EXPOSITIONS ON THE BOOK OF PSALMS.
[Translated by the Rev. J. E. Tweed, M.A., chaplain of Christ Church, Oxford; T. Scratton, Esq., M.A., of Christ Church; the Rev. H.M. Wilkins, M.A., of Merton College, Oxford; the Rev. Charles Marriot, of Oriel College; the Rev. H. Walford, Vice-Principal of St. Edmund's Hall; at least one anonymous contributor. Abridged from the six volumes of the Oxford Series by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D.]
PSALMS 95-106: THE END OF THE 4TH BOOK OF THE PSALMS
1. I could wish, brethren, that we were rather listening to our father: but even this is a good thing, to obey our father. Since therefore he who deigneth to pray for us, hath ordered us, I will speak unto you, beloved, what from the present Psalm Jesus Christ our common Lord shall deign to give us. Now the title of the Psalm is "David's Song of praise." The "Song of praise" signifieth both cheerfulness, in that it is a song; and devotion, for it is praise. For what ought a man to praise more than that which pleaseth him so, that it is impossible that it can displease him? In the praising of God therefore we praise with security. There he who praiseth is safe, where he feareth not lest he be ashamed for the object of his praise. Let us therefore troth praise and sing; that is, let us praise with cheerfulness and joy. But what we are about to praise, this Psalm in the following verses showeth us.
2. "O come, let us sing unto the Lord" (ver. 1 ). He calleth us to a great banquet of joy, not one of this world, but in the Lord. For if there were not in this life a wicked joy which is to be distinguished from a righteous joy, it would be enough to say, "Come, let us rejoice;" but he has briefly distinguished it. What is it to rejoice aright? To rejoice in the Lord. Thou shouldest piously joy in the Lord, if thou dost wish safely to trample upon the world. But what is the word, "Come "? Whence doth He call them to come, with whom he wisheth to rejoice in the Lord; except that, while they are afar, they may by coming draw nearer, by drawing nearer they may approach, and by approaching rejoice? But whence are they afar? Can a man be locally distant from Him who is everywhere? ... It is not by place, but by being unlike Him, that a man is afar from God. What is to be unlike Him? it meaneth, a bad life, bad habits; for if by good habits we approach God, by bad habits we recede from God. ... If therefore by unlikeness we recede from God, by likeness we approach unto God. What likeness? That after which we were created, which by sinning we had corrupted in ourselves, which we have received again through the remission of sins, which is renewed in us in the mind within, that it may be engraved a second time as if on coin, that is, the image of our God upon our soul, and that we may return to His treasures. ...
3. "Let us make a joyful(6) noise unto God, our salvation." ... Consider, beloved, those who make a joyful noise in any ordinary songs, as in a sort of competition of worldly joy; and ye see them while reciting the written lines bursting forth with a joy, that the tongue sufficeth not to express the measure of; how they shout, indicating by that utterance the feeling of the mind, which cannot in words express what is conceived in the heart. If they then in earthly joy make a joyful noise; might we not do so from heavenly joy, which truly we cannot express in words?
4. "Let us prevent His face by confession (ver. 2). Confession hath a double meaning in Scripture. There is a confession of him who praiseth, there is that of him who groaneth. The confession of praise pertaineth to the honour of Him who is praised: the confession of groaning to the repentance of him who confesseth. For men confess when they praise God: they confess when they accuse themselves; and the tongue hath no more worthy use. Truly, I believe these to be the very vows, of which he speaketh in another Psalm: "I will pay Thee my vows, which I distinguished with my lips."(1) Nothing is more elevated than that distinguishing, nothing is so necessary both to understand and to do. How then dost thou distinguish the vows which thou payest unto God? By praising Him, by accusing thyself; because it is His mercy, to forgive us our sins. For if He chose to deal with us after our deserts, He would find cause only to condemn. "O come," he said therefore, that we may at last go back from our sins, and that He may not cast up with us our accounts for the past; but that as it were a new account may be commenced, all the bonds of our debts having been burnt. ... The more therefore thou despairedst of thyself on account of thy iniquities, do thou confess thy sins; for so much greater is the praise of Him who forgiveth, as is the fulness of the penitent's confession more abundant. Let us not therefore imagine that we have receded from the song of praise, in understanding here that confession by which we acknowledge our transgressions: this is even a part of the song of praise; for when we confess our sins, we praise the glory of God.
5. "And make a joyful(2) noise unto Him with Psalms." We have already said what it is "to make a joyful noise:" the word is repeated, that it may be confirmed by the act: the very repetition is an exhortation. For we have not forgotten, so as to wish to be again admonished what was said above, that we should make a joyful noise: but usually in passages of strong feeling a well-known word is repeated, not to make it more familiar, but that the very repetition may strengthen the impression made: for it is repeated that we may understand the feeling of the speaker. ... Hear now: "For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods" (ver. 3) "For the Lord will not cast off His people."(3) Praise be unto Him, and shouts of joy be unto Him! What people shall He not cast off? we have no right to make our own explanation here: for the Apostle hath prescribed this unto us, he hath explained whereof it is said. For this was the Jewish people, the people where were the prophets, the people where were the patriarchs, the people begotten according to the flesh from the seed of Abraham; the people in which all the mysteries which promised our Saviour preceded us; the people among whom was instituted the temple, the anointing, the Priest for a figure, that when all these shadows were past, the Light itself might come; this therefore was the people of God; to it were the prophets sent, in it those who were sent were born; to it were delivered and entrusted the revelations of God. What then? is the whole of that people condemned? far be it. It is called. the good olive-tree by the Apostle, for it commenced with the patriarchs. ... This then is the tree itself: though some of its boughs have been broken, yet all have not. For if all the boughs were broken, whence is Peter? whence John? whence Thomas? whence Matthew? whence Andrew? whence are all those Apostles? whence that very Apostle Paul who was speaking to us but now, and by his own fruit bearing witness to the good olive? Were not all these of that people? Whence also those five hundred brethren to whom our Lord appeared after His resurrection?(4) Whence were so many thousands at the words of Peter (when the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with the tongues of all nations(5)) converted with such zeal for the honour of God and their own accusation, that they who first shed the Lord's blood in their rage, learnt how to drink it now that they believed? And all these five thousand were so converted that they sold their own property, and laid the price of it at the Apostles' feet.(6) That which one rich man did not do, when he heard from the Lord's mouth, and sorrowfully departed from Him,(7) this so many thousands of those men by whose hands Christ had been crucified, did on a sudden. In proportion as the wound was deeper in their own hearts, with the greater eagerness did they seek for a physician. Since therefore all these were from thence, the Psalm saith of them, "For the Lord will not cast off His people." ...
6. What doth the Psalm add? In His hand are all the corners of the earth" (ver. 4): we recognise the corner stone: the corner stone is Christ. There cannot be a corner, unless it hath united in itself two walls: they come from different sides to one corner, but they are not opposed to each other in the corner. The circumcision cometh from one side. the uncircumcision from the other; in Christ both peoples have met together: because He hath become the stone, of which it is written, "The stone which the builders rejected, hath become the head of the corner." (1)
7. "For the sea is His and He made it" (ver. 5). For the sea is this world, but God made also the sea: nor can the waves rage save only so far as to the shore, where He hath marked their bounds. There is therefore no temptation, that hath not received its measure. ... "And His hands prepared the dry land." Be thou the dry land: thirst for the grace of God: that as a sweet shower it may come upon thee, may find m thee fruit. He alloweth not the waves to cover what He hath sown. "And His hands prepared the dry land." Hence also therefore let us shout unto the Lord.
8. "O come, let us worship, and fall down to Him; and mourn before the Lord our Maker" (ver. 6). ... Perhaps thou art burning with the consciousness of a fault; blot out with tears the flame of thy sin: mourn before the Lord: fearlessly mourn before the Lord, who made thee; for He despiseth not the work of His own hands in thee. Think not thou canst be restored by thyself. By thyself thou mayest fall off, thou canst not restore thyself: He who made thee restoreth thee. "Let us mourn before the Lord our Maker:" weep before Him, confess unto Him, prevent His face in confession. For who art thou who mournest before Him, and confessest unto Him, but one whom He created? The tiring created hath no slight confidence in Him who created it, and that in no indifferent fashion, but according to His own image and likeness.
9. "For He is the Lord our God" (ver. 7). But that we may without fear fall down and kneel before Him, what are we? "We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." See how elegantly he hath transposed the order of the words, and as it were not given its own attribute to each word; that we may understand these very same to be the sheep, who are also the people. He said not, the sheep of His pasture, and the people of His hand; which might be thought more congruous, since the sheep belong to the pasture; but He said, "the people of His pasture." The people are therefore sheep, since he saith, "the people of His pasture:" the people themselves are sheep... He praiseth these sheep also in the Song of Solomon, speaking of some perfect ones as the teeth of His Spouse the Holy Church: "Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which come up from the washing; whereof every one beareth twins, and there is none barren."(2) What meaneth, "Thy teeth "? These by whom thou speakest: for the teeth of the Church are those through whom she speaketh. Of what sort are thy teeth? "Like a flock of sheep that are shorn." Why, "that are shorn"? Because they have laid aside the burdens of the world. Were not those sheep, of which I was a little before speaking, shorn, whom the bidding of God had shorn, when He saith," Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt find treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me "?(3) They performed this bidding: shorn they came. And because those who believe in Christ are baptized, what is there said? "which come up from the washing;" that is, come up from the cleansing. "Whereof every one beareth twins." What twins? Those two commandments, wherefrom hang all the Law and the Prophets.(4)
10. Therefore, "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (ver. 8). O my people, the people of God! God addresses His people: not only the people of His which He shall not cast off, but also all His people. For He speaketh in the corner stone s to each wall: that is, prophecy speaketh in Christ, both to the people of the Jews, and the people of the Gentiles. For some time ye heard His voice through Moses, and hardened your hearts. He then, when you hardened your hearts, spoke through a herald; He now speaketh by Himself, let your hearts soften. He who used to send heralds before Him, hath now deigned to come Himself; He here speaketh by His own mouth, He who used to speak by the mouths of the Prophets.
11. "As in the provocation, and in the day of temptation in the wilderness, where your fathers proved Me" (ver. 9). Let such be no more your fathers: imitate them not. They were your fathers, but if ye do not imitate them, they shall not be your fathers: yet as ye were born of them, they were your fathers. And if the heathen who came from the ends of the earth, in the words of Jeremias, "The Gentiles shall come unto Thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our forefathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit: "(6) if the heathen forsook their idols, to come to the God of Israel; ought Israel whom their own God led from Egypt through the Red Sea,(7) wherein He overwhelmed their pursuing foes; whom He led out into the wilderness, fed with manna,(8) never took His rod from correcting them, never deprived them of the blessings of His mercy; ought they to desert their own God, when the heathen have come unto Him? "When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works. ...
12. "Forty years long was I very near unto this generation, and said, It is a people that do always err in their hearts; for they have not known My ways" (ver. 10). The forty years have the same meaning as the word "always." For that number forty indicates the fulness of ages, as if the ages were perfected in this number. Hence our Lord fasted forty days, forty days He was tempted in the desert,(1) and forty days He was with His disciples after His resurrection.(2) On the first forty days He showed us temptation, on the latter forty days consolation: since beyond doubt when we are tempted we are consoled. For His body, that is, the Church, must needs suffer temptations in this world: but that Comforter, who said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,"(3) is not wanting. For this was I with them forty years, to show such a race of men, which alway provoketh Me, even unto the end of the world: because by those forty years He meant to signify the whole of this world's duration.
13. ... We began with exulting joy: but this Psalm hath ended with great fear: "Unto whom I sware in My wrath, that they should not enter into My rest" (ver. 11 ). It is a great thing for God to speak: how much greater for Him to swear? Thou shouldest fear a man when he sweareth, lest he do somewhat on account of his oath against his will: how much more shouldest thou fear God, when He sweareth, seeing He can swear nought rashly? He chose the act of swearing for a confirmation. And by whom doth God swear? By Himself: for He hath no greater by whom to swear.(4) By Himself He confirmeth His promises: by Himself He confirmeth His threats. Let no man say in his heart, His promise is true; His threat is false: as His promise is true, so is His threat sure. Thou oughtest to be equally assured of rest, of happiness, of eternity, of immortality, if thou hast executed His commandments; as of destruction, of the burning of eternal fire, of damnation with the devil, if thou hast despised His commandments. ...
1. My lord and brother Severus(6) still defers the pleasure we shall feel in his discourse, which he oweth us; for he acknowledgeth, that he is held a debtor. For all the Churches through which he hath passed, by his tongue the lord hath gladdened: much more therefore ought that Church to be rejoiced, out of which the Lord hath propagated his preaching among the rest. But what shall we do, but obey his will? I said, however, brethren, that he deferred, not that he defrauded us. Therefore let us keep him as a debtor bound, and release him not until he hath paid. Attend therefore, beloved: as far as the Lord alloweth, let us say somewhat of this Psalm, which indeed you already know; for the fresh mention of truth is sweet. Possibly when its title was pronounced, some heard it with wonder. For the Psalm is inscribed: "When the house was being built after the Captivity." This title having been prefixed, ye were perhaps expecting in the text of the Psalm to hear what stones were hewn from the mountains, what masses were drawn to the spot, what foundations were laid, what beams were placed on high, what columns raised. Its song is of nothing of this kind. ... It is no such house that is in building; for behold where it is built, not in one spot, not in any particular region. For thus he beginneth: --
2. "O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth"(7) (ver. 1 ). If all the earth singeth a new song, it is thus building while it singeth: the very act of singing is building: but only, if it singeth not the old song. The lust of the flesh singeth the old song: the love of God singeth the new. ... Hear why it is a new song: the Lord saith, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another."(8) The whole earth then singeth a new song: there the house of God is built. All the earth is the house of God. If all the earth is the house of God,(9) he who clingeth not to all the earth, is a ruin, not a house; that old ruin whose shadow that ancient temple represented. For there what was old was destroyed, that what was new might be built up. ... The Apostle bindeth us together into this very structure, and fasteneth us when bound together in that unity, saying, "Forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."(10) Where there is this unity of Spirit, there is one stone; but one stone formed out of many. How one formed out of many? By forbearing one another in love. Therefore the house of the Lord our God is in building; it is this that is being wrought, for this are these words, for this these readings, for this the preaching of the Gospel over the whole world; as yet it is in building. This house hath increased greatly, and filled many nations: nevertheless, it hath not yet prevailed through all nations: by its increase it hath held many, and will prevail over all: and it is gainsaid by those who boast of their being of its household, and who say, it hath already lost ground. It still increaseth, still all those nations which have not yet believed are destined to believe; that no man may say, will that tongue believe? will the barbarians believe? what is the meaning of the Holy Spirit having appeared in the fiery tongues,(1) except that there is no tongue so hard that it cannot be softened by that fire? For we know that many barbarous nations have already believed in Christ: Christ already possesseth regions where the Roman empire hath never yet reached; what is as yet closed to those who fight with the sword, is not closed to Him who fighteth with wood. For "the Lord hath reigned from the wood."(2) Who is it who fighteth with wood? Christ. With His cross He hath vanquished kings, and fixed upon their forehead, when vanquished, that very cross; and they glory in it, for in it is their salvation. This is the work which is being wrought, thus the house increaseth, thus it is building: and that ye may know, hear the following verses of the Psalm: see them labouring upon, and constructing the house. "O sing unto the Lord all the earth."
3. "Sing unto the Lord, bless His Name: be telling good tidings of His salvation from day to day" (ver. 2). How doth the building increase? "Be telling," he saith, "good tidings of His salvation from day to day." Let it be preached from day to day; from day to day, he saith, let it be built; let My house, saith God, increase. And as if it were said by the workmen, Where dost Thou command it to be built? Where dost Thou will Thy house to increase? Choose for us some level, spacious spot, if Thou wish an ample house built Thee. Where dost Thou bid us be telling good tidings from day to day? He showeth the place: "Declare His honour unto the heathen:" His honour, not yours. O ye builders, "Declare His honour unto the heathen." Should ye choose to declare your own honour, ye shall fall: if His, ye shall be built up, while ye are building. Therefore they who choose to declare their own honour, have refused to dwell in that house; and therefore they sing not a new song with all the earth.(3) For they do not share it with the whole round world; and hence they are not building in the house, but have erected a whited wall. How sternly doth God threaten the whited wall?(4) There are innumerable testimonies of the Prophets, whence He curseth the whited wall. What is the whited wall, save hypocrisy, that is, pretence? Without it is bright, within it is dirt. ... A certain person,(5) speaking of this whited wall, said thus: "as, if in a wall which standeth alone, and is not connected with any other walls, you make a door, whoever enters, is out of doors; so in that part which hath refused to sing the new song together with the house, but hath chosen to build a wall, and that a whited one, and not solid, what availeth it that it hath a door?" If thou enterest, thou art found to be without. For because they themselves did not enter by the door, their door also doth not admit them within. For the Lord saith, "I am the door: by Me they enter in."(6) ... "Declare His honour unto the heathen." What is, unto the heathen? Perhaps by nations but a few are meant: and that part which hath raised the whited wall hath still somewhat to say: why are not Getulia, Numidia, Mauritania, Byzacium, nations? Provinces are nations. Let the word of God take the word from hypocrisy, from the whited wall, building up the house over the whole world. It is not enough to say, "Declare His honour unto the heathen;" that thou mayest not think any nations excepted, he addeth, "and His wonders unto all people."
4. "For the Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised" (ver. 4). What Lord, except Jesus Christ, "is great, and cannot worthily be praised"? Ye know surely that He appeared as a Man: ye know surely that He was conceived in a woman's womb, ye know that He was born from the womb, that He was suckled, that He was carried in arms, circumcised, that a victim was offered for Him, that He grew; lastly, ye know that He was buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, was crucified, died, was pierced with a spear; ye know that He suffered all these things: "He is great, and cannot worthily be praised." Despise not what is little, understand what is great. He became little, because ye were such: let Him be acknowledged great, and in Him ye shall be great. ... For what can a small tongue say towards the praise of the Great One? By saying, Beyond praise,(7) he hath spoken, and hath given to imagination what it may conceive: as if saying, What I cannot utter, do thou reflect on; and when thou shalt have reflected, it will not be enough. What no man's thought uttereth, doth any man's tongue utter? "The Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised." Let Him be praised, and preached: His honour declared, and His house built.
5. ... For the spot where he wished to build the house, is itself woody, where it was said yesterday, "we found it in the wood."(8) For he was seeking that very house, when he said, "in the wood." And why is that spot woody? Men used to worship images: it is not wonderful that they fed hogs. For that son who left his father, and spent his all on harlots, living as a prodigal, used to feed hogs,(1) that is, to worship devils; and by this very superstition of the heathen, all the earth became a wood. But he who buildeth a house, rooteth up the wood; and for this reason it was said, "While the house was being built, after the captivity."(2) For men were held captive under the devil, and served devils; but they were redeemed from captivity. They could sell, but they could not redeem themselves. The Redeemer came, and gave a price; He poured forth His Blood, and bought the whole world. Ye ask what He bought? Ye see what He hath given; find out then what He bought. The Blood of Christ was the price. What is equal to this? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations? They are very ungrateful for their price, or very proud, who say that the price is so small that it bought the Africans only; or that they are so great, as that it was given for them alone. Let them not then exult, let them not be proud: He gave what He gave for the whole world. He knew what He bought, because He knew at what price He bought it. Thus because we are redeemed, the house is built after the captivity. And who are they who held us in captivity? Because they to whom it is said, "Declare His honour," are the clearers of the wood: that they may root out the wood, free the earth from captivity, and build, and raise up, by declaring the greatness of the Lord's house. How is the wood of devils cleared away, unless He who is above them all be preached? All nations then had devils for their gods: those whom they called gods, were devils, as the Apostle more openly saith, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God."(3) Since therefore they were in captivity, because they sacrificed to devils, and on that account the whole earth had remained woody; He is declared to be great, and above all worldly praise.
6. ... For when he had said, "He is more to be feared than all gods:" he added, "As for all the gods of the heathen, they are devils." ... Because "all the gods of the heathen are devils." And is this all the praise of Him who cannot worthily be praised, that He is above all the gods of the heathen, which are devils? Wait, and hear what followeth: "It is the Lord that made the heavens." Not above all gods only therefore, but above all the heavens which He made, is the Lord. If he were to say, "above all gods, for the gods of the heathen are devils," and if the praise of our Lord stopped here, he had said less than we are accustomed to think of Christ; but when he said, "But it is the Lord that made the heavens;" see what difference there is between the heavens and devils: and what between the heavens and Him who made the heavens; behold how exalted is the Lord. He said not, But the Lord sitteth above the heavens; for perhaps some one else might be imagined to have made them, upon which He was enthroned: but, "It is the Lord that made the heavens." If He made the heavens, He made the Angels also: Himself made the Angels, Himself made the Apostles. The devils yielded to the Apostles: but the Apostles themselves were heavens, who bore the Lord. ... O heavens, which He made, declare His honour unto the heathen! Let His house be built throughout the earth, let all the earth sing a new song.
7. "Confession and beauty are before Him" (ver. 6). Dost thou love beauty? Wishest thou to be beautiful? Confess! He said not, beauty and confession, but confession and beauty. Thou wast foul; confess, that thou mayest be fair: thou wast a sinner; confess, that thou mayest be righteous. Thou couldest deform thyself: thou canst not make thyself beautiful. But of what sort is our Betrothed, who hath loved one deformed, that he might make her fair? How, saith some one, loved He one deformed? "I came not," said He, "to call the righteous, but sinners."(4) Whom callest Thou? sinners, that they may remain sinners? No, saith He. And by what means will they cease to be sinners? "Confession and beauty are before Him." They honour Him by confession of their sins, they vomit the evils which they had greedily devoured; they return not to their vomit, like the unclean dog;(5) and there will then be confession and beauty: we love beauty; let us first choose confession, that beauty may follow. Again, there is one who loveth power and greatness: he wisheth to be great as the Angels are. There is a certain greatness in the Angels; and such power, that if the Angels exert it to the full, it cannot be withstood. And every man desireth the power of the Angels, but their righteousness every man loveth not. First love righteousness, and power shall follow thee. For what followeth here? "Holiness and greatness are in His sanctification." Thou wast before seeking for greatness: first love righteousness: when thou art righteous, thou shall also be great. For if thou preposterously dost wish first to be great, thou fallest before thou canst rise: for thou dost not rise, thou art raised up. Thou risest better, if He raise thee who falleth not. For He who falleth not descendeth unto thee: thou hadst fallen: He descendeth, He hath stretched forth His hand unto thee; thou canst not rise by thy own strength, embrace the hand of Him who descendeth, that thou mayest be raised up by the Strong One.
8. What then? If "confession and beauty are before Him: holiness and greatness in His sanctification" (ver. 7). This we declare, when we are building the house; behold, it is already declared unto the heathen; what ought the heathen to do, to whom those who have cleared away the wood have declared the Lord's honour? He now saith to the heathen themselves, "Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people: ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour." Ascribe them not unto yourselves: because they also who have declared it unto you, have not declared their own, but His honour. Do ye then "ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour;" and say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us: but unto Thy Name give the praise."(1) Put not your trust in man. If each of you is baptized, let him say: He baptizeth me, of whom the friend of the Bridegroom said, "He baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."(2) For when ye say this, ye ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour: "Ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour."
9. Ascribe unto the Lord glory unto His Name" (ver. 8). Not unto the name of man, not unto your own name, but unto His ascribe worship. ... Confession is a present unto God. O heathen, if ye will enter into His courts, enter not empty. "Bring presents." What presents shall we bring with us? The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, shalt not Thou despise."(3) Enter with an humble heart into the house of God, and thou hast entered with a present. But if thou art proud, thou enterest empty. For whence wouldest thou be proud, if thou wert not empty? For if thou wast full, thou wouldest not be puffed up. How couldest thou be full? If thou weft to bring a present, which thou shouldest carry to the courts of the Lord. Let us not retain you much longer: let us run over what remaineth. Behold the house increasing: behold the edifice pervade the whole world. Rejoice, because ye have entered into the courts; rejoice, because ye are being built into the temple of God. For those who enter are themselves built up, they themselves are the house of God: He is the inhabitor, for whom the house is built over the whole world, and this "after the captivity." "Bring presents, and come into His courts."
10. "O worship the Lord in His holy court" (ver. 9): in the Catholic Church; this is His holy court. Let no man say, "Lo, here is Christ, or there. For there shall arise false prophets."(4) Say this unto them,(5) "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Ye are calling me to the whited wall; I adore my God in His holy court. "Let the whole earth be moved before His face."
11. "Tell it out among the nations, that the Lord reigneth from the wood:(6) and that it is He who hath made the round world so fast that it cannot be moved" (ver. 10). What testimonies of the building of the house of God! The clouds of heaven thunder out throughout the world that God's house is being built; and the frogs cry from the marsh,(7) We alone are Christians. What testimonies do I bring forward? That of the Psalter. I bring forward what thou singest as one deaf: open thine ears; thou singest this; thou singest with me, and thou agreest not with me; thy tongue soundeth what mine doth, and yet thine heart disagreeth with mine. Dost thou not sing this? Behold the testimonies of the whole world: "Let the whole earth be moved before His face:" and dost thou say, that thou art not moved? "Tell it out among the heathen, that the Lord hath reigned from the wood." Shall men perchance prevail here, and say they reign by wood, because they reign by means of the clubs of their bandits?(8) Reign by the Cross of Christ, if thou art to reign by wood. For this wood of thine maketh thee wooden: the wood of Christ passeth thee across the sea. Thou hearest the Psalm saying, "He hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved;" and thou sayest it hath not only been moved since it was made fast, but hath also decreased. Dost thou speak the truth, and the Psalmist falsehood? Do the false prophets, when they cry out, "Lo, here is Christ, and there,"(9) speak truth; and doth this Prophet lie? Brethren, against these most open words ye hear in the corners rumours like these; "such an one was a traditor," and, "such an one was a traditor."(10) What dost thou say? Are thy words, or the words of God, to be heard? For, "it is He who hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved." I show unto thee the round world built: bring thy present, and come into the courts of the Lord. Thou hast no presents: and on that account thou art not willing to enter. What is this? If God were to appoint unto thee a bull, goat, or ram, for a present, thou wouldest find one to bring: He hath appointed a humble heart, and thou wilt not enter; for thou findest not this in thyself, because thou art swollen with pride. "He hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved: and He shall judge the people righteously." Then shall they mourn, who now refuse to love righteousness.
12. "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad" (ver. 11). Let the heavens, which declare the glory of God, rejoice; let the heavens rejoice, which the Lord made; let the earth be glad, which the heavens rain upon. For the heavens are the preachers, the earth the listeners. "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof." What sea? The world. The sea hath been stirred up, and the fulness thereof: the whole world was roused up against the Church, while it was being extended and built over all the earth. Concerning this stirring up, ye have heard in the Gospel, "They shall deliver you up to councils."(1) "The sea was stirred up: but how should the sea ever conquer Him who made it?
13. "The plains shall be joyful, and all things that are in them" (ver. 12). All the meek, all the gentle, all the righteous, are the "plains" of God. "Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice." The trees of the woods are the heathen. Why do they rejoice? Because they were cut off from the wild olive, and engraffed into the good olive.(2) "Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice: "because huge cedars and cypresses have been cut down, and undecaying timbers have been bought for the building of the house. They were trees of the woods; but before they were sent to the building: they were trees of the woods, but before they produced the olive.
14. "Before the face of the Lord. For He cometh, for He cometh to judge the world" (ver. 13). He came at first, and will come again. He first came in His Church in clouds. What are the clouds which bore Him? The Apostles who preached, respecting whom ye have heard, when the Epistle was being read: "We are ambassadors," he saith, "for Christ: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."(3) These are the clouds in whom He cometh, excepting His last Advent, when He will come to judge the quick and the dead. He came first in the clouds. This was His first voice which sounded forth in the Gospel: "From this time shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds."(4) What is, "from this time"? Will not the Lord come in later times, when all the tribes of the earth shall mourn? He first came in His own preachers, and filled the whole round world. Let us not resist His first coming, that we may not tremble at His second. "But woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days!"(5) Ye have heard but now in the Gospel: "Take ye heed, for ye know not at what hour He cometh."(6) This is said figuratively. Who are those with child, and who give suck? Those who are with child, are the souls whose hope is in the world: but those who have gained what they hoped for, are meant by "they who give suck." For example: one wisheth to buy a country seat; he is with child, for his object is not gained as yet, the womb swelleth in hope: he buyeth it; he hath brought forth, he now giveth suck to what he hath bought. "Woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days!" Woe to those who put their hope in the world; woe to them that cling to those things which they brought forth through hope in the world. What then should the Christian do? He should use, not serve, the world.(7) What is this? Those that have as those that have not.... He who is without carefulness, waiteth without fear for his Lord's coming. For what sort of love is it of Christ, to fear lest He come? Brethren, are we not ashamed? We love Him, and yet we fear lest He come. Are we sure that we love Him? or do we love our sins more? Therefore let us hate our sins for their own sake, and love Him who will come to punish our sins. He will come, whether we like or not: for because He cometh not just now, it is no reason that He will not come at all. He will come, and when thou knowest not; and if He shall find thee ready, thy ignorance is no hurt to thee. "Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for He cometh:" at His first coming. And what afterwards? "For He cometh to judge the earth. And all the trees of the woods shall rejoice." He came first: and later to judge the earth: He shall find those rejoicing who believed in His first coming, "for He cometh."
15. "For with righteousness shall He judge the world:" not a part of it, for He bought not a part: He will judge the whole, for it was the whole of which He paid the price. Ye have heard the Gospel, where it saith, that when He cometh, "He shall gather together His elect from the four winds."(8) He gathereth all His elect from the four winds: therefore from the whole world. For Adam(9) himself (this I had said before) signifieth in Greek the whole world; for there are four letters, A, D, A, and M. But as the Greeks speak, the four quarters of the world have these initial letters, Anatolh`, they call the East; Du'sis, the West; A'rktos, the North; Meshmbri'a, the South: thou hast the word Adam. Adam therefore hath been scattered over the whole world. He was in one place, and fell, and as in a manner broken small,(10) he filled the whole world: but the mercy of God gathered together the fragments from every side, and forged(1) them by the fire of love, and made one what was broken. That Artist knew how to do this; let no one despair: it is indeed a great thing, but reflect who that Artist was. He who made, restored: He who formed, reformed. What are righteousness and truth? He will gather together His elect with Him to the judgment, but the rest He will separate one from another; for He will place some on the right, others on the left hand. But what is more just, what more true, than that they shall not expect mercy from their Judge, who have refused to act mercifully, before their Judge come? But those who chose to act with mercy, with mercy shall be judged. ...
1. ... This Psalm is entitled, "A Psalm of David's, when his land was restored." Let us refer the whole to Christ, if we wish to keep the road of a right understanding: let us not depart from the corner stone,(3) lest our understanding suffer a fall: in Him let that become fixed, which wavered with unstable motion; let that rest upon Him, which before was waving to and fro in uncertainty. Whatever doubt a man hath in his mind when he heareth the Scriptures of God, let him not depart from Christ; when Christ hath been revealed to him in the words, let him then be assured that he hath understood; but before he arriveth at the understanding of Christ, let him not presume that he hath understood. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."(4) What doth this mean, and how are these words understood in Christ, "When his land was restored"? ...
2. The earth restored is the resurrection of the flesh; for after His resurrection, all those things which are sung of in the Psalm were done. Let us then hear a Psalm full of joy on the restoration of the Earth. Let the Lord our God excite in us a hope and a pleasure worthy of so great a thing; may He rule our discourse, that it be fit for your hearts, that whatever joy our heart doth feel in such sights, He may bring on to our tongue, and thence conduct it into your ears, then to your heart, thence to your actions.
3. ... "The Lord is King, let the earth be glad: yea, let the multitude of the isles be joyous" (ver. 1). It is so indeed, because the word of God hath been preached not in the continent alone, but also in those isles which lie in mid sea: even these are full of Christians, full of the servants of God. For the sea doth not retard Him who made it. Where ships can approach, cannot the words of God? The isles are filled. But figuratively the isles may be taken for all the Churches. Why isles? Because the waves of all temptations roar around them. But as an isle may be beaten by the waves which on every side dash around it, yet cannot be broken, and rather itself doth break the advancing waves, than by them is broken: so also the Churches of God, springing up throughout the world, have suffered the persecutions of the ungodly, who roar around them on every side; and behold the isles stand fixed, and at last the sea is calmed.
4. "Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the direction of His seat" (ver. 2). ... The Lord Himself saith: "For judgment I am come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind."(5) They who seem unto themselves to see, who think themselves wise, who think healing not needful for them, that they may be made blind, may not understand. And that "they which see not may see;" that they who confess their blindness may obtain to be enlightened. Let there be therefore "clouds and darkness round about Him," for those who have not understood Him: for those who confess and humble themselves, "righteousness and judgment are the direction of His seat." He called those who believe in Him His seat: for from them hath He made Himself a seat, since in them Wisdom sitteth; for the Son of God is the Wisdom of God. But we have heard from another passage of Scripture a strong confirmation of this interpretation. "The soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom."(6) Because then they who have believed in Him have been made righteous: justitled by faith, they have become His own seat: He sitteth in them, judging from them, and guiding them. ...
