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greatness of the sufferer's grief. Had he done so, he would never have attempted to assuage it by theology.
In the 6th and 7th chapters we have Job's reply. He begins with upbraiding Eliphaz, and ends with upbraiding God. True, I have been passionate, but my passion is as nothing if compared to my grief, which is heavier than the sands of the sea. The poisoned arrows of the Almighty are rankling in my soul. You might have guessed what I was suffering when you heard my complaint. Not even a brute cries out without cause ; still less would a rational man. Your moralisings are insipid and disgusting to me.
You threaten me with death if I do not confess that I am guilty. Death is the very thing that I desire. I am not afraid to die, for I have never broken the commandments of the Holy One. Oh that God would crush me out and out, instead of preserving me for this lingering torture! I would dance for joy under any pain that might speedily end in death.
You promise me a happy future if I do confess. But there can be no future for me. It is too late to hope for restored health. I am not made of stone or brass. It is the part of friendship to show pity, otherwise the afflicted may be led into despair and atheism. My
brethren have deceived me. They are like a brook which in the winter-time, when it is not wanted, rolls along in a full, turbid stream ; but in the summer, when the parched and thirsty caravans are in need of water, it has dried up. If I had asked you to give me anything, to help me in any difficulty or danger, I should not have been surprised at your refusing. I never expected your friendship to be good for as much as that. But I only asked for pity, and even that you refuse. You tell me I have sinned, but you do not tell me how. As for the bitter language of my curse, any one who was not a monster of inhumanity would make allowance for the frenzy of despair. And what I said about my innocence was quite true. I can repeat it in all calmness. I would not lie to your face. Do you suppose I have lost all sense of the difference between right and wrong?
You have drawn a pretty picture of a divine Father; but it would have been truer to the facts if you had talked about a divine taskmaster. Man has a hard service to perform upon earth. As a slave pants for the shadow of night, which will release him from his work, so man pants for death, when his misery will end. As for me, I have been allotted days of vanity and nights of weariness. And there is no prospect of any compensation. For this life of ours is but a breath ; it has no sooner come than it has gone from us for ever. Man goes down to Hades, and returns never more. He vanishes like a cloud that is dissolved. He will never again see good.
O God, why dost Thou torture me thus ? Is it because Thou art afraid of me? Can such a poor, wornout wreck as I, be an object of terror, like an ocean or a sea that needs to be restrained? Let me alone. My days are but a vapour at the best. Why must I be harassed throughout my little span? Why shouldst Thou give Thyself so much trouble about such a pitiful creature as man? Is it worth Thy while to come inspecting me morning by morning, putting me to the proof moment by moment, scaring me with dreams, terrifying me with visions, making my life a burden too heavy to be borne ? Wilt Thou never take Thine eyes off me, Thou spy upon men ? Perhaps I HAVE sinned, but what harm have I done to Thee? If my sin is so distasteful to Thee, why couldst Thou not pardon it, and cause it to pass away? As for me, I must soon lay me down and mingle with the dust.
Job has no sooner ceased than Bildad comes forward “with a little store of maxims, preaching down the sufferer's heart." He makes no
apology for venturing to speak, but bluntly begins with a rebuke. How long will you continue to rage? Do you suppose God is unjust ? He would not have killed your children unless they had been grievous sinners.
To you an opportunity of repentance has been granted, inasmuch as He has spared your life. If you will but become again pure and upright, He will make you more prosperous than ever.
Mark me, I do not offer this as my own private opinion. I am but of yesterday, and know nothing. What I am teaching you has been handed down to us from antiquity, where all wisdom is to be found. The ancients tell us that a man who forgets God can no more prosper than a tree can live without water. They tell us that the hope of the wicked is doomed to disappointment, its foundation being as frail as a spider's web. They tell us that the wicked will perish like a plant growing in stony soil, which is soon destroyed, and leaves no trace of its existence behind. Such is the sinner's JOYFUL career.
But if you will turn to God, your mouth may even yet be filled with laughter.
In chapters ix. and x. Job speaks again. He points out that omnipotence is no proof of justice. He tries to show that God is, in actual fact, unjust; and he concludes by passionately expostulating with the Almighty.
You say God rewards the good. Well, I know He does ; at least He rewards those whom He chooses to consider good. But how is an innocent man to establish his innocence, if God refuses to acknowledge it ? He is an almighty Adversary. Look at His action in the world around us. He causes earthquakes, eclipses, and tempests out of mere capricious fury. And not content with devastating nature, He must now be crossing my path,—at least so it seems by the disasters that have been happening to me. He has seized upon my property and my children and my health, and I am powerless to resist Him. I cannot even say to Him, What doest Thou? I am so weak that I dare not complain. I can only supplicate my Adversary for mercy. If I ventured to call Him to account, and He were to appear in answer to my summons, I should have no hope that He would listen to me. He would but redouble my sufferings. He would take away my breath, so that I should be speechless. He would ask me ironically, “ Have you summoned me to a trial of strength ? If so, I am ready for you. Or is it a trial of right that you want? What can be the good of impeaching me?” I should be