Job 1:9
Satan's suggestion is obvious enough. Job is religious; but Job is prosperous. Cast down his prosperity, and his religion will come down too like a house of cards.

I. TRUE RELIGION BRINGS GREAT REWARDS. As a matter of fact, Job was making the best of both worlds. While he was fearing and serving God, God was blessing and smiling upon him.

1. Religion often brings earthly prosperity. It is frequently true that "honesty is the best policy." God shows his love in very evident ways to many of his children, blessing them "in basket and store." When a good man is prosperous in business or home it is only right that he should acknowledge the kind hand from which all his happiness comes.

2. Religion always brings heavenly prosperity. It must be well with the soul that is near to God. He who owns Christ does most certainly possess a pearl of great price. Even the poor man in his adversity is rich with spiritual treasure when he has the love of God in his heart.

II. THE RELIGION WHICH DEPENDS ON REWARDS IS NOT TRUE. Job got much through his service of God, or rather along with that service; for all he had was of God's free grace, not of desert. But if he had only been religious in the spirit of the hireling, working for pay, his religion would have been rank hypocrisy. This is true of future as well as earthly rewards. It applies not only to the tradesman who goes to church that he may please church-going customers; it is true also of one who is a slave to "other-worldliness," and who behaves like a fanatical Mohammedan when he rushes forward to certain death in battle, inspired by the expectation of flying immediately to a paradise of houris. Self-seeking in religion is always fatal. It is natural to look forward to the rewards which God promises; but it is fatal to all devotion to make the pursuit of those rewards our chief motive. The true servant of God will say -

"And I will ask for no reward,
Except to serve thee still"

III. IT IS POSSIBLE TO RENDER DISINTERESTED SERVICE TO GOD. The accuser did not believe this; he spoke with Satanic cynicism. There are people who pride themselves on being men of the world, and who deny that there is any such thing as disinterested generosity. Possibly the reason is that they judge all men by their own low standard; or that they have not the eyes to see the best side of life. With all their boasted keenness of vision there is a whole realm of noble living which is entirely beyond their ken. The Satan-spirit can never understand the Christ-spirit. Now, the great problem of the Book of Job lies in this. That book is to prove the falsity of Satan's base insinuation. It is to show to the astonished accuser that disinterested devotion is possible. It is to prove, in the extreme instance of Job, that a man may lose all the apparent rewards of religion, and yet not give up his religion; that he may suffer grievous adversity and yet not renounce his God. Job is a magnificent illustration of this truth. But behind Job is God, and the real secret is that God can and does inspire disinterested devotion. - W.F.A.







Doth Job fear God for nought?
There is very much distrust abroad, and unfortunately too much warrant for distrust, touching the sincerity of people in general. The devil has his fling at even one of the best of men here in this opening chapter of the drama of Job. As is readily seen, the implication in this question as to whether Job fears God for nought is that every mart has his price. It is assumed that the basis of all action is commercial. The law of the counting house or the market — so much for so much — it is taken for granted rules everywhere. If one is unusually patriotic or religious, or is enthusiastically devoted to any high ideal, it is for a consideration. Disinterestedness is a pretence or a dream. Deprive virtue of the reward which ordinarily waits on virtuous behaviour, and the reward which virtue is to itself, or which is found in being virtuous, will soon lose all its fascination and power. Investments made in the moral world, like investments made in the material world, are solely with a view to prospective dividends. This is the devil's theory of human conduct. There it is, — the low, contemptuous estimate of virtue, the pessimistic view of human nature. One feels the chill there is in the tone of it. It is all a matter of cool calculation. The man may be everything that is claimed for him — devout, obedient, pure, true; but then — he is paid for it! This is the explanation of it all, — the man finds his account in this service or devotion. It is the yardstick view of things. It is the book balances which settle it. It is the ethics of the labour market — work so long as the remuneration is satisfactory — brought over into moral spheres — elevated into a standard with which to measure the sublime consecration to freedom and duty of men like William of Orange and Cromwell and Washington and Garibaldi. It is the matchless Livingstone, dying on his knees in the heart of Africa, reduced to the level of the tusk hunter or the man stealer who penetrates these same wilds for the material recompense he can find in the perilous adventure. Not so; verily, not so. There are other and higher motives in life than those which enter into the management of a peanut stand or a cotton factory or a railroad. Humanity has in it loftier capabilities, and these capabilities have frequent illustration in actual experience. Unquestionably a good many people are disposed to fall in with the devil's estimate of the motives which govern conduct, and to consider even the worthiest of men incapable of rising above selfish considerations. The selfishness may be more refined in some instances than in others. It is still only a question of degree. It is selfishness all the same. It is this for that, so much for so much, doing things for what is in them. There are several explanations of this satanic tendency to look at all actions from the view point of selfish motives.

