I recently required a facsimile edition of the 1574 English translation of John Calvin's Sermons on Job. This means that everything is spelled really silly-like, so I have "translated" the old-style English into modern spelling. I left the weird words and Yoda-like word order as it was, though. But if you're used to reading the Puritans and what-not, then this should be no problem. I have added paragraph summaries of my own devising in italics. Anyway, I thought that I would gradually post my slow progress (this is going to take a while). And so, here is sermon number 1.
The first Sermon upon the first Chapter.
There was in the land of Hus a man named Job, sound and upright, fearing God, and withdrawing himself from evil.
(There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil. Job 1:1, ESV)
God disposes of us as He will according to his own good pleasure, which though we may not understand it, we know he is just and righteous.
The better to profit ourselves by that which is contained in this present book, first and foremost it behooves us to understand the sum of it. For the story here written, shows us how we be in God’s hand, and that it lies in Him to determine of our life, and to dispose of the same according to His good pleasure: and that it is our duty to submit ourselves unto Him with all humbleness and obedience: and that it is good reason, that we should be wholly His, both to live and die: and specially that when it pleases Him to lay His hand upon us, although we perceive not for what cause He does it, yet we should glorify Him continually, acknowledging Him to be just and upright, and not to grudge against Him, nor fall to striving with Him, assuring ourselves that we shall always be vanquished in pleading against Him. So then, the thing that we have briefly to bear in mind in this story, is, that God has such a sovereignty over His creatures, as He may dispose of them at His pleasure: and that when He shows any rigor which we think strange at the first blush, yet notwithstanding we must hold our peace, and not grudge, but rather confess that He is righteous, and wait till He shows us wherefore he chastises us.
Job is an example of patience under God’s unfavorable Providences.
And herewithal we have to behold the patience of the man that is set here before our eyes, according as Saint James exhorts us (James 5:11). For when God shows us that we ought to bear all the miseries that He shall send upon us: we can well afford to confess that it is our duty so to do: but yet therewithal we allege our own frailty, and we bear ourselves in hand, that that ought to serve for our excuse. Wherefore it is good for us to have such examples, as show unto us how there have been other men as frail as we, who nevertheless have resisted temptations, and continued steadfastly in obedience unto God, although He has scourged them even with extremity. Thus have we here an excellent mirror. Moreover, we have to consider not only the patience of Job: but also the issue of it, as Saint James says. For had Job continued in misery: albeit that he had had more than an Angelical strength in himself, yet had that been no happy issue. But when we see he was not disappointed of his hope, and that he found grace, because he humbled himself before God: Upon the sight of such an issue we may conclude, that there is nothing better, than to submit ourselves unto God, and to suffer peaceably whatsoever He sends us, until He deliver us of His own mere goodness.
The doctrine: the spiritual temptations of Job’s friends were worse than his physical afflictions.
And herewithal (besides the story) we have to consider the doctrine comprised in this book That is to wit, concerning those that came unto Job under pretence to comfort him, and yet tormented him much more than did his own miseries: and concerning the answers that he used to repulse their checks, wherewith it seemed they would have daunted him. But first of all, as in respect of our afflictions, we have to note, that although God send them, and that they proceed from Him: yet notwithstanding the devil also stirs them up in us, according as St. Paul tells us, that we have war against the spiritual powers (Eph. 6:12). For when the devil has once kindled the fire, he has also his bellows: that is to say, he finds men that are fit to prick us always forward, both to feed the evil, and to increase it. So then we shall see how Job (besides the misery that he endured) was also tormented both by his friends and by his wife, and (above all) by such as came to tempt him spiritually. For I call it a spiritual temptation, not only when we be smitten and afflicted in our bodies: but also when the devil comes to put a toy in our head, that God is our deadly enemy, and that it is not for us to resort any more unto Him, but rather to assure ourselves, that henceforth He will not show us any mercy. See whereunto all the discourse tended which Job’s friends laid before him. It was to make him believe, that he was a man forsaken of God, and that he deceived himself in imagining that God would be merciful unto him. Surely these spiritual battles are far more harder to be born, than all the miseries and adversities that we can suffer by any persecution. And yet does God let Satan run so far upon the bridle, that he also brings his servants with him, who give us such assaults, as we see Job has endured. Mark well this for a special point.