5. "There shall go a fire before Him, and burn up His enemies on every side" (ver. 3). We remember having read in the Gospel, He shall say, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."(7) I do not think it is said of that fire. Why do I not? Because he speaketh of some fire, which shall go before Him, before He cometh to judgment. For it is said, that the fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies on every side, that is, throughout the whole world. That fire will burn after His advent: this, on the contrary, will go before Him. What fire then is this?... Behold, we have understood the fire that goeth before Him, that is to be understood of a kind of temporal punishment of the unbelieving and ungodly: let us understand the fire, if possible, of the salvation of the redeemed also; for thus we had proposed. The Lord Himself saith: "I am come to send fire on the earth:(1) "fire" in the same way as a "sword;" as in another passage He saith, that He was not come to send peace, but a sword, upon earth.(2) The sword to divide, the fire to burn: but each salutary: for the sword of His own word hath in salutary wise separated us from evil habits. For He brought a sword, and separated every believer either from his father who believed not in Christ, or from his mother in like manner unbelieving: or at least, if we were born of Christian parents, from his ancestors. For no man among us had not either a grandsire, or great grandsire, or some ancestry among the heathen, and in that unbelief which is accursed before God. We are separated from that which we were before; but the sword which separateth, but slayeth not, hath cut between us. In the same way the fire also: "I am come to send fire upon the earth." Believers in Him were set on fire, they received the flame of love: and for this reason when the Holy Spirit itself had been sent to the Apostles, It thus appeared: "cloven tongues, like as of fire."(3) Burning with this fire they set out on their march through the world, to burn and set on fire His enemies on every side. What enemies of His? They who forsaking the God who made them, adored the idols they had made. ...
6. "His lightnings gave shine unto the world" (ver. 4). This is great joy. Do we not see? is it not clear? His lightnings have shined unto the whole world: His enemies have been set on fire, and burnt. All that gainsaid hath been burnt, and "His lightnings have given shine unto the world." How have they shone? That the world might at length believe. Whence were the lightnings? From the clouds. What are the clouds of God? The preachers of the truth. But thou seest a cloud, misty and dark in the sky, and it hath I know not what hidden within it. If there be' lightning from the cloud, a brightness shineth forth: from that which thou didst despise, hath burst forth that which thou mayest dread. Our Lord Jesus Christ therefore sent His Apostles, as His preachers, like clouds: they were seen as men, and were despised; as clouds appear, and are despised, until what thou wonderest at gleameth from them. For they were in the first place men encumbered with flesh, weak; then, men of low station, unlearned, ignoble: but there was within what could lighten forth; there was in them what could flash abroad. Peter a fisherman approached, prayed, and the dead arose.(4) His human form was a cloud, the splendour of the miracle was the lightning. So in their words, so in their deeds, when they do things to be wondered at, and utter words to be wondered at, "His lightnings gave shine unto the world; the earth saw it, and was afraid." Is it not true? Doth not the whole Christian world at length exclaim, Amen, afraid at the lightnings which burst forth from those clouds?
7. "The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord" (ver. 5). Who are the hills? The proud. Every high thing raising itself against God, at the deeds of Christ and of the Christians, trembled, yielded, and when I say, what hath been already said, "melted," a better word cannot be found. "The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord." Where is the elevation of powers? where the hardness of the unbelieving? The Lord was a fire unto them, they melted at His presence like wax; so long hard, until that fire was applied. Every height hath been levelled; it dareth not now blaspheme Christ: and though the Pagan believeth not in Him, he blasphemeth Him not; though not as yet become a living stone, yet the hard hill hath been subdued. "At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth:" not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, as the Apostle saith; for He is not the God of the Jews alone, but of the Gentiles also.(5) He is therefore the Lord of the whole earth, the Lord Jesus Christ born in Judaea, but not born for Judaea alone, because before He was born He created all men; and He who created, also new created, all men.
8. "The heavens have declared His righteousness: and all the people have seen His glory" (ver. 6). What heavens have declared? "The heavens declare the glory of God."(6) Who are the heavens? Those who have become His seat; for as God sitteth in the heavens, so doth He sit in the Apostles, so doth He sit in the preachers of the Gospel. Even thou, if thou wilt, shalt be a heaven. Dost thou wish to be so? Purge from thy heart the earth. If thou hast not earthly lusts, and hast not in vain uttered the response, that thou hast "lifted up thy heart," thou shalt be a heaven.(7) "If ye be risen with Christ," saith the Apostle to believers, "set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth."(8) Thou hast begun to set thine affection upon things above, not on things upon earth; hast thou not become a heaven? Thou carriest flesh, and in thy heart thou art already a heaven; for thy conversation will be in heaven.(9) Being such, thou also declarest I Christ; for who of the faithful declareth not Christ? ... Therefore the whole Church preacheth Christ, and the heavens declare His righteousness; for all the faithful, whose care it is to gain unto God those who have not yet believed, and who do this from love, are heavens. From them God thundereth forth the terror of His judgment; and he who was unbelieving trembleth, and is alarmed, and believeth. He shows unto men what power Christ had throughout the world, by pleading with them, and leading them to love Christ. For how many this day have led their friends either to some pantomimist, or flute-player? Why, except from their liking him? And do ye love Christ. For He who conquered the world hath exhibited such spectacles, as that no man can say that he findeth in them cause for blame. For each person's favourite in the theatre is often vanquished there. But no man is vanquished in Christ: there is no reason for shame. Seize, lead, draw, whom ye may: be without fear, ye are leading unto Him, who displeaseth not those who see Him; and ask ye Him to enlighten them, that they may behold to good account.
9. "Confounded be all they that worship carved images" (ver. 7). Hath not this come to pass? Have they not been confounded? Are they not daily confounded? For carved images are images wrought by the hand. Why are all who worship carved images confounded? Because all people have seen His glory. All nations now confess the glory of Christ: let those who worship stones be ashamed. Because those stones were dead, we have found a living Stone; indeed those stones never lived, so that they cannot be called even dead; but our Stone is living, and hath ever lived with the Father, and though He died for us, He revived, and liveth now, and death shall no more have dominion over Him.(1) This glory of His the nations have acknowledged; they leave the temples, they run to the Churches. Do they still seek to worship carved images? Have they not chosen to forsake their idols? They have been forsaken by their idols. "Who glory in their idols." But there is a certain disputer who seemeth unto himself learned, and saith, I do not worship that stone, nor that image which is without sense; ... I worship not this image but I adore(2) what I see, and serve him whom see not. Who is that? Some invisible deity, he replieth, who presideth over that image. By giving this account of their images, they seem to themselves able disputants, because they do not worship idols, and yet do worship devils. "The things," brethren, saith the Apostle, "which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God; we know that an idol is nothing: and that what the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils."(3) Let them not therefore excuse themselves on this ground, that they are not devoted to insensate idols; they are rather devoted to devils, which is more dangerous. For if they were only worshipping idols, as they would not help them, so they would not hurt them; but if thou worship and serve devils, they themselves will be thy masters. ...
10. But observe holy men, who are like the Angels. When thou hast found some holy man who serveth God, if thou wish to worship him instead of God, he forbiddeth thee: he will not arrogate to himself the honour due to God, he will not be unto thee as God, but be with thee under God. Thus did the holy Apostles Paul and Barnabas. They preached the word of God in Lycaonia. When they had performed wonderful works in Lycaonia, the people of that country brought victims, and wished to sacrifice to them, calling Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercury: they were not pleased. Did they perchance refuse to be sacrificed to, because they abhorred to be compared to devils? No, but because they shuddered at divine honour being paid to men. Their own words show this: it is no guess of ours; for the text of the book goeth on to say how they were moved.(4) ... Just then, as good men forbade those who had wished to worship them as gods, and wish rather that God alone be worshipped, God alone be adored, to God alone sacrifice be offered, not to themselves; so also all the holy Angels seek His glory whom they love; endeavour to impel and to excite to the contemplation of Him all whom they love: Him they declare to them, not themselves, since they are angels; and because they are soldiers, they study only how to seek the glory of their Captain; but if they have sought their own glory, they are condemned as usurpers.(5) Such were the devil and his angels; he claimed for himself divine honour, and for all his demons; he filled the Pagan temples, and persuaded them to offer images and sacrifices to himself. Was it not better to worship holy Angels than devils? They answer: we do not worship devils; we worship angels, as ye call them, the powers and the ministers of the great God. I wish ye would worship them: ye would easily learn from themselves not to worship them.(6) Hear an Angel teaching. He was teaching a disciple of Christ, and showing him many wonders in the Revelation of John: and when some wonderful vision had been shown him, he trembled, and fell down at the Angel's feet; but that Angel, who sought not but the glory of God, said, "See thou do it not; for I am a fellow-servant of thee, and of thy brethren the prophets."(7) What then, my brethren? Let no man say, I fear lest the Angel may be angry with me, if I worship him not as my God. He is then angry with thee, when thou hast chosen to worship him: for he is righteous, and loveth God. As devils are angry if they are not worshipped, so are Angels angry if they are worshipped instead of God. But lest the weak and trembling heart perchance say unto itself: If then the demons are incensed because they are not worshipped, I fear to offend them; what can even their chief the devil do unto thee? If he had any power over us no one of us would remain. Are not daily so many things said against him by the mouth of Christians, and yet the harvest of Christians increaseth. When thou art angry with the most depraved of thy slaves, thou givest him the name, "Satan," Devil. Perhaps in this thou dost err, since thou sayest it to a man, and thy immoderate anger hurrieth thee to revile the image of God: and yet thou choosest a term thou deeply hatest, to apply to him. If he could, would he not revenge himself? But it is not allowed: and he doth so much only as is allowed him. For when he wished to tempt Job, he had to ask power to do so:(1) and he could do nothing had he not received power. Why then dost thou not fearlessly worship God, without whose will no one hurteth thee, and by whose permission thou art: chastened, not overcome? For if it shall have pleased the Lord thy God to permit some man to hurt thee, or some spirit: He will chasten thee, that thou mayest cry unto Him:(2) "Confounded," therefore, "be all they that delight in vain gods: worship Him, all ye His angels." Let Pagans learn to worship God: they wish to worship Angels: let them imitate Angels, and worship Him who is worshipped by Angels. "Worship Him, all ye His angels." Let that Angel worship who was sent to Cornelius (for worshipping Him he sent Cornelius to Peter), himself Peter's fellow-servant; let him worship Christ, Peter's Lord. "Worship Him, all ye gods!"
11. "Sion heard of it, and rejoiced" (ver. 8). What did Sion hear? That all His Angels worship Him. ... For the Church was not as yet among the Gentiles; in Judaea the Jews had some of them believed, and the very Jews who believed thought that they only belonged to Christ: the Apostles were sent to the Gentiles, Cornelius was preached to; Cornelius believed, was baptized, and they who were with Cornelius were also baptized.(3) But ye know what happened, that they might be baptized: the reader indeed hath not reached this point, but, nevertheless, some recollect; and let those who do not recollect, hear briefly from me. The Angel was sent to Cornelius: the Angel sent Cornelius to Peter; Peter came to Cornelius. And because Cornelius and his household were Gentiles, and uncircumcised: lest they might hesitate to give the Gospel to the uncircumcised: before Cornelius and his household were baptized, the Holy Spirit came, and filled them, and they began to speak with tongues. Now the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any one who had not been baptized: but upon these It fell before baptism. For Peter might hesitate whether he might baptize the uncircumcised: the Holy Spirit came, they began to speak with tongues; the invisible gift was given, and took away all doubt about the visible Sacrament; they were all baptized. ... What did Sion hear, and rejoice at? That the Gentiles also had received the word of God. One wall had come, but the corner existed not as yet. The name Sion is here peculiarly given to the Church which was in Judaea. "Sion heard of it, and rejoiced: and the daughters of Judah were glad." Thus it is written, "The apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard." See if the daughters of Judaea rejoiced not. What did they hear? "That the Gentiles had also received the word of God." ... Therefore, "The daughters of Judah rejoiced because of Thy judgments, O Lord." What is, because of Thy judgments? Because in any nation, and in any people, he that serveth Him is accepted of Him:(4) for He is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.(5)
12. See if this be not the reason for the joy of the daughters of Judah. "For Thou, Lord, art most high over all the earth" (ver. 9). Not in Judaea alone, but over Jerusalem; not over Sion only, but over all the earth. To this whole earth the judgments of God prevailed, so that it assembled its nations from every quarter: judgments with which they who have cut themselves off have no communion: they neither hear the prophecy, nor see its completion; "For Thou, Lord, art most high over all the earth: Thou art exalted far above all gods." What is "far"?(6) For it is said of Christ. What then meaneth "far," except that Thou mayest be acknowledged coequal with the Father? What meaneth, "above all gods"? Who are they? Idols have not life, have not sense: devils have life and sense; but they are evil. What great thing is it that Christ is exalted above devils? He is exalted above devils: but neither is this very great; the heathen gods indeed are devils,(7) but "He is far above all gods." Even men are styled gods: "I have said, Ye are gods: and ye are all the children of the Most Highest:" again it is written, "God standeth in the congregation of princes: He is a Judge among gods."(8) Jesus Christ our Lord is exalted above all: not only above idols, not only above devils; but above all righteous men. Even this is not enough; above all Angels also: for whence otherwise is this, "Worship Him, all ye gods"? "Thou art far exalted above all gods."
13. What then do we all, who have assembled before Him, before Him who is exalted far above all gods? He hath given us a brief commandment, "O ye that love the Lord, see that ye hate the thing which is evil!" (ver. 10). Christ doth not deserve that with Him thou shouldest love avarice. Thou lovest Him: thou shouldest hate what He hateth. There is a man who is thine enemy, he is what thou art; ye are the work of one Creator, with the same nature: and yet if thy son were to speak unto thine enemy, and come to his house, and constantly converse with him, thou wouldest be inclined to disinherit him; because he speaketh with thine enemy. And how so? Because thou seemest to say Justly, Thou art my enemy's friend, and seekest thou aught of my property? Attend then. Thou lovest Christ: avarice is Christ's foe; why speak with her? I say not, speak with her; why dost thou serve her? For Christ commandeth thee to do many things, and thou dost them not; she commandeth thee, and thou dost them. Christ commandeth thee to clothe the poor man: and thou dost it not; avarice biddeth thee defraud, and this thou dost in preference. If such be the case, if such thou art, do not very confidently promise thyself Christ's heritage. But thou sayest, I love Christ. Hence it appeareth that thou lovest what is good, if thou shalt be found to hate what is evil. ...
14. Because then he had said above, "see that ye hate the thing which is evil," lest ye should fear to hate evil, lest he should kill thee, he addeth instantly, "The Lord preserveth the souls of His servants." Hear Him preserving the souls of His servants, and saying, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."(1) He who hath most power against thee, slayeth the body. What hath he done unto thee? What he also did to the Lord thy God. Why lovest thou to have what Christ hath, if thou fearest to suffer what Christ did? He came to bear thy life, temporal, weak, subject unto death. Surely fear to die, if thou canst avoid dying. What thou canst not avoid through thy nature, why dost thou not undergo by faith? Let the adversary who threateneth take away from thee that life, God giveth thee another life: for He gave thee this life also, and without His will even this shall not be taken from thee; but if it be His will that it be taken from thee, He hath a life to give thee in exchange; fear not to be robbed for His sake. Art thou unwilling to put off a patched garment? He will give thee a robe of glory. What robe dost thou tell me of? "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."(2) This very flesh of thine shall not perish. Thine enemy can rage as far as to thy death: he hath not power beyond, either over thy soul, or even over thy flesh; for although he scatter thy flesh about, he hindereth not the resurrection. Men were fearful for their life: and what said the Lord unto them? "The very hairs of your head are all numbered."(3) Dost thou, who losest not a single hair, fear the loss of thy life? All things are numbered with God. He who created all things, will restore all things. They were not, and they were created: they were, and shall they not be restored? ... "He shall deliver them from the hand of the ungodly."
15. But perhaps thou wilt say, I lose this light. "There is sprung up a light for the righteous" (ver. 11). What light fearest thou thou mayest lose? fearest thou thou mayest be in darkness? Fear not thou mayest lose light; nay, fear lest while thou art guarding against the loss of this light, thou mayest lose that true light. For we see to whom that light is given which thou fearest losing, and with whom it is shared. Do the righteous only see this sun, when He maketh it rise over the just and unjust, and raineth upon the just and unjust?(4) Wicked men, robbers, the unchaste, beasts, flies, worms, see that light together with thee. What sort of light doth He keep for the righteous, who giveth this even to such as these? Deservedly the Martyrs beheld this light in faith; for they who despised this light of the sun, had some light in their eyes, which they longed for, who rejected this. Do you imagine that they were really in misery, when they walked in chains? Spacious was the prison to the faithful, light were the chains to the confessors. They who preached Christ amid their torments, had joy in the iron-chair. What light hath sprung up for the righteous? Not that which springeth up for the unrighteous; not that which He causeth to rise over the good and bad. There is a different light which springeth up to the righteous; of which light, that never rose upon themselves, the unrighteous shall in the end say, "Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined upon us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us."(5) Behold, by loving this sun they have lain in the darkness of the heart. What did it profit them to have seen with their eyes this sun, and not in mind to have seen that light? Tobit was blind, but he used to teach his son the way of God. Ye know this, that Tobit warned his son, and said to him, "Son, give alms of thy substance; because that alms suffer not to come into darkness."(1) Even he who was in darkness spoke thus. ... Dost thou wish to know that light? Be true-hearted. What is, be true-hearted? Be not of a crooked heart before God, withstanding His will, and wishing to bend Him unto thee, and not to rule thyself to please Him; and thou wilt feel the joyful gladness which all the true-hearted know.
16. "Be glad, ye righteous" (ver. 12). Perhaps already the faithful hearing the word, "Be glad," are thinking of banquets, preparing cups, waiting for the season of roses; because it is said, "Be glad, ye righteous!" See what followeth, "Be glad in the Lord." Thou art waiting for the season of spring, that thou mayest be glad: thou hast the Lord for joyful gladness, the Lord is always with thee, He hath no special season; thou hast Him by night, thou hast Him by day. Be true-hearted; and thou hast ever joy from Him. For that joy which is after the fashion of the world, is not true joy. Hear the prophet Isaiah: "There is no joy, saith my God, to the wicked."(2) What the wicked call joy is not joy, such as he knew who made no account of their joy: let us believe him, brethren. He was a man, but he knew both kinds of joy. He certainly knew the joys of the cup, for he was a man, he knew the joy of the table, he knew the joys of marriage, he knew those joys worldly and luxurious. He who knew them saith with confidence, "There is no joy to the wicked, saith the Lord." But it is not man who speaks, it is the Lord. ... But thou sayest, I see not that light which Isaiah saw. Believe, and thou shalt see it. For perhaps thou hast not the eye to see it; for it is an eye by which that beauty is discerned. For as there is an eye of the flesh, by means of which this light is seen: so there is an eye of the heart, by which that joy is perceived: perhaps that eye is wounded, dimmed, disturbed by passion, by avarice, by indulgence, by senseless lust; thine eye is disturbed: thou canst not see that light. Believe, before thou seest: thou shalt be healed, and shalt see.
17. "And confess to the remembrance of His holiness." Now made glad, now rejoicing in the Lord, confess unto Him; for unless it were His will, ye would not rejoice in Him. For the Lord Himself saith: "These things I have spoken to you: that in Me ye might have peace. But in the world ye shall have tribulation."(3) If ye are Christians, look for tribulations in this world; look not for more peaceful and better times. Brethren, ye deceive yourselves; what the Gospel doth not promise you, promise not to yourselves. Ye know what the Gospel saith; we are speaking to Christians; we ought not to disobey the faith. The Gospel saith this, that in the last times many evils, many stumbling-blocks, many tribulations, much iniquity, shall abound; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.(4) "The love," it saith, "of many shall wax cold." Whosoever then hath been stedfastly fervent in spirit, as the Apostle saith," fervent in spirit,"(5) his love shall not wax cold: because "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."(6) Let no man therefore promise himself what the Gospel doth not promise. Behold, happier times will come, and I am doing this, and purchasing this. It is good for thee to listen to Him who is not deceived, nor hath deceived any man, who promised thee joy not here, but in Himself; and when all here hath passed away, to hope that with Him thou wilt for ever reign; lest when thou dost wish to reign here, thou mayest neither enjoy gladness here, nor find it there.
1. "O sing unto the Lord a new song" (ver. 1). The new man knoweth this, the old man knoweth it not. The old man is the old life, and the new man the new life: the old life is derived from Adam, the new life is formed in Christ. But in this Psalm, the whole world is enjoined to sing a new song. More openly elsewhere the words are these: "O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth;"(8) that they who cut themselves off from the communion of the whole earth,(9) may understand that they cannot sing the new song, because it is sung in the whole, and not in a part of it. Attend here also, and see that this is said. And when the whole earth is enjoined to sing a new song, it is meant, that peace singeth a new song. "For He hath done marvelous things." What marvellous things? Behold, the Gospel was just now being read, and we heard the marvellous things of the Lord. The only son of his mother, who was a widow, was being carried out dead: the Lord, in compassion, made them stand still; they laid him down, and the Lord said, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise."(10)... "The Lord hath done marvellous things." What marvellous things? Hear: "His own right hand, and His holy arm, hath healed for Him." What is the Lord's holy Arm? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Hear Isaiah: "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"(11) His holy arm then, and His own right hand, is Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the arm of God, and the right hand of God for this reason is it said, "hath He healed for Him." It is not said only, "His right hand hath healed the world," but "hath healed for Him." For many are healed for themselves, not for Him. Behold how many long for that bodily health, and receive it from Him: they are healed by Him, but not for Him. How are they healed by Him, and not for Him? When they have received health, they become wanton: they who when sick were chaste, when cured become adulterers: they who when in illness injured no man, on the recovery of their strength attack and crush the innocent: they are healed, but not unto Him. Who is he who is healed unto Him? He who is healed inwardly. Who is he that is healed inwardly? He who trusteth in Him, that when he shall have been healed inwardly, reformed into a new man, afterwards this mortal flesh too, which doth languish for a time, may in the end itself even recover its most perfect health. Let us therefore be healed for Him. But that we may be healed for Him, let us believe in His right hand.
2. "The Lord hath made known His salvation" (ver. 2). This very right hand, this very arm, this very salvation, is our Lord Jesus Christ of whom it is said, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God;"(1) of whom also that Simeon who embraced the Infant in his arms, spoke, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."(2) "The Lord hath made known His salvation." To whom did He make it known? To a part, or to the whole? Not to any part specially. Let no man betray, no man deceive, no man: say, "Lo, here is Christ, or there:"(3) the man who saith, Lo, He is here, or there, pointeth to some particular spots. To whom "hath the Lord declared His salvation"? Hear what followeth: "His righteousness hath He openly showed in the sight of the heathen." Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the right hand of God, the arm of God, the salvation of God, and the righteousness of God.
3. "He hath remembered His mercy to Jacob, and His truth unto the house of Israel" (ver. 3). What meaneth this, "He hath remembered His mercy and truth"? He hath pitied, so that He promised; because He promised and showed His mercy, truth hath followed: mercy hath gone before promise, promise hath been fulfilled in truth. ...
"And His truth unto the house of Israel." Who is this Israel? That ye may not perchance think of one nation of the Jews, hear what followeth: "All the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God." It is not said, all the earth: but, "all the ends of the world:" as it is said, from one end to the other. Let no man cut this down, let no man scatter it abroad; strong is the unity of Christ. He who gave so great a price, hath bought the whole: "All the ends of the world."
4. Because they have seen, then, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands" (ver. 4). Ye already know what it is to make a joyful noise. Rejoice, and speak. If ye cannot express your joy, shout ye; let the shout manifest your joy, if your speech cannot: yet let not joy be mute; let not your heart be silent respecting its God, let it not be mute concerning His gifts. If thou speakest to thyself, unto thyself art thou healed; if His right hand hath healed thee for Him, speak thou unto Him for whom thou hast been healed. "Sing, rejoice, and make melody."
5. "Make melody unto the Lord upon the harp: on the harp and with the voice of a Psalm" (ver. 5 ). Praise Him not with the voice only; take up works, that ye may not only sing, but work also. He who singeth and worketh, maketh melody with psaltery and upon the harp. Now see what sort of instruments are next spoken of, in figure: "With ductile trumpets also, and the sound of the pipe of horn" (ver. 6). What are ductile trumpets, and pipes of horn? Ductile trumpets are of brass: they are drawn out by hammering; if by hammering, by being beaten, ye shall be ductile trumpets, drawn out unto the praise of God, if ye improve when in tribulation: tribulation is hammering, improvement is the being drawn out. Job was a ductile trumpet, when suddenly assailed by the heaviest losses, and the death of his sons, become like a ductile trumpet by the beating of so heavy tribulation, he sounded thus: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."(4) How did he sound? How pleasantly doth his voice sound? This ductile trumpet is still under the hammer. ... We have heard how he was hammered; let us hear how he soundeth: let us, if it please you, hear the sweet sound of this ductile trumpet: "What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" O courageous, O sweet sound! whom will not that sound awake from sleep? whom will not confidence in God awake, to march to battle fearlessly against the devil; not to struggle with his own strength, but His who proveth him. For He it is who hammereth: for the hammer could not do so of itself. ... See how (I dare so speak, my brethren) even the Apostle was beaten with this very hammer: he saith, "there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me."(1) Behold he is under the hammer: let us hear how he speaketh of it: "For this thing," be saith, "I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." I, saith His Maker, wish to make this trumpet perfect; I cannot do so unless I hammer it; in weakness is strength made perfect. Hear now the ductile trumpet itself sounding as it should: "When I am weak, then am I strong." ...
6. The voice of the pipe of horn, what is it? The horn riseth above the flesh: in rising above the flesh it needs must be solid so as to last, and able to speak. And whence this? Because it hath surpassed the flesh. He who wisheth to be a horn trumpet, let him overcome the flesh. What meaneth this, let him overcome the flesh? Let him surpass the desires, let him conquer the lusts of the flesh Hear the horn trumpets. ... What meaneth this, "Set your affection on things above"? It meaneth, Rise above the flesh, think not of carnal things. They were not yet horn trumpets, to whom he now spoke thus: "I could not speak unto you, brethren, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it: neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal."(2) They were not therefore horn trumpets, because they had not risen above the flesh. Horn both adhereth to the flesh, and riseth above the flesh; and although it springeth from the flesh, yet it surpasseth it. If therefore thou art spiritual, when before thou wast carnal; as yet thou art treading the earth in the flesh, but in spirit thou art rising into heaven; for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. ... Brethren, do not reproach brethren whom the mercy of God hath not yet converted; know that as long as ye do this, ye savour of the flesh. That is not a trumpet which pleaseth the ears of God: the trumpet of boastfulness maketh the war fruitless. Let the horn trumpet raise thy courage against the devil; let not the fleshly trumpet raise thy pride against thy brother. "Make a joyful noise in the sight of the Lord the King."
7. While ye are rejoicing, and delighted with the ductile trumpets, and the voice of the horn, what followeth? "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof" (ver. 7). Brethren, when the Apostles, like ductile trumpets and horns, were preaching the truth, the sea was stirred up, its waves arose, tempests increased, persecutions of the Church took place. Whence hath the sea been stirred up? When a joyful noise was made, when Psalms of thanksgiving were being sung before God: the ears of God were pleased, the waves of the sea were raised. "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof: the round world, and all that dwell therein." Let the sea be stirred up in its persecutions. "Let the floods clap their hands together" (ver. 8). Let the sea be aroused, and the floods clap their hands together; persecutions arise, and the saints rejoice in God. Whence shall the floods clap their hands? What is to clap their hands? To rejoice in works. To clap hands, is to rejoice; hands, mean works. What floods? Those whom God hath made floods, by giving them that Water, the Holy Spirit. "If any man thirst," saith He, "let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, out of his bosom shall flow rivers of living water."(3) These rivers clapped their hands, these rivers rejoiced in works, and blessed God. "The bills shall be joyful together."
8. "Before the Lord, for He is come; for He is come to judge the earth" (ver. 9). "The hills" signify the great. The Lord cometh to judge the earth, and they rejoice. But there are hills, who, when the Lord is coming to judge the earth, shall tremble. There are therefore good and evil hills; the good hills, are spiritual greatness; the bad hills, are the swelling of pride. "Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, for He is come; for He is come to judge the earth." Wherefore shall He come, and how shall He come? "With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity" (ver. 10). Let the hills therefore rejoice; for He shall not judge unrighteously. When some man is coming as a judge, to whom the conscience cannot lie open, even innocent men may tremble, if from him they expect a reward for virtue, or fear the penalty of condemnation; when He shall come who cannot be deceived, let the hills rejoice, let them rejoice fearlessly; they shall be enlightened by Him, not condemned; let them rejoice, because the Lord will come to judge the world with equity; and if the righteous hills rejoice, let the unrighteous tremble. But behold, He hath not yet come: what need is there they should tremble? Let them mend their ways, and rejoice. It is in thy power in what way thou wiliest to await the coming of Christ. For this reason He delayeth to come, that when He cometh He may not condemn thee. Lo, He bath not yet come: He is in heaven, thou on earth: He delayeth His coming, do not thou delay wisdom. His coming is hard to the hard of heart, soft to the pious. See therefore even now what thou art: if hard of heart, thou canst soften; if thou art soft, even now rejoice that He will come. For thou art a Christian. Yea, thou sayest. I believe that thou prayest, and sayest, "Thy kingdom come."(1) Thou desirest Him to come, whose coming thou fearest. Reform thyself, that thou mayest not pray against thyself.
1. Beloved brethren, it ought already to be known to you, as sons of the Church, and well. instructed in the school of Christ through all the books of our ancient fathers, who wrote the words of God and the great things of God, that their wish was to consult for our good, who were to live at this period, believers in Christ; who, at a seasonable time came unto us, the first time, in humility; at the second, destined to come in exaltation. ...For thus it is said in the Psalms: "Truth shall flourish out of the earth: and righteousness hath looked down from heaven."(3) Now, therefore, our whole design is, when we hear a Psalm, a Prophet, or the Law, all of which was written before our Lord Jesus Christ came in the flesh, to see Christ there, to understand Christ there. Attend therefore, beloved, to this Psalm, with me, and let us herein seek Christ; certainly He will appear to those who seek Him, who at first appeared to those who sought Him not; and He will not desert those who long for Him, who redeemed those who neglected Him. Behold, the Psalm beginneth concerning Him: of Him it is said:--
2. "The Lord is King, be the people angry" (ver. 1). For our Lord Jesus Christ began to reign, began to be preached, after He arose from the dead and ascended into heaven, after He had filled His disciples with the confidence of the Holy Spirit, that they should not fear death, which He had already killed in Himself. Our Lord Christ began then to be preached, that they who wished for salvation might believe in Him; and the peoples who worshipped idols were angry. They who worshipped what they had made were angry, because He by whom they were made was declared. He announced, in fact, through His disciples, Himself, who wished them to be converted unto Him by whom they were made, and to be turned away froth those things which they had made themselves. They were angry with their Lord in behalf of their idols, they who even if they were angry with their slave on their idol's account, were to be condemned. For their slave was better than their idol: for God made their slave, the carpenter made their idol. They were so angry in their idol's behalf, that they feared not to be angry with their Lord. But the words, "be they angry," are a prediction, not a command; for in a prophecy it is that this is said, "The Lord is King, be the people angry." Some good resulteth even from the enraged people: let them be angry, and in their anger let the Martyrs be crowned. ... Ye heard when Jeremiah was being read before the reading of the Apostle,(4) if ye listened; ye saw therein the times in which we now live. He said, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, let them perish from the earth, and from under the heaven."(5) He said not, The gods that have not made the heavens and earth, let them perish from the heaven and from the earth; because they never were in heaven: but what did he say? "Let them perish from the earth, and from under the heaven." As if, while the word earth was repeated, the repetition of the word heaven were wanting (because they never were in heaven): he repeateth the earth twice, since it is under heaven. "Let them perish from the earth, and from under the heaven," from their temples. Consider if this be not now taking place; if in a great measure it hath not already happened: for what, or how much, hath remained? The idols remained rather in the hearts of the pagans, than in the niches of the temples.
