Job 31
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
Job can discover no connection between his present sufferings and those well-founded hopes of his former life to which he has been referring; but there remains the assumption of his guilt as an explanation. In his intense longing for redemption he is led, in conclusion, to affirm in the most solemn and sacred manner his innocence, invoking the sorest punishments upon himself if his words are untrue. Thus, in effect, he makes a final appeal to God as his Judge. In this solemn assurance of innocence, he begins with that which is the root and source of sin - evil lust; he then touches on the sins proceeding from it, and explains the rule of life and the disposition of heart which rendered him incapable of the commission of such sins.


1. He had governed the eye and restrained its lust. He had guarded that noble organ, which may be either the avenue of purest pleasures or the tempter to most shameful vice. He had prescribed to the eye its conduct and its law. The eye seems almost as much the receptacle and scat of our passions, appetites, and inclinations as the mind itself; at least it is the outward portal to introduce them to the mind within, or rather the common thoroughfare to let our affections pass in and out. Love, anger, pride, avarice, all visibly move in those little orbs (Addison). It is not enough to watch over the heart, the inner citadel of the man, but all its avenues - the eye, the ear, the hand, the foot - must be guarded against the approach of sin.

2. He had referred himself in this to the judgment and the all-seeing eye of God (compare Joseph, Genesis 39:9; and Psalm 139:2, sqq.). The thought of men's knowledge is often a more powerful deterrent from actual crime; it is the thought of God which alone can sanctify and keep in safety the heart. Job rises above the mere commandments of the Law. Law forbids the desire of others' goods (Exodus 20:17; Deuteronomy 5:21) - a negative virtue; Christ carries us directly to God, and bids us be pure in heart that we may behold him. To live consciously in the eye of God is to have a pure and right direction for our own.

II. FIRST PROTESTATION: EVIL DESIRES HAVE NOT BEEN YIELDED TO. (Vers. 5-8.) He did not "go about with falsehood," nor did his foot hasten to deceit. May God, he says, pausing, weigh him in a just balance, and, instead of being found wanting like Belshazzar (Daniel 5:27), may his integrity be known and proved! Among the Greeks, Themis, or Dike, held the scales symbolical of judgment; the Arabs speak of judgment as the "balance of works." Every man's work, every man's character, shall finally be tried, proved, made known; and many that are last shall be first, and the first last. His steps had not turned out of the right way, the way marked out and appointed by God; no stain of ill-gotten wealth had cleaved to his hands (Psalm 101:5; Deuteronomy 13:17). Another imprecation, ratifying his assurances of innocence: "Then let me sow, and let another eat" - let another enjoy the fruit of his ill-spent, dishonest toil (comp. Job 27:16, 17; Leviticus 26:16; Deuteronomy 28:33; Amos 5:11); and let his shoots - the plants of the earth which he has set - be rooted out!


1. His chastity. (Vers. 9-12.) He had not been befooled into any gross sin against the marriage-tie. He expresses the utmost detestation of such sin. "It would be a crime, and a sin before the judges." It would be as a devouring fire, resting not in its course until it had brought the criminal to the pit of hell, and all his property had been rooted out (comp. Proverbs 6:27, et sqq.; Proverbs 7:26, 27; James 3:6).

2. His conduct towards his domestic slaves. He had not abused the rights of his menservants or maidservants. His relation to them was patriarchal, like that of Abraham to Eliezer of Damascus (Genesis 15:2; Genesis 24:2, et seq.). He felt that he and they, masters and slaves, were of one blood, the children of one Father, offspring of one Creator; how could he, were he guilty of sin against them, face the dread tribunal of God? "Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us?" (Malachi 2:10). Refer to St. Paul's exhortation to masters (Ephesians 6:9). The relations of masters and servants, employers and employed, have undergone vast changes since those ancient days. We all live under the equal protection of the laws of the land, and the general spirit of the law is to protect the weaker against the stronger, the poor against the encroachment of the rich. But in Christianity this relation receives a new meaning and sanctity by being brought under the great central relation in which we stand to Christ. And we have a beautiful example of the Christian treatment of the servant in St. Paul's Epistle to Philemon. To set our servants good examples, and to care for their moral and spiritual welfare, is the duty of a Christian master or mistress.

