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also sure that he should have endured them with patience. Other people's troubles are so easily borne. They begin by hinting vaguely that he must have been guilty of some heinous crime, and they exhort him to repentance, in order that he may be forgiven and restored to his former prosperity. But afterwards, when he has indignantly denied their accusations, and in the bitterness of his spirit accused God of injustice, they no longer content themselves with hints, but make definite charges against him, anything serving their purpose that happens to suggest itself in the excitement of the moment. His anger cools as theirs gets hotter. At first, when their insinuations were vague, he was half afraid lest they might be right; but afterwards, their accusations lose all force by their very definiteness, and he becomes quite sure that they must be wrong. He no longer troubles himself about them. They have put themselves beyond the pale of controversy. Though at first they angered him, they have on the whole been leading him to the attainment of peace. Eliphaz by his misinterpreted visions, Bildad by his misapplied quotations, Zophar by his self-complacent stupidity, have been driving him nearer to God. The want of human sympathy has been helping him, as it has helped many desolate hearts since, to believe that God, though more just than man, is at the same time infinitely more merciful. As Faber has beautifully expressed it:
“There is no place where earth's sorrows
But we make His love too narrow
And we magnify His strictness
For the love of God is broader
And the Heart of the Eternal
I HAVE already given you a general idea of the discussion which extends from the 4th to the 25th chapters of the Book of Job. We must now look at this discussion a little more in detail. It is opened by Eliphaz. He acknowledges Job's previous piety, but at the same time suggests to him that suffering can only result from sin. He then exhorts him to repent, and to become pious again, assuring him on these terms of a brilliant future. He begins apologetically— My conscience compels me to say something to gyou. Might I venture to speak without your being vexed £ How is it that you, who have so often comforted the distressed, are dismayed as soon as calamity comes upon yourself. Instead of despairing, you should remember that the innocent never perish. It is only the wicked who are consumed.
You need not be ashamed to own your sin, for all of us are sinners. This was revealed to me once in a vision. In the darkness of the night, when deep sleep falls upon men, a fear came upon me and trembling, a wind swept over my face, and there stood before me a Presence, whose form I could not discern. It spoke in a clear, soft voice, and asked, "Shall a mortal man, who is sooner crushed than the moth, be pure in the sight of God his Maker, who chargeth even the angels with folly? It cannot be." Ask any of the holy ones themselves, and they will confirm my doctrine.
I have watched the wicked, and always found it ill with them. Their property is enjoyed by robbers. Their children ruin themselves with lawsuits. They themselves prematurely pass away. But this suffering is no accident; it is the punishment of sin. And since all men are sinners, suffering must come more or less to all. Man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward. Your grief is but an extreme illustration of the common rule. Were I in your place, I would have recourse to God. Forgiveness and happiness may seem more than you can hope for; but God is always doing great things past finding out. He is continually exalting those that are cast down. Happy is the man whom God correcteth. Despise not His chastening. It is for your good. Its purpose is to make you reflect. God only bruises in order tlvat He may heal. Return to Him, and your prosperity will be restored—nay, increased. In famine He will sustain you. In war He will protect you. You will laugh at all forms of danger. Wild beasts will never hurt you. Even the stones of the field will be in league with you, and, instead of obstructing your crops, will give them a more luxuriant growth. Your children will be multiplied as the very grass of the land. You shall go down to the tomb in a ripe old age, like a shock of corn fully ripe. This, Job, is my experience. Hear it, and learn it for your good.
Such is the gist of the speech of Eliphaz, as contained in the 4th and 5th chapters. If he must preach rather than sympathise, he could not well have preached a better sermon. The harshness of the insinuation that Job's affliction was a judgment, he delicately tempered by the suggestion that suffering was common to man, and by the comforting assurance of a happy future for Job if he would but repent. Still it was evident that he had not realised the