HOME CHAT NAB PRAYERS FORUMS COMMUNITY RCIA MAGAZINE CATECHISM LINKS CONTACT
 CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC SAINTS INDEX  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
 CATHOLIC DICTIONARY  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Home
 
Bible
 
Catechism
 
Chat
 
Catholic Encyclopedia
 
Church Fathers
 
Classics Library
 
Church Documents
 
Discussion
 
Mysticism
 
Prayer
 
Prayer Requests
 
RCIA
 
Vocations
 
Ray of Hope
 
Saints
 
Social Doctrine
 
Links
 
Contact
 







Morals On The Book Of Job: Volumes 1 To 3 -Saint Gregory The Great

The whole of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Job, and the five first verses of the twelfth, being made out, he closes the Second Part of this work.

1. As often as a mighty wrestler is gone down into the arena of the lists, those who prove no match for him in strength by turns present themselves for the working of his overthrow, and as fast as one is overcome another is directly raised up against him, and, he being subdued, another takes his place, that they may sooner or later find his strength in wrestling more yielding, in that his repeated victory by itself wears it out, so that as each fresh opponent comes to the encounter, he who cannot be overcome by the nature of their powers, may at least be got the better of by the changing of the persons. Thus, then, in this theatre of men and Angels, blessed Job approved himself a mighty wrestler, and how he prevailed against the charges of his adversaries, he shews by his continuance in unabated force; to whom first Eliphaz presents himself, and next Bildad, and finally Zophar puts himself forward in their place in the overthrow of him, and these lift up themselves with all their might to deal him blows, yet never reach so far as to strike the height of that well-fenced breast. For their very words plainly imply that they deal their blows upon the air, in that as they do not rebuke the holy man aright, the words of smiting being uttered in empty air are lost; and this is clearly shewn, whereas the answer of Zophar the Naamathite begins with insult, in that he says,

Chap. 11:2. Should not he that talketh much hear in his turn? and should a man full of words be justified?

ii. 2. It is the practice of the impertinent ever to answer by the opposite what is said aright, lest, if they assent to the things asserted, they should seem inferior. And to these the words of the righteous, however small in number they have been heard, are ‘much,’ in that as they cut their evil habits to the quick, they fall heavy upon the hearing, whence that is even wrested to a crime, which by a right declaration is pronounced against crimes. For the very person, who had delivered strong sentences on grounds of truth, Zophar rebukes and calls full of words, in that, whereas wisdom reprimands sins by the mouth of the righteous, it sounds like superfluity of talkativeness to the ears of the foolish. For froward men account nothing right, but what they themselves think, and they reckon the words of the righteous idle in the degree that they find them differing from their own notions. Nor yet did Zophar deliver a fallacious sentiment, ‘that a man full of words could never be justified,’ in that so long as any one lets himself out in words, the gravity of silence being gone, he parts with the safe keeping of the soul. For hence it is written, And the work of righteousness, silence. Isa. 32:17. Hence Solomon saith, He that hath no rule over his own spirit in talking, is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. Prov. 25:28. Vulg. Hence he says again, In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin. Prov. 10:19. Hence the Psalmist bears witness, saying, Let not a man full of words be established upon the earth; Ps. 140:11. Vulg. but the worth of a true sentence is lost, when it is not delivered under the keeping of discretion. Thus it is a certain truth, that ‘a man full of words cannot be justified,’ but a good thing is not well said, because there is no heed taken to whom it is spoken. For a true sentence against the wicked, if it is aimed at the virtue of the good, loses its own virtue, and bounds back with blunted point, in proportion as that is strong which it hits. But that the wicked cannot hear good words with patience, and that wherein they neglect the amending of their life, they brace themselves up to words of rejoinder, Zophar plainly instructs us, in that he subjoins;

Ver. 3. Should men hold their peace at thee only? and when thou mockest at others, shall no man confute thee?

iii. 3. The uninstructed mind, as we have said, is sorely galled by the sentences of truth, and reckons silence to be a punishment; it takes all that is said aright to be the disgrace of mocking at itself. For when a true voice addresses itself to the ears of bad men, guilt stings the recollection, and in the rebuking of evil practices, in proportion as the mind is touched with consciousness within, it is stirred up to eagerness in gainsaying without; it cannot bear the voice, in that being touched in the wound of its guilt it is put to pain, and by that which is delivered against the wicked generally, it imagines that it is itself attacked in a special manner; and what it inwardly remembers itself to have done, it blushes to hear the sound of without. Whence it presently prepares itself for a defence, that it may cover the shame of its guilt by words of froward gainsaying. For as the righteous, touching certain things which have been done unrighteously by them, account the voice of rebuke to be the service of charity, so the froward reckon it to be the insult of mockery. The one sort immediately prostrate themselves to shew obedience, the other are lifted up to shew the madness of self-defence. The one sort take the helping hand of correction as the upholding of their life, by means of which whilst the sin of the present life is corrected, the wrath of the Judge that is to come is abated; the other, when they find themselves assailed by rebuke, see therein the sword of smiting, in that whilst sin is unclothed by the voice of chiding, the conceit of present glory is spoilt. Hence ‘Truth’ says by Solomon in commendation of the righteous man, Give instruction to a wise man, and he will hasten to receive it; Prov. 9:9. hence he makes nothing of the obstinacy of the wicked, saying, He that reproveth a scorner getteth to himself wrong. ver. 7. For it generally happens that when they cannot defend the evils that are reproved in them, they are rendered worse from a feeling of shame, and carry themselves so high in their defence of themselves, that they rake out bad points to urge against the life of the reprover, and so they do not account themselves guilty, if they fasten guilty deeds upon the heads of others also. And when they are unable to find true ones, they feign them, that they may also themselves have things they may seem to rebuke with no inferior degree of justice. Hence Zophar, for that it stung him to be as it were mocked at by reproof, forthwith subjoins with lying lips,

Ver. 4. For Thou hast said, My speech is pure, and I am clean in Thine eyes.

iv. 4. Whoso remembers the words of blessed Job, knows how falsely this charge is fastened upon his voice. For how could he call himself pare, who says, If I justify myself, mine own mouth shall condemn me; HIST. Job 9:20. but there is this in the wickedness of the unrighteous, that, while it refuses to bewail real evil things in itself, it invents them in others, for it makes use of it as a solace of evil doing, if the life of the reprover can be also stained with false accusations. But we must know that for the most part the wicked wish what is good so far as the lips, in order that they may shew that that is bad which we have at present, and as if from the good will they bear others, they pray for favourable circumstances, in order that they may appear full of kindly affection. Whence too Zophar forthwith subjoins, saying,

But oh that God would speak with thee, and open His lips unto thee!

v. 5. For man by himself speaks to himself when in all that he thinks he is not withdrawn by the Spirit of the Divine Being from the sense of carnal wisdom; when the flesh puts forth a sense, and inviting the mind as it were to the understanding of it, sends it forth abroad. And hence ‘Truth’ saith to Peter, who was still full of earthly notions, For thou savourest not the things that he of God, but the things that be of men. Mark 8:33. Yet, when he made a good confession, the words are spoken, Flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in Heaven. Mat. 16:17. Now what do we understand by ‘the lips’ of God saving His judgments? For when the lips are closed the voice is kept in, and the meaning of the person keeping silence is not known; but when, the lips being opened, speech is put forth, the mind of the person speaking is found out. So ‘God opens His lips’ when He manifests His will to men by open visitations. For He as it were speaks with open mouth, when the veil of interior Providence being drawn aside, He declines to conceal what is His will. For as it were with closed lips He forbears to indicate His meaning to us, when by the secresy of His judgments He conceals wherefore He does any thing. Zophar therefore, in order that he might reprove blessed Job on the grounds of a carnal understanding, and shew what kindness of disposition he himself was of, wishes good things for him, which even when they are there present he does not know to be so, saying, But oh that God would speak with thee, and open His lips with thee. As if he were to say in plain words, ‘I feel for thy uninstructedness more than for thy chastening, in that I know thee to be endued with the wisdom of the flesh alone, and void of the Spirit of Truth. For didst thou discern the secret judgments of God, thou wouldest not give utterance to such daring sentences against Him.’ And because when Almighty God raises us to take a view of His judgments, He forthwith puts to flight the mists of the ignorance that is in us, what instruction comes to us by His lips being opened, he forthwith shews by adding in the words,

Ver. 6. And that He would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, and that her law is manifold.

vi. 6. The public works of Supreme Wisdom are when Almighty God rules those whom He creates, brings to an end the good things which He begins, and aids by His inspiration those whom He illumines with the light of His visitation. For it is plain to the eyes of all men, that those whom He created of His free bounty, He provides for with lovingkindness. And when He vouchsafes spiritual gifts, He Himself brings to perfection what He has Himself begun in the bounteousness of His lovingkindness. But the secret works of Supreme Wisdom are, when God forsakes those whom He has created; when the good things, which He had begun in us by preventing us, He never brings to completion by going on; when He enlightens us with the brightness of His illuminating grace, and yet by permitting temptation of the flesh, smites us with the mists of blindness; when the good gifts which He bestowed, He cares not to preserve to us; when He at the same time prompts the desires of our soul towards Himself, and yet by a secret judgment presses us with the incompetency of our weak nature.

7. Which same secrets of His Wisdom, but few have strength to investigate, and no man has strength to find out; in that it is most surely just that that which is ordained not unjustly above us, and concerning us, by immortal Wisdom, should be hidden from us while yet in a mortal state. But to contemplate these same secrets of His Wisdom is in some sort already to behold the power of His incomprehensible nature, in that though we fail in the actual investigation of His secret counsels, yet by that very failure we more thoroughly learn Whom we should fear. Paul had strained to reach these secrets of that Wisdom, when he said, O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? Or who hath been His counsellor? Rom. 11:33. He, in a part above, turning faint even with the mere search, and yet through faintness advancing to the knowledge of his own weakness, saith beforehand the words, Nay but O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus? Rom. 9:20. He, then, that being unable to attain to the secrets of God, returned back to the recognition of his own weakness, and by thus falling short, recalled himself to the instructing of himself, in not finding out the secrets of wisdom, so to say, he did find them out. For when his strength failed him for the investigation of the counsels of the Most High, he learned how to entertain fear with greater humility, and the man whom his own weakness kept back from the interior knowledge, humility did more thoroughly unite thereto. Thus Zophar, who is both instructed by the pursuit of knowledge, and uninstructed by the effrontery of highswoln speech, because he has no weight himself, wishes for a better man that thing which he has, saying, But oh that God would speak with thee, and open His lips unto thee; that He might shew thee the secrets of wisdom. And by wishing he also shews off that wisdom wherewith he reckons himself to be equipped above his friend, when he thereupon adds, And that her law is manifold. What should the ‘law’ of God be here taken to mean, saving charity, whereby we ever read in the inward parts after what manner the precepts of life should be maintained in outward action? For concerning this Law it is delivered by the voice of ‘Truth,’ This is My commandment, that ye love one another. John 15:12. Concerning it Paul says, Love is the fulfilling of the law. Rom. 13:10. Concerning it he saith again, Bear ye one another’s burthens, and so fulfil ye the law of Christ. Gal 6:2. For what can the Law of Christ be more fitly understood to mean than charity, which we then truly fulfil when we bear the burthens of our brethren from the principle of love?

