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Homiletic Sketches on the Book of

Fob.

The Book of Job is one of the grandest sections of Divine Scripture. It has never yet, to our knowledge, been treated in a purely Homiletic method for Homiletic ends. Besides many learned expositions on the book found in our general com. mentaries, we have special exegetical volumes of good scholarly and critical worth; such as Drs. Barnes, Wemyss, Mason Goode, Noyes Lee, Delitzsch, and Herman Hedwick Bernard: the last is in every way a masterly production. For us, therefore, to go into philology and verbal criticism, when such admirable works are available to all students, would be superfluous, if not presumption. Ambiguous terms, when they occur, we shall of course explain, and occasionally suggest

an improved rendering; but our work will be chiefly, if not entirely, Homiletic. We shall essay to bring out from the grand old words those Divine verities which are true and vital to man as man in all lands and ages. These truths we shall frame in an order as philosophic and suggestive as our best powers will enable us to do; and this in order to help the earnest preachers of God's Holy Word.

Subject: Job's Appeal to Heaven (continued).
“ 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.
And 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 ?
Not one.
Seeing his days are determined,
The number of his months are with Thee,
Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;
Turn from him, that he may rest,
Till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day.
For there is hope of a tree,
If it be cut down, that it will sprout again,
And that the tender branch thereof will not cease.
Though the root thereof wax old in the earth,
And the stock thereof die in the ground;
Yet through the scent of water it will bud,
And bring forth boughs like a plant.
But man dieth, and wasteth away:
Yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he ?
As the waters fail from the sea,
And the flood decayeth and drieth up :
So man lieth down, and riseth not:
Till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake,
Nor be raised out of their sleep.

O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave,
That Thou wouldest keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past,
That Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!"

-Job xiv. 1-13. EXEGETICAL REMARKS.— Ver. 1.—“Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.“Man born of woman, of few days and full of trouble.”Bernard. Language this, used to express the

frailty, brevity, and sorrow of human life. Ver. 2.-—"He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down," etc. Strong

figures to express the same idea as that in the first verse. Ver. 3.—" And dost Thou open Thine eyes upon such an one,

and bringest me into judgment with Thee?" The meaning is obvious, viz., is one whose life is so fragile, brief, and sad worthy of Thy notice, or fit to

be brought into judgment with Thee ? Ver. 4.—“Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? Not one."

Dr. Bernard makes this an exclamation,-"Oh that a clean thing could come out of an unclean ! Not one will ever." Lee translates it,—“Who shall of the unclean pronounce one clean? No one.” The authorized version however to us is a faithful expression of the idea,

viz., that imperfect parents will have imperfect children: like begets like. Ver. 5.—" Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are

with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass." “Since his days are fixed, the number of his months is with Thee, Thou hast affixed his limits which he cannot pass.”—Dr. Barnes. The idea is, Thou hast settled the exact duration of his existence on this

earth, and to pass beyond that limit is a matter of impossibility. Ver. 6.-" Turn from him, that he may rest, till he shall accomplish, as an

hireling, his day." “Oh look away from him, that he may cease to

suffer, till as an hireling he find pleasure in his last day.” Ver. 7.—For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it sprout

again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease." What Job says here is what may frequently be observed in vegetable nature-a

cut-down tree sprouting again. Ver. 8.-—"Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock

thereof die in the ground.” The idea here is, that though the tree be cut down and the roots old and dried, some vitality remains, and it

may therefore shoot forth into another tree. Ver. 9.-" Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth

boughs like a plant.” The word “scent” here means the aroma or odour which anything exhales. “A fine metaphor,” says one. water acts on the decaying and perishing tree as strong odours act on

& fainting person.” Ver. 10.-But man dieth, and wasteth away : yea, man giveth up the

ghost, and where is he?The idea is, man entirely vanishes, he leaves nothing to sprout again, no germ, no shoot, no seminal principle, he is gone for ever from the earth. Rosenmüller says,

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Romans made those trees to be the symbol of death, which being cut down do not live again, or from whose roots no germs arise, as the pine and cypress, which were planted in burial places or were custom

arily placed at the door of the houses of those who were dead.” Ver. 11, 12.—“As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth

and drieth up: so man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep." Here is a reference to evaporation in nature. From seas, and lakes, and rivers, waters are constantly ascending into the air, and sometimes, as in the case of the Nile, their very bed is dried. So, Job says, it is with man.

