Here is the continuation of my work of transcribing John Calvin's Sermons on Job from the 1574 English translation into modern spelling, with my own summary statements in italics.
The Second Sermon upon the first Chapter.
2. And he had seven sons born unto him, and three daughters.
3. And he had a great substance of Cattle: to wit, seven thousand Sheep, three thousand Camels, five hundred yoke of Oxen, five hundred she-Asses, and a great household insomuch that he surmounted all them of the East.
4. And his Sons went and made feasts at their houses, every man his day, and they called their three Sisters also to eat and drink with them.
5. When they had made an end of the feasting, Job sent for his children and sanctified them: and rising up betimes in the morning, offered sacrifices according to the number of them: for he said, It may be that my children have sinned, and have not blessed the Lord in their hearts. And thus did Job every day.
(There were born to him seven sons and three daughters. He possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, and 500 female donkeys, and very many servants, so that this man was the greatest of all the people of the east. His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually. Job 1:2-5, ESV)
Review: like Job, we should walk in singleness of heart, fear God, and withdraw ourselves from evil.
Yesterday we heard the praise which the Holy Ghost gave unto Job, not so much for himself as for our instruction, to the end we should know how we ought to rule our life: namely that we walk in singleness of heart, so as there be no piece of counterfeitness in us, and that therewithal our works also may yield witness of the same singleness. And moreover, that we fear God, knowing how it is He to whom we must refer our whole life, and that His honor is the thing that we must give ourselves unto. And further, that forasmuch as we be continually beset with many stumblingblocks, and the Devil practices to thrust us out of the right way: we should stand upon our guard to withdraw ourselves from evil, and to recover ourselves unto God, until such time as we be quite dispatched from all the defilements of the world by death.
Job was incredibly rich, yet when he lost all he did not act as if he had lost much.
And now it ensues in the text, That Job was an exceeding rich man: and a great part of his possessions is especially recited to us here. It is no small thing to have Seven thousand head of small Cattle, five hundred yoke of Oxen, as many she-Asses, and as many Camels. Lo here a great substance for one man. And therefore it is said, He surmounted all them of the East. But anon we shall see wherefore this is rehearsed unto us. For his patience was so much the more praiseworthy, for that he being bereft of so great goods, and brought to extreme poverty, did notwithstanding continue quiet, as if he had lost little or nothing: See then how God has so much the better tried him.
Job did not let his riches keep him from serving God with a singleness of heart.
But herewithall we have to consider, what a virtuous mind was in Job, seeing his riches had not blinded him with pride, nor caused him to set so much by the world, or to discharge himself of the serving of God, as we commonly see that many men by reason of their great riches, become so lofty, that it is impossible to tame them, abusing their credit to the oppressing of poor folk: and besides that they be full of cruelty, they be also stately and full of pomp: So that riches are accompanied with many inconveniences. Therefore it is not in vain that it is told us here, that Job being so rich, had nevertheless always persisted in the serving of God, and held himself in the said singleness whereof mention is made here.
A warning to the rich: do not trust in your riches.
For by his example the rich men of this world are warned of their duty, which is, to take good heed that when God has put abundance into their hands, they be not entangled by them, according also as the Psalm exhorts them. And further (according as Saint Paul speaks to Timothy in 1 Timothy 6:17) that they be not puffed up with pride, nor put their trust in the transitory things of this world, wherein there is no certainty: for he that is rich today, may become poor by tomorrow, whensoever it pleases God. So then, seeing that the goods of this world are fickle, and that we may soon be bereft of them: rich men (says Saint Paul) ought to take good heed, that they rest not themselves upon them, nor make an idol of them, as though they were sure to possess them, and enjoy them ever, but must be ready to yield them up. And to be short (according as it is said in 1 Corinthians 7:29) such as have fields and vineyards, meadows and corn ground, money and wares, must have a care to use them in such sort, as if they had none at all, so as they may be poor in heart.
Job serves as an example to condemn all rich men who do not serve God. Though it may seem hard for a rich man to serve God, Job proves that it can be done.
Thus then we see what we have to note upon this sentence. For lest any man might allege, that it is very hard to behave himself so purely in the midst of so great riches, considering how Christ himself calls them thorns (Matthew 13:22): therefore the example of Job shall condemn all such as keep not themselves undefiled, how hardly soever it be to be done. It is very certain, that a rich man shall have more ado to walk in the fear of God, than shall a poor man.
