Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 53 - 57

PSALM 53

1. Of this Psalm we undertake to treat with you, as far as the Lord supplieth us. A brother biddeth us[6] that we may have the will, and prayeth that we may have the power. If anything in haste perchance I shall have passed over, He that even to us deigneth to give what we shall be enabled to say, will supply it in you. The title of it is: "At the end, for Maeleth, understanding to David himself." "For Maeleth," as we find in interpretations of Hebrew names, seemeth to say, For one travailing, or in pain. But who there is in this world that travaileth and is in pain, the faithful acknowledge, because thereof they are. Christ here travaileth, Christ here is in pain: the Head is above, the members below. For one not travailing nor in pain would not say, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"[7] Him, with whom when persecuting He was travailing, being converted, He made to travail. For he also was himself afterwards enlightened, and grafted on those members which he used to persecute; being pregnant with the same love, he said, "My little children, of whom again I travail, until Christ be formed in you."[8] For the members therefore of Christ, for His Body which is the Church,[9] for that same One Man, that is, for that very unity, whereof the Head is above, this Psalm is sung. ... Who are they, then, amid whom we travail and groan, if in the Body of Christ we are, if under Him, the Head, we live, if amongst His members we are counted? Who they are, hear ye.

2. "The unwise man hath said in his heart, There is no God" (ver. 1). Such sort is it of men amid whom is pained and groaneth the Body of Christ. If such is this sort of men, of not many do we travail; as far as seemeth to occur to our thoughts, very few there are; and a difficult thing it is to meet with a man that saith in his heart, "There is no God;"[10] nevertheless, so few there are, that, fearing amid the many to say this, in their heart they say it, for that with mouth to say it they dare not. Not much then is that which we are bid to endure, hardly is it found: uncommon is that sort of men that say in their heart, "There is no God." But, if it he examined in another sense, is not that found to be in more men, which we supposed to be in men few and uncommon, and almost in none? Let them come forth into the midst that live evil lives, let us look into the doings of profligate, daring, and wicked men, of whom there is a great multitude; who foster day by day their sins, who, their acts having been changed into habit, have even lost sense of shame: this is so great a multitude of men, that the Body of Christ, set amid them, scarce dareth to censure that which it is not constrained to commit, and deemeth it a great matter for itself that the integrity of innocence be preserved in not doing that which now, by habit, either it doth not dare to blame, or if it[1] shall have dared, there breaketh out the censure and recrimination of them that live evil lives, more readily than the free voice of them that live good lives. And those men are such as say in their heart, "There is no God." Such men I am confuting. Whence confuting? That their doings please God, they judge. He doth not therefore affirm, "some say," but "The unwise man hath said in his heart, There is no God." Which men do so far believe there is a God, that the same God they judge with what they do to be pleased. But if thou being wise dost perceive, how "the unwise man hath said in his heart, There is no God," if thou give heed, if thou understand, if thou examine; he that thinketh that evil doings please God, Him he doth not think to be God. For if God is, He is just; if He is just, injustice displeaseth Him, iniquity displeaseth. But thou, when thou thinkest that iniquity pleaseth Him, dost deny God. For if God is one Whom iniquity displeaseth, but God seemeth not to thee to be one whom iniquity displeaseth, and there is no God but one whom iniquity displeaseth, then when thou sayest in thy heart, God doth countenance my iniquities, thou sayest nothing else than, "There is no God."

3. Let us advert also to that sense, which concerning Christ our Lord Himself, our Head Himself, doth present itself. For when Himself in form of a servant[2] appeared on earth, they that crucified Him said," He is not God." Because Son of God He was, truly God He was. But they that are corrupted and have become abominable said what? "He is not God:" let us slay Him, "He is not God." Thou hast the voice of these very men in the book of Wisdom.[3] For after there had gone before the verse, "The unwise man hath said in his heart, There is no God ;" as if reasons were required why the unwise man could say this, he hath subjoined, "Corrupted they are, and abominable have become in their iniquities" (ver. 2). Hear ye those corrupted men. "For they have said with themselves, not rightly thinking:"[4] corruption beginneth with evil belief, thence it proceedeth to depraved morals, thence to the most flagrant iniquities, these are the grades. But what with themselves said they, thinking not rightly? "A small thing and with tediousness is our life."[5] From this evil belief followeth that which also the Apostle hath spoken of, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we shall die."[6] But in the former passage more diffusely luxury itself is described: "Let us crown us with roses, before they be withered; in every place let us leave the tokens of our gladness."[7] After the more diffuse description of that luxury, what followeth? "Let us slay the poor just man:"[8] this is therefore saying, "He is not God." Soft words they seemed but now to say:" Let us crown us with roses, before they be withered." What more delicate, what more soft? Wouldest thou expect, out of this softness, Crosses, swords? Wonder not, soft are even the roots of brambles; if any one handle them, he is not pricked: but that wherewith thou shall be pricked from thence hath birth. "Corrupted," therefore, are those men, "and abominable have become in their iniquities." They say, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross."[9] Behold them openly saying, "He is not God." ...

4. "The Lord from Heaven hath looked forth upon the sons of men, that He might see if there is one understanding and seeking after God" (ver. 3). What is this? "Corrupted they are," all these that say, "There is no God"? And what? Did it escape God, that they were become such? Or indeed to us would their inward thought be opened, except by Him it were told? If then He understood, if then He knew, what is this which hath been said, "that He might see "? For the words are of one inquiring, of one not knowing. "God from Heaven hath looked forth," etc. And as though He had found what He sought by looking upon, and by looking down from Heaven, He giveth sentence: "All men have gone aside, together useless they have become: there is not one that doeth good, not so much as one" (ver. 4). Two questions arise somewhat difficult: for if God looketh out from Heaven, in order that He may see if there is one understanding or seeking after God; there stealeth upon an unwise man the thought, that God knoweth not all things. This is one question: what is the other? If there is not one that doeth good, is not so much as one; who is he that travaileth amid bad men? The former question then is solved as followeth: ofttimes the Scripture speaketh in such manner, that what by the gift of God a creature doth, God is said to do. ... For hence has been said the following also, "For the Spirit searcheth all things, even the depth of God; "[10] not because He that knoweth all things searcheth, but because to thee hath been given the Spirit, which maketh thee also to search: and that which by His own gift thou doest, He is said to do; because without Him thou wouldest not do it: therefore God is said to do, when thou doest. ... And because this by the gift of God thou doest, God from heaven is "looking forth upon the sons of men." The former question then, according to our measure, thus hath been solved.

5. What is that which looking forth we acknowledge? What is that which looking forth God acknowledgeth? What (because here He giveth it) doth He acknowledge? Hear what it is; that "All have gone aside, together useless they have become: there is not one that doeth good, there is not so much as one." What then is that other question, but the same whereof a little before I have made mention? If, "There is not one that doeth good, is not so much as one," no one remaineth to groan amid evil men. Stay, saith the Lord, do not hastily give judgment. I have given to men to do well; but of Me, He saith, not of themselves: for of themselves evil they are: sons of men they are, when they do evil; when well, My sons. For this thing God doth, out of sons of men He maketh sons of God: because out of Son of God He hath made Son of Man. See what this participation is: there hath been promised to us a participation of Divinity: He lieth that hath promised, if He is not first made partaker of mortality. For the Son of God hath been made partaker of mortality, in order that mortal man may be made partaker of divinity. He that hath promised that His good is to be shared with thee, first with thee hath shared thy evil: He that to thee hath promised divinity, showeth in thee love. Therefore take away that men are sons of God, there remaineth that they are sons of men: "There is none that doeth good, is not so much as one."

6. "Shall not all know that work iniquity, that devour My people for the food of bread "? (ver. 5). ...There is therefore here a people of God that is being devoured. Nay, "There is not one that doeth good, there is not so much as one." We reply by the rule above. But this people that is devoured, this people that suffereth evil men, this that groaneth and travaileth amid evil men, now out of sons of men have been made sons of God: therefore are they devoured. For, "The counsel of the needy man thou hast confounded, because the Lord is his hope."[1] For ofttimes, in order that the people of God may be devoured, this very thing in it is despised, that it is the people of God. I will pillage, he saith, and despoil; if he is a Christian, what will he do to me? ... But what followeth? "I will convince thee, and will set thee before thy face." Thou wilt not now know so as thou shouldest be displeasing to thyself, thou shall know so as thou mayest mourn. For God cannot but show to the unrighteous their iniquity. If He is not to show, who will they be that are to say, "What hath profiled us pride, and what hath boasting of riches bestowed upon us?"[2] For then shall they know, that now will not know. "Shall not all know?" etc. Why hath He added, "for the food of bread "? As it were as bread, they eat My people. For all other things which we eat, we can eat now these, now those; not always this vegetable, not always this flesh, not always these apples: but always bread. What is then, "Devour My people for the food of bread "? Without intermission, without cessation they devour.

7. "On God they have not called." He is comforting the man that groaneth, and chiefly by an admonition, lest by imitating evil men, who ofttimes prosper, they delight in evil doing. There is kept for thee that which to thee hath been promised: their hope is present, thine is future, but theirs is transient, thine sure; theirs false, thine true. For they "upon God have not called." Do not daily such men ask of God? They do "not" ask of God. Give heed, if I am able to say this by the aid of God Himself. God gratuitously will have Himself to be worshipped, gratuitously will have Himself to be loved, that is chastely to be loved; not Himself to be loved for the reason that He giveth anything besides Himself, but because He giveth Himself. He then that calleth upon God in order that He may be made rich, On God doth not call: for upon that He calleth which to himself he willeth to come. ... But now thou wouldest have coffer full, and conscience void: God filleth not coffer, but breast. What do outward riches profit thee, if inward need presseth thee? Therefore those men that for the sake of worldly comforts, that for the sake of earthly good things, that for the sake of present life and earthly felicity, call upon God, do not call upon God.

8. For this reason what followeth concerning them? "There have they feared with fear, where there was no fear" (ver. 6). For is there fear, if a man lose riches? There is no fear there, and yet in that case men are afraid. But if a man lose wisdom, truly there is fear, and in that case he is not afraid. ... Thou hast feared to give back money, and hast willed to lose fidelity. The Martyrs took not away property of other persons, but even their own they despised that they might not lose fidelity: and it was too little to lose money, when they were proscribed; they took also their life when they suffered: they lost life, in order that unto everlasting life they might find it.[1] Therefore there they feared, where they ought to have been afraid. But they that of Christ have said, "He is not God," have there feared where was no fear. For they said, "If we shall have let Him go, there will come the Romans, and will take away from us both place and kingdom."[2] O folly and imprudence saying in its heart, "He is not God" ! Thou hast feared to lose earth, thou hast lost Heaven: thou hast feared lest there should come the Romans, and take away from thee place and kingdom! Could they take away from thee God? What then remaineth? what but that thou confess, that thou hast willed to keep, and by keeping ill hast lost? For thou hast lost both place and nation by slaying Christ. For ye did will rather to slay Christ, than to lose place; and ye have lost place, and nation, and Christ. In fearing, they have slain Christ: but wherefore this? "For God hath scattered the bones of them that please men."[3] Willing to please men, they feared to lose their place. But Christ Himself, of whom they said, "He is not God," willed rather to displease such men, as they were: sons of men, not sons of God, He willed rather to displease. Thence were scattered their bones, His bones no one hath broken. "They were confounded, for God hath despised them." In very deed, brethren, as far as regardeth them, great confusion hath come to them. In the place where they crucified the Lord, whom for this cause they crucified, that they might not lose both place and nation, the Jews are not. "God," therefore," hath despised them:" and yet in despising He warned them to be converted. Let them now confess Christ, and say, He is God, of whom they said, "He is not God." Let them return to the inheritance of their fathers, to the inheritance of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, let them possess with these very persons life eternal: though they have lost life temporal. Wherefore this? Because out of sons of men have been made sons of God. For so long as they remain, and will not, there is not one that doeth good, there is not so much as one. "They were confounded, for God hath despised them." And as though to these very persons He were turned, He saith, "Who shall give out of Sion salvation to Israel?" (ver. 7). O ye fools, ye revile, insult, buffet, besmear with spittings, with thorns ye crown, upon the Cross ye lift up; whom? "Who shall give out of Sion salvation to Israel?" Shall not That Same of whom ye have said, "He is not God "? "In God's turning away the captivity of His people." For there turneth away the captivity of His people, no one but He that hath willed to be a captive in your own hands. But what men shall understand this thing? "Jacob shall exult, and Israel shall rejoice." "Israel;" the true Jacob, and the true Israel, that younger, to whom the eider was servant[4] shall himself exult, for he shall himself understand.



PSALM 54

1. The title of this Psalm hath fruit in the prolixity thereof, if it be understood: and because the Psalm is short, let us make up our not having to tarry over the Psalm by tarrying over the title. For upon this dependeth every verse which is sung. If any one, therefore, observe that which on the front of the house is fixed, secure he will enter; and, when he shall have entered, he will not err. For this on the post itself is prominently marked, namely, in what manner within he may not be in error. The title thereof standeth thus: "At the end, in hymns, understanding to David himself, when there came the Ziphites, and said to Saul, Behold, is not David hidden with us?" That Saul was persecutor of the holy man David, very well we know: that Saul was bearing the figure of a temporal kingdom, not to life but to death belonging, this also to your Love we remember to have imparted. And also that David himself was bearing the figure of Christ, or of the Body of Christ, ye ought both to know and to call to mind, ye that have already learned.[6] What then of the Ziphites? There was a certain village, Ziph, whereof the inhabitants were Ziphites, in whose country David had hidden himself, when Saul would find and slay him. These Ziphites then, when they had learned this, betrayed him to the king his persecutor, saying, "Behold, is not David hidden with us?" Of no good to them indeed was their betrayal, and to David himself of no harm. For their evil disposition was shown: but Saul not even after their betrayal could seize David; but rather in a certain cave in that very country, when into his hands Saul had been given to slay, David spared him, and that which he had in his power he did not[7] But the other was seeking to do that which he had not in his power. Let them that have been Ziphites take heed: let us see those whom to us the Psalm presenteth to be understood by the occasion of those same men.

