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Sets forth an exposition of the fifteenth, and remaining verses of the fortieth chapter, and also of the first twelve verses of the forty-first chapter: where the various arts of the devil are exposed, and predestination of free grace is taught, and reconciled with free will.



1. The proud become the more familiarly devoted to the ancient enemy, who is described by the voice of the Lord, under the name Behemoth, the higher they swell with pride within, at the successes of this life. For their pride increases with their distinction, but with their pride is added care; the mind is distracted hither and thither, because their desires also increase together with their possessions. And when they bring forth thoughts without number as the hay of the field, they feed the hunger of this Behemoth with these thoughts, as if with food which he longed for. Whence it is now rightly said;

Ver. 15. The mountains bring him forth grass. [E.V. 20]




2. In Holy Scripture, when ‘mountain’ is put in the singular number, there is designated sometimes the Incarnate Lord, sometimes Holy Church, sometimes the covenant of God, sometimes the apostate angel, sometimes any particular heretic. But when ‘mountains’ are named in the plural number, there is expressed sometimes the high estate of Apostles and Prophets, but sometimes the pride of worldly powers. For a mountain designates the Lord, as it is written, And in the last days the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains. [Is. 2, 2] For the mountain on the top of the mountains is the Incarnate Lord, transcending the loftiness of Prophets. Again, by a mountain is designated Holy Church, as it is written, They that trust in the Lord are as mount Sion. [Ps. 125, 1] For Sion means looking out, and by this looking out is typified the Church contemplating God. Again, by a mountain is expressed the covenant of God, as Habakkuk says, God will come from Libanus, and the Holy One from the shady and thick mountain. [Hab. 3, 3] For He Who by the pages of His covenant has promised that He will come, came, as it were, from that by which He held Himself, as it were, under a promise. And this covenant is well said to be a shady and thick mountain, because it is darkened by the thick obscurities of allegories. Again, by a mountain is designated the apostate angel, as is said to preachers concerning the ancient enemy under the character of the king of Babylon, Lift ye up a banner upon the gloomy mountain. For holy preachers lift up a banner above the gloomy mountain, when they exalt the virtue of the cross against the pride of Satan, which is frequently concealed under the mist of hypocrisy. Again, by a mountain any kind of heretic is expressed, as the Psalmist says with the voice of the Church, In the Lord put I my trust: how say ye to my soul, Pass over as a sparrow to the mountain? [Ps. 11, 1] For when a faithful soul is bidden to abandon unity, and to trust in the swelling doctrine of an heretical preacher, it is persuaded, as it were, to forsake the Lord, and to migrate to the mountain. Again, by mountains is designated the loftiness of Apostles and Prophets, as it is written, Thy righteousness is like the mountains of God. [Ps. 36, 6] And it is said by the voice of Paul, That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. [2 Cor. 5, 21] Or as the Psalmist again says by the voice of the Church in hope, I have lifted up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence will come my help. [Ps. 121, 1] Again, by mountains is expressed the pride of secular powers, of whom the Psalmist says, The hills melted like wax from the presence of the Lord: [Ps. 97, 5] because many, who had before been swollen up with stubborn pride, were melted through penitence with great fear, when God was manifested in the flesh. Or as the same Prophet says again, They go up, mountains and go down, plains. [Ps. 104, 8] For many persecutors of the Lord come against Him in pride, but return from Him in humility. And these go up, mountains, by the swelling of power; but come down, plains, namely, by becoming level, through acknowledgment of sin.


3. But because some continue in the height of their pride, and disdain to bend humbly to the Divine commands, and that, because they cease not to think and perpetrate wickedness according to the desire of the ancient enemy; it is rightly said of Behemoth in this place; The mountains bring him forth grass. For the proud men of the world bring forth grass to this Behemoth, because they refresh him by that which they work wickedly. They bring forth grass to this Behemoth, because they offer him their unstable and treacherous pleasures. For men, says the Apostle, shall be lovers of their own selves. [2 Tim. 3, 2] And he summed up their description, saying; Lovers of pleasures more than of God. [ib. 4] What then is the grass of the mountains, except unstable pleasure, which is begotten from the heart of the proud? For if they did not despise God in their pride, they would never commit so many wantonnesses [‘lubrica’] in their lasciviousness, by which grass this Behemoth is doubtless fed; because by hungering in them after the punishment of eternal death, he is pampered with their evil habits. For the proud of this world, even if ever, hindered by the course of God’s dispensation, they desist from fulfilling their wicked works, yet multiply wickednesses in thought; at one time to make themselves appear superior to others in wealth and honour; at another, to exercise this very power in endeavouring to injure others; at another, to melt away in light deeds and pleasures, when influenced by wanton emotions. For since they never think of doing right, but always wrong, things, from the favours they have received from God, what else do they but fight against God with His own gifts? Because then this Behemoth always discerns in the minds of the proud his own desires, he finds, as it were, grass on the mountains, with which he replenishes and swells the belly of his malice. But it is well subjoined,

All the beasts of the field will play there.




