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The whole of the second chapter of the Book of Job is explained after the manner of the former Books, historically, allegorically, and morally.






1.  BLESSED Job, though aimed at for death in his temptation, gained growth unto life by the stroke.  And our old enemy grieved to find that he had only multiplied his excellences by the very means, by which he had thought to do away with them, but whereas he sees that he has been worsted in the first struggle, he prepares himself for fresh assaults of temptations, and still has the boldness to augur evil of that holy man; for one that is evil can never believe goodness to exist, though proved by his experience.  Now those circumstances, which were promised in the first infliction, are again subjoined, when it is said, 

Ver. 1, 2, 3.  Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them to present himself before the Lord.   And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou?  And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.  And the Lord said unto Satan, 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?   


Because we have discussed these particulars very fully above, we the rather pass them over in silence, lest, whilst we often repeat points once gone into, we delay too long in coming to such as are untouched; although what is said to Satan by the Lord's voice, Whence comest thou?  I cannot consider to be addressed to him just as it was before; for whereas he returns defeated from that contest upon which he had been let loose, and yet is asked ‘whence he comes,’ when it is known from whence he comes, what else is this but that the impotency of his pride is chidden?  As though the voice of God openly said, ‘See, thou art overcome by a single man, and him too beset with the infirmities of the flesh; thou, that strivest to set thyself up against Me, the Maker of all things!’  Hence when the Lord immediately went on to declare the excellences of Job, as He did before, it is together with the triumphs of his victory that He enumerates this, and adds,

And still he holdeth fast his integrity.




2.  As if He said explicitly, ‘Thou indeed hast wrought thy malice, but he has not lost his innocence; and thou art forced to serve to his advancement by the very means whence thou thoughtest to lessen his advancement.  For that inward innocency, which he honourably maintained when at rest, he has more honourably preserved under the rod.  It follows;

Although thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause.




3.  Whereas God is a just and a true God, it is important to enquire how and in what sense He shews that He had afflicted Job without cause.  For because He is just, He could not afflict him without cause, and again, because He is true, He could not have spoken other than what He did.  So then that both particulars may concur in Him that is just and true, so that He should both speak truth, and not act unjustly, let us know, that blessed Job was both in one sense smitten without cause, and again in another sense, that he was smitten not without cause.  For as He that is just and true, says the thing of Himself, let us prove both that what He said was true, and that what He did was righteous.  For it was necessary that the holy man, who was known to God alone and to his own conscience, should make known to all as a pattern for their imitation with what preeminent virtue he was enriched.  For he could not visibly give to others examples of virtue, if he remained himself without temptation.  Accordingly it was brought to pass, both that the very force of the infliction should exhibit his stores of virtue for the imitation of all men, and that the strokes inflicted upon him should bring to light what in time of tranquillity lay hidden.  Now by means of the same blows the virtue of patience gained increase, and the gloriousness of his reward was augmented by the pains of the scourge.  Thus, that we may uphold the truth of God in word, and His equity in deed, the blessed Job is at one and the same time not afflicted without cause, seeing that his merits are increased, and yet he is afflicted without cause, in that he is not punished for any offence committed by him.  For that man is stricken without cause, who has no fault to be cut away; and he is not stricken without cause, the merit of whose virtue is made to accumulate.


4.  But what is meant when it is said, Thou movedst Me against him?  Is ‘the Truth’ then inflamed by the words of Satan, so that at his instigation He falls to torturing His servants?  Who could imagine those things of God which he even accounts unworthy of a good man?  But because we ourselves never strike unless when moved, the stroke of God itself is called the ‘moving’ Him.  And the voice of God condescends to our speech, that His doings may in one way or another be reached by man's understanding.  For that Power which without compulsion created all things, and which without oversight rules all things, and without labour sustains all, and governs without being busied, corrects also without emotion.  And by stripes He forms the minds of men to whatsoever He will, in such sort still that He never passeth into the darkness of change from the light of His Unchangeable Being.  It follows;

Ver. 4, 5.  And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.  But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.




5.  The old enemy derives from outward things the charge which he urges against the blessed man's soul.  For he affirms that ‘skin is given for skin;’ as it often happens that when we see a blow directed against the face, we put our hands before our eyelids to guard the eyes from the stroke, and we present our bodies to be wounded, lest they be wounded in a tenderer part.  Satan then, who knew that such things are customarily done, exclaims, Skin for skin, and all that a man hath will he give in exchange for his life.  As if he said in plain words, ‘It is for this reason that Job bears with composure so many strokes falling without, because he fears lest he should be smitten himself, and so it is care of the flesh that makes him unmoved by hurt done to the feelings of the flesh; for while he fears for his own person, he feels the less the hurt of what belongs to him. 


And hence he immediately requires his flesh to be smitten, in these words;

But put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. 


He had said above, Touch all that he hath, and he will curse Thee to Thy face. [Job 1, 11]  Now, as if forgetting his former proposal, being beaten upon one point, he demands another.  And this is justly allowed him by God's dispensation, that the audacious disputer, by being over and over again overcome, may be made to keep silence.  It proceeds;

Ver.6.  And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.




6.  Here again, the safeguard of protection goes along with the permission to smite, and the dispensation of God both while guarding, forsakes his elect servant, and while forsaking, guards him.  A portion of him He gives over, a portion He protects.  For if he had left Job wholly in the hand of so dire a foe, what could have become of a mere man?  And so with the very justice of the permission there is mixed a certain measure of pity, that in one and the same contest, both His lowly servant might rise by oppression, and the towering enemy be brought down by the permission.  Thus the holy man is given over to the adversary's hand, but yet in his inmost soul he is held fast by the hand of his Helper.  For he was of the number of those sheep, concerning whom Truth itself said in the Gospel, Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. [John 10, 28]  And yet it is said to the enemy, when he demands him, Behold, he is in thine hand.  The same man then is at the same time in the hand of God, and in the hand of the devil.  For by saying, he is in thine hand, and straightway adding, but save his life, the pitiful Helper openly shewed that His hand was upon him whom He yielded up, and that in giving He did not give him, whom, while He cast him forth, He at the same time hid from the darts of his adversary.


7.  But how is that it is said to Satan, but save his life [animam]?  For how does he keep safe, who is ever longing to break in upon things under safe keeping?  But Satan's saving is spoken of his not daring to break in, just as, conversely, we petition The Father in prayer, saying, Lead us not into temptation; [Matt. 6, 13] for neither does the Lord lead us into temptation, Who is ever mercifully shielding His servants there from.  Yet it is as it were for Him ‘to lead us into temptation,’ not to protect us from the allurements of temptation.  And He then as it were ‘leads us not into the snare of temptation,’ when He does not let us be tempted beyond what we are able to bear.  In like manner then as God is said to ‘lead us into temptation,’ if He suffers our adversary to lead us thereinto, so our adversary is said to ‘save our soul [animum, same as above],’ when he is stayed from overcoming it by his temptations.

Ver. 7.  So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. 


How ‘Satan goes forth from the presence of the Lord,’ is shewn by the remarks which have been already [some Mss. add ‘often’] made above.  It goes on;

And smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown.




8.  Strokes are to be estimated in two ways, viz. to consider either of what kind, or how great.  For being many they are often made right by their quality, and being heavy by their quantity, i.e. when, if they be many, they be not heavy, and if they be heavy, they be not many; in order to shew, then, how by the sharpness of the stroke the adversary flamed against the holy man, not only in the badness of the kind, but also in the heaviness of the amount: to prove the quality, it is said, And smote Job with sore boils; and to teach the quantity, from the sole of his foot unto his crown.  Plainly, that nothing might be void of glory in his soul, in whose body there is no part void of pain.  It goes on;

Ver. 8.  And he took him a potsherd to scrape himself withal; and he sat down among the ashes.




9.  What is a potsherd made from, excepting mud?  and what is the humour of the body, but mud?  Accordingly he is said ‘to scrape the humour with a potsherd,’ as if it were plainly said, ‘he wiped away mud with mud.’  For the holy man reflected, whence that which he carried about him had been taken, and with the broken piece of a vessel of clay he scraped his broken vessel of clay.  By which act we have it openly shewn us, in what manner he subdued under him that body of his when sound, which even when stricken he tended with such slight regard; how softly he dealt with his flesh in its sound state, who applied neither clothing, nor fingers, but only a potsherd to its very wounds.  And thus he scraped the humour with a potsherd, that seeing himself in the very broken piece, he might even by the cleansing of the wound be taking a remedy for his soul.


10.  But because it often happens that the mind is swelled by the circumstances that surround the body, and by the way men behave toward us the frailty of the body is removed from before the eyes of the mind, (as there are some of those that are of the world, who while they are buoyed up with temporal honours, whilst they rule in elevated stations, whilst they see the obedience of multitudes yielded to them at will, neglect to consider their own frailty, and altogether forget, nor ever take heed, how speedily that vessel of clay which they bear, is liable to be shattered,) so blessed Job, that he might take thought of his own frailty from the things about him, and increase the intensity of his self-contempt in his own eyes, is described to have seated himself not any where on the earth, which at most in every place is found clean, but upon a dunghill.  He set his body on a dunghill, that the mind might to its great profit consider thoroughly what was that substance of the flesh, which was taken from the ground. [Gen. 3, 23]  He set his body on a dunghill, that even from the stench of the place he might apprehend how rapidly the body returneth to stench.