2. If we inquire then by what word is translated Ziphites, we find, "Men flourishing." Flourishing then were certain enemies to holy David, flourishing before him hiding. We may find them in mankind, if we are willing to understand the Psalm. Let us find here at first David hiding, and we shall find his adversaries flourishing. Observe David hiding: "For ye are dead," saith the Apostle to the members of Christ," and your life is hid with Christ in God."[1] These men, therefore, that are hiding, when shall they be flourishing? "When Christ," he saith, "your life, shall have appeared, then ye also with Him shall appear in glory."[2] When these men shall be flourishing, then shall be those Ziphites withering. For observe to what flower their glory is compared: "All flesh is grass, and the honour of flesh as the flower of grass."[3] What is the end? "The grass hath withered, and the flower hath fallen off." Where then shall be David? See what followeth: "But the Word of the Lord abideth for ever." ...

3. These men sometimes are observed of the weak sons of light, and their feet totter, when they have seen evil men in felicity to flourish, and they say to themselves, "Of what profit to me is innocence? What doth it advantage me that I serve God, that I keep His commandments, that I oppress no one, from no one plunder anything, hurt no one, that what I can I bestow? behold, all these things I do, and they flourish, I toil." But why? Wouldest thou also wish to be a Ziphite? They flourish in the world, wither in judgment, and after withering, into fire everlasting shall be cast: wouldest thou also choose this? Art thou ignorant of what He hath promised thee, who to thee hath come, what in Himself here He displayed? If the flower of the Ziphites were to be desired, would not Himself thy Lord also in this world have flourished? Or indeed was there wanting to Him the power to flourish? Nay but here He chose rather amid the Ziphites to hide, and to say to Pontius Pilate, as if to one being himself also a flower of the Ziphites, and in suspicion about His kingdom, "My kingdom is not of this world."[4] Therefore here He was hidden: and all good men are hidden here, because their good is within, it is concealed, in the heart it is, where is faith, where charity, where hope, where their treasure is. Do these good things appear in the world? Both these good things are hidden, and the reward of these good things is hidden. ...

4. "O God, in Thy name make me safe, and in Thy virtue judge me" (ver. 1). Let the Church say this, hiding amid the Ziphites. Let the Christian body say this, keeping secret the good of its morals, expecting in secret the reward of its merits, let it say this: "In Thy virtues judge me." Thou hast come, O Christ, humble Thou hast appeared, despised Thou hast been, scourged hast been, crucified hast been slain hast been; but, on the third day hast risen, on the fortieth day into Heaven hast ascended: Thou sittest at the right hand of the Father, and no one seeth: Thy Spirit thence Thou hast sent, which men that were worthy have received; fulfilled with Thy love, the praise of that very humility of Thine throughout the world and nations they have preached: Thy name I see to excel among mankind, but nevertheless as weak to us hast Thou been preached. For not even did that Teacher of the Gentiles say, that among us he knew anything, "Save Christ Jesus, and Him crucified;"[6] in order that of Him we might choose the reproach, rather than the glory of the flourishing Ziphites. Nevertheless, of Him he saith what? "Although He died of weakness, yet He liveth of the power[7] of God." He came then that He might die of weakness, He is to come that He may judge in the power of God: but through the weakness of the Cross His name hath been illustrious. Whosoever shall not have believed upon the name made illustrious through weakness, shall stand in awe at the Judge, when He shall have come in power. But, lest He that once was weak, when He shall have come strong, with that fan send us to the left hand; may He "save us in His name, and judge us in His virtue." For who so rash as to have desired this, as to say to God, for instance "Judge me"? Is it not wont to be said to men for a curse, "God judge thee"? So evidently it is a curse, if He judge thee in His virtue; and shall not have saved thee in His name: but when in name precedent He shall have saved thee, to thy health in virtue consequent He shall judge. Be thou without care: that judgment shall not to thee be punishment, but dividing. For in a certain Psalm s thus is said: "Judge me, O God, and divide my cause from the nation unholy." ...

5. "O God, hearken to my prayer, in Thy ears receive the words of my mouth" (ver. 2). ... To Thee may my prayer attain, driven forth and darted out from the desire of Thy eternal blessings: to Thy ears I send it forth, aid it that it may reach, lest it fall short in the middle of the way, and fainting as it were it fall down. But even if there result not to me now the good things which I ask, I am secured nevertheless that hereafter they will come. For even in the case of transgressions a certain man is said to have asked of God, and not to have been hearkened to for his good. For privations of this world had inspired him to prayer, and being set in temporal tribulations he had wished that temporal tribulations should pass away, and there should return the flower of grass; and he saith, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"[9] The very voice of Christ it is, but for His members' sake. "The words," he saith, "of my transgressions I have cried to Thee throughout the day, and Thou hast not hearkened: and by night, and not for the sake of folly to me:" that is, "and by night I have cried, and Thou hast not hearkened; and nevertheless in this very thing that Thou hast not hearkened, it is not for the sake of folly to me that Thou hast not hearkened, but rather for the sake of wisdom that Thou hast not hearkened, that I might perceive what of Thee I ought to ask. For those things I was asking which to my cost perchance I should have received." Thou askest riches, O man; how many have been overset through their riches? Whence knowest thou whether to thee riches may profit? Have not many poor men more safely been in obscurity; having become rich men, so soon as they have begun to blaze forth, they have been a prey to the stronger? How much better they would have lain concealed, how much better they would have been unknown, that have begun to be inquired after not for the sake of what they were, but for the sake of what they had! In these temporal things therefore, brethren, we admonish and exhort you in the Lord, that ye ask not anything as if it were a thing settled, but that which God knoweth to be expedient for you. For what is expedient for you, ye know not at all. Sometimes that which ye think to be for you is against you, and that which ye think to be against you is for you. For sick ye are; do not dictate to the physician the medicines he may choose to set beside you. If the teacher of the Gentiles, Paul the Apostle, saith, "For what we should pray for as we ought, we know not,"[1] how much more we? Who nevertheless, when he seemed to himself to pray wisely, namely, that from him should be taken away the thorn of the flesh, the angel of Satan, that did buffet him, in order that he might not in the greatness of the revelations be lifted up, heard from the Lord what? Was that done which he wished? Nay,[2] in order to that being done which was expedient, he heard from the Lord, I say, what? "Thrice," he saith, "I besought the Lord that He would take it from me; and He said to me, My Grace sufficeth for thee: for virtue in weakness is made perfect."[3] Salve to the wound I have applied; when I applied it I know, when it should be taken away I know. Let not a sick man draw back from the hands of the physician, let him not give advice to the physician. So it is with all these things temporal. There are tribulations; if well thou worshippest God, thou wilt know that He knoweth what is expedient for each man: there are prosperities; take the more heed, lest these same corrupt thy soul, so that it withdraw from Him that hath given these things. ...

6. "For aliens have risen up against me" (ver. 3). What "aliens"? Was not David himself a Jew of the tribe of Judah? But the very place Ziph belonged to the tribe of Judah; it was of the Jews. How then "aliens "? Not in city, not in tribe, not in kindred, but in flower.[4] ... But see the Ziphites, see them for a time flourishing. With reason "alien" sons. Thou amid the Ziphites hiding saidst what? "Blessed the people whereof the Lord is its God." Out of this affection this prayer[5] is being sent forth into the ears of the Lord, when it is said, "for aliens have risen up against me."

7. "And mighty men have sought after my soul." For in a new manner, my brethren, they would destroy the race of holy men, and the race of them that abstain from hoping in this world, all they that have hope in this world. Certainly commingled they are, certainly together they live. Very much to one another are opposed these two sorts: the one of those that place no hope but in things secular, and in temporal felicity, and the other of those that do firmly place their trope in the Lord God. And though concordant are these Ziphites, do not much trust to their concord: temptations are wanting; when there shall have come any temptation, so as that a person may be reproved for the flower of the world, I say not to thee he will quarrel with the Bishop, but not even to the Church Herself will he draw near, lest there fall any part of the grass.[6] Wherefore have I said these words, brethren? Because now gladly ye all hear in the name of Christ, and according as ye understand, so ye shout out at the word; ye would not indeed shout at it unless ye understood.[7] This your understanding ought to be fruitful. But whether it is fruitful, temptation doth try; lest suddenly when ye are said to be ours, through temptation ye be found aliens, and it be said, "Aliens have risen up against me, and mighty men have sought my soul." Be not that said which followeth, "They have not set forth God before their face." For when will he set God before his face, before whose eyes there is nought but the world? namely, how he may have coin upon coin, how flocks may be increased, how barns may be filled, how it may be said to his soul, "Thou hast many good things, be merry, feast, take thy fill." Doth he set before his face Him, that unto one so boasting and so blooming with the flower of the Ziphites saith, "Fool" (that is, "man not understanding," "man unwise"), "this night shall be taken from thee thy soul; all these things which thou hast prepared, whose shall they be?"[1]

8. "For behold, God helpeth me" (ver. 4). Even themselves know not themselves, amid whom I am hiding. But if they too were to set God before their face, they would find in what manner God helpeth me. For all holy men are helped by God, but within, where no one seeth For in like manner as the conscience of ungodly men is a great punishment, so a great joy is the very conscience of godly men. "For our glory this is," saith the Apostle, "the testimony of our conscience."[2] In this within, not in the flower of the Ziphites without, doth glory that man that now saith, "For behold God helpeth me." Surely though afar off are to be those things which He promiseth, this day have I a sweet and present help; to-day in my heart's joy I find that without cause certain say, "Who doth show to us good things? For there is signed upon us the light of Thy countenance, O Lord, Thou hast put pleasantness into my heart."[3] Not into my vineyard, not into my flock, not into my cask, not into my table, but" into my heart." "For behold God helpeth me." How doth He help thee?"And the Lord is the lifter up of my soul."

9. "Turn away evil things unto mine enemies" (ver. 5). So however green they are, so however they flourish, for the fire they are being[4] reserved. "In Thy virtue destroy Thou them." Because to wit they flourish now, because to wit they spring up like grass:[5] do not thou be a man unwise and foolish, so that by giving thought to these things thou perish for ever and ever. For, "Turn Thou away evil things unto mine enemies." For if thou shalt have place in the body of David Himself, in His virtue He will destroy them. These men flourish in the felicity of the world, perish in the virtue of God. Not in the same manner as they flourish, do they also perish: for they flourish for a time, perish for everlasting: flourish in unreal good things, perish in real torments. "In Thy strength destroy," whom in Thy weakness Thou hast endured.

10. "Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee" (ver. 6). Who can even understand this good thing of the heart, at another's speaking thereof, unless in himself he hath tasted it? What is, "Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee"?... For what sacrifice here shall I take, brethren? or what worthily shall I offer to the Lord for His mercy? Victims shall. I seek from flock of sheep, ram shall I select, for any bull in the herds shall I look out, frankincense indeed from the land of the Sabaeans shall I bring? What shall I do? What offer; except that whereof He speaketh, "Sacrifice of praise shall honour Me"?[6] Wherefore then "voluntarily"? Because truly I love that which I praise. I praise God, and in the self-same praise I rejoice: in the praise of Himself I rejoice, at whom being praised, I blush not. For He is not praised in the same manner as by those who love the theatrical follies is praised either by a charioteer, or a hunter, or actor of any kind, and by their praisers, other praisers are invited, are exhorted, to shout together: and when all have shouted, ofttimes, if their favourite is overcome, they are all put to the blush. Not so is our God : be He praised with the will, loved with charity: let it be gratuitous (or voluntary) that He is loved and that He is praised. What is "gratuitous "? Himself for the sake of Himself, not for the sake of something else. For if thou praisest God in order that He may give thee something else, no longer freely dost thou love God. Thou wouldest blush, if thy wife for the sake of riches were to love thee, and perchance if poverty should befall thee, should begin to think of adultery. Seeing that therefore thou wouldest be loved by thy partner freely, wilt thou for anything else love God? What reward art thou to receive of God, O covetous man? Not earth for thee, but Himself He keepeth, who made heaven and earth. "Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee:" do it not of necessity. For if for the sake of anything else thou praisest God, out of necessity thou praisest. ... These things also which He hath given, because of the Giver are good things. For He giveth entirely, He giveth these temporal things: and to certain men to their good, to certain men to their harm, after the height and depth of His judgments. ... "Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee." Wherefore "voluntarily"? Because gratis. What is gratis? "And I will confess to Thy name, O Lord, for it is a good thing:" for nothing else, but because a "good thing" it is. Doth he say, "I will confess to Thy name, O Lord," because Thou givest me fruitful manors, because Thou givest me gold and silver, because Thou givest me extended riches, abundant money, most exalted dignity? Nay. But what? "For it is a good thing." Nothing I find better than Thy name.

11. "For out of all tribulation Thou hast delivered me" (ver. 7). For this cause I have perceived how good a thing is Thy name: for if this I were able before tribulations to acknowledge, perchance for me there had been no need of them. But tribulation hath been applied for admonition, admonition hath redounded to Thy praise. For I should not have understood where I was, except of my weakness I had been admonished. "Out of all tribulations," therefore, "Thou hast delivered me. And upon mine enemies mine eye hath looked back:" upon those Ziphites "mine eye hath looked back." Yea, their flower I have passed over in loftiness of heart, unto Thee I have come, and thence I have looked back upon them, and have seen that "All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass:"[1] as in a certain place is also said, "I have seen the ungodly man to be exalted and raised up like[2] the cedars of Lebanon: I passed by, and, lo! he was not."[3] Wherefore "he was not"? Because thou hast passed by. What is," because thou hast passed by"? Because not to no purpose hast thou heard "Lift up thy heart;" because not on earth, where thou wouldest have rotted, thou hast remained; because thou hast lifted thy soul to God, and thou hast mounted beyond the cedars of Lebanon, and from that elevation hast observed: and "Lo! he was not;" and thou hast sought him, and there hath not been found place for him. No longer is labour before thee; because thou hast entered into the sanctuary of God, and hast understood for the last things.[4] So also here thus he concludeth. "And upon mine enemies mine eye hath looked back." This do ye therefore, brethren, with your souls; lift up your hearts, sharpen the edge of your mind, learn truly to love God, learn to despise the present world, learn voluntarily to sacrifice the offerings of praise; to the end that, mounting beyond the flower of the grass, ye may look back upon your enemies.



