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

Twenty-two verses of the thirty-eighth chapter, from the twelfth to the thirty-third inclusive, are explained; and many truths are taught, especially concerning the arts and snares of Satan, grace, predestination, reprobation, and the secret judgments of God.

1. OUR Lord Jesus Christ, in that He is the Power and Wisdom of God, is born of the Father before all times, or rather, because He neither began, nor ceased to be born, let us say more truly that He was ever born. Yet we cannot say, He is ever being born, lest He should seem imperfect. But in order that He may be designated both eternal and perfect, let us say that He was even ever born, so that ‘born’ may relate to His perfection, and ‘ever’ to His eternity. In order that, in some way or another, that Essence which is without time may be able to be described in words of time. Although in calling Him perfect, we deviate much from the expression of His truth, since that which has not been made, cannot be called perfect. And yet the Lord says, condescending to our words of infirmity, Be ye perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matt. 5:48. In that Divine Sonship therefore He could not be discerned by the human race, wherefore He came in human nature, to be seen; He wished to be seen, in order to be imitated. Which birth of the flesh appeared contemptible to the wise ones of the world; for they despised the weaknesses of His humanity, judging them unworthy of God. And man was the more His debtor, the more God took on Himself indignities for his sake. For since the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. 1 Cor. 1:21. As if He were saying, When the world by its wisdom found not God, Who is Wisdom itself, it seemed good that it should behold God made Man through the foolishness of humanity, in order that His Wisdom might come down to our folly, and that our darkness, when enlightened by means of the clay of its own flesh, might behold the light of heavenly Wisdom. Born therefore of the Father, before all time, He deigned to be born of His Mother in time, in order that by confining His birth between a beginning and an end, He might disclose to eyes of the human mind that birth, which neither rises from a beginning, nor is bounded by an end. Whence it is now well said to blessed Job,

Ver. 12. Hast thou commanded the morning since thy birth, and hast thou shewn to the day-spring its place?

ii. 2. Thou understandest, as I. For the origin of His Divinity has no before and after. And while Its ever being is through all eternity, while It circumscribes every thing which passes away, It bounds within Itself the ebbings and flowings of times. But because the origin of His Humanity began and ended, It received from time a before and after. But because, when He took on Himself the shadows of our temporal being, He shed on us the light of His eternity, after this beginning which the Creator made for Himself in time, the day-spring rightly learned its own place without time. For because the dawn, or day-spring, is turned from darkness into light, the whole Church of the Elect is, not improperly, designated by the name of dawn, or day-spring. For whilst it is brought from the night of unbelief to the light of faith, it is laid open to the splendour of heavenly brightness, as the dawn bursts into day after the darkness. Whence it is also well said in the Song of Songs, Who is she that cometh forth as the rising dawn? Sol. Song 6:10. For Holy Church, seeking for the rewards of the heavenly life, is called the dawn, because, while it leaves the darkness of sin, it shines with the light of righteousness.

3. But we have a deeper point to examine, on considering the nature of the dawn, or day-spring. For the day-spring, or dawn, announces that night has already passed, but yet does not present to us the full brightness of day: but whilst they dispel the one, and take up the other, they keep the light intermingled with darkness. What then are all we who follow the truth in this life, but day-spring, or dawn?

Because we now both do some things which are of the light, and yet are hitherto not free from some remains of the darkness. For it is said to God by the Prophet, In Thy sight shall no man living be justified. Ps. 143:2. And it is written again, In many things we offend all. James 3:2. Paul also says, I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and leading me captive to the law of sin which is in my members. Rom. 7:23. Where then the law of sin is contending with the law of the mind, there is surely still day-break; because the light, which has already shone forth, has not yet entirely overpowered the passing darkness. It is yet day-break; because while the law of the flesh assails the law of the mind, and the law of the mind that of the flesh, light and darkness are contending one against the other. Whence, when Paul was saying again, The night is far spent; Rom. 13:12. he did not subjoin, ‘The day has come,’ but, The day is at hand. For he who says, after the departure of night, not that the day ‘has arrived,’ but that it is ‘at hand,’ doubtless proves that he is still in twilight before the sun, and after the darkness.

4. But the Church of the Elect will then be fully day, when the shade of sin will be no longer blended with it. It will then be fully day, when it has been brightened with the perfect warmth of the inward light. It will be then fully day, when tolerating no longer the seducing remembrance of its sins, it will conceal from itself even all the remains of darkness. Whence also this dawn is well pointed out as still only in progress, when it is said, And hast thou shewn to the day-spring its place? For that, whose place is pointed out, is certainly being called from one condition to another. For what is the place of dawn but the perfect brightness of the eternal vision? And when it has been conducted and has arrived thither, it has no longer any of the darkness of the past night. But now, when it is still enduring the annoyances of temptations, because the Church is in intention of heart hastening to another condition, the dawn is proceeding to its place. But if it did not behold this spot with its mind, it would still remain in the night of this life. But when it is daily striving to be perfected, and daily to be increased in light, it already beholds its place, and seeks for the sun to shine fully upon it. The dawn considers its place, when a holy soul is burning to contemplate the sight of its Creator. The dawn was busily engaged in reaching its place, when David was saying, My soul thirsteth for the living God; when shall I come and appear before the face of God? Ps. 42:2. The Truth was pointing out its place to the dawn, when It was saying by Solomon, For what hath the wise more than the fool? and what the poor, except to go thither where there is life? Eccles. 6:8. And this place our Lord after His birth doubtless manifested even to the Patriarchs who preceded His Incarnation; because unless they knew, by the spirit of Prophecy, that the King of their heavenly country was to become Incarnate, they would not see how desirable are the goods of this same country. The Truth made known its place to the dawn, when in the presence of His disciples He asked His Father, saying, Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am. John 17:24. He pointed out its place to the dawn, when saying, Wheresoever the carcase is, there will also the eagles be gathered together. Mat. 24:28. The dawn was hastening to arrive at this place, which it had known, when Paul was saying that he had a desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. Phil. 1:23. And again, To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ib. 21. And again, We know that if our earthly house of this habitation were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Cor. 5:1. But He well says that He shewed its place to the dawn after His birth, because before He Himself made known the blessedness of future retribution by His own Body, He confined it in the knowledge of a few. But when He took the infirmities of a human birth, He extended the knowledge of coming glory in the love of a countless multitude. But because compassion so carries on the mystery of the Divine work, that anger still attends it, in order that the secret Judge may look favourably on and ransom some, and pass over and ruin others, since we have learnt how He enlightens the Elect by His Incarnation, let us now hear how He condemns the reprobate. It follows;

Ver. 13. Hast Thou held and shaken the ends of the earth, and hast Thou shaken the wicked out of it?

iii. 5. The Lord ‘held the ends of the earth,’ because He came in the end of the world to the synagogue which was now forsaken and subject to foreign kings: and He shook the wicked out of it, because He cast out even from the glory of the carnal sacrifice, those who denied the spiritual preaching of the faith. Or He certainly held the ends of the earth, because He chose out of Judæa a few abject and humble men. He held the ends of the earth, because He forsook the doctors of the law, and chose fishermen. And while He holds the ends of the earth, He shakes the wicked out of it, because while He strengthens weak believers, He condemns the sturdy unbelievers therein. But the word ‘shaking,’ He also rightly added: because by His coming He stirred up even the hearts of the reprobates with immeasurable fear. For they in truth were shaken who were saying, We prevail nothing, behold, the whole world is gone after Him. John 12:19. But a thing which is shaken is wearied out by being drawn hither and thither. Judæa therefore had been shaken, which was saying of Christ by some, That He is a good Man, John 7:12 and was resisting Him by others, saying, Nay; but He deceiveth the people. It was saying by some, If this Man were not of God, He could do nothing. John 9:33. And at last it exclaims by others, If this Man were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered Him up unto thee. John 18:30. The reprobate were shaken indeed but not prostrated, when at one time they beheld the miracles with wonder, and at another despised and derided the disgraces of His weakness. Had not they been shaken, who were saying, How long dost Thou hold our soul in suspense? If Thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. John 10:24. Or He certainly shook and held the ends of the earth, because when He terrified the feeble hearts of the humble with pious fear He did not abandon them to strict judgment. For the multitude of the believers in God stood more firmly, from the same reason that it was alarmed when humbled in itself. For that God holds firm the person whom He shakes He teaches by the Prophet, saying, On whom shall My Spirit rest, but on the humble and quiet, and Him who trembleth at My words? Is. 66:2. see LXX. That He holds the person whom He shakes, is intimated by the testimony of Solomon, who says, Happy is the man who feareth alway, but he that is of a hard heart shall fall into mischief. Prov. 28:14. Because therefor the Lord held the ends of Judæa in the Apostles, and rejected therefrom the Scribes, and Pharisees, and High Priests, as the merit of their iniquity demanded, let us hear what is still added respecting their condemnation. It follows;

Ver. 14. The seal shall be restored as clay, and shall stand as a garment.

iv. 6. What else but ‘clay’ did the Lord find the people of Israel, whom He came unto when given up to the practices of the Gentiles, and toiling at bricks in Egypt? And whilst He led it forth by so many miracles to the land of promise, and filled it, when brought thither, with the knowledge of His wisdom, whilst He conferred on it so many secret mysteries by means of Prophecy, what else did He make it but a ‘seal’ for preserving His mystery? For Divine Prophecy itself kept secret, whatever the Truth revealed of Itself at the end. But when, after so many Divine secrets, after the many miracles which it witnessed at the coming of our Redeemer, it loved its land, in preference to the truth, (saying by the Priests, If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will come, and take away our place and nation;) John 11:48. it returned, as it were, to those bricks, which it had left in Egypt: and that which had been made the seal of God, turned back again to that which it had abandoned. And, having been a ‘seal,’ it appeared as ‘clay’ in the eyes of the Truth, when it lost, through the wickedness of impiety, the mysteries of the word, which it had received, and chose to savour only of the things of earth, which pollute.

7. Where it is fitly subjoined, And shall stand as a garment. For because garments which are unfinished and of thicker texture, even when put on, do not adhere, nor are well fitted to the limbs of the wearer, they are said to stand. Judæa therefore, even when it seemed to be labouring in the knowledge of the truth, stood as a garment; because it professed to serve God in external commands, but refused to cling to Him by the understanding of love. While it observed the letter only, in the precepts of God, and did not through the Spirit unite itself to their inmost meanings, it did not cling, so to speak, to Him Who had put it on. Where it is also fitly subjoined,

Ver. 15. From the wicked their light shall be taken away.

v. 8. Because, while they refuse to believe the truth, they lose for ever the knowledge of the Law, and while they boast of having received the Law, they are, doubtless, blinded by boasting of their knowledge. For it is written, Let their eyes be darkened that they see not. Ps. 69:23. And again it is written, Blind the hearts of this people, and make their ears heavy. Is. 6:10. And again it is written, For judgment I have come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. John 9:39. And because they boasted themselves in the works of the Law against the Giver of the Law, it is fitly subjoined;

And the high arm shall be broken.

vi. 9. For the high arm is broken, when the proud works of the Law are reproved, by preaching the grace of faith, when it is said, By the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified. Rom. 3:20.

10. But all these words can be understood in another sense also. For Holy Scripture is wont to call the Church ‘earth.’ The Lord therefore holds and shakes the ends of the earth, because He allows the ends of His Church to be agitated by most cruel persecution through the coming of Antichrist, and yet forsakes her not, by permitting it. Sometimes the Lord holds this earth, and shakes it not; sometimes He holds and shakes it; because He possesses it at one time with the tranquil peace of faith, at another orders it to be disturbed with the assault of persecution.

11. But when saying, Hast thou held and shaken the ends of the earth, He rightly added immediately, And hast thou shaken the wicked out of it? For as Paul bears witness, there are many therein, who profess that they know God, but in works deny Him. Tit. 1:16. The Lord therefore shakes the wicked out of it, because those, whom deep-seated sins possess, will then fall into the gulph of open unbelief, and pass over to the heap of chaff, when moved by the breath of that temptation. And though they now conceal themselves within the bosom of the threshing floor, under the semblance of faith, they will then, doubtless, bound forth from the heap of grain, by the fan of strict judgment.

