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but the grace of God can effect this victory; and
therefore when a believer is left to himself, and to
his own powers, he can do nothing. Hence God is
sometimes pleased to leave a man to his own strength,
in order to teach him that this is perfect weakness,
and to lead him to a dependence upon him, "without
whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy." If we
obtain dominion over sin, it is because we are under
grace—not only under a dispensation of grace, but
under its immediate influence. The man Christ
Jesus alone was without sin. Job, like all others of
the children of Adam, was a sinner. But though he
betrayed his impatience in some instances, and uttered
not a few hasty and sinful words, yet his arguments
were, on the whole, right, in opposition to those made
use of by his friends; and God himself declared that
they had not spoken of Him the thing that was right,
as his servant Job had. But after the Lord himself
had condescended to argue with Job, and convinced
him of his ignorance and imbecility, the patriarch
was deeply humbled for his sin, as we find by his
own penitent confessions. "Behold (said he), I am
vile, what shall I answer thee? 1 will lay mine
hand upon my mouth. Once have I spoken, but 1
will not answer: yea, twice, but I will proceed no
further;—I have heard of thee by the hearing of
the ear; but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore
do I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes.''
On the whole, we see that his patience, his general
conduct, his penitence and his faith, notwithstanding
some failures and infirmities, evidence that he pos
THE DESIGN OF JOB S AFFLICTIONS. 57
sessed the character given him by God himself, at the opening of the book which contains his history, that he was a perfect and upright man. "The Lord said unto Satan, hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause."—Let us proceed to consider,
III. The design of God in permitting the afflictions of Job.
The term permitting is used, because the trials of this good man are represented as being inflicted, not by the immediate hand of God, but by the agency of Satan, under the divine permission and control. In illustrating the design of the Almighty in the afflictions of Job, I shall mention three things which the subject will warrant us to conclude that God had in view in these severe dispensations :—the confusion of Satan; the benefit of Job; and the display of one of His own gracious attributes.
1. By the trials and sufferings of Job, God designed to bring confusion upon Satan.
And was not this purpose conspicuously effected? The devil had accused Job as a hypocrite ;—he had affirmed, that if he were to be afflicted, he would curse God to his face ;—and that he would prove him to be a hypocrite, if God would suffer him to make the trial. The permission, for wise and holy purposes, was accordingly granted. "Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
patriarch Job, and see that their great adversary can in no respect, or in any degree, exceed his commission; and that he never can overcome those whose hope is in the Lord their God. He may desire "to sift them as wheat," as in the case of St. Peter; but their Lord will pray for them that their "faith fail not;" and thus will they be preserved in safety and security, "kept by the power of God."— "Though the house of Israel be sifted as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth."
2. Again, by these afflictions the God of grace intended the benefit of Job.
His heavenly Father purposed by these dispensations, to exercise and improve the graces of the suffering patriarch. "Men do not light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house." So, God does not act without having some end in view. He does not implant his grace in the heart, but with the purpose to call it into exercise. May it not be supposed that the God of all grace had endued Job with such eminent patience, that the common afflictions of life were not sufficient to manifest its power and effects? He therefore suffered Satan to exert an unusual degree of malignity against his servant, in order that his piety might be displayed, confirmed, and increased? Behold the sufferer, when coming out of the furnace of affliction, which seems to have been heated seven times hotter than usual. How is he purified! How bright does he shine when abasing himself in dust and ashes! How eminent does his piety appear, when God himself not only takes his part, but refuses forgiveness to his uncharitable friends, except through his intercession for them' But not only are the graces of Job increased and improved, but his happiness is likewise augmented In the midst of his deepest afflictions, he sometimes enjoyed a degree of happiness which no temporal prosperity can ever afford. He could say, " I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon 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 eves shall behold, and not another." He could look forward with hope and confidence, when he should enjoy everlasting life and felicity in communion with the Saviour. But at length Job was raised from that low estate into which he was permitted to fall, in the present world. Deliverance came in God's appointed time. His health was completely restored; he lived to the age of one hundred and forty years; and he possessed double the property he enjoyed previous to his calamities. He had twice the number of cattle that were in his possession when he lost them all by the violence of men, and the fire of God from heaven His children were likewise doubled. He had indeed the same number given him, as he had at the time when his ten children were destroyed by the whirlwind, which buried them in the ruins of the eldest brother's house. But the first ten were not lost like the cattle, they were still i„ a state of existence