PREACHED IN LENT, TO THE KING, APRIL 20, 1630.
Job xvi. 17—19.
Not for any injustice in my hands: also my prayer is pure. O earth cover not thou my blood; and let my cry have no place. Also now behold, my witness is in heaven, and my record is on high.
Job's friends (as, in civility, we are fain to call them, because they came upon a civil pretence, to visit him, and to comfort him) had now done speaking. It was long before they would have done. / have often heard such things as you say \ says Job to them, they are not now new to me; and therefore, miserable comforters, troublesome comforters are ye all, old and new. But, says he, Shall your windy words, your empty, your airy, your frothy words have any end*? Now they have an end. Eliphaz ends his charge in the last, and in this chapter Job begins to answer for himself. But how? By a middle way. Job does not justify himself; but yet he does not prevaricate, he does not betray his innocence neither. For there may be a pusillanimity even towards God; a man may over-clog his own conscience, and belie himself in his confessions, out of a distempered jealousy, and suspicion of God's purposes upon him; Job does not so. Many men have troubled themselves more how the soul comes into man, than how it goes out; they wrangle, whether it comes in by infusion from God, or by propagation from parents, and never consider, whether it shall return to him that made it, or to him that marred it, to him that gave it, or to him that corrupted it. So, many of our expositors upon this Book of Job, have spent themselves upon the person, and the place, and the time, who Job was, when Job was, where Job was, and whether there were ever any such person as Job, or no; and have passed over too slightly the senses, and doctrines of the book. St. Gregory hath, (to good use) given us many morals, (as he calls them) upon this book, but, truly, not many literals, for,
1 Ver. 2. 8 Ver. 3.
for the most part, he bends all the sufferings of Job figuratively, mystically upon Christ. Origen, who (except St. Gregory) hath written most of this book, and yet gone but a little way into the book neither, doth never pretend much literalness in his expositions, so that we are not to look for that at Origen's hands. We must not therefore refuse the assistance of later men, in the exposition of this text, Not for any injustice in my hands, fyc.
In this chapter, and before this text, we have Job's anatomy, Job's skeleton, the ruins to which he was reduced. In the eighth verse he takes knowledge, That Hod hath filled him with leanness and wrinkles, and that those wrinkles, and that leanness were witnesses against him, and, that they hated him, had torn him in pieces, in the ninth verse. In the eleventh verse, That God had, delivered him over to the ungodly, and, that God himself had shaked him in pieces, and set him up as a mark to shoot at; in the twelfth verse, That God had cleft his reins, and poured out his gall upon the ground, in the thirteenth verse, and in the fourteenth, That he broke him, breach after breach, and run over him as a giant, and at last, in the sixteenth verse, That foulness was upon his face, and the shadow of death upon his eyelids. Now, let me ask in Job's behalf God's question to Ezekiel, Doest thou believe that these bones can live3? Can this anatomy, this skeleton, these ruins, this rubbish of Job speak? It can, it does in this text, Not for any injustice in my hands, $c.
And, in these words, it delivers us, first, the confidence of a godly man; do God what he will, say ye what ye will, that because I am more afflicted than other men, therefore I am guilty of more heinous sins than other men, yet I know, that whatsoever God's end be in this proceeding, it is not for any injustice in my hands, also my prayer is pure. Secondly, it delivers us that kind of infirm anguish, and indignation, that half-distemper, that expostulation with God, which sometimes comes to an excess even in good and godly men, 0 earth cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place; I desire not that anything should be concealed or disguised, let all that ever I have done be written in my forehead, and read by all men. And then thirdly and lastly, it delivers us the foundation of his
3 Ezek. xxxvii. 2.
confidence, and the recovery from this his infirmity, and from his excess in the manner of expressing it, if he have been overbold therein, My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high; God is his witness, that that which they charge him with, is false, that that which he says in his own discharge (in that sense that he says it) is true; and in these three, Job's protestation, Not guilty, Job's manifest, I would all the world knew all, Job's establishment, and consolidation, My witness is in heaven; in these three branches, and in some fruits, which, in passing, we shall gather from them, we shalLdetermine all that appertains to these words.
I remember St. Gregory, in handling one text, professes, that he will endeavour to handle it so, that the weakest understanding might comprehend the highest points, and the highest understanding not be weary to hear ordinary doctrines so delivered. Indeed, it is a good art, to deliver deep points in a holy plainness, and plain points in a holy delightfulness: for, many times, one part of our auditory understands us not, when we have done, and so they are weary; and another part understands us before we begun, and so they are weary. To-day, my humble petition must be, that you will be content to hear plain things plainly delivered. Of which, this be the first, that Job found himself under the oppression, and calumny of that misinterpretation, that kings themselves, and states, and churches have not escaped.
The tower of Siloe fell and slew them4, therefore they were the greater sinners in Jerusalem; this man prospers not in the world, therefore he proceeds not in the fear of God; the heir wastes the estate, therefore the estate was ill-gotten, are hasty conclusions in private affairs. Treasures are empty, therefore they are unnecessary wastes; discontented persons murmur, therefore things are ill-carried; our neighbours prosper by action, therefore we perish by not appearing, are hasty conclusions in state affairs. This man is affected when he hears a blasphemous oath; and when he looks upon the general liberty of sinning, therefore he is a puritan; that man loves the ancient forms, and doctrines, and disciplines of the church, and retains, and delights in the reverend names of priest, and altar, and sacrifice, therefore he is
4 Luke xiii. 4.
a papist, are hasty conclusions in church affairs. When we do fall under these misinterpretations, and ill applications of God's proceedings, we may say with Job, / also could speak, as you do; if your soul were in my souPs stead, I could heap up words against you, and shake- my head at you5, conclude desperately, speak scornfully of you. But I will not; yet I will not betray myself, I will make my protestation, what end soever God propose to himself in this his proceeding, It is not for any injustice in my hands, also my prayer is pure.
In these two, cleanness of hands, pureness of prayer, are all religious duties comprehended: for clean hands denote justice and righteousness towards men, and pure prayer devotion, and the service and worship of God. Job protests for both. Therefore does Origen say of Job, I do verily believe, and therefore may be bold to say, that for constancy and fidelity towards God, Job did exceed, not only men, but angels themselves; for, says Origen, Job did not only suffer, without being guilty of those things to which his afflictions were imputed, but he suffered with giving of thanks, he said grace when he had no meat, when God gave him stones for bread, and scorpions for fish; he praised God as much for the affliction itself, as for his former, or his subsequent benefits and blessings. Not that Job was merely innocent, but that he was guilty of no such things, as might confer those conclusions, which, from his afflictions, his enemies raised. If I justify myself, says Job, mine own mouth shall condemn mee; every self-justification is a self-condemnation; when I give judgment for myself, I am therein a witness against myself. If I say I am perfect, says he in the same place, even that proves me perverse; if I say I never go out of the way, I am out then, and therefore because I say so: / have sinned, says he, what shall I do unto thee 0 thou preserver of men1? Job felt the hand of destruction upon him, and he felt the hand of preservation too; and it was all one hand; this is God's method, and his alone, to preserve by destroying. Men of this world do sometimes repair, and recompense those men whom they have oppressed before, but this is an after recompense; God's first intention even when he destroys is to preserve, as a physician's first intention, in the most
• Ver. 4 6 Job ix. 20. 7 Job vii. 2.
distasteful physic, is health; even God's demolitions are superedifications, his 'anatomies, his dissections are so many recompactings, so many resurrections; God winds us off the skein, that he may weave us up into the whole piece, and he cuts Us out of the whole piece into pieces, that he may make us up into a whole garment.
But for all these humiliations, and confessions, Joh doth not waive his protestation: My righteousness I hold fast, and my heart shall not reproach me as long as I live*. Not that I shall never sin, but never leave any sin unrepented; and then, my heart cannot reproach me of a repented sin, without reproaching God himself. The sun must not set upon my anger"; much less will I let the sun set upon the anger of God towards me, or sleep in an unrepented sin. Every night's sleep is a nunc dimittis; then the Lord lets his servant depart in peace. Thy lying down is a valediction, a parting, a taking leave, (shall I say so?) a shaking hands with God; and, when thou shakest hands with God, let those hands be clean. Enter into thy grave, thy metaphorical, thy quotidian grave, thy bed, as thou enteredest into the church at first, by water, by baptism; rebaptize thyself every night, in Job's snow water10, in holy tears that may cool the inordinate lusts of thy heart, and withhold unclean abuses of those hands even in that thy grave, thy bed; and evermore remember Job's fear and jealousy in that place, that when he had washed himself in snow water, mine own clothes will make me foul again. Thy flesh is thy clothes; and to this mischievous purpose of fouling thy hands with thine own clothes, thou hast most clothes on when thou art naked; then, in that nakedness, thou art in most danger of fouling thy hands with thine own clothes. Miserable man! that couldest have no use of hands, nor any other organ of sense, if there were no creature but thyself, and yet, if there were no other creature but thyself, couldest sin upon thyself, and foul thy hands with thine own hands. How much more then, if thou strike with those hands, by oppression in thy office, or shut up those hands, and that which is due to another, in them? Sleep with clean hands, either kept clean all day, by integrity; or washed clean, at night, by repentance; and whensoever thou
8 Job xxvii. 6. . 9 Ephes. iv. 24. 10 Job ix. 30.
wakest, though all Job's messengers thunder about thee, and all Job's friends multiply misinterpretations against thee, yet Job's protestation shall be thy protestation, what end soever God have in this proceeding, It is not for any injustice in my hands, and the other part of his protestation too, also my prayer is pure.
