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these for his conductors ;-and if he hopes to discharge this work so as to have advantage from it, -that he must set out upon the principles of an honest head, willing to reform itself, and attached principally to that object, without regard to the spiritual condition of others, or the misguided opinions which the world may have of himself.
That for this end, he must call his own ways to remembrance, and search out his spirit,-search his actions with the same critical exactness and same piercing curiosity we are wont to sit in judgment upon others ;-varnishing nothing -and disguising nothing. If he proceeds thus, and in every relation of life takes a full view of himself without prejudice ;-traces his actions to their principles without mercy, and looks into the dark corners and recesses of his heart without fear, and, if upon such an enquiry he acts consistent with his view in it, by reforming his crrors, separating the dross, and purifying the whole mass with repentance,—this will bid fair for examining a man's works in the apostle's sense :-and whoever discharges the duty thus, with a view to scripture, which is the rule in this case, and to reason, which is the appiier of this rule in all cases, need not fear but he will have what the prophet calls “ rejoicing in himself," and that he will lay the foundation of his peace and comfort where it ought to lie ;-that is, within himself,-in the testimony of a good conscience, and the joyful expectation that, having done his utmost to examine his own works here, God will accept them hereafter, through the merits of Christ; which God grant ! Amen.
JOB'S EXPOSTULATION WITH HIS WIFE.
JOB II. 10.
What!-Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we
not receive evil also ?
These are the words of Job, uttered in the depth of his misfortunes, by way of reproof to his wife, for the counsel we find she had given him in the foregoing verse ; namely, Not to retain his integrity any longer,—but to " curse God and die.” Though it is not very evident what was particularly meant and implied in the words, Curse God and die," -yet it is certain, from Job's reply to them, that they directed him to some step which was rash and unwarrantable; and, probably, as it is generally explained, meant that he should openly call God's justice to an account, and, by a blasphemous accusation of it, provoke God to destroy his being: as if she had said,—“ After so many sad things which have befallen thee-notwithstanding thy integrity,—what gainest thou by serving God, seeing he bears thus hard upon thee, as though thou wast his enemy?Ought so faithful a servant as thou hast been, to receive so much unkind trealment at his hands,—and tamely to submit to it?-patiently to sustain the evils he has brought upon thy house, and, neither murmur with thy lips, nor charge hiin with injus. tice?-Bear it not thus ;--and as thy piety couid not at first protect thee from such misfortunes, nor thy behaviour under them could since move God to take pity on thee-change thy conduct towards him,-boldly expostulate with him,-upbraid him openly with unkindness,-call his justice and providence to an account for oppressing thee in so undeserved a manner, and get that benefit by provoking him, which thou hast not been able to obtain by serving him to die at once by his hands, and be freed at least from the greater misery of a lingering and more tormenting death."
On the other hand, some interpreters tell usthat the word curse, in the original, is equivocal, and does more literally signify here, to bless than to blaspheme; and consequently, that the whole is rather to be considered as a sarcastical scoff at Job's piety ;-as if it had been said," Go to, bless God, and die ;-since thou art so ready to praise him in troubles as thou hast done, go on in thy own way, and see how God will reward thee by a miserable death, which thou canst not avoid.”
Without disputing the merit of these two interpretations, it may not seem an improbable conjecture, that the words imply something still different from what is expressed in either of them ;-and, instead of supposing them as an incitement to blaspheme God, which was madness-or that they
, were intended as an insult, which was unnatural, that her advice to curse God and die, was meant here, that he should resolve upon a voluntary death himself, which was an act not nly in his own power, but what carried some appearance of a remedy with it, and promised, at least at first sight, some respite
from pain, as it would put an end both to his life and his misfortunes together.
One may suppose that, with all the concern and affection which was natural, she beheld her lord af. flicted both with poverty and sickness ;-by one sudden blow, brought down from his palace to the dunghill :-in one mournful day she saw that not only the fortunes of his house were blasted, but likewise the hopes of his posterity cut off forever by the untimely loss of his children. She knew he was a virtuous and an upright man, and deserved a better fate ;-her heart bled the more for him ;she saw the prospect before him was dreadful ;that there appeared no possible means which could retrieve the sad situation of his affairs ;-that death, the last, the surest friend to the unfortunate, could only set him free ;-and that it was better to resolve upon that at once, than vainly endeavour to wade through such a sea of troubles, which, in the end, would overwhelm him. We may suppose her spirits sinking under those apprehensions, when she began to look upon his constancy as a fruitless virtue, and, from that persuasion, to have said unto him,-Curse God, depend no longer upon bim, nor wait the issues of his providence, which has already forsaken thee:-as there is no help from that quarter, resolve to extricate thyself ;-and, since thou hast met with no justice in this world-leave it-die-and force thy passage into a better country, where misfortunes cannot follow thee.
Whether this paraphrase upon the words is just, or the former interpretations be admitted, the reply in the text is equally proper ;- What !--Shall we receive good at the hands of God, and shall we not receive evil also ? Are not both alike the dispensations of an all-wise and good Being, who knows and determines what is best? and wherefore should I make myself the judge, to receive the one, and yet be so partial as to reject the other, when, by fairly putting both into the scale, I may be convinc
Ι ed how much the good outweighs the evil in all cases ? In my own, consider how strong this argument is against me.
In the beginning of my days, how did God crown me with honour ! In how remarkable a manner did his providence set a hedge about me, and about all that I had on every side !-how he prospered the works of my hands, so that our substance and happi., ness increased every day!
And now, when, for reasons best known to his infinite wisdom, he has thought fit to try me with afflictions,—shall I rebel against him, in sinning with my lips, and charging him foolishly God forbid ! O, rather, may I look up towards that hand which has bruised mefor he maketh sore, and he bind. eth up ; he woundeth, and his hands make whole. From his bounty only has issued all I had ; from his wisdom-all I have lost ; for he giveth, and he
; hath taken away : blessed be his name !
There are few instances of particular virtue more engaging than those of this heroick cast; and, if we take the testimony of a heathen philosopher upon it, there is not an object in this world which God can be supposed to look down upon with greater pleasure than that of a good man involved in misfortunes, surrounded on all sides with difficulties yet cheerfully bearing up his head, and struggling against them with firmness and constancy of mind: