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There is a philosophy called Utilitarianism : the popular though crude expression of which is found in the phrase, Be virtuous and you will be happy. The Book of Job brings this philosophy to the test of life: he is virtuous and he is not happy. There is a philosophy called Naturalism : it assumes that neither is there any divine revelation nor any need
The Book of Job brings this philosophy to the test of life : in sorrow the light of nature proves to be a great darkness. There is a philosophy called Agnosticism : it assumes that God and the future life must remain forever unknown to us. The Book of Job does not answer this philosophy ; but it interprets the anguish of the soul in this ignorance by the cry, “ Oh that I knew where I might find him!” Centuries must pass before the Great Unknown of the captivity will bring his message to Israel that only by the Suffering Ser. vant of Jehovah can Israel be saved ; more centuries, before the Nazarene will take up his cross and bid his followers take up theirs and enter into glory through crucifixion ; before his great Apostle will declare that he glories in tribulation also ; before his beloved disciple will give the world the vision of the saints of God redeemed and redeeming by means of great tribulation ; and many more centuries, it seems, must pass before the world can understand the lesson, learned so slowly and with such difficulty, that suffering is not punitive but redemptive. “In the world,” said Christ, "ye shall have tribulation : but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” 1 In the book of Job we see the tribulation of an honest heart uncheered by this promise of victory. “I am persuaded,” said Paul, “ that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate me from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” 2 In the Book of Job we see the devout and honest soul struggling to hold fast to the love of God which life is trying to wrest from him, and which has not been authenticated to him by the love and life and death of Jesus Christ.
For in the Book of Job the problem of the ages is portrayed in microcosm; the problem of suffering as it has presented itself in all ages to sincere souls, conscious of their innocence and not conscious of that call to service through sacrifice which the life and passion of Jesus Christ has made vocal to all the world. In this ancient drama the spiritual tragedy of all the ages is interpreted. In it is the audacious challenge to life of a William Ernest Henley:
“ In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud ;
My head is bloody, but unbowed.” 8 In it is the pathetic counter-pleading against life of a Matthew Arnold :
1 John xyi. 33.
2 Rom. vii. 38, 39. 8
Life and Death (Echoes), iv.
“Let us be true
Where ignorant armies clash by night.” 1
“Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be :
“ We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see ;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness : let it grow.” 2 “ We cannot know:” this is the conclusion of the Book of Job; let us be humble and patient, do our duty, be true to one another, and wait for the solution of life's mystery. Let us realize that character, not happiness, is the end of life, and that if we do not serve God for naught we do not serve him at all. Let us not aggravate the sufferings of life by predicating their injustice ; nor sacrifice our loyalty to truth in our endeavor to prove that loyalty to God is reasonable.
1 Dover Beach; Poenis, 211. 2 In Memoriam.
A SCHOOL OF ETHICAL PHILOSOPHY
MORAL teachers may be divided into three classes, which may be respectively termed the empirical, the legal, and the prophetic. The empirical teacher observes life, and from his observations deduces certain moral maxims. He perceives that certain courses of conduct produce happiness, — these he calls right; certain other courses of conduct produce pain, - these he calls wrong. .
He measures conduct by its results, and deduces the principles of moral action from his observation of such results. These principles find their most common and popular expression in such maxims as “ Honesty is the best policy ;” they are based upon experience and observation ; they are often, though by no means always, purely prudential; they are more apt to be rules than principles; and they constitute rather a series of practical maxims than a system of theoretical ethics. The legalist is not content with these results. He carries his researches further, or thinks that he does so. From his observation and experience, he deduces certain laws of life, or he accepts such laws as promulgated by some authority, human or divine. These laws of life sometimes derive their authority solely from observation of their results; sometimes added authority is given to them by their promulgation by the Church or the State ; often it is maintained that they are derived directly or indirectly from God or the gods, in which case the supreme authority of a divine lawgiver is claimed for them. Virtue consists, according to this school, in obedience to law, human or divine; and this obedience is to be rendered regardless of possible or probable results; for virtue consists in doing what is commanded, not in doing merely what appears to be beneficial. The prophetic teacher is not satisfied to stop with the discovery of a law, whether that law is human or divine. He asks, Why has this law been promul. gated ? why has the Church or the State forbidden or commanded ? why has God forbidden or commanded? And his reply to this inquiry is not derived from any observation of the effects of obedience or disobedience. Virtue he regards not as a means to happiness as an end; it is itself the end. It is to be pursued whether it is commanded or forbidden ; whether it produces pleasure or pain. The prophetic teacher does not think that certain conduct is righteous because it produces happiness, though he believes that generally happiness follows from virtue; he does not think that it is righteous because it is commanded, but that it is commanded because it is righteous. Law he regards as inherent in the nature: the laws of the material universe are the nature of matter and force ; the laws of