« EdellinenJatka »
fold consideration, as on the one hand of the infinite perfection, power, and wisdom of God; so on the other, og human corruption, imbecility, and ignorance, discovejas able even in the best of men. Such talk, in a sermon to his
. parish for the sake of a moral application, might be right: but to speak thus to the learned world, is surely aut of season. The critic will be apt to tell him he has inistaken the actor for the subject, and might on the same. prineiple as well conclude that the purpose of Virgil's. Poem is not the establishment of an empire in Italy, but the personal piety of Æneas. But to be a little more explicit as the peculiar nature of this work deinands.
The book of Job consists of two distinct parts; the. narrative, contained in the prologue and epilogue; and the argumentative, which composes the body of the work.. Now when the question is of the subject of a book, who ineans other than the body of it? Yet here our Author, by a strange fatality, mistaking the narrative part for the argumentative, gives us the subject of the Introduction: and Conclusion for that of the Work itself. And it is very true, that the beginning and the end do exbibit a perpetual document of humility and patience to all good: men in affliction. But it is as true, that the body of the Work neither does nor could exhibit any such document. First it does not; for, that humility and patience, which Job manifests before his entering into dispute, is skilceeded by rage and ostentation when he becomes heated with unreasonable opposition. Secondly, it could not ; because it is altogether argumentative; tlie subject of which must necessarily be a proposition deliated, and bot a document exemplified. A precept may be conveyed in history, but a disputation can exhibit only a debated question. I have shewn what that yurstion is; and lie, instead of proving that I have assigned a wrong one, goes about to persuade the reader, that there is no question
at alloc, am
He proceeds. For although in the speeches that occur. there be much talk of religion, virtue, and Providence, : of God's wisdom, justice, an:l holiness in the government of the world, of one principle of all things, and other": most important truths, yet that this which I hate assigned is the only scape of the book will difear manifest
to every one, as well from the beginning and the end as from the economy of the rehole. For to say all in a word, it first presents Job complaining, expostulating, and indulging himself in an ungovernable grief ; but soon after (when as the nature of the sacred Drama required, by the contradiction of his friends, and their sinister suspicions, he became more and more teased and irritated) rashly challenging God, and glorying in his own integrity: yet, at length brought back to a due submission and knowledge of himself. The reader now sees that all this is just as pertinent as if I should say, Mr. Chillingworth's famous book against Knot was not to prove the religion of Protestants a safe way to salvation, but to give the picture of an artful caviller and a candid dis- · puter. For, although, in the arguments that occur, there be much talk of Protestantisin, Popery, infallibility, a judge of controversies, fundamentals of faith, and other most important matters, yet that this which I have assigned is the only scope of the book, will appear manifest to every one, as well from the beginning and the end, as from the economy of the whole. For it first of all presents the sophist quibbling, chicaning, and indulging himself in all the imaginable methods of false reasoning; and soon after, as the course of disputation required, resting on his own authority, and loading his adversary with personal calumnies; yet at length, by the force of truth and good logic, brought back to the point, confuted, exposed, and put to silence. Now if I should say this of the hook of Chillingworth, would it not be as true, and as much to the purpone, as what our Author hath said of the book of Job? The matters in the discourse, of the Religion of Protestunts could not be treated as they are, without exhibiting the two characters of a sophist and a true logician. Nor could the matters in the book of Job be treated as they are, without exhibiting a good man in afflictions, complaining and expostulating, impatient under the contradiction of liís friends, yet at length brought back to a due submission, and knowledge ot himself. But therefore to make this the sole or chief scope of the book, (for in this he varies) is perverting all the rules of interpretation.--But what misled him we Have taken notice of above. And he himself points to
it, where he says, the subject I have assigned to the book of Job appears the true both from the BEGINNING and the END.
It is true, he adds, and from the economy of the whole likewise.
