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" or no, consistently with God's justiçez good men could
be afflicted in this life, this declaratioit ought to have finished the debate: but if the question were concera:
ing the personal innocence of Tob, it was no wonder that “they still sung their old song, and went on as they had
begun, to condemn their old afflicted friend, since it “was in the power of God alone to explore the hearts " of men, and to know for certain whether it was. Job's
piety that rightly applied a consolation, or whether it
was his vanity that arrogated: a false confidence to “ hiinself.
“ This difficulty therefore being removed, namely, why “ his friends were not immediately "put to silence when " Jub had so solemnly and magnificently talked of a “future judgment, nothing hinders us from applying " that celcbrated text cap. xi, not to a temporal resti" tution to his former condition, but to a resurrection to " eternal life. But if, to the arguments brought by our
Comnientator, you add also those, which a writer “above all praise, the present Bishop of Sarum, hath
most beautifully interwoven in his Dissertation on the
Opinion of the Ancients concerning the Circumstances “ and Consequences of the Lapse of Mankind, I'believe you “ will want nothing to confirm you in the opinion of the
antiquity of the book, and my sense of this most “perplexed passage.” Thus far the very candid and learned writer; who will not be displeased with me for examining the reasons he hath here offered against my explanation of the book of Job.
Tle begins with saying, that I have by many arguments sutjiciently specious, erideavoured to prove that the whole book of job is dramatical and allegorical, yet founded in true history, and written by Esdra in solace of the Jews, &c. And then immediately subjoins, Now in a matter very uncertuin, and which hitherto hath been made more : uncertain by the different opinions of learned nen, hardly uny hypothesis cun be thought of which will satisfy in all its pois. Let us attend to the opening of his cause, 1. I Je owns my hypothesis to be sutjicienily specious, and ver calls the subject, which this hypothesis explains; - a inailor very uncertain; nay, KITHERTO rendered more wiertain. --Py what? why, if you will believe himself,
by many arguments sufficiently specious; for this is the character he is pleased to give of these of mine, which fill up the measure of those different opinions, from whence so great uncertainty is accumulated. 2. He says that in an uncertain matter scarce any hypothesis can satisfy. Now, though this be a common-place thought, it is nevertheless a very false one. For it is only in uncertain matters that hypotheses are invented, to be applied, to account for the appearances of things: and sure it is not of the nature of an hypothesis to be unsatisfactory? 3. It is equally false that an uncertain matter is, otherwise than by accident, rendered more uncertain by diversity of opinions. For the greater the diversity is, the greater is the chance of coming to the truth: as the more roads men take in an uncertain way, the greater the likelihood of finding out the right. 4. It is not required in a satisfactory hypothesis that it should satisfy in all its parts: for then the greatest and most momentous truths would never be acquiesced in, since some of the fundamental points of religion, natural and -revealed, do not satisfy in all their parts; there being inexplicable objections even to demonstrative propositions. 5. But what is strangest of all
, though he says hardly any hypothesis can be thought of which will satisfy in all its parts; yet, before he comes to the end of his paragraph, he has found one that does satisfy: and, stranger still
, it is the common one, whose incapacity of giving satisfaction was the reason for the critics excogitating so many different ones. However, in this hypothesis he rests, like a prudent man as he is. Therefore (says he) as I am of their opinion who think the book of Job the oldest in the canon, so I am fully persuaded that it was written by Moses himself, who took it from authentic records, and put it into the dress of poetry. Indeed, to make way through so much doubt and uncertainty, to an opinion he may find his account in, he has kept a wicket open by the insertion of the particle vir; vix ulla forsan hypothesis but this will scarce serve his purpose; for the reasons why hardly any hypothesis can satisfy, extend as well to that he has given as to those he has rejected: unless he will suppose the rest to be discredited by dissenting from
that, and not thut from the rest : which perhaps after all may be his thoughit.