8. But this same Law is called ‘manifold;’ in that charity, full of eager solicitude, dilates into all deeds of virtue. It sets out indeed with but two precepts, but it reaches out into a countless number. For the beginning of this Law is, the love of God, and the love of our neighbour. But the love of God is distinguished by a triple division. For we are bidden to love our Maker ‘with all our heart’ and ‘with all our soul’ and ‘with all our might.’ Wherein we are to take note that when the Sacred Word lays down the precept that God should be loved, it not only tells us with what, but also instructs us with how much, in that it subjoins, ‘with all;’ so that indeed he that desires to please God perfectly, must leave to himself nothing of himself. And the love of our neighbour is carried down into two precepts, since on the one hand it is said by a certain righteous man, Do that to no man which thou hatest. Tob. 4:15. And on the other ‘Truth’ saith by Himself, Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them. Matt. 7:12. By which two precepts of both Testaments, by the one an evil disposition is restrained, and by the other a good disposition charged upon us, that every man not doing the ill which he would not wish to suffer, should cease from the working of injuries, and again that rendering the good which he desires to be done to him, he exert himself for the service of his neighbour in kindness of heart. But while these same two are thought on with heedful regard, the heart is made to open itself wide in innumerable offices of virtue, lest whether for the admitting of things which it ought not, the mind being agitated be heated by passions; or for the setting forth of whatsoever it ought, being undone by indolence, it may be rendered inactive. For when it guards against doing to another what it would not on any account itself undergo at the hands of another, it looks about itself on every side with a heedful eye, lest pride lift it up, and while cutting down set up the soul even to contempt of our neighbour; lest coveting mangle the thought of the heart, and while stretching it wide to desire the things of another, straitly confine it; lest lust pollute the heart, and corrupt it, thus become the slave of its passions, in forbidden courses; lest anger increase, and inflame it even to giving vent to insult; lest envy gnaw it, and lest jealous of the successes of others it consume itself with its own torch; lest loquacity drive on the tongue beyond all bounds of moderation, and draw it out even to the extent of license in slander; lest bad feeling stir up hatred, and set on the lips even to let loose the dart of cursing. Again, when it thinks how it may do to another what it looks for at the hands of another for itself, it considers how it may return good things for evil, and better things for good; how to exhibit towards the impertinent the meekness of longsuffering; how to render the kindness of good will to them that pine wîth the plague of malice, how to join the contentious with the bands of peace, how to train up the peaceable to the longing desire of true Peace; how to supply necessary things to those that are in need; how to shew to those that be gone astray the path of righteousness; how to soothe the distressed by words and by sympathy; how to quench by rebuke those that burn in the desires of the world; how by reasoning to soften down the threats of the powerful, how to lighten the bands of the oppressed by all the means that he is master of; how to oppose patience to those that offer resistance without; how to set forth to those that are full of pride within a lesson of discipline together with patience; how, with reference to the misdeeds of those under our charge, mildness may temper zeal, so that it never relax from earnestness for the rule of right; how zeal may be so kindled for revenge, that yet by kindling thus it never transgress the bounds of pity; how to stir the unthankful to love by benefits; how to preserve in love all that are thankful by services; how to pass by in silence the misdoings of our neighbour, when he has no power to correct them; how when they may be amended by speaking to dread silence as consent to them; how to submit to what he passes by in silence, yet so that none of the poison of annoyance bury itself in his spirit; how to exhibit the service of good will to the malicious, yet not so as to depart from the claims of righteousness from kindness; how to render all things to his neighbours that he is master of, yet in thus rendering them not to be swelled with pride; in the good deeds which he sets forth to shrink from the precipice of pride, yet so as not to slacken in the exercise of doing good; so to lavish the things which he possesses as to take thought how great is the bounteousness of his Rewarder, lest in bestowing earthly things he think of his poverty more than need be, and in the offering of the gift a sad look obscure the light of cheerfulness.

9. Therefore the Law of God is rightly called manifold, in this respect, that whereas it is one and the same principle of charity, if it has taken full possession of the mind, it kindles her in manifold ways to innumerable works. The diverseness whereof we shall set forth in brief if we go through and enumerate her excellencies in each of the Saints severally. Thus she in Abel both presented chosen gifts to God, and without resistance submitted to the brother’s sword; Enoch she both taught to live in a spiritual way among men, and even in the body carried him away from men to a life above. Noah she exhibited the only one pleasing to God when all were disregarded, and she exercised him on the building of the ark with application to a long labour, and she preserved him the survivor of the world by the practice of religious works. In Shem and Japhet she humbly felt shame at the father’s nakedness, and with a cloak thrown over their shoulders hid that which she looked not on. She, for that she lifted the right hand of Abraham for the death of his son in the yielding of obedience, made him the father of a numberless offspring of the Gentiles. She, because she ever kept the mind of Isaac in purity, when his eyes were now dim with age, opened it wide to see events that should come to pass long after. She constrained Jacob at the same time to bewail from the core of his heart the good child taken from him, and to bear with composure the presence of the wicked ones. She instructed Joseph, when sold by his brethren, both to endure servitude with unbroken freedom of spirit, and not to lord it afterwards over those brethren with a high mind. She, when the people erred, at once prostrated Moses in prayer, even to the beseeching for death, and lifted him up in eagerness of indignant feeling even to the extent of slaying the people; so that he should both offer himself to die in behalf of the perishing multitude, and in the stead of the Lord in His indignation straightway let loose his rage against them when they sinned. She lifted the arm of Phinees in revenge of the guilty souls, that he should pierce them as they lay with the sword he had seized, and that by being wroth he might appease the wrath of the Lord. She instructed Jesus the spy, so that he both first vindicated the truth by his word against his false countrymen, and afterwards asserted it with his sword against foreign enemies. She both rendered Samuel lowly in authority, and kept him unimpaired in his low estate, who, in that he loved the People that persecuted him, became himself a witness to himself that he loved not the height from whence he was thrust down. David before the wicked king she at once urged with humility to take flight, and filled with pitifulness to grant pardon; who at once in fearing fled from his persecutor, as his lord, and yet, when he had the power of smiting him, did not acknowledge him as an enemy. She both uplifted Nathan against the king on his sinning in the authoritativeness of a free rebuke, and, when there was no guilt resting on the king, humbly prostrated him in making request. She in Isaiah blushed not for nakedness of the flesh in the work of preaching, and the fleshly covering withdrawn, she penetrated into heavenly mysteries. She, for that she taught Elijah to live spiritually with the earnestness of a fervent soul, carried him off even in the body also to enter into life. She, in that she taught Elisha to love his master with a single affection, filled him with a double portion of his master’s spirit. Through her Jeremiah withstood that the people should not go down into Egypt, and yet by cherishing them even when they were disobedient he even himself went down where he forbad the going down. She, in that she first raised Ezekiel from all earthly objects of desire, afterwards suspended him in the air by a lock of his head. She in the case of Daniel, for that she refrained his appetite from the royal dainties, closed for him the very mouths of the hungry lions. She, in the Three Children, for that she quenched the flames of evil inclinations in them whilst in a condition of peace, in the season of affliction abated the very flames in the furnace. She in Peter both stoutly withstood the threats of frowning rulers, and in the setting aside of the rite of circumcision, she heard the words of inferiors with humility. She, in Paul, both meekly bore the violence of persecutors, and yet in the matter of circumcision boldly rebuked the notion of one by great inequality his superior. ‘Manifold’ then is this Law of God, which undergoing no change accords with the several particulars of events, and being susceptible of no variation yet blends itself with varying occasions.

10. The multiplicity of which same law, Paul rightly counts up, in the words, Charity suffereth long, and is kind; envieth not, vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, rojoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. 1 Cor. 13:4, 5, 6. For charity ‘suffereth long,’ in that she bears with composure the ills that are brought upon her. She ‘is kind,’ in that she renders good for evil with a bounteous hand. She ‘envieth not,’ in that from her coveting nought in the present life, she thinketh not to envy earthly successes. She ‘is not puffed up,’ in that whereas she eagerly desires the recompense of the interior reward, she does not lift herself up on the score of exterior good things. She ‘doth not behave herself unseemly,’ in that in proportion as she spreads herself out in the love of God and our neighbour alone, whatever is at variance with the rule of right is unknown to her. She is not covetous, in that as she is warmly busied within with her own concerns, she never at all covets what belongs to others. ‘She seeketh not her own,’ in that all that she holds here by a transitory tenure, she disregards as though it were another’s, in that she knows well that nothing is her own but what shall stay with her. She ‘is not easily provoked,’ in that even when prompted by wrongs she never stimulates herself to any motions of self-avenging, whilst for her great labours she looks hereafter for greater rewards. She ‘thinketh no evil,’ in that basing the soul in the love of purity, while she plucks up all hatred by the roots, she cannot harbour in the mind aught that pollutes. She ‘rejoiceth not in iniquity,’ in that as she yearns towards all men with love alone, she does not triumph even in the ruin of those that are against her, but she ‘rejoiceth in the truth,’ in that loving others as herself, by that which she beholds right in others she is filled with joy as if for the growth of her own proficiency. ‘Manifold,’ then, is this ‘Law of God,’ which by the defence of its instructiveness is proof against the dart of every sin which assaults the soul for its destruction, so that whereas our old enemy besets us with manifold encompassing, she may in many ways rid us of him. Which Law if we consider with heedful attention, we are made to know how greatly we sin each day against our Maker. And if we thoroughly consider our sins, then assuredly we bear afflictions with composure, nor is any one precipitated into impatience by pain, when conscience gives itself up by its own sentence. Hence Zophar, knowing what it was that he said, but not knowing to whom he said it, after he had premised the words, That He would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, and that her Law is manifold, forthwith adds,

And that thou mightest know that God exacteth of thee less than thine iniquity deserveth.

vii. 11. For, as we have said, the pain of the stroke is mitigated, when the sin is acknowledged; for every one too bears the knife of the leach the more patiently, in proportion as he sees what he cuts to be gangrened. He therefore that comprehends the manifold character of the Law, reflects how much too little all is that he is suffering; for from this, that the weight of the sin is acknowledged, the pain of the affliction is made less.