1. In the first place, with all that is dignified and commendable and noble in human nature, there is a disposition — possibly we might go further and say, — a predisposition — to judge the general conduct of our fellows in a spirit of detraction. From what we know of ourselves, from what we know of others in their confessed schemes, from envy, from jealousy, from a certain conceit of our own shrewdness in penetrating character, we easily drift into the habit of forming low estimates of the motives of men and women, and attributing their movements to influences and aims and desires which originate, not in the upper, but in the lower ranges of incitement. The multiplied warnings of Scripture against these harsh judgments and prejudgments and misjudgments show us what a bad aptitude there is in the heart for this kind of indulgence. We are prone to level down. In presence of a commendable action how fatal is the facility with which our nimble tongues fall to saying, "Certainly; but the thing was done just to catch votes, or to win the favour and patronage of the rich, or to please the populace."

2. In the second place, there is, beyond all gainsaying, a vast amount of action among men whose secret spring is some sort of personal advantage or gain. Large numbers make unblushing confession of this. Of many who do not confess it, and only half realise it, perhaps, it is still true. Their only controlling thought is pleasure or profit or promotion. It runs through all they do. They choose their professions, they marry, they espouse causes, they join political parties, they enter clubs, they identify themselves with churches, all in a temper of self-interest — a self-interest which it is impossible to distinguish from selfishness. It is not a matter of injustice nor is it at all uncharitable to ascribe selfish and even sinister motives to this kind of folk.

3. In the third place, there is the consideration which Satan and those who coincide with him in his view of things may bring forward in support of the position taken by them on this question, and which admits of no successful disputing, namely, that fearing God — fearing God in the way of love and reverent loyalty — always does secure to one something worth having. Satan was right in his intimation that Job was getting a good deal — a good deal that was substantial and abiding — out of his fidelity. God never permits a man to do this thing: serve Him for naught. Never yet did a man come into the faith of God, and maintain the integrity of his soul before God and the world, without receiving something rich and rare in return for it. As the event proved, Job was getting something out of his serene and unfaltering trust and his upright conduct besides wife and children and houses and barns and cattle and servants and renown among his fellows — something which stood by him, and to which he could cling in all the darkness and under all the bitter bruising of the after days. We say often that virtue is its own reward. It is. It is often an unutterable satisfaction just to have the consciousness in one that he is sincere and clean and upright, and means to stand square on the truth and do his duty, come what will. But virtue has other rewards. It has rewards outside itself. Early and late, at home and abroad, at the hearthstone, in social circles, in business operations, in politics, honesty is the best policy. It pays to be pure. In the long run nothing else does pay. It is Gerizim and Ebal over again. On the side of righteousness are the blessings. On the side of unrighteousness are the curses. Hence it comes to pass that it is a nice psychological question, and one requiring not a little analytical skill, to run the knife in and turn it about in a way to distinguish between the stress of motives which look to the doing of right solely because it is right, and the doing of right out of consideration for what follows. One with as much dialectic cunning as Satan has can confuse almost anybody at this point. There is the fact of the waiting of the reward upon the conduct. Who shall say the conduct is not with an eye to the reward? At least the suggestion can always be made to seem plausible. Still, in spite of all in evidence to the contrary, and in spite of all appearances to the contrary, there is disinterestedness in the world.

