Job XV. 31. Lei not him that is deceived, trust in vanity ; for
vanity shall he his recompeiice.
THE friends of Job were enlightened and pious
men; but they altogether mistook the character of
Job, and misinterpreted the dispensations of God
towards him. They had assumed a principle which
they carried too far : they laid it down as an inva-
riable rule, that hypocrites would be visited with
some peculiar judgments, and that extraordinary
afflictions were in themselves a proof of some extra-
ordinary wickedness which had procured them. But
though they were mistaken in this, their observa-
tions are frequently most weighty and important.
The words in our text are a kind of general truth,
founded upon what Eliphaz had spoken in reference
to Job. As applied to Job, it was not by any
means pertinent : but as an abstract truth, it is de-
serving of our deepest attention. Let us consider,
I. The caution —
Men are universally "deceived" through the influ-
ence of a corrupt heart, a tempting world, and a
subtle adversary. And that deception shews itself>
as in other things, so particularly in the " trust "
which they place in " lying vanities." They trust,
1 . In vain conceits —
[Men conceive themselves to be possessed of wisdom, goodf
ness, strength, in such a degree at least as to warrant their ex-
pectation of happiness in a future world. Tell them from God,
that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and bHnd, and
naked, and they will deny your positions as false, and ridicule
them as enthusiastic. They have no idea that they need the
influences of the Holy Ghost to enlighten their minds, or the
blood of Christ to atone for their sins, or the grace of Christ to
renovate their hearts.
But let them examine their boasted attainments, and see whe-
ther they amnuiit to any thing more than " vanitv." Let them
sec whetlier their wisdom has made them like-minded with (iod :
let them bring their goodness to the touchstone of God's law :
let them try their strength in any act of spiritual obedience : let
them see if they can love God with all their heart and mind and
soul and strength : and they must soon be convinced, that they
are trusting to a mere vanity.]
2. In vain possessions —
[If a man possess much of this world's goods, he presently
trusts iu it for happiness": "his wealth is his strong city'^j"
and he says to gold, " Thou art my confidence''."
But is not wealth also vanity ? What can it do to assuage our
anguish ? or what stability is there in the possession of it ? Do
not *' riches often make themselves wings, and fly away ?" Or,
when we are saying, " Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for
many years ; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry ;" may
not God reply, " Thou fool ! this night shall thy soul be re-
quired of thee " ?
Let it not be said, that men do not tmst in riches ; for the
reverse is manifest beyond the possibility of contradiction, seeing
that the acquisition of wealth is regarded as the chief step toward^
happiness ; and men bestow tenfold more pains in the attainment
of it, than they do in the pursuit of heaven.]
3. In vain hopes—
[Every one hopes that he shall be happy when he dies.
But, if we " ask men a reason of the hope that is in them,"
they can make no reply that will at all justify their expectations.
They will say, that they live as well as others, and that God is
too merciful to condemn them : but as for any Scriptural reason,
they can assign none.
What a vanity then is this ! If a man were hoping for a har-
vest while he neglected to use the proper means to obtain one,
would not his folly be manifest to all ? Wherefore then will
men dream of going to heaven when they die, not only without
having one word in all the inspired volume to warrant such a
hope, but in direct opposition to the plainest declarations of God
concerning them ? Is not this a strange infatuation, a fatal
delusion ?]
4. In vain purposes —
[There is no one so hardened, but he intends at some future
period to repent. All who have ever reflected on the value of
their souls, or the importance of eternity, must have purposed in
their minds that they would prepare to meet their God. But in
this state they continue without carrying their purposes into exe-
cution. The young confess the necessity of repentance, and
declare their intention to seek it : but they arrive at manhood,
and repentance is unattained : they proceed to a more advanced
period of life, and even to old age, and it still is as far from them
* ]7. ''Prov. X. 15. 'Jobxxxi. 24.
452 JOB, XV. 31. [314.
as ever. Thus they live, always purposing, but never accom-
plishing their purpose, till the time for working is for ever past.
Can there be a greater vanity than this ? And does not the
trusting in such a vanity prove a man deceived ?]
