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He likewise asserted and vindicated the distinguishing character of Job. “The Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God and escheweth evil.” The great accuser of the brethren disputed the truth of this divine declaration. "Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face." As if he had said, There is nothing singular in the character of Job. He conducts no otherwise than any other person would in the same situation. other man receive equal tokens of thy love and favor, and he will make equal returns of gratitude and obedience. Sinners love those that love them. He is, like all other men, entirely governed by mercenary motives. Therefore only touch bis interest, and strip him of those peculiar favors thou hast lavished upon him, and he will drop the mask, discover his hypocrisy, and curse thee to thy face. To wipe off these aspersions from Job's character, and to convince Satan that he acted from truly noble, disinterested motives, God gives him leave to try him with any afflictions or calamities short of death. Satan with pleasure makes the experiment. He brings a train of evils upon Job in thick successien. He strips him of his wealth. He slays his servants. And to close the scene, he rends from his heart, the dear objects of his affections, by the sudden and surprising death of his children: Thus he tumbles him in a moment, from the summit of hum man glory into the depths of human woe.
Here is a
fair trial. And what is the effect? Does be curse God as Satan predicted, and as an unholy, unsubmissive heart would naturally prompt him to do under such a severe, corrective stroke? Nothing more remote. “Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, and said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Here is, as far as can be, a visible de. monstration of the essential difference between nature and grace, between a saint and a sinner. .
On another very memorable occasion, God explicitly acknowedged the reality and importance of this distinction. He had resolved to destroy Sodom. But previously to the execution of this design, he revealed his purpose to Abraham, who immediately breaks forth into the most fervent intercession for those miserable objects. And this is the language in which he addresses the Most High. *Wilt thou destroy the righteous with the wicked? That be far from thee to do, after this manner to slay the righteous with the wicked: And that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee, shall not the Judge of all the carth do right? God graciously replies to this and his repeated importunity, that if he found fifty, or fortyfive, or forty, or thirty, or twenty, or even ten righteous persons in the city, he would spare the whole place for their sakes. And when neither of these numbers could be found, he delivered just Lot, as a standing monument that the Judge of all the earth would do right. Such are the public, visible, striking testimonies, which God himself hath horne to the distinction between the righteous and the wicked. Occa,
David mentions and describes this distinction almost in every psalm. It may suffice to quote the first as a specimen of the rest. “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the council of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way
of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scorn. ful. But his delight is in the law of God; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in season; his leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever he doth shall prosper. The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous: but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” If it be said this psalm refers to Christ, it is sufficient to observe, that there is no evidence of it from any description of his person or character, nor from any part of it being applied to him in the New Testament,
The book of Proverbs is, in a manner, one continued contrast between the righteous and the wicked.
The declarations of Christ on this head deserve special attention and regard. His sermon on the mount contains a beautiful description of the discriminating characters of the righteous. “Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: For they shall be filled. Blessed are the inerciful: For they shali obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: For they shall see God." That Christ here intends to distinguish saints from sinners, in respect to the inward motions and affections of their hearts, is not only evident from the descrip
tion itself, but from the observation which he inmediately subjoins. “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And in the conclusion of this chapter, he more particularly describes the nature and essence of the distinction, which he had before been speaking of. “Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: But I you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven; for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them that love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only; what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore per
: fect, even as your Father which is in heaven is
perfect.” Our Lord here represents the children of God as bearing his divine image, and possessing his divine spirit, which distinguishes them from the rest of mankind who are utterly destitute of such a holy and heavenly temper. And in his conference with Nicodemus, he points out the source from whence they derive this special grace, and who it is that makes them to differ. “Verily, yerily, I say unto you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh: and that which is born of the spirit, is spirit: marvel not that I said unto you, ye must be born again."
We have only to add the testimonies of the apostles to this important distinction. St. Paul declares, “If any man have not the spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Again “if any man be in Christ, he is a new crea. ture: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” And he represents saints as distinguished not only from sinners, but from themselves whilst in a state of nature, by the special influences of the divine Spirit. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins, wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: among whom we all had our conversation in times past; in the lust of our flesh, and of the mind: and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” And in another place, after mentioning a catalogue of the blackest characters, he reminds the saints, “That such were some of you; but ye aię washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The apostle John in the first chapter of bis gospel, says, “As many as received Christ, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." And in the third chapter of his first epistle, he insists on the same distinction as a matter of high importance. “Little children, let no man deceive you (by pretending there is no difference between saints and sinners, for) he that doth righteousness is righteous, even as hę, that is Christ, is righteous: he that committeth sio is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. Whosoever is born of God, doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doth not righteousness is not of God, neither be