JOB continues his answer to Zophar's speech, and in  him to all his friends. The chapter hath two parts, 

1. From the beginning to Job 18:20. he speaks directly to them.

2. From Job 18:20. to the end, he speaks immediately to God. There are three parts of speech to them. I. In the two first verse he confirms that he spoke before of God's greatness and sovereignty in doing all things, and not limiting him, to which his friends tied him, in doing good to godly men in temporal things, and inflicting judgements on wicked men. Lo, mine eye hath seen all this. I have seen such a thing to be true, therefore I say it over again; Mine ear hath heard and understand it, I have learned of others what I saw not myself, and drunken in this doctrine of God's sovereignty solely. I know what ye know, and am not inferior to you, in the knowledge of this truth, and have no cause to call my words as vain.

He goes on to a reproof, mixed with an advice, which he backs with reasons from verse 3 to verse 13. He begins with a desire to speak to God, not out of a fretting humour, nor to justify himself; but in his cause that he. was a sincere man, he here opposes himself to Eliphaz, Job 13:8. and wishes for God to speak unto, to commit his cause to him as well as he; so it holds out, Job’s standing by his sincerity. But the meaning seems to be this, though I would speak to God, and not fear to commit my cause to him, yet I have little cause to speak to you, and the words following clear this to be his scope; but ye are forgers of lyes, that is, of doctrinal lyes, (as the apostle says, I Tim. iv. 2, speaking lyes in hypocrisy) which is applicable to the thesis they maintained, that God does always punish wicked men in this life, and reward the godly; and to be forgers of lyes is more than to be venters of lyes; to be forgers of lyes is to put them in mould and shape, and set them well together, a word borrowed from these whose proper work it is to forge things. The second part of his challenge, Ye are physicians of no value, which is applicable to their mistake of his condition, they taking him to be a hypocrite, and their way of dealing with him, he means they were miserable comforters to him, and he speaks here to them both with respect to the general thesis, and as they applied it to him. In the fifth verse he gives them his advice, O that ye would altogether hold your peace, and it should be your wisdom, that is, it were better ye should hold your peace than insist on your -mistake, and oppose the words of truth that I have spoken. This he backs with several reasons, repeating the conclusion, verse 13. as if he said, it is true ye are aged and wise men, and know God indeed; but hearken to me, ye take the wrong way to condemn me, that ye may justify God, to the end ye may condemn me, to limit God's sovereignty; in this ye speak wickedly and deceitfully for God, for will ye accept his person out of some by respect to wrong truth, and will ye have a respect to contending for him more than to the cause? Think ye that God will approve you, that out of a good intent to plead for him ye should wrong me? will ye contend for God on thir grounds?

it were far better for you to hold your tongue, than wickedly and deceitfully so to speak for God. He condemns not their contending for God, but their contending for God on such grounds. And a third reason he gives, verse 9, 10. can ye abide God's searching of you, and will ye force him to call you to a reckoning? Think ye that he will be pleased with your words? or, can ye mock him as one silly poor man will mock another? no, he will surely reprove you. If ye accept persons and your shifts in contending for God will not do your turn when ye are partial, and wrong truth on the one side do the other. He does not charge them as if intentionally they mocked God, but because they were taken up in pleading for God's justice, which had a fair face to defend God, and did not regard how they wronged truth, and Job, he lets them see how apt a fair pretext is to lead them wrong. In verse 11. he urges them from God's excellency to hold their peace; as if he said, Are ye not afraid to father things on God that he will never own? know ye the justice and sovereignty that is in him, while ye do so  should not his dread rather fear you from such a course? and this he amplifies, verse 11. by laying them before God. Your rememberances are like unto ashes, that is, whatever makes you memorable, or whatever is excellent in you, it is but like ashes; Your bodies are bodies of clay, or your heights are like bodies of clay, but God in his excellency is infinite, and how then dare ye venture on that, God is concerned in, in such a way? and therefore repeats the conclusion, verse 13. Hold your peace, and let me alone; and withall proceeds to a third thing he is to say to his friends, which is the third part of his speech to them, and that is, to vindicate himself in appealing to God, giving reasons of his sincerity in so doing, which he doth from the midst of verse 13. to verse 20. Let me alone that I may speak, and let come on me what will. It is not a word of desperation,

