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From the sixth verse of the first chapter to the end, he follows out the exposition

according to the threefold interpretation [historical, allegorical, moral].




1.  Holy Writ is set before the eyes of the mind like a kind of mirror, that we may see our inward face in it; for therein we learn the deformities, therein we learn the beauties that we possess; there we are made sensible what progress we are making, there too how far we are from proficiency.  It relates the deeds of the Saints [al. ‘of the strong’], and stirs the hearts of the weak to follow their example, and while it commemorates their victorious deeds, it strengthens our feebleness against the assaults of our vices; and its words have this effect, that the mind is so much the less dismayed amidst conflicts as it sees the triumphs of so many brave men set before it.  Sometimes however it not only informs us of their excellencies, but also makes known their mischances, that both in the victory of brave men we may see what we ought to seize on by imitation, and again in their falls what we ought to stand in fear of.  For, observe how Job is described as rendered greater by temptation, but David by temptation brought to the ground, that both the virtue of our predecessors may cherish our hopes, and the downfall of our predecessors may brace us to the cautiousness of humility, so that whilst we are uplifted by the former to joy, by the latter we may be kept down through fears, and that the hearer's mind, being from the one source imbued with the confidence of hope, and from the other with the humility arising from fear, may neither swell with rash pride, in that it is kept down by alarm, nor be so kept down by fear as to despair, in that it finds support for confident hope in a precedent of virtue.


Ver.6.  Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.




2.  It is interesting to observe the method followed by Holy Writ in delineating, at the commencement of its relations, the qualities and the issues of the particular cases.  For one while by the position of the place, now by the posture of the body, now by the temperature of the air, and now by the character of the time, it marks out what it has coming after concerning the action which is to follow; as by the position of the place Divine Scripture sets forth the merits of the circumstances that follow, and the results of the case, as where it relates of Israel that they could not hear the words of God in the mount [Ex. 19, 17], but received the commandments on the plain; doubtless betokening the subsequent weakness of the people who could not mount up to the top, but enfeebled themselves by living carelessly in the lowest things.  By the posture of the body it tells of future events, as where in the Acts of the Apostles, Stephen discloses that he saw Jesus, Who sitteth at the right hand of the Power of God [Acts 7, 55, 56], in a standing posture; for standing is the posture of one in the act of rendering aid, and rightly is He discerned standing, Who gives succour in the press of the conflict.  By the temperature of the air, the subsequent event is shewn, as when the Evangelist was telling that none out of Judaea were at that time to prove believers in our Lord's preaching, he prefaced it by saying, and it was winter, for it is written, Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. [John 10, 22. Mat. 24, 12.]  Therefore he took care to particularize the winter season, to indicate that the frost of wickedness was in the hearers' hearts.  Hence it is that it is beforehand remarked of Peter, when on the point of denying our Lord, that it was cold, and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. [John 18, 18]  For he was now inwardly unenlivened by the warmth of Divine love, but to the love of this present life he was warming up, as though his weakness were set boiling by the persecutors' coals.  By the character of the time moreover the issue of the transaction is set forth, as it is related of Judas, who was never to be restored to pardon, that he went out at night to the treachery of his betrayal, where upon his going out, the Evangelist says, And it was night. [John 13, 30]  Hence too it is declared to the wicked rich man, This night shall thy soul be required of thee; for that soul which is conveyed to darkness, is not recorded as required in the day time, but in the night.  Hence it is that Solomon who received the gift of wisdom, but was not to persevere, is said to have received her in dreams and in the night.  Hence it is that the Angels visit Abraham at midday, but when proposing to punish Sodom, they are recorded to have come thither at eventide, Therefore, because the trial of blessed Job is carried on to victory, it is related to have begun by day, it being said,

Now there was a day, when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.




3.  Now who are called the sons of God, saving the elect Angels?  and as we know of them that they wait on the eyes of His Majesty, it is a worthy subject of inquiry, whence they come to present themselves before God.  For it is of these that it is said by the voice of Truth, Their angels do always behold the face of My Father, Which is in heaven? [Mat. 18. 10]  Of these the Prophet saith, thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. [Dan. 7, 10]  If then they ever behold and ever stand nigh, we must carefully and attentively consider whence they are come, who never go from Him; but since Paul says of them, Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them that shall be heirs of salvation? [Heb. 1, 14] in this, that we learn that they are sent, we discover whence they are come.  But see, we add question to question, and as it were while we strive to unloose the loop, we are only fastening a knot.  For how can they either always be in presence, or always behold the face of the Father, of they are sent upon external ministration for our salvation?  Which will however be the sooner believed, if we think of how great subtlety is the angelical nature.  For they never so go forth apart from the vision of God, as to be deprived of the joys of interior contemplation; for if when they went forth they lost the vision of the Creator, they could neither have raised up the fallen, nor announced the truth to those in ignorance; and that fount of light, which by departing they were themselves deprived of, they could in no wise proffer to the blind.  Herein then is the nature of Angels distinguished from the present condition of our own nature, that we are both circumscribed by space, and straitened by the blindness of ignorance; but the spirits of Angels are indeed bounded by space, yet their knowledge extends far above us beyond comparison; for they expand by external and internal knowing, since they contemplate the very source of knowledge itself.  For of those things which are capable of being known, what is there that they know not, who know Him, to Whom all things are known?  So that their knowledge when compared with ours is vastly extended, yet in comparison with the Divine knowledge it is little.  In like manner as their very spirits in comparison indeed with our bodies are spirits, but being compared with the Supreme and Incomprehensible Spirit, they are Body.  Therefore they are both sent from Him, and stand by Him too, since both in that they are circumscribed, they go forth, and in this, that they are also entirely present, they never go away.  Thus they at the same time always behold the Father's face, and yet come to us; because they both go forth to us in a spiritual presence, and yet keep themselves there, whence they had gone out, by virtue of interior contemplation; it may then be said, The sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord; inasmuch as they come back thither by a return of the spirit, whence they never depart by any withdrawal of the mind. 

And Satan came also among them.




4.  It is a very necessary enquiry, how Satan could be present among the elect Angels, he who had a long time before been damned and banished from their number, as his pride required.  Yet he is well described as having been present among them; for though he lost his blessed estate, yet he did not part with a nature like to theirs, and though his deserts sink him, he is lifted up by the properties of his subtle nature.  And so he is said to have come before God among the sons of God, for Almighty God, with that eye with which He regards all spiritual things, beholds Satan also in the rank of a more subtle nature, as Scripture testifies, when it says, The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good; [Prov. 15, 3] but this, viz. that Satan is said to have come before the presence of God, comes under a grave question with us; for it is written, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matt. 5, 8]  But Satan, who can never be of a pure heart, how could he have presented himself to see the Lord?


5.  But it is to be observed, that he is said to have come before the Lord, but not that he saw the Lord.  For he came to be seen, and not to see.  He was in the Lord's sight, but the Lord was not in his sight; as when a blind man stands in the sun, he is himself bathed indeed in the rays of light, yet he sees nothing of the light, by which he is brightened.  In like manner then Satan also appeared in the Lord's sight among the Angels.  For the Power of God, which by a look penetrates all objects, beheld the impure spirit, who saw not Him.  For because even those very things which flee from God's face cannot be hidden, in that all things are naked to the view of the Most High, Satan being absent came to Him, Who was present.

Ver.  7, And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?


6.  How is it that it is never said to the elect Angels, when they come, 'Whence come ye?' while Satan is questioned whence he comes?  For assuredly we never ask, but what we do not know; but God's not knowing is His condemning.  Whence at the last He will say to some, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, ye that work iniquity. [Luke 13, 27]  In the same way that a man of truth, who disdains to sin by a falsehood, is said not to know how to lie, not in being ignorant if he had the will to lie, but in disdaining to tell a falsehood, from love of truth.  What then is it to say to Satan, Whence comest thou? but to condemn his ways, as though unknown.  The light of truth then knows nought of the darkness, which it reproves; and the paths of Satan, which as a judge it condemns, it is meet that it should inquire after as though in ignorance of them.  Hence it is that it is said to Adam in his sin by his Creator's voice, Adam, where art thou? [Gen. 3, 9]  For Divine Power was not ignorant to what hiding place His servant had fled after his offence, but for that He saw that he, having fallen in his sin, was now as it were hidden under sin from the eyes of Truth, in that He approves not the darkness of his error, He knows not, as it were, where the sinner is, and both calls him, and asks him, saying, Adam, where art thou?  hereby, that He calls him, He gives a token that He recalls him to repentance; hereby, that He questions him, He plainly intimates that He knows not sinners, that justly deserve to be damned, Accordingly the Lord never calls Satan, but yet He questions him, saying, Whence comest thou?  without doubt because God never recalls the rebel spirit to repentance, but in not knowing his paths of pride, He condemns him; therefore while Satan is examined [discutitur] concerning his way, the elect Angels have not to be questioned whence they come, since their ways are known to God in so much as they are done of His own moving, and whilst they are subservient to His will alone, they can never be unknown to Him, in so far as, by His approving eye, it is Himself from Whom and before Whom they are done.  It follows,

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.




7.  The toilsomeness of labour is wont to be represented by the round of circuitous motion, Accordingly Satan went toiling round about the earth, for he scorned to abide at peace in the height of heaven; and whereas he intimates that he did not fly, but that he walked, he shews the weight of sin, by which he is kept down below.  Walking then up and down, he went to and fro in the earth, for tumbling down from that his soaring in spiritual mightiness, and oppressed by the weight of his own wickedness, he came forth to his round of labour.  For it is for no other reason that it is said of his members also by the Psalmist, The wicked walk on every side; for while they seek not things within, they weary themselves with toiling at things without.  It follows ;

Ver.  8.  And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?




8.  This point, viz, that blessed Job is by the voice of God called a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil, having explained above minutely and particularly, we forbear to rehearse what we have said, lest while we go over points that have been already examined, we should be slow in coming to those which have not.  This then requires our discreet consideration, how it is either that the Lord is said to speak to Satan, or that Satan is said to answer the Lord, for we must make out what this speaking means.  For neither by the Lord Who is the supreme and unbounded Spirit, nor by Satan, who is invested with no fleshly nature, is the breath of air inhaled by the bellows of the lungs, after the manner of human beings, so that by the organ of the throat it should be given back in the articulation of the voice; but when the Incomprehensible Nature speaks to an invisible nature, it behoves that our imagination rising above the properties of our corporeal speech should be lifted to the sublime and unknown methods of interior speech.  For we, that we may express outwardly the things which we are inwardly sensible of, deliver these through the organ of the throat, by the sounds of the voice, since to the eyes of others we stand as it were behind the partition of the body, within the secret dwelling place of the mind; but when we desire to make ourselves manifest, we go forth as though through the door of the tongue, that we may shew what kind of persons we are within.  But it is not so with a spiritual nature, which is not a twofold compound of mind and body.  But again we must understand that even when incorporeal nature itself is said to speak, its speech is by no means characterized by one and the same form.  For it is after one method that God speaks to the Angels, and after another that the Angels speak to God; in one manner that God speaks to the souls of Saints, in another that the souls of Saints speak to God; in one way God speaks to the devil, ill another the devil speaks to God.


9.  For because no corporeal obstacle is in the way of a spiritual being, God speaks to the holy Angels in the very act of His revealing to their hearts His inscrutable secrets, that whatsoever they ought to do they may read it in the simple contemplation of truth, and that the very delights of contemplation should be like a kind of vocal precepts, for that is as it were spoken to them as hearers which is inspired into them as beholders.  Whence when God was imparting to their hearts His visitation of vengeance upon the pride of man, He said, Come, let us go down, and there confound their language. [Gen. 11, 7]  He saith to those who are close about Him, Come, doubtless because this very circumstance of never decreasing from the contemplation of God, is to be always increasing in the contemplation of Him, and never to depart from Him in heart, is as it were to be always coming to Him by a kind of steady motion.  To them He also says, Let us go down, and there confound their language.  The Angels ascend in that they behold their Creator; the Angels descend in that by a strict examination they put down that which exalts itself in unlawful measure.  So then for God to say, Let us go down, and confound their speech, is to exhibit to them in Himself that which would be rightly done, and by the power of interior vision to inspire into their minds, by secret influences, the judgments which are fit to be set forth.


10.  It is after another manner that the Angels speak to God, as in the Revelation of John also they say, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom; for the voice of the Angels in the praises of God is the very admiration itself of inward contemplation.  To be struck dumb at the marvels of Divine goodness is to utter a voice, for the emotion of the heart excited with a feeling of awe is a mighty utterance of voice to the ears of a Spirit that is not circumscribed.  This voice unfolds itself as it were in distinct words, while it moulds itself in the innumerable modes of admiration.  God then speaks to the Angels when His inner will is revealed to them as the object of their perception; but the Angels speak to the Lord when by means of this, which they contemplate above themselves, they rise to emotions of admiration.


