Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 58 - 61
1. The words which we have sung must be rather hearkened to by us, than proclaimed. For to all men as it were in an assemblage of mankind, the Truth crieth, "If truly indeed justice ye speak, judge right things, ye sons of men" (ver. 1). For to what unjust man is it not an easy thing to speak justice? or what man if questioned about justice, when he hath not a cause, would not easily answer what is just? Inasmuch as the hand of our Maker in our very hearts hath written this truth, "That which to thyself thou wouldest not have done, do not thou to another." Of this truth, even before that the Law was given, no one was suffered to be ignorant, in order that there might be some rule whereby might be judged even those to whom Law had not been given. But lest men should complain that something had been wanting for them, there hath been written also in tables that which in their hearts they read not. For it was not that they had it not written, but read it they would not. There hath been set before their eyes that which in their conscience to see they would be compelled; and as if from without the voice of God were brought to them, to his own inward parts hath man been thus driven, the Scripture saying," For in the thoughts of the ungodly man there will be questioning." Where questioning is, there is law. But because men, desiring those things which are without, even from themselves have become exiles, there hath been given also a written law: not because in hearts it had not been written, but because thou wast a deserter from thy heart, thou art seized by Him that is everywhere, and to thyself within art called back. Therefore the written law, what crieth it, to those that have deserted the law written in their hearts? "Return ye transgressors to the heart." For who hath taught thee, that thou wouldest have no other man draw near thy wife? Who hath taught thee, that thou wouldest not have a theft committed upon thee? Who hath taught thee, that thou wouldest not suffer wrong, and whatever other thing either universally or particularly might be spoken of? For many things there are, of which severally if questioned men with loud voice would answer, that they would not suffer. Come, if thou art not willing to suffer these things, art thou by any means the only man? dost thou not live in the fellowship of mankind? He that together with thee hath been made, is thy fellow; and all men have been made after the image of God, unless with earthly coverings they efface that which He hath formed. That which therefore to thyself thou wilt not have to be done, do not thou to another. For thou judgest that there is evil in that, which to suffer thou art not willing: and this thing thou art constrained to know by an inward law; that in thy very heart is written. Thou wast doing somewhat, and there was a cry raised in thy hands: how art thou constrained to return to thy heart when this thing thou sufferest in the hands of others? Is theft a good thing? No! I ask, is adultery a good thing? All cry, No! Is man-slaying a good thing? All cry, that they abhor it. Is coveting the property of a neighbour a good thing? No! is the voice of all men. Or if yet thou confessest not, there draweth near one that coveteth thy property: be pleased to answer what thou wilt have. All men therefore, when of these things questioned, cry that these things are not good. Again, of doing kindnesses, not only of not hurting, but also of conferring and distributing, any hungry soul is questioned thus: "thou sufferest hunger, another man hath bread, and there is abundance with him beyond sufficiency, he knoweth thee to want, he giveth not: it displeaseth thee when hungering, let it displease thee when full also, when of another's hungering thou shalt have known. A stranger wanting shelter cometh into thy country, he is not taken in: he then crieth that inhuman is that city, at once among barbarians he might have found a home. He feeleth the injustice because he suffereth; thou perchance feelest not, but it is meet that thou imagine thyself also a stranger; and that thou see in what manner he will have displeased thee, who shall not have given that, which thou in thy country wilt not give to a stranger." I ask all men. True are these things? True. Just are these things? Just. But hear ye the Psalm. "If truly therefore justice ye speak, judge right things, ye sons of men." Be it not a justice of lips, but also of deeds. For if thou actest otherwise than thou speakest, good things thou speakest, and ill thou judgest. ...
2. But now to the present case let us come, if ye please. For the voice is that sweet voice, so well known to the ears of the Church, the voice of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the voice of His Body, the voice of the Church toiling, sojourning upon earth, living amid the perils of men speaking evil and of men flattering. Thou wilt not fear a threatener, if thou lovest not a flatterer. He therefore, of whom this is the voice, hath observed and hath seen, that all men speak justice. For what man doth dare not to speak it, lest he be called unjust? When, therefore, as though he were hearing the voices of all men, and were observing the lips of all men, he cried out to them, "If truly indeed justice ye speak,"--if not falsely justice ye Speak, if not one thing on lips doth sound, whilst another thing is concealed in hearts,--"judge right things, ye sons of men," Hear out of the Gospel His own voice, the very same as iS in this Psalm: "Hypocrites," saith the Lord to the Pharisees, "how are ye able good things to speak, when ye are evil men?. ... Either make the tree good, and the fruit thereof good: or make the tree evil, and the fruit thereof evil." Why wilt thou whiten thee, wall of mud? I know thy inward parts, I am not deceived by thy covering: I know what thou holdest forth, I know what thou coverest. "For there was no need for Him, that any one to Him should bear testimony of man: for He knew Himself what was in man." For He knew what was in man, who had made man, and who had been made Man, in order that He might seek man. ...
3. But now ye do what? Why these things to you do I speak? "Because in heart iniquities ye work on earth" (ver. 2). Iniquities perchance in heart alone? Hear what followeth: both their heart hands do follow, and their heart hands do serve, the thing is thought of, and it is done; or else it is not done, not because we would not, but because we could not, WHATEVER THOU WILLEST AND CANST NOT, FOR DONE GOD DOTH COUNT IT. "For in heart Iniquities ye work on earth." What next? "Iniquities your hands knit together." What is, "knit together"? From sin, sin, and to sin, sin, because of sin. What is this? A theft a man hath committed, a sin it is: he hath been seen, he seeketh to slay him by whom he hath been seen: there hath been knit together sin with sin: God hath permitted him in His hidden judgment to slay that man whom he hath willed to slay: he perceiveth that the thing is known, he seeketh to slay a second also; he hath knit together a third sin: while these things he is planning, perchance that he may not be found out, or that he may not be convicted of having done it, he consulteth an astrologer; there is added a fourth sin: the astrologer answereth perchance with some hard and evil responses, he runneth to a soothsayer, that expiation may be made; the soothsayer maketh answer that he is not able to expiate: a magician is sought. And who could enumerate those sins which are knit together with sins? "Iniquities your hands do knit together." So long as thou knittest together, thou bindest sin upon sin. Loose thyself from sins. But I am not able, thou sayest. Cry to Him. "Unhappy man I, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" For there shall come the Grace of God, so that righteousness shall be thy delight, as much as thou didst delight in iniquity; and thou, a man that out of bonds hast been loosed, shall cry out to God, "Thou hast broken asunder my bonds." "Thou hast broken asunder my bonds," is what else but, "Thou hast remitted my sins"? Hear why chains they are: the Scripture maketh answer, "with the chains of his sins each one is bound fast." Not only bonds, but chains  also they are. Chains are those which are made by twisting in: that is, because with sins sins thou wast knitting together. ...
4. "Alienated are sinners from the womb, they have gone astray from the belly, they have spoken false things" (ver. 3). And when iniquity they speak, false things they speak; because deceitful is iniquity: and when justice they speak, false things they speak; because one thing with mouth they profess, another thing in heart they conceal. "Alienated are sinners from the womb." What is this? Let us search more diligently: for perhaps he is saying this, because God hath foreknown men that are to be sinners even in the wombs of their mothers. For whence when Rebecca was yet pregnant, and in womb was bearing twins, was it said, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated"? For it was said, "The elder shall serve the younger." Hidden at that time was the judgment of God: but yet from the womb, that is, from the very origin, alienated are sinners. Whence alienated? From truth. Whence alienated? From the blessed country, from the blessed life. Perchance alienated they are from the very womb. And what sinners have been alienated from the womb? For what men would have been born, if therein they had not been held? Or what men to-day would be alive to hear these words to no purpose, unless they were born? Perchance therefore sinners have been alienated from a certain womb, wherein that charity was suffering pains, which speaketh through the Apostle, "Of whom again I am in labour, until Christ be formed in you." Expect thou therefore; be formed: do not to thyself ascribe a judgment which perchance thou knowest not. Carnal thou art as yet, conceived thou hast been: from that very time when thou hast received the name of Christ, by a sort of sacrament thou hast been born in the bowels of a mother. For not only out of bowels a man is born, but also in bowels. First he is born in bowels, in order that he may be able to be born of bowels. Wherefore it hath been said even to Mary, "For that which is born in thee, is of the Holy Spirit." Not yet of Her It had been born, but already in Her It had been born. Therefore there are born within the bowels of the Church certain little ones, and a good thing it is that being formed they should go forth, so that they drop not by miscarriage. Let the mother bear thee, not miscarry. If patient thou shall have been, even until thou be formed, even until in thee there be the sure doctrine of truth, the maternal bowels ought to keep thee. But if by thy impatience thou shall have shaken the sides of thy mother, with pain indeed she expelleth thee out, but more to thy loss than to hers.
5. For this reason therefore have they gone astray from the belly, because "they have spoken false things"? Or rather have they not for this reason spoken false things, because they have gone astray from the belly? For in the belly of the Church truth abideth. Whosoever from this belly of the Church separated shall have been, must needs speak false things: must needs, I say, speak false things; whoso either conceived would not be, or whom when conceived the mother hath expelled. Thence heretics exclaim against the Gospel (to speak in preference of those whom expelled we lament). We repeat to them: behold Christ hath said, "It behoved Christ to suffer, and from the dead to rise again the third day." I acknowledge there our Head, I acknowledge there our bridegroom: acknowledge thou also with me the Bride. ...
6. "Indignation to them after the similitude of a serpent" (ver. 4). A great thing ye are to hear. "Indignation to them after the similitude of a serpent." As if we had said, What is that which thou hast said? there followeth, "As if of a deaf asp." Whence deaf? "And closing its ears." Therefore deaf, because it closeth its ears. "And closing its ears." "Which will not hearken to the voice of men charming, and of the medicine medicated by the wise man" (ver. 5). As we have heard, because even men speak who have learned it with such research as they were able, but nevertheless it is a thing which the Spirit of God knoweth much better than any men. For it is not to no purpose that of this he hath spoken, but because it may chance that true is even that which we have heard of the asp. When the asp beginneth to be affected by the Marsian charmer, who calleth it forth with certain peculiar incantations, hear what it doeth. ... Give heed what is spoken to thee for a simile's sake, what is noted thee for avoidance. So therefore here also there hath been given a certain simile derived from the Marsian, who maketh incantation to bring forth the asp from the dark cavern; surely into light he would bring it: but it loving its darkness, wherein coiled up it hideth itself, when it will not choose to come forth, nevertheless refusing to hear those words whereby it feeleth itself to be constrained, is said to press one ear against the ground, and with its tail to stop up the other, and therefore as much as possible escaping those words, it cometh not forth to the charmer. To this as being like, the Spirit of God hath spoken of certain persons hearing not the Word of God, and not only not doing, but altogether, that they may not do it, refusing to hear.
7. This thing hath been done even in the first times of the faith. Stephen the Martyr was preaching the Truth, and to minds as though dark, in order to bring them forth into light, was making incantation: when he came to make mention of Christ, whom they would not hear at all, of them the Scripture saith what? of them relateth what? "They shut," he saith, "their ears." But what they did afterwards, the narrative of the passion of Stephen doth publish. They were not deaf, but they made themselves deaf. ... For this thing they did at the point where Christ was named. The indignation of these men was as the indignation of a serpent. Why your ears do ye shut? Wait, hear, and if ye shall be able, rage. Because they chose not to do aught but rage, they would not hear. But if they had heard, perchance they would have ceased to rage. The indignation of them was as the indignation of a serpent. ...
