Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 66 - 68

PSALM 66

1. This Psalm hath on the title the inscription, "For the end, a song of a Psalm of Resurrection." When ye hear "for the end," whenever the Psalms are repeated, understand it "for Christ:" the Apostle saying, "For the end of the law is Christ, for righteousness to every one believing."[2] In what manner therefore here Resurrection is sung, ye wilt hear, and whose Resurrection it is, as far as Himself deigneth to give and disclose. For the Resurrection we Christians know already hath come to pass in our Head, and in the members it is to be. The Head of the Church is Christ? the members of Christ are the Church. That which hath preceded in the Head, will follow in the Body. This is our hope; for this we believe, for this we endure and persevere amid so great perverseness of this world, hope comforting us, before that hope becometh reality. ... The Jews did hold the hope of the resurrection of the dead: and they hoped that themselves alone would rise again to a blessed life because of the work of the Law, and because of the justifications of the Scriptures, which the Jews alone had, and the Gentiles had not. Crucified was Christ, "blindness in part happened unto Israel, in order that the fulness of the Gentiles might enter in:"[4] as the Apostle saith. The resurrection of the dead beginneth to be promised to the Gentiles also that believe in Jesus Christ, that He hath risen again. Thence this Psalm is against the presumption and pride of the Jews, for the comfort of the Gentiles that are to be called to the same hope of resurrection.

2. ... Thence he beginneth, "Be joyful in God." Who? "Every land" (ver. 1). Not therefore Judaea alone. See, brethren, after what sort is set forth the universality of the Church in the whole world spread abroad: and mourn ye not only the Jews, who envied the Gentiles that grace, but still more for heretics wail ye. For if they are to be mourned, that have not been gathered together, how much more they that being gathered together have been divided? "Jubilate in God every land." What is "jubilate"? Into the voice of rejoicings break forth if ye cannot into that of words. For "jubilation" is not of words, but the sound alone of men rejoicing is uttered, as of a heart labouring and bringing forth into voice the pleasure of a thing imagined which cannot be expressed. "Be joyful in God every land:" let no one jubilate in a part: let every land be joyful, let the Catholic Church jubilate. The Catholic Church embraceth the whole: whosoever holdeth a part and from the whole is cut off, should howl, not jubilate.

3. "But play ye to His name" (ver. 2). What hath he said? By you "playing" let His name be blessed. But what it is to "play"? To play is also to take up an instrument which is called a psaltery, and by the striking and action of the hands to accompany voices. If therefore ye jubilate so that God may hear; play also something that men may both see and hear: but not to your own name. ... For if for the sake of yourselves being glorified ye do good works, we make the same reply as He made to certain of such men, "Verily I say unto you, they have received their reward: "[5] and again, "Otherwise no reward ye will have with your Father that is in Heaven."[6] Thou wilt say, ought I, then, to hide my works, that I do them not before men? No. But what saith He? "Let your works shine before men." In doubt then I shall remain. On one side Thou sayest to me, "Take heed that ye do not your righteousness before men: on the other side Thou sayest to me, "Let your good works shine before men;" what shall I keep? what do? what leave undone? A man can as well serve two masters commanding different things as one commanding different things. I command not, saith the Lord, different things. The end observe, for the end sing: with what end thou doest it, see thou. If for this reason thou doest it, that thou mayest be glorified, I have forbidden it: but if for this reason, that God may be glorified, I have commanded it. Play therefore, not to your own name, but to the name of the Lord your God. Play ye, let Him be lauded: live ye well, let Him be glorified. For whence have ye that same living well? If for everlasting ye had had it, ye would never have lived ill; if from yourselves ye had had it, ye never would have done otherwise than have lived well. "Give glory to His praise." Our whole attention upon the praise of God he directeth, nothing for us he leaveth whence we should be praised. Let us glory thence the more, and rejoice: to Him let us cleave, in Him let us be praised. Ye heard when the Apostle was being read, "See ye your calling, brethren, how not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, but the foolish things of the world God hath chosen to confound the wise."[7] ... But the Lord chose afterwards orators also; but they would have been proud, if He had not first chosen fishermen; He chose rich men; but they would have said that on account of their riches they had been chosen, unless at first He had chosen poor men: He chose Emperors afterwards; but better is it, that when an Emperor hath come to Rome, he should lay aside his crown, and weep at the monument of a fisherman, than that a fisherman should weep at the monument of an Emperor. "For the weak things of the world God hath chosen to confound the strong," etc.[1] ... And what followeth? The Apostle hath concluded, "That there might not glory before God any flesh." See ye how from us He hath taken away, that He might give glory: hath taken away ours, that He might give His own; hath taken away empty, that He might give full; hath taken away insecure, that He might give solid. ...

4. "Say ye to God, How to be feared are Thy works!" (ver. 3). Wherefore to be feared and not to be loved? Hear thou another voice of a Psalm: "Serve ye the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling."[2] What meaneth this? Hear the voice of the Apostle: "With fear," he saith, "and trembling, your own salvation work ye out." 3 Wherefore with fear and trembling? He hath subjoined the reason: "for God it is that worketh in you both to will and to work according to good will."[4] If therefore God worketh in thee, by the Grace of God thou workest well, not by thy strength. Therefore if thou rejoicest, fear also: lest perchance that which was given to a humble man be taken away from a proud one. ...Brethren, if against the Jews of old, cut off from the root of the Patriarchs, we ought not to exalt ourselves, but rather to fear and say to God, "How to be feared are Thy works:" how much less ought we not to exalt ourselves against the fresh wounds of the cutting off! Before there had been cut off Jews, graffed in Gentiles; from the very graft there have been cut off heretics; but neither against them ought we to exalt ourselves; lest perchance he deserve to be cut off, that delighteth to revile them that are cut off. My brethren, a bishop's voice, however unworthy, hath sounded to you:[5] we pray you to beware, whosoever ye are in the Church, do not revile them that are not within; but pray ye rather, that they too may be within. For God is able again to graft them in.[6] Of the very Jews the Apostle said this, and it was done in their case. The Lord rose again, and many believed: they perceived not when they crucified, nevertheless afterwards they believed in Him, and there was forgiven them so great a transgression. The shedding of the Lord's blood was forgiven the manslayers, not to say, God-slayers: "for if they had known, the Lord of glory they never would have crucified."[7] Now to the manslayers hath been forgiven the shedding of the blood of Him innocent: and that same blood which through madness they shed, through grace they have drunk. ...O fulness of Gentiles, say thou to God, "How to be feared are Thy works!" and so rejoice thou as that thou mayest fear, be not exalted above the branches cut off.

5. "In the multitude of thy power Thine enemies shall lie to Thee." For this purpose he saith, "to Thee thine enemies shall lie," in order that great may be Thy power. What is this? With more attention hearken. The power of our Lord Jesus Christ most chiefly appeared in the Resurrection, from whence this Psalm hath received its title. And rising again, He appeared to His disciples.[8] He appeared not to His enemies, but to His disciples. Crucified He appeared to all men, rising again to believers: so that afterwards also he that would might believe, and to him that should believe, resurrection might be promised. Many holy men wrought many miracles; no one of them when dead did rise again: because even they that by them were raised to life, were raised to life to die. ... Because therefore the Jews might say, when the Lord did miracles, Moses hath done these things, Elias hath done, Eliseus hath done them: they might for themselves say these words, because those men also did raise to life dead men, and did many miracles: therefore when from Him a sign was demanded, of the peculiar sign making mention which in Himself alone was to be, He saith, "This generation crooked and provoking[9] seeketh a sign, and a sign shall not be given to it, except the sign of Jonas the Prophet: for as Jonas was in the belly of the whale three days and three nights, so shall be also the Son of Man in the heart of the earth three days and three nights."[10] In what way was Jonas in the belly of the whale? Was it not so that afterwards alive he was vomited out? Hell[11] was to the Lord what the whale was to Jonas. This sign peculiar to Himself He mentioned, this is the most mighty sign. It is more mighty to live again after having been dead, than not to have been dead. The greatness of the power of the Lord as He was made Man, in the virtue of the Resurrection doth appear. ...

6. Observe also the very lie of the false witnesses in the Gospel, and see how it is about Resurrection. For when to the Lord had been said, "What sign showest Thou to us, that Thou doest these things?"[12] besides that which He had spoken about Jonah[13] through another similitude of this same thing also He spake, that ye might know this peculiar sign had been especially pointed out: "Destroy this Temple," He saith, "and in three days I will raise it up." And they said, "In forty and six years was builded this temple, and wilt Thou in three days raise it up?"[1] And the evangelist explaining what it was," But this," he saith, "spake Jesus of the Temple of His Body."[2] Behold this His power He said He would show to men in the same thing as that from whence He had given the similitude of a Temple, because of His flesh. which was the Temple of the Divinity hidden within. Whence the Jews outwardly saw the Temple, the Deity dwelling within they saw not. Out of those words of the LOrd false witnesses made up a lie to say against Him, out of those very words wherein He mentioned His future Resurrection, in speaking of the Temple. For false witnesses, when they were asked what they had heard Him say, alleged against Him: "We heard Him saying, I will destroy this Temple, and after three days I will raise it up."[3] "After three days I will raise up," they had heard: "I will destroy," they had not heard: but had heard "destroy ye." One word they changed and a few letters, in order to support their false testimony. But for whom changest thou a word, O human vanity, O human weakness? For the Word, the Unchangeable, dost thou change a word? Thou changest thy word, dost thou change God's Word? ... Whereforé said they that Thou hadst said, "I will destroy;" and said not that which Thou saidest, "destroy ye"? It was, as it were, in order that they might defend themselves from the charge of destroying the Temple without cause. For Christ, because He willed it, died: and nevertheless ye killed Him. Behold we grant you, O ye liars, Himself destroyed the Temple. For it hath been said by the Apostle, "That loved me, and gave up Himself for me."[4] It hath been said of the Father, "That His own Son spared not, but gave Him up for us all."[5] ... By all means be it that Himself destroyed the Temple, Himself destroyed that said, "Power I have to lay down My Soul[6] and power I have again to take it: no one taketh it from Me, but I Myself lay it down from Me, and again I take it."[7] Be it that Himself hath destroyed the Temple in His Grace, in your malice. "In the multitude of Thy power thine enemies shall lie to Thee." Behold they lie, behold they are believed, behold Thou art oppressed, behold Thou art crucified, behold Thou art insulted, behold head is wagged at Thee, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross."[8] Behold when Thou wilt, life Thou layest down, and with lance in the side art pierced, and Sacraments from Thy side flow forth;[9] Thou art taken down from the Tree, wound in linens, laid in the sepulchre, there are set guards lest Thy disciples take Thee away; there cometh the hour of Thy Resurrection, earth is shaken, tombs are cloven, Thou risest again in secret, appearest openly. Where then are those liars? Where is the false testimony of evil will? Have not Thine enemies in the multitude of Thy power lied to Thee?

7. Give them also those guards at the Tomb, let them recount what they have seen, let them take money and lie too.[10] ... They too were added to the lie of the enemies: increased was the number of liars, that increased might be the reward of believers. Therefore they lied, "in the multitude of Thy power" they lied: to confound liars Thou hast appeared to men of truth, and Thou hast appeared to those men of truth whom Thou hast made men of truth.

8. Let Jews remain in their lies: to Thee, because in the multitude of Thy power they lied, let there be done that which followeth, "Let every land worship Thee, and play to Thee, play to Thy name, O Most Highest" (ver. 4). A little before, Most Lowly, now Most Highest: Most Lowly in the hands of lying enemies; Most Highest above the head of praising Angels. O ye Gentiles, O most distant nations, leave lying Jews, come confessing. "Come ye, and see the works of the Lord: terrible in counsels above the sons of men" (ver. 5). Son of Man indeed He too hath been called, and verily Son of Man He became: very Son of God in the form of God;[11] very Son of Man in form of a servant: but do not judge of that form by the condition of others alike: "terrible" He is "in counsels above the sons of men." Sons of men took counsel to crucify Christ, being crucified He blinded the crucifiers. What then have ye done, sons of men, by taking keen counsels against your Lord, in whom was hidden Majesty, and to sight shown weakness? Ye were taking counsels to destroy, He to blind and save; to blind proud men, to save humble men: but to blind those same proud men, to the end that, being blinded they might be humbled, being humbled might confess, having confessed might be enlightened. "Terrible in counsels above the sons of men." Terrible indeed. Behold blindness in part to Israel hath happened:[12] behold the Jews, out of whom was born Christ, are without: behold the Gentiles, that were against Judaea, in Christ are within. "Terrible in counsels above the sons of men."

9. Wherefore what hath He done by the terror of His counsel? He hath turned the sea into dry land. For this followeth, "That hath turned the sea into dry land" (ver. 6). A sea was the world, bitter with saltness, troubled with tempest, raging with waves of persecutions, sea it was: truly into dry land the sea hath been turned, now there thirsteth for sweet water the world that with salt water was filled. Who hath done this? He "that hath turned the sea into dry land." Now the soul of all the Gentiles saith what? "My soul is as it were land without water to Thee."[1] "That hath turned the sea into dry land. In the river they shall pass over on foot." Those same persons that have been turned into dry land, though they were before sea, "in the river on foot shall pass over." What is the river? The river is all the mortality of the world. Observe a river: some things come and pass by, other things that are to pass by do succeed. Is it not thus with the water of a river, that from earth springeth and floweth? Every one that is born must needs give place to one going to be born: and all this order of things rolling along is a kind of river. Into this river let not the soul greedily throw herself, let her not throw herself, but let her stand still. And how shall she pass over the pleasures of things doomed to perish? Let her believe in Christ, and she will pass over on foot: she passeth over with Him for Leader, on foot she passeth over.

