« PreviousContinue »
followed by a particular description of one of its pieces of furniture. But whatever their force of Logic may be, their taste of Rhetoric feems none of the best. It is a strange kind of amplification to say, “ He made all the constellations, and he " made one of them.” But that interpretation of Scripture which receives its chief strength from the rules of human eloquence, and art of composition, hath often but à sender support. I shall go on therefore to shew, that an Hebrew Writer (and he who, after all that has been said, will not allow the Author of the book of Job to be an Hebrew, may grant or deny what he pleases, for me) to Thew, I say, that an Hebrew Writer, by the crooked Serpent could not mean a Constellation.
The Rabbins tell us, (who in this case seem to be competent Evidence) that the ancient Hebrews in their Astronomy, which the moveable Feasts of their Ritual necessitated them to cultivate, did not represent the Stars, either single or in Constellations, by the name or figure of any Animal whatsoever; but distinguished them by the letters of their alphabet, artificially combined. And this they assure us was the constant practice, till, in the later ages, they became acquainted with the Grecian Sciences: Then, indeed, they learnt the art of tricking up their SPHERE, and making it as picturesque as their neighbours. But still they did it with modesty and reserve; and hesitated even then, to admit of any buman Figure. The reason given for this scrupulous observance, namely, the danger of Idolatry, is the highest confirmation of the truth of their ac
For it is not to be believed, that, when the ASTRONOMY and suPERSTITION of Egypt were so closely colleagued, and that the combination was fupported by this very means, the NAMES
given to the Constellations, it is not to be believed, I say, that Moses, who, under the ministry of God, forbad the Israelites to make any likeness of any thing in Heaven above according to the old mode, would suffer them to make new likenesses there: which, if not in the first intention set up to be worshiped, yet, we know, never waited long to obtain that honour. To corroborate this Rabbinical account relative to the Hebrew Astronomy, we may observe, that the Translators of the Septuagint, the Heads, and Doctors of the Jewish Law, who must needs know what was conformable to the practice derived from that Law, understood the Writer of the book of Job to mean no more nor less than the Devil by this periphrasis of the crooked Serpent ; and so translated it, APAKONTA ANOETATHN, the apos-, tate Dragon.
From all this it appears, that neither Mosės nor Esdras could call a Constellation by the name of the crooked Serpent.
V. The last Actor in this representation, is Job's fourth friend, Elihu the son of Barachel the Buzite, who is brought upon the stage in the thirty second chapter. He is made to reprove Job with great asperity; and, like the other three, to have his wrath kindled against him: and yet, to the surprise of all the Commentators, he is not involved in their Sentence, when God paffes judgment on the Controversy. Here again, the only solution of the difficulty is our interpretation of the book of Job. Elihu's opposition was the severity of a true friend; the others’ the malice of pretended ones. His severity against Job arose from this, that Job justified himself rather than God", that is, was
more anxious to vindicate his own innocence than the equity of God's Providence. For under the person of Elihu was designed the sacred Writer birSelf. He begins with the character of a true Prophet, under which, as in the act of inspiration, he represents himself. I am full of matter, the Spirit within me constraineth me. Behold my belly is as wine which hath no vent, it is ready to burst like new bottles?. And this, he contrasts with the character of the false Prophets of that time,--Let me not, I pray you, accept any man's person, neither let me give flattering, titles unto meny. But all this will appear from the following considerations.
Elihu, on the entrance upon his argument, addresses the three friends in the following manner : Now he hath not directed his words against me : neither will I answer him with your speeches?. This sufficiently discriminates his cause and character from theirs. He then turns to Job: “My words “ (says he) shall be of the uprightness of my “ heart; and my lips shall urter knowledge clearly. “ The Spirit of God beth made me, and the breath “ of the Almighty hath given me life. If thou “ canst answer me, set thy words in order before
me, and stand up. BEHOLD I AM, ACCORDING
TO THY WISH, IN God's STEAD: I also am s formed out of the clay," c. This clearly intimates the character of God's chosen Servant : These were of approved integrity, they received the divine inspiration, and were therefore in God's stead to the People. Elihu goes on in the same strain. “ He excites Job to attention,-accuses him of charging God with injustice, -reproves his impie
y Ver. 21. Chap. xxxii, ver, 18, 19.
z Chap. **xii, ver. 14.
2 Chap. xxxiii. ver. 3, & feq.
ty,--tells him that men cry in their amictions, and are not heard for want of faith :that his fins hinder the descent of God's blessings; whose wisdom and ways are unsearchable.”—But is this the conversation of one private man to another? Is it not rather a public exhortation of an Hebrew Prophet speaking to the People? Hence too, we may see the great propriety of that allusion to the case of Hezekiah, mentioned above, which the writer of the book of Job, in this place, puts into the mouth of Elihu. The Spirit with which Elihu speaks is farther seen from his telling Job that he desires to justify bimo: And
he accuses him of faying, It profiteth a man nothing, that he should delight himself with Godd; and expoftulates with him yet further; Thinkest thou this to be right that thou saidjt, My righteousness is more than God's ? For thou saidst, What advantage will it be unto thee, and what profit shall I have, if I be cleansed from my sin ? Here the Commentators are much fcandalized, as not seeing how this could be fairly collected from what had passed; yet it is certain he fays no more of Job than what the Prophets say of the People represented under him. Thus Malachi: " Ye have wearied the Lord with your words : yet
ye say, Wherein have.we wearied him? When ye
say, Every one that doth evil is good in the light of “ the Lord, and be delighteth in them; or, Where is " the God of judgment'?” Andagain : Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it, that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the proud happy: Yea they that work wickedness are set up; yea they that tempt God are even delivered
Chap. xxxiii, ver. 18, & feq. c Chap. xxxiii. ver. 32. d Chap. xxxiv. ver. 9.
. Chap. xxxv. ver. 2, 3. MAL. ii. 17.
& MAL. iii, 14, 15.
It was this which kindled Elihu's wrath against Job; who, in this work, is represented to be really guilty; as appears not only from the beginning of God's speech to him"; but from his own confeffion', which follows. It is remarkable that Job, from the beginning of his misfortunes to the coming of his three comforters, though greatly provoked by his Wife, finned not (as we are told) with bis lips k. But, persecuted by the malice and bitterness of their words, he began to lay such stress on his own innocence as even to accuse the justice of God. This was the very state of the Jews at this time: So exactly has the sacred Writer conducted his allegory! They bore their straits and difficulties with temper, till their enemies the Cutheans, and afterwards Sanballat, Tobiah, and the Arabians confederated against them; and then they fell into indecent murmurings against God. And here let us observe a difference in the conduct of Elihu and the three friends, a difference which well distinguishes their characters: They accufe Job of preceding faults ; Elihu accuses him of the present, namely, his impatience and impiety: which evidently shews that his charge was true, and that theirs was unjust'.
Again, Elihu uses the very fame reasonings against Job and his three friends“, which are after
h Chap. xxxviii.
i Chap. xli. ver. 1, & feq. Chap. ii. ver. 10.
1 To this Dr. Grey fays, that the three friends likewise accufe Job of his present faults. Well, and what then? Does this acquit them of injustice for falsely charging him with preceding ones?
# From chap. xxxii. to xxxvii.