Job 2:10


1. Its source. Job is now tempted by his own wile - by her who is nearest to him, and who should be almost his second self. Chrysostom asks, "Why did the devil leave him his wife?' and replies, "Because he thought her a good scourge by which to plague him more acutely than by any other means." Certainly the temptation which comes through one whom we love is the most powerful. Christ met the tempter in a favourite disciple. It is the duty of love not simply to sympathize, but also to give good counsel; it is its error only to show sympathy by aggravating the evil tendencies of a trouble.

2. Its excuse. Men have been too hard on Job's wife for this one foolish saying of hers, forgetting how huge was her affliction. Indeed, a great injustice has been done her, and while sympathy and admiration have been lavished on the husband, the partner in distress has scarcely received a glance of pity. But his troubles were her troubles. She had been in affluence, the happy mother of a happy family. Now she is plunged into poverty and misery, bereft of her children, with her once honoured husband in disease and corruption. Is it wonderful that she should utter one hasty, impatient word?

3. Its point. We cannot say that Job's wife urged him to curse God; for she my have meant, "renounce God." At all events, let him give up the struggle and commit suicide. It is the Stoic's advice. Others since have advised euthanasia in unbearable sufferings. It needed a brave heart to resist such an appeal. Only those who have been plunged into the lowest depth know the fearful inducement to despair of life and go -

"Anywhere, anywhere, out of the world."


1. Its reprimand. Job quietly tells his wife that she is talking like one of the foolish or ungodly women.

(1) There is patience in this reprimand; he does not angrily repudiate her hasty advice.

(2) It is discriminating. Job sees at ones the defect. His wife has forsaken her higher plane of living, and fallen down to conventional ideas of the world. There was this excuse for her, however, that her conduct was not without precedent, though the precedent was not worthy to be followed.

(3) It is generous. Job delicately hints that her words are unworthy of her. He implies that she is not herself one of the foolish women. Often the best and most effective reprimand is an appeal to a person's self-respect.

2. Its resignation.

(1) It recognizes God as the Source of all things. Job does not seem to be aware that Satan has a hand in his calamities. He attributes them wholly to God. Thus he fails to see one side of the dread mystery of iniquity. Yet there was truth in what he said. Nothing happens but by God's permission.

(2) It admits the justice of God's dealing. How fair is Job! And how unfair are many men in accepting boundless mercies without a thought of gratitude, and then shrieking with rage at the first twinge of adversity! If we struck the balance between our blessings and our troubles, should we not find the former vastly outweighing the latter? And if we accept the blessings from God, should we not be prepared to take the reverse of them also?

3. Its self-restraint. "In all this did not Job sin with his lips." It is uncharitable of the Targum to add, "But in his thoughts he already cherished sinful words." If thoughts of rebellion were beginning to rise - and Job was but mortal - the brave man silenced them. It is much to learn how to "be still." - W.F.A.

Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?
The inspiration of the Book of Job is sufficiently established —

(1)By internal evidence;

(2)by the testimony of the Jews;

(3)by the manner in which other inspired writers speak of him.Admiring, reverencing, and feeling for Job, the love of his example makes a strong impression, and to obtain equal resignation, equal possession of our souls in misfortune, we think that we should scarcely deprecate that ordinance which should subject us to equal affliction. Unmoved by every evil, Job declares his trust in God, and justifies his resignation in the words of the text. These words imply —

I. THAT EVERYTHING IS ORDAINED BY GOD. With the existence and with the moral government of God, Job was already well acquainted. He knew that the Omniscient Ruler was not indifferent to the affairs of men, that as there was in nature an immutable difference between good and evil, so that difference was accurately marked by the Judge of all. That Job trusted that everything was under the direction of a supreme governor is certified by many passages of this book. Natural good and evil are equally ordered by heaven. It appears a harsh doctrine to say that evil proceedeth from God; but to this expression we are forced by the poverty of language. Job means to say that the happiness and the sufferings of men proceed from the same source, — God, the Governor of all. This sentiment is more worthy of attention in Job, because he lived in a country where there was no recorded revelation of the Divine will. The sentiment is remarkable also from the situation in which it is uttered: at a time when he was reduced to the utmost distress, when even the most heroic would have sunk under such sufferings. These misfortunes might have been accounted for by the agency of man or by chance. They were not of such extra. ordinary nature as to seem at once to flow from God. Job looked to a higher source. He knew that those things called natural and moral causes are under the direction of the Almighty. Though they operate in the common course of things, yet that course is directed by the unerring hand of Providence, and the continued support of the Omnipotent Ruler. The belief of God is consonant to Scripture. In the governing of the world everything seems to happen by second causes, yet God is the director of these causes. Sometimes God may make a special interference, but God governs usually, bestows good and inflicts evil, by general laws, and not by special appointments, as the emergency of the case may require. We should acknowledge the hand of God in all His dispensations. Men are but the instruments in the hands of God for the accomplishment of His designs.

II. JOB CONSIDERED IT AS AN UNAVOIDABLE CONSEQUENCE OF OUR PRESENT STATE THAT THE LIFE OF MAN SHOULD BE CHEQUERED WITH GOOD AND EVIL. His mind seemed prepared for events of the kind that now happened. A uniform state of happiness or misery is never allotted to anyone. The virtues of a man cannot be proved, nor his latent evil inclinations detected by one uniform state.. And God chooseth to judge men, not by His own previous knowledge of them, but by the manner in which they shall conduct themselves here. In the lot of everyone, therefore, there is k mixture. Job's prosperity itself prepared the way for his misfortunes! Adversity seems to attach itself with uncommon perseverance to some individuals; and some men are distinguished by an almost continued course of one fortune. But the most prosperous meet with some adverse incidents. God is what we call a moral governor, that is, He judges the actions of men, and will deal with them according to their conduct. The complete retribution for our deeds we are to expect only in another life. And there is much wisdom in the variety of the dispensations of Providence, independently of the moral government of God. The frailty of our nature unfits us for bearing well uninterrupted prosperity or adversity.(1) Let us, then, submit with thankfulness to this form of the Divine administration, in which everything works together for wise purposes.(2) Let us not dare to blame Providence if we think our evils too severe, or do not see their immediate good tendency. What right have we to censure the administration of heaven? We have not sufficient penetration to discern what is fittest to be done in this immense government of the world, or even in the affairs of men.(3) In this mixed state of good and evil let us look forward to and prepare for that everlasting world, where we shall receive good only at the hand of God.