PSALM 55

1. Of this Psalm the title is: "At the end, in hymns, understanding to David himself." What the "end" is, we will briefly call to your recollection, because ye have known it. "For the end of the Law is Christ, for righteousness unto every man believing."[6] Be the attention therefore directed unto the End, directed unto Christ. Wherefore is He called the end? Because whatever we do, to Him we refer it, and when to Him we shall have come home, more to ask we shall not have. For there is an end spoken of which doth consume, there is an end spoken of which doth make perfect. In one sense, for instance, we understand it, when we hear, there is ended the food which was in eating; and in another sense we understand it when we hear, there is ended the vesture which was in weaving: in each case we hear, there is ended; but the food so that it no longer is, the vesture so that it is perfected. Our end therefore ought to be our perfection, our perfection Christ. For in Him we are made perfect, because of Himself the Head, the Members are we. And he hath been spoken of as "the End of the Law," because without Him no one doth make perfect the Law. When therefore ye hear in the Psalms, "At the end,"--for many Psalms are thus superscribed,--be not your thought upon consuming, but upon consummation.

2. "In hymens:" in praises. For whether we are troubled and are straitened, or whether we rejoice and exult, He is to be praised, who both in tribulations doth instruct, and in gladness doth comfort. For the praise of God from the heart and mouth of a Christian man ought not to depart; not that he may be praising in prosperity, and speaking evil in adversity; but after the manner that this Psalm doth prescribe, "I will speak good of the Lord in every time, alway the praise of Him is in my mouth." Thou dost rejoice; acknowledge a Father indulging: thou art troubled; acknowledge a Father chastening. Whether He indulge, or whether He chasten, He is instructing one for whom He is preparing an inheritance.

3. What then is, "Understanding to David himself"? David indeed was, as we know, a holy prophet, king of Israel, son of Jesse:[7] but because out of his seed there came for our salvation after the flesh the Lord Jesus Christ,[8] often under that name He is figured, and David instead of Christ is in a figure set down, because of the origin of the Flesh of the Same. For after some sort He is Son of David, after some sort He is the Lord of David; Son of David after the flesh, Lord of David after the divinity. For if by Him have been made all-things,[9] by Him also David himself hath been made, out of whose seed He came to men. Moreover, when the Lord had questioned the Jews, whose Son they affirmed Christ to be, they made answer, "David's:" where the Lord chides the Jews, when they said that He was the Son of David.[10] He saw that they had stayed at the flesh, and had lost sight of the divinity; and He reproveth them by propounding a question: "How then doth David himself in spirit call Him Lord, 'The Lord hath said unto my Lord.' ... If then He in spirit calleth Him Lord, how is He is Son?"[11] A question He propounded; His being Son He denied not. Ye have heard "Lord;" say ye how He is his "Son:" ye have heard "Son;[11] say how He is "Lord." This question the Catholic Faith solveth. How "Lord"? Because "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."[1] How "Son"? Because "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.[2] Because then David in a figure is Christ, but Christ, as we have often reminded your Love, is both Head and Body; neither ought we to speak of ourselves as alien from Christ, of whom we are members, nor to count ourselves as if we were any other thing: because "The two shall be in one flesh."[3] "This is a great Sacrament," saith the Apostle, "but I speak in regard of Christ and the Church."[4] Because then whole Christ is" Head and Body;" when we hear, "Understanding to David himself," understand we ourselves also in David. Let the members of Christ understand, and Christ in His members understand, and the members of Christ in Christ understand: because Head and Members are one Christ. The Head was in heaven, and was saying, "Why dost thou persecute Me?"[5] We with Him are in heaven through hope, Himself is with us on earth through love. Therefore "understanding to David himself." Be we admonished when we hear, and let the Church understand: for there belongeth to us great diligence to understand in what evil we now are, and from what evil we desire to be delivered, remembering the Prayer of the Lord, where at the end we say," Deliver us from evil."[6] Therefore amid many tribulations of this world, this Psalm complaineth somewhat of understanding. He lamenteth not with it, who hath not understanding. But furthermore, dearly beloved, we ought to remember, that after the image of God we have been made, and that not in any other part than in the understanding itself. For in many things by beasts we are surpassed: but when a man knoweth himself to have been made after the image of God,[7] therein something in himself he acknowledgeth to be more than hath been given to dumb animals. But on consideration of all those things which a man hath, he findeth himself in this thing peculiarly distinguished from a dumb animal, in that he hath himself an understanding. Whence certain men despising in themselves that peculiar and especial thing which from their Maker they had received, the Maker Himself reproveth, saying, "Do not become like horse and mule, in which there is no understanding."[8] ...

4. "Hear Thou, O God, my entreaty, and despise not my prayer: give heed unto me, and hearken unto me" (ver. 1). Of one earnest, anxious, of one set in tribulation, are these words. He is praying, suffering many things, from evil yearning to be delivered: it remaineth that we hear in what evil he is, and when he beginneth to speak, let us acknowledge there ourselves to be; in order that the tribulation being shared, we may conjoin prayer. "I have been made sad in my exercise, and have been troubled" (ver. 2). Where made sad, where troubled? "'In my exercise," he saith. Of evil men, whom he suffereth, he hath made mention, and the same suffering of evil men he hath called his "exercise." Think ye not that without profit there are evil men in this world, and that no good God maketh of them. Every evil man either on this account liveth that he may be corrected, or on this account liveth that through him a good man may be exercised. O that therefore they that do now exercise us would be converted, and together with us be exercised! Nevertheless, so long as they are such as to exercise, let us not hate them: because in that wherein any one of them is evil, whether unto the end he is to persevere, we know not; and ofttimes when to thyself thou seemest to have been hating an enemy, thou hast been hating a brother, and knowest not. The devil and his angels in the holy Scriptures have been manifested to us, that for fire everlasting they have been destined. Of them only must amendment be despaired of. ... Therefore since this rule of Love for thee is fixed, that imitating the Father thou shouldest love an enemy: for, He saith, "love your enemies:"[9] in this precept how wouldest thou be exercised, if thou hadst no enemy to suffer? Thou seest then that he profiteth thee somewhat: and let God sparing evil men profit thee, so that thou show mercy: because perchance thou too, if thou art a good man, out of an evil man hast been made a good man: and if God spared not evil men, not even thou wouldest be found to return thanks. May He therefore spare others, that hath spared thee also. For it were not right, when thou hadst passed through, to close up the way of godliness.

5. Whence then doth this man pray, set among evil men, with whose enmities he was being exercised? Why saith he, "I have been made sad in my exercise, and have been troubled"? While he is extending his love so as to love enemies, he hath been affected with disgust, being bayed at all around by the enmities of many men, by the frenzy of many and under a sort of human infirmity he hath sunk. He hath seen himself now begin to be pierced through with an evil suggestion of the devil, to bring on hatred against his enemies: wrestling against hatred in order to perfect love herself, in the very fight, and in the wrestling, he hath been troubled. For there is his voice in another Psalm, "Mine eye hath been troubled, because of anger." And what followeth there? "I have waxen old among all mine enemies."[10] As if in storm and waves he were beginning to sink, like Peter.[1] For he doth trample the waves of this world, that loveth enemies. Christ on the sea was walking fearless, from whose heart there could not by any means be taken away the love of an enemy, who hanging on the Cross did say, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."[2] Peter too would walk. He as Head, Peter as Body: because, "Upon this rock," He saith, "I will build My Church."[3] He was bidden to walk, and he was walking by the Grace of Him bidding, not by his own strength. But when he saw the wind mighty, he feared; and then he began to sink, being troubled in his exercise. By what mighty wind? "By the voice of the enemy, and by the tribulation of the sinner" (ver. 3). Therefore, in the same manner as he cried out on the waves, "Lord, I perish, save me,"[1] a similar voice from this man hath preceded, "Hearken unto me." Wherefore? For what sufferest thou? Of what dost thou groan? "I have been made sad in my exercise." To be exercised indeed among evil men Thou hast set me, but too much they have risen up, beyond my powers: calm Thou one troubled, stretch forth a hand to one sinking. "For they have brought down upon me iniquity, and in anger they were shadowing me." Ye have heard of waves and winds: one as it were humbled they were insulting, and he was praying: on every side against him with the roar of insult they were raging, but he within was calling upon Him whom they did not see. ...

6. But this man being troubled and made sad was praying, his eye being disturbed as it were on account of anger.[4] But the anger of a brother if it shall have been inveterate is then hatred. Anger doth trouble the eye, hatred doth quench it: anger is a straw, hatred is a beam. Sometimes thou hatest and chidest an angry man: in thee is hatred, in him whom thou chidest anger: with reason to thee is said, "Cast out first the beam from thine own eye, and so thou shall see to cast out the straw from thy brother's eye."[5] For that ye may know how much difference there is between anger and hatred: day by day men are angry with their sons, show me them that hate their[6] sons! This man being troubled was praying even when made sad, wrestling against all revilings of all revilers; not in order that he might conquer any one of them by giving back reviling, but that he might not hate any one of them. Hence he prayeth, hence asketh: "From the voice of the enemy and from the tribulation of the sinner." "My heart hath been troubled in me" (ver. 4). This is the same as elsewhere hath been said," Mine eye because of anger hath been troubled."[4] And if eye hath been troubled, what followeth? "And fear of death hath fallen upon me." Our life is love: if life is love, death is hatred. When a man hath begun to fear lest he should hate him that he was loving, it is death he is fearing; and a sharper death, and a more inward death, whereby soul is killed, not body. Thou didst mind a man raging against thee; what was he to do, against whom thine own Lord had given thee security, saying, "Fear not them that kill the body"?[7] He by raging killeth body, thou by keeping hatred hast killed soul; and he the body of another, thou thine own soul. "Fear," therefore, "of death hath fallen upon me."

7. "Fearfulness and trembling have come upon me, and darkness hath covered me" (ver. 5 ). "And I have said," "He that hateth his brother, is in darkness until now."[8] If love is light, hatred is darkness. And what saith to himself one set in that weakness and troubled in that exercise? "Who shall give me wings as to a dove, and I shall fly and shall rest?" (ver. 6). Either for death he was wishing, or for solitude he was longing. So long, he saith, as this is the work with me, as this command is given me, that I should love enemies, the revilings of these men, increasing and shadowing me, do derange mine eye, perturb my sight, penetrate my heart, slay my soul. I could wish to depart, but[9] weak I am, lest by abiding I should add sins to sins: or at least may I be separated for a little space from mankind, lest my wound suffer from frequent blows, in order that when it hath been made whole it may be brought back to the exercise. This is what takes place, brethren, and there ariseth ofttimes in the mind of the servant of God a longing for solitude, for no other reason than because of the multitude of tribulations and scandals, and he saith, "Who shall give me wings?" Doth he find himself without wings, or rather with bound wings? If they are wanting, be they given; if bound, be they loosed; because even he that looseth a bird's wings, either giveth, or giveth back to it its wings. For it had not as though its own them, wherewith it could not fly. Bound wings make a burden. "Who," he saith, "shall give me wings as to a dove, and I shall fly and shall rest?" Shall rest, where? I have said there are two senses here: either, as saith the Apostle, "To be dissolved and to be with Christ, for it is by far the best thing."[10] ... Even he that amended cannot be, is thine, either by the fellowship of the human race, or ofttimes by Church Communion; he is within, what wilt thou do? whither wilt go? whither separate thyself, in order that these things thou mayest not suffer? But go to him, speak, exhort, coax, threaten, reprove. I have done all things, whatever powers I had I have expended and have drained, nothing I see have I prevailed; all my labour hath been spent out, sorrow hath remained. How then shall my heart rest from such men, except I say, "Who shall give me wings?" "As to a dove," however, not as to a raven. A dove seeketh a flying away from troubles, but she loseth not love. For a dove as a type of love is set forth, and in her the plaint is loved. Nothing is so fond of plaints as a dove: day and night she complaineth, as though she were set here where she ought to complain. What then saith this lover? Revilings of men to bear I am unable, they roar, with frenzy are carried away, are inflamed with indignation, in anger they shadow[1] me; to do good to them I am unable; O that I might rest somewhere, being separated from them in body, not in love; lest in me there should be troubled love itself: with my words and my speech no good can I do them, by praying for them perchance I shall do good. These words men say, but ofttimes they are so bound, that to fly they are not able. For perchance they are not bound with any birdlime, but are bound by duty. But if they are bound with care and duty, and to leave it are unable, let them say," I was wishing to be dissolved and to be with Christ, for it is by far the best thing: to abide in the flesh is necessary because of you."[2] A dove bound back by affection, not by cupidity, was not able to fly away because of duty to be fulfilled, not because of little merit. Nevertheless a longing in heart must needs be; nor doth any man suffer this longing, but he that hath begun to walk in that narrow way:[3] in order that he may know that there are not wanting to the Church persecutions, even in this time, when a calm is seen in the Church, at least with respect to those persecutions which our Martyrs have suffered. But there are not wanting persecutions, because a true saying is this, "All that will godly to live in Christ, shall suffer persecution."[4] ...

8. "Behold I have gone afar fleeing, and have abode in the desert" (ver. 7). In what desert? Wherever thou shalt be, there will gather them together other men, the desert with thee they will seek, will attach themselves to thy life, thou canst not thrust back the society of brethren: there are mingled with thee also evil men; still exercise is thy due portion," Behold I have gone afar, and have abode in the desert." In what desert? It is perchance in the conscience, whither no man entereth, where no one is with thee, where thou art and God. For if in the desert, in any place, what wilt thou do with men gathering themselves together? For thou wilt not be able to be separated from mankind, so long as among men thou livest.[5] ...