8. "God hath broken utterly the teeth of them in their own mouth" (ver. 6). Of whom? Of them to whom indignation is as the similitude of a serpent, and of an asp closing up its ears, so that it heareth not the voice of men charming, and of medicine medicated by the wise man. The Lord hath done to them what? "Hath broken utterly the teeth of them in their own mouth." It hath been done, this at first hath been done, and now is being done. But it would have sufficed, my brethren, that it should have been said, "God hath broken utterly the teeth of them." The Pharisees would not hear the Law, would not hear the precepts of truth from Christ, being like to that serpent and asp. For in their past sins they took delight, and present life they would not lose, that is, joys earthly for joys heavenly. ... What is, "in their own mouth"? In such sort, that with their own mouth against themselves they should make declaration: He hath compelled them with their mouth against themselves to give sentence. They would have slandered Him, because of the tribute: He said not," It is lawful to pay tribute," or, "It is not lawful to pay tribute." And He willed to break utterly their teeth, wherewith they were gaping in order to bite; but in their own mouth He would do it. If He said, Let there be paid to Caesar tribute, they would have slandered Him, because He had spoken evil to the nation of the Jews, by making it a tributary. For because of sin they were paying tribute, having been humbled, as to them in the Law had been foretold. We have Him, say they, a maligner of our nation, if He shall have bidden us to pay tribute: but if He say, Do not pay, we have Him for saying that we should not be under allegiance to Caesar. Such a double noose as it were to catch the Lord they laid. But to whom had they come? To Him that knew how to break utterly the teeth of them in their own mouth. "Show to Me the coin," He saith. Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?" Of paying tribute do ye think? To do justice are ye willing? the counsel of justice do ye seek? "If truly justice ye speak, judge right things, ye sons of men." But now because in one way ye speak, in another way judge, hypocrites ye are: "Why tempt ye Me, ye hypocrites?" Now I will break utterly your teeth in your mouth: "show to Me the coin." And they showed it to Him. And He saith not, it is Caesar's: but asketh Whose it is? in order that their teeth in their own mouth might be utterly broken. For on His inquiring, of whom it had the image and inscription, they said, of Caesar. Even now the Lord shall break utterly the teeth of them in their own mouth. Now ye have made answer, now have been broken utterly your teeth in your mouth. "Render unto Caesar the things which are of Caesar, and unto God the things which are of God." Caesar seeketh his image; render it: God seeketh His image; render it. Let not Caesar lose from you his coin: let not God lose in you His coin. And they found not what they might answer. For they had been sent to slander Him: and they went back, saying, that no one to Him could make answer. Wherefore? Because broken utterly had been the teeth of them in their own mouth. Of that sort is also the following: "In what power doest Thou these things? I also will ask of you one question, answer me." And He asked them of John, whence was the Baptism of John, from heaven, or of men? so that whatever they might answer might tell against themselves. ...
9. The Lord displeased that Pharisee, who to dinner had bidden Him, because a woman that was a sinner drew near to His feet, and he murmured against Him, saying, "If this man were a prophet, He would know what woman drew near to His feet." O thou that art no prophet, whence knowest thou that He knew not what woman drew near to His feet? Because indeed He kept not the purifying of the Jews, which outwardly was as it were kept in the flesh, and was afar from the heart, this thing he suspected of the Lord. And in order that I may not speak at length on this point, even in his mouth He willed to break utterly the teeth of him. For He set forth to him: "A certain usurer had two debtors, one was owing five hundred pence, the other fifty: both had not wherewithal to pay, he forgave both. Which loved him the more?" To this end the one asketh, that the other may answer: to this end he answereth that the teeth of him in his mouth may be broken utterly. ...
10. "The jaw-bones of lions the Lord hath broken utterly." Not only of asps. What of asps? Asps treacherously desire to throw in their venom, and scatter it, and hiss. Most openly raged the nations, and roared like lions. "Wherefore have raged the nations, and the peoples meditated empty things?" When they were lying in wait for the Lord. Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or is it not lawful? Asps they were, serpents they were, broken utterly were the teeth of them in their own mouth. Afterwards they cried out, "Crucify, Crucify." Now is there no tongue of asp, but roar of lion. But also "the jaw-bones of lions the Lord hath broken utterly." Perchance here there is no need of that which he hath not added, namely, "in the mouth of them." For men lying in wait with captious questions, were forced to be conquered with their own answer: but those men that openly were raging, were they by any means to be confuted with questions? Nevertheless, even their jaw-bones were broken utterly: having been crucified, He rose again, ascended into heaven, was glorified as the Christ, is adored by all nations, adored by all kings. Let the Jews now rage, if they are able. We have also in the case of heretics this as a warning and precedent, because themselves also we find to be serpents with indignation made deaf, not choosing to hear the "medicine medicated by the wise man:" and in their own mouth the Lord hath broken utterly the teeth of them. ...
11. "They shall be despised like water running down" (ver. 7). Be not terrified, brethren, by certain streams, which are called torrents: with winter waters they are filled up; do not fear: after a little it passeth by, that water runneth down; for a time it roareth, soon it will subside: they cannot hold long. Many heresies now are utterly dead: they have run in their channels as much as they were able, have run down, dried are the channels, scarce of them the memory is found, or that they have been. "They shall be despised like water running down." But not they alone; the whole of this age for a time is roaring, and is seeking whom it may drag along. Let all ungodly men, all proud men resounding against the rocks of their pride as it were with waters rushing along and flowing together, not terrify you, winter waters they are, they cannot alway flow: it must needs be that they run down unto their place, unto their end. And nevertheless of this torrent of the world the Lord hath drunk. For He hath suffered here, the very torrent He hath drunk, but in the way He hath drunk, but in the passage over: because in way of sinners He hath not stood. But of Him saith the Scripture what? "Of the torrent in the way He shall drink, therefore He shall lift up His Head;" that is, for this reason glorified He hath been, because He hath died; for this reason hath risen again, because He hath suffered. ...
12. "Like wax melted they shall be taken away" (ver. 8). For thou wast about to say, all men are not so made weak, like myself, in order that they may believe: many men do persevere in their evil, and in their malice. And of the same fear thou nothing: "Like wax melted they shall be taken away." Against thee they shall not stand, they shall not continue: with a sort of fire of their own lusts they shall perish. For there is here a kind of hidden punishment, of it the Psalm is about to speak now, to the end of it. There are but a few verses; be attentive. There is a certain punishment future, fire of hell, fire everlasting. For future punishment hath two kinds: either of the lower places it is, where was burning that rich man, who was wishing for himself a drop of water to be dropped on his tongue off the finger of the poor man, whom before his gate he had spurned, when he saith, "For I am tormented in this flame." And the second is that at the end, whereof they are to hear, that on the left hand are to be set: "Go ye into fire everlasting, that hath been prepared for the devil and his angels." Those punishments shall be manifest at that time, when we shall have departed out of this life, or when at the end of the world men shall have come to the resurrection of the dead. Now therefore is there no punishment, and doth God suffer sins utterly unpunished even unto that day? There is even here a sort of hidden punishment, of the same he is treating no. ... We see nevertheless sometimes with these punishments just men to be afflicted, and to these punishments unjust men to be strangers: for which reason did totter the feet of him that afterwards rejoicing saith, "How good is the God of Israel to men right in heart! But my own feet have been almost shaken, because I have been jealous in the case of sinners, beholding the peace of sinners." For he had seen the felicity of evil men, and well-pleased he had been to be an evil man, seeing evil men to reign, seeing that it was well with them, that they abounded in plenty of all things temporal, such as he too, being as yet but a babe, was desiring from the Lord: and his feet did totter, even until he saw what at the end is either to be hoped for or to be feared. For he saith in the same Psalm, "This thing is a labour before me, until I enter into the sanctuary of God, and understand unto the last things." It is not therefore the punishments of the lower places, not the punishments of that fire everlasting after the resurrection, not those punishments which as yet in this world are common to just men and unjust men, and ofttimes more heavy are those of just men than those of unjust men; but some punishment or other of the present life the Spirit of God would recommend to our notice. Give heed, hear ye me about to speak of that which ye know: but a more sweet thing it is when it is declared in a Psalm, which, before it was declared, was deemed obscure. For behold I bring forth that which already ye knew: but because these things are brought forth from a place where ye have never yet seen them, it cometh to pass that even known things, as if they were new things, do delight you. Hear ye the punishment of ungodly men: "Like wax," he saith, "melted they shall be taken away." I have said that through their lusts this thing to them is done. Evil lust is like a burning and a fire. Doth fire consume a garment, and doth not the lust of adultery consume the soul? Of meditated adultery when the Scripture was speaking it saith, "Shall one bind fire in his bosom, and his garments shall he not burn up?" Thou bearest in thy bosom live coals; burned through is thy vest; thou bearest in thought adultery, and whole then is thy soul? But these punishments few men do see: therefore them the Spirit of God doth exceedingly recommend to our notice. Hear the Apostle saying, "God hath given them up unto the lusts of their heart." Behold, the fire from the face of which like wax they are melting. For they loose themselves from a certain continence of chastity; therefore even these same men, going unto their lusts, as loose and melting are spoken of. Whence melting? whence loose? From the fire of lusts. "God hath given them up unto the lusts of their heart, so that they do those things which beseem not, being filled full of all iniquity." ...
13. "There hath fallen upon them fire, and they have not seen the sun." Ye see in what manner he speaketh of a certain punishment of darkening. "Fire hath fallen upon them," fire of pride, a smoky fire, fire of lust, fire of wrath. How great a fire is it? He upon whom it shall have fallen, shall not see the sun. Therefore hath it been said, "Let not the sun go down upon your wrath." Therefore, brethren, fire of evil lust fear ye, if ye will not melt like wax, and to perish from the face of God. For there falleth upon you that fire, and the sun ye shall not see. What sun? Not that which together with thee see both beasts and insects, and good men and evil men: because "He maketh His sun to rise upon good men and evil men." But there is another sun, whereof those men are to speak, "And the sun hath not risen to us, passed away are all those things as it were a shadow. Therefore we have strayed from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shone to us, and the sun hath not risen to us."
