Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 69 - 71
1. We have been born into this world, and added to the people of God, at that period wherein already the herb from a grain of mustard seed hath spread out its branches; wherein already the leaven, which at first was contemptible, hath leavened three measures, that is, the whole round world repeopled by the three sons of Noe: for from East and West and North and South shall come they that shall sit down with the Patriarchs, while those shall have been driven without, that have been born of their flesh and have not imitated their faith. Unto his glory then of Christ's Church our eyes we have opened; and that barren one, for whom joy was proclaimed and foretold, because she was to have more sons than she that had the husband? her we have found to be such an one as hath forgotten the reproaches and infamy of her widowhood: and so we may perhaps wonder when we chance to read in any prophecy the words of Christ's humiliation, or our own. And it may be, that we are less affected by them; because we have not come at that time when these things were read with zest, in that tribulation abounded. But again if we think of the abundance of tribulations, and observe the way wherein we are walking (if indeed we do walk in it), how narrow it is, and how through straits and tribulations it leadeth unto rest everlasting, and how that very thing which in human affairs is called felicity, is more to be feared than misery; since indeed misery ofttimes doth bring out of tribulation a good fruit, but felicity doth corrupt the soul with a perverse security, and giveth place for the Devil the Tempter--when, I say, we shall have judged prudently and rightly, as the salted victim did, that "human life upon earth is trial," and that no one is at all secure, nor ought to be secure, until he be come to that country, whence no one that is a friend goeth forth, into which no one that is an enemy is admitted, even now in the very glory of the Church we acknowledge the voices of our tribulation: and being members of Christ, subject to our Head in the bond of love, and mutually supporting one another, we will say from the Psalms, that which here we have found the Martyrs said, who were before us; that tribulation is common to all men from the beginning even unto the end. ...
2. The Title of the Psalm is: "Unto the end, in behalf of those that shall be changed, to David himself." Now of the change for the better hear thou; for change either is for the worse or for the better. ... That we have been changed then for the worse, to ourselves let us ascribe: that for the better we are changed, let us praise God. "For those," then," that shall be changed," this Psalm is. But whence hath this change been made but by the Passion of Christ? The very word Pascha in Latin is interpreted passage. For Pascha is not a Greek word but a Hebrew. It soundeth indeed in the Greek language like Passion, because pacsein signifieth to suffer: but if the Hebrew expression be examined, it pointeth to something else. Pascha doth intimate passage. Of which even John the Evangelist hath admonished us, who (just before the Passion when the Lord was coming to the supper wherein He set forth the Sacrament of His Body and Blood) thus speaketh: "But when there had come the hour, wherein Jesus was to pass from this world to the Father." He hath expressed then the "passage" of the Pascha. But unless He passed Himself hence to the Father, who came for our sake, how should we have been able to pass hence, who have not come down for the sake of taking up anything, but have fallen? But He Himself fell not; He but came down, in order that He might raise up him that had fallen. The passage therefore both of Him and of us is hence to the Father, from this world to the kingdom of Heaven, from life mortal to life everlasting, froth life earthly to life heavenly, from life corruptible to life incorruptible, from intimacy with tribulations to perpetual security. Accordingly, "In behalf of them that shall be changed," the Psalm's title is. The cause therefore of our change, that is, the very Passion of the Lord and our own voice in tribulations in the text of the Psalm let us observe, let us join in knowing, join in groaning, and in hearing, in joint-knowing, joint-groaning, let us be changed, in order that there may be fulfilled in us the Title of the Psalm, "In behalf of them that shall be changed."
3. "Save me, O God, for the waters have entered in even unto my soul" (ver. 1). That grain is despised now, that seemeth to give forth humble words. In the garden it is buried, though the world will admire the greatness of the herb, of which herb the seed was despised by the Jews. For in very deed observe ye the seed of the mustard, minute, dull coloured, altogether despicable, in order that therein may be fulfilled that which hath been said, We have seen Him, and He had neither form nor comeliness. But He saith, that waters have come in even unto His soul; because those multitudes, which under the name of waters He hath pointed out, were able so far to prevail as to kill Christ. ... Whence then doth He so cry out, as though He were suffering something against His will, except because the Head doth prefigure the Members? For He suffered because He willed: but the Martyrs even though they willed not; for to Peter thus He foretold his passion: "When thou shalt be old," He saith, "another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wilt not." For though we desire to cleave to Christ, yet we are unwilling to die: and therefore willingly or rather patiently we suffer, because no other passage is given us, through which we may cleave to Christ. For if we could in any other way arrive at Christ, that is, at life everlasting, who would be willing to die? For while explaining our nature, that is, a sort of association of soul and body, and in these two parts a kind of intimacy of gluing and fastening together, the Apostle saith, that "we have a House not made with hands, everlasting in the Heavens:" that is, immortality prepared for us, wherewith we are to be clothed at the end, when we shall have risen from the dead; and he saith, "Wherein we are not willing to be stripped, but to be clothed upon, that the mortal may be swallowed up of life." If it might so be, we should so will, he saith, to become immortal, as that now that same immortality might come, and now as we are it should change us, in order that this our mortal body by life should be swallowed up, and the body should not be laid aside through death, so as at the end again to have to be recovered. Although then from evil to good things we pass, nevertheless the very passage is somewhat bitter, and hath the gall which the Jews gave to the Lord in the Passion, hath something sharp to be endured, whereby they are shown that gave Him vinegar to drink. ... For here both sweet are temporal pleasures, and bitter are temporal tribulations: but who would not drink the cup of tribulation temporal, fearing the fire of hell; and who would not contemn the sweetness of the world, longing for the sweetness of life eternal? From hence that we may be delivered let us cry: lest perchance amidst oppressions we consent to iniquity, and truly irreparably we be swallowed up.
4. Fixed I am in the clay of the deep, and there is no substance" (ver. 2). What called the clay? Is it those very persons that have persecuted? For out of clay man hath been made. But these men by falling from righteousness have become the clay of the deep, and whosoever shall not have consented to them persecuting and desiring to draw him to iniquity, out of his clay doth make gold. For the clay of the same shall merit to be converted into a heavenly form, and to be made associate of those of whom saith the Title of the Psalm, "in behalf of them that shall be changed." But at the time when these were the clay of the deep. I stuck in them: that is, they held Me, prevailed against Me, killed Me. "Fixed" then "I am in the clay of the deep, and there is no substance." What is this, "there is no substance "? Can it be that clay itself is not a substance? What is then, "fixed I am"? Can it be that Christ hath thus stuck? Or hath He stuck, and was not, as hath been said in the book of Job, "the earth delivered into the hands of the ungodly man"? Was He fixed in body, because it could be held, and suffered even crucifixion? For unless with nails He had been fixed, crucified He had not been. Whence then "there is no substance"? Is that clay not a substance? But we shall understand, if it be possible, what is, "and there is no substance," if first we shall have understood what is a substance. For there is substance spoken of even of riches, as we say, he hath substance, and he hath lost substance. ...
5. God is a sort of substance: for that which is no substance, is nothing at all. To be a substance then is to be something. Whence also in the Catholic Faith against the poisons of certain heretics thus we are builded up, so that we say, Father and Son and Holy Spirit are of one substance. What is, of one substance? For example, if gold is the Father, gold is also the Son, gold also the Holy Spirit. Whatever the Father is because He is God, the same is the Son, the same the Holy Spirit. But when He is the Father, this is not what He is. For Father He is called not in reference to Himself, but in reference to the Son: but in reference to Himself God He is called. Therefore in that He is God, by the same He is a substance. And because of the same substance the Son is, without doubt the Son also is God. But yet in that He is Father, because it is not the name of the substance, but is referred to the Son; we do not say that the Son is Father in the same manner as we say the Son is God. Thou askest what the Father is; we answer, God. Thou askest what is the Father and the Son: we answer, God. If questioned of the Father alone, answer thou God: if questioned of both, not Gods, but God, answer thou. We do not reply as in the case of men, when thou inquirest what is father Abraham, we answer a man; the substance of him serveth for answer: thou inquirest what is his son Isaac, we answer, a man; of the same substance are Abraham and Isaac: thou inquirest what is Abraham and Isaac, we answer not man, but men. Not so in things divine. For so great in this case is the fellowship of substance, that of equality it alloweth, plurality alloweth not. If then it shall have been said to thee, when thou tellest me that the Son is the same as the Father, in fact the Son also is the Father; answer thou, according to the substance I have told thee that the Son is the same as the Father, not according to that term which is used in reference to something else. For in reference to Himself He is called God, in reference to the Father is called Son. And again, the Father in reference to Himself is called God, in reference to the Son He is called Father. The Father as He is called in reference to the Son, is not the Son: the Son as He is called in reference to the Father, is not the Father: what the Father is called in reference to Himself and the Son in reference to Himself, the same is Father and Son, that is, God. What is then, "there is no substance"? After this interpretation of substance, how shall we be able to understand this passage of the Psalm, "Fixed I am in the clay of the deep, and there is no substance"? God made man, He made substance; and O that he had continued in that which God made Him! If man had continued in that which God made him, in him would not have been fixed He whom God begot. But moreover because through iniquity man fell from the substance wherein he was made (for iniquity itself is no substance; for iniquity is not a nature which God formed, but a perverseness which man made); the Son of God came to the clay of the deep, and was fixed; and that was no substance wherein He was fixed, because in the iniquity of them He was fixed. "All things by Him were made, and without Him there was made nothing." All natures by Him were made, iniquity by Him was not made, because iniquity was not made. Those substances by Him were made, which praise Him. The whole creation praising God is commemorated by the, three children in the furnace, and from things earthly to things heavenly, or from things heavenly to things earthly reacheth the hymn of them praising God. Not that all these things have sense to praise; but because all things being well meditated upon, do beget praise, and the heart by considering creation is fulfilled to overflowing with a hymn to the Creator. All things do praise God, but only the things which God hath made. Do ye observe in that hymn that covetousness praiseth God? There even the serpent praiseth God, covetousness praiseth not. For all creeping things are there named in the praise of God: there are named all creeping things; but there are not there named any vices. For vices out of ourselves and out of our own will we have: and vices are not a substance. In these was fixed the Lord, when He suffered persecution: in the vice of the Jews, not in the substance of men which by Him was made.
6. "I have come into the depth of the sea, and the tempest hath made Me to sink down." Thanks to the mercy of Him who came into the depth of the sea, and vouchsafed to be swallowed by the sea whale, but was vomited forth the third day. He came into the depth of the sea, in which depth we were thrust down, in which depth we had suffered shipwreck: He came thither Himself, and the tempest made Him to sink down: for there He suffered waves, those very men; tempests, the voices of men saying, "Crucify, Crucify." Though Pilate said, I find not any cause in this Man why He should be killed: there prevailed the voices of them, saying, "Crucify, Crucify." The tempest increased, until He was made to sink down that had come into the depth of the sea. And the Lord suffered in the hands of the Jews that which He suffered not when upon the waters He was walking: the which not only He had riot suffered Himself, but had not allowed even Peter to suffer it.
7. "I have laboured, crying, hoarse have become my jaws" (ver. 3). Where was this? When was this? Let us question the Gospel. For the Passion of our Lord in this Psalm we perceive. And, indeed, that He suffered we know; that there came in waters even unto His Soul, because peoples prevailed even unto His death, we read, we believe; in the tempest that He was sunk down, because tumult prevailed to His killing, we acknowledge: but that He laboured in crying, and that His jaws were made hoarse, not only we read not, but even on the contrary we read, that He answered not to them a word, in order that there might be fulfilled that which in another Psalm hath been said, "I have become as it were a man not hearing, and having not in his mouth reproofs." And that which in Isaiah hath been prophesied," like a sheep to be sacrificed He was led, and like a lamb before one shearing Him, so He opened not His mouth." If He became like a man not hearing, and having not in His mouth reproofs, how did He labour crying, and how were His jaws made hoarse? Is it that He was even then silent, because He was hoarse with having cried so much in vain? And this indeed we know to have been His voice on the Cross out of a certain Psalm:' "0 God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" But how great was that voice, or of how long duration, that in it His jaws should have become hoarse? Long while He cried, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees:" long while He cried, "Woe unto the world because of offences." And truly hoarse in a manner He cried, and therefore was not understood, when the Jews said, What is this that He saith? "Hard is this saying, who is able to hear it?" We know not what He saith. He said all these words: but hoarse were His jaws to them that understood not His words. "Mine eyes have failed from hoping in My God." Far be it that this should be taken of the person of the Head: far be it that His eyes should have failed from hoping in His God: in whom rather there was God reconciling the world to Himself, and Who was the Word made flesh and dwelled in us, so that not only God was in Him, but also He was Himself God. Not so then: the eyes of Himself, our Head, failed not from hoping in His God: but the eyes of Him have failed in His Body, that is, in His members. This voice is of the members, this voice is of the Body, not of the Head. How then do we find it in His Body and members? ...
8. Thus "there have been multiplied above the hairs of My head they that hate Me gratis" (ver. 4). How multiplied? So as that they might add to themselves even one out of the twelve "There have been multiplied above the hairs of My head they that hate Me for nought." With the hairs of His head He hath compared His enemies. With reason they were shorn when in the place of Calvary He was crucified. Let the members accept this voice, let them learn to be hated gratis. For now, O Christian, if it must needs be that the world hate thee, why dost thou not make it hate thee gratis, in order that in the Body of thy Lord and in this Psalm sent before concerning Him, thou mayest acknowledge thy own voice? How shall it come to pass that the world hate thee gratis? If thou no wise huttest any one, and art still hated: for this is gratis, without cause. ...
