Then Job answered:
Then Job answered and said.Job 10:3). We must have confidence in the goodness of God. Job then pleads himself — his very physiology, his constitution (Job 10:8-11). What lay so heavily upon Adam and upon Job, was the limitation of their existence. This life as we see it is not all; it is an alphabet which has to be shaped into a literature, and a literature which is to end in music. The conscious immortality of the soul, as that soul was fashioned in the purpose of God, has kept the race from despair. Job said, if this were all that we see, he would like to be extinguished. He would rather go out of being than live under a sense of injustice. This may well be our conviction, out of the agonies and throes of individual experience, and national convulsions, there shall come a creation fair as the noonday, quiet as the silent but radiant stars!
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Homilist.I. He regarded Him as JUST. "I know it is so of a truth: but how should man be just with God?" His language implies the belief that God was so just, that He required man to be just in His sight. Reason asserts this; the Infinite can have no motive to injustice, no outward circumstance to tempt Him to wrong. Conscience affirms this; deep in the centre of our moral being, is the conviction that the Creator is just. The Bible declares this. Job might well ask how can man be just before Him? He says, not by setting up a defence, and pleading with Him; "if he will contend with Him, he cannot answer him one of a thousand." What can a sinner plead before Him?
1. Can he deny the fact of his sinfulness?
2. Can he prove that he sinned from a necessity of his nature?
3. Can he satisfactorily make out that although he has sinned, sin has been an exception in his life, and that the whole term of his existence has been good and of service to the universe? Nothing in this way can he do; no pleading will answer. He must become just before he can appear just before God.
II. He regarded Him as WISE. "He is wise in heart." Who doubts the wisdom of God? The whole system of nature, the arrangements of Providence, and the mediation of Christ, all reveal His "manifold wisdom." He is wise, so that —
1. You cannot deceive Him by your falsehoods; He knows all about you, sees the inmost depths of your being.
2. You cannot thwart Him by your stratagems. His purposes must stand.
III. As STRONG. "Mighty in strength." His power is seen in the creation, sustenance, and government of the universe. The strength of God is absolute, independent, illimitable, undecayable, and always on the side of right and happiness.
IV. HE REGARDED HIM AS RETRIBUTIVE. There is a retributive element in the Divine nature — an instinct of justice. Retribution in human governors is policy. The Eternal retributes wrong because of His instinctive repugnance to wrong. Hence the wrong doer cannot succeed. The great principle is, that if a man desires prosperity, he must fall in with the arrangements of God in His providence and grace; and wisdom is seen in studying these arrangements, and in yielding to them.
But how should man be just with God.
1. That man cannot be justified by the law — that is, by his obedience to the law, or the performance of its duties, — is clear from its condition, "This do, and thou shalt live." It makes no abatement for sincerity; it makes no allowance for infirmity. Mercy is inadmissible here; it just asks its due, and holds out the reward upon the payment of it.
2. Neither can he be justified by a mitigated law; that is, by its being lowered till it is within reach.
3. Nor yet can he be absolved by the passing by of his transgressions through the forgetfulness (so to speak) of God; as if He would not be extreme to mark what was done amiss.
4. How then shall man be just with God? It must be in a way that will honour the law. Christ hath "magnified the law, and made it honourable" —
(1) (2) (George Jeans, M. A.)
(2) (George Jeans, M. A.)
(George Jeans, M. A.)
(W. Sparrow, D. D.)
(John Smith, M. A.)1. Our subject is the atonement, and facts in human nature which demand it. Religion can account for all its principles and doctrines by an appeal to the facts of our being. The doctrine of reconciliation with God through the atoning death of Jesus is confessedly the chief and, in some respects, the most obscure doctrine of the Christian religion. Nevertheless, belief in its general features is essential to any honest acceptance of the Gospel. Without discussing obscurities, I wish, in aid of faith, simply to point out how true it is to all the facts of human nature.