(F. A. Noble, D. D.)

This is the question which the infidelity of hell asks the fidelity of heaven. With the same underlying current of thought, not a few reason in our day. The only theory of life which some will recognise as at all philosophic is that which is based upon purely utilitarian principles. But the world, all that is best and noblest in the world, does not act from purely selfish motives. Not only humanity, but the very physical world itself protests against this dreary doctrine. God does not seem to have created the earth and visible heavens on those exalted "purely utilitarian principles" which commend themselves to some superfine intellects in the present dry. A certain class of thinkers charge the religious life with being based on the same principle. Religion is not objected to, it is only patronisingly relegated to a department of political economy. The question — the selfishness of religion — which I propose now to speak of, I shall deal with as a difficulty in an earnest Christian soul, which longs to get rid of it, rather than as the hostile idea of an avowed opponent. "Doth Job fear God for nought?" The answer expected is, of course, "No." Therefore religion is selfish. Is this true of our Christian faith? There are some forms in which certain of its doctrines have been presented and enforced which would seem to sustain the charge. Has there not sometimes been too great a tendency to make our individual salvation the sole and exclusive object of the Christian life? In many manuals of devotion, e.g., Kempis "Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah De Imitatione Christi," and in books which treat systematically of the religious life, this is painfully apparent. And we have a lurking suspicion that such is what the Bible and the Church alike teach us. First let me speak of rewards and punishments. There is no doubt that Scripture and the Church lay stress upon the glorious life which the righteous shall inherit, and the unutterable woe which shall befall the wicked. Such teaching has still, and ever will have, its due place and power in the work of the ministry of Christ. It is, however, a small part of Christian teaching. If the exhortations and motives to Christian life were to begin and end here, there might be some colour of selfishness about it. But this is only a first step. It is, if you will, an appeal to men's self-interest for a moment, — but only for a moment, — to lead them up afterwards to something infinitely purer and higher. A Christian lives on through such childish feelings to the full unselfish manhood in Christ Jesus. When we remember that self is the very root and essence of sin, it is not surprising that in the first stage of dealing with such a nature as man's there should be an adaptation of the means employed to such a condition. To represent the hope of reward or fear of pain as the continually abiding and sole motive of the Christian life all through, is to ignore nine-tenths of the exhortations of the New Testament — is utterly to misrepresent and pervert the teaching of our Lord — is to deny the truth of countless Christian lives which we have read of or have seen. There is another thing of still more practical importance. There is no word which we use more frequently in religious phraseology than the word "salvation." Is there not too great a tendency in many of us to always speak and think of that salvation as solely an escape from some future punishment? If we regard the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God as merely a means by which we are to escape some future pain, I do not know whether there may not be a strong tinge of selfishness in our faith. But there is a more awful thing than pain or punishment, there is sin It is to save us from sin that Christ died. If then the salvation be deliverance from sin, and if self be sin (for sin is ever the assertion of "I" against the all-good, all-loving God) — is it selfish to conquer self through the power of Christ — is it selfish to become so one with Christ as to have self crucified with Him, so that we no longer live unto self, but unto Him who died and rose again? There can be no real spiritual life until we learn to loathe sin — not merely the results of sin. Let us tell men, sin is your enemy; sin, here in your hearts; sin, which is robbing your life of all its joy and sweetness; sin, which is grinding like a hot chain into your very flesh. From that Christ died to save you. Is not this a pure, unselfish Gospel? "The Son of Man hath power on earth to forgive sins." That power has actually been felt by many. Then there dawns on us gradually the new life; self is nailed to the Cross — to Christ's Cross with Him — and henceforth it is not I that live, "but Christ that liveth in me"; not a calm, indifferent life, but a life of constant struggle against all sin and evil, — and yet a life in which self-sacrifice itself becomes easy, for I am "dead to sin, and living unto righteousness "

(T. Teignmouth Shore, M. A.)

