Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 50 - 52

PSALM 50

1. How much availeth the Word of God to us for the correction of our life, both regarding His rewards to be expected, and His punishments to be feared, let each one measure[11] in himself; and let him put his conscience without deceit before His eyes, and not flatter himself in a danger so great: for ye see that even our Lord God Himself doth flatter no one: though He comforteth us by promising His blessings, and by strengthening our hope; yet them that live ill and despise His word He assuredly spareth not. Let each one examine himself, while it is time, and let him see where he is, and either persevere in good, or be changed from evil. For as he saith in this Psalm, not any man whatever nor any angel whatever, but, "The Lord, the God of gods, hath spoken" (ver. 1). But in speaking, He hath done what? "He hath called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down." He that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," is Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, "the Word made Flesh,"[12] in order that He might dwell in us. Our Lord Jesus Christ then is the "God of gods;" because by Himself were all things made, and without Himself was nothing made. The Word of God, if He is God, is truly the God of gods; but whether He be God the Gospel answereth, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[1] And if all things were made by Himself, as He saith in the sequel, then if any were made gods, by Himself were they made. For the one God was not made, and He is Himself alone truly God. But Himself the only God, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, is one God.

2. But then who are those gods, or where are they, of whom God is the true God? Another Psalm saith, "God hath stood in the synagogue of gods, but in the midst He judgeth gods."[2] As yet we know not whether perchance any gods be congregated in heaven, and in their congregation, for this is "in the synagogue," God hath stood to judge. See in the same Psalm those to whom he saith, "I have said, Ye are gods, and children of the Highest all; but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."[3] It is evident then, that He hath called men gods, that are deified of His Grace, not born of His Substance. For He doth justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He doth deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifieth doth Himself deify, in that by justifying He doth make sons of God. "For He hath given them power to become the sons of God."[4] If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For the only Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. For so great is the love in Him the Heir, that He hath willed to have fellow-heirs. What covetous man would will this, to have fellow-heirs? But even one that is found so to will, will share with them the inheritance, the sharer having less himself, than if he had possessed alone: but the inheritance wherein we are fellow-heirs of Christ, is not lessened by multitude of possessors, nor is it made narrower by the number of fellow-heirs: but is as great for many as it is for few, as great for individuals as for all. "See," saith the Apostle, "what love God hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and be, the sons of God."[5] And in another place, "Dearly beloved, we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." We are therefore in hope, not yet in substance. "But we know," he saith, "that when He shall have appeared, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."[6] The Only Son is like Him by birth, we like by seeing. For we are not like in such sort as He, who is the same as He is by whom He was begotten: for we are like, not equal: He, because equal, is therefore like. We have heard who are the gods that being made are justified, because they are called the sons of God: and who are the gods that are not Gods, to whom the God of gods is terrible? For another Psalm saith, "He is terrible over all gods."[7] And as if thou shouldest enquire, what gods? He saith, "For all the gods of the nations are devils." To the gods of the nations, to the devils, terrible: to the gods made by Himself, to sons, lovely. Furthermore, I find both of them confessing the Majesty of God, both the devils confessed Christ, and the faithful confessed Christ. "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,"[8] said Peter. "We know who Thou art, Thou art the Son of God,"[9] said the devils. A like confession I hear, but like love I find not; nay even here love, there fear. To whom therefore He is lovely, the same are sons; to whom He is terrible, are not sons; to whom He is lovely, the same He hath made gods; those to whom He is terrible He doth prove not to be gods. For these are made gods, those are reputed gods; these Truth maketh gods, those error doth so account.

3. "The God," therefore, "of gods, the Lord hath spoken"[10] (ver. 1). Hath spoken many ways. By Angels He hath Himself spoken, by Prophets He hath Himself spoken, by His own mouth He hath Himself spoken, by His faithful He doth Himself speak, by our lowliness, when we say anything true, He doth Himself speak. See then, by speaking diversely, many ways, by many vessels, by many instruments, yet He doth Himself sound everywhere, by touching, mould-ing, inspiring: see what He hath done. For "He hath spoken, and hath called the world." What world? Africa, perhaps! for the sake of those that say, the Church of Christ is the portion of Donatus. Africa indeed alone He hath not called, but even Africa He hath not severed. For He that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," leaving out no parts that He hath not called, in His calling hath found Africa. Let it rejoice therefore in unity, not pride itself in division. We say well, that the voice of the God of gods hath come even into Africa, hath not stayed in Africa. For "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down." There is no place where may lurk the conspiracies of heretics, they have no place wherein they may hide themselves under the shadow of falsehood; for "there is none that can hide himself from the heat thereof."[1] He that hath called the world, hath called even the whole world: He that hath called the world, hath called as much as He hath formed. Why do false christs and false prophets rise up against me? why is it that they strive to ensnare me with captious words, saying, "Lo! here is Christ, Lo! He is there! "[2] I hear not them that point out portions: the God of gods hath pointed out the whole: "He" that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," hath redeemed the whole; but hath condemned them that lay false claim to[3] portions.

4. But we have heard the world called from the rising of the sun unto the going down: whence doth He begin to call, who hath called? This thing also hear ye: "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty" (ver. 2). Evidently the Psalm doth agree with the Gospel, which saith, "Throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."[4] Hear, "Throughout all nations:" He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down." Hear, "Beginning at Jerusalem:" "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty." Therefore, "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," agreeth with the words of the Lord, who saith," It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name throughout all nations."[5] For all nations are from the rising of the sun unto the going down. But that, "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty," that thence beginneth the beauty of His Gospel, that thence He began to be preached, being "beautiful in form beyond the sons of men,"[6] agreeth with the words of the Lord, who saith, "Beginning at Jerusalem." New things are in tune with old, old things with new: the two Seraphim say to one another," Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth."[7] The two Testaments are both in tune, and the two Testaments have one voice: let the voice of the Testaments in tune be heard, not that of pretenders disinherited. This thing then hath the God of gods done, "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down, His semblance going before out of Sion." For in that place were His disciples,[8] who received the Holy Ghost sent from heaven on the fiftieth day after His resurrection. Thence the Gospel, thence the preaching, thence the whole world filled, and that in the Grace of Faith.

5. For when the Lord Himself had come, because He came to suffer, He came hidden: and though He was strong in Himself, He appeared in the flesh weak. For He must needs appear in order that He might not be perceived; be despised, in order that He might be slain. There was semblance of glory in divinity, but it lay concealed in flesh. "For if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory."[9] So then He walked hidden among the Jews, among His enemies, doing marvels, suffering ills, until He was hanged on the tree, and the Jews seeing Him hanging both despised Him the more, and before the Cross wagging their heads they said, "If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross."[10] Hidden then was the God of gods, and He gave forth words more out of compassion for us than out of His own majesty. For whence, unless assumed from us, were those words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?[11] But when hath the Father forsaken the Son, or the Son the Father? Are not Father and Son one God? Whence then, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me," save that in the Flesh of infirmity there was acknowledged the voice of a sinner? For as He took upon Him the likeness of the flesh of sin," why should He not take upon Him the voice of sin? Hidden then was the God of gods, both when He walked among men, and when He hungered, and when He thirsted, and when fatigued He sat, and when with wearied body He slept, and when taken, and when scourged, and when standing before the judge, and when He made answer to him in his pride, "Thou couldest have no power against Me, except it had been given thee from above;"[13] and while led as a victim "before His shearer He opened not His mouth,"[14] and while crucified, and while buried, He was always hidden God of gods. What took place after He rose again? The disciples marvelled, and at first believed not, until they touched and handled.[15] But flesh had risen, because flesh had been dead: Divinity which could not die, even still lay hid in the flesh of Him rising. Form could be seen, limbs held, scars handled: the Word by whom all things were made, who doth see? who doth hold? who doth handle? And yet "the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us."[16] And Thomas, that was holding Man, understood God as he was able. For when he had handled the scars, he cried out, "My Lord, and my God." Yet the Lord was showing that form, and that flesh, which they had seen upon the Cross, which had been laid in the sepulchre. He stayed with them forty days. ... But what was said to Thomas handling? "Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed; blessed are they that see not, and believe."[1] We are foretold. That world called from the rising of the sun unto the going down seeth not, and believeth. Hidden then is the God of gods, both to those among whom He walked, and to those by whom He was crucified, and to those before whose eyes He rose, and to us who believe on Him in heaven sitting, whom we have not seen on earth walking. But even if we were to see, should we not see that which the Jews saw and crucified? It is more, that not seeing we believe Christ to be God, than that they seeing deemed Him only to be man. They in a word by thinking evil slew, we by believing well are made alive.

6. What then, brethren? This God of gods, both then hidden, and now hidden, shall He ever be hidden? Evidently not: hear what followeth: "God shall come manifest" (ver. 3). He that came hidden, shall come manifest. Hidden He came to be judged, manifest He shall come to judge: hidden He came that He might stand before a judge, manifest He shall come that He may be judge even of judges: "He shall come manifest, and shall not be silent." But why? Is He now silent? And whence are all the words that we say? whence those precepts? whence those warnings? whence that trumpet of terror? He is not silent, and is silent: is not silent from warning, is silent from avenging: is not silent from precept, is silent from judgment. For He suffereth sinners daily doing evil things, not caring for God, not in their conscience, not in heaven, not in earth: all these things escape Him not, and universally He doth admonish all; and whenever He chastiseth any on earth, it is admonition, not yet condemnation. He is silent then from judgment, He is hidden in heaven, as yet He intercedeth for us: He is long-suffering to sinners, not putting forth His wrath, but awaiting penitence. He saith in another place: "I have held my peace, shall I always hold my peace?"[2] When then He shall not hold His peace, "God shall come manifest." What God? "Our God." And the God Himself, who is our God: for he is not God, who is not our God. For the gods of the nations are devils: the God of Christians is very God. Himself shall come, but "manifest," not still to be mocked, not still to be buffeted and scourged: He shall come, but "manifest," not still to be smitten with a reed upon the head, not still to be crucified, slain, buried: for all these things God being hidden hath willed to suffer. "He shall come manifest, and shall not be silent."

7. But that He shall come to judgment, the following words teach. "Fire shall go before Him."[3] Do we fear? Be we changed, and we shall not fear. Let chaff fear the fire: what doth it to gold? What thou mayest do is now in thy power, so thou mayest not experience, for want of being corrected, that which is to come even against thy will. For if we might so bring it about, brethren, that the day of judgment should not come; I think that even then it were not for us to live ill. If the fire of the day of judgment were not to come, and over sinners there impended only separation from the face of God, in whatever affluence of delights they might be, not seeing Him by whom they were created, and separated from that sweetness of His ineffable[4] countenance, in whatever eternity and impunity of sin, they ought to bemoan themselves. But what shall I say, or to whom shall I say? This is a punishment to lovers, not to despisers. They that have begun to feel in any degree the sweetness of wisdom and truth, know what I say, how great a punishment it is to be only separated from the face of God: but they that have not tasted that sweetness, if not yet they yearn for the face of God, let them fear even fire; let punishments terrify those, whom rewards win not. Of no value to thee is what God promiseth, tremble at what He threateneth. The sweetness of His presence shall come; thou art not changed, thou art not awakened, thou sighest not, thou longest not: thou embracest thy sins and the delights of thy flesh, thou art heaping stubble to thyself, the fire will come. "Fire shall burn in His presence." This fire will not be like thy hearth-fire, into which nevertheless, if thou art compelled to thrust thy hand, thou wilt do whatsoever he would have thee who doth threaten this alternative. If he say to thee, "write against the life[5] of thy father, write against the lives of thy children, for if thou do not, I thrust thy hand into thy fire:" thou wilt do it in order that thy hand be not burned, in order that thy member be not burned for a time, though it is not to be ever in pain. Thine enemy threateneth then but so light an evil, and thou doest evil; God threateneth eternal evil, and doest thou not good? To do evil not even menaces should compel thee: from doing good not even menaces should deter thee. But by the menaces of God, by menaces of everlasting fire, thou art dissuaded from evil, invited to good. Wherefore doth it grieve thee, except because thou believest not? Let each one then examine his heart, and see what faith doth[1] hold there. If we believe a judgment to come, brethren, let us live well. Now is time of mercy, then will be time of judgment. No one will say, "Call me back to my former years." Even then men will repent, but will repent in vain: now let there be repentance, while there is fruit of repentance; now let there be applied to the roots of the tree a basket of dung,[2] sorrow of heart and tears; lest He come and pluck up by the roots. For when He shall have plucked up, then the fire is to be looked for. Now, even if the branches have been broken, they can again be grafted in;[3] then, "every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire."[4] "Fire shall burn in His presence."

