Augustine on the Psalms. Psalms 93 - 98
1. ... It is entitled, "The Song of praise of David himself, on the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was rounded." Remembering then what God did through all those days, when He made and ordained all things, from the first up to the sixth day (for the seventh He sanctified, because He rested on that day after all the works, which He made very good), we find that He created on the sixth day (which day is here mentioned, in that he saith, "before the Sabbath") all animals on the earth; lastly, He on that very day created man in His own likeness and image. For these days were not without l reason ordained in such order, but for that ages also were to run in a like course, before we rest in God.(2) But then we rest if we do good works. As a type of this, it is written of God, "God r rested on the seventh day," when He had made all His works very good.(3) For He was not wearied, so as to need rest, nor hath He now left off to work, for our Lord Christ saith openly, "My Father worketh hitherto."(4) For He saith this unto the Jews, who thought carnally of God, and understood not that God worketh in quiet, and always worketh, and is always in quiet. We also, then, whom God willed then to figure in Himself, shall have rest after all good works. ... And because these good works are doomed to pass away, that sixth day also, when those very good works are perfected, hath an evening; but in the Sabbath we find no evening, because our rest shall have no end: for evening is put for end. As therefore God made man in His own image on the sixth day: thus we find that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the sixth age, that man might be formed anew after the image of God. For the first period, as the first day, was from Adam until Noah: the second, as the second day, from Noah unto Abraham: the third, as the third day, from Abraham unto David: the fourth, as the fourth day, from David unto the removal to Babylon: the fifth period, as the fifth day, from the removal to Babylon unto the preaching of John. The sixth day beginneth from the preaching of John, and lasteth unto the end: and after the end of the sixth day, we reach our rest. The sixth day, therefore, is even now passing.(1) And it is now the sixth day, see what the title hath; "On the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded." Let us now listen to the Psalm itself: let us enquire of it, how the earth was made, whether perhaps the earth was then made: and we do not read so in Genesis. When, therefore, was the earth founded? when, unless when that which hath been but now read in the Apostle taketh place: "If," he saith, "ye are stedfast, immovable."(2) When all who believe throughout all the earth are stedfast in faith, the earth is founded: then man is made in the image of God.That sixth day in Genesis signifieth this. ...
2. "The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and is girded" (vcr. 1). We see that He hath clothed Himself with two things: beauty and strength. But why? That He might found the earth. So it followeth, "He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved." Whence hath He made it so sure? Because He hath clothed Himself in beauty. He would not make it so sure, if He put on beauty only, and not strength also. Why therefore beauty, why strength? For He hath said both. Ye know, brethren, that when our Lord had come in the flesh, of those to whom He preached the Gospel, He pleased some, and displeased others. For the tongues of the Jews were divided against one another: "Some said, He is a good Man; others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people."(3) Some then spoke well, others detracted from Him, tore Him, bit and insulted Him. Towards those therefore whom He pleased, "He put on beauty;" towards those whom He displeased, "He put on strength." Imitate then thy Lord, that thou mayest become His garment: be with beauty towards those whom thy good works please: show thy strength against detractors. ...
3. Perhaps we should enquire respecting this word also, why he said, "He is girded." Girding signifieth work: for every man then girdeth himself, when he is about to work. But wherefore did he use the word praecinctus, instead of cinctus? For he saith in another Psalm,(4) "Gird Thee with Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou most mighty: the people shall fall under Thee:" using the word accingere, not cingere, nor praecingere: this word being applied to the act of attaching anything to the side by girding it. The sword of the Lord, wherewith He conquered the round world by killing iniquity, is the Spirit of God in the truth of the word of God. Wherefore is He said to bind His sword around His thigh? In another place, on another Psalm we have spoken in another manner of girding: but nevertheless, since it hath been mentioned, it ought not to be passed over. What is the girding on of the sword around the thigh? He meaneth the flesh by the thigh. For the Lord would not otherwise conquer the round world, unless the sword of truth came into the flesh. Why therefore is He here said to be girded in front (praecinctus)? He who girdeth himself before, placeth something before himself, wherewith he is girded; whence it is said, He girded Himself before with a towel, and began to wash the disciples' feet. Because He was humble when He girded Himself with a towel. He washed the feet of His own disciples. But all strength is in humility: because all pride is fragile: therefore when He was speaking of strength, he added, "He is girded:" that thou mayest remember how thy God was girded in humility, when He washed His disciples' feet.(5) ... After He had washed their feet, again He sat down; He said unto them, "Ye call me Lord and Master: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; how ought ye also to do to one another's feet?" If therefore strength is in humility, fear not the proud. The humble are like a rock: the rock seems to lie downwards: but nevertheless it is firm. What are the proud? Like smoke: although they are lofty, they vanish. We ought therefore to ascribe our Lord's being girded to His humility, according to the mention of the Gospel, that He was girded, that He might wash His disciples' feet.
4. ... " For He hath made the round world sure, which cannot be moved." ... What then is the round world, "which cannot be moved"? This He would not mention specially, if there were not also a round world that can be moved. There is a round world that shall not be moved. There is a round world that shall be moved. For the good who are stedfast in the faith are the round world: that no man may say,(1) they are only in part of it; while the wicked who abide not in faith, when they have felt any tribulation, are throughout the whole world. There is therefore a round world movable: there is a world immovable: of which the Apostle speaketh. Behold, the round world movable. I ask thee, of whom speaketh the Apostle in these words, "Of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some?"(2) Did these belong to the round world, that shall not be moved? But they were chaff: and as he saith," they overthrow the faith of some." ... "Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure; having his seal,"--what seal hath it as its sure foundation?--" The Lord knoweth them that are His." This is the round world that shall not be moved; "The Lord knoweth them that are His." And what seal hath it? "And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness." Let him depart from unrighteousness: for he cannot depart from the unrighteous, for the chaff is mixed with the wheat until it is fanned. ...
5. "Thy throne is established from thence, O Lord" (vcr. 2). What is, "from thence"? From that time. As if he said, What is the throne of God? Where doth God sit? In His Saints. Dost thou wish to be the throne of God? Prepare a place in thy heart where He may sit. What is the throne of God, except where God dwelleth? Where doth God dwell, except in His temple? What is His temple? Is it surrounded with walls? Far from it. Perhaps this world is His temple, because it is very great, and a thing worthy to contain God. It contains not Him by whom it was made. And wherein is He contained? In the quiet soul, in the righteous soul: that is it that containeth Him. ... He who said, "Before Abraham was, I am:"(3) not before Abraham only, but before Adam: not only before Adam, but before all the angels, before heaven and earth; since all things were made through Him: he added, lest thou, attending to the day of our Lord's nativity, mightest think He commenced from that time, "Thy throne is established, O God." But what God? "Thou art from everlasting:" for which he uses aP aiwnos, in the Greek version; that word being sometimes used for an age, sometimes for everlasting. Therefore, O Thou who seemest to be born "from thence," Thou art from everlasting! But let not human birth be thought of, but Divine eternity. He began then from the time of His birth; He grew:(4) ye have heard the Gospel. He chose disciples, He replenished them, His disciples began to preach. Perhaps this is what he speaketh of in the following verse.
6. "The floods lift up their voices" (vcr. 3). What are these floods, which have lift up their voices? We heard them not: neither when our Lord was born, did we hear rivers speak, nor when He was baptized, nor when He suffered; we heard not that rivers did speak. Read the Gospel, ye find not that rivers spoke. It is not enough that they spoke: "They have lift up their voice:" they have not only spoken, but bravely, mightily, in a lofty voice. What are those rivers which have spoken? ... The Spirit itself was a mighty river, whence many rivers were filled. Of that river the Psalmist saith in another passage, "The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God."(5) Rivers then were made to flow from the belly of the disciples, when they received the Holy Spirit: themselves were rivers, when they had received that Holy Spirit. Whence did those rivers lift their voices? wherefore did they lift them up? Because at first they feared. Peter was not yet a river, when at the question of the maid-servant he thrice denied Christ: "I do not know the man."(6) Here he lieth through fear: he lifteth not his voice as yet: he is not yet the river. But when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Jews sent for them, and enjoined them not to preach at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus. ... For when the Apostles had been dismissed from the council of the Jews, they came to their own friends, and told them what the priests and elders said unto them: but they on hearing lifted up their voices with one accord unto the Lord, and said, "Lord, it is Thou who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is;"(7) and the rest which floods lifting up their voices might say, "Wonderful are the hangings of the sea" (vcr. 4). For when the disciples had lifted up their voices unto Him, many believed, and many received the Holy Spirit, and many rivers instead of few began to lift up their voice. Hence there followeth, "from the voices of many waters, wonderful are the hangings of the sea;" that is, the waves of the world. When Christ had begun to be preached by so powerful voices, the sea became enraged, persecutions began to thicken. When therefore the rivers had lift up their voice, "from the voices of many waters, wonderful" were "the hangings of the sea." To be hung aloft is to be lifted up; when the sea rages, the waves are hung as from above. Let the waves hang over as they choose; let the sea roar as it chooseth; the hangings of the sea indeed are mighty, mighty are the threatenings, mighty the persecutions; but see what followeth: "but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier." Let therefore the sea restrain itself, and sometime become calmed; let peace be granted by Christians. The sea was disturbed, the vessel was tossed; the vessel is the Church: the sea, the world. The Lord came, He walked over the sea, and calmed the waves. How did the Lord walk over the sea? Above the heads of those mighty foaming waves. Principalities and kings believed; they were subdued unto Christ. Let us not therefore be frightened; because "the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier."
7. "Thy testimonies, O Lord, are very surely believed" (vcr. 5). The Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier than the mighty overhangings of the sea. "Thy testimonies are very surely believed." "Thy testimonies," because He had said beforehand, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation." ... He added, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."(1) If then He saith, "I have overcome the world," cling unto Him who overcame the world, who overcame the sea. Rejoice in Him, because the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier, and, "Thy testimonies are very surely believed." And what is the end of all these? "Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!" Thine house, the whole of Thine house, not here and there: but the whole of Thine house, throughout the whole world. Why throughout the whole of the round world? "Because He hath set aright the round world, which cannot be moved."(2) The Lord's house will be strong: it will prevail throughout the whole world: many shall fall: but that house standeth; many shall be disturbed, but that house shall not be moved. Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!" For a short time only? No. "Unto length of days."
1. As we listened with much attention, while the Psalm was in reading, so let us listen attentively, while the Lord revealeth the mysteries which He hath deigned to obscure in this passage. For some mysteries in the Scriptures are shut up for this reason, not that they may be denied, but that they may be opened unto those who knock. If therefore ye knock with affection of piety, and sincere heartfelt love, He, who seeth from what motives ye knock, will open unto you.(4) It is known unto all of us (and I wish we may not be among their number), that may murmur against God's long-suffering, and grieve either that impious and wicked men live in this world, or that they have great power; and what is more, that the bad generally have great power against the good, and that the bad often oppress the good; that the wicked exult, while the good suffer; the evil are proud, while the good are humbled. Observing such things in the human race (for they abound), impatient and weak minds are perverted, as if they were good in vain; since God averteth, or seemeth to avert, His eyes from the good works of the pious and faithful, and to promote the wicked in those pleasures which they love. Weak men, therefore, imagining that they live well in vain, are induced either to imitate the wickedness of those whom they see flourishing: or if either through bodily or mental weakness they are deterred from doing wrong by a fear of the penal laws of the world; not because they love justice, but, to speak more openly, fearing the condemnation of men among men, they refrain indeed from wicked deeds, but refrain not from wicked thoughts. And among their wicked thoughts, the chief is the wickedness which leadeth them impiously to imagine that God is neglectful, and regardless of human affairs: and that He either holdeth in equal estimation the good and the wicked: or even, and this is a still more pernicious notion, that He persecuteth the good, and favoureth the wicked. He who thinketh thus, although he doth no harm to any man, doth the greatest to himself, and is impious against himself, and by his wickedness hurteth not God, but slayeth himself. ...
2. The Psalm hath this title, that is, this inscription: "A Psalm of David himself, on the fourth day of the week." This Psalm is about to teach patience in the sufferings of the righteous: it enjoineth patience against the prosperity of the wicked, and buildeth up patience. This is the drift of the whole of it, from beginning to end. Wherefore then hath it such a title, "on the fourth of the week"? The first of the week is the Lord's day: the second, is the second week-day, which people of the world call the Moon's day: the third, is the third weekday, which they term Mars' day. The fourth of the Sabbaths therefore is the fourth week-day, which by Pagans is styled Mercury's day, and also by many Christians; but I would not call it so: and I wish they would change for the better, and cease to do so; for they have a phrase of their own, which they may use. For these terms are not of universal use: many nations have severally different names for them: so that the mode of speech used by the Church better beseemeth the mouth of a Christian.(5) Yet if custom hath induced any person to utter that with his tongue which his heart doth disapprove, let him remember, that all those whose names the stars bear were men, and that the stars did not commence their existence in the sky, when those men began theirs, but were there long before; but on account of some mortal services rendered unto mortals, those men in their own times, because they had great power, and were eminent in this life, since they were beloved by men, not on account of eternal life, but of temporal services, received divine honours. For then men of the old world, in being deceived and wishing to deceive, pointed to the stars in heaven, to flatter those who had done them any good service in their affection for this life, saying, that that was the star of such a man, this of another; while the man who had not beheld them before, so as to see that those stars were there before the birth of the man, were deceived into a belief: and thus this vain opinion was conceived. This erroneous opinion the devil strengthened, Christ overthrew. According to our mode of speech, then, the fourth of the week is taken for the fourth day from the Lord's day. Attend, therefore, beloved, to what this title meaneth. Here is a great mystery, and a truly hidden one. ... Let us therefore recall from the holy Scripture in Genesis, what was created on the first day; we find light: what was created on the second day; we find the firmament, which God called heaven: what was created on the third day; we find the form of earth and sea, and their separation, that all the gathering together of the waters was called sea, and all that was dry, the earth. On the fourth day, the Lord made the lights in heaven:(1) "The sun to rule the day: the moon and stars to govern the night:"(2) this was the work of the fourth day. What then is the reason that the Psalm hath taken its title from the fourth day: the Psalm in which patience is enjoined against the prosperity of the wicked, and the sufferings of the good. Thou findest the Apostle Paul speaking. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life."(3) ...
