Under such multiplied woes, he found only cruelty from those persons to whom he looked for consolation. Had they been more kind, he had probably expressed himself with less impatience. At least, when Elihu addressed him, in a manner mild, pious, equitable, moderate, and wise, equally free from adulation and severity-faithfully pointing out his faults, as well as those of his visiters-Job attempted no justification of himself, but submitted to his reproofs with patience. Besides, Job was at this time powerfully assaulted by Satan, who was permitted to exercise all his subtlety and power upon him, and who poured in

upon him a flood of temptations; and, what was still more terrible, the sense of the favour and love of God appears to have been withdrawn, and a dread of divine vengeance resting upon his spirit. “ The arrows of the Almighty are within me, the poison where

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