3. "He who sitteth between the cherubims:" thou dost understand, "He is King: let the earth be stirred up." ... The Cherubim is the seat of God, as the Scripture showeth us, a certain exalted heavenly throne, which we see not; but the Word of God knoweth it, knoweth it as His own seat: and the Word of God and the Spirit of God hath Itself revealed to the servants of God where God sitteth. Not that God doth sit, as doth man; but thou, if thou dost wish that God sit in thee, if thou wilt be good, shalt be the seat of God; for thus is it written, "The soul of the righteous is the seat of wisdom."(6) For a throne is in our language called a seat. For some, conversant with the Hebrew tongue, have interpreted cherubim in the Latin language (for it is a Hebrew term) by the words, fulness of knowledge. Therefore, because God surpasseth all knowledge, He is said to sit above the fulness of knowledge. Let there be therefore in thee fulness of knowledge, and even thou shalt be the throne of God. ... He knoweth all things: for our hairs are numbered before God.(7) But the fulness of knowledge which He willed man to know is different from this; the knowledge which He willed thee to have, pertaineth to the law of God. And who can, thou mayest perhaps say unto me, perfectly know the Law, so that he may have within himself the fulness of the knowledge of the Law, and be able to be the seat of God? Be not disturbed; it is briefly told thee what thou hast, if thou dost wish to have the fulness of knowledge, and to become the throne of God: for the Apostle saith, "Love is the fulfilling of the Law.", What followeth then? Thou hast lost the whole of thine excuse. Ask thine heart; see whether it hath love. If there be love there, there is the fulfilment of the Law there also; already God dwelleth in thee, thou hast become the throne of God. "Be the people angry;" what can the angry people do against him who hath become the throne of God? Thou givest heed unto them who rage against thee: Who is it that sitteth within thee, thou givest not heed. Thou art become a heaven, and learest thou the earth? For the Scripture saith in another passage, that the Lord our God doth declare, "The heaven is My throne."(2) If therefore even thou by having the fulness of knowledge, and by having love, hast been made the throne of God, thou hast become a heaven. For this heaven which we look up to with these eyes of ours, is not very precious before God. Holy souls are the heaven of God; the minds of the Angels, and all the minds of His servants, are the heaven of God.
4. "The Lord is great in Sion, and high above all people" (ver. 2). ...He whom I spoke to thee of as above the Cherubims, is great in Sion. Ask thou now, what is Sion? We know Sion to be the city of God. The city of Jerusalem is called Sion; and is so called according to a certain interpretation, for that Sion signifieth watching, that is, sight and contemplation; for to watch is to look forward to, or gaze upon, or strain the eyes to see. Now every soul is a Sion, if it trieth to see that light which is to be seen. For if it shall have gazed upon a light of its own, it is darkened; if upon His, it is enlightened. But, now that it is clear that Sion is the city of God; what is the city of God, but the Holy Church? For men who love one another, and who love their God who dwelleth in them, constitute a city unto God. Because a city is held together by some law; their very law is Love; and that very Love is God: for openly it is written, "God is Love."(3) He therefore who is full of Love, is full of God; and many, full of love, constitute a city full of God. That city of God is called Sion; the Church therefore is Sion. In it God is great. ...
5. Do ye imagine, brethren, that they whose instruments re-echoed yesterday, are not angry with our fastings? But let us not be angry with them, but let us fast for them. For the Lord our God who sitteth in us hath said, He hath Himself commanded us to pray for our enemies, to pray for them that persecute us:(4) and as the Church doth this, the persecutors are almost extinct. ... The drunken man doth not offend himself, but he offendeth the sober man. Show me a man who is at last happy in God, liveth gravely, sigheth for that everlasting peace which God hath promised him; and see that when he hath seen a man dancing to an instrument, he is more grieved for his madness, than for a man who is in a frenzy from a fever. If then we know their evils, considering that we also have been freed from those very evils, let us grieve for them; and if we grieve for them, let us pray for them; and that we may be heard, let us fast for them. For we do not keep our own fasts in their holidays. Different are the fasts which we celebrate through the days of the approaching Passover, through different seasons which are fixed for us in Christ: but through their holidays we fast for this reason, that when they are rejoicing, we may groan for them. For by their joy they excite our grief, and cause us to remember how wretched they are as yet. But since we see many freed thence, where we also have been, we ought not to despair even of them. And if they are still enraged, let us pray; and if still a particle of earth that hath remained behind be stirred up against us, let us continue in lamentation for them, that to them also God may grant understanding, and that with us they may hear those words, in which we are at this moment rejoicing.
6. All these very people, over whom Thou art great in Sion, "Let them confess unto Thy Name, which is great" (ver. 3). Thy Name was little when they were enraged: it hath become great; let them now confess. In what sense do we say, that the Name of Christ was little, before it was spread abroad to so great an extent? Because His report is meant by His Name. His Name was small; already it hath become great. What nation is there that hath not heard of the Name of Christ? Therefore let now the people confess unto Thy Name, which is great, who before were enraged with Thy little Name. Wherefore shall they confess? Because it is "wonderful and holy." Thy very Name is wonderful and holy. He is so preached as crucified, so preached as humbled, so preached as judged, that He may come exalted, that He may come living, that He may come to judge in power. He spareth at present the people who blaspheme Him, because "the long-suffering of God leadeth to repentance."(5) For He who now spareth, will not always spare: nor will He, who is now being preached that He may be feared, fail to come to judge. He will come, my brethren, He will come let us fear Him, and let us live so that we may be found on His right hand. For He will come, and will judge, so as to place some on the left hand, some on the right.(1) And He doth not act in an uncertain manner, so as to err perchance betwixt men, so that he who should be set on the right hand, be set on the left; or that he who ought to stand on the left, by a mistake of God should stand on the right: He cannot err, so as to place the evil where He ought to set the good; nor to place the good, where He should have set the evil. If He cannot err, we err, if we fear not; but if we have feared in this life, we shall not then have what to fear for. "For the King's honour loveth judgment." ...
7. "Thou hast prepared equity; Thou hast wrought judgment and righteousness in Jacob." For we too ought to have judgment, we ought to have righteousness; but He worketh in us judgment and righteousness, who created us in whom He might work them. How ought we too to have judgment and righteousness? Thou hast judgment, when thou dost distinguish evil from good: and righteousness when thou followest the good, and turnest aside from the evil. By distinguishing them, thou hast judgment; by doing, thou hast righteousness. "Eschew evil,' he saith, "and do good; seek peace, and ensue it."(2) Thou shouldest first have judgment, then righteousness. What judgment? That thou mayest first judge what is evil, and what is good. And what righteousness? That thou mayest shun evil, and do good. But this thou wilt not gain from thyself; see what he hath said, "Thou hast wrought judgment and righteousness in Jacob."
8. "O magnify the Lord our God" (ver. 5). Magnify Him truly, magnify Him well. Let us praise Him, let us magnify Him who hath wrought the very righteousness which we have; who wrought it in us, Himself. For who but He who justified us, wrought righteousness in us? For of Christ it is said, "who justifieth the ungodly."(3) ... "And fall down before(4) His footstool: for He is holy." What are we to fall down before? His footstool. What is under the feet is called a footstool, in Greek hupopo'dion, in Latin Scabellum or Suppedaneum. But consider, brethren, what he commandeth us to fall down before. In another passage of the Scriptures it is said, "The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool."(5) Doth he then bid us worship the earth, since in another passage it is said, that it is God's footstool? How then shall we worship the earth, when the Scripture saith openly, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God"?(6) Yet here it saith, "fall down before His footstool:" and, explaining to us what His footstool is, it saith, "The earth is My footstool." I am in doubt; I fear to worship the earth, lest He who made the heaven and the earth condemn me; again, I fear not to worship the footstool of my Lord, because the Psalm biddeth me, "fall down before His footstool." I ask, what is His footstool? and the Scripture telleth me, "the earth is My footstool." In hesitation I turn unto Christ, since I am herein seeking Himself: and I discover how the earth may be worshipped without impiety,(7) how His footstool may be worshipped without impiety. For He took upon Him earth from earth; because flesh is from earth, and He received flesh from the flesh of Mary. And because He walked here in very flesh, and gave that very flesh to us to eat for our salvation; and no one eateth that flesh, unless he hath first worshipped: we have found out in what sense such a footstool of our Lord's may be worshipped, and not only that we sin not in worshipping it, but that we sin in not worshipping. But doth the flesh give life? Our Lord Himself, when He was speaking in praise of this same earth, said, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." ... But when our Lord praised it, He was speaking of His own flesh, and He had said, "Except a man eat My flesh, he shall have no life in him."(8) Some disciples of His, about seventy? were offended, and said, "This is an hard saying, who can hear it?" And they went back, and walked no more with Him. It seemed unto them hard that He said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, ye have no life in you:" they received it foolishly, they thought of it carnally, and imagined that the Lord would cut off parts from His body, and give unto them; and they said, "This is a hard saying." It was they who were hard, not the saying; for unless they had been hard, and not meek, they would have said unto themselves, He saith not this without reason, but there must be some latent mystery herein. They would have remained with Him, softened, not hard: and would have learnt that from Him which they who remained, when the others departed, learnt. For when twelve disciples had remained with Him, on their departure, these remaining followers suggested to Him, as if in grief for the death of the former, that they were offended by His words, and turned back. But He instructed them, and saith unto them, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth, but the flesh profiteth nothing; the words that I have spoken unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."(10) Understand spiritually what I have said; ye are not to eat this body which ye see; nor to drink that blood which they who will crucify Me shall pour forth. I have commended unto you a certain mystery; spiritually understood, it will quicken. Although it is needful that this be visibly celebrated, yet it must be spiritually understood.(1) 9. "Moses and Aaron among His priests, and Samuel among such as call upon His Name: these called upon the Lord, and He heard them" (ver. 6). "He spake unto them out of the cloudy pillar" (ver. 7). ... Of Moses it is not there stated that he was a priest, But if he was not this, what was he? Could he be anything greater than a priest? This Psalm declareth that he also was himself a priest: "Moses and Aaron among His priests." They therefore were the Lord's priests. Samuel is read of later in the Book of Kings: this Samuel is in David's times; for he anointed the holy David. Samuel from his infancy grew up in the temple. ... He mentioneth these: and by these desireth us to understand all the saints. Yet why hath he here named those? Because we said that we ought here to understand Christ. Attend, holy brethren. He said above, "O magnify the Lord our God: and fall down before His footstool, for He is holy:" praising some one, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ; whose footstool is to be worshipped, because He assumed flesh, in which He was to appear before the human race; and wishing to show unto us that the ancient fathers also had preached of Him, because our Lord Jesus Christ is Himself the True Priest, he mentioned these, because God spake unto them out of the cloudy pillar. What meaneth, "out of the cloudy pillar"? He was speaking figuratively. For if He spoke in some cloud, those obscure words predicted some one unknown, yet to be manifest. This unknown one is no longer unknown; for He is known by us, our Lord Jesus Christ. ... He who first spoke out of the cloudy pillar, hath in Person spoken unto us m His footstool; that is, on earth, when He had assumed the flesh, for which reason we worship His footstool, for He is holy. He Himself used to speak out of the cloud, which was not then understood: He hath spoken in His own footstool, and the words of His cloud have been understood. "They kept His testimonies, and the law that He gave them." ... "Thou heardest them," he saith, "O Lord our God: Thou wast forgiving to them, O God" (ver. 8). God is not said to be forgiving toward anything but sins: when He pardoneth sins, then He forgiveth. And what had He in them to punish, so that He was forgiving in pardoning them? He was forgiving in pardoning their sins, He was also forgiving in punishing them. For what followeth? "And punishedst all their own affections." Even in punishing them Thou wast forgiving toward them: for not in remitting, but also in punishing their sins, hast Thou been forgiving. Consider, my brethren, what be hath taught us here: attend. God is angry with him whom, when he sinneth, He scourgeth not: for unto him to whom He is truly forgiving, He not only remitteth sins, that they may not injure him in a future life; but also chasteneth him, that he delight not in continual sin.
10. Come, my brethren; if we ask how these were punished, the Lord will aid me to tell you. Let us consider these three persons, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel: and how they were punished, since he said, "Thou hast punished all their own affections:" meaning those affections of theirs, which the Lord knew in their hearts, which men knew not. For they were living in the midst of the people of God, without complaint from man. But what do we say? That perhaps the early life of Moses was sinful; for he fled from Egypt, after slaying a man.(2) The early life of Aaron also was such as would displease God; for he allowed a maddened and infatuated people to make an idol to worship;(3) and an idol was made for God's people to worship. What sin did Samuel, who was given up when an infant to the temple? He passed all his life amid the holy sacraments of God: from childhood the servant of God. Nothing was ever said of Samuel, nothing by men. Perhaps God knew of somewhat there to chasten; since even what seemeth perfect unto men, unto that Perfection is still imperfect. Artists show many of their works to the unskilful; and when the unskilful have pronounced them perfect, the artists polish them still further, as they know what is still wanting to them, so that men wonder at things they had imagined already perfect having received so much additional polish. This happeneth in buildings, and in paintings, and in embroidery, and almost in every species of art. At first they judge it to be already in a manner perfect, so that their eyes desire nothing further: but the judgment of the inexperienced eye is one, and that of the rule of art another. Thus also these Saints were living before the eyes of God, as if faultless, as if perfect, as if Angels: but He who punished all their own affections, knew what was wanting in them. But He punished them not in anger, but in mercy: He punished them that He might perfect what He had begun, not to condemn what He had cast away. God therefore punished all their affections. How did He punish Samuel? where is this punishment? ... What was said unto Moses was a type, not a punishment. What punishment is death to an old man? What punishment was it, not to enter into that land, into which unworthy men entered? But what is said of Aaron? He also died an old man: his sons succeeded him in the priesthood: his son afterwards ruled in the priesthood: how did He punish Aaron also ?(1) Samuel also died a holy old man, leaving his sons as his successors.(2) I seek for the punishment inflicted upon them, and according to men I find it not: but according to what I know the servants of God suffer every day, they were day by day punished. Read ye, and see the punishments, and ye also who are advanced bear the punishments. Every day they suffered from the obstinate people, every day they suffered from the ungodly livers; and were compelled to live among those whose lives they daily censured. This was their punishment. He unto whom it is small hath not advanced far; for the ungodliness of others tormenteth thee in proportion as thou hast departed far from thine own. ...
11. "O magnify the Lord our God!" (ver. 9). Again we magnify Him. He who is merciful even when He striketh, how is He to be praised, how is He to be magnified? Canst thou show this unto thy son, and cannot God? For thou art not good when thou dost caress thy son, and evil when thou strikest him. Both when thou dost caress him thou art a father, and when thou strikest him, thou art his father: thou dost caress him, that he may not faint; thou: strikest him, that he may not perish. "O magnify the Lord our God, and worship Him upon, His holy hill: for the Lord our God is holy." As he said above, "O magnify the Lord our God and fall down before His footstool: "(3) now we have understood what it is to worship His footstool: thus also but now after he had magnified the Lord our God, that no man might magnify Him apart from His hill, he hath also praised His hill. What is His hill? We read elsewhere concerning this hill, that a stone was cut from the hill without hands, and shattered all the kingdoms of the earth, and the stone itself increased. This is the vision of Daniel which I am relating. This stone which was cut from the hill without hands increased, and "became," he saith, "a great mountain, and filled the whole face of the earth."(4) Let us worship on that great mountain, if we desire to be heard. Heretics s do not worship on that mountain, because it hath filled the whole earth; they have stuck fist on part of it, and have lost the whole. If they acknowledge the Catholic Church, they will worship on this hill with us. For we already see how that stone that was cut from the mountain without hands hath increased, and how great tracts of earth it hath prevailed over, and unto what nations it hath extended. What is the mountain whence the stone was hewn without hands? The Jewish kingdom, in the first place; since they worshipped one God. Thence was hewn the stone, our Lord Jesus Christ. ...That stone then was born of the mountain without hands: it increased, and by its increase broke all the kingdoms of the earth. It hath become a great mountain, and hath filled the whole face of the earth. This is the Catholic Church, in whose communion rejoice that ye are. But they who are not in her communion, since they worship and praise God apart from this same mountain, are not heard unto eternal life; although they may be heard unto certain temporal things. Let them not flatter themselves, because God heareth them in some things: for He heareth Pagans also in some things. Do not the Pagans cry unto God, and it raineth? Wherefore? Because He maketh His sun to rise over the good and the bad, and sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust.(6) Boast not therefore, Pagan, that when thou criest unto God, God sendeth rain, for He sendeth rain upon the just and the unjust. He hath heard thee in temporal things: He heareth thee not in things eternal, unless thou hast worshipped in His holy hill. "Worship Him upon His holy hill: for the Lord our God is holy." ...
1. Ye heard the Psalm, brethren, while it was being chanted: it is short, and not obscure: as if I had given you an assurance, that ye should not fear fatigue. ...
2. The title of this Psalm is, "A Psalm of confession." The verses are few, but big with great subjects; may the seed bring forth within your hearts, the barn be prepared for the Lord's harvest.
3. "Jubilate," therefore, "unto the Lord, all ye lands" (ver. 1). This Psalm giveth this exhortation to us, that we jubilate unto the Lord. Nor doth it, as it were, exhort one particular corner of the earth, or one habitation or congregation of men; but since it is aware that it hath sown blessings on every side, on every side it doth exact jubilance. Doth all the earth at this moment hear my voice? And yet the whole earth hath heard this voice. All the earth is already jubilant in the Lord; and what is not as yet jubilant, will be so. For blessing, extending on every side, when the Church was commencing to spread from Jerusalem throughout all nations,(1) everywhere overturneth ungodliness, and everywhere buildeth up piety: the good are mingled with the wicked throughout all lands. Every land is full of the discontented murmurs of the wicked, and of the jubilance of the good. What then is it, "to jubilate"? For the title of the present Psalm especially maketh us give good heed to this word, for it is entitled, "A Psalm of confession." What meaneth, to jubilate with confession? It is the sentiment thus expressed in another Psalm: "Blessed is the people that understandeth jubilance." Surely that which being understood maketh blessed is something great. May therefore the Lord our God, who maketh men blessed, grant me to understand what to say, and grant you to understand what ye hear: "Blessed is the people that understandeth jubilance."(2) Let us therefore run unto this blessing, let us understand jubilance, let us not pour it forth without understanding. Of what use is it to be jubilant and obey(3) this Psalm, when it saith, "Jubilate unto the Lord, all ye lands," and not to understand what jubilance is, so that our voice only may be jubilant, our heart not so? For the understanding is the utterance of the heart.(4)
4. I am about to say what ye know. One who jubilates, uttereth not words, but it is a certain sound of joy without words: for it is the expression of a mind poured forth in joy, expressing, as far as it is able, the affection, but not compassing the feeling. A man rejoicing in his own exultation, after certain words which cannot s be uttered or understood, bursteth forth into sounds of exultation without words, so that it seemeth that he indeed doth rejoice with his voice itself, but as if filled with excessive joy cannot express in words the subject of that joy. ... Those who are engaged at work in the fields are most given to jubilate; reapers, or vintagers, or those who gather any of the fruits of the earth, delighted with the abundant produce, and rejoicing in the very richness and exuberance of the soil, sing in exultation; and among the songs which they utter in words, they put in certain cries without words in the exultation of a rejoicing mind; and this is what is meant by jubilating.(6)...
5. When then are we jubilant? When we praise that which cannot be uttered. For we observe the whole creation, the earth and the sea, and all things that therein are: we observe that each have their sources and causes, the power of production, the order of birth, the limit of duration, the end in decease, that successive ages run on without any confusion, that the stars roll, as it seemeth, from the East to the West, and complete the courses of the years: we see how the months are measured, how the hours extend; and in all these things a certain invisible element, I know not what, but some principle? of unity, which is termed spirit or soul, present in all living things, urging them to the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, and the preservation of their own safety; that man also hath somewhat in common with the Angels of God; not with cattle, such as life, hearing, sight, and so forth; but somewhat which can understand God, which peculiarly doth belong to the mind, which can distinguish justice and injustice, as the eye discerneth white from black. In all this consideration of creation, which I have run over as I could, let the soul ask itself: Who created all these things? Who made them? Who made among them thyself? ... I have observed the whole creation, as far as I could. I have observed the bodily creation in heaven and on earth, and the spiritual in myself who am speaking, who animate my limbs, who exert voice, who move the tongue, who pronounce words, and distinguish sensations. And when can I comprehend myself in myself? How then can I comprehend what is above myself? Yet the sight of God is promised to the human heart, and a certain operation of purifying the heart is enjoined; this is the counsel of Scripture. Provide the means of seeing what thou lovest, before thou try to see it. For unto whom is it not sweet to hear of God and His Name, except to the ungodly, who is far removed, separated from Him? ...
6. Be therefore like Him in piety, and earnest in meditation: for "the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;"(8) look upon the things that are made, admire them, seek their author. If thou art unlike, thou wilt turn back; if like, thou wilt rejoice. And when; being like Him, thou shalt have begun to approach Him, and to feel God, the more love increaseth in thee, since God is love, thou wilt perceive somewhat which thou wast trying to say, and yet couldest not say. Before thou didst feel God, thou didst think that thou couldest express God; thou beginnest to feel Him, and then feelest that what thou dost feel thou canst not express. But when thou hast herein found that what thou dost feel cannot be expressed, wilt thou be mute, wilt thou not praise God? Wilt thou then be silent in the praises of God, and wilt thou not offer up thanksgivings unto Him who hath willed to make Himself known unto thee? Thou didst praise Him when thou wast seeking, wilt thou be silent when thou hast found Him? By no means; thou wilt not be ungrateful. Honour is due to Him, reverence is due to Him, great praise is due to Him. Consider thyself, see what thou art: earth and ashes; look who it is hath deserved to see, and What; consider who thou art, What to see, a man to see GOD! I recognise not the man's deserving, but the mercy of God. Praise therefore Him who hath mercy. ...
7. "Serve the Lord with gladness." All servitude is full of bitterness: all who are bound to a lot of servitude both are slaves, and discontented. Fear not the servitude of that Lord: there will be no groaning there, no discontent, no indignation; no one seeketh to be sold to another master, since it is a sweet service, because we are all redeemed. Great happiness, brethren, it is, to be a slave in that great house, although in bonds. Fear not, bound slave, confess unto the Lord: ascribe thy bonds to thine own deservings; confess in thy chains, if thou art desirous they be changed into ornaments. ... At the same time thou art slave, and free; slave, because thou art created such; free, because thou art loved by God, by whom thou wast created: yea, free indeed, because thou lovest Him by whom thou wast made. Serve not with discontent; for thy murmurs do not tend to release thee from serving, but to make thee a wicked servant. Thou art a slave of the Lord, thou art a freedman of the Lord: seek not so to be emancipated as to depart from the house of Him who frees thee. ...
8. I will, therefore, saith he, live separate with a few good men: why should I live in common with crowds? Well: those very few good men, from what crowds have they been strained out? If however these few are all good: it is, nevertheless, a good and praiseworthy design in man, to be with such as have chosen a quiet life; distant from the bustle of the people, from noisy crowds, from the great waves of life, they are as if in harbour. Is there therefore here that joy? that jubilant gladness which is promised? Not as yet; but still groans, still the anxiety of temptations. For even the harbour hath an entrance somewhere or other; if it had not, no ship could enter it; it must therefore be open on some side: but at times on this open side the wind rusheth in; and where there are no rocks, ships dashed together shatter one another. Where then is security, if not even in harbour? And yet it must be confessed, it is true, that persons in harbour are in their degree much better off than when afloat on the main. Let them love one another, as ships in harbour, let them be bound together happily; let them not dash against one another: let absolute equality be preserved there constancy in love; and when perchance the wind rusheth in from the open side, let there be careful piloting there. Now what will one who perchance presideth over such places, nay, who serveth his brethren, in what are called monasteries, tell me? I will be cautious: I will admit no wicked man. How wilt thou admit no evil one? ... Those who are about to enter, do not know themselves; how much less dost thou know them? For many have promised themselves that they were about to fulfil that holy life, which has all things in common, where no man calleth anything his own, who have one soul and one heart in God:(1) they have been put into the furnace, and have cracked. How then knowest thou him who is unknown even to himself? ... Where then is security? Here nowhere; in this life nowhere, except solely in the hope of the promise of God. But there, when we shall reach thereunto, is complete security, when the gates are shut, and the bars of the gates of Jerusalem made fast;(2) there is truly full jubilance, and great delight. Only do not thou feel secure m praising any sort of life: "judge no man blessed before his death."(3)
9. By this means men are deceived, so that they either do not undertake, or rashly attempt, a better life; because, when they choose to praise, they praise without mention of the evil that is mixed with the good: and those who choose to blame, do so with so envious and perverse a mind, as to shut their eyes to the good, and exaggerate only the evils which either actually exist there, or are imagined. Thus it happeneth, that when any profession hath been ill. that is, incautiously, praised, if it hath invited men by its own reputation, they who betake themselves thither discover some such as they did not believe to be there; and offended by the wicked recoil from the good. Brethren, apply this teaching to your life, and hear in such a manner that ye may live. The Church Of God, to speak generally, is magnified: Christians, and Christians alone, are called great, the Catholic (Church) is magnified; all love each other; each and all do all they can for one another; they give themselves up to prayers, fastings, hymns; throughout the whole world, with peaceful unanimity God is praised. Some one perhaps heareth this, who is ignorant that nothing is said of the wicked who are mingled with them; he cometh, invited by these praises, findeth bad men mixed with them, who were not mentioned to him before he came; he is offended by false Christians, he flieth from true Christians. Again, men who hate and slander them, precipitately blame them: asking, what sort of men are Christians? Who are Christians? Covetous men, usurers. Are not the very persons who fill the Churches on holidays the same who during the games and other spectacles fill the theatres and amphitheatres? They are drunken, gluttonous, envious, slanderers of each other. There are such, but not such only. And this slanderer in his blindness saith nothing of the good: and. that praiser in his want of caution is silent about the bad. ... Thus also in that common life of brethren, which exists in a monastery: great and holy men live therein, with daily hymns, prayers, praises of God; their occupation is reading; they labour with their own hands, and by this means support themselves;(1) they seek nothing covetously; whatever is brought in for them by pious brethren, they use with contentedness and charity; no one claimeth as his own what another hath not; all love, all forbear one another mutually. Thou hast praised them; thou hast praised; he who knoweth not what is going on within, who knoweth not how, when the wind entereth, ships even in harbour dash against one another, entereth as if in hope of security, expecting to find no man to forbear; he findeth there evil brethren, who could not have been found evil, if they had not been admitted (and they must be at first tolerated, lest they should perchance reform; nor can they easily be excluded, unless they have first been endured): and becometh himself impatient beyond endurance. Who asked me here? I thought that love was here. And irritated by the perversity of some few men, since he hath not persevered in fulfilling his vow, he becometh a deserter of so holy a design, and guilty of a vow he hath never discharged. And then, when he hath gone forth himself too, he also becometh a reproacher, and a slanderer; and records those things only (sometimes real), which he asserts that he could not have endured. But the real troubles of the wicked ought to be endured for the society of the good. The Scripture saith unto him: "Woe unto those that have lost patience."(2) And what is more, he belcheth abroad the evil savour of his indignation, as a means to deter them who are about to enter; because, when he had entered himself, he could not persevere. Of what sort are they? Envious, quarrelsome, men who forbear no man, covetous; saying, He did this there, and he did that there. Wicked one, why art thou silent about the good! Thou sayest enough of those whom thou couldest not endure: thou sayest nothing of those who endured thy wickedness. ...
10. "O serve the Lord with gladness" (ver. 2): he addresseth you, whoever ye are who endure all things in love, and rejoice in hope. "Serve the Lord," not in the bitterness of murmuring, but in the "gladness of love." "Come before His presence with rejoicing." It is easy to rejoice outwardly: rejoice before the presence of God. Let not the tongue be too joyful: let the conscience be joyful. "Come before His presence with a song."
11. "Be ye sure that the Lord He is God" (ver. 3). Who knoweth not that the Lord, He is God? But He speaketh of the Lord, whom men thought not God: "Be ye sure that the Lord He is God." Let not that Lord become vile in your sight: ye have crucified Him, scourged Him, spit upon Him, crowned Him with thorns, clothed Him in a dress of infamy, hung Him upon the Cross, pierced Him with nails, wounded Him with a spear, placed guards at His tomb; He is God. "It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." It is He that hath made us: "and without Him was not anything made that was made."(3) What reason have ye for exultation, what reason have ye for pride? Another made you; the Same who made you, suffereth from you. But ye extol yourselves, and glory in yourselves, as if ye were created by yourselves. It is good for you that He who made you, make you perfect. ... "We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture." Sheep and one sheep. These sheep are one sheep: and how loving a Shepherd we have! He left the ninety and nine, and descended to seek the one, He bringeth it back on His own shoulders(4) ransomed by His own blood. That Shepherd dieth without fear for the sheep, who on His resurrection regaineth His sheep.
12. "Enter into His gates with confession" (ver. 3). At the gates is the beginning: begin with confession. Thence is the Psalm entitled, "A Psalm of Confession:" there be joyful. Confess that ye were not made by yourselves, praise Him by whom ye were made. Let thy good come from Him, in departing from whom thou hast caused thine evil. "Enter into His gates with confession." Let the flock enter into the gates: let it not remain outside, a prey for wolves. And how is it to enter? "With confession." Let the gate, that is, the commencement for thee, be confession. Whence it is said in another Psalm, "Begin unto the Lord with confession."(5) What he there calleth "Begin," here he calleth "Gates." "Enter into His gates in confession." What? And when we have entered, shall we not still confess? Always confess Him: thou hast always what to confess for. It is hard in this life for a man to be so far changed, that no cause for censure be discoverable in him: thou must needs blame thyself, lest He who shall condemn blame thee. Therefore even when thou hast entered His courts, then also confess. When will there be no longer confession of sins? In that rest, in that likeness to the Angels. But consider what I have said: there will there be no confession of sins. I said not, there will be no confession: for there will be confession of praise. Thou wilt ever confess, that He is God, thou a creature; that He is thy Protector, thyself protected. In Him thou shalt be as it were hid.' "Go into His courts with hymns; and confess unto Him." Confess in the gates; and when ye have entered the courts, confess with hymns. Hymn are praises. Blame thyself, when thou art entering; when thou hast entered, praise Him. "Open me the gates of righteousness," he saith in another Psalm, "that I may go into them, and confess unto the Lord."(2) Did he say, when I have entered, I will no longer confess? Even after his entrance, he will confess. For what sins did our Lord Jesus Christ confess, when He said, "I confess unto Thee, O Father"?(3) He confessed in praising Him, not in accusing Himself. "Speak good of His Name."
13. "For the Lord is pleasant" (ver. 4). Think not that ye faint in praising Him. Your praise of Him is like food: the more ye praise Him, the more ye acquire strength, and He whom ye praise becometh the more sweet. "His mercy is everlasting." For He will not cease to be merciful, after He hath freed thee: it belongeth to His mercy to protect thee even unto eternal life. "His mercy," therefore, "is to everlasting: and His truth from generation to generation" (ver. 5). Understand by" from generation to generation," either every generation, or in two generations, the one earthly, the other heavenly. Here there is one generation which produceth mortals; another which maketh such as are everlasting. His Truth is both here, and there. Imagine not that His truth is not here, if His truth were not here, he would not say in another Psalm: "Truth is risen out of the earth;"(4) nor would Truth Itself say, Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."(5)
1. In this Psalm, we ought to seek in the whole body of it what we find in the first verse: "Mercy and judgment will I sing unto Thee, O Lord" (ver. 1). Let no man flatter himself that he will never be punished through God's mercy; for there is judgment also; and let no man who hath been changed for the better dread the Lord's judgment, seeing that mercy goeth before it. For when men judge, sometimes overcome by mercy, they act against justice; and mercy, but not justice, seemeth to be in them: while sometimes, when they wish to enforce a rigid judgment, they lose mercy. But God neither loseth the severity of judgment in the bounty of mercy, nor in judging with severity loseth the bounty of mercy. Suppose we distinguish these two, mercy and judgment, by time; for possibly, they are not placed in this order without a meaning, so that he said not "judgment and mercy," but "mercy and judgment:" so that if we distinguish them by succession in time, perhaps we find that the present is the season for mercy, the future for judgment. How is it that the season of mercy cometh first? Consider first how it is with God, that thou also mayest imitate the Father, in so far as He shall permit thee. ... "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." Behold mercy. When thou seest the just and the unjust behold the same sun, enjoy the same light, drink from the same founts, satisfied with the same rain, blessed with the same fruits of the earth, inhale this air in the same way, possess equally the world's goods; think not that God is unjust, who giveth these things equally to the just and the unjust. It is the season of mercy, not as yet of judgment. For unless God spared at first through mercy, He would not find those whom He could crown through judgment. There is therefore a season for mercy, when the long-suffering of God calleth sinners to repentance.
