Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

So the beautiful poem goes on, touching here and there the sweet chords of Nature's boundless harmonies.

The hinds of the open fields, the wild goats of the rocks, and the wild ass "whose house I have made the wilderness, and who scorneth the tumult of the city”; the wild ox, also, "who cannot be yoked to the furrow” and the ostrich and the eagle, and the horse "who paweth in the valley and rejoiceth in his strength," all these and other examples of God's marvelous works are cited, celebrated, in this sublime and exquisite song.

But what is the gist of it all? What has this to do with the problem of the book? How does this explain the mystery of Providence ?

It does not explain it. This is the very point and the message of the whole book. God's ways are so much higher than our ways, and his thoughts than our thoughts, that we cannot hope to understand.

We hear "a whisper” of his ways, but "the thunder of his power who can understand?" The finite cannot comprehend the infinite; man cannot comprehend God.

What then? Are we shut up to a blind and irrational fate? Are we the helpless subjects of an arbitrary scheme of forces and laws that are deaf to our crys and indifferent to our distress?

Quite the contrary: we are the objects of divine affection, the children of a loving father, the subjects of an all-wise and omnipotent ruler.

We are under the tender care of one whose hands formed the boundless sky and all the hosts of heaven, whose wisdom planned the universe, and whose tender mercies are over all his works.

We can not understand Him, nor His plans and purposes; but can know Him, we can be confident in His wisdom and His love. We can trust Him in the dark.

The mysteries of His Providence are all too vast and complicated for us to know, but in the words of Paul, we "know whom we have believed, and are persuaded that he is able to keep that

which we have committed to Him."

The lesson of the book may be summed up in the proposition, Faith is reasonable. Trust in God is well founded. The voice from the whirlwind declares the wisdom and power and love of Him who sitteth on high.

If then we have the assurance of the love of Him “who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy," what better motto could reason demand, or intelligence suggest, than the beautiful creed of this great philosopher and saint.

"Behold the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
And to depart from evil is understanding."

The book is completed by a short conclusion in prose; which tells of the restoration of Job to prosperity, and his death at a good old age. The prologue and conclusion are perhaps intended only as the dramatic setting of the case which forms the theme of the poem, but incidentally they teach some lessons of interest and importance.

The description of the perfect and upright men given in the prologue is very fine. "He feared God and eschewed evil.” That gives his relation to God, reverent, devout, submissive, such is the basis of every perfect and upright life.

He eschewed evil—The word eschew was formerly the same as shun, and shy. He kept far from evil, shunned it, shied at it, as a timid horse shys at dangerous or doubtful objects.

Evil is not a thing to be trifled with, to be treated lightly, carelessly, but be shunned as we shun rattle snakes or smallpox.

These two terms express the foundations of his character; and, because of this sure foundation, it stood firm through the terrific strain of his afflictions.

Moreover, his care for his children's welfare included-emphasized, their religious welfare. "When their days of festivity

were gone about, he sent and sanctified them all.” The round of festive pleasures, even the most innocent, are apt to crowd out serious thought. Wise is the parent who, while encouraging all wholesome joys of life, is careful to recall his sons and daughters to the solemn and sanctifying exercise of religion.

One very beautiful incident is noted in the conclusion. In the restoration, the first thing restored is the most important, that is the impaired relations beween Job and his three friends. The discussion had been vigorous, sometimes heated and very personal. The severe and unwarranted accusations made were hard to bear and hard to forget: hence the relations were strained, and some irritation was natural. See how the Lord prescribes for such a case. He makes Job the advocate and intercessor for those who had wounded him. They were directed to bring a burnt offering for their sin, and Job is directed to pray for them. It is an appeal to his magnanimity, and his generous heart responds. He prays; and, as he prays for them, all bitterness disappears, and peace and kindliness and friendship is restored.

But this is not all: Job's restoration is connected with this prayer for others. "And the Lord turned again the captivity of Job when he prayed for his friends."

With artistic fitness the book closes with the restoration of Job's possessions all increased two-fold; all earthly goods are doubled, and the sons and daughters also, for ten grew up about him to comfort his declining years, and ten had gone before to meet him in the heavenly home when at length he died, "being old and full of days."

CHAPTER XXV

THE HAGIOGRAPHY

"Every Scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness."

O

NE of the obvious features of the Holy Scriptures is their great variety of form and contents.

While, in a most important sense, the Bible is a

book, one book, the book, having all one divine source, one point of view and single purpose; it is none the less composed of many books, written at widely separated times and places, by many different authors, in divers literary forms, and for a great variety of immediate purposes.

It is possible to classify these books in many ways; according to their age, or authorship, their special themes, their literary form, or any other way convenience may suggest.

It has been customary from ancient times to classify the Old Testament in three divisions, called the Law, the Prophets and the Hagiography.

The Law and the Prophets contain the historical books, as well as those that are distinctly legal or didactic, though for some reason the books of Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah were put in the Hagiography.

For our present purpose, we will exclude these books just mentioned, and consider the remaining nine as a group having certain features common to them all, and therefore, conveniently considered together.

But the important purpose of taking this group together is to exhibit more distinctly the unity of heir ethical teaching.

The name Hagiography means simply Holy Writings, and, in its use in reference to these portions of the Bible, indicates those books which are to be regarded as sacred, though they do not reveal either the commandments or the messages given by the prophets.

The difference is a very real one, although it is not easy to draw the line between various forms of revelation.

The books that we group under this name, are RUTH, ESTHER, JOB, THE PSALMS, THE PROVERBS, ECCLESIASTES, CANTICLES, LAMENTATIONS and DANIEL. These books are of different ages, separate authorship, and widely varied contents. They differ indeed in almost every way, but they have one feature in common; each one of them sets forth some one phase of applied religion, one special virtue or peculiar moral excellence. Taken together they give us a complete and harmonious scheme of righteous conduct, an ideal character.

The order in which the books are arranged in our Bible is not of special importance, but it happens to be a very convenient order for our present purpose.

We will consider each in its order, to discover its special message, and then notice that the resulting sum of all is not merely a few great virtues, not a group of random illustrations of practical religion and good morals, but a remarkably complete and harmonious ideal of a righteous life.

RUTH

The story of Ruth is a very simple narrative of domestic life. The heroine is a woman of the common people, not of Jewish blood, a Moabitess, but married to a man from Bethlehem and living in the land of Moab. Her husband dies and leaves her poor and homeless. She decides to return with her mother-in-law to the land of Judea. There shę gleans after the reapers in the

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »