CHAPTER 35.

THIS is the third discourse of Elihu, wherein he is seeking, though not to convince Job of the sinfulness of his state, yet of sinfulness in words, expression, and carriage under this trial.

This chapter follows on the former charge, and in it he challenges Job for being too much in reflecting on God's justice, and in justifying himself; he takes up his charge, verse 2. Thinkest thou this to be right that thou saidst, my righteousness is more than God's? Thinks thou thyself righteous in this, that in thy heart, or in expressions, thou should reflect on the justice of God? which thou hast done in maintaining thy own righteousness more than his. And because this was an odious charge, he hints at some of Job's words, verse 3, which are almost the same that he charged Job with in the ninth verse of the former chapter, as the ground of this charge; the words are not spoken by Job, and far less in the sense that Elihu would put upon them; for Job debated against his friends, that all things temporal came alike to good and bad; and hence Elihu concludes, that Job said there was no profit to be had in seeking God; or more particularly look to chapter x. verse 15. Job had said, If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet would I not lift up my head, meaning he would boast nothing though he had the testimony of a good conscience; from which words Elihu mistaking Job's meaning, concludes, that he had  rubbed on God's righteousness, and sets himself to confute this. And, 1. he confutes it from verse 4. to ver, 9. by shewing the disparity betwixt God and Job, and therefore that it sets him not to bound God, I will answer thee, and thy companions with thee; I will answer thee, and thy friends, or any that will take thy part. And the first ground he lays is, verse 5. Look unto the heavens, Job, ye think the heavens high, and they are indeed higher than you, but God's sovereignty and absoluteness is above both heaven and earth, and will ye bound God, or bid him handle you otherwise? Will ye bind God by any thing that ye can do to a more favourable dealing? Is there any thing in you to procure that at God's hand? He instances the contrary.1. In Job's sin, verse 6. If thou sinnest, what dost thou against him? Can thy wickedness reach to wrong God? Thou may wrong a man like thyself, and before men thou may wrong God by being accessory to his dishonour, but it cannot reach him. 2dly, In Job's good deeds, verse 7. If thou be righteous, what givest thou him? Or put any stamp of majesty on God, and if thou canst; not add to him, thou oughtest to lay no band upon him. He amplifies this, verse 8. a man may help another man like himself, as he may hurt a man like himself, but it will not follow on that, that he can either hurt God by his sin, or help God by his righteousness. He goes on to remove a second error in Job, verse 9. which comes in as an answer to an objection which might be moved against what he hath said formerly for refutation of Job, his reflecting on God's justice, as he supposes Job had said, chapter xxiv. 12. Men groan from out of the city, and the soul of the wounded crieth out, by reason of the oppression of wicked men, yet God layeth not folly to them, that is, he calls them not presently to a reckoning; Elihu answers to this, and, 1. he concedes and grants, that it is true indeed, that oppression is rife, and many that are opprest with heavy burdens, cry to God for, help by reason of that oppression, and are not delivered; but it will not hence follow,

that God is unjust. Therefore, 2dly, he gives a reason why though they cry, God hears them not, verse 10. because they cry not right, None sayeth, where is God my maker, who giveth songs in the night? That is, many will cry in adversity to God for help out of it, few whereof have prayed to God in prosperity, or acknowledged their Maker, for giving them matter of songs of praise; or few acknowledge him in their delivery out of straits, for turning their difficulties to the matter of a song; or for giving them a morning after a night, to lie down and rise in health and peace, and it is just with God to misken them, who only cry to him in their adversity; and miskens him in prosperity; and in this he reflects on Job, as being more in crying now to God, nor he was before when it went better with him. And a second reason is, ver.11. as if he said, it may be indeed that such men cry to God in adversity, but there is not in these men a marking and observing of God's mercies to men more than to beasts and fowls; in teaching men more than the beasts of the earth, and making them wiser than the fowls of heaven, and hereby he proves there is no sincerity in their crying or prayers. A third reason is, verse 12. Because of the pride of evil men, that is, though they be under affliction and oppression their proud heart is not humbled in them; therefore they cry, but get not an answer, because for all their poverty they keep still their proud humour. A fourth reason is, verse 13. Surely God will not hear vanity, neither will the Almighty regard it; their prayers are not only such as flow from proud men, but they are vainly put up, and let such men cry as long as they please, God will not take notice of them nor their prayers. Then he removes a third objection, verse 14. Job had said, chapter xxxiii. 9, 10. That though God was on his right and left-hand working, yet he could not perceive him, wherein he seems to regrete, God took not notice of him? Elihu answers, that is not inconsistent with God's righteousness; though he sees not how, yet God is just, for judgement is before him, that is, tho’ thou see not the particular cause of God's proceeding, yet he hath a solid ground of proceeding, which is known to him: Therefore, Deuteronomy xxxii. 4. it is said, All his ways are judgement; he is a God of truth, and without iniquity, just and right is he; he has a wise end before him, and a righteous rule he walks by, therefore condemn not God, but though ye see not the reasons of his working, trust in him, in a time wherein ye are in the dark. In the fifteen and sixteenth verses, he closes this part of the confutation with a sharp regrete and challenge; as if he said, But what shall I say, this is not Job's case, he is not yet made to submit to God, therefore though God has visited him in anger, he is not made to acknowledge God's hand in it; and he closes with a censure, Therefore Job opens his mouth in vain, and multiplies words without knowledge, that is, because he takes not up God rightly in his passion, he speaks things that he knows not, and vents words to no purpose or profit. Elihu in his censure he is somewhat sharp by knitting consequences to Job's words that they will not bear, for his words will bear another sense than he put upon them, though they were passionately exprest and unadvisedly, though not intending either to rub on God, or to justify himself; yet we will find Elihu rather free than rash in judging, he speaks not of Job's hypocrisy or blasphemy as his friends did.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. Observe. When folks enter on contests, they had need to take heed of reflections on either hand, knowing they are prone to weigh things severely, and to charge persons with more hard consequences nor their words will bear; to lay too much weight on expressions, when there is no ground to bear it out.