14. "Before that the bramble bringeth forth your thorns: as though living, as though in anger, it shall drink them up" (ver. 9). What is the bramble? Of prickly plants it is a kind, upon which there are said to be certain of the closest thorns. At first it is a herb; and while it is a herb, soft and fair it is: but thereon there are nevertheless thorns to come forth. Now therefore sins are pleasant, and as it were they do not prick. A herb is the bramble; even now nevertheless there is a thorn. "Before that the bramble bringeth forth thorns:" is before that of miserable delights and pleasures the evident tortures come forth. Let them question themselves that love any object, and to it cannot attain; let them see if they are not racked with longing: and when they have attained to that which unlawfully they long for, let them mark if they are not racked with fear. Let them see therefore here their punishments; before that there cometh that resurrection, when in flesh rising again they shall not be changed. "For all we shall rise again, but not(1) all we shall be changed."(2) For they shall have the corruption of the flesh wherein to be pained, not that wherein to die: otherwise even those pains would be ended. Then the thorns of that bramble, that is, all pains and piercings of tortures shall be brought forth. Such thorns as they shall suffer that are to say, "These are they whom sometimes we had in derision:"(3) thorns of the piercing of repentance, but of one too late and without fruit like the barrenness of thorns. The repentance of this time is pain healing: repentance of that time is pain penal. Wouldest thou not suffer those thorns? here be thou pierced with the thorns of repentance; in such sort that thou do that which hath been spoken of, "Turned I have been in sorrow, when the thorn was piercing:(4) my sin I have known, and mine iniquity I have not covered: I have said, I will declare against me my shortcoming to the Lord, and Thou hast remitted the ungodliness of my heart."(5) Now do so, now be pierced through, be there not in thee done that which hath been said of certain execrable men, "They have been cloven asunder, and have not been pierced through."(6) Observe them that have been cloven asunder and have not been pierced through.(7) Ye see men cloven asunder, and ye see them not pierced through. Behold beside the Church they are, and it doth not repent them, so as they should return whence they have been cloven asunder. The bramble hereafter shall bring forth their thorns. They will not now have a healing piercing through, they shall have hereafter one penal. But even now before that the bramble produceth thorns, there hath fallen upon them fire, that suffereth them not to see the sun, that is, the wrath of God is drinking up them while still living: fire of evil lusts, of empty honours, of pride, of their covetousness: and whatsoever is weighing them down, that they should not know the truth, so that they seem not to be conquered, so that they be not brought into subjection even by truth herself. For what is a more glorious thing, brethren, than to be brought in subjection and to be overcome by truth? Let truth overcome thee willing: for even unwilling she shall of herself overcome thee. ...
15. As yet the punishments of the lower places have not come, as yet fire everlasting hath not come: let him that is growing in God compare himself now with an ungodly man, a blind heart with an enlightened heart: compare ye two men, one seeing and one not seeing in the flesh. And what so great thing is vision of the flesh? Did Tobias by any means have fleshly eyes?(8) His own son had, and he had not; and the way of life a blind man to one seeing did show. Therefore when ye see that punishment, rejoice, because in it ye are not.
Therefore saith the Scripture, "The just man shall rejoice when he shall have seen vengeance" (ver. 10). Not that future punishment; for see what followeth: "his hands he shall wash in the blood of the sinner." What is this? Let your love attend. When man-slayers are smitten, ought anywise innocent men to go thither and wash their hands? But what is, "in the blood of the sinner he shall wash his hands"? When a just man seeth the punishment of a sinner, he groweth himself; and the death of one is the life of another. For if spiritually blood runneth from those that within are dead, do thou, seeing such vengeance, wash therein thy hands; for the future more cleanly live. And how shall he wash his hands, if a just man he is? For what hath he on his hands to be washed, if just he is? "But the just man of faith shall live."(9) Just men therefore he hath called believers: and from the time that thou hast believed, at once thou beginnest to be called just. For there hath been made a remission of sins. Even if out of that remaining part of thy life some sins are thine, which cannot but flow in, like water from the sea into the hold; nevertheless, because thou hast believed, when thou shalt have seen him that altogether is turned away from God to be slain in that blindness, there falling upon him that fire so that he see not the sun--then do thou that now through faith seest Christ, in order that thou mayest see in substance (because the just man liveth of faith), observe the ungodly man dying, and purge thyself from sins. So thou shalt wash in a manner thy hands in the blood of the sinner.
16. "And a man shall say, If therefore there is fruit to a just man" (ver. 10). Behold, before that there cometh that which is promised, before that there is given life everlasting, before that ungodly men are cast forth into fire everlasting, here in this life there is fruit to the just man. What fruit? "In hope rejoicing, in tribulation enduring."(1) What fruit to the just man? "We glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, but patience probation, but probation hope: but hope confoundeth not: because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, that hath been given to us."(2) Doth he rejoice that is a drunkard; and doth he not rejoice that is just? In love there is fruit to a just man. Miserable the one, even when he maketh himself drunken: blessed the other, even when he hungereth and thirsteth. The one wine-bibbing doth gorge, the other hope doth feed. Let him see therefore the punishment of the other, his own rejoicing, and let him think of God. He that hath given even now such joy of faith, of hope, of charity, of the truth of His Scriptures, what manner of joy is He making ready against the end? In the way thus He feedeth, in his home how shall He fill him? "And a man shall say, If therefore there is fruit to the just man." Let them that see believe, and see, and perceive. Rejoice shall the just man when he shall have seen vengeance. But if he hath not eyes whence he may see vengeance, he will be made sad, and will not be amended by it. But if he seeth it, he seeth what difference there is between the darkened eye of the heart, and the eye enlightened of the heart: between the coolness of chastity and the flame of lust, between the security of hope and the fear there is in crime. When he shall have seen this, let him separate himself, and wash his hands in the blood of the same. Let him profit by the comparison, and say, "Therefore there is fruit to the just man: therefore there is a God judging them in the earth." Not yet in that life, not yet in fire eternal, not yet in the lower places, but here in earth. ...
17. If somewhat too prolix we have been, pardon us. We exhort you in the name of Christ, to meditate profitably on those things which ye have heard. Because even to preach the truth is nought, if heart from tongue dissenteth; and to hear the truth nothing profiteth, if a man upon the rock build not. He that buildeth upon a Rock, is the same that heareth and doeth:(3) but he that heareth and doeth not, buildeth upon sand: he that neither heareth nor doeth, buildeth nothing. ...
The First Part.
1. As the Scripture is wont to set mysteries of the Psalms on the titles, and to deck the brow of a Psalm with the high announcement of a Mystery,(5) in order that we that are about to go in may know (when as it were upon the door-post we have read what within is doing) either of whom the house is, or who is the owner of that estate: so also in this Psalm there hath been written a title, of a title. For it hath, "At the end, corrupt not for David himself unto the inscription of the title." This is that which I have spoken of, title of Title. For what the inscription of this title is, which to be corrupted he forbiddeth, the Gospel to us doth indicate. For when the Lord was being crucified, a title by Pilate was inscribed and set, "King of the Jews,"(6) in three tongues, Hebrew, Greek, and Latin:(7) which tongues in the whole world mostly do prevail. ... Therefore "corrupt not" is most proper and prophetic; since indeed even those Jews made suggestion at that time to Pilate, and said, "Do not write King of the Jews, but write, that Himself said that He was King of the Jews:"(8) for this title, say they, hath established Him King over us. And Pilate, "What I have written, I have written." And there was fulfilled, "corrupt not."
2. Nor is this the only Psalm which hath an inscription of such sort, that the Title be not corrupted. Several Psalms thus are marked on the face, but however in all the Passion of the Lord is foretold. Therefore here also let us perceive the Lord's Passion, and let there speak to us Christ, Head and Body. So always, or nearly always, let us hear the words of Christ from the Psalm, as that we look not only upon that Head, the one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus.(9) ... But let us think of Christ, Head and whole Body, a sort of entire Man. For to us is said, "But ye are the Body of Christ and members,"(10) by the Apostle Paul. If therefore He is Head, we Body; whole Christ is Head and Body. For sometimes thou findest words which do not suit the Head, and unless thou shalt have attached them to the Body, thy understanding will waver: again thou findest words which are proper for the Body, and Christ nevertheless is speaking. In that place we must have no fear lest a man be mistaken for quickly he proceedeth to adapt to the Head, that which he seeth is not proper for the Body. ...
3. Let us hear, therefore, what followeth: "When Saul sent and guarded his house in order that he might kill him." This though not to the Cross of the Lord, yet to the Passion of the Lord doth belong. For Crucified was Christ, and dead, and buried. That sepulchre was therefore as it were the house: to guard which the government of the Jews sent, when guards were set to the sepulchre of Christ.(11) There is indeed a story in the Scripture of the Reigns, of the occasion when Saul sent to guard the house in order that he might kill David.(1) ... But in like manner as Saul effected not his purpose of slaying David: so this could not the government of the Jews effect, that the testimony of guards sleeping should avail more than that of Apostles watching. For what were the guards instructed to say? We give to you, they say, as much money as ye please; and say ye, that while ye were sleeping there came His disciples, and took Him away. Behold what sort of witnesses of falsehood against truth and the Resurrection of Christ, His enemies, through Saul figured, did produce. Enquire, O unbelief, of sleeping witnesses, let them reply to thee of what was done in the tomb. Who, if they were sleeping, whence knew it? If watching, wherefore detained they not the thieves? Let him say therefore what followeth.
4. "Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me" (ver. 1). There hath been done this thing in the flesh of Christ, it is being done in us also. For our enemies, to wit the devil and his angels, cease not to rise up upon us every day, and to wish to make sport of our weakness and our frailness, by deceptions, by suggestions, by temptations, and by snares of whatsoever sort to entangle us, while on earth we are still living. But let our voice watch unto God, and cry out in the members of Christ, under the Head that is in heaven, "Deliver me from mine enemies, my God, and from men rising up upon me, redeem Thou me."
5. "Deliver me from men working iniquity, and from men of bloods, save Thou me" (ver. 2). They indeed were men of bloods, who slew the Just One, in whom no guilt they found: they were men of bloods, because when the foreigner washed his hands, and would have let go Christ, they cried, "Crucify, Crucify:"(2) they were men of bloods, on whom when there was being charged the crime of the blood of Christ, they made answer, giving it to their posterity to drink, "His blood be upon us and upon our sons."(3) But neither against His Body did men of bloods cease to rise up; for even after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ, the Church suffered persecutions, and she indeed first that grew out of the Jewish people, of which also our Apostles were. There at first Stephen was stoned,(4) and received that of which he had his name. For Stephanus doth signify a crown. Lowly stoned but highly crowned. Secondly, among the Gentiles rose up kingdoms of Gentiles, before that in them was fulfilled that which had been foretold, "There shall adore Him all the kings of the earth, all nations shall serve Him:"(5) and there roared the fierceness of that kingdom against the witnesses of Christ: there was shed largely and frequently the blood of Martyrs: wherewith when it had been shed, being as it were sown, the field of the Church more productively put forth, and filled the whole world as we now behold. From these therefore, men of bloods, is delivered Christ, not only Head, but also Body. From men of bloods is delivered Christ, both from them that have been, and from them that are, and from them that are to be; there is delivered Christ, both He that hath gone before, and He that is, and He that is to come. For Christ is the whole Body of Christ; and whatsoever good Christians that now are, and that have been before us, and that after us are to be, are an whole Christ, who is delivered from men of bloods; nor is this voice void, "And from men of bloods save Thou me."
