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The last twelve verses of the thirty-sixth chapter are expounded, with the whole of the thirty-seventh, and their meanings ingeniously examined, for the sake of establishing a system of Christian doctrine, and ethics.




1. Whoever is endeavouring to gain knowledge from the mighty words of the arrogant, ought carefully to secure himself from imitating their pride of learning, lest, with the words of virtue, he should acquire the vices of their habits, and in attaining to skill in speaking, should wound himself through unskilfulness in living. For when we hear these persons speaking powerful words, and yet observe them proud of their powerful words, we enter, as it were, the garden of learning, and pluck roses from thorns. We need, therefore, careful discrimination, to cull that which is sweet scented, and to avoid that which pricks us: lest the incautious hand of the gatherer should be wounded with the thorn of their habits, if the flower of their words happens to be carelessly gathered. Eliu, therefore, being both learned and arrogant, produces at one while something to give a sweet scent, and at another, something to wound. We must then so gather what is fragrant from his teaching, as yet to carefully guard against the wounds of his pride. He introduced, indeed, many remarks above with a moral object, and yet in the words which follow he raised himself solely to the mysteries of prophecy. For he abandons the low ground of morality, and rises to the heights of prophecy.


2. Nor is it to be wondered at, that a haughty man could be filled with the prophetic spirit, when Saul also was in the number of the prophets. [1 Sam. 10, 11] But why do we say this of Saul, when we know that even a she ass learned rational words from the sight of an Angel? [Num. 22, 28; 2 Pet. 2, 16] But as the irrational animal uttered rational words, and yet went not so far as to take a rational nature in exchange; thus does an unworthy person often receive holy words by the spirit of prophecy, but yet does not attain to deserve the glory of sanctity; so as to rise above himself in his words, and listlessly to sink beneath himself in his life. Whence Eliu, though not now humble, beholds the humble advent of our Redeemer: and announces, in prophecy, Him, Whom he assails with his haughty manners, saying,

Ver. 22. Behold, God is lofty in His strength, and none is like Him among lawgivers.




3. As if he said plainly, He, Who will appear humble in weakness, remains lofty in strength, Paul also witnessing this, who says, For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. [2 Cor. 13, 4] Of Whom it is rightly subjoined, None is like Him among lawgivers. Moses was a lawgiver, Joshua a lawgiver, the Prophets lawgivers also. We can term all lawgivers, who, we know, admonish the people rightly from the Law. But there is no one like to this Mediator among lawgivers. For they, having been called by grace from their sins, return to innocence, and, from what they have experienced in themselves, bring back others by their preaching. But our Redeemer is Man without sin, a Son without adoption, and has never committed any thing which He has disapproved. And He so speaks to the world by His Manhood, as yet to be still the Lord of the same world before all ages by His Godhead. Hence certain persons believed that the Mediator between God and men was like the lawgivers. For when He asked, Whom do men say that the Son of Man is, the disciples answered and said, Some say that He is John the Baptist, others Elias, others Jeremias, or one of the Prophets. [Matt.16, 13. 14.] But He doubtless disclosed to Peter how lofty He was in strength; for looking on Him truly, he separated Him from an equality with lawgivers, saying, Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God. [ib. 16] Whence the Bride rightly says of Him in the Song of Songs, By night on my bed I sought Him Whom my soul loveth, I sought Him, and I found Him not. [Cant. 3, 1] And a little after, The watchmen who guard the city found me. [ib. 3] Of Whom she says again, They wounded me, they took my cloak. [ib. 5, 7] And she asks them again, saying, Saw ye Him Whom my soul loveth? When I had passed by them but a little, I found Him Whom my soul loveth. [ib. 3, 4]


4. For the Beloved is sought for by night on the bed; because He is longed for in tribulation of spirit, in the secret chambers of the heart. Whom yet the Bride, though seeking, finds not; because every Elect soul is already kindled with the torches of His love, but the sight of Him, which is sought for, is still denied, that the longing of the lover may increase; and water is, as it were, withdrawn in thirst, that the heat of the thirst may be augmented, and that the longer a person thirsts, and longs for it, the more eagerly may he seize it at last when he has found it. But the watchers find her when seeking for Him; and wound her, and take away her cloak: because when anxious teachers meet with any soul, already seeking for a sight of its Redeemer, they wound it, by the word of preaching, with the darts of heavenly love: and if it has any covering of its former conversation, they take it away; in order that the more it is stripped of the burden of this world, the more quickly may He, Who is sought for, be found by her. But it is well added, When I had passed by them but a little, I found Him Whom my soul loveth? because the mind, eager for the sight of Him, would not find Him, Who is above man, unless it were to go beyond the estimate of the Prophets, the loftiness of the Patriarchs, and the standard of all men. To pass by the watchers, then, is to postpone, in comparison of Him, those even whom the soul admires. And He, Who was sought for, is then beheld, if He is believed to be a Man, but yet above the measures of men. Whence it is now well said, None is like Him among lawgivers. But He in truth, appearing to our sight through the infirmity of the flesh, as He rejects some, and calls others, has displayed marvellous judgments, which can be thought upon, and yet not be comprehended by us. For He says, For judgment have I come into this world, that they which see not, might see, and that they which see might be made blind. [John 9, 39] And again, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. [Matt. 11, 25] In which judgments the Jews are doubtless rejected, the Gentiles gathered. Which fact in truth we can certainly wonder at, but are not at all able to search into. Whence it is now also well subjoined by Eliu,

Ver. 23. Who will be able to search out His ways? Or who dareth to say to Him, Thou hast wrought iniquity?




5. As if he said; ‘How can He be blamed, Whose doing cannot be searched into? For no one judges properly of that, which he knows not. We ought, therefore, to rest the more silent under His judgments, the more we see that we perceive not the reason of His judgments. Whence it is also well subjoined.

Ver. 24. Remember that thou knowest not His work, of Whom men have sung.




6. In Holy Scripture sometimes Angels, and sometimes persons [‘homines’] of perfect life, are called ‘men.’ [‘viri.’] For that an Angel is sometimes called a man, the Prophet Daniel bears witness, saying, Behold, the man Gabriel. [Dan. 9, 21] And again, that persons of perfect life are called by the name of ‘men,’ Wisdom declares in the Proverbs, saying, Unto you, O men, I call. [Prov. 8, 4] Men then sing of the Lord, when either spirits from above, or perfect teachers, make known to us His power. But yet His work is not known; because doubtless even they who preach Him, venerate His unpenetrated judgments. They, therefore, both know Him, Whom they preach, and yet know not His works: because they know, by grace, Him, by Whom they were made, but yet cannot understand His judgments, which are wrought by Him even above their understanding. For that Almighty God is not clearly seen in His doings the Psalmist bears witness, saying, Who hath made darkness His secret place. [Ps. 18, 11] And again, Thy judgments are a great deep. [Ps. 36, 6] And again, The deep like a garment is His clothing. [Ps. 104, 6] Whence also it is well said by Solomon, As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones grow together in the belly of her that is with child, so thou knowest not the works of God, Who is the Maker of all things. [Eccles. 11, 5]


7. For to state one thing out of many, two little ones come to this light: but to one it is granted to return to redemption by Baptism; the other is taken away before the regenerating water bedews it. And the son of faithful parents is often taken off without faith, while that of unbelievers is renewed by the grant of the Sacrament of faith. But some one may perhaps say, that God knew that he would act wickedly even after Baptism, and that He did not, on that account, bring him to the grace of Baptism. But if this is the case, the sins of some persons are without doubt punished even before they are committed. And who, that thinks rightly, would say this, that Almighty God, Who releases some from the sins they have committed, condemns, in others, these very sins, even when not committed? His judgments are, therefore, hidden; and they ought to be reverenced with an humility, as great as the obscurity by which they cannot be seen. Let him say then, Remember that thou knowest not His work, of Whom men have sung. As if he were to say plainly, The works of Him, of Whom mighty men have spoken, are concealed from the eyes of thy mind; because they surpass the measure of thy knowledge, inasmuch as thou art circumscribed by thy humanity. It follows,

Ver. 25. All men see Him, every one beholdeth afar off.




8. Every man from the fact that he is created rational, ought to conclude from reason that He Who made him is God. And to see Him at this time, is doubtless to behold, through reason, His sovereign power. But when it is said, All men see Him, it is rightly subjoined, Every one beholdeth afar off. For, to behold Him afar off, is to behold Him at present not in Person, but to think of Him as yet, solely from admiration of His works. Even the Elect behold Him here afar off; because they do not as yet discern His brightness with the keenness of inmost vision. For although they are near Him now by love, yet they are separated from Him by the burden of their earthly habitation; and although they cling close to Him by good living, yet they sigh that they are far removed from the sight of His contemplation. And when the reprobate also see Him coming to judgment, they doubtless behold Him afar off, because they behold Him not in the form of His Godhead, but in His Manhood only, in which alone He could even be comprehended. Because, namely, their own evil deeds, being then brought back to their memory, strike against their sight: and while they behold the Manhood of Him, Whose Godhead they see not, they are, in a wonderful manner, far away from the sight of Him Whom they behold. But when it is said, Remember that thou knowest not His work, and it is then subjoined, All men see Him, (and to behold Him, is, as we before said, to infer from reason His all-transcendent essence,) it is a great marvel that we behold God Himself, and yet know not His work. For we cannot doubt of His essence, and yet we remain uncertain of His judgments. That which is highest is plain to us, that which is least is concealed. For His works are surely less than Himself; and yet we behold the Doer, but are in darkness as to His doing: from the very fact, that the reason why any thing is done is uncertain, but Who it is that acts thus uncertainly, is not uncertain. Let him say then, Remember that thou knowest not His work, of Whom men have sung; all men see Him, every one beholdeth afar off. Because we see by reason that He exists, Whose judgments we by no means comprehend. But yet, at present, we behold Him afar off, because we are separated from His strength by the mist of our own infirmity. It follows,

Ver. 26. Behold, God is great, surpassing our knowledge.




9. He had said above, Behold, God is lofty. [ver. 22] He now says again, Behold, God is great. Why is it, that when speaking of God he says, ‘Behold,’ and again repeats, ‘Behold,’ if it be not that we say, ‘Behold’ of that thing, which we point out as present? And since God is every where present, when ‘Behold’ is said of Him, He is said to be present even to those who see Him not. But he well says, that He surpasses our knowledge, Who he had said before was seen by all men. Because, though He is beheld by reason, yet His greatness is not penetrated by any subtlety of our senses. For whatever we know of the brightness of His greatness, is beneath Him; and the more we suspect that we comprehend His power, the more are we driven far away from the knowledge of Him. For though our mind is caught up on high, yet it is transcended by the immensity of His greatness. Of Whom we know as it were something in part, when we feel that we are not able to know Him worthily. It follows,

The number of His years cannot be reckoned.




10. He wished, in some way or another, to speak of eternity, and he called the very length of eternity, ‘years.’ For when we wish to expand the briefness of time, we extend our moments through hours, our hours through days, our days through months, and our months through years. Since then he wished to speak of something very large, but did not find what wider thing to speak of, he multiplied years in God without reckoning their number, saying, The number of His years cannot be reckoned; in order that while he multiplies those things which are long in themselves, human weakness may learn that it cannot measure the length of eternity. Stretch therefore thine eye into eternity, that thou mayest see God, either when He is from the beginning, or how far He extends. And there is no boundary any where above, because He begins not to be; no boundary any where below, because He ceases not to be. All things are bounded together within Him; but He is extended around all things without space, is spread abroad without place. Behold all things which are made, by the very circumscription of their creation, are encircled by a boundary both above and below. For by their own law, because they begin from not being, they are hastening not to be.


11. But some things have marvellously received this, that, though a boundary commences them above, yet no boundary confines them below; and that though they begin to be, yet that they do not cease to be for ever. But their eternity is unlike the highest eternity, because they began to be eternal. When we look at their extremes, we do not comprehend that end of theirs which is altogether wanting; but when we carry our mind back, we behold their commencement. And while we turn our thoughts below and above in them, we do not at all understand how far they extend, but we see from whence they begin. But since God has a kind of length of being through eternity, which neither commences with a beginning, nor is terminated by an end, and which does not admit in itself the from whence, nor until when; let it be said then, The number of His years cannot be reckoned. By the number of His years being mentioned, His Being is shewn to be of long duration. But by its being said to be beyond number, this same Being is pointed out as infinite and incomprehensible. But we have learned, that He is known to the minds of men, when all men see Him; and that we behold and admire His greatness, when the number of His years is considered beyond number; it now remains for us to hear, what are His doings. It follows,

Ver. 27. Who taketh away the stars of rain, and poureth forth showers like whirlpools.




12. There are two kinds of just persons in this life; one, namely, of those who live uprightly, but teach nothing; another, of those who live uprightly, and teach accordingly. As in the face of heaven some stars come forth, which no storms succeed: and others come forth, which water the thirsty earth with great showers. As often then as persons live uprightly in Holy Church, but yet know not how to preach this same uprightness, they are stars indeed, but produced in the dryness of the air: because they can give light to others by their example of good living, but cannot rain by their word of preaching. But when certain persons both live uprightly therein, and distil this uprightness into others by their word of preaching, stars appear, as it were, in heaven, to bring on rain, which are so to enlighten others by the merits of their life, as also to rain with the word of preaching. Did not Moses appear in this heaven, as a star of rain; who, when he shone forth from above, watered also the hearts of sinners with the rain of holy exhortation as the thirsty ground beneath, to make it bring forth grass abundantly? Did not Isaiah appear as a star of rain, who in foreseeing and holding up the light of truth, watered the drought of the unbelieving by announcing the words of prophecy? Were not Jeremiah, and the other Prophets, placed as it were in heaven, like stars of rain, who, when exalted on the high eminence of preaching, while they dared boldly to reprove the depravity of sinners, kept down as it were the dust of human blindness, by watering it with the drops of their words? But since, namely, the judgments of heaven take away from this present life the souls of these persons, enclosed in this corruptible flesh, the stars of rain are withdrawn as it were from the face of heaven. And the stars return into their hidden places, when the souls of the Saints, having completed their courses, are laid up in the treasuries of the Inner Disposal.


