« AnteriorContinuar »
lowest idea of victory, and signifies little more than not being routed. And was this a fit image to represent the all-victorious power of the Almighty? Does it not convey to the mind the notion of a great struggle for victory, of great difficulties in obtaining the conquest ? And is such a notion agreeable to the book of Job, which seems to be written on purpose to shew that God has no rival in power ?
But let us see what light may be had by considering the passage itself, and the sentiments upon which it is formed.
It is apparent that Job founds his hopes, whatever they were, on the power of his Redeemer; and therefore we may expect to find, in what is said of him, plain marks and characters of power : I know that my Redeemer liveth. This is a just reflection, and proper to the case. And if you consider these words as spoken by a man, in his own opinion ready to expire under grief of mind and pain of body, they ne. cessarily imply an hope extending itself beyond the grave. His thought is this: I am dying, but I know my Redeemer shall never die; and therefore I will ftill trust in him for deliverance. : But where is the sense or comfort of this, upon the suppofition that nothing can be done to help us after death?
And that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. (Veahharon hal haphar jakoum.) This circumstance surely is not infignificant ; and yet what does barely standing on the earth import? Is it any mark of power or dignity to stand on the earth, on which so many thousand weak and miserable things ftand every day? The original words therefore (supposing haphar to mean the earth) should, I conceive, be ren
dered to this sense; and that he Mall at the latter day arise with power over the earth. The fame ex. pression, and in the same sense, is used 2 Chron. xxi. 4. When Jehoram was risen (va-jakom hal) up to the kingdom, i. e. to rule and govern it as a king. Many other instances might be given of this manner of speaking, which will easily occur to those who inquire after them. See Noldius in voce (hal) pag. 688. In this sense Job affirms that his Redeemer should stand on the earth, as a king stands over his kingdom, to govern it, and to do justice and judgment. This confideration, to an innocent man, suffering undeservedly, was a great comfort ; and a proper character it is of the Redeemer, on whose power Job's hope entirely depended.
But commodious as this sense is, there is this objection to it; that haphar rarely, if ever, signifies the earth in that sense in which it must be here taken: haphar may be, and is translated earth, when earth is equivalent to duft. For instance, it is indifferent whether we say, Man shall return to the earth again, or man shall return to the dust again, from whence he was taken. In this therefore, and in like cases, you will find haphar rendered by yñ, terra, earth, by Greek, Latin, and English translators. But when the earth is spoken of as the habitable world, as the place which God made for man, or as the place subject to God's power and dominion, it is not styled haphar. And yet if you take haphar in the proper sense, as it signifies duft, the image that arises is quite improper to the turn of thought in this place. To stand on the duft, to be founded on the duft, are expressions fignifying a weak and tottering condition. To fit on the duft, and lie in the dust, are phrases descriptive of a state of misery and distress. Job therefore, who is contemplating the power and might of his Redeemer, could not say, that at the latter day he should fand on the duft; which would, according to the idiom of his country, be saying, he should be weak, and like an house built on the sand, ready to fall. But,
There is another use of the word haphar frequently to be met with, and which will suit all the circumstances of this place. We read in Genesis, that man was formed of the duft (haphar) of the ground. And in the book of Job we read, xxxiv. 15. All flesh fall perish together, and man fhall turn again unto (HAPHAR) duft. From these, and many other passages, it appears, that haphar is the proper word to signify the dust, out of which man was made, and into which all dead bodies are ultimately resolved. Consider now what Job's hope is, Though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I fee God: he puts the case of his being utterly destroyed, and his body reduced to dust and ashes, and yet his confidence is, that he should in his flesh fee God : and if you take the reason he gives for his hope, as it will come out upon this sense of the word, you will find a propriety and juftness in the whole passage. As for myself, says he, I am wasting away, and this body shall soon return to dust again ; but my Redeemer will abide for ever, and I know that he will at the latter day arile with power over (this) duft, and in my flesh I shall see God. You see how the parts agree. Job, though sensible that he should soon return to dust, yet trusted in God, knowing that
he could as easily restore him from dust, as he at first made him and all men out of the dust of the ground. . There is a circumstance belonging to this passage, and which ought to be considered with it, to which Grotius has said nothing, and which can hardly be reconciled with the opinion, that Job expected no more than a temporal deliverance. The case is this: Job, being tired with the opposition of his friends, and the perverse construction they made of his milfortunes, as if he must needs be as wicked as he was miserable, appeals from them to another judgment. Oh, says he, that niy 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 fall fand at the latter day upon the earth. You see how strongly Job insists upon his plea; though men would not receive it, yet he wishes it were graven in the rock for ever; that it might remain till the time in which God would come to judge his cause ; for I know, says he, that my Redeemer liveth. Suppose Job to expect a future time of judgment, the whole passage is exceeding beautiful and proper. “ I find,” says he, “ that my complaint is dif“ regarded here ; that man has no compassion for ~ me; and that God in his unsearchable wisdom “ suffers the innocent, as well as the guilty, to be “ unfortunate in this life : but the time will come “ when my plea shall be heard ; and so satisfied am “ I in the righteousness of it, that I would have it .“ remain as my monument for ever, graven in the “ rock; for though I myself thall soon be gone, yet o my Redeemer lives, and will at the last day call “ me from the grave, and with my own eyes shall I “ see God my Saviour.” But if you suppose Job to expect only a temporal restitution, within the compass of his own life, to what end or purpose does he fo passionately with to have his complaints rendered immortal ? What sense is there in saying, “ Oh rs that my complaint, which you defpise, may never « be forgotten; for I know that within a little time I “ shall be restored by God to all my glory and for« mer felicity, and shall have no cause to complain “ any more.” In one view, the images are lively and passionate, and the sentiments just and proper : in the other there is neither force, nor vigour, nor pro. priety; nor, indeed, hardly any sense.
As to the degree of light and knowledge contained in this paffage, and which seems disproportionate to the age of Job, there is this to be faid: there might possibly be among the few faithful in the world a traditionary expofition of the promifes of God, grounded upon more express revelations, made either before or soon after the flood, than have come down to our times ; or, as Job was tried in a very extraordinary manner, he might have as extraordinary a degree of light to support and maintain him in the conflict. There is nothing in either of these suppofitions but what is conformable to the methods of divine Providence; nothing that intrenches upon our blefled Lord's office, who was appointed to bring life and immortality to light through the Gospel. It is by Christ, and by him alone, that we have God's covenant of immortality conveyed to us; but yet the ancient prophets had a fight of the blessing at a dif