As clean hands denote all righteousness towards man, so do pure prayers all devotion, and worship, and service of God. For, we are of the household of the faithful, and the service which we are to do, as his household servants, is prayer; for, his house is the house of prayer. And therein only is it possible to us, to fulfil that commandment, pray continually, that continually, in all our familiar actions, we may serve God, glorify God, (whether we eat or drink, we may do it to his glory) and every glorifying, every thanksgiving, is prayer; there cannot be a more effectual prayer for future, than a thankful acknowledgment of former benefits. How often is that repeated in the Gospel, and in the Epistles? Ask, and it shall be given you; no grant without prayer, no denial upon prayer.
It must he prayer, and my prayer; also my prayer is pure. I must not rely upon the prayers of others; not of angels; though they be ministerial spirits, and not only to God himself, but between God and man, and so, as they present our prayers, no doubt pour out their own for us too, yet we must not rely upon the prayers of angels. Nor of saints; though they have a more personal, and experimental sense of our miseries than angels have, we must not rely upon the prayers of saints. No, nor upon the prayers of the congregation, though we see, and hear them pray, except we make ourselves parts of the congregation, by true devotion, as well as by personal presence.
It must be mine own prayer, and no prayer is so truly, or so properly mine, as that that the church hath delivered and recommended to me. In sudden and unpremeditate prayer, I am not always I; and when I am not myself, my prayer is not my prayer. Passions and affections sometimes, sometimes bodily infirmities, and sometimes a vain desire of being eloquent in prayer, aliens me, withdraws me from myself, and then that prayer is not my prayer. Though that prayer which Luther is said to have said upon his deathbed, Or emus pro Domino Deo nostro Jem Christo, Let us pray for our Lord and Saviour Christ Jesus, may admit a good sense, because Christ being (as St. Augustine says often) Caput et corpus, Both the head and the body, as he is the body, the church, subject to so many pressures, he had need to be prayed for; yet, his state being considered at that time, almost at the last gasp, he being scarce he, that prayer can scarce be called his prayer.
In that African council, in which St. Augustine was present, to remedy the abuse of various forms of prayers, which divers churches assumed, it was decreed that no prayers should be received in the church, but such as were composed, or approved by the council. We have proceeded so too; no prayers received for public use, but those that are delivered by public authority; and so, they become my prayers. As the law of the land is my law, and I have an inheritance in it, so the prayers of the church are my prayers, and I have an interest in them, because I am a son of that family. My baptism is mine, and my absolution is mine, because the church hath given them to me, and so are her prayers mine. You would scarce thank a man for an extemporal elegy, or epigram, or panegyric in your praise, if it cost the poet, or the orator no pains. God will scarce hearken to sudden, inconsidered, irreverent prayers. Men will study even for compliments; and princes and ambassadors will not speak to one another, without thinking what they will say. Let not us put God to speak to us so, (preaching is God's speaking to us) let not us speak to God so, (praying is our speaking to God) not extemporally, unadvisedly, inconsiderately. Prayer must be my prayer; and even in this kind, what have I that I have not received? I have received my prayer altogether, as a bundle of myrrh, in that prayer which I have received from my Saviour, and then I have received it appropriated to me, and apportioned to my particular necessities, and sacrifices, by the piety and wisdom of the church; so it is my prayer, and, as Job's prayer was, pure prayer, also my prayer is pure.
The Holy Ghost hath so marshalled and disposed the qualifications of prayer in this place, as that there is no pure prayer without clean hands. The lifting up of hands was the gesture of prayer, even among the heathen, manibus supplex orare mpinis. Amongst the Jews, Prayer, and the lifting up of hands, was one and the same thing, Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice"; and, longer than Moses' hands were lifted up18, his prayer had no effect. All this, perchance therefore especially, that this lifting up of my hands, brings them into my sight; then I can see them, and see whether they be clean, or no, and consider, that if I see impurity in my hands, God sees impurity in my prayer. Can I think to receive ease from God with that hand that oppresses another? mercy from God with that hand that exercises cruelty upon another? or bounty from God with that hand that withholds right from another? Prayer is our hand, but it must be a clean hand, pure prayer.