11.  In one way God speaks to the souls of Saints, in another the souls of Saints speak to God; whence too it is again said in the Apocalypse of John, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word if God, and for the testimony which.  they held: and they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost Thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? [Rev. 6, 9. 10.]  Where in the same place it is added, And white robes were given unto every one of them, and it was said unto them that they should rest for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled; [Rev. 6, 11] for what else is it for souls to utter the prayer for vengeance, but to long for the day of final Judgment, and the resurrection of their lifeless bodies?  For their great cry is their great longing; for everyone cries the less, the less he desires; and he utters the louder voice in the ears of an uncircumscribed Spirit in proportion as he more entirely pours himself out in desire of Him, and so the words of souls are their very desires.  For if the desire were not speech, the Prophet would not say, Thine ear hath heard the desire of their heart; [Ps. 10, 17] but as the mind which beseeches is usually affected one way and the mind which is besought another, and yet the souls of the Saints so cleave to God in the bosom of their inmost secresy, that in cleaving they find rest, how are those said to beseech, who it appears are in no degree at variance with His interior will?  How are they said to beseech, who, we are assured, are not ignorant, either of God's will or of those things which shall be?  Yet whilst fixed on Himself they are said to beseech any thing of Him, not in desiring aught that is at variance with the will of Him, Whom they behold, but in proportion as they cleave to Him with the greater ardour of mind, they also obtain from Him to beseech that of Him, which they know it is His will to do; so that they drink from Him that which they thirst after from Him.  And in a manner to us incomprehensible as yet, what they hunger for in begging, they are filled withal in foreknowing; and so they would be at variance with their Creator's will, if they did not pray for that which they see to be His will, and they would cleave less closely to Him, if when He is willing to give, they knocked with less lively longing.  These receive the answer spoken from God, Rest yet for a little season, till your fellowservants and your brethren be fulfilled.  To say to those longing souls, rest yet for a little season, is to breathe upon them amid their burning desires, by the very foreknowledge, the soothings of consolation; so that both the voice of the souls is that desire which through love they entertain, and God's address in answer is this, that He reassures them in their desires with the certainty of retribution.  For Him then to answer that they should await the gathering of their brethren to their number, is to infuse into their minds the delays of a glad awaiting, that while they long after the resurrection of the flesh, they may be further gladdened by the accession of their brethren who remain to be gathered to them.


12.  It is in one way that God speaks to the devil, and in another that the devil speaks to God, For God's speaking to the devil is His rebuking his ways and dealings with the visitation of a secret scrutiny, as it is here said, Whence comest thou?  But the devil's answering Him, is his being unable to conceal any thing from His Omnipotent Majesty; whence he says, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.  For it is as it were for him to say what he had been doing, that he knows that he cannot hide his doings from the eyes of That Being.  But we must understand that, as we learn in this place, God has four ways of speaking to the devil, and the devil has three ways of speaking to God, God speaks to the devil in four modes, for He both reprehends his unjust ways, and urges against him the righteousness of His Saints, and lets him by permission try their innocence, and sometimes stops him that he dare not tempt them, Thus he rebukes his unjust ways, as has been just now said, Whence camnest thou?  He urges against him the righteousness of His own elect, as He saith, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth? [Job 1, 8]  He allows him by permission to put their innocence to the test, as when He says, All that he hath is in thy power. [ver. 12]  And again He prevents him from tempting, when He says, But upon himself put not forth thy hand.  But the devil speaks to God in three ways, either when he communicates to Him his dealing, or when he calumniates the innocence of the elect with false charges, or when he demands the same innocence to put it to trial.  For he communicates his ways who says, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. [ver. 7]  He calumniates the innocence of the elect, when he says, Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about all his house, and about all that he hath on every side? [ver. 9, 10] He demands the same innocence to be subjected to trial, when he says, But put forth Thine hand now and touch all that he hath and he will curse Thee to Thy face.  But God's saying, Whence comest thou? is His rebuking by virtue of His own goodness that one's paths of wickedness.  His saying, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in all the earth? is His making the elect, by justifying them, such as a rebel angel might envy.  God's saying, All that he hath is in thy power, is, for the probation of the Saints, His letting loose upon them that assault of the wicked one, by the secret exercise of His power.  God's saying, Only upon himself put not forth thine hand, is His restraining him from an excessive assault of temptation, even in giving him permission.  But the devil's saying, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it, signifies His inability to conceal from His unseen eyes the cunning of his wickedness.  The devil's saying, Doth Job fear God for nought? is his complaining against the just within the hiding places of his own thoughts, his envying their gains, and from envy searching out flaws for their condemnation.  The devil's saying, Put forth Thine hand now and touch all that he hath, is his panting with the fever of wickedness to afflict the just.  For in that through envy he longs to tempt the just, he seeks as it were by entreaty to put them to the test.  Now then, as we have briefly described the methods of inward speaking, let us return to the thread of interpretation, which has been slightly interrupted.

Ver.  8.  Have thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?


13.  The point has been already discussed in the foregoing discourse, that the devil proposed a contest not with Job but with God, blessed Job being set between them as the subject of the contest; and if we say that Job amid the blows erred in his speech, we assert what it is impious to imagine, that God was the loser in His pledge.  For, lo, here also it is to be remarked, that the devil did not first beg the blessed Job of the Lord, but the Lord commended him to the contempt of the devil; and unless He had known that he would continue in his uprightness, He would not assuredly have undertaken for him.  Nor would He give him up to perish in the temptation, against whom, before the temptation was sent, those firebrands of envy were kindled in the tempter's mind from God's own commendations.


14.  But the old adversary, when he fails to discover any evil of which he might accuse us, seeks to turn our very good points into evil, and being beaten upon works, looks through our words for a subject of accusation; and when he finds not in our words either ground of accusation, he strives to blacken the purpose of the heart, as though our good deeds did not come of a good mind, and ought not on that account to be reckoned good in the eyes of the Judge.  For because he sees the fruit of the tree to be green even in the heat, he seeks as it were to set a worm at its root.  For he says,

Ver.  9, 10.  Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast Thou, not made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in, the land.


15.  As if he said in plain terms, ‘What wonder is it, if he who has received so many blessings upon earth should behave without offence in return for them?  He would then be really innocent, if he continued good in adversity; but why is he to be called great, whose every work has its recompense attending upon him, in all this abundance of good things?’  For the crafty adversary, when he bethinks himself that the holy man had acted well in prosperity, hastens by means of adversity to prove him guilty before the Judge.  Whence it is well said by the voice of the Angel in the Apocalypse, The accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before God day and night. [Rev. 12, 10]  Now holy Scripture is often used to set the day for prosperity, and the night for adversity.  Accordingly he ceases not to accuse us by day and by night; forasmuch as he strives to shew us to be chargeable one while in prosperity, another while in adversity.  In the day he accuses us, when he slanders us that we abuse our good fortune; in the night he accuses us, when he shews that we do not exercise patience in adversity; and therefore because no strokes had as yet touched blessed Job, he was as it were still wholly without that whereof he might be able to accuse him by night, but because in prosperity he had thriven in a great holiness, he pretended that it was in return for his good fortune that he had done well, lying in the crafty assertion, that he did not keep his substance for the profit [usum] of the Lord, but that he served the Lord for the profit [usum] of his substance.  For there are some who, to enjoy God, dea1 with this life like stewards, and there are some who to enjoy this life would make use of God by the bye.  When then he describes the gifts of Divine bounty, he thinks to make light of the acts of the resolute doer, that he might impeach [addicat] the heart of him as though on the score of secret thoughts, whose life he was unable to reprove on the score of works; falsely asserting that whatever outward innocence of life there might be, was in compliance not with the love of God, but with his longing after temporal prosperity.  And so knowing nothing of the powers of blessed Job, and yet being well aware that everyone is most truly tried by adversity, he demands him for trial, that he who throughout the day of prosperity had walked with unfailing foot, at least in the night of adversity might stumble, and by the offence of impatience might be laid low before the eyes of his commender.  Whence he adds,

Ver.  11.  But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.




16.  When Satan has a desire to tempt the holy man, and yet tells the Lord that He must put forth His hand against him, it is very deserving of notice that even he, who is so especially lifted up against the Maker of all things, never claims to himself the power to strike; for the devil knows well that he is unable to do any thing of himself, for neither in that he is a spirit does he subsist by himself.  Hence it is that in the Gospel, the legion, which was to be cast out of the man, exclaimed, If Thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine; [Mat. 8, 31] for what wonder is it if he, who could not by his own power enter into the swine, had no power without the Creator's hand to touch the holy man's house?


17.  But we must know that the will of Satan is always evil, but his power is never unjust, for his will he derives from himself, but his power he derives from God.  For what he himself unrighteously desires to do, God does not allow to be done except with justice.  Whence it is well said in the book of Kings, the evil spirit of God came upon Saul. [1 Sam. 18, 10]  You see that one and the same spirit is both called the Lord's spirit and an evil Spirit; the Lord's, that is, by the concession of just power, but evil, by the desire of an unjust will, so that he is not to be dreaded, who has no power but by permission; and, therefore, that Power is the only worthy object of fear, which when It has allowed the enemy to vent his rage, makes even his unjust will serve the purpose of a just judgment.  But he requires that His hand should be put forth a little; they being external things, of which he seeks the hurt.  For Satan even does not consider himself to accomplish much, unless he inflicts a wound in the soul, that by so smiting he may bring one back from that country, from which he lies far removed, laid prostrate by the weapon of his own pride.


18.  But why is it that he says, if he have not blessed Thee to Thy face? [so Vulg.]  We look, it means, toward that we love, but that we would be quit of, we turn away our face from it.  What then is the face of God, unless the regard of His favour is set before us to be understood?  Accordingly he says, But put forth Thine hand a little [Vulg. paullullum, E.V. now], and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.  As if he had said in plain words, Withdraw the things which Thou hast given him, for if he lose Thy gifts, he will no longer seek the regard of Thy favour, when his temporal good things are taken away.  For if he no longer has the things in which he takes delight, he will despise Thy favour even to cursing Thee.  By which crafty address The Truth Whom he challenges is in no wise overcome; but that is permitted the enemy to his own undoing, which may be reckoned to the faithful servant for the increase of his reward; for which cause it is immediately subjoined,

Ver.  12.  Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.




19.  We should mark in the Lord's words the dispensations of heavenly pity, how He lets go our enemy, and keeps him in; how He looses, and yet bridles him.  He allows him some things for temptation, but withholds him from others.  All that he hath is in thy hand, only upon himself put not forth thine hand.  His substance He delivers over, but still He protects his person, which notwithstanding after a while He designs to give over to the tempter; yet He does not loose the enemy to every thing at once, lest he should crush His own subject [civem] by striking him on every side.  For whenever many evils betide the elect, by the wonderful graciousness of the Creator they are dealt out by seasons, that what by coming all together would destroy, may when divided be borne up against.  Hence Paul says, 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]  Hence David says, Examine me, O Lord, and prove me. [Ps. 26, 2]  As if he said in plain words, ‘first examine my powers, and then, as I am able to bear, let me undergo temptation.’  But this that is said, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand, is also capable of another sense, viz. that the Lord knew well, indeed, that His soldier was brave, yet chose to divide for him his contests with the enemy, that, though victory should in every case be sure to that staunch warrior, yet that from one conflict first the enemy might return to the Lord defeated, and that then he might grant him another encounter to be again worsted, so that his faithful follower might come forth the more incomparable conqueror, in proportion as the vanquished foe had repaired his forces again for fresh wars with him.  It follows,

So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.




20.  What is this, that Satan is said to go forth from the presence of the Lord?  For how is it possible to go forth from Him, Who is every where present?  Whence it is that He says, Do not I fill heaven and earth? [Jer. 23, 24]  Hence it is written concerning His Spirit, For the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world. [Wisd. 1, 7] Hence it is that His Wisdom saith, I alone compassed the circuit of heaven. [Ecclus. 24, 5]  Hence it is that the Lord says again, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool. [Isa. 66, 1]  And again it is written of Him, He meteth out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, [Is. 40, 12. Vulg.] for He abides both within and without the seat, whereon He rules.  By His ‘meting out heaven with a span, and comprehending the earth in a measure,’ He is shewn to be Himself on every side beyond the circuit of all things which He has created.  For that which is enclosed within is from without held in by that which encloseth it.  "By the throne, therefore, whereon He is seated, it is meant that He is within and above; by the ‘measure,’ wherewith , ‘He comprehends,’ He is represented to be beyond and beneath; for whereas the same Being abides within all things, without all things, above all things, beneath all things, He is both above by virtue of His Dominion, and beneath by virtue of His Upholding; without, by His Immensity, and within, by His Subtlety; ruling from on high, holding together from below; encompassing without, penetrating within; not abiding by one part above, by another beneath, or by one part without, and by another part within, but One and the Same, and wholly every where, upholding in ruling, ruling in upholding; penetrating in encompassing, encompassing in penetrating; whence He ruleth from above, thence upholding from beneath, and whence He enfoldeth from without, thence filling up within; ruling on high without disquietude, upholding below without effort; within, penetrating without attenuation, without, encompassing without expansion.  So that He is both lower and higher, without place; He is wider without breadth; He is more subtle without rarity.