III. JOB WAS RESOLVED TO RECEIVE EACH STATE WITH AN EQUAL MIND. The whole of his history shows that he did so. Job's friends seem to have been impressed with the erroneous notion that God afflicts here in proportion to iniquity. They conceive Job, amidst all his protestations of integrity, to have committed some enormous crime, and to have been a consummate hypocrite. Each, then, in his turn, upbraids the unfortunate sufferer, and accounts for all his misfortunes from the justice of the Almighty. Here now shine forth the virtues of Job, and the calm equanimity of his temper. He is concerned for the honour of the Supreme Being more than for the justification of his own character. He takes their harsh language in good part.(1) Explain the nature of resignation. Distinguish the various counterfeits that may assume its appearance. The more excellent any grace is, the greater pains is taken to counterfeit it. As a pious resignation is honourable, it has often been assumed where there are no just pretensions to it. Cold insensibility has often assumed the name of resignation. Natural indolence takes this appearance. Habitual carelessness glories in driving from its thoughts the ills of the passing day. And obstinate conceit pretends to preserve an unaltered countenance. But natural temper of any kind is not virtue. Insensibility can never be acknowledged as resignation to the misfortunes of life. Job felt as his situation demanded. As want of feeling does not constitute the grace of resignation, neither is refraining from all utterance of feeling an essential part of it: The feelings of the heart have a natural language. It is the business of religion not to suppress but to correct the feelings of man. Resignation does not preclude endeavours for relief. Religion does not command us to sustain a burden from which exertion may deliver us. It is the duty of man to render his situation as comfortable as circumstances permit. Resignation permits us to feel as nature dictates, but restrains our sorrows within due bounds.(2) Considerations which should lead to the practice of resignation. It is the Lord who doth afflict. Affliction, generally viewed, is the consequence of sin. Blessings are accumulated in the lot of man. We often mistake the real nature of what are called evils. They tend to produce good effects. And Christ, our Lord, bore with perfect resignation evils and afflictions of the most severe nature. A due consideration of these points may, through God's blessing, lead us to the state of mind which Job obtained.

(L. Adamson.)

The attitude of Job toward life is at this point heroic, and his speech is one of the great heroic speeches of the world. We shall perhaps apprehend his thought better if for the words "good and evil" we substitute fortune and misfortune, happiness and sorrow. Happiness always seems good to us; sorrow always seems evil. Job has been happy beyond the average lot: fortune has attended him, things have gone well with him, and all that he has done has prospered. What is fortune? It is some nameless intangible force that sides with us, that puts what we want in our way, and that instructs us how to seize the opportunity of success; for the most egoistic of us is, after all, dimly conscious that many things happen to him without his seeking. What is misfortune? It is this same mysterious power ranged against us, and no longer our ally, but our enemy. Without any action on our part, any deviation from the righteousness and moral order of our lives, all things begin to be against us. If we had blasphemed and lost faith in rectitude, if we had been foolish, indolent, or vicious, we could understand it; but we have done and been none of these things. If Job could say, "I deserve this because I did so and so," it would greatly simplify the position; at all events, it would relieve the soul of that most intolerable of all suspicions, that God has blundered. But Job is too honest a man to admit a wrong he has not committed; simply because he is an upright man, he must be upright towards himself as well as towards God. So, then, he is driven to a diviner philosophy. Shall we receive happiness and fortune from the hands of God, and not sorrow and misfortune? Is it not the same power that makes things work for us, and work against us? Is there not something in the very order of life which ensures that every man has his just proportion of bitterness measured out to him, because without that tonic drop of bitterness in the cup the wine of life would corrupt by its own sweetness, and happiness become our worst disaster? That is the thought of Job, and it is a great and memorable thought. Now let us try to analyse this thought: not so much from the intellectual side as from the spiritual and the human.

1. The first thing that Job feels is that happiness and sorrow, fortune and misfortune, are equally of God; and simple as such a thought sounds, it is really the profoundest that the mind of man can conceive. To begin with, it puts an end to the popular conception of the devil, and to all those religious systems of theology which are based upon the antagonism of the Divine and the diabolical spirit. Thus, for example, the main doctrine in the religion of Persia is the presence of two great spirits in the world, the one of light, the other of darkness, who contend for the mastery of man and of the world. Man is seized by each in turn, is blessed and cursed, is comforted and menaced; for the good spirit does nothing but good, and the evil nothing but evil. Thus the world is ruled by a divided deity, and the one work of God is evermore to checkmate and undo the work of the devil. So far as English theology goes, John Milton and John Bunyan invented the devil between them; and their view of the world is practically the view of the Persian. But now turn to the Book of Job, and what do you find? In the great prologue to the drama, Satan appears indeed; but it is as the chained and impotent antagonist of God. He can do Job no harm without a Divine permission. The devil of Milton, who wages war against the Highest, and all but triumphs, would have been to the writer of this great drama an absolutely impious conception. The devil of the popular imagination, who torments man when God is not looking, and works evil in the world in spite of the goodness of God, would have been an equally impious and intolerable conception. Better were it to have no God than a God who reigns but does not govern; who does good as far as He can, but finds that good forever undone by a power of evil over whom He has no control. No, says Job, darkness and light both belong to God, and to Him the darkness is as the light. There is but one Ruler of the universe.