6. "For behold they have hunted my soul. ... There have rushed upon me strong men" (ver. 3). We must not however pass on from these strong men: diligently we must trace who are the strong men rising up. Strong men, upon whom but upon weak men, upon powerless men, upon men not strong? And praised nevertheless are the weak men, and condemned are the strong men. If it would be perceived who are strong men, at first the devil himself the Lord hath called a strong man: "No one," He saith, "is able to go into the house of a strong man, and to carry off his vessels, unless first he shall have bound the strong man."(6) He hath bound therefore the strong man with the chains of His dominion: and his vessels He hath carried off, and His own vessels hath made them. For all unrighteous men were vessels of the devil. ... But there are among mankind certain strong men of a blameable and damnable strength, that are confident indeed, but on temporal felicity. That man doth not(7) seem to you to have been strong, of whom now from the Gospels hath been read: how his estate brought forth abundance of fruits, and he being troubled, hit upon the design of rebuilding, so that, having pulled down his old barns, he should construct new ones more capacious, and, these having been finished, should say to his soul, "Thou hast many good things, soul, feast, be merry, be filled." ...There are also other men men strong, not because of riches, not because of the powers of the body, not because of any temporally pre-eminent power of station, but relying on their righteousness. This sort of strong men must be guarded against, feared, repulsed, not imitated: of men relying, I say, not on body, not on means, not on descent, not on honour; for all such things who would not see to be temporal, fleeting, falling, flying? but relying on their own righteousness. ..."Wherefore," say they, doth your Master eat with publicans and sinners?(1) O ye strong men, to whom a Physician is not needful! This strength to soundness belongeth not, but to insanity. For even than men frenzied nothing can be stronger, more mighty they are than whole men: but by how much greater their powers are, by so much nearer is their death. May God therefore turn away from our imitation these strong men. ... The same are therefore the strong men, that assailed Christ, commending their own justice. Hear ye these strong men: when certain men of Jerusalem were speaking, having been sent by them to take Christ, and not daring to take Him (because when he would, then was He taken, that truly was strong): Why therefore, say they, "could ye not take Him?" And they made answer, "No one of men did ever so speak as He." And these strong men, "Hath by any means any one of the Pharisees believed on Him, or any one of the Scribes, but this people knowing not the Law?"(2) They preferred themselves to the sick multitude, that was running to the Physician: whence but because they were themselves strong? and what is worse, by their strength, all the multitude also they brought over unto themselves, and slew the Physician of all. ...
7. What next? "Neither iniquity is mine, nor sin mine, O Lord" (ver. 4). There have rushed on indeed strong men on their own righteousness relying, they have rushed on, but sin in me they have not found. For truly those strong men, that is, as it were righteous men, on what account would they be able to persecute Christ, unless it were as if a sinner? But, however, let them look to it how strong they be, in the raging of fever not in the vigour of soundness: let them look to it how strong they be, and how as though just against an unrighteous man they have raged.(3) But, however, "neither iniquity is mine, nor sin mine, O Lord. Without iniquity I did run, and I was guided." Those strong men therefore could not follow me running: therefore a sinner they have deemed me, because my steps they have not seen.
8. "Without iniquity I did run, and was guided; rise up to meet me, and see." To God is said this. But why? If He meet not, is He unable to see? It is just as if thou wast walking in a road, and from afar by some one thou couldest not be recognised, thou wouldest call to him and wouldest say, Meet me, and see how I am walking; for when from afar thou espiest me, my steps thou art not able to see. So also unless God were to meet, would He not see how without iniquity he was guided, and how without sin he was running? This interpretation indeed we can also accept, namely, "Rise up to meet me," as if "help me." But that which he hath added, "and see," must be understood as, make it to be seen that I run, make it to be seen that I am guided: according to that figure wherein this also hath been said to Abraham, "Now I know that thou fearest God."(4) God saith, "Now I know:" whence, but because I have made thee to know? For unknown to himself every one is before the questioning of temptation: just as of himself Peter s in his confidence was ignorant, and by denying learned what kind of powers he had, in his very stumbling he perceived that it was falsely he had been confident: he wept, and in weeping he earned profitably to know what he was, and to be what he was not. Therefore Abraham when tried, became known to himself: and it was said by God, "Now I know," that is, now I have made thee to know. In like manner as glad is the day because it maketh men glad; and sad is bitterness because it maketh sad one tasting thereof: so God's seeing is making to see. "Rise up, therefore," he saith, "to meet me, and see" (ver. 5). What is, "and see"? And help me, that is, in those men, in order that they may see my course, may follow me; let not that seem to them to be crooked which is straight, let not that seem to them to be curved which keepeth the rule of truth.
9. Something else I am admonished to say in this place of the loftiness of our Head Himself: for He was made weak even unto death, and He took on Him the weakness of flesh, in order that the chickens of Jerusalem He might gather under His wings, like a hen showing herself weak with her little ones.(6) For have we not observed this thing in some bird at some time or other, even in those which build nests before our eyes, as the house-sparrows, as swallows, so to speak, our annual guests, as storks, as various sorts of birds, which before our eyes build nests, and hatch eggs, feed chickens, as the very doves which daily we see; and some bird to become weak with her chickens, have we not known, have we not looked upon, have we not seen? In what way doth a hen experience this weakness? Surely a known fact I am speaking of, which in our sight is daily taking place. How her voice groweth hoarse, how her whole body is made languid? The wings droop, the feathers are loosened, and thou seest around the chickens some sick thing, and this is maternal love which is found as weakness. Why was it therefore, but for this reason, that the Lord willed to be as a Hen, saying in the Holy Scripture, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often have I willed to gather thy sons, even as a hen her chickens under her wings, and thou hast not been willing." But He hath gathered all nations, like as a hen her chickens. ...
10. "And Thou, Lord God of virtues, God of Israel." Thou God of Israel, that art thought to be but God of one nation, which worshippeth Thee, when all nations worship idols, Thou God of Israel, "Give heed unto the visiting all nations." Fulfilled be that prophecy wherein Isaiah in Thy person speaketh to Thy Church, Thy holy City, that barren one of whom many more are the sons of Her forsaken than of her that hath a husband. To Her indeed hath been said, "Rejoice, thou barren, that bearest not,"(1) etc., more than of the Jewish nation which hath a Husband, which hath received the Law, more than of that nation which had a visible king. For thy king is hidden, and more sons to thee there are by a hidden Bridegroom. ... The Prophet addeth, "Enlarge the place of Thy tabernacle, and Thy(2) courts fix thou: there is no cause for thee to spare, extend further thy cords, and strong stakes set thou again and again on the right and on the left."(3) Upon the right keep good men, on the left keep evil men,(4) until there come the fan:(5) occupy nevertheless all nations; bidden to the marriage be good men and evil men, filled be the marriage with guests;(6) it is the office of servants to bid, of the Lord to sever. "Cities which had been forsaken Thou shall inhabit:"(7) forsaken of God, forsaken of Prophets, forsaken of Apostles, forsaken of the Gospel, full of demons. For Thou shalt prevail; and blush not because abominable Thou hast been. Therefore though there have risen up upon thee strong men, blush not: when against the name of Christ laws were enacted, when ignominy and infamy it was to be a Christian. "Blush not because abominable Thou hast been: for confusion for everlasting Thou shalt forget, of the ignominy of Thy widowhood Thou shall not be mindful." ...
11. "Have not pity upon all men that work iniquity." Here evidently He is terrifying. Whom would He not terrify? What man falling back upon his own conscience would not tremble? Which even if to itself it is conscious of godliness, strange if it be not in some sort conscious of iniquity. For whosoever doeth sin, also doeth iniquity.(8) "For if Thou shalt have marked iniquities, O Lord, what man shall abide it?"(9) And nevertheless a true saying it is, and not said to no purpose, and neither is nor will it be possible to be void, "Have not pity upon all men that work iniquity." But He had pity even upon Paul, who at first as Saul wrought iniquity. For what good thing did he, whence he might deserve of God? Did he not hate His Saints unto death?(10) did he not bear letters from the chief of the priests, to the end that wheresoever he might find Christians, to punishment he should hurry them? When bent upon this, when thither proceeding, breathing and panting slaughter, as the Scripture testified of him, was he not from Heaven with a mighty voice summoned, thrown down, raised up; blinded, lightened; slain, made alive; destroyed, restored? In return for what merit? Let us say nothing; himself rather let us hear: "I that before have been," he saith, "a blasphemer, and persecutor; and injurious, but mercy I have obtained."(11) Surely "Thou wouldest not have pity upon all men that work iniquity:" this in two ways may be understood: either that in fact not any sins doth God leave unpunished; or that there is a sort of iniquity, on the workers whereof God hath indeed no pity.
12. All iniquity, be it little or great, punished must needs be, either by man himself repenting, or by God avenging. For even he that repenteth punisheth himself. Therefore, brethren, let us punish our own sins, if we seek the mercy of God. God cannot have mercy on all men working iniquity as if pandering to sins, or not rooting out sins. In a word, either thou punishest, or He punisheth. ...
13. But let us see now another way in which this sentence may be understood. There is a certain iniquity, on the worker whereof it cannot be that God have mercy. Ye enquire, perchance, what that is? It is the defending of sins. When a man defendeth his sins, great iniquity he worketh: that thing he is defending which God hateth. And see how perversely, how iniquitously. Whatever of good he hath done, to himself he would have it to be ascribed; whatever of evil, to God. For in this manner men defend sins in the person of God, which is a worse sin. ...Therefore thou defendest thy sin in such sort, that thou layest blame on God. So the guilty is excused, so that the Judge may be charged. However on men working iniquity God hath no pity at all.
14. "Let them be converted at the evening" (ver. 6). Of certain men he is speaking that were once workers of iniquity, and once darkness, being converted in the evening. What is, "in the evening"? Afterward. What is "at the evening"? Later. For before, before that they crucified Christ, they ought to have acknowledged their Physician. Wherefore, when He had been crucified--rising again, into Heaven ascending--after that He sent His Holy Spirit, wherewith were fulfilled they that were in one house, and they began to speak with the tongues of all nations, there feared the crucifiers of Christ; they were pricked through with their consciences, they besought counsel of safety from the Apostles, they heard, "Repent, and be baptized each one of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and your sins shall be remitted unto you."(1) After the slaying of Christ, after the shedding of the blood of Christ, remitted are your sins. ... "Let these be converted," therefore, they also "at evening." Let them yearn for the grace of God, perceive themselves to be sinners; let those strong men be made weak, those rich men be made poor, those just men acknowledge themselves sinners, those lions be made dogs. "Let them be converted at evening, and suffer hunger as dogs. And they shall go around the city." What city? That world, which in certain places the Scripture calleth "the city of standing round:"(2) that is, because in all nations everywhere the world had encompassed the one nation of Jews, where such words were being spoken, and it was called "the city of standing round." Around this city shall go those men, now having become hungry dogs. In what manner shall they go around? By preaching. Saul out of a wolf was made a dog at evening, that is, being late converted by the crumbs of his Lord, in His grace he ran, and went around the city.(3)
15. "Behold, themselves shall speak in their mouth, and a sword is on the lips of them" (ver. 7). Here is that sword twice whetted, whereof the Apostle saith, "And the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God."(4) Wherefore twice whetted? Wherefore, but because smiting out of both Testaments? With this sword were slain those whereof it was said to Peter, "Slay, and eat."(5) "And a sword is on the lips of them. For who hath heard?" They all speak in their mouth, "Who hath heard?" That is, they shall be wroth with men that are slow to believe. They that a little before were even themselves unwilling to believe, do feel disgust from men not believing. And truly, brethren, so it is. Thou seest a man slow before he is made a Christian; thou criest to him daily, hardly he is converted: suppose him to be converted, and then he would have all men to be Christians, and wondereth that not yet they are. It hath chanced out to him at evening to have been converted: but because he hath been made hungering like a dog, he hath also on his lips a sword; he saith, "Who hath heard?" What is, "Who hath heard?" "Who hath believed our hearing, and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?"(6) "For who hath heard?" The Jews believe not: they have turned them to the nations, and have preached. The Jews did not believe; and nevertheless through believing Jews the Gospel went around the city, and they said, "For who hath heard?" "And Thou, Lord, shall deride them" (ver. 8). All nations are to be Christian, and ye say, "Who hath heard?" What is, "shall deride them"? "As nothing Thou shall esteem all nations." Nothing for Thee it shall be; because a most easy thing it will be for all nations to believe in Thee.
