CHAPTER 16.

THE former chapter was a sharp challenge against Job, and contains very many long reproaches. In this and the following chapter Job returns his answer to what Eliphaz bare upon him. And 1. We have Job's reproof of his friends unkindly way of dealing with him to the 6th verse of this chapter. And 2. more particularly, he answers to what Eliphaz said to the end of chapter xvii. The grounds whereupon he reproves them are, 1. Their troublesome insisting on the same mistakes or grounds, verse 2. It is not the first time I have heard these things, Miserable comforters are ye all, In the original it is, Comforters of trouble are ye all. Either ye have no skill to comfort me, or ye vex me by renewing words that have no power nor strength, for the end ye speak them for. A second is, verse 3. what need you repeat these things ye have said before? They are but words of wind, and what emboldens you to speak them over again, what encouragement have ye gotten so to do? Did he so well to it, or got ye any advantage? 3. He shews them in verse 4, 5. that he would not have dealt so with them. He tells them he would not have spoken to them, as they did to him, he could have heaped up words against them, and shaken his head and laughen at them; but if they had been in his case, he would not have done so, but he could have strengthened and comforted them, and would have been so far from aggravating their grief, that he would have mitigated it.

From the 6th verse to the end, he goes on in answering Eliphaz, who in his discourse did run upon two grounds. 1. Comparing Job in his affliction to an afflicted wicked man. 2. Comparing him in his practices to wicked men, to whom he was like, as he alledged. To both these Job answers. He answers to the first to verse I5. that it is true he was afflicted as a wicked man, but it will not follow that therefore he is wicked. To the second he answers verse 15, 16. that he dealt stubbornly with God in his practice as a wicked man, that he denies, and then from verse 16. to the end he disclaims his conclusion, That he suffered there hard things as a hypocrite, and confirms the negative, by several arguments. 1. He grants he was in trouble, and if he debated, he was not the better, and if he held his peace, he was not in ease, and verse 7. shews wherein his trouble lay. He hath made me weary, that is, God, meaning, so long as he is pleased to keep up the blessing from the means, they will do no good, whereupon he turns him to God, and says, Thou hast made desolate all my company, that is, it is not men that I have to do with, it is not the Sabeans and Chaldeans that have scattered my family, and put us sundry; but it is thou, and beside that, my prosperous condition is changed, this body of mine is filled with wrinkles, that commonly accompany old age and poverty, and these are a witness that God is angry with me, as chapter X. verse I 7. and by these he seems to bear witness for my friends, and this he repeats to the same purpose, My leanness rising up, bears witness to my face. If I should say my condition were not hard, my countenance should prove I lye, I deny not that, and therefore the second part of his condition, verse 9. he sets it out in man's dealing with him. He teareth me in his wrath, who hateth me, he gnashetb upon me, &c. All expressions to point out, how every one that hated him got leave to take their will of him, as Psalm xxxvii. 12. When the violent hatred of the wicked against the godly is set out under this expression, He sharpeneth his eyes upon me; it is a reviving to the light of his eye, he feedeth on it, or it is a fiery look, to point out the inward hatred of the wicked, and it may take in Job's friends as dealing roughly with him; yea, verse 10. They gaped upon me with their mouth, as men that laugh and say, Aha, they have smitten me upon thy cheek reproachfully, i. e.' They have buffetted me with their ill tongues tho' they held off their hands. They have gathered themselves, &c. Like as men combined to carry on my affliction, God hath delivered my unto the ungodly, verse it. All this is come upon me by God's providence. This I deny not. All my substance is devoured by the Sabeans, Chaldeans, &c. The third part of his condition is the saddest; he grants, ver, 12. that God evidences his anger as an enemy. I was at ease, but God has broken me asunder, in respect of body, mind and family. He hath also taken me by the neck, and shaken me to pieces. He hath done with me as a strong man that is angry with another: And set me up as his mark or butt, at whom he shoots the arrows of his judgements, for he hath so many judgements, and every one of them lights upon me, and sticks into me, as a dart time about. He cleaves my reins, &c. verse 13. a similitude taken from the most vital part of the body, and he does not spare. He poureth out my gall on the ground, he seems to have no restraint till he have the life out. He breaks me, &c. verse 14.. He goes on upon or against me with new judgements, as if the former were not enough; And makes breach upon breach, or death upon death, wanting words to set out, what he would say; yea, he comes upon me, like a giant, for strength and terror, as if presently he would put out my life; expressing what sense he had of God's dealings.

In the 15th and 16th verses, he answers to Eliphaz his second alledgance, shewing what his carriage was, I have sewed sackcloth on my skin, or to my skin, that is, I did nor contest with God as ye said, chapter xv, ver, 25. and my garment stuck to my skin, and I defiled, my horn in the dust; I laid down that which is excellent and eminent in man, and humbled myself before God. Yea, verse 16: the foulness of my face that has dust and tears on it, tells that I am a humble man; and on my eyelids is the shadow of death, my eyes are so hollow, that the picture of death is on my eye-lids.