8. "And a mighty tempest round about Him" (ver. 3). "A mighty tempest," in order to winnow so great a floor. In this tempest shall be that winnowing whereby from the saints shall be put away everything impure, from the faithful every unreality; from godly men and them that fear the Word of God, every scorner and every proud man. For now a sort of mixture doth lie there, from the rising of the sun unto the going down. Let us see then how He will do that is to come, what He will do with that tempest which "shall be a mighty tempest round about Him." Doubtless this tempest is to make a sort of separation. It is that separation which they waited not for, who brake the nets, before they came to land.[5] But in this separation there is made a sort of distinction between good men and bad men. There be some that now follow Christ with lightened shoulders without the load of the world's cares, who have not heard in vain, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me;"[6] to which sort is said, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."[7] Some then shall be judging with the Lord: but others to be judged, but to be placed on the right hand. For that there will be certain judging with the Lord, we have most evident testimony, which I have but now quoted: "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." ...

9. But what the Lord did after His resurrection, signified what is to be to us after our resurrection, in that number of the kingdom of heaven, where shall be no bad man. ... Lastly, those seven thousand of whom reply was made to Elias, "I have left me seven thousand men that have not bowed knees before Baal,"[8] far exceed that number of fishes. Therefore the hundred and fifty-three fishes[9] doth not alone express just such a number of saints, but Scripture doth express the whole number of saints and righteous men by so great a number for a particular reason; to wit, in order that in those hundred and fifty-three all may be understood that pertain to the resurrection to eternal life. For the Law hath ten commandments:[10] but the Spirit of Grace, through which alone the Law is fulfilled," is called sevenfold. The number then must be examined, what mean ten and seven: ten in commandments, seven in the grace of the Holy Spirit: by which grace the commandments are fulfilled. Ten then and seven contain all that pertain to the resurrection, to the right hand, to the kingdom of heaven, to life eternal, that is, they that fulfil the Law by the Grace of the Spirit, not as it were by their own work or their own merit. But ten and seven, if thou countest from one unto seventeen, by adding all the numbers by steps, so that to one thou mayest add two, add three, add four, that they may become ten, by adding five that they may become fifteen, by adding six that they may become twenty-one, by adding seven that they may become twenty-eight, by adding eight that they may become thirty-six, by adding nine that they may become forty-five, by adding ten that they may become fifty-five, by adding eleven that they may become sixty-six, by adding twelve that they may become seventy-eight, by adding thirteen that they may become ninety-one, by adding fourteen that they may become one hundred and five, by adding fifteen that they may become one hundred and twenty, by adding sixteen that they may become one hundred and thirty-six, by adding seventeen, make up one hundred and fifty-three, thou wilt find a vast number of all saints to belong to this number of a few fishes. In like manner then as in five virgins, countless virgins; as in five brethren of him that was tormented in hell, thousands of the people of the Jews; as in the number of one hundred and fifty-three fishes, thousands of thousands of saints: so in twelve thrones, not twelve men, but great is the number of the perfect.[12]

10. But I see what is next required of us; in like manner as in the case of the five virgins, a reason was given why many should belong to five, and why to those five many Jews, and why to a hundred and fifty-three many perfect--to show why and how to the twelve thrones not twelve men, but many belong. What mean the twelve thrones, which signify all men everywhere that have been enabled to be so perfect as they must be perfect, to whom it is said, "Ye shall sit over the twelve tribes of Israel"?[1] And why do all men everywhere belong to the number twelve? Because the very "everywhere" which we say, we say of the whole world: but the compass of lands is contained in four particular quarters, East, West, South, and North: from all these quarters they being called in the Trinity and made perfect in the faith and precept of the Trinity,--seeing that three times four are twelve, ye perceive wherefore the saints belong to the whole world; they that shall sit upon twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, since the twelve tribes of Israel, also, are the twelve tribes of the whole of Israel. For like as they that are to judge are from the whole world, so also they that are to be judged are from the whole world. The Apostle Paul of himself, when he was reproving believing laymen, because they referred not their causes to the Church, but dragged them with whom they had matters before the public, said, "Know ye not that we shall judge Angels?"[2] See after what sort He hath made Himself judge: not only himself, but also all that judge aright in the Church.

11. Since then it is evident, that many are to judge with the Lord, but that others are to be judged, not however on equality, but according to their deserts; He will come with all His Angels,[3] when before Him shall be gathered all nations, and among all the Angels are to be reckoned those that have been made so perfect, that sitting upon twelve thrones they judge the twelve tribes of Israel. For men are called Angels: the Apostle saith of himself, "As an angel of God ye received me."[4] Of John Baptist it is said, "Behold, I send My Angel before Thy face, that shall prepare Thy way before Thee."[5] Therefore, coming with all Angels, together with Him He shall have the Saints also. For plainly saith Isaias also, "He shall come to judgment with the elders of the people."[6] Those "elders of the people," then, those but now named Angels, those thousands of many men made perfect coming from the whole world, are called Heaven. But the others are called earth, yet fruitful. Which is the earth that is fruitful? That which is to be set on the fight hand, unto which it shall be said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me to eat:"[7] truly fruitful earth in which the Apostle doth joy, when they sent to him to supply his necessities: "Not because I ask a gift," he saith, "but I require fruit."[8] And he giveth thanks, saying, "Because at length ye have budded forth again to be thoughtful for me."[9] He saith, "Ye have budded forth again," as to trees which had withered away with a kind of barrenness. Therefore the Lord coming to judgment (that we may now hear the Psalm, brethren), He will do what? "He will call the heaven from above" (ver. 4). The heaven, all the Saints, those made perfect that shall judge, them He shall call from above, to be sitters with Him to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. For how shall "He call the heaven from above," when the heaven is always above? But those that He here calleth heaven, the same elsewhere He calleth heavens. What heavens? That tell out the glory of God: for, "The heavens tell out the glory of God:"[10] whereof is said, "Into all the earth their sound hath gone forth, and into the ends of the world their words." For see the Lord severing in judgment: "He shall call the heaven from above and the earth, to sever His people." From whom but from evil men? Of whom here afterwards no mention is made, now as it were condemned to punishment. See these good men, and distinguish. "He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people." He calleth the earth also, not however to be associated, but to be dissociated. For at first He called them together, "when the God of gods spake and called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," He had not yet severed: those servants had been sent to bid to the marriage,[11] who had gathered good and bad. But when the God of gods shall come manifest and shall not keep silence, He shall so call the "heaven from above" that it may judge with Him. For what the heaven is, the heavens themselves are; just as what the earth is, the lands themselves, just as what the Church is, the Churches themselves: "He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people." Now with the heaven He severeth the earth, that is, the heaven with Him doth sever the earth. How doth He sever the earth? In such sort that He setteth on the right hand some, others on the left. But to the earth severed, He saith what? "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me to eat," and so forth. But they say, "When saw we Thee an hungred?" And He, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me."[12] "He shall call therefore the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people."

12. "Gather to Him His righteous" (ver. 5). The voice divine and prophetic, seeing future things as if present doth exhort the Angels gathering. For He shall send His Angels, and before Him shall be gathered all nations.[1] Gather to Him His righteous. What righteous men save those that live of faith and do works of mercy? For those works are works of righteousness. Thou hast the Gospel: "Beware of doing your righteousness before men to be seen of them."[2] And as if it were inquired, What righteousness? "When therefore thou doest alms," He saith. Therefore alms He hath signified to be works of righteousness. Those very persons gather for His righteous: gather those that have had compassion on the "needy," that have considered the needy and poor:[3] gather them, "The Lord preserve them, and make them to live;" "Gather to Him His righteous: who order His covenant above sacrifices:" that is, who think of His promises above those things which they work. For those things are sacrifices, God saying, "I will have mercy more than sacrifice."[4] "Who keep His covenant more than sacrifice."

13. "And the Heaven shall declare His righteousness" (ver. 6). Truly this righteousness of God to us the "heavens have declared," the Evangelists have foretold. Through them we have heard that some will be on the right hand, to whom the Householder saith, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive.[5] Receive what? "A kingdom." In return for what thing? "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me to eat." What so valueless, what so earthly, as to break bread to the hungry? At so much is valued the kingdom of heaven. "Break thy bread to the hungry, and the needy without covering bring into thy house; if thou seest one naked, clothe him."[6] If thou hast not the means of breaking bread, hast not house into which thou mayest bring, hast not garment wherewith thou mayest cover: give a cup of cold water? cast two mites into the treasury.[8] As much the widow doth buy with two mites, as Peter buyeth, by leaving the nets,[9] as Zacchaeus buyeth by giving half his goods.[10] Of so much worth is all that thou hast. "The heavens shall declare His righteousness, for God is Judge." Truly judge not confounding but severing. For "the Lord knoweth them that are His."[11] Even if grains lie hid in the chaff, they are known to the husbandman. Let no one fear that he is a grain even among the chaff; the eyes of our winnower are not deceived. Fear not lest that tempest, which shall be round about Him, should confound thee with chaff. Certainly mighty will be the tempest; yet not one grain will it sweep from the side of the corn to the chaff: because not any rustic with three-pronged fork, but God, Three in One, is Judge. And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is Judge. Let heavens go, let the heavens tell, into every land let their sound go out, and unto the ends of the world their words:[12] and let that body say, "From the ends of the world unto Thee have I cried, when my heart was in heaviness."[13] For now mingled it groaneth, divided it shall rejoice. Let it cry then and say, "Destroy not my soul with ungodly men, and with men of blood my life."[14] He destroyeth not together, because God is Judge. Let it cry to Him and say, "Judge me, O Lord, and sever my cause from the nation unholy: "[15] let it say, He shall do it: there shall be gathered to Him His righteous ones. He hath called the earth that He may sever His people.

14. "Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee" (ver. 7). He shall come and shall not keep silence; see how that even now, if ye hear, He is not silent. Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee. For if thou hearest not, I will not speak to thee. "Hear, and I will speak to thee." For if thou hearest not, even though I shall speak, it will not be to thee. When then shall I speak to thee? If thou hearest. When hearest thou? If thou art my people. For, "Hear, my people:" thou hearest not if thou art an alien people. "Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee: Israel, and I will testify to thee." ... For "Thy God," is properly said to that man whom God doth keep more as one of His family, as though in His household, as though in His peculiar: "Thy God am I." What wilt thou more? Requirest thou a reward from God, so that God may give thee something; so that what He hath given thee may be thine own? Behold God Himself, who shall give, is thine own. What richer than He? Gifts thou wast desiring, thou hast the Giver Himself. "God, thy God, I am."

15. What He requireth of man, let us see; what tribute our God, our Emperor and our King doth enjoin us; since He hath willed to be our King, and hath willed us to be His province? Let us hear His injunctions. Let not a poor man tremble beneath the injunction of God: what God enjoineth to be given to Himself, He doth Himself first give that enjoineth: be ye only devoted. God doth not exact what He hath not given, and to all men hath given what He doth exact. For what doth He exact? Let us hear now: "I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices" (ver. 8). I will not say to thee, Wherefore hast thou not slain for me a fat bull? why hast thou not selected the best he-goat from thy flock? Wherefore doth that ram amble among thy sheep, and is not laid upon mine altar? I will not say, Examine thy fields and thy pen[16] and thy walls, seeking what thou mayest give Me. "I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices." What then: Dost Thou not accept my sacrifices? "But thy holocausts are always in My sight" (ver. 9). Certain holocausts concerning which it is said in another Psalm, "If Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would surely have given, with holocausts Thou wilt not be delighted:"[1] and again he turneth himself," Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit, a heart broken and humbled God doth not despise."[2] Which be then holocausts that He despiseth not? Which holocausts that are always in His sight? "Kindly, O Lord," he saith, "deal in Thy good will with Sion, and be the walls of Jerusalem builded, then shall Thou accept the sacrifice of righteousness, oblations, and holocausts." He saith that certain holocausts God will accept. But what is a holocaust? A whole consumed with fire: causis is burning, holon is whole: but a "holocaust" is a whole consumed with fire. There is a certain fire of most burning love: be the mind inflamed with love, let the same love hurry off the limbs to its use, let it not allow them to serve cupidity, in order that we may wholly glow with fire of divine love that will offer to God a holocaust. Such "holocausts of thine are in My sight always."

16. As yet that Israel perchance doth not understand what are the holocausts thereof which He hath in His sight always, and is still thinking of oxen, of sheep, of he-goats: let it not so think: "I will not accept calves of thy house." Holocausts I named; at once in mind and thought to earthly flocks thou wast running, therefrom thou wast selecting for Me some fat thing: "I will not accept calves of thy house." He is foretelling the New Testament, wherein all those sacrifices have ceased. For they were then foretelling a certain Sacrifice which was to be, with the Blood whereof we should be cleansed. "I will not accept calves of thy house, nor he-goats of thy flocks."

