Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu.
1. The true principles of the Divine administration, as he understood them; and
2. By saying that there is much in the Divine government which is inscrutable, but that there are such evidences of greatness and wisdom in His government, there are so many things in the works of nature, and in the course of events, which we cannot understand, that we should submit to His superior wisdom.
(Robert A. Watson, D. D.)
1. Elihu appears to have been a young man of keen perception, vigorous intellect, and possessed of the idea that he had a mission to teach and criticise others. He saw their mistakes as a bystander might, and set himself to correct them. The thing which peculiarly stirs him is, that while Job was clearly wrong, the friends had not hit off the truth, they had erred more than he, and this he considers as overruled for good, that they might not fancy that "they had answered him," and that they, and not God, "had thrust him down." With this view of their relative positions he goes to work to answer their objections and to correct Job. The opening of his speech to Job gives the impression of a simple and intentionally humble person, nevertheless deeply persuaded that his mission to advise and teach others is from God. Yet there is an inclination to condemn others, and to an apparent arrogance. He first describes himself as "full of matter." This looks like vanity, but it need not be. There is an intuitive consciousness of inspiration in the minds of some men, and those often are the young, which seems to point them out as men to do a work for God, or the advancement of souls, in their own day. The power that urges them within is one they cannot resist. It is the teaching and influence of God. Many a youth is conscious of some such energy, and, being conscious of it, can neither resist the consciousness, nor hinder the expression of the power. Society usually condemns such men, though men often have to endorse their work in after days. Such an one Elihu seems to have been. It was not the possession of the power to see truth unseen by others which was his fault; nor was it the consciousness that he possessed it; but the presuming on the power, to offend against the laws of humility and modesty, and the thrusting forward the consciousness of his ability in such a way as to contemn and despise others, or to give to others the impression that they are despised and neglected.
2. Elihu opens his speech with a warm protest in favour of the fairness of God's dealings, and against the complaints set up by Job assailing the inequality of providence. He shows that there is an end and object in God's dealings with man through sorrow and chastisement. He dwells on the perfection of His character. He then proceeds to show the power and omniscience of God. His complaint against Job is, not only that he has actually done wrong, but that his arguments are of a kind to fortify the wicked, and to strengthen the position of God's enemies. He concludes his remonstrance in the magnificent language of chapter 37, in which he sets forth the greatness of the works of creation. He is offended at Job's deviation from the recognised paths of simple religion into the more devious and intricate ones of a somewhat metaphysical search into the causes of apparent contradictions.
3. The two conditions of mind are best seen in contrast. We often do see them so in life. The following classes of men are frequent and familiar to our mind. There is a man who sincerely serves and loves God. He has no hesitation as to his faith in His love, his choice and his intense desire; nevertheless, his mind is one which surveys and weighs everything. It sees the inequality of the law of God, if only the superficial view be taken; he goes down lower, and strives to find some firm basis founded on the moral sense, and the deeper condition of the progress of society. This man accepts and defends the discoveries of science; he is not startled at seeming contradictions. Such was Job. Elihu did not understand the man of keenly inquiring mind, agitated, as Job was, about the causes of things. There are two classes of men among us; those who reach the end of faith through the gallery of inquiry, and those who rest in it from the beginning, and would shudder at having to ask the question which they consider already finally rocked to sleep in the cradle of unsuspecting and Unhesitating trust.
4. Elihu suggests to Job the various modes of God's visitations and dealings with men. Elihu expresses some surprise that Job should not more easily and heartily acquiesce in the justice of God's dealings, without inquiring and searching so deeply into God's actions and motives. So many men of Elihu's kind are surprised at the difficulty which deeper minds feel. He first objects to Job finding fault with God for giving him trouble, as if he had any right to object to the ways and laws of Him who made him. He tries to convince Job of the close connection between cause and effect in God's dealing with His people, of the reality of His intentions in every act of trial or humiliation to draw the soul of man out of some snare of Satan, some pit of destruction, and to bring him near Himself. Elihu's complaint against Job is, that he does not feel all this. He hesitates about this manifest connection between cause and effect; he searches more anxiously, decides more hesitatingly, and takes courage more cautiously. He searches into grounds and causes. Another man under a strong impression that some line of action is a duty, expects everything will guide him with regard to it; sees everything through that atmosphere, possessed in soul of one time, imagines everything he hears is a note which tends to recall it. See how each of these classes would deal with —
(1) (2) (3) (4) (E. Monro.)