2. Hear the Apostle distinguishing each season, and do thou also distinguish it. ... "Thinkest thou," he saith, "O man, that judgest them that do such things, and doest the same, that thou shall escape the judgment of God?" And as if we were to reply, Why do I commit such sins daily, and no evil occurreth unto me? he goeth on to show to him the season of mercy: "Despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering?" And he did indeed despise them; but the Apostle hath made him anxious. "Not knowing," he saith, "that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance ?"(7) Behold the season of mercy. But that he might not think this would last for ever, how did he in the next verse raise his fears? Now hear the season of judgment; thou hast heard the season of mercy, on which account, "mercy and judgment will I sing unto Thee, O Lord:" "But thou," saith the Apostle, "after thy hardness and impenitent heart, treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds."(1) Lo, "mercy and judgment." But he hath threatened concerning judgment: is therefore the judgment of God to be feared only, and not to be loved? To be feared by the wicked on account of punishment, to be loved by the good on account of the crown. Because then the Apostle hath alarmed the wicked in the testimony which I have quoted, hear where he giveth hope concerning judgment to the good. He puts forth himself, and shows in himself too the season of mercy. For unless he found a period of mercy, in what condition would judgment find him? A blasphemer, a persecutor, an injurer of others. For he thus speaketh, and praiseth the season of mercy, in which season we are now living: "I who was before," he saith, "a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy." But perhaps he only hath obtained mercy? Hear how he cheereth us: "That in me," he saith, "first, Christ Jesus might show forth all long- suffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on Him to life everlasting."(2) What meaneth, "that He might show forth all long- suffering"? That every sinner and wicked man might see that Paul received pardon, and might not despair of himself? Lo, he hath instanced himself, and thereby cheered others also. ... But did Paul alone deserve this? For I had asserted, that as he raised our fears by the former testimony, so did he encourage us by the latter. When he said, "The Lord, the righteous Judge, shall render to me at that day:" he addeth, "and not to the only, but unto all them also that love His appearing"(3) and His kingdom. Since therefore, brethren, we have a season of mercy, let us not on that account flatter, or indulge ourselves, saying, God spareth ever. ...
3. "I will sing to the harp, and will have understanding, in the spotless way. When Thou shall come unto me" (ver. 2). Except in the spotless way, thou canst neither sing to the harp, nor understand. If thou dost wish to understand, sing in the spotless way, that is, work with cheerfulness before thy God. What is the spotless way? Hear what followeth: "I walked in innocence, in the midst of my house." This spotless way beginneth from innocence, and it endeth also in innocence. Why seek many words? Be innocent: and thou hast perfected righteousness. ... But who is innocent? He who white he hurteth not another, injureth not himself. For he who hurteth himself, is not innocent. Some one saith: Lo, I have not robbed any one, I have not oppressed any one: I will live happily on my own substance, the fruits of my virtuous toil; I wish to have fine banquets, I wish to spend as much as pleaseth me, to drink with those whom I like as much as I please; whom have I robbed, whom have I oppressed, who hath complained of me? He seemeth innocent. But if he corrupt himself, if he overthrow the temple of God within himself, why hope that he will act with mercy toward others, and spare the wretched? Can that man be merciful to others, who unto himself is cruel? The whole of righteousness, therefore, is reduced to the one word, innocence. But the lover of iniquity, hateth his own soul. When he loved iniquity, he fancied he was injuring others. But consider whether he was injuring others: "He who loveth iniquity," he saith, "hateth his own soul."(4) He therefore who wishes to injure another, first injureth himself; nor doth he walk, since there is no room. For all wickedness suffereth from narrowness: innocence alone is broad enough to walk in. "I walked in the innocence of my heart, in the midst of my house." By the middle of his house, he either signifieth the Church herself; for Christ walketh in her: or his own heart; for our inner house is our heart: as he hath explained in the above words, "in the innocence of my heart." What is the innocence. of the heart? The middle of his house? Whoever hath a bad house in this, is driven out of doors. For whoever is oppressed within his heart by a bad conscience, just as any man in consequence of the overflow of a waterspout or of smoke goeth out of his house, suffereth not himself to dwell therein; so he who hath not a quiet heart, cannot happily dwell in his heart. Such men go out of themselves in the bent of their mind, and delight themselves with things without, that affect the body; they seek repose in trifles, in spectacles, in luxuries, in all evils. Wherefore do they wish themselves well without? Because it is not well with them within, so that they may rejoice in a good conscience. ...
4. "I set no wicked thing before my eyes" (ver. 3). ... I did love no wicked thing. And he explaineth this same wicked thing: "I hated them that do unfaithfulness." Attend, my brethren. If ye walk with Christ in the midst of His house, that is, if either in your heart ye have a good repose, or in the Church herself proceed on a good journey in the way of godliness; ye ought not to hate those unfaithful only who are without, but whomsoever also ye may have found within. Who are the unfaithful? They who hate the law of God; who hear, and do it not, are called unfaithful. Hate the doers of unfaithfulness, repel them from thee. But thou shouldest hate the unfaithful, not men: one man who is unfaithful, hath, ye see, two names, man, and unfaithful: God made him man, he made himself unfaithful; love in him what God made, persecute in him what he made himself. For when thou shalt have persecuted his unfaithfulness, thou killest the work of man, and freest the work of God. "I hated the doers of unfaithfulness."
5. "The wicked heart hath not cleaved unto me." ... The heart of a man, who wisheth not anything contrary to any that God wisheth, is called straight. ... If therefore the righteous heart followeth God, the crooked heart resisteth God. Suppose something untoward happeneth to him, he crieth out, "God, what have I done unto Thee? What sin have I committed?" He wisheth himself to appear just, God unjust. What is so crooked as this? It is not enough that thou art crooked thyself: thou must think thy rule crooked also. Reform thyself, and thou findest Him straight, in departing from whom thou hast made thyself crooked. He doth justly, thou unjustly; and for this reason thou art perverse, since thou callest man just, and God unjust. What man dost thou call just? Thyself. For when thou sayest, "What have I done unto Thee?" thou thinkest thyself just. But let God answer thee: "Thou speakest truth: thou hast done nothing to Me: thou hast done all things unto thyself; for if thou hadst done anything for Me, thou wouldest have done good. For whatever is done well, is done unto Me; because it is done according to My commandment; but whatever of evil is done, is done unto thee, not unto Me; for the wicked mar doth nothing except for his own sake, since it is not what I command." When ye see such men, brethren, reprove them, convince and correct them: and if ye cannot reprove or correct them, consent not to them.
6. "When the wicked man departed from me, I knew him not" (ver. 4). I approved him not, I praised him not, he pleased me not. For we find the word "to know" occasionally used in Scripture, in the sense of "to be pleased." For what is hidden from God, brethren? Doth He know the just, and doth He not know the unjust? What dost thou think of, that He doth not know? I say not, what thinkest thou; but what wilt thou ever think, that He will not have seen beforehand? God knoweth all things, then; and yet in the end, that is in judgment after mercy, He saith of some persons: "I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye workers of iniquity."(1) Was there any one He did not know? But what meaneth, "I never knew you "? I acknowledge you not in My ride. For I know the rule of My righteousness: ye agree not with it, ye have turned aside from it, ye are crooked. Therefore He said here also: "When the wicked man departed from Me, I knew him not." ... Therefore, "when the wicked man departed from me," that is, when the wicked man was unlike me, and was unwilling to imitate my paths, was unwilling in his wickedness to live as I had proposed myself for his imitation; "I knew him not." What meaneth, "I knew him not"? Not that I was ignorant of him, but that I did not approve him.
7. "Whose privily slandered his neighbour, him I persecuted"(ver. 5). Behold the righteous persecutor, not of the man, but of the sin. "With the proud eye, and the insatiable heart, I did not feed." What meaneth, "I did not feed with "? I did not eat in common with such. Attend, beloved; since ye are about to hear something wonderful. If he did not feed with this man, he did not eat with him; for to feed is to eat; how is it then that we find our Lord Himself eating with the proud? It was not only with those publicans and sinners, for they were humble: for they acknowledged their weakness, and asked for the physician. We find that He ate with the proud Pharisees themselves. A certain proud man had invited Him: it was the same who was displeased because a sinning woman, one of ill repute in the city, approached the feet of our Lord. ... That Pharisee was proud: the Lord ate with him; what is it therefore that he saith? "With such an one I did not eat." How doth He enjoin unto us what He hath not done Himself? He exhorteth us to imitate Himself: we see that He ate with the proud; how cloth He forbid us to eat with the proud? We indeed, brethren, for the sake of reproof, abstain from communion with our brethren, and do not eat with them, that they may be reformed? We rather eat with strangers, with Pagans, than with those who hold with us, if we have seen that they live wickedly, that they may be ashamed, and amend; as the Apostle saith, "And if any man obey not our word by this Epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."(2) For the sake of healing others we usually do this; but nevertheless we often eat with many strangers and ungodly men.
8. The pious heart hath its banquets, the proud heart hath its banquets: for it was on account of the food of the proud heart, that he said, "with an insatiable heart." How is the proud heart fed? If a man is proud, he is envious: otherwise it cannot be. Pride is the mother of enviousness: it cannot but generate it, and ever coexist with it. Every proud man is, therefore, envious: if envious, he feedeth on the misfortunes of others. Whence the Apostle saith, "But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed of one another."(1) Ye see them, then, eating: eat not with these: fly such banquets: for they cannot satisfy themselves with rejoicing in others' evils, because their hearts are insatiable. Beware thou art not caught in their feasts by the devil's noose. ... Just as birds feed at the trap, or fishes at the hook, they were taken, when they fed. The ungodly therefore have their own feasts, the godly also have theirs. Hear the feasts of the godly: "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.(2) If therefore the godly eateth the meat of righteousness, and the ungodly of pride; it is no wonder if he is insatiable in heart. He eateth the meat of iniquity: do not eat the meat of iniquity, and the proud in eye, and the insatiable in heart, eateth not with thee.
9. And whence wast thou fed? And what pleased thee, when he did not eat with thee? "Mine eyes," he saith, "were upon such as are faithful in the land, that they might sit with me" (ver. 6). That is, that with Me they might be seated.(3) In what sense are they "to sit "? "Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."(4) The faithful of the earth judge, for to them it is said, "Know ye not, that we shall judge angels?"(5) "Whoso walketh in a spotless way, he ministered unto me." To "Me," he saith, not to himself. For many minister the Gospel, but unto themselves; because they seek their own things, not the things of Jesus Christ.(6) ...
10. "The proud man hath not dwelt in the midst of my house" (ver. 7). Understand this of the heart. The proud did not dwell in my heart: no such dwelt in my heart: for he hurried away from me. None but the meek and peaceful dwelt in my heart; the proud dwelt not there, for the unrighteous one dwelleth not in the heart of the righteous. Let the righteous be distant from thee, I know not how many miles and stations:(7) ye dwell together, if ye have one heart. "The proud doer hath not dwelt in the midst of my house: he that speaketh unjust things hath not directed in the sight of my eyes." This is the spotless way, where we understand when the Lord cometh unto us.
11. "In the morning I destroyed all the ungodly that were in the land. That I may root out all wicked doers from the city of the Lord" (ver. 8). This is obscure. There are then wicked doers in the city of the Lord, and they at present, seemingly, spared. Why so? Because it is the season of mercy: but that of judgment will come; for the Psalm thus began, "Of mercy and judgment will I sing unto Thee, O Lord." ...
12. He at present spareth, He will then judge. But when will He judge? When night shall have passed away. For this reason He hath said: "In the morning." When the day shall at last have arrived, night having passed by. Why doth He spare them until the dawn? Because it was night. What meaneth, it was night? Because it was the season for mercy: He was merciful, while the hearts of men were hidden. Thou seest some one living ill; thou endurest him: for thou knowest not of what sort he will prove to be; since it is night; whether he who to-day liveth ill, to-morrow may I live well; and whether he who to-day liveth well, to-morrow may be wicked. For it is night, and God endureth all men, since He is of long-suffering: He endureth them, that sinners may be converted unto Him. But they who shall not have reformed themselves in that season of mercy, shall be slain. And wherefore? That they may be scattered abroad a from the city of the Lord, from the fellowship of Jerusalem, from the fellowship of the Saints, from the fellowship of the Church. But when shall they be slain? "At dawn." What meaneth, "at dawn"? When night shall have passed away. Wherefore now doth he spare? Because it is the season of mercy. Why doth He not always spare? Because, "Mercy and judgment will I sing unto Thee, O Lord." Brethren, let no man flatter himself: all the doers of iniquity shall be slain; Christ shall slay them at the dawn, and shall destroy them from His city. But now while it is the time of mercy, let them hear Him. Everywhere He crieth out by the Law, by the Prophets, by the Psalms, by the Epistles, by the Gospels: see that He is not silent; that He spareth; that He granteth mercy; but beware, for the judgment will come.
1. Behold, one poor man prayeth, and prayeth not in silence. We may therefore hear him, and see who he is: whether it be not perchance He, of whom the Apostle saith, "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich."(10) If it is He, then, how is He poor? For in what sense He is rich, who seeth not? What then is richer than He, by whom riches were made, even those which are not true riches? For through Him we have even these riches, ability, memory, character, health of body, the senses, and the conformation of our limbs: for when these are safe, even the poor are rich. Through Him also are those greater riches, faith, piety, justice, charity, chastity, good conduct: for no man hath these, except through Him who justifieth the ungodly. ... Behold, how rich! In one so rich, how are we to recognise these words? "I have eaten ashes as it were bread: and mingled my drink with weeping."(1) Have these so great riches come to this? The former state is a very high one, this is a very lowly one. ... Yet still examine whether this poor man be He; since, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us."(2) Reflect also upon these words: "I am Thy servant, and the Son of Thine handmaid."(3) Observe, this handmaid, chaste, a virgin, and a mother: for there He received our poverty, when He was clothed in the form of a servant, emptying Himself; lest thou shouldest dread His riches, and in thy beggarly state shouldest not dare approach Him. There, I say, He put on the form of a servant, there He was clothed with our poverty; there He made Himself poor, and us rich. We are now drawing near to understand these things of Him: nevertheless we may not as yet rashly pronounce. ...
2. Let him add poverty then to poverty: let Him transfigure unto Himself our humble body: let Him be our Head, we His limbs, let there be two in one flesh.(4) ... For He hath deigned to hold even us as His limbs. The penitent also are among His limbs. For they are not shut out, nor separated from His Church: nor would He make the Church His spouse, unless by words like these: "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."(5) Let us then hear what the head and the body prayeth, the bridegroom and bride, Christ and the Church,(6) both one Person; but the Word and the flesh are not both one thing; the Father and the Word are both one thing; Christ and the Church are both one Person, One perfect man in the form of His own fulness. ... Let us hear therefore Christ, poor within us and with us, and for our sakes. For the title itself indicates the poor one. Lastly, remember that I conjectured who that poor one was: let us hear His prayer, and recognise His Person; and mistake not, when thou shall have heard anything that cannot apply to His Head; it was for this reason that I have prefaced as I have, that whatever thou shall hear of this description, thou mayest understand as sounding from the weakness of the body, and recognise the voice of the members in the head. The title is, "A Prayer of the afflicted, when he was tormented, and poured out his prayer before the Lord." It is the same poor one who elsewhere saith: "From the ends of the earth will I call upon Thee, when my heart is in heaviness."(7) He is afflicted because He is also Christ; who in the Prophet's words calleth Himself both Bridegroom and Bride: "He hath bound on me the diadem as on a bridegroom, and as a bride hath adorned me with an ornament."(8) He called Himself Bridegroom, He called Himself Bride; wherefore this, unless Bridegroom applieth to the Head, Bride to the body? They are one voice then, because they are one flesh. Let us hear, and recognise ourselves in these words; and if we see that we are without, let us labour to be there.
3. "Hear my prayer, O Lord: and let my crying come unto Thee" (ver. 1). "Hear my prayer, O Lord," is the same as, "Let my crying come unto Thee:" the feeling of the suppliant is shown by the repetition. "Turn not Thy face away from me." When did God turn away His Face from His Son? when did the Father turn away His Face from Christ? But for the sake of the poverty of my members, "Turn not away Thy face from me: whatsoever day I am troubled, incline Thine ear unto me" (ver. 2). ... Thou art in trouble this day, I am in trouble; another is in trouble to-morrow, I am in trouble; after this generation other descendants, who succeed your descendants, are in trouble, I am in trouble; down to the end of the world, whoever are in trouble in My body, I am in trouble. ... Peter prayed, Paul prayed, the rest of the Apostles prayed; the faithful prayed in those times, the faithful prayed in the following times, the faithful prayed in the times of the Martyrs, the faithful pray in our times, the faithful will pray in the times of our descendants. "Right soon:" for I now ask that which Thou art willing to grant. I ask not earthly things, as an earthly man; but redeemed at last from my former captivity, I long for the kingdom of heaven; "Hear me right soon:" for it is only to such a longing that Thou hast said, "Even while Thou art speaking, I will say, Here I am."(9) Wherefore dost thou call? in what tribulation? in what want? O poor one, before the gate of God all- rich, in what longing dost thou beg? from what destitution dost thou ask relief? from what want dost thou knock, that it may be opened unto thee ?
4. "For my days are consumed away like smoke" (ver. 3). O days! if days: for where day is heard of, light is understood. "My days," my times; wherefore, "like smoke," unless from the puffing up of pride? ... See smoke, like pride, ascending, swelling, vanishing: deservedly therefore failing, and not stedfast. "And my bones are scorched up as it were in an oven." Both my bones, and my strength, not without tribulation, not without burning. The bones of the body of Christ, the strength of His body, is it anywhere greater than in the Holy Apostles? And yet see that the bones are scorched. "Who is offended, and I burn not? "(1) They are brave, faithful, able interpreters and preachers of the word, living as they speak, speaking as they hear; they are clearly brave, yet all who suffer offences, are an oven to them. For there is love there, and more so in the bones. The bones are within all the flesh, and support all the flesh. But if any man suffer any offence, and endanger his soul; the bone is scorched in proportion as it loveth. ...
5. Look back to Adam, whence the human race sprung. For how but from him was misery propagated? whence but from him is this hereditary poverty? Let him then, who in his own body was at one time in despair, now that he is set in Christ's body, say with hope, "My heart is smitten down, and withered like grass" (ver. 4). Deservedly, since all flesh is grass.(2) But how did this happen unto thee? "Since I have forgotten to eat my bread." For God had given His commandment for bread. For what is the bread of the soul? The serpent suggesting, and the woman transgressing, he touched the forbidden fruit,(3) he forgot the commandment: his heart was smitten as it deserved, and withered like grass, since he forgot to eat his bread. Having forgotten to eat bread, he drinketh poison: his heart is smitten, and withered like grass. ... Now eat that bread which thou hadst forgotten. But this very Bread hath come, in whose body thou mayest remember the voice of thy forgetfulness, and cry out in thy poverty, so that thou mayest receive riches. Now eat: for thou art in His body, who saith, "I am the living bread which came down from heaven."(4) Thou hadst forgotten to eat thy bread; but after His crucifixion, "all the ends of the earth shall be reminded, and be converted unto the Lord."(5) After forgetfulness, let remembrance come, let bread be eaten from heaven, that we may live; not manna, as they did eat, and died;(6) that bread, of which it is said, "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness."(7)
6. "For the voice of my groaning, the bones cleave unto my flesh" (ver. 5). For many groan, and I also groan; even for this I groan, because they groan for a wrong cause. That man hath lost a piece of money, he groaneth: he hath lost faith, he groaneth not: I weigh the money and the faith, and I find more cause for groaning for him who groaneth not as he ought, or doth not groan at all. He committeth fraud, and rejoiceth. With what gain, with what loss? He hath gained money, he hath lost righteousness. For the latter reason, he who knoweth how to groan, groaneth; he who is near the head, who righteously clingeth to Christ's body, groaneth for this reason. But the carnal do not groan for this reason, and they cause themselves to be groaned for, because they do not groan for this reason; nor can we despise them, whether they groan not at all, or groan for the wrong cause. For we wish to correct them, we wish to amend them. we wish to reform them: and when we cannot, we groan; and when we groan, we are not separated from them. ...
7. "I am become like a pelican in the wilderness, and like an owl among ruined walls" (ver. 6). Behold three birds and three places: the pelican, the owl, and the sparrow;(8) and the three places are severally, the wilderness, the ruined walls, and the house-top. The pelican in the wilderness, the owl in the ruined walls, and the sparrow in the house-top. In the first place we must explain, what the pelican signifieth: since it is born in a region which maketh it unknown to us. It is born in lonely spots, especially those of the river Nile in Egypt. Whatever kind of bird it is, let us consider what the Psalm intended to say of it. "It dwelleth," it saith, "in the wilderness." Why enquire of its form, its limbs, its voice, its habits? As far as the Psalm telleth thee, it is a bird that dwelleth in solitude. The owl is a bird that loveth night. Parietinae, or ruins, as we call them, are walls standing without roof, without inhabitants, these are the habitation of the owl. And then as to the house- top and the sparrows, ye are familiar with them. I find, therefore, some one of Christ's body, a preacher of the word, sympathizing with the weak, seeking the gains of Christ, mindful of his Lord to come.(9) Let us see these three things from the office of His steward. Hath such a man come among those who are not Christians? He is a pelican in the wilderness. Hath he come among those who were Christians, and have relapsed? He is an owl in the ruined walls; for he forsaketh not even the darkness of those who dwell in night, he wisheth to gain even these. Hath he come among such as are Christians dwelling in a house, not as if they believed not, or as if they had let go what they had believed, but walking luke-warmly in what they believe? The sparrow crieth unto them, not in the wilderness, because they are Christians; nor in the ruined walls, because they have not relapsed; but because they are within the roof; under the roof rather, because they are under the flesh. The sparrow above the flesh crieth out, husheth not up the commandments of God, nor becometh carnal, so that he be subject to the roof. "What ye hear in the ear, that preach ye on the housetops."(1) There are three birds and three places; and one man may represent the three birds, and three men may represent severally the three birds; and the three sorts of places, are three classes of men: yet the wilderness, the ruined walls, and the house-top, are but three classes of men.
8. ... Let us not pass over what is said, or even read, of this bird, that is, the pelican; not rashly asserting anything, but yet not passing over what has been left to be read and uttered by those who have written it. Do ye so hear, that if it be true, it may agree; if false, it may not hold. These birds are said to slay their young with blows of their beaks, and for three days to mourn them when slain by themselves in the nest: after which they say the mother wounds herself deeply, and pours forth her blood over her young, bathed in which they recover life. This may be true, it may be false: yet if it be true, see how it agreeth with Him, who gave us life by His blood.(2) It agreeth with Him in that the mother's flesh recalleth to life her young with her blood; it agreeth well. For He calleth Himself a hen brooding over her young.(3) ... If, then, it be so truly, this bird doth closely resemble the flesh of Christ, by whose blood we have been called to life. But how may it agree with Christ, that the bird herself slays her own young? Doth not this agree with it? "I will slay, and I will make alive: I will wound, and I will heal."(4) Would the persecutor Saul s have died, unless he were wounded from heaven; or would the preacher be raised up, unless by life given him from His blood? But let those who have written on the subject see to this; we ought not to allow our understanding of it to rest upon doubtful ground.(6) Let us rather recognise this bird in the wilderness; as the Psalm expresseth it, "A pelican in the solitude." I suppose that Christ born of a Virgin is here meant. He was born in loneliness, because He alone was thus born. After the nativity, we come to His Passion. ... Born in the wilderness, because alone so born; suffering in the darkness of the Jews as it were in night, in their sin, as it were in ruins: what next? "I have watched:" and "am become even as it were a sparrow, that sitteth alone upon the house-top" (ver. 7). Thou hadst then slept amid the ruins, and hadst said, "I laid me down, and slept."(7) What meaneth, "I slept"? Because I chose, I slept: I slept for love of night: but, "I rose again," followeth. Therefore "I watched," is here said. But after He watched, what did He? He ascended into heaven, He became as a sparrow by flying; that is, by ascending; "alone on the house- top;" that is, in heaven. He is therefore as the pelican by birth, as the owl by dying, as the sparrow by ascending again: there in the wilderness, as one alone; here in the ruined walls, as one slain by those who could not stand in the building; and here again watching and flying for our sakes alone on the house-top, He there intercedeth in our behalf.(8) For our Head is as the sparrow, His body as the turtle-dove. "For the sparrow hath found her an house." What house? In heaven, where He doth mediate for us. "And the turtle-dove a nest," the Church of God hath found a nest from the wood of His Cross, where "she may lay her young," her children.
9. "Mine enemies revile me all day, and they that praised me are sworn together against me" (ver. 8). With their mouth they praised, in their heart they were laying snares for me. Hear their praise: "Master, we know that Thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest Thou for any man. Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?"(9) And whence this evil repute, except because I came to make sinners my members, that by repentance they may be in my body? Thence is all the calumny, thence the persecution. "Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? They that be whole need not a physician, but they that be sick."(10) Would that ye were aware of your sickness, that ye might seek a physician; ye would not slay Him, and through your infatuated pride perish in a false health.
10. "I have eaten ashes as it were bread: and mingled my drink with weeping" (ver. 9). Because He chose to have among His members these kinds of men, that they should be healed and set free, thence is the evil repute. Now at this day what is the character of Pagan calumny against us? what, brethren, do ye conceive they tell us? Ye corrupt discipline, and pervert the morality of the human race. Why dost thou attack us; say why? what have we done? By giving, he replieth, to men room for repentance, by promising impunity for all sins: for this reason men do evil deeds, careless of consequences, because everything is pardoned them, when they are converted. ...And what is to become of thee, miserable man, if there shall be no harbour of impunity? If there is only licence for sinning, and no pardon for sins, where wilt thou be, whither wilt thou go? Surely even for thee did it happen, that that afflicted one ate ashes as it were bread, and mingled His drink with weeping. Doth not such a feast now please thee? But nevertheless, he replieth, men add to their sins under the hope of pardon. Nay, but they would add to them if they despaired of pardon. Dost thou not observe in what licentious cruelty gladiators live? whence this, except because, as destined for the sword and sacrifice, they choose to sate their lust, before they pour forth their blood?(1) Wouldest not thou also thus address thyself? I am already a sinner, already an unjust man, one already doomed to damnation, hope of pardon there is none: why should I not do whatever pleaseth me, although it be not lawful? why not fulfil, as far as I can, any longings I may have, if, after these, nothing but torments only be in store? Wouldest thou not thus speak unto thyself, and from this very despair become still worse? Rather than this, then, He who promiseth forgiveness, doth correct thee, saying, "As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live."(2) ... For in order that men might not live the worse from despair, He promised a harbour of forgiveness; again, that they might not live the worse from hope of pardon, He made the day of death uncertain: fixing both with the utmost providence, both as a refuge for the returning, and a terror to the loitering. Eat ashes as bread, and mingle thy drink with weeping; by means of this banquet thou shalt reach the table of God. Despair not; pardon hath been promised thee. Thanks be to God, he saith, because it is promised; I hold fast the promise of God. Now therefore live well. To-morrow, he replieth, I will live well. God hath promised the pardon; no one promised thee to-morrow. ...
11. "And that because of thine indignation and wrath: because thou hast taken me up, thou hast cast me down" (ver. 10). This is thy wrath, O Lord, in Adam: that wrath in which we were all born, which cleaveth unto us i by our birth; the wrath froth the stock of iniquity, the wrath from the mass of sin: according to what the Apostle saith, "We also were once the children of wrath, even as others." For He saith not, the wrath of God shall come upon him: but, "abideth upon him:" because that wrath in which he was born is not taken away. ... Man set in honour, is made in the image of God: raised up to this honour, lifted up from the dust, from the earth, he hath received a reasonable soul; by the vivacity of that very reason, he is placed before all beasts, cattle, birds that fly, and fishes.(3) For which of these hath reason to understand? Because none of them is created in the image of God. ...Therefore, "Because Thou hast taken me up, Thou hast cast me down:" punishment followeth me, because Thou hast given me a free choice. For if Thou hadst not given me a free choice, and for this reason didst not make me better than cattle, just condemnation would not follow me when I sinned. Thus Thou hast taken me up in giving me freedom of choice, and by Thy judgment Thou hast cast me down.
12. "My days have declined like a shadow" (ver. 11). ... He had said above, "My days are consumed away like smoke;" and he now saith, "My days have declined like a shadow." In this shadow, day must be recognised; in this shadow, light must be discerned; lest afterward it be said in late and fruitless repentance, "What hath pride profiled us? or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow."(4) Say at this season, all things will pass away like a shadow, and thou mayest not pass away like a shadow. "My days have declined like a shadow, and I am withered like grass." For he had said above, "my heart is smitten down, and I am withered like grass." But the grass bedewed with the Saviour's blood will flourish afresh. "I have withered like grass;" I, that is, man, after that disobedience; this I have suffered from Thy just judgment: but what art Thou ?
13. For not because I have fallen, hast Thou grown old: for Thou art strong to set me free, who hast been strong to humble me. "But Thou, O Lord, endurest for ever: and Thy remembrance throughout all generations" (ver. 12). "Thy remembrance," because Thou dost not forget: "throughout all generations," forasmuch as we know the promise of life, both present and future.(5)
14. "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Sion: for it is time that Thou have mercy upon her" (ver. 13). What time? "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law." And where is Sion? "To redeem them that were under the Law."(6) First then were the Jews: for thence were the Apostles, thence those more than five hundred brethren,(7) thence that later multitude, who had but one heart and one soul toward God.(8) Therefore, "the time is come." What time? "Behold, now is the accepted time: behold, now is the day of salvation."(9) Who saith this? That Servant of God, that Builder, who said, "Ye are God's building."(10)
15. Here therefore what saith he? "For thy servants take pleasure in her stones" (ver. 14). In whose stones? In the stones of Sion? But there are those there that are not stones. Not stones of what? What then followeth? "and pity the dust thereof." I understand by the stones of Sion all the Prophets: there was the voice of preaching sent before, thence the ministry of the Gospel assumed, through their preaching Christ became known. Therefore thy servants have taken pleasure in the stones of Sion. But those faithless apostates from God, who: offended their Creator by their evil deeds, have returned to the earth, whence they were taken. They have become dust, they have become ungodly.(1) But wait, Lord; bear with us, Lord; be long-suffering, O Lord: let not the wind rush in, and sweep away this dust from the face of the earth. Let thy servants come, let them come, let them acknowledge in the stones thy voice, let them pity the dust of Sion, let them be formed in thy image: let the dust say, lest it perish, "Remember that we are but dust."(2) This of Sion: was not that which crucified the Lord, dust? What is worse, it was dust from the ruined walls; altogether dust it was, but nevertheless it was not in vain said of this dust, "Father, forgive them." From this very dust there came a wall of so many thousands who believed, and who laid the price of their possessions at the Apostles' feet. From that dust then there arose a human nature formed(3) and beautiful. Who among the heathen acted thus? How few are there whom we admire for having done thus, compared with the many thousands of these converts? At first suddenly three, afterwards five thousand; all living in unity, all laying the price of their possessions, when they had sold them, at the Apostles' feet, that it might be distributed to each, as each had need, who had one soul and one heart toward God.(4) Who made this even of that very dust, but He who created Adam himself out of dust? This then is concerning Sion, but not in Sion only:
16. "The heathen shall fear Thy Name, O Lord; and all the kings of the earth Thy Majesty" (ver. 15). Now that Thou hast pitied Sion, now that Thy servants have taken pleasure in her stones, by acknowledging the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets; now that they have pitied her dust; so that man is formed, or rather re-formed, in life out of dust; hence preaching hath increased among the heathen: let the heathen fear Thy Name, let another wall approach also from the heathen, let the Corner Stone s be recognised, let the two who come from different regions, but who no longer differ in belief, meet in close union.
17. "For the Lord shall build up Sion" (ver. 16). This work is going on now. O ye living stones, run to the work of building, not to ruin. Sion is in building, beware of the ruined walls: the tower is building, the ark is in building; remember the deluge. This work is in progress now; but when Sion is built, what will happen? "And He will appear in His glory." That He might build up Sion, that He might be a foundation in Sion, He was seen by Sion, but not in His glory: "we have seen Him, and He had no form nor comeliness."(6) But truly when He shall have come with His angels to judge,(7) shall they not look then upon Him whom they have pierced?(8) and they shall be put to confusion when too late, who refused confusion in early and healthful repentance.
18. "He hath turned Him unto the prayer of the poor destitute, and despised not their desire" (ver. 17). This is going on now in the building of Sion: the builders of Sion pray, they groan: He is the one poor, because the poor are many; because the thousands among so many nations are one in Him, because He is the unity of the peace of the Church, He is one, He is many: one, through love: many, on account of His extension. Therefore we now pray, we now run: now, if any man hath used to be otherwise, and lived differently, let him eat ashes as it were bread, and mingle his drink with weeping. Now is the time, when Sion is. in building: now the stones are entering into the structure: when the building is finished, and the house dedicated, why dost thou run, to ask when too late, to beg in vain, to knock to no purpose, doomed to abide without with the five foolish virgins?(9) Therefore now run.