21.  Whither then is there any ‘going forth’ from Him, Who being through the bulk of a body no where present, is through a Substance unlimited no where absent?  Still, so long as Satan, kept down by the power of His Majesty, was unable to execute the longing of his wickedness, he, as it were, stood in the presence of the Lord, but he ‘went forth’ from the presence of the Lord, because, being freed from above from the pressure of an inward withholding, he went to the execution of his desire.  He went forth from the presence of the Lord, forasmuch as his evil will, long bound by the fetters of a severe control, did at length proceed to fulfilment.  For, as has been said, whilst that which he desired he had no power to fulfil, in a manner, he ;stood in the presence of the Lord,’ because the Supreme Providence restrained him from the execution of his wickedness, but ‘he went forth from His presence,’ because in receiving the power to tempt, he arrived at the goal, at which his wickedness aimed, It goes on:

Ver.  13, 14, 15, And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




22.  We ought to observe what times are suited for temptations; for the devil chose that as the time for tempting, when he found the sons of the blessed Job engaged in feasting; for the adversary does not only cast about what to do, but also when to do it.  Then though he had gotten the power, yet he sought a fitting season to work his overthrow, to this end, that by God's disposal it might be recorded for our benefit, that the delight of full enjoyment is the forerunner of woe.  But we should observe the craft with which the losses that were inflicted by him are themselves related; for it is not said, ‘the oxen have been carried off by the Sabeans,’ but ‘the oxen, which have been carried away, were ploughing,’ with the view doubtless that by mention of the profit of their labour, his cause for sorrow should be increased; for the same reason also [LXX. ai yhlei-ai onoi] among the Greeks it is not only asses, but asses with young, that are reported to have been taken away, that while such insignificant animals might less hurt the mind of the hearer from their value, they might from their productiveness inflict the sorer wound; and as misfortunes afflict the mind the more in proportion as, being many in number, they are also suddenly announced, the measure of his woes was enlarged even through the junctures at which the tidings arrived.  For it follows,

Ver.  16, While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.


23.  Lest the loss of his property might not stir up sufficient grief at the hearing, he urges his feelings to exceed by the very words of the messengers.  For it is to be remarked how craftily it is said, the fire of God, as though it were said, thou art suffering the visitation of Him, Whom thou desiredst to appease by so many sacrifices: thou art undergoing the wrath of Him, in Whose service thou didst daily weary thyself!  For in signifying that God, Whom he had served, had brought upon him his misfortunes, he mentions a sore point on which he may break forth; to the end that he might recall to mind his past services, and reckoning that he had served in vain, might be lifted up against the injustice of the Author.  For the godly mind, when it finds itself to meet with crosses from the hands of man, finds repose in the consolations of Divine favour; and when it sees the storms of trial gather strength without, then seeking the covert of trust in the Lord, it takes refuge within the haven of the conscience.  But that the cunning adversary might at one and the same moment crush the bold heart of the holy man, both by strokes from man and by despair in God, he both brought tidings at first that the Sabeans had made an irruption, and announced immediately afterwards that the fire of God had fallen from heaven, that he might as it were shut up every avenue of consolation, whereas he shews even Him to be against him, Who might have solaced his spirit amidst his adversities; so that considering himself in his trials to be on every side forsaken, and on every side in a strait, he might burst into reviling with so much the more hardihood as he did it in the greater desperation.  It goes on;

Ver.  17.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




24.  Lo again, lest any thing should be wanting to his grief for the adversity that came of man, he brings tidings that bands of the Chaldeans had broken in, and lest the calamity that came from above should strike him with too little force, he shews that wrath is repeated in the heavens.  For it follows;

Ver. 18, 19.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.


25.  He who is not laid low by one wound is in consequence stricken twice and thrice, that at one time or another he may be struck to the very core.  Thus the blow from the Sabeans had been reported, the Divine visitation by fire from heaven had been reported, tidings are brought of the plundering of the camels, by man again, and of the slaughter of his servants, and the fury of God's displeasure is repeated, in that a fierce wind is shewn to have smitten the comers of the house, and to have overwhelmed his children.  For because it is certain that without the Sovereign dictate the elements can never be put in motion, it is covertly implied that He, Who let them be stirred, did Himself stir up the elements against him, though, when Satan has once received the power from the Lord, he is able even to put the elements into commotion to serve his wicked designs.  Nor should it disturb us, if a spirit cast down from on high should have the power to stir the air into storms, seeing that we know doubtless that to those even who are sentenced to the mines fire and water render service to supply their need.  So then he obtained that tidings should be brought of misfortunes; he obtained that they should be many in number; he obtained that they should come suddenly.  Now the first time that he brought bad tidings he inflicted a wound upon his yet peaceful breast, as upon sound members; but when he went on smiting the stricken soul, he dealt wound upon wound, that he might urge him to words of impatience.


26.  But we should observe with what craftiness the ancient foe busied himself to break down the patience of the holy man, not so much by the loss of his substance as by the very order of the announcements.  He, taking pains to announce first the slight disasters, and afterwards the greater ones, last of all brought him intelligence of the death of his sons, lest the father should account the losses of his property of slight importance, if he heard of them when now childless, and lest it should the less disturb him to part with his goods, after he had learnt the death of his children, considering that the inheritance were no more, if he first removed out of the way those who were reserved to inherit it.  So beginning from the least, he announced the worst intelligence last; that while worse disasters were made known to him in succession, every wound might find room for pain within his breast. Take notice of the craft with which so many a weight of ill is announced, both separately and at the same time suddenly, that his grief being increased both of a sudden and in point after point, might not contain itself within the hearer's breast, and that it might so much the more inflame him to utter blasphemy, as the fire, kindled within him by those sudden and multiplied tidings, raged in a narrower space.


27.  Nor do I think that this ought to be lightly passed over, that the sons when they perish were feasting in the house of their elder brother.  For it has been declared above that feasts can scarcely be gone through without transgression.  To speak then of our own concerns and not of theirs, the lesson we ought to learn is, that what the younger ones do for pleasure's sake is checked by the control of the elder, but when the elder are themselves followers of pleasure, then, we may be sure, the reins of license are let loose for the younger; for who would keep himself under the control of authority, when even the very persons, who receive the right of control, freely give themselves to their pleasures?  And so while they are feasting in the house of their elder brother, they perish, for then the enemy gets more effective power against us, when he marks that even those very persons, who are advanced for the keeping of discipline, are abandoned to joviality.  For he is so much the more free and forward to strike, as he sees that they too, who might intercede for our faults, are taken up with pleasure.  But far be it from us to suspect that the sons of so great a man were by devotedness to feasts given up to the gorging of the belly.  But still we know for certain that though a man, by the observance of self control, may not pass the bounds of necessity in eating, yet the animated earnestness of the mind is dulled amidst feasting, and that mind is less apt to reflect in what a conflict of temptations it is placed, which throws off restraint in a sense of security.  In the eldest brother's day then he overwhelmed the sons, for the old foe in compassing the death of the younger, seeks an inlet for their ruin through the carelessness of the elder ones. But as we have marked with what piercing darts the tidings struck him, let us hear how our man of valour stands fast amid the blows, It proceeds;

Ver. 20.  Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.




28.  There are some who account it a high degree of philosophical fortitude, if, when corrected by severe discipline, they are insensible to the strokes, and to the pains of those stripes.  And there are some who feel to such excess the infliction of the blows, that under the influence of immediate grief, they even fall into excesses of the tongue.  But whoever strives to maintain true philosophy, must go between either extreme, for the weightiness of true virtue consists not in dulness of heart, as also those limbs are very unhealthy from numbness which cannot feel any pain even when cut.  Again, he deserts his guard over virtue, who feels the pain of chastisement beyond what is necessary; for while the heart is affected with excessive sorrow, it is stirred up to the extent of impatient reviling, and he who ought to have amended his misdeeds by means of the stripes, does his part that his wickedness should be increased by the correction.  Agreeably to which, against the insensibility in the chastised, the words of the Prophet are, Thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; Thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction. [Jer. 5, 3]  Against the faintheartedness of the chastened the Psalmist hath it, They will never stand fast in adversity; [Ps. 140, 10. Vulg.] for they would ‘stand fast in adversity,’ if they bore calamities with patience, but so soon as they sink in spirit, when pressed with blows, they as it were lose the firmness of their footing, amidst the miseries inflicted on them.


29.  Thus because blessed Job observed the rule of the true philosophy, he kept himself from either extreme with the evenness of a marvellous skill, that he might not by being insensible to the pain contemn the strokes, nor again, by feeling the pain immoderately, be hurried madly against the visitation of the Striker.  For when all his substance was lost, all his children gone, he rose up, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.  In that he rent his mantle, in that he shaved his head and fell down upon the ground, he shews, we see, that he has felt the pain of the scourge; but in that it is added that he worshipped, it is plainly shewn that even in the midst of pain, he did not break forth against the decree of the Smiter.  He was not altogether unmoved, lest by his very insensibility he should shew a contempt of God; nor was he completely in commotion, lest by excess of grief he should commit sin.  But because there are two commandments of love, i.e.  the love of God, and of our neighbour; that he might discharge the love of our neighbour, he paid the debt of mourning to his sons; that he might not forego the love of God, he performed the office of prayer amidst his groans.  There are some that use to love God in prosperity, but in adversity to abate their love of Him from whom the stroke comes.  But blessed Job, by that sign which he outwardly shewed in his distress, proved that he acknowledged the correction of his Father, but herein, that he continued humbly worshipping, he shewed that even under pain he did not give over the love of that Father.  Therefore that he might not shew pride by his insensibility, he fell down at the stroke, but that he might not estrange himself from the Striker, he so fell down as to worship.  But it was the practice of ancient times for everyone, who kept up the appearance of his person by encouraging the growth of his hair, to cut it off in seasons of mourning; and, on the other hand that he who in peaceful times kept his hair cut, should in evidencing his distress cherish its growth.  Thus blessed Job is shewn to have preserved his hair in the season of rest, when he is related to have shaven his head for the purpose of mourning, that whereas the hand of the Most High was fallen upon him in all the circumstances of his condition, the altered mien of penance might even by his own act overcloud him.  But such an one, spoiled of his substance, bereft of his children, that rent his mantle, that shaved his head, that fell down upon the ground, let us hear what he says!

Ver.  21.  Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither.




30.  Oh!  upon how elevated a seat of the counsels of the heart does he sit enthroned, who now lies prostrate on the earth with his clothes rent!  For because by the judgment of the Lord he had lost all that he had, for the preserving his patience he brought to mind that time, when he had not as yet those things which he had lost, that, whilst he considers that at one time he had them not, he may moderate his concern for having lost them; for it is a high consolation in the loss of what we have, to recall to mind those times, when it was not our fortune to possess the things which we have lost.  But as the earth has produced all of us, we not unjustly call her our mother.  As it is written, An heavy yoke is upon the sons of Adam, from the day that they go out of their mother's womb, till the day that they return to the mother of all things. [Ecclus. 40, 1]


Blessed Job then, that he might mourn with patience for what he had lost here, marks attentively in what condition he had come hither.  But for the furtherance of preserving patience, with still more discretion he considers, how he will go hence, and exclaims, Naked came lout of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither.  As though he said, ‘Naked did the earth bear me, when I came upon this scene, naked it will receive me back, when I depart hence.  I then who have lost what I had indeed given me, but what must yet have been abandoned, what have I parted with that was my own?’  But because comfort is not only to be derived from the consideration of our creation [conditionis ‘conditoris.’], but also from the justice of the Creator, he rightly adds,

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done. [so V. and lxx.]




31.  The holy man, under trial from the adversary, had lost every thing, yet knowing that Satan had no power against him to tempt him, saving by the Lord's permission, he does not say, ‘the Lord hath given, the devil hath taken away,’ but the Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away.  For perchance it would have been a thing to grieve for, if what his Creator had given him, his enemy had taken from him: but when no other hath taken it away, saving He Who Himself gave it, He hath only recalled what was His own, and hath not taken away what was ours.  For if we have from Him all that we make use of in our present life, what cause for grief that by His own decree we are made to surrender, of Whose bounty we have a loan?  Nor is he at any time an unfair creditor, who while he is not bound to any set time of restitution, exacts, whenever he will, what he lends out.  Whereupon it is well added, As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done; for since in this life we undergo things which we would not, it is needful for us to turn the bias of our will to Him, Who can will nought that is unjust.  For there is great comfort in what is disagreeable to us, in that it comes to us by His disposal, to Whom nought but justice is pleasing.  If then we be assured that what is just is the Lord's pleasure, and if we can suffer nothing but what is the Lord's pleasure, then all is just that we undergo, and it is great injustice, if we murmur at a just suffering. 


32.  But since we have heard how the intrepid speaker put forward the vindication of his cause against the adversary, now let us hear how in the end of his speech he extols the Judge with benedictions.  It follows, Blessed be the Name of the Lord.  See how he concluded all that he felt alight with a blessing on the Lord, that the adversary might both perceive hence, and for his punishment under defeat take shame to himself, that he himself even though created in bliss had proved a rebel to that Lord, to Whom a mortal even under His scourge utters the hymn of glory.


But be it observed, that our enemy strikes us with as many darts as he afflicts us with temptations; for it is in a field of battle that we stand every day, every day we receive the weapons of his temptations.  But we ourselves too send our javelins against him, if, when pierced with woes, we answer humbly.  Thus blessed Job, when stricken with the loss of his substance and with the death of his children, forasmuch as he turned the force of his anguish into praise of his Creator, exclaiming, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done; blessed be the Name of the Lord:  by his humility, struck down the enemy in his pride, and by his patience, laid low the cruel one.  Let us never imagine that our combatant received wounds, and yet inflicted none.  For whatever words of patience he gave forth to the praise of God, when he was stricken, he as it were hurled so many darts into the breast of his adversary, and inflicted much sorer wounds than he underwent; for by his affliction he lost the things of earth, but by bearing his affliction with humility, he multiplied his heavenly blessings.  It follows,

Ver.22.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.


33.  Since, when we are laid hold of by distressing trials, we may even in the silent working of our thoughts, without word of mouth, be guilty of sin; the testimony both of the lips and of the heart is given to blessed Job.  For it is first said, he sinned not, and then it is afterwards added, nor charged God foolishly: for he, who uttered nothing foolishly, kept offence from his tongue, and whereas the words, he sinned not, come before, it appears that he excluded the sin of murmuring even from his thought, so that he neither sinned nor spake foolishly, since he neither swelled with indignation in his silent consciousness, nor gave a loose to his tongue in reviling.  For he does ‘charge God foolishly,’ who, when the strokes of divine chastisement are fallen upon him, strives to justify himself.  For if he venture in pride to assert his innocence, what else does he, but impugn the justice of the chastiser?  Let it suffice for us to have run through the words of the history thus far: let us now turn the discourse of our exposition to investigate the mysteries of allegory.  And herein, that it is written,

Ver.6.  Now there was a day when  the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.




34.  It is first to be made out, wherefore any thing is said to be done on a particular day before the Lord, whereas with Him the progress of time is never marked by the variation of day and night.  For neither does that light, which without coming enlighteneth whatsoever it chooseth, and without going forsaketh those things which it rejects, admit any imperfection of mutability; for, while it abideth unchangeable in itself, it orders all things that are subject to change, and has in such sort created all transient beings in itself, that in it they are incapable of transition, nor is there inwardly in His sight any lapse of time, which with us, without Him, has its course.  Whence it comes to pass that those revolutions of the world remain fixed in His eternity, which, having no fixedness out of Him issue into existence [emanant].  Why then in relation to Him is it said, one day, in that His one day is His eternity?  Which same the Psalmist perceived to be closed by no ending, and to open with no beginning, where he says, One day in Thy courts is better than a thousand. [Ps. 84, 10. Vulg.]


35.  But as Holy Scripture speaks to those who are brought forth in time, it is meet that it should use words significant of time, in order that it may lift us up by so condescending, and that while it relates something that belongs to eternity after the manner of time, it may gradually transfer to the eternal world those who are habituated to the things of time, and that that eternity, which is unknown, while it amuses [blanditur] us with words that are known, may successfully impart itself to our minds.  And what wonder is it, if in Holy Writ God is not overhasty to disclose the unchangeableness of His Nature to the mind of man, since after He had celebrated the triumph [solemnitate] of His Resurrection, it was by certain progressive steps that He made known the incorruptibility of the Body which He resumed again.  For we have learnt from the testimony of Luke, that He first sent Angels to some, that were seeking for Him in the tomb; and again to the disciples who were talking of Him by the way, He Himself appeared, yet not so as to be known by them, Who indeed after the delay of an exhortation did shew Himself to be known of them in the breaking of bread; but at last, entering suddenly, He not only presented Himself to be known by sight, but to be handled also.  For because the disciples still carried about with them faint hearts, in coming to the knowledge of this marvellous mystery they were to be nourished by such a method of its dispensation, that by little and little in seeking they might find some portion, that finding they might gain growth, and growing they might hold the faster the truths which they had learnt.  Inasmuch then as we are not led to the eternal world at once, but by a progression of cases and of words as though by so many steps, this or that is said to be done on a certain day before Him within, Who views even time itself also out of time.


36.  Or forasmuch as Satan too was there, was it the aim of Holy Scripture, when it says that this was done on a certain day, to point out that in the light God beheld the darkness?  For we are unable to embrace light and darkness in one and the same view, in that when the eye is fixed upon darkness, the light is put to flight, and when the eye is directed to the glittering rays of light, the shades of darkness disappear.  But to that Power, Which in unchangeableness beholds all things changeable, Satan was present as in the day, in that It embraces undimmed the darkness of the apostate Angel.  We, as we have said, cannot survey at one view both the objects which we choose in approval, and those which we condemn in disapproval; for while the mind is directed to the one subject, it is withdrawn from the other, and when it is brought back to this latter it is taken off from that, to which it had attached itself.


37.  But forasmuch as God without changing beholds all things at the same instant, and without extension embraces all, i.e.  both the good that He aids, and the evil that He judges; both that which thus aiding He rewards, and that which so judging He condemns; He is not Himself different in the things which He sets in different order.  Accordingly Satan is said to have come before Him on a day, in that the light of His eternity is proof against the overclouding of any change; and herein, that the darkness is made present to Him, he is said to have presented himself among the sons of God, because in fact the impure spirit is penetrated by the self-same Power of Righteousness, wherewith the hearts of pure spirits are replenished; and that being is pierced through with the same ray of light, which is so shed abroad in them as that they shine.


38.  He came among the sons of God, in that, though they serve God in rendering aid to the elect, he does this, in putting them to trial.  He presented himself among the sons of God, in that, although they dispense the succours of mercy to all that labour in this present life, this one unwittingly serves the ends of His secret justice, while he strives to accomplish the ministry of their condemnation.  Whence it is justly said by the Prophet in the books of Kings, I saw the Lord sitting upon His throne, and all the host of Heaven standing by Him, on His right hand and on His left.  And it was said, Wherewith shall I deceive Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead; And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner.  And there came forth one and stood before the Lord, and said, I will deceive him.  And it was said, Wherewith? and he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. [1 Kings 22, 19. &c]


For what is the throne of the Lord, unless we understand the Angelic Powers, in whose minds enthroned on high He disposeth all things below?  And what is the host of heaven, unless the multitude of ministering Angels is set forth?  Why then is it, that the host of heaven is said to stand on His right hand and on His left?  For God, Who is in such sort within all things, that He is also without all, is neither bounded on the right hand nor on the left.  However, the right hand of God is the elect portion of the Angels, and the left hand of God signifies the reprobate portion of Angels.  For not alone do the good serve God by the aid which they render, but likewise the wicked by the trials which they inflict; not only they who lift upward them that are turning back from transgression, but they who press down those who refuse to turn back.  Nor because it is called the host of heaven, are we hindered from understanding therein the reprobate portion of the Angels, for whatsoever birds we know to be poised in the air, we call them ‘the birds of heaven.’  And it is of these same spirits that Paul saith, Against spiritual wickedness in high places. [Ephes. 6, 12]  And describing their head, he says, According to the prince of the power of the air. [Ephes. 2, 2]  On the right hand and on the left hand of God, then, stands the Angelic Host, forasmuch as both the will of the elect spirits harmonizes with Divine mercy, and the mind of the reprobate, in serving their own evil ends, obeys the judgment of His strict decrees.  Hence too it is said, that a spirit of falsehood immediately leaped forth in the midst, to deceive king Ahab, as his deserts called for.  For it is not right to imagine that a good spirit would ever have served the ends of deceit, so as to say, I will go forth, and I will be a, lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.  But because king Ahab by his previous sins had made himself worthy to be cursed with such deception, in order that he who had many times willingly fallen into sin, might for once unwillingly be caught for his punishment, leave is given by a secret justice to the evil spirits, that those whom with willing minds they strangle in the noose of sin, they may drag to the punishment of that sin even against their will.  What then it is there to describe the Host of heaven as having stood on the right hand and on the left hand of God, the same it is here to declare Satan to have presented himself among the sons of God.  So on the right hand of God there stood Angels, for that the sons of God are named; so on His left hand angels are standing, because Satan presented himself among them.


39.  But as we have determined to search out the hidden senses of the allegory, we not unfitly take it to mean, that the Lord beheld Satan in the day, in that He restrained his ways in the Incarnation of His Wisdom; as though it were not to have seen him, to have for so long borne with his wickedness in the ruin of the human race.  Whence it is straightway said to him by the voice of God,

Ver. 7.  Whence comest thou?




40.  In the day Satan is demanded of his ways, for that in the light of revealed Wisdom the snares of the hidden foe are discovered.  Because, then, the devil is rebuked by the Incarnate Lord, and restrained from his baneful license, it is well subjoined, And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?  For He then by arraigning attainted the ways of Satan, when by the Advent of the Mediator restraining the wickedness of his persuasions, He rebuked the same.  And it is not without reason that the sons of God are related to have stood in the presence of the Lord on this day, forasmuch as it is by the light of Wisdom illuminating them that all the elect are gathered to the calling of their eternal country.  Who, though Incarnate Wisdom came to assemble them in actual deed, were yet by virtue of His foreknowledge already inwardly present to His Divinity.  But since the old enemy, at the coming of the Redeemer, is questioned of his ways, let us hear what he says.

Ver. 7.  From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.




41.  For from the time of Adam till the coming of the Lord, he drew after him all the nations of the Gentiles; he went to and fro in the earth, and walked up and down in it, in that he stamped the foot-prints of his wickedness throughout the hearts of the Gentiles.  For when he fell from on high he gained lawful possession of the minds of men, because he fastened them as willing captives in the chains of his iniquity; and he wandered the more at large in the world, in proportion as there was no one found who was in all things free from that his guilt.  And his having gone to and fro in the world as with power, is his having found no man who could thoroughly resist him.  But now let Satan return back, i.e. let the Divine power withhold him from the execution of his wickedness, since He has now appeared in the flesh, Who had no part in the infection of sin from the infirmity of the flesh.  He came in humility for the proud enemy himself to wonder at, that he who had set at nought all the mightiness of His Divinity, might stand in awe even of the very infirmities of His Humanity.  Wherefore also this very weakness of His human nature is immediately set forth against him with wonderful significance as an object to confound him; whereas it is said,

Ver.  8.  Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth?




42.  That Job means by interpretation, ‘Grieving,’ we have already said a little above.  And He is truly called ‘Grieving’ in figure, Who is declared by the testimony of the Prophet ‘to bear our griefs.’ [Isa. 53, 4]  Who has not His like on the earth; for every man is only man, but He is both God and Man.  He has not His like on earth, because though every son by adoption attains to the receiving of the Divine nature, yet none ever receives so much, as to be, by nature, God.  He was even rightly styled a servant, because He did not disdain to take the form of a servant.  Nor did His taking the humility of the flesh injure His sovereignty, for in order that He might both take upon Him that which He was to save, yet not undergo alteration in that which He had, He neither lessened the Divine by the Human, nor swallowed up the Human in the Divine; for although Paul hath it, Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant; [Phil. 2, 6. 7.] yet to Him it is ‘emptying Himself,’ of the greatness of His Invisible Being to manifest Himself as Visible; so that the form of a servant should be the covering of That Which without limitation enters into all things by virtue of Godhead.  Again, God's saying to Satan in figure, Hast Thou considered My servant Job, is His exhibiting in his despite the Only-Begotten Son as an object of wonder in the form of a servant.  For in that He made Him known in the flesh as of so great virtue, He as it were pointed out to the adversary in his pride what it would grieve him to contemplate; but now that He had brought before him a perfect object for him to admire, it remains that in order to strike down his pride he should further go on to enumerate its excellencies.  It goes on,

Ver.8.  A perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil.




43.  For there came among men the Mediator between God and Man, the Man Christ Jesus, for the giving an example of living, perfect [simplex]; in respect of His rigour towards the evil spirits, upright; for the exterminating pride, fearing God; and for the wiping off impurity of life in His Elect, departing from evil.  For it is said of Him by Isaiah in a special manner, And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord. [Is. 11, 3]  And He did in a special manner depart from evil, who refused to imitate the actions which He found among men, since, as Peter bears witness, He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. [1 Pet. 2, 22]  It follows;

Ver.  9, 10.  Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 


The old enemy knew that the Redeemer of mankind was come to be the conqueror of himself; and hence it is said by the man possessed in the Gospel, What have we to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God?  Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time? [Mat. 8, 29]  Yet before, when he perceived Him to be subject to passion, and saw that He might suffer all the mortal accidents of humanity, all that he imagined concerning His Divinity became doubtful to him from his exceeding pride.  For savouring of nothing else but pride, whilst he beheld Him in humility, he doubted of His being God; and hence he has recourse to proof by temptation, saying, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [Matt. 4, 3]  In this way, because he saw that He was subject to passion, he did not believe Him to be God by birth, but to be kept by the grace of God.  And for the same reason too he is in this place said to allege,

Ver. 10.  Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.




