« AnteriorContinuar »
“ find Him out: He is excellent in power, and in judgment, and in plenty of “justice : He will not afflict. Men do therefore fear Him : He respecteth not “any that are wise of heart.”*
'l'he consideration most frequently presented to us, and most continually dwelt upon in the Book of Job, is that of the immeasurable distance between the Creator and the creature-God's omnipotence, and onniscience-man's ignorance and littleness. How opposed are such views of God to those representations of the Deity, and of His familiar intercourse with man, given in the early Books of the Old Testament ! It is difficult to believe that the most enlightened of the Hebrew sages did not regard these ancient traditions as the mythi of their nation.
All diseases and temporary sufferings are the chastisements of God--the wicked are punished as long as they live. Eliphas and Elihu admit that afflictions occasionally befal the righteous, but 'contend that they are never of long duration. “He is chastened also with pain upon his bed, and the multitude of his bones with “strong pain.”+ Surely it is meet to be said unto God, I have borne chastise“ment, I will not offend any more.” I “Behold, God is mighty, and despiseth “not any: He is mighty in strength and wisdom. He preserveth not the life of “the wicked: but giveth right to the poor.”
God profiteth nothing by man's righteousness, and suffereth nothing from his iniquity. This opinion was also expressed by Eliphas-"Look unto the heavens, “and see; and behold the clouds which are higher than thou. If thou sinnest, “what doest thou against Him? or if thy transgressions be multiplied, what doest “thou unto Him? If thou be righteous, what givest thou Him? or what receiveth “He of thine hand? Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
1.”ll § II.-RELIGIOUS OPINIONS OF THE WRITER OF THE BOOK OF JOB. Job's adversaries formed many just conceptions of God and of His attributes, but they failed in their endeavours to explain the distribution of good and evil. The opinions of the author are found in the calm reflections of Job; in the Prologue and the Epilogue; and also in the answers which God is represented as giving to Job out of the whirlwind.
Representations of God. God is the Creator of man and of the universe; the breath of man's nostrils is the spirit of God. “ Thine hands have made me and fashioned me together round “about; yet thou dost destroy me. Remember, I beseech thee, that thou hast “made me as the clay; and wilt thou bring me into dust again ? Hast thou not “poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Thou hast clothed me with "skin and flesh, and hast fenced me with bones and sinews. Thou hast granted
me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.” All the “while my breath is in me, and the spirit of God is in my nostrils."**
The description of the creation is very similar to that given in the Book of the Proverbs—God laid the foundations of the earth and fastened the corner-stones upon nothing. The stars sang together and the sons of God—the angels shouted for joy on the day of creation. "Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of “ the earth ? declare, if thou hast understanding. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest ? or who hath stretched the line
upon it? Whereupon “ are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner-stone thereof; when “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy? Or who shut
the sea with doors, when it brake fouth, as if it had issued out of “the womb ? When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a
swaddling-band for it, and brake up for it my decreed place, and set bars and doors, and said, Hitherto shalt thou come, but no further: and here shall thy waves be stayed ?”tt.
Here, as in the writings of Solomon, the wisdom of God is personified. She dwells in a palace whose entrance is known to God only. She attended at the * Job, xxxvii. 23-24. # Ibid. xxxiii. 19.
2 lbid. xxxvi. 5 6. +4 Ibid. xxxviii, 4.11.
# Ibid. xxxiv. 31, ** Ibid, xxvii. 3.
|| Ibid. xxxv. 5-8.
| lbid. x. 8-12,
creation when God appointed the rain, the thunder, and the lightning. “Whence “ then cometh wisdom ? and where is the place of understanding ? Seeing it is “hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close from the fowls of the air. Destruc“ tion and death say, We have heard the fame thereof with our ears. God under“standeth the way thereof, and He knoweth the place thereof. For He looketh “ to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; to make
the weight “ for the winds; and He weigheth the waters by measure. When He made a “decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder: then did He see s' it, and declare it; He prepared it, yea, and searched it out.”*
Atlributes of God. God is omnipotent and omniscient; His existence is immutable and incomprehensible. Man can form but a very inadequate conception of His power." He “is wise in heart, and mighty in strength : who hath hardened himself against “ Him, and hath prospered? Which removeth the mountains, and they know not: “which overturneth them in His anger. Which shaketh the earth out of her
place, and the pillars thereof tremble. Which commandeth the sun, and it “riseth not; and sealeth up the stars. Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, “and treadeth upon the waves of the sea. Which maketh Arcturus, Orion, and “Pleiades, and the chambers of the south. Which doeth great things past finding “out; yea, and wonders without number.”+ Are thy days as the days of man?
are thy years as man's days.” I “Lo, these are parts of His ways; but how “ little a portion is heard of Him? but the thunder of His power who can under“ stand ?" S
In seasons of deep dejection and great bodily suffering Job charges God with injustice, and with the capricious exercise of His power, in continually favouring the wicked, and deserting the good. || For such expressions of impatience and distrust, Job is reproved by God. “ Wilt thou also disannul my judgments ? wilt " thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous ?”T
Such were not, however, Job's abiding convictions: we find him soon after reposing, with firm reliance, on the justice of God. “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 eyes shall behold, and not another; though my “ reins be consumed within me.