Poverty also has temptations, such as murmuring against God and doubting Him.
And true it is also, that poverty of itself brings store of temptations. For when a man is in necessity, he falls to thinking in himself, what shall become of me? And the Devil thrusts him forward to distrust. Hereupon he shall be induced to murmur against God, according as we see that many fall into a rage, and it seems to them that God does them wrong, and they wot not on which side to turn themselves: whereupon they conclude thus: Since I cannot get my living by my labor without doing other men wrong: I must take another way to the wood. Hereupon they take leave to rob and reeve, and they do many shrewd turns, harms and damages to their neighbors. Behold (I pray you) the temptations which poverty brings.
Nevertheless, the rich face greater temptations.
But if a man make comparison between it and riches: it is certain that the richer sort have far greater assaults, forasmuch as Satan is ever at their elbow, to blindfold their eyes, to the end they should overshoot themselves, and forgetting their state, lift up themselves against God, tie themselves wholly to the world, make a mock of the heavenly life, bear themselves in hand that nothing can hurt them, abuse their credit in sundry wise, have regard of nothing, be loathe to bear any yoke, be unwilling to yield to any reason, and think all other men too base to be in their company, in so much that if it were possible for them, they would pluck away the light of the Sun from the poor, so that finally they bear themselves in hand, that they deserve of good right to be shoaled out, and to be set aside, as it were on a row by themselves.
There is no excuse for the rich to be corrupted, because Job stayed pure.
We see now the corruptions and other infinite miseries that riches bring: and yet there is no excuse for them that be rich. Wherefore? For here shall Job be made their judge before God, forasmuch as he was not corrupted nor perverted by the great abundance and quantity of goods that he had, but always served God in singleness of heart.
If the rich, whose temptations are so much the greater than that of the poor, are inexcusable, so are the poor also inexcusable.
But if the rich men be made inexcusable: let the poorer sort also look well to themselves. For I have told you already: that it is easier for a man to walk simply, to whom GOD has not given so great abundance, than for such as have a great range. The case is like as if a man were in some little boat and in some small river. It is like enough that he might be tossed, and it is like enough that he might rush against some stub, or against some bank of the river: but he is not in such danger, as he that is in a ship on the midst of the sea, where the waves and storms are far more violent. Even so (say I) stands the case between the poor and the rich. For surely so long as woe be in this world, we row upon the water, where we may be tossed with tempests, and rush against some thing, and evermore be in danger. Thus are the poor as it were on a little river: but the rich are as it were on the midst of the sea, so as they hardly can escape sinking in some whirlpool or another. Now then if there be no excuse for the rich sort: what shall become of those to whom God gives the mean to hold themselves in simplicity? We see therefore that here is a general lesson to serve for all men, as well great as small, and that it behooves each man to benefit himself by the example that is set here before our eyes.
Riches are not evil in and of themselves, but our own inner corruption causes us to abuse riches.
But yet herewithall the virtue of Job is right commendable: for we hear the judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ, how it is right hard for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Not for that riches do of themselves hinder us from serving God as I have said: but it happens through our naughtiness and corruption, that where as it becomes us to take occasion to be drawn unto God by the benefits which he bestows upon us, we be the further drawn back from him. Wherefore we see that Job was a man of wonderful virtue: seeing that in the midst of such riches, he had not his eyes blindfolded to conceive any pride in his heart, so as he should tread other folks under his feet, or forget God, or become a dissolute, vain, and pompous person: but held on his race which he had begun. Lo here the virtue that was commendable in him. And this is done, to the end that if we cannot attain to be full equal with him, yet every one of us should look to himself and go on forward to the mark that is set before him.
We should not condemn riches; to do so would be to condemn God, who gives riches.
Furthermore we see also, that riches of themselves are not to be condemned, as some fantastical persons surmise, who hold opinion, that a rich man cannot be a Christian. For let them find me any of the poor that may be compared to Job in this virtue, and then let them condemn riches. But when a man shall have sought throughout all the poor men in the world: hardly shall he find one that shall come anything near this man. Seeing then that the case is so, let us mark that riches of themselves and of their own nature are not to be condemned, and especially that it is a great blasphemy against God, if a man find such fault with riches, that he thinks the party which possesses them, to be utterly marred. For from whence come riches but from God? Therefore when a man condemns them, he sets himself against God.