16. "My strength to Thee I will keep" (ver. 9). For those strong men have fallen for this reason; because their strength to Thee they have not kept: that is, they that upon me have risen up and rushed, on themselves have relied. But I "my strength to Thee will keep:" because if I withdraw, I fall; if I draw near, stronger I am made. For see, brethren, what there is in a human soul. It hath not of itself light, hath not of itself powers: but all that is fair in a soul, is virtue and wisdom: but it neither is wise for itself, nor strong for itself, nor itself is light to itself, nor itself is virtue to itself. There is a certain origin and fountain of virtue, there is a certain root of wisdom, there is a certain, so to speak, if this also must be said, region of unchangeable truth: from this the soul withdrawing is made dark, drawing near is made light.(7) "Draw near to Him, and be made light:" because by withdrawing ye are made dark. Therefore, "my strength, I will keep to, Thee:" not from Thee will I withdraw, not on myself will I rely. "My strength, to Thee I will keep: because, O God, my lifter up(8) Thou art." For where was I, and where am I? Whence hast Thou taken me up? What iniquities of mine hast Thou remitted? Where was I lying? To what have I been raised up? I ought to have remembered these things: because in another Psalm is said, "For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken me unto Him."(9)
17. "My God, the mercy of Him shall(10) come before me" (ver. 10). Behold what is, "My strength, to Thee I will keep:" on myself I will in no ways at all rely. For what good thing have I brought, that thou shouldest have mercy on me, and shouldest justify me? What in me hast Thou found, save sins alone? Of Thine there is nothing else but the nature which Thou hast created: the other things are mine own evil things which Thou hast blotted out. I have not first risen up to Thee, but to awake me Thou hast come: for "His mercy shall come before me." Before that anything of good I shall do, "His mercy shall come before me." What answer here shall the unhappy Pelagius make? "My God hath shown to me among mine enemies" (ver. 11). How great mercy He hath put forth concerning me, among mine enemies He hath showed. Let one gathered compare himself with men forsaken, and one elect with men rejected: let the vessel of mercy compare itself with the vessels of wrath; and let it see how out of one lump God hath made one vessel unto honour, another unto dishonour. "For so God, willing to show wrath, and to manifest His power, hath brought in, in much patience, the vessels of wrath, which have been perfected unto perdition."(1) And wherefore this? "In order that He might make known His riches upon the vessels of mercy." If therefore vessels of wrath He hath brought in, wherein He might make known His riches upon the vessels of mercy, most rightly hath been said, "His mercy shall come before me: My God hath showed to me among mine enemies:" that is however great mercy He hath had concerning me, to me He hath showed it among these men concerning whom He hath not had mercy. For unless the debtor be in suspense, he is less grateful to him by whom the debt hath been forgiven."My God hath showed to me among mine enemies."
18. But of the enemies themselves what? "Slay them not, lest sometime they forget Thy law." He is making request for his enemies, he is fulfilling the commandment. ... Slay not them of whom the sins Thou slayest. But what is it to be slain? To forget the law of the Lord. It is real death, to go into the pit of sin; this indeed may be also understood of the Jews. Why of the Jews, "Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Thy law"? Those very enemies of mine, that have slain me, do not Thou slay. Let the nation of the Jews remain: certes conquered it hath been by the Romans certes effaced is the city of them, Jews are not admitted into their city, and yet Jews there are. For all those provinces by the Romans have been subjugated. Who now can distinguish the nations in the Roman empire the one from the other, inasmuch as all have become Romans and all are called Romans? The Jews nevertheless remain with a mark; nor in such sort conquered have they been, as that by the conquerors they have been swallowed up. Not without reason is there that Cain, on whom, when he had slain his brother, God set a mark in order that no one should slay him.(2) This is the mark which the Jews have: they hold fast by the remnant of their law, they are circumcised, they keep Sabbaths, they sacrifice the Passover; they eat unleavened bread. These are therefore Jews, they have not been slain, they are necessary to believing nations. Why so? In order that He may show to us among our enemies His mercy. "My God hath shown to me in mine enemies." He showeth His mercy to the wild-olive grafted on branches that have been cut off because of pride. Behold where they lie, that were proud, behold where thou hast been grafted, that didst lie: and be not thou proud, lest thou shouldest deserve to be cut off.
19. "Scatter them abroad in Thy virtue" (ver. 11). Now this thing hath been done: throughout all nations there have been scattered abroad the Jews, witnesses of their own iniquity and our truth. They have themselves writings, out of which hath been prophesied Christ, and we hold Christ. And if sometime perchance any heathen man shall have doubted, when we have told him the prophecies of Christ, at the clearness whereof he is amazed, and wondering hath supposed that they were written by ourselves, then out of the copies of the Jews we prove, how this thing so long time before had been foretold. See after what sort by means of our enemies we confound other enemies. "Scatter them abroad in Thy virtue:" take away from them "virtue," take away from them their strength. "And bring them down, my protector, O Lord." "The transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips: and let them be taken in their pride: and out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in the anger of consummation, and they shall not be" (ver. 12). Obscure words these are, and I fear lest they be not well instilled. ...
The Second Part.
1. For, behold, the Jews are enemies, whom this Psalm seemeth to imply; the law of God they hold, and therefore of them hath been said, "Slay not them, lest sometime they forget Thy law:" in order that the nation of Jews might remain, and by it remaining the number of Christians might increase. Throughout all nations they remain certainly, and Jews they are, nor have they ceased to be what they were: that is, this nation hath not so yielded to Roman institutions, as to have lost the form of Jews; but hath been subjected to the Romans so as that it still retaineth its own laws; which are the laws of God. But what in their case hath been done? "Ye tithe mint and cummin, and have forsaken the weightier matters of the law, mercy, and judgment, straining a gnat, but swallowing a camel."(1) This to them the Lord saith. And in truth so they are; they hold the law, hold the Prophets; read all things, sing all things: the light of the Prophets therein they see not, which is Christ Jesus. Not only Him now they see not, when he is sitting in Heaven: but not even at that tithe saw they Him, when among them humble He was walking, and they were made guilty by shedding the blood of the Same; but not all. This even to-day we commend to the notice of your Love. Not all: because many of them were turned to Him whom they slew, and by believing on Him, they obtained pardon even for the shedding of His blood: and they have given an example for men; how they ought not to despair that sin of whatsoever kind would be remitted to them, since even the killing of Christ was remitted to them confessing. ...
2. What in them wilt Thou slay? The Crucify, Crucify,(2) which they cried out, not them that cried out. For they willed to blot out, cut off, destroy Christ: but Thou, by raising to life Christ, whom they willed to destroy, dost slay the "transgressions of their mouth, the discourse of their lips." For in that He whom they cried out should be destroyed, liveth, they are taken with dread: and that He whom on earth they despised, in heaven is adored by all nations, they wonder: thus are there slain the transgressions of them, and the discourse of their lips. What is, "let them be taken in their pride"? Because to no purpose have strong men rushed on, and it hath fallen out to them as it were to think themselves to have done somewhat, and they have prevailed against the Lord. They were able to crucify a man, weakness might prevail and virtue(3) be slain; and they thought themselves somewhat, as it were strong men, as it were mighty men, as it were prevailing, as it were a lion prepared for prey, as it were fat bulls, as of them in another place he maketh mention: "Fat bulls have beset me."(4) But what have they done in the case of Christ? Not life, but death they have slain. ... And what now hath come to pass in those men that have been converted? For it was told to them that He whom they slew rose again. They believed Him to have risen again, because they saw that He, being in Heaven, thence sent the Holy Spirit, and filled those that on Him believed; and they found themselves to have condemned nought, and to have done nought. Their doing issued in emptiness, the sin remained. Because therefore the doing was made void, but the sin remained upon the doers; they were taken in their pride, they saw themselves under their iniquity.(5) It remained therefore for them to confess the sin, and for Him to pardon, that had given Himself up to sinners, and to forgive His death, having been slain by men dead, and making alive men dead. They were taken therefore in their pride.
3. "And out of cursing and lying shall be declared consummations, in anger of consummation, and they shall not be." This too with difficulty is understood, to what is joined the "and they shall not be." What shall they not be? Let us therefore examine the context above: when they shall have been taken in their pride, "there shall be declared out of cursing and lying consummations." What are consummations? Perfections: for to be consummated, is to be perfected. One thing it is to be consummated, another thing to be consumed. For a thing is consummated which is so finished as that it is perfected: a thing is consumed which is so finished that it is not. Pride would not suffer a man to be perfected, nothing so much hindereth perfection. For let your Love attend a little to what I am saying; and see an evil very pernicious, very much to be guarded against. What sort of evil do ye think it is? How long could I enlarge upon how much evil there is in pride? The devil on that account alone is to be punished. Certes he is the chief of all sinners: certes he is the tempter to sin: to him is not ascribed adultery, not wine-bibbing, not fornication, not the robbing of others' goods: by pride alone he fell. And since pride's companion is envy, it must needs be that a proud man should envy. ... In a word, all vices in evil-doings are to be feared, pride in well-doings is more to be feared. It is no wonder, then, that so humble is the Apostle, as to say, "When I am made weak, then I am strong."(6) For lest he should himself be tempted by this sin, what sort of medicine doth he say was applied to him against swelling by the Physician, who knew what He was healing? "Lest by the greatness," he saith, "of the revelations I should be exalted, there was given to me a thorn of my flesh, the angel of Satan, to buffet me: wherefore thrice the Lord I besought, that it should depart from me: and He said to me, My grace is sufficient for thee, for virtue in weakness is made perfect."(7) See what the consummations are. An Apostle, the teacher of Gentiles, father of the faithful through the Gospel, received a thorn of the flesh whereby he might be buffeted. Which of us would dare to say this, unless he had not been ashamed to confess this? For if we shall have said that Paul had not suffered this; while to him as it were honour we give, a liar we make him. But because truthful he is, and truth he hath spoken; it behoveth us to believe that there was given to him an angel of Satan, lest by the greatness of the revelations he should be exalted. Behold how much to be feared is the serpent of pride. ...
4. What is, "in the anger of consummation shall be declared consummations"? There is an anger of consummation, and there is an anger of consuming. For every vengeance of God is called anger: sometimes God avengeth, to the end that He may make perfect; sometimes He avengeth, to the end that He may condemn. How doth He avenge, to the end that He may make perfect? "He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth."(1) How doth He avenge, to the end that He may condemn? When He shall have set ungodly men on the left hand, and shall have said to them, "Go ye into fire everlasting, that hath been prepared for the devil and his angels."(2) This is the anger of consuming, not that of consummation. But "there shall be declared consummations in the anger of consummation;" it shall be preached by the Apostles, that "where sin hath abounded, grace shall much more abound,"(3) and the weakness of man hath belonged to the healing of humility. Those men thinking of this, and finding out and confessing their iniquities, "shall not be." "Shall not be" what? In their pride.