9. "O God, Thou hast known mine improvidence" (ver. 5). Again out of the mouth of the Body. For what improvidence is there in Christ? Is He not Himself the Virtue of God, and the Wisdom of God? Doth He call this His improvidence, whereof the Apostle speaketh, "the foolishness of God is wiser than men"? Mine improvidence, that very thing which in Me they derided that seem to themselves to be wise, Thou hast known why it was done. For what was so much like improvidence, as, when He had it in His power with one word to lay low the persecutors, to suffer Himself to be held, scourged, spit upon, buffeted, with thorns to be crowned, to the tree to be nailed? It is like improvidence, it seemeth a foolish thing; but this foolish thing excelleth all wise men. Foolish indeed it is: but even when grain falleth into the earth, if no one knoweth the custom of husbandmen, it seemeth foolish. ... Improvidence it appeareth; but hope maketh it not to be improvidence. He then spared not Himself: because even the Father spared Him not, but delivered Him up for us all. And of the Same, "Who loved me," saith the Apostle, "and delivered up Himself for me:" for except a grain shall have fallen into the land so that it die, fruit, He saith, it will not yield. This is the improvidence. "And my transgressions from Thee are not concealed." It is plain, clear, open, that this must be perceived to be out of the mouth of the Body. Transgressions none had Christ: He was the bearer of transgressions, but not the committer. "Are not concealed:" that is, I have confessed to Thee, all my transgressions, and before my mouth Thou hast seen them in my thought, hast seen the wounds which Thou wast to heal. But where? Even in the Body, in the members: in those believers out of whom there was now cleaving to Him that member, who was confessing his sins.
10. "Let them not blush in Me, that wait for Thee, O Lord, Lord of virtues" (ver. 6). Again, the voice of the Head, "Let them not blush in Me:" let it not be said to them, Where is He on whom ye were relying? Let it not be said to them, Where is He that was saying to you, Believe yet God, and in Me believe? "Let them not blush in Me, that wait for Thee," O Lord, Lord of virtues. Let them not be confounded concerning Me, that seek Thee, O God of Israel." This also may be understood of the Body, but only if thou consider the Body of Him not one man: for in truth one man is not the Body of Him, but a small member, but the Body is made up of members. Therefore the full Body of Him is the whole Church. With reason then saith the Church, "Let them not blush in Me, that wait for Thee, O Lord, Lord of virtues." ...
11. "For because of Thee I have sustained upbraiding, shamelessness hath covered my face" (ver. 7). No great thing is that which is spoken of in "I have sustained:" but that which is spoken of in "for Thy sake I have sustained," is. For if thou sustainest because thou hast sinned; for thine own sake thou sustainest, not for the sake of God. For to you what glory is there, saith Peter, if sinning ye are punished, and ye bear it? But if thou sustainest because thou hast kept the commandment of God, truly for the sake of God thou sustainest; and thy reward remaineth for everlasting, because for the sake of God thou hast sustained revilings. For to this end He first sustained in order that we might learn to sustain. ..."Shamelessness hath covered my face." Shamelessness is what? Not to be confused. Lastly, it seemeth to be as it were a fault, when we say, the man is shameless. Great is the shamelessness of the man, that he doth not blush. Therefore shamelessness is a kind of folly. A Christian ought to have this shamelessness, when he cometh among men to whom Christ is an offence. If he shall have blushed because of Christ, he will be blotted out from the book of the living. Thou must needs therefore have shamelessness when Thou art reviled because of Christ; when they say, Worshipper of the Crucified, adorer of Him that died ill, venerator of Him that was slain! here if thou shalt blush thou art a dead man. For see the sentence of Him that deceiveth no one. "He that shall have been ashamed of Me before men, I will also be ashamed of him before the Angels of God." Watch therefore thyself whether there be in thee shamelessness; be thou boldfaced, when thou hearest a reproach concerning Christ; yea be boldfaced. Why fearest thou for thy forehead which thou hast armed with the sign of the Cross? ...
12. "An alien I have become to My brethren, and a stranger to the sons of My mother" (ver. 8). To the sons of the Synagogue He became a stranger. ... Why so? Why did they not acknowledge? Why did they call Him an alien? Why did they dare to say, we know not whence He is? "Because the zeal of Thine House hath eaten Me up:" that is, because I have persecuted in them their own iniquities, because I have not patiently borne those whom I have rebuked, because I have sought Thy glory in Thy House, because I have scourged them that in the Temple dealt unseemly: in which place also there is quoted, "the zeal of Thine House hath eaten Me up." Hence an alien, hence a Stranger; hence, we know not whence He is. They would have acknowledged whence I am, if they had acknowledged that which Thou hast commanded. For if I had found them keeping Thy commandments, the zeal of Thine House would not have eaten Me up. "And the reproaches of men reproaching Thee haven fallen upon Me." Of this testimony Paul the Apostle hath also made use (there hath been read but now the very lesson), and saith, "Whatsoever things aforetime have been written, have been written that we might be instructed." ... Why "Thee"? Is the Father reproached, and not Christ Himself? Why have "the reproaches of men reproaching Thee fallen upon Me"? Because, "he that hath known Me, hath known the Father also:" because no one hath reviled Christ without reviling God: because no one honoureth the Father, except he that honoureth the Son also.
13. "And I have covered in fasting My Soul, and it became to Me for a reviling" (ver. 10). His fasting was, when there fell away all they that had believed in Him; because also it was His hunger, that men should believe in Him: because also it was His thirst, when He said to the woman, I thirst, "give Me to drink:" yea for her faith He was thirsting. And from the Cross when He was saying, "I thirst," He was seeking the faith of them for whom He had said, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." But what did those men give to drink to Him thirsty? Vinegar. Vinegar is also called old. With reason of the old man they gave to drink, because they willed not to be new. Why willed they not to become new? Because to the title of this Psalm whereon is written, "For them that shall be changed," they belonged not. Therefore, "I have covered in fasting My Soul." Lastly, He put from Him even the gall which they offered: He chose rather to fast than to accept bitterness. For they enter not into His Body that are embittered, whereof in another place a Psalm saith, "They that are embittered shall not be exalted in themselves." Therefore, "I have covered in fasting My Soul: and it became to Me for a reviling." This very thing became to Me for a reviling, that I consented not to them, that is, from them I fasted. For he that consenteth not to men seducing to evil, fasteth from them; and through this fasting earneth reviling, so that he is upbraided because he consenteth not to the evil thing.
14. "And I have set sackcloth my garment" (ver. 11). Already before we have said something of the sackcloth, from whence there is this, "But I, when they were troubling Me, was covering myself with sackcloth, and was humbling My Soul in fasting. I have set sackcloth for My garment:" that is, have set against them My flesh, on which to spend their rage, I have concealed My divinity. "Sackcloth," because mortal the flesh was: in order that by sin He might condemn sin in the flesh. "And I have set sackcloth my garment: and I have been made to them for a parable," that is, for a derision. It is called a parable, whenever a comparison is made concerning some one, when he is evil spoken of. "So may this man perish," for example, "as that man did," is a parable: that is, a comparison and likeness in cursing. "I have been made to them," then, "for a parable."
15. "Against Me were reviling they that were sitting in the gate" (ver. 12). "In the gate" is nothing else but in public. "And against Me they were chanting, they that were drinking wine." Do ye think, brethren, that this hath befallen Christ alone? Daily to Him in His members it happeneth: whenever perchance it is necessary for the servant of God to forbid excess of wine and luxuries in any village or town, where there hath not been heard the Word of God, it is not enough that they sing, nay more even against him they begin to sing, by whom they are forbidden to sing. Compare ye now His fasting and their wine.
16. "But I with My prayer with Thee, O Lord" (ver. 13). But I was with Thee. But how? With Thee by praying. For when thou art evil spoken of, and knowest not what thou mayest do; when at thee are hurled reproaches, and thou findest not any way of rebuking him by whom they are hurled; nothing remaineth for thee but to pray. But remember even for that very man to pray. "But I with my prayer with Thee, O Lord. It is the time of Thy good pleasure, O God." For behold the grain is being buried, there shall spring up fruit. "It is the time of Thy good pleasure, O God." Of this time even the Prophets have spoken, whereof the Apostle maketh mention: "Behold now the time acceptable, behold now the day of salvation." "It is the time of Thy good pleasure, O God. In the multitude of Thy mercy." This is the time of good pleasure, "in the multitude of Thy mercy." For if there were not a multitude of Thy mercy, what should we do for the multitude of our iniquity? "In the multitude of Thy mercy; Hearken to me in the truth of Thy Salvation." Because He hath said, "of Thy mercy," he hath added truth also: for "mercy and truth" are all the ways of the Lord. Why mercy? In forgiving sins. Why truth? In fulfilling the promises.
17. "Save Thou Me from the mire, that I may not stick" (ver. 14). From that whereof above he had spoken, "Fixed I am in the clay of the deep, and there is no substance." Furthermore, since ye have duly received the exposition of that expression, in this place there is nothing further for you to hear particularly. From hence he saith that he must be delivered, wherein before he said that he was fixed: "Save Thou Me from the mire, that I may not stick." And he explaineth this himself: "Let Me be rescued from them that hate Me." They were themselves therefore the clay wherein he had stuck. But the following perchance suggesteth itself. A little before he had said, Fixed I am; now he saith, Save Thou Me from the mire, that I may not stick:" whereas after the meaning of what was said before he ought to have said, Save Thou Me from the mire where I had stuck, by rescuing Me, not by causing that I stick not. Therefore He had stuck in flesh, but had not stuck in spirit. He saith this, because of the infirmity of His members. Whenever perchance thou art seized by one that urgeth thee to iniquity, thy body indeed is taken, in regard to the body thou art fixed in the clay of the deep: but so long as thou consentest not, thou hast not stuck; but if thou consentest, thou hast stuck. Let then thy prayer be in that place, in order that as thy body is now held, so thy soul may not be held, so thou mayest be free in bonds.
18. "Let not the tempest of waters drown Me" (ver. 15). But already he had been drowned. "I have come into the depth of the sea," thou hast said, and "the tempest hath drowned Me," thou hast said. It hath drowned after the flesh, let it not drown after the Spirit. They to whom was said, If they shall have persecuted you in one city, flee ye into another; had this said to them, that neither in flesh they should stick, nor in spirit. For we must not desire to stick even in flesh; but as far as we are able we ought to avoid it. But if we shall have stuck, and shall have fallen into the hands of sinners: then in body we have stuck, we are fixed in the clay of the deep, it remaineth to entreat for the soul that we stick not, that is, that we consent not, that the tempest of water drown us not, so that we go into the deep of the clay. "Neither let the deep swallow Me, nor the pit close her mouth upon Me." What is this, brethren? What hath he prayed against? Great is the pit of the depth of human iniquity: every one, if he shall have fallen into it, will fall into the deep. But yet if a man being there placed confesseth his sins to his God, the pit will not shut her mouth upon him: as is written in another Psalm, "From the depths I have cried to Thee, O Lord; Lord, hearken unto my voice." But if there is done in him that which another passage of Scripture saith, "When a sinner shall have come into the depth of evil things, he will despise," upon him the pit hath shut her mouth. Why hath she shut her mouth? Because she hath shut his mouth. He hath lost confession, really dead he is, and there is fulfilled in him that which elsewhere is spoken of," From a dead man, as from one that is not, there perisheth confession."...
19. "Hearken unto me, O Lord, for sweet is Thy mercy" (ver. 16). He hath given this as a reason why He ought to be hearkened unto, because sweet is the mercy of God. ... To a man set in trouble the mercy of God must needs be sweet. Concerning this sweetness of the mercy of God see ye what in another place the Scripture saith: "Like rain in drought, so beautiful is the mercy of God in trouble." That which there he saith to be "beautiful," the same he saith here to be "sweet." Not even bread would be sweet, unless hunger had preceded. Therefore even when the Lord permitteth or causeth us to be in any trouble, even then He is merciful: for He doth not withdraw nourishment, but stirreth up longing. Accordingly what saith he now, "Hearken to me, O Lord, for sweet is Thy mercy"? Now do not Thou defer hearkening, in so great trouble I am, that sweet to me is Thy mercy. For to this end Thou didst defer to succour, in order that to me that wherewith Thou didst succour might be sweet: but now no longer is there cause why Thou must defer; my trouble hath arrived at the appointed measure of distress, let Thy mercy come to do the work of goodness. "After the multitude of Thy pities have regard unto me:" not after the multitude of my sins.
20. "Turn not away Thy face from Thy child" (ver. 17). And this is a commending of humility; "from Thy child," that is, "from Thy little one:" because now I have been rid of pride through the discipline of tribulation, "turn not away Thy face from Thy child." This is that beautiful mercy of God, whereof he spake above. For in the following verse he explaineth that whereof he spake: "For I am troubled, speedily hearken Thou unto me." What is "speedily"? Now there is no cause why Thou must defer it: I am troubled, my affliction hath gone before; let Thy mercy follow.
21. "Give heed to my soul, and redeem her," doth need no exposition: let us see therefore what followeth. "Because of mine enemies deliver me" (ver. 18). This petition is evidently wonderful, neither briefly to be touched upon, nor hastily to be skipped over; truly wonderful: "Because of mine enemies deliver me." What is, "Because of mine enemies deliver me"? ... I see no reason for this petition, "Because of mine enemies deliver me:" unless we understand it of something else, which when I shall have spoken by the help of the Lord, He shall judge in you, that dwelleth in you. There is a kind of secret deliverance of holy men: this for their own sakes is made. There is one public and evident: this is made because of their enemies, either for their punishment, or for their deliverance. For truly God delivered not the brothers in the book of Maccabees from the fires of the persecutor. ... But again the Three Children openly were delivered from the furnace of fire; because their body also was rescued, their safety was public. The former were in secret crowned, the latter openly delivered: all however saved. ... There is then a secret deliverance, there is an open deliverance. Secret deliverance doth belong to the soul, open deliverance to the body as well. For in secret the soul is delivered, openly the body. Again, if so it be, in this Psalm the voice of the Lord let us acknowledge: to the secret deliverance doth belong that whereof he spake above," Give heed to my soul, and redeem her." There remaineth the body's deliverance: for on His arising and ascending into the Heavens, and sending the Holy Ghost from above, there were converted to His faith they that at His death did rage, and out of enemies they were made friends through His grace, not through their righteousness. Therefore he hath continued, "Because of mine enemies deliver me. Give heed to my soul," but this in secret: but "because of mine enemies deliver" even my body. For mine enemies it will profit nothing if soul alone Thou shalt have delivered; that they have done something, that they have accomplished something, they will believe. "What profit is there in my blood, while I go down into corruption?" Therefore "give heed to my soul, and redeem her," which Thou alone knowest: secondly also, "because of mine enemies deliver me," that my flesh may not see corruption.