but he means this much, hold ye your tongue, and I will take my hazard to speak to God; this he clears by removing an objection, verse 14. ye think me like a mad man in this, like a man that is tearing his own flesh, but I would ask you, wherefore do I hazard my life in venturing upon God? durst I do it if I were a hypocrite? I durst not. Another evidence of his sincerity is, verse 15. I am so far from despairing that I judge not God by dispensations as ye do; Though he should slay me, I would trust in him, and keep confidence in him. A third evidence, I will maintain my own ways before him, I will not maintain every step of my way, that for my course I have not been a hypocrite, this I will maintain. A fourth evidence is, verse 16. He also shall be my salvation. Though he should slay me, I am sure I will get another life; he gives a reason of this, For an hypocrite shall not come before him. The hypocrite will not trust in God when he is angry at him, he dare not lay open his cause before God as I do, nor trust his soul to him when his breath is going out as I do. In verse 17. he repeats what he said, verse 6. to put them to observe his speech, and gives the reason, ver, 18. I have ordered my cause, I go upon good and solid grounds; and I know that I shall be justified, my confidence shall not be shaken, I am persuaded when God comes, he will decide in my favours; and verse 19. seeing I have this testimony that God will justify me, who will come in my way to plead against me, a defiance to them all. In the courage of faith, he rises, and will maintain his integrity, and he gives a reason why, he speaks so confidently. If I hold my tongue, I should give up the ghost, my grief is so heavy, and the pressure of the temptation so great, that it would put out my life, if I should not get a vent. He thinks it not easy to vent his mind to God, and bear down unbelief, the more it would be up.

From verse 20. to the end, he speaks to God, and ere he speak he propounds two things to God humbly, not to carve out to, or limit God, and then he will speak to God, and these two things follow, verse 21. the first is, that God would take the present rod off him. 2. That he would not let his dread make him afraid, that is, that he would not deal roughly with him, or as in the way of the covenant of works, but as one in a covenant of grace; and if he will do so, then, verse 22. either speak thou says he, and I will answer, or let me speak, and answer thou me. Then verse 23, 24. he propones two grounds of complaint, insinuating confidence, the first is like that word, chapter x. 2. as if he said, I am not conscious to myself of any hid sin or wickedness, but if there be any hid sin, let me know of it. And the second is, if I be not conscious to myself of any hid wickedness, why takest thou such a severe course with me as to hide thy face from me, and to deal with me as I were an enemy; but there is in it a secret argument of faith that God will not deal so with him. A second argument is, verse 25. Wilt thou break a leaf driven to and fro, &c. Am I a party to thee, who am like a withered leaf and dry stubble? It supposes he is not a party to God, that is so feckless a creature. Then to the end of the chapter, lie expresses some words holding forth some things that said God seemed to break him as a leaf and pursue him as stubble. As, 1. Thou writest bitter things against me, as a man libelling up the process of another in court. 2. Thou makest me possess the iniquities of my youth. The sins I thought had been forgotten, do stare me in the face. 3. Thou put lest my feet in the stocks; I am so straitened with temporal judgement, that I am like a man not only sentenced, but on whom the sentence is execute, as in a pair of stocks. 4. Thou lookest narrowly to all my paths, thou takest narrow notice of, and censures every circumstance

of my walking. Thou settest a print upon the heels of my feet, thou seemest so severe, as to mark every foot I lift. And the last verse is a close of this chapter, but knits with the next. And he as a rotten garment consumeth, &c. He, that is I, a silly man under this sore trouble, am no better than a garment that is moth-eaten, and as a thing that is rotten and consumed.


I. He that propones or defends anything for truth, had need to be well persuaded of the truth of it, that he may say with Job, Mine eye hath seen it, mine ear hath heard it, and understood it, verse 1. and as 1 John i. 3. That which we have heard, &c.

II. It is an ease to a tempted soul to get leave to vent itself to God, otherwise it would burst, verse 3. with verse 19. This is a great advantage, believers have in all their difficulties a door open to God, a new and living way, Hebrews x.