That emperor whom no religion would lose, Constantino, (for the heathen deified him, and the Christians canonized him, they made him a god, and we came as near as we could, we made him a saint) that emperor was coined praying. Other emperors were coined triumphing, in chariots, or preparing for triumphs, in battles, and victories, but he, Constantine, in that posture, kneeling, praying. He knew his coin would pass through every family; and to every family he desired to be an example of piety; every piece of single money was a catechism, and testified to every subject all this, surely he will graciously receive my petition, and look graciously upon me, when I kneel, for, behold he kneels too, and he exhibits petitions to that God, from whom he acknowledges, that he needs as much as I can from him. And yet this symbolical, and catechistical coin of Constantine's, was not so convincing, nor so irrefragable a testimony of his piety, (for Constantine might be coined praying, and yet never pray) as when we see as great a prince as he, actually, really, personally, daily, duly at prayer with us.
To end this branch, let not thy prayer be lucrative, nor vindictive, pray not for temporal superfluities, pray not for the confusion of them that differ from thee in opinion, or in manners, but condition thy prayer, inanimate thy prayer with the glory of God, and thine own everlasting happiness, and the edification of others, and this prayer is Job's prayer, pure prayer. And farther we enlarge not his protestation, My hands are clean, I do not mean
11 Psal. cxLi. 2. "Exod. xvii. 11
wrong, my prayer is pure, I mock not God. But because continuing under so great afflictions, men would not believe this, he proceeds, perchance to some excess, and inconsiderateness, in desiring a manifestation of all his actions, 0 earth, cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.
Difference of expositions makes us stop here, upon this inquisition, in what affection Job spake this. Whether this were merely an adjuration of the earth, not to cover his blood, but that his miseries, and the cry thereof might pass, and be transferred over all the world; or whether it had the nature of an imprecation upon himself, that he wished, or admitted against himself, that which is against the nature of every man to admit, that is, to have all that ever he had done, published, declared, manifested to all the world. St. Gregory, according to his manner, through all this book, which is, to apply all Job's sufferings to Christ, and to make Job some kind of type of Christ, makes no more of this, but that it is an adjuration of the earth, in the person and behalf of Christ, not to suck in, or smother his blood, but that it might be notified, and communicated to all the world. And truly, this is a good use, but it cannot be said to be a good sense of the place, becauso it cannot consist with the rest of the words.
Amongst onr later men, Cajetan, (and he, from the rabbi of the Jews, Aben Ezra) takes this to be an adjuration of the earth, as Gregory does, but not, as Gregory does, in the person of Christ, but as Job himself; that Job adjures the earth, not to cover his blood, that is, not to cover the shedding of his blood, not to conspire with the malice of his enemies so much, as to deny him burial when he was dead, that they which trod him down alive, might not triumph over him after his death, or conclude that God did certainly forsake him alive, since he continued these declarations against him, when he was dead. And this also may have [good use, but yet it is too narrow, and too shallow, to be the sense of this phrase, this elegancy, this vehemency of the Holy Ghost, in the mouth of Job.
St. Chrysostom, I think, was the first that gave light to the sense of this place. He says, that such men, as are (as they think) over-punished, have naturally a desire, that the world knew their faults; that so, by comparing their faults with their punishments, there might arise some pity and commiseration of their state. And, surely, this, that Chrysostom says, is true, and natural; for, if two men were to be executed together, by one kind of death, the one for stealing a sheep, (perchance in hunger) the other for killing his father, certainly, he that had but stolen the sheep, would be sorry the world should think their cases alike, or that he had killed a father too. And in such an affection Job says, I am so far from being guilty of those things that are imputed to me, that I would be content, that all that ever I have done, were known to all the world.
