Job having warmly given vent to his passion, and so broken the ice, his
friends here come gravely to give vent to their judgment upon his case,
which perhaps they had communicated to one another apart, compared
notes upon it and talked it over among themselves, and found they were
all agreed in their verdict, that Job's afflictions certainly proved
him to be a hypocrite; but they did not attack Job with this high
charge till by the expressions of his discontent and impatience, in
which they thought he reflected on God himself, he had confirmed them
in the bad opinion they had before conceived of him and his character.
Now they set upon him with great fear. The dispute begins, and it soon
becomes fierce. The opponents are Job's three friends. Job himself is
respondent. Elihu appears, first, as moderator, and at length God
himself gives judgment upon the controversy and the management of it.
The question in dispute is whether Job was an honest man or no, the
same question that was in dispute between God and Satan in the first
two chapters. Satan had yielded it, and durst not pretend that his
cursing his day was a constructive cursing of his God; no, he cannot
deny but that Job still holds fast his integrity; but Job's friends
will needs have it that, if Job were an honest man, he would not have
been thus sorely and thus tediously afflicted, and therefore urge him
to confess himself a hypocrite in the profession he had made of
religion: "No," says Job, "that I will never do; I have offended God,
but my heart, notwithstanding, has been upright with him;" and still he
holds fast the comfort of his integrity. Eliphaz, who, it is likely,
was the senior, or of the best quality, begins with him in this
chapter, in which,
I. He bespeaks a patient hearing,
II. He compliments Job with an acknowledgment of the eminence and
usefulness of the profession he had made of religion,
III. He charges him with hypocrisy in his profession, grounding his
charge upon his present troubles and his conduct under them,
IV. To make good the inference, he maintains that man's wickedness is
that which always brings God's judgments,
V. He corroborates his assertion by a vision which he had, in which he
was reminded of the incontestable purity and justice of God, and the
meanness, weakness, and sinfulness of man,
By all this he aims to bring down Job's spirit and to make him both
penitent and patient under his afflictions.
|The Address of Eliphaz.
||B. C. 1520.|
1 Then Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
2 If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? but
who can withhold himself from speaking?
3 Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened
the weak hands.
4 Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast
strengthened the feeble knees.
5 But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it toucheth
thee, and thou art troubled.
6 Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the
uprightness of thy ways?
In these verses,
I. Eliphaz excuses the trouble he is now about to give to Job by his
"If we assay a word with thee, offer a word of reproof and
counsel, wilt thou be grieved and take it ill?" We have reason to fear
thou wilt; but there is no remedy: "Who can refrain from words?"
1. With what modesty he speaks of himself and his own attempt. He will
not undertake the management of the cause alone, but very humbly joins
his friends with him: "We will commune with thee." Those that plead
God's cause must be glad of help, lest it suffer through their
weakness. He will not promise much, but begs leave to assay or attempt,
and try if he could propose any thing that might be pertinent, and suit
Job's case. In difficult matters it becomes us to pretend no further,
but only to try what may be said or done. Many excellent discourses
have gone under the modest title of Essays.
2. With what tenderness he speaks of Job, and his present afflicted
condition: "If we tell thee our mind, wilt thou be grieved? Wilt
thou take it ill? Wilt thou lay it to thy own heart as thy affliction
or to our charge as our fault? Shall we be reckoned unkind and cruel if
we deal plainly and faithfully with thee? We desire we may not; we hope
we shall not, and should be sorry if that should be ill resented which
is well intended." Note, We ought to be afraid of grieving any,
especially those that are already in grief, lest we add affliction to
the afflicted, as David's enemies,
We should show ourselves backward to say that which we foresee will be
grievous, though ever so necessary. God himself, though he afflicts
justly, does not afflict willingly,
3. With what assurance he speaks of the truth and pertinency of what he
was about to say: Who can withhold himself from speaking? Surely
it was a pious zeal for God's honour, and the spiritual welfare of Job,
that laid him under this necessity of speaking. "Who can forbear
speaking in vindication of God's honour, which we hear reproved, in
love to thy soul, which we see endangered?" Note, It is foolish pity
not to reprove our friends, even our friends in affliction, for what
they say or do amiss, only for fear of offending them. Whether men take
it well or ill, we must with wisdom and meekness do our duty and
discharge a good conscience.
