Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 62 - 65
1. The title of it is, "Unto the end, in behalf of Idithun, a Psalm to David himself." I recollect that already s to you hath been explained what Idithun is. ... Let us see how far he hath leaped over, and whom he hath "leaped over," and in what place, though he hath leaped over certain men, he is situate, whence as from a kind of spiritual and secure position he may behold what is below. ... He being set, I say, in a certain fortified place, doth say, "Shall not my soul be subject to God?" (ver. 1). For he had heard, "He that doth exalt himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted:"(6) and fearful lest by leaping over he should be proud, not elated by those things which were below, but humble because of Him that was above; to envious men, as it were threatening to him a fall, who were grieved that he had leaped over, he hath made answer, "Shall not my soul be subject to God?" ... "For from Himself is my salvation." "For Himself is my God and thy salvation, my taker up, I shall not be moved more" (ver. 2). I know who is above me, I know who stretcheth forth His mercy to men that know Him, I know under the coverings of whose wings I should hope: "I shall not be moved more." ...
2. Therefore, down from the higher place fortified and protected, he, to whom the Lord hath been made a refuge, he, to whom is God Himself for a fortified place,(7) hath regard to those whom he hath leaped over, and looking down upon them speaketh as though from a lofty tower: for this also hath been said of Him, "A Tower of strength from the face of the enemy:"(8) he giveth heed therefore to them, and saith," How long do ye lay upon a man?" (ver. 3). By insulting, by hurling reproaches, by laying wait, by persecuting, ye lay upon a man burthens, ye lay upon a man as much as a man can(9) bear: but in order that a man may bear, under him is He that hath made man. If to a man ye look, "slay ye, all of you." Behold, lay upon, rage, "slay ye, all of you." "As though a wall bowed down, and as a fence smitten against;" lean against, smite against, as if going to throw down. And where is, "I shall not be moved more"? But wherefore? "I shall not be moved more." Because Himself is God my Saving One, my taker up, therefore ye men are able to lay burdens upon a man; can ye anywise lay upon God, who protecteth man? "Slay ye, all of you." What is that size of body in one man so great as that he may be slain by all? But we ought to perceive our person, the person of the Church, the person of the Body of Christ. For one Man with His Head and Body is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the Body and the Members of the Body: two in one Flesh,(10) and in one voice, and in one passion, and, when iniquity shall have passed over, in one rest. The sufferings therefore of Christ are not in Christ alone; nay, there are not any save in Christ. For if Christ thou understandest to be Head and Body, the sufferings of Christ are not, save in Christ: but if Christ thou understand of Head alone, the sufferings of Christ are not in Christ alone. For if the sufferings of Christ are in Christ alone, to wit in the Head alone; whence saith a certain member of Him, Paul the Apostle, "In order that I may supply what are wanting of the oppressions of Christ in my flesh"?(11) If therefore in the members of Christ thou art, whatsoever man thou art that art hearing these words, whosoever thou art that dost hear these words (but however, thou dost hear, if in the members of Christ thou art): whatsoever thing thou sufferest from those that are not in the members of Christ, was wanting to the sufferings of Christ. Therefore it is added because it was wanting; thou fillest up the measure, thou causest it not to run over: thou sufferest so much as was to be contributed out of thy sufferings to the whole suffering of Christ, that hath suffered in our Head, and doth suffer in His members, that is, in our own selves. Unto this our common republic, as it were each of us according to our measure payeth that which we owe, and according to the powers which we have, as it were a quota(1) of sufferings we contribute. The storehouse(2) of all men's sufferings will not be completely made up, save when the world shall have been ended. ... That whole City therefore is speaking, from the blood of righteous Abel even to the blood of Zacharias.(3) Thence also hereafter from the blood of John, through the blood of the Apostles, through the blood of Martyrs, through the blood of the faithful ones of Christ, one City speaketh, one man saith, "How long do ye lay upon a man? Slay ye, all of you." Let us see if ye efface, let us see if ye extinguish, let us see if ye remove from the earth the name thereof, let us see if ye peoples do not meditate of empty things,(4) saying, "When shall She die, and when shall perish the name of Her?"(5) "As though She were a wall bowed down, and a fence smitten against,"(6) lean ye against Her, smite against Her. Hear from above:(7) "My taker up, I shall not be moved more:" for as though a heap of sand I have been smitten against that I might fall, and the Lord hath taken me up.
3. "Nevertheless, mine honour they have thought to drive back" (ver. 4). Conquered while they slay men yielding, by the blood of the slain multiplying the faithful, yielding to these and no longer being able to kill; "Nevertheless, mine honour they have thought to drive back." Now because a Christian cannot be killed, pains are taken that a Christian should be dishonoured. For now by the honour of Christians the hearts of ungodly men are tortured: now that spiritual Joseph, after his selling by his brethren, after his removal from his home into Egypt as though into the Gentiles, after the humiliation of a prison,(8) after the made-up tale of a false witness, after that there had come to pass that which of him was said, "Iron passed through the soul of him:"(9) now he is honoured, now he is not made subject to brethren selling him, but corn he supplieth to them hungering.(10) Conquered by his humility and chastity, uncorruptness, temptations, sufferings, now honoured they see him, and his honour they think to check. ... Is it all against one man, or one man against all; or all against all, or one against one? Meanwhile, when he saith, "ye lay upon a man," it is as it were upon one man: and when he saith, "Slay all ye," it is as if all men were against one man: but nevertheless it is also all against all, because also all are Christians, but in One. But why must those divers errors hostile to Christ be spoken of as all together? Are they also one? Truly them also as one I dare to speak of: because there is one City and one city, one People and one people, King and king. One City and one city is what? Babylon one, Jerusalem one. By whatsoever other mystical names besides She is called, yet One City there is and one city; over this the devil is king, over that Christ is King. ...
4. Give heed, brethren, give heed, I entreat you. For it delighteth me yet to speak a few words to you of this beloved City. For "most glorious things of Thee have been spoken, City of God."(11) And, "if I forget Thee, O Jerusalem, let mine own right hand forget me."(12) For dear is the one Country, and truly but one Country, the only Country: besides Her whatsoever we have, is a sojourning in a strange land. I will say therefore that which ye may acknowledge, that of which ye may approve: I will call to your minds that which ye know, I will not teach that which ye know not. "Not first," saith the Apostle, "that which is spiritual, but that which is natural,(13) afterwards that which is spiritual."(14) Therefore the former city is greater by age, because first was born Cain, and afterwards Abel:(15) but in these the elder shall serve the younger.(16) The former greater by age, the latter greater in dignity. Wherefore is the former greater by age? Because "not first that which is spiritual, but that which is natural."(14) Wherefore is the latter greater in dignity? Because "the eider shall serve the younger."(16) ... Cain first builded a city, and in that place he builded where no city was. But when Jerusalem was being builded, it was not builded in a place where there was not a city, but there was a city at first which was called Jebus, whence the Jebusites. This having been captured, overcome, made subject, there was builded a new city, as though the old were thrown down; and it was called Jerusalem,(17) vision of peace, City of God. Each one therefore that is born of Adam, not yet doth belong to Jerusalem: for he beareth with him the offshoot(1) of iniquity, and the punishment of sin, having been consigned to death, and he belongeth in a manner to a sort of old city. But if he is to be in the people of God; his old self will be thrown down, and he will be builded up new. For this reason therefore Cain builded a city where there was not a city. For from mortality and from naughtiness every one setteth out, in order that he may be made good hereafter. "For as by the disobedience of one man many were made sinners, so by the obedience of One Man many shall be made just."(2) And all we in Adam do die:(3) and each one of us of Adam was born. Let him pass over to Jerusalem, he shall be thrown down old, and shall be builded new. As though to conquered Jebusites, in order that there may be builded up Jerusalem, is said, "Put ye off the old man, and put on the new."(4) And now to them builded in Jerusalem, and shining by the light of Grace, is said, "Ye have been sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord."(5) The evil city therefore from the beginning even unto the end doth run on, and the good City by the changing of evil men is builded up. And these two cities are meanwhile mingled, at the end to be severed; against each other mutually in conflict, the one for iniquity, the other for the truth. And sometimes this very temporal mingling bringeth it to pass that certain men belonging to the city Babylon, do order matters belonging to Jerusalem, and again certain men belonging to Jerusalem, do order matters belonging to Babylon. Something difficult I seem to have propounded. Be ye patient, until it be proved by examples. "For all things" in the old people, as writeth the Apostle, "in a figure used to befall them: but they have been written for our amendment, upon whom the end of the world hath come."(6) Regard therefore that people as also set to intimate an after people; and see then what I say. There were great(7) kings in Jerusalem: it is a known fact, they are enumerated, are named. They all were, I say, wicked citizens of Babylon, and they were ordering matters of Jerusalem: all men from thence to be dissevered at the end, to no one but to the devil do belong. Again we find citizens of Jerusalem to have ordered certain matters belonging to Babylon. For those three children, Nabuchodonosor, overcome by a miracle, made the ministers of his kingdom, and set them over his Satraps; and so there were ordering the matters of Babylon citizens of Jerusalem.(8) Observe now how this is being fulfilled and done in the Church, and in these times. ... Every earthly commonwealth, sometime assuredly to perish, whereof the kingdom is to pass away, when there shall come that kingdom, whereof we pray, "Thy kingdom come;"(9) and whereof hath been foretold, "And of His kingdom shall be no end:"(10) an earthly commonwealth, I say, hath our citizens conducting the affairs of it. For how many faithful, how many good men, are both magistrates in their cities, and are judges, and are generals, and are counts, and are kings? All that are just and good men, having not anything in heart but the most glorious things, which of Thee have been said, City of God.(11) And as if they were doing bond-service(12) in the city which is to pass away, even there by the doctors of the Holy City they are bidden to keep faith with those set over them, "whether with the king as supreme, or with governors as though sent by God for the punishment of evil men, but for the praise of good men:(13)" or as servants, that to their masters they should be subject,(14) even Christians to Heathens, and the better should keep faith with the worse, for a time to serve, for everlasting to have dominion. For these things do happen until iniquity do pass away.(15) Servants are commanded to bear with masters unjust and capricious: the citizens of Babylon are commanded to be endured by the citizens of Jerusalem, showing even more attentions, than if they were citizens of the same Babylon, as though fulfilling the precept, "He that shall have exacted of thee a mile, go with him other twain."(16)...
5. "I have run in thirst."(17) For they were rendering evil things for good things:(18) for them was I thirsting: mine honour they thought to drive back: I was thirsting to bring them over into my body. For in drinking what do we, but send into our members liquor that is without, and suck it into our body? Thus did Moses in that head of the calf.(19) The head of the calf is a great sacrament.(20) For the head of the calf was the body of ungodly men, in the similitude of a calf eating hay,(21) seeking earthly things: because all flesh is hay.(22) ... And what now is more evident, than that into that City Jerusalem, of which the people Israel was a type, by Baptism men were to be made to pass over? Therefore in water it was scattered, in order that for drink it might be given. For this even unto the end this man thirsteth; he runneth and thirsteth. For many men He drinketh, but never will He be without thirst. For thence is, "I thirst, woman, give Me to drink."(23) That Samaritan woman at the well found the Lord thirsting, and by Him thirsting she was filled: she first found Him thirsting, in order that He might drink her believing. And when He was on the Cross, "I thirst,"(1) He said, although they gave not to Him that for which He was thirsting. For for themselves He was thirsting: but they gave vinegar, not new wine, wherewith are filled up the new bottles, but old wine, but old to its loss.(2) For old vinegar also is said of the old men, of whom hath been said, "For to them is no changing;"(3) namely, that the Jebusites should be overthrown, and Jerusalem be builded.(4)
6. So also the Head of this body even unto the end from the beginning runneth in thirst. And as if to Him were being said, Why in thirst? what is wanting to Thee, O Body of Christ, O Church of Christ? in so great honour, in so great exaltation, in so great height also even in this world established, what is wanting to Thee? There is fulfilled that which hath been foretold of thee, "There shall adore Him all kings of the earth, all nations shall serve Him."(5) ... They that at Jerusalem's festivals fill up the Churches, at Babylon's festivals fill up the theatres: and for all they serve, honour, obey Her--not only those very persons that bear the Sacraments of Christ, and hate the commandments of Christ, but also they, that bear not even the mere Sacraments, Heathen though they be, Jews though they be,--they honour, praise, proclaim, "but with their mouths they were blessing." I heed not the mouth, He knoweth that hath instructed me, "with their heart they were cursing." In that place they were cursing, where "mine honour they thought to drive back."
