CHAPTER 38.

YE have heard a very long debate, and a very sad part of Job's exercise was in that debate betwixt him and his friends, Elihu a by-stander comes in some way as more abstracted than the rest from prejudices and he hath spoken pertinently, though somewhat rigidly and severely, and yet it seems the turn is not done, Job's exercise is not yet at an end, nor is the effect of all produced.

Therefore the Lord having raised a whirl-wind, and the air spreak his terror, he comes in himself to speak to Job immediately; and as there is great odds betwixt God and men, so there is a difference in the manner of expression, the Lord's speech here savouring of majesty and greatness.

There are three parts of the Lord's expostulation with Job, and every one of them hath a little challenge or preface. The first part is in the xxxviii. and xxxix. chapters, and the challenge is in the second verse of this chapter. The second part is chapter xl. the challenge is in the second verse, and Job's answer to it, verse 3, 4, 5. The third part is, chapter xl. from verse 6. and forward throughout the xli. chapter, and the challenge is verse 8. of chapter xl.

For the first, it is said; Then the Lord answered Job, it is God not speaking mediately by men, as before,. but immediately himself; and he speaks not to Elihu, nor to Job's friends, but to Job himself: And God steps in here, 1. To make known the weight and power of his own word, and to affect Job with it, for though it be spoken by man or angel, it proves ineffectual till God speak it. 2dly, He hath a mind to compleat Job's trial, and Job having declined his friends, and appealed to God, thinking God would say nothing against him, the Lord comes in, and brings the debate to a higher pitch for his humiliation. He takes him to Job first, because Job was the man mainly to be tried, and that he had a respect unto, and that he minded to leave a pattern of patience to after ages. 2. Because he had a mind to deal more sharply with his friends, therefore he will keep up the evidence of his greater respect to Job, and will first humble and compose him, to fit him to be an auditor when he should rebuke his friends. 3. Job seems as yet scarcely composed to bide God's sentence of and for hiinself, his heat and passion that were like weeds among his graces must be wed out, and therefore he must first be humbled, and these must be allayed and mortified ere he speak comfortably to him, and give him a testimony of his respect.

The challenges are holden forth, and they are three, and the first is, verse 2. the ground of the other two. 1. Who is this, (in a majestic way), that darkens counsel by words without knowledge? Who is this that speaks of the sovereignty, wisdom, and providence of God in guiding the world, but darkning it by ignorance, un-advisedness and rashness, and so spotting and bemuding the native beauty of the wisdom of God? Who is this that by words without knowledge, so mars the beauty of God's wisdoin and providence speaking unadvisedly and precipitantly? And this is the challenge Job takes with in the close of the debate. 

