Writings of Augustine. The Psalms.

Advanced Information

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.


Psalm LXXX. [3741]

1. ...If perchance things obscure demand the office of an interpreter, those things which are evident ought to require of me the office of a reader. The song here is of the Advent of the Lord and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His vineyard. But the singer of the song is that Asaph, as far as doth appear, enlightened and converted, by whose name ye know the synagogue to be signified. Lastly, the title of the Psalm is: "For the end in behalf of them that shall be changed;" that is, for the better. For Christ, the end of the Law, [3742] hath come on purpose that He should change men for the better. And he addeth, "a testimony to Asaph himself." A good testimony of truth. Lastly, this testimony doth confess both Christ and the vineyard; that is, Head and Body, King and people, Shepherd and flock, and the entire mystery of all Scriptures, Christ and the Church. But the title of the Psalm doth conclude with, "for the Assyrians." The Assyrians are interpreted, "men guiding." Therefore it is no longer a generation which hath not guided the heart [3743] thereof, but now a generation guiding. Therefore hear we what he saith in this testimony.

Text Font Face
Text Size
(for printing)
BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects
2. What is, "Thou that feedest Israel, hearken, Thou that conducteth Joseph like sheep"? (ver. 1). He is being invoked to come, He is being expected until He come, He is being yearned for until He come. Therefore may He find "men guiding:" "Thou that conductest," he saith, "Joseph like sheep:" Joseph himself like sheep. Joseph himself are the sheep, and Joseph himself is a sheep. Observe Joseph; for although even the interpretation of his name doth aid us much, for it signifieth increase; and He came indeed in order that the grain given to death [3744] might arise manifold; [3745] that is, that the people of God might be increased...."Thou that sittest upon the Cherubin." Cherubin is the seat of the glory of God, and is interpreted the fulness of knowledge. There God sitteth in the fulness of knowledge. Though we understand the Cherubin to be the exalted powers and virtues of the heavens: yet, if thou wilt, thou wilt be Cherubin. [3746] For if Cherubin is the seat of God, hear what saith the Scripture: "The soul of a just man is the seat of wisdom." How, thou sayest, shall I be the fulness of knowledge? Who shall fulfil this? Thou hast the means of fulfilling it: "The fulness of the Law is love." [3747] Do not run after many things, and strain thyself. The amplitude of the branches doth terrify thee: hold by the root, and of the greatness of the tree think not. Be there in thee love, and the fulness of knowledge must needs follow. For what doth he not know that knoweth love? Inasmuch as it hath been said, "God is love." [3748] "Appear." For we went astray because Thou didst not appear. "Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasse" (ver. 2). Appear, I say, before the nation of the Jews, before the people of Israel. For there is Ephraim, there Manasses, there Benjamin. But to the interpretation let us look: Ephraim is fruit-bearing, Benjamin son of right hand, Manasses one forgetful. Appear Thou then before one made fruitful, before a son of the right hand: appear Thou before one forgetful, in order that he may be no longer forgetful, but Thou mayest come into his mind that hast delivered him....For weak Thou wast when it was being said, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross." [3749] Thou wast seeming to have no power: the persecutor had power over Thee: and Thou didst show this aforetime, for Jacob too himself prevailed in wrestling, a man with an angel. Would he at any time, except the angel had been willing? And man prevailed, and the angel was conquered: and victorious man holdeth the angel, and saith, "I will not let thee go, except thou shalt have blessed me." [3750] A great sacrament! He both standeth conquered, and blesseth the conqueror. Conquered, because he willed it; in flesh weak, in majesty strong....Having been crucified of weakness, rise Thou in power: [3751] "Stir up Thy power, and come Thou, to save us."

3. "O God, convert us." For averse we have been from Thee, and except Thou convert us, we shall not be converted. "And illumine Thy face, and we shall be saved" (ver. 3). Hath He anywise a darkened face? He hath not a darkened face, but He placed before it a cloud of flesh, and as it were a veil of weakness; and when He hung on the tree, He was not thought the Same as He was after to be acknowledged when He was sitting in Heaven. For thus it hath come to pass. Christ present on the earth, and doing miracles, Asaph knew not; but when He had died, after that He rose again, and ascended into Heaven, he knew Him. He was pricked to the heart, and he may have spoken [3752] also of Him this testimony which now we acknowledge in this Psalm. Thou didst cover Thy face, and we were sick: illumine Thou the same, and we shall be whole.

4. "O Lord God of virtues, how long wilt Thou be angry with the prayer of Thy servant?" (ver. 4). Now Thy servant. Thou wast angry at the prayer of Thy enemy, wilt Thou still be angry with the prayer of Thy servant? Thou hast converted us, we know Thee, and wilt Thou still be angry with the prayer of Thy servant? Thou wilt evidently be angry, in fact, as a father correcting, not as a judge condemning. In such manner evidently Thou wilt be angry, because it hath been written, "My son, drawing near unto the service of God, stand thou in righteousness and in fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation." [3753] Think not that now the wrath of God hath passed away, because thou hast been converted. The wrath of God [3754] hath passed away from thee, but only so that it condemn not for everlasting. But He scourgeth, He spareth not: because He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. [3755] If thou refusest to be scourged, why dost thou desire to be received? He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. He who did not spare even His only Son, scourgeth every one. But nevertheless, "How long wilt Thou be angry with the prayer of Thy servant?" No longer thine enemy: but, "Thou wilt be angry with the prayer of Thy servant," how long? There followeth: "Thou wilt feed us with the bread of tears, and wilt give us to drink with tears in measure" (ver. 5). What is, "in measure"? Hear the Apostle: "Faithful is God, who doth not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able to bear." [3756] The measure is, according to your powers: the measure is, that thou be instructed, not that thou be crushed.

5. "Thou hast set us for a contradiction to our neighbours" (ver. 6). Evidently this did come to pass: for out of Asaph were chosen they that should go to the Gentiles and preach Christ, and should have it said to them, "Who is this proclaimer of new demons?" [3757] "Thou hast set us for a contradiction to our neighbours." For they were preaching Him who was the subject of the contradiction. Whom did they preach? That after He was dead, Christ rose again. Who would hear this? Who would know this? It is a new thing. But signs did follow, and to an incredible thing miracles gave credibility. He was contradicted, but the contradictor was conquered, and from being a contradictor was made a believer. There, however, was a great flame: there the martyrs fed with the bread of tears, and given to drink in tears, but in measure, not more than they are able to bear; in order that after the measure of tears there should follow a crown of joys. "And our enemies have sneered at us." And where are they that sneered? For a long while it was said, Who are they that worship the Dead One, that adore the Crucified? For a long while so it was said. Where is the nose of them that sneered? Now do not they that censure flee into caves, that they may not be seen? But ye see what followeth: "O Lord God of virtues, convert us, and show Thy face, and we shall be whole" (ver. 7). "A vineyard out of Egypt Thou hast brought over, Thou hast cast out the nations, and hast planted her" (ver. 8). It was done, we know. How many nations were cast out? Amorites, Cethites, Jebusites, Gergesites, and Evites: after whose expulsion and overthrow, there was led in the people delivered out of Egypt, into the land of promise. Whence the vineyard was cast out, and where she was planted, we have heard. Let us see what next was done, how she believed, how much she grew, what ground she covered.

6. "A way Thou hast made in the sight of her, and hast planted the roots of her, and she hath filled the land" (ver. 9). Would she have filled the land, unless a way had been made in the sight of her? What was the way which was made in the sight of her? "I am," He saith, "the Way, the Truth, and the Life." [3758] With reason she hath filled the land. That hath now been said of this vineyard, which hath been accomplished at the last. But in the mean time what? "She hath covered the mountains with her shadow, and with her branch the cedars of God" (ver. 10). "Thou hast stretched out her boughs even unto the sea, and even unto the river her shoots" (ver. 11). This requireth the office of an expositor, that of a reader and praiser [3759] doth not suffice: aid me with attention; for the mention of this vineyard in this Psalm is wont to overcloud with darkness the inattentive....But nevertheless the first Jewish nation was this vine. But the Jewish nation reigned as far as the sea and as far as the river. As far as the sea; it appeareth in Scripture [3760] that the sea was in the vicinity thereof. And as far as the river Jordan. For on the other side of Jordan some part of the Jews was established, but within Jordan was the whole nation. Therefore, "even unto the sea and even unto the river," is the kingdom of the Jews, the kingdom of Israel: but not "from sea even unto sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the round world;" [3761] this is the future perfection of the vineyard, concerning which in this place he hath foretold. When, I say, he had foretold to thee the perfection, he returneth to the beginning, out of which the perfection was made. Of the beginning wilt thou hear? "Even unto the river." Of the end wilt thou hear? "He shall have dominion from sea even unto sea:" [3762] that is, "she hath filled the earth." Let us look then to the testimony of Asaph, as to what was done to the first vineyard, and what must be expected for the second vineyard, nay to the same vineyard....What then, the vineyard before the sight whereof a way was made, that she should fill the earth, at first was where? "Her shadow covered the mountains." Who are the mountains? The Prophets. Why did her shadow cover them? Because darkly they spake the things which were foretold as to come. Thou hearest from the Prophets, Keep the Sabbath-day, on the eighth day circumcise a child, offer sacrifice of ram, of calf, of he-goat. Be not troubled, her shadow doth cover the mountains of God; there will come after the shadow a manifestation. "And her shrubs the cedars of God," that is, she hath covered the cedars of God; very lofty, but of God. For the cedars are types of the proud, that must needs be overthrown. The "cedars of Lebanon," the heights of the world, this vineyard did cover in growing, and the mountains of God, all the holy Prophets and Patriarchs.

7. Then what? "Wherefore hast Thou thrown down her enclosure?" (ver. 12). Now ye see the overthrow of that nation of the Jews: already out of another Psalm ye have heard, "with axe and hammer [3763] they have thrown her down." [3764] When could this have been done, except her enclosure had been thrown down. What is her enclosure? Her defence. For she bore herself proudly against her planter. The servants that were sent to her and demanded a recompense, the husbandmen they scourged, beat, slew: there came also the Only Son, they said, "This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him, and our own the inheritance will be:" they killed Him, and out of the vineyard they cast Him forth. [3765] When cast forth, He did more perfectly possess the place whence He was cast forth. For thus He threatens her through Isaiah, "I will throw down her enclosure." Wherefore? "For I looked that she should bring forth grapes, but she brought forth thorns." [3766] I looked for fruit from thence, and I found sin. Why then dost thou ask, O Asaph, "Why hast Thou thrown down her enclosure?" For knowest thou not why? I looked that she should do judgment, and she did iniquity. Must not her enclosure needs be thrown down? And there came the Gentiles when the enclosure was thrown down, the vineyard was assailed, and the kingdom of the Jews effaced. This at first he is lamenting, but not without hope. For of directing the heart he is now speaking, that is, for the "Assyrians," for "men directing," the Psalm is. "Wherefore hast Thou thrown down her enclosure: and there pluck off her grapes all men passing along the way." What is "men passing along the way?" Men having dominion for a time.

8. "There hath laid her waste the boar from the wood" (ver. 13). In the boar from the wood what do we understand? To the Jews a swine is an abomination, and in a swine they imagine as it were the uncleanness of the Gentiles. But by the Gentiles was overthrown the nation of the Jews: but that king who overthrew, was not only an unclean swine, but was also a boar. For what is a boar but a savage swine, a furious swine? "A boar from the wood hath laid her waste." "From the wood," from the Gentiles. For she was a vineyard, but the Gentiles were woods. But when the Gentiles believed, there was said what? "Then there shall exult all the trees of the woods." [3767] "The boar from the wood hath laid her waste; and a singular wild beast hath devoured her." "A singular wild beast" is what? The very boar that laid her waste is the singular wild beast. Singular, because proud. For thus saith every proud one, It is I, it is I, and no other.

9. But with what profit is this? "O God of virtues turn Thou nevertheless" (ver. 14). Although these things have been done, "Turn Thou nevertheless." "Look from heaven and see, and visit this vineyard." "And perfect Thou her whom Thy right hand hath planted" (ver. 15). No other plant Thou, but this make Thou perfect. For she is the very seed of Abraham, she is the very seed in whom all nations shall be blessed: [3768] there is the root where is borne the graffed wild olive. "Perfect Thou this vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted." But wherein doth He perfect? "And upon the Son of man, whom Thou hast strengthened to Thyself." What can be more evident? Why do ye still expect, that we should still explain to you in discourse, and should we not rather cry out with you in admiration, "Perfect Thou this vineyard which Thy right hand hath planted, and upon the Son of man" perfect her? What Son of man? Him "whom Thou hast strengthened to Thyself." A mighty stronghold: build as much as thou art able. "For other foundation no one is able to lay, except that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus." [3769]

10. "Things burned with fire, and dug up, by the rebuke of Thy countenance shall perish" (ver. 16). What are the things burned with fire and dug up which shall perish from the rebuke of His countenance? Let us see and perceive what are the things burned with fire and dug up. Christ hath rebuked what? Sins: by the rebuke of His countenance sins have perished. Why then are sins burned with fire and dug up? Of all sins, two things are the cause in man, desire and fear. [3770] Think, examine, question your hearts, sift your consciences, see whether there can be sins, except they be either of desire, or of fear. There is set before thee a reward to induce thee to sin, that is, a thing which delighteth thee; thou doest it, because thou desirest it. But perchance thou wilt not be allured by bribes; thou art terrified with menaces, thou doest it because thou fearest. A man would bribe thee, for example, to bear false witness. Countless cases there are, but I am setting before you the plainer cases, whereby ye may imagine the rest. Hast thou hearkened unto God, and hast thou said in thy heart, "What doth it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but of his own soul suffer loss?" [3771] I am not allured by a bribe to lose my soul [3772] to gain money. He turneth himself to stir up fear within thee, he who was not able to corrupt thee with a bribe, beginneth to threaten loss, banishment, massacres, perchance, and death. Therein now, if desire prevailed not, perchance fear will prevail to make thee sin....What had evil fear done? It had dug up, as it were. For love doth inflame, fear doth humble: therefore, sins of evil love, with fire were lighted: sins of evil fear were dug up. On the one hand, evil fear doth humble, and good love doth light; but in different ways respectively. For even the husbandman interceding for the tree, that it should not be cut down, saith, "I will dig about it, and will apply a basket of dung." [3773] The dug trench doth signify the godly humility of one fearing, and the basket of dung the profitable squalid state of one repenting. But concerning the fire of good love the Lord saith, "Fire I have come to send into the world." [3774] With which fire may the fervent in spirit burn, and they too that are inflamed with the love of God and their neighbour. And thus, as all good works are wrought by good fear and good love, so by evil fear and evil love all sins are committed. Therefore, "Things set alight with fire and dug up," to wit, all sins, "by the rebuke of Thy countenance shall perish."

11. "Let Thy hand be upon the Man of Thy right hand, and upon the Son of Man whom Thou hast strengthened Thyself" (ver. 17). "And we depart not from Thee....Thou wilt quicken us, and Thy Name we will invoke" (ver. 18). Thou shalt be sweet to us, "Thou wilt quicken us." For aforetime we did love earth, not Thee: but Thou hast mortified our members which are upon the earth. [3775] For the Old Testament, having earthly promises, seemeth to exhort that God should not be loved for nought, but that He should be loved because He giveth something on earth. What dost thou love, so as not to love God? Tell me. Love, if thou canst, anything which He hath not made. Look round upon the whole creation, see whether in any place thou art held with the birdlime of desire, and hindered from loving the Creator, except it be by that very thing which He hath Himself created, whom thou despisest. But why dost thou love those things, except because they are beautiful? Can they be as beautiful as He by whom they were made? Thou admirest these things, because thou seest not Him: but through those things which thou admirest, love Him whom thou seest not. Examine the creation; if of itself it is, stay therein: but if it is of Him, for no other reason is it prejudicial to a lover, than because it is preferred to the Creator. Why have I said this? With reference to this verse, brethren. Dead, I say, were they that did worship God that it might be well with them after the flesh: "For to be wise after the flesh is death:" [3776] and dead are they that do not worship God gratis, that is, because of Himself He is good, not because He giveth such and such good things, which He giveth even to men not good. Money wilt thou have of God? Even a robber hath it. Wife, abundance of children, soundness of body, the world's dignity, observe how many evil men have. Is this all for the sake of which thou dost worship Him? Thy feet will totter, [3777] thou wilt suppose thyself to worship without cause, when thou seest those things to be with them who do not worship Him. All these things, I say, He giveth even to evil men, Himself alone He reserveth for good men. "Thou wilt quicken us;" for dead we were, when to earthly things we did cleave; dead we were, when of the earthly man we did bear the image. "Thou wilt quicken us;" Thou wilt renew us, the life of the inward man Thou wilt give us. "And Thy Name we will invoke;" that is, Thee we will love. Thou to us wilt be the sweet forgiver of our sins, Thou wilt be the entire reward of the justified. "O Lord God of virtues, convert us, and show Thy face, and we shall be whole" (ver. 20).


[3741] Lat. LXXIX. A Sermon delivered to the people. [3742] Rom. x. 4. [3743] Ps. lxxviii. 8, p. 369, supra. [3744] Mortificatum. [3745] John xii. 24. [3746] See St. Macarius, Hom. 1. [3747] Rom. xiii. 10. [3748] 1 John iv. 8. [3749] Matt. xxvii. 40. [3750] Gen. xxxii. 26. [3751] 2 Cor. xiii. 4. [3752] Oxf. mss. "he spoke." [3753] Ecclus. ii. 1. [3754] So Oxf. mss.; Ben. "it." [3755] Heb. xii. 6. [3756] 1 Cor. x. 13. [3757] Acts xvii. 18. E.V. "strange gods." [3758] John xiv. 6. [3759] One ms. "hearer." [3760] Numb. xxxiv. 5. [3761] Ps. lxxii. 8. [3762] Ps. lxxii. 8. [3763] Fractorio. [3764] Ps. lxxiv. 6. [3765] Matt. xxi. 35, etc. [3766] Isa. v. 2. [3767] Ps. xcvi. 12. [3768] Gen. xxii. 18. [3769] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [3770] All sins are either of desire or of fear. [3771] Matt. xvi. 26. [3772] Or, "life." [3773] Luke xiii. 8. [3774] Luke xii. 49. [3775] Col. iii. 5. [3776] Rom. viii. 6. [3777] Ps. lxxiii. 2. .

Psalm LXXXI. [3778]

1. For a Title this Psalm hath, "Unto the end for the presses, on the fifth of the Sabbath, a Psalm to Asaph himself." Into one title many mysteries are heaped together, still so that the lintel of the Psalm indicates the things within. As we have to speak of the presses, let no one expect that we shall speak of a vat, of a press, of olive baskets; [3779] because neither the Psalm hath this, and therefore it indicateth the greater mystery....

No such thing did ye hear in this when it was reading. Therefore take the presses for the mystery of the Church, which is now transacting. In the presses we observe three things, pressure, and of the pressure two things, one to be laid up, the other to be thrown away. There takes place then in the press a treading, a crushing, a weight: and with these the oil strains out secretly into the vat, [3780] the lees run openly down the streets.

Look intently on this great spectacle. For God ceaseth not to exhibit to us that which we may look upon with great joy, nor is the madness of the Circus to be compared with this spectacle. That belongeth to the lees, this to the oil. When therefore ye hear the blasphemers babble impudently and say that distresses abound in Christian times; for ye know that they love to say this: and it is an old proverb, yet one that began from Christian times, "God gives no rain; count it to the Christians!" [3781] Although it was those of old that said thus. But these now say also, "That God sends rain, count it to the Christians! God sends no rain; we sow not. God sends rain; we reap not!" And they wilfully make that an occasion of showing pride, which ought to make them more earnest in supplication, choosing rather to blaspheme than to pray.

When therefore they talk of such things, when they make such boasts, when they say these things, and say them in defiance, not with fear, but with loftiness, let them not disturb you. For suppose that pressures abound; be thou oil. Let the lees, black with the darkness of ignorance, be insolent; and let it, as though cast away in the streets, go gibing publicly: but do thou by thyself in thy heart, where He who seeth in secret will requite thee, strain off into the vat.

...To name some one thing about which even they murmur who make them: How great plunderings, they say, are there in our times, how great distresses of the innocent, how great robberies of other men's goods! Thus indeed thou takest notice of the lees, that other men's goods are seized; to the oil thou givest no heed, that to the poor are given even men's own. The old time had no such plunderers of other men's goods: but the old time had no such givers of their own goods....

2. Wherefore also "on the fifth of the sabbath"? [3782] What is this? Let us go back to the first works of God, if perchance we may not there find somewhat in which we may also understand a mystery. For the sabbath is the seventh day, on which "God rested from all His works," [3783] intimating the great mystery of our future resting from all our works. First of the sabbath then is called that first day, which we also call the Lord's day; second of the sabbath, the second day;...and the sabbath itself the seventh day. See ye therefore to whom this Psalm speaketh. For it seems to me that it speaketh to the baptized. For on the fifth day God from the waters created animals: on the fifth day, that is, on the "fifth of the sabbath," God said, "Let the waters bring forth creeping things of living souls." [3784] See ye, therefore, ye in whom the waters have already brought forth creeping things of living souls. For ye belong to the presses, and in you, whom the waters have brought forth, one thing is strained out, another is thrown away. For there are many that live not worthily of the baptism which they have received. For how many that are baptized have chosen rather to be filling the Circus than this Basilica! How many that are baptized are either making booths in the streets, or complaining that they are not made!

But this Psalm, "For the presses," and "on the fifth of the sabbath," is sung "unto Asaph." Asaph was a certain man called by this name, as Idithun, as Core, as other names that we find in the titles of the Psalms: yet the interpretation of this name intimates the mystery of a hidden truth. Asaph, in fact, in Latin is interpreted "congregation." Therefore, "For the presses, on the fifth of the sabbath," it is sung "unto Asaph," that is, for a distinguishing pressure, to the baptized, born again of water, the Psalm is sung to the Lord's congregation. We have read the title on the lintel, and have understood what it means by these "presses." Now if you please let us see the very house of the composition, that is, the interior of the press. Let us enter, look in, rejoice, fear, desire, avoid. For all these things ye are to find in this inward house, that is, in the text of the Psalm itself, when we shall have begun to read, and, with the Lord's help, to speak what He grants us.

3. Behold yourselves, O Asaph, congregation of the Lord. "Exult ye unto God our helper" (ver. 1). Ye who are gathered together to-day, ye are this day the congregation of the Lord, if indeed unto you the Psalm is sung, "Exult ye unto God our helper." Others exult unto the Circus, ye unto God: others exult unto their deceiver, do ye exult unto your helper: others exult unto their god their belly, do ye exult unto your God your helper. "Jubilate unto the God of Jacob." Because ye also belong to Jacob: yea, ye are Jacob, the younger people to which the elder is servant. [3785] "Jubilate unto the God of Jacob." Whatsoever ye cannot explain in words, ye do not therefore forbear exulting: what ye shall be able to explain, cry out: what ye cannot, jubilate. For from the abundance of joys, he that cannot find words sufficient, useth to break out into jubilating; "Jubilate unto the God of Jacob."

4. "Take the Psalm and give the tabret" (ver. 2). Both "take," and "give." What is, "take"? what, "give"? "Take the Psalm, and give the tabret." The Apostle Paul saith in a certain place, [3786] reproving and grieving, that no one had communicated with him in the matter of giving and receiving. What is, "in the matter of giving and receiving," but that which he hath openly set forth in another place. [3787] "If we have sowed unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we reap your carnal things." And it is true that a tabret, which is made of hide, belongs to the flesh. The Psalm, therefore, is spiritual, the tabret, carnal. Therefore, people of God, congregation of God, "take ye the Psalm, and give the tabret:" take ye spiritual things, and give carnal. This also is what at that blessed Martyr's table [3788] we exhorted you, that receiving spiritual things ye should give carnal. For these which are built for the time, are needful for receiving the bodies either of the living or of the dead, but in time that is passing by. Shall we after God's judgment take up these buildings to Heaven? Yet without these we shall not be able to do at this time the things which belong to the possessing of Heaven. If therefore ye are eager in getting spiritual things, be ye devout in expending carnal things. "Take the Psalm, and give the tabret:" take our voice, return your hands.

5. "The pleasant psaltery, [3789] with the harp." I remember that we once intimated to your charity the difference of psaltery and harp. [3790] ...For heavenly is the preaching of the word of God. But if we wait for heavenly things, let us not be sluggish in working at earthly things; because, "the psaltery is pleasant," but, "with the harp." The same is expressed in another way as above, "Take the Psalm, and give the tabret:" here for "Psalm," is put "psaltery," for "tabret," "harp." Of this, however, we are admonished, that to the preaching of God's word we make answer by bodily works.

6. "Sound the trumpet" (ver. 3). This is, Loudly and boldly preach, be not affrighted! as the Prophet says in a certain place, "Cry out, and lift up as with a trumpet thy voice." [3791] Sound the trumpet in the beginning of the month of the trumpet." It was ordered, that in the beginning of the month there should be a sounding of the trumpet: and this even now the Jews do in bodily sort, after the spirit they understand it not. For the beginning of the month, is the new moon: the new moon, is the new life. What is the new moon? "If any, then, is in Christ, he is a new creature." [3792] What is, "sound the trumpet in the beginning of the month of the trumpet"? With all confidence preach ye the new life, fear not the noise of the old life.

7. "Because it is a commandment for Israel, and a judgment for the God of Jacob" (ver. 4). Where a commandment, there judgment. For, "They that have sinned in the Law, by the Law shall be judged." [3793] And the very Giver of the commandment, the Lord Christ, the Word made flesh, saith, "For judgment I am come into the world, that they that see not may see, and they that see may be made blind." [3794] What is, "That they that see not may see, they that see be made blind," but that the lowly be exalted, the proud thrown down? For not they that see are to be made blind, but those who to themselves seem to see are to be convicted of blindness. This is brought about in the mystery of the press, that they who see may not see, and they that see be made blind.

8. "A testimony in Joseph He made that" (ver. 5). Look you, brethren, what is it? Joseph is interpreted augmentation. Ye remember, ye know of Joseph sold into Egypt: Joseph sold into Egypt [3795] is Christ passing over to the Gentiles. There Joseph after tribulations was exalted, and here Christ, after the suffering of the Martyrs, was glorified. Thenceforth to Joseph the Gentiles rather belong, and thenceforth augmentation; because, "Many are the children of her that was desolate, rather than of her that hath the husband." [3796] "He made it, till he should go out of the land of Egypt." Observe that also here the "fifth of the sabbath" is signified: when Joseph went out from the land of Egypt, that is, the people multiplied through Joseph, he was caused to pass through the Red Sea. Therefore then also the waters brought forth creeping things of living souls. [3797] No other thing was it that there in figure the passage of that people through the sea foreshowed, than the passing of the Faithful through Baptism; the apostle is witness: for "I would not have you ignorant, brethren," he said, "that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." [3798] Nothing else then the passing through the sea did signify, but the Sacrament of the baptized; nothing else the pursuing Egyptians, but the multitude of past sins. Ye see most evident mysteries. The Egyptians press, they urge; so then sins follow close, but no farther than to the water. Why then dost thou fear, who hast not yet come, to come to the Baptism of Christ, to pass through the Red Sea? What is "Red"? Consecrated with the Blood of the Lord. Why fearest thou to come? The consciousness, perhaps, of some huge offences goads and tortures in thee thy mind, and says to thee that it is so great a thing thou hast committed, that thou mayest despair to have it remitted thee. Fear lest there remain anything of thy sins, if there lived any one of the Egyptians! [3799]

But when thou shalt have passed the Red Sea, when thou shalt have been led forth out of thine offences "with a mighty hand and with a strong arm," [3800] thou wilt perceive mysteries that thou knowest not: since Joseph himself too, "when he came out of the land of Egypt, heard a language which he knew not." Thou shalt hear a language which thou knowest not: which they that know now hear and recognise, bearing witness and knowing. Thou shalt hear where thou oughtest to have thy heart: [3801] which just now when I said many understood and answered by acclamation, the rest stood mute, because they have not heard the language which they knew not. Let them hasten, then, let them pass over, let them learn.

9. "He turned away from burdens his back" (ver. 6). Who "turned away from burdens his back," but He that cried, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden"? [3802] In another manner this same thing is signified. What the pursuit of the Egyptians did, the same thing do the burdens of sins. As if thou shouldest say, From what burdens? "His hands in the basket did serve." By the basket are signified servile works; to cleanse, to manure, to carry earth, is done with a basket, [3803] such works are servile: because "every one that doeth sin, is the slave of sin;" and "if the Son shall have made you free, then will ye be free indeed." [3804] Justly also are the rejected things of the world counted as baskets, but even baskets did God fill with morsels; "Twelve baskets" [3805] did He fill with morsels; because "He chose the rejected things of this world to confound the things that were mighty." [3806] But also when with the basket Joseph did serve, he then carried earth, because he did make bricks. "His hands in the basket did serve."

10. "In tribulation thou didst call on Me, and I delivered thee" (ver. 8). Let each Christian conscience recognise itself, if it have devoutly passed the Red Sea, [3807] if with faith in believing and observing it hath heard a strange language which it knew not, let it recognise itself as having been heard in its tribulation. For that was a great tribulation, to be weighed down with loads of sins. How does the conscience, lifted from the earth, rejoice. Lo, thou art baptized, thy conscience which was yesterday overladen, to-day rejoiceth thee. Thou hast been heard in tribulation, remember thy tribulation. Before thou camest to the water, what anxiety didst thou bear on thee! what fastings didst thou practise! what tribulations didst thou carry in thy heart! what inward, pious, devout prayers! Slain are thine enemies; all thy sins are blotted out. In tribulation thou didst call upon Me, and I delivered thee.

11. "I heard thee in the hidden part of the tempest." Not in a tempest of the sea, but in a tempest of the heart. "I proved thee in the water of contradiction." Truly, brethren, truly, he that was heard in the hidden part of the tempest ought to be proved in the water of contradiction. For when he hath believed, when he hath been baptized, when he hath begun to go in the way of God, when he hath striven to be strained into the vat, and hath drawn himself out from the lees that run in the street, he will have many disturbers, many insulters, many detractors, many discouragers, many that even threaten where they can, that deter, that depress. This is all the "water of contradiction." I suppose there are some here to-day, for instance, I think it likely there are some here whom their friends wished to hurry away to the circus, and to I know not what triflings of this day's festivity: perchance they have brought those persons with them to church. But whether they have brought those with them, or whether they have by them not permitted themselves to be led away to the circus, in the "water of contradiction" have they been tried. Do not then be ashamed to proclaim what thou knowest, to defend even among blasphemers what thou hast believed....However much the bad that are aliens may rage, O that our own bad people would not help them!

Ye recollect what was said of Christ, that He was thus born for "the fall of many, and the rising again of many, and for a sign to be spoken against." [3808] We know, we see: the sign of the Cross has been set up, and it has been spoken against. There has been speaking against the glory of the Cross: but there was a title over the Cross which was not to be corrupted. For there is a title in the Psalm, [3809] "For the inscription of the title, corrupt thou not." It was a sign to be spoken against: for the Jews said, "Make it not, King of the Jews, but make it, that He said I am the King of the Jews." [3810] Conquered was the contradiction; it was answered, "What I have written, I have written."

