Chapter 4.

THERE is (as ye would think) a great part of Job's trial past, yet there follows as sharp, piercing and sifting part of it as any of the former. The great contest betwixt God and Satan is, Whether Job was an hypocrite, or not? And when this is brought out by any of the former trials, Satan wakens up a new debate by Job's friends, and gets them to further his end; and to impugn that thesis that there was any real grace in Job, to Job 4:32. And in this dispute, he defending, and they impugning, they go thrice about, except Zophar who speaks but twice. Then Elihu speaks from Job 4:32.; 33.; 34.; 35.; 36.; 37.; 38. And last the Lord himself comes in to decide the dispute, and first reproves Job, and then his friends, and vindicates Job, and puts him to make their peace, from Job 4:33.; to the end.

Ere we come to this chapter in particular, take some generals for clearing the whole dispute.

First, The great end of this trial is one with the former, that is, To bring Job's righteousness to light, and  to make it evident he is no hypocrite; yea, he must be made a compleat pattern of patience; therefore, three able, learned, and good men, must seem to combine together to bear him down, and God carries him thro', and makes his grace shine the brighter. But Satan's shot is the contrary, to get Job quitting his thesis, and to get him made an hypocrite out of his own mouth, and God condemned.

Secondly, Job's friends, their end is not to be subservient to Satan in his design, but, 1st, To vindicate God and justify him, and to rubb off these aspersions which job's expressions seemed to put upon him. 2dly, Their purpose is not to cast off Job; but as it is Job 4:19. of this chapter, and Job 4:8. of the next chapter, and often through this dispute, to humble, restore, and comfort Job; good intentions, but miscarrying in their way of dealing with him. 3dly, Their carriage and manner of proceeding both in this chapter, and in the most part of the grounds they go upon thro' the dispute, is drawn from God's justice and sovereignty, and experiences of God's dealing, that are in themselves sound, and being rightly taken up, may yield solid doctrines. But they fail, 

1. In the mistaking Job's condition, judging of his state from his infirmities in the height of his passion, as if grace could not stand with such expressions, and mistaking the disease, they misapply the cure; and therefore, Looking to the extraordinary stroke which was24 befallen him, they fall upon the hypothesis going from the thesis stretching the justice of God beyond, and drawing conclusions from the premises which they will not bear; from a temporary judgement, concluding eternal off-cutting. 

2. They misapply the most clear visions and sound truths; to obtain their point, to have Job down, and taking with it, that he was a hypocrite, that he might be humbled, and lay a new foundation. 

3. They carry on this with rough and uncharitable expressions toward Job, that should have been more tenderly dealt with, In this chapter Eliphaz mistaking Job's condition, makes way to mollify what he is to speak by prefacing in the first two verses, yet tells a necessity lay on him to censure his expressions, Who can withhold himself from speaking; but his fault is, that he goes from his expressions, to condemn his state; although supposing Job's condition to be that which he took it to he, he is right.

In the rest of the chapter he lays down three grounds to prove, That Job in respect of his state is not right, but none of them will bear it.

The first is from Job's impatience under the cross, to Job 4:7. as if he said, If grace in you had been real, it would have borne out in adversity as well as prosperity; and he proves Job to succumb in adversity, because the comfort he had given to others, he is not now able to take it to himself, but he faints and frets under his. affliction, which indeed inferred that Job was in a distemper, but not that he had no grace. Is not this thy fear, &c. that is, By this ye may see what kind of religion ye had, ye boasted meikle25 of God's protection before trouble came, and all was well with you, but where is it all now? ye seemed to he an upright man, and to have faith in God, but now it is seen to be nothing.

The second ground is from Job 4:7-12. wherein he proves Job could not be really gracious, because of the sad dispensations he was fallen under; and this ground he follows two ways. 1. He bids him consider, if ever a righteous man perished; take it totally, and eternally, the argument holds true; but it will not hold in respect of temporal judgement, and Job is not yet cut off nor perished; so that he draws a wrong conclusion from a true ground, and misapplies it to Job, Job 4:7; & Job 4:2. The second way how he follows out this argument is, by bringing in his own experience in observing the judgement of God that had in his time befallen the wicked before his eyes, Job 4:8-11. I have seen, says he, they who plough iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same; as they have hewed to themselves, and as they served God hypocritically, so the judgement of God came on them, Job 4:8. This argument he amplifies, Job 4:9. By the blast of God they perish &c. that is, The wicked man's portion, is an evident sign of his wrath, yea, the height of it, for let the wicked man be as strong as he will, like a lion, he shall be broken, Job 4:10. The best of them all when they have lived never so long, fall down, and their posterity shall he scattered, Job 4:11. Now there are sundry deceits in this argument, as, 

