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1. Mr. NEWMAN refers to one subject on which I will touch, as I think it will be generally useful. He objects to mediation as mischievous. Having never had any just conviction of sin, he does not feel the need of it. No one who has for himself felt what sin and grace are can hesitate a moment as to the value of it. Let the reader consult Job 9, and he may see the working of a true yet vexed soul under God's hand. It is all well talking of awe and reverence, &c., and love, as Mr. N. does: but the denial of the need of a mediator is the denial of a holy judge, and our sense of God's being so. But it is important to have a cleat apprehension of the nature and work of the Mediator.
Mr. N.'s objection to it is this: that all moral profit arises from being brought into the presence of God, and that the notion of a mediator is a hindrance to this. Now this is plausible, because moral profit does arise from being brought into the presence of God; but it is altogether a fallacy. For our sense of the need of a mediator arises from the effect of our being brought into the presence of God; or (what is morally the same thing) so true an estimate of what God is, as makes us feel the impossibility of our standing before Him.
In the passage I have referred to in job, this is evidently seen, whatever temper he met it in. He could not answer God "one of a thousand." If he called himself "perfect," his own mouth would condemn him. If he would "leave off his heaviness and comfort himself," God would not hold him innocent. If he should "wash himself with snow water, and make his hands never so clean, God would plunge him into the ditch." And he adds, "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, who should lay his hand upon us both." Now I am not commenting here upon the spirit in which Job takes the matter up, for it was a wrong one: I adduce it to show that the sense of the need of a mediator arises from the conviction of sin, and does not hinder it.
This doctrine is sometimes used in a way calculated to give a false idea of God-not precisely as to the effect of the presence of God upon the conscience, but as hiding divine love. The effect, as I have already said, of that presence is to present God as simply a Judge, and very often, while this thought of God remains unchanged in the mind, Christ is, on the other hand, looked at as One in whose love we can confide. But scripture is not answerable for this. God is a Judge; but Christ is never presented as an Intercessor with a Judge.
The scriptural doctrine of a mediator is quite different from this. It not only leaves the full effect of God as light upon the soul, but brings it down close to the moral eye; and does it in the way of love, that we should be able to walk in that light. Christ is God manifest in the flesh. But while He is the light itself, this manifestation is love.
See how John puts this point: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled of the Word of life (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us).... This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth." Here we have no hindering the full discovery of God to the soul: it is that discovery, "The darkness is past, and the true light now shineth." "The life was the light of men. That was the true light which lighteth [shineth upon] every man." And, it did tell upon men's consciences, the presence of that living Word; and, if sin was confessed, attracted in grace; if sought to be hidden, it vexed, irritated, and alarmed; humble and unassuming as was the garb in which grace, for love's sake towards men, had clothed the light. So it is with the truth. It is indeed grace in testimony; but it reaches the conscience, and judges all men by the revelation of God Himself.
What could have brought light and love (and morally speaking that is God) so near to man as the incarnation? It was in the way of reconciling, not imputing trespasses; but this was to engage man, away from sin (if that had been possible), by coming in grace and goodness towards himself. Mediation is, in this respect, the revelation of God Himself close to us, bearing directly on the conscience and heart of man; and so is the word of the gospel now.
But there is yet more in Christianity, that we might be fully brought into the presence of God.
Christ is not merely God manifested to us down here, He has suffered in our place, the Just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God. Looking at God as righteousness, as having "purer eyes than to behold iniquity" (and surely this does not hinder the effect of His presence as regards conscience), the just sense of sin would make us feel that we could not come into His presence, nor appear, defiled as we are, before His holy majesty. There is no just sense of sin, no real effect of His presence on the conscience, till this is felt-no proper jealousy of right and wrong, till we estimate it thus, and bring God and ourselves together in thought, so as to produce it-ourselves, who owe everything to Him. But we could not. He ought not, in justice, to allow such in His presence. But Christ gives Himself for these sins; and, putting them away, appears in the presence of God in the efficacy and in virtue of that work.