This light, which St. Chrysostom gave to this place, shined not out, I think, till the Reformation; for, I have not observed any author, between Chrysostom and the Reformation, that hath taken knowledge of this interpretation; nor any of the Reformation, as from him, from Chrysostom. But, since our authors of the Reformation, have somewhat generally pursued that sense, (Calvin hath done so, and so Tremellius, and so Piscator, and many, many more) now, one author of the Roman church (one as curious and diligent in interpreting obscure places of Scripture, as any amongst them, and then more bold and confident in departing from their vulgar, and frivolous, and impertinent interpretations of Scriptures, than any amongst them) the Capuchin Bolduc, hath also pursued that sense. That sense is, that in this adjuration, or imprecation, 0 earth cover not thou my blood; blood is not literally bodily blood, but spiritual blood, the blood of the soul, exhausted by many, and heinous sins, such as they insimulated Job of. For in this signification is that word, blood, often taken in the Scriptures. When God says, When you stretch forth your hands, they are full of blood1", there blood is all manner of rapine, of oppression, of concussion, of violence. When David prays to be delivered from blood-guiltiness1*, it is not intended only of an actual shedding of blood, for it is in the original, a sanguinibus, in the plural; other crimes than the actual shedding of blood, are bloody crimes. Therefore, says one prophet, the land is full of bloody crimes15; and, another, blood toucheth blood1", whom the Chaldee Paraphrase expresses aright,
13 Isaiah i. 15. 11 Psalm ti. xiv. 15 Ezek. vii. 23. 18 Hosea iv. 2.
Aggregantpeccata peccatis, Blood toucheth blood, when sin induces sin. Which place of Hosea, St. Gregory interprets too, then blood touches blood, Cum ante oculos Dei, adjunctis peccatis cruentatur anima; Then God sees a soul in her blood, when she wounds and wounds herself again, with variation of divers, or iteration of the same sins.
This then being thus established, that blood in this text, is the blood of the soul, exhausted by sin, (for every sin is an incision of the soul, a lancination, a phlebotomy, a letting of the soulblood, and then a delight in sin, is a going with open veins into a warm bath, and bleeding to death) this will be the force of Job's admiration, or imprecation, 0 earth cover not thou my blood, I am content to stand as naked now, as I shall do at the day of judgment, when all men shall see all men's actions, I desire no disguise, I deny, I excuse, I extenuate nothing that ever I did, I would mine enemies knew my worst, that they might study some other reason of God's thus proceeding with me, than those heinous sins, which from these afflictions they will necessarily conclude against me.
But had Job been able to have stood out this trial? Was Job so innocent, as that he need not care, though all the world knew all? Perchance there may have been some excess, some inordinateness in his manner of his expressing it; we cannot excuse the vehemence of some holy men, in such expressions. We cannot say, that there was no excess in Moses' dele me, pardon this people, or blot my name out of thy book; or that there was no excess in St. Paul's anathema pro fratribus, that he wished to be accursed, to be separated from Christ for his brethren. But for Job, we shall not need this excuse; for, either we may restrain his words to those sins, which they imputed to him, and then they have but the nature of that protestation, which David made so often to God, Judge me, 0 Lord, according to my righteousness, according to mine innocency, according to the cleanness of my hands; which was not spoken by David simply, but respectively, not of all his sins, but of those which Saul pursued him for: or, if we enlarge Job's words generally to all his sins, we must con. sider them to be spoken after his repentance, and reconciliation to God thereupon; if they knew, (may Job have said) how it
stood between God and my soul, how earnestly I have repented, how fully he hath forgiven, they would never say, these afflictions proceeded from those sins.
And truly, so may I, so may every soul say, that is rectified, refreshed, restored, re-established by the seals of God's pardon, and his mercy, so the world would take knowledge of the consequences of my sins, as well as of the sins themselves, and read my leaves on both sides, and hear the second part of my story, as well as the first; so the world would look upon my temporal calamities, the bodily sicknesses, and the penuriousness of my fortune contracted by my sins, and upon my spiritual calamities, dejections of spirit, sadness of heart, declinations towards a diffidence and distrust in the mercy of God, and then, when the world sees me in this agony and bloody sweat, in this agony and bloody sweat would also see the angels of heaven ministering comforts unto me; so they would consider me in my peccavt, and God in his transtulit, me in my earnest confessions, God in his powerful absolutions, me drawn out of one sea of blood, the blood of mine own soul, and cast into another sea, the bottomless sea of the blood of Christ Jesus; so they would know as well what God hath done for my soul, as what my soul and body have done against my God; so they would read me throughout, and look upon me altogether, I would join with Job, in his confident adjuration, 0 earth, cover not thou my blood; let all the world know all the sins of my youth, and of mine age too, and I would not doubt, but God should receive more glory, and the world more benefit, than if I had never sinned. This is that that exalts Job's confidence, he was guilty of nothing, that is, no such thing as they concluded upon, of nothing absolutely, because he had repented all. And from this, his confidence rises to a higher pitch than this, 0 earth cover not thou my blood, and let my cry have no place.