The key to understanding the book of Job: Job had a good case that he argued poorly, and his friends had a bad case that they argued well.
But wherewithal we have further to mark, that in all this disputation, Job maintains a good case, and contrariwise his adversaries maintain an evil case. And yet it is more, that Job maintaining a good quarrel, did handle it ill, and that the other setting forth an unjust matter, did convey it well. The understanding of this, will be as a key to open unto this whole book.
Job’s case: God does not always punish men according to the measure of their sins, so he need not despair that God has cast him off.
How is it that Job maintains the good case? It is in that he knows, that God does not ever punish men according to the measure of their sins, but has His secret judgments, whereof He makes us not privy, and therefore that it behooves us to wait till he reveal unto us for what cause He does this or that. Thus is he in this whole discourse persuaded, that God does not always punish men according the measure of their sins: and thereupon assures himself, that he is not a man rejected of God, as they would make him to believe. Behold here a good and true case, notwithstanding that it be ill handled. For Job ranges here out of his bounds, and uses such excessive and outrageous talk, than in many points he seems a desperate person. And especially he so chafes, as it seems that he would even resist God. Thus may you see a good case mishandled.
The friends’ case is well argued and speaks of many right things, but ultimately they labor to cast Job into despair.
But on the contrary part, they that undertake the evil case (that is to wit, that God does always punish men according the measure of their sins) have goodly and holy sentences, and there is nothing in their whole talk which would not entice us to receive it as if the Holy Ghost Himself had uttered it. For it is plain truth: they be the grounds of religion: they treat of God’s Providence: they treat of His justice: they treat of men’s sins. Thus we see a doctrine which we must receive without gainsaying: and yet the drift of it is evil, namely for that these men labor thereby to cast Job into despair, and to drown him altogether.
Therefore we should be sure to build our cases on firm foundations.
But hereby we see, that when we have a sure ground, it behooves us to look that we build upon it in such wise, as all things be answerable thereunto according as Saint Paul says of himself, that he built well, forasmuch as he founded the Church upon the pure doctrine of Jesus Christ, and therefore that it has such a conformity in it, as those that came after him, shall not make any other foundation, either of chaff, or stubble, or of any other brittle stuff: but have a good foundation, steadfast, and substantial, ready laid to their hand. Likewise in our whole life we have to look unto this point: namely that if we be grounded upon good and rightful reason, it behooves each one of us to stand upon his guard, that he reel not, that he waver not one way or the other. For there is nothing easier than to mar a good and rightful matter, so sinful is our nature, as we find by experience at all times. God of His grace may give us a good case: and yet we may be so stung by our enemies, that we cannot hold ourselves within our bounds, nor simply follow that which God has enjoined us, without adding of some trick of our own. Seeing then that we be so easily carried away: we ought the rather to pray unto God, that when we have a good case, He Himself will vouchsafe to guide us in all singleness by His Holy Spirit, so as we may not pass the bounds, which He has set us by His word.
Let us never apply God’s truth to any evil use, as Job’s friends did.
Herewithal also we be put in mind, not to apply God’s truth to any evil use. For in so doing we dishonor it: like as these men do here, who although they speak holily (as we have shown already, and as we shall see more fully hereafter) are notwithstanding but traitors to God. For they corrupt God’s truth, and abuse it falsely, applying that thing to an evil end, which of itself is good and rightful. So then, whensoever God gives us the knowledge of His word, let us learn to receive it with such reverence, as our receiving of it may not be to deface good things, nor to set a color upon evil things, as oftentimes those that be most sharp witted and cunning, do overshoot themselves, and abuse the knowledge that God has given them, unto deceit and naughtiness, turning all things topsy-turvy, in such wise as they do nothing but ensnarl themselves. Considering therefore how all men are given to such infirmity: it stands us so much the more on hand, to pray God to give us the grace to apply His word to such use as He has ordained it: that is to wit, to pureness and simplicity. And thus you see what we ought to consider in effect.