(2) (3) (4) (E. Monro.)
(3) (4) (E. Monro.)
Homilist.I. RELIGIOUS CONTROVERSY ISSUING IN UTTER FAILURE. Long was the controversy of Job and his three friends; hot was their spirit, and varied the arguments employed on both sides. But what was the result? Neither party was convinced. Polemics have proved the greatest hindrance and the greatest curse to the cause of truth. "Disagreement," says F.W. Robertson, "is refreshing when two men lovingly desire to compare their views, to find out truth. Controversy is wretched when it is an attempt to prove one another wrong. Therefore Christ would not argue with Pilate. Religious controversy does only harm. It destroys the humble inquiry after truth; it throws all the energies into an attempt to prove ourselves right. In that disparaging spirit no man gets at truth. 'The meek will He grade in judgment.' The only effective way to clear the atmosphere of religious errors, is to stir it with the breath and brighten it with the beams of Divine truth. Bring out the truth, regardless of men's opinions."
II. INDIGNATION TOWARDS MEN SPRINGING FROM ZEAL TO GOD. "Then was kindled the wrath of Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, of the kindred of Ram: against Job was his wrath kindled, because he justified himself rather than God. Also against his three friends was his wrath kindled." Men hating their fellow creatures because their opinions concerning God tally not with their own. How arrogant is this! It is the regarding our own views as the infallible truth; and what is this but the spirit of Popery?
2. How impious is this! A zeal for God which kindles indignation to men, is a false zeal — a zeal abhorrent to the Divine nature.
3. How inhuman is this! Can anything be more inhuman than to be indignant with a man simply because his opinions are not in agreement with our own?
III. REVERENCE FOR AGE RESTRAINING THE SPEECH OF YOUTH. "I am young, and ye are very old; wherefore I was afraid, and durst not show you mine opinion. I said, Days should speak, and multitude of years should teach wisdom." Here this young man appears in an aspect most becoming and commendable. He shows —
1. A sense of his theological inferiority arising from his youthhood.
2. A deference for the judgment of his seniors. "I said, Days should speak." Age gives a man great advantage in judging things. "The aged," says a modern writer, "have had an opportunity of long observation. They have conversed much with men. They have seen the results of certain courses of conduct, and they have arrived at a period of life when they can look at the reality of things, and are uninfluenced now by passion. Returning respect for the sentiments of the aged, attention to their counsels, veneration for their persons, and deference for them when they speak, would be an indication of advancement in society in modern times; and there is scarcely anything in which we have deteriorated from the simplicity of early ages, or in which we fall behind the Oriental world, so much as in the want of this."
Days should speak.
I. YESTERDAY SPEAKS. It says, "Learn of me." To learn from the experience of the past is one of our prime duties. What is learned by experience is best understood: is best remembered; and is most practical in its influence.
II. TODAY SPEAKS. It says, "Use me. Turn me and my gifts to good account." Make prompt use of opportunity.
III. TOMORROW SPEAKS. It says, "Let me alone. Leave me. Trust me with God. Do not anticipate me." Wise and kindly message! Four considerations show this. Today has quite enough cares. Anxiety will not help us to bear tomorrow's cares. Christ is Lord of tomorrow. And tomorrow may be quite different from what we expect.
(W. R. Stevenson, B. A.)
(J. O. Keen, D. D.)
I. TIME UNFOLDS THE PLAN OF OUR LIFE. Our curiosity often prompts us to desire a present knowledge of future events. Would we understand them if revealed? You put an arithmetic book in the hand of a child, and say, In this book you will find Practice, Proportion, Fractions, Interest, etc. The child turns the leaves over from beginning to end, but as yet he has not learnt numeration. The book is of no use, although it contains the arithmetician's wisdom. So, did we see the end from the beginning, we should be no wiser. God has kept the other pages of the Book till we have learnt the first; the others are not soiled.
1. Human life is ordered of God. He orders our steps. He girded Cyrus for his work, although he knew it not. It is impossible to realise and value life if this view is not taken of it. Its sacred origin and its Divine organisation constitute the basis of belief.
2. Human life is gradually unfolded. Because it is Divine it is mysterious. All God's works have passed through time. Matter and events must ever turn in cycles. God alone is immovable. "I, the Lord, change not."
