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method to invalidate, the doctrine and authority of the Christian religion ; no interpretations of the histo: ries of miracles ought to be looked upon as out of season, provided they appear neither improbable, por repugnant to the nature of the facts related.
In fine, it was not my intention to treat of every disease mentioned in holy writ ; but to confine myself more particularly to those, the nature of which is generally but little known, or at least to such as I had fome peculiar medicine for, or method of cure, to offer to the public ; and to perform this talk, in the fame order in which they occur in those facred wri. tings : excepting only Job's disease, to which I have given the first place, on account of the great antiquity of that book. The Saviour of the world, in order to make his divine power manifest to mankind, cured many other diseases, both of the body and mind, besides those which I have mentioned in this work : the nature and causes of all which diseases whosoever would intend to inquire into, must of necessity compile a body of physic, which was not my prefent de: sign. But if Providence protract my life, I am not without hopes of laying more of my thoughts on this subject before the public, for the honour which I þear to my profession, unless
Frigidus obftiterit circum præcordia fanguis. . In the mean time, whatever be the fate of these efsays with any readers, I shall rest satisfied from a consciousness of the rectitude of my intention, in having thus employed some of my hours of leisure.
'155 A COMMENTARY on the DISEASES mentioned in SCRIPTURE.
CH A P. I.
TOB's disease is rendered remarkable by some unJ common circumstances and consequences ; fuch as the dignity of the man, the sudden change of his condition, his extraordinary adversity, his incredible patience under them, his restoration to a much happier state than he had ever before enjoyed, and lastly, the singular nature of the illness with which he was seized.
His habitation was in the land of Uz, which, according to the learned Frederick Spanheim *, was fituated in the northern part of Arabia Deferta, towards the Euphrates and Mesopotamia. He was a very illustrious man, the most opulent of all the Orientals, very happy in sons and daughters, of a most upright life and exemplary piety. Now, it is related, that God, in order to try his integrity and constancy, permitted Satan to afflict him by all means which he could devise, except the taking away of his life. “In pur“ suance of this permission, Satan brought the most “ dreadful calamities on him : for all his oxen and “ asses were driven away by the Sabeans; leis sheep “ and servants were consumed by fire from heaven ;
* Hiftor. Jobi, cap. iv.
extremely pre depth of
a mock to
“ his camels were carried off ; his sons and daugh" ters were crushed to death by the falling in of the “ house upon them in a violent storm of wind; and “ foon after he himself was afflicted, with scabs and “ foul ulcers all over his body ; so that he fat down “ among the ashes, and scraped himself with a pot" sherd.” Thus from a very rich man he became extremely poor, and from the height af prosperity he funk into the depth of misery. And yet all these e. vils did not give the least Tock to his firmness of mind, nor to his piety towards God *: wherefore the Lord, moved by his prayers, put an end to all his calamities; gave him twice as much wealth as he had lost, and made him more prosperous than he had ever been before t.
Now, the book of Job may justly be esteemed the most ancient of all books, of which we have any certain account; for some are of opinion that it was written in the times of the patriarchs; many others, that it was composed about the days of Mofes, and even by Mofes himself ; and there are but few who think it posteriour to him . For my part, I embrace the learned Lightfoot's opinion, that it was composed by Elihu, one of Job's companions, chiefly be. cause he therein speaks of himself as of the writer of this history ll; and if so, it will appear to be older than the days of Moses. However this be, it is most certain that this book carries with it manifest tokens of very great antiquity; the most material of which * See Job, chap. i. and ii. + Ibid. chap. xlii.
See Spanheim's learned dissertation on this subject in the book above quoted, chap. viii. and ix. His works, tom. i. p. 24.
seem to be these. In it there is not the least mention made of the departure of the Ifraelites out of Egypt, of Moses, or the Mofaic law. After the manner of the patriarchs, Job, as the head of his family, offered facrifices in his own private house, for the sins of his children *. When he declares his integrity, he Scarcely mentions any other idolatry, but that most ancient one, the worship of the fun and moon t, which we know to be very old, and to have first obtained among the neighbouring Chaldeans and Phcenicians. In fine, his own age protracted far beyond the life of man in Moses's time, is a proof of its antiquity, for he lived a hundred and forty years after an end had been put to his calamities ; so that it is reafonable to believe that he lived above two hundred years in all. For that he was aged when his misfortunes crouded on him, may be hence inferred, that, although his three friends are styled old men f, yet, in his disputes with them, he does not seem to ho. nour them for their age, as Elihu does. To avoid prolixity, I join with Spanheim in opinion, that Job's time coincides with the bondage of the children of If rael in Egypt, fo as to be neither posteriour to their quitting that country, nor anteriour to their entering
But there subsists a dispute of a different nature between very grave authors, and that is, whether this narrative be a fable or a true history : if I were allowed to interpose my opinion, I would say, that it is not a parable invented by FOTÚTWOIS, but a dramatic poem composed upon a true history; and per
* Job, chap. i. ver. 5. Ibid. chap. xxxi. ver. 26. 27. .. I Job, chap. xxxii, ver. 6.
haps haps with this design, that, from the example of this illustrious and upright, yet afflicted and most miserable man, the people of Israel might learn to bear with patience, all those evils and hardships, which they were daily suffering in their Egyptian captivity. That this book is metrical, as well as David's Pfalms, the Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Solomon's Song, is generally allowed : and the persons of the drama are God, Satan, Job, and his wife, his three friends, and Elihu. Wherefore it is, says Grotius, a real fact, but poetically handled * Poetry was certainly a very ancient manner of writing, and poets were wont to embellish true histories in their own way, as we see in the most ancient among the Greeks and Romans. And among the Hebrews likewise, long after the time above mentioned, Ezekiel comprised the history of the departure out of Egypt in a dramatic poem, upon which account he is called, by Clemens Alexandrinus, the poet of Judaic tragedies f. Nor indeed, in my opinion, can there be found, in this kind of writing, any thing more admirable, and better adapted to move the paffions than this piece ; whether we regard the fublimity and elegance of style, the description of natural things, or, in fine, the propriety of the characters afcribed to all the persons concerned in it: all which circumstances are of the greatest moment in a dramatic performance.