But I have understanding as well as you.
Homilist.Now in these verses Job asserts his moral manhood, he rises from the pressure of his sufferings and the loads of sophistry and implied calumny which his friends had laid upon his spirit, speaks out with the heart of a true man. We have an illustration of independency of thought in religion, and this shall be our subject. A man though crushed in every respect, like Job, should not surrender this.
I. FROM THE CAPACITY OF THE SOUL.
1. Man has a capacity to form conceptions of the cardinal principles of religion. He can think of God, the soul, duty, moral obligation, Christ, immortality, etc.
2. Man has a capacity to realise the practical force of these conceptions. He can turn them into emotions to fire his soul; he can embody — them as principles in his life.
II. FROM THE DESPOTISM OF CORRUPT RELIGION. Corrupt religion, whether Pagan or Christian, Papal or Protestant, always seeks to crush this independency in the individual soul.
III. FROM THE NECESSARY MEANS OF PERSONAL RELIGION. Religion in the soul begins in individual thinking.
IV. FROM THE CONDITIONS OF MORAL USEFULNESS. Every man is bound to be spiritually useful, but he cannot be so without knowledge, and knowledge implies independent study and conviction.
V. FROM THE TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE. The very existence of the Bible implies our power and obligation in this matter.
VI. FROM THE TRANSACTIONS OF THE JUDGMENT. In the great day of God men will have to give an account of their thoughts and words as well as deeds. Let us, therefore, have the spirit of Job, and when amongst bigots who seek to impose their views on us and override our judgment, let us say, "No doubt ye are the people, end wisdom shall die with you; but I have understanding as well as you."
I am as one mocked of his neighbour, who calleth upon God, and He answereth.
1. It is the privilege of the saints, when men fail and reject them, to make God their refuge and their recourse to heaven.
2. The repulses which we meet with in the world, should drive us nearer to God.
3. Prayer and seeking unto God are not in vain or fruitless.
4. As it is sinful, so it is extremely dangerous to mock those who have the ear of God, or acceptance with God in prayer.
But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee.
1. The great lesson which the animal creation, regarded simply as the creature and subject of God, is fitted to teach us, is a lesson of the wisdom and power and constant beneficence of God. Job reminds the friends that what they had been laying down to him in so pompous a manner constituted only the mere elements of natural religion, and that a man had only to look around him and observe and ponder the phenomena of the visible universe, to be abundantly convinced that God, the maker of all things, was also the upholder of all things, and the supreme disposer of all events. Job sends us to the animal creation that we may gather from it instances of the greatness of the Creator's hand, and the constancy of the Creator's providence. Himself invisible, God is revealed in all the work of His hands, and it needs but the observing eye and the candid judgment to satisfy every one of His being and His perfections. God reveals Himself no less in the lapse of events than in the arrangements of creation. There is no nation, there is no household, but has in the record of its own experience abundant manifestations of His constant, and wise, and gracious superintendence of the affairs of earth. In the lesson which is thus taught to us concerning God, the animal creation bears its part. Not one of the creatures but is "fearfully and wonderfully made"; not one of them but is wisely and mercifully provided for. For every one of them there is a place, and to this each is adapted with transcendent skill and beneficence. Even the lower animals may be our teachers and speak to us of God.
2. The way in which the creatures spend their life, and use the powers which God has given them. In many respects they are examples to us, and by the propriety of their conduct rebuke the folly and wickedness of ours. The beasts, etc., will teach us the following things as characteristic of their manner of life.(1) They constantly and unceasingly fulfil the end of their being.(2) They are seen always to live according to their nature.(3) They teach us to seek happiness according to our nature and capacity, and with a prudent foresight to avoid occasions of disaster and sorrow. Man stands rebuked by "the brutes that perish."
(W. Lindsay Alexander, D. D.)
