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served God from a religious principle, but merely for selfinterest, replied : “ Doth Job serve thee for nothing ? Hast “ thou not enclosed him on all sides, and secured him; " and all that he hath, from the reach of misfortune and “ danger ? but withdraw thy protection, and suffer him “ to be afflicted with the loss of the mighty wealth thou " hast heaped upon him, and he will curse thee to thy “ face.” God knowing the integrity of Job, and that the exercise of it might redound to his honour, and become an useful example to others, was pleased to expose him to the trial " Behold (says he) all that he hath is in thy “ power; but dare not to touch his person.” The mali. cious fiend having obtained this permission, soon sets his wicked engines to work; and the more effectually to pro. voke the spirit of Job to blasphemy, attacks him all at once with a crowd of miseries, all most too much for human nature to bear.
Satan takes an opportunity to begin his assault upon Job on the day that his eldest son was in course to entertain his relations. He had, in readiness, stirred up the Sabeans* to make an inroad upon Job for plunder; which they did with such fury, that but one servant escaped to bring the unhappy news to Job; “ Thy oxen (said he) “ were ploughing, and the asses feeding by them, and the “ Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; and they “ have put all thy servants to the sword except myself.: Job had not time to reflect with himself whether this might be the effect of common depredation, or a judg. ment upon him for the folly of his children; for this messenger is imm di tely succeeded by another, who in great consternation says, “ The fire of God is fallen “ from heaven, and hath burnt up the sheep and thy ser.
(properly speaking) to come to God, since they are always in his presence ; nor can any day be assigned to God, who is without time, infinite, immense, &c.
• Sabeans. They were a neighbouring people descended from Sheba, Grandsok of Abraham by Kerurab, Gen. xxv. 3.
" vants, and consumed them all, and I only am escaped “ to tell thee.” This account was very shocking; and the calamity coming from heaven, might make it appear more like an immediate judgment than the former ; but before Job could animadvert upon it, a third messenger rushes in upon him and cries, " The Chaldeans, in three parties, “ fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, and “all thy servants have they put to the sword, but myself." Thus was Job, in a single day, bereft of all his extensive substance; and he, who in the morning was the most opulent man in all the country, became, before the night, one of the poorest in the world. The malicious enemy finding these attempts too remote to excite that passion in Job, which he expected upon this sudden concourse of afflictions, resolves, in order to crown the whole, to touch bim in a more sensible part, and to come as near him as the bound prescribed by the Almighty would permit. This Prince of the Air, therefore, raising a very great storm, threw down to the ground the house in which the family of Job were assembled, and buried them all in the ruins. And that Job might not have any time to digest the
grief of his former losses, before the last messenger had · made an end of relating to him the loss of his camels, ano
ther comes in haste, and in a great consternation teils him, “ That as his sons and daughters were eating, and d inkig “ wine in their eldest brother's house, there came a great “ wind from the wilderness, and smote the four* corners
* Four Corners. This, among other passages of Scripture, hath excited the xidicule of infidel-wits, as incompatible with natural philosophy; but, independ: ent of the agency of Satan, on this particular occasion who is emphatically styled in Scripture, the Prince of the Winds, or Power of the Air) it is well known that the hurricanes of the West-Indies, as well as those tremendous storms denominated tyfoons, in the seas of China, are particularly distinguishable from all other winds, by their suddenly shifting round not only to the four points, but to every point of the compass, and blowing with a violence utterly inconceivable to Europeans. Effects are thus produced far more terrible and full as instantaneous as that recorded to have happened to the house of Job's eldest son. It is this tremendous and sudden shifting of the wind, that dismasts or sinks the largest ships in ani instant, and lays the strongest buildings level with the ground.
ht he at first
nd sorrow in his mantle.
her and th His mon of mi
“ of the house, and it fell upon the young men,* and " they are dead, and I only escaped to tell thee.” This was a terrible stroke indeed, and touched Job in a tender part. The death of all his children, snatched away in a moment, affected him deeply ; but the circumstances and manner of their death were peculiarly afflicting, considering the unprepared state of mind in which death, too probably, found them.
These repeated calamities did not betray Job into any irregularity or indecency; the only vent he at first gave to his grief was by rending his mantle, the common token of affliction and sorrow in those eastern countries and early ages of the world ; then, deliberately following the other usual customs of mourning, he shaved his head, and in humble submission of mind fell upon the ground and wor. shipped. His misery could not make him forget his duty, and therefore he humbled himself under the divine hand, without whose permission he well knew none of these troubles could have befallen him.