Job lived in antiquity in a land outside of Israel, but he was well known by the Jews.
But now that we understand what is in this book: we must lay forth these matters more at length, in such sort as the things that we have but lightly touched, may be laid forth at large according to the process of the history. It is said, that There was a man in the land of Hus, named Job, a sound and upright man, and fearing God, and withdrawing himself from evil. We know not, neither can we guess in what time Job lived: saving that a man may perceive he was of great antiquity: howbeit that some of the Jews have been of opinion, that Moses was the author of this book: and that he did set it as a looking glass before the people, to the intent that the children of Abraham (of whose race he himself came) might know that God had shown favor to others that were not of the same line, and thereupon be ashamed if they themselves walked not purely in the fear of God, seeing that this man (which had not the mark of God’s covenant, nor was circumcised, but was a Pagan) had behaved himself so well. But forasmuch as this is not certain: we must leave it in suspense. Nevertheless let us take that which is out of all doubt: that is to wit, that the Holy Ghost has indicted this book, to the end that the Jews should know how God has had people to serve Him, albeit that they have not been separated out from the rest of the world: and that although they had not the sign of circumcision, yet notwithstanding they walked in all pureness of conversation. By the knowledge whereof, the Jews have had occasion to be so much the more diligent to keep the law of God: and since He had vouchsafed them such favor and prerogative, as to gather them out from among all other strange nations, they ought to dedicate themselves wholly unto Him. Also a man may perceive by the book of Ezekiel, that the name of Job was renowned among the people of Israel (Ezekiel 14). For in his fourteenth chapter we see it is said, that if Noah, Job, and Daniel were among the people that should perish, they should save no men’s lives but their own, and all the rest of the people should be destroyed. See how the Prophet speaks of these three men, as of such as were known and renowned among the Jews, as I have touched already. And thereby we see what the intent of the Holy Ghost is: namely that the Jews should have a mirror and pattern whereby to know, how they ought to keep the doctrine of salvation that was given unto them, seeing that this man which was of a strange nation, had so kept himself in such purity.
Job may have been of the Edomites, but was still a part of God’s church.
And that is the chief thing that we have to remember concerning the name that is set down here, when he says that he was of the land of Hus. True it is, that some men do place this land far eastward. Nevertheless in the fourth chapter of the Lamentations of Jeremiah, the same word Hus is put for a part of Edom. We know that the Edomites are descended of Esau: and true it is that they also had circumcision. Howbeit forasmuch as they were strayed away from God’s church, they had it no more as the sign of his covenant. Therefore if we take Job to have been of this land of Hus, then was he an Edomite, that is to say, of the line of Esau. And we know how the Prophet said, that although Jacob and Esau were natural brethren, both born at one burden: yet God of His mere goodness chose Jacob, rejecting Esau, and cursing him with all his whole lineage (Malachi 1:2, 3). Lo how the Prophet in speaking to magnify God’s mercy toward the Jews, tells them that He chose them not for any worthiness that was in their persons, considering that He had rejected Jacob’s eldest brother, to whom the birthright belonged, and had chosen him that was the younger and inferior. So then, although that this man was born of Esau’s line: yet notwithstanding we see how soundly he lived, and how he served God not only by upright conversation and equity among men: but also in pure religion, which he defiled not with the idolatries and superstitions of the infidels.
As touching the name of Job, some interpret it to signify weeping or wailing. And other some take it for an utter enemy, not such a one as he hates, but such a one as is as it were a white for men to shoot at.
Other Scripture makes it certain that Job was a real person and that these events really happened.
There is no cause why we should doubt whether this man (whose country is so marked out, and whose name is expressed) were or no, or lived or no, or whether the things that are written here, did come to pass or no: so we should think it to be but a tale contrived, as if a man should under a counterfeit name set out some thing unto us that was never done. For I have already alleged the records of Ezekiel, and also of Saint James who showed right well that there was a Job indeed. And further, seeing that the story itself declares it, we cannot in any wise deface the thing which the Holy Ghost meant to utter so precisely.