II. He exhibits a twofold charge against Job.
1. As to his particular conduct under this affliction. He charges him
with weakness and faint-heartedness, and this article of his charge
there was too much ground for,
(1.) He takes notice of Job's former serviceableness to the comfort of
others. He owns that Job had instructed many, not only his own children
and servants, but many others, his neighbours and friends, as many as
fell within the sphere of his activity. He did not only encourage
those who were teachers by office, and countenance them, and pay for
the teaching of those who were poor, but he did himself instruct many.
Though a great man, he did not think it below him (king Solomon was a
preacher); though a man of business, he found time to do it, went among
his neighbours, talked to them about their souls, and gave them good
counsel. O that this example of Job were imitated by our great men! If
he met with those who were ready to fall into sin, or sink under their
troubles, his words upheld them: a wonderful dexterity he had in
offering that which was proper to fortify persons against temptations,
to support them under their burdens, and to comfort afflicted
consciences. He had, and used, the tongue of the learned, knew how to
speak a word in season to those that were weary, and employed himself
much in that good work. With suitable counsels and comforts he
strengthened the weak hands for work and service and the
spiritual warfare, and the feeble knees for bearing up the man in his
journey and under his load. It is not only our duty to lift up our
own hands that hang down, by quickening and encouraging ourselves
in the way of duty
but we must also strengthen the weak hands of others, as there is
occasion, and do what we can to confirm their feeble knees, by saying
to those that are of a fearful heart, Be strong,
The expressions seem to be borrowed thence. Note, Those should abound
in spiritual charity. A good word, well and wisely spoken, may do more
good than perhaps we think of. But why does Eliphaz mention this here?
[1.] Perhaps he praises him thus for the good he had done that he might
make the intended reproof the more passable with him. Just commendation
is a good preface to a just reprehension, will help to remove
prejudices, and will show that the reproof comes not from ill will.
Paul praised the Corinthians before he chided them,
1 Corinthians 11:2.
[2.] He remembers how Job had comforted others as a reason why he might
justly expect to be himself comforted; and yet, if conviction was
necessary in order to comfort, they must be excused if they applied
themselves to that first. The Comforter shall reprove,
[3.] He speaks this, perhaps, in a way of pity, lamenting that through
the extremity of his affliction he could not apply those comforts to
himself which he had formerly administered to others. It is easier to
give good counsel than to take it, to preach meekness and patience than
to practise them. Facile omnes, cum valemus, rectum consilium
ægrotis damus--We all find it easy, when in health, to give good
advice to the sick.--Terent.
[4.] Most think that he mentions it as an aggravation of his present
discontent, upbraiding him with his knowledge, and the good offices he
had done for others, as if he had said, "Thou that hast taught others,
why dost thou not teach thyself? Is not this an evidence of thy
hypocrisy, that thou hast prescribed that medicine to others which thou
wilt not now take thyself, and so contradictest thyself, and actest
against thy own know principles? Thou that teachest another to faint,
dost thou faint?
Physician, heal thyself." Those who have rebuked others must expect to
hear of it if they themselves become obnoxious to rebuke.
(2.) He upbraids him with his present low-spiritedness,
"Now that it has come upon thee, now that it is thy turn
to be afflicted, and the bitter cup that goes round is put into thy
hand, now that it touches thee, thou faintest, thou art
[1.] He makes too light of Job's afflictions: "It touches thee."
The very word that Satan himself had used,
Had Eliphaz felt but the one-half of Job's affliction, he would have
said, "It smites me, it wounds me;" but, speaking of Job's afflictions,
he makes a mere trifle of it: "It touches thee and thou canst not bear
to be touched." Noli me tangere--Touch me not.
