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TOB, a prince, residing in the land Uz, is represented, in the beginning
of this sacred poetical history, as a favourite of heaven, and one who
was as happy, as an uninterrupted series of sublunary enjoyments could possibly make him. On a sudden; however, Satan by divine permission, for the trial of his patience, and the exercise of his other heroic virtues, is permitted to render him as remarkably miserable, as he was superlatively happy just before.
After this sudden revolution; his wife, as an aggravation of his misery, urges him to renounce all trust and confidence in the Almighty, to despair of all hopes of any aid or assistance from him ; and, in short, to put a period to his days and his agonizing pains at once : but without the least hesitation, he severely reprimands her, for giving him such impious as well as foolish counsel.
Soon after, three of his most intimate friends, persons not only of illustrious birth, but of distinguished wisdom and virtue ; namely ELIPHAZ, BILDAD, and ZOPHAR, visit him by way of consolation. ELIHU, another professed friend, had waited on him, in all probability, some time before. Their intention was doubtless good and laudable, but after a long and profound Glence, and upon mature deliberation, they concluded, that since afflictions were the natural result of impiety, and since the divine vengeance frequently overtook such nations and families as were profligate and abandoned, that notwithltanding Job was to all outward appearance a very upright man, yet he mult, doubtless, be guilty of some very enormous, though secret fin; for if that was not the case, they thought it absolutely inconsistent with divine mercy and justice, to permit any one, who was strictly and truely religious, to be plunged into such an abyss' of troubles. This is the topick they labour to de monstrate ; and consequently, press it very home, in hopes, by dint of argument, to bring him to an ingenuous ackpowledgment of his misconduct, and
a sincere sorrow and contrition for it; upon which they imagined, as they frequently hinted, that God would vouchsafe to withdraw his afflicting hand, would incline his ear with pity to his complaints, and restore him to his former state of health, prosperity and grandeur.
Job, on the other hand, being conscious of the integrity of his heart, and his inoffensive deportment towards God and man; and consequently, altogether undeserving of the bitter intimations of his friends, endeavours to vindicate his conduct; and assures them, that they entertained dishonourable no. tions of him ; that their heavy accusations were false and groundless; that they perfectly mistook his case, and pursued wrong measures for the alleviation of his sorrows; for he was fully convinced, notwithstanding they persisted in maintaining the contrary, that God Almighty, for reasons best known to himself, did frequently afflict the most strictly virtuous, and that too, with the utmost severity; and at the same time, permitted the most profligate and abandoned to live in a state of affluence and ease. And that consequently, no argument could fairly be drawn from the misfortunes that attend a man, that would prove him to be more immortal or irreligious than his neighbours.
No sooner were their debates concluded, but Elihu, who though a young man, was endowed with more than common knowledge, having modestly forbore to speak a long time, and listned with all due attention to the arguments that were produced on both sides the question, assumes at last the character of MODERATOR, and proposes to reconcile the point in dispute between them. In order to set matters in the most impartial light, he allows, on the one hand, that the position which ELIPHAZ and his companions had advanced was in a great measure just; namely, that immorality, and a pro. fligate course of life were odious and abominable in the fight of God; and that divine vengeance did frequently overtake those who presumed to oppose his sacred will; on the other, however, he denies, that Job, from that con. cession, might with justice be censured and condemned as a profligate, and ir. religious person ; since the Almighty oftentimes, for wise ends and purposes, afflicts the sons of men, notwithstanding they are shining examples of the most heroic virtue: and though he allows that JOB might not be guilty of hypocrisy, or the commission of any other enormous sin, yet still he highly blames him for his restless and impatient deportment under the afflicting hand of divine providence, and holds him inexcusable for the bold and unguarded exprellions which he took the liberty to utter, wherein he seems to charge the
Almighty with dealing inconsistently with his two darling attributes, his justice and his mercy.
After this, God himself moft graciously condescends to take the subjectmatter of their controversy in hand, and to bring it to a final decision. In fhort, he reproves Eliphaz and his friends for their two partial and uncharitable cenfures of his servant Job in the midst of his distress; and at the same times reproves JOB for his unjust murmurs and complaints, in regard to the ways of providence, which are too intricate and unsearchable for human comprehension : on the comparison, however, he declares in favour of Job, that his cause was by far the best, and that he had in reality spoken with more reverential awe and respect of the divine majesty, and had teftified a more chearful submission to his fovereign will, than either of his friends, al. luding, in all probability, to that remarkable conclusion of his rebuke to his restless and impatient wife ; namely, WHAT! SHALL WE RECEIVE GOOD AT THE HAND OF GOD, AND SHALL WE NOT RECEIVE EVIL ?-Or perhaps to that passage where he says, -THE LORD GAVE, AND THE LORD HATH TAKEN AWAY ; BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD.
No sooner had God pronounced this definitive sentence, but Job's afflice tions are ended, his maladies cured, his adverse friends abashed, and as a fagnal reward of Faith and piety, the amount of his former worldly possessions is not only doubled, but his years extended to a longer period than was
ommon even in the age wherein he lived. Mr. Scort in his very laudable TRANSLATION of the book of Job in English verse, has summed up the CATASTROPHE in the following lines.
“ God call'd to Eliphaz: displeas'd I heard'
“ They all obey'd, and fought the pow'r divine ;
* Then God began the mourner to restore, ." And gave, and doubled what he gave before. “ His brethren, afters, friends, a cheerful band, “ With golden gifts in each faluting hand, .“ Crowded his house; on the rich feast regal'd, “ Condold his sorrows, his deliverance haild. “ Job now, beyond his former blessings blest, “ Number'd twice o'er the wealth he first possess'd : “ Seven sons his patriarchal sway rever'd “ His hou hold cares three lovely daughters cheer'd; “ Distinguish'd each, by some expressive name, “ All grac'd with beauty of unrival'd fame : " And each beyond a daughter's dowry shar'd, “ For each the portion of a brother heir’d. " Twice seventy years, from this bright æra, shed
Health and pure joys upon his favour'd head : “ His childrens' children flourish'd at his side, " Then, full of days, in hoary peace he dyd."
A PARA A
PA RA P H R A SE
BOOK op Jo B, .
c H A P. 1.
THIS CHAPTER IS DIVIDED INTO THREE DISTINCT SECTIONS.
TN the days of old, there dwelt a prince, Job, by name, at El
PARAN, in the Land of Uz, who was no less renowned for his
high birth, than for his heroic virtues. The Almighty therefore was pleased to bless him in such a very singular manner, that his outward prosperity bore some degree of proportion to the perVol. III, :