ile proceeds--and on this our opinion a good account may be given of all those' texts, if any such there be, wherein allusion is made to the Jewish law or history before ithe book was written, no less than if we shcule allow it to have been written by Esdra, of whom the bourned think differently. Now, not to insist upon this, that the common hypothesis, here followed, which makes A loses the author, supposes him to have wrote it before his mission; and consequently, before the Jewish law and
affairs, alluded to, were given and transacted: not, I say, to insist on this, though no probable reason can be assigned for Nioses's writing such a work but for the people in captivity; I will readily allow that Moses might write any thing that happened to him or his people, in or before his administration, as easily as Esdra could do. :But the question is, which of the two is most likely to have done so. Our Author grants this to be a work of imitation, or of the drainatic kind; in which the manners and adventures of the persons acting are to be represented. Now could Moses 'inistake, or, in such a work, give without mistaking, the history of his own time for the history of Job's ? that is, make Job speak of the Egyptian darkness, or the passage of the Red Sea? Adventures of the writer's own archieving. Esdra indeed either way inight well do this, as he lived so many ayes atter the facts in question. Could Euripides, for example, have been so absurd' as to make Orestes and Clytocmnestra speak of his own time or actions ? Though he might, without much absurdity, have made them mix the mapners, or allude to some adventures of the time of Druco. But our Author's caution deserves commendation; if (says he) there be ariy such: the use of this is evident, that if his ow'll solution will not hold, he may be at liberty to deny the thing itsc!f. But what he means, by observing it, in discredit of Esdra's claim, that learned an think diffcreritly of him, as if they did not think ditterently of Moses too, is, I conless, not so evident.
Ile goes on--- And as to those places, which in the opinion of the cuthor of the D. L. rifer to histories of later
times, such as the sickness and recovery of Hezekially chap. xxxiii. ver, 25. and the destruction of the Assyrian army, chap. xxxiv. ver. 20. it will sufficiently uppeur", by the notes to which I refer the reader, that there is no need to understand them in this sense, and that they are more commodiously understood otherwise. On this point I agree to join issue with him, and to refer inyself to the judgment of the public.si * Further, (says the) that the work is dramatical, or, to speak nove properly, a true history in the form of a dran, and adorned with a poetical dress, was always my opinion: but thut 'any allegory lies i under it, I can by no means persuade myself to believe; because not only the aye et the writer, but the very scope of the book (as far as I caii see) leads us to canclude other ise. As to the
SCOLE of the book, we shall examine that matter by and by: but his otlrer argument, from the age of the writer, deserves no examination at all, as it is a downright begging the question ; which is concerning the writer and his age. Now these, by reason of the writer's silence, being un. certain, must be determined by the subject and circume stances of the work, which are certain: for our Author, therefore, to disprove a circumstance, brought to determine the question, by an argunent in which the question is taken for granted, I should think unfair, were it not become the authorized logic of all those, writers who give their own opinions for principles. It rests then at last
, we see, in his belief and persuasion: and this is always regulated on the belief and persuasion of those who went before. Thus he believes the book to be dramatical, because others have believed so too: tie believes it not to be állegorical, because he could find no other in that bclief before the Autior of the D. L. + But let us now hear what he has to say concerning the scope of the book.
For us to what this Writer [the Author of the D. L. says that the main question handled in the book of Job is whether good happens to the good, and evil to evil muen, or whether both happen not promiscuously to both; and thut this question (a very foreign one to us, and therefore the less attended to).could never be the subject of disputation any where but in the land of. Judea, yor, there neither ut
any other time than that which he assigns; all this, I say, depends on the truth of his hypothesis, and is, in my opinion, far otherwise. That which depends on the truth of an hypothesis has, indeed, generally speaking, a very slender foundation: and I am partly of opinion it was the common prejudice against this support, that inclined our Author to give iny notions no better. But he should have been a little more careful in timing bis observation: for, as it happens, what I have shewn to be the subject of the book, is so far from depending on the truth of my hypothesis, that the truth of my hypothesis depends on what I have shewn to be the subject of the book; and very fitly so, as every reasonable hypothesis should be supported on fact. Now I appeal to the whole learned world, whether it be not as clear a fact that the subject of the book of Job is whether good happens to the good, and evil to evil men, or whether both happen not promiscuously to both; as that the subject of the first book of Tusculan Disputations is de contemnenda morte. On this I establishi my hypothesis, that the book of Job must have been written about the time of Esdra, because no other assignable time can be suited to the subject. But 'tis possible I may mistake what he calls my hypothesis: for aught I know he may understand not that of the book of Job, but that of the book of the Divine Legue tion. And then, by my hypothesis, he must mean the great religious principle 1 endeavour to evince, THAT THE JEWS WERE IN REALITY UNDER AN EXTRAORDINARY PROVIDENCE. But it will be paying me a very unusual compliment to call that my hypothesis which the Bible was written to testify; which all Christians profess to believe; and which none but Infidels directly deny. However, if this be the hypothesis he means, I need desire no better a support. But the truth is, my interpretation of the book of Job seeks support from nothing but those common rules of grammar and logic on which the sense of all kinds of writings are or ought to be interpreted.
He goes on in this manner, For the sole purpose of the sacred Writer seems to me to be this, to compose a work that should remain a perpetual document of humility urid patience to al gocd men in affliction, from this two