12. Whence it is also fitly subjoined, The seal shall be restored, as clay. As if he were openly saying; They who now appear in the bosom of the Church as a ‘seal,’ will then in the sight of all men be restored as ‘clay:’ that is, they deceive not the judgments of men concerning their profession of religion, but it is proved that they savour of earthly things. For Holy Scripture is wont to use the word ‘seal’ for faith, and ‘clay’ for iniquity. For the younger son, who returned to his father, having consumed his substance, received a ring as a present. For the Gentile people, which returns to God, by penitence, having lost its immortality, is defended by the seal of faith. Whence also it is said to the Church by its Bridegroom, Set Me as a seal upon thine heart. Sol. Song 8:6. For a seal is placed on things for the very purpose that they may not be violated by any boldness of plunderers. The Bridegroom therefore is placed as a seal on the heart, when the mystery of His faith is imprinted for the safe keeping of our thought; in order that that unfaithful servant, namely our adversary, observing our hearts sealed by faith, may not presume to break in upon them with temptation. But by ‘clay’ worldly infection is set forth, as the Psalmist bears witness, who says, He brought me up out of the pit of misery, and the deepest clay. Ps. 40:2. Because many then who are found in worldly infection, are sealed, when brought to the Church, with the sacrament of heavenly faith, and yet depart not from their wicked deeds, and conceal themselves now under the cloke of faith, and yet shew what they really are, when they have found an opportunity, it is rightly said, The seal shall be restored as clay. For those whom we now believe to be faithful, we shall then find to be the very enemies of the faith; and though, when not tempted, they appear to be a seal,’ they will doubtless, when tempted, be ‘clay.’ Whence also it is rightly said, Shall be restored: for their reprobate life proves them afterwards to be such, as their conscience could have done before their faith. Of whom it is fitly subjoined, And shall stand as a garment.

13. For Holy Church is now clothed as it were with garments, is many in number as the faithful, by whose veneration she is honoured. Whence also when the Gentiles were shewn to her, it is said by the Lord through the Prophet; As I live, saith the Lord, thou shalt surely be clothed with all these, as with an ornament. Is. 49:18. But she is now arrayed, in appearance only, with many who seem to be faithful, but when the assault of persecution strikes them, she will be stripped of them and laid bare; of whose fate it is said, And it shall stand as a garment. But to ‘stand’ is put in this place for persisting in sin. Whence it is written, And stood not in the way of sinners. Ps. 1:1. Or certainly every reprobate is said to ‘stand as a garment,’ to shew that he cannot stand at all. Because, as a garment, when put on, is stretched by the body, in displaying its appearance, but when taken off is bent and folded together; so every one, who has fallen back from the stability of Holy Church, was stretched out, as it were, and beautiful, while being worn, but will lie afterwards, when stripped off, broken down and cast aside. But if by ‘standing’ we understand ‘continuance,’ every reprobate person who endures a short time in this life, which he loves, stands as a garment. Whence also it is said by the Prophet, All shall wax old as a garment, and as a covering shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed. Ps. 102:26. These points therefore, which he introduced veiled in a cloud of allegory he now makes known in plainer words, adding, From the wicked their light shall he taken away.

vii. 14. For neither does the light of God now illumine those who veil the malice of their iniquity with the name of faith. For while they neglect to live according to the preaching of faith, and yet in appearance reverence it, they seek for the honour of this present life under the name of religion; and they gain this light from faith, as faith cherishes them in the sight of men. But there are some who sincerely believe the eternal truths which they hear, and yet contradict by evil living the very faith which they profess. These also have their light in darkness, for while they act perversely and yet think rightly about God, they are illumined in a measure by the shining of a light, so as not to be quite in darkness And while they love the things of earth more than those of heaven, those that they see more than those they hear of when the season of persecution assaults them, they lose that sound belief they seemed to possess. And this is specially the case, in a greater degree, at that time, when the head of the wicked himself arising, in the last persecution, against Holy Church, his boldness attacks it with unrestrained strength. Then is the heart of each one laid open, when whatever lay concealed is exposed, and they who are now holy in words, but unholy in heart, fall headlong, on their wickedness being made public, and lose the light of faith which they had in appearance possessed. But it is necessary, amidst all this, for each of us to return to the hidden recess of his heart, and to fear at the fatal results of his doings, lest he fall, as his merits demand, into the number of such men, by the strict justice of the judgments of God.

15. But let no one inconsiderately flatter himself, and believe that he therefore is exempt from such a fall, because he thinks that he does not reach to the storm of this tempest. O how many have beheld not the times of that temptation, and yet are involved in the storm of his temptation. Cain saw not the time of Antichrist, and yet was deservedly a limb of Antichrist. Judas knew not the fierceness of that persecution, and yet yielded to the might of his cruelty, by the persuasion of avarice. Simon was far removed from the times of Antichrist, and yet joined himself to his pride, by perversely seeking for the power of miracles. Thus a wicked body is united to its head, thus limbs to limbs, when they both know not each other in acquaintance, and yet are joined together by wicked doings. For neither had Pergamos known the books or the words of Balaam, and yet, following his wickedness, it heard in a voice of reproof from above; Thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat and to commit fornication. Rev. 2:14. Both times and places separated the Church of Thyatira from the knowledge of Jezebel; but because equal guilt of life had enthralled it, Jezebel is said to dwell therein, and to persist in perverse doings, as the Angel bears witness, who says; I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. ib. 20. Behold, because they could be found, who followed the conduct of Jezebel in their reprobate deeds, Jezebel is said to have been found there: because an agreement of habits makes a corrupt body one, even if times or places sever it asunder. Whence it is that every wicked person, who has already gone by, survives in his perverse imitators, and that the author of iniquity, who has not yet come, is already visible in those who do his works. Hence John says; Now are there become many Antichrists, 1 John 2:18. because all wicked persons are even now his members, which being in truth born in wickedness, have prevented their head, by evil living. Hence Paul says, That he might be revealed in his time; for the mystery of iniquity doth already work. 2 Thess 2:6, 7. As if he were saying; Then Antichrist will be manifestly seen; for he now secretly works his hidden works in the hearts of the unrighteous. For, to say nothing of more open crimes, behold one man secretly envies his brother in his heart, and if he find an opportunity, strives to supplant him. Of what other is he a member, but of him, of whom it is written, Through envy of the devil came death into the world? Wisd. 2:24. Another, thinking himself a person of great desert, preferring himself to all, through swelling of heart, believes all to be inferior to him. Of what other is he a member, but of him of whom it is written, He beholdeth every high thing, and is a king over all the children of pride? Job 41:34. Another seeks for the power of this world, not that he may profit others, but that he may not be subject to another. Of what other is he a member, than of him, of whom it is written, Who said, I will sit in the mount of the testament, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High? Is. 14:13, 14. For the Most High alone so rules over all things, as to be unable to be subject to another. Whom the devil perversely wished to imitate, when seeking dominion of his own, he refused to be subject to Him. Whoever therefore seeks for power of his own, imitates the devil, because he loathes to submit to him who is placed over him by Divine ordinance.

16. There are many things besides, to proclaim certain persons to be faithless, though established in the peace of the Church. For I see that some persons so accept the person of the powerful, as not to hesitate, when requested by him, to deny, for his good will, the truth in the cause of a neighbour. And who is Truth, but He who said, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life? John 14:6. For John the Baptist died not, when questioned about his confession of Christ, but about the truth of justice; but because Christ is the Truth, he therefore went even to death for Christ, because namely for the truth. Let us suppose that a person has, when questioned, accepted the person of the powerful, and has denied the truth, that he might not suffer the wrong even of a word. What, I pray you, would he do in the pain of punishments, who was ashamed of Christ among the scourges of words? Behold, even after this he is still a Christian before the eyes of men, and yet if God resolved to judge him strictly, he is one no longer.

17. But I see others, to whom are assigned, through their position as teachers, the duties of exhorting and reproving, who behold some unlawfulness committed, and who yet, when afraid of losing the good will of certain powerful persons, presume not to reprove it. What else doth he, whoever he be, but see the wolf coming, and flee away? He flies, because he was silent; he was silent, because he despised eternal grace, and preferred temporal glory. Behold he hid himself within the concealments of his silence before the face of a powerful man, and gave way as to open persecution, so also to secret fear. It is well said of such; They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. John 12:43. If these things are strictly judged, whoever is such, even though public persecution was wanting, yet denied Christ by his silence. There are not wanting then, even in the peace of the Church, the temptations of Antichrist. Let no one then dread those times of the last persecution, as though the only ones. For the cause of Antichrist is continually promoted among the ungodly, because he is even now secretly working his mystery in their hearts. And even of many, now seemingly established within the Church, pretend to be what they are not, they will yet at the coming of the Judge be exposed, as they are. Of whom Solomon well says, I saw the wicked buried, who even when they lived here, were in the holy place, and were praised in the city, as men of just works. Eccles. 8:10. After it was said then of the wicked; The seal shall be restored as clay, and shall stand as a garment, and their light shall be taken away from the wicked, (which is certainly to take place in that persecution of Antichrist,) he presently, consoling us concerning the destruction of the same Antichrist, says;

And the high arm shall be broken.

viii. 18. For, for what else is the high arm taken, but the proud loftiness of Antichrist, who is so exalted over the reprobate minds of men with the pride of worldly glory, that though a sinful man, and yet scorning to be counted a man, he pretends falsely that he is God above men? Whence the Apostle Paul says; So that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself, as if he were God. 2 Thess. 2:4. And to shew his pride more fully, he stated before, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. For even a man can sometimes be called God, according to that which is said to Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh. Exod. 7:1. But a mere man cannot be worshipped as God. But because Antichrist sets himself up over all holy men, and over the power of the Godhead Itself, he endeavours to surpass that which is called God, and that which is worshipped as God, by demanding for himself the name of glory. But we must observe into what a depth of pride he has fallen, who remained not in that degree of ruin, in which he fell. For both the devil and man fell, by pride, from the state of their own creation, either for him to say, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High, Is. 14:14. or for the other to hear and to believe, Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods. Gen. 3:5. They fell, therefore, both of them, because they desired to be like God, not by righteousness, but by power. But man who had fallen, by perversely aiming at the likeness of God, discerning, when freed by grace, that he was very different from God, through the guilt of sin, exclaims, O Lord, who is like unto Thee? Ps. 89:8. But the devil, having been justly cast aside in his sinful lapse, continued not in his own degree of ruin; but the longer he was deprived of the grace of the Almighty, the more did he add to the guilt of his sins. For he who fell, because he wished inverting the order of things, to be like God, was brought so far, that entering into Antichrist, he scorned to seem like God, and, when condemned, counts Him as his inferior Whom he could not in his pride regard as his equal. For when this, which we have stated before, is said of him. Exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; 2 Thess 2:4. it is openly shewn, that by seeking at first the likeness of God, he wished, as it were, to exalt himself against God, but that increasing in the sin of pride, he now sets himself up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. Because then this his pride will be smitten by the coming of the strict Judge, (as it is written, Whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming,) 2 Thess. 2:8. it is rightly said, And the high arm shall be broken.

19. But all these expressions, which have been twice discussed, can be still understood in another sense. For the words of God are conserves, as it were, to give us strength. And just as, the more a conserve is ground, the more does its virtue increase in the cup; so the more we bruise the Divine words by expounding them, the more, when we hear them, are we benefited, as if by the draught. Because therefore the merciful God long bears with the sins of men, and frequently converts the minds of sinners, when He sees the end now approaching, He rightly says of Himself, as suggesting the might of so great affection,

Ver. 13. Hast thou held and shaken the ends of the earth, and hast thou shaken the wicked out of it?

ix. 20. For by ‘earth’ is designated man, who savours of things below; to whom it was said in his sin; Earth thou art, and to earth shalt thou go. Gen. 3:19. But because the merciful Creator forsakes not His own work, He both bears with the sins of men, by His wisdom, and at last remits them by their conversion. But, when He beholds hard and insensible minds, He scares them at one time with threats, at another with blows, at another with revelations: in order that those which had become hardened by most fatal security may be softened by wholesome fear, so that they may, though at last, return, and blush at least at this, that they have long been waited for. For thus the Lord, because He judges more severely the ends of our life, therefore purges also His Elect more carefully at the close. For it is written; God shall judge the ends of the earth. 1 Sam. 2:10. He therefore watches more anxiously over our closing deeds, the more He considers that the beginnings of our coming life depend upon them. And because He does this of His mercy; by bringing forward His tenderness, with which He receives even those sinners who have been converted at the last, He instructs the righteousness of blessed Job, saying; Hast thou held and shaken the ends of the earth, and hast thou shaken the wicked out of it? Thou understandest, As I, Who frequently arouse sinners by alarming them at their last moments, hold them fast by converting them, and pluck from their hearts the wicked motions of their thoughts. And the Lord rightly teaches blessed Job, how He converts sinners at the end. As if He openly said, Observe the power of My mercy, and bring down the pride of thy righteousness. But, that that punishment of former sin accompanies these closing hours of a man, through the death of the flesh, even when he is converted, He immediately teaches, saying;

Ver. 14. The seal shall be restored as clay, and shall stand as a garment.