5. "And they shall know how God shall have dominion of Jacob, and of the ends of the earth" (ver. 13). For before they thought themselves just men, because the Jewish nation had received the Law, because it had kept the commandments of God: it is proved to them that it hath not kept them, since in the very commandments of God Christ it perceived not, because "blindness in part has happened to Israel."(4) Even the Jews themselves see that they ought not to despise the Gentiles, of whom they deemed as of dogs and sinners. For just as alike they have been found in iniquity, so alike they will attain unto salvation. "Not only to Jews," saith the Apostle, "but also even to Gentiles."(5) For to this end the Stone which the builders set at nought, hath even been made for the Head of the corner,(6) in order that two in itself It might join: for a corner doth unite two walls. The Jews thought themselves exalted and great: of the Gentiles they thought as weak, as sinners, as the servants of demons, as the worshippers of idols, and yet in both was there iniquity. Even the Jews have been proved sinners; because "there is none that doeth good, there is not even so much as one:"(7) they have laid down their pride, and have not envied the salvation of the Gentiles, because they have known their own and their weakness to be alike: and in the Corner Stone being united, they have together worshipped the Lord. ...
6. "They shall be converted at evening" (ver. 14): that is, even if late, that is, after the slaying of our Lord Jesus Christ: "They shall be converted at evening: and hereafter they shall suffer hunger as dogs." But "as dogs," not as sheep or calves: "as dogs," as Gentiles, as sinners; because they too have known their sin that thought themselves righteous. ... It is a good thing therefore for a sinner to be humbled; and no one is more incurable than he that thinketh himself whole. "And they shall go around the city." Already we have explained "city;"(8) it is the "city of standing round;" all nations.
7. "They shall be scattered abroad in order that they may eat" (ver. 15); that is, in order that they may gain others, in order that into their Body they may change believers. "But if they shall not be filled, they shall murmur." Because above also he had spoken of the murmur of them, saying, "For who hath heard?" "And Thou, O Lord," he saith, "shall deride them, saying, Who hath heard?"(9) Wherefore? Because, as nothing Thou shall count all nations. Let the Psalm be concluded. See ye the Corner(10) exulting, now with both walls rejoicing. The Jews were proud, humbled they have been; Gentiles were despairing, raised up they have been: let them come to the Corner, there let them meet, there run together, there find the kiss of peace; from different parts let them come, but with differing not come, those of Circumcision, these of uncircumcision. Far apart were the walls, but before that to the Corner they came: but in the Corner let them hold themselves, and now let the whole Church from both walls, say what? "But I will sing of Thy power, and I will exult in the morning of Thy mercy" (ver. 16). In the morning when temptations have been overcome, in the morning when the night of this world shall have passed away; in the morning when no longer the lyings in wait of robbers and of the devil and of his angels we dread, in the morning when no longer by the lamp of prophecy we walk, but Himself the Word of God as it were a Sun we contemplate. "And I will exult in the morning of Thy mercy." With reason in another Psalm is said, "In the morning I will stand by Thee, and I will meditate."(11) With reason also of the Lord Himself the Resurrection was at dawn, that there should be fulfilled that which hath been said in another Psalm, "In the evening shall tarry weeping and in the morning exultation."(12) For at even the disciples mourned our Lord Jesus Christ as dead, at dawn at Him rising again they exulted. "For Thou hast become my taker up, and my refuge in the day of my tribulation."
8. "My Helper, to Thee I will play, because Thou, O God, art my taker up" (ver. 17). What was I, unless Thou didst succour? How much despaired of was I, unless Thou didst heal? Where was I lying, unless Thou didst come to me? Certes with a huge wound I was endangered, but that wound of mine did call for an Almighty Physician. To an Almighty Physician nothing is incurable. ... Lastly, thinking of all good things whatsoever we may have, either in nature or in purpose, or in conversion itself, in faith, in hope, in charity, in good morals, in justice, in fear of God; all these to be only by His gifts, he hath thus concluded: "My God is my mercy:" He being filled with the good things of God hath not found what he might call his God, save "his mercy." O name, under which no one must despair! If thou say, my salvation, I perceive that He giveth salvation; if thou say, my refuge, I perceive that thou takest refuge in Him; if thou say, my strength, I perceive that He giveth to thee strength: "my mercy," is what? All that I am is of Thy mercy. ...
1. David the king was one man, but not one man he figured; sometimes to wit he figured the Church of many men consisting, extended even unto the ends of the earth: but sometimes One Man he figured, Him he figured that is Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.(2) In this Psalm therefore, or rather in this Psalm's title, certain victorious actions of David are spoken of: ... "To the end, in behalf of those men that shall be changed unto the title's inscription, unto teaching for David himself, when he burned up Mesopotamia in Syria, and Syria Sobal, and turned Joab, and smote Edom, in the valley of salt-pits twelve thousand." We read of these things in the books of the Reigns,(3) that all those persons whom he hath named, were defeated by David, that is, Mesopotamia in Syria, and Syria Sobal, Joab,(4) Edom. These things were done, and just as they were done, so there they have been written, so they are read: let him read that will. Nevertheless, as the Prophetic Spirit in the Psalms' titles is wont to depart somewhat from the expression of things done, and to say something which in history is not found, and hence rather to admonish us that titles of this kind have been written not that we may know things done, but that things future may be prefigured. ... But here this thing is inserted for this especial reason, that there it is not written s that he burned up Mesopotamia in Syria, and Syria Sobal. But now let us begin to examine these things after the significations of things future, and to bring out the dimness of shadows into the light of the word.
2. What is "to the end" ye know. For "the end of the law is Christ."(6) Those that are changed ye know. For who but they that do pass from old life into new? ... "For ye were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord."(7) But they are changed "into the title's inscription," ... who into the kingdom of Christ do pass over from the kingdom of the devil. It is well that they are changed unto this title's inscription. But they are changed, as followeth, "unto teaching." He added, "for David himself unto teaching:" that is, are changed not for themselves, but for David himself, and are changed unto teaching. ... When therefore would Christ have changed us, unless He had done that which He spake of, "Fire I have come to send into the world"?(8) If therefore Christ came to send into the world fire, to wit to its health and profit, we must inquire not how He is to send the world into fire, but how into the world fire. Inasmuch as therefore He came to send fire into the world, let us inquire what is Mesopotamia which was burned up, what is Syria Sobal? The interpretations therefore of the names let us examine according to the Hebrew language, wherein first this Scripture was written. Mesopotamia(9) they say is interpreted, "exalted calling." Now the whole world by calling hath been exalted, Syria(10) is interpreted "lofty." But she which was lofty, burned up hath been and humbled. Sobal is interpreted "empty antiquity." Thanks to Christ that hath burned her. Whenever old bushes are burned up, green places succeed; and more speedily and more plentifully, and more fully green, fresh ones spring out, when fire hath gone before them to the burning up of the old. Let not therefore the fire of Christ be feared, hay it consumeth. "For all flesh is hay, and all the glory of man as flower of hay."(11) He burneth up therefore those things with that fire. "And turned Josh." Joab is interpreted enemy. There was turned an enemy, as thou wilt understand it. If turned unto flight, the devil it is: if converted to the faith, a Christian it is. How unto flight? From the heart of a Christian: "The Prince of this world," He saith, "now hath been cast out."(12) But how can a Christian turned to the Lord be an enemy turned? Because he hath become a believer that had been an enemy. "Smote Edom." Edom is interpreted "earthly." That earthly one ought to be smitten. For why should one live earthly, that ought to live heavenly? There hath been slain therefore life earthly, let there live life heavenly. "For as we have borne the image of the earthly, let us bear also the image of Him that is from Heaven."(1) See it slain: "Mortify your members which are upon earth."(2) But when he had smitten Edom, he smote "twelve thousand in the valley of salt-pits." Twelve thousand is a perfect number, to which perfect number also the number of the twelve Apostles is ascribed: for not to no purpose is it, but because through the whole world was to be sent the Word. But the Word(3) of God, which is Christ, is in clouds, that is, in the preachers of truth. But the world of four parts doth consist. The four parts thereof are exceeding well known to all, and often in the Scriptures they are mentioned: they are the same as the name of the four winds, East, West, North, and South. To all these four parts was sent the Word, so that in the Trinity all might be called. The number twelve four times three do make. With reason therefore twelve thousand(4) earthly things were smitten, the whole world was smitten: for from the whole world was chosen out the Church, mortified from earthly life. Why "in the valley of salt-pits"? A valley is humility: salt-pits signify savour. For many men are humbled, but emptily and foolishly, in empty oldness they are humbled. One suffereth tribulation for money, suffereth tribulation for temporal honour, suffereth tribulation for the comforts of this life; he is to suffer tribulation and to be humbled: why not for the sake of God? why not for the sake of Christ? why not for the savour of salt? Knowest thou not that to thee hath been said, "Ye are the salt of earth," and, "If the salt shall have been spoiled, for no other thing will it be of use, but to be cast out"?(5) A good thing it is therefore wisely to be humbled. Behold now are not heretics being humbled? Have not laws been made even by men to condemn them, against whom divine laws do reign, which even before had condemned them? Behold they are humbled, behold they are put to flight, behold persecution they suffer, but without savour; for folly, for emptiness. For now the salt hath been spoiled: therefore it hath been cast out, to be trodden down of men. We have heard the title of the Psalm, let us hear also the words of the Psalm.
3. "God, Thou hast driven us back, and hast destroyed us" (ver. 1). Is that David speaking that smote, that burned up, that defeated, and not they to whom He did these things, that is to say, their being smitten and driven back, that were evil men, and again their being made alive and returning in order that they might be good men? That destruction indeed that David made, strong of hand, our Christ, whose figure that man was bearing; He did those things, He made this destruction with His sword and with His fire: for both He brought into this world. Both "Fire I am come to send into the world,"(6) thou hast in the Gospel: and "A sword I have come to send into the earth,"(7) thou hast in the Gospel. He brought in fire, whereby might be burned up Mesopotamia in Syria, and Syria Sobal: He brought in a sword whereby might be smitten Edom. Now again this destruction was made for the sake of "those that are changed unto the title's inscription." Hear we therefore the voice of them: to their health smitten they were, being raised up let them speak. Let them say, therefore, that are changed into something better, changed unto the title's inscription, changed unto teaching for David himself; let them say, "Thou hast had mercy upon us." Thou hast destroyed us, in order that Thou mightest build us; Thou hast destroyed us that were ill builded, hast destroyed empty oldness; in order that there may be a building unto a new man, building to abide for everlasting. ...
4. "Thou hast moved the earth, and hast troubled it" (ver. 2). How hath the earth been troubled? In the conscience of sinners. Whither go we? Whither flee we, when this sword hath been brandished, "Repent, for near hath drawn the kingdom of Heaven"?(8) "Heal the crushings(9) thereof, for moved it hath been." Unworthy it is to be healed, if moved it hath not been: but thou speakest, preachest, threatenest us with God, of coming judgment holdest not thy peace, of the commandment of God thou warnest, from these things thou abstainest not; and he that heareth, if he feareth not, if he is not moved, is not worthy to be healed. Another heareth, is moved, is stung, smiteth the breast, sheddeth tears. ...
5. The first labour is, that thou shouldest be displeasing to thyself, that sins thou shouldest battle out, that thou shouldest be changed into something better: the second labour, in return for thy having been changed, is to bear the tribulations and temptations of this world, and amid them to hold on even unto the end. Of these things therefore when he was speaking, while pointing out such things, he addeth what? "Thou hast shown to Thy people hard things" (ver. 3): to Thy people now, made tributary after the victory of David. "Thou hast shown to Thy people hard things." Wherein? In persecutions which the Church of Christ hath endured, when so much blood of martyrs was spilled. "Thou hast given us to drink of the wine of goading." "Of goading" is what? Not of killing. For it was not a killing that destroyeth, but a medicine that smarteth.(1) "Thou hast given us to drink of the wine of goading."