II. On the second part observe a few things. And, 1. on verse 10. compared with the former, mark, That oppression makes many folks pray and cry to God, while as there may be little sense of God or his goodness, and little or no religion in the heart, as in Jonah's companions in the ship, and Psl. xviii. 41. They cried, but there was none to save, even to the Lord, but he answered them not; and Psalm lxxviii. 34. When he slew them, then they sought him, and returned and enquired early after God; but there was much unsoundness for all that, They did flatter him with their tongue, for their heart was not right with him, &c. Take not every fit of warmness under a cross for an evidence of soundness, or a work of grace; fits of that kind may be, where there is nothing of the knowledge or acknowledgment of God.

III. Observe. It is a far better evidence of honesty and sincerity to acknowledge God, and think of him in prosperity, than to pray and cry to him in adversity. The one is more commendable than the other; they that will cry, as would seem affectionately in adversity, may as Jeshurun kick against God, when they are filled in prosperity, and have little mind of God.

IV, Observe. That one of the causes why our prayers are shut out in a strait and difficulty is, little watchfulness and thankfulness to God, when the stroke is keeped off us, we make few errands purposely to thank him.

V. From verse 11. Observe: That the common mercies that men have beside, or beyond the beasts and fowls, are great ground of thankfulness; that we are men and not beasts, that we have reason to look to heaven, and consider who made them, &c. are mercies which we undervalue.

VI. It is a great part of mens unthankfulness when they do not acknowledge common mercies, when they are not thought upon as they ought; we know not sometimes what may have influence on God's not hearing of our prayers, but certainly neglect of thankfulness, not blessing God that we are not beasts, has no small influence, and we had need to observe and mend thir faults.

VII. God would be in a special way acknowledged in every particular man's mercies, or we would not hold our mercies as common, but as particular to us, God teaches this mainly, that man should acknowledge his particular teaching of him, as if never another man were taught but he.

VIII. Upon verse 14. Observe: 1. When God keeps up himself under affliction, we are given to fear that we will never get a sight of him, that he will not hear prayer any more; though Job believed to see a Redeemer at the last day, yet he is put to think he shall never see God hear away, for he thought the grave was waiting for him. 2. But we ought to compose our hearts in the faith of this, that God is doing well to us, whether we see him or not. Therefore, Isaiah xxx. 18. he is said to be a God of judgement, that is, a God that knows how to tryst, his manifesting and keeping up of himself, the times of his coming and going. Therefore the conclusion follows, Blessed are they that wait for him.

IX. Therefore trust thou in him, he first sets himself to vindicate God, as ordering his way with judgement, and then bids trust God. Observe: That good thoughts of God's way is a notable ground and motive for upstiring to trust in him, a notable ground to confirm faith in him; there is nothing that fosters misbelief more, nor mistakes and jealousies of God, and his way, and the end he hath before him in working, and it is a great encouragement to faith to get right thoughts of God's way settled in the heart.

X. On verse 15. But now because it is not so, &c. this is a great aggravation of Job's trial, that not only his three friends, but even Elihu also quarrels his faith; only it is with this difference, his three other friends questioned his state, but Elihu questions his faith only in this particular trial; he will not say, Job hath no faith, but he trusts not God in this particular, and it is like this discourse hath been a new fet86 to Job. Observe: It is not one of the best trials to a soul under affliction, when they are fighting the fight of faith, to be set on with this temptation, that their faith is no faith: And, looking on Elihu, his discourse, there is something wherein this temptation comes carried along to Job in it.

XI. Job is not humbled, saith he, therefore he opens his mouth in vain, Observe. That while folks profit not by the rod, are not humbled under afflicttion, it will vent wrong with them, they will utter words to no purpose that had better been keeped in; folks had need to improve a particular cross well, for if it further not mortification, It will bring forth bitter-outbreakings, and leave the person in a worse condition nor it found him.