x. 21. For the Lord made man, whom He fashioned after His own likeness, as a kind of seal of His power. But yet it shall be restored as clay; because, though he may by conversion escape eternal sufferings, yet he is condemned by the death of the flesh, in punishment of the pride he has committed. For man, who has been formed from clay, and adorned with the likeness of the Divine image, having received the gift of reason, forgets, when swelling with pride of heart, that he was formed of the basest materials. Whence it hath been ordered by the marvellous justice of the Creator, that, because he became proud in consequence of that reasonable sense which he received, he should again by death become earth, which he was unwilling humbly to regard himself. And because he lost the likeness of God by sin, but returns by death to the substance of his own clay, it is rightly said; The seal shall be restored as clay. And because, when the spirit is summoned from the body, it is stripped, as it were, of its kind of covering of flesh, it is fitly subjoined of the same clay; and shall stand as a garment. For, for our clay to stand as a garment is for it to remain empty and stripped off, even till the time of the resurrection. But because even they do not escape this punishment of pride, who overcome this very pride by living humbly, He subjoins what is the special punishment of the proud, saying;

Ver. 15. From the wicked their light shall be taken away, and the high arm shall be broken.

xi. 22. For the death of the flesh, which restores the Elect to their light, takes away their light from the reprobate. For the light of the proud is the glory of this present life. And that light is then withdrawn from it, when it is called by the death of the flesh, to the darkness of its own retributions. For then is the high arm there broken, because loftiness of heart, which has been violently seized on, beyond the order of nature, is scattered by the weight of Divine justice which overwhelms it, in order that how wickedly it had exalted itself for a while, it may learn when it is crushed for ever by the weight of judgment. But none of us would know what was to follow after death, did not the Creator of our life come even to the punishment of our death. For did He not of His own mercy seek the lowest condition, He could not justly bring back to the highest, us, who were lost after we had received His likeness. Whence it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 16. Hast thou entered into the depth of the sea, and hast thou walked in the lowest parts of the abyss?

xii. 23. As if He said, As I, Who not only sought the sea, that s this world, by assuming the flesh and soul of a man, but also descended by that flesh voluntarily subjected to death, to the bottom of the pit, as if to the depths of the sea. For if the ‘sea’ must be understood to mean the world after the manner of Scripture language, nothing hinders the ‘depths of the sea’ from meaning the bars of the pit. But the Lord sought this depth of the sea, when He entered the lowest parts of the pit, in order to rescue the souls of His Elect. Whence also it is said by the Prophet, Thou hast made the depths of the sea a way, for the ransomed to pass over. Is. 51:10. For his depth of the sea was, before the coming of the Redeemer, not a way, but a prison, because it confined within it even the souls of the good, though not in places of punishment. But the Lord made this depth a way, because He, by coming hither, granted His Elect to pass over from the bars of he pit to heavenly places. Whence it is there fitly said, for the ransomed to pass over. But that which He had called the depths of the sea, repeating in other words He calls the lowest parts of the abyss: because as the abyss of waters is not comprehended by our sight, so are the secrets of the pit not penetrated by us with any sense of our understanding. For we behold who are withdrawn hence, but we see not what retribution of punishments awaits them according to their desert.

24. But we must carefully notice, that He says that He had walked in the lowest parts of the abyss. For to walk belongs not to one who is bound, but to one who is free. For fetters impede to a like extent the steps of him whom they bind. Because then the Lord endured no bonds of sin, He walked in the pit. For He came unfettered to those who were bound. Whence it is written, I am become as a man without help, free among the dead. Ps. 88:4, 5. For the Lord then to walk in the lowest parts of the abyss is for Him to find nothing to detain Him in the place of damnation, as Peter bears witness, who says, Having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible for Him to be holden of it. Acts 2:24. Or certainly, (because, when we are led in walking from place to place, we are found present here and there,) the Lord is said to have walked in the pit, in order to shew that He was present to Elect souls in their several places, by the power of His Godhead. Whence also the spirit of wisdom is described as full of motion, that by means of that which is no where absent, He might be described as meeting us every where. And this descent of His, our Lord regards as more marvellous the more frequently He makes mention of it to ransomed man. For repeating it again, He subjoins;

Ver. 17. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee and hast thou seen the gloomy doors?

xiii. 25. For the ‘gates of death’ are the adverse powers. Which the Lord descended and opened, because by dying He overcame their strength. Which are by another appellation called the ‘gloomy doors,’ because while they are not seen, by reason of their crafty concealment, they open to deceived minds the way of death. Which gloomy doors the Lord beholds; because He both observes and represses the crafty malice of unclean spirits. And did He not, by beholding restrain them, while we know them not, our mind would both know nothing of their snares, and would be taken and perish by them. But even we behold these gloomy gates, when we are illumined with rays of heavenly light. Whence also it is said by the Prophet, The Lord is my helper, and I shall see mine enemies. Ps. 118:7. He therefore Himself beholds our enemies, Who by His gift makes our enemies visible to us. Or certainly, the Lord then beheld the gloomy gates, when penetrating the barriers of the pit, He smote the cruel spirits, and by His death condemned them that presided over death. Which is here spoken of no longer as of a future, but as of a past event; for this reason, because that which He intended to do in deed, He had already done in predestination. But because the Church increased after His death and resurrection, and was extended in all nations, it is fitly subjoined;

Ver. 18. Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth?

xiv. 26. For whilst the Lord sought the narrowness of death, He spread abroad His faith in the nations, and extended Holy Church to numberless hearts of believers. To whom it is said by the Prophet, Enlarge the place of thy tent, and extend the curtains of thy tabernacles; spare not, lengthen thy cords, and strengthen thy stakes: for thou shalt penetrate to the right hand and to the left, and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles. Is. 54:2, 3. But this breadth of the earth would surely not exist, had He not first despised, in dying, the life which we know, and pointed out by His rising again, the life which we know not. For He opened by His death the eyes of our minds, and shewed us what was the life which was to follow. Whence also, observing this order in the Gospel, He says to His disciples, Thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name through all nations. Luke 24:46, 47. For few of the people of Israel believed at His preaching, but numberless peoples of the Gentiles followed the way of life, on His death. For He endured the proud, while He was still living in a suffering condition, but He overthrew them when dead to a life of suffering. Which Samson long before well typified in himself, for he slew but few during his life; but on the destruction of the temple he slew a host of enemies, at his death. Because the Lord doubtless killed but few from their pride and haughtiness when alive, but more, when the Temple of His body was broken in pieces: and the Elect from the Gentiles, whom He endured in His life, He subdued all at once by His death. After then He had taught us that He had penetrated the regions below, He rightly subjoined immediately the breadth of the earth to be considered, Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth? As if He were saying to man when scourged, Think on what I have endured, and consider what I have purchased; and complain not thyself of the rod, when thou art ignorant what rewards await thee, in retribution. In the midst then of these words of the Creator, I think it worth while for us to turn away our eyes for a while from the common and public good, and to observe what He secretly does with each of ourselves. For He says;

Ver. 16. Hast thou entered the depth of the sea?

xv. 27. For the ‘sea’ is the mind of man, and God enters its depths, when it is roused from its inmost thoughts to lamentations of penitence through its knowledge of itself, when He calls to its memory the wickednesses of its former life, and rouses the mind which is agitated by its own confusion. God penetrates the depth of the sea, when He changes hearts, which are even despaired of. For He goes into the sea, when He humbles a worldly heart; He enters the depth of the sea, when He disdains not to visit minds which are even overwhelmed with sins. Whence it is rightly added in a question; And hast thou walked in the lowest parts of the abyss? For what abyss is there, but the human mind, which while unable to comprehend itself, is like an obscure abyss, hid from itself, in every thing that it is. Whence it is well said by the Prophet, The abyss uttered its voice from the depth of its thought. Hab. 3:10. For whilst the human mind does not dive into itself, it praises more humbly, by comparison with itself, the power of the Divine nature, which it is unable to comprehend.

28. For God then to walk in the lowest parts of the abyss, is for Him to convert the hearts even of the wickedest men, and, by touching minds which are despaired of, with traces of His visitation, wonderfully to refashion them. For when any one feels compunction after enormous sins, what else is beheld but God walking in the lowest parts of the abyss? For God walks, as it were, in the abyss, when He penetrates the gloomy heart, and tramples down the invisible waves of sins. For we frequently lament some sins past, and are being assaulted by others present; so that we are harassed at one time by pride, at another by anger, at another by lust, and at another by avarice tempting us. But when the Lord suppresses all these in our heart by the fear of His secret visitation, what else doth He but place His steps in the abyss? Which steps we behold with the mind, when we consider how the gifts of His fear stand up to oppose these rebellious sins. For the Prophet had beheld these steps, when He was saying, Thy goings were seen, O God, the goings of my God, my King, Who is in His holy place. Ps. 68:24. For He who beholds the inordinate motions of his mind restrained within him by the memory of the Divine judgments, beholds, as it were, the steps of God walking within him. Let it be said, therefore, to blessed Job; Hast thou entered the depth of the sea, and hast thou walked in the lowest parts of the abyss? Thou understandest, as I, Who with wondrous pity trample down in the hearts of sinners, at one time anger, at another lust, at another avarice, at another rising pride. As if it were plainly said to him, If thou seest that I alone suppress the lurking vices of the heart, thou wilt cease to be puffed up with self-justification. And because when we are visited by God, we are led to confession concerning even the secret and unlawful motions of our mind, it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 17. Have the gates of death been opened unto thee?

xvi. 29. For the gates of death are wicked thoughts: which we open to God, when we confess them with weeping in penitence. For He beholds them even when not confessed; but enters into them, when confessed. For He then in truth opens a way for Himself in the gates of death, when we have but aside evil thoughts, and He comes to us after confession. And they are called the gates of death for this reason, because the way to death is always opened through evil thoughts. Which is again repeated, when it is subjoined;

And hast thou seen the gloomy doors?

30. For the gloomy doors are the lurking evils of the mind, which can both exist within, and yet not be observed by another. Which yet the Lord beholds, when He destroys them by the secret look of grace. For it is written, The King Who sitteth in the throne of judgment, scattereth away all evil with His sight. And because every vice contracts, and every virtue enlarges the mind, after the destruction of vices it is rightly subjoined, Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth? Prov. 20:8. For did not virtue enlarge the mind, Paul would not say to the Corinthians, Be ye also enlarged, and be not yoked with unbelievers. 2 Cor. 6:13, 14. But we must observe carefully that which is said;

Ver. 18. Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth?

xvii. 31. For the extent of the inwardly good is not at all comprehended, unless it is carefully considered. For poverty frequently humbles them outwardly, the torture of punishment straitens them; but yet, in the midst of these things, their inward resolution expands itself ever to hope for heavenly rewards. The Apostles had outwardly been straitened, when they were enduring scourges; but they were standing at liberty in great width within, who had turned, in themselves, these very scourges into joy. For it is written, The Apostles departed from the presence of the council; rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the Name of Jesus. Acts 5:41. Paul had found this width, in his straits, who said, But I wish you to know, brethren, that the things which happened unto me, have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the Gospel, so that my bonds in Christ were made manifest in all the palace. Phil. 1:12, 13. David was possessing this width, in the midst of narrowness, when saying, Thou hast enlarged me in tribulation. Ps. 4:1. This earth, therefore, that is the conscience of holy men, is then enlarged when it is pressed outwardly with the adversities of this world. For when it is driven away from security in this life, it is beater inwardly on itself, so as to stretch toward the hope of heavenly things. And when it is not allowed to wander abroad, being brought back, as it were, into its own bosom, it is enlarged We however behold what misfortunes good men endure, but see not how much they rejoice within. We learn, on consideration, the breadth of their mind, sometimes in their words sometimes in their deeds: but yet we know not how great in the range of that breadth in them. Let human wisdom hear then, Hast thou considered the breadth of the earth? and let it learn its own folly. As if he said, As I, Who alone fully consider the secret rejoicing of the holy, when surrounded with scourges, because I alone mercifully fashion them. Or certainly, blessed Job is asked whether he has considered the breadth of the earth, in order that he might be humbled by the example of another’s enlargement. As if it were openly said to him, Consider those whom the countless evils of this world cannot confine, and cease to boast, amid thy blows, of the state of thy own heart. It follows;

Ver. 18–20. Tell Me, if thou knowest all things, in what path the light dwelleth, and what is the place of darkness? that thou mayest take each of them to the bounds thereof, and understand the paths to the house thereof.

xviii. 32. Blessed Job is tried with a weighty question, in that he is examined as to the way of light and the place of darkness, whether he should bring them each to their boundaries, and should understand the paths to the house thereof. For what is understood by the word ‘light’ but righteousness? and what is designated by ‘darkness’ but iniquity? Whence it is said to some who had been converted from the wickedness of sins, Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. Eph. 5:8. And it is stated of some who continue in sin, They that sleep, sleep in the night. 1 Thess. 5:7. It is said therefore to blessed Job, Tell Me, if thou knowest all things, in what path the light dwelleth, and what is the place of darkness? As if it were said to him, If thou imaginest that thou hast perfect wisdom, tell Me, either into whose heart that innocency, which is now wanting, is coming, or in whose heart that wickedness, which now exists, remains. In what path the light dwelleth: that is, whose mind righteousness comes and fills. And what is the place of darkness, that is, in whom does blind iniquity remain. That thou mayest take each of them to the bounds thereof, that is, that thou mayest decide whether he who is now seen to be wicked, finishes his life in iniquity, and whether he who is now seen to be righteous, terminates the conclusion of his life with the perfection of righteousness. And understand the paths to the house thereof: that is, that thou mayest consider and discern, either for whom perseverance in good deeds secures an eternal mansion in the Kingdom, or whom evil habits, binding to the end, condemn to eternal punishment. For ‘house’ is put for resting place, and ‘path’ for conduct. A path therefore leads to a house, because our doings lead on to our resting place. But what man could speak when questioned on these points? who could hear them at least without fear? For we daily see many who shine forth with the light of righteousness, and who are yet at their close obscured with the darkness of wickedness. And we behold many involved in the darkness of sins, and yet at the end of their life suddenly set free and restored to the light of righteousness. We also know that many have preserved entire, even to the end, the path of righteousness which they have once found, and we have beheld that most men have heaped up without ceasing, even to the end, their wickedness which they have once begun.