13. But since the earth would be dried up, if the streams of rain from above were to cease entirely, when the stars were withdrawn, it is rightly said, Who taketh away the stars of rain, and poureth forth the showers like whirlpools. For, when the Lord had taken away the Prophets, He sent the Apostles in their place; to rain like whirlpools, after the external preaching of the Law had ceased, when the old fathers had been withdrawn. He conceals therefore the stars of rain, and pours out showers like whirlpools, because after He withdrew the preachers of the Law to His inmost and secret mansions, a more exuberant power of preaching poured forth, by the words of those who came after.


14. By stars of rain can be designated also the holy Apostles, of whom it is said by Jeremiah to rejected Judaea, The stars of rain have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain. [Jer. 3, 3] The Lord, therefore, has withdrawn the stars of rain, and has poured forth showers like whirlpools; because, when He took away from Judaea the Apostles who were preaching, He watered the world with the doctrine of new grace. Both of which things can be understood, not improperly, to have been done in the Church. For when He withdrew the souls of the Apostles to the secret recesses of the regions above, on the dissolution of their bodies, He hid, as it were, from the face of heaven the stars of rain. But, when the stars of rain had been taken away, He gave showers like whirlpools; for, when the Apostles had been withdrawn to the regions above, He disclosed, in more abundant profusion, by the tongues of subsequent expositors, the streams of Divine knowledge which had been long concealed. For that which they stated briefly, they manifoldly increased by expounding it. Whence this very preaching of expositors is not improperly compared to whirlpools, since, while they collect the sayings of many who precede them, they spread themselves out to a greater depth in what they accumulate. For whilst they unite testimonies to testimonies, they make, as it were, whirlpools from drops. And whilst the Gentile world is daily taught by their words, because the mind of sinners receives heavenly wisdom, the water standing on the earth exhibits, as it were, whirlpools. But let not these expositors prefer themselves in any way to the same Apostles in wisdom, when they speak at greater length in exposition. For they ought constantly to remember through whom they have received the discoveries of this very wisdom. Whence it is also fitly subjoined,

Ver. 28. Which flow from the clouds.




15. For these whirlpools do indeed flow from the clouds; because, if the power of understanding did not begin with the holy Apostles, it would not flow more fully through the mouths of teachers. For by ‘clouds’ in Holy Scripture, sometimes fickle men, sometimes Prophets, sometimes Apostles, are designated. By clouds the fickleness of the human mind is expressed; as Solomon says, He that observeth the wind, doth not sow, and he that regardeth the clouds, doth never reap. [Eccles. 11, 4] He doubtless calls the unclean spirit, ‘wind,’ but men who are subjected to him, ‘clouds;’ whom he impels backwards and forward, hither and thither, as often as his temptations alternate in their hearts from the blasts of suggestions. He, therefore, who observes the wind, does not sow; since he who dreads coming temptations, does not direct his heart to good works. And he who regards the clouds, does not reap, since he who trembles from the dread of human fickleness, deprives himself of the recompense of an eternal reward. By ‘clouds’ are Prophets set forth, as is said by the Psalmist; Dark water in the clouds of the air; [Ps. 18, 11] that is, hidden wisdom in the Prophets. By ‘clouds’ also Apostles are designated, as is said by Isaiah, I will command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. [Is. 5, 6] They are ‘stars’ then, because they shine with the merits of their life; they are ‘clouds,’ because they water the parched ground of our heart with the streams of heavenly knowledge. For if they were not ‘clouds,’ the Prophet would not have said, when looking on them, Who are these that fly as clouds? [Is. 60, 8] The whirlpools of showers pour then from the clouds, because the profound instructions of those that follow derived the origin of their wisdom from the holy Apostles. Of which clouds it is still further fitly subjoined,

Which cover all things above.




16. When the clouds cover the air above, if we lift up our eyes to the heaven, we behold not the heaven, but them; nor does our sight penetrate the ethereal regions, because its own infirmity conceals them from it. And when the sun shines forth from the heaven, it first feeds itself on the air which is poured between, that so it may afterwards contemplate the rays of the sun in the sky. Because, therefore, we are carnal men, when we endeavour to attain to heavenly things, we raise, as it were, our eyes to heaven, and direct our gaze thither; for oppressed by our connection with bodily things, we wish to teach it spiritual things. But because our intellect is not permitted to pass over to Divine objects, unless it be first fashioned by the examples of preceding Saints, our eye, as it were, now looks up to heaven, but beholds clouds; because it seeks to comprehend those things which are of God, but is barely able to admire those things which have been given to men. Whence it is said in another place, Thou enlightenest wonderfully from the eternal mountains. [fwtizeiV su qaumastwV apo orewn aiwniwn. Vers. LXX. Ps. 76, 4] For he, who cannot behold the rising sun, looks at the mountains tinged with his rays, and discovers that the sun has risen. God enlightens us, therefore, from the eternal mountains, because He illuminates us with the ray of His brightness, by our admiring the doings of former fathers. Behold we are kindled with zeal of devotion and love for the Lord; but we are the better moulded in this devotion and love by our contemplation of these clouds. For what was more devoted than Peter? What more full of love than John? The one through his devotion feared not to tread the watery ridges of the sea. [Matt. 14, 28. 29.] The other rested through love on the very breast of our Maker: and he who had come to the refreshment of a bodily feast, derived spiritual food from the bosom of the Redeemer. [John 13, 23-25]


17. But because we have said, that Prophets also are signified by ‘clouds,’ it is necessary for us still to bring forward the examples of the ancient fathers. Behold when we are wishing to submit, through obedience, to heavenly precepts, we are assisted by considering the footsteps of the old fathers. For what was more obedient than Abraham, who at one word from the Lord, forsakes his kindred, and his country; [Gen 12, 1-4] and for the sake of obtaining his eternal inheritance, fears not to smite him, whom he had received as his heir, when now old and almost ready to die? When we are endeavouring to gain hold of the virtue of patience, we look at the examples of those who precede us. For what is more patient than Isaac, who carries the wood, asks about the burnt offering, and is, shortly afterwards, bound, and speaks not: is placed upon the altar, and resists not? [Gen. 22, 6-9] What then can be spoken of, more patient than this man? who is led, as if for consolation, and makes an enquiry; who is bound ready for the blow, and is silent; who speaks when about to offer a burnt offering, but when about to be offered as a burnt offering speaks not? When we are endeavouring to gird ourselves for endurance of toils, we are supported by preceding examples. For what is more laborious than Jacob, who though near to Laban by the rights of kindred, discharged for so long a time servile offices in his family, and obeyed him in the place of a servant, that he might enjoy the rewards of the heir? [Gen. 29, 15-30] When we are striving to ascend the citadel of continence and chastity, we are supported by the examples of those who precede us. For what is more chaste than Joseph, who could not, even though a captive, be brought under the yoke of lust at the desire of his wanton mistress? [Gen. 39, 7. 8.] And he was indeed a slave to men, but was, even in slavery, free from the power of dominant wickedness. When we are wishing to be filled with gentleness, we are assisted with the examples of those who precede us. For what was more gentle than Moses, who bears with the sedition of the people committed to his care, and yet entreats the Lord when angry, in behalf of these his persecutors, and exposes himself in their stead to the Divine wrath; because love glows in his holy breast even from persecution? [Numb. 16, 20-22] When we are endeavouring to fashion the constancy of our mind against the adversities of the world, we are supported by the consideration of those who precede us. For what is more constant than Joshua, who, when sent to search out the nature of the nations, feared not either the hugeness of their height, nor the multitude of their numbers? [Numb. 14, 6-9] Whence he subdued in battle those very same nations which he feared not in searching them out. When we are endeavouring to reach the height of kindness, we are instructed by the examples of those who go before us. For what is more kind than Samuel, who when deposed from his office of governing the people, humbly seeks for his successor; and anoints him when found to be king, and soon endures him when anointed as his persecutor? He is afraid of dying by his hands, and yet entreats the Lord not to be angry with him. For he himself says when he was sent, Saul will hear, and will kill me. [1 Sam. 16, 2] And the Truth says to him by Itself; How long dost thou mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him. [ib. 1] What then can be mentioned more kind than that man, who wishes not that even he should be smitten by God, by whom he is afraid of being killed? When we are advancing to the height of mercifulness and humility, we are supported by the examples of those who go before us. For what can be mentioned more merciful than David, what more humble, who received from the reprobate king insults for his victories, who by his strength rescued the nation of the Israelites from the hand of their enemies, and yet fled away himself lest he should die, as one of no strength? He knows that he himself was elected by the Divine sentence, and that his persecutor was rejected; and yet he submits himself to this very same persecutor of his, with the humility of frequent satisfaction, who takes away the spear of his persecutor, cuts off the border of his cloak, [l Sam. 24, 4] and hastens at once to the top of the mountain, and at one and the same time shews that he has had the power of slaying, and prays that he might not be slain. [ib. 26, 12-16]


18. Because then we are instructed by preceding examples, in all things which we spiritually desire, it is well said of these clouds, Which cover all things above. For we are covered by the life of the fathers spread over us, like clouds, in order that we may be watered, to bear the produce of a fruitful growth. And we behold, as it were, the clouds first, when looking up to heaven; because we first behold, with admiration, the doings of the good, and we afterwards penetrate, by our experience, those things which are heavenly. But because the life and the virtue of these clouds, that is, of these ancient fathers, would not be open to us, unless other clouds, that is the Apostles, disclosed it with the light of their preaching, let our discourse turn back to those clouds, which go about the world with their preaching; and let it shew what the Lord has done by their means in the world. It follows,

Ver. 29, 30. If He will spread out clouds as His tent, and lighten with His light from above, He will cover also the ends of the sea.




19. The Lord ‘spreads out the clouds,’ when, opening the way of preaching to His ministers, He disperses them in every direction, through the breadth of the world. But it is well said, As His tent. For a tent is wont to be pitched, on a journey. And, when holy preachers are sent into the world, they make a way for God. Whence it is written, Behold, I send My Messenger before Thy face, who shall prepare Thy way before Thee. [Mal. 3, 1] And hence also it is said by the Psalmist, Make a way for Him Who ascendeth over the west. [Ps. 68, 4] And again, O God, when Thou wentest forth before Thy people, when Thou passedst through the desert, the earth was moved. [ib. 7] For God, Who of Himself is, not locally, in every place, walks locally into the regions of the world, by means of His preachers. Whence also it is said by the Prophet, And I will walk in them. [Lev. 26, 12] For He does in truth walk through them, whilst He pours Himself into the hearts of men by their teaching. And in this journey the tents of God are these self-same hearts of the Saints, by which He is covered, as it were, in resting on the way. Whilst coming through them to the minds of men, He effects what He has ordained, and is not beheld. Hence it is that all the synagogue together is called a ‘tent,’ when the Lord complains by Jeremiah that the priests had ceased from preaching, saying, There is none to stretch forth My tent any more, and to set up My curtains. [Jer. 10, 20] Hence again it is said of its extermination, He hath destroyed His tent, as a garden, He hath thrown down His tabernacle. [Lam. 2, 6] For since the Lord at that time dwelt secretly among men in the worship of a single people, He called that self-same people His tent. Whence also these clouds are now rightly called His tent, because God, when coming to us by His grace, is concealed within the hearts of His preachers. Was not Paul His tent, when coming to the hearts of men, from Jerusalem round about into Illyricum, the Lord was resting in his mind? [Rom. 15, 19] For he was a cloud for men, but a tent for God; because he was invisibly retaining Him in his heart, Whom he was by his preaching pouring into the hearts of his hearers. When the same Paul was proceeding towards Rome, bound in chains, to take possession of the world, God, concealed in his breast, was journeying as if in a tent. [Acts 27, 28] Because He could not be seen, from being concealed, and yet, disclosed by the words of preaching, He was prosecuting without ceasing the course of grace which He had begun. Moses appeared as His cloud, when, before he undertook the leadership of the Jewish people, he was dwelling for forty years in the wilderness, and aiming at lofty things, lived separated from the converse of the people. [Ex. 3] But he was made the tent of God, when, on being sent into Egypt, to bring back the people, he was going on, bearing in his heart the invisible truth; and when Almighty God, Who was manifested in his work, was lying concealed in his heart. And He who is ever present, and containing all things, coming into Egypt was journeying thither in His servant. Whence it is written, God went intoEgypt, that He might ransom His people. [2 Sam. 7, 23] Behold He is said to journey, by Whose uncircumscribed presence all things are contained, because He, Who is every where by His Majesty, places, as it were, His steps in the way, by preaching.


20. But words only are by no means sufficient for these same holy preachers, for persuasion, unless miracles are also added. Whence it is said, When He will spread out the clouds as His tent, it is rightly subjoined, And lighten with His light from above. For what else but miracles ought we to suppose lightnings to mean? Of which it is said by the Psalmist, Thou wilt multiply Thy lightnings, and confoundthem. [Ps. 144, 6. LXX] By these clouds then He lightens from above with His light; because by holy preachers He illumines the gloom of our insensibility even by miracles.


