« السابقةمتابعة »
are proofs and tests of character coming from the love and regard of God. In short, “they are disciplinary and they are testing.” All this may be admitted as, in some way, taught in the Book, or truly suggested by it. So, also, there are other theories presented in various ways by other writers, but all coming to nearly the same thing. Some express themselves with more freedom in respect to the question of fact, whether the Book really furnishes the solution it seems to propose. Merx, the latest interpreter, does not hesitate to pronounce it a failure. After saying much of the Vergeltungslehre of the Mosaic religion, and of the Old Testament generally, and of this Book as being polemically opposed to such a doctrine of retribution-all of which Delitzsch justly estimates as “a phantom of the Rationalists" -he goes on to speak, in the highest terms, of the artistic excellence of the work, patronizing it even to extravagance, but does not shrink from saying that the solution it proposes is not only inadequate but false. The great problem is still unsolved, and the writer intimates that it all comes from the fact that the author of the Book was ignorant of "the Critical Philosophy.” “Of this,” says Merx, with more naïveness than he ascribes to the old poet, “he does not seem to have had the faintest notion." How the Critical Philosophy would have saved the difficulty, or rather would have shown it to be wholly imaginary, he endeavors to tell us, but it seems far less clear than the Book of Job itself, and may be dismissed with the same sentence of failure and inadequateness. Still the objections made by such commentators as Umbreit and Merx have much force in them as applied to many of the so-called solutions. A stronger objection to some of them is that they receive no countenance from the prologue, or from the address of Jehovah at the close,—where, if anywhere, such a clear solution of the problem might have been expected.
Key in the Prologue-A Super-earthly Probation. If we are to judge it solely as an artistic production, then the plan and design of it are to be sought in the prose introduction, just as we look there for the design of a Greek drama, - and this without any nice discussion of the unimportant question, whether the book is to be called dramatic, any more than lyrical or epic. Here is a preface with the evident design of explaining what the mere poem might leave unknown, and without which, as has been tersely said, the dramatic speeches would be artistically a mere torso, a trunk without a head. In this introduction we do find something which, in the absence of other considerations, we should be required to take as the leading idea of the work. It is, that there are reasons for human events, even for the sufferings of good men, that may wholly transcend this earthly sphere, having no reference to any human probation, for its own sake, either by way of discipline or retribution, but designed to serve a purpose in the super-human world. It is a problem for the Dogs '] the Sons of God, one in which they are interested, by which they are to be influenced, but in which a man is the sufferer, the testing patient through whom the truth is exhibited. Thus, earth may be the theatrum in which dramatic events are represented for the instruction of higher beings. It may be to show them that there is such a thing as human virtue, that man immersed in nature, and exposed to the strongest temptations, may “serve God for nought," that is, disinterestedly, or from pure love of the service; as Job did, both in his prosperity and in his perfect submission, at last, to a dispensation unexplained and inexplicable. Such a thought seems plainly in the prologue; but be it what it may, there is a conceivable design of this kind sufficiently great and beneficent to justify the ways of God, even to our reason, without any demand of compensation to the one by whom the example or the test is made,-especially in view of the fact that such a demand, or even such an expectation, would be the most direct proof of its failure.*
• Somo such thought of a superearthly drama appears in what the Apostle says, Eph. iii. 10: “ That now through the Church there might be made known to the Principalities and Powers in the Heavenly World (év rois étrov pavious), the manifold (trodvtoiridos, immensely varicd) wisdom of God." See Olshausen on the text: “The Church (good men on oarth, whether in their piety or their sufferings) is the theatre (seiner Wirksamkeit) through which this manifold wisdom and teaching are made kuown to the angels." In support of the idea, Olshausen very properly cites 1 Pet. i. 12: eis & é OU MOūgu áyyelou Tapakúfas: “Which things the angels desire to look into" (to bend eagerly forward for that purpose) and Paul's language, 1 Cor. iv. 9: Deatpor dyer nuev TO KOO MO kai ayyedois.
