Writings of Augustine. The Psalms.

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Expositions on the Book of Psalms.

by Saint Augustin, Bishop of Hippo.

Edited, with brief annotations, and condensed from the six volumes of the Oxford Translation,

by A. Cleveland Coxe, D.D., Editor of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, etc.

Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.

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Psalm XXXV. [741]

1. ...The title of it causeth us no delay, for it is both brief, and to be understood not difficult, especially to those nursed in the Church of God. For so it is, "To David himself." The Psalm then is to David himself: now David is interpreted, Strong in hand, or Desirable. The Psalm then is to the Strong in hand, and Desirable, to Him who for us hath overcome death, who unto us hath promised life: for in this is He Strong in hand, that He hath overcome death for us; in this is He Desirable, that He hath promised unto us life eternal. For what stronger than that Hand which touched the bier, and he that was dead rose up? [742] What stronger than that Hand which overcame the world, not armed with steel, but pierced with wood? Or what more desirable than He, whom not having seen, the Martyrs wished even to die, that they might be worthy to come unto Him? Therefore is the Psalm unto Him: to Him let our heart, to Him our tongue sing worthily: if yet Himself shall deign to give somewhat to sing....

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2. "Judge Thou, O Lord" (saith he), "them that hurt me, and fight Thou against them that fight against me" (ver. 1). "If God be for us, who can be against us?" [743] And whereby doth God this for us? "Take hold" (saith he) "of arms and shield, and rise up to my help" (ver. 2). A great spectacle is it, to see God armed for thee. And what is His Shield, what are His Arms? "Lord," in another place saith the man who here also speaketh, "as with the shield of Thy good-will hast Thou compassed us." [744] But His Arms, wherewith He may not only us defend, but also strike His enemies, if we have well profited, shall we ourselves be. For as we from Him have this, that we be armed, so is He armed from us. But He is armed from those whom He hath made, we are armed with those things which we have received from Him who made us. These our arms the Apostle in a certain place calleth, "The shield of Faith, the helmet of Salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God." [745] He hath armed us with such arms as ye have heard, arms admirable, and unconquered, insuperable and shining; spiritual truly and invisible, because we have to fight also against invisible enemies. If thou seest thine enemy, let thine arms be seen. We are armed with faith in those things which we see not, and we overthrow enemies whom we see not....

3. "Pour forth the weapon, and stop the way against them that persecute me" (ver. 3). Who are they that persecute thee? Haply thy neighbour, or he whom thou hast offended, or to whom thou hast done wrong, or who would take away what is thine, or against whom thou preachest the truth, or whose sin thou rebukest, or whom living ill by thy well living thou offendest. There are indeed even these enemies to us, and they persecute us: but other enemies we are taught to know, those against whom we fight invisibly, of whom the Apostle warneth us, saying, "We wrestle not against flesh and blood," [746] that is, against men; not against those whom ye see, but against those whom ye see not; "against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the world, of this darkness."..."The whole world lieth in wickedness;" [747] therefore the Apostle explained of what world they were rulers, he said, "of this darkness." The rulers of this world, I say, are the rulers of this darkness....

4. And what follows? "Let them be confounded and put to shame, that seek after my soul" (ver. 4): for to this end they seek after it, to destroy it. For I would that they would seek it for good! for in another Psalm he blameth this in men, that there was none who would seek after his soul: "Refuge failed me: there was none that would seek after my soul." [748] Who is this that saith, "There was none that would seek after my soul"? [749] Is it haply He, of whom so long before it was predicted, "They pierced My Hands and My Feet, they numbered all My Bones, they stared and looked upon Me, they have parted My Garments among them, and cast lots for My Vesture"? [750] Now all these things were done before their eyes, and there was none who would seek after His Soul....

5. ...Many have been confounded to their health: many, put to shame, have passed over from the persecution of Christ to the society of His members with devoted piety; and this would not have been, had they not been confounded and put to shame. Therefore he wished well to them....Let them not go before, but follow; let them not give counsel, but take it. For Peter would go before the Lord, when the Lord spake of His future Passion: he would to Him as it were give counsel for His health. The sick man to the Saviour give counsel for His health! And what said he to the Lord, affirming that His future Passion? "Be it far from Thee, Lord. Be gracious to Thyself. This shall not be to Thee." He would go before that the Lord might follow; and what said He? "Get thee behind Me, Satan." [751] By going before thou art Satan, by following thou wilt be a disciple. The same then is said to these also, "Let them be turned back and brought to confusion that think evil against me." For when they have begun to follow after, now they will not think evil against me, but desire my good.

6. What of others? For all are not so conquered as to be converted and believe: many continue in obstinacy, many preserve in heart the spirit of going before, and if they exert it not, yet they labour with it, and finding opportunity bring it forth. Of such, what followeth? "Let them be as dust before the wind" (ver. 5). "Not so are the ungodly, not so; but as the dust which the wind driveth away from the face of the earth." [752] The wind is temptation; the dust are the ungodly. When temptation cometh, the dust is raised, it neither standeth nor resisteth. "Let them be as dust before the wind, and let the Angel of the Lord trouble them." "Let their way be darkness and slipping" (ver. 6). A horrible way! Darkness alone who feareth not? A slippery way alone who avoids not? In a dark and slippery way how shalt thou go? where set foot? These two ills are the great punishments of men: darkness, ignorance; a slippery way, luxury. "And let the Angel of the Lord persecute them;" that they be not able to stand. For any one in a dark and slippery way, when he seeth that if he move his foot he will fall, and there is no light before his feet, haply resolveth to wait until light come; but here is the Angel of the Lord persecuting them. These things he predicted would come upon them, not as though he wished them to happen. Although the Prophet in the Spirit of God so speaketh these things, even as God doth the same, with sure judgment, with a judgment good, righteous, holy, tranquil; not moved with wrath, not with bitter jealousy, not with desire of wreaking enmities, but of punishing wickedness with righteousness; nevertheless, it is a prophecy.

7. But wherefore these so great evils? By what desert? Hear by what desert. "For without cause have they hid for me the corruption of their trap" (ver. 7). For Him that is our Head, observe, the Jews did this: they hid the corruption of their trap. For whom hid they their trap? For Him who saw the hearts of those that hid. But yet was He among them like one ignorant, as though He were deceived, whereas they were in that deceived, that they thought Him to be deceived. For therefore was He as though deceived, living among them, because we among such as they were so to live, as to be without doubt deceived. He saw His betrayer, and chose him the more to a necessary work. By his evil He wrought a great good: and yet among the twelve was he chosen, lest even the small number of twelve should be without one evil. This was an example of patience to us, because it was necessary that we should live among the evil: it was necessary that we should endure the evil, either knowing them or knowing them not: an example of patience He gave thee lest thou shouldest fail, when thou hast begun to live among the evil. And because that School of Christ in the twelve failed not, how much more ought we to be firm, when in the great Church is fulfilled what was predicted of the mixture of the evil....

8. But yet what is to be done? "Without a cause have they hid for me the corruption of their trap." What meaneth, "Without a cause"? I have done them no evil, I have hurt them not at all. "Vainly have they reviled my soul." What is, "Vainly"? Speaking falsely, proving nothing. "Let a trap come upon them which they know not of" (ver. 8). A magnificent retribution, nothing more just! They have hidden a trap that I might know not: let a trap come upon them which they know not of. For I know of their trap. But what trap is coming upon them? That which they know not of. Let us hear, lest haply he speak of that. "Let a trap come upon them, which they know not of." Perhaps that is one which they hid for him, that another which shall come upon themselves. Not so: but what? "The wicked shall be holden with the cords of his own sins." [753] Thereby are they deceived, whereby they would deceive. Thence shall come mischief to them, whence they endeavoured mischief. For it follows, "And let the net which they have hidden catch themselves, and let them fall into their own trap." As if any one should prepare a cup of poison for another, and forgetting should drink it up himself: or as if one should dig a pit, that his enemy might fall thereinto in the darkness and himself forgetting what he had dug, should first walk that way, and fall into it....

9. This then for the wicked that would hurt me: what for me? "But my soul shall rejoice in the Lord" (ver. 9); as in Him from whom it hath heard, "I am thy salvation;" as not seeking other riches from without; as not seeking to abound in pleasures and good things of earth; but loving freely the true Spouse, not from Him wishing to receive aught that may delight, but Him alone proposing to itself, by whom it may be delighted. For what better than God will be given unto me? God loveth me: God loveth thee. See He hath proposed to thee, Ask what thou wilt. [754] If the emperor should say to thee, Ask what thou wilt, what commands, [755] what dignities, [756] wouldest thou burst forth with! What great things wouldest thou propose to thyself, both to receive and to bestow! When God saith unto thee, Ask what thou wilt, what wilt thou ask? empty thy mind, exert thy avarice, stretch forward as far as possible, and enlarge thy desire: it is not any one, but Almighty God that said, Ask what thou wilt. If of possessions thou art a lover, thou wilt desire the whole earth, that all who are born may be thy husbandmen, or thy slaves. And what when thou hast possessed the whole earth? Thou wilt ask the sea, in which yet thou canst not live. In this greediness the fishes will have the better of thee. But perhaps thou wilt possess the islands. Pass over these also; ask the air although thou canst not fly; stretch thy desire even unto the heavens, call thine own the sun, the moon, and the stars, because He who made all said, Ask what thou wilt: yet nothing wilt thou find more precious, nothing wilt thou find better, than Himself who made all things. Him seek, who made all things, and in Him and from Him shalt thou have all things which He made. All things are precious, because all are beautiful; but what more beautiful than He? Strong are they; but what stronger than He? And nothing would He give thee rather than Himself. If aught better thou hast found, ask it. If thou ask aught else, thou wilt do wrong to Him, and harm to thyself, by preferring to Him that which He made, when He would give to thee Himself who made....

"But my soul shall be joyful in the Lord; it shall rejoice in His salvation." The salvation of God is Christ: "For mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." [757]

10. "All my bones shall say, Lord, who is like unto Thee" (ver. 10). Who can speak anything worthily of these words? I think them only to be pronounced, not to be expounded. Why seekest thou this or that? What is like unto thy Lord? Him hast thou before thee. "The unrighteous have declared unto me delights, but not after Thy law, O Lord!" [758] Persecutors have been who have said, Worship Saturn, worship Mercury. I worship not idols (saith he): "Lord, who is like unto Thee? They have eyes, and see not; ears have they, but they hear not." [759] "Lord, who is like unto Thee," who hast made the eye to see, the ear to hear? But I (saith he) worship not idols, for them a workman made. Worship a tree or mountain; did a workman make them also? Here too, Lord, who is like unto Thee? Earthly things are shown unto me; Thou art Creator of the earth. And from these haply they turn to the higher creation, and say to me, Worship the Moon, worship this Sun, who with his light, as a great lamp in the Heavens, maketh the day. Here also I plainly say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee?" The Moon and the Stars Thou hast made, the Sun to rule the day hast Thou kindled, the Heavens hast Thou framed together. There are many invisible things better. But haply here also it is said to me, Worship Angels, adore Angels. And here also will I say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee?" Even the Angels Thou hast created. The Angels are nothing, but by seeing Thee. It is better with them to possess Thee, than by worshipping them to fall from Thee.

11. O Body of Christ, Holy Church, let all thy bones say, "Lord, who is like unto thee?" And if the flesh under persecution hath fallen away, let the bones say, "Lord, who is like unto Thee?" For of the righteous it is said, "The Lord keepeth all their bones; not one of them shall be broken." [760] Of how many righteous have the bones under persecution been broken? Finally, "The just shall live by faith," [761] and "Christ justifieth the ungodly." [762] But how justifieth He any except believing and confessing? "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." [763] Therefore also that thief, although from His theft led to the judge, and from the judge to the cross, yet on the very cross was justified: with his heart he believed, with his mouth he confessed. For neither to a man unrighteous and not already justified, would the Lord have said, "To-day shalt thou be with Me in Paradise," [764] and yet his bones were broken. For when they came to take down the bodies, by reason of the approaching Sabbath, the Lord was found already dead, and His Bones were not broken. [765] But of those that yet lived, that they might be taken down, the legs were broken, that so from this pain having died, they might be buried. Were then of the one thief, who persisted in his ungodliness on the cross, the bones broken, and not also of the other who with his heart believed, and with his mouth made confession unto salvation? Where then is that which was said, "The Lord keepeth all his bones; not one of them shall be broken;" except that in the Body of the Lord the name of bones is given to all the righteous, the firm in heart, the strong, yielding to no persecutions, no temptations, so as to consent unto evil?...

12. "Which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him; yea, the poor and needy from him that spoileth him."...Who that deliverest, but He who is Strong in hand? Even that David shall deliver the poor from him that is too strong for him. For the devil was too strong for thee, and held thee, because he conquered thee, when thou consentedst unto him. But what hath the Strong in hand done? "No man entereth into a strong man's house, to spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man." [766] By His own Power, most Holy, most Magnificent, hath He bound the devil by pouring forth the weapon to stop the way against him, that He may deliver the poor and needy, to whom there was no helper. [767] For who is thy helper but the Lord to whom thou sayest, "O Lord, My Strength, and My Redeemer." [768] If thou wilt presume of thy own strength, thereby wilt thou fall, whereof succour thee. He then alone is to be sought Who hath redeemed them, and made them free, and hath given His Blood to purchase them, and of His servants hath made them His Brethren....

13. Let then our Head say, "False witnesses did rise up, they laid to My charge things that I knew not" (ver. 11). But let us say to our Head, Lord, what knewest Thou not? Didst Thou indeed know not anything? Didst Thou not know the hearts of them that charged Thee? Didst Thou not foresee their deceits? Didst Thou not give Thyself into their hands knowingly? Hadst Thou not come that Thou mightest suffer by them? What then knewest Thou not? He knew not sin, and thereby He knew not sin, not by not judging, but by not committing. There are phrases of this kind also in daily use, as when thou sayest of any one, He knoweth not to stand, that is, he doth not stand; and, He knoweth not to do good, because he doth not good; and, He knoweth not to do ill, because he doth not ill....What knew not Christ so much, as to blaspheme? Thereof was He called in question by His persecutors, and because He spake truth, He was judged to have spoken blasphemy. [769] But by whom? By them of whom it followeth, "They rewarded Me evil for good, and barrenness to My Soul" (ver. 12). I gave unto them fruitfulness, they rewarded Me barrenness; I gave life, they death; I honour, they dishonour; I medicine, they wounds; and in all these which they rewarded Me, was truly barrenness. This barrenness in the tree He cursed, when seeking fruit He found none. [770] Leaves there were, and fruit there was not: words there were, and deeds there were not. See of words abundance, and of deeds barrenness. "Thou that preachest a man should not steal, stealest: thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, committest adultery." [771] Such were they who charged Christ with things that He knew not.

14. "But I, when they troubled me, clothed myself with sackcloth, and humbled my soul with fasting, and my prayer shall return into mine own bosom" (ver. 13)...Brethren, if for some little space with pious curiosity we lift the veil, and search with the intent eye of the heart the inner part of this Scripture, we find that even this the Lord did. Sackcloth, haply He calleth His mortal flesh. Wherefore Sackcloth? For the likeness of sinful flesh. For the Apostle saith, "God sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, that through sin He might condemn sin in the flesh:" [772] that is, He clothed His Own Son with sackcloth, that through sackcloth [773] He might condemn the goats. Not that there was sin, I say not in the Word of God, but not even in that Holy Soul and Mind of a Man, which the Word and Wisdom of God had so joined to Himself as to be One Person. Nay, nor even in His very Body was any sin, but the likeness of sinful flesh there was in the Lord; because death is not but by sin, [774] and surely that Body was mortal. For had It not been mortal, It had not died; had It not died, It had not risen again; had It not risen again, It had not showed us an example of eternal life. So then death, which is caused by sin, is called sin; as we say the Greek tongue, the Latin tongue, meaning not the very member of flesh, but that which is done by the member of flesh. For the tongue in our members is one among others, as the eyes, nose, ears, and the rest: but the Greek tongue is Greek words, not that the tongue is words, but that words are by the tongue....So then the sin of the Lord is that which was caused by sin; because He assumed flesh, of the same lump which had deserved death by sin. For to speak more briefly, Mary who was of Adam died for sin, [775] Adam died for sin, and the Flesh of the Lord which was of Mary died to put away sin. With this sackcloth the Lord clothed Himself, and therefore was He not known, because He lay hid under sackcloth. "When they," saith He, "troubled Me, I clothed Myself with sackcloth:" that is, they raged, I lay hid. For had He not willed to lie hid neither could He have died, since in one moment of time one drop only of His Power, if indeed it is to be called a drop, He put forth, when they wished to seize Him, and at His one question, "Whom seek ye?" they all went back and fell to the ground. [776] Such power could He not have humbled in passion, if He had not lain hid under sackcloth.

15. Again, if we have understood the sackcloth, how understand we the fasting? Wished Christ to eat, when He sought fruit on the tree, [777] and if He had found, would He have eaten? Wished Christ to drink, when He said to the woman of Samaria, "Give Me to drink"? [778] when He said on the Cross, "I thirst"? [779] For what hungered, for what thirsted Christ, but our good works? Because in them that crucified and persecuted Him He had found no good works, He fasted; for they rewarded barrenness to His soul. For what a fast was His, who found barely one thief, whom on the Cross He might taste! For the Apostles had fled, and had hidden themselves in the multitude. And even Peter, who even to the death of his Lord had promised to persevere, had now thrice denied Him, had now wept, and still lay hid in the multitude, still feared lest He should be known. Lastly, having seen Him dead, all of them despaired of their own safety and despairing He found them, after His resurrection, and when He spake with them, found them grieving and mourning, no longer hoping anything....In great fasting had the Lord remained, had He not refreshed them that He might feed on them. For He refreshed them, He comforted them, He confirmed them, and into His Own Body converted them. In this manner then was our Lord also in fasting.

16. "And My prayer shall return into Mine Own Bosom." In the bosom of this verse is plainly a great depth, and may the Lord grant that it be fathomable by us. For in the "bosom" a secret is understood. And we ourselves, Brethren, are here well admonished to pray within our own bosom, where God seeth, where God heareth, where no human eye penetrateth, where none seeth but He who succoureth; where Susanna prayed, and her voice, though it was not heard by men, yet by God was heard. [780] ...We read also that in the mount Jesus prayed alone, [781] we read that He passed the night in prayer, [782] even at the time of His Passion. [783] What then? "And My prayer shall return into Mine Own Bosom." I know not what better to understand concerning the Lord: take meanwhile what now occurs; [784] perhaps something better will occur hereafter, either to me or to some better: "My prayer shall return into Mine Own Bosom:" this I understand to be said, because in His Own Bosom He had the Father. "For God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." [785] In Himself He had Him to whom He prayed. He was not far from Him, for Himself had said, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." [786] But because prayer rather belongeth to very Man (for according as Christ is the Word, He prayeth not, but heareth prayer; and seeketh not to be succoured for Himself, but with the Father succoureth all): what is, "My prayer shall return into Mine Own Bosom," but in Me My Manhood invoketh in Me My Godhead.

17. "As a Neighbour, as our Brother, so I pleased Him: as one mourning and sorrowful, so I humbled myself" (ver. 14). Now looketh He back to His Own Body: let us now look to this. When we rejoice in prayer, when our mind is calmed, not by the world's prosperity, but by the light of Truth: (who perceiveth this light, knoweth what I say, and he seeth and acknowledgeth what is said, "As a Neighbour, as our Brother, so I pleased Him"): even then our soul pleaseth God, not placed afar off, for, "In Him," saith one, "we live and move and have our being," [787] but as a Brother, as a Neighbour, as a Friend. But if it be not such that it can so rejoice, so shine, so approach, so cleave unto Him, and seeth itself far off thence, then let it do what followeth, "As one mourning and sorrowful, so I humbled Myself. As our Brother, so I pleased Him," said He, drawing near; "As one mourning and sorrowful, so I humbled Myself," said He, removed and set afar off....Did not Peter draw near, when he said, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God"? And yet the same man became afar off by saying, "Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee." Lastly, what said He, his Neighbour, as it were, to him drawing near? "Blessed art thou, Simon, Barjona." To him afar off, as it were, and unlike, what said He? "Get thee behind Me, Satan." [788] To him drawing near, "Flesh and blood," saith He, "hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father, which is in Heaven." His Light is shed over thee, in His Light thou shinest. But when having become afar off, he spake against the Lord's Passion, which should be for our Salvation, "Thou savourest not," said He, "the things that be of God, but those that be of men." One rightly placing together both of these saith in a certain Psalm, "I said in my ecstasy, I am cast off from before Thine Eyes." [789] In my ecstasy, would he not have said, had he not drawn near; for ecstasy is the transporting of the mind. He poured over himself his own soul, and drew near unto God; and through some cloud and weight of the flesh being again cast down to earth, and recollecting where he had been, and seeing where he was, he said, "I am cast off from before Thine Eyes." This then, "As a Neighbour, as our Brother, so I pleased Him," may He grant to be done in us; but when that is not, let even this be done, "As one mourning and sorrowful, so I humbled myself."

18. "And against Me they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together" [790] (ver. 15), against Me only: they rejoicing, I sorrowful. But we heard just now in the Gospel, "Blessed are they that mourn." [791] If they are blessed that mourn, miserable are they that laugh. "Against Me they rejoiced, and gathered themselves together: scourges were gathered together against Me, and they knew not." [792] Because they laid to My charge things that I knew not, they also knew not Whom they charged.

19. "They tempted Me, and mocked Me with mocking" [793] (ver. 16). That is, they derided Me, they insulted Me; this of the Head, this of the Body. Consider, Brethren, the glory of the Church which now is; remember its past dishonours, remember how once were Christians everywhere put to flight, and wherever found, mocked, beaten, slain, exposed to beasts, burned, men rejoicing against them. As it was to the Head, so it is also to the Body. For as it was to the Lord on the Cross, so has it been to His Body in all that persecution which was made but now: nor even now cease the persecutions of the same. Wherever men find a Christian, they are wont to insult, to persecute, to deride him, to call him dull, senseless, of no spirit, of no knowledge. Do they what they will, Christ is in Heaven: do they what they will, He hath honoured His punishment, already hath He fixed His Cross in the foreheads of all; the ungodly is permitted to insult, to rage he is not permitted; but yet from that which the tongue uttereth, is understood what he beareth in his heart: "They gnashed upon Me with their teeth."