9. "I was looking for him that should save me from weakness of mind and tempest (ver. 8). Sea there is, tempest there is: nothing for thee remaineth but to cry out, "Lord, I perish."[6] Let Him stretch forth hand, who doth the waves tread fearlessly, let Him relieve thy dread, let Him confirm in Himself thy security, let Him speak to thee within, and say to thee, "Give heed to Me, what I have borne:" an evil brother perchance thou art suffering, or an enemy without art suffering; which of these have I not suffered? There roared without Jews, within a disciple was betraying. There rageth therefore tempest, but He doth save men from weakness of mind, and tempest. Perchance thy ship is being troubled, because He in thee is sleeping. The sea was raging, the bark wherein the disciples were sailing was being tossed; but Christ was sleeping: at length it was seen by them that among them was sleeping the Ruler[7] and Creator of winds; they drew near and awoke Christ;[8] He commanded[9] the winds, and there was a great calm. With reason then perchance thy heart is troubled, because thou hast forgotten Him on whom thou hast believed: beyond endurance thou art suffering, because it hath not come into thy mind what for thee Christ hath borne. If unto thy mind cometh not Christ, He sleepeth: awake Christ, recall faith. For then in thee Christ is sleeping, if thou hast forgotten the sufferings of Christ: then in thee Christ is watching, if thou hast remembered the sufferings of Christ. But when with full heart thou shalt have considered what He hath suffered, wilt not thou too with equanimity endure? and perchance rejoicing, because thou hast been found in some likeness of the sufferings of thy King. When therefore on these things thinking thou hast begun to be comforted and to rejoice, He hath arisen, He hath commanded the winds; therefore there is a great calm. "I was looking for Him that should save me from weakness of mind and tempest."

10. "Sink, O Lord, and divide the tongues of them" (ver. 9). He is referring to men troubling him and shadowing him, and he hath wished this thing not of anger, brethren. They that have wickedly lifted up themselves, for them it is expedient that they be sunk. They that have wickedly conspired, it is expedient for them that their tongues should be divided: to good let them consent, and let their tongues agree together. But if to one purpose[10] there were a whispering against me,[11] he saith, all mine enemies, let them lose their "one purpose" in evil, divided be the tongues of them, let them not with themselves agree together. "Sink, O Lord, and divide the tongues of them." Wherefore "sink"? Because themselves they have lifted up. Wherefore "divide"? Because for an evil thing they have united. Recollect that tower of proud men made after the deluge: what said the proud men? Lest we perish in a deluge, let us make a lofty tower.[1] In pride they were thinking themselves to be fortified, they builded up a lofty tower, and the Lord divided the tongues of them. Then they began not to understand one another; hence arose the beginning of many tongues. For before, one tongue there was: but one tongue for men agreeing was good, one tongue for humble men was good: but when that gathering together did into a union of pride fall headlong, God spared them; even though He divided the tongues, lest by understanding one another they should make a destructive unity. Through proud men, divided were the tongues; through humble Apostles, united were the tongues. Spirit of pride dispersed tongues, Spirit Holy united tongues. For when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, with the tongues of all men they spake,[2] by all men they were understood: tongues dispersed, into one were united. Therefore if still they rage and are Gentiles, it is expedient for them divided to have their tongues. They would have one tongue; let them come to the Church; because even among the diversity of tongues of flesh, one is the tongue in faith of heart.

11. "For I have seen iniquity and contradiction in the city." With reason this man was seeking the desert, for he saw iniquity and contradiction in the city. There is a certain city turbulent: the same it was that was building a tower, the same was confounded and called Babylon, the same through innumerable nations dispersed:[3] thence is gathered the Church into the desert of a good conscience. For he saw contradiction in the city. "Christ cometh."--"What Christ?" thou contradictest.--"Son of God."--" And hath God a Son?" thou contradictest.--"He was born of a virgin, suffered, rose again."--"And whence is it possible for this to be done?" thou contradictest.--Give heed at least to the glory of the Cross itself. Now on the brow of kings that Cross hath been fixed, over which enemies insulted. The effect hath proved the virtue.[4] It hath subdued the world, not with steel, but with wood. The wood of the Cross deserving of insults hath seemed to enemies, and before the wood itself standing they were wagging the head, and saying, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross."[5] He was stretching forth His hands to a people unbelieving and contradicting. For if just he is that of faith liveth,[6] unjust he is that hath not faith. By that which here he saith "iniquity," I understand unbelief. The Lord therefore was seeing in the city iniquity and contradiction, and was stretching forth His hands to a people unbelieving and contradicting: and nevertheless waiting for these same, He was saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."[7] Even now indeed there rage the remnant of that city, even now they contradict. From the brows of all men now He is stretching forth hands to the remnant unbelieving and contradicting.

12. "Day and night there will compass it upon the walls thereof iniquity, and labour."[8] "Upon the walls thereof;" upon the fortifications thereof, holding as it were the heads thereof, the noble men thereof. If that noble man were a Christian, not one would remain a pagan! Oft-times men say, "no one would remain a pagan, if he were a Christian." Ofttimes men say, "If he too were made a Christian, who would remain a pagan?" Because therefore not yet they are made Christians, as if walls they are of that city unbelieving and contradicting. How long shall these walls stand? Not always shall they stand. The Ark is going around the walls of Jericho: there shall come a time at the seventh going round of the Ark, when all the walls of the city unbelieving and contradicting shall fall.[9] Until it come to pass, this man is being troubled in his exercise; and enduring the remains of men contradicting, he would choose wings for flying away, would choose the rest of the desert. Yea let him continue amid men contradicting, let him endure menaces, drink revilings, and look for Him that will save him from weakness of mind and tempest: let him look upon the Head, the pattern for his life,[10] let him be made calm in hope, even if he is troubled in fact. "Day and night there will compass it upon the walls thereof iniquity; and labour in the midst thereof and injustice." And for this reason labour is there, because iniquity is there: because injustice is there, therefore also labour is there. But let them hear him stretching forth hands. "Come unto Me, all ye that labour."[11] Ye cry, ye contradict, ye revile: He on the contrary, "Come unto Me, all ye that labour," in your pride, and ye shall rest in My humility. "Learn of Me," He saith, "for meek I am and humble in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls."[12] For whence do they labour, but because they are not meek and humble in heart? God humble was made, let man blush to be proud.

13. "There hath not failed from the streets thereof usury and deceit" (ver. 11). Usury and deceit are not hidden at least, because they are evil things, but in public they rage. For he that in his house doth any evil thing, however for his evil thing doth blush: "In the streets thereof usury and deceit." Money-lending[1] even hath a profession, Money-lending also is called a science; a corporation is spoken of, a corporation as if necessary to the state, and of its profession it payeth revenue; so entirely indeed in the streets is that which should have been hidden. There is also another usury worse, when thou forgivest not that which to thee is owed; and the eye is disturbed in that verse of the prayer, "Forgive us our debts--as we too forgive our debtors."[2] For what there wilt thou do, when thou art going to pray, and coming to that same verse? An insulting word thou hast heard: thou wouldest exact the punishment of condemnation. Do but consent to exact just so much as thou hast given, thou usurer of injuries! With the fist thou hast been smitten, slaying thou seekest. Evil usury! How wilt thou go to prayer? If thou shall have left praying, which way wilt thou come round unto the Lord? Behold thou wilt say: "Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth." Thou wilt say, "Our daily bread give us to-day." Thou wilt come to, "Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors."[3] Even in that evil city let there abound these usuries; let them not enter the walls where the breast is smitten l What wilt thou do? because there thou and that verse are[4] in the midst? Petitions for thee hath a heavenly Lawyer composed.[5] He that knew what used there to be done, said to thee, "Otherwise thou shall not obtain." "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that if ye shall have forgiven men sins, they shall be forgiven you; but if ye shall not have forgiven sins unto men, neither will your Father forgive you."[6] Who saith this? He that knoweth what there is being done, in the place whereat thou art standing to make request. See how Himself hath willed to be thy Advocate; Himself thy Counsellor? Himself the Assessor of the Father Himself thy Judge hath said, "Otherwise thou shalt not receive." What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not receive, unless thou shall speak; wilt not receive if falsely thou shall speak. Therefore either thou must do and speak, or else what thou askest thou wilt not earn; because they that this do not do, are in the midst of those evil usuries. Be they engaged therein, that yet do idols either adore or desire: do not thou, O people of God, do not thou, O people of Christ, do not thou the Body of Him the Head! Give heed to the bond s of thy peace, give heed to the promise of thy life. For what doth it profit thee, that thou exactest for injuries which thou hast endured? doth vengeance refresh thee? Therefore, over the evil of another shalt thou rejoice? Thou hast suffered evil; pardon thou; be not ye two.[9] ...

14. "For if an enemy had upbraided me" (ver. 12). And indeed above he was "troubled in his exercise" by the voice of the enemy and by the tribulation of the sinner, perhaps being placed in that city, that proud city that was building a tower, which was "sunk,"[10] that divided might be the tongues: give heed to his inward groaning because of perils from false brethren. "For if an enemy had upbraided me, I would have undergone it assuredly, and if he that did hate me had over me spoken great words," that is, through pride had on me trampled, did magnify himself above me, did threaten me all in his power: "I would hide myself assuredly from him." From him that is abroad, thou wouldest hide thyself where? Amid those that are within. But now see whether anything else remaineth, but that thou seek solitude. "But thou," he saith, "man of one mind, my guide and my friend" (ver. 13). Perchance sometimes good counsel thou hast given, perchance sometimes thou hast gone before me, and some wholesome advice thou hast given me: in the Church of God together we have been. "But thou, ... that together with me didst take sweet morsels" (ver. 14). What are the sweet morsels? Not all they that are present know: but let them not be soured that do know, in order that they may be able to say to them that as yet know not: "Taste ye and see, how sweet is the Lord."[11] "In the House of God we have walked with consent." Whence then dissension? Thou that wast within, hast become one without. He hath walked with me in the House of God with consent: another house hath he set up against the House of God. Wherefore hath that been forsaken, wherein we have walked with consent?[12] wherefore hath that been deserted, wherein together we did take sweet morsels?

15. "Let there come death upon them, and let them go down unto Hell living" (ver. 15). How hath he cited and hath made us call to mind that first beginning of schism, when in that first people of the Jews certain proud men separated themselves, and would without have sacrificed? A new death upon them came: the earth opened herself, and swallowed them up alive.[1] "Let there come," he saith, "death upon them, and let them go down into Hell living." What is "living"? knowing that they are perishing, and yet perishing. Hear of living men perishing and being swallowed up in a gulf of the earth, that is, being swallowed up in the voraciousness of earthly desires.[2] Thou sayest to a man, What aileth thee, brother? Brethren we are, one God we invoke, in one Christ we believe, one Gospel we hear, one Psalm we sing, one Amen we respond, one Hallelujah we sound, one Easter we celebrate: why art thou without and I am within? Ofttimes one straitened, and perceiving how true are the charges which are made, saith, May God requite our ancestors! Therefore alive he perisheth. In the next place thou continuest and thus givest warning. At least let the evil of separation stand alone, why dost thou adjoin thereto that of rebaptism? Acknowledge in me what thou hast; and if thou hatest me, spare thou Christ in me. And this evil thing doth frequently and very greatly displease them. ... Because they themselves have the Scriptures in their hands, and know well by daily reading how the Church Catholic through the whole world is so spread, that in a word all contradiction is void; and that there cannot be found any support for their schism they know well: therefore unto the lower places living they go down, because the evil which they do, they know evil to be. But the former a fire of divine indignation consumed. For being inflamed with desire of strife, from their evil leaders they would not depart. There came upon fire a fire, upon the heat of dissension the heat of consuming. "For naughtiness is in their lodgings, in the midst of them." "In their lodgings,"[3] wherein they tarry and pass away. For here they are not alway to be: and nevertheless in defence of a temporal animosity they are fighting so fiercely. "In their lodgings is iniquity; in the midst of them is iniquity:" no part of them is so near the middle of them as their heart.

16. "Therefore to the Lord I have cried out" (ver. 16). The Body of Christ and the oneness of Christ in anguish, in weariness, in uneasiness, in the tribulation of its exercise, that One Man, Oneness in One Body set, when He was wearying His soul in crying out from the ends of the earth; saith, "From the ends of the earth to Thee I have cried out, when My heart was being vexed."[4] Himself one, but a oneness s that One! and Himself one, not in one place one, but from the ends of the earth is crying as one. How from the ends of the earth should there cry one, except in many there were one? "I to the Lord have cried out." Rightly do thou cry out to the Lord, cry not to Donatus: lest for thee he be instead of the Lord a lord, that under the Lord would not be a fellow-servant.

17. "In evening, in morning, at noon-day I will recount and will tell forth, and He shall hearken to my voice" 6 (ver. 18). Do thou proclaim glad tidings, keep not secret that which thou hast received, "in evening" of things gone by, "in morning" of things to be, at "noonday" of things ever to be. Therefore, to that which he saith "in evening" belongeth that which he recounteth: to that which he saith, "in morning," belongeth that which he telleth forth: to that which he saith "at noon-day," belongeth that wherein his voice is hearkened to. For the end is at noon-day; that is to say, whence there is no going down unto setting. For at noon-day there is light full high, the splendour of wisdom, the fervour of love. "In evening and in morning and at noon-day." "In evening," the Lord on the Cross; "in morning," in Resurrection; "at noon-day," in Ascension. I will recount in evening the patience of Him dying, I will tell forth in morning the life of Him rising, I will pray that He hearken at noon-day sitting at the right hand of the Father. He shall hearken to my voice, That intercedeth for us.[7] How great is the security of this man. How great the consolation, how great the refuge "from weakness of mind and tempest," against evil men, against ungodly men both without and within, and in the case of those that are without though they had been within.

