CHAPTER 17.

YE remember the thing Job is defending, and the purpose; he speaks to two things, Eliphaz insisted on chapter xv. 1. To bear in on Job, that he was an hypocrite, and a wicked man, because of the sad things which came on him. 2. He had an exhortation to Job, to turn to God with promises of an outgate. In this chapter Job speaks to both.

In the former chapter, he answers their charge, and his answer runs upon two things. That it was true he suffered these things, he grants. But, 2dly. That he suffered them as a wicked man, he denies to the verse I7. and confirms it with vehement asseverations to the end.

In the beginning of this chapter to verse 6. he shews the reasons why he was so vehement in his asseverations, and to interpose God to take the matter off their hands. That it was no presumption nor self-confidence, but the nearness he was unto the grave, put him to it, which he hinted at, verse 16. of the former chapter, and it is the same he is on here, My breath is corrupt, my days are extinct, the graves are ready for me. I am that near the grave, that the rottenness of my breath is not far off. I am as sure of it, as if it were made for me, verse 1. A second reason, why he is so vehement in pressing God to judge the matter now depending, because his friends made not earnest of it, verse 3. Are there not mockers with me? They mock me, and doth not mine eye continue, or, (as the word is,) lodge in their provocation? Their mocking is their provocation, and his eye lodging in it, is his eye being always on it, to point out how vexing it was to him, like that word, Psalm xlii. As a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me, while they say continually unto me, Where is thy God? He could not abide to have

that cast up to him. Therefore in verse 3. he resumes his speech in obscure words, Lay down now, put me in surety with thee, who is he that will strike hands with me? Take the words as spoken to God, the meaning is, seeing it is so, that these men are mockers, and have no understanding to decide the matter, (as in the following verse,) Lay down a pledge, and put me in surety with thee, thou wilt be law biding. It is spoken after the manner of men. He is content God himself come and speak, and if God will deal with him, as one man with another, he will venture to plead his cause before God. But take the words as spoken to Eliphaz, and the rest, the meaning is, Ye take on you to dispute this cause, but see if ye dare lay down a pledge, and find me a surety to plead it before God. The scope is one, and expresses Job's desire, the cause may be taken off their hand, he gives a reason, verse 4. which clears the exposition, For thou hast hid their heart from understanding; they take not the matter up right, for it is like thou hast deserted them, so as they cannot take it up, and the following words, therefore shalt thou not exalt them, expresses Job's confidence to gain the cause, as if he said, I am sure if it come before God, he will not justify them, and send them away as victors. And verse 5. is an instance that his friends will lose the cause, He that speaks flattery to his friends, even the eyes of his children shall fail. In the 13th and 14th chapters, he charged them for speaking for an ill cause, because their end was good in speaking for God; he shews here, that that will be no reason for them so to plead, for God loves not that men should hide truth for feud or favour, were it even for that end, to plead for God. The man that does so, God's curse will come on him and his. The words are a proverbial speech, wherein he hints at their end in pleading against him, to wit, their minding of God's honour, seeing no way to justify God, but by proving him an hypocrite, and this he calls flattering.