20. "Lord, when wilt Thou look on? Rescue My Soul from their deceits, My Darling from the lions" (ver. 17). For to us the time is slow; and in our person is this said, "When wilt Thou look on?" that is, when shall we see vengeance upon those who insult us? When shall the Judge, overcome by weariness, hear the widow? [794] But our Judge, not from weariness, but from love, delayeth our salvation; from reason, not from need; not that He could not even now succour us, but that the number of us all may be filled up even to the end. And yet out of our desire, what do we say? "Lord, when wilt Thou look on? Rescue My Soul from their deceits, My Darling from the lions:" that is, My Church from raging powers.

21. Lastly, wouldest thou know what is that Darling? Read the words following: "I will confess unto Thee, O Lord, in the great Congregation; in a weighty [795] people will I praise Thee" (ver. 18). Truly saith He, "I will confess unto Thee:" for confession is made in all the multitude, but not in all is God praised: the whole multitude heareth our confession, [796] but not in all the multitude is the praise of God. For in all the whole multitude, that is, in the Church which is spread abroad in the whole world, is chaff, and wheat: the chaff flieth, the wheat remaineth; therefore, "in a weighty people will I praise Thee." In a weighty people, which the wind of temptation carries not away, in such is God praised. For in the chaff He is ever blasphemed....

22. "Let not them that are Mine enemies wrongfully rejoice over Me:" for they rejoice over Me because of My chaff. "Who hate Me without a cause;" that is, whom I never hurt; "winking with their eyes" (ver. 19): that is, pretending hypocrites, "For they spake indeed peace to Me" (ver. 20). What is, "winking with their eyes"? Declaring by their looks, what they carry not in their heart. And who are these "winking with their eyes"? "For they spake indeed peace to Me; and with wrath devised craftily." "Yea they opened their mouth wide against Me" (ver. 21). First winking with their eyes, those lions sought to ravish and devour; first fawning they spake peace, and then with wrath devised craftily. What peace spake they? "Master, we know that Thou acceptest not man's person, and teachest the way of God in truth. Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not?" They spake indeed peace unto Me. What then? Didst not Thou know them, and deceived they Thee, winking with their eyes? Truly He knew them; therefore said He, "Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?" [797] Afterward, "they opened their mouth wide against Me," crying, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him! [798] and said, Aha, Aha, our eyes have seen it." This, when they insulted Him, "Aha, Aha, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ." [799] As their peace was pretended when they tempted Him concerning the money, so now insulting was their praise. "They said, Aha, Aha, our eyes have seen it" (ver. 21): that is, Thy deeds, Thy miracles. This Man is the Christ. "If He be the Christ, let Him come down from the Cross, and we will believe Him. He saved others, Himself He cannot save." [800] "Our eyes have seen it." This is all whereof He boasted Himself, when "He called Himself the Son of God." [801] But the Lord was hanging patient upon the Cross: His power had He not lost, but He showed His patience. For what great thing was it for Him to come down from the Cross, who could afterward rise again from the sepulchre? But He seems to have yielded to His insulters; and this, beloved, that having risen again He should show Himself to His own, and not to them, and this is a great mystery; for His resurrection signified the New Life, but the New Life is known to His friends, not to His enemies.

23. "This Thou hast seen, O Lord; keep not silence" (ver. 22). What is, "keep not silence"? Judge Thou. For of judgment is it said in a certain place, [802] "I have kept silence; shall I keep silence for ever?" And of the delaying of judgment it is said to the sinner, "These things hast thou done, and I kept silence;" "Thou thoughtest that I was altogether such an one as thyself." [803] How keepeth He silence, who speaketh by the Prophets, who speaketh with His own mouth in the Gospel, who speaketh by the Evangelists, who speaketh by us, when we speak the truth? What then? He keepeth silence from judgment, not from precept, not from doctrine. But this His judgment the Prophet in a manner invoketh, and predicteth: "Thou hast seen, O Lord: keep not silence;" that is, Thou wilt not keep silence, needs must that Thou wilt judge. "O Lord, be not far from Me." Until Thy judgment come, be not far from Me, as Thou hast promised, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

24. "Arise, Lord, and attend to My judgment" (ver. 23). To what judgment? That Thou art in tribulation; that Thou art tormented with labours and pains? Do not even many wicked men suffer the same? To what judgment? Therefore art Thou righteous, because Thou sufferest these things? No: but what? "To My judgment." What followeth? "Attend to My judgment; even to My cause, My God, and My Lord." Not to My punishment, but to My cause: not to that which the robber hath in common with Me, but to that whereof is said, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake." [804] For this cause is distinguished. For punishment is equal to good and bad. Therefore Martyrs, not the punishment, but the cause maketh, for if punishment made Martyrs, all the mines would be full of Martyrs, every chain would drag Martyrs, all that are executed with the sword would be crowned. Therefore let the cause be distinguished; let none say, because I suffer, I am righteous. Because He who first suffered, suffered for righteousness' sake, therefore He added a great exception, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake." For many having a good cause do persecution, and many having a bad cause suffer persecution. For if persecution could not be done rightly, it had not been said in a certain Psalm, "Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him did I persecute." [805] ...Let none then say, I suffer persecution: let him not sift the punishment, but prove the cause: lest if he prove not the cause, he be numbered with the ungodly. Therefore how watchfully, how excellently hath This Man recommended Himself, "O Lord, attend to My judgment," not to My punishments; "even to My cause, My God, and My Lord."

25. "Judge me, O Lord, according to My righteousness" (ver. 24); that is, attend to My cause. Not according to My punishment, but "according to My righteousness, O Lord, My God," that is, according to this judge Thou Me. "And let them not rejoice over Me;" that is, Mine enemies.

26. "Let them not say in their heart, Aha, aha, so would we have it" (ver. 25); that is, We have done what we could, [806] we have slain him, we have taken him away. "Let them not say:" show them that they have done nothing. "Let them not say, We have swallowed him up." Whence say those Martyrs, "If the Lord had not been on our side, then they had swallowed us up quick." [807] What is, "had swallowed us up"? Had passed into their own body. For that thou swallowest up, which thou passest into thy own body. The world would swallow thee up; swallow thou the world, pass it into thy own body: kill and eat. As it was said to Peter, "Kill and eat;" [808] do thou kill in them what they are, make them what thou art. But if they on the other hand persuade thee to ungodliness, thou art swallowed up by them. Not when they persecute thee art thou swallowed up by them, but when they persuade thee to be what they are. "Let them not say, We have swallowed him up." Do thou swallow up the body of Pagans. Why the body of Pagans? It would swallow thee up. Do thou to it, what it would to thee. Therefore perhaps that calf, being ground to powder, was cast into the water and given to the children of Israel to drink, [809] that so the body of ungodliness might be swallowed up by Israel. "Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour" (ver. 26); so that we may swallow up them ashamed and brought to confusion. "Who speak evil against me:" let them be ashamed, let them be brought to confusion.

27. What sayest thou now, the Head with the Members? "Let them shout for joy and be glad that favour My righteous cause:" who cleave to My Body. Yea, let them say "continually, Let the Lord be magnified, which hath pleasure in the prosperity of His servant" (ver. 27). "And my tongue shall speak of Thy righteousness, and of Thy praise all the day long" (ver. 28). And whose tongue endureth to speak the praise of God all the day long? See now I have made a discourse something longer; ye are wearied. Who endureth to praise God all the day long? I will suggest a remedy, whereby thou mayest praise God all the day long if thou wilt. Whatever thou dost, do well, and thou hast praised God. When thou singest an hymn, thou praisest God, but what doth thy tongue, unless thy heart also praise Him? Hast thou ceased from singing hymns, and departed, that thou mayest refresh thyself? Be not drunken, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou go away to sleep? Rise not to do evil, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou transact business? Do no wrong, and thou hast praised God. Dost thou till thy field? Raise not strife, and thou hast praised God. In the innocency of thy works prepare thyself to praise God all the day long.

Footnotes

[741] Lat. XXXIV. Delivered upon the occasion of some Council. [He begins by addressing his "fellow-bishops."--C.] [742] Luke vii. 14. [743] Rom. viii. 31. [744] Ps. v. 12. [745] Eph. vi. 16, 17. [746] Eph. vi. 12. [747] 1 John v. 19. [Gr. "in the Wicked One."--C.] [748] Ps. cxlii. 4. [749] "Who is," etc. Most mss. read, "That is, who asks, Who is that who is crucified? There is no one that saith, It is haply He," etc. [750] Ps. xxii. 16-18. [751] Matt. xvi. 22, 23. [752] Ps. i. 4. [753] Prov. v. 22. [754] Matt. vii. 7. [755] Tribunatus. [756] Comitivas. [Part Second begins with ver. 11.--C.] [757] Luke ii. 30. [758] Ps. cxix. 85. [759] Ps. cxv. 5, 6. [760] Ps. xxxiv. 20. [761] Rom. i. 17. [P. 78, supra.--C.] [762] Rom. iv. 5. [763] Rom. x. 10. [764] Luke xxiii. 43. [765] John xix. 33. [766] Matt. xii. 29. [767] Ps. lxxii. 12. [768] Ps. xix. 14. [769] Matt. xxvi. 65. [770] Matt. xxi. 19. [771] Rom. ii. 21, 22. [772] Rom. viii. 3. [773] Lat. de cilicio; i.e., sackcloth made of goats' hair. [Acts xvii. 3 and xxi. 39.--C.] Compare Matt. xxv. 32, 33. [774] Rom. v. 12. [775] ["All, without one exception, were dead in sins." See (City of God, book xx. cap. 6) vol. ii. p. 425, supra. Mary is not excepted by any of the Fathers; and the Latin Fathers, the last of whom is St. Bernard, unanimously ascribe to Christ the only immaculate conception.--C.] [776] John xviii. 4, 6. [777] Mark xi. 13. [778] John iv. 7. [779] John xix. 28. [On assimilation, compare p. 86, n. 2.--C.] [780] Susanna i. 35, 44. [781] Matt. xiv. 23. [782] Luke vi. 12. [783] Matt. xxvi. 36; Mark xiv. 35; Luke xxii. 41. [784] [A significant hint of the improvised character of many of the saint's expositions.--C.] [785] 2 Cor. v. 19. [786] John xiv. 10. [787] Acts xvii. 28. [788] Matt. xvi. 16-23. [789] Ps. xxxii. 22. [See p. 70, supra.] [790] E.V. "But in mine adversity they rejoiced and gathered themselves together." [791] Matt. v. 5. [792] E.V. "Yea, the abjects gathered themselves together against me, and I knew it not." [793] E.V. "They did tear Me and ceased not:" 16. "With hypocritical mockers in feasts, they gnashed upon Me with their teeth." The words here omitted are mentioned on Ps. lvii.--Ben. [794] Luke xviii. 3. [795] Latin, "in populo gravi." [796] [The recitation of the Creed, perhaps; but in the ancient Church the confession of sin, also, was public. Bingham, b. xviii. cap. 3.--C.] [797] Matt. xxii. 16-18. [798] Luke xxiii. 21. [799] Matt. xxvi. 68. [800] Matt. xxvii. 42; Luke xxiii. 35. [801] John xix. 7. [802] Isa. xlii. 14, Sept. [803] Ps. l. 21. [804] Matt. v. 10. [805] Ps. ci. 5. [806] Al. "We have done it, we have prevailed" (potuimus). [807] Ps. cxxiv. 1-3. [808] Acts x. 13. [809] Exod. xxxii. 20. .


Psalm XXXVI. [810]

1. ..."The ungodly hath said in himself that he will sin: there is no fear of God before his eyes" (ver. 1). Not of one man, but of a race of ungodly men he speaketh, who fight against their own selves, by not understanding, that so they may live well; not because they cannot, but because they will not. For it is one thing, when one endeavours to understand some thing, and through infirmity of flesh cannot; as saith the Scripture [811] in a certain place, "For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things;" but another when the human heart acts mischievously against itself, so that what it could understand, if it had but good will thereto, it understandeth not, not because it is difficult, but because the will is contrary. But so it is when men love their own sins, and hate God's Commandments. For the Word of God is thy adversary, if thou be a friend to thy ungodliness; but if thou art an adversary to thy ungodliness, the Word of God is thy friend, as well as the adversary of thy ungodliness....

2. "For he hath wrought deceitfully in His sight" (ver. 2). In whose sight? In His, whose fear was not before the eyes of him that did work deceitfully. "To find out his iniquity, and hate it." He wrought so as not to find it. For there are men who as it were endeavour to seek out their iniquity, and fear to find it; because if they should find it, it is said to them, Depart from it: this thou didst before thou knewest; thou didst iniquity being in ignorance; God giveth pardon: now thou hast discovered it, forsake it, that to thy ignorance pardon may easily be given; and that with a clear face thou mayest say to God, "Remember not the sins of my youth, and of my ignorance." [812] Thus he seeketh it, thus he feareth lest he find it; for he seeketh it deceitfully. When saith a man, I knew not that it was sin? When he hath seen that it is sin, and ceaseth to do the sin, which he did only because he was ignorant: such an one in truth would know his sin, to find it out, and hate it. But now many "work deceitfully to find out their iniquity:" they work not from their heart to find it out and hate it. But because in the very search after iniquity, there is deceit, in the finding it there will be defence of it. For when one hath found his iniquity, lo now it is manifest to him that it is iniquity. Do it not, thou sayest. And he who wrought deceitfully to find it out, now he hath found, hateth it not; for what saith he? How many do this! Who is there that doth it not? And will God destroy them all? Or at least he saith this: if God would not these things to be done, would men live who commit the same? Seest thou that thou didst work deceitfully to find out thy iniquity? For if not deceitfully but sincerely thou hadst wrought, thou wouldest now have found it out, and hated it; now thou hast found it out, and thou defendest it; therefore thou didst work deceitfully, when thou soughtest it.

3. "The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he would not understand, that he might do good" (ver. 3). Ye see that he attributeth that to the will: for there are men who would understand and cannot, and there are men who would not understand, and therefore understand not. "He would not understand, that he might do good."

4. "He hath meditated iniquity on his bed." What said He, "On his bed?" (ver. 4). "The ungodly hath said in himself, that he will sin:" what above he said, in himself, that here he said, "On his bed." Our bed is our heart: there we suffer the tossing of an evil conscience; and there we rest when our conscience is good. Whoso loveth the bed of his heart, let him do some good therein. There is our bed, where the Lord Jesus Christ commands us to pray. "Enter into thy chamber, and shut thy door." [813] What is, "Shut thy door?" Expect not from God such things as are without, but such as are within; "and thy Father which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." Who is he that shutteth not the door? He who asketh much from God such things, and in such wise directeth all his prayers, that he may receive the goods that are of this world. Thy door is open, the multitude seeth when thou prayest. What is it to shut thy door? To ask that of God, which God alone knoweth how He giveth. What is that for which thou prayest, when thou hast shut the door? What "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, or hath entered into the heart of man." [814] And haply it hath not entered into thy very bed, that is, into thy heart. But God knoweth what He will give: but when shall it be? When the Lord shall be revealed, when the Judge shall appear....

5. "He hath set himself in every way that is not good." What is, "he hath set himself"? He hath sinned perseveringly. Whence also of a certain pious and good man it is said, "He hath not stood in the way of sinners." [815] As this "hath not stood," so that "hath set himself." "But wickedness hath he not hated." There is the end, there the fruit: if a man cannot but have wickedness, let him at least hate it. For when thou hatest it, it scarcely occurs to thee to do any wickedness. For sin is in our mortal body, but what saith the Apostle? "Let not sin reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof." [816] When beginneth it not to be therein? When that shall be fulfilled in us which he saith, "When this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality." [817] Before this come to pass, there is a delighting in sin in the body, but greater is the delighting and the pleasure in the Word of Wisdom, in the Commandment of God. Overcome sin and the lust thereof. Sin and iniquity do thou hate, that thou mayest join thyself to God, who hateth it as well as thou. Now being joined in mind unto the Law of God, in mind thou servest the Law of God. And if in the flesh thou therefore servest [818] the law of sin, [819] because there are in thee certain carnal delightings, then will there be none when thou shalt no longer fight. It is one thing not to fight, and to be in true and lasting peace; another to fight and overcome; another to fight and to be overcome; another not to fight at all, but to be carried away....

6. "Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens, and Thy truth reacheth even unto the clouds" (ver. 5). I know not what Mercy of Him he meaneth, which is in the heavens. For the Mercy of the Lord is also in the earth. Thou hast it written, "The earth is full of the Mercy of the Lord." [820] Of what Mercy then speaketh He, when He saith, "Thy Mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens"? The gifts of God are partly temporal and earthly, partly eternal and heavenly. Whoso for this worshippeth God, that he may receive those temporal and earthly goods, which are open to all, is still as it were like the brutes: he enjoyeth indeed the Mercy of God, but not that which is excepted, which shall not be given, save only to the righteous, to the holy, to the good. What are the gifts which abound to all? "He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust." [821] Who hath not this Mercy of God, first that he hath being, that he is distinguished from the brutes, that he is a rational animal, so as to understand God; secondly, that he enjoys this light, this air, rain, fruits, diversity of seasons, and all the earthly comforts, health of body, the affection of friends, the safety of his family? All these are good, and they are God's gifts....

7. But this man rightly understood what mercy he should pray for from God. "Thy Mercy, O Lord, is in the Heavens; and Thy Truth reacheth even to the clouds." That is, the Mercy which Thou givest to Thy Saints, is Heavenly, not earthly; is Eternal, not temporal. And how couldest Thou declare it unto men? Because "Thy Truth reacheth even unto the clouds." For who could know the Heavenly Mercy of God, unless God should declare it unto men? How did He declare it? By sending His truth even unto the clouds. What are the clouds? The Preachers of the Word of God....Truth reached even to the clouds: therefore unto us could be declared the Mercy of God, which is in Heaven and not in earth. And truly, Brethren, the clouds are the Preachers of the Word of Truth. When God threateneth through His Preachers, He thunders through the clouds. When God worketh miracles through His Preachers, He lightneth through the clouds, He terrifieth through the clouds, and watereth by the rain. Those Preachers, then, by whom is preached the Gospel of God, are the clouds of God. Let us then hope for Mercy, but for that which is in the Heavens.

8. "Thy Righteousness is like the mountains of God: Thy Judgments are a great deep" (ver. 6). Who are the mountains of God? Those who are called clouds, the same are also the mountains of God. The great Preachers are the mountains of God. And as when the sun riseth, he first clothes the mountains with light, and thence the light descends to the lowest parts of the earth: so our Lord Jesus Christ, when He came, first irradiated the height of the Apostles, first enlightened the mountains, and so His Light descended to the valley of the world. And therefore saith He in a certain Psalm, "I lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains, from whence cometh my help." [822] But think not that the mountains themselves will give thee help: for they receive what they may give, give not of their own. And if thou remain in the mountains, thy hope will not be strong: but in Him who enlighteneth the mountains, ought to be thy hope and presumption. Thy help indeed will come to thee through the mountains, because the Scriptures are administered to thee through the mountains, through the great Preachers of the Truth: but fix not thy hope in them. Hear what He saith next following: "I lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains, from whence cometh my help." What then? Do the mountains give thee help? No; hear what follows, "My help cometh from the Lord, which made Heaven and earth." [823] Through the mountains cometh help, but not from the mountains. From whom then? "From the Lord, which made Heaven and earth."...

9. "Thy Judgments are like the great abyss." The abyss he calleth the depth of sin, whither every one cometh by despising God; as in a certain place it is said, "God gave them over to their own hearts' lusts, to do the things which are not convenient." [824] ...Because then they were proud and ungrateful, they were held worthy to be delivered up to the lusts of their own hearts, and became a great abyss, so that they not only sinned, but also worked craftily, lest they should understand their iniquity, and hate it. That is the depth of wickedness, to be unwilling to find it out and to hate it. But how one cometh to that depth, see; "Thy Judgments are the great abyss." As the mountains are by the Righteousness of God, [825] who through His Grace become great: so also through His Judgments come they unto the depth, who sink lowest. By this then let the mountains delight thee, by this turn away from the abyss, and turn thyself unto that, of which it is said, "My help cometh from the Lord." But whereby? "I have lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains." What meaneth this? I will speak plainly. [826] In the Church of God thou findest an abyss, thou findest also mountains; thou findest there but few good, because the mountains are few, the abyss broad; that is, thou findest many living ill after the wrath of God, because they have so worked that they are delivered up to the lusts of their own heart; so now they defend their sins and confess them not; but say, Why? What have I done? Such an one did this, and such an one did that. Now will they even defend what the Divine Word reproves. This is the abyss. Therefore in a certain place [827] saith the Scripture (hear this abyss), "The sinner when he cometh unto the depth of sin despiseth." See, "Thy Judgments are like the great abyss." But yet not art thou a mountain; not yet art thou in the abyss; fly from the abyss, tend towards the mountains; but yet remain not on the mountains. "For thy help cometh from the Lord, which made Heaven and earth."

10. Because he said, Thy Mercy is in the Heavens, that it may be known to be also on earth, he said, "O Lord, Thou savest man and beast, [828] as Thy Mercy is multiplied, O God" (ver. 7). Great is Thy Mercy, and manifold is Thy Mercy, O God; and that showest Thou both to man and beast. For from whom is the saving of men? From God. Is not the saving of beasts also from God? For He who made man, made also beasts; He who made both, saveth both; but the saving of beasts is temporal. But there are who as a great thing ask this of God, which He hath given to beasts. "Thy Mercy, O God, is multiplied," so that not only unto men, but unto beasts also is given the same saving which is given to men, a carnal and temporal saving.

11. Have not men then somewhat reserved with God, which beasts deserve not, and whereunto beasts arrive not? They have evidently. And where is that which they have. "The children of men put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings." Attend, my Beloved, to this most pleasant sentence; "Thou savest man and beast." First, he spake of "man and beast," then of "the children of men;" as though "men" were one, "the children of men" other. Sometimes in Scripture children of men is said generally of all men, sometimes in some proper manner, with some proper signification, so that not all men are understood; chiefly when there is a distinction. For not without reason is it here put; "O Lord, Thou savest man and beast: but the children of men;" as though setting aside the first, he keepeth separate the children of men. Separate from whom? Not only from beasts, but also from men, who seek from God the saving of beasts, and desire this as a great thing. Who then are the children of men? Those who put their trust under the shadow of His wings. For those men together with beasts rejoice in possession, but the children of men rejoice in hope: those follow after present goods with beasts, these hope for future goods with Angels....