18. Therefore, my Brethren, those that in the very congregation of these walls ye see to be rebellious men, proud, seeking their own, lifted up; not having a zeal for God that is chaste, sound, quiet, but ascribing to themselves much; ready for dissension, but not finding opportunity; are the very chaff of the Lord's floor.[8] From hence these few men the wind of pride hath dislodged: the whole floor will not fly, save when He at the last shall winnow. But what shall we do, save with this man sing, with this man pray, with this man mourn and say securely, "He shall redeem in peace my soul" (ver. 18). Against them that love not peace: "in peace He shall redeem my soul." "Because with those that hated peace I was peace-making."[9] "He shall redeem in peace my soul, from those that draw near to me." For from those that are afar from me, it is an easy case: not so soon doth he deceive me that saith, Come, pray to an idol: he is very far from me. Art thou a Christian? A Christian, he saith. Out of a neighbouring place he is my adversary, he is at hand. "He shall redeem in peace my soul, from those that draw near to me: for in many things they were with me." Wherefore have I said, "draw near to me"? Because "in many things they were with me." In this verse two propositions occur. "In many things they were with me." Baptism we had both of us, in that they were with me: the Gospel we both read, they were in that with me: the festivals of martyrs we celebrated, they were there with me: Easter's solemnity we attended, they were there with me. But not entirely with me: in schism not with me, in heresy not with me. In many things with me, in few things not with me. But in these few things wherein not with me, there is no profit to them of the many things wherein they were with me. For see, brethren, how many things hath recounted the Apostle Paul: one thing, he hath said, if it shall have been wanting, in vain are those things. "If with the tongues of men and of angels I shall speak," he saith, "if I have all prophecy, and all faith, and all knowledge; if mountains I shall remove, if I shall bestow all my goods upon the poor, if I shall deliver my body even so that it be burned. How many things he hath enumerated! To all these many things let there be wanting one thing, charity; the former in number are more, the latter in weight is greater. Therefore in all Sacraments they are with me, in one charity not with me: "In many things they were with me." Again, by a different expression: "For in many things they were with me." They that themselves have separated from me, with me they were, not in few things, but in many things. For throughout the whole world few are the grains, many are the chaffs. Therefore he saith what? In chaff with me they were, in wheat with me they were not. And the chaff is nearly related to the wheat, from one seed it goeth forth, in one field is rooted, with one rain is nourished, the same reaper it suffereth, the same threshing sustaineth, the same winnowing awaiteth, but not into one barn entereth.

19. "God will hear me, and He shall humble them That is before ages" (ver. 19). For they rely on some leader or other of theirs that hath begun but yesterday. "He shall humble them That is before ages." For even if with reference to time Christ is of Mary the Virgin, nevertheless before ages: "In the beginning He is the Word and the Word with God, and the Word God."[2] "He shall humble them That is before ages. For to them is no changing:" of them I "speak to whom is no changing." He knew of some to persevere, and in the perseverance of their own wickedness to die. For we see them, and to them is no changing: they that die in that same perverseness, in that same schism, to them is no changing. God shall humble them, shall humble them in damnation, because they are exalted in dissension. To them is no changing, because they are not changed for the better, but for the worse: neither while they are here, nor in the resurrection. For all we shall rise again, but[3] not all shall be changed. Wherefore? Because "'To them is no changing: and they have not feared God." ...

20. "He stretcheth forth His hand in requiting" (ver. 20). "They have polluted His Testament." Read the testament which they have polluted: "In thy seed shall be blessed all nations."[4] Thou against these words of the Testator sayest what? The Africa of holy Donatus hath alone deserved this grace, in him hath remained the Church of Christ. Say at least the Church of Donatus. Wherefore addest thou, of Christ? Of whom it is said, "In thy seed shall be blessed all nations." After Donatus wilt thou go? Set aside Christ, and then secede. See therefore what followeth: "They have polluted His Testament." What Testament? To Abraham have been spoken the promises, and to his seed. The Apostle saith, "Nevertheless, a man's testament confirmed no one maketh void, or super-addeth to: to Abraham have been spoken the promises, and to his seed. He saith not, And to seeds, as if in many; but as if in one, And to thy Seed, which is Christ."[5] In this Christ, therefore, what Testament hath been promised? "In thy seed shall be blessed all nations." Thou that hast given up the unity of all nations, and in a part hast remained, hast polluted His Testament. ...

21. "And His heart hath drawn near" (ver. 22). Of whom do we understand it, except of Him, by the anger of whom they have been divided? How "hath his heart drawn near"? In such sort, that we may understand His will. For by Keretics hath been vindicated the Catholic Church, and by those that think evil have been proved those that think well. For many things lay hid in the Scriptures: and when heretics had been cut off, with questions they troubled the Church of God: then those things were opened which lay hid, and the will of God was understood.[6] Thence is said in another Psalm, "In order that they might be excluded that have been proved with silver."[7] For let them be excluded, He hath said, let them come forth, let them appear. Whence even in silver-working men are called "excluders," that is, pressers out of form from the sort of confusion of the lump. Therefore many men that could understand and expound the Scriptures very excellently, were hidden among the people of God: but they did not declare the solution of difficult questions, when no reviler again urged them. For was the Trinity perfectly treated of before the Arians snarled thereat? Was repentance perfectly treated of before the Novatians opposed? So not perfectly of Baptism was it treated, before rebaptizers removed outside[1] contradicted; nor of the very oneness of Christ were the doctrines clearly stated which have been stated, save after that this separation began to press upon the weak: in order that they that knew how to treat of and solve these questions (lest the weak should perish vexed with the questions of the ungodly), by their discourses and disputations should bring out unto open day the dark things of the Law.[2] ... This obscure sense see in what manner the Apostle bringeth out into light; "It is needful," he saith, "that also heresies there be, in order that men proved may be made manifest among you."[3] What is "men proved"? Proved with silver, proved with the word. What is "may be made manifest"? May be brought out.[4] Wherefore this? Because of heretics. So therefore these also "have been divided because of the anger of His countenance, and His heart hath drawn near."

22. "His discourses have been softened above oil, and themselves are darts" (ver. 21). For certain things in the Scriptures were seeming hard, while they were obscure; when explained, they have been softened. For even the first heresy in the disciples of Christ, as it were from the hardness of His discourse arose. For when He said, "Except a man shall have eaten My flesh and shall have drunk My blood, he shall not have life in himself:" they, not understanding, said to one another, "Hard is this discourse, who can hear it?" Saying that, "Hard is this discourse," they separated from Him: He remained with the others, the twelve. When they had intimated to Him, that by His discourse they had been scandalized, "Will ye also," He saith, "choose to go?" Then Peter: "Thou hast the Word of life eternal: to whom shall we go?"[5] Attend, we beseech you, and ye little ones learn godliness. Did Peter by any means at that time understand the secret of that discourse of the Lord? Not yet he understood: but that good were the words which he understood not, godly he believed. Therefore if hard is a discourse, and not yet is understood, be it hard to an ungodly man, but to thee be it by godliness softened: for whenever it is solved, it both will become for thee oil, and even unto the bones it will penetrate.

23. Furthermore, just as Peter, after their having been scandalized by the hardness, as they thought, of the discourse of the Lord, even then said, "to whom shall we go?" so he hath added, "Cast upon the Lord thy care, and He shall Himself nourish thee up" (ver. 22). A little one thou art, not yet thou understandest the secret things of words: perchance from thee the bread is hidden, and as yet with milk thou must be fed:[6] be not angry with the breasts: they will make thee fit for the table, for which now little fitted thou art. Behold by the division of heretics many hard things have been softened: His discourses that were hard have been softened above oil, and they are themselves darts. They have armed men preaching the Gospel: and the very discourses are aimed at the breast of every one that heareth, by men instant in season and out of season: by those discourses, by those words, as though by arrows, hearts of men unto the love of peace are smitten. Hard they were, and soft they have been made. Being softened they have not lost their virtue, but into darts have been converted. ... Upon the Lord cast thyself. Behold thou wilt cast thyself upon the Lord, let no one put himself in the place of the Lord. "Cast upon the Lord thy care." ...

24. But to the others what? "But Thou, O God, shall bring them down unto the pit of corruption" (ver. 23). The pit of corruption is the darkness of sinking under. When blind leadeth blind, they both fall into a ditch.[7] God bringeth them down into the pit of corruption, not because He is the author of their own guilt, but because He is Himself the judge of their iniquities. "For God hath delivered them unto the desires of their heart."[8] For they have loved darkness, and not light; they have loved blindness, and not seeing. For behold the Lord Jesus hath shone out to the whole world, let them sing in unity with the whole world: "For there is not one that can hide himself from the heat of Him."[9] But they passing over from the whole to a part, from the body to a wound, from life to a limb cut off, shall meet with what, but going into the pit of corruption?

25. "Men of bloods and of deceitfulness." Men of bloods, because of slayings he calleth them: and O that they were corporal and not spiritual slayings. For blood from the flesh going forth, is seen and shuddered at: who seeth the blood of the heart in a man rebaptized? Those deaths require other eyes. Although even about these visible deaths Circumcelliones armed everywhere remain not quiet. And if we think of these visible deaths, there are men of bloods. Give heed to the armed man, whether he is a man of peace and not of blood. If at least a club only he were to carry, well; but he carrieth a sling, carrieth an axe, carrieth stones, carrieth lances; and carrying these weapons, wherever they may they scour, for the blood of innocent men they thirst.[1] Therefore even with regard to these visible deaths there are men of bloods. But even of them let us say, O that such deaths alone they perpetrated, and souls they slew not. These that are men of bloods and of deceit, let them not suppose that we thus wrongly understand men of bloods, of them that kill souls: they themselves of their Maximianists[2] have so understood it. For when they condemned them, in the very sentence of their Council they have set down these words: "Swift are the feet of them to shed the blood" (of the proclaimers[3]), "tribulation and calamity are in the ways of them, and the way of peace they have not known."[4] This of the Maximianists they have said. But I ask of them, when have the Maximianists shed the body's blood; not because they too would not shed, if there were so great a multitude as could shed, but because of the fear in their minority rather they have suffered somewhat from others, than have themselves at any time done any such thing. Therefore I question the Donatist and say: In thy Council thou hast set down of the Maximianists, "Swift are the feet of them to shed blood." Show me one of whom the Maximianists have hurt so much as a finger! What other thing to me is he to answer, than that which I say? They that have separated themselves from unity,[5] and who slay souls by leading astray, spiritually, not carnally, do shed blood. Very well thou hast expounded, but in thy exposition acknowledge their own deeds. "Men of bloods and of deceitfulness." In guile is deceitfulness, in dissimulation, in seduction. What therefore of those very men that have been divided because of the anger of His countenance? They are themselves men of bloods and of deceit.

26. But of them he saith what? "They shall not halve their days." What is, "They shall not halve their days"? They shall not make progress as much as they think: within the time which they expect, they shall perish. For he is that partridge, whereof hath been said, "In the half of his days they shall leave him, and in his last days he shall be an unwise one."[6] They make progress, but for a time. For what saith the Apostle? "But evil men and seducers shall make progress for the worse, themselves erring, and other men into error driving."[7] But "a blind man leading a blind man, together into a ditch they fall."[8] Deservedly they fall "into the pit of corruption." What therefore saith he? They shall make progress for the worse: not however for long. For a little before he hath said, "But further they shall not make progress:"[9] that is, "shall not halve their days." Let the Apostle proceed and tell wherefore: "For the madness of them shall be manifest to all men, as also was that of the others." "But I in Thee will hope, O Lord." But deservedly they shall not halve their days, because in man they have hoped. But I from days temporal have reached unto day eternal. Wherefore? Because in Thee I have hoped, O Lord.



PSALM 56

1. Just as when we are going to enter into any house, we look on the title to see whose it is and to whom it belongeth, lest perchance inopportunely we burst into a place whereunto we ought not; and again, in order that we may not through timidity withdraw from that which we ought to enter: as if in a word we were to read, These estates belong to such an one or to such an one: so on the lintel of this Psalm we have inscribed, "At the end, for the people that from holy men were put afar off, to David himself, at the inscription of the Title, when the Allophyli held him in Gath."[11] Let us therefore take knowledge of the people that from holy men were put afar off at the inscription of the Title. For this doth belong to that David whom now ye know how to understand spiritually. For there is here commended to our notice no other than He of whom hath been said, "The end of the Law is Christ for righteousness to every man believing."[12] Therefore when thou hearest "at the end," unto Christ give heed, lest tarrying in the way thou arrive not at the end. ...

2. Who are then the people that from holy men were put afar off at the inscription of the Title? Let the Title itself declare to us that people. For there was written a certain title at the Passion of the Lord, when the Lord was crucified: there was in that place a Title inscribed in Hebrew, in Greek, and in Latin, "The King of the Jews;"[13] in three tongues as though by three witnesses the Title was confirmed: because "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall stand every word."[1]...

3. What therefore meaneth that which to the title itself still belongeth, namely, that "the Allophyli held him in Geth"? Geth was a certain city of the Allophyli,[2] that is, of strangers, to wit, of people afar from holy men. All they that refuse Christ for King become strangers. Wherefore strangers are they made? Because even that vine, though by Him planted, when it had become sour what heard it? "Wherefore hast thou been turned into sourness, O alien vine?"[3] It hath not been said, My vine: because if Mine, sweet; if sour, not Mine; if not Mine, surely alien. "There held him," then, "Allophyli in Geth." We find indeed, brethren, David himself, son of Jesse, king of Israel, to have been in a strange land among the Allophyli, when he was sought by Saul, and was in that city and with the king of that city,[4] but that there he was detained we read not. Therefore our David, the Lord Jesus Christ out of the seed of that David, not alone they held, but there hold Him still Allophyli in Geth. Of Geth we have said that it is a city. But the interpretation of this name, if asked for, signifieth "press." ... How therefore here is He held in Geth? Held in a winepress is His Body, that is, His Church. What is, in a winepress? In pressings. But in a winepress fruitful is the pressing. A grape on the vine sustaineth no pressing, whole it seemeth, but nothing thence floweth: it is thrown into a winepress, is trodden, is pressed; harm seemeth to be done to the grape, but this harm is not barren; nay, if no harm had been applied, barren it would have remained.