12. But herein we must know that it was not without great iniquity that Zophar reproached the righteous man even to the charging him with iniquity. And thus Truth with justice reproves their boldness, but mercifully restores them to favour; for with the merciful Judge a fault never goes without pardon, when it is done through the heat of zealous feeling in the love of Him. For this oftentimes happens to great and admirable teachers, that in proportion as they are inflamed with the depth of charity, they exceed the due measure of correction, and that the tongue utters somewhat that it never ought, because love inflames the heart to the degree that it ought. But the word of offered affront is the more readily spared, in proportion as it is considered from what root it comes. Whence the Lord rightly commanded by Moses, saying, As when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour merely to hew wood, and the wood of the axe flieth from his hand, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour that he die, he shall flee unto one of these cities and live: lest perchance the kinsman of him whose blood hath been shed pursue the slayer while his heart is hot, and overtake him, and slay him. Deut. 19:5, 6. For we ‘go to the wood with a friend,’ whensoever we betake ourselves with a neighbour to take a view of our transgressions, and we ‘merely hew wood,’ when with pious purpose we cut away the evil doings of offenders; but the ‘axe flieth from his hand,’ when rebuke carries itself into severity beyond what ought to be, and the ‘head slippeth from the helve,’ when the speech goes off too hard from the act of correcting, and it ‘lighteth upon a neighbour, that he die,’ in that the offered insult kills its hearer as to the spirit of love. For the mind of the person reproved is instantly hurried into hate, if unmeasured censure condemn it beyond what ought to be. But he that heweth wood carelessly, and kills a neighbour, must take refuge in three cities, that he may live unharmed in one of them, in that if betaking himself to the lamentations of repentance, he be hidden in the unity of the Sacrament under hope faith and charity, he is not held guilty of the manslaughter that has been done; and when the ‘kinsman of the slain’ has found him he slayeth him not, in that, when the strict Judge comes, Who has united Himself to us by fellowship with our own nature, He doubtless never exacts retribution for guilt of sin from him, whom faith hope and charity hide beneath the shelter of His pardoning grace. Quickly then is that sin done away which is not committed of the set aim of malice. And hence, Zophar both calls him iniquitous, whom a sentence from above had extolled, and yet he is not rejected and shut out from pardon, in that he is prompted to words of contumely by zeal in the love of God. Who, for that he does not know the merits of blessed Job, further added in illinstructed mockery, saying,

Ver. 7. Canst thou find out the footsteps of God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?

viii. 13. What does he call ‘the footsteps of God,’ saving the lovingkindness of His visitation? by which same we are stimulated to advance forward to things above, when we are influenced by the inspiration of His Spirit, and being carried without the narrow compass of the flesh, by love we see and own the likeness of our Maker presented to our contemplation that we may follow it. For when the love of the spiritual Land kindles the heart, He as it were gives knowledge of a way to persons that follow it, and a sort of footstep of God as He goes is imprinted upon the heart laid under it, that the way of life may be kept by the same in right goings of the thoughts. For Him, Whom we do not as yet see, it only remains for us to trace out by the footsteps of His love, that at length the mind may find Him, to the reaching the likeness contemplation gives of Him, Whom now as it were, following Him in the rear, it searches out by holy desires. The Psalmist was well skilled to follow these footsteps of our Creator, when he said, My soul followeth hard after Thee. Ps. 63:8. Whom too he busied himself that he might find even to attaining the vision of His loftiness, when he said, My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before the face of God? Ps. 42:2. For then Almighty God is found out by clear conception, when the corruption of our mortality being once for all trodden under our feet, He is seen by us that are taken up into heaven in the brightness of His Divine Nature. But at this present time, the grace of the Spirit which is poured into our hearts lifts the soul from carnal aims, and elevates it into a contempt for transitory things, and the mind looks down upon all that it coveted below, and is kindled to objects of desire above, and by the force of her contemplation she is carried out of the flesh, while by the weight of her corruption she is still held fast in the flesh; she strives to obtain sight of the splendour of uncircumscribed Light, and has not power; for the soul, being burthened with infirmity, both never wins admittance, and yet loves when repelled. For our Creator already exhibits concerning Himself something whereby love may be excited, but He withdraws the appearance of His vision from those so loving. Therefore we all go on seeing only His footsteps, in that only in the tokens of His gifts we follow Him, Whom as yet we see not. Which same ‘footsteps’ cannot be comprehended, in that it is all unknown, when, where, and by what ways the gifts of His Spirit come, as ‘Truth’ bears record, saying, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and ye cannot tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. John 3:8. Now in the height of the rewarding the Almighty may be found out in the appearance afforded to contemplation, yet He can never be found out to perfection. For though sooner or later we see Him in His brightness, yet we do not perfectly behold His Essence. For the mind whether of Angels or men, whilst it gazes toward the uncircumscribed Light shrinks into little by this alone, viz. that it is a created being; and by its advancement indeed it is made to stretch above its own reach, yet not even when spread wide can it compass the splendours of Him, Who at once in transcending, in supporting, and in filling, encloses all things. Hence it is yet further added,

Ver. 8, 9. He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, what canst thou know? His measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

ix. 14. In that God is set forth as ‘higher than heaven,’ ‘deeper than hell,’ ‘longer than the earth,’ and ‘broader than the sea,’ this must be understood in a spiritual sense, inasmuch as it is impious to conceive any thing concerning Him after the proportions of body. Now He is ‘higher than heaven,’ in that He transcends all things by the Incomprehensibility of His spiritual Nature. He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that in transcending He sustains beneath. He is ‘longer than the earth,’ in that He exceeds the measure of created being by the everlasting continuance of His Eternity. He is ‘broader than the sea,’ in that He so possesses the waves of temporal things in ruling them, that in confining He encompasses them beneath the every way prevailing presence of His Power. Though it is possible that by the designation of ‘Heaven’ the Angels may be denoted, and by the term ‘hell,’ the demons, while by the ‘earth’ the righteous, and by the ‘sea’ sinners are understood. Thus He is ‘higher than the heaven,’ in that the very Elect Spirits themselves do not perfectly penetrate the vision of His infinite loftiness? He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that He judges and condemns the craft of evil spirits with far more searching exactness than they had ever thought. He is ‘longer than the earth,’ in that He surpasses our long-suffering by the patience of Divine long-suffering, which both bears with us in our sins, and welcomes us when we are turned from them to the rewards of His recompensing. He is ‘wider than the sea,’ in that He every where enters into the doings of sinners by the presence of His retributive power, so that even when He is not seen present by His appearance, He is felt present by His judgment.

15. Yet all the particulars may be referred to man alone, so that he is himself ‘heaven,’ when now in desire he is attached to things above; himself ‘hell,’ when he lies grovelling in things below, confounded by the mists of his temptations; himself ‘earth,’ in that he is made to abound in good works through the fertility of a stedfast hope; himself ‘the sea,’ for that on some occasions he is shaken with alarm, and agitated by the breath of his feebleness. But God is ‘higher than heaven,’ in that we are subdued by the mightiness of His power, even when we are lifted above our own selves. He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that He goes deeper in judging than the very human mind looks into its own self in the midst of temptations. He is ‘longer than the earth, in that those fruits of our life which He gives at the end, our very hope at the present time comprehends not at all. He is ‘wider than the sea,’ in that the human mind being tossed to and fro throws out many fancies concerning the things that are coming, but when it now begins to see the things that it had made estimate of, it owns itself to have been too stinted in its reckoning. Therefore He is made ‘higher than heaven,’ since our contemplation itself fails toward Him. Hence the Psalmist too had set his heart on high, yet he felt that he had not yet reached unto Him, saying, Thy knowledge is too wonderful for me, it is mighty, I cannot attain unto it. Ps. 139:6. He knew One deeper than hell, who when sifting his own heart, yet dreading His more searching judgment, said, For I know nothing by myself, yet am I not hereby justified: but He that judgeth me is the Lord. 1 Cor. 4:4. He saw One ‘longer than the earth,’ when he was brought to reflect that the wishes of man’s heart were too little for him, saying, Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think. Eph. 3:20. He had beheld One ‘broader than the sea,’ who considered whilst he feared that the human mind may never know the immeasurableness of His severity, however it may toss and fret in enquiring after it, saying, Who knoweth the power of Thine anger, and for fear can tell Thy wrath? Ps. 90:11. Whose Power the inimitable teacher rightly gives us the knowledge of, when he briefly says, That ye may be able to comprehend with all Saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height. Eph. 3:18. For God has ‘breadth,’ in that He extends His love even to gathering in the very persecutors. He has ‘length,’ in that He leads us onwards by bearing with us in long-suffering to the country of life. He has ‘loftiness,’ in that He far transcends the understanding of the very beings themselves that have been admitted into the heavenly assemblage. He has ‘depth,’ in that upon the damned below He displays the visitation of His severity in an incomprehensible manner. And these same four attributes He exercises towards each one of us, that are placed in this life, in that by loving, He manifests His ‘breadth;’ by suffering, His ‘length;’ by surpassing not only our understanding, but even our very wishes, His ‘height;’ and His ‘depth,’ by judging with strictness the hidden and unlawful motions of the thoughts. Now His height and depth how unsearchable it is no man knows saving he, who has begun either by contemplation to be carried up on high, or in resisting the hidden motions of the heart to be troubled by the urgency of temptation. And hence the words are spoken to blessed Job, He is higher than heaven, what canst thou do? deeper than hell, whence canst thou know? As if it were said to him in open contempt, ‘His depth and excellency when mayest thou ever discover, who are not taught either to be lifted up on high by virtue, or to deal severely with thyself in temptations. It goes on,

Ver. 10. If He overturn all things, or shut them up together, then who shall gainsay Him? Or who can say to Him, Why doest Thou so?

x. 16. The Lord ‘overturns heaven,’ when by His terrible and secret ordering He pulls down the height of man’s contemplations. He ‘subverts hell,’ when He allows the soul of any affrighted under its temptations to fall even into worse extremes. He ‘overturns the earth,’ when He cuts off the fruitfulness of good works by adversities pouring in. He ‘overturns the sea,’ when He confounds the fluctuations of our wavering spirit, by the rise of a sudden panic. For the heart, disquieted by its own uncertainty, fears horribly for this alone, that she goes thus wavering; and it is as if the sea were overturned, when our very trembling towards God is itself confounded on the terribleness of His judgment being thought on. Whereas therefore we have described in brief, in what sort heaven and hell, earth and sea, are overturned, now the somewhat more difficult task awaits us, to shew how these may be ‘shut up together.’