6. Wherefore this? "Thou hast given to men fearing Thee, a sign that they should flee from the face of the bow" (ver. 4). Through tribulations temporal, he saith, Thou hast signified to Thine own to flee from the wrath of fire everlasting. For, saith the Apostle Peter, "Time it is that Judgment begin with the House of God."(2) And exhorting the Martyrs to endurance, when the world should rage, when slaughters should be made at the hands of persecutors, when far and wide blood of believers should be spilled, when in chains, in prisons, in tortures, many hard things Christians should suffer, in these hard things, I say, lest they should faint, Peter saith to them, "Time it is that Judgment begin with the House of God," etc.(3) What therefore is to be in the Judgment? The bow is bended, still in menacing posture it is, not yet in aiming. And see what there is in the bow: is there not an arrow to be shot forward? The string however is stretched back in a contrary direction to that in which it is going to be shot; and the more the stretching thereof hath gone backward, with the greater swiftness it starteth forward. What is it that I have said? The more the Judgment is deferred, with so much the greater swiftness it is to come. Therefore even for temporal tribulations to God let us render thanks, because He hath given to His people a sign, "that they should flee from the face of the bow:" in order that His faithful ones having been exercised in tribulations temporal, may be worthy to avoid the condemnation of fire everlasting, which is to find out all them that do not believe these things.
7. "That Thy beloved may be delivered: save me with Thy right hand, and hearken unto me" (ver. 5). With Thy right hand save me, Lord: so save me as that at the right hand I may stand. Not any safety temporal I require, in this matter Thy Will be done. For a time what is good for us we are utterly ignorant: for "what we should pray for as we ought we know not:"(4) but "save me with Thy right hand," so that even if in this time I suffer sundry tribulations, when the night of all tribulations hath been spent, on the right hand I may be found among the sheep, not on the left hand among the goats.(5) "And hearken, unto me." Because now I am deserving that which Thou art willing to give; not "with the words of my transgressions" I am crying through the day, so that Thou hearken not, and "in the night so that Thou hearken not,"(6) and that not for folly to me," but truly for my warning, by adding savour from the valley of salt-pits, so that in tribulation I may know what to ask: but I ask life everlasting; therefore hearken unto me, because Thy right hand I ask. ...
8. "God hath spoken in His Holy One" (ver. 6). ... In what Holy One of His? "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself."(7) In that Holy One, of whom elsewhere ye have heard, "O God, in the Holy One is Thy way."(8) "I will rejoice and will divide Sichima. ... and the valley of tabernacles I will measure out." Sichima is interpreted shoulders. But according to history, Jacob returning from Laban his father-in-law with all his kindred, hid the idols in Sichima(9) which he had from Syria, where for a long time he had dwelled, and at length was coming from thence. But tabernacles he made there because of his sheep and herds, and called the place Tabernacles.(10) And these I will divide, saith the Church. What is this, "I will divide Sichima"? If to the story where the idols were hidden is the reference, the Gentiles it signifieth; I divide the Gentiles. I divide, is what? "For not in all men is there faith."(11) I divide, is what? Some will believe, others will not believe. ... The shoulders are divided, in order that their sins may burthen some men, while others may take up the burden of Christ. For godly shoulders He was requiring when He said," For My yoke is gentle, and My burden is light."(12) Another burden oppresseth and loadeth thee, but Christ's burden relieveth thee: another burden hath weight, Christ's burden hath wings. For even if thou pull off the wings from a bird, thou dost remove a kind of weight; and the more weight thou hast taken away, the more on earth it will abide. She that thou hast chosen to disburden lieth there: she flieth not, because thou hast taken off a weight: let there be given back the weight, and she flieth. Such is Christ's burden; let men carry it, and not be idle: let them not be heeded that will not bear it; let them bear it that will, and they shall find how light it is, how sweet, how pleasant, how ravishing unto Heaven, and from earth how transporting. ... Perchance because of the sheep of Jacob, "the valley of Tabernacles" is to be understood of the nation of the Jews, and the same is divided: for they have passed from thence that have believed, the rest have remained without.
9. "Mine is Galaad" (ver. 7). These names are read in the Scriptures of God. Galaad hath the voice of an interpretation of its own and of a great Mystery: for it is interpreted "the heap of testimony." How great a heap of testimony in the Martyrs? "Mine is Galaad," mine is a heap of testimony, mine are the true Martyrs.... Then meanly esteemed was the Church among men, then reproach on Her a Widow was being thrown, because Christ's She was, because the sign of the Cross on her brow She was wearing: not yet was there honour, censure there was then: when therefore not honour, but censure there was, then was made a heap of witness; and through the heap of witness was the Love of Christ enlarged; and through the enlargement of the Love of Christ, were the Gentiles possessed. There followeth, "And mine is Manasses;" which is interpreted forgotten. For to Her had been said, "Confusion for everlasting Thou shall forget, and of the reproach of Thy widowhood Thou shall not be mindful."(1) There was therefore a confusion of the Church once, which now hath been forgotten: for of Her confusion and of the "reproach" of Her widow-hood now She is not mindful. For when there was a sort of confusion among men, a heap of witness was made. Now no longer doth any even remember that confusion, when it was a reproach to be a Christian, now no one remembereth, now all have forgotten, now "Mine is Manasses, and Ephraim the strength of My head." Ephraim is interpreted fruitfulness. Mine, he saith, is fruitfulness, and this fruitfulness is the strength of My Head. For My Head is Christ. And whence is fruitfulness the strength of Him? Because unless a grain were to fall into the earth, it would not be multiplied, alone it would remain.(2) Fall then to earth did Christ in His Passion, and there followed fruit-bearing in the Resurrection. He was hanging and was being despised: the grain was within, it had powers to draw after it all things. How in a grain do numbers of seeds lie hid, something abject it appeareth to the eyes, but a power(3) turning into itself matter and bringing forth fruit is hidden; so in Christ's Cross virtue(4) was hidden, there appeared weakness. O mighty grain! Doubtless weak is He that hangeth, Doubtless before Him that people did wag the head, Doubtless they said, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross."(5) Hear the strength of Him: that which is a weak thing of God, is stronger than men.(6) With reason so great fruitfulness hath followed: it is mine, saith the Church.
10. "Juda is my king: Moab the pot of my hope" (ver. 7). What Juda? He that is of the tribe of Juda. What Juda, but He to whom Jacob himself said, "Juda, thy brethren shall praise thee"?(7) What therefore should I fear, when Juda my king saith, "Fear not them that kill the body"?(8) Moab the pot of my hope" Wherefore "pot"? Because tribulation. Wherefore "of my hope"? Because there hath gone before Juda my king. ... Moab is perceived in the Gentiles. For that nation was born of sin,(9) that nation was born of the daughters of Lot, who lay with their father drunken, abusing a father. Better were it to have remained barren, than thus to have become mothers. But this was a kind of figure of them that abuse the law. For do not heed that law in the Latin language is of the feminine gender: in Greek of the masculine gender it is: but whether it be of the feminine gender in speaking, or of the masculine, the expression maketh no difference to the truth. For law hath rather a masculine force, because it ruleth, is not ruled. But moreover, the Apostle Paul saith what? "Good is the law, if any one use it lawfully."(10) But those daughters of Lot unlawfully used their father. But in the same manner as good works begin to grow when a man useth well the law: so arise evil works, when a man ill useth the law. Furthermore, they ill using their father, that is, ill using the law, engendered the Moabites, by whom are signified evil works. Thence the tribulation of the Church, thence the pot boiling up. Of this pot in a certain place of prophecy is said, "A pot heated by the North wind."(11) Whence but by the quarters of the devil, who hath said, "I will set my seat at the North"?(12) The chiefest tribulations therefore arise against the Church from none except from those that ill use the law. ...
11. "Into Idumaea I will stretch out my shoe" (ver. 8). The Church speaketh, "I will come through even unto Idumaea." Let tribulations rage, let the world boil with offences, even unto those very persons that lead an earthly life (for Idumaea is interpreted earthly), even unto those same," even unto Idumaea, I will stretch out my shoe." Of what thing the shoe except of the Gospel? "How beautiful the feet of them that tell of peace, that tell of good things,"(13) and "the feet shod unto the preparation of the Gospel of peace."(14)... In these times we see, brethren, how many earthly men do perpetrate frauds for the sake of gain, for frauds perjuries; on account of their fears they consult fortune-tellers, astrologers: all these men are Edomites, earthly; and nevertheless all these men adore Christ, under His own shoe they are; now even unto Idumaea is stretched out His shoe. "To Me Allophyli have been made subject." Who are "Allophyli"? Men of other race, not belonging to My race.(15) They "have been made subject," because many men adore Christ, and are not to reign with Christ.
12. "Who will lead Me down into the city of standing round?" (ver. 9). What is the city of standing round? If ye remember already, I have made mention thereof in another Psalm,(1) wherein hath been said, "And they shall go around the city." For the city of standing round is the compassing around of the Gentiles, which compassing around of the Gentiles in the middle thereof had the one nation of the Jews, worshipping one God: the rest of the compassing around of the Gentiles to idols made supplication, demons they did serve. And mystically it was called the city of standing round; because on all sides the Gentiles had poured themselves around, and had stood around that nation which did worship one God. ... "Who will lead me down even unto Idumaea?"
13. "Wilt not Thou, O God, that hast driven us back? And wilt not Thou, O God, march forth in our powers?" (ver. 10). Wilt not Thou lead us down, that hast driven us back? But wherefore "hast driven us back"? Because Thou hast destroyed us.(2) Wherefore hast destroyed us? Because angry Thou hast been, and hast had pity on us. Thou therefore wilt lead down, that hast driven back; Thou, O God, that wilt not march forth in our powers, wilt lead down. What is, "wilt not march forth in our powers"? The world is to rage, the world is to tread us down, there is to be a heap of witnesses, builded of the spilled blood of martyrs, and the raging heathen are to say, "Where is the God of them?"(3) Then "Thou wilt not march forth in our powers:" against them Thou wilt not show Thyself, Thou wilt not show Thy power, such as Thou hast shown in David, in Moses, in Joshua the son of Nun, when to their might the Gentiles yielded, and when the slaughter had been ended, and the great laying waste repaired, into the land which Thou promisedst Thou leddest in Thy people. This thing then Thou wilt not do, "Thou wilt not march forth in our powers," but within Thou wilt work. What is, "wilt not march forth"? Wilt not show Thyself. For indeed when in chains the Martyrs were being led along, when they were being shut up in prison, when they were being led forth to be mocked, when to the beasts they were exposed,(4) when they were being smitten with the sword, when with fire they were being burned, were they not despised as though forsaken, as though without helper? In what manner was God working within? in what manner within was He comforting? in what manner to these men was He making sweet the hope of life everlasting? in what manner was He not forsaking the hearts of them, where the man was dwelling(5) in silence, well if good, ill if evil? Was He then by any means forsaking, because He was not marching forth in the powers(6) of them? By not marching forth in the powers of them, did He not the more lead down the Church even unto Idumaea, lead down the Church even unto the city of standing around? For if the Church chose to war and to use the sword, She would seem to be fighting for life present: but because she was despising life present, therefore there was made a heap of witness for the life that shall be.