10. "There we will be joyous in Him." O ye Jews, of your own works boast ye: lay aside the pride of boasting of yourselves, take up the Grace of being joyous in Christ. For therein we will be joyous, but not in ourselves: "there we will be joyous in Him." When shall we joy? When we shall have passed over the river on foot. Life everlasting is promised, resurrection is promised, there our flesh no longer shall be a river: for a river it is now, while it is mortality. Observe whether there standeth still any age. Boys desire to grow up; and they know not how by succeeding years the span of their life is lessened. For years are not added to but taken from them as they grow: just as the water of a river alway draweth near, but from the source it withdraweth. And boys desire to grow up that they may escape the thraldom of elders; behold they grow up, it cometh to pass quickly, they arrive at youth: let them that have emerged from boyhood retain, if they are able, their youth: that too passeth away. Old age succeedeth:[2] let even old age be everlasting; with death it is removed. Therefore a river there is[3] of flesh that is born. This river of mortality, so that it doth not by reason of concupiscence of things mortal undermine and carry him away, he easily passeth over, that humbly, that is on foot, passeth over, He being leader that first hath passed over, that of the flood in the way even unto death hath drunk, and therefore hath lifted up the head.[4] Passing over therefore on foot that river, that is, easily passing over that mortality that glideth along, "there we will be joyous in Him." But now in what save in Him, or in the hope of Him? For even if we are joyous now, in hope we are joyous; but then in Him we shall be joyous. And now in Him, but through hope: "but then face to face."[5] "There we will be joyous in Him."

11. In whom? "In Him that reigneth in His virtue for everlasting" (ver. 7). For what virtue have we? and is it everlasting? If everlasting were our virtue, we should not have slipped, should not have fallen into sin, we should not have deserved penal mortality. He, of His good pleasure, took up that whereunto our desert threw us down.[6] "That reigneth in His virtue for everlasting." Of Him partakers let us be made, in whose virtue we shall be strong, but He in His own. We enlightened, He a light enlightening: we, being turned away from Him, are in darkness; turned away from Himself He cannot be. With the heat of Him we are warmed; from whence withdrawing we had grown cold, to the Same drawing near again we are warmed. Therefore let us speak to Him that He may keep us in His virtue, because "in Him we will be joyous that reigneth in His virtue for everlasting."

12. But this thing is not granted to believing Jews alone. ... "The eyes of Him do look upon the Gentiles." And what do we? The Jews will murmur; the Jews will say, "what He hath given to us, the same to them also; to us Gospel, to them Gospel; to us the Grace of Resurrection, and to them the Grace of Resurrection; doth it profit us nothing that we have received the Law, and that in the justifications of the Law we have lived, and have kept the commandments of the fathers? Nothing will it avail? The same to them as to us." Let them not strive, let them not dispute. "Let not them that are bitter be exalted in their own selves."[7] O flesh miserable and wasting, art thou not sinful? Why crieth out thy tongue? Let the conscience be listened to. "For all men have sinned, and need the glory of God."[8] Know thyself, human weakness. Thou didst receive the Law, in order that a transgressor also of the Law thou mightest be:[9] for thou hast not kept and fulfilled that which thou didst receive. There hath come to thee because of the Law, not the justification which the Law enjoineth, but the transgression which thou hast done. If therefore there hath abounded sin, why enviest thou Grace more abounding. Be not bitter, for "let not them that are bitter be exalted in their own selves." He seemeth in a manner to have uttered a curse in "Let not them that are bitter be exalted;" yea, be they exalted, but not "in themselves." Let them be humbled in themselves, exalted in Christ. For, "he that humbleth himself shall be exalted; and he that exalteth himself shall be humbled."[1] "Let not them that are bitter be exalted in their own selves."

13. "Bless our God, ye nations" (ver. 8). Behold, there have been driven back they that are bitter, reckoning hath been made with them: some have been converted, some have continued proud. Let not them terrify you that grudge the Gentiles Gospel Grace: now hath come the Seed of Abraham, in whom are blessed all nations.[2] Bless ye Him in, whom ye are blessed, "Bless our God, ye nations: and hear ye the voice of His praise." Praise not yourselves, but praise Him. What is the voice of His praise? That by His Grace we are whatever of good we are. "Who hath set my Soul unto life" (ver. 9) Behold the voice of his praise: "Who hath set my Soul unto life." Therefore in death she was: in death she was, in thyself. Thence it is that ye ought not to have been exalted in yourselves. Therefore in death she was, in thyself: where will it be in life, save in Him that said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life "?[3] Just as to certain believers the Apostle saith, "Ye were sometime darkness, but now light in the Lord."[4] ... "And hath not given unto motion my feet." He hath set my Soul unto life, He guideth the feet that they stumble not, be not moved and given unto motion; He maketh us to live, He maketh us to persevere even unto the end, in order that for everlasting we may live. ...

14. "For thou hast proved us, O God; Thou hast fired us as silver is fired" (ver. 10). Hast not fired us like hay, but like silver: by applying to us fire, Thou hast not turned us into ashes, but Thou hast washed off uncleanness, "Thou hast fired us, as silver is fired." And see in what manner God is wroth against them, whose Soul He hath set unto life. "Thou hast led us into a trap:" not that we might be caught and die, but that we might be tried and delivered from it. "Thou hast laid tribulations upon our back." For having been to ill purpose lifted up, proud we were: having been to ill purpose lifted up, we were bowed down, in order that being bowed down, we should be lifted up for good. "Thou hast laid tribulations on our back:" "Thou hast set men over our heads" (ver. 11). All these things the Church hath suffered in sundry and divers persecutions: She hath suffered this in Her individual members, even now doth suffer it. For there is not one, that in this life could say that he was exempt from these trials. Therefore there are set even men over our heads: we endure those whom we would not, we suffer for our betters those whom we know to be worse. But if sins be wanting, a man is justly superior: but by how much there are more sins, by so much he is inferior. And it is a good thing to consider ourselves to be sinners, and thus endure men set over our heads: in order that we also to God may confess that deservedly we suffer. For why dost thou suffer with indignation that which He doeth who is just? "Thou hast laid tribulations upon our back: Thou hast set men over our heads." God seemeth to be wroth, when He doeth these things: fear not, for a Father He is, He is never so wroth as to destroy. When ill thou livest, if He spareth, He is more angry. In a word, these tribulations are the rods of Him correcting, lest there be a sentence from Him punishing. ...

15. "We have passed through fire and water." Fire and water are both dangerous in this life. Certainly water seemeth to extinguish fire, and fire seemeth to dry up water. Thus also these are the trials, wherein aboundeth this life. Fire burneth, water corrupteth: both must be feared, both the burning of tribulation and the water of corruption. Whenever there is adversity, and anything which is called unhappiness in this world, there is as it were fire: whenever there is prosperity, and the world's plenty floweth about one, there is as it were water. See that fire burn thee not, nor water corrupt. ... Hasten not to the water: through fire pass over to the water, that thou mayest pass over the water also. Therefore also in the mystic rites[5] and in catechising and in exorcising,[6] there is first used fire. For whence ofttimes do the unclean spirits cry out, "I burn," if that is not fire? But after the fire of Exorcism we come to Baptism: so that from fire to water, from water unto refreshment. But as in the Sacraments, so it is in the temptations of this world: the straitness of fear draweth near first, in place of fire; afterwards fear being removed, we ought to be afraid lest worldly happiness corrupt. But when the fire hath not made thee burst, and when thou hast not sunk in the water, but hast swum out; through discipline thou passest over to rest, and passing over through fire and water, thou art led forth into a place of refreshment. For of those things whereof the signs are in the Sacraments, there are the very realities in that perfection of life everlasting. ... But we are not torpid there, but we rest: nor though it be called heat, shall we be hot there, but we shall be fervent in spirit. Observe that same heat in another Psalm: "nor is there any one that hideth himself from the heat thereof."[1] What saith also the Apostle? "In spirit fervent."[2] Therefore, "we have gone over through fire and water: and Thou hast led us forth into a cool place."

16. Observe how not only concerning a cool place, but neither of that very fire to be desired he hath been silent: "I will enter into Thy House in holocausts" (ver. 13). What is a holocaust? A whole sacrifice burned up, but with fire divine. For a sacrifice is called a holocaust, when the whole is burned. One thing are the parts of sacrifices, another thing a holocaust when the whole is burned and the whole consumed by fire divine, it is called a holocaust: when a part, a sacrifice. Every holocaust indeed is a sacrifice: but not every sacrifice a holocaust. Holocausts therefore he is promising, the Body of Christ is speaking, the Unity of Christ is speaking, "I will enter into Thy House in holocausts." All that is mine let Thy fire consume, let nothing of mine remain to me, let all be Thine. But this shall be in the Resurrection of just men, "when both this corruptible shall be clad in incorruption, and this mortal shall be clad in immortality: then shall come to pass that which hath been written, 'Death is swallowed up in victory.'"[3] Victory is, as it were, fire divine: when it swalloweth up our death also, it is a holocaust. There remaineth not anything mortal in the flesh, there remaineth not anything culpable in the spirit: the whole of mortal life shall be consumed, in order that in life everlasting it may be consummated, that from death we may be preserved in life.[4] These therefore will be the holocausts. And what shall there be "in the holocausts"?

17. "I will render to Thee my vows, which my lips have distinguished" (ver. 14). What is the distinction in vows? This is the distinction, that thyself thou censure, Him thou praise: perceive thyself to be a creature, Him the Creator: thyself darkness, Him the Enlightener, to whom thou shouldest say, "Thou shall light my lamp, O Lord my God, Thou shalt enlighten my darkness."[5] For whenever thou shalt have said, O soul, that from thyself thou hast light, thou wilt not distinguish. If thou wilt not distinguish, thou wilt not render distinct vows. Render distinct vows, confess thyself changeable, Him unchangeable: confess thyself without Him to be nothing, but Himself without thee to be perfect; thyself to need Him, but Him not to need thee. Cry to Him, "I have said to the Lord, My God art Thou, for my good things Thou needest not."[6] Now though God taketh thee to Him for a holocaust, He groweth not, He is not increased, He is not richer, He becometh not better furnished: whatsoever He maketh of thee for thy sake, is the better for thee, not for Him that maketh. If thou distinguishest these things, thou renderest the vows to thy God which thy lips have distinguished.

18. "And my mouth hath spoken in my tribulation." How sweet ofttimes is tribulation, how necessary! In that case what hath the mouth of the same spoken in his tribulation? "Holocausts marrowed I will offer to Thee" (ver. 15). What is "marrowed"? Within may I keep Thy love, it shall not be on the surface, in my marrow it shall be that I love Thee. For there is nothing more inward than our marrow: the bones are more inward than the flesh, the marrow is more inward than those same bones. Whosoever therefore on the surface loveth God, desireth rather to please men, but having some other affection within, he offereth not holocausts of marrow: but into whosesoever marrow He looketh, him He receiveth whole. "With incense and rams." The rams are the rulers of the Church: the whole Body of Christ is speaking: this is the thing which he offereth to God. Incense[7] is what? Prayer. "With incense and rams." For especially the rams do pray for the flocks. "I will offer to Thee oxen with he-goats." Oxen we find treading out corn, and the same are offered to God. The Apostle hath said, that of the preachers of the Gospel must be understood that which hath been written, "Of the ox treading out corn the mouth thou shalt not muzzle. Doth God care for oxen?"[8] Therefore great are those rams, great the oxen. What of the rest, that perchance are conscious of certain sins, that perchance in the very road have slipped, and, having been wounded, by penitence are being healed? Shall they too continue, and to the holocausts shall they not belong? Let them not fear, he hath added he-goats also. "I will offer to Thee oxen with he-goats." By the very yoking are saved the he-goats; of themselves they have no strength, being yoked to bulls they are accepted. For they have made friends of the mammon of iniquity, that the same may receive them into everlasting tabernacles? Therefore those he-goats shall not be on the left, because they have made to themselves friends of the mammon of iniquity. But what he-goats shall be on the left? They to whom shall be said, "I hungred, and ye gave me not to eat:"[10] not they that have redeemed their sins by almsdeeds.

19. "Come ye, hear, and I will tell, all ye that fear God" (ver. 16). Let us come, let us hear, what he is going to tell, "Come ye, hear, and I will tell." But to whom," Come ye, and hear"? "All ye that fear God." If God ye fear not, I will not tell. It is not possible that it be told to any where the fear of God is not. Let the fear of God open the ears, that there may be something to enter in, and a way whereby may enter in that which I am going to tell. But what is he going to tell? "How great things He hath done to my soul." Behold, he would tell: but what is he going to tell? Is it perchance how widely the earth is spread, how much the sky is extended, and how many are the stars, and what are the changes of sun and of moon? This creation fulfilleth its course: but they have very curiously sought it out, the Creator thereof have not known.[1] This thing hear, this thing receive, "O ye that fear God, how great things He hath done to my soul:" if ye will, to yours also. "How great things He hath done to my soul." "To Him with my mouth I have cried" (ver. 17). "And this very thing, he saith, hath been done to his soul; that to Him with his mouth he should cry, hath been done, he saith, to his soul. Behold, brethren, Gentiles we were, even if not in ourselves, in our parents. And what saith the Apostle? "Ye know, when Gentiles ye were, to idols without speech how ye went up, being led."[2] Let the Church now say, "how great things He hath done to my soul." "To Him with my mouth I have cried." I a man to a stone was crying, to a deaf stock I was crying, to idols deaf and dumb I was speaking: now the image of God hath been turned to the Creator thereof. I that was "saying to a stock, My father thou art; and to a stone, Thou hast begotten me:"[3] now say, "Our Father, which art in Heaven."[4] ... "To Him with my mouth I have cried, and I have exalted Him under my tongue." See how in secret He would be uncorrupt that offereth marrowed holocausts. This do ye, brethren, this imitate, so that ye may say, "Come ye, see how great things He hath done to my soul." For all those things of which he telleth, by His Grace are done in our soul. See the other things of which he speaketh.