II. TIME UNFOLDS OUR CAPACITIES FOR LIFE. Growth is a characteristic of life; change, that of inanimate nature.
1. Man becomes an intelligent being by the exercise of time. There are activities which tend both to reveal that which we ought to know, and enlarge our capacity for knowing it. It is a two-fold process. Unexercised brains are dwarfs. Minds which are exercised about that which pleases them, and are made their hobby, grow like the willow — very long, but very weak.
2. Man becomes a moral being by considering time. Life moves on gradually, like a panorama, that we may observe its motions, and know the purposes of God in them. We learn the nature of actions by the exercise of the intuitive faculty, as actions reveal themselves. Morality and accountability are unfolded by degrees.
3. Man becomes a social being by the enjoyment of time. We have a capacity for enjoyment, and life has blessings to exercise that capacity. Every period of life has its charms.
III. TIME UNFOLDS THE GREAT PURPOSES OF LIFE.
1. The development of true manhood. Man is God's ideal creature. All others am steps up to man. Evolution is the gradual unfolding in creation of the final embodiment of matter and life.
2. The unity of the various parts. There is a period when we shall not look upon life as atoms separated from their kindred, or contradictions, but a whole, with all its parts fitly put together, and all things working for our good.
(T. Davies, M. A.)
The Study.I. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK OF US.
1. It speaks of sins committed. Spectres seem to come up from the dark arches of the past, and confront us at every turn. They tell of sins of omission and sins of commission; they speak of failures here and errors there. The past is dark, and few can look it in the face without a blush.
2. It speaks of privileges abused. The means of grace neglected — prayer restrained — the Gospel declined.
3. It speaks of opportunities neglected.
(1) (2) II. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK TO US. 1. It should speak to us of the frailty of human life. 2. It should speak to us of the shortness of time. 3. It should speak to us of the future recompense of the saints, and punishment of the ungodly. The voice of the past says: "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption," etc. III. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK IN US AND IMPRESS OUR MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN REGARD TO OUR PERSONAL OBLIGATIONS. 1. It should teach us to develop a spirit of gratitude. "O praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever," is the language as well of the thoughtful intelligent Christian as the emphatic utterance of revelation. 2. It should preach to us the part of our personal responsibility to ourselves; to our families; to the Church; to the world. 3. It should teach us greater fidelity to God. 4. It should inspire us with a Divine earnestness. Conclusion — Meditate on the past. Mourn over its sins and its failures. Seek to improve upon it. Ask Divine aid in order that you may succeed. (The Study.)
(2) II. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK TO US. 1. It should speak to us of the frailty of human life. 2. It should speak to us of the shortness of time. 3. It should speak to us of the future recompense of the saints, and punishment of the ungodly. The voice of the past says: "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption," etc. III. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK IN US AND IMPRESS OUR MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN REGARD TO OUR PERSONAL OBLIGATIONS. 1. It should teach us to develop a spirit of gratitude. "O praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever," is the language as well of the thoughtful intelligent Christian as the emphatic utterance of revelation. 2. It should preach to us the part of our personal responsibility to ourselves; to our families; to the Church; to the world. 3. It should teach us greater fidelity to God. 4. It should inspire us with a Divine earnestness. Conclusion — Meditate on the past. Mourn over its sins and its failures. Seek to improve upon it. Ask Divine aid in order that you may succeed. (The Study.)
II. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK TO US.
1. It should speak to us of the frailty of human life.
2. It should speak to us of the shortness of time.
3. It should speak to us of the future recompense of the saints, and punishment of the ungodly. The voice of the past says: "He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption," etc.
III. THE PAST SHOULD SPEAK IN US AND IMPRESS OUR MORAL CONSCIOUSNESS IN REGARD TO OUR PERSONAL OBLIGATIONS.
1. It should teach us to develop a spirit of gratitude. "O praise the Lord, for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever," is the language as well of the thoughtful intelligent Christian as the emphatic utterance of revelation.
2. It should preach to us the part of our personal responsibility to ourselves; to our families; to the Church; to the world.
3. It should teach us greater fidelity to God.
4. It should inspire us with a Divine earnestness. Conclusion — Meditate on the past. Mourn over its sins and its failures. Seek to improve upon it. Ask Divine aid in order that you may succeed.