12. All this, from the beginning of the Psalm up to this verse, we have heard of the oil of the press. What remains is rather for grief and warning: for it belongs to the lees of the press, even to the end; perchance also not without a meaning in the interposition of the "Diapsalma." But even this too is profitable to hear, that he who sees himself already of the oil may rejoice; he that is in danger of running among the lees may beware. To both give heed, choose the one, fear the other.

"Hear, O My people, and I will speak, and will bear witness unto thee"(ver. 8). For it is not to a strange people, not to a people that belongs not to the press: "Judge ye," He saith, "between Me and My vineyard." [3811]

13. "Israel, if thou shalt have heard Me, there shall not be in thee any new god" (ver. 9). A "new god" is one made for the time: but our God is not new, but from eternity to eternity. And our Christ is new, perchance, as Man, [3812] but eternal God. For what before the beginning? And truly, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." [3813] And our Christ Himself is the Word made flesh, that He might dwell in us. [3814] Far be it, then, that there should be in any one a new god. A new god is either a stone or a phantom. He is not, saith one, a stone; I have a silver and a gold one. Justly did he choose to name the very costly things, who said, "The idols of the nations are silver and gold." Great are they, because they are of gold and silver; costly they are, shining they are; but yet, "Eyes they have, and see not!" [3815] New are these gods. What newer than a god out of a workshop? Yea, though those now old ones spiders' webs have covered over, they that are not eternal are new. So much for the Pagans. [3816] ...

14. For if there be error in thee, Thou wilt not worship a strange god. If thou think not of a false god, thou wilt not worship a manufactured god: for "there will not" be in thee any strange god. "For I am." Why wouldest thou adore what is not? "For I am the Lord thy God" (ver. 10). Because "I am I that Am," and indeed "I Am" He saith, I that Am, over every creature: yet to thee what good have I afforded in time? "Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt." Not to that people alone is it said. For we all were brought out of the land of Egypt, we have all passed through the Red Sea; our enemies pursuing us have perished in the water. Let us not be ungrateful to our God; let us not forget God that abideth, and fabricate in ourselves a new god. "I, who led thee out of the land of Egypt," saith God. "Open wide thy mouth, and I will fill it." Thou sufferest straitness in thyself because of the new god set up in thy heart; break the vain image, cast down from thy conscience the feigned idol: "open wide thy mouth," in confessing, in loving: "and I will fill it," because with me is the fountain of life.

15. "And My people obeyed not My voice" (ver. 11). For He would not speak these things except to His own people. For, "we know that whatsoever things the Law saith, it saith to them that are in the Law." [3817] "And Israel did not listen to Me." Who? To whom? Israel to Me. O ungrateful soul! Through Me the soul, by Me the soul called, by Me brought back to hope, by Me washed from sins! "And Israel did not listen to Me!" For they are baptized and pass through the Red Sea: but on the way they murmur, gainsay, complain, are stirred with seditions, ungrateful to Him who delivered them from pursuing enemies, who leads through the dry land, through the desert, yet with food and drink, with light by night and shade by day.

16. "And I let them go according to the affections of their heart" (ver. 12). Behold the press: the orifices are open, the lees run. "And I let them go," not according to the healthfulness of My commands; but, according to the affections of their heart: I gave them up to themselves. The Apostle also saith, "God gave them up to the desires of their own hearts." [3818] "I let them go according to the affection of their heart, they shall go in their own affections." There is what ye shudder at, if at least ye are straining out into the hidden vats of the Lord, if at least ye have conceived a hearty love for His storehouses, there is what ye shudder at. Some stand up for the circus, some for the amphitheatre, some for the booths in the streets some for the theatres, some for this, some for that, some finally for their "new gods;" "they shall go in their own affections."

17. "If My people would have heard Me, if Israel would have walked in My ways" (ver. 13). For perchance that Israel saith, Behold I sin, it is manifest, I go after the affections of my own heart: but what can I do? [3819] The devil doth this. Demons do this. What is the devil? Who are the demons? Certainly thine enemies. "Unto nothing all their enemies I would have brought down; and on them that oppress them I would have sent forth My hand" (ver. 14). But now what have they to do to complain of enemies? Themselves are become the worse enemies. For how? What followeth? Of enemies ye complain, yourselves, what are ye?

18. "The enemies of God have lied unto Him" (ver. 15). Dost thou renounce? I renounce. [3820] And he returns to what he renounced. In fact, what things dost thou renounce, except bad deeds, diabolical deeds, deeds to be condemned of God, thefts, plunderings, perjuries, manslayings, adulteries, sacrileges, abominable rites, curious arts. [3821] ...

19. If therefore all those works "shall not possess the kingdom of God" (yea not the works, but "they that do such things;" [3822] for such works there shall be none in the fire: for they shall not, while burning in that fire, be committing theft or adultery; but "they that do such things shall not possess the kingdom of God"); they shall not therefore be on the right hand, with those to whom it shall be said, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom:" because, "they that do such things shall not possess the kingdom of God." If therefore on the right they shall not be, there remaineth not but that they must be on the left. To those on the left what shall He say? "Go ye into eternal fire." Because, "their time shall be for ever."

20. Explain to us, then, saith one, how those that build wood, hay, stubble, on the foundation, do not perish, but "are saved, yet so as by fire"? An obscure question indeed that, but as I am able I tell you briefly. Brethren, there are men altogether despisers of this world, to whom nothing is pleasant that flows in the course of time, they cling not by love to any earthly works, holy, chaste, continent, just, perchance even selling all their goods and distributing to the poor, or "possessing as though they possessed not, and using this world as though not using it." [3823] But there are others who cling to things allowed to infirmity with a degree of affection. He robs not another of his estate, but so loves his own, that if he loses it he will be disturbed. He does not covet another's wife, but so clings to his own, so cohabits with his own, as not therein to keep the measure prescribed in the laws, for the sake of begetting children. He does not take away other men's things, but reclaims his own, and has a law-suit with his brother. For to such it is said, "Now indeed there is altogether a fault among you, because ye have law-suits with each other." [3824] But these very suits he orders to be tried in the Church, not to be dragged into court, yet he says they are faults. For a Christian contends for earthly things more than becomes one to whom the kingdom of Heaven is promised. Not the whole of his heart doth he raise upward, but some part of it he draggeth on the earth....Therefore if thou lovest thy possession, yet dost not for its sake commit violence, dost not for its sake bear false witness, dost not for its sake commit manslaughter, dost not for its sake swear falsely, dost not for its sake deny Christ: in that thou wilt not for its sake do these things, thou hast Christ for a foundation. But yet because thou lovest it, and art saddened if thou losest it, upon the foundation thou hast placed, not gold, or silver, or precious stones, but wood, hay, stubble. Saved therefore thou wilt be, when that begins to burn which thou hast built, yet so as by fire. For let no one on this foundation building adulteries, blasphemies, sacrileges, idolatries, perjuries, think he shall be "saved through fire," as though they were the "wood, hay, stubble:" but he that buildeth the love of earthly things on the foundation of the kingdom of Heaven, that is upon Christ, his love of temporal things shall be burned, and himself shall be saved through the right [3825] foundation.

21. ..."And He fed them of the fat of wheat, and from the rock with honey He satisfied them" (ver. 16). In the wilderness from the rock He brought forth water, [3826] not honey. "Honey" is wisdom, holding the first place for sweetness among the viands of the heart. How many enemies of the Lord, then, that lie unto the Lord, are fed not only of the fat of wheat, but also from the rock with honey, from the wisdom of Christ? How many are delighted with His word, and with the knowledge of His sacraments, with the unfolding of His parables, how many are delighted, how many applaud with clamour! And this honey is not from any chance person, but "from the rock." But "the Rock was Christ." [3827] How many, then, are satisfied with that honey, cry out, and say, It is sweet; say, Nothing better, nothing sweeter could be thought or said! and yet the enemies of the Lord have lied unto Him. I like not to dwell any more on matters of grief; although the Psalm endeth in terror to this purpose, yet from the end of it, I pray you, let us return to the heading: "Exult unto God our Helper." Turned unto God. [3828]


[3778] Lat. LXXX. A Sermon to the people of Carthage. [He makes this preface: "We have undertaken to speak to you of the present Psalm; let your quietness aid our voice, for it is somewhat worn out: the attention of the hearers, and the help of Him who bids me speak, will give it strength."--C.] [3779] Fiscinis. [3780] Gemellarium. [3781] Duc ad Christianos; al. dicat Christianus, with other variations. The Ben. editor refers to De Civ. Dei, ii. c. 3, where a similar proverb is noticed; and Tertull. Apol. c. 40, "If the Tiber rises to the walls, if the Nile rises not upon the fields, presently the cry is, `The Christians to the lions!'" and St. Cyprian to Demetrianus, speaking of the like complaints with respect to other calamities; to which may be added, St. Aug. De. Civ. Dei, i. c. 1, of the sack of Rome, such a complaint being the occasion of his writing the book for its refutation. [See this series, vol. ii. p. xi., and A.N.F. vol. iii. 47.--C.] [3782] [Or, "week."--C.] [3783] Gen. ii. 2. [3784] Gen. i. 20. [3785] Gen. xxv. 23. [3786] Phil. iv. 15. [3787] 1 Cor. ix. 11. [3788] St. Cyprian's, who is named in § 21, note 4; namely, at Carthage, on the spot of his martyrdom. "In that same place," says St. Augustin, Ser. 113, "a table was constructed to God, which is called Cyprian's table, not because Cyprian ever ate there, but because there he was offered up, and because by that very offering of his he prepared that table, not to feed or be fed on, but whereon sacrifice might be offered to God, to whom himself also was offered."--Ben. [3789] Or, "The psaltery is pleasant." [3790] [He repeats. See Ps. xliii. 4, p. 139, supra.--C.] [3791] Isa. lviii. 1. [3792] 2 Cor. v. 17. [3793] Rom. ii. 12. [3794] John ix. 39. [3795] Oxf. mss. repeat the words. [3796] Isa. liv. 1. [3797] Gen. i. 20. [3798] 1 Cor. x. 1, 2. [3799] Exod. xiv. 29, 30. [3800] Exod. xiii. 3; Deut. vi. 21. [3801] Matt. vi. 21, and Off. Euch. [3802] Matt. xi. 28. [3803] To this day it is common in many countries to do with a basket what we usually do with a barrow. [3804] John viii. 34-36. [3805] Matt. xiv. 20. [3806] 1 Cor. i. 27. [3807] Exod. xiv. 22; 1 Cor. x. 2. [3808] Luke ii. 34. [3809] Ps. lx. Tit. [3810] John xix. 21. [3811] Isa. v. 3. [3812] Recens fortè Homo, sed sempiternus Deus. Quoted by Peter Lombard, Sentences, book iii. dist. 12.--Ben. [3813] John i. 1. [3814] John i. 14. [3815] Ps. cxv. 4, 5. [3816] [He turns to the Arians, Manichæans, and other heretics.--C.] [3817] Rom. iii. 19. [3818] Rom. i. 24. [3819] Quid facio? Perhaps, What do I do? i.e. What of it is my doing? [3820] He alludes to the form of interrogatory at Baptism. [3821] Curiositatibus. See Acts xix. 19. [3822] Gal. v. 21. [3823] 1 Cor. vii. 30, 31. [3824] 1 Cor. vi. 7. [3825] Idoneum. [3826] Exod. xvii. 6. [3827] 1 Cor. x. 4. [3828] Possibly alluding to the last verse of Ps. lxxx. Or it may direct them to turn to God and repeat the Psalm. A similar incidental addition occurs at the end of the exposition of Ps. lxii. [After this ceremony (after the word) he adds: "Not lightly have your minds in the name of Christ been occupied with the Divine exhibitions, and raised to earnestness, not only for desiring some things, but also for shunning some things. These are the exhibitions that are useful, healthful, building up, not destroying: yea both destroying and building up, destroying `new gods,' building up faith in the true and eternal God. Also for to-morrow we invite your love. To-morrow, they have, as we have heard, a sea in the theatre; let us have a harbour in Christ. But since the day after to-morrow, that is, the fourth of the week, we cannot meet at the `Table of Cyprian,' because it is the festival of the holy Martyrs, to-morrow let us meet at that Table." See p. 391, supra.--C.] .

Psalm LXXXII. [3829]

1. This Psalm, like others similarly named, was so entitled either from the name of the man who wrote it, or from the explanation of that same name, so as to refer in meaning to the Synagogue, which Asaph signifies; especially as this is intimated in the first verse. For it begins, "God stood in the synagogue of gods" (ver. 1). Far however be it from us to understand by these Gods the gods of the Gentiles, or idols, or any creature in heaven or earth except men; for a little after this verse the same Psalm relates and explains what Gods it means in whose synagogue God stood, where it says, "I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High: but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes." In the synagogue of these children of the Most High, of whom the same Most High said by the mouth of Isaiah, "I have begotten sons and brought them up, but they despised Me," [3830] stood God. By the synagogue we understand the people of Israel, because synagogue is the word properly used of them, although they were also called the Church. Our congregation, on the contrary, the Apostles never called synagogue, but always Ecclesia; whether for the sake of the distinction, or because there is some difference between a congregation whence the synagogue has its name, and a convocation whence the Church is called Ecclesia: [3831] for the word congregation (or flocking together) is used of cattle, and particularly of that kind properly called "flocks," [3832] whereas convocation (or calling together) is more of reasonable creatures, such as men are....I think then that it is clear in what synagogue of gods God stood.

2. The next question is, whether we should understand the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity, "to have stood among the congregation of gods, and in the midst to distinguish the gods;" because Each One is God, and the Trinity itself is One God. It is not indeed easy to make this clear, because it cannot be denied that not a bodily but a spiritual presence of God, agreeable to His nature, exists with created things in a wonderful manner, and one which but a few do understand, and that imperfectly: as to God it is said, "If I shall ascend into heaven, Thou art there; if I shall go down into hell, Thou art there also." [3833] Hence it is rightly said, that God stands in the congregation of men invisibly, as He fills heaven and earth, which He asserts of Himself by the Prophet's mouth; [3834] and He is not only said, but is, in a way, known to stand in those things which He hath created, as far as the human mind can conceive, if man also stands and hears Him, and rejoices greatly on account of His voice within. But I think that the Psalm intimates something that took place at a particular time, by God's standing in the congregation of gods. For that standing by which He fills heaven and earth, neither belongs peculiarly to the synagogue, nor varies from time to time. "God," therefore, "stood in the congregation of gods;" that is, He who said of Himself, "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [3835] The cause too is mentioned; "but in the midst, to judge of the gods."...

3. "How long will ye judge unrighteously, and accept the persons of the ungodly" (ver. 2); as in another place, "How long are ye heavy in heart?" [3836] Until He shall come who is the light of the heart? I have given a law, ye have resisted stubbornly: I sent Prophets, ye treated them unjustly, or slew them, or connived at those who did so. But if they are not worthy to be even spoken to, who slew the servants of God that were sent to them, ye who were silent when these things were doing, that is, ye who would imitate as if they were innocent those who then were silent, "how long will ye judge unrighteously, and accept the persons of the ungodly?" If the Heir comes even now, is He to be slain? Was He not willing for your sake to become as it were a child under guardians? Did not He for your sake hunger and thirst like one in need? Did He not cry to you, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart"? [3837] Did He not "become poor, when He was rich, that by His poverty we might be made rich"? [3838] "Give sentence," therefore, "for the fatherless [3839] and the poor man, justify the humble and needy" (ver. 3). Not them who for their own sake are rich and proud, but Him who for your sake was humble and poor, believe ye to be righteous: proclaim Him righteous. But they will envy Him, and will not at all spare Him, saying, "This is the Heir, come, let us kill Him, and the inheritance shall be ours." "Deliver," then, "the poor man, and save the needy from the hands of the ungodly" (ver. 4). This is said that it might be known, that in that nation where Christ was born and put to death, those persons were not guiltless of so great a crime, who being so numerous, that, as the Gospel says, the Jews feared them, and therefore dared not lay hands on Christ, afterwards consented, and permitted Him to be slain by the malicious and envious Jewish rulers: yet if they had so willed, they would still have been feared, so that the hands of the wicked would never have prevailed against Him. For of these it is said elsewhere, "Dumb dogs, they know not how to bark." Of them too is that said, "Lo, how the righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart." [3840] He perished [3841] as far as lay in them who would have Him to perish; for how could He perish by dying, who in that way rather was seeking again what had perished? If then they are justly blamed and deservedly rebuked, who by their dissembling suffered such a wicked deed to be committed; how must they be blamed, or rather not only blamed, but how severely must they be condemned, who did this of design and malice?

4. To all of them, verily, what follows is most fitly suited: "They did not know nor understand, they walk on in darkness" (ver. 5). "For if even they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory:" [3842] and those others, if they had known, would never have consented to ask that Barabbas should be freed, and Christ should be crucified. But as the above-mentioned blindness happened in part unto Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles should come in, this blindness of that People having caused the crucifixion of Christ, "all the foundations of the earth shall be moved." So have they been moved, and shall they be moved, until the predestined fulness of the Gentiles shall come in. For at the actual death of the Lord the earth was moved, and the rocks rent. [3843] And if we understand by the foundations of the earth those who are rich in the abundance of earthly possessions, it was truly foretold that they should be moved, either by wondering that lowliness, poverty, death, should be so loved and honoured in Christ, when it is to their mind great misery; or even in that themselves should love and follow it, and set at nought the vain happiness of this world. So are all the foundations of the earth moved, while they partly admire, and partly are even altered. For as without absurdity we call foundations of heaven those on whom the kingdom of heaven is built up in the persons of saints and faithful; whose first foundation is Christ Himself, born of the Virgin, of whom the Apostle says, "Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus;" [3844] next the Apostles and Prophets themselves, by whose authority the heavenly place is chosen, [3845] that by obeying them we may be builded together with them; whence he says to the Ephesians, "Ye are built upon the foundation of Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the chief corner stone." [3846] ...But the kingdom of earthly happiness is pride, to oppose which came the lowliness of Christ, rebuking those whom He wished by lowliness to make the children of the Most High, and blaming them: "I said, Ye are gods, ye are all the children of the Most High" (ver. 6). "But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes" (ver. 7). Whether to those He said this, "I said, Ye are gods," and to those particularly who are unpredestined to eternal life; and to the other, "But ye shall die like men," etc., "and shall fall like one of the princes," in this way also distinguishing the gods; or whether He blames all together, in order to distinguish the obedient and those who received correction, "I said, Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most High:" that is, to all of you I promised celestial happiness, "but ye," through the infirmity of your flesh, "shall die like men," and through haughtiness of soul, "like one of the princes," that is, the devil, shall not be exalted, but "shall fall." As if He said: Though the days of your life are so few, that ye speedily die like men, this avails not to your correction: but like the devil, whose days are many in this world, because he dies not in the flesh, ye are lifted up so that ye fall. For by devilish pride it came to pass that the perverse and blind rulers of the Jews envied the glory of Christ: by this will it came to pass, and still does, that the lowliness of Christ crucified unto death is lightly esteemed in the eyes of them who love the excellence of this world.

5. And therefore that this vice may be cured, in the person of the Prophet himself it is said, "Arise, O God, and judge the earth" (ver. 8); for the earth swelled high when it crucified Thee: rise from the dead, and judge the earth. "For Thou shalt destroy among all nations." What, but the earth? that is, destroying those who savour of earthly things, or destroying the feeling itself of earthly lust and pride in believers; or separating those who do not believe, as earth to be trodden under foot and to perish. Thus by His members, whose conversation is in heaven, He judges the earth, and destroys it among all nations. But I must not omit to remark, that some copies have, "for Thou shalt inherit among all nations." This too may be understood agreeably to the sense, nor does anything prevent both meanings existing at once. His inheritance takes place by love, which in that He cultivates by His commands and gracious mercy, He destroys earthly desires.


[3829] Lat. LXXXI. A Psalm for Asaph himself. [3830] Isa. i. 2. [3831] ekklesia from kalein. [3832] Greges. [3833] Ps. cxxxix. 8. [3834] Jer. xxiii. 24. [3835] Matt. xv. 24. [3836] Ps. iv. 2, Vulg. [3837] Matt. xi. 29. [3838] 2 Cor. viii. 9. [3839] Pupillo. [3840] Isa. lvi. 10, lvii. 1. [3841] Oxf. mss. "perisheth," "lieth." [3842] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [3843] Matt. xxvii. 51. [3844] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [3845] Eligitur. [3846] Eph. ii. 20. .

Psalm LXXXIII. [3847]

1. Of this Psalm the title is, "A song of a Psalm of Asaph." We have already often said what is the interpretation of Asaph, that is, congregation. That man, therefore, who was called Asaph, is named in representation of the congregation of God's people in the titles of many Psalms. But in Greek, congregation is called synagogue, which has come to be held for a kind of proper name for the Jewish people, that it should be called The Synagogue; even as the Christian people is more usually called The Church, in that it too is congregated.

2. The people of God, then, in this Psalm saith, "O God, who shall be like unto Thee?" (ver. 1). Which I suppose to be more fitly taken of Christ, because, being made in the likeness of men, [3848] He was thought by those by whom He was despised to be comparable to other men: for He was even "reckoned among the unrighteous," [3849] but for this purpose, that He might be judged. But when He shall come to judge, then shall be done what is here said, "O God, who is like unto Thee?" For if the Psalms did not use to speak to the Lord Christ, that too would not be spoken which not one of the faithful can doubt was spoken unto Christ. "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom." [3850] To him therefore also now it is said, "O God, who shall be like unto Thee?" For unto many Thou didst vouchsafe to be likened in Thy humiliation, even so far as to the robbers that were crucified with Thee: but when in glory Thou shalt come, "who shall be like unto Thee?"...

3. "For lo Thine enemies have sounded, and they that hate Thee have lifted up the head" (ver. 2). He seems to me to signify the last days, when these things that are now repressed by fear are to break forth into free utterance, but quite irrational, so that it should rather be called a "sound," than speech or discourse. They will not, therefore, then begin to hate, but "they that hate Thee" will then "lift up the head." And not "heads," but "head;" since they are to come even to that point, that they shall have that head, which "is lifted up above all that is called God, and that is worshipped;" [3851] so that in him especially is to be fulfilled, "He that exalteth himself shall be abased;" [3852] and when He to whom it is said, "Keep not silence, nor grow mild, O God," shall "slay him with the breath of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming." [3853] "Upon Thy people they have malignantly taken counsel" (ver. 3). Or, as other copies have it, "They have cunningly devised counsel, and have devised against Thy saints." In scorn this is said. For how should they be able to hurt the nation or people of God, or His saints, who know how to say, "If God be for us, who shall be against us?" [3854]

4. "They have said, Come, and let us destroy them from a nation" (ver. 4). He has put the singular number for the plural: as it is said, "Whose is this cattle," even though the question be of a flock, and the meaning "these cattle." Lastly, other copies have "from nations," where the translators have rather followed the sense than the word. "Come, and let us destroy them from a nation." This is that sound whereby they "sounded" rather than spake, since they did vainly make a noise with vain sayings. "And let it not be mentioned of the name of Israel any more." This others have expressed more plainly, "and let there not be remembrance of the name of Israel any more." Since, "let it be mentioned of the name" (memoretur nominis), is an unusual phrase in the Latin language; for it is rather customary to say, "let the name be mentioned" (memoretur nomen); but the sense is the same. For he who said, "let it be mentioned of the name," translated the Greek phrase. But Israel must here be understood in fact of the seed of Abraham, to which the Apostle saith, "Therefore ye are the seed of Abraham, according to the promise heirs." [3855] Not Israel according to the flesh, of which he saith, "Behold Israel after the flesh."

5. "Since they have imagined with one consent; together against Thee have they disposed a testament" (ver. 5): as though they could be the stronger. In fact, "a testament" is a name given in the Scriptures not only to that which is of no avail till the death of the testators, but every covenant and decree they used to call a testament. For Laban and Jacob made a testament, [3856] which was certainly to have force between the living; and such cases without number are read in the words of God. Then he begins to make mention of the enemies of Christ, under certain proper names of nations; the interpretation of which names sufficiently indicates what he would have to be understood. For by such names are most suitably figured the enemies of the truth. "Idumæans," for instance, are interpreted either "men of blood," or "of earth." "Ismaelites," are "obedient to themselves," and therefore not to God, but to themselves. "Moab," "from the father;" which in a bad sense has no better explanation, than by considering it so connected with the actual history, that Lot, a father, by the illicit intercourse procured by his daughter, begat him; since it was from that very circumstance he was so named. [3857] Good, however, was his father, but as "the Law is good if one use it lawfully," [3858] not impurely and unlawfully. "Hagarens," proselytes, that is strangers, by which name also are signified, among the enemies of God's people, not those who become citizens, but those who persevere in a foreign and alien mind, and when an opportunity of doing harm occurs, show themselves. "Gebal," "a vain valley," that is, humble in pretence. "Amon," "an unquiet people," or "a people of sadness." "Amalech," "a people licking;" whence elsewhere it is said, "and his enemies shall lick the earth." [3859] The "alien race," though by their very name in Latin, they sufficiently show themselves to be aliens, and for this cause of course enemies, yet in the Hebrew are called "Philistines," which is explained, "falling from drink," as of persons made drunken by worldly luxury. "Tyre" in Hebrew is called Sor; which whether it be interpreted straitness or tribulation, must be taken in the case of these enemies of God's people in that sense, of which the Apostle speaks, "Tribulation and straitness on every soul of man that doeth evil." [3860] All these are thus enumerated in the Psalms: "The tabernacles of the Edomites, Ishmaelites, Moab and the Hagarenes, Gebal, and Amon, and Amalech, and the Philistines with those who inhabit Tyre."

6. And as if to point out the cause why they are enemies of God's people, he adds, "For Assur came with them." Now Assur is often used figuratively for the devil, "who works in the children of disobedience," [3861] as in his own vessels, that they may assail the people of God. "They have holpen the children of Lot," he saith: for all enemies, by the working in them of the devil, their prince, "have holpen the children of Lot," who is explained to mean "one declining." But the apostate angels are well explained as the children of declension, for by declining from truth they swerved to become followers of the devil. These are they of whom the Apostle speaks: "Ye wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." [3862] Those invisible [3863] enemies are holpen then by unbelieving men, in whom they work in order to assail the people of God.

7. Now let us see what the prophetic spirit prays may fall upon them, rather foretelling than cursing. "Do thou to them," he saith, "as unto Madian and Sisera, as unto Jabin at the brook of Kishon" (ver. 9). "They perished at Endor, they became as the dung of the earth" (ver. 10). All these, the history relates, were subdued and conquered by Israel, which then was the people of God: as was the case also with those whom he next mentions: "Make their princes like Oreb and Zeb, and Zebee and Salmana" (ver. 11). The meaning of these names is as follows: Madian is explained a perverted judgment: Sisera, shutting out of joy: Jabin, wise. [3864] But in these enemies conquered by God's people is to be understood that wise man of whom the Apostle speaketh, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" [3865] Oreb is dryness, Zeb, wolf, Zebee, a victim, namely of the wolf; for he too has his victims; Salmana, shadow of commotion. All these agree to the evils which the people of God conquer by good. Moreover Kishon, the torrent in which they were conquered, is explained, their hardness. Endor, where they perished, is explained, the Fountain of generation, but of the carnal generation namely, to which they were given up, and therefore perished, not heeding the regeneration which leadeth unto life, where they shall neither marry nor be given in marriage, [3866] for they shall die no more. Rightly then it is said of these: "they became as the dung of the earth," in that nothing was produced of them but fruitfulness of the earth. As then all these were in figure conquered by the people of God, as figures, so he prays that those other enemies may be conquered in truth.

8. "All their princes, who said, Let us take to ourselves the sanctuary of God in possession" (ver. 12). This is that vain noise, with which, as said above, Thy enemies have made a murmuring. But what must be understood by "the sanctuary of God," except the temple of God? as saith the Apostle: "For the temple of God is holy, [3867] which temple ye are." [3868] For what else do the enemies aim at, but to take into possession, that is, to make subject to themselves the temple of God, that it may give in to their ungodly wills?

9. But what follows? "My God, make them like unto a wheel" (ver. 13). This is fitly taken as meaning that they should be constant in nothing that they think; but I think it may also be rightly explained, make them like unto a wheel, because a wheel is lifted up on the part of what is behind, [3869] is thrown down on the part of what is in front; and so it happens to all the enemies of the people of God. For this is not a wish, but a prophecy. He adds: "as the stubble in the face of the wind." By face he means presence; for what face hath the wind, which has no bodily features, being only a motion, in that it is a kind of wave of air? But it is put for temptation, by which light and vain hearts are hurried away.

10. This levity, by which consent is easily given to what is evil, is followed by severe torment; therefore he proceeds:--

"Like as the fire that burneth up the wood, and as the flame that consumeth the mountains" (ver. 14): "so shalt Thou persecute them with Thy tempest, and in Thy anger shalt disturb them" (ver. 15). Wood, he saith, for its barrenness, mountains for their loftiness; for such are the enemies of God's people, barren of righteousness, full of pride. When he says, "fire" and "flame," he means to repeat under another term, the idea of God judging and punishing. But in saying, "with Thy tempest," he means, as he goes on to explain, "Thy anger:" and the former expression, "Thou shalt persecute," answers to, "Thou shalt disturb." We must take care, however, to understand, that the anger of God is free from any turbulent emotion; for His anger is an expression for His just method of taking vengeance: as the law might be said to be angry when its ministers are moved to punish by its sanction.

11. "Fill their faces with shame, and they shall seek Thy name, O Lord" (ver. 16). Good and desirable is this which he prophesieth for them: and he would not prophesy thus, unless there were even in that company of the enemies of God's people, some men of such kind that this would be granted to them before the last judgment: for now they are mixed together, and this is the body of the enemies, in respect of the envy whereby they rival the people of God. And now, where they can, they make a noise and lift up their head: but severally, not universally as they will do at the end of the world, when the last judgment is about to fall. But it is the same body, even in those who out of this number shall believe and pass into another body (for the faces of these are filled with shame, that they may seek the name of the Lord), as well as in those others who persevere unto the end in the same wickedness, who are made as stubble before the wind, and are consumed like a wood and barren mountains. To these he again returns, saying, "They shall blush and be vexed for ever and ever" (ver. 17). For those are not vexed for ever and ever who seek the name of the Lord, but having respect unto the shame of their sins, they are vexed for this purpose, that they may seek the name of the Lord, through which they may be no more vexed.