2. The second stage of Job's thought is, that it would be equally insensate and selfish to expect only fortune and happiness, and never sorrow or misfortune, in our lives. And why? Because misfortune happens to others, and we see that in some way or other sorrow is part of the human lot. Had Job never known searchings of heart on this very subject during the long day of his prosperity? Is there any man who can avoid sometimes wondering why things go so well with him and so ill with others? Does not the happy man sometimes feel as though he had cheated in the great game of life, and in escaping sorrow had evaded something of the burden of existence which all ought to bear according to their strength? We all remember the exquisite story of the renunciation of Buddha: how he sees the leper by the wayside, the old man tottering on the dusty road, the corpse carried out to burial, and asks, "Is life always like this?" and then goes back with sad eyes to his palace, and a voice in his soul which tells him he has no right to enjoy only when there is so much to endure. And we remember also how that thought worked in his gracious and tender heart until he felt that he could not fulfil his destiny unless he also sorrowed; that not to sorrow was not to share the true brotherhood of the world: and so he goes forth in the dead of night, and rides far and fast, till he comes to the forest solitude, where he puts aside his kingship and becomes only a man, a beggar with the beggar, an outcast with the outcast. It was so Chat Job felt in this first shock of his calamity. He had received good through such long years: should he complain now that he received evil? He had received good; let him now show that happiness had not corrupted him, by at least having the grace of gratitude, and learning to say with reverence and resignation, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

3. One thing at least is certain, and it is a thing that Job deeply feels in this hour: that whatever part happiness may play in our lives, sorrow is necessary for us, as a factor in our moral development. Let us be sure of it — it does not do for us to be too happy. Few of us can carry the full cup without spilling it. Even those who have the finest natural endowment of tenderness and sentiment are apt to grow proud, hard, callous, indifferent to suffering, careless of the deeper poetry of life and the higher visions of the spirit,, when happiness knows no admixture of sorrow. But who has not felt his heart strangely softened in the hour of loss? Who has not found himself looking on the world with gentler and more pitiful glances after having looked into the eves of death? The evidence of this real need of sorrow in human life is seen in the fact that all the great lives of the world have been the tried lives. The names that thrill us, the histories that inspire our virtue, the episodes of heroism that gladden us and exalt us, are all linked in some way with suffering. There is, in fact, nothing in mere happiness that is exalting or inspiring. There is no more uninteresting person in the world than the person who has uniformly succeeded in life. We would rather have died with Gordon in the Soudan than have made a fortune out of nitrates; have done the work that Livingstone or Moffat did, than have "fed on the lilies and lain on the roses" of life with the luckiest millionaire who never knew a want unsatisfied or a calamity that could not be averted. Some acquaintance with sorrow is absolutely necessary to modify the corrupting effect of too uniform a happiness. The great lives have usually been lives that were greatly tried, and herein is their fascination; the greatest men have always been those who know the use of sorrow, and have learned to say: What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? Do we find it hard to say this? Do we who call ourselves Christians find it hard? I do not say that it is, or ever can be, easy; but if we are indeed Christians we shall not fail in grace to say it, For what commentary on the words of Job is there so penetrating or complete as the story of Jesus? With a consciousness of perfect integrity, such as not even Job could hope to emulate, He never murmured under the worst stroke of calamity. He turned His back to the smiter, and was, as a lamb before her shearers, dumb. And His one word amid it all is an even grander word than Job's; it is — "Father, not My will, but Thine be done." And finally, in the very spirit of Job, He accuses no evil power of malice, but sees in all the tragedy something permitted by God for His own supreme and blessed ends, and knows that through the evil of men God's purpose will be done, and God's goodness find a final and complete vindication.

4. I notice, finally, then, that there are two kinds of peace possible to us: the peace of fact, and the peace of principle, The peace of fact is but another phrase for stoicism. It is in a sense the peace of nature: the natural stubborn elements in us which collect and harden themselves under misfortune, and refuse to yield. In all ages of the world this kind of peace has been possible to men. It is always possible for us to train ourselves in silence, in mute resistance to the stroke of fate, and to resist endlessly. But the higher peace is the peace of principle, and this is the peace of Christ. It is not negative, but positive. The peace of fact is the peace of Prometheus under the unjust wrath of Heaven; the peace of principle is the peace of Job, in the sense that God is good. It, is sustained by our faith in certain principles and supreme truths, the chief of which is the unbounded goodness and unerring wisdom of God. It is the peace of conquest; the peace of inner vision; the peace of justified and resolute hope.

(W. J. Dawson.)

Things that are evil in our estimation may be the appointment of the only wise God. Many such things do occur in human life. and to reconcile our minds to these is one great object, and one of the happiest effects of religion. The thought suggested by the text, that we receive many blessings from that God who sees fit at times to visit us with distress, is happily adapted to effect these ends.

I. THE BLESSINGS WHICH GOD HAS CONFERRED UPON ITS ARE FAR MORE NUMEROUS THAN THE PAINFUL EVENTS WHICH HE MAY HAVE PERMITTED TO BEFALL US. Recall the blessings of existence, that honourable rank which we hold among the creatures. Remember His parental care. And let us not forget His most precious benefits which respect our more important and eternal concerns, — the provision He has made for our instruction, improvement, spiritual comfort, and everlasting happiness. Now number up all the evils you have experienced through life. Do they not in a manner disappear amid these so countless blessings? Man is indeed born to trouble. A material frame and an imperfect state, our own irregular passions or the passions of others, must necessarily be sources of many evils. But how few of these fall to the lot of any one individual.

II. THE GOOD WE HAVE RECEIVED IS UNSPEAKABLY GREAT AND IMPORTANT; THE EVILS WE HAVE SUFFERED ARE COMPARATIVELY BUT LIGHT AND INCONSIDERABLE. How precious are the gifts of reason, of memory, of judgment. How excellent the feelings and affections of the heart. Still more valuable are our spiritual blessings. Compared with all these in point of real weight and importance, what are all the ills which we now experience? They reach only to our mortal nature, and are confined to the period of the present life. What has been the amount of the evils which you have received from the hand of God? He may have deprived you of this world's goods; or removed from you tender and affectionate friends; or visited you with bodily distress and pain. If God has continued to us blessings of the highest value, dare we repine if He mingle them with light afflictions which only lesson some of the enjoyments of a present state?