12. "They shall be satiated [829] with the fulness of Thy House" (ver. 8). He promiseth us some great thing. He would speak it, and He speaketh it not. Can He not, or do not we receive it? I dare, my Brethren, to say, even of holy tongues and hearts, by which Truth is declared to us, that it can neither be spoken, which they declared, nor even thought of. For it is a great thing, and ineffable; and even they saw through a glass darkly, as saith the Apostle, "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face." [830] Lo, they who saw through a glass darkly, thus burst forth. What then shall we be, when we shall see face to face? That with which they travailed in heart, and could not with their tongue bring forth, that men might receive it. For what necessity was there that he should say, "They shall be satiated with the fulness of Thy House"? He sought a word whereby to express from human things what he would say; and because he saw that men drowning themselves in drunkenness receive indeed wine without measure, but lose their senses, he saw what to say; for when shall have been received that ineffable joy, then shall be lost in a manner the human soul, it shall become Divine, and be satiated with the fulness of God's House. Wherefore also in another Psalm it is said, "Thy cup inebriating, how excellent is it!" [831] With this cup were the Martyrs satiated when going to their passion, they knew not their own. What so inebriated as not to know a wife weeping, not children, not parents? They knew them not, they thought not that they were before their eyes. Wonder not: they were inebriated. Wherewith were they so? Lo, they had received a cup wherewith they were satiated. Wherefore he also gives thanks to God, saying, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits towards me? I will take the cup of Salvation, and call upon the Name of the Lord." [832] Therefore, Brethren of men, let us be children and let us trust under the shadow of His wings and be satiated with the fulness of His House. As I could, I have spoken; and as far as I can I see; and how far I see, I cannot speak. [833] "And of the torrent of Thy Pleasure shalt Thou give them to drink." A torrent we call water coming with a flood. There will be a flood of God's Mercy to overflow and inebriate those who now put their trust under the shadow of His wings. What is that Pleasure? As it were a torrent inebriating the thirsty. Let him then who thirsts now, lay up hope: whoso thirsts now, let him have hope; when inebriated, he shall have possession: before he have possession, let him thirst in hope. "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." [834]

13. With what fountain then wilt thou be overflowed, and whence runneth such a torrent of His Pleasure? "For with Thee," saith he, "is the fountain of Life." What is the fountain of Life, but Christ? He came to thee in the flesh, that He might bedew thy thirsty lips: He will satisfy thee trusting, who bedewed thee thirsting. "For with Thee is the fountain of Life; in Thy Light shall we see light" (ver. 9). Here a fountain is one thing, light another: there not so. For that which is the Fountain, the same is also Light: and whatever thou wilt thou callest It, for It is not what thou callest It: for thou canst not find a fit name: for It remaineth not in one name. If thou shouldest say, that It is Light only, it would be said to thee, Then without cause am I told to hunger and thirst, for who is there that eateth light? It is said to me plainly, directly, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." [835] If It is Light, my eyes must I prepare. Prepare also lips; for That which is Light is also a Fountain: a Fountain, because It satisfieth the thirsty: Light, because It enlighteneth the blind. Here sometimes, light is in one place, a fountain in another. For sometimes fountains run even in darkness; and sometimes in the desert thou sufferest the sun, findest no fountain: here then can these two be separated: there thou shalt not be wearied, for there is a Fountain; there thou shalt not be darkened, for there is Light.

14. "Show forth Thy Mercy unto them that know Thee; Thy Righteousness to them that are of a right heart" (ver. 10). As I have said, Those are of a right heart who follow in this life the Will of God. The will of God is sometimes that thou shouldest be whole, sometimes that thou shouldest be sick. If when thou art whole God's Will be sweet, and when thou art sick God's Will be bitter; thou art not of a right heart. Wherefore? Because thou wilt not make right thy will according to God's Will, but wilt bend God's Will to thine. That is right, but thou art crooked: thy will must be made right to That, not That made crooked to thee; and thou wilt have a right heart. It is well with thee in this world; be God blessed, who comforteth thee: it goeth hardly with thee in this world; be God blessed, because He [836] chasteneth and proveth thee; and so wilt thou be of a right heart, saying, "I will bless the Lord at all times: His Praise shall be ever in my mouth." [837]

15. "Let not the foot of pride come against me" (ver. 11). But now he said, The children of men shall put their trust under the shadow of Thy wings: they shall be satiated with the fulness of Thy House. When one hath begun to be plentifully overflowed with that Fountain, let him take heed lest he grow proud. For the same was not wanting to Adam, the first man: but the foot of pride came against him, and the hand of the sinner removed him, that is, the proud hand of the devil. As he who seduced him, said of himself, "I will sit in the sides of the north;" [838] so he persuaded him, by saying, "Taste, and ye shall be as gods." [839] By pride then have we so fallen as to arrive at this mortality. And because pride had wounded us, humility maketh us whole. God came humbly, that from such great wound of pride He might heal man. He came, for "The Word was made Flesh, and dwelt among us." [840] He was taken by the Jews; He was reviled of them. Ye heard when the Gospel was read, what they said, and to Whom they said, "Thou hast a devil:" [841] and He said not, Ye have a devil, for ye are still in your sins, and the devil possesseth your hearts. He said not this, which if He had said, He had said truly: but it was not meet that He should say it, lest He should seem not to preach Truth, but to retort evil speaking. He let go what He heard as though He heard it not. For a Physician was He, and to cure the madman had He come. As a Physician careth not what he may hear from the madman; but how the madman may recover and become sane; nor even if he receive a blow from the madman, careth he; but while he to him giveth new wounds, he cureth his old fever: so also the Lord came to the sick man, to the madman came He, that whatever He might hear, whatever He might suffer, He should despise; by this very thing teaching us humility, that being taught by humility, we might be healed from pride: from which he here prayeth to be delivered, saying, "Let not the foot of pride come against me; neither let the hand of the sinner remove me." For if the foot of pride come, the hand of the sinner removeth. What is the hand of the sinner? The working of him that adviseth ill. Hast thou become proud? Quickly he corrupteth thee who adviseth ill. Humbly fix thyself in God, and care not much what is said to thee. Hence is that which is elsewhere spoken, "From my secret sins cleanse Thou me; and from others' sins also keep Thy servant." [842] What is, "From my secret sins"? "Let not the foot of pride come against me." What is, "From other men's sins also keep Thy servant"? "Let not the hand of the wicked remove me." Keep that which is within, and thou shalt not fear from without.

16. But wherefore so greatly fearest thou this? Because it is said, "Thereby have fallen all that work iniquity" (ver. 12); so that they have come into that abyss of which it is said, "Thy judgments are like the great abyss:" so that they have come even to that deep wherein sinners who despise have fallen. "Have fallen." Whereby did they first fall? By the foot of pride. Hear the foot of pride. "When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God." Therefore came against them the foot of pride, whereby they came into the depth. "God gave them over to their own hearts' lusts, to do those things which are not convenient." [843] The root of sin, and the head of sin feared he who said, "Let not the foot of pride come against me." Wherefore said he, "the foot"? Because by walking proudly man deserted God, and departed from Him. His foot, called he his affection. "Let not the foot of pride come against me: let not the hand of the wicked remove me:" that is, let not the works of the wicked remove me from Thee, that I should wish to imitate them. But wherefore said he this against pride, "Thereby have fallen all that work iniquity"? Because those who now are ungodly, have fallen by pride. Therefore when the Lord would caution His Church, He said, "It shall watch thy head, and thou shalt watch [844] his heel." [845] The serpent watcheth when the foot of pride may come against thee, when thou mayest fall, that he may cast thee down. But watch thou his head: the beginning of all sin is pride. [846] "Thereby have fallen all that work iniquity: they are driven out, and are not able to stand." He first, who in the Truth stood not, then, through him, they whom God sent out of Paradise. Whence he, the humble, who said that he was not worthy to unloose His shoe's latchet, is not driven out, but standeth and heareth Him, and rejoiceth greatly because of the Bridegroom's voice; [847] not because of his own, lest the foot of pride come against him, and he be driven out, and be not able to stand....

Footnotes

[810] Lat. XXXV. [811] Wisd. ix. 15. [Here cited as Scripture, but only deuterocanonical (as St. Jerome testifies), illustrating the Law and the Prophets, but not of authority in itself.--C.] [812] Ps. xxv. 7. [813] Matt. vi. 6. [814] Isa. lxiv. 4; 1 Cor. ii. 9. [815] Ps. i. 1. [816] Rom. vi. 12. [817] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [818] i.e., "art subject to it," not "obeyest it." He is not here speaking of actual wilful sin, but of motions toward sin to which the man does not consent. [Concupiscence, art. ix. Angl. XXXIX. Articles.--C.] [819] Rom. vii. 25. [820] Ps. xxxiii. 5. [821] Matt. v. 45. [822] Ps. cxxi. 1. [823] Ps. cxxi. 2. [824] Rom. i. 28. [825] Al. "The Righteousness of God is like the mountains." [826] LatinŔ. [827] Prov. xviii. 3. [828] [In Vulgate and Septuagint this is included in verse 6. The English Version agrees with the text as here connected.--C.] [829] [I cannot but change the word "drunken" here for one more decent and equally faithful. But note "sober inebriety," p. 75, supra.--C.] [830] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [831] Ps. xxiii. 5, LXX. [832] Ps. cxvi. 12, 13. [833] [To spiritualize inebriation seems a difficult task; but as in heraldry we introduce the boar and the serpent for other qualities than their filth and their venom, so here the suggestion is explained by a reference to Acts ii. 13-18 and Eph. v. 18, 19.--C.] [834] Matt. v. 6. [835] Matt. v. 6, 8. [836] Al. "Who." [837] Ps. xxxiv. 1. [838] Isa. xiv. 13. [839] Gen. iii. 5. [840] John i. 34. [841] John viii. 48. [This was then the Gospel for the day, or one of the Lessons.--C.] [842] Ps. xix. 12, 13. [843] Rom. i. 21-24. [844] Lat. observabit. [845] Gen. iii. 15. [846] Ecclus. x. 13. [847] John i. 27, iii. 29. .


Psalm XXXVII. [848]

On the first part of the psalm.

1. With terror do they hear of the coming of the last day, who will not be secure by living well: and who fain would live ill, long. But it was for useful purposes that God willed that day to remain unknown; that the heart may be ever ready to expect that of which it knows it is to come, but knows not when it is to come. Seeing, however, that our Lord Jesus Christ was sent to us to be our "Master," [849] He said, that "of the day not even the Son of Man knew," [850] because it was not part of His office as our Master that through Him it should become known to us. For indeed the Father knoweth nothing that the Son knoweth not; since that is the Very Knowledge of the Father Itself, which is His Wisdom; now His Son, His Word, is "His Wisdom." But because it was not for our good to know that, which however was known to Him who came indeed to teach us, though not to teach us that which it was not good for us to know, He not only, as a Master, taught us something, but also, as a Master, left something untaught. For, as a Master, He knew how both to teach us what was good for us, and not to teach us what was injurious. Now thus, according to a certain form of speech, the Son [851] is said not to know what He does not teach: that is, in the same way that we are daily in the habit of speaking, He is said not to know what He causes us not to know. [852] ...

2. This it is that disturbs you who are a Christian; that you see men of bad lives prospering, and surrounded with abundance of things like these; you see them sound in health, distinguished with proud honours; you see their family unvisited by misfortune; the happiness of their relatives, the obsequious attendance of their dependants, their most commanding influence, their life uninterrupted by any sad event; you see their characters most profligate, their external resources most affluent; and your heart says that there is no Divine judgment; that all things are carried to and fro by accidents, and blown about in disorderly and irregular motions. For if God, thou sayest, regarded human affairs, would his iniquity flourish, and my innocence suffer? Every sickness of the soul hath in Scripture its proper remedy. Let him then whose sickness is of that kind that he says in his heart things like these, let him drink this Psalm by way of potion....

3. "Be not envious because of evil-doers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity" (ver. 1). "For they shall soon wither like the grass, and shall fade like the herbs of the meadow" (ver. 2). That which to thee seemeth long, is "soon" in the sight of God. Conform [853] thou thyself to God; and it will be "soon" to thee. That which he here calls "grass," that we understand by the "herbs of the meadow." They are some worthless things, occupying the surface only of the ground, they have no depth of root. In the winter then they are green; but when the summer sun shall begin to scorch, they will wither away. For now it is the season of winter. Thy glory doth not as yet appear. But if thy love hath but a deep root, like that of many trees during winter, the frost passes away, the summer (that is, the Day of Judgment) will come; then will the greenness of the grass wither away. Then will the glory of the trees appear. "For ye" (saith the Apostle) "are dead," [854] even as trees seem to be in winter, as it were dead, as it were withered. What is our hope then, if we are dead? The root is within; where our root is, there is our life also, for there our love is fixed. "And your life is hid with Christ in God." [855] When shall he wither who is thus rooted? But when will our spring be? When our summer? When will the honour of foliage clothe us around, and the fulness of fruit make us rich? When shall this come to pass? Hear what follows: "When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." And what then shall we do now? "Be not envious because of the evil-doers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon wither like the grass, and fade like the herb of the meadow."

4. What shouldest thou do then? "Trust in the Lord" (ver. 3). For they too trust, but not "in the Lord." Their hope is perishable. Their hope is short-lived, frail, fleeting, transitory, baseless. "Trust thou in the Lord." "Behold," thou sayest, "I do trust; what am I to do?"

"And do good." Do not do that evil which thou beholdest in those men, who are prosperous in wickedness. "Do good, and dwell in the land." Lest haply thou shouldest be doing good without "dwelling in the land." For it is the Church that is the Lord's land. It is her whom He, the Father, the tiller of it, waters and cultivates. For there are many that, as it were, do good works, but yet, in that they do not "dwell in the land," they do not belong to the husbandman. Therefore do thou thy good, not outside of the land, but do thou "dwell in the land." And what shall I have?

"And thou shalt be fed in its riches." What are the riches of that land? Her riches are her Lord! Her riches are her God! He it is to whom it is said, "The Lord is the portion of mine inheritance, and of my cup." [856] In a late discourse we suggested to you, dearly beloved, that God is our possession, [857] and that we are at the same time God's possession. Hear how that He is Himself the riches of that land.

"Delight thyself in the Lord" (ver. 4). As if thou hadst put the question, and hadst said "Show me the riches of that land, in which thou biddest me dwell," he says, "Delight thyself in the Lord."

5. "And He shall give thee the desires of thine heart." Understand in their proper signification, [858] "the desires of thine heart." Distinguish the "desires of thine heart" from the desires of thy flesh; distinguish as much as thou canst. It is not without a meaning that it is said in a certain Psalm, "God is" (the strength) "of mine heart." For there it says in what follows: "And God is my portion for ever." For instance: One labours under bodily blindness. He asks that he may receive his sight. Let him ask it; for God does that too, and gives those blessings also. But these things are asked for even by the wicked. This is a desire of the flesh. One is sick, and prays to be made sound. From the point of death he is restored to health. That too is a desire of the flesh, as are all of such a kind. What is "the desire of the heart"? As the desire of the flesh is to wish to have one's eyesight restored, to enable him, that is, to see that light, which can be seen by such eyes; so "the desire of the heart" relates to a different sort of light. For, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Delight thou thyself in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."

6. "Behold" (you say), "I do long after it, I do ask for it, I do desire it. Shall I then accomplish it?" No. Who shall then? "Reveal thy way unto the Lord: trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass" (ver. 5). Mention to Him what thou sufferest, mention to Him what thou dost desire. For what is it that thou sufferest? "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh." [859] What is it then that thou dost desire? "Wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" [860] And because it is He "Himself" that "will bring it to pass," when thou shalt have "revealed thy ways unto Him;" hear what follows: "The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." What is it then that He is to bring to pass, since it is said, "Reveal thy way unto Him, and He will bring it to pass"? What will He bring to pass?

"And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light" (ver. 6). For now, "thy righteousness" is hid. Now it is a thing of faith; not yet of sight. You believe something that you may do it. You do not yet see that in which you believe. But when thou shalt begin to see that, which thou didst believe before, "thy righteousness will be brought forth to the light," because it is thy faith that was [861] thy righteousness. For "the just lives by faith."

7. "And He shall bring forth thy judgment as the noon-day." That is to say, "as the clear light." It was too little to say, "as the light." For we call it "light" already, even when it but dawns: we call it light even while the sun is rising. But never is the light brighter than at mid-day. Therefore He will not only "bring forth thy righteousness as the light," but "thy judgment shall be as the noon-day." For now dost thou make thy "judgment" to follow Christ. This is thy purpose: this is thy choice: this is thy "judgment."...

8. "What should I do then?" Hear what thou shouldest do. "Submit thee to the Lord, and entreat Him" (ver. 7). Be this thy life, to obey His commandments. For this is to submit thee to Him; and to entreat Him until He give thee what He hath promised. Let good works "continue;" [862] let prayer "continue." For "men ought always to pray, and not to faint." [863] Wherein dost thou show that thou art "submitted to Him"? In doing what He hath commanded. But haply thou dost not receive thy wages as yet, because as yet thou art not able. For He is already able to give them; but thou art not already able to receive them. Exercise thou thyself in works. Labour in the vineyard; at the close of the day crave thy wages. "Faithful is He" who brought thee into the vineyard. "Submit thee to the Lord, and entreat Him."

9. "See! I do so; I do `submit to the Lord, and I do entreat.' But what do you think? That neighbour of mine is a wicked man, living a bad life, and prosperous! His thefts, adulteries, robberies, are known to me. Lifted up above every one, proud, and raised on high by wickedness, he deigns not to notice me. In these circumstances, how shall I hold out with patience?" This is a sickness; drink, by way of remedy. "Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way." He prospereth, but it is "in his way:" thou sufferest, but it is in God's way! His portion is prosperity on his way, misery on arriving at its end: yours, toil on the road, happiness in its termination. "The Lord knoweth the way of the righteous; and the way of the ungodly shall perish." [864] Thou walkest those ways which "the Lord knoweth," and if thou dost suffer toil in them, they do not deceive thee. The "way of the ungodly" is but a transitory happiness; at the end of the way the happiness is at an end also. Why? Because that way is "the broad road;" its termination leads to the pit of hell. Now, thy way is narrow; and "few there be" that enter in through it: [865] but into how ample a field it comes at the last, thou oughtest to consider. "Fret not thyself at him who prospereth in his way; because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass."

"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath" (ver. 8). Wherefore art thou wroth? Wherefore is it that, through that passion and indignation, thou dost blaspheme, or almost blaspheme? Against "the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass, cease from anger, and forsake wrath." Knowest thou not whither that wrath tempts thee on? Thou art on the point of saying unto God, that He is unjust. It tends to that. "Look! why is that man prosperous, and this man in adversity?" Consider what thought it begets: stifle the wicked notion. "Cease from anger, and forsake wrath:" so that now returning to thy senses, thou mayest say, "Mine eye is disturbed because of wrath." [866] What eye is that, but the eye of faith? To the eye of thy faith I appeal. [867] Thou didst believe in Christ: why didst thou believe? What did He promise thee? If it was the happiness of this world that Christ promised thee, then murmur against Christ; yes! murmur against Him, when thou seest the wicked flourishing. What of happiness did He promise? What, save in the Resurrection of the Dead? But what in this life? That which was His portion. His portion, I say! Dost thou, servant and disciple, disdain what thy Lord, what thy Master bore?...

"For evil-doers shall be cut off" (ver. 9). "But I see their prosperity." Believe Him who saith, "they shall be cut off;" Him who seeth better than thou, since His eye anger cannot cloud. "For evil-doers shall be cut off. But those that wait upon the Lord,"--not upon any one that can deceive them; but verily on Him who is the Truth itself,--"But those that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the land." What "land," but that Jerusalem, with the love of which whosoever is inflamed, shall come to peace at the last.

10. "But how long is the sinner to flourish? How long shall I have to endure?" Thou art impatient; [868] that which seems long to thee, will soon come to pass. It is infirmity makes that seem long, which is really short, as is found in the case of the longings of sick men. Nothing seems so long as the mixing of the potion for him when athirst. For all that his attendants are making all speed, lest haply the patient be angry; "When will it be done? (he cries). When will it be drest? When will it be served?" Those who are waiting upon you are making haste, but your infirmity fancies that long which is being done with expedition. Behold ye, therefore, our Physician complying with the infirmity of the patient, saying, "How long shall I have to endure? How long will it be?"

"Yet a little while, and the sinner shall not be" (ver. 10). Is it certainly among sinners, and because of the sinner, that thou murmurest? "A little while, and he shall not be." Lest haply because I said, "They that wait upon the Lord, they shall inherit the land," thou shouldest think that waiting to be of very long duration. Wait "a little while," thou shalt receive without end what thou waitest for. A little while, a moderate space. Review the years from Adam's time up to this day; run through the Scriptures. It is almost yesterday that he fell from Paradise! So many ages have been measured out, and unrolled. [869] Where now are the past ages? Even so, however, shall the few which remain, pass away also. Hadst thou been living throughout all that time, since Adam was banished from Paradise up to this present day, thou wouldest certainly see that the life, which had thus flown away, had not been of long duration. But how long is the duration of each individual's life? Add any number of years you please: prolong old age to its longest duration: what is it? Is it not but a morning breeze? Be it so, however, that the Day of Judgment is far off, when the reward of the righteous and of the unrighteous is to come: your last day at all events cannot be far off. Make thyself ready against this! For such as thou shall have departed from this life, shalt thou be restored to the other. At the close of that short life, you will not yet be, where the Saints shall be, to whom it shall be said, "Come, ye blessed of My Father: inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of the world." [870] You will not yet be there? Who does not know that? But you may already be there, where that beggar, once "covered with sores," was seen at a distance, at rest, by that proud and unfruitful "rich man" in the midst of his torments. [871] Surely hid in that rest thou waitest in security for the Day of Judgment, when thou art to receive again a body, to be changed so as to be made equal to an Angel. How long then is that for which we are impatient, and are saying, "When will it come? Will it tarry long?" This our sons will say hereafter, and our sons' sons will say too; and, though each one of these in succession will say this same thing, that "little while" that is yet to be, passes away, as all that is already past hath passed away already! O thou sick one! "Yet a little while, and the sinner shall not be. Yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and thou shalt not find him."...