IV. HIS JUST AND COMPASSIONATE CONDUCT IN SOCIAL LIFE. (Vers. 16-23; comp. Job 29:12-17.) He did not refuse his interiors their wishes when it was in his power to gratify them; did not withhold what he had the ability to give, nor shut up his compassions towards his poor brother; did not leave the widow to languish in longing expectation of help. He had not eaten alone in solitary greed a rich repast, like Dives; he had shared his bread with the orphan. All his life long he had been a father to the fatherless, a support to the widow, thus seeking to follow and imitate the all-compassionate God; to reproduce his heavenly pity in a gentle life on earth Psalm 68:5) He had clothed the neglected and the poor, and earned their thanks and blessing. In his capacity as ruler and judge he had not lifted up his hand with the purpose of violence; he had not perverted his great influence in the gate, or place of justice, to do them wrong. Forced to self-defence, he sets the seal of a most solemn imprecation upon his testimony concerning the past. And, further, he again sets forth the deep religious ground on which all his conduct to his neighbours was built. It was the fear of God, which is the beginning of all piety, the root of all morality, the great deterrent from sin. It was' therefore, morally impossible for him to have committed the sins laid to his charge (ver. 28).. Here from the ancient patriarchal world shines out upon us a picture of those social virtues which are essentially the same in every age and every land. These are the primal duties which gleam aloft like stars, or adorn the earth like flowers. Our duties to our inferiors in wealth and status are an essential part of Christian piety. We are to do good when we can hope for nothing again. The poor cannot recompense us, but we shall be recompensed at the resurrection of the just (Luke 14:14; Matthew 25:36). Much converse with the weak and the lowly produces simplicity of heart, and chastens our feverish ambition to shine among our equals or superiors.

"Far other aims our hearts will learn to prize,
More bent to raise the wretched than to rise." Compare the whole picture of the village pastor in Goldsmith's ' Deserted Village.' The contemplation of these pictures, in the poet's description or in actual life, sweetens the heart, calms our thoughts; above all, we are thus led to dwell with still more delight on the sacred picture of him who went about doing good, the Divine Type of all compassion and condescension.

V. JOB'S INWARD LIFE: THE FINER CONSCIENTIOUSNESS. (Vers. 24-40.) He proceeds to mention several sins of a more depraved and base character, defending himself against the charge of complicity with them.

1. The lust of gold. (Vers. 24, 25.) He had not put his trust in riches. The deadliness of the sin of covetousness has been among the lessons of all moralists, sacred and profane. The "accursed hunger for gold," the "root of all evil;" "Thy money perish with thee;" "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee;" "Take heed, and beware of covetousness;" are sayings that occur to us all. This is really the most fruitful source of all the darker crimes and sins, because there is no passion so unsocial, so anti-social. Men lose their souls to save their pelf. "Covetousness is the alpha and omega of the devil's alphabet; the first vice in corrupt nature which moves, and the last which dies." It is an "immoderate desire and pursuit of even the lawful helps and supports of nature." "Holding fast all it can get in one hand, and reaching at all it can desire with the other." "It has enriched its thousands, and damned its ten thousands."

2. Idolatry and blind worship of power. (Ver. 26, et sec.) As he had kept his heart with all diligence in presence of the temptations of gold, so he had watched against the inducements of false religion. In presence of the glorious objects of nature, the worship of which so extensively prevailed in the East, and at one period probably over the whole world, he had refrained from throwing towards them the kiss which was the gesture of reverence. For his heart had been touched with true reverence for its alone worthy Object, the God who is a Spirit; and to have declined to these beggarly elements would have been a crime against conscience, a practical infidelity, a denial of the God above. If we have ever been taught and trained in a spiritual faith, we cannot lapse into mere formalism - a confusion of the external symbol with the living reality - without a denial of our spiritual conscience, a turning of the light within us into darkness. To bow before the mere power and beauty revealed in nature, ignoring God as the Author both of nature and of the moral law: or to make worship a mere sensuous enjoyment rather than a spiritual exercise; are subtle temptations of our time analogous to those of Job. Our view of Nature is only religious when we seek through her sensuous medium for the supersensuous, the moral, the Divine (compare Mozley's noble sermon on "Nature").