I. THE EXPERIENCE OF HUMAN LIFE. The fact that Job here refers to — the prosperity of wicked men, may be regarded —
1. As one of the most common facts of human experience. All men in all lands and ages have observed it, and still observe it. It is capable of easy explanation: the conditions of worldly prosperity are such that sometimes the wicked man can attend to them in a more efficient way than the righteous. As a rule, the more greed, cunning, tact, activity, and the less conscience and modesty a man has, the more likely he is to succeed in the scramble for wealth.
2. One of the most perplexing facts in human experience. What thoughtful man in passing through life has not asked a hundred times, "Wherefore do the wicked prosper?" and has not felt, with Asaph, stumbling into infidelity as he saw the prosperity of the wicked?
3. One of the most predictive facts in human experience. This fact points to retribution.
II. THE HISTORY OF INFERIOR LIFE. "But ask now the beasts, and they shall teach thee," etc. Solomon sends us to the ant; Agur to the coney, the locust, the spider; Isaiah to the ox and the ass; Jeremiah to the stork, the turtledove, the crane, the swallow; and the Heavenly Teacher Himself to the fowls of the air. Job's argument is that the same lack of interference on God's part in the free operations of men in this life, in punishing the wicked and rewarding the good, you see around you in all the lower stages of life. Look to the beasts of the field. Does the Governor of the world interfere to crush the lion, the tiger, the panther, or the wolf from devouring the feebler creation of His hands? Does He come to the rescue of the shrieking, suffering victims? Behold the "fowls of the air." See the eagle, the vulture, the hawk pouncing down on the dove, the thrush, the blackbird, or the robin. Does He interfere to arrest their flight, or curb their savage instincts? "Speak to the earth." See the noxious weeds choking the flowers, stealing away life from the fruit trees, does He send a blast to wither the pernicious herb? Not He. Turn to the "fishes of the sea." Does He prevent the whale, the shark, and other monsters from devouring the smaller tenants of the deep? No; He allows all these creatures to develop their instincts and their propensities. It is even so with man. He allows man full scope here to work out what is in him, to get what he can.
III. THE MAXIMS OF PHILOSOPHIC LIFE. "Doth not the ear try His words? and the mouth taste His meat? With the ancient is wisdom, and in length of days is understanding." There is some. thing like a syllogism in this verse.
1. That the more the mind exercises itself upon moral questions, the more capable it is to pronounce a correct judgment. Just as the gourmand gets a nicer appreciation of the qualities of wines and viands as he exercises his palate, so the mind gets a clearer conception of things the more it makes them the subject of reflection.
2. That the ancients did greatly exercise their minds on these subjects, and therefore their judgment is to be taken, and it confirms Job's conclusions.
I. THE NATURE OF OUR AUTHORITY OVER THEM.
1. It arises out of that capacity of reason which places us above them. And as reason is our great distinction and prerogative, it is that alone which is to influence us in the exercise of the power which it has entrusted to our hands. As these creatures are endowed with a capacity to enjoy pleasure, and as abundant provision is made for the gratification of their several senses, reason teaches us to conclude that the Creator wills their happiness, and that our nobler faculties are to be employed, not in counteracting, but in furthering His benevolent purpose. Whatever unnecessarily deprives them of any portion of their enjoyment, violates the authority of reason, and deposes the sovereign of the lower world from that throne which he converts into an engine of tyranny and oppression.
2. This, likewise, is constituted authority. Man has received the creatures by an original grant from the hands of their Maker. In virtue of this all-comprehensive endowment, the investiture of property is added to the natural authority of reason, so that we have an unquestionable right to make all the tribes of being subservient to our interest. But our authority is limited — it is the authority of men over dependents, not of demons over their victims. We are not at liberty to use the creatures as we please. Where necessity ends, inhumanity begins. The meanest reptile on earth has its inalienable rights, and it is at our peril that we immolate them on the altar of our hard-hearted selfishness. The persecuted, injured, suffering children in nature's universal family are not forgotten by their beneficent Parent, nor will their wrongs remain unredressed.