11. "But the meek shall inherit the land" [872] (ver. 11). That land is the one of which we have often spoken, the holy Jerusalem, which is to be released from these her pilgrimages, and to live for ever with God, and on God. Therefore, "They shall inherit the land." What shall be their delight? "And they shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Let the ungodly man delight himself here in the multitude of his gold, in the multitude of his silver, in the multitude of his slaves, in the multitude, lastly, of his baths, his roses, his intoxicating wines, his most sumptuous and luxurious banquets. Is this the power thou enviest? Is this the glory that delights thee? Would not his fate be worthy to be deplored, even if he were to be so for ever? What shall be thy delights? "And they shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace." Peace shall be thy gold. Peace shall be thy silver. Peace shall be thy lands. Peace shall be thy life, thy God Peace. Peace shall be to thee whatsoever thou dost desire....

Footnotes

[848] Lat. XXXVI. This is a sermon which was delivered at Carthage, as well as the two following. It should be noticed that in the life of St. Fulgentius, c. 3, we are told that, "having some time before resolved with himself to renounce the world, he was so roused and moved by St. Augustin's exposition of this Psalm that he determined to make his vow public, and earnestly desired to adopt the religious habit."--Ben. [849] Magister Magisterio. Master, in sense of teacher or guide; Kathegetes, in Matt. xxiii. 8, being in the Latin translated "Magister," as in English, "Master." [850] Mark xiii. 32. [851] Al. "Son of Man," as below. [852] [Here he enlarges; but our common use of the word "ignore" sufficiently explains the use here. We ignore what it is needless to say.--C.] [853] Subjunge. [854] Col. iii. 3. [855] Col. iii. 3. [856] Ps. xvi. 5. [857] See Disc. 2 (omitted) on Ps. 33, delivered at Carthage in the Church of St. Cyprian. [858] Signanter accipe. [859] Gal. v. 17. [860] Rom. vii. 24. [861] Al. "shall be." [862] Perseveret, alluding to a word in the portion omitted. Matt. xxiv. 13. [863] Luke xviii. 1. [864] Ps. i. 6. [865] Matt. vii. 13, 14. [866] Ps. vi. 7. [867] Interrogo. [868] Festinas. [869] [Few consider how very short is the span of all human history. Daily we read of men and women who live a hundred years. Eighteen such lives go back to the age of Christ and His Apostles. Official lives of fifty years are not uncommon, and six-and-thirty such cover the entire Christian era.--C.] [870] Matt. xxv. 34. [871] Luke xvi. 20, 23. [872] [Comp. St. Matt. v. 5. The earlier Fathers believed in the "regeneration" of this earth. See A.N.F. vol. i. 240, 435, and (Apocryphal Revelation) viii. 584, vii. 218, 254, iv. 211, 212, 218, and conversely, 274, 275. Our author, after sharing this early opinion, gave it up, and founded a new school.--C.]


On the Second Part of the Psalm. [873]

1. Then follow these words: "The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon him with his teeth" (ver. 12): "But the Lord shall laugh at him" (ver. 13). At whom? Surely at the sinner, "gnashing upon" the other "with his teeth." But wherefore shall the Lord "laugh at him"? "For He foreseeth that his day is coming." He seems indeed full of wrath, while, ignorant of the morrow that is in store for him, he is threatening the just. But the Lord beholds and "foresees his day." "What day?" That in which "He will render to every man according to his works." For he is "treasuring up unto himself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God." [874] But it is the Lord that foresees it; thou dost not foresee it. It hath been revealed to thee by Him who foresees it. Thou didst not know of the "day of the unrighteous," in which he is to suffer punishment. But He who knows it hath revealed it to thee. It is a main part of knowledge to join thyself to Him who hath knowledge. He hath the eyes of knowledge: have thou the eyes of a believing mind. That which God "sees," be thou willing to believe. For the day of the unjust, which God foresees, will come. What day is that? The day for all vengeance! For it is necessary that vengeance should be taken upon the ungodly, that vengeance be taken upon the unjust, whether he turn, or whether he turn not. For if he shall turn from his ways, that very thing, that his "injustice is come to an end," is the infliction of vengeance....

2. "The wicked have drawn out the sword, and have bent their bow, to cast down the poor and needy, and to slay such as be of upright heart" (ver. 14). "Their weapon shall enter into their own heart" (ver. 15). It is an easy thing for his weapon, that is, his sword, to reach thy body, even as the sword of the persecutors reached the body of the Martyrs, but when the body had been smitten, "the heart" remained unhurt; but his heart who "drew out the sword against" the body of the just did not clearly remain unhurt. This is attested by this very Psalm. It saith, Their weapon, that is, "Their sword shall," not go into their body, but, "their weapon shall go into their own heart." They would fain have slain him in the body. Let them die the death of the soul. For those whose bodies they sought to kill, the Lord hath freed from anxiety, saying, "Fear not them who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul." [875] ...

3. "And their bows shall be broken." What is meant by, "And their bows shall be broken"? Their plots shall be frustrated. For above He had said, "The wicked have drawn out the sword and bent their bows." By the "drawing out of the sword" he would have understood open hostility; but by the" bending of the bow," secret conspiracies. See! His sword destroys himself, and his laying of snares is frustrated. What is meant by frustrated? That it does no mischief to the righteous. How then, for instance (you ask), did it do no mischief to the man, whom it thus stripped of his goods, whom it reduced to straitened circumstances by taking away his possessions? He has still cause to sing, "A little that a righteous man hath, is better than great riches of the ungodly" (ver. 16).

4. ..."For the arms of the wicked shall be broken" (ver. 17). Now by "their arms" is meant their power. What will he do in hell? Will it be what the rich man had to do, he who was wont "to fare sumptuously" in the upper world, and in hell "was tormented"? [876] Therefore their arms shall be broken; "but the Lord upholdeth the righteous." How does He "uphold" them? What saith He unto them? Even what is said in another Psalm, "Wait on the Lord, be of good courage; and let thine heart be strengthened. Wait, I say, on the Lord." [877] What is meant by this, "Wait on the Lord"? Thou sufferest but for a time; thou shalt rest for ever: thy trouble is short; thy happiness is to be everlasting. It is but for "a little while" thou art to sorrow; thy joy shall have no end. But in the midst of trouble does thy "foot" begin to "slip"? The example even of Christ's sufferings is set before thee. Consider what He endured for thee, in whom no cause was found why He should endure it? How great soever be thy sufferings, thou wilt not come to those insults, those scourgings, to that robe of shame, to that crown of thorns, and last of all to that Cross, which He endured; because that is now removed from the number of human punishments. [878] For though under the ancients criminals were crucified, in the present day no one is crucified. It was honoured, and it came to an end. It came to an end as a punishment; it is continued in glory. It hath removed from the place of execution to the foreheads of Emperors. He who hath invested His very sufferings with such honour, what doth He reserve for His faithful servants?...

5. But observe whether that was fulfilled in his case which the Psalm now speaks of. "The Lord strengtheneth the righteous.--Not only so" (saith that same Paul, whilst suffering many evils), "but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience; and experience hope; but hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." [879] Justly is it said by him, now righteous, now "strengthened." As therefore those who persecuted him did no harm to him, when now "strengthened," so neither did he himself do any harm to those whom he persecuted. "But the Lord," he saith, "strengtheneth the righteous."...

6. Therefore "the Lord does strengthen the righteous." In what way does He strengthen them? "The Lord knoweth the ways [880] of the spotless ones" (ver. 18). When they suffer ills, they are believed to be walking ill ways by those who are ignorant, by those who have not knowledge to discern "the ways of the spotless ones." He who "knoweth those ways," knoweth by what way to lead His own, "them that are gentle," in the right way. Whence in another Psalm he said, "The meek shall He guide in judgment; them that are gentle will He teach His way." [881] How, think you, was that beggar, who lay covered with sores before the rich man's door, [882] spurned by the passers by! How did they, probably, close their nostrils and spit at him! The Lord, however, knew how to reserve [883] Paradise for him. How did they, on the other hand, desire for themselves the life of him who was "clad in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day!" [884] But the Lord, who foresaw that man's "day coming," knew the torments, the torments without end, that were in store for him. Therefore "The Lord knoweth the ways of the upright."

7. "And their inheritance shall be for ever" (ver. 18). This we hold by faith. Doth the Lord too know it by faith? The Lord knoweth those things with as clear a manifestation, as we cannot speak of even when we shall be made equal to the Angels. For the things that shall be manifest to us, shall not be equally manifest to us as they are now to Him, who is incapable of change. Yet even of us ourselves what is said? "Beloved, now are we the sons of God: and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." [885] There is therefore surely some blissful vision reserved for us; and if it can be now in some measure conceived, "darkly and through a glass," [886] yet cannot we in any way express in language the ravishing beauty of that bliss, which God reserves for them that fear Him, which He consummates in those that hope in Him. It is for that destination that our hearts are being disciplined in all the troubles and trials of this life. Wonder not that it is in trouble that thou art disciplined for it. It is for something glorious that thou art being disciplined. Whence comes that speech of the now strengthened righteous man: "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us"? [887] What is that promised glory to be, but to be made equal to the Angels and to see God? How great a benefit doth he bestow on the blind man, who makes his eyes sound so as to be able to see the light of this life....What reward then shall we give unto that Physician who restores soundness to our inward eyes, to enable them to see a certain eternal Light, which is Himself?...

8. "They shall not be ashamed in the evil time" (ver. 19). In the day of trouble, in the day of distress, they shall not be "ashamed," as he is ashamed whose hope deceives him. Who is the man that is "ashamed"? He who saith, "I have not found that which I was in hopes of." Nor undeservedly either; for thou didst hope it from thyself or from man, thy friend. But "cursed is he that putteth his trust in man." [888] Thou art ashamed, because thy hope hath deceived thee; thy hope that was set on a lie. For "every man is a liar." [889] But if thou dost place thy hopes on thy God, thou art not made "ashamed." For He in whom thou hast put thy trust, cannot be deceived. [890] Whence also the man whom we mentioned just above, the now "strengthened" righteous man, when fallen on an evil time, on the day of tribulation, what saith he to show that he was not "ashamed"? "We glory in tribulation; knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope; but hope maketh not ashamed." Whence is it that hope "maketh not ashamed"? Because it is placed on God. Therefore follows immediately, "Because the love of God is spread in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given unto us." [891] The Holy Spirit hath been given to us already: how should He deceive us, of whom we possess such an "earnest" already? "They shall not be ashamed in the evil time, and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied."...

9. "For the wicked shall perish. But the enemies of the Lord, when they shall begin to glory, and to be lifted up, immediately shall consume away utterly, even as the smoke" (ver. 20). Recognise from the comparison itself the thing which he intimates. Smoke, breaking forth from the place where fire has been, rises up on high, and by the very act of rising up, it swells into a large volume: but the larger that volume is, the more unsubstantial does it become; for from that very largeness of volume, which has no foundation or consistency, but is merely loose, shifting and evanescent, it passes into air, and dissolves; so that you perceive its very largeness to have been fatal to it. For the higher it ascends, the farther it is extended, the wider the circumference which it spreads itself over, the thinner, and the more rare and wasting and evanescent does it become. "But the enemies of the Lord, when they shall begin to glory, and to be lifted up, immediately shall consume away utterly even as the smoke." Of such as these was it said, "As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the Truth; men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith." [892] But how is it that they resist the Truth, except by the vain inflation of their swelling pride, while they raise themselves up on high, as if great and righteous persons, though on the point of passing away into empty air? But what saith he of them? As if speaking of smoke, he says, "They shall proceed no farther, for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, even as theirs also was."...

10. "The wicked borroweth, and payeth not again" (ver. 20). He receiveth, and will not repay. What is it he will not repay? Thanksgiving. For what is it that God would have of thee, what doth He require of thee, except that He may do thee good? And how great are the benefits which the sinner hath received, and which he will not repay! He hath received the gift of being; he hath received the gift of being a man; and of a being highly distinguished above the brutes; he hath received the form of a body, and the distinction of the senses in the body, eyes for seeing, ears for hearing, the nostrils for smelling, the palate for tasting, the hands for touching, and the feet for walking; and even the very health and soundness of the body. But up to this point we have these things in common even with the brute; he hath received yet more than this; a mind capable of understanding, capable of Truth, capable of distinguishing right from wrong; capable of seeking after, of longing for, its Creator, of praising Him, and fixing itself upon Him. All this the wicked man hath received as well as others; but by not living well, he fails to repay that which he owes. Thus it is, "the wicked borroweth, and payeth not again:" he will not requite Him from whom he hath received; he will not return thanks; nay, he will even render evil for good, blasphemies, murmuring against God, indignation. Thus it is that he "borroweth, and payeth not again; but the righteous showeth mercy, and lendeth" (ver. 21). The one therefore hath nothing; the other hath. See, on the one side, destitution: see, on the other, wealth. The one receiveth and "payeth not again:" the "other showeth mercy, and lendeth:" and he hath more than enough. What if he is poor? Even so he is rich; do you but look at his riches with the eyes of Religion. For thou lookest at the empty chest; but dost not look at the conscience, that is full of God....

11. "For such as shall bless Him [893] shall inherit the land" (ver. 23), that is, [894] they shall possess that righteous One: the only One who both is truly righteous, and maketh righteous: who both was poor in this world, and brought great riches to it, wherewith to make those rich whom He found poor. For it is He who hath enriched the hearts of the poor with the Holy Spirit; and having emptied out their souls by confession of sins, hath filled them with the richness of righteousness: He who was able to enrich the fisherman, who, by forsaking his nets, spurned what he possessed already, but sought to draw up what he possessed not. For "God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." [895] And it was not by an orator that He gained to Himself the fisherman; but by the fisherman that He gained to Himself the orator; by the fisherman that He gained the Senator; by the fisherman that He gained the Emperor. For "such as shall bless Him shall inherit the land;" they shall be fellow-heirs with Him, in that "land of the living," of which it is said in another Psalm, "Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living." [896] ...

12. Observe what follows: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord; and he delighteth in His way" (ver. 23). That man may himself "delight in the Lord's way," his steps are ordered by the Lord Himself. For if the Lord did not order the steps of man, so crooked are they naturally, that they would always be going through crooked paths, and by pursuing crooked ways, would be unable to return again. He however came, and called us, and redeemed us, and shed His blood; He hath given this ransom; He hath done this good, and suffered these evils. Consider Him in what He hath done, He is God! Consider Him in what He hath suffered, He is Man! Who is that God-Man? Hadst not thou, O man, forsaken God, God would not have been made Man for thee! For that was too little for thee to requite, or for Him to bestow, that He had made thee man; unless He Himself should become Man for thee also. For it is He Himself that hath "ordered our steps;" that we should "delight in His way."...

13. Now if man were to be through the whole of his life in toil, and in sufferings, in pain, in tortures, in prison, in scourgings, in hunger, and in thirst, every day and every hour through the whole length of life, to the period of old age, yet the whole life of man is but a few days. That labour being over, there is to come the Eternal Kingdom; there is to come happiness without end; there is to come equality with the Angels; there is to come Christ's inheritance, and Christ, our "joint Heir," [897] is to come. How great is the labour, for which thou receivest so great a recompense? The Veterans who serve in the wars, and move in the midst of wounds for so many years, enter upon the military service from their youth, and quit it in old age: and to obtain a few days of repose in their old age, when age itself begins to weigh down those whom the wars do not break down, how great hardships do they endure; what marches, what frosts, what burning suns; what privations, what wounds, and what dangers! And while suffering all these things, they fix their thoughts on nothing but those few days of repose in old age, at which they know not whether they will ever arrive. Thus it is, the "steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord, and he delighteth in His way." This is the point with which I commenced. If thou dost "delight in the way" of Christ, and art truly a Christian (for he is a Christian indeed who does not despise the way of Christ, but "delighteth in" following Christ's "way" through His sufferings), do not thou go by any other way than that by which He Himself hath also gone. It appears painful, but it is the very way of safety; another perhaps is delightful, but it is full of robbers. "And he delighteth in His way."

14. "Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth his hand" (ver. 24). See what it is "to delight in" Christ's "way." Should it happen that he suffers some tribulation; some forfeiture of honour, some affliction, some loss, some contumely, or all those other accidents incident to mankind frequently in this life, he sets the Lord before him, what kind of trials He endured! and, "though he fall he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord upholdeth his hand," because He has suffered before him. For what shouldest thou fear, O man, whose steps are ordered so, that thou shouldest "delight in the way of the Lord"? What shouldest thou fear? Pain? Christ was scourged. Shouldest thou fear contumelies? He was reproached with, "Thou hast a devil," [898] who was Himself casting out the devils. Haply thou fearest faction, and the conspiracy of the wicked. Conspiracy was made against Him. Thou canst not make clear the purity of thy conscience in some accusation, and sufferest wrong and violence, because false witnesses are listened to against thee. False witness was borne against Him first, not only before His death, but also after His resurrection....

Footnotes

[873] Preached at another time. [874] Rom. ii. 6, 5. [875] Matt. x. 28. [876] Luke xvi. 19, 23. [877] Ps. xxvii. 14. [878] [Sozomen, b. i. cap. 8. This author tells us that Constantine made this change, dictated alike by reverence and humanity.--C.] [879] Rom. v. 3-5. [880] E.V. and Vulgate, "days." [881] Ps. xxv. 9. [882] Luke xvi. 20. [883] Al. "knew that Paradise was in store." [884] Luke xvi. 19. [885] 1 John iii. 2. [886] 1 Cor. xiii. 12. [887] Rom. viii. 18. [888] Jer. xvii. 5. [889] Ps. cxvi. 11. [890] Al. "deceive." [891] Rom. v. 3-5. [892] 2 Tim. iii. 8. [893] E.V. "such as be blessed." [894] Scilicet, Ben. Conj. for sicut. [895] 1 Cor. i. 27. [896] Ps. cxlii. 5. [897] Rom. viii. 17. [898] John vii. 20, viii. 48.


On the Third Part of the Psalm. [899]

1. "I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread" (ver. 25).

If it is spoken but in the person of one single individual, how long is the whole life of one man? And what is there wonderful in the circumstance, that a single man, fixed in some one part of the earth, should not, throughout the whole space of his life, being so short as man's life is, have ever seen "the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread," although he may have advanced from youth to age. It is not anything worthy of marvel; for it might have happened, that before his lifetime there should have been some "righteous man seeking bread;" it might have happened, that there had been some one in some other part of the earth not where he himself was. Hear too another thing, which makes an impression upon us. Any single one among you (look you) who has now grown old, may perhaps, when, looking back upon the past course of his life, he turns over in his thoughts the persons whom he has known, not find any instance of a righteous man begging bread, or of his seed begging bread, suggest itself to him; but nevertheless he turns to the inspired Scriptures, and finds that righteous Abraham was straitened, and suffered hunger in his own country, and left that land for another; he finds too that the son of the very same man, Isaac, removed to other countries in search of bread, for the same cause of hunger. And how will it be true to say, "I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread"? And if he finds this true in the duration of his own life, he finds it is otherwise in the inspired writings, which are more trustworthy than human life is.

2. What are we to do then? Let us be seconded by your pious attention, so that we may discern the purpose of God in these verses of the Psalm, what it is He would have us understand by them. For there is a fear, lest any unstable person, not capable of understanding the Scriptures spiritually, should appeal to human instances, and should observe the virtuous servants of God to be sometimes in some necessity, and in want, so as to be compelled to beg bread: should particularly call to mind the Apostle Paul, who says, "In hunger and thirst; in cold and nakedness;" [900] and should stumble thereat, saying to himself, "Is that certainly true [901] which I have been singing? Is that certainly true, which I have been sounding forth in so devout a voice, standing in church? `I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.'" Lest he should say in his heart, "Scripture deceives us;" and all his limbs should be paralyzed to good works: and when those limbs within him, those limbs of the inner man, shall have been paralyzed (which is the more fearful paralysis), he should henceforth leave off from good works, and say to himself, "Wherefore do I do good works? Wherefore do I break my bread to the hungry, and clothe the naked, and take home to mine house him who hath no shelter, [902] putting faith in that which is written? `I have never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread;' whereas I see so many persons who live virtuously, yet for the most part suffering from hunger. But if perhaps I am in error in thinking the man who is living well, and the man who is living ill, to be both of them living well, and if God knows him to be otherwise; that is, knows him, whom I think just, to be unjust, what am I to make of Abraham's case, who is commended by Scripture itself as a righteous person? What am I to make of the Apostle Paul, who says, `Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.' [903] What? that I should myself be in evils such as he endured, `In hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness'?" [904]

3. Whilst therefore he thus thinks, and whilst his limbs are paralyzed to the power of good works, can we, my brethren, as it were, lift up the sick of the palsy; and, as it were, "lay open the roof" of this Scripture, and let him down before the Lord. [905] For you observe that it is obscure. If obscure therefore, it is covered. And I behold a certain patient paralytic in mind, and I see this roof, and am convinced that Christ is concealed beneath the roof. Let me, as far as I am able, do that which was praised in those who opened the roof, and let down the sick of the palsy before Christ; that He might say unto him, "Son, be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee." [906] For it was so that He made the inner man whole of his palsy, by loosing his sins, by binding fast his faith....

4. But who is "the righteous" man, who "hath never been seen forsaken, nor his seed begging bread"? If you understand what is meant by "bread," you understand who is meant by him. For the "bread" is the Word of God, which never departs from the righteous man's mouth....See now if "holy meditation doth `keep thee'" in the rumination of this bread, then "hast thou never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread."