2. "How should man be just with God?" It is not a question that is raised by recent ethical culture or by the progress of man in moral development, as some have thought. It is as old as the human soul, as ancient as the sense of sin, as universal as humanity, and is heard in all the religions. Beneath the burning skies of primeval Arabia this mighty problem is debated by an Arab sheik and his three friends. First —(1) Bildad, the Shuhite, states the incontrovertible premise from which the discussion starts — a premise grounded in universal consciousness, and axiomatic in its truth: "Behold, God will not east away a perfect man, neither will He help the evildoer." That is to say, God makes an everlasting distinction between and a difference in His treatment of righteous and unrighteous men.(2) Then up speaks Job: "I know it is so of a truth. But how should man be just with God? If he will contend with Him, he cannot answer Him one of a thousand!" "There is none that doeth good; no, not one."(3) Despondently, Job continues: "If God will not withdraw His anger, the proud helpers do stoop under Him. How much less shall I answer Him, and choose out nay words to reason with Him?" That is to say, all our repentances and righteousnesses, upon which we so much rely, are, for the nakedness of our need, but as filthy rags. The cry for mercy, instead of justice, must be our only plea.(4) Then Job continues again: "I am afraid of all my sorrows. I know Thou wilt not hold me innocent." "All my sorrows." There is the remorse, the hell that is in me, the sense of justice unsatisfied, "I am afraid of them!"(5) Then Job resumes once more: "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that he might lay his hand upon both!" Ah, the blessed Christ, the Mediator, our Daysman, laying one hand on Justice and the other on our guilty heads, our Atonement, making God and man to be at one in peace — He had not come! "Neither is there any daysman betwixt us, that He might lay His hand upon both!" Do you see now why Abraham and Job and all the ancient kings and prophets longed to see the day of Christ, and how hard it was for them to die without the sight? "We have no daysman!" Oh, the abysmal depth of longing in that word, "We have no daysman," and "How should man be just with God?" And then, for all we are told, that desert colloquy stopped there, in utter sadness and gloom. Oh, if some one of us had only been there, and had been able to smite out and drop into the abyss the years that intervened between Job's day and Christ's. Or, if we could have led John the Apostle up to that company of Job and his three friends, and could have bidden John speak up, with clear tone, on their debate, and had him say to those, ancient Arabs, as he said to us: "If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous. And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the whole world!" But Paul says it again, in his exact, positive way, and insists upon it. "To declare, I say, at this time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus!" And then they are satisfied. And now Job, and Bildad, and Zophar, and Elihu spring to their feet upon the desert sands, and with John and Paul lift their eyes and hands heavenward, and cry with one voice: "Unto Him that hath loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood — to Him be glory and dominion, and honour, and power, forever and ever. Amen."
3. I affirm, as a matter of Christian experience, that all the necessary features and implications of the orthodox doctrine of the atonement are true to the facts of human nature. When I say the orthodox view, I mean that view in the highest form of its statement, the substitutional view, namely, that Christ's death becomes an actual satisfaction to justice, to that sense of justice which exists in our own bosoms and in the bosoms of all intelligent creatures, and which, in the nature of things, must be a duplication of the sense of justice within the bosom of God Himself; that Christ's sufferings and death become an actual satisfaction to justice for our sins that are past, when we accept it as such by faith. And the proof that it is a satisfaction, the evidence that it does take away the sense of demerit, the feeling that we owe something to justice, is that we are conscious it does. The philosophers have sometimes voted consciousness down and out by large majorities, but it refuses to stay down and out. It comes back and asserts itself. "A man just knows it, sir," as Dr. Johnson said, "and that is all there is about the matter." All that we Christians can do, all that we need to do, is to have the experience of it, and then stand still, and magnificently and imperiously declare that it does, for we feel it to be so. Men may tell us that it ought not to be so; we will rejoin that it is so. They may say that our sense of right and wrong is very imperfectly developed, or we could not derive peace from the thought that an innocent Being has suffered in our stead. Against our experience the world can make no answer. We aver that man feels his sin needs propitiation, and that, if he will, he may find that the death of Christ meets that need.
4. Let us go outside distinctively Christian experience, and note some facts in human nature which show its trend toward the atonement in Jesus.(1) We aver that repentance and reformation alone will not satisfy the sense of right in man. Twenty-five years ago a friend of mine, a boy, under circumstances of great temptation, stole, and then had to lie to conceal the theft. He did not afterward have courage to confess and restore. The opportunity to own his sin and to make restitution soon passed away forever. Within a few years, he has assured me that the memory of that early, only theft yet lies heavily upon his soul, and that he can never feel at ease until that matter is somehow made right. Standing by this blazing fact in experience, I aver that the moral sense demands satisfaction, Repentance is not enough — he has repented. Reformation is not enough — he has never stolen since. Still he cannot answer God nor himself. He is not innocent, and the "proud helpers do stoop under him." Propitiation of his own sense of right was necessary. He and my friend go and stand beside Job in the desert yonder, and say with him, "I am afraid of my sorrows. I know that Thou wilt not hold me innocent." They do not hold themselves innocent. Let me add some more specimens of the innermost feelings of representative men which look in the same direction. Byron was not a man given to superstition or flightiness. In his "Manfred," he is known to have spoken out the facts of his own guilty heart. There he says —