44.  For he urges that both himself and his house are hedged about by God; because he could not find an entrance to His conscience by tempting him, He declares his substance to be hedged about, in that he dares not to attack His elect servants.  He complains that God had blessed the work of his hands, and that his substance was increased in the land, for this reason, that he pines at beholding that faith in Him enlarges its bounds, in man's coming to the knowledge of Him by the preaching of the Apostles.  For His substance is said to be increasing, all the time that by the labours of the preachers the number of the faithful daily waxes larger.  Satan's saying this to God, is his seeing these things with an envious eye.  Satan's saying this to God, is his grieving at these things with a pining spirit.  It proceeds:

Ver.  11.  But put forth Thine hand a little, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.


45.  For He, Whom he thought in time of tranquillity to be under the keeping of God's grace, he imagined might be led to sin by means of suffering; as though he had plainly said, ‘One, Who for the miracles which He works is accounted God, being put to the test by afflictions, is discovered to be a sinner, and nothing better,’ So the Lord said to Satan,

Ver. 12.  Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.




46.  Whereas we are examining Holy Scripture under its figurative import, by the hand of Satan is to be understood not his power, but the extent of his tempting.  All, then, that he hath is given into the hand of the Tempter, and he is only forbidden to put forth his hand upon him, which nevertheless, when his substance is gone, is permitted him; for that first Judaea, which was His possession, was taken from Him in unbelief, and that afterwards His flesh was nailed to the stock of the Cross, He then Who first underwent the opposition of Judaea, and afterwards came even to the Cross, in a manner first lost that He had, and then in His own Person endured the wickedness of the adversary.

So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. 




47.  Just as it was said above, Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord, in that he attained the objects of his desire; for he was in a certain sense in His presence, all the time that on account of Him, he failed to accomplish all that he mischievously thirsted after.

Ver.  13, And there was a day, when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house.




48.  We have said that the sons and daughters of blessed Job were a representation either of the order of the Apostles, or of the whole multitude of the faithful.  Now the Lord Incarnate first chose a few out of Judaea unto faith, and afterwards He gathered to Himself the multitude of the Gentile people.  But who was the eldest son of the Lord, unless the Jewish people is to be understood, which had been a long time born to Him by the teaching of the Law which He gave?  and who the younger son but the Gentile people, which at the very end of the world was gathered together?  And therefore whereas, when Satan was unwittingly contributing to the welfare of the human race, and having corrupted the hearts of those persecutors was demanding warrant for the Passion of the Lord, the Holy Apostles were as yet ignorant that the Gentile world were to be gathered to God, and preached to Judaea alone the mysteries of the Faith.  When Satan is said to have gone out from the Lord, the sons and daughters are described to be feasting in the house of their elder brother.  For it had been commanded them, Go not into the way of the Gentiles. [Mat. 10, 5]  Now after the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, they turned to preaching to the Gentiles, for which reason too in their Acts we find them saying, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you, but since ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. [Acts 13, 46]  And thus these children of the bridegroom, of whom it is declared, and that by the voice of the same Bridegroom, The children of the bridechamber shall not fast as long as the bridegroom is with them, [Matt. 9, 15] are feasting in the house of their elder brother, for this reason, that the Apostles still continued to be fed with the sweets of Holy Scripture in the gathering of the single people of the Jews.

Ver. 14, 15.  And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were ploughing, and the asses feeding beside them; And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took all away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




49.  What else do we take the oxen to mean in figure, but well-doers; what the asses, but certain men of simple ways?  These are properly described to be feeding beside the oxen, because simple souls, even when they are incapable of comprehending deep mysteries, are near to the great, inasmuch as they account the excellencies of their brethren to be their own also by force of charity; and while envy of the knowledges [sensibus] of others is a thing unknown, they are never divided at pasture.  The asses then take their food in company with the oxen, in that duller minds, when joined with the wise, are fed by their understanding.  Now the Sabeans mean by interpretation ‘captivators;’ and who are signified by the name of ‘captivators,’ but the impure spirits who lead all men captive to infidelity, whom they make subject to themselves?   These too strike the youths [pueros] with the sword, in that they inflict grievous wounds, with the darts of temptation, upon those whom the constancy of manhood does not yet maintain in freedom and hardiness.  These indeed enter fairly upon well-doing, but while still in the delicate state of a first beginning, they are prostrated beneath the unclean spirits that take captive; these are stricken with the sword of the enemy, in that he pierces them with despair of life eternal.


50.  But what is this, that the messenger comes with these words, and I only am escaped alone?  Who is this messenger, who, when the rest are destroyed, ‘escapes alone,’ but the prophetic word, which, whilst all the evils happen, which it foretold, alone returns as it were unharmed to the Lord?  For when it is known to speak the truth concerning the fate of the lost, it is in a certain sense shewn to live among the dead.  It is hence that the servant is sent to bring down Rebecca, on the occasion of Isaac's marrying; doubtless because the intervening Prophecy does service in espousing the Church to the Lord.  So when the Sabeans made their assault, one servant alone escaped to give the tidings, because by means of malignant spirits leading captive weak minds, that declaration of Prophecy was confirmed, which, in foretelling the same captivity, saith, Therefore My people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge. [Is. 5, 13]  The prophecy therefore is in a manner preserved safe, when the captivity, which it foretold, is brought to light.  It proceeds,

Ver. 16.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from Heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.


51.  All, who held the office of preaching in the Synagogue, were rightly named, 'the heavens,' plainly because they were supposed to be imbued with heavenly wisdom; and for this reason, when Moses was urging the Priests and the people to take heed of his words of admonition, he exclaimed, Give ear, O ye Heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth; [Deut. 32, 1] evidently signifying by the Heavens the order of rulers, and by the earth the people under them.  There is then in this place no unfitness in interpreting the Heavens to mean either the Priests or the Pharisees, or the Doctors of the Law, who, to the eyes of men, while they attended on heavenly duties, seemed as it were to shed light from on high.  Now because they were greatly stirred up in opposition to our Redeemer, it was as though ‘fire fell from heaven;’ whilst from those very men, who were accounted teachers of the truth, the flames of envy burst out, to the deceiving of the ignorant people.  For we know from the testimony of the Gospel, that through envy at the truths which He taught they sought an opportunity for His betrayal, but that from fear of the people they dared not make known what they went about.  Hence too it is therein written, that in order to dissuade the people they say, Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on Him?  but this people, who knoweth not the Law, are cursed. [John 7, 48. 49.]  But what do we understand by the sheep and the servants, save all inoffensive, but still as yet fainthearted persons, who, while they feared to undergo the persecution of the Pharisees and the Rulers, were devoured by the fires of infidelity.  So let it be said; The fire of God is fallen from Heaven, and hath burned up the sheep and the servants; i.e. the flame of envy hath come down from the hearts of the rulers, and burnt up all that there was of good springing up in the people; for while the wicked rulers are claiming honour to themselves in opposition to the Truth, the hearts of their followers are turned from every right way.  And here too it is well added, And I only am escaped alone to tell thee; for whereas the predicted case of wickedness is fulfilled, that word of prophecy escapes the extinction of falsehood, wherein it is said, yea, the fire of thine enemies shall devour them [Is. 26, 11]; as though it were plainly expressed, ‘not only are the wicked afterwards tormented by fire sent in vengeance, but even now they are consumed therewith through envy;’ in that they who are hereafter to be visited with the punishment of just retribution, inflict upon themselves here the tortures of envy.  And thus the servant flies and returns alone, and announces that the sheep and the servants have been destroyed by fire, when Prophecy in forsaking the Jewish people shews that she has declared the truth, saying, Jealousy has taken hold of a people without knowledge; as though it said in plain words, ‘when the people would not make out the words of the Prophets, but gave their belief to the words of the envious, the fire of jealousy consumed them, seeing that they were burnt in the fire of other men's envy.’  It goes on,

Ver. 17.  Whilst he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




52.  Knowing that the Chaldeans are to be interpreted ‘fierce ones,’ who else are represented by the name of Chaldeans but the stirrers of that of the persecution, who burst out even in open cries of malice, saying, Crucify Him!  Crucify Him! [Luke 23, 21.]  These made themselves into three bands, when the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees came severally to put questions. [Mk. 15, 13. 15.]  Assuredly they were vanquished by the mouth of Wisdom, but forasmuch as we must suppose that they drew some foolish ones after them, having made themselves into bands, they carried away the camels; for each set of them poisoned the hearts of the foolish according to the evil notions, with which it was itself embued; and while by their persuasions they drag them to destruction, it was as if they led captive the crooked [tortuosas] minds of the weaker sort.  Thus when the Lord preached in Samaria, there were many of the Samaritans that were joined to the heritage of that our Redeemer.  But did not they, who, on the ground of the seven husbands of one woman that were dead, tempted the Lord against the hope of resurrection, do their best to bring back the believing Samaritans from their faith, who plainly knew nothing of the hope of a resurrection?  Who, while they receive some things out of the Law, and disregard others, do as it were, after the manner of camels, ruminate indeed like a clean animal, but like an unclean animal do not cleave the hoof.  Though camels which ruminate, yet do not cleave the hoof, are likewise a representation of those in Judaea, who had admitted the historical fact after the letter, but could not spiritually discern the proper force thereof.  Upon these the Chaldeans seize in three bands, in that the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees, by their evil persuasions, turn them aside from all right understanding.  And at the same time they smite the servants with the sword; for though there were those among the people who were now capable of exercising reason, yet these they met not with force of reasoning, but with authoritativeness of power; and while they desire to be imitated as rulers by their subjects, notwithstanding if their followers can understand somewhat, yet they drag them to destruction by the prerogative of assumed authority.  And it is fitly that one servant escapes from them to bring the tidings, in that when the Pharisees, Herodians, and Sadducees do wickedly, that word of Prophecy, whilst forsaking them, is established sure, which saith, And they that handle the Law knew me not. [Jer. 2, 8]  The account proceeds,


Ver. 18, 19.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon thy children, and they are dead.




53.  We have said a little above that by the sons and the daughters we understand the Apostles that preached, and the people under them; who are said to be feasting in their eldest brother's house, for that it was in the lot of the Jewish people still that they were fed with the sweets of the sacred truths preached.  And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness.  The wilderness is the heart of unbelievers, which being forsaken by the Lord is without an inhabitant to tend it.  And what is the great wind, but strong temptation?  Accordingly there came a great wind from the wilderness; for at the Passion of our Redeemer there came from the hearts of the Jews strong temptation against His faithful followers.  The wilderness may likewise not unaptly be taken for the forsaken multitude of impure spirits, from whom came a wind and smote the house, in that they were the source whence the temptations proceeded, and overturned the hearts of the persecutors.


54.  But this house wherein the sons were feasting was builded on four corners.  Now we know the three orders of Rulers in the Synagogue, viz. the Priests, the Scribes, and the Elders of the people; to whom if we add the Pharisees likewise, we shall have found the four corners in this house.  There came then a wind from the wilderness., and smote the four corners of the house; in that temptation burst forth from the unclean spirits and stirred up the minds of the four orders to the wickedness of persecution.  That house fell and overwhelmed His children, forasmuch as when Judaea fell into the cruelty of persecuting our Lord, it overwhelmed the faith of the Apostles with fears of despair.  For they had only to see their Master laid hold of, and, lo, they fled every way, denying Him.  And though the Hand within did by foreknowledge hold their spirits in life, yet meanwhile carnal fear cut them off from the life of faith.  They then who forsook their Master, when Judaea raged against Him, were as if killed by the house being overthrown, when its corners were smitten.  But what do we think became of the flock of the faithful at that time, when, as we know, the very rams took to flight?  Now in the midst of these events one escaped to bring tidings, in that the word of Prophecy, which had given warning of these things, approves itself to have been confirmed in saying of the persecuting people, My beloved one hath done many crimes in Mine house [Jer. 11. 15. Vulg.]; of the preachers, who though good yet fled at the Passion, My neighbours stood afar off; [Ps. 38, 12] saying again of the whole number, who were greatly afraid, Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. [Zech. 13, 7]  It proceeds;

Ver. 20.  Then Job arose, and rent his mantle.




55.  When his sons were destroyed in the ruin of the house, Job arose, because when Judaea was lost in unbelief, and when the Preachers were fallen in the death of fear, the Redeemer of mankind raised Himself from the death of His carnal nature; He shewed in what judgment He abandoned His persecutors to themselves.  For His rising is the shewing with what severity He forsakes sinners, just as His lying down is the patient endurance of ills inflicted.  He rises then, when He executes the decrees of justice against the reprobate.  And hence He is rightly described to have rent his mantle.  For what stood as the mantle of the Lord, but the Synagogue, which by the preaching of the Prophets clung to the expectation of His Incarnation?  For in the same way that He is now clothed with those by whom He is loved, as Paul is witness, who says, That He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot nor wrinkle [Eph. 5, 27]; (for that which is described as having neither spot or wrinkle is surely made appear as a spiritual robe [vestis rationalis]; and at once clean in practice, and stretched in hope;) so when Judaea believed Him as yet to be made Incarnate, it was no less a garment through its clinging to Him.


56.  But because He was looked for before He came, and coming, taught new truths, and teaching, wrought wonders, and working wonders, underwent wrongs, He rent His mantle, which He had put on Him, seeing that in Judaea some he withdrew from unbelief, whilst some He left therein.  What then is the rent mantle but Judaea divided in contrary opinions?  For, if His mantle had not been rent, the Evangelist would not have said that, at the preaching of our Lord, there arose strife among the people; For some said, He is a good man; others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people. [John 7, 12]  For that mantle of His was rent, in that being divided in opinions it lost the unity of concord.  It proceeds; And shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.