5. "He is always merciful, and lendeth" (ver. 26). "Foeneratur" is used in Latin indeed, both for him who lendeth, and for him who borroweth. But in this passage the meaning is more plain, if we express it by "foenerat." What matters it to us, what the grammarians please to rule? It were better for us to be guilty of a barbarism, so that ye understand, than that in our propriety of speech ye be left unprovided. Therefore, that "righteous man is all day merciful, and (foenerat) lendeth." Let not the lenders of money on usury, however, rejoice. For we find it is a particular kind of lender that is spoken of, as it was a particular kind of bread; that we may, in all passages, "remove the roof," and find our way to Christ. I would not have you be lenders of money on usury; and I would not have you be such for this reason, because God would not have you....Whence does it appear that God would not have it so? It is said in another place, "He that putteth not out his money to usury." [907] And how detestable, odious, and execrable a thing it is, I believe that even usurers themselves know. Again, on the other hand, I myself, nay rather our God Himself bids thee be an usurer, and says to thee, "Lend unto God." If thou lendest to man, hast thou hope? and shalt thou not have hope, if thou lendest to God? If thou hast lent thy money on usury to man, that is, if thou hast given the loan of thy money to one, from whom thou dost expect to receive something more than thou hast given, not in money only, but anything, whether it be wheat, or wine, or oil, or whatever else you please, if you expect to receive more than you have given, you are an usurer, and in this particular are not deserving of praise, but of censure. "What then," you say, "am I to do, that I may `lend' profitably?" Consider what the usurer does. He undoubtedly desires to give a less sum, and to receive a larger; do thou this also; give thou a little, receive much. See how thy principal grows, and increases! Give "things temporal," receive "things eternal:" give earth, receive heaven! And perhaps thou wouldest say, "To whom shall I give them?" The self-same Lord, who bade thee not lend on usury, comes forward as the Person to whom thou shouldest lend on usury! Hear from Scripture in what way thou mayest "lend unto the Lord." "He that hath pity on the poor, lendeth unto the Lord." [908] For the Lord wanteth not aught of thee. But thou hast one who needs somewhat of thee: thou extendest it to him; he receives it. For the poor hath nothing to return to thee, and yet he would himself fain requite thee, and finds nothing wherewith to do it: all that remains in his power is the good-will that desires to pray for thee. Now when the poor man prays for thee, he, as it were, says unto God, "Lord, I have borrowed this; be Thou surety for me." Then, though you have no bond on the poor man to compel his repayment, yet you have on a sponsible security. See, God from His own Scriptures saith unto thee; "Give it, and fear not; I repay it. It is to Me thou givest it." In what way do those who make themselves sureties for others, express themselves? What is it that they say? "I repay it: I take it upon myself. It is to me you are giving it." Do we then suppose that God also says this, "I take it on Myself. It is unto me thou givest it"? Assuredly, if Christ be God, of which there is no doubt, He hath Himself said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat." [909] And when they said unto Him, "When saw we Thee hungry?" [910] that He might show Himself to be the Surety for the poor, that He answers for all His members, that He is the Head, they the members, and that when the members receive, the Head receiveth also; He says, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these that belong to Me, ye have done it unto Me." [911] Come, thou covetous usurer, consider what thou hast given; consider what thou art to receive. Hadst thou given a small sum of money, and he to whom thou hadst given it were to give thee for that small sum a great villa, worth incomparably more money than thou hadst given, how great thanks wouldest thou render, with how great joy wouldest thou be transported! Hear what possession He to whom thou hast been lending bestows. "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive" [912] --What? The same that they have given? God forbid! What you gave were earthly things, which, if you had not given them, would have become corrupted on earth. For what could you have made of them, if you had not given them? That which on earth would have been lost, has been preserved in heaven. Therefore what we are to receive is that which hath been preserved. It is thy desert that hath been preserved, thy desert hath been made thy treasure. For consider what it is that thou art to receive. Receive--"the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." On the other hand, what shall be their sentence, who would not "lend"? "Go ye into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels." [913] And what is the kingdom which we receive called? Consider what follows: "And these shall go into everlasting burning; but the righteous into life eternal." [914] Make interest for this; purchase this. Give your money on usury to earn this. You have Christ throned in heaven, begging on earth. We have discovered in what way the righteous lendeth. "He is alway merciful, and lendeth."

6. "And his seed is blessed." Here too let not any carnal notion suggest itself. We see many of the sons of the righteous dying of hunger; in what sense then will his seed be blessed? His seed is that which remains of him afterwards; that wherewith he soweth here, and will hereafter reap. For the Apostle says, "Let us not be weary in well-doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore time," he says, "let us do good unto all men." [915] This is that "seed" of thine which shall "be blessed." You commit it to the earth, and gather ever so much more; and dost thou lose it in committing it to Christ? See it expressly termed "seed" by the Apostle, when he was speaking of alms. For this he saith; "He which soweth sparingly, shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth in blessings, [916] shall also reap in blessings." [917] ...

7. Observe therefore what follows, and be not slothful. "Depart from evil, and do good" (ver. 27). Do not think it to be enough for thee to do, if thou dost not strip the man who is already clothed. For in not stripping the man who is already clothed, thou hast indeed "departed from evil:" but do not be barren, and wither. So choose not to strip the man who is clothed already, as to clothe the naked. For this is to "depart from evil, and to do good." And you will say, "What advantage am I to derive from it?" He to whom thou lendest has already assured thee of what He will give thee. He will give thee everlasting life. Give to Him, and fear not! Hear too what follows: "Depart from evil, and do good, and dwell for evermore." And think not when thou givest that no one sees thee, or that God forsakes thee, when haply after thou hast given to the poor, and some loss, or some sorrow for the property thou hast lost, should follow, and thou shouldest say to thyself, "What hath it profited me to have done good works? I believe God doth not love the men who do good." Whence comes that buzz, that subdued murmur among you, except that those expressions are very common? Each one of you at this present moment recognises these expressions, either in his own lips, or on those of his friend. May God destroy them; may He root out the thorns from His field; may He plant "the good seed," and "the tree bearing fruit"! For wherefore art thou afflicted, O man, that thou hast given some things away to the poor, and hast lost certain other things? Seest thou not that it is what thou hast not given, that thou hast lost? Wherefore dost thou not attend to the voice of thy God? Where is thy faith? wherefore is it so fast asleep? Wake it up in thy heart. Consider what the Lord Himself said unto thee, while exhorting thee to good works of this kind: "Provide yourselves bags which wax not old; a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth." [918] Call this to mind therefore when you are lamenting over a loss. Wherefore dost thou lament, thou fool of little mind, or rather of unsound mind? Wherefore didst thou lose it, except that thou didst not lend it to Me? Wherefore didst thou lose it? Who has carried it off? Thou wilt answer, "A thief." Was it not this, that I forewarned thee of? that thou shouldest not lay it up where the thief could approach? If then he who has lost anything, grieves, let him grieve for this, that he did not lay it up there, whence it could not be lost.

8. "For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not His Saints" (ver. 28). When the Saints suffer affliction, think not that God doth not judge, or doth not judge righteously. Will He, who warns thee to judge righteously, Himself judge unrighteously? He "loveth judgment, and forsaketh not His Saints." But (think) how [919] the "life" of the Saints is "hid with Him," in such a manner, that who now suffer trouble on earth, like trees in the winter-time, having no fruit and leaves, when He, like a newly-risen sun, shall have appeared, that which before was living in their root, will show itself forth in fruits. He does then "love judgment, and doth not forsake His Saints."...

9. "But the unrighteous shall be punished; the seed of the wicked shall be cut off." Just as the "seed of the" other "shall be blessed," so shall the "seed of the wicked be cut off." For the "seed" of the wicked is the works of the wicked. For again, on the other hand, we find the son of the wicked man flourish in the world, and sometimes become righteous, and flourish in Christ. Be careful therefore how thou takest it; that thou mayest remove the covering, and make thy way to Christ. [920] Do not take the text in a carnal sense; for thou wilt be deceived. But "the seed of the wicked"--all the works of the wicked--"will be cut off:" they shall have no fruit. For they are effective indeed for a short time; afterwards they shall seek for them, and shall not find the reward of that which they have wrought. For it is the expression of those who lose what they have wrought, that text which says, "What hath pride profited us, or what good hath riches with our vaunting brought us? All those things are passed away like a shadow." [921] "The seed of the wicked," then, "shall be cut off."

10. "The righteous shall inherit the land" (ver. 29). Here again let not covetousness steal on thee, nor promise thee some great estate; hope not to find there, what you are commanded to despise in this world. That "land" in the text, is a certain "land of the living," the kingdom of the Saints. Whence it is said: "Thou art my hope, my portion in the land of the living." [922] For if thy life too is the same life as that there spoken of, think what sort of "land" thou art about to inherit. That is "the land of the living;" this the land of those who are about to die: to receive again, when dead, those whom it nourished when living. Such then as is that land, such shall the life itself be also: if the life be for ever, "the land" also is to be thine "for ever." And how is "the land" to be thine "for ever"?

"And they shall dwell therein" (it says) "for ever." It must therefore be another land, where "they are to dwell therein for ever." For of this land (of this earth) it is said, "Heaven and earth shall pass away." [923]

11. "The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom" (ver. 30). See here is that "bread." Observe with what satisfaction this righteous man feedeth upon it; how he turns wisdom over and over in his mouth. "And his tongue talketh of judgment."

"The law of his God is in his heart" (ver. 31). Lest haply thou shouldest think him to have that on his lips, which he hath not in his heart, lest thou shouldest reckon him among those of whom it is said, "This people honour Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me." [924] And of what use is this to him?

"And none of his steps shall slide." The "word of God in the heart" frees from the snare; the "word of God in the heart" delivers from the evil way; "the word of God in the heart" delivers from "the slippery place." [925] He is with thee, Whose word departeth not from thee. Now what evil doth he suffer, whom God keepeth? Thou settest a watchman in thy vineyard, and feelest secure from thieves; and that watchman may sleep, and may himself fall, and may admit a thief. But "He who keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." [926] "The law of his God is in his heart, and none of his steps shall slide." Let him therefore live free from fear; let him live free from fear even in the midst of the wicked; free from fear even in the midst of the ungodly. For what evil can the ungodly or unrighteous man do to the righteous? Lo! see what follows.

"The wicked watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him" (ver. 32). For he says, what it was foretold in the book of Wisdom that he should say, "He is grievous unto us, even to behold; for his life is not like other men's." [927] Therefore he "seeks to slay him." What? Doth the Lord, who keepeth him, who dwelleth with him, who departeth not from his lips, from his heart, doth He forsake him? What then becomes of what was said before: "And He forsaketh not His Saints"? [928]

12. "The wicked therefore watcheth the righteous, and seeketh to slay him. But the Lord will not leave him in his hands" (ver. 33). Wherefore then did He leave the Martyrs in the hands of the ungodly? Wherefore did they do unto them "whatsoever they would"? [929] Some they slew with the sword; some they crucified; some they delivered to the beasts; some they burnt by fire; others they led about in chains, till wasted out by a long protracted decay. Assuredly "the Lord forsaketh not His Saints." He will not "leave him in his hands." Lastly, wherefore did He leave His own Son in "the hands of the ungodly"? Here also, if thou wouldest have all the limbs of thy inner man made strong, remove the covering of the roof, and find thy way to the Lord. Hear what another Scripture, foreseeing our Lord's future suffering at the hands of the ungodly, saith. What saith it? "The earth is given into the hands of the wicked." [930] What is meant by "earth" being "given into the hands of the ungodly"? The delivering of the flesh into the hands of the persecutors. But God did not leave "His righteous One" [931] there: from the flesh, which was taken captive, He leads forth the soul unconquered....

"The Lord will not leave him in his hand, nor condemn him when there shall be judgment for him" (ver. 33). Some copies have it, "and when He shall judge him, there shall be judgment for him." "For him," however, means when sentence is passed upon him. For we can express ourselves so as to say to a person, "Judge for me," i.e. "hear my cause." When therefore God shall begin to hear the cause of His righteous servant, since "we must all" be presented "before the tribunal of Christ," and stand before it to receive every one "the things he hath done in this body," [932] whether good or evil, when therefore he shall have come to that Judgment, He will not condemn him; though he may seem to be condemned in this present life by man. Even though the Proconsul may have passed sentence on Cyprian, [933] yet the earthly seat of judgment is one thing, the heavenly tribunal is another. From the inferior tribunal he receives sentence of death; from the superior one a crown, "Nor will He condemn him when there shall be judgment for him."

13. "Wait on the Lord" (ver. 34). And while I am waiting upon Him, what am I to do?--"and keep His ways." And if I keep them, what am I to receive? "And He shall exalt thee to inherit the land." "What land"? Once more let not any estate suggest itself to your mind:--the land of which it is said, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." [934] What of those who have troubled us, in the midst of whom we have groaned, whose scandals we have patiently endured, for whom, while they were raging against us, we have prayed in vain? What will become of them? What follows? "When the wicked are cut off, thou shall see it."...

"I have seen the ungodly lifted up on high, and rising above the cedars of Libanus" (ver. 35). And suppose him to be "lifted up on high;" suppose him to be towering above the "rest;" what follows?

"I passed by, and, lo, he was not! I sought him, and his place could nowhere be found!" (ver. 36). Why was he "no more, and his place nowhere to be found"? Because thou hast "passed by." But if thou art yet carnally-minded, and that earthly prosperity appears to thee to be true happiness, thou hast not yet "passed by" him; thou art either his fellow, or thou art below him; go on, and pass him; and when thou hast made progress, and hast passed by him, thou observest him by the eye of faith; thou seest his end, thou sayest to thyself, "Lo! he who so swelled before, is not!" just as if it were some smoke that thou wert passing near to. For this too was said above in this very Psalm, "They shall consume and fade away as the smoke." [935] ...

14. "Keep innocency" (ver. 37); keep it even as thou usedst to keep thy purse, when thou wert covetous; even as thou usedst to hold fast that purse, that it might not be snatched from thy grasp by the thief, even so "keep innocency," lest that be snatched from thy grasp by the devil. Be that thy sure inheritance, of which the rich and the poor may both be sure. "Keep innocency." What doth it profit thee to gain gold, and to lose innocence?

"Keep innocency, and take heed unto the thing which is right." Keep thou thine eyes "right," that thou mayest see "the thing which is right;" not perverted, wherewith thou lookest upon the wicked; not distorted, so that God should appear to thee distorted and wrong, in that He favours the wicked, and afflicts the faithful with persecutions. Dost thou not observe how distorted thy vision is? Set right thine eyes, and "behold the thing that is right." What "thing that is right"? Take no heed of things present. And what wilt thou see?

"For there is a remainder for the man that maketh peace." [936] What is meant by "there is a remainder"? When thou art dead, thou shalt not be dead. This is the meaning of "there is a remainder." He will still have something remaining to him, even after this life, that is to say, that "seed," which "shall be blessed." Whence our Lord saith, "He that believeth on Me, though he die, yet shall he live;" [937] --"seeing there is a remainder for the man that maketh peace."

15. "But the transgressors shall be destroyed in the self-same thing" [938] (ver. 38). What is meant by, "in the self-same thing"? It means for ever: or all together in one and the same destruction.

"The remainder of the wicked shall be cut off." Now there is "(a remainder) for the man that maketh peace:" they therefore who are not peace-makers [939] are ungodly. For, "Blessed are the peace-makers: for they shall be called the children of God." [940]

16. "But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord, and He is their strength in the time of trouble" (ver. 39). "And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the sinners" [941] (ver. 40). At present therefore let the righteous bear with the sinner; let the wheat bear with the tares; let the grain bear with the chaff: for the time of separation will come, and the good seed shall be set apart from that which is to be consumed with fire. [942] The one will be consigned to the garner, the other to "everlasting burning;" for it was for this reason that the just and the unjust were at the first together; that the one should lay a stumbling-block, [943] that the other should be proved; that afterwards the one should be condemned, the other receive a crown....

Footnotes

[899] On another day. [900] 2 Cor. xi. 27. [901] Al. vanum, "Is it not false." [902] Isa. lviii. 7. [903] 1 Cor. xi. 1. [904] 2 Cor. xi. 27. [905] Luke v. 19. [906] Luke v. 20. [907] Ps. xv. 5. [This intricate subject is nowhere more ably handled than by M. Huet in his RŔgne Social du Christianisme, cap. ix. p. 317, Paris, 1853.--C.] [908] Prov. x. 17. [909] Matt. xxv. 35. [910] Matt. xxv. 37. [911] Matt. xxv. 40. [912] Matt. xxv. 34. [913] Matt. xxv. 41. [914] Matt. xxv. 46. [915] Gal. vi. 9, 10. [916] In benedictionibus (ep' eulogiais), Rec. text; E.V. "bountifully." [917] 2 Cor. ix. 6. [918] Luke xii. 33. [919] "that now," gives a better sense, or quo modo, "in such sort that." [920] Luke v. 19. [921] Wisd. v. 8, 9. [922] Ps. cxlii. 5. [923] Matt. xxiv. 35. [924] Isa. xxix. 13. [925] Labinâ. Lubricus locus. Isidor. [926] Ps. cxxi. 4. [927] Wisd. ii. 15. [928] Ps. xxxvii. 28. [929] Matt. xvii. 12. [930] Job ix. 24. [931] Ps. xvi. 10. [932] 2 Cor. v. 10. [933] [See A.N.F. vol. V. p. 273.--C.] [934] Matt. xxv. 34. [935] Ps. xxxvii. 20. [936] E.V. "For the end of that man is peace." [937] John xi. 25. [938] In id ipsum. [939] The Donatists. [940] Matt. v. 9. [941] St. Augustin omits, "because they trust in Him." Vulgate has, quia speraverunt in eo. [942] Matt. xiii. 30. [943] Most mss. "should stumble." .


Psalm XXXVIII. [944]

A psalm to David himself, on the remembrance of the Sabbath.

1. What doth this recollection of the Sabbath mean? What is this Sabbath? For it is with groaning that he "calls it to recollection." You have both heard already when the Psalm was read, and you will now hear it when we shall go over it, how great is his groaning, his mourning, his tears, his misery. But happy he who is wretched after this manner! Whence the Lord also in the Gospel [945] called some who mourn blessed. "How should he be blessed if he is a mourner? How blessed, if he is miserable?" Nay rather, he would be miserable, if he were not a mourner. Such an one then let us understand here too, calling the Sabbath to remembrance (viz.), some mourner or other: and would that we were ourselves that "some one or other"! For there is here some person sorrowing, groaning, mourning, calling the Sabbath to remembrance. The Sabbath is rest. Doubtless he was in some disquietude, who with groaning was calling the Sabbath to remembrance....

2. "O Lord, rebuke me not in Thine indignation; neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure" (ver. 1). For it will be that some shall be chastened in God's "hot displeasure," and rebuked in His "indignation." And haply not all who are "rebuked" will be "chastened;" yet are there some that are to be saved in the chastening. [946] So it is to be indeed, because it is called "chastening," [947] but yet it shall be "so as by fire." But there are to be some who will be "rebuked," and will not be "corrected." For he will at all events "rebuke" [948] those to whom He will say, "I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat." [949] ... "Neither chasten me in Thy hot displeasure;" so that Thou mayest cleanse me in this life, and make me such, that I may after that stand in no need of the cleansing fire, for those "who are to be saved, yet so as by fire." [950] Why? Why, but because they "build upon the foundation, wood, stubble, and hay." Now they should build on it, "gold, silver, and precious stones;" [951] and should have nothing to fear from either fire: not only that which is to consume the ungodly for ever, but also that which is to purge those who are to escape through [952] the fire. For it is said, "he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire." And because it is said, "he shall be saved," that fire is thought lightly of. For all that, though we should be "saved by fire," yet will that fire be more grievous than anything that man can suffer in this life whatsoever. [953] ...

3. Now on what ground does this person pray that he may not be "rebuked in indignation, nor chastened in hot displeasure"? (He speaks) as if he would say unto God, "Since the things which I already suffer are many in number, I pray Thee let them suffice;" and he begins to enumerate them, by way of satisfying God; offering what he suffers now, that he may not have to suffer worse evils hereafter.

4. "For Thine arrows stick fast in me, and Thy hand presseth me sore" (ver. 2). "There is no soundness in my flesh, from the face of Thine anger" (ver. 3). He has now begun telling these evils, which he is suffering here: and yet even this already was from the wrath of the Lord, because it was of the vengeance of the Lord. "Of what vengeance?" That which He took upon Adam. For think not that punishment was not inflicted upon him, or that God had said to no purpose, "Thou shalt surely die;" [954] or that we suffer anything in this life, except from that death which we earned by the original sin....Whence then do His "arrows stick fast in" him? The very punishment, the very vengeance, and haply the pains both of mind and of body, which it is necessary for us to suffer here, these he describes by these self-same "arrows." For of these arrows holy Job also made mention, [955] and said that the arrows of the Lord stuck fast in him, whilst he was labouring under those pains. We are used, however, to call God's words also arrows; but could he grieve that he should be struck by these? The words of God are arrows, as it were, that inflame love, not pain....We may then understand the "arrows sticking fast," thus: Thy words are fixed fast in my heart; and by those words themselves is it come to pass, that I "called the Sabbath to remembrance:" and that very remembrance of the Sabbath, and the non-possession of it at present, prevents me from rejoicing at present; and causes me to acknowledge that there "is neither health in my very flesh," neither ought it to be so called when I compare this sort of soundness to that soundness which I am to possess in the everlasting rest; where "this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and this mortal shall put on immortality," [956] and see that in comparison with that soundness this present kind is but sickness.

5. "Neither is there any rest in my bones, from the face of my sin." It is commonly enquired, of what person this is the speech; and some understand it to be Christ's, on account of some things which are here said of the Passion of Christ; to which we shall shortly come; and which we ourselves shall acknowledge to be spoken of His Passion. But how could He who had no sin, say, "There is no rest in my bones, from the face of my sin."...For if we were to say that they are not the words of Christ, those words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" [957] will also not be the words of Christ. For there too you have, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" "The words of mine offences are far from my health." Just as here you have, "from the face of my sins," so there also you have, "the words of my offences." And if Christ is, for all that, without "sin," and without "offences," we begin to think those words in the Psalm also not to be His. And it is exceedingly harsh and inconsistent that that Psalm should not relate to Christ, where we have His Passion as clearly laid open as if it were being read to us out of the Gospel. For there we have, "They parted My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture." [958] Why should I mention that the first verse of that Psalm was pronounced by the Lord Himself while hanging on the Cross, with His own mouth, saying, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" What did He mean to be inferred from it, but that the whole of that Psalm relates to Him, seeing He Himself, the Head of His Body, pronounced it in His own Person? Now when it goes on to say, "the words of mine offences," it is beyond a doubt that they are the words of Christ. Whence then come "the sins," but from the Body, which is the Church? Because both the Head and the Body of Christ are speaking. Why do they speak as if one person only? Because "they twain," as He hath said, "shall be one flesh." [959] "This" (says the Apostle) "is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the Church."...For why should He not say, "my sins," who said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave Me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me not in. I was sick and in prison, and ye visited Me not." [960] Assuredly the Lord was not in prison. Why should He not say this, to whom when it was said, "When saw we Thee a hungred, and athirst, or in prison; and did not minister unto Thee?" He replied, that He spake thus in the person of His Body. "Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of Mine, ye did it not unto Me." [961] Why should He not say, "from the face of my sins," who said to Saul, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me," [962] who, however, being in Heaven, now suffered from no persecutors? But just as, in that passage, the Head spake for the Body, so here too the Head speaks the words of the Body; whilst you hear at the same time the accents of the Head Itself also. Yet do not either, when you hear the voice of the Body, separate the Head from it; nor the Body, when you hear the voice of the Head: because "they are no more twain, but one flesh." [963]

6. "There is no soundness in my flesh from the face of thine anger." But perhaps God is unjustly angry with thee, O Adam; unjustly angry with thee, O son of man; because now brought to acknowledge that thy punishment, now that thou art a man that hath been placed in Christ's Body, thou hast said, "There is no soundness in my flesh from the face of Thine anger." Declare the justice of God's anger: lest thou shouldest seem to be excusing thyself, and accusing Him. Go on to tell whence the "anger" of the Lord proceeds. "There is no soundness in my flesh from the face of Thine anger; neither is there any rest in my bones." He repeats what he said before, "There is no soundness in my flesh;" for, "There is no rest in my bones," is equivalent to this. He does not however repeat "from the face of Thine anger;" but states the cause of the anger of God. "There is no rest in my bones from the face of my sins."