3. Let us now attend to the Psalm. "The Lord is the God of vengeance; the God of vengeance hath dealt confidently" (vcr. 1). Dost thou think that He doth not punish? "The God of vengeance" punisheth. What is, "The God of vengeance"? The God of punishments. Thou murmurest surely because the bad are not punished: yet do not murmur, lest thou be among those who are punished. That man hath committed a theft, and liveth: thou murmurest against God, because he who committed a theft on thee dieth not. ... Therefore, if thou wouldest have another correct his hand, do thou first correct thy tongue: thou wouldest have him correct his heart towards man, correct thy heart towards God; lest perchance, when thou desirest the vengeance of God, if it come, it find thee first. For He will come: He will come, and will judge those who continue in their wickedness, ungrateful for the prolongation of His mercy, for His long-suffering, treasuring up unto themselves wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who will render to every man according to his deeds:(4) because, "The Lord is the God of vengeance," therefore hath He "dealt confidently." ... Our safety is our Saviour: in Him He would place the hope of all the needy and poor. And what saith He? "I will deal confidently in Him." What meaneth this? He will not fear, will not spare the lusts and vices of men. Truly, as a faithful physician, with the healing knife of preaching in His hand, He hath cut away all our wounded parts. Therefore such as He was prophesied and preached beforehand, such was He found. ... How great things then did He, of whom it is said, "He taught them as one having authority," say unto them? "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!"(5) What great things did He say unto them, before their face? He feared no one. Why? Because He is the God of vengeance. For this reason He spared them not in words, that they might remain for Him after to spare them in judgment; because if they were unwilling to accept the healing of His word, they would afterwards incur their Judge's doom. Wherefore? Because He hath said, "The Lord is the God of vengeance, the God of vengeance hath dealt confidently;" that is, He hath spared no man in word. He who spared not in word when about to suffer, will He spare in judgment when about to judge? He who in His humility feared no man, will He fear any man in His glory? From His dealing thus confidently in time past, imagine how He will deal at the end of time. Murmur not then against God, who seemeth to spare the wicked; but be thou good, and perhaps for a season He may not spare thee the rod, that He may in the end spare thee in judgment. ...
4. And what followed, because He dealt confidently? "Be exalted, Thou Judge of the world" (vcr. 2). Because they imprisoned Him when bumble, thinkest thou they will imprison Him when exalted? Because they judged Him when mortal, will they not be judged by Him when immortal? What then saith He? "Be exalted," Thou, who hast dealt confidently, the confidence of whose word the wicked bore not, but thought they did a glorious deed, when they seized and crucified Thee; they who ought to have seized on Thee with faith, seized Thee with persecution. Thou then who hast among the wicked dealt confidently, and hast feared no man, because Thou hast suffered, "be exalted;" that is, arise again, depart into heaven. Let the Church also bear with long-suffering what the Church's Head hath borne with long-suffering. "Be exalted, Thou Judge of the world: and reward the proud after their deserving." He will reward them, brethren. For what is this, "Be exalted, Thou Judge of the world: and reward the proud after their deserving"? This is the prophecy of one who doth predict, not the boldness of one who commandeth. Not because the Prophet said, "Be exalted, Thou Judge of the world," did Christ obey the Prophet, in arising from the dead, and ascending into heaven; but because Christ was to do this, the Prophet predicted it. He seeth Christ abased in the spirit, abased he seeth Him: fearing no man, in speech sparing no man, and he saith, "He hath dealt confidently." He seeth how confidently He hath dealt, he seeth Him arrested, crucified, humbled, he seeth Him rising from the dead, and ascending into heaven, and from thence to come in judgment of those, among whose hands He had suffered every evil: "Be exalted," he saith, "Thou Judge of the world, and reward the proud after their deserving." The proud He will thus reward, not the humble. Who are the proud? Those to whom it is little to do evil: but they even defend their own sins. For on some of those who crucified Christ, miracles were afterwards performed, when out of the number of the Jews themselves there were found believers, and the blood of Christ was given unto them. Their hands were impious, and red with the blood of Christ. He whose blood they had shed, Himself washed them. They who had persecuted His mortal body which they had seen, became part of His very body, that is, the Church. They shed their own ransom, that they might drink their own ransom. For afterwards more were converted. ...
5. "Lord, how long shall the ungodly, how long shall the ungodly triumph?" (vcr. 3). "They answer, and will speak wickedness, they all will speak that work unrighteousness" (vcr. 4). What is their saying, but against God, when they say: What profiteth it us that we live thus? What wilt thou reply? Doth God truly regard our deeds? For because they live, they imagine that God knoweth not their actions. Behold, what evil happeneth unto them! If the officers(1) knew where they were, they would arrest them; and they therefore avoid the officer's eyes, that they may escape instant apprehension; but no one can escape the eye of God, since He not only seeth within the closet, but within the recesses of the heart. Even they themselves believe that nothing can escape God: and because they do evil, and are conscious of what they have done, and see that they live while God knoweth, though they would not live if the officer discovered them; they say unto themselves, These things please God: and, in truth, if they displeased Him, as they displease kings, as they displease judges, as they displease governors, as they displease recorders? yet could we escape the eye of God, as we do escape the eyes of those authorities? Therefore these things please God. ... Some righteous man cometh, and saith, Do not commit iniquity. Wherefore? That thou mayest not die. Behold, iniquity I have committed: why do I not die? That man wrought righteousness: and he is dead: why is he dead? I have wrought iniquity: why hath not God carried me off? Behold, that man did righteously: and why hath He thus visited him? why suffereth He thus? They answer; this is the meaning of the word "answer:" for they have a reply to make; because they are spared, from the long-suffering of God, they discover an argument for their reply. He spareth them for one reason, they answer for another, because they still live. For the Apostle telleth us wherefore He spareth, he expoundeth the grounds of the long-suffering of God: "And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness, and forbearance, and long-suffering; not knowing that the long-suffering of God leadeth thee to repentance ?" "But thou," that is, he who answereth and saith, If I displeased God, He would not spare me, hear what he worketh for himself; hear the Apostle; "but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up into thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his deeds."(3) He therefore increaseth His long-suffering, thou increasest thine iniquity. His treasure will consist in eternal mercy towards those who have not despised His mercy; but thy treasure will be discovered in wrath, and what thou daily layest up by little and little, thou wilt find in the accumulated mass; thou layest up by the grain, but thou wilt find the whole heap. Omit not to watch thy slightest daily sins: rivers are filled from the smallest drops.
6. ... "They have humbled Thy people, O Lord; and have troubled Thine heritage" (vcr. 5). "They have murdered the widow, and the fatherless: and slain the proselyte" (vcr. 6); that is, the traveller, the pilgrim: the comer from far, as the Psalmist calleth himself. Each of these expressions is too clear in meaning to make it worth while to dwell upon them.
7. "And they have said, The Lord shall not see" (vcr. 7): He observeth not, regardeth not these things: He careth for other matters, He understandeth not. These are rite two assertions of the wicked: one which I have just quoted, "These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest unrighteousness, that I will be like thyself." What meaneth, "that I will be like thyself"? Thou thinkest that I see thy deeds, and that they are pleasing unto Me, because I do not punish them. There is another assertion of the wicked: because God neither regardeth these things, nor observeth that He may know how I live, God heedeth me not. Doth then God make any reckoning of me? or doth He even take account of me? or of men in general? Unhappy man! He cared for thee, that thou mightest exist: doth He not care that thou live well? Such then are the words of these last; "and yet they have said, The Lord shall not see: neither shall the God of Jacob regard it."
8. "Take heed now, ye that are unwise among the people: O ye fools, some time understand!" (vcr. 8). He teacheth His people whose feet might slip: any one among them seeth the prosperity of the wicked, himself living well among the Saints of God, that is, among the number of the sons of the Church: he seeth that the wicked flourish, and work iniquity, he envieth, and is led to follow them in their actions; because he seeth that apparently it profiteth him nothing that he liveth well in humility, hoping for his reward here. For if he hopeth for it in future, he loseth it not; because the time is not yet come for him to receive it. Thou art working in a vineyard: execute thy task, and thou shall receive thy pay. Thou wouldest not exact it from thy employer, before thy work was finished, and yet dost thou exact it from God before thou dost work? This patience is part of thy work, and thy pay dependeth upon thy work: thou who dost not choose to be patient, choosest to work less upon the vineyard: since this act of patience belongeth to thy labouring itself, which is to gain thy pay. But if thou art treacherous, take care, lest thou shouldest not only not receive thy pay, but also suffer punishment, because thou hast chosen to be a treacherous labourer. When such a labourer beginneth to do ill, he watcheth his employer's eyes, who hired him for his vineyard, that he may loiter when his eye is turned away; but the moment his eyes are turned towards him, he worketh diligently. But God, who hired thee, averteth not His eyes: thou canst not work treacherously: the eyes of thy Master are ever upon thee: seek an opportunity to deceive Him, and loiter if thou canst. If then any of you had any such ideas, when ye saw the wicked flourishing, and if such thoughts caused your feet to slip in the path of God; to you this Psalm speaketh: but if perchance none of you be such, through you it doth address others, in these words, "Take heed now;" since they had said, "The Lord shall not see: neither shall the God of Jacob regard it." "Take heed," it saith, "now, ye that are unwise among the people: and ye fools, some time understand!"(1)
9. "He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? or He that made the eye, doth He not consider?" (vcr. 9) "or He that instructeth the nations, shall He not reprove?" (vcr. 10). This is what God is at present doing: He is instructing the nations: for this reason he sent His word to man throughout the world: He sent it by Angels, by Patriarchs, by Prophets, by servants, through so many heralds going before the Judge. He sent also His own Word Himself, He sent His own Son in Person: He sent the servants of His Son, and in these very servants His own Son. Throughout the world is everywhere preached the word of God. Where is it not said unto men, Abandon your former wickedness, and turn yourselves to right paths? He spareth, that ye may correct yourselves: He punished not yesterday, in order that to-day ye may live well. He teacheth the heathen, shall He not therefore reprove? will He not hear those whom He teacheth? will He not judge those to whom He hath beforehand sent and sown lessons of warning? If thou wast in a school, wouldest thou receive a task, and not repeat it? When therefore thou receivest it from thy master, thou art being taught: the Master giveth thy task into thy hands, and shall He not exact it from thee when thou comest to repeat it? or when thou hast begun to repeat it, shalt thou not be in fear of stripes? At present then we are receiving our work: afterwards we are placed before the Master, that we may give up to Him all our past tasks, that is, that we may give an account of all those things which are now being bestowed upon us. Hear the Apostle's words: "We must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ," etc.(1) "It is He that teacheth man knowledge." Doth He not know, who maketh thee to know?
10. "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are but vain" (ver. 11). For although thou knowest not the thoughts of God, that they are righteous; "He knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are but vain." Even men have known the thoughts of God: but those to whom He hath become a friend, it is to them He showeth His counsel. Do not, brethren, despise yourselves: if ye approach the Lord with faith, ye hear the thoughts of God; these ye are now learning, this is told you, and for this reason ye are taught, why God spareth the wicked m this life, that ye may not murmur against God, who teacheth man knowledge. "The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are but vain." Abandon therefore the thoughts of man, which are vain: that ye may take hold on the thoughts of God, which are wise. But who is he who taketh hold on the thoughts of God? He who is placed in the firmament of heaven. We have already chanted that Psalm, and have expounded this expression therein.
11. "Blessed is the man whom Thou chastenest, O Lord: and teachest him from Thy law" (ver. 12). Behold, thou hast the counsel of God, wherefore He spareth the wicked: the pit is being digged for the sinner. Thou wishest to bury him at once: the pit is as yet being dug for him: do not be in haste to bury him. What mean the words, "until the pit be digged up for the sinner "? or whom cloth He mean by sinner? One man? No. Whom then? The whole race of such that are sinners? No; them that are proud; for he had said before, "Reward the proud after their deserving." For that publican, who would not so much as lift up his eyes to heaven, but "smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner,"(2) was a sinner; but since he was not proud, and since God will render a recompense to the proud; the pit is being dug not for him, but for them that are such, until He render a recompense to the proud. In the words then, "until the pit be digged up for the ungodly," understand the proud. Who is the proud? He who doth not by confession of his sins do penance, that he may be healed through his humility. Who is the proud? He who chooseth to arrogate to himself those few good things which he seemeth to possess, and who doth detract from the mercy of God. Who is the proud? He who although he doth ascribe unto God his good works, yet insulteth those who do not those good works, and raiseth himself above them. ... This then is the Christian doctrine: no man doeth anything well except by His grace. A man's bad acts are his own: his good he doth of God's bounty. When he hath begun to do well, let not him ascribe it unto himself: when he hath not attributed it to himself, let him give thanks to Him from whom he hath received it. But when he doeth well, let him not insult him who doth not as he doth nor exalt himself above him: for the grace of, God is not stayed at him, so that it cannot reach another.