20. "If I have beheld iniquity in my heart, may not the Lord hearken" (ver. 18). Consider now, brethren, how easily, how daily men blushing for fear of men do censure iniquities; He hath done ill, He hath done basely, a villain the fellow is: this perchance for man's sake he saith. See whether thou beholdest no iniquity in thy heart, whether perchance that which thou censurest in another, thou art meditating to do, and therefore against him dost exclaim, not because he hath done it, but because he hath been found out. Return to thyself, within be to thyself a judge. Behold in thy hid chamber, in the very inmost recess of the heart, where thou and He that seeth are alone, there let iniquity be displeasing to thee, in order that thou mayest be pleasing to God. Do not regard it, that is, do not love it, but rather despise it, that is, contemn it, and turn away from it. Whatever pleasing thing it hath promised to allure thee to sin; whatever grievous thing it hath threatened, to drive thee on to evil doing; all is nought, all passeth away: it is worthy to be despised, in order that it may be trampled upon; not to be eyed lest it be accepted.[5] ...

21. "Therefore God hath hearkened to me" (ver. 19). Because I have not beheld iniquity in my heart. "And He hath listened to the voice of my prayer." "Blessed be my God, that hath not thrust away my supplication and His mercy from me" (ver. 20). Gather the sense from that place, where he saith, "Come ye, hear, and I will tell you, all ye that fear God, how great things He hath done to my soul:"[6] he hath both said the words which ye have heard, and at the end thus he hath concluded: "Blessed be my God, that hath not thrust away my supplication and His mercy from me." For thus there arriveth at the Resurrection he that speaketh, where already we also are by hope: yea both it is we ourselves, and this voice is ours. So long therefore as here we are, this let us ask of God, that He thrust not from us our supplication, and His mercy, that is, that we pray continually, and He continually pity. For many become feeble in praying, and in the newness of their own conversion pray fervently, afterwards feebly, afterwards coldly, afterwards negligently: as if they have become secure. The foe watcheth: thou sleepest. The Lord Himself hath given commandment in the Gospel, how "it behoveth men always to pray and not to faint."[7] And he giveth a comparison from that unjust judge, who neither feared God, nor regarded man, whom that widow daily importuned to hear her; and he yielded for weariness, that was not influenced by pity: and the naughty judge saith to himself, "Though neither God I fear, nor men I regard, even because of the weariness which this widow daily putteth upon me, I will hear her cause, and will avenge her." And the Lord saith, "If a naughty judge hath done this, shall not your Father avenge His chosen, that to Him do cry day and night? Yea, I say unto you, He shall make judgment of them speedily." Therefore let us not hint m prayer. Though He putteth off what He is going to grant, He putteth it not away: being secure of His promise, let us not faint in praying, and this is by His goodness. Therefore he hath said, "Blessed is my God, that hath not thrust away my supplication and His mercy from me." When thou hast seen thy supplication "not thrust away from thee," be secure, that His mercy hath not been thrust away from thee.



PSALM 67

1. Your Love remembereth, that in two Psalms? which have been already treated of, we have stirred up our soul to bless the Lord, and with godly chant have said, "Bless thou, O my soul, the Lord." If therefore we have stirred up our soul in those Psalms to bless the Lord, in this Psalm is well said, "May God have pity on us, and bless us" (ver. 1). Let our soul bless the Lord, and let God bless us. When God blesseth us, we grow, and when we bless the Lord, we grow, to us both are profitable. He is not increased by our blessing, nor is He lessened by our cursing. He that curseth the Lord, is himself lessened: he that blesseth the Lord, is himself increased. First, there is in us the blessing of the Lord, and the consequence is that we also bless the Lord. That is the rain, this the fruit. Therefore there is rendered as it were fruit to God the Husbandman, raining upon and tilling us. Let us chant these words with no barren devotion, with no empty voice, but with true heart. For most evidently God the Father hath been called a Husbandman.[3] The Apostle saith, "God's husbandry ye are, God's building ye are."[4] In things visible of this world, the vine is not a building, and a building is not a vineyard: but we are the vineyard of the Lord, because He tilleth us for fruit; the building of God we are, since He who tilleth us, dwelleth in us. And what saith the same Apostle? "I have planted, Apollos hath watered, but the increase God hath given. Therefore neither he that planteth is anything, nor he that watereth, but He that giveth the increase, even God."[5] He it is therefore that giveth the increase. Are those perchance the husbandmen? For a husbandman he is called that planteth, that watereth: but the Apostle hath said, "I have planted, Apollos hath watered." Do we enquire whence himself hath done this? The Apostle maketh answer, "Yet not I, but the Grace of God with me."[6] Therefore whithersoever thou turn thee, whether through Angels, thou wilt find God thy Husbandman; whether through Prophets, the Same is thy Husbandman; whether through Apostles, the very Same acknowledge to be thy Husbandman. What then of us? Perchance we are the labourers of that Husbandman, and this too with powers imparted by Himself, and by Grace granted by Himself. ...

2. "Lighten His countenance upon us." Thou wast perchance going to enquire, what is "bless us"? In many ways men would have themselves to be blessed of God: one would have himself to be blessed, so that he may have a house full of the necessary things of this life; another desireth himself to be blessed, so that he may obtain soundness of body without flaw; another would have himself to be blessed, if perchance he is sick, so that he may acquire soundness; another longing for sons, and perchance being sorrowful because none are born, would have himself to be blessed so that he may have posterity. And who could number the divers wishes of men desiring themselves to be blessed of the Lord God? But which of us would say, that it was no blessing of God, if either husbandry should bring him fruit, or if any man's house should abound in plenty of things temporal, or if the very bodily health be either so maintained that it be not lost, or, if lost, be regained? ...

3. "Every soul that is blessed is simple," 7 not cleaving to things earthly nor with glued wings grovelling, but beaming with the brightness of virtues, on the twin wings of twin love doth spring into the free air; and seeth how from her is withdrawn that whereon she was treading, not that whereon she was resting, and she saith securely, "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord, so hath been done: be the name of the Lord blessed." ... But let not perchance any weak man say, when shall I be of so great virtue, as was holy Job? The mightiness of the tree thou wonderest at, because but now thou hast been born: this great tree, whereat thou wonderest, under the branches and shade whereof thou coolest thyself, hath been a switch. But dost thou fear lest there be taken away from thee these things, when such thou shalt have become? Observe that they are taken away from evil men also. Why therefore dost thou delay conversion? That which thou fearest when good to lose, perchance if evil thou wilt lose still. If being good thou shalt have lost them, there is by thee the Comforter that hath taken them away: the coffer is emptied of gold; the heart is full of faith: without, poor thou art, but within, rich thou art: thy riches with thee thou carriest, which thou wouldest not lose, even if naked from shipwreck thou shouldest escape. Why doth not the loss, that perchance, if evil, thou wilt lose, find thee good; forasmuch as thou seest evil men also suffer loss? But with greater loss they are stricken: empty is the house, more empty the conscience is. Whatsoever evil man shall have lost these things, hath nothing to hold by without, hath nothing within whereon he may rest. He fleeth when he hath suffered loss from the place where before the eyes of men with the display of riches he used to vaunt himself; now in the eyes of men to vaunt himself he is not able: to himself within he returneth not, because he hath nothing. He hath not imitated the ant, he hath not gathered to himself grains, while it was summer.[1] What have I meant by, while it was summer? While he had quietude of life, while he had this world's prosperity, when he had leisure, when happy he was being called by all men, his summer it was. He should have imitated the ant, he should have heard the Word of God, he should have gathered. together grains, and he should have stored them within. There had come the trial of tribulation, there had come upon him a winter of numbness, tempest of fear, the cold of sorrow, whether it were loss, or any danger to his safety, or any bereavement of his family; or any dishonour and humiliation; it was winter; the ant falleth back upon that which in summer she hath gathered together; and within in her secret store, where no man seeth, she is recruited by her summer toils. When for herself she was gathering together these stores in summer, all men saw her: when on these she feedeth in winter, no one seeth. What is this? See the ant of God, he riseth day by day, he hasteneth to the Church of God, he prayeth, he heareth lection, he chanteth hymn, he digesteth that which he hath heard, with himself[2] he thinketh thereon, he storeth within grains gathered from the threshing-floor. They that providently hear those very things which even now are being spoken of, do thus, and by all men are seen to go forth to the Church, go back from Church, to hear sermon, to hear lection, to choose a book, open and read it: all these things are seen, when they are done. That ant is treading his path, carrying and storing up in the sight of men seeing him. There cometh winter sometime, for to whom cometh it not? There chanceth loss, there chanceth bereavement: other men pity him perchance as being miserable, who know not what the ant hath within to eat, and they say, miserable he whom this hath befallen, or what spirits, dost thou think, hath he whom this hath befallen? how afflicted is he? He measureth by himself, hath compassion according to his own strength; and thus he is deceived: because the measure wherewith he measureth himself, he would apply to him whom he knoweth not. ... O sluggard, gather in summer while thou art able; winter will not suffer thee to gather, but to eat that which thou shall have gathered. For how many men so suffer tribulation, that there is no opportunity either to read anything, or to hear anything, and they obtain no admittance, perchance, to those that would comfort them. The ant hath remained in her nest, let her see if she hath gathered anything in summer, whereby she may recruit herself in winter.

4. ... There is a double interpretation, both must be given: "lighten," he saith, "Thy face upon us," show to us Thy countenance. For God doth not ever light His countenance, as if ever it had been without light: but He lighteth it upon us, so that what was hidden from us, is opened to us, and that which was, but to us was hidden, is unveiled upon us, that is, is lightened. Or else surely it is, "Thy image lighten upon us:" so that he said this, in "lighten Thy countenance upon us:" Thou hast imprinted Thy countenance upon us; Thou hast made us after Thine image and Thy likeness,[3] Thou hast made us Thy coin; but Thine image ought not in darkness to remain: send a ray of Thy wisdom, let it dispel our darkness, and let there shine in us Thy image; let us know ourselves to be Thine image, let us hear what hath been said in the Song of Songs, "If Thou shalt not have known Thyself, O Thou fair one among women."[4] For there is said to the Church, "If Thou shalt not have known Thyself." What is this? If Thou shalt not have known Thyself to have been made after the image of God. O Soul of the Church, precious, redeemed with the blood of the Lamb immaculate, observe of how great value Thou art, think what hath been given for Thee. Let us say, therefore, and let us long that He "may lighten His face upon us." We wear His face: in like manner as, the faces of emperors are spoken of, truly a kind of sacred face is that of God in His own image: but unrighteous men know not in themselves the image of, God. In order that the countenance of God may be lightened upon them, they ought to say what? "Thou shalt light my candle, O Lord my God, Thou shalt light my darkness."[5] I am in the darkness of sins, but by the ray of Thy wisdom dispelled be my darkness, may Thy countenance appear; and if perchance through me it appeareth somewhat deformed, by Thee be there reformed that which by Thee hath been formed.

5. "That we may know on earth Thy way" (ver. 2). "On earth," here, in this life, "we may know Thy way." What is, "Thy way"? That which leadeth to Thee. May we acknowledge whither we are going, acknowledge where we are as we go; neither in darkness we can do. Afar Thou art from men sojourning, a way to us Thou hast presented, through which we must return to Thee. "Let us acknowledge on earth Thy way." What is His way wherein we have desired, "That we may know on earth Thy way"? We are going to enquire this ourselves, not of ourselves to learn it. We can learn of it from the Gospel: "I am the Way,"[1] the Lord saith: Christ hath said, "I am the Way." But dost thou fear lest thou stray? He hath added, "And the Truth." Who strayeth in the Truth? He strayeth that hath departed from the Truth. The Truth is Christ, the Way is Christ: walk therein. Dost thou fear lest thou die before thou attain unto Him? "I am the Life: I am," He saith, "the Way and the Truth and the Life." As if He were saying, "What fearest thou? Through Me thou walkest, to Me thou walkest, in Me thou restest." What therefore meaneth, "We may know on earth Thy Way," but "we may know on earth Thy Christ"? But let the Psalm itself reply: lest ye think that out of other Scriptures there must be adduced testimony, which perchance is here wanting: by repetition he hath shown what signified, "That we may know on earth Thy Way:" and as if thou wast inquiring, "In what earth, what way?" "In all nations Thy Salvation." In what earth, thou art inquiring? Hear: "In all nations." What way art thou seeking? Hear: "Thy Salvation.'' Is not perchance Christ his Salvation? And what is that which the old Symeon hath said, that old man, I say, in the Gospel, preserved full of years even unto the infancy of the Word?[2] For that old man took in his hands the Infant Word of God. Would He that in the womb deigned to be, disdain to be in the hands of an old man? The Same was in the womb of the virgin, as was in the hands of the old man, a weak infant both within the bowels, and in the old man's hand, to give us strength, by whom were made all things; and if all things, even His very mother. He came humble, He came weak, but clothed with a weakness to be changed into strength,[3] because "though He was crucified of weakness, yet He liveth of the virtue of God,"[4] the Apostle saith. He was then in the hands of an old man. And what saith that old man? Rejoicing that now he must be loosed from this world, seeing how in his own hand was held He by whom and in whom his Salvation was upheld; he saith what? "Now Thou lettest go," he saith," O Lord, Thy servant in peace, for mine eyes have seen Thy Salvation."[5] Therefore, "May God bless us, and have pity on us; may He lighten His countenance upon us, that we may know on earth Thy Way!" In what earth? "In all nations?" What Way? "Thy Salvation."