3. Hatred of enemies. (Ver. 29, et seq.) He had lived in the light of a most lofty morality. The general principle of ancient morality was, "Love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy," among both Jews and Gentiles. "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," was the maxim of the savage justice of the early times. Even the great Aristotle says, in his 'Ethics,' "They who are not enraged when they ought to be, seem to be weak creatures; to endure insults and neglect one's friends is the part of a slave" ('Eth. Nic.,' 4:5). "The first duty of justice," says Cicero, "is to injure no one, unless provoked by a wrong ('Off.,' 1:7). Let us contrast with this the gentle morality of Heaven. The Law of Moses ordained that if a man should meet his enemy's ass or his ox going astray, he should surely bring it back to him again (Exodus 23:4). Men were not to avenge, nor bear any grudge against others, but to love their neighbours as themselves (Leviticus 19:18). Especially do we find this doctrine preached in the Book of Proverbs, Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the Lord, and he will save thee" (Leviticus 20:22); "Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thy heart be glad when he stumbleth" (Leviticus 24:17); "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink" (Leviticus 25:21). Job had not defiled his mouth with curses imprecating death upon his foes. Nor had his morality been negative merely, which is all that many seem able to conceive of one's duties to one's neighbours. He had been hospitable and generous (vers. 31, 32). The "people of his tent," the inmates of his dwelling, had never to complain of scant fare, of short commons, at his table. He did not leave the stranger to pass the night in the street, but opened his doors to the wanderer.

"No surly porter stood in guilty state,
To spurn imploring famine from the gate....
His house was known to all the vagrant train
He chid their wanderings, but relieved their pain." Compare the stories of Abraham's hospitality at Mature. Lot's at Sodom, of the old man at Giheah (Genesis 18. [Hebrews 13:2]; Judges 19:15, et seq.). Among peoples who led an unsettled, wandering life, hospitality necessarily became one of the foremost of duties to one's neighbour; and there are many Arab popular anecdotes of Divine punishment of the inhospitable. Wetstein says that while exploring the lake Ram, the fountain of the Jordan, the Bedouins asked him if he had not heard of the origin of the lake; and related that many centuries ago a flourishing village once stood there. One evening a poor traveller came while the men were sitting together in the open place of the village, and begged for a supper and lodging. They refused; and when he said he was starving, an old woman reached out to him a clod of earth, and drove him from the village. The man went to the village of Nimra hard by, where he was taken in. The next morning a lake was found where the neighbouring village had stood. The conditions of modern life are different. The place of hospitality in the scale of social duties is changed. But for all who have enough and to spare of this world's goods, there remains open a wide field of Christian beneficence and of refined culture in the practice of a sincere and discriminating hospitality. The model lesson on this subject is in Luke 14. It is a deep lesson that no man is poorer for all the expense of love. It is the habit of needless hoarding that empties the heart. When the affections are centred on the granary, or the counting-house, or the bank, or the fields, the man's wealth is imaginary, not real. Real wealth lies in the power of self-sufficiency for our outward condition, and of having something over for others. "Use hospitality without grudging;" "God loveth a cheerful giver." "The world teaches me that it is madness to leave what I may carry with me; Christianity teaches me that what I charitably give while I live I may carry with me after death; experience teaches me that what I leave behind I lose. I will carry with me by giving away that treasure which the worldling loses by keeping; and thus, while his corpse shall carry nothing but a winding-sheet to his grave, I shall be richer underground than I was above it" (Bishop Hall).