7. What dost Thou, O Idithun, Body of Christ, leaping over them? What dost Thou amid all these things? What wilt Thou? wilt faint? wilt Thou not persevere even unto the end? wilt Thou not hearken, "He that shall have persevered even unto the end, the same shall be saved,"(6) though for that iniquity aboundeth, the love of many shall wax cold?(7) And where is it that Thou hast leaped over them? where is it that Thy conversation is in Heaven?(8) But they cleave unto earthly things, as though earthborn they mind the earth, and are earth, the serpent's food.(9) What dost thou amid these things? ... "Nevertheless, to God my soul shall be made subject" (ver. 5). And who would endure so great things, either open wars, or secret lyings-in-wait? Who would endure so great things amid open enemies, amid false brethren? Who would endure so great things? Would a man? and if a man would, would a man of himself? I have not so leaped over that I should be lifted up, and fall: "To God my soul shall be made subject: for from Himself is my patience." What patience is there amid so great scandals, except that "if for that which we do not see we hope, through patience we look for it"?(10) There cometh my pain, there will come my rest also; there cometh my tribulation, there will come my cleansing also. For doth gold glitter in the furnace of the refiner? In a necklace it will glitter, in an ornament it will glitter: let it suffer however the furnace, in order that being cleansed from dross it may come into light. This is the furnace, there is there chaff, there gold, there fire, into this bloweth the refiner: in the furnace burneth the chaff, and the gold is cleansed; the one into ashes is turned, of dross the other is cleansed. The furnace is the world, the chaff unrighteous men, the gold just men; the fire tribulation, the refiner God: that which therefore the refiner willeth I do; wherever the Maker setteth me I endure it. I am commanded to endure, He knoweth how to cleanse. Though there burn the chaff to set me on fire, and as if to consume me; that into ashes is burned, I of dross am cleansed. Wherefore? Because "to God my soul shall be made subject: for from Himself is my patience."
8. "For Himself is my God and My Saving One, my Taker up, I will not remove hence" (ver. 6). Because "Himself is my God," therefore He calleth me: "and my Saving One," therefore He justifieth me: "and my Taker up," therefore He glorifieth me. For here I am called and am justified, but there I am glorified; and from thence where I am glorified, "I will not remove." For a sojourner I am with Thee on earth as all my fathers were. Therefore from my lodging I shall remove, from my Heavenly home I shall not remove. "In God is my salvation and my glory" (ver. 7). Saved I shall be in God, glorious I shall be in God: for not only saved, but also glorious, saved, because a just man I have been made out of an ungodly man, by Him justified;(11) but glorious, because not only justified, but also honoured. For "those whom He hath predestined, those also He hath called."(12) Calling them, what hath He done here? "Whom He hath called, the same also He hath justified; but whom He hath justified, the same also He hath glorified." Justification therefore to salvation belongeth, glorifying to honour. How glorifying to honour belongeth, it is not needful to discuss. How justification belongeth to salvation, let us seek some proof. Behold there cometh to mind out of the Gospel: there were some who to themselves were seeming to be just men, and they were finding fault: with the Lord because He admitted to the feast sinners, and with publicans and sinners was eating; to such men therefore priding themselves, strong men of earth very much lifted up, much glorying of their own soundness, such as they counted it, not such as they had, the Lord answered what? "They that are whole need not a Physician, but they that are sick."(1) Whom calleth He whole, whom calleth He sick? He continueth and saith, "I have not come to call just men, but sinners unto repentance."(2) He hath called therefore "the whole" just men, not because the Pharisees were so, but because themselves they thought so to be; and for this reason were proud, and grudged sick men a physician, and being more sick than those, they slew the Physician. He hath called whole, however, righteous men, sick, the sinners. My being justified therefore, saith that man that leapeth over, from Himself I have: my being glorified, from Himself I have: "For God is my salvation and my glory." "My salvation," so that saved I am: "my glory," so that honoured I am. This thing hereafter: now what? "God of my help, and my hope is in God;" until I attain unto perfect justification and salvation. "For by hope we are saved: but hope which is seen, is not hope."(3) ...
9. "Hope ye in Him all the council of the people" (ver. 8). Imitate ye Idithun, leap over your enemies; men fighting against you, stopping up your way, men hating you, leap ye over: "Hope in Him all the council of the people: pour out before Him your hearts:" ... By imploring, by confessing, by hoping. Do not keep back your hearts within your hearts: "Pour out before Him your hearts." That perisheth not which ye pour out. For He is my Taker up. If He taketh up, why fearest thou to pour out? "Cast upon the Lord thy care, and hope in Him."(4) What fear ye amid whisperers, slanderers hateful to God,(5) where they are able openly assailing, where they are unable secretly lying in wait, falsely praising, truly at enmity, amid them what fear ye? "God is our Helper." Do they anywise equal God? Are they anywise stronger than He? "God is our Helper," be ye without care. "If God is for us, who is against us?"(6) "Pour out before Him your hearts," by leaping over unto Him, by lifting up your souls: "God is our helper." ... "Nevertheless, vain are the sons of men, and liars are the sons of men in the balances, in order that they may deceive, being at one because of vanity" (ver. 9). Certainly many men there are: behold there is that one man, that one man that was cast forth from the multitude of guests.(7) They conspire, they all seek things temporal, and they that are carnal things carnal, and for the future they hope them, whosoever do hope: even if because of variety of opinions they are in division, nevertheless because of vanity they are at one. Divers indeed are errors and of many forms, and the kingdom against itself divided shall not stand:(8) but alike in all is the will vain and lying, belonging to one king, with whom into fire everlasting it is to be thrown headlong(9)--"these men because of vanity are at one." And for them see how the thirsteth, see how He runneth in thirst.
10. He turneth therefore Himself to them, thirsting for them: "Do not hope in iniquity" (vet. 10). For my hope is in God. Ye that will not draw near and pass over, "do not hope in iniquity." For I that have leapt over, my hope is in God; and is there anywise iniquity with God?(10) This thing let us do, that thing let us do, of that thing let us think, thus let us adjust our lyings in wait; "Because of vanity being at one." Thou thirstest: they that think of those things against thee are given up by those whom thou drinkest, "Do not hope in vanity." Vain is iniquity, nought is iniquity, mighty is nothing save righteousness. Truth may be hidden for a time, conquered it cannot be. Iniquity may flourish for a time, abide it cannot. "Do not hope upon iniquity: and for robbery be not covetous." Thou art not rich, and wilt thou rob? What findest thou? What losest thou? O losing gains! Thou findest money, thou losest righteousness. "For robbery be not covetous." ... Therefore, vain sons of men, lying sons of men, neither rob, nor, if there flow riches, set heart upon them: no longer love vanity, and seek lying. For "blessed is the man who hath the Lord God for his hope, and who hath not had regard unto vanities, and lying follies."(11) Ye would deceive, ye would commit a fraud, what bring ye in order that ye may cheat. Deceitful balances. For "lying," he saith, "are the sons of men in the balances," in order that they may cheat by bringing forth deceitful balances. By a false balance ye beguile men looking on: know ye not that one is he that weigheth, Another He that judgeth of the weight? He seeth not, for whom thou weighest, but He seeth that weigheth thee and him. Therefore neither fraud nor robbery covet ye any longer, nor on those things which ye have set your hope:(12) I have admonished, have foretold, saith this Idithun.
11. What followeth? "Once hath God spoken, these two things I have heard, that power is of God (ver. 11), and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy, for Thou shall render to each one after his works" (ver. 12). ..."Once hath God spoken." What sayest thou, Idithun? If thou that hadst leapt over them art saying, "Once He hath spoken;" I turn to another Scripture and it saith to me, "In many quarters and in many ways formerly God hath spoken to the fathers in the prophets."(1) What is, "Once hath God spoken"? Is He not the God that in the beginning of mankind spake to Adam?(2) Did not the Selfsame speak to Cain, to Noe, to Abraham, to Isaac, to Jacob, to all the Prophets, and to Moses?(3) One man Moses was, and how often to him spake God? Behold even to one man, not once but ofttimes God hath spoken. Secondly, He hath spoken to the Son when standing here, "Thou art My beloved Son."(4) God hath spoken to the Apostles, He hath spoken to all the Saints, even though not with voice sounding through the cloud, nevertheless in the heart where He is Himself Teacher.(5) What is therefore, "Once hath God spoken"? Much hath that man leapt over in order to arrive at that place, where once God hath spoken. Behold briefly I have spoken to your Love. Here among men, to men ofttimes, in many ways, in many quarters, through creatures of many forms God hath spoken: by Himself once God hath spoken, because One Word God hath begotten. ... For it could not be but that God did Himself know that which by the Word He made:(6) but if that which He made He knew, in Him there was that which was made before it was made For if in Him was not that which was made before it was made, how knew He that which He made? For thou canst not say that God made things He knew not. God therefore hath known that which He hath made. And how knew He before He made, if there cannot be known any but things made? But by things made there cannot be known any but things previously made, by thee, to wit, who art a man made in a lower place, and set in a lower place: but before that all these things were made, they were known by Him by whom they were made, and that which He knew He made. Therefore in that Word by which He made all things, before that they were made, were all things; and after they have been made there are all things; but in one way here, in another there, in one way in their own nature wherein they have been made, in another in the art by which they have been made. Who could explain this? We may endeavour: go ye with Idithun, and see.
12. ... For even the Lord saith, "Many things I have to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now."(7) What is therefore, "These two things I, have heard"? These two things which to you I am about to say not of myself to you I say, but what things I have heard I say. "Once hath God spoken:" One Word hath He, the Only-begotten God. Ill that Word are all things, because by the Word were made all things. One Word hath He, "in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden."(8) One Word He hath, "once hath God spoken." "These two things," which to you I am about to say, these I have heard: not of myself I speak, not of myself I say: to this belongeth the "I have heard."(9) But the friend of the Bridegroom standeth and heareth Him, that he may speak the truth. For he heareth Him, lest by speaking a lie, of his own he should speak:(10) lest thou shouldest say, Who art thou that sayest this thing to me? whence dost thou say this to me? I have heard these two things, and I that speak to thee that I have heard these two things, am one who also doth know that once God hath spoken. Do not despise a hearer saying to thee certain two things for thee so necessary; him, I say, that by leaping over the whole creation hath attained unto the Only-begotten Word of God, where he hath learned that "once God hath spoken."