What means Job in this? Doubtful expositors make us doubt too. Some have said, that Job desires his cry might have no place, that is, no termination, no resting place, but that his just complaint might be heard over all the world; Stunnica the Augustinian interprets it so. Some have said, that he intends by his cry, his crying sins, that they might have no place, that is,
Vol. I. u
no hiding place, but that his greatest sins, and secret sins might be brought to light; Bolduc the Capuchin interprets it so; according to that use of the word clamor, God looked for righteousness, et ecce clamorem, behold a cryTM; that is, sins crying in the ears of God. But there is more than so, in this phrase, in this elegancy, in this vehemency of the Holy Ghost in Job's mouth, Let my cry ham no place.
In the former part, (Job's protestation) he considered God and man; righteousness towards man in clean hands, and, in pure prayers, devotion towards God. In this part, (his manifest) he pursues the same method, he considers man, and God; though men knew all my sins, that should not trouble me, says he, (and that we have considered) yea, though my cry find no place, no place with God, that should not trouble me; I should be content that God should seem not to hear my prayers, but that he laid me open to that ill interpretation of wicked men, tush, he prays, but the Lord hears him not, he cries, but God relieves him not. And yet, when wilt thou relieve me, O thou reliever of men, if not upon my cries, upon my prayers I Yet, St. Augustine hath repeated that, more than once, more than twice, Non est magnum e&audiri ad voluntatem, non est magnum; Be not over-joyed when God grants thee thy prayer. Exauditi ad voluntatem dwmones, gays that father, The devil had his prayer granted, when he had leave to enter into the herd of swine; and so he had (says he, exemplifying in our present example) when he obtained power from God against Job. But all this aggravated the devil's punishment; so may it do thine, to have some prayers granted. And, as that must not over-joy thee, if it be, so if thy prayer be not granted, it must not deject thee. God suffered St. Paul to pray, and pray and pray, yet, after his thrice praying, granted him not that he prayed for. God suffered that, if it be possible, and that, let this cup pass, to pass from Christ himself, yet he granted it not.
But, in many of these cases, a man does easilier satisfy his own mind, than other men. If God grant me not my prayer, I recover quickly, and 1 lay hold upon the horns of that altar, and ride safely at that anchor, God saw that that which I prayed for,
17 Isaiah v. 7.
was not so good for hini, nor so good for me. But when the world shall come to say, Where is now your religion, where is your reformation? Do not all other rivers, as well as the Tiber, or the Po, does not the Seine, and the Rhine, and the Maine too, begin to ebb back, and to empty itself in the sea of Rome? Why should not your Thames do so, as well as these other rivers? Where is now your religion, your reformation? Were not you as good run in the same channel as others do I This is a shrewd temptation, and induces opprobious conclusions from malicious enemies, when our cries have no place, our religious service no present acceptation, our prayers no speedy return from God. But yet because even in this, God may propose farther glory to himself, more benefit to me, and more edification even to them, at last, who, at first, made ill constructions of his proceedings, I admit, as Job admits, 0 earth cover not thou my blood, (let all the world see all my faults) and let my cry have no place, (let them imagine that God hath forsaken me, and does not hear my prayers;) my satisfaction, my acquiescence arises not out of their opinion, and interpretation, that must not be my trial, but My witness is in heaven, and my record is on high, which is our third, and last consideration.
We must do in this last, as we have done in our former two parts, crack a shell, to taste the kernel, clear the words, to gain the doctrine. I am ever willing to assist that observation, that the books of Scripture are the eloquentest books in the world, that every word in them hath its weight and value, its taste and verdure. And therefore must not blame those translators, nor those expositors, who have, with a particular elegancy, varied the words in this last clause of the text, my witness, and my record. The oldest Latin translation received this variation, and the last Latin, even Tremellius himself, (as close as he sticks to the Hebrew) retains this variation, testis and conscius. And that collection, which hath been made upon this variation, is not without use, that conscius may be spoken de interno, that God will bear witness to my inward conscience; and testis, de externo, that God will, in his time, testify to the world in my behalf. But other places of Scripture will more advance that observation of the elegancy thereof, than this; for in this, the two words signify but one and the same thing, it is but witness, and witness, and no more. Not that it is easy to find in Hebrew (nor, perchance, in any language) two words so absolutely synonymous, as to signify the same thing, without any difference, but that the two words in our text are not both of one language, not both Hebrew. For, the first word, gned, is an Hebrew word, but the other, sahad, is Syriac; and both signify alike, and equally, testem, a witness. He that hears the voice of swearing, and is a witness1", says Moses, in the first word of our text; and then the Chaldee paraphrase, intending the same thing, expresses it in the other word, sahad. So in the contract between Laban and Jacob, Laban calls that heap of stones, which he had erected, Jegar-Schadutha19, by an extraction from the last word of our text, sahad; Jacob calls it, by the first word: and the reason is given in the body of the text itself, in the vulgate edition, (though how it got thither, we know not, for, in the original it is not) Uterque junta proprietatem linguw suw; Laban spake in his language, Syriac, Jacob spake in his, Hebrew, and both called that heap of stones, a witness.