11.  But see, while blessed Job is undergoing such losses in his substance, and grieving over the death of so many children whereby he is smitten, while he is suffering such numberless wounds, while he scrapes the running humour with a potsherd, whilst, running down in a state of corruption, he sat himself upon a dunghill, it is good to consider how it is that Almighty God, as though in unconcern, afflicts so grievously those, whom He looks upon as so dear to Him for all eternity.  But, now, while I view the wounds and the torments of blessed Job, I suddenly call back my mind's eye to John, and I reflect not without the greatest astonishment, that he, being filled with the Spirit of prophecy within his mother's womb, and who, if I may say so, before his birth, was born again, he that was the friend of the Bridegroom, [John 3, 29] he than whom none hath arisen greater among those born of women, [Matt. 11, 11] he that was so great a Prophet, that he was even more than a Prophet, he is cast into prison by wicked men, and beheaded, for the dancing of a damsel, and a man of such severe virtue dies for the merriment of the vile!  Do we imagine there was aught in his life which that most contemptible death was to wipe off?  When, then, did he sin even in meat, whose food was but locusts and wild honey?  How did he offend even by the quality of his clothing, the covering of whose body was of camel's hair?  How could he transgress in his behaviour, who never went out from the desert?  How did the guilt of a talkative tongue defile him, who was parted far from mankind?  When did even a fault of silence attach to him, who so vehemently charged those that came to him?  O generation, of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? [Matt. 3, 7]  How is it then, that Job is distinguished above other men by the testimony of God, and yet by his plagues is brought down even to a dunghill?  How is it that John is commended by the voice of God, and yet for the words of a drunkard suffers death as the prize of dancing?  How is it, that Almighty God so utterly disregards in this present state of being those whom He chose so exaltedly before the worlds, saving this, which is plain to the religious sense of the faithful, that it is for this reason He thus presses them below, because He sees how to recompense them on high?  And He casts them down without to the level of things contemptible, because He leads them on within to the height of things incomprehensible.  From hence then let everyone collect what those will have to suffer There, that are condemned by Him, if here He thus torments those whom He loves, or how they shall be smitten, who are destined to be convicted at the Judgment, if their life is sunk so low, who are commended by witness of the Judge Himself.  It proceeds;

Ver. 9.  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  curse God, and die. 




12.  The old adversary is wont to tempt mankind in two ways; viz. so as either to break the hearts of the stedfast by tribulation, or to melt them by persuasion.  Against blessed Job then he strenuously exerted himself in both; for first upon the householder he brought loss of substance; the father he bereaved by the death of his children; the man that was in health he smote with putrid sores.  But forasmuch as him, that was outwardly corrupt, he saw still to hold on sound within, and because he grudged him, whom he had stripped naked outwardly, to be inwardly enriched by the setting forth of his Maker's praise, in his cunning he reflects and considers, that the champion of God is only raised up against him by the very means whereby he is pressed down, and being defeated he betakes himself to subtle appliances of temptations.  For he has recourse again to his arts of ancient contrivance, and because he knows by what means Adam is prone to be deceived, he has recourse to Eve.  For he saw that blessed Job amidst the repeated loss of his goods, the countless wounds of his strokes, stood unconquered, as it were, in a kind of fortress of virtues.  For he had set his mind on high, and therefore the machinations of the enemy were unable to force an entrance on it.  The adversary then seeks by what steps he may mount up to this well-fenced fortress.  Now the woman is close to the man and joined to him.  Therefore he fixed his hold on the heart of the woman, and as it were found in it a ladder whereby he might be able to mount up to the heart of the man.  He seized the mind of the wife, which was the ladder to the husband.  But he could do nothing by this artifice.  For the holy man minded that the woman was set under and not over him, and by speaking aright, he instructed her, whom the serpent set on to speak wrongly.  For it was meet that manly reproof should hold in that looser mind; since indeed he knew even by the first fall of man, that the woman was unskilled to teach aright.  And hence it is well said by Paul, I permit not a woman to teach. [1 Tim. 2, 12]  Doubtless for that, when she once taught, she cast us off from an eternity of wisdom.  And so the old enemy was beaten by [perdidit ab] Adam on a dunghill, he that conquered Adam in Paradise; and whereas he inflamed the wife, whom he took to his aid, to utter words of mispersuasion, he sent her to the school of holy instruction; and she that had been set on that she might destroy, was instructed that she should not ruin herself.  Yes, the enemy is so stricken by those resolute men of our part, that his very own weapons are seized out of his hand.  For by the same means, whereby he reckons to increase the pain of the wound, he is helping them to arms of virtue to use against himself.


13.  Now from the words of his wife, thus persuading him amiss, we ought to mark with attention, that the old enemy goes about to bend the upright state of our mind, not only by means of himself, but by means of those that are attached to us.  For when he cannot undermine our heart by his own persuading, then indeed he creeps to the thing by the tongues of those that belong to us.  For hence it is written; Beware of thine own children, and take heed to thyself from thy servants. [Ecclus. 32, 22. Vulg.] Hence it is said by the Prophet; Take ye heed every one of his neighbour, and trust ye not in any brother. [Jer. 9, 4]  Hence it, is again written; And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. [Matt. 10, 36]  For when the crafty adversary sees himself driven back from the hearts of the good, he seeks out those that they very much love, and he speaks sweetly to them by the words of such as are beloved by them above others, that whilst the force of love penetrates the heart, the sword of his persuading may easily force a way in to the defences of inward uprightness.  Thus after the losses of his goods, after the death of his children, after the wounding and rending of his limbs, the old foe put in motion the tongue of his wife.


14.  And observe the time when he aimed to corrupt the mind of the man with poisoned talk.  For it was after the wounds that the words were brought in by him; doubtless that, as the force of the pain waxed greater, the froward dictates of his persuasions might easily prevail.  But if we minutely consider the order itself of his temptation, we see with what craft he worketh his cruelty.  For he first directed against him the losses of his goods, which should be at once, as they were, out of the province of nature, and without the body.  He withdrew from him his children, a thing now no longer indeed without the province of nature, but still in some degree beyond his own body.  Lastly, he smote even his body.  But because, by these wounds of the flesh, he could not attain to wound the soul, he sought out the tongue of the woman that was joined to him.  For because it sorely grieved him to be overcome in open fight, he flung a javelin from the mouth of the wife, as if from a place of ambush: as she said, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  Bless God and die.  Mark how in trying him, he took away every thing, and again in trying him, left him his wife, and shewed craftiness in stripping him of every thing, but infinitely greater cunning, in keeping the woman as his abettor, to say, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  Eve repeats her own words.  For what is it to say, ‘give over thine integrity,’ but ‘disregard obedience by eating the forbidden thing?’  And what is it to say, Bless [see Book I, 31.] God and die, but ‘live by mounting above the commandment, above what thou wast created to be?’  But our Adam lay low upon a dunghill in strength, who once stood up in Paradise in weakness.  For thereupon he replied to the words of his evil counsellor, saying,

Ver. 10.  Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?




15.  See the enemy is every where broken, every where overcome, in all his appliances of temptation he has been brought to the ground, in that he has even lost that accustomed consolation which he derived from the woman.  Amid these circumstances it is good to contemplate the holy man, without, void of goods, within, filled with God.  When Paul viewed in himself the riches of internal wisdom, yet saw himself outwardly a corruptible body, he says, We have this treasure in earthen vessels. [2 Cor. 4, 7]  You see, the earthen vessel in blessed Job felt those gaping sores without, but this treasure remained entire within.  For without he cracked in his wounds, but the treasure of wisdom unfailingly springing up within issued forth in words of holy instruction, saying, If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?  meaning by the good, either the temporal or the eternal gifts of God, and by the evil, denoting the strokes of the present time, of which the Lord saith by the Prophet, I am the Lord, and there is none else.  I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil. [Is. 45, 6. 7.]  Not that evil, which does not subsist by its own nature, is created by the Lord, but the Lord shews Himself as creating evil, when He turns into a scourge the things that have been created good for us, upon our doing evil, that the very same things should at the same time both by the pain which they inflict be to transgressors evil, and yet good by the nature whereby they have their being.  And hence poison is to man indeed death, but life to the serpent.  For we by the love of things present have been led away from the love of our Creator; and whereas the froward mind submitted itself to fondness for the creature, it parted from the Creator's communion, and so it was to be smitten by its Maker by means of the things which it had erringly preferred to its Maker, that by the same means whereby man in his pride was not afraid to commit sin, he might find a punishment to his correction, and might the sooner recover himself to all that he had lost, the more he perceived that the things which he aimed at were full of pain.  And hence it is rightly said, I form the light, and create darkness.  For when the darkness of pain is created by strokes without, the light of the mind is kindled by instruction within.  I make peace, and create evil.  For peace with God is restored to us then, when the things which, though rightly created, are not rightly coveted, are turned into such sort of scourges as are evil to us.  For we are become at variance with God by sin.  Therefore it is meet that we should be brought back to peace with Him by the scourge, that whereas every being created good turns to pain for us, the mind of the chastened man may be renewed in a humbled state to peace with the Creator.  These scourges, then, blessed Job names evil, because he considers with what violence they smite the good estate of health and tranquillity.


16.  But this we ought especially to regard in his words, viz. with what a skilful turn of reflection he gathers himself up to meet the persuading of his wife, saying, If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?  For it is a mighty solace of our tribulation, if, when we suffer afflictions, we recall to remembrance our Maker's gifts to us, Nor does that break down our force, which falls upon us in the smart, if that quickly comes to mind, which lifts us up in the gift.  For it is hence written, In the day of prosperity be not unmindful of affliction, and in the day of affliction, be not unmindful of prosperity. [Ecclus. 11, 25]  For whosoever receives God's gifts, but in the season of gifts has no fear of strokes, is brought to a fall by joy in his elation of mind.  And whoever is bruised with scourges, yet, in the season of the scourges, neglects to take comfort to himself from the gifts, which it has been his lot to receive, is thrown down from the stedfastness of his mind by despair on every hand.  Thus then both must be united, that each may always have the other's support, so that both remembrance of the gift may moderate the pain of the stroke, and misgiving and dread of the stroke may bite down the joyousness of the gift.  And thus the holy man, to soothe the depression of his mind amidst his wounds, in the pains of the strokes weighs the sweetness of the gifts, saying, If we have received good at the hand of the Lord, shall we not receive evil?  And he does well in saying first, Thou hast spoken like one of the foolish women.  For because it is the sense of a bad woman, and not her sex, that is in fault, he never says, ‘Thou hast spoken like one of the women,’ but ‘of the foolish women,’ clearly that it might be shewn, that whatsoever is of ill sense cometh of superadded folly, and not of nature so formed.  The account goes on;

In all this did not Job sin with his lips.