22. "Thou knowest my reproach, and my confusion, and my shame" (yet. 19). What is reproach? What is confusion? What shame? Reproach is that which the enemy casteth in the teeth. Confusion is that which gnaweth the conscience. Shame is that which causeth even a noble brow to blush, because of the upbraiding with a pretended crime. There is no crime; or even if there is a crime, it doth not belong to him, against whom it is alleged: but yet the infirmity of the human mind ofttimes is made ashamed even when a pretended crime is alleged; not because it is alleged, but because it is believed. All these things are in the Body of the Lord. For confusion in Him could not be, in whom guilt was not found. There was alleged as a crime against Christians, the very fact that they were Christians. That indeed was glory: the brave gladly received it, and so received it as that they blushed not at all for the Lord's name. For fearlessness had covered the face of them, having the effrontery of Paul, saying, "for I blush not because of the Gospel: for the virtue of God it is for salvation to every one believing." O Paul, art not thou a venerator of the Crucified? Little it is, he saith, for me not to blush for it: nay, therein alone I glory, wherefore the enemy thinketh me to blush. "But from me far be it to glory, save in the Cross of Jesus Christ, through whom to me the world is crucified, and I to the world." At such a brow as this then reproach alone could be hurled. For neither could there be confusion in a conscience already made whole, nor shame in a brow so free. But when it was being alleged against certain that they had slain Christ, deservedly they were pricked through with evil conscience, and to their health confounded and converted, so that they could say, "Thou hast known my confusion." Thou therefore, O Lord, hast known not only my reproach but also my confusion, in certain shame also: who, though in me they believe, publicly blush to confess me before ungodly men, human tongue having more influence with them than promise divine. Behold ye therefore them: even such are commended to God, not that so He may leave them, but that by aiding them He may make them perfect. For a certain man believing and wavering hath said, "I believe, O Lord, help Thou mine unbelief."
23. "In Thy sight are all they that trouble Me" (ver. 20). Why I have reproach, Thou knowest; why confusion, "Thou knowest; why shame, Thou knowest: therefore deliver Thou me because of mine enemies, because Thou knowest these things of me, they know not; and thus, because they are themselves in Thy sight, not knowing these things, they will not be able to be either confounded or corrected, unless openly Thou shalt have delivered me because of mine enemies. "Reproach my heart hath expected, and misery." What is, "hath expected"? Hath foreseen these things as going to be, hath foretold them as going to be. For He came not for any other purpose. If He had been unwilling to die, neither would He have willed to be born: for the sake of resurrection He did both. For there were two particular things known to us among mankind, but one thing unknown. For we knew that men were born and died: that they rose again and lived for everlasting we knew not. That He might show to us that which we knew not, He took upon Him the two things which we knew. To this end therefore He came. "Reproach my heart hath expected and misery." But the misery of whom? For He expected misery, but rather of the crucifiers, rather of the persecutors, that in them should be misery, in Him mercy. For pitying the misery of them even while hanging on the Cross, He saith, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." What then did it profit, that I expected? That is, what did it profit that I foretold? What did it profit that I said to this end I had come? I came to fulfil that which I said, "I waited for one that together should be made sorrowful, and there was not; and men comforting, and I found not:" that is, there was none. For that which in the former verse He said, "I waited for one that together should be made sorrowful," the same is in the following verse, "and men comforting." But that which in the former verse is, "and there was not;" the same in the following verse is, "and I found not." Therefore another sentence is not added, but the former is repeated. Which sentence if we reconsider, a question may arise. For were His disciples nowise made sorrowful when He was led to the Passion, when on the tree hanged, when dead? So much were they made sorrowful, that Mary Magdalene, who first saw Him, rejoicing told them as they were mourning what she had seen. The Gospel speaketh of these things: it is not our presumption, not our suspicion: it is evident that the disciples grieved, it is evident that they mourned. Strange women were weeping, when to the Passion He was being led, unto whom turning He saith, "Weep ye, but for yourselves, do not for Me." ... Peter certainly loved very much, and without hesitation threw himself to walk on the waves, and at the voice of the Lord he was delivered: and though following Him when led to the Passion, with the boldness of love, yet being troubled, thrice he denied Him. Whence, except because an evil thing it seemed to him to die? For he was shunning that which he thought an evil thing. This then even in the Lord he was lamenting, which he was himself shunning. On this account even before he had said, "Far be it from Thee, O Lord, merciful be Thou to Thyself: there shall not come to pass this thing:" at which time he merited to hear, "Satan;" after that he had heard, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona." Therefore in that sorrowfulness which the Lord felt because of those for whom He prayed, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:" no companion He found. "And I waited for one that together should be made sorrowful, and there was not." There was not at all. "And men comforting, and I found not." Who are men comforting? Men profiting. For they comfort us, they are the comfort of all preachers of the Truth.
24. "And they gave for My food gall, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink" (ver. 22). This was done indeed to the letter. And the Gospel declareth this to us. But we must understand, brethren, that the very fact that I found not comforters, that the very fact that I found not one that together should be made sorrowful, this was My gall, this to Me was bitter, this was vinegar: bitter because of grief, vinegar because of their old man. For we read, that to Him indeed gall was offered, as the Gospel speaketh; but for drink, not for food. Nevertheless, we must so take and consider that when fulfilled, which here had been before predicted, "They gave for My food gall:" and in that very action, not only in this saying, we ought to seek for a mystery, at secret things to knock, to enter the rent veil of the Temple, to see there a Sacrament, both in what there hath been said and in what there hath been done. "They gave," He saith, "for My food gall:" not the thing itself which they gave was food, for it was drink: but "for food they gave it." Because already the Lord had taken food, and into it there had been thrown gall. But He had taken Himself pleasant food, when He ate the Passover with His disciples: therein He showed the Sacrament of His Body. Unto this food so pleasant, so sweet, of the Unity of Christ, of which the Apostle maketh mention, saying, "For one bread, One Body, being many we are;" unto this pleasant food who is there that addeth gall, except the gainsayers of the Gospel, like those persecutors of Christ? For less the Jews sinned in crucifying Him walking on earth, than they that despise Him sitting in Heaven. That which then the Jews did, in giving above the food which He had already taken that bitter draught to drink, the same they do that by evil living bring scandal upon the Church: the same do embittered heretics, "But let them not be exalted in their own selves." They give gall after so delectable meat. But what doth the Lord? He admitteth them not to His Body. In this mystery, when they presented gall, the Lord Himself tasted, and would not drink. If we did not suffer them, neither at all should we taste: but because it is necessary to suffer them, we must needs taste. But because in the members of Christ such sort cannot be, they can be tasted, received into the Body they cannot be. "And they gave for My food gall, and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." I was thirsting, and vinegar I received: that is, for the faith of them I longed, and I found oldness.
25. "Let the table of them be made in their own presence for a trap" (ver. 23). Like the trap which for Me they set, in giving Me such a draught, let such a trap be for them. Why then, "in their own presence"? "Let the table of them be made for a trap," would have been sufficient. They are such as know their iniquity, and in it most obstinately do persevere: in their own presence there is made a trap for them. These are they that, being too destructive, "go down into Hell alive." Lastly, of persecutors what hath been said? Except that the Lord were in us, perchance alive they had swallowed us up. What is alive? Consenting to them, and knowing that we ought not to consent to them. Therefore in their own presence there is made a trap, and they are not amended. Even though in their own presence there is a trap, let them not fall into it. Behold they know the trap, and thrust out foot, and bow their necks to be caught. How much better were it to turn away from the trap, to acknowledge sin, to condemn error, to be rid of bitterness, to pass over into the Body of Christ, to seek the Lord's glory! But so much prevaileth presumption of mind, that even in their own presence the trap is, and they fall into it. "Let the eyes of them be darkened, that they see not," followeth here: that whereas without benefit they have seen, it may chance to them even not to see. "Let the table of them," therefore, "be made in their own presence for a trap." It is not from one wishing, but from one prophesying: not in order that it may come to pass, but because it will come to pass. This we have often remarked, and ye ought to remember it: lest that which the prescient mind saith in the Spirit of God, it should seem with ill will to imprecate. ... Let it then be done to them, "both for a requital and for a stumbling-block." And is this by any means unjust? It is just. Why? For it is "for a requital." For not anything would happen to them, which was not owed. "For a requital" it is done, "and for a stumbling-block:" for they are themselves a stumbling-block to themselves. "Let the eyes of them be darkened, that they see not, and the back of them alway bow Thou down" (ver. 24). This is a consequence. For they, whose eyes have been darkened that they see not, it followeth, must have their back bowed down. How so? Because when they have ceased to take knowledge of things above, they must needs think of things below. He that well heareth, "lift up the heart," a bowed back hath not. For with stature erect he looketh for the hope laid up for him in Heaven; most especially if he send before him his treasure, whither his heart followeth. But, on the other hand, they perceive not the hope of future life; already being blinded, they think of things below: and this is to have a bowed back: from which disorder the Lord delivered that woman. For Satan hath bound her eighteen years, and her that was bowed down He raised up: and because on the Sabbath He did it, the Jews were scandalized; suitably were they scandalized at her being raised up, themselves being bowed. "Pour forth upon them Thine anger, and let ; the indignation of Thine anger overtake them" (ver. 25), are plain words: but nevertheless, in "overtake them" we perceive them as it were fleeing. But whither are they to flee? Into Heaven? Thou art there. Into Hell? Thou art present. Their wings they will not take to fly straight: "Let the indignation of Thine anger overtake them," let it not permit them to escape.
26. "Let the habitation of them become forsaken" (ver. 26). This is now evident. For in the same manner as He hath mentioned not only a secret deliverance of His, saying, "Give heed to My soul, and redeem her;" but also one open after the body, adding, "because of mine enemies deliver me:" so also to these men He foretelleth how there are to be certain secret misfortunes, whereof a little before He was speaking. ... For the blindness of the Jews was secret vengeance: but the open was what? "Let their habitation become forsaken, and in their tabernacles let there not be any one to inhabit." There hath come to pass this thing in the very city Jerusalem, wherein they thought themselves mighty in crying against the Son of God, "Crucify, Crucify;" and in prevailing because they were able to kill Him that raised dead men. How mighty to themselves, how great, they seemed! There followed afterwards the vengeance of the Lord, stormed was the city, utterly conquered the Jews, slain were I know not how many thousands of men. No one of the Jews is permitted to come thither now: where they were able to cry against the Lord, there by the Lord they are not permitted to dwell. They have lost the place of their fury: and O that even now they would know the place of their rest! What profit to them was Caiaphas in saying," "If we shall have let go this man thus, there will come the Romans, and take away from us both place and kingdom"? Behold, both they did not let Him go alive, and He liveth: and there have come the Romans, and have taken from them both place and kingdom. But now we heard, when the Gospel was being read, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, how often would I have gathered together thy sons, as a hen her chickens under her wings, and thou wouldest not? Behold there is left to you your house forsaken."
27. Why so? "For Him whom Thou hast smitten they have themselves persecuted, and upon the pain of my wounds they have added" (ver. 27). How then have they sinned if they have persecuted one by God smitten? What sin is ascribed to their mind? Malice. For the thing was done in Christ which was to be. To suffer indeed He had come, and He punished him through whom He suffered. For Judas the traitor was punished, and Christ was crucified: but us He redeemed by His blood, and He punished him in the matter of his price. For he threw down the price of silver, for which by him the Lord had been sold; and he knew not the price wherewith he had himself by the Lord been redeemed. This thing was done in the case of Judas. But when we see that there is a sort of measure of requital in all men, and that not any one can be suffered to rage more than he hath received power to do: how have they "added," or what is that smiting of the Lord? Without doubt He is speaking in the person of him from whom He had received a body, from whom He had taken unto Him flesh, that is in the person of mankind, of Adam himself who was smitten with the first death because of his sin. Mortal therefore here are men born, as born with their punishment: to this punishment they add, whosoever do persecute men. For now here man would not have had to die, unless God had smitten him. Why then dost thou, O man, rage more than this? Is it little for a man that some time he is to die? Each one of us therefore beareth his punishment: to this punishment they would add that persecute us. This punishment is the smiting of the Lord. For the Lord smote man with the sentence: "What day ye shall have touched it," He saith, "with death ye shall die." Out of this death He had taken upon Him flesh, and our old man hath been crucified together with Him. By the voice of that man He hath said these words, "Him whom Thou hast smitten they have themselves persecuted, and upon the pain of My wounds they have added." Upon what pain of wounds? Upon the pain of sins they have themselves added. For sins He hath called His wounds. But do not look to the Head, consider the Body; according to the voice whereof hath been said by the Same in that Psalm, wherein He showed there was His voice, because in the first verse thereof He cried from the Cross, "God, My God, look upon Me, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" There in continuation He saith, "Afar from My safety are the words of Mine offences." ...