13. Let him therefore now say certain two things. For greatly to us belong these two things. "For power is of God, and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy." Are these the two things, power and mercy? These two evidently: perceive ye the power of God, perceive ye the mercy of God. In these two things are contained nearly all the Scriptures. Because of these two things are the Prophets, because of these two, the Patriarchs, because of these the Law, because of these Himself our Lord Jesus Christ, because of these the Apostles, because of these all the preaching and spreading of the word of God in the Church, because of these two, because of the power of God, and His mercy. His power fear ye, His mercy love ye. Neither so on His mercy rely, as that His power ye despise: nor so the power fear ye, as that of mercy ye despair. With Him is power, with Him mercy. This man He humbleth, and that man He exalteth:" this man He humbleth with power, that man He exalteth in mercy. "For if God, willing to show wrath and to prove His power, hath in much patience borne with the vessels of wrath, which have been perfected unto perdition(12)"--thou hast heard of power: inquire for mercy--"and that He might make known," He saith, "His riches unto the vessels of mercy." It belongeth therefore to His power to condemn unjust men. And to Him who would say, What hast thou done? "For thou, O man, who art thou that should make answer to God?"(13) Fear therefore and tremble at His power: but hope for His mercy. The devil is a sort of power; ofttimes however he wisheth to hurt, and is not able, because that power is under power. For if the devil could hurt as much as he would; no one of just men would remain, nor could any one of the faithful be on earth. The same through his vessels smiteth against, as it were, a wall bowed down: but he only smiteth against, so far as he receiveth power. But in order that the wall may not fall, the Lord will support: for He that giveth power to the tempter, doth Himself to the tempted extend mercy. For according to measure the devil is permitted to tempt. And, "Thou wilt give us to drink in tears in a measure." Do not therefore fear the tempter permitted to do somewhat: for thou hast a most merciful Saviour. So much he is permitted to tempt as is profitable for thee, that thou mayest be exercised, mayest be proved; in order that by thyself thou mayest be found out, that knowest not thyself. For where, or from whence, ought we to be secure, except by this power and mercy of God? After that Apostolic saying, "Faithful is God, that doth not suffer you to be tempted above that which ye are able." ... Fear not the enemy: so much he doeth as he hath received power to do, Him fear thou that hath the chief power: Him fear, that doeth as much as He willeth, and that doeth nothing unjustly, and whatever He shall have done, is just. We might suppose something or other to be unjust: inasmuch as God hath done it, believe it to be just.
14. Therefore, thou sayest, if any one slay an innocent man, doeth he justly or unjustly? Unjustly certainly. Wherefore doth God permit this? ... The counsel of God to tell to thee, O man, I am not able: this thing however I say, both that the man hath done unjustly that hath slain an innocent person, and that it would not have been done unless God permitted it: and though the man hath done unjustly, yet God hath not unjustly permitted this. Let the reason lie concealed in that person whoever it be, for whose sake thou art moved, whose innocence doth much move thee. For to thee speedily I might make answer. He would not have been slain unless he were guilty: but thou thinkest him innocent. I might speedily say this to thee. For thou couldest not examine his heart, sift his deeds, weigh his thoughts, so that thou couldest say to me, unjustly he was slain. I might easily therefore make answer: but there is forced upon my view a certain Just One, without dispute just, without doubt just, who had no sin, slain by sinners, betrayed by a sinner; Himself Christ the Lord, of whom we cannot say that He hath any iniquity, for "those things which He robbed not He paid," is made an objection to my answer. And why should I speak of Christ? "With thee I am dealing," thou sayest. And I with thee. About Him thou proposest a question, about Him I am solving the question. For therein the counsel of God we know, which except by His own revealing we should not know: so that when thou shall have found out that counsel of God, whereby He hath permitted His innocent Son to be slain by unjust men, and such a counsel as pleaseth thee, and such a counsel as cannot displease thee, if thou art just, thou mayest believe that in other things also by His counsel God doeth the same, but it escaped thee. Ah! brethren, need there was of the blood of a just one to blot out the handwriting of sins; need there was of an example of patience, of an example of humility; need there was of the Sign of the Cross to beat down the devil and his angels; need for us there was of the Passion of our Lord; for by the Passion of the Lord redeemed hath been the world. How many good things hath the Passion of the Lord done! And yet the Passion of this Just One would not have been, unless unrighteous men had slain the Lord. What then? is this good thing which to us hath been granted by the Lord's Passion to be ascribed to the unjust slayers of Christ? Far be it. They willed, God permitted. They guilty would have been, even if only they had willed it: but God would not have permitted it, unless just it had been. ... Accordingly, my brethren, both Judas the foul traitor to Christ, and the persecutors of Christ, malignant all, ungodly all, unjust all, are to be condemned all: and nevertheless the Father His own proper Son hath not spared, but for the sake of us all He hath delivered Him up. Order if thou art able; distinguish if thou art able (these things): render to God thy vows, which thy lips have uttered: see what the unjust hath here done, what the Just One. The one hath willed, the Other hath permitted: the one unjustly hath willed, the Other justly hath permitted. Let unjust will be condemned, just permission be glorified. For what evil thing hath befallen Christ, in that Christ hath died? Both evil were they that evil willed to do, and yet nothing of evil did He suffer on whom they did it. Slain was mortal flesh, slaying death by death, giving a lesson of patience, sending before an example of Resurrection. How great good things of the Just One were wrought by the evil things of the unjust! This is the great mystery s of God: that even a good thing which thou doest He hath Himself given it to thee, and by thy evil He doeth good Himself. Do not therefore wonder, God permitteth, and in judgment permitteth: He permitteth, and in measure, number, weight, He permitteth. With Him is not iniquity: do thou only belong to Him; on Himself thy hope set thou, let Himself be thy Helper, thy Salvation: in Him be there the fortified place, the tower of strength, thy refuge let Himself be, and He will not suffer thee to be tempted above that which thou art able to bear, but will make with the temptation also an escape, that thou mayest be able to support it: so that His suffering thee to bear temptation, be His power; His suffering not any more on thee to be done than thou art able to bear, be His mercy: "for power is of God, and to Thee, O Lord, is mercy, because Thou wilt render to each one after his works."
15. That thirst of the Church, would fain drink up that man also whom ye see. At the same time also, in order that ye may know how many in the mixed multitude of Christians with their mouth do bless, and in their heart curse, this man having been a Christian and a believer returneth as a penitent, and being terrified by the power of the Lord, turneth him to the mercy of the Lord. For having been led astray by the enemy when he was a believer, long time he hath been an astrologer, led astray, leading astray, deceived, deceiving, he hath allured, hath beguiled, many lies he hath spoken against God, That hath given to men power of doing that which is good, and of not doing that which is evil. He used to say, that one's own will did not adultery, but Venus; one's own will did not manslaying, but Mars; and God did not what is just, but Jupiter; and many other blasphemous things, and not light ones. From how many Christians do ye think he hath pocketed money ? How many from him have bought a lie, to whom we used to say, "Sons of men, how long are ye dull of heart, wherefore love ye vanity, and seek a lie" ? Now, as of him must be believed, he hath shuddered at his lie, and being the allurer of many men, he hath perceived at length that by the devil he hath himself been allured, and he turneth to God a penitent. We think, brethren, that because of great fear of heart it hath come to pass. For what must we say? If out of a heathen an astrologer were converted, great indeed would be the joy: but nevertheless it might appear, that, if he had been converted, he was desiring the clerical office in the Church. A penitent he is, he seeketh not anything save mercy alone. He must be recommended therefore both to your eyes and hearts. Him whom ye see in hearts love ye, with eyes guard ye. See ye him, mark ye him, and whithersoever he shall have gone his way, to the rest of the brethren that now are not here, point him out: and such diligence is mercy; lest that leader astray drag back his heart and take it by storm. Guard ye him, let there not escape you his conversation, his way: in order that by your testimony it may be proved to us that truly to the Lord he hath been turned. For report will not be silent about his life, when to you he is thus presented both to be seen and to be pitied. Ye know in the Acts of the Apostles how it is written, that many lost men, that is, men of such arts, and followers of naughty doctrines, brought unto the Apostles all their books; and there were burned so many volumes, that it was the writer's task to make a valuation of them, and write down the sum of the price. This truly was for the glory of God, in order that even such lost men might not be despaired of by Him that knew how to seek that which had been lost. Therefore this man had been lost, is now sought, found, led hither, he bringeth with him books to be burned, by which he had been to be burned, so that when these have been thrown into the fire, he may himself pass over into a place of refreshment. Know ye that he, brethren, once knocked at the Church door before Easter: for before Easter he began to ask of the Church Christ's medicine. But because the art wherein he had been practised is of such sort as that it was suspected of lying and deceit, he was put off that he might not tempt; at length however he was admitted, that he might not more dangerously be tempted. Pray for him through Christ. Straightway to-day's prayer pour out for him to the Lord our God. For we know and are sure, that your prayer effaceth all his impieties. The Lord be with you.
1. This psalm hath the title, "For David himself, when he was in the desert of Idumaea." By the name of Idumaea is understood this world. For Idumaea was a certain nation of men going astray, where idols were worshipped. In no good sense is put this Idumaea. If not in a good sense it is put, it must be understood that this life, wherein we suffer so great toils, and wherein to so great necessities we are made subject, by the name of Idumaea is signified. Even here is a desert where there is much thirst, and ye are to hear the voice of One now thirsting in the desert. But if we acknowledge ourselves as thirsting, we shall acknowledge ourselves as drinking also. For he that thirsteth in this world, in the world to come shall be satisfied, according to the Lord's saying, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for the same shall be satisfied." Therefore in this world we ought not to love fulness. Here we must thirst, in another place we shall be filled. But now in order that we may not faint in this desert, He sprinkleth upon us the dew of His word, and leaveth us not utterly to dry up, so that there should not be in our case any seeking of us again, but that we may so thirst as that we may drink. But in order that we may drink, with somewhat of His Grace we are sprinkled: nevertheless we thirst. And what saith our soul to God?
2. "God, my God, unto Thee from the light I watch" (ver. 1). What is to watch? It is, not to sleep. What is to sleep? There is a sleep of the soul; there is a sleep of the body. Sleep of body we all ought to have: because if sleep of body is not taken, a man fainteth, the body itself fainteth. For our frail body cannot long sustain a soul watching and on the stretch on active works; if for a long time the soul shall have been intent on active pursuits, the body being frail and earthly holdeth her not, sustaineth her not for ever in activity, and fainteth and falleth. Therefore God hath granted sleep to the body, whereby are recruited the members of the body, in order that they may be able to sustain the soul watching. But of this let us take heed, namely, that our soul herself sleep not: for evil is the sleep of the soul. Good is the sleep of the body, whereby is recruited the health of the body. But the sleep of the soul is to forget her God. Whatsoever soul shall have forgotten her God, sleepeth. Therefore the Apostle saith to certain persons that forgot their God, and being as it were in sleep, did act the follies of the worship of idols--the Apostle, I say, saith to certain persons, "Rise, thou that sleepest, and rise up from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten thee." Was the Apostle waking up one sleeping in body? Nay, but he was waking a soul sleeping, inasmuch as he was waking her, in order that she might be lightened by Christ. Therefore as to these same watchings saith this man, "God, my God, unto Thee from the light I watch." For thou wouldest not watch of thyself, unless there should arise thy Light, to wake thee from sleep. For Christ lighteneth souls, and maketh them to watch: but if His light He taketh away, they slumber. For for this cause to Him there is said in another psalm, "Lighten mine eyes, that I may never slumber in death."(3) ...
3. "My soul hath thirsted for Thee" (ver. 2). Behold that desert of Idumaea. See how here he thirsteth: but see what good thing is here, "Hath thirsted for Thee." For there are they that thirst, but not for God. For every one that willeth anything to be granted to him, is in the heat of longing; the longing itself is the thirst of the soul. And see ye what longings there are in the hearts of men: one longeth for gold, another longeth for silver, another longeth for possessions, another inheritance, another abundance of money, another many herds, another a wife, another honours, another sons. Ye see those longings, how they are in the hearts of men. All men are inflamed with longing, and scarce is found one to say, "My soul hath thirsted for Thee." For men thirst for the world: and perceive not themselves to be in the desert of Idumaea, where their souls ought to thirst for God. ...