? — Satan insinuates that the man who professes to serve God is, after all, only serving himself, and is making God nothing more than a convenience, a purveyor to his own selfish profit and pleasure. One object of the Book of Job is to prove that there is something genuine in man, especially when the grace of God has entered his heart. Satan puts his calumny into the form of a question. It is evident how he intended it to be answered. God has held up Job as a proof of His power to put true goodness into human nature; and the reply is that this seeming goodness is only self. interest. The man is religious because he makes a good thing out of religion. The accuser has a belief in the philosophy of selfishness. It is a faith not uncommon in our day. There are some who seek a foundation for it in argument, and wish to prove that all virtue is merely self-interest largely and wisely interpreted, which is true in this respect, that goodness and self-interest will, in the end, coincide, but very false if it is meant that goodness has its origin in taking this end into account. The Bible itself is quoted as sanctioning the idea that self-interest is, and ought to be, the spring of human action. Sin, it is said, is only self-interest unenlightened and wrongly directed, and true religion is a proper and wise regard to our own happiness.

I. SELFISHNESS IS NOT THE ESSENCE OF HUMAN NATURE AS PRESENTED IN THE BIBLE. Satan denies that there is unselfishness in Job. He would imply that it is not in God's power to create a disinterested love of Himself, even in a regenerate creature — that self-interest is the hidden worm at the root of everything, good or bad. Think —

1. Of the regenerate man, and see whether God's plan of forming him proceeds on the principle of appealing to selfishness. It is granted that the Bible, all through, presses men with threatenings of punishment, and holds out to them promises of happiness to lead them to a new life. But this is to be remembered, that it begins its work with men who are sunk in sin, and that the essence of sin is selfishness. It must arrest and raise them by motives adapted to their condition, provided that these motives are not wrong, and enlightened self-interest, that is, self-interest which is consistent with the good of others is not wrong. The Bible is too bread and human not to bring all fair motives into exercise. So before the Gospel, and even with it, we must have Sinai's word, "The soul that sinneth it shall die." But to affirm that this is the final, or even the prevailing motive of the new life, is to mistake or misrepresent the Bible, which is constantly advancing from the domain of threatening and outward promise to that of free and unselfish love. Its strength of appeal from the very beginning lies in the mercy of God pardoning unconditionally. As a man rises into the knowledge of the Divine plan he seeks and serves God, not from the hope of what he is to receive from Him, but from the delight which he finds in Him — in the true, the pure, the loving, that dwell in the Father of Lights. If they still charge us with selfishness in seeking this, because it is our happiness, we confess we know not what is meant by the charge. We do not seek Him for the joy, we find the joy in seeking. God acts towards man on the principle of free, undeserved love, that He may form in him the spirit and image of His own action, creating a spring of self-sacrifice which flows back to God, and overflows to men. The Son of God, who knows what is in man, believed this possible. He made a John, a Paul, a Peter, a Stephen — hearts that drank of the cup of His self-sacrifice, and forgot themselves, and laboured, and suffered, and died, like Him, for the world's good. It is certain that the Bible proceeds on the principle of creating unselfish action in the regenerate heart.

2. Even in the case of unregenerate men, the Bible does not affirm that the only law at work is one of utter selfishness. Though man is fallen, the elements of human nature are still there. They are not annihilated, neither are they demonised. The deep radical defect is Godward, that man has ceased to retain Him in his knowledge, and has expelled His love from his heart. There yet shines many a fair tint on human nature. Whatever unrenewed men may be to God, they perform to their fellow men, oftentimes, the most unselfish acts. They give, hoping to receive nothing again. Let us not think that we discredit the Gospel, by seeming to leave these fair features of humanity outside its regenerating circle, but let us rather widen that circle to embrace them, and believe that if there is anything glorious upon earth, or beautiful in humanity, we owe it to the power of Christ's death, and the breadth of His intercession.