28. "Lay Thou iniquity upon their iniquity" (ver. 28). What is this? Who would not be afraid? To God is said, "Lay Thou iniquity upon their iniquity." Whence shall God lay iniquity? For hath He iniquity to lay? For we know that to be true which hath been spoken through Paul the Apostle, "What then shall we say? Is there anywise iniquity with God? Far be it." Whence then, "Lay Thou iniquity upon iniquity"? How must we understand this? May the Lord be with us, that we may speak, and because of your weariness may be able to speak briefly. Their iniquity was that they killed a just Man: there was added another, that they crucified the Son of God. Their raging was as though against a man: but "if they had known, the Lord of Glory they had never crucified." They with their own iniquity willed to kill as it were a man: there was laid iniquity upon their own iniquity, so that the Son of God they should crucify. Who laid this iniquity upon them? He that said, "Perchance they will reverence My Son," Him I will send. For they were wont to kill servants sent to them, to demand rent and profit. He sent the Son Himself, in order that Him also they might kill. He laid iniquity upon their own iniquity. And these things did God do in wrath, or rather in just requital? For, "May it be done to them," He saith, "for a requital and for a stumbling-block." They had deserved to be so blinded as not to know the Son of God. And this God did, laying iniquity upon their iniquity; not in wounding, but in not making whole. For in like manner as thou increasest a fever, increasest a disorder, not by adding disorder, but by not relieving: so because they were of such sort as that they merited not to be healed, in their very naughtiness in a manner they advanced; as it is said, "But evil men and wicked doers advance for the worse:" and iniquity is laid upon their own iniquity. "And let them not enter in Thy righteousness." This is a plain thing.
29. "Let them be blotted out from the book of the living" (ver. 29). For had they been some time written therein? Brethren, we must not so take it, as that God writeth any one in the book of life, and blotteth him out. If a man said, "What I have written I have written," concerning the title where it had been written, "King of the Jews:" doth God write any one, and blot him out? He foreknoweth, He hath predestined all before the foundation of the world that are to reign with His Son in life everlasting. These He hath written down, these same the Book of Life doth contain. Lastly, in the Apocalypse, what saith the Spirit of God, when the same Scripture was speaking of the oppressions that should be from Antichrist? "There shall give consent to him all they that have not been written in the book of life." So then without doubt they will not consent that have been written. How then are these men blotted out from that book wherein they were never written? This hath been said according to their own hope, because they thought of themselves that they were written. What is, "let them be blotted out from the book of life"? Even to themselves let it be evident, that they were not there. By this method of speaking hath been said in another Psalm, "There shall fall from Thy side a thousand, and tens of thousands from on Thy right hand:" that is, many men shall be offended, even out of that number who thought that they would sit with Thee, even out of that number who thought that they would stand at Thy right hand, being severed from the left-hand goats: not that when any one hath there stood, he shall afterwards fall, or when any one with Him hath sat, he shall be cast away; but that many men were to fall into scandal, who already thought themselves to be there, that is, many that thought that they would sit with Thee, many that hoped that they would stand at the right hand, will themselves fall. So then here also they that hoped as though by the merit of their own righteousness themselves to have been written in the book of God, they to whom is said, "Search the Scriptures, wherein ye think yourselves to have life eternal:" when their condemnation shall have been brought even to their own knowledge, shall be effaced from the book of the living, they shall know themselves not to be there. For the verse which followeth explaineth what hath been said: "And with just men let them not be written." I have said then "Let them be effaced," according to their hope but according to Thy justice I say what?
30. "Poor and sorrowful I am" (ver. 30). Why this? Is it that we may acknowledge that through bitterness of soul this poor One doth speak evil? For He hath spoken of many things to happen to them. And as if we were saying to Him, "Why such things?"--"Nay, not so much!" He answereth, "poor and sorrowful I am." They have brought Me to want, unto this sorrow they have set Me down, therefore I say these words. It is not, however, the indignation of one cursing, but the prediction of one prophesying. For He was intending to recommend to us certain things which hereafter He saith of His poverty and His sorrow, in order that we may learn to be poor and sorrowful. For, "Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven." And," Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." This therefore He doth Himself before now show to us: and so, "poor and sorrowful I am." The whole Body of Him saith this. The Body of Christ in this earth is poor and sorrowful. But let Christians be rich. Truly if Christians they are, they are poor; in comparison with the riches celestial for which they hope, all their gold they count for sand. "And the health of Thy countenance, O God, hath taken Me up." Is this poor One anywise forsaken? When dost thou deign to bring near to thy table a poor man in rags? But again, this poor One the health of the countenance of God hath taken up: in His countenance He hath hidden His need. For of Him hath been said, "Thou shalt hide them in the hiding place of Thy countenance." But in that countenance what riches there are would ye know? Riches here give thee this advantage, that thou mayest dine on what thou wilt, whenever thou wilt: but those riches, that thou mayest never hunger. "The health of Thy countenance, O God, hath taken Me up." For what purpose? In order that no longer I may be poor, no longer sorrowful? "I will praise the name of the Lord with a song, I will magnify Him in praise" (ver. 31). Now it hath been said, this poor One praiseth the name of the Lord with a song, he magnifieth Him in praise. When would He have ventured to sing, unless He had been refreshed from hunger? "I will magnify Him with praise." O vast riches! What jewels of God's praise hath he brought out of his inward treasures! These are my riches! "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away." Then miserable he hath remained? Far be it. See the riches: "As it hath pleased the Lord, so hath been done, be the name of the Lord blessed."
31. "And it shall please God:" that I shall praise Him, shall please: "above a new calf, bearing horns and hoofs." More grateful to Him shall be the sacrifice of praise than the sacrifice of a calf. "The sacrifice of praise shall glorify me." "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise." So then His praise going forth from my mouth shall please God more than a great victim led up to His altar. ... Therefore above this calf my praising shall please Thee, such as hereafter will be, after poverty and sorrow, in the eternal society of Angels, where neither adversary there shall be in battle to be tossed, nor sluggard from earth to be stirred up. "Let the needy see and rejoice" (ver. 32). Let them believe, and in hope be glad. Let them be more needy, in order that they may deserve to be filled: lest while they belch out pride's satiety, there be denied them the bread whereon they may healthily live. "Seek the Lord," ye needy, hunger ye and thirst; for He is Himself the living bread that came down from Heaven. "Seek ye the Lord, and your soul shall live." Ye seek bread, that your flesh may live: the Lord seek ye, that your soul may live.
32. "For the Lord hath hearkened to the poor" (ver. 33). He hath hearkened to the poor, and He would not have hearkened to the poor, unless they were poor. Wilt thou be hearkened to? Poor be thou: let sorrow cry out from thee, and not fastidiousness. "And His fettered ones He hath not despised." Being offended at His servants, He hath put them in fetters: but them crying from the fetters He hath not despised. What are these fetters? Mortality, the corruptibleness of the flesh are the fetters wherewith we have been bound. And would ye know the weight of these fetters? Of them is said, "The body which is corrupted weigheth down the soul." Whenever men in the world will to be rich, for these fetters they are seeking rags. But let the rags of the fetters suffice: seek so much as is necessary for keeping off want, but when thou seekest superfluities, thou longest to load thy fetters. In such a prison then let the fetters abide even alone. "Sufficient for the day be the evil thereof." "Let there praise Him heavens and earth, sea and all things creeping in them" (ver. 34). The true riches of this poor man are these, to consider the creation, and to praise the Creator. "Let there praise Him heavens and earth, sea and all things creeping therein." And doth this creation alone praise God, when by considering of it God is praised?
33. Hear thou another thing also: "for God shall save Sion" (ver. 35). He restoreth His Church, the faithful Gentiles He doth incorporate with His Only-Begotten; He beguileth not them that believe in Him of the reward of His promise. "For God shall save Sion; and there shall be builded the cities of Juda." These same are the Churches. Let no one say, when shall it come to pass that there be builded the cities of Juda? O that thou wouldest acknowledge the Edifice, and be a living stone, that thou mightest enter into Her. Even now the cities of Juda are being built. For Juda is interpreted confession. By confession of humility there are being builded the cities of Juda: in order that there may remain without the proud, who blush to confess. "For God shall save Sion." What Sion? Hear in the following words: "and the seed of His servants shall possess Her, and they that love His name shall dwell therein" (ver. 36). ...
1. Thanks to the "Corn of wheat," because He willed to die and to be multiplied: thanks to the only Son of God, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who disdained not to undergo our death, in order that He might make us worthy of His life. Behold Him that was single until He went hence; as He said in another Psalm, "Single I am until I go hence;"  for He was a single corn of wheat in such sort as that He had in Himself a great fruitfulness of increase; in how many corns imitating the Passion of Him we exult, when we celebrate the nativities of the Martyrs! Many therefore members of Him, under one Head our Saviour Himself, being bound together in the bond of love and peace (as ye judge it fit that ye know, for ye have often heard), are one man: and of the same, as of one man, the voice is ofttimes heard, in the Psalms, and thus one crieth as though it were all, because all in one are one. ...
2. There is then in this Psalm the voice of men troubled, and so indeed of Martyrs amid sufferings in peril, but relying on their own Head. Let us hear them, and speak with them out of sympathy of heart, though it be not with similarity of suffering. For they are already crowned, we are still in peril: not that such sort of persecutions do vex us as have vexed them, but worse perchance in the midsts of all kinds of so great scandals. For our own times do more abound in that woe, which the Lord cried: "Woe to the world because of scandals." And," Because iniquity hath abounded, the love of man shall wax cold." For not even that holy Lot at Sodom suffered corporal persecution from any one, or had it been told him that he should not dwell there: the persecution of him were the evil doings of the Sodomites. Now then that Christ sitteth in Heaven, now that He is glorified, now that necks of kings are made subject to His yoke, and their brows placed beneath His sign, now that not any one remaineth to dare openly to trample upon Christians, still, however, we groan amid instruments and singers, still those enemies of the Martyrs, because with words and steel they have no power, with their own wantonness do persecute them. And O that we were sorrowing for Heathens alone: it would be some sort of comfort, to wait for those that not yet have been signed with the Cross of Christ; when they should be signed, and when, by His authority attached, they should cease to be mad. We see besides men wearing or their brow the sign of Him, at the same time on that same brow wearing the shamelessness of wantonness, and on the days and celebrations of the Martyrs not exulting but insulting. And amid these things we groan, and this is our persecution, if there is in us the love which saith, "Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is scandalized, and I burn not?" Not any servant of God, then, is without persecution: and that is a true saying which the Apostle saith, "But even all men that will to live godly in Christ, shall suffer persecution.".
3. "O God, to my aid make speed" (ver. 1). For need we have for an everlasting aid in this world. But when have we not? Now however being in tribulation, let us especially say, "O God, to my aid make speed." "Let them be confounded and fear that seek my soul." Christ is speaking: whether Head speak or whether Body speak; He is speaking that hath said, "Why persecutest thou Me?" He is speaking that hath said, "Inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of Mine, to Me ye have done it." The voice then of this Man is known to be of the whole man, of Head and of Body: that need not often be mentioned, because it is known. "Be they confounded," he saith, "and fear that seek my soul." In another Psalm He saith, "I was looking unto the right and saw, and there was not one that would know Me flight hath perished from Me, and there is not one to seek out My soul." There of persecutors He saith, that there was not one to seek out His soul: but here, "Let them be confounded and fear that seek My soul." ... And where is that which thou hast heard from thy Lord, "Love ye your enemies, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that persecute you "? Behold thou sufferest persecution, and cursest them from whom thou sufferest: how dost thou imitate the Passions of thy Lord that have gone before, hanging on the cross and saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." To persons saying such things the Martyr replieth and saith, thou hast set before me the Lord, saying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do:" understand thou my voice also, in order that it may be thine too: for what have I said concerning mine enemies? "Let them be confounded and fear." Already such vengeance hath been taken on the enemies of the Martyrs. That Saul that persecuted Stephen, he was confounded and feared. He was breathing out slaughters, he was seeking some to drag and slay: a voice having been heard from above, "Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me," he was confounded and laid low, and he was raised up to obedience, that had been inflamed unto persecuting. This then the Martyrs desire for their enemies, "Let them be confounded and fear." For so long as they are not confounded and fear, they must needs defend their actions: glorious they think themselves, because they hold, because they bind, because they scourge, because they kill, because they dance, because they insult, and because of all these doings they be some time confounded and fear. For if they be confounded, they will also be converted: because converted they cannot be, unless they shall have been confounded and shall have feared. Let us then wish these things to our enemies, let us wish them without fear. Behold I have said, and let me have said it with you, may all that still dance and sing and insult the Martyrs "be confounded and fear :" at last within these walls confounded may they beat their breasts!
4. "Let them be turned away backward and blush that think evil things to me" (ver. 2). At first there was the assault of them persecuting, now there hath remained the malice of them thinking. In fact, there are in the Church distinct seasons of persecutions following one another. There was made an assault on the Church when kings were persecuting: and because kings had been foretold as to persecute and as to believe, when one had been fulfilled the other was to follow. There came to pass also that which was consequent; kings believed, peace was given to the Church, the Church began to be set in the highest place of dignity, even on this earth, even in this life: but there is not wanting the roar of persecutors, they have turned their assaults into thoughts. In these thoughts, as in a bottomless pit, the devil hath been bound," he roareth and breaketh not forth. For it hath been said concerning these times of the Church, "The sinner shall see, and shall be angry." And shall do what? That which he did at first? Drag, bind, smite? He doeth not this. What then? "With his teeth he shall gnash, and shall pine away." And with these men the Martyr is, as it were, angry, and yet for these men the Martyr prayeth. For in like manner as he hath wished well to those men concerning whom he hath said, "Let them be confounded and fear that seek nay soul:" so also now, "Let them be turned backward, and blush, that think evil things to me." Wherefore? In order that they may not go before, but follow. For he that censureth the Christian religion, and on his own system willeth to live, willeth as it were to go before Christ, as though He indeed had erred and had been weak and infirm, because He either willed to suffer or could suffer in the hands of the Jews; but that he is a clever man for guarding against all these things; in shunning death, even in basely lying to escape death, and slaying his soul that he may live in body, he thinketh himself a man of singular and prudent measures. He goeth before in censuring Christ, in a manner he outstrippeth Christ: let him believe in Christ, and follow Christ. For that which had been desired but now for persecutors thinking evil things, the same the Lord Himself said to Peter. Now in a certain place Peter willed to go before the Lord. ... A little before, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father which is in Heaven:" now in a moment, "Go back behind Me, Satan." What is, "Go back behind Me"? Follow Me. Thou wiliest to go before Me, thou wiliest to give Me counsel, it is better that thou follow My counsel: this is, "go back," go back behind Me. He is silencing one outstripping, in order that he may go backward; and He is calling him Satan, because he willeth to go before the Lord. A little before, "blessed;" now, "Satan." Whence a little before, "blessed"? Because, "to thee," He saith, "flesh and blood hath not revealed it, but My Father which is in Heaven." Whence now, "Satan"? Because "thou savourest not," He saith, "the things which are of God, but the things which are of men." Let us then that would duly celebrate the nativities of the Martyrs, long for the imitation of the Martyrs; let us not wish to go before the Martyrs, and think ourselves to be of better understanding than they, because we shun sufferings in behalf of righteousness and faith which they shunned not. Therefore be they that think evil things, and in wantonness feed their hearts, "turned backward and blush." Let them hear from the Apostle afterwards saying, "But what fruit had ye some time in those things at which ye now blush?"