19. "Let these things be written for those that come after" (ver. 18). When these words were written, they profited not so much those among whom they were written: for they were written to prophesy the New Testament, among men who lived according to the Old Testament. But God had both given that Old Testament, and had settled in that land of promise His own people. But since "Thy remembrance is from generation to generation," belongeth not to the ungodly, but to the righteous; "in our generation" belongeth to the Old Testament; while "in the other generation" belongeth to the New Testament; and since the New Testament announceth this that was prophesied, "Let these things be written for those that come after: and the people which shall be created, shall praise the Lord." Not the people which is created, but "the people which shall be created." What is clearer, my brethren? Here is prophesied that creation of which the Apostle saith: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."(1) "For he hath looked down from His lofty sanctuary." He hath looked down from on high, that He might come unto the humble: from on high He hath become humble, that He might exalt the humble. ...
20. "Out of the heaven did the Lord look down upon the earth" (ver. 19): "that He might hear the mournings of such as are in fetters, and deliver the children of such as are put to death" (ver. 20). We have found it said in another Psalm, "O let the sorrowful sighs of the fettered come before Thee;"(2) and in a passage where the voice of the martyrs was meant. Whence are the martyrs in fetters ?... But God had bound them with these fetters, hard indeed and painful for a season, but endurable on account of His promises, unto whom it is said, "On account of the words of Thy lips, I have kept hard ways." We must indeed groan in these fetters in order to gain the mercy of God. These fetters must not be shunned, in order to gain a destructive freedom and the temporal and brief pleasure of this life, to be followed by perpetual bitterness. Accordingly Scripture,(3) that we may not refuse the fetters of wisdom, thus addresseth us: "... Then shall her fetters be a strong defence for thee, and her chains a robe of glory." Let the fettered therefore cry out, as long as they are in the chains of the discipline of God, in which the martyrs have been tried: the fetters shall be loosed, and they shall fly away, and these very fetters shall afterwards be turned into an ornament. This hath happened with the martyrs. For what have the persecutors effected by killing them, except that their fetters were thereby loosed, and turned into crowns?... The remission of sins, is the loosing. For what would it have profited Lazarus, that he came forth from the tomb, unless it were said to him, "loose him, and let him go"?(4) Himself indeed with His voice aroused him from the tomb, Himself restored his life by crying unto him, Himself overcame the mass of earth that was heaped upon the tomb, and he came forth bound hand and foot: not therefore with his own feet, but by the power of Him who drew him forth. This taketh place in the heart of the penitent: when thou hearest a man is sorry for his sins, he hath already come again to life; when thou hearest him by confessing s lay bare his conscience, he is already drawn forth from the tomb, but he is not as yet loosed. When is he loosed, and by whom is he loosed? "Whatsoever thou shall loose on earth," He saith, "shall be loosed in Heaven.(6) Forgiveness of sins may justly be granted by the Church: but the dead man himself cannot be aroused except by the Lord crying within him; for God doth this within him. We speak to your ears: how do we know what may be going on in your hearts? But what is going on within, is not our doing, but His.(7)
21. "That the name of the Lord may be declared in Sion" (ver. 21). For at first, when the fettered were appointed unto death, the Church Was oppressed: since these tribulations the Name of the Lord has been declared in Sion, with great freedom, in the Church herself. For she is Sion: not that one spot, at first proud, afterwards taken captive; but the Sion whose shadow was that Sion, which signifieth a watchtower; because when placed in the flesh, we see into the things before us, extending ourselves not to the present which is now, but to the future. Thus it is a watch-tower: for every watcher gazes far. Places where guards are set, are termed watch- towers: these are set on rocks, on mountains, in trees, that a wider prospect may be commanded from a higher eminence. Sion therefore is a watch-tower, the Church is a watch-tower. ... If therefore the Church be a watch-tower, the Name of the Lord is already declared there. Not the Lord's Name only is declared in that Sion, but "His praise," He saith, "in Jerusalem."
22. And how is it declared? "In the nations gathering together in one, and the kingdoms, that they may serve the Lord" (ver. 22). How is this accomplished, unless by the blood of the slain? How accomplished, but by the groans of the fettered? Those therefore who were in tribulation and humility have been heard; that in our times the Church might be in the great glory which we see her in, so that the very kingdoms which then persecuted her, now serve the Lord.
23. "She answered Him in the way of His strength" (ver. 23). ... The preceding words show, that either "His praise," or "Jerusalem," answered: for it was said, "And His praise in Jerusalem; in the nations gathering together in one, and the kingdoms, that they may serve the Lord. Respondit ei." We cannot say, "the kingdoms answered," for he would have said responderunt. Respondit ei. We cannot say, "the nations answered," for he would have said, responderunt (in the plural). Since then it is Respondit ei, in the singular, we look for the singular number above, and find that the Words, "His praise," and "Jerusalem," are the only words in which we find it. But since it is doubtful, whether it be "His praise," or "Jerusalem," let us expound it each way. How did "His praise" answer Him? When they who are called by Him thank Him. For He calleth, we answer; not by our voice, but by our faith; not by our tongue, but by our life. ... From His elect and holy men, Jerusalem also answereth Him. For Jerusalem also was called: and the first Jerusalem refused to hear, and it was said unto her, "Behold, thy house shall be left unto the desolate."(1) ... But that Jerusalem, of whom it was written, "Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear,"(2) "She hath answered Him." What meaneth, "She hath answered Him"? She despiseth Him not when He called. He sent rain, She gave fruit.
24. "She answered Him:" but where? "in the path of His strength." ... The Church therefore answered Him not in the way of weakness; because after His resurrection He called the Church from the whole world, no longer weak upon the cross, but strong in heaven. For it is not the praise of the Christian faith that they believe that Christ died, but that they believe that He arose from the dead. Even the Pagan believeth that He died; and maketh this a charge against thee, that thou hast believed in one dead. What then is thy praise? It is that thou believest that Christ arose from the dead, and that thou dost hope that thou shalt rise from the dead through Christ: this is the praise of faith. "For if thou shall confess with thy mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and shall believe in thy heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shall be saved."(3) ... This is the faith of Christians. In this faith then, in which the Church is gathered, "She hath answered Him," She gave Him worship according to His commandments: "in the path of His strength," not in the path of His weakness.
25. How she answered Him, ye have already heard above. "In the gathering of the nations into one." Herein she answered Him, in unity: he who is not in unity, answereth Him not. For He is One, the Church is unity: none but unity answereth to Him who is One: ... Since some(4) were destined to say against her, She hath existed, and no longer doth exist; "Show me," He saith, "the shortness of my days," what is it, that I know not what apostates from me murmur against me? why is it that lost men contend that I have perished? For they surely say this, that I have been, and no longer am: "Show me the shortness of my days." I do not ask from Thee about those everlasting days: they are without end, where I shall be; it is not those I ask of: I ask of temporal days; show unto me my temporal days; "show me the shortness," not the eternity, "of my days." Declare unto me, how long I shall be in this world: on account of those who say, "She hath been," and is no more: on account of those who say, The Scriptures are fulfilled, all nations have believed, but the Church hath become apostate, and hath perished from among all nations. ...
26. Seest thou not that there are still nations among whom the Gospel hath not been preached? Since then it is needful that what the Lord spoke shall be fulfilled, declaring unto the Church the shortness of my days, that this Gospel be preached in all nations, and then that the end may come, why is it that thou sayest that the Church hath already perished from among all nations, when the Gospel is being preached for this purpose, that it may be in all nations? Therefore the Church remaineth even unto the end of the world, in all nations; and this is the shortness of Her days, because all that is limited is short; so that She may pass into eternity from this brief existence. May heretics be lost,(5) may that which they are be lost, and may they be found, that they may be what they are not. Shortness of days will be unto the end of the world: shortness for this reason, because the whole of this season, I say not from this day unto the end of the world, but from Adam down to the end of the world, is a mere drop compared with eternity.
27. Let not therefore heretics flatter themselves against me, because I said, "the shortness of my days," as if they would not last down to the end of the world. For what hath he added? "O my God, take me not away in the midst of my days" (ver. 24). Deal Thou not with me according as heretics speak. Lead me on unto the end of the world, not only to the middle of my days; and finish my short days, that Thou mayest afterwards grant unto me eternal days. Wherefore then hast thou asked concerning the shortness of thy days? Wherefore? Dost thou wish to hear? "Thy years are in the generation of generations." This is why I asked concerning those short days, because although my days should endure unto the end of the world, yet they are short in comparison of Thy days. For "Thy years are in the generation of generations." Wherefore doth he not say, Thy years are unto worlds of worlds; for thus rather is eternity usually signified in the holy Scriptures; but he saith, "Thy years are in the generation of generations"? But what are thy years? what, but those which do not come, and then pass away? what, but they which come not, so as to cease again? For every day in this season so cometh as to cease again; every hour, every month, every year; nothing of these is stationary; before it hath come, it is to be; after it hath come, it will not be. Those everlasting years of thine, therefore, those years that are not changed, "are in the generation of generations." There is a "generation of generations;" in that shall thy years be. There is one such, and if we acknowledge it aright, we shall be in it, and the years of God shall be in us. How shall they be in us? Just as God Himself shall be in us: whence it is said, "That God may be all in all."(1) For the years of God, and God Himself, are not different: but the years of God are the eternity of God: eternity is the very substance of God, which hath nothing changeable; there nothing is past, as if it were no longer: nothing is future, as if it existed not as yet. There is nothing there but, Is: there is not there, Was, and Will be; because what was, is now no longer: and what will be, is not as yet: but whatever is there, simply Is. ... Behold this great I Am! What is man's being to this? To this great I Am, what is man, whatever he be? Who can understand that To Be? who can share it? who can pant, aspire, presume that he may be there? Despair not, human frailty! "I am," He saith, "the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." Thou hast heard what I am in Myself: now hear what I am on thy account. This eternity then hath called us, and the Word burst forth from eternity. It is now eternity, it is now the Word, and no longer time.
28. ... From so many generations thou wilt gather together all the holy offspring of all generations, and wilt form one generation thence: "In" this "generation of generations are Thy years," that is, that eternity will be in that generation, which is collected from all generations, and reduced into one; this shall share in Thy eternity. Other generations are born for fulfilling their times, out of which this one is regenerated for ever; though changed it shall be endued with life, it shall be fitted to bear Thee, receiving strength from Thee.
29. "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the Heavens are the work of Thy hands" (ver. 25). ... God laid the foundation of the earth, we know: the heavens are the works of His hands. For do not imagine that God doth one thing with His hand, another by His word. What He doth by His word, He doth by His hand: for He hath not distinct bodily members, who said, "I Am That I Am." And perhaps His Word is His hand, assuredly His hand is His power. For inasmuch as it is said, "Let there be a firmament,"(2) and there was a firmament; He is understood to have created it by His Word; but when He said, "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness;"(3) He seemeth to have created him by His hand. Hear therefore: "The heavens are the work of Thy hands." Lo, what He created by His word, He created also by His hands; because He created them through His excellence, through His power. Observe rather what He created, and seek not to know in what manner He created them. It is much to thee to understand how He created them, since He created thyself so, that thou mayest first be a servant obeying, and afterwards perhaps a friend understanding.(4)
30. "They shall perish, but Thou shall endure" (ver. 26). The Apostle Peter saith this openly: "By the word of God the heavens were of old," etc.(5) He hath said then that the heavens have already perished by the flood: and we know that the heavens perished as far as the extent of this atmosphere of ours. For the water increased, and filled the whole of that space in which birds fly; thus perished the heavens that are near the earth; those heavens which are meant when we speak of the birds of heaven. But there are heavens of heavens higher than these in the firmament: but whether these also shall perish by fire, or those only which perished also by the flood, is a much harder question among the learned, nor can it easily, especially in a limited space of time, be explained. Let us therefore dismiss or put it off; nevertheless, let us know that these things perish, and that God endureth. ...
31. Perhaps by the heavens we here may understand, without being far- fetched, the righteous themselves, the saints of God, abiding in whom God hath thundered in His commandments, lightened in His miracles, watered the earth with the wisdom of truth, for "The heavens have declared the glory of God."(6) But shall they perish? Shall they in any sense perish? In what sense? As a garment? What is, as a garment? As to the body. For the body is the garment of the soul; since our Lord called it a garment, when He said, "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?"(8) How then doth the garment perish? "Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day."(9) They then shall perish: but as to the body: "But Thou shalt endure." ... Such heavens therefore shall perish; not, however, for ever; they shall perish, that they may be changed. Doth not the Psalm say this? Read the following: "'They shall all wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shall Thou change them, and they shall be changed." Thou hearest of the garment, of the vesture, and dost thou understand anything but the body? We may therefore hope for the change of our bodies also, but from Him who was before us, and abideth after us. ... "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail" (ver. 27). But what are we to those years with these beggarly years? and what are they? Yet we ought not to despair. He had already said in His great and exceeding Wisdom, "I Am That I Am;" and yet He saith to console us, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob:"(1) and we are Abraham's seed:(2) even we, although abject, although dust and ashes, trust in Him. We are servants: but for our sakes our Lord took the garb of a servant:(3) for us who are mortal the Immortal One deigned to die, for our sakes He showed His example of resurrection. Let us therefore hope that we may reach these lasting years, in which days are not spent in a revolution of the Sun, but what is abideth even as it is, because it alone truly Is.
32. "The children of Thy servants shall dwell there: and their seed shall stand fast for ages" (ver. 28): for the age of ages, the age of eternity, the age that abideth. But, "the children," he saith, "of Thy servants:" is it to be feared lest we be the servants of God, and our children, and not ourselves, dwell there? Or if we are the children of the servants, inasmuch as we are the Apostles' children, what are we to say? Can those children rising after have so unhappy a presumption, as to boast in their late succession, and so to venture to say, We shall be there; the Apostles will not be there? May this be far from their piety as children, from their faith as little ones, from their understanding when of age! The Apostles also will be there: rams go before, lambs follow. Wherefore then, "the children of Thy servants;" and not in brief, "Thy servants"? Both they are Thy servants, and their children are Thy servants; and the children of these, their grandsons, what are they but Thy servants? Thou wouldest include them all briefly, if Thou shouldest say, Thy servants shall dwell therein ... "The children of Thy servants," are the works of Thy servants; no one shall dwell there, but through his own works. What therefore meaneth, Their children shall dwell? Let no man boast that he shall dwell there, if he calleth himself God's servant, and hath not works; for none but children shall dwell there. What meaneth therefore, "The children of Thy servants shall dwell there"? Thy servants shall dwell there by their own works, Thy servants shall dwell there through their own children. Be not therefore barren, if thou dost wish to dwell there; send before the children whom thou mayest follow, by sending them before thee, not by burying them. Let thy children lead thee to the land of promise, the land of the living, not of the dying: whilst thou art living here in this pilgrimage, let them go before thee, let them receive thee. ...
1. ... "Bless the Lord, O my soul! and all that is within me, His holy Name" (ver. 1). I suppose that he speaketh not of what is within the body; I do not suppose him to mean this, that our lungs and liver, and so forth, are to burst forth into the voice of blessing of the Lord. There are lungs in our breast indeed, like a kind of bellows, which send forth successive breathings, which breathing forth of the air inhaled is pressed out into voice and sound, when the words are articulated; nor can any utterance sound forth from our mouth, but what the pressed lungs have given vent to; but this is not the meaning here; all this relateth to the ears of men. God hath ears: the heart also hath a voice. A man speaketh to the things within him, that they may bless God, and saith unto them, "all that is within me bless His holy Name!" Dost thou ask the meaning of what is within thee? Thy soul itself. In saying then, "all that is within me, bless His holy Name," it only repeateth the above, "Bless the Lord, O my soul:" for the word "Bless," is understood. Cry out with thy voice, if there be a man to hear; hush thy voice, when there is no man to hear thee; there is never wanting one to hear all that is within thee. Blessing therefore hath already been uttered from our mouth, when we were chanting these very words. We sung as much as sufficed for the time, and were then silent: ought our hearts within us to be silent to the blessing of the Lord? Let the sound of our voices bless Him at intervals, alternately, let the voice of our hearts be perpetual. When thou comest to church to recite a hymn, thy voice soundeth forth the praises of God: thou hast sung as far as thou couldest, thou hast left the church; let thy soul sound the praises of God. Thou art engaged in thy daily work: let thy soul praise God. Thou art taking food; see what the Apostle saith: "Whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of God."(5) I venture to say; when thou sleepest, let thy soul praise the Lord. Let not thoughts of crime arouse thee, let not the contrivances of thieving arouse thee, let not arranged plans of corrupt dealing arouse thee. Thy innocence even when thou art sleeping is the voice of thy soul.
2. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His rewards" (ver. 2 ). But the rewards of the Lord cannot be before thine eyes unless thy sins are before thine eyes. Let not delight in past sin be before thine eyes, but let the condemnation of sin be before thine eyes: condemnation from thee, forgiveness from God. For thus God rewardeth thee, so that thou mayest say, "How shall I reward the Lord for all His rewards unto me?"(1) This it was that the martyrs considering (whose memory we are this day celebrating), and all the saints who have despised this life, and as ye have heard in the Epistle of St. John, laid down their lives for the brethren, which is the perfection of love,(2) even as our Lord saith: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends:"(3) this the holy martyrs, then, considering, despised their lives here, that they might find them there, following our Lord's words when He said, "He that loveth his life, shall lose it; and he that loseth his life for My sake, shall keep it unto life eternal."(4) ... "Forget not," he saith, "all His rewards: "not awards, but "rewards."(5) For something else was due, and what was not due hath been paid. Whence also these words: "What," he asketh, "shall I reward the Lord for all His rewards unto me?" Thou hast rewarded good with evil; He rewardeth evil with good. How hast thou, O man, rewarded thy God with evil for good? Thou who hast once been a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious,(6) hast rewarded blasphemies. For what good things? First, because thou art: but a stone also is. Next, because thou livest: but a brute also liveth. What reward wilt thou give the Lord, for His having created thee above all the cattle; and above all the fowls of the air, in His image and likeness?(7) Seek not how to reward Him: give back unto Him His own image: He requireth no more; He demandeth His own coin.(8) ...
3. Think thou, soul, of all the rewards of God, in thinking over all thy wicked deeds: for as many as are thy sins, so many are His rewards of good. And what present, what offering, what sacrifice, canst thou ever tender unto Him? ... What wilt thou reward the Lord with? For thou wast reflecting, and couldest not find: "I will receive the cup of salvation." What? hath not the Lord Himself given the cup of salvation? Reward Him from thine own, if thou canst. I would say, No, do it not; reward Him not from thine own; God doth not will to be rewarded from thine own. If thou rewardest Him from thine own, thou rewardest sin. For all that thou hast thou hast from Him: sins only thou hast of thine own. He doth not wish to be rewarded from thine, He doth will from His own. Just as, if thou shouldest bring to a husbandman, from the land which he hath sown, an ear of wheat, thou hast rewarded him from the husbandman's own produce; if thorns, that hast offered him of thine own. Reward truth, in truth praise the Lord: if thou shall choose to reward Him from thine own, thou wilt lie. He who speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own.(9) If he who speaketh a lie, speaketh of his own: so he who speaketh truth, speaketh of the Lord's. But what is to receive the cup of salvation, but to imitate the Passion of our Lord? ... I will receive the cup of Christ, I will drink of our Lord's Passion. Beware that thou fail not. But, "I will call upon the Name of the Lord." They then who failed, called not upon the Lord; they presumed in their own strength. Do thou so return, as remembering that thou art returning what thou hast received. So then let thy soul bless the Lord, as not to forget all His rewards.
4. Hear ye all His rewards. "Who forgiveth all thy sin: who healeth all thine infirmities" (ver. 3). Behold His rewards. What, save punishment, was due unto the sinner? What was due to the blasphemer, but the hell of burning fire? He gave not these rewards: that thou mayest not shudder with dread: and without love fear Him. ... But thou art a sinner. Turn again, and receive these His rewards: He "forgiveth all thy sin." ... Yet even after remission of sins the soul herself is shaken by certain passions; still is she amid the dangers of temptation, still is she pleased with certain suggestions; with some she is not pleased, and sometimes she consenteth unto some of those with which she is pleased: she is taken. This is infirmity: but He "healeth all thine infirmities." All thine infirmities shall be healed: fear not. They are great, thou wilt say: but the Physician is greater. No infirmity cometh before the Almighty Physician as incurable: only suffer thou thyself to be healed: repel not His hands; He knoweth how to deal with thee. Be not only pleased when He cherisheth thee, but also bear with Him when He useth the knife: bear the pain of the remedy, reflecting on thy future health. ... Thou dost not endure in uncertainty: He who promised thee health, cannot be deceived. The physician is often deceived: and promiseth health in the human body. Why is he deceived? Because he is not healing his own creature. God made thy body, God made thy soul. He knoweth how to restore what He hath made, He knoweth how to fashion again what He hath already fashioned: do thou only be patient beneath the Physician's hands: for He hateth one who rejects His hands. This doth not happen with the hands of a human physician. ...
5. "Who redeemeth thy life from corruption" (ver. 4). Behold, "the body which is corrupted, weigheth down the soul."(1) The soul then hath life in a corruptible body. What sort of life? It suffereth burdens, it beareth weights. How great obstacles are there to thinking of God Himself, as it is right that men should think of God, as if interrupting us from the necessity of human corruption? how many influences recall us, how many interrupt, how many withdraw the mind when fixed on high? what a crowd of illusions, what tribes of suggestions? All this in the human heart, as it were, teemeth with the worms of human corruption. We have set forth the greatness of the disease, let us also praise the Physician. Shall not He then heal thee, who made thee such as to be in health, hadst thou chosen to keep the law of health which thou hadst received? ... First think of thine own health. Sometimes a man is stricken in his own house, on his bed, with a more than usually manifest disorder; although this disorder too, which men dislike to contemplate, be plain; yet each man may be attacked with that sickness for which human physicians are sought, and may gasp with fever in his bed; perhaps he may wish to consider of his domestic affairs, to make some order or disposition relating to his estate or his house; at once he is recalled from such cares by the anxiety of his friends, plainly expressed around him, and he is advised to dismiss these subjects, and first to take thought for his health. This then is addressed unto thee, and to all men: if thou art not sick, think of other things: if thy very infirmity prove thee sick, first take heed of thy health. Christ is thy health: think therefore of Christ. Receive the cup of His saving Health, "who healeth all thine infirmities;" if thou shall choose, thou shall gain this Health. ... For thy life hath been redeemed from corruption: rest secure now: the contract of good faith hath been entered upon; no man deceives, no man circumvents, no man oppresses, thy Redeemer. He hath here made a barter, He hath already paid the price, He hath poured forth His blood. The only Son of God, I say, hath shed His blood for us: O soul, raise thyself, thou art of so great price. ..."He redeemeth thy life from corruption."
6. "Who crowneth thee with mercy and loving-kindness." Thou hadst perhaps begun to be in a manner proud, when thou didst hear the words, "He crowneth thee." I am then great, I have then wrestled. By whose strength? By thine, but supplied by Him. ... He crowneth thee, because He is crowning His own gifts, not thy deservings. "I laboured more abundantly than they all," said the Apostle; but see what he addeth: "yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."(2) ... It is then by His mercy that thou art crowned; in nothing be proud; ever praise the Lord; forget not all His rewards. It is a reward when thou, a sinner and an ungodly man, hast been called, that thou mayest be justified. It is a reward, when thou art raised up and guided, that thou mayest not fall. It is a reward, when strength is given thee, that thou mayest persevere unto the end. It is a reward, that even that flesh of thine by which thou wast oppressed riseth again and that not even a hair of thy head perisheth. It is a reward, that after thy resurrection thou art crowned. It is a reward, that thou mayest praise God Himself for evermore without ceasing. ...
7. After the battle, then, I shall be crowned; after the crown, what shall I do? "He who satisfieth thy longing with good things" (ver. 5). ... Seek thy own good, O soul. For one thing is good to one creature, another to another, and all creatures have a certain good of their own, to the completeness and perfection of their nature. There is a difference as to what is essential to each imperfect thing, in order that it may be made perfect; seek for thy own good. "There is none good but One, that is, God."(3) The highest good is thy good. What then is wanting unto him to whom the highest good is good? For there are inferior goods, which are good to different creatures respectively. What, brethren, is good unto the cattle, save to fill the belly, to prevent want, to sleep, to indulge themselves, to exist, to be in health, to propagate? This is good to them: and within certain bounds it hath an allotted measure of good, granted by God, the Creator of all things. Dost thou seek such a good as this? God giveth also this: but do not pursue it alone. Canst thou, a coheir of Christ, rejoice in fellowship with cattle? Raise thy hope to the good of all goods. He will be thy good, by whom thou in thy kind hast been made good, and by whom all things in their kind were made good. For God made all things very good. ...
8. When shall my longing be satisfied with good things? when, dost thou ask? "Thy youth shall be renewed as the eagle's." Dost thou then ask when thy soul is to be satisfied with good things? When thy youth shall be restored. And he addeth, as an eagle's. Something here lieth hidden; what however is said of the eagle, we will not pass over silently, since it is not foreign to our purpose to understand it. Let this only be impressed upon our hearts, that it is not said without cause by the Holy Spirit. For it hath intimated unto us a sort of resurrection. And indeed the youth of the eagle is restored, but not into immortality, for a similitude hath been given, as far as it could be drawn from a thing mortal to signify a thing immortal, not to demonstrate it. The eagle is said, after it becometh overpowered with bodily age, to be incapable of taking food from the immoderate length of its beak, which is always increasing. For after the upper part of its beak, which forms a crook above the lower part, hath increased from old age to an immoderate length, the length of this increase will not allow of its opening its mouth, so as to form any interval between the lower beak and the crook above. For unless there be such an opening, it hath no power of biting like a forceps, by which to shear off what it may put within its jaws. The upper part therefore increasing, and being too far hooked over, it cannot open its mouth, and take any food. This old age doth to it, it is weighed down with the infirmity of age, and becometh too weak from want of power to eat; two causes of infirmity assaulting it, old age, and want. By a natural device, therefore, in order in some measure to restore its youth, the eagle is said to dash and strike against a rock the upper lip of its beak, by the too great increase of which the opening for eating is closed: and by thus rubbing it against the rock, it breaketh off the weight of its old beak, which impeded its taking food. It cometh to its food, and everything is restored: it will be after its old age like a young eagle; the vigour of all its limbs returneth, the lustre of its plumage, the guidance of its wings, it flieth aloft as before, a sort of resurrection taketh place in it. For this is the object of the similitude, like that of the Moon, which after waning and being apparently intercepted, again is renewed, and becometh full; and signifieth to us the resurrection; but when it is full it doth not remain so; again it waneth, that the signification may never cease. Thus also what hath here been said of the eagle: the eagle is not restored unto immortality, but we are unto eternal life; but the similitude is derived from hence, that the rock taketh away from us what hindereth us. Presume not therefore on thy strength: the firmness of the rock rubbeth off thy old age: for that Rock was Christ.(1) In Christ our youth shall be restored like that of the eagle. ...
9. "The Lord executeth mercy and judgment for all them that are oppressed with wrong" (ver. 6). ... An adulterous woman is brought forward to be stoned according to the Law, but she is brought before the Lawgiver Himself. ... Our Lord, at the time she was brought before Him, bending His Head, began writing on the earth. When He bent Himself down upon the earth, He then wrote on the earth: before He bent upon the earth, He wrote not on the earth, but on stone. The earth was now something fertile, ready to bring forth from the Lord's letters. On the stone He had written the Law, intimating the hardness of the Jews: He wrote on the earth, signifying the productiveness of Christians. Then they who were leading the adulteress came, like raging waves against a rock: but they were dashed to pieces by His answer. For He said to them, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her."(1) And again bending His head, He began writing on the ground. And now each man, when he asked his own conscience, came not forward. It was not a weak adulterous woman, but their own adulterate conscience, that drove them back. They wished to punish, to judge; they came to the Rock, their judges were overthrown by the Rock.(3) ...
10. Execute mercy to(4) the wicked, not as being wicked. Do not receive the wicked, in so far forth as he is wicked: that is, do not receive him as if from inclination towards and love for his iniquity. For it is forbidden to give unto a sinner, and to receive sinners. Yet how is this, "Give unto every man that asketh of thee"? and this, "if thine enemy hunger, feed him"?(5) This is seemingly contradictory: but it is opened to those who knock in the name of Christ, and will be clear unto those who seek. "Help not a sinner:" and, "give not to the ungodly;"(6) and yet, "give unto every man that asketh of thee." But it is a sinner who asketh of me. Give, not as unto a sinner. When dost thou give as unto a sinner? When that which maketh him a sinner, pleaseth thee so that thou givest.(7) ... Let those who give to a man who fights with wild beasts, tell me why they give? Why doth he give to this man? He loveth that in him, in which consists his greatest sin; this he feedeth, this he clotheth in him, wickedness itself, made public by all witnessing it. Why doth the man give, who giveth to actors, or to charioteers, or to courtesans? Do not these very persons give to human beings? But it is not the nature of God's work that they attend to, but the iniquity of the human work. ... When therefore thou givest, thou givest to infamy, not to bravery. As then he who giveth to the fighter of beasts, giveth not to the man, but to a most infamous profession; for if he were only a man, and not a fighter of beasts, thou wouldest not give; thou honourest him in vice, not nature: so on the other hand, if thou give to the righteous, if thou give to the prophet, if thou give to the disciple of Christ anything of which he is in want, without thinking that he is Christ's disciple, that he is God's minister that he is God's steward; but art thinking in that case of some temporal advantage, for instance, that when perchance he shall be needful to thy cause, he may be bought for thee, because thou hast given him something; thou hast no more given to the righteous, if thou hast thus given, than he gave to the man, when he gave to the beast-fighter. The matter, then, most beloved, is quite open to us, and I conceive, that although it was obscure, it is now clear. It was to this that the Lord bound thee, when He said," He who hath received the righteous man." That were enough. But as the righteous may be received with another intention, ... He saith, "He who receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man:"(1) that is, receiving him in consideration of his righteousness: ... that is, because he is Christ's disciple, because he is a steward of the Mystery:(2) "Verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward."(3) So understand, he who receiveth a sinner in the name of a sinner shall lose his reward.
11. ... On this account therefore be merciful without fear, extend love even unto thine enemies: punish those who chance to belong to thy government, restrain them with affection, with charity, in regard to their eternal salvation; lest while thou sparest the flesh, the soul perish. Do this: and though thou have to endure many,(4) over whom thou canst not exercise discipline, because thou hast no lawful authority over them; bear their injuries; be without apprehension. He will show mercy unto thee if thou shalt have been merciful: thou shalt be merciful, without the injuries thou sufferest losing their punishment; "To Me belongeth vengeance, I will repay,"(5) saith the Lord.
12. "He made His ways known unto Moses" (ver. 7). ... For the Law was given with this view, that the sick might be convinced of his infirmity, and pray for the physician. This is the hidden way of God. Thou hadst long ago heard, "Who healeth all thine infirmities." Their infirmities were as yet hidden in the sick; the five books were given to Moses: the pool was surrounded by five porches; he brought forth the sick, that they might lie there, that they might be made known, not that they might be healed. The five porches discovered, but healed not, the sick; the pool healed when one descended, and this when it was disturbed:(6) the disturbance of the pool was in our Lord's Passion. ... Since therefore this is a mystery there, he teacheth that the Law was given that sinners might be convinced of their sin, and call upon the Physician in order to receive grace. ... Therefore, as I had begun to say, because this is a great mystery in the Law, that it was given with this view, that by the increase of sin, the proud might be humbled, the humbled might confess, the confessing might be healed; these are the hidden ways, which He made known to Moses, through whom He gave the Law, by which sin should abound, that grace might more abound. ... "He hath made known His good pleasure unto the children of Israel." To all the children of Israel? To the true children of Israel; yea, to all the children of Israel. For the treacherous, the insidious, the hypocrites, are not children of Israel. And who are the children of Israel? "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile."(7)
13. "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy: long-suffering, and of great mercy" (ver. 8). Why so long-suffering? Why so great in mercy? Men sin and live; sins are added on, life continueth: men blaspheme daily, and "He maketh His sun to rise over the good and the wicked."(8) On all sides He calleth to amendment, on all sides He calleth to repentance, He calleth by the blessings of creation, He calleth by giving time for life, He calleth through the reader, He calleth through the preacher, He calleth through the innermost thought by the rod of correction, He calleth by the mercy of consolation: "He is long-suffering, and of great mercy." But take heed lest by ill using the length of God's mercy, thou treasure up for thyself, as the Apostle saith, wrath in the day of wrath. ... For some there are who prepare to turn, and yet put it off, and in them crieth out the raven's voice, "Cras! Cras!"(9) The raven which was sent from the ark, never returned.(10) God seeketh not procrastination in the raven's voice, but confession in the wailing of the dove. The dove, when sent forth, returned. How long, To-morrow! To-morrow!? Look to thy last morrow: since thou knowest not what is thy last morrow, let it suffice that thou hast lived up to this day a sinner. Thou hast heard, often thou art wont to hear, thou hast heard to-day also; daily thou hearest, and daily thou amendest not. ...
