God speaks to us by conscience, by providences, and by ministers; of all these Elihu discourses. There was not then, that we know of, any Divine revelation in writing, though now it is our principal guide. When God designs men's good, by the convictions and dictates of their own consciences, he opens the heart, as Lydia's, and opens the ears, so that conviction finds or forces its way in. The end and design of these admonitions are to keep men from sin, particularly the sin of pride. While sinners are pursuing evil purposes, and indulging their pride, their souls are hastening to destruction. That which turns men from sin, saves them from hell. What a mercy it is to be under the restraints of an awakened conscience!
Communion with the Lord effectually convinces and humbles a saint, and makes him glad to part with his most beloved sins. There is need to be thoroughly convinced and humbled, to prepare us for remarkable deliverances. After God had shown Job, by his manifest ignorance of the works of nature, how unable he was to judge of the methods and designs of Providence, he puts a convincing question to him; Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? Now Job began to melt into godly sorrow: when his friends reasoned with him, he did not yield; but the voice of the Lord is powerful. When the Spirit of truth is come, he shall convince. Job yields himself to the grace of God. He owns himself an offender, and has nothing to say to justify himself. He is now sensible that he has sinned; and therefore he calls himself vile. Repentance changes men's opinion of themselves. Job is now convinced of his error. Those who are truly sensible of their own sinfulness and vileness, dare not justify themselves before God. He perceived that he was a poor, mean, foolish, and sinful creature, who ought not to have uttered one word against the Divine conduct. One glimpse of God's holy nature would appal the stoutest rebel. How, then will the wicked bear the sight of his glory at the day of judgment? But when we see this glory revealed in Jesus Christ, we shall be humbled without being terrified; self-abasement agrees with filial love.