4. Wisdom therefore must be thirsted after, righteousness must be thirsted after. With it we shall not be satisfied, with it we shall not be filled, save when this life shall have been ended, and we shall have come to that which God hath promised. For God hath promised equality with Angels: and now the Angels thirst not as we do, they hunger not as we do; but they have the fulness of truth, of light, of immortal wisdom. Therefore blessed they are, and out of so great blessedness, because they are in that City, the Heavenly Jerusalem, afar from whence we now are sojourning in a strange land, they observe us sojourners, and they pity us, and by the command of the Lord they help us, in order that to this common country sometime we may return, and there with them sometime with the Lord's fountain of truth and eternity we may be filled. Now therefore let our soul thirst: whence doth our flesh also thirst, and this in many ways? "In many ways for Thee," he saith, "my flesh also." Because to our flesh also is promised Resurrection. As to our soul is promised blessedness, so also to our flesh is promised resurrection. ... For if God hath made us that were not, is it a great thing for Him to make again us that were? Therefore let not this seem to you to be incredible, because ye see dead men as it were decaying, and passing into ashes and into dust. Or if any dead man be burned, or if dogs tear him in pieces, do ye think that from this he will not rise again? All things which are dismembered, and into a sort of dust do decay, are entire with God. For into those elements of the world they pass, whence at first they have come, when we were made: we do not see them; but yet God will bring them forth, He knoweth whence, because even before we were, He created us from whence He knew. Such a resurrection of the flesh therefore to us is promised, as that, although it be the same flesh that now we carry which is to rise again, yet it hath not the corruption which now it hath. For now because of the corruption of frailty, if we eat not, we faint and are hungry; if we drink not, we faint and are thirsty; if long time we watch we faint and sleep; if long time we sleep, we faint, therefore we watch. ... Secondly, see how without any standing is our flesh: for infancy passeth away into boyhood, and thou seekest infancy, and infancy is not, for now instead of infancy is boyhood: again this same also passeth into youth, thou seekest boyhood and findest not: the young man becometh a middle-aged man, thou seekest the young man and he is not: the middle-aged man becometh an old man, thou seekest a middle-aged man and findest not: and an old man dieth, thou seekest an old man and findest not: our age therefore standeth not still: everywhere is weariness, everywhere faintness, everywhere corruption. Observing what a hope of resurrection God promiseth to us, in all those our manifold faintings we thirst for that incorruption: and so our flesh manifoldly doth thirst for God.
5. Nevertheless, my brethren, the flesh of a good Christian and a believer even in this world for God doth thirst: for if the flesh hath need of bread, if it hath need of water, if it hath need of wine, if it hath need of money, if this flesh hath need of a beast, from God it ought to seek it, not from demons and idols and I know not what powers of this world. For there are certain who when they suffer hunger in this world, leave God and ask Mercury or ask Jove to give unto them, or her whom they call "Heavenly," or any the like demons: not for God their flesh thirsteth. But they that thirst for God, everywhere ought to thirst for Him, both soul and flesh: for to the soul also God giveth His bread, that is the Word of Truth: and to the flesh God giveth the things which are necessary, for God hath made both soul and flesh. For the sake of thy flesh thou askest of demons: hath God made the soul, and the demons made the flesh? He that hath made the soul, the Same hath made the flesh also: He that hath made both of them, the Same feedeth both of them. Let either part of us thirst for God, and after labour manifold let either simply be filled.
6. But where thirsteth our soul, and our flesh manifoldly, not for any one but for Thee, O Lord, that is our God? it thirsteth where? "In a land desert, and without way, and without water." Of this world we have spoken, the same is Idumaea, this is the desert of Idumaea, whence the Psalm hath received its title. "In a land desert." Too little it is to say "desert," where no man dwelleth; it is besides, both "without way, and without water." O that the same desert had even a way: O that into this a man running, even knew where he might thence get forth! ... Evil is the desert, horrible, and to be feared: and nevertheless God hath pitied us, and hath made for us a way in the desert, Himself our Lord Jesus Christ: and hath made for us a consolation in the desert, in sending to us preachers of His Word: and hath given to us water in the desert, by fulfilling with the Holy Spirit His preachers, in order that there might be created in them a well of water springing up unto life everlasting. And, lo! we have here all things, but they are not of the desert. ...
7. "Thus in a holy thing I have appeared to Thee, that I might see Thy power and Thy glory" (ver. 3). ...Unless a man first thirst in that desert, that is in the evil wherein he is, he never arriveth at the good, which is God. But "I have appeared to Thee," he saith, "in a holy thing." Now in a holy thing is there great consolation. "I have appeared to Thee," is what? In order that Thou mightest see me: and for this reason Thou hast seen me, in order that I might see Thee. "I have appeared to Thee, that I might see." He hath not said, "I have appeared to Thee, that Thou mightest see:" but, "I have appeared to Thee, that I might see Thy power and Thy glory." Whence also the Apostle, "But now," he saith, "knowing God, nay, having been known of God." For first ye have appeared to God, in order that to you God might be able to appear. "That I might see Thy power and Thy glory." In truth in that forsaken place, that is, in that desert, if as though from the desert a man striveth to obtain enough for his sustenance, he will never see the power of the Lord, and the glory of the Lord, but he will remain to die of thirst, and will find neither way, nor consolation, nor water, whereby he may endure in the desert. But when he shall have lifted up himself to God, so as to say to Him out of all his inward parts, "My soul hath thirsted for Thee; how manifoldly for Thee also my flesh!" lest perchance even the things necessary for the flesh of others he ask, and not of God, or else long not for that resurrection of the flesh, which God hath promised to us: when, I say, he shall have lifted up himself, he will have no small consolations.
8. ... But ye have heard but now when the Gospel was being read in what terms He hath notified His Majesty: "I and My Father are One." Behold how great a Majesty and how great an Equality with the Father hath come down to the flesh because of our infirmity. Behold how greatly beloved we have been, before that we loved God, If before that we loved God, so much by Him we were beloved, as that His Son, Equal with Himself, He made a Man for our sake, what doth He reserve for us now loving Him? Therefore many men think it to be a very small thing that the Son of God hath appeared on earth; because they are not in the Holy One, to them hath not appeared the power of the Same and the glory of the Same: that is, not yet have they a heart made holy, whence they may perceive the eminence of that virtue, and may render thanks to God, nor that to which for their own sakes so great an One came, unto what a nativity, unto what a Passion, they are not able to see, His glory and His power.
9. "For better is Thy mercy than lives." Many are the lives of men, but one life God promiseth: and He giveth not this to us as if for our merits but for His mercy. ... For what is so just a thing as that a sinner should be punished? Though a just thing it be that a sinner should be punished, it hath belonged to the mercy of Him not to punish a sinner but to justify him, and of a sinner to make a just man, and of an ungodly man to make a godly man. Therefore "His mercy is better than lives." What lives? Those which for themselves men have chosen. One hath chosen for himself a life of business, another a country life, another a life of usury, another a military life; one this, another that. Divers are the lives, but "better is Thy" life "than" our "lives." ... "My lips shall praise Thee." My lips would not praise Thee, unless before me were to go Thy mercy. By Thy gift Thee I praise, through Thy mercy Thee I praise. For I should not be able to praise God, unless He gave me to be able to praise Him.
10. "So I will speak good of Thee in my life, and in Thy name I will lift up my hands" (ver. 5). Now in my life which to me Thou hast given, not in that which I have chosen after the world with the rest among many lives, but that which Thou hast given to me through Thy mercy, that I should praise Thee. "So I will speak good of Thee in my life." What is "so"? That to Thy mercy I may ascribe my life wherein Thee I praise, not to my merits. "And in Thy name I will lift up my hands." Lift up therefore hands in prayer. Our Lord hath lifted up for us His hands on the Cross, and stretched out were His hands for us, and therefore were His hands stretched out on the Cross, in order that our hands might be stretched out unto good works: because His Cross hath brought us mercy. Behold, He hath lifted up hands, and hath offered for us Himself a Sacrifice to God, and through that Sacrifice have been effaced all our sins. Let us also lift up our hands to God in prayer: and our hands being lifted up to God shall not be confounded, if they be exercised in good works. For what doth he that lifteth up hands? Whence hath it been commanded that with hands lifted up we should pray to God? For the Apostle saith, "Lifting up pure hands without anger and dissension." It is in order that when thou liftest up hands to God, there may come into thy mind thy works. For whereas those hands are lifted up that thou mayest obtain that which thou wilt, those same hands thou thinkest in good works to exercise, that they may not blush to be lifted up to God. "In thy name I will lift up my hands." Those are our prayers in this Idumaea, in this desert, in the land without water and without way, where for us Christ is the Way, but not the way of this earth.
11. ... Already our fathers are dead, but God liveth: here we could not always have fathers, but there we shall alway have one living Father, when we have our father-land. ... What sort of country is that? But thou lovest here riches. God Himself shall be to thee thy riches. But thou lovest a good fountain. What is more passing clear than that wisdom? What more bright? Whatsoever is an object of love here, in place of all thou shall have Him that hath made all things, "as though with marrow and fatness my soul should be filled: and lips of exultation shall praise Thy name." In this desert, in Thy name I will lift up my hands: let my soul be filled as though with marrow and fatness, "and my lips with exultation shall praise Thy name." For now is prayer, so long as there is thirst: when thirst shall have passed away, there passeth away praying and there succeedeth praising. "And lips of exultation shall praise Thy name."
12. "If I have remembered Thee upon my bed, in the dawnings I did meditate on thee (ver. 7): because Thou hast become my helper" (ver. 8). His "bed" he calleth his rest. When any one is at rest, let him be mindful of God; when any one is at rest, let him not by rest be dissolved, and forget God: if mindful he is of God when he is at rest, in his actions on God he doth meditate. For the dawn he hath called actions, because every man at dawn beginneth to do something. What therefore hath he said? If therefore I was not mindful on my bed, in the dawn also I did not meditate on Thee. Can he that thinketh not of God when he is at leisure, in his actions think of God? But he that is mindful of Him when he is at rest, on the Same doth meditate when he is doing, lest in action he should come short. Therefore he hath added what? "Because Thou has become my helper." For unless God aid our good works, they cannot be accomplished by us. And worthy things we ought to work: that is, as though in the light, since by Christ showing the way we work. Whosoever worketh evil things, in the night he worketh, not in the dawn; according to the Apostle, saying, "They that are drunken, in the night are drunken; and they that sleep, in the night do sleep; let us that are of the day, be sober." He exhorteth us that after the day we should walk honestly: "As in the day, honestly let us walk." And again, "Ye," he saith, "are sons of light, and sons of day; we are not of night nor of darkness." Who are sons of night, and sons of darkness? They that work all evil things. To such a degree they are sons of night, that they fear lest the things which they work should be seen. ... No one therefore in the dawn worketh, except him that in Christ worketh. But he that while at leisure is mindful of Christ, on the Same doth meditate in all his actions, and He is a helper to him in a good work, lest through his weakness he fail. "And in the covering of Thy wings I will exult." I am cheerful in good works, because over me is the covering of Thy wings. If thou protect me not, forasmuch as I am a chicken, the kite will seize me. For our Lord Himself saith in a certain place to that Jerusalem, a certain city, where He was crucified: "Jerusalem," He saith, "Jerusalem, how often I have willed to gather thy sons, as though a hen her chickens, and thou wouldest not." Little ones we are: therefore may God protect us under the shadow of His wings. What when we shall have grown greater? A good thing it is for us that even then He should protect us, so that under Him the greater, alway we be chickens. For alway He is greater, however much we may have grown. Let no one say, let Him protect me while I am a little one: as if sometime he would attain to such magnitude, as should be self-sufficient. Without the protection of God, nought thou art. Alway by Him let us desire to be protected: then alway in Him we shall have power to be great, if alway under Him little we be. "And in the covering of Thy wings I will exult."