4. Hypocrisy and concealment of sins. (Vers. 33-40.) The way of man (or of "Adam") is to hide guilt, and bear a hypocritical front. The motive of such concealment is suggested in ver. 34 - the fear of the great multitude, or of the nobler families who were one's equals and associates. So may a guilty conscience lay a weight upon the tongue; as in Plutarch's story of Demosthenes, who, having taken a bribe, refused to speak in the assembly, appearing there with his throat muffled up, and complaining of a quinsy; whereupon one cried out," He is not suffering from a throat-quinsy but from a money-quinsy." "Garments once rent are liable to be torn on every nail and every brier, and glasses once cracked are soon broken; such is a good man's name, once tainted with just reproach. Next to the approbation of God, and the testimony of my own conscience, I will seek for a good reputation among men; not by concealing faults lest they should be known to my shame, but by avoiding all sins that I may not deserve it. It is difficult to do good, unless we be reputed good" (Bishop Hall).

5. Renewed protestations. Would that he had one to hear this his assurance of innocence! He is thinking of God, and he desires his judicial interference in his favour. "Behold, there is my handwriting; let the Almighty answer me." As if he should say, "Here is the original of my justification, with my signature attached. This is my documentary defence; let the Almighty try it, and let his judgment be given" On the other hand, would that he had the accusation, the statement as it were of the prosecution against him (ver. 35). He here thinks of God as his Accuser, and longs to know what he has against him! Had he this document, he would bearit like a mark of honour upon his shoulder (for the idea, comp. Isaiah 9:4; Isaiah 22:22), or like a diadem for his head. Such is the triumphant consciousness of innocence. He would declare to God the number of his steps - would conceal nothing, but confess all to him. He would approach him like a prince, with stately step and unabashed port, as becomes one whose conscience is clear (ver. 37). Lastly, by some additional light of memory now flashing on his mind at the close of his protestation, he gives a special example of his freedom from the guilt of blood. His had been no life containing deeds like that of Ahab to Naboth (1 Kings 21:1). No such fearful crime was the cause of his sufferings. "If my land cries against me " - for revenge, because of some crime against a former possessor - "and its furrows weep; if I have wasted its power, its fruit and produce, without payment, and blasted the life of its possessor," by violence, "instead of wheat let thorns spring forth, and instead of barley stinking weeds." That consciousness of God's omniscience, which strikes terror into the secret sinner, is a comfort to the heart of the sincere child of God. The daybreak frightens the robber, but cheers the honest traveller. Thou that art sincere, God sees that sincerity in thee which others cannot discern; yea, he often sees more sincerity in thy heart than thou caner discern thyself, This may uphold the drooping spirits of a disconsolate soul when the black mouths of men, steeled with ignorance and prejudice, shall be opened in hard speeches against him. How severely, though blindly, do they judge of men's hearts! But here the sincere soul may comfort itself when on the one hand it can reflect upon its own integrity, and on the other upon God's infinite infallible knowledge, and say, "Indeed, men charge me with this and this, as false-hearted and a hypocrite, but my God knows otherwise" As Daniel, by trusting in God, was secure from the mouths of the lions, so thou, by having faith in and drawing comfort from God's omniscience, mayest defy the more cruel mouths of thy persecutors. When a man is accused of treason to his prince, and knows that his prince is fully assured of his innocence, he will laugh all such accusations to scorn. It is thus with God and a sincere heart. In the midst of all slanders he will own thee for innocent, as he did Job, when his friends, with much specious piety, charged him with hypocrisy. Wherefore commit thy way to the all-seeing God - to that God who is acquainted with all thy ways; who sees thy goings out and thy comings in, and continually goes in and out before thee, and will one day testify and set his seal to thine integrity. Comfort thyself in the consideration of his omniscience, from whence it is that God judgeth not as man judgeth, but judgeth righteous judgment; and hold fast thy integrity that lies secret in the heart, whose praise is of God, and not of man (South). - J.