57.  What is signified by the hair that was shorn but the minuteness [sublilitas] of Sacraments?  what by the head but the High Priesthood?  Hence too it is said to the prophet Ezekiel, And thou, son of man, take thee a sharp knife, take thee a barber's razor, and cause it to pass upon thine head, and upon thy beard; [Ezek. 5, 1] clearly that by the Prophet's act the judgment of the Redeemer might be set out, Who when He came in the flesh ‘shaved the head,’ in that he took clean away from the Jewish Priesthood the Sacraments of His commandments; ‘and shaved the beard,’ in that in forsaking the kingdom of Israel, He cut off the glory of its excellency.  And what is here expressed by the earth, but sinful man?  For to the first man that sinned the words were spoken; Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. [Gen. 3, 19]  By the name of the earth then is signified the sinful Gentile world; for whilst Judaea thought herself righteous, it appears how damnable she thought the Gentile world, as Paul is witness, who saith, We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles. [Gal. 2, 15]  Therefore our Mediator, as it were, shaved His head, and fell down upon the earth, seeing that in forsaking Judaea, whilst He took away His Sacraments from her Priesthood, He came to the knowledge of the Gentiles.  For He ‘shaved the hair from His Head,’ because He took away from that His first Priesthood the Sacraments of the Law.  And He fell upon the earth, because He gave Himself to sinners for their salvation; and while He gave up those who appeared to themselves righteous, He took to Himself those, who both knew and confessed that they were unrighteous.  And hence He Himself declares in the Gospel, For judgment I am come into this world, that they that see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. [John 9, 39]  And hence the pillar of the cloud, which went before the people in the wilderness, shone with a radiant flame of fire not in the day but in the night; for this reason, that our Redeemer, in giving guidance to those that followed Him by the example of life and conduct, yielded no light to such as trusted in their own righteousness, but all those who acknowledged the darkness of their sins, He shone with the fire of His love.  Nor, because Job is said to fall on the earth, let us account this to be an unworthy representation of our Redeemer.  For it is written, The Lord sent a Word into Jacob, and it hath fallen [E.V. lighted] upon Israel. [Is. 9, 8]  For Jacob means one that overthrows another, and Israel, one that sees God.  And what is signified by Jacob but the Jewish people, and by Israel but the Gentile world?  For in that very One Whom Jacob aimed to overthrow by the death of the flesh, the Gentile world, by the eyes of faith, beheld God.  And thus the Word, that was sent to Jacob, lighted upon Israel; for Him whom the Jewish people rejected when He came to them, the Gentile world at once owned and found.  For concerning the Holy Spirit it is written, The Spirit of God fell upon them. [Acts 11, 15]


58.  And for this reason either the Word of God or the Holy Spirit is said to fall in Holy Scripture, to describe the suddenness of His coming.  For whatever rushes down or falls, comes to the bottom directly.  And therefore it is as if the Mediator had fallen upon the earth, that without any previous signs He unexpectedly came to the Gentiles.  And it is well said, that He fell down upon the earth and worshipped, in that whilst He Himself undertook the low estate of the flesh, He poured into the hearts of believers the breathings of humility.  For He did this, in that He taught the doing of it, in the same way that it is said of His Holy Spirit, But the Spirit itself maketh request [Vulg. postulat] for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [Rom. 8, 26]  Not that He petitions, Who is of perfect equality, but He is said to make request for no other reason than that He causes those to make request whose hearts He has filled: though our Redeemer, moreover, manifested this in His own Person, Who even besought the Father when He was drawing nigh to His Passion.  For what wonder if, in the form of a servant, He submitted Himself to the Father by pouring out His supplications to Him, when in the same He even underwent the violence of sinners, to the very extremity of death.  It proceeds:

Ver.21.  Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither.


59.  The mother of our Redeemer, after the flesh, was the Synagogue, from whom He came forth to us, made manifest by a Body.  But she kept Him to herself veiled under the covering of the letter, seeing that she neglected to open the eyes of the understanding to the spiritual import thereof.  Because in Him, thus veiling Himself with the flesh of an human Body, she would not see God, she as it were refused to behold Him naked in His Divinity.  But He ‘came naked out of His mother's womb,’ because when He issued from the flesh of the Synagogue, He came openly manifest to the Gentiles; which is excellently represented by Joseph's leaving His cloak and fleeing.  For when the adulterous woman would have used him to no good end, he, leaving his cloak, fled out of the house; because when the Synagogue, believing Him to be simply man, would have bound Him as it were in an adulterous embrace, He too left the covering of the letter to its eyes, and manifested Himself to the Gentiles without disguise for the acknowledgment of the Power of His Divinity.  And hence Paul said, But even to this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their hearts [2 Cor. 3, 15]; for this reason, that the adulteress kept the cloak in her own hands, but Him, Whom she wickedly laid hold of, she let go naked.  He then Who coming from the Synagogue plainly disclosed Himself to the faith of the Gentiles, ‘came naked out of His mother's womb,’ But does He wholly give her up?  Where then is that which the Prophet declares, For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return? [Is. 10, 22] where that which is written, Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved? [Rom. 11, 25. 26.]   The time will be, then, when He will shew Himself clearly to the Synagogue also.  Yes, the time will doubtless come in the end of the world, when He will make Himself known, even as He is God, to the remnant of His People.  Whence it is likewise justly said in this place, and naked shall I return thither.  For he ‘returns naked to His mother's womb,’ when, at the end of the world, He, Who being made Man in time is the object of scorn, is revealed to the eyes of His Synagogue as God before all worlds.  It proceeds; -

Ver. 21.  The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; as it hath pleased the Lord, so is it come to pass; blessed be the Name of the Lord.




60.  Our Redeemer, in that He is God, gives all things with the Father; but in that He is Man, He receives at the hands of the Father, as one among all.  Therefore let Him say of Judaea, so long as she believed in the mystery of His Incarnation to come, the Lord hath given.  Let Him say of her, when she slighted the looked for coming of His Incarnation, the Lord hath taken away.  For she was ‘given,’ when in the persons of a certain number she believed what was to be; but she was ‘taken away,’ as the just desert of her blindness, when she scorned to hold in veneration the truths believed by those.


61.  But let Him instruct all that believe in Him, that when under scourges they may know how to bless God, in the words that are added, As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done [not in E.V.]; blessed be the Name of the Lord.  Whence likewise, as the Gospel is witness, when He is described to be drawing near to His Passion, He is said to have taken bread and given thanks.  And so He gives thanks Who is bearing the stripes of the sins of others.  And He, Who did nothing worthy of strokes, blesses humbly under the infliction of them, doubtless that He might shew from hence what each man ought to do in the chastisement of his own transgressions, if He thus bears with patience the chastisement of the transgressions of others, that He might shew hence what the servant should do under correction, if He being equal gives thanks to the Father under the rod.  It proceeds;

Ver.  22.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.


62.  ‘That he neither sinned, nor charged God foolishly,’ Peter, as we have said, above testifies of Him in plain terms, saying, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth. [1 Pet. 2, 22]  For guile in the mouth is so much the more senseless folly with God, the more that in the eyes of men it passes for crafty wisdom, as Paul bears witness, saying, The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. [1 Cor. 3, 19]  Forasmuch then as there was no guile in His mouth, verily He said nothing foolishly.  The Priests and the Rulers believed that He charged God foolishly, when, being questioned at the time of His Passion, He testified that He was the Son of God.  And hence they question, saying, What further need have we of witnesses?  Behold now we have heard His blasphemy. [Mat. 26, 65]  But He did not charge God foolishly, in that speaking the words of truth, even in dying He brought before the unbelievers that concerning Himself, which He soon after manifested to all the redeemed by rising again.




63.  We have briefly gone through these particulars, regarded under the view of representing our Head.  Now, as they tend to the edification of His Body, let us explain them to be considered in a moral aspect; that we may learn how that, which is described to have been done in outward deed, is acted inwardly in our mind.  Now when the sons of God present themselves before God, Satan also presents himself among them, in that it very often happens that that old enemy craftily blends and unites himself with those good thoughts, which are sown in our hearts through the instrumentality of the coming of the Holy Spirit, to disorder all that is rightly conceived, and tear in pieces what is once wrongly disordered.  But He, Who created us, does not forsake us in our temptation.  For our enemy, who hid himself in ambush against us, He makes easy to be discovered by us, through the illumination of His light.  Wherefore He saith to him immediately, Whence comest thou?




64.  For His interrogating the crafty foe is the discovering to us his ambush, that where we see him steal into the heart, we may watch against him with resolution and with caution.

Ver. 7.  Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.




65.  Satan's going to and fro in the earth is his exploring the hearts of the carnal, and seeking diligently whence he may find grounds of accusation against them.  He ‘goeth round about the earth,’ for he comes about the hearts of men, that he may carry off all that is good in them, that he may lodge evil in their minds, that he may heap up on that he has lodged, that he may perfect that he has heaped, that he may gain as his fellows in punishment those whom he has perfected in sin.  And observe that he does not say that he has been flying through the earth, but that he has been walking up and down in it; for, in truth, he is never quick to leave whomsoever he tempts; but there where he finds a soft heart, he plants the foot of his wretched persuasion, so that by resting thereon, he may stamp the prints of evil practice, and by a like wickedness to his own may render reprobate all whom he is able; but in despite of him blessed Job is commended in these words;

Ver.8.  Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?




66.  To him, whom Divine Inspiration makes strong to meet the enemy, God gives praise as it were in the ears of Satan; for His giving him praise is the first vouchsafing virtues, and afterwards preserving them when vouchsafed.  But the old enemy is the more enraged against the righteous, the more he perceives that they are hedged around by the favour of God's protection.  And hence he rejoins, and says,

Ver. 10.  Doth Job fear God for nought?  Hast not Thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?  Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.




67.  As though he plainly said; ‘Wherefore dost Thou extol him whom Thou stablishest with Thy protection?  for man would deserve Thy praises, while Thou despisest me, if he withstood me by his own proper strength.’  Hence also he immediately demands on man's head with evil intent, what man's Defender concedes though with a merciful design.  For it is added,

Ver. 11.  But put forth Thine hand now, and touch all that he hath; and he will curse Thee to Thy face.




68.  For when we yield plentifully the fruits of virtue, and when we are flourishing in uninterrupted prosperity, the mind is somewhat inclined to be lifted up, so as to imagine that all the excellency that she hath comes to her from herself.  This same excellency, then, our old enemy with evil intent desires to lay hands on, whilst God no otherwise than in mercy allows it to be tried; that while the mind, under the force of temptation, is shaken in the good wherein it exulted, learning the powerlessness of its own frail condition, it may become the more strongly established in the hope of God's aid; and it is brought to pass by a marvellous dispensation of His Mercy, that from the same source, whence the enemy tempts the soul to destroy it, the merciful Creator gives it instruction that it may live; and hence it is rightly added,

Ver. 12.  Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand.




69.  As if He said in plain words; ‘I give thee so to try the good that is in each one of Mine Elect by temptation from without, that thou mayest acquaint thine own self that I keep him holding on to Me by the inward root of the mind; and hence it is rightly added,

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.




70.  For in that he is not suffered to prevail so far as to withdraw the heart, being thus shut out from the interior, he roams without.  Who, even if he very often work confusion in the virtues of the soul, herein does it without, in that, through God's withholding him, he never wounds the hearts of the good to their utter ruin.  For he is permitted so far to rage against them as may be necessary, in order that they, thus instructed by temptation, may be stablished, that they may never attribute to their own strength the good which they do, nor neglect themselves in the sloth of security, loosing themselves from the bracings of fear, but that in keeping guard over their attainments they may watch with so much the greater prudence, as they see themselves to be ever confronting the enemy in the fight of temptations.

Ver. 13, 14, 15.  And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:  and the Sabeans fell upon them; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




71.  In the hearts of the Elect wisdom is first engendered, before all the graces that follow; and she comes forth as it were a first born offspring by the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Now this wisdom is our faith, as the Prophet testifies, saying, If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not understand [E.V. be established]. [Is. 7, 9]  For then we are truly wise to understand, when we yield the assent of our belief to all that our Creator says.  Thus the sons are feasting in their eldest brother's house, when the other virtues are feasted in faith.  But if this latter be not first produced in our hearts, all besides cannot be good, though it may seem to be good.  The sons feast in their eldest brother's house, so long as our virtues are replenished with the good of holy writ, in the dwelling place of faith; for it is written, without faith it is impossible to please God [Heb. 11, 6]; and so our virtues taste the true feasts of life, when they begin to be sustained with the mysteries [sacramentis] of faith.  The sons feast in their eldest brother's house, in that except the other virtues, filling themselves with the feast of wisdom; do wisely all that they seek to do, they can never be virtues.