17. "For mine are all the beasts of the wood" (ver. 10). Why should I ask of thee what I have made? Is it more thine, to whom I have given it to possess, than Mine, who have made it? "For mine are all the beasts of the wood." But perchance that Israel saith, The beasts are God's, those wild beasts which I enclose not in my pen, which I bind not to my stall; but this ox and sheep and he-goat--these are mine own. "Cattle on the mountain, and oxen."[3] Mine are those which thou possessest not, Mine are these which thou possessest. For if thou art My servant, the whole of thy property is Mine. For it cannot be, that is the property of the master which the servant hath gotten to himself, and yet that not be the property of the Master which the Master Himself hath created for the servant. Therefore Mine are the beasts of the wood which thou hast not taken; Mine are also the cattle on the mountains which are thine, and the oxen which are at thy stall: all are Mine own, for I have created them.

18. "I know all the winged creatures of heaven" (ver. 11). How doth He know? He hath weighed them, hath counted. Which of us knoweth all the winged creatures of heaven? But even though to some man God give knowledge of all the winged creatures of heaven, He doth not Himself know in the same manner as He giveth man to know. One thing is God's knowledge, another man's: in like manner as there is one possession of God's, another of man's: that is, God's possessing is one thing, man's another. For what thou possessest thou hast not wholly in thy power, or else thy ox, so long as it liveth, is in thy power; so as that it either die not, or be not to be fed. With whom there is the highest power, there is highest and most secret cognition. Let us ascribe tiffs to God, while praising God. Let us not dare to say, How knoweth God? Do not, I pray you, brethren, of me expect this, that I should unfold to you, how God doth know: this only I say, He doth not so know as a man, He doth not so know as an Angel: and how He knoweth I dare not say, because also I cannot ken. One thing, nevertheless, I ken, that even before all the winged creatures of heaven were, God knew that which He was to create. What is that knowledge? O man, thou beginnest to see, after that thou hadst been formed, after that thou hadst received sense of seeing. These fowls sprung of the water at the word of God, saying, "Let the waters bring forth fowls."[4] Whereby did God know the things which He commanded the water to bear forth? Now surely He knew what He had created, and before He created He knew. So great then is the knowledge of God, so that with Himself they were in a certain ineffable manner before they were created: and of thee doth He expect to receive what He had, before He created? "I know all the winged creatures of heaven," which thou to Me canst not give. The things which thou wast about to slay for Me, I know all: not because I made I know, but in order that I might make. "And the beauty of the field is with Me." The fairness of the field, the abundance of all things engendering upon earth, "is with Me," He saith. How with Him? Were they so, even before they were made? Yea, for with Him were all things to come, and with Him are all things by-gone: things to come in such sort, that there be not withdrawn from Him all things by-gone. With Him are all things by a certain cognition of the ineffable wisdom of God residing in the Word, and the[1] Word Himself is all things. Is not the beauty of the field in a manner with Him, inasmuch as He is everywhere, and Himself hath said, "Heaven and earth I fill"?[2] What with Him is not, of whom it is said, "If I shall have ascended into heaven, Thou art there; and if I shall have descended into hell, Thou art present "?[3] With Him is the whole: but it is not so with Him as that He doth suffer any contamination from those things which He hath created, or any want of them. For with thee, perchance, is a pillar near which thou art standing, and when thou art weary, thou leanest against it. Thou needest that which is with thee, God needeth not the field which is which Him. With Him is field, with Him beauty of earth, with Him beauty of heaven, with Him all winged creatures, because He is Himself everywhere. And wherefore are all things near Him? Because even before that all things were, or were created, to Him were known all things.

19. Who can explain, who expound that which is said to Him in another Psalm, "For my goods Thou needest not"?[4] He hath said that He needeth not from us any necessary thing. "If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee" (ver. 12). He that keepeth Israel shall neither hunger nor thirst, nor be weary, nor fall asleep.[5] But, lo! according to thy carnality I speak: because thou wilt suffer hunger when thou hast not eaten, perhaps thou thinkest even God doth hunger that He may eat. Even though He shall be hungry, He telleth not thee: all things are before Him, whence He will He taketh what is needful for Him. These words are said to convince little understanding; not that God hath declared His hunger. Though for our sake this God of gods deigned even to hunger. He came to hunger, and to fill; He came to thirst, and give drink; He came to be clothed with mortality, and to clothe with immortality; He came poor, to make rich. For He lost not His riches by taking to Him our poverty, for, "In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden."[6] "If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee. For Mine is the whole world, and the fulness thereof." Do not then labour to find what to give Me, without whom I have what I will.

20. Why then dost still think of thy flocks? "Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or shall I drink the blood of he-goats?" (ver. 13). Ye have heard what of us He requireth not, who willeth to enjoin us somewhat. If of such things ye were thinking, now withdraw your thoughts from such things: think not to offer God any such thing. If thou hast a fat bull, kill for the poor: let them eat the flesh of bulls, though they shall not drink the blood of he-goats. Which, when thou shalt have done, He will account it to thee, that hath said," If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee:" and He shall say to thee, "I was hungry, and thou gavest Me to eat."[7] "Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or shall I drink the blood of he-goats ?"

21. Say then, Lord our God, what dost Thou enjoin thy people, Thy Israel? "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise" (ver. 14). Let us also say to Him, "In me, O God, are thy vows, which I will render of prose to Thee." I had feared lest Thou mightest enjoin something which would be out of my power, which I was counting to be in my pen, and but now perchance it had been taken away by a thief. What dost Thou enjoin me? "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise" Let me revert to myself, wherein I may find what I may immolate: let me revert to myself; in myself may I find immolation of praise: be Thy altar my conscience. We are without anxiety, we go not into Arabia in quest of frankincense:[8] not any bags of covetous dealer do we sift: God requireth of us the sacrifice of praise. Zacchaeus had the sacrifice of praise in his patrimony;[9] the widow had it in her bag;[10] some poor host or other hath had it in his jar: another neither in patrimony, nor in bag, nor in jar, hath had anything, had it wholly in his heart: salvation was to the house of Zacchaeus; and more this poor widow cast in than those rich men: this man, that doth offer a cup of cold water, shall not lose his reward:[11] but there is even "peace on earth to men of good will."[12] "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise.[12] O sacrifice gratuitous, by grace given! I have not indeed bought this to offer, but Thou hast given: for not even this should I have had. And this is the immolation of the sacrifice of praise, to render thanks to Him from whom thou hast whatever of good thou hast, and by whose mercy is forgiven thee whatsoever of evil of thine thou hast. "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise: and render to the Highest thy prayers." With this odour the Lord is well pleased.[13]

22. "And call thou upon Me in the day of thy tribulation: and I will draw thee forth, and thou shall glorify Me" (ver. 15). For thou oughtest not to rely on thy powers, all thy aids are deceitful. "Upon Me call thou in the day of tribulation: I will draw thee forth, and thou shalt glorify Me." For to this end I have allowed the day of tribulation to come to thee: because perchance if thou wast not troubled, thou wouldest not call on Me: but when thou art troubled, thou callest on Me; when thou callest upon Me, I will draw thee forth; when I shah draw thee forth, thou shalt glorify Me, that thou mayest no more depart from Me. A certain man had grown dull and cold in fervour of prayer, and said, "Tribulation and grief I found, and on the Name of the Lord I called."[1] He found tribulation as it were some profitable thing; he had rotted in the slough of his sins; now he had continued without feeling, he found tribulation to be a sort of caustic and cutting. "I found," he saith, "tribulation and grief, and on the Name of the Lord I called." And truly, brethren, tribulations are known to all men. Behold those afflictions that abound in mankind; one afflicted with loss bewaileth; another smitten with bereavement mourneth; another exiled from country grieveth and desireth to return, deeming sojourning intolerable; another's vineyard is hailed upon, he observeth his labours and all his toil spent in vain. When can a human being not be made sad? An enemy he findeth in a friend. What greater misery in mankind? These things all men do deplore and grieve at, and these are tribulations: in all these they call upon the Lord, and they do rightly. Let them call upon God, He is able either to teach how it must be borne, or to heal it when borne. He knoweth how not to suffer us to be tried above that we are able to bear.[2] Let us call upon God even in those tribulations: but these tribulations do find us; as in another Psalm is written, "Helper in tribulations which have found us too much: "[3] there is a certain tribulation which we ought to find. Let such tribulations find us: there is a certain tribulation which we ought to seek and to find. What is that? The above-named felicity in this world, abundance of temporal things: that is not indeed tribulation, these are the solaces of our tribulation. Of what tribulation? Of our sojourning. For the very fact that we are not yet with God, the very fact that we are living amid trials and difficulties, that we cannot be without fear, is tribulation: for there is not that peace which is promised us. He that shall not have found this tribulation in his sojourning, doth not think of going home to his father-land. This is tribulation, brethren. Surely now we do good works, when we deal bread to the hungry, home to the stranger, and the like: tribulation even this is. For we find pitiful objects upon whom we show pity; and the pitiful case of pitiful objects maketh us compassionate. How much better now would it be with thee in that place, where thou findest no hungry man whom thou mayest feed, where thou findest no stranger whom thou mayest take in, no naked man whom thou mayest cover, no sick man whom thou mayest visit, no litigant whom thou mayest set at one! For all things in that place are most high, are true, are holy, are everlasting. Our bread in that place is righteousness, our drink there is wisdom, our garment there is immortality, our house is everlasting in the heavens, our stedfastness[4] is immortality: doth sickness come over? Doth weariness weigh down to sleep? No death, no litigation: there peace, quiet, joy, righteousness. No enemy hath entrance, no friend falleth away. What is the quiet there? If we think and observe where we are, and where He that cannot He hath promised that we are to be, from His very promise we find in what tribulation we are. This tribulation none findeth, but he that shall have sought it. Thou art whole, see if thou art miserable; for it is easy for him that is sick to find himself miserable: when thou art whole, see if thou art miserable; that thou art not yet with God. "Tribulation and grief I found, and on the Name of the Lord I called."[5] "Immolate," therefore, "to God the sacrifice of praise." Praise Him promising, praise Him calling, praise Him exhorting, praise Him helping: and understand in what tribulation thou art placed. Call upon (Him), thou shalt be drawn forth, thou shalt glorify, shalt abide.

23. But see what followeth, my brethren. For now some one or other, because God had said to him, "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise," and had enjoined in a manner this tribute, did meditate to himself and said, I will rise daily, I will proceed to Church, I will say one hymn at matins, another at vespers, a third or fourth in my house, daily I do sacrifice the sacrifice of praise, and immolate to my God. Well thou doest indeed, if thou doest this: but take heed, lest now thou be careless, because now thou doest this: and perchance thy tongue bless God, and thy life curse God. O my people, saith to thee the God of gods, the Lord that spake, "calling the earth from the rising of the sun unto the setting," though yet thou art placed amid the tares,[6] "Immolate the sacrifice of praise to thy God, and render to Him thy prayers:" but take heed lest thou live ill, and chant well. Wherefore this? For, "Unto the sinner, saith God, why dost thou tell out My judgments, and takest My Covenant in thy mouth?" (ver. 16). Ye see, brethren, with what trembling we say these words. We take the Covenant of God in our mouth, and we say these words. We take the Covenant of God in our mouth, and we preach to you the instruction and judgment of God. And what saith God to the sinner? "Why dost thou?" Doth He then forbid preachers that be sinners? And where is that, "What they say do, but what they do, do not"?[1] Where is that, "Whether in truth or on occasion Christ be preached "?[2] But these words were said, lest they should fear that hear, from whomsoever it be that they hear: not that they should be without care that speak good words, and do evil deeds. Now therefore, brethren, ye are without care: if ye hear good words ye hear God,[3] through whomsoever it be that ye may hear. But God would not dismiss without reproof them that speak: lest with their speaking alone, without care for themselves they should slumber in evil life, and say to themselves, "For God will not consign us to perdition, through whose mouth He has willed that so many good words should be spoken to His people." Nay, but hear what thou speakest, whoever thou art that speakest: and thou that writ be heard thyself, first hear thyself; and speak what a certain man doth speak in another Psalm,[4] "I will hear what in me speaketh the Lord God, for He shall speak peace to His people." What am I then, that hear not what in me He speaketh, and will that other hear what through me He speaketh? I will hear first, will hear, and chiefly I will hear what speaketh in me the Lord God, for He shall speak peace to His people. Let me hear, and "chasten my body, and to servitude subject it, lest perchance to others preaching, myself be found a cast-away."[5] "Why dost thou tell out my judgments?" Wherefore to thee what profiteth not thee? He admonisheth him to hear: not to lay down preaching, but to take up obedience. "But thou, why dost thou take My Covenant in they mouth?"

24. "But thou hatest instruction" (ver. 17). Thou hatest discipline. When I spare, thou singest and praisest: when I chasten, thou murmurest: as though, when I spare, I am thy God: and, when I chasten, I am not thy God. "I rebuke and chasten those whom I love."[6] "But thou hatest instruction: and hast thrown My sayings behind thee." The words that are said through thee, thou throwest behind thee. "And thou hast thrown My sayings behind thee:" to a place where they may not be seen by thee, but may load thee. "And thou hast thrown My sayings behind thee."