4. What are designated by ‘beasts’ but unclean spirits, what by the ‘field,’ but the present world? Whence it is said against Ephraim, of the chief of the malignant spirits himself; The beasts of the field shall tear them. [Hos. 13, 8] Or as Isaiah says; No evil beast shall go up thereon. [Is. 35, 9] But that the world is understood by the word field, the word of the Lord witnesses in the Gospel, which says, But the field is the world. [Matt. 13, 38] The beasts of the field, then, play in the grass of the mountains, because in this world the devils, who have been cast forth from above, delight in the evil doings of the proud. The beasts play in the grass, when the reprobate spirits draw away the hearts of men into unlawful thoughts. Is it not sport for evil spirits, to deceive at one time by false promises the minds of men which were made after the image of God, at another to make mock at them with empty terrors, at another to urge upon them transitory pleasures as if lasting, at another to make light of lasting punishments as if transitory? He had doubtless feared being the sport of these beasts, who said, O my God, I trust in Thee, let me not be ashamed, let not mine enemies make a jest of me. [Ps. 25, 2] Because then the heart of the proud is overcome by every sin, so as to be ready for every malignant spirit which assails it with evil thoughts, it is rightly said of the grass of the mountains, All the beasts of the field will play there. For since the proud pass over no wickedness in their thoughts, there is no beast of the field which is not satiated with the grass of these mountains. For even if at any time they avoid the lust of the flesh, yet they commit the sin of inward lust by boasting of their very chastity. If at any time they do not covetously grasp at any thing without them, they are by no means free from the allurement of avarice; for though they are not eager after any thing, yet they strive to grasp at praise, for their forbearance, from human applause. The mountains, therefore, bring forth grass for this Behemoth, and all the beasts of the field play there, because every malignant spirit feeds at greater liberty in the heart of the proud, in proportion as every sin is generated from pride. But since we have heard what this Behemoth feeds on, we must now needs hear where it is that he rests meanwhile through his evil desire. It follows,

Ver. 16. He sleepeth under the shadow, in the covert of the reed, in moist places. [E.V. 21]




5. Overshadowing is sometimes used in Holy Scripture for the Incarnation of the Lord, or the cooling of the mind from the heat of carnal thoughts; whence by the expression ‘shadow’ this cooling of the heart in consequence of heavenly protection is usually spoken of. But sometimes ‘shadow’ is taken to mean the numbness of the frozen minds when charity departs. For that the Incarnation of the Lord is signified by the term overshadowing, still preserving the truth of the history, the word of the Angel attests, who says to Mary, The Power of the Highest shall overshadow thee. [Luke 1, 35] For because a shadow is caused in no other way than by a light and a body, the Power of the Highest overshadowed her, because the incorporeal Light assumed a body in her womb. By which overshadowing in truth she received in herself every refreshment of mind. Again, by ‘shadow’ is expressed the refreshment of the heart by reason of heavenly protection, as the Psalmist says, Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. [Ps. 17, 8] Or as the Bride in the Song of Songs, having waited for the coming of the Bridegroom, announces, saying, I sat down under the shadow of Him, Whom I had longed for. [Cant. 2, 3] As if she said, I rested under the protection of His coming from the heat of carnal desires. Again, by ‘shadow’ is expressed the numbness of the frozen mind, when charity departs, as is said of sinful man, that he sought the shadow. For man, flying from the warmth of charity, has forsaken the sun of truth, and hid himself under the shade of inward cold. Whence it is said by the voice of the same Truth, Iniquity shall abound, and the love of many shall wax cold. [Matt. 24, 12] Whence the first man, after his sin, is found hid amidst the trees of paradise at the cool after midday [‘ad auram’]. [Gen. 3, 8] For since he had lost the midday warmth of charity, he was already benumbed beneath the shadow of sin, as if under the cold of the air.


6. Because then this Behemoth finds a kind of rest in those, whom he chills by withdrawing from the light of the true Sun, he is said to sleep under the shadow. But sometimes by ‘shadow,’ if used with the addition of the word ‘death,’ is expressed either the death of the flesh, or any reprobates, who by their eagerness in evil doing imitate the darkness of the ancient enemy. Whence it is said by the Psalmist with the voice of the Martyrs; Thou hast humbled us in the place of affliction, and the shadow of death hath covered us. [Ps. 44, 19] For the shadow of death covers the Elect of God, when the death of the flesh, which is the image of eternal death, cuts them off from this life; because as that separates the soul from God, so does this separate the body from the soul. Or certainly the shadow of death covers them, because it is written of the ancient enemy, His name was death. [Rev. 6, 8] All reprobates are therefore the shadow of death, because they imitate the malice of his wickedness, and shadow forth his image, as it were, when they take in themselves a resemblance of his malice. And they cover the Elect of God, when they gain strength against them for a time, in the cruelty of persecution. But in this place ‘shadow’ is taken for the slumber of wickedness, and this Behemoth slumbers therein, because he watches anxiously against hearts glowing with charity, but lies securely in minds benumbed with cold. For he cannot slumber in the minds of Saints, because, even if he places himself therein for a short moment, the very warmth of heavenly desires wearies him, and he is pricked, as it were, to make him depart, as often as they sigh after eternal things with inmost love. And as many holy thoughts as cry aloud from their minds unto heaven, are as so many voices to rouse him. Whence it is, that, frightened by the arms of good deeds, and smitten with the darts of sighs, he takes his flight, and that, returning to the frozen hearts of the reprobate, he seeks for that shadow of wickedness to occupy in security. And where it is found by him, is shewn by its being immediately subjoined, In the covert of the reeds.