The Divine solution of the riddle of human life is being wrought out in this poem, although at times it seems as though the entanglement became more and more confused. The case, as put in these three chapters, is the condensation of all as far as it has gone. It still awaits the solution. Job was in riches, dignity, and honour; he is now cast down to ignominy and suffering. Yet he is righteous - this, at least, is his own conviction; and in this chapter he makes his appeal to the facts of his history and invites scrutiny, and judgment if he be found guilty. This is the progress of the writing up to the present moment. His companions are baffled. They know of no other explanation of such suffering than deep and hidden sin. It will yet be proved that the godly suffer - "he whom thou lovest is sick" - although the world will long wait for a verbal explanation; and even now does the cry never ascend to heaven, "Wherefore dealest thou thus with me?" Job's appeal to the uprightness of his life and to his perfect integrity relates to the whole of his conduct, and to the various conditions in which he has been placed. The outward Divine testimony, he is "a perfect and an uptight man," has its echo in Job's breast. Hence he makes his appeal -

I. TO HIS CHASTITY. He makes his appeal in the sight of the all-searching One - to him who seeth "my ways" and counteth "all my steps."











XII. TO HIS EXEMPTION FROM COVERT OR OPEN SIN. He hid no iniquity in his bosom, and therefore feared not the presence of men. Hypocrisy was not his failing. He makes his final appeal to his honesty and uprightness of dealing even by a reference to his fidelity to the very fields which he owned. Well might such a man long for a true judgment - for an open ear into which he could pour his complaint. Well may such a man commit himself to Jehovah's judgment, knowing "the Almighty will answer for me." Thus does Job vindicate his integrity and make his appeal to the highest tribunal. - R.G.

I. ITS CONCENTRATION ON CONDUCT. God sees Job's ways. He is not confined to the observation of external deeds, for he reads the hearts of men and he judges by the course of the inner life. Still, it is by a man's actions, including the internal actions, that God judges a man. What is of most concern to our great Master is how we exercise our will, what way we choose to walk in, how we shape our daily conduct. He cares little for our opinions and emotions, except in so far as these guide and influence our behaviour. If, then, God values conduct chiefly, conduct should be of primary importance with us. Whatever other things we may be anxious about, our first anxiety should be to see that our ways are right.

II. ITS ABSOLUTE THOROUGHNESS. Job speaks of God as counting all his steps. Therefore God takes note of every one of them. No false step can escape his notice. The little slip is not unseen by God. He sees us stumble when we do not fall, and observes how we stray for a brief time, even though we afterwards return to the right path. This truth has an encouraging side to it. God knows how many steps we have taken; therefore if the way is long and weary he has not forgotten us, and he can Rive us rest and strength. He knows how many steps we have yet to take; therefore he will give us a sufficient supply of grace, whether the road be long or short, and he will not expect more of us than the length or brevity of life permits.

III. ITS PROMPTING MOTIVE. God does not watch as a spy, like Satan when he was eager to detect some weakness in Job in order to inform against him (Job 1:7-10); nor with any design of ruining, like Satan who now goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8); nor with cold curiosity, amusing himself with the frailties of his children; nor with merely judicial insight, seeking for truth and dealing fairly, but with no sympathy or interest in his creatures. God watches with the most profound interest - with the interest of love. His watchfulness is like that of the mother who bends over the cradle, carefully noting every changing symptom in her ailing child.

IV. ITS ULTIMATE RESULTS. God does not watch for nothing. He is more than an inspector; he acts according to what he sees, and his watching is followed by his doing.

1. Sin cannot go unpunished. There is no eluding the eye of the great Watcher of men. The foolish notion that secrecy may find a door of escape is only a delusion when we have to deal with one who knows everything, to whom all secrets are open.

2. Need cannot suffer from neglect. The poor and suffering are forgotten among men, and miserable people drop out of sight after they have fallen into adversity, for great cities hide multitudes of unknown and solitary sufferers. Yet God counts every painful step in the path of disappointment, and as he knows all he will assuredly give the needful help. Because he saw the condition of men he provided for their recovery by redemption through the gift of his Son, - W.F.A.

Job only desires to be weighed in an even balance. He feels that his friends have judged him in anything but a fair manner, and he now craves for the true justice of God.