III. Take it thus, I would speak to God, because ye are forgers of lyes. Observe: That it is a great advantage to them that deals with unreasonable men, that they have God as an equitable and reasonable judge; and this is our advantage, there is a time coming when God will admit of a second hearing.

IV. Many folks may be sinning foully, wronging God and truth, when they intend to defend both. Thir men thought they were doing both, yet Job calls them forgers of lyes, &c. verse 4, 6.

V. A good intention will never justify an action that is not good in itself; we often take too much liberty to defend a good cause by unsuitable midses57, and that is to speak wickedly for God, for there is nothing that God allows and calls for as a duty from us, but God has appointed a mids suitable and lawful to come to it. He never carves out an end, that can never be attained

in a lawful way; therefore matters that concern the honour of God would be handled tenderly and soberly, and folks would not take liberty to speak or hold by words, as they tend to a good end, but see that the words be suitable to the end.

VI. From his check and advice to hold their peace, verse 5. Observe. That it is far more wise to hold our peace in things wherein we are not thoroughly clear, than to undertake to speak when we are unclear, were our end never so good, Proverbs xvii. 28. Even a fool when he holds his peace is counted wise, and he that shuts his lips is accounted a man of understanding. James i. 19. Be swift to hear, slow to speak. This would prevent many mistakes in our disputing and reasoning, if we were clear, ere we engaged, rather than to engage when unclear; and it may be when we have questioned a good while, know not well where we would be at. Better hold our peace than mar a good cause through our carnal way of handling it, as Job's friends here.

VII. God will never accept it as service to him that wrongs our neighbour, or prejudges the duty we owe to our neighbours, whether it be in reasoning for God, or in the purchasing gear to bestow it for God. Love to God and our neighbour must never be separate, but go hand and hand together, therefore Job's friends are justly checked because they pretend and did indeed intend tenderness to the honour of God, but are not tender toward Job; will ye accept his person, &c. verse 8.

VIII. From verse 11. Observe. That the most part of our mistakes and wrongs in practices flow from mean thoughts of the excellency of God, and not fearing his greatness. Therefore Job bears it on his friends, that the excellency of God had not right weight with them. The excellency of God rightly thought of,

would make folks tender and sober, and warry to pronounce sentence on these.

IX. From ver.12. Observe. That there is much of folks selfishness and tenaciousness that proceeds from want of right thoughts of themselves as well as of God; or take it thus, right thoughts of folks self would move and induce us to walk tenderly before God, and charitably towards one another; mean thoughts of God, and big thoughts of bits of clay makes many of us miscarry. For Job's laying this before them from their selfish way and tenacious sticking to it, tells us, that their forgetting of it made them fall in this fault.

X. From the same words learn, that the best thing in men here away is but earthly and frail, having a earthly subject, which is but brickle and will turn to dust again. These are right thoughts of ourselves, which are humbling thoughts, Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, Genesis iii. 19.

XI. From verse 15. Though he should slay me, yet will I trust in him. Observe. How bold and resolute faith is, all that is come on me, says Job, shall not make me distrust him, nay, though he should do worse to me, it shall not make me quite my confidence. Then strong faith will never quite grips of God, or the stronger that faith be, the more stronger will it grip to God, especially when he seems to cast off; or, take it thus, faith is not too and fro as it meets with difficulties and harsh dispensations, nor up and down as God seems angry or well pleased, for dispensations are not the object of faith, but the word of promise, and having that for its object, it rests on it, and will not quite it, and it were a good way to meet unbelief with the more strong faith, and to have faith resolved, clear and peremptory.

XII. From verse 18, compared with verse 15. Observe: That folks can never trust God too much, but the more faith trusts God, and lay its burden on him, it has the better ground to expect an outgate, when he has said, I will trust in him, though he should slay me; then he comes to this, I have ordered my cause, I know that I shall be justified. So Paul, 2Timothy i. 12. I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. Too much cannot be laid on faith, or expected from it, because the ground of it is infinite, and it were a thriving way to learn to give God credit in difficulties. It has present peace, and there is no other way to peace. There is no way to be justified but this way, and there is no way to peace were the objects never so palpable and promising, till the heart come to hazard on God, and give him credit.