12. Again, he returns to these last, who in the same company of enemies are to be made ashamed for this purpose, that they may not be ashamed for ever: and for this purpose to be destroyed in as far as they are wicked, that being made good they may be found alive for ever. For having said of them, "Let them be ashamed and perish," he instantly adds, "and let them know that Thy name is the Lord, Thou art only the Most Highest in all the earth" (ver. 18). Coming to this knowledge, let them be so confounded as to please God: let them so perish, as that they may abide. "Let them know," he says, "that Thy name is the Lord:" as if whoever else are called lords are named so not truly but by falsehood, for they rule but as servants, and compared with the true Lord are not lords; as it is said, I Am that I Am: [3870] as if those things which are made are not, compared with Him by whom they are made. He adds, "Thou only art the Most Highest in all the earth:" or, as other copies have it, "over all the earth;" as it might be said, in all the heaven, or over all the heaven: but he used the latter word in preference, to depress the pride of earth. For earth ceaseth to be proud, that is, man ceaseth, to whom it was said, "Thou art dust;" [3871] and "why is earth and ashes proud?" [3872] when he saith that the Lord is the Most Highest above all the earth, that is, that no man's thoughts avail against those "who are called according to His purpose," and of whom it is said, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" [3873]


[3847] Lat. LXXXII. [3848] Phil. ii. 7. [3849] Isa. liii. 12. [3850] Ps. xlv. 6. [3851] 2 Thess. ii. 4. [3852] Luke xiv. 11. [3853] 2 Thess. ii. 8. [3854] Rom. viii. 31. [3855] Gal. iii. 29. [3856] Gen. xxxi. 44. [3857] Gen. xix. 36, 37. [3858] 1 Tim. i. 8. [3859] Ps. lxxii. 9. [3860] Rom. ii. 9. [3861] Eph. ii. 2. [3862] Eph. vi. 12. [3863] Oxf. mss. "and spiritual." [3864] Judg. iv. 7, 8. [3865] 1 Cor. i. 20. [3866] Luke xx. 35. [3867] Sanctum. [3868] 1 Cor. iii. 17. [3869] Ex his quæ retro sunt extollitur, ex his quæ ante sunt dejicitur. [3870] Exod. iii. 14. [3871] Gen. iii. 19. [3872] Ecclus. x. 9. [3873] Rom. viii. 28, 31. .

Psalm LXXXIV. [3874]

1. This Psalm is entitled, "For the winepresses." And, as you observed with me, my beloved (for I saw that you attended most closely), nothing is said in its text either of any press, or wine-basket, or vat, or of any of the instruments or the building of a winepress; nothing of this kind did we hear read; so that it is no easy question what is the meaning of this title inscribed upon it, "for the winepresses." For certainly, if after the title it mentioned anything about such things as I enumerated, carnal persons might have believed that it was a song concerning those visible wine-presses; but as it has this title, yet says nothing afterwards of those winepresses which we know so well, I cannot doubt that there are other wine-presses, which the Spirit of God intended us to look for and to understand here. Therefore, let us recall to mind what takes place in these visible winepresses, and see how this takes place spiritually in the Church. The grape hangs on the vines, and the olive on its trees. For it is for these two fruits that presses are usually made ready; and as long as they hang on their boughs, they seem to enjoy free air; and neither is the grape wine, nor the olive oil, before they are pressed. Thus it is with men whom God predestined before the world to be conformed to the image of His only-begotten Son, [3875] who has been first and especially pressed in His Passion, as the great Cluster. Men of this kind, therefore, before they draw near to the service of God, enjoy in the world a kind of delicious liberty, like hanging grapes or olives: but as it is said, "My son, when thou drawest near to the service of God, stand in judgment and fear, and make thy soul ready for temptation:" [3876] so each, as he draweth near to the service of God, findeth that he is come to the winepress; he shall undergo tribulation, shall be crushed, shall be pressed, not that he may perish in this world, but that he may flow down into the storehouses of God. He hath the coverings of carnal desires stripped off from him, like grape-skins: for this hath taken place in him in carnal desires, of which the Apostle speaks, "Put ye off the old man, and put on the new man." [3877] All this is not done but by pressure: therefore the Churches of God of this time are called winepresses.

2. But who are we who are placed in the wine-presses? "Sons of Core." For this follows: "For the winepresses, to the sons of Core." The sons of Core has been explained, sons of the bald: as far as those could explain it to us, who know that language, according to their service due to God. [3878] ...

3. But being placed under pressure, we are crushed for this purpose, that for our love by which we were borne towards those worldly, secular, temporal, unstable, and perishable things, having suffered in them, in this life, torments, and tribulations of pressures, and abundance of temptations, we may begin to seek that rest which is not of this life, nor of this earth; and the Lord becomes, as is written, "a refuge for the poor man." [3879] What is, "for the poor man"? For him who is, as it were, destitute, without aid, without help, without anything on which he may rest, in earth. For to such poor men, God is present. For though men abound in money on earth,...they are filled more with fear than with enjoyment. For what is so uncertain as a rolling thing? It is not unfitly that money itself is stamped round, because it remains not still. Such men, therefore, though they have something, are yet poor. But those who have none of this wealth, but only desire it, are counted also among rich men who will be rejected; for God takes account not of power, but of will. The poor then are destitute of all this world's substance, for even though it abounds around them, they know how fleeting it is; and crying unto God, having nothing in this world with which they may delight themselves, and be held down, placed in abundant pressures and temptations, as if in winepresses, they flow down, having become oil or wine. What are these latter but good desires? For God remains their only object of desire; now they love not earth. For they love Him who made heaven and earth; they love Him, and are not yet with Him. Their desire is delayed, in order that it may increase; it increases, in order that it may receive. For it is not any little thing that God will give to him who desires, nor does he need to be little exercised to be made fit to receive so great a good: not anything which He hath made will God give, but Himself who made all things. Exercise thyself to receive God: that which thou shalt have for ever, desire thou for a long time....

4. Wherefore, most beloved, as each can, make vows, and perform to the Lord God [3880] what each can: let no one look back, no one delight himself with his former interests, no one turn away from that which is before to that which is behind: let him run until he arrive: for we run not with the feet but with the desire. But let no one in this life say that he hath arrived. For who can be so perfect as Paul? [3881] Yet he saith, "Brethren, I count not myself to have attained."

5. If therefore thou feelest the passions of this world, even when thou art happy, thou understandest now that thou art in the winepress....If therefore the world smile upon thee with happiness, imagine thyself in the winepress, and say, "I found trouble and heaviness, and I did call upon the name of the Lord." [3882] He said not, I found trouble, without meaning, of such a kind as was hidden: for some troubles are hidden from some in this world, who think they are happy while they are absent from God. "For as long as we are in the body," he saith, "we are absent from the Lord." [3883] If thou wert absent from thy father, thou wouldest be unhappy: art thou absent from the Lord, and happy? There are then some who think it is well with them. But those who understand, that in whatever abundance of wealth and pleasures, though all things obey their beck, though nothing troublesome creep in, nothing adverse terrify, yet that they are in a bad case as long as they are absent from the Lord; with a most keen eye these have found trouble, and grief, and have called on the name of the Lord. Such is he who sings in this Psalm. Who is he? The Body of Christ. Who is that? You, if you will: all we, if we will: for Christ's Body is one....

"How lovely are Thy tabernacles, O Lord of Hosts" (ver. 1). He was in some tabernacles, that is, in winepresses: but he longed for other tabernacles, where is no pressure: in this he sighed for them, from these, he, as it were, flowed down into them by the channel of longing desire.

6. And what follows? "My soul longeth and faileth for the courts of the Lord" (ver. 2). It is not enough that it "longeth and faileth:" for what doth it fail? "For the courts of the Lord." The grape when pressed hath failed: but for what? So as to be changed into wine, and to flow into the vat, and into the rest of the storeroom, to be kept there in great quiet. Here it is longed for, there it is received: here are sighs, there joy: here prayers, there praises: here groans, there rejoicing. Those things which I mentioned, let no one while here turn from ashamed: let no one be unwilling to suffer. There is danger, lest the grape, while it fears the winepress, should be devoured by birds or by wild beasts....

7. Thou hast heard a groan in the winepress, "My soul longeth and faileth for the courts of the Lord:" hear how it holdeth out, rejoicing in hope: "My heart and my flesh have rejoiced in the living God." Here they have rejoiced for that cause. Whence cometh rejoicing, but of hope? Wherefore have they rejoiced? "In the living God." What has rejoiced in thee? "My heart and my flesh." Why have they rejoiced? "For," saith he, "the sparrow hath found her a house, and the turtle-dove a nest, where she may lay her young" (ver. 3). What is this? He had named two things, and he adds two figures of birds which answer to them: he had said that his heart rejoiced and his flesh, and to these two he made the sparrow and turtle-dove to correspond: the heart as the sparrow, the flesh as the dove. The sparrow hath found herself a home: my heart hath found itself a home. She tries her wings in the virtues of this life, in faith, and hope, and charity, by which she may fly unto her home: and when she shall have come thither, she shall remain; and now the complaining voice of the sparrow, which is here, shall no longer be there. For it is the very complaining sparrow of whom in another Psalm he saith, "Like a sparrow alone on the housetop." [3884] From the housetop he flies home. Now let him be on the housetop, treading on his carnal house: he shall have a heavenly house, a perpetual home: that sparrow shall make an end of his complaints. But to the dove he hath given young, that is, to the flesh: "the dove hath found a nest, where she may lay her young." The sparrow a home, the dove a nest, and a nest too where she may lay her young. A home is chosen as for ever, a nest is framed for a time: with the heart we think upon God, as if the sparrow flew to her home: with the flesh we do good works. For ye see how many good works are done by the flesh of the saints; for by this we work the things we are commanded to work, by which we are helped in this life. "Break thy bread to the hungry, and bring the poor and roofless into thy house; and if thou see one naked, clothe him:" [3885] and other such things which are commanded us we work only through the flesh....We speak, brethren, what ye know: how many seem to do good works without the Church? [3886] how many even Pagans feed the hungry, clothe the naked, receive the stranger, visit the sick, comfort the prisoner? how many do this? The dove seems, as it were, to bring forth young: but finds not herself a nest. How many works may heretics do not in the Church; they place not their young in a nest. They shall be trampled on and crushed: they shall not be kept, shall not be guarded....In that faith lay thy young: in that nest work thy works. For what the nests are, what that nest is, follows at once. Having said, And the dove hath found herself a nest, where she may lay her young; as if thou hadst asked, What nest? "Thy altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King and my God." What is, "My King and my God?" Thou who rulest me, who hast created me.

8. ..."Blessed are those who dwell in Thy house" (ver. 4)....If thou hast thy own house, thou art poor; if God's, thou art rich. In thy own house thou wilt fear robbers; of the house of God, He is Himself the wall. Therefore "blessed are those who dwell in Thy house." They possess the heavenly Jerusalem, without constraint, without pressure, without difference and division of boundaries; all have it, and each have all. Great are those riches. Brother crowdeth not brother: there is no want there. Next, what will they do there? For among men it is necessity which is the mother of all employments. I have already said, in brief, brethren, run in your mind through any occupations, and see if it is not necessity alone which produces them. Those very eminent arts which seem so powerful in giving help to others, the art of speaking in their defence or of medicine in healing, for these are the most excellent employments in this life; take away litigants, who is there for the advocate to help? take away wounds and diseases? what is there for the physician to cure? And all those employments of ours which are required and done for our daily life, arise from necessity. To plough, to sow, to clear fallow ground, to sail; what is it which produces all these works, but necessity and want? Take away hunger, thirst, nakedness; who has need of all these things?...For instance, the injunction, "Break thy bread to the hungry." For whom could you break bread, if there were nobody hungry? "Take in the roofless poor into thy house." [3887] What stranger is there to take in, where all live in their own country? What sick person to visit, where they enjoy perpetual health? What litigants to reconcile, where there is everlasting peace? What dead to bury, where there is eternal life? None of those honourable actions which are common to all men will then be your employment, nor any of these good works; the young swallows will then fly out of their nest. What then? You have said already what we shall have; "Those who dwell in Thy house are blessed." Say now what they shall do, for I see not then any need to induce me to action. Even what I am now saying and arguing springs from some need. Will there be any such argument there to teach the ignorant, or remind the forgetful? Or will the Gospel be read in that country where the Word of God Itself shall be contemplated?..."They shall be always praising Thee." This shall be our whole duty, an unceasing Hallelujah. Think not, my brethren, that there will be any weariness there: if ye are not able to endure long here in saying this, it is because [3888] some want draws you away from that enjoyment. If what is not seen gives not so much joy here, if with so much eagerness under the pressure and weakness of the flesh we praise that which we believe, how shall we praise that which we see? "When death shall be swallowed up in victory, when this mortal shall have put on immortality," [3889] no one will say, "I have been standing a long time;" no one will say, "I have fasted a long time," "I have watched a long time." For there shall be great endurance, and our immortal bodies shall be sustained in contemplation of God. And if the word which we now dispense to you keeps your weak flesh standing so long, what will be the effect of that joy? how will it change us? "For we shall be like Him, since we shall see Him as He is." [3890] Being made like Him, when shall we ever faint? what shall draw us off? Brethren, we shall never be satiated with the praise of God, with the love of God. If love could fail, praise could fail. But if love be eternal, as there will there be beauty inexhaustible, fear not lest thou be not able to praise for ever Him whom thou shalt be able to love for ever. For this life let us sigh.

9. But how shall we come thither? "Happy is the man whose strength is in Thee" (ver. 5). He knew where he was, and that by reason of the frailty of his flesh he could not fly to that state of blessedness: he thought upon his own burden, as it is said elsewhere; "For the corruptible body weighs down the soul, and the earthly house depresses the understanding which has many thoughts." [3891] The Spirit calls upward, the weight of the flesh calls back again downward: between the double effort to raise and to weigh down, a kind of struggle ensues: this struggle goes toward the pressure of the winepress. Hear how the Apostle describes this same struggle of the winepress, for he was himself afflicted there, there he was pressed...."Miserable man that I am: who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." [3892] ..."For I delight in the Law of God according to the inner man." But what shall I do? how shall I fly? how shall I arrive thither? "I see another law in my members," etc....And as in the words of the Apostle, that difficulty and that almost inextricable struggle is alleviated by the addition, "The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord;" so here, when he sighed in the ardent longing for the house of God, and those praises of God, and when a kind of despair arose at the feeling of the burden of the body and the weight of the flesh, again he awoke to hope, and said (ver. 5), "Blessed is the man whose taking up [3893] is in Thee."

10. What then does God supply by His grace to him whom He taketh hold of to lead him on? He goes on to say: "He hath placed steps [3894] in his heart."...Where does it place steps? "In his heart, in the valley of weeping" (ver. 6). So here thou hast for a winepress the valley of weeping, the very pious tears in tribulation are the new wine of those that love....They went forth "weeping," he says, "casting their seed." [3895] Therefore, by the grace of God may upward steps be placed in thy heart. Rise by loving. Hence the Psalm "of degrees" is called...."He hath placed steps of ascent to the place which He hath appointed" (ver. 7). Now we lament; whence proceed our lamentations, but from that place where the steps of our ascent are placed? Whence comes our lamentation, but from that cause wherefore the Apostle exclaimed that he was a wretched man, because he saw another law in his members, warring against the law in his mind? [3896] And whence does this proceed? From the penalty of sin. And we thought that we could easily be righteous as it were by our own strength, before we received the command; "but when the command came, sin revived; but I died," [3897] saith the Apostle. For a law was given to men, not such as could save them at once, but it was to show them in what severe sickness they were lying....But when sin was made manifest by the law given, sin was but increased, for it is both sin, and against the Law; "Sin," saith he, "taking occasion by the command, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." [3898] What does he mean by "taking occasion by the law"? Having received the command, men tried as by their own strength to obey it; conquered by lust, they became guilty of transgression of this very command also. But what saith the Apostle? "Where sin abounded, grace hath much more abounded;" [3899] that is, the disease increased, the medicine became of more avail. Accordingly, my brethren, did those five porches of Solomon, in the middle of which the pool lay, heal the sick at all? The sick, says the Evangelist, lay in the five porches. [3900] In the Gospel we have and read it. Those five porches are the law in the five books of Moses. For this cause the sick were brought forth from their houses that they might lie in the porches. So the law brought the sick men forth, but did not heal them: but by the blessing of God the water was disturbed, as by an Angel descending into it. At the sight of the water troubled, the one person who was able, descended and was healed. That water surrounded by the five porches, was the people of the Jews shut up in their law. The Lord came and disturbed this people, so that He Himself was slain. For if the Lord had not troubled the Jews by coming down to them, would He have been crucified? So that the troubled water signified the Passion of the Lord, which arose from His troubling the Jewish people. The sick man who believeth in this Passion, like him who descended into the troubled water, is healed thereby. He whom the Law could not heal, that is, while he lay in the porches, is healed by grace, by faith in the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ....

11. "He shall give blessing," saith he, "who gave the law."...Grace shall come after the law, grace itself is the blessing. And what has that grace and blessing given unto us? "They shall go from virtue to virtue." For here by grace many virtues are given. "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith, to another the gift of healing, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another prophecy." [3901] Many virtues, but necessary for this life; and from these virtues we go on to "a virtue." To what "virtue"? To "Christ the Virtue of God and the Wisdom of God." [3902] He giveth different virtues in this place, who for all the virtues which are necessary and useful in this valley of weeping shall give one virtue, Himself. For in Scripture and in many writers four virtues are described useful for life: prudence, by which we discern between good and evil; justice, by which we give each person his due, "owing no man anything," [3903] but loving all men: temperance, by which we restrain lusts; fortitude, by which we bear all troubles. These virtues are now by the grace of God given unto us in the valley of weeping: from these virtues we mount unto that other virtue. And what will that be, but the virtue of the contemplation of God alone?...It follows in that place: "They shall go from virtue to virtue." What virtue? That of contemplation. What is contemplation? "The God of Gods shall appear in Sion." The God of Gods, Christ of the Christians....When all is finished, that mortality makes necessary, He shall appear to the pure in heart, as He is, "God with God," The Word with the Father, "by which all things were made."

12. And again, from the thought of those joys he returns to his own sighs. He sees what has come before in hope, and where he is in reality....Therefore returning to the groans proper to this place, he saith, "O Lord God of virtues, hear my prayer: hearken, O God of Jacob" (ver. 8): for Jacob himself also Thou hast made Israel out of Jacob. For God appeared unto him, and he was called Israel, [3904] seeing God. Hear me therefore, O God of Jacob, and make me Israel. When shall I become Israel? When the God of Gods shall appear in Sion.

13. "Behold, O God our defender. And look on the face of Thy Christ" (ver. 9). For when doth God not look upon the face of His Christ? What is this, "Look on the face of Thy Christ"? By the face we are known. What is it then, Look on the face of Thy Christ? Cause Thy Christ to become known to all. Look on the face of Thy Christ: let Christ become known to all, that we may be able to go from strength to strength, that grace may abound, since sin hath abounded.

14. "For one day in Thy courts is better than a thousand" (ver. 10). Those courts they were for which he sighed, for which he fainted. "My soul longeth and faileth for the courts of the Lord:" [3905] one day there is better than a thousand days. Men long for thousands of days, and wish to live here long: let them despise these thousands of days, let them long for one day, which has neither rising nor setting: one day, an everlasting day, to which no yesterday yields, which no to-morrow presses. Let this one day be longed for by us. What have we to do with a thousand days? We go from the thousand days to one day; let us hasten to that one day, [3906] as we go from strength to strength.

15. "I have chosen to be cast away in the house of the Lord, rather than to dwell in the tents of sinners" (ver. 11). For he found the valley of weeping, he found humility by which he might rise: he knoweth that if he would raise himself he shall fall, if he humble himself he shall be exalted: he hath chosen to be cast away, that he may be raised up. How many beside this tabernacle of the Lord's winepress, that is beside the Catholic Church, wishing to be lifted up, and loving their honours, refuse to see the truth. If this verse had been in their heart, would they not cast away honours, and run to the valley of weeping, and hence find in their heart the way of ascent, and hence go from virtues to virtue, placing their hope in Christ, not in some man or another? A good word is this, a word to rejoice in, a word to be chosen. He himself chose to be cast away in the house of the Lord; but He who invited him to the feast, when he chose a lower place calleth him to a higher one, and saith unto him, "Go up higher." [3907] Yet he chose not but to be in the house of the Lord, in any part of it, so that he were not outside the threshold.

16. Wherefore did he choose?..."Because God loveth mercy and truth" (ver. 12). The Lord loveth mercy, by which He first came to my help: He loveth truth, so as to give to him that believeth what He has promised. [3908] Hear in the case of the Apostle Paul, His mercy and truth, Paul who was first Saul the persecutor. He needed mercy, and he has said that it was shown towards him: "I who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, that in me Christ Jesus might show forth all longsuffering towards those who shall believe in Him unto life eternal." [3909] So that, when Paul received pardon of such great crimes, no one should despair of any sins whatever being forgiven him. Lo! Thou hast Mercy....Lo, we see that Paul holdeth Him a debtor, having received mercy, demanding truth. The Lord, he says, shall give back in that day. What shall He give thee back, but that which He oweth thee? How oweth He unto thee? What hast thou given Him? "Who hath first given unto Him, and it shall be restored to him again." [3910] The Lord Himself hath made Himself a debtor, not by receiving, but by promising: it is not said unto Him, Restore what Thou hast received: but, Restore what Thou hast promised. He hath shown mercy unto me, he saith, that He might make me innocent: for before I was a blasphemer and injurious: but by His grace I have been made innocent. But He who first showed mercy, can He deny His debt? "He loveth mercy and truth. He will give grace and glory." What grace, but that of which the same one said: "By the grace of God I am what I am"? [3911] What glory, but that of which he said, "There is laid up for me a crown of glory"? [3912]

17. Therefore "the Lord will not withhold good from those who walk in innocence" (ver. 12). Why then, O men, are ye unwilling to keep innocence, except in order that ye may have good things?...Thou seest wealth in the hands of robbers, of the impious, the wicked, the base; in the hands of scandalous and criminal men thou seest wealth: God giveth them these things on account of their fellowship in the human race, for the abundant overflowing of His goodness: who also "maketh His sun to rise upon the good and the evil, and causeth it to rain upon the righteous and upon the sinners." [3913] Giveth He so much to the wicked, and keepeth nothing for thee? He keepeth something: be at ease, He who had mercy on thee when thou wast impious, doth He desert thee when thou hast become pious? He who gave to the sinner the free gift of His Son's death, what keepeth He for the saved through that death? Therefore be at ease. Hold Him a debtor, for thou hast believed in Him promising. What then remains for us here, in the winepress, in affliction, in hardship, in our present dangerous life? What remains for us, that we may arrive thither? "O Lord God of virtues, blessed is the man that putteth his hope in Thee."


[3874] Lat. LXXXIII. [3875] Rom. viii. 29. [3876] Ecclus. ii. 1. [3877] Col. iii. 9, 10; Eph. iv. 22. [3878] [See pp. 132, 140, supra.--C.] [3879] Ps. ix. 9. [3880] Ps. lxxvi. 11. [3881] Phil. iii. 13. [3882] Ps. cxvi. 3, 4. [3883] 2 Cor. v. 6. [3884] Ps. cii. 7. [3885] Isa. lviii. 7. [3886] Ed. Ben. refers to P. Lombard, II. Sent. Dist. 41, where this passage is quoted on the question, "Are all the works of those who are without faith evil?" [See A.N.F. vol. ii. p. 517, note 4.--C.] [3887] Isa. lviii. 7. [3888] Oxf. mss. "want keeps you not away." [3889] 1 Cor. xv. 54. [3890] 1 John iii. 2. [3891] Wisd. ix. 15. [3892] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [3893] Susceptio. [3894] Ascensus. [3895] Ps. cxxvi. 5, 6. [3896] Rom. vii. 23. [3897] Rom. vii. 9. [3898] Rom. vii. 8. [3899] Rom. v. 20. [3900] John v. 3. [3901] 1 Cor. xii. 8-10. [3902] 1 Cor. i. 24. [3903] Rom. xiii. 8. [3904] Gen. xxxii. 28. [3905] Ps. lxxxiv. 2. [3906] Oxf. mss. add, "let us hasten," etc. [3907] Luke xiv. 10. [3908] Rom. xi. 29. [3909] 1 Tim. i. 13, 16. [3910] Rom. xi. 29. [3911] 1 Cor. xv. 10. [3912] 2 Tim. iv. 8. [3913] Matt. v. 45. .

Psalm LXXXV. [3914]

1. ...Its title is, "A Psalm for the end, to the sons of Core." [3915] Let us understand no other end than that of which the Apostle speaks: for, "Christ is the end of the law." [3916] Therefore when at the head of the title of the Psalm he placed the words, "for the end," he directed our heart to Christ. If we fix our gaze on Him, we shall not stray: for He is Himself the Truth unto which we are eager to arrive, and He Himself the Way [3917] by which we run....

2. The Prophet singeth to Him of the future, and useth words as it were of past time: he speaks of things future as if already done, because with God that which is future has already taken place...."Lord, Thou hast been favourable unto Thy land" (ver. 1); as if He had already done so. "Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob." His ancient people of Jacob, the people of Israel, born of Abraham's seed, in the promise to become one day the heir of God. That was indeed a real people, to whom the Old Testament was given; but in the Old Testament the New was figured: that was the figure, this the truth expressed. In that figure, by a kind of foretelling of the future, there was given to that people a certain land of promise, in a region where the people of the Jews abode; where also is the city of Jerusalem, whose name we have all heard of. When this people had received possession of this land, they suffered many troubles from their neighbouring enemies who surrounded them: and when they sinned against their God, they were given into captivity, not for destruction, but for discipline; their Father not condemning, but scourging them. And after being seized on, they were set free, and many times were both made captives, and set free; and they are now in captivity, and that for a great sin, even because they crucified their Lord. What then are we to understand them to mean by the words, "Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob"?...This Psalm hath prophesied in song. "Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob." To whom did it speak? To Christ; for it said, "for the end, for the sons of Core:" for He hath turned away the captivity of Jacob. Hear Paul himself confessing: "O wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" He asked who it should be, and straightway it occurred to him, "The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." [3918] Of this grace of God the Prophet speaketh to our Lord Jesus Christ, "Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob." Attend to the captivity of Jacob, attend, and see that it is this: Thou hast turned away our captivity, not by setting us free from the barbarians, with whom we had not met, but by setting us free from bad works, from our sins, by which Satan held sway over us. For if any one has been set free from his sins, the prince of sinners hath not whence he may hold sway over him.

3. For how did He turn away the captivity of Jacob? See, how that that setting free is spiritual, see how that it is done inwardly. "Thou hast forgiven," he saith, "the iniquity of Thy people: Thou hast covered all their sins" (ver. 2). Behold how He hath turned away their captivity, in that He hath remitted iniquity: iniquity held them captive; thy iniquity forgiven, thou art freed. Confess therefore that thou art in captivity, that thou mayest be worthy to be freed: for he that knoweth not of his enemy, how can he invoke the liberator? "Thou hast covered all their sins." What is, "Thou hast covered"? So as not to see them. How didst Thou not see them? So as not to take vengeance on them. Thou wast unwilling to see our sins: and therefore sawest Thou them not, because Thou wouldest not see them: "Thou hast covered all their sins." "Thou hast appeased all Thy anger: Thou hast turned Thyself from Thy wrathful indignation" (ver. 3).

4. And as these things are said of the future, though the sound of the words is past, it follows: "Turn us, O God of our salvation" (ver. 4). That which he had just related as if it were done, how prayeth he that it may be done, except because he wished to show that he had spoken as if of the past in prophecy? But that it was not yet done which he had said was done he showeth by this, that he prayeth that it may be done: "Turn us, O God of our salvation, and turn away Thine anger from us." Didst thou not say before: "Thou hast appeased all Thy anger, Thou has turned Thyself from Thy wrathful indignation"? How then now sayest thou, "And turn away Thine anger from us"? The Prophet answereth: These things I speak of as done, because I see them about to be done: but because they are not yet done, I pray that they may come, which I have already seen.

5. "Be not angry with us for ever" (ver. 5). For by the anger of God we are subject to death, and by the anger of God we eat bread on this earth in want, and in the sweat of our face. [3919] This was Adam's sentence when he sinned: and that Adam was every one of us, for "in Adam all die;" [3920] the sentence passed on him hath taken effect after him on us. For we were not yet ourselves, but we were in Adam: therefore whatever happened to Adam himself took effect on us also, so that we should die: for we all were in him....So far as this the sin of thy father hurts thee not, if thou hast changed thyself, even as it would not hurt thy father if he had changed himself. But that which our stock hath received unto its subjection to death, it hath derived from Adam. What hath it so derived? That frailty of the flesh, this torture of pains, this house of poverty, this chain of death, and snares of temptations; all these things we carry about in this flesh; and this is the anger of God, because it is the vengeance of God. But because it was so to be, that we should be regenerated, and by believing should be made new, and all that mortality was to be removed in our resurrection, and the whole man was to be restored in newness; "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive;" [3921] seeing this the Prophet saith, "Be not angry with us for ever, nor stretch out Thy wrath from one generation to another." The first generation was mortal by Thy wrath: the second generation shall be immortal by Thy mercy....

6. "O God, Thou shalt turn us again, and make us alive" (ver. 6). Not as if we ourselves of our own accord, without Thy mercy, turn unto Thee, and then Thou shalt make us alive: but so that not only our being made alive is from Thee, but our very conversion, that we may be made alive. "And Thy people shall rejoice in Thee." To their own evil they shall rejoice in themselves: to their own good they shall rejoice in Thee. For when they wished to have joy of themselves, they found in themselves woe: but now because God is all our joy, he that will rejoice securely, let him rejoice in Him who cannot perish. For why, my brethren, will ye rejoice in silver? Either thy silver perisheth, or thou: and no one knows which first: yet this is certain, that both shall perish; which first, is uncertain. For neither can man remain here always, nor can silver remain here always: so too gold, so garments, so houses, so money, so broad lands, so, lastly, this light itself. Be not thou willing then to rejoice in these: but rejoice in that light which hath no setting: rejoice in that dawn which no yesterday precedes, which no to-morrow follows. What light is that? "I," saith He, "am the Light of the world." [3922] He who saith unto thee, "I am the Light of the world," calls thee to Himself. When He calls thee, He converts thee: when He converts thee, He healeth thee: when He hath healed thee, thou shalt see thy Converter, unto whom it is said, "Show us Thy mercy, O Lord, and grant us Thy salvation" (ver. 7): Thy salvation, that is, Thy Christ. [3923] Happy is he unto whom God showeth His mercy. He it is who cannot indulge in pride, unto whom God showeth His mercy. For by showing him His salvation He persuadeth him that whatever good man has, he hath not but from Him who is all our good. And when a man has seen that whatever good he has he hath not from himself, but from his God; he sees that everything which is praised in him is of the mercy of God, not of his own deserving; and seeing this, he is not proud; not being proud, he is not lifted up; not lifting himself up, he falleth not; not falling, he standeth; standing, he clingeth fast; clinging fast, he abideth; abiding, he enjoyeth, and rejoiceth in the Lord his God. He who made him shall be unto him a delight: and his delight no one spoileth, no one interrupteth, no one taketh away....Therefore, what saith John in his Epistle? "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." [3924] Who would not rejoice, if suddenly while he was wandering abroad, ignorant of his descent, suffering want, and in a state of misery and toil, it were announced, Thou art the son of a senator: thy father enjoys an ample patrimony on your family estate; I bid thee return to thy father: how would he rejoice, if this were said to him by some one whose promise he could trust? One whom we can trust, an Apostle of Christ, hath come and said to us, Ye have a father, ye have a country, ye have an inheritance. Who is that father? "Beloved, we are the sons of God." [3925] ...Therefore He [3926] promised us to show Himself unto us. Think, my brethren, what His beauty is. All those beautiful things which ye see, which ye love, He made. If these are beautiful, what is He Himself? If these are great, how great is He? Therefore from these things which we love here, let us the more long for Him: and despising these things, let us love Him: that by that very love we may by faith purify our hearts, and His vision, when it cometh, may find our heart purified. The light which shall be shown unto us ought to find us whole: this is the work of faith now. This is what we have spoken here: "And grant us Thy salvation:" grant us Thy Christ, that we may know Thy Christ, see Thy Christ; not as the Jews saw Him and crucified Him, but as the Angels see Him, and rejoice.