21. And when these clouds rain down with words, and when they disclose, by miracles, the power of their glittering light, they convert to divine love even the farthest boundaries of the world. Whence it is rightly subjoined, He will cover also the ends of the sea. A thing which we heard by the voice of Eliu was to take place, but which we at this time see performed by the power of God. For the Almighty Lord has covered, with His lightening clouds, the ends of the sea; because, by the brilliant miracles of preachers, He has brought even the ends of the world to the faith. For, lo! He has now penetrated the hearts of almost all nations; lo! He has joined together in one faith the boundaries of the East and of the West; lo! the tongue of Britain,

[This special mention of Britain was probably added after the publication of the work, as the Saxons were not converted till St. Gregory had been some years Pope.  See his Eps. to St. Augustine, Bertha, and Edilberthus. Lib. xi. Ind. iv. 28. 29. 64. 65. 66. Ben. (St. Gregory was not, however, unaware of the existence of the British Church, and may have referred to it.  Ed.)]

which knew only how to grate barbarian sounds, has begun long since to resound in the Divine praises the Hebrew Alleluia. Behold the ocean, which before was swelling, is now calmed beneath, and subject to, the feet of the saints: and its barbarous motions, which the princes of the earth had been unable to control with the sword, do the mouths of priests bind with simple words through fear of God: and he who, when unbelieving, had not dreaded the bands of combatants, now fears, when faithful, the tongues of the humble. For because the virtue of Divine knowledge is poured into him, by the heavenly words which he hears, and by the brightness also of miracles, he is so restrained by his dread of this same Divine power, as to fear to do wrong, and to long with all his desires to attain to the grace of eternity. Whence it is here also appropriately added,

Ver. 31. For by these things judgeth He the people, and giveth food to many mortals.




22. By these words of preachers, that is drops of the clouds, by these lightnings of miracles, God doubtless judges the peoples; because He invites their terrified hearts to repentance. For when they hear heavenly things, when they attend to marvellous works, they soon return into their own hearts, and afflicting themselves for their former wickednesses, dread eternal torments. But food is given too by these same clouds by which terror is inflicted: since mighty is the trust committed to preachers to know how so to afflict the minds of the haughty, as yet to be skilful in cherishing them when afflicted, with words of consolation; so as to alarm sinners with eternal punishments, and support penitents with the joys of the kingdom of heaven. Whence the very course of this dispensation is well observed, so that Eliu said, in proper order, that God first judges the people by these, clouds, and afterwards gives them food. Because, in truth Almighty God first reproves and rouses us from our evil deeds, by means of His preachers, and afterwards cherishes and consoles us by hope. For if the Divine dispensation did not act the part of a judge, by these clouds, He never would have said to these same clouds, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained. [John 20, 22. 23.] And again, if He did not feed by them our famished hearts, the Lord would never say to His disciples, of the hungering people, Give ye them to eat. But we believe that that was then done thus by their hands, that we may see that this is daily taking place without ceasing by their words. [Mat. 14, 16] For what does Peter effect, when he speaks by his Epistles, unless it be, that our miserably hungry hearts may be fed with the food of the word? What are Paul and John labouring at, when speaking by their Epistles, except that our minds may enjoy heavenly food, and overcome that loathing of hunger with which they were dying? Let it be said then, When He will spread out the clouds as His tent, and lighten with His light from above, He will cover also the ends of the sea; for by these things He judgeth the people, and giveth food to many mortals. As if he were plainly saying, If He sends forth His Saints for the ministry of preaching, and aids their words by miracles, He summons the boundaries of all the world to the faith; and by these means He first judges the proud, and afterwards cherishes with hope, and strengthens the humble by the word of consolation.


23. But when he was saying, that He gives food to mortals, we must observe that he does not say to all, but ‘to many.’ Because, namely, it is written, All men have not faith. [2 Thess. 3, 2] And to certain persons it is said, Ye therefore hear not, because ye are not of God. [John 8, 47] And again, No man can come to Me, except the Father Which hath sent Me draw him. [John 6, 44] And again, The Lord knoweth them that are His. [2 Tim. 2, 19] Whence most persons, even in Holy Church herself, retain faith, and yet retain not the life of faith: they partake of the Sacraments of the Lord’s humility, but scorn to be humbled in imitation of the Lord. They partake the gentle preaching of the Divine Word, but continue, in themselves, mighty in pride. Whence here also, after the breadth of the whole collected Church has been signified by the ends of the sea, it is fitly subjoined;

Ver. 32. He hideth the light from the mighty.




24. For those in truth are ‘mighty,’ who exalt themselves with lofty thoughts. Against whom it is said by Isaiah; Woe unto you, who are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight. [Is. 5, 21] Against whom also Paul says, Be not wise in your own conceit. [Rom. 12, 16] But the light is hidden from these mighty ones, because, doubtless, the knowledge of the truth is denied to haughty men. Whence the Truth says by Its own self, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them to little ones. [Matt. 11, 25] Calling, namely, the haughty, wise and prudent. For He, Who did not subjoin, ‘Thou hast revealed them to fools,’ but, ‘to little ones,’ made it plain that he condemned their pride, and not their wisdom. Whence it is said in another place, The Lord guarding the little ones. [Ps. 116, 6] And in order to shew what is meant by this littleness [‘parvitas’], it is added, I was brought low, and He set me free. Because then there are many in the Church, who scorn to be little ones, they cease not to be great in their own sight, even in the place of humility. You may frequently see them raised high in honours, enjoying pleasures, and spreading abroad with the multiplicity of their goods. These often specially desire nothing, except to rule over others, are pleased at being feared by many; neglect to live uprightly, and wish to have the credit of an upright life; court flattery, and are puffed up by applause. And since they are abundantly supplied with goods ready at hand, they do not seek for the joys which are to come. And, because manifold employments engage them, they prove them to be strangers even to themselves. And yet if any trial of their faith arise, because they are contained therein though but in appearance, they defend it by words, they defend it by their exertions, and claim their heavenly country, and yet love it not.


25. And these do the sons of Reuben, and Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, well represent in Moses; who possessing many flocks and herds, whilst they desire that plain country which they had seen beyond Jordan, refused to receive an inheritance in the land of promise, saying, The country which the Lord smote before the sight of the children of Israel, is of a region most fertile for the pasture of animals, and we thy servants have many blasts; and we pray thee, if we have found grace in thy sight, to give it unto us thy servants for a possession, and make us not to pass over Jordan. [Numb. 32, 4. 5.] They therefore who possess very many beasts of burden, avoid passing over Jordan, because they, whom many worldly engagements occupy, do not seek for the abode of their heavenly country. But that faith, which they hold in appearance, urges them on; lest they should become inactive from the delight of ease, and should deter others, by their example, from the endurance of toil, and from studying to be patient. Whence it is said to them by Moses, Shall your brethren go to battle? and shall ye sit here? Why do ye subvert the minds of the children of Israel. [Numb. 32, 7] But because they are ashamed not to defend that which they confess, they hasten to contend for that faith which they have professed; and secure it, not for themselves, but for their neighbours. Whence they say to Moses, We will build sheepfolds, and stalls for our beasts, and fortified cities for our little ones; but we ourselves will go armed and ready for battle before the children of Israel. [Numb. 32, 16. 17.] And they go boldly forth at once in behalf of others, and free the land of promise from their enemies, and leave it, and return to feed their herds beyond Jordan. For many persons, although faithful, being engaged in present cares, feed, as it were, their herds beyond Jordan; because, contrary to the faith of Baptism, they are enslaved with all their heart, and with every desire, to perishing objects. But yet, as we have said, when a trial of their faith arises, they gird themselves with the arms of defence. They overcome and slaughter the enemies of the faith, and love not the inheritance of the land of promise, that is, the fruit of faith. And they so fight in its behalf, as yet to deposit their pledges outside of it. For because they have their children without, they do not place their affection in dwelling therein. Whence they return to the plain country, because they descend from the lofty summits of the mountains, as if from the hope of heavenly things, to rear brute animals without the land of promise. Because they labour diligently to supply the irrational motions of their mind with various objects of desire: because they, who are blinded with transient pursuits, know not how great is the brightness of the eternal light; and whilst they are proud of worldly things, they close up for themselves the access of the light of heaven. Whence it is now rightly said, He hideth His light from the mighty. But yet grace from above sometimes looks upon these mighty men, and afflicts them by the very employments caused by their abundant goods, and intersperses with their prosperity, adverse, but profitable, tribulations: in order that, when sorrowful, they may turn to their heart, and learn how vainly they are engaged in perishable pursuits. Whence here also, after the light is said to have been withdrawn, it is fitly subjoined,

And ordereth it to return again.




26. Because the light of truth, which is concealed from proud and overbusied minds, is revealed to the afflicted and humbled. For light approaches, when the afflicted mind discerns the gloom of tribulation which it is enduring from perishable pursuits: for, if it had not some perception of the light within, it would not even see that it had lost the light. But this can be specially understood also of the Jews, who dared for this reason to speak against our Redeemer, coming in the flesh, because they were mighty in their own thoughts. But the light was hid from these mighty men; because, while they are persecuting in their pride the light of truth, they lost it. But because they are to be admitted to the faith at the end of the world, it is rightly subjoined, And ordereth it to return again. Whence also it is said by Isaiah, If the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. [Is. 10, 22] For the light then returns to them when they themselves return to confess the power of our Redeemer.


27. But if we take ‘in manibus, not as one noun, in the dative case, but as two parts of speech [That is, not inmanibus, but in manibus, as Heb.]; it can be understood that the light is concealed in the hands, when the unjust are blinded in their own works in the presence of the righteous Judge. But yet it is ordered to return again. Because, when sinners have learned that they cannot be saved by their own strength, they receive the light of grace, and are enlightened with the rays of inward protection, so that they afterwards love their heavenly country with greater zeal, than they used before to glow with in earthly pleasure. But when we are speaking thus of our heavenly country, (in which we hear that there are hosts of Angels endowed with wondrous brightness; over which the Maker of all things presides, which He refreshes and fills with the sight of Himself, of which light is the true inheritance, and there is no failure in its brightness;) we turn our thoughts back to ourselves, and reflect that we bear about us earthly members; we consider that born in darkness, and estranged from the rays of the light within, we have lived the more sinfully, the more we were given up to bodily pursuits, and dwelt far away from spiritual objects. But a heart affected with this thought, and conscious to itself of sin, is alarmed, and despairs of becoming a citizen of that mighty country, of which it hears. Whence it is here also fitly subjoined, how the fearful mind is restored to confidence. For of this light it is immediately added,

Ver. 38. He declares of it to His friend, that it is his possession, and that he may come up to it.




28. The friend of truth is a lover of upright conduct. Whence the Truth Itself says to Its disciples, Ye are My friends, if ye have done what I command you. [John 15, 14] For a friend is named as ‘the keeper of the soul;’ [‘amicus, quasi animi custos.’ Isid. Etym. x. 14] and hence he who endeavours to guard the will of God in His precepts is, not undeservedly, called His friend. Hence is it that the Truth again says to the same disciples, But I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard of My Father I have made known unto you. [John 15, 15] Of this light then of the eternal country, God announces to His friend, that it is his possession, that he should not despair of himself from the frailness of his own infirmity; that he should not think what he was made, but what he was new made; but should know more certainly that he possesses this light, the more truly he is now trampling down the gloom of assailing sins. But it is well subjoined in promise, And that he may come up to it. For what is more difficult than for a man born on the earth, and bearing about earthly and fragile members, to ascend the heights of heaven, and to penetrate the secrets of the spirits above?


29. But the Maker of these very spirits has come to us, and exhibited Himself as a man, even beneath them, as is said of Him to the Father by the Prophet, Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels. [Ps. 8, 5] And because He found between these selfsame spirits and ourselves the stumbling-block of a discordant life, with wonderful power, and with still more wonderful kindness, creating the higher, and taking on Him the lower nature, He united the highest and lowest together. Hence is it that, on the birth of this selfsame King, the bands of Angels come forth to announce Him, sing a hymn, and, the discordance of their evil conduct being overcome, acknowledge those, as citizens, of whom they before despaired: proclaiming with harmonious voice, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will. [Luke 2, 14] As if they said plainly; Those whom wickedness had separated, let the Goodness now born on earth unite to us. Hence is it, that before His Incarnation we read in the Old Testament, that a man adored an Angel,

[Hom. 8. in Evang. he names Lot and Joshua. The former, perhaps, only bowed as to guests. In judging of the latter instance Deut. 34, 10. must not be forgotten. See also Dan. 12, 1]

and was not forbidden to adore him. [Gen.19, 13-16] But when after the coming of the Redeemer, John had prostrated himself to adore the Angel, he heard, See thou do it not, I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren. [Rev. 19, 10] For what is meant by the Angels first patiently allowing themselves to be adored by man, and afterwards refusing it; except, that at first the more abject they knew man to be, who had been given up to carnal corruptions, and was not yet delivered from this condition, the more justly did they despise Him, but that afterwards they could not keep human nature in subjection under them, inasmuch as they beheld it, in their Maker, exalted even above themselves? For that nature ought no longer to be despised, and degraded in the members, which, exalted in the head of the members, deserved to be venerated. He then, Who became lower than the Angels for our sake, made us equal to the Angels by the virtue of His humiliation. [Heb. 2, 7] Whence He also taught us by dying, that death is not to be dreaded, by His rising again, to be confident of life, by His ascension, to exult in our inheritance of the heavenly country. That so the members also may rejoice, that they are following to the same place, where they see that their Head has gone before. Whence it is well said by this our Head Himself, Wheresoever the carcase is, there will also the eagles be gathered together. [Matt. 24, 28] Whence Peter says, To an inheritance incorruptible, undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in the heavens. [1 Pet. 1, 4] Whence Paul says, We know that if our earthly house this habitation be dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2 Cor. 5, 1]


30. But if we also, who are born on the earth, ascend into heaven, where is that which the Truth again says, No man hath ascended into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of Man Which is in heaven? [John 3, 13] For to this sentence, that which the same Truth says is directly opposed, Father, I will that where I am, they may be with Me also. [John 17, 24] But yet It is not at variance with Itself in Its words, but It inflames the zeal of our mind to enquire into these things, which seem at variance. For all we, who are born in His faith, are doubtless His body. Because then the Lord has, by a marvellous dispensation of condescension, been made the Head of His own members, He is alone, even when with us, the multitude of the reprobate having been cast off. No man, therefore, ascends into heaven, but He that came down from heaven, the Son of Man Who is in heaven. For, since we have been already made one with Him, He returns alone, even in us, to that place, from whence He came alone in Himself; and He Who ever is in heaven, ascends daily to heaven; because He Who remains in His Godhead above all things, draws Himself up daily to heaven, in the body of His Manhood. Let not then human weakness despair of itself; let it consider the Blood of the Only-begotten, and in its own price behold how great that is, which costs so much. Let it consider anxiously, whither its Head has gone before; and let that which is bound by His precept to good living, be strengthened to hope by His example. Let it feel sure of heaven; let it hope for the heavenly country; let it know that it is the companion of Angels, and rejoice that in its Head it has been preferred even to Angels. Let it be rightly said then of this light of the eternal country, He declares of it to His friend that it is his possession, and that He may come up to it. But these things are very marvellous, and very awful, that a man, born on the earth, and condemned, as his deserts demand, to separation from his heavenly country, is not only brought back to the state of his creation, but is even exalted to a more glorious condition; that he who has lost paradise obtains heaven, and that so far from the guilt of his debt being binding on him, gifts are heaped upon him more abundantly even after his sin; and that that despiser of God, and imitator of the devil, if he returns to fruitful penitence, ascends even to the loftiness of contemplating the inward light. Whose heart then would not leap in admiration of such graciousness? Whose sloth would not be startled at the elevation of so high a thought? Whence it is filly subjoined,

Chap. xxxvii. ver. 1. At this my heart trembled, and was moved from its place.