A mightier work of God is needed in saving a rich man than in a poor man.
And further, it behooves us to mark, that God must needs work far more marvelously in a rich man than in a poor man, as I have said before. For I have already shown the difficulty that a man has to maintain himself in simplicity and uprightness, when he has abundance of goods. Then had God need to utter a singular force of his Holy Spirit to preserve rich men from corrupting of themselves. But if a man despise such a grace of God, does he not lift up himself against God?
God saves both the poor and the rich.
Hereby then we be warned, not to condemn riches in themselves, like also as we see how our Lord Jesus Christ has shown us, by matching the poor and the rich together in the kingdom of heaven, when he speaks of Lazarus in Saint Luke 16:19 ff. He says there, that the Angels carried Lazarus: For albeit that he was an outcast among men, and a poor creature of whom no account was made, insomuch that he was forsaken of all men: yet nevertheless behold how the Angels carry his soul into Abraham’s bosom. And what was this Abraham? A man rich both in cattle and in money, and in household (Genesis 13:6, 24:45), and in all other things saving houses and lands, for those were not lawful for him to have, because it behooved him to tarry God’s leisure, till he gave him the land of Canaan to inherit (Acts 7:5). True it is, that he purchased a burying place, but he had not any inheritance, notwithstanding that his movables were very great. Therefore when we see the soul of Lazarus carried by Angels into the bosom of Abraham, who is the father of the faithful: we perceive that God of his infinite grace and goodness calls both rich and poor to salvation. And unto this purpose makes that also which St. Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:4: namely that God will have all men to be saved. For he speaks of kings and princes, who of ordinary do misbehave themselves in their greatness, and cannot find in their hearts to stoop unto God: yea it seems to themselves that they be no mortal men: and yet God picks out some of them to himself, and will not have all to be lost and to perish. Thus you see what we have to mark. Yet for all this, the rich men must not flatter themselves, but rather know how they stand as it were upon ice, where they may soon slide, and that they be as it were among thorns, so as it behooves them to look diligently to themselves for being pricked. Lo how each one of us ought to be touched with carefulness to commend ourselves unto God, that we may walk according to his will.
Given all that Job had and lost, his patience is especially remarkable.
And upon this saying, That Job had seven sons, and three daughters, I note how it does us to wit, that God had sent his blessing upon him, to make him prosper by all means. And (as I have touched heretofore) we shall hereafter better see the cause why all this is expressed, and the intent of the Holy Ghost: that is to wit, that it was an incomparable virtue in Job, to bear patiently God’s taking away of all the things which he had put into his hand.
God righteously causes whatever happens according to His good pleasure.
And it is very well declared also, how his children behaved themselves, and how he himself also on his part governed them in the fear of God. And this is done to the end that we should understand, that when God afflicts us, he shows by effect, that he can dispose of his creatures at his own pleasure, and that although we be at our wit’s end, and see not the reason why God handles men so roughly: yet it becomes us to cast down our eyes, and to confess that He is righteous, and to wait His leisure, until He discovers unto us the cause why He disposes things so.
Though most people do not love their brothers as they should, Job’s children serve as a Godly example of brotherly love.
But now let us proceed with that which is rehearsed to us here. It is said, That Job’s children feasted one another day by day, every one in his turn, and that they called their sisters to bear them company. True it is, that nature may well stir up brethren to love one another: but yet are men become so evil, as there be very few that consider what brotherhood imports. For the proof hereof we shall see many brethren that agree like cats and dogs. They be brethren, and yet for all that, they cease not to spite and malice one another, as if one of them would eat another. We see then by such (according as men grow out of kind into cruelty) that brethren are acquainted with concord and lovingness: and although it be not so with all of them: yet is every man so addicted to himself, as there be very few that love one another in such wise as God teaches. Thus does the Holy Ghost set a looking glass before our eyes, to make us to behold the good agreement and love that was among Job’s children, and especially how they exercised themselves continually therein, to the end they would not give any occasion of evil mistrust one to another. For the feasts that they made, were to none other end, but to yield record of their brotherliness and agreement. And see how it is said precisely, that they went to seek their sisters, to the intent that their friendship might utter itself in all points.