7. In Holy Scripture, by the expression ‘cane’ [‘calamus’] or ‘reed’ [‘arundo’] is sometimes understood the Abiding Word, sometimes the skill of the learned, sometimes the changeableness of the mind, sometimes the brightness of temporal glory. For by ‘cane’ is designated the eternity of the Word, when it is said by the Psalmist with the voice of the Father, My tongue is the reed [‘calamus’] of a swift writer. [Ps. 45, 1] For since that which we speak passes away, but that which we write remains, the tongue of the Father is called the reed of a writer, because from Him is the Word Coeternal with Himself, and begotten without transition [‘transitu’]. Again, by ‘reed’ is expressed the learning of writers, as the Prophet promises concerning Holy Church, saying, In the lairs in which dragons used before to dwell, there will spring up the greenness of the reed, and rush. [Is. 35, 7] For in this sentence, as we said a long way above in this work, by ‘reed’ is expressed the doctrine of writers, by ‘rush’ the freshness of hearers [see Bk. 29, §. 51]. Again, by ‘cane,’ or certainly by ‘reed,’ is expressed changeableness of mind, as is said by the Lord to the crowds of the Jews in praise of John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? a reed shaken with the wind? [Matt. 11, 7] in order, namely, that it should be understood, ‘No.’ For John was not in truth a reed shaken with the wind, because no breath of tongues inclined on different sides his mind, which was made firm by the Holy Spirit. Again, by ‘rush’ or ‘reed’ is expressed the brightness of temporal glory, as is said of the righteous by Wisdom, the righteous shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks in the reed-bed. [Wisd. 3, 7] For He terms a ‘reed-bed’ the life of the worldly, who like reeds, outwardly increase to a height by temporal glory, but are inwardly bereft of the solidity of truth. Whence also the kingdom of the Jews is compared to a reed, when it is said by the Prophet, on the Lord appearing in the truth of the flesh, A bruised reed shall He not break, and the smoking flax shall He not quench. [Is. 2, 43] For what does he set forth by the name ‘reed’ but the temporal kingdom of the Jewish people, brilliant indeed without, but empty within? And because in this people the royal race had already failed, and a stranger was possessing its kingdom, He fitly calls the same kingdom a broken reed. But what is expressed by ‘flax,’ except it be its priesthood, which doubtless wore linen vestments? And because at the coming of the Lord, it had lost the warmth of charity, it was not burning but smoking, having already lost, as it were, the fire of faith. But the Incarnate Lord broke not the bruised reed, and quenched not the smoking flax, because He smote not with the might of judgment the kingdom of Judæa, which had been already well nigh destroyed, and its priesthood which retained not the fire of faith, but endured them with the long-suffering of patience.


8. What else, therefore, is designated in this place by the term ‘reed’ but the minds of the worldly, which are devoted to temporal glory? For they are the more empty in themselves within, the more they appear tall and beautiful without; for while they melt away into external glory on the surface, they are not strengthened by any solidity within. For like reed they are, through their folly, hollow within, but are outwardly beautiful through show and appearance; but the more studiously outward glory is sought for by them, the more are their minds agitated with sharper pangs of thought. Whence this Behemoth is now rightly said to slumber in the covert of the reed, because he silently possesses the hearts of those, whose desires he excites to seek after temporal splendor and dignity; and he himself sleeps, as it were, quietly in that spot, where he does not allow those whom he possesses to remain at rest. For whilst they go about to surpass others by the loftiness of their goods, while through the brightness of outward cleanliness they surpass the righteous in appearance, as a reed surpasses the bark of solid trees; by remaining hollow within, they make a fitting place for this Behemoth to rest within them. Whence also the Lord says in the Gospel, that the spirit who went forth and found no rest in barren and dry places, because he found the house which he had left empty, and swept clean, entered it in more abundant measure. [Matt. 12, 43-45] For because the earth which is watered becomes moist, the barren and dry places are the hearts of the righteous, which by the power of discipline are drained dry of all the moisture of carnal concupiscence. Whence here also the place where this Behemoth slumbers is still further pointed out, where it is immediately added, In moist places.