25. "If thou sawest a thief, thou didst consent unto him, and with adulterers thou didst make thy portion" (ver. 18). Lest perchance thou shouldest say, I have not committed theft, I have not committed adultery. What if he pleased thee that hath committed? Hast thou not with the very pleasing consented? Hast thou not by approval made thy portion with him that hath committed? For this is , brethren, to consent with a thief, and to make with an adulterer thy portion: for even if thou committest not, and approvest what is committed, thou art an accessory in the deed: for " the sinner is praised in the longings of his soul, and he that doeth iniquity shall be blessed."[7] Thou doest not evil things, thou praisest evil-doers. For is this a small evil? "Thou didst make thy portion with adulterers."

26. "Thy mouth hath abounded in malice, and thy tongue hath embraced deceit" (ver. 19). Of the malevolence and deceit, brethren, of certain men he speaketh, who by adulation, though they know what they hear to be evil, yet lest they offend those from whom they hear, not only by not reproving but by holding their peace do consent.[8] Too little is it, that they do not say, Thou hast done evil: but they even say, Thou hast done even well: and they know it to be evil: but their mouth aboundeth in malice, and their tongue embraceth deceit. Deceit is a sort of guile in words, of uttering one thing, thinking another. He saith not, thy tongue hath committed deceit or perpetrated deceit, but is order to point out to thee a kind of pleasure taken in the very evil doing, He hath said, "Hath embraced." It is too little that thou doest it, thou art delighted too; thou praisest openly, thou laughest to thyself. Thou dost push to destruction a man heedlessly putting forth his faults, and knowing not whether they be faults: thou that knowest it to be a fault, sayest not, "Whither art thou rushing?" If thou wert to see him heedlessly walk in the dark, where thou knewest a well to be, and wert to hold thy peace, of what sort wouldest thou be? wouldest thou not be set down for an enemy of his life ?[9] And yet if he were to fall into a well, not in soul[10] but in body he would die. He doth fall headlong into his vices, he doth expose before thee his evil doings: thou knowest them to be evil, and praisest and laughest to thyself. Oh that at length he were to be turned to God at whom thou hughest, and whom thou wouldest not reprove, and that he were to say, "Let them be confounded that say to me, Well, well."[11]

27. "Sitting against thy brother thou didst detract" (ver. 20). And this "sitting" doth belong to that whereof he hath spoken above in, "hath embraced." For he that doeth anything while standing or passing along, doth it not with pleasure: but if he for this purpose sitteth, how much leisure cloth he seek out to do it ! That very evil detraction thou wast making with diligence, thou wast making sitting; thou wouldest thereon be wholly engaged; thou wast embracing thy evil, thou wast kissing thy craftiness. "And against thy mother's son thou didst lay a stumbling-block." Who is "mother's son"? Is it not brother? He would repeat then the same that he had said above, "thy brother." Hath he intimated that any distinction must be perceived by us? Evidently, brethren, I think a distinction must be made. Brother against brother doth detract, for example's sake, as though for instance one strong, and now a doctor and scholar of some weight, doth detract from his brother, one perchance that is teaching well and walking well: but another is weak, against him he layeth a stumbling-block by detracting from the former. For when the good are detracted from by those that seem to be of some weight and to be learned, the weak fall upon the stumbling-block, who as yet know not how to judge. Therefore this weak one is called "mother's son," not yet father's, still needing milk, and hanging on the breast. He is borne as yet in the bosom of his mother the Church, he is not strong enough to draw near to the solid food of his Fathers table, but from the mother's breast he draweth sustenance, unskilled in judging, inasmuch as yet he is animal and carnal. "For the spiritual man judgeth all things,"[1] but "the animal man perceiveth not those things which are of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him."[2] To such men saith the Apostle, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as to babes in Christ I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for ye were not able, but not even now are ye able."[3] A mother I have been to you: as is said in another place, "I became a babe among you, even as a nurse cherishing her own children."[4] Not a nurse nursing children of others, but a nurse cherishing her own children. For there are mothers who when they have borne give to nurses: they that have borne cherish not their children, because they have given them to be nursed;[5] but those that cherish, cherish not their own, but those of others: but he himself had borne, he was himself cherishing, to no nurse did commit what he had borne; for he had said, "Of whom I travel again until Christ be formed in you."[6] He did cherish them, and gave milk. But there were some as it were learned and spiritual men who detracted from Paul. "His letters indeed, say they, are weighty and powerful; but the presence of his body weak, and speech contemptible: "[7] he saith himself in his Epistle, that certain his detractors had said these words. They were sitting, and were detracting against their brother, and against that their mother's son, to be fed with milk, they were laying a stumbling-block. "And against thy mothers son thou didst lay a stumbling-block."

28. "These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue" (ver. 21). Therefore the Lord our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. Now, "These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue" What is , "I held my tongue"? From vengeance I have desisted, my severity I have deferred, patience to thee I have prolonged, thy repentance I have long looked for ... "Thou hast imagined iniquity, that I shall be like unto thee;" Thou hast s imagined that I shall be like unto thee, while thou wilt not be like unto Me. For, "Be ye," he saith, "perfect, even as your Father, which is in the heavens, who maketh His sun to rise on the good and evil."[9] Him thou wouldest not copy, who giveth good things even to evil men, insomuch that sitting thou dost detract even from good men. "I will reprove thee," when "God manifest shall come, our God, and shall not keep silence," "I will reprove thee." And what to thee shall I do in reproving thee? what to thee shall I do? Now thyself thou seest not, I will make thee see thyself. Because if thou shouldest see thyself, and shouldest displease thyself, thou wouldest please Me: but because not seeing thyself thou hast pleased thyself, thou wilt displease both Me and thyself; Me when thou shalt be judged; thyself when thou shalt burn. But what to thee shall I do? He saith. "I will set thee before thy face." For why wouldest thou escape thyself? At thy back thou art to thyself, thou seest not thyself: I make thee see thyself: what behind thy back thou hast put, before thy face will I put; thou shalt see thy uncleanness, not that thou mayest amend, but that thou mayest blush . ...

29. But, "understand these things, ye that forget God" (ver. 22). See how He crieth, and keepeth not silence, spareth[10] not. Thou hadst forgotten the Lord," didst not think of thy evil life. Perceive how thou hast forgotten the Lord. "Lest at length He seize like a lion, and there be none to driven" What is "like a lion "? Like a brave one, like a mighty one, like him whom none can withstand. To this he made reference when he said, "Lion." For it is used for praise, it is used also for showing evil. The devil hath been called lion: "Your adversary," He saith, "like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom He may devour?"[1] May it not be that whereas he hath been called lion because of savage fierceness, Christ hath been called Lion for wondrous mightiness? And where is that, "The Lion hath prevailed of the tribe of

30. "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me" (ver. 23). How shall "sacrifice of praise glorify Me"? Assuredly sacrifice of praise doth no wise profit evil men, because they take Thy Covenant in their mouth, and do damnable things that displease Thine eyes. Straightway, he saith, even to them this I say, "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." For if thou livest ill and speakest good words, not yet dost thou praise: but again, if, when thou beginnest to live well, to thy merits thou dost ascribe thy living well, not yet dost thou praise. ... Therefore the Publican went down justified, rather than that Pharisee. Therefore hear ye that live well, hear ye that live ill: "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." No one offereth Me this sacrifice, and is evil. I say not, Let there not offer Me this any one that is evil; but no one doth offer Me this, that is evil. For he that praiseth, is good: because if he praiseth, he doth also live well, because if he praiseth, not only with tongue he praiseth, but life also with tongue doth agree.

31. "And there is the way whereby I will show him the salvation of God." In sacrifice of praise" is the way." What is "the salvation of God "? Christ Jesus. And how in sacrifice of praise to us is shown Christ? Because Christ with grace came to us. These words saith the Apostle: "But I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me: but that in flesh I live, in faith I live of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."[3] Acknowledge then sinners, that there would not need physician, if they were whole.[4] For Christ died for the ungodly.[5] When then they acknowledge their ungodlinesses, and first copy that Publican, saying, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner: "[6] show wounds, beseech Physician: and because they praise not themselves, but blame themselves,--"So that he that glorieth, not in himself but in the Lord may glory,"[7]--they acknowledge the cause of the coming of Christ, because for this end He came, that He might save sinners: for "Jesus Christ came," he saith, "into this world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."[8] Further, those Jews, boasting of their work, thus the same Apostle doth rebuke, in saying, that they to grace belonged not, who to their merits and their works thought that reward was owing.[9] He therefore that knoweth himself to belong to grace, doth know what is Christ and what is Christ's because he needeth grace. If grace it is called, gratis it is given; if gratis it is given, not any merits of time have preceded that it should be given. ...



PSALM 51

1. Neither must this multitude's throng be defrauded, nor their infirmity burthened. Silence we ask, and quiet, in order that our voice, after yesterday's labour, be able with some little vigour to last out. It must be believed, that your love hath met together in greater numbers to-day for nothing else, but that ye may pray for those whom an allen and perverse inclination doth keep away. For we are speaking neither of heathens nor of Jews, but of Christians: nor of those that are yet Catechumens, but of many that are even baptized, from the Layer of whom ye do no wise differ, and yet to their heart ye are unlike. For to-day how many brethren of ours we think of, and deplore their going unto vanities and lying insanities, to the neglect of that to which they have been called. Who, if in the very circus from any cause they chance to be startled, do immediately cross themselves,[11] and stand bearing It on the forehead, in the very place, from whence they had withdrawn, if they had borne It in heart. God's mercy must be implored, that He may give understanding for condemning these things, inclination to flee them, and mercy to forgive. Opportunately, then, of Penitence a Psalm to-day has been chanted. Speak we even with the absent: there will be to them for our voice your memory. Neglect not the wounded and feeble, but that ye may more easily make whole, whole ye ought to abide. Correct by reproving, comfort by addressing, set an example by living well, He will be with them that hath been with you. For now that ye have overpassed these dangers, the fountain of God's mercy is not closed Where ye have come they will come; where ye have passed they will pass. A grievous thing it is indeed, and exceeding perilous, nay ruinous, and for certain a deadly thing, that witting they sin. For in one way to these vanities doth he run that despiseth the voice of Christ; in another way, he that knoweth from what he is fleeing. But that not even of such men we ought to despair, this Psalm doth show.

2. For there is written over it the title thereof, "A Psalm of David himself, when there came to him Nathan the prophet, when he went in unto Bersabee." Bersabee was a woman, wife of another. With grief indeed we speak, and with trembling; but yet God would not have to be hushed what He hath willed to be written. I will say then not what I will, but what I am obliged; I will say not as one exhorting to imitation, but as one instructing you to real Captivated with this woman's beauty, the wife of another, the king and prophet David, from whose seed according to the flesh the Lord was to come,[1] committed adultery with her. This thing in this Psalm is not read, but in the title thereof it appeareth; but in the book of Kings[2] it is more fully read. Both Scriptures are canonical, to both without any doubt by Christians credit must be given. The sin was committed, and was written down. Moreover her husband in war he caused to be killed: and after this deed there was sent to him Nathan the prophet;[3] sent by the Lord, to reprove him for so great an outrage.