II. THE RESULTS OF BELIEF IN UNMITIGATED SELFISHNESS. The first evident consequence in him who holds it is a want of due regard for his fellow creatures. With no belief in principle or goodness, he can cherish no reverence, and feel no pity. The next consequence is the want of any centre of rest within itself. Another effect is the failure of any real hold of God. The spirit, Satan, here, had no just views of a God of truth and purity and goodness.

III. SOME MEANS THAT MAY BE ADOPTED AS A REMEDY BY THOSE WHO ARE IN DANGER OF FALLING INTO THIS FAITH. We should seek to bring our own life into close contact with what is genuine in our fellow men. Next to the cultivation of society and friendships among living men, we may mention the choice of books. Then, in judging humanity, we must beware of taking a part for the whole. The last means for removing the view that man is incapable of rising above self is to apprehend the Divine care of human nature. He who has studied the person of Christ, and laid his hand, however feebly, on the throbbings of that heart, will not be in danger of the view that self-love, utter and eternal, is part of the nature of man.

(John Ker, D. D.)

Homilist.
? —

I. THE IMPORT OF THIS INSINUATED SNEER. It is chiefly interesting to us because the words are not yet dead. Satan's agents imitate their master, and use the same arguments and the same sophistries. It is still a common device of the world to attribute good actions to evil motives. Sometimes men are said to be pious to obtain influence. If a person gives largely to church building, the world will hint that he wants to "get his name up." If a handsome subscription is sent to any particular object, the donor "desires to see his name in print." Sometimes men are said to be pious because of a far-seeing expediency. They are said to go to this or that church on account of the patronage they expect to receive. Tradesmen are accused of attaching themselves to the particular sect from which they hope to derive the greatest profit. How many a poor person exclaims, "Oh, if the squire had only to fight with hunger, he could not afford to be religious."

II. THE INFLUENCE OF THIS INSINUATED SNEER. What a power there is in a covert insult! Even the devil's speech was not without a terrific influence. It appealed even to the Almighty. He granted the arch-fiend the opportunity to try his theory and to prove his assertion. And all this bitter experiment recoiled upon poor Job. For weeks and months and years he was as molten gold in the devil's crucible. He lost all he had. Do not let us run away with the idea that the wicked have no influence now. They are lords of the present world, and they can make the life of the righteous man very bitter for him, whether he be rich or whether he be poor. And God permits those influences to continue, in order that He may vindicate His people and manifest His own power and glory.

III. THE UNINTENTIONAL TRUTH OF THIS INSINUATED SNEER. Satan overreached himself after all. No man does serve God for nought. There is no such thing as entire self-abnegation in this world. Job proved in the end that his principles were sound. But what are religious principles after all? A determination to serve God because we are convinced that to serve Him is the best policy. We cannot divest religion of selfishness. The Scriptures teach us that we love Him because "He first loved us," and because He has redeemed us, and promised us eternal life. An ideal, uninterested religion may be the attainment of heaven and the angels, but it cannot be of men.

(Homilist.)