Job knew that man’s nature tended to taint even his good deeds with evil, so he feared that his children might accidentally offend God in their otherwise innocent feasts.
Behold here a great virtue. Albeit a man may perceive that Job feared not that there was any fault in the thing that was ordained for a good purpose, and to a good end: yet nevertheless we see how he thought in himself even then that God might be offended in it. Surely this is a very notable example.
Brotherly fellowship is commended by God as a good thing.
And out of all doubt, good agreement and friendship among men, and especially among brethren, is as pleasant a thing unto God as any can be. We hear how it is said in the Psalm (133): It is a joyful thing when brethren agree in one: It is like the dew that falls down to give nourishment to the ground, and like the oil that drops down from Aaron’s beard, so as the scent of it was shed out over all his raiment. Lo what two similitudes here be to show how God loves peace and amity among men, and above all things among brethren. They do us to understand, that when men embrace one another with hearty love, it is all one as when the fields and herbs receive nourishment by the dew of heaven: and also that it is a thing that yields a very sweet savor before God, as a good and acceptable sacrifice unto Him, even like the scent of the holy oil that was poured upon Aaron’s head.
Out of the corruption of our hearts, even our good deeds are tainted with evil.
Neverthelater: this is spoken of such as embrace one another after a godly manner. For it may well be, that wicked men shall bear an affection of love one towards another, and they may peradventure link themselves together to accomplish their appointments: but all this is naught: friendship must come from God, and go to God. And mark here how the name of brotherhood is set down, to the end we should be taught to lift up our eyes unto God, and to look unto Him as oft as there is any question of loving one another. Furthermore we see here, that the best things in the world may soon be corrupted by the naughtiness of men: and hereby we see also what our nature is, ever since Adam sinned: that is to say, that ever since he overshot himself: hitherto good has been turned into evil, notwithstanding that our intent or meaning be good. As for example: When a husband loves his wife, or when a father loves his children, they be good, holy, and commendable things: and yet nevertheless there is not a man to be found in the whole world that loves his wife in such measure, as nothing may be found fault with in his love. Or that loves his children with so pure and hearty love: but that there shall always be some medley of corruption. And why so? For seeing that God has ordained, that the man shall love his wife, and that it is precisely said, Love your wives as your own bodies (Eph. 6, Col. 3:19, 1 Pet. 3:7): shall their so doing be imputed to them for a fault? Can the good be turned into evil? Doubtless that comes of our cursed nature: like as one grain of salt, or one drop of vinegar fails not to mar a great deal of wine: Even so is it with men, for holding themselves in measure, they have not their affections so well ruled, as there may no fault be found in them, or not to be condemned in many respects.
Therefore, it is not strange that Job should fear that his children may be sinning.
Then is it no strange case, that Job thought in himself, that his children might have offended God in the thing that of itself was good and commendable. Not for that he condemned the feasting of brethren together, especially since their making of good cheer one with another, was to maintain themselves in mutual amity. That was not the thing that Job found fault with: But forasmuch as he was thoroughly acquainted with man’s infirmity: he knew it was very hard to keep measure, so as no vice should be intermeddled with it by the way. And therefore he took good heed to himself, and sanctified his children.
There is always some disorder in even good feasts. Even the best men can get carried away with eating and drinking, etc.
But yet nevertheless we have further to note, that Job had well marked and born away the thing, which experience shows unto us: namely that in all feasts and banquets there is some disorder, wherethrough God is not so well honored as he ought to be. First of all, in such meetings there will be always some superfluity of meats, and they that come thither, do for company sake eat and drink more than their ordinary. And hardly could a man think of the excess that is there: in so much that even the holiest men that fear God best, are overseen there. True it is that they play not the gluttons in stuffing of the paunch, nor in cramming themselves like swine, and much less will they be so drunken as to be out of their wits like beasts: no not so: but so much may be done as they may somewhat pass measure. And how so? For we see that a man overshoots himself in that case ere he be aware. So then we see that some inconvenience happens in feasts, notwithstanding that they be made for a good cause, and that the intent as well of him that bids his friends, as of those that come to keep him company, be good. For hardly can it be escaped, but that there shall be some fault, whereof the very doer himself shall not be privy. And furthermore when a man is there, what a deal of vain and fond talk shall he have to hold him withal? Where a man ought to eat as in the presence of God, and to be merry as it were with the Angels: there shall be store of vanities, which shall carry men in such wise, as many of them (yea even of the good men themselves) shall think, that they make no good cheer, except they disguise themselves I can not tell how: There are yet many other evil inconveniences, whereby we see that God is offended divers ways, according as men find in themselves afterward. So then, let us mark well, that Job did not without cause mistrust and doubt lest his children had sinned against God, seeing they made feasts in such wise, notwithstanding that they were of the faithful sort, as I have said before.