7. "I will hearken" (ver. 8). The Prophet spoke: God spoke within in him, and the world made a noise without. Therefore, retiring for a little from the noise of the world, and turning himself back upon himself, and from himself upon Him whose voice he heard within; sealing up his ears, as it were, against the tumultuous disquietude of this life, and against the soul weighed down by the corruptible body, and against the imagination, that through the earthly tabernacle pressing down, [3927] thinketh on many things, [3928] he saith, "I will hearken what the Lord God speaketh in me;" and he heard, what? "For He shall speak peace unto His people." The voice of Christ, then, the voice of God, is peace: it calleth unto peace. Ho! it saith, whosoever are not yet in peace, love ye peace: for what can ye find better from Me than peace? What is peace? Where there is no war. What is this, where there is no war? Where there is no contradiction, where there is no resistance, nothing to oppose. Consider if we are yet there: consider if there is not now a conflict with the devil, if all the saints and faithful ones wrestle not with the prince of demons. And how do they wrestle with him whom they see not? They wrestle with their own desires, by which he suggests unto them sins: and by not consenting to what he suggests, though they are not conquered, yet they fight. Therefore there is not yet peace where there is fighting....Whatever we provide for our refreshment, there again we find weariness. Art thou hungry? one asks thee: thou answerest, I am. He places food before thee for thy refreshment; continue thou to use it, for thou hadst need of it; yet in continuing that which thou needest for refreshment, therein findest thou weariness. By long sitting thou wast tired; thou risest and refreshest thyself by walking; continue that relief, and by much walking thou art wearied; again thou wouldest sit down. Find me anything by which thou art refreshed, wherein if thou continue thou dost not again become weary. What peace then is that which men have here, opposed by so many troubles, desires, wants, wearinesses? This is no true, no perfect peace. What will be perfect peace? "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." [3929] ...Persevere in eating much; this itself will kill thee: persevere in fasting much, by this thou wilt die: sit continually, being resolved not to rise up, by this thou wilt die: be always walking so as never to take rest, by this thou wilt die; watch continually, taking no sleep, by this thou wilt die; sleep continually, never watching, thus too thou wilt die. When therefore death shall be swallowed up in victory, these things shall no longer be: there will be full and eternal peace. We shall be in a City, of which, brethren, when I speak I find it hard to leave off, especially when offences wax common. Who would not long for that City whence no friend goeth out, whither no enemy entereth, [3930] where is no tempter, no seditious person, no one dividing God's people, no one wearying the Church in the service of the devil; since the prince himself of all such is cast into eternal fire, and with him those who consent unto him, and who have no will to retire from him? There shall be peace made pure in the sons of God, all loving one another, seeing one another full of God, since God shall be all in all. [3931] We shall have God as our common object of vision, God as our common possession, God as our common peace. For whatever there is which He now giveth unto us, He Himself shall be unto us instead of His gifts; this will be full and perfect peace. This He speaketh unto His people: this it was which he would hearken unto who said, "I will hearken what the Lord God will say unto me: for He shall speak peace unto His people, and to His saints, and unto those who turn their hearts unto Him." Lo, my brethren, do ye wish that unto you should belong that peace which God uttereth? Turn your heart unto Him: not unto me, or unto that one, or unto any man. For whatever man would turn unto himself the hearts of men, he falleth with them. Which is better, that thou fall with him unto whom thou turnest thyself, or that thou stand with Him with whom thou turnest thyself? Our joy, our peace, our rest, the end of all troubles, is none but God: blessed are "they that turn their hearts unto Him."

8. "Nevertheless, His salvation is nigh them that fear Him" (ver. 9). There were some even then who feared Him in the Jewish people. Everywhere throughout the earth idols were worshipped: devils were feared, not God: in that nation God was feared. But why was He feared? In the Old Testament He was feared, lest He should give them up to captivity, lest He should take away their land from them, lest He should destroy their vines with hail, lest He should make their wives barren, lest He should take away their children from them. For these carnal promises of God captivated their minds, which as yet were of small growth, and for these things God was feared: but He was near unto them who even for these things feared Him. The Pagan prayed for land to the devil: the Jew prayed for land to God: it was the same thing which they prayed for, but not the same to whom they prayed. The latter, though seeking what the Pagan sought, yet was distinguished from the Pagan; for he sought it of Him who had made all things. And God, who was far [3932] from the Gentiles, was near [3933] unto them: yet He had regard even to those who were afar off, and to those who were near, as the Apostle said: "And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off, and to them that were near." [3934] Whom did He mean by those near? The Jews, because they [3935] worshipped one God. Whom by those who were afar off? The Gentiles, because they had left Him by whom they were made and worshipped things which themselves had made. For it is not in space that any one is far from God, but in affections. Thou lovest God, thou art near unto Him. Thou hatest God, thou art far off. Thou art standing in the same place, both while thou art near and far off. This it was, my brethren, which the Prophet had regard to: although he saw the mercy of God extending over all, yet he saw something especial and peculiar shown toward the Jews, and he saith, "Nevertheless, I will hearken what the Lord God shall say unto me: for He shall speak peace unto His people;" and His people shall be, not Judæa only, but it shall be gathered together out of all nations: "For He shall speak peace unto His Saints, and to those who turn their hearts unto Him," and to all who shall turn their hearts unto Him from the whole world. "Nevertheless, His salvation shall be nigh them that fear Him, that glory may dwell in our land:" that is, in that land in which the Prophet was born, greater glory shall dwell, because Christ began to be preached from thence. Thence were the Apostles, and thither first they were sent; from thence were the Prophets, there first was the Temple, there sacrifice was made to God, there were the Patriarchs, there He Himself came of the seed of Abraham, there Christ was manifested, there Christ appeared; for from thence was the Virgin Mary who bore Christ. There He walked with His feet, there He worked miracles. Thirdly, He ascribed so great honour to that nation, that when a certain Canaanitish woman interrupted Him, praying for the healing of her daughter, He said unto her, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [3936] Seeing this, the Prophet saith, "that glory may dwell in our land."

9. "Mercy and truth have met together" (ver. 10). "Truth in our land," in a Jewish person, "mercy" in the land of the Gentiles. For where was truth? Where the utterances of God were. Where was mercy? On those who had left their God, and turned themselves unto devils. Did He look down [3937] also upon them? Yea, as if He said, Call those who are fugitives afar off, who have departed far from Me: call them, let them find Me who seek them, since they themselves would not seek Me. Therefore, "Mercy and truth have met together: righteousness and peace have kissed each other." Do righteousness, and thou shalt have peace; that righteousness and peace may kiss each other. For if thou love not righteousness, thou shalt not have peace; for those two, righteousness and peace, love one another, and kiss one another: that he who hath done righteousness may find peace kissing righteousness. They two are friends: thou perhaps willest the one, and not the other: for there is no one who wills not peace: but all will not work righteousness. Ask all men, Willest thou peace? With one mouth the whole race of man answers thee, I wish, I desire, I will, I love it. Love also righteousness: for these two, righteousness and peace, are friends; they kiss one another: if thou love not the friend of peace, peace itself will not love thee, nor come unto thee. For what great thing is it to desire peace? Every bad man longeth for peace. For peace is a good thing. But do righteousness, for righteousness and peace kiss one another, they quarrel not together....

10. "Truth hath sprung out of the earth, and righteousness hath looked down from heaven" (ver. 11). "Truth hath sprung out of the earth:" Christ is born of a woman. The Son of God hath come forth of the flesh. What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? Flesh. Ask whence Christ was born, and thou seest that "Truth is sprung out of the earth." But the Truth which sprang out of the earth was before the earth, and by It the heaven and the earth were made: but in order that righteousness might look down from heaven, that is, in order that men might be justified by Divine grace, Truth was born of the Virgin Mary; that He might be able to offer a sacrifice to justify them, the sacrifice of suffering, the sacrifice of the Cross. And how could He offer a sacrifice for our sins, except He died? How could He die, except He received from us that wherein He might die; that is, unless He received from us mortal flesh, Christ could not have died: because the Word of God dieth not, Godhead dieth not, the Virtue and Wisdom of God doth not die. How should He offer a sacrifice, a healing victim, if He died not? How should He die, unless He clothed Himself with flesh? How should He put on flesh, except truth sprang out of the earth?

11. On the same passage we may mention another meaning. "Truth is sprung out of the earth:" confession from man. For thou, O man, wast a sinner. O earth, who when thou hadst sinned didst hear the sentence, "Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return," [3938] from thee let truth spring, that righteousness may look down from heaven. How doth truth spring from thee, whilst thou art a sinner, whilst thou art unrighteous? Confess thy sins, and truth shall spring out of thee. For if whilst thou art unrighteous, thou callest thyself just, how can truth spring out of thee? But if being unrighteous thou dost confess thyself to be so, "truth hath sprung out of the earth."...What "righteousness hath looked down from heaven"? It is that of God, as though He said: Let us spare this man, for he spareth not himself: let us pardon him, for he himself confesseth. He is changed so as to punish his sin: I too will change, so as to set him free.

12. "For the Lord shall give sweetness, and our land shall give her increase" (ver. 12)....He will give unto thee the sweetness of working righteousness, so that righteousness shall begin to delight thee, whom before unrighteousness delighted: so that thou who at first didst delight in drunkenness, shall rejoice in sobriety: and thou who didst at first rejoice in theft, so as to take from another man what thou hadst not, shalt seek to give to him that hath not that which thou hast: and thou who didst take delight in robbing, shalt delight now in giving: thou whom shows delighted, shalt delight in prayer; thou who didst delight in trifling and lascivious songs, shalt now delight in singing hymns to God; in running to church, thou who at first didst run to the theatre. Whence is that sweetness born to thee, except from this, that "God giveth sweetness"? For, behold, ye see what I mean: behold, I have spoken unto you the word of God, I have sown seed in your devout hearts, finding your souls furrowed, as it were, with the plough of confession: with devout attention ye have received the seed; think now upon the word which ye have heard, like those who break up the clouds, lest the fowls should carry away the seed, that what is sown may be able to spring up there: and unless God rain upon it, what profits it that it is sown? This is what is meant by "our land shall give her increase." May He with His visitations, in leisure, in business, in your house, in your bed, at meal-time, in conversation, in walks, visit your hearts, when we are not by. May the rain of God come and make to sprout what is sown there: and when we are not by, and are resting quietly, or otherwise employed, may God give increase to the seeds which we have sown, that remarking afterwards your improved characters, we too may rejoice for your fruit.

13. "For righteousness shall go before him, and he shall direct his steps in the way" (ver. 14): that righteousness, namely, which consists in confession of sins: for this is truth itself. For thou oughtest to be righteous towards thyself, and to punish thyself: for this is the beginning of man's righteousness, that thou shouldest punish thyself, who art evil, and God should make thee good. Therefore since this is the beginning of man's righteousness, this becomes a way for God, that God may come unto thee: there make for Him a way, in confession of sins. Therefore John too, when he was baptizing in the water of repentance, and would have men come to him repenting of their former deeds, spoke thus: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight." [3939] Thou didst please thyself in thy sins, O man: let that which thou wast displease thee, that thou mayest be able to become what thou wast not. Prepare the way of the Lord: let that righteousness go before, of confession of sins: He will come and visit thee, for now He hath where to place His steps, He hath whereby He may come to thee. Before thou didst confess thy sins, thou hadst shut up the way of God: there was no way by which He might come unto thee. Confess thy past life, and thou openest a way; and Christ shall come unto thee, and "shall place His steps in the way," that He may guide thee with His own footsteps.


[3914] Lat. LXXXIV. A sermon to the people. [3915] [He repeats the former comment on this. See pp. 132, 400, supra.--C.] [3916] Rom. x. 4. [3917] John xiv. 6. [3918] Rom. vii. 24, 25. [3919] Gen. iii. 19. [3920] 1 Cor. xv. 22. [3921] 1 Cor. xv. 22. [3922] John viii. 12. [3923] [i.e., Thy Joshua, which is inwoven with the idea of salvation everywhere in the Old Testament (see Gen. xlix. 18), till all is fixed in Christ, the true Joshua. Matt. i. 21.--C.] [3924] 1 John iii. 2. [3925] 1 John iii. 2. [3926] Oxf. mss. "Therefore if He has." [3927] Oxf. mss. deprimente. [3928] Wisd. ix. 15. [3929] 1 Cor. xv. 53. [3930] [This exquisite passage, adopted by Bishop Horne in his precious illustrations of the Psalter, reads in the original as follows: unde amicus non exit, quo inimicus non intrat.--C.] [3931] 1 Cor. xv. 28. [3932] Oxf. mss. "near," "nearer." [3933] Oxf. mss. "near," "nearer." [3934] Eph. ii. 17. [3935] Oxf. mss. "who." [3936] Matt. xv. 24. [3937] Despexit; one ms. dispexit. [3938] Gen. iii. 19. [3939] Matt. iii. 3 .

Psalm LXXXVI. [3940]

1. No greater gift could God have given to men than in making His Word, by which He created all things, their Head, and joining them to Him as His members: that the Son of God might become also the Son of man, one God with the Father, one Man with men; so that when we speak to God in prayer for mercy, we do not separate the Son from Him; and when the Body of the Son prays, it separates not its Head from itself: and it is one Saviour of His Body, our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who both prays for us, and prays in us, and is prayed to by us. He prays for us, as our Priest; He prays in us, as our Head; He is prayed to by us, as our God. Let us therefore recognise in Him our words, and His words in us. Nor when anything is said of our Lord Jesus Christ, especially in prophecy, implying a degree of humility below the dignity of God, let us hesitate to ascribe it to Him who did not hesitate to join Himself unto us....He is prayed to in the form of God, in the form of a servant He prayeth; there the Creator, here created; assuming unchanged the creature, that it might be changed, and making us with Himself one Man, Head and Body. Therefore we pray to Him, through Him, in Him; and we speak with Him, and He speaks with us; we speak in Him, He speaks in us the prayer of this Psalm, which is entitled, "A Prayer of David." For our Lord was, according to the flesh, the son of David; but according to His divine nature, the Lord of David, and his Maker....Let no one then, when he hears these words, say, Christ speaketh not; nor again say, I speak not; nay rather, if he own himself to be in the Body of Christ, let him say both, Christ speaks, and I speak. Be thou unwilling to say anything without Him, and He saith nothing without thee....

2. "Bow down Thine ear, O Lord, and hear me" (ver. 1). He speaks in the form of a servant: speak thou, O servant, in the form of thy Lord: "Bow down Thine ear, O Lord." He bows down His ear, if thou dost not lift up thy neck: for unto the humble He draweth near: from him that is exalted He removes afar off, except whom He Himself hath exalted from being humble. God then bows down His ear unto us. For He is above, we below: He in a high place, we in a lowly one, yet not deserted. "For while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. For scarcely for a just man will one die: yet for a good man peradventure one would even dare to die:" [3941] but our Lord died for the wicked. For no merits of ours had gone before, for which the Son of God should die: but the more, because there were no merits, was His mercy great. How sure then, how firm is the promise, by which for the righteous He keepeth His life, who for the wicked gave His own death! "For I am poor and in misery." To the rich then He boweth not down His ear: unto the poor and him that is in misery He boweth down His ear, that is, unto the humble, and him that confesseth, unto him that is in need of mercy: not unto him that is full, who lifteth up himself and boasteth, as if he wanted nothing, and saith, "I thank Thee that I am not as this Publican." For the rich Pharisee boasted of his merits: the poor Publican confessed his sins. [3942]

3. Yet do not take what I have said, my brethren, in such a way, as if God does not hear those who have gold and silver, and a household, and farms, if they happen to be born to this estate, or hold such a rank in the world: only let them remember the Apostle's words: "Charge those who are rich in this world, that they be not highminded." [3943] For those that are not highminded are poor in God, and to the poor and needy and those in want He inclines His ear. For they know that their hope is not in gold and silver, nor in those things in which for a time they seem to abound. It is enough that riches ruin them not; it is enough that they do them no harm: for good they can do them none. What certainly profiteth is a work of mercy, done by a rich or by a poor man: by a rich man, with will and deed; by a poor man, with will alone. When therefore he is such an one as despiseth in himself everything which is wont to swell men with pride, he is one of God's poor: He inclines unto him His ear, for He knows that his heart is contrite....Was it really for the merit of his poverty that the poor man was carried away by Angels, [3944] or was it for the sin of his riches that the rich man was sent away to be tormented? In that poor man is signified the honour which is paid to humility, in that rich man the condemnation which awaits pride. I will prove shortly that it was not riches but pride which was tormented in that rich man. It is certain that the poor man was carried into the bosom of Abraham: of Abraham himself Scripture saith that he had here very much gold and silver, and was rich on the earth. [3945] If every one that is rich is hurried away to be tormented, how could Abraham have gone before that poor man, so as to be ready to receive him when carried to his bosom? But Abraham in his riches was poor, humble, reverencing all commands, and obeying them. So true was it that he counted all those riches for nothing, that on God's command he was ready to sacrifice his son, [3946] for whom he was keeping his riches. Learn therefore ye to be poor and needy, whether ye have anything in this world, or whether ye have not....

4. "Preserve Thou My Soul, for I am holy" (ver. 2). I know not whether any one could say this, "I am holy," but He who was in the world without sin: He by whom all sins were not committed but remitted. [3947] We own it to be His voice saying, "Preserve Thou My Soul, for I am holy;" of course in that form of a servant which He had assumed. For in that was flesh, in that, was also a Soul. For He was not, as some [3948] have said, only Flesh and the Word: but Flesh and Soul also, and the Word, and all this, One Son of God, One Christ, One Saviour; in the form of God equal to the Father, in the form of a servant the Head of the Church. When therefore I hear, "for I am holy," I recognise His voice: yet do I exclude my own? Surely He speaks inseparably from His body when He speaks thus. Shall I then dare to say, "For I am holy"? If holy as making holy, and as needing none to sanctify, I should be proud and false: but if holy as made holy, as it is written, "Be ye holy, for I am holy," [3949] then the body of Christ may venture, and that one Man "crying from the end of the earth," [3950] may venture with his Head, and under his Head, to say, "For I am holy." For he hath received the grace of holiness, the grace of Baptism, and of remission of sins. [3951] ...Say unto thy God, I am holy, for Thou hast sanctified me: because I received, not because I had: because Thou gavest, not because I deserved. For on another side thou art beginning to do an injury to our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. For if all Christians who are faithful and have been baptized in Him have put Him on, as the Apostle saith, "As many as are baptized in Christ have put on Christ:" [3952] if they have been made members of His body, and say that they are not holy, they do injury to their Head, of whom they are members, and yet not holy. Look thou where thou art and from thy Head assume dignity. For thou wert in darkness, "but now light in the Lord." [3953] "Ye were sometime darkness," he saith: but did ye remain darkness? Was it for this the Enlightener came, that ye might still remain darkness, or that in Him ye might become light? Therefore, every Christian by himself, therefore also the whole body of Christ, may say, it may cry everywhere, while it suffers tribulations, various temptations and offences, it may say, "Preserve Thou my soul, for I am holy: my God, save Thy servant, that putteth his trust in Thee." See thou, that holy man is not proud, since he putteth his trust in God.

5. "Be merciful unto me, O Lord, for I have cried unto Thee all day" (ver. 3). Not "one day:" understand "all day" to mean continually: from the time that the body of Christ groans being in afflictions, until the end of the world, when afflictions pass away, that man groaneth and calleth upon God: and each one of us after his measure hath his part in that cry in the whole body. Thou hast cried in thy days, and thy days have passed away: another hath come after thee, and cried in his days: and thou here, he there, another elsewhere: the body of Christ crieth all the day, its members departing and succeeding one another. One Man it is that reaches to the end of the world: the same members of Christ cry, and some members already rest in Him, some still cry, some when we shall be at rest will cry, and after them others will cry. It is the whole body of Christ whose voice He hears, saying, "Unto Thee have I cried all the day." Our Head on the right hand of the Father intercedes for us: some members He recovereth, others He scourgeth, others He cleanseth, others He comforteth, others He is creating, others calling, others recalling, others correcting, others restoring.

6. "Make glad the soul of Thy servant: for unto Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul" (ver. 4). Make it glad, for unto Thee have I lifted it up. For it was on earth, and from the earth it felt bitterness: lest it should wither away in bitterness, lest it should lose all the sweetness of Thy grace, I lifted it up unto Thee: make Thou it glad with Thyself. For Thou alone art gladness: the whole world is full of bitterness. Surely with reason He admonishes His members to lift up their hearts. May they hear and do it: may they lift up unto Him what on earth is ill. There the heart decayeth not, if it be lifted up to God. If thou hadst corn in thy rooms below, thou wouldest take it up higher, lest it should grow rotten. Wouldest thou remove thy corn, and dost thou suffer thy heart to rot on the earth? Thou wouldest take thy corn up higher: lift up thy heart to heaven. And how can I, dost thou say? What ropes are needed? what machines? what ladders? Thy affections are the steps: thy will the way. By loving thou mountest, by neglect thou descendest. Standing on the earth thou art in heaven, if thou lovest God. For the heart is not so raised as the body is raised: the body to be lifted up changes its place: the heart to be lifted up changes its will.

7. "For Thou, Lord, art good and gracious" (ver. 5)....Even prayers are often hindered by vain thoughts, so that the heart scarcely remains fixed on God: and it would hold itself so as to be fixed, and somehow flees from itself, and finds no frames in which it can enclose itself, no bars by which it may keep in its flights and wandering movements, and stand still to be made glad by its God. Scarcely does one such prayer occur amongst many. Each one might say that this happened to him, but that it happened not to others, if we did not find in the holy Scripture David praying in a certain place, and saying, "Since I have found my heart, O Lord, so that I might pray unto Thee." [3954] He said that he had found his heart, as if it were wont to flee from him, and he to follow it like a fugitive, and not be able to catch it, and to cry to God, "For my heart hath deserted me." [3955] Therefore, my brethren, thinking over what he saith here, I think I see what he meaneth by "gracious." I seem to feel that for this reason he calls God gracious, because He bears with those failings of ours, and yet expects prayer from us, in order to make us perfect: and when we have given it to Him, He receives it gratefully, and listens to it, and remembers not those many prayers which we pour out unthinkingly, and accepts the one which we can scarcely find. For what man is there, my brethren, who, on being addressed by his friend, when he wishes to answer his address, sees his friend turn away from him and speak to another, who is there who would bear this? Or if you appeal to a judge, and set him up to hear you, and all at once, while you are speaking to him, pass from him, and begin to converse with your friend, who would endure this? Yet God endures the hearts of so many persons who pray and think of different things....What then? Must we despair of mankind, and say that every man is already condemned into whose prayers any wandering thoughts have crept and interrupted them? If we say this, my brethren, I know not what hope remains. Therefore because there is some hope before God, because His mercy is great, let us say unto Him, "For unto Thee, O Lord, have I lifted up my soul." And how have I lifted it up? As I could, as Thou gavest me strength, as I could catch it when it fled away....From infirmity I sink: heal Thou me, and I shall stand: strengthen Thou me, and I shall be strong. But until Thou do this, Thou bearest with me: "For Thou, Lord, art good and gracious, and of great mercy." That is, not only "of mercy," but "of great mercy:" for as our iniquity abounds, so also aboundeth Thy mercy. "Unto all that call upon Thee." What is it then which Scripture saith in many places: "They shall call, and I will not hear them"? [3956] Yet surely Thou art merciful to all that call upon Thee; but that some call, yet call not upon Him, of whom it is said, "They have not called upon God." [3957] They call, but not on God. Thou callest upon whatever thou lovest: thou callest upon whatever thou callest unto thyself, whatever thou wishest to come unto thee. Therefore if thou callest upon God for this reason, in order that money may come unto thee, that an inheritance may come unto thee, that worldly rank may come unto thee, thou callest upon those things which thou desirest may come unto thee: but thou makest God the helper of thy desires, not the listener to thy needs. God is good, if He gives what thou wishest. What if thou wishest ill, will He not then be more merciful by not giving? Then, if He gives not, then is God nothing to thee; and thou sayest, How much I have prayed, how often I have prayed, and have not been heard! Why, what didst thou ask? Perhaps that thy enemy might die. What if he at the same time were praying for thy death? He who created thee, created him also: thou art a man, he too is a man; but God is the Judge: He hears both, and He grants their prayer to neither. Thou art sad, because thou wast not heard when praying against him; be glad, because his prayer was not heard against thee. But thou sayest, I did not ask for this; I asked not for the death of my enemy, but for the life of my child; what ill did I ask? Thou askedst no ill, as thou didst think. What if "he was taken away, lest wickedness should alter his understanding." [3958] But he was a sinner, thou sayest, and therefore I wished him to live, that he might be corrected. Thou wishedst him to live, that he might become better; what if God knew, that if he lived he would become worse?...If, therefore, thou callest on God as God, be confident thou shalt be heard: thou hast part in that verse: "And of great mercy unto all that call upon Thee."...

8. Think, brethren, and reflect what good things God giveth unto sinners: and learn hence what He keepeth for His own servants. To sinners who blaspheme Him every day He giveth the sky and the earth, He giveth springs, fruits, health, children, wealth, abundance: all these good things none giveth but God. He who giveth such things to sinners, what thinkest thou He keeps for His faithful ones? Is this to be believed of Him, that He who giveth such things to the bad, keepeth nothing for the good? Nay verily He doth keep, not earth, but heaven for them. Too common a thing perhaps I say when I say heaven; Himself rather, who made the heaven. Fair is heaven, but fairer is the Maker of heaven. But I see the heavens, Him I see not. Because thou hast eyes to see the heavens: a heart thou hast not yet to see the Maker of heaven: therefore came He from heaven to earth, to cleanse the heart, that He may be seen who made heaven and earth. But wait thou with full patience for salvation. By what treatment to cure thee, He knoweth: by what cutting, what burning, He knoweth. Thou hast brought sickness on thyself by sinning: He comes not only to nurse, but also to cut and to burn. Seest thou not how much men suffer under the hands of physicians, when a man promises them an uncertain hope? Thou wilt be cured, says the physician: thou wilt be cured, if I cut. It is a man who speaks, and to a man that he speaks: neither is he sure who speaks, nor he who hears, for he who is speaking to the man hath not made man, and knows not perfectly what is passing in man: yet at the words of a man who knows not what is passing in man, man sooner believeth, submits his limbs, suffers himself to be bound, often without being bound is cut or burned; and receives perhaps health for a few days, even when just healed not knowing when he may die: perhaps, while being healed, dies; perhaps cannot be healed. But to whom hath God promised anything, and deceived him?

9. "Fix my prayer in Thy ears, O Lord" (ver. 6). Great earnestness of him who prays! That is, let not my prayer go out of Thine ears, fix it then in Thine ears. How did he travail that he might fix his prayer in the ears of God? Let God answer and say to us; Wouldest thou that I fix thy prayer in My ears? Fix My law in thy heart; "and attend to the voice of my prayer."

10. "In the day of my trouble I have cried unto Thee, for Thou hast heard me" (ver. 7). A little before he had said, All the day have I cried, all the day have I been troubled. Let no Christian then say that there is any day in which he is not troubled. By "all the day" we have understood the whole of time. What then, is there trouble even when it is well with us? Even so, trouble. How is there trouble? Because "as long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord." [3959] Let what will abound here, we are not yet in that country whither we are hastening to return. He to whom foreign travel is sweet, loveth not his country: if his country is sweet, travel is bitter; if travel is bitter, all the day there is trouble. When is there not trouble? When there is joy in one's country. "At Thy right hand are delights for evermore." [3960] "Thou shalt fill me with joy," he saith, "with Thy countenance: that I may see the delight of the Lord." [3961] There toil and groaning shall pass away: there shall be not prayer but praise; there Alleluia, there Amen, the voice in concord with Angels; there vision without failing and love without weariness. So long therefore as we are not there, ye see that we are not in that which is good. But do all things abound? If all things abound, see if thou art assured that all things perish not. But I have what I had not: more money is come to me which I had not before. Perhaps more fear too is come, which thou hadst not before: perhaps thou wast so much the more secure as thou wast the poorer. In fine, be it that thou hast wealth, that thou hast redundance of this world's affluence, that thou hast assurance given thee that all this shall not perish; besides this, that God say unto thee, Thou shalt remain for ever in these things, they shall be for ever with thee, but My face thou shalt not see. Let none ask counsel of the flesh: ask ye counsel of the Spirit: let your heart answer you; let hope, faith, charity, which has begun to be in you, answer. If then we were to receive assurance that we should always be in affluence of worldly goods, and if God were to say to us, My face ye shall not see, would ye rejoice in these goods? Some one might perhaps choose to rejoice, and say, These things abound unto me, it is well with me, I ask no more. He hath not yet begun to be a lover of God: he hath not yet begun to sigh like one far from home. Far be it, far be it from us: let them retire, all those seductions: let them retire, those false blandishments: let them be gone, those words which they say daily unto us, "Where is thy God?" Let us pour out our soul [3962] over us, [3963] let us confess in tears, let us groan in confession, let us sigh in misery. Whatever is present with us besides our God, is not sweet: we would not have all things that He hath given, if He gives not Himself who gave all things.

11. "Among the gods there is none like unto Thee, O Lord" (ver. 8). What did he say? "Among the gods," etc. Let the Pagans make for themselves what gods they will; let them bring workmen in silver and in gold, furbishers, sculptors; let them make gods. What kind of gods? Having eyes, and seeing not; [3964] and the other things which the Psalm mentions in what follows. But we do not worship these, he says; we do not worship them, these are symbols. What then do ye worship? Something else that is worse: for the gods of the gentiles are devils. What then? Neither, say they, do we worship devils. Ye have certainly nothing else in your temples, nothing else inspires your prophets than a devil. [3965] But what do ye say? We worship Angels, we have Angels as gods. Ye know not altogether what Angels are. Angels worship the one God, and favour not men who wish to worship Angels and not God. For we find Angels of high rank [3966] forbidding men to adore them, and commanding them to adore the true God. [3967] But when they say Angels, suppose they mean men, since it is said, "I have said, Ye are Gods, and all the children of the Most Highest." [3968] Whatever [3969] man thinks to the contrary, that which was made is not like Him who made it. Except God, whatever else there is in the universe was made by God. What a difference there is between Him who made, and that which was made, who can worthily imagine? Therefore this man said, "there is none like unto Thee, O Lord: there is not one that can do as thou doest." But how much God is unlike them he said not, because it cannot be said. Let your Charity attend: God is ineffable: we more easily say what He is not than what He is. Thou thinkest of the earth; this is not God: thou thinkest of the sea; this is not God: of all things which are in the earth, men and animals; this is not God: of all things which are in the sea, which fly through the air; this is not God: whatever shines in the sky, the stars, sun and moon; this is not God: the heaven itself; this is not God: think of the Angels, Virtues, Powers, Archangels, Thrones, Seats, Principalities; this is not God. What is He then? I could only tell thee, what He is not. Askest thou what He is? What "the eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, nor hath risen up into the heart of man." [3970] ...