17.  We sin with our lips in two ways; either when we say unjust things, or withhold the just.  For if it were not sometimes a sin also to be silent, the Prophet would never say, Woe is me, that I held my peace. [Is. 6, 5. Vulg.]  Blessed Job, then, in all that he did, sinned no wise with his lips; in that he neither spake proudly against the smiter, nor withheld the right answer to the adviser.  Neither by speech, therefore, nor by silence did he offend, who both gave thanks to the Father that smote him, and administered wisdom of instruction to the ill-advising wife.  For because he knew what he owed to God, what to his neighbour, viz. resignation to his Creator, wisdom to his wife, therefore he both instructed her by his uttering reproof, and magnified Him by giving thanks.  But which is there of us, who, if he were to receive any single wound of such severe infliction, would not at once be laid low in the interior?  See, that when outwardly prostrated by the wounds of the flesh, he abides inwardly erect in the fences of the mind, and beneath him he sees every dart fly past wherewith the raging enemy transfixes him outwardly with unsparing hand; watchfully he catches the javelins, now cast, in wounds, against him in front, and now, in words, as it were from the side.  And our champion encompassed with the rage of the besetting fight, at all points presents his shield of patience, meets the darts coming in on every hand, and on all virtue's sides wheels round the guarded mind to front the assailing blows.


18.  But the more valiantly our old enemy is overcome, the more hotly is he provoked to further arts of malice.  For whereas the wife when chidden was silent, he forthwith set on others to rise up in insults till they must be chidden.  For as he essayed to make his blows felt, by the often repeated tidings of the losses of his substance, so he now busies himself to penetrate that firm heart by dealing reiterated strokes with the insults of the lips.  It proceeds;

Ver. 11.  Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came everyone from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite: for they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.




19.  We have it proved to us how great a love they entertained both for each other, and for the smitten man, in that they came by agreement to administer consolation to him when afflicted.  Though even by this circumstance, viz. that Scripture bears witness they were the friends of so great a man, it is made appear that they were men of a good spirit and right intention; though this very intention of mind, when they break forth into words, upon indiscretion arising, becomes clouded in the sight of the strict Judge.  It goes on;

Ver. 12.  And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent everyone his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.




20.  Because the scourge had altered the appearance of the stricken man, his friends ‘lift up their voice and weep,’ ‘rend their garments,’ ‘sprinkle dust upon their heads;’ that seeing him altered to whom they had come, their voluntary grief might likewise alter the very appearance even of the comforters also.  For the order in consolation is, that when we would stay one that is afflicted from his grief, we first essay to accord with his sorrow by grieving.  For he can never comfort the mourner who does not suit himself to his grief, since from the very circumstance that his own feelings are at variance with the mourner's distress, he is rendered the less welcome to him, from whom he is parted by the character of his feelings; the mind therefore must first be softened down, that it may accord with the distressed, and by according attach itself, and by attaching itself draw him.  For iron is not joined to iron, if both be not melted by the burning effect of fire, and a hard substance does not adhere to a soft, unless its hardness be first made soft by tempering, so as in a manner to become the very thing, to which our object is that it should hold.  Thus we neither lift up the fallen, if we do not bend from the straightness of our standing posture.  For, whereas the uprightness of him that standeth disagreeth with the posture of one lying, he never can lift him to whom he cares not to lower himself; and so the friends of blessed Job, that they might stay him under affliction from his grief, were of necessity solicitous to grieve with him, and when they beheld his wounded body, they set themselves to rend their own garments, and when they saw him altered, they betook themselves to defiling their heads with dust, that the afflicted man might the more readily give ear to their words, that he recognised in them somewhat of his own in the way of affliction.


21.  But herein be it known, that he who desires to comfort the afflicted, must needs set a measure to the grief, to which he submits, lest he should not only fail of soothing the mourner, but, by the intemperance of his grief, should sink the mind of the afflicted to the heaviness of despair.  For our grief ought to be so blended with the grief of the distressed, that by qualifying it may lighten it, and not by increasing weigh it down.  And hence perhaps we ought to gather, that the friends of blessed Job in administering consolation gave themselves up to grief more than was needed, in that while they mark the stroke, but are strangers to the mind of him that was smitten, they betake themselves to unmeasured lamentation, as if the smitten man who was of such high fortitude, under the scourge of his body, had fallen in mind too.  It proceeds;

Ver. 13.  So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great.




22.  Whether they sat with the afflicted Job for seven days and seven nights together, or possibly for seven days and as many nights kept by him in assiduous and frequent visiting, we cannot tell.  For we are often said to be doing any thing for so many days, though we may not be continually busied therein all those days.  And often holy Scripture is wont to put the whole for a part, in like manner as it does a part for the whole.  Thus it speaks of a part for the whole, as where, in describing Jacob's household, it says, All the souls of the house of Jacob which came into Egypt were threescore and ten. [Gen. 46, 27]  Where indeed, while it makes mention of souls, it clearly takes in the bodies also of the comers.  Again it puts in the whole for a part, as where at the tomb Mary complains, saying, They have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid Him. [John 20, 2]  For it was the Body of the Lord only that she had come to seek, and yet she bewails the Lord as though His whole Person had been altogether taken away [tultum]; and so in this place too it is doubtful whether the whole is put for a part.


23.  Yet this circumstance, viz. that they were a long while silent, and yet in speaking after all were condemned, must not be passed over carelessly.  For there are some men who both begin to speak with precipitation, and follow out that unchecked beginning with still less check.  While there are some who are indeed backward to begin to speak, but having once begun know not how to set limits to their words.  Accordingly the friends of blessed Job, upon seeing his grief, were for long silent, yet, whilst slow to begin, they spoke with indiscretion, because they would not spare him in his grief.  They held their tongue that it might not begin over-hastily, but once begun they never ruled it, that it might not let itself out from imparting consolation so far as to offer insults.  And they indeed had come with a good intention to give comfort; yet that which the pious mind offered to God pure, their hasty speech defiled.  For it is written, If thou offerest rightly, but dividest not rightly, thou has sinned. [Gen. 4, 7. lxx.]  For it is rightly offered, when the thing that is done is done with a right intention.  But it is not ‘rightly divided,’ unless that which is done with a pious mind be made out with exact discrimination.  For to ‘divide the offering aright’ is to weigh all our good aims, carefully discriminating them; and whoso puts by doing this, even when we offer aright, is guilty of sin.


24.  And so it often happens, that in what we do with a good aim, by not exercising careful discrimination therein, we know nothing what end it will be judged withal [quo judicetur fine], and sometimes that becomes ground of accusation, which is accounted an occasion of virtue.  But whoever considers the doings of blessed Job's friends, cannot but see with what a pious intention they came to him.  For let us consider, what great love it shewed to have come together by agreement to the stricken man; what a preeminent degree of longsuffering it proved to be with the afflicted, without speaking, seven days and nights; what humility, to sit upon the earth so many days and nights; what compassion, to sprinkle their heads with dust!  But yet when they began to speak, by the same means, whereby they reckoned to win the price of a reward, it was their lot to meet with the arraignment of rebuke; for to the unwary even that which is begun for the object of recompense alone, oftentimes turns to an issue in sin.  Observe!  by hasty speech they lost that good which it cost them so much labour to purchase.  And unless the grace of God had bidden them to offer sacrifice for their guilt, they might have been justly punished by the Lord, on the very grounds whereon they reckoned themselves exceeding well-pleasing to Him.  By the same proceeding they displease the Judge, whereby, as if in that Judge's defence, they please themselves through want of self-control.  Now it is for this reason that we speak thus, that we may recall to the recollection of our readers, for each one to consider heedfully with himself, with what dread visitations the Lord punishes the actions which are done with an evil design, if those which are begun with a good aim, but mixed with the heedlessness of indiscretion, are chastised with such severe rebuke.  For who would not believe that he had secured himself ground of recompense, either if in God's defence he had said aught against his neighbour, or at all events if in sorrow for a neighbour he had kept silence seven days and nights?  And yet the friends of blessed Job by doing this were brought into sin for their pains, because while the good aim of comforting which they were about was known to them, yet they did not know with what a balance of discretion it was to be done.  Whence it appears that we must not only regard what it is that we do, but also with what discretion we put it in execution.  First indeed, that we may never do evil in any manner, and next, that we may not do our good deeds without caution; and it is in fact to perform these good deeds with carefulness, that the Prophet admonishes us when he says, Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord negligently. [Jer. 48, 10. Vulg.]  But let these things stand us in stead to this end, that before the exact and incomprehensible scrutiny of the Awful Judge shall be, we may not only fear for all that we have done amiss, but if there be in us aught of the kind, for the very things that we have done well; for oftentimes that is found out to be sin at His Judgment, which before the Judgment passes for virtue, and from the same source, whence we look for the merciful recompense of our works, there comes upon us the chastisement of righteous vengeance.




25.  We have run through these particulars thus briefly considered according to the letter of the history, now let us turn our discourse to the mystical sense of the allegory.  But as, when, at the beginning of this work, we were treating of the union betwixt the Head and the Body, we premised with earnest emphasis how close the bond of love was between them, forasmuch us both the Lord in fact still suffers many things by His Body, which is all of us, and His Body, i.e.  the Church, already glories in its Head, viz. the Lord, in heaven; so now we ought in such sort to set forth the sufferings of that Head, that it may be made appear how much He undergoes in His Body also.  For if the torments that we endure did not reach our Head, He would never cry out to His persecutor even from heaven in behalf of His afflicted Members, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? [Acts 9, 4]  If our agony were not His pain, Paul, when afflicted after his conversion, would never have said, I fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh. [Col. 1, 24]  And yet being already elevated by the resurrection of his Head, he says, And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places; [Eph. 2, 6] in this way, namely, that the torments of persecution had enchained him on earth, yet while sunk down with the weight of his pains, lo, he was already seated in heaven, through the glory of his Head.  Therefore because we know that in all things the Head and the Body are one, we in such wise begin with the smiting of the Head that we may afterwards come to the strokes of the Body.  But this, viz. that it is said, “that on a day Satan came to present himself before the Lord;” that he is interrogated ‘whence he comes?’ that the blessed Job is distinguished by his Creator's high proclaim; forasmuch as we have already made it out more than once, we forbear to explain again.  For if the mind is a long time involved in points that have been examined, it is hindered in coming to those which have not been, and so we now put the beginning of the allegory there, where, after often repeated words, we find something new added.  So then He says,

Ver. 3.  Though thou movedst Me against him, to destroy him without cause.