I. THE JUSTICE OF AN EVEN BALANCE IS GREATLY TO BE DESIRED. People have taken a very narrow view of justice, so narrow a view as to be practically false and most fallacious. Justice has been regarded as the power that punishes sin, and while, of course, this is true, this is not a description of the true nature and ultimate character of it, but only a statement of one of its special functions - a function which would not exist if sin had not entered the world. Yet justice would have an ample field if there were no wickedness. It is not like the executioner, whose occupation would be gone with the cessation of lawlessness. Justice is righteousness. It is the principle that insists on seeing right done. Every lover of the good must desire to see such a principle flourish. Between man and man justice is fairness. When we say God deals justly we imply that he deals fairly. This may not mean equality. For to load a mule with the same burden we would put on an elephant's back is not fair dealing st all. Equity is not equality. But it is a suitable and proportionate dealing with each individual

II. THE JUSTICE OF AN EVEN BALANCE IS RARE AMONG MEN. Job did not see it, and therefore he greatly longed for it. Many things falsify the scales of justice.

1. Prejudice. Truth should be on one side of the scales - as in the Egyptian legend of weighing the souls of the dead. But prejudice either pares the weight of truth and so lessens its value, or adds its own weight.

2. Self-interest. Justice should be impartial; but men are not. A pure detachment of mind is very difficult to acquire. Instead of considering merit, people take account of what pleases them or what may be. profitable to them.

3. Ignorance. When there is the utmost genuineness of desire to weigh justly, we may make a mistake simply because we do not put all the facts into the scale.


1. Pure equity. He allows no prejudice to warp his judgment, no self interest to pervert his verdict. God is perfectly just in his own character. Therefore he can judge men justly. Being righteous himself, he is never prompted to act otherwise than righteously.

2. Knowledge. God makes none of the unintentional mistakes that are so common with men. The whole tangled mass of events is unravelled by his perfectly penetrating gaze. When we despair of having a case truly seen by our fellow-men, we can lift up our eyes to the great Judge of all the earth and be assured that he knows all Surely, then, it is most necessary to stand right with the justice of God, that this may vindicate and not condemn us. But only the God-given righteousness in Christ can make this possible to us. ? W.F.A.

Job justly regards adultery as a heinous crime which is deserving of punishment;

I. THE GREAT EVIL OF THIS CRIME. It contains within it a combination of various dreadful kinds of wickedness.

1. Unfaithfulness. Husband and wife have vowed to be true to one another. Adultery is a breach of marriage vows. Even if purity were not originally binding, the voluntary assumption of the yoke of matrimony would have made it so. The sin of unfaithfulness to the marriage tie is one of breaking a most solemn promise.

2. Cruelty. This is not a sin that can be committed wholly on one's own account. A grievous and irreparable wrong is done to another. For the sake of selfish pleasure, a home, which might have been a centre of love and joy, is torn to pieces by outraged jealousy and made miserable with the total wreck of the hopes of youth.

3. Impurity. Some have thought that, as happiness does not always accompany marriage, "free love" would be more desirable. It is forgotten that the very term is a misnomer. No true love can exist without constancy and fidelity. When those virtues are removed, what is called love is at best a passing fancy; at worst it is a foul passion. The soul of the adulterer is stained and corrupted.

4. Godlessness. This great sin darkens the vision of God. It involves a violation of a Divine institution, and is thus unfaithfulness to God as well as to a human companion. The soul of the adulterer is lost to the life of holiness and the true service of God.


1. Not by the abolition of marriage. This is but the refuge of despair. It is said in some quarters that marriage is a failure. But wherever it is a failure some of its necessary ingredients have been neglected. If there is no true love, if sympathy is wanting, if mutual forbearance is not practised, the close union of husband and wife must lead to perpetual quarrelling. But what we want is to raise the standard of marriage. The abolition of lifelong marriage is virtually the abolition of that most sacred Christian institution - the family. It must open the floodgates of vice by allowing suggestions, of licence that are now,. at least, to some extent, kept in check by the social conscience that respects the marriage tie.

2. By the most effectual form of reprobation. Job considered it to be an iniquity to be punished by the judges. This was the old Jewish method, and the Puritans of New England attempted to revive it. But great difficulties stand in the way of criminal prosecutions for adultery. Moreover, it is not the function of the state to punish vice, but to prevent direct or indirect injuries. Now, though adultery is an injury, the course for a legal treatment of it as such is not clear. But this does not mean that the vice should go unchecked. It deserves the severest social stigma. It lies under the wrath of God. It should be prevented as far as possible by a wise and pure bringing up of the young and the inculcation of principles of social purity. - W.F.A.