12. "All nations that Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord" (ver. 9). He has announced the Church: "All nations." If there is any nation which God hath not made, it will not worship Him: but there is no nation which God hath not made; because God made Adam and Eve, the source of all nations, thence all nations sprang. All nations therefore hath God made. When was this said? When before Him there worshipped none but a few holy men in one people of the Hebrews, then this was said: and see now what it is which was said: "All nations that Thou hast made," etc. When these things were spoken, they were not seen, and they were believed: now that they are seen, why are they denied? "All nations that Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord, and shall glorify Thy Name."

13. "For Thou art great, and doing wondrous things: Thou alone art the great God" (ver. 10). Let no man call himself great. Some were to be who would call themselves great: against these it is said, "Thou alone art the great God." For what great thing is ascribed to God, when it is said that He alone is the great God? Who knows not that He is the great God? But because there were to be some who would call themselves great and make God little, against these it is said, "Thou alone art the great God." For what Thou sayest is fulfilled, not what those say who call themselves great. What hath God said by His Spirit? "All nations." What saith he, whoever he is, who calleth himself great? "Far from it: God is not worshipped in all nations: all nations have perished, Africa alone remains." This thou sayest, who callest thyself great: [3971] another thing He saith who alone is the great God. What saith He, who alone is the great God? "All nations." I see what the only great God hath said: let man be silent, who is falsely great; great only in appearance, because he disdains to be small. Who disdains to be small? He who saith this. Whoever will be great among you, said the Lord, shall be your servant. [3972] If that man had wished to be the servant of his brethren, he would not have separated them from their mother: but when he wishes to be great, and wishes not to be small, as would be for his welfare, God, who resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble, [3973] because He alone is great, fulfilleth all things which He predicted, and contradicteth those who blaspheme. For such persons blaspheme against Christ, who say that the Church has perished from the whole world, and is left only in Africa. If thou wert to say to him, Thou wilt lose thy villa, he would perhaps scarcely keep from laying his hand upon thee: and yet he says, that Christ has lost His inheritance, redeemed by His own Blood! See now what a wrong he does, my brethren. The Scripture says, "In a wide nation is the king's honour; but in the domination of the people is the affliction [3974] of a prince." [3975] This wrong then thou dost unto Christ, to say that His people is diminished to that small number. Was it for this thou wast born, for this thou callest thyself a Christian, that thou mayest grudge Christ His glory, whose sign thou sayest that thou bearest on thy forehead, and hast lost out of thy heart? In a wide nation is the king's honour: acknowledge thy King: give Him glory, give Him a wide nation. What wide nation shall I give Him, dost thou say? Choose not to give Him from thy own heart, and thou wilt give aright. Whence am I to give? thou wilt say. Lo, give from hence: "All nations that Thou hast made shall come and worship before Thee, O Lord." Say this, confess this, and thou hast given a wide nation: for all nations in One are one: this is very oneness. For as there is a Church and Churches, and those are Churches which also are a Church, so that is a nation which was nations: formerly nations, many nations, now one nation. Why one nation? Because one faith, one hope, one charity, one expectation. Lastly, why not one nation, if one country? Our country is heavenly, our country is Jerusalem: whoever is not a citizen of it, belongs not to that nation: but whoever is a citizen of it is in that one nation of God. And this nation, from the east to the west, from the north and the sea, is extended through the four quarters of the whole world. This God saith: From the east and west, from the north and the sea, give glory to God. This He foretold, this He fulfilled, who alone is great. Let him therefore who would not be little cease from saying this against Him who alone is great: for there cannot be two great, God and Donatus. [3976]

14. "Lead me, O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth" (ver. 11). Thy way, Thy truth, Thy life, is Christ. Therefore belongeth the Body to Him, and the Body is of Him. I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. [3977] "Lead me, O Lord, in Thy way." In what way? "And I will walk in Thy truth." It is one thing to lead to the way, another to guide in the way. Behold man everywhere poor, everywhere in need of help. Those who are beside the way are not Christians, or not yet Catholics: let them be guided to the way: but when they have been brought to the way and made Catholics in Christ, they must be guided by Him in the way itself, lest they fall. [3978] Now assuredly they walk in the way. "Lead me, O Lord, in Thy way:" surely I am now in Thy way, lead me there. "And I will walk in Thy truth:" while Thou leadest I shall not err: if Thou let me go, I shall err. Pray then that He let thee not go, but lead thee even to the end. How doth He lead thee? By always admonishing, always giving thee His hand. And the arm of the Lord, to whom is it revealed? [3979] For in giving His Christ He giveth His hand: in giving His hand, He giveth His Christ. He leadeth to the way, in leading to His Christ: He leadeth in the way, by leading in His Christ, and Christ is truth. "Lead me," therefore, "O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth:" in Him verily who said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." [3980] For Thou who leadest in the way and the truth, whither leadest Thou, but unto life? In Him then, unto Him Thou leadest.

15. "Let my heart be made glad, so that it may fear Thy name." There is then fear in gladness. How can there be gladness, if fear? Is not fear wont to be painful? There will hereafter be gladness without fear, now gladness with fear; for not yet is there perfect security, nor perfect gladness. If there is no gladness, we faint: if full security, we rejoice wrongly. Therefore may He both sprinkle on us gladness, and strike fear into us, that by the sweetness of gladness He may lead us to the abode of security; by giving us fear, may cause us not to rejoice wrongly, and to withdraw from the way. Therefore saith the Psalm: "Serve the Lord in fear, and rejoice unto Him with trembling:" [3981] so also saith the Apostle Paul; "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God that worketh in you." [3982] Whatever prosperity comes then, my brethren, is rather to be feared: those things which ye think to be prosperous, are rather temptations. An inheritance cometh, there cometh wealth, there is an abundant overflow of some happiness: these are temptations: take care that they corrupt you not. Whatever prosperity also there is according to Christ, and the true love of Christ: if perhaps thou hast gained thy wife, who was of the party of Donatus: if thy sons have been made believers who were Pagans: if perhaps thou hast gained thy friend who wished to draw thee away to the theatres, and thou hast drawn him to the church: if some hostile opponent of thine who was furiously mad against thee, laying aside his fury, has become gentle, and owned God, and now barks at thee no more, but cries with thee against wickedness: these things are pleasant. For what do we rejoice for, if we do not rejoice for these things? Or what other are our joys, but these? But because tribulations also abound, and temptations, and dissensions, and schisms, and other evils, [3983] without which this world cannot be, until iniquity pass away: let not that rejoicing make us secure, but let our heart be so made glad, as to fear the name of the Lord, lest it be made glad on one side, be stricken on another. Expect not security in journeying: if ever we wish for it here, it will be the birdlime of the body, [3984] not the safety of the man. "Let my heart be made glad, so that it may fear Thy name."

16. "I will confess unto Thee, O Lord my God, in my whole heart, and I will glorify Thy name for ever" (ver. 12): "for great is Thy mercy toward me, and Thou hast delivered my soul from the nethermost hell" (ver. 13). Do not be angry, brethren, if I do not explain what I have said as though I were certain. For I am a man, and as much as is granted to me concerning the sacred Scriptures, so much I venture to speak: nothing of myself. Hades [3985] I have not yet seen, nor have you: and there will be perhaps another way for us, and not through Hades. These things are uncertain. But because Scripture, which cannot be gainsaid, says, "Thou hast delivered my soul from the nether-most hell," we understand that there are as it were two hells, an upper one and a lower one: for how can there be a lower hell, unless because there is also an upper? The one would not be called lower, except by comparison with that upper part. It appears then, my brethren, that there is some heavenly abode of Angels: there is there a life of ineffable joys, there immortality and incorruption, there all things abiding according to the gift and grace of God. That part of the creation is above. If then that is above, but this earthly part, where is flesh and blood, where is corruptibleness, where is nativity and mortality, departure and succession, changeableness and inconstancy, where are fears, desires, horrors, uncertain joys, frail hope, perishable existence; I suppose that all this part cannot be compared with that heaven of which I was just now speaking; if then this part cannot be compared with that, the one is above, the other below. And whither do we go after death, unless there is a depth deeper than this depth [3986] in which we are in the flesh and in this mortal state? For "the body is dead," saith the Apostle, "because of sin." [3987] Therefore even here are the dead; that thou mayest not wonder because it is called infernum, if it abounds with the dead. For he saith not, the body is about to die: but, "the body is dead." Even now surely our body hath life: and yet compared with that body which is to be like the bodies of Angels, the body of man is found to be dead, although still having life. But again, from this infernum, that is from this part of Hades, there is another lower, whither the dead go: from whence God would rescue our souls, even sending thither His own Son. For it was on account of these two hells, my brethren, that the Son of God was sent, on all sides setting free. To this hell he was sent by being born, to that by dying. Therefore it is His voice in that Psalm, not according to any man's conjecture, but an Apostle explaining, when he saith, "For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell." [3988] Therefore it is here also either His voice, "Thou hast delivered my soul from the nethermost hell:" or our voice by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: for on this account He came even unto hell, that we might not remain in hell.

17. I will mention another opinion also. For perhaps even in hell itself there is some lower part where are thrust the ungodly who have sinned most. [3989] For whether in hell there were not some places where Abraham was, we cannot define sufficiently. For not yet had the Lord come to hell that He might rescue from thence the souls of all the saints who had gone before, [3990] and yet Abraham was there in repose. [3991] And a certain rich man when he was in torments in hell, when he saw Abraham, lifted up his eyes. He could not have seen him by lifting up his eyes, unless the one was above, the other below. And what did Abraham answer unto him, when he said, "send Lazarus." "My son," he said, "remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is at rest, but thou art tormented. And besides this," he said, "between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that neither can we go to you, nor can any one come from thence to us." [3992] Therefore between these two hells, perhaps, in one of which the souls of the just have gotten rest, in the other the souls of the ungodly are tormented, one waiting and praying here, placed here in the body of Christ, and praying in the voice of Christ, said that God had delivered his soul from the nethermost hell, because He delivered him from such sins as might have been the means of drawing him down to the torments of the nethermost hell....Some one having a troublesome cause was to be sent to prison: another comes and defends him; what does he say when he thanks him? Thou hast delivered my soul out of prison. A debtor was to be hanged up: [3993] his debt is paid; he is said to be delivered from being hanged up. They were not in all these evils: but because they were in such due course towards them, [3994] that unless aid had been brought, they would have been in them, they rightly say that they are delivered from thence, whither they were not suffered by their deliverers to be taken. Therefore, brethren, whether it be this or that, consider me to be herein an inquirer into the word of God, not a rash assertor. [3995]

18. "O God, the transgressors of the law have arisen up against me" (ver. 14). Whom calleth he transgressors of the law? Not the Pagans, who have not received the law: for no one transgresseth that which he hath not received; the Apostle saith clearly, "For where there is no law, there is no prevarication." [3996] Transgressors of the law he calls "prevaricators." Whom then do we understand, brethren? If we take this word from our Lord Himself, the transgressors of the law were the Jews....They did not keep the law, and accused Christ as if He transgressed the law. And we know what the Lord suffered. Thinkest thou His Body suffers no such thing now? How can this be? "If they called the Master of the house Beelzebub, how much more those of his household? The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord." [3997] The body also suffereth transgressors of the law, and they rise up against the Body of Christ. Who are the transgressors of the law? Do the Jews perchance dare to rise up against Christ? No: for it is not they that cause us much trouble. For they have not yet believed: they have not yet owned their salvation. Against the Body of Christ bad Christians rise up, from whom the Body of Christ daily suffereth trouble. All schisms, all heresies, all within who live wickedly and engraft their own character on those who live well, and draw them over to their own side, and with evil communications corrupt good manners; these persons "transgressing the law rose up against Me." [3998] Let every pious soul speak, let every Christian soul speak. That one which suffers not this, let it not speak. But if it is a Christian soul, it knows that it suffers evils: if it owns in itself its own sufferings, let it own herein its own voice; but if it is without suffering, let it [3999] also be without the voice; but that it may not be without suffering, let it walk along the narrow way, [4000] and begin to live godly in Christ: it must of necessity suffer this persecution. For "all," saith the Apostle, "who will live godly in Christ, suffer persecution." [4001]

"And the synagogue of the powerful have sought after My soul." The synagogue of the powerful is the congregation of the proud. The synagogue of the powerful rose up against the Head, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ, crying and saying with one mouth, Crucify Him, crucify Him: [4002] of whom it is said, "The sons of men, their teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." [4003] They did not strike, but cried: by crying they struck, by crying they crucified Him. The will of those who cried was fulfilled, when the Lord was crucified: "And they did not place Thee before their eyes." How did they not place Him before them? They did not know Him God. They should have spared him as Man: what they saw, according to this they should have walked. Suppose that He was not God, He was man: was He therefore to be slain? Spare Him a man, and own Him God.

19. "And Thou, Lord God, art One who hast compassion and merciful, longsuffering, and very pitiful, and true" (ver. 15). Wherefore longsuffering and very pitiful, and One who hast compassion? Because hanging on the Cross He said: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." [4004] Whom prayeth He to? for whom doth He pray? Who prayeth? Where prayeth He? The Son prays to the Father, crucified for the ungodly, in the midst of very insults, not of words but of death inflicted, hanging on the Cross; as if for this He had His hands stretched out, that thus He might pray for them, that His "prayer might be directed like incense in the sight of the Father, and the lifting up of His hands like an evening sacrifice." [4005]

20. If therefore Thou art "true," "Look upon me, and have mercy upon me: give power unto Thy servant." Because Thou art "true," "give power unto Thy servant" (ver. 16). Let the time of patience pass away, the time of judgment come. How, "give power"? The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son. [4006] He rising again will come even to earth Himself to judge: He will appear terrible who appeared despicable. He will show His power, who showed His patience; on the Cross was patience; in the judgment will be power. For He will appear as Man judging, but in glory: because "as ye saw Him go," said the Angels, "so He will come." [4007] His very form shall come to judgment; therefore the ungodly also shall see Him: for they shall not see the form of God. For blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [4008] ...In the vision of the Father there is also the vision of the Son: and in the vision of the Son there is also the vision of the Father. Therefore He adds a consequence, and says: "Know ye not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" [4009] that is, both in Me seen the Father is seen, and in the Father seen the Son too is seen. The vision of the Father and the Son cannot be separated: where nature and substance is not separated, there vision cannot be separated. For that ye may know that the heart ought to be made ready for that place, to see the Divinity of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, in which though not seen we believe, and by believing cleanse the heart that there may be able to be sight: the Lord Himself saith in another place, "He that hath My commands and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me: and he that loveth Me shall be loved by My Father: and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto him." [4010] Did they not see Him, with whom He was talking? They both saw Him, and did not see Him? they saw something, they believed something: they saw Man, they believed in God. But in the Judgment they shall see the same Lord Jesus Christ as Man, together with the wicked: after the Judgment, they shall see God, apart from the wicked.

21. "And save the Son of Thine handmaid." The Lord is the Son of the handmaid. Of what handmaid? Her who when He was announced as about to be born of her, answered and said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it unto me according to Thy word." [4011] He saved the Son of His handmaid, and His own Son: His own Son, in the Form of God; [4012] the Son of His handmaid in the form of a servant. Of the handmaid of God, therefore, the Lord was born in the form of a servant; and He said, "Save the Son of Thine handmaid." And He was saved from death, as ye know, His flesh, which was dead, being raised again....And each several Christian placed in the Body of Christ may say, "Save the Son of Thine handmaid." Perhaps he cannot say, "Give power unto Thy servant:" because it was He, the Son, who received power. Yet wherefore saith He not this also? Was it not said to servants, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel"? [4013] and the servants say, "Know ye not that we shall judge Angels?" [4014] Each one therefore of the saints receiveth also power, and each several saint is the son of His handmaid. What if he is born of a pagan mother, and has become a Christian? How can the son of a pagan be the son of His handmaid: He is indeed the son of a pagan mother after the flesh, but the son of the Church after the Spirit.

22. "Show me a sign for good" (ver. 17). What sign, but that of the Resurrection? The Lord says: "This wicked and provoking generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonah." [4015] Therefore in our Head a sign has been shown already for good; each one of us also may say, "Show me a sign for good:" because at the last trumpet, at the coming of the Lord, both "the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." [4016] This will be a sign for good. "That they who hate me may see it, and be ashamed." In the judgment they shall be ashamed unto their destruction, who will not now be ashamed unto their healing. Now therefore let them be ashamed: let them accuse their own ways, let them keep the good way: because none of us liveth without being ashamed, unless he first be ashamed and live anew. Now God grants them the approach of a healthy shame, if they despise not the medicine of confession: but if they will not now be ashamed, then they shall be ashamed, when "their iniquities shall convince them to their face." [4017] How shall they be ashamed? When they shall say, "These are they whom we had sometimes in derision, and a parable of reproach. We fools counted their life madness: how are they numbered among the children of God! What hath pride profited us?" [4018] Then shall they say this: let them say it now, and they say it to their health. For let each one turn humbly to God, and now say, What hath my pride profited me? and hear from the Apostle, "For what glory had ye in those things of which ye are now ashamed?" [4019] Ye see that there is even now a wholesome shame while there is a place of penitence: but then one which will be late, useless, fruitless....

23. "For Thou, Lord, hast holpen me, and comforted me." "Hast holpen me," in struggle; "and comforted me," in sorrow. For no one seeketh comfort, but he who is in misery. Would ye not be consoled? Say that ye are happy, and ye hear, "My people" (now ye answer, and I hear a murmur, as of persons who remember the Scriptures. [4020] May God, who hath written this in your hearts, confirm it in your deeds. Ye see, brethren, that those who say unto you, Ye are happy, seduce you), "O My people, they that call you happy cause you to err, and disturb the way of your feet." [4021] So also from the Epistle of the Apostle James: "Be afflicted, and mourn: let your laughter be turned to mourning." [4022] Ye see what ye have heard read: when would such things be said unto us in the land of security? This surely is the land of offences, and temptations, and of all evils, that we may groan here, and deserve to rejoice there; here to be troubled, and there to be comforted, and to say, "For Thou hast delivered mine eyes from tears, my feet from falling: I will please the Lord in the land of the living." [4023] This is the land of the dead. The land of the dead passeth, the land of the living cometh. In the land of the dead is labour, grief, fear, tribulation, temptation, groaning, sighing: here are false happy ones, true unhappy, because happiness is false, misery is true. But he that owneth himself to be in true misery, will also be in true happiness: and yet now because thou art miserable, hear the Lord saying, "Blessed are they that mourn." [4024] O blessed they that mourn! Nothing is so akin to misery as mourning: nothing so remote and contrary to misery as blessedness: Thou speakest of those who mourn, and Thou callest them blessed! Understand, He saith, what I say: I call those who mourn blessed. Wherefore blessed? In hope. Wherefore mourning? In act. For they mourn in this death, in these tribulations, in their wandering: and because they own themselves to be in this misery, and mourn, they are blessed. Wherefore do they mourn? The blessed Cyprian was put to sorrow in his passion: now he is comforted with his crown; now though comforted, he was sad. For our Lord Jesus Christ still intercedeth for us: all the Martyrs who are with Him intercede for us. Their intercessions pass not away, except when our mourning is passed away: but when our mourning shall have passed away, we all with one voice, in one people, in one country, shall receive comfort, thousands of thousands joined with Angels playing upon harps, with choirs of heavenly powers living in one city. Who mourneth there? Who there sigheth? Who there toileth? Who there needeth? Who dieth there? Who there showeth mercy? Who breaketh bread to the hungry there, where all are satisfied with the bread of righteousness? No one saith unto thee, Receive a stranger; there no one will be a stranger to thee: all live in their own country. No one saith unto thee, Set at one thy friends disputing; in everlasting peace they enjoy the Face of God. No one saith unto thee, Visit the sick; health and immortality abide for ever. No one saith unto thee, Bury the dead; all shall be in everlasting life. Works of mercy stop, because misery is found not. And what shall we do there? Shall we perhaps sleep? If now we fight against ourselves, although we carry about a house of sleep, this flesh of ours, and keep watch with these lights, and this solemn feast gives us a mind to watch; what wakefulness shall that day give unto us! Therefore we shall be awake, we shall not sleep. What shall we do? [4025] There will be no works of mercy, because there will be no misery. Perhaps there will be these necessary works which there are here now, of sowing, ploughing, cooking, grinding, weaving? None of these, for there will be no want. Thus there will be no works of mercy, because misery is past away: where there is no want nor misery, there will be neither works of necessity nor of mercy. What will be there? What business shall we have? What action? Will there be no action, because there is rest? Shall we sit there, and be torpid, and do nothing? If our love grow cold, our action will grow cold. How then will that love resting in the face of God, for whom we now long, for whom we sigh, how will it inflame us, when we shall have come to Him? He for whom while as yet we see Him not, we so sigh, how will He enlighten us, when we shall have come to Him? How will He change us? What will He make of us? What then shall we do, brethren? Let the Psalm tell us: "Blessed are they who dwell in Thy house." Why? "They shall praise Thee for ever and ever." [4026] This will be our employment, praise of God. Thou lovest and praisest. Thou wilt cease to praise, if thou cease to love. But thou wilt not cease to love, because He whom thou seest is such an One as offends thee not by any weariness: He both satisfies thee, and satisfies thee not. What I say is wonderful. If I say that He satisfies thee, I am afraid lest as though satisfied thou shouldest wish to depart, as from a dinner or from a supper. What then do I say? doth He not satisfy thee? I am afraid again, that if I say, He doth not satisfy thee, thou shouldest seem to be in want: and shouldest be as it were empty, and there should be in thee some void which ought to be filled. What then shall I say, except what can be said, but can hardly be thought? He both satisfies thee, and satisfies thee not: for I find both in Scripture. For while He said, "Blessed are the hungry, for they shall be filled;" [4027] it is again said of Wisdom, "Those who eat Thee shall hunger again, and those who drink shall thirst again." [4028] Nay, but He did not say "again," but he said, "still:" for "shall thirst again" is as if once having been filled he departed and digested, and returned to drink. So it is, "Those who eat Thee shall still hunger:" thus when they eat they hunger: and those who drink Thee, even thus when drinking, thirst. What is it, to thirst in drinking? Never to grow weary. If then there shall be that ineffable and eternal sweetness, what doth He now seek of us, brethren, but faith unfeigned, firm hope, pure charity? and man may walk in the way which the Lord hath given, may bear troubles, and receive consolations.


[3940] Lat. LXXXV. A sermon to the people at Carthage, delivered on the vigil of a festival, perhaps of St. Cyprian. [3941] Rom. v. 8, 7. [3942] Luke xviii. 11-13. [3943] 1 Tim. vi. 17. [3944] Luke xvi. 19-24. [3945] Gen. xiii. 2. [3946] Gen. xxii. 10. [3947] Non commissor sed dimissor. [3948] Apollinarians. [3949] Lev. xix. 2. [3950] Ps. lxi. 2. [3951] 1 Cor. vi. 11. [3952] Gal. iii. 27. [3953] Eph. v. 8. [3954] 2 Sam. vii. 27. [3955] Ps. xxxviii. 10. [3956] Prov. i. 28. [3957] Ps. liii. 4. [3958] Wisd. iv. 11. [3959] 2 Cor. v. 6. [3960] Ps. xvi. 11. [3961] Ps. xxvii. 4. [3962] Ps. xlii. 3, 4. [3963] Super nos. [3964] Ps. cxv. 5. [3965] Ps. xcvi. 5. [3966] Honoratos. [3967] Rev. xix. 10. [3968] Ps. lxxxii. 6. [3969] Quodlibet aliud. [3970] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [3971] The Donatist. [3972] Matt. xx. 26. [3973] Jas. iv. 6. [3974] Contritio. [3975] Prov. xiv. 28. [3976] [He made his little sect the whole Catholic Church. So now the Roman communion claims to be the whole Catholic communion, cutting itself off even from the Easterns.--C.] [3977] John xiv. 6. [3978] [See Acts xviii. 26.--C.] [3979] Isa. liii. 1. [3980] John xiv. 6. [3981] Ps. ii. 11. [3982] Philip. ii. 12, 13. [3983] Oxf. mss. "other such evils." [3984] Al. "of the heart." [3985] Infernum: used, as our word "hell" in the Apostles' Creed, for the place of departed spirits. [Note he has no dogma on this point, but speaks of his views as uncertain.--C.] [3986] Infernum inferius hoc inferno. Lit. "a hell than this hell." [3987] Rom. viii. 10. [3988] Ps. xvi. 10. [3989] So St. Gregory on Job l. xii. § 14. [3990] St. Gregory on Job, l. xiii. §§ 48, 49. [3991] Luke xvi. 22. [3992] Luke xvi. 24-26. [3993] Suspendendus. The word is used of the preparation for torture, as in the gesta Proconsularia in the case of Felix of Aptungis, Opp. S. Aug. t. ix. Appendix, when Ingentius, the forger, was to be threatened with torture, Proconsul dixit, Suspendatur. [3994] Quia talibus meritis agebantur. [3995] [Note his caution and great humility.--C.] [3996] Rom. iv. 15. [3997] Matt. x. 25, 24. [3998] 1 Cor. xv. 33. [3999] Oxf. mss. "it must needs." [4000] Matt. vii. 14. [4001] 2 Tim. iii. 12. [4002] John xix. 6. [4003] Ps. lvii. 4. [4004] Luke xxiii. 34. [4005] Ps. cxli. 2. [4006] John v. 22. [4007] Acts i. 11. [4008] Matt. v. 8. [4009] John xiv. 10. [4010] John xiv. 21. [4011] Luke i. 38. [4012] Philip. i. 6. [4013] Matt. xix. 28. [4014] 1 Cor. vi. 3. [4015] Matt. xii. 39. [4016] 1 Cor. xv. 52. [4017] Wisd. iv. 20, deducent eos. LXX. el(TM)nxei. [4018] Wisd. v. 3-5, 8. [4019] Rom. vi. 21. [4020] [A striking note of the manner of ancient congregations.--C.] [4021] Isa. iii. 12, Lat. and E.V. margin. [4022] Jas. iv. 9. [4023] Ps. cxvi. 8, 9. [4024] Matt. v. 4. [4025] [See Ps. lxxxiv. p. 402, supra.--C.] [4026] Ps. lxxxiv. 4. [4027] Matt. v. 6. [4028] Ecclus. xxiv. 21. .

Psalm LXXXVII. [4029]

1. The Psalm which has just been sung is short, if we look to the number of its words, but of deep interest in its thoughts. [4030] ...The subject of song and praise in that Psalm is a city, whose citizens are we, as far as we are Christians: whence we are absent, as long as we are mortal: whither we are tending: through whose approaches, undiscoverable among the brakes and thorns that entangle them, the Sovereign of the city made Himself a path [4031] for us to reach it. Walking thus in Christ, and pilgrims till we arrive, and sighing as we long for a certain ineffable repose that dwells within that city, a repose of which it is promised, that "the eye of man hath never seen" such, "nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into his heart to conceive;" let us chant the song of a longing heart: for he who truly longs, thus sings within his soul, though his tongue be silent: he who does not, however he may resound in human ears, is voiceless to God. See what ardent lovers of that city were they by whom these words were composed, by whom they have been handed down to us; with how deep a feeling were they sung by those! A feeling that the love of that city created in them: that love the Spirit of God inspired; "the love of God," he saith, "shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us." Fervent with this Spirit then, let us listen to what is said of that city.

2. "Her foundations are upon the holy hills" (ver. 1). The Psalm had as yet said nothing of the city: it begins thus, and says, "Her foundations are upon the holy hills." Whose? There can be no doubt that foundations, especially among the hills, belong to some city. Thus filled with the Holy Spirit, and with many thoughts of love and longing for that city, as if after long internal meditation, that citizen bursts out, "Her foundations are upon the holy hills;" as if he had already said something concerning it. And how could he have said nothing on a subject, respecting which in his heart he had never been silent? For how could "her foundations" have been written, of which nothing had been said before? But, as I said, after long and silent travailing in contemplation of that city in his mind, crying to God, he bursts out into the ears of men thus: "Her foundations are upon the holy hills." And, supposing persons who heard to enquire of what city he spoke he adds, "the Lord loveth the gates of Sion." Behold, then, a city whose foundations are upon the holy hills, a city called Sion, whose gates the Lord loveth, as he adds, "above all the dwellings of Jacob." But what doth this mean, "her foundations on the holy hills"? What are the holy hills upon which this city is built? Another citizen tells us this more explicitly, the Apostle Paul: of this was the Prophet a citizen, of this the Apostle citizen: and they spoke to exhort the other citizens. But how are these, I mean the Prophets and Apostles, citizens? Perhaps in this sense; that they are themselves the hills, upon which are the foundations of this city, whose gates the Lord loveth. Let then another citizen state this clearly, that I may not seem to guess. Speaking to the Gentiles, and telling them how they were returning, and being, as it were, framed together into the holy structure, "built," he says, "upon the foundations of the Apostles and Prophets:" and because neither the Apostles nor Prophets, upon whom the foundations of that city rest, could stand by their own power, he adds, "Jesus Christ Himself being the head comer stone." [4032] That the Gentiles, therefore, might not think they had no relation to Sion: for Sion was a certain city of this world, which bore a typical resemblance as a shadow to that Sion of which he presently speaketh, that Heavenly Jerusalem, of which the Apostle saith, "which is the mother of us all;" [4033] they might not be said to bear no relation to Sion, on the ground that they did not belong to the Jewish people, he addresses them thus: "Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, and are built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets." [4034] Thou seest the structure of so great a city: yet whereon does all that edifice repose, where does it rest, that it may never fall? "Jesus Christ Himself," he saith, "being the head corner stone."

