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[Here we continue a reprint of a small portion of Joseph Caryl’s study in Job. Mr. Caryl wrote twelve volumes on the book of Job. His study is a great example of how deep one can dig into the truths of the Bible.]
Job 1:1 -
Good Character, by Joseph Caryl
1…and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil…
We will observe hence somewhat in the general first, and then somewhat more particularly. You see here when God comes to describe a man and to set him forth in his glory and excellency, where the spirit of God begins. The chief and first thing which God takes notice of, is his grace. When he would set forth what a man Job was, how blessed and how happy, here he sets his pen first, to describe what his spiritual estate was. Hence then this in the general.
1. Gracious habits and spiritual blessings are the chiefest of all blessings. If God has given a man grace, he has the best and the choicest of all that which God can give. God has given us His son, and God has given us His spirit, and God has given us the graces of His spirit. These are the finest of the flower, and the honey out of the rock of mercy. If you do not have children as Job did, and do not have the inventory to sheep and camels and oxen and asses that Job had, if you are in the first part of the description, that you have a perfect heart and upright life, and the fear of God in your inward parts, and a holy turning against every evil, your lot is fallen in a fair place, and you have a goodly heritage. They that have this need not be discontented at their own, or envious at the condition of any other. They have the principal verb, the one thing necessary.
Again, when God describes a gracious man, you see He is thorough: He sets him forth in everything that concerns his spiritual estate, Perfect and upright, fearing God and eschewing evil. From hence, note this also in general:
2. Where one grace is there is every grace. Grace is laid into the soul in all the parts of it, and there is somewhat of every grace laid into the soul. We have not one man, one grace, and another man another grace, but every man has every grace that has any grace at all. I do not say that every man has every grace, or that the same man has every grace in the same height and degree. Grace in some is more eminent than in others, and the same man may have one grace more eminent than another. He may have one grace (like Saul among the people) higher by head and shoulders than the rest in his throng of graces; yet that man has somewhat of every grace that has any grace. All grace goes together. Thus in the general.
Particularly: this man was “perfect”. That is (as we have explained it) he was sincere and plainhearted. Observe hence, 1. It is sincerity that especially commends us to God, as Job’s graces are preferred in his description before all his other graces.
Sincerity is that which makes us so acceptable and pleasing unto God: He was a man that was “perfect”, you see that is put in the first place. And indeed, whatsoever a man be besides, if a man is just in his dealings, and suppose a man worships God in all His ordinances, and avoids all manner of evil, yet if there be doubling and falseness in his spirit, all is cast off, all is rejected of God as abominable. Therefore here the foundation is laid, here is the bottom grace: perfection, sincerity. Whether it be a distinct grace, or whether it be that which does accompany very grace, and gives it life and beauty in the eye of God (for my own part I conceive sincerity is not properly a distinct grace, but the perfection of every grace) it is that which does commend a man unto God. Christ tells the angel of the church of Sardis, “I have not found thy works perfect” (Rev. 3:2). Not full, says the Greek text. There wanted somewhat within. Sincerity is the filling up of all our duties. Without that, they are but empty sounds, as sounding brass, and as a tinkling symbol.
He was “perfect”, that is, he was sincere. Observe then, 2. Sincere and sound hearted persons are in God’s esteem perfect persons. It is not all that you can do, or all that you can say, or all that you can suffer, or all that you can loose, that can make you perfect in the esteem of God without sincerity; add sincerity but to the least, and it gives you the denomination of perfect. God accepts the very Goat’s hair, the least offering from one that is sincere. He accounts it a rich present, and calls the presenter perfect. But He will not receive the greatest riches, whole droves of cattle for offerings, the greatest and mightiest services from one that is unsound. Truth of grace is our perfection here, in Heaven we shall have perfection as well as truth.
Furthermore, upon this perfectness and plainness of heart there is presently added uprightness. Observe from thence.
1. Where the heart is sincere towards God, the ways are just and honest before men.
2. It is a great honor and an ornament unto our professions of godliness, to be just and upright in his dealings towards men. This is put as a special part of Job’s excellency, that he was upright in his dealings. There is much scandal cast upon the profession of the name of God through a defect in this. The world says, these men profess, they take the name of God upon them, but they are as unanswerable to their promises, as unjust in them, but they are as unanswerable to their promises as unjust in them, but they are as unanswerable to their promises, as unjust in their tradings as any other. Then make proof of your perfection in profession, but the uprightness of your conversation.
“Perfect and upright, one that feared God.” Here we have fearing God, added to perfect and upright. Observe hence:
1. Moral integrity and moral honesty without the fear of God can never render us acceptable to God. There are some that please themselves in this, that they are plain-hearted (it is possible for a man in a sense to be so, and yet not to fear God), or they give every man his due, etc. These are good, but in Job, we may learn on what these must be founded, whence they come, when we please God in them. They come from the fear of God, which must be the spring of uprightness and perfection, else they are only heathen virtues, not Christian graces.
God delights in nothing we do, unless we do it in His fear. As Joseph said to his brethren when they feared some hard measure from him, I “fear God”; when this fear of God ties our hands it shows the love of God that fills our hearts. Not to wrong man, because we fear God is an argument of more than man.
“Fearing God.” You may observe:
1. Holy fear contains in it every grace we receive from God, and all the worship we tender up to God. Fear is a comprehensive word; it is more than a particular grace. When Abraham had offered up his son Isaac, that was a work of mighty faith, and the faith of Abraham is wonderfully commended by it; but God speaks thus, “Now I know you fear me”. Fear contains faith, and fear contains love too. Though “perfect love casts out tormenting fear” (1 John 4:18), yet perfect love calls in obeying fear:“Hear the conclusion of all,” says the preacher, Eccl. 12:13, “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man, or this is the whole man.” Fear is all duty, and every grace.
Job “feared God and eschewed evil.” Hence this from the connection:
1. Holy fear keeps the heart and life clean. The fear of the Lord is clean, says David, Psalm 19. Clean not only in itself, formally clean, but also effectively clean: it makes clean and keeps clean the heart and life. Fear is as an armed man at the gate, which examines all, and stops everyone from entering who is unfit. It stands as a watchman on the tower, and it looks every way to see what’s coming to the soul; if evil come, fear will not admit it. And therefore in Scripture you shall have these two often put together, fearing God and eschewing evil. Nay, eschewing evil is not only put as an effect of the fear of God, but is put into the very definition itself of the fear of God, “The fear of the Lord is to depart from evil” (Job 28:28).
“He eschewed evil.”
From hence, observe also,
1. Godly persons do not only forbear sin, but the abhor sin. They have not only their hands bound from it, but they have their hearts set against it. Holy enmity against sin is the temper of a godly mans heart, he eschews evil.
2. A godly man’s opposition of sin is universal: it is against all sin. Job eschewed evil, all evil, there was no picking of this for that particular evil to oppose, but whatsoever came under the name and notion of sin, Job’s spirit turned against it: enmity is against the kind.
3. Godly persons do not only avoid the acts of evil, but all the occasions of evil. Job eschewed evil, whatever led him to evil, all the appearances of evil, as the Apostles speaks: we cannot avoid the sin, if we will not avoid the occasion. When Solomon cautions to take heed of the path of the wicked, he used four expressions and all to the same purpose, “Avoid it” (says he) “pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:15). He does this to show us, that if we are to keep from the acts of sin, we must keep from the way of sin.