4. Let whatsoever holy men therefore that are suffering pressing from those that have been put afar off from the saints, give heed to this Psalm, let them perceive here themselves, let them speak what here is spoken, that suffer what here is spoken of. ... Private enmities therefore let no one think of, when about to hear the words of this Psalm: "Know ye that for us the wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against princes and powers, and spiritual things of wickedness,"[5] that is, against the devil and his angels; because even when we suffer men that annoy us, he is instigating, he is inflaming, as it were his vessels he is moving. Let us give heed therefore to two enemies, him whom we see, and him whom we see not; man we see, the devil we see not; man let us love, of the devil beware; for man pray, against the devil pray, and let us say to God, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down" (ver. 1). Fear not because man hath trodden thee clown: have thou wine, a grape thou hast become in order that thou shouldest be trodden. "All day long warring he hath troubled me," every one that hath been put afar off from the saints. But why should not here be understood even the devil himself? Is it because mention is made of "man"?[6] doth therefore the Gospel err, because it hath said, "A man that is an enemy hath done this"?[7] But by a kind of figure may he also be called a man,[8] and yet not be a man. Whether therefore it was him whom he that said these words was beholding, or whether it was the people and each one that was put afar off from holy men, through which kind the devil troubleth the people of God, who cleave to holy men, who cleave to the Holy One, who cleave to the King, at the title of which King being indignant they were as though beaten back, and put afar off: let him say, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down:" and let him faint not in this treading down, knowing Him on whom he is calling, and by whose example he hath been made strong. The first cluster in the winefat pressed is Christ. When that cluster by passion was pressed Out,[9] there flowed that whence "the cup inebriating is how passing beautiful!"[10] Let His Body likewise say, looking upon its Head, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down: all day long warring he hath troubled me." "All day long," at all times. Let no one say to himself, There have been troubles in our fathers' time, in our time there are not. If thou supposest thyself not to have troubles, not yet hast thou begun to be a Christian. And where is the voice of the Apostle, "But even all that will live godly in Christ, persecutions shall suffer."[11] If therefore thou sufferest not any persecution for Christ, take heed lest not yet thou hast begun godly to live in Christ. But when thou hast begun godly to live in Christ, thou hast entered into the winepress; make ready thyself for pressings: but be not thou dry, lest from the pressing nothing go forth.

5. "Mine enemies have trodden me down all day long" (ver. 2). They that have been put afar off from holy men, these are mine enemies. All day long: already it hath been said, "From the height[12] of the day." What meaneth, "from the height of the day"? Perchance it is a high thing to understand. And no wonder, because the height of the day it is. For perchance they for this reason have been put afar off from holy men, because they were not able to penetrate the height of the day, whereof the Apostles are twelve shining hours. Therefore they that crucified Him, as if man, in the day have erred. But why have they suffered darkness, so that they should be put afar off from holy men? Because on high the day was shining, Him in the height hidden they knew not. "For if they had known, never the Lord of Glory would they have crucified."[1] ...

6. "For many men that war against me, shall fear" (ver. 3). Shall fear when? When the day shall have passed away, wherein they are high. For for a time high they are, when the time of their height is finished they will fear. "But I in Thee will hope, O Lord." He saith not, "But I will not fear:" but, "Many men, that war against me, shall fear." When there shall have come that day of Judgment, then "shall mourn for themselves all the tribes of the earth."[2] When there shall have appeared the sign of the Son of Man in heaven, then secure shall be all holy men. For that thing shall come which they hoped for, which they longed for, the coming whereof they prayed for: but to those men no place for repentance shall remain, because in that time wherein fruitful might have been repentance, their heart they hardened against a warning Lord. Shall they too raise up a wall against a judging God? The godliness of this man do thou indeed acknowledge, and if in that Body thou art, imitate him. When he had said, "Many men, that war against me, shall fear:" he did not continue, "But I will not fear;" lest to his own powers ascribing his not fearing, he too should be amid high temporal things, and through pride temporal he should not deserve to come to rest everlasting: rather he hath made thee to perceive whence he shall not fear. "But I," he saith, "in thee will hope, O Lord:" he hath not spoken of his confidence: but of the cause of his confidence. For if I shall not fear, I may also by hardness of heart not fear, for many men by too much pride fear nothing. ...

7. "In God I will praise my discourses, in God I have[3] hoped: I will not fear what flesh doeth to me" (ver. 4). Wherefore? Because in God I will praise my discourses. If in thyself thou praisest thy discourses: I say not that thou art not to fear; it is impossible that thou have not to fear. For thy discourses either false thou wilt have, and therefore thine own, because false: or if thy discourses shall be true, and thou shalt deem thyself not to have them from God but of thyself to speak; true they will be, but thou wilt be false: but if thou shalt have known that thou canst say nothing true in the wisdom of God, in the faith of the Truth, save that which From Him thou hast received, of whom is said, "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?"[4] Then in God thou art praising thy discourses, in order that in God thou mayest be praised by the discourses of God. ... "In God I have hoped, I will not fear what flesh doeth to me." Wast thou not the same that a little before wast saying, "Have pity on me, O Lord, for man hath trodden me down; all day long warring he hath troubled me"?[5] How therefore here, "I will not fear what flesh doeth to me"? What shall he do to thee? Thou thyself a little before hast said, "Hath trodden me down, hath troubled me." Nothing shall he do, when these things he shall do? He hath had regard to the wine which floweth from treading, and hath made answer, Evidently he hath trodden down, evidently hath troubled; but what to me shall he do? A grape I was, wine I shall be: "In God I have hoped, I will not fear what flesh doeth to me."

8. "All day long my words they abhorred" (ver. 5). Thus they are, ye know. Speak truth, preach truth, proclaim Christ to the heathen, proclaim the Church to heretics, proclaim to all men salvation: they contradict, they abhor my words. But when my words they abhor, whom think ye they abhor, save Him in whom I shall praise my discourses? "All day long my words they abhorred." Let this at least suffice, let them abhor words, no farther let them proceed, censure, reject! Be it far from them! Why should I say this? When words they reject, when words they hate, those words which from the fount of truth flow forth, what would they do to him through whom the very words are spoken? what but that which followeth, "Against me all the counsels of them are for evil?" If the bread itself they hate, how spare they the basket wherein it is ministered? "Against me all the counsels of them are for evil." If so even against the Lord Himself, let not the Body disdain that which hath gone before in the Head, to the end that the Body may cleave to the Head. Despised hath been thy Lord, and wilt thou have thyself be honoured by those men that have been put afar off from holy men? Do not for thyself wish to claim that which in Him hath not gone before. "The disciple is not greater than his Master; the servant is not greater than his Lord. If the Master of the family they have called Beelzebub, how much more them of His household?"[6] Against me all the counsels of them are for evil."

9. "They shall sojourn, and shall hide" (ver. 6). To sojourn is to be in a strange land. Sojourners is a term used of those then that live in a country not their own. Every man in this life is a foreigner: in which life ye see that with flesh we are covered round, through which flesh the heart cannot be seen. Therefore the Apostle saith, "Do not before the time judge anything, until the Lord come, and He shall enlighten the hidden things of darkness, and shall manifest the thoughts of the heart; and then praise shall be to each one from God."[1] Before that this be done, in this sojourning of fleshly life every one carrieth his own heart, and every heart to every other heart is shut. Furthermore, those men of whom the counsels are against this man for evil, "shall sojourn, and shall hide:" because in this foreign abode they are, and carry flesh, they hide guile in heart; whatsoever of evil they think, they hide. Wherefore? Because as yet this life is a foreign one. Let them hide; that shall appear which they hide, and they too will not be hidden. There is also in this hidden thing another interpretation, which perchance will be more approved of. For out of those men that have been put afar off from holy men, there creep in certain false brethren, and they cause worse tribulations to the Body of Christ; because they are not altogether avoided as if entirely aliens. ... Not even those men nevertheless let us fear, brethren: "I will not fear what flesh doeth to me." Even if they sojourn, even if they go in, even if they feign, even if they hide, flesh they are: do thou in the Lord hope, nothing to thee shall flesh do. But he bringeth in tribulation, bringeth in treading down. There is added wine, because the grape is pressed: thy tribulation will not be unfruitful: another seeth thee, imitateth thee: because thou also in order that thou mightest learn to bear such a man, to thy Head hast looked up, that first cluster, unto whom there hath come in a man that he might see, hath sojourned, and hath hidden, to wit, the traitor Judas. All men, therefore, that with false heart go in, sojourning and hiding, do not thou fear: the father of these same men, Judas, with thy Lord hath been: and He indeed knew him; although Judas the traitor was sojourning and hiding, nevertheless, the heart of him was open to the Lord of all:[2] knowingly He chose one man, whereby He might give comfort to thee that wouldest not know whom thou shouldest avoid. For He might have not chosen Judas, because He knew Judas: for He saith to His disciples, "Have not I chosen you twelve, and one out of you is a devil?"[3] Therefore even a devil was chosen. Or if chosen he was not, how is it that He hath chosen twelve, and not rather eleven? Chosen even he is, but for another purpose. Chosen were eleven for the work of probation, chosen one for the work of temptation.[4] Whence could He give an example to thee, that wouldest not know what men thou shouldest avoid as evil, of what men thou shouldest beware as false and artificial, sojourning and hiding, except He say to thee, Behold, with Myself I have had one of those very men! There hath gone before an example, I have borne, to suffer I have willed that which I knew, in order that to thee knowing not I might give consolation. That which to Me he hath done, the same he will do to thee also: in order that he may be able to do much, in order that he may make much havoc, he will accuse, false charges he will allege. ...

10. "These same men shall mark my heel." For they shall sojourn and hide in such sort, that they may mark where a man slippeth. Intent they are upon the heel, to see when a slip may chance to be made; in order that they may detain the foot for a fall, or trip up the foot for a stumble; certes that they may find that which they may accuse. And what man so walketh, that nowhere he slippeth? For example, how speedily is a slip made even in tongue? For it is written, "Whosoever in tongue stumbleth not, the same is a perfect man."[5] What man I pray would dare himself to call or deem perfect? Therefore it must needs be that every one slip in tongue. But let them that shall sojourn and shall hide, carp at all words, seeking somewhere to make snares and knotty false accusations, wherein they are themselves entangled before those whom they strive to entangle: in order that they may themselves be taken and perish before that they catch other men in order to destroy them. ... Whatever good thing I have said, whatever true thing I have said, of God I have said it, and from God have said it: whatever other thing perchance I have said, which to have said I ought not, as a man I have said, but under God I have said. He that strengtheneth one walking, doth menace one straying, forgive one acknowledging, recalleth the tongue, recalleth him that slipped. ... Attend thou unto the discourses of him whom thou blamest, whether perchance he may teach thee something to thy health. And what, he saith, shall he be able to teach to my health, that hath so slipped in word? This very thing perchance he is teaching thee to thy health, that thou be not a carper at words, but a gatherer of precepts. "As my soul hath undergone." I speak of that which I have undergone. He was speaking as one experienced: "As my soul hath undergone. They shall sojourn and hide." Let my soul undergo all men, men without barking, men within hiding, let it undergo. From without coming, like a river cometh temptation: on the Rock let it find thee, let it strike against, not throw thee down; the house hath been founded upon a Rock.[1] Within he is, he shall sojourn and hide: suppose chaff is near thee, let there come in the treading of oxen, let there come in the roller of temptations; thou art cleansed, the other is crushed.

11. "For nothing Thou shalt save them" (ver. 7). He hath taught us even for these very men to pray. However "they shall sojourn and hide," however deceitful they be, however dissemblers and liers in wait they be; do thou pray for them, and do not say, Shall God amend even such a man, so evil, so perverse? Do not despair: give heed to Him whom thou askest, not him for whom thou askest. The greatness of the disease seest thou, the might of the Physician seest thou not? "They shall sojourn and hide: as my soul hath undergone." Undergo, pray: and there is done what? "For nothing Thou shalt save them." Thou shalt make them safe so as that nothing to Thee it may be, that is, so that no labour to Thee it may be. With men they are despaired of, but Thou with a word dost heal; Thou wilt not toil in healing, though we are astounded in looking on. There is another sense in this verse, "For nothing Thou shalt save them:" with not any merits of their going before Thou shall save them. ... They shall not bring to Thee he-goats, rams, bulls, not gifts and spices shall they bring Thee in Thy temple, not anything of the drink-offering of a good conscience do they pour thereon; all in them is rough, all foul, all to be detested: and though they to Thee bring nothing whereby they may be saved; "For nothing Thou shall save them," that is, with the free gift of Thy Grace. ...

12. "In anger the peoples Thou shall bring down." Thou art angry and dost bring down, dost rage and save, dost terrify and call. Thou fillest with tribulations all things, in order that being set in tribulations men may fly to Thee, lest by pleasures and a wrong security they be seduced. From Thee anger is seen, but that of a father. A father is angry with a son, the despiser of his injunctions: being angry with him he boxeth him, striketh, pulleth the ear, draggeth with hand, leadeth to school. How many men have entered, how many men have filled the House of the Lord, in the anger of Him brought down, that is, by tribulations terrified and with faith filled? For to this end tribulation stirreth up; in order to empty the vessel which is full of wickedness, so as that it may be filled with grace.

13. "O God, my life I have told out to Thee" (ver. 8). For that I live hath been Thy doing, and for this reason I tell out my life to Thee. But did not God know that which He had given? What is that which thou tellest out to Him? Wilt thou teach God? Far be it. Therefore why saith he, "I have told out to Thee"? Is it perchance because it profiteth Thee that I have told out my life? And what doth it profit God? To the advantage of God it doth profit. I have told out to God my life, because that life hath been God's doing. In like manner as his life Paul the Apostle did tell out, saying, "I that before was a blasphemer and a persecutor and injurious," he shall tell out his life. "But mercy I have obtained."[2] He hath told out his life, not for himself, but for Him: because he hath told it out in such sort, that in Him men believe, not for his own advantages, but for the advantages of Him. ... "O God, my life I have told out to Thee. Thou hast put my tears in Thy sight." Thou hast hearkened to me imploring Thee. "As also in Thy promise." Because as Thou hadst promised this thing, so Thou hast done. Thou hast said Thou wouldest hearken to one weeping. I have believed, I have wept, I have been hearkened unto; I have found Thee merciful in prommising, true in repaying.