7. "For mine iniquities have lifted up my head; and are like a heavy burden too heavy for me to bear" (ver. 4). Here too he has placed the cause first, and the effect afterwards. What consequence followed, and from what cause, he has told us. "Mine iniquities have lift up mine head." For no one is proud but the unrighteous man, whose head is lifted up. He is "lifted up," whose "head is lifted up on high" against God. You heard when the lesson of the Book of Ecclesiasticus was read: "The beginning of pride is when a man departeth from God." [964] He who was the first to refuse to listen to the Commandment, "his head iniquity lifted up" against God. And because his iniquities have lifted up his head, what hath God done unto him? They are "like a heavy burden, too heavy for me to bear"! It is the part of levity to lift up the head, just as if he who lifts up his head had nothing to carry. Since therefore that which admits of being lifted up is light, it receives a weight by which it may be weighed down. For "his mischief returns upon his own head, and his violent dealing comes down upon his own pate." [965] "They are like a heavy burden, too heavy for me to bear."

8. "My wounds stink and are corrupt" (ver. 5). Now he who has wounds is not perfectly sound. Add to this, that the wounds "stink and are corrupt." Wherefore do they "stink"? Because they are "corrupt:" now in what way this is explained in reference to human life, who doth not understand? Let a man but have his soul's sense of smelling sound, he perceives how foully sins stink. The contrary to which stink of sin, is that savour of which the Apostle says, "We are the sweet savour of Christ unto God, in every place, unto them which be saved." [966] But whence is this, except from hope? Whence is this, but from our "calling the Sabbath to remembrance"? For it is a different thing that we mourn over in this life, from that which we anticipate in the other. That which we mourn over is stench, that which we reckon upon is fragrance. Were there not therefore such a perfume as that to invite us, we should never call the Sabbath to remembrance. [967] But since, by the Spirit, we have such a perfume, as to say to our Betrothed, "Because of the savour of Thy good ointments we will run after Thee;" [968] we turn our senses away from our own unsavourinesses, and turning ourselves to Him, we gain some little breathing-time. But indeed, unless our evil deeds also did smell rank in our nostrils, we should never confess with those groans, "My wounds stink and are corrupt." And wherefore? "from the face of my foolishness." [969] From the same cause that he said before, "from the face of my sins;" from that same cause he now says, "from the face of my foolishness."

9. "I am troubled, I am bowed down even unto the end" (ver. 6). Wherefore was he "bowed down"? Because he had been "lifted up." If thou art "humble, thou shalt be exalted;" if thou exaltest thyself, thou shalt be "bowed down;" for God will be at no loss to find a weight wherewith to bow thee down....Let him groan on these things; that he may receive the other; let him "call the Sabbath to remembrance," that he may deserve to arrive at it. For that which the Jews used to celebrate was but a sign. Of what thing was it the sign? Of that which he calls to remembrance, who saith, "I am troubled, and am bowed down even unto the end." What is meant by even "unto the end"? Even to death.

"I go mourning all the day long." "All day long," that is, "without intermission." By "all the day long," he means, "all my life long." But from what time hath he known it? From the time that he began to "call the Sabbath to remembrance." For so long as he "calls to remembrance" what he no longer possesses, wouldest thou not have him "go mourning"? "All the day long have I gone mourning."

10. "For my soul is filled with illusions, and there is no soundness in my flesh" (ver. 7). Where there is the whole man, there there is soul and flesh both. The "soul is filled with illusions;" the flesh hath "no soundness." What does there remain that can give joy? Is it not meet that one should "go mourning"? "All the day long have I gone mourning." Let mourning be our portion, until our soul be divested of its illusions; and our body be clothed with soundness. For true soundness is no other than immortality. How great however are the soul's illusions, were I even to attempt to express, when would the time suffice me? For whose soul is not subject to them? There is a brief particular that I will remind you of, to show how our soul is filled with illusions. The presence of those illusions sometimes scarcely permits us to pray. We know not how to think of material objects without images, and such as we do not wish, rush in upon the mind; and we wish to go from this one to that, and to quit that for another. And sometimes you wish to return to that which you were thinking of before, and to quit that which you are now thinking of; and a fresh one presents itself to you; you wish to call up again what you had forgotten; and it does not occur to you; and another comes instead which you would not have wished for. Where meanwhile was the one that you had forgotten? For why did it afterwards occur to you, when it had ceased to be sought after; whereas, while it was being sought for, innumerable others, which were not desired, presented themselves instead of it? I have stated a fact briefly; I have thrown out a kind of hint or suggestion to you, brethren, taking up which, you may yourselves suggest the rest to yourselves, and discover what it is to mourn over the "illusions" of our "soul." He hath received therefore the punishment of illusion; he hath forfeited Truth. For just as illusion is the soul's punishment, so is Truth its reward. But when we were set in the midst of these illusions, the Truth Itself came to us, and found us overwhelmed by illusions, took upon Itself our flesh, or rather took flesh from us; that is, from the human race. He manifested himself to the eyes of the Flesh, that He might "by faith" heal those to whom He was going to reveal the Truth hereafter, that Truth might be manifested to the now healed eye. For He is Himself "the Truth," [970] which He promised unto us at that time, when His Flesh was to be seen by the eye, that the foundation might be laid of that Faith, of which the Truth was to be the reward. For it was not Himself that Christ showed forth on earth; but it was His Flesh that He showed. For had He showed Himself, the Jews would have seen and known Him; but had they "known Him, they would never have crucified the Lord of Glory." [971] But perhaps His disciples saw Him, when they said unto Him, "Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us;" [972] and He, to show that it was not Himself that had been seen by them, added: "Have I been so long with you, and have ye not known Me, Philip? He that seeth Me, seeth the Father also." [973] If then they saw Christ, wherefore did they yet seek for the Father? For if it were Christ whom they saw, they would have seen the Father also. They did not therefore yet see Christ, who desired that the Father should be shown unto them. To prove that they did not yet see Him, hear that, in another place, He promised it by way of reward, saying, "He who loveth Me, keepeth My commandments; and whoso loveth Me, shall be loved of My Father; and I will love Him and" (as if it were said to Him, "what wilt Thou give unto him, as Thou lovest him?" He saith), "I will manifest Myself unto him." [974] If then He promises this by way of a reward unto them that love Him, it is manifest that the vision of the Truth, promised to us, is of such a nature, that, when we have seen it, we shall no longer say, "My soul is filled with illusions."

11. "I am become feeble, [975] and am bowed down greatly" (ver. 8). He who calls to mind the transcendent height of the Sabbath, sees how "greatly" he is himself "bowed down." For he who cannot conceive what is that height of rest, sees not where he is at present. Therefore another Psalm hath said, "I said in my trance, I am cast out of the sight of Thine eyes." [976] For his mind being taken up thither, [977] he beheld something sublime; and was not yet entirely there, where what he beheld was; and a kind of flash, as it were, if one may so speak, of the Eternal Light having glanced upon him, when he perceived that he was not yet arrived at this, which he was able after a sort to understand, he saw where he himself was, and how he was cramped and "bowed down" by human infirmities. And he says, "I said in my trance, I am cast out of the sight of Thine eyes." Such is that certain something which I saw in my trance, that thence I perceive how far off I am, who am not already there. He was already there who said that he was "caught up into the third Heaven, and there heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." [978] But he was recalled to us, in order that, as requiring to be made perfect, he might first mourn his infirmity, and afterwards be clothed with might. Yet encouraged for the ministration of his office by having seen somewhat of those things, he goes on saying, "I heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter." [979] Now then what use is it for you to ask, either of me or of any one, the "things which it is not lawful for man to utter." If it was not lawful for him to utter them, to whom is it lawful to hear them? Let us however lament and groan in Confession; let us own where we are; let us "call the Sabbath to remembrance," and wait with patience for what He has promised, who hath, in His own Person also, showed forth an example of patience to us. "I am become feeble, and bowed down greatly."

12. "I have roared with the groaning of my heart." [980] You observe the servants of God generally interceding with groaning; and the reason of it is asked, and there is nothing apparent, but the groaning of some servant of God, if indeed it does find its way at all to the ears of a person placed near him. For there is a secret groaning, which is not heard by man: yet if the thought of some strong desire has taken so strong hold of the heart, that the wound of the inner man finds expression in some uttered exclamation, the reason of it is asked; and a man says to himself, "Perhaps this is the cause of his groaning;" and, "Perhaps this or that hath befallen him." Who can determine, but He in whose Eyes and Ears he groaned? Therefore he says, "I roared with the groaning of mine heart;" because if men ever hear a man's groanings, they for the most part hear but the groaning of the flesh; they do not hear him who groans "with the groaning of his heart." Some one hath carried off his goods; he "roareth," but not "with the groaning of his heart:" another because he has buried his son, another his wife; another because his vineyard has been injured by a hailstorm; another because his cask has turned sour; another because some one hath stolen his beast; another because he has suffered some loss; another because he fears some man who is his enemy: all these "roar" with the "groaning of the flesh." The servant of God, however, because he "roareth" from the recollection of the Sabbath, where the Kingdom of God is, which flesh and blood shall not possess, says, "I have roared with the groaning of my heart."

13. And who observed and noticed the cause of his groaning? "All my desire is before Thee" (ver. 9). For it is not before men who cannot see the heart, but it is before Thee that all my desire is open! Let your desire be before Him; and "the Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee." [981] For it is thy heart's desire that is thy prayer; and if thy desire continues uninterrupted, thy prayer continueth also. For not without a meaning did the Apostle say, "Pray without ceasing." [982] Are we to be "without ceasing" bending the knee, prostrating the body, or lifting up our hands, that he says, "Pray without ceasing"? Or if it is in this sense that we say that we "pray," this, I believe, we cannot do "without ceasing." There is another inward kind of prayer without ceasing, which is the desire of the heart. Whatever else you are doing, if you do but long for that Sabbath, you do not cease to pray. If you would never cease to pray, never cease to long after it. The continuance of thy longing is the continuance of thy prayer. You will be ceasing to speak, if you cease to long for it. Who are those who have ceased to speak? They of whom it is said, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." [983] The freezing of charity is the silence of the heart; the burning of charity is the cry of the heart. If love continues still you are still lifting up your voice; if you are always lifting up your voice, you are always longing after something; if always longing for something absent, you are calling "the Sabbath rest to remembrance." And it is important you should understand too before whom the "roaring of thine heart" is open. Now then consider what sort of desires those should be, that are before the eyes of God. Should it be the desire for the death of our enemy? a thing which men flatter themselves they lawfully wish for? For sometimes we pray for what we ought not. Let us consider what they flatter themselves they pray for lawfully! For they pray that some person may die, and his inheritance come to them. But let those too, who pray for the death of their enemies, hear the Lord saying, "Pray for your enemies." [984] Let them not pray for this, that their enemies may die; but rather pray for this, that they may be reclaimed; then will their enemies be dead; for from the time that they are reclaimed, henceforth they will be enemies no longer. "And all my desire is before Thee." What if we suppose that our desire is before Him, and that yet that very "groaning" is not before Him? How can that be, since our desire itself finds its expression in "groaning"? Therefore follows, "And my groaning is not hid from Thee."

From Thee indeed it is not hid; but from many men it is hid. The servant of God sometimes seems to be saying in humility, "And my groaning is not hid from Thee." Sometimes also he seems to smile. Is then that longing dead in his heart? If however there is the desire within, there is the "groaning" also. It does not always find its way to the ears of man; but it never ceases to sound in the ears of God.

14. "My heart is troubled" (ver. 10). Wherefore is it troubled? "And my courage hath failed me." Generally something comes upon us on a sudden; the "heart is troubled;" the earth quakes; thunder is sent from Heaven; a formidable attack is made upon us, or a horrible sound heard. Perhaps a lion is seen on the road; the "heart is troubled." Perhaps robbers lie in wait for us; the "heart is troubled:" we are filled with a panic fear; from every quarter something excites anxiety. Wherefore? Because "my courage hath failed me." For what would be feared, did that courage still remain unmoved? Whatever bad tidings were brought, whatever threatened us, whatever sound was heard, whatever were to fall, whatever appeared horrible, would inspire no terror. But whence that trouble? "My courage faileth me." Wherefore hath my courage failed me? "The light of mine eyes also is gone from me." Thus Adam also could not see "the light of his eyes." For the "light of his eyes" was God Himself, whom when he had offended, he fled to the shade, and hid himself among the trees of Paradise. [985] He shrunk in alarm from the face of God: and sought the shelter of the trees; thenceforth among the trees he had no more "the light of his eyes," at which he had been wont to rejoice....

15. "My lovers;" why should I henceforth speak of my enemies? "My lovers and my neighbours drew nigh, and stood over against me" (ver. 11). Understand this that he saith, "Stood over against me." For if they stood over against me, they fell against themselves. "My lovers and my neighbours drew nigh and stood over against me." [986] Let us now recognise the words of the Head speaking; now let our Head in His Passion begin to dawn upon us. Yet again when the Head begins to speak, do not sever the Body from it. If the Head would not separate itself from the words of the Body, should the Body dare to separate itself from the sufferings of the Head? Do thou suffer in Christ's suffering: for Christ, as it were, sinned in thy infirmity. For just now He spoke of thy sins, as if speaking in His own Person, and called them His own....To those who wished to be near His exaltation, yet thought not of His humility, He answered and said to them, "Can ye drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" [987] Those sufferings of the Lord then are our sufferings also: and were each individual to serve God well, to keep faith truly, to render to each their dues, and to conduct himself honestly among men, I should like to see if he does not suffer even that which Christ here details in the account of His Passion. "My lovers and my neighbours drew nigh, and stood over against me."

16. "And my neighbours stood afar off." Who were the "neighbours" that drew nigh, and who were those who stood afar off? The Jews were "neighbours" because "near kinsmen," they drew near even when they crucified Him: the Apostles also were His "neighbours;" and they also "stood afar off," that they might not have to suffer with Him. This may also be understood thus: "My friends," that is, those who feigned themselves "My friends:" for they feigned themselves His friends, when they said, "We know that Thou teachest the way of God in truth;" [988] when they wished to try Him, whether tribute ought to be paid to Cæsar; when He convinced them out of their own mouth, they wished to seem to be His friends. "But He needed not that any should testify of man, for He Himself knew what was in man;" [989] so that when they spoke unto Him words of friendship, He answered them, "Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?" [990] "My friends and my neighbours" then "drew near and stood over against me, and my neighbours stood afar off." You understand what I said. I called those neighbours who "drew nigh," and at the same time "stood afar off." For they "drew nigh" in the body, but "stood afar off" in their heart. Who were in the body so near to Him as those who lifted Him on the Cross? Who in heart so as those who blasphemed Him? Hear this sort of distance described by the Prophet Isaiah; observe this nearness and distance at one and the same time. "This people honours Me with their lips:" behold, with their body they draw near; "but their heart is far from Me." [991] The same persons are at the same time "near" and "afar off" also: with their lips they are near, in heart afar off. However, because the Apostles also stood afar off, through fear, we understand it more simply and properly of them; so that we mean by it, that some drew near, and others stood afar off; since even Peter, who had followed more boldly than the rest, was still so far off, that being questioned and alarmed, he thrice denied the Lord, with whom he had promised to "be ready to die." Who afterwards that, from being afar off, he might be made to draw nigh, heard after the resurrection the question, "Lovest thou Me?" and said, "I love Thee;" [992] and by so saying was brought "nigh," even as by denying Him, he had become "far off;" till with the threefold confession of love, he had put away from him his threefold denial. "And my neighbours stood afar off."

17. "They also that sought after my soul were preparing violence against me" (ver. 12). It is now plain who "sought after His soul;" viz. those who had not His soul, in that they were not in His Body. They who were "seeking after His soul," were far removed from His soul; but they were "seeking it" to destroy it. For His soul may be "sought after" in a right way also. For in another passage [993] He finds fault with some persons, saying, "There is no man to care for My soul." He finds fault with some for not seeking after His soul; and again, with others for seeking after it. Who is he that seeketh after His soul in the right way? He who imitates His sufferings. Who are they that sought after His soul in the wrong way? Even those who "prepared violence against Him," and crucified Him.

18. He goes on: "Those who sought after My faults had spoken vanity." What is, "sought after My faults"? They sought after many things, and found them not. Perhaps He may have meant this: "They sought for criminal charges against me." For they sought for somewhat to say against Him, and "they found not." [994] For they were seeking to find evil things to say of "the Good;" crimes of the Innocent; When would they find such things in Him, who had no sin? But because they had to seek for sins in Him who had no sin, it remained for them to invent that which they could not find. Therefore, "those who sought after My faults have spoken vanity," i.e., untruth, "and imagined deceit all the day long;" that is, they meditated treachery without intermission. You know how atrocious false-witness was borne against the Lord, before He suffered. You know how atrocious false-witness was borne against Him, even after His resurrection. For those soldiers who watched His sepulchre of whom Isaiah spake, "I will appoint the wicked for His burial" [995] (for they were wicked men, and would not speak the truth, and being bribed they disseminated a lie), consider what "vanity" they spake. They also were examined, and they said, "While we slept, His disciples came and stole Him away." [996] This it is, "to speak vanity." For if they were sleeping, how could they know what had been done?

19. He saith then, "But I as a deaf man heard not" (ver. 13). He who replied not to what He heard, did, as it were, not hear them. "But I as a deaf man heard not. And I was as a dumb man that openeth not his mouth." And he repeats the same things again.

"And I became as a man that heareth not, and in whose mouth are no reproofs" (ver. 14). As if He had nothing to say unto them, as if He had nothing wherewith to reproach them. Had He not already reproached them for many things? Had He not said many things, and also said, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees," [997] and many things besides? Yet when He suffered, He said none of these things; not that He had not what to say, but He waited for them to fulfil all things, and that all the prophecies might be fulfilled of Him, of whom it had been said, "And as a sheep before her shearer is dumb, so openeth He not His mouth." [998] It behoved Him to be silent in His Passion, though not hereafter to be silent in Judgment. For He had come to be judged, then, who was hereafter coming to judge; and who was for this reason to come with great power to judge, that He had been judged in great humility.

20. "For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope; Thou wilt hear, O Lord, my God" (ver. 15). As if it were said to Him, "Wherefore openedst thou not thy mouth? Wherefore didst Thou not say, `Refrain'? Wherefore didst Thou not rebuke the unrighteous, while hanging on the Cross?" He goes on and says, "For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt hear." He warns you what to do, should tribulation haply befall. For you seek to defend yourself, and perhaps your defence is not listened to by any one. Then are you confounded, as if you had lost your cause; because you have none to defend or to bear testimony in your favour. "Keep" but your "innocence" within, where no one can pervert thy cause. False-witness has prevailed against you before men. Will it then prevail before God, where your cause has to be pleaded? When God shall be Judge, there shall be no other witness than your own conscience. In the presence of a just judge, and of your own conscience, fear nothing but your own cause. If you have not a bad cause, you will have no accuser to dread; no false-witness to confute, nor witness to the truth to look for. Do but bring into court a good conscience, that you may say, "For in Thee, O Lord, do I hope; Thou, O Lord my God, wilt hear."

21. "For I said, Let not mine enemies ever rejoice over me. And when my feet slip, they magnify themselves against me" (ver. 16). Again He returns to the infirmity of His Body: and again the Head takes heed of Its "feet." The Head is not in such a manner in Heaven, as to forsake what It has on earth; He evidently sees and observes us. For sometimes, as is the way of this life, our feet are "turned aside," and they slip by falling into some sin; there the tongues of the enemy rise up with the bitterest malignity. From this then we discern what they really had in view, even while they kept silence. Then they speak with an unsparing harshness; rejoicing to have discovered what they ought to have grieved for. "And I said, Lest at any time my adversaries should rejoice over me." I said this indeed; and yet it was perhaps for my correction that Thou hast caused them to "magnify themselves against me, when my feet slipped;" that is to say, when I stumbled, they were elated, and said many things. For pity, not insult, was due from them to the weak; even as the Apostle speaks: "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual restore such an one in the spirit of meekness;" and he combines the reason why: "considering thyself also, lest thou also be tempted." [999] Not such as these were the persons of whom He speaks: "And when my feet slipped, they rejoiced greatly against me;" but they were such as those of whom He says elsewhere: "They that hate me will rejoice if I fall."

22. "For I am prepared for the scourges" (ver. 17). Quite a magnificent expression; as if He were saying, "It was even for this that I was born; that I might suffer." For He was not to be born, [1000] but from Adam, to whom the scourge is due. But sinners are in this life sometimes not scourged at all, or are scourged less than their deserts: because the wickedness of their heart is given over as already desperate. Those, however, for whom eternal life is prepared, must needs be scourged in this life: for that sentence is true: "My son, faint not under the chastening of the Lord, neither be weary when thou art rebuked of Him." [1001] "For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." [1002] Let not mine enemies therefore insult over me; let "them not magnify themselves;" and if my Father scourgeth me, "I am prepared for the scourge;" because there is an inheritance in store for me. Thou wilt not submit to the scourge: the inheritance is not bestowed upon thee. For "every son" must needs be scourged. So true it is that "every son" is scourged, that He spared not even Him who had no sin. For "I am prepared for the scourges."

