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Job.

V.

CHAPTERS XVIII.-XXI.

TX7E have now reached Bildad's second speech. He gives a graphic account of the punishment which overtakes the sinner, working in, with cruel ingenuity, some of the very calamities which had fallen upon Job.

How long will you continue to speak without having anything to say? What business have you to treat us as though we were unreasoning brutes? You talk of God rending you in His anger, but it is you who are rending yourself with your furious passion. What is the good of it? The divine laws are unalterable. Do you suppose they are going to be set aside that you may escape the punishment of your sins? The prosperity of

the wicked does not last. His ambitious schemes only end in ruin. He is taken in his own snares. His footsteps are dogged by alarms. Destruction lies in wait ready to devour him. Leprosy, the first-born of death, eats away his limbs. He is torn from his home and dragged before the King of Terrors. He is hunted out of the world and thrust into darkness. Strangers dwell in his tent. His children are destroyed by brimstone. He leaves no survivors behind him. His very name is forgotten in the land; or, if remembered, it will only be with horror and disgust. Such is the doom of him who knows not God.

Job in his next speech declares more emphatically than ever that his sufferings are not reconcilable with any known principle of divine government. He makes one final appeal to his listeners' pity—an appeal of heartrending pathos. But they offer no response. As they sit beside him in grim silence, he feels more keenly than ever his loneliness and misery. It was well that they did not respond; for only after their persistent cruelty had made him supremely conscious of the magnitude of his woe, did he gain a belief in the resurrection of the dead. He once dismissed the idea of a future life as a delusion. But now he sees it in a new light; it appears to him to be a necessary truth. He, sitting there on his ash-heap, rotting away in agony; his friends, whose lives had certainly not been better than his own, looking down upon him with self-complacency and contempt,—what possible justification, what conceivable explanation of this could there be, but the fact that there was another life, in which such inequalities would be corrected? So certain does he now feel in regard to the resurrection, that, before declaring his belief in it, he calls special attention to what he is about to say, implying that it is not the transitory feeling of the moment, but a profound and unalterable conviction.

How long will you rack my soul with your words? You have shamelessly overwhelmed me with reproaches. You have exhausted every form of insult. If I have sinned, you need not trouble yourselves, for you will not be answerable for it. But if you must meddle with me, let me tell you, I have Not sinned. I have not brought my misery on myself, like your "wicked man." I am not taken in my own snares. It is God who has flung His net about me; and in doing so, He has treated me wrongfully. I protest against the wrong, but I am not answered. I cry aloud, but I get no justice. He has blocked up my way so that I cannot pass. He has surrounded me with darkness. He has stripped me of my honour, and taken the crown from my head. All is over. Even of my hope He has bereft me. He is so enraged that He is sending forth His troops in battle array against me. He has made me such an object of loathing and contempt that my neighbours will have nothing to do with me. My kinsmen stand aloof from me. My acquaintance have forgotten me. My servants treat me as a stranger, and will neither obey my commands nor listen to my entreaties. I am become offensive even to my wife. The very children despise and ridicule me. My bosom friends abhor me. Those whom I loved are turned against me. All that I had has been taken away. I am reduced to the shadow of my former self. Have pity on

me, have pity on me, 0 ye my friends, for the hand of God hath smitten me! Are you not satisfied with what I am already suffering? Why must you join with God in persecuting me?

But stop. I see a great light. I should like what I am about to say to be written down, to be graven on the eternal rocks. I know that there lives for me an Avenger, and that He will by-andby stand over my grave, and pronounce my cause just. My body will be destroyed, but without it I shall see God. Yes, I myself shall see Him. Come, happy day! As for you,

if you persist in persecuting me, beware of the sword of my Avenger.

Zophar now speaks again. To a man like him there is no sin so heinous as that of heresy. Job had by this time clearly proved himself heterodox. He did not receive the accepted notions about suffering, and he was full of new-fangled ideas of his own—as, for example, his theory about a resurrection. And this archheretic had ventured to threaten him-—Zophar —with the divine disapproval. No wonder the foolish man was angry. And he thought, of course, that he did well to be angry. "His wrath was but the resentment of wounded pride, but he mistook it for the inspiration of religious zeal." The wicked man whom he now describes, in whose portrait he intends that Job should see himself, is no ordinary sinner, but a very monster of iniquity. The penalties attached to such extravagant wickedness Zophar proceeds to enumerate, in language the coarseness of which I shall be obliged to do him the injustice of somewhat toning down. He begins in a confused sort of way. He feels he must say something, but he hardly knows what.

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