"Doth Job fear God for nought?" There is one Taskmaster for whom no labourer ever works in vain, whose wages are always punctually and fully paid, and with whom a faithful servant never feels even a passing shade of dissatisfaction. We always know that obedience to God never fails of its reward; that all work done for God ends in fit and full result; that to live with and for God is to live the noblest, the happiest, the peacefullest life possible to us. The text draws our attention to man's motives. The Book of Job asks, in every variety of form, this question, Is there any connection to be traced between a man's character and his earthly fate? Satan refers the indisputable obedience and piety of Job to God's kindly and generous dealing with him. The question before us is this, Are disinterested love and service of God things impossible? The great contention of ethical principle is whether any human action is ever or can be performed without the more or less subtle impulse of self-interest. Some say that we serve God as we do our duty, as we love our children, as we sacrifice ourselves for our country, for the sake of what we can get by it. But this doctrine takes the light and the nobleness out of human life. We feel instinctively that it answers only to our meaner and commoner part: this thought cuts away our moral ideal leaves us nothing to aspire to, imprisons us forever in the baseness of what we are. We are reduced to this dilemma, that our noblest actions and affections can only exist when the mind is, as it were, hoodwinked and wilfully ignorant of their real character. But we make appeal to conscience. Is not your whole notion of moral life based upon the thought that the noblest actions are those from which the recollection of self is completely eradicated? A human life is acknowledged to rise in nobleness in proportion as the part of it which is occupied with self-regarding labours and interests grows less, and the part which we are accustomed to look upon as disinterested grows larger. In the quality of our less interested actions, we rise from the lower to the higher just in proportion as we painfully purge away from them the clinging taint of self. The purity and depth of love are measured precisely by this — whether the thought of self becomes more frequent and more prevailing, or silently and completely fades away. When there is undue anticipation of what is to be obtained in a future life, Christianity becomes nothing more or higher than the utilitarian philosophy upon an extended scale, and with coarser issues. St. Theresa saw in a vision a strange and awful woman, bearing in the one hand water, in the other fire. Asking her whither she went, she replied, "I go to burn up heaven, and to quench hell, that henceforth men may love God for Himself alone." Is there nothing here which finds a ready echo in our noblest instincts? Do we not to a large extent create the difficulty which afterwards we try to resolve, by making the ideas of reward and punishment co-extensive with that of a future life? If heaven be a reward, we know that we have not earned it. To the common imagination heaven is nothing better or higher than a kind of Mahometan paradise, full of enjoyments less markedly sensual, yet which whoever is fortunate enough to pass its gates can enjoy without further preparation. If heaven be something loftier; if its central idea be a closer communion with God, a larger knowledge of His purposes, a fuller cooperation with His will, it assumes quite another aspect to the enlightened conscience. It is the better part of our present life indefinitely strengthened and purified and brightened. Heaven is purer love, larger trust, more perfect service. We do not "serve God for nought," and yet just as little do we serve Him for what we can get by it. We are like little children with their mother. We loved her when we received everything from her, and assuredly loved her no less when she had no more to give and asked much from us. From the bounty of God we can never escape. He wins us first by His goodness; happy are we if at last we turn to Him for Himself.

(C. Beard, B. A.)

The Satan puts at once into words a view of human springs of action, not confined to a single age. There is no such thing, he says, as "disinterested goodness." Such a question, such a view, is not confined to evil spirits, or to the story of the man of Uz. The question had been raised when this book was written. It is one of the main questions, some have said, the main question of all, with which this book is meant to deal. But the view embodied in (the) Satan's words is one which you may have heard whispered, or loudly spoken, now and here, as there and then. There is no such thing, you may be told, as a love of goodness for its own sake. There is always some ulterior aim, some selfish motive. Even religion, you will hear, even the religion of Christ, is a mere matter of selfish interest. It is nothing more, even when sincere, than a selfish device to escape from pain, and enjoy happiness hereafter. "Doth Job fear God for nought?" You see how far the words extend. They cover a wider range than that of the character of one child of Adam. They go down to the very springs of human nature; down to the very essence, and even the existence of goodness itself. "Can men and women care for goodness and mercy, or for truth, or for righteousness, for their own sake?" Nay, the arrow launched at Job flies farther, it is really pointed at God Himself. If (the) Satan is right., it is not only that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness, but God Himself is robbed of His highest and noblest attribute. If He can no longer win the hearts, and retain in joy and sorrow the reverential affection of those on whom He showers His benefits; if He can no longer inspire anything but a mercenary love, He may be all-powerful still, but there are surely those among our fellow creatures, whom some of us know, or have known, who must come before Him in our homage. Heaven and earth are no longer full of His glory. You see how vital the question which the challenge stirs, and how rightly it has been said, that in the coming contest, Job is the champion, not of his own character only, but of all who care for goodness, and of God Himself. The challenge is given and accepted; and power is granted to (the) Satan to test the good man, the "perfect and upright" Job, with the loss of that on the possession of which the accuser believes all his goodness to be based. Satan is not represented in this book as the suggester of evil to the human soul, nor as the fallen angel, his Maker's foe. He is depicted as simply a malicious spirit, whose power for evil is rigidly limited by his Master, and the Master of the world. And such as he is, he goes forth to work His will. And once more the scene shifts to the land of Uz.