5. What followeth? "Let them be turned away forthwith blushing, that say to me, Well, well" (ver. 3). Two are the kinds of persecutors, revilers and flatterers. The tongue of the flatterer doth more persecute than the hand of the slayer: for this also the Scripture hath called a furnace. Truly when the Scripture was speaking of persecution, it said, "Like gold in a furnace it hath proved them" (speaking of Martyrs being slain), "and as the holocaust's victim it hath received them." Hear how even the tongue of flatterers is of such sort: "The proving," he saith, "of silver and of gold is fire; but a man is proved by the tongue of men praising him." That is fire, this also is fire: out of both thou oughtest to go forth safe. The censurer hath broken thee, thou hast been broken in the furnace like an earthen vessel. The Word hath moulded thee, and there hath come the trial of tribulation: that which hath been formed, must needs be seasoned; if it hath been well moulded, there hath come the fire to strengthen. Whence He said in the Passion, "Dried up like a potsherd hath been My virtue." For Passion and the furnace of tribulation had made Him stronger. ...
6. And what cometh to pass when they are all turned back and blush, whether it be they that seek my soul, or they that think evil things to me, or they that with perverse and feigned benevolence with tongue would soften the stroke which they inflict, when they shall have been themselves turned away and confounded; there shall come to pass what? "Let them exult and be joyous in Thee:" not in me, not in this man or in that man; but in whom they have been made light that were darkness. "Let them exult and be joyous in Thee, all that seek Thee" (ver. 4). One thing it is to seek God, another thing to seek man. "Let them be joyous that seek Thee." They shall not be joyous then that seek themselves, whom Thou hast first sought before they sought Thee. Not yet did that sheep seek the Shepherd, it had strayed from the flock, and He went down to it; He sought it, and carried it back upon His shoulders. Will He despise thee, O sheep, seeking Him, who hath first sought thee despising Him and not seeking Him? Now then begin thou to seek Him that first hath sought thee, and hath carried thee back on His shoulders. Do thou that which He speaketh of, "They that are My sheep hear My voice, and follow Me." If then thou seekest Him that first hath sought thee, and hast become a sheep of His, and thou hearest the voice of thy Shepherd, and followest Him; see what He showeth to thee of Himself, what of His Body, in order that as to Himself thou mayest not err, as to the Church thou mayest not err, that no one may say to thee, that is Christ which is not Christ, or that is the Church which is not the Church. For many men have said that Christ had no flesh, and that Christ hath not risen in His Body: do not thou follow the voices of them. Hear thou the voice of Himself the Shepherd, that was clothed with flesh, in order that He might seek lost flesh. He hath risen again, and He saith, "Handle ye and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see Me have." He showeth Himself to thee, the voice of Him follow thou. He showeth also the Church, that no one may deceive thee by the name of Church. "It behoved," He saith, "Christ to suffer, and to rise again from the dead the third day, and that there should be preached repentance and remission of sins through all nations, beginning with Jerusalem." Thou hast the voice of Thy Shepherd, do not thou follow the voice of strangers: and a thief thou shalt not fear, if thou shalt have followed the voice of the Shepherd. But how shalt thou follow? If thou shalt neither have said to any man, as if it were by his own merit, Well, well: nor shalt have heard the same with joy, so that thy head be not made fat with the oil of a sinner. "Let all them exult and be joyous in Thee, that seek Thee; and let them say"--let them say what, that exult? "Be the Lord alway magnified!" Let all them say this, that exult and seek Thee. What? "Be the Lord alway magnified; yea, they that love Thy salvation." Not only, "Be the Lord magnified;" but also, "alway." ... A sinner thou art, be He magnified in order that He may call; thou confessest, be He magnified in order that He may forgive: now thou livest justly, be He magnified in order that He may direct: thou perseverest even unto the end, be He magnified in order that He may glorify. "Be the Lord," then, "alway magnified; yea, they love His saving health." For from Him they have salvation, not from themselves. The saving health of the Lord our God, is the Saviour our Lord Jesus Christ: whosoever loveth the Saviour, confesseth himself to have been made whole; whosoever confesseth himself to have been made whole, confesseth himself to have been sick. Not their own saving health, as if they could save themselves of themselves: not as it were the saving health of a man, as though by him they could be saved. "Do not," he saith, "confide in princes, and in the sons of men, in whom there is no safety." Why so? "Of the Lord is safety, and upon Thy people is Thy blessing."
7. Behold, "Be the Lord magnified:" wilt thou never, wilt thou nowhere? In Him was something, in me nothing: but if in Him is whatsoever I am, be He, not I. But thou then what? "But I am needy and poor" (ver. 5). He is rich, He abounding, He needing nothing. Behold my light, behold whence I am illumined; for I cry, "Thou shalt illumine my candle, O Lord." What then of thee? "But I am needy and poor." I am like an orphan, my soul is like a widow destitute and desolate: help I seek, alway mine infirmity I confess. There have been forgiven me my sins, now I have begun to follow the commandments of God: still, however, I am needy and poor. Why still needy and poor? Because "I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind." Why needy and poor? Because, "blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness." Still I hunger, still I thirst: my fulness hath been put off, not taken away. "O God, aid Thou me." Most suitably also Lazarus is said to be interpreted, "one aided:" that needy and poor man, that was transported into the bosom of Abraham; and beareth the type of the Church, which ought alway to confess that she hath need of aid. This is true, this is godly. "I have said to the Lord, My God Thou art." Why? "For my goods Thou needest not." He needeth not us, we need Him: therefore He is truly Lord. For thou art not the very true Lord of thy servant: both are men, both needing God. But if thou supposest thy servant to need thee, in order that thou mayest give him bread; thou also needest thy servant, in order that he may aid thy labours. Each one of you doth need the other. Therefore neither of you is truly lord, and neither of you truly servant. Hear thou the true Lord, of whom thou art the true servant: "I have said to the Lord, My God Thou art." Why art Thou Lord? "Because my goods Thou needest not"? But what of thee? "But I am needy and poor." Behold the needy and poor: may God feed, may God alleviate, may God aid: "O God," he saith, "aid Thou me."
8. "My helper and deliverer art Thou; O Lord, delay not." Thou art the helper and deliverer: I need succour, help Thou; entangled I am, deliver Thou. For no one will deliver from entanglings except Thee. There stand round about us the nooses of divers cares, on this side and on that we are torn as it were with thorns and brambles, we walk a narrow way, perchance we have stuck fast in the brambles: let us say to God, "Thou art my deliverer." He that showed us the narrow way? hath taught us to follow it. ...
9. What is, "delay not"? Because many men say, it is a long time till Christ comes. What then: because we say, "delay not," will He come before He hath determined to come? What meaneth this prayer, "delay not"? May not Thy coming seem to me to be too long delayed. For to thee it seemeth a long time, to God it seemeth not long, to whom a thousand years are one day, or the three hours of a watch. But if thou shalt not have had endurance, late for thee it will be: and when to thee it shall be late, thou wilt be diverted from Him, and wilt be like unto those that were wearied in the desert, and hastened to ask of God the pleasant things which He was reserving for them in the Land; and when there were not given on their journey the pleasant things, whereby perchance they would have been corrupted, they murmured against God, and went back in heart unto Egypt: to that place whence in body they had been severed, in heart they went back. Do not thou, then, so, do not so: fear the word of the Lord, saying, "Remember Lot's wife." She too being on the way, but now delivered from the Sodomites, looked back; in the place where she looked back, there she remained: she became a statue of salt, in order to season thee. For to thee she hath been given for an example, in order that thou mayest have sense, mayest not stop infatuated on the way. Observe her stopping and pass on: observe her looking back, and do thou be reaching forth unto the things before, as Paul was. What is it, not to look back. "Of the things behind forgetful," he saith. Therefore thou followest, being called to the heavenly reward, whereof hereafter thou wilt glory. For the same Apostle saith, "There remaineth for me a crown of righteousness, which in that day the Lord, the just Judge, shall render to me."
1. In all the holy Scriptures the grace of God that delivereth us commendeth itself to us, in order that it may have us commended. This is sung of in this Psalm, whereof we have undertaken to speak. ... This grace the Apostle commendeth: by this he got to have the Jews for enemies, boasting of the letter of the law and of their own justice. This then commending in the lesson which hath been read, he saith thus: "For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not worthy to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." "But therefore mercy," he saith, "I obtained, because ignorant I did it in unbelief." Then a little afterwards, "Faithful the saying is, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am first." Were there before him not any sinners? What then, was he the first then? Yea, going before all men not in time, but in evil disposition. "But therefore," he saith, "mercy I obtained," in order that in me Christ Jesus might show all long-suffering, for the imitation of those that shall believe in Him unto life eternal: that is, every sinner and unjust man, already despairing of himself, already having the mind of a gladiator, so as to do whatsoever he willeth, because he must needs be condemned, may yet observe the Apostle Paul, to whom so great cruelty and so very evil a disposition was forgiven by God; and by not despairing of himself may he be turned unto God. This grace God doth commend to us in this Psalm also. ...
2. The title then of this Psalm is, as usual, a title intimating on the threshold what is being done in the house: "To David himself for the sons of Jonadab, and for those that were first led captive." Jonadab (he is commended to us in the prophecy of Jeremiah) was a certain man, who had enjoined his sons not to drink wine, and not to dwell in houses, but in tents. But the commandment of the father the sons kept and observed, and by this earned a blessing from the Lord. Now the Lord had not commanded this, but their own father. But they so received it as though it were a commandment from the Lord their God; for even though the Lord bad not commanded that they should drink no wine and should dwell in tents; yet the Lord had commanded that sons should obey their father. In this case alone a son ought not to obey his father, if his father should have commanded anything contrary to the Lord his God. For indeed the father ought not to be angry, when God is preferred before him. But when a father doth command that which is not contrary to God; he must be heard as God is: because to obey one's father God hath enjoined. God then blessed the sons of Jonadab because of their obedience, and thrust them in the teeth of His disobedient people, reproaching them, because while the sons of Jonadab were obedient to their father, they obeyed not their God. But while Jeremiah was treating of these topics, he had this object in regard to the people of Israel, that they should prepare themselves to be led for captivity into Babylon, and should not hope for any other thing, but that they were to be captives. The title then of this Psalm seemeth from thence to have taken its hue, so that when he had said, "Of the sons of Jonadab;" he added, "and of them that were first led captive:" not that the sons of Jonadab were led captive, but because to them that were to be led captive there were opposed the sons of Jonadab, because they were obedient to their father: in order that they might understand that they had been made captive, because they were not obedient to God. It is added also that Jonadab is interpreted, "the Lord's spontaneous one." What is this, the Lord's spontaneous one? Serving God freely with the will. What is, the Lord's spontaneous one? "In me are, O God, Thy vows, which I will render of praise to Thee." What is, the Lord's spontaneous one? "Voluntarily I will sacrifice to Thee." For if the Apostolic teaching admonisheth a slave to serve a human master, not as though of necessity, but of good will, and by freely serving make himself in heart free; how much more must God be served with whole and full and free will, who seeth thy very will? ... The first man made us captive, the second man hath delivered us from captivity. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive." But in Adam they die through the flesh's nativity, in Christ they are delivered through the heart's faith. It was not in thy power not to be born of Adam: it is in thy power to believe in Christ. Howsoever much then thou shall have willed to belong to the first man, unto captivity thou wilt belong. And what is, shall have willed to belong? or what is, shalt belong? Already thou belongest: cry out, "Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" Let us hear then this man crying out this.
3. "O God, in Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting" (ver. 1). Already I have been confounded, but not for everlasting. For how is he not confounded, to whom is said, "What fruit had ye in these things wherein ye now blush?" What then shall be done, that we may not be confounded for everlasting? "Draw near unto Him, and be ye enlightened, and your faces shall not blush." Confounded ye are in Adam, withdraw from Adam, draw near unto Christ, and then ye shall not be confounded. "In Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting." If in myself I am now confounded, in Thee I shall not be confounded for everlasting.
4. "In Thine own righteousness deliver me, and save me" (ver. 2). Not in mine own, but in Thine own: for if in mine own, I shall be one of those whereof he saith, "Being ignorant of God's righteousness, and their own righteousness willing to establish, to the righteousness of God they were not made subject." Therefore, "in Thine own righteousness," not in mine. For mine is what? Iniquity hath gone before. And when I shall be righteous, Thine own righteousness it will be: for by righteousness given to me by Thee I shall be righteous; and it shall be so mine, as that it be Thine, that is, given to me by Thee. For I believe on Him that justifieth an ungodly man, so that my faith is counted for righteousness.Even so then the righteousness shall be mine, not however as though mine own, not as though by mine own self given to myself: as they thought who through the letter made their boast, and rejected grace. ... It is a small thing then that thou acknowledge the good thing which is in thee to be from God, unless also on that account thou exalt not thyself above him that hath not yet, who perchance when he shall have received, will outstrip thee. For when Saul was a stoner of Stephen, how many were the Christians of whom he was persecutor! Nevertheless, when he was converted, all that had gone before he surpassed. Therefore say thou to God that which thou hearest in the Psalm, "In Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting: in Thine own righteousness," not in mine, "deliver me, and save me." "Incline unto me Thine ear." This also is a confession of humility. He that saith, "Incline unto me," is confessing that he is lying like a sick man laid at the feet of the Physician standing. Lastly, observe that it is a sick man that is speaking: "Incline unto me Thine ear, and save me."