In the last place, he comes to disclaim his conclusion, that for all this it will not follow that he is an unjust and wicked man, therefore in the 17th verse, he gives a flat denial to his conclusion; it is not for any injustice, be the cause what it will, it is not for the cause ye say. It is for no injustice in respect of my state, for I am reconciled to God; nor is it for injustice in my practice, I am no violent oppressor nor briber, also my profession is sound,

and my prayer is pure in the kind, though not without sin, my practice is sincere. And because much of the weight of the debate lay on this, he confirms it by arguments. 1. If I be an oppressor, then let not the earth cover my blood and oppression, verse 18  As the blood Cain shed cried for vengeance, so let mine; as Isaiah xxvi. 21. If be a wicked man as ye call me, I attest the earth not to conceal, but disclose my wickedness. 2. And let not my cry have place. If I be the man ye call me, let not God hear my prayer, and if I were not clear, I would not attest God thus. Yea, verse 19. I am sure to win the cause, my witness is in heaven, I have a surer judge and witness than either you or my conscience, he is in heaven, who hath all my actions recorded, and I lippen59 to him. A third argument verse 20. My friends scorn me, ye laugh at all this, and think nothing of my attesting God, but are ready to scorn me (as some expressions, chapter xv. verse 7. seem to bear out) but when ye scorn, I betake myself to God. Mine eye poureth out tears to him, I have a melting spirit, and there is a venting of it to God that gives me some ease. A fourth argument, verse 22. O that one might plead for a man with God, &c. It is true (would he say) God is without our bounds, and man cannot plead with him, but O that it were so, that a man might plead with God, for if it were thus; I durst venture my cause upon him. Ver. 22. When a few years are come, &c. It is subjoined as an amplification or aggravation of the former argument, ye will not believe me now when I speak sincerely, but it will be but a short time till I come before God, where my cause will be cleared, though it should not he in this world, and when I am taken away, I will not return ; there will be no upmaking of what is behind then, therefore I dare not dissemble now.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. In general, consider Job's way of answering, the longer the temptation continue, he never alters, but,  goes upon the same ground. Observe. That the temptation of shaking one's state and interest in God renewing itself, and being often repeated, folks should by all means labour to keep their ground, and not give it way; if folks wrestle a while with such a temptation, and get no victory, if the temptation be reiterated, they are given to question victories, because the devil sets on again, and it may be more sharply; but ye would remember not to quite your ground, whom resist stedfast in the faith, I Pet. verse 9. keep faith as your shield. The temptation being the same, stick to your ground.

II. From Job's way of answering, in granting what is true, and denying what is false. Observe. That in every temptation readily there are two things, 1. A true ground. 2. A false conclusion from it. Satan will say, Thou art in such a condition, therefore thou art not a child of God. Learn then with Job to grant the ground, but to deny the conclusion; see it also in the woman of Canaan, she is said to be without the covenant, and called a dog; and she grants it is true, yet the pleads that that there is some allowance for such. Therefore because something is true, do not believe all this is true. It is suggested, there is much unmortified sin in thee, thou hast been so long under ordinances, and has not thriven, yea, thou art backsliden. It may be all is true, yet the conclusion will not follow, therefore thou hast nothing ado with God.

III. On the terribleness of God to Job. Observe, That God may show himself terrible, and yet not be angry at the person. He may set thee up as his butt, cleave thy reins asunder, pour out thy gall, run upon thee

like a lion or giant, and yet keep love. Therefore measure not God's love even by his spiritual dispensations, as if God loved nor when he looks angry-like. Our senses are not good judges. It is not right reasoning to say, God lays his heavy hand upon me, therefore he will not look upon me. What if Job reasoned so? 2. It should stir up folks to consider what God's terribleness will be, when he has no love, and comes to render vengeance to all that know him not. When the fierceness of his countenance shall make all the families of the earth to mourn, who believes God is a consuming fire, Hebrews xii. 29. What will he be to the wicked?

IV. Job's sincerity bears him out in all this. Observe: The efficacy of sincerity, and an inward testimony of conscience can keep the soul quiet; and hold a grip of God in the greatest trouble, anxiety and grief. Therefore a good conscience is a rich reward and worth itself. The meek shall inherit the earth, if folks knew the worth of this, they would study above all things to keep a good conscience before God and men.

V. The vehemency of Job's asseverations, and using them so frequently, and doubling them, is to let us see that it is holy wisdom, and no presumption when temptation is so violent, and presses violently for the soul not to deny its interest in God, but to assert it the more confidently, and take in fair upon him the head and score of God's grace, (so to speak) and in a sort to presume, I say not, presumption is lawful at any time, but because faith will then be presumption to sense; we would set ourselves to do that which seems presumption, to ride near on that side, when the wind blows to such a shore to ply against it; so strong is the way of believing, that the more it be born down, it breaks the more out, God help us to keep the right midst.