Now, our bestowing this little time upon the clearing of the words, hath saved us much more time; for, by this means we have shortened this clause of our text, and all that we are to consider, is but this, My witness is in Heaven. And truly, that is enough; I care not though all the world knew all my faults, I care not what they conclude of God's not granting my prayers, My witness is in Heaven. To be condemned unjustly amongst men, to be ill interpreted in the acts of my religion, is a heavy case; but yet, I have a relief in all this, My witness is in Heaven.
The first comfort is, because he, whom I rely upon, is in heaven. For that is the foundation and basis upon which our Saviour erects that prayer, which he hath recommended unto us, Our Father, which art in Heaven; when I lay hold upon him there, in Heaven, I pursue cheerfully and confidently all the other petitions, for daily bread, for forgiveness of sins, for deliverance from temptations; from, and for all. He is in Heaven, and then he sits in HeavenTM; that as I see him in that posture that Stephen saw him, standing at the right hand of the Father", and
>8 Levit. v. I. "' (Jen. xxxi. 47. PsaJui ii. 4. 81 Acts vii. 66.
so, in a readiness, in a willingness to come to my succour, so I might contemplate him in a judiciary posture, in a potestative, a sovereign posture, sitting, and consider him as able, as willing to relieve me. He is in heaven, and he sits in heaven, and then he dwells in heavenTM, he is, and he is always there. Baal's priests could not always find him at home; Job's God, and our God is never abroad. He dwells in the heavens, and, (as it is expressed there) he dwells on. high; so high, that, (as it is there added) God humbles himself, to behold the things that are in heaven. With what amazedness must we consider the humiliation of God, in descending to the earth, lower than so, to hell, when even his descending unto heaven, is a humiliation? God humbles himself, when he beholds anything lower than himself, though cherubims, though seraphims, though the humane nature, the body of his own, and only eternal Son; and yet he beholds; considers, studies us, worms of the earth, and no men.
This then is Job's, and our first comfort, because he is in heaven, and sits in heaven, and dwells in heaven, in the highest heaven, and so sees all things. But then, if God see, and say nothing, David apprehends that for a most dangerous condition; and therefore he says, Be not silent, 0 Lord, lest if thou be silent, I perishTM. And again, Hold not thy peace, 0 God of my praise, for the mouth of the wicked is opened against me**: and Lord, let thy mercy be as forward as their malice. And therefore, as God, from that height, sees all, (and the strictest examination that we put upon any witness, is, that if he pretend to testify anything upon his knowledge, we ask, how he came by that knowledge, and if he be a witness that saw it, this is good evidence) as God is to this purpose, all eye, and sees all, so for our farther comfort, he descends to the office of being a witness, there is a witness in heaven.
But then, God may be a witness, and yet not my witness, and in that there is small comfort, if God be a witness on my adversaries' side, a witness against me. Even I know, and am a witness 45, saith the Lord; that is, a witness of the sins, which I know by thee. And that is that which Job with so much ten
** Psalm cxiii. 5. 83 Psalm xxviii. 1. 14 Psalm cix. I.
"Jer. xxix. 22.
derness apprehended, Thou renewest thy witnesses against me"; thou sentest a witness against me, in the Sabseans, upon my servants; and then thou renewedst that witness in the Chaldaeans upon my cattle; and then thou renewedst that, in thy storms and tempests, upon my children. All this while God was a witness, but not his witness, but a witness on his adversary's side. Now, if our own heart, our own conscience condemn us, this is shrewd evidence, says St. John47; for mine own conscience, single, is a thousand witnesses against me. But then, (says the apostle there) God is greater than the heart; for, (says he) he knows all things; he knows circumstances of sin, as well as substance; and, that, we seldom know, seldom take knowledge of. If then mine own heart be a thousand, God, that is greater, is ten thousand witnesses, if he witness against me. But if he be my witness, a witness for me, as he always multiplies in his ways of mercy, he is thousands of thousands, millions of millions of witnesses in my behalf, for there is no condemnation"', no possible condemnation, to them that are in him; not, if every grain of dust upon the earth were an Achitopel, and gave counsel against me, not if every sand upon the shore were a Rabshakeh, and railed against me, not if every atom in the air were a Satan, an adversary, an accuser, not if every drop in the sea, were an Abaddon, an Apollyon, a destroyer, there could be no condemnation, if he be my witness. If he be my witness, he proceeds thus in my behalf, his spirit bears witness with my spirit, for mine inward assurance, that I stand established in his favour, and, either by an actual deliverance, or by some such declaration, as shall preserve me from fainting, if I be not actually delivered, he gives a farther testimony in my behalf. For, he is in heaven, and he sits in heaven, and he dwells in heaven, in the highest heaven, and sees all, and is a witness, and my witness; there is the largeness of our comfort.