5. "Be Thou unto me for a protecting God" (ver. 3). Let not the darts of the enemy reach unto me: for I am not able to protect myself. And a small thing is "protecting:" he hath added, "and for a walled place, that Thou mayest save me." "For a walled place" be Thou to me, be Thou my walled place. ... Behold, God Himself hath become the place of thy fleeing unto, who at first was the fearful object of thy fleeing from. "For a walled place," he saith, be Thou to me, "that Thou mayest save me." I shall not be safe except in Thee: except Thou shalt have been my rest, my sickness shall not be able to be made whole. Lift me from the earth; upon Thee I will lie, in order that I may rise unto a walled place. What can be better walled? When unto that place thou shalt have fled for refuge, tell me what adversaries thou wilt dread? Who will lie in wait, and come at thee? A certain man is Said from the summit of a mountain to have cried out, when an Emperor was passing by, "I speak not of thee:" the other is said to have looked back and to have said, "Nor I of thee." He had despised an Emperor with glittering arms, with mighty army. From whence? From a strong place. If he was secure on a high spot of earth, how secure art thou on Him by whom heaven and earth were made? I, if for myself I shall have chosen another place, shall not be able to be safe. Choose thou indeed, O man, if thou shalt have found one, a place better walled. There is not then a place whither to flee from Him, except we flee to Him. If thou wilt escape Him angry, flee to Him appeased. "For my firmament and my refuge Thou art." "My firmament" is what? Through Thee I am firm, and by Thee I am firm. "For my firmament and my refuge Thou art:" in order that I may be made firm by Thee, in whatever respects I shall have been made infirm in myself, I will flee for refuge unto Thee. For firm the grace of Christ maketh thee, and immovable against all temptations of the enemy. But there is there too human frailness, there is there still the first captivity, there is there too the law in the members fighting against the law of the mind, and willing to lead captive in the law of sin: still the body which is corrupt presseth down the soul. Howsoever firm thou be by the grace of God, so long as thou still bearest an earthly vessel, wherein the treasure of God is, something must be dreaded even from that same vessel of clay. Therefore" my firmament Thou art," in order that I may be firm in this world against all temptations. But if many they are, and they trouble me: "my refuge Thou art." For I will confess mine infirmity, to the end that I may be timid like a "hare," because I am full of thorns like a "hedgehog." And as in another Psalm is said, "The rock is a refuge for the hedgehogs and the hares:" but the Rock was Christ.
6. "O God, deliver me from the hand of the sinner" (ver. 4). Generally, sinners, among whom is toiling he that is now to be delivered from captivity: he that now crieth, "Unhappy man I, who shall deliver me from the body of this death? The grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Within is a foe, that law in the members; there are without also enemies: unto what cryest thou? Unto Him, to whom hath been cried, "From my secret sins cleanse me, O Lord, anti from strange sins spare Thy servant." ... But these sinners are of two kinds: there are some that have received Law, there are others that have not received: all the heathen have not received Law, all Jews and Christians have received Law. Therefore the general term is sinner; either a transgressor of the Law, if he hath received Law; or only unjust without Law, if he hath not received the Law. Of both kinds speaketh the Apostle, and saith, "They that without Law have sinned, without Law shall perish, and they that in the Law have sinned, by the Law shall be judged." But thou that amid both kinds dost groan, say to God that which thou hearest in the Psalm, "My God, deliver me from the hand of the sinner." Of what sinner? "From the hand of him that transgresseth the Law, and of the unjust man." He that transgresseth the Law is indeed also unjust; for not unjust he is not, that transgresseth the Law: but every one that transgresseth the Law is unjust, not every unjust man doth transgress the Law. For, "Where there is not a Law," saith the Apostle, "neither is there transgression." They then that have not received Law, may be called unjust, transgressors they cannot be called. Both are judged after their deservings. But I that from captivity will to be delivered through Thy grace, cry to Thee, "Deliver me from the hand of the sinner." What is, from the hand of him? From the power of him, that while he is raging, he lead me not unto consenting with him; that while he lieth in wait, he persuade not to iniquity. "From the hand of the sinner and of the unjust man." ...
7. Lastly, there followeth the reason why I say this: "for Thou art my patience" (ver. 5). Now if He is patience rightly, He is that also which followeth, "O Lord, my hope from my youth." My patience, because my hope: or rather my hope, because my patience. "Tribulation," saith the Apostle, "worketh patience, patience probation, but probation hope, but hope confoundeth not." With reason in Thee I have hoped, O Lord, I shall not be confounded for everlasting. "O Lord, my hope from my youth." From thy youth is God thy hope? Is He not also from thy boyhood, and from thine infancy? Certainly, saith he. For see what followeth, that thou mayest not think that I have said this, "my hope from my youth," as if God noways profiled mine infancy or my boyhood; hear what followeth: "In Thee I have been strengthened from the womb." Hear yet: "From the belly of my mother Thou art my Protector" (ver. 6). Why then, "from my youth," except it was the period from which I began to hope in Thee? For before in Thee I was not hoping, though Thou wast my Protector, that didst lead me safe unto the time, when I learned to hope in Thee. But from my youth I began in Thee to hope, from the time when Thou didst arm me against the Devil, so that in the girding of Thy host being armed with Thy faith, love, hope, and the rest of Thy gifts, I waged conflict against Thine invisible enemies, and heard from the Apostle, "There is not for us a wrestling against flesh and blood, but against principalities, and powers," etc. There a young man it is that doth fight against these things: but though he be a young man, he falleth, unless He be the hope of Him to whom he crieth, "O Lord, my hope from my youth." "In Thee is my singing alway." Is it only from the time when I began to hope in Thee until now? Nay, but "alway." What is, "alway"? Not only in the time of faith, but also in the time of sight. For now, "So long as we are in the body we are absent from the Lord: for by faith we walk, not by sight: " there will be a time when we shall see that which being not seen we believe: but when that hath been seen which we believe, we shall rejoice: but when that hath been seen which they believed not, ungodly men shall be confounded. Then will come the substance whereof there is now the hope. But, "Hope which is seen is not hope. But if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it." Now then thou groanest, now unto a place of refuge thou runnest, in order that thou mayest be saved; now being in infirmity thou entreatest the Physician: what, when thou shall have received perfect soundness also, what when thou shall have been made "equal to the Angels of God," wilt thou then perchance forget that grace, whereby thou hast been delivered? Far be it.
8. "As it were a monster I have become unto many" (ver. 7). Here in time of hope, in time of groaning, in time of humiliation, in time of sorrow, in time of infirmity, in time of the voice from the fetters--here then what? "As it were a monster I have become unto many." Why, "As it were a monster"? Why do they insult me that think me a monster? Because I believe that which I see not. For they being happy in those things which they see, exult in drink, in wantonness, in chamberings, in covetousness, in riches, in robberies, in secular dignities, in the whitening of a mud wall, in these things they exult: but I walk in a different way, contemning those things which are present, and fearing even the prosperous things of the world, and secure in no other thing but the promises of God. And they, "Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die." What sayest thou? Repeat it: "let us eat," he saith, "and drink." Come now, what hast thou said afterwards? "for to-morrow we die." Thou hast terrified, not led me astray. Certainly by the very thing which thou hast said afterwards, thou hast stricken me with fear to consent with thee. "For to-morrow we die," thou hast said: and there hath preceded, "Let us eat and drink." For when thou hadst said, "Let us eat and drink;" thou didst add, "for to-morrow we die." Hear the other side from me, "Yea let us fast and pray, 'for to-morrow we die.' " I keeping this way, strait and narrow, "as it were a monster have become unto many: but Thou art a strong helper." Be Thou with me, O Lord Jesus, to say to me, faint not in the narrow way, I first have gone along it, I am the way itself, I lead, in Myself I lead, unto Myself I lead home. Therefore though "a monster I have become unto many;" nevertheless I will not fear, for "Thou art a strong Helper."
9. "Let my mouth be fulfilled with praise, that with hymn I may tell of Thy glory, all the day long Thy magnificence" (ver. 8). What is "all the day long"? Without intermission. In prosperity, because Thou dost comfort: in adversity, because Theu dost correct: before I was in being, because Thou didst make; when I was in being, because Thou didst give health: when I had sinned, because Thou didst forgive; when I was converted, because Thou didst help; when I had persevered, because Thou didst crown.
10. My hope from my youth, "cast me not away in time of old age" (ver. 9). What is this time of old age? "When my strength shall fail, forsake Thou not me." Here God maketh this answer to thee, yea indeed let thy strength fail, in order that in thee mine may abide: in order that thou mayest say with the Apostle, "When I am made weak, then I am mighty." Fear not, that thou be cast away in that weakness, in that old age. But why? Was not thy Lord made weak on the Cross? Did not most mighty men and fat bulls before Him, as though a man of no strength, made captive and oppressed, shake the head and say, "If Son of God He is, let Him come down from the Cross"? Has he deserted because He was made weak, who preferred not to come down from the Cross, lest He should seem not to have displayed power, but to have yielded to them reviling? What did He hanging teach thee, that would not come down, but patience amid men reviling, but that thou shouldest be strong in thy God? Perchance too in His person was said, "As it were a monster I have become unto many, and Thou art a strong Helper." In His person according to His weakness, not according to His power; according to that whereby He had transformed us into Himself, not according to that wherein He had Himself come down. For He became a monster unto many. And perchance the same was the old age of Him; because on account of its oldness it is not improperly called old age, and the Apostle saith, "Our old man hath been crucified together with Him." If there was there our old man, old age was there; because old, old age. Nevertheless, because a true saying is, "Renewed as an eagle's shall be Thy youth ;" He rose Himself the third day, promised a resurrection at the end of the world. Already there hath gone before the Head, the members are to follow. Why dost thou fear lest He should forsake thee, lest He cast thee away for the time of old age, when thy strength shall have failed? Yea at that time in thee will be the strength of Him, when thy strength shall have failed.
11. Why do I say this? "For mine enemies have spoken against me, and they that were keeping watch for My soul, have taken counsel together (ver. 10): saying, God hath forsaken Him, persecute Him, and seize Him, for there is no one to deliver Him" (ver. 11). This hath been said concerning Christ. For He that with the great power of Divinity, wherein He is equal to the Father, had raised to life dead persons, on a sudden in the hands of enemies became weak, and as if having no power, was seized. When would He have been seized, except they had first said in their heart, "God hath forsaken Him?" Whence there was that voice on the Cross, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? So then did God forsake Christ, though "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself," though Christ was also God. out of the Jews indeed according to the flesh, "Who is over all things, God blessed for ever,"--did God forsake Him? Far be it. But in our old man our voice it was, because our old man was crucified together with Him: and of that same our old man He had taken a Body, because Mary was of Adam. Therefore the very thing which they thought, from the Cross He said, "Why hast Thou forsaken Me?" Why do these men think Me left alone to their evil? What is, think Me forsaken in their evil? "For if they had known, the Lord of glory they had never crucified. Persecute and seize Him." More familiarly however, brethren, let us take this of the members of Christ, and acknowledge our own voice in these words: because even He used such words in our person, not in His own power and majesty; but in that which He became for our sakes, not according to that which He was, who hath made us.
12. "O Lord, my God, be not far from me" (ver. 12). So it is, and the Lord is not far off at all. For, "The Lord is nigh unto them that have bruised the heart." "My God, unto my help look Thou." "Be they confounded and fail that engage my soul" (ver. 13). What hath he desired? "Be they confounded and fail." Why hath he desired it? "That engage my soul"? What is, "That engage my soul "? Engaging as it were unto some quarrel. For they are said to be engaged that are challenged to quarrel. If then so it is, let us beware of men that engage our soul. What is, "That engage our soul"? First provoking us to withstand God, in order that in our evil things God may displease us. For when art thou right, so that to thee the God of Israel may be good, good to men fight in heart? When art thou right? Wilt thou hear? When in that good which thou doest, God is pleasing to thee; but in that evil which thou sufferest, God is not displeasing to thee. See ye what I have said, brethren, and be ye on your guard against men that engage your souls. For all men that deal with you in order to make you be wearied in sorrows and tribulations, have this aim, namely, that God may be displeasing to you in that which ye suffer, and there may go forth from your mouth, "What is this? For what have I done?" Now then hast thou done nothing of evil, and art thou just, He unjust? A sinner I am, thou sayest, I confess, just I call not myself. But what, sinner, hast thou by any means done so much evil as he with whom it is well? As much as Gaiuseius?" I know the evil doings of him, I know the iniquities of him, from which I, though a sinner, am very far; and yet I see him abounding in all good things, and I am suffering so great evil things. I do not then say, O God, "what have I done" to Thee, because I have done nothing at all of evil; but because I have not done so much as to deserve to suffer these things. Again, art thou just, He unjust? Wake up, wretched man, thy soul hath been engaged ! I have not, he saith, called myself just. What then sayest thou? A sinner I am, but I did not commit so great sins, as to deserve to suffer these things. Thou sayest not then to God, just I am, and Thou art unjust: but thou sayest, unjust I am, but Thou art more unjust. Behold thy soul hath been engaged, behold now thy soul wageth war. What? Against whom? Thy soul, against God; that which hath been made against Him by whom it was made. Even because thou art in being to cry out against Him, thou art ungrateful. Return, then, to the confession of thy sickness, and beg the healing hand of the Physician. Think thou not they are happy who flourish for a time. Thou art being chastised, they are being spared: perchance for thee chastised and amended an inheritance is being kept in reserve. ... Lastly, see what followeth, "Let them put on confusion and shame, that think evil things to me." "Confusion and shame," confusion because of a bad conscience, shame because of modesty. Let this befall them, and they will be good. ...