26.  If blessed Job bears the likeness of our Redeemer in His Passion, how is it that the Lord says to Satan, Thou moved at Me against him?  Truly the Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, came to bear the scourges of our mortal nature, that He might put away the sins of our disobedience; but forasmuch as He is of one and the self-same nature with the Father, how does the Father declare that He was moved by Satan against Him, when it is acknowledged that no inequality of power, no diversity of will, interrupts the harmony between the Father and the Son?  Yet He, that is equal to the Father by the Divine Nature, came for our sakes to be under stripes in a fleshly nature.  Which stripes He would never have undergone, if he had not taken the form of accursed man in the work of their redemption.  And unless the first man had transgressed, the second would never have come to the ignominies of the Passion.  When then the first man was moved by Satan from the Lord, then the Lord was moved against the second Man.  And so Satan then moved the Lord to the affliction of this latter, when the sin of disobedience brought down the first man from the height of uprightness.  For if he had not drawn the first Adam by wilful sin into the death of the soul, the second Adam, being without sin, would never have come into the voluntary death of the flesh, and therefore it is with justice said to him of our Redeemer too, Thou movedst Me against him to afflict [E.V. destroy] him without cause.  As though it were said in plainer words; ‘Whereas this Man dies not on His own account, but on account of that other, thou didst then move Me to the afflicting of This one, when thou didst withdraw that other from Me by thy cunning persuasions.’  And of Him it is rightly added, without cause.  For ‘he was destroyed without cause,’ who was at once weighed to the earth by the avenging of sin, and not defiled by the pollution of sin.  He ‘was destroyed without cause,’ Who, being made incarnate, had no sins of His own, and yet being without offence took upon Himself the punishment of the carnal.  For it is hence that speaking by the Prophet He says, Then I restored that which I took not away.  For that other that was created for Paradise would in his pride have usurped the semblance of the Divine power, yet the Mediator, Who was without guilt, discharged the guilt of that pride.  It is hence that a Wise Man saith to the Father; Forasmuch then as Thou art righteous Thyself, Thou orderest all things righteously; Thou condemnest Him too that deserveth not to be punished. [Wisd. 12, 15. Vulg.]


27.  But we must consider how He is righteous and ordereth all things righteously, if He condemns Him that deserveth not to be punished.  For our Mediator deserved not to be punished for Himself, because He never was guilty of any defilement of sin.  But if He had not Himself undertaken a death not due to Him, He would never have freed us from one that was justly due to us.  And so whereas ‘The Father is righteous,’ in punishing a righteous man, ‘He ordereth all things righteously,’ in that by these means He justifies all things, viz. that for the sake of sinners He condemns Him Who is without sin; that all the Elect [electa omnia] might rise up to the height of righteousness, in proportion as He Who is above all underwent the penalties of our unrighteousness.  What then is in that place called ‘being condemned without deserving,’ is here spoken of as being ‘afflicted without cause.’  Yet though in respect of Himself He was ‘afflicted without cause,’ in respect of our deeds it was not ‘without cause.’  For the rust of sin could not be cleared away, but by the fire of torment, He then came without sin, Who should submit Himself voluntarily to torment, that the chastisements due to our wickedness might justly loose the parties thereto obnoxious, in that they had unjustly kept Him, Who was free of them.  Thus it was both without cause, and not without cause, that He was afflicted, Who had indeed no crimes in Himself, but Who cleansed with His blood the stain of our guilt.

Ver. 4, 5.  And Satan answered the Lord, and said, Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.  But put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.




28.  When the evil spirit sees our Redeemer shine forth by miracles, he cries out, We know Who Thou art, the Holy One of God. [Luke 4, 34]  And in saying this, he dreads, whilst he owns, the Son of God.  Yet being a stranger to the power of heavenly pity, there are seasons when, beholding Him subject to suffering, he supposes Him to be mere man.  Now he had learnt that there were many in the pastoral station, cloked under the guise of sanctity, who, being very far removed from the bowels of charity, held for very little other men's ills.  And thus as though judging of Him by other men, because after much had been taken from Him, he did not see him subdued, he so flamed against Him even to His very flesh, in applying the touch of suffering, as to say, Skin for skin; yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life.  But put forth Thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse Thee to Thy face.  As though he said in plain terms, ‘He does not care to be moved by the things that are without Him, but it will then be really known what He is, if He shall experience in Himself what may make Him grieve.’  This Satan expressed in his own person not by words, but by wishes, when he desired to have it brought to pass; in his members he brought it on both by words and wishes at once.  For it is himself that speaks, when, according to the words of the Prophet, his followers say, Let us put the wood in his bread, and let us raze him out from the land of the living. [Jer. 11, 19. Vulg.]  For ‘to put the wood into the bread,’ is to apply the trunk of the cross to His body in affixing Him thereto; and they think themselves able to ‘raze out’ His life from the land of the living, Whom while they perceive Him to be mortal mould, they imagine to be put an end to by death.

Ver. 6.  And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand, but save his life.




29.  What fool even would believe that the Creator of all things was given up into ‘the hands of Satan?’  Yet who that is instructed by the Truth can be ignorant that of that very Satan all they are members who are Joined unto him by living frowardly?   Thus Pilate shewed himself a member of him, who, even to the extremity of putting Him to death, knew not the Lord when He came for our Redemption.  The chief priests proved themselves to be his body, who strove to drive the world's Redeemer from the world, by persecuting Him even to the cross.  When then the Lord for our salvation gave Himself up to the hands of Satan's members, what else did He, but let loose that Satan's hand to rage against Himself, that by the very act whereby He Himself outwardly fell low, He might set us free both outwardly and inwardly.  If therefore the hand of Satan is taken for his power, He after the flesh bore the hand of him, whose power over the body He endured even to the spitting, the buffetting, the stripes, the cross, the lance; and hence when He cometh to His Passion He saith to Pilate, i.e. to the body of Satan, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me except it were given thee from above; [John 19, 11] and yet this power, which He had given to him against Himself without, He compelled to serve the end of His own interest within.  For Pilate, or Satan who was that Pilate's head, was held under the power of that One over Whom he had received power; in that being far above He had Himself ordained that which now condescending to an inferior condition He was undergoing from the persecutor, that though it arose from the evil mind of unbelievers, yet that very cruelty itself might also serve to the weal of all the Elect, and therefore He pitifully ordained all that within, which He suffered Himself to undergo thus foully without.  And it is hence that it is said of Him at the supper, Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments. [John 13, 3]  Behold how, when He was about to come into the hands of those that persecuted Him, He knew that those very persecutors even had been given into His own hand.  For He, Who knew that He had received all things, plainly held those very persons by whom He was held, that He should Himself inflict on Himself, for the purposes of mercy, whatsoever their permitted wickedness should cruelly devise against Him.  Let it then be said to him, Behold, he is in thine hand, in that when ravening thereafter he received permission to smite His flesh, yet unwittingly he rendered service to the Power of that Being.


30.  Now he is ordered to ‘save the life of the soul,’ not that he is forbidden to tempt it, but that he is convicted of being unable to overcome it.  For never, as we that are mere men are oftentimes shaken by the assault of temptation, was the soul of your Redeemer disordered by its urgency.  For though our enemy, being permitted, took Him up into an high mountain, though he promised that he would give Him the kingdoms of the earth, and though he shewed Him stones as to be turned into bread, yet he had no power to shake by temptation the mind of the Mediator betwixt God and man.  For He so condescended to take all this upon Himself externally, that His mind, being still inwardly established in His Divine Nature, should remain unshaken.  And if He is at any time said to be troubled and to have groaned in the spirit, He did Himself in His Divine nature ordain how much He should in His Human nature be troubled, unchangeably ruling over all things, yet shewing Himself subject to change in the satisfying of human frailty; and thus remaining at rest in Himself, He ordained whatsoever He did even with a troubled spirit for the setting forth of that human nature which He had taken upon Himself.


31.  But as, when we love aright, there is nothing among created things that we love better than the life of our soul, and like as we say that we love those as our soul toward whom we strive to express the weight of our love, it may be that by the life of His Soul [per animam], is represented the life [vita] of the Elect.  And while Satan is let loose to smite the Redeemer's flesh, he is debarred the soul, forasmuch as at the same time that he obtains His Body to inflict upon it the Passion, he loses the Elect from the claims of his power, And while That One's flesh suffers death by the Cross, the mind of these is stablished against assaults.  Let it then be said, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life.  As if he had heard in plain words, ‘Take permission against His Body, and lose thy right of wicked dominion over His Elect, whom foreknowing in Himself before the world began He holdeth for His own.’

Ver. 7.  So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils, from the sole of his foot unto his crown.




32.  No one entereth into this life of the Elect, that has not undergone the contradictions of this enemy.  And they all have proved themselves the members of our Redeemer, who, from the first beginning of the world, whilst living righteously, have suffered wrongs.  Did not Abel prove himself His member, who not only in propitiating God by his sacrifice, but also by dying without a word, was a figure of Him, of whom it is written, He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth. [Is. 53, 7]  Thus from the very beginning of the world he strove to vanquish the Body of our Redeemer; and thus He inflicted wounds ‘from the sole of the foot to His crown,’ in that beginning with mere men, he came to the very Head of the Church in his raging efforts.  And it is well said;

Ver. 8.  And he took him a potsherd to scrape the humour withal.


33.  For what is the potsherd in the hand of the Lord, but the flesh which He took of the clay of our nature?  For the potsherd receives firmness by fire.  And the Flesh of our Lord was rendered stronger by His Passion, in so far as dying by infirmity, He arose from death void of infirmity.  And hence too it is rightly delivered by the Prophet, My strength is dried up like a potsherd. [Ps. 22, 15]  For His ‘strength was dried up like a potsherd,’ Who strengthened the infirmity of the flesh which He took upon Him by the fire of His Passion.  But what is to be understood by humour [saniem] saving sin?  For it is the custom to denote the sins of the flesh by flesh and blood.  And hence it is said by the Psalmist, Deliver me from blood. [Ps. 51, 16]  Humour then is the corruption of the blood.  And so what do we understand by humour but the sins of the flesh, rendered worse by length of time?  Thus the wound turns to humour when sin, being neglected, is aggravated by habit.  And so the Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, in giving up His Body into the hands of those that persecuted Him, scraped the humour with a potsherd, forasmuch as He put away sin by the flesh; for He came, as it is written, in the likeness of sinful flesh, that He might condemn sin of sin. [Rom. 8, 3. Vulg.]  And whilst He presented the purity of His own Flesh to the enemy, He cleansed away the defilements of ours.  And by means of that flesh whereby the enemy held us captive, He made atonement for us whom He set free.  For that which was made an instrument of sin by us, was by our Mediator converted for us into the instrument of righteousness.  And so ‘the humour is scraped with a potsherd,’ when sin is overcome by the flesh.  It is rightly subjoined;

And he sat down upon a dunghill.