III. GOD'S GOODNESS IS UNCEASING AND UNINTERRUPTED; ANY EVILS WHICH HE SENDS ARE OCCASIONAL AND TEMPORARY. A continued exertion of power and goodness preserves us in being, God unceasingly furnishes the means of life. Every moment of our lives we taste and see of the goodness of God. But is it in this manner that God hath dispensed His judgments and afflictions? It is but occasionally that we feel God's chastening hand. And suffering is seldom of long duration.

IV. THE GOOD WE RECEIVE FROM THE HAND OF GOD IS ALTOGETHER UNMERITED; THE EVILS WE EXPERIENCE ARE WHAT WE JUSTLY DESERVE. Always unprofitable, too often ungrateful, in many instances disobedient and rebellious, we cannot imagine a claim we should have to the goodness of God. Yet amid all this unworthiness and demerit, innumerable and inestimable blessings have been conferred upon us. Recall the evils which we have experienced through life, and say whether they are not the appointments of perfect righteousness, and upon the whole far less severe than we deserve. May we not frequently trace those of which we most loudly complain to our own folly and perverseness? And do not our human frailties justify God if He were pleased to send even severer evils than any we have experienced? The consideration of the good which we receive should not merely silence the murmurs of discontent, it should reconcile our minds to the afflicting dispensations of His providence. God's goodness gives us a just view of His character, and lays a foundation for trust and confidence in Him. If that God who has given us such unquestionable proofs of His goodness sees fit to visit us with evil, it must be with a kind and benevolent design — for some gracious and important end. Whatever distress may be allotted to us, or in what trying situations we may be placed, yet His goodness, His loving kindness are still exercised towards us. Shall our feelings and affections towards God be regulated by some rare acts of His providence towards us, rather than by His long-continued uniform conduct? This surely would be most unreasonable.

(Robert Bogg, D. D.)

Experience will convince us that unmixed happiness was never intended to be the portion of man in his present state. The good and evil of life are so intimately connected together that while we pursue the one we often unavoidably meet with the other. There is no condition of life but has its own troubles and inconveniences. Neither the virtuous nor the wise, the learned nor the prudent, in their pilgrimage through life, can altogether avoid those rocks which often prove so fatal to the peace of the mind. Pain, in a certain proportion, is always infused as an essential ingredient in the cup of which it is appointed for all men to drink. A general conviction of the wisdom and goodness of Providence ought, in some measure, to reconcile us to the hardships and miseries to which we are subjected while We continue in this life. But our persuasion of the rectitude of God does not rest merely on general principles. Our reason, assisted by revelation, is able to discover several wise purposes that are answered most effectually by the present mixture of good and evil in the world. It calls forth the faculties of the mind into action, and obliges men to shake off those habits of indolence and inactivity that are so fatal to the further improvement of the soul. To the happiness of man, as a reasonable being, it is necessary that his several faculties be all duly exercised on objects suited to the peculiar state of each. Only a world of difficulties and inconveniences would furnish employment for all our powers. There is in every man a natural principle of indolence, which renders him averse to exertions of every kind, but particularly to those of thought and reflection. Uninterrupted prosperity tends to increase this natural indolence. Inconveniences serve to quicken our invention, and to excite our industry, in discovering by what means we may most effectually remedy these inconveniences.

I. THE EVILS OF LIFE OPEN OUR EYES AND MAKE US SENSIBLE OF REAL WANTS. They constrain us to collect all our strength, and to summon up all our resolution to withstand. Losses and disappointments rouse men to greater diligence and assiduity. Difficulties serve to form our souls to habits of attention, of diligence, and activity. Obstacles give a new spring to the mind. Difficulties overcome enhance the value of any acquisitions we may have made.

II. THE EVILS OF LIFE EXERCISE AND IMPROVE THE VIRTUES OF THE HEART. The world, as a state of moral discipline, would be inadequate for its purpose if all events that befall us were of one kind. The situation most favourable to the progressive improvement of the human character is a mixed state of good and evil. Prosperity gives opportunity to practise temperance and moderation in all things. Calamities are equally favourable to the interests of virtue in the human heart. They correct levity and thoughtlessness. Adversity gives a seasonable check to vain and overweening self-conceit. A patient resignation to the good pleasure of the Almighty must likewise be reckoned among the happy fruits produced by afflictions. Adversity disengages us from this life, directs our attention, and raises our views to another and a better world. We may therefore infer how much it is our duty to acquiesce in the wisdom and goodness of Providence, which has appointed the intermixture of good and evil in this probationary state of our existence.

(W. Shiels.)

A mixture of pleasure and pain, of grief and joy, of prosperity and adversity, is incident to human nature. That there is a variety of good and evil in the world, of which every man who comes into it partakes at some time or other, requires no further proof than to desire each individual to reflect on the various changes that may have taken place through his life, and then to determine for himself whether the world has always gone either smoothly or roughly with him. Some persons seem to pass through life more pleasantly than others. Some seem to meet with hard usage on all sides. Reasons for the mixture of good and evil in human lives may be given.

I. THIS LIFE IS INTENDED FOR A STATE OF PROBATION AND TRIAL. It is by the mixture which befell holy Job that we become acquainted with his true character. Had he been less under the rod of affliction at one time, or less kindly treated by the Almighty at another, he would not have proved himself that "perfect and upright man" which his behaviour in both states discovered him to be. By similar means good men in all ages of the world have been proved; the providence of God rendering their condition sometimes prosperous and sometimes grievous, as the surest way of trying their virtue and confirming their faith.

II. THE MIXTURE OF GOOD AND EVIL PREVENTS OUR BUILDING TOO MUCH ON PROSPERITY, OR SINKING TOO EASILY INTO DESPAIR ON ADVERSITY; either of which, by the certainty of their continuance, would endanger our casting off all dependence upon, and hopes from, the overruling providence of God. By the uncertainty of things here the most successful and happy persons are kept in some awe through fear of a change of condition and circumstances; whilst the most unfortunate may live in constant hope of a relief from their troubles; and both be thereby taught a due dependence on God in every state and condition of life.