Job here reminds us of the Egyptian 'Book of the Dead,' in which the soul, summoned before its judges, recites a long list of sins, and declares itself innocent of them all. In this chapter the patriarch runs over many kinds of wickedness, and invokes just punishment if he has been guilty of any of them. His self-vindication has been forced from him by the repeated false accusations of his friends. We know that Job was not without the consciousness of sin; but he was not guilty of the crimes and of the great deeds of wickedness which had boon charged against him. Among other evil things, he honestly repudiates resting his hope and confidence in gold.

I. THE FASCINATION OF THE HOPE OF GOLD. This hope has a wide influence over men. It is not by any means confined to the owners of wealth. The poor make too much of' the hope of gold which they covet, while the rich overvalue that which is within their grasp. The passion for gold goes mad at the diggings; but it is found in sober walks of business life. Let us consider its sources.

1. Wide purchasing power. Gold is not sought for its glitter. The old miser who dived his hand into his bags of coins with wild glee is extinct. The modern gold-worshipper is too wise to hoard his money uselessly. But whether the money is spent or not it is held as a potential good. It buys all visible commodities. People come to think that whatever they want can be had for gold.

2. Materialism. The habit of engrossing one's self with earthly things appears to enlarge the value of gold by blotting out of view everything that is above the earth. The heavens are lost sight of, and the universe shrinks into the circle of the objects that can be procured for money.

II. THE FATALITY OF THE HOPE OF GOLD. The fascination is fatal; it lures ruin.

1. It lowers the soul. The worshipper is always being assimilated to his idol. He who adores gold comes to have a heart that is as hard and earthly as the metal he is enslaved to. Thus all the finer spiritual qualities are crushed and quenched, and a sordid appetite for money dominates the inner man.

2. It encourages selfishness. The hope is for one's sell We see this in the frightfully prevalent vice of gambling. The infatuated gambler is intoxicated with an excitement the root of which is pure greed, heartless selfishness. His gains are not productions, adding to the wealth of the world, but simply and solely what can be got out of other people's possessions. His whole profit is made by the loss of other people. Gambling is the most antisocial vice.

3. It leads to crime. Gold is thought more of than truth or duty, or the rights of one's neighbour.

4. It is dishonouring to God. God is the true Hope of his children. When men turn from him to gold they turn to an idol, and are unfaithful to their Lord.

5. It ends in disappointment. Gold cannot buy the best things - peace of mind, purity, love, heaven. Midas is a failure in the end. We must learn to see the limits of the utility of money, and look beyond them for our true hope and confidence in what is better than gold - the unsearchable fiches of Christ. - W.F.A.

Job asks whether he has hidden his sin, and shrunk from public exposure for fear of the multitude? On the contrary, he has been frank and fearless, daring to face the world because he is true and honest.

I. THE GUILTY MAN IS AFRAID OF PUBLIC EXPOSURE. This is a common feeling. It is "after the manner of men." It was seen in Adam hiding in the garden. Shame follows sin. Guilt creates cowardice. He who held his head aloft in his innocence dares not look on his fellows when he has committed a crime. Every eye seems to follow him with suspicion. His imagination transforms the most unconcerned passerby into a detective. Fear magnifies the importance of trifles, till the smallest events seem to be links in a chain that is dragging the miserable criminal down to ruin. He feels himself caught in a net, and he knows not which way to turn for release.

