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wise be deaf to such passionate entreaties. Perhaps, after all, he had been but worshipping a phantom of his own imagination ; or worse, perhaps the powerful Being, in whom he had believed as a loving God, was but a malignant fiend who took pleasure in insulting him—who had once made him glad only to increase hiş present anguish. But no ! when he remembers his past experience, there was something too real, too beautiful in it, to admit of this supposition. He will try and trust on. Perchance the old blessedness may return. And yet, and yet,—and so he goes through all transitions of despair and hope; “now praying and trusting; now utterly cast down; now quiet and submissive; now violent, and ready even to blaspheme; and at last rising suddenly to a height of rapture in which everything disappears in a beatific vision of God.”
To follow him in His spiritual experience will be for us a matter not merely of speculative interest, but of real practical value. Job was assailed by no fiercer doubts than may come to · us. At any time we may be overtaken by the most terrible calamity; and if not, unless we be very thoughtless, our spirits will sometimes be weighed down by an oppressive sense of the
mystery of existence. The waste and cruelty so apparent throughout nature; the deadly regularity of law, going on its relentless course in spite of the entreaties and groans of the myriads whom it tortures and prematurely slays; the necessity of believing, if we are to believe at all, not only without seeing, but even in opposition to what we seem to see; the consciousness that we have sought for God and found Him not, so that there is nothing for it but to say with Job, “Behold I go forward, but He is not there; and backward, but I cannot perceive Him: on the left hand, where He doth work, but I cannot behold Him; He hideth Himself on the right hand, that I cannot see Him;"_such feelings as these may at times weigh upon our spirits like a nightmare, and lead us to exclaim with the poet :
6. Who shall read us the riddle of life?
The perpetual triumph of wrong,
A victory for the strong ?
How are we fettered and caged,
Within our dark prison-house here !
We find everywhere sorrow and fear.
We look for the triumph of Good;
And from all the wide world around,
From the slaughter-house of the ground,
And yet are we bound to believe,
Because all our nature is so,-
For all his creatures below.
To the waste and ruin and pain;
Bound, though wrong triumph again and again,
The study of Job may help us. He who had fathomed to its deepest depth and its blackest darkness the abyss of despairing scepticism, attained eventually to the joy of joys, — the happiness of a calm and unwavering faith. And so, God helping us, may we.
THE Book of Job naturally divides itself into
seven parts. I. The prologue, contained in the first and second chapters, setting forth the early history and circumstances of the hero, and explaining how that terrible mental conflict arose which it is the chief business of the poem to portray. II. Job's curse, contained in the third chapter. III. A discussion, extending from the 4th to the 25th chapter, as to the connection between suffering and sin. This discussion, as we shall see, is not introduced for its own sake. It is no mere piece of intellectual gymnastic. Its purpose is to unfold and explain the struggle which is going on in the heart of Job. IV. Job's soliloquy in chapters 26-31. V. (Chapters 32-37 being an interpolation.) The discourse of Jehovah in chapters 38-41. VI. Job's final confession of faith, in the first six verses of the last chapter. VII. The epilogue in the remaining verses.
The prologue and the epilogue are but the setting of the poem, and they are written in prose—in order, as I imagine, that they may not be confused with the main action of the drama, which lies in the heart of Job. Many parts of the prologue are fully as dramatic, and imaginative, and poetical in spirit, as anything that follows. But had the poetical form been adopted, it would have interfered with the essential unity of the drama as conceived by the author. He intended it to describe the progress of a soul from darkness to light, from scepticism to faith. And to this purpose everything is subordinated.
We are introduced in the outset to a highly prosperous and a truly good man. He had property which, estimated at the present value of money, must have made him what we should call a millionaire. He had, we are told, seven sons and three daughters. Large families in those days were, as you know, peculiarly prized, and sons were thought more of than daughters. He was no less good than prosperous : he was a