3. What men should beware of, we have said; but what if they shall have fallen they should imitate, let us hear. For many men will to fall with David, and will not to rise with David. Not then for falling is the example set forth, but if thou shalt have fallen for rising again. Take heed lest thou fall. Not the delight of the younger be the lapse of the elder, but be the fall of the elder the dread of the younger. For this it was set forth, for this was written, for this in the Church often read and chanted: let them hear that have not fallen, lest they fall; let them hear that have fallen, that they may rise. So great a man's sin is not hushed, is proclaimed in the Church. There men hear that are ill hearers, and seek for themselves countenance for sinning: they look out for means whereby they may defend what they have made ready to commit, not how they may beware of what they have not committed, and they say to themselves, If David, why not I too ? Thence that soul is more unrighteous, which, forasmuch as it hath done it because David did, therefore hath done worse than David. I will say this very thing, if I shall be able, more plainly. David had set forth to himself none for a precedent as thou hast: he had fallen by lapse of concupiscence, not by the countenance of holiness: thou dost set before thine eyes as it were a holy man, in order that thou mayest sin: thou dost not copy his holiness, but dost copy his fall Thou[4] dost love that in David, which in himself David hated: thou makest thee ready to sin, thou inclinest to sin: in order that thou mayest sin thou consultest the book of God: the Scriptures of God for this thou hearest, that thou mayest do what displeaseth God. This did not David; he was reproved by a Prophet, he stumbled not over a Prophet. But others hearing to their health, by the fall of a strong man measure their weakness: and desiring to avoid what God condemneth, from careless looking do restrain their eyes. Them they fix not upon the beauty of another's flesh, nor make themselves carries with perverse simpleness; they say not, "With good intent I have observed, of kindness I have observed, of charity I have long looked." For they set before themselves the fall of David, and they see that this great man for this purpose hath fallen, in order that little men may not be willing to look on that whereby they may fall. For they restrain their eyes from wantonness, not readily do they join themselves in company, they do not mingle with strange women, they raise not complying eyes to strange balconies, to strange terraces. For from afar David saw her with whom he was captivated.[5] Woman afar, lust near. What he saw was elsewhere, in himself that whereby he fell. This weakness of the flesh must be therefore minded, the words of the Apostle recollected, "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body."[6] He hath not said, let there not be; but, "let there not reign." There is sin in thee, when thou takest pleasure; there reigneth, if thou shalt have consented. Carnal pleasure, especially if proceeding unto unlawful and strange objects, is to be bridled, not let loose: by government to be tamed, not to be set up for government. Look and be without care, if thou hast nothing whereby thou mayest be moved. But thou makest answer, "I contain with strong resolution." Art thou any wise stronger than David ?[7]

4. He admonisheth, moreover, by such an example, that no one ought to lift himself up in prosperous circumstances. For many fear adverse circumstances, fear not prosperous circumstances. Prosperity is more perilous to soul than adversity to body. First, prosperity doth corrupt, in order that adversity may find something to break. My brethren, stricter watch must be kept against felicity. Wherefore, see ye after what manner the saying of God amid our own felicity doth take from us security: "Serve ye," He saith, "the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling."[8] In exultation, in order that we may render thanks; in trembling, lest we fall This sin did not David, when he was suffering Saul for persecutor.[9] When holy David was suffering Saul his enemy, when he was being vexed by his persecutions, when he was fleeing through divers places, in order that he might not fall into his hands, he lusted not for her that was another's, he slew not husband after committing adultery with wife. He was in the infirmity of his tribulation so much the more intimate with God as he seemed more miserable. Something useful is tribulation; useful the surgeon's lancet rather than the devil's temptation. He became secure when his enemies were overthrown, pressure was removed, swelling grew out. This example therefore doth avail to this end, that we should fear felicity. "Tribulation," he sixth, "and grief I found, and on the name of the Lord I called. "[1]

5. But it was done; I would say these words to those that have not done the like, in order that they should watch to keep their uncorruptness, and that while they take heed how a great one has fallen, they that be small should fear. But if any that hath already fallen heareth these words, and that hath in his conscience any evil thing; to the words of this Psalm let him advert; let him heed the greatness of the wound, but not despair of the majesty of the Physician. Sin with despair is certain death. Let no one therefore say, If already any evil thing I have done, already I am to be condemned: God pardoneth not such evil things, why add I not sins to sins ? I will enjoy this word in pleasure, in wantonness, in wicked cupidity: now hope of amendment having been lost, let me have even what I see, if I cannot have what I believe. This Psalm then, while it maketh heedful those that have not believed, so doth not will them that have fallen to be despaired of. Whoever thou art that hast sinned, and hesitatest to exercise penitence[2] for thy sin, despairing of thy salvation, hear David groaning. To thee Nathan the prophet hath not been sent, David himself hath been sent to thee Hear him crying, and with him cry: hear him groaning, and with him groan; hear him weeping, and mingle tears; hear him amended, and with him rejoice. If from thee sin could not be excluded, be not hope of pardon excluded. There was sent to that man Nathan the prophet, observe the king's humility.[3] He rejected not the words of him giving admonition, he said not, Darest thou speak to me, a king? An exited king heard a prophet, let His humble people hear Christ.

6. Hear therefore these words, and say thou with him: "Have pity upon me, O God, after Thy great mercy" (ver. 1). He that imploreth great mercy, confesseth great misery. Let them seek a little mercy of Thee, that have sinned in ignorance: "Have pity," he sixth, "upon me, after Thy great mercy." Relieve a deep wound after Thy great healing. Deep is what I have, but in the Almighty I take refuge. Of my own so deadly wound I should despair, unless I could find so great a Physician. "Have pity upon me, O God, after Thy great mercy: and after the multitude of Thy pities, blot out my iniquity." What he saith, "Blot out my iniquity," is this, "Have pity upon me, O God." And what he saith, "After the multitude of Thy pities," is this, "After Thy great mercy." Because great is the mercy, many are the mercies; and of Thy great mercy, many are Thy pitying. Thou dost regard mockers to amend them, dost regard ignorant men to teach them, dost regard men confessing to pardon. Did he this in ignorance? A certain man had done some, aye many evil things he had done; "Mercy," he saith, "I obtained, because ignorant I did it in unbelief."[4] This David could not say, "Ignorant I did it." For he was not ignorant how very evil a thing was the touching of another's wife, and how very evil a thing was the killing of the husband, who knew not of it, and was not even angered. They obtain therefore the mercy of the Lord that have in ignorance done it; and they that have knowing done it, obtain not any mercy it may chance, but "great mercy."

7. "More and more wash me from mine unrighteousness" (ver. 2). What is , "More and more wash "? One much stained. More and more wash the sins of one knowing. Thou that hast washed off the sins of one ignorant. Not even thus is it to be despaired of Thy mercy. "And from my delinquency purge Thou me." According to the manner in which He is physician, offer a recompense. He is God, offer sacrifice. What wilt thou give that thou mayest be purged? For see upon whom thou callest; upon a Just One thou callest. He hateth sins, if He is just; He taketh vengeance upon sins, if He is just; thou wilt not be able to take away from the Lord God His justice: entreat mercy, but observe the justice: there is mercy to pardon the sinner, there is justice to punish the sin. What then? Thou askest mercy; shall sin unpunished abide? Let David answer, let those that have fallen answer, answer with David, and say, No, Lord, no sin of mine shall be unpunished; I know the justice of Him whose mercy I ask: it shall not be unpunished, but for this reason I will not that Thou punish me, because I punish my sin: for this reason I beg that Thou pardon, because I acknowledge.

8. "For mine iniquity I acknowledge, and my delinquency is before me ever" (ver. 3). I have not put behind my back what I have done, I look not at others, forgetful of myself, I pretend not to pull out a straw from my brother's eye, when there is a beam in my eye;[5] my sin is before me, not behind me. For it was behind me when to me was sent the Prophet, and set before me the parable of the poor man's sheep.[6] For saith Nathan the Prophet to David, "There was a certain rich man having very many sheep; but a poor man his neighbour had one little ewe sheep, which in his bosom and of his own food he was feeding: there came a stranger to the rich man, nothing from his flock he took, for the lithe ewe sheep of the poor man his neighbour he lusted; her he slew for the stranger: what doth he deserve?" But the other being angry doth pronounce sentence: then the king, evidently knowing not wherein he had been taken,[1] declared the rich man deserving of death, and that the sheep be restored fourfold. Most sternly and most justly. But his sin was not yet before him, behind his back was what he had done: his own iniquity he did not yet acknowledge, and therefore another's he did not pardon. But the Prophet, being for this purpose sent, took from his back the sin, and before his eyes placed it, so that he might see that sentence so stern to have been pronounced against himself. For cutting and healing his heart's wound, he made a lancet of his tongue. ...

9. "Against Thee alone have I sinned, and before Thee an evil thing have I done" (ver. 4). What is this? For before men was not another's wife debauched and husband slain? Did not all men know what David had done?[2] What is, "Against Thee alone have I sinned, and before Thee an evil thing have I done." Because Thou alone art without sin. He is a just punisher that hath nothing in Him to be punished; He is a just reprover that hath nothing in Him to be reproved. "That thou mayest be justified in Thy sayings, and conquer when Thou art judged." To whom he speaketh, brethren, to whom he speaketh, is difficult to understand. To God surely he speaketh, and it is evident that God the Father is not judged. What is, "And conquer when Thou art judged"? He seeth the future Judge to be judged, one just by sinners to be judged, and therein conquering, because in Him was nothing to be judged. For alone among men could truly say the God-Man, "If ye have found in Me sin, say."[3] But perchance there was what escaped men, and they found not what was really there, but was not manifest. In another place[4] He saith, "Behold there cometh the Prince of the world," being an acute observer of all sins; "Behold," He saith, "there cometh the Prince of this world," with death afflicting sinners, presiding over death: for, "By the malice of the devil death came into the world."[5] "Behold," He saith, "there cometh the Prince of the world:"--He said these words dose upon His Passion:--" and in Me he shall find nothing," nothing of sin, nothing worthy of death, nothing worthy of condemnation. And as if it were said to Him, Why then dost Thou die? He continueth and saith, "But that all men may know that I do the will of My Father; arise, let us go hence." I suffer, He saith, undeserving, for men deserving, in order that them I may make deserving of My Life, for whom I undeservedly suffer their death. To Him then, having no sin, saith on the present occasion the Prophet David, "Against Thee only have I sinned, and before Thee an evil thing have I done, that Thou mayest be justified in Thy sayings, and conquer when Thou art judged." For Thou overcomest all men, all judges; and he that deemeth himself just, before Thee is unjust: Thou alone justly judgest, having been unjustly judged, That hast power to lay down Thy life, and hast power again to take it.[6] Thou conquerest, then, when Thou art judged. All men Thou overcomest, because Thou art more than men, and by Thee were men made.

10. "For, behold, in iniquities I was conceived" (ver. 6). As though he were saying, They are conquered that have done what thou, David, hast done: for this is not a little evil and little sin, to wit, adultery and man-slaying. What of them that from the day that they were born of their mother's womb, have done no such thing? even to them dost thou ascribe some sins, in order that He may conquer all men when He beginneth to be judged. David hath taken upon him the person of mankind, and hath heeded the bonds of all men, hath considered the offspring of death, hath adverted to the origin of iniquity, and he saith, "For, behold, in iniquities I was conceived." Was David born of adultery; being born of Jesse,[7] a righteous man, and his own wife? What is it that he saith himself to have been in iniquity conceived, except that iniquity is drawn from Adam ? Even the very bond of death, with iniquity itself is engrained? No man is born without bringing punishment, bringing desert of punishment. A Prophet saith also in another placer "No one is clean in Thy sight, not even an infant, whose life is of one day upon earth." For we know both by the Baptism of Christ that sins are loosed, and that the Baptism of Christ availeth the remission of sins. If infants are every way innocent, why do mothers run with them when sick to the Church?[9] What by that Baptism, what by that remission is put away ? An innocent one I see that rather weeps than is angry. What doth Baptism wash off? what doth that Grace loose ? There is loosed the offspring of sin. For if that infant could speak to thee, it would say, and if it had the understanding which David had, it would answer thee, Why heedest thou me, an infant? Thou dost not indeed see my actions: but I in iniquity have been conceived, "And in sins hath my mother nourished me in the womb."

Apart from this bond of mortal[1] concupiscence was Christ horn without a male, of a virgin conceiving by the Holy Ghost. He cannot be said to have been conceived in iniquity, it cannot be said, In sins His mother nourished Him in the womb, to whom was said," The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the Virtue of the Highest shall overshadow thee."[2] It is not therefore because it is sin to have to do with wives that men are conceived in iniquity, and in sins nourished in the womb by their mother; but because that which is made is surely made of flesh deserving punishment.[3] For the punishment of the flesh is death, and surely there is in it liability to death itself. Whence the Apostle spoke not of the body as if to die, but as if dead: "The body indeed is dead," he saith, "because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."[4] How then without bond of sin is born that which is conceived and sown of a body dead because of sin? This chaste operation in a married person hath not sin, but the origin of sin draweth with it condign punishment. For there is no husband that, because he is an husband, is not subject to death, or that is subject to death for any other reason but because of sin. For even the Lord was subject to death, but not on account of sin: He took upon Him our punishment, and so looseth our guilt. With reason then, "In Adam all die, but in Christ shall all be made alive."[5] For, "Through one man," saith the Apostle, "sin hath entered into this world, and through sin death, and so hath passed unto all men, in that all have sinned."[6] Definite is the sentence: "In Adam," he saith, "all have sinned." Alone then could such an infant be innocent, as hath not been born of the work of Adam.