The Lesson of Unqualified Submission. The design may be discipline or punishment, having reference solely to the individual. All that need to be maintained is, that it is not necessarily such. They may be admitted as bubordinate aims, in connection with something higher and more universal. As thus subordinate, they may even become prominent in the dramatic teaching, as seems to be the case in Job, and yet without furnishing the idea, or the grounds, of the great lesson. Or it may be the design, aside from these, or in connection with these, to teach the lesson of absolute .and unconditional submission to the divine will, and an acknowledgment of its necessary wigIdom and goodness, whether we see it or not, either in the present or in any other life. This
is quite different from a stoical fatality, or from any mere arbitrariness. It is not that the divine will makes right, but that it constitutes for us an evidence of its absolute righteousness that is not to be called in question. The because, we may say, has reference to our judgments. He does it because it is absolutely right in itself; we say it is right (in the absence of other knowledge) because He does it. As the Psalmist says, xxxix. 10: “I was dumb, I opened not my mouth, because Thou didst it.” It is a theism inadequate, impure, tainted by some ideas of fatality, or of a power higher than God, that hesitates in making this full and absolute affirmation. The reasons of the divine procedure in any particular case may be wholly or partially hidden. They may have reference to the individual experience, discipline, or purgation of the sufferer, and yet be wholly unknown to him. Job vehemently asserts his innocence. There is something noble in his expostulations; it was not a vain display of self-righteousness; he was driven to it by unjust criminations; and yet there might have been hidden evils whose existence his inexplicable sufferings should have led him to suspect, aside from the question whether they were, or were not, the sole cause of the calamities which had come upon him. He should have searched for them as the Psalmist did, and prayed for self-knowledge. His earnest appeal to God: “O show me wherefore Thou thus dealest with me,” is indeed very touching, but it manifests too serene a confidence in his entire integrity. It is not like the prayer of David : “ Cleanse Thou me from secret faults;" or of him who said: “Make me to know wisdom in the inward parts;" or of the later exile, who so fervently prayed : “Search me, O God, and know my heart; prove me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any evil way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” If it be said that Job was very defective here as compared with some others of the Old Testament worthies, it may be urged, on his behalf, that the accusations of his friends, charging him with open transgressions of which he knew he was not guilty, led him away into a mode of defence just in respect to them, but not maintainable before the All-knowing, as he himself afterwards most clearly saw.
Reasons Transcending Human Knowledge. But aside from this, or along with this disciplinary purpose, there may have been other reasons belonging to the aponta, the ineffable, the mysterious, transcending, perhaps, the human faculties, but which he was bound to admit as possible, however much he or others might fail in finding an explanation of the severe trial to which he had been exposed. “ He giveth not account of his ways.” Such a view may be characterized as harsh and arbitrary, but it is perfectly consistent with the highest estimate of the Divine clemency." “God knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust.” He hath pity upon man. Even the thought of his depravity, the fact that “the imagination of the heart of man is evil from his youth,” is mentioned (Gen. ix. 21) as one of the grounds of the divine compassion. But he knoweth, too—are we not warranted, from the tenor of revelation, in saying it—that the loftiest height to which the human soul can attain, and ultimately its highest blessedness, is the acknowledgment of God's absolute right, as the acknowledgment of His absolute glory! It is that to which the human soul of the Saviour attained when, in the great struggle with Satan, in the mysterious and inexplicable agony, he said, “Thy will be done.”
The Absolute Divine Sovereignty before any Doctrine of Human Destiny. Thus regarded, the value of a pure theism, in which the absolute divine sovereignty holds its sovereign place, is beyond that of every other dogma.* Without it, all other religious teaching may become not only vain but mischievous. Without it, the doctrine of a future life may become the source of the greatest moral evils, leading, at last, to atheism, after having been the ally of the grossest superstitions. On this account, may we say again, was there need of a reserve that might hold in check the roving imagination,-of a veil, not wholly obscuring, but allowing only the faintest glimpses, now and then, to keep the soul from utterly sinking. Such a schooling of the chosen people, as the world's representatives, was demanded, we may say, until the other great and conserving truth should be perfectly learned, and indelibly stamped upon the soul. Far better a dim shadowy belief in a future life, or a mere feeling without any distinct conception of state or locality, or resolving itself into a pure elementary trust in a covenant God,-far better this than an unrestrained imaginative picturing, destitute of all true moral power, and to which the thought of God, as a moral sovereign, is, in a great measure, alien, if not wholly lost. Far better the old patriarchal and Hebrew reserve in this respect than such a Hades, and such an Elysium, as we read of in the Greek poets, or any such rhapsodies as the Rationalist so triumphantly quotes for us from the Rigveda. Among the many other solutions, then, of the Book of Job, this seems certainly entitled to respectful attention. It is the teaching of such a theism, whilst throwing into the back-ground, to say the least, not only the dogma of a future life, but every thought of compensation, † discipline, or anything else, that might interfere with the absolute unconditionality of the greater doctrine.