[2.] He makes too much of Job's resentments, and aggravates them: "Thou
faintest, or thou art beside thyself; thou ravest, and knowest not what
thou sayest." Men in deep distress must have grains of allowance, and a
favourable construction put upon what they say; when we make the worst
of every word we do not as we would be done by.
2. As to his general character before this affliction. He charges him
with wickedness and false-heartedness, and this article of his charge
was utterly groundless and unjust. How unkindly does he banter him, and
upbraid him with the great profession of religion he had made, as if it
had all now come to nothing and proved a sham
"Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, thy hope, and the uprightness
of thy ways? Does it not all appear now to be a mere pretence? For,
hadst thou been sincere in it, God would not thus have afflicted thee,
nor wouldst thou have behaved thus under the affliction." This was the
very thing Satan aimed at, to prove Job a hypocrite, and disprove the
character God had given of him. When he could not himself do this to
God, but he still saw and said, Job is perfect and upright, then
he endeavoured, by his friends, to do it to Job himself, and to
persuade him to confess himself a hypocrite. Could he have gained that
point he would have triumphed. Habes confitentem reum--Out of thy
own mouth will I condemn thee. But, by the grace of God, Job was
enabled to hold fast his integrity, and would not bear false witness
against himself. Note, Those that pass rash and uncharitable censures
upon their brethren, and condemn them as hypocrites, do Satan's work,
and serve his interest, more than they are aware of. I know not how it
comes to pass that
is differently read in several editions of our common English Bibles;
the original, and all the ancient versions, put thy hope before
the uprightness of thy ways. So does the Geneva, and most of the
editions of the last translation; but I find one of the first, in 1612,
has it, Is not this thy fear, thy confidence, the uprightness of thy
ways, and thy hope? Both the Assembly's Annotations and Mr. Pool's
have that reading: and an edition in 1660 reads it, "Is not thy fear
thy confidence, and the uprightness of thy ways thy hope? Does it
not appear now that all the religion both of thy devotion and of thy
conversation was only in hope and confidence that thou shouldst grow
rich by it? Was it not all mercenary?" The very thing that Satan
suggested. Is not thy religion thy hope, and are not thy ways thy
confidence? so Mr. Broughton. Or, "Was it not? Didst thou not
think that that would be thy protection? But thou art deceived." Or,
"Would it not have been so? If it had been sincere, would it not have
kept thee from this despair?" It is true, if thou faint in the day
of adversity, thy strength, thy grace, is small
but it does not therefore follow that thou hast no grace, no strength
at all. A man's character is not to be taken from a single act.
7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent?
or where were the righteous cut off?
8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow
wickedness, reap the same.
9 By the blast of God they perish, and by the breath of his
nostrils are they consumed.
10 The roaring of the lion, and the voice of the fierce lion,
and the teeth of the young lions, are broken.
11 The old lion perisheth for lack of prey, and the stout
lion's whelps are scattered abroad.
Eliphaz here advances another argument to prove Job a hypocrite, and
will have not only his impatience under his afflictions to be evidence
against him but even his afflictions themselves, being so very great
and extraordinary, and there being no prospect at all of his
deliverance out of them. To strengthen his argument he here lays down
these two principles, which seem plausible enough:--
I. That good men were never thus ruined. For the proof of this he
appeals to Job's own observation
"Remember, I pray thee; recollect all that thou hast seen,
heard, or read, and give me an instance of any one that was innocent
and righteous, and yet perished as thou dost, and was cut off as thou
art." If we understand it of a final and eternal destruction, his
principle is true. None that are innocent and righteous perish for
ever: it is only a man of sin that is a son of perdition,
2 Thessalonians 2:3.
But then it is ill applied to Job; he did not thus perish, nor was he
cut off: a man is never undone till he is in hell. But, if we
understand it of any temporal calamity, his principle is not true.