12. "That Thou mayest give him patience in days of malice: until the pit be digged up for the ungodly" (ver. 13). Have patience therefore every one, if thou art a Christian, in time of malice. Days of malice are those in which the ungodly appear to flourish, and the righteous to suffer; but the suffering of the righteous is the rod of the Father, and the prosperity of the ungodly is their own snare. For because God giveth you patience in time of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the ungodly, do not think that the Angels are standing in some place with mattocks, and are digging that great pit which shall be able to contain the whole race of the ungodly; and because ye see that the wicked are many, and say unto yourselves carnally: Truly what pit can contain so great a multitude of the wicked, such a crowd of sinners? where is a pit of such dimensions, as to contain all, dug? when finished? therefore God spareth them. This is not so: their very prosperity is the pit of the wicked: for into that shall they fall, as it were into a pitfall. Attend, brethren, for it is a great thing to know that prosperity is called a pitfall: "until the pit be digged up for the ungodly." For God spareth him whom He knoweth to be ungodly and impious, in His own hidden justice: and this very sparing of God, causeth him to be puffed up through his impunity. ... The proud man raiseth himself up against God: God sinketh him: and he sinketh by the very act of raising himself up against God. For in another Psalm(3) he thus saith, "Thou hast cast them down, while they were being exalted." He said not, Thou hast cast them down, because they were exalted; or, Thou hast cast them down, after they were exalted; so that the period of their exaltation be one, of their casting down another: but in the very act of their exaltation were they cast down. For in proportion as the heart of man is proud, so doth it recede from God; and if it recede from God, it sinketh down into the deep. On the other hand, the humble heart bringeth God unto it from heaven, so that He becometh very near unto it. Surely God is lofty, God is above all the heavens, He surpasseth all the Angels: how high must these be raised, to reach that exalted One? Do not burst thyself by enlarging thyself; I give thee other advice, lest perchance in enlarging thyself thou burst, through pride: surely God is lofty: do thou humble thyself, and He will descend unto thee.
13. ...Do thou rejoice beneath the scourge: because the heritage is kept for thee, "for the Lord will not cast off His people" (ver. 14). He chasteneth for a season, He condemneth not for ever: the others He spareth for a season, and will condemn them for evermore. Make thy choice: dost thou wish temporary suffering, or eternal punishment? temporal happiness, or eternal life? What doth God threaten? Eternal punishment. What doth He promise? Eternal rest. His scourging the good, is temporary: His sparing the wicked, is also temporary. "Neither will He forsake His inheritance."
14. "Until righteousness," he saith, "turn again unto judgment, and all they that have it are right in heart" (ver. 15). Listen now, and gain righteousness: for judgment thou canst not yet have. Thou shouldest gain righteousness first; but that very righteousness of thine shall turn unto judgment. The Apostles had righteousness here on earth, and bore with the wicked. But what is said unto them? "Ye shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of lsrael."(1) Their righteousness therefore shall turn unto judgment. For whoever is righteous in this life, is so for this reason, that he may endure evils with patience: let him suffer patiently the period of suffering, and the day of judging cometh. But why do I speak of the servants of God? The Lord Himself, who is the Judge of all living and dead, first chose to be judged, and then to judge. Those who have righteousness at present, are not yet judges. For the first thing is to have righteousness, and afterwards to judge: He first endureth the wicked, and afterwards judgeth them. Let there be righteousness now: afterwards it shall turn again unto judgment. And so long He endureth wicked men, as God doth will, as long as God's Church shall endure them, that she may be taught through their wickedness. Nevertheless, God will not cast off His people, "all such as have it are right in heart." Who are those who are right in heart? Those whose will is the will of God. He spareth sinners: thou dost wish Him at once to destroy sinners. Thy heart is crooked and thy will perverted, when thy will is one way and the will of God another. God wisheth to spare sinners: thou dost not wish sinners spared. God is of long-suffering to sinners: thou dost not wish to endure sinners. ... Wish not to bend the will of God to thy will, but rather correct thy will to His. The will of God is like a rule: behold, suppose, thou hast twisted the rule: whence canst thou be set straight? But the rule itself continueth straight: for it is immutable. As long as the rule is straight, thou hast whither to turn thyself, and straighten thy perversity; thou hast a means of correcting what is crooked in thee. But what do men will? It is not enough that their own will is crooked; they even wish to make the will of God crooked according to their own heart, that God may do what they themselves will, when they ought to do that which God willeth. ...
15. "Who will rise up for me against the wicked? or who will take my part against the evil doers?" (ver. 16). Many persuade us to divers evils: the serpent ceaseth not to whisper to thee to work iniquity: whichever way thou shalt turn, if perchance thou hast done well, thou seekest to live well with some one, and thou hardly findest any one; many wicked men surround thee, for there are few grains of wheat, and much chaff. This floor hath its grains of corn, but as yet they suffer. Therefore the whole mass of the wheat, when separated from the chaff, will be great: the grains are few, but when compared with the chaff, still many in themselves. When therefore the wicked cry out on every side, and say, Why livest thou thus? Art thou the only Christian? Why dost thou not do what others also do? Why dost thou not frequent the theatres, as others do? Why dost thou not use charms and amulets? Why dost thou not consult astrologers and soothsayers, even as others do? And thou crossest(2) thyself, and sayest, I am Christian, that thou mayest repel them, whosoever they are; but the enemy presses on, urges his attacks; what is worse, by the example of Christians he choketh Christians. They toil on, in the midst of heat: the Christian soul suffereth tribulation: yet it hath power to conquer: hath it such power of itself? For this reason remark what he saith. For he answereth, What doth it profit me that I now find charms for myself, and gain a few days? I depart hence from this life, and repair unto my Lord, who shall send me into the flames; because I have preferred a few days to life eternal, He shall send me into hell. What hell? That of the eternal judgment of God. Is it really so (the enemy answereth), unless indeed thou really believest that God careth how men live? And perhaps it is not an acquaintance who speaketh thus to thee in the street, but thy wife at home, or possibly the husband to the faithful and holy wife, her deceiver. If it be the woman to her husband, she is as Eve unto him; if as the husband unto the wife, he is as the devil unto her: either she is herself as Eve unto thee, or thou art a serpent unto her. Sometimes the father would incline his thoughts to his son, and findeth him wicked, utterly depraved: he is in a fever of misery, he wavers, he seeketh how to subdue him, he is almost drawn in, and consenteth: but may God be(1) near him. ...
16. "If the Lord," he saith, "had not helped me: within a little my soul had dwelt in hell" (ver. 17). I had almost plunged into that pit which is preparing for sinners: that is, my soul had dwelt in hell. Because he already began to waver, and nearly to consent, he looked back unto the Lord. Suppose, for example's sake, he was insulted to tempt him to iniquity. For sometimes the wicked flock together, and insult the good; especially if they are more in number, and if they have taken him alone, as there is often much chaff about one grain of wheat (though there will not be when the heap hath been fanned); he is then taken among many wicked ones, is insulted, and surrounded; they wish to place themselves over him, they torment him and insult him for his very righteousness. A great Apostle! say they; Thou hast flown] into heaven, as Elias did! Men do these things, so that sometime, when he listeneth to the tongue of men, he is ashamed to be good among the wicked. Let him therefore resist the evil; but not of his own strength, lest he become proud, and when he wishes to escape the proud, himself increase their number. ...
17. "If I said, My foot hath slipt; Thy mercy, O Lord, held me up" (ver. 18). See how God loveth confession. Thy foot hath slipt, and thou sayest not, my foot hath slipt; but thou sayest thou art firm, when thou art slipping. The moment thou beginnest to slip or waver, confess thou that slip, that thou mayest not bewail thy total fall; that He may help, so that thy soul be not in hell. God loveth confession, loveth humility. Thou hast slipped, as a man; God helpeth thee, nevertheless: yet say, "My foot hath slipt." Why dost thou slip, and yet sayest, I am firm? "When I said, My foot hath slipt, Thy mercy, O Lord, hath held me up." Just as Peter presumed, but not in strength of his own. The Lord was seen to walk upon the sea, trampling on the heads of all the proud in this life. In walking upon the foaming waves, He figured His own course when He trampleth on the heads of the proud. The Church too doth trample upon them: for Peter is the Church Herself. Nevertheless, Peter dared not by himself walk upon the waters; but what said he? "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water." He in His own power, Peter by His order; "bid me," he saith, "come unto Thee." He answered, "Come." For the Church also trampleth on the heads of the proud; but since it is the Church, and hath human weakness, that these words might be fulfilled, "If I said, My foot hath slipt," Peter tottered on the sea, and cried out, "Lord, save me!"(3) and so what is here put, "If I said, My foot hath slipt," is put there, "Lord, I perish." And what is here, "Thy mercy, O Lord, hath held me up," is there put, "And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, saying, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"(4) It is wonderful how God proveth men: our very dangers render Him who rescueth us sweeter unto us. For see what followeth: because he said, "If I said, My foot hath slipt, Thy mercy, O Lord, hath held me up." The Lord hath become especially sweet unto him, in rescuing him from danger; and thus speaking of this very sweetness of the Lord, he exclaimeth and saith, "O Lord, in the multitude of the sorrows that I had in my heart, Thy comforts have refreshed my soul" (ver. 19). Many sorrows, but many consolations: bitter wounds, and sweet remedies.
18. "Wilt Thou have anything to do with the stool of iniquity, who makest sorrow in learning?" (ver. 20). He hath said this, No wicked man sitteth with Thee, nor shall Thou have anything to do with the stool of iniquity. And he giveth an account whereof he understandeth this, "For Thou makest sorrow in learning." For from this, because Thou hast not spared us, do I understand that Thou hast nothing to do with the stool of iniquity. Thou hast this in the Epistle of the Apostle Peter, and for this reason he hath adduced a testimony from the Scripture: "for the time is come," he saith, "that judgment must begin at the house of God;" that is, the time is come for the judgment of those who belong to the house of God. If sons are scourged, what must the most wicked slaves expect? For which reason he added: "And if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the Gospel of God?" To which he added this testimony: "For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?"(5) How then shall the wicked be with Thee, if Thou dost not even spare Thy faithful, in order that Thou mayest exercise and teach them?(6) But as He spareth them not, for this reason, that He may teach them: he saith, "For Thou makest sorrow in learning." "Makest," that is, formest: from whence comes the word figulus (from fingo), and a potter's vessel is called fictile: not in the meaning of fiction, a falsehood, but of forming so as to give anything being and some sort of form; as before he said, "He that fabricated (finxit) the eye, shall He not see?"(7) Is that, "fabricated the eye" a falsehood? Nay, it is understood He fashioned the eye, made the eye. And is He not a potter when He makes men frail, weak, earthly? Hear the Apostle: "We have this treasure in earthen vessels."(1) ... Behold our Lord Himself, how He showeth Himself a potter.(2) Because He had made man of clay, He anointed him with clay, for whom He had not made eyes in the womb. And so when he saith, "Hast Thou anything to do," etc., he saith, out of grief makest learning for us, so that grief itself becomes our instruction. How is sorrow our learning? When He scourgeth thee who died for thee, and who doth not promise bliss in this life, and who cannot deceive, and when He giveth not here what thou seekest. What will He give? when will He give? how much will He give, who giveth not here, who here teacheth, who maketh sorrow in learning? Thy labour is here, and rest is promised thee. Thou takest thought that thou hast toil here: but take thought what sort of rest He promiseth. Canst thou conceive it? If thou couldest, thou wouldest see that thy toil here is nothing toward an equivalent. ...
19. Attend, brethren; it is for sale.(3) What I have is for sale, saith God unto thee, buy it. What hath He for sale? I have rest for sale; buy it by thy toil. Attend, that we may be in Christ's name brave Christians: the remainder of the Psalm is but a little, let us not be weary. For how can he be strong in doing, who faileth in hearing? The Lord will help us to expound unto you the remainder. Attend then: God hath, as it were, proclaimed the kingdom of heaven for sale. Thou sayest unto Him, What is its value? The price is toil: if He were to say, its price is gold, it would not suffice to say this only, but thou wouldest seek to know how much gold; for there is a mass of gold, and half an ounce, and a pound, and the like. He said "price," that thou mightest not be at pains to inquire, how long thou shouldest find it. The price of the commodity is toil: how much toil is it? Now seek how much thou shouldest toil for it. Thou art not as yet told how great that toil is doomed to be, or how much toil is required of thee: God saith this unto thee, I show thee how great that rest will be; do thou judge with what measure of toil it should be bought.
20. ... He promised rest: suffer trouble. He threateneth eternal fire; despise temporal pains: and while Christ doth watch, let thy heart be calmed, that thou also mayest reach the harbour For He would not fail to prepare a harbour, who provided a vessel. "Hast Thou anything to do with the stool of iniquity, Thou who makest sorrow in learning?" He trieth us with the wicked, and by their persecution He teacheth us. By means of the malice of the wicked the good is scourged, through the slave the son is chastened: thus is learning taught by sorrow. What God alloweth them power to do, that do wicked men, whom He spareth for a season, do.
21. For what followeth? "They will be captious against the soul of the righteous "(ver. 21 ). Why will they be captious? Because they can find no true ground of accusation. For how were they captious against our Lord? They made up false accusations,(4) because they could not find true ones. "And will condemn the innocent blood." Why all this taketh place, he will show in the sequel.
