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CHAPTER VI.

Job's First Reply To Bildad.

Job replies to Bildad. He was charged with being a hypocrite. He protests against this, and denies that he is guilty of any great crimes, but does not claim to be absolutely faultless. He is agitated with contending passions, such as fear, hope, confidence, despair, and a keen sense of his sufferings. He vents forth his feelings, under their influence. He admits the general course of argument pursued by Bildad, that none can*'be just with God, or answer Him for one of a thousand of his offences. He shows that God is a sovereign, distributing rewards, and punishments as He pleases: that men ought not to judge Him, but to make supplication to Him. He says he is so weak that he could' not hope to prevail with Him in debate, and that he would not try to argue with Him against >His own inscrutable doings. He believes God to be right, great, glorious, and holy. If he judges man to be wicked, then it must be so. This, he believes, to' be the supreme proof of human guilt. He denies that affliction is proof of wickedness, but that it is alike the portion of the righteous and the wicked; and therefore his sufferings do not condemn him as a bad man. He describes his sorrows in a piteous manner, and uses language of murmuring and complaint. He alleges that his days are swift, and full of sorrow, and he takes no comfort. He intimates that G-od is too great to be argued with, that His power makes him dumb, that no daysman stands between him and God; and that if God would remove his afflictions, he would express his feelings, without fear. But he also declares that if he should make himself ever so clean, and wash himself with snow-water, God would plunge him in the dirt again, afflict him still with a sense of his guilt, and hold him altogether impure. He amplifies these thoughts, with great latitude of expression. He expostulates with God against treating the work of His own hands with such unmerciful severity. He declares that he is weary of life, and that it has become a burden to him. He asks God why he deals thus cruelly with one of His own creatures. He acknowledges that all he has is from God, and appeals to Him to establish his innocence. He says that God hunts him down like a lion, and multiplies against him the tokens of his indignation. He waxes warmer, even to desperation, at the idea that God is his enemy. He therefore longs for death, craves a little respite before he descends to the land of shadows. He illustrates, most beautifully, the condition, and feelings, of every good man, under great afflictions.

The truth, that Bildad, in his speech, expressed.
Was now, by Job, in frankness, thus confessed:
I know 9tis so, nor do I this distrust,
But how alas! can man, with God, be just?
If he contend, as man with man, hath done-
Of thousand sins he cannot answer one.
Within his heart, is he supremely wise,
And strength unbounded in Jehovah lies.
And who, resisting, hath withstood his will?
Or been rebellious, and successful still?
He hurls the mountains from their native spot,
By force of earthquakes, and they know it not;
He overturns them, in His dreadful wrath,
"When fires volcanic lift them from their path.
He shakes the earth from out her native place,
Her pillars tremble from their lowest base.
His voice commands the sun, and in the spot,
It pauseth suddenly, and riseth not;
Eclipses, clouds, and tempests raging high,
Obscure his brightness in the darkened sky.
The gates of day his power securely bars,
With clouds, or brightness seals he up the stars.
He doth alone the heavens, in grandeur spread,
And on the waves of hoary ocean tread.
He makes Arcturus, in the North afar,
Revolve in splendor round the polar star;
Like Bear, and Cubs, pursuing in the rear,
Or Mourners, following a solemn bier;
That never sets, but high about the Pole,
With orbs attendant, doth forever roll;

To which the mariner doth look, to guide,
His dang'rous voyages, on the briny tide.
He sets Orion o'er th' equator high,
A girdled giant in the stormy sky;
Whose eyes of glory, bright with luster burn,
And ev'ry way, with orbs celestial turn;
Bedecked with jewels, countless, soft, and clear.
That through the telescope, at night, appear.
He maketh Pleiades, in Taurus, shine,
With bright rosettes, bespangled, and divine;
The sweet effluxes of delightful spring,
With melted snows, and singing birds, to bring.
He makes the chambers of the South proclaim,
The matchless glories of His wondrous name.
He doeth wonders, which no ken can trace,
And marv'lous things, no numbers can embrace.
His chariot wheels, in grandeur, by me roll,
His works majestic fill my raptured soul;
He goeth by me in his works, and ways,
And far outstrips my ever wond'ring gaze;
He passeth onward, with transcendent speed,
And leaves behind him countless things to reade
The shining orbs that roll, and burn afar,
Compose his fiery, and majestic car;
In all his works, his motions I can trace,
But nowhere yet do I behold his face.
Behold, he taketh life, and wealth away,
And who can hinder, or his judgments stay?

Or who can say: what doest thou, O God?

Why smitest thou, with thy chastising rod?

If God, his anger, will not clean withhold,

Then power, and honor, friends, and shining gold;

The aids of pride, to mortals here below,

Beneath his judgments he will overthrow.

Then how much less shall I an answer find,

Or choose out words, to reason with his mind?

To whom, though innocent, I deemed I'd been,

Should he adjudge me guilty still of sin 5

No words, in answer, I would dare to speak.

But instant mercy from my judge would seek.

If I had called for trial of my cause,

To prove my innocence before his laws;

And he had graciously replied to me,

I could not think he'd hearkened to my plea.

For lo! he breaketh me with storms of wrath,

And hurls a tempest all along my path;

He grinds me up, in sorrow's cruel jaws,

And multiplies my wounds without a cause.

He will not suffer me to take my breath,

But fills my soul with bitterness, and death.

If strength, the controversy, shall decide,

His sovereign power can never be denied.

If righteous justice litigates my crime,

Then who, indeed, shall set, for me, the time?

If I attempt myself to justify,

And plead my cause, and make mine own reply;

My murm'ring mouth, from rev'rent words exempt,

Would self-condemn me in the vain attempt.

If I assert that I am perfect then,

My tongue will prove me all perverse again.

I, perfect! nay, if this I thought were so,

'Twould be because my soul I did not know.

But, rather far, my life would I despise,

Surpassed, in glory, by his purer eyes.

This one result, within my mind doth lie,

And, therefore, truly I, did thus reply:

Unequal justice here he doth employ,

And good, and bad, doth both alike destroy.

For if a scourge, with sudden vengeance, slays,

And low, in death, unnumbered victims, lays;

He laughs at trials, on his children sent,

And mocks the suff'rings of the innocent.

The earth is given, by his high commands,

Completely over into wicked hands.

The judges' faces oft he cov'reth, when,

They sit, in judgment, on the crimes of men.

If not, then where, upon this earthly clod,

Is he, or what, or who, indeed, is God?

My days are swifter than a flying post,

They flee apace, and good no longer boast.

Like skiffs of reeds, they swiftly pass away,

Or like the eagle, hast'ning to her prey.

And if I say: complaining I'll forsake,

Renounce my heaviness, and comfort take;

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