The righteous perish
there is one event both to the righteous and to the wicked
both in life and death; the great and certain difference is after
death. Even before Job's time (as early as it was) there were instances
sufficient to contradict this principle. Did not righteous Abel
perish being innocent? and was he not cut off in the beginning
of his days? Was not righteous Lot burnt out of house and harbour, and
forced to retire to a melancholy cave? Was not righteous Jacob a
Syrian ready to perish?
Other such instances, no doubt, there were, which are not on
II. That wicked men were often thus ruined. For the proof of this he
vouches his own observation
"Even as I have seen, many a time, those that plough
iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap accordingly; by the blast of God
We have daily instances of that; and therefore, since thou dost thus
perish and art consumed, we have reason to think that, whatever
profession of religion thou hast made, thou hast but ploughed iniquity
and sown wickedness. Even as I have seen in others, so do I see in
1. He speaks of sinners in general, politic busy sinners, that take
pains in sin, for they plough iniquity; and expect gain by sin, for
they sow wickedness. Those that plough plough in hope, but what is the
issue? They reap the same. They shall of the flesh reap
corruption and ruin,
The harvest will be a heap in the day of grief and desperate
He shall reap the same, that is, the proper product of that
seedness. That which the sinner sows, he sows not that body that
shall be, but God will give it a body, a body of death, the end
of those things,
Some, by iniquity and wickedness, understand wrong and injury done to
others. Those who plough and sow them shall reap the same, that is,
they shall be paid in their own coin. Those who are troublesome shall
2 Thessalonians 1:6,Jos+7:25.
The spoilers shall be spoiled
and those that led captive shall go captive,
He further describes their destruction
By the blast of God they perish. The projects they take so much
pains in are defeated; God cuts asunder the cords of those ploughers,
They themselves are destroyed, which is the just punishment of their
iniquity. They perish, that is, they are destroyed utterly;
they are consumed, that is, they are destroyed gradually; and
this by the blast and breath of God, that is,
(1.) By his wrath. His anger is the ruin of sinners, who are therefore
called vessels of wrath, and his breath is said to kindle
Who knows the power of his anger?
(2.) By his word. He speaks and it is done, easily and effectually. The
Spirit of God, in the word, consumes sinners; with that he slays them,
Saying and doing are not two things with God. The man of sin is said to
be consumed with the breath of Christ's mouth,
Compare Isa. xi. 4; Rev. xix. 21.
Some think that in attributing the destruction of sinners to the blast
of God, and the breath of his nostrils, he refers to the wind
which blew the house down upon Job's children, as if they were
therefore sinners above all men because they suffered such
2. He speaks particularly of tyrants and cruel oppressors, under the
similitude of lions,
(1.) How he describes their cruelty and oppression. The Hebrew tongue
has five several names for lions, and they are all here used to set
forth the terrible tearing power, fierceness, and cruelty, of proud
oppressors. They roar, and rend, and prey upon all about them, and
bring up their young ones to do so too,
The devil is a roaring lion; and they partake of his nature, and do his
lusts. They are strong as lions, and subtle
and, as far as they prevail, they lay all desolate about them.
(2.) How he describes their destruction, the destruction both of their
power and of their persons. They shall be restrained from doing further
hurt and reckoned with for the hurt they have done. An effectual course
shall be taken,
[1.] That they shall not terrify. The voice of their roaring shall be
[2.] That they shall not tear. God will disarm them, will take away
their power to do hurt: The teeth of the young lions are broken.
Thus shall the remainder of wrath be restrained.
[3.] That they shall not enrich themselves with the spoil of their
neighbours. Even the old lion is famished, and perishes for
lack of prey. Those that have surfeited on spoil and rapine are
perhaps reduced to such straits as to die of hunger at last.
[4.] That they shall not, as they promise themselves, leave a
succession: The stout lion's whelps are scattered abroad, to
seek for food themselves, which the old ones used to bring in for them,
The lion did tear in pieces for his whelps, but now they must
shift for themselves. Perhaps Eliphaz intended, in this, to reflect
upon Job, as if he, being the greatest of all the men of the
east, had got his estate by spoil and used his power in oppressing
his neighbours, but now his power and estate were gone, and his family
was scattered: if so, it was a pity that a man whom God praised should
be thus abused.