»** “Yet in my flesh,” while I yet live, "shall I “see God :" not as now will He manifest Himself to me as my consumer and destroyer, but as my preserver and redeemer.
Government and Providence of God. Job's opinions of the government and providence of God differ from those which are held by Eliphas and Elihu, and their two companions. He agrees with them in believing that all earthly events are under the especial guidance of the Almighty, and that all the vicissitudes of human life are to be attributed to the will of God, but he denies the position of his adversaries, that prosperity is to be regarded as the reward of virtue, and adversity as the punishment of vice. On the contrary, he contends that God dispenses good and evil, as He sees fit, according to His own good pleasure; and that, however incomprehensible His wayshowever inscrutable Elis purposes may be to man, the Divine government is regu. lated by infinite wisdom, and whatever God does is just and right. He, even in the hour of deep affliction, thus expresses his own confidence in the justice of God: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him.”tt
Job commends entire submission and resignation to the will of God, and the stedfast pursuit of virtue, even during the time of suffering and the season of adversity, as the highest wisdom. The passages which contain the opinions of the author respecting the providence Job, xxviii. 20-27.
# Ibid. ix. 4-10. Ibid. xxvi. 14; see the entire chapter; also xxxviii. snd xxxlx. || Ibid. ix. 11 24 ; xii. 6-9; xiii. 17.28; xxi. 5.26.
++ Ibid. xiii, 15,
# Ibid. x. 5.
Ibid. xl. 8.
** Ibid. xix. 25. 27.
of God are much too long for quotation. We must refer our readers to the Book of Job, particularly to the following chapters--vii., ix., X., xii., xxxviii., xxxix.
In the concluding chapter we find Job commended by God, and his opponents condemned. “My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends : for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.'
Spirits, subordinate to God, are introduced in the beginning of the poem. God is represented, according to the patriarchal manner, as a father who assembles His family around IIim, and enters into discussion with them. They are called “the sons of Elohim.” They stand before God to reccive His commands and do His pleasure. “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah.”+ Some of these spirits are well disposed towards mankind, while others regard the actions of men merely in order to note their evil deeds and report them to God. Again there was a day when the sons of God “came to present themselves before Jehovah, and Satan came also among them to “present himself before Jehovah. And Jehovah said unto Satan, From whence “comest thou ? And Satan answered Jehovah and said, From going to and fro in “the earth, and from walking up and down in it." I
This Satan, who appears among the sons of God in heaven, does not exactly correspond with the Satan believed in by the Jewish people at a later period, after their sojourn among the Chaldeans, and
after they had become acquainted with the Ahriman of Zoroaster's philosophy. The Satan here spoken of is probably that evil spirit or angel believed by the Hebrews to be employed by Jehovah as the messenger of evil; for before the exile they attributed both good and evil alike to God. It is the same evil spirit who came over Saul, s and who also went forth as a lying spirit to persuade Ahaz to go up to Ramoth-gilead.pl Satan has considerable power, which he holds in subjection to God.
He can afflict men with death, with severe bodily diseases, and all kinds of evils.
“ Jeho“vah said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none “like him in the carth, 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. And Satan answered Jehovah “and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But
put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse “ thee to thy face. And Jehovah said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand, but
save his life. So went Satan forth from the presence of Jehovah, and smote “ Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown."T
Freedom from sin, and obedience and submission to God are much insisted upon. Job is called the servant of God because "he was perfect and upright, a
man that feared God and eschewed evil." ** Sins are atoned by the sacrifices offered (not indeed by the priests, for among Nomadic tribes there was no priest), but by the father of the family. “And the sons went and feasted in their houses
every one his day; and sent and called for their three sisters to eat and to drink “ with them. And it was so, when the days of their feasting had gone about, that “ Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, it may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.” ti
* Job, xlii, 7.
Job, ii. 3-7; tea, also, the whole of chap. i.
++ lbid, i. 4.5; se, also, xlii. 7.8.
+ Ibid. i. 6.
# Ibid. ii. 1 2.
2.1 Sam. xvi. 14.
** lbid. i. 1 and 8.
LONDON; PUBLISHED BY M. Pattie, 31, PATERNOSTER ROW, AND GEORGE
GLAISHER, 470, New OXFORD STREET.