9. For ‘moist places’ are the minds of earthly men, which the moisture of carnal concupiscence makes fluid, because it fills them. In which this Behemoth plants deeper the footsteps of his iniquity, the more as in passing he sinks [‘pertransitus ejus’] in their minds as in wet earth. For ‘moist places’ are voluptuous deeds. For the foot does not slip on dry ground, but when planted in slippery ground it is hardly supported. They therefore journey through this life in moist places, who cannot herein stand upright in righteousness. Behemoth, therefore, sleeps in these moist places, because he rests in the slippery doings of reprobate men. But some suppose that by ‘moist places’ are meant the genitals. But if this is so, what else is plainly designated by moist places but lust, so that by a ‘reed’ is expressed the glory of pride, and by ‘moist places’ the lust of the body? For these in truth are two sins, which hold cruel sway over the human race, one, namely, of the spirit, and the other of the flesh. For pride exalts the spirit, lust corrupts the flesh. The ancient enemy, therefore, specially oppressing mankind either by pride or by lust, sleeps in the covert of the reed, and in moist places, because he holds ruined man under the sway of his domination, either by pride of spirit, or by corruption of flesh. But some he possesses in both ways, because when the spirit of pride exalts them, not even shame for their corruption brings them down from pride at their high estate. But are not the teachers of virtues continually watchful against them within the bounds of Holy Church? Do they cease to reprove grovelling pleasures, and to recommend the joys of the heavenly country? But the minds of the wicked refuse the more obstinately to listen to the highest things, the more closely they have cleaved to those that are basest. Nor are they contented with merely perishing themselves, but, (which is worse,) when they see others convinced and improved, they also oppose the reproofs of the righteous, to keep others at least from being corrected. Whence it is well subjoined;

Ver. 17. The shadows cover his shadow. [E.V. 22]




10. For all the wicked are in truth shadows of the devil: for while they give themselves up to imitate his iniquity, they derive, as it were, a form of resemblance from his body. But as the reprobate are his ‘shadows’ in the plural number, so each separate sinner is his ‘shadow’ in the singular. But when the wicked gainsay the teaching of the just, when they do not permit any wicked person to be corrected by them, the shadows of this Behemoth cover his shadow; because sinners, whenever they are conscious to themselves of sin, support another sinner in the same course. His shadows cover his shadow, when the more wicked support by their misdirected patronage the doings of the most wicked. And this they doubtless do with this object, that, while the fault, with which they themselves are bound, is corrected in others, they may not at last be reached themselves. They cover themselves therefore, when they protect others, because they foresee that their own conduct is attacked, by the same means as they see others confounded with bold reproof. And thus it happens, that while the aggregate of sins is defended, it is also increased, and that the guilt of each person is more easy of commission, the more difficult it is of punishment. For the evil doings of sinners derive so much greater increase, the longer they are permitted, through the defence of the powerful, to remain unpunished. But such persons, whether they seem to be within or without Holy Church, display themselves more openly as the enemies of God, the greater patrons they are of sins. For in defending themselves they fight against Him, Who is displeased with those doings, which they multiply, by defending them. Which conduct the Lord by the Prophet well reproves, under the character of Babylon, saying; Thorns and nettles shall spring up in her houses, and the bramble in the fortresses thereof. [Is. 34, 13] For what do we understand by ‘nettles,’ but the irritations of thoughts, and what by ‘thorns,’ but the piercings of sins? Nettles therefore and thorns spring up in the houses of Babylon, because in the disorder of a reprobate mind there arise longings of thoughts which exasperate, and sinful deeds which wound. But they who act thus have others also more wicked than themselves as their defenders. Whence he there fitly subjoined immediately, And the bramble in the fortresses thereof. For the bramble is crowded with such a circle of thorns, that it can hardly be touched from its roughness. The nettle and the thorn therefore spring up within, but both of them are fortified without by the bramble: because, namely, smaller offenders commit any kinds of evil, but greater and most abandoned ones defend them. Whence it is here also well said, His shadows protect his shadow. For whilst a greater sinner defends a wicked person, a shadow, as it were, darkens a shadow, that it be not irradiated with the light of truth. It follows;

The willows of the brook will compass him about.




11. ‘Willows’ are trees which bear indeed no fruit; but are of such great greenness, as hardly to dry up, even when cut off by the roots and torn up. Whence in Holy Scripture by the name ‘willows,’ the good are sometimes designated, from their greenness, and sometimes the reprobate from their sterility. For unless by their continual greenness they typified the life of the Elect, the Prophet would not have said concerning the children of Holy Church, They shall spring up among the grass, as willows by the water courses. [Is. 44, 4] For the children of Holy Church spring up as willows among the grass, when amidst the withering life of carnal men, they last on in manifold numbers, and perpetual greenness of mind. And they are well said to spring up by the water courses, because each of them derives its fruitful productiveness from the teaching of Holy Scripture, which runs along in this temporal state. And again, if the life of sinners were not signified by the sterility of willows, the Psalmist would not have said against Babylon by the voice of preachers; We hanged our instruments upon the willows in the midst thereof. [Ps. 137, 2] For the willows are described as being in the midst of Babylon, doubtless because the unfruitful, and those estranged from the love of their heavenly country, are rooted with all the affections of their heart in this confusion of the world. Whence also holy preachers do not play, but hang their instruments in these willows, because when they see minds unfruitful and reprobate, they display not the power of their preaching, but rather weep and are silent. What also is expressed by the brook except the course of this mortal life? Of which it is said again by the Prophet, He shall drink of the brook in the way, therefore shall he lift up his head. [Ps. 110, 7] Because, namely, our Redeemer tasted the punishment of mortal life, as though in a passage through it, and therefore did not long abide in that death to which he had yielded of his own accord. Whence on the third day he lifted up at His resurrection that Head which He had laid down at His death. What then is the meaning of that which is said of this Behemoth, the willows of the brook will compass him about? except that lovers of this mortal life, unfruitful in good deeds, cleave the closer to him, the more abundantly the delight of transitory pleasure waters them. For a brook waters them, as it were, at their roots, when the love of a carnal life intoxicates them in their thoughts. And like willows they bring forth in truth no fruit, but are green in their leaves, because they sometimes utter words of propriety, which are not burdensome to be said, but display by their good works no weight of life. It is therefore well said, The willows of the brook will compass him about, because when they who bear no fruit devote themselves to the love of this temporal life, they comply too familiarly with the depraved customs of the ancient enemy. But since we have heard what is rendered him by his clients, let us now hear what he works in them. It follows;