There was still more soundness in religion in the world at than time than there is now.
As for the residue, we have to mark, that in that time, although the world was fallen away from the true serving of God, and from pure Religion: yet notwithstanding there was still far more soundness by a great deal, than there is at this day, especially in the Papacy. And indeed we see, that in Abraham’s time Melchizedek had God’s church and sacrifices which were without any defilement (Genesis 14:18).
Though full of error, the world still contained some reserved by God to worship Him.
And so albeit that the more part of the world was wrapped in manifold errors, and false and wicked imaginations: yet notwithstanding, God had reserved some little seed to Himself, and He had always some that were still under the pure truth, yea and which awaited continually when God should establish His church, and choose out one people, (that is to wit the offspring of Abraham) to the end they might know that they were picked out from the rest of the whole world. But very true it is, that Job lived after this time, howbeit that the Church of God was not then so well established as it was afterward. For we know that while the children of Israel lived in Egypt, it was like that all should have come to naught. And especially we see to what an afterdeal they were come in the end when Pharaoh commanded that their menchildren should be killed (Ex. 1:16): and in the wilderness where it seemed that God had rejected them. When they were come into the country of Canaan, they had great battles against their enemies, and especially the service of God and His tabernacle were not yet there so well appointed as was requisite. God therefore having not yet settled an apparent state of the Church, would there should always remain some final seeds of it among the Pagans, to the intent he might be worshipped: and that was also to convince those that are turned aside out of the right way like Pagans: for Job alone was enough to condemn a whole country. Noah also condemned the whole world (as the Scripture says, Hebrews 11:6, 7) because he held himself always in pureness, and walked as before God, at such time as every man had forgotten Him, and all men were gone astray in their own superstitions. Here then is Noah judge of the whole world, to condemn the unbelievers and rebels. As much is to be said of Job, who has condemned all the people of that country: in that he has served God purely, and the residue were full of idolatry, shameful deeds, and many errors. And this came to pass, because they held scorn to know the true and living God, and how and after what sort it was His will to be honored. So great regard has God always had (as I have said) to make the wicked and the unbelievers always inexcusable. And for this cause it was His will, that there should always be some men that should follow the things that He had shown to the ancient fathers. Such a one was Job, as the scripture tells us, and as this present story shows full well, who served God purely, and lived uprightly among men.
Job was a sound man.
It is said, that He was a sound man. This word Sound in the scripture is taken for a plainness, when there is no point of feigning, counterfeiting, or hypocrisy in a man, but that he shows himself the same outwardly that he is inwardly, and especially when he has no starting holes to shift himself from God, but lays open his heart, and all his thoughts and affections, so as he desires nothing but to consecrate and dedicate himself wholly unto God. The said word has also been translated perfect, as well by the Greeks as by the Latins. But for as much as the word perfect, has afterward been misconstrued: it is much better for us to use the word Sound. For many ignorant persons, not knowing how the said perfection is to be taken, have thoughts thus: Behold here is a man that is called perfect, and therefore it follows, that it is possible for us to have perfection in ourselves, even during the time that we walk in this present life. But they deface the grace of God, whereof we have need continually. For even they that have lived most uprightly, must have recourse to God’s mercy: and except their sins be forgiven them, and that God uphold them, they must needs all perish. So then, although that they which have used the word perfect, have meant well: yet notwithstanding for as much as there have been some that have wrested it to a contrary sense, (as I have said) let us keep still the word Sound. Then look upon Job, who is called Sound.
Job was sound because he was not a hypocrite.