The second way how he answers them is this, that tho' it were for no injustice in him that he was so afflicted, yet he knew that God had good ends for it; and therefore, verse 6, 7. he repeats his misery, I am become a byword, and they make merry of me, who aforetime was a tabret 60, that is, I was ridiculed behind backs in my prosperous condition, and much more now in my adversity, Mine eye also is dim by reason of sorrow, and all my members are as a shadow. I am come to the shadow of a man, and lest they should say, Are not these tokens of God's wrath upon you? He answers, verse 8, 9 Upright men shall be astonished at this, &c. They will marvel how all this is come upon me, and will wonder at the deep draughts of God's sovereignty in this his dealing with me, and the wise ends he hath in it in reference to his people; and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite. This shall be another use of God's dealing with me, the upright man that meets with many rubs in following the way of righteousness, shall have my affliction to beat down that opinion, that the hypocrite is ever plagued, and the godly in prosperity; for he shall say, Job was a godly man, and yet his affliction was greater nor mine; hypocrites draw their arguments from success to prove their cause, and reason thus, your cause hath no success, therefore God loves you not, but the honest man shall have a ground to bear out himself by God's dealing with me, verse 9. The righteous shall hold on his way. The man that hath a good cause by my example shall be encouraged to stick to it, and shall not stumble because he meets with affliction when he looks on me. And a fourth expression as the end of the former, He that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger. He that hath a good cause and conscience shall be always more and more bold, and learn meekness, patience, and perseverance from God's dealing with me. It is like God had given him some secret intimation; what he was to make out of his affliction, as James verse  11. and when he hath laid down his answers, he gives them his advice, verse 10. leave ye this gate ye are on, for ye are like fools not in the right way, like the prodigal out of your wit, come to yourself again, for I have not found one wise man among you in this matter. From the 11th verse to the end of the chapter, he goes on to answer the fecklesness of their motives, whereby they stirred him up to repentance. My days are past, &c. ye did not use these motives to me, my days are past, and I am at an end; My purposes are broken, I had many lawful designs to improve my substance for the advantage of my children, but now these are broken, I am cutted short of them, the occasion of them is taken away; Even the thoughts of my heart, the thoughts that were in my mind, how to dispose of my family and children, I have nothing ado with them, my mind is off them now. 2. They change the night into day, verse 12. They, that is, his afflictions, or friends, put him out of a condition of worldly comfort, for he gets no rest night nor day. The light is short because of darkness, when the day comes, my troubles make the day dark. The third answer is, verse 13. which he follows out to the end. If I wait, the grave is mine house, if I wait for ought what can I expect? The grave is the house I wait for, and to take up lodging in it ere it be long, I have made my bed in the darkness, i.e. the grave, because folks that are in the grave are forgotten and out of mind. This he illustrates, verse 14. I have said to corruption, thou art my father, corruption is the witness that is in the gave, or the corrupt principle that is in the flesh, that turns folk into dust and rottenness. I have said, saith he, that I came of such corruption, I claim so far kindred to it that it is my father, I came of it, and will go to it again. And to the worm, thou art my mother and sister, I claim no kindred to noble folks, but as I have called corruption my father, so I say of the worms, they are as my mother and sisters, we will dwell in one house, and they will feed upon me ere long; and if it be so, where is now my hope? What think ye is my condition? Where is there any hope that I shall live? Is there any worldly hope in me that I shall come through this? Who shall see it i.e. none shall see it. They shall go down to the bars of the pit, any poor grandeur I could expect shall be locked up in the grave with me, all my worldly contentments and comforts shall then be gone; therefore these motives ye have brought from these things, are but weak and vain.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. He tenderly guides the matter, he began with corruption and ends with it. Observe. That right and frequent thoughts of folks frailty is a good awband61 against the outbreaking of corruption, pride, selfishness, idols, and worldly vanities. Job makes use of this meditation, to keep him tender before God, humble in himself, and without reflecting on his friends; what makes folks proud, but either unfrequent thoughts of their mortality, as if they had no sibness62 to the worms, or that they will not be brought to account and reckoning. Think on it, Job was as noble as any of you, and at this time it would lay folks anxiety and freting, and put them to other thoughts if they were looking to the earth, and to the worms that will eat out their eyes ere long. I will not be long ere thou and the worms will both dwell in a rotten chest together, and thy belly will be full of them, and the worm will think itself as gentle as any of the highest blood. 

II. From Job's vehement desire to be at God with his cause. Observe. That faith daily promises good to itself from God. Job thinks ay to win the cause when it shall come before him, and this is a reason why strong faith gives glory to God, because it expects ay some noble thing from God; little faith, limiting God is derogatory to God, but strong faith, like Abraham's, Romans iv. that dare hazard on God, especially in a strait, argues much estimation of God, and gives much honour to God.

III. From the second part of this answer. Observe. That there is scarcely any misery men can think of, but it may be incident to the people of God, were it to be a proverb and mocking stock; there is no outward dispensation of Cod but it may befal the godly, which casts all the debate of his friends.

IV. The end Job mentions for God's dispensation with him, not that, he hath a mind to censure sin; but, 1. To make men wonder at God's wisdom, and to lay their pride. 2. To strengthen innocent folks, who are to succumb in affliction, Job tells, that in afflicting him, he had a mind to strengthen their faith and patience. 3. To remove a stumbling block out of mens way, who are ready to be scarred from a good turn by affliction; Job has ridden the ford before them, that they may not fear for that. 4. That folks may labour for clean hands, or a good conscience, and not stand upon what success they get, all which are, verse 8, 9. and shews what use should be made of the affliction of God's people; others have been afflicted to give us these lessons at a cheap rate, 

V. He says, verse 10. He cannot find a wise man among them, because being engaged they were not fit to determine the case rightly. Observe: Oft-times folks engaged in debates run themselves out of breath, and put themselves out of capacity to judge of matters, therefore folks would be warry to engage where they are not clear.

VI. On the last part, Observe. When folks come to the grave, worldly contentments will have little comfort or relish with them. What is my hope? or, What do I now expect from these things? To teach us how far he was above these temporal contentments they propounded to him, while folks have health and strength, they will not think the world can have so little bulk with them; but when all folks designs are broken and laid by, the worth of the world, and all that is in it will be seen; therefore use the world as if ye used it not: Be as pilgrims and stranger in it, and be not entangled with it. He that will be rich falls in many snares, and pierces himself through with many sorrows; it is a pest that destroys many, and leads far more souls to hell, than either malignancy or sectarianism.