22. "And the Lord is become my refuge" (ver. 22), he saith. Thou wouldest not seek such a refuge, if thou wert not in danger: but thou hast therefore been in danger, that thou mightest seek for it: for He teacheth us by sorrow. He causeth me tribulation from the malice of the wicked: pricked with that tribulation, I begin to seek a refuge which I had ceased to seek for in that worldly prosperity. For who, that is always prosperous, and rejoiceth in present hopes, findeth it easy to remember God? Let the hope of this life give way, and the hope of God advance; that thou mayest say, "And the Lord is become my refuge:" may I sorrow for this end that the Lord may become my refuge! "And my God the help of my hope." For as yet the Lord is our hope, since as long as we are here, we are in hope, and not in possession. But lest we fail in hope, there is near us a provision to encourage us, and to mitigate those very evils which we suffer. For it is not said in vain, "God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be [tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it: "(5) who will so put us into that furnace of tribulation, that the vessel may be hardened, but not broken. "And the Lord is become my refuge: and my God the help of my hope." Why then did He seem to thee to be as it were unjust, in that He spareth the evil? See then how the Psalm is now set right, and be thou set right together with the Psalm: for, for this reason the Psalm contained thy words. What words? "Lord, how long shall the ungodly, how long shall the ungodly triumph?"(6) The Psalm just now used thy words: use therefore thyself the Psalm's words in thy turn.
23. "And the Lord shall recompense them according to their works, and after their own malice; the Lord our God shall destroy them" (ver. 23). The words, "after their own malice," are not said without meaning. I am benefited through them: and yet it is said to be their malice, and not their benefits. For assuredly He trieth us, scourgeth us, by means of the wicked. To prepare us for what doth He scourge us? Confessedly for the kingdom of heaven. "For He scourgeth every son whom He receiveth; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? "(1) and when God doth this, He is teaching us in order to an eternal heritage: and this learning He often giveth us by means of wicked men, through whom He trieth and perfecteth our love, which He doth will to be extended even to our enemies.(2) ... Thus also they who persecuted the Martyrs, by persecuting them on earth, sent them into heaven: knowingly they caused them the loss of the present life, while unconsciously they were bestowing upon them the gain of a future life: but, nevertheless, unto all who persevered in their wicked hatred of the righteous, will God recompense after their own iniquities, and in their own malice will He destroy them. For as the goodness of the righteous is hurtful unto the wicked, so is the iniquity of the wicked beneficial unto the righteous. ...
24. Let therefore the righteous bear with the ungodly; let the temporal suffering of the righteous bear with the temporal impunity of the wicked; for "the just shall live by faith."(3) For there is no righteousness of man in this life except to live by faith, "which worketh by love."(4) But if he liveth by faith, let him believe both that he will himself inherit rest after his present toil, and that they will suffer eternal torments after their present exultation. And if faith worketh by love, let him love his enemies also, and, as far as in him lies, have the will to profit them; for thus he will prevent their injuring him when they have the will. And whenever perchance they have received power to hurt and tyrannize; let him lift his heart above, where no man hurteth him, well taught and chastened in the law of God, that he may "have patience given him in the days of adversity, until the pit be digged up for the ungodly." ...
25. This I say, brethren, that ye may profit from what ye have heard, and ruminate within yourselves: permit not yourselves to forget, not only by thinking over again upon these subjects, and discoursing upon them, but also by so living. For a good life which is led after God's commands, is like a pen, because it is heard writing in our hearts. If it were written on wax, it would easily be blotted out: write it in your hearts, in your character, and it shall never be blotted out.
1. I could wish, brethren, that we were rather listening to our father: but even this is a good thing, to obey our father. Since therefore he who deigneth to pray for us, hath ordered us, I will speak unto you, beloved, what from the present Psalm Jesus Christ our common Lord shall deign to give us. Now the title of the Psalm is "David's Song of praise." The "Song of praise" signifieth both cheerfulness, in that it is a song; and devotion, for it is praise. For what ought a man to praise more than that which pleaseth him so, that it is impossible that it can displease him? In the praising of God therefore we praise with security. There he who praiseth is safe, where he feareth not lest he be ashamed for the object of his praise. Let us therefore troth praise and sing; that is, let us praise with cheerfulness and joy. But what we are about to praise, this Psalm in the following verses showeth us.
2. "O come, let us sing unto the Lord" (ver. 1 ). He calleth us to a great banquet of joy, not one of this world, but in the Lord. For if there were not in this life a wicked joy which is to be distinguished from a righteous joy, it would be enough to say, "Come, let us rejoice;" but he has briefly distinguished it. What is it to rejoice aright? To rejoice in the Lord. Thou shouldest piously joy in the Lord, if thou dost wish safely to trample upon the world. But what is the word, "Come "? Whence doth He call them to come, with whom he wisheth to rejoice in the Lord; except that, while they are afar, they may by coming draw nearer, by drawing nearer they may approach, and by approaching rejoice? But whence are they afar? Can a man be locally distant from Him who is everywhere? ... It is not by place, but by being unlike Him, that a man is afar from God. What is to be unlike Him? it meaneth, a bad life, bad habits; for if by good habits we approach God, by bad habits we recede from God. ... If therefore by unlikeness we recede from God, by likeness we approach unto God. What likeness? That after which we were created, which by sinning we had corrupted in ourselves, which we have received again through the remission of sins, which is renewed in us in the mind within, that it may be engraved a second time as if on coin, that is, the image of our God upon our soul, and that we may return to His treasures. ...
3. "Let us make a joyful(6) noise unto God, our salvation." ... Consider, beloved, those who make a joyful noise in any ordinary songs, as in a sort of competition of worldly joy; and ye see them while reciting the written lines bursting forth with a joy, that the tongue sufficeth not to express the measure of; how they shout, indicating by that utterance the feeling of the mind, which cannot in words express what is conceived in the heart. If they then in earthly joy make a joyful noise; might we not do so from heavenly joy, which truly we cannot express in words?
4. "Let us prevent His face by confession (ver. 2). Confession hath a double meaning in Scripture. There is a confession of him who praiseth, there is that of him who groaneth. The confession of praise pertaineth to the honour of Him who is praised: the confession of groaning to the repentance of him who confesseth. For men confess when they praise God: they confess when they accuse themselves; and the tongue hath no more worthy use. Truly, I believe these to be the very vows, of which he speaketh in another Psalm: "I will pay Thee my vows, which I distinguished with my lips."(1) Nothing is more elevated than that distinguishing, nothing is so necessary both to understand and to do. How then dost thou distinguish the vows which thou payest unto God? By praising Him, by accusing thyself; because it is His mercy, to forgive us our sins. For if He chose to deal with us after our deserts, He would find cause only to condemn. "O come," he said therefore, that we may at last go back from our sins, and that He may not cast up with us our accounts for the past; but that as it were a new account may be commenced, all the bonds of our debts having been burnt. ... The more therefore thou despairedst of thyself on account of thy iniquities, do thou confess thy sins; for so much greater is the praise of Him who forgiveth, as is the fulness of the penitent's confession more abundant. Let us not therefore imagine that we have receded from the song of praise, in understanding here that confession by which we acknowledge our transgressions: this is even a part of the song of praise; for when we confess our sins, we praise the glory of God.
5. "And make a joyful(2) noise unto Him with Psalms." We have already said what it is "to make a joyful noise:" the word is repeated, that it may be confirmed by the act: the very repetition is an exhortation. For we have not forgotten, so as to wish to be again admonished what was said above, that we should make a joyful noise: but usually in passages of strong feeling a well-known word is repeated, not to make it more familiar, but that the very repetition may strengthen the impression made: for it is repeated that we may understand the feeling of the speaker. ... Hear now: "For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods" (ver. 3) "For the Lord will not cast off His people."(3) Praise be unto Him, and shouts of joy be unto Him! What people shall He not cast off? we have no right to make our own explanation here: for the Apostle hath prescribed this unto us, he hath explained whereof it is said. For this was the Jewish people, the people where were the prophets, the people where were the patriarchs, the people begotten according to the flesh from the seed of Abraham; the people in which all the mysteries which promised our Saviour preceded us; the people among whom was instituted the temple, the anointing, the Priest for a figure, that when all these shadows were past, the Light itself might come; this therefore was the people of God; to it were the prophets sent, in it those who were sent were born; to it were delivered and entrusted the revelations of God. What then? is the whole of that people condemned? far be it. It is called. the good olive-tree by the Apostle, for it commenced with the patriarchs. ... This then is the tree itself: though some of its boughs have been broken, yet all have not. For if all the boughs were broken, whence is Peter? whence John? whence Thomas? whence Matthew? whence Andrew? whence are all those Apostles? whence that very Apostle Paul who was speaking to us but now, and by his own fruit bearing witness to the good olive? Were not all these of that people? Whence also those five hundred brethren to whom our Lord appeared after His resurrection?(4) Whence were so many thousands at the words of Peter (when the Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, spoke with the tongues of all nations(5)) converted with such zeal for the honour of God and their own accusation, that they who first shed the Lord's blood in their rage, learnt how to drink it now that they believed? And all these five thousand were so converted that they sold their own property, and laid the price of it at the Apostles' feet.(6) That which one rich man did not do, when he heard from the Lord's mouth, and sorrowfully departed from Him,(7) this so many thousands of those men by whose hands Christ had been crucified, did on a sudden. In proportion as the wound was deeper in their own hearts, with the greater eagerness did they seek for a physician. Since therefore all these were from thence, the Psalm saith of them, "For the Lord will not cast off His people." ...
6. What doth the Psalm add? In His hand are all the corners of the earth" (ver. 4): we recognise the corner stone: the corner stone is Christ. There cannot be a corner, unless it hath united in itself two walls: they come from different sides to one corner, but they are not opposed to each other in the corner. The circumcision cometh from one side. the uncircumcision from the other; in Christ both peoples have met together: because He hath become the stone, of which it is written, "The stone which the builders rejected, hath become the head of the corner." (1)
7. "For the sea is His and He made it" (ver. 5). For the sea is this world, but God made also the sea: nor can the waves rage save only so far as to the shore, where He hath marked their bounds. There is therefore no temptation, that hath not received its measure. ... "And His hands prepared the dry land." Be thou the dry land: thirst for the grace of God: that as a sweet shower it may come upon thee, may find m thee fruit. He alloweth not the waves to cover what He hath sown. "And His hands prepared the dry land." Hence also therefore let us shout unto the Lord.
8. "O come, let us worship, and fall down to Him; and mourn before the Lord our Maker" (ver. 6). ... Perhaps thou art burning with the consciousness of a fault; blot out with tears the flame of thy sin: mourn before the Lord: fearlessly mourn before the Lord, who made thee; for He despiseth not the work of His own hands in thee. Think not thou canst be restored by thyself. By thyself thou mayest fall off, thou canst not restore thyself: He who made thee restoreth thee. "Let us mourn before the Lord our Maker:" weep before Him, confess unto Him, prevent His face in confession. For who art thou who mournest before Him, and confessest unto Him, but one whom He created? The tiring created hath no slight confidence in Him who created it, and that in no indifferent fashion, but according to His own image and likeness.
9. "For He is the Lord our God" (ver. 7). But that we may without fear fall down and kneel before Him, what are we? "We are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand." See how elegantly he hath transposed the order of the words, and as it were not given its own attribute to each word; that we may understand these very same to be the sheep, who are also the people. He said not, the sheep of His pasture, and the people of His hand; which might be thought more congruous, since the sheep belong to the pasture; but He said, "the people of His pasture." The people are therefore sheep, since he saith, "the people of His pasture:" the people themselves are sheep... He praiseth these sheep also in the Song of Solomon, speaking of some perfect ones as the teeth of His Spouse the Holy Church: "Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which come up from the washing; whereof every one beareth twins, and there is none barren."(2) What meaneth, "Thy teeth "? These by whom thou speakest: for the teeth of the Church are those through whom she speaketh. Of what sort are thy teeth? "Like a flock of sheep that are shorn." Why, "that are shorn"? Because they have laid aside the burdens of the world. Were not those sheep, of which I was a little before speaking, shorn, whom the bidding of God had shorn, when He saith," Go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor; and thou shalt find treasure in heaven: and come and follow Me "?(3) They performed this bidding: shorn they came. And because those who believe in Christ are baptized, what is there said? "which come up from the washing;" that is, come up from the cleansing. "Whereof every one beareth twins." What twins? Those two commandments, wherefrom hang all the Law and the Prophets.(4)
10. Therefore, "To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts" (ver. 8). O my people, the people of God! God addresses His people: not only the people of His which He shall not cast off, but also all His people. For He speaketh in the corner stone s to each wall: that is, prophecy speaketh in Christ, both to the people of the Jews, and the people of the Gentiles. For some time ye heard His voice through Moses, and hardened your hearts. He then, when you hardened your hearts, spoke through a herald; He now speaketh by Himself, let your hearts soften. He who used to send heralds before Him, hath now deigned to come Himself; He here speaketh by His own mouth, He who used to speak by the mouths of the Prophets.
11. "As in the provocation, and in the day of temptation in the wilderness, where your fathers proved Me" (ver. 9). Let such be no more your fathers: imitate them not. They were your fathers, but if ye do not imitate them, they shall not be your fathers: yet as ye were born of them, they were your fathers. And if the heathen who came from the ends of the earth, in the words of Jeremias, "The Gentiles shall come unto Thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our forefathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit: "(6) if the heathen forsook their idols, to come to the God of Israel; ought Israel whom their own God led from Egypt through the Red Sea,(7) wherein He overwhelmed their pursuing foes; whom He led out into the wilderness, fed with manna,(8) never took His rod from correcting them, never deprived them of the blessings of His mercy; ought they to desert their own God, when the heathen have come unto Him? "When your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works. ...