And how so? It is because there was no hypocrisy nor dissimulation, nor any doubleness of heart in him. For when the scripture means to set down the vice that is contrary to this virtue of Soundness: it says, Heart and Heart, meaning thereby a double heart. Let us mark then, that first of all this title is attributed unto Job, to show that he had a pure and simple mind, that he bare not two faces in one wood, nor served God by halves, but labored to give himself wholly unto Him. True it is that as now we cannot be so sound as to attain to the mark as were to be wished. For as touching those that follow the right way, although they go on forward limping: yet are they so lame, that they drag their legs and their wings after them. The case then stands so with us, so long as we be wrapped in this mortal body, that until such time as God has quite discharged us of all the miseries whereunto we be subject: there shall never be any perfect soundness in us, as I have said before. But yet for all that, it behooves us nevertheless to come to the said plainness, and to give over all counterfeitness and leasing. And further, let us note, that the true holiness begins within us, insomuch that if we show all the fairest countenances in the world before men, and that our life be so well guided that every man shall commend us: yet if we have not this plainness and soundness before God, all is right naught. For it behooves that the fountain be first pure, and afterward that the streams that run out of it be pure also. Otherwise the water may well be clear: and yet nevertheless be bitter, or else have some other filthy corruption in it. Therefore it behooves us to begin always with this text, That God will be served in spirit, and in truth (John 4:24): for He is a spirit, and He regards the truth of the heart, as it is said in the fifth of Jeremiah. Then ought we to learn first and foremost, to frame our hearts to the obeying of God.
Job was upright.
For after that Job has been reported to have been sound, it is also said of him that He was upright. This uprightness is meant of the life that he led, which is as it were the fruit of the said root which the Holy Ghost had planted before. Job then had an upright and sound heart. For his life was simple, that is to say, he walked and lived among his neighbors, without hurting of any person, without doing any wrong or trouble to anybody, without setting of his mind to any guile or naughtiness, and without seeking his own profit by the hindrance of other folks. We see now what this uprightness imports, which is added in this place.
We should be upright in all ways before God and men.
And hereby we be admonished, to have an agreeableness between our heart and our outward senses. True it is (as I have said before) that we may well withhold ourselves ill-doing, and that we may well have a fair show before men: but that shall be nothing, if there by any hypocrisy or covert dissimulation before God, when it comes to the root that is within the heart. What must we do then? We must begin at the foresaid point, as I have told you before: and then to have perfect soundness, it behooves that our eyes, our hands, our feet, our arms, and our legs be answering thereunto: so as in our whole life we may show that our will is to serve God, and how that it is not in vain that we pretend a meaning to keep the same soundness within. And here you may see why Saint Paul also exhorts the Galatians to walk after the Spirit, if they live after the Spirit: as if he should say (Galatians 5). Verily it behooves that the Spirit of God dwell in us and govern us. For it is of no purpose to have a gay life that pleases men, and is had in great estimation, unless we be renewed by the grace of God. But what? It behooves us to walk: that is to say, it behooves us to show in effect, and by our work, how the Spirit of God reigns in our minds. For if our hands be stained with robbery, with cruelty, or with other annoyances: if the eyes be carried with lewd and unchaste looks, with coveting other men’s goods, with pride, or with vanity: or if the feet (as the scripture says) be swift to do evil: thereby we will declare, that our heart is full of naughtiness and corruption. For it is neither the feet nor the hands, nor the eyes that guide themselves: the guiding of them comes of the mind and the heart. Wherefore let us endeavor to have the said agreeableness which the scripture shows us, when it says, that Job having this soundness and plain meaning, did also live uprightly, that is to say was conversant among his neighbors without any annoying of them, and without seeking of his own peculiar profit, and kept an even hand with all the world. Also you see the reason why God proves whether we serve Him faithfully or no: It is not for that He has need or our service, or of anything that we can do: Because that when we deal well with our neighbors, so as we keep our faithfulness toward all men, according as nature itself teaches us: in so doing we yield assurance that we fear God. We see many which bear the face of very zealous Christians, so long as it is but to dispute, and to hold long talk, and to bear men in hand that they study to serve God, and to honor Him: and yet for all that, as soon as they have to do with their neighbors, a man shall perceive what they have in their hearts. For they seek their own advantage, and make no conscience to rake to themselves, and to beguile folk when they have them in their danger, by what means so ever it be. Now then there is no doubt, but that those which seek their own advantage and profit, are hypocrites, and that their heart is corrupt: and how earnest Christians so ever they seem outwardly, God bewrays that they have nothing but dung and poison in their hearts: And why for? For look where soundness is, there must needs be uprightness also: That is to say, If the affection be pure within, then will it follow, that when we have to deal with men, we shall procure the welfare of every man, in such wise as we shall not be given to ourselves and to our private commodity, but shall have that indifference which Jesus Christ avouches to be the rule of life, and the whole sum of the law and the prophets: namely that we do not that thing to any other man, which we would not have done to ourselves. So then, we perceive that by this commendation of Job many men are condemned, forasmuch as the Holy Ghost declares, that this man had not only a soundness before God, but also an uprightness and plain dealing among men. This plain dealing which he speaks of, shall serve to give sentence of damnation upon all such as are full of maliciousness, and upon all such as pass not to snatch and rake to themselves the goods of other men, or which pass not to spoil other men of their livings. This sort of men are condemned by this present text.