13. "My soul hath been glued on behind Thee" (ver. 9). See ye one longing, see ye one thirsting, see ye how he cleaveth to God. Let there spring up in you this affection. If already it is sprouting, let it be rained upon and grow: let it come to such strength, that ye also may say from the whole heart, "My soul hath been glued on behind Thee." Where is that same glue? The glue itself is love. Have thou love, wherewith as with glue thy soul may be glued on behind God. Not with God, but behind God; that He may go before, thou mayest follow. For he that shall have willed to go before God, by his I own counsel would live, and will not follow the commandments of God. Because of this even Peter was rebuked, when he willed to give counsel to Christ, who was going to suffer for us. ... "Far be it from Thee, O Lord, be Thou merciful to Thyself." And the Lord, "Go back behind Me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things which are of God, but the things which are of men." Wherefore, the things which are of men? Because to go before Me thou desirest, go back behind Me, in order that thou mayest follow me: so that now following Christ lie might say, "My soul hath been glued on behind Thee." With reason he addeth, "Me Thy right hand hath taken up." This Christ hath said in us: that is in the Man which He was bearing for us, which He was offering for us, He hath said this. The Church also said this in Christ, she saith it in her Head: for she too hath suffered here great persecutions, and by her individual members even now she suffereth. ...
14. "But themselves in vain have sought my soul. They shall go unto the lower places of the earth" (ver. 9). Earth they were unwilling to lose, when they crucified Christ: into the lower places of the earth they have gone. What are the lower places of the earth? Earthly lusts. Better it is to walk upon earth, than by lust to go under earth. For every one that in prejudice of his salvation desireth earthly things, is under the earth: because earth he hath put before him, earth upon himself he hath put, and himself beneath he hath laid. They therefore fearing to lose earth, said what of the Lord Jesus Christ, when they saw great multitudes go after Him, forasmuch as He was doing wonderful things? "If we shall have let Him go alive, there will come the Romans, and will take away from us both place and nation." They feared to lose earth, and they went under the earth: there befell them even what they feared. For they willed to kill Christ, that they might not lose earth; and earth they therefore lost, because Christ they slew. For when Christ had been slain, because the Lord Himself had said to them, "The kingdom shall be taken from you, and shall be given up to a nation doing righteousness:" there followed them great calamities of persecutions: there conquered them Roman emperors, and kings of the nations: they were shut out from that very place where they crucified Christ, and now that place is full of Christian praisers: it hath no Jew, it hath been cleared of the enemies of Christ, it hath been fulfilled with the praisers of Christ. Behold, they have lost at the hands of the Romans the place, because Christ they slew, who to this end slew, that they might not lose the place at the hands of the Romans. Therefore, "They shall enter into the lower places of the earth."
15. "They shall be delivered unto the hands of the sword" (ver. 10). In truth, thus it hath visibly befallen them, they have been taken by storm by enemies breaking in. "Portions of foxes they shall be." Foxes he calleth the kings of the world, that then were when Judaea was conquered. Hear in order that ye may know and perceive, that those he calleth foxes. Herod the king the Lord Himself hath called a fox. "Go ye," He saith, "and tell that fox." See and observe, my brethren: Christ as King they would not have, and portions of foxes they have been made. For when Pilate the deputy governor in Judaea slew Christ at the voices of the Jews, he said to the same Jews, "Your King shall I crucify?" Because He was called King of the Jews, and He was the true King. And they rejecting Christ said, "We have no king but Caesar." They rejected a Lamb, chose a fox: deservedly portions of foxes they were made.
16. "The King in truth," is so written, because they chose a fox, a King in truth they would not have. "The King in truth:" that is, the true King, to whom the title was inscribed, when He suffered. For Pilate set this title inscribed over His Head, "The King of the Jews," in the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin tongues: in order that all they that should pass by might read of the glory of the King, and the infamy of the Jews themselves, who, rejecting the true King, chose the fox Caesar. "The King in truth shall rejoice in God." They have been made portions of foxes. ... "Stopped up is the mouth of men speaking unjust things." No one dareth now openly to speak against Christ, now all men fear Christ. "For stopped up is the mouth of men speaking unjust things." When in weakness the Lamb was, even foxes were bold against the Lamb. There conquered the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and the foxes were silenced.
1. Though chiefly the Lord's Passion is noticed in this Psalm, neither could the Martyrs have been strong, unless they had beheld Him, that first suffered; nor such things would they have endured in suffering, as He did, unless they had hoped for such things in the Resurrection as He had showed of Himself: but your Holiness knoweth that our Head is our Lord Jesus Christ, and that all that cleave unto Him are the members of Him the Head . ... And let no one say, that now-a-days in tribulation of passions we are not. For alway ye have heard this fact, how in those times the whole Church together as it were was smitten against, but now through individuals she is tried. Bound indeed is the devil, that he may not do as much as he could, that he may not do as much as he would: nevertheless, he is permitted to tempt as much as is expedient to men advancing. It is not expedient for us to be without temptations: nor should we beseech God that we be not tempted, but that we be not "led into temptation."
2. Say we, therefore, ourselves also:" Hearken, O God, to my prayer, while I am troubled; from fear of the enemy deliver my soul" (ver. 1). Enemies have raged against the Martyrs: for what was that voice of Christ's Body praying? For this it was praying, to be delivered from enemies, and that enemies might not have power to slay them. Were they not therefore hearkened to, because they were slain; and hath God forsaken His servants of a contrite heart, and despised men hoping in Him? Far be it. For "who hath called upon God, and hath been forsaken; who hath hoped in Him, and hath been deserted by Him?" They were hearkened to therefore, and they were slain; and yet from enemies they were delivered. Others being afraid gave consent, and lived, and yet the same by enemies were swallowed up. The slain were delivered, the living were swallowed up. Thence is also that voice of thanksgiving, "Perchance alive they would have swallowed us up." Therefore for this prayeth the voice of the Martyrs, "From fear of the enemy deliver Thou my soul:" not so that the enemy may not slay me, but that I may not fear an enemy slaying. For that to be fulfilled in the Psalm the servant prayeth, which but now in the Gospel the Lord was commanding. What but now was the Lord commanding? "Fear not them that kill the body, but the soul are not able to kill; but Him rather fear ye, that hath power to kill both body and soul in the hell of fire." And He repeated, "Yea, I say unto you, fear Him." Who are they that kill the body? Enemies. What was the Lord commanding? That they should not be feared. Be prayer offered, therefore, that He may grant what He hath commanded. "From fear of the enemy deliver my soul." Deliver me from fear of the enemy, and make me submit to the fear of Thee. I would not fear him that killeth the body, but I would fear Him that hath power to kill both body and soul in the hell of fire. For not from fear would I be free: but from fear of the enemy being free, under fear of the Lord a servant.
3. "Thou hast protected me from the gathering together of malignants, and from the multitude of men working iniquity" (ver. 2). Now upon Himself our Head let us look. Like things many Martyrs have suffered: but nothing doth shine out so brightly as the Head of Martyrs; in Him rather let us behold what they have gone through. Protected He was from the multitude of malignants, God protecting Himself, the Son Himself and the Manhood which He was carrying protecting His flesh: because Son of Man He is, and Son of God He is; Son of God because of the form of God, Son of Man because of the form of a servant: having in His power to lay down His life: and to take it again. To Him what could enemies do? They killed body, soul they killed not. Observe. Too little therefore it were for the Lord to exhort the Martyrs with word, unless He had enforced it by example. Ye know what a gathering together there was of malignant Jews, and what a multitude there was of men working iniquity. What iniquity? That wherewith they willed to kill the Lord Jesus Christ. So many good works," He saith, "I have shown to you, for which of these will ye to kill Me?" He endured all their infirm, He healed all their sick, He preached the Kingdom of Heaven, He held not His peace at their vices, so that these same should have been displeasing to them, rather than the Physician by whom they were being made whole: for all these His remedies being ungrateful, like men delirious in high fever raving at the physician, they devised the plan of destroying Him that had come to heal them; as though therein they would prove whether He were indeed a man, that could die, or were somewhat above men, and would not suffer Himself to die. The word of these same men we perceive in the wisdom of Solomon: "with death most vile," say they, "let us condemn Him; let us question Him, for there will be regard in the discourses of Him; for if truly Son of God He is, let Him deliver Him." Let us see therefore what was done.
4. "For they have whet like a sword their tongues" (ver. 3). Which saith another Psalm also, "Sons of men; their teeth are arms and arrows, and their tongue is a sharp sword." Let not the Jews say, we have not killed Christ. For to this end they gave Him to Pilate the judge, in order that they themselves might seem as it were guiltless of His death. ... But if he is guilty because he did it though unwillingly, are they innocent who compelled him to do it? By no means. But he gave sentence against Him, and commanded Him to be crucified: and in a manner himself killed Him; ye also, O ye Jews, killed Him. Whence did ye kill Him? With the sword of the tongue: for ye did whet your tongues. And when did ye smite, except when ye cried out, "Crucify, Crucify"?
5. But on this account we must not pass over that which hath come into mind, lest perchance the reading of the Divine Scriptures should disquiet any one. One Evangelist saith that the Lord was crucified at the sixth hour, and another at the third hour:  unless we understand it, we are disquieted. And when the sixth hour was already beginning, Pilate is said to have sat on the judgment-seat: and in reality when the Lord was lifted up upon the tree, it was the sixth hour. But another Evangelist, looking unto the mind of the Jews, how they wished themselves to seem guiltless of the death of the Lord, by his account proveth them guilty, saying, that the Lord was crucified at the third hour. But considering all the circumstance of the history, how many things might have been done, when before Pilate the Lord was being accused, in order that He might be crucified; we find that it might have been the third hour, when they cried out, "Crucify, Crucify." Therefore with more truth they killed at the time when they cried out. The ministers of the magistrate at the sixth hour crucified, the transgressors of the law at the third hour cried out: that which those did with hands at the sixth hour, these did with tongue at the third hour. More guilty are they that with crying out were raging, than they that in obedience were ministering. This is the whole of the Jews' sagacity, this is that which they sought as some great matter. Let us kill and let us not kill: so let us kill, as that we may not ourselves be judged to have killed.
6. "They have bended the bow, a bitter thing, in order that they may shoot in secret One unspotted" (ver. 4). The bow he calleth lyings in wait. For he that with sword fighteth hand to hand, openly fighteth: he that shooteth an arrow deceiveth, in order to strike. For the arrow smiteth, before it is foreseen to come to wound. But whom could the lyings in wait of the human heart escape? Would they escape our Lord Jesus Christ, who had no need that any one should bear witness to Him of man? "For Himself knew what was in man," as the Evangelist testifieth. Nevertheless, let us hear them, and look upon them in their doings as if the Lord knew not what they devise. The expression he used, "They have bended the bow," is the same as, "in secret:" as if they were deceiving by lyings in wait. For ye know by what artifices they did this, how with money they bribed a disciple that clave to Him, in order that He might be betrayed to them, how they procured false witnesses; with what lyings in wait and artifices they wrought, "in order that they might shoot in secret One unspotted." Great iniquity! Behold from a secret place there cometh an arrow, which striketh One unspotted, who had not even so much of spot as could be pierced with an arrow. A Lamb indeed He is unspotted, wholly unspotted, alway unspotted; not one from whom spots have been removed but that hath contracted not any spots. For He hath made many unspotted by forgiving sins, being Himself unspotted by not having sins. "Suddenly they shall shoot Him, and shall not fear. O heart hardened, to wish to kill a Man that did raise the dead! "Suddenly:" that is, insidiously, as if unexpectedly, as if not foreseen. For the Lord was like to one knowing not, being among men knowing not what He knew not and what He knew: yea, knowing not that there was nothing that He knew not, and that He knew all things, and to this end had come in order that they might do that which they thought they did by their own power.
