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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 1:1-3 - Summary -
The Godly Rich Man, by Joseph Caryl
1There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil. 2There were born unto him seven sons and three daughters. 3His substance also was seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred oxen, and five hundred donkeys, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all men in the East.
From the whole of the first three verses take these observations:
First see here Job, a holy man, very full of riches; then observe, that riches are the good blessings of God. God would never have bestowed them upon His Job else. Lest we should think riches evil, they are given to those who are good: And lest riches should be thought the chiefest good, they are given to those that are evil. It is a certain truth, that God never gives anything in itself evil to those that are good; nor doth He ever give the chiefest good to those that are evil. Therefore it shows, that riches are good, because the godly have them; and it shows that they are not the chiefest good, because the wicked have them. When the Gospel calls us to renounce the world, to cast off the world, it calls us to cast the world out of our affections, not out of our possession. To hold and possess great riches is not evil; it is evil to set our hearts upon them.
Secondly, Job was described before, a just man, an upright man, that is, a man just in his dealing, a man that gave every one his own. He did not decline, no not a hair’s breath (if possibly he could) from the line of justice, commutative or distributive; yet this Job is exceedingly rich. Hence, observe that:
Plain and honest dealing is no hindrance to the gaining or preserving of an estate.
Honest dealing is no stop, no bar to getting. There is a cursed proverb among us, which some use, and it is to be feared that some walk by it, that he which uses plain dealing shall die a beggar. You see Job, who was a plain man, a just-dealing man, yet is full of riches; the nighest and the safest way to riches is the way of justice. Woe to those who by getting riches, get a wound in their own consciences. What will it advantage anyone to gather many goods, when in the mean time his heart tells him that all have a bad master? What will it advantage any to load, to freight his ship by trading on forbidden coasts, when by doing this, he splits and makes a shipwreck of his soul. If you would go the right way to attain the things of this life, walk in the ways of God. Honesty and justice, uprightness and truth will lead you to the highest and greatest estate, with God’s blessing. All other riches are poverty, all other gain is loss; there is a fire in an estate ill-gotten, which will at last consume it. A man builds with timber that has a fire in it, when he lays the foundation of his estate by sin, “he lays up iniquity for his children. And so doth God” (Job 21:19).
It is commonly said likewise, “A rich man is either an unjust man, or the hire of an unjust man.” In Psalm 82, the wicked are put for the rich: “How long will you judge the unjustly and accept the persons of the wicked?” (Ps. 82:2), that is, the persons of rich or great men, so it is to be understood; for judges would never accept the persons of wicked men if they were poor, if they be in equal balance with others, in regard of outward things. Then the opposition that is made in the next words: “Defend the poor and fatherless” (Ps. 82:3), shows that the rich are there meant. These great ones are called wicked, because they usually get and uphold their greatness by wickedness. Such is the course of the world, and it is the shame of the world, much more of Christians. We see in Job’s practice that riches may be attained and maintained too by righteousness: Job was rich and just.
Thirdly, Job, a man fearing God, was rich, thus great. See here the truth of the promises. God will make good His promise concerning outward things to His people. “Godliness has the promises of this life, as well of that which is to come” (I Tim. 4:8). As it has promises made to it, so it has promises performed to it; Job, a man who feared God, a godly man, is very rich. Indeed, “not many rich, not many mighty, not many honorable, not many great ones are called” (1 Cor. 1:16), and so not many of those that are called, are mighty, and rich, and great and noble: yet some such are, that the truth of the promises may appear sometime in the very letter to the eye of sense, as it always does to the eye of faith.
Do not fear that you shall be poor if you turn godly, for godliness has the promises of this life; and there was a rich Job, a rich Abraham, a rich Isaac, a rich David, and many other godly, rich. God will perform when it is good for them, the promises of outward good things to His children outwardly.
Fourthly, here is another observation from this place: Job was frequent in holy duties; he was a man who feared God, that is (as we explained it in the first verse), he was much versed in the ways of holy worship. He did not serve God by fits or at his leisure, but continually, yet he was very rich.
Time spent in holy duties, is no loss, no hindrance to our ordinary callings, or to our thriving in them.
Job serves God so frequently, that it is called continually, yet he grows in wealth abundantly. The time that he spent in the service of God did not rob his purse, impoverish his family, or hinder him in his dealings and businesses of the world. Job maintained both his callings: he maintained his general calling in the ways and service of God; and his special or particular calling in his relations unto men. Both went on together, and they were no hindrance to one another, but a furtherance rather. The time we spend in spiritual duties, is time gained for secular. The pains we take in prayer, whets our tools and oils our wheels, promotes all we go about and gets a blessing upon all.
This meets with another blasphemy, very frequent in the world. If a man professing godliness go backward in his estate, especially a man that is taken notice of for his extraordinary zeal and constancy in holy duties, then the clamor is, “O you see what hearing of sermons has brought him unto, you see what comes of his praying and fasting, he has followed these things you see, till he is undone.” I say two things unto these men:
First, many are thought to go backward in their outward estate, because they do so much in spiritual duties, when indeed they are so far from doing too much that they do too little, and that rather is the reason why they thrive not. The body may be exercised often, when the Spirit works, but seldom, if at all, in holy things; and this indeed provokes God many times to blast an outward estate. It is a common fault, that when we see those whom we conceive godly, failing in outward things, we are taken up only in finding out answers how to acquit the justice of God in His promises. What shall we say to such a promise, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His rightness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33)? We trouble ourselves often to satisfy the point in reference to the justice of God and the truth of His promise. We seldom suspect whether or how they have performed the condition of the promise. We should rather doubt that they have not evangelically performed the condition, than trouble ourselves so much with seeking how to satisfy the justice of God in answering the engagement and promise on His part. For without all question, they that do seek according to the tenor of that condition, God will administer all things unto them.
Or secondly, we should say thus rather, that they who are so much exercised in ways of communion with God, have surely gained a great spiritual estate, and that now God brings them to the proof of it by losses in their temporal estates. These, or the like interpretations, we ought to make, if we see them going backward in outward things, who have been very forward in spiritual things.
And so much concerning Job’s outward estate, in regard of his riches, both what they were in the kind, and in the number.