I go into the presence of God with His full character maintained in holiness and love. He is more glorified as to both of these in what has been done by Jesus about sin, than if there had been no sin at all; and it is Jesus' glory in every way to have done it. I now appear, in virtue of (yea, being) this divine righteousness, in God's own presence, through infinite love and righteousness, which I thus know, and never should have known else; for it is not mere human righteousness. God is known as He is in glory, which Christ alone could meet in face, so to speak; and I am there with the full light of it upon me, without fear, because in virtue of the redemption in which that glory has been morally displayed and satisfied, and that as to and about sin itself now put away for me, and I appearing as made the righteousness of God in Him. My being there is that righteousness; it is the righteous answer to, and fruit of, the travail of Christ's soul; and what that was, He alone can tell who knows what wrath is to Him who dwelt in the unity of love-what sin is to Him who was in the unity of the divine holiness. I am in the presence of God in a righteousness adequate for His glory-and it is according to that glory that I judge sin now-a righteousness, as wrought out in Christ, competent to take righteously its seat at the right hand of the Majesty on high; for, God being glorified in it, God's glory was its just reward: and this in the fullest sense connected with the person of Him who accomplished it.
Now I find my place in God's presence in virtue of this. I sit down in heavenly places. Not where the personal accomplishment places Him who accomplished it, as a just reward; but, morally, as fully in the presence of God. Yet, in fact, I am a poor, feeble, erring creature; rising above sin in a heavenly way in mind, through the Spirit, but, alas! by virtue even of that which I see, seeing the wretched inadequacy of all my steps down here. There is always feebleness, often failures. Here mediation comes in again-not to obtain righteousness, but to maintain a feeble, failing creature in the enjoyment of the place where our being made righteousness in Him places us. It is the reconciling the state in which I actually am with the position in which that has set me. It is the only thing which can maintain a poor, feeble creature experimentally up to the height of that divine presence. To pretend to be there in the condition in which we actually are, would be mere madness, and prove we had never known it. We should even, as men, rather fall at His feet as dead. Yet if not, we must lose the full power of that presence to judge evil and good by, to know love by, to estimate the glorious counsels of God by. But Christ appears in the presence of God for us. His blood is on the mercy-seat. He is there in virtue of this blood-shedding, which places me there. I can abide there in peace to learn it all.
Am I to ignore, then, my feebleness and failing? No, I judge what I am by what I see of this glory, which is mine; and my feebleness and failure become the occasion of the exercise of grace, which does not lower God to the level of my failures, but which meets in the way of mercy the wants they prove to be in me, and lift me up out of them. We have a High Priest touched with the feeling of our infirmities, who was in all points tempted like as we are, without sin; so that we come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hence, in this also, mediation maintains for us the full display of God to ourselves, and alone can do so, and in the way of faith and grace, so as to be morally elevating while judging all inconsistent with itself. If Mr. N. thinks he could stand in the presence of God's majesty as he is and what he is, and compare himself with it, he knows neither himself nor God. Divine righteousness sets me there according to God; constant mediation obtains all the grace I need in the actual state I am in, and maintains me (without hiding my actual worthlessness from myself) in the full enjoyment of divine favor as known there,-restores me if need be,-maintains a just, practically holy, intercourse with that glory. Who has not this has none. Hence it is said, "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (that never alters) "and he is the propitiation for our sins."
The first part of Christ's mediation is the revelation of Christ to man here, so that he might be directly in His presence. The second part is when righteousness has given man a place in God's presence in glory, and made him know it, and placed him in it through redemption, maintaining the intercourse of a feeble, failing creature with God in love, in the place where righteousness has set him; that is, in the presence of God fully revealed, as Christ the righteous Son is there-keeping us, on the one hand, in the sense of that glory unobscured, and, on the other, the true and sweet sense of a weakness which is the occasion of constant and unfailing mercy, which is working in it to bring us up to the actual enjoyment of such glory as that righteousness is entitled to. Such are God's wondrous, perfect, and gracious ways with us, which alone reconcile divine perfection and human weakness, and find in -the latter, and even in its sin, the occasion of the display of the former in its highest glory, His ways in Jesus Emmanuel, to whom-Lamb of God, who takes away sin- belongs all glory forever and ever, the joy and crown of those who trust in Him, the everlasting delight of God the Father.
May he whom I now answer know how sovereign is God's goodness-how great the grace in Christ-by finding all his attacks and blasphemies against it forgiven through the very grace which he has attacked and despised!