31. Because, while fear strikes the mind, it estranges it from itself, the Latin translations sometimes call an ecstasy fear, as is said by the Psalmist, I said in my fear, I am cast out from the sight of Thine eyes; [Ps. 31, 22] Where, namely, it could have been called not fear, but a transport [‘excessus’]. But fear is in that place used for transport, because the mind is estranged from itself in fear, as it is a transport. Whence also, in this place, after considering the light of the eternal country, it is rightly subjoined, At this my heart trembled. As if he said, It went beyond itself in transport of admiration, and because the mind is inspired with the spirit of new hope, it has deserted itself as it used to be in its old thought.


32. But it is well said, And was moved from its place. For the pleasure of this present life is the ‘place’ of the human heart. But when the place of our heart is touched with a divine aspiration, there comes a love of eternity. The mind, therefore, is moved from its place by a consideration of its eternal home, because it leaves those things which are below, and fixes itself in thoughts of things above. For before it knew not what things were eternal, it had become stupified by the delight of present things, and, transient itself, used to embrace with love transitory things. But after it knew what things were eternal, after it reached the rays of the heavenly light, by a hasty glance, being roused by its admiration of the highest objects, it raised itself from things below; so that it now feels no pleasure except in the things of eternity, and despising transitory objects, it seeks only for those which endure. It is well said then, At this my heart trembled, and was moved from its place. For when the sluggish heart, which has been long given up to earthly thoughts, suddenly, by going beyond itself, attaches itself to the highest objects, it has left the place of lowest thoughts. But because the mind slumbers of itself, overcome by the love of this present world, and sleeps, in its delights, cold and insensible, unless it is aroused by the breath of Divine grace, it is necessary for him to add, how it is affected by its inward thoughts, or rather how it is restored to a sense of spiritual truths. It follows,

Ver. 2. It will hear a hearing in the terror of His voice, and a sound going out of His mouth.




33. It is the habit of Holy Scripture, that, when it informs us that any thing is heard with the hearing [‘read ‘audivi.’], it says that this hearing is heard. As Habakkuk says, O Lord, I have heard Thy hearing, and was afraid. [Hab. 3, 1] Whence it is said here also, It will hear a hearing in the terror of His voice. But we must observe that the voice of God is said to be heard, not in joy, but in terror. Because, doubtless, while every sinner thinks of earthly things alone, and bears a heart overwhelmed with degrading thoughts, if he is suddenly touched by the aspiration of Divine grace, he understands this, above all things, that all his doings are punished by the judgment of the eternal Judge. The hearing, therefore, of the voice of the Lord, first takes place in terror, that it may afterwards be changed into sweetness. Because it first chastises us with the dread of the strict judgment, in order that it may refresh us, when chastised, with the consolation of heavenly sweetness. For when the overpowering delight of temporal objects possesses our minds, and oppresses the eyes of our mind with the sleep of sloth, if we are roused suddenly by the hand of the Divine favour, we open at once those eyes, which have been long closed, to the light of truth: we call to mind the sins we have committed, we see how strictly the Judge is coming against them; it is considered within, how great is the coming of so mighty a Judge; how great is that assembly then of men and angels: how mightily even the burning elements contend against the reprobate; how terribly that eternal sentence comes forth from the mouth of the strict Judge, with which it is said to the reprobate, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels. [Matt. 25, 41] The punishment of these reprobates is presented to the eyes, and the thought occurs with a heavy gloom of bitterness, what is the darkness of hell? Because then the proud heart is first shaken with terror, in order that, when shaken, it may be established in love, it is now rightly said, It will hear a hearing in the terror of His voice. Where it is also well subjoined, And a sound going forth from His mouth.


34. The sound from the mouth of God, is the power of fear, rushing into us from heavenly inspiration. Because when God, by breathing on us, fills us with thoughts of the future, He doubtless alarms us, for our past misdeeds. But by the ‘mouth of God’ can be designated, the Only-Begotten Son, Who, as He is said to be His arm, because God works is all things by Him, (of whom the Prophet says, To Whom is the arm of the Lord is revealed? [Is. 53, 1] of whom John says, All things were made by Him; [John 1, 3]) so is He also called His mouth. For hence is that which the Prophet says, For the Mouth of the Lord hath spoken these things. [Is. 1, 20] By Whom He speaks all things to us. As if the Word was plainly spoken of under the name of “mouth;” as we also are accustomed to say “tongue” instead of “words,” as when we speak of the Greek or Latin “tongue” we indicate Latin or Greek words. We therefore rightly understand Him, by the ‘Mouth of the Lord.’ Whence the Bride says to Him in the Song of Songs, Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His Mouth. [Cant. 1, 1] As if She said; Let Him touch me with the presence of the Only Begotten Son my Redeemer. But, by the sound of His Mouth, can be designated the Holy Spirit of the same Lord. Whence it is written in another place also, as signifying the same Spirit, Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind approaching. [Acts 2, 2] A sound, therefore, proceeds from the Mouth of the Lord, when His Consubstantial Spirit, coming to us through His Son, breaks through the deafness of our insensibility. As the Mouth of the Lord speaks of this same uncircumscribed and incorporeal sound, and says, He shall receive of Mine, and shall shew it unto you. [John 16, 14] By the terror of His voice, then, can be understood the power of fear, and by the sound of His mouth the sweetness of consolation; for those, whom the Holy Spirit fills, He first alarms at their earthly doings, and afterwards consoles with the hope of heavenly objects; in order that they may afterwards rejoice the more in confidence of their rewards, the more they were before afraid on beholding only the punishments. Hence is it that Paul speaks of this Spirit of the Only Begotten, as of this sound of His mouth. For ye have not received the Spirit of bondage again to fear, but ye have received the Spirit of the adoption of sons, whereby we cry Abba, Father. [Rom. 8, 15] Hence the Truth says by His own mouth, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; and whose soever ye retain, they are retained. [John 20, 22. 23.] Lo! the terror of the converted is turned into power; because while they punish their sins by penance, they ascend up even to the exercise of judgment; so as to receive this power from God, which before they used themselves to fear at His hands. For they in truth become judges, who feared greatly the judgment of heaven; and they now begin to remit the sins of others, who had before been afraid that their own would be retained. But because this very judgment, which takes place spiritually, is not now seen by the carnal; there are some who consider that God is not concerned about human affairs, and think that they are carried on by accidental movements. Against whom it is rightly subjoined,

Ver. 3. He himself considereth under all the heavens, and His light is over the ends of the earth.




35. As if it were plainly said; He who rules over the highest things, forsakes not even the most remote. Because His watchful rule is so directed towards the greatest concerns, as not to be kept from those which are little. For He Who is every where present, and every where equal, is not unlike Himself, even in unlike circumstances. He therefore equally regards all things, equally disposes all things, Who, though present in all places, is not locally confined, nor varied by attending to various concerns. But if we understand by the heavens, holy preachers, (as the Prophet attests who says, The heavens declare the glory of God;) [Ps. 19, 1] after the coming of the Holy Spirit is designated by the sound of the mouth, it is rightly subjoined, He Himself considereth under all the heavens, and His light is over the ends of the earth.


36. For there are some, who, when they hear the wonderful works of the Apostles, (that they raised the dead by the Holy Spirit which they had received, cast out devils from the possessed, removed infirmities by their shadow, foretold future events by prophecy, and, speaking in the tongue of all nations, preached the Only Begotten Word of God;) because they do not see these powers now in the Church, suspect that the grace of heaven has been already withdrawn from the Church, forgetting to consider that it is written, An assister in needful times, in tribulation. [Ps. 9, 9] For Holy Church required then the assistance of miracles, when the tribulation of persecution oppressed her. For after she has overcome the pride of unbelief, she requires no longer the signs of miracles, but the merits of deeds alone, though she displays even them by many persons, when opportunity demands. For it is written, Tongues are for a sign not to them that believe, but to them that believe not. [1 Cor. 14, 22] Where then all are faithful, what cause demands signs to be displayed? On which head perhaps we the more readily give satisfaction, if we make some mention of the Apostolic dispensation.


37. For Paul, the illustrious preacher, coming to Melite, and knowing the island to be full of unbelievers, healed by his prayers the father of Publius, afflicted with dysentery and fevers; [Acts 28, 8] and yet advised Timothy when sick, saying, Use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake, and thine often infirmities. [1 Tim. 5, 23] Why is it, O Paul, that thou restorest the sick unbeliever to health by thy prayers, and yet healest so great a defender of the Gospel by food, like a physician? except that outward miracles are wrought, in order that the minds of men may be brought to inward truths; that so by the wonder which is visibly displayed, those invisible truths, which are more wonderful, may be believed? For the father of Publius required to be healed by a sign of power, in order that he might revive in mind, while returning to health by a miracle. But no miracle needed to be manifested outwardly to Timothy, because he was already full of life within. What wonder is it then, that miracles are not frequently displayed, when the faith has been spread abroad, when even the Apostles themselves performed them not in the case of some who already believed? The heavens, then, having been raised up, the Lord considers inferior objects; because, when the greatest preachers have been taken away, He constantly regards even the lowliness of our infirmity. And His light beholds, as it were, the ends of the earth, under the heavens; because, after the sublime doings of those who have gone before, He embraces the ways and doings even of sinners by the illumination of His grace. And though He does not now frequently manifest miraculous signs, by the life of believers, He yet departs not from these same believers by the virtue of works. But His light over the ends of the earth can also be thus understood; that whilst the preaching of heavenly Grace gathers the nations to the faith, it has embraced within itself the boundaries of the world.


38. Or, certainly, the ends of the earth are the ends of sinful men. And it is often the case, that many forsake God, and waste the seasons of their life in carnal desires. But yet, when looked down upon by Divine Grace, they turn to God at their latter end, they learn what are the eternal judgments, and punish with tears all the evil deeds they remember to have committed; and prove by their upright conduct that they are sincerely prosecuting these. And when righteousness succeeds, their former sin is surely entirely forgiven. For hence Hannah says by the spirit of prophecy, The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; [1 Sam. 2, 10] because doubtless God does not judge the former life of sinners, when, by a look of affection from above, He enlightens their latter end. Hence Moses says, The firstling of an ass thou shall exchange for a sheep. [Ex. 13, 13] For, by an ass is designated uncleanness, but by a sheep, innocence. To exchange then the firstling of an ass for a sheep, is to convert the beginnings of an impure life into the simplicity of innocence; in order that a sinner, after having committed those deeds which the Lord rejects as unclean, may now display such conduct, as He can offer to God as a sacrifice. Because then a sinner is converted after his sins, and is brought back at last from the darkness of his misdeeds, at the end of his life, it is now rightly said, And His light is over the ends of the earth. But that very grace, which fills the mind after sins, affects it with great grief. For it recals evil deeds to the memory, and shews a man how justly he is to be condemned. Whence it comes to pass, that he bewails with daily floods of tears every sin which he remembers to have committed, and the more he is now able to discern what is righteous, the more ardently does he desire to punish his own wicked self with groans. Whence it is fitly subjoined,

Ver. 4. After Him a sound will roar.




39. For the Lord doubtless turns into sorrow the life of him whom He has filled with His illumination; and the more He suggests to the enlightened mind eternal punishments, the more cruelly does He weary it with sorrow for its past wickedness; and a man grieves at what he was, because he now begins to discern the good which he was not. He hates himself, as he remembers himself to have been. He loves himself as he discerns he ought to have been; and now loves only the bitterness of penitence; because he carefully considers in what great pleasures he has sinned through self-indulgence. It is well said then, After Him a sound will roar. Because when God enters the mind, it is doubtless plain, that the sorrow of repentance immediately follows, in order that that soul may now delight in wholesome sorrow, which used to rejoice in its iniquity with a lamentable mirth. But the more abundantly a sin is lamented, the higher is the knowledge of the truth attained. Because the conscience, before polluted, is renewed by a baptism of tears, to behold the light within. Whence after the roaring of repentance, it is fitly subjoined,

He will thunder with the voice of His greatness.




40. For God thunders with the voice of His greatness, when, to us who have been now well prepared by sorrow, He makes known, how great He is in His doings above. For thunder proceeds, as it were, from heaven, when the look of grace strikes us slumbering in carelessness and neglect, with sudden fear; and when lying on the ground we hear a sound from above: for thinking of things of earth, we are suddenly alarmed at the sentence of terror from above; and our mind, which used to slumber with evil security in things below, is now properly alarmed and anxious for things above. But we know not, in what way the terror of this secret visitation enters into us: nor is it discerned by the eye of the very mind, whose purpose is changed for the better. Whence it is fitly subjoined,

And He will not be enquired into, when His Voice hath been heard.