THE THEOPHANY. Its One Ilea: The Divine Omnipotence. God "can do All Things." If the solution of the problem, as some call it, is to be found anywhere, it is in the address of the Almighty. That is what every reader naturally expects, and is disappointed, to some extent, in not finding. No explanation, however, is given of the cause of Job's mysterious sufferings, nor any decision made in regard to the matters in debate between him and his antagonists. Instead of that, one idea, predominant and exclusive, pervades every part of that most sublime exhibition. It is that of power, omnipotent power, first as exhibited in the great works of creation, and afterwards in those greater productions of nature that
• It is not too much to say that even now, in this advanced age of theology, there is arising a new need of this idea. There is something in the naturalistic tendencies of our science, and our literature, which more and more demands a revival of the thought of a personal, holy, omnipotent, unchallengeable God, who "doeth all things according to His good pleasure," whether through nature, or against nature, or above nature. The sharpening of this would give a new edge to every other religious dogma. The ideas of sin, holiness, accountability, would receive a new impress of clearness and power. The doctrine of a future life would get a moral significance, throwing in the back-ground those naturalistic and merely imaginative features which are now making it a matter of curious speculation, or of physical, rather than of ethical interest. Such a sudden sharpening of the divine idea would have a startling effect, like the actual witnessing of a miracle, in bringing so near the thought of God as to set it in a new and surprising light, resembling vision rather than theory, and calling forth something like the exclamation of Job, when “the hearing of the ear" had become an actual beholding.
† As matter of outward fact, indeed, there is set forth in the close of the drama a full compensation. It forms, what some, who are fond of the more artistic criticism, call "the outer disentanglement," or Die Lösung in äusserer Wirklich. keit; but we are nowhore told that this entered into the idea of the poem. As such, it would be inconsistent with the thought so prominent in the prologue, or the possibility of a man's serving God for nought. As a mere outward scene, however, it has a certain appropriateness, like the matter-of-fact close of a Greek drama, sometimes brought in as a satisfaction to the reader, to save him from pain, by making a harmony in the outward narrative. But in Job the great lesson is complete without it. We read it with pleasure, as something simply due to dramatic consistency, that when the spiritual drama is over, the hero, as the Rationalists, with some propriety, call him, may not be left in his state of suffering; but the great inward design is concluded by the submission of Job, which would have been utterly spoiled by the intimation of any expected recompense. The apparent design, too, of the prologue is satisfied without it. When Job submits, Satan is baffled, and God's Judgment is true.
| It is worthy of note how the appeal is made alike to the great natural and the great supernatural, as though the
seem next in rank to the creative power itself. Nothing is said of any purpose in the great trial, or of anything which should be made known to Job as preparatory to his submission. There is no hint in respect to ultimate compensation as a motive for endurance, such as is held out in the Gospel to the Christian: “They that endure unto the end, shall be saved.”' There is no allusion to any scheme of discipline, no suggestion of afflictions which are only evils apparently, since they are designed for purification, or as a preparative for a higher blessedness. The curtain is not withdrawn to disclose to us any vision of optimism as a motive for the creature's submission. Nothing of this kind appears, but only that idea of power, omnipotent power, thundered forth in tones that seem intended to silence rather than to convince. However strange it may seem, this is all the voice we hear, startling and confounding at first, but soon causing us to forget everything in a feeling of its sublime appropriateness : “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ?” What knowest thou of the divine purposes in thy own creation, or in that of the universe? What right, therefore, hast thou to challenge any of them as unrighteous or unwise, much less to dream of any fatality, or of any nature of things by which they might be baffled, whether they be purposes of justice or of clemency? It would seem as though its only design was to overwhelm, and it is overwhelming. Job falls upon his face and acknowledges that he has learned the lesson. It is not mere terror. Deep is the reverence; but there is also the conviction of the understanding and the conscience: “I know that Thou canst do all things, and that no purpose* of Thine can be hindered.” Had he doubted it before? It would certainly seem so, whether at the time he had been fully conscious of it or not.