1. That from a temporal judgement he concludes Job to be a wicked man.

2. That he alledges all wicked men are so dealt with, because some are so handled. 

3. He is wrong in his application to Job, for Job is not yet cut off.

The third ground propounded is from a particular and immediate revelation, wherein there is first the circumstances to Job 4:17; whereby he prepares Job to hear, and from Job 4:17; holds forth the revelation or thing revealed to him. The scripture then not being written, God spoke to holy men immediately, and Eliphaz not knowing well how to answer Job, he tells how God taught him what to say; and his insisting to tell how it came to him, is not only to prepare Job to receive it, but to persuade him it was no counterfeit thing, but some divine majesty of God was let out upon him to fit him to receive the vision, and then shows what the word was that was revealed to him by that vision, Job 4:17. Shall mortal man be more just than God? A word that might have done Job good if rightly applied and made use of, for Elihu and God runs almost on the same grounds; but Eliphaz holds not at the condemning of some expressions and actions in Job, but runs in on the state of his person, and from his harsh expressions would bear upon him that he made himself more than God.

Always this holds true, That there is no man when he speaks with God but he shall have cause to justify him and it is most absurd to think the creature wiser in his way nor the Creator. This general doctrine he amplifies from the more to the less, verse 18, If angels contend with God, he will find folly in them. If we look on angels purity and compare it with God's, they are infinitely inferior to him in purity; or suppose angels would contend with God, they would not be found pare, How much less man, Job 4:19. The argument is followed in two or three instances or steps. 

1. If angels must not stand by their own strength, but God will find folly in them, if they should go to plead with God without acknowledging their dependence on him, how much less they that dwell in houses of clay. The angels in heaven would be charged with folly if they took such a way as thou takes, and how can thou or any man, that is but a silly bit, like a worm crawling among the ashes, and as easy to be crushed as a moth, begin to contend with God.

2. The argument is followed in a step further, Job 4:20. Angels are not subject to dying, but man is here the day and away the morrow, therefore much less can he be justified if he shall contend with God. And a third step, Job 4:21. Man that thinks much of himself when in health or strength, but a brash or fit of sickness takes him, and he and all his excellency is gone; he minds not his frailty till death come on him, and then he gets not time to mind it as he ought: So he concludes, If angels cannot be justified, much less man in contending with God, and therefore Job cannot be right in taking such a way, and the argument will bear this much, but not that Job has no grace.

 OBSERVATIONS.

I. In general observe, That in the Lord's righteous judgement and wisdom, Satan may oftimes prevail so far with good and able men, as to make use of them to serve his point and advance his end unawares. Thir men, without knowing of it, do so here, therefore beware of being swayed with good intentions in yourself, or with grace in good men to that which is not good in itself.

II. Satan prevails much, and thinks he gets great advantage when he gets use made of good men to drive his design. Paul and Barnabas were men full of the Holy Ghost, yet contention falls in, that sets them by the ears.

III. When good men fall by the ears in a debate readily and ordinarily they exceed. Paul and Barnabas waxed sharp in the contention; and if we look to this dispute, these things show the height of the contention. 

1. The rubbing expressions26 and reflections that the one has on the other. 

2. Harsh judging one of another. 

3. The more they dispute, the more each is confirmed in his own opinion, and are the more confident, a rife and ordinary evil. 

4. There is no taking away or closing of the dispute, nay not by Elihu, till the Lord himself come in, and yokes one of them to pray for another, a thing that should humble and make all to fear to enter on contentious disputing when such effects follow on it.

IV. There is no tentation whereby Satan gains his point more, neither any affliction more bitter to the people of God, nor when good men are yoked against good men in dispute. Therefore this comes in as Job's last trial when thir men takes his part against him. 

1. It says such a thing may be, especially when a people or person is low.

2. That it is a most prevailing tentation: And,

3. Very sharp and piercing, Acts 15:39. All Paul's suffering and dying at Jerusalem was not so burdensome as when good men would divert him from his duty, Acts 21:31. Think it not uncouth to meet with opposition from good men, but by all means labour to eschew it.

 From the general drift of this chapter

Observe: 

I. If a man maintain one mistake, an hundred will follow upon it; therefore take heed what ground we lay, to maintain a wrong ground will have many bad conclusions.

II. When a man has laid a wrong ground, he is giveth to use all the arguments he brings to maintain it. He will misapply right grounds to that end, as when a man takes a wrong rule to measure by, he will more readily cast the right rule then hold by it.

III. The most clear truth, though it were revealed by vision from God, may be misunderstood and wrested to a wrong end, when a man who is prejudged acts. It is like the Spirit said to these disciples, Paul would be bound, but they misapply it. Use truths soberly, drink them in sincerely; truth spoken from heaven will be wrested if prejudices get place. That is a good word, 2Peter 1:19. We have a more sure word of prophecy whereunto ye ought to take heed, &c. 

1. Be sober in searching for light.

2. Be wary how ye apply the mind of God in any thing made known, that ye draw not conclusions from it that God never intended, as is too often found in men that God gives gifts to in any measure by ordinary.

IV. However they misapply, this will hold good, It will be well with the righteous, and ill with the wicked. It will be well with them that worship God, and a curse will pursue them that do it not.