"There is no power in holy men,
Nor charms in prayer, nor purifying form
Of penitence, nor outward look, nor fast,
Nor agony, nor, greater than them all,
The innate tortures of that deep despair
Which is Remorse without the fear of hell,
But all in all sufficient of itself
Would make a hell of heaven — can exorcise
From out the unbounded spirit the quick sense
Of its own sins, sufferings, and revenge
Now, recollect that this is poetry. In poetry we get the deepest philosophy — there the heart speaks. It has no voice but the voice of nature. Byron speaks true to nature when he declares not prayer, nor fast, nor agony, nor remorse, can atone for sin or satisfy the soul. Is there not in the confession of that volcanic spirit a fact which looks toward man's need of Calvary? I take down my Shakespeare and open it at "Macbeth," that awfulest tragedy of our tongue, matchless in literature for its description of the workings of a guilty conscience, to be studied evermore. Lady Macbeth — King Duncan having been murdered — walks in her sleep through her husband's castle at night bearing a taper in her hands. "Physician: How came she by that light? Servant: Why, it stood by her; she has light by her continually; 'tis her command." As she walks, she rubs her hands. A servant explains: "It is an accustomed action with her to seem thus washing her hands; I have known her to continue in this a quarter of an hour." Then Lady Macbeth speaks: "Yet here's a spot. What! will these hands ne'er be clean?...Here's the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand!" Is there not something there which sounds like the echo of Job's words in the desert: "I am afraid of all my sorrows"? Does not Lady Macbeth, walking at night and repenting of her crime and washing her hands in dreams from Duncan's blood, look as if an accusing conscience and the sense of justice unsatisfied could make its own hell?(2) Still further, I aver that the moral sense is never appeased until atonement is somehow made. The atoning stroke must fall somewhere, even though it be upon himself, before a man can be at peace with himself. That is a profoundly instructive, because profoundly true, series of passages in Coleridge's tragedy of "Remorse," which sets out this fact. "The guilty and guilt-smitten Ordonio is stabbed by Alhadra, the wife of the murdered Isadore. As the steel drinks his heart's blood, he utters the one single word, 'Atonement!' His self-accusing spirit, which is wrung with its remorseful recollections, and which the warm and hearty forgiveness of his injured brother has not been able to soothe in the least, actually feels its first gush of relief only as the avenging knife enters, and crime meets penalty." Ordonio, shortly dying, expires saying —
"I stood in silence, like a slave before her,
That I might taste the wormwood and the gall,
And satiate this self-accusing heart
With bitterer agonies than death can give."
That seems to say to me that nothing will give the soul peace but atonement of some kind.
5. I think, therefore, that if you could bring Job and his three friends, and my acquaintance who stole in his youth, and Byron, and Shakespeare, and Coleridge here today, they would see eye to eye, and agree upon some things in the name of facts in human nature.(1) They would agree that repentance alone does not make a man to be at peace. All this company had most bitterly repented.(2) They would agree that reformation was not sufficient.(3) They would agree that the guilty soul's remorse, its "biting back" upon itself, was its own hell, enough for its punishment.(4) They would agree that the mind so sternly demands that atonement be made, somewhere and somehow, that it will sooner offer its own bosom, as Ordonio did, than that its own sense of justice should go unsatisfied.(5) They would probably agree with Socrates, when he says to Plato, as some of you may have said today, "Perhaps God may forgive sin, but I do not see how He can, for I do not see how He ought." That is to say, "I do not see how the man who has sinned can ever be at peace."(6) And then I aver that, if the years between could be dropped out and Paul could join that company and say, "Behold the Lamb of God, whom God set forth to be a propitiation by His "blood, to show His righteousness because of the passing over of the sins done aforetime, that He might Himself be just and the justifier of him that hath faith in Jesus" — if Paul could say that to them, and that company could accept Christ as their Daysman, transferring by sincere repentance and faith their guilt to Him, and consenting in their minds that He should discharge its penalty by His body and blood, then I aver, in the name of millions of Christians, that they would find peace. And I aver that this feeling of indebtedness to justice, which is alike in the bosom of God and the bosom of man, being satisfied, Job and his friends, and Byron, and Shakespeare, and Coleridge, and all sinful men would spring to their feet and say, with John and Paul and all that other company of the saved in heaven, "Unto Him that hath loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, to Him be glory and dominion and honour and power, forever and ever. Amen!" Such are a few of the facts in the consciousness of men which a brief survey enables us to notice. The logic of human nature is Christ. No Humboldt, or Cuvier, or Darwin, with keen scientific eye, ever noted such an array of physical facts, all bearing toward one end in the physical world, as we find in the moral realm, all tending toward Jesus. claimed that the testimony of the mind was naturally Christian. His claim is just. Men may raft at these facts in consciousness; they may declare that they make God a Moloch, and that the doctrine of the atonement is the bloody invention of gross. minded men, but the facts remain still, and their scientific trend and drift is wholly toward the Blessed Man of Calvary. If anyone does not feel so now, he is drugged with sin; he has taken opiates; he is not himself.
(J. C. Jackson, D. D.)
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