Satan's great expectation was from this last trial; he knew Job could with a serene mind sustain temporal losses, which time and industry might. repair ; but this wound of nature, in the death of all his children, he thought would have transported him into some indecent and intemperate expression against God. But, to his great disappointment, Job stands the shock; and in humble ac. knowledgment of his own meanness, cries, "Naked came “ I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return to “ the earth, the common womb and mother of mankind." And then, in a quiet resignation and thankfulness for what he had received at the hand of God, though now deprived of it, he gives up all for lost in this world, and says, “The " Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away ; blessed be " the name of the Lord." Thus the pious patriarch's virtue shone in his sufferings, which, great as they were, could not make him deface the character his Maker had given
* Men. From the dignity of the masculine gender the word men here compre hends both sexes ; 80 that Job's daughters as well as his sons were killed with the fall of the house.
blessing, as Panever be save, sho
him, by the least murmuring or repining. He knew it was but just, that he who gave, should have power to resume his grant whenever he pleased; and therefore, instead of oursing, as Satan had maliciously suggested he would, he blessed God for all his dispensations, and thus proved the devil to be a liar. . But that restless Fury resolves not to leave him thus: for when the Sons of God presented* themselves as before, the Lord proposed Job again to Satan, who had intruded himself among them, as an instance of a perfect and upright man, that feared God and avoided evil. Still, says God, he maintains his integrity, though thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause : his piety appears in the greatness of his sufferings, and his faith and resignation" are complete. To which the old Deceiver maliciously replied, Thou hast hitherto permitted me “ only to try him at a distance, but let me touch his per" son, and he will yet blaspheme.” The Almighty knowing that these exercises, though sharp to nature, would redound to his glory, and turn to Job's advantage ; and resolving, in his divine providence, to arm Job with sufficient patience to endure them, and in the end to recompense all his sufferings with an extraordinary reward, he enlarges Satan's commission, but yet with a limitation ; “ Behold, (says he) he is in thy power, but touch not his " life." ;
. The busy Fiend, overjoyed at the enlargement of his power, doubts not in the least to make an easy conquest over Job; therefore he immediately falls upon him, while the sense of his late losses is fully retained, and severely afflicts him from head to foot, with the most painful boils and ulcers. Never was human nature more disguised than the body of Job in this loathsome condition : his skin studded with scabs and blotches, not arising from any peccant humour in his natural constitution, which medi.
* Presented. This, as hath been already said, is a form or manner of speeck not strictly proper to God and spirits, but metaphorically accommodated to the weakness of man's capacity.
cines might correct, but inflicted by malicious policy, which raised them to the highest extremity of pain, that might, if possible, oblige Job to despair and blaspheme. Nor were his pains short or intermitting, like fits and pangs, but lasting for a continued series of time ; and that which increased his misery was the filthiness of his distemper, which rendered him odious to himself, and loathsome to others : for not only his relations* and friends abandoned him, but his very menial servants withdrew from him, leaving him destitute of all human help. He, who but a few hours before, was the greatest man in his country, in whose presence the young ment were afraid to appear, and before whom the aged stood up; to whom princes paid the most awful reverence, and nobles in humble silence admired; divested of all grandeur, sits morning on a bed of ashes; and instead of royal apparel was covered with offensive sores and ulcers. He, who but the other day was the delight of mankind, is now become the foulest of objects; and a very dunghill upon a dunghill. All keep at a frightful distance, and with horror behold him as a most loathsome monster. And to add, if it were possible, to the misery of Job, the wife of his bosom, from whom, more than from all the world beside, he might reasonably expect the most comfortable assistance, instead of pitying him in this deplorable condition, treats him with the utmost scorn and contempt, and reproaches him for his virtue. “Dost thou still, (said she) is retain thine integrity to a God that afflicts thee? Curse " him and die, that thou may'st be out of pain.”I Job
* Relations. See Job xix. 13, 14, 15, 16.
Pain. From the supposed ambiguity of the Hebrew word tha which is rendered both to bless and to curse, various interpretations have been given. Some suppose that this advice, “ Curse God and die,” implies that Job lived after the law was given, which law made it death to curse God, (Levit. xxiv. 15, 16.) and that his wife, knowing this law, recommended this method of terminating his sufferings, by provoking the immediate anger of God. But as the law is never mentioned throughout the book of Job, it is far more probable that he lived before it was given at Sinai. It is not however likely that the wife of