Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

6

you account for the second metaphor ? or why is he said to • be without the sun,' who suffers under trouble or affliction in this life? In this manner Job himself complains : « The days of affliction prevented me, I went mourning without the sun :' xxx. 28. The same figure is applied in like manner by the prophet Amos; •Seek him—that turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: v. 8. And again : ‘I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day, and I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation :' viii. 9. So the prophet Joel : The day of the Lord cometha day of darkness and of gloominess.' • The sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining :' Joel ii. 1. 2. 10. And the prophet Isaiah : “ The stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light; the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evils, and the wicked for their iniquity :' Isa. xiii. 10. 11. But this is not a very material point, and therefore I need not enlarge on it.

As to the origin of the general corruption and depravity of mankind, this ancient author seems to suppose that all men are corrupt by descent and inheritance : 'what is man that is born of a woman that he should be righteous ?' Job xv. 14. The same question is asked again Job xxv.

In both these places there may be some reason perhaps to think that uncleanness is charged on man comparatively only, and with respect to the transcendent purity of God; which is a very different thing from the uncleanness derived from the fall. But there is another passage

which will not admit of this construction : in chapter xiv. Job represents the miserable condition of man: • Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble ; he cometh forth like a flower and is cut down; he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not.' On this representation he expostulates his case with God : Dost thou open thine eyes on such an one, and bringest me into judgment with thee? Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ? These last words plainly refer to the first, and show the ground of the

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

other expostulations : What is man that he should be clean ? and he that is born of a woman that he should be righteous ?' For in this fourteenth chapter the question is not, whether man is pure compared to God, but whether he has purity enough left in his present state to make him a fit object of judgment. This seems to be the sense of Job's expostulation : Why art thou extreme to mark all my errors ? Is it reasonable to expect purity of a man born of a woman, who is by the very condition of his birth unclean ?” I shall be easily persuaded that Job had not entered into all the niceties relating to this point, but I shall not easily believe that he charged God foolishly, by imputing uncleanness to the works of his creation. For tell me on what ground this expostulation stands, how shall man be clean that is born of a woman ? Why not clean ? Did God make woman

or man unclean at the beginning ? If he did, the expostulation would have been more apposite and much stronger, had the true cause been assigned, and Job had said, How canst thou expect cleanness in man, whom thou createdst unclean ?" But as the case now stands, the expostulation has a plain reference to the introduction of vanity and corruption by the sin of the woman, and is an evidence that this ancient writer was sensible of the evil consequences of the fall on the whole race of man. Moses tells us, · Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image ;' and St. Paul, “that we have borne the image of the earthy.' The notion is the same as expressed by Job, 'can a clean thing come out of an unclean ?

There is still a very material question behind ; namely, what hope or expectation had this ancient writer of a deliverance from the evil and corruption which prevailed over the whole race of man.

In answer to this question, I observe, in the first place, that the argument of this whole book supposes man to be accountable to his Maker for the good or evil of his actions. This point is not disputed between Job and his friends; they differ widely sometimes in their notions of God's method of justice towards men ; but it is an allowed principle on all sides, that God is man's judge as well as his Maker. Secondly, that the wicked often prosper in this world, down in

6

6

6

and go

peace to

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

the grave, is a proposition maintained by Job in many places, but particularly and fully in chapter xxi. Let us see then whether his conclusion be agreeable to these premises.

In the fourteenth chapter Job pleads his cause with God, reminding him of the infirm state and condition of man : “he cometh up as a flower, and is cut down. He giveth up the ghost, and where is he ? He lieth down, and riseth not till the beavens be no more. The question here asked, where is '

' þe?' may import that Job did not suppose death to be the final destruction of man. A like passage we find chap. xvii. 'I have said to corruption, thou art my father; to the worm, thou art

my mother and my sister. And where is now my hope ? As for my hope wbo shall see it? Not the men of this generation, for they shall go down to the bars of the pit, when our rest together is in the dust.' But such questions do sometimes amount to negatives. Where is he? No where. What is my hope ? Nothing. Their determinate sense therefore must be collected from the context. When a man gives up the ghost, where is he? The meaning of which question is explained in the following words, for man lieth down, and

o riseth not till the heavens be no more.' Where is he then, or what is he, in the intermediate space? You may reply perhaps, that this expression, ‘ till the heavens be no more,' may very well signify that man shall never rise more ; and to show the contrary, it ought at least to be proved that Job had a notion that the heavens should one day be destroyed, and that new heavens and a new earth should succeed. But if this expression be doubtful in itself, yet it is reasonable to expound it to the sense which ancient tradition best supports. And this we certainly know from writers both sacred and profane, that it was a very old opinion that the present frame of nature should be one day dissolved, and be succeeded by a renovation of all things, by new heavens and a new earth. And therefore Vatablus, a very learned and judicious commentator, makes no doubt of referring this passage to Job's expectation of a resurrection in the day of God's visitation. This exposition is supported by another famous passage, made familiar to us by being a part of our burial office : • I know that

my

Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day on the earth;