The following of the challenge comes next, and there is a difference betwixt God's challenging Job, and his friends challenging him. His first three friends challenges him for an hypocrite, Elihu holds off that, yet is very sharp; but God moderates his challenge more than any of them, and speaks without any rigidity and bitterness. He proceeds to debate, verse 3. Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me; ye have been speaking much of your desire to speak with me, and have said, ye would answer me, as chapter xiii. 2. and chapter xxiii. 3, 4. Now, demand of me, and I will answer, a fair offer; but it may be Job had no mind that God would thus appear, when he wished before to have God to speak with; and because they had long garments in these countries, they used to gird them up when they wrestled, God bids him gird up his loins like a man, and make him for it; as if he said, Job, ye have been asking me to reason with you, now make yourself ready, and I will ask a question at you, and he propones a number of questions to him, the scope whereof is to show Job had unadvisedly spoken in desiring to debate with God; every question hath there two in it. 1st. A holding forth of majesty and wisdom in God. 2dly, Infirmity and weakness in Job and all creatures, and thir two being compared, God's majesty, wisdom, eternity, and absoluteness, with man's infirmity and weakness, the conclusion is; is it meet then, Job, that ye thould offer to dispute with me. The first question is from God's creating the world, in a similitude of the building of an house; and first he speaks of the foundation of it, Where wast thou when I laid the foundation of the earth; declare, if thou hast understanding. Job, gave ye me counsel when I made the world? which is hung upon nothing, and yet stands as stable and firm as if it were founded on a foundation; and when a foundation is laid, the line uses to be stretched out on it, so a line is spoken of here, verse 5. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or, as it is in the original, because thou knowest, a sad check to Job, as if he had said, a man that takes upon him to speak as you do, must know all these things; Who has laid the corner-stone thereof, following forth the same similitude, Where wait thou Job when I promoved the building of the world? When the morning stars sang together? verse 7. This is to set out the excellency and glory of the work, the praise whereof belongs to the worker. Take them literally, the stars, and the sons of God, that is the angels, acknowledged me their maker when I made the world, and where was ye when that excellent harmony and music was among the creatures, and the angels, in the beginning of the creation, wondering at my wisdom and power in the making of all things, and think ye nothing of that creature that the angels praised me so for? He proceeds in verse 8. to the sea, Who shut up the sea with doors? When the waters were as it were issuing out of the earth, and spreading over the earth, who locked them up as a man within doors? Who guides this tumultuous, raging creatures? verse 9. When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddling-band for it; who has sweelled92 it up, and laid it in a cradle, as a man does a child, and who hath by mist and thick clouds, covered it as with a garment, as a woman does a child when the sweels it up, and lays it down to sleep? And when he hath drawn it off the earth, he makes a decreed place like a cradle for it, to keep it in, verse 9, 10. and God's decree and command, his efficacious sentence past on it, Hitherto sha11 thou come, and no further, is the main, bar to it, verse 11. Hast thou commanded the morning since thy days? It is ordinary to see the morning after the night, but have ye had a hand in it? made ye ever a day? commanded ye ever a day to come? and every day that comes after a night, shews the efficacy of God's word, verse 12. That it might take hold of the ends of the earth, he sets out the ends why God commands the day after the night in verse 13. And, 1. generally, that it may enlighten all and miss no part of the world. 2. More particularly, that wicked men that love darkness, wherein to work wickedness may flee away, as if they were shaken out of the earth; then in two excellent metaphors, he sets out the coming of the day, and the effects it hath on the earth. The first, ver.14. It is turned as clay to the seal, when the day comes, the earth takes impression of the light, as clay does the impression of the seal. And, 2. They stand as a garment, the flowers then put on a garment, they put on their cloaths, and stand up as it were decked, that lowred in the night. And, verse 15. he sets out another effect of the light, from the wicked, their power and arm is brought to ruin by God's judgement on them. when it comes. He proceeds and comes again to the sea, verse 16. Hast thou entered into the kings of the sea? Job,

ye take upon you to debate with me, but could ye search out the depths or springs of the sea? Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? verse 17. He speaks of the depths of the sea, as of the gates of death, to show the hazard that any would be in to go down there, or to compare his absoluteness with Job. He hath the keys of hell and of death, (as it is spoken of Christ, Revelation i. 18.) which Job had not; and (if would, the Lord say) ye think the sea hard, I will come to the dry land. Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? knowest thou it at all? verse 18. knowest thou the breadth of the earth, importing men may well guess at, but cannot perfectly know it, and yet God is broader than the earth. And he has a new question, verse 19. Where is the way where light dwelleth and as for darkness,  where is the place thereof? Where is all. the light when the darkness comes? and when the morning comes where is the darkness? can ye know the place where either the light or the darkness is in keeping; words that bind on Job, and all men, that they have enough ado at home every day, if they would give their mind to think on the works of God. That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof,  verse 20. Can ye tell where the light or darkness are, that ye may set a lodging to them, ye cannot guide or direct one of these little common things, and how then will ye, or can ye take upon you to guide or direct me, Knowest thou it because thou wast then born? Can ye, who are but from yesterday search out these things? can ye censure them that were so many years before you? he speaks by the way of holy Irony, to affect Job the more, for if Job had been born at the creation of the world, it had been enough for him to take upon him to speak so to God, or to propose such questions about his works, and more nor he was able to do. A new question, verse 22. Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow, or of the hail? Know ye the treasure or power of these creatures? And, verse 23. he sets out his absoluteness from the use he makes, of them, Which I have reserved against the time of trouble and battle; he keeps the snow and hail to execute vengeance on them that will contend with him, as we see in his plaguing of Egypt, therefore Job would beware to contend with God. A new question, verse 23. By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Can ye tell who, or what way is the morning light parted, that some think in these years had an east wind with it, Who has divided the water course? Whether was it ye, or I, that hath provided water courses for the rains when they come, that they may ran in channels, and not overflow the earth? And who directs a way to the thunder for the passing and lightning of it; and the last circumstance that concerns it, To cause it to rain on the earth where no man is; a, further explication of the first part of the question, telling, that where there is no man dwelling he causes the rain to come, to make the very wilderness fruitful; he has a care of his own land where no man takes pains that it be not unfruitful, but will satisfy the waste ground with showers; to make herbs spring forth, verse 27.

