“If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.”
– The book of Job seems to me the most daring of poems
– from a position of the most vantageless realism, it assaults the very citadel of the ideal!
– Its hero is a man seated among the ashes, covered with loathsome boils from head to foot, scraping himself with a potsherd. Sore in body, sore in mind, sore in heart, sore in spirit, he is the instance- type of humanity in the depths of its misery
– Job, I say, is the human being–a centre to the sickening assaults of pain, the ghastly invasions of fear: these, one time or another, I presume, threaten to overwhelm every man, reveal him to himself as enslaved to the external, and stir him up to find some way out into the infinite, where alone he can rejoice in the liberty that belongs to his nature.
– But no more that of a slave is his cry, than the defiance of Prometheus hurled at Jupiter from his rock.
– He is more overwhelmed than the Titan, for he is in infinite perplexity as well as pain; but no more than in that of Prometheus is there a trace of the cowardly in his cry. Before the Judge he asserts his innocence, and will not grovel–knowing indeed that to bear himself so would be to insult the holy.
– He feels he has not deserved such suffering, and will neither tell nor listen to lies for God. Job is nothing of a Stoic, but bemoans himself like a child–a brave child who seems to himself to suffer wrong, and recoils with horror-struck bewilderment from the unreason of the thing.
– Job, on the other hand, is the more troubled because it is He who is at the head and the heart, who is the beginning and the end of things, that has laid his hand upon him with such a heavy torture that he takes his flesh in his teeth for pain.
– He cannot, will not believe him a tyrant; but, while he pleads against his dealing with himself, loves him, and looks to him as the source of life, the power and gladness of being. He dares not think God unjust, but not therefore can he allow that he has done anything to merit the treatment he is receiving at his hands. Hence is he of necessity in profoundest perplexity, for how can the two things be reconciled?
– The thought has not yet come to him that that which it would be unfair to lay upon him as punishment, may yet be laid upon him as favour–by a love supreme which would give him blessing beyond all possible prayer– blessing he would not dare to ask if he saw the means necessary to its giving, but blessing for which, once known and understood, he would be willing to endure yet again all that he had undergone.
– He does not deny that there is evil in him; for–‘Dost thou open thine eyes upon such an one,’ he pleads, ‘and bringest me into judgment with thee?’ but he does deny that he has been a wicked man, a doer of the thing he knew to be evil: he does deny that there is any guile in him.
– I will call no one Master but Christ–and from him I learn that his quarrel with us is that we will not do what we know, will not come to him that we may have life.
-Explanations of God’s ways by such as did not understand Him, they are acceptable to such as do not care to know him; such as are content to stand afar off and stare at the cloud whence issue the thunders and the voices; but a burden threatening to sink them to Tophet, a burden grievous to be borne, [are acceptable] to such as would arise and go to the Father.
– The contradiction between Job’s idea of the justice of God and the things which had befallen him, is constantly haunting him; it has a sting in it far worse than all the other misery with which he is tormented; but it is not fixed in the hopelessness of hell by an accepted explanation more frightful than itself.
– Job refused the explanation of his friends because he knew it false; He simply holds on to the skirt of God’s garment–besieges his door–keeps putting his question again and again, ever haunting the one source of true answer and reconciliation.
– No answer will do for him but the answer that God only can give; for who but God can justify God’s ways to his creature?