33. But who, amid these clouds of secret judgments, can so dart forth the light of his mind, as to distinguish with any discernment, either who continues in sin, or who perseveres in righteousness, or who is converted from the highest to the lowest condition, or who relapses from the highest to the lowest? These points are hid from men’s senses, nor is aught known of the end of any one, because the abyss of the divine judgments is not at all penetrated by the eye of the human mind. For we see that that Gentile world which was opposed to God was overspread with the light of righteousness, and that Judæa, long beloved, was darkened with the night of unbelief. We know also that the thief passed from the cross to the kingdom, and that Judas sank into hell from the glory of the Apostleship. And again, because destinies once commenced are sometimes not changed, we know that the other thief arrived at punishment, and that the Apostles enjoyed the appointed kingdom, which they had longed for. Who then can examine in what path light dwells, and what is the place of darkness, to bring each of them to its own bounds, and to understand the paths to the house thereof? I see Paul called from that cruelty of persecution to the grace of Apostleship; and yet he is so alarmed in the midst of secret judgments, as to fear that he be cast away, even after he had been called. For he says, I chasten my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, perchance, having preached to others, I myself should become a cast-away. 1 Cor. 9:27. And again, I count not myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and stretching forth myself unto those things which are before, I follow the destined mark, to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Phil. 3:13, 14. I follow after, if that I may apprehend that, for which also I am apprehended. ibid. 12. And it certainly had been already said of him by the voice of the Lord, He is a chosen vessel to Me; Acts 9:15. and yet he still chastens his body, and is fearful of being rejected.

34. Alas for our wretched selves, who have known as yet no voice of God concerning our election, and are still slumbering in ease, as if from security. But there ought, there ought doubtless to be not only security in our hope, but also fear in our conversation, that the one may encourage us in the contest, the other sting us when listless. Whence it is rightly said by the Prophet, Let them that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. Ps. 115:11. As if he were openly saying; He presumes in vain on his hope, who refuses to fear God in his doings. But why is blessed Job questioned on so mighty an enquiry, which is utterly unknown by men, how he understands the end of the just and of the unjust, except that he should turn to his own end, from being unable to understand that of others; and that from being ignorant of his own end, as well as others’, he might be afraid at his ignorance, be humbled through his fear; from being humbled might not be elated at his own doings; and from not being elated, might remain stedfast in the citadel of grace? Let it be said then to him, Tell Me, if thou hast understanding, in what path the light dwelleth, and what is the place of darkness, that thou mayest take each of them to the bounds thereof. As if it were said; As thou knowest not who are converted from sin to goodness, nor who turn back from goodness to sin; so also thou dost not understand what is doing towards thyself, as thy merits deserve. And as thou dost not at all comprehend another’s end, so art thou also unable to foresee thine own. For thou knowest now what progress thou hast made thyself, but what I still think of thee in secret, thou knowest not. Thou now thinkest on thy deeds of righteousness; but thou knowest not how strictly they are weighed by Me. Woe even to the praiseworthy life of men, if it be judged without mercy, because when strictly examined, it is overwhelmed in the presence of the Judge, by the very conduct with which it imagines that it pleases Him. Whence it is rightly said to God by the Prophet, Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. Ps. 143:2. Whence it is well said by Solomon, There are righteous and wise men, and their works are in the hand of God: and yet no man knoweth whether he is deserving of love, or of hatred; but all things are kept uncertain for the time to come. Eccles. 9:1. Hence again it is said by the same Solomon, What man will be able to understand his own way? Prov. 20:24. And any one doing good or evil is doubtless known by the testimony of his conscience. But it is said that their own way is not known to men, for this reason, because even if a man understands that he is acting rightly, yet he knows not, under the strict enquiry, whither he is going. After He has alarmed him then with this consideration of his end, He goes back to examine his beginning: and, that he may not complain wherefore knows he not his end, He mentions also that he does not even understand with what beginning he came hither. For it follows;

Ver. 21. Didst thou know then that thou wast about to be born, and didst thou know the number of thy days?

xix. 35. As if He were openly saying, What wonder if thou understandest not thine end, since thou dost not comprehend thy beginning? And since thou knowest not with what beginning thou camest hither, what wonder, if thou canst not tell with what end thou art taken away? If therefore it was My work to bring thee forward from secresy to sight at thy beginning, it will be Mine also to bring thee back from sight to secresy. Why complainest thou aught of the dispensation of thy life, who, ignorant of thyself, art supported by the hand of thy Creator? Thou oughtest therefore to boast thyself the less in what thou dost, the more thou art confined within the bosom of eternity, and knowest not either in what order thou camest hither, nor when, or how thou art taken hence.

36. But these words can yet be understood in another sense also; Didst thou know then that thou wast about to be born, and didst thou know the number of thy days? Thou understandest, As I, Who knew that I was about to be born, because, even before the birth of My Manhood, I always existed substantially in the Godhead. For men begin then to exist, when they are born in the womb of their mothers. For even the very conception is called nativity, according to that which is written, That which is born in her is of the Holy Ghost. Matt. 1:20. And they therefore know not that they are about to be born, because they do not exist, before they are created. But God, Who ever existed without beginning, foresaw this of Himself, that He assumed a beginning in the womb of the Virgin; and because He foreknew, He ordained it; and because He ordained, He doubtless endured nothing in human form, except of His own free will. Let man then, who could not foresee his own birth, be reproved for complaining of his scourges, if even He, Who foresaw and ordained His own birth, prepared Himself for scourges amongst men. It follows,

Ver. 22, 23. Hast thou entered into the treasures of snow, or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have prepared against the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war?

xx. 37. What else must be understood by the ‘snow’ or ‘hail,’ but the cold and hard hearts of the wicked? For as charity is designated by warmth, so also in Holy Scripture wickedness is wont to be designated by cold. For it is written, As a cistern maketh its water cold, so doth its own wickedness make cold the soul. Jer. 6:7. And again, Iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold. Mat. 24:12. What then can be more fitly understood by the cold of snow, or the hardness of hail, than the life of the wicked, which both waxes cold by torpor, and strikes with the malice of hardness? Whose life the Lord yet tolerates, because He keeps them for the probation of His just ones. Whence also He rightly subjoined, Which I have prepared against the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war. In order that, when our adversary the devil endeavours to tempt us, he may make use of their habits as his weapons against us. For by them he tortures us in his rage, but unwittingly purges us. For they become scourges to our sins, and when we are smitten by their life, which is such, we are freed from eternal death. Whence it is so ordered, that even the abandoned life of the reprobate benefits the life of the Elect, and that whilst their ruin furthers our interest, it is thus marvellously ordained, in order that even every thing which is lost, may not be lost to the Elect of God.

38. This also can be understood in another way, so as not to differ from the exposition of the former verse, since it seems connected with the words that precede it. For because He had pointed out that either the good can be changed to sin, or the wicked to goodness, He immediately proceeded to add, Hast thou entered into the treasures of snow, or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, which I have prepared against the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war? By either cold, or hard, snow, or hail, we understand, as has been said, the hearts of the wicked. But because Almighty God has chosen His Saints from such, and knows how many of the Elect He has still stored up amongst the life of the wicked, He fitly says, that He has His treasures in snow or hail. For ‘thesaurus’ (treasure) is so called from θέσις, that is, from its being placed away. And He beholds many long concealed in a life of coldness, whom He brings out, when He orders it, and exhibits glittering with the brightness of righteousness, through grace from on high. For it is written, Thou shall wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Ps. 51:7. And He hides them for a long while beneath the seal of His foreknowledge, prepared against the day of war and of battle, but the moment He brings them out, He strikes the opposing breast of the adversaries, with their words and refutations, as if with hailstones. Whence it is written elsewhere, Through the brightness in His presence the clouds passed away, hailstones and coals of fire. Ps. 18:12. For coals pass away through brightness, because holy preachers traverse the whole compass of the world with the brightness of their miracles. And they are called, moreover, hailstones, and coals of fire; because they both strike with their reproof, and kindle with the flame of charity. The bold reproof of the Saints is also fitly represented by the nature of hail. For hail strikes as it falls, and waters when it melts. But holy men both strike the hearts of their hearers with dread, and bedew them with comfort. For the Prophet bears witness how they strike, saying, They shall speak of the might of Thy terrible acts, and they shall tell of Thy greatness. Ps. 145:6. And he has proceeded to subjoin, how they bedew with gentleness; They shall utter the memory of the abundance of Thy sweetness, and shall exalt in Thy righteousness. ib. 7. Treasures, therefore, are kept in the snow or hail, because many who were frozen in the torpor of iniquity, when taken up unto heavenly grace, shine forth in Holy Church with the light of righteousness, and smite with the blows of their doctrine the evil wisdom of their adversaries. Whence also it is filly subjoined, Which I have prepared against the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war. For Saul in truth had been snow or hail through cold insensibility; but he became snow and hail against the breasts of his adversaries, either by the brightness of righteousness, or by the reproof of his keen eloquence. O what a treasure did the Lord keep him, stored up in snow or hail, when He already secretly beheld him as His own Elect, though placed among the life of the wicked. And to smite how many breasts of His adversaries did He grasp in His hand this hailstone, by which He laid prostrate so many hearts which resisted Him.

39. Let no one then boast himself of his own deeds; let no one despair of those, whom he sees still cold. For he sees not the treasures of God in snow and hail. For who could believe that that very person, who at his death kept the raiment of all those who stoned, could go before the martyred Stephen through the grace of apostleship? If therefore we refer to these secret gifts, or judgments, while not desparing utterly of any, we do not prefer ourselves in our hearts to those, to whom for a time we have been preferred. For though we now observe how much we have outstripped them, yet we know not how much we may be surpassed ourselves, when they begin the race. It is well, therefore, said to blessed Job, Hast thou entered the treasures of snow, or hast thou beheld the treasures of the hail, which I have prepared against the time of the enemy, against the day of battle and war? As if it were openly said, Prefer not thyself to any one, by reason of thy doings; for of these, whom thou beholdest still frozen in sin, thou knowest not what mighty workers of righteousness, and defenders of sound faith I intend to create. But because this is effected by the coining of the Mediator, it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 24. By what way is the light scattered?

xxi. 40. For He in truth is the way, Who says, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. John 14:6. The light is, therefore, scattered by this way, because all the Gentile world is enlightened by His presence. But He rightly said, Is scattered, because the light of preaching was not contracted or confined, but shone forth with its brightness far and wide by the voices of the Apostles. But because the power of love glows within, when the light of conversion has been received, in order that either our past sins may be anxiously lamented, or future blessings be most ardently sought for, it is suitably added,

The heat is divided over the earth.

xxii. 41. For when the light is spread abroad the heat is divided over the earth; because when righteousness is openly preached, the anxious desire of the heart to seek God is spread forth in the practice of virtues; so that one person shines forth in the word of wisdom, another in the word of knowledge; one is mighty in the grace of healing, another in the working of mighty deeds; and that thus, while they severally receive unequally the gifts of the Spirit, they are all necessarily united to each other, and unanimously inflamed. But after the light is said to be spread abroad, it can readily be understood that persecution is designated by ‘heat:’ because as the light of preaching shone brightly, so the heat of persecution immediately blazed forth from the hearts of the unbelievers. For, that persecution is described by ‘heat,’ the discourse of the Lord bears witness, speaking of the seeds which had been cast on the rocky ground, When the sun arose they were all scorched, and because they had not root, they withered away. Matt. 13:6. And when He expounded it a little after, He called ‘heat,’ persecution. The heat therefore is divided over the earth, when the light is spread abroad, because, as the life of the faithful became bright, the cruelty of the faithless was kindled. For the heat was divided, when persecution was raging, now at Jerusalem, now at Damascus, and now in other countries far away. For it is written, At that time there arose a great persecution in the Church, which was at Jerusalem, and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judæa and Samaria. Acts 8:1. And it is written again; Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters for him to take to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he had found any of this way, men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Acts 9:1, 2. Because then persecution had increased, now here, now there, they who had known the light of truth, were panting, as it were, under the burning of the divided heat.