7. "They have confirmed to themselves malignant discourse" (ver. 5). There were done so great miracles, they were not moved, they persisted in the design of the evil discourse. He was given up to the judge: the judge trembleth, and they tremble not that have given Him up to the judge: trembleth power, and ferocity trembleth not: he would wash his hands, and they stain their tongues. But wherefore this? "They have confirmed to themselves malignant discourse." How many things did Pilate, how many things that they might be restrained! What said he? what did he? But "they have confirmed to themselves malignant discourse: Crucify, crucify." The repetition is the confirmation of the "malignant discourse." Let us see in what manner "they have confirmed to themselves malignant discourse." "Your King shall I crucify?" They said, "We have no king but Caesar alone." He was offering for King the Son of God: to a man they betook themselves: worthy were they to have the one, and not have the Other. "I find not anything in this Man," saith the judge, "wherefore He is worthy of death." And they that "confirmed malignant discourse," said, "His blood be upon us and upon our sons." "They confirmed malignant discourse," not to the Lord, but to" themselves." For how not to themselves when they say, "Upon us and upon our sons"? That which therefore they confirmed, to themselves they confirmed: because the same voice is elsewhere, "They dug before my face a ditch, and fell into it." Death killed not the Lord, but He death: but them iniquity killed, because they would not kill iniquity. ...
8. "They told, in order that they might hide traps: they said, Who shall see them?" (ver. 5). They thought they would escape Him, whom they were killing, that they would escape God. Behold, suppose Christ was a man, like the rest of men, and knew not what was being contrived for Him: doth God also know not? O heart of man! wherefore hast thou said to thyself, Who seeth me? when He seeth that hath made thee? "They said, Who shall see them?" God did see, Christ also was seeing: because Christ is also God. But wherefore did they think that He saw not? Hear the words following.
9. "They have searched out iniquity, they have failed, searching searchings" (ver. 6): that is, deadly and acute designs. Let Him not be betrayed by us, but by His disciple: let Him not be killed by us, but by the judge: let us do all, and let us seem to have done nothing. ...
10. But what befell them? "They failed searching searchings." Whence? Because he saith, "Who shall see them?" that is, that no one saw them. This they were saying, this among themselves they thought, that no one saw them. See what befalleth an evil soul: it departeth from the light of truth, and because itself seeth not God, it thinketh that itself is not seen by God. ...
11. For what followeth? "There shall draw near a man and a deep heart." They said, Who shall see us? They failed in searching searchings, evil counsels. There drew near a man to those same counsels, He suffered Himself to be held as a man. For He would not have been held except He were man, or have been seen except He were man, or have been smitten except He were man, or have been crucified or have died except He were man. There drew near a man therefore to all those sufferings, which in Him would have been of no avail except He were Man. But if He were not Man, there would not have been deliverance for man. There hath drawn near a Man "and a deep heart," that is, a secret "heart:" presenting before human faces Man, keeping within God: concealing the "form of God," wherein He is equal with the Father, and presenting the form of a servant, wherein He is less than the Father. For Himself hath spoken of both: but one thing there is which He saith in the form of God, another thing in the form of a servant. He hath said in the form of God, "I and the Father are one: " He hath said in the form of a servant, "For the Father is greater than I." Whence in the form of God saith He, "I and the Father are one"? ...
12. "Arrows of infants have been made the strokes of them" (ver. 7). Where is that savageness? where is that roar of the lion, of the people roaring and saying, "Crucify, Crucify"? Where are the lyings in wait of men bending the bow? Have not "the strokes of them been made the arrows of infants"? Ye know in what manner infants make to themselves arrows of little canes. What do they strike, or whence do they strike? What is the hand, or what the weapon? what are the arms, or what the limbs?
13. "And the tongues of them have been made weak upon them" (ver. 8). Let them whet now their tongues like a sword, let them confirm to themselves malignant discourse. Deservedly to themselves they have confirmed it, because "the tongues of them have been made weak upon them." Could this be strong against God? "Iniquity," he saith," hath lied to itself;" "their tongues have been made weak upon them." Behold, the Lord hath risen, that was killed. ... What thinkest thou of Him who from the cross came not down, and from the tomb rose again? What therefore did they effect? But even if the Lord had not risen again, what would they have effected, except what the persecutors of the martyrs have also effected? For the Martyrs have not yet risen again, and nevertheless they have effected nothing; of them not yet rising again we are now celebrating the nativities. Where is the madness of their raging? To what did they bring those their searchings, in which searchings they failed, so that even, when the Lord was dead and buried, they set guards at the tomb? For they said to Pilate, "That deceiver;" by this name the Lord Jesus Christ was called, for the comfort of His servants when they are called deceivers; they say therefore to Pilate, "That deceiver said when yet living, After three days I will rise again:" ... They set for guards soldiers at the sepulchre. At the earth quaking, the Lord rose again: such miracles were done about the sepulchre, that even the very soldiers that had come for guards were made witnesses, if they chose to tell the truth: but the same covetousness which had led captive a disciple, the companion of Christ, led captive also the soldier that was guard of the sepulchre. We give you, they say, money; 7 and say ye, while yourselves were sleeping there came His disciples, and took Him away. ... Sleeping witnesses ye adduce: truly thou thyself hast fallen asleep, that in searching such devices hast failed. If they were sleeping, what could they see? if nothing they saw, how are they witnesses? But "they failed in searching searchings:" failed of the light of God, failed in the very completion of their designs: when that which they willed, nowise they were able to complete, surely they failed. Wherefore this? Because "there drew near a Man and a deep heart, and God was exalted." ...
14. "And every man feared" (ver. 9). They that feared not, were not even men. "Every man feared;" that is, every one using reason to perceive the things which were done. Whence they that feared not, must rather be called cattle, rather beasts savage and cruel. A lion ramping and roaring is that people as yet. But in truth every man feared: that is, they that would believe, that trembled at the judgment to come. "And every man feared: and they declared the works of God." ... "And every man hath feared: and they have declared the works of God, and His doings they have perceived." What is, "His doings they have perceived"? Was it, O Lord Jesu Christ, that Thou wast silent, and like a sheep for a victim wast being led, and didst not open before the shearer Thy mouth, and we thought Thee to be set in smiting and in grief, and knowing how to bear weakness? 10 Was it that Thou wast hiding Thy beauty, O Thou beautiful in form before the sons of men? Was it that Thou didst not seem to have beauty nor grace? Thou didst bear on the Cross men reviling and saying," If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross." ... This thing they, that would have had Him come down from the Cross, perceived not: but when He rose again, and being glorified ascended into Heaven, they perceived the works of God.
15. "The just man shall rejoice in the Lord" (ver. 10). Now the just man is not sad. For sad were the disciples at the Lord's being crucified; overcome with sadness, sorrowing they departed, they thought they had lost hope. He rose again, even when appearing to them He found them sad. He held the eyes of two men that walked in the way, so that by them he was not known, and He found them groaning and sighing, and He held them until He had expounded the Scriptures, and by the same Scriptures had shown that so it ought to have been done as it was done. For He showed in the Scriptures, how after the third day it behoved the Lord to rise again. And how on the third day would He have risen again, if from the Cross He had come down? ... Therefore let us all rejoice in the Lord, let us all after the faith be ONE JUST MAN, and let us all in one Body hold One Head, and let us rejoice in the Lord, not in ourselves: because our Good is not ourselves to ourselves, but He that hath made us. Himself is our good to make us glad. And let no one rejoice in himself, no one rely on himself, no one despair of himself: let no one rely on any man, whom he ought to bring in to be the partner of his own hope, not the giver of the hope.
16. Now because the Lord hath risen again, now because He hath ascended into Heaven, now because He hath showed that there is another life, now because it is evident that His counsels, wherein He lay concealed in deep heart, were not empty, because to this end That Blood was shed to be the price of the redeemed; now because all things are evident, because all things have been preached, because all things have been believed, under the whole of heaven, "the just man shall rejoice in the Lord, and shall hope in Him; and all men shall be praised that are right in heart." ... God is displeasing to thee, and thou art pleasing to thyself, of perverted and crooked heart thou art: and this is the worse, that the heart of God thou wouldest correct by thy heart, to make Him do what thou wilt have whereas thou oughtest to do what He willeth. What then? Thou wouldest make crooked the heart of God which alway is right, according to the depravity of thy own heart? How much better to correct thy heart by the rectitude of God? Hath not thy Lord taught thee this, of Whose Passion but now were we speaking? Was He not bearing thy weakness, when He said, "Sad is My soul even unto death "? Was He not figuring thyself in Himself, when He was saying, "Father, if it be possible, let there pass from Me this cup"?. For the hearts of the Father and of the Son were not two and different: but in the form of a servant He carried thy heart, that He might teach it by His example. Now behold trouble found out as it were another heart of thine, which willed that there should pass away that which was impending: but God would not. God consenteth not to thy heart, do thou consent to the heart of God.
17. What followeth? If "there shall be praised all men right in heart," there shall be condemned the crooked in heart. Two things are set before thee now, choose while there is time. ... If of crooked heart thou hast become, there will come that Judgment, there will appear all the reasons on account of which God doeth all these things: and thou that wouldest not in this life correct thy heart by the rectitude of God, and prepare thyself for the right hand, where "there shall be praised all men right in heart," wilt be on the left, where at that time thou shalt hear, "Go ye into fire everlasting, that hath been prepared for the devil and his angels." And will there be then time to correct the heart? Now therefore correct, brethren, now correct. Who doth hinder? Psalm is chanted, Gospel is read, Reader crieth, Preacher crieth; long-suffering is the Lord; thou sinnest, and He spareth; still thou sinnest, still He spareth, and still thou addest sin to sin. How long is God long-suffering? Thou wilt find God just also. We terrify because we fear; teach us not to fear, and we terrify no more. But better it is that God teach us to fear, than that any man teach us not to fear. ... Thou bringest forth grain, barn expect thou; bringest forth thorns, fire expect thou. But not yet hath come either the time of the barn or the time of the fire: now let there be preparation, and there will not be fear. In the name of Christ both we who speak are living, and ye to whom we speak are living: for amending our plan, and changing evil life into a good life, is there no place, is there no time? Can it not, if thou wilt, be done to-day? Can it not, if thou wilt, be now done? What must thou buy in order to do it, what specifics must thou seek? To what Indies must thou sail? What ship prepare? Lo, while I am speaking, change the heart; and there is done what so often and so long while is cried out for, that it be done, and which bringeth forth everlasting punishment if it be not done.
1. The voice of holy prophecy must be confessed in the very title of this Psalm. It is inscribed, "Unto the end, a Psalm of David, a song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, on account of the people of transmigration when they were beginning to go forth." How it fired with our fathers in the time of the transmigration to Babylon, is not known to all, but only to those that diligently study the Holy Scriptures, either by hearing or by reading. For the captive people Israel from the city of Jerusalem was led into slavery unto Babylon. But holy Jeremiah prophesied, that after seventy years the people would return out of captivity, and would rebuild the very city Jerusalem, which they had mourned as having been overthrown by enemies. But at that time there were prophets in that captivity of the people dwelling in Babylon, among whom was also the prophet Ezekiel. But that people was waiting until there should be fulfilled the space of seventy years, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah. It came to pass, when the seventy years had been completed, the temple was restored which had been thrown down: and there returned from captivity a great part of that people. But whereas the Apostle saith, "these things in figure happened unto them, but they have been written for our sakes, upon whom the end of the world hath come: "2 we also ought to know first our captivity, then our deliverance: we ought to know the Babylon wherein we are captives, and the Jerusalem for a return to which we are sighing. For these two cities, according to the letter, in reality are two cities. And the former Jerusalem indeed by the Jews is not now inhabited. For after the crucifixion of the Lord vengeance was taken upon them with a great scourge, and being rooted up from that place where, with impious licentiousness being infuriated, they had madly raged against their Physician, they have been dispersed throughout all nations, and that land hath been given to Christians: and there is fulfilled what the Lord had said to them, "Therefore the kingdom shall be taken away from you, and it shall be given to a nation doing justice." But when they saw great multitudes then following the Lord, preaching the kingdom of Heaven, and doing wonderful things, the rulers of that city said," If we shall have let Him go, all men will go after Him, and there shall come the Romans, and shall take from us both place and nation." That they might not lose their place, they killed the Lord; and they lost it, even because they killed. Therefore that city, being one earthly, did bear the figure of a certain city everlasting in the Heavens: but when that which was signified began more evidently to be preached, the shadow, whereby it was being signified, was thrown down: for this reason in that place now the temple is no more, which had been constructed for the image of the future Body of the Lord. We have the light, the shadow hath passed away: nevertheless, still in a kind of captivity we are: "So long as we are," he saith, "in the body, we are sojourning afar from the Lord."
