CHAPTER 33.

WE heard of Elihu, his large preface in the former chapter, in this he comes more particularly to the faults he did find in Job's discourse, and he hath, 1. A preface to verse 8. wherein he makes way to have what he was to say well taken off his hand by Job. 2dly, He tells what he found fault with, from verse 8. to verse 12. and verse 1. draws his conclusion. There are the grounds of his confutation to the last three verses, wherein he closes his first speech.

He turns him from Job's friends to speak to Job himself, intending to speak what he conceived Job had need of, and knowing there might, be prejudice taken at him, he being a young man, he gives two or three reasons of his freedom. 1st. His sincerity, that it was not passion, nor any by-end that moved him to speak, but that what he was to say should be out of the uprightness of his heart; that he minded to be both free and tender. A second reason, that which I am to speak shall be so clear, that it shall not abide much dispute, and when ye have heard it, ye will not think your attention ill bestowed, verse 1, 2, 3. A third reason is, verse 4. hearken to what I am going to say, for I am a man, and but a man as one of yourselves. The first half of the verse shews how his body was formed by the power of God, and the next half shews how his soul was, and how the souls of all men are formed, by God's breathing in their nostrils the breath of life. He amplifies this reason from two grounds, 1. That seeing he was but a man, he would draw up his words in order, and come to the field like a soldier if he had ought to say, The word is borrowed from a ranking of men, verse 5. The second ground is, verse 6, 7. as if he said, Job ye wished, chapter ix. 33 and xxiii. 3. to have God to plead with, that he might lay aside his terror, and ye would reason your cause with him. Now these two conditions ye sought of God are here, I am a man as ye are, and my terror will not make you afraid, I cannot break you with judgement, as ye complain God hath done, therefore come forth and debate the matter if ye can.

2dly, He lays down that which he minded mainly to refute in general, verse 8. I am not to tell thee what others hath told me of thee, nor to tell over the passages of thy life, but what thou hast spoken in my hearing. 2. He sets down what he observed Job spake, and three particulars he pitches on. 1. In the 9th verse ye said, I am clean without transgression, ye have spoken, as if there had been no guilt in you, and as if God had afflicted you without cause, which he gathered from 

Job's words, chapter xxiii. 11, 12. and chapter ix. 22. and chapter xvi. 17. wherein Job asserted his integrity against his friends; but Elihu thinks he keeped no measure. A second fault is, verse 10. behold he finds occasions against me, he counts me for his enemy, Job ye quarrel with God, as if God had been picking a quarrel against you, when there was no just reason or cause, and this he gathered from his words, chapter ix. 23, 32, 34. and chapter xvi. 12, 13, 14. and chapter xiv. I7, 18. when he seemed to say, God had gone back far to seek a quarrel against him. A third fault is, verse 11. that he had complained God had used him roughly, and taken an uncouth way with him, and they are Job's words, chapter xiii. 27. and xiv. 16.

3dly, From verse 12. to verse 13. he confutes Job as wrong two ways. 1. In justifying himself so far. 2. In quarreling with God; and first he passes sentence in the general, verse 12. Behold in this thou art not just! I will not pass sentence upon thee in respect of thy state or interest in God, but in this thou hast failed, and he gives a reason of it, God is greater than man; ye think to limit God within your narrow conception, but God is greater than man, that is, God is boundless and incomprehensible, both in himself, and in respect of our uptaking the grounds of his proceeding, and therefore thou must not condemn him, though thou cannot take them up; or it has this force, though ye, nor no man can see the reasons of God's dealing with you, yet God sees further, and knows well why he hath dealt so with you, 1 John iii. 20. If our heart, condemns us, God is greater than our heart. 2Corinthians iv. 4. I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified; I cannot say, that I am righteous for all that before God; A second reason is, verse 13. set down by way of expostulation, what a folly is it for thee to enter in the lists with God? Does he give an account of any of his matters?