12. "Forty years long was I very near unto this generation, and said, It is a people that do always err in their hearts; for they have not known My ways" (ver. 10). The forty years have the same meaning as the word "always." For that number forty indicates the fulness of ages, as if the ages were perfected in this number. Hence our Lord fasted forty days, forty days He was tempted in the desert,(1) and forty days He was with His disciples after His resurrection.(2) On the first forty days He showed us temptation, on the latter forty days consolation: since beyond doubt when we are tempted we are consoled. For His body, that is, the Church, must needs suffer temptations in this world: but that Comforter, who said, "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world,"(3) is not wanting. For this was I with them forty years, to show such a race of men, which alway provoketh Me, even unto the end of the world: because by those forty years He meant to signify the whole of this world's duration.
13. ... We began with exulting joy: but this Psalm hath ended with great fear: "Unto whom I sware in My wrath, that they should not enter into My rest" (ver. 11 ). It is a great thing for God to speak: how much greater for Him to swear? Thou shouldest fear a man when he sweareth, lest he do somewhat on account of his oath against his will: how much more shouldest thou fear God, when He sweareth, seeing He can swear nought rashly? He chose the act of swearing for a confirmation. And by whom doth God swear? By Himself: for He hath no greater by whom to swear.(4) By Himself He confirmeth His promises: by Himself He confirmeth His threats. Let no man say in his heart, His promise is true; His threat is false: as His promise is true, so is His threat sure. Thou oughtest to be equally assured of rest, of happiness, of eternity, of immortality, if thou hast executed His commandments; as of destruction, of the burning of eternal fire, of damnation with the devil, if thou hast despised His commandments. ...
1. My lord and brother Severus(6) still defers the pleasure we shall feel in his discourse, which he oweth us; for he acknowledgeth, that he is held a debtor. For all the Churches through which he hath passed, by his tongue the lord hath gladdened: much more therefore ought that Church to be rejoiced, out of which the Lord hath propagated his preaching among the rest. But what shall we do, but obey his will? I said, however, brethren, that he deferred, not that he defrauded us. Therefore let us keep him as a debtor bound, and release him not until he hath paid. Attend therefore, beloved: as far as the Lord alloweth, let us say somewhat of this Psalm, which indeed you already know; for the fresh mention of truth is sweet. Possibly when its title was pronounced, some heard it with wonder. For the Psalm is inscribed: "When the house was being built after the Captivity." This title having been prefixed, ye were perhaps expecting in the text of the Psalm to hear what stones were hewn from the mountains, what masses were drawn to the spot, what foundations were laid, what beams were placed on high, what columns raised. Its song is of nothing of this kind. ... It is no such house that is in building; for behold where it is built, not in one spot, not in any particular region. For thus he beginneth: --
2. "O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the earth"(7) (ver. 1 ). If all the earth singeth a new song, it is thus building while it singeth: the very act of singing is building: but only, if it singeth not the old song. The lust of the flesh singeth the old song: the love of God singeth the new. ... Hear why it is a new song: the Lord saith, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another."(8) The whole earth then singeth a new song: there the house of God is built. All the earth is the house of God. If all the earth is the house of God,(9) he who clingeth not to all the earth, is a ruin, not a house; that old ruin whose shadow that ancient temple represented. For there what was old was destroyed, that what was new might be built up. ... The Apostle bindeth us together into this very structure, and fasteneth us when bound together in that unity, saying, "Forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."(10) Where there is this unity of Spirit, there is one stone; but one stone formed out of many. How one formed out of many? By forbearing one another in love. Therefore the house of the Lord our God is in building; it is this that is being wrought, for this are these words, for this these readings, for this the preaching of the Gospel over the whole world; as yet it is in building. This house hath increased greatly, and filled many nations: nevertheless, it hath not yet prevailed through all nations: by its increase it hath held many, and will prevail over all: and it is gainsaid by those who boast of their being of its household, and who say, it hath already lost ground. It still increaseth, still all those nations which have not yet believed are destined to believe; that no man may say, will that tongue believe? will the barbarians believe? what is the meaning of the Holy Spirit having appeared in the fiery tongues,(1) except that there is no tongue so hard that it cannot be softened by that fire? For we know that many barbarous nations have already believed in Christ: Christ already possesseth regions where the Roman empire hath never yet reached; what is as yet closed to those who fight with the sword, is not closed to Him who fighteth with wood. For "the Lord hath reigned from the wood."(2) Who is it who fighteth with wood? Christ. With His cross He hath vanquished kings, and fixed upon their forehead, when vanquished, that very cross; and they glory in it, for in it is their salvation. This is the work which is being wrought, thus the house increaseth, thus it is building: and that ye may know, hear the following verses of the Psalm: see them labouring upon, and constructing the house. "O sing unto the Lord all the earth."
3. "Sing unto the Lord, bless His Name: be telling good tidings of His salvation from day to day" (ver. 2). How doth the building increase? "Be telling," he saith, "good tidings of His salvation from day to day." Let it be preached from day to day; from day to day, he saith, let it be built; let My house, saith God, increase. And as if it were said by the workmen, Where dost Thou command it to be built? Where dost Thou will Thy house to increase? Choose for us some level, spacious spot, if Thou wish an ample house built Thee. Where dost Thou bid us be telling good tidings from day to day? He showeth the place: "Declare His honour unto the heathen:" His honour, not yours. O ye builders, "Declare His honour unto the heathen." Should ye choose to declare your own honour, ye shall fall: if His, ye shall be built up, while ye are building. Therefore they who choose to declare their own honour, have refused to dwell in that house; and therefore they sing not a new song with all the earth.(3) For they do not share it with the whole round world; and hence they are not building in the house, but have erected a whited wall. How sternly doth God threaten the whited wall?(4) There are innumerable testimonies of the Prophets, whence He curseth the whited wall. What is the whited wall, save hypocrisy, that is, pretence? Without it is bright, within it is dirt. ... A certain person,(5) speaking of this whited wall, said thus: "as, if in a wall which standeth alone, and is not connected with any other walls, you make a door, whoever enters, is out of doors; so in that part which hath refused to sing the new song together with the house, but hath chosen to build a wall, and that a whited one, and not solid, what availeth it that it hath a door?" If thou enterest, thou art found to be without. For because they themselves did not enter by the door, their door also doth not admit them within. For the Lord saith, "I am the door: by Me they enter in."(6) ... "Declare His honour unto the heathen." What is, unto the heathen? Perhaps by nations but a few are meant: and that part which hath raised the whited wall hath still somewhat to say: why are not Getulia, Numidia, Mauritania, Byzacium, nations? Provinces are nations. Let the word of God take the word from hypocrisy, from the whited wall, building up the house over the whole world. It is not enough to say, "Declare His honour unto the heathen;" that thou mayest not think any nations excepted, he addeth, "and His wonders unto all people."
4. "For the Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised" (ver. 4). What Lord, except Jesus Christ, "is great, and cannot worthily be praised"? Ye know surely that He appeared as a Man: ye know surely that He was conceived in a woman's womb, ye know that He was born from the womb, that He was suckled, that He was carried in arms, circumcised, that a victim was offered for Him, that He grew; lastly, ye know that He was buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, was crucified, died, was pierced with a spear; ye know that He suffered all these things: "He is great, and cannot worthily be praised." Despise not what is little, understand what is great. He became little, because ye were such: let Him be acknowledged great, and in Him ye shall be great. ... For what can a small tongue say towards the praise of the Great One? By saying, Beyond praise,(7) he hath spoken, and hath given to imagination what it may conceive: as if saying, What I cannot utter, do thou reflect on; and when thou shalt have reflected, it will not be enough. What no man's thought uttereth, doth any man's tongue utter? "The Lord is great, and cannot worthily be praised." Let Him be praised, and preached: His honour declared, and His house built.
5. ... For the spot where he wished to build the house, is itself woody, where it was said yesterday, "we found it in the wood."(8) For he was seeking that very house, when he said, "in the wood." And why is that spot woody? Men used to worship images: it is not wonderful that they fed hogs. For that son who left his father, and spent his all on harlots, living as a prodigal, used to feed hogs,(1) that is, to worship devils; and by this very superstition of the heathen, all the earth became a wood. But he who buildeth a house, rooteth up the wood; and for this reason it was said, "While the house was being built, after the captivity."(2) For men were held captive under the devil, and served devils; but they were redeemed from captivity. They could sell, but they could not redeem themselves. The Redeemer came, and gave a price; He poured forth His Blood, and bought the whole world. Ye ask what He bought? Ye see what He hath given; find out then what He bought. The Blood of Christ was the price. What is equal to this? What, but the whole world? What, but all nations? They are very ungrateful for their price, or very proud, who say that the price is so small that it bought the Africans only; or that they are so great, as that it was given for them alone. Let them not then exult, let them not be proud: He gave what He gave for the whole world. He knew what He bought, because He knew at what price He bought it. Thus because we are redeemed, the house is built after the captivity. And who are they who held us in captivity? Because they to whom it is said, "Declare His honour," are the clearers of the wood: that they may root out the wood, free the earth from captivity, and build, and raise up, by declaring the greatness of the Lord's house. How is the wood of devils cleared away, unless He who is above them all be preached? All nations then had devils for their gods: those whom they called gods, were devils, as the Apostle more openly saith, "The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God."(3) Since therefore they were in captivity, because they sacrificed to devils, and on that account the whole earth had remained woody; He is declared to be great, and above all worldly praise.
6. ... For when he had said, "He is more to be feared than all gods:" he added, "As for all the gods of the heathen, they are devils." ... Because "all the gods of the heathen are devils." And is this all the praise of Him who cannot worthily be praised, that He is above all the gods of the heathen, which are devils? Wait, and hear what followeth: "It is the Lord that made the heavens." Not above all gods only therefore, but above all the heavens which He made, is the Lord. If he were to say, "above all gods, for the gods of the heathen are devils," and if the praise of our Lord stopped here, he had said less than we are accustomed to think of Christ; but when he said, "But it is the Lord that made the heavens;" see what difference there is between the heavens and devils: and what between the heavens and Him who made the heavens; behold how exalted is the Lord. He said not, But the Lord sitteth above the heavens; for perhaps some one else might be imagined to have made them, upon which He was enthroned: but, "It is the Lord that made the heavens." If He made the heavens, He made the Angels also: Himself made the Angels, Himself made the Apostles. The devils yielded to the Apostles: but the Apostles themselves were heavens, who bore the Lord. ... O heavens, which He made, declare His honour unto the heathen! Let His house be built throughout the earth, let all the earth sing a new song.
7. "Confession and beauty are before Him" (ver. 6). Dost thou love beauty? Wishest thou to be beautiful? Confess! He said not, beauty and confession, but confession and beauty. Thou wast foul; confess, that thou mayest be fair: thou wast a sinner; confess, that thou mayest be righteous. Thou couldest deform thyself: thou canst not make thyself beautiful. But of what sort is our Betrothed, who hath loved one deformed, that he might make her fair? How, saith some one, loved He one deformed? "I came not," said He, "to call the righteous, but sinners."(4) Whom callest Thou? sinners, that they may remain sinners? No, saith He. And by what means will they cease to be sinners? "Confession and beauty are before Him." They honour Him by confession of their sins, they vomit the evils which they had greedily devoured; they return not to their vomit, like the unclean dog;(5) and there will then be confession and beauty: we love beauty; let us first choose confession, that beauty may follow. Again, there is one who loveth power and greatness: he wisheth to be great as the Angels are. There is a certain greatness in the Angels; and such power, that if the Angels exert it to the full, it cannot be withstood. And every man desireth the power of the Angels, but their righteousness every man loveth not. First love righteousness, and power shall follow thee. For what followeth here? "Holiness and greatness are in His sanctification." Thou wast before seeking for greatness: first love righteousness: when thou art righteous, thou shall also be great. For if thou preposterously dost wish first to be great, thou fallest before thou canst rise: for thou dost not rise, thou art raised up. Thou risest better, if He raise thee who falleth not. For He who falleth not descendeth unto thee: thou hadst fallen: He descendeth, He hath stretched forth His hand unto thee; thou canst not rise by thy own strength, embrace the hand of Him who descendeth, that thou mayest be raised up by the Strong One.
8. What then? If "confession and beauty are before Him: holiness and greatness in His sanctification" (ver. 7). This we declare, when we are building the house; behold, it is already declared unto the heathen; what ought the heathen to do, to whom those who have cleared away the wood have declared the Lord's honour? He now saith to the heathen themselves, "Ascribe unto the Lord, O ye kindreds of the people: ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour." Ascribe them not unto yourselves: because they also who have declared it unto you, have not declared their own, but His honour. Do ye then "ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour;" and say, "Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us: but unto Thy Name give the praise."(1) Put not your trust in man. If each of you is baptized, let him say: He baptizeth me, of whom the friend of the Bridegroom said, "He baptizeth with the Holy Ghost."(2) For when ye say this, ye ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour: "Ascribe unto the Lord worship and honour."