2. I pass by a multitude of passages I had marked as sheaving the excessive looseness of argument indulged in by Mr. N., and the marvelous absence of all spiritual apprehensions. Thus, as to this last point, he speaks of his old belief as depending on the interpretation of "the old scriptures," and of establishing "how much of the biography of Jesus in the new is credible. To judge wrongly about it may prove one to be a bad critic, but not a less good and less pious man." (Phases, p. 203.) That is, the credibility of Jesus's history is absolutely devoid of any moral element whatever. " In point of fact, I never did look much to futurity, nor even, in prospect of death, could attain to any vivid anticipations or desires, much less was troubled with fears." (Phases, p. 203.) Neither death nor Jesus could awaken a moral element of any kind in his mind, nor had the Lord's coming more effect, save to trouble his conscience; but none in the affections of his soul. It "awoke only now and then to reproach and harass me for my unfaithfulness to it." (Phases, p. 204.) What an expression of incapacity to receive a spiritual idea above the level of his own mind! "If I am not [to criticize Jesus by the received laws of human morality], then I have no ground for praising or admiring Him!" (Phases, p. 210.) What a denial of any capacity in the human soul to receive a thought of excellency beyond its present acquirements and apprehensions, any above itself as it is! My delight is to have some new excellency, which, as far as I know it, the human measure has never yet reached. But I leave all this, and the "clearlys" and "therefores," of which there is no proof, to touch on one subject, which, as a scripture one is important, and which will afford me an opportunity of referring more fully than I have done to one of the most interesting and important in its place of all the books of scripture.
"The old Hebrews," says Mr. N. (Phases, p. 189), "believed only in evil spirits sent by God to do His bidding, and had no idea of a rebellious spirit that rivaled God. That idea was first imbibed in the Babylonish captivity, and apparently therefore must have been adopted from the Persian `Ahriman,' or from the `Melek Taous,' the `Sheitan' still honored by the Yezidi with mysterious fear. That the serpent in the early part of Genesis denoted the same Satan is probable enough: but this only goes to show that that narrative is a legend imported from further East; since it is certain that the subsequent Hebrew literature has no trace of such an Ahriman."
This is a curious passage, in point of argument, singular in its logic, but more singular still in showing how a theory forced into one's service to get rid of truth fades away, in spite of the effort, before the truth it seeks to get rid of. First, reader, you have it all clearly settled, "that idea was first imbibed in the Babylonish captivity." Now if you believe this (though why we should we are not told. However, Mr. N. says so; and it is not certainly second hand faith with him: he believes it on his own authority), we may indeed be "peculiarly vexed to find so total a deficiency of clear and sound instruction on so vital a question" as "why we are to believe it;" as if one "were solely anxious to have people believe without caring on what ground they believe, although that is obviously the main point." But if you do believe this, then you have a singularly nicely graduated logical progression: it was first imbibed then, and "apparently therefore" "must have been"-so that now it cannot be otherwise than "adopted from the Persian Ahriman." So that now we have indeed got "further East."-from the Hebrews to Babylon; and, since it certainly was imbibed in the captivity, it must have been from Persia. Well, I thought we had here got far East somewhat rapidly. But the reason puzzles me.
Mr. Ν. admits that the serpent in Genesis denoted the same Satan. But, then, why travel so far East for it? We have it in the first literature of the Hebrews-why is its being in the ante-Babylonish period a proof that it came from the farther East? Why might not Abraham have brought the same doctrine with him from Ur of Mesopotamia, if it was lost afterward, or found it in Canaan? For, after all, Mr. N.'s account is, that we have it in the earliest writings of the Hebrews, but not in the subsequent ones-a very curious reason indeed for its being first imbibed in the Babylonish captivity. This is what is called "modern logic." But then other difficulties arise. The Pentateuch, in which this history occurs, was first completed and published, as Mr. Ν. assures us, in the reign of Josiah, when it was pretended the book of the law was found. Now this was about a century before the captivity; but it is there the serpent, Satan, is found. Why it should then be imported from the further East, or be first imbibed in the captivity, one is at a loss to tell. If we are to believe De Wette, as we have seen, it was certainly taught two hundred years before the captivity-at least two hundred years; for he says, the Pentateuch, as we have it, is quoted at that period (that is, by the earliest prophets whose writings we possess).