And an admirable question, verse 22. Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of the dew? how is the rain and dew begotten? whether has ye or I been the father of it? out of whose womb come the ice? who is the first cause of it? the maker and orderer of the ice and frost? The waters are hard as a stone, the waters that were liquid before, by frost are made like a stone, that man and beast may go upon it; and that is an instance and evidence of the power of God. Another question of another kind, to set out further God's power and absoluteness, and his infirmity and weakness, Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades? These are the four stars, or constellations that have a special influence on the four seasons of the year. 1. Pleiades, a word that comes from sailing, for at the spring time, (on which this constellation has influence), folks set forth to sea, and the earth spring with flowers. 2. Orion is the winter, and the word comes from folly or inconstancy, because of the inconstancy of the weather when this star rises, which is commonly called the tail of the bear. Can ye, says he, hinder the spring, or bring the winter? 3. Mazzaroth answers to summer, and chapter ix. 9. is called the chambers of the south, because that time is most hot. 4. Arcturus, and his sons, is one great liar, and some lesser stars waiting on it, ye cannot guide, mend, nor alter a season of the year, and how will ye direct me? know ye what command I laid on the stars? wast thou my counsellor when I gave them orders? and can ye make their influences effectual? he reserves the fixing of their dominion and their influence to himself, verse 33. and then verse 34. Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof on the earth? Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? Canst thou call for rain, and will the weather obey thee? or will the lightning obey or take orders from thee as it will do from me? Who has put wisdom in the inward parts, who makes men wise? is it not I? and think ye then meet that man that hath but a bit of wit should take on him to debate with me. Can ye number the clouds, or can ye stay one drop of rain? verse 37. when the dust groweth into darkness, that is, when drought cometh, importing Job could do nothing either to the keeping up of the rain, nor the making of it fail. Then from verse 39. of this to the end of the next chapter, he speaks of his sovereignty over the beasts, fishes or fowls. Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? Is the lion fed on thy expences? neither the old nor the young lion gets any meat but as God provides it for them. When they couch in their dens, whether thro' infirmity or policy, it is God that provides for them, who provides for the ravens their food. Another instance of his providence in reference to fowls, though the ravens have a faculty of providing meat for themselves, yet God must find it out, and when the old beasts or crows are seeking meat, and the young ones cry out, God hears them, and here God acknowledges a creature-right that beasts and fowls have, it is he that feeds the crows. From all which, God would convince Job of his infirmity and weakness, and that it became him to speak more reverently of him.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. Here see and acknowledge God's condescendence to a poor and passionate man. 2. See a glance of the majesty of God, from his own mouth, and how majesticly and stately he speaks. 3. See how warry folks would be in passing sentence on God. 4. When folks are liberal in their discourses under dispensations, they often darken counsel by words without knowledge.

II. It should teach us to study more to reason ourselves to right thoughts of God, by retorting, such questions upon ourselves, and the Lord is the larger in them for this very end, for though Job spoke of thir things to his friends before, yet he had not learned to draw some good lessons out of them. God would by all this learn folks to drink in the thoughts of his greatness from his works of day and night, rain, snow, &c. out of every thing to be getting some lesson, and the great lesson of all is to exalt God and abase the creature; a suitable frame for us to be in, and that would keep us from many debordings93 that we are ready to fall out in.