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Zophar's First Reply To Job.
This is Zophar's first speech. Without reserve he charges Job with loquacity, arrogance, and sin, and as justly punished for his iniquities. In ability, gentleness, and charity, he is less than either Eliphaz, or Bildad. He exhorts Job to repentance and reformation, as the- only means of restoration, and prosperity. He pursues the current strain of the other speakers, and holds that Job is punished because he is a wicked man. He accuses him of using a multitude of words and also of self-righteousness, because he maintained his innocence, and the injustice of his afflictions. He says he wishes God would speak to him, and show him his true character. He tells him that God exacts of him less than his sins deserve. He gives a sublime description of the vastness, unsearchableness, and power of G-od. He declares that man, though born as a wild ass's colt, would impugn the counsels, and plans of God. He does not answer Job, nor explain the dealings of God, but dwells on his vastness, and power, and sets forth the obligations of submission. He affirms that Job may yet be prospered, and happy, if he will repent, and yield to God's sovereign will. He telfs him that in that event, he would forget his misery, his age would be bright as the noonday, he would lie down in safety, and would be great, and mighty; but if he would not repent, and submit to God, he would yet be punished more, and more. His speech is severe, immodest, and inhuman. He assumes all along that Job is a notorious hypocrite, stricken down for his sins; and exhorts him, from this stand-point, to put away his iniquities, and lead a just, and pious life. This must have been most provoking to Job; yet, according to Arabian custom, the patriarch sat patiently, and silently, and heard him through. It is not a matter of wonder therefore that Job, in his subsequent answers, sometimes employs sarcasm, irony, and, occasionally severity. Zophar deserved it.
When Job had ceased his sorrows to recite^
Should not thy multitude of words, declared,
Be boldly answered, and with truth compared?
And should a man, so full of windy talk,
Be justified, when he doth only mock?
Or should thy lies, unanswered, still increase,
And make mankind, in terror, hold their peace?
When thou dost mock, shalt thou be left unblamed?
Shall none attempt to make thee then ashamed!
For thou hast said: My doctrine's pure, and wise,
And I am clean within thy holy eyes.
But oh! that God, to thee, himself would speak,
Unseal His lips, and words against thee seek;
That wisdom's secrets he would show to thee,
For they are double what they seem to be;
Infolded, convoluted, and concealed,
Their wond'rous myst'ries still are unrevealed.
And therefore know that God exacts of thee,
Much less, indeed, than thine iniquity.
Canst thou, by searching, fathom God,, or find,
The deep perfection of His mighty mind?
'Tis high as. heaven, and more, in grandeur, too,
And what canst thou, an ign'rant mortal, do?
'Tis deeper far than depths of hell below,
And what canst thou, of his perfection, know?
Its measure's longer than from pole to pole,
And wider too than broadest oceans roll.
If He arrest, imprison, and arraign,
Then who can hinder, or His power restrain?
No human force can rescue back again,
For well he knows the ways of sinful men.
The slightest wickedness His eyes do scan,
"Will He not punish ev'ry sinful man?
A man of vanity appeareth wise,
And heavenly wisdom often doth despise;
Though he be born, in wildness, like the ass,
Or colts, untamed, that crop the mountain grass.
If, now thyself, thy heart thou wilt prepare,
And stretch thy hands to God, in holy prayer;
If, in thy hands, iniquity remain,
The fruit of robbery, or wicked gain;
Thy honest soul will, ev'ry whit restore,
And let no evil dwell within thy door;
Thenceforth thy face, unspotted, thou shalt rear,
And steadfast be, and free from ev'ry fear;
Because thy misery shalt thou forget,
Nor feel one sad, or sorrowful regret;
Remembered seldom through each prosp'rous day,
As waters only that have passed away.
Thy life illustrious, serene, and bright,
Shall then be clearer than the noon-day light;
As morning beams the dusky earth o'erspread,
And chase the darkness from its downy bed;
So clouds of darkness, now that round thee dwell,
Shall fair aurora, cov'ring thee, dispel.
And thou shalt be, from ev'ry fear, secure,
Because of hope, abounding, firm, and sure.
Though now ashamed, and filled with dire disease,
JOB'S PIEST REPLY TO ZOPHAK.
Job opens this speech with a most withering sarcasm. Zophar by his severity, and assurance had provoked it "JSTo doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." He declares that he had "understanding" in reference to all the matters set forth as well as they; that in urging their well known arguments, and applying them to him, they had manifested a low estimate of his knowledge of divine principles. He complains that, instead of comfort, they had augmented his misery. He insinuates that what they supposed to be profound instruction were only common-place truisms, which did not reach his case. He reargues the point that wicked men do not receive here the full punishment due to their sins,but are often prospered; and then sets forth his knowledge of G-od. He reproves their narrow views of the Almighty, and shows that he had reflected far more profoundly upon his power, and wisdom, and divine government, than they had, and poured on them confusion and shame for their supposing him to be ignorant of these matters. This part of his speech discloses the comparative ability of the different speakers. He descants upon the sovereignty of G-od, in the most sublime strains, and shows that the beasts of the earth, and the great events observable in nature, declare his wisdom, power, and matchless glory. He declares that His presence is everywhere perceived, but that his rewards and punishments are not meted out according to the deserts of men in this life. He earnestly desires to have his cause tried before the Almighty, because he believes that justice would thus be done to him. He clearly insinuates that his friends are most unkind, unjust, uncharitable, and severe in their judgments of him, and desires them to hold their peace. He protests his innocence, declares that he trusts in God, and that he would do so, though he should slay him; at the same time he remonstrates with G-od for afflicting him so unmercifully. He describes, in the most beautiful manner, the brevity of human life, in which he displays the mingled emotions of hope, fear, despair, dark forebodings concerning the future, and a desire to find repose in the grave. He alleges that man is born to trouble, and that he must soon perish, and, in view of this, asks God why he so afflicts him, and why he would not let him take a little comfort here, before he should go to his long home—the grave. He asserts that, after death, man will