But if we abide by Mr. N.'s theory, "our logic" is in still greater embarrassment. The reason that its being in Genesis shows that it is a legend imported from further East is, that the subsequent Hebrew literature has no trace of such an Ahriman. Now if the Pentateuch was first published in Josiah's reign, there was no subsequent Hebrew literature previous to the captivity, save at the utmost a small part of Jeremiah. All Hezekiah's prophets preceded the Pentateuch, as of course those of "the century preceding his reign;" and then, in what is subsequent Hebrew literature, Satan is certainly found. Thus Zechariah and Chronicles use the term unequivocally. Why then does Mr. Ν. say that "subsequent Hebrew literature has no trace of such an Ahriman?" It can only really be thus: he forgot his theory; and his conscience, more true than his memory, in happy forgetfulness, recognized the Pentateuch as the genuine, ancient, most ancient, "literature" of the Hebrews, written long and long before Hezekiah's prophets, time enough for the nation to have forgotten the doctrine of the Persian Ahriman, if they ever did.
But, if we come to examine the facts, instead of what "apparently therefore must have been;" if they first imbibed it in the Babylonish captivity from the further East, where they were not that we know of, further difficulties start into view. Psa. 109 speaks of Satan, and Job very fully and largely indeed: where did these scriptures get it? I am aware that Psa. 109 is decided by "learned Germans" not to be David's. But it has not yet, as far as I can learn, found its place among the "latest positive results of criticism," so as to fix a date for it. So that it stands either before Hezekiah's prophets, and Mr. N.'s date of the Pentateuch, and disproves his whole theory; or, if after these, subsequent Hebrew literature has such an Ahriman. No one that 1 find has placed it after the captivity. And Job-where is he to go? Here the "latest positive results" are most untoward. De Wette, in his first four editions, had fixed the date of this book after the captivity. Whether his finding Ahriman in it had any influence in producing this judgment I know not; at any rate in his last we find: "We cannot place its date so low as the Chaldee period, but near it; in the time when the kingdom of Judah was sinking into ruin." Ewald and Hirzel place it, one at the beginning, the other at the end of this century (i.e., the seventh B.C.)-from Josiah to the captivity. That is, the fullest instruction we have as to Satan in the Old Testament is, according to the latest authorities, before the captivity, and exactly in "the subsequent Hebrew literature, which has no trace of such an Ahriman." It "apparently therefore must" not have been adopted from the Persian Ahriman, or "Melek Taous."
There is indeed a way of getting rid of this, suggested in Parker's De Wette, vol. 2, p. 563.
"For the sake of the perfection of the poem, we could wish these historical passages were away. Accordingly they have been rejected by Hasse, Stuhlmann, and Bernstein"-what lively jealousy for the reputation of the unknown author! But De Wette's conscience seems to have been growing as he advanced in his inquiries and his years; he continues: "But the prosaic style, the occurrence of Satan therein, the use of the name of Jehovah (while Eloah is elsewhere used in the book for its poetic effect), prove nothing against the genuineness of these passages."
But here we get a most curious discovery. Herder, Eichhom, Stuhlmann, and Bertholdt, think the Satan mentioned here "is not the common one!" However, we are assured in the same note, that "this is contrary to all analogy." What the analogy is I must leave to the reader to discover in De Wette's Biblische Dogmatík. But I must say, if ever there was a specimen of incapacity to seize the purpose of a moral author-self-sufficiency and a total want of all intelligence, it is in the learned German's account of the merits and contents of the book of Job, as given in the American edition of De Wette.
Discussions as to the date of a book which affords none, which affords no direct proof of any, so that it is to be drawn from internal criteria, cannot be surprising; and such there have been amongst those who fully bowed to the book of Job as the word of God. It does not seem to me a very difficult question; but I should not presume to impose an opinion, or dogmatize upon it. That it is inspired scripture no true believer doubts. It is cited in the New Testament, and certainly referred to by Ezekiel. When it was introduced into the canon is comparatively immaterial. I have not myself the least doubt of its antiquity. I am not Hebraist enough to pretend, in any way, to judge of the style; but many of those who are have not found it an obstacle to their conviction.