If sin (albeit usually unintentional) is found in even the godliest of feasts, then how utter sinful are the feasts of those who care not for God.
Now if it so be, that where feasts and banquets are best ruled, yet there is some fault that God dislikes: how is it with them that drive God out of their company, and from their table, as men are commonly wont to do? For if we shall speak of feasting: whereat do men begin? At calling upon the name of God? Nay, that would be thought too sad a matter. Therefore the name of God must be buried. Has a man well sufficed his appetite? Then is it no time to say grace. For it behooves them to remember the good cheer that they have made, that is to say, that they be swine. For if a man make mention of God, it will be thought, that all the pleasure which they have taken in their feasting, is turned into sorrow. And afterward all must run riot, in such sort as there shall be no talk, but of ribaldry and wantonness, or rather of treachery and malice, so as there shall be none other news, but of backbiting their neighbor, and of practicing devises against this man or that man. See what banqueting breeds. Now then since that men are so inclined to vice, it is not possible but there must be some fault, notwithstanding that they give not themselves the bridle in all points. I pray you then, must it not needs be as it were a gulf of hell, where they meet together to make compacts of wickedness and treason?
We should always ask God for forgiveness for unintentional sins that we may not know about, but this does not mean that everything we do is sinful.
Therefore let us mark well this sentence, to the end that since we know men to be so much inclined to vices, that they mar the thing that is good, and turn it into evil: we may take the more heed to ourselves, that when we eat and drink one with another, we confess ourselves always sinners, for offending God thereby. True it is indeed, that we must not be scrupulous and superstitious, as some be which eat not a bit of bread with quietness of conscience: If a man tell them, that they ought to advise themselves what they do: thereupon they conclude that men can neither eat nor drink without offending God. And when they are once come to such scrupulousness, as to think that they sin in all things that they do: they fall to concluding: Well, then let us set all at random: I say, there are such as these to be found. But this is not as we ought to do, this is not as the Scripture leads us. Therefore let us wake and keep sure watch, that we be not taken unawares. When we be set at the table to drink and to eat, let us pray unto God, beseeching Him of His gracious goodness, to keep us in such sobriety, that being nourished by His gifts, we may be the better disposed to serve Him: so as our meats may not serve to overcharge us, but to sustain us, and to give us strength, that we may be the better able to occupy our selves in the service of our God. And that He will grant us the grace so to pass through these corruptible things, as we may always labor for the heavenly life, whereunto He calls us by His word. For God maintains us not in this world to live for a day, or for ten, or for fifty years: but to the intent we should come to the said heavenly glory.
When we eat, we should eat as if God were feeding us, and so do all to the glory of God.
Let us then consider how we ought to behave ourselves: and when we be at the table, let us feed for our repast in such wise, as if God Himself dieted us. And although we be in this world taking our nourishment of the food that we know: let us look up unto God, Who shows Himself a father towards us, and has witnessed unto us that we be His children, in so much as He hath a care of these our poor bodies here, and will have His love extend even unto them, notwithstanding that they be but rottenness. Therefore when we see that God does so nourish and sustain us, we may be the merrier and the better assured of His goodness and fatherly love towards us. And hereby we see why St Paul says, that whither we drink or whither we eat, we must do it altogether in the name of God (1 Cor. 10:31, Coloss. 3:17). There are many which suppose that there should be no thinking upon God when men come to eating and drinking: whereas in very deed we should therefore think so much the more of God. Seeing that God gives such virtue unto bread by His word, that we be sustained by it, will He not have us to acknowledge His presence, and how He hath His hand stretched out over us? So then is it rather a cause that we should think the more upon God. For we see that our eating and drinking are sanctified by yielding all honor to His name (1 Tim. 4:5). And therefore when it comes to saying of grace, let us acknowledge that some fault may have escaped us: and then will God surely forgive us all our misdoing, if so be that we repair unto Him.