6

[ocr errors]

and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my fesh shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another, though my reins be consumed within nie:' xix. 25. &c. Many worthy and learned men have understood this place of a temporal deliverance expected by Job. The late pious and worthy bishop of Ely, Dr. Patrick, particularly, has followed this sense in his Paraphrase on the Book of Job. What he says on the 26th verse will show his meaning perfectly, and therefore I need transcribe no more ; his paraphrase is this; " and though the worms which have eaten my skin, should proceed to consume the rest of this wretched body, yet I feel my soul inspired with a comfortable belief, that before I die I shall see myself restored by the mercy of God to a happy estate.' Job's condition indeed was such that the description in the text (though after my skin worms destroy this body ') will suit his case exactly, and we cannot necessarily collect, from the expression only, that he thought of the corruption of the grave. The other expression (in my flesh shall I see God') may likewise signify his seeing God before he put off his flesh, that is, before he died. And there is still another reason, which has often weighed with me on the side of this exposition, which is this; that if we expound this passage in Job of a future resurrection, it contains a degree of knowlege in this great mystery beyond the proportion of light communicated to the age in which he lived. Moses has no such express promise or prophecy, nor is there any evidence that the Jewish church for many ages had such knowlege. It is the peculiar character of our Saviour, that he brought life and iminortality to light through the gospel;' and yet what do we know from the gospel more than is contained in this passage, if it is indeed a description of a future resurrection, to be brought to light by a Redeemer, “who shall stand on the earth at the latter day? These reasons, I imagine, inclined the Jewish interpreters to confine the sense of this passage to a temporal deliverance only. For should they admit a future resurrection to be here intended, how would it consist with the preference they give to themselves, above all other nations, in the knowlege of religion ? Can they easily be persuaded, do you think, that Job, who was an alien from the commonwealth

[ocr errors]

6

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

of Israel, had a clearer and more distinct knowlege of this great mystery than God thought fit to reveal to the Jewish church? Besides, this description in the book of Job, admitting that it relates at all to a future resurrection, is so consonant to the doctrine of the gospel, and is indeed so strong a prophecy of the office and character of Christ Jesus, that it is no more to be expected of a Jew that he should see and acknowlege this sense of the passage, than that he should subscribe to the interpretation of other ancient prophecies, in the sense in which they are applied in the New Testament. It is strange to me to observe what stress the very learned Grotius lays on the consent of the Jewish interpreters in this case : "they are,” says he, “in

" quisitive after every thing that may with any appearance be applied to the resurrection, but this passage of Job they never so apply.” And reason good; the Jews without doubt would be glad to find in their own law whatever appears to them to be excellent in the gospel, that they may show the little need there was for the gospel revelation. But would they be equally glad to find clearer knowlege of divine truth among the ancient Arabians than among the descendants of Abraham ? or to see a plain prophetical description of the grand article of the gospel, even before the giving of their own law ?

The same learned person has another objection against those who interpret this passage of a resurrection. He thinks, with

a others to whom he refers, that they all depart from the original Hebrew (coacti sunt in versionibus suis multum ab Hebræo discedere.) It is happy that this learned hand has given us what he judges to be the true sense of the passage ; for it shows thạt no just interpretation or translation can be given of these words, which will exclude the notion of a resurrection. Grotius's own sense, expressed according to the original, is so far from shutting out of this notion, that it can hardly be made to agree with any thing else.* For what do those words mean,

a

• Hebræa sic sonant: Scio ego Redemptorem meum vivere, et illum postremo staturum in campo. Etiamsi non pellem tantum meam, sed et hoc (nempe arvinam quæ sub pelle est) consumerent (morbi scilicet) in carne tamen mea Deum videbo (i. e. propitium experiar.) Ego, inquam, hisce meis oculis. Ego, non autem alius

« PoprzedniaDalej »