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Or why is light on mortal man bestowed,
FIRST SPEECH OE ELIPHAZ IN REPLY TO JOB.
Until now Job's three friends had remained silent. They had hitherto regarded him as "perfect and upright." But his bitter complaint, his rash speech, his insinuations against G-od, and his lack of submission create suspicions in their minds that he is a wicked man. Eliphaz, the wisest of the three, opens the discussion. He is calm, sagacious, urbane in manner, but searching and severe. His train of thought, pursued also by the rest, is that the. righteous are prospered, and the wicked punished; and that Job should repent, and turn to God. Eliphaz apologizes for speaking, points out the inconsistency of Job in complaining himself under trials, when he had so often exhorted others to patience, and resignation under their affliction^; and hints that this shows that Job is not a. good man. He intimates that no one ever perished, being innocent, and declares that he has always observed that the wicked are destroyed by God. He argues, in a very guarded, and masterly manner, that affliction implies guilt, and great calamities hypocrisy. He insinuates that Job cannot be what he had supposed he was, "perfect and upright," because of his misfortunes. Eliphaz illustrates this view of the case, by his own observations, and also by a vision, which he asserts he had, of a spirit appearing to him. He declares that he had often seen the wicked prospered for a. time, and then suddenly destroyed. He asserts that trouble comes not from chance; that it does not spring from the ground; that it is. appointed by God, and hence that it must be to punish the wicked. He advises Job therefore to commit his cause to God; he tells him that he himself would do so. He argues the reasonableness of this course, because G-od is great, and doeth wonderful things; that he controls all events, and rewards all according to their deserts. He concludes his speech by a statement of the beneficial effects of turning to G-od, and trusting in him. He illustrates this thought in several ways, and clearly insinuates that Job lacks the spirit of true piety, and that his calamities are in consequence of his sins.
Eliphaz then, in answer, sought to find,
Some prudent words with which to soothe his mind.
If we essay communion now with thee,
Wilt thou be grieved at this our friendly plea?
But who from words can now himself refrain?
That's heard the cause for which you thus complain?
Behold, how many, plunged in troubles sore,
Hast thou instructed, oft, thyself before?
How oft, with counsel, and with friendly plans,
Hast thou confirmed the weak, and feeble hands?
Thy words the stumbling oft upheld with ease,
And strengthened much the weak and bowing knees.
But now alas ! this dreadful, sore, complaint-,
Has come on thee, and thou dost quickly faint.
It toucheth thee, with unexpected strokes,
And thou art troubled sore as other folks.
Doth not thy fear continue still to be,
The ground of future confidence with thee?
Is not th> uprightness of thy former ways,
The hope that animates thy coming days?
Remember this, and to its truth assent,
Who ever perished, being innocent?
Or where's the proof, though mockers vainly scoff,
That righteous men were ever once cut off?
But oft examples heretofore have been,
That they who plough iniquity and sin;
And sow their wickedness, devoid of shame,
In harvest reap, and gather back the same.
They perish surely by the blast of God,
As chosen victims of his smiting rod |