Job asked for forgiveness for his children out of faith that God would be merciful to him and his children.
Thus you see the cause why it is said here precisely, that when Job’s children had made an end of feasting each other by turns, Job commanded them to sanctify themselves, and afterward offered a solemn sacrifice for each one of them, saying: It may be that my children have sinned, and that they have not blessed God. But we will speak of this whole matter in the end. We see then that Job was none of that sort, which after they have made niceness for a while, do finally conclude to set all at random. But he goes to the remedy: that is to say, that God will bear with us in our infirmities. Albeit (says he) that my children have not done their duty in all points: yet am I sure that God will have pity both upon them and upon me. And therefore let us ask Him forgiveness.
Job’s sacrifices for his children reveal that his children were not intentionally sinning, for it would have been an abuse of God’s name to continually make sacrifices for continual intentional sins.
But yet for all this, Job forbade not his children use their accustomed feasting: And wherefore? For the thing of itself was good, as I have said before. If Job had said, I see here a lewd matter: truly he had not made sacrifice: for that had been to abuse God’s name, and to make it a cloak of evil. Sacrifices were not ordained to maintain us in evil, nor that any man should flatter himself in his sins, so as he should say, I may do sacrifice and then God will be contented. Job therefore sacrificed not to have it said that he maintained an evil thing: but he knew that his children did well in giving such entertainment one to another, and that it was a commendable thing so to do. Forasmuch as he knew that, he meant not to find fault with the thing that was good, but sought for the remedy, that if any fault lay hid under it, it might please God to amend it: as if he should say, Of good reason ought we to crave pardon at God’s hand, to the end He may supply our infirmity. We see then after what manner Job proceeds here, and also after what manner we must proceed.
Job raised his children to serve God.
And furthermore let us mark, that Job in commanding his children to sanctify themselves, has shown the manner of the bringing up which he gave them in their childhood, that is to wit, to serve God. If it had been simply said, that Job had sanctified the Lord: a man might say, Very well, he was a good man for his own behalf, but he had no great regard of his children: he did enough for the discharging of himself to Godward, but he has laid the bridle in the neck of others. But contrarily it is said, that he commanded them to sanctify themselves: which thing it had been in vain and unavailable for him to do, had they not been taught long before how they ought to walk in the fear of God. And although they were as then grown men, and every of them had a house of his own, and kept a table by himself; Yet notwithstanding, Job ceased not to keep them continually under some awe.
All parents should raise their children to serve and honor God, even after they are grown.
Behold here a doctrine very profitable for us, which is, that parents must so guide their children, as God may be honored of them all. And it behooves us to mark this doctrine the better, forasmuch as we see it is so ill put in use. For in these days they that have children, could well find in their hearts to have them taught: but hardly shall you find one among a hundred, that is led with a zeal and affection to Godward. How are they led then? Every man minds his own profit. He may well say, I would fain have my son taught: but what? That if he be of a good wit, he may come forward, that he may make himself brave, that he may gather goods, that he may come to credit and honor. Lo here the respects that fathers have in their desire to have their children brought up. But where is there a man to be found so well advised or bent to such simplicity, as to say, It is enough for me that my child serve God, for I am sure that God will bless him, and make him to prosper, and although he be poor to the worldward, it is enough for me that God is his father? And God also will render such rewards unto the fathers, as they have deserved. For they imagine that they have done very much for their children, when they have advanced them: and God suffers their children to put out their eyes, and to be as hangmen to torment them. We see it to be so before our eyes: and yet they perceive not how it is God that chastises them, and that justly. And therefore so much the more behooves it us to mark well the doctrine which the Holy Ghost shows us here under the example of Job, that is to wit, that fathers and mothers should hold their children in such awe, as they may cause them to serve God. And especially this circumstance is not to be forgotten: namely, that although Job’s children were grown to full years of discretion: yet nevertheless their father held them always as it were under awe, warning them to ask forgiveness of God when they had offended Him, and to purify themselves.
In order to raise Godly children, we must be godly parents.