(Dean Bradley.)

He himself has sunk into an evil condition, for he delights in making even good men seem bad, in fitting good deeds with evil motives. Self is his centre, not God; and he suspects all the world of a selfishness like his own. He cannot, or will not, believe in an unselfish, a disinterested goodness.

(S. Cox, D. D.)

? — Satan employs a base insinuation against the servant of the Lord. "Doth Job fear God for nought?" He cannot find room to accuse Job. There is no foothold for him in Job's character; he cannot bring a railing accusation against him. So he imputes bad motives. He says that Job fears God for what he can get out of it. It is not to be wondered at that Satan employs such a weapon. What is true of Satan is true of all his sons. "Marvel not if the world hate you." A treacherous heart accuses all of treachery. Job signally refutes the slander. Carey was offered by the government £1000 per annum if he would turn interpreter. He had nobler work than that. They raised the bribe — £5000 in the service of your country. No, he had nobler work than that. Yet Satan might have insinuated, "Doth Carey serve God for nought?" Although this was a base insinuation, Satan really made assertion of a blessed fact. He himself confesses, "Hast Thou not made a hedge about him?" etc. Godliness with contentment is great gain. We do not serve God for nought. He is not a Master who forgets to care for His servants, or treats His children ill. The poorest and meanest of God's saints would bear glad testimony to the unmistakable fact that it is good to serve God; it has the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

(Thomas Spurgeon.)

God's challenge calls forth this reply from Satan. It is an insolent reply, in character with the speaker; but one which nevertheless reveals a great deal of keen insight.

1. Satan's reply discloses his conception of Divine providence. "Hast Thou not made a hedge about him?" There are two ways of looking at the hedges, or limitations of life. Those who know of what use they are in protecting and guarding men, accept them gratefully. Those who know little of the uses of such limitations are often found to be impatient of them. Satan's desire concerning every life is that there shall be no hedge about it.

2. Satan's reply supplies his estimate of piety, that it is selfish. A literal translation would be, "Doth Job fear God gratis?" He suspects that there is no such thing as disinterested goodness. If Job's piety had turned out to be selfish, the probability is that the piety of the best of us would prove equally selfish.

3. Satan's reply expresses his estimate of Job. The mission of Satan, according to his own showing, had been that of a peripatetic critic. He had failed to tempt Job, so all he could do was, suggest a false and unworthy motive. When we deal with human motive, we deal with one of the most mysterious things in God's world. Now, I do not expect a better theory of goodness from the devil than that at best it is selfish. No one can rise to a higher altitude than he himself occupies, and when anyone tells me that Christian motive is necessarily a selfish motive I know where he is living. I know the altitude he has reached. It is a law of life that the man who is incapable of an unselfish act is the greatest sceptic on God's earth about the unselfishness of others. He can only grasp the possibility of being unselfish by being partaker of that exalted quality himself. On that principle, when Satan speaks about piety, I do not expect that he should see anything higher or nobler than selfishness in it. I know of nothing so satanic in life as to impute impious motives to godly men. That scepticism as to the possibility of disinterested piety gives me a glimpse into the depths of depravity in the heart of the being who is capable of uttering it. The denial of the possibility of disinterested piety reveals the saddest degradation on the part of the man who is capable of such a denial. There is no power that can save him except that which shall renew his whole nature; for there is no power that can redeem a man save as it makes him unselfish. After all, down deep in the heart of man, there is a profound belief in and admiration of unselfishness. Who are the great men of the past, even in the world's estimation? The men who denied themselves for the sake of their fellows; great reformers, who suffered in order to uplift their fellows. We all instinctively feel keenly the charge of selfishness. We are all ashamed of being considered selfish. In this even those who profess to cling to the philosophy of selfishness are nobler than their creed. Let me remind you of the fact, that as long as we gather round the Cross, and recognise there the highest expression of a surrendering love for us, so long shall we believe in the possibility of self-denial and disinterested services, and our highest desire and aim shall be that the mind which was also in Christ Jesus may be in us.