Besides, I confess I have not very great confidence in the decisions of skeptics as to Hebrew language. I open one writer of credit on these points, and he tells me, "In respect to the language, to the contents and entire spirit, the book belongs not at all to the golden age, but to the later period of Hebrew literature." I beg leave to demur to the contents and spirit; I cite as to the Hebrew. I open another book of credit, and I find: "The nature of the language employed is of itself sufficient to show that its origin must be referred to a period antecedent to the compositions of the Psalms In Job the use of Aramaisms is strongly marked, evidently pointing to a period prior to David, in whose time language was purer. Besides, these Aramaisms differ essentially from the later ones, exhibiting an ancient and primitive character quite distinct from the corrupt and degenerate Aramaisms of a later age," and then several examples are given. Indeed, in a language of which so little remains as there does of Hebrew, it requires uncommon nicety of judgment and depth of knowledge, both of the language, and, I may add, of cognate dialects, to judge from such a criterion (except in very clear cases, such as comparing the Pentateuch with the Chaldean period, or even with books written earlier than that). Gesenius mentions a fact which shows the full examination such a ground of judging of age requires: "The ancient Hebrew agrees, in its grammatical structure, more with the modern Arabic than with the ancient." He states how this has arisen, which is not my present subject. He places job in the golden age of the language in his grammar; in his history of the language, next to Proverbs; in date of style, between the golden and inferior style.
It may be well to mention here, that it appears modern German critics have abandoned their old notion of the Josiah date of the Pentateuch, to which Mr. N.'s "eyes were opened" as "he considered the narrative." It is, even for them, at least as old as David and Solomon; for opinionum commenta delet dies. I may add that the greatest masters of the subject are clear that writing began two thousand years at least before Christ, or, as another expresses it, "more ancient than any history is able to disclose. It was a privilege enjoyed by the Shemitish nations a long time before Moses made his appearance in history."
I cite the opinion of German rationalists.1
I recall this, as attempts arc made to becloud this point too. The result is, that we have Satan (according to Mr. Ν. himself; the believer cannot have a doubt of it) referred to in the earliest historical books, in the history of the serpent. He is very largely, and with very particular development and purpose, introduced in the book of Job. He is spoken of in Psa. 109; and fully in Zechariah and Chronicles, after the captivity. That is, from the beginning to the end of the Old Testament. So much for "no trace of such an Ahriman," and legends "imported from further East." The latest authorities and best Hebrew scholars of Mr. N.'s views place Job before the captivity (many making it very much earlier; some, indeed, the most ancient book in existence).
But the criticisms on the book of Job are useful to refer to in this way. When the discussion is on historical prophecy, many subjects come before the mind to which natural intellect can apply its powers (dates, historical facts, and the like). The results are just as false as in books more properly didactic; and some unhappy English skeptic, unable to go at the pace at which light German wit and diligent German labor travel in doubt, finds his "eyes opened" some years too late on something on which those of his more assiduous neighbors have already closed again; and we get some Josiah date of the Pentateuch published in English, when no one of the originally opened eyes can see it any longer. But the moral scope of a book abides for every one to examine. Job pretends to no ostensible date. The ways of God are simply and directly in question; and here the glaring incompetency of these unhappy skeptics becomes too evident to bear the light. A converted child-nay, any one who had retained some respect for God-could judge the unimaginable flippancy, the utter incapacity to seize hold of the purport and connection of the divine writings, exhibited by these critics. "Elihu's speeches are spurious; they do not introduce God well; they subvert the scope of the book."
I may feel unable to judge whether an Aramaism is an old one or a new, whether there are Arabisms in Job, or whether they are not such as have passed through an Aramean crucible, and become genuine poetical Hebrew; but Elihu's speeches are before us all; and an English reader, if he has not the linguistic niceties, has the subject fully before him. It is a relief to turn to it. It has been, at least, a comfort to me in my present task to have an opportunity of occupying myself and my reader from time to time with the contents of scripture.
The reader of the book of Job is let in at once into what was really going on, that he may know God's purpose and ways. Job is not. It would have destroyed the effect of the gracious, though painful, process. God takes notice of His saints-" Hast thou considered my servant Job?" Satan's attention thus attracted to them in a way which shows that God, whatever Satan's malice, is the real source of all that is to follow, he becomes the accuser. Thus the great scene, of which man (and, we must add, the saint) was the object, really opens.