41. The voice of the Lord is heard, when the breathing of His grace is conceived within the mind; when the insensibility of our inward deafness is broken through, and the heart, excited to zeal for the noblest love, is pierced by the voice of inward power. But even the mind, which has been enlightened by the voice of the supervenient Spirit, which insinuates Itself into the ears of the heart, does not trace it out. For it is unable to consider by what openings this invisible power flows into it, in what ways it comes to, or recedes from, it. Whence it is well said by John, The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the voice thereof, but knowest not whence it cometh and whither it goeth. [John 3, 8] For to hear the voice of the Spirit, is to rise up to the love of the invisible Creator, by the power of inward compunction. But no man knows whence it cometh; because we are not told on what occasions it pours itself forth on us by the mouths of preachers. And no man knows whither it goeth; because when many hear one and the same preaching, it doubtless cannot be understood, whom It forsakes and casts off, or into whose heart It enters and takes its rest. For but one thing is taking place without, but the hearts of those who behold are not penetrated by it in one way: because He who invisibly modifies visible things, plants incomprehensibly the seeds of events in the hearts of men. Hence is it that some believed, when Lazarus was raised from the dead: while yet the greater number of the Jews were roused to zeal in persecution by this very resurrection. [John 12, 10. 11.] That one and the same miracle, then, which conferred on some the light of Faith, deprived others of the light of the mind, by the darkness of envy. Hence is it that each of the thieves beheld that same death of our Redeemer, which was like his own; but the one feared not in his pride to assail Him with contumely, Whom the other honoured by fearing Him. In the same circumstance the thoughts of each was not the same; because the inward Arbiter, by invisibly modifying, made it to differ. But as these secret modes of breathing on us cannot be comprehended by our thoughts, the traces of the Divine voice are doubtless unknown to us. Whence it is still further subjoined,

Ver. 5. God will thunder marvellously with His voice.




42. God thunders marvellously with His voice, because He penetrates our hearts incomprehensibly with His secret might. For while with its secret motions it overpowers us with fear, and fashions us in love, it proclaims in some silent manner how eagerly He is to be followed, and a violent impulse arises in the mind, though nothing sounds in the voice. And it sounds the more loudly within us, the more completely it deadens the ear of our heart to every outward sound. Whence also the soul, as soon as it is brought back to itself by this inward call, wonders at what it hears, because it feels the force of unknown compunction. And this its admiration is well signified in Moses by the manna coming from above. For the sweet food which is received from above is called ‘manhu.’ For manhu means, What is this? [Ex. 16, 15] And we say, ‘what is this,’ when we ignorantly wonder at that which we behold. The soul then perceives the manna from above, when, roused by the voice of compunction, it is surprised at this unusual kind of inward refreshment; so that filled with Divine sweetness, it rightly responds, What is this? For while it is kept from the thought of lower objects, it feels unusual wonder at what it beholds from above. But because the habit of our former life is immediately changed, when the deafness of our slumber is burst through, by this voice; so that the soul, inspired by the Spirit from above, desires as highest the things which it had despised, and contemns as lowest what it used to desire, it is rightly subjoined,

Who doeth great things and inscrutable.




43. For that a man who was given up to earthly objects, and overpowered by sinful desires, becomes suddenly ardent for new pursuits, and cold to his former habits, that he renounces outward cares, and is eager for inward contemplation; who can be sufficient to consider this power of the voice from above? who can comprehend it on consideration? Great are the things which God effects by His voice; but they would be less great, if they could have been searched out. He doeth, therefore, great things and inscrutable: because He exhibits outwardly the result of His work, but the nature of the work is itself concealed within. He sounds abroad with His voice, even by Apostles, but He illumines the hearts of the hearers within, by Himself: as Paul bears witness, who says, I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. For neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God that giveth the increase. [l Cor. 3, 6. 7.] But though they do not themselves confer on our minds the hearing of the Divine voice, they are yet sent to condescend to us by words from without. Whence it is fitly subjoined,

Ver. 6. Who ordereth the snow to descend on the earth, and the rains of the winter, and the showers of His strength.




44. Because the Psalmist says, Thou shalt wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow; [Ps. 51, 7] what do we understand by snow in this place, but the hearts of the Saints made white by the light of righteousness? But waters are taken up, and congealed above, in order to become snow. But when this snow descends to the earth, it is changed again into liquid waters. Waters therefore are the minds of preachers; which are confirmed in a higher sense of things, when they raise themselves to contemplate heavenly objects. And when they are hurried along in the consideration of lofty things, they receive the strength of confirmation. But because they are still retained on earth by love of the brethren, they bring themselves down from their lofty understanding, and preaching humbly to the weak, they melt like snow, and water their thirsty hearts. Snow then descends to the earth, when the lofty hearts of the Saints, which already feast on solid contemplation, condescend to humble words of preaching through love of the brethren. For as snow covers the ground, when it lies on it, but waters it, when it melts; so the virtue of the Saints protects the life of sinners by its strength with God, and by its condescension melts, as it were, and waters the thirsty earth, to bear fruits. And because water is first brought up from below, that it may afterwards be returned in showers from above; so do holy men, when placed on the lofty eminence of their virtues, consider from whence they are elevated, for fear of despising the meanness of others’ infirmity. Waters, then, return, as it were, to the earth from which they have been raised, when righteous men, condescending to sinners, cease not to remember what once they were. Paul had certainly been hitherto but water on the earth, when he knew the Law carnally. But when raised up to heavenly knowledge, he was converted into snow; because he changed his former feeble knowledge into the solidity of true wisdom; and yet, condescending to his brethren, he returned as snow to the earth. For even after his heights of virtue, he acknowledges how unworthy he was, saying, Who was before a blasphemer and a persecutor, &e. [1 Tim. 1, 13] Behold how considerately he calls to mind his own weakness, so as to bear with equanimity the weaknesses of others. For Paul returned, as water, after being in heaven, to the earth from which it had been taken, when, after the great secrets of his contemplation, he called to mind that he was a sinner, in order that he might benefit sinners by his humility. Let us see therefore how this water, which is to be turned into solid snow, is drawn up to its highest level. He says, Whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God. [2 Cor. 5, 13] Let us see how the snow returns to the ground, to water it, while melting. He says, Or whether ice be sober, it is for your cause. [ibid.] Let us see with what hand it is guided, and can be raised up, when low, and be brought back again when raised up. He says, For the love of Christ constraineth us. [ibid. 14] Because therefore the love of Christ, which raises the minds of Saints to heavenly things, shapes them by its considerate control even to humble condescension, for the love of the brethren, it is rightly said, Who ordereth the snow to descend on the earth. Where it is also fitly subjoined, And the rains of the winter, and the shower of His strength.


45. For this present life is indeed winter: in which though hope even now raises us up to things above, yet the cold torpor of our mortality still binds us. Because it is written, The corruptible body weigheth down the soul, and the earthly habitation presseth down the sense that museth on many things. [Wisd. 9, 15] But this winter has rains, which are doubtless the preachings of rulers. Of which rains it is in truth said by Moses, Let my speech be expected as the rain, and my words descend as the dew. [Deut. 32, 2] These rains doubtless are suited to the winter, and will cease in the summer; because now that the heavenly life is hidden from the eyes of the carnal, it is necessary for dew to be poured on us by the preachings of holy men. But when the heat of eternal judgment has glowed, no one will then find the words of preachers necessary. Because every one is brought back to his own conscience, on the coming of the Judge, so as to understand what is holy, when he cannot any longer perform it, and to learn from the punishment of his perverseness the right which he ought to have pursued. Whence it is well said by the Prophet, Gather them together as a flock for a sacrifice, and sanctify them in the day of slaughter. [Jer. 12, 3] For the reprobate are sanctified in the day of slaughter: for they then perceive the holiness, which they ought to have pursued, when they cannot now avoid the punishments which their depravity deserves. But since holy preaching will cease with this present life, that is the rains with the winter; to the soul which is departing, and hastening to the summer regions of eternal happiness, it is rightly said by the voice of the Bridegroom persuading it; Arise, haste, my beloved, my fair one, and come: for the winter hath past, the rain hath passed and is gone. [Cant. 2, 10. 11.] For as the winter passes away, the rain departs: because when the present life is over, in which the torpor of the corruptible flesh had surrounded us with a mist of ignorance, all the ministry of preaching ceases. For we shall then behold that more clearly with our own eyes, which we now hear more obscurely by the voices of the Saints. The Lord therefore orders the snow, and the rains of the winter, to descend on the earth, while He humbles the hearts of the Saints to the ministry of preaching, for the correction of sinners, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Where it is rightly added, And the shower of His strength.


46. For the shower of the strength of God, is the preaching His Godhead; for the shower of His weakness is the preaching His Manhood, of which it is said by Paul, The weakness of God is stronger than men. [1 Cor. 1, 25] And again, Though He was crucified through weakness, yet He liveth by the power of God. [2 Cor. 13, 4] But holy men so preach the weakness of His Manhood, as to pour also into the hearts of their hearers the strength of His Godhead. Let us hear, through the thunder of the cloud, the shower of His strength; In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [John 1, 1] Let us hear also the shower of His weakness; The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us. [ibid. 14] Let us hear the shower of His strength; All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. What was made in Him was life. [ibid. 3] Let us hear also the shower of His weakness; He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. [ibid. 11] He commands therefore the shower of His strength to descend on the earth, because He so preaches to us the weaknesses of His Manhood by the voices of His Saints, as to make known to us also the wonders and the strength of His Godhead. But when we hear the power of our Maker, we are immediately brought back to our own hearts by the compulsion of fear, and, considering that so great a Judge is over us, we examine what we have done (worthily, and what) [Mss. vary.] unworthily. Whence it is well subjoined,

Ver. 7. Who sealeth the hand of all men, that every one may know his works.




47. For men scorn to think of the sins they commit. But when they hear the power of heavenly severity, they discern this burden of misdeeds which weighs them down. For being roused by the words of preaching, they keep on the watch, in order to consider to what punishments the merit of their former doings is leading them. When, then, the shower of His strength descends on the earth, a seal is made in the hand of each one, for him to know his works; because when the Virtue of His Incomprehensible Majesty is acknowledged, his own life is weighed more carefully by each person.


48. But this can also be understood in another sense. For the Almighty Creator has made man a rational creature, distinguished from all which are void of sense and reason; in order that he should not be ignorant of what he has done. For he is compelled by the law of nature to know whether what he is doing is right or wrong. For why is he brought to judgment for his conduct, if he could be ignorant of what he has done? And therefore even they, who scorn to be instructed by the precepts of the Lord, know whether the things they are doing are good or evil. For if they do not know they are doing good, why do they ostentatiously boast of some of their doings? Again, if they know not that they are doing wrong, why do they shrink from the eyes of others in these very doings? For they are witnesses to themselves, that they know what they are doing is wrong, because they are ashamed of being seen by others. For if they did not really believe it to be wrong, they would not be afraid of its being seen by others. Whence it is well said by a certain wise man; When wickedness is fearful, it beareth testimony to its own condemnation. [Wisd. 17, 11] For when fear assails and convicts the conscience of what it has done, it furnishes testimony against itself, that its conduct is deserving of condemnation. The contrary to which is said by John, If our heart condemn us not, we have confidence toward God. [1 John 3, 21] Let the wicked fly then from the eyes of men; they certainly cannot fly from themselves. For that they know the sin which they commit, they have their conscience as a witness, they have their reason as a judge. In the sin therefore which they commit, they first find the judgment of their reason against them, and they are afterwards brought to the strictness of the eternal judgment. And this is perhaps that which is said by the Psalmist, Deep calleth unto deep with the voice of Thy water-spouts. [Ps. 42, 7] Because, when by a wondrous course of secret dispensation, the evil which is committed is not suffered to be unknown, a sinner both condemns himself at once in his conscience by his own sentence, and after his own condemnation hastens to the sentence of the eternal Judge. For deep then to call on deep, is to pass from one judgment to another. Let holy preachers proceed then to reprove the conduct of sinners, but let wicked hearers despise the words of the righteous. Let them defend their wickedness as much as they please, and multiply their shameless deeds by a more shameless defence. They are certainly witnesses to themselves in their conscience that they are without excuse. For by the very fact that God has created man a rational being, He puts a seal in the hand of all men, that every one may know his own works. But because Eliu has stated his opinion of the wickedness of men one by one, he turns at once the eyes of his mind to the author of wickedness himself, by whose means each separate wickedness takes its rise; that, because he had assailed in this one verse the members of a wicked head, he might also briefly describe the head himself of these members. Or certainly, because he had mentioned above the virtues of the clouds of God, he now proceeds to set forth also the assaults of the adversary against the life of the righteous. For it follows,

Ver. 8. The beast will enter his covert, and will abide in his den.