11. "For, behold, truth Thou hast loved uncertain and hidden things of Thy wisdom, Thou hast manifested to me" (ver. 6). That is, Thou hast not left unpunished even the sins of those whom Thou dost pardon. "Truth Thou hast loved:" so mercy Thou hast granted first,[7] as that Thou shouldest also preserve truth. Thou pardonest one confessing, pardonest, but only if he punisheth himself: so there are preserved mercy and truth: mercy because man is set free; truth, because sin is punished. "Uncertain and hidden things of Thy wisdom Thou hast manifested to me." What "hidden things"? What "uncertain things"? Because God pardoneth even such. Nothing is so hidden, nothing so uncertain.[8] For this uncertainty the Ninevites repented, for they said, though after the threatenings of the Prophet, though after that cry, "Three clays and Nineve shall be overthrown:"[9] they said to themselves, Mercy must be implored; they said in this sort reasoning among themselves, "Who knoweth whether God may turn for the better His sentence, and have pity?"[10] It was "uncertain," when it is said, "Who knoweth?" on an uncertainty they did repent,[11] certain mercy they earned: they prostrated them in tears, in fastings, in sackcloth and ashes they prostrated them, groaned, wept, God spared. Nineve stood: was Nineve overthrown? One way indeed it seemeth to men, and another way it seemed to God. But I think that it was fulfilled that the Prophet had foretold. Regard what Nineve was, and see how it was overthrown; overthrown in evil, builded in good; just as Saul the persecutor was overthrown, Paul the preacher builded.[12] Who would not say that this city, in which we now are, was happily overthrown, if all those madmen, leaving their triflings,[13] were to run together to the Church with contrite heart, and were to call upon God's mercy for their past doings? Should we not say, Where is that Carthage? Because there is not what there was, it is overthrown: but if there is what there was not, it is builded. So is said to Jeremiah, "Behold, I will give to thee to root up, to dig under, to overthrow, to destroy," and again, "to build, and to plant."[14] Thence is that voice of the Lord, "I will smite and I will heal."[15] He smiteth the rottenness of the deed, He healeth the pain of the wound. Physicians do thus when they cut; they smite and heal; they arm themselves in order to strike, they carry steel, and come to cure. But because great were the sins of the Ninevites, they said, "Who knoweth?" This uncertainty had God disclosed to His servant David. For when he had said, before the Prophet standing and convicting him, "I have sinned:" straightway he heard from the Prophet, that is, from the Spirit of God which was in the Prophet, "Thy sin is put away from thee."[16] "Uncertain and hidden things" of His wisdom He manifested to him.[17]

12. "Thou shall sprinkle me," he saith, "with hyssop, and I shall be cleansed" (ver. 7). Hyssop we know to be a herb humble but healing: to the rock it is said to adhere with roots. Thence in a mystery the similitude of cleansing the heart has been taken. Do thou also take hold, with[1] the root of thy love, on thy Rock: be humble in thy humble God, in order that thou mayest be exalted in thy glorified God. Thou shalt be sprinkled with hyssop, the humility of Christ shall cleanse thee. Despise not the herb, attend to the efficacy of the medicine. Something further I will say, which we are wont to hear from physicians, or to experience in sick persons. Hyssop, they say, is proper for purging the lungs. In the lung is wont to be noted pride: for there is inflation, there breathing. It was said of Saul the persecutor as of Saul the proud, that he was going to bind Christians, breathing slaughter:[2] he was breathing out slaughter, breathing out blood, his lung not yet cleansed. Hear also in this place one humbled, because with hyssop purged: "Thou shalt wash me," that is, shalt cleanse the: "and above snow I shall be whitened." "Although," he saith, "your sins shall have been like scarlet, like snow I will whiten."[3] Out of such men Christ doth present to Himself a vesture without spot and wrinkle.[4] Further, His vesture on the mount, which shone forth like whitened snow,[5] signified the Church cleansed from every spot of sin.

13. But where is humility from hyssop? Hear what followeth: "To my hearing Thou shall give exultation and gladness, and bones humbled shall exult" (ver. 8). I will rejoice in hearing Thee, not in speaking against Thee. Thou hast sinned, why defendest thou thyself? Thou wilt speak: suffer thou; hear, yield to divine words, lest thou be put to confusion, and be still more wounded: sin hath been committed, be it not defended: to confession let it come, not to defence. Thou engagest thyself as defender of thy sin, thou art conquered: no innocent patron hast thou engaged, thy defence is not profitable to thee. For who art thou that defendest thyself? Thou art meet to accuse thyself. Say not, either, "I have done nothing;" or, "What great thing have I done?" or, "Other men as well have done." If in doing sin thou sayest thou hast done nothing, thou wilt be nothing, thou wilt receive nothing: God is ready to give indulgence, thou closest the door against thyself: He is ready to give, do not oppose the bar of defence, but open the bosom of confession. "To my hearing Thou shall give exultation and gladness." ...

14. "Turn Thou away Thy face from my sins, and all mine iniquities blot out" (ver. 9). For now bones humbled exult, now with hyssop cleansed, humble I have become. "Turn Thou away Thy face," not from me, but "from my sins." For in another place praying he saith, "Turn not away Thy face from me."[6] He that would not that God's face be turned away from himself, would that God's face be turned away from his sins. For to sin, when God turneth not Himself away, he adverteth: if he adverteth, he animadverteth. "And all mine iniquities blot out." He is busied[7] with that capital sin: he reckoneth on more, he would have all his iniquities to be blotted out: he relieth on the Physician's hand, on that "great mercy," upon which he hath called in the beginning of the Psalm: "All mine iniquities blot out." God turneth away His face, and so blotteth out; by "turning away" His face, sins He blotteth out. By "turning towards," He writeth them. Thou hast heard of Him blotting out by turning away, hear of Him by turning towards, doing what? "But the countenance of the Lord is upon men doing evil things, that He may destroy from the earth the remembrance of them: "[8] He shall destroy the remembrance of them,[9] not by "blotling out their sins." But here he doth ask what? "Turn away Thy face from my sins." Well he asketh. For he himself doth not turn away his face from his own sins, saying, "For my sin I acknowledge." With reason thou askest and well askest, that God turn away from thy sin, if thou from thence dost not turn away thy face: but if thou settest thy sin at thy back, God doth there set His face. Do thou turn sin before thy face, if thou wilt that God thence turn away His face; and then safely thou askest, and He heareth.

15. "A clean heart create in me, O God" (ver. 10). "Create"--he meant[10] to say, "as it were begin something new." But, because repentant he was praying (that had committed some sin, which before he had committed, he was more innocent), after what manner he hath said "create" he showeth. "And a right spirit renew in my inner parts." By my doing, he saith, the uprightness of my spirit hath been made old and bowed. For he saith in another Psalm, "They have bowed my soul."[11] And when a man cloth make himself stoop unto earthly lusts, he is "bowed" in a manner, but when he is made erect for things above, upright is his heart made, in order that God may be good to him. For, "How good is the God of Israel to the upright of heart! "[12]Moreover, brethren, listen. Sometimes God in this world chastiseth for his sin him that He pardoneth in the world to come. For even to David himself, to whom it had been already said by the Prophet, "Thy sin is put away,"[1] there happened certain things which God had threatened for that very sin.[2] For his son Abessalom against him waged bloody war, and many ways humbled his father.[3] He was walking in grief, in the tribulation of his humiliation, so resigned to God, that, ascribing to Him all that was just, he confessed that he was suffering nothing underservedly, having now an heart upright, to which God was not displeasing. A slanderous person and one throwing in his teeth harsh curses[4] he patiently heard, one of the soldiers on the opposite side, that were with his unnatural son. And when he was heaping curses upon the king, one of the companions of David, enraged, would have gone and smitten him; but he is kept back by David. And he is kept back how? For that he said, God sent him to curse me. Acknowledging his guilt he embraced his penance, seeking glory not his own, praising the Lord in that good which he had, praising the Lord in that which he was suffering, "blessing the Lord alway, ever His praise was in his mouth."[5] Such are all the upright in heart: not those crooked persons who think themselves upright and God crooked: who when they do any evil thing, rejoice; when they suffer any evil thing, blaspheme; nay, if set in tribulation and scourging, they say from their distorted heart, "O God, what have I done to Thee?" Truly it is because they have done nothing. to God, for they have done all to themselves. "And an upright spirit, renew in my inner parts."

16. "Cast me not forth from Thy face" (ver. 11). Turn away Thy face from my sins: and "cast me not forth from Thy face." Whose face he feareth, upon the face of the Same he calleth. "And Thy Holy Spirit take not away from me." For in one confessing there is the Holy Spirit. Even now, to the gift of the Holy Spirit it belongeth, that what thou hast done displeaseth thee. The unclean spirit sins do please; the Holy One they displease. Though then thou still implore pardon, yet thou art joined to God on the other part, because the evil thing that thou hast committed displeaseth thee: for the same thing displeaseth both thee and Him. Now, to assail thy fever, ye are two, thou and the Physician. For the reason that there cannot be confession of sin and punishment of sin in a man of himself: when one is angry with himself, and is displeasing to himself, then it is not without the gift of the Holy Spirit, nor doth he say, Thy Holy Spirit give to me, but, "Take not away from me."

17. "Give back to me the exultation of Thy salvation"'[6] (ver. 12). "Give back" what I had; what by sinning I had lost: to wit, of Thy Christ. For who without Him can be made whole? Because even before that He was Son of Mary, "In the beginning He was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;"[7] and so, by the holy fathers a future dispensation of flesh taken upon Him, was looked for;[8] as is believed by us to have been done. Times are changed, not faith. "And with Principal Spirit confirm me." Some have here understood the Trinity in God, Itself God; the dispensation of Flesh being excepted therefrom: since it is written, "God is a Spirit."[9] For that which is not body, and yet is, seemeth to exist in such sort as that it is spirit. Therefore some understand here the Trinity spoken of: "In upright Spirit," the Son; in "Holy Spirit," Holy Ghost; in "Principal Spirit," Father.[10] It is not any heretical opinion, therefore, whether this be so, or whether "upright Spirit" He would have to be taken of man himself (when He saith, "An upright spirit renew in my inner parts"), which I have bowed and distorted by sinning, so that in that case the Holy Spirit be Himself the Principal Spirit: which also he would not have to be taken away from him, and thereby would have himself to be confirmed therein.

18. But see what he annexeth: "With Principal Spirit," he saith, "confirm Thou me." Wherein "confirm"? Because Thou hast pardoned me, because I am secure, that what Thou hast forgiven is not to be ascribed, on this being made secure and with this grace confirmed, therefore I am not ungrateful. But I shall do what? "I would teach unrighteous men Thy ways" (ver. 13). Being myself of the unrighteous" (that is, one that was myself an unrighteous man, now no longer unrighteous; the Holy Spirit not having been taken away from me, and I being confirmed with Principal Spirit). "I would teach unrighteous men Thy ways." What ways wilt thou teach unrighteous men? "And ungodly men to Thee shall be converted." If David's sin is counted for ungodliness, let not ungodly men despair of themselves, forasmuch as God hath spared an ungodly man; but let them take heed that to Him they be converted, that His ways they learn. But if David's deed is not counted for ungodliness, but this is properly call ungodliness, namely, to apostatize from God, not to worship one God, or never to have worshipped, or to have forsaken, Him whom one did worship, then what he saith hath the force of superabundance, "And ungodly men shall to Thee be converted." So full art thou of the fatness of mercy, that for those converted to Thee, not only sinners of any sort, but even ungodly, there is no cause for despair. Wherefore? That believing on Him that justifieth an ungodly man, their faith may be counted for righteousness.[1]

19. "Deliver me from bloods, O God, God of my health" (ver. 14). The Latin translator hath expressed, though by a word not Latin, yet an accuracy from the Greek.[2] For we all know that in Latin, sanguines (bloods) are not spoken of, nor yet sanguina (bloods in the neuter), nevertheless because the Greek translator hath thus used the plural number, not without reason, but because he found this in the original language the Hebrew, a godly translator hath preferred to use a word not Latin, rather than one not exact. Wherefore then hath he said in the plural number, "From bloods"? In many bloods, as in the origin of the sinful flesh, many sins he would have to be understood. The Apostle having regard to the very sins which come of the corruption of flesh and blood, saith, "Flesh and blood shall not possess the kingdom of God."[3] For doubtless, after the true faith of the same Apostle, that flesh shall rise again and shall itself gain incorruption, as He saith Himself, "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal put on immortality."[4] Because then this corruption is of sin, by the name thereof sins are called. In like manner as both that morsel of flesh and member which playeth in the mouth when we articulate words is called a tongue, and that is called a tongue which by the tongue is made, so we call one tongue the Greek, another the Latin; for the flesh is not diverse, but the sound. In the same manner, then, as the speech which is made by the tongue is called a tongue; so also the iniquity which is made by blood is called blood. Heeding, then, his many iniquities, as[5] in the expression above,[6] "And all my iniquities blot out," and ascribing them to the corruption of flesh and blood, "Free me," he saith, "from bloods: "that is, free me from iniquities, cleanse me from all corruption. ... Not yet is the substance, but certain hope. "And my tongue shall exult of Thy righteousness."

20. "O Lord, my lips Thou shall open, and my mouth shall tell of Thy praise" (ver. 15). "Thy praise," because[7] I have been created: "Thy praise," because sinning I have not been forsaken: "Thy praise," because I have been admonished to confess: "Thy praise," because in order that I might be secured I have been cleansed.

