Introduction To The Book Of Job -- By: William C. Duncan

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 007:25 (Jan 1850)
Article: Introduction To The Book Of Job
Author: William C. Duncan

Introduction To The Book Of Job

Rev. William C. Duncan1

1. Contents of the Book

General View. — Jehovah resolves to test the virtue of the pious Job by misfortune and sufferings, and executes his determination.

This divine purpose, however, is not discerned upon the earth. For, upon the earth, misfortune and sufferings are regarded as the necessary consequence of sin, in conformity with the ancient doctrine of Mosaism, that Jehovah rewards according to works, that happiness is the lot of the pious, unhappiness of the wicked. This maxim is, accordingly, brought to bear against Job; misfortune is, in the estimation of his friends, an infallible proof of guilt, and he over whom it has rolled in such a tide, must, in their firm conviction, have committed, either openly or secretly, the most grievous sins; so would indicate that law of divine justice which rules everywhere in the destiny of man. Job, on the other hand, constantly opposes to this argument his consciousness of innocence, and firmly contests the principle adduced and supported by his friends; he finds fault with God, who has permitted him to suffer undeservedly; he knows not how to account for the bitterness of his fate, except on the repeated experience, that the pious are unhappy, the wicked, on the contrary, happy; and he opposes this experience to the assertion of his friends, in order to convince them of the uncertain foundation of their accusations. But this explanation is so ill adapted to illumine the darkness which hangs over the reason of his sufferings, that it provokes him so much the more to the most violent complaints and the most preposterous decisions respecting the moral government of the world, to the most intemperate attacks upon the divine justice, — which become the more bitter and the more violent, the more positively he sees his innocence called in question, and the more constantly the strict justice of God, even in his fate, is asserted by his friends.

To this same God, however, of whom the unhappy man complains, and whose justice he impeaches, he, nevertheless, again has recourse, partly because from Him alone can come the explanation of the enigma by which he suffers; partly because the world will only then be convinced of his innocence, when God himself bears witness to it — so that Job longs for nothing more anxiously, than that God may appear to him, to give him an opportunity of justifying himself before Him respecting his conduct, and to reveal to him the reasons why he permits him to feel His anger, — partly, in fine, because Job is not yet completely under the influence of unbelief and doubt, but, in his lucid hours, the ancient faith ...

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