They rent every one his mantle - I have already had frequent occasions to point out and illustrate, by quotations from the ancients, the actions that were used in order to express profound grief; such as wrapping themselves in sackcloth, covering the face, strewing dust or ashes upon the head, sitting upon the bare ground, etc., etc.; significant actions which were in use among all nations.
And when they lifted up their eyes afar off - “When they saw him at the distance at which they could formerly recognize him without difficulty, disease had so altered his appearance that at first sight they knew him not” - Noyes.
They lifted up their voice - This is a common expression in the Scriptures, to denote grief; Genesis 27:38; Genesis 29:11; Judges 2:4; Rth 1:9 ; 1 Samuel 24:16, “et soepe al.” We learn to suppress the expressions of grief. The ancients gave vent to their sorrows aloud. - They even hired persons to aid them in their lamentations; and it became a professional business of women to devote themselves to the office of making an outcry on occasions of mourning. The same thing prevails in the East at present. Friends sit around the grave of the dead, or go there at different times, and give a long and doleful shriek or howl, as expressive of their grief.
And they rent every one his mantle - See the notes at Job 1:20.
And sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven - Another expression of sorrow; compare Lamentations 2:10; Nehemiah 9:1; 1 Samuel 4:12; Joshua 7:6; Ezekiel 27:30. Thc indications of grief here referred to, were such as were common in ancient times. They resemble, in a remarkable manner, the mode in which Achilles gave utterance to his sorrow, when informed of the death of Patroclus. Iliad xviii. 21-27.
A sudden horror shot through all the chief,
And wrapp‘d his senses in the cloud of grief;
Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread
The scorching ashes o‘er his graceful head,
His purple garments, and his golden hairs,
Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears:
On the hard soil his groaning breast he threw,
And roll‘d and grovell‘d as to earth he grew.
Thus far the feelings of the three friends were entirely kind, and all that they did was expressive of sympathy for the sufferer.
Very early in the history of the world is given the life record of one over whom this controversy of Satan's was waged. Ed 155.1
Of Job, the patriarch of Uz, the testimony of the Searcher of hearts was, “There is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.” Ed 155.2
Against this man, Satan brought scornful charge: “Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast Thou not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? ... Put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath;” “touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.” Ed 155.3Read in context »
About this time I was shown that my husband must not labor in preaching, or with his hands. That a little over exercise then would place him in a hopeless condition. At this he wept and groaned. Said he, “Must I then become a church pauper?” Again I was shown that God designed to raise him up gradually. That we must exercise strong faith, for in every effort we should be fiercely buffeted by Satan. That we must look away from outward appearance, and believe. Three times a day we went alone before God, and engaged in earnest prayer for the recovery of his health. This was the whole burden of our petitions, and frequently one of us would be prostrated by the power of God. The Lord graciously heard our earnest cries, and my husband began to recover. For many months our prayers ascended to heaven three times a day for health to do the will of God. These seasons of prayer were very precious. We were brought into a sacred nearness to God, and had sweet communion with him. 2SG 198.1
I cannot better state my feelings at this time than they are expressed in the following extracts from a letter I wrote to Sr. Howland: 2SG 199.1
“I feel thankful that I can now have my children with me, under my own watchcare, and can better train them in the right way. For weeks I have felt a hungering and thirsting for salvation, and we have enjoyed almost uninterrupted communion with God. Why do we stay away from the fountain when we can come and drink? Why do we die for bread when there is a storehouse full? It is rich and free. O my soul, feast upon it, and daily drink in heavenly joys. I will not hold my peace. The praise of God is in my heart, and upon my lips. We can rejoice in the fullness of our Saviour's love. We can feast upon his excellent glory. My soul testifies to this. My gloom has been dispersed by this precious light, and I can never forget it. Lord help me to keep it in lively remembrance. Awake, all the energies of my soul! Awake, and adore thy Redeemer for his wondrous love. 2SG 199.2Read in context »
I am urged by the Spirit of God to say to you who have a connection with the Lord's work, Never forget that you are wholly dependent upon God; and if you pass one hour or one moment without relying upon His grace, without keeping the heart open to receive the wisdom that is not earthborn, being sure that without Christ ye can do nothing, you will be unable to distinguish between the common and the sacred fire. Words of a very forbidden character will flash from your lips to destroy hope and courage and faith. Thus it is written in the books of heaven: Your words were not inspired of God, but of the enemy that wounded and bruised Christ in the person of His purchased possession. Souls of infinite value were treated indifferently, turned from, left to struggle under temptation, and forced on Satan's battleground. TM 350.1
Job's professed friends were miserable comforters, making his case more bitter and unbearable, and Job was not guilty as they supposed. Those who are under the pain and distress of their own wrongdoing, while Satan is seeking to drive them to despair, are the very ones who need help the most. The intense agony of the soul that has been overcome by Satan and is feeling worsted and helpless—how little is it comprehended by those who should meet the erring one with tender compassion! TM 350.2
Most pitiable is the condition of one who is suffering under remorse; he is as one stunned, staggering, sinking into the dust. And many who suppose themselves to be righteous, become exasperating comforters; they deal harshly with these souls. In manifesting this hardness of heart in offending and oppressing, they are doing the very same work which Satan delights in doing. The tried, tempted soul cannot see anything clearly. The mind is confused; he knows not just what steps to take. Oh, then, let no word be spoken to cause deeper pain! TM 350.3Read in context »