6. What followeth because the Salutation of God is known in all nations? "Let the peoples confess to Thee, O God" (ver. 3); "confess to Thee," he saith, "all peoples." There standeth forth a heretic, and he saith, In Africa I[6] have peoples: and another from another quarter, And I in Galatia have peoples. Thou in Africa, he in Galatia: therefore I require one that hath them everywhere. Ye have indeed dared to exult at that voice, when ye heard, "Let the peoples confess to Thee, O God." Hear the following verse, how he speaketh not of a part: "Let there confess to Thee all peoples." Walk ye in the Way together with all nations; walk ye in the Way together with all peoples, O sons of peace, sons of the One Catholic Church,[7] walk ye in the Way, seeing as ye walk. Wayfarers do this to beguile their toil. Sing ye in this Way; I implore you by that Same Way, sing ye in this Way: a new song sing ye, let no one there sing old ones: sing ye the love-songs of your fatherland, let no one sing old ones. New Way, new wayfarer, new song. Hear thou the Apostle exhorting thee to a new song: "Whatever therefore is in Christ is a new creature; old things have passed away, behold they have been made new." A new song sing ye in the way, which ye have learned "on the earth." In what earth? "In all nations." Therefore even the new song doth not belong to a part. He that in a part singeth, singeth an old song: whatever he please to sing, he singeth an old song, the old man singeth: divided he is, carnal he is. Truly in so far as carnal he is, so far he is old; and in so far as he is spiritual, so far new. See what saith the Apostle: "I could not speak to you as if to spiritual, but as if to carnal."[8] Whence proverb he them carnal? "For while one saith, I am of Paul; but another, I of Apollos: are ye not," he saith, "carnal?"[9] Therefore in the Spirit a new song sing thou in the safe way. Just as wayfarers sing, and ofttimes in the night sing. Awful round about all things do sound, or rather they sound not around, but are still around; and the more still the more awful; nevertheless, even they that fear robbers do sing.[10] How much more safely thou singest in Christ! That way hath no robber, unless thou by forsaking the way fallest in the hands of a robber. ... Why fear ye to confess, and in your confession to sing a new song together with all the earth; in all the earth, in Catholic peace, dost thou fear to confess to God, lest He condemn thee that hast confessed? If having not confessed thou liest concealed, having confessed thou wilt be condemned. Thou fearest to confess, that by not confessing canst not be concealed: thou wilt be condemned if thou hast held thy peace, that mightest have been delivered, by having confessed. "O God, confess to Thee all peoples."

7. And because this confession leadeth not to punishment, he continueth and saith, "Let the nations rejoice and exult" (ver. 4). If robbers after confession made do wail before man, let the faithful after confessing before God rejoice. If a than be judge, the torturer and his fear exact from a robber a confession: yea sometimes fear wringeth out confession, pain extorteth it: and he that waileth in tortures, but feareth to be killed if he confess, supporteth tortures as far as he is able: and if he shall have been overcome by pain, he giveth his voice for death. Nowise therefore is he joyful; nowise exulting: before he confesseth the claw teareth[1] him; when he hath confessed, the executioner leadeth him along a condemned felon: wretched in every case. But" let the nations rejoice and exult." Whence? Through that same confession. Why? Because good He is to whom they confess: He exacteth confession, to the end that He may deliver the humble; He condemneth one not confessing, to the end that He may punish the proud. Therefore be thou sorrowful before thou confessest; after having confessed exult, now thou wilt be made whole. Thy conscience had gathered up evil humours, with boil it had swollen, it was torturing thee, it suffered thee not to rest: the Physician applieth the fomentations of words? and sometimes He lanceth it, He applieth the surgeon's knife by the chastisement of tribulation: do thou acknowledge the Physician's hand, confess thou, let every evil humour go forth and flow away in confession: now exult, now rejoice, that which remaineth will be easy to be made whole. ... "Let the nations rejoice and exult, for Thou judgest the peoples in equity." And that unrighteous men may not fear, he hath added, "and the nations on the earth Thou directest." Depraved were the nations and crooked were the nations, perverse were the nations; for the ill desert of their depravity, and crookedness and perverseness, the Judge's coming they feared: there cometh the hand of the same, it is stretched out mercifully to the peoples, they are guided in order that they may walk the straight way; why should they fear the Judge to come, that have first acknowledged Him for a Corrector? To His hand let them give up themselves, Himself guideth the nations on the earth. But guided nations are walking in the Truth, are exulting in Him, are doing good works; and if perchance there cometh in any water (for on sea they are sailing) through the very small holes, through the crevices into the hold, pumping it out by good works, lest by more and more coming it accumulate, and sink the ship, pumping it out daily, fasting, praying, doing almsdeeds, saying with pure heart, "Forgive us our debts, as also we forgive our debtors"[3]--saying such words walk thou secure, and exult in the way, sing in the way. Do not fear the Judge: before thou wast a believer, thou didst find a Saviour. Thee ungodly He sought out that He might redeem, thee redeemed will He forsake so as to destroy? "And the nations on earth Thou directest."

8. He exulteth, rejoiceth, exhorteth, he repeateth those same verses in exhortation.[4] "The earth hath given her fruit" (ver. 6). What fruit? "Let all peoples confess to Thee." Earth it was, of thorns it was full; there came the hand of One rooting them up, there came a calling by His majesty and mercy, the earth began to confess; now the earth giveth her fruit. Would she give her fruit unless first she were rained on? Would she give her fruit, unless first the mercy of God had come from above? Let them read to me, thou sayest, how the earth being rained upon gave her fruit. Hear of the Lord raining upon her: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."[5] He raineth, and that same rain is thunder; it terrifieth: fear thou Him thundering, and receive Him raining. Behold, after that voice of a thundering and raining God, after that voice let us see something out of the Gospel itself. Behold that harlot of ill fame in the city burst into a strange house into which she had not been invited by the host, but by One invited she had been called;[6] called[7] not with tongue, but by Grace. The sick woman knew that she had there a place, where she was aware that her Physician was sitting at meat. She has gone in, that was a sinner; she dareth not draw near save to the feet: she weepeth at His feet, she washeth with tears, she wipeth with hair, she anointeth with ointment. Why wonderest thou? The earth hath given her fruit. This thing, I say, came to pass by the Lord raining there through His own mouth; there came to pass the things whereof we read in the Gospel; and by His raining through His clouds, by the sending of the Apostles and by their preaching the truth, the earth more abundantly hath given her fruit, and that crop now hath filled the round world.

9. The fruit of the earth was first in Jerusalem. For from thence began the Church: there came there the Holy Spirit, and filled full the holy men gathered together in one place; miracles were done, with the tongues of all men they spake.[8] They were filled full of the Spirit of God, the people were converted that were in that place, fearing and receiving the divine shower, by confession they brought forth so much fruit, that all their goods they brought together into a common stock, making distribution to the poor, in order that no one might call anything his own, but all things might be to them in common, and they might have one soul and one heart unto God.[1] For there had been forgiven[2] them the blood which they had shed, it had been forgiven them by the Lord pardoning, in order that now they might even learn to drink that which they had shed. Great in that place is the fruit: the earth hath given her fruit, both great fruit, and most excellent fruit. Ought by any means that earth alone to give her fruit? "May there bless us God, our God, may there bless us God" (ver. 7). Still may He bless us: for blessing in multiplication is wont most chiefly and properly to be perceived. Let us prove this in Genesis; see the works of God: God made light,[3] and God made a division between light and darkness: the light He called day, and the darkness He called night. It is not said, He blessed the light. For the same light returneth and changeth by days and nights. He calleth the sky the firmament between waters and waters: it is not said, He blessed the sky: He severed the sea from the dry land, and named both, the dry land earth, and the gathering together of the waters sea: neither here is it said, God blessed. ...

10. How should we will that to us He come? By living well, by doing well. Let not things past please us; things present not hold us; let us not "close the ear" as it were with tail,[4] let us not press down the ear on the ground; lest by things past we be kept back from hearing, lest by things present we be entangled and prevented from meditating on things future; let us reach forth unto those things which are before, let us forget things past.[5] And that for which now we toil, for which now we groan, for which now we sigh, of which now we speak, which in part, however small soever, we perceive, and to receive are not able, we shall receive, we shall thoroughly enjoy in the resurrection of the just. Our youth shall be renewed as an eagle's,[6] if only our old man we break[7] against the Rock of Christ. Whether those things be true, brethren, which are said of the serpent, or those which are said of the eagle, or whether it be rather a tale of men than truth, truth is nevertheless in the Scriptures, and not without reason the Scriptures have spoken of this: let us do whatever it signifieth, and not toil to discover how far that is true. Be thou such an one, as that thy youth may be able to be renewed as an eagle's. And know thou that it cannot lie renewed, except thine old man on the Rock shall have been broken off: that is, except by the aid of the Rock, except by the aid of Christ, thou wilt not be able to be renewed. Do not thou because of the pleasantness of the past life be deaf to the word of God: do not by things present be so held and entangled, as to say, I have no leisure to read, I have no leisure to hear. This is to press down the ear upon the ground. Do thou therefore not be such an one: but be such an one as on the other side thou findest, that is, so that thou forget things past, unto things before reach thyself out, in order that thine old man on the Rock thou mayest break off. And if any comparisons shall have been made for thee, if thou hast found them in the Scriptures, believe: if thou shalt not have found them spoken of except by report, do not very much believe them.[8] The thing itself perchance is so, perchance is not so. Do thou profit by it, let that comparison avail for thy salvation. Thou art unwilling to profit by this comparison, by some other profit, it mattereth not provided thou do it: and, being secure, wait for the Kingdom of God, lest thy prayer quarrel with thee. For, O Christian man, when thou sayest, Thy Kingdom come, how sayest thou, "Thy kingdom come"?[9] Examine thy heart: see, behold, "Thy kingdom come:" He crieth out to thee, "I come:" dost thou not fear? Often we have told Your Love: both to preach the truth is nothing, if heart from tongue dissent: and to hear the truth is nothing, if fruit follow not hearing. From this place exalted as it were we are speaking to you: but how much we are beneath your feet in fear, God knoweth, who is gracious to the humble; for the voices of men praising do not give us so much pleasure as the devotion of men confessing, and the deeds of men now righteous. And how we have no pleasure but in your advances, but by those praises how much we are endangered, He knoweth, whom we pray to deliver us from all dangers, and to deign to know and crown us together with you, saved from every trial, in His Kingdom.



PSALM 68

1. Of this Psalm, the title seemeth not to need operose discussion: for simple and easy it appeareth. For thus it standeth: "For the end, for David himself a Psalm of a Song." But in many Psalms already we have reminded you what is "at the end: for the end of the Law is Christ for righteousness to every man believing:"[11] He is the end which maketh perfect, not that which consumeth or destroyeth. Nevertheless, if any one endeavoureth to inquire, what meaneth, "a Psalm of a Song:" why not either "Psalm" or "Song," but both; or what is the difference between Psalm of Song, and Song of Psalm, because even thus of some Psalms the titles are inscribed: he will find perchance something which we leave for men more acute and more at leisure than ourselves. ...

2. "Let God rise up, and let His enemies be scattered" (ver. 1). Already this hath come to pass, Christ hath risen up, "who is over all things, God blessed for ever,"[1] and His enemies have been dispersed through all nations, to wit, the Jews; in that very place, where they practised their enmities, being overthrown in war, and thence through all places dispersed: and now they hate, but fear, and in that very fear they do that which followeth, "And let them that hate Him flee from His face." The flight indeed of the mind is fear. For in carnal flight, whither flee they from the face of Him who everywhere showeth the efficacy[2] of His presence? "Whither shall I depart," saith he, "from Thy Spirit, and from Thy face whither shall I flee?"[3] With mind, therefore, not with body, they flee; to wit, by being afraid, not by being hidden; and not from that face which they see not, but from that which they are compelled to see. For the face of Him hath His presence in His Church been called. ...

3. "As smoke faileth, let them fail" (ver. 2). For they lifted up themselves from the fires of their hatred unto the vapouring of pride, and against Heaven setting their mouth, and shouting," Crucify, Crucify,"[4] Him taken captive they derided, Him hanging they mocked: and being soon conquered by that very Person against whom they swelled victorious, they vanished away. "As wax melteth from the face of fire, so let sinners perish from the face of God." Though perchance in this passage he hath referred to those men, whose hard-heartedness in tears of penitence is dissolved: yet this also may be understood, that he threateneth future judgment; because though in this world like smoke, in lifting up themselves, that is, in priding themselves, they have melted away, there will come to them at the last final damnation, so that from His face they will perish for everlasting, when in His own glory He shall have appeared, like fire, for the punishment of the ungodly, and the light of the righteous.