12 Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear
received a little thereof.
13 In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep
falleth on men,
14 Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to
15 Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh
16 It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an
image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a
17 Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more
pure than his maker?
18 Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he
charged with folly:
19 How much less in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose
foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth?
20 They are destroyed from morning to evening: they perish for
ever without any regarding it.
21 Doth not their excellency which is in them go away? they
die, even without wisdom.
Eliphaz, having undertaken to convince Job of the sin and folly of his
discontent and impatience, here vouches a vision he had been favoured
with, which he relates to Job for his conviction. What comes
immediately from God all men will pay a particular deference to, and
Job, no doubt, as much as any. Some think Eliphaz had this vision now
lately, since he came to Job, putting words into his mouth
wherewith to reason with him; and it would have been well if he had
kept to the purport of this vision, which would serve for a ground on
which to reprove Job for his murmuring, but not to condemn him as a
hypocrite. Others think he had it formerly; for God did, in this
way, often communicate his mind to the children of men in those first
ages of the world,
Probably God had sent Eliphaz this messenger and message some time or
other, when he was himself in an unquiet discontented frame, to calm
and pacify him. Note, As we should comfort others with that wherewith
we have been comforted
(2 Corinthians 1:4),
so we should endeavour to convince others with that which has been
powerful to convince us. The people of God had not then any written
word to quote, and therefore God sometimes notified to them even common
truths by the extraordinary ways of revelation. We that have Bibles
have there (thanks be to God) a more sure word to depend upon than even
visions and voices,
2 Peter 1:19.
I. The manner in which this message was sent to Eliphaz, and the
circumstances of the conveyance of it to him.
1. It was brought to him secretly, or by stealth. Some of the
sweetest communion gracious souls have with God is in secret, where no
eye sees but that of him who is all eye. God has ways of bringing
conviction, counsel, and comfort, to his people, unobserved by the
world, by private whispers, as powerfully and effectually as by the
public ministry. His secret is with them,
As the evil spirit often steals good words out of the heart
so the good Spirit sometimes steals good words into the heart, or ever
we are aware.
2. He received a little thereof,
And it is but a little of divine knowledge that the best receive in
this world. We know little in comparison with what is to be known, and
with what we shall know when we come to heaven. How little a portion
is heard of God!
We know but in part,
1 Corinthians 13:12.
See his humility and modesty. He pretends not to have understood it
fully, but something of it he perceived.
3. It was brought to him in the visions of the night
when he had retired from the world and the hurry of it, and all about
him was composed and quiet. Note, The more we are withdrawn from the
world and the things of it the fitter we are for communion with God.
When we are communing with our own hearts, and are still
then is a proper time for the Holy Spirit to commune with us. When
others were asleep Eliphaz was ready to receive this visit from Heaven,
and probably, like David, was meditating upon God in the
night-watches; in the midst of those good thoughts this thing was
brought to him. We should hear more from God if we thought more of him;
yet some are surprised with convictions in the night,
4. It was prefaced with terrors: Fear came upon him, and
It should seem, before he either heard or saw any thing, he was seized
with this trembling, which shook his bones, and perhaps the bed under
him. A holy awe and reverence of God and his majesty being struck upon
his spirit, he was thereby prepared for a divine visit. Whom God
intends to honour he first humbles and lays low, and will have us all
to serve him with holy fear, and to rejoice with trembling.
II. The messenger by whom it was sent--a spirit, one of the good
angels, who are employed not only as the ministers of God's providence,
but sometimes as the ministers of his word. Concerning this apparition
which Eliphaz saw we are here told
1. That it was real, and not a dream, not a fancy. An image was
before his eyes; he plainly saw it; at first it passed and repassed
before his face, moved up and down, but at length it stood still
to speak to him. If some have been so knavish as to impose false
visions on others, and some so foolish as to be themselves imposed
upon, it does not therefore follow but that there may have been
apparitions of spirits, both good and bad.