2. And see ye the names of those two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is interpreted confusion, Jerusalem vision of peace. Observe now the city of confusion, in order that ye may perceive the vision of peace; that ye may endure that, sigh for this. Whereby can those two cities be distinguished? Can we anywise now separate them from each other? They are mingled, and from the very beginning of mankind mingled they run on unto the end of the world. Jerusalem received beginning through Abel, Babylon through Cain: for the buildings of the cities were afterwards erected. That Jerusalem in the land of the Jebusites was builded: for at first it used to be called Jebus, from thence the nation of the Jebusites was expelled, when the people of God was delivered from Egypt, and led into the land of promise. But Babylon was builded in the most interior regions of Persia, which for a long time raised its head above the rest of nations. These two cities then at particular times were builded, so that there might be shown a figure of two cities begun of old, and to remain even unto the end in this world, but at the end to be severed. Whereby then can we now show them, that are mingled? At that time the Lord shall show, when some He shall set on the right hand, others on the left. Jerusalem on the right hand shall be, Babylon on the left. ... Two loves make up these two cities: love of God maketh Jerusalem, love of the world maketh Babylon. Therefore let each one question himself as to what he loveth: and he shall find of which he is a citizen: and if he shall have found himself to be a citizen of Babylon, let him root out cupidity, implant charity: but if he shall have found himself a citizen of Jerusalem, let him endure captivity, hope for liberty. ... Now therefore let us hear of, brethren, hear of, and sing of, and long for, that city whereof we are citizens. And what are the joys which are sung of to us? In what manner in ourselves is formed again the love of our city, which by long sojourning we had forgotten? But our Father hath sent from thence letters to us, God hath supplied to us the Scriptures, by which letters there should be wrought in us a longing for return: because by loving our sojourning, to enemies we had turned our face, and our back to our fatherland. What then is here sung?
3. "For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion" (ver. 1). That fatherland is Sion: Jerusalem is the very same as Sion; and of this name the interpretation ye ought to know. As Jerusalem is interpreted vision of peace, so Sion Beholding? that is, vision and contemplation. Some great inexplicable sight to us is promised: and this is God Himself that hath builded the city. Beauteous and graceful the city, how much more beauteous a Builder it hath! "For Thee a hymn is meet, O God," he saith. But where? "In Sion:" in Babylon it is not meet. For when a man beginneth to be renewed, already with heart in Jerusalem he singeth, with the Apostle saying, "Our conversation is in the Heavens." For "in the flesh though walking," he saith, "not after the flesh we war." Already in longing we are there, already hope into that land, as it were an anchor, we have sent before, lest in this sea being tossed we suffer shipwreck. In like manner therefore as of a ship which is at anchor, we rightly say that already she is come to land, for still she rolleth, but to land in a manner she hath been brought safe in the teeth of winds and in the teeth of storms; so against the temptations of this sojourning, our hope being grounded in that city Jerusalem causeth us not to be carried away upon rocks. He therefore that according to this hope singeth, in that city singeth: let him therefore say, "For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion." ...
4. "And to Thee shall there be paid a vow in Jerusalem." Here we vow, and a good thing it is that there we should pay. But who are they that here do vow and pay not? They that persevere not even unto the end in that which they have vowed. Whence saith another Psalm "Vow ye, and pay ye unto the Lord your God:" and, "to Thee shall it be paid in Jerusalem." For there shall we be whole, that is, entire in the resurrection of just men: there shall be paid our whole vow, not soul alone, but the very flesh also, no longer corruptible, because no longer in Babylon, but now a body heavenly and changed. What sort of change is promised? "For we all shall rise again," saith the Apostle, "but we shall not all be changed. ... Where is, O death, thy sting?" For now while there begin in use the first-fruits of the mind, from whence is the longing for Jerusalem, many things of corruptible flesh do contend against us, which will not contend, when death shall have been swallowed up in victory. Peace shall conquer, and war shall be ended. But when peace shall conquer, that city shall conquer which is called the vision of peace. On the part of death therefore shall be no contention. Now with how great a death do we contend! For thence are carnal pleasures, which to us even unlawfully do suggest many things: to which we give no consent, but nevertheless in giving no consent we contend. ...
5. "Hearken," he saith, "to my prayer, unto Thee every flesh shall come". (ver. 2). And we have the Lord saying, that there was given to Him "power over every flesh." That King therefore began even now to appear, when there was being said, "Unto Thee every flesh shall come." "To Thee," he saith, "every flesh shall come." Wherefore to Him shall "every" flesh come? Because flesh He hath taken to Him. Whither shall there come every flesh? He took the first-fruits thereof out of the womb of the Virgin; and now that the first-fruits have been taken to Him, the rest shall follow, in order that the holocaust may be completed. Whence then "every flesh"? Every man. And whence every man? Have all been foretold, as going to believe in Christ? Have not many ungodly men been foretold, that shall be condemned also? Do not daily men not believing die in their own unbelief? After what manner therefore do we understand, "Unto Thee every flesh shall come"? By "every flesh" he hath signified, "flesh of every kind:" out of every kind of flesh they shall come to Thee. What is, out of every kind of flesh? Have there come poor men, and have there not come rich men? Have there come humble men, and not come lofty men? Have there come unlearned men, and not come learned men? Have there come men, and not come women? Have there come masters, and not come servants? Have there come old men, and not come young men; or have there come young men, and not come youths; or have there come youths, and not come boys; or have there come boys, and have there not been brought infants? In a word, have there come Jews (for thence were the Apostles, thence many thousands of men at first betraying, afterwards believing), and have there not come Greeks; or have there come Greeks, and not come Romans; or have there come Romans, and not come Barbarians? And who could number all nations coining to Him, to whom hath been said, "Unto Thee every flesh shall come"?
6. "The discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us, and our iniquities Thou shalt propitiate" (ver. 3). ... Every man, in whatsoever place he is born, of that same land or region or city learneth the language, is habituated to the manners and life of that place. What should a boy do, born among Heathens, to avoid worshipping a stone, inasmuch as his parents have suggested that worship? from them the first words he hath heard, that error with his milk he hath sucked in; and because they that used to speak were elders, and the boy that was learning to speak was an infant, what could the little one do but follow the authority of elders, and deem that to be good which they recommended? Therefore nations that are converted to Christ afterwards, and taking to heart the impieties of their parents, and saying now what the prophet Jeremias himself said, "Truly a lie our fathers have worshipped, vanity which hath not profited them"--when, I say, they now say this, they renounce the opinions and blasphemies of their unjust parents. ... There have led us away men teaching evil things, citizens of Babylon they have made us, we have left the Creator, have adored the creature: have left Him by whom we were made, have adored that which we ourselves have made. For "the discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us:" but nevertheless they have not crushed us. Wherefore? "Our impieties Thou shalt propitiate," is not said except to some priest offering somewhat, whereby impiety may be expiated and propitiated. For impiety is then said to be propitiated, when God is made propitious to the impiety. What is it for God to be made propitious to impiety? It is, His becoming forgiving, and giving pardon. But in order that God's pardon may be obtained, propitiation is made through some sacrifice. There hath come forth therefore, sent from God the Lord, One our Priest; He took upon Him from us that which He might offer to the Lord we are speaking of those same first-fruits of the flesh from the womb of the Virgin. This holocaust He offered to God. He stretched out His hands on the Cross, in order that He might say, "Let My prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight, and the lifting up of My hands an evening sacrifice." As ye know, the Lord about eventide hung on the Cross: and our impieties were propitiated; otherwise they had swallowed up: the discourses of unjust men had prevailed over us; there had led us astray preachers of Jupiter, and of Saturn, and of Mercury: "the discourses of ungodly men had prevailed over us." But what wilt Thou do? "Our impieties Thou wilt propitiate." Thou art the priest, Thou the victim; Thou the offerer, Thou the offering. ...
7. "Blessed is he whom Thou hast chosen, and hast taken to Thee" (ver. 4). Who is he that is chosen by Him and taken to Him? Was any one chosen by our Saviour Jesus Christ, or was Himself after the flesh, because He is man, chosen and taken to Him? ... Or hath not rather Christ Himself taken to Him some blessed one, and the same whom He hath taken to Him is not spoken of in the plural number but in the singular? For one man He hath taken to Him, because unity He hath taken to Him. Schisms He hath not taken to Him, heresies He hath not taken to Him: a multitude they have made of themselves, there is not one to be taken to Him. But they that abide in the bond of Christ and are the members of Him, make in a manner one man, of whom saith the Apostle, "Until we all arrive at the acknowledging of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ." Therefore one man is taken to Him, to which the Head is Christ; because "the Head of the man is Christ." The same is that blessed man that "hath not departed in the counsel of ungodly men," and the like things which there are spoken of: the same is He that is taken to Him. He is not without us, in His own members we are, under one Head we are governed, by one Spirit we all live, one fatherland we all long for. ... And to us He will give what? "He shall inhabit," he saith, "in Thy courts." Jerusalem, that is, to which they sing that begin to go forth from Babylon: "He shall inhabit in Thy courts: we shall be filled with the good things of Thy House." What are the good things of the House of God? Brethren, let us set before ourselves some rich house, with what numerous good things it is crowded, how abundantly it is furnished, how many vessels there are there of gold and also of silver; how great an establishment of servants, how many horses and animals, in a word, how much the house itself delights us with pictures, marble, ceilings, pillars, recesses, chambers:--all such things are indeed objects of desire, but still they are of the confusion of Babylon, Cut off all such longings, O citizen of Jerusalem, cut them off; if thou wilt return, let not captivity delight thee. But hast thou already begun to go forth? Do not look back, do not loiter on the road. Still there are not wanting foes to recommend thee captivity and sojourning: no longer let there prevail against thee the discourses of ungodly men. For the House of God long thou, and for the good things of that House long thou: but do not long for such things as thou art wont to long for either in thy house, or in the house of thy neighbour, or in the house of thy patron. ...
8. "Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness" (ver. 5). These are the good things of that House. He hath not said, Thy holy Temple is marvellous in pillars, marvellous in marbles, marvellous in glided ceilings; but is "marvellous in righteousness." Without thou hast eyes wherewith thou mayest see marbles, and gold: within is an eye wherewith may be seen the beauty of righteousness. If there is no beauty in righteousness, why is a righteous old man loved? What bringeth he in body that may please the eyes? Crooked limbs, brow wrinkled, head blanched with gray hairs, dotage everywhere full of plaints. But perchance because thine eyes this decrepit old man pleaseth not, thine ears he pleaseth: with what words? with what song? Even if perchance when a young man he sang well, all with age hath been lost. Doth perchance the sound of his words please thine ears, that can hardly articulate whole words for loss of teeth? Nevertheless, if righteous he is, if another man's goods he coveteth not, if of his own that he possesseth he distributeth to the needy, if he giveth good advice, and soundly judgeth, if he believeth the entire faith, if for his belief in the faith he is ready to expend even those very shattered limbs, for many Martyrs are even old men; why do we love him? What good thing in him do we see with the eyes of the flesh? Not any. There is therefore a kind of beauty in righteousness, which we see with the eye of the heart, and we love, and we kindle with affection: how much men found to love in those same Martyrs, though beasts tare their limbs! Is it possible but that when blood was staining all parts. when with the teeth of monsters their bowels gushed out, the eyes had nothing but objects to shudder at? What was there to be loved, except that in that hideous spectacle of mangled limbs, entire was the beauty of righteousness? These are the good things of the House of God, with these prepare thyself to be satisfied. ... "Blessed they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." "Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness." And that same temple, brethren, do not imagine to be aught but yourselves. Love ye righteousness, and ye are the Temple of God.