3. ...But that ye may know that Christ is at once the earliest and the highest foundation, the Apostle saith, "Other foundation can no man lay than is laid, which is Christ Jesus." [4035] How, then, are the Prophets and Apostles foundations, and yet Christ so, than whom nothing can be higher? How, think you, save that as He is openly styled, Saint of saints, so figuratively Foundation of foundations? Thus if thou art thinking of mysteries, Christ is the Saint of saints: if of a subject flock, the Shepherd of shepherds: if of a structure, the Pillar of pillars. In material edifices, the same stone cannot be above and below: if at the bottom, it cannot be at the top: and vice versa: for almost all bodies are liable to limitations in space: nor can they be everywhere or for ever; but as the Godhead is in every place, from every place symbols may be taken for It; and not being any of these things in external properties, It can be everything in figure. Is Christ a door, in the same sense as the doors we see made by carpenters? Surely not; and yet He said, "I am the door." Or a shepherd, in the same capacity as those who guard sheep? though He said, "I am the Shepherd." Both these names occur in the same passage: in the Gospel, He said, that the shepherd enters by the door: the words are, "I am the good Shepherd;" and in the same passage, "I am the door:" [4036] and who is the shepherd who enters by the door? "I am the good Shepherd:" and what is the door by which Thou, Good Shepherd, enterest? How then art Thou all things? In the sense in which everything is through Me. To explain: when Paul enters by the door, does not Christ? Wherefore? Not because Paul is Christ: but since Christ is in Paul: and Paul acts through Christ. The Apostle says, "Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me?" [4037] When His saints and faithful disciples enter by the door, does not Christ enter by the door? How are we to prove this? Since Saul, not yet called Paul, was persecuting those very saints, when He called to him from Heaven, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me?" [4038] Himself then is the foundation, and corner stone: rising from the bottom: if indeed from the bottom: for the base of this foundation is the highest exaltation of the building: and as the support of bodily fabrics rests upon the ground, that of spiritual structures reposes on high. Were we building up ourselves upon the earth, we should lay our foundation on the lowest level: but since our edifice is a heavenly one, to Heaven our Foundation has gone before us: so that our Saviour, the corner stone, the Apostles, and mighty Prophets, the hills that bear the fabric of the city, constitute a sort of living structure. This building now cries from your hearts; that you may be built up into its fabric, the hand of God, as of an artificer, worketh even through my tongue. Nor was it without a meaning that Noah's ark was made of "square beams," [4039] which were typical of the form of the Church. For what is it to be made square? Listen to the resemblance of the squared stone: like qualities should the Christian have: for in all his trials he never falls: though pushed, and, as it were, turned over, he falls not: and thus too, whichever way a square stone is turned, it stands erect....In earthly cities, one thing is the structure of buildings: another thing are the citizens that dwell therein: that city is builded of its own inmates, who are themselves the blocks that form the city, for the very stones are living: "Ye also," says the Apostle, "as living stones, are built up a spiritual house," [4040] words that are addressed to ourselves. Let us then pursue the contemplation of that city.

4. "The Lord loveth the gates of Sion more than all the dwellings of Jacob" (ver. 2). I have made the foregoing remarks, that ye may not imagine the gates are one thing, the foundations another. Why are the Apostles and Prophets foundations? Because their authority is the support of our weakness. Why are they gates? because through them we enter the kingdom of God: for they proclaim it to us: and while we enter by their means, we enter also through Christ, Himself being the Gate. And twelve gates of Jerusalem are spoken of, [4041] and the one gate is Christ, and the twelve gates are Christ for Christ dwells in the twelve gates, hence was twelve the number of the Apostles. There is a deep mystery in this number of twelve: "Ye shall sit," says our Saviour, "on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." [4042] If there are twelve thrones there, there will be no room for the judgment-seat of Paul, the thirteenth Apostle, though he says that he shall judge not men only, but even Angels; which, but the fallen Angels? "Know ye not, that we shall judge Angels," [4043] he writes. The world would answer, Why dost thou boast that thou shalt be a judge? Where will be thy throne? Our Lord spoke of twelve thrones for the twelve Apostles: one, Judas, fell, and his place being supplied by Matthias, the number of twelve thrones was made up: [4044] first, then, discover room for thy judgment-seat; then threaten that thou wilt judge. Let us, therefore, reflect upon the meaning of the twelve thrones. The expression is typical of a sort of universality, as the Church was destined to prevail throughout the whole world: whence this edifice is styled a building together into Christ: and because judges come from all quarters, the twelve thrones are spoken of, just as the twelve gates, from the entering in from all sides into that city. Not only therefore have those twelve, and the Apostle Paul, a claim to the twelve thrones, but, from the universal signification, all who are to sit in judgment: in the same manner as all who enter the city, enter by one or the other of the twelve gates. There are four quarters of the globe: East, West, North, and South: and they are constantly alluded to in the Scriptures. From all those four winds; our Lord declares in the Gospel that He will call his sheep "from the four winds;" [4045] therefore from all those four winds is the Church called. And how called? On every side it is called in the Trinity: no otherwise is it called than by Baptism in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: four then being thrice taken, twelve are found. Knock, therefore, with all your hearts at these gates: and let Christ cry within you: "Open me the gates of righteousness." [4046] For He went before us the Head: He follows Himself in His Body....

5. "Very excellent things are said of thee, thou city of God" (ver. 3). He was, as it were, contemplating that city of Jerusalem on earth: for consider what city he alludes to, of which certain very excellent things are spoken. Now the earthly city has been destroyed: after suffering the enemy's rage, it fell to the earth; it is no longer what it was: it exhibited the emblem, and the shadow hath passed away. Whence then are "very excellent things spoken of thee, thou city of God"? Listen whence: "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon, with them that know Me" (ver. 4). In that city, the Prophet, in the person of God, says, "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon." Rahab belongs not to the Jewish people; [4047] Babylon belongs not to the Jewish people; as is clear from the next verse: "For the Philistines [4048] also, and Tyre, with the Ethiopians, were there." Deservedly then, "very excellent things are spoken of thee, thou city of God:" for not only is the Jewish nation, born of the flesh of Abraham, included therein, but all nations also, some of which are named that all may be understood. "I will think," he says, "upon Rahab:" who is that harlot? That harlot in Jericho, who received the spies and conducted them out of the city by a different road: who trusted beforehand in the promise, who feared God, who was told to hang out of the window a line of scarlet thread, that is, to bear upon her forehead the sign of the blood of Christ. She was saved there, and thus represented the Church of the Gentiles: whence our Lord said to the haughty Pharisees, "Verily I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you." [4049] They go before, because they do violence: they push their way by faith, and to faith a way is made, nor can any resist, since they who are violent take it by force. For it is written, "The kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force." [4050] Such was the conduct of the robber, more courageous on the cross than in the place of ambush. [4051] "I will think upon Rahab and Babylon." By Babylon is meant the city of this world: as there is one holy city, Jerusalem; one unholy, Babylon: all the unholy belong to Babylon, even as all the holy to Jerusalem. But he slideth [4052] from Babylon to Jerusalem. How, but by Him who justifieth the ungodly: Jerusalem is the city of the saints; Babylon of the wicked: but He cometh who justifieth the ungodly: since it is said, "I will think" not only "upon Rahab," but "upon Babylon," but with whom? "with them that know Me."...

6. Listen now to a deep mystery. Rahab is there through Him, through whom also is Babylon, now no longer Babylon, but beginning to be Jerusalem. The daughter is divided against her mother, and will be among the members of that queen to whom is said, "Forget thine own people, and thy father's house, so shall the king have pleasure in thy beauty." [4053] For how could Babylon aspire to Jerusalem? How could Rahab reach those foundations? How could the Philistines, or Tyre, or the people of the Ethiopians? Listen to this verse, "Sion, my mother, a man shall say." [4054] There is then a man who saith this: through whom all those I have mentioned make their approach. Who is this man? It tells if we hear, if we understand. It follows, as if a question had been raised, through whose aid Rahab, Babylon, the Philistines, Tyre, and the Morians, gained an entrance. Behold, through whom they come; "Sion, my mother, a man shall say; and a man was born in her, and Himself the Most High hath founded her" (ver. 5). What, my brethren, can be clearer? Truly, because "very excellent things are spoken of thee, thou city of God." Lo, "Sion, O mother, a man shall say." What man? "He who was born in her." [4055] It is then the man who was born in her, and He Himself hath founded her. Yet how can He be born in the city which He Himself founded? It had already been founded, that therein He might be born. Understand it thus, if thou canst: "Mother Sion, he shall say;" but it is "a man" that "shall say, Mother Sion; yea, a man was born in her:" and yet "he hath founded her" (not a man, but), "the Most High." As He created a mother of whom He would be born, so He founded a city in which He would be born. What hope is ours, brethren! On our behalf the Most High, who founded the city, addresses that city as a mother: and "He was born in her, and the Most High hath founded her."

7. As though it were said, How do ye know this? All of us have sung these Psalms: and Christ, Man for our sake, God before us, sings within us all. But is this much to say, "before us," of Him who was before heaven and earth and time? He then, born for our sakes a man, in that city, also founded her when He was the Most High. Yet how are we assured of this? "The Lord shall rehearse it when He writeth up the people" (ver. 6), as the following verse has it. "The Lord shall declare, when He writeth up the people, and their princes." What princes? [4056] "Those who were born in her;" those princes who, born within her walls, became therein princes: for before they could become princes in her, God chose the despised things of the world to confound the strong. Was the fisherman, the publican, a prince? They were indeed princes: but because they became such in her. Princes of what kind were they? Princes come from Babylon, believing monarchs of this world, came to the city of Rome, as to the head of Babylon: they went not to the temple of the Emperor, but to the tomb of the Fisherman. Whence indeed did they rank as princes? "God chose the weak things of the world to confound the strong, and the foolish things He hath chosen, and things which are not as though they were, that things which are may be brought to nought." [4057] This He doth who "from the ground raises the helpless, and from the dunghill exalts the poor." [4058] For what purpose? "That He may set him with the princes, even with the princes of His people." [4059] This is a mighty deed, a deep source of pleasure and exultation. Orators came later into that city, but they could never have done so, had not fishermen preceded them. These things are glorious indeed, but where could they take place, but in that city of God, of whom very excellent things are spoken?

8. So thus, after drawing together and mingling every source of joyous exultation, how doth he conclude? "The dwelling as of all that shall be made joyous is in Thee" (ver. 7). As if all made joyous, all rejoicing, shall dwell in that city. Amid our journeyings here we suffer bruises: our last home shall be the home of joy alone. Toil and groans shall perish: prayers pass away, hymns of praise succeed. There shall be the dwelling of the happy; no longer shall there be the groans of those that long, but the gladness of those who enjoy. For He will be present for whom we sigh: we shall be like Him, as we shall see Him as He is: [4060] there it will be our whole task to praise and enjoy the presence of God: and what beyond shall we ask for, when He alone satisfies us, by whom all things were made? We shall dwell and be dwelt in; and shall be subject to Him, that God may be all in all. [4061] "Blessed," then, "are they that dwell in Thy house." How blessed? Blessed in their gold, and silver, their numerous slaves, and multiplied offspring? "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy house: for ever and ever they will be praising Thee." [4062] Blessed in that sole labour [4063] which is rest! Let this then be the one and only object of our desire, my brethren, when we shall have reached this pass. Let, us prepare ourselves to rejoice in God: to praise Him. The good works which conduct us thither, will not be needed there. I described, as far as I could, only yesterday, [4064] our condition there: works of charity there will be none, where there will be no misery: thou shalt not find one in want, one naked, no one will meet you tormented with thirst, there will be no stranger, no sick to visit, no dead to bury, no disputants to set at peace. What then wilt thou find to do? Shall we plant new vines, plough, traffic, make voyages, to support the necessities of the body? Deep quiet shall be there; all toilsome work, that necessity demands, will cease: the necessity being dead, its works will perish too. What then will be our state? As far as possible, the tongue of a man thus told us. "As it were, the dwelling of all who shall be made perfect is in Thee." [4065] Why does he say, "as it were"? Because there shall be such joy there as we know not here. Many pleasures do I behold here, and many rejoice in this world, some in one thing, others in another; but there is nothing to compare with that delight, but it shall be "as it were" being made joyful. For if I say joyfulness, men at once think of such joyfulness as men use to have in wine, in feasting, in avarice, and in the world's distinctions. For men are elated by these things, and mad with a kind of joy: but "there is no joy, saith the Lord, unto the wicked." [4066] There is a sort of joyfulness which the ear of man hath not heard, nor his eye seen, nor hath it entered into his heart to conceive. [4067] "As it were, the dwelling of all who shall be made joyful is in Thee." Let us prepare for other delights: for a kind of shadow is what we find here, not the reality: that we may not expect to enjoy such things there as here we delight in: otherwise our self-denial will be avarice. Some persons, when invited to a rich banquet, where there are many and costly dishes yet to come on, abstain from breaking their fast: if you ask the reason, they tell you that they are fasting: which is indeed a great work, a Christian work. Yet be not hasty in praising them: examine their motives: it is their belly, not religion, that they are consulting. That their appetite may not be palled by ordinary dishes, they abstain till more delicate food is set before them. This fast then is for the gullet's sake. Fasting is undoubtedly important: it fights against the belly and the palate; but sometimes it fights for them. Thus, my brethren, if ye imagine that we shall find any such pleasures in that country to which the heavenly trumpet urges us on, and on that account abstain from present enjoyments, that ye may receive the like more plentifully there, ye imitate those I have described, who fast only for greater feasting, and abstain only for greater indulgence. Do not ye like this: prepare yourselves for a certain ineffable delight: cleanse your hearts from all earthly and secular affections. We shall see something, the sight of which will make us blessed: and that alone will suffice for us. What then? Shall we not eat? Yes: we shall eat: but that shall be our food, which will ever refresh, and never fail. "In Thee is the dwelling of all who shall be, as it were, made joyful." He has already told us how we shall be made joyful. "Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: for ever and ever they will be praising Thee." [4068] Let us praise the Lord as far as we are able, but with mingled lamentations: for while we praise we long for Him, and as yet have Him not. When we have, all our sorrows will be taken from us, and nothing will remain but praise, unmixed and everlasting. Now let us pray. [4069]


[4029] Lat. LXXXVI. A discourse to the people, perhaps at Carthage, delivered the day after that on the preceding Psalm. See § 8. [4030] [For his discourse he pleads the command of a brother.--C.] Perhaps Aurelius, bishop of Carthage.--Ben. [4031] Se fecit viam. [4032] Eph. ii. 20. [4033] Gal. iv. 26. [4034] Eph. ii. 19, 20. [4035] 1 Cor. iii. 11. [4036] John x. 11, 9. [4037] 2 Cor. xiii. 3. [4038] Acts ix. 4. [4039] Gen. vi. 14, LXX. [4040] 1 Pet. ii. 5. [4041] Rev. xxi. 12. [4042] Matt. xix. 28. [4043] 1 Cor. vi. 3. [4044] Acts i. 15-26. [4045] Mark xiii. 27. [4046] Ps. cxviii. 19. [4047] Josh. ii. 1, vi. 25. [4048] Alienigenæ, /=llophuloi. [4049] Matt. xxi. 31. [4050] Matt. xi. 12. [4051] In fauce. [4052] Dilabitur, which would seem to mean the writer; al. derivatur, "there is a drawing off," i.e. of citizens. [4053] Ps. xlv. 10, 11. [4054] St. Augustin, Tertullian, and others read meter Sion, for the reading of the LXX., meti. [4055] Or, "He who was made man in her," Qui homo factus est in ea. [4056] Et Principes is added in the text, but it has no equivalent in our version. [4057] 1 Cor. i. 26, 27. [4058] Ps. cxiii. 7. [4059] Ps. cxiii. 8. [4060] 1 John iii. 2. [4061] 1 Cor. xv. 28. [4062] Ps. lxxxiv. 4. [4063] Otioso negotio. [4064] On the former Psalm, p. 419, supra. [4065] Tanquam jucundatorum omnium habitatio in te. [4066] Isa. xlviii. 22. [4067] 1 Cor. ii. 9. [4068] Ps. lxxxiv. 4. [4069] Conversi ad Dominum. See p. 395, note 4, supra. .

Psalm LXXXVIII. [4070]

1. The Title of this eighty-seventh Psalm contains a fresh subject for enquiry: the words occurring here, "for Melech to respond," being nowhere else found. We have already given our opinion on the meaning of the titles Psalmus Cantici and Canticum Psalmi: [4071] and the words, "sons of Core," are constantly repeated, and have often been explained: so also "to the end;" but what comes next in this title is peculiar. For "Melech" we may translate into Latin "for the chorus," for chorus is the sense of the Hebrew word Melech. [4072] ...The Passion of our Lord is here prophesied. Now the Apostle Peter saith, "Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow His steps;" [4073] this is the meaning of "to respond." The Apostle John also saith, "As Christ laid down His life for us, so ought we also to lay down our lives for the brethren;" [4074] this also is to respond. But the choir signifies concord, which consists in charity: whoever therefore in imitation of our Lord's Passion gives up his body to be burnt, if he have not charity, does not answer in the choir, and therefore it profiteth him nothing. [4075] Further, as in Latin the terms Precentor and Succentor are used to denote in music the performer who sings the first part, and him who takes it up; just so in this song of the Passion, Christ going before is followed by the choir of martyrs unto the end of gaining crowns in Heaven. This is sung by "the sons of Core," that is, the imitators of Christ's Passion: as Christ was crucified in Calvary, which is the interpretation of the Hebrew word Core. [4076] This also is "the understanding of Æman the Israelite:" [4077] words occurring at the end of this title. Æman is said to mean, "his brother:" for Christ deigns to make those His brethren, who understand the mystery of His Cross, and not only are not ashamed of it, but faithfully glory in it, not praising themselves for their own merits, but grateful for His grace: so that it may be said to each of them, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no guile," [4078] just as holy Scripture says of Israel himself, that he was without guile. [4079]

2. "O Lord God of my salvation, I have cried day and night before Thee" (ver. 1). Let us therefore now hear the voice of Christ singing before us in prophecy, to whom His own choir should respond either in imitation, or in thanksgiving.

"O let my prayer enter into Thy presence, incline Thine ear unto my calling" (ver. 2). For even our Lord prayed, not in the form of God, but in the form of a servant; for in this He also suffered. He prayed both in prosperous times, that is, by "day," and in calamity, which I imagine is meant by "night." The entrance of prayer into God's presence is its acceptance: the inclination of His ear is His compassionate listening to it: for God has not such bodily members as we have. The passage is however, as usual, a repetition. [4080]

3. "For my soul is filled with evils, and my life draweth nigh unto hell" (ver. 3). Dare we speak of the Soul of Christ as "filled with evils," when the passion had strength as far as it had any, only over the body?...The soul therefore may feel pain without the body: but without the soul the body cannot. Why therefore should we not say that the Soul of Christ was full of the evils of humanity, though not of human sins? Another Prophet says of Him, that He grieved for us: [4081] and the Evangelist says, "And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy:" and our Lord Himself saith unto them of Himself, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death." [4082] The Prophet who composed this Psalm, foreseeing that this would happen, introduces Him saying, "My soul is full of evils, and My life draweth nigh unto hell." For the very same sense is here expressed in other words, as when He said, "My soul is sorrowful, even unto death." The words, "My soul is sorrowful," are like these, "My soul is full of evils:" and what follows, "even unto death," like, "my life draweth nigh unto hell." These feelings of human infirmity our Lord took upon Him, as He did the flesh of human infirmity, and the death of human flesh, not by the necessity of His condition, but by the free will of His mercy, that He might transfigure into Himself His own body, which is the Church (the head of which He deigned to be), that is, His members in His holy and faithful disciples: that if amid human temptations any one among them happened to be in sorrow and pain, he might not therefore think that he was separated from His favour: that the body, like the chorus following its leader, might learn from its Head, that these sorrows were not sin, but proofs of human weakness. We read of the Apostle Paul, a chief member in this body, and we hear him confessing that his soul was full of such evils, when he says, that he feels "great heaviness and continual sorrow in heart for his brethren according to the flesh, who are Israelites." [4083] And if we say that our Lord was sorrowful for them also at the approach of His Passion, in which they would incur the most atrocious guilt, I think we shall not speak amiss. Lastly, the very thing said by our Saviour on the Cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," [4084] is expressed in this Psalm below, "I am counted as one of them that go down into the pit" (ver. 4): by them who knew not what they were doing, when they imagined that He died like other men, subjected to necessity, and overcome by it. The word "pit" is used for the depth of woe or of Hell. "I have been as a man that hath no help."

4. "Free among the dead" (ver. 5). In these words our Lord's Person is most clearly shown: for who else is free among the dead but He who though in the likeness of sinful flesh is alone among sinners without sin? [4085] ...He therefore, "free among the dead," who had it in His power to lay down His life, and again to take it; from whom no one could take it, but He laid it down of His own free will; who could revive His own flesh, as a temple destroyed by them, at His will; who, when all had forsaken Him on the eve of His Passion, remained not alone, because, as He testifies, His Father forsook Him not; [4086] was nevertheless by His enemies, for whom He prayed, who knew not what they did, ...counted "as one who hath no help; like unto them that are wounded, and lie in the grave." But he adds, "Whom thou dost not yet remember:" and in these words there is to be remarked a distinction between Christ and the rest of the dead. For though He was wounded, and when dead laid in the tomb, [4087] yet they who knew not what they were doing, or who He was, regarded Him as like others who had perished from their wounds, and who slept in the tomb, who are as yet out of remembrance of God, that is, whose hour of resurrection has not yet arrived. For thus the Scripture speaks of the dead as sleeping, because it wishes them to be regarded as destined to awake, that is, to rise again. But He, wounded and asleep in the tomb, awoke on the third day, and became "like a sparrow that sitteth alone on the housetop," [4088] that is, on the right hand of His Father in Heaven: and now "dieth no more, death shall no more have dominion over Him." [4089] Hence He differs widely from those whom God hath not yet remembered to cause their resurrection after this manner: for what was to go before in the Head, was kept for the Body in the end. God is then said to remember, when He does an act: then to forget, when He does it not: for neither can God forget, as He never changes, nor remember, as He can never forget. "I am counted" then, by those who know not what they do, "as a man that hath no help:" while I am "free among the dead," I am held by these men "like unto them that are wounded, and lie in the grave." Yet those very men, who account thus of Me, are further said to be "cut away from Thy hand," that is, when I was made so by them, "they were cut away from Thy hand;" they who believed Me destitute of help, are deprived of the help of Thy hand: for they, as he saith in another Psalm, [4090] have digged a pit before me, and are fallen into the midst of it themselves. I prefer this interpretation to that which refers the words, "they are cut away from Thy hand," to those who sleep in the tomb, whom God hath not yet remembered: since the righteous are among the latter, of whom, even though God hath not yet called them to the resurrection, it is said, that their "souls are in the hands of God," [4091] that is, that "they dwell under the defence of the Most High; and shall abide under the shadow of the God of Heaven." [4092] But it is those who are cut away from the hand of God, who believed that Christ was cut off from His hand, and thus accounting Him among the wicked, dared to slay Him.

5. "They laid Me in the lowest pit" (ver. 6), that is, the deepest pit. For so it is in the Greek. But what is the lowest pit, but the deepest woe, than which there is none more deep? Whence in another Psalm it is said, "Thou broughtest me out also of the pit of misery." [4093] "In a place of darkness, and in the shadow of death," whiles they knew not what they did, they laid Him there, thus deeming of Him; they knew not Him "whom none of the princes of this world knew." [4094] By the "shadow of death," I know not whether the death of the body is to be understood, or that of which it is written, "That they walked in darkness and in the land of the shadow of death, a light is risen on them," [4095] because by belief they were brought from out of the darkness and death of sin into light and life. Such an one those who knew not what they did thought our Lord, and in their ignorance accounted Him among those whom He came to help, that they might not be such themselves.

6. "Thy indignation lieth hard upon Me" (ver. 7), or, as other copies have it, "Thy anger;" or, as others, "Thy fury:" the Greek word thumos having undergone different interpretations. For where the Greek copies have orge, no translator hesitated to express it by the Latin ira; but where the word is thumos, most object to rendering it by ira, although many of the authors of the best Latin style, in their translations from Greek philosophy, have thus rendered the word in Latin. But I shall not discuss this matter further: only if I also were to suggest another term, I should think "indignation" more tolerable than "fury," this word in Latin not being applied to persons in their senses. What then does this mean, "Thy indignation lieth hard upon Me," except the belief of those, who knew not the Lord of Glory? [4096] who imagined that the anger of God was not merely roused, but lay hard upon Him, whom they dared to bring to death, and not only death, but that kind, which they regarded as the most execrable of all, namely, the death of the Cross: whence saith the Apostle, "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth upon a tree." [4097] On this account, wishing to praise His obedience which He carried to the extreme of humility, he says, "He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death;" and as this seemed little, he added, "even the death of the Cross;" [4098] and with the same view as far as I can see, he says in this Psalm, "And all thy suspensions," or, as some translate "waves," others "tossings," "Thou hast brought over Me." We also find in another Psalm, "All thy suspensions and waves are come in upon Me," [4099] or, as some have translated better, "have passed over Me:" for it is dielthon in Greek, not eiselthon: and where both expressions are employed, "waves" and "suspensions," one cannot be used as equivalent to the other. In that passage we explained "suspensions" as threatenings, "waves" as the actual sufferings: both inflicted by God's judgment: but in that place it is said, "All have passed over Me," here, "Thou hast brought all upon Me." In the other case, that is, although some evils took place, yet, he said, all those which are here mentioned passed over; but in this case, "Thou hast brought them upon Me." Evils pass over when they do not touch a man, as things which hang over him, or when they do touch him, as waves. But when he uses the word "suspensions," he does not say they passed over, but, "Thou hast brought them upon Me," meaning that all which impended had come to pass. All things which were predicted of His Passion impended, as long as they remained in the prophecies for future fulfilment.

7. "Thou hast put Mine acquaintance far from Me" (ver. 8). If we understand by acquaintance those whom He knew, it will be all men; for whom knew He not? But He calls those acquaintance, to whom He was Himself known, as far as they could know Him at that season: at least so far forth as they knew Him to be innocent, although they considered Him only as a man, not as likewise God. Although He might call the righteous whom He approved, acquaintance, as He calls the wicked unknown, to whom He was to say at the end, "I know you not." [4100] In what follows, "and they have set Me for an abhorrence to themselves;" those whom He called before "acquaintance," may be meant, as even they felt horror at the mode of that death: but it is better referred to those of whom He was speaking above as His persecutors. "I was delivered up, and did not get forth." Is this because His disciples were without, while He was being tried within? [4101] Or are we to give a deeper meaning to the words, "I cannot get forth" as signifying, "I remained hidden in My secret counsels, I showed not who I was, I did not reveal Myself, was not made manifest"? And so it follows,--

"My eyes became weak from want" (ver. 9). For what eyes are we to understand? If the eyes of the flesh in which He suffered, we do not read that His eyes became weak from want, that is, from hunger, in His Passion, as is often the case; as He was betrayed after His Supper, and crucified on the same day: if the inner eyes, how were they weakened from want, in which there was a light that could never fail? But He meant by His eyes those members in the body, of which He was Himself the head, which, as brighter and more eminent and chief above the rest, He loved. It was of this body that the Apostle was speaking, when he wrote, taking his metaphor from our own body, "If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?" etc. [4102] What he wished understood by these words, he has expressed more clearly, by adding, "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular." [4103] Wherefore as those eyes, that is, the holy Apostles, to whom not flesh and blood, but the Father which is in Heaven had revealed Him, so that Peter said, "Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God," [4104] when they saw Him betrayed, and suffering such evils, saw Him not such as they wished, as He did not come forth, did not manifest Himself in His virtue and power, but still hidden in His secrecy, [4105] endured everything as a man overcome and enfeebled, they became weak for want, as if their food, their Light, had been withdrawn from them.

8. He continues, "And I have called upon Thee." This indeed He did most clearly, when upon the Cross. But what follows? "All the day I have stretched forth My hands unto Thee," must be examined how it must be taken. For if in this expression we understand the tree of the Cross, how can we reconcile it with the "whole day"? Can He be said to have hung upon the Cross during the whole day, as the night is considered a part of the day? But if day, as opposed to night, was meant by this expression, even of this day, the first and no small portion had passed by at the time of His crucifixion. But if we take "day" in the same sense of time (especially as the word is used in the feminine, a gender which is restricted to that sense in Latin, although not so in Greek, as it is always used in the feminine, which I suppose to be the reason for its translation in the same gender in our own version), the knot of the question will be drawn tighter: for how can it mean for the whole space of time, if He did not even for one day stretch forth His hands on the Cross? Further, should we take the whole for a part, as Scripture sometimes uses this expression, I do not remember an instance in which the whole is taken for a part, when the word "whole" is expressly added. For in the passage of the Gospel where the Lord saith, "The Son of Man shall be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth," [4106] it is no extraordinary licence to take the whole for the part, the expression not being for three "whole" days and three whole nights: since the one intermediate day was a whole one, the other two were parts, the last being part of the first day, the first part of the last. But if the Cross is not meant here, but the prayer, which we find in the Gospel that He poured forth in the form of a servant to God the Father, where He is said to have prayed long before His Passion, and on the eve of His Passion, and also when on the Cross, we do not read anywhere that He did so throughout the whole day. Therefore by the stretched-out hands throughout the whole day, we may understand the continuation of good works in which He never ceased from exertion.

9. But as His good works profited only the predestined to eternal salvation, and not all men, nor even all those among whom they were done, he adds, "Dost thou show wonders among the dead?" (ver. 10). If we suppose this relates to those whose flesh life has left, great wonders have been wrought among the dead, inasmuch as some of them have revived: [4107] and in our Lord's descent into Hell, and His ascent as the conqueror of death, a great wonder was wrought among the dead. He refers then in these words, "Dost Thou show wonders among the dead?" to men so dead in heart, that such great works of Christ could not rouse them to the life of faith: for he does not say that wonders are not shown to them because they see them not, but because they do not profit them. For, as he says in this passage, "the whole day have I stretched forth My hands to Thee:" because He ever refers all His works to the will of His Father, constantly declaring that He came to fulfil His Father's will: [4108] so also, as an unbelieving people saw the same works, another Prophet saith, "I have spread out my hands all day unto a rebellious people, that believes not, but contradicts." [4109] Those then are dead, to whom wonders have not been shown, not because they saw them not, but since they lived not again through them. The following verse, "Shall physicians revive them, and shall they praise Thee?" means, that the dead shall not be revived by such means, that they may praise Thee. In the Hebrew there is said to be a different expression: giants being used where physicians are here: but the Septuagint translators, whose authority is such that they may deservedly be said to have interpreted by the inspiration of the Spirit of God owing to their wonderful agreement, conclude, not by mistake, but taking occasion from the resemblance in sound between the Hebrew words expressing these two senses, that the use of the word is an indication of the sense in which the word giants is meant to be taken. For if you suppose the proud meant by giants, of whom the Apostle saith, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?" [4110] there is no incongruity in calling them physicians, as if by their own unaided skill they promised the salvation of souls: against whom it is said, "Of the Lord is safety." [4111] But if we take the word giant in a good sense, as it is said of our Lord, "He rejoiceth as a giant to run his course;" [4112] that is Giant of giants, chief among the greatest and strongest, who in His Church excel in spiritual strength. Just as He is the Mountain of mountains; as it is written, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord's house shall be manifested in the top of the mountains:" [4113] and the Saint of saints: there is no absurdity in styling these same great and mighty men physicians. Whence saith the Apostle, "if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them." [4114] But even such physicians, even though they cure not by their own power (as not even of their own do those of the body), yet so far forth as by faithful ministry they assist towards salvation, can cure the living, but not raise the dead: of whom it is said, "Dost Thou show wonders among the dead?" For the grace of God, by which men's minds in a certain manner are brought to live a fresh life, so as to be able to hear the lessons of salvation from any of its ministers whatever, is most hidden and mysterious. This grace is thus spoken of in the Gospel. "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him;" [4115] ...in order to show, that the very faith by which the soul believes, and springs into fresh life from the death of its former affections, is given us by God. Whatever exertions, then, the best preachers of the word, [4116] and persuaders of the truth through miracles, may make with men, just like great physicians: yet if they are dead, and through Thy grace have not a second life, "Dost Thou show wonders among the dead, or shall physicians raise them? and shall they" whom they raise "praise Thee"? For this confession declares that they live: not, as it is written elsewhere, "Thanksgiving perisheth from the dead, as from one that is not." [4117]

10. "Shall one show Thy loving-kindness in the grave, or Thy faithfulness in destruction?" (ver. 11). The word "show" is of course understood as if repeated, Shall any show Thy faithfulness in destruction? Scripture loves to connect loving-kindness and faithfulness, especially in the Psalms. "Destruction" also is a repetition of "the grave," and signifies them who are in the grave, styled above "the dead," in the verse, "Dost thou show wonders among the dead?" for the body is the grave of the dead soul; whence our Lord's words in the Gospel, "Ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but within are full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity." [4118]

11. "Shall thy wondrous works be known in the dark, and thy righteousness in the land where all things are forgotten?" (ver. 12), the dark answers to the land of forgetfulness: for the unbelieving are meant by the dark, as the Apostle saith, "For ye were sometimes darkness;" [4119] and the land where all things are forgotten, is the man who has forgotten God; for the unbelieving soul can arrive at darkness so intense, "that the fool saith in his heart, There is no God." [4120] Thus the meaning of the whole passage may thus be drawn out in its connection: "Lord, I have called upon Thee," amid My sufferings; "all day I have stretched forth my hands unto Thee" (ver. 13). I have never ceased to stretch forth My works to glorify Thee. Why then do the wicked rage against Me, unless because "Thou showest not wonders among the dead"? because those wonders move them not to faith, nor can physicians restore them to life that they may praise Thee, because Thy hidden grace works not in them to draw them unto believing: because no man cometh unto Me, but whom Thou hast drawn. Shall then "Thy loving-kindness be showed in the grave"? that is, the grave of the dead soul, which lies dead beneath the body's weight: "or Thy faithfulness in destruction"? that is, in such a death as cannot believe or feel any of these things. "For how then in the darkness" of this death, that is, in the man who in forgetting Thee has lost the light of his life, "shall Thy wondrous works and Thy righteousness be known."...