21. "Because if Thou hadst willed sacrifice, I would have given it surely" (ver. 16). David was living at that time when sacrifices of victim animals were offered to God, and he saw these times that were to be. Do we not perceive ourselves in these words? Those sacrifices were figurative, foretelling the One Saving Sacrifice. Not even we have been left without a Sacrifice to offer to God. For hear what he saith, having a concern for his sin, and wishing the evil thing which he hath done to be forgiven him: "If Thou hadst willed;" he saith, "sacrifice, I would have given it surely. With holocausts Thou wilt not be delighted." Nothing shall we therefore offer? So shall we come to God? And whence shall we propitiate Him? Offer; certainly in thyself thou hast what thou mayest offer. Do not from without fetch frankincense,[8] but say, "In me are, O God, Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee."[9] Do not from without seek cattle to slay, thou hast in thyself what thou mayest kill. "Sacrifice to God is a spirit troubled, a heart contrite and humbled God despiseth not" (ver. 17). Utterly he despiseth bull, he-goat, ram: now is not the time that these should be offered. They were offered when they indicated something, when they promised something; when the things promised come, the promises are taken away. "A heart contrite and humbled God despiseth not." Ye know that God is high: if thou shalt have made thyself high, He will be from thee; if thou shall have humbled thyself, He will draw near to thee.

22. See who this is: David as one man was seeming to implore; see ye here our image and the type of the Church.

"Deal kindly, O Lord, in Thy good will with Sion" (ver. 18). With this Sion deal kindly. What is Sion? A city holy. What is a city holy? That which cannot be hidden, being upon a mountain established. Sion in prospect, because it hath prospect of something which it hopeth for. For Sion is interpreted" prospect," and Jerusalem, "vision of peace." Ye perceive then yourselves to be in Sion and in Jerusalem, if being sure ye look for hope that is to be, and if ye have peace with God. "And be the walls of Jerusalem builded." "Deal kindly, O Lord, in Thy good will with Sion, and be the walls of Jerusalem builded." For not to herself let Sion ascribe her merits: do Thou with her deal kindly, "Be the walls of Jerusalem builded:" be the battlements of our immortality laid, in faith and hope and charity.

23. "Then Thou shalt accept the sacrifice of righteousness" (ver. 19). But now sacrifice for iniquity, to wit, a spirit troubled, and a heart humbled; then the sacrifice of righteousness, praises alone. For, "Blessed they that dwell in Thy house, for ever and ever they shall praise Thee:"[10] for this is the sacrifice of righteousness. "Oblations and holocausts." What are "holocausts"? A whole victim by fire consumed. When a whole beast was laid upon the altar with fire to be consumed, it was called a holocaust. May divine fire take us up whole, and that fervour catch us whole. What fervour? "Neither is there that hideth himself from the heat thereof."[1] What fervour? That whereof speaketh the Apostle:" In spirit fervent."[2] Be not merely our soul taken up by that divine fire of wisdom, but also our body; that[3] it may earn their immortality; so be it lifted up for a holocaust, that death be swallowed into victory. "Oblations and holocausts." "Then shall they lay upon thine altar calves." Whence "calves"? What shall He therein choose? Will it be the innocence of the new age, or necks freed from the yoke of the law? ...



PSALM 52

1. The title of the Psalm hath: "At the end, understanding of David, when there came Doeg the Edomite arid told Saul, David hath come into the house of Abimelech:" whereas we read that he had come into the house of Achimelech. And it may chance that we do not unreasonably suppose, that because of the similarity of a name and the difference of one syllable, or rather of one letter, the titles have been varied. In the manuscripts, however, of the Psalms, when we looked into them, rather Abimelech we have found than Achimelech. And since in another place thou hast a most evident Psalm, intimating not a dissimilarity of name, but an utterly different name; when, for instance, David changed his face before King Achish, not before king Abimelech, and he sent him away, and he departed: and yet the title of the Psalm is thus written, "When he changed his countenance in the presence of Abimelech"[5]--the very change of name maketh us the rather intent upon a mystery, lest thou shouldest pursue the quasi-facts of history, and despise the sacred veilings. ...

2. Observe ye two kinds of men; the one of men labouring, the other of those among whom they labour: the one of men thinking of earth, the other of heaven: the one of men weighing down their heart unto the deep, the other of men with Angels their heart conjoining: the one trusting in earthly things, wherein this world aboundeth, the other confiding in heavenly things, which God, who lieth not, hath promised. But mingled are these kinds of men. We see now the citizen of Jerusalem, citizen of the kingdom of heaven, have some office upon earth: to wit, one weareth purple, is a Magistrate, is AEdile, is Proconsul, is Emperor, doth direct the earthly republic: but he hath his heart above, if he is a Christian, if he is a believer, if he is godly, if he is despising those things wherein he is, and trusteth in that wherein he is not yet. Of which kind was that holy woman Esther, who, though she was wife of a king, incurred the danger of interceding for her countrymen: and when she was praying before God, where she could not lie, in her prayer said, that her royal ornaments were to her but as the cloth of a menstruous woman.[6] Despair we not then of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven, when we see them engaged in any of Babylon's matters, doing something earthly in republic earthly: nor again let us forthwith congratulate all men that we see doing matters heavenly; because even the sons of pestilence sit sometimes in the seat of Moses, of whom is said, "What things they say, do ye: but what things they do, do not: for they say, and do not."[7] Those, amid earthly things, lift up heart unto heaven, these, amid heavenly words, trail heart upon earth. But there will come time of winnowing, when both are to be severed with greatest diligence, in order that no grain may pass over unto the heap of chaff that is to be burned, that not one single straw may pass over to the mass that is to be stored in the barn.[8] So long as then now it is mingled, hear we thence our voice, that is, voice of the citizens of the kingdom of heaven (for to this we ought to aspire, to bear with evil men here, rather than be borne with by good men): and let us conjoin ourselves to this voice, both with ear and with tongue, and with heart and work. Which if we shall have done, we are here speaking in those things which we hear. Let us therefore speak first of the evil body of kingdom earthly.

3. "Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?" (ver. 1). Observe, my brethren, the glorying of malignity, the glorying of evil men. Where is glorying? "Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?" That is, he that in malice is mighty, why doth he glory? There is need that a man be mighty, but in goodness, not in malice. Is it any great thing to glory in malice? To build a house doth belong to few men, any ignorant man you please can pull down. To sow wheat, to dress the crop, to wait until it ripen, and in that fruit on which one has laboured to rejoice, doth belong to few men: with one spark any man you please can burn all the crop. To breed an infant, when born to feed him, to educate, to bring him on to youth's estate, is a great task: to kill him in one moment of time any one you please is able. Therefore those things which are done for destruction, are most easily done. "He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord: "[1] he that glorieth, let him glory in goodness. Thou gloriest, because thou art mighty in evil. What art thou about to do, O mighty man, what art thou about to do, boasting thyself much? Thou art about to kill a man: this thing also a scorpion, this also one fever, this also a poisonous fungus can do. To this is thy mightiness reduced, that it be made equal to a poisonous fungus? This therefore do the good citizens of Jerusalem, who not in malice but in goodness glory: firstly, that not in themselves, but in the Lord they glory. Secondly, that those things which make for edification they earnestly do, and do such things as are strong to abide: but things which make for destruction they may do, for the discipline of men advancing, not for the oppression of the innocent. To this mightiness then that earthly body being compared, why may it not hear out of these words, "Why doth he glory in malice that is mighty?"

4. "In iniquity the whole day upon injustice hath thy tongue thought" (ver. 2): that is, in the whole of time, without weariness, without intermission, without cessation. And when thou doest not, thou thinkest; so that when anything of evil is away from thy hands, from thy heart it is not away; either thou doest an evil thing, or while thou canst not do, thou sayest an evil thing, that is, thou evil-speakest: or when not even this thou canst do, thou wiliest and thinkest an evil thing. "The whole day," then, that is, without intermission. We expect punishment to this man. Is he to himself a small punishment? Thou threatenest him: thou, when thou threatenest him, wilt send him whither? Unto evil? Send him away unto himself. In order that thou mayest vent much rage, thou art going to give him into the power of beasts: unto himself he is worse than beasts. For a beast can mangle his body: of himself he cannot leave his heart whole. Within, against himself he doth rage of himself, and dost thou from without seek for stripes? Nay, pray God for him, that he may be set free from himself. Nevertheless in this Psalm, my brethren, there is not a prayer for evil men, or against evil men, but a prophecy of what is to result to evil men. Think not therefore that the Psalm of ill-will saith anything: for it is said in the spirit of prophecy.

5. There followeth then what? All thy might and all thy thought of iniquity all the day, and meditation of malignity in thy tongue without intermission, hath performed what, done what? "As with a sharp razor thou hast done deceit" (ver. 3). See what do evil men to Saints, they scrape their hair. What is it that I have said? If there be such citizens of Jerusalem, that hear the voice of their Lord, of their King, saying, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:" that hear the voice which but now from the Gospel hath been read, " What doth it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and of himself make wreck:"[2] they despise all present good things, and above all life itself. And what is Doeg's razor to do to a man on this earth meditating on the kingdom of heaven, and about to be in the kingdom of heaven, having with him God, and about to abide with God? What is that razor to do? Hair it is to scrape, it is to make a man bald. And this belongeth to Christ, who in the Place of a Skull was crucified.[3] It maketh also the son of Core, which is interpreted baldness.[4] For this hair signifieth a superfluity of things temporal. Which hairs indeed are not made by God superfluously on the body of men, but for a sort of ornament: yet because without feeling they are cut off, they that cleave to the Lord with their heart, so have these earthly things as they have hair. But sometimes even something of good with "hair" is wrought, when thou breakest bread to the hungry, the poor without roof thou bringest into thy house; if thou shalt have seen one naked, thou coverest him:[5] lastly, the Martyrs themselves also imitating the Lord, blood for the Church shedding, hearing that voice, "As Christ laid down His life for us, so also ought we also to lay down for the brethren," [6] in a certain way with their hair did good to us, that is, with those things which that razor can lop off or scrape. But that therefore even with the very hair some good can be done, even that woman a sinner intimated, who, when she had wept over the feet of the Lord, with her hair wiped what with tears she wetted? Signifying what? That when thou shalt have pitied any one, thou oughtest to relieve him also if thou canst. For when thou hast pity, thou sheddest as it were tears: when thou relievest, thou wipest with hair. And if this to any one, how much more to the feet of the Lord. The feet of the Lord are what? The holy Evangelists, whereof is said, "How beautiful are the feet of them that tell of peace, that tell of good things!"[8] Therefore like a razor let Doeg whet his tongue, let him whet deceit as much as he may: he will take away superfluous temporal things; will he necessary things everlasting?

6. "Thou hast loved malice above benignity" (ver. 4). Before thee was benignity; herself thou shouldest have loved. For thou wast not going to expend anything, nor wast thou going to fetch something to love by a distant voyage. Benignity is before thee, iniquity before thee: compare and choose. But perchance thou hast an eye wherewith thou seest malignity, and hast no eye wherewith thou seest benignity. Woe to the iniquitous heart. What is worse, it doth turn away itself, that it may not see what it is able to see. For what of such hath been said in another place? "He would not understand that he might do good."[1] For it is not said, he could not: but "he would not," he saith, "understand that he might do good," he closed his eyes from present light. And what followeth? "Of iniquity he hath meditated in his bed;" that is, in the inner secrecy of his heart. Some reproach of this kind is heaped upon this Doeg the Edomite, a malignant body, a motion of earth, not abiding, not heavenly. "Thou hast loved malignity above benignity." For wilt thou know how an evil man doth see both, and the former he doth rather choose, from the other doth turn himself away? Wherefore doth he cry out when he suffereth anything unjustly? Wherefore doth he then exaggerate as much as he can the iniquity, and praise benignity, censuring him that hath wrought in him malignity above benignity? Be he then a rule to himself for seeing: out of himself he shall be judged. Moreover, if he do what is written, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself;"[2] and, "Whatsoever good things ye will that men should do unto you, these also do ye do unto them:"[3] at home he hath means of knowing, because what on himself he will not have to be done, he ought not to do to another. "Thou hast loved malice above benignity." Iniquitously, inordinately, perversely thou wouldest raise water above oil:[4] the water will be sunk, the oil will remain above. Thou wouldest under darkness place a light: the darkness will be put to flight, the light will remain. Above heaven thou wouldest place earth, by its weight the earth will fall into its place. Thou therefore wilt be sunk by loving malice above benignity. For never will malice overcome benignity. "Thou hast loved malice above benignity: iniquity more than to speak of equity." Before thee is equity, before thee is iniquity: one tongue thou hast, whither thou wilt thou turnest it: wherefore then rather to iniquity and not to equity? Food of bitterness dost thou not give to thy belly, and food of iniquity dost thou give to thy malignant tongue? As thou choosest whereon to live, so choose what thou mayest speak. Thou preferrest iniquity to equity, and preferrest malice to benignity; thou indeed preferrest, but above what can ever He but benignity and equity? But thou, by placing thyself in a manner upon those things which it is necessary should go beneath, wilt not make them to be above good things, but thou with them wilt be sunk unto evil things.