II. THEIR CLAIMS UPON OUR HUMANITY AND KINDNESS. The creatures who are beneath us ought not only to be protected from ill-treatment, but they are entitled to humane and benevolent consideration, as parts of the great family specially committed to our guardianship. Many, who would shrink from the imputation of cruelty, by a constitutional indifference to the wants and sufferings of the beings around them, are really chargeable with all the wretchedness which it is in their power to prevent and alleviate. A wise and considerate humanity in its direct operation is most beneficial to universal happiness; and in its indirect influence as an example, fails not to deter many an incipient offender from the premeditated act of cruelty, while it gently diffuses its own benignant spirit through the circle in which it unostentatiously moves, protecting, saving, blessing all. And nothing tends to our felicity so much as cherished feeling of enlightened benevolence. Many reasons may be assigned why the inferior creatures ought to excite in us such a spirit.
1. They are the creatures of God.
2. They have the same origin with ourselves.
3. They are the care of Divine providence.
4. Their claims arise out of the lessons they teach.
5. They confer on us innumerable benefits of another kind. Of the general usefulness of the creatures we have the most palpable evidence every day.
6. Remember their susceptibility to pain. And we may add —
7. That these creatures owe all their natural sufferings to the fall of man; and to him therefore they have a right to look for sympathy.
(J. Styles, D. D.)
Speak to the earth, and it shall teach thee.
(Hugh Macmillan, D. D.)
Its melancholy long-withdrawing roar,
Retreating to the breath
Of the night wind, down the vast edge drear
And naked shingles of the world.
That is to say, he heard bodied forth in the sounding sea the sombre intuitions and dismal forebodings of his own soul. Now, Wordsworth, with all his austerity of demeanour, was an optimist, and his most sombre moods are touched with a quiet gladness. He believed in a gentle God, and he had high hopes for man, and nature yielded him a Gospel that was one with his beliefs. So, when he looked out on the fields, it was his faith
...That every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.
This meant that he enjoyed the air. And because in his own soul there glowed "the light that never was on sea or land," therefore, when he stood on some headland, and saw the sun rise, he knew a visitation from the living God, and was wrapt into a still communion and ecstasy of thanksgiving. Nature gave back to him, intensified and clarified, the Gospel he first gave to her. And the supreme message of this sermon this morning is a deduction from what I have just said. You are on holiday, and detached from the workaday world, and hence you have leisure for spiritual culture. I would, therefore, have you realise the facts of your religion, and call the sleeping spiritualities of your soul to life. I would bid you recall all you have ever known and hoped of the love of God, all you have ever felt of the imperativeness of the good Life. And with these ideas consciously in your mind look out on nature for that which shall symbolise them, and so make them more clear and more beautiful to your soul. See in the white foam of some spreading wave an emblem of that purity that is so earnestly to be desired. See in the anemone that clings to the rock a suggestion of the tenacity with which you should hold to the bedrock of moral principle that is your spiritual safety; and realise that as each tide leaves the anemone the more developed for its engulfing, so, though faithfulness to principle means a whelming beneath waves of trouble, yet shall you grow the more spiritually strong what time the waters of affliction compass you round about. If you go into the country, and walk through the fields white to harvest, think of Him who walked as you two thousand years ago. And as you realise that their beauty is the sacrifice of the earth that men may Live, remember Him who died in the very summer of His manhood, that Life everlasting might be ours. "O loving God, if Thou art so lovely in Thy creatures, how lovely must Thou be in Thyself." It is to the reverent soul and the devout mind that nature yields a Gospel.
(J. G. Stevenson.)