4. "Lastly, there followeth, "And let just men be joyous, and exult in the sight of God, let them delight in gladness" (ver. 3). For then shall they hear," Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive ye the kingdom."[5] "Let them be joyous," therefore, that have toiled, "and exult in the sight of God." For there will not be in this exultation, as though it were before men, any empty boasting; but (it will be) in the sight of Him who unerringly looketh into that which He hath granted. "Let them delight in gladness:" no longer exulting with trembling[6] as in this world, so long as "human life is a trial upon earth."[7] Secondly, he turneth himself to those very persons to whom he hath given so great hope, and to them while here living he speaketh and exhorteth: "Sing ye to God, psalm ye to His name" (ver. 4). Already on this subject in the exposition of the Title we have before spoken that which seemed meet. He singeth to God, that liveth to God: He psalmeth to His name, that worketh unto His Glory. In singing thus, in psalming thus, that is, by so living, by so working, "a way make ye to Him," he saith, "that hath ascended above the setting." A way make ye to Christ: so that through the beautiful feet of men telling good tidings,[5] the hearts of men believing many have a way opened to Him. For the Same is He that hath ascended above the "setting:" either because the new life of one turned to Him receiveth Him not, except the old life shall have set by his renouncing this world, or because He ascended above the setting, when by rising again He conquered the downfall of the body. "For The Lord is His name." Which if they had known, the Lord of glory they never would have crucified.[9]

5. "Exult ye in the sight of Him," O ye to whom hath been said, "Sing ye to God, psalm ye to the name of Him, a way make ye to Him that hath ascended above the setting," also "exult in the sight of Him:" as if "sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing."[10] For while ye make a way to Him, while ye prepare a way whereby He may come and possess the nations, ye are to suffer in the sight of men many sorrowful things. But not only faint not, but even exult, not in the sight of men, but in the sight of God. "In hope rejoicing, in tribulation enduring:"[11] "exult ye in the sight of Him." For they that in the sight of men trouble you, "shall be troubled by the face of Him, the Father of orphans and Judge of widows" (ver. 5). For desolate they suppose them to be, from whom ofttimes by the sword of the Word of God[12] both parents from sons, and husbands from wives, are severed: but persons destitute and widowed have the consolation "of the Father of orphans and Judge of widows:" they have the consolation of Him that say to Him," For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord hath taken up me:"[1] and they that have hoped in the Lord, continuing in prayers by night and by day:[2] by whose face those men shall be troubled when they shall have seen themselves prevail nothing, for that the whole world hath gone away after Him.[3] For out of those orphans and widows, that is, persons destitute of partnership in this world's hope, the Lord for Himself doth build a Temple: whereof in continuation he saith, "The Lord is in His holy place."

6. For what is His place he hath disclosed, when he saith, "God that maketh to dwell men of one mood in a house" (ver. 6): men of one mind, of one sentiment: this is the holy place of the Lord. For when he had said, "The Lord is in His holy place:" as though we were inquiring in what place, since He is everywhere wholly, and no place of corporal space containeth Him; forthwith he hath subjoined somewhat, that we should not seek Him apart from ourselves, but rather being of one mood dwelling in a house, we should deserve that He also Himself deign to dwell among us. This is the holy place of the Lord, the thing that most men seek to have, a place where in prayer they may be hearkened unto. ... For as in a great house of a man, the Lord thereof doth not abide in every place whatsoever, but in some place doubtless more private and honourable: so God dwelleth not in all men that are in His house (for He dwelleth not in the vessels of dishonour), but His holy place are they whom "He maketh to dwell of one mood," or "of one manner, in a house." For what are called tropoi in Greek, by both modi and mores (moods and manners), in Latin may be interpreted. Nor hath the Greek writer, "Who maketh to dwell," but only "maketh to dwell." "The Lord," then, "is in His holy place." ...

7. But to prove that by His Grace He buildeth to Himself this place, not for the sake of the merits preceding of those persons out of whom He buildeth it, see what followeth: "Who leadeth forth men fettered, in strength." For He looseth the heavy bonds of sins, wherewith they were fettered so that they could not walk in the way of the commandments: but He leadeth them forth "in strength," which before His Grace they had not. "Likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs:" that is, every way dead, taken up with dead works. For these men provoke Him to anger by withstanding justice: for those fettered men perchance would walk, and are not able, and are praying of God that they may be able, and are saying to Him, "From my necessities lead me forth."[4] By whom being heard, they give thanks, saying, "Thou hast broken asunder my bonds."[5] But these provoking men that dwell in the tombs, are of that kind, which in another passage the Scripture pointeth out, saying, "From a dead man, as from one that is not, confession perisheth."[6] Whence there is this saying, "When a sinner shall have come into the depth of evil things, he despiseth."[7] For it is one thing to long for, another thing to fight against righteousness: one thing from evil to desire to be delivered, another thing one's evil doings to defend rather than to confess: both kinds nevertheless the Grace of Christ leadeth forth in strength. With what strength, but that wherewith against sin even unto blood they are to strive? For out of each kind are made meet persons, whereof to construct His holy place; those being loosened, these being raised to life. For even of the woman, whom Satan had bound for eighteen years, by His command He loosed the bonds;[8] and Lazarus' death by His voice He overcame.[9] He that hath done these things in bodies, is able to do more marvellous things in characters, and to make men of one mood to dwell in a house: "leading forth men fettered in strength, likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs."[10]

8. "O God, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people" (ver. 7). His going forth is perceived, when He appeareth in His works. But He appeareth not to all men, but to them that know how to spy out His works. For I do not now speak of those works which are conspicuous to all men, Heaven and earth and sea and all things that in them are; but the works whereby He leadeth forth men fettered in strength, likewise men provoking that dwell in the tombs, and maketh them of one manner to dwell in a house. Thus He goeth forth before His people, that is, before those that do perceive this His Grace. Lastly, there followeth, "When Thou wentest by in the desert, the earth was moved" (ver. 8). A desert were the nations, which knew not God: a desert they were, where by God Himself no law had been given, where no Prophet had dwelled, and foretold the Lord to come. "When," then, "Thou wentest by in the desert," when Thou wast preached in the nations; "the earth was moved," to the faith earthly men were stirred up. But whence was it moved? "For the heavens dropped from the face of God." Perchance here some one calleth to mind that time, when in the desert God was going over before His people, before the sons of Israel, by day in the pillar of cloud, by night in the brightness of fire;[11] and determineth that thus it is that "the heavens dropped from the face of God," for manna He rained upon His people:[12] that the same thing also is that which followeth, "Mount Sina from the face of the God of Israel,"[1] "with voluntary rain severing God to Thine inheritance" (ver. 9), namely, the God that on Mount Sina spake to Moses, when He gave the Law, so that the manna is the voluntary rain, which God severed for His inheritance, that is, for His people; because them alone He so fed, not the other nations also: so that what next he saith, "and it was weakened," is understood of the inheritance being itself weakened; for they murmuring, fastidiously loathed the manna, longing for victuals of flesh, and those things on which they had been accustomed to live in Egypt.[2] ... Lastly, all those men in the desert were stricken down, nor were any of them except two found worthy to go into the land of promise.[3] Although even if in the sons of them that inheritance be said to have been perfected, we ought more readily to hold to a spiritual sense. For all those things in a figure did happen to them; [4] until the day should break, and the shadows should be removed.[5]

9. May then the Lord open to us that knock; and may the secret things of His mysteries, as far as Himself vouchsafeth, be disclosed. For in order that the earth might be moved to the Truth when into the desert of the Gentiles the Gospel was passing, "the Heavens dropped from the face of God." These are the Heavens, whereof in another Psalm is sung, "The Heavens are telling forth the glory of God."[6] ... So here also, "the Heavens dropped;" but "from the face of God." For even these very persons have been "saved through faith, and this not of themselves, but God's gift it is, not of works, lest perchance any man should be lifted up. For of Himself we are the workmanship,"[7] "that maketh men of one mood to dwell in a house."[8]

10. But what is that which followeth," Mount Sina from the face of the God of Israel"? Must there be understood "dropped;" so that what he hath called by the name of Heavens, the same he hath willed to be understood under the name of Mount Sina also; just as we said that those are called. mountains, which were called Heavens? Nor in this sense ought it to move us that He saith "mountain," not mountains, while in that place they were called "Heavens," not Heaven: for in another Psalm also after it had been said, "The Heavens are telling forth the glory of God: "[6] after the manner of Scripture repeating the same sense in different words, subsequently there is said, "And the firmament telleth the works of His hands."[6] First he said "Heavens," not "Heaven:" and yet afterwards not "firmaments," but "firmament." For God called the firmament Heaven,[9] as in Genesis hath been written. Thus then Heavens and Heaven, mountains and mountain, are not a different thing, but the very same thing: just as Churches many, and the One Church, are not a different thing, but the very same thing. Why then "Mount Sina, which gendereth unto bondage "?[10] as saith the Apostle. Is perchance the Law itself to be understood in Mount Sina, as that which "the Heavens dropped from the face of God," in order that the earth might be moved? And is this the very moving of the earth, when men are troubled, because the Law they cannot fulfil? But if so it is, this is the voluntary rain, whereof in confirmation he saith, "Voluntary rain God severing to Thine inheritance:" because "He hath not done so to any nation, and His judgment He hath not manifested to them."[11] God therefore set apart this voluntary rain to His inheritance because He gave the Law. And "there was made weak," either the Law, or the inheritance. The Law may be understood to have been made weak, because it was not fulfilled; not that of itself it is weak, but because it maketh men weak, by threatening punishment, and not aiding through grace. For also the very word the Apostle hath used, where he saith, "For that which was impossible of the Law, wherein it was made weak through the flesh:"[12] willing to intimate that through the Spirit it is fulfilled: nevertheless, itself he hath said is made weak, because by weak men it cannot be fulfilled. But the inheritance, that is, the people, without any doubt is understood to have been made weak by the giving to them of the Law. For "the Law came in, that transgression might abound."[13] But that which followeth, "But Thou hast made it perfect," to the Law is thus referred, forasmuch as it is made perfect, that is, is fulfilled after that which the Lord saith in the Gospel, "I have not come to annul the Law, but to fulfil."[14] ... There is in these words yet another sense: which seemeth to me more to approve itself. For much more in accordance with the context, grace itself is understood to be the voluntary rain,[15] because with no preceding merits of works it is given gratis.[16] "For if grace, no longer of works: otherwise grace no longer is grace."[17] ... "But to humble men He giveth grace."[18] And it was made weak, but Thou hast made it perfect:" because "virtue in weakness is perfected."[19] Some copies indeed, both Latin and Greek, have not "Mount Sina;" but, "from the face of the God of Sina, from the face of the God of Israel." That is, "The Heavens dropped from the face of God:" and, as if enquiry were made of what God, "from the face of the God," he saith, "of Sina, from the face of the God of Israel," that is, from the face of the God that gave the Law to the people of Israel. Why then "the Heavens dropped from the face of God," from the face of this God, but because thus was fulfilled that which had been foretold, "Blessing He shall give that hath given the Law"?[1] The Law whereby to terrify a man that relieth on human powers; blessing, whereby He delivereth a man that hopeth in God. Thou then, O God, hast made perfect Thine inheritance; because it is made weak in itself, in order that it may be made perfect by Thee.

11. "Thine animals shall dwell therein" (ver. 10). "Thine," not their own; to Thee subject, not for themselves free; for Thee needy, not for themselves sufficient. Lastly, he continueth, "Thou hast prepared in Thine own sweetness for the needy, O God." "In Thine own sweetness," not in his meetness. For the needy he is, for he hath been made weak, in order that he may be made perfect: he hath acknowledged himself indigent, that he may be replenished. This is that sweetness, whereof in another place is said, "The Lord shall give sweetness, and our land shall give her fruit:"[2] in order that a good work may be done not for fear, but for love; not for dread of punishment, but for love of righteousness. For this is true and sound freedom. But the Lord hath prepared this for one wanting, not for one abounding, whose reproach is that poverty: of which sort in another place is said, "Reproach to these men that abound, and contempt to proud men."[3] For those he hath called proud, whom he hath called them that abound.

12. "The Lord shall give the Word" (ver. 11): to wit, food for His animals which shall dwell therein. But what shall these animals work to whom He shall give the word? What but that which followeth? "To them preaching the Gospel in much virtue." With what virtue, but with that strength wherein He leadeth forth men fettered? Perchance also here he speaketh of that virtue, wherewith in preaching the Gospel they wrought wondrous signs. Who then "shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel with much virtue"? "The King," he saith, "of the virtues of the Beloved" (ver. 12). The Father therefore is King of the virtues of the Son. For the Beloved, when there is not specified any person that is beloved, by a substitution of name, of the Only Son is understood. Is not the Son Himself King of His virtues, to wit of the virtues serving Himself? Because with much virtue the King of Virtues shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel, of Whom it hath been said, "The Lord of Virtues, He is the King of Glory?[4] But his not having said King of Virtues, but "King of the Virtues of the beloved," is a most usual expression in the Scriptures, if any one observe: which thing chiefly appeareth in those cases where even the person's own name is already expressed, so that it cannot at all be doubted that it is the same person of whom something is said. Of which sort also is that which in the Pentateuch in many passages is found: "And Moses did it, as the Lord commanded Moses." He said not that which is usual in our expressions, And Moses did, as the Lord commanded him; but, "Moses did as the Lord commanded Moses," as if one person were the Moses whom He commanded, and another person the Moses who did, whereas it is the very same. In the New Testament such expressions are most difficult to find.[5] ... "The King," therefore, "of the virtues of the Beloved," thus may be understood, as if it were to be said, the King of His virtues, because both King of Virtues is Christ, and the Beloved is the very same Christ. However, this sense hath not so great urgency, as that no other can be accepted: because the Father also may be understood as King of the virtues of His Beloved Son, to whom the Beloved Himself saith, "All Mine are Thine, and Thine Mine."[6] But if perchance it is asked, whether God the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ can be called King also, I know not whether any one would dare to withhold this name from Him in the passage where the Apostle saith, "But to the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God."[7] Because even if this be said of the Trinity itself, therein is also God the Father. But if we do not carnally understand, "O God, Thy Judgment to the King give Thou, and Thy justice to the Son of the King:"[8] I know not whether anything else hath been said than, "to Thy Son." King therefore is the Father also. Whence that verse of this Psalm, "King of the virtues of the Beloved;" in either way may be understood. When therefore he had said, "The Lord shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel with much virtue:" because virtue itself by Him is ruled, and serveth Him by whom it is given; the Lord Himself, he saith, who shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel with much virtue, is the King of the virtues of the Beloved.