9. "Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour" (ver. 5). He hath disclosed now Whom he nameth as God. The "Saviour" specially is the Lord Jesus Christ. It hath appeared now more openly of Whom he had said, "Unto Thee every flesh shall come." That One Man that is taken unto Him into the Temple of God, is both many and is One. In the person of One he hath said, "Hearken, O God, i.e., to my hunger: "3 and because the same One of many is composed, now he saith," Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour." Hear Him now more openly preached: "Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour the Hope of all the ends of the earth and in the sea afar." Behold wherefore hath been said "Unto Thee every flesh shall come." From every quarter they come. "Hope of all the ends of the earth," not hope of one corner, not hope of Judaea alone, not hope of Africa alone, not hope of Pannonia, not hope of East or of West: but "Hope of all the ends of the earth, and in the sea afar:" of the very ends of the earth. "And in the sea afar:" and because in the sea, therefore afar. For the sea by a figure is spoken of this world, with saltness bitter, with storms troubled; where men of perverse and depraved appetites have become like fishes devouring one another. Observe the evil sea, bitter sea, with waves violent, observe with what sort of men it is filled. Who desireth an inheritance except through the death of another? Who desireth gain except by the loss of another? By the fall of others how many men wish to be exalted? How many, in order that they may buy, desire for other men to sell their goods? How they mutually oppress, and how they that are able do devour! And when one fish hath devoured, the greater the less, itself also is devoured by some greater. ... Because evil fishes that were taken within the nets they said they would not endure; they themselves have become more evil than they whom they said they could not endure. For those nets did take fishes both good and evil. The Lord saith, "The kingdom of Heaven is like to a sein cast into the sea, which gathereth of every kind, which, when it had been filled, drawing out, and sitting on the shore, they gathered the good into vessels, but the evil they cast out: so it shall be," He saith, "in the consummation of the world." He showeth what is the shore, He showeth what is the end of the sea. "The angels shall go forth, and shall sever the evil from the midst of the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Ha! ye citizens of Jerusalem that are within the nets, and are good fishes; endure the evil, the nets break ye not: together with them ye are in a sea, not together with them will ye be in the vessels. For" Hope" He is "of the ends of the earth," Himself is Hope "also in the sea afar." Afar, because also in the sea.
10. "Preparing mountains in His strength" (ver. 6). Not in their strength. For He hath prepared great preachers, and those same He hath called mountains; humble in themselves, exalted in Him. "Preparing mountains in His strength." What saith one of those same mountains? "We ourselves in our own selves have had the answer of death, in order that in ourselves we should not trust, but in God that raiseth the dead." He that in himself doth trust, and in Christ trusteth not, is not of those mountains which He hath prepared in His strength. "Preparing mountains in His strength: girded about in power." "Power," I understand: "girded about," is what? They that put Christ in the midst, "girded about" they make Him, that is on all sides begirt. We all have Him in common, therefore in the midst He is: all we gird Him about that believe in Him: and because our faith is not of our strength, but of His power; therefore girded about He is in His power; not in our own strength.
11. "That troublest the bottom of the sea" (ver. 7). He hath done this: it is seen what He hath done. For He hath prepared mountains in His strength, hath sent them to preach: girded about He is by believers in power: and moved is the sea, moved is the world, and it beginneth to persecute His saints. "Girded about in power: that troublest the bottom of the sea." He hath not said, that troublest the sea; but "the bottom of the sea." The bottom of the sea is the heart of ungodly men. For just as from the bottom more thoroughly all things are stirred, and the bottom holdeth firm all things: so whatsoever hath gone forth: by tongue, by hands, by divers powers for the persecution of the Church, from the bottom hath gone forth. For if there were not the root of iniquity in the heart, all those things would not have gone forth against Christ. The bottom He troubled, perchance in order that the bottom He might also empty: for in the case of certain evil men He emptied the sea from the bottom, and made the sea a desert place. Another Psalm saith this, "That turneth sea into dry land." All ungodly and heathen men that have believed were sea, have been made land; with salt waves at first barren, afterwards with the fruit of righteousness productive. "That troublest the bottom of the sea: the sound of its waves who shall endure? "Who shall endure," is what? What man shall endure the sound of the waves of the sea, the behests of the high powers of the world? But whence are they endured? Because He prepareth mountains in His strength. In that therefore which he hath said "who shall" endure? he saith thus: We ourselves of our own selves should not be able to endure those persecutions, unless He gave strength.
12. "The nations shall be troubled" (ver. 8). At first they shall be troubled: but those mountains prepared in the strength of Christ, are they troubled? Troubled is the sea, against the mountains it dasheth: the sea breaketh, unshaken the mountains have remained. "The nations shall be troubled, and all men shall fear." Behold now all men fear: they that before have been troubled do now all fear. The Christians feared not, and now the Christians are feared. All that did persecute do now fear. For He hath overcome that is girded about with power, to Him hath come every flesh in such sort, that the rest by their very minority do now fear. And all men shall fear, that inhabit the ends of the earth, because of Thy signs. For miracles the Apostles wrought, and thence all the ends of the earth have feared and have believed. "Outgoings in morning and in evening Thou shall delight :" that is, Thou makest delightful. Already in this life what is there being promised to us? There are outgoings in morning, there are outgoings in the evening. By the morning he signifieth the prosperity of the world, by the evening he signifieth the trouble of the world. ... At first when he was promising gain, it was morning to thee: but now evening draweth on, sad thou hast become. But He that hath given thee an outgoing in the morning, will give one also in the evening. In the same manner as thou hast contemned the morning of the world by the light of the Lord, so contemn the evening also by the sufferings of the Lord, in saying to thy soul, What more will this man do to me, than my Lord hath suffered for me? May I hold fast justice, not consent to iniquity. Let him vent his rage on the flesh, the trap will be broken, and I will fly to my Lord, that saith to me, "Do not fear them that kill the body, but the soul are not able to kill." And for the body itself He hath given security, saying, "A hair of your head shall not perish." Nobly here he hath set down," "Thou wilt delight outgoings in morning and in evening." For if thou take not delight in the very outgoing, thou wilt not labour to go out thence. Thou runnest thy head into the promised gain, if thou art not delighted with the promise of the Saviour. And again thou yieldest to one tempting and terrifying, if thou find no delight in Him that suffered before thee, in order that He might make an outgoing for thee.
13. "Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it" (ver. 9). Whence hast inebriated the earth? "Thy cup inebriating how glorious it is!" "Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it." Thou hast sent Thy clouds, they have rained down the preaching of the truth, inebriated is the earth. "Thou hast multiplied to enrich it." Whence? "The river of God is filled with water." What is the river of God? The people of God. The first people was filled with water, wherewith the rest of the earth might be watered. Hear Him promising water: "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink: he that believeth on Me, rivers of living water from his belly shall flow :" if rivers, one river also; for in respect of unity many are one. Many Churches and one Church, many faithful and one Bride of Christ: so many rivers and one river. Many Israelites believed, and were fulfilled with the Holy Spirit; from thence they were scattered abroad through the nations, they began to preach the truth, and from the river of God that was filled with water, was the whole earth watered. "Thou hast prepared food for them: because thus is Thy preparing." Not because they have deserved of Thee, whom Thou hast forgiven sins: the merits of them were evil, but Thou for Thy mercy's sake, "because thus is Thy preparing," thus "Thou hast prepared food for them."
14. "The furrows thereof inebriate Thou" (ver. 10). Let there be made therefore at first furrows to be inebriated: let the hardness of our breast be opened with the share of the word of God, "The furrows thereof inebriate Thou: multiply the generations thereof." We see, they believe, and by them believing other men believe, and because of those others believe; and it is not sufficient for one man, that having become himself a believer, he should gain one. So is multiplied seed too: a few grains are scattered, and fields spring up. "In the drops thereof it shall rejoice, when it shall rise up." That is, before it be perchance enlarged to the bulk of a river, "when it shall rise up, in its drops," that is, in those meet for it, "it shall rejoice." For upon those that are yet babes, and upon the weak, are dropped some portions of the sacraments, because they cannot receive the fulness of the truth. Hear in what manner he droppeth upon babes, while they are rising up, that is, in their recent rising having small capacities: the Apostle saith, "To you I could not speak as if to spiritual, but as if to carnal, as if to babes in Christ." When he saith, "to babes in Christ," he speaketh of them as already risen up, but not yet meet to receive that plenteous wisdom, whereof he saith, "Wisdom we speak among perfect men." Let it rejoice in its drops, while it is rising up and is growing, when strengthened it shall receive wisdom also: in the same manner as an infant is fed with milk, and becometh fit for meat, and nevertheless at first out of that very meat for which it was not fit, for it milk is made.
15. "Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness" (ver. 11 ). Seed is now sowing, that which is sown is growing, there will be the harvest too. And now over the seed the enemy hath sown tares; and there have risen up evil ones among the good, false Christians, having like leaf, but not like fruit. For those are properly called tares, which spring up in the manner of wheat, for instance darnel, for instance wild oats, and all such as have the first leaf the same. Therefore of the sowing of the tares thus saith the Lord: "There hath come an enemy, and hath sown over them tares; "4 but what hath he done to the grain? The wheat is not choked by the tares, nay, through endurance of the tares the fruit of the wheat is increased. For the Lord Himself said to certain workmen desiring to root up the tares, "Suffer ye both to grow unto the harvest." ... Conquer the devil, and thou wilt have a crown. "Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness." Again he maketh reference to the goodness of God, lest any one boast of his own merits. "Thy plains shall be filled with abundance."
16. "The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and the hills shall be encircled with exultation" (ver. 12). Plains, hills, ends of the desert, the same are also men. Plains, because of the equality: because of equality, I say, from thence just peoples have been called plains. Hills, because of lifting up: because God doth lift up in Himself those that humble themselves. Ends of the desert are all nations. Wherefore ends of the desert? Deserted they were, to them no Prophet had been sent they were in like case as is a desert where no man passeth by. No word of God was sent to the nations: to the people Israel alone the Prophets preached. We came to the Lord; the wheat believed among that same people of the Jews. For He said at that time to the disciples, "Ye say, far off is the harvest: look back, and see how white are the lands to harvest." There hath been therefore a first harvest, there will be a second in the last age. The first harvest was of Jews, because there were sent to them Prophets proclaiming a coming Saviour. Therefore the Lord said to His disciples, "See how white are the lands to harvest:" the lands, to wit, of Judaea. "Other men," He saith, "have laboured, and into their labours ye have entered." The Prophets laboured to sow, and ye with the sickle have entered into their labours. There hath been finished therefore the first harvest, and thence, with that very wheat which then was purged, hath been sown the round world; so that there ariseth an other harvest, which at the end is to be reaped. In the second harvest have been sown tares, now here there is labour. Just as in that first harvest the Prophets laboured until the Lord came: so in that second harvest the Apostles laboured, and all preachers of the truth labour, even until at the end the Lord send unto the harvest His Angels. Aforetime, I say, a desert there was, "but the ends of the desert shall grow fat." Behold where the Prophets had given no sound, the Lord of the Prophets hath been received, "The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and with exultation the hills shall be encircled."
17. "Clothed have been the rams of the sheep" (ver. 13): "with exultation" must be understood. For with what exultation the hills are encircled, with the same are clothed the rams of the sheep. Rams are the very same as hills. For hills they are because of more eminent grace; rams, because they are leaders of the flocks. ... "They shall shout:" thence they shall abound with wheat, because they shall shout. What shall they shout? "For a hymn they shall say." For one thing it is to shout against God, another thing to say a hymn; one thing to shout iniquities, another thing to shout the praises of God. If thou shout in blasphemy, thorns thou hast brought forth: if thou shoutest in a hymn, thou aboundest in wheat.
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