Job feared God, which is necessary for being upright.
For it follows, that He feared God, yea, that he was a man which feared God, and withdrew himself from evil. Now seeing that Job had had the praise of keeping right and equity among men: it behooved him also to walk before God: for without that, the rest is nothing worth. True it is (as I have said before) that we can not live with our neighbors to do harm to none, and to do good to all: unless we have an eye unto God. For as for them that follow their own nature, albeit that they be endued with goodly virtues, (for so will it seem) yet are they overtaken with self love, and it is nothing else but vaingloriousness, or some other such respect which thrusts them forward: in so much that all the show of virtue which appeared in them is marred thereby. But although we cannot have the said uprightness without the fearing of God, yet notwithstanding, the serving of God, and the regarding of our neighbors are two several things, in likewise as God has distinguished them in His law, at such time as it pleased Him to have them written out in the two tables. Then let us bear in mind, that like as heretofore under the words uprightness, the Holy Ghost meant to show after what manner Job lived among men: so also when he says that Job feared God, he means to set out the religion that was in him. And hereby we be warned, that if we will frame our life aright, we must first have an eye unto God, and then to our neighbors. I say we must have an eye unto God, to give ourselves over unto Him, and to yield Him His due honor. And we must have an eye to our neighbors, to discharge ourselves or our duty towards them, according to that we be commanded to help them, and to live in equity and uprightness: and finally (forasmuch as God has knit us each to other) that every man study to employ his whole ability to the common commodity of all. Thus we see how the case stands with us in having of an eye both to God and men, for the well ordering of our life: for he that looks on himself, is sure that he has nothing but vanity in him. For if a man were able to order his life in such wise, as he might seem faultless to the world, and yet notwithstanding, God disliked him: what shall he gain by his overlaboring of himself to walk in such wise as all men might magnify him? As to Godward he is nothing else but uncleanness, and needs must this sentence which is written in St. Luke (16:15) be verified, namely that the thing which is most high and excellent before men, is abominable before God. Then let us bear in mind, that we can never order our life as we ought to do, except we have our eyes fastened upon God and our neighbor. Upon God? And wherefore? To the end we may know, that we be created to His glory, to serve Him and to worship Him. For although He has no need of us as our neighbors have, nor is either the better or the worse for our service: yet it is His will to have reasonable creatures which should know Him, and in knowing Him, yield Him that which belongs unto Him.
This fear of God is the respect and honor due to Him as our Creator and Father.
Furthermore, whereas he speaks of the fear of God: we have to understand, that it is not a slavish fear (as men term it): but it is so termed in respect of the honor which we owe Him, for that He is our father and master: Do we fear God? Then is it certain that we desire nothing but to honor Him and to be wholly His. Do we know Him? That must be in such wise as He has uttered Himself: that is to wit, that He is our maker, our maintainer, and one that has shown such fatherly goodness towards us, that we of duty ought to be as children towards Him, if we will not be utterly unthankful. Also it behooves us to acknowledge His dominion and superiority over us, to the end that every of us yielding Him His due honor, may learn to please Him in all respects. Thus you see, how that under this fearing of God, here is comprehended all religion: that is to wit, all the service and honor which the creature owes unto their God.