14. Thou therefore, O God, that wilt not march forth in our powers, "Give to us aid from tribulation, and vain is the safety of man" (ver. 11). Go now they that salt have not, and desire safety temporal for their friends, which is empty oldness. "Give to us aid:" from thence whence Thou wast supposed to forsake, thence succour. "In God we will do valour,(7) and Himself to nothing shall bring down our enemies" (ver. 12). We will not do valour with the sword, not with horses, not with breastplates, not with shields, not in the mightiness of an army, not abroad. But where? Within, where we are not seen. Where within? "In God we will do virtue:" and as if abjects, and as if trodden down, men as if of no consideration we shall be, but "Himself to nothing shall bring down our enemies." In a word, this thing hath been done to our enemies. Trodden down have been the Martyrs: by suffering, by enduring, by persevering even unto the end, in God they have done valour. Himself also hath done that which followeth: to nothing He hath brought down the enemies of them. Where are now the enemies of the Martyrs, except perchance that now drunken men with their cups do persecute those whom at that time frenzied men did use with stones to persecute?
1. The title of it doth not detain us. For it is "Unto the end, in hymns, to David himself. "In hymns," to wit in praises. "Unto the end," to wit unto Christ. ... But the voice in this Psalm (if we are among the members of Him, and in the Body, even as upon His exhortation we have the boldness to trust) we ought to acknowledge to be our own, not that of any foreigner. But I have not so called it our own, as if it were of those only that are now in presence; but our own, as being of us that are throughout the whole world, that are from the East even unto the West. And in order that ye may know it thus to be our voice, He speaketh here as if one Man: but He is not One Man; but even as One, the Unity is speaking. But in Christ we all are one man: because of this One Man the Head is in Heaven, and the members are yet toiling on earth: and because they are toiling see what He saith.(1)
2. "Hearken, O God, to my supplication, give heed to my prayer" (ver. 1). Who saith? He, as if One. See whether one: "From the ends of the earth to Thee I have cried, while my heart was being vexed" (ver. 2). Now therefore not one: but for this reason one, because Christ is One, of whom all we are the members. For what one man crieth from the ends of the earth? There crieth not from the ends of the earth any but that inheritance, of which hath been said to the Son Himself, "Demand of Me, and I will give to Thee the nations for Thine inheritance, and for Thy possession the boundaries of the earth."(2) This therefore Christ's possession, this Christ's inheritance, this Christ's Body, this Christ's one Church, this the Unity which we are, is crying from the ends of the earth. ... But wherefore have I cried this thing? "While my heart was being vexed." He showeth himself to be throughout all nations in the whole round world, in great glory, but in great tribulation. For our life in this sojourning cannot be without temptation: because our advance is made through our temptation, nor does a man become known to himself unless tempted, nor can he be crowned except he shall have conquered, nor can he conquer except he shall have striven, nor can he strive except he shall have experienced an enemy, and temptations. This Man therefore is being vexed, that from the ends of the earth is crying, but nevertheless He is not forsaken. For ourselves who are His Body He hath willed to prefigure also in that His Body wherein already He hath both died and hath risen again, and into Heaven hath ascended, in order that whither the Head hath gone before, thither the members may be assured that they shall follow. Therefore us He did transfer by a figure into Himself, when He willed to be tempted of Satan.
3. But now there was read in the Gospel, how the Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness was being tempted of the devil.(3) Christ entirely was tempted of the devil. For in Christ thou wast being tempted, because Christ of thee had for Himself flesh, of Himself for thee salvation; of thee for Himself death, of Himself for thee life; of thee for Himself revilings, of Himself for thee honours; therefore of thee for Himself temptation, of Himself for thee victory. If in Him tempted we have been, in Him we overcome the devil. ... "On the Rock Thou hast exalted me." Now therefore here we perceive who is crying from the ends of the earth. Let us call to mind the Gospel: "Upon this Rock I will build My Church."(4) Therefore She crieth from the ends of the earth, whom He hath willed to be builded upon a Rock. But in order that the Church might be builded upon the Rock, who was made the Rock? Hear Paul saying: "But the Rock was Christ."(5) On Him therefore builded we have been. For this reason that Rock whereon we have been builded,(6) first hath been smitten with winds, flood, rain, when Christ of the devil was being tempted. Behold on what firmness He hath willed to stablish thee. With reason our voice is not in vain, but is hearkened unto: for on great hope we have been set: "On the Rock Thou hast exalted me." ...
4. "Thou hast led me down, because Thou hast been made my hope: a tower of strength from the face of the enemy" (ver. 3). My heart is vexed, saith that Unity from the ends of the earth, and I toil amid temptations and offences: the heathen envy, because they have been conquered; the heretics lie in wait, hidden in the cloak of the Christian name: within in the Church itself the wheat suffereth violence from the chaff: amid all these things when my heart is vexed, I will cry from the ends of the earth. But there forsaketh me not the Same that hath exalted me upon the Rock, in order to lead me down even unto Himself, because even if I labour, while the devil through so many places and times and occasions lieth in wait against me, He is to me a tower of strength, to whom when I shall have fled for refuge, not only I shall escape the weapons of the enemy, but even against him securely I shall myself hurl whatever darts I shall please. For Christ Himself is the tower, Himself for us hath been made a tower from the face of the enemy, who is also the Rock whereon hath been builded the Church. Art thou taking heed that thou be not smitten of the devil? Flee to the Tower; never to that tower will the devil's darts follow thee: there thou wilt stand protected and fixed. But in what manner shalt thou flee to the Tower? Let not a man, set perchance in temptation, in body seek that Tower, and when he shall not have found it, be wearied, or faint in temptation. Before thee is the Tower: call to mind Christ, and go into the Tower.(7) ...
5. "A sojourner I will be in Thy tabernacle even unto ages" (ver. 4). Ye see how he, of whom we have spoken, is he that crieth. Which of us is a sojourner even unto ages? For a few days here we live, and we pass away: for sojourners here we are, inhabitants in Heaven we shall be. Thou art a sojourner in that place where thou art to hear the voice of the Lord thy God, "Remove." For from that Home everlasting in the Heavens no one will bid thee to remove. Here therefore a sojourner thou art. Whence also is said in another Psalm, "A sojourner I am with Thee and a stranger, as all my fathers were."(1) Here therefore sojourners we are; there the Lord shall give to us mansions everlasting: "Many are," He saith, "the mansions in My Father's house."(2) Those mansions not as though to sojourners He will give, but as though to citizens to abide for everlasting. Here however, brethren, because for no small time the Church was to be on this earth, but because here shall be the Church even unto the end of the world:(3) therefore here He hath said, "A dweller I will be in Thy tabernacle even unto ages."(4) ... Well, of a few days thou wouldest choose that the temptations should be: but how would She gather together all Her sons, unless for a long time She were to be here, unless even unto the end She were to be prolonged? Do not envy the rest of mankind that hereafter shall be: do not, because thou hast already passed over, wish to cut down the bridge of mercy:(5) be it here even for ever. And what of temptations, which needs must abound, by how much the more offences come? For Himself saith "Because iniquity hath abounded, the love of many shall wax cold."(6) But that Church, which crieth from the ends of the earth, is in these circumstances whereof he speaketh in continuation. "But he that shall have persevered even unto the end, the same shall be saved." But whence shalt thou persevere? ... "I shall be covered up in the veiling of Thy wings." Behold the reason why we are in safety amid so great temptations, until there come the end of the world, and ages everlasting receive us; namely, because we are covered up in the veiling of His Wings. There is heat in the world, but there is a great shade under the wings of God.
6. "For Thou, O God, hast hearkened to my prayer" (ver. 5). What prayer? That wherewith he beginneth: "Hearken, O God, to my supplication." ... "Thou hast given inheritance to men fearing Thy name." Let us continue therefore in the fear of God's name: the eternal Father deceiveth us not. Sons labour, that they may receive the inheritance of their parents, to whom when dead they are to succeed: are we not labouring to receive an inheritance from that Father, to whom not dying we succeed; but together with Him in the very inheritance for everlasting are to live?
7. "Days upon days of the King Thou shall add to the years of Him" (ver. 6). This is therefore the King of whom we are the members. A King Christ is, our Head, our King. Thou hast given to Him days upon days; not only those days in that time that hath end, but days upon those days without end. "I will dwell," he saith, "in the house of the Lord, for length of days,"(7) Wherefore for length of days, but because now is the shortness of days? For everything which hath an end, is short: but of this King are days upon days, so that not only while these days pass away, Christ reigneth in His Church, but the Saints shall reign together with Him in those days which have no end. ... For years of God have been also spoken of: "But Thou art the very Same, and Thy years shall not fail."(8) In the same manner as years, so days, so one day. Whatsoever thou wilt thou sayest of eternity. Whatever thou wilt thou sayest for this reason, because whatever thou shalt have said, it is too little that thou hast said. For thou must needs say somewhat, to the end that there may be something whereby thou mayest meditate on that which cannot be told. "Even unto the day of generation and of generation." Of this generation and of the generation that shall be: of this generation which is compared to the moon, because as the moon is new, waxeth, is full, waneth, and vanisheth, so are these mortal generations; and of the generation wherein we are born anew by rising again, and shall abide for everlasting with God, when now no longer we are like the moon, but like that of which saith the Lord, "Then the righteous shall shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father."(9) For the moon by a figure in the Scriptures is put for the mutability of this mortal state. ...
8. "He shall abide for everlasting in the sight of God" (ver. 7); according to what, or because of what? "His mercy and truth who shall seek for Him?" He saith also in another place, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth, to men seeking His testament and His testimonies."(10) Large is the discourse of truth and mercy, but shortness we have promised. Briefly hear ye what is truth and mercy: because no small thing is that which hath been said, "All the ways of the Lord are mercy and truth." Mercy is spoken of, because our merits God regarded not, but His own goodness, in order that He might forgive us all our sins, and might promise life everlasting: but truth is spoken of, because He faileth not to render those things which He hath promised. Let us acknowledge it here, and let us do it; so that, just as to us God hath shown forth His mercy and His truth, mercy in forgiving our sins, truth in showing forth His promises; so also, I say, let us execute mercy and truth, mercy concerning the weak, concerning the needy, concerning even our enemies; truth in not sinning, and in not adding sin upon sin. ...Who is therefore he that doeth this, save one out of those few, of whom is said, "He that shall have continued unto the end, the same shall be saved"? With reason here also "His mercy and truth who shall seek for Him?" Why is there" for Him"? "Who shall seek," would be sufficient. Why hath he added, "for Him," but because many men seek to learn His mercy and truth in His books? And when they have learned, for themselves they live, not for Him;(1) their own things they seek, not the things which are of Jesus Christ:(2) they preach mercy and truth, and do not mercy and truth. But by preaching it, they know it: for they would not preach it, unless they knew it. But he that loveth God and Christ, in preaching the mercy and truth of the Same, doth himself seek her for Him, not for himself: that is, not in order that himself may have by this preaching temporal advantages, but in order that he may do good to His members, that is, His faithful ones, by ministering with truth of that which he knoweth: in order that he that liveth, no longer for himself may live, but for Him that for all men hath died.(1)
9. "So I will play music to Thy name, that I may render my vows from day unto day" (ver. 8). If thou playest music to the name of God, play not for a time. Wilt thou for ever play? wilt thou for everlasting play? Render to Him thy vows from day unto day. What is, render to Him thy vows from day unto day? From this day unto that day. Continue to render vows in this day, until thou come to that day: that is," He that shall have continued even unto the end, the same shall be saved."(3)
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