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condole with him. But when they saw how horribly he was afflicted; that he was very poor, diseased, and forsaken by all his former friends, they said that they had been deceived in him; that they had not fully known him; that he must be a hypocrite and a very wicked man; because God punishes the wicked, and spares the righteous; and that in pleading his sincerity, uprightness, and integrity, he was only glorying in his self-righteousness, and mocking God. So they comfort him by pelting him with stones, accusing him of every species of iniquity, persecuting him with bitter words, and exhorting him to repent and turn to God. So now Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar flourish exceedingly, in this age, in their numerous children. Without a proper conception of the nature and design of human sufferings and afflictions on earth, they look upon them as the sure evidences of condign punishment from an angry God. Full of all unmercifulness, vehement with accusation, devoid of charity, they upbraid, and condemn these suffering children of the kingdom; denounce them as hypocrites and monsters of iniquity, and self-righteousness, and recommend them to repent and turn to God as a sure means of deliverance from their affliction. The proper answer to these modern Eliphazes, Bildads, and Zophars, is the same now as Job gave to their forefathers: "Miserable comforters are ye all." Ch. 16 : 2. "No doubt but ye are the people, and wisdom shall die with you." Ch. 12:2. "Doth the wild ass bray when he hath grass? Or loweth the ox over his fodder?" You, Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar, do not complain; you are fat, and sleek, and well conditioned in life, without trouble, or care. What do you know about suffering, affliction, and misery? You are the asses that have grass to eat; therefore you do not bray. You are the oxen that have fodder; therefore you do not low. It is the hungry ass that has no grass that brays. It is the starved ox, without fodder, that lows. It is the one that has the corn on his foot that knows best where the shoe pinches. Your theory is wrong that the afflictions of the righteous are punishments for sins, instead of the best possible circumstances under which the kings and priests of the Almighty can be developed for their high career of spiritual wealth, honor, and happiness, wherein they shall have double all they had before.
Another character is represented to us in the person of Elihu. He was young, vehement, pompous, and kindled with wrath, at Job because he was self-righteous, and at his friends because they condemned Job, without answering him. He advanced only one new thought, not presented by them; which was that God chastens man to "withdraw him from his purpose and hide pride from. man," to keep "back his soul from the pit, and his life from perishing by the sword." Ch. 33 :17, 18. That is that afflictions are prospective as well as retrospective; reformatory as well as punitive. And in view of this he does not think Job has had enough. "My desire is that Job may be tried unto the end, because of his answers for wicked men. For he addeth rebellion unto his sin, he clappeth his hands among us, and multiplieth his words against God." Ch. 34 : 36, 37. He would afflict him still more. He is a religious roundhead, and would preach the grace of God into this defiant cavalier at the point of the bayonet. How many vehement, over zealous Elihu's there are at the present day! Instead of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, and sheltering the storm-pelted and houseless sufferer, they would have him suffer still more. This is their idea of salvation. Consequently they comfort the poor child of sorrow by adding more fuel to the fire, with a view to burn sin and the devil out of him, and melt him down into a button of pure metal according to their ideas of refining.
The fourth and last character presented for our contemplation and instruction is God Almighty. He speaks from the whirlwind. He declares His infinite greatness, majesty, and sovereignty, and demands submission to his laws of development through trial and suffering. He accepted Job and condemned all the rest. "The Lord said to Eliphaz, the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath." Ch. 42 : 7. Patience under all the afflictions of this life, with sincerity, uprightness, and integrity, and entire submission to God, in all his dispensations, is the great lesson taught by this remarkable poem. The Book of Job therefore is an epitome of human life, with its manifold experiences, superinduced by a loving and sovereign God, as the divinely chosen circumstances, in the view of infinite wisdom, to develop the most illustrious types of human character, and bring many sons to glory. The versification of the Book of Job has been no easy task. The labor has been much greater than it would have required to write an original poem of four times its length. The terse, grand, and sublime parallelisms of Job have neither rhyme, nor rhythm; neither similarity of sounds at the end of the lines, nor measured feet. To fetter down his wild, abrupt, and exultant expressions by the rules of modern poetical composition, and yet retain the original thought; to compact his bold and sublime parallelisms into measured, flowing, and mellifluous numbers, with rhyming sounds at the end of each line, and with fidelity to the original, has been a difficult labor to perform. It has required me to read the original Hebrew,
And then to touch my sounding lute,
Sometimes an original word was found to be so copious in meaning as to require a line or more to interpret it. If therefore some lines are found in the versification which do not appear in the English version, it is because it was necessary to use a fuller method of interpretation to express the sense of the original in the rhyming, and rhythmical measure of modern poetry. But in no case have I departed from the original sense the poet intended to convey. In deep sympathy with the character of Job, and touched by similar sorrows, I have written this introduction, and translated his inimitable poem into verse. I am aware it is but poorly and imperfectly done. But such as it is, imploring leniency from the hypercritical, and charity from all, I bring this mite of sorrow, and lay the tear-moistened treasure in the indulgent reader's hands; hoping it may give rest to the weary, comfort to the mourner, hope to the despairing, faith to the down-hearted, joy to the afflicted, and confidence to all in the infinite mercy, justice, wisdom, power, and love of God to all his children, and especially to those who are smitten by affliction, and hidden in the secret places of grief.
History of Job; his sincerity, uprightness, piety, and prosperity. The assembling of the sons of God before the Almighty. Satan comes also. Jehovah's inquiry of Satan and his answer. His opinion of Job's fidelity. Satan believes Job's character to be the result of selfishness, caused by divine blessings, and if these favors were removed he would curse God to his face. Satan obtains leave of Jehovah to try Job, but not to touch his person. Satan departs to afflict Job. The domestic calamities which he brought upon him. Job's afflictions and resignation. Job's second trial. The sons of God again assemble before Jehovah. The Lord's inquiry of Satan where he had been, whether he had considered Job, and his integrity in the midst of his afflictions. Satan replies that his afflictions have been insufficient to test him, and that bodily sufferings were necessary; that then he would curse God to his face. The Almighty consents to a second trial, only stipulating that his life should be spared. Job's second afflictions. His wife tells him to curse God, and die. Job rebukes her, and submits to God. The visit of his three friends to condole with him, their amazement at the vastness of his calamities and sufferings. They sit down with Job, upon the ground, in silence, seven days and nights.
Celestial Goddess! breathe the sacred fire,