17. For it very often happens that the spirit already lifts the mind on high, yet that the flesh assails it with pressing temptations; and when the soul is led forward to the contemplation of heavenly things, it is struck back by the images of unlawful practice being presented. For the sting of the flesh suddenly wounds him, whom holy contemplation was bearing away beyond the flesh. Therefore heaven and hell are shut up together, when one and the same mind is at once enlightened by the uplifting of contemplation, and bedimmed by the pressure of temptation, so that both by straining forward it sees what it should desire, and through being bowed down be in thought subject to that which it should blush for. For light springs from heaven, but hell is held of darkness. Heaven and hell then are brought into one, when the soul which already sees the light of the land above, also sustains the darkness of secret temptation coming from the warfare of the flesh. Yea, Paul had already gone up to the height of the third heaven, already learnt the secrets of Paradise, and yet being still subject to the assaults of the flesh, he groaned, saying, But I see another law in my members warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. Rom. 7:23. How then was it with the heart of this illustrious Preacher, saving that God had ‘shut up together’ heaven and hell, in that he had both already obtained the light of the interior vision, and yet continued to suffer darkness from the flesh? Above himself he had seen what to seek after with joy, in himself he perceived what to bewail with fear. The light of the heavenly land had already shed abroad its rays, yet the dimness of temptation embarrassed the soul. Therefore he underwent hell together with heaven, in that assurance set him erect in his enlightenment, and lamentation laid him low in his temptation.

18. And it often happens that faith is now vigorous in the soul, and yet in some slight point it is wasted with uncertainty, so that both being well-assured, it lifts itself up from visible objects, and at the same time being unassured it disquiets itself in certain points. For very often it lifts itself to seek after the things of eternity, and being driven by the incitements of thoughts that arise, it is set at strife with its very own self. Therefore the ‘earth and sea are shut up together,’ when one and the same mind is both established by the certainty of rooted faith, and yet is influenced by the breath of doubt, through some slight fickleness of unbelief. Did not he experience that ‘earth and sea were shut up together’ in his breast, who both hoping through faith and wavering through faithlessness, cried, Lord, I believe, help Thou mine unbelief? Mark 9:23. How is it then that at the same time he declares that he believes, and begs to have the unbelief in him helped, saving that he had found out that ‘earth and sea were shut up together’ in his thoughts, who both being assured had already begun to implore through faith, and being unassured still endured the waves of faithlessness from unbelief.

19. And this is allowed by secret providence to be brought about, that when the soul has now begun to arise to uprightness, it should be assailed by the remnant of its wickedness, in order that this very assault may either exercise it if it resist, or if it be beguiled by enjoyment may break it down. Therefore it is well said here, If He overturn all things, or shut them up together, who shall gainsay Him? Or who can say to Him, Why doest Thou so? For God’s decree can neither lose any thing by opposition, nor be ascertained by enquiry, when He either withdraws the good graces which He had vouchsafed, or not entirely withdrawing them, lets them be shaken by the assault of evil inclinations. For oftentimes the heart is lifted up in highmindedness when it is established strongly in virtue by instances of joyful success, but when our Creator beholds the motions of presumption lurking in the heart, He forsakes man for the shewing him to himself, that his soul thus forsaken may discover what she is, in that she wrongly exulted in herself in a feeling of security. Hence whereas it is said that ‘all is overturned and shut up together,’ he therefore adds,

Ver. 11. For He knoweth the vanity of men; when He seeth wickedness also, doth He not consider it?

xi. 20. As if he were subjoining in explaining the things premised, saying, ‘Because He sees that by suffering them evil habits gain growth, by judging He brings to nought His gifts.’ Now the right order is observed in the account, in that vanity is first described to be known, and afterwards iniquity to be considered. For all iniquity is vanity, but not all vanity, iniquity. For we do vain things as often as we give heed to what is transitory. Whence too that is said to vanish, which is suddenly withdrawn from the eyes of the beholder. Hence the Psalmist saith, Every man living is altogether vanity. Ps. 39:5. For herein, that by living he is only tending to destruction, he is rightly called ‘vanity’ indeed; but by no means rightly called ‘iniquity’ too. For though it is in punishment of sin that he comes to nought, yet this particular circumstance is not itself sin, that he passes swiftly from life. Thus all things are vain that pass by. Whence too the words are spoken by Solomon, All is vanity. Eccles. 1:2.

21. But ‘iniquity’ is fitly brought in immediately after ‘vanity.’ For whilst we are led onwards through some things transitory, we are to our hurt tied fast to some of them, and when the soul does not hold its seat of unchangeableness, running out from itself it goes headlong into evil ways. From vanity then that mind sinks into iniquity, which from being familiar with things mutable, whilst it is ever being hurried from one sort to another, is defiled by sins springing up. It is possible too that ‘vanity’ may be taken for sin, and that by the title of ‘iniquity’ weightier guilt may be designated; for if vanity were not sometimes sin, the Psalmist would not have said, Though man walketh in the image of God; surely he is disquieted in vain: he heapeth up riches, and knoweth not who shall gather them. Ps. 39:6. Vulg. For though we preserve the image of the Trinity in our natural constitution, yet being disturbed by the vain motions of self-indulgence, we go wrong in our practice; so that in ever-alternating forms lust agitates, fear breaks down, joy beguiles, grief oppresses. Therefore from vanity, as we have also said above, we are led to iniquity, when first we let ourselves out in light misdemeanors, so that habit making all things light, we are not at all afraid to commit even heavier ones too afterwards. For while the tongue neglects to regulate idle words, being caught by the custom of engrained carelessness, it fearlessly gives a loose to mischievous ones. Whilst we give ourselves to gluttony we are straightway betrayed into the madness of an unsteady mind, and when the mind shrinks from overcoming the gratification of the flesh, it very often plunges even into the whirlpool of unbelief. Hence Paul, looking at the mischiefs that befel the Israelitish people, in order to keep off from his hearers threatened ills, was justly mindful to relate in order what took place, saying, Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. 1 Cor. 10:7, Ex. 32:6. For eating and drink set them on to play, and play drew them into idolatry; for if the offence of vanity is not restrained with care, the unheeding mind is swiftly swallowed up by iniquity, as Solomon testifies, who says, He that despiseth small things falleth little by little. For if we neglect to take heed to little things, being insensibly led away, we perpetrate even greater things with a bold face; and it is to be observed, that it is not said that iniquity is ‘seen,’ but that it is ‘considered.’ For we look more earnestly at those things which we consider. Thus God ‘knoweth the vanity of men, and considereth their iniquity,’ in that He leaves not even their minor offences unpunished, and prepares Himself with greater earnestness to smite their worse ones. Therefore whereas men set out with lighter misdeeds, and go on to those of a graver order, vanity overcasts while iniquity blinds the mind, which same mind, so soon as it has parted with the light, presently lifts itself so much the higher in swoln pride, in proportion as being taken in the snares of iniquity, it withdraws further from the truth. Hence also he fitly sets forth whereunto vanity forces men joined with iniquity, in that he forthwith adds,

Ver. 12. For the vain man is exalted in pride.

ii. 22. For it is the end of vanity, whereas it mangles the heart by sin, to render it bold by the offence, so that, forgetful of its guiltiness, the soul which feels no sorrow to have lost its innocency, blinded by a righteous retribution, should at the same time part with humility also; and it very often happens, that, enslaving itself to unlawful desires, it rids itself of the yoke of the fear of the Lord; and as if henceforth at liberty for the commission of wickedness, it strives to put in execution all that self-indulgence prompts. Hence when the vain man is said to be exalted in pride, therefore it is brought in,

And thinketh himself free born like a wild ass’s colt.

xiii. 23. For by ‘a wild ass’s colt’ is set forth every kind of wild animals, which being left free to the motions of nature, are not held by the reins of persons ruling them. For the fields leave animals in a state of liberty both to roam where they list, and to rest when they are wearied; and though man is immeasurably superior to insensate beasts, yet that is very often not allowed to man, which is granted to brute creatures. For those animals, which are never kept for any other end, assuredly never have their movements held in under the bands of discipline; but man, who is being brought to a life hereafter, must of necessity be held in all his movements under the controlling hand of discipline, and like a tame animal render service, bound with reins, and live restricted by eternal appointments. He then that seeks to put in practice in unrestrained liberty all the things that he has a desire for, what else is this but that he longs to be like the wild ass’s colt, that the reins of discipline may not hold him in, but that he may boldly run at large through the forest of desires?

24. But oftentimes Divine mercy breaks by the encounter of sudden adversity those, whom it sees going into the unruliness of lawless freedom, that being crushed they may learn with what damnable exaltation they had been swoln, that being now tamed by the experience of the scourge, they may like tame animals yield the mind’s neck to the reins of the commandments, and go along the ways of the present life at the ruler’s beck. With these reins he knew well that he was bound, who said, I am as a beast before Thee, and I am continually with Thee. Ps. 73:22. Whence too that raging persecutor, when he was brought away from the field of unbelieving self-indulgence to the house of faith, being pricked by the spurs of his ruler, heard the words, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. Acts 9:5. It remains then, if we would not henceforth be like the wild ass’s colt, that in all that we desire we first look out for the token of the interior appointment, so that our mind in all that it strives at may be held in by the bridle of the Supreme control, and may fulfil its wishes the more effectually to the obtaining of life, by the very same act, whereby even against its will it treads under foot the aims and objects of its own life. Zophar delivered many forcible sayings, but he is not conscious that he is addressing them to a better than himself; whence he still further subjoins in words of upbraiding,

Ver. 13. Thou hast set firm thine heart, and stretched out thine hands towards Him.

xiv. 25. The heart is not here said to be ‘set firm’ by virtue but by insensibility, for every soul that submits itself to the consideration of the interior severity, is directly softened by the fear thereof; and the shaft of divine dread enters into him, in that he carries weak bowels through humility. But he that is hardened by obstinacy in insensibility, as it were sets his heart firm, that the darts of heavenly fear may not pierce it. Whence the Lord says mercifully to some by the Prophet, And I will take away the stony heart out of you, and I will give you a heart of flesh. Ezek. 36:26. For He ‘takes away the stony heart,’ when He removes from us the hardness of pride. And He ‘gives us a heart of flesh,’ when He thereupon changes that same hardness into sensibility. Now by ‘hands’ as we have often taught are denoted works. To stretch out the hands to God, then, with sin, is to pride ourselves upon the excellency of our works to the prejudice of the grace of the Giver. For he that, speaking in the presence of the Eternal Judge, ascribes to himself the good that he does, stretches out his hands to God in a spirit of pride. It is in this way truly that the lost ever let themselves loose against the Elect, and so heretics against Catholics; that when they are unable to abuse their doings, they set themselves to blame the good for pride in those doings, that those, whom they cannot upbraid for weak points in practice, they may charge with the guilt of high-mindedness. And hence the good things which are done outwardly, they now no longer reckon to be good, in that they are set forth as it were in the prosecution of swelling conceit. And these oftentimes with swelling thoughts rebuke lowly deeds, and know not that they are dealing blows against themselves by their words. But whereas Zophar had hitherto chidden the righteous man with reproof, now, as giving him lessons of instruction, he subjoins,