1 Corinthians 14:10) says, "There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no kind is without signification." He means, I suppose, that God has many ways of teaching men. It may be that there is a teacher for every faculty — for every avenue into the soul. A teacher for the ear — "holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." A teacher for the eye — for we are bidden by the Great Teacher to lift up our eyes and look on the fields, the flowers, the birds, the corn. In this age of much printing and many books, we too often think that we are learning only when we are reading. A man is regarded as a student who is always poring over books. But there were great students before there were books. Books are only transcripts of things, or if they are not they ought to be — records of what their authors saw or heard, or felt or imagined; and their value is in proportion to their fidelity to the sights, sounds, feelings, imaginations which proceeded. So that highly as we should value books, there are things more valuable — teachers greater than books. The earth is a greater, more reliable, more inspiring teacher than any books about her. The greatest learn of the earth itself. Sir Isaac Newton learnt of the earth more than of books. Charles Darwin spent his days in contact with nature far more than in his library. And the Great Teacher, Jesus Christ, felt this. I think He was a greater student of things than of books. And whilst He pointed men to the law and the prophets, He also pointed them to the earth as their teacher. His word "consider," in such passages as "Consider the lilies of the field," Consider the ravens," implies careful observation and reflection. As most of you know, I have been among the mountains, and these have chiefly been my teachers.
1. Now, how has all this beauty come into being? By delicate and gentle methods, such as the artist's when he paints a picture? No, the very reverse of this has been the case. All this glory of form and colour is the result of the mightiest forces — forces which seemed to be only destructive — which no one would have thought tended to beauty; but they have. The glory of the mountains is the result of a mighty struggle. They are not the children of peace, but of a sword. And is it not so in life? The beauty of holiness — how is that wrought, by peaceful, quiet means, by "the rest and be thankful" method? No, by a similar strife. Just as God moulds these great mountains by forces that seem only destructive, so He moulds human life by means that seem cruel, but are not — by difficulty, by adversity, by loss, by sorrow, by things from which we shrink. But if these were taken out of life, how poor a set of beings we should be. The struggle which made the mountains was of long duration. Geology used to regard the earth as thrown into its present form by great and sudden upheavals. It is now generally admitted that the method was far slower and more gradual. And is it not so with the glory of character? That is not the child of one sharp, sudden, decisive struggle, though such may have contributed to its formation, but of long-continued strife against evil and long-continued pursuit of good. It is by the patient continuance in well-being that the prize of eternal life is won. We cry, Are we never to rest on our arms — never to repose in our tents — never utter the victor's shout? Were it so the glory would be gone from life. Life would become dull and commonplace. The glory of life is in the conflict!
2. The mountains tell us not to judge by appearance. Few things are more deceptive in appearance than mountains. They belong to a land of illusion. You look at a great mountain like Mont Blanc, and to climb it seems only like a morning's walk across the snow. Some of the peaks near it which are far lower — some by thousands of feet — look as high or even higher. It is not till you bring the telescope to your aid that you realise the vastness of its height. The earth teaches no lesson more strongly than this, "Judge not by appearance." Appearances nearly always mislead. Is it not so in the human realm? Here appearances conceal quite as often as they reveal. I once had a very sharp lesson on this point. I was at a conversazione, and noticed a man whose head and face were guiltless of the smallest scrap of hair. You know the look this gives. I said to a friend near me, "Who is that idiot?" He replied, "Professor, the great authority on international law." I have never forgotten that incident. Since then I have remembered that the jewel may be in the leaden rather than the golden casket.
3. The earth teaches us that there are things beyond description. Beyond description in words, beyond description even in painting. Leslie Stephen, one of the most renowned of Alpine climbers, in a recent book says, "He has seen, and tried for years to tell, how he is impressed by his beloved scenery, and annoyed by his own bungling whenever he has tried to get beyond arithmetical statements of hard geographical facts." With an envious sort of feeling he tells how Tennyson, who had never been higher than 7000 feet, was able to accomplish, through the genius of the poet, what he, with his far larger knowledge of the Alps, had never been able to do. He refers to a four-line stanza, which describes Monte Rosa as seen from the roof of Milan Cathedral, as really describing mountain glory. Here are the lines -
How faintly flushed, how phantom-fair
Was Monte Rosa hanging there;
A thousand shadowy-pencilled valleys,
And snowy dales in golden air.