Ver. 18. He will drink up a river, and will not wonder, and trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth. [E.V. 23]




12. For what is in this place designated by the name of ‘river,’ except the downward course of the human race, which rises at its birth, as if from the source of its fountain, but passes down, as if flowing to its lowest level at its death? But who are signified by the expression ‘Jordan,’ except those who have been already imbued with the sacrament of Baptism? For since our Redeemer deigned to be baptized in this river, all who have been baptized must needs be expressed by the name of that stream, in which this very sacrament of Baptism happened to be begun. Because, therefore, this Behemoth has drawn to himself like a river the human race flowing downward from the beginning of the world, even to the times of redemption, but a few Elect ones escaping him, it is now well said; He will drink up a river, and will not wonder. But since even after the coming of the Mediator he seizes some even of the faithful, who neglect to live righteously, it is rightly subjoined; And trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth. As if it were plainly said, Before the coming of the Redeemer of the world, he drank up the world without wondering, but, which is far worse, even after the coming of the Redeemer, he trusts that he is able to swallow up some, who have been sealed with the sacrament of Baptism. For he devours some who have been placed in the profession of Christians, because he supplants them by causing error in their faith itself. But others he does not turn aside from the uprightness of the faith, but inclines to the practice of wicked works. Others he is unable to bend as much as he wishes in deeds of impurity, but he inwardly turns them aside from the zeal of their intention; so that, when they sever their minds from charity, whatever they may do outwardly may not be right. And they retain the faith, but they retain not the life of faith; because they either openly do those things which are unlawful, or else from their perverted heart, their doings are wicked, even though they seem to be holy. For since some persons are faithful in their professions, but not in their lives, it is said by the voice of the Truth, Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. [Matt 7, 21] Hence He says again; But why call ye Me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? [Luke 6, 46] Hence Paul says, They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him. [Tit. 1, 16] Hence John says, He that saith that he knoweth God, and keepeth not His commandments, is a liar. [1 John 2, 4] Hence it is that the Lord complains of His own ancient people; This people honoureth Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. [Mark 7, 6; Is. 29, 13] Hence also the Psalmist says, They loved Him with their mouth, and they lied unto Him with their tongue. [Ps. 78, 36] But it was no wonder that this Behemoth before the water of the laver, before the heavenly sacraments, before the corporeal presence of the Redeemer, drank up, with the yawning gulph of his deep persuasion, the river of the human race. But it is very wonderful, it is very terrible, that even after the knowledge of the Redeemer, he seizes many with his open mouth, that he pollutes them after the water of the laver, that after heavenly sacraments he hurries them away to the depth of hell. Let it be said then, let it be said fearfully by the voice of the Truth; He will drink up a river, and will not wonder, and trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth. For the devil counted it not a great thing that he seized unbelievers, but he now rouses himself with all his efforts to destroy those, whom he pines at seeing regenerated against him. Let no one then trust that faith without works can be sufficient for him, when we know that it is written; Faith without works is dead. [James 2, 20] Let no one think that he has entirely escaped the bite of Behemoth by a mere confession of faith. Because he has already drunk up a river, but still thirsts after Jordan. And Jordan flows into his mouth as often as any Christian sinks down into iniquity. We have now escaped his mouth, by the aid of faith, but we must take earnest heed, not to fall therein by slippery doings. If care in walking is neglected, it is in vain that we keep the straight road by faith. Because the way of faith leads indeed to the heavenly country, but it does not carry to the close those who stumble therein.