II. THERE IS NO MORAL WORTH IN THE FEAR OF PUBLIC EXPOSURE. The sinner is not conscious of inward unworthiness, or at least this is not his strongest feeling. All he dreads is public exposure. He is not repentant of his sin; he is only ashamed of its disgrace. Moreover, though he is so fearful of discovery by man, he has no thought that God's eye is on him, and no concern that God disapproves of him. His one thought is of his fellow-men, the opinion of the world. This fear is altogether low and selfish. It does not spring from conscience; it only concerns itself with the consequences of wickedness, not with the wickedness itself. It has no regard for the outraged law; it only thinks of the threatening punishment. That punishment may come in visible penalties. The criminal may have to go to prison or the gallows, or when the mob seizes its victim it may "lynch" him. The terror of a miserable creature who is hiding from the expected vengeance of the people must be an awful agony. Nevertheless, there is nothing to touch the higher nature in this. Possibly, however, the fear is only of a social stigma. The man who had been in a position of honour finds himself an object of universal contempt. The disgrace is unbearable. He bides his head for very shame. He is miserably selfish in his degradation.

III. IT IS A HAPPY THING TO HAVE NO OCCASION FOR THE SHAME OF PUBLIC EXPOSURE. Some men are so sunken in wickedness that they are beneath shame, so familiar with disgrace that they do not feel it. No doubt it would be a step upward for such men to awake to a consciousness of their abject condition. But for those who are not lost to all sense of public decency, it certainly is well to be able to stand out boldly before the world and not dread investigation. Yet even when this can be done there may be misunderstandings that lead to false accusations, or there may be worldly sins that our fellow-men do not condemn. Therefore he who remembers that he has to give account of himself to God will not be satisfied with winning the approval of his fellows, nor cast down to despair if he loses it, so long as he has the smile of his supreme Master. When a man's conscience is clear towards Heaven, he need fear no public exposure. He may meet with social contempt, like the martyrs. But though this may be painful to him, he can be calm and patient, knowing that in the end God will vindicate the right. - W.F.A.

Job desires something like a legal indictment. His experience suggests confusion, uncertainty, irregularity. He sets "his mark," and now he wants his Adversary - who, to Job's thought, can be none other than his Judge, God - to draw up an indictment that he may know once for all what charges are brought against him.

I. MAN CANNOT UNDERSTAND GOD'S DEALINGS WITH HIM. This thought repeatedly recurs in the Book of Job; it is one of the great lessons of the poem. We can now see that Job was almost as much misjudging God as the three friends were misjudging Job. But at the time it was not possible for the patriarch to comprehend the Divine purpose in his sufferings. Had he known all, much of the gracious design of his trial would have been frustrated. The very obscurity was a necessary condition for the testing of faith. While we are enduring trial we can rarely see the issue of it. Our view is almost limited to the immediate present. Moreover, there are future consequences of God's present treatment of us which we could not truly comprehend if they were visible to us. The child is not capable of valuing his education and appreciating the good results of it. The patient is not able to understand the medical or surgical treatment he is made to undergo. While we walk by faith, we must learn to expect dispensations of providence that are quite beyond our comprehension.


1. That doubts may be removed. It is difficult not to distrust God when he seems to be dealing hardly with us. If only he would roll back the clouds we should be at rest.

2. For our own guidance. Is God accusing us of sin? Are we to take his chastisements as punishments? Then what are the sins in us that he most disapproves of?

III. GOD DOES NOT PUNISH WITHOUT ALLOWING US TO SEE THE GROUNDS OF HIS ACTION. Job craved an indictment. He wanted to see the charges against him in black and white,

1. When we are guilty conscience will reveal the fact. It would be monstrous to condemn and punish the criminal without even letting him know of the offence with which he is charged. We dare not ascribe such injustice to God. He has implanted within us an accusing voice that echoes his accusations. If we seek for light and the guidance of conscience, we must be able to see how we have sinned and come under the wrath of God.

2. When no consciousness of guilt is to be found the suffering cannot be for the punishment of sin. We are all conscious of sin, but sin may be forgiven; we may not be falling away from God, but cleaving to him - though with weakness and sin in our hearts, still with faithful adhesion. Then God will not punish. If, therefore, the blow falls, it is for some other than a penal reason. Consequently, we need not search about anxiously for some unseen and unsuspected wickedness. Job made a mistake in asking for an indictment. There was none, simply because there was not any ground for one. Over-scrupulous consciences suspect the wrath of Heaven when the gracious purging of the fruitful branch is really a sign of the husbandman's appreciation of it. - W.F.A..

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