14. "Turned be mine enemies backward" (ver. 9). This thing to these very men is profitable, no ill to these men he is wishing. For to go before they are willing, therefore to be amended they are not willing. Thou warnest thine enemy to live well, that he amend himself: he scorneth, he rejecteth thy word: "Behold him that adviseth me; behold him from whom I am to hear the commandments whereby I shall live!" To go before thee he willeth, and in going before is not amended. He mindeth not that thy words are not thine, he mindeth not that thy life to God thou tellest out, not to thyself. In going before therefore he is not amended: it is a good thing for him that he be turned backward, and follow him whom to go before he willed. The Lord to His disciples was speaking of His Passion that was to be. Peter shuddered, and saith," Far be it, O Lord;"[3] he that a little before had said, "Thou art the Christ, Son of the living God," having confessed God, feared for Him to die, as if but a man. But the Lord who so came that He might suffer (for we could not otherwise be saved unless with His blood we were redeemed), a little before had praised the confession of Peter. ... But immediately when the Lord beginneth to speak of His Passion, he feared lest He should perish by death, whereas we ourselves should perish unless He died; and he saith, "Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done." And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, "Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church," saith, "Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me." Why therefore "Satan" is he, that a little before was "blessed," and a "Rock"? "For thou savourest not the things which are of God," He saith, "but those things which are of man.[1] A little before he savoured the things which are of God: because "not flesh and blood hath revealed to thee, but My Father which is in the Heavens." When in God he was praising his discourse, not Satan but Peter, from petra: but when of himself and out of human infirmity, carnal love of man, which would be for an impediment to his own salvation, and that of the rest, Satan he is called. Why? Because to go before the Lord he willed, and earthly counsel to give to the heavenly Leader. "Far be it, O Lord, this thing shall not be done." Thou sayest, "Far be it," and thou sayest, "O Lord:" surely if Lord He is, in power He doeth: if Master He is, He knoweth what He doeth, He knoweth what He teacheth. But thou wiliest to lead thy Leader, teach thy Master, command thy Lord, choose for God: much thou goest before, go back behind. Did not this too profit these enemies? "Turned be Mine enemies backward;" but let them not remain backward. For this reason let them be turned backward, lest they go before; but so that they follow, not so that they remain.

15. "In whatsoever day I shall have called upon Thee, behold I have known that my God art Thou" (ver. 9). A great knowledge. He saith not, "I have known that God Thou art:" but, "that my God art Thou." For thine He is, when thee He succoureth: thine He is, when thou to Him art not an alien. Whence is said, "Blessed the people of whom is the Lord the God of the same."[2] Wherefore "of whom is"? For of whom is He not? Of all things indeed God He is: but of those men the God peculiarly He is said to be, that love Him, that hold Him, that possess Him, that worship Him, as though belonging to His own House: the great family of Him are they, redeemed by the great blood of the Only Son. How great a thing hath God given to us, that His own we should be, and He should be ours! But in truth foreigners afar have been put from holy men, sons alien they are. See what of them is said in another Psalm: "0 Lord, deliver me," he saith, "from the hand of alien sons, of whom the mouth hath spoken vanity, and the right hand of them is a right hand of iniquity."[3] ...

16. Let us therefore love God, brethren, purely and chastely. There is not a chaste heart, if God for reward it worshippeth. How so? Reward of the worship of God shall not we have? We shall have evidently, but it is God Himself whom we worship. Himself for us a reward shall be, because "we shall see Him as He is."[4] Observe that a reward[5] thou shalt obtain. ... I will tell you, brethren: in these human alliances consider a chaste heart, of what sort it is towards God: certainly human alliances are of such sort, that a man doth not love his wife, that loveth her because of her portion: a woman her husband doth not chastely love, that for these reasons loveth him, because something he hath given, or because much he hath given. Both a rich man is a husband, and one that hath become a poor man is a husband. How many men proscribed, by chaste wives have been the more beloved! Proved have been many chaste marriages by the misfortunes of husbands: that the wives might not be supposed to love any other object more than their husband, not only have they not forsaken, but the more have they obeyed. If therefore a husband of flesh freely is loved, if chastely he is loved; and a wife of flesh freely is loved, if chastely she is loved; in what manner must God be loved, the true and truth-speaking Husband of the soul, making fruitful unto the offspring of everlasting life, and not suffering us to be barren? Him, therefore, so let us love, as that any other thing besides Himself be not loved: and there takes place in us that which we have spoken of, that which we have sung, because even here the voice is ours: "In whatsoever day I shall have called upon Thee, behold, I have known that my God art Thou." This is to call upon God, freely to call upon Him. Furthermore, of certain men hath been said what? "Upon the Lord they have not called."[6] The Lord they seemed as it were to call unto themselves and they besought Him about inheritances, about increasing money, about lengthening this life, about the rest of temporal things: and concerning them the Scripture saith what? "Upon the Lord they have not called." Therefore there followeth what? "There they have feared with fear, where there was no fear." What is, "where there was no fear"? Lest money should be stolen from them, lest anything in their house should be made less; lastly, lest they should have less of years in this life, than they hoped for themselves: but there have they trembled with fear, where there was no fear. ... "In God I will praise the word, in the Lord I will praise the discourse" (ver. 10): "in God I have hoped, I will not fear what man doeth unto me" (ver. 11). Now this is the very sense which above[1] hath been repeated.

17. "In me, O God, are Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee" (ver. 12). "Vow ye, and render to the Lord your God."[2] What vow, what render? Perchance those animals which were offered at the altars aforetime? No such thing offer thou: in thyself is what thou mayest vow and render. From the heart's coffer bring forth the incense of praise; from the store of a good conscience bring forth the sacrifice of faith. Whatsoever thing thou bringest forth, kindle with love. In thyself be the vows, which thou mayest render of praise to God. Of what praise? For what hath He granted thee? "For Thou hast rescued my soul from death" (ver. 13). This is that very life which he telleth out to Him: "O God, my life I have told out to Thee."[3] For I was what? Dead. Through myself I was dead: through Thee I am what? Alive. Therefore "in me, O God, are Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee." Behold I love my God: no one doth tear Him from me: that which to Him I may give, no one doth tear front me, because in the heart it is shut up. With reason is said with that former confidence, "What should man do unto me?"[4] Let man rage, let him be permitted to rage, be permitted to accomplish that which he attempteth: what is he to take away? Gold, silver, cattle, men servants, maid servants, estates, houses, let him take away all things: doth he by any means take away the vows, which are in me, which I may render of praise to God? The tempter was permitted to tempt a holy man, Job;[5] in one moment he took away all things: whatever of possessions he had had, he carried off: took away inheritance, slew heirs; and this not little by little, but in a crowd, at one blow, at one swoop, so that all things were on a sudden announced: when all was taken away, alone there remained Job, but in him were vows of praise, which he might render to God, in him evidently there were: the coffer of his holy breast the thieving devil had not rifled, full he was of that wherefrom he might sacrifice. Hear what he had, hear what he brought forth: "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away; as hath pleased the Lord, so hath been done: be the name of the Lord blessed."[6] O riches interior, whither thief doth not draw near! God Himself had given that whereof He was receiving; He had Himself enriched him with that whereof to Him he was offering that which He loved. Praise from thee God requireth, thy confession God requireth. But from thy field wilt thou give anything? He hath Himself rained in order that thou mayest have. From thy coffer wilt thou give anything? He hath Himself put in that which thou art to give. What wilt thou give, which from Him thou hast not received? "For what hast thou which thou hast not received?"[7] From the heart wilt thou give? He too hath given faith, hope, and charity: this thou must bring forth: this thou must sacrifice. But evidently all the other things the enemy is able to take away against thy will; this to take away he is not able, unless thou be willing. These things a man will lose even against his will: and wishing to have gold, will lose gold; and wishing to have house, will lose house: faith no one will lose, except him that shall have despised her.

18. "Because Thou hast rescued my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from slipping: that I may be pleasing before God in the light of the living" (ver. 13). With reason he is not pleasing to alien sons, that are put afar off from holy men, because they have not the light of the living, whence they may see that which to God is pleasing. "Light of the living," is light of the immortal, light of holy men. He that is not in darkness, is pleasing in the light of the living. A man is observed, and the things which belong to him; no one knoweth of what sort he is: God seeth of what sort he is. Sometimes even the devil himself he escapeth; except he tempt, he findeth not: just as concerning that man of whom just now I have made mention: ... "Doth Job by any means worship God for nought?"[8] For this was true light, this the light of the living, that gratis he should worship God. God saw in the heart of His servant His gratiotous worship. For that heart was pleasing in the sight of the Lord in the light of the living: the devil's sight he escaped, because in darkness he was. God admitted the tempter, not in order that He might Himself know that which He did know, but in order that to us to be known and imitated He might set it forth. Admitted was the tempter; he took away everything, there remained the man bereft of possessions, bereft of family, bereft of children, full of God. A wife certainly was left.[9] Merciful do ye deem the devil, that he left him a wife? He knew through whom he had deceived Adam. ... With wound smitten from head even unto feet, whole nevertheless within, he made answer to the woman tempting, out of the light of the living, out of the light of his heart: "thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women,"[10] that is, as though one that hath not the light of the living. For the light of the living is wisdom, and the darkness of unwise men is folly. Thou hast spoken as though one of the unwise women: my flesh thou seest, the light of my heart thou seest not. For she then might more have loved her husband, if the interior beauty she had known, and had beheld the place where he was beautiful before the eyes of God: because in Him were vows which he might render of praise to God. How entirely the enemy had forborne to invade that patrimony! How whole was that which he was possessing, and that because of which yet more to be possessed he hoped for, being to go on" from virtues unto virtue."[1] Therefore, brethren, to this end let all these things serve us, that God grates we love, in Him hope always, neither man nor devil fear. Neither the one nor the other doeth anything, except when it is permitted: permitted for no other reason can it be, except because it doth profit us. Let us endure evil men, let us be good men: because even we have been evil. Even as nothing[2] God shall save men, of whom we dare to despair. Therefore of no one let us despair, for all men whom we suffer let us pray, from God let us never depart. Our patrimony let Him be, our hope let Him be, our safety let Him be. He is Himself here a comforter, there a remunerator, everywhere Maker-alive, and of life the Giver, not of another life, but of that whereof hath been said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life:"[3] in order that both here in the light of faith, and there in the light of sight, as it were in the light of the living, in the sight of the Lord we may be pleasing.



PSALM 57

1. We have heard in the Gospel just now, brethren, how loveth us our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, God with the Father, Man with us, out of our own selves, now at s the right hand of the Father; ye have heard how much He loveth us. ...

2. Because then this Psalm is singing of the Passion of the Lord, see what is the title that it hath: "at the end." The end is Christ? Why hath He been called end? Not as one that consumeth, but one that consummateth. ...

3. "At the end, corrupt not, for David himself, for the inscription of the title; when he fled from the face of Saul into a cavern." We referring to holy Scripture, do find indeed how holy David, that king of Israel, from whom too the Psalter of David hath received the name thereof, had suffered for persecutor Saul the king of his own people, as many of you know that have either read or have heard the Scriptures. King David had then for persecutor Saul: and whereas the one was most gentle, the other most ferocious: the one mild, the other envious; the one patient, the other cruel; the one beneficent, the other ungrateful: he endured him with so much mildness, that when he had gotten him into his hands him he touched not hurt not.[7] ... What reference hath this to Christ ? If all things which then were being done, were figures of things future, we find there Christ, and by far in the greatest degree. For this, "corrupt not for the inscription of the title," I see not how it belongeth to that David. For not any "title" was inscribed over David himself which Saul would "corrupt." But we see in the Passion of the Lord that there had been written a title, "King of the Jews:"[8] in order that this title might put to the blush these very men, seeing that from their King they withheld not their hands. For in them Saul was, in Christ David was. For Christ, as saith the Apostolic Gospel, is, as we know, as we confess, of the seed of David after the flesh;[9] for after the Godhead He is above David, above all men, above heaven and earth, above angels, above all things visible and invisible. ... And because already it had been sung through the Holy Spirit, "Unto the end, corrupt not, for the inscription of the title:" Pilate answered them, "What I have written, I have written:"[10] why do ye suggest to me falsehood? I corrupt not truth.

4. What therefore is, "When he fled from the face of Saul into a cavern"? Which thing indeed the former David also did: but because in him we find not the inscription of the title, in the latter let us find the flight into the cavern.[11] For that cavern wherein David hid himself did figure somewhat. But wherefore hid he himself? It was in order that he might be concealed and not be found. What is to be hidden in a cavern? To be hidden in earth. For he that fleeth into a cavern, with earth is covered so that he may not be seen. But Jesus did carry earth, flesh which He had received from earth: and in it He concealed Himself, in order that by Jews He might not be discovered as God. "For if they had known, never the Lord of glory would they have crucified."[12] Why therefore the Lord of glory found they not? Because in a cavern He had hidden Himself, that is, the flesh's weakness to their eyes He presented, but the Majesty of the Godhead in the body's clothing, as though in a hiding-place of the earth, He hid. ... But wherefore even unto death willed He to be patient? It was in order that He might flee from the face of Saul into a cavern. For a cavern may be understood as a lower part of the earth. And certainly, as is manifest and certain to all, His Body in a Tomb was laid, which was cut in a Rock. This Tomb therefore was the Cavern; thither He fled from the face of Saul. For so long the Jews did persecute Him, even until He was laid in a cavern. Whence prove we that so long they persecuted Him, until therein He was laid? Even when dead, and, on the Cross hanging, with lance they wounded Him.[1] But when shrouded, the funeral celebrated, He was laid in a cavern, no longer had they anything which to the Flesh they might do. Rose therefore the Lord again out of that cavern unhurt, uncorrupt, from that place whither He had fled from the face of Saul: concealing Himself from ungodly men, whom Saul prefigured, but showing Himself to His members. For the members of Him rising again by His members were handled: for the members of Him, the Apostles, touched Him rising again and believed;[2] and behold nothing profited the persecution of Saul. Hear we therefore now the Psalm; because concerning the title thereof enough we have spoken, as far as the Lord hath deigned to give.

5. "Have pity on me, O God, have pity on me, for in Thee hath trusted my Soul" (ver. 1). Christ in the Passion saith, "Have pity on Me, O God." To God, God saith, "Have pity on Me!" He that with the Father hath pity on thee, in thee crieth, "Have pity on Me." For that part of Him which is crying, "Have pity on Me," is thine: from thee this He received, for the sake of thee, that thou shouldest be delivered, with Flesh He was clothed. The flesh itself crieth: "Have pity on Me, O God, have pity on me:" Man himself, soul and flesh. For whole Man did the Word take upon Him, and whole Man the Word became. Let it not therefore be thought that there Soul was not, because the Evangelist thus saith: "The Word was made flesh, and dwelled in us."[3] For man is called flesh, as in another place saith the Scripture, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God."[4] Shall anywise flesh alone see, and shall Soul not be there? ... Thou hearest the Master praying, learn thou to pray. For to this end He prayed, in order that He might teach how to pray: because to this end He suffered, in order that He might teach how to suffer; to this end He rose again, in order that He might teach how to hope for rising again. "And in the shadow of Thy wings I will hope, until iniquity pass over." This now evidently whole Christ doth say: here is also our voice. For not yet hath passed over, still rife is iniquity. And in the end our Lord Himself said there should be an abounding of iniquity: "And since iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold; but he that shall have persevered unto the end, the same shall be saved."[5] But who shall persevere even unto the end, even until iniquity pass over? He that shall have been in the Body of Christ, he that shall have been in the members of Christ, and from the Head shall have learned the patience of persevering. Thou passest away, and behold passed are thy temptations; and thou goest into another life whither have gone holy men, if holy thou hast been. Into another life have gone Martyrs i if Martyr thou shalt have been, thou also goest into another life. Because "thou" hast passed away hence, hath by any means iniquity therefore passed away? There are born other unrighteous men, as there die some unrighteous men. In like manner therefore as some unrighteous men die and others are born: so some just men go, and others are born. Even unto the end of the world neither iniquity will be wanting to oppress, nor righteousness to suffer. ...