34.  Not in the court in which the law resounds, not in the building which lifts its top on high, but on a dunghill he takes his seat, which is because the Redeemer of man on coming to take the flesh, as Paul testifies, hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. [1 Cor. 1, 27] Does not He, as it were, sit down upon a dunghill, the buildings being ruined, Who, the Jews in their pride being left desolate, rests in that Gentile world, which He had for so long time rejected?  He is found outside the dwelling all in His sores, Who herein, that He bore with Judaea, which set itself against Him, suffered the pain of His Passion amid the scorn of His own people; as John bears witness, who says, He came unto His own, but His own received Him not. [John 1, 11]  And how He rests Himself upon a dunghill, let this same Truth say for Himself; for He declared, Likewise I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons which need no repentance. [Luke 15, 7. and 10.]  See, He sits upon a dunghill in grief, Who, after sins have been committed, is willing to take possession of penitent hearts.  Are not the hearts of penitent sinners like a kind of dunghill, in that while they review their misdoings with bewailing, they are, as it were, heaping dung before their eyes in abusing themselves?  So when Job was smitten he did not seek a mountain, but sat down upon a dunghill, in that when our Redeemer came to His Passion, He left the high minds of the proud, and rested in the lowliness of the heavy laden.  And this, while yet before His Incarnation, He indicated, when He said by the Prophet, But to this man will I look, even to him, that is poor, and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at My word. [Is. 66, 2]


35.  But who can think what numberless outrages He underwent at the hands of men, Who shewed to men such unnumbered mercies?  Who can think how great those are which He even yet undergoes, yea now that He reigns from above over the hearts of the faithful?  For it is He that endures daily all wherein His Elect are racked and rent by the hands of the reprobate.  And though the Head of this Body, which same are we, already lifts itself free above all things, yet He still feels in His Body, which He keeps here below, the wounds dealt it by reprobate sinners.  But why do we speak thus of unbelievers, when within the very Church itself we see multitudes of carnal men, who fight against the life of our Redeemer by their wicked ways.  For there are some, who set upon Him with evil deeds, because they cannot with swords, forasmuch as when they see that what they go after is lacking to them in the Church, they become enemies to the just, and not only settle themselves into wicked practices, but are also busy to bend the uprightness of good men to a crooked course.  For they neglect to lift their eyes to the things of eternity, and in littleness of mind they yield themselves up to the lust of temporal things, and they fall the deeper from eternal blessings, in proportion as they look upon temporal blessings as the only ones.  The simplicity of the righteous is displeasing to these, and when they find opportunity for disturbing them, they press them to lay hold of their own duplicity.  Hence also this is in just accordance, which is added,

Ver. 9.  Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  curse God, and die.




36.  For of what did that mispersuading woman bear the likeness, but of all the carnal that are settled in the bosom of Holy Church, who in proportion as by the words of the Faith they profess they are within the pale, press harder on all the good by their ill-regulated conduct.  For they would perchance have done less mischief, if Holy Church had not admitted in and welcomed to the bed of faith those, whom, by receiving in a profession of faith, she doubtless puts it almost out of her power to eschew.  It is hence that in the press of the crowd one woman touched our Redeemer, whereupon the same our Redeemer at once saith, Who touched Me?  And when the disciples answered Him, The multitude throng Thee and press Thee, and sayest Thou, Who touched Me?  He therefore subjoined, Somebody hath touched Me, for I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me.


37.  Thus many press the Lord, but one alone touches Him; in that all carnal men in the Church press Him, from Whom they are far removed, while they alone touch Him, who are really united to Him in humility.  Therefore the crowd presses Him, in that the multitude of the carnally minded, as it is within the pale, so is it the more hardly borne with.  It ‘presses,’ but it does not ‘touch,’ in that it is at once troublesome by its presence, and absent by its way of life.  For sometimes they pursue us with bad discourse, and sometimes with evil practices alone, for so at one time they persuade to what they practise, and at another, though they use no persuasions, yet they cease not to afford examples of wickedness.  They, then, that entice us to do evil either by word or by example, are surely our persecutors, to whom we owe the conflicts of temptation, which we have to conquer at least in the heart.


38.  But we should know that carnal men in the Church set themselves to prompt wickedness at one time from a principle of fear, and at another of audacity, and when they themselves go wrong either from littleness of mind or pride of heart, they study to infuse these qualities, as if out of love, into the hearts of the righteous.  So Peter, before the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, retained a carnal mind.  It was with a carnal mind that the son of Zeruiah held to his leader David, whom he was joined to.  Yet the one was led into sin by fear, the other by pride.  For the first, when he heard of his Master's Death, said, Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be unto Thee. [Matt. 16, 22]  But the latter, not enduring the wrongs offered to his leader, says, Shall not Shimei be put to death for this, because he cursed the Lord's anointed? [2 Sam. 19, 21]  But to the first it is immediately replied, Get thee behind Me, Satan. [Matt. 16, 23]  And the other with his brother immediately heard the words; What have I to do with you, ye sons of Zeruiah, that ye are this day turned into a Satan [So Vulg. E.V. Adversaries] unto me? [2 Sam. 19, 22]  So that evil prompters are taken for apostate angels in express designation, who, as if in love, draw men to unlawful deeds by their enticing words.  But they are much the worse, who give into this sin not from fear but from pride, of whom the wife of blessed Job bore the figure in a special manner, in that she sought to prompt high thoughts to her husband, saying, Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  Curse God, and die.  She blames the simplicity in her husband, that in contempt of all things transitory, with a pure heart, he longs after the eternal only, As though she said, ‘Why dost thou in thy simplicity seek after the things of eternity, and in resignation groan under the weight of present ills?  Transgress [Excedens], and contemn eternity, and even by dying escape from present woes.’  But when any of the Elect encounter evil within coming from carnal men, what a model [formam] of uprightness they exhibit in themselves, let us learn from the words of him, wounded and yet whole, seated yet erect, who says,

Ver. 10.  Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.  What?  shall we receive good at the hand of the Lord, and shall we not receive evil?




39.  Holy men, when fastened upon by the war of afflictions, when at one and the same moment they are exposed to this party dealing them blows and to that urging persuasions, present to the one sort the shield of patience, at the other they launch the darts of instruction, and lift themselves up to either mode of warfare with a wonderful skill in virtue, so that they should at the same time both instruct with wisdom the froward counsels within, and contemn with courage the adverse events without; that by their instructions they may amend the one sort, and by their endurance put down the other.  For the assailing foes they contemn by bearing them, and the crippled citizens they recover to a state of soundness, by sympathizing with them.  Those they resist, that they may not draw off others also; they alarm themselves for these, lest they should wholly lose the life of righteousness.


40, Let us view the soldier of God's camp fighting against either sort, He says, Without were fightings, within were fears. [2 Cor. 7, 5]  He reckons up the wars, which he underwent external1y, in these words, In perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils ,in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren. [2 Cor. 11, 26]  Now in this war, what were those darts which he sent against the foe, let him add, In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. [ib. 27]  And let him say, when caught amidst such numerous assaults, with what a watchful defence he at the same time guarded the camp too.  For he forthwith proceeds, Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [ib. 28]  See how bravely he takes upon himself those fights, how mercifully he spends himself in defending his neighbours.  He describes the ills which he suffers, he subjoins the good that he imparts.  So let us consider how toilsome it must be, at one and the same time to undergo troubles without, and to defend the weak within.  Without, fightings are his lot, in that he is torn with stripes and bound with chains; within he suffers alarm, in that he dreads lest his sufferings do a mischief, not to himself but to his disciples.  And hence he writes to those same disciples, saying, That no man should be moved by these afflictions; for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. [1 Thess. 3, 3]  For in suffering himself he feared for the fate of others, lest while the disciples perceive him to be afflicted for the faith with stripes, they be backward to confess themselves to be of the faithful.  Oh!  bowels of boundless love!  All that he suffers himself, he disregards, and is concerned lest the disciples should suffer ought of evil prompting within the heart.  He slights the wounds of the body in himself, and heals the wounds of the soul in others.  For the righteous have this proper to themselves, that in the midst of the pain of their own woe, they never give over the care of others' weal, and when in suffering afflictions they grieve for themselves, still by giving needful instruction they provide for others, and are like some great physicians, that being smitten are brought into a state of sickness.  They themselves suffer from the lacerations of the wound, yet they proffer the salves of saving health to others.  But it is very far less toilsome, either to instruct when you are not suffering, or to suffer when you are not giving instruction.  Hence holy men skilfully apply their energies to both objects, and when they chance to be stricken with afflictions, they so meet the wars from without, that they take anxious thought that their neighbour's interior be not rent and torn.  Thus holy men stand up courageously in the line, and on the one hand smite with the javelin the breasts advanced against them, and on the other cover with the shield their feeble comrades in the rear.  And thus with a rapid glance they look out on either side, that they may at the same time pierce their daring foes in front, and shield from wounds their trembling friends behind.  Therefore, because holy men then are skilled so to meet adversities without, that they are at the same time able to correct froward counsels within, it may be well said, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.  For as it is said to the Elect, Act like men, and He shall comfort your heart; [Ps. 31, 24. Vulg.] so the minds of carnal men, which serve God with a yielding purpose, are not undeservedly called ‘women.’


41.  What?  shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?  As though he said, ‘If we are bent upon eternal blessings, what wonder if we meet with temporal evils?’  Now these blessings Paul had his eye fixed on with earnest interest, when he submitted with a composed mind to the ills that fell upon him, saying, For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [Rom. 8, 18]


In all this did not Job sin with his lips.  When holy men undergo persecution both within and without, they not only never transgress in injurious expressions against God, but they never launch words of reviling against their very adversaries themselves; which Peter, the leader of the good, rightly warns us of when he says, But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an [So Vulg.] evil speaker. [1 Pet. 4, 15]  For the evil speaker's way of suffering is, in the season of his suffering, to break loose in abuse at least of his persecutor.  But forasmuch as the Body of our Redeemer, viz. Holy Church, so bears the burthen of her sorrows, that she never transgresses the bounds of humility by words, it is rightly said of this sorrower;

In all this did not Job sin with his lips. 