III. THIS MIXTURE OF GOOD AND EVIL SETS US UPON LOOKING FORWARD TO, AND ENDEAVOURING TO OBTAIN, A MORE FIXED AND UNCHANGEABLE STATE THAN FALLS TO OUR PRESENT LOT. Were we to receive nothing but good here, there is no doubt but we should think it good for us always to be here; but by reason of the mixture of evils there are few who would not be glad to exchange a worse condition for a better. What must we do to make ourselves easy under such changing conditions? Not surely covet to return to such inconstant enjoyments as may be suddenly taken away from us; but rather strive to obtain those of a more durable nature. Reason teaches us that things perishable and subject to change are not worthy to be compared to those which are more durable, and always the same. God is pleased to afflict His greatest favourites, to make them the more earnest in their pursuits after future happiness, as well as to qualify them for the attainment of its superior degrees.

(C. Moore, D. D.)

Our use of these words is very lax. There is a sense in which it is impossible for us to receive that which is evil at the hand of God. There is a sense in which we speak of Him as one from whom all good gifts come. The terms good and evil may be absolute or they may be relative. A thing may be in itself absolutely good, whereas to me it may be relatively what seems evil. I may individually be a sufferer for that which is for the general good. On the other hand, that which is absolutely evil may be to me relatively a source of advantage. The sick rooms of the human race are the schoolrooms of compassion, and the battlefields of the world are the training grounds of heroism. Distinguish between that which is in itself intrinsically good and evil and that which is to us in our experience good and evil. On this distinction will hinge very many of our relations to God. God has placed man upon the earth in a universe that is endowed with infinite possibilities, and He has left man to find out these possibilities for himself; and man, until he found them out, has constantly injured himself through ignorance, and has frequently mistaken that which was created for his benefit and thought it a curse. Take, for example, such a power as electricity. What were the thoughts of generations now long buried when they watched the summer sky blazing with fire, or stood by the blackened ruins of some stricken homestead? Did they dream then, in their ignorance, that this same force should one day flash intelligence from pole to pole, and carry a faint whisper upon its docile current? Did it not seem to them then, nothing but pure beauty, nothing but cruel violence? Does it not seem to us now, infinite wisdom? Man has to learn the use of the weapons in the armoury of God, and until he has learnt their use he does not know what they are, he misapplies them, and oftentimes injures himself, then rebels and calls out against God's cruelty. The wise man — that is, the religious man — arguing from what he knows to what he does not know, believes that the wisdom and goodness of God will soon shine out clear in the light of later knowledge. God could only have made man as He has made him, a child in the eternal years, and placed him in the midst of laws and forces and powers the use of each and all to be learned by experience.

(W. Covington, M. A.)

The story of Job shows —

1. The instability of all human affairs, the uncertainty of all earthly possession.

2. That the best of men may be the most afflicted. Afflictions are no certain proof of the Divine displeasure nor that the afflicted are unrighteous persons.

3. That however God, for wise and gracious purposes, may afflict His servants, He will not forsake them in their afflictions, but will make the most painful events work for their good, and terminate in their happiness. Everything shows the present life to be, not a state of uninterrupted enjoyment, but of trial and discipline; a mixed scene, in which pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, prosperity and adversity, are intermingled. And the Scriptures teach those sentiments, and exhibit those examples of suffering virtue, which are calculated to afford the good man support and comfort under all the trials and afflictions of life. Our text supposes that evil as well as good comes from the hand of God, and that we ought to receive, or accept, the one at His hand as well as the other.

I. SHOW THAT EVIL AS WELL AS GOOD COMES FROM THE HAND OF GOD. That second causes operate in producing the evils that take place, and that creatures are the instruments of them, is no reason why they should not be considered as coming from the hands of God. The government of God is carried on, and His designs are accomplished, by the agency of second causes. When we speak of second causes, a prior cause is always supposed, on whom they are dependent, and to whom they are subservient. In other parts of Scripture evil as well as good is declared to come from the Divine hand (Judges 2:15; 2 Samuel 12:11; 1 Kings 9:9; 2 Kings 6:33; Nehemiah 13:18; Isaiah 14:7; Jeremiah 4:6; Amos 3:6; Micah 1:12, etc.). All things, evil as well as good, are under the government of God. By evil is meant whatever is painful; by good, whatever is pleasurable. Sin, what is called moral evil, cannot exist in God, nor proceed from Him. Actions are righteous or wicked according to the views and motives of the actor. Sin exists only in the creature, and proceeds entirely from the creature: it consists in what is contrary to the will of God. It is denominated evil because it is painful and bitter in its effects. God has so constituted man, and connected causes and effects in the moral world, that whatever is morally wrong is productive of pain and misery. His wisdom and goodness in this constitution of things is manifest.


1. Everything is under the direction of a Being who is infinitely wise, powerful, and good. He is too wise and just and good and merciful to allot any more pains and sufferings to any of His creatures than are merciful.

2. Some measure of evil seems to be necessary in the present state of man for his discipline and improvement, and to prepare him for higher enjoyment. The present life is the mere infancy of our existence. Our Father allots to us, not what is most gratifying, but what will best promote our improvement. Evil is included in the means which God employs in training up His children for immortality and glory. The greatest characters have been formed in the school of adversity. Man is formed to be the child and pupil of experience, to gain knowledge from practice, to become virtuous and happy by the free exercise of the powers God has given him, and so evil seems unavoidable until, instructed by experience, man chooses only good, and is prepared for the full enjoyment of it.

3. At the hand of God we are continually receiving much good. Whatever evils we experience, enjoyment preponderates. The ordinary course of things is a state of enjoyment, of which evil is an infraction. The evils we lament are but an abatement of the good we receive; therefore it is right that we should be always resigned and thankful. Much of the evil man feels he creates to himself by his unreasonable desires and improper views and sentiments.