9. Ascribe unto the Lord glory unto His Name" (ver. 8). Not unto the name of man, not unto your own name, but unto His ascribe worship. ... Confession is a present unto God. O heathen, if ye will enter into His courts, enter not empty. "Bring presents." What presents shall we bring with us? The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, shalt not Thou despise."(3) Enter with an humble heart into the house of God, and thou hast entered with a present. But if thou art proud, thou enterest empty. For whence wouldest thou be proud, if thou wert not empty? For if thou wast full, thou wouldest not be puffed up. How couldest thou be full? If thou weft to bring a present, which thou shouldest carry to the courts of the Lord. Let us not retain you much longer: let us run over what remaineth. Behold the house increasing: behold the edifice pervade the whole world. Rejoice, because ye have entered into the courts; rejoice, because ye are being built into the temple of God. For those who enter are themselves built up, they themselves are the house of God: He is the inhabitor, for whom the house is built over the whole world, and this "after the captivity." "Bring presents, and come into His courts."
10. "O worship the Lord in His holy court" (ver. 9): in the Catholic Church; this is His holy court. Let no man say, "Lo, here is Christ, or there. For there shall arise false prophets."(4) Say this unto them,(5) "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Ye are calling me to the whited wall; I adore my God in His holy court. "Let the whole earth be moved before His face."
11. "Tell it out among the nations, that the Lord reigneth from the wood:(6) and that it is He who hath made the round world so fast that it cannot be moved" (ver. 10). What testimonies of the building of the house of God! The clouds of heaven thunder out throughout the world that God's house is being built; and the frogs cry from the marsh,(7) We alone are Christians. What testimonies do I bring forward? That of the Psalter. I bring forward what thou singest as one deaf: open thine ears; thou singest this; thou singest with me, and thou agreest not with me; thy tongue soundeth what mine doth, and yet thine heart disagreeth with mine. Dost thou not sing this? Behold the testimonies of the whole world: "Let the whole earth be moved before His face:" and dost thou say, that thou art not moved? "Tell it out among the heathen, that the Lord hath reigned from the wood." Shall men perchance prevail here, and say they reign by wood, because they reign by means of the clubs of their bandits?(8) Reign by the Cross of Christ, if thou art to reign by wood. For this wood of thine maketh thee wooden: the wood of Christ passeth thee across the sea. Thou hearest the Psalm saying, "He hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved;" and thou sayest it hath not only been moved since it was made fast, but hath also decreased. Dost thou speak the truth, and the Psalmist falsehood? Do the false prophets, when they cry out, "Lo, here is Christ, and there,"(9) speak truth; and doth this Prophet lie? Brethren, against these most open words ye hear in the corners rumours like these; "such an one was a traditor," and, "such an one was a traditor."(10) What dost thou say? Are thy words, or the words of God, to be heard? For, "it is He who hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved." I show unto thee the round world built: bring thy present, and come into the courts of the Lord. Thou hast no presents: and on that account thou art not willing to enter. What is this? If God were to appoint unto thee a bull, goat, or ram, for a present, thou wouldest find one to bring: He hath appointed a humble heart, and thou wilt not enter; for thou findest not this in thyself, because thou art swollen with pride. "He hath set aright the round world, that it cannot be moved: and He shall judge the people righteously." Then shall they mourn, who now refuse to love righteousness.
12. "Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad" (ver. 11). Let the heavens, which declare the glory of God, rejoice; let the heavens rejoice, which the Lord made; let the earth be glad, which the heavens rain upon. For the heavens are the preachers, the earth the listeners. "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof." What sea? The world. The sea hath been stirred up, and the fulness thereof: the whole world was roused up against the Church, while it was being extended and built over all the earth. Concerning this stirring up, ye have heard in the Gospel, "They shall deliver you up to councils."(1) "The sea was stirred up: but how should the sea ever conquer Him who made it?
13. "The plains shall be joyful, and all things that are in them" (ver. 12). All the meek, all the gentle, all the righteous, are the "plains" of God. "Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice." The trees of the woods are the heathen. Why do they rejoice? Because they were cut off from the wild olive, and engraffed into the good olive.(2) "Then shall all the trees of the woods rejoice: "because huge cedars and cypresses have been cut down, and undecaying timbers have been bought for the building of the house. They were trees of the woods; but before they were sent to the building: they were trees of the woods, but before they produced the olive.
14. "Before the face of the Lord. For He cometh, for He cometh to judge the world" (ver. 13). He came at first, and will come again. He first came in His Church in clouds. What are the clouds which bore Him? The Apostles who preached, respecting whom ye have heard, when the Epistle was being read: "We are ambassadors," he saith, "for Christ: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."(3) These are the clouds in whom He cometh, excepting His last Advent, when He will come to judge the quick and the dead. He came first in the clouds. This was His first voice which sounded forth in the Gospel: "From this time shall they see the Son of Man coming in the clouds."(4) What is, "from this time"? Will not the Lord come in later times, when all the tribes of the earth shall mourn? He first came in His own preachers, and filled the whole round world. Let us not resist His first coming, that we may not tremble at His second. "But woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days!"(5) Ye have heard but now in the Gospel: "Take ye heed, for ye know not at what hour He cometh."(6) This is said figuratively. Who are those with child, and who give suck? Those who are with child, are the souls whose hope is in the world: but those who have gained what they hoped for, are meant by "they who give suck." For example: one wisheth to buy a country seat; he is with child, for his object is not gained as yet, the womb swelleth in hope: he buyeth it; he hath brought forth, he now giveth suck to what he hath bought. "Woe to them that are with child, and that give suck in those days!" Woe to those who put their hope in the world; woe to them that cling to those things which they brought forth through hope in the world. What then should the Christian do? He should use, not serve, the world.(7) What is this? Those that have as those that have not.... He who is without carefulness, waiteth without fear for his Lord's coming. For what sort of love is it of Christ, to fear lest He come? Brethren, are we not ashamed? We love Him, and yet we fear lest He come. Are we sure that we love Him? or do we love our sins more? Therefore let us hate our sins for their own sake, and love Him who will come to punish our sins. He will come, whether we like or not: for because He cometh not just now, it is no reason that He will not come at all. He will come, and when thou knowest not; and if He shall find thee ready, thy ignorance is no hurt to thee. "Then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord; for He cometh:" at His first coming. And what afterwards? "For He cometh to judge the earth. And all the trees of the woods shall rejoice." He came first: and later to judge the earth: He shall find those rejoicing who believed in His first coming, "for He cometh."
15. "For with righteousness shall He judge the world:" not a part of it, for He bought not a part: He will judge the whole, for it was the whole of which He paid the price. Ye have heard the Gospel, where it saith, that when He cometh, "He shall gather together His elect from the four winds."(8) He gathereth all His elect from the four winds: therefore from the whole world. For Adam(9) himself (this I had said before) signifieth in Greek the whole world; for there are four letters, A, D, A, and M. But as the Greeks speak, the four quarters of the world have these initial letters, Anatolh, they call the East; Dusis, the West; Arktos, the North; Meshmbria, the South: thou hast the word Adam. Adam therefore hath been scattered over the whole world. He was in one place, and fell, and as in a manner broken small,(10) he filled the whole world: but the mercy of God gathered together the fragments from every side, and forged(1) them by the fire of love, and made one what was broken. That Artist knew how to do this; let no one despair: it is indeed a great thing, but reflect who that Artist was. He who made, restored: He who formed, reformed. What are righteousness and truth? He will gather together His elect with Him to the judgment, but the rest He will separate one from another; for He will place some on the right, others on the left hand. But what is more just, what more true, than that they shall not expect mercy from their Judge, who have refused to act mercifully, before their Judge come? But those who chose to act with mercy, with mercy shall be judged. ...
1. ... This Psalm is entitled, "A Psalm of David's, when his land was restored." Let us refer the whole to Christ, if we wish to keep the road of a right understanding: let us not depart from the corner stone,(3) lest our understanding suffer a fall: in Him let that become fixed, which wavered with unstable motion; let that rest upon Him, which before was waving to and fro in uncertainty. Whatever doubt a man hath in his mind when he heareth the Scriptures of God, let him not depart from Christ; when Christ hath been revealed to him in the words, let him then be assured that he hath understood; but before he arriveth at the understanding of Christ, let him not presume that he hath understood. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth."(4) What doth this mean, and how are these words understood in Christ, "When his land was restored"? ...
2. The earth restored is the resurrection of the flesh; for after His resurrection, all those things which are sung of in the Psalm were done. Let us then hear a Psalm full of joy on the restoration of the Earth. Let the Lord our God excite in us a hope and a pleasure worthy of so great a thing; may He rule our discourse, that it be fit for your hearts, that whatever joy our heart doth feel in such sights, He may bring on to our tongue, and thence conduct it into your ears, then to your heart, thence to your actions.
3.... "The Lord is King, let the earth be glad: yea, let the multitude of the isles be joyous" (ver. 1). It is so indeed, because the word of God hath been preached not in the continent alone, but also in those isles which lie in mid sea: even these are full of Christians, full of the servants of God. For the sea doth not retard Him who made it. Where ships can approach, cannot the words of God? The isles are filled. But figuratively the isles may be taken for all the Churches. Why isles? Because the waves of all temptations roar around them. But as an isle may be beaten by the waves which on every side dash around it, yet cannot be broken, and rather itself doth break the advancing waves, than by them is broken: so also the Churches of God, springing up throughout the world, have suffered the persecutions of the ungodly, who roar around them on every side; and behold the isles stand fixed, and at last the sea is calmed.
4. "Clouds and darkness are round about Him: righteousness and judgment are the direction of His seat" (ver. 2). ... The Lord Himself saith: "For judgment I am come into this world; that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind."(5) They who seem unto themselves to see, who think themselves wise, who think healing not needful for them, that they may be made blind, may not understand. And that "they which see not may see;" that they who confess their blindness may obtain to be enlightened. Let there be therefore "clouds and darkness round about Him," for those who have not understood Him: for those who confess and humble themselves, "righteousness and judgment are the direction of His seat." He called those who believe in Him His seat: for from them hath He made Himself a seat, since in them Wisdom sitteth; for the Son of God is the Wisdom of God. But we have heard from another passage of Scripture a strong confirmation of this interpretation. "The soul of the righteous is the seat of Wisdom."(6) Because then they who have believed in Him have been made righteous: justitled by faith, they have become His own seat: He sitteth in them, judging from them, and guiding them. ...
5. "There shall go a fire before Him, and burn up His enemies on every side" (ver. 3). We remember having read in the Gospel, He shall say, "Depart into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels."(7) I do not think it is said of that fire. Why do I not? Because he speaketh of some fire, which shall go before Him, before He cometh to judgment. For it is said, that the fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies on every side, that is, throughout the whole world. That fire will burn after His advent: this, on the contrary, will go before Him. What fire then is this?... Behold, we have understood the fire that goeth before Him, that is to be understood of a kind of temporal punishment of the unbelieving and ungodly: let us understand the fire, if possible, of the salvation of the redeemed also; for thus we had proposed. The Lord Himself saith: "I am come to send fire on the earth:(1) "fire" in the same way as a "sword;" as in another passage He saith, that He was not come to send peace, but a sword, upon earth.(2) The sword to divide, the fire to burn: but each salutary: for the sword of His own word hath in salutary wise separated us from evil habits. For He brought a sword, and separated every believer either from his father who believed not in Christ, or from his mother in like manner unbelieving: or at least, if we were born of Christian parents, from his ancestors. For no man among us had not either a grandsire, or great grandsire, or some ancestry among the heathen, and in that unbelief which is accursed before God. We are separated from that which we were before; but the sword which separateth, but slayeth not, hath cut between us. In the same way the fire also: "I am come to send fire upon the earth." Believers in Him were set on fire, they received the flame of love: and for this reason when the Holy Spirit itself had been sent to the Apostles, It thus appeared: "cloven tongues, like as of fire."(3) Burning with this fire they set out on their march through the world, to burn and set on fire His enemies on every side. What enemies of His? They who forsaking the God who made them, adored the idols they had made. ...
6. "His lightnings gave shine unto the world" (ver. 4). This is great joy. Do we not see? is it not clear? His lightnings have shined unto the whole world: His enemies have been set on fire, and burnt. All that gainsaid hath been burnt, and "His lightnings have given shine unto the world." How have they shone? That the world might at length believe. Whence were the lightnings? From the clouds. What are the clouds of God? The preachers of the truth. But thou seest a cloud, misty and dark in the sky, and it hath I know not what hidden within it. If there be' lightning from the cloud, a brightness shineth forth: from that which thou didst despise, hath burst forth that which thou mayest dread. Our Lord Jesus Christ therefore sent His Apostles, as His preachers, like clouds: they were seen as men, and were despised; as clouds appear, and are despised, until what thou wonderest at gleameth from them. For they were in the first place men encumbered with flesh, weak; then, men of low station, unlearned, ignoble: but there was within what could lighten forth; there was in them what could flash abroad. Peter a fisherman approached, prayed, and the dead arose.(4) His human form was a cloud, the splendour of the miracle was the lightning. So in their words, so in their deeds, when they do things to be wondered at, and utter words to be wondered at, "His lightnings gave shine unto the world; the earth saw it, and was afraid." Is it not true? Doth not the whole Christian world at length exclaim, Amen, afraid at the lightnings which burst forth from those clouds?
7. "The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord" (ver. 5). Who are the hills? The proud. Every high thing raising itself against God, at the deeds of Christ and of the Christians, trembled, yielded, and when I say, what hath been already said, "melted," a better word cannot be found. "The hills melted like wax at the presence of the Lord." Where is the elevation of powers? where the hardness of the unbelieving? The Lord was a fire unto them, they melted at His presence like wax; so long hard, until that fire was applied. Every height hath been levelled; it dareth not now blaspheme Christ: and though the Pagan believeth not in Him, he blasphemeth Him not; though not as yet become a living stone, yet the hard hill hath been subdued. "At the presence of the Lord of the whole earth:" not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also, as the Apostle saith; for He is not the God of the Jews alone, but of the Gentiles also.(5) He is therefore the Lord of the whole earth, the Lord Jesus Christ born in Judaea, but not born for Judaea alone, because before He was born He created all men; and He who created, also new created, all men.