Ver. 11.  Now when Job's three friends heard of all this evil that was come upon him, they came everyone from his own place; Eliphaz the Temanite, and Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.


42.  In the Preface to this work we said that the friends of blessed Job, though they come together to him with a good purpose, yet do for this reason bear the likeness of heretics, in that they fall away into sin by speaking without discretion; and hence it is said to them by blessed Job, Surely I would speak to the Almighty, I desire to reason with God; but ye are forgers of lies, and followers of corrupt doctrines. [Job 13, 3. 4.]  Thus Holy Church, which is set in the midst of tribulation all this time of her pilgrimage, whilst she suffers wounds, and mourns over the downfall of her members, has other enemies of Christ besides to bear with, under Christ's name.  For to the increasing of her grief, heretics also meet together in dispute and strife, and they pierce her with unreasonable words like as with a kind of dart.


43.  And it is well said, they came every one from his own place.  For ‘the place’ of heretics is very pride itself.  For except they first swelled with pride in their hearts, they would never enter the lists of false assertion.  For the place of the wicked is pride, just as reversely humility is ‘the place’ of the good.  Whereof Solomon saith, If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place. [Eccles. 10, 4]  As though he said in plain words, ‘If thou perceivest the spirit of the Tempter to prevail against thee in aught, quit not the lowliness of penitence;’ and that it was the abasement of penitence that he called ‘our place,’ he shews by the words that follow, saying, for healing [ib. Vulg.] pacifieth great offences.  For what else is the humility of mourning, save the remedy of sin.  Heretics therefore come each from ‘his place,’ in that it is from pride that they are urged to attack Holy Church.


44.  And their froward conduct, moreover, is collected from an interpretation of their names.  For they are named ‘Eliphaz,’ ‘Baldad,’ ‘Sophar;’ and as we have said above Eliphaz is, by interpretation, rendered, ‘contempt of God.’  For if they did not condemn God, they would never entertain wrong notions concerning Him.  And Baldad is rendered ‘oldness alone.’  For while they shrink from being fairly defeated, and seek to be victorious with froward purpose, they pay no regard to the conversation of the new life, and all that they give heed to is ‘of oldness alone.’  And Sophar, ‘dissipating prospect;’ for they that are set in Holy Church humbly contemplate with true faith the mysteries of their Redeemer, but when heretics come to them with false statements, they ‘dissipate the prospect,’ in that they turn aside from the aim of right contemplation the minds of those, whom they draw over to themselves.


45.  Now the places from whence they come are described in fitting accordance with the practices of heretics.  For there is a Themanite, and a Suhite, and a Naamathite named.  Now Thema is by interpretation ‘the south;’ Suhi, ‘speaking;’ Naama, ‘come1iness.’  But who does not know that the south is a hot wind; so heretics, as they are over ardent to be wise, study to have heated wits beyond what needs.  For sloth goes with the torpor of cold, whilst reversely the restlessness of unrestrained curiosity accords with unabated teeming heat, and so because they long to feel the heat of wisdom beyond what they ought, they are said to come from ‘the south.’  Paul busied himself to cool the minds of the faithful to this heat of unrestrained wiseness, when he said, Not to be overwise beyond what he ought to be wise, but to be wise unto sobriety. [Rom. 12, 3. Vulg.]  It is hence that David smites at the valleys of salt, [2 Sam. 8, 13] viz. in that our Redeemer, by the piercing of His severity, extinguishes the foolishness of unrestrained wit in all that entertain wrong notions regarding Him.  And Suhi is rendered ‘talking,’ for they desire to be warm-witted, not that they may live well, but that they may talk high; thus they are said to come from Thema and Suhi, i.e. from ‘heat,’ and ‘talkativeness,’ for herein, viz. that they shew themselves as studious of Scripture, they teem with words of talkativeness, but not with bowels of love.  And Naama is interpreted ‘comeliness,’ for because they aim not to be, but to appear learned, by words of deep learning they put on the guise of well living, and by their teeming wit in talk, exhibit in themselves a form of  ‘comeliness,’ that by the comeliness of the lips they may more easily recommend evil counsels, in proportion as they commonly hide from our senses the foulness of their lives.  But neither are the very names of the places set down in undistinguished order in the relation.  For Thema is set first, then Suhi, and next Naama in that first an excessive warmth of wit sets them on fire, next smartness of speech lifts them up, and then, finally, dissimulation presents them comely to the eyes of men. 

For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him and to comfort him.




46.  Heretics ‘make an appointment together,’ when they hold in common certain false opinions contrary to the Church, and in the points wherein they are at variance with the truth agree together in falsehood.  But all they that give us instruction concerning eternity, what else are they doing, save amid the tribulations of our pilgrimage administering consolation to us?  And forasmuch as heretics desire to impart to Holy Church their own opinions, they come to her as though to comfort her.  Nor is it strange if they who set forth a figure of enemies, are called friends, when it is said to the very traitor, Friend, wherefore art thou come? [Mat. 26, 50] and the rich man that is consumed in the fire of hell, is called son by Abraham. [Luke 16, 25]  For though the wicked refuse to be amended by us, yet it is meet that we style them friends, not of their wickedness, but by virtue of our own lovingkindness. 

Ver. 12.  And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept.




47.  All heretics, in contemplating the deeds of Holy Church, lift up their eyes, in that they are themselves down below, and when they look at her works, the objects, which they are gazing at, are set high above them.  Yet they do not know her in her sorrow, for she herself covets to ‘receive evil things’ here, that so being purified she may attain to the reward of an eternal recompence, and for the most part she dreads prosperity, and joys in the hard lessons of her training.  Therefore heretics, who aim at present things as something great, know her not amidst her wounds.  For that, which they see in her, they recognise not in the reading of their own hearts.  While she then is gaining ground even by her adversities, they themselves stick fast in their stupefaction, because they know not by experiment the things they see.  And they rent everyone his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.




48.  Like as we take the garments of the Church for the whole number of the faithful; (and it is hence that the Prophet saith, Thou shalt clothe thee with them all as with an ornament; [Is. 49, 18]) so the garments of heretics are all they that attaching themselves with one accord to them are implicated in their errors.  But heretics have this point proper to themselves, that they cannot remain stationary for long in that stage wherein they leave the Church, but they are day by day precipitated into further extremes, and by hatching worse opinions they split into manifold divisions, and are in most cases parted the wider from one another by their contention and disorderment.  Thus because all those, whom they attach to their ill faith [perfidiae], are further torn by them in endless splitting, it may well be said that the friends who come rend their garments [rumpunt], but when the garments are rent, the body is shewn through; for it oftentimes happens, that when the followers are rent and torn, the wickedness of their imaginings is disc1osed, for discord to lay open the artifices, which their great guilt in agreeing together had heretofore kept close. 


49.  But now, they ‘sprinkle dust upon their heads to heaven.’  What is represented by dust, saving earthly senses; what by the head, saving that which is our leading principle, viz. the mind?  What is set forth by ‘heaven,’ but the law of heavenly revelation?  So, to ‘sprinkle dust upon the head to heaven,’ is to corrupt the mind with an earthly perception, and to put earthly senses upon heavenly words.  Now they generally canvas the words of God more than they take them in, and for this reason they sprinkle dust upon their heads, forasmuch as they strain themselves in the precepts of God, following an earthly sense, beyond the powers of their mind.

Ver. 13.  So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights.




50.  In the day we make out the objects that we look at, but in the night, either from the blindness we discern nothing, or from the uncertainty we are bewildered.  Accordingly by ‘day’ we have ‘understanding’ represented, and by ‘night,’ ‘ignorance.’  And by the number seven the sum of completeness is expressed; and hence in seven days, and no more, the whole of this transitory period is accomplished.  How then is it that the friends of blessed Job are said to sit with him seven days and seven nights, saving that heretics, whether in those things wherein they admit the true light, or in those wherein they are under the darkness of ignorance, as it were feign to let themselves down to Holy Church in her weakness, while under colour of caresses, they are preparing their snares to catch her withal?  and though, whether in the things which they do understand, or in those which they are unable to understand, through the swelling of a bloated self-elation, they account themselves great in their own eyes, yet sometimes in semblance they bend to Holy Church, and while they make soft their words, they insinuate their venom, ‘To sit upon the earth,’ then, is to exhibit somewhat of the figure of humility, that whilst their exterior appears humble, they may recommend the proud doctrines which they teach.


51.  But it is possible that by ‘the earth’ may be also represented the Incarnation of our Mediator.  And hence it is said to Israel, An altar of earth shalt thou then make unto Me. [Ex. 20, 24]  For to make an altar of earth for the Lord is to trust in the Incarnation of our Mediator.  For then our gift is received by God, when our humility has placed upon His Altar, i.e. upon the belief of our Lord's Incarnation, all the works that it performs.  Thus we place our offered gift upon an altar of earth, if our actions be firmly based upon faith in the Lord's Incarnation.  But there are some heretics, who do not deny that the Incarnation of the Mediator took place, but either think otherwise concerning His Divinity than is true, or in the character of the Incarnation itself are at variance with us.  They then that with us declare the true Incarnation of our Redeemer, as it were sit alike with Job upon the earth, and they are described as sitting upon the ground seven days and seven nights; forasmuch as whether in this very thing that they understand somewhat of the fulness of truth, or in this that they are thoroughly blinded by the darkness of their foolish minds, they cannot yet deny the mystery of the Incarnation.  And so to sit upon the earth with blessed Job, is to believe in the true Flesh of our Redeemer in unison with Holy Church.


52.  Now sometimes heretics wreak their animosity against us in punishments as well, sometimes they pursue us with words only.  Sometimes they provoke us when quiet, but  sometimes, seeing us hold our peace, they remain quiet, and they are friendly to the dumb, but hostile to them that open their lips, and hence forasmuch as blessed Job had not as yet said aught to them in converse, it is rightly added, And none spake a word unto him.  For we find our adversaries hold their peace, so long as we forbear by preaching to beget sons of the true faith.  But if we begin to speak aright, we immediately feel the weight of their reviling by their reply; forthwith they start into hostility, and burst out into a voice of bitterness against us, doubtless because they fear lest the hearts, which the weight of folly presses down beneath, should be drawn up on high by the voice of him that speaketh aright.  Therefore, as we have said, because our enemies love us when mute, and hate us when we speak, it is rightly said in the case of Job keeping silence,

And none spake a word unto him.