12. But that those prayers, the blessings of which surpass all words, may be more fervent and more constant, the gift that shall last unto eternity is deferred, while transitory evils are allowed to thicken. And so it follows: "Lord, why hast Thou cast off my prayer?" (ver. 14), which may be compared with another Psalm: [4121] "My God, My God, look upon me; why hast Thou forsaken me?" The reason is made matter of question, not as if the wisdom of God were blamed as doing so without a cause; and so here. "Lord, why hast Thou cast off my prayer?" But if this cause be attended to carefully, it will be found indicated above; for it is with the view that the prayers of the Saints are, as it were, repelled by the delay of so great a blessing, and by the adversity they encounter in the troubles of life, that the flame, thus fanned, may burst into a brighter blaze.

13. For this purpose he briefly sketches in what follows the troubles of Christ's body. For it is not in the Head alone that they took place, since it is said to Saul too, "Why persecutest thou Me?" [4122] and Paul himself, as if placed as an elect member in the same body, saith, "That I may fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh." [4123] "Why then, Lord, hast Thou cast off my soul? why hidest Thou Thy face from me?"

"I am poor, and in toils from my youth up: and when lifted up, I was thrown down, and troubled" (ver. 15).

"Thy wraths went over me: Thy terrors disturbed me" (ver. 16).

"They came round about me all day like water: they compassed me about together" (ver. 17).

"A friend Thou hast put far from me: and mine acquaintance from my misery" (ver. 18). All these evils have taken place, and are happening in the limbs of Christ's body, and God turns away His face from their prayers, by not hearing as to what they wish for, since they know not that the fulfilment of their wishes would not be good for them. The Church is "poor," as she hungers and thirsts in her wanderings for that food with which she shall be filled in her own country: she is "in toils from her youth up," as the very Body of Christ saith in another Psalm, "Many a time have they overcome me from my youth." [4124] And for this reason some of her members are lifted up even in this world, that in them may be the greater lowliness. Over that Body, which constitutes the unity of the Saints and the faithful, whose Head is Christ, go the wraths of God: yet abide not: since it is of the unbelieving only that it is written, that "the wrath of God abideth upon him." [4125] The terrors of God disturb the weakness of the faithful, because all that can happen, even though it actually happen not, it is prudent to fear; and sometimes these terrors so agitate the reflecting soul with the evils impending around, that they seem to flow around us on every side like water, and to encircle us in our fears. And as the Church while on pilgrimage is never free from these evils, happening as they do at one moment in one of her limbs, at another in another, he adds, "all day," signifying the continuation in time, to the end of this world. Often too, friends and acquaintances, their worldly interests at stake, in their terror forsake the Saints; of which saith the Apostle, "all men forsook me: may it not be laid to their charge." [4126] But to what purpose is all this, but that early in the morning, that is, after the night of unbelief, the prayers of this holy Body may in the light of faith prevent God, until the coming of that salvation, which we are at present saved by hoping for, not by having, while we await it with patience and faithfulness. Then the Lord will not repel our prayers, as there will no longer be anything to be sought for, but everything that has been rightly asked, will be obtained: nor will He turn His face away from us, since we shall see Him as He is: [4127] nor shall we be poor, because God will be our abundance, all in all: [4128] nor shall we suffer, as there will be no more weakness: nor after exaltation shall we meet with humiliation and confusion, as there will be no adversity there: nor bear even the transient wrath of God, as we shall abide in His abiding love: nor will His terrors agitate us, because His promises realized will bless us: nor will our friend and acquaintance, being terrified, be far from us, where there will be no foe to dread.


[4070] Lat. LXXXVII. Dictated after the exposition of Ps. xlii. (see § 14), and perhaps after that of Ps. lxviii. [4071] On Ps. xlvii. p. 160; also xlvi. p. 155, note 8. [4072] [The author here adds: "What other meaning then can we attach to the words, `for the chorus to respond,' but this, that the choir is to make responses with the singer? And thus we must suppose that not this only, but other Psalms were chanted, though they have received different titles, probably for the sake of variety to relieve weariness: for this Psalm was not the only one held worthy of choral responses, since it is not the only one which relates to our Lord's Passion. If indeed there is any other reason for so great a variety in the titles, by which it can be shown that all the Psalms which are distinguished in their titles are so marked, as that the title of no one of them can be fitted to another, I must confess that I could not discover it, though I tried long; and whatever I have read on the subject in the works of my predecessors has not satisfied my hopes, or, perhaps, my slowness of apprehension. I will therefore explain in allusion to what mystery the words, `for the choir to respond,' that is, that the singer should be answered by a choir, seem to me to be used."--C.] [4073] 1 Pet. ii. 21. [4074] 1 John iii. 16. [4075] 1 Cor. xiii. 3. [4076] Matt. xxvii. 33. [4077] Israelitæ, vulg. Ezrahitæ. See also the title of the next Psalm. Ben. conjectures it may be for Zaraite, as Ethan and Heman are called sons of Zara, 1 Chron. ii. 6, and in 1 Kings iv. 31, where Solomon is said to be "wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite and Heman." LXX. has Zarite. [4078] John i. 47. [4079] Gen. xxv. 27. [4080] The words, "O let my prayer enter into Thy presence," being equivalent to, "Incline Thine ear unto my calling." [4081] Isa. liii. 4. [4082] Matt. xxvi. 37, 38. [4083] Rom. ix. 2, 4. [4084] Luke xxiii. 34. [4085] Rom. viii. 3. [4086] John viii. 29. [4087] Matt. xxvii. 50, 60. [4088] Ps. cii. 7. [4089] Rom. vi. 9. [4090] Ps. lvii. 7. [4091] Wisd. iii. 1. [4092] Ps. xci. 1. [Noteworthy as the author's view of the state of the faithful departed.--C.] [4093] Ps. xl. 3. [4094] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [4095] Isa. ix. 2. [4096] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [4097] Gal. iii. 13. [4098] Phil. ii. 8. [4099] Ps. xlii. 7. [4100] Matt. vii. 23. [4101] Matt. xxvi. 56. [4102] 1 Cor. xii. 17-21. [4103] 1 Cor. xii. 27. [4104] Matt. xvi. 16. [4105] In suis interioribus. [4106] Matt. xii. 40. [4107] Matt. xxvii. 52. [4108] John vi. 38. [4109] Isa. lxv. 2. [4110] 1 Cor. i. 20. [4111] Ps. iv. 8. [4112] Ps. xix. 5. [4113] Isa. ii. 2. [4114] Rom. xi. 14. [4115] John vi. 44. [4116] Ben. refers to P. Lombard, 4 Sent. Dist. 18, Hîc quæritur. [4117] Ecclus. xvii. 26. [4118] Matt. xxiii. 27, 28. [4119] Eph. v. 8. [4120] Ps. xiv. 1. [4121] Ps. xxii. 1. [4122] Acts ix. 4. [4123] Col. i. 24. [4124] Ps. cxxix. 1. [4125] John iii. 36. [4126] 2 Tim. iv. 16. [4127] 1 John iii. 2. [4128] 1 Cor. xv. 28. .

Psalm LXXXIX. [4129]

1. Understand, beloved, this Psalm, which I am about to explain, by the grace of God, of our hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and be of good cheer, because He who promised, will fulfil all, as He has fulfilled much: for it is not our own merit, but His mercy, that gives us confidence in Him. He Himself is meant, in my belief, by "the understanding of Æthan the Israelite:" [4130] which has given this Psalm its title. You see then, who is meant by Æthan: but the meaning of the word is "strong." No man in this world is strong, except in the hope of God's promises: for as to our own deservings, we are weak, in His mercy we are strong. Weak then in himself, strong in God's mercy, the Psalmist thus begins: "I will sing of Thy mercies, O Lord, for ever: with my mouth will I make known Thy truth unto all generations" (ver. 1).

2. Let my limbs, he saith, serve the Lord: I speak, but it is of Thine I speak. "With my mouth will I make known Thy truth:" if I obey not Thee, I am not Thy servant: if I speak on my own part, I am a liar. To speak then from Thee, [4131] and in my own person, are two things: one mine, one Thine: Truth Thine, language mine. Let us hear then what faithfulness he maketh known, what mercies he singeth.

3. "For Thou hast said, Mercy shall be built up for ever" (ver. 2). It is this that I sing: this is Thy truth, for the making known of which my mouth serveth. In such wise Thou sayest, I build, as not to destroy: for some Thou destroyest and buildest not; and some whom Thou destroyest Thou dost rebuild. For unless there were some who were destroyed to be rebuilt, Jeremiah would not have written, "See, I have this day set thee to throw down and to build." [4132] And indeed all who formerly worshipped images and stones could not be built up in Christ, without being destroyed as to their old error. While, unless some were destroyed not to be built up, it would not be written, "He shall destroy them, and not build them up." [4133] ... In what follows, he joins these two words, mercy and faithfulness; "For Thou hast said, Mercy shall be built up for ever: Thy truth shall be established in the Heavens:" in which mercy and truth are repeated, "for all the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth," [4134] for truth in the fulfilment of promises could not be shown, unless mercy in the remission of sins preceded. Next, as many things were promised in prophecy even to the people of Israel that came according to the flesh from the seed of Abraham, and that people was increased that the promises of God might be fulfilled in it; while yet God did not close the fountain of His goodness even to the Gentiles, whom He had placed under the rule of the Angels, while He reserved the people of Israel as His own portion: the Apostle expressly mentions the Lord's mercy and truth as referring to these two parties. For he calls Christ "a minister of the Circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." [4135] See how God deceived not; see how He cast not off His people, whom He foreknew. For while the Apostle is treating of the fall of the Jews, to prevent any from believing them so far disowned [4136] of God, that no wheat from that floor's fanning could reach the granary, he saith, "God hath not cast away His people, whom He foreknew; for I also am an Israelite." [4137] If all that nation are thorns, how am I who speak unto you wheat? So that the truth of God was fulfilled in those Israelites who believed, and one wall from the circumcision is thus brought to meet the corner stone. But this stone would not form a corner, unless it received another wall from the Gentiles: so that the former wall relates in a special manner to the truth, the latter to the mercy of God. "Now I say," says the Apostle, "that Jesus Christ was a minister of the Circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promise made unto the fathers: and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy." [4138] Justly then is it added, "Thy truth shalt Thou stablish in the Heavens:" for all those Israelites who were called to be Apostles became as Heavens which declare the glory of God: as it is written by them, "The Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handywork." [4139] ...Since, although they were taken up from hence before the Church filled the whole world, yet as "their words reached to the ends of the world," we are right in supposing this which we have just read, "Thy truth shalt Thou stablish in the Heavens," fulfilled in them.

4. "Thou hast said, I have made a covenant with My chosen" (ver. 3). What covenant, but the new, by which we are renewed to a fresh inheritance, in our longing desire and love of which we sing a new song. "I have made a covenant with My chosen," saith the Psalmist: "I have sworn unto David My servant." How confidently does he speak, who understands, whose mouth serves truth! I speak without fear; since "Thou hast said." If Thou makest me fearless, because Thou hast said, how much more so dost Thou make me, when Thou hast sworn! For the oath of God is the assurance of a promise. Man is justly forbidden to swear: [4140] lest by the habit of swearing, since a man may be deceived, he fall into perjury. God alone swears securely, because He alone is infallible.

5. Let us see then what God hath sworn. "I have sworn," He saith, "to David My servant; thy seed will I establish for ever" (ver. 4). But what is the seed of David, but that of Abraham. And what is the seed of Abraham? "And to thy seed," He saith, "which is Christ." [4141] But perhaps that Christ, the Head of the Church, the Saviour of the body, [4142] is the seed of Abraham, and therefore of David; but we are not Abraham's seed? We are assuredly; as the Apostle saith, "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." [4143] In this sense, then, let us take the words, brethren, "Thy seed will I stablish for ever," not only of that Flesh of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, but also of all of us who believe in Christ, for we are limbs of that Head. This body cannot be deprived of its Head: if the Head is in glory for ever, so are the limbs, so that Christ remains entire for ever. "Thy seed will I stablish for ever: and set up thy throne to generation and generation." We suppose he saith, "for ever," because it is "to generation and generation:" since he has said above, with "my mouth will I ever be showing Thy truth to generation and generation." What is "to generation and generation"? To every generation: for the word needed not as many repetitions, as the coming and passing away of the several generations. The multiplication of generations is signified and set forth to notice by the repetition. Are possibly two generations to be understood, as ye are aware, my beloved brethren, and as I have before explained? for there is now a generation of flesh and blood: there will be a future generation in the resurrection of the dead. Christ is proclaimed here: He will be proclaimed [4144] there: here He is proclaimed, that He may be believed in: there, He will be welcomed, that He may be seen. "I will set up Thy throne from one generation to another." Christ hath now a throne in us, His throne is set up in us: for unless he sat enthroned within us, He would not rule us: but if we were not ruled by Him, we should be thrown down by ourselves. He therefore sits within us, reigning over us: He sits also in another generation, which will come from the resurrection of the dead. Christ will reign for ever over His Saints. God has promised this; He hath said it: if this is not enough, God hath sworn it. As then the promise is certain, not on account of our deservings, but of His pity, no one ought to be afraid in proclaiming that which he cannot doubt of. Let that strength then inspire our hearts, whence Æthan received his name, "strong in heart:" let us preach the truth of God, the utterance of God, His promises, His oath; and let us, strengthened on every side by these means, glorify God, and by bearing Him along with us, become Heavens.

6. "O Lord, the very Heavens shall praise Thy wondrous works" (ver. 5). The Heavens will not praise their own merits, but Thy wondrous works, O Lord. For in every act of mercy on the lost, of justification of the unrighteous, what do we praise but the wondrous works of God? Thou praisest Him, because the dead have risen: praise Him yet more, because the lost are redeemed. What grace, what mercy of God! Thou seest a man yesterday a whirlpool of drunkenness, to-day an ornament of sobriety: a man yesterday the sink of luxury, to-day the beauty of temperance: yesterday a blasphemer of God, to-day His praiser: yesterday the slave of the creature, to-day the worshipper of the Creator. From all these desperate states men are thus converted: let them not look at their own merits: let them become Heavens, and praise the wondrous works of Him by whom they were made Heavens....

7. "For who is he among the clouds, who shall be compared unto Thee, Lord!" (ver. 6). Is this to be the praise of the Heavens, is this to be their rain? What? are the preachers confident, because "none among the clouds shall be compared unto the Lord"? Does it appear to you, brethren, a high ground of praise, that the clouds cannot be compared with their Creator? If it is taken in its literal, not in its mystical meaning, it is not so: what? are the stars that are above the clouds to be compared with the Lord? what? can the Sun, Moon, Angels, Heavens, be even compared with the Lord? Why is it then that he says, as if he meant some high praise, "For who is he among the clouds?" etc. We understand, my brethren, those clouds, as the Heavens, to be the preachers of truth; Prophets, Apostles, the announcers of the word of God....If therefore the clouds are the preachers of the truth, let us first enquire why they are clouds. For the same men are Heavens and clouds: Heavens from the brightness of the truth, clouds from the hidden things of the flesh: for all clouds are obscure, owing to their mortality: and they come and go. It is on account of these very obscurities of the flesh, that is, of the clouds, that the Apostle saith, "Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who will bring to light the hidden things of darkness." [4145] You see at this moment what a man is saying: but what he has in his heart, you cannot see: what is forced from the cloud, you see, what is kept within the cloud, you see not. For whose eyes pierce the cloud? The clouds therefore are the preachers of the truth in the flesh. The Creator of all things Himself came in the flesh....We are called clouds on account of the flesh, and we are preachers of the truth on account of the showers of the clouds: but our flesh comes in one way, His by another. We too are called sons of God, but He is the Son of God in another sense. His cloud comes from a Virgin, He is the Son from eternity, co-eternal [4146] with the Father. "Who is he then among the clouds, that shall be compared unto the Lord? and what is he among the sons of God, that shall be like unto the Lord?" Let the Lord Himself say whether He can find one like unto Himself. "Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?" Because I appear, because I am seen, because I walk among you, and perhaps at present I am become common; say, whom do men say that I the Son of Man am? Surely when they see a son of man, they see a cloud; but say, "Whom do men say that I am?" In answer they gave Him the reports of men; "Some say that Thou art John the Baptist: some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets." Many clouds and sons of God are here mentioned: for because they were righteous and holy, as the sons of God, Jeremias, Elias, and John are called also sons of God: in their character of preachers of God, they are styled clouds. Ye have said what clouds men imagine Me to be: do ye too say, "Whom say ye that I am?" Peter replying in behalf of all, one for those who were one, [4147] answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" [4148] not like those sons of God who are not made equal to Thee: Thou hast come in the flesh: but not as the clouds, who are not to be compared unto Thee.

8. ..."God is very greatly to be feared in the counsel of the righteous, and to be had in dread of all them that are round about Him" (ver. 7). God is everywhere; who therefore are round about Him, who is everywhere? For if He has some round about Him, He is represented as finite on every side. Moreover, if it is truly said to God [4149] and of God, "of His greatness there is no end;" [4150] who remain, who are round about Him, except because He who is everywhere, chose to be born of the flesh on one spot, to dwell among one nation, in one place to be crucified, from one spot to rise again and ascend into Heaven. Where He did this, the Gentiles are round about Him. If He remained where He did these things, He would not be "great, and be had in dread of all them that are round about Him;" but since He preached when there in such a manner as to send preachers of His own name through all nations over the whole world; by working miracles among His servants, He is become "great, and to be had in dread of all them that are round about Him."

9. "O Lord God of Hosts, who is like unto Thee? Thy truth, most mighty Lord, is on every side" (ver. 8). Great is Thy power: Thou hast made Heaven and earth, and all things that in them are: but greater still is thy loving-kindness, which has shown forth Thy truth to all around Thee. For if Thou hadst been preached only on the spot where Thou didst deign to be born, to suffer, to rise again, to ascend; the truth of that promise of God would have been fulfilled, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: but the promise, "that the Gentiles may glorify God for His mercy," [4151] would not have been fulfilled, had not that truth been explained, and diffused to those around Thee from the spot where Thou didst deign to appear. On that spot Thou didst thunder out of Thy own cloud: but to scatter rain upon the Gentiles round about, Thou hast sent other clouds. Truly in Thy power hast Thou fulfilled what Thou hast said, "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven." [4152]

10. ...For ye have heard, like men accustomed to the watering of the clouds of God, "Thy truth" then "is in the circuit of Thee." But when without persecutions, when without opposition, since it is said, that "He was born for a sign which shall be spoken against"? [4153] Since then that nation, where Thou didst deign to be born, and to dwell, was as a land separated from the waves of the heathen, so that it appeared dry and ready for watering with rain, while the rest of the nations were as a sea in the bitterness of their sterility; what do Thy preachers who scatter Thy truth in circuit of Thee, when the waves of that sea rage furiously? "Thou rulest the power of the sea" (ver. 9). For what was the result of the sea raging thus, but the day which we are now keeping holy? It slew Martyrs, scattered seeds of blood, the harvest of the Church sprang up. Safely then let the clouds go forth: let them diffuse Thy truth in circuit of Thee, let them not fear the savage waves. "Thou rulest the power of the sea." The sea swells, buffets, and roars: but "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted beyond what ye are able:" [4154] and so, "Thou stillest the waves thereof when they rise."

11. Lastly, what hast Thou done in the sea itself, to pacify its rage, and to weaken it? "Thou hast humbled the proud [4155] as one that is wounded" (ver. 10). There is a certain proud serpent in the sea, of which another passage of Scripture speaks, "I will command the serpent, and he shall bite him;" [4156] and again, "There is that Leviathan, whom Thou hast made to mock him," [4157] whose head He bruises above the water. "Thou," he says, "hast humbled the proud, as one that is wounded." Thou hast humbled Thyself, and the proud was humbled: for the proud held the proud ones through pride: but the great One is humbled, and by believing in Him become small. While the little one is nourished by the example of One who from greatness descended to humility, the devil has lost what he held: because the proud held only the proud. When such an example of humility was displayed before them, men learned to condemn their own pride, and to imitate the humility of God. Thus also the devil, by losing those whom he had in his power, has even himself been humbled; not chastened, but thrown prostrate. "Thou hast humbled the proud like one that is wounded." Thou hast been humbled, and hast humbled others: Thou hast been wounded, and hast wounded others: for Thy blood, as it was shed to blot the handwriting of sins, [4158] could not but wound him. For what was the ground of his pride, except the bond which he held against us. This bond, this handwriting, Thou hast blotted out with Thy blood: him therefore hast Thou wounded, from whom Thou hast rescued so many victims. You must understand the devil wounded, not by the piercing of the flesh, which he has not, but by the bruising of his proud heart. "Thou hast scattered Thine enemies abroad with Thy mighty arm."

12. "The heavens are thine, the earth also is Thine" (ver. 11). From Thee, over Thy earth they rain. Thine are the heavens, by whom is preached Thy truth in circuit of Thee; "Thine is the earth," which has received Thy truth in circuit of Thee; and what has resulted from that rain? "Thou hast laid the foundation of the round world, and all that therein is." "Thou hast created the north and the seas" (ver. 12). For nothing has any power against Thee, against its Creator. The world indeed may rage through its own malice, and the perversity of its will; does it nevertheless pass over the bound laid down by the Creator, who made all things? Why then do I fear the north wind? Why do I fear the seas? In the north indeed is the devil, who said, "I will sit in the sides of the north; I will be like the Most High;" [4159] but Thou hast humbled, as one wounded, the proud one. Thus what Thou hast done in them has more force for Thy dominion, than their own will has for their wickedness. "Thou hast created the north and the seas."

13. "Thabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name." Those mountains are here understood, but they have a meaning. "Thabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name." Thabor, when interpreted, signifies an approaching light. But whence comes the light of which it is said, "Ye are the light of the world," [4160] unless from Him concerning whom it is written, "That was the true light, which lighteth every man coming into the world"? [4161] The light then which is the light of the world comes from that light which is not kindled from any other source, so that there is no fear lest it be extinguished. The light then comes from Him, who is that candle which is not set beneath the bushel, but on a candlestick, Thabor the coming light. Hermon means his curse. Justly the light comes and is made the curse of him. Of whom but the devil, the wounded one, the proud one? Our illumination then is given from Thee; that he is held accursed of us, who kept us in his own error and pride, is from Thee. "Thabor and Hermon, therefore, shall rejoice," not in their own merits, "but in Thy name." For they shall say, "Not unto us, Lord, not unto us, but to Thy name give the praise," on account of the raging sea: lest "the heathen say, Where is now their God?" [4162]

14. "Thou hast a mighty arm" (ver. 13). Let no man arrogate anything to himself. "Thou hast a mighty arm:" by Thee we were created, by Thee we have been defended. "Thou hast a mighty arm: strong be Thy hand, and high be Thy right hand."

15. "Righteousness and judgment are the preparation of Thy seat" (ver. 14). Thy righteousness and judgment will appear in the end: they are now hidden. Of Thy righteousness it is treated in another Psalm, [4163] "on the hidden things of the Son." There will then be a manifestation of Thy righteousness and judgment: some will be set on the right, others on the left hand: [4164] and the unbelieving will tremble, when they see what now they mock at, and believe not: the righteous will rejoice, when they shall see what they now see not, yet believe. "Righteousness and judgment are the preparation of Thy seat:" especially in the Day of Judgment. What then now? "mercy and truth go before Thy face." I should fear the preparation of Thy seat, Thy justice, and Thy coming judgment, did not mercy and truth go before Thee: why should I at the end fear Thy righteousness, when with Thy mercy going before Thee Thou blottest out my sins, and by showing forth Thy truth fulfillest Thy promises? "Mercy and truth go before Thy face." For "all the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth." [4165]

16. In all these things shall we not rejoice? or shall we contain our joy? or shall words suffice for our gladness? or shall the tongue be able to express our rejoicing? If therefore no words suffice, "Blessed is the people, O Lord, that knoweth glad shouting" (ver. 15). O blessed people! dost thou conceive aright, dost thou understand, glad shouting? For except thou understand glad shouting, thou canst not be blessed. What do I mean by understanding glad shouting? Whether thou knowest the source of that rejoicing which is beyond words to express. For this joy is not of thyself, since "he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord." [4166] Rejoice not then in thy own pride, but in God's grace. See that that grace is such, that the tongue fails to express its greatness, and then thou understandest glad shouting....O Lord, "they shall walk in the light of Thy countenance." "They shall rejoice in Thy name all the day" (ver. 16). That Thabor and Hermon shall rejoice in Thy name: all day shall they rejoice, if they will, in Thy name; but if they will rejoice in their own name, they shall not rejoice all day: for they shall not continue in their joy, when they shall delight in themselves, and fall through pride. That they may rejoice all day, therefore, "they shall rejoice in Thy name, and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted." Not in their own, but in Thine: lest they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For some are noted by the Apostle, that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, "being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own," and not rejoicing in Thy light, and thus "not submitting themselves unto the righteousness of God." [4167] And why? because "they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge." But the people who knoweth glad shouting (for the former err from want of knowledge, but blessed is the people not that knoweth not, but that knoweth glad shouting), whence ought it to shout, whence to rejoice, but in Thy name, walking in the light of Thy countenance? And it shall deserve to be exalted, but in Thy righteousness: let every man take away altogether his own righteousness, and be trembled: the righteousness of God shall come, and he shall be exalted, "and in Thy righteousness shall they be exalted."

17. "For Thou art the glory of their strength: and in Thy good pleasure Thou shalt lift up our horns" (ver. 17): because it has seemed good to Thee, not because we are worthy.

18. "For of the Lord is our taking up" (ver. 18). For I was moved like a heap of sand, that I might fall; and I should have fallen, had not the Lord taken me up. "For of the Lord is (our [4168] ) taking up: and of the Holy One of Israel our King." Himself is thy taking up, Himself thy illumination: in His light thou art safe, in His light thou walkest, in His righteousness thou art exalted. He took thee up, He guards thy weakness: He gives thee strength of Himself, not of thyself.

19. "Thou spakest sometime in vision unto Thy sons, and saidst" (ver. 19). Thou spakest in thy vision. Thou didst reveal this to Thy Prophets. For this reason Thou spakest in vision, that is, in revelation: whence Prophets were called seers. They saw something within, which they were to speak without: and secretly they heard what they preached openly. [4169] Then "Thou spakest in vision unto Thy sons, and saidst, I have laid help upon One that is mighty." Ye understand Who is meant by mighty? "I have exalted One chosen out of the people." And Who is meant by chosen? One who, ye rejoice, is already exalted.

20. "I have found David My servant:" that David from David's seed: "with My holy oil have I anointed Him" (ver. 20): for it is said of Him, "God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows." [4170]

21. "My hand shall hold Him fast, and My arm shall strengthen Him" (ver. 21): because there was a taking up of man; because flesh was assumed in the Virgin's womb, [4171] because by Him who in the form of God is coequal with the Father, the form of a servant was taken, and He became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. [4172]

22. "The enemy shall not be able to do him violence" (ver. 22). The enemy rages indeed but he shall not be able to do Him violence: he is wont to hurt, but he shall not hurt. How then shall he afflict Him? he will exercise Him, but he shall not hurt Him. There shall be profit in his raging; for those against whom he rages shall be crowned in their conquering. For how is he conquered, if he rages not against us? or where is God our helper, if we fight not? The enemy therefore shall do what is in his power; but "he shall not be able to do Him violence: the son of wickedness shall not come nigh to hurt Him."

23. "I will cut in pieces His enemies before His face" (ver. 23). They are cut in pieces from their conspiracy, and in that they believe they are cut in pieces; for they believe by degrees; as when the calf's head was ground small, they will come to be the drink of God's people. For Moses ground down the calf's head, and sprinkled it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink it. [4173] All the unbelieving are ground: they believe by degrees; and they are drunk by the people of God, and pass into Christ's body. "I will cut in pieces His foes before His face: and put to flight them that hate Him."

24. "My truth also and My mercy is with Him" (ver. 24). All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth. Remember, as much as ye can, how often these two attributes are urged upon us, that we render them back to God. For as He showed us mercy that He might blot out our sins, and truth in fulfilling His promises; so also we, walking in His path, ought to give back to Him mercy and truth; mercy, in pitying the wretched; truth, in not judging unjustly. Let not truth rob you of mercy, nor mercy hinder truth: for if through mercy you shall have judged contrary to truth, or by rigorous truth shall have forgotten mercy, you will not be walking in the path of God, where "mercy and truth meet together." [4174] "And in My name shall His horn be exalted." Why should I say more? Ye are Christians, recognise Christ.

25. "I will set His hand also in the sea" (ver. 25): that is, He shall rule over the Gentiles; "and His right hand in the floods." Rivers run into the sea: avaricious men roll onwards into the bitterness of this world: yet all these kinds of men will be subject to Christ.