But nowadays as soon as children be ten years old, by and by they think themselves men: when notwithstanding it were meet to give them the rod fifteen years after that they wear the furniture of a man, and seem to themselves to be marvelous fellows, for they be no better but silly offscourings: and as for to suffer any correction or any instruction, it is very strange with them: yea they would think they had great wrong and injury offered them. Contrariwise we see what is said here. But what? The fathers are worthy to have their children disobedient and stubborn against them, why so? For meet it is that he which will be honored should be honorable: that is to wit, it is requisite that he should show cause why to be honored. How then shall a father purchase himself authority towards his children, to be obeyed of them to keep them in fear? Even by having such a gravity and staidness in himself, as his children ought to be ashamed to gainsay him or to stand against him in any thing. But if the fathers shake off the fear of God: how can it be that their children should obey them, since that they themselves yield not God the honor that belongs unto Him? Lo here the cause why children show themselves so loathe to be corrected, and why they cannot be kept in awe: namely for that their fathers are disobedient unto God. And so it is, that both the fathers and the children are condemned here: the fathers for their negligence in not taking heed to bring up their children in the fear of God, and the children for not suffering themselves to be governed by their fathers.
Job’s children are good examples of those who still live under their parents’ guidance even after they are grown.
And here they have a goodly example: for it is spoken of such as may say, My father hath held me in awe as long as I was young, and yet must I still be always under the rod? Job’s children might have said so. But we see that although they be come to have households of their own: yet are they still under the governance of their father: for in the text it is not said that they gainsaid any thing that he commanded them, as it is reported of the children of Hely (1 Sam. 2:25): but rather that they obeyed him to the end they might be partakers of the sacrifices which he offered for them. This that we hear then, is enough to condemn all these petty roisters, which make such a bravery, and carry their crest so high. They know not what this awfulness in any wise means: they are but offscourings, and yet nevertheless they will bear the countenance of men. But we see here how those that are of age and discretion to guide a household orderly, be held still under the government and obedience of their fathers.
Job offered sacrifices that God commanded to all men, even before the writing of the Mosaic law, so purify us to enter His presence.
Furthermore as concerning this word Sacrifice, it is meant according to the ordinary custom of the law, whereby, (to the intent a man might be partaker of the sacrifices) it behooved him to be purified, that he might be duly disposed thereunto. And albeit that Job was not of the country where the law of Moses was written, but rather (by all likelihood) was before Moses was born: yet notwithstanding it hath always been a custom among the faithful, that when they should sacrifice unto God, they had some sign of cleansing, that is to wit, of purging themselves from the filthiness wherewith they had been imbrued and defiled. And this was not invented by man: we must not think all this to have been devised as a trifling toy by men: but it was God’s will it should be so. And wherefore? For his meaning was to put men in remembrance, that they are not worthy to approach unto Him.
Though we do now have the ceremonial sacrifices any more, we still need to come to God purified by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
When we come unto God, it behooves us to acknowledge our own poorness, and to be ashamed of it and to say: How dare I press before the majesty of my God? What favor shall I find there? God’s will is to have this known in all ages: and now although we have not the said Ceremony of cleansing ourselves: yet it behooves us to have the meaning of it in us: that is to wit, that at all times, and as oft as we come unto God to make our prayers and petitions unto Him, we must acknowledge that we be unworthy, saving that we know the mean whereby He receives us, that is to wit, to cleanse ourselves by believing in our Lord Jesus Christ, knowing that He is the only washing whereby all our spots may be made clean. Will we then be acceptable unto God? It behooves us to attain to it by the means of our Lord Jesus Christ, shrouding us under the grace which He hath purchased us by His death and Passion, as Who is the full perfection and accomplishment of the things that have been given forth in old time in figures and shadows.
Therefore let us cast ourselves flat before the face of our good God, with acknowledgement of our offences, beseeching Him to make us know better what we have left undone: and that as long as we live in this corruptible world, we acknowledging ourselves to be wrapped in many sins, may resist the temptations of our flesh, and buckle ourselves to battle against all things that may turn us aside from the obeying of our God. And although we fail in diverse sorts, yet nevertheless let us pray that we may walk in such soundness before Him, as we may desire nothing but to dedicate ourselves wholly unto Him, and that it may please Him to accept the service that we offer unto Him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, notwithstanding that it be imperfect, until such time as His glory shall shine fully in us. That it may please Him to bestow His benefit and grace, not only upon us, but also upon all people and Nations of the Earth: etc.