We should fear God even when we are surrounded by people who do not, and especially when we are blessed to hear His word.
And surely it was a right excellent virtue in Job to fear God after that manner, considering how the whole world was turned aside from the right way. When we hear this, we perceive that although we live among the very naughtiest packs in the whole world, we shall be utterly inexcusable, if we be not given to the serving of God as we ought to be: And this is well to be marked, because many men are of opinion, that when they are among the thorns, God will hold them acquit and excused: and that if afterward they corrupt themselves, (or as the Proverb says) hold with the Hare, and hunt with the Hound, (which is all one) God will pardon them. But contrariwise look upon Job, who is called a man that feared God. In what country? It was not in Jewry, it was not in the city of Jerusalem, it was not in the Temple: but it was in a defiled place, in the midst of such as were utterly perverted. Albeit then that he were among such people, yet had he such stay of himself, and lived in such wise, that he walked purely among his neighbors, notwithstanding that at that time all was full of cruelty, of outrage, of robbery, and of such other like enormities in that place. Whereupon we have to consider, that it shall turn so much to our great shame, if we on our behalf have not a care to keep ourselves pure in the service of God, and of our neighbors, seeing He gives us such occasion as we have, that is to wit, that God’s word is continually preached unto us, that we be exhorted unto it, and that He reforms us when we have done amiss. It stands us on hand then to give ear to that which is shown us here.
Job withdrew himself from evil.
And therefore in conclusion let us mark that which is added here in the text: namely that he withdrew himself from evil. For we see that the cause why Job overcame all let and encounters that might hinder him from the serving of God, and from living uprightly among men, was for that he had a stay of himself: for he knew right well, that if he had taken liberty to do like other men, he should have been given to all vices, so as he should have been the enemy of God. Job then walked not so in the fear of God and in such plain dealing and soundness, without great store of encounters, or without the Devils heaving at him to overthrow him and to cast him into the filthiness of the whole world: but he withdrew himself from evil, that is to say, he withheld himself.
Though surrounded by evil, we must not participate in it.
What must we do then? Although we be in the church of God, yet we see great abundance of evils, and (howsoever it happens) there shall never be such plainness and pureness, but we shall be mingled with store of scorners and unthrifts which are firebrands of hell and deadly plagues to infect all men. Therefore it behooves us to be very wary, seeing there are so many stumblingblocks and so great looseness, whereby to train us forthwith unto unthriftiness. What remedy then? Let us withdraw ourselves from evil: that is to say, let us fight against such assaults after the example of Job: and when we see abundances of vices and corruptions reign in the world, albeit that we be fain to be intermeddled with them, yet let us not be defiled with them, nor say as commonly men are wont, namely that we must needs do as other men do: but rather let us take counsel by Job’s example to withdraw ourselves from evil, and to retire in such sort, as Satan may not be able to make us to yield for all the temptations that he shall cast before us: but that we may suffer God to cleanse us from all our filthiness and infection (according as He has promised us in the name of Jesus Christ), until he has pulled us quite out of the soil and uncleanness of this world, to match us with His Angels, and to make us partakers of that endless felicity, for the which we must labor here continually.
Therefore let us present ourselves before the face of our good God, with acknowledgment of our sins, praying Him to give us such feeling, that in acknowledging our own poorness, we may always have recourse to the remedy that He gives us: which is, that He pardoning all our offenses, will so govern us by His Holy Spirit, that although Satan be named the Prince of the world, and have such a scope among men, that the more part of them are so perverted as we see: yet notwithstanding we may not be harried away with them: but rather that our good God will hold us back under His obeisance, and that we may know the thing whereunto we be called, so as we may follow it, and maintain the brotherliness which He has ordained among us, so linking ourselves one with another, as we may desire nothing but to procure the welfare of our neighbors, to the end we may be settled more and more in His grace which He has granted us by our Lord Jesus Christ, until He make us to receive the fruit of it in His heavenly glory: and that it may please Him to bestow this benefit and grace not only upon us, but also upon all people and nations of the earth: etc.