53.  Yet sometimes when they see the hearts of believers vacant through sloth, they do not cease to scatter the seeds of error by speech.  But when they see the minds of the good busied on high, seeking the way back to their country, earnestly sorrowing over the toils of this place of exile, they rein in their tongues with anxious heed; in that they see that whilst they assail those sorrowing hearts with fruitless words, they are speedily made to hold their peace.  And hence whereas it is well said, none spake a word unto him, the cause of their silence is immediately brought in by implication, when it is said,

For they saw that his grief was very great.




54.  For when our hearts are pierced with violent grief from the love of God, the adversary fears to speak frowardly at random, for he sees that by provoking the fixed mind, he not only has no power to draw it to untoward ways, but that by its being stirred up, he may chance to lose even those whom he held bound.


55.  Perhaps it may influence some that we have so made out these particulars, that what was well done by the friends should denote that which was to be ill done by heretics.  Yet in this way it very often happens that a circumstance is virtue in the historical fact, evil in its meaning and import, just as an action is sometimes in the doing ground of condemnation, but in the writing, a prophecy of merit, which we shall the sooner shew, if we shall bring forward one testimony of Holy Writ to prove both points.  For who, that hears of it, not only among believers but of unbelievers themselves also, does not utterly loathe this, that David walking upon his solar lusteth after Beershebah the wife of Uriah?  Yet when he returns back from the battle, he bids him go home to wash his feet.  Whereupon he answered at once, The Ark of the Lord abideth in tents, shall I then take rest in my house? [2 Sam. 11, 11]  David received him to his own board, and delivers to him letters, through which he must die.  But of whom does David walking upon his solar bear a figure, saving of Him, concerning Whom it is written, He hath set his tabernacle in the sun? [Ps. 19, 4. Vulg.]  And what else is it to draw Beersheba to himself, but to join to Himself by a spiritual meaning the Law of the formal letter, which was united to a carnal people?  For Beersheba is rendered ‘the seventh well,’ assuredly, in that through the knowledge of the Law, with spiritual grace infused, perfect wisdom is ministered unto us.  And whom does Uriah denote, but the Jewish people, whose name is rendered by interpretation, ‘My light from God?’  Now forasmuch as the Jewish people is raised high by receiving the knowledge of the Law, it as it were glories ‘in the light of God.’  But David took from this Uriah his wife, and united her to himself, surely in that the strong-handed One, which is the rendering of ‘David,’ our Redeemer, shewed Himself in the flesh, whilst He made known that the Law spake in a spiritual sense concerning Himself, Hereby, that it was held by them after the letter, He proved it to be alienated from the Jewish people, and joined it to Himself, in that He declared Himself to be proclaimed by it.  Yet David bids Uriah ‘go home to wash his feet,’ in that when the Lord came Incarnate, He bade the Jewish people turn back to the home of the conscience, and wipe off with their tears the defilements of their doings, that it should understand the precepts of the Law in a spiritual sense, and finding the fount of Baptism after the grievous hardness of the commandments, have recourse to water after toil.  But Uriah, who recalled to mind that the ark of the Lord was under tents, answered, that he could not enter into his house.  As if the Jewish people said, I view the precepts of God in carnal sacrifices, and I need not to go back to the conscience in following a spiritual meaning.  For he, as it were, declares ‘the ark of the Lord to be under tents,’ who views the precepts of God as designed for no other end than to shew forth a service of carnal sacrifice.  Yet when he would not return home, David even bids him to his table, in that though the Jewish people disdain to return home into the conscience, yet the Redeemer at His coming avouches the commandments to be spiritual, saying, For had ye believed Moses, ye would  [Vulg. would perchance] have believed Me: for he wrote of Me. [John 5, 46]  And thus the Jewish people holds that Law, which tells of His Divinity, whereunto that people deigns not to give credence.  And hence Uriah is sent to Joab with letters, according to which he is to be put to death, in that the Jewish people bears itself the Law, by whose convicting testimony it is to die.  For whereas holding fast the commandments of the Law it strives hard to fulfil them, clearly it does itself deliver the judgment whereupon it is condemned.  What, then, in respect of the fact, is more foul than David?  What can be named purer than Uriah?  What again in respect of the mystery can be discovered holier than David, what more faithless than Uriah?  Since the one by guiltiness of life prophetically betokens innocency, and the other by innocency of life prophetically represents guilt.  Wherefore it is with no inaptitude that by the things that are well done by the friends of Job we have represented to us those to be done amiss by heretics, in that it is the excellency of Holy Writ so to relate the past as to set forth the future; in such wise to vindicate the case in the fact, that it is against it in the mystery; so to condemn the things done, that they are commended to us as fit to be done in the way of mystery. 




56.  So then as we have completed the allegorical mysteries, unravelling them piece by piece, let us now proceed to follow out the sense of the moral truth, hastily touching thereupon, for the mind hastens forward to make out the parts of greater difficulty, and if it is for long wrapped up in the plain parts, it is hindered from knocking as it were fit at those which are closed.  Oftentimes our old enemy, after he has brought down upon our mind the conflict of temptation, retires for a time from his own contest, not to put an end to his wickedness, but that upon those hearts, which he has rendered secure by a respite, returning of a sudden, he may make his inroad the more easily and unexpectedly.  It is hence that he returns again to try the blessed man, and demands pains on the head of him, whom nevertheless the Supreme Mercy while keeping fast yields up to him, saying,

Ver. 6.  Behold, he is in thine hand: but save his life.




57.  For He so forsakes us that He guards us, and so guards us that by the permitted case of temptation, He shews us our state of weakness.  And he immediately went forth from before the face of the Lord, and by smiting him whom He had thus gotten he wounded him from the sole of his foot even to his crown.  Thus, viz. in that when he receives permission, beginning with the least, and reaching even to the greater points, he as it were rends and pierces all the body of the mind [corpus mentis] with the temptations which he brings upon it, yet he does not attain to the smiting of the soul [animam], in that deep at the bottom of all the thoughts of the heart, the interior purpose of our secret resolution holds out, in the midst of the very wounds of gratification which it receives, so that although the enjoyment may eat into the mind, yet it does not so bend the set intent of holy uprightness as to bring it to the very softness of consenting.  Yet it is our duty to cleanse the mere wounds of enjoyment themselves by the sharp treatment of penance, and if aught that is dissolute springs up in the heart to refine it with the chastening hand of rigorous severity.  And hence it is rightly added immediately,

Ver. 8.  And he took him a potsherd to scrape the humour withal.




58.  For what do we understand by the ‘potsherd,’ saving forcibleness of severity, and what by the ‘humour,’ save laxity of unlawful imaginations?  And thus we are smitten, and ‘scrape off the humour with a potsherd,’ when after the defilements of unlawful thoughts, we cleanse ourselves by a sharp judgment.  By the potsherd too we may understand the frailness of mortality.  And then to ‘scrape the humour with a potsherd,’ is to ponder on the course and frailty of our mortal state, and to wipe off the rottenness of a wretched self-gratification.  For when a man bethinks himself how soon the flesh returns to dust, he readily gets the better of that which originating in the flesh foully assails him in the interior.  So, when bad thoughts arising from temptation flow into the mind, it is as if humour kept running from a wound.  But the humour is soon cleansed away, if the frailty of our nature be taken up in the thought, like a potsherd in the hand.


59.  For neither are these suggestions to be lightly esteemed, which though they may not draw us on so far as to the act, yet work in the mind in an unlawful way.  It is hence that our Redeemer was come, as it were, ‘to scrape the humour from our wounds,’ when He said, Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery.  But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. [Matt. 5, 27. 28.]  ‘The humour,’ therefore, ‘is wiped off,’ when sin is not only severed from the deed, but also from the thought.  It is hence that Jerubbaal saw the Angel when he was winnowing corn from the chaff, at whose bidding he forthwith dressed a kid and set it upon a rock, and poured over it the broth of the flesh, which the Angel touched with a rod, and thereupon fire coming out of the rock consumed it. [Judg. 6, 11. &c.]  For what else is it to beat corn with a rod, but to separate the grains of virtues from the chaff of vices, with an upright judgment?  But to those that are thus employed the Angel presents himself, in that the Lord is more ready to communicate interior truths in proportion as men are more earnest in ridding themselves of external things.  And he orders a kid to be killed, i.e.  every appetite of the flesh to be sacrificed, and the flesh to be set upon a rock, and the broth thereof to be poured upon it.  Whom else does the ‘rock’ represent, saving Him, of Whom it is said by Paul, And that rock was Christ? [1 Cor. 10, 4] We ‘set flesh then upon the rock,’ when in imitation of Christ we crucify our body.  He too pours the juice of the flesh over it, who, in following the conversation of Christ, empties himself even of the mere thoughts of the flesh themselves.  For ‘the broth’ of the dissolved flesh is in a manner ‘poured upon the rock,’ when the mind is emptied of the flow of carnal thoughts too.  Yet the Angel directly touches it with a rod, in that the might of God's succour never leaves our striving forsaken.  And fire issues from the rock, and consumes the broth and the flesh, in that the Spirit, breathed upon us by the Redeemer, lights up the heart with so fierce a flame of compunction, that it consumes every thing in it that is unlawful either in deed or in thought.  And therefore it is the same thing here ‘to scrape the humour with a potsherd,’ that it is there to ‘pour the broth upon the rock.’  For the perfect mind is ever eagerly on the watch, not only that it may refuse to do bad acts, but that it may even wipe off all that is become foul and soft in it, in the workings of imagination.  But it often happens that war springs up from the very victory, so that when the impure thought is vanquished, the mind of the victor is struck by self-elation.  Therefore it follows that the mind must be no otherwise elevated in purity, than that it should be heedfully brought under in humility.  And hence, whereas it was said of the holy man, And he took a potsherd, and scraped the humour withal, it is forthwith fitly added,

And he sat down upon a dunghill.