2. That it was indistinct, and somewhat confused. He could not
discern the form thereof, so as to frame any exact idea of it in
his own mind, much less to give a description of it. His conscience was
to be awakened and informed, not his curiosity gratified. We know
little of spirits; we are not capable of knowing much of them, nor is
it fit that we should: all in good time; we must shortly remove to the
world of spirits, and shall then be better acquainted with them.
3. That it puts him into a great consternation, so that his hair stood
on end. Ever since man sinned it has been terrible to him to receive
an express from heaven, as conscious to himself that he can expect no
good tidings thence; apparitions therefore, even of good spirits, have
always made deep impressions of fear, even upon good men. How well it
is for us that God sends us his messages, not by spirits, but by men
like ourselves, whose terror shall not make us afraid! See
III. The message itself. Before it was delivered there was
silence, profound silence,
When we are to speak either from God or to him it becomes us to address
ourselves to it with a solemn pause, and so to set bounds about the
mount on which God is to come down, and not be hasty to utter any
thing. It was in a still small voice that the message was delivered,
and this was it
"Shall mortal man be more just than God, the immortal God?
Shall a man be thought to be, or pretend to be, more pure
than his Maker? Away with such a thought!"
1. Some think that Eliphaz aims hereby to prove that Job's great
afflictions were a certain evidence of his being a wicked man. A mortal
man would be thought unjust and very impure if he should thus correct
and punish a servant or subject, unless he had been guilty of some very
great crime: "If therefore there were not some great crimes for which
God thus punishes thee, man would be more just than God, which is not
to be imagined."
2. I rather think it is only a reproof of Job's murmuring and
discontent: "Shall a man pretend to be more just and pure than God?
more truly to understand, and more strictly to observe, the rules and
laws of equity than God? Shall Enosh, mortal and miserable man,
be so insolent; nay, shall Geber, the strongest and most eminent
man, man at his best estate, pretend to compare with God, or stand in
competition with him?" Note, It is most impious and absurd to think
either others or ourselves more just and pure than God. Those that
quarrel and find fault with the directions of the divine law, the
dispensations of the divine grace, or the disposals of the divine
providence, make themselves more just and pure than God; and those who
thus reprove God, let them answer it. What! sinful man! (for he
would not have been mortal if he had not been sinful) short-sighted
man! Shall he pretend to be more just, more pure, than God, who, being
his Maker, is his Lord and owner? Shall the clay contend with the
potter? What justice and purity there is in man, God is the author of
it, and therefore is himself more just and pure. See
IV. The comment which Eliphaz makes upon this, for so it seems to be;
yet some take all the
to be spoken in vision. It comes all to one.
1. He shows how little the angels themselves are in comparison with
Angels are God's servants, waiting servants, working servants; they are
bright and blessed beings they are, but God neither needs them nor is
benefited by them and is himself infinitely above them, and therefore,
(1.) He puts no trust in them, did not repose a confidence in them, as
we do in those we cannot live without. There is no service in which he
employs them but, if he pleased, he could have it done as well without
them. He never made them his confidants, or of his cabinet-council,
He does not leave his business wholly to them, but his own eyes run
to and fro through the earth,
2 Chronicles 16:9.
See this phrase,
Some give this sense of it: "So mutable is even the angelical nature
that God would not trust angels with their own integrity; if he had,
they would all have done as some did, left their first estate; but he
saw it necessary to give them supernatural grace to confirm them."
(2.) He charges them with folly, vanity, weakness, infirmity, and
imperfection, in comparison with himself. If the world were left to the
government of the angels, and they were trusted with the sole
management of affairs, they would take false steps, and everything
would not be done for the best, as now it is. Angels are intelligences,
but finite ones. Though not chargeable with iniquity, yet with
imprudence. This last clause is variously rendered by the critics. I
think it would bear this reading, repeating the negation, which is very
common: He will put no trust in his saints; nor will he glory in his
angels (in angelis suis non ponet gloriationem) or make his boast
of them, as if their praises, or services, added any thing to him: it
is his glory that he is infinitely happy without them.