13. We have another point to consider more minutely on this head. For those who we said were expressed by ‘Jordan,’ can also be designated by the ‘river.’ For they who have already confessed their belief in the truth, but neglect to live faithfully, can rightly be called a ‘river:’ namely, because they flow downwards. But ‘Jordan’ in the Hebrew word means ‘the descent of them.’ And there are some who in seeking the way of truth cast away their own selves, and come down from the pride of their former life. And when they desire eternal things, they entirely estrange themselves from this world, by not only seeking after the goods of others, but even abandoning their own. And so far from seeking glory therein, they despise it even when it offers itself. For hence is that which is said by the voice of the Truth, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself. [Luke 9, 23] For a man denies himself, if, having trampled down the haughtiness of pride, he shews before the eyes of God that he is strange to himself. Hence the Psalmist says, I will remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites. [Ps. 42, 6] For Jordan, as I said, is interpreted ‘Descent,’ but Hermonites, Anathema, that is, ‘Alienation.’ He therefore remembers God from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, who by humbling himself, and by living estranged from himself, is recalled to think on his Creator. But the ancient enemy considers it no great matter, that he holds under the rule of his tyranny those who seek after earthly things. For we know, as the Prophet witnesses, that His food is choice. [Hab. l, 16] Nor does he count it a wonderful thing if he swallows up those whom pride exalts, covetousness wastes away, pleasure relaxes [‘dilatat’], wickedness contracts [‘angustat’], anger inflames, discord separates, envy exulcerates, lust pollutes and kills. He will therefore swallow up a river, and will not wonder, because he counts it no great thing, when he devours those, who by the very pursuits of their life run downwards. But he earnestly endeavours to seize those whom he sees already united to heavenly things, from their contempt of the things of earth. And hence, when the river has been swallowed up, it is rightly subjoined, And he trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth, because he is anxious to lurk in ambush, and seize those, whom he sees casting themselves down from the glory of the present life through love of their heavenly country. For some in truth forsake the world, abandon the vanities of transient honours, and, seeking the lowliness of humility, transcend by good living the custom of human conversation; and advance in such lofty pursuits [‘tanta studiorum arce’], as even now to perform mighty wonders. But because they neglect to protect themselves by circumspection, they are wounded by the shaft of vain glory, and fall the more fatally from on high. For hence it is that the eternal Judge, Who weighs the secrets of the heart, foretells this same fall and ruin, and threatens, saying, Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name have cast out devils, and in Thy Name have done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them that I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity, I know not who ye are. [Matt. 7, 22. 23.] Hence also it is said by the Prophet, The Lord called judgment to the fire, and it devoured the great abyss, and will eat up a part of the house of the Lord. [Amos 7, 4] For judgment is called to the fire, when the sentence of justice is already displayed for the punishment of eternal burning. And it devours the great abyss, because it consumes the wicked and incomprehensible minds of men, which now conceal themselves from men even under the miracles of signs. But a part of the house of the Lord is eaten up; because Gehenna devours those also, who now boast, as it were, by their holy deeds, of being in the number of the Elect. They therefore who are here called ‘Jordan,’ are there called ‘a part of the house of the Lord.’ The ancient enemy therefore trusts that even Jordan can flow into his mouth, because he sometimes destroys, by the stratagems of his cunning, those even who are now considered Elect. But whose hardness of heart would not these words of the Lord arouse? Whose firmness of mind would not be shaken from the inmost depths of his thoughts, when our enemy is shewn to be of such great power against us? Will there be no aid of consolation? There will surely be, for it is subjoined;

Ver. 19. In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. [E.V. 24]




14. It is much to be observed, that the Lord, tempering in His mercy the words of His Scripture, alarms us at one time with sharp excitements, comforts us at another with gentle consolations, and blends terror with comforts, and comforts with terror; in order that, while they are both tempered towards us with wonderful skill of management, we may be found neither to despair through fear, nor yet incautiously secure. For when He had pointed out in manifold expressions the cunning crafts, and the unrestrained strength of Behemoth, He immediately sets forth the coming of His Only-begotten Son our Redeemer, and teaches in what way this Behemoth is to be destroyed; in order that, having oppressed our heart by recounting his might, He might speedily alleviate our sorrow by pointing out his destruction. Therefore, after He had said, He will drink up a river, and will not wonder, and trusteth that Jordan can flow into his mouth, He immediately announces the coming of the Lord’s Incarnation, saying, In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. Who can be ignorant that in a ‘hook’ a bait is shewn, a point is concealed? For the bait tempts, that the point may wound. Our Lord therefore, when coming for the redemption of mankind, made, as it were, a kind of hook of Himself for the death of the devil; for He assumed a body, in order that this Behemoth might seek therein the death of the flesh, as if it were his bait. But while he is unjustly aiming at that death in His person, he lost us, whom he was, as it were, justly holding. He was caught, therefore, in the ‘hook’ of His Incarnation, because while he sought in Him the bait of His Body, he was pierced with the sharp point of His Divinity. For there was within Him His Humanity, to attract to Him the devourer, there was there His Divinity to wound; there was there His open infirmity to excite, His hidden virtue to pierce through the jaw of the spoiler. He was, therefore, taken by a hook, because he perished by means of that which he swallowed. And this Behemoth knew indeed the Incarnate Son of God, but knew not the plan of our redemption. For he knew that the Son of God had been incarnate for our redemption, but he was quite ignorant that this our Redeemer was piercing him by His own death. Whence it is well said, In his eyes He will take him as with a hook. For we are said to have in our eyes that which we see placed before us. But the ancient enemy of mankind saw placed before him the Redeemer, Whom he confessed in knowing, feared in confessing, saying, What have we to do with Thee, Thou Son of God? Hast Thou come to torment us before the time? [Matt. 8, 29] He was taken therefore with a hook in his eyes, because he both knew, and seized it; and he first knew Whom to fear, and yet afterwards feared Him not, when hungering in Him for the death of the Flesh, as if it were his proper bait. Because then we have heard what our Head has done by Himself, let us now hear what He is doing by His own members. It follows;

And bore through his nostrils with stakes.