8. "The heavens have declared His righteousness: and all the people have seen His glory" (ver. 6). What heavens have declared? "The heavens declare the glory of God."(6) Who are the heavens? Those who have become His seat; for as God sitteth in the heavens, so doth He sit in the Apostles, so doth He sit in the preachers of the Gospel. Even thou, if thou wilt, shalt be a heaven. Dost thou wish to be so? Purge from thy heart the earth. If thou hast not earthly lusts, and hast not in vain uttered the response, that thou hast "lifted up thy heart," thou shalt be a heaven.(7) "If ye be risen with Christ," saith the Apostle to believers, "set your affection on things above, not on things of the earth."(8) Thou hast begun to set thine affection upon things above, not on things upon earth; hast thou not become a heaven? Thou carriest flesh, and in thy heart thou art already a heaven; for thy conversation will be in heaven.(9) Being such, thou also declarest I Christ; for who of the faithful declareth not Christ? ... Therefore the whole Church preacheth Christ, and the heavens declare His righteousness; for all the faithful, whose care it is to gain unto God those who have not yet believed, and who do this from love, are heavens. From them God thundereth forth the terror of His judgment; and he who was unbelieving trembleth, and is alarmed, and believeth. He shows unto men what power Christ had throughout the world, by pleading with them, and leading them to love Christ. For how many this day have led their friends either to some pantomimist, or flute-player? Why, except from their liking him? And do ye love Christ. For He who conquered the world hath exhibited such spectacles, as that no man can say that he findeth in them cause for blame. For each person's favourite in the theatre is often vanquished there. But no man is vanquished in Christ: there is no reason for shame. Seize, lead, draw, whom ye may: be without fear, ye are leading unto Him, who displeaseth not those who see Him; and ask ye Him to enlighten them, that they may behold to good account.
9. "Confounded be all they that worship carved images" (ver. 7). Hath not this come to pass? Have they not been confounded? Are they not daily confounded? For carved images are images wrought by the hand. Why are all who worship carved images confounded? Because all people have seen His glory. All nations now confess the glory of Christ: let those who worship stones be ashamed. Because those stones were dead, we have found a living Stone; indeed those stones never lived, so that they cannot be called even dead; but our Stone is living, and hath ever lived with the Father, and though He died for us, He revived, and liveth now, and death shall no more have dominion over Him.(1) This glory of His the nations have acknowledged; they leave the temples, they run to the Churches. Do they still seek to worship carved images? Have they not chosen to forsake their idols? They have been forsaken by their idols. "Who glory in their idols." But there is a certain disputer who seemeth unto himself learned, and saith, I do not worship that stone, nor that image which is without sense; ... I worship not this image but I adore(2) what I see, and serve him whom see not. Who is that? Some invisible deity, he replieth, who presideth over that image. By giving this account of their images, they seem to themselves able disputants, because they do not worship idols, and yet do worship devils. "The things," brethren, saith the Apostle, "which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice unto devils, and not to God; we know that an idol is nothing: and that what the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God; and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils."(3) Let them not therefore excuse themselves on this ground, that they are not devoted to insensate idols; they are rather devoted to devils, which is more dangerous. For if they were only worshipping idols, as they would not help them, so they would not hurt them; but if thou worship and serve devils, they themselves will be thy masters. ...
10. But observe holy men, who are like the Angels. When thou hast found some holy man who serveth God, if thou wish to worship him instead of God, he forbiddeth thee: he will not arrogate to himself the honour due to God, he will not be unto thee as God, but be with thee under God. Thus did the holy Apostles Paul and Barnabas. They preached the word of God in Lycaonia. When they had performed wonderful works in Lycaonia, the people of that country brought victims, and wished to sacrifice to them, calling Barnabas Jupiter, and Paul Mercury: they were not pleased. Did they perchance refuse to be sacrificed to, because they abhorred to be compared to devils? No, but because they shuddered at divine honour being paid to men. Their own words show this: it is no guess of ours; for the text of the book goeth on to say how they were moved.(4) ... Just then, as good men forbade those who had wished to worship them as gods, and wish rather that God alone be worshipped, God alone be adored, to God alone sacrifice be offered, not to themselves; so also all the holy Angels seek His glory whom they love; endeavour to impel and to excite to the contemplation of Him all whom they love: Him they declare to them, not themselves, since they are angels; and because they are soldiers, they study only how to seek the glory of their Captain; but if they have sought their own glory, they are condemned as usurpers.(5) Such were the devil and his angels; he claimed for himself divine honour, and for all his demons; he filled the Pagan temples, and persuaded them to offer images and sacrifices to himself. Was it not better to worship holy Angels than devils? They answer: we do not worship devils; we worship angels, as ye call them, the powers and the ministers of the great God. I wish ye would worship them: ye would easily learn from themselves not to worship them.(6) Hear an Angel teaching. He was teaching a disciple of Christ, and showing him many wonders in the Revelation of John: and when some wonderful vision had been shown him, he trembled, and fell down at the Angel's feet; but that Angel, who sought not but the glory of God, said, "See thou do it not; for I am a fellow-servant of thee, and of thy brethren the prophets."(7) What then, my brethren? Let no man say, I fear lest the Angel may be angry with me, if I worship him not as my God. He is then angry with thee, when thou hast chosen to worship him: for he is righteous, and loveth God. As devils are angry if they are not worshipped, so are Angels angry if they are worshipped instead of God. But lest the weak and trembling heart perchance say unto itself: If then the demons are incensed because they are not worshipped, I fear to offend them; what can even their chief the devil do unto thee? If he had any power over us no one of us would remain. Are not daily so many things said against him by the mouth of Christians, and yet the harvest of Christians increaseth. When thou art angry with the most depraved of thy slaves, thou givest him the name, "Satan," Devil. Perhaps in this thou dost err, since thou sayest it to a man, and thy immoderate anger hurrieth thee to revile the image of God: and yet thou choosest a term thou deeply hatest, to apply to him. If he could, would he not revenge himself? But it is not allowed: and he doth so much only as is allowed him. For when he wished to tempt Job, he had to ask power to do so:(1) and he could do nothing had he not received power. Why then dost thou not fearlessly worship God, without whose will no one hurteth thee, and by whose permission thou art: chastened, not overcome? For if it shall have pleased the Lord thy God to permit some man to hurt thee, or some spirit: He will chasten thee, that thou mayest cry unto Him:(2) "Confounded," therefore, "be all they that delight in vain gods: worship Him, all ye His angels." Let Pagans learn to worship God: they wish to worship Angels: let them imitate Angels, and worship Him who is worshipped by Angels. "Worship Him, all ye His angels." Let that Angel worship who was sent to Cornelius (for worshipping Him he sent Cornelius to Peter), himself Peter's fellow-servant; let him worship Christ, Peter's Lord. "Worship Him, all ye gods!"
11. "Sion heard of it, and rejoiced" (ver. 8). What did Sion hear? That all His Angels worship Him. ... For the Church was not as yet among the Gentiles; in Judaea the Jews had some of them believed, and the very Jews who believed thought that they only belonged to Christ: the Apostles were sent to the Gentiles, Cornelius was preached to; Cornelius believed, was baptized, and they who were with Cornelius were also baptized.(3) But ye know what happened, that they might be baptized: the reader indeed hath not reached this point, but, nevertheless, some recollect; and let those who do not recollect, hear briefly from me. The Angel was sent to Cornelius: the Angel sent Cornelius to Peter; Peter came to Cornelius. And because Cornelius and his household were Gentiles, and uncircumcised: lest they might hesitate to give the Gospel to the uncircumcised: before Cornelius and his household were baptized, the Holy Spirit came, and filled them, and they began to speak with tongues. Now the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any one who had not been baptized: but upon these It fell before baptism. For Peter might hesitate whether he might baptize the uncircumcised: the Holy Spirit came, they began to speak with tongues; the invisible gift was given, and took away all doubt about the visible Sacrament; they were all baptized. ... What did Sion hear, and rejoice at? That the Gentiles also had received the word of God. One wall had come, but the corner existed not as yet. The name Sion is here peculiarly given to the Church which was in Judaea. "Sion heard of it, and rejoiced: and the daughters of Judah were glad." Thus it is written, "The apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard." See if the daughters of Judaea rejoiced not. What did they hear? "That the Gentiles had also received the word of God." ... Therefore, "The daughters of Judah rejoiced because of Thy judgments, O Lord." What is, because of Thy judgments? Because in any nation, and in any people, he that serveth Him is accepted of Him:(4) for He is not the God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles.(5)
12. See if this be not the reason for the joy of the daughters of Judah. "For Thou, Lord, art most high over all the earth" (ver. 9). Not in Judaea alone, but over Jerusalem; not over Sion only, but over all the earth. To this whole earth the judgments of God prevailed, so that it assembled its nations from every quarter: judgments with which they who have cut themselves off have no communion: they neither hear the prophecy, nor see its completion; "For Thou, Lord, art most high over all the earth: Thou art exalted far above all gods." What is "far"?(6) For it is said of Christ. What then meaneth "far," except that Thou mayest be acknowledged coequal with the Father? What meaneth, "above all gods"? Who are they? Idols have not life, have not sense: devils have life and sense; but they are evil. What great thing is it that Christ is exalted above devils? He is exalted above devils: but neither is this very great; the heathen gods indeed are devils,(7) but "He is far above all gods." Even men are styled gods: "I have said, Ye are gods: and ye are all the children of the Most Highest:" again it is written, "God standeth in the congregation of princes: He is a Judge among gods."(8) Jesus Christ our Lord is exalted above all: not only above idols, not only above devils; but above all righteous men. Even this is not enough; above all Angels also: for whence otherwise is this, "Worship Him, all ye gods"? "Thou art far exalted above all gods."
13. What then do we all, who have assembled before Him, before Him who is exalted far above all gods? He hath given us a brief commandment, "O ye that love the Lord, see that ye hate the thing which is evil!" (ver. 10). Christ doth not deserve that with Him thou shouldest love avarice. Thou lovest Him: thou shouldest hate what He hateth. There is a man who is thine enemy, he is what thou art; ye are the work of one Creator, with the same nature: and yet if thy son were to speak unto thine enemy, and come to his house, and constantly converse with him, thou wouldest be inclined to disinherit him; because he speaketh with thine enemy. And how so? Because thou seemest to say Justly, Thou art my enemy's friend, and seekest thou aught of my property? Attend then. Thou lovest Christ: avarice is Christ's foe; why speak with her? I say not, speak with her; why dost thou serve her? For Christ commandeth thee to do many things, and thou dost them not; she commandeth thee, and thou dost them. Christ commandeth thee to clothe the poor man: and thou dost it not; avarice biddeth thee defraud, and this thou dost in preference. If such be the case, if such thou art, do not very confidently promise thyself Christ's heritage. But thou sayest, I love Christ. Hence it appeareth that thou lovest what is good, if thou shalt be found to hate what is evil. ...
14. Because then he had said above, "see that ye hate the thing which is evil," lest ye should fear to hate evil, lest he should kill thee, he addeth instantly, "The Lord preserveth the souls of His servants." Hear Him preserving the souls of His servants, and saying, "Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul."(1) He who hath most power against thee, slayeth the body. What hath he done unto thee? What he also did to the Lord thy God. Why lovest thou to have what Christ hath, if thou fearest to suffer what Christ did? He came to bear thy life, temporal, weak, subject unto death. Surely fear to die, if thou canst avoid dying. What thou canst not avoid through thy nature, why dost thou not undergo by faith? Let the adversary who threateneth take away from thee that life, God giveth thee another life: for He gave thee this life also, and without His will even this shall not be taken from thee; but if it be His will that it be taken from thee, He hath a life to give thee in exchange; fear not to be robbed for His sake. Art thou unwilling to put off a patched garment? He will give thee a robe of glory. What robe dost thou tell me of? "This corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."(2) This very flesh of thine shall not perish. Thine enemy can rage as far as to thy death: he hath not power beyond, either over thy soul, or even over thy flesh; for although he scatter thy flesh about, he hindereth not the resurrection. Men were fearful for their life: and what said the Lord unto them? "The very hairs of your head are all numbered."(3) Dost thou, who losest not a single hair, fear the loss of thy life? All things are numbered with God. He who created all things, will restore all things. They were not, and they were created: they were, and shall they not be restored? ... "He shall deliver them from the hand of the ungodly."