Ver. 13, 14, 15. If the iniquity which is in thine hand thou put far from thee, and wickedness dwell not in thy tabernacle, then shalt thou lift up thy face without spot, yea thou shalt be stedfast, and shalt not fear.

xv. 29. Every sin is either committed in thought alone, or it is done in thought and deed together. Therefore ‘iniquity in the hand’ is offence in deed; but ‘wickedness in the tabernacle,’ is iniquity in the heart; for our heart is not unfitly called a tabernacle, wherein we are buried within ourselves, when we do not shew ourselves outwardly in act. Zophar therefore, in that he was the friend of a righteous person, knows what he should say, but in that he reproached a righteous person, bearing the likeness of heretics, he does not know how rightly to deliver even the things which he knows. But let us, treading under our feet all that is delivered by him in pride of spirit, reflect how true his words are, if they had but been spoken in a right manner. For first he bids that ‘iniquity’ be removed from the ‘hand,’ and afterwards that ‘wickedness’ be cut off from the ‘tabernacle;’ for whosoever has already cut away from himself all wicked deeds without, must of necessity in returning to himself probe himself discreetly in the purpose of his heart, lest sin, which he no longer has in act, still hold out in thought. Hence too it is well said by Solomon, Prepare thy work without, and diligently work thy field, that afterwards thou mayest build thine house. Prov. 24:27. For what is it when the ‘work is prepared,’ to ‘till the field diligently without,’ saving when the briars of iniquity have been plucked up, to train our practice to bearing fruits of recompense? And after the tilling of the field, what else is it to return to the building of our house, than that we very often learn from good deeds the perfect purity of life which we should build up in our thoughts. For almost all good deeds come from the thoughts, but there be some fine points of thought which have their birth in action; for as the deed is derived from the mind, so on the other hand the mind is instructed by the deed; for the soul taking the first beginnings of divine love dictates the good things which should be done, but after the deeds so dictated have begun to be fulfilled, being practised by its own actions, it learns how little it saw when it began to dictate good deeds. Thus the ‘field is tilled without, that the house may afterwards be built;’ for very often we gain from outward practice what an extreme nicety of righteousness we should keep in our hearts; and Zophar was well minded to observe this order, in that he spake first of ‘iniquity being put away from the hands,’ and afterwards ‘wickedness from the tabernacle;’ for the mind can never be completely set upright in thought when it still goes astray in deed.

27. Now if we thoroughly wipe away these two, we then directly ‘lift our face without spot’ to God. For the soul is the inner face of man, by which same we are known, that we may be regarded with love by our Maker. Now it is to lift up this same face, to raise the soul in God by appliance to the exercises of prayer. But there is a spot that pollutes the uplifted face, when consciousness of its own guilt accuses the mind intent; for it is forthwith dashed from all confidence of hope, if when busied in prayer it be stung with recollection of sin not yet subdued. For it distrusts its being able to obtain what it longs for, in that it bears in mind its still refusing to do what it has heard from God. Hence it is said by John, Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God; and whatsoever we ask we shall receive of Him. 1 John 3:21, 22. Hence Solomon saith, He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination. Prov. 28:9. For our heart blames us in offering up our prayers, when it calls to mind that it is set in opposition to the precepts of Him, Whom it implores, and the prayer becomes abomination, when there is a ‘turning away’ from the control of the law; in that verily it is meet that a man should be a stranger to the favours of Him, to Whose bidding he will not be subject.

28. Wherein there is this salutary remedy, if when the soul reproaches itself upon the remembrance of sin, it first bewail that in prayer, wherein it has gone wrong, that whereas the stain of offences is washed away by tears, in offering up our prayers the face of the heart may be viewed unspotted by our Maker. But we must be over and above on our guard, that the soul do not again fall away headlong to that, which it is overjoyed that it has washed away by tears; but whilst the sin that is deplored is again committed, those very lamentings be made light of in the eyes of the righteous Judge. For we should call to mind what is said, Do not repeat a word in thy prayer; Ecclus. 7:14. by which same saying the wise man in no sort forbids us to beseech pardon oftentimes, but to repeat our sins. As if it were expressed in plain words; ‘When thou hast bewailed thy misdoings, never again do any thing for thee to bewail again in prayer.’

29. Therefore that ‘the face may be lifted up in prayer without spot,’ it behoves that before the seasons of prayer every thing that can possibly be reproved in the act of prayer be heedfully looked into, and that the mind when it stays from prayer as well should hasten to shew itself such, as it desires to appear to the Judge in the very season itself of prayer. For we often harbour some impure or forbidden thoughts in the mind, when we are disengaged from our prayers. And when the mind has lifted itself up to the exercises of prayer, being made to recoil, it is subject to images of the things whereby before it was burthened of free will whilst unemployed. And the soul is now as it were without ability to lift up the face to God, in that the mind being blotted within, it blushes at the stains of polluted thought. Oftentimes we are ready to busy ourselves with the concerns of the world, and when after such things we apply ourselves to the business of prayer, the mind cannot lift itself to heavenly things, in that the load of earthly solicitude has sunk it down below, and the face is not shewn pure in prayer, in that it is stained by the mire of grovelling imagination.

30. However, sometimes we rid the heart of every encumbrance, and set ourselves against the forbidden motions thereof, even at such times as we are disengaged from prayer, yet because we ourselves commit sins but seldom, we are the more backward in letting go the offences of others, and in proportion as our mind the more anxiously dreads to sin, the more unsparingly it abhors the injuries done to itself by another; whence it is brought to pass that a man is found slow to grant pardon, in the same degree that by going on advancing, he has become heedful against the commission of sin. And as he fears himself to transgress against another, he claims to punish the more severely the transgression that is done against himself. But what can be discovered worse than this spot of bitterness, which in the sight of the Judge does not stain charity, but kills it outright? For every sin stains the life of the soul, but bitterness maintained against our neighbour slays it; for it is fixed in the soul like a sword, and the very hidden parts of the bowels are gored by the point thereof; and if it be not first drawn out of the pierced heart, no whit of divine aid is won in prayer. For the medicines of health cannot be applied to the wounded limbs, unless the iron be first withdrawn from the wound. Hence it is that ‘Truth’ saith by Itself, If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father Which is in Heaven forgive you your trespasses. Matt. 6:15. Hence He enjoins, saying, And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any. Mark 11:25. Hence He saith again, Give, and it shall be given unto you; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. Luke 6:38. Hence to the form of petition, He affixed the condition of pity; saying, Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us: Matt. 6:12. that truly the good which we beg from God being pierced with compunction, we first do with our neighbour, being altered by conversion. Therefore we then truly ‘lift our face without spot,’ when we neither commit forbidden misdeeds, nor retain those which have been committed against ourselves from jealous regard for self; for in the hour of prayer our soul is overwhelmed with sore dismay, if either its practice still continue to pollute it, or bitterness kept for the injuring of another lay charge against it; which two when any one has cleansed away, he forthwith arises free to the things which are subjoined, Yea, thou shalt be stedfast, and shall not fear, in that doubtless he fears the Judge the less, the more stedfast he stands in good deeds. For he gets the mastery of fears, who retains possession of stedfastness, in that whilst he anxiously busies himself to do what our Creator tenderly enjoins, he bethinks himself in security of that which He threatens with terribleness.

31. Moreover it should be known, that there are some good deeds wherein we persevere unwearied, and again, there are some from which we are continually giving over and falling away, and we are restored to these, not without great endeavours at intervals of time; for in the active life the mind is stablished without failing, but from the contemplative, being overcome by the load of its infirmity, it faints away. For the first endures the more stedfastly in proportion as it opens itself to things about it for our neighbour’s weal; the latter falls away the more swiftly, in proportion as passing beyond the barriers of the flesh, it endeavours to soar up above itself. The first directs its way through level places, and therefore plants the foot of practice more strongly; but the other, as it aims at heights above itself, the sooner descends wearied to itself. Which is well and briefly conveyed by Ezekiel, when he relates the motions of the living creatures which he had seen, saying, They turned not when they went; Ez. 1:9, 14. and soon after he subjoins in addition, And the living creatures went and returned. For sometimes the holy ‘living creatures go and return not,’ and sometimes they ‘go and return forthwith;’ for when the minds of the Elect, through the grace of an active life being vouchsafed them, abandon the paths of error, they never return to the evil courses of the world which they have forsaken; but when through the gaze of contemplation they are led to stay themselves from this same active life, they ‘go and return,’ in that hereby, that they are never able to continue for long in contemplation, they again let themselves out in action, that by busying themselves in such things as are immediately near them, they may recruit their strength, and may be enabled by contemplation again to soar above themselves. But while this practice of contemplation is in due method resumed at intervals of time, we hold on assuredly without failing all its entireness; for though the mind being overcome by the weight of its infirmity fall short, yet being restored again by continual efforts it lays hold thereof. Nor should it be said to have lost its firmness in that, which, though it be ever failing in, it is ever pursuing, even when it has lost the same. It proceeds;

Ver. 16. Thou shalt also forget thy misery, and no more remember it, as waters that pass away.

xvi. 32. The mind feels the ills of the present life the more severely, in proportion as it neglects to take account of the good that comes after; and as it will not consider the rewards that are in store, it reckons all to be grievous that it undergoes; and hence the blinded imagination murmurs against the stroke of the scourge, and that is taken for an immeasurable woe, which by the days flowing on in their course is daily being brought to an end. But if a man once raise himself to things eternal, and fix the eye of the soul upon those objects which remain without undergoing change, he sees that here below all whatsoever runs to an end is almost nothing at all. He is subject to the adversities of the present life, but he bethinks himself that all that passes away is as nought. For the more vigorously he makes his way into the interior joys, he is the less sensible of pains without. Whence Zophar, not being afraid with boldfaced hardihood to instruct one better than himself, exhorts to righteousness, and shews how little chastening appears in the eyes of the righteous man. As if it were in plain words; ‘If thou hast a taste of the joy which remains within, all that gives pain without forthwith becomes light.’ Now he does well in likening the miseries of the present life to ‘waters that pass away,’ for passing calamity never overwhelms the mind of the Elect with the force of a shock, yet it does tinge it with the touch of sorrow. For it drops indeed with the bleeding of the wound, though it is not dashed from the certainty of its salvation. But it often happens that not only stripes inflict bruises, but that in the mind of each one of the righteous the temptings of evil spirits come in force, so that he is grieved by the stroke without, and is in some sort chilled within by temptation. Yet grace never forsakes him, which same the more severely it smites us in the dealings of Providence, so much the more does it watch over us in pity; for when it has begun to grow dark through temptation, the inward light kindles itself again. Whence too it is added;