13. In the next place there followeth, "Of the Beloved, and of the beauty of the House to divide the spoils." The repetition belongeth to eulogy.[9] ... But whether it be repeated, or whether it be received as spoken once, the word which hath been set down, namely, "Beloved,"[1] I suppose that thus must be understood that which followeth, "and of the beauty of a house to divide the spoils;" as if there were said, "Chosen even to divide the spoils of the beauty of a house," that is, Chosen even for dividing the spoils. For beautiful Christ hath made His House, that is, the Church, by dividing to Her spoils: in the same manner as the Body is beautiful in the distribution of the members. "Spoils" moreover those are called that are stripped off from conquered foes. What this is the Gospel adviseth us in the passage where we read, "No one goeth into the house of a strong man to spoil his vessels, unless first he shall have bound the strong man."[2] Christ therefore hath bound the devil with spiritual bonds, by overcoming death, and by ascending from Hell above the Heavens: He hath bound him by the Sacrament of His Incarnation, because though finding nothing in Him deserving of death, yet he was permitted to kill: and from him so bound He took away his vessels as though they were spoils. For he was working in the sons of disobedience,[3] of whose unbelief he made use to work his own will. These vessels the Lord cleansing by the remission of sins, sanctifying these spoils wrested from the foe laid prostrate and bound, these He hath divided to the beauty of His House; making some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and doctors,[4] for the work of the ministry, for the building up of the Body of Christ. For as the body is one, and hath many members, and though all the members of the body are many, the body is one: so also is Christ.[5] "Are all Apostles? Are all Prophets? Are all Powers? Have all the gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?"[6] "But all these things worketh one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one his own gifts, as He willeth."[7] And such is the beauty of the house, whereto the spoils are divided, that a lover thereof with this fairness being enkindled, crieth out, "O Lord, I have loved the grace of Thy House."[8]

14. Now in that which followeth, he turneth himself to address the members themselves, whereof the beauty of the House is composed, saying, "If ye sleep in the midst of the lots,[9] wings of a dove silvered, and between the shoulders thereof in the freshness of gold" (ver. 13). First, we must here examine the order of the words, in what manner the sentence is ended; which certainly awaiteth, when there is said, "If ye sleep:" secondly, in that which he saith, namely, "wings of dove silvered," whether in the singular number it must be understood as being, "of this wing"[10] thereof, or in the plural as, "these wings."[11] But the singular number the Greek excludeth, where always in the plural we read it written. But still it is uncertain whether it be these wings; or whether, "O ye wings," so as that he may seem to speak to the wings themselves. Whether therefore by the words which have preceded, that sentence be ended, so that the order is, "The Lord shall give the Word to men preaching the Gospel with much virtue, if ye sleep in the midst of the lots, O ye wings of a dove silvered:" or by these which follow, so that the order is, "If ye sleep in the midst of the lots, the wings of a dove silvered with snow shall be whitened in Selmon:" that is, the wings themselves shall be whitened, if ye sleep in the midst "of the lots:" so that he may be understood to say this to them that are divided to the beauty of the House, as it were spoils; that is, if ye sleep in the "midst of the lots," O ye that are divided to the beauty of the House, "through the manifestation of the Spirit unto profit,"[12] so that "to one indeed is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge," etc., if then ye sleep in the midst of the lots, then the wings of a dove silvered with snow shall be whitened in Selmon. It may also be thus: "If ye being the wings of a dove silvered, sleep in the midst of the lots, with snow they shall be whitened in Selmon," so as that those men be understood who through grace receive remission of sins. Whence also of the Church Herself, is said in the Song of Songs, "Who is She that goeth up whitened?" For this promise of God is held out through the Prophet, saying, "If your sins shall have been like scarlet, like snow I will whiten them." It may also thus be understood, so that in that which hath been said, "wings of a dove silvered," there be understood, ye shall be, so that this is the sense, O ye that like as it were spoils to the beauty of the house are divided, if ye sleep in the "midst of the lots," wings of a dove silvered ye shall be: that is, into higher places ye shall be lifted up, adhering however to the bond of the Church. For I think no other dove silvered can be better perceived here, than that whereof hath been said," One is My dove."[13] But silvered She is because with divine sayings she hath been instructed: for the sayings of the Lord in another place are called "silver with fire refined, purged sevenfold."[14] Some great good thing therefore it is, to sleep in the midst of the lots, which some would have to be the Two Testaments, so that to "sleep in the midst of the lots"[1] is to rest on the authority of those Testaments, that is, to acquiesce in the testimony of either Testament: so that whenever anything out of them is produced and proved, all strife is ended in peaceful acquiescence. ...

15. "Between the shoulders," however. This is indeed a part of the body, it is a part about the region of the heart, at the hinder parts however, that is, at the back: which part of that dove silvered he saith is "in the greenness of gold," that is, in the vigour of wisdom, which vigour I think cannot be better understood than by love. But why on the back, and not on the breast? Although I wonder in what sense this word is put in another Psalm, where there is said, "Between His shoulders He shall overshadow thee, and under His wings thou shalt hope:"[2] forasmuch as under wings there cannot be overshadowed anything but what shall be under the breast. And in Latin, indeed, "between the shoulders," perchance in some degree of both parts may be understood, both before and behind, that we may take shoulders to be the parts which have the head betwixt them; and in Hebrew perchance the word is ambiguous, which may in this manner also be understood: but the word that is in the Greek, metafrena, signifieth not anything but at the back, which is "between the shoulders." Is there for this reason there the greenness of gold, that is, wisdom and love, because in that place there are in a manner the roots of the wings? or because in that place is carried that light burden? For what are even the wings themselves, but the two commandments of love, whereon hangeth the whole Law and the Prophets?[3] what is that same light burden, but that same love[4] which in these two commandments is fulfilled? For whatever thing is difficult in a commandment, is a light thing to a lover. Nor on any other account is rightly understood the saying, "My burden is light,"[5] but because He giveth the Holy Spirit, whereby love is shed abroad in our hearts,[6] in order that in love we may do freely that which he that doeth in fear doeth slavishly; nor is he a lover of what is right, when he would prefer, if so be it were possible, that what is right should not be commanded.

16. It may also be required, when it hath not been said, if ye sleep in the lots, but "in the midst of the lots;" what this is, "in the midst of the lots." Which expression indeed, if more exactly it were translated from the Greek, would signify, "in the midst between the lots,"[7] which is in no one of the interpreters I have read: therefore I suppose, that what hath been said signifieth much the same, to wit the expression, "in the midst of the lots." Hence therefore what seemeth to me I will explain. Ofttimes this word is wont to be used for uniting and pacifying one thing and another, that they may not mutually disagree: as when God is establishing His covenant s between Himself and His people, this word the Scripture useth; for instead of that expression which is in Latin between Me and you, the Greek hath, in the midst of Me and you. So also of the sign of Circumcision, when God speaketh to Abraham, He saith, "There shall be a testament between Me and thee and all thy seed:"[9] which the Greek hath, in the midst of Me and thee, and the midst of thy seed. Also when He was speaking to Noe of the bow in the clouds to establish a sign,[10] this word very often He repeateth: and that which the Latin copies have, between Me and you, or between Me and every living soul, and whatever suchlike expressions there are used, is found in the Greek to be, in the middle of Me and you, which is ana meson. David also and Jonathan establish a sign between them,[11] that they may not disagree with a difference of thought: and that which in Latin is expressed, between both, in the middle of both, the Greek hath expressed in the same word, which is ana meson. But it was best that in this passage of the Psalms our translators said not, "among the lots," which expression is more suited to the Latin idiom; but, "in the midst of the lots," as though "in the midst between the lots," which rather is the reading in the Greek, and which is wont to be said in the case of those things which ought to have a mutual consent. ... But why in the "lots"[12] the Testaments should be perceived, though this word is Greek, and the Testament is not so named, the reason is, because through a testament is given inheritance, which in Greek is called klhronomia and an heir klhronomos. Nowklhros in Greek is the term for lot, and lots according to the promise of God are called those parts of the inheritance which were distributed to the people.[13] Whence the tribe of Levi was commanded not to have lot among their brethren, because they were sustained by tithes from them. For, I think, they that have been ordained in the grades of the Ecclesiastical Ministry have been called both Clergy and Clerks, because Matthias by lot was chosen, who we read was the first that was ordained by the Apostles.[14] Henceforth, because of inheritance which is given by testament, as though by that which is made that which maketh, by the name of "lots" the Testaments themselves are signified.

17. Nevertheless, to me here another sense also occurreth, if I mistake not, to be preferred; understanding by cleri the inheritances themselves: so that, whereas the inheritance of the Old Testament, although in a shadow significant of the future, is earthly felicity; but the inheritance of the New Testament is everlasting immortality; to "sleep in the midst of the lots" is not too earnestly now to seek the former, and still patiently to look for the latter. ... And because so well they have slept, on them, as it were on wings now flieth, and with praises is exalted, the Church: to wit, the Dove silvered, in order that by this fame of theirs, posterity having been invited to imitate them, while in like manner the rest also sleep, there may be added wings whereby even unto the end of the world sublimely she may be preached.

18. "While He that is above the heavens[1] distinguisheth kings over Her, with snow they shall be made white in Selmon" (ver. 14). While He "above the heavens," He that ascended over all heavens that He might fulfil all things, "while He distinguisheth kings over Her," that is, over that same "Dove silvered." For the Apostle continueth and saith, and "He hath Himself given some for Apostles, and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers."[2] For what other reason is there to distinguish kings over Her, save for the work of the Ministry, for the edification of the Body of Christ: when she is indeed Herself the Body of Christ? But they are called kings from ruling: and what more than the lusts of the flesh, that sin may not reign in their mortal body to obey the desires thereof, that they yield not their members instruments of iniquity unto sin, but yield themselves to God, as though from the dead living, and their members instruments of righteousness to God?[3] For thus shall the kings be distinguished from foreigners, because they draw not the yoke with unbelievers: secondly, in a peaceful manner being distinguished from one another by their proper gifts. For not all are Apostles, or all Prophets, or all Teachers, or all have gifts of healings, or all with tongues do speak, or all interpret.[4] "But all these things worketh one and the same Spirit, dividing proper gifts to each one as He willeth."[5] In giving which Spirit He that is above the Heavens distinguisheth kings over the Dove silvered. Of which Holy Spirit, when, sent to His Mother full of grace, the Angel was speaking, to her enquiring in what manner it could come to pass that she was announced as going to bear, seeing she knew not a man:[6] ... he saith, "The Holy Spirit shall come over upon thee, and the virtue of the Most Highest shall overshadow thee," that is, shall make a shadow for thee, "wherefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God."[7] That "shadow" again is understood of a defence against the heat of carnal lusts: whence not in carnal concupiscence, but in spiritual belief, the Virgin conceived Christ. But the shadow consisteth of light and body: and further, The "Word" that "was in the beginning,"[8] that true Light,[9] in order that a noonday shadow might be made for us; "the Word," I say, "was made Flesh, and dwelled in us."[10]

19. But this mountain he calleth the "mountain of God, a mountain fruitful, a mountain full of curds" (ver. 15), or "a mountain fat." But here what else would he call fat but fruitful? For there is also a mountain called by that name, that is to say, Selmon. But what mountain ought we to understand by "the mountain of God, a mountain fruitful, a mountain full of curds," but the same Lord Christ? Of whom also another Prophet saith, "There shall be manifest in the last times the mountain of the Lord prepared on the top of the mountains"?[11] He is Himself the "Mountain full of curds,"[12] because of the babes to be fed with grace as though it were with milk;[13] a mountain rich to strengthen and enrich them by the excellence of the gifts; for even the milk itself whence curd is made, in a wonderful manner signifieth grace; for it floweth out of the overflowing of the mother's Bowels, and of a sweet compassion unto babes freely it is poured forth. But in the Greek the case is doubtful, whether it be the nominative or the accusative: for in that language mountain is of the neuter gender, not of the masculine: therefore some Latin translators have not translated it, "unto the Mountain of God," but, "the Mountain of God." But I think, "unto Selmon the Mountain of God," is better, that is, "unto" the Mountain of God which is called Selmon: according to the interpretation which, as we best could, we have explained above.