Homilist.I. A DISTINGUISHING FACULTY IN HUMAN NATURE. Of all the creatures on this earth man alone has the power of deriving instruction from the experience of others. We have no reason to believe that the birds of heaven or the beasts of the field derive one particle of information from any of their ancestors through the ages that are gone.
1. The faculty connects all generations together in a mental unity.
2. This faculty explains the gradual advancement of the world in intelligence. Every age builds up a fresh layer Of general intelligence, on which the next steps up and works, and thus the generations are ever climbing the hill of knowledge.
3. This faculty increases the moral responsibility of the world. On us the ends of ages are come.
II. A SAD PERVERSITY IN HUMAN NATURE. In secular matters we are constantly learning from the experience of our ancestors, We avail ourselves of their discoveries. But in moral and spiritual matters we are slow to learn. Ancestral experience teaches us lessons on spiritual subjects not only in the general historical works of the world, but especially in the Bible. The Bible for the most part is a record of man's experience in relation to the higher and more solemn relations of being.
But there is a spirit in man.
1. Note man's power of progress, as manifested both individually and collectively. The swallow builds as good a nest the first spring of his life as he will ever build. But man's antecedents and surroundings do not furnish the first elements for calculating his orbit, which may intersect the outermost circle of the material system to which he belongs, and stretch on unto the unmapped region beyond, as the comet wings its flight into depths of space remoter than the planet's round. Man, also, alone of all animals, grows collectively, and from generation to generation. Each generation of men mounts on the shoulders of that which preceded it. Facts are epitomised into principles! knowledge is condensed into general truths, and the acquisitions of a thousand years are carried by the child from the primary school. There is no physical peculiarity in man that can account for this power of progress. Is it ascribed to speech? The human hand cannot account for man's progress. Man's power of progress is due to causes wholly unconnected with his physical development, and with the possibility of material consciousness. We have no proof that other animals have any knowledge, except that which comes to them immediately through the senses. They evince no apprehension of principles, of multitudinous, comprehensive facts, of general truths. Man's superiority consists in his capacity for super-sensual ideas, and these cannot be elaborated by any conceivable material apparatus. Man with his mental vision sees a class or a law as distinctly as the eye discerns an individual object; and still further, by higher stages of abstraction and generalisation, he resolves clusters of classes into more comprehensive classes, fascicles of laws into single laws of a broader scope, till in every department he seizes upon some one unifying principle under which all the classes may be grouped, or to which all the laws may be referred. He then, from these principles, deduces inferences which the senses never could have discovered. And man's entire imaginative apparatus is super-sensual.
2. The phenomena of man's moral nature cannot be derived from his material organisation. Of all beings on the earth, man alone cognises the distinction between right and wrong. The first question in ethics, whether theoretical or practical, concerns the nature of moral distinctions — the essential difference between right and wrong. Material philosophers see the origin of this distinction in the differing sensations of pleasure and pain; and that conscience results solely from the observation of what is approved and what disapproved. But materialism cannot account for either a man's moral or a man's religious nature. We conclude that natural science cannot detach man's hold upon the ancestral tree which traces his parentage from God. In Jesus Christ Himself we find the strongest of all arguments against the theory of material evolution as applicable to the higher portion of man's nature.
(A. P. Peabody, D. D.)