42. But because we have heard blessed Job questioned in the former words, respecting the secret judgment; it now behoves us to examine more accurately this which is said of the scattered light, or divided heat. For he is still examined with lofty questioning, in order that he may at least learn that he is ignorant, and that it may be said to him, By what way is the light spread, the heat divided over the earth? For what is designated by the word ‘light’ but righteousness? Of which it is written; The people which was sitting in darkness, saw a great light. Is. 9:2. But every thing which is scattered, is thrown, not continuously, but with a kind of intermission. And light is therefore said to be ‘scattered,’ because, though we already behold some things as they really are, yet some things we see not, as they are to be seen. For scattered light had possessed the heart of Peter, who had shone forth with such great brightness of faith, and of miracles, and yet, while he was imposing the weight of circumcision on the converted Gentiles, he knew not what to say aright. Light, therefore, is ‘scattered’ in this life, because it is not continuously possessed, to the understanding of every thing. For whilst we comprehend one thing as it is, and are ignorant of another, we both see as it were partially in scattered light, and remain partially in darkness. But our light will then no longer be scattered, when our mind, caught up entirely to God, will shine forth.

43. And because it is not known in what ways this light is insinuated into the heart of man, it is rightly said in a question; By what way is the light scattered? As if it were openly said; Tell Me, in what order I pour My righteousness into the secret recesses of the hearts, when I am not seen, even in My approach, and yet I invisibly change the visible doings of men, when I irradiate one and the same mind, at one time with this, and at another with that virtue, and yet I permit it, through scattered light, still to remain, in a measure, in the darkness of temptation. Let ignorant man be asked, by what way the light is scattered. As if it were openly said, While I soften the hard hearts, bend the rigid, smooth the rough, warm the cold, strengthen the weak, establish the wandering, confirm the wavering, come, if thou canst, incorporeally, and behold, on what minds I shed this light. For all these things we behold when done; for we know not how they are wrought within. The Truth shews in the Gospel, that this way of light is invisible to us, saying; The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, and knowest not whence it cometh, and whither it goeth. John 3:8.

44. But because, when the light is scattered, temptations presently spring up from the hidden adversary against the enlightened mind, it is rightly subjoined; The heat is divided over the earth. For the crafty foe strives to inflame with unlawful desires the minds of those whom he sees shining forth with the light of righteousness; so that they frequently feel themselves more assaulted with temptations, than at the time when they beheld not the rays of inward light. Whence also the Israelites, after they had been called, complain against Moses and Aaron of their increasing labour, saying; Let the Lord see and judge, because ye have made our savour to stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have given him a sword to slay us. Exod. 5:21. For when they wished to depart from Egypt, Pharaoh had taken away the straw, and yet required works of the same amount. The mind, therefore, secretly murmurs, as it were, against the law, after the knowledge of which it endures sharper stings of temptations, and when it beholds its labours increasing, because it is displeasing to its adversary, it grieves that it stinks, as it were, in the eyes of Pharaoh. Heat, therefore, follows after light; because after the illumination of the heavenly gift, the contest of temptation is increased.

45. But the heat is rightly said also to be ‘divided:’ doubtless, because separate persons are not assailed by all vices, but by certain ones which are near, and placed close to them. For the ancient enemy first beholds the character of each person, and then applies the snares of temptations. For one person is of a cheerful, another of a morose, another of a timid, another of a proud disposition. Our secret adversary, in order then to catch us easily, prepares deceptions closely connected with our several characters. For because pleasure borders on mirth, he holds out lust as a bait to cheerful dispositions. And because moroseness easily slides into anger, he offers the cup of discord for the morose. Because the timid dread punishments, he threatens terrors to the fearful. And because he beholds the proud elated with praises, he draws them on to whatever he pleases, by flattering applause. He lays snares therefore against men one by one, by vices adapted to them. For he would not easily lead them captive, if he were either to offer bribes to the lustful, or bodily pleasures to the covetous, or if he were to assail the greedy by the pride of abstinence, or the abstinent by gluttonousness, or if he were to seek to seize the gentle by eagerness for the contest, or the angry by the dread of fear. Because then, when in the heat of temptation, he craftily lurks in ambush against each one by himself, and secretly lays the snares which are akin to their habits, it is rightly said; The heat is divided over the earth.

46. But when it is first stated, By what way the light is scattered: and is there immediately subjoined, The heat is divided over the earth, it is doubtless indicated that the heat is also divided by the same way, by which the light is scattered. For when the lofty and incomprehensible grace of the Holy Spirit irradiates our minds with its light, it also so disposes and modifies the temptations of the adversary, that either they do not come upon us many together, or else that those only which can be endured, assail the mind already illuminated by God; so that they do not burn us with the fire of their full strength, when they torture us with the heat of their touch. As Paul bears witness, who says, But God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. 1 Cor. 10:13. This heat then our crafty supplanter divides in one way, and our merciful Creator in another. The one divides, in order thereby to slay more speedily; the other, to make it more tolerable. And, because, when we are harassed with temptation, we are not only instructed with the Spirit of God within, but are also assisted with the words of preachers without, after the divided heat, it is rightly added,

Ver. 25. Who hath given a course for the most violent shower?

xxiii. 47. But if, as we said before, that persecution in the regions of Judæa is designated by the name of divided heat, because this very fierceness of persecution kept not from their office of preaching, through any fear, the holy preachers, who were assisted by the gift from on high, He fitly subjoins; Who hath given a course for the most violent showers? As if He were saying, Except Myself. For to have given a course to the most violent showers, when the heat was divided, is to have strengthened the force of preaching amid the very difficulties of persecution, in order that the power of preachers might the more increase, the more the cruelty of persecutors stood in their way, so that they might bedew the thirsty hearts of their hearers with drops of rain, and water more abundantly the drought of unbelief; and that though the heat of cruelty was glowing against them, yet the voice of grace might not through them be silent. Paul was both enduring and watering this heat of persecution, when saying, I labour even to bonds, as an evil doer, but the word of God is not bound. 2 Tim. 2:9. Of this shower it is said elsewhere; I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. Is. 5:6. Of this course of the shower which is going on in the hearts of the Elect, the Psalmist witnesses, saying; His word runneth swiftly. Ps. 147:15. But it is generally a shower only, and has no course; because preaching comes to the ears, but inward grace not acting, it passes not through to the hearts of the hearers. And of the words of this preaching it is said, on account of the Elect; For thine arrows passed through. Ps. 77:17. For the arrows of God pass through, when the words of His preaching descend from the ears to the hearts And because this is effected solely by Divine grace, the Lord witnesses that He has given a course to the shower.

48. But I see it must be observed, that He calls this same shower not ‘violent,’ but ‘most violent.’ A violent shower is great force; but a most violent one, is the boundless power of preaching. For it was a violent shower, when holy preachers were advising the belief of eternal joy. But ‘most violent,’ when they were advising men that on account of their hope their interest should be abandoned, all visible objects despised on account of invisible, and that the pains and tortures of this present world should be tolerated for the sake of the joys they have heard of. But when so many of the Elect, having learned the faith, abandoned their possessions, when the heat of persecution was raging, forgot their carnal affection, and exposed their limbs to torture for joy of spirit; what else did the Lord do, but make a course for even the most violent shower, which by bodily words so watered the invisible recesses of the heart, that it performed even the highest commands? Where it is also fitly subjoined;

And a way for the sounding thunder?

xxiv. 49. For what is understood by ‘thunder’ except the preaching of heavenly terror? And when the hearts of men feel this terror, they are shaken. But sometimes by thunder is set forth the Incarnate Lord Himself, Who was brought to our knowledge by the concurrent prophecy of the ancient fathers, as if by the clashing together of clouds; Who, appearing visibly among us, sounded forth awfully those things which were above us. Whence also the Holy Apostles themselves begotten by His grace were called Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder. But sometimes, as has been said, ‘thunder’ is taken for their preaching, by which the terror of the heavenly judgments is heard. But because any preacher can present words to the ears, but cannot open the hearts, and since, unless Almighty God alone grant the words of preachers a hearing invisibly by inward grace in the hearts of their hearers, that preaching is received in vain by the ear of the hearer, which is prevented by his deaf heart from reaching to his inmost soul; the Lord asserts that He grants a way to the sounding thunder: for when He vouchsafes the words of preaching, He pierces the heart with terror. Paul, the illustrious preacher, when he was awfully sounding forth the heavenly mysteries, seeing that he could not possess this way by himself, admonished his disciples, saying, Withal praying also for us that God would open to us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ. Col. 4:3. He therefore who was speaking mysteries, but was praying for a door to be opened by the Lord for these same mysteries in the heart of his hearers, possessed indeed the thunder already, but was seeking for a way to be granted it from above. John, who was saying, Ye need not that any man teach you, but as His anointing teacheth you of all things, 1 John 2:27. knew that he could not give this way. Paul again taught Who could give this way, saying, For neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. 1 Cor. 3:7. Let us hear then what this shower and thunder effect, when the way has been granted them. It follows;

Ver. 26. That it should rain upon the earth without man, in the desert, where no mortal dwelleth.

xxv. 50. To rain upon the earth without man in the desert, is to preach the word of God to the Gentile world. For whilst it retained no worship of the Godhead, and shewed in itself no appearance of good works, it was plainly a desert. And because there was therein no lawgiver, nor any one who could seek God in a reasonable way, there was, as it were, ‘no man;’ and it remained as if occupied by beasts alone, void of men. Of this land of the desert it is said elsewhere, He made a way in the desert. Is. 43:19. Of this preaching vouchsafed to the Gentiles, the Psalmist witnesses, saying, He made rivers in the desert. Ps. 107:33. But we must observe, that after the heat was divided over the earth, the most violent shower received its course, that it might rain in the desert. Because after the harshness of persecution became dreadful in Judæa, so as not only not to receive the faith, but even to assail it with the sword, every preacher who had been sent to Israel, turned aside to summon the Gentiles. Whence the holy Apostles say to the persecuting Hebrews whom they abandon, We ought first to preach the word of God to you, but because ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46. When the heat, then, has been divided, the land which is desert, and without man, is watered; because, when the persecution of the faithful had spread abroad in Judæa, the Gentile world, long since abandoned, and estranged, as it were, from the infusion of reason, is watered by the drops of preaching. But in what state the Gentile world was still found by the preachers, is shewn, when it is added;

Ver. 27. That it should fill the pathless and desolate land.

But what it produced when rained on, is shewn, when it is immediately subjoined, And should produce green herbs.

xxvi. 51. For the Gentile world, to which a way was not open for the word of God, was a long while pathless. For on the coming of our Redeemer it so received the calling of grace, as that there had not been in it before the way of Prophecy. It is also rightly called desolate; namely, as being destitute of either the wisdom of counsel, or of the fruit of good works. The Lord therefore gave a course to the most violent shower, and a way to the sounding thunder, that it should rain in the desert, and fill the pathless and desolate land, and should produce green herbs. That is, He added to outward preaching inward inspiration; that the parched hearts of the Gentiles might become green, the closed might be opened, the empty filled, the unfruitful germinate.