4. Strictly speaking, nothing is evil as it comes from the hand of God. We call it evil because it occasions us pain and suffering. Under the government of God there is no absolute evil. Evil is partial and temporary; its extent is limited; it had a beginning, and will end in universal happiness.

5. Observation and experience may teach us that, in many instances, God hath made evil productive of good. See the stories of Job, and of Jacob.

6. As God has made some of the greatest evils productive of good, it is rational to conclude that He will make all evil subservient to and productive of good. This conclusion naturally arises from just views of His character, perfections, and government. Learn, then, to look above creatures, to look through all second causes; to see God in all things, and all in God. Let us be always resigned to His will, put our whole confidence in Him, and be entirely devoted to Him. Let us look forward to the happy time when evil shall be no more; but life and peace and joy and happiness shall be universal and eternal.


Under the distresses of human life, religion performs two offices: it teaches us how we ought to bear them; and it assists us in thus bearing them. Three instructions naturally arise from the text.

I. THIS LIFE IS A MIXED STATE OF GOOD AND EVIL. This is a matter of fact. No condition is altogether stable. But the bulk of mankind discover as much confidence in prosperity, and as much impatience under the least reverse, as if providence had first given them assurance that their prosperity was never to change, and afterwards had cheated their hopes. What reason teaches is to adjust our mind to the mixed state in which we find ourselves placed; never to presume, never to despair; to be thankful for the goods which at present we enjoy, and to expect the evils that may succeed.

II. BOTH THE GOODS AND THE EVILS COME FROM THE HAND OF GOD. In God's world, neither good nor evil can happen by chance. He who governs all things must govern the least things as well as the greatest. How it comes to pass that life contains such a mixture of goods and evils, and this by God's appointment, gives rise to a difficult inquiry. Revelation informs us that the mixture of evils in man's estate is owing to man himself. His apostasy and corruption opened the gates of the tabernacle of darkness, and misery issued forth. The text indicates the effect that will follow from imitating the example of Job, and referring to the hand of the Almighty the evils which we suffer, as well as the goods which we enjoy. To dwell upon the instruments and subordinate means of our trouble is frequently the cause of much grief and much sin. When we view our sufferings as proceeding merely from our fellow creatures, the part which they have acted in bringing them upon us, is often more grating than the suffering itself. Whereas if, instead of looking to men, we beheld the cross as coming from God, these aggravating circumstances would affect us less; we would feel no more than a proper burden; we would submit to it more patiently. As Job received his correction from the Almighty Himself, the tumult of his mind subsided; and with respectful composure he could say, "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away," etc.


1. That the good flyings which God has bestowed afford sufficient evidence for our believing that the evils which He sends are not causelessly or wantonly afflicted. In the world which we inhabit, we behold plain marks of predominant goodness. What is the conclusion to be thence drawn, but that, in such parts of the Divine administration as appear to us harsh and severe, the same goodness continues to preside, though exercised in a hidden and mysterious manner?

2. That the good things we receive from God are undeserved, the evils we suffer are justly merited. All, it is true, have not deserved evil equally. Yet all of us deserve it more or less. Not only all of us have done evil, but God has a just title to punish us for it. When He thinks proper to take our good things away, no wrong is done to us. To have enjoyed them so long was a favour.

3. The good things which at different times we have received and enjoyed are much greater than the evils which we suffer. Of this fact it may be difficult to persuade the afflicted. Think how many blessings, of different sorts, you have tasted. Surely more materials of thanksgiving present themselves than of lamentation and complaint.

4. The evils which we suffer are seldom, or never, without some mixture of good. As there is no condition on earth of pure, unmixed felicity, so there is none so miserable as to be destitute of every comfort. Many of our calamities are purely imaginary and self-created; arising from rivalship or competition with others. With respect to calamities inflicted by God, His providence has made this merciful constitution that, after the first shock, the burden by degrees is lightened.

5. We have even reason to believe that the evils themselves are, in many respects, good. When borne with patience and dignity, they improve and ennoble our character. They bring into exercise several of the manly and heroic virtues; and by the constancy and fidelity with which we support our trials on earth, prepare us for the highest rewards in heaven.

(Hugh Blair, D. D.)

I. THE SENTIMENT OF THIS INQUIRY. We may define evil as a something done or suffered by us which is contrary to the original purpose of God in our creation, and to the original constitution of our nature. Thus there is sin, or moral evil. There is physical evil, in the numberless infirmities, pains, and sufferings of life. All the evil which exists in the world is either sin in itself, or sin in its consequences. But though afflictions are the evidences of sin's existence, and the penalty of its commission, they. may be overruled to moral advantage. We may regard Job as proposing the inquiry, Shall we, sinful, weak, and erring mortals, who have forfeited all rights to the blessings of providence, receive only good from God, and be exempt from evils, which for our sins we most righteously deserve? Shall we have no mixture of judgment with mercy, of chastisement with favour?


1. We deserve evil. We have stoned. If we saw and felt as we ought to do, the exceeding sinfulness of sin, our inquiry would be, "Shall we receive any good at the hand of God?"

2. We often incur evil by our own conduct. The courses which multitudes pursue bring sorrow and disaster, disease and difficulties. How many of the miseries of mankind result altogether from sin, from vicious indulgence, from a reckless course of dissipation, or from sheer folly and imprudence! The Divine Being was not bound in justice to prevent the disordered state of man, nor to arrest its evils, when it had taken place.

3. We are in a state of probation. Trials form a test of character, a trial of principles, a sifting of motives. Afflictions are designed to promote our moral improvement.

III. THE SPIRIT OF JOB'S INQUIRY. It is the language of devout submission. It is the language of heavenly hope and lofty confidence in God. Job entertained a profound veneration for the Divine character, and a high-toned reliance upon infinite goodness and faithfulness.

(Henry H. Chettle.)

