CHAPTER 15.

WE heard before of the state of the question betwixt Job and his friends, they have all three spoken, and he has answered. Eliphaz that began first, begins the second time; and goes upon the same grounds, and has the same ends before him; he continues in his mistake, and prosecutes the end he had before him in his first speech, only being further engaged, though a good man, after debate, he is more irritate, and more sharp upon Job. He has a sharp reproof to Job from the beginning of this chapter to the 14th verse, which is a preface to the debate following. And 2dly; from verse 14 to the end, he debates his old thesis several ways. The 1st cause wherefore he reproves Job is, verse 2, 3. and it is for speaking proud, vain, and windy words, having a show of wisdom and knowledge, but no substance. Should a wise man utter vain knowledge? &c. Wherefore serves all this discourse? No wise man as ye have been thought, should take this gate, and he speaks by way of interrogation, to bear in his reproof more sharply on Job, A second challenge is added as a further degree of the former, verse 4. Yea, though thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God. This way of defending yourself is an evidence of your casting off fear, and your rejecting of our advice in making supplication to God, it evidences your restraint of prayer, and of pouring out your heart before God. A sharp check, but built on a mistake of Job's expressions. Yea, verse 5. he charges him for nor only casting off fear, and restraining prayer himself, but that by his doctrine he taught others to cast them off, and not to take with sin, and he proves it, for thy mouth uttereth thine iniquity. In thy discourse thou teachest iniquity, and propagates it to others, to learn all men not to humble themselves before God. And thou chusest the tongue of the crafty; Job confessed he was a sinner, but Eliphaz alledges that he had but craftily done this in the general to hide his wickedness. But says he, verse 6. Thy own mouth condemns thee and not I, and this he takes from Job's word, chapter ix. verse 20. If I justify myself, my own mouth shall condemn me. If say I am perfect, it shall prove me perverse. The third charge or challenge he bears on Job, is, for sticking to his own judgement, and rejecting his and his other two friends their judgement, which is followed forth in several verses following, verse 7. Art thou the first man that was born? Think ye Job that you was the first man. It seems by your sticking by your own judgement, that ye have been made before others, seeing ye will not take a counsel from us. Have ye been upon God's secret? verse 8. Is there none that knows God's way of walking with men but ye? What knowest thou that we know not? verse 9. Are ye any wiser than we? We have had a long time and as much experience as ye. And verse 10.. we are not alone in this cause, but with us, or upon our side, are the aged or grey-headed, men of experience, whom thou should reverence, and verse 11. Are the consolations of. God small with thee? Thinkest thou little of all we have said, and wilt thou take a gate of thine own? Is there any secret thing with thee? Hast thou any secret revelation of any other thing, or gate of serving God than others have revealed unto them, and if there be no gate but that which is revealed, why takest thou a gate of thy own? a way which thine own passion and inclination leads thee to, why dost thy heart carry thee away, to such a way? And what doth thine eye wink at? Why wilt thou mock our advice which from God we have given thee? That thou turnest thy spirit against God: Wilt thou turn such a mocker, as to let loose thy spirit not only against us, but against God? Thy words reflect on God's justice, and thou condemns him in justifying thyself, all which proceeds on a mistake, as if God's justice could not be defended, except Job took with it, that he was a wicked man. He goes on in the debate, and from verse 14. to the end, prosecutes his old thesis. I. None can be clean or innocent, therefore not Job, and this he follows forth to verse 17. 2. Then he applies the argument to Job, but in a secret way, giving a number of evidences of the wicked man, which he would have Job taking to him. 3. He gives some predictions, or threatenings of judgement, and closes with a reason why Job will perish in that way if he shall continue in it.

I. He proves from man's corruption (which Job had asserted before) that man cannot be righteous. What is corrupt man but an unclean branch, come off an undean stock, therefore he cannot be righteous, verse 14. A second argument to prove that man is not innocent, is by comparison from the less to the more, verse 15. Behold he putteth no trust in his saints, &c. God is so spotless pure, that holy angels and the congregation of heaven, being compared with the infinite and independent hounds of God, they are unclean; he trusts not in them, that is, he lippens not to their standing to themselves, but by his power sustains them, and if they be unclean, how much more man; for they have never sinned actually as man, who verse 16. drinketh in sin, as the ox does water; as the beans are set on their meat and drink, so is man on sin. The argument is a truth in the general, but it includes nothing against Job.