God, whose purpose is only disclosed at the end in the profit done to Job's soul (though His being the source of all is revealed), leaves Job, in a measured way, in the hand of the adversary for temptation and trial. Such is the scene and spring of action from within. But all comes on Job from without by apparently ordinary causes. The predatory hordes of Sabeans, Chaldeans, and the like, make razzias on his flocks and herds; a violent wind from the desert throws down his house when his children are feasting; and at last a disease of the country attacks his own body: rapidly accumulated no doubt, but all ordinary events, however trying. What was Job's own character? He was, in his general character, a godly, upright, gracious man, fearing God, eschewing evil, and gracious with those around him. Why should evils, if there be a divine government, fall on such a one? If this world be simply the present manifestation of divine government as such, then indeed it would be incredible. But though Providence overrules all, and God delights to bless even temporarily; and though in result, when He takes to Him His own great power and rules, the blessing of the righteous will fully arrive; yet now, in a world of sin, He is carrying on another purpose, the perfecting of saints for the full enjoyment of Himself. This, since sin and will are come in, is wrought in two ways-judgment of self, and submission to God.
Now Job needed, and God saw that he needed, this. He was gracious and pious, but he did not know himself; and he had never so seen God as to be brought to a real knowledge of himself in His presence. God deals therefore with him in a way to bring his sinfulness fully out, and then places him with it, manifested to his conscience, in His own presence. Elihu's place we shall see in a moment. He gives the key to God's ways in grace, in order that the soul which God was dealing with might be brought into God's presence, as under discipline, not under judgment. Job had acted well, for grace had acted in him; but he did not know himself before God. Thus he speaks: "When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me; because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame. I was a father to the poor; and the cause which I knew not, I searched out." All very right and gracious; but was it all that was in Job's heart? What did the thinking of it produce there? What did it show? Men waited for Job, no doubt; but where was Job's heart? What was it? Well, God allows Satan, in his malice, to sweep all he could entirely away; and here more good is displayed in the sufferer. He is patient in his sorrow: he blesses God, and bows his head to Him who gave and saw fit to take away.
But Job's heart was not yet reached. Its reflections on itself there was nothing to change. Men would have said, "What more can you want than grace in prosperity, and patience in adversity?" Such a knowledge of myself as makes God everything to me, and me morally capable of enjoying Him. Had God stopped here, though outwardly preparation had been made for His further work, Job would have been better pleased with himself than ever. Had God restored him now, mischief would have been done. Satan had done all he could. Job's friends arrive, and sympathy or shame (for God will have His blessed work fully done) reveals Job to himself; and he who has become the type of patience curses the day in which he was born. The surface is broken through, and Job, and his friends too, come out in their reality. His friends take the ground of a present certain government of God manifest in all His ways; in which they are wholly and in every sense wrong. Did He directly govern, He could allow no sin at all. He who could suppose this present evil world the expression of the just and adequate results of God's character in government must have an awful idea of God Himself. They were pretty much on Mr. N.'s ground. They had a pre-existing standard of morals, and judged God and all things by it. God loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: Job was under His afflicting hand; consequently, he was a hypocrite. They pronounce, indeed, many "wise saws," common-place truisms, which explained nothing, and reached no man's conscience, not even their own; and hold their tongues, vexed that their wisdom is despised.
In Job two things are brought out-an unbroken, impatient will, which set up to judge God and say that he was more righteous than He; but, at the same time, a heart which had a sense of relationship with God, though in rebellion against Him and writhing under His hand-a perception of qualities in God which showed a personal knowledge of Himself, which only longed to find Him, and knew when he did he should find Him such. He could not indeed find Him: He was in one way, and who could turn Him aside? But if he did, he would order his cause before Him: God Himself would put words in his mouth. There was that confidence in Him, that he counted upon His heart towards him. When he can get rid of the stupid importunities of his moralizing and heartless friends, he turns to cry after God with an "O that I might find Him!" In justice, he sees it is no use. How can a man plead with God? But in heart he will trust Him, if He slays him. Nothing can be more beautiful than the way he turns thus, casting aside his friends as he nay, to throw himself into the arms of God, if he could only find Him. But all was not ready yet: the confidence would be sustained; but the will must be broken, self-complacency destroyed. In this process all manner of feelings come out-impatient anger presumptuously arraigning God, acknowledging present government in pious justification of his ways; clearly proving that it was no present adequate proof of what God thought of a man, a deep personal heart sense of what God is expressed in confidence in Him. The heart was fully exercised: its evil brought out, its good-its faith in God-brought into play: but the riddle was not yet solved.