6. "I will cry to God most high" (ver. 2). If most high He is, how heareth He thee crying? Confidence hath been engendered by experience: "to God," he saith, "who had done good to me." If before that I was seeking Him, He did good to me, when I cry shall He not hearken to me? For good to us the Lord God hath done in sending to us our Saviour Jesus Christ, that He might die for our offences, and rise again for our justification.[6] For what sort of men hath He willed His Son to die? For ungodly men. But ungodly men were not seeking God, and have been sought of God. For He is Most High in such sort, as that not far from Him is our misery and our groaning: because "near is the Lord to them that have bruised the heart."[7] "God that hath done good to me."

7. "He hath sent from heaven and hath saved me" (ver. 3). Now the Man Himself, now the Flesh Itself, now the Son of God after His partaking of ourselves, of Him it is manifest, how He was saved, and hath sent from heaven the Father and hath saved Him, hath sent from heaven, and hath raised Him again: but in order that ye may know, that also the Lord Himself hath raised again Himself both truths are written in Scripture, both that the Father hath raised Him again, and that Himself Himself hath raised again. Hear ye how the Father hath raised Him again: the Apostle saith, "He hath been made," he saith, "obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross: wherefore God also hath exalted Him, and hath given Him a name which is above every name."[8] Ye have heard of the Father raising again and exalting the Son; hear ye how that He too Himself His flesh hath raised again. Under the figure of a temple He saith to the Jews, "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up."[9] But the Evangelist hath explained to us what it was that He said: "But this," he saith, "He spake of the Temple of His Body." Now therefore out of the person of one praying, out of the person of a man, out of the person of the flesh, He saith, "He hath saved me. He hath given unto reproach those that trampled on me." Them that have trampled on Him, that over Him dead have insulted, that Him as though man have crucified, because God they perceived not, them He hath given unto reproach. See ye whether it has not been so done. The thing we do not believe as yet to come, but fulfilled we acknowledge it. The Jews raged against Christ, they were overbearing against Christ. Where? In the city of Jerusalem. For where they reigned, there they were puffed up, there their necks they lifted up. After the Passion of the Lord thence they were rooted out; and they lost the kingdom, wherein Christ for King they would not acknowledge. In what manner they have been given unto reproach, see ye: dispersed they have been throughout all nations, nowhere having a settlement, nowhere a sure abode. But for this reason still Jews they are, in order that our books they may carry to their confusion. For whenever we wish to show Christ prophesied of, we produce to the heathen these writings. And lest perchance men hard of belief should say that we Christians have composed these books, so that together with the Gospel which we have preached we have forged the Prophet, through whom there might seem to be foretold that which we preach: by this we convince them; namely, that all the very writings wherein Christ hath been prophesied are with the Jews, all these very writings the Jews have. We produce documents from enemies, to confound other enemies. In what sort of reproach therefore are the Jews? A document the Jew carrieth, wherefrom a Christian may believe. Our librarians they have become, just as slaves are wont behind their masters to carry documents, in such sort that these faint in carrying, those profit by reading.[1] Unto such a reproach have been given the Jews: and there hath been fulfilled that which so long before hath been foretold, "He hath given unto reproach those that trampled on me." But how great a reproach it is, brethren, that this verse they should read, and themselves being blind should look upon their mirror! For in the same manner the Jews appear in the holy Scripture which they carry, as appeareth the face of a blind man in a mirror: by other men it is seen, by himself not seen.

8. Thou wast inquiring perhaps when he said, "He hath sent from heaven and hath saved me." What hath He sent from heaven? Whom hath He sent from heaven? An Angel hath He sent, to save Christ, and through a servant is the Lord saved? For all Angels are creatures[2] serving Christ. For obedience there might have been sent Angels, for service they might have been sent, not for succour: as is written, "Angels ministered unto Him,"[3] not like men merciful to one indigent, but like subjects to One Omnipotent. What therefore "hath He sent from heaven, and hath saved me"? Now we hear in another verse what from heaven He hath sent. "He hath sent from heaven His mercy and His truth."[4] For what purpose? "And hath drawn out my soul from the midst of the lions' whelps."[5] "Hath sent," he saith, "from heaven His mercy and His truth:" and Christ Himself saith, "I am Truth." There was sent therefore Truth, that it should draw out my soul hence from the midst of the lions' whelps: there was sent mercy. Christ Himself we find to be both mercy and truth; mercy in suffering with us, and truth in requiting us. ... Who are the lions' whelps? That lesser[6] people, unto evil deceived, unto evil led away by the chiefs of the Jews: so that these are lions, those lions' whelps. All roared, all slew. For we are to hear even here the slaying of these very men, presently in the following verses of this Psalm.

9. "And hath drawn out," he saith, "my soul from the midst of the lions' whelps" (ver. 4). Why sayest thou, "And hath drawn out my soul"? For what hadst thou suffered, that thy soul should be drawn out? "I have slept troubled." Christ hath intimated His death. ...

10. Whence "troubled"? Who troubling? Let us see in what manner he brandeth an evil conscience upon the Jews, wishing to excuse themselves of the slaying of the Lord. For to this end, as the Gospel speaketh, to the judge they delivered Him, that they might not themselves seem to have killed Him. ... Let us question Him, and say, since Thou hast slept troubled, who have persecuted Thee? who have slain Thee? was it perchance Pilate, who to soldiers gave Thee, on the Tree to be hanged, with nails to be pierced? Hear who they were, "Sons of men" (ver. 5). Of them He speaketh, whom for persecutors He suffered. But how did they slay, that steel bare not? They that sword drew not, that made no assault upon Him to slay; whence slew they? "Their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." Do not consider the unarmed hands, but the mouth armed: from thence the sword proceeded, wherewith Christ was to be slain: in like manner also as from the mouth of Christ, that wherewith the Jews were to be slain. For He hath a sword twice whetted:[7] and rising again He hath smitten them, and hath severed from them those whom He would make His faithful people. They an evil sword, He a good sword: they evil arrows, He good arrows. For He hath Himself also arrows good, words good, whence He pierceth the faithful heart, in order that He may be loved. Therefore of one kind are their arrows, and of another kind their sword. "Sons of men, their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sabre." Tongue of sons of men is a sharp sabre, and their teeth arms and arrows. When therefore did they smite, save when they clamoured, "Crucify, crucify"?[1]

11. And what have they done to Thee, O Lord? Let the Prophet here exult! For above, all those verses the Lord was speaking: a Prophet indeed, but in the person of the Lord, because in the Prophet is the Lord. ... "Be exalted," he saith, "above the Heavens, O God" Man on the Cross, and above the Heavens, God. Let them continue on the earth raging, Thou in Heaven be judging. Where are they that were raging? where are their teeth, the arms and arrows? Have not "the stripes of them been made the arrows of infants"? For in another place a Psalm[2] this saith, desiring to prove them vainly to have raged, and vainly unto frenzies to have been driven headlong: for nothing they were able to do to Christ when for the time crucified, and afterwards when He was rising again, and in Heaven was sitting. How do infants make to themselves arrows? Of reeds?[3] But what arrows? or what powers? or what bows? or what wound? "Be Thou exalted above the Heavens, O God, and above all the earth Thy glory" (ver. 6). Wherefore exalted above the Heavens, O God? Brethren, God exalted above the Heavens we see not, but we believe: but above all the earth His glory to be not only we believe, but also see. But what kind of madness heretics are afflicted with, I pray you observe. They being cut off from the bond of the Church of Christ, and to a part holding, the whole losing, will not communicate with the whole earth, where is spread abroad the glory of Christ.[4] But we Catholics are in all the earth, because with all the world we communicate, wherever the Glory of Christ is spread abroad.[5] For we see that which then was sung, now fulfilled. There hath been exalted above the Heavens our God, and above all the earth the Glory of the Same. O heretical insanity! That which thou seest not thou believest with me, that which thou seest thou deniest: thou believest with me in Christ exalted above the Heavens, a thing which we see not; and deniest His Glory over all the earth, a thing which we see.

12. ... Let your Love see the Lord speaking to us, and exhorting us by His example: "A trap[6] they have prepared for My feet, and have bowed down My Soul" (ver. 7). They wished to bring It down as if from Heaven, and to the lower places to weigh It down: "They have bowed My Soul: they have digged before My face a pit and themselves have fallen into it." Me have they hurt, or themselves? Behold He hath been exalted above the Heavens, God, and behold above all the earth the Glory of the Same: the kingdom of Christ we see, where is the kingdom of the Jews? Since therefore they did that which to have done they ought not, there hath been done in their case that which to have suffered they ought: themselves have dug a ditch, and themselves have fallen into it. For their persecuting Christ, to Christ did no hurt, but to themselves did hurt. And do not suppose, brethren, that themselves alone hath this befallen. Every one that prepareth a pit for his brother, it must needs be that himself fall into it. ...

13. But the patience of good men with preparation of heart accepteth the will of God: and glorieth in tribulations, saying that which followeth: "Prepared is my heart, O God, I will sing and play" (ver. 8). What hath he done to me? He hath prepared a pit, my heart is prepared. He hath prepared pit to deceive, shall I not prepare heart to suffer? He hath prepared pit to oppress, shall I not prepare heart to endure? Therefore he shall fall into it, but I will sing and play. Hear the heart prepared in an Apostle, because he hath imitated his Lord: "We glory," he saith, "in tribulations: because tribulation worketh patience: patience probation, probation hope, but hope maketh not ashamed: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, which hath been given to us."[7] He was in oppressions, in chains, in prisons, in stripes, in hunger and thirst, in cold and nakedness,[8] in every wasting of toils and pains, and he was saying, "We glory in tribulations." Whence, but that prepared was his heart? Therefore he was singing and playing.

14. "Rise up, my glory" (ver. 9). He that had fled from the face of Saul into a cavern, saith, "Rise up, my glory:" glorified be Jesus after His Passion. "Rise up, psaltery and harp." He calleth upon what to rise? Two organs I see: but Body of Christ one I see, one flesh hath risen again, and two organs have risen. The one organ then is the psaltery, the other the harp. Organs[9] is the word used for all instruments of musicians. Not only is that called an organ, which is great, and blown into with bellows;[1] but whatsoever is adapted to playing and is corporeal, whereof for an instrument the player maketh use, is said to be an organ. But distinguished froth one another are these organs.[2] ... What therefore do these two organs figure to us? For Christ the Lord our God is waking up His psaltery and His harp; and He saith, "I will rise up at the dawn." I suppose that here ye now perceive the Lord rising. We have read thereof in the Gospel:[3] see the hour of the Resurrection. How long through shadows was Christ being sought? He hath shone, be He acknowledged; "at the dawn" He rose again. But what is psaltery? what is harp? Through His flesh two kinds of deeds the Lord hath wrought, miracles and sufferings: miracles from above have been, sufferings from below have been. But those miracles which He did were divine; but through Body He did them, through flesh He did them. The flesh therefore working things divine, is the psaltery: the flesh suffering things human is the harp. Let the psaltery sound, let the blind be enlightened, let the deaf hear, let the paralytics be braced to strength, the lame walk, the sick rise up, the dead rise again; this is the sound of the Psaltery. Let there sound also the harp, let Him hunger, thirst, sleep, be held, scourged, derided, crucified, buried. When therefore thou seest in that Flesh certain things to have sounded from above, certain things from the lower part, one flesh hath risen again, and in one flesh we acknowledge both psaltery and harp. And these two kinds of things done have fulfilled the Gospel, and it is preached in the nations: for both the miracles and the sufferings of the Lord are preached.

15. Therefore there hath risen psaltery and harp in the dawn, and he confesseth to the Lord; and saith what? "I will confess to Thee among the peoples, O Lord, and will play to Thee among the nations: for magnified even unto the Heavens hath been Thy mercy, and even unto the clouds Thy truth" (ver. 10). Heavens above clouds, and clouds below heavens: and nevertheless to this nearest heaven belong clouds. But sometimes clouds rest upon the mountains, even so far in the nearest air are they rolled. But a Heaven above there is, the habitations of Angels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Powers. This therefore may perchance seem to be what should have been said: "Unto the Heavens Thy truth, and even unto the clouds Thy mercy." For in Heaven Angels praise God, seeing the very form of truth, without any darkness of vision, without any admixture of unreality: they see, love, praise, are not wearied. There is truth: but here in our own misery surely there is mercy. For to a miserable one must be rendered mercy. For there is no need of mercy above, where is no miserable one. I have said this because that it seemeth as though it might have been more fittingly said, "Magnified even unto the Heavens hath been Thy truth, and even unto the clouds Thy mercy." For" clouds" we understand to be preachers of truth, men bearing that flesh in a manner dark, whence God both gleameth in miracles, and thundereth in precepts.[4] ... Glory to our Lord, and to the Mercy of the Same, and to the Truth of the Same, because neither hath He forsaken by mercy to make us blessed through His Grace, nor defrauded us of truth: because first Truth veiled in flesh came to us and healed through His flesh the interior eye of our heart, in order that hereafter face to face we may be able to see It.[5] Giving therefore to Him thanks, let us say with the same Psalm the last verses, which sometime since too I have said, "Be Thou exalted above the Heavens, O God, and above all the earth Thy glory" (ver. 11). For this to Him the Prophet said so many years before; this now we see; this therefore let us also say.

 

 

 

 
 
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