72.  But observe, while the good that we do is fed with the rich fare of wisdom and of faith, our enemy carries off the oxen that are plowing, and the asses feeding beside them, and kills the servants with the sword.  What are the oxen plowing, except we understand our serious thoughts, which while they wear [conticiunt] the heart with diligent tillage, yield abundant fruits of increase?  and what do we take to be the asses feeding beside them, but the simple emotions of the heart, which, whilst carefully withheld from straying in double ways, we feed in the free pasture of purity?  But oftentimes the crafty enemy, spying out the serious thoughts of our heart, corrupts them under the cloak of that beguiling pleasure which he insinuates; and when he sees the simple emotions of the heart, he displays the subtleties and refinements of discoveries, that while we aim at praise for subtlety, we may part with the simplicity of a pure mind; and though he has not the power to draw us to a deed of sin, nevertheless by secret theft [subripiens] he spoils the thoughts of good things through his temptations, that while he is seen to trouble the good that is in their mind, he may seem as though he had completely made spoil of it.  By the oxen ploughing may also be understood the intents of charity, whereby we endeavour to render service to others, when we desire to cleave the hardness of a brother's heart by preaching; and by the asses also, for that they never resist with a mad rage those that are loading them, may be signified the meekness of patience, and oftentimes our old enemy, seeing us anxious to benefit others by our words, plunges the mind into a certain sleepy state of inactivity, that we are not disposed to do good to others, even though our own concerns leave us at liberty.  Accordingly he carries away the oxen that are ploughing, when, by insinuating sloth that causes negligence, he breaks the force of those inward purposes, which were directed to produce the fruit of a brother's welfare, and although the hearts of the Elect keep watch within the depths of their own thoughts, and, getting the better of it, take thought of the mischief, which they receive at the hands of the tempter; yet by this very circumstance, that he should prevail over the thoughts of good things though but for a moment, the malicious enemy exults in having gotten some booty.


73.  Now oftentimes, when he sees the mind in a readiness to endure, he contrives to find out what it loves the best, and there sets his traps of offence; that the more the object is beloved, our patience may be the sooner disquieted by means of it.  And indeed the hearts of the Elect ever return heedfully to themselves, and chastise themselves sorely, even for the slighest impulse to go wrong, and whilst by being moved they learn how they should have stood fast, they are sometimes the more firmly established for being shaken.  But the ancient enemy, when he puts out our purposes of patience, though but for a moment, exults that he has, as it were, carried off the asses from the field of the heart.  Now in the things which we determine to do we carefully consider, with the watchfulness of reason, what is proper, and to what cases.  But too often the enemy, by rushing upon us with the sudden impulse of temptation, and coming unawares before the mind's looking out, slays as it were with the sword the very servants that are keeping watch, yet one escapes to tell that the rest [alia] is lost; for in whatsoever the mind is affected by the enemy, the discernment of reason ever returns to it, and she doth in a certain sense shew that she hath escaped alone, which doth resolutely consider with herself all that she has undergone.  So then all the rest perish, and one alone returns home, when the motions of the heart are in the time of temptation put to rout, and then discernment comes back to the conscience; that whatever the mind, which has been caught by a sudden onset, calculates that she has lost, she may recover, when bowed down with heartfelt contrition.

Ver. 16.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




74.  What is signified by sheep but the innocency of our thoughts?  what is signified by sheep, but cleanness of heart in the good?  Now we have said a little above that we speak of the aerial ‘heaven,’ whence too we name the birds of heaven.  And we know that the impure spirits, that fell from the ethereal heaven, roam abroad in the mid space between this heaven and earth.  These are the more envious that the hearts of men should mount up to the realms of heaven, that they see themselves to have been cast down from thence by the impurity of their pride.  Forasmuch then as the glances of jealousy burst forth from the powers of the air against the purity of our thoughts, ‘fire fell from heaven upon the sheep;’ for oftentimes they inflame the pure thoughts of our minds with the fires of lust, and they do as it were consume the sheep with fire, when they disorder the chaste feelings of the mind with the temptations of sensuality.  This is called the fire of God, for it owes its birth, though not to the making, yet to the permission of God.  And because by a sudden onset they sometimes overwhelm the very cautions of the mind, they slay with the sword as it were the servants that are their keepers.  Yet one escapes in safety, so long as persevering discernment reviews with exactness all that the mind suffers, and this alone escapes the peril of death; for even when the thoughts are put to rout, discretion does not give over to make known its losses to the mind, and as it were to call upon her lord to lament.

Ver.  17.  While he was yet speaking there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.


75.  By the camels, which have a clean mark, in that they ruminate, and an unclean, in that they do not cleave the hoof, are meant, as we have already said above, the godly stewardships of temporal things, in which in proportion as the charge is more extensive, the more doth the enemy multiply his plots against us.  For every man who is set over the management of temporal affairs, is the more largely open to the darts of the hidden foe.  For some things he aims to do with an eye to the future, and often whilst, thus cautious, he forecasts future events with exactness, he incautiously neglects to regard present evils.  Often while his eye is on the present, he is asleep to the anticipation of coming events.  Often in doing some things slothfully, he neglects what should be done with energy.  Often in shewing himself overactive in the execution, by the very restlessness of his mode of acting he hurts the more the interests of his charge.  Again, sometimes he strives to put restraint upon his lips, but is prevented keeping silence by the requirements of his business.  Sometimes, whilst he restrains himself with excessive rigour, he is silent even when he ought to speak.  Sometimes, while he gives himself more liberty to communicate necessary things, he says at the same time what he should never have given utterance to.  And for the most part he is embarrassed with such vast complications of thoughts, that he is scarce able to bear the mere things, which with foresight he ponders in his mind, and while he produces nothing in deed, he is grievously overburdened [insudat] with the great weight upon his breast.  For as that is hard to bear which he is subject to within his own bosom, even while unemployed and at rest from work without, he is yet wearied.  For very frequently the mind as it were views coming events, and every energy is strung to meet them; a vehement heat of contention is conceived, sleep is put to flight, night is turned into day, and while the bed holds our limbs which are outwardly at rest, the cause is inwardly pleaded with vehement clamours in the court of our own heart.  And it very often happens that nothing comes to pass of the things foreseen, and that all that thinking of the heart, which had so long been strung up in preparation to the highest degree of intensity, proves vain, and is stilled in a moment.  And the mind is so much the longer detained from necessary concerns, as it thinks on trifles to a wider extent.  Forasmuch therefore as the evil spirits one while deal a blow against the charges of our stewardship by a slothful or a headlong mode of action, at another time throw them into disorder by a backward or an unchecked use of speech, and are almost always burthening them with excessive loads of care, the Chaldeans in three bands carry off the camels.  For it is as it were to make three bands against the camels, to spread confusion amidst the business of earthly stewardship, now by unwarranted deed, now by overmuch speech, now by unregulated thought, so that while the mind is striving to direct itself effectually to outward ministrations, it should be cut off from the consideration of itself, and know nothing of the injuries which it sustains in itself, in the same proportion that it exerts itself in the affairs of others with a zeal above what is befitting.  But when a right mind undertakes any charge of stewardship, it considers what is due to self and what to neighbours, and neither by excess of concern for others overlooks its own interests, nor by attention to its own welfare, puts behind the affairs of others.  But yet it very often happens that while the mind is discreetly intent upon both, while it keeps itself clear for the utmost precautions, both as regards itself and the things which have been entrusted to it, still being thrown into confusion by some unexpected point in any case that arises, it is so hurried away headlong, that all its precautions are overwhelmed thereby in a moment.  And hence the Chaldeans strike with the sword the servants that were the keepers of the camels.  Yet one returns; for amidst all this the rational thought of discretion meets the eyes of our mind, and the soul, taking heed to herself, is led to comprehend what she has lost within by the sudden onset of temptation.  It follows;

Ver. 18, 19.  While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.




76.  As we have before said, ‘the wilderness’ is the deserted multitude of impure spirits, which when it forsook the felicity of its Creator, as it were lost the hand of the cultivator.  And from the same there came a strong wind, and overthrew the house; in that strong temptation seizes us [n] from the unclean spirits, and overturns the conscience from its settled frame of tranquillity.  But this house stands by four corners for this reason, that the firm fabric of our mind is upheld by Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice.  This house is grounded on four corners, in that the whole structure of good practice is raised in these four virtues.  And hence do four rivers of Paradise water the earth.  For while the heart is watered with these four virtues, it is cooled from all the heat of carnal desires.  Yet sometimes when idleness steals on [o] the mind, prudence waxes cold; for when it is weary and turns slothful, it neglects to forecast coming events.  Sometimes while some delight is stealing on [p] the mind, our temperance decays [q].  For in whatever degree we are led to take delight in the things of this life, we are the less temperate to forbear in things forbidden.  Sometimes fear works its way into the heart and confounds the powers of our fortitude, and we prove the less able to encounter adversity, the more excessively we love some things that we dread to part with.  And sometimes self-love invades the mind, makes it swerve by a secret declension from the straight line of justice: and in the degree that it refuses to refer itself wholly to its Maker, it goes contrary to the claims of justice.  Thus ‘a strong wind smites the four corners of the house,’ in that strong temptation, by hidden impulses, shakes the four virtues; and the corners being smitten, the house is as it were uprooted; in that when the virtues are beaten, the conscience is brought to trouble.


77.  Now it is within these four corners of the house that the sons are feasting, because it is within the depths of the mind, which is carried up to the topmost height of perfection in these four virtues especially, that the others like a kind of offspring of the heart take their food together.  For the gift of the Spirit, which, in the mind It works on, forms first of all Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, Justice, in order that the same mind may be perfectly fashioned to resist every species of assault, doth afterwards give it a temper in the seven virtues, so as against folly to bestow Wisdom, against dulness, Understanding, against rashness, Counsel, against fear, Courage, against ignorance, Knowledge, against hardness of heart, Piety, against pride, Fear.


78.  But sometimes, whilst the mind is sustained with the plenitude and richness of a gift so large, if it enjoys uninterrupted security in these things, it forgets from what source it has them, and imagines that it derives that from itself, which it sees to be never wanting to it.  Hence it is that this same grace sometimes withdraws itself for our good, and shews the presumptuous mind how weak it is in itself.  For then we really learn whence our good qualities proceed, when, by seemingly losing them, we are made sensible that they can never be preserved by our own efforts.  And so for the purpose of tutoring us in lessons of humility, it very often happens that, when the crisis of temptation is upon us, such extreme folly comes down upon our wisdom, that the mind being dismayed, knows nothing how to meet the evils that are threatened, or how to make ready against temptation.  But by this very folly, the heart is wisely instructed; forasmuch as from whatever cause it turns to folly for a moment, it is afterwards rendered by the same the more really, as it is the more humbly, wise; and by these very means, whereby wisdom seems as if lost, it is held in more secure possession.  Sometimes when the mind lifts itself up in pride on the grounds of seeing high things, it is dulled with a remarkable obtuseness in the lowest and meanest subjects; that he, who with rapid flight penetrated into the highest things, should in a moment see the very lowest closed to his understanding.  But this very dulness preserves to us, at the very time that it withdraws from us, our power of understanding.  For whereas it abases the heart for a moment, it strengthens it in a more genuine way to understand the loftiest subjects.  Sometimes while we are congratulating ourselves that we do every thing with grave deliberation, some piece of chance takes us in the nick, and we are carried off with a sudden precipitancy; and we, who believed ourselves always to have lived by method, are in a moment laid waste with an inward confusion.  Yet by the discipline of this very confusion we learn not to attribute our counsels to our own powers; and we hold to gravity with the more matured endeavours, that we return to the same as if once lost. Sometimes while the mind resolutely defies adversity, when adverse events rise up, she is struck with violent alarm.  But when agitated thereby, she learns to Whom to attribute it, that on any occasion she stood firm; and she afterwards holds fast her fortitude the more resolutely, as she sees it now gone as it were out of her hand the moment that terror came upon her.  Sometimes whilst we are congratulating ourselves that we know great things, we are stunned with a blindness of instantaneous ignorance [q].  But in so far as the eye of the mind is for a moment closed by ignorance, it is afterwards the more really opened to admit knowledge, in that in fact being instructed by the stroke of its blindness, it may know also from whom it has its very knowing.  Sometimes while ordering all things in a religious spirit, when we congratulate ourselves that we have in abundant measure the bowels of pious tenderness, we are struck with a sudden fit of hardness of heart.  But when thus as it were hardened, we learn to Whom to ascribe the good dispositions of piety which we have; and the piety, which has been in a manner extinguished, is recovered with more reality, seeing that it is loved with fuller affection as having been lost. Sometimes while the mind is overjoyed that it is bowed under the fear of God, it suddenly waxes stiff under the temptations of pride.  Yet immediately conceiving great fears that it should have no fear, it speedily turns back again to humility, which it recovers upon a firmer footing, in proportion as it has felt the weight of this virtue by seeming to let it go.