That is lovely, but even that would give no idea, to one who had never seen, of the surpassing glory of that great mountain. Here lies the preacher's difficulty. He has to speak of that which is beyond language to express. Even the apostles felt this difficulty, and so they spoke of a "peace which passeth understanding," of "a joy unspeakable and full of glory"; of "the love of Christ which passeth knowledge." But what eye cannot see, or ear hear, or the heart conceive, God reveals by His Spirit.
(W. G. Horder.)
(Thomas Jackson, M. A.)
I. THE EARTH IS A MATERIAL SYMBOL OF SPIRITUAL IDEAS. This thought has ever been dear to spiritual minds. They have loved to trace in visible nature suggestions regarding the invisible. It was preeminently characteristic of the Hebrews that they associated God with all natural phenomena. When Christ came He added intensity to the idea by connecting God with all natural life in its most commonplace as in its grandest manifestations. So the idea took possession of the Christian Church that nature and Scripture are but two pages of one revelation.
II. IT IS FOR US TO INTERPRET ITS SYMBOLISM AND FIND ITS HIDDEN MEANINGS. Restrict attention to lessons suggested by the returning spring. What whisperings of hope, of trust, of joy may the inner ear catch as we speak to the earth in this season of its re-creation.
1. Speak, and it will teach thee of its Author. We see everywhere the operation of a marvellous power. Everywhere life and beauty are manifesting themselves. You may find secondary causes to explain the phenomena, but at last you are driven to the necessity of recognising one great first cause.
2. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee of God's superabounding care for the lowliest forms of life. The lowliest forms are shaped with the same care, and adorned with the same profusion that belong to the mightiest creations of God.
3. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee that God means our human life to be bright and joyous. God recognises our innate sense of beauty, the imagination, the heart, with its chambers of imagery, and He makes appeal to this sense in the loveliness with which this spring season adorns the earth. Be not afraid of joy and brightness in life; they are no foes of a true spirituality.
4. Speak to the earth, and it will teach thee lessons of hopefulness.(1) It whispers a message of hope for the mourner. What is this springtide but nature's resurrection morning?(2) Spring whispers a message of hope for all who have been defeated in life's conflict. We see a hint in this season that a new start in life is possible.(3) It whispers a message of hope for all who seek the world's improvement. He who labours for the spiritual and moral advancement of his fellows must needs have faith and patience.
III. SPEAK THEN TO THE EARTH.
1. Hold frequent communion with nature. Such a habit expands the mind and refines the feelings.
2. Bring to the study of nature a spiritual heart. The "dry light of reason" is not enough if you would hear the subtlest whispers of nature's voice.
3. Connect, as Christ did, all nature with God. He is the centre and all-pervading Spirit. Without the Divine idea nature is a harp from which the strings have been taken, a riddle to which there is no answer, a mystery without possibility of solution.
(James Legge, M. A.)
(A. M. Sime.)
Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?
I. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A SCIENTIST. As the Christian studies a flower he marks the secret intelligence which directs every part of it. The embryo in the seed knows which part of it must descend to the earth, and which part must be raised up to the heavens. The leaves place themselves at proper intervals, and follow out their cyclical order. The plant creeps or climbs or shoots upwards with an intelligent adaptation, and the flowers mix their colours and exhale their odours to allure the passing bee. A Christian watches all this intelligence in a flower, and with deeper reason than ever he can add, "God is the maker of that flower." The Christian, as he delights in spelling out the arithmetical principles on which the chemical elements unite, asks who taught them the laws of their combinations. Or as he takes his stand on the great orbit, and marvels as he sees planet after planet come up in sublime order, and roll on majestically in its marked and bounded path, he repeats with deeper conception his belief in the greatness and power of the Almighty. He can read, too, the records of the rocks, the story of the fire and water, of the grinding and building up of the earth's crust, of life that existed long before the advent of man. As a scientist he can do all this, but to him it is all the work of God, who is infinite in His power and duration, who works His great works by these methods, and in these marvellous ways which science discovers and unfolds.
II. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A POET. A flower is not a clever piece of machinery of subtle forces and delicate laws. Beautiful must have been the hands, and beautiful the thoughts of Him who could, out of gross earth, cause the primrose to make its petals or the wild briar its tinted flowers. The Christian looks at the flower, and to him it is a poem written by the hand of God. Even uncouth flowers and hideous creatures become transformed when looked at in this light, and suggest far-reaching thoughts of that wisdom which makes things useful as well as beautiful. It is delightful to have the poet's eye, and thus to look on God's nature. The spiked blade of grass, the curving stalk of corn, the uplifted bole of the pine, the waving autumn field, and the moving life of the spring, are the visible lines and measures of a great Divine poem. The crawling worm, the soaring bird, the chirp of the sparrow, and the melody of the lark, the cows in the field, and the snake in the grass, all repeat and increase the lines-Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God.
III. THE CHRISTIAN SEES NATURE AS A PANTHEIST. As scientific men, we open up our senses to impressions from the outer world. As they come in by this way, they spell out God, the Creator, the Architect, Infinite and Omnipotent. As we open other and deeper sensibilities, and the charm, the grace, the tenderness, the strength and life of nature flow in, they write out in measured form God the Ever Glorious and Wondrous.
(J. D. Watters, M. A.)
1. A providence is not seen and adored in dispensations which do not please us. When we do not distinctly see and adore providence in ordinary, we meet with intricate and thorny questions about it.
2. Though men, in their sins, presume to debate and question the matter of God's providence, yet they will not get it shifted nor denied.
3. When men turn atheists, and fall a questioning the providence of God, they ought to be sharply dealt with and refuted. It is the common interest of saints not to let the providence of God be denied in the faith whereof they are so often comforted in darkness. And zeal for God should cause them to abhor any thoughts prejudicial to His glory.
4. As God hath a dominion over all His creatures, particularly over living things, and man in special, so the study of this dominion will help to open our eyes to see Him and His providence, and to clear His providence in every particular.
5. As God's dominion over every living thing, so, particularly, His dominion over man is to be studied and improved. Therefore it is particularly instanced here that the breath of all mankind is in His hand.
6. God's dominion over man reacheth even to his life, and no less. The study of this invites us to stand in awe of God. To trust Him in difficulties. To look upon ourselves, not as made for ourselves, but to be subservient to His dominion. When we thus submit to and acknowledge His absolute dominion, we should be without anxiety, as knowing in whose hand we and our concernments are, and should leave it on Him to give a good account of everything He doeth, and believe that His actings will be like the worker, who is God, and our God, though we cannot discern it for the present.
I. THE PRESENT HAND OF GOD UPON EVERYTHING.
1. This is one of the doctrines which men believe, but are constantly forgetting.
2. This is a fact of universal force.
3. A truth worthy of perpetual remembrance.
II. OUR ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE UPON A PRESENT GOD AT THIS VERY MOMENT.
1. Our life is entirely dependent upon God.
2. So are our comforts.
3. So is the power to enjoy those comforts. If this be true concerning temporals, how doubly true is it with regard to spiritual things. There is no Christian grace which has in it a particle of self-existence.