And is it in a word befitting you to come in and call God to a reckoning? A third ground or reason is, verse 14. though ye know not the reasons of God's proceeding, do not blame him for that; for there are many things to teach God's mind to man, but the fault is in man that takes him not up; and not in God, for God speaks once; yea, twice, yet man perceiveth not; through his ignorance and dulness he takes not up God's mind. This ground he follows out largely to verse 29. where it is summed up; and which is the conclusion of all betwixt this and that; as is he said, tho' ye know not what God is doing in afflicting man, yet he knows, and his end is to do men much good, to keep them from fin and their own ruin. To make out this he lays down several grounds; the first is taken from God's secret way of revealing himself to men in dreams and night visions; verse 15. as if he said, whether God speak by dreams or visions, by rods or mediate messengers, God is teaching men the use and end of his dealing; and he is often teaching men when they are sleeping. It is like he hath respect to the time before the law was written, when God spake to men by visions and dreams; as he did to Abimelech and others, He opens their ear, and sealeth their instrutction, ver, 16. They, that when they were waking could not take this lesson, he tells them in at the ear in their sleep, and he seals it up, or puts a mark upon it, that when they waken they know it is he that has appeared to them, and hath been teaching them. The 17 and 18 verses, may he read either with that which goes before, or with that which follows them, for it is the end of both, as if he said, God's end in this way of chastening and speaking in apparitions to men, is to withdraw them from their purpose; the original it is; to keep to keep or withdraw man from his work, for it is man's work to work wickedness according to his ability. 2dly, To hide pride from man; to hide a thing is to make it as is it were not, so to hide pride from man is to make him humble; by removing that which he was given to be proud of; and when man is proud of riches, God takes them away, and leaves him nothing to be proud of. A third end, He keeps back his soul from the pit, by this means he keeps man from destruction, which he would have run to if he had wanted, this bridle of affliction to restrain him; from verse 19. to verse 23. he sets out and describes sickness, as one of the ordinary afflictions whereby God humbles man, for it is not easy to hide pride from man, and keep him from the pit, therefore when the word does not the turn, (which he hath spoken of before), he sends rods, and particularly the rod of sickness, verse 19. and chastens him with pain on his bed, yea, sends pain in his hones, wherein his strength lies; and this pain torments him, that what he affected before he cannot bide to see it, verse 20. his appetite is marred, and he cannot bide dainty meat, and such curiosities as he was up taken with in health. 2. His flesh is consumed, or melts away, verse 21. and he is like one anatomized, and his bones are seen through his skin. The third effect is, verse 22. he is brought so low, that he is like a man half dead ready to be carried to his grave, and to the destroyers, that is, to the worms, the commend end and destruction of all men; they are called destroyers, as these that seed on men when they are in the grave. He shews the use of and mean by which God brings about the benefits of affliction to men, verse 23, 24. If there be a messenger with him, &c. as if he said, it is not sickness alone that benefits men, but when Gad blesseth the word in the mouth of a sent minister, (an interpreter one of a thousand, because every one is not meet to speak to man in that condition) in telling him the way to win to peace with God, and to be accepted through Christ's righteousness, which is his uprightness.

Which is the great scope that all God's messengers should have before them, when God thus trists84 with sickness, and his sent minister together, and adds his blessing then, verse 24. God follows the quarrel no more, but is gracious to the afflicted person, and says; Deliver him from going down to the pit; either it is a word warranting God's messenger to speak comfort and a comfortable outgate, or it is God's intimating a word of his own to the soul of the afflicted man, as David says, Say to my soul, I am thy salvation. And the ground upon which is this, I have found a ransom, I am satisfied. A second benefit is verse 25. the man that before was like to die is restored. It is like to temporary and bodily health as in these times, but if that missed, eternal life was made sure. A third benefit, verse 26. He shall pray, and God will hear him which he did before. And a fourth benefit, He shall see his face with joy, he shall get communion with God in prayer; not only shall God take his prayer off his hand, but he shall intimate so much to him, and smile on him, and make him look hearsomly to God again as his father. And he gives a reason of this, for he will render unto man his righteousness; when man takes this way of seeking to God, he will keep his promise to him; and not deal hardly with him. A confirmation of this is, verse 27. God is the most easy to be entreated, and soonest made friends with of any, for he looketh, or hath an eye upon men, and if any say, I have sinned, if any will reflect on their way, and take with their guilt, and acknowledge they have gone wrong, and would fain be home at God, God is ready to deliver; whether from temporal or eternal, but mainly from eternal death and destruction, verse 28. and in due time he makes this known unto them. Then in the 29 th and 30th verses, we have the sum of the argument, Lo, all these things God worketh oftentimes with manto bring back his soul from the pit; whether God teach; or correct, or show mercy; (as he takes all these ways with men, some of them with one, some with another; and all of them with some), it is to keep man from eternal destruction: This is the sum of Elihu's reasons, whereby he would confute Job, and would say this much, that if he knew the good that God was doing to him by affliction; he would be silent in submission.

4thly, He hath an exhortation to Job, to mark this well and hearken to him, and it is backed with reasons, verse 31, 32, 33. The first reason is, look if this be not true that I have said to thee, and so speak the contrary if thou canst. The second reason is from his respect to him and freedom with him: He was not set to condemn him as an ungenerate man; nay, he was set to justify him. 3. If this that he hath said be clear, that he hath nothing to say against it, he bids Job hear him out, for he hath more to say yet.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. See what should be man's carriage in reference to God's sovereignty. It is good to walk with God as greater than man, as one that is incomprehensible in the reasons of his dispensations. This puts a bridle on man's corruptions, that are ready to fall out under an hard trial or exercise.

II. One of the great things God aims at in all his dispensations, is to do the persons of men good, to hide pride from them, to humble them, to keep them from sin and destruction; and we may by this know when God's dispensations are for our good, when they prevent the occasions of sin, or take away occasions of sin, or humble, and draw in to God.

III. He knits chastening and the messenger together, and counts it a great mercy when affliction and the word of the gospel is joined, and so it is; it might have been said, affliction is common, therefore he subjoins to the rod, the messenger, and makes it a good token that the rod is to do some good when the messenger is beside to speak a word; when God afflicts, and gives a word, count it a mercy, Psalm xciv. 12. Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, and teachest out of thy law; and know that our reckoning will be the greater, and we the more inexcuseable, when both the rod and word are joined, if use be not made of it.