13. "But I alway in Thee will hope, and will add to all Thy praise" (ver. 14). What is this? "I will add to all Thy praise," ought to move us. More perfect wilt thou make the praise of God? Is there anything to be superadded? If already that is all praise, wilt thou add anything? God was praised in all His good deeds, in every creature of His, in the whole establishment of all things, in the government and regulation of ages, in the order of seasous, in the height of Heaven, in the fruitfulness of the regions of earth, in the encircling of the sea, in every excellency of the creature everywhere brought forth, in the sons of men themselves, in the giving of the Law, in delivering His people from the captivity of the Egyptians, and all the rest of His wonderful works: not yet He had been praised for having raised up flesh unto life eternal. Be there then this praise added by the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ: in order that here we may perceive His voice above all past praise: thus it is that we rightly understand this also. ...
14. "My mouth shall tell out Thy righteousness" (ver. 15): not mine. From thence I will add to all Thy praise: because even that I am righteous, if righteous I am, is Thy righteousness in me, not mine own: for Thou dost justify the ungodly. "All the day long Thy salvation." What is, "Thy salvation "? Let no one assume to himself, that he saveth himself, "Of the Lord is Salvation." Not any one by himself saveth himself, "Vain is man's salvation." "All the day long Thy Salvation:" at all times. Something of adversity cometh, preach the Salvation of the Lord: something of prosperity cometh, preach the Salvation of the Lord. Do not preach in prosperity, and hold thy peace in adversity: otherwise there will not be that which hath been said, "all the day long." For all the day long is day together with its own night. Do we when we say, for example, thirty days have gone by, mention the nights also; do we not under the very term days include the nights also? In Genesis what was said? "The evening was made, and the morning was made, one day." Therefore a whole day is the day together with its own night: for the night doth serve the day, not the day the night. Whatever thou doest in mortal flesh, ought to serve righteousness: whatever thou doest by the commandment of God, be it not done for the sake of the advantage of the flesh, lest day serve night. Therefore all the day long speak of the praise of God, to wit, in prosperity and in adversity; in prosperity, as though in the day time; in adversity, as though in the night time: all the day long nevertheless speak of the praise of God, so that thou mayest not have sung to no purpose, "I will bless God at every time, alway the praise of Him is in my mouth." ...
15. Therefore, he saith, "For I have not known tradings." What are these tradings? Let traders hear and change their life; and if they have been such, be not such; let them not know what they have been, let them forget; lastly, let them not approve, not praise; let them disapprove, condemn, be changed, if trading is a sin. For on this account, O thou trader, because of a certain eagerness for getting, whenever thou shalt have suffered loss, thou wilt blaspheme; and there will not be in thee that which hath been spoken of, "all the day long Thy praise." But whenever for the price of the goods which thou art selling, thou not only liest, but even falsely swearest; how in thy mouth all the day long is there the praise of God? While, if thou art a Christian, even out of thy mouth the name of God is being blasphemed, so that men say, see what sort of men are Christians ! Therefore if this man for this reason speaketh the praise of God all the day long, because he hath not known tradings; let Christians amend themselves, let them not trade. But a trader saith to me, behold I bring indeed from a distant quarter merchandise unto these places, wherein there are not those things which I have brought, by which means I may gain a living: I ask but as reward for my labour, that I may sell dearer than I have bought: for whence can I live, when it hath been written, "the worker is worthy of his reward"? But he is treating of lying, of false swearing. This is the fault of me, not of trading: for I should not, if I would, be unable to do without this fault. I then, the merchant, do not shift mine own fault to trading: but if I lie, it is I that lie, not the trade. For I might say, for so much I bought, but for so much I will sell; if thou pleasest, buy. For the buyer hearing this truth would not be offended, and not a whit less all men would resort to me: because they would love truth more than gain. Of this then, he saith, admonish me, that I lie not, that I forswear not; not to relinquish business whereby I maintain myself. For to what dost thou put me when thou puttest me away from this? Perchance to some craft? I will be a shoemaker, I will make shoes for men. Are not they too liars? are not they too false-swearers? Do they not, when they have contracted to make shoes for one man, when they have received money from another man, give up that which they were making, and undertake to make for another, and deceive him for whom they have promised to make speedily? Do they not often say, to-day I am about it, to-day I'll get them done? Secondly, in the very sewing do they not commit as many frauds? These are their doings and these are their sayings: but they are themselves evil, not the calling which they profess. All evil artificers, then, not fearing God, either for gain, or for fear of loss or want, do lie, do forswear themselves; there is no continual praise of God in them. How then dost thou withdraw me from trading? Wouldest thou that I be a farmer, and murmur against God thundering, so that, fearing hail, I consult a wizard, in order to learn what to do to protect me against the weather; so that I desire famine for the poor, in order that I may be able to sell what I have kept in store? Unto this dost thou bring me? But good farmers, thou sayest, do not such things. Nor do good traders do those things. But why, even to have sons is an evil thing, for when their head is in pain, evil and unbelieving mothers seek for impious charms and incantations? These are the sins of men, not of things. A trader might thus speak to me--Look then, O Bishop, how thou understand the tradings which thou hast read in the Psalm: lest perchance thou understand not, and yet forbid me trading. Admonish me then how I should live; if well, it shall be well with me: one thing however I know, that if I shall have been evil, it is not trading that maketh me so, but my iniquity. Whenever truth is spoken, there is nothing to be said against it.
16. Let us inquire then what he hath called tradings, which indeed he that hath not known, all the day long doth praise God. Trading even in the Greek language is derived from action, and in the Latin from want of inaction: but whether it be from action or want of inaction, let us examine what it is. For they that are active traders, rely as it were upon their own action, they praise their works, they attain not to the grace of God. Therefore traders are opposed to that grace which this Psalm doth commend. For it doth commend that grace, in order that no one may boast of his own works. Because in a certain place is said, "Physicians shall not raise to life," ought men to abandon medicine? But what is this? Under this name are understood proud men, promising salvation to men, whereas "of the Lord is Salvation." ... With reason the Lord drave from the Temple them to whom He said, "It is written, My House shall be called the House of prayer, but ye have made it a house of trading; " that is, boasting of your works, seeking no inaction, nor hearing the Scripture speaking against your unrest and trading, "be ye still, and see that I am the Lord." ...
17. But there is in some copies, "For I have not known literature." Where some books have "trading," there others "literature:" how they may accord is a hard matter to find out; and yet the discrepancy of interpreters perchance showeth the meaning, introduceth no error. Let us inquire then how to understand literature also, lest we offend grammarians in the same way as we did traders a little before: because a grammarian too may live honourably in his calling, and neither forswear nor lie. Let us examine then the literature which he hath not known, in whose mouth all the day long is the praise of God. There is a sort of literature of the Jews: for to them let us refer this; there we shall find what hath been said: just as when we were inquiring about traders, on the score of actions and works, we found that to be called detestable trading, which the Apostle hath branded, saying, "For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and willing to establish their own, to the righteousness of God they were not made subject." ... Just as then we found out the former charge against traders, that is men boasting of action, exalting themselves because of business which admitteth no inaction, unquiet men rather than good workmen; because good workmen are those in whom God worketh; so also we find a sort of literature among the Jews. ... Moses wrote five books: but in the five porches encircling the pool, sick men were lying, but they could not be healed. See how the letter remained, convicting the guilty, not saving the unrighteous. For in those five porches, a figure of the five books, sick men were given over rather than made whole. What then in that place did make whole a sick man? The moving of the water. When that pool was moved there went down a sick man, and there was made whole one, one because of unity: whatsoever other man went down unto that same moving was not made whole. How then was there commended the unity of the Body crying from the ends of the earth? Another man was not healed, except again the pool were moved. The moving of the pool then did signify the perturbation of the people of the Jews when the Lord Jesus Christ came. For at the coming of an Angel the water in the pool was perceived to be moved. The water then encircled with five porches was the Jewish nation encircled by the Law. And in the porches the sick lay, and in the water alone when troubled and moved they were healed. The Lord came, troubled was the water; He was crucified, may He come down in order that the sick man may be made whole. What is, may He come down? May He humble Himself. Therefore whosoever ye be that love the letter without grace, in the porches ye will remain, sick ye will be, lying ill, not growing well. ... For the same figure also it is that Eliseus at first sent a staff by his servant to raise up the dead child. There had died the son of a widow his hostess; it was reported to him, to his servant he gave his staff: go thou, he saith, lay it on the dead child. Did the prophet not know what he was doing? The servant went before, he laid the staff upon the dead, the dead arose not. "For if there had been given a law which could have made alive, surely out of the law there had been righteousness." The law sent by the servant made not alive: and yet he sent his staff by the servant, who himself afterwards followed, and made alive. For when that infant arose not, Eliseus came himself, now bearing the type of the Lord, who had sent before his servant with the staff, as though with the Law: he came to the child that was lying dead, he laid his limbs upon it. The one was an infant, the other a grown man: he contracted and shortened in a manner the size of his full growth, in order that he might fit the dead child. The dead then arose, when he being alive adapted himself to the dead: and the Master did that which the staff did not; and grace did that which the letter did not. They then that have remained in the staff, glory in the letter; and therefore are not made alive. But I will to glory concerning Thy grace. ... In that same grace I glorying "literature have not known:" that is, men on the letter relying, and from grace recoiling, with whole heart I have rejected.
18. With reason there followeth, "I will enter into the power of the Lord:" not mine own, but the Lord's. For they gloried in their own power of the letter, therefore grace joined to the letter they knew not. ... But because "the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive:" "I have not known literature, and I will enter into the power of the Lord." Therefore this verse following doth strengthen and perfect the sense, so as to fix it in the hearts of men, and not suffer any other interpretation to steal in from any quarter. "O Lord, I will be mindful of Thy righteousness alone" (ver. 16). Ah ! "alone." Why hath he added "alone," I ask you? It would suffice to say, "I will be mindful of Thy righteousness." "alone," he saith, entirely: there of mine own I think not. "For what hast thou which thou hast not received? But if also thou hast received, why dost thou glory as if thou hast not received." Thy righteousness alone doth deliver me, what is mine own alone is nought but sins. May I not glory then of my own strength, may I not remain in the letter; may I reject "literature," that is, men glorying of the letter, and on their own strength perversely, like men frantic, relying: may I reject such men, may I enter into the power of the Lord, so that when I am weak, then I may be mighty; in order that Thou in me mayest be mighty, for, "I will be mindful of Thy righteousness alone."
19. "O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth" (ver. 17). What hast thou taught me? That of Thy righteousness alone I ought to be mindful. For reviewing my past life, I see what was owing to me, and what I have received instead of that which was owing to me. There was owing punishment, there hath been paid grace: there was owing hell, there hath been given life eternal. "O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth." From the very beginning of my faith, wherewith Thou hast renewed me, Thou didst teach me that nothing had preceded in me, whence I might say that there was owing to me what Thou hast given. For who is turned to God save from iniquity? Who is redeemed save from captivity? But who can say that unjust was his captivity, when he forsook his Captain and fell off to the deserter? God is for our Captain, the devil a deserter: the Captain gave a commandment, the deserter suggested guile: where were thine ears between precept and deceit? was the devil better than God? Better he that revolted than He that made thee? Thou didst believe what the devil promised, and didst find what God threatened. Now then out of captivity being delivered, still however in hope, not yet in substance, walking by faith, not yet by sight, "O God," he saith, "Thou hast taught me from my youth." From the time that I have been turned to Thee, renewed by Thee who had been made by Thee, re-created who had been created, re-formed who had been formed: from the time that I have been converted, I have learned that no merits of mine have preceded, but that Thy grace hath come to me gratis, in order that I might be mindful of Thy righteousness alone.