23. "And my sorrow is continually before me." What "sorrow" is that? Perhaps, a sorrow for my scourge. And, in good truth, my brethren, in good truth, let me say unto you, men do mourn for their scourges, not for the causes on account of which they are scourged. Not such was the person here. Listen, my brethren: If any person suffers any loss, he is more ready to say, "I did not deserve to suffer it," than to consider why he suffered it, mourning the loss of money, not mourning over that of righteousness. If thou hast sinned, mourn for the loss of thy inward treasure. Thou hast nothing in thy house, but perhaps thou art still more empty in heart; but if thine heart is full of its Good, even thy God, why dost thou not say, "The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; as it pleased the Lord was it done. Blessed be the Name of the Lord." [1003] Whence then was it that He was grieving? Was it for the "scourging" wherewith He was scourged? God forbid. "And my sorrow" (says He) "is continually before me." And as if we were to say, "What sorrow? whence comes that sorrow?" he says: "For I declare mine iniquity; and I will have a care for my sin" (ver. 18). See here the reason for the sorrow! It is not a sorrow occasioned by the scourge; not one for the remedy, not for the wound. For the scourge is a remedy against sins. Hear, brethren; We are Christians, and yet if any one's son dies, he mourns for him but does not mourn for him if he sins. It is then, when he sees him sinning, that he ought to make mourning for him, to lament over him. It is then he should restrain him, and give him a rule to live by; should impose a discipline upon him: or if he has done so, and the other has not taken heed, then was the time when he ought to have been mourned over; then he was more fatally dead whilst living in luxury, than when, by death, he brought his luxury to its close: at that time, when he was doing such things in thine house, he was not only "dead, but he stank also." [1004] These things were worthy to be lamented, the others were such as might well be endured; those, I say, were tolerable, these worthy to be mourned over. They were to be mourned over in the same way that you have heard this person mourn over them: "For I declare mine iniquity. I will have a care for my sin." Be not free from anxiety when you have confessed your sin, as if always able to confess thy sin, and to commit it again. Do thou "declare thine iniquity in such a manner, as to have a care for thy sin." What is meant by "having a care of thy sin"? To have a care of thy wound. If you were to say, "I will have a care of my wound," what would be meant by it, but I will do my endeavour to have it healed. For this is "to have a care for one's sin," to be ever struggling, ever endeavouring, ever exerting one's self, earnestly and zealously, to heal one's wound. Behold! thou art from day to day mourning over thy sins; but perhaps thy tears indeed flow, but thy hands are unemployed. Do alms, redeem [1005] thy sins, let the poor rejoice of thy bounty, that thou also mayest rejoice of the Grace of God. He is in want; so art thou in want also: he is in want at thy hands; so art thou also in want at God's hand. Dost thou despise one who needs thy aid; and shall God not despise thee when thou needest His? Do thou therefore supply the needs of him who is in want of thine aid; that God may supply thy needs within. [1006] This is the meaning of, "I will have a care for my sin." I will do all that ought to be done, to blot out and to heal my sin. "And I will have a care for my sin."

24. "But mine enemies live" (ver. 19). They are well off: they rejoice in worldly prosperity, while I am suffering, and "roaring with the groaning of my heart." In what way do His enemies "live," in that He hath said of them already, that they have "spoken vanity"? Hear in another Psalm also: "Whose sons are as young plants; firmly rooted." But above He had said, "Whose mouth speaketh vanity. Their daughters polished after the similitude of a temple: their garners full bursting forth more and more; their cattle fat, their sheep fruitful, multiplying in their streets; no hedge falling into ruin; no cry in their streets." [1007] "Mine enemies" then "live." This is their life; this life they praise; this they set their hearts upon: this they hold fast to their own ruin. For what follows? They pronounce "the people that is in such a case" blessed. But what sayest thou, who "hast a care for thy sin"? What sayest thou, who "confessest thine iniquity"? He says, "Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord." [1008]

"But mine enemies live, and are strengthened against me, and they that hate me wrongfully are multiplied." What is "hate me wrongfully"? They hate me, who wish their good, whereas were they simply requiting evil for evil, they would not be righteous; were they not to requite with good the good done to them, they would be ungrateful: they, however, who "hate wrongfully," actually return evil for good. Such were the Jews; Christ came unto them with good things; they requited Him evil for good. Beware, brethren, of this evil; it soon steals [1009] upon us. Let no one of you think himself to be far removed from the danger, because we said, "Such were the Jews." Should a brother, wishing your good, rebuke you, and you hate him, you are like them. And observe, how easily, how soon it is produced; and avoid an evil so great, a sin so easily committed.

25. "They also that render evil for good, were speaking evil of me, because I have pursued the thing that is just" (ver. 20). Therefore was it that I was requited evil for good. What is meant by "pursued after the thing that is just"? Not forsaken it. That you might not always understand persecutio in a bad sense, He means by persecutus pursued after, thoroughly followed. "Because I have followed the thing that is just." Hear also our Head crying with a lamentable voice in His Passion: "And they cast Me forth, Thy Darling, even as a dead man in abomination." [1010] Was it not enough that He was "dead"? wherefore "in abomination" also? Because He was crucified. For this death of the Cross was a great abomination in their eyes, as they did not perceive that it was spoken in prophecy, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." [1011] For He did not Himself bring death; but He found it here, propagated from the curse of the first man; and this same death of ours, which had originated in sin, He had taken upon Himself, and hung on the Tree. Lest therefore some persons should think (as some of the Heretics think), that our Lord Jesus Christ had only a false body of flesh; and that the death by which He made satisfaction on the Cross was not a real death, the Prophet notices this, and says, "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." He shows then that the Son of God died a true death, the death which was due to mortal flesh: lest if He were not "accursed," you should think that He had not truly died. But since that death was not an illusion, but had descended from that original stock, which had been derived from the curse, when He said, "Ye shall surely die:" [1012] and since a true death assuredly extended even to Him, that a true life might extend itself to us, the curse of death also did extend to Him, that the blessing of life might extend even unto us. "And they cast Me forth, Thy Darling, even as a dead man in abomination."

26. "Forsake me not, O Lord; O my God, depart not from me" (ver. 21). Let us speak in Him, let us speak through Him (for He Himself intercedeth for us), and let us say, "Forsake me not, O Lord my God." And yet He had said, "My God! My God! why hast Thou forsaken Me?" [1013] and He now says, "O My God, depart not from Me." If He does not forsake the body, did He forsake the Head? Whose words then are these but the First Man's? To show then that He carried about Him a true body of flesh derived from him, He says, "My God, My God why hast Thou forsaken Me?" God had not forsaken Him. If He does not forsake Thee, who believest in Him, could the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, One God, forsake Christ? But He had transferred to Himself the person of the First Man. We know by the words of an Apostle, that "our old man is crucified with Him." [1014] We should not, however, be divested of our old nature, had He not been crucified "in weakness." For it was to this end that He came that we may be renewed in Him, because it is by aspiration after Him, and by following the example of His suffering, that we are renewed. Therefore that was the cry of infirmity; that cry, I mean, in which it was said, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Thence was it said in that passage above, "the words of mine offences." As if He were saying, These words are transferred to My Person from that of the sinner.

27. "Depart not from me. Make haste to help me, Lord of my salvation" (ver. 22). This is that very "salvation," Brethren, concerning which, as the Apostle Peter saith, "Prophets have enquired diligently," [1015] and though they have enquired diligently, yet have not found it. But they searched into it, and foretold of it; while we have come and have found what they sought for. And see, we ourselves too have not as yet received it; and after us shall others also be born, and shall find, what they also shall not receive, and shall pass away, that we may, all of us together, receive the "penny of salvation in the end of the day," with the Prophets, the Patriarchs, and the Apostles. For you know that the hired servants, or labourers, were taken into the vineyard at different times; yet did they all receive their wages on an equal footing. [1016] Apostles, then, and Prophets, and Martyrs, and ourselves also, and those who will follow us to the end of the world, it is in the End itself that we are to receive everlasting salvation; that beholding the face of God, and contemplating His Glory, we may praise Him for ever, free from imperfection, free from any punishment of iniquity, free from every perversion of sin: praising Him; and no longer longing after Him, but now clinging to Him for whom we used to long to the very end, and in whom we did rejoice, in hope. For we shall be in that City, where God is our Bliss, God is our Light, God is our Bread, God is our Life; whatever good thing of ours there is, at being absent from which we now grieve, we shall find in Him. In Him will be that "rest," which when we "call to remembrance" now, we cannot choose but grieve. For that is the "Sabbath" which we "call to remembrance;" in the recollection of which, so great things have been said already; and so great things ought to be said by us also, and ought never to cease being said by us, not with our lips indeed, but in our heart: for therefore do our lips cease to speak, that we may cry out with our hearts. [1017]

Footnotes

[944] Lat. XXXVII. [945] Matt. v. 4. [946] Futuri sunt in emendatione quidam salvi. [947] Emendatio (alluding to emendes in the Latin of v. 1.). [948] Utique arguet. [949] Matt. xxv. 42. [950] 1 Cor. iii. 15. [951] 1 Cor. iii. 12. [952] Per. [953] [See Augustin's ideas as to a possible meaning of the text 1 Cor. iii. 11-15 in vol. ii. this series, p. 474. He there propounds, as a conjecture merely, a purification of some souls in the intermediate state, which he does not care to reject. It is not his own theory; he says, I do not contradict; possibly it is true." He thus proves there was no dogma of any sort of purgatory in his day, and even this theory is entirely inconsistent with the dogma as expounded in the Trent Catechism.--C.] [954] Gen. ii. 17. [955] Job vi. 4. [956] 1 Cor. xv. 53. [957] Ps. xxii. 1. [958] Ps. xxii. 18. [959] Gen. ii. 24. [960] Matt. xxv. 42, 43. [961] Matt. xxv. 44, 45. [962] Acts ix. 4. [963] Matt. xix. 6. [964] Ecclus. x. 12. [Note "as a Lesson:" part of Divine Service.--C.] [965] Ps. vii. 16. [966] 2 Cor. ii. 15. [967] [Isa. lviii. 13.--C.] [968] Song of Sol. i. 3, 4. [969] Ps. xxxviii. 5. [970] John xiv. 6. [971] 1 Cor. ii. 10. [972] John xiv. 8. [973] John xiv. 9. [974] John xiv. 21. [975] St. Augustin, infirmatus; E.V. "troubled;" Prayer Book, "feeble;" Vulgate, afflictus. [976] Ps. xxxi. 22. [977] Assumpta mente. [978] 2 Cor. xii. 2, 4. [979] 2 Cor. xii. 4. [980] Rugiebam a gemitu cordis mei. E.V. "by reason of the disquietness." [981] Matt. vi. 6. [982] 1 Thess. v. 17. [983] Matt. xxiv. 12. [984] Matt. v. 44. [985] Gen. iii. 8. [986] E.V. "and my friends stand aloof." [987] Matt. xx. 22. [988] Matt. xxii. 16. [989] John ii. 25. [990] Matt. xxii. 18. [991] Isa. xxix. 13. [992] John xxi. 15. [993] Ps. cxlii. 4. [994] Matt. xxvi. 60. [995] Isa. liii. 9. St. Augustin, Ponam malos pro sepulturâ ejus. Vulgate, Dabit impios, etc. [996] Matt. xxviii. 13. [997] Matt. xxiii. 13. [998] Isa. liii. 7. [999] Gal. vi. 1. [1000] Al. "He would not suffer." [1001] Prov. iii. 11. [1002] Heb. xii. 6. [1003] Job i. 21. [1004] John xi. 39. [1005] Fiant, redimantur. [1006] Al. "fill thine inward parts." [1007] Ps. cxliv. 12-14. [1008] Ps. cxliv. 15. [1009] Cito subintrat. [1010] A few mss. of LXX. note this to be added here. [1011] Deut. xxi. 23. [1012] Gen. ii. 17. [1013] Matt. xxvii. 46. [1014] Rom. vi. 6. [1015] 1 Pet. i. 10. [1016] Matt. xx. 9. [1017] [Heb. iv. 9. The Sabbath that "remaineth" is the only Sabbath our author sees in this Psalm.--C.] .


Psalm XXXIX. [1018]

1. The title of this Psalm, which we have just chanted and proposed to discuss, is, "On the end, for Idithun, a Psalm for David himself." Here then we must look for, and must attend to, the words of a certain person who is called Idithun; and if each one of ourselves may be Idithun, in that which he sings he recognises himself, and hears himself speak. For thou mayest see who was called Idithun, according to the ancient descent of man; let us, however, understand what this name is translated, and seek to comprehend the Truth in the translation of the word. According therefore to what we have been able to discover by enquiry in those names which have been translated from the Hebrew tongue into the Latin, by those who study the sacred writings, Idithun being translated is "over-leaping them." Who then is this person "over-leaping them"? or who those whom he hath "over-leaped"?...For there are some persons, yet clinging to the earth, yet bowed down to the ground, yet setting their hearts on what is below, yet placing their hopes in things that pass away, whom he who is called "over-leaping them" hath "over-leaped."

2. You know that some of the Psalms are entitled, "Songs of Degrees;" and in the Greek it is obvious enough what the word /=nabathmon means. For /=nabathmoi are degrees (or steps) of them that ascend, not of them that descend. The Latin, not being able to express it strictly, expresses it by the general term; and in that it called them "steps," left it undetermined, whether they were "steps" of persons ascending or descending. But because there is no "speech or language where their voices are not heard among them," [1019] the earlier language explains the one which comes after it: and what was ambiguous in one is made certain in another. Just then as there the singer is some one who is "ascending," so here is it some one who is "over-leaping."...Let this Idithun come still to us, let him "over-leap" those whose delight is in things below, and take delight in these things, and let him rejoice in the Word of the Lord; in the delight of the law of the Most High....

3. "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue" (ver. 1)....For it is not without reason that the tongue is set in a moist place, but because it is so prone to slip. [1020] Perceiving therefore how hard it was for a man to be under the necessity of speaking, and not to say something that he will wish unsaid, and filled with disgust at these sins, he seeks to avoid the like. To this difficulty is he exposed who is seeking to "leap beyond."...Although I have "leaped beyond" the pleasures of earth, although the fleeting [1021] passions for things temporal ensnare me not, though now I despise these things below, and am rising up to better things than these, yet in these very better things the satisfaction of knowledge in the sight of God is enough for me. Of what use is it for me to speak what is to be laid hold of, and to give a handle to cavillers? Therefore, "I said, I will take heed to my ways, that I sin not with my tongue. I keep my mouth with a bridle." Wherefore is this? Is it on account of the religious, the thoughtful, the faithful, the holy ones? God forbid! These persons hear in such a manner, as to praise what they approve; but as for what they disapprove, perhaps, among much that they praise they rather excuse than cavil at it; on account of what persons then dost thou "take heed to thy ways," and place a guard on thy lips "that thou mayest not sin with thy tongue"? Hear: it is, "While the wicked standeth over against me." It is not "by me" that he takes up his station, but "against me." Why?...Even the Lord Himself says, "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." [1022] And the Apostle, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal." [1023] Yet not as to persons to be despaired of, but as to those who still required to be nourished. For he goes on to say, "As babes in Christ, I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able." Well, tell it unto us even now. "Neither yet now are ye able." [1024] Be not therefore impatient to hear that which as yet thou art not capable of; but grow that thou mayest be "able to bear it." It is thus we address the little one, who yet requires to be fed with kindly milk [1025] in the bosom of Mother Church, and to be rendered meet for the "strong meat" of the Lord's Table. But what can I say even of that kind to the sinner, who "taketh his stand against me," who either thinks or pretends himself capable of what he "cannot bear;" so that when I say anything unto him, and he has failed to comprehend it, he should not suppose that it was not he that had failed to comprehend, but I who had broken down. Therefore because of this sinner, who "taketh up his stand against me, I keep my mouth as it were with a bridle."

4. "I became deaf, and was humbled, I held my peace from good" (ver. 2). For this person, who is "leaping beyond," suffers some difficulty in a certain stage to which he hath already attained; and he desires to advance beyond, even from thence, to avoid this difficulty. I was afraid of committing a sin; so that I spoke not; that I imposed on myself the necessity of silence: for I had spoken thus, "I will take heed to my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue." Whilst I was too much afraid of saying anything wrong, I kept silence from all that is good. For whence could I say good things, except that I heard them? "It is Thou that shalt make me to hear of joy and gladness." [1026] And the "friend of the bridegroom standeth and heareth Him, and rejoiceth on account of the bridegroom's voice," [1027] not his own. That he may speak true things, he hears what he is to say. For it is he that "speaketh a lie," that "speaketh of his own." [1028] ...When therefore I had "put a bridle," as it were, "on my lips;" and constrained myself to silence, because I saw that everywhere speech was dangerous, then, says he, that came to pass upon me, which I did not wish, "I became deaf, and was humbled;" not humbled myself, but was humbled; "and I held my peace even from good." Whilst afraid of saying any evil, I began to refrain from speaking what is good: and I condemned my determination; for "I was holding my peace even from what is good."

"And my sorrow was stirred up again" (ver. 2). Inasmuch as I had found in silence a kind of respite from a certain "sorrow," that had been inflicted upon me by those who cavilled at my words, and found fault with me: and that sorrow that was caused by the cavillers, had ceased indeed; but when "I held my peace even from good, my sorrow was stirred up again." I began to be more grieved at having refrained from saying what I ought to have said, than I had before been grieved by having said what I ought not. "And my sorrow was stirred up again." [1029]

5. "And while I was musing, the fire burned" (ver. 3)....I reflected on the words of my Lord, "Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou oughtest to have put My money to the exchangers, and I at My coming should receive it again with usury." [1030] And that which follows may God avert from those who are His stewards! Bind him hand and foot, and let him be cast into outer darkness; [1031] the servant, who was not a waster of his master's goods, so as to destroy them, but was slothful in laying them out to improve them. What ought they to expect, who have wasted them in luxury, if they are condemned who through slothfulness have kept them? "As I was musing, the fire burned." And as he was in this state of wavering suspense, between speaking and holding his peace, between those who are prepared to cavil and those who are anxious to be instructed,...in this state of suspense, he prays for a better place, a place different from this his present stewardship, in which man is in such difficulty and in such danger, and sighing after a certain "end," when he was not to be subject to these things, when the Lord is to say to the faithful dispenser, "Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord," [1032] he says, "Then spake I with my tongue." In this fluctuation, in the midst of these dangers and these difficulties, because, that in consequence of the abundance of offences "the love of many is waxing cold," [1033] although the law of the Lord inspires delight, in this fluctuation then, (I say), "then spake I with my tongue." To whom? not to the hearer whom I would fain instruct; but to Him who heareth and taketh heed also, by whom I would fain be instructed myself. "I spake with my tongue" to Him, from whom I inwardly hear whatever I hear that is good or true.--What saidst thou?

"Lord, make me to know mine end" (ver. 4). For some things I have passed by already; and I have arrived at a certain point, and that to which I have arrived is better than that from which I have advanced to this; but yet there remains a point, which has to be left behind. For we are not to remain here, where there are trials, offences, where we have to bear with persons who listen to us and cavil at us. "Make me to know mine end;" the end, from which I am still removed, not the course which is already before me.

6. The "end" he speaks of, is that which the Apostle fixed his eye upon, in his course; and made confession of his own infirmity, perceiving in himself a different state of things from that which he looked for elsewhere. For he says, "Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended." [1034] And that you might not say, "If the Apostle hath not apprehended, have I apprehended? If the Apostle is not perfect, am I perfect?"...

7. "And the number of my days, what it is." I ask of "the number of my days, what it is." I can speak of "number" without number, and understand "number without number," in the same sense as "years without years" may be spoken of. For where there are years, there is a sort of "number" at all events, also. But yet, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." [1035] "Make me to know the number of my days;" but "to know what it is." What then? that number in which thou art, think you that it "is" not? Assuredly, if I weigh the matter well, it has no being; if I linger behind, it has a sort of being; if I rise above it, it has none. If, shaking off the trammels of these things, I contemplate things above, if I compare things that pass away with those that endure, I see what has a true being, and what rather seems to be, than really is. Should I say that these days of mine "are;" and shall I rashly apply this word so full of meaning to this course of things passing away? To such a degree have I my own self almost ceased to "be, failing" as I am in my weakness, that He escaped from my memory, who said, "I AM HE THAT IS." [1036] Hath then any number of days any existence? In truth it hath, and it is "number without end."...Everything is swept on by a series of moments, fleeting by, one after the other; there is a torrent of existences ever flowing on and on; a "torrent," [1037] of which He "drank in the way," who hath now "lift up His Head." These days then have no true being; they are gone almost before they arrive; and when they are come, they cannot continue; they press upon one another, they follow the one the other, and cannot check themselves in their course. Of the past nothing is called back again; what is yet to be, is expected as something to pass away again: it is not as yet possessed, whilst as yet it is not arrived; it cannot be kept when once it has arrived. He asks then concerning "the number of his days, which is;" not that which is "not:" and (which confounds me by a still greater and more perplexing difficulty) at once "is," and "is not." We can neither say that "is," which does not continue; nor that it "is not," when it has come and is passing. It is that absolute "IS," that true "IS," that "IS" in the true sense of the word, that I long for; that "IS;" which "is" in that "Jerusalem" which is "the Bride" of my Lord; [1038] where there will not be death, there will not be failing; there will be a day that passeth not away, but continueth: which has neither a yesterday to precede it, nor a to-morrow pressing close upon it. [1039] This "number of my days, which is," this (I say), "make Thou me to know."

8. "That I may know what is wanting to me." For while I am struggling here, "this" is wanting unto me: and so long as it is wanting unto me, I do not call myself perfect. So long as I have not received it, I say, "not that I have already attained, either am already perfect; but I am pressing towards the prize of God's high calling." [1040] This let me receive as the prize of my running the race! There will be a certain resting-place, to terminate my course; and in that resting-place there will be a Country, and no pilgrimage, no dissension, no temptation. Make me then to know "this number of my days, which is, that I may know what is wanting unto me;" because I am not there yet; lest I should be made proud of what I already am, that "I may be found in Him, not having mine own righteousness." [1041] ...

9. "Behold, thou hast made my days old" [1042] (ver. 5). For these days are "waxing old." I long for new days "that never shall wax old," that I may say, "Old things have passed away; behold, things are become new." [1043] Already new in hope; then in reality. For though, in hope and in faith, made new already, how much do we even now do after our old nature! For we are not so completely "clothed upon" with Christ, as not to bear about with us anything derived from Adam. Observe that Adam is "waxing old" within us, and Christ is being "renewed" in us. "Though our outward man is perishing, yet is our inward man being renewed day by day." [1044] Therefore, while we fix our thoughts on sin, on mortality, on time, that is hastening by, on sorrow, and toil, and labour, on stages of life following each other in succession, and continuing not, passing on insensibly from infancy even to old age; whilst, I say, we fix our eyes on these things, let us see here "the old man," the "day that is waxing old;" the Song that is out of date; the Old Testament; [1045] when however we turn to the inner man, to those things that are to be renewed in place of these which are to be changed, let us find the "new man," the "new day," the "new song," the "New Testament;" and that "newness," let us so love, as to have no fears of its "waxing old."...This man, therefore, who is hasting forward to those things which are new, and "reaching forward to those things which are before," says, "Lord, make me to know mine end, and the number of my days, which really is, that I may know what is wanting unto me." See he still drags with him Adam; and even so he is hasting unto Christ. "Behold," saith he, "thou hast made my days old." It is those days that are derived from Adam, those days, I say, that thou hast made old. They are waxing old day by day: and so waxing old, as to be at some day or other consumed also. "And my substance is as nothing before Thee." [1046] "Before Thee, O Lord, my substance is as nothing." "Before Thee;" who seest this; and I too, when I see it, see it only when "before Thee."