spirit-ing of the Almighty giveth them understanding." The spirit in man is that special apartment of his nature which has been contrived and fitted for personal intercourse between him and God. The spirit in man is to the great inbreathing of God what the lungs are to the circumambient air. It is the element of our being that establishes in us religious possibilities. "There is a spirit in man," and like every other instinct of our being, it stands to us authoritatively, and lays its mandate upon us imperiously. We are religious by nature. It is just this faculty divinely wrought upon, and this string divinely played upon, that really composes the strength and tenacity of our religious convictions. The inspiration here has to do, in a purely general way, with God's own personal communication of Himself to us, and, at the spirit point of our being, imparting unto us the energies of His own wisdom, holiness, and power. It is not our concern to understand how this is done. The first office work of inspiration is to create in us fresh personal vigour and new spiritual animation. Character cannot be constructed. It cannot be put together. It needs first of all a principle that is animated, and one, therefore, that is animating. It was an impulse more glowing, determined, and passionate than anything we are possessed of naturally. We need nothing so much as a determining life force at the core of character, an impulse from out the very soul of God, that shall hold us in its warm, steady, and irresistible grip, and impel us with a momentum that has the very pressure of Jehovah in it. And all of this is a draft upon the Divine inspiration. This may seem to be what theologians call "regeneration." The new man, the new life, is only another name for character wrought out at the determining impulse of a Divine inspiration. What we need first of all is not to act like Christ, but to have exactly the same Divine Spirit working at the core of our lives that worked at the core of His, and then acts will take care of themselves. All true manliness grows around a core of divineness. Virtue is safe only when it is inspired. Another office work of inspiration is to create in us fresh and vivid perceptions of the Divine truth. We need as much inspiration to read the Bible as its authors needed to fit them to write it. No Christian creed is ever constructed. It is the form in which a man shapes his own experiences of the things of God, and of his own soul. As we go on to know the Lord, our creeds will change. Christian thinking will continue growing better, deeper, truer, so long as Christians, along the luminous path of God's self-revelation to them, continue getting into the deeper things of God and the closer intimacies of God. And further, the inspirations of the Almighty are suited to become to us qualification for all kinds of holy doing. We make toilsome work of being good, because we do not let the inspirations of God work in us: and we make irksome work of doing good because we do not let the inspirations of God work through us...Our common and comprehensive need is of the inspiration of the Almighty, the direct breathing into us of the breath of God, with all the wisdom, holiness, and power which such a Divine afflatus involves, that whether we speak, be it by word or act, we may speak as the oracles of God; and whether we minister, we may do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Christ Jesus.
(Charles H. Parkhurst, D. D.)
1. As a rational being. How are we otherwise to account for that superiority which man has acquired over all the other inhabitants of this world? In the lowest conditions of human society there is always a marked preeminence in man over the other animals. In man there are at all times signs of a mind possessing in some degree a creative and inventive energy. The effects of this power in man are by no means small and insignificant. While he is yet remote from what we call civilisation, the native grandeur of the human mind shows itself in bold exertions of genius; and as he proceeds in his career, man constantly discovers new resources. What is this power? Is it not what the text declares it to be, "a spirit in man, the inspiration of the Almighty"? Going on the principles of natural reason, — what, indeed, is it that produces in our minds a belief of the existence of the supreme God, but the perception that the world which we inhabit bears strong indications of design and intelligence having been employed in its formation? Our connection with God is impressed on our minds by the very proofs which bring us a knowledge of His existence, and we could not know that there was such a Being unless we tried His works by the scale of our own reason.
2. The same great truth will appear if we consider man as a moral being. Other animals follow blindly the impulse of appetite. There is impressed on the mind of man a rule by which he judges himself, — a sense of right and wrong in conduct, by which he becomes conscious that he is the object either of love and esteem, or of contempt and hatred. Reflect on the very high dignity and importance of this part of our constitution; how much it elevates us above the other creatures; how close a connection it forms between us and the Almighty. How can we derive, except from God Himself, except from the spirit which He has breathed into man, any feeling of those excellencies, any love for, or any aspiration after that goodness which indisputably constitutes His own greatest attribute? Is not our relationship to the Divine nature apparent in this, that we alone, of all the creatures breathing upon earth, are capable of having any relish of those perfections which alone render God Himself the object of worship and love?
(J. Morehead, M. A.)
1. Let students pursue their inquiries with a becoming reverence for the nature to which they belong.
2. Value Christianity which has brought immortality to light.
(J. Morehead, M. A.)
Homilist.There is a spirit in man — a rational, accountable, undying personality. This spirit has been called "the world within," and truly of all worlds it is the greatest and most wonderful, Like the outward world of nature, it has its own orbit, and its own revolutions, and its own centre. Souls create their own centres. The Bible everywhere teaches the distinction between the soul and matter. This world is the greatest world.
1. It is a world whose existence is complete in itself.
2. It is a world that has a self-multiplying power.
3. It is a world conscious of its own existence.
4. It is a world that can make use of the outward.
5. It is a world that can devoutly recognise its Maker.
6. It is a world which its Maker has made extraordinary efforts to restore.
7. It is a world that can shut out its Maker.Conclusion —
(1) (2) (3) (Homilist.)
(2) (3) (Homilist.)
I also will show mine opinion.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
For I am full of matter.