That we may not ourselves be guilty of this folly,
let us consider,
II. The reason with which the caution is enforced —
God has wisely ordained that men should reap
according to what they sow**. And it will surely be
found, sooner or later, that " they who trust in
vanity, shall have vanity for their recompence :"
they shall reap,
1. Disappointment — »
[God alone is the proper object of our trust and confidence,
because he alone can support us, and make us happy. If we
have looked to sin for happiness, we will venture to ask, with
the Apostle, " What fruit have we now of those things whereof
we are ashamed ?" If we have sought happiness in things law-
ful, still we must confess, that the creature, however excellent in
itself, is but a broken cistern that can hold no water, and that
must consequently fail us when we most need its support. We
may fitly compare those who expect solid satisfaction in the crea-
ture, to a man almost famished, who dreams that he is eating
and drinking, but awakes afterwards as empty and unsatisfied as
before*. Truly, " he fills his belly with the east-wind^:" and
his fairest prospects shall " be as the unripe grape shaken oflF
from the vine, or the blossom cast off from the olive s."J
2. Vexation —
[Solomon has observed respecting all the choicest things
under the sun, that they are " vanity and vexation of spirit :"
and the experience of all attests the truth of his observation. The
more we trust in the creature, the more pain, generallv speaking,
it will occasion us : it will not only be a broken staff that refuses
to support us, but a sharp " reed that will pierce through the
hand that leans upon it*"." When Ahaz relied upon the Assyrian
monarch to extricate him from his troubles, he found nothing
but additional vexation : " Tiglath-pilneser distressed him, but
helped him not'." Thus it will be with all who trust in vanities
of any kind, or seek for happiness in any thing but God. They
may not yet have reached the crisis of their fate 3 but vanity and
^ Gal. vi. 7, 8. Prov, iv. 8, • Isai. xxix. S. ' ver. 2.
"ver.33. " 2 Kin. xviii. 21.
' 3 Cbron. xxviii. 16, 20.
vexation are inseparable, both in this world and in the world to
fcome. They may think that they have a feast to come; but
while dreaming of something pleasing to their palate, they will
find that they are " feeding on ashes, and a deceived heart hath
turned them aside''."]
3. Ruin —
. [We well know how the tasting of the forbidden fruit, which
promised such gratification and benefit to our first parents, termi-
nated, and what misery it brought on them and their posterity :
and the same recompence awaits us also, if we trust in lying
vanities, instead of depending wholly on our God. Hear what
God himself says respecting this : " Cursed be the man that
trusteth in man, and that maketh flesh his arm, and whose hope
departeth from the Lord^" How should we tremble at such a
denunciation as this ! O let it have a becoming influence on pur
minds ; and stimulate us to seek our happiness where alone it
can be found.]
We conclude with observing,
1 . How necessary is it to mark the state and habit
of our minds !
[If it were said that gross sin should issue in miserv, we
should not be surprised : but we are told that the mere " trusting
m vanity," independent of any gross sins which may flow from
It, " will have vanity for its recompence." Let us look then not
to our actions only, but to the state and habit of our minds ;
since our happiness both in time and in eternity depends no
less on the latter than on the former. Let us not be satis-
fied that we are free from any flagrant transgressions, while
we are relying on any thing besides God. Let us observe
whether we practically feel the emptiness of all created things,
and their utter insufficiency to make us happy either here or here-
after. And let us be going forth to God in the constant exercise
of prayer, and " commit our souls to him in well-doing, as into
the hands of a faithful Creator."]
1. How thankful should we be, that there is an all-
sufficient friend in whom we may trust!
[God in Christ is the only legitimate object of our hope and
confidence. We are told, under the figure of Eliakim, that " Christ
has the key of David ; that he openeth and no man shutteth, and
shutteth and no man openeth -, and that on him must hang all
the glory of his Father's house ""." « Every vessel in the Lord's
house, whether great or small, must hang on him;" and every
care must be devolved on him. In him there is a fulness of all
. that
" Isai, xliv. 20. Seealso Eccl.v. i6, J7.
'Jer.xvii. 5. ' "Isai. xxii. 20— 24.
vol.. in. J, p
434 Jt)B, xvii. g» [315,
that we can want. In him is wisdom for the blind, righteous-
ness for the guilty, sanctification for the polluted, and redt-mption
for the enslaved : and all this he will hecome to those who trust
in him°." Be thankful then, Brethren, for such a friend, and
for the command given you by God, " Trust in him at all times,
ve people." Rejoice that he can bear your every burthen, and
supply your every want ; and that, as a trust in vanity will have
vanity for its recompence, so a "confidence in Jesus will have a
great, substantial, everlasting recompence of reward"."]
•1 Cor. 1.30. "Heb. X. 35.

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