15. What else do we understand by stakes [‘sudes’], that is, poles [‘palos’], (which are sharpened indeed in order to be fixed in the ground,) but the sharp counsels of the Saints? And these perforate the nostrils of this Behemoth, while they both watchfully behold on every side his most ingenious stratagems, and pierce, by overcoming them. But a scent is drawn through the nostrils, and by drawing our breath deep, an object is detected even when placed at some distance. By the nostrils of Behemoth are, therefore, designated his cunning stratagems, by which he most ingeniously endeavours both to learn the secret good qualities of our heart, and to scatter them by his most fatal persuasion. The Lord, therefore, perforates his nostrils with stakes, because, penetrating his crafty stratagems by the acute senses of the Saints, He takes from them their power. But he often hovers about the paths of the righteous with such insidious art, as to seek to approach them for their hurt, even by means of the good qualities which he knows to exist in them. For from observing the liberality of one person, he inflames another with the fire of discord; and when he sees one person compassionate, he persuades another to be angry, in order that, by suggesting that a good deed has not been done in common, he may cut off accordant minds from the benefit of a common favour. For since he is not able to break down the resolutions of the just by persuading them to sin, he is busy in sowing evils therein by means of their good deeds. But holy men overcome these his stratagems the more speedily, the more acutely they detect them. A point which we set forth the better, if we bring forward Paul, one of many maintainers of the truth in evidence. For when a certain Corinthian under his care had committed the sin of incest, the illustrious teacher delivered him up to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, for the satisfaction of penance, and reserved his spirit to be saved to the day of the Lord Jesus. [1 Cor. 5, 5] For by great skill in discipline he was forcibly delivered for punishment to the very person, to whom he had in his sin voluntarily submitted; in order that he who had been the author of the sin of wickedness, might himself become the scourge of discipline. But when this penance had been well gone through, on learning that the Corinthians had been already moved with compassion towards him, he says, To whom ye forgive any thing, I also; for I forgave any thing, for your sakes I forgave it in the person of Christ. [2 Cor. 2, 10] As thinking of the blessing of communion, he says, To whom ye forgive any thing, I also. As if he were saying, I agree with your good doings; may whatever you have done be counted as mine. And he immediately added, And if I forgave any thing, for your sakes I forgave it. As if he were saying, Whatever I have done compassionately, has added further good to your doings. My goodness is, therefore, your profit, your goodness is my profit. And he immediately added and subjoined that binding of hearts [‘compagem cordium’], in which he is thus held, In the person of Christ. For as if we were presuming to say to him, Why dost thou so carefully couple thyself with thy disciples? why dost thou so anxiously conform either thyself to them, or them to thyself in thy doings? he immediately subjoined, That we may not be circumvented by Satan. [ib. 11] And with what acuteness he penetrates his crafty stratagems, he teaches, adding, For we are not ignorant of his devices. As if he said in other words, We are sharp stakes of the Lord’s making, and we penetrate the nostrils of this Behemoth by subtle circumspection, lest he should pervert to an evil end that which the mind enters on aright.


16. By ‘stakes’ can be signified the acute words of Wisdom Himself manifested in the flesh, so that by the nostrils of Behemoth may be typified (since scent is drawn in by the nostrils) that prying search of the ancient enemy. For when he doubted whether God were incarnate, he wished to ascertain this by tempting and asking of Him miracles, saying, If Thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. [Matt. 4, 3] Because then he wished to learn the scent of His Divinity from the evidence of miracles, he drew in the breath, as it were, by his nostrils. But when it is immediately said to him in answer, Man liveth not by bread alone, and, Thou shall not tempt the Lord thy God, [ib. 4, 7] because the Truth repelled the searching enquiry of the ancient enemy by the sharpness of his sayings, he pierced his nostrils, as it were, with stakes. But because this Behemoth spreads forth with various arguments of deceit, he is marked still further by the addition of another name; for it is subjoined,

Ver. 20. Wilt thou be able to draw out Leviathan with a hook? [E.V. 41, 1]