20. Secondly, in the expression, "Mountain of God, Mountain full of curds," Mountain" fruitful," let no one dare from this to compare the Lord Jesus Christ with the rest of the Saints, who are themselves also called mountains of God. ... For there were not wanting men to call Him, some John Baptist, some Elias, some Jeremias, or one of the Prophets;[14] He turneth to them and saith, "Why do ye imagine[15] mountains full of curds, a mountain," he saith, "wherein it hath pleased God to dwell therein"? (ver. 16). "Why do ye imagine?"[1] For as they are a light, because to themselves also hath been said, "Ye are the Light of the world,"[2] but something different hath been called "the true Light which enlighteneth every man."[3] so they are mountains; but far different is the Mountain "prepared on the top of the mountains."[4] These mountains therefore in bearing that Mountain are glorious: one of which mountains saith, "but from me far be it to glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom to me the world hath been crucified, and I to the world:"[5] so that "he hath glorieth, not in himself, but in the Lord may glory."[6] "Why" then "do ye imagine mountains full of curds," that" Mountain wherein it hath pleased God to dwell therein"? Not because in other men He dwelleth not, but because in them through Him. "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead,"[7] not in a shadow, as in the temple made by king Solomon,[8] but "bodily," that is, solidly and truly. ... "For there is One God, and One Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus,"[9] Mountain of mountains, as Saint of saints. Whence He saith, "I in them and Thou in Me."[10] . ... "Why then do ye imagine mountains full of curds, the mountain wherein it hath pleased God to dwell in Him?" For those mountains full of curds that Mountain the Lord shall inhabit even unto the end, that something they may be to whom He saith, "for without Me nothing ye are able to do."[11]

21. Thus cometh to pass that also which followeth: "The Chariot of God is of ten thousands manifold:" or "of tens of thousands manifold:" or, "ten times thousand times manifold" (ver. 17). For one Greek word, which hath there been used, murioplasdon, each Latin interpreter hath rendered as best he could, but in Latin it could not be adequately expressed for a thousand with the Greeks is called muriadea, but murias are a number of tens of thousands for one mnrias are ten thousands. Thus a vast number of saints and believers, who by bearing God become in a manner the chariot[12] of God, he hath signified under this name. By abiding in and guiding this, He conducteth it, as though it were His Chariot, unto the end, as if unto some appointed place. For, "the beginning is Christ; secondly, that are of Christ, at the appearing of Him; then the end."[13] This is Holy Church: which is that which followeth, "thousands of men rejoicing." For in hope they are joyful, until they be conducted unto the end, which now they look for through patience.[14] For admirably, when he had said, "Thousands of men rejoicing:" immediately he added, "The Lord is in them." That we may not wonder why they rejoice, "The Lord is in them." For through many tribulations we must needs enter into the kingdom of God? but, "The Lord is in them." Therefore even if they are as it were sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing,[16] though not now in that same end, to which they have not yet come, yet in hope they are rejoicing, and in tribulation patient: for, "The Lord is in them, in Sina in the holy place." In the interpretations of Hebrew names, we find Sina interpreted commandment: and some other interpretations it has, but I think this to be more agreeable to the present passage. For giving a reason why those thousands rejoice, whereof the Chariot of God doth consist, "The Lord," he saith, "is in them, in Sins in the holy place:" that is, the Lord is in them, in the commandment; which commandment is holy, as saith the Apostle: "Therefore the law indeed is holy, and the commandment is holy, and just, and good."[17] ...

22. In the next place, turning his address to the Lord Himself, "Thou hast gone up," he saith, "on high, Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts in men" (ver. 18). Of this the Apostle thus maketh mention, thus expoundeth in speaking of the Lord Christ.: "But unto each one of us," he saith, "is given grace after the measure of the giving of Christ: for which cause he saith, He hath gone up on high, He hath led captive captivity, He hath given gifts to men."[18] ... And let it not move us that the Apostle making mention of that same testimony saith not, "Thou hast received gifts in men;" but, "He hath given gifts unto men." For he with Apostolic authority hath spoken thus according to the faith that the Son is God with the Father. For in respect of this He hath given gifts to men, sending to them the Holy Spirit, which is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son. But forasmuch as the self-name Christ is understood in His Body which is the Church, wherefore also His members are His saints and believers, whence to them is said, "But ye are the Body of Christ, and the members,"[19] doubtless He hath Himself also received gifts in men. Now Christ hath gone up on high, and sitteth at the right hand of the Father:[20] but unless He were here also on the earth, He would not thence have cried, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?"[21] When the Same saith Himself, "Inasmuch as to one of My least ye have done it, to Me ye have done it:"[22] why do we doubt that He receiveth in His members, the gifts which the members of Him receive?

23. But what is, "Thou hast led captivity captive"? Is it because He hath conquered death, which was holding captive those over whom it reigned? Or hath he called men themselves captivity, who were being held captive under the devil? Which thing's mystery even the title of that Psalm[1] doth contain, to wit, "when the house was being builded after the captivity:" that is, the Church after the coming in of the Gentiles. Calling therefore those very men who were being held captive a captivity, as when "the service"[2] is spoken of there are understood those that serve also, that same captivity he saith by Christ hath been led captive. For why should not captivity be happy, if even for a good purpose men may be caught? Whence to Peter hath been said, "From henceforth thou shall catch men."[3] Led captive therefore they are because caught, and caught because subjugated, being sent under that gentle yoke,[4] being delivered from sin whereof they were servants, and being made servants of righteousness s whereof they were children. Whence also He is Himself in them, that hath given gifts to men, and hath received gifts in men. And thus in that captivity, in that servitude, in that chariot, under that yoke, there are not thousands of men lamenting, but thousands of men rejoicing. For the Lord is in them, in Sina, in the holy place.[6] ...

24. But what next doth he adjoin? "For they that believe not to dwell" (ver. 18): or, as some copies have, "For not believing to dwell:" for what else are men not believing, but they that believe not? To whom this hath been said, is not easy to perceive. For as though a reason were being given of the above words, when it had been said, "Thou hast led captivity captive, Thou hast received gifts in men:" there hath been added in continuation, "for they that believe not to dwell," that is, not believing that they should dwell. What is this? Of whom saith he this? Did that captivity, before it passed into a good captivity, show whence it was an evil captivity? For through not believing they were possessed by the enemy, "that worketh in the sons of unbelief: among whom ye were sometime, while ye were living among them."[7] By the gifts therefore of His grace, He that hath received gifts in men, hath led captive that captivity. For they believed not that they should dwell. For faith hath thence delivered them, in order that now believing they may dwell in the House of God, even they too becoming the House of God, and the Chariot of God, consisting of thousands of men rejoicing.

25. Whence he that was singing of these things, in the Spirit foreseeing them, even he too being fulfilled with joy hath burst forth s a hymn, saying, "The Lord God is blessed, blessed is the Lord God from day unto day" (ver. 19). Which some copies have, "by day daily," because the Greeks have it thus, hmeran kaq hmeran: which more exactly would be expressed by, "by day daily." Which expression I think signifieth the same as that which hath been said, to wit, "from day unto day." For daily this He doeth even unto the end, He leadeth captive captivity, receiving gifts in men.

26. And because He leadeth that chariot unto the end, He continueth and saith, "A prosperous journey there shall make for us the God of our healths, our God, the God of making men safe" (ver. 20). Highly is grace here commended. For who would be safe, unless He Himself should make whole? But that it might not occur to the mind, Why then do we die, if through His grace we have been made safe? immediately he added below, "and the Lord's is the outgoing of death:" as though he were saying, Why are thou indignant, O lot of humanity, that thou hast the outgoing of death? Even thy Lord's outgoing was no other than that of death. Rather therefore be comforted than be indignant: for even "the Lord's is the outgoing of death." "For by hope we have been saved: but if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it."[9] Patiently therefore even death itself let us suffer, by the example of Him, who though by no sin He was debtor to death, and was the Lord, from whom no one could take away life, but Himself laid it down of Himself, yet had Himself the outgoing of death.

27. "Nevertheless, God shall break in pieces the heads of His enemies, the scalp of hair of men walking on in their transgressions" (ver. 21): that is, too much exalting themselves, being too proud in their transgressions: wherein at least they ought to be humble, saying, "O Lord, be Thou merciful to me a sinner."[10]But He shall break in pieces their heads: for he that exalteth himself shall be humbled.[11] And thus though even of the Lord be the outgoing of death: nevertheless the same Lord, because He was God, and died after the flesh of His own will, not of necessity, "shall[12] break in pieces the heads of His enemies:" not only of those who mocked and crucified Him, and wagged their heads, and said, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross;"[13] but also of all men lifting up themselves against His doctrine, and deriding His death as though it were of a man. For that very same One of whom hath been said, "Others He saved, Himself He cannot save,"[1] is the "God of our healths," and is the "God of saving men:" but for an example of humility and of patience, and to efface the handwriting of our sins, He even willed that the outgoing of death should be His own, that we: might not fear that death, but rather this from which He hath delivered us through that. Nevertheless, though mocked and dead, "He shall break[2] in pieces the heads of His enemies," of whom He saith, "Raise Thou me up, and I shall render to them:"[3] whether it be good things for evil things, while to Himself He subdueth the heads of them believing, or whether just things for unjust things, while He punisheth the heads of them proud. For in either way are shattered and broken the heads of enemies, when from pride they are thrown down, whether by humility being amended, or whether unto the lowest depths of hell being hurled.

28. "The Lord hath said, Out of Basan I will be turned" (ver. 22): or, as some copies have, "Out of Basan I will turn." For He turneth that we may be safe, of whom above hath been said, "God of our healths, and God of saving men."[4] For to Him elsewhere also is said, "O God of virtues, turn Thou us, and show Thy face, and safe we shall be."[5] Also in another place, "Turn us, O God of our healths."[6] But he hath said, "Out of Basan I will turn." Basan is interpreted confusion. What is then, I will turn out of confusion, but that there is confounded because of his sins, he that is praying of the mercy of God that they may be put away? Thence it is that the Publican dared not even to lift up his eyes to Heaven:[7] so, on considering himself, was he confounded; but he went down justified,[8] because "the Lord hath said, Out of Basan I will turn." Basan is also interpreted drought: and rightly the Lord is understood to turn out of drought, that is, out of scarcity. For they that think themselves to be in plenty, though they be famished; and full, though they be altogether empty; are not turned. ... "I will turn unto the deep of the sea." If, "I will turn," why, "unto the deep of the sea"? Unto Himself indeed the Lord turneth, when savingly He turneth, and He is not surely Himself the deep of the sea. Doth perchance the Latin expression deceive us, and hath there been put "unto the deep," for a translation of what signifieth "deeply "? For He doth not turn Himself: but He turneth those that in the deep of this world lie sunk down with the weight of sins, in that place where one that is turned saith, "From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord."[9] But if it is not, "I will turn," but, "I will be turned unto the deep of the sea;" our Lord is understood to have said, how by His own mercy He was turned even unto the deep of the sea, to deliver even those that were sinners in most desperate case. Though in one Greek copy I have found, not, "unto the deep," but "in the depths," that is, en buqois: which strengtheneth the former sense, because even there God turneth to Himself men crying from the depths. And even if He be understood Himself there to be turned, to deliver such sort also, it is not beside the purpose: and so then He turneth, or else to deliver them is so turned, that His foot is stained in blood. Which to the Lord Himself the Prophet speaketh: "That Thy foot may be stained in blood" (ver. 23): that is, in order that they themselves who are turned to Thee, or to deliver whom Thou art turned, though in the deep of the sea by the burden of iniquity they may have been sunk, may make so great proficiency by Thy Grace (for where there hath abounded sin, there hath superabounded grace[10]), that they may become Thy foot among Thy members, to preach Thy Gospel, and for Thy name's sake drawing out a long martyrdom, even unto blood they may contend. For thus, as I judge, more meetly is perceived His foot stained in blood.

29. Lastly, he addeth, "The tongue of Thy dogs out of enemies by Himself," calling those very same that had been about to strive for the faith of the Gospel, even dogs, as though barking for their Lord. Not those dogs, whereof saith the Apostle, "Beware of dogs:"[11] but those that eat of the crumbs which fall from the table of their masters. For having confessed this, the woman of Canaan merited to hear, "O woman, great is thy faith, be it done to thee as thou wilt."[12] Dogs commendable, not abominable; observing fidelity towards their master, and before his house barking against enemies. Not i only "of dogs" he hath said, but "of Thy dogs:" nor are their teeth praised, but their tongue is: for it was not indeed to no purpose, not without a great mystery, that Gedeon was bidden to lead those alone, who should lap the water of the river like dogs;[13] and of such sort not more than three hundred among so great a multitude were found. In which number is the sign of the Cross because of the letter T, which in the Greek numeral characters signifieth three hundred. Of such dogs in another Psalm also said, "They shall be turned at even, and hunger they shall suffer as dogs." For even some dogs have been reproved by the Prophet Isaiah, not because they were dogs, but because they knew not how to bark, and loved to sleep.[15] In which place indeed he hath shown, that if they had watched and barked for their Lord, they would have been praiseworthy dogs: just as they are praised, of whom is said, "The tongue of Thy dogs." ...

30. "There have been seen Thy steps, O God" (ver. 24). The steps are those wherewith Thou hast come through the world, as though in that chariot Thou wast going to traverse the round world; which chariot of clouds He intimateth to be His holy and faithful ones in the Gospel, where He saith, "From this time[1] ye shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds."[2] Leaving out that coming wherein He shall be Judge of quick and dead,[3] "From this time," He saith, "ye shall see the Son of Man coming in clouds." These "Thy steps have been seen," that is, have been manifested, by the revealing the grace of the New Testament. Whence hath been said, "How beautiful are the feet of them that proclaim peace, that proclaim good things!"[4] For this grace and those steps were lying hid in the Old Testament: but when there came the fulness of time, and it pleased God to reveal His Son,[5] that He might be proclaimed among the Gentiles, "there were seen Thy steps, O God: the steps of my God, of the[6] King who is in the holy place." In what holy place, save in His Temple? "For the Temple of God is holy," he saith, "which ye are."[7]

31. But in order that those steps might be seen, "there went before princes conjoined with men psalming, in the midst of damsels players on timbrels" (ver. 25). The princes are the Apostles: for they went before, that the peoples might come in multitudes. "They went before" proclaiming the New Testament: "conjoined with men psalming," by whose good works that were even visible, as it were with instruments of praise, God was glorified. But those same princes are "in the midst of damsels players on timbrels," to wit, in an honourable ministry: for thus in the midst are ministers set over new Churches; for this is "damsels:" with flesh subdued praising God; for this is "players on timbrels," because timbrels are made of skin dried and stretched.