But will all this come home to Job's end and purpose; that he need not care though all men knew all his faults, he need not care though God passed over his prayers, because God is his witness; what declarations soever he had in himself, would the world believe, that God testified in his behalf, when they saw his cala
M Job x. 27- i7 1 John iii. 20. 28 Rorn. viii. 1.
mities multiplied upon lain, and his prayers neglected? If they will not, herein lies his and our final comfort, that he that is my witness, is in the highest heaven, there is no person above him, and therefore he that is my witness, is my judge too. I shall not be tried by an arbitrary court, where it may be wisdom enough to follow a wise leader, and think as he thinks. I shall not be tried by a jury, that had rather I suffered, than they fasted, rather I lost my life, than they lost a meal, Nor tried by peers, where honour shall be the Bible. But I shall be tried by the king himself, than which no man can propose a nobler trial, and that King shall be the King of Kings too; for he who in the first of the Revelation, is called the faithful witness, is, in the same place, called the Prince of the Kings of the earth; and, as he is there produced as a witness, so, he is ordained to be the Judge of the quick and the deadTM, and so, all judgment is committed to him3". He that is my witness, is my judge, and the same person is my Jesus, my Saviour, my Redeemer; he that hath taken my nature, he that hath given me his blood. So that he is my witness, in his own cause, and my judge, but of his own title, and will in me preserve himself; he will not let that nature that he hath invested, perish, nor that treasure which he hath poured out for me, his blood, be ineffectual. My witness is in heaven, my judge is in heaven, my Redeemer is in heaven, and in them, who are but one, I have not only a constant hope, that I shall be there too, but an evident assurance, that I am there already, in his person.
Go then in this peace, that you always study to preserve this testification of the Spirit of God, by outward evidences of sanctification. You are naturally composed of four elements, and three of those four are evident, and unquestioned; the fourth element, the element of fire, is a more litigious element, more problematical, more disputable. Every good man, every true Christian, in his metaphysics, (for, in a regenerate man, all is metaphysical, supernatural) hath four elements also; and three of those four are declared in this text. First, a good name, the good opinion of good men, for honest dealing in the world, and religious discharge of duties towards God, that there be no injus
"Acts x. 42.
John v. 22,
tice in our hands, also that our prayer be pure. A second element is a good conscience in myself, that either a holy wariness before, or a holy repentance after, settle me so in God, as that I care not though all the world knew all my faults. And a third element is, my hope in God, that my witness which is in heaven, will testify for me, as a witness in my behalf here, or acquit me, as a merciful judge, hereafter. Now, there may be a fourth element, an infallibility of final perseverance, grounded, upon the eternal knowledge of God; but this is as the element of fire, which may be, but is not, at least, is not so discernible, so demonstrable as the rest. And therefore, as men argue of the element of fire, that whereas the other elements produce creatures in such abundance, the earth such herds of cattle, the waters such shoals of fish, the air such flocks of birds, it is no unreasonable thing to stop upon this consideration, whether there should be an element of fire, more spacious, and comprehensive than all the rest, and yet produce no creatures; so, if thy pretended element of infallibility produce no creatures, no good works, no holy actions, thou mayest justly doubt there is no such element in thee. In all doubts that arise in thee, still it will be a good rule, to choose that now, which thou wouldst choose upon thy death-bed. If a temptation to beauty, to riches, to honour, be proposed to thee, upon such, and such conditions, consider whether thou wouldst accept that, upon those conditions, upon thy death-bed, when thou must part with them in a few minutes. So, when thou doubtest, in what thou shouldst place thy assurance in God, think seriously, whether thou shalt not have more comfort then, upon thy death-bed, in being able to say, / have finished my course, I have fought a good fight, I hme fulfilled the sufferings of Christ in my fiesh, I have clothed him when he was naked, and fed him when he was poor, than in any other thing, that thou mayest conceive God to have done for thee; and do all the way, as thou wouldst do then; prove thy element of fire, by the creatures it produces, prove thine election by thy sanctification; for that is the right method, and shall deliver thee over, infallibly, to everlasting glory at last. Amen.