7. Because of this there followeth in the Psalm, "Thou hast loved all words of sinking under" (ver. 5). Rescue therefore thyself, if thou canst, from sinking 'under. From shipwreck thou art fleeing, and dost embrace lead! If thou wilt not sink, catch at a plank, be borne on wood, let the Cross carry thee through. But now because thou art a Doeg the Edomite, a "motion," and "of earth," thou doest what? "Thou hast loved all words of sinking-under, a tongue deceitful." This hath preceded, words of sinking-under have followed a tongue deceitful. What is a tongue deceitful? A minister of guile is a tongue deceitful, of men bearing one thing in heart, another thing from mouth bringing forth. But in these is overthrowing, in these sinking under.

8. "Wherefore God shall destroy thee at the end" (ver. 6): though now thou seemest to flourish like grass in the field before the heat of the sun. For, "All flesh is grass, and the brightness of man as the bloom of grass: the grass hath withered, and the bloom hath fallen down: but the word of the Lord abideth for everlasting."[5] Behold that to which thou mayest bind thyself, to what[6] "abideth for everlasting." For if to grass, and to the bloom of grass, thou shalt have bound thyself, since the grass shall wither, and the bloom shall fall down, "God shall destroy thee at the end: "and if not now, certainly at the end He shall destroy, when that winnowing shall have come, and the heap of chaff from the solid grain shall have been separated.[7] Is not the solid grain for the barns, and the chaff for the fire? Shall not the whole of that Doeg stand at the left hand, when the Lord is to say, "Go ye into fire everlasting, which hath been prepared for the devil and his angels"?[8] Therefore "God shall destroy at the end: shall pluck thee out, and shall remove thee from thy dwelling." Now then this Doeg the Edomite is in a dwelling: "But a servant abideth not in the house for ever."[9] Even he worketh something of good, even if not with his doings, at least with the words of God, so that in the Church, when he "seeketh his own,"[10] he would say, at least, those things which are of Christ.

"But He shall remove thee from thy dwelling." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, they have received their reward."[11] "And thy root from the land of the living." Therefore in the land of the living we ought to have root. Be our root there. Out of sight is the root: fruits may be seen, root cannot be seen. Our root is our love, our fruits are our works: it is needful that thy works proceed from love, then is thy root in the land of the living. Then shall be rooted up that Doeg, nor any wise shall he be able there to abide, because neither more deeply there hath he fixed a root:[1] but it shall be with him in like manner as it is with those seeds on the rock, which even if a root they throw out, yet, because moisture they have not, with the risen sun forthwith do wither. But, on the other hand, they that fix a root more deeply, hear from the Apostle what? "I bow my knees for you to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye may be in love rooted and grounded." And because there now is root, "That ye may be able," he saith, "to comprehend what is the height, and breadth, and length, and depth: to know also the super-eminent knowledge of the love of Christ, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God."[2] Of such fruits so great a root is worthy, being so single, so budding, for buddings so deeply grounded. But truly this man's root shall be rooted up from the land of the living.

9. "And the just shall see, and shall fear; and over him they shall laugh" (ver. 7). Shall fear when? Shall laugh when? Let us therefore understand, and make a distinction between those two times of fearing and laughing, which have their several uses. For so long as we are in this world, not yet must we laugh, lest hereafter we mourn. We have read what is reserved at the end for this Doeg, we have read and because we understand and believe, we see but fear. This, therefore, hath been said, "The just shall see, and shall fear." So long as we see what will result at the end to evil men, wherefore do we fear? Because the Apostle hath said, "In fear and trembling work out your own salvation:"[3] because it hath been said in a Psalm,[4] "Serve the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling." Wherefore "with fear"? "Wherefore let him that thinketh himself to stand, see that he fall not."[5] Wherefore "with trembling"? Because he saith in another place: "Brethren, if a man shall have been overtaken in any delinquency, ye that are spiritual instruct such sort in the spirit of gentleness; heeding thyself, lest thou also be tempted."[6] Therefore, the just that are now, that live of faith, so see this Doeg, what to him is to result, that nevertheless they fear also for themselves: for what they are to-day, they know; what to-morrow they are to be, they know not. Now, therefore, "The just shall see, and they shall fear." But when shall they laugh? When iniquity shall have passed over; when it shall have flown over; as now to a great degree hath flown over the time uncertain; when shall have been put to flight the darkness of this world, wherein now we walk not but by the lamp of the Scriptures, and therefore fear as though in night. For we walk by prophecy; whereof saith the Apostle Peter, "We have a more sure prophetic word, to which giving heed ye do well, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day shine, and the day-star arise in your hearts."[7] So long then as by a lamp we walk, it is needful that with fear we should live. But when shall have come our day, that is, the manifestation of Christ, whereof the same Apostle saith, "When Christ shall have appeared, your life, then ye also shall appear with Himself in glory,"[8] then the just shall laugh at that Doeg. ...

10. But what shall they then say that shall laugh? "And over him they shall laugh; and shall say, Behold a man that hath not set God for his helper" (ver. 8). See ye the body earthly! "As much as thou shalt have, so great shalt thou be," is a proverb of covetous men, of grasping men, of men oppressing the innocent, of men seizing upon other men's goods, of men denying things entrusted to their care. Of what sort is this proverb? "As much as thou shalt have, so great shalt thou be;" that is, as much as thou shall have had of money, as much as thou shalt have gotten, by so much the more mighty shall thou be. "Behold a man that hath not set God for his helper, but hath trusted in the multitude of his riches." Let not a poor man, one perchance that is evil, say, I am not of this body. For he hath heard the Prophet saying, "He hath trusted in the multitude of his riches:" forthwith if he is poor, he heedeth his rags, he hath observed near him perchance a rich man among the people of God more richly apparelled, and he saith in his heart, Of this man he speaketh; doth he speak of me? Do not thence except thyself, do not separate thyself, unless thou shalt have seen and feared, in order that thou mayest hereafter laugh. For what doth it profit thee, if thou dost want means, and thou burnest with cupidity? When our Lord Jesus Christ to that rich man that was grieved, and that was departing from Him, had said, "Go, sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven, and come follow Me:"[9] and great hopelessness for rich men foretold, so that He said, more easily could a camel pass through the eye of a needle, than a rich man enter into the kingdom of Heaven,[10] were not forthwith the disciples grieved, saying with themselves, "Who shall be able to be saved?" Therefore when they were saying, "Who shall be able to be saved?" did they think of the few rich men, did there escape them so great a multitude of poor men? Could they not say to themselves, If it is hard, aye an impossible thing, that rich men should enter into the kingdom of heaven, as it is impossible that a camel should enter through the eye of a needle, let all poor men enter into the kingdom of heaven, be the rich alone shut out? For how few are the rich men? But of poor men are thousands innumerable. For not the coats are we to look upon in the kingdom of heaven; but for every one's garment shall be reckoned the effulgence of righteousness: there shall be therefore poor men equal to Angels of God, clothed with the stoles of immortality, they shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father: what reason is there for us about a few rich men to be concerned, or distressed? This thought not the Apostles; but when the Lord had spoken this, "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven:" they saying to themselves, "Who shall be able to be saved," meant what? Not means, but desires; for they saw even poor men themselves, even if not having money, yet to have covetousness. And that ye may know, that not money in a rich man, but covetousness is condemned, attend to what I say; Thou observest that rich man standing near thee, and perchance in him is money, and is not covetousness; in thee is not money, and is covetousness. A poor man full of sores, full of woe, licked by dogs, having no help, having no morsel, not having perchance a mere garment, was borne by the Angels unto Abraham's bosom.[1] Ho! being a poor man, art thou glad now; for are even sores by thee to be desired? Is not thy patrimony soundness? There is not in this Lazarus the merit of poverty, but that of godliness. For thou seest who was borne up, thou seest not whither he was borne up. Who was borne up by Angels? A poor man, full of woe, full of sores. Whither was he borne up? Unto Abraham's bosom. Read the Scriptures, and thou shall find Abraham to have been a rich man.[2] In order that thou mayest know, that not riches are blamed; Abraham had much gold, silver, cattle, household, was a rich man, and unto his bosom Lazarus, a poor man, was borne up. Unto bosom of rich man, poor man: are not rather both unto God rich men, both in cupidity poor men? ...

11. Therefore that man having been condemned that "hath trusted in the multitude of his riches, and hath prevailed in his vanity:" for what more vain, than he that thinketh coin more to avail than God? Therefore that man having been condemned that said, blessed of the people to whom these things are: thou that sayest, "Blessed the people of whom is the Lord their own God," dost think of thyself what? dost hope for thyself what? "But I;" now at length hear that body: "But I am like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God" (ver. 9). Not one man speaketh, but that olive fruit-bearing, whence have been pruned the proud branches, and the humble wild olive grafted in.[3] "Like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God, I have trusted in the mercy of God." He did what? "In the multitude of his riches:" therefore his root shall be plucked out from the land of the living. "But I," because "like an olive, fruit-bearing in the house of God," the root whereof is nourished, is not rooted out, "have trusted in the mercy of God." But perchance now? For even herein men err sometimes. God indeed they worship, and are not now like to that Doeg: but though on God they rely, it is for temporal things nevertheless; so that they say to themselves, I Worship my God, who will make me rich upon earth, who to me will give sons, who to me will give a wife. Such things indeed giveth none but God, but God would not have Himself for the sake of such things to be loved. For to this end oftentimes those things He giveth even to evil men, in order that some other thing good men of Him may learn to seek. In what manner then sayest thou, "I have trusted in the mercy of God "? Perchance for obtaining temporal things? Nay but, "For everlasting and world without end." The expression, "For everlasting," he willed to repeat by adding, "world without end," in order that by there repeating he might affirm how rooted he was in the love of the kingdom of heaven, and in the hope of everlasting felicity.

12. "I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done" (ver. 10). "Hast done what?" Doeg Thou hast condemned, David Thou hast crowned. "I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done." Great confession, "Because thou hast done"! "Hast done" what? except these very things which above have been spoken of, that like an olive fruit-bearing in the house of God, I should trust in the mercy of God for everlasting and world without end? Thou hast done: an ungodly man cannot justify himself. But who is He that justifieth? "Believing," he saith, "on Him" that justifieth "the ungodly."[4] " For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received, as if of thyself thou hast?"[5] Be it far from me that I should so glory, saith he, that is opposed against Doeg, that beareth with Doeg upon earth, until he remove from his dwelling, and be rooted up from the land of the living. I glory not as if I have not received, but in God I glory. "And I will confess to Thee because Thou hast done," that is, because Thou hast done not according to my merits, but according to Thy mercy. But I have done what? If thou recollectest, "Before, I was a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious." But thou, what hast thou done? "But mercy I have obtained, because ignorant I did it."[1] " I will confess to Thee for ever, because Thou hast done."

13. "And I will look for Thy name, for it is pleasant." Bitter is the world, but Thy name is pleasant. Even if certain sweet things are in the world, yet with bitterness they are digested. Thy name is preferred, not only for greatness but also for pleasantness. "For unjust men have told to me their delights, but it is not as Thy law, O Lord."[2] For if there were nothing sweet to the Martyrs, they would not have suffered with equanimity so great bitterness of tribulations. Their bitterness by any one was experienced, their sweetness easily could no one taste. The name of God therefore is pleasant to men loving God above all pleasantnesses. "I will look for Thy name, for it is pleasant." And to what dost Thou prove that it is pleasant? Give me a palate to which it is pleasant. Praise honey as much as thou art able, exaggerate the sweetness thereof with what words thou shalt have the power: a man knowing not what honey is, unless he shall have tasted, what thou sayest knoweth not. Therefore the rather to the proof the Psalm inviting thee saith what? "Taste and see that sweet is the Lord."[3] Taste thou wilt not, and thou sayest, Is it pleasant? What is pleasant? If thou hast tasted, in thy fruit be it found, not in words alone, as it were only in leaves, lest by the curse of the Lord, to wither like that fig-tree[4] thou shouldest deserve. "Taste," he saith," and see, that sweet is the Lord." Taste and see: then ye shall see, if ye shall have tasted. But to a man not tasting, how provest thou? By praising the pleasantness of the name of God, whatsoever things thou shall have said are words: something else is taste. The words of His praise there hear even the ungodly, but none taste how sweet it is, but the Saints. Further, a man discerning the sweetness of the name of God, and wishing to unfold and wishing to show the same, and not finding persons to whom he may unfold it; for to the Saints there is no need that he show it, because they even of themselves taste and know, but the ungodly cannot discern what they will not taste: doth, I say, what, because of the sweetness' of the name of God? He hath borne him forthwith away from the crowds of the ungodly. "And I will look," he saith, "for Thy name, for it is pleasant, in the sight of Thy Saints." Pleasant is Thy name, but not in the sight of the ungodly. I know how sweet a thing it is, but it is to them that have tasted.

 

 

 

 
 
CARM ison