79.  When the house, then, is overthrown, the sons perish; because when the conscience is disturbed under temptation, the virtues that are engendered in the heart, for any advantage from ourselves knowing them, are speedily and in the space of a moment overwhelmed.  Now these sons live inwardly by the Spirit, though they perish outwardly in the flesh; because, forsooth, although our virtues in the time of temptation be disordered in a moment, and fall from the safety of their seat, yet by perseverance in endeavour they hold on unimpaired in the root of the mind.  With these the three sisters likewise are slain, for in the heart, sometimes Charity is ruffled by afflictions, Hope shaken by fear, Faith beaten down by questionings.  For oftentimes we grow dull in the love of our Creator, while we are chastened with the rod beyond what we think suitable for us.  Often while the mind fears more than need be, it weakens the confidence of its hopes.  Often while the intellect is exercised with endless questionings, faith being staggered grows faint, as though it would fail.  But yet the daughters live, who die when the house is struck.  For notwithstanding that in the seat of the conscience the disorder by itself tells that Faith, Hope, and Charity, are almost slain, yet they are kept alive in the sight of God, by perseverance in a right purpose of mind; and hence a servant escapes alone to tell these things, in that discretion of mind remains unhurt even amid temptations.  And the servant is the cause that Job recovers his sons by weeping, whilst the mind, being grieved at what discretion reports, keeps by penitence the powers which it had in a manner begun to part with.  By a marvellous dispensation of Providence are we thus dealt with, so that our conscience is at times struck with the smitings of guilt.  For a person would count himself possessed of great powers indeed, if he never at any time within the depth of his mind felt the failure of them [see S. Macarius, Hom. xv.].  But when the mind is shaken by the assaults of temptation, and is as it were more than enough disheartened, there is shewn to it the defence of humility against the arts of its enemy, and from the very occasion, whence it fears to sink powerless, it receives strength to stand firm.  But the person tempted not only learns from Whom he has his strength, but is made to understand with what great watchfulness he must preserve it.  For oftentimes one, whom the conflict of temptation had not force to overcome, has been brought down in a worse way by his own self-security.  For when anyone awearied relaxes himself at his ease, he abandons his mind without restraint to the corrupter.  But if, by the dispensations of mercy from above, the stroke of temptation falls upon him, not so as to overwhelm him with a sudden violence, but to instruct him by a measured approach, then he is awakened to foresee the snares, so that with a cautious mind he girds himself to face the enemy in fight.  And hence it is rightly subjoined,

Ver. 20.  Then Job arose.




80.  For sitting betokens one at ease, but rising, one in a conflict.  His rising, then, when he heard the evil tidings, is setting the mind more resolutely for conflicts, after the experience of temptations, by which very temptations even the power of discernment is the gainer, in that it learns the more perfectly to distinguish good from evil.  And therefore it is well added,

And rent his mantle.




81.  We ‘rend our mantle,’ whenever we review with a discriminating eye our past deeds; for unless with God our deeds were as a cloak that covered us, it would never have been declared by the voice of an Angel, Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame [Rev. 16, 15]; for ‘our shame’ is then ‘seen,’ when our life, appearing worthy of condemnation in the eyes of the righteous in judgment, has not the covering of after good practice.  But because, as often as we are tempted with guilt, we are prompted to mourning, and being stirred by our own lamentations, open the eyes of the mind to the more perfect perception of the light of righteousness, we as it were rend our mantle in grief, in that in consequence of our weeping discretion being strengthened, we chastise [r] all that we do with greater strictness, and with wrathful hand.  Then all our high-mindedness comes down, then all our overcunningness is dropped from our thoughts; and hence it is added,

And shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped.




82.  For what do we understand in a moral sense by hair, but the wandering thoughts of the mind?  and hence it is elsewhere said to the Church, Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet; and thy speech is comely; [Cant. 4, 3] for a thread [vitta Vulg.] binds the hairs of the head.  So the lips of the Spouse are like a thread, in that by the exhortations of Holy Church all dissipated thoughts in the minds of her hearers are put in bands, that they may not roam at large, and be spread abroad amongst forbidden objects, and thus spread abroad, lie heavy on the eyes of the mind, but may as it were gather themselves to one direction, in that the thread of holy preaching binds them.  Which also is well represented to be of scarlet; for the preaching of the Saints glows only with charity.  And what is signified by the head, but that very mind, which is principal in every action?  Whence it is elsewhere said, And let thy head lack no ointment [Eccl. 9, 8]; for ointment upon the head is charity in the heart; and there is lack of ointment upon the head, when there is a withdrawal of charity from the heart.  The shaving of the head then is the cutting off all superfluous thoughts from the mind.  And he shaveth his head and falls upon the earth, who, restraining thoughts of self-presumption, humbly acknowledges how weak he is in himself.


83.  For it is hard for a man to do great things, and not to harbour confident thoughts in his own mind on the score of his great doings.  For from this very fact, that we are living in strenuous opposition to our vices, presumptuous imaginations are engendered in the heart; and while the mind valorously beats down the evil habits without her, she is very often inwardly swoln within herself; and now she accounts herself to have some special merits, nor ever imagines that she sins in the conceits of self-esteem.  But in the eyes of the severe Judge she is so much the worse delinquent, as the sin committed, in proportion as it is the more concealed, is well nigh incorrigible; and the pit is opened the wider to devour, the more proudly the life we lead glories in itself.  Hence, as we have often said before, it is brought to pass by the merciful dispensations of our Creator, that the soul that places confidence in itself is struck down by a providential temptation; that being brought low it may find out what it is, and may lay aside the haughtiness of self-presumption.  For as soon as the mind feels the blow of temptation, all the presumption and swelling of our thoughts abates.


84.  For when the mind is lifted up in pride, it breaks out as it were into usurpation [s].  And it has for the attendants of its tyrannical power, its own imaginations that flatter it.  But if an enemy assaults the tyrant, the favour of those attendants is speedily at an end.  For when the adversary finds entrance the attendants fly, and fall away from him in fear, whom in time of peace they extolled with cunning flattery.  But, when the attendants are withdrawn, he remains alone in the face of the enemy; for when high thoughts are gone, the troubled mind sees itself only and the temptation, and thus upon healing of evil tidings, the head is shaved, whensoever under the violent assault of temptation the mind is bared of the thoughts of self-assurance.  For what does it mean that the Nazarites let their hair grow long, saving that by a life of special continency proud thoughts gain ground?  And what does it signify, that, the act of devotion over, the Nazarite is commanded to shave his head, and cast the hair into the sacrificial fire, but that we then reach the height of perfection, when we so overcome our external evil habits, as to discard from the mind even thoughts that are superfluous?  To consume these in the sacrificial fire is, plainly, to set them on fire with the flame of divine love; that the whole heart should glow with the love of God, and burning up every superfluous thought, should as it were consume the hair of the Nazarite in completing his devotion.  And observe that he fell upon the earth and worshipped; for he sets forth to God the true worship, who in humility sees that he is dust, who attributes no goodness to himself, who owns that the good that he does is from the mercy of the Creator; and hence he says well and fitly,

Ver. 21.  Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither.




85.  As if the mind when tempted and taken in the powerlessness of its weak condition were to say, ‘Naked I was by grace first begotten in the faith, and naked I shall be saved by the same grace in being taken up into heaven [in assumptione].’  For it is a great consolation to a troubled mind, when, smitten with the assaults of sin, it sees itself as it were stripped of all virtue, to fly to the hope of Mercy alone, and prevent itself being stripped naked in proportion as it humbly thinks itself to be naked and bare of virtue, and though it be perchance bereaved of some virtue in the hour of temptation, yet acknowledging its own weakness, it is the better clad with humility itself, and is stronger as it is laid low than as it was standing, in that it ceases to ascribe to itself without the aid of God whatever it has.  And hence it also at once owns with humility the hand of Him Who is both Giver and Judge, saying,

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away.




86.  Observe how he grew great by the discipline of temptations, who both in the possession of the virtue acknowledges the bounty of the Giver, and in the disorderment of his fortitude, the power of the Withdrawer; which fortitude nevertheless is not withdrawn, but is confounded and loses heart, that the assaulted mind, while it dreads every instant to lose the quality as it seems, being alway made humble, may never lose it.

As it hath pleased the Lord, so is it done; Blessed be the Name of the Lord.




87.  In this circumstance, viz. that we are assaulted with inward trouble, it is meet that we refer the thing to the judgment of our Creator, that our heart may resound the louder the praises of its Maker, from the very cause that makes it, on being smitten, the more thoroughly to consider the impotency of its frail condition.  Now it is justly said,

Ver.  22.  In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly:




88.  In that the mind in grief ought to watch with wariness and diligence, lest, when the temptation prompts it within, it break forth inwardly into the utterance of forbidden words, and murmur at the trial; and lest the fire, which burns it like gold, by the excesses of a lawless tongue, may turn it to the ashes of mere chaff.


89.  Now nothing hinders that all that we have said concerning virtues, be understood of those gifts of the Holy Spirit which are vouchsafed in [vid. chap. 91.] manifestation of virtue, for to one is given the gift of Prophecy, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the gifts of healing.  But forasmuch as these gifts are not always present in the mind in the same degree, it is clearly shewn that it is for our good that they are sometimes withdrawn, lest the mind should be lifted up in pride.  For if the Spirit of Prophecy had always been with the Prophets, plainly the Prophet Elisha would never have said, Let her alone, for her soul is vexed within her, and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. [2 Kings 4, 27]  If the Spirit of Prophecy had been always present to the Prophets, the Prophet Amos when asked would never have said, I am [so Vulg.] no Prophet; where he also adds, neither a Prophet's son, but I am an herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit. [Amos 7, 14.]  How then was he no Prophet, who foretold so many true things concerning the future?  or in what way was he a Prophet, if he at the time disowned the truth concerning himself?  Why, because, at the moment that he was called in question [requisitus], he felt that the Spirit of Prophecy was not with him, he bore true testimony concerning himself, in saying; I am not a Prophet.  Yet he added afterwards, Now therefore hear thou the word of the Lord.  Therefore thus said the Lord, Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land. [ver. 16, 17.]  By these words of the Prophet it is plainly shewn, that while he was bearing that testimony about himself he was filled, and on the instant rewarded with the Spirit of Prophecy, because he humbly acknowledged himself to be no Prophet.  And if the Spirit of Prophecy had always continued with the Prophets, the Prophet Nathan would never have allowed King David, when he consulted him about the building of the Temple, what a little while after he was to refuse him.


90.  And hence, how justly is it written in the Gospel, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on Him, the same is He Which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.  For the Spirit descends into all the faithful, but remains in the Mediator alone, in a special manner.  For He has never left the Human Nature of Him, from Whose Divine Nature He proceedeth.  He remains therefore in Him, Who only can both do all things and at all times.  Now the faithful, who receive Him, since they cannot always retain the gifts of miracles, as they desire, testify that they have received Him as it were in a passing manifestation.  But whereas on the other hand it is said by the mouth of Truth concerning the same Spirit to the Disciples, For He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, [John 14, 17] how is it, that this same abiding of the Holy Spirit is by the voice of God declared to be the sign of the Mediator, where it is said, Upon Whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding on Him?  If then according to the words of the Master He abideth in the disciples also, how will it be any longer a special sign, that He abides in the Mediator?  Now this we shall learn the sooner, if we discriminate between the gifts of the same Spirit.


91.  Now there are some of His gifts, without which life is never attained; and there are others whereby holiness of life is made known for the good of other men.  For meekness, humility, faith, hope, charity, are gifts that come from Him, and they are such as man can never reach to life without.  And the gift of Prophecy, healing, different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues [sermonum], are His gifts; yet such as shew forth the presence of His power for the improvement of all beholders.  In the case of these gifts then, without which we can never attain to life, the Holy Spirit for ever abides, whether in His preachers, or in all the Elect; but in those gifts whereof the object is not the preservation of our own life, but of the lives of others through the manifestation of Him, He by no means always abides in the Preachers.  For He is indeed always ruling their hearts to the end of good living, yet does not always exhibit the signs of miraculous powers by them, but sometimes, for all manifestation of miracles, He withdraws Himself from them, in order that those powers, which belong to Him, may be had with greater humility, in the same degree that being in possession they cannot be retained.


92.  But the Mediator of God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, in all things hath Him both always and continually present.  For the same Spirit even in Substance proceeds from Him.  And thus, though He abides in the holy Preachers, He is justly said to abide in the Mediator in a special manner, for that in them He abides of grace for a particular object, but in Him He abides substantially for all ends.  For as our body is cognizant of the sense of touch only, but the head of the body has the use of all the five senses at once, so that it sees, hears, tastes, smells, and touches; so the members of the Supreme Head shine forth in some of the powers, but the Head Itself blazes forth in all of them.  The Spirit then abides in Him in another sort, from Whom He never departs by reason of His Nature.  Now those of His gifts, by which life is attained, can never without danger be lost, but the gifts, whereby holiness of life is made evident, are very often withdrawn, as we have said, without detriment.  So then the first are to be kept for our own edification, the latter to be sought for the improvement of others.  In the case of the one let the fear alarm us, lest they perish, but in the other, when they are withdrawn for a season, let humility be our consolation, for that they may chance to lift up the mind to entertain pride.  Accordingly when the power of miracles which had been vouchsafed is withdrawn, let us exclaim as is right, The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the Name of the Lord.  For then, and only then, we really shew that we have held in a right spirit all that we had given us, when we bear with patience the momentary withdrawal thereof.