32. Therefore, that no one should take these words in a carnal sense, and by these words should conceive in his mind certain choral bands of wantonness, he continueth and saith, "In the Churches bless ye the Lord" (ver. 26): as though he were saying, wherefore, when ye hear of damsels, players on timbrels, do ye think of wanton pleasures? "In the Churches bless ye the Lord." For the Churches are pointed out to you by this mystic intimation: the Churches are the damsels, with new grace decked: the Churches are the players on the timbrels, with chastened flesh being spiritually tuneful. "In the Churches," then, "bless ye the Lord God from the wells of Israel." For from thence He first chose those whom He made wells. For from thence were chosen the Apostles; and they first heard, "He that shall have drunk of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst, but there shall be made in him a well of water springing unto life everlasting."[8]

33. "There is Benjamin the younger in a trance" (ver. 27). There is Paul the last of the Apostles, who saith, "For even I am an Israelite, out of the seed of Abraham, out of the tribe of Benjamin."[9] But evidently "in a trance," all men being amazed at a miracle so great as that of his calling. For a trance is the mind's going out: which thing sometimes chanceth through fear; but sometimes through some revelation, the mind suffering separation from the corporal senses, in order that that which is to be represented may be represented to the spirit. Whence even thus may be understood that which here hath been written, namely, "in a trance;" for when to that persecutor there had been said [10] from Heaven, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me:"[11] there being taken from him the light of the eyes of flesh, he made answer to the Lord, whom in spirit he saw, but they that were with him heard the voice of him replying, though seeing no one to whom he was speaking. Here also the trance may be understood to be that one of his, whereof he himself speaking, saith, that he knew a man caught up even unto the third Heaven; but whether in the body, or whether out of the body, he knew not:[12] but that he being caught up into Paradise, heard ineffable words, which it was not lawful for a man to speak. "Princes of Juda the leaders of them, princes of Zabulon, princes of Nephthalim." Since he is indicating the Apostles as princes, wherein is even "Benjamin the younger in a trance," in which words that Paul is indicated no one doubteth; or when under the name of princes there are indicated in the Churches all men excelling and most worthy of imitation: what mean these names of the tribes of Israel? ... For the names are Hebrew: whereof Juda is said to be interpreted confession, Zabulon habitation of strength, Nephthalim my enlargement. All which words do intimate to us the most proper princes of the Church, worthy of their leadership, worthy of imitation, worthy of honours. For the Martyrs in the Churches hold the highest place, and by the crown of holy worth they do excel. But however in martyrdom the first thing is confession, and for this is next put on strength to endure whatsoever shall have chanced; then after all things have been endured, straits being ended, breadth followeth in reward. It may also thus be understood; that whereas the Apostle chiefly commendeth these three things, faith, hope, love;[1] confession is in faith, strength in hope, breadth in love. For of faith the substance is, that with the heart men believe unto righteousness, but with the mouth confession be made unto salvation.[2] But in sufferings of tribulations the thing itself is sorrowful, but the hope is strong. For, "if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it."[3] But breadth the shedding abroad of love in the heart doth give. For "love perfected casteth out fear:" which fear "hath torment,"[4] because of the straits of the soul. ...

34. "Command, O God, Thy Virtue" (ver. 28). For one is our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things,[5] and we in Him, of whom we read that He is "the Virtue of God and the Wisdom of God."[6] But how doth God command His Christ, save while He commendeth Him? For "God commendeth His love in us, in that while yet we were sinners, for us Christ died."[7] "How hath He not also with Him given to us all things?"[8] "Command, O God, Thy Virtue: confirm, O God, that which Thou hast wrought in us."Command by teaching, confirm by aiding.

35. "From Thy Temple in Jerusalem, to Thee kings shall offer presents" (ver. 29). Jerusalem, which is our free mother,[9] because the same also is Thy holy Temple: from that Temple then, "to Thee kings shall offer presents." Whatever kings be understood, whether kings of the earth, or whether those whom" He that is above the heavens distinguisheth over the dove silvered; " "to Thee kings shall offer presents." And what presents are so acceptable[10] as the sacrifices of praise? But there is a noise against this praise, from men bearing the name of Christian, and having diverse opinions. Be there done that which followeth, "Rebuke Thou the beasts of the cane"[11] (ver. 30). For both beasts they are, since by not understanding they do hurt: and beasts of the cane they are, since the sense of the Scriptures they wrest according to their own misapprehension. For in the cane the Scriptures are as reasonably perceived, as language in tongue, according to the mode of expression whereby the Hebrew or the Greek or the Latin tongue is spoken of, or the like; that is to say, by the efficient cause the thing which is being effected is implied. Now it is usual in the Latin language for writing to be called style, because with the stilus it is done: so then cane also, because with a cane it is done. The Apostle Peter saith, that "men unlearned and unstable do wrest the Scriptures to their own proper destruction:"[12] these are the beasts of the cane, whereof here is said, "Rebuke Thou the beasts of the cane."

36. Concerning these also is that which followeth, "The congregation of bulls amid the cows of the peoples, in order that there may be excluded they that have been tried with silver."[13] Calling them bulls because of the pride of a stiff and untamed neck: for he is referring to heretics. But by "the cows of the peoples," I think souls easily led astray must be understood, because easily they follow these bulls. For they lead not astray entire peoples, among whom are men grave and stable; whence hath been written, "In a people grave I will praise Thee: "[14] but only the cows which they may have found among those peoples. "For of these are they that steal into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, who are led with divers lusts, alway learning, and at the knowledge of the truth never arriving."[15] ... For, "may be excluded," hath been said, meaning, may appear, may stand forth: as he saith, "may be made manifest." Whence also, in the art of the silversmith, they are called exclusores, who out of the shapelessness of the lump are skilled to mould the form of a vessel. For many meanings of the holy Scriptures are concealed, and are known only to a few of singular intelligence, and are never vindicated so suitably and acceptably as when our diligence to make answer to heretics constraineth us. For then even they that neglect the pursuits of learning, shaking off their slumber, are stirred up to a diligent hearing, in order that their opponents may be refuted. In a word, how many senses of holy Scriptures concerning Christ as God have been vindicated against Photinus, how many concerning Christ as man against Manichaeus, how many concerning the Trinity against Sabellius, how many concerning the Unity of the Trinity against Arians, Eunomians, Macedonians? How many concerning the Catholic Church in the whole world spread abroad, against Donatists, and Luciferians, and others, whoever they be, that with like error dissent from the truth: how many against the rest of heretics, whom to enumerate or mention were too long a task, and for the present work unnecessary? ... Of whom, as it were bulls, that is, not subject to the peaceful and gentle yoke of discipline, the Apostle maketh mention, in the place where he hath said that such an one must be chosen for the Episcopate as is "able to exhort in sound doctrine and to convince the gainsayers. For there are many unruly;"[1] these are bulls with uplifted neck, impatient of plough and yoke: vain-talkers and leaders astray of minds; which minds this Psalm hath intimated under the name of cows. ...

37. "There shall come ambassadors out of Egypt, Ethiopia shall prevent the hands of Him" (ver. 31). Under the name of Egypt or of Ethiopia, he hath signified the faith of all nations, from a part the whole: calling the preachers of reconciliation ambassadors. "For Christ," he saith, "we have an embassy, God as it were exhorting through us: we beseech you for Christ to be reconciled to God."[2] Not then of the Israelites alone, whence the Apostles were chosen, but also from the rest of the nations that there should be preachers of Christian peace, in this manner hath been mystically prophesied. But by that which he saith, "shall prevent the hands of Him," he saith this, shall prevent the vengeance of Him: to wit, by turning to Him, in order that their sins may be forgiven, lest by continuing sinners they be punished. Which thing also in another Psalm iS said," Let us come before[3] the face of Him in confession."[4] As by hands he signifieth vengeance, so by face, revelation and presence, which will be in the Judgment. Because then, by Egypt and Ethiopia he hath signified the nations of the whole world; immediately he hath subjoined, "to God (are) the kingdoms of the earth." Not to Sabellius, not to Arius, not to Donatus, not to the rest of the bulls stiff-necked, but "to God (are) the kingdoms of the earth." But the greater number of Latin copies, and especially the Greek, have the verses so punctuated, that there is not one verse in these words, "to God the kingdoms of the earth," but, "to God," is at the end of the former verse, and so there is said, "Ethiopia shall come before the hands of her to God," and then there followeth in another verse, "Kingdoms of the earth, sing ye to God, psalm ye to the Lord" (ver. 32). By which punctuation, doubtless to be preferred by the agreement of many copies, and those deserving of credit, there seemeth to me to be implied faith which precedeth works: because without the merits of good works through faith the ungodly is justified, just as the Apostle said, "To one believing in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness:"[5] in order that afterwards faith itself through love may begin to work. For those alone are to be called good works,[6] which are done through love of God. But these faith must needs go before, so that from thence these may begin, not from these this. ... This is faith, whereof to the Church Herself is said in the Song of Songs, "Thou shalt come and shalt pass hence from the beginning of faith."[7] For She hath come[8] like the chariot of God in thousands of men rejoicing, having a prosperous course, and She hath passed over from this world to the Father: in order that there may come to pass in Her that which the Bridegroom Himself saith, who hath passed hence from this world to the Father? "I will that where I am, these also may be with Me:"[10] but from the beginning of faith. Because then in order that good works may follow, faith doth precede; and there are not any good works, save those which follow faith preceding: nothing else seemeth to have been meant in, "Ethiopia shall come before the hands of her to God," but, Ethiopia shall believe in God. For thus she "shall come before the hands of her," that is, the works of her. Of whom, except of Ethiopia herself? For this in the Greek is not ambiguous: for the word "of her"[11] there in the feminine gender most clearly hath been put down. And thus nothing else hath been said than" Ethiopia shall come before her hands to God," that is, by believing in God she shall come before her works. For, "I judge," saith the Apostle, "that a man is justified through faith without the works of the Law. Is He God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles?"[12] So then Ethiopia, which seemeth to be the utmost limit of the Gentiles, is justified through faith, without the works of the Law. ... For the expression in Greek, ceraa auths, which most copies have, both of "hand of her" and "her own hand" may be understood: but that which is uncommon in the Greek copies,cera auths, by both "hands of her" and "her own[13] hands," in Latin may be expressed.

38. Henceforward, as if through prophecy all things had been discoursed of which now we see fulfilled, he exhorteth to the praise of Christ, and next He foretelleth His future Advent. "Kingdoms of earth, sing ye to God, psalm ye to the Lord: psalm ye to God, who hath ascended above the Heaven of Heavens to the East" (ver. 33). Or, as some copies have it, "who hath ascended above the Heaven of Heaven to the East." In these words he preceiveth not Christ, who believeth not His Resurrection and Ascension. But hath not "to the East," which he hath added, expressed the very spot; since in the quarters of the East is where He rose again, and whence He ascended? Therefore above the Heaven of Heaven He sitteth at the right hand of the Father. This is what the Apostle saith, "the Same is He that hath ascended above all Heavens."[1] For what of Heavens doth remain after the Heaven of Heaven? Which also we may call the Heavens of Heavens, just as He hath called the firmanent Heaven:[2] which Heaven, however, even as Heavens we read of, in the place where there is written, "and let the waters which are above the Heavens praise the name of the Lord."[3] And forasmuch as from thence He is to come,[4] to judge quick and dead, observe what followeth: "behold, He shall give His voice, the voice of power."[5] He that like a lamb before the shearer of Him was without voice,[6] "behold shall give His voice," and not the voice of weakness, as though to be judged; but "the voice of power," as though going to judge. For God shall not be hidden, as before, and in the judgment of men not opening His mouth; but "God shall come manifest, our God, and He shall not be silent."[7] Why do ye despair, ye unbelieving men? Why do ye mock? What saith the evil servant? "My Lord delayeth to come."[8] "Behold, He shall give His voice, the voice of power."

39. "Give ye glory to God, above Israel is the magnificence of Him" (ver. 34). Of whom saith the Apostle, "Upon the Israel of God."[9] For "not all that are out of Israel, are Israelites: "[10] for there is also an Israel after the flesh. Whence he saith, "See ye Israel after the flesh."[11] "For not they that are sons of the flesh, are sons of God, but sons of promise are counted for a seed."[12] Therefore at that time when without any intermixture of evil men His people shall be, like a heap purged by the fan,[13] like Israel in whom guile is not,[14] then most pre-eminent "above Israel" shall be "the magnificence" of "Him: and the virtue of Him in the clouds." For not alone He shall come to judgment, but with the elders of His people:[15] to whom He hath promised that they shall sit upon thrones to judge,[16] who even shall judge angels.[17] These be the clouds.

40. Lastly, lest of anything else the clouds be understood, he hath in continuation added, "Wonderful is God in His saints, the God of israel" (ver. 35). For at that time even most truly and most fully there shall be fulfilled the name Israel itself, which is one "seeing God :" for we shall see Him as He is.[18] "He Himself shall give virtue[19] and strength to His people, blessed be God:" to His people now frail and weak. For "we have this treasure in earthen vessels."[20] But then by a most glorious changing even of our bodies, "He Himself shall give virtue and strength to His people." For this body is sown in weakness, shall rise in virtue.[21] He Himself then shall give the virtue which in His own flesh He hath sent before, whereof the Apostle saith, "the power of His Resurrection."[22] But strength whereby shall be destroyed the enemy death.[23] Now then of this long and difficultly understood Psalm we have at length by His own aid made an end. "Blessed be God. Amen."

 

 

 

 
 
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