The Old Idea of Fate, The Name El Shaddai as opposed to it. A feeling of something irresistible in the vast surrounding nature, something with which it is vain for man to struggle, and against which not even a divine power could help him, shows itself, more or less, in all the early heathen religions, as it appears afterwards in the systems of philosophy. They called it fate, poipa, doom, destiny. It was superior to gods as well as to men. It was irrational, inconsistent with any true theistic conception, but its ever-pressing nearness, as well as the vastness and indefinableness of its aspect, gave it an overpowering weight. That some feeling of this kind, some beginning of a fatalistic idea, may have been in the minds of God's people, tainting even the otherwise pure theism of the patriarchs, would seem probable from the stress laid upon that assuring epithet, '90 78. occurring so often in Genesis and Job, and furnishing such strong evidence of the antiquity of the latter Book. “Almighty God," 'teg 5x, Deus potentissimus, omnipotens, havtorpátwp, the strong God, Deus sufficiens, 701xs on 73985 90X, “from whom nothing can be hindered,” to whom nothing can fail—this was the great name of strength and encouragement which God Himself employs to cheer the hearts of those early men, and keep them from fainting in their pilgrimage: '70 78 'JX, “I am El Shaddai, therefore, fear ye not, but walk before me.” Thus regarded, too, much of the language of the Old Testament respecting the divine power, the divine sovereignty, and the extreme jealousy that guards against the least impeachment of these attributes, loses all its seeming harshness. Like the denunciations of idolatry, it is conservative of pure religion. It is a protest against the nature-worship, the fatalistic ideas that were everywhere coming in to pervert the true theistic conception. Thus viewed,
distinction had not then been made; or the line drawn, as in our modern thinking; or as though to the Divine Mind such a distinction was of no account. Nature and law are clearly recognized in the Bible; but both departments, the natural and the supernatural, are regarded as equally illustrating the power and greatness of God as manifested in all. The samo may be said of the appeal to the great animal creations, surpassing man in strength and magnitude. It is not to show design, or utilitarian ends, as in our modern natural theology, and hence to demonstrate the existence of a Deity. Job is Dot addressed as doubting that, or as needing any proof of God's wisdom and goodness. Everything, on the other hand, bean upon this one idea of omnipotence. It is to show that God “ can do all things" – a truth which Job confesses (zlii. 2), in language intimating that he had not before fully realized it.
• Literally, "hindered from Thee." 732 has its Syriac sense of diminution, restraint, failare. LXX. ádvvatel 8é sou oučev. The Syriac has "nothing can be hidden from Thee," and in this it resembles our common version. Dr. Conant's is better: "And from Thee no purpose can be withheld ;" but fails, we think, in giving the full thought, which is that of insuficiency, or want of power in the execution.
it is the language of paternal Deity, encouraging to faith and submission as the only blessedness of the human state: “ Fear not, for I can do all things."