52. For in holy Scripture ‘grass’ is sometimes taken for the verdure of temporal glory, sometimes for the food of the devil, sometimes for the support of preachers, sometimes for good works, sometimes for the knowledge and doctrine of eternal life. For it is taken for the verdure of temporal glory, as the Prophet says, Let it pass away in the morning like grass, in the morning let it flourish and pass away. Ps. 90:6. For to flourish and to pass away in the morning like grass, as in the prosperity of this world for the beauty of temporal glory speedily to dry away. Grass is taken for the food of the devil, as it is said of him by the Lord, For him the mountains bear grass. Job 40:20. As if He were saying, Whilst proud and naughty men exalt themselves in unlawful thoughts and actions, they feed him with their iniquities. Grass is pointed but to be the support of preachers, when it is said, He produceth grass on the mountains, and herbs for the service of men. Ps. 147:8. Ps. 104:14. For grass is produced on the mountains, and herbs for the use of men, when the lofty ones of this world, being called to the knowledge of the faith, bestow on holy preachers, in the journey of this life, food for their sojourn. Grass is put for good works, as it is written, Let the earth bring forth the green grass. And though we hold that it thus took place historically in the creation of the world, yet we suppose, without impropriety, the earth to have been a type of the Church, which brought forth the green grass, in that it produced, at the command of God, fruitful works of mercy. We sometimes take ‘grass’ for the knowledge and doctrine of eternal verdure; as it is said by Jeremiah, The wild asses did stand on the rocks, they snuffed up the winds as dragons; their eyes did fail, because there was no grass. Jer. 14:6. By which expression the proud and most wicked persecution of the Jews was prophesied. For they are called in truth wild asses, for their pride of mind, and dragons, for their virulent thoughts. And they stood on the rocks, because they trusted, not in God, but, in the chief powers of this world, saying, We have no king but Cæsar. John 19:15. They snuffed up the winds as dragons, because being puffed up by the spirit of pride they were swollen with malicious haughtiness. Their eyes failed, because in truth their hope fell short of that which it was aiming at. For loving temporal things, it neglected to wait for eternal, and lost earthly goods, because it preferred them to God. For they said, If we let Him thus alone, all men will believe on Him, and the Romans will come, and take away both our place and nation. John. 11:48. They were afraid lest they should lose their place, if the Lord had not been slain, and yet they lost it, when He was slain. But he adds the reason why these things befel the wretched men, Because there was no grass: that is, because the knowledge of eternity was wanting in their hearts, and did not refresh them with the food of the verdure of inward doctrine. In this place then what else do we understand by green herbs, but the knowledge of heavenly doctrine, on works in accordance? The desert earth then is watered by the rain, for the green herbs to be produced from it, because when the Gentile world enjoyed the shower of holy preaching, it budded forth with both the works of life, and the herb of doctrine. This verdure is promised to the desert land by the voice of the Prophet, when it is said, In the dens, in which the dragons dwelt before, shall rise up the verdure of the reed and bulrush. Is. 35:7. For what is designated by the reed but preachers; and what by the bulrush, which always grows by the moisture of water, but weak and tender hearers of the sacred word? The verdure of the reed and bulrush grows up then in the dens of the dragons, because in those peoples, which the malice of the old enemy used to possess, both the knowledge of teachers and the obedience of hearers is collected together.

53. But these things which have been stated generally of the Gentile world, we see taking place, if we carefully examine, in individuals within the bosom of Holy Church. For there are many, grievously insensible to the words of God, who are counted under the name of faith, who hear the words of life with their ears, but suffer them not to pass through to the inward places of the heart. What else are these than desert land? Which land in truth has not a man, because their mind is void of the sense of reason. And no mortal dwells in this land, because if thoughts of reasonable meanings ever spring up in their conscience, they do not remain there. For evil desires find a resting-place in their hearts, but if good desires have ever come there, they pass away, as if urged on. But when the merciful God deigns to give a course to His shower, and a way to the sounding thunder, being stung with grace within, they open the ears of their heart to the words of life. And the pathless land is filled: for while it grants a hearing to the word, it is overwhelmed with mystery. And it brings forth green herbs: because when watered by the grace of compunction, it not only willingly receives the words of preaching, but returns them back with abundant increase; so that it is now eager to speak what it could not hear, and that that which had become dry, even within, through not listening, feeds with its verdure as many as are hungry. Whence it is well said by the Prophet, Send forth Thy Spirit, and they shall be created, and Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. Ps. 104:30. For thus, thus, the face of the earth is changed by the virtue of renewal, when the mind which before was dry, is watered by the coming of grace, and is, after its former barrenness, arrayed with the verdure of knowledge, as though by grass which it had brought forth. Which grace of our Creator is commended still more highly, when it is subjoined;

Ver. 28. Who is the father of the rain? or who hath begotten the drops of dew?

xxvii. 54. As if He were saying, Except Myself, Who sprinkle, of My free grace, the barren earth of the human heart with drops of knowledge. For of this rain is said elsewhere, Thou wit set apart, O God, a voluntary rain for thine inheritance. Ps. 68:9. For God sets apart a voluntary rain for His inheritance, because He grants it to us, not for own deserts, but from the bounty of His own benignity. And He is in this place called the father of this rain, for this reason, because His heavenly preaching is begotten in us, not for our merits, but from His grace. For the drops of dew, are the holy preachers themselves, who water the fields of our breast, (parched amid the evils of the present life, as though amid the gloom of a dry night,) with the grace of bounty from above. Of these drops it is said to obstinate Judah; Therefore the drops of rains have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain. Jer. 3:3. For the drops of dew are the same as the drops of rains. For when they soften down their preaching by any accommodation, they sprinkle, as it were, the tender dew. But when they say what they think of heavenly things, with the power with which they are strong, they pour forth, as it were, the flowing rain abundantly. Paul was sprinkling the dew, when saying to the Corinthians, For I determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 1 Cor. 2:2. And again he was pouring forth the rain, saying, O ye Corinthians, our mouth is opened unto you, our heart is enlarged. 2 Cor. 6:11. Hence it is, that Moses, who knew that he would say bold things to the strong, and gentle to the weak, observed, Let my speech be waited for as the rain, and let my words descend as the dew. Deut. 32:2.

But, lo! we have heard with what favour the Gentiles are called, let us now hear with what severity Judah is rejected. We have heard how He cultivates what is desert, and waters what is barren: let us now hear how He casts forth those which seem to be, as it were, within. For He does not so gather His Elect, as not also to judge the reprobate; nor does He so forgive faults to some persons, as not to punish them in some also. For it is written, For mercy and wrath come from Him. Ecclus. 5:6. Whence here also, after He had introduced so many gifts of grace, He conceals not the judgments of His wrath. For it follows;

Ver. 29. Out of whose womb came the ice, and the frost from hearen, who hath gendered it?

xxviii. 55. For what else do we understand by ‘frost’ or ‘ice,’ but the hearts of the Jews frozen and bound with the torpor of unbelief? Who formerly by the receiving of the Law, by the keeping of the commandments, by the ministry of sacrifice, by the mysteries of prophecy, were so kept within the bosom of grace, as if within the womb of the Creator. But because, on the coming of the Lord, being hard bound with the frost of unbelief, they lost the warmth of faith and charity, being cast forth from the secret bosom of grace, they came forth like ice from the womb of the Creator. And the frost from heaven, who hath gendered it? What else ought ‘heaven’ to be here understood to mean but the lofty life of the saints? To which heaven it is said, Give ear, O heaven, and I will speak. Deut. 32:1. Of which abode it is elsewhere written, The soul of the just is the seat of wisdom. Because then God is wisdom, if the abode of God is heaven, and the soul of the just is the seat of wisdom, the soul of the just is certainly heaven. Abraham was heaven, Isaac was heaven, Jacob was heaven. But because the persecutors of the Lord, the high priests of the Jews, who were frozen with the torpor of unbelief, sprang from the race of those ancestors, the frost came, as it were, from heaven, because the frozen herd of unbelievers came forth from the lofty offspring of the saints. For when Caiaphas was born from Abraham, what else was it, but that ice came forth from heaven? Yet this frost the Lord says that He had gendered, for this reason, because He permitted the Jews, whom He Himself naturally created good, to go forth from Him, by a just judgment, frozen through their wickedness. For the Lord is the Author of nature, not of sin. He engendered therefore, by naturally creating, those whom He suffered, by patiently enduring, to remain in sin. And because those hearts of the Jews, which before were tender, and easily penetrated by faith, were afterwards hardened in the obstinacy of unbelief, it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 30. The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone.

xxix. 56. For I remember that I have often taught already that ‘waters’ are taken for peoples. But by a ‘stone,’ by reason of its very hardness, the Gentile peoples are sometimes designated. For they themselves worshipped stones. And of these it is said by the Prophet, Let them, that make them become like unto them, and all who trust in them. Ps. 115:8. Whence John, beholding that the Jews boasted themselves in their pedigree, and foreseeing the Gentiles passing over to the stock of Abraham, by the knowledge of the faith, says, Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up sons to Abraham. Matt. 3:9. Certainly calling ‘stones’ the Gentiles, who were hardened in unbelief. Because then Judæa first believed in God, while all the Gentile world was remaining in the obstinacy of its unbelief, and because the hearts of the Gentiles were afterwards softened to receive the faith, and the unbelief of the Jews was hardened, it is well said, The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone. As if He were saying, Those soft hearts of the Jews, easily penetrated by faith, are converted into the insensibility of the Gentiles. For when God in His mercy drew to Him the Gentiles, He repelled Judæa in His wrath. And it came to pass, that as the Gentiles had been at first hardened against the reception of the faith, so, when the Gentiles were afterwards admitted to the faith, was the people of Judæa hardened in the torpor of unbelief. Whence the Apostle Paul says to these very Gentiles, As ye in times past have not believed God, yet now have obtained mercy through their unbelief, even so have these not believed, in your mercy, that they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded all in unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all. Rom. 11:30–32. And accurately considering this his opinion, first concerning the calling of the Jews, and the rejection of the Gentiles, and afterwards concerning the calling of the Gentiles, and the rejection of the Jews, and reflecting that he could not comprehend the secret judgments of God, he subjoined in exclamation, O the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how incomprehensible are His judgments, and His ways unsearchable. Rom. 11:33. Whence here also when the Lord was saying of the unbelief of the Jews, The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone, to shew that His judgments concerning their rejection were secret, He fitly subjoined;

And the surface of the deep is congealed.

xxx. 57. Because the eye of the human mind does not at all penetrate the incomprehensibleness of the Divine judgment, from a kind of veil of our ignorance having been thrown over it. For it is written, Thy judgments are a great deep. Ps. 36:6. Let no one then seek to investigate, why, when one is rejected, another is chosen, or, why, when one is chosen, another is rejected, because the surface of the deep is congealed, and as Paul witnesses, His judgments are inscrutable, and His ways unsearchable. Rom. 11:33.

58. But by that which is said, (ver. 29) Out of whose womb came the ice, and the frost from heaven, who hath gendered it? nothing prevents Satan being understood by the frost and ice. For he came forth as if ice from the womb of God, because the teacher of iniquity came forth, frozen with the torpor of sin, from the warmth of His mysteries. He was gendered as frost from heaven, because he was suffered to fall from the highest to the lowest condition, and to go and bind the hearts of the reprobate. And having been fashioned rightly in heaven, when he fell, he bound as frost the hearts of his followers, in the coldness of sin. And what he did amongst men, on coming to the earth, is fully stated, when it is added, The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone. For by ‘waters’ peoples are designated, but by a ‘stone’ the hardness of this very Satan. The waters therefore were hardened after the likeness of a stone, when he came on earth, because men, imitating his wickedness, lost the soft bowels of charity. And because his crafty designs cannot be detected by men who have been led astray, it is rightly subjoined; And the surface of the deep is congealed. For one thing lies concealed within him, and another he presents without. For he transforms himself as an angel of light, and with his cunning art of deception frequently proposes laudable objects, in order to lead on to unlawful. The surface of the deep is therefore congealed; for while the fair appearance of his persuasion appears, as it were, like solid ice on the surface, his wickedness, lurking in the depth, is not observed.

59. But we can understand all these in another sense also, if we enquire into them, in their moral meaning. For whilst Almighty God fashions the minds of men in His fear, He conceives them, as it were, and brings them forth to open virtues, when He advances them onwards. But if they are elated by the virtues they have received, He abandons them. And we often know persons to be smitten by consideration of their sins, to glow with fear of the Divine dread, and, commencing in fear, attain to the highest virtues. But when they are elated by these virtues which they receive, being bound with the snare of vain glory, they return to their former torpor. When God therefore casts off such persons, He rightly says, Out of whose womb came the ice? For the ice comes forth, as it were, from the womb of God, when those who had before been warm within, become cold, by reason of the gift of virtue, and, being torpid, seek after outward glory, for the very reason by which they ought to glow with greater warmth to love things within. And whilst one man is powerful in signs, another in knowledge, another in prophecy, and another in mighty works, and seeks by these gifts to please men, he turns all his former inward warmth into torpidity, from loving outward praises. He comes forth therefore as ice from the womb, when, after the favours of gifts, he is separated from the bowels of heavenly compassion. Are not they ‘ice,’ who in the virtues they receive seek praise from men? And yet they say to the Judge on His coming, when recalling His own gifts to His mind; Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name have done many mighty works? Matt. 7:22. But He shews how the Lord casts out this ice, saying, I know you not whence ye are. Depart from Me, all ye workers of iniquity. ib. 23. The Lord now bears this ice in His womb, because He tolerates it within the bosom of the Church. But He then openly casts it out, when He banishes such from the secret abodes of heaven by the last and public judgment. What is then the plain object of these words, except that Job should be brought down from his lofty virtues, that he should not, in consequence of his former warmth in good living, grow cold through pride, and be repelled and go forth from the womb of the Godhead, by being swollen up within the bosom of his own heart?