Ver. 17. And the noonday splendour shall rise to thee at eventide.

xvii. 33. For ‘the noonday splendour at eventide’ is the renewing of virtue in the season of temptation, that the soul should be reinvigorated by the sudden heat of charity, which but now was full of fear, that the light of grace had sunk to it; which Zophar further unfolds with more exactness, when he subjoins,

Ver. 18. And when thou thinkest thyself consumed, thou shall arise like the morning star.

xviii. 34. For it often comes to pass that so many temptations beset our path, that the very multitude of them almost inclines us to the downfall of desperation. Hence for the most part, when the mind is turned to weariness, it scarce takes account even of the hurts that its virtue sustains, and notwithstanding that it is wholly filled with pain, it is as if it were now dislocated from the sense of pain, and were unable to reckon up with what a tumult of thoughts it is overrun. It sees itself momentarily on the point of falling headlong, and grief itself withstands it worse, that it should not lay hold of the arms of resistance. Mists encompass the eyes, wherever turned about, and whereas darkness ever obstructs the sight, the sad soul sees nought else than darkness; but with the merciful Judge it often happens that this very sadness, which even weighs down the effect of prayer, intercedes for us the more piercingly. For then our Creator sees the blackness of our sorrow, and pours back again the rays of the light withdrawn, so that the mind being immediately braced up by His gifts becomes full of vigour, which same a little before contending evil propensities kept down under the heel of pride. At once it shakes off the load of torpor, and bursts with the light of contemplation after the darkness of its troubled state. At once that is raised to the joy of advancement, which amidst temptations was well nigh driven by despair to a sorer fall. Without a conflict of the heart it looks down upon present things, without let of misgiving it trusts in the retribution to come. Therefore when the righteous man ‘thinks himself consumed, he arises like the morning star,’ in that so soon as he has begun to be benighted with the blackness of temptations, he is restored anew to the light of grace, and he in himself manifests the day of righteousness, who the moment before, on the point to fall, dreaded the night of guiltiness. Now the life of the righteous is rightly compared to the ‘morning star.’ For the morning star, being precursor of the sun, proclaims the day. And what does the innocency of the Saints proclaim to us, saving the brightness of the Judge, That cometh after? For in our admiration of them we see what we are to account of the Majesty of the true Light. We do not yet behold the power of our Redeemer, but we admire His goodness in the characters of His Elect. Therefore in that the life of the good presents to our eyes on the consideration of it the force of Truth, the ‘morning star’ arises bright to us heralding the sun.

35. But be it known that all that we have made out, proceeding upon the opposition of spiritual temptations, may without hindrance be interpreted by external ills, for holy men, because they love the things above from the bottom of their heart, encounter hardships in things below; but at the end they find the light of joy, which in the span of this passing life they care not to have. Whence it is said on this occasion by Zophar, And the noonday splendour shall arise to thee at eventide. For the sinner’s light in the daytime is dimness at eventide, in that he is buoyed up with good fortune in the present life, but is swallowed up by the darkness of calamity at the end; but to the righteous man the noonday splendour ariseth at eventide, in that he knows what exceeding brightness is in store for him when he has already begun to set. Hence it is written; Whoso feareth the Lord, it shall go well with him at the last. Ecclus. 1:13. Hence it is declared by the Psalmist; When He giveth His beloved sleep, this is the heritage of the Lord. Ps. 127:2, 3. He, while he is still set in the strife of this present life as well, ‘when he thinketh himself consumed, ariseth like the morning star;’ because whilst falling outwardly he is renewed inwardly. And the more that he encounters crosses without, the more richly he gleams with the light of his virtues within, as Paul testifies, who saith, Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction which is but for a moment worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory. 2 Cor. 4:16. And it ought to be observed, that he never says, ‘when thou art consumed,’ but, ‘when thou thinkest thyself consumed,’ in that both that which we see is doubtful, and that which we hope for certain. Whence too the same Paul did not know, but thought, that he was consumed, who even when falling headlong into sufferings and tribulations, shone bright like the morning star, saying, As dying, and, behold, we live; as sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich. 2 Cor. 6:9, 10. And we should know that the worse plight the mind of the good is reduced to for the love of the truth, the more sure and certain its hope of the rewards of eternity. Whence too it is justly added;

Ver. 18. And thou shalt have confidence, because hope is set before thee.

xix. 36. For hope lifts itself the more firmly rooted in God, in proportion as a man has suffered harder things for His sake, since the joy of the recompensing is never gathered in eternity, which is not first sown here below in religious sorrowing. Hence the Psalmist saith, They went forth and wept as they went, bearing precious seed, but they shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing their sheaves with them. Ps. 126:6. Hence Paul saith, If we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him. 2 Tim. 2:11, 12. Hence he warns his disciples, saying, And that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22. Hence the Angel, shewing the glory of the Saints to John, saith, These are they that came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Rev. 7:14. Therefore because we now sow in tribulation that we may afterwards reap the fruit of joy, the heart is strengthened with the larger measure of confidence in proportion as it is pressed with the heavier weight of affliction for the Truth’s sake. Whence it is therefore fitly added,

Yea, being dug to the bottom, thou shalt rest secure.

xx. 37. For just as present security begets toil to the wicked, so present toil begets perpetual security to the good. Hence he already knew that it was his ‘to rest secure after he had been dug to the bottom,’ who said, For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course: I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day. 2 Tim. 4:6–8. For as he had striven without giving over against transitory ills, doubtless he reckoned without misgiving on enduring joys.

38. Not but that the expression, ‘been dug to the bottom,’ may be understood in another sense also: for oftentimes being busied with transitory matters, we neglect to consider in what great things we go wrong; but if the eye of reflection being brought in, the pile of earthly thoughts be discharged from the recesses of the heart, what lay hid from sight within is disclosed to view; whence holy men never cease to explore the secret hiding places of their souls; minutely searching themselves, they throw off the cares of earthly things, and their thoughts being thoroughly; dug up from the bottom, when they find that they are not cankered in any wise by the guilt of sin, they rest secure in themselves as upon the bed of the heart. For they desire to be hid apart from the courses of this world. They are always thinking on their own concerns, and when they are not at all tied by the harness of government, they decline to pass judgment on what concerns others. Therefore ‘having been dug to the bottom they rest secure,’ in that whilst with wakeful eye they dive into their inmost recesses, they withdraw themselves from the toilsome burthens of this world under the disengagement of repose. And hence it is yet further added,

Ver. 19. Also thou shalt lie down, and there shall be none to make thee afraid.

xxi. 39. Whosoever seeks present glory doubtless dreads contempt. He, who is ever agape after gain, is ever surely in fear of loss. For that object, the receiving of which is medicine to him, the loss thereof is his wounding, and as he is rivetted under fetters to things mutable and destined to perish, so he lies grovelling beneath, far apart from the stronghold of security. But, on the other hand, whoever is rooted in the desire of eternity alone, is neither uplifted by good fortune nor shaken by adverse fortune; whilst he has nought in the world which he desires, there is nought which he dreads from the world. For it is hence that Solomon saith, It shall not grieve the just whatsoever shall happen unto him. HIST. Prov. 12:21. Hence he says again, The righteous as a bold lion shall be without alarm. Therefore it is rightly said here; Also thou shalt lie down, and none shall make thee afraid, Prov. 28:1. in that every one the more completely casts away from himself the fear that cometh from the world, the more thoroughly he overcomes in himself the lust of the world. Did not Paul lie down and rest in heart without fear, when he said, For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor strength, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Rom. 8:38, 39. The force of which same love is commended by the true voice of the Holy Church, where it is said in the Song of songs, For love is strong as death. Cant. 8:6. For love is compared to the force of death, in that that soul which it has once taken possession of, it wholly kills to the delightfulness of the world, and sets it up the stronger in authority, that it renders it indifferent towards objects of terror. But herein it is to be known, that when bad men deliver right sentiments, it is very hard for them not to let themselves out upon that, which they are going after in secret within. Hence Zophar forthwith adds;

Yea, many shall make suit unto thee.

xxii. 40. For the righteous do not keep themselves in the narrow paths of innocency with this view, that they may be implored by others, but whether heretics or any that be perverse, all of them, in that they live with an appearance of innocency among men, have the desire to shew themselves as intercessors in behalf of men, and when in talk they convey holy truths, what they themselves are hankering after, they promise to others as something great; and whilst they tell of heavenly things, they soon shew by their pledges what their hearts are bent on. But lest by long continuing to promise earthly things, they may be made appear what they are, they quickly return to words of uprightness. Whence it is immediately added,

But the eyes of the wicked shall fail, and refuge shall perish from them.

xxiii. 41. That by the designation of ‘eyes’ the energy of the intention is set forth to us, ‘Truth’ testifies in the Gospel, saying, If thine eye shall be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. Matt. 6:22. Forasmuch as if a pure intention have preceded our action, howsoever it may seem otherwise to men, yet to the eyes of our interior Judge, the body of the deed that follows after is presented pure. Therefore the ‘eyes’ of the wicked are the intentions of carnal desires in them, and these fail for this reason, that they are careless of their eternal interests, and are ever looking for transitory advantages alone. For they aim to get themselves an earthly name, they wish above all things to grow and increase in temporal goods, they are daily advancing with the tide of transient things to the goal of death; but they think not to take account of the things of mortality upon the principles of their mortal nature. The life of the flesh is failing minute by minute, and yet the desire of the flesh is growing; property gotten is snatched off by an instant end, yet the eagerness in getting is not ended the more; but when death withdraws the wicked, then indeed their desires are ended with their life. And the eyes of these fail them through the Avenging of the Most High, for that they would not fail here by their own determination to earthly gratification. These same eyes of such persons the Psalmist had seen closed to their former enjoyment, when he said, In that day all their thoughts perish. Ps. 146:4. For they meet at once with eternal woes they had never thought on, and on a sudden lose the temporal goods, they had long while held and dealt with. And for these ‘all refuge shall perish,’ in that their iniquity finds not where to hide itself from the visitation of the searching Judge. For now, when the wicked undergo some slight mishaps or evil chances, they find a hiding-place for refuge, in that they forthwith have recourse to the enjoyment of earthly objects of desire. For that poverty torment them not, they beguile the spirit with riches. Or lest the contempt of their neighbours sink them, they exalt themselves with titles. If the body is cloyed with satiety, it is pampered with the variety of viands set before it. If the mind is weighed down by any impulse to sadness, it is immediately relieved by the beguilements of sportiveness being introduced. Here therefore they have as many places of refuge as they make for themselves entertainments of delight; but one time ‘refuge shall perish from them,’ in that their soul, when all these are gone, sees only itself and the Judge. Then the pleasure is withdrawn, but the guilt of pleasure is preserved; and ere long the miserable wretches learn by their perishing that they were perishable things they had possession of. Yet these as long as they live in the body never cease to seek after things of a nature to do them harm. Whence it is still further added,