Where is the lake that looked almost like the sea in the winter, after the summer sun has expended its hot beams upon it? It is gone. So it will be with man, " till the heavens be no more.” Nothing under the range of human experience is more durable than the heavens, but these heavens will vanish sooner than man will re-appear. The whole passage is simply a solemn declaration of Job's belief, not that there is no future state, but that there is no re-appearance of man on the earth after he has once departed by death. And truly his belief

was well inded, no one has ever come back. Ver. 13.—O that Thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that Thou wouldest

keep me secret, until Thy wrath be past, that Thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me !" Whether Job here means by “the grave,” the burial spot, or the realm of departed spirits, we cannot determine, nor does it matter. Job's idea is, that after death he would be sheltered somewhere from those sufferings which he here calls “Thy wrath ;” and this he longed for. What he seems to desire is, not only that he should have the shelter, but that he should appear again, and be kindly remembered of God.

HOMILETICS :-Here Job continues his appeal to his Maker, and lengthens out his complaint. The whole passage is a sad lamentation, a loud deep wail. In the preceding verses he had complained of his sins and the embarrassments of his sufferings. Here he proceeds to complain of much more.

I. THE SUFFERING OF HIS EXISTENCE, AND FLEETNESS OF HIS Days.

First: The Suffering of his Existence. "Man that is born of a woman,”—frail, fragile woman,—“is of few days, and full of trouble.” Human life is, and ever has been, more or less a condition of trouble. Even the most favoured men can say, in truth, "Few and evil have the days of my pilgrimage been." Goethe was considered by his compeers a man highly favoured of Providence. Yet, what said he, as he drew near

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his end, and passed in review his departed years? “They have called me a child of fortune, nor have I any wish to complain of the course of my life. Yet it has been nothing but sorrow and labour; and I may truly say, that in seventyfive years I have not had four weeks of true comfort. It was the constant rolling of a stone that was always to be lifted

When I look back upon my earlier and middle life, and consider how few are left of those that were young with me, I am reminded of a summer visit to a watering-place. On arriving, one makes the acquaintance of those who have already been some time there, and leave the week following. This loss is painful. Now one becomes attached to the second generation, with which one lives for a time, and becomes intimately connected. But this also passes away, and leaves us solitary with the third, which arrives shortly before our own departure, and with which we have no desire to have much intercourse.”

Why should the condition of human life be one of suffering? Indeed, you may ask, Why should pain reign universally through all God's sentient creatures here below ? Pain is evidently not an accident, not an exception, but a purpose and a rule. The throes of agony are witnessed everywhere : in the air, from the eagle to the winged insect; on the earth, from the lion to the worm; in the sea, from the leviathan to the smallest minnow. One creature is made to tear another to pieces and devour it, as the means of subsistence. Pain in God's irrational creatures is a far greater mystery to me than pain amongst human kind. Men everywhere feel, not only that the pains they endure they justly deserve, but that a large portion of what they endure they have brought upon themselves by their own conduct. And then, too, it should be remembered that their very afflictions might, and should, be turned to their spiritual advantage. Still, suffering is suffering; and all men can adopt the language of Job, and say, their “ days are few and full of trouble.”

Secondly: The Fleetness of his life. “He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down." A flower; not a cedar, an elm, or

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oak, but a flower, that blows in the morning, and in the evening is withered and dead. He fleeth as a shadow." What on earth is so unsubstantial as a shadow ? A vapour

is something—it floats over the hills, darkens the dandscape, condenses into clouds, and comes down in showers on the earth. But a shadow-what is it? Nothing. True, it implies a something: it implies a light, an obstructive object, and something on which it falls ; but in itself, it is nothing. This is life. “We are shadows,” said the great Burke, “and pursuing shadows."

Now, on the sufferings and swiftness of life Job grounds an appeal to Heaven, and says, “ And dost Thou open

Thine

eyes upon such an one, and bringest me into judgment with Thee ? " What he means is, “Since my life is so sad and swift, so full of trouble, so frail and fleeting, why dost Thou watch me with such vigilance, and bring me into such controversy with Thee ? What am I, to deserve thy severe notice and to stand before Thee in judgment ? ” Who does not feel the force of this ? What sufferer on his restless couch does not groan out the question, in every passing hour, What am I, that the Infinite should thus torture me?

He goes on to complain of

II. THE DEPRAVITY OF HIS ANCESTORS, AND LIMITATION OF HIS LIFE.

First: The Depravity of his Ancestors. 6 Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean ?" A general idea this, proverbially expressed. The meaning is, the result must bear the character of the cause. Like begets like everywhere. Job regarded his parents as morally imperfect, and having their imperfection transmitted to him. That parents do transmit their moral character to their children, is one of the most patent facts in all history. The transmission, however, need not be regarded as coming through physical generation, but rather by moral influence and imitation. The fact that my parents were sinners, my moral nature cannot accept as a justification for my own sinfulness. A man's moral character is ever more his own production; and for it all society, provi

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