60. And because by a righteous judgment He permits haughty minds to go forth to commit sin, from the virtue they have received, it is rightly added, still farther; And the frost from heaven, who hath gendered it? For He frequently vouchsafes the knowledge of Holy Scripture, but when he who receives it is elated by this knowledge, he is, by the anger of the strict Judge, so blinded in the Scripture itself, that he no longer sees its inward meaning, from seeking thereby for outward applause; and that, though he could be warm by remaining within, he goes forth and becomes frozen, and that he who before, when easily led to the knowledge of God, remained unfrozen at the top, becomes hardened, and sinks to the bottom. Is not Holy Scripture ‘heaven,’ which opening to us the day of understanding, illuminates us with the Sun of righteousness, and which, while the night of the present life surrounds us, shines for us with the stars of the commandments. But since there must be heresies, that they which are approved may be made manifest, when the proud mind is kept back from a sound understanding of Scripture, frost is generated from heaven by the judgment of the strict Judge; in order that, when Holy Scripture itself glows in the hearts of the Elect, it may cast forth from itself in a frozen condition, those who proudly seek to know it. For they err in the very point, in which they should have corrected their faults; and while they fall away from the heavenly understanding of the resplendent Word, both hardened themselves, and about to deceive others, they sink to the bottom, as ice, and bind others also. But yet the Lord says that He Himself genders this frost, not because He Himself fashions the minds of the wicked to sin, but because He does not liberate them from sin. As it is written; I will harden the heart of Pharaoh. Exod. 4:21. For because He refused to soften it in His mercy, He plainly announced that He had hardened it in His severity.

61. But, because the image of virtue is retained for the sake of human praise, when the virtue of Divine fear, which has begun, is itself lost, it is rightly subjoined; The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone, and the surface of the deep is congealed. For waters are hardened by ice at the surface, but remain fluid underneath. And what do we understand by waters but the unstable hearts of the reprobate? For when they are deliberately forsaking virtue, they shew themselves forth, in their hypocrisy, as resolute in good works, and whilst they are inwardly gliding down into sins, they outwardly feign themselves imitators of the holy and resolute. The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone, and the surface of the abyss is bound together, because their weak and unstable conscience is concealed from men, by a superinduced appearance of sanctity. For when they are inwardly foul in their own sight, they are arrayed before the eyes of others with a kind of comeliness of living.

62. But, lest any one should wish these words of the Lord to be understood in a good sense, we ought to add it, for those also who thus look for it, provided we are not considered to have neglected points which needed to be examined. For it is said in the former verse, Who is the father of rain? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? And it is immediately added, Out of whose womb came the ice? and the frost from heaven who hath gendered it? If therefore the following sentence is connected with the preceding words with a similar sense, its meaning is clearly laid open without any obstacle of difficulty even in a good sense. For when the earth is watered by rain, the seeds which have been cast in are pressed down more productively. But again, if the rain waters it too immoderately, it changes the richness and virtue of the corn in the stalk. But if the seed which has been thrown in, is after rain checked by the frost, the more it is kept from appearing too quickly above ground, the more productively does it root itself beneath: and the more it is forbidden to grow, the more it is compelled to multiply: because, when it is kept from too early a growth, being expanded by the slowness of its conception, it is filled more abundantly for fruit. What is meant then by the Lord first speaking of Himself as the father of the rain, but afterwards saying that the ice comes forth from His womb, and declaring that He genders the frost from heaven? Except that He first waters in a wondrous manner the soil of our hearts for the reception of the seeds of the word, by the secret rain of His grace, and that He afterwards keeps it down by the discipline of His secret dispensation, lest it should bring forth too luxuriantly with the virtues it has conceived, in order that the rigor of discipline may likewise bind that which the rain of grace received irrigates, lest it turn its fruit into grass, if it produce its virtues, either before it ought, or more than is necessary. For, frequently, when a good work is displayed before it ought by beginners, it is emptied of the grain of perfection, and while virtues are more exuberant than is necessary, they frequently dry up. Whence the Lord either refuses the desires even of His Elect, before the fit time, or again restrains at the fit time their unlimited progress, lest, if they advance either sooner, or farther, than they ought, they should fall into the defect of pride by the greatness of their proficiency. For when the heart is pricked with compunction after sin, the earth, which had been dry, is watered by the pouring of rain upon it; and when it proposes to abandon its iniquities and to follow after good works, it receives, as it were, seed after the rain. And many persons, when they conceive holy desires, are burning to exercise themselves at once in the sublimest virtues, so that sin may not only not infect their doings, but may not even assail their thoughts. They are still indeed living in the body, but they wish to suffer no further from their connexion with the present life. They seek to aim at inward stability of mind in their intention, but are driven back by interrupting temptations, in order, namely, that they may remember their own infirmity, and may not be elated at the virtues which they receive. And when this is effected by the wonderful constraint of discipline, what else but frost is gendered from heaven over the watered earth? What but ice is produced from the womb of God, when the dispensation comes forth from its secret place within, and our wills are restrained even in their good desires?

63. Let us see with what ice of discipline Paul (that is, the watered earth) is weighed down, when he says, To will is present with me, but to perform what is good I find not. Rom. 7:18. For he who asserts that he has the will, makes known what seeds are even now concealed within him by the pouring of grace upon him. But whilst he finds not to do good, he certainly points out how much ice of the heavenly dispensation weighs on him. Had not this ice pressed their hearts, to whom he was saying, So that ye cannot do the things that ye would? Gal. 5:17. As if he were plainly saying, The secret seeds of your heart are now seeking to break forth into fruit, but they are kept down by the ice of the heavenly dispensation, in order that they may afterwards shoot forth more productively, the more patiently they bear the weight of the Divine judgment pressing on them.

64. And because the hearts of men, since they are unable to break out into those virtues which they desire, are frequently harassed with the stings of temptation, so far as they shrink back from carrying out their intention, but yet repress these same temptations of their thoughts, and fashion themselves, by the habit of discipline in a kind of strictness of living, it is well subjoined; The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone. Because, though unstable thoughts harass within, yet they do not at all lead to consent in wicked doings. But the mind conceals, under an habitual custom of good living, as if under a kind of exterior hardness, whatever is softened within by the assault of temptation. Whence it is well subjoined; And the surface of the deep is congealed. Because, even if an evil thought comes as far as to suggestion, it does not break out into consent, because the superinduced rigour of holy discipline suppresses the fluctuating motions of the mind.

65. But by ‘frost’ or ‘ice’ can also be designated the adversity of this present life, which while it keeps down the holy by its asperity, makes them stronger. For while Almighty God permits us to be exercised with annoyances, and carries us on to the condition of a better life by the intervention of sorrow, He genders with wonderful wisdom the frost and ice over the coming fruit; in order that each of the Elect may endure in this present life, as if in winter, the adversities of winds and frosts, and may exhibit afterwards, as in the serenity of summer, the fruits which he has here conceived. Whence it is said by the voice of the Bridegroom to every soul which is hastening after the whirlwind of this life to those joys of eternity, Arise, hasten, My beloved, My fair one, and come. For the winter has already passed, the shower has departed and gone. Sol. Song 2:10, 11. But because we are relaxed, if prosperity alone attends us, but are the better strengthened for virtues by means of adversities, it is rightly subjoined, The waters are hardened after the likeness of a stone. For minds, which had softly melted away through prosperities, become firm when hard pressed by adversities. And water is brought to the likeness of a stone, whenever any one who is weak imitates the sufferings of his Redeemer by endurance received from above. For water had, in truth, hardened after the fashion of stone, when Paul, that former impatient persecutor, was saying, I fill up those things which are wanting of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh. Col. 1:24.

66. And because persons, when depressed by adversities, guard more carefully their inward gifts, it is rightly added; And the surface of the deep is congealed. For joy is wont to lay open the secrets of the mind, and, by laying open, to lose them. But when adversities depress us outwardly, they make us more careful within. After frost then or ice, the surface of the deep is congealed, because our mind is strengthened by adversities, to preserve those deep gifts which it has received. For Isaiah had congealed the surface of his abyss, when he was saying; My secret to myself, my secret to myself. Is. 24:16. Paul had congealed the surface of his abyss, who labouring under so many dangers and adversities, under cover of some one else, speaks of himself, saying; I have heard secret words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. 2 Cor. 12:4. And again, But I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth in me, or heareth any thing of me. ib. 6. What then had he done, who, when enduring adversity without, was afraid to open the secrets of his heart, lest he should perchance vent himself in praises; what, but covered the abyss of his inward secrets by a congealed surface? It follows,

Ver. 31. Will thou be able to join together the shining stars, the Pleiades, or will thou be able to break up the circuit of Arcturus?

xxxi. 67. The stars Pleiades, are so called from πλεῖστος, that is, from plurality. But they were made so near to each other, and yet so distinct, that they can be near together, and yet cannot possibly be united, since they are united in nearness, but disunited as to contact. But Arcturus so illuminates the seasons of night, as placed in the axis of heaven, to turn itself in divers ways, and yet never to set. For it does not revolve out of its orbit, but placed in its own position, it inclines to all quarters of the world, though it will never set. What then is it, that man, who was formed from the earth, and placed upon the earth, is questioned as to the government of heaven, that he cannot join together the Pleiades, which he sees were made close to each other and almost united, and that he cannot break up the circuit of Arcturus, though he can behold it almost dissipated by its own rapidity of motion? Is it not, that considering in those His servants, the power of their Creator, he should remember his own weakness, and consider how beyond our comprehension is He, in the very government of His heavenly ministers, Whom he cannot as yet behold in His own majesty?

68. But why do we say these things, who are urged by the stimulus of reason, to learn the sense of these words pregnant with mystical meaning? For what else do the shining Pleiades, which are also seven in number, indicate, but all the Saints, who amid the darkness of this present life, illumine us with the light of the Spirit of sevenfold grace, who, from the first beginning of the world, even to its end, sent at divers times to prophesy, are in some degree united, and in some degree separate from each other? For the stars the Pleiades, as was before said, are united to each other in their contiguity, and disunited as to contact. They are situated indeed together, and yet pour forth separately the rays of their light. In like manner all the Saints appearing at different times for the purpose of preaching, are both disunited in our sight of their person, and united in their intention of mind. They shine together, because they preach One; but they touch not each other, because they are divided by different times.

69. At what different times did Abel, Isaiah, and John appear! They were separated indeed in time, but not in the subject of their preaching. For Abel offered up a lamb in sacrifice, typifying the passion of our Redeemer; of Whose passion Isaiah says; As a lamb before its shearer He will be dumb, and will not open His mouth. Is. 53:7. Of whom John also says; Behold the Lamb of God; behold, Who taketh away the sins of the world. John 1:29. Behold they were sent at different times indeed, and yet agreeing in their thought of the innocency of our Redeemer, they spake of the same Lamb, John by pointing to Him, Isaiah by foreseeing, and Abel by offering; and Him, Whom John set forth by pointing to Him, and Isaiah set forth in his words, Abel held, in signification, in his hands.

70. Because then we have said how the Pleiades accord together concerning the Humanity of our Redeemer, let us now point out how they shine in concord in setting forth the Unity of the Trinity. For David, Isaiah, and Paul appeared at different periods of the world. But yet none of them thought differently from another; because, though they knew not each other in face, yet they had learned one and the same thing by Divine knowledge. For David, in order to set forth God in Trinity as the Creator of all things, said, Let God bless us, our God, let God bless us. Ps. 67:6, 7. And for fear he should be considered to have spoken of three Gods, from his mentioning God three times, he immediately added, teaching thereby the Unity of the same Trinity; And let all the ends of the earth fear Him. For by adding not ‘them,’ but ‘Him,’ He intimated that the Three whom He had named were One. When Isaiah also was uttering praises of the Unity of the Trinity, he says, in describing the words of the Seraphim, Holy, Holy, Holy. Is. 6:3. But lest he should seem by mentioning ‘Holy’ thrice, to sever the unity of the Divine Substance, he added, Lord God of hosts. Because then he added not ‘Lords,’ ‘Gods,’ but ‘Lord God,’ he pointed out that that Being, Whom he had thrice called Holy, existed as One. Paul also, to set forth the operation of the Holy Trinity, says; Of Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things. And in order to teach the Unity of this same Trinity, he immediately added; To Him be glory for ever and ever. Rom. 11:36. Amen. By adding then not ‘to them,’ but to Him, he made Him known as One in nature, Three in Persons, Whom he had thrice addressed by the same word. The Pleiades therefore are both situated as it were in one place, because they think alike concerning God; and yet they touch not each other, because, as has been said, they are distributed through different periods of this world.

71. Which the Prophet Ezekiel well and briefly describes, who, when saying that he had beheld living creatures of different kinds, added; Their wings were joined one to another. Ez. 1:9. For the wings of living creatures are joined one to another; because though the things which they do are different, yet the voices and the virtues of the Saints are united together in one and the same sense. And though one may be a man, from doing all things rationally, another, who is bold in suffering, may be a lion, from not fearing the adversities of the world; another, from offering himself through abstinence as a living victim, may be a calf; another, from soaring on high on the wing of contemplation, may be an eagle; yet do they touch each other with their wings, whilst they fly, because they are united to each other by the confession of their words, and the accordance of their virtues. But because it belongs to the power of God alone both to join together in the preaching of the faith those who were sent at different times, and to unite in brightness of intention those that were endued with dissimilar virtues, it is rightly said; Wilt thou be able to join together the shining stars, the Pleiades? As if He said, As I, Who alone fill all things, and Who by filling the minds of the Elect join them in a sense of unity.