14. "He will not alway be chiding: neither keepeth He His anger for ever" (ver. 9). Since it is in consequence of His anger that we live in the scourges and corruption(1) of mortality: we have this in punishment for the first sin. ... Is it not through His anger, my brethren, that "in the sweat of thy face and in toil thou shalt eat bread, and the earth shall bear thorns and thistles unto thee"?(2) This was said to our forefathers. Or if our life is different from this; if thou canst, turn unto some pleasure, where thou mayest not feel thorns. Choose what thou hast wished, whether thou art covetous or luxurious; to name these two alone; add a third passion, that of ambition; how great thorns are there in the desire of honours? in the luxury of lusts how great thorns? in the ardour of covetousness how great thorns? What troubles are there in base loves? What terrible anxieties here in this life? I omit hell. Beware lest thou even now become a hell unto thyself. The whole of this, my brethren, is the result of His anger: and when thou hast turned thyself unto works of righteousness, thou canst not but toil upon earth; and toil endeth not before life endeth. We must toil on the way, that we may rejoice in our country. He therefore consoleth by His promises thy toil, thy labours, thy troubles, saying to thee, "He will not alway be chiding."
15. "He hath not dealt with us according to our sins" (ver. 10). Thanks unto God, because He hath vouchsafed this. We have not received what we were deserving of: "He hath not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our wickednesses." "For as the height of heaven above the earth, so hath the Lord confirmed His mercy toward them that fear Him" (ver. 11). Observe the heaven: everywhere on every side it covereth the earth, nor is there any part of the earth not covered by the heaven. Men sin beneath heaven: they do all evil deeds beneath the heaven; yet they are covered by the heaven. Thence is light for the eyes, thence air, thence breath, thence rain upon the earth for the sake of its fruits, thence all mercy from heaven. Take away the aid of heaven from the earth: it will fail at once. As then the protection of heaven abideth upon the earth, so doth the Lord's protection abide upon them that fear Him. Thou fearest God, His protection is above thee. But perhaps thou art scourged, and conceivest that God hath forsaken thee. God hath forsaken thee,(3) if the protection of heaven hath forsaken the earth.
16. "Look, how wide the east is from the west; so far hath He set our sins from us" (ver. 12). They who know the Sacraments know this; nevertheless, I only say what all may hear.(4) When sin is remitted, thy sins fall, thy grace riseth; thy sins are as it were on the decline, thy grace which freeth thee on the rise. "Truth springeth from the earth."(5) What meaneth this? Thy grace is born, thy sins fall, thou art in a certain manner made new. Thou shouldest look to the rising, and turn away from the setting.(6) Turn away from thy sins, turn unto the grace of God; when thy sins fall, thou riseth and profitest. ... One region of the heaven falleth, another riseth: but the region which is now rising will set after twelve hours. Not like this is the grace which riseth unto us: both our sins fall for ever, and grace abideth for ever.
17. "Yea, like as a father pitieth his own children, even so hath the Lord had mercy on them that fear Him" (ver. 13). Let Him be as angry as He shall will, He is our Father. But He hath scourged us, and afflicted us, and bruised us: He is our Father. Son, if thou bewailest, wail beneath thy Father; do not so with indignation, do not so with the puffing up of pride. What thou sufferest, whence thou mournest, it is medicine, not punishment; it is thy chastening, not thy condemnation. Do not refuse the scourge, if thou dost not wish to be refused thy heritage: do not think of what punishment thou sufferest in the scourge, but what place thou hast in the Testament.
18. "For He knoweth our forming"(7) (ver. 14): that is, our infirmity. He knoweth what He hath created, how it hath fallen, how it may be repaired, how it may be adopted, how it may be enriched. Behold, we are made of clay: "The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven."(8) He sent even His own Son, Him who was made the second man, Him who was God before all things. For He was second in His coming, first in His returning: He died after many, He arose before all. "He knoweth our forming." What forming? Ourselves. Why sayest thou that He knoweth? Because He hath pitied. "Remember that we are but dust." Addressing God Himself, he saith, "Remember," as if God could forget: He perceiveth, He knoweth in such a manner that He cannot forget. But what meaneth," Remember"? Let thy mercy continue towards us. Thou knowest our forming; forget not our forming, lest we forget thy grace.
19. "Man, his days are but as grass" (ver. 15). Let man consider what he is; let not man be proud. "His days are but as grass." Why is the grass proud, that is now flourishing, and in a very short space dried up? Why is the grass proud that flourisheth only for a brief season, until the sun be hot? It is then good for us that His mercy be upon us, and from grass make gold. "For he flourisheth as a flower of the field." The whole splendour of the human race; honour, powers, riches, pride, threats, is the flower of the grass. That house flourisheth, and that family it great, that family flourisheth; and how many flourish, and how many years do they live! Many years to thee, are but a short season unto God. God doth not count, as thou dost. Compared with the length and long life of ages, all the flower of any house is as the flower of the field. All the beauty of the year hardly lasteth for the year. Whatever there flourisheth, whatever there is warmed with heat, whatever there is beautiful, lasteth not; nay, it cannot exist for one whole year. In how brief a season do flowers pass away, and these are the beauty of the herbs! This which is so very beautiful, this quickly falleth.(1) Inasmuch then as He knoweth as a father our forming, that we are but grass, and can only flourish for a time; He sent unto us His Word, and His Word, which abideth for evermore, He hath made a brother unto the grass which abideth not. Wonder not that thou shalt be a sharer of His Eternity; He became Himself first a sharer of thy grass. Will He who assumed from thee what was lowly, deny unto thee what is exalted in respect of thee?
20. "The wind shall go over on it, it shall not be; and the place thereof shall know it no more" (ver. 16). For he is not speaking of grass, but of that for whose sake even the Word became grass. For thou art man, and on thy account the Word became man. "All flesh is grass:" "and the Word was made flesh."(2) How great then is the hope of the grass, since the Word hath been made flesh? That which abideth for evermore, hath not disdained to assume grass, that the grass might not despair of itself.
21. In thy reflections therefore on thyself, think of thy low estate, think of thy dust: be not lifted up: if thou art anything better, thou wilt be so by His Grace, thou wilt be so by His mercy. For hear what followeth: "but the mercy of the Lord endureth for ever and ever upon them that fear Him" (ver. 17). Ye who fear not Him, will be grass, and in grass, and in torment with the grass: for the flesh shall arise unto the torment. Let those who fear Him rejoice, because His mercy is upon them.
22. "And His righteousness upon children's children" (ver. 18). He speaketh of reward, "upon children's children." How many servants of God are there who have not children, how much less children's children? But He calleth our works our children; the reward of works, our "children's children." "Even upon such as keep His covenant." Let men beware that all may not conceive what is here said to belong to themselves: let them choose, while they have the choice. "And keep in memory His commandments to do them." Thou wast already disposed to flatter thyself, and perhaps to recite to me the Psalter, which I have not by heart, or from memory to say over the whole Law. Clearly thou art better in point of memory than I, better than any righteous man who doth not know the Law word for word: but see that thou keep the commandments. But how shouldest thou keep them? Not by memory, but by life. "Such as keep in memory His commandments:" not, to recite them; but, "to do them." And now perhaps each man's soul is disturbed. Who remembereth all the commandments of God? who remembereth all the writings of God? Lo, I wish not only to hold them in my memory, but also to do them in my works: but who remembereth them all? Fear not: He burdeneth thee not: "on two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets."(3)
23. "The Lord hath prepared His throne in heaven" (ver. 19). Who but Christ hath prepared His throne in heaven? He who descended and ascended, He who died, and rose from the dead, He who lifted up to heaven the manhood He had assumed, hath Himself prepared His throne in heaven. The throne is the seat of the Judge: observe therefore ye who hear, that "He hath prepared His throne in heaven." ... The kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall be the Governor among the people.(4) "And His kingdom shall rule over all."
24. "Bless ye the Lord, ye Angels of His, ye that are mighty in strength: ye that fulfil His word" (ver. 20). By the word of God, then, thou art not righteous, nor faithful, unless when thou dost it. "Ye that are mighty in strength, ye that fulfil His commandment, and hearken unto the voice of His words."
25. "Bless ye the Lord, all ye His hosts: ye servants of His that do His pleasure" (ver. 21). All ye angels, all ye that are mighty in strength: ye that do His word: all ye His hosts, ye servants of His that do His pleasure, do ye, ye bless the Lord. For all they who live wickedly, though their tongues be silent, by their lips do curse the Lord. What doth it profit if thy tongue singeth a hymn, while thy life breatheth sacrilege? By living ill thou hast set many tongues to blasphemy. Thy tongue is given to the hymn, the tongues of those who behold thee, to blasphemy. If then thou dost wish to bless the Lord, do His word, do His will. ...
26. "Bless ye the Lord, all ye works of His, in all places of His dominion" (ver. 22). Therefore in every place. Let Him not be blessed where He ruleth not: "in all places of His dominion." Let no man perchance say: I cannot praise the Lord in the East, because He hath departed unto the West; or, I cannot praise Him in the West, because He is in the East. "For neither from the east, nor from the west, nor yet from the desert hills. And why? God is the Judge."(1) He is everywhere, in such wise that everywhere He may be praised: He is in such wise on every side, that we may be joyful in Him on every side: He is in such wise blessed on every side, that on every side we may live well. ... "In every place of His dominion: bless thou the Lord, O my soul!" The last verse is the same as the first: blessing is at the head of the Psalm, blessing at the end; from blessing we set out, to blessing let us return, in blessing let us reign.(2)
1. ... "Bless the Lord, O my soul." Let the soul of us all, made one in Christ, say this. "O Lord my God, Thou art magnified exceedingly!" (ver. 1). Where art Thou magnified? "Confession and beauty Thou hast put on." Confess ye, that ye may be beautified, that He may put you on. "Clothed with light as a garment" (ver. 2). Clothed with His Church, because she is made" light" in Him, who before was darkness in herself, as the apostle saith: "Ye were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord."(4) "Stretching out the heaven like a skin:" either as easily as thou dost a skin, if it be "as easily," so that thou mayest take it after the letter; or let us understand the authority of the Scriptures, spread out over the whole world, under the name of a skin; because mortality is signified in a skin? but all the authority of the Divine Scriptures was dispensed unto us through mortal men, whose fame is still spreading abroad now they are dead.
2. "Who covereth with waters the upper parts thereof" (ver. 3). The upper parts of what? Of Heaven. What is Heaven? Figuratively only we said, the Divine Scripture. What are the upper parts of the Divine Scripture? The commandment of love, than which there is none more exalted.(6) But wherefore is love compared to waters? Because "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given unto us."(7) Whence is the Spirit Himself water? because "Jesus stood and cried, He that believeth on Me, out of his bosom shall flow rivers of living water."(8) Whence do we prove that it was said of the Spirit? Let the Evangelist himself declare, who followeth it up, and saith, "But this spake He of the Spirit, which they were to receive, who should believe on Him." "Who walketh above the wings of the winds;" that is, above the virtues of souls. What is the virtue of a soul? Love itself. But how doth He walk above it? Because the love of God toward us is greater than ours toward God.
3. "Who maketh spirits His angels, and flaming fire His ministers" (ver. 4): that is, those who are already spirits, who are spiritual, not carnal, He maketh His Angels, by sending them to preach His gospel. "And flaming fire His ministers." For unless the minister that preacheth be on fire, he enflameth not him to whom he preacheth.
4. "He hath founded the earth upon its firmness (ver. 5). He hath founded the Church upon the firmness of the Church. What is the firmness of the Church, but the foundation of the Church. What is the foundation of the Church, but that of which the Apostle saith, "Other foundation can no man lay but that is laid, which is Christ Jesus."(9) And therefore, grounded on such a foundation, what hath she deserved to hear? "It shall not be bowed forever and ever." "He founded the earth on its firmness." What is, He hath founded the Church upon Christ the foundation. The Church will totter if the foundation totter; but when shall Christ totter, before whose coming unto us, and taking flesh on Him, "all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made;"(10) who holdeth all things by His Majesty," and us by His goodness? Since Christ faileth not, "she shall not be bowed for ever and ever." Where are they(12) who say that the Church hath perished from the world, when she cannot even be bowed. ...
5. "The deep, like a garment, is its clothing" (ver. 6). Whose? Is it perchance God's? But he had already said of His clothing," Clothed with light as with a garment."(13) I hear of God clothed in light, and that light, if we will, are we. What is, if we will? if we are no longer darkness. Therefore if God is clothed with light, whose clothing, again, is the deep? For an immense mass of waters is called the deep. All water, all the moist nature, and the substance everywhere shed abroad through the seas, and rivers, and hidden caves, is all together called by one name, the Deep. Therefore we understand the earth, of which he said, "He hath founded the earth." Of it I believe he said, "The deep, like a gar merit is its clothing." For the water is as it were the clothing of the earth, surrounding it and covering it. ...
6. "Above the mountains the waters shall stand:" that is, the clothing of the earth, which is the deep, so increased, that the waters stood even above the mountains. We read of this taking place in the deluge. ... The Prophet minding to foretell future things, not to relate the past, therefore said it, because he would have it understood that the Church should be in a deluge of persecutions. For there was a time when the floods of persecutors had covered God's earth, God's Church, and had so covered it, that not even those great ones appeared, who are the mountains. For when they fled everywhere, how did they but cease to appear? And perchance of those waters is that saying, "Save me, O God, for the waters are come in even unto my soul."(1) Especially the waters which make the sea, stormy, unfruitful. For whatsoever earth the sea-water may have covered, it will not rather make it fruitful than bring it to barrenness. For there were also mountains beneath the waters, because above the mountains waters stood.(2) ... Why were the Apostles hidden by flight? Because "above the mountains the waters stood."(2) The power of the waters was great, but how long? Hear what followeth.
7. "From Thy rebuke they shall fly" (ver. 7). And this was done, brethren; from God's rebuke the waters did fly; that is, they went back from pressing on the mountains. Now the mountains themselves stand forth, Peter and Paul: how do they tower! They who before were pressed down by persecutors, now are venerated by emperors. For the waters are fled from the rebuke of God; because "the heart of kings is in the hand of God, He hath bent it whither He would;"(3) He commanded peace to be given by them to the Christians; the authority of the Apostles sprang up and towered high. ... The waters fled from the rebuke of God. "From the voice of Thy thunder they shall be afraid." Now who is there that would not be afraid, from the voice of God through the Apostles, the voice of God through the Scriptures, through His clouds? The sea is quieted, the waters have been made afraid, the mountains have been laid bare, the emperor hath given the order. But who would have given the order, unless God had thundered? Because God willed, they commanded, and it was done. Therefore let no one of men arrogate anything to himself.
8. "The mountains ascend, and the plains go down, into the place which Thou hast rounded for them" (ver. 8). He is still speaking of waters. Let us not here understand mountains as of earth; nor plains, as of earth: but waves so great that they may be compared to mountains. The sea did sometime toss, and its waves were as mountains, which could cover those mountains the Apostles. But how long do the mountains ascend and the plains go down? They raged, and they are appeased. When they raged they were mountains: now they are appeased they are become plains: for He hath founded a place for them. There is a certain channel? as it were a deep place, into which all those lately raging hearts of mortals have retired. ... They were mountains formerly, now they are plains: yet, my brethren, even a dead calm s is sea. For wherefore are they not now violent? wherefore do they not rage? Wherefore do they not try, if they cannot overthrow our earth, at least to cover it? Wherefore not?
9. Hear. "Thou hast set a bound which they shall not pass over, neither shall they turn again to cover the earth" (ver. 9). What then, because now the bitterest waves have received a measure, that we must be allowed to preach such things even with freedom; because they have had their due limit assigned, because they cannot pass over the bound that is set, nor shall they return to cover the earth; what is doing in the earth itself? What workings take place therein, now that the sea hath left it bare? Although at its beach slight waves do make their noise, although Pagans still murmur round; the sound of the shores I hear, a deluge I dread not. What then; what is doing in the earth? "Who sendeth out springs in the little valleys" (ver. 10). "Thou sendest out," he saith, "springs in the little valleys." Ye know what little valleys are, lower places among the lands. For to hills and mountains, valleys and little valleys are opposed in contrary shape. Hills and mountains are swellings of the land: but valleys and little valleys, lownesses of the lands. Do not despise low places, thence flow springs. "Thou sendest out springs in the little valleys." Hear a mountain. The Apostle saith, "I laboured more than they all." A certain greatness is brought before us: yet immediately, that the waters may flow, he hath made himself a valley: "Yet not I, but the grace of God with me."(6) It is no contradiction that they who are mountains be also valleys: for as they are called mountains because of their spiritual greatness, so also valleys because of the humility of their spirit. "Not I," he saith, "but the grace of God with me." ...
10. What is, "In the midst between the mountains the waters shall pass through"? We have heard who are the "mountains," the great Preachers of the word, the exalted Angels of God, though still in mortal flesh; lofty not by their own power, but by His grace; but as far as relates to themselves, they are valleys, in their humility they send forth springs. "In the midst," he saith, "between the mountains, the waters shall pass through." Let us suppose this said thus, "In the midst between the Apostles shall pass through the preachings of the Word of Truth." What is, in the midst between the Apostles? What is called in the midst, is common. A common property, from which all alike live, is in the midst, and belongs not to me, but neither belongs it to thee, nor yet to me. ... For if they are not in the midst, they are as it were private, they flow not for public use, and I have mine, and he has his own, it is not in the midst for both me and him to have it; but such is not the preaching of peace. ... Therefore, brethren, let what we have said to your Love serve to this purpose, because of the springs: that they may flow from you, be ye valleys, and communicate with all that which ye have from God. Let the waters flow in the midst, envy ye no one, drink, be filled, flow forth when ye are filled. Everywhere let the common water of God have the glory, not the private falsehoods of men. ...
11. For it follows, "All the beasts of the wood shall drink" (ver. 11). We do indeed see this also in the visible creation, that the beasts of the wood drink of springs, and of streams that run between the mountains: but now since it hath pleased God to hide His own wisdom in the figures of such things, not to take it away from earnest seekers, but to close it to them that care not, and open it to them that knock; it hath also pleased our Lord God Himself to exhort you by us to this, that in all these things which are said as if of the bodily and visible creation, we may seek something spiritually hidden, in which when found we may rejoice. The beasts of the wood, we understand the Gentiles, and Holy Scripture witnesses this in many places. ...
12. These beasts, then, drink those waters, but passing; not staying, but passing; for all that teaching which in all this time is dispensed passeth. ... Unless perchance your love thinketh that in that city to which it is said, "Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem, praise thy God, O Sion; for He hath made strong the bars of thy gates;"(1) when the bars are now strengthened and the city closed, whence, as we said some time since,(2) no friend goeth out, no enemy entereth;(3) that there we shall have a book to read, or speech to be explained as it is now explained to you. Therefore is it now treated, that there it may be held fast: therefore is it now divided by syllables, that there it may be contemplated whole and entire. The Word of God will not be wanting there: but yet not by letters, not by sounds, not by books,(4) not by a reader, not by an expositor. How then? As, "In the beginning was the Word," etc.(5) For He did not so come to us as to depart from thence; because He was in this world, and the world was made by Him. Such a Word are we to contemplate. For "the God of gods shall appear in Zion."(6) But this when? After our pilgrimage, when the journey is done: if however after our journey is done we be not delivered to the Judge, that the Judge may send us to prison. But if when our journey is ended, as we hope, and wish, and endeavour, we shall have reached our Country, there shall we contemplate What we shall ever praise; nor shall That fail which is present to us, nor we, who enjoy: nor shall he be cloyed that eateth, nor shall that fail which he eateth. Great and wonderful shall be that contemplation. ...
13. "The onagers shall take for their thirst." By onagers he meaneth some great beasts. For who knoweth not that wild asses are called onagers? He meaneth, therefore, some great untrained ones. For the Gentiles had no yoke of the Law: many nations lived after their own customs, ranging in proud boastfulness as in a wilderness. And so indeed did all the beasts, but the wild asses are put to signify the greater sort. They too shall drink for their thirst, for for them too the waters flow. Thence drinks the hare, thence the wild ass: the hare little, the wild ass great; the hare timid, the wild ass fierce: either sort drinks thence, but each for his thirst. ... So faithfully and gently doth it flow, as at once to satisfy the wild ass, and not to alarm the hare. The sound of Tully's voice rings out, Cicero is read, it is some book, it is a dialogue of his, whether his own, or Plato's, or by whatever such writer: some hear that are unlearned, weak ones of less mind; who dareth t,o aspire to such a thing? It is a sound of water, and that perchance turbid, but certainly flowing so violently, that a timid animal dare not draw near and drink. To whom soundeth a Psalm, and he saith, It is too much for me? Behold now what the Psalm soundeth; certainly they are hidden mysteries, yet so it soundeth, that even children are delighted to hear, and the unlearned come to drink, and when filled burst forth in singing. ...
14. Then the Psalm goes on in its text, "Upon them(1) the fowls of the heaven shall inhabit"(ver. 12). ... Upon the mountains, then, the fowls of the air shall have their habitation. We see these birds dwell upon the mountains, but many of them dwell in plains, many in valleys, many in groves, many in gardens, not all upon mountains. There are some fowls that dwell not save on the mountains. Some spiritual souls doth this name denote. Fowls are spiritual hearts, which enjoy the free air. In the clearness of heaven these birds delight, yet their feeding is on the mountains, there will they dwell. Ye know the mountains, they have been already treated of. Mountains are Prophets, mountains are Apostles, mountains are all preachers of the truth. ...
15. But think not that those "fowls of heaven" follow their own authority; see what the Psalm saith: "From the midst of the rocks they shall give their voice." Now, if I shall say to you, Believe, for this said Cicero, this said Plato, this said Pythagoras: which of you will not laugh at me? For I shall be a bird that shall send forth my voice not from the rock. What ought each one of you to say to me? what ought he who is thus instructed to say? "If any one shall have preached unto you a gospel other than that ye have received, let him be anathema."(2) What dost thou tell me of Plato, and of Cicero, and of Virgil? Thou hast before thee the rocks of the mountains, from the midst of the rocks give me thy voice. Let them be heard, who hear from the rock: let them be heard, because also in those many rocks the One Rock is heard: for "the Rock was Christ."(3) Let them therefore be willingly heard, giving their voice from the midst of the rocks. Nothing is sweeter than such a voice of birds. They sound, and the rocks resound: they sound; spiritual men discuss: the rocks resound, testimonies of Scripture give answer. Lo! thence the fowls give their voice from the midst of the rocks, for they dwell on the mountains.
16. "Watering the mountains from the higher places" (ver. 13). Now if a Gentile uncircumcised man comes to us, about to believe in Christ, we give him baptism, and do not call him back to those works of the Law. And if a Jew asks us why we do that, we sound froth the rock, we say, This Peter did, this Paul did: from the midst of the rocks we give our voice. But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above. ...
17. "From the fruit of Thy works shall the earth be satisfied." What is, "From the fruit of Thy works"? Let no man glory in his own works: but "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."(4) With Thy grace he is satisfied, when he is satisfied: let him not say that grace was given for his own merits. If it is called grace, "it is gratuitously given;" if it is returned for works, wages are paid.(5) Freely therefore receive, because ungodly thou art justified.
18. "Bringing forth grass for the cattle, and green herb for the service of men" (ver. 14). This is true, I perceive; I recognise the creation: the earth doth bring forth grass for the cattle, and green herb for the service of men. But I perceive the words, "Thou shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox which treadeth out the corn: Doth God take care for oxen? For our sakes therefore the Scripture saith it."(6) How then doth the earth bring forth grass for the cattle? Because "the Lord hath ordained that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel." He sent preachers, saying unto them, "Eat such things as are set before you of them: for the labourer is worthy of his hire."(7) ... They give spiritual, they receive carnal things; they give gold, they receive grass. ... "If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great matter if we shall reap your carnal things?"(8) This the Apostle said, a preacher so laborious, so indefatigable, so well tried, that he giveth this very grass to the earth. "Nevertheless," he saith, "we have not used this power." He showeth that it is due to him, yet he received it not; nor hath he condemned those who have received what was due. For those were to be condemned who exact what is not due, not they who accept their recompense: yet he gave up even his own recompense. Thou dost not cease to owe to another, because one hath given up his dues, otherwise thou wilt not be the watered earth which bringeth forth grass for the cattle. ... Thou receivest spiritual things, give carnal things in return: to the soldier they are due, to the soldier thou returnest them; thou art the paymaster(9) of Christ. "Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? I speak not thus, that it should be so done unto me."(10) There has been such a soldier as gave up his rations of food even to the paymaster: yet let the paymaster pay the rations...
19. "That it may bring forth bread out of the earth." What bread? Christ. Out of what earth? From Peter, from Paul, from the other stewards of the truth. Hear that it is from the earth: "We have," saith St. Paul, "this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us."(1) He is the bread who descended from heaven,(2) that He might be brought forth out of the earth, when He is preached through the flesh of His servants. The earth bringeth forth grass, that it may bring forth bread from the earth. What earth bringeth forth grass? Pious, holy nations. That bread may be brought forth out of what earth? The word of God out of the Apostles, out of the stewards of God's Sacraments, who still walk upon the earth, who still carry an earthly body.
20. "And wine maketh glad the heart of man" (ver. 15). Let no man prepare himself for intoxication; nay, let every man prepare him for intoxication. "How excellent is Thy cup which maketh inebriate!"(3) We choose not to say, Let no man be drunk. Be inebriated; yet beware, from what source. If the excellent cup of the Lord doth saturate you, your ebriety shall be seen in your works, it shall be seen in the holy love of righteousness, it shall, lastly, be seen in the estrangement of your mind, but from things earthly to heavenly. "To make him a cheerful countenance with oil." ... What is the making the countenance cheerful with oil? The grace of God; a sort of shining for manifestation; as the Apostle saith, "The Spirit is given to every man for manifestation."(4) A certain grace which men can clearly see in men, to conciliate holy love, is termed oil, for its divine splendour; and since it appeared most excellent in Christ, the whole world loveth Him; who though while here He was scorned, is now worshipped by every nation: "For the kingdom is the Lord's, and He shall be Governor among the people."(5) For such is His grace, that many, who do not believe on Him, praise Him, and declare that they are unwilling to believe on Him, because no man can fulfil what He doth command. They who with reproaches once raged against Him, are hindered by His very praises. Yet by all is He loved, by all is He preached; because He is excellently anointed, therefore He is Christ: for He is called Christ from the Chrism or anointing which He had. Messiah in the Hebrew, Christ in the Greek, Unctus in the Latin: but He anointeth over His whole Body. All therefore who come, receive grace, that their countenances may be made glad with oil.
21. "And bread strengtheneth man's heart." What is this, brethren? As it were, he hath forced us to understand what bread he was l speaking of For while that visible bread strengtheneth the stomach, feedeth the body, there is another bread which strengtheneth the heart, in that it is the bread of the heart. ... There is therefore a wine that truly maketh glad the heart, and knoweth not to do aught else than to gladden the heart. But that thou mayest not imagine that this indeed should be taken of the spiritual wine, but not of that spiritual bread; He hath shown this very point, that it is also spiritual: "and bread," he saith, "strengtheneth man's heart." So understand it therefore of the bread as thou dost understand it of the wine; hunger inwardly, thirst inwardly: "Blessed are they," saith our Lord, "who hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled."(6) That bread is righteousness, that wine is righteousness: it is truth, Christ is truth? "I am," He said, "the living bread, who came down from heaven;"(8) and, "I am the Vine, and ye are the branches."(9)
22. "The trees of the plain shall be satisfied" (ver. 16): but with this grace, brought forth out of the earth. "The trees of the plain," are the lower orders of the nations. "And the cedars of Libanus which He hath planted." The cedars of Libanus, the powerful in the world, shall themselves be filled. The bread, and wine, and oil of Christ hath reached senators, nobles, kings; the trees of the plain are filled. First the humble are filled; next also the cedars of Libanus, yet those which He hath planted; pious cedars, religious faithful; for such hath He planted. For the ungodly also are cedars of Libanus; for, "The Lord shall break the cedars of Libanus."(10) For Libanus is a mountain: there are those trees, even according to the letter most long-lived and most excellent. But Libanus is interpreted, as we read in those who have written of these things, a brightness: and this brightness seemeth to belong to this world, which at present shineth and is refulgent with its pomps. There are the cedars of Libanus, which the Lord hath planted; those which the Lord hath planted shall be filled. ...
23. "There shall the sparrows build their nests: their leader is the house of the coot" (ver. 17). Where shall the sparrows build? In the cedars of Libanus. ... Who are the sparrows? Sparrows are birds indeed, and fowls of the air, but small fowls are wont to be called sparrows. There are therefore some spiritual ones that build in the cedars of Libanus: that is, there are certain servants of God who hear in the Gospel, "Sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me."(11) ... Let him who hath resigned many things, not be proud. We know that Peter was a fisherman: what then could he give up, to follow our Lord? Or his brother Andrew, or John and James the sons of Zebedee, themselves also fishermen;(1) and yet what did they say? "Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed Thee.''(2) Our Lord said not to him, Thou hast forgotten thy poverty; what hast thou resigned, that thou shouldest receive the whole world? He, my brethren, who resigned not only what he had, but also what he longed to have, resigned much. ...
24. But although the sparrows will build in the cedars of Libanus, "the house of the coot is their leader." What is the house of the coot? The coot, as we all know, is a water bird, dwelling either among the marshes, or on the sea. It hath rarely or never a home on the shore; but in places in the midst of the waters, and thus usually in rocky islets, surrounded by the waves. We therefore understand that the rock is the fit home of the coot, it never dwelleth more securely than on the rock. On what sort of rock? One placed in the sea. And if it is beaten by the waves, yet it breaketh the waves, is not broken by them: this is the excellency of the rock in the sea. How great waves beat on our Lord Jesus Christ? The Jews dashed against Him; they were broken, He remained whole. And let every one who doth imitate Christ, so dwell in this world, that is, in this sea, where he cannot but feel storms and tempests, that he may yield to no wind, to no wave, but remain whole, while he meets them all. The home of the coot, therefore, is both strong and weak. The coot hath not a home on lofty spots; nothing is more firm and nothing more humble than that home. Sparrows build indeed in cedars, on account of actual need: but they hold that rock as their leader, which is beaten by the waves, and yet not broken; for they imitate the sufferings of Christ. ...
25. What then followeth? "The loftiest hills are for the stags" (ver. 18). The stags are mighty, spiritual, passing in their course over all the thorny places of the thickets and woods. "He maketh my feet like harts' feet, and setteth me up on high."(3) Let them hold to the lofty hills, the lofty commandments of God; let them think on sublime subjects, let them hold those which stand forth most in the Scriptures, let them be justified in the highest: for those loftiest hills are for the stags. What of the humble beasts? what of the hare? what of the hedgehog? The hare is a small and weak animal: the hedgehog is also prickly: the one is a timid animal, the other is covered with prickles. What do the prickles signify, except sinners? He who sinneth daily, although not great sins, is covered over with the smallest prickles. In his timidity he is a hare: in his being covered with the minutest sins, he is a hedgehog: and he cannot hold those lofty and perfect commandments. For "the loftiest hills are for the stags." What then? do these perish? No. For so "is the rock the refuge for the hedgehogs and the hares."(4) For the Lord is a refuge for the poor. Place that rock upon the land, it is a refuge for hedgehogs, and for hares: place it on the sea, it is the home of the coot. Everywhere the rock is useful. Even in the hills it is useful: for the hills without the rock's foundation would fall into the deep. ...
26. "He appointed the Moon for certain seasons" (ver. 19). We understand spiritually the Church increasing from the smallest size, and growing old as it were from the mortality of this life; yet so, that it draweth nearer unto the Sun. I speak not of this moon visible to the eye, but of that which is signified by this name. While the Church was in the dark, while she as yet appeared not, shone not forth as yet, men were led astray, and it was said, This is the Church, here is Christ; so that "while the Moon was dark, they shot their arrows at the righteous in heart."(5) How blind is he who now, when the Moon is full, wandereth astray? "He appointed the Moon for certain seasons." For here the Church temporarily is passing away: for this subjection to death will not remain for ever: there will some tithe be an end of waxing and waning; it is appointed for certain seasons. "And the sun knoweth his going down." And what sun is this, but that Sun of righteousness, whom the ungodly will lament on the day of judgment never having risen for them; they who will say on that day, "Therefore we wandered from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness shone not on us, and the sun did not arise upon us."(6) That sun riseth for him who understandeth Christ. ...
27. Nor think, brethren, that the sun ought to be worshipped by some men, because the sun doth sometimes in the Scriptures signify Christ. For such is the madness of men;(7) as if we said that a creature should be worshipped, when it is said, the sun is an emblem of Christ. Then worship the rock also, for it also is a type of Christ.(5) "He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter:"(9) worship the lamb also, since it is a type of Christ. "The Lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed;"(10) worship the lion also, since it signifieth Christ. Observe how numerous are the types of Christ: all these are Christ in similitude, not in essence. ...