20. What next after youth? For, "Thou hast taught me," he saith, "from my youth:" what after youth? For in that same first conversion of thine thou didst learn, how before conversion thou wast not just, but iniquity preceded, in order that iniquity being banished, there might succeed love: and having been renewed into a new man, only in hope, not yet in substance, thou didst learn how nothing of thy good had preceded, and by the grace of God thou wast converted to God: now perchance since the time that thou hast been converted wilt thou have anything of thine own, and on thy own strength oughtest thou to rely? Just as men are wont to say, now leave me, it was necessary for thee to show me the way; it is sufficient, i will walk in the way. And he that hath shown thee the way, "wilt thou not that I conduct thee to the place?" But thou, if thou art conceited, "let me alone, it is enough, I will walk in the way." Thou art left, and through thy weakness again thou wilt lose the way. Good were it for thee that He should have conducted thee, who first put thee in the way. But unless He too lead thee, again also thou wilt stray: say to Him then, "Conduct me, O Lord, in Thy way, and I will walk in Thy truth." But thy having entered on the way, is youth, the very renewal and beginning of the faith. For before thou wast walking through thy own ways a vagabond; straying through woody places, through rough places, torn in all thy limbs, thou wast seeking a home, that is, a sort of settlement of thy spirit, where thou mightest say, it is well; and being in security mightest say it, at rest from every uneasiness, from every trial, in a word from every captivity; and thou didst not find. What shall I say? Came there to thee one to show thee the way? There came to thee the Way itself, and thou wast set therein by no merits of thine preceding, for evidently thou wast straying. What, since the time that thou hast set foot therein dost thou now direct thyself? Doth He that hath taught thee the way now leave thee? No, he saith: "Thou hast taught me from my youth; and even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works." For a wonderful thing is that which still Thou doest; namely, that Thou dost direct me, who in the way hast put me: and these are Thy wonderful works. What dost thou think to be the wonderful works of God? What is more wonderful among God's wonderful works, than the raising the dead? But am I by any means dead, thou sayest? Unless dead thou hadst been, there would not have been said to thee, "Rise, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall enlighten thee." Dead are all unbelievers, all unrighteous men; in body they live, but in heart they are extinct. But he that raiseth a man dead according to the body, doth bring him back to see this light and to breathe this air: but he that raiseth is not himself light and air to him; he beginneth to see, as he saw before. A soul is not so resuscitated. For a soul is resuscitated by God; though even a body is resuscitated by God: but God, when He doth resuscitate a body, to the world doth bring it back: when He doth resuscitate a soul, to Himself He bringeth it back. If the air of this world be withdrawn, there dieth body: if God be withdrawn, there dieth soul. When then God doth resuscitate a soul, unless there be with her He that hath resuscitated, she being resuscitated liveth not. For He doth not resuscitate, and then leave her to live to herself: in the same manner as Lazarus, when he was resuscitated after being four days dead, was resuscitated by the Lord's corporal presence. ... The Lord withdrew from that same city or from that spot, did Lazarus cease to live? Not so is the soul resuscitated: God doth resuscitate her, she dieth if God shall have withdrawn. For I will speak boldly, brethren, but yet the truth. Two lives there are, one of the body, another of the soul: as the life of the body is the soul, so the life of the soul is God: in like manner as, if the soul forsake, the body dieth: so the soul dieth, if God forsake. This then is His grace, namely, that He resuscitate and be with us. Because then He doth resuscitate us from our past death, and doth renew in a manner our life, we say to Him, "O God, Thou hast taught me from my youth." But because He doth not withdraw from those whom He resuscitateth, lest when He shall have withdrawn from them they die, we say to Him, "and even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works:" because while Thou art with me I live, and of my soul Thou art the life, which will die if she be left to herself. Therefore while my life is present, that is, my God, "even until now," what next?
21. "And even unto oldness and old age" (ver. 18). These are two terms for old age, and are distinguished by the Greeks. For the gravity succeeding youth hath another name among the Greeks, and after that same gravity the last age coming on hath another name; for preQbuths signifieth grave, and gerwn old. But because in the Latin language the distinction of these two terms holdeth not, both words implying old age are inserted, oldness and old age: but ye know them to be two ages. "Thou hast taught me Thy grace from my youth; and even until now;" after my youth, "I will tell forth Thy wonderful works," because Thou art with me in order that I may not die, who hast come in order that I may rise: "and even unto oldness and old age," that is, even unto my last breath, unless with me Thou shalt have been, there will not be any merit of mine; may Thy grace alway remain with me. Even one man would say this, thou, he, I; but because this voice is that of a certain great Man, that is, of the Unity itself, for it is the voice of the Church; let us investigate the youth of the Church. When Christ came, He was crucified, dead, rose again, called the Gentiles, they began to be converted, became Martyrs strong in Christ, there was shed faithful blood, there arose a harvest for the Church: this is Her youth. But seasons advancing let the Church confess, let Her say, "Even until now I will tell forth Thy wonderful works." Not only in youth, when Paul when Peter, when the first Apostles told: even in advancing age I myself, that is, Thy Unity, Thy members, Thy Body, "will tell forth Thy marvellous works." What then? "And even unto oldness and old age," I will tell forth Thy wonderful works: even until the end of the world here shall be the Church. For if She were not to be here even unto the end of the world; to whom did the Lord say, "Behold, I am with you always, even unto the consummation of the world "? Why was it necessary that these things should be spoken in the Scriptures? Because there were to be enemies of the Christian Faith who would say, "for a short time are the Christians, hereafter they shall perish, and there shall come back idols, there shall come back that which was before. How long shall be the Christians?" " Even unto oldness and old age:" that is, even unto the end of the world When thou, miserable unbeliever, dost expect Christians to pass away, thou art passing away thyself without Christians: and Christians even unto the end of the world shall endure; and as for thee with thine unbelief when thou shalt have ended thy short life, with what face wilt thou come forth to the Judge, whom while thou wast living thou didst blaspheme? Therefore "from my youth, and even until now, and even unto oldness and old age, O Lord, forsake not me." It will not be, as mine enemies say, even for a time. "Forsake not me, until I tell forth Thine arm to every generation that is yet to come." And the Arm of the Lord hath been revealed to whom? The Arm of the Lord is Christ. Do not Thou then forsake me: let not them rejoice that say, "only for a set time the Christians are." May there be persons to tell forth Thine arm. To whom? "To every generation that is yet to come." If then it be to every generation that is yet to come, it will be even unto the end of the world: for when the world is ended, no longer any generation will come on.
22. "Thy power and Thy righteousness" (ver. 19). That is, that I may tell forth to every generation that is yet to come, Thine arm. And what hath Thine arm effected? This then let me tell forth, that same grace to every generation succeeding: let me say to every man that is to be born, nothing thou art by thyself, on God call thou, thine own are sins, merits are God's: punishment to thee is owing, and when reward shall have come, His own gifts He will crown, not thy merits. Let me say to every generation that is to come, out of captivity thou hast come, unto Adam thou didst belong. Let me say this to every generation that is to come, that there is no strength of mine, no righteousness of mine; but "Thy strength and Thy righteousness, O God, even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made." "Thy power and Thy righteousness," as far as what? even unto flesh and blood? Nay, "even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made." For the high places are the heavens, in the high places are the Angels, Thrones, Dominions, Principalities, Powers: to Thee they owe it that they are; to Thee they owe it that they live, to Thee they owe it that righteously they live, to Thee they owe it that blessedly they live. "Thy power and Thy righteousness," as far as what? "Even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made." Think not that man alone belongeth to the grace of God. What was Angel before he was made? What is Angel, if He forsake him who hath created? Therefore "Thy power and Thy justice even unto the most high mighty works which Thou hast made."
23. And man exalteth himself: and in order that he may belong to the first captivity, he heareth the serpent suggesting, "Taste, and ye shall be as Gods." Men as Gods? "O God, who is like unto Thee?" Not any in the pit, not in Hell, not in earth, not in Heaven, for all things Thou hast made. Why doth the work strive with the Maker? "O God, who is like unto Thee?" But as for me, saith miserable Adam, and Adam is every man, while I perversely will to be like unto Thee, behold what I have become, so that from captivity to Thee I cry out: I with whom it was well under a good king, have been made captive under my seducer; and cry out to Thee, because I have fallen from Thee. And whence have I fallen from Thee? While I perversely seek to be like unto Thee. ...
24. Ill straying, ill presuming, doomed to die by withdrawing from the path of righteousness: behold he breaketh the commandment, he hath shaken off from his neck the yoke of discipline, uplifted with high spirit he hath broken in sunder the reins of guidance: where is he now? Truly captive he crieth, "O Lord, who is like unto Thee?" I perversely willed to be like unto Thee, and I have been made like unto a beast! Under Thy dominion, under Thy commandment, I was indeed like: "But a man in honour set hath not perceived, he hath been compared to beasts without sense, and hath been made like unto them."(1) Now out of the likeness of beasts cry though late and say, "O God, who is like unto Thee?"
25. "How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil!" (ver. 20). Deservedly, proud servant. For thou hast willed perversely to be like thy God, who hadst been made after the image of thy Lord.(2) Wouldest thou have it to be well with thee, when withdrawing from that good? Truly God saith to thee, if thou withdrawest from Me, and it is well with thee, I am not thy good. Again, if He is good, and in the highest degree good, and of Himself to Himself good, and by no foreign good thing good, and is Himself our chief good; by withdrawing from Him, what wilt thou be but evil? Also if He is Himself our blessedness, what will there be to one withdrawing from Him, except misery? Return thou then after misery, and say, "O Lord, who is like unto Thee? How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil!"
26. But this was discipline; admonition, not desertion. Lastly, giving thanks, he saith what? "And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." But when before? What is this "again"? Thou hast fallen from a high place, O man, disobedient slave, O thou proud against thy Lord, thou hast fallen. There hast come to pass in thee," every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled:" may there come to pass in thee, "every one that humbleth himself shall be exalted."(3) Return thou from the deep. I return, he saith, I return, I acknowledge; "0 God, who is like unto Thee? How great troubles hast Thou shown to me, many and evil! and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." "We perceive," I hear. Thou hast brought us back from the bottomless places of the earth, hast brought us back from the depth and drowning of sin. But why "again"? When had it already been done? Let us go on, if perchance the latter parts of the Psalm itself do not explain to us the thing which here we do not yet perceive, namely, why he hath said "again." Therefore let us hear: "How great troubles Thou hast shown to me, many and evil! And being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." What then? "Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought roe back" (ver. 21). Behold a second "again"! If we labour to unravel this "again" when written once, who will be able to unravel it when doubled? Now "again" itself is a redoubling, and once more there is written "again." May He be with us from whom is grace, may there be with us the arm also which we are telling forth to every generation that is to come: may He be with us Himself, and as with the key of His Cross open to us the mystery that is locked up. For it was not to no purpose that when He was crucified the veil of the temple was rent in the midst, but to show that through His Passion the secret things of all mysteries were opened.(4) May He then Himself be with men passing over unto Him, be the veil taken away:(5) may our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ tell us why such a voice of the Prophet hath been sent before, "Thou hast shown to me troubles many and evil: and being turned Thou hast made me alive, and from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back." Behold this is the first "again" which hath been written. Let us see what this is, and we shall see why there is a second "again."
27 .... Therein Christ died, wherein thou art to die: and therein Christ rose again, wherein thou art to rise again. By His example He taught thee what thou shouldest not fear, for what thou shouldest hope. Thou didst fear death, He died: thou didst despair of rising again, He rose again. But thou sayest to me, He rose again, do I by any means rise again? But He rose again in that which for thee He received of thee. Therefore thy nature in Him hath preceded thee; and that which was taken of thee, hath gone up before thee: therein therefore thou also hast ascended. Therefore He ascended first, and we in Him: because that flesh is of the human race .... Behold one "again." Hear of its being fulfilled from the Apostle: "If then ye have risen with Christ, the things which are above seek ye, where Christ is sitting on the right hand of God; the things which are above mind ye, not the things which are upon the earth."(6) He then hath gone before: already we also have risen again, but still in hope. Hear the Apostle Paul saying this same thing: "Even we ourselves groan in ourselves, looking for the adoption, the redemption of our body." What is it then that Christ hath granted to thee? Hear that which followeth: "For by hope we are saved: but hope which is seen is not hope. For that which a man seeth, why doth he hope for? But if that which we see not we hope for, through patience we wait for it." We have been brought back therefore again from the bottomless places in hope. Why again? Because already Christ had gone before. But because we shall rise again in substance, for now in hope we are living, now after faith we are walking; we have been brought back from the bottomless places of the earth, by believing in Him who before us hath risen again from the bottomless place of the earth ....Thou hast: heard one "again," thou hast heard the other: "again;" one "again" because of Christ going before; and the other, yet however in hope, and a thing which remaineth to be in substance. "Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness,"(1) already in me believing, already in those that, first have risen again in hope ...."Thou hast multiplied Thy righteousness, and being turned Thou hast comforted me:" and because of the body to rise again at the end, "even from the bottomless places of the earth again Thou hast brought me back.
28. "For I will confess to Thee in the vessels of a Psalm Thy truth" (ver. 22). The vessels of a Psalm are a Psaltery. But what is a Psaltery? An instrument of wood and strings.(2) What doth it signify? There is some difference between it and a harp: ... there seemeth to be signified by the Psaltery the Spirit, by the harp the flesh. And because he had spoken of two bringings back of ours from the bottomless places of the earth, one after the Spirit in hope, the other after the body in substance; hear thou of these two: "For I will confess to Thee in the vessels of a Psalm Thy truth." This after the Spirit: concerning the body what? "I will psalm to Thee on a harp, Holy One of Israel."
29. Again hear this because of that same "again" and "again." "My lips shall exult when I shall psalm to Thee" (ver. 23). Because lips are wont to be spoken of both belonging to the inner and to the outward man, it is uncertain in what sense lips have been used: there followeth therefore, "And my soul which Thou hast redeemed." Therefore regarding the inward ups having been saved in hope, brought back from the bottomless places of the earth in faith and love, still however waiting for the redemption of our body? we say what? Already he hath said, "And my soul which Thou hast redeemed." But lest thou shouldest think the soul alone redeemed, wherein now thou hast heard one "again," "but still," he saith; why still? "but still my tongue also:" therefore now the tongue of the body: "all day long shall meditate of Thy righteousness" (ver. 24): that is, in eternity without end. But when shall this be? Hereafter at the end of the world, at the resurrection of the body and the changing into the Angelic state. Whence is it proved that this is spoken of the end, "but still my tongue also all day long shall meditate of Thy righteousness"? "When they shall have been confounded and shall have blushed, that seek evil things for me." When shall they be confounded, when shall they blush, save at the end of the world? For in two ways they shall be confounded, either when they shall believe in Christ, or when Christ shall have come. For so long as the Church is here, so long as grain groaneth amid chaff, so long as wheat groaneth amid tares,(4) so long as vessels of mercy groan amid vessels of wrath made for dishonour,(5) so long as lily groaneth amid thorns, there will not be wanting enemies to say," When shall he die, and his name perish?"(6) "Behold there shall come the time when Christians shall be ended and shall be no more: as they began at a set time, so even unto a particular time they shall be." But while they are saying these things and without end(7) are dying, and while the Church is continuing preaching the Arm of the Lord s to every generation that is to come; there shall come Himself also at last in His glory,(9) there shall rise again all the dead, each with his cause: there shall be severed good men to the right hand, but evil men to the left, and they shall be confounded that did insult, they shall blush that did mock: and so my tongue after resurrection shall meditate of Thy righteousness, all day long of Thy praise, "when they shall have been confounded and shall have blushed, that seek evil things for me."
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