72. But by Arcturus, which illumines the night season in its orbit, and never sets, is designated, not the doings of the Saints separately manifested, but the whole Church together, which suffers indeed weariness, but yet does not incline to fall from its own proper position, which endures a circle of toils, but hastens not to set together with time. For Arcturus comes not with the night season to the lowest part of the heavens, but even while it is revolving itself, night is brought to a close. Because doubtless, while Holy Church is shaken with numberless tribulations, the shade of the present life comes to an end; and the night passes by, as it continues stationary, because while the Church remains in her own original condition, the lift; of this mortal state passes away. There is in Arcturus a point for us to observe more carefully. For it revolves with seven stars, and at one time raises three to the highest point, and depresses four to the lowest; at one time raises four on high, and depresses three below. Holy Church also, when she preaches at one time to unbelievers the knowledge of the Trinity, and at another the four virtues, that is, prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice, to believers, changes, as it were, by a kind of rotation in its preaching, the appearance of its position. For when she strips of confidence in their own doings those who boast of their own works, and exalts faith in the Trinity, what else does Arcturus, but elevate three stars, and depress four? And when she forbids some, who have no good works, to presume on their faith, and orders them to work out more earnestly the things which are commanded, what else does Arcturus do, but raise up four stars, and bring down three? Let us see how it elevates three, and depresses four. Behold it is said by Paul to those who were priding themselves on their works in opposition to faith; If Abraham were justified by works he hath glory, but not before God. For what saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Rom. 4:2, 3. Let us see how it elevates four and depresses three. Behold it is said by James to those that were boasting of faith in opposition to works; As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. James 2:26. Arcturus therefore revolves, because Holy Church turns herself on different sides with skill in preaching, according to the minds of her hearers. Arcturus revolves, because she is whirled round in the tribulations of this night. But the Lord breaks up at last this circuit of Arcturus, because He turns the labours of the Church into rest. Then does He also more entirely join the Pleiades, when He destroys the orbit of Arcturus, because all the Saints are then doubtless joined to each other even in outward appearance, when Holy Church at the end of this world is released from those labours which she now endures. Let Him say then; Wilt thou be able to join together the shining stars the Pleiades, or wilt thou be able to break up the circuit of Arcturus? Thou understandest As I, Myself, Who then unite the life of the Saints even in outward appearance, when I bodily dissolve the circuit of the Church Universal. And what man is ignorant that this is the act of Divine power alone? But let man, in order that he may know what he is himself, be constantly reminded what it is that God alone can effect.

73. We have still some other meaning to give of the stars the Pleiades, and Arcturus. For the Pleiades rise from the East, but Arcturus on the side of the North. But wherever Arcturus turns itself in its circle, it presents to view the Pleiades; and when the light of the day is now approaching, the order of its stars is extended. By Arcturus, then, which rises in the quarter of the cold, can be designated the Law; but by the Pleiades, which rise from the East, the grace of the New Testament. For the Law had, as it were, come from the North, which used to alarm those subject to it with such asperity of rigor. For while it was ordering some to be stoned for their faults, others to be punished by the death of the sword, it was, like a frozen region, far removed, as it were, from the light of charity, rather nipping the seeds of its precepts with cold, than nourishing them with warmth, Peter had shuddered at the weight of this oppression, when saying; Why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:10. Nor is it any wonder that the Old Testament is set forth by the seven stars of Arcturus, because both the seventh day was held in veneration under the Law, and the vows of the appointed sacrifice were extended through the whole week. But the Pleiades, which themselves are also seven, as we have before said, point out the more plainly the grace of the New Testament, the more clearly we all see, that by it the Holy Spirit enlightens His faithful ones with the light of the sevenfold gift. Wherever therefore Arcturus turns, it presents the Pleiades to view, because by every thing the Old Testament says, the works of the New Testament are announced. For under the text of the letter it conceals the mystery of prophecy. And Arcturus inclines itself, as it were, and points them out, because while it bends itself to the spiritual sense, the light of sevenfold grace, which is signified thereby, is laid open. And as the light of day approaches, the order of its stars is extended, because after the Truth became known to us by Itself, It released the precepts of the letter from carnal observance.

74. But our Redeemer, coming in the flesh, joined together the Pleiades; because He possessed the operations of the sevenfold Spirit all at once, and abiding in Himself. Of Whom it is said by Isaiah: There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse, and a flower shall grow up from his root, and the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge, and of godliness, and the Spirit of the fear of the Lord shall fill Him. Is. 11:1–3. Of Whom Zechariah says; Upon one stone are seven eyes. Zech. 3:9. And again, And on the golden candlestick seven lamps. ib. 4:2. But no man ever possessed all the operations of the Holy Spirit at once, except the sole Mediator between God and man, Whose is the same Spirit, Who proceedeth from the Father before all ages. It is well said, therefore, Upon one stone are seven eyes. For, for this Stone to have seven eyes, is to possess at once in operation every virtue of the Spirit of sevenfold grace. For one receives prophecy, another knowledge, another virtues, another kinds of tongues, another the interpretation of tongues, according to the distribution of the Holy Spirit. But no one attains to the possession of all the gifts of the same Spirit. But our Creator, in taking our weakness, because He taught us that by the power of His God-head He possessed all the virtues of the Holy Spirit at once, doubtless joined together the shining Pleiades. But whilst He joins the Pleiades, He breaks up the circuit of Arcturus. Because, when He made it known that He, having become Man, possessed all the operations of the Holy Spirit, He loosened in the Old Testament the burden of the letter, that each of the faithful may now understand that in the liberty of the Spirit, which he used, amid so many dangers, to serve with fear. Let blessed Job therefore hear; Wilt thou be able to join together the shining stars the Pleiades? As if it were openly said, Thou canst indeed possess the light of certain virtues, but art thou able to exercise at once all the operations of the Holy Spirit? Behold Me, therefore, uniting the Pleiades in all virtues, and be kept from boasting thyself of a few only. Hear what is said, Or will thou be able to break the circuit of Arcturus? As if it were openly said to him; Even if thou thyself now understandest what is right, canst thou do away by thy power, even in the hearts of others, the labour of grosser understanding? Consider Me therefore, who correct the follies of the carnal, whilst I manifest myself in the foolishness of the flesh, that thou mayest the more bring down these, which thou countest the mightinesses of thy virtues, the more thou canst not apprehend even the footsteps of My weakness. But, because, in the very mystery of the Lord’s Incarnation, the light of truth is manifested to some, but the hearts of others are darkened by an offence; it is lightly subjoined;

Ver. 32. Dost thou bring forth the morning star at its time, and dost thou make the evening star to rise over the sons of earth?

xxxiii. 75. For the Father brought forth the morning star in his season, because, as it is written; When the fulness of the time was come, God sent His Son born of a woman, made under the Law, to redeem them that are under the Law. Gal. 4:4. Who being born of a Virgin, appeared as the morning star, amid the darkness of our night, because, having put to flight the obscurity of sin, He announced to us the eternal morn. But He made Himself known as the morning star, because He arose in the morn from death, and overcame, by the brightness of His light, the hideous darkness of our mortality. Who is well called by John; The bright and morning star. Rev. 22:16. For, appearing alive after death, He became our morning star; because while He furnished us in His own person an instance of resurrection, He pointed out what light comes after. But the Lord makes the evening star to rise over the sons of earth, because He permits Antichrist to hold sway over the unbelieving hearts of the Jews, as their desert demands. And they are therefore justly subjected by the Lord to this evening star, because they chose of their own accord to be the sons of earth. For by seeking after, earthly, and not heavenly things, they were so blinded as not to behold the brightness of our morning star; and while they seek for the evening star to rule over them, they are plunged in the eternal night of subsequent damnation. Hence the Lord says in the Gospel, I came in My Father’s name, and ye received Me not; another will come in his own name, and him ye will receive. John 5:43. Hence Paul says; Because they receive not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, for this cause God shall send them the operation of error, that they should believe a lie, that they all might be judged who believed not the truth, but consented to iniquity. 2 Thess. 2:10–12. The evening star therefore would never rise over them, if they had wished to be the sons of heaven. But while they seek after visible things, having lost the light of the heart, they are in darkness under the prince of night.

76. But if we examine this in a moral sense, we find how it is daily occurring; because both the morning star doubtless rises on the Elect, and the evening star, by God’s permission, rules over the reprobate. For there is one and the same word of God in the mouth of the preacher. But while these hear it with joy, and those with envy, they change for themselves the brightness of the morning star into the darkness of the evening. Whilst these humbly receive the voice of holy preaching, they open, as it were, the eyes of the heart to the light of the star. But whilst those feel envy at one who advises them well, and seek not the cause of their salvation, but the glory of boasting, when the evening of their iniquity bursts forth, they close their eyes in the sleep of death. By a secret sentence, therefore, he who is the morning star to elect, is the evening star to reprobate hearers. Because by that holy exhortation, with which the good come back to life, the reprobate perish more fatally in sin. Whence it is well said by Paul; We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish, to the one the savour of death unto death, but to the other the savour of life unto life. 2 Cor. 2:15, 16. He saw then that his word, by which he beheld some roused from their iniquity, and others on the contrary lulled to sleep in their iniquity, was both the morning and the evening star to its hearers. And because this takes place by the secret judgment of God, which cannot be comprehended by men in this life, he rightly there subjoined; And who is sufficient for these things? As if he were saying; We are sufficient indeed to consider that these things occur, but we are not sufficient to investigate why they occur. Whence also, the Lord in this place, because He had said that the morning star is brought forth for some, but that the evening star rises for others, that man might not dare to scan the secret judgments of God, immediately subjoins;

Ver. 33. Knowest thou the course of heaven, and wilt thou set down the reason thereof on the earth?

xxxiii. 77. To know the course of heaven, is to see the secret predestinations of the heavenly disposals. But to set down the reason thereof on the earth is to lay open before the hearts of men the causes of such secrets. To set down, namely, the reason of heaven on the earth, is either to examine the mysteries of the heavenly judgments, by consideration, or to make them manifest in words. Which certainly no one can do who is placed in this life. For, to pass from little to greater things, who can understand what is the secret reason, that a just man frequently returns from a trial, not only unavenged, but even punished besides, and that his wicked adversary escapes, not only without punishment, but even victorious? Who can understand why one man, who plots for the deaths of his neighbours, survives, and another, who would be likely to preserve the lives of many, dies? One man, who is only eager to do hurt, attains the height of power, another only desires to defend the injured, and yet he himself is lying under oppression. One man wishes for leisure, and is involved in innumerable occupations, another wishes to be engaged in employments, and is compelled to be disengaged. One beginning badly is drawn on from worse to worse, even to the end of his life; another beginning well, proceeds through a long period of time to the increase of his merits. But, on the other hand, one, who is an evil liver, is spared for a long time, in order that he may improve; but another seems to be living properly, but continues in this life till he breaks out into evil ways. One, who has been born in the error of unbelief, perishes in his error; another, who has been born in the soundness of the Catholic faith, is perfected in the soundness of the Catholic faith. But, on the other hand, one, who has come forth from the womb of a Catholic Mother, is swallowed up, at the close of his life, in the gulph of error, but another terminates his life in Catholic piety, who, born in misbelief, had sucked in the poison of error with his mother’s milk. One both wishes, and is able, to aim at the loftiness of holy living; another is neither willing nor able. One wishes, and is not able; another is able, and is not willing. Who then can examine into these secrets of the heavenly judgments? Who can understand the secret balance of hidden equity? For no one attains to understand these recesses of secret judgments. Let this be said then to a man, that he may learn his own ignorance; let him know his own ignorance, that he may fear; let him fear, that he may be humbled; let him be humbled, that he may not trust in himself; let him trust not in himself, that he may seek for the assistance of his Creator, and that he who is dead from trusting in himself, may seek the assistance of his Maker, and live. Let the righteous man, then, who knows himself indeed, but who still knows not those things which are above him, hear the words, Knowest thou the course of heaven, and wilt thou set down the reason thereof upon the earth? That is, Dost thou comprehend the secret courses of the heavenly judgments, or art thou able to disclose them to the ears of men? Blessed Job therefore is questioned concerning his investigation of the incomprehensible judgments, as if it were plainly said to him, All things which thou sufferest, thou oughtest to endure the more patiently, the more, in thy ignorance of heavenly secrets, thou knowest not why thou sufferest them.








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