28. What then, when the sun went down, when our Lord suffered? There was a sort of darkness with the Apostles, hope failed, in those to whom He at first seemed great, and the Redeemer of all men. How so? "Thou didst make darkness, and it became night; wherein all the beasts of the forest shall move" (ver. 20). ... Here the beasts of the forest are used in different ways: for these things are always understood in varying senses; as our Lord Himself is at one time termed a lion, at another a lamb. What is so different as a lion and a lamb? But what sort of lamb? One that could overcome the wolf, overcome the lion. He is the Rock, He the Shepherd, He the Gate. The Shepherd entereth by the gate: and He saith," I am the good Shepherd:" and, "I am the Door of the Sheep."(1) ... Learn thus to understand, when these things are spoken figuratively; lest perchance when ye have read that the Rock signifieth Christ,(2) ye may understand it to mean Him in every passage. In one place it meaneth one thing, another in another, just as we can only understand the meaning of a letter by seeing its position.(3) "The lion's whelps roaring after their prey, do seek their meat from God" (ver. 21). Justly then our Lord, when nigh unto His going down, the very Sun of Righteousness recognising His going down, said to His disciples, as if darkness being about to come, the lion would roam about to seek whom he might devour, that that lion could devour no man, unless with leave: "Simon," said He, "this night Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not."(4) When Peter thrice denied,(5) was he not already between the lion's teeth? ...
29. "The Sun hath arisen, and they get them away together, and lay them down in their dens" (ver. 22). More and more as the Sun riseth, so that Christ is recognised by the round world, and glorified therein, do the lion's whelps get them away together; those devils recede from the persecution of the Church, who instigated men to persecute the house of God, by working in the sons of unbelief.(6) Now that none of them dareth persecute the Church, "the Sun hath arisen, and they get them away together." And where are they? "And they lay them down in their dens." Their dens are the hearts of the unbelieving. How many carry lions crouching in their hearts? They burst not forth thence, they make no assault upon the pilgrim Jerusalem. Wherefore do they not so? Because the Sun is already risen, and is shining over the whole world.
30. What art thou doing, O man of God? thou, O Church of God? what art thou, O body of Christ, whose Head is in Heaven? what art thou doing, O man, His unity? "Man," he saith, "shall go forth to his work" (ver. 23). Let therefore this man work good works in the security of the peace of the Church, let him work unto the end. For sometime there will be a sort of general darkening, and a sort of assault will be made, but in the evening, that is, in the end of the world: but now the Church doth work in peace and tranquillity; for" man shall go forth to his work, and to his labour, unto the evening."
31. "O Lord, how great are made Thy works!" (ver. 24). Justly great, justly sublime! where were those works made, that are so great? what was that station where God stood, or that seat whereupon He sat, when He did those works? what was the place where He worked thus? whence did those so beautiful works proceed at the first? To take it word for word, every ordained creation, running by ordinance, beautiful by ordinance, rising by ordinance, setting by ordinance, going through all seasons by ordinance, whence hath it proceeded? whence hath the Church herself received her rise, her growth, her perfection? In what manner is she destined to a consummation in immortality? with what heralding is she preached? by what mysteries is she recommended? by what types is she concealed? by what preaching is she revealed? where hath God done these things? I see great works. "How great are made Thy works, O Lord!" I ask where He hath made them: I find not the place: but I see what followeth: "In Wisdom hast Thou made them all." All therefore Thou hast made in Christ. ... "The earth is full of Thy creation." The earth is full of the creation of Christ. And how so? We discern how: for what was not made by the Father through the Son? Whatever walketh and doth crawl on earth, whatever doth swim in the waters, whatever flieth in the air, whatever doth revolve in heaven, how much more then the earth, the whole universe, is the work of God. But he seems to me to speak here of some new creation, of which the Apostle saith, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God."(7) All who believe in Christ, who put off the old man, and put on the new,(1) are a new creature. "The earth is full of Thy works." On one spot of the earth He was crucified, in one small spot that seed fell into the earth, and died; but brought forth great fruit. ...
32. "The earth is full of Thy creation." Of what creation of Thine is the earth full? Of all trees and shrubs, of all animals and flocks, and of the whole of the human race; the earth is full of the creation of God. We see, know, read, recognise, praise, and in these we preach of Him; yet we are not able to praise respecting these things, as fully as our heart doth abound with praise after the beautiful contemplation of them. But we ought rather to heed that creation, of which the Apostle saith, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."(2) What "old things have passed away"? In the Gentiles, all idolatry; in the Jews themselves, all that servitude unto the Law, all those sacrifices that were harbingers of the present Sacrifice. The oldness of man was then abundant; One came to renovate His own work, to melt His silver, to form His coin, and we now see the earth full of Christians believing in God, turning themselves away from their former uncleanness and idolatry, from a past hope to the hope of a new age: and behold it is not yet realized, but is already possessed in hope, and through that very hope we now sing, and say, "The earth is full of Thy creation." We do not as yet sing this in our country, nor yet in that rest which is promised, the bars of the gates of Jerusalem not being as yet made fast;(3) but still in our pilgrimage gazing upon the whole of this world, upon men who on every side are running unto the faith, fearing hell, despising death, loving eternal life, scorning the present, and filled with joy at such a spectacle, we say, "The earth is full of Thy creation."
33. ... "So is the great and wide sea also; wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts" (ver. 25). He speaketh of the sea as terrible. Snares creep in this world, and surprise the careless suddenly; for who numbereth the temptations that creep? They creep, but beware, lest they snatch us away. Let us keep watch on the Wood; even in the water? even on the waves, we are safe: let not Christ sleep, let not faith sleep; if He hath slept, let Him be awakened; He will command the winds; He will calm the sea;(5) the voyage will be ended, and we shall rejoice in our country. For I see in this terrible sea unbelievers still; for they dwell in barren and bitter waters: but they are both small and great. We know this: many little men of this world are still unbelievers, many great men of this world are so: there are living creatures, both small and great, in this sea. They hate the Church: the name of Christ is a burden to them: they rage not, because they are not permitted; the cruelty which cannot burst forth in deeds, is shut up within the heart. For all, whether small or great, "creeping things, both small and great," who at present grieve at the temples being shut, the altars overthrown, the images broken, the laws which make it a capital crime to sacrifice to idols; all who mourn on this account, are still in the sea. What then of us? And by what road then are we to journey unto our country? Through this very sea, but on the Wood. Fear not the danger; that wood which holdeth together the world doth bear thee up.
34. "There shall go the ships" (ver. 26). Lo, ships float upon that which alarmed you, and sink not. By ships we understand churches; they go among the storms, among the tempests of temptations, among the waves of the world, among the beasts, both small and great. Christ on the wood of His cross is the Pilot. "There shall go the ships." Let not the ships fear, let them not much mind where they float, but by Whom they are steered. "There shall go the ships." What voyage do they find tedious, when they feel that Christ is their Pilot? They will sail safely, let them sail diligently, they will reach their promised haven, they will be led to the land of rest.
35. There is also in that sea somewhat which transcends all creatures, great and small. What is this? Let us hear the Psalm: "There is that Leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to make sport of him." There are creeping things innumerable, both small and great beasts; there shall the ships go, and shall not fear, not only the creeping things innumerable, and beasts both small and great, but not even the serpent which is there; "whom Thou," he speaketh unto God, "hast made to make sport of him." This is a great mystery; and yet I am about to utter what ye already know. Ye know that a certain serpent is the enemy of the Church: ye have not seen him with the eyes of the flesh, but ye see him with the eyes of faith. ...
36. This serpent then, our ancient enemy, glowing with rage, cunning in his wiles, is in the mighty sea. "Here is that Leviathan, whom Thou hast formed to make sport of him." Do thou now make sport of the serpent: for for this end was this serpent made. He falling by his own sin from the sublime realms of the heavens, and made devil instead of angel, received a certain region of his own in this mighty and spacious sea. What thou thinkest his kingdom, is his prison. For many say: wherefore hath the devil received so great power, that he may rule in this world, and prevaileth so much, can do so much? How much prevaileth he? How much can he do? Unless by permission, he can do nothing. Do thou so act, that he may not be allowed to attack thee; or if he be allowed to tempt thee, he may depart vanquished, and may not gain thee. For he hath been allowed to tempt some holy men, servants of God: they overcame him, because they departed not from the way, they whose heel he watched, fell not. ...
37. He then, my brethren, who doth wish to watch the serpent's head, and safely to pass this sea; for it must be that this serpent dwelleth here, and, as I had commenced saying, the devil when he fell from heaven received this region; let him watch his head, on the part of the fear of the world, and of the lusts of the world. For it is hence that he suggesteth some object of fear or of desire; he trieth thy love, or thy fear. If thou learest hell, and lovest the kingdom of God, thou wilt watch his head. ... "There is no power but of God."(1) What then learest thou? Let the dragon be in the waters, let the dragon be in the sea: thou art to pass through it. He is made so as to be made sport of, he is ordained to inhabit this place, this region is given him. Thou thinkest that this habitation is a great thing for him, because thou knowest not the dwellings of the angels whence he fell:(2) what seemeth to thee his glory, is his damnation.
38. ... What then fearest thou? Perhaps he is about to try thy flesh: it is the scourge of thy Lord, not the power of thy tempter. His wish is to injure that salvation which is promised: but he is not allowed: but that he may not be allowed, have Christ for thy Head: repel the serpent's head: consent not unto his suggestion, slip not from thy path. "There is that Leviathan, whom Thou hast made to make sport of him."
39. Dost thou wish to see how incapable he is of hurting thee, unless permitted? "These," he saith, "wait all upon Thee, that Thou mayest give them meat in due season" (ver. 27). And this serpent wisheth to devour, but he devoureth not whom he wisheth. ... Thou hast heard what the serpent's meat is. Thou dost not wish that God give thee to be devoured by the serpent; because not the serpent's food: i.e. forsake not the Word of God. For where it is said to the serpent, "Dust thou shalt eat," it is said to the transgressor, "Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shall return."(3) Thou dost not wish to be the serpent's food? be not dust. How, thou repliest, shall I not be dust? If thou hast not a taste for earthly things. Hear the Apostle, that thou mayest not be dust. For the body which thou wearest is earth: but do thou refuse to be earth. What meaneth this? "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."(4) If thou dost not set thy affections on earthly things, thou art not earth: if thou art not earth, thou art not devoured by the serpent, whose appointed food is earth. The Lord giveth the serpent his food when He will, what He will: but He judgeth rightly, he cannot be deceived, He giveth him not gold for earth. "When Thou hast given it them, they gather it." ...
40. "When thou openest Thy hand, they shall all be filled with good" (ver. 28). What is it, O Lord, that Thou openest Thy hand? Christ is Thy hand. "To whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"(5) To whom it is revealed, unto him it is opened: for revelation is opening. "When Thou openest Thy hand, they shall all be filled with good." When Thou revealest Thy Christ, "they shall all be filled with good." But they have not good from themselves; this is oftentimes proved unto them. "When Thou hidest Thy face, they are troubled" (ver. 29). Many filled with good have attributed to themselves what they had, and have wished to boast as in their own righteousnesses, and have said to themselves, I am righteous; I am great: and have become self-complacent. Unto these the Apostle speaketh: "What hast thou, that thou didst not receive? "(6) But God, wishing to prove unto man that whatever he hath he hath from Him, so that with good he may gain humility also, sometimes troubleth him; He turneth away His face from him, and he falleth into temptation; and He showeth him that his righteousness, and his walking aright, was only under His government. ...
41. But wherefore dost Thou do this? wherefore dost Thou hide Thy face, that they may be troubled? "Thou shalt take away their breath, and they shall fail." Their breath was their pride; they boast, they attribute things to themselves, they justify themselves. Hide, therefore, Thy face, that they may be troubled: take away their breath, and let them fail; let them cry unto Thee, "Hear me, O Lord, and that soon, for my spirit waxeth faint: hide not Thy face from me."(7) "Thou shalt take away their breath, and they shall fail, and shall be turned to their dust." The man who repenteth of his sin discovereth himself, that he had not strength of himself; and doth confess unto God, saying, that he is earth and ashes. O proud one, thou art turned to thine own dust, thy breath hath been taken away; no longer dost thou boast thyself, no longer extol thyself, no longer justify thyself; thou seest that thou art made of dust, and when the Lord turneth away His face, thou hast fallen back into thine own dust. Pray, therefore, confess thy dust and thy weakness.
42. And see what followeth: "Thou shalt send forth Thy Spirit,(1) and they shall be made" (ver. 30). Thou shalt take away their spirit, and send forth Thine own: Thou shalt take away their spirit: they shall have no spirit of their own. Are they then forsaken? "Blessed are the poor in spirit:"(2) but they are not forsaken. They refused to have a spirit of their own: they shall have the Spirit of God. Such were our Lord's words to the future martyrs:(3) "It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." Attribute not your courage to yourselves. If it is yours, He saith, and not Mine, it is obstinacy, not courage. "For we are His workmanship," saith the Apostle, "created unto good works."(4) From His Spirit we have received grace, that we may live unto righteousness: for it is He that justifieth the ungodly.(5) "Thou shall take away their spirit, and they shall fail; Thou shall send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be made: and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth:" that is, with new men, confessing themselves to have been justified, not righteous of their own power, so that the grace of God is in them. What then? When He hath taken away our spirit, we shall be turned again to our dust, beholding to our edification our weakness, that when we receive His Spirit we may be refreshed. See what followeth: "Be the glory of the Lord for ever" (ver. 31). Not thine, not mine, not his, or his; not for a season, but "for ever." "The Lord shall rejoice in His works." Not in thine, as if they were thine: because if thy works are evil, it is through thy iniquity; if good, it is through the grace of God. "The Lord shall rejoice in His works."
43. "Who looketh on the earth, and maketh it tremble; who toucheth the hills, and they shall smoke" (ver. 32). O earth, thou wast exulting in thy good, to thyself thou didst ascribe thy fulness and opulence; behold, the Lord looketh on thee, and causeth thee to tremble. May He look on thee, and make thee tremble: for the trembling of humility is better than the confidence of pride. ... For it is God, he saith, which worketh in you. For this reason then with trembling, because God worketh in you. Because He gave, because what thou hast cometh not from thee, thou shall work with fear and trembling, for if thou fearest not Him, He will take away what He gave. Work, therefore, with trembling. Hear another Psalm: "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling."(6) If we must rejoice with trembling, God beholdeth us, there cometh an earthquake; when God looketh upon us, let our hearts tremble; then will God rest there. Hear Him in another passage: "Upon whom shall My Spirit rest? Even on him that is lowly and quiet, and who trembleth at My Word."(7)
"Who looketh on the earth, and maketh it tremble; who toucheth the hills, and they shall smoke" (ver. 32). The hills were proud, and boastful of themselves, God had not touched them: He toucheth them, and they shall smoke. What meaneth the smoking of the hills? That they pray unto the Lord. Behold great hills, proud hills, vast hills, prayed not to God: they wished themselves to be entreated, and entreated not Him who was above them. For what powerful, arrogant, proud man is there upon the earth, who deigneth humbly to entreat God? I speak of the ungodly, not of the "cedars of Libanus, which the Lord hath planted." Every ungodly man, unhappy soul, knoweth not how to entreat God, while he wisheth himself to be entreated by men. He is a hill; it is needful that God touch him, that he may smoke: when he hath begun to smoke, he will offer prayers unto God, as it were the sacrifice of his heart. He smoketh unto God, he then beateth his breast: he beginneth to weep, for smoke doth elicit tears.
44. "I will sing unto the Lord in my life" (ver. 33). What will sing? Everything that is willing. Let us sing unto the Lord in our life. Our life at present is only hope; our life will be eternity hereafter: the life of mortal life, is the hope of an everlasting life. "I will praise my God while I have my being." Since I am in Him for ever and ever, while I have my being, I will praise my God. Let us not imagine that, when we have commenced praising God in that state, we shall have any other work: our whole life will be for the praises of God. If we become weary of Him whom we praise, we may also become weary of praising. If He is ever loved, He is ever praised by us.
45. "Let my discourse be pleasing to Him: my joy shall be in the Lord" (ver. 34). What is the discourse of man unto God, save the confession of sins? Confess unto God what thou art, and thou hast discoursed with Him. Discourse unto Him, do good works, and discourse. "Wash you, make you clean," saith Isaiah.(8) What is it to discourse unto God? Unfold thyself to him who knoweth thee, that He may unfold Himself to thee who knowest not Him. Behold, it is thy discourse that pleaseth the Lord; the offering of thy humility, the tribulation of thy heart, the holocaust of thy life, this pleaseth God. But what is pleasing to thyself? "My joy shall be in the Lord." This is that discoursing which I meant between God and thyself: show thyself to Him who knoweth thee, and He showeth Himself unto thee who knowest not him. Pleasing unto Him is thy confession: sweet unto thee is His grace. He hath Spoken Himself unto thee. How? By the Word. What Word? Christ. ...
46. "Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth" (ver. 35). He seemeth angry! O holy soul, which here doth sing and groan! Would that our soul were with that very soul! Would that it were coupled with it, associated, conjoined with it! It shall behold also His loving-kindness when he is angry. For who but he who is filled with charity, understandeth this? Thou tremblest, because he curseth. And who doth curse? A saint. Without doubt he is listened to. But it is said unto the saints," Bless, and curse not."(1) What is then the sense of the words, "Let the sinners be consumed out of the earth"? Let them utterly be consumed; let their spirit be taken away, that He may send forth His own Spirit, and they may be restored. "And the ungodly, so that they be no more." In what that they be no more, save as wicked men? Let them therefore be justified, that they may no longer be ungodly. The Psalmist saw this, and was filled with joy, and repeateth the first verse of the Psalm: "Bless thou the Lord, O my soul." Let our soul bless the Lord, brethren, since He hath deigned to give unto us both understanding and the power of language, and unto you attention and earnestness in hearing. Let each, as he can recall to mind what he hath heard, by mutual conversation stir up the food ye have received, ruminate on what ye have heard, let it not descend in you into the bowels of forgetfulness. Let the treasure to be desired(2) rest upon your lips. These matters have been sought out and discovered with great labour, with great labour have they been announced and discoursed of; may our toil be fruitful unto you, and may our soul bless the Lord.
PSALM CV. (3)
1. This Psalm is the first of those to which is prefixed the word Allelujah; the meaning of which word, or rather two words, is, Praise the Lord. For this reason he beginneth with praises: "O confess unto the Lord, and call upon His Name" (ver. 1); for this confession is to be understood as praise, just as these words of our Lord, "I confess to Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth."(4) For after commencing with praise, calling upon God is wont to follow, whereunto he that prayeth doth next add s his longings: whence the Lord's Prayer itself hath at the commencement a very brief praise, in these words," Our Father which art in Heaven."(6) The things prayed for, then follow. ... This also followeth, "Tell the people what things He hath done;"(7) or rather, to translate literally from the Greek, as other Latin copies too have it, "Preach the Gospel of His works among the Gentiles." Unto whom is this addressed, save unto the Evangelists in prophecy?
2. "O sing unto Him, and play on instruments unto Him" (ver. 2). Praise Him both by word and deed; for we sing with the voice, while we play with an instrument, that is, with our hands. "Let your talking be of all His wondrous works. Be ye praise in His holy Name" (ver. 3). These two verses may without any absurdity seem paraphrases of the two words above; so that, "Let your talking be of all His wondrous works," may express the words, "O sing unto Him;" and what followeth, "be ye praised in His holy Name," may be referred to the words, "and play on instruments unto Him;" the former relating to the "good word" wherewith we sing unto Him, in which His wondrous works are told; the latter to the good work, in which sweet music is played unto Him, so that no man may wish to be praised for a good work on the score of his own power to do it. For this reason, after saying, "be ye praised," which assuredly they who work well deservedly may, he added, "in His holy Name," since "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord."(8) ... This is to be praised in His holy Name. Whence we read also in another Psalm: "My soul shall be praised in the Lord: let the meek hear thereof, and be glad; which here in a sense followeth, "Let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord:" for thus the meek are glad, who do not rival with a bitter jealousy those whom they imitate as already workers of good.
3. "Seek the Lord, and be strengthened"(10) (ver. 4). This is very literally construed from the Greek, though it may seem not a Latin word: whence other copies have, "be ye confirmed;" others, "be ye corroborated." ... While these words, then, "Come unto Him, and be enlightened,"(11) apply to seeing; those in the text relate to doing: "Seek the Lord, and be strengthened." ... But what meaneth, "Seek His face evermore"? I know indeed that to cling unto God is good for me;(12) but if He is always being sought, when is He found? Did he mean by "evermore," the whole of the life we live here, whence we become conscious that we ought thus to seek, since even when found He is still to be sought? To wit, faith hath already found Him, but hope still seeketh Him. But love hath both found Him through faith, and seeketh to have Him by sight, where He will then be found so as to satisfy us, and no longer to need our search. For unless faith discovered Him in this life, it would not be said, "Seek the Lord." Also, if when discovered by faith, He were not still to be diligently sought, it would not be said, "For if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it."(1) ... And truly this is the sense of the words, "Seek His face evermore;" meaning that discovery should not terminate that seeking, by which love is testified, but with the increase of love the seeking of the discovered One should increase.
4. "Remember," he saith, "His marvellous works that He hath done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth" (ver. 5). This passage seemeth like that, "Thou shall say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you:" an expression which, in ever so small part, scarce a mind(2) taketh in. Then mentioning His own Name, He mercifully mingled in His grace towards men, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; this is My Name for ever."(3) By which He would have it to be understood, that they whose God He declared Himself lived with Him for ever, and He said this, which might be understood even by children, that they who by the great powers of love knew how to seek His face for evermore, might according to their capacity comprehend, I AM THAT I AM.
5. Unto whom is it said, "O ye seed of Abraham His servant, ye children of Jacob, His chosen"? (ver. 6). ... He next addeth, "He is the Lord our God: His judgments are in all the world" (yet. 7). Is He the God of the Jews only?(4) God forbid! "He is the Lord our God:" because the Church, where His judgments are preached, is in all the world. ...
6. "He hath been alway mindful of His covenant" (ver. 8). Other copies read, "for evermore;" and this arises from the ambiguity of the Greek. But if we are to understand" alway" of this world and not of eternity, why, when he explaineth what covenant He was mindful of, doth he add, "The word that He made to a thousand generations"? Now this may be understood with a certain limitation; but he afterwards saith, "Even the covenant that He made with Abraham" (ver. 9): "and the oath that He sware unto Isaac; and appointed the same unto Jacob lot a law, anti to Israel for an everlasting,(5) testament" (ver. 10). But if in this passage the Old Testament is to be understood, on account of the land of Canaan; for thus the language of the Psalm runneth, "saying, Unto thee will I give the land of Canaan: the lot of your inheritance" (ver. 11): how is it to be understood as everlasting, since that earthly inheritance could not be everlasting? And for this reason it is called the Old Testament, because it is abolished by the New. But a thousand generations do not seem to signify anything eternal, since they involve an end; and yet are also too numerous for this very temporal state. For by howsoever few years a generation is limited, such as in Greek is called gene'a whereof the shortest period some have fixed is at fifteen years, after which period man hath the power of generation; what then are those "thousand generations," not only from the time of Abraham, when that promise was made him, unto the New Testament, but from Adam himself down to the end of the world? For who would dare to say that this world should last for 15000 years? Hence it seemeth to me that we ought not to understand here the Old Testament, which at said through the prophet was to be cancelled by the New: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant."(6) ... After saying, "He hath been mindful of His covenant unto an age;" which we ought to understand as lasting for evermore, the covenant, namely, of justification and an eternal inheritance, which God hath promised to faith; he addeth, "and the Word that He commanded(7) unto a thousand generations." What meaneth "commanded"? ... The command then was faith, that the righteous should live by faith;(8) and an eternal inheritance is set before this faith. "A thousand generations," then, are, on account of the perfect number, to be understood for all; that is, as long as generation succeedeth generation, so long is it commanded to us to live by faith. This the people of God doth observe, the sons of promise who succeed by birth, and depart by death, until every generation be finished; and this is signified by the number thousand; because the solid square of the number ten, ten times ten, and this taken ten times amounts to a thousand. "Even the covenant," he saith, "which He made with Abraham: and the oath that He sware unto Isaac; and appointed the same unto Jacob," that is, Jacob himself, "for a law." These are the very three patriarchs, whose God He calleth Himself in a special sense, whom the Lord also doth name in the New Testament, where He saith, "Many shall come from the east and the west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven."(1) This is everlasting inheritance. ...
7. He next followeth out the history well known in the truth of the holy Scriptures. "When they were in small numbers, very few, and they strangers in the land" (vet. 12); that is, in the land of Canaan. ... But some copies have the words "very few, and they strangers," in the accusative case,(2) the translator having turned the Greek phrase too literally into Latin. If we were to render the whole clause in this way, we must say, "that they were very few, and they strangers;" but the phrase, "while they were," is the meaning of the Greek; and the verb, "to be," takes not an accusative, but a nominative after it.(3)
8. "What time as they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people" (ver. 13). This is a repetition of what he had said, "from one nation to another." "He suffered no man to do them harm: but reproved even kings for their sakes" (ver. 14). "Touch not," He said, "Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm" (ver. 15). He declareth the words of God chiding or reproving kings, that they might not harm the holy fathers, while they were small in number, very few, and they strangers in the land of Canaan. Although these words be not read in the books of that history, yet they are to be understood as either secretly spoken, as God speaketh in the hearts of men by unseen and true visions, or even as announced through an Angel. For both the king of Gerar and the king of the Egyptians were warned from Heaven not to harm Abraham? and another king not to harm Isaac,(5) and others not to harm Jacob;(6) while they were very few, and strangers, before he went over into Egypt to sojourn with his sons: which is understood to be herein mentioned. But since it occurred to ask, before they passed over and multiplied in Egypt, how so few in number, and those strangers in a foreign land, could maintain themselves: he next addeth, "He suffered no man to do them wrong," etc.
9. But it may well excite a question, in what sense they were styled (Christs, or) anointed, before there was any unction, from which this title was given to the kings? ... Whence then were those patriarchs at that tithe called "anointed"? For that they were prophets, we read concerning Abraham; and certainly, what is manifestly said of him, should be understood of them also. Are they styled "christs," because, even though secretly, yet they were already Christians? For although the flesh of Christ came from them, nevertheless Christ came before them; for He thus answered the Jews, "Before Abraham was, I am."(8) But how could they not know Him, or not believe in Him; since they are called prophets for this very reason, because, though somewhat darkly, they announced the Lord beforehand? Whence He saith Himself openly, "Your father Abraham desired to see My day, and he saw it, and was glad."(9) For no man was ever reconciled unto God outside of that faith which is in Christ Jesus, either before His Incarnation, or after: as it is most truly defined by the Apostle: "For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus."(10)
10. He then beginneth to relate how it happened that they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people. "He calleth," he saith, "for a famine upon the land: and brake all the staff of bread" (ver. 16). Thus it happened that they went from one nation to another, from one kingdom to another people. But the expressions of the holy Scriptures are not to be negligently passed by. "He called," he saith, "for a famine upon the land;" as if famine were some person, or some animated body, or some spirit that would obey Him who called. ... Under this impression the old Romans consecrated some such deities, as the goddess Fever, and the god Paleness. Or meaneth it, as is more credible, He said there should be famine; so that calling be the same thing as mentioning by name; mentioning by name, as speaking; speaking, as commanding? Nor doth the Apostle say,(11) "He calleth those things which be not, that they may be;" but, "as though they were." For with God that hath already happened which, according to His disposition, is fixed for the future: for of Him it is elsewhere said, "He who made things to come."(12) And here when famine happened, then it is said to have been called, that is, that that which had been determined in His secret government, might be realized. Lastly, he at once expounds, how He called for the famine, saying, "He brake all the staff of bread."
11. "But He had sent a man before them" (ver. 17). What man? "Even Joseph." How did He send him? "Joseph was sold to be a bond-servant." When this happened, it was the sin of his brethren, and, nevertheless, God sent Joseph into Egypt. We should therefore meditate on this important and necessary subject, how God useth well the evil works of men, as they on the other hand use ill the good works of God.
12. Next he doth relate the story, mentioning what Joseph suffered in his low estate, and how he was raised on high. "His feet they hurt in the stocks: the iron entered into his soul, until his word came" (ver. 18). That Joseph was put in irons, we do not indeed read; but we ought no ways to doubt that it was so. For some things might be passed over in that history, which nevertheless would not escape the Holy Spirit, who speaketh in these Psalms. We understand by the iron which entered into his soul, the tribulation of stern necessity; for he did not say body, but "soul." There is a somewhat similar expression in the Gospel, where Simeon saith unto Mary, "A sword shall pierce through thy own soul also."(1) That is, the Passion of the Lord, which was a fall unto many, and in which the secrets of many hearts were revealed, since their sentiments respecting the Lord were extorted from them, without doubt made His own Mother exceeding sorrowful, heavily struck with human bereavement. Now Joseph was in this tribulation, "until his word came," with which he truly interpreted dreams: whence he was introduced to the king, that unto him also he might foretell what would happen in respect to his dreams.(2) But since he said, "Until his words were heard," that we might not altogether so understand "his," that any one might think so great an event was to be ascribed unto man; he at once added, "The word of the Lord inflamed him" (ver. 19); or, as other copies have it more closely from the Greek, "The word of the Lord fired him," that he also might be reputed amongst those to whom it is said, "Receive ye praise in His holy Name."(3)
13. "The king sent and loosed him, the prince of the peoples, and let him go free" (ver. 20). The "king" is the same as "the prince of the peoples:" he "loosed" him from his bonds "and let him go free" from his prison. "He made him lord also of his house: and ruler of all his substance" (ver. 21). "That he might inform his princes like unto himself, and teach his old men wisdom" (ver. 22). The Greek hath, "and teach his elders wisdom." Which might altogether be rendered to the letter thus; "Might inform his princes like unto himself, and make his eiders wise." The word translated old men being presbyters or elders, not gerontas, old men: and to teach wisdom being from the Greek to sophize, which cannot be rendered by a single word in Latin, and is from the word sophia, wisdom, different from prudence, which is in Greek phronesis. Yet we do not read this in the high elevation of Joseph, as we read not of fetters in his low estate. But how could it happen that so great a man, the worshipper of the One True God, whilst in Egypt, should have been intent upon the nourishing of bodies, and the government of carnal matters only, and have felt no anxiety for souls, and how he could render them better? But those things are written in that history, which, according to the intention of the writer, in whom was the Holy Spirit, were judged sufficient for signifying future events in that narration.
14. "Joseph also came into Egypt, and Jacob was a stranger in the land of Ham" (ver. 23). Israel is the same with Jacob, as is Egypt with the land of Ham. Here it is very plainly shown, that the Egyptian race sprang from the seed of Chain, the son of Noah, whose first-born was Canaan. So that in those copies wherein in this passage Canaan is read, we must alter the reading. It is better construed, "was a stranger," than "dwelt," as other copies have it: which would be the same as "was an inhabitant," for it meaneth nothing different; the very same word is used in the Greek passage above, where it is said, "Very few, and they strangers in the land." Moreover, the state of an incola or accola doth not signify a native, but a stranger. Behold how "they went from one nation to another." What had been briefly proposed, hath been briefly explained in the narration. But from what kingdom they passed over to another people may well be asked. For they were not yet reigning in the land of Canaan, because the kingdom of the people of Israel had not yet been established there. How then can it be understood, except by anticipation, because the kingdom of their seed was destined there to exist?
15. Next is related what happened in Egypt. "And He increased," he saith, "His people exceedingly, and made them stronger than their enemies" (ver. 24). Even the whole of this is briefly set forth, in order that the manner in which it took place may be afterwards related. For the people of God was not made stronger than their enemies the Egyptians, at the time when their male offspring were slain, or when they were worn out with making bricks; but when by His powerful hand, by the signs and portents of the Lord their God, they became objects of fear and of honour, until the opposition of the hardened king was overcome, and the Red Sea overwhelmed the persecutor with his army.
16. "And He turned their heart so, that they hated His people, and dealt untruly with His servants" (ver. 25). Is it to be in any wise understood or believed, that God turneth man's heart to do sin? ... For they were not good before they hated His people; but being malignant and ungodly, they were such as would readily envy their prosperous sojourners. And so, in that He multiplied His own people, this bountiful act turned the wicked to envy. For envy is the hatred of another's prosperity. In this sense, therefore, He turned their heart, so that through envy they hated His people, and dealt untruly with His servants. It was not then by making their hearts evil, but by doing good to His people, that He turned their hearts, that were evil of their own accord, to hatred. For He did not pervert a righteous heart, but turned one perverted of its own accord to the hatred of His people, while He was to make a good use of that evil;(1) not by making them evil, but by lavishing blessings upon those, which the wicked might most readily envy.
17. The following verses, which are sung in praise of Him when Allelujah is chanted, show how He used this hatred of theirs, both for the trial of His own people, and for the glory of His Name, which is profitable for us. "He sent Moses His servant, and Aaron whom He had chosen him" (vet. 26). "Whom He had chosen," would be sufficient; but there is no difficulty in the addition of "him." It is a phrase of Scripture, as, "The land in which they shall dwell in it:"(2) a phrase which the divine pages are full of.