And their hope shall be the abomination of the soul.

xxiv. 42. What does the sinner hope for here in all his thoughts saving to surpass others in power, to go beyond all men in the abundance of his stores, to bow down his rivals in lording it over them, to display himself as an object of admiration to his followers, to gratify anger at will, to make himself known as kind and gracious when he is commended, whatever the appetite longs for to offer to it, to acquiesce in all that pleasure dictates by the fulfilling of the thing? Well then is their hope said to be ‘the abomination of the soul,’ for the very same objects which carnal men go after, all spiritual persons abominate, according to the sentence of righteousness. For that which sinners account pleasure, the righteous, surely, hold for pain. Therefore the hope of the wicked is the abomination of the soul, for the spirit is wasted while the body is at ease. For as the flesh is sustained by soft treatment, so is the soul by hard dealing; soothing appliances cherish the first, harsh methods exercise the last. The one is fed with enjoyment, the last thrives on bitterness. And as hardships wound the flesh, so softness kills the spirit, as things laborious kill the one, so things delightful destroy the other. Therefore the hope of carnal men is said to be the abomination of the soul; in that the spirit perishes for ever by the same means whereby the flesh lives pleasantly for a while.

43. Now Zophar would have said this aright, if blessed Job had not proclaimed it all more fully even by living accordingly. But whereas he sets himself to give an holier man admonition concerning the way of living, and to instruct one more skilled than himself with the tutorage of wisdom, he by his own act makes the weight of his words light, in that by letting in indiscreetness he undoes all that he says; in that he is pouring on the liquid element of knowledge into a full vessel. For the treasures of knowledge are possessed by the indiscreet just as treasures of corporal substance are often in the possession of fools. For some that are sustained by a full measure of earthly goods at times give largely even to those that have, that they may themselves seem to have them in fuller measure than all men. So the wicked, since they are imbued with truth, speak in some respects right even to those that are more right than they are, not that they may instruct others that hear them, but that they may make it appear with what a fund of instruction they are furnished. For they hold that they excel all men in wisdom, therefore they imagine that there is nothing that they can say to any man beyond the measure of their greatness. Thus all the wicked, thus all heretics are not afraid to instruct their betters with a high tone, in that they look upon all as inferior to themselves. But Holy Church recalls every one that is high minded from the height of his self-esteem, and fashions him anew by the hand of discretion in the jointing of equality. Whence blessed Job, who is a member of the same Holy Church, seeing that the mind of his friend was swoln and big in words of instruction which he delivered, thereupon answered, saying,

Chap. 12:2. No doubt but ye are the only men, and wisdom shall die with you.

xxv. 44. Whosoever reckons himself to excel all men in the faculty of reason, what else does such a man but exult that he is the ‘only Man?’ And it often happens that when the mind is borne on high through pride, it is uplifted in contempt of all men, and in admiration of self. For self-applause springs up in the imagination, and folly is itself its own flatterer for singularity of wisdom. It ponders all that it has heard, and considers the words that it utters; and it admires its own, and scoffs at those of others. He then, who thinks that he only is wise, what else is this but that he believes that that same ‘wisdom dies with him?’ For what he denies to be with others, ascribing to himself alone, he doth, in truth, confine within the period of his brief span. But we are to consider what exact discretion the holy man employs, in order that the arrogance of his friends in the fulness of pride might be brought within bounds, in that he adds forthwith,

Ver. 3. But I have understanding as well as you; I am not inferior to you.

xxvi. 45. For who is ignorant how greatly the practice and the knowledge of blessed Job excels the knowledge that his friends have? Now in order to correct their pride, he asserts that he is ‘not inferior’ to them, and lest he should transgress the limits of his own humility, he keeps to himself that he is superior to them; not by setting himself above, but by equalling himself to them, he points out what they should learn concerning themselves, who are far unlike to him; that whereas that wisdom which is high is voluntarily bowed down, the knowledge which lies grovelling may never erect itself against the nature of its powers, and he does well that he immediately recalls these to a sense of their equal condition, reflecting that they are swoln to excess as if for singularity in greatness, when he afterwards proceeds,

Yea, who knoweth not such things as these that ye know?

xxvii. 46. As though he said in plain words; Since what ye say is known to all men, wherefore are ye puffed up by the knowledge contained in your sayings, as of singular merit? Therefore whereas in bringing back the pride of the self-conceited to a common level of equality, he has reproved with a full correction, he now breaks out into statements of instruction; that his friends having been humbled first might learn the weightiness of Truth, and how reverently they should hear it. It proceeds,

Ver. 4. He that is mocked of his neighbour as I am, calleth upon God, and He answereth him.

xxviii. 47. Oftentimes the frail mind, when it is welcomed by the breath of human regard on the score of good actions, runs out into outward delights, so that it lays aside what it inwardly desires, and willingly lies all loosely in that which it gives ear to without. So that it does not so much delight to become as to be called blessed; and whereas it gapes after the words of applause, it gives over what it had begun to be; and so it is severed from God by the same means by which it appeared to be commendable in God. But sometimes it presses forward in good practice with a constant heart, and yet is pushed hard by the scoffs of men; it does admirable deeds, and gets only abuse; and he that might have been made to go forth without by commendations, being repulsed by insults, returns back again into himself; and stablishes himself the more firmly in God, that he findeth no place without when he may rest in peace: for all his hope is fixed in his Creator. And amidst scoffs and revilings, the interior Witness is alone implored. And his soul in his distress becomes God’s neighbour, in proportion as he is a stranger to the favour of man’s esteem. He forthwith pours himself out in prayer, and being pressed without, he is refined with a more perfect purity to penetrate into all within. Therefore it is well said at this time, He that is mocked of his neighbour as I am, will call upon God, and He will hear him. For whilst the wicked reproach the soul of the good, they are shewing them Whom to seek as the Witness of their actions. And while their soul in compunction braces itself in prayer, it is united within itself to the hearing of the Most High, by the same act whereby it is severed from the applause of man without itself. But we ought to note how thoughtfully the words are inserted, as I am. For there be some men whom both the scoffings of their fellow-creatures sink to the ground, and yet they are not such as to be heard by the ears of God. For when mocking issues against sin, surely no virtuous merit is begotten in that mocking. For the priests of Baal, when they called upon him with clamorous voices, were mocked by Elijah, when he said, Cry aloud; for he is a god, either he is talking, or he is staying on a journey. 1 Kings 18:27. But this mocking was conducive to the service of virtue, in that it came by the deserts of sin. So that it is advisedly said now, He that is mocked, of his friend, as I am, calleth upon God, and He heareth him. For the mockery of his fellow-creatures makes Him God’s neighbour, whom innocency of life keeps a stranger to his fellow-creatures’ wickednesses. It proceeds,

For the upright man’s simplicity is laughed to scorn.

xxix. 48. It is the wisdom of this world to overlay the heart with inventions, to veil the sense with words; things that are false to shew for true, what is true to make out fallacious. This is the wisdom that is acquired by the young by practice. This is learnt at a price by children, they that are acquainted with it are filled with pride, despising other men; they that know nothing of it, being subdued and browbeaten, admire it in others; for this same duplicity of wickedness, being glossed over by a name, is their joy and delight, so long as frowardness of mind goes by the title of urbanity. She dictates to her followers to seek the high places of honour, to triumph in attaining the vain acquisition of temporal glory; to return manifold the mischiefs that others bring upon us; when the means are with us, to give way to no man’s opposition; when the opportunity of power is lacking, all whatsoever he cannot accomplish in wickedness to represent in the guise of peaceable good nature. But on the other hand it is the wisdom of the righteous, to pretend nothing in show, to discover the meaning by words; to love the truth as it is, to eschew falsehood; to set forth good deeds for nought, to bear evil more gladly than to do it; to seek no revenging of a wrong, to account opprobrium for the Truth’s sake to be a gain. But this simplicity of the righteous is ‘laughed to scorn,’ in that the goodness of purity is taken for folly with the wise men of this world. For doubtless every thing that is done from innocency is accounted foolish by them, and whatever truth sanctions in practice sounds weak to carnal wisdom. For what seems worse folly to the world than to shew the mind by the words, to feign nothing by crafty contrivance, to return no abuse for wrong, to pray for them that speak evil of us, to seek after poverty, to forsake our possessions, not to resist him that is robbing us, to offer the other cheek to one that strikes us? Whence that illustrious Wise one of God speaks well to the lovers of this world, We shall sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians to the Lord our God. Exod. 8:26. For the Egyptians loathe to eat the flesh of sheep, but that which the Egyptians loathe, the Israelites offer up to God; for that singleness of conscience, which the unrighteous one and all scorn as a thing most mean and abject, the righteous turn into a sacrifice of virtue, and the just in their worshipping sacrifice purity and mildness to God, which the sons of perdition in abomination thereof account weakness. Which same simplicity of the righteous man is briefly yet adequately expressed, in that the words are forthwith introduced;

Ver. 5. A lamp despised in the thought of the rich.

xxx. 49. What is denoted in this place by the title of the ‘rich,’ but the highmindedness of the proud, who have no respect for the Judge that shall come, while they are swollen with proud thoughts within themselves? For there are some that by a fortune are not lifted up in pride, but elevated thereby through works of mercy. And there are some who, while they see that they overflow with earthly resources, do not look for the true riches of God, and have no affection for the eternal land, for they think that this is enough for them, that they are set up with temporal goods. The fortune then is not in fault, but the feeling. For all things that God created are good, but he who uses good things amiss, assuredly brings it about that as it were through gluttonness of greedy appetite, he perishes by the bread whereby he ought to live. The beggar Lazarus attained to rest, but torments racked the proud rich one. And yet Abraham was rich, who held Lazarus in his bosom. Yet holding commune with his Maker, he says, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes! Gen. 18:27. How then did he know to set a value on riches, who accounted himself to be dust and ashes? or how could his possessions even exalt him, who entertained such poor notions about himself who was the owner of them?

