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On the other hand, some interpreters tell us,that the word curse, in the origininal, is equivocal, and does more literally signify here, to bless, than to blaspheme; and consequently, that the whole is rather to be considered as a sarcastical scoff at Job's piety. As if it had been said,-Go to, bless God, and die; since thou are so ready to praise him in troubles, as thou hast done, go on in thy own way, and see how GoD will reward thee, by a miserable death which thou canst not avoid.
Without disputing the merit of these two interpretations, it may not seem an improbable conjecture, that the words imply something still different from what is expressed in either of them :and instead of supposing them as an incitement to blaspheme GOD, which was madness, or that they were intended as an insult, which was unnatural; that her advice, to curse GoD and die, was meant here, that he should resolve upon a voluntary death himself, which was an act not only in his own power, but what carried some appearance of a remedy with it, and promised, at least at first sight, some respite from pain, as it would put an end, both to his life and his misfortunes together.
One may suppose, that with all the concern and affection which was natural, she beheld her lord afflicted both with poverty and sickness ;-by one sudden blow brought down from his palace to the dunghill.-In one mournful day, she saw, that not only the fortunes of his house were blasted,but likewise the hopes of his posterity cut off for ever by the untimely loss of his children. She knew he was a virtuous and an upright man, and deserved a better fate ;-her heart bled the more for him; -she saw the prospect before him was dreadful, that there appeared no possible means which could retrieve the sad situation of his affairs,-that death, the last-the surest friend to the unfortunate, could only set him free ;-and that it was
better to resolve upon that at once, than vainly endeavor to wade thro' such a sea of troubles, which in the end would overwhelm him. We may suppose her spirits sinking under these apprehensions, when she began to look upon his constancy as a fruitless virtue, and from that persuasion to have said unto him, Curse Gon,-depend no longer upon him, nor wait the issues of his providence, which has already forsaken thee ;-as there is no help from that quarter-resolve to extricate thyself,and since thou hast met with no justice in this world, leave it-die-and force thy passage into a better country, where misfortunes cannot follow thee.
Whether this paraphrase upon the words is just, or the former interpretations be admitted,➡ the reply in the text is equally proper ;-What! shall we receive good at the hands of Gob, and shall we not receive evil also? Are not both alike the dispensation of an all-wise and good Being, who knows and determines what is best? and wherefore should I make myself a judge, to receive the one, and yet be so partial as to reject the other, when, by fairly putting both into the scale, I may be convinced how much the good outweighs the evil in all cases? In my own, consider how strong this argument is against me.
In the beginning of my days, how did Con crown me with honor? in how remarkable a manner did his providence set a hedge about me, and about all that I had, on every side; how he prospered the works of my hands, so that our substance and happiness increased every day?
And now, when for reasons best known to his infinite wisdom, he has thought fit to try me with af flictions, shall I rebel against him in sinning with my lips, and charging him foolishly?-God forbid. O rather may I look up towards that hand which has bruised me; for he maketh sore, and he bindeth up; he woundeth, and his hands make whole; from his bounty only has issued all I had; from
bis wisdom-all I have lost; for he giveth, and he hath taken away,-blessed be his name.
There are few instances of particular virtue more engaging than those of this heroic cast; and, if we may take the testimony of a Heathen philosopher upon it, there is not an object in this world which GoD can be supposed to look down upon with greater pleasure, than that of a good man involved in misfortunes, surrounded on all sides with difficulties, yet cheerfully bearing up his head, and struggling against them with firmness and constancy of mind. Certainly, to our conceptions, such objects must be truly engaging;-and the reason of so exalted an encomium from this hand, is easy to be guessed. No doubt, the wisest of the heathen philosophers had found, from observation upon the life of man, that the many troubles and infirmities of his nature,the sicknesses, disappointments, sorrows for the loss of children or property, with the numberless other calamities and cross-accidents to which the life of man is subject, were in themselves so great, and so little solid comfort to be administered from the mere refinements of philosophy in such emergencies, that there was no virtue which required greater efforts, or which was found so difficult to be achieved upon moral principles; upon moral principles, which had no foundation to sustain this great weight, which the infirmities of our nature had laid upon it. And for this reason it is observable, that there is no subject upon which the moral writers of antiquity have exhausted so much of their eloquence, or where they have spent such time and pains, as in this, of endeavoring to reconcile men to these evils. Insomuch, that from thence, in most modern languages, the patient enduring of afflictions, has by degrees obtained the name of philosophy, and almost monopolized the word to itself, as if it was. the chief end or compendium of all the widom
which philosophy had to offer. And indeed, considering what lights they had, some of them wrote extremely well; yet, as what they said proceeded more from the head than the heart, it was generally more calculated to silence a man in his troubles, than to convince, and teach him how to bear them. And therefore, however subtle and ingenious their arguments might appear in the reading, it is to be feared they lost much of their efficacy, when tried in the application. If a man was thrust back in the world by disappointments, or-as was Job's case-had suffered a sudden change in his fortune,from an affluent condition was brought down by a train of cruel accidents, and pinched with poverty ;-philosophy would come in,and exhort him to stand his ground; -it would tell him, that the same greatness and strength of mind, which enabled him to behave well in the days of his prosperity, should equally enable him to behave well in the days of his adversity that it was the property of only weak and base spirits, who were insolent in the one, to be dejected and overthrown by the other, whereas great and generous souls were at all times calm and equal. As they enjoyed the advantages of life with indifference,they were able to resign them with the same temper,-and consequently,—were out of the reach of fortune. All which, however fine, and likely to satisfy the fancy of a man at ease, could convey but little consolation to a heart already pierced with sorrow ;-nor is it to be conceived how an unfortunate creature should any more receive relief from such a lecture, however just, than a man racked with an acute fit of the gout or stone, could be supposed to be set free from torture, by hearing from his physician a nice dissertation upon his case. The philosophic consolations in sickness, or in afflictions for the death of friends and kindred were just as efficacious, and were rather in general to be considered as good sayings,
than good remedies. So that, if a man was bereaved of a promising child, in whom all his hopes and expectations centered-or a wife was left destitute to mourn the loss and protection of a kind and tender husband,-Seneca or Epictetus would tell the pensive parent, and disconsolate widow,→ that tears & lamentations for the dead were fruitless and absurd; that to die, was the necessary and unavoidable debt of nature; and as it could admit of no remedy, it was impious and foolish to grieve and fret themselves upon it. Upon such sage counsel,as well as many other lessons of the same stamp, the same reflection might be applied, which is said to have been made by one of the Roman emperors, to one who administered the same consolations to him on a like occasion-to whom, advising him to be comforted, and make himself easy, since the event had been brought about by a fatality, and could not be helped, he replied, "That this was SO far from lessening his trouble, that it was the very circumstance which occasioned it." So that, upon the whole, when the true value of these, and many more of their current arguments, have been weighed and brought to the test,-one is led to doubt, whether the greatest part of their heroes, the most renowned for constancy, were not much more indebted to good nerves and spirits,or the natu ral happy frame of their tempers, for behaving well, than to any extraordinary helps which they could be supposed to receive from their instructors.And therefore, I should make no scruple to assert, that one such instance of patience and resignation as this, which the scripture gives us in the person of Job; not of one most pompously declaiming upon the contempt of pain and poverty, but of a man sunk in the lowest condition of humanity, to behold him, when stripped of his estate, -his wealth, his friends, his children,cheerfully holding up his head, and entertaining