When "before men" I see it not. For what shall I say? What words shall I use to show, that which I now am is nothing in comparison of That which truly "IS"? But it is within that it is said; [1047] it is within that it is felt, so far as it is felt. "Before Thee, O Lord," where Thine eyes are; and not where the eyes of men are. And where Thine eyes are, what is the state of things? "That which I am is as nothing."

10. "But, verily, every man living is altogether vanity." "But, verily." For what was he saying above? Behold, I have already "leaped beyond" all mortal things, and despised things below, have trampled under foot the things of earth, have soared upwards to the delights of the law of the Lord, I have been afloat in the dispensation of the Lord, [1048] have yearned for that "End" which Itself is to know no end, have yearned for the number of my days that truly "is," because the number of days like these hath no real being. Behold, I am already such a one as this; I have already overleaped so much; I am longing for those things which abide. "But verily," in the state in which I am here, so long as I am here, so long as I am in this world, so long as I bear mortal flesh, so long as the life of man on earth is a trial, so long as I sigh among causes of offence, as long as while I "stand" I am in "fear lest I fall," [1049] as long as both my good and my ill hangs in uncertainty, "every man living is altogether vanity."...

11. "Albeit man walketh in the Image" [1050] (ver. 6). In what "Image," save that of Him who said, "Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our Likeness." [1051] "Albeit man walks in the Image." For the reason he says "albeit," is, that this is some great thing. And this "albeit" is followed by "nevertheless," that the "albeit" which you have already heard, should relate to what is beyond the sun; but this "nevertheless," which is to follow, to what is "under the sun," and that the one should relate to the Truth, the other to "vanity." "Albeit," then, "that man walketh in the Image, nevertheless he is disquieted in vain." Hear the cause of his "disquieting," and see if it be not a vain one; that thou mayest trample it under foot, that thou mayest "leap beyond it," and mayest dwell on high, where that "vanity" is not. What "vanity" is that? "He heapeth up riches, and knoweth not for whom he may be gathering them together." O infatuated vanity! "Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust, and hath not respected vanities, nor lying deceits." [1052] To you indeed, O covetous man, to you I seem to be out of my senses, these words appear to you to be "old wives' tales." For you, a man of great judgment, and of great prudence, to be sure, are daily devising methods of acquiring money, by traffic, by agriculture, by eloquence perhaps, by making yourself learned in the law, by warfare, perhaps you even add that of usury. Like a shrewd man as you are, you leave nothing untried, whereby you may pile coin on coin; and may store it up [1053] more carefully in a place of secrecy. You plunder others; you guard against the plunderer; you are afraid lest you should yourself suffer the wrong, that you yourself do; and even what you do suffer, does not correct you....Examine your own heart, and that prudence of yours, which leads you to deride me, to think me out of my senses for saying these things: and tell me now, "You are heaping up treasures; for whom are you gathering them together?" I see what you would tell me; as if what you would say had not occurred to the person described here; you will say, I am keeping them for my children? This is the voice of parental affection; the excuse of injustice. "I am keeping them" (you say) "for my children." So then you are keeping them for your children, are you? Did not Idithun then know this? Assuredly he did; but he reckoned it one of the things of the "old days," that have waxed old, and therefore he despised it: because he was hastening on to the new "days."...

12. For He, "by whom all things were made," [1054] hath built "mansions" for all of us: thither He would have that which we have go before us; that we may not lose it [1055] on earth. When, however, you have kept them on earth, tell me for whom you are to "gather them together"? You have children: add one more to their number; and give something to Christ also. "He is disquieted in vain."

13. "And now" (ver. 7). "And now," saith this Idithun,--looking back on a certain "vain" show, and looking up to a certain Truth, standing midway where he has something beyond him, and something also behind him, having below him the place from which he took his spring, having above him that toward which he has stretched forth;--"And now," when I have "over-leaped" some things, when I have trampled many things under foot, when I am no longer captivated by things temporal; even now, I am not perfect, "I have not yet apprehended." [1056] "For it is by hope that we are saved; but hope that is seen is not hope; for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." [1057] Therefore he says: "And now what wait I for? Is it not for the Lord?" [1058] He is my expectation, who hath given me all those things, that I might despise them. He will give unto me Himself also, even He who is above all, and "by whom all things were made," [1059] and by whom I was made amongst all; even He, the Lord, is my Expectation! You see Idithun, brethren, you see in what way he waiteth for Him! Let no man therefore call himself perfect here; he deceives and imposes upon himself; he is beguiling himself, he cannot have perfection here, and what avails it that he should lose humility?...

"And my substance is ever before Thee." Already advancing, already tending towards Him, and to some extent already beginning to "be," still (he says [1060] ) "my substance is ever before Thee." Now that other substance is also before men. You have gold, silver, slaves, estates, trees, cattle, servants. These things are visible even to men. There is a certain "substance that is ever before Thee."

14. "Deliver me from all my transgressions" (ver. 8). I have "over-leaped" a great deal of ground, a very great deal of ground already; but, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the Truth is not in us." [1061] I have "over-leaped" a great deal: but still do I "beat my breast," and say, "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors." [1062] Thou therefore art "my expectation!" my "End." For "Christ is the end of the Law unto righteousness, unto every man that believeth." [1063] From all mine offences: not only from those, that I may not relapse into those which I have already "over-leaped;" but from all, without exception, of those on account of which I now beat my breast, and say, "Forgive us our debts." "Deliver me from all mine offences:" me being thus minded, and holding fast what the Apostle said, "As many of us as be perfect, let us be thus minded." [1064] For at the time that he said that he was not "already perfect," he then immediately goes on and says, "As many of us as be perfect, let us be thus minded."...Art thou then, O Apostle, not perfect, and are we perfect? But hath it escaped you, that he did just now call himself "perfect"? For he does not say, "As many of you as are perfect, be ye thus minded;" but "As many of us as be perfect, let us be thus minded;" after having said a little before, "Not that I have already attained; either am already perfect." In no other way then can you be perfect in this life, than by knowing that you cannot be perfect in this life. This then will be your perfection, so to have "over-leaped" some things, as to have still some point to which you are hastening on: so as to have something remaining, to which you will have to leap on, when everything else has been passed by. It is such faith as this that is secure; for whoever thinks that he has already attained, is "exalting himself," so as to be "abased" hereafter. [1065] ...

15. "Thou hast made me the reproach of the foolish." Thou hast so willed it, that I should live among those, and preach the Truth among those, who love vanity; and I cannot but be a laughing-stock to them. "For we have been made a spectacle unto this world, and unto angels, and unto men:" [1066] to angels who praise, to men who censure, us; or rather to angels, some of whom praise, some of whom are censuring us: and to men also, some of whom are praising, and some censuring us....Both the one and the other are arms to us: the one "on the right hand," the other "on the left:" arms however they are both of them; both of these kinds of arms, both those "on the right hand," and those "on the left;" both those who praise, and those who censure; both those who pay us honour, and those who heap dishonour upon us; with both these kinds I contend against the devil; with both of these I smite him; I defeat him with prosperity, if I be not corrupted by it; by adversity, if I am not broken in spirit by it.

16. "I became dumb; [1067] and I opened not my mouth" (ver. 9). But it was to guard against "the foolish man," that "I became dumb, and opened not my mouth." For to whom should I tell what is going on within me? "For I will hear what the Lord God will speak in me; [1068] for He will speak peace unto His people." [1069] But "There is no peace," saith the Lord, "to the wicked." [1070] "I was dumb, and opened not my mouth; because it is Thou that madest me." Was this the reason that thou openedst not thy mouth, "because God made thee"? That is strange; for did not God make thy mouth, that thou shouldest speak? "He that planted the ear, doth He not hear? He that formed the eye, doth He not see?" [1071] God hath given thee a mouth to speak with; and dost thou say, "I was dumb, and opened not my mouth, because Thou madest me"? Or does the clause, "Because Thou madest me," belong to the verse that follows? "Remove Thy stroke away from me" (ver. 10). Because it is "Thou that hast made me," let it not be Thy pleasure to destroy me utterly; scourge, so that I may be made better, not so that I faint; beat me, so that I may be [1072] beaten out to a greater length and breadth, not so that I may be ground to powder. "By the heaviness of Thy hand I fainted in corrections." That is, I "fainted" while Thou wast correcting me. And what is meant by "correcting" me? except what follows.

17. "Thou with rebukes hast chastened man for iniquity; Thou hast made my life to consume away like a spider" (ver. 11). There is much that is discerned by this Idithun; by every one who discerns as he does; who overleaps as he does. For he says, that he has fainted in God's corrections; and would fain have the stroke removed away from him, "because it is He who made him." Let Him renew me, who also made me; let Him who created me, create me anew. But yet, Brethren, do we suppose that there was no cause for his fainting, so that he wishes to be "renewed," to be "created anew"? It is "for iniquity," saith he, "that Thou hast chastened man." All this, my having fainted, my being weak, my "crying out of the deep," all of this is because of "iniquity;" and in this Thou hast not condemned, but hast "chastened" me. "Thou hast chastened man for sin." Hear this more plainly from another Psalm: "It is good for me that Thou hast afflicted me, that I might learn Thy righteousness." [1073] I have been "afflicted," and at the same time "it is good for me;" it is at once a punishment, and an act of favour. What hath He in store for us after punishment is over, who inflicts punishment itself by way of favour? For He it is of whom it was said, "I was brought low, and He made me whole:" and, "It is good for me that Thou hast afflicted me, that I might learn Thy righteousness." [1074] "Thou chastenest man for iniquity." And that which is written, "Thou formest my grief in teaching me," [1075] could only be said unto God by one who was "leaping beyond" his fellows; "Thou formest my grief in teaching me;" Thou makest, that is to say, a lesson for me out of my sorrow. It is Thou that formest that very grief itself; Thou dost not leave it unformed, but formest it; and that grief, that has been inflicted by Thee, when formed, will be a lesson unto me, that I may be set free by Thee. For the word finges is used in the sense of "forming," as it were moulding, my grief; not in the sense of "feigning" it; in the same way that fingit is applied to the artist, in the same sense that figulus is derived from fingere. Thou therefore "hast chastened man for iniquity." I see myself in afflictions; I see myself under punishment; and I see no unrighteousness in Thee. If I therefore am under punishment, and if there is no unrighteousness with Thee, it remains that Thou must have been "chastening man for iniquity."

18. And by what means hast Thou "chastened" him? Tell us, O Idithun, the manner of thy chastening; tell us in what way thou hast been "chastened." "And Thou hast made my life consume like a spider." This is the chastening! What consumes away sooner than the spider? I speak of the creature itself; though what can be more liable to "consume away" than the spider's webs? Observe too how liable to decay is the creature itself. Do but set your finger lightly upon it, and it is a ruin: there is nothing at all more easily destroyed. To such a state hast Thou brought my life, by chastening me "because of iniquity." When chastening makes us weak, there is a kind of strength that would be a fault....It was by a kind of strength that man offended, so as to require to be corrected by weakness: for it was by a certain "pride" that he offended; so as to require to be chastened by humility. All proud persons call themselves strong men. Therefore have many "come from the East and the West," and have attained "to sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of Heaven." [1076] Wherefore was it that they so attained? Because they would not be strong. What is meant by "would not be strong"? They were afraid to presume of their own merits. They did not "go about to establish their own righteousness," that they might "submit themselves to the righteousness of God." [1077] ...Behold! you are mortal; and you bear about you a body of flesh that is corrupting away: "And ye shall fall like one of the princes. Ye shall die like men," [1078] and shall fall like the devil. [1079] What good does the remedial discipline of mortality do you? The devil is proud, as not having a mortal body, as being an angel. But as for you, who have received a mortal body, and to whom even this does no good, so as to humble you by so great weakness, you shall "fall like one of the princes." This then is the first grace of God's gift, to bring us to the confession of our infirmity, that whatever good we can do, whatever ability we have, we may be that in Him; that "He that glorieth, may glory in the Lord." [1080] "When I am weak," saith he, "then am I strong." [1081]

19. "But surely every man living disquieteth himself in vain." He returns to what he mentioned a little before. Although he be improving here, yet for all that, "every man living disquieteth himself in vain;" forasmuch as he lives in a state of uncertainty. For who has any assurance even of his own goodness? "He is disquieted in vain." Let him "cast upon the Lord the burden" [1082] of his care; let him cast upon Him whatever causes him anxiety. "Let Him sustain thee;" let Him keep thee. For on this earth what is there that is certain, except death? Consider the whole sum of all the good or the ill of this life, either those belonging to righteousness, or those belonging to unrighteousness; what is there that is certain here, except death? Have you been advancing in goodness? You know what you are to-day; what you will be to-morrow, you know not! Are you a sinner? you know what you are to-day; what you will be to-morrow, you know not! You hope for wealth; it is uncertain whether it will fall to your lot. You hope to have a wife; it is uncertain whether you will obtain one, or what sort of one you will obtain. You hope for sons: it is uncertain whether they will be born to you. Are they born? it is uncertain whether they will live: if they live, it is uncertain whether they will grow up in virtue, or whether they will fall away. Whichever way you turn, all is uncertain, death alone is certain. Art thou poor? It is uncertain whether thou wilt grow rich. Art thou unlearned? It is uncertain whether thou wilt become learned. Art thou in feeble health, it is uncertain whether thou wilt regain thy strength. Art thou born? It is certain that thou wilt die: and in this certainty of death itself, the day of thy death is uncertain. Amidst these uncertainties, where death alone is certain, while even of that the hour is uncertain, and while it alone is studiously guarded against, though at the same time it is in no way to be escaped, "every man living disquieteth himself in vain."...

20. "Hear my prayer, O Lord" (ver. 12). Whereof shall I rejoice? Whereof should I groan? I rejoice on account of what is past, I groan longing for these which are not yet come. "Hear my prayer, and give ear unto my cry. Hold not Thy peace at my tears." For do I now no longer weep, because I have already "passed by," have "left behind" so great things as these? "Do I not weep much the more?" For, "He that increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow." [1083] The more I long for what is not here, do I not so much the more groan for it until it comes? do I not so much the more weep until it comes?...

21. "For I am a sojourner with Thee." But with whom am I a "sojourner"? When I was with the devil, I was a "sojourner;" but then I had a bad host and entertainer; now, however, I am with Thee; but I am a "sojourner" still. What is meant by a sojourner? I am a "sojourner" in the place from which I am to remove; not in the place where I am to dwell for ever. The place where I am to abide for ever, should be rather called my home. In the place from which I am to remove I am a "sojourner;" but yet it is with my God that I am a sojourner, with whom I am hereafter to abide, when I have reached my home. But what home is that to which you are to remove from this estate of a sojourner? Recognise that home, of which the Apostle speaks, "We have an habitation of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the Heavens." [1084] If this house is eternal in the Heavens, when we have come to it, we shall not be sojourners any more. For how should you be a sojourner in an eternal home? But here, where the Master of the house is some day to say to you, "Remove," while you yourself know not when He will say it, be thou in readiness. And by longing for your eternal home, you will be keeping yourself in readiness for it. And be not angry with Him, because He gives thee notice to remove, when He Himself pleases. For He made no covenant with thee, nor did He bind Himself by any engagement; nor didst thou enter upon the tenancy of this house on a certain stipulation for a definite term: thou art to quit, when it is its Master's pleasure. For therefore is it that you now dwell there free of charge. "For I am a sojourner with Thee, and a stranger." Therefore it is there is my country: it is there is my home. "I am a sojourner with Thee, and a stranger." Here too is understood "with Thee." For many are strangers with the devil: but they who have already believed and are faithful, are, it is true, "strangers" as yet, because they have not yet come to that country and to that home: but still they are strangers with God. For so long as we are in the body, we are strangers from the Lord, and we desire, whether we are strangers, or abiding here, "we may be accepted with Him." [1085] I am a "sojourner with Thee; and a stranger, as all my fathers were." If then I am as all my fathers were, shall I say that I will not remove, when they have removed? Am I to lodge here on other terms, than those on which they lodged here also?...

22. "Grant me some remission, that I may be refreshed before I go hence" (ver. 13). Consider well, Idithun, consider what knots those are which thou wouldest have "loosed" unto thee, that thou mightest be "refreshed before thou goest hence." For thou hast certain fever-heats from which thou wouldest fain be refreshed, and thou sayest, "that I may be refreshed," and "grant me a remission." What should He remit, or loosen unto thee, save that difficulty under which, and in consequence of which, thou sayest, "Forgive us our debts. Grant me a remission before I go hence, and be no more." Set me free from my sins, "before I go hence," that I may not go hence with my sins. Remit them unto me, that I may be set at rest in my conscience, that it may be disburthened of its feverish anxiety, the anxiety with which "I am sorry for my sin. Grant me a remission, that I may be refreshed" (before everything else), "before I go hence, and be no more." For if thou grantest me not a "remission, that I may be refreshed," I shall "go and be no more." "Before I go" thither, where if I go, I shall thenceforth "be no more. Grant me a remission, that I may be refreshed." A question has suggested itself, how he will be no more....What is meant then by "shall be no more," unless Idithun is alluding to what is true "being," and what is not true "being." For he was beholding with the mind, with which he could do so, with the "mind's eye," by which he was able to behold it, that end, which he had desired to have shown unto him, saying, "Lord, make me to know mine end." He was beholding "the number of his days, which truly is;" and he observed that all that is below, in comparison of that true being, has no true being. For those things are permanent; these are subject to change; mortal, and frail, and the eternal suffering, though full of corruption, is for this very reason not to be ended, that it may ever be being ended without end. He alluded therefore to that realm of bliss, to the happy country, to the happy home, where the Saints are partakers of eternal Life, and of Truth unchangeable; and he feared to "go" where that is not, where there is no true being; longing to be there, where "Being" in the highest sense is! It is on account of this contrast then, while standing midway between them, he says, "Grant me a remission, that I may be refreshed before I go hence and be no more." For if Thou "grantest me not a remission" of my sins, I shall go from Thee unto all eternity! And from whom shall I go to all eternity? From Him who said, I Am HE that Am: from Him who said, "Say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you." [1086] He then who goes from Him, in the contrary direction, goes to non-existence....

Footnotes

[1018] Lat. XXXVIII. [1019] Ps. xix. 3. [1020] Non frustra in udo est, nisi quia facile labitur. [1021] Volatici. [1022] John xvi. 12. [1023] 1 Cor. iii. 1. [1024] 1 Cor. iii. 2. [1025] Pio lacte. [1026] Ps. li. 8. [1027] John iii. 29. [1028] John viii. 44. [1029] He omits, "My heart became hot within me." [1030] Matt. xxv. 26, 27. [1031] Matt. xxv. 30. [1032] Matt. xxv. 27. [1033] Matt. xxiv. 12. [1034] Phil. iii. 12, 13. [1035] Ps. cii. 27. [1036] Exod. iii. 14. [1037] E.V. Ps. cx. 7, "the brook." [1038] Rev. xxi. 9. [1039] Rev. xxi. 25. [1040] Phil. iii. 12, 14. [1041] Phil. iii. 9. [1042] E.V. "as an hand-breadth." [1043] 2 Cor. v. 17. [1044] 2 Cor. iv. 16. [1045] Alluding to palaioumenon, Heb. viii. 13. [1046] Ps. cxxxix. 16. [1047] Al. "learned." [1048] i.e., in the high doctrine, p. 114; but some mss. ap. Ben. and ours, Fluctuavi in dispensatione munerum (or nummorum) Dominicorum: "I have wavered in the dispensing of the Lord's gifts (or moneys)." A better sense, see p. 113. [1049] Job iii. 25. [1050] E.V. "in a vain show." [1051] Gen. i. 26. [1052] Ps. xl. 4. [1053] Text, castigetur. Four mss. have congregetur, one collocetur; three cartigetur, on which word there is a gloss. Cartigare est in chartâ propter memoriam aliquid scribere; usitatius de usurariis dicitur. Nine mss. castigetur, as Martial, Et cujus laxas arca flagellat opes, and the Jurisconsults flagellare annonam, for "to shut up."--Ben. Flagellare annonam, however, seems rather to mean to "drive up the prices," and perhaps arca flagellat may be the lid striking the heaped contents, thus affording no parallel. However, it may be to "keep it from peeping out." Oxf. mss. cartigetur. [1054] Col. i. 16. [1055] Hoc, qu. hic, "here." [1056] Phil. iii. 13. [1057] Rom. viii. 24, 25. [1058] E.V. "And now, Lord, what wait I for," etc. [1059] Col. i. 16. [1060] Oxf. mss. inquit. [1061] 1 John i. 8. [1062] Matt. vi. 12. [1063] Rom. x. 4. [1064] Phil. iii. 15. [1065] Luke xviii. 14. [1066] 1 Cor. iv. 9. [1067] Or, "deaf." [1068] Augustin and Vulgate, quid loquatur in me. [1069] Ps. lxxxv. 8. [1070] Isa. xlviii. 22. [1071] Ps. xciv. 9. [1072] Ut producar, non ut comminuar. [1073] Ps. cxix. 71. Justificationes. [1074] Ps. cxvi. 6, cxix. 71. [1075] Ps. xliv. 20. Qui fingis dolorem in præcepto (Vulgate, laborem); E.V. "which frameth mischief by a law." [1076] Matt. viii. 11. [1077] Rom. x. 3. [1078] Ps. lxxxii. 7. [1079] [Dan. x. 13. "Princes" understood of angels. Then, Isa. xiv. 12. So Shaks.: "He falls like Lucifer," etc.--C.] [1080] 1 Cor. i. 31. [1081] 2 Cor. xii. 10. [1082] Ps. lv. 22. [1083] Eccles. i. 18. [1084] 2 Cor. v. 1. [1085] 2 Cor. v. 9. [1086] Ex. iii. 14.


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