49. Who else is understood by the name of the beast, except our ancient enemy, who cruelly aimed at the deception of the first man, and mangled by his wicked advice the integrity of his life? against whom it is promised by the words of the Prophet, concerning the restoration of the Church of the Elect to its ancient condition, And no evil beast shall pass through it. But when after the coming of the Redeemer, after the voices of preachers, after the thunder, as it were, of the clouds, this beast has seized that accursed person, Antichrist, what else does he do but enter his covert, in order to abide in his own den? For that vessel of the devil is the den and covert of the beast, so that, when lying in ambush against men who are journeying through this life, he both escapes their notice by his wonders, and kills them by his malice, in his person. But yet he possesses even now the hearts of all reprobates, before he manifests himself openly; and occupies them by his secret wickedness, as though they were his own den; and conceals himself in their gloomy minds, in order to effect all the hurt he desires against the good. Were not the hearts of the persecuting Jews, the den of this beast; in whose designs he long lurked secretly, but suddenly burst forth with the voices of those who cried, Crucify, Crucify? [John 19, 6] And because he could not reach so far in his temptation, as to wound the mind of our Redeemer, he was eager for His death in the flesh. This beast doubtless possessed the hearts of many of the Elect, but the Lamb has, by His death, expelled him from them. Whence also He says in the Gospel, Now shall the prince of this world be cast out. [John 12, 31] For while He has, by a wonderful and righteous judgment, enlightened and accepted the confessions of the humble, He has forsaken and closed the eyes of the proud. Whence it is said to Him by the Psalmist, Thou hast appointed darkness, and it became night, in it all the beasts of the woods will pass through: the young of lions roaring to seize their prey, and to seek their food from God. [Ps. 104, 20. 21.] For God in truth appoints darkness, when, in inflicting judgment in requital for sins, He withdraws the light of His wisdom. And it is made night, because the mind of wicked men is blinded with the errors of their own ignorance. In which all the beasts of the field pass through, when malignant spirits, lurking under the gloom of deceit, pass through into the hearts of the reprobates, by fulfilling their evil purposes. In which also the young of lions roar, because spirits rise up with importunate temptations, as the ministers of most wicked, but yet preeminent, powers. But yet they seek their food from God; because doubtless they are unable to catch souls, unless by a just judgment they are permitted by God to prevail. Where it is also fitly subjoined, The sun hath arisen, and they are gathered together, and have laid them down in their dens. [ibid. 22] Because, when expelled from the minds of the faithful, by the Light of the Truth manifested in the flesh, they returned, as it were, to their dens, when they held the hearts of unbelievers only. That then which is there called the den of lions, is here termed the den of the beast.


50. But I think it ought to be specially observed, that this beast is said, not only to enter his den, but to abide therein. For he sometimes enters even the minds of the good, he suggests unlawful thoughts, he wearies them with temptations, he endeavours to turn aside the uprightness of the spirit to the pleasure of the flesh; he also strives to carry out delight as far as to consent: but yet he is kept from prevailing by the opposition of aid from on high. He can enter therefore into the minds of the good, but cannot abide therein, because the heart of the righteous is not the den of this beast. For he doubtless abides in and occupies the minds of those, whom he possesses as his own den: because he first leads on their thoughts to wicked desires, and afterwards leads their wicked desires even to the commission of most sinful deeds. For the reprobate do not endeavour to repel, with the upright hand of judgment, the suggestions of him, to whose wishes they desire to yield, by submissive delight. And when any evil thought arises in their hearts, it is cherished at once by the eagerness of delight; and when no resistance is made to him, he is strengthened immediately by consent, and consent is instantly carried into outward act, but outward act is also made worse by habit. This beast then is well said to abide in his cave; which keeps hold of the thoughts of the reprobate, till it also pierces their life with the sting of evil deeds. Whence the Lord well says to Judaea by the Prophet, How long shall hurtful thoughts abide in thee? [Jer. 4, 14] For He does not blame for their coming, but for their remaining there. And unlawful thoughts come even unto good hearts, but they are forbidden to remain; because the righteous, in order to keep the house of conscience from being taken, drive away the enemy from the very threshold of the heart. And if he has ever secretly crept [Oxf. Mss. ‘subrepit’] by sudden suggestions in front of the entrance, yet he does not reach to the gate of consent. It was to this beast doubtless that Peter, overcome by the impulse of sudden fear, opened the gate of his heart, by denial, but he withstood it by a speedy discovery, he closed it by his tears. [Luke 22, 57-62] But because the ancient enemy has not only entered and occupied the hearts of persecutors, but has also occupied and possessed them, let it be rightly said, The beast will enter his covert, and will abide in his den. For we learn how much he dwelt in the minds of the Jews, when we hear their plans, on the evidence of the Gospel narrative. For therein it is described, with what eager cruelty they raged for His death, when they beheld our Lord quickening the dead; how many evil designs they ardently wished to carry out against Him, but yet feared the people; how many opportunities they sought of killing Him, and could not find them; how many hands of aliens they used to carry out their cruel wishes; because they gave Him up to the Gentiles to be killed, Whom they themselves were not able legally to put to death; in order that the Roman governor might perform that by his mere power, which they eagerly insisted ought to be done, merely from their malice. Whence it is also fitly subjoined,

Ver. 9. A tempest will come forth from the inner parts, and cold from Arcturus.




51. When Holy Scripture mentions the inner parts, in opposition to Arcturus, it designates the quarter of the South, opposite to the parts of the North. Whence it is written in this same book; Who maketh Arcturus, and the Orions, and the inner parts of the South. [Job 9, 9] Because then the sun pervades with greater warmth the inner parts of the South, but does not pursue its course at all in the North [‘in Arcturo.’], by the word ‘inner parts’ in this place is expressed the Jewish people, but by the term ‘Arcturus’ the Gentile people. For they who had known the One and Invisible God, and obeyed His Law, at least carnally, were kept, as it were, in the warmth of faith, under the glow of the midday sun. But because the Gentiles had not attained to any knowledge of heavenly wisdom, they were remaining, as it were, in the cold, without the sun, under the North. But because a tempest impels, but cold oppresses with torpor; it is now rightly said, A tempest will come forth from the inner parts, and cold from Arcturus. As if it were plainly said; From the Jews there arises persecuting malice, and from the Gentiles oppressing power. For the precepts of the Law had not forbidden the performance of miracles, and yet the Jews sought to kill the Redeemer of the human race on account of these very miracles. And hence when unable to fulfil what they had begun, they flocked to the hall of Pilate, in order that he, whom no law could restrain when murdering unjustly, might himself put Him to death. A tempest therefore came forth from the inner parts, and cold from Arcturus, whilst the Gentile judge perpetrated with the authority of Rome, that which the Jews requested through envy. Whence it is well subjoined still further against this same envy,

Ver. 10. When God bloweth, the ice congeals.




52. Because, as the Holy Spirit breathed on the hearts of the faithful, and conferred greater miracles of power, benumbing envy grew up the more in the sluggish hearts of the faithless; and the unbelieving multitude became hardened against God, from the same causes, as the humble people softened the obduracy, with which it had bound itself. For when God blew on them, they were turned into ice, who said, through envy of the miracles they had witnessed; Behold, the whole world hath gone after Him. [John 12, 19] They were beholding the signs, perceiving the miracles performed by His ministers, and foreseeing, that the whole world was now about to follow the preaching of the faith; and yet, the more the Holy Spirit had filled the world, the more firmly was the malice of envy binding their minds. The water therefore had been turned into ice, when sluggish Judaea was still remaining in envy, as the whole world was going after God. But because Divine Power was sufficient to soften the hardness even of such great cruelty, and to melt the hearts of unbelievers to love Him, after this ice it is immediately well subjoined;

And the waters are again poured forth abundantly.




53. For the Lord has in truth poured forth the waters abundantly, after this ice; for after He had endured the hardness of the Jews, even unto death, He immediately melted their hearts from the hardness of unbelief, by breathing on them the love of Himself; in order that they might afterwards run the more eagerly to obey Him, the more obstinately they had before resisted His commands. Whence it is well said by a certain wise man, As ice in fair weather, so shall thy sins be melted away. [Ecclus. 3, 15] The Prophet had desired to be freed from the ice of this torpor, when saying, Turn our captivity, O Lord, as the stream in the South. [Ps. 126, 4] Of these waters, that is, of people flocking together to the Lord, it is said again, He will send forth His word, and will melt them: His breath will blow, and the waters will flow. [Ps. 147, 18] Waters run from ice, because many great preachers are made out of hard persecutors. Ice therefore melts in water, when the numbness of inward cold is changed into the irrigation of preaching. Was not Paul ice, who when going to Damascus, after he had received letters, was seeking to check the seeds of the word of God, which had been scattered in the heart of the faithful, as if in the earth that they might not spring up to the perfection of good deeds? [Acts 9, 2] But this ice returned in water; because he afterwards watered with the streams of holy exhortation those whom he before endeavoured to oppress with persecution, in order that there might arise a more abundant harvest of the Elect, in so much 
as the shower of God was watering it from the mouth even of a persecutor. Whence it is well subjoined; 
  Ver. 11. The corn desireth clouds.




54. For what are all the Elect, but the corn of God, to be treasured up in the heavenly garners? Which now bear with the chaff in the threshing of the floor; because in this purification of Holy Church, they endure the contrary habits of the reprobate, till the inward Husbandman separates them with His fan of judgment, and taking His Elect, as grains now cleaned, into the heavenly habitations, consigns the chaff to eternal fires. Whence it is well said by John, Whose fan is in His hand, and He will throughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. [Matt. 3, 12] But this corn, till it attain to the perfection of its fruits, looks for the rains of the clouds, in order to its growth. Because the mind of good men is watered with the words of preachers, lest it should be drained of the moisture of charity by the sun of carnal desires. The heavenly Husbandman had beheld this corn growing up in the world, and desiring the clouds, when He was saying, The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the labourers are few. But pray ye the Lord of the harvest, to send forth labourers into His harvest. [Matt. 9, 37. 38] Those therefore which here are called ‘corn,’ are there called ‘harvest,’ but they who are here called ‘clouds,’ are there called ‘labourers,’ because holy preachers are both clouds and labourers; clouds, namely, by their doctrine, labourers by their life; clouds because they flow into us by their words, labourers, because they cease not to do what they speak. Whence it is subjoined;

And the clouds scatter their light.




55. For, for clouds to scatter their light, is for holy preachers to spread abroad examples of conduct, both by their words and actions. But though they scatter the light of their inward message, yet they do not attain to the conversion of all the hearts which they desire. For it follows;

Ver. 12. Which traverse all things in a circuit, whithersoever the will of their Ruler shall lead them.




56. For holy preachers often wish to exhort some persons, but cannot do so. Some they often wish to avoid, but are yet most urgently compelled, by the impulse of inward instigation, to exhort them. Let us behold the cloud of God, how it is led by the hand of Him Who guides it, even to those things which it does not seek after: and is, again, kept from following its own impulse, by the hand of Him who governs it. When Paul was shaking his raiment, and was wishing to depart from the Corinthians, he surely heard, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace, for I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee, for I have much people in this city. [Acts 18, 9, 10] Again, when he had wished to go to the Thessalonians, he was kept back, and said, I wished to come unto you, even I Paul, both once and again, but satan hindered me. [1 Thess. 2, 18] For satan could not of himself hinder the journeys of so mighty an Apostle; but, while opposing, he ignorantly subserved the design of the secret dispensation; in order that Paul, while he wished to visit other persons, and was unable, might more suitably benefit those, from whom he could not depart. The clouds of God, therefore, traverse all things in a circuit, because they illuminate the ends of the world with the light of preaching. But, because being subject to the Divine will, they cannot fulfil their own wishes, they cannot go any where, except where the will of their Ruler shall lead them. Whence it is still further subjoined;

To every thing which He shall command them upon the face of the earth.




57. For often when they are led by the will of their Ruler, they seek to do one thing, but are disposed otherwise. For they frequently desire to correct some of their hearers in a gentle way, and yet their speech is turned into sharpness. They frequently seek to be severe with others, but yet their vigour is restrained by the spirit of gentleness. As, therefore, they cannot go whither they will, so also they cannot act as they will. For because the inward Judge keeps hold of them, when He sends them, so also does He modify and take them up, when He leads them on, so that sometimes they arrange one thing in their thought, but carry another into effect; they sometimes begin in one way, but end in another. Because then they serve according to that which is commanded them, let it be rightly said, Whithersoever the will of their Ruler shall lead them, to every thing which He shall command them upon the face of the earth. For they find the way of their preaching the more open, in that they are guided to it, not by their own will, but that of their Teacher. Whence it is still further subjoined;

Ver. 13. Whether in one tribe, or in His own land, or in whatsoever place of His mercy He shall order them to be found.




58. The one tribe of Judah is certainly meant, which is mentioned in Holy Scripture plainly and repeatedly above the rest. For it received a special gift above them all, in that it brought forth from itself the flesh of our Redeemer. But all Judaea together is called the land of the Lord. [Deut. 32, 42] Because it then produced to Him the fruit of faith, when the whole world was in error, the Gentiles having fallen under the worship of idols. But the place of the mercy of God is the Gentile world itself, for if the strict Judge were justly to punish its faults, it would never come to the reconciliation of grace. For, when it had no merits before God, it yet received the grace of reconciliation of His sole mercy. Whence it is well said by Paul, And that the Gentiles should glorify God for His mercy. [Rom. 15, 9] Whence it is written again, Which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. [1 Pet. 2, 10] God therefore leads His clouds, either in one tribe, or in His own land, or in whatsoever place of His mercy He shall order them to be found; because at one time He conferred preachers of the Old and New Testament on the tribe of Judah only, and rejected nearly the whole of Israel by the wicked governing of their kings. At one time, He makes these clouds to rain, even in His own land, because He recalled this same people of Israel to His former favour, after correction in captivity. At another, He wished them to shine forth from the place of His mercy; because He made known by holy preachers even to the Gentiles the miracles of His power, in order by His sole mercy to free those from the yoke of error whom His wrath in their innate unbelief was weighing down. But behold, because Eliu has perceived future events by the spirit of prophecy, because he has uttered many sublime truths; the haughty man, wearied with the weight of his pride, is unable to bear the burden of what he says. For he adds at once in a boastful manner,

Ver. 14. Hearken unto these things, O Job, stand, and consider the wondrous works of God.




