« VorigeDoorgaan »
that after God turned his captivity (u), and blessed him a second time, he lived 140 years (w). Of the great variety of opinions which have been entertained concerning the nature and author of this book, I shall briefly state those which appear to be the best founded. That Job was a real, and not a fictitious character, may be inferred from the manner in which he is mentioned by Ezekiel and by St. James: "Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God (r).” As Noah and Daniel were unquestionably real characters, we must conclude the same of Job. "Behold," says St. James, "we count them happy which endure: ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy (y)." It is scarcely to be believed, that the Apostle would refer to an imaginary character as an example of patience, or in proof of the mercy of God. Since then the history of Job, as here recorded, is manifestly alluded
(u) This phrase of turning the captivity of Job, is understood by many commentators, as implying the restitution which God enabled Job to procure from the Sabeans and Chaldeans, who had plundered him of his riches.
(x) Ezek. c. 14. v. 14.
(w) Job, c. 42. v. 16. (y) James, c. 5. v. II.
alluded to in both the above passages, we may, upon these authorities, as well as upon the ground of internal evidence, and the concurrent testimony of all Eastern tradition, consider this book as containing a relation of actual events, a circumstantial detail of occurrences and discourses which really took place. Job was an inhabitant of Uz (≈), which is supposed to have been situated in Arabia Deserta, on the south of the Euphrates; and was probably descended from Uz, the eldest son of Nahor, Abraham's brother, from whom the country took its name. Elihu, in reckoning up the modes of divine revelation, takes no notice of the delivery of the Mosaic law; nor does there seem to be any allusion to the Jewish history in any part of this book; hence we may infer that Job was prior to Moses, or at least contemporary with him; and this inference is supported by the great age to which he lived. Job and his friends worshipped the one true God in sincerity and truth; and their religious knowledge was in general such as might have been derived from the early patriarchs. But the positive declaration in the 19th chapter, concerning a Redeemer and a future judgment, is by most commentators allowed to be the effect of immediate revelation from God. I am inclined to believe that this book,
(x) Job, c. 1. v. 1. Lam. c. 4. v. 21.
book, which bears every mark of remote antiquity, and of an original work, was written by Job himself, in Hebrew; and even many of those who think otherwise, admit that it might be compiled from materials left by him (a). They generally ascribe the composition to Moses; but there is so great difference between the style of the book of Job and that of the Pentateuch, that I must own this appears to me a very improbable opinion. There is the same objection to the ascribing of this book to any other writer of the Old Testament; and the objection becomes stronger, the lower we descend from the time of Moses. Its style is in many parts peculiarly sublime; and it is not only adorned with poetical embellishments, but most learned men consider it as written in metre. "Through the whole work we discover religious instruction shining forth amidst the venerable simplicity of antient manners. It every where abounds with the noblest sentiments of piety, uttered with the spirit of inspired conviction. It is a work unrivalled for the magnificence of its language, and for the beautiful and sublime images which it presents. In
(a) Bishop Lowth considers the exordium and conclusion as different from the body of the work; but he maintains that the whole of the book was written by the same person.
In the wonderful speech of the Deity (b), every line delineates his attributes, every sentence opens a picture of some grand object in creation, characterized by its most striking features. Add to this, that its prophetic parts reflect much light on the œconomy of God's moral government; and every admirer of sacred antiquity, every inquirer after religious instruction, will seriously rejoice that the enraptured sentence (c) of Job is realized to a more effectual and unforeseen accomplishment; that while the memorable records of antiquity have mouldered from the rock, the prophetic assurance and sentiments of Job are graven in Scriptures that no time shall alter, no changes shall efface (d)."
The book of Psalms is a collection of hymns or sacred songs in praise of God (e), and consists of poems of various kinds. They are the productions of different persons, but are generally called the Psalms of David, because a great part of them was composed by him, and David himself
(b) Ch. 38 and 39. (c) Ch. 19. v. 23. (e)" It is remarkable, that this book of Psalms is exactly the kind of work which Plato wished to see for the instruction of youth, but conceived it impossible to be executed, as above the power of human abilities; T×70 δε Θεε ἡ θεια τινος ἂν εἴη; 6 but this must be the work af God, or of some divine person'."—Gray.
self is distinguished by the name of the Psalmist. We cannot now ascertain all the Psalms written by David, but their number probably exceeds seventy; and much less are we able to discover the authors of the other Psalms, or the occasions upon which they were composed; a few of them were written after the return from the Babylonian captivity. The titles prefixed to them are of very questionable authority; and in many cases they are not intended to denote the writer, but refer only to the person who was appointed to set them to music. David first introduced the practice of singing sacred hymns in the public service of God; and it was restored by Ezra, who is supposed to have selected these Psalms from a much greater number, and to have placed them in their present order. It is to be presumed, that those which he rejected were either not inspired, or not calculated for general use. "The authority of those, however, which we now possess, is established not only by their rank among the sacred writings, and by the unvaried. testimony of every age, but likewise by many intrinsic proofs of Inspiration. Not only do they breathe through every part a divine spirit of eloquence, but they contain numberless illustrious prophecies that were remarkably accomplished, and that are frequently appealed to by the evangelical