26. "He shall call me, Thou art My Father, and the lifter up of My salvation" (ver. 26).

"And I will make Him my first-born; higher than the kings of the earth" (ver. 27). Our Martyrs, whose birthdays we are celebrating, shed their blood on account of these things, which were believed though not yet seen; how much more brave ought we to be, as we see what they believed? For they had not yet seen Christ raised on high among the kings of the earth: as yet princes were taking counsel together against the Lord and His Anointed: what follows in the same Psalm was not then fulfilled, "Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be learned, ye that are judges of the earth." [4175] Now indeed Christ has been exalted among the kings of the earth.

27. "My mercy will I keep for Him for ever: and my Testament faithful with Him" (ver. 28). On His account, the Testament is faithful: in Him the Testament is mediated: He is the Sealer, the Mediator of the Testament, the Surety of the Testament, the Witness of the Testament, the Heritage of the Testament, the Coheir of the Testament.

28. "His seed will I make to endure world without end" (ver. 29). Not only for this world, but unto the world without end: [4176] whither His seed, which is His heritage, the seed of Abraham, which is Christ, will pass. [4177] But if ye are Christ's, ye are also Abraham's seed: and if ye are destined His heirs for ever, "He will establish His seed unto world without end: and His throne as the days of Heaven." The thrones of earthly kings are as the days of the earth: different are the days of Heaven from those of earth. The days of Heaven are those years of which it is said, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail." [4178] The days of the earth are soon overtaken by their successors: those which precede are shut out from us: nor do those which succeed remain: but they come that they may go, and are almost gone before they are come. Such are the days of earth. But the days of Heaven, which are also the "One day" of Heaven, [4179] and the never failing years, have neither beginning nor end: nor is any day there narrowed between yesterday and to-morrow: no one there expects the future, nor loses the past: but the days of Heaven are always present, where His throne shall be for ever and ever. [4180] ...

29. This is a strong pledge of the promise of God. The sons of this David are the children of the Bridegroom; all Christians therefore are called His sons. But it is much indeed that God promises, that if Christians, that is, "If his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments" (ver. 30); "if they profane My statutes, and keep not My commandments" (ver. 31); I will not spurn them, nor will I send them away from Me in perdition: but what will I do? "I will visit their offences with the rod, and their sin with scourges" (ver. 32). It is not the mercy of one that calls them only; but also that chastises and scourges them. Let therefore thy Father's hand be upon thee, and if thou art a good son, repel not chastening; for "what son is there, to whom his father giveth not chastening?" [4181] Let Him chasten him, so long as He takes not from him His mercy: let Him beat him when obstinate, as long as He does not disinherit him. If thou hast well understood the promises of thy Father, fear not to be scourged, but to be disinherited: "for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth: and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth." [4182] Does the sinful son spurn chastening, when he sees the only Son without sin scourged? "I will visit their offences with the rod." Thus too the Apostle threatens: "What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod?" [4183] Let not pious sons say, if Thou art coming with a rod, come not at all. For it is better to be taught with the Father's rod, than to perish in the caresses of the robber.

30. "Nevertheless, My mercy will I not utterly take from Him" (ver. 33). From whom? From that David to whom I gave these promises, whom "I anointed with my holy oil of gladness above His fellows." [4184] Do you recognise Him from whom God will not utterly take away His mercy? That no one may anxiously say, since He speaks of Christ as Him from whom He will not take away His mercy, What then will become of the sinner? Did He say anything like this, "I will not take My loving-kindness utterly from them"? "I will visit," He saith, "their offences with the rod, and their sin with scourges." Thou didst expect for thy own security, "I will not utterly take my loving-kindness from" them. And indeed this is the reading of some books, but not of the most accurate: though, where they have it, it is a reading by no means inconsistent with the real meaning. For how can it be said that He will not utterly take His mercy from Christ? Has the Saviour of the body committed aught of sin either in Heaven or in earth, "who sitteth even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us"? [4185] Yet it is from Christ: but from His members, His body which is the Church. For in this sense He speaks of it as a great thing that He will not take away His mercies from Him, supposing us not to recognise the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father; [4186] for there the Man is not counted for His Person, but the One Person is God and Man. He therefore does not utterly take His mercies from Him, when He takes not His mercy from His body, His members, [4187] in which, even while He was enthroned in Heaven, He was still suffering persecutions on earth; and when He cried from Heaven, "Saul, Saul," not why persecutest thou My servants, nor why persecutest thou My saints, nor My disciples, but, "why persecutest thou Me?" [4188] As then, while no one persecuted Him when sitting in Heaven, He cried out, "Why persecutest thou Me?" when the Head recognised its limbs, and His love allowed not the Head to separate Himself from the union of the body: so, when He taketh not away His mercies from Him, it is surely that He taketh it not from us, who are His limbs and body. Yet ought we not on that account to sin not without apprehension, and perversely to assure ourselves that we shall not perish, be our actions what they may. For there are certain sins and certain offences, to define and discourse of which it is either impossible for me, or if it were possible, it would be too tedious for the time we have at present. For no man can say that he is without sin; for if he says so, he will lie; "if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." [4189] Each one therefore is needfully scourged for his own sins; but the mercy of God is not taken away from him, if he be a Christian. Certainly if thou committest such offences as to repel the hand of Him who chasteneth, the rod of Him who scourgeth thee, and art angry at the correction of God, and fliest from thy Father when He chasteneth thee, and wilt not suffer Him to be thy Father, because He spares thee not when thou dost sin; thou hast estranged thyself from thy heritage, He has not thrown thee off; for if thou wouldest abide being scourged, thou wouldest not abide disinherited. "Nor will I do hurt in My truth." For His mercy in setting free shall not be taken away, lest His truth in taking vengeance do harm.

31. "My covenant will I not profane, nor reject the thing that is gone out of my lips" (ver. 34). Because his sons sin, I will not on this account be found false: I have promised; I will do. Suppose they choose to sin even as past hope, and so fall into sins as to offend their Father's countenance, and deserve to be disinherited; is it not still God Himself, of whom it is said, "From these stones" He "will raise up sons to Abraham"? [4190] Therefore I tell you, brethren, many Christians sin venially, [4191] many are scourged and so corrected for their sin, chastened, and cured; many turn away altogether, striving with a stiff neck against the discipline of the Father, even wholly refusing God as their Father, though they have the mark of Christ, and so fall into such sins, that it can only be announced against them, "that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." [4192] Nevertheless, Christ shall not be destitute of an inheritance on their account: not for the chaff's sake shall the wheat also perish: [4193] nor on account of bad fish shall nothing be cast into the vessels from that net. [4194] "The Lord knows them that are His." [4195] For He who predestined us before we were born, promised undoubtingly: "For whom He did predestinate, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified." [4196] Let desperate sinners sin as far as they choose: let the members of Christ reply, "If God is with us, who shall be against us?" God will not therefore do hurt in His truth, nor will He "profane His Testament." His Testament remains immovable, because in His foreknowledge He predestined His heirs; and "He will not reject the thing that is gone out of His lips."

32. Listen for thy confirmation in hope, for thy security, if thou knowest thyself to be among the members of Christ. "I have sworn once by My holiness that I will not lie unto David" (ver. 35). Dost thou wait till God swear a second time? How often is He to swear, if in one oath He is false? One oath He made for our life, who sent His Only One to die for us. "I have sworn once by My holiness, that I will not lie unto David." "His seed shall endure for ever" (ver. 36). His seed endures for ever; because the Lord knows them that are His. "And His seat is like as the sun before me:" "and as the moon perfect for evermore: and the faithful witness in heaven" (ver. 37). They are His seat, in whom He sits and reigns. But if His seat, His members also; because even our members are the seat of our head. See how all our other members sustain our head: but the head supports nothing above itself, but is itself supported by the rest of our limbs, as if the whole body of a man were the seat of his head. His seat, therefore, all in whom God reigns, "shall be like as the sun before Me," He saith: because the righteous in the kingdom of My Father "shall shine like the sun." [4197] But the sun is meant in a spiritual, not a bodily sense, as that which shines from Heaven, which He maketh to rise upon the just and unjust. [4198] Finally, that sun is not before men's eyes only, but even those of cattle and the smallest insects; for which of the vilest animals sees not that sun? What does he say to distinguish the sun meant here? "Like as the sun before Me." Not before men, before the flesh, before mortal animals, but "before Me, and as the moon." But what moon? one "that is perfect for evermore." For although that moon which we know becomes perfect, the next day she begins to wane, after her orb is full. "He shall be as the moon perfect for evermore," He saith. His seat shall be made perfect as the moon, but that moon is one which will be perfect for evermore. If as the sun, why also as the moon? the Scriptures usually signify by the moon the mortality of this flesh, because of its increasings and decreasings, because of its transitory nature. The moon is also interpreted as Jericho: one who was descending from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among robbers: [4199] for he was descending from immortality to mortality. Similar then is the flesh to that moon, which every month suffers increase and decrease: but that flesh of ours will be perfect in the resurrection: "and a faithful witness in heaven." Thus then, if it was our mind only that would be perfected, he would compare us only to the sun: if our body only, to the moon; but as God will perfect us in both, in respect of the mind it is said, "like as the sun before Me," because God only seeth the mind: and "as the moon," so is the flesh: which "shall be made perfect for evermore," in the resurrection of the dead: "and a faithful witness in Heaven," because all that was asserted of the resurrection of the dead was true. I beseech you, hear this again more clearly, and remember it: for I know that some understand, while others are yet enquiring perhaps what I meant. There is no article of the Christian faith which has encountered such contradiction as that of the resurrection of the flesh. Finally, He who was born for a sign that should be spoken against, [4200] resumed His own flesh after death to meet the caviller; and He who could have so completely cured His wounds that their scars would have entirely vanished, retained those scars in His body, that He might cure the wounds of doubt in the heart. Indeed nothing has been attacked with the same pertinacious, contentious contradiction, in the Christian faith, as the resurrection of the flesh. On the immortality of the soul many Gentile philosophers have disputed at great length, and in many books they have left it written that the soul is immortal: when they come to the resurrection of the flesh, they doubt not indeed, but they most openly deny it, declaring it to be absolutely impossible that this earthly flesh can ascend to Heaven. Thus that moon shall be perfect for evermore, and shall be the faithful witness in heaven against all gain-sayers.

33. These promises, so sure, so firm, so open, so unquestioned, were made concerning Christ. For although some are mysteriously veiled, yet some are so clear, that all that is obscure is easily revealed by them. Such being the case, see what follows: "But Thou hast approved and brought to nothing and forsaken Thine Anointed" (ver. 38). "Thou hast overthrown the testament of Thy servant, and profaned His holiness on the ground" (ver. 39). "Thou hast broken down all His hedges, and made His strongholds a terror" (ver. 40)....How is this? Thou hast promised all those things: and Thou hast brought to pass their reverse. Where are now the promises which but a little before filled us with delight? which we so joyfully applauded, which we so fearlessly made our boast of? It is as if one promised, and another destroyed. And this is the mystery: for the words are not "another," but "Thou," Thou who didst promise, who didst even swear in condescension to human doubt, Thou hast promised this, and done thus! Whence shall I get Thy oath, where shall I find Thy promise fulfilled? Would then God promise, or swear thus falsely? and yet why then these promises, and these acts? I answer, that He acted thus in fulfilment of those promises. But who am I, to say this? Let us see therefore whether it is the language of the Truth; what I say will not then be without foundation. It was David to whom the fulfilment of these promises in his seed, that is, in Christ, was promised: and as they were addressed to David, men expected their completion in David. Further, lest when any Christian asserted these promises to have referred to Christ, another by applying them to David, because he described the fulfilment of all of them in David, might thus err; He cancelled them in David, thus obliging us when we see them unfulfilled in David, to look to another quarter for their fulfilment. Thus also in the case of Esau and Jacob, we find the elder worshipped by the younger, though it is written, "The elder shall serve the younger;" [4201] so when you see it unfulfilled in those two brothers, you look for two peoples in whom to discover the completion of what God in His truth deigns to promise. "From the fruit of thy body," saith the Lord unto David, "shall I set upon thy sea." [4202] He promised from his seed something for evermore: and, Solomon, born to him, became master of such wisdom, [4203] that the promise of God respecting the fruit of David's body was believed to have been fulfilled in him; but Solomon fell, [4204] and gave room for hoping for Christ; that since God can neither be deceived nor deceive, He might not make His promise to rest in one who He knew would fall, but you might after the fall of Solomon look back to God, and demand His promise. Hast Thou, O Lord, deceived? Hast Thou failed to fulfil Thy promise? Dost Thou not exhibit what Thou hast sworn? Perhaps God might reply, I swore and promised: but Solomon would not persevere. What then? Didst not Thou, Lord God, know beforehand that he would not persevere? Indeed Thou didst know. Why then didst Thou promise me what should be eternal in one who would not persevere? Hast Thou not answered; "But if his children forsake My law, and walk not in My judgments; if they keep not My statutes, and profane My testament;" yet My promise shall remain, and My oath shall be fulfilled: "I have sworn once in My Holiness," within, in a certain mystery, in the very spring whence the Prophets drank, whence they burst forth to us of these things, "I have sworn once" that I will not fail David. Show forth then what Thou hast sworn, give us what Thou hast promised. The fulfilment is taken from that David, that it might not be looked for in that David: wait therefore for what I have promised.

34. Even David himself knew this. Consider his words; "Thou hast rejected and brought him down to nothing." Where then is Thy promise? "Thou hast put off Thine anointed." This expression cheers us, among much that is sorrowful: for the promise of God is still valid; for [4205] Thou hast put off Thine Anointed, not taken Him away. See then what was the fate of that David, in whom the ignorant hoped for the fulfilment of the promises of God, in order that those promises might be more firmly relied upon for their fulfilment in another. "Thou hast put off Thine Anointed: Thou hast overthrown the testament of Thy servant." For where is the Old Testament of the Jews? where that land of promise, in which they sinned while they dwelt in it, on the overthrow of which they wandered afar? Ask you for the kingdom of the Jews; it exists not: you ask for the altar of the Jews; it is not: you ask for the sacrifice of the Jews; it is not: you ask for the priesthood of the Jews; it is not. "Thou hast overthrown the testament of Thy servant, and profaned his holiness on the earth." Thou hast shown that what they thought holy, was earthly. "Thou hast broken down all his hedges," with which Thou hast entrenched him: for how could he have been spoiled unless his hedges had been broken down? "Thou hast made his strongholds a terror." Why terror? That it should be said to the sinners, "For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee." [4206]

"All they that go by the way have spoiled him:" that is, all the heathen that go by the way, meaning, all who pass through this life, have spoiled Israel, have spoiled David. First of all, see his fragments in all nations: for it is of the Jews that it is said, "They shall be a portion for foxes." [4207] For the Scripture calls wicked, crafty, and cowardly kings, whom another's virtue terrifies, foxes. Thus when our Lord Himself was speaking of the threatening Herod, He said, "Go ye, and tell that fox." [4208] The king who fears no man, is not a fox: like that Lion of Judah, of whom it is said, "Stooping down Thou didst rise up, and didst sleep as a lion." [4209] At Thy will Thou didst stoop down, at Thy will didst rise; because Thou wouldest, Thou didst sleep. And thus in another Psalm he says, "I [4210] slept." [4211] Was not the sentence complete, "I slept, and took rest, and rose up again, because the Lord shall uphold Me"? Why is the word ego added? and thus with a strong emphasis on the word I, they raged against Me, they troubled Me: but had I not willed, I had not slept. Those then concerning whom it was declared that they should be a portion for foxes, are now spoken of as follows; "All they that go by have spoiled him: and he is become a reproach to his neighbours" (ver. 41). "Thou hast set up the right hand of his enemies, and made all his adversaries to rejoice" (ver. 42). Look at the Jews, and see all things fulfilled that were predicted. "Thou hast turned away the help of his sword." How they were used to fight few in number, and to strike down many. "Thou hast turned away the help of his sword, and Thou givest him not victory in the battle" (ver. 43). Naturally [4212] then is he conquered, naturally taken prisoner, naturally made an outcast from his kingdom, naturally scattered abroad: for he lost that land, for which he slew the Lord. "Thou hast loosed him from cleansing" (ver. 44). What is this? Amongst all the evils, this is a matter for great fear; for howsoever God may beat, howsoever He may be wroth, howsoever He may flog and scourge, yet let Him scourge him bound, whom He is to cleanse, not "loose him from cleansing." For if He loose him from being purified, he becomes incapable of cleansing, and must be an outcast. From what cleansing then is the Jew loosed? From faith; for by faith we live: [4213] and it is said of faith, "purifying their hearts by faith:" [4214] and as it is only the faith of Christ that cleanses; by disbelief in Christ, they are loosed from purification. "Thou hast loosed him from cleansing, and cast his throne down to the ground." And so Thou hast broken it. "The days of his seat hast Thou shortened" (ver. 45). They imagined that they should reign for ever. "And covered him with confusion." All these things happened to the Jews, Christ yet not being taken away, but His advent deferred.

35. Let us therefore see whether God fulfils His promises. After these stern penalties which have been recorded as having been inflicted upon this people and kingdom, that God might not be supposed to have fulfilled His promises in it, and so not to grant another kingdom in Christ, of which kingdom there shall be no end; the Prophet addresses Him in these words, "Lord, how long wilt Thou hide Thyself unto the end?" (ver. 46). For possibly it was not from them and to the end; because "blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in, and so all Israel shall be saved." [4215] But in the mean while "shall Thy wrath burn like fire."

36. "O remember what my substance is" (ver. 47). That David, who was placed among the Jews in the flesh, in Christ in hope, speaks "Remember what is my substance." For not because the Jews fell away, did my substance fail: for from that people came the Virgin Mary, and from her the flesh of Christ; that Flesh sins not, but purifies sins; there, saith David, is my substance. "O remember what my substance is." For the root has not entirely perished; the seed shall come to whom the promise was made, ordained by Angels in the hand of a Mediator. [4216] "For Thou hast not made all the sons of men for nought" (ver. 47). Lo! all the sons of men have gone into vanity: yet Thou hast not made them for nought. If then all went into vanity, whom Thou hast not made for nought; hast Thou not reserved some instrument to purify them from vanity? This which Thou hast reserved to Thyself to cleanse men from vanity is Thy Holy One, in Him is my substance: for from Him are all, whom Thou hast not made for nought, purified from their own vanity. To them it is said, "O ye sons of men, how long are ye heavy in heart? Wherefore have ye such pleasure in vanity, and seek after leasing?" [4217] Perhaps they might become anxious, and turn from their vanity, and when they found themselves polluted with it, might seek for purification from it: then help them, make them secure. "Know this also, that the Lord hath made wonderful His Holy One." [4218] He has made His Holy One to be admired: thence He has purified all from their vanity: there, saith David, is my substance: O remember it! "For Thou hast not made all the sons of men for nought." Thou hast therefore reserved something to purify them: and who is He whom Thou hast reserved? "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?" This man then who shall live and not see death, shall purify them from nothingness. For He made not all men for nought, nor can He who made them so despise His own creatures, as not to convert and purify them.

37. "What man is he that shall live, and shall not see death?" (ver. 48). For being raised from the dead He dieth no more, and death hath no more dominion over Him. [4219] And as in another Psalm it is said, "Thou shalt not leave my soul in Hell, neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption," [4220] the Apostolic teaching takes up this testimony, and in the Acts of the Apostles [4221] thus argues against the unbelieving; Men and brethren, we know that the patriarch David is dead and buried, and his flesh hath seen corruption. Therefore it cannot be said of him, "neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption." Of whom then is it said? "What man is he that shall live, and shall not see death?" Perhaps there is no man such. Nay, but "who is it?" is said to make thee inquire, not despair. But perhaps there may be some man "that shall live, and shall not see death," and yet perhaps he did not speak of Christ, who died? There is no man "that shall live, and shall not see death," except Him who died for mortals. That thou mayest be assured that it is said of Him, consider the sequel; "What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death?" Did He never die then? He did. How then shall He live, and never see death? "He shall deliver His own soul from the hands of Hell." He is spoken of alone indeed, in that He alone of all others "shall live, and shall not see death: He shall deliver His own soul from the hand of Hell," because although the rest of His faithful shall rise from the dead, and shall themselves live for evermore, without seeing death; yet they shall not themselves deliver their own souls from the hands of Hell. He who delivers His own soul from the hands of Hell, Himself delivers those of His believers: they cannot do so of themselves. Prove that He delivers His own soul. "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again. No man taketh `it from Me;' for I Myself slept, but I lay it down of Myself, and take it again," [4222] because it is He Himself who delivers His own soul from the hands of Hell.

38. But in the very faith in Christ great difficulties occurred, and the heathen in their rage long said, "When shall he die, and his name perish?" On account of these then who have now long believed in Christ, but were destined to doubt for some time, these words follow, "Lord, where are Thy old loving-kindnesses?" (ver. 49). We have now acknowledged Christ our purifier, we now possess Him in whom Thy promises were to be fulfilled; show forth in Him what Thou hast promised. It is He Himself that shall live, and not see death: Himself who delivers His own soul from the hand of Hell: and yet we are still in suffering. Thus spoke the Martyrs, whose birthdays we are celebrating. He shall live, and not see death: He delivers His soul from the hands of Hell: yet "for Thy sake we are killed all the day long: and are counted as sheep appointed to be slain." [4223] "Lord, where are Thy old loving-kindnesses which Thou swarest unto David in Thy truth?"

39. "Remember, Lord, the rebuke that Thy servants have" (ver. 50). Even while Christ was living, and while He was sitting on His Father's right hand, reproaches were cast against the Christians: they long were reproached with the name of Christ. That widowed one who brought forth, and whose children were more than those of the married wife, [4224] heard ill names, heard reproaches: but the Church, multiplied as she is, extending right and left, no longer remembers the reproach of her widowhood. "Remember, Lord," in the memory of whom there is abundant sweetness. "Remember," forget not. Remember what? "the rebuke that Thy servants have: and how I do bear in my bosom the rebukes of many people." I went, saith he, to preach of Thee, and I heard reproaches, and bore them in my bosom, because I was fulfilling the prophecy. "Being defamed we entreat: we are made as the filth of the earth, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day." [4225] Long the Christians bore reproaches in their bosom, in their heart: nor dared resist their revilers; before, when it was a crime to answer a heathen: it is now a crime to remain a heathen. Thanks be to the Lord! He remembered our rebukes: He raised the horn of His Anointed on high, He made Him the Wonderful among the kings of the earth. Now no one insults Christians, or if he does, it is not in public: he speaks as if he were still more fearful of being heard, than anxious to be believed. "I bear in my bosom the rebukes of many people."

40. "Wherewith Thine enemies have blasphemed Thee, O Lord" (ver. 51), both Jews and Pagans. "Wherewith they have blasphemed." Wherewith have they blasphemed Thee? "With the change of Thine Anointed." [4226] They objected that Christ died, and was crucified. Madmen, what is your reproach? Although there is now no one to use it: yet supposing some still remaining that so speak, what is your reproach? that Christ died? He was not destroyed, but changed. He is styled "dead" on account of the three days. Wherewith then have thine enemies blasphemed Thee? Not with the loss, not with the perdition of Thine Anointed, but with His "change." He was changed from temporal to eternal life: He was changed from the Jews to the Gentiles; He was changed from earth to heaven. Let then Thy vain enemies blaspheme Thee still for the change of Thine Anointed. Would that they may be changed: they will not in that case blaspheme the change of Christ, which displeases them since they themselves will not be changed. "For there is no change with them, and they fear not God." [4227]

41. They have blasphemed the change of Christ; but what dost thou answer? "The blessing of [4228] the Lord for evermore. Amen and Amen" (ver. 52). Thanks to His mercy, [4229] thanks to His grace. We express our thanks: we do not give them, nor return them, nor repay them: we express our thanks in words, while in fact we retain our sense of them. [4230] He saved us for no reward, He heeded not our impieties: He searched us out when we searched not for Him, He found, redeemed, emancipated us from the bondage of the devil and the power of his wicked angels: He drew us to Him to purify us by that faith, from which He releases those enemies only who believe not, and who for that reason cannot be purified. Let those who still remain infidels say every day what they choose; day by day they shall be fewer and fewer that remain; let them revile, mock, accuse, not the death, but the change of Christ. Do they not see that, when they say these things, they fail in purpose either by believing or by dying? For their curse is temporal: but the blessing of the Lord "for evermore." To confirm that blessing is added, "Amen and Amen." This is the signature of the bond of God. Secure then of His promises, let us believe the past, recognise the present, hope for the future. Let not the enemy lead us astray from the way, that He, who gathers us like chickens under His wings, may foster us: lest we stray from His wings, and the hawk of the air carry us off while yet unfledged. For the Christian ought not to hope in himself: if he hopes to be strong, let him be reared by his mother's warmth. This is the hen who gathers her young together; whence is the reproach of our Saviour against the unbelieving Jerusalem. "Behold, your house shall be left unto you desolate." [4231] Hence was it said, "Thou hast made his strongholds a terror." Since then they would not be gathered together under the wings of this hen, and have given as a warning to teach us to dread the unclean spirits that fly in the air, seeking daily what they may devour; let us gather ourselves under the wings of this hen, the divine Wisdom, since she is weakened even unto death of her chickens. Let us love our Lord God, let us love His Church: Him as a Father, Her as a Mother: Him as a Lord, Her as His Handmaid, as we are ourselves the Handmaid's sons. But this marriage is held together by a bond of great love: no man offends the one, and wins favour of the other. Let no man say, "I go indeed to the idols, I consult possessed ones and fortune-tellers: yet I abandon not God's Church; I am a Catholic." While thou holdest to thy Mother, thou hast offended thy Father. Another says, Far be it from me; I consult no sorcerer, I seek out no possessed one, I never ask advice by sacrilegious divination, I go not to worship idols, I bow not before stones; though I am in the party of Donatus. What does it profit you not to have offended your Father, if he avenges your offended Mother? what does it serve you, if you acknowledge the Lord, honour God, preach His name, acknowledge His Son, confess that He sitteth by His right hand; while you blaspheme His Church? Does not the analogy of human marriages convince you? Suppose you have some patron, whom you court every day, whose threshold you wear with your visits, whom you daily not only salute, but even worship, to whom you pay the most loyal courtesy; if you utter one calumny against his wife, could you re-enter his house? Hold then, most beloved, hold all with one mind to God the Father, and the Church our Mother. Celebrate with temperance the birthdays of the Saints, that we may imitate those who have gone before us, and that they who pray for you may rejoice over you; that "the blessing of the Lord may abide on you for evermore. Amen and Amen."


[4129] Lat. LXXXVIII. Delivered in the morning, on the festival of some Martyrs. [4130] See note on title of Ps. lxxxviii. [4131] Abs Te. [4132] Jer. i. 10. [4133] Ps. xxviii. 5. [4134] Ps. xxv. 10. [4135] Rom. xv. 8. [4136] Improbatos. [4137] Rom. xi. 1, 2. [4138] Rom. xv. 8, 9. [4139] Ps. xix. 1. [4140] Matt. v. 34. [4141] Gal. iii. 16. [4142] Eph. v. 23. [4143] Gal. iii. 29. [4144] Oxf. mss. "He is proclaimed;" and so again below. [4145] 1 Cor. iv. 5. [4146] Æqualis. [4147] Pro unitate unus. [4148] Matt. xvi. 13-16. [4149] Oxf. mss. "by God." [4150] Ps. cxlv. 3. [4151] Rom. xv. 9. [4152] Matt. xxvi. 64. [4153] Luke ii. 34. [4154] 1 Cor. x. 13. [4155] E.V. Rahab. [4156] Amos ix. 3. [4157] Ps. civ. 26. [4158] Col. ii. 14. [4159] Isa. xiv. 13, 14. [4160] Matt. v. 14. [4161] John i. 9. [4162] Ps. cxv. 1, 2. [4163] Ps. ix. Tit. [4164] Matt. xxv. 33. [4165] Ps. xxv. 10. [4166] 1 Cor. i. 31. [4167] Rom. x. 2, 3. [4168] Oxf. mss. "our." [4169] 1 Sam. iii. 9-18. [4170] Ps. xlv. 7. [4171] Luke i. 31. [4172] Phil. ii. 6, 8. [4173] Exod. xxxii. 20. [4174] Ps. lxxxv. 10. [4175] Ps. ii. 2, 10. [4176] In seculum seculi. [4177] Gal. iii. 15, 29. [4178] Ps. cii. 27. [4179] Oxf. mss. add "which are," etc. [4180] [Here he adds: "Let us, if you please, reserve what remains; since the Psalm is a long one, and we have yet some farther opportunity of speaking with you in Christ's name. Refresh your strength therefore: I do not mean that of your mind, for in mind I see that you are incapable of fatigue; but on account of the slaves of the soul, that your bodies may be sustained in their service, refresh yourselves for a little, and being refreshed return to your meal."--C.] [4181] Heb. xii. 7. [4182] Heb. xii. 6. [4183] 1 Cor. iv. 21. [4184] Ps. xlv. 7. [4185] Rom. viii. 34. [4186] John i. 18. [4187] i.e. we may consider it as not said of Him at all, for though He is Man, yet being God also He would not, in His own Person, need assurance; therefore it is said of Him in His members. [4188] Acts ix. 4. [4189] 1 John i. 8. [4190] Matt. iii. 9. [4191] Tolerabiliter. [1 John v. 16, 17.--C] [4192] Gal. v. 21. [4193] Matt. iii. 12. [4194] Matt. xiii. 47. [4195] 2 Tim. ii. 19. [4196] Rom. viii. 29, 30. [4197] Matt. xiii. 43. [4198] Matt. v. 45. [4199] Luke x. 30. [4200] Luke ii. 34. [A.N.F. vol. iii. p. 525.--C.] [4201] Gen. xxv. 23. [4202] Ps. cxxxii. 11. [4203] Oxf. mss. "and such prudence." [4204] 1 Kings xi. 1, etc. [4205] Non abstulisti sed distulisti. [4206] Rom. xi. 21. [4207] Ps. lxiii. 10. [4208] Luke xiii. 32. [4209] Gen. xlix. 9. [4210] Ego. [4211] Ps. iv. 8. [4212] Merito. [4213] Gal. iii. 11. [4214] Acts xv. 9. [4215] Rom. xi. 25. [4216] Gal. iii. 19. [4217] Ps. iv. 2. [4218] Ps. iv. 3. [4219] Rom. vi. 9. [4220] Ps. xvi. 10. [4221] Acts ii. 29. [4222] John x. 18; Ps. iii. 5. [4223] Ps. xliv. 22. [4224] Isa. liv. 1; Gal. iv. 27. [4225] 1 Cor. iv. 13. [4226] Christi. [4227] Ps. lv. 19. [4228] Oxf. mss. "blessed be." [4229] Oxf. mss. add here, "what else shall I say but." [4230] Oxf. mss. Rem tenemus, while we retain possession of the (unrequited) benefit. [4231] Matt. xxiii. 38.

Also, see links to 600+ other Augustine Manuscripts:

E-mail to: BELIEVE

The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html