I. WHAT IS THE MEANING OF JOB'S APPEAL? The appeal relates rather to ourselves than to God. The whole connection turns upon the state of the recipient. The question turns upon ourselves. God is in no sense the author of evil. All originated with the creature. The word evil here refers to physical evil. Job is speaking of his own sufferings. The meaning and force of this appeal is seen in attending to the meaning of the word "receive." To receive is very different from to submit. Receive is usually employed in a good sense. You receive what is good. It supposes a willingness on the part of the subject, especially when the term is employed by the person himself. Shall we bless God for the good and not for the evil? Shall we not give Him credit for both?

II. ARGUMENTS LIKELY TO INDUCE THIS STATE OF MIND. Since God gives us good, when a dispensation of a seemingly different character comes, we ought to be slow to say that it is of a different character in its consequences. When trouble and suffering come, we ought to infer that it is intended for our advancement in good. All the good we have has travelled to us through an intensity of suffering; it is applied to us, and comes to us through suffering.

1. Good was procured to us through suffering. A suffering Saviour.

2. Good is applied to us through evil. If we suffer with Christ we shall be glorified with Him.

3. Good is consummated to us through evil.

(Capel Molyneux, B. A.)

I. HOW FAR WE ARE ALLOWED TO GRIEVE FOR OUR CALAMITIES: or how far grief is consistent with a state of resignation. Christianity may regulate our grief, as it does every other passion; but does not pretend to extinguish it. Ungrateful and unwelcome things will make harsh and ungrateful impressions upon us. Our sensibility, whether of joy or misery, arises in proportion to our ingenuity. A man of a coarser frame shall slight those afflictions which fall heavy upon a more refined disposition. An over-refined delicacy, however, is almost as bad an extreme, as an unfeeling stupidity. It is allowable, it is even commendable for us to feel a generous movement of soul, and to be touched with the distresses of other people. Grief may even sometimes be necessary to take off any hardness of heart, and to make it more pliant and ductile, by melting it down. If our self-feeling be the foundation of our fellow feeling, then, as soon as reason can shine out in its full strength, the virtues of humanity and tender-heartedness will spring up, as from a willing soil, in a mind prepared and softened by grief. The first starts and sallies of grief, under any calamity, are always pardonable; it is only a long and continued course of grief, when the soul refuses to be comforted, that is inexcusable. And it is most inexcusable when it bears no proportion to its real cause. Melancholy in excess is an accursed spirit. Violent tempestuous sorrows are like hurricanes; they soon spend themselves, and all is soon clear and serene again. There is more danger from a silent, pensive grief, which, like a slow lingering fog, shall continue a long time, and blot the face of nature all around. We must guard against any settled habit of grief. It is our duty to promote social happiness. Cheerfulness and inoffensive pleasantry make us agreeable to others, whereas habitual melancholy damps the good humour of society. Not to enjoy with cheerfulness the blessings which remain to us, is not to treat them as what they are, namely, blessings, and consequently matters of joy and complacency. Sorrow is criminal when we have little or nothing to torment us but, what is the greatest tormenter of all, our own uneasy spirit. They who are continually complaining of inconveniences seem incapable of relishing anything but heaven; for which a complaining temper will by no means prepare them.

II. UPON WHAT PRINCIPLES OUR RESIGNATION TO GOD IS TO BE FOUNDED. A full confidence in the Deity, Job had, that He would make the sum of his happiness, either here or hereafter, greatly exceed that of his misery. To found virtue upon the will of God, enforced by proper sanctions, is to found it upon a rock. Arguments from the unendowed beauty of virtue, and from the abstract fitnesses of things, are of too fine and delicate a texture to combat the force of the passions, or to stand the shock of adversity. The hopes of a better world can alone make this tolerable to us. We know little of a future state from the light of nature. Revelation has enlarged our views, it insures to us, what reason could never prove, a fulness of pardon upon our repentance, and an uninterrupted enjoyment of clear happiness, truth, and virtue, forever and ever. What we must feel as men, we may bear as more than men, through the grace of God.


1. Do not expect perfect happiness. That depends not upon ourselves alone, but upon a coincidence of several things which seldom hit all right.

2. If you would not be overmuch troubled at the loss of anything, take care to keep your affections disengaged. As soon as you have placed your affections too intensely beyond a certain point on anything below, from that moment you may date your misery. We lean upon earthly things with too great a stress, the consequence of which is, that, when they slip from under us, our fall is more hurtful, in proportion to the weight and stress with which we relied upon them.

3. Reflect on the advantages you have rather than be always dwelling on those you have not. Turn your thoughts to the bright side of things. Lead a life which knows no vacancy from generous sentiments, and then "the spirit of a man will sustain his infirmities." How many are more miserable than you!

4. Reflect, how reasonable it is, that our wills should be conformable and resigned to the Divine. Look then upon this world as one wide ocean, where many are shipwrecked and irrecoverably lost, more are tossed and fluctuating, but none can secure to themselves, for any considerable time, a future undisturbed calm. The ship, however, is still under sail, and whether the weather be fair or foul, we are every minute making nearer approaches to, and must shortly reach the shore. And may it be the haven where we would be! Then shall we understand that what we mistook for and miscalled misfortunes, were, in the true estimate of things, advantages, invaluable advantages. When all human means fail, the Deity can still, upon any extraordinary emergency, adapt His succours to our necessities.

(J. Seed, M. A.)