59. He saw him to be lying down, as it were, in comparison with himself, whom he directed to stand at the words of so great preaching. Although even by this word, “Listen which he uses, he inflicts a grievous insult upon Job: because, as we have already said of him also before, it is arrogance for an inferior, to wish to extort for himself a hearing from his superior. But although Eliu does not consider to whom he is saying the truths that he utters, yet we, who seek to be instructed by all things, ought carefully to examine the words of his teaching. For perhaps it is said with great skill in virtue, Stand, and consider the wondrous works of God. For there are some who consider the wondrous works of God, but lying down; because they do not follow and admire the power of His doings. For to ‘stand,’ is to act uprightly. Whence also it is said by Paul, Let him that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall. [1 Cor. 10, 12] And they often indeed admire the judgments of heaven, love the announcements of their heavenly country, when they hear them, are astounded at the wondrous operations of His inward ordaining, but yet neglect to attain to these words by their love and their lives. They then lie, and consider the wondrous works of God, who think of God’s power in their understanding, but do not love it in their lives. They turn indeed their eyes in consideration, by thinking on them, but yet do not raise themselves from the earth by their intention. Whence it is well said in reproach of Balaam, Who falling, hath his eyes open. [Numb. 24, 4] For he had said many things of the coming of the Redeemer, and was foreseeing what things were to come to pass in the last days. But yet he was unwilling to rise up to Him in his life, Whom by foreseeing he announced. He was lying then, and had his eyes open, when prophecy was directing his mind to heavenly things, and covetousness was confining it to earth. He was lying and had his eyes open, because he was able to behold Him from above, Whom, grovelling below, he loved not. Eliu therefore, who did not believe that blessed Job had maintained in his life that, which he professed, says, as if advising him, Stand, and consider the wondrous works of God. He still further examines him as to future events, and adds, as if humbling him for his ignorance;

Ver. 15. Dost thou know when God commanded the rains to shew forth the light of His clouds?




60. If ‘clouds’ are holy preachers, the rains from the clouds are the words of their preaching. But when clouds fly through the air, unless rain descends from above, we know not what an immensity of waters they carry. Unless the glittering sun breaks forth amidst the rain, we cannot understand, what brightness also is concealed within them. Because doubtless if holy preachers are silent, and shew not by their words, how great is the brightness of heavenly hope, which they bear in their hearts, they seem to be like other men, or far more despicable. But when they have begun to lay open by their preaching, what is the reward of the heavenly country, which they possess within; when, oppressed by persecution, they make known in what a height of virtue they have made progress; when, despised in outward appearance, they point out by their words what makes them feared; the rains themselves, which pour from the clouds, shew us the light of these very clouds. For we learn by the words of preachers to reverence in them, with great humility, the brightness of life which they seek after. Paul was doubtless displaying this light to his disciples, when he said, That ye may know, what is the hope of His calling, what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe. [Eph. l, 18. 19.] This light the Corinthians had known by the words of his writings, as by drops of rain, when they said, His letters are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible. [2 Cor. 10, 10] But holy preachers frequently desire to display themselves, in order to do good, but yet are unable: they frequently desire to be concealed, in order to be quiet, and are not permitted. No one therefore knows when the rains shew the light of the clouds, because no one comprehends when God grants the virtue of preaching, that the glory of the preachers may shine forth. He says therefore, Dost thou know, when God commanded the rains, to shew forth the light of His clouds? As if he said plainly, If thou now beholdest preachers about to come to the world, dost thou understand, when God urges them on to preach, by filling them with His Holy Spirit, or in what way He makes known their brightness to the world? Whence it is also fitly subjoined,

Ver. 16. Dost thou know the mighty paths of the clouds, and their perfect knowledge?




61. These clouds have most subtle paths, namely, the ways of holy preaching. For narrow is the gate, which leadeth unto life. [Matt. 7, 14] They confine then those by paths, who do not depart from the track of their purpose by wandering through the wide desires of the world. For the strict censure of holy living is not a broad way, but a path, in which each preacher is studiously confined: because he is carefully hemmed in by the defence of precepts. Is it not, as it were, a kind of narrowness of way to live indeed in this world, but to have no desires for this world, not to seek for another’s goods, not to retain one’s own, to despise the praises of the world, to love reproaches for God’s sake, to avoid glory, to court contempt, to despise flatterers, to honour our despisers, to banish from our hearts the wrongs of those who hurt us, and to retain towards them the unchangeable grace of affection in the heart? All which namely are paths, but paths of greatness. For the narrower they are in this life, for guarding our conduct, the more are they enlarged to greater width in eternal retribution. Whence also it is well subjoined,

And their perfect knowledge.


62. For it is indeed perfect wisdom, for a man to do all these things with anxious care, and to know that he is nothing in his own deserts. Whence even the clouds themselves are instructed in this perfect wisdom, when it is said to them by the voice of Truth; When ye have done all these things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants. [Luke 17, 10] It is perfect wisdom to know all things, and yet in a certain way to be ignorant of one’s knowledge; by which though we already know the precepts of God, though we are now weighing with anxious attention the power of His words, though we are doing those things, which we believe we have understood; yet we still know not with what strictness of examination these deeds will hereafter be enquired into, nor do we as yet behold the face of God, nor see His hidden counsels. How great then is our knowledge; which, as long as it is pressed down with the weight of mortality, is darkened by the very mist of its own uncertainty? Of which it is well said by Paul, He who thinketh that he knoweth any thing, knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know. [1 Cor. 8, 2] While we live, therefore, in this world, we then know perfectly what ought to be known, when, as we make progress in wisdom, we learn that we know nothing perfectly. He says therefore, Dost thou know the mighty paths of the clouds, and their perfect knowledge? As if he said openly, Dost thou now behold the lofty acts of preachers, who after raising themselves on high by their wisdom, humbly bow themselves down through knowledge of their ignorance? But since it is caused by the gift of the Holy Spirit alone, that the heart of man is perfectly informed not merely of its knowledge, but also of its ignorance; and that it glows with fervent love for things above, while it considers here below that its knowledge is of less worth, it is rightly subjoined,

Ver. 17. Are not thy garments warm, when the earth hath been blown upon by the south wind?




63. We have often said already that blessed Job stands for a type of Holy Church. But all they, who are joined to it by the unity of the Faith, are the garments of the Church. Of which the Lord says to the same Church by the Prophet, As I live, thou shall be clothed with all these, as with an ornament. [Is. 49, 18] But by the south wind, which is doubtless warm, is designated, not improperly, the Holy Spirit, for when any one is touched by It, he is freed from the torpor of his iniquity. Whence it is well said in the Song of Songs, Arise, O north wind, and come thou south, blow upon my garden, and let its sweet spices flow out. [Cant. 4, 16] For the north wind is ordered to arise, in order, doubtless, that the opposing spirit, who binds the hearts of mortals, may fly away. For the south wind comes, and blows through the garden, that its sweet spices may flow abroad; because, while the mind of man is filled by the coming of the Holy Spirit, a notion of their virtues is soon scattered abroad from it, that the tongue of the Saints, like a garden which is blown upon by the south wind, may now justly say, We are unto God a sweet odour of Christ. [2 Cor. 2, 15] The garments, therefore, of Holy Church are warm, while the earth is breathed upon by the south wind; because they, who cling to her by faith, glow with fervent zeal of charity, while their mind is streamed through by the breath of the Holy Spirit. But nothing hinders this being understood of this same blessed Job; because we so speak of these things in the Church in general terms, as yet specially to confine them to its separate members.


64. For every one; who lives uprightly, and has been wont also to teach this to others, has, as it were, as many garments, as the hearers who cling to him in agreement. For it is the nature of garments, that they cannot be warm of themselves; but that, when applied to a living body, they cover the exuding pores of the limbs, they keep back the heat which flows forth from within, and from this heat they doubtless become warm: but when they have become warm, by retaining the heat they have received, they return it to the body. What then is signified by garments adhering to the living body, but the life of disciples closely united to teachers who live well? Which receives, as it were, warmth through the pores; because it is kindled with the love of God, both by the example of action, and the impulse of exhortation. Which expels, as it were, its own cold, when it departs from its former iniquity; retains the warmth it has received, because it gains strength in that warmth which it has obtained from preaching. But when holy preachers perceive that their hearers are advancing towards the love of God, they themselves glow the more in power of teaching: and from seeing that they are burning and glowing for the highest objects, they are themselves more mightily kindled to announce the good things of the heavenly country. And if at any time, because they are still passing this corruptible life of human infirmity, they are assaulted by any fault, however slightly, in deed, word, or thought, they look at the progress of their disciples, and are ashamed of being themselves blameable, even in the smallest matters: lest they should by chance set a crooked example to those, whom they are calling to the rule of inward rectitude by the voice of preaching. When hearers then are kindled by the word of their teachers, garments, as it were, become warm from a living body. But when the conduct of the teachers also is improving, from the progress of their hearers, the heat returns, as it were, to the body from the garments which have been warmed. But let not the teachers attribute it to themselves, that they see their hearers advancing to the highest things, through their exhortation: because, if the Holy Spirit fill not their hearts, the voice of teachers sounds in vain to the bodily ears. For teachers can shape their voice without, but cannot impress it within; For neither is he who planteth any thing, neither he that watereth, but God Who giveth the increase. [1 Cor. 3, 7] Let it be said then, Are not thy garments warm, when the earth hath been blown upon by the south wind? Because, namely, hearers, who now adhere to teachers who live aright, receive the warmth of heavenly love, when they are roused by the breath of the Holy Spirit. As if he were saving plainly to blessed Job; Thou in vain attributest it to thyself, if thou beholdest that any have made progress in virtue by thy means; because these, whom thou supposest to have become warm through thee, would be still remaining cold, in their own insensibility, if the warmth of the Holy Spirit did not touch them. But after he spake these things forcibly, he immediately subjoins words of derision, being influenced with levity by arrogance, saying,

Ver. 18. Thou perchance madest with Him the heavens, which are most solid, as if cast in brass.




65. By ‘heavens,’ those who are created in the heavens, the angelic spirits, can be designated. Whence also we are instructed by the voice of Truth to say in our Prayer, Thy will be done as in heaven, so in earth. [Matt. 6, 10] That the will of God may be doubtless observed in all things even by human infirmity, as it is done by the higher creation. Of whom it is well said, They are most solid, as if cast in brass. For it is of the nature of brass, that it is difficult to be consumed by rust. And the angelic powers, which stood fixed in Divine love, when the proud angels fell, received this, as their reward of retribution, that they are no longer consumed by any rust of sin stealing upon them, that they continue in the contemplation of their Creator, without end to their felicity, and exist with eternal stability, in that which they were created. Which the very words of the history in Moses concerning the origin of the world will attest, when both the heaven is said to have been first made, and this is after wards called the firmament. [Gen. l, 17] Because, namely, the nature of Angels was both first fashioned more subtilly, in the regions above, and was afterwards still more wonderfully strengthened, that it might never fall. But, as we have often said, by the ‘heavens’ can be expressed the minds of the Elect, raised up by inward love from all earthly pollutions. For though, in the body, they dwell below, yet, because they cleave in their heart, even now, to the highest objects, they truly say, Our conversation is in heaven. [Phil. 3, 20] Who are most solid, as if cast in brass, because they are not wasted away from the integrity of their original strength, by any rust of changeableness. To whom, boldly bearing up against adversities, it is said by the voice of their Maker, Ye are My friends, which have continued with Me in My temptations. [John 15, 14; Luke 22, 28] But though this learned and haughty one, when endeavouring to make a jest of this holy man, blends noble sayings with his derision, yet he ever falls back, from those noble sayings, into empty words. For he again subjoins deridingly,

Ver. 19. Shew us what to say to Him; for we in truth are involved in darkness.


66. As if He said; Thou, who enjoyest the great light of wisdom, oughtest to teach us, who are involved in the darkness of ignorance. But soon starting away from his derision, he subjoins contemptuously;

Ver. 20. Who will tell Him the things which I say?


As if he plainly said; The unheard truths which I declare to Him, from an acute sense of His praises, who can repeat, even after he has heard them? But because, when learning and arrogance contend together in the habitation of the same mind, there sounds forth from the mouth of the speaker not merely levity of behaviour, but also gravity of sentiment; after Eliu had been puffed up in levity by arrogance, saying, Who will tell Him the things which I say? he presently subjoined, through his learning,

Even if a man shall speak, he shall he swallowed up.




67. Every thing which devours any thing, draws it inwards, and conceals it from the eyes of beholders, and hurries into the deep an object which could be seen on the surface. A man, therefore, when he is silent about God, seems to be something on account of the reason with which he was made. But if he begins to speak about God, it is at once shewn how nought he is; because he is devoured by the immensity of His greatness, and is hurried, as it were, into the deep, and is concealed. For wishing to speak of the Ineffable, he is swallowed up by the narrowness of his own ignorance. For flesh speaks of the Spirit, the circumscribed spirit of the Uncircumscribed, the creature of the Creator, the temporal of the Eternal, the mutable of the Immutable, the mortal of the Quickener. And since, being placed in darkness, he knows not the inward light, as it really is, a man wishing to discourse of eternity, speaks as a blind man of the light. If then a man shall speak, he shall be swallowed up: because if a man wishes to speak of eternity as it is, he takes away also from himself even the sense he has of it when silent. But, behold! eternity then became truly known to men, when It shewed Itself to them by assuming man’s nature. But because this had not yet been revealed, it is rightly subjoined of the same men; 

Ver. 21. But now they see not the light.




68. Of which light doubtless it is said even by the Prophet, The people which was sitting in darkness, saw a great light. [Is. 9, 2] But he shews how this light is seen by men, when he immediately adds;

The air will suddenly be gathered into clouds.


For the air is so diffused by its own tenuity, as not to be consolidated with any firmness. But clouds are firmer, the denser they are. What then is designated by the ‘air,’ but the minds of worldly men, which, given up to the countless desires of this life, are, being fluid, scattered hither and thither like the air? But the air is collected into clouds, when unstable minds are, by the grace of the Divine regard, strengthened with the solidity of virtue, in order that, by thinking of what is right, they may gather themselves within the bosom of their heart, and may not melt away in empty thoughts.