OUT OF THE CLOUD;
A TALE; BY P. W. P.
THE GREAT UNPAID AND POACHING. "Good WOMAN, you cannot go in, indeed you shall not go into the room until I have been to ask Mr. Lester to see you.
“But I can't bide here, I won't bide here. Oh, do let me go in to see the gentleman, and then I knows all will be right," * There, now,
about to make such dreadful noise. Mr. Lester will be sure to see you.
He is as good as his mother was, God rest her soul, and he'll do all you want; but you must.get a bit quieter before I can ask him to see you, or you won't be able to tell him
Is it so very dreadful? There now, don't cry so, but do sit down and get quieter.”
These words were followed by an outburst of wailing that sounded through the rectory passages, until it reached Lester and Ella, making them start from the chairs on which they were seated at the breakfast table. Ella immediately went forth to inquire into the cause, and found Jane busily employed vainly endeavouring to pacify a coarsely clad woman, who was standing up in the kitchen.
“Here, Miss Ella,” cried Jane, glad to see her approach,“ do come and speak to this woman. I can't do anything with it. All that I can find out is that she is in terrible trouble, and wants to see Master George.'
No," shrieked the woman, “I don't want to see him, or any Master George, I want to see the Rector. It's Mr. Lester I want. They say as he is good to poor-folk, and I haven't a friend to help me now. God help me if he won't. Let me see him, and he will save my husband. Oh, my poor husband !”
“Yes, my good woman, he will see you, and whatever it is right for him to do he will do ; but,” continued Ella, “ you must compose yourself before you go into his room. I am his sister, and perhaps, if you can manage to VOL. VI. NEW SERIES, VOL. II.
tell me yonr
troubles, I shall be able to help you to make him understand what you want. He will be pleased to help you, so shall I.”
No, no, no," cried the woman convulsively, “there is nobody but the Rector can do it. We never had a body to say kind words to us afore he came here, aud there's nobody but he that will dare tell the big-folk the truth. Oh, my poor Bill, my dear Bill; if Mr. Lester don't help us, they'll kill my poor husband atween 'em, I know they will.”
Having tried in vain to elicit from the woman some outline of her story, Ella informed Lester of the circumstance, and he rang for Jane to show the applicant into his study.
Without pausing to shut the door, the woman threw herself upon her knees, crying,
Oh, Sir, save my husband, do save my poor husband," and, incapable of saying more, she burst into a violent fit of grief. After this had somewhat subsided, Lester elicited from her that her husband, who, through illness, had been long unemployed, would shortly be placed before the magistrates upon a charge of poaching, or, at least, of being unlawfully in possession of a hare, which had been taken from him by the constable and gamekeeper.
Having advanced thus far, and believing himself to be in possession of all the leading facts of a poaching case, Lester began to lecture the woman upon the sin of stealing. He had frequently heard the poorer classes argue that, as hares ran wild, they could not be the property of one man more than another, consequently, that all should be equally privileged to kill, or compelled to abstain from killing. He had not studied the subject, neither did he understand the action of the game laws; although he had frequently been pained by the manner in which certain offenders had been dealt with, but, on the whole, he favoured the existing system-perhaps, merely because it was a system. As a rule, when speaking to the poor about poaching, he identified it with stealing, and denounced it accordingly. But now, when lecturing this poor woman, he was made to feel the necessity of modifying his style of language.
She, however, protested that her husband was not a thief, was not even a poacher, and that he came into possession of the hare in a perfectly innocent manner, which turned out to be a fact. On the preceding evening, returning from the Union Workhouse, to which he had gone in search of out-door relief, he saw a hare sitting by the roadside, and, prompted by the natural spirit of the hunter, he threw a stone, which laid the animal senseless; pouncing upon it before it recovered, he gave it a knock against a gate, tucked the dead beast beneath his smock-frock, and proceeded on his way, debating whether he should sell or eat it. There was much need of the latter, for he had been a long time upon the sick list. His cottage was situated near a boggy piece of land, and with that originated the ague-fevers from which he suffered. As the father of five children, he could not afford to be out of work, but the ague was more powerful than his poverty, and kept him so. He had been a sober, steady, industrious, man; and, when Lester had made inquiries among the neighbours, which he immediately proceeded to make, he found them unanimous in declaring that Walters was neither a liar nor a poacher, and that, if he said he had knocked the hare over in the road with a stone, they were sure that it must be true. But the constable and gamekeeper, who met him with it, were of quite a different opinion.
Having satisfied himself that the story told by the woman was substantially true, Lester resolved upon doing his best to procure the release of her