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DESIGNED AS A HELP TO A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF THE SACRED WRITINGS.
BY ADAM CLARKE, LL.D., F S.A., &c.
A NEW EDITION, WITH THE AUTHOR'S FINAL CORRECTIONS.
FOR SHANOPTER THINGS WERE WRITTEN AFORETIME, WERE WRITTEN FOR OUR LEARNING ; THAT WE, THROUGH
PATIENCE AND COMFORT OF THE SCRIPTURES, MIGHT HAVE HOPE.--Rom. xv. 4.
The Old Testament.
JOB TO SOLOMON'S SONG.
PRINTED FOR THOMAS TEGG AND SON, 73, CHEAPSIDE;
AND SOLD BY
JOHN MASON, 14, CITY ROAD; GRIFFIN & Co., Glasgow; tego, WISE, & Co., DUBLIN; J. EVERETT STOREY,
MARKET STREET, MANCHESTER; AND A. C. BAYNES, LIVERPOOL.
BOOK OF JO B.
THIS is the most singular book in the whole of the Sacred Code : though written by the
same inspiration, and in reference to the same end, the salvation of men, it is so different from erery other book of the Bible, that it seems to possess nothing in common with them ; for eren the language, in its construction, is dissimilar from that in the Law, the Prophets, and the historical books. But on all hands it is accounted a work that contains “the purest morality, the sublimest philosophy, the simplest ritual, and the most majestic creed.” Except the two first chapters and the ten last verses, which are merely prose, all the rest of the book is poetic; and is every where reducible to the hemistich form, in which all the other poetic books of the Bible are written: it is therefore properly called a POEM; but whether it belongs to the dramatic or epic species has not been decided by learned men. To try it by those rules which have been derived from Aristotle, and are still applied to ascertain compositions in these departments of poetry, is, in my opinion, as absurd as it is ridiculous. Who ever made a poem on these rules? And is there a poem in the universe worth reading that is strictly conformable to these rules? Not one. The rules, it is true, were deduced from compositions of this description :--and although they may be very useful, in assisting poets to methodize their compositions, and to keep the different parts distinct; Vet they have often acted as a species of critical trammels, and have cramped genius. Genuine poetry is like a mountain flood : it pours down, resistless, bursts all bounds, scoops out its own channel, carries woods and rocks before it, and spreads itself abroad, both deep and wide, over all the plain. Such, indeed, is the poetry which the reader will meet with in this singular and astonishing book. As to Aristotle himself, although he was a keen-eyed plodder of nature, and a prodigy for his time; yet if we may judge from his poetics, he had a soul as incapable of feeling the true genie createur, as Racine terms the spirit of poetry, as he was, by his physics, metaphysics, and analogies, of discovering the true system of the universe.
As to the book of Job, it is most evidently a poem, and a poem of the highest order; dealing in subjects the most grand and sublime; using imagery the most chaste and appropriate; described by language the most happy and energetic; conveying instruction, both in divine and human things, the most ennobling and useful; abounding in precepts the most pure and exalted, which are enforced by arguments the most strong and conclusive, and illustrated by examples the most natural and striking.
All these points will appear in the strongest light to every attentive reader of the book ; and to such its great end will be answered : they will learn from it, that God has way every where : that the wicked, though bearing rule for a time, can never be ultimately prosperous and happy; and that the righteous, though oppressed with sufferings and calamities, can never be forgotten by Him in whose hands are his saints, and with whom their lives are precious ; that in this world neither are the wicked ultimately punished, nor the righteous ultimately rewarded; that God's judgments are a great deep, and his ways past finding out; but the issues of all are to the glory of his wisdom and grace, and to the eternal happiness of those who trust in him. This is the grand design of the book, and this design will be strikingly evident to the simplest and most unlettered reader, whose heart is right with God, and who is seeking instruction, in order that he may glorify his Maker, by receiving and by doing good.
Notwithstanding all this, there is not a book in Scripture on the subject of which more difficulties have been started. None, says Calmet, bas furnished more subjects of doubt and embarrassment; and none has afforded less information for the solution of those doubts. On this subject the great questions which have been agitated refer, principally, l. To the person of Job. 2. To his existence. 3. To the time in which he lived. 4. To his country. 5. To his stock or kindred. 6. To his religion. 7. To the author of the book. 8. To its truth. 9. To its authenticity; and 10. To the time and occasion on which it was written.