III. LESSONS FROM THIS SUBJECT. Child of God, see where thou art. Thou art completely in the hand of God. Thou art absolutely and entirely, and in every respect, placed at the will and disposal of Him who is thy God. Art thou grieved because of this? Does this doctrine trouble thee? Let your conversation be as becometh this doctrine. Speak of what thou wilt do, and of what will happen, always in respect to the fact that man proposes, but God disposes. To the sinner we say, Man, you are in the hand of God.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
I. A SENSE OF OUR OWN EXTREME INSIGNIFICANCE.
II. A CONSCIOUSNESS OF OUR ABSOLUTE DEPENDENCE. II we are in God's hands, He can do with us as He will.
III. A MIGHTY INFLUENCE IN LIFE AND BEHAVIOUR. It impresses us with a feeling of —
1. Intense humility.
2. Great thankfulness.
3. Earnest effort. Effort to develop our moral nature.
IV. A READINESS TO ACQUIESCE IN ALL THE DISPENSATIONS OF SO GREAT A BEING.
(J. J. S. Bird.)
Behold, He breaketh down.
Homilist.Perhaps Job uses this lofty language concerning God for two reasons.
1. To show that he could speak as grandly of the Eternal as his friends had spoken.
2. To show that he had as correct and extensive a view of God's agency as they had. He gives them here at least six different ideas of God's agency.
I. That it is ACTIVE BOTH IN THE MENTAL AND THE MORAL WORLD.
II. That it is DESTRUCTIVE AS WELL AS RESTORATIVE. "Behold, He breaketh down, and it cannot be built again."
III. That it EXTENDS TO INDIVIDUALS AS WELL AS TO COMMUNITIES. "He shutteth up a man, and there can be no opening."
IV. That it is ABSOLUTELY SOVEREIGN AND RESISTLESS.
V. THAT IT OPERATES IN THE UNSEEN, AS WELL AS IN THE VISIBLE. "He discovereth deep things out of darkness," etc.
VI. THAT IT IN NO CASE APPEARS TO RECOGNISE MORAL DISTINCTIONS AMONG MEN. Not a word does Job here say about the righteous and the wicked in relation to God's agency. His object being to show that God did not treat man on the ground of moral character.
Taketh away the understanding of the aged.
Essex Congregational Remembrancer.The text is part of an address in which Job enumerates a variety of events in which, more or less prominently, the interference of Divine providence was to be traced.
I. THE PECULIAR DISPENSATION WHICH THE TEXT BRINGS BEFORE US. Job is not stating here a general rule of the Divine procedure, but only alluding to an event of occasional occurrence.
1. The nature of the calamity referred to. It deals with the mind. The operations of the mind are deranged and disabled. This is the heaviest calamity to which human nature is subject. We cannot conceive of a more pitiable object than a man bereft of understanding.
2. The subject of the calamity. "The aged." Not exclusively. It often overtakes persons in the meridian of life.
3. The author of the calamity. In some cases the individual himself, by evil propensities. Sometimes the loss of understanding is occasioned by the conduct of others. The Divine interference must be recognised as permitting the calamity, but in the text it is treated as the occasion of it. It may be a part of that plan which God has formed, in unerring wisdom and infinite love, as best calculated to secure the attainment of His benevolent designs.
II. SOME PROBABLE REASONS FOR WHICH SUCH DISPENSATIONS MAY OCCUR. The understanding may sometimes be taken away —
1. As a just penalty for a perverted and injurious use of the intellectual faculties. Scripture teaches that we may often calculate on the loss of a privilege as the just penalty of its abuse; nor can human reason question the propriety of this.
2. To exhibit, in the most striking manner, human frailty, and the entire dependence of all upon God Himself. We can scarcely conceive of any case which so forcibly impresses us with these truths.
3. As a means of important instruction and salutary discipline to those more immediately connected with the sufferers.
4. To show the danger of procrastination on the subject of personal religion. How many persons are satisfying themselves in a present neglect of the soul and eternity, under a determination to regard these points more seriously in advancing years! But they cannot be sure of the continued exercise of those mental faculties, the continuance of which would be essential to carrying their salutary resolutions into effect.
(Essex Congregational Remembrancer.).