(David Davies.)

? — I shall give you Satan's sense in three notable falsities, which he twists up together in this one speech, "Doth Job fear God for nought?"

1. That riches will make any man serve God; that it is no great matter to be holy when we have abundance; a man that prospers in the world cannot choose but be good. This Satan implies in these words, and this is an extreme lie (Deuteronomy 28:47). Abundance doth not draw the heart unto God. Yet Satan would infer that it doth. This might well be retorted upon Satan himself. Satan, why didst not thou serve God then? thou didst once receive more outward blessings from God than ever Job did, the blessedness of an angel.

2. There is this in it: "Doth Job fear God for nought?" Satan intimates that God could have no servants for love, none unless He did pay them extremely; that God is such a Master, and His work such as none would meddle with, unless allured by benefits. Here is another lie Satan windeth up closely in this speech; for the truth is, God's servants follow Him for Himself: the very excellences of God, and sweetness of His ways, are the argument and the wages by which His people are chiefly moved to His service. God indeed makes many promises to those that serve Him, but He never makes any bargains with them: His obey Him freely. Satan makes bargains to hire men to his service (Matthew 4:9).

3. Then there is a third sense full of falsehood, which Satan casteth upon Job, "Doth Job fear God for nought?" that is, Job hath a bias in all that he doth, he is carried by the gain of godliness, not by any delight in godliness, thus to serve God. Job is mercenary; Job doth not seek the glory of God, but he seeks his own advantage.Thus in brief you see the sense, I shall give you some observations from it.

1. It is an argument of a most malignant spirit, when a man's actions are fair, then to accuse his intentions. The devil hath nothing to say against the actions of Job, but goes down into his heart and accuseth his intentions. Malice misinterprets the fairest actions, but love puts the fairest interpretation it can upon foul actions.

2. That it is an argument of a base and an unworthy spirit to serve God for ends. Had this been true of Job in Satan's sense, it had indeed blemished all that he had done. Those that come unto God upon such terms, they are not holy, but crafty. As sin is punishment enough unto itself; though there were no other punishment: so to do good is reward enough unto itself. But here a question will arise, May we not have respect to our own good, or unto the benefit we shall receive from God? Must we serve God for nought in that strict sense, or else will God account nothing of all our services?I shall clear that in five brief conclusions.

1. The first is this, There is no man doth, or possibly can serve God for nought. God hath by benefits already bestowed, and by benefits promised, outvied and outbid all the endeavours of the creature. If a man had a thousand pair of hands, a thousand tongues, and a thousand heads, and should set them all on work for God, he were never able to answer the obligations which God hath already put upon him. Therefore this is a truth, that no man can in a strict sense serve God for nought. God is not beholden to any creature for any work or service that is done unto Him.

2. Again, this is further to be considered. The more outward blessings anyone doth receive, the more he ought to serve God, and the more service God looks for at his hands.

3. In the third place, it is lawful to have some respect to benefits both received and promised by way of motive and encouragement to stir us up and quicken us, either in doing or in suffering for God (Hebrews 11:26; Hebrews 12:2).

4. Then reference unto benefit is sinful, when we make it either the sole and only cause, or the chief cause of our obedience. This makes anything we do smell so of ourselves that God abides it not.

5. Lastly, we may look upon them as fruits and consequences of holiness, yea, as encouragements unto holiness, but not as causes of our holiness; or we may eye these as media, through which to see the bounty and goodness of God, not as objects on which to fix and terminate our desires.

(J. Caryl.)

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