Which he endeavours to prove in this manner : -For it first presents Job complaining, expostulating, and indulging himself in an ungovernable grief:. but soon after (when, as the nature of the sacred Drama required, by the contradiction of his friends, and their sinister suspicions, he became more and more teased and irritated) rashly challenging God, and glorying in his own integrity: yet at length brought back to a due submission and knowledge of himself; and then at last, and not before, receiving from God both the reward and testimony of his uprightness. This is indeed a fair account of the conduct of the Drama. And from this it appears, first, that that which he assigns for the sole scope of the book, cannot be the true. For if its design were to give a perpetual document of humility and patience, how comes it to pass, that the author, in the execution of this desigti, represents Job .complaining, expostulating, and indulging himself in an ungovernable grief, rashly challenging God, and glorying in his own integrity ? Could a painter, think you, in order to represent the ease and safety of navigation, draw a vessel getting with much pains and difficulty into harbour, after having lost all her lading and been miserably torn and shatiered by a tempest? And yet you think a writer, in order to give a document of humility and patience, had suficiently discharged his plan if he made Job conclude resigned and submissive, though he had drawn bim turbulent, impatient, and almost blasphemous throughout the wbole piece. Secondly, it appears from the learned Author's account of the conduct of the Drama, that that which I have assigned for the sole scope of the book is the true. For it, in Job's distressful circumstance, the question concerning an equal or unequal Providence were to be debated : his friends, if they held the former part, must needs doubt of his integrity; this doubt wonld naturally provoke Job's indignation; and, when persisted in, cause him to fly out into the intenperate excesses so well described by our Author; yet conscious imoccuce would at length enable patience
all this, I say, it appears, that the personal integrit
to do its office, and the conclusive argument for his integrity would be his resignation and submission. The learned writer shuts up the argument thus. From
of Job, and not the question concerning an equal or unequal Providence, is the principal subject of the book. He had before only told us his opinion; and now, from his opinion, he says it appears. But appearances, we see, are deceitful; as indeed they will always be, when they arise only out of the fancy or inclination, and not from the real nature of things.
But he proceeds to push his advantages. For that [i. e. his personal integrity) it was which his friends doubted of, not so much on account of his affliction, as for the not bearing his affliction with patience, but complaining of the justice of God. And that he, who was an able adviser of others to fortitude and constancy, should, when his own trial came, sink under the stroke of his disasters.--But why not on account of his afflictions? Do not we find that even now, under this unequal distribution of things, censorious men (and such doubtless he will confess Job's comforters to have been) are but too apt to suspect great afflictions for the punishment of secret sins? How much more prone to the same suspicion would such men be in the time of Job, when the ways of Providence were more equal ? As to his impatience in bearing affliction, that symptom was altogether ambiguquis, and might as likely denote want of fortitude as want of innocence, and proceed as well from the pain of an ulcerated body as the anguish of a distracted conscience. Well
, our Author has brought the Patriarch thus far on his way to expose his bad temper. From hence he accompanies him to his place of rest; which, he makes to be in a bad argument. - Now when (says the learned Writer, the most grievous trial of all was added to the other crils of this holy person, to be condemned by his friends as a profligate, and an hypocrite, and to be deprired, as much as in them lay, of his only remaining support, the testimony of a good conscience, what was left for the unhappy mun to do? He accuses his friends of perfidy and cruelty; he calls upon God as the witness and avenger of his integrity; but when neither God
interposed to vindicate his innocence, nor his friends forbore to urge their harsh censures' und unjust accusations, he appeals to that last judgment, in which with the utmost confidence he affirms that he knew that his Redeemer would be present to him, and that God would declare in his favour. To understand the force of this representatiou, we must have in mind this unquestionable truth: “ That be the subject of the book what it will,
yet if the sacred Writer bring in the persons of the " Drama disputing, he will take care that they talk to the
purpose. Now we both agree that Job's friends had pretended to suspect his integrity. This suspicion it was Job's business to remove: and, if our Author's account of the subject be true, bis only business. To this end he offers various arguments, which failing of their effect, 'he, at last (as our Author will have it), appeals to the second coming of the Redeemer of Mankind. But was this likely to satisfy them? They demand a present solution of their doubts, and he sends them to a future judgment. Nor can our Author say, though he would insinuate, that this was such a sort of appeal as dispu
tants are soinetimes forced to have recourse to, when they are run aground and have nothing more to offer :
for Job, after this, proceeds in the dispute; and urges many other arguments with the utinost propriety. Indeed
there is one way, and but one, to make the appeal pertinent: and that is, to suppose our. Author mistaken, when he said that the personal integrity of Joh, and not the question concerning' an equal or unequal Providence, u'as the main subject of the botk : and we may venture to suppose so without niuch danger of doing him wrong: for, the doctrine of a future judgment affords a principio whereon to determine the question of an equal or uriegual Providence; but leaves the personal integrity of Job just as it found it, but the learned Author is so little solicitous for the pertinency of the argument, that he makes, as we shall now sce, its impertinence one of the great supports of liis system. For thus he
For thus he goes on : But now if the hinge of the controversy nad turned on this,'whether or no, consistently with God's justice, good men could be afHicted in this life, this declaration ought to have finished the debate: but if the question were