50. Yet again there are some, to whom earthly property is not vouchsafed, and yet they are set up in their own eyes, in height of swollen pride. At the same time that there is no fortune at all to uplift these to the display of power, yet the frowardness of their ways assigns them a place among the lost children of riches. All, then, that love of the life to come does not fill with abasement, the sacred word here calls rich. For in the avenging of Judgment, there is no difference to them whether they be swollen with goods, or only in disposition. These, when they see the life of the simple sort in this world to be lowly and abased, forthwith scoff at them with proud scornings; for they mark that that is wholly wanting to them without, which they pant after themselves with their best endeavours. Therefore they look down upon them as fools, who are without those things, by the having or merely loving of which they themselves in truth are perishing; and they take those for dead, whom they observe in no sort to live with themselves after the flesh. For he that dies from the desires of this world, is of course held by earthly minds to be utterly dead. Which is well represented by the miracle of our Redeemer when He frees a man from an unclean spirit, concerning which same it is written: And the spirit cried and rent him sore, and came out of him, and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, he is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up, and he arose: Mark 9:26, 27. for he looks like one dead that is set free from the power of an evil spirit. For whosoever has already got the better of earthly desires, makes the life of carnal conversation extinct in himself; and he seems dead to the world, in that he lacks the wicked one that possessed him, who urged him by impure desires; and many call him dead, in that they who know not how to live spiritually, look upon him who does not follow carnal good to be wholly lifeless.

51. But because the very scoffers at the simple ones are themselves too enrolled under the name of Christians, being overruled by reverence for religion, they are ashamed to make a display of the sin of open scoffing. Whence it happens that full of pride in themselves, and in silence, they scoff at those whom they take to be utterly mean and abject from their simplicity. Therefore it is well expressed, A lamp is despised in the thought of the rich; for all the proud, whereas they are unskilled to estimate the blessings to come, as we have said above, account him almost as nothing whom they do not see to be possessed of that which they are devoted to. For it often happens that each one of the Elect, who is being conducted to eternal bliss, is overwhelmed here with unintermitted calamity, there is no plentifulness of stores that buoys him up, no lustre from titles that makes him conspicuous, no crowd of followers falls to his lot, no pomp of raiment makes him a figure in the eyes of men, but he is regarded as an object of contempt by all men, and accounted unworthy of the regard of this world. Yet in the eyes of the hidden Judge he is bright with virtues, and full of lustre from the merits of his life; he dreads to be honoured, he never shrinks from being despised, he disciplines the body by continence, he is fattened by love alone in the soul, he ever sets his mind to bear with patience, and standing erect on the ground of righteousness, he exults in the insults he receives, he compassionates the distressed from his heart, he rejoices in the successes of the good as in his own, he carefully ruminates the provender of the sacred word in his heart, and when examined he is unskilled to give a double answer; ‘a lamp’ because he is bright within, ‘despised’ because he is not luminous without. Inwardly he glows with the flame of charity, without he shines with no gloriousness of lustre. Therefore he shines and is despised, who, while he glows with virtue, is accounted vile. Hence it is that his own father looked down upon holy David, when he refused to present him to the eyes of the Prophet Samuel. He, when he had brought out seven sons to receive the grace of anointing, being questioned by the Prophet whether he had gone through the whole number of his children, answered with despair enough, There remaineth yet a little boy that keepeth the sheep; and when he was brought forward and chosen, he heard the words, Man looketh in the face, but the Lord searcheth the heart. Thus David was a lamp by his innocency, but yet a lamp greatly despised, in that he gave no light to those that regard the outside appearance. But be it known that every righteous man is either without temporal glory, or if he has it, he breaks it beneath himself, that he may freely rise on high above his own honour, lest overcome by enjoyment he be brought down beneath it. It is hence that that illustrious Preacher lowered the glory of his Apostleship before the eyes of men, saying, We have not used this power, when we might have been burthensome as the Apostles of Christ, but we made ourselves little children among you. 1 Thess. 2:6, 7. But the swelling of the neck still remained in the heart of the hearers of that same person, when they said, For his letters say they are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. 2 Cor. 10:10. For him who they knew could say such things they determined could not live in common with themselves, and when they both saw him lowly in his mode of life and high in his tone of speech, their pride drove them on, that him whose writings had made him to be feared, his words in presence should make an object of little account. What then was Paul, saving ‘a lamp despised in the thought of the rich,’ who by the same act whereby he set forth a lesson of humility, got the affronts of highmindedness from ill-instructed disciples. For in a dreadful way, the sickness of those so filled with pride was increased by the same means, whereby it ought to have subsided; while the proud mind of carnal persons rejected, as if it were worthy of scorn that which their master set forth as deserving of imitation. Was not he ‘a lamp despised,’ who when he shone forth with so many virtues, underwent such adverse treatment at the hands of his persecutors? He discharges his mission in chains, and his bonds are made known in all the palace, he is beaten with rods, he is beset with numberless dangers from his own race and from the Gentiles; at Lystra he is battered with stones, he is dragged by the feet without the city, in that he is taken for dead. But to what point is this ‘lamp despised?’ Up to what point is it held contemptible? Does it never at any point unveil its lustre? Does it never shew, with what excess of brightness it glows? It does shew clearly. For when it is said that the ‘lamp is despised in the thought of the rich,’ it is therefore added,

Prepared for an appointed time.

xxxi. 52. For the ‘appointed time’ for ‘the despised lamp’ is the predestined Day of final Judgment, wherein it is shewn how each one of the righteous, who is now contemned, shines bright in greatness of power. For then they come as judges with God, who now are judged unjustly for God’s sake. Then their Light shines over so much the wider space, the more cruelly the persecutor’s hand confines and fetters them now. Then it will be made clear to the eyes of the wicked, that they were supported by heavenly power, who forsook all earthly things of their free will. Whence Truth saith to His own Elect; Ye which have followed Me, in the Regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Mat. 19:28. Not that the court of the interior Assize will have no more than twelve judges, but, surely, that by the number twelve the amount of the whole is described; for whosoever being urged by the incitement of divine love, has forsaken all that he possessed here, shall doubtless attain there to the height of judicial power; that he may then come as judge in company with the Judge, who now by consideration of the Judgment chastens himself with voluntary poverty. For hence it is that it is said by Solomon concerning the spouse of Holy Church, Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. Prov. 31:23. Hence Isaiah says, The Lord will come to judgment, with the elders of His people. Is. 3:14. Hence Truth proclaims these same Elders now no longer servants but friends. Henceforth I call you not servants, but I have called you friends. John 15:15. And the Psalmist regarding these same saith, Honourable also are thy friends unto me, O God. Ps. 139:17. And whilst he beheld their loftiness of mind, and how they trod down with the heel of the foot the glory of the world, he thereupon added, How stablished is their rule! And that we might not think that they be few, who we learn thus advance even to the summit of such high perfection, he thereupon added, If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand. For as many persons, then, as now wittingly abase themselves for the love of the Truth, so many lamps shall then blaze forth in the Judgment. Therefore let it be justly said, A lamp despised in the thought of the rich, prepared for the appointed time; for the soul of every righteous man is despised as abject, when in passing through life he is without glory; but he is beheld as an object to admire, when he shines from on high.

53. Amid these things it is good to lift the eye of the mind to the paths of our Redeemer, and to proceed step by step from the members to the head. For He did Himself prove truly ‘a lamp’ to us, Who by dying upon the Cross for our redemption, poured light through the wood into our benighted minds. John had attained to see that we are lightened by this Lamp, when he said, That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. John 1:9. Yet he saw it ‘despised in the thought of the rich,’ when he soon after brought in, He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. ver. 11. Herod desired to examine into the flames of this Lamp, when he longed to see the miracles of that One, as it is written, For he was desirous to see Him of a long season, because he had heard many things of Him, and he hoped to have seen some miracles done by Him. ALLEG. Luke 23:8. But this Lamp did not shine forth before his eyes with a single ray of light, in that to him, who sought Him not from piety but from curiosity, He exhibited nothing wonderful concerning Himself. For our Redeemer when He was questioned held His peace, when He was looked for, He scorned to shew forth His miracles, and keeping Himself to Himself in secret, those whom He found looking for outward things He left in their ingratitude without, rather choosing to be openly despised by those who were led by pride, than to be commended with empty voice by those that did not believe. And hence this ‘Lamp’ is straightway ‘despised,’ according to what is there added, And Herod with his men of war set Him at nought, and mocked Him, and arrayed Him in a gorgeous robe. Luke 23:11.

54. Yet the ‘despised lamp,’ which is subject to scoffings on earth, flashes judgment from heaven. Hence it is justly added here, prepared for an appointed season. Concerning which same season He saith by the Psalmist, When I shall receive the time, I will judge uprightly. Ps. 75:2. Hence in the Gospel ‘Truth’ declareth, saying, My time is not yet come. John 7:6. Hence Peter saith, Whom the heaven must receive until the times of the restitution of all things. Acts 3:21. Therefore the ‘Lamp’ which is now ‘despised’ is ‘prepared’ for its coming ‘at the appointed season.’ For He by Himself judgeth sin on the last Day, Who now bears with the scoffs of sinners, and then He brings out severity the more rigorously, the more mildly He now spreads low His patience in calling sinners. For he that awaits long while for some to be converted, if they be not converted, torments them without revoke. Which same truth he conveys by the Prophet in few words, saying, I have long time holden my peace, I have been still and refrained myself; now will I cry like a travailing woman. Is. 42:14. For as we have already before said, a woman in travail with pain gives forth that which she bore for long in her inmost parts. He then that for long time held his peace,’ crieth like a travailing woman,’ in that the Judge that shall come, Who for long bore with the deeds of men without taking vengeance, sooner or later brings to light with hotness of examination, as if with pain of mind, the sentence of direful visiting which He kept within. Therefore let none despise this Lamp, when it is out of sight, lest He burn up His despisers when He shineth from heaven. For to whomsoever He does not now burn to give pardon, He shall then assuredly burn to award punishment. Therefore because by grace from above we are vouchsafed the season of our calling, whilst there is still the room left, let us by altering our ways for the better flee from the wrath of Him, Who is every where present. For him alone that visitation fails to find, whom correction keeps in hiding.

55. Let it suffice for us by the Lord’s bounty to have now run through these particulars in two volumes. For because we cannot embrace in a brief exposition the following parts of the sacred book, drawn out in the stream of mysteries, we must of necessity reserve them for other sheets, that the reader may return the more ardent to the task of reading, in proportion as he has breathing given him by the interruption of what is read.








Copyright ©1999-2018 e-Catholic2000.com