2. Thence he infers how much less man is, how much less to be trusted
in or gloried in. If there is such a distance between God and angels,
what is there between God and man! See how man is represented here in
(1.) Look upon man in his life, and he is very mean,
Take man in his best estate, and he is a very despicable creature in
comparison with the holy angels, though honourable if compared with the
brutes. It is true, angels are spirits, and the souls of men are
[1.] Angels are pure spirits; the souls of men dwell in houses of
clay: such the bodies of men are. Angels are free; human souls are
housed, and the body is a cloud, a clog, to it; it is its cage; it is
its prison. It is a house of clay, mean and mouldering; an earthen
vessel, soon broken, as it was first formed, according to the good
pleasure of the potter. It is a cottage, not a house of cedar or a
house of ivory, but of clay, which would soon be in ruins if not kept
in constant repair.
[2.] Angels are fixed, but the very foundation of that house of
clay in which man dwells is in the dust. A house of clay, if
built upon a rock, might stand long; but, if founded in the dust, the
uncertainty of the foundation will hasten its fall, and it will sink
with its own weight. As man was made out of the earth, so he is
maintained and supported by that which cometh out of the earth. Take
away that, and his body returns to its earth. We stand but upon the
dust; some have a higher heap of dust to stand upon than others, but
still it is the earth that stays us up and will shortly swallow us up.
[3.] Angels are immortal, but man is soon crushed; the earthly house
of his tabernacle is dissolved; he dies and wastes away, is
crushed like a moth between one's fingers, as easily, as quickly;
one may almost as soon kill a man as kill a moth. A little thing will
destroy his life. He is crushed before the face of the moth, so
the word is. If some lingering distemper, which consumes like a moth,
be commissioned to destroy him, he can no more resist it than he can
resist an acute distemper, which comes roaring upon him like a lion.
Is such a creature as this to be trusted in, or can any service be
expected from him by that God who puts no trust in angels
(2.) Look upon him in his death, and he appears yet more despicable,
and unfit to be trusted. Men are mortal and dying,
[1.] In death they are destroyed, and perish for ever, as
to this world; it is the final period of their lives, and all the
employments and enjoyments here; their place will know them no more.
[2.] They are dying daily, and continually wasting: Destroyed from
morning to evening. Death is still working in us, like a mole
digging our grave at each remove, and we so continually lie exposed
that we are killed all the day long.
[3.] Their life is short, and in a little time they are cut off. It
lasts perhaps but from morning to evening. It is but a day (so some
understand it); their birth and death are but the sun-rise and sun-set
of the same day.
[4.] In death all their excellency passes away; beauty, strength,
learning, not only cannot secure them from death, but must die with
them, nor shall their pomp, their wealth, or power, descend after them.
[5.] Their wisdom cannot save them from death: They die without
wisdom, die for want of wisdom, by their own foolish management of
themselves, digging their graves with their own teeth.
[6.] It is so common a thing that nobody heeds it, nor takes any notice
of it: They perish without any regarding it, or laying it to
heart. The deaths of others are much the subject of common talk, but
little the subject of serious thought. Some think the eternal
damnation of sinners is here spoken of, as well as their temporal
death: They are destroyed, or broken to pieces, by death, from
morning to evening; and, if they repent not, they perish for ever
(so some read it),
They perish for ever because they regard not God and their duty; they
consider not their latter end,
They have no excellency but that which death takes away, and they die,
they die the second death, for want of wisdom to lay hold on eternal
life. Shall such a mean, weak, foolish, sinful, dying creature as this
pretend to be more just than God and more pure than his Maker?
No, instead of quarrelling with his afflictions, let him wonder that he
is out of hell.