69. Peter had been air, when the occupation of fishing for the life of the flesh used, as a transient breeze to agitate him, distracted still with earthly desires. The Apostles had been air, who had already learned exalted truths by the Law, but who as yet savoured not of strength by faith. But the air was suddenly gathered into clouds, because, through the look of divine grace, the unstable hearts of fishermen were turned into the solidity of preachers, in order that their infirm thoughts might become firm, by thinking boldly, that they might hold like clouds the waters of wisdom, and irrigate with the words of their preaching the earth lying beneath; and that, when this ministry was completed, they might return to the secret abodes of heaven, and attain, when their labour was passed, to eternal rest. Whence it is presently well subjoined;

And the wind passing over will drive them away.




70. For the wind that passes over is the present life. The wind then passes over, and drives the clouds away; because mortal life, passing along, conceals holy preachers from our bodily eyes. The passing wind drives away the clouds: because the onward course of temporal life withdraws the Apostles from the flesh, and conceals them, from the surface of the earth, in secret rest, as if in the centre of the heavens. But because they cease not to preach even to their death, and pass through the space of this present life, like clouds, with the shower of their words, he adds what is wrought by their labours in Holy Church, when he immediately subjoins;

Ver. 22. Gold will come from the north.




71. What is designated by the ‘north,’ but the Gentile world, fast bound in the cold of sin? Which he held under the yoke of his tyranny, who proudly said, I will sit in the mount of the covenant, in the sides of the north, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, I will be like the Most High. [Is. 14, 13. 14.] And what is expressed by ‘gold,’ but faithful souls? Of which it is said by Jeremiah, How is the gold become dim? the finest colour is changed? [Lam. 4, 1] For he lamented that the gold was dimmed, because he beheld in some persons the brightness of innocence changed into the blackness of sin. Gold, therefore, is said to come from the north; because through the favour of the grace of the Redeemer, the life of the faithful, which is precious before God, is increased within Holy Church, from the Gentile world, which had been long frozen in the torpor of unbelief. For gold comes from the north, when the true faith in God shines forth from the very worshippers of idols. But when the Gentiles were converted to the faith, the Jewish people gainsays them; and scorns to admit to the recompense of eternal rewards, those who had been so long worshippers of idols. Whence it is said to Peter, after the conversion of the Gentiles, Wherefore wentest thou in, to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them? [Acts 11, 3] In contradiction to which, the Lord rightly says by Isaiah, I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Keep not back. [Is. 43, 6] For as the Gentile world is signified by the ‘north,’ so is the Jewish People signified by the ‘south,’ which was warmed, as it were, by the mid-day sun, because when our Redeemer appeared in the flesh, it first received the warmth of faith. Give up, then, is said to the north, when the Gentile world is ordered to offer to God the gifts of its faith. But the south is commanded not to keep back, because the Hebrews who stood firm in the faith were ordered not to condemn and reject the life of the Gentiles. Whence here also, because it was said, Gold cometh from the north; it is fitly subjoined;

And from God fearful praise.




72. For fearful praise is said to come from God, as if it were said to come from those who are on the side of God, that is, the faithful. When gold then comes from the north, fearful praise proceeds from God; because, while the Gentiles offered the brightness of their faith, the multitude of the faithful Hebrews praised with fear the Divine judgments. But how gold comes from the north, and how fearful praise bursts forth from those who are under God, the sacred history itself informs us. For it is written, Cornelius, a centurion of the band, which is called Italian, a religious man, and fearing God with all his house, giving much alms to the people, and praying to God always, saw in a vision manifestly, about the ninth hour of the day, an Angel of God coming in to him, saying unto him, Cornelius. But he looking on him, being seized with fear, said, Who art thou, Lord? But he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms have come up as a memorial in the sight of God. [Acts 10, 1-4] Gold therefore came from the north, when prayer with alms went up from the Gentiles in the sight of God. But when Peter had related to the brethren, either how Cornelius had seen an Angel, or he himself had seen a linen cloth let down from heaven to him with beasts, and creeping things and birds, or how the Holy Spirit had bedewed the hearts of the Gentiles, even before Baptism, [Acts 11, 5-17] Who had never come into the minds of the Jews, excepting after the water of Baptism, it is immediately written, When they heard these things they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, God hath therefore granted to the Gentiles also repentance unto life. [ib. 18.] The multitude therefore of the faithful, which, on the salvation of the Gentiles, restrained itself from its murmurs, by admiring the gifts of heavenly grace offered fearful praise to God. Whence Peter himself also wonders, saying, I have found in truth, that God is no acceptor of persons. [Acts 10, 34]


73. But when the Gentiles receive the faith, why is fearful praise said to come from those who are already believers, when it ought to come from them, joyful rather than fearful? But fearful praise came from the Hebrews who already believed, on the conversion of the Gentiles, doubtless, because Judaea was justly rejected, while the Gentiles were called in mercy; and feared the loss of its own rejection, while it beheld the gain of the others’ calling. Whence we also, when we suddenly behold the wicked raised up to an unexpected eminence of life, daily rejoice with fear under the secret judgments of God, lest God should desert by His secret judgments some who are counted worthy, Who calls thereby those to Himself who are considered unworthy. It follows,

Ver. 23. We cannot worthily find Him out.




74. Even if we can now find Him out, yet not worthily. For whatever we perceive in Him, is of faith, and not of sight. But yet he adds that which he considers he has found, saying;

He is great in power, and judgment, and justice, and cannot be spoken of.


For He is great in power, because He overcomes the powerful adversary, and taking from his house the vessels of dishonour, changes them into vessels of mercy. [Matt. 12, 29] Great in judgment; because, though He here brings down His Elect by adversity, yet He raises them at last in the glory of eternal prosperity. Great in justice: for though He here bears long with the reprobate, yet He at last condemns them for ever. But it is well subjoined; And cannot be spoken of. For if He cannot worthily be thought of, how much less can He be spoken of? But we speak of Him far better, in a measure, if we hold our peace with admiration through fear of thinking upon Him. It follows,

Ver. 24. Therefore men will fear Him, and all who seem to themselves to be wise, will not dare to contemplate Him.




75. Eliu in this place calls those who are strong of understanding ‘men.’ [‘viros’] And we must note that he says not, ‘And wise men will not dare to contemplate Him,’ but, They who seem to themselves to be wise. By which words, namely, he implies those who are skilful, but arrogant. Eliu, therefore, while he has many forcible sentiments, has touched himself in the close of his speech. For when men, who are learned and arrogant, do not live rightly, but are compelled by the force of doctrine to say right things, they become in a measure the heralds of their own condemnation, because while they enforce in their preaching that which they scorn to do, they proclaim with their own voices that they are condemned. Against whom it is well said by the Psalmist, They were turned into a crooked bow. [Ps. 78, 57] For a crooked bow strikes the very person, by whom it is aimed : but the tongues of arrogant men are in their sayings like a crooked bow ; be- cause when they speak against pride, they fix their arrows in their own makers. Whence we must watch with the utmost care, lest the wisdom we receive should take away the light of humility, when it illuminates the darkness of ignorance, and should not any longer be wisdom. [Acts 10, 1-4] For though it shines forth in might of speech, yet it obscures the heart of the speaker with a covering of pride.


76. For some goods are of the highest, others of a mixed, kind. The highest goods are faith, hope, charity. Which, when they are really possessed, cannot be turned into evil. But prophecy, doctrine, the power of healing, and the rest, are goods of a mixed nature. For they are so placed between each extreme, that at one time the heavenly country only, and at another earthly glory, is sought by their means. We term these, then, virtues of a mixed nature, which we turn to whatever object our mind wishes for; which the mind can use when possessed, just as it does worldly riches. For through earthly riches, some pride themselves in boastful ostentation, others perform offices of mercy upon their indigent neighbours. When outward praise then is sought for by doctrine and prophecy, the height of earthly glory is aimed at, as if by bodily riches. But when doctrine and prophecy are employed for gaining souls, the riches we have received are distributed as it were to our needy brethren. Because then the mind, through want of care, keeps itself aloof from the hand of the Giver, by means of those very gifts which it boasts of possessing, we must with vigilant forethought take care, that our vices are first overcome, and our gifts afterwards secured with circumspection. For if the mind, when amongst them, incautiously forsakes itself, it is not assisted and supported by them, but is rejected, as if already repaid for its former labours. Whence also it happens, that when the virtue we possess is employed in the service of transitory praise, it is no longer virtue, because it takes service with vice. For since humility is the source of virtue, that virtue truly shoots up in us, which remains firm in its proper root, that is, in humility. For if it is torn from it, it doubtless withers away, because it loses the moisture of charity, which quickens it within.


77. But because secret pride of heart is reproved by this, which Eliu says, All who seem to themselves to be wise will not dare to contemplate Him; it seems good to observe what great gifts of virtues David had obtained, and in all these with how firm a humility he maintained himself. For whom would it not puff up, to break the mouths of lions; to rend asunder the arms of bears; to be chosen, when his elder brethren had been despised; to be anointed to the government of the kingdom, when the King had been rejected; to slay with a single stone Goliah who was dreaded by all; to bring back, after the destruction of the aliens, the numerous foreskins proposed by the King; to receive at last the promised kingdom, and to possess the whole people of Israel without any contradiction? And yet, when he brings back the Ark of God to Jerusalem, he dances before the Ark, mingled with the people, as though forgetful that he had been preferred to them all. And because, as is believed, it had been the custom of the common people to dance before the Ark, the king wheels round in the dance, in service to God. Behold how he whom the Lord preferred specially above all, contemns himself beneath the Lord, both by equalling himself with the least, and by displaying abject behaviour. The power of his kingdom is not recalled to his memory; he fears not to be vile in the eyes of his people, by dancing; he remembers not, before the Ark of Him Who had given him honour, that he had been preferred in honour above the rest. Before God he performed even the extremest vilenesses, in order to strengthen, by his humility, the bold deeds he had performed in the sight of men. What is thought by others of his doings, I know not; I am more surprised at David dancing, than fighting. For by fighting he subdued his enemies; but by dancing before the Lord he overcame himself. And when Michal, the daughter of Saul, still mad with pride at her royal descent, despised him when humbled, saying, How glorious was the king of Israel to-day, uncovering himself before the handmaids of his servants, and made himself naked, as though one of the buffoons were naked: [2 Sam. 6, 20] she immediately heard, As the Lord liveth, I will play before Lord, Who hath chosen me rather than thy father. [ibid. 21] And a little after he says, And I will play, and I will become more vile than I have been, and I will be humble in mine own eyes. [ibid. 22] As if he plainly said, I seek to become vile before men, because I seek to keep myself noble before the Lord, through my humility.


78. But there are some who think humbly of themselves; because, when placed in honour, they consider that they are nothing but dust and ashes; but yet they shrink from appearing contemptible before men, and, contrary to what they think of themselves within, they cover themselves, as it were, with a rigid cloak of beauty without. And there are some who seek to appear vile before men, and contemn every thing that they are, by exhibiting themselves as lowly; but they are yet puffed up in themselves within, as if by the very merit of the mean look they have displayed; and they are the more elated in their heart, the more they seemingly suppress pride. But both these warrings of the one sin of pride, David detected with great circumspection, overcame with wonderful virtue. For he teaches that, though thinking humbly of himself within, he seeks not honour from without, saying, I will play, and I will become more vile. And since he does not swell with pride within, because he made himself vile without, he adds, And I will be humble in mine own eyes. As if he said, Such as in self-contempt I represent myself without, such also do I keep myself within. What then should they do, whom teaching elates, if David knew that our Redeemer was to come from his flesh, and announced His joys in prophecy, and yet kept down in himself the neck of his heart, by the strong heel of discretion, saying, And I will be humble in mine own eyes?


79. It is well said therefore by Eliu, Therefore men will fear Him, and all who seem to themselves to be wise will not dare to contemplate Him. For they who seem to themselves to be wise, cannot contemplate the wisdom of God; because they are the more removed from His light, the more they are not humble in themselves. Because while the swelling of pride increases in their minds, it closes the eye of contemplation, and by considering that they outshine others, they thence deprive themselves of the light of truth. If, therefore, we seek to be truly wise, and to contemplate Wisdom Itself, let us humbly acknowledge ourselves to be fools. Let us give up hurtful wisdom, let us learn praiseworthy folly. For hence it is written, God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. [1 Cor. l, 27] Hence again it is said, If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. [ib. 3,18] Hence the words of the Gospel history attest, that when Zaccheus could see nothing for the crowd, he ascended a sycamore tree, to see the Lord as He passed by. [Luke 19, 4] For the barren [lit. ‘foolish’] fig is called a sycamore. Zaccheus therefore, being small of stature, ascended a sycamore, and saw the Lord, because they who humbly choose the foolishness of the world, do themselves minutely contemplate the wisdom of God. For the crowd hinders smallness of stature from beholding the Lord, because the tumult of worldly cares keeps the infirmity of the human mind from looking at the light of truth. But we prudently ascend a sycamore, if we carefully maintain in our mind that foolishness which is commanded by God. For what is more foolish in this world, than not to seek for what we have lost; to give up our possessions to the spoilers, to requite no wrong for the wrongs we have received, nay more, to exhibit patience, when other wrongs have been added? For the Lord commands us, as it were, to ascend a sycamore, when He says, Of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again; [ib. 6, 30] and again, If any man smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. [Matt. 5, 39] The Lord is seen, as He passes along, by means of the sycamore, because though the wisdom of God is not yet steadily beheld, as it really is, by this wise folly, yet it is seen by the light of contemplation, as though passing by us. But they, who seem to themselves to be wise, according to the words of Eliu, cannot see it; for, hurried away in the haughty crowd of their thoughts, they have not yet found a sycamore, in order to behold the Lord.