18. "He set forth in them the words of His tokens, and of His wonders in the land of Ham" (ver. 27). We ought not to understand by "the words of His tokens," words literally, words with which the tokens and wonders were worked, that is, which they uttered, that these tokens and wonders might take place. For many were performed without words, either with a rod, or with outstretched hand, or by ashes sent towards heaven. ...
19. "He sent darkness, and made it dark" (ver. 28). This is also written among the plagues with which the Egyptians were smitten. But what followeth, is variously read in different copies. For some have, "and they provoked His words;" while others read, "and they provoked not His words;" but the reading first mentioned we have found in most; while, where the negative particle is added, we could hardly discover two copies. But perhaps the false reading has abounded owing to the easy sense; for what is easier understood than this, "They provoked His words," that is, by their contumacious rebellions? We have endeavoured to explain the other reading also according to some true sense: and this for the present occurs "They provoked not His words," that is, in Moses and Aaron; because they most patiently bore with a very stiffnecked people, until all things which God had determined to work by them, were fulfilled in order.
20. "He turned their waters into blood, and slew their fish" (vet. 29). "He made their land frogs, yea, even in the king's chambers" (ver. 30): as if he were to say, He turned their land into frogs. For there was so great a multitude of frogs, that this might well be said by hyperbole.
21. "He spake the word, and there came all manner of flies, and lice in all their quarters" (vet. 31). If it be asked when He spake, it was in His Word before it took place; and there it was, without time, at what time it should take place: although even then He commanded it to be done, when it was to be done, through Angels, and through his servants Moses and Aaron.
22. "He made their rains hail" (ver. 32). It is a similar expression to the former, "He made their land frogs;" except that the whole land was not actually turned into frogs, though the whole of the rain may have been turned into hail. "A burning fire in their land:" understand, "He sent."
23. "He smote their vines also and fig-trees.; and brake every tree of their coasts" (ver. 33). This was done by the violence of the hail, and by lightnings; whence he spoke of the fire as "burning."
24. "He spake the word, and the locust came, and the caterpillar, of which there was no number" (ver. 34). The locusts and the caterpillars are one plague: of which the one is the parent, the other the offspring.
25. "And did eat up all the grass in their land, and devoured the fruit of the ground" (ver. 35). Even grass is fruit, as Scripture is wont to speak, which calleth even the ripe corn grass; but it wished these two things to harmonize in number with the two which it had spoken of before, that is, the locust and the caterpillar. But the whole of this doth belong to the variety of speech, which is a remedy for weariness, not to any difference of senses.
26. "He smote every first-born in their land: even the first-fruits of all their strength" (vet. 36). This is the last plague, excepting the death in the Red Sea. "The first-fruits of all their strength," I imagine to be an expression derived from the first-born of cattle. These plagues are ten in number, but they are not all mentioned, nor in the same order in which they are there read to have happened. For praise-giving is free from the law which bindeth one who is relating or composing a history. And since the Holy Spirit is the Author and Dictator, through the Prophet, of this praise; by the very same authority with which He guided him who wrote that history, he doth both mention something to have taken place which is not there read, and passeth over what is there read. 27. Now he addeth this also to the praises of God, that He led the Israelites out of Egypt enriched with silver and gold; because even they were then in such a condition, that they could not as yet despise the just and due, though temporal, reward of their toils. ... "He brought them forth also in silver and gold" (ver. 37): this too is a Scripture idiom; for "in silver and gold" is said for the same as if it had been said "with silver and gold: there was not one feeble person among their tribes:" in body, not in mind. This also was a great blessing of God, that in this necessity of removal there was no infirm person.
28. "Egypt was glad at their departing: for their fear fell upon them" (ver. 38); that is, the fear of the Hebrews upon the Egyptians. For "their fear" is not that with which the Hebrews feared, but that with which they were feared. Some one will say, how then were the Egyptians unwilling to dismiss them? why did they let them go as if they expected them to return? why did they lend them gold and silver, as to men who were to return, and to repay them, if" Egypt was glad at their departing"? But we must understand, after that final destruction of the Egyptians, and the terrible overthrow of the mighty pursuing army in the Red Sea, that the rest of the Egyptians feared lest the Hebrews should return, and with great ease crush the relics of them: illustrating what he had stated, that He made His people stronger than their enemies.
29. He now proceedeth to the divine blessings which were conferred upon them as they wandered in the desert. "He spread out a cloud to be their covering: and fire to give them light in the night season" (ver. 39). This is as clear as it is well known.
30. "They asked, and the quail came" (ver. 40). They did not desire quails, but flesh. But since the quail is flesh, and in this Psalm he speaketh not of the provocation of those who did not please God, but of the faith of the elect, the true seed of Abraham; they are to be understood to have desired that that might come which might crush the murmurs of those who provoked. Then in the next line, "And He filled them with the bread of heaven," he has not indeed named manna, but it is obscure to none who hath read those records.
31. "He opened the rock of stone, and the waters flowed out: so that rivers ran in the dry places" (ver. 41). This fact too is understood as soon as read.
32. But in all these blessings of His, God doth commend in Abraham the merit of faith. For the Psalmist goeth on to say, "For why? He remembered His holy promise, which He made to Abraham His servant" (ver. 42). "And He brought forth His people with joy, and His chosen with gladness" (ver. 43). What he said, "His people," he has repeated in, "His chosen." So also what he said, "with joy," he has repeated in, "with gladness." "And gave them the lands of the heathen: and they took the labours of the people in possession" (ver. 44). "The lands of the heathen," and "the labours of the people," are the same; and the words, "He gave," are repeated in these, "they took in possession."
33. ... "That they may keep His statutes, and seek out His law" (ver. 45). Lastly, since by the seed of Abraham he wished those to be understood here, who were truly the seed of Abraham, such as were not wanting even in that people; as the Apostle Paul clearly showeth, when he saith, "But not in all of them was God well pleased;"(1) for if He was not pleased with all, surely there were some in whom He was well pleased: since then this Psalm praiseth such men as this, he hath said nothing here of the iniquities and provocations and bitterness of those with whom God was not well pleased. But since not only the justice but also the mercy of Almighty God, the merciful, was shown even unto the wicked; concerning these attributes the rest of the Psalm pursueth the praises of God. And yet both sorts were in one people: nor did the latter pollute the good with the contagion of their iniquities. For "the Lord knoweth who are His;"(2) and if he cannot separate in this world from wicked men, yet, "let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." ...
1. This Psalm also hath the title Allelujah prefixed to it: and this twice. But some say, that one Allelujah belongeth to the end of the former Psalm, the other to the beginning of this. And they assert, that all the Psalms bearing this title have Allelujah at the end, but not all at the beginning; so that they will not allow any Psalm which hath not Allelujah at the end, to have it at the beginning; supposing that what seemeth to belong to the commencement, really belongeth to the end of the former Psalm. But until they persuade us by some sure proofs that this is true, we will follow the general custom, which, whenever it findeth Allelujah, attributes it to the same Psalm, at the head of which it is found. For there are very few copies (and I have found this in none of the Greek copies, which I have been able to inspect) which have Allelujah at the end of the CLth Psalm; after which there is no other which belongeth to the same canon. But not even this could outweigh custom, although all the copies had it so. For it might be that, with some reference to the praise of God, the whole book of Psalms, which is said to consist of five books (for they say that the books severally end where it is written Amen, Amen), might be closed with this last Allelujah, after all that hath been sung; nor, on account of the end of the CLth Psalm, do I see that it is necessary that all the Psalms entitled Allelujah, should have Allelujah at the end. But when there is a double Allelujah at the head of a Psalm, why as our Lord sometimes once, sometimes twice over, saith Amen, in the same way Allelujah may not sometimes be used once, sometimes twice, I know not: especially, since as in this CVth, both the Allelujahs are placed after the mark by which the number of the Psalm is described, whereas the one, if it belonged to the end of the former Psalm, ought to have been placed before the number; and the Allelujah which belonged to the Psalm of this number, should have been written after the number. But per-halls even in this an ignorant habit hath prevailed, and some reason may be assigned of which we are as yet uninformed, so that the judgment of truth ought rather to be our guide than the prejudice of custom. In the mean time, before we are fully instructed in this matter, whenever we find Allelujah written, whether once or twice, after the number of the Psalm, according to the most usual custom of the Church, we will ascribe it to that Psalm to which the same number is prefixed; confessing that we both believe the mysteries of all the titles in the Psalms, and of the order of the same Psalms, to be important, and that we have not yet been able, as we wish to penetrate them.
2. But I find these two Psalms, the CVth and CVIth so connected, that in one of them, the first, the people of God is praised in the person of the elect, of whom there is no complaint, whom I imagine to have been there in those with whom God was well pleased;(1) but in the following Psalm those are mentioned among the same people who have provoked God; though the mercy of God was not wanting even to these. . . . This Psalm therefore beginneth like the former; "Confess ye unto the Lord?" But in that Psalm these words follow: "And call upon His Name:" whereas here, it is as follows "For He is gracious? and His mercy endureth for ever" (ver. 1). Wherefore in this passage a confession of sins may be understood; for after a few verses we read, "We have sinned with our fathers, we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly;" but in the words, "For He is gracious, and His mercy endureth for ever," there is chiefly the praise of God, and in His praise confession. Although when any one confesses his sins, he ought to do so with praise of God; nor is a confession of sins a pious one, unless it be without despair, and with calling upon the mercy of God. It therefore doth contain His praise, whether in words, when it calleth Him gracious and merciful, or in the feeling only, when he believeth this. . . . If that mercy be here understood, in respect of which no man can be happy without God; we may render it better, "for ever:" but if it be that mercy which is shown to the wretched, that they may either be consoled in misery, or even freed from it; it is better construed, "to the end of the world," in which there will never be wanting wretched persons to whom that mercy may be shown. Unless indeed any man ventured to say, that some mercy of God will not be wanting even to those who shall be condemned with the devil and his angels; not a mercy by which they may be freed from that condemnation, but that it may be in some degree softened for them: and that thus the mercy of God may be styled eternal, as exercised over their eternal misery.(3) . . .
3. "Who can express the mighty acts of the Lord?" (ver. 2). Full of the consideration of the Divine works, while he entreateth His mercy, "Who," he saith, "can express the mighty acts of the Lord, or make all His praises heard?" We must supply what was said above, to make the sense complete here, thus, "Who shall make all His praises heard?" that is, who is sufficient to make all His praises heard? "Shall make" then "heard," he saith; that is, cause that they be heard; showing, that the mighty acts of the Lord and His praises are so to be spoken of, that they may be preached to those who hear them. But who can make "all," heard? Is it that as the next words are, "Blessed are they that alway keep judgment, and do righteousness in every time" (ver. 3); he perhaps meant those praises of His, which are understood as His works in His commandments? "For it is God," saith the Apostle, "who worketh in you,"(4) ... since He worketh in these things in a manner that cannot be spoken. "Who will do all His praises heard?" that is, who, when he hath heard them, doth all His praises? which are the works of His commandments. As far as they are done, although all which are heard are not performed, He is to be praised, who "worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure."(4) For this reason, while he might have said, all His commandments, or, all the works of His commandments; he preferred saying, "His praises." ...
4. But unless there were some difference between judgment and righteousness, we should not read in another Psalm, "Until righteousness turn again unto judgment."(1) The Scripture, indeed, loveth to place these two words together; as, "Righteousness and judgment are the habitation of His seat;"(2) and this, "He shall make thy righteousness as clear as the light, and thy judgment as the noon-day;"(3) where there is apparently a repetition of the same sentiment. And perhaps on account of the resemblance of signification one may be put for the other, either judgment for righteousness, or righteousness for judgment: yet, if they be spoken of in their proper sense, I doubt not that there is some difference; viz. that he is said to keep judgment who judgeth rightly, but he to do righteousness who acts righteously. And I think that the verse, "Until righteousness turn again unto judgment" may not absurdly be understood in this sense: that here also those are called blessed, who keep judgment in faith, and do righteousness in deed....
5. Next, since God justifieth, that is, maketh men righteous, by healing them from their iniquities, a prayer followeth: "Remember me, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people" (ver. 4): that is, that we may be among those with whom Thou art well pleased; since God is not well pleased with them all. "0 visit me with Thy salvation." This is the Saviour Himself, in whom sins are forgiven, and souls healed, that they may be able to keep judgment, and do righteousness; and since they who here speak know such men to be blessed, they pray for this themselves.... "Visit us," then, "with Thy salvation," that is, with Thy Christ. "To see the felicity of Thy chosen, and to rejoice in the gladness of Thy people" (ver. 5): that is, visit us for this reason with Thy salvation, that we may see the felicity of Thy chosen, and rejoice in the gladness of Thy people. For "felicity"(4) some copies read "sweetness;" as in the former passage, "For He is gracious;" where others read, "for He is sweet." And it is the same word in the Greek, as is elsewhere read, "The Lord shall show sweetness:"(5) which some have translated "felicity," others "bounty." But what meaneth, "Visit us to see the felicity of Thy chosen:" that is, that happiness which Thou givest to Thine elect: except that we may not remain blind, as those unto whom it is said, "But now ye say we see: therefore your sin remaineth."(6) For the Lord giveth sight to the blind,(7) not by their own merits, but in the felicity He giveth to His chosen, which is the meaning of "the felicity of Thy chosen:" as, the help of my countenance, is not of myself, but is my God.(8) And we speak of our daily bread, as ours, but we add, Give unto us.(9) ... "That Thou mayest be praised with Thine inheritance." I wonder this verse hath been so interpreted in many copies, since the Greek phrase is one and the same in these three verses.... But since this seemeth a doubtful expression, if that sense be true according to which interpreters have preferred, "That Thou mayest be praised," the two preceding verses also must be so understood, because, as I have said, there is one Greek expression in these three verses; so that the whole should be thus understood, "Visit us with Thy salvation, that Thou mayest see the felicity of Thy chosen;" that is, visit us for this purpose, that Thou mayest cause us to be there, and mayest see us there; that "Thou mayest rejoice in the gladness of Thy people," that is, that Thou mayest be said to rejoice, since they rejoice in Thee; that "Thou mayest be praised with Thine inheritance," that is, mayest be praised with it, since it may not be praised save for Thy sake....
6. But let us hear what they next confess: "we have sinned with our fathers: we have done amiss, and dealt wickedly" (ver. 6). What meaneth "with our fathers"? ... "Our fathers," he saith, "regarded not Thy wonders in Egypt" (ver. 7); and many other things also, he doth relate of their sins. Or is, "we have sinned with our fathers," to be understood as meaning, we have sinned like our fathers, that is, by imitating their sins? If it be so, it should be supported by some example of this mode of expression: which did not occur to me when I sought on this occasion an instance of any one saying that he had sinned, or done anything, with another, whom he had imitated by a similar act after a long interval of time. What meaneth then, "Our fathers understood not Thy wonders;" save this, they did not know what Thou didst wish to convince them of by these miracles? What indeed, save life eternal, (10) and a good, not temporal, but immutable, which is waited for only through endurance? For this reason they impatiently murmured, and provoked, and they asked to be blessed with present and fugitive blessings, "Neither were they mindful of the greatness of Thy mercy." He reproveth both their understanding and memory. Understanding there was need of, that they might meditate unto what eternal blessings God was calling them through these temporal ones; and of memory, that at least they might not forget the temporal wonders which had been wrought, and might faithfully believe, that by the same power which they had already experienced, God would free them from the persecutions of their enemies; whereas they forgot the aid which He had given them in Egypt, by means of such wonders, to crush their enemies. "And they provoked, as they went up to the sea, even to the Red Sea."(1) We ought especially to notice how the Scripture doth censure the not understanding that which ought to have been understood, and the not remembering that which ought to have been remembered; which men are unwilling to have ascribed to their own fault, for no other reason than that they may pray less, and be less humble unto God, in whose sight they should confess what they are, and might by praying for His aid, become what they are not. For it is better to accuse even the sins of ignorance and negligence, that they may be done away with, than to excuse them, so that they remain; and it is better to clear them off by calling upon God, than to clench them by provoking Him.
He addeth, that God acted not according to their unbelief. "Nevertheless," he saith, "He saved them for His Name's sake: that He might make His power to be known" (ver. 8): not on account of any deservings of their own.
7. "He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up" (ver. 9). We do not read that any voice was sent forth from Heaven to rebuke the sea; but he bath called the Divine Power by which this was effected, a rebuke: unless indeed any one may choose to say, that the sea was secretly rebuked, so that the waters might hear, and yet men could not. The power by which God acteth is very abstruse and mysterious, a power which He causeth that even things devoid of sense instantly obey at His will. "So He led them through the deeps, as through a wilderness." He calleth a multitude of waters the deeps. For some wishing to give the sense of this whole verse, have translated, "So He led them forth amid many waters." What then doth "through the deeps, as through a wilderness," mean, except that that had become as a wilderness from its dryness, where before had been the watery deeps?
8. "And He saved them from the hating ones"(2) (ver. 10). Some translators, in order to avoid an expression unusual in Latin, have rendered the word, by a circumlocution, "And He saved them from the hand of those that hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy." What price was given in this redemption? Is it a prophecy, since this deed was a figure of Baptism, wherein we are redeemed from the hand of the devil at a great price, which price is the Blood of Christ? whence this is more consistently figured forth, not by any sea indiscriminately, but by the Red Sea; since blood hath a red colour.
9. "As for those that troubled them, the waters overwhelmed them: there was not one of them left" (ver. 11); not of all the Egyptians, but of those who pursued the departing Israelites, desirous either of taking or of killing them.
10. "Then believed they in His words" (ver. 12). The expression seemeth barely Latin, for he saith not "believed His word,"(3) or "on His words,"(4) but "in His words;"(5) yet it is very frequent in Scripture. "And praised praise unto Him;" such an expression as when we say, "This servitude he served," "such a life he lived." He is here alluding to that well-known hymn, commencing, "I will sing unto the Lord, for He hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and the rider hath He thrown into the sea."(6)
11. "They acted hastily: they forgot His works" (ver. 13): other copies read more intelligibly, "They hastened, they forgot His works, and would not abide His counsel." For they ought to have thought, that so great works of God towards themselves were not without a purpose, but that they invited them to some endless happiness, which was to be waited for with patience; but they hastened to make themselves happy with temporal things, which give no man true happiness, because they do not quench insatiable longing: for "whosoever," saith our Lord, "shall drink of this water, shall thirst again."(7)
12. Lastly, "And they lusted a lust in the wilderness, and they tempted God in the dry land" (ver. 14). The "dry land," or land without water, and "desert," are the same: so also are, "they lusted a lust," and, "they tempted God." The form of speech is the same as above, "they praised a praise."(8)
13. "And He gave them their desire, and sent fulness withal into their souls" (ver. 15). But He did not thus render them happy: for it was not that fulness of which it is said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled."(9) In this passage he doth not speak of the rational soul, but of the soul as giving animal life to the body; to the substance of which belong meat and drink, according to what is said in the Gospel, "Is not the soul more than meat, and the body than raiment?"(1) as if it belonged to the soul to eat, to the body to be clothed.
14. "And they angered Moses in the tents, and Aaron the saint of the Lord" (ver. 16). What angering, or, as some have more literally rendered it, what provocation,(2) he speaketh of, the following words sufficiently show.
15. "The earth opened," he saith, "and swallowed up Dathan, and covered over the congregation of Abiram" (ver. 17): "swallowed up" answereth to "covered over." Both Dathan and Abiram were equally concerned in a most sacrilegious schism.(3)
16. "And the fire was kindled in their company; the flame burnt up the sinners" (ver. 18). This word is not in Scripture usually applied to those, who, although they live righteously, and in a praiseworthy manner, are not without sin. Rather, as there is a difference between those who scorn and scorners, between men who murmur and murmurers, between men who are writing and writers, and so forth; so Scripture is wont to signify by sinners such as are very wicked, and laden with heavy loads of sins.
17. "And they made a calf in Horeb, and worshipped the graven image" (ver. 19). "Thus they changed their glory, in the similitude of a calf that eateth hay" (ver. 20). He saith not "into" the likeness, but "in" the likeness. It is such a form of speech as where he said "and they believed in His words."(4) With great effect in truth he saith not, they changed the glory of God when they did this; as the Apostle also saith, "They changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man:" (5) but "their glory." For God was their glory, if they would abide His counsel, and hasten not....
18. "They forgat God who saved them" (ver. 21). How did He save them? "Who did so great things in Egypt: Wondrous works in the land of Ham, and fearful things in the Red Sea" (ver. 22). The things that are wondrous, are also fearful; for there is no wonder without a certain fear: although these might be called fearful, because they beat down their adversaries, and showed them what they ought to fear.
19. "So He said, He would have destroyed them" (ver. 23). Since they forgot Him who saved them, the Worker of wondrous works, and made and worshipped a graven image, by this atrocious and incredible impiety they deserved death. "Had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the breaking." He doth not say, that he stood in the breaking,(6) as if to break the wrath of God, but in the way of the breaking, meaning the stroke which was to strike them: that is, had he not put himself in the way for them, saying, "Yet now, if Thou wilt forgive their sin;--and if not, blot me, I pray Thee, out of Thy book." Where it is proved how greatly the intercession of the saints in behalf of others prevaileth with God. For Moses, fearless in the justice of God, which could not blot him out, implored mercy, that He would not blot out those whom He justly might. Thus he "stood before Him in the breaking, to turn away His wrathful indignation, lest He should destroy them."
20. "Yea, they thought scorn of that pleasant land" (ver. 24). But had they seen it? How then could they scorn that which they had not seen, except as the following words explain," and believed not in His words." Indeed, unless that land which was styled the land that flowed with milk and honey,(7) signified something great, through which, as by a visible token, He was leading those who understood His wondrous works to invisible grace and the kingdom of heaven, they could not be blamed for scorning that land, whose temporal kingdom we also ought to esteem as nothing, that we may love that Jerusalem which is free, the mother of us all,(8) which is in heaven, and truly to be desired. But rather unbelief is here reproved, since they gave no credence to the words of God, who was leading them to great things through small things, and hastening to bless themselves with temporal things, which they carnally savoured of, they "abided not His counsel," as is said above.
21. "But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the Lord" (ver. 25); who strongly forbade them to murmur.
22. "Then lift He up His hand against them, to overthrow them in the wilderness" (ver. 26); "to cast out their seed among the nations: and to scatter them in the lands" (ver. 27).
23. "They were initiated also unto Baalpeor;" that is, were consecrated to the Gentile idol; "and ate the offerings of the dead" (ver. 28). "Thus they provoked Him to anger with their own inventions; and destruction was multiplied among them" (ver. 29). As if He had deferred the lifting up of His hand which was to cast them down in the desert, and to cast out their seed among the nations, and to scatter them in the lands; as the Apostle saith: "And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient."(1) " 'Destruction,' therefore, 'was multiplied among them,' when they were heavily punished for their heavy sins."
24. "Then stood up Phineas, and appeased Him, and the shaking ceased" (ver. 30). He hath related the whole briefly, because he is not here teaching the ignorant, but reminding those who know the history. The word "shaking" here is the same as "breaking" before. For it is one word in the Greek. Lastly, so great was their wickedness, in being consecrated to the idol, and eating the sacrifices of the dead (that is, because the Gentiles(2) sacrificed to dead men as to God), that God would not be otherwise appeased than as Phineas the Priest appeased Him, when he slew a man and a woman together whom he found in adultery.(3) If he had done this from hatred towards them, and not from love, while zeal for the house of God devoured him, it would not have been counted unto him for righteousness.... Christ our Lord indeed, when the New Testament was revealed, chose a milder discipline; but the threat of hell is more severe, and this we do not read of in those threatenings held out by God in His temporal government.
25. "And that was counted unto him for righteousness among all posterities for evermore" (ver. 31). God counted this unto His Priest for righteousness, not only as long as posterity shall exist, but "for evermore;" for He who knoweth the heart, knoweth how to weigh with how much love for the people that deed was done.
26. "And they angered Him at the waters of strife: so that Moses was vexed for their sakes" (ver. 32); "because they provoked his spirit, so that he spake doubtfully(4) with his lips" (ver. 33). What is spake doubtfully? As if God, who had done so great wonders before, could not cause water to flow from a rock. For he touched the rock with his rod with doubt, and thus distinguished this miracle from the rest, in which he had not doubted. He thus offended, thus deserved to hear that he should die, without entering into the land of promise.(5) For being disturbed by the murmurs of an unbelieving people, he held not fast that confidence which he ought to have held. Nevertheless, God giveth unto him, as unto His chosen, a good testimony even after his death, so that we may see that this wavering of faith was punished with this penalty only, that he was not allowed to enter that land, whither he was leading the people....
27. But they of whose iniquities this Psalm speaketh, when they had entered into that temporal land of promise, "destroyed not the heathen, which the Lord commanded them" (ver. 34); "but were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works" (ver. 35). "Insomuch that they worshipped their idols, which became to them an offence" (ver. 36). Their not destroying them, but mingling with them, became to them an offence.
28. "Yea, they offered their sons and their daughters unto devils" (ver. 37); "and shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they offered unto the idols of Canaan" (ver. 38). That history doth not relate that they offered their sons and daughters to devils and idols; but neither can that Psalm lie, nor the Prophets, who assert this in many passages of their rebukes. But the literature of the Gentiles is not silent respecting this custom of theirs. But what is it that followeth? "And the land was slain with bloods." We might suppose that this was a mistake of the writer, and that he had written interfecta for infecta, were it not for the goodness of God, who hath willed His Scriptures to be written in many languages; were it not that we see it written as in the text in many Greek(6) copies which we have inspected; "the land was slain with bloods." What meaneth then, "the land was slain," unless this be referred to the men who dwelt in the land, by a metaphorical expression.... For they themselves were slaying their own souls when they offered up their sons, and when they shed the blood of infants who were far from consent to this crime: whence it is said, "They shed innocent blood." "The land" therefore "was slain with bloods, and defiled by their works" (ver. 39), since they themselves were slain in soul, and defiled by their works; "and they went a whoring after their own inventions." By inventions are meant what the Greeks call epithdeu'mata: for this word doth occur in the Greek copies both in this and a former passage, where it is said, "They provoked Him to anger with their own inventions;" "inventions" in both instances signifying what they had initiated others in. Let no man therefore suppose inventions to mean what they had of themselves instituted, without any example before them to imitate. Whence other translators in the Latin tongue have perferred pursuits, affections, imitations, pleasures, to inventions: and the very same who here write inventions, have elsewhere written pursuits. I chose to mention this, lest the word inventions, applied to what they had not invented, but imitated from others, might raise a difficulty.
29. "Therefore was the wrath of the Lord kindled against His own people" (ver. 40). Our translators have been unwilling to use the word anger, for the Greek thumo`s; though some have used it; while others translate by "indignation" or "mind."(1) Whichever of these terms be adopted, passion doth not affect God; but the power of punishing hath assumed this name metaphorically from custom.
30. "Insomuch that He abhorred His own inheritance; and He gave them over into the hand of the heathen: and they that hated them were lords over them" (ver. 41): "and their enemies oppressed them, and they were brought low trader their hands" (ver. 42). Since he hath called them the inheritance of God, it is clear that He abhorred them, and gave them over into their enemies' hands, not in order to their perdition, but for their discipline. Lastly, he saith, "Many a time did He deliver them." "But they provoked Him with their own counsels" (ver. 43). This is what he said above, "They did not abide His counsel." Now a man's counsel is pernicious to himself, when he seeketh those things which are his own only, not those which are God's.(2) In whose inheritance, which inheritance He Himself is to us, when He deigneth His presence for our enjoyment, being with the Saints, we shall suffer no straitening from the society, by our love of anything as our own possession. For that most glorious city, when it hath gained the promised inheritance, in which none shall die, none shall be born, will not contain citizens who shall individually rejoice in their own, for "God shall be all in all."(3) And whoever in this pilgrimage faithfully and earnestly doth long for this society, doth accustom himself to prefer common to private interests, by seeking not his own things, but Jesus Christ's: lest, by being wise and vigilant in his own affairs, he provoke God with his own counsel; but, hoping for what he seeth not, let him not hasten to be blessed with things visible; and, patiently waiting for that everlasting happiness which he seeth not, follow His counsel in His promises, whose aid he prayeth for in his prayers. Thus he will also become humble in his confessions; so as not to be like those, of whom it is said, "They were brought down in their wickedness."
31. Nevertheless, God, full of mercy, forsook them not. "And He saw when they were in adversity, when He heard their complaint" (ver. 44). "And He thought upon His covenant, and repented, according to the multitude of His mercies" (ver. 45). He saith, "He repented," because He changed that wherewith He seemed about to destroy them. With God indeed all things are arranged and fixed; and when He seemeth to act upon sudden motive, He doth nothing but what He foreknew that He should do from eternity; but in the temporal changes of creation, which He ruleth wonderfully, He, without any temporal change in Himself, is said to do by a sudden act of will what in the ordained causes of events He hath arranged in the unchangeableness of His most secret counsel, according to which He doth everything according to defined seasons, doing the present, and having already done the future. And who is capable of comprehending these things?(4) Let us therefore hear the Scripture, speaking high things humbly, giving food for the nourishment of children, and proposing subjects for the research of the older: that everlasting covenant "which He made with Abraham," not the old which is abolished, but the new which is hidden even in the old. "And pitied them," etc. He did that which He had covenanted, but He had foreknown that He would yield this to them when they prayed in their adversity; since even their very prayer, when it was not uttered, but was still to be uttered, undoubtedly was known unto God.
32. So "He gave them unto compassions, in the sight of all that had taken them captive" (ver. 46). That they might not be vessels of wrath, but vessels of mercy.(5) The compassions unto which He gave them are named in the plural for this reason, I imagine, because each one hath a gift of his own from God, one in one way, another in another.(6) Come then, whosoever readest this, and dost recognise the grace of God, by which we are redeemed unto eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, by reading in the apostolical writings, and by searching in the Prophets, and seest the Old Testament revealed in the New, the New veiled in the Old; remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, where, when He driveth him out of the hearts of the faithful, He saith, "Now is the prince of this world cast out:"(7) and again of the Apostle, when he saith, "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son."(8) Meditate on these and such like things, examine also the Old Testament, and see what is sung in that Psalm, the title of which is, When the temple was being built after the captivity:(9) for there it is said, "Sing unto the Lord a new song." And, that thou mayest not think it doth refer to the Jewish people only, he saith, "Sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth: sing unto the Lord, and praise His Name: declare," or rather, "give the good news of," or, to transfer the very word used in the Greek, "evangelize day from day, His salvation." Here the Gospel (Evangelium) is mentioned, in which is announced the Day that came from Day, our Lord Christ, the Light from Light, the Son from the Father. This also is the meaning of His salvation: for Christ is the Salvation of God, as we have shown above.(1) ...
33. "Deliver us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations (other copies read, "from the heathen"); that we may give thanks unto Thy holy Name, and make our boast of Thy praise" (ver. 47), Then he hath briefly added this very praise, "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting, and world without end"(2) (ver. 48): by which we understand from everlasting to everlasting; because He shall be praised without end by those of whom it is said, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: they will be alway praising Thee."(3) This is the perfection of the Body of Christ on the third day, when the devils had been east out, and cures perfected, even unto the immortality of the body itself, the everlasting reign of those who perfectly praise Him, because they perfectly love Him; and perfectly love Him, because they behold Him face to face. For then shall be completed the prayer at the commencement of this Psalm:(4) "Remember us, O Lord, according to the favour that Thou bearest unto Thy people," etc. For from the Gentiles He doth not gather only the lost sheep of the house of Israel,(5) but also those which do not belong to that fold; so that there is one flock, as is said, and one Shepherd. But when the Jews suppose that that prophecy belongeth to their visible kingdom, because they know not how to rejoice in the hope of good things unseen, they are about to rush into the snares of him, of whom the Lord saith, "I am come in My Father's Name, and ye receive Me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive."(6) Of whom the Apostle Paul saith: "that Man of Sin shall be revealed, the son of perdition," etc. And a little after he saith, "Then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming," etc.(7) ... Through that Apostate, through him who exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, it seemeth to me, that the carnal people of Israel will suppose that prophecy to be fulfilled, where it is said, "Deliver us, O Lord, and gather us from among the heathen;" that under His guidance, before the eyes of their visible enemies, who had visibly taken them captive, they are to have visible glory. Thus they will believe a lie, because they have not received the love of truth, that they might love not carnal, but spiritual blessings. ... For Christ had other sheep that were not of this fold:(8) but the devil and his angels had taken captive all those sheep, both among the Israelites and the Gentiles. The power, therefore, of the devil having been cast out of them, in the sight of the evil spirits who had taken them captive, their cry in this prophecy is, that they may be saved and perfected for evermore: "Deliver us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen." Not, as the Jews imagine it, fulfilled through Antichrist, but through our Lord Christ coming in the name of His Father, "Day from day, His salvation;" of whom it is here said, "O visit us in Thy salvation! And let all the people say," the predestined people of the circumcision and of the uncircumcision, a holy race, an adopted people, "So be it! So be it!"(9)