60.  For ‘to sit down upon a dunghill’ is for a man to entertain mean and abject notions of himself.  For us to ‘sit upon a dunghill,’ is to carry back the eye of the mind, in a spirit of repentance, to those things which we have unlawfully committed, that when we see the dung of our sins before our eyes, we may bend low all that rises up in the mind of pride.  He sits upon a dunghill, who regards his own weakness with earnest attention, and never lifts himself up for those good qualities, which he has received through grace.  Did not Abraham sit by himself upon a dunghill, when he said, Behold, now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes? [Gen. 18, 27]  For it is plain to see in what place he had set himself, who, at the very moment that he was speaking with God, reckoned himself to be ‘dust and ashes.’  If he then thus despises himself who is raised to the honour of converse with the Deity even, we should consider with earnest thoughts of heart with what woes they are destined to be stricken, who, while they never advance a step towards the highest things, are yet lifted up on the score of the least and lowest attainments.  For there are some, who, when they do but little things, think great things of themselves.  They lift their minds on high, and account themselves to excel other men in the deserts of virtue.  For surely, these inwardly quit the dunghill of humility within themselves, and scale the heights of pride; herein following the steps of him, the first that elevated himself in his own eyes, and in elevating brought himself to the ground, following the steps of him, who was not content with that dignity of a created being, which he had received, saying, I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. [Is. 14, 13]  And it is hence that she, which is united to him by an evil alliance, even Babylon, i.e. ‘the confused multitude of sinners,’ says, I am, and none else beside me, I shall not sit as a widow. [Is. 47, 8]  Whosoever then swells within him, has set himself on high by himself.  Yet doth he sink himself so much the deeper below, in proportion as he scorns to think the lowest things of himself according to the truth.  There are some too that labour not to do aught that is virtuous, yet when they see others commit sin, they fancy themselves righteous by comparison with them.  For all hearts are not wounded by the same or a similar offence.  For this one is entrapped by pride, while that perchance is overthrown by anger, and avarice is the sting of one, while luxury fires another.  And it very often chances that he, who is brought down by pride, sees how another is inflamed with anger; and because anger does not speedily influence himself, he now reckons that he is better than his passionate neighbour, and is as it were lifted up on the score of his righteousness in his own eyes, in that he forgets to take account of the fault, by which he is more grievously enchained.  And it very often happens that he who is mangled by avarice, beholds another plunged in the whirlpool of luxury, and because he sees himself to be a stranger to carnal pollution, he never heeds by what defilements of the spiritual life he is himself inwardly polluted; and while he considers well the evil in another, which he is himself without, he forgets to take account in his own case of that which he has; and so it is brought to pass, that when the mind to be pronounced upon goes off to the cases of other men, it is deprived of the light of its own judgment, and so much the more cruelly vaunts itself against others' failings, in proportion as it is from negligence in ignorance of its own.


61.  But, on the other hand, they that really desire to rise to the heights of virtue, whenever they hear of the faults of others, immediately recall the mind to their own; and the more they really bewail these last, so much the more rightly do they pronounce judgment on those others.  Therefore, forasmuch as every elect person restrains himself in the consideration of his own frailty, it may be well said that the holy man in his sorrow sits down upon a dunghill.  For he that really humbles himself as he goes on his way, marks with the eye of continued observation all the filth of sin wherewith he is beset.  But we must know that it is in prosperity that the mind is oftenest touched with urgent temptations, yet that it sometimes happens that we at the same time undergo crosses without, and are wearied with the urgency of temptation within, so that both the scourge tortures the flesh, and yet suggestion of the flesh pours in upon the mind.  And hence it is well, that after the many wounds that blessed Job received, we have yet further the words of his illadvising wife subjoined also, who says,

Ver. 9.  Dost thou still retain thine integrity?  Curse God, and die.




62.  For the illadvising wife is the carnal thought goading the mind, since it often happens, as has been said above, that we are both harrassed with strokes without, and wearied with carnal promptings within.  For it is hence that Jeremiah bewails, saying, Abroad the sword bereaveth; at home there is as death. [Lam. 1, 20]  Since ‘the sword bereaveth,’ when vengeance outwardly smites and pierces us, and ‘at home there is as death,’ in that indeed he both undergoes the lash, and yet the conscience is not clear of the stains of temptation within.  Hence David says, Let them be as chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the Lord persecute them. [Ps. 35, 5]  For he that is caught by the blast of temptation in the heart, is lifted up like dust before the face of the wind; and when in the midst of these strokes the rigour of God smites them, what else is it, but the Angel of the Lord that persecutes them?


63.  But these trials are carried on in the case of the reprobate in one way, and of the Elect in another.  The hearts of the first sort are so tempted that they yield consent, and those of the last undergo temptations indeed, but offer resistance.  The mind of the one is taken captive with a feeling of delight, and if at the moment that which is prompted amiss is displeasing, yet afterwards by deliberation it gives pleasure.  But these so receive the darts of temptation, that they weary themselves in unceasing resistance, and if at any time the mind under temptation is hurried away to entertain a feeling of delight, yet they quickly blush at the very circumstance of their delight stealing upon them, and blame with unsparing censure all that they detect springing up in themselves of a carnal nature.  Hence it is rightly added immediately,

Ver. 10.  Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.  What?  shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?




64.  For it is meet that the holy mind restrain by spiritual correction whatever of a carnal nature within it utters rebellious muttering, that the flesh whether by speaking severe things may not draw it into impatience, nor yet by speaking smooth ones melt it to the looseness of lust.  Therefore let manly censure, reproving the dictates of unlawful imaginations, hold hard the dissolute softness of what is base in us, by saying, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh.  And, on the other hand, let the consideration of the gifts repress the discontent of bitter thought, saying, Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?  And whoever desires to get the mastery of his vices, and goes forward to the eternal heights of inward recompense [retributionis] with the steps of a true purpose, the more he sees himself to be on every hand beset with the war of the vices, the more resolutely he arrays himself with the armour of the virtues, and fears the darts the less, in proportion as he defends his breast bravely against their assault.


65.  Yet it very often happens, that whilst we are striving to stay ourselves in this fight of temptation by exalted virtues, certain vices cloak themselves to our eyes under the garb of virtues, and come to us as it were with a smooth face, but how adverse to us they are we perceive upon examination.  And hence the friends of blessed Job as it were come together for the purpose of giving comfort, but they burst out into reviling, in that vices that plot our ruin assume the look of virtues, but strike us with hostile assault.  For often immoderate anger desires to appear justice, and often dissolute remissness, mercy; often fear without precaution would seem humility, often unbridled pride, liberty.  Thus the friends come to give consolation, but fall off into words of reproach, in that vices, cloaked under the guise of virtues, set out indeed with a smooth outside, but confound us by a bitter hostility.  And it is rightly said,

Ver. 11.  For they had made an appointment together to come to mourn with him and to comfort him.




66.  For vices make an appointment together under the cloak of virtues; in that there are certain ones, which are banded together against us by a kind of agreement, such as pride and anger, remissness and fear.  For anger is neighbour to pride, and remissness to cowardice.  Those then come together by agreement, which are allied to one another in opposition to us, by a kind of kinship in iniquity; but if we acknowledge the toilsomeness of our captivity, if we grieve in our inmost soul from love of our eternal home, the sins that steal upon the inopportunely joyful, will not be able to prevail against the opportunely sad.  Hence it is well added,

Ver. 12.  And when they lifted up their eyes afar off, and knew him not, they lifted up their voice, and wept.




67.  For the vices do not know us in our afflictions, in that so soon as they have knocked at the dejected heart, being reproved they start back, and they, which as it were knew us in our joy, because they made their way in, cannot know us in our sadness, in that they break their edge on our very rigidity itself.  But our old enemy, the more he sees that he is himself caught out in them, and that with a good courage, cloaks them with so much the deeper disguise under the image of virtues; and hence it is added, They lifted up their voice, and wept; and they rent every one his mantle, and sprinkled dust upon their heads toward heaven.

Ver. 18.  So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights.




68.  For by the weeping pity is betokened, discretion by the cutting of the garments, the affecting [al. ‘effecting’] of good works by the dust upon the head, humility by the sitting.  For sometimes the enemy in plotting against us feigns somewhat that is full of pity, that he may bring us down to an end of cruelty.  As is the case, when he prevents a fault being corrected by chastisement, that that, which is not suppressed in this life, may be stricken with the fire of hell.  Sometimes he presents the form of discretion to the eyes, and draws us on to snares of indiscretion, which happens, when at his instigation we as it were from prudence allow ourselves too much nourishment on account of our weakness, while we are imprudently raising against ourselves assaults of the flesh.  Sometimes he counterfeits the affecting of good works, yet hereby entails upon us restlessness in labours, as it happens, when a man cannot remain quiet, and, as it were, fears to be judged for idleness.  Sometimes he exhibits the form of humility, that he may steal away our affecting of the useful, as is the case when he declares to some that they are weaker and more useless than indeed they are, that whereas they look upon themselves as too unworthy, they may fear to administer the things wherein they might be able to benefit their neighbours.


69.  But these vices which the old enemy hides under the semblance of virtues, are very minutely examined by the hand of compunction.  For he that really grieves within, resolutely foredetermines what things are to be done outwardly, and what are not.  For if the virtue of compunction moves us in our inward parts, all the clamouring of evil dictates is made mute; and hence it follows.

And none spake a word unto him; for they saw that his grief was very great.




70.  For if the heart feels true sorrow, the vices have no tongue against it.  And when the life of uprightness is sought with an entire aim, the fruitless prompting of evil is closed up.  But oftentimes if we brace ourselves with strong energy against the incitements of evil habits, we turn even those very evil habits to the account of virtue.  For some are possessed by anger, but while they submit this to reason, they convert it into service rendered to holy zeal.  Some are lifted up by pride.  But whilst they bow down the mind to the fear of God, they change this into the free tone of unrestrained authority in defence of justice.  Strength of the flesh is a snare to some; but whilst they bring under the body by practising works of mercy, from the same quarter, whence they were exposed to the goading of wickedness, they purchase the gains of pitifulness.  And hence it is well that this blessed Job, after a multitude of conflicts, sacrifices a victim for his friends.  For those whom he has for long borne as enemies by their strife, he one day makes fellow-countrymen by his sacrifice, in that whilst we turn all evil thoughts into virtues, bringing them into subjection, by the offering of the intention, we as it were change the hostile aims of temptation into friendly dispositions.


Let it suffice for us to have gone through these things in three volumes in a threefold method.  For in the very beginning of this work we set firm the root of the tongue, as a provision against the bulk of the tree that should spring up, that we might afterwards produce the boughs of exposition according as the several places require.