The value of scriptural precepts is often doubted from the tardiness with which their favourable results manifest themselves; indeed the good effects of obedience are frequently waited for in vain, and the pursuit of righteousness is attended with decided inconvenience and suffering. Under such circumstances we must arm ourselves against the scoff of the unbeliever; and the observations of those who seek excuses for the practice of evil; and the suggestions of our own sinful hearts. Instances are not infrequent of whole lives being passed, without any shadow of recompense for the most assiduous and scrupulous adherence to the commands of the Almighty. Then it is men find the inestimable advantages of clinging to the Word of God. Consistency of moral and religious goodness is the peculiar duty of a Christian. Those who feel the imperfection of present joys, must use their best endeavours to guide themselves by the Word of God invariably. The Scriptures teach us to submit with humble resignation to the dispensations of providence. No state of society can be imagined, as long as a disproportion of talent, industry, and virtue prevails among men, in which we can avoid seeing a vast deal of misery around us: the extent of that misery is generally apportioned to our degree of deficiency in one or all of these qualities. But distress and misfortune may be due to a good man's frailties, and it is reasonable to suppose that we should avoid many chastisements if we would make diligent search into our own hearts. The best of men find abundant weaknesses on which to exercise their vigilance, their self-denial, their self-abasement, and self-correction. Well might Job feel apprehension lest his children, in their prosperity, should forget God, and cling to the creature more than the Creator. We find a remarkable example of religious consistency in one who had not the full benefit of the Christian dispensation. It has been said that the disorder with which Job was afflicted generally produced in those subject to it Impatience and desperation. Under the taunts of the friends Job fell into infirmity and sin, His chief failure wan vanity, the frequent accompaniment of every human virtue. It is not for ordinary men to expect any peculiar interference of God to restore them to reason and humble submission to the Divine will; but the Lord graciously condescended to remind His servant of the power against whose decrees he had presumed to murmur; and then to show him the Divine mercy in restoration. What an example does this goodness of God to Job afford, to trust in Him, to serve and humbly obey Him, to persevere in the strict line of duty, and to guide and govern ourselves implicitly by His blessed Word, under every trial of temptation or of suffering.

(M. J. Wynyard, B. D.)

In all this did not Job sin with his lips
A man may find occasions for self-congratulation in his resignation to affliction, and of, pride even in the thought of his humility. And certainly, in a subordinate sense, we may reflect upon these things with pleasure; with very different sensations, at least, from those with which we remember our perverseness and our sins. But the danger is lest this glorying should intrude into the highest place, and become incongruous with what ought to be the thoughts of a sinner saved and upheld by grace alone. The danger is that it should come to diminish, in his view, the glory of his Redeemer's righteousness and holiness, and should somewhat weaken in his mind the thought of his entire dependence, as a weak and helpless creature, upon His power and continual aid. The heartbreaking thought of the restored penitent, though not so blessed in itself, is far less dangerous, than in some minds the exultation of one who, consistently with truth, can "thank God that he is not as other men are." "In all this Job sinned not with his lips," admonishing us, that a different scene will be opened in the subsequent pages. And those who have stood their ground in severe trials, and have exhibited a faithful and consistent testimony, should reflect how much it may have depended on the ordering of the circumstances of their distress, — that the trouble ended where it did end, or that the enemy was not suffered to do his worst. It is a proud thing to think I should have stood, where we see a brother fall! Therefore it is that the apostle calls upon "them that are spiritual," when they would restore by their admonitions or reproof a brother who is overtaken with a fault, to do it in a spirit of meekness, "considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."

(John Fry, B. A.)

We have here put before us the highest and most perfect type of "patience," in the sense of simple resignation. It is the greatest picture ever drawn of that calm, unhesitating, and profound acquiescence in the will of God, which, to borrow the words of Dean Stanley, was one of the "qualities which marked Eastern religions, when to the West they were almost unknown, and which even now is more remarkably exhibited in Eastern nations than among ourselves." "Thy will be done" is "a prayer which lies at the very root of all religion." It stands among the foremost petitions of the Lord's Prayer. It is deeply engraven in the whole religious spirit of the sons of Abraham, even of the race of Israel. In the words, "God is great" (Allah Akbar), it expresses the best side of Mohammedanism, the profound submission to the will of a heavenly Master. It is embodied in the very words, Moslem and Islam. And we, servants of the Crucified One, must feel that to be ready to leave all in God's hands, not merely because He is great, but because we know Him to be wise, and feel Him to be good, is of the very essence of religion in its very highest aspect. Bishop Butler has well said that though such a passive virtue may have no field for exercise in a happier world, yet the frame of mind which it produces, and of which it is the fruit and sign, is the very frame of all others to fit man to be an active fellow worker with his God, in a larger sphere, and with other faculties. And the very highest type of such submission we have set before us in Job. Poor as he now is, he is rich in trust and in nearness to his God; and Christian souls, trained in the teaching of Christian centuries, will feel that if there is a God and Father above us, it is better to have felt towards Him as Job felt, than to have been the lord of many slaves and flocks and herds, and the possessor of unclouded happiness on a happy earth.

(Dean Bradley.)

When Tiribazus, a noble Persian, was arrested, at first he drew his sword and defended himself; but when they charged him in the king's name, and informed him that they came from the king, he yielded willingly. Seneca persuaded his friend to bear his affliction quietly, because he was the emperor's favourite, telling him that it was not lawful for him to complain whilst Caesar was his friend. So saith the Christian. Oh, my soul! be quiet, be still; all is in love, all is a fruit of Divine favour.

( Thomas Brooks..)

There is an old saying, "Past cure past care." Is this a proverb that belongs only to the world, or may it receive a Christian application? Surely it is descriptive of the grace of true resignation. We sometimes hear of "bowing to the inevitable"; but the Christian knows a better way than bowing to the inevitable — he makes use of it. There is a wonderful passage in George Eliot's Mill on the Floss which illustrates my meaning. Honest Luke is striving to comfort the poor, ruined, and paralysed miller. "Help me down, Luke. I will go and see everything," said Mr. Tulliver, leaning on his stick and stretching out his other hand towards Luke. "Ay, sir," said Luke, as he gave his arm to his master, "you'll make up your mind to it when you've seen everything. You'll get used to it. That's what my mother says about her shortness of breath. She says she's made friends wi't now, though she fought agin it sore when it first came on. She's made friends wi't now." Making friends with the inevitable! That appears to me to be the way of the disciples of Christ — the inevitable loses its sting when we try to turn it to godly ministry. Adversity can be so used as to become our helper to higher things.

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