The Fatalistic Idea betrays Itself in the Speeches of Job and his Friends. Such a misgiving dread of some insurmountable fatality, putting his case beyond the reach even of any divine help, seems to lurk in the speeches of Job at the times of his extremest despair. The friends were not pressed to it, as he was, by an anguish unendurable. They had not his experience to breed a doubt. Free from pain and trouble, they could theorize complacently on the divine excellencies, “speaking good words for God,” as Job taunts them, and expatiating at their ease on this attribute of omnipotence. Here the speeches of Zophar and Bildad are peculiarly eloquent, however ill-timed. Job, too, is roused to emulation, and strives to surpass them (see especially chs. xxv. and xxvi.). And. yet this very style of speech seems, now and then, to betray a want of the confidence it so loudly assumes. The speaker seems to indulge in it as a mode of fortifying himself in a faith not wholly free from a lurking skepticism. None of them, however, ever intimated a doubt of the justice and wisdom of God. In his extreme anguish, Job may seem to be approaching some thought of the kind, but immediately revolts from it, as from the edge of an abyss. He cannot give it up: God is good; He is righteous; He is most pure and holy; but may it not be that there is something, be it fate, be it nature, be it an invisible, fiendish* power, that baffles all His mercy and all His wisdom. “The earth is given into the hands of the wicked," ix. 24; is this the work, or the permission, or the weakness of God? 197 198 xSOX, “if not, who then ?” Would there be such sore evils ? Above all, would they come upon the innocent, if he could help it? Is there not a nature, a fixed order of things (as Job, according to Merx, would have said, had he understood “the Critical Philosophy," or the distinction between “the moral and the practical reason,") which cannot be set aside ?
The Divine Address adapted to this Fatalistic Idea.—Job's Renunciation of it. He has not ventured to say it openly in words; the very thought seemed to demand repression whenever it showed itself, however dimly, to the consciousness. It was there, however, as is shown by the language of the divine address so directly adapted to such a state of soul, and the closing acknowledgment of Job, expressing a new and clear conviction that admits no doubt. It is absolute certainty, — the certainty of sight, as compared with any abstract theorizing, or any traditional “hearing by the ear:" I know,”—it is like the ecstatic assurance he had of his Redeemer's living—“I knowt that Thou canst do all things; and
There is language in chapter xvi. from which it would seem that Job had such beings in view,- a multitude of them, in fact, as well as the great enemy mentioned in the prologue. Such expressions as those in verses 9 and 10, of that chapter, can hardly be used of the three friends : "His anger rends me; he lies in wait for me (DOV', cognate with
MV, Satan); he goashes on me with his teeth ; mine enemy ("73), sharpens his eyes upon me (glares at me); they gape upon me with their mouths” (172, like the yawning Orcus, 18. v. 14). We are shocked at the very thought of such words being applied to God, although most of the commentators have so taken them. The language that follows: "God delivers me op,” etc., though strong, is in a different style; simply presenting the idea of an unjust surrender into Satan's hands. It might be said, too, that the absence of any expressed subject (simply implied, he, they, etc.) is evidence of some thing fearful in the thought, as in the cases mentioned, note, p. 7. The referring them to God, would be inconsistent, moreover, with the appeal to the Witness on high, ver. 20. The language of vers. 9 and 10 shows an imagination wildly excited, as though at the sight of fiends making hideous faces, scowling, and glaring at him. It would seem strange, too, that Satan should so figure in the prologue, and that afterwards no allusion whatever should be made to him. It would not be artistic, if that, as some say, is the chief character of the book. Is there not an implied reference to this great persecutor and murderer (åv@pw TÓKTOVOS, John viii. 44), in the appeal to the Avenger or Redeemer, xix. 257 Raschi speaks very confidently in respect to the language, xvi. 9, as though it could not admit of a doubt: “Satan here is the enemy;"
.והשטן הוא הצר
+ Merx, the latest commentator on Job, in the short notes he adds to his new text and translations, is very fond of putting the word dogmatic to the readerings, ancient or modern, which he rejects. He means by this to stigmatize them me made in a dogmatic interest, even though sometimes giving the only possible meaning which the Hebrew will admit. Ho ought to hare seen how greatly his own version is affected by that precisely identical kind of interest, which we may call the dogmatic anti-dogmatic. He cannot understand this passage according to the text, and so he does not hesitate to givo a different punctuation, allowing him to render it : “ Thou knowest that Thou canst do all things," an answer which wholly mars the force of Job's appeal. Although it may still be taken as his confession of the great truth, yet the putting
thus in the second person makes it not only a pointless assertion, but seems greatly to change the aspect and spirit of the