Elihu then comes in, an interpreter, "one among a thousand," and brings in this truth-that God deals personally with man. Α general superintending government no doubt there is-a God that judges the earth; but there is another kind of government- that of souls. He turns man from his purpose. He hides pride from man. He hides not His eyes from the righteous. They are with kings; but He binds them in affliction and cords of iron to show them their works, their transgressions, that they have exceeded. He chastens, He restores, He governs with a view to blessing-and souls in a moral relationship with Himself. He was not God to terrify Job; yet Job could not answer, when God, acting in respect of an unjudged conscience and an unsubdued heart, was brought out.
Yet, while judging the conscience and sheaving the sin of the will and pride of heart, such reasoning sheaved God's active, condescending, painstaking grace to a soul that had the integrity that was found in Job. Thus God's ways were revealed by the interpreter, and self-righteousness totally set aside. Still one thing remained: where gracious ways had softened the heart of the willful one for submission, God's own majesty was to be revealed to show Job his utter folly-worms and sinners that we are. Hence God is displayed in majesty and power; and Job acknowledges his vileness, first by shutting his mouth before God, staying his presumptuous words, and then by opening it in unfeigned confession before the gracious God who dealt with him, in whose presence he now stood in a truth and reality he had never been in before: "I have heard of thee, by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." Then God can fully bless him, and pardon his friends, putting each in his place.
These were, so to speak, the parties in question-self-righteousness referring to present government now; a saint, yet unsubdued and not knowing himself as a poor sinner before God; and the God of majesty with whom they all had to do. Elihu was but an interpreter by the way, and hence not seen when the judgment is to be pronounced. He answers to the intelligent spirit of Christ, acting by the word to teach God's ways as the Church ought to know them. Thus "we have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy." We can add that the Daysman, whom Job sought in vain, has presented for us a perfect, divine, and accepted righteousness before God. Surely He was not one on earth in whom God brought His terror on the sinner. Such, I apprehend, is the purport of this book for every soul-the most instructive revelation of God's ways with men. I do not doubt its application to Jewish's history; for in the Jews God will ultimately display His government of the earth, as He has already to those who have spiritual intelligence to discern it. But that history is but a large picture of man's heart and God's ways that we may learn them.
There are higher revelations no doubt in the New Testament. But the sovereign grace and righteousness there revealed have not superseded these principles of intercourse of God with godly men-with the redeemed, and with men in general-which are brought out, independently of all particular dispensations, in this wonderful and most beautiful book. It carefully shuts out thus all special dispensational character or Jewish legal form of knowledge, or God's taking a people specially to Himself, while picturing the dealings developed in them. Ι have no doubt, from the kind of idolatry referred to, the patriarchal manners and other characteristics of the book, that it is of Mosaic date at least; but however this may be, of its spiritual place and purpose in the holy book of God I have not the least doubt-a godly man, standing with God in government in the earth, and his acceptance before Him.
The reader will remark that sacrifices are introduced as the means of escape from the consequences of our folly and sin in respect of God. The book of Job is the testimony now (independent of all peculiar dispensational truth and blessings; and it was the testimony before there were any) of the great fundamental truths on which all relationship between God and man on earth rests, dispensationally brought out.
Mr. N. speaks of the difficulty which scientific men have of determining what a miracle is; and that the course of nature must be known to know what a deviation from it is. This remark shows how reasoners create difficulties for themselves. The object of a miracle is to show the intervention of God. If God did, in favor of some one or many, in a day what man would take ten years to do but could do if he had time, it would be a miracle in the truest sense of the word. But if Lazarus was raised from the dead, did any one doubt it was out of the course of nature? If a blind man received his sight from clay and the pool of Siloam, did he doubt it? If a cripple of forty years old from his birth, not expecting it, could leap and walk in a moment, does Mr. Ν. think that he, or any one in his senses, would wait till science had settled the course of nature to know whether there was a miracle or not?
Let the reader remark, I am not now discussing whether these things happened or not, but the difficulty of ascertaining their character, supposing they did happen.
1. I cite from English translations accessible to me at the moment; I have not the German originals.