II. He applies this to Job, and because it was a hard doctrine to bear on Job that he was a hypocrite, he prefaces to verse 20. Take heed says he, what I am going to tell thee, even that which I have seen and heard, not of fools, but wise men, who have had it from their fathers, verse 17, 18. and these the most renowned fathers, verse 19. that is, these who lived after the flood; it seems Noah's sons. It is a truth that all generations have received, or unto whom alone the earth was given, may point out the dignity of these fathers, that others of the world made judges, and they ruled so well, that they keeped the earth from being overrun by strangers. The former seems to be the more simple meaning of the words. Then he gives marks, whereby to know the hypocrite; and subjoins the sad dispensations he meets with, whereunto he knits his sins as causes of these dispensations. 1. A wicked man is all his days in pain and misery. The number of his years are hid to the oppressor, that is, they are determined and appointed in God's secret counsel to the oppressor, as thou art to be a prey to the Sabeans and Chaldeans, verse 20. A second evidence is, verse 21. he has ay the terror of God and an ill conscience pursuing him; and though he come to prosperity, he shall be destroyed, and get no rest; and it is so with you Job. A third evidence is, verse 22. a wicked man in a strait, has no hope of recovery, trows never to win out of it, but grows desperate in his poverty, and after poverty the sword comes, and such is your case; yea, a wicked man, verse 23. has not to entertain himself and his family, and he is so compassed with straits, that he wots not how to subsist; and is it not so with you? and verse 24. he amplifies, the same evidence: Not only shall he be in straits, and hopeless of outgate, but trouble and anguish shall overcome him, and all his stoutness shall be laid, and he shall turn impatient and be able to take no comfort (as chapter iv.) to himself that used to comfort others, and these judgements shall come upon him as a king in battle. But either, 1. This is not truth; thir things are not proper to all wicked men, for good men may meet with them sometimes. Or, 2. It is nor true that for Job's hypocrisy and wickedness he was so afflicted. 

In the second part of this part of the chapter contains the second part of the wicked man's description in his sinful carriage. And verse 25. 1. He will not stand to enter in contest with God, and stands out and will  not humble himself before God; yea, verse 26. he is so far from yielding to God, that when God comes against him, he strengthens himself, like a mad man, and runs desperately on God, by not submitting to him; and he gives a reason of this, verse 27. Because he covers his face with fatness. Because while he had prosperity, he was a man given to ease, and pleasure, and carnal delights, Psalm lxxiii. 7. Their face stands out with fatness. A second cause is, verse 28. He dwells in desolate houses, that is, he builds ruinous and desolate cities and houses. He is that rich that he is able to buy and build them, or, the cities and houses which by oppression he has made desolate and taken possession of; and upon this ground scorns to submit to God, and this was your condition Job.

III. The third part of the debate is, by threatenings and predictions of judgement, whereby he would terrify Job. The first is, verse 29. whatever that man does, he shall not continue rich, but God shall bring a curse on all that he hath. We may win to a sort of perfection in riches, but he shall not prolong it. A second is, verse 30. He shall not depart out of darkness; when God has marred his prosperity, and brought him into the darkness of adversity and trouble, he shall keep him in it, and the judgement of God shall be like a fire to burn up his branches, yea, by God's indignation, shall he pass away. A third is, by way of advice, verse 31. Seeing it is so, that he who thinks much of riches which is but vanity, shall have a deceitful bargain, let not such a man as you beguile yourself in trusting to them. A good advice if well applied. A fourth is, verse 32. which may be an aggravation of the former threatening from the suddenness of it. God's judgement shall take him away before the ordinary course of nature, and his children like the olive that casts the fruit ere the flower be off it, verse 33. and so hath it been with you. And he closes with a general threatening, that bears a challenge not obscurely against Job; as it is with you, so shall it be with all hypocrites, as they had families like congregations, and God scattered them, so hath he done with you; and in this challenge, bribery is laid to Job's charge, as chapter xxii. 6. Yea, the wicked take much pains, and have little profit of it ; they hatch sin, and bring forth a lye, and do neither good to themselves nor others, verse 34, 35. and so it is with you. But Eliphaz defends a wrong thesis, and mistakes the question, for, 1. Job never called himself an innocent man, tho' he would not grant he was a hypocrite. He goes on wrong grounds to prove Job a hypocrite from temporal judgements, because the godly and hypocrites partake alike in these. 3. He charges unwarrantably secret and great sins on Job, whereof he had no evidence, but because he was so afflicted, as in the following chapter. 4. He heightens a number of Job's expressions, that had infirmity in them to the highest pitch, as evidences of unbroken nature.

I. That such an approven and sincere man, one that was aiming at the honour of God, mistakes Job so far, and uses such hot expressions, that neither tended to the honour of God, nor the edification of Job. It teaches us a holy soberness and Christian meekness and wisdom in our carriage, especially in our debates and contests with men of integrity. How may it humble folks to look on thir men bearing out this dispute against Job, and yet honest in their aim, and following their light, and as confident of their own cause, as if all Job's expressions had been wind. Therefore seeing we are apt to go wrong, and to maintain our wrong, be sober and wail our steps at the entry.

II. That he says, let not him that is deceived trust in vanity. It is a good advice in it self, worthy to be laid to heart, we have gotten experience of the vanity of all things, of outward peace, of grandeur at home and abroad, of external ordinances when dotted, of armies of men, of wisdom and self-confidence, &c. Then let us not who are deceived trust any more to vanity; let us not fall foully in that fault over again, in making men our confidence, either to fear us from duty, or to shelter ourselves under them; but let us make God our fear and our dread, and we !hall not need to fear man's fear.