15. But perhaps thou wilt say, I lose this light. "There is sprung up a light for the righteous" (ver. 11). What light fearest thou thou mayest lose? fearest thou thou mayest be in darkness? Fear not thou mayest lose light; nay, fear lest while thou art guarding against the loss of this light, thou mayest lose that true light. For we see to whom that light is given which thou fearest losing, and with whom it is shared. Do the righteous only see this sun, when He maketh it rise over the just and unjust, and raineth upon the just and unjust?(4) Wicked men, robbers, the unchaste, beasts, flies, worms, see that light together with thee. What sort of light doth He keep for the righteous, who giveth this even to such as these? Deservedly the Martyrs beheld this light in faith; for they who despised this light of the sun, had some light in their eyes, which they longed for, who rejected this. Do you imagine that they were really in misery, when they walked in chains? Spacious was the prison to the faithful, light were the chains to the confessors. They who preached Christ amid their torments, had joy in the iron-chair. What light hath sprung up for the righteous? Not that which springeth up for the unrighteous; not that which He causeth to rise over the good and bad. There is a different light which springeth up to the righteous; of which light, that never rose upon themselves, the unrighteous shall in the end say, "Therefore have we erred from the way of truth, and the light of righteousness hath not shined upon us, and the sun of righteousness rose not upon us."(5) Behold, by loving this sun they have lain in the darkness of the heart. What did it profit them to have seen with their eyes this sun, and not in mind to have seen that light? Tobit was blind, but he used to teach his son the way of God. Ye know this, that Tobit warned his son, and said to him, "Son, give alms of thy substance; because that alms suffer not to come into darkness."(1) Even he who was in darkness spoke thus. ... Dost thou wish to know that light? Be true-hearted. What is, be true-hearted? Be not of a crooked heart before God, withstanding His will, and wishing to bend Him unto thee, and not to rule thyself to please Him; and thou wilt feel the joyful gladness which all the true-hearted know.
16. "Be glad, ye righteous" (ver. 12). Perhaps already the faithful hearing the word, "Be glad," are thinking of banquets, preparing cups, waiting for the season of roses; because it is said, "Be glad, ye righteous!" See what followeth, "Be glad in the Lord." Thou art waiting for the season of spring, that thou mayest be glad: thou hast the Lord for joyful gladness, the Lord is always with thee, He hath no special season; thou hast Him by night, thou hast Him by day. Be true-hearted; and thou hast ever joy from Him. For that joy which is after the fashion of the world, is not true joy. Hear the prophet Isaiah: "There is no joy, saith my God, to the wicked."(2) What the wicked call joy is not joy, such as he knew who made no account of their joy: let us believe him, brethren. He was a man, but he knew both kinds of joy. He certainly knew the joys of the cup, for he was a man, he knew the joy of the table, he knew the joys of marriage, he knew those joys worldly and luxurious. He who knew them saith with confidence, "There is no joy to the wicked, saith the Lord." But it is not man who speaks, it is the Lord. ... But thou sayest, I see not that light which Isaiah saw. Believe, and thou shalt see it. For perhaps thou hast not the eye to see it; for it is an eye by which that beauty is discerned. For as there is an eye of the flesh, by means of which this light is seen: so there is an eye of the heart, by which that joy is perceived: perhaps that eye is wounded, dimmed, disturbed by passion, by avarice, by indulgence, by senseless lust; thine eye is disturbed: thou canst not see that light. Believe, before thou seest: thou shalt be healed, and shalt see.
17. "And confess to the remembrance of His holiness." Now made glad, now rejoicing in the Lord, confess unto Him; for unless it were His will, ye would not rejoice in Him. For the Lord Himself saith: "These things I have spoken to you: that in Me ye might have peace. But in the world ye shall have tribulation."(3) If ye are Christians, look for tribulations in this world; look not for more peaceful and better times. Brethren, ye deceive yourselves; what the Gospel doth not promise you, promise not to yourselves. Ye know what the Gospel saith; we are speaking to Christians; we ought not to disobey the faith. The Gospel saith this, that in the last times many evils, many stumbling-blocks, many tribulations, much iniquity, shall abound; but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.(4) "The love," it saith, "of many shall wax cold." Whosoever then hath been stedfastly fervent in spirit, as the Apostle saith," fervent in spirit,"(5) his love shall not wax cold: because "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us."(6) Let no man therefore promise himself what the Gospel doth not promise. Behold, happier times will come, and I am doing this, and purchasing this. It is good for thee to listen to Him who is not deceived, nor hath deceived any man, who promised thee joy not here, but in Himself; and when all here hath passed away, to hope that with Him thou wilt for ever reign; lest when thou dost wish to reign here, thou mayest neither enjoy gladness here, nor find it there.
1. "O sing unto the Lord a new song" (ver. 1). The new man knoweth this, the old man knoweth it not. The old man is the old life, and the new man the new life: the old life is derived from Adam, the new life is formed in Christ. But in this Psalm, the whole world is enjoined to sing a new song. More openly elsewhere the words are these: "O sing unto the Lord a new song; sing unto the Lord, all the whole earth;"(8) that they who cut themselves off from the communion of the whole earth,(9) may understand that they cannot sing the new song, because it is sung in the whole, and not in a part of it. Attend here also, and see that this is said. And when the whole earth is enjoined to sing a new song, it is meant, that peace singeth a new song. "For He hath done marvelous things." What marvellous things? Behold, the Gospel was just now being read, and we heard the marvellous things of the Lord. The only son of his mother, who was a widow, was being carried out dead: the Lord, in compassion, made them stand still; they laid him down, and the Lord said, "Young man, I say unto thee, Arise."(10)... "The Lord hath done marvellous things." What marvellous things? Hear: "His own right hand, and His holy arm, hath healed for Him." What is the Lord's holy Arm? Our Lord Jesus Christ. Hear Isaiah: "Who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?"(11) His holy arm then, and His own right hand, is Himself. Our Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the arm of God, and the right hand of God for this reason is it said, "hath He healed for Him." It is not said only, "His right hand hath healed the world," but "hath healed for Him." For many are healed for themselves, not for Him. Behold how many long for that bodily health, and receive it from Him: they are healed by Him, but not for Him. How are they healed by Him, and not for Him? When they have received health, they become wanton: they who when sick were chaste, when cured become adulterers: they who when in illness injured no man, on the recovery of their strength attack and crush the innocent: they are healed, but not unto Him. Who is he who is healed unto Him? He who is healed inwardly. Who is he that is healed inwardly? He who trusteth in Him, that when he shall have been healed inwardly, reformed into a new man, afterwards this mortal flesh too, which doth languish for a time, may in the end itself even recover its most perfect health. Let us therefore be healed for Him. But that we may be healed for Him, let us believe in His right hand.
2. "The Lord hath made known His salvation" (ver. 2). This very right hand, this very arm, this very salvation, is our Lord Jesus Christ of whom it is said, "And all flesh shall see the salvation of God;"(1) of whom also that Simeon who embraced the Infant in his arms, spoke, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace; for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation."(2) "The Lord hath made known His salvation." To whom did He make it known? To a part, or to the whole? Not to any part specially. Let no man betray, no man deceive, no man: say, "Lo, here is Christ, or there:"(3) the man who saith, Lo, He is here, or there, pointeth to some particular spots. To whom "hath the Lord declared His salvation"? Hear what followeth: "His righteousness hath He openly showed in the sight of the heathen." Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ is the right hand of God, the arm of God, the salvation of God, and the righteousness of God.
3. "He hath remembered His mercy to Jacob, and His truth unto the house of lsrael" (ver. 3). What meaneth this, "He hath remembered His mercy and truth"? He hath pitied, so that He promised; because He promised and showed His mercy, truth hath followed: mercy hath gone before promise, promise hath been fulfilled in truth. ...
"And His truth unto the house of lsrael." Who is this lsrael? That ye may not perchance think of one nation of the Jews, hear what followeth: "All the ends of the world have seen the salvation of our God." It is not said, all the earth: but, "all the ends of the world:" as it is said, from one end to the other. Let no man cut this down, let no man scatter it abroad; strong is the unity of Christ. He who gave so great a price, hath bought the whole: "All the ends of the world."
4. Because they have seen, then, "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands" (ver. 4). Ye already know what it is to make a joyful noise. Rejoice, and speak. If ye cannot express your joy, shout ye; let the shout manifest your joy, if your speech cannot: yet let not joy be mute; let not your heart be silent respecting its God, let it not be mute concerning His gifts. If thou speakest to thyself, unto thyself art thou healed; if His right hand hath healed thee for Him, speak thou unto Him for whom thou hast been healed. "Sing, rejoice, and make melody."
5. "Make melody unto the Lord upon the harp: on the harp and with the voice of a Psalm" (ver. 5 ). Praise Him not with the voice only; take up works, that ye may not only sing, but work also. He who singeth and worketh, maketh melody with psaltery and upon the harp. Now see what sort of instruments are next spoken of, in figure: "With ductile trumpets also, and the sound of the pipe of horn" (ver. 6). What are ductile trumpets, and pipes of horn? Ductile trumpets are of brass: they are drawn out by hammering; if by hammering, by being beaten, ye shall be ductile trumpets, drawn out unto the praise of God, if ye improve when in tribulation: tribulation is hammering, improvement is the being drawn out. Job was a ductile trumpet, when suddenly assailed by the heaviest losses, and the death of his sons, become like a ductile trumpet by the beating of so heavy tribulation, he sounded thus: "The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."(4) How did he sound? How pleasantly doth his voice sound? This ductile trumpet is still under the hammer. ... We have heard how he was hammered; let us hear how he soundeth: let us, if it please you, hear the sweet sound of this ductile trumpet: "What! shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?" O courageous, O sweet sound! whom will not that sound awake from sleep? whom will not confidence in God awake, to march to battle fearlessly against the devil; not to struggle with his own strength, but His who proveth him. For He it is who hammereth: for the hammer could not do so of itself. ... See how (I dare so speak, my brethren) even the Apostle was beaten with this very hammer: he saith, "there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, to buffet me."(1) Behold he is under the hammer: let us hear how he speaketh of it: "For this thing," be saith, "I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness." I, saith His Maker, wish to make this trumpet perfect; I cannot do so unless I hammer it; in weakness is strength made perfect. Hear now the ductile trumpet itself sounding as it should: "When I am weak, then am I strong." ...
6. The voice of the pipe of horn, what is it? The horn riseth above the flesh: in rising above the flesh it needs must be solid so as to last, and able to speak. And whence this? Because it hath surpassed the flesh. He who wisheth to be a horn trumpet, let him overcome the flesh. What meaneth this, let him overcome the flesh? Let him surpass the desires, let him conquer the lusts of the flesh Hear the horn trumpets. ... What meaneth this, "Set your affection on things above"? It meaneth, Rise above the flesh, think not of carnal things. They were not yet horn trumpets, to whom he now spoke thus: "I could not speak unto you, brethren, as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it: neither yet now are ye able. For ye are yet carnal."(2) They were not therefore horn trumpets, because they had not risen above the flesh. Horn both adhereth to the flesh, and riseth above the flesh; and although it springeth from the flesh, yet it surpasseth it. If therefore thou art spiritual, when before thou wast carnal; as yet thou art treading the earth in the flesh, but in spirit thou art rising into heaven; for though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh. ... Brethren, do not reproach brethren whom the mercy of God hath not yet converted; know that as long as ye do this, ye savour of the flesh. That is not a trumpet which pleaseth the ears of God: the trumpet of boastfulness maketh the war fruitless. Let the horn trumpet raise thy courage against the devil; let not the fleshly trumpet raise thy pride against thy brother. "Make a joyful noise in the sight of the Lord the King."
7. While ye are rejoicing, and delighted with the ductile trumpets, and the voice of the horn, what followeth? "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof" (ver. 7). Brethren, when the Apostles, like ductile trumpets and horns, were preaching the truth, the sea was stirred up, its waves arose, tempests increased, persecutions of the Church took place. Whence hath the sea been stirred up? When a joyful noise was made, when Psalms of thanksgiving were being sung before God: the ears of God were pleased, the waves of the sea were raised. "Let the sea be stirred up, and the fulness thereof: the round world, and all that dwell therein." Let the sea be stirred up in its persecutions. "Let the floods clap their hands together" (ver. 8). Let the sea be aroused, and the floods clap their hands together; persecutions arise, and the saints rejoice in God. Whence shall the floods clap their hands? What is to clap their hands? To rejoice in works. To clap hands, is to rejoice; hands, mean works. What floods? Those whom God hath made floods, by giving them that Water, the Holy Spirit. "If any man thirst," saith He, "let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, out of his bosom shall flow rivers of living water."(3) These rivers clapped their hands, these rivers rejoiced in works, and blessed God. "The bills shall be joyful together."
8. "Before the Lord, for He is come; for He is come to judge the earth" (ver. 9). "The hills" signify the great. The Lord cometh to judge the earth, and they rejoice. But there are hills, who, when the Lord is coming to judge the earth, shall tremble. There are therefore good and evil hills; the good hills, are spiritual greatness; the bad hills, are the swelling of pride. "Let the hills be joyful together before the Lord, for He is come; for He is come to judge the earth." Wherefore shall He come, and how shall He come? "With righteousness shall He judge the world, and the people with equity" (ver. 10). Let the hills therefore rejoice; for He shall not judge unrighteously. When some man is coming as a judge, to whom the conscience cannot lie open, even innocent men may tremble, if from him they expect a reward for virtue, or fear the penalty of condemnation; when He shall come who cannot be deceived, let the hills rejoice, let them rejoice fearlessly; they shall be enlightened by Him, not condemned; let them rejoice, because the Lord will come to judge the world with equity; and if the righteous hills rejoice, let the unrighteous tremble. But behold, He hath not yet come: what need is there they should tremble? Let them mend their ways, and rejoice. It is in thy power in what way thou wiliest to await the coming of Christ. For this reason He delayeth to come, that when He cometh He may not condemn thee. Lo, He bath not yet come: He is in heaven, thou on earth: He delayeth His coming, do not thou delay wisdom. His coming is hard to the hard of heart, soft to the pious. See therefore even now what thou art: if hard of heart, thou canst soften; if thou art soft, even now rejoice that He will come. For thou art a Christian. Yea, thou sayest. I believe that thou prayest, and sayest, "Thy kingdom come."(1) Thou desirest Him to come, whose coming thou fearest. Reform thyself, that thou mayest not pray against thyself.
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