17. For Leviathan means ‘their addition.’ Of whom, in truth, but of men? amongst whom he introduced once for all the guilt of sin, and carries it onward to eternal death by the most evil suggestions day by day. And while he multiplies their guilt by the usury of sin, he doubtless without ceasing adds to their punishment. He can also be called Leviathan by way of mocking. For he declared in his cunning persuasion that he would confer a divine nature on the first man, but he took away immortality. [Gen. 3, 4. 5.] He can therefore be called ironically ‘The addition to men,’ for when he promised them to bestow that which they were not, he even took away by his craft that which they really were. But this Leviathan was caught with a hook, because when in the case of our Redeemer he seized through his satellites the bait of His Body, the sharp sting of His Godhead pierced him through. For a hook held as it were the throat of its swallower, when both the bait of the flesh appeared for the devourer to seize, and at the time of His passion His Godhead was concealed, in order to kill him. For in this abyss of waters, that is, in this boundlessness of the human race, this whale was rushing hither and thither with open mouth, eager for the death, and devouring the life of almost all. But a hook for the death of this whale was suspended by a marvellous arrangement in this gloomy depth of waters. The line of this hook, is that genealogy of the ancient fathers recorded in the Gospel. For when it is said, Abraham begat Isaac, Isaac begat Jacob, and the other descendants are described, with the insertion of the name of Joseph, down to Mary, the betrothed Virgin, a kind of line is spun, for the Incarnate Lord, that is to say, this hook to be bound to the end of it; [Matt. 1, 2-16] Whom this whale would catch at with open mouth when hanging in these waters of the human race, but when it was bitten by the cruelty of his satellites, he would no longer have power to bite. That this whale then, who is lying in ambush for the death of men, might no longer devour whom he wished, this hook held firm the jaws of the spoiler, and wounded him that bit it. God, therefore, as pointing out to his faithful servant the Incarnation of His Only-begotten Son, says, Wilt thou be able to draw out Leviathan with a hook? Thou understandest, As I; Who send My Only-begotten Son in the flesh for the death of the spoiler; in Whom while mortal flesh is seen, and the power of His immortality is not seen, a kind of hook destroys, as it were, him who swallows it, by concealing the keenness of the power, with which He wounds. It follows;

And wilt thou bind his tongue with a cord?




18. Thou understandest, As I. For Holy Scripture is wont to designate by a ‘cord,’ sometimes measured allotments, sometimes sins, sometimes faith. For on account of the hereditary measured allotments, it is said, The lines have fallen unto me in goodly places, for I have a goodly heritage. [Ps. 16, 6] For lines fall for us in goodly places, when through humility of life the lot of a better country awaits us. Again, because sins are signified by a ‘cord,’ it is said by the Prophet; Woe unto you that draw iniquity with the cords of vanity. [Is. 5, 18] For iniquity is drawn with cords of vanity, when sin is drawn out by increase. Whence it is also said by the Psalmist; The cords of sins [or, sinners, as S. Aug. ad loc.] have twined about me. [Ps. 119, 61] For since a cord, when added to, is twisted, in order to increase, sin is not unfitly figured by a cord, since it is frequently multiplied, when it is defended with a perverse heart. Again, by a ‘cord’ faith is expressed, as Solomon witnesses, who says; A threefold cord is not easily broken; [Eccles. 4, 12] because faith in truth which is woven by the mouth of preachers from the knowledge of the Trinity, remaining firm in the Elect, is broken [‘dissipatur’] only in the heart of the reprobate. In this place, therefore, nothing prevents either faith or sin being understood by the word ‘cord.’ For our Incarnate Lord bound the tongue of Leviathan with a cord, because He appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, and condemned all his erroneous preaching. Whence it is said, as Paul witnesses; And from sin He condemned sin. [Rom. 8, 3] He bound his tongue with a cord, because by means of the likeness of sinful flesh He swept away all his deceitful arguments from the hearts of His Elect. For behold, when the Lord appears in the flesh, the tongue of Leviathan is bound, because, when His truth had become known, those doctrines of falsehood were silenced.


19. For where is now the error of the Academicians, who endeavour to establish on sure grounds that nothing is sure, who with shameless brow demand from their hearers belief in their assertions, when they declare that nothing is true? Where is the superstition of the Mathematicians, who, looking up at the courses of the constellations, make the lives of men to depend on the motions of the stars? Though the birth of twins often scatters their doctrine to the winds; for though born at one and the same moment, they do not abide in the same kind of conversation. Where are those many false teachings, which we abstain from enumerating, for fear of digressing far from the course of our commentary? But every false doctrine has now been silenced, because the Lord has bound the tongue of Leviathan by the cord of His Incarnation. Whence it is also well said by the Prophet; And the Lord shall lay waste the tongue of the Egyptian sea. [Is. 11, 15] For the ‘tongue of the sea,’ is the knowledge of secular learning. But it is well called ‘the Egyptian sea;’ because it is darkened with the gloom of sin. The Lord, therefore, laid waste the tongue of the Egyptian sea, because by manifesting Himself in the flesh, He destroyed the false wisdom of this world. The tongue of Leviathan is, therefore, bound with a cord, because the preaching of the old sinner was bound by the likeness of sinful flesh.


20. But if faith is signified by a ‘cord,’ the same meaning is again suggested to us; because when faith in the Trinity became known to the world by holy preachers, the doctrine of the world ceased to break forth against the mind of the Elect. Whence it is well said to the Lord by the Prophet; Thou hast cloven fountains and torrents, Thou hast dried up the rivers of Ethan. [Ps. 74, 15] For Ethan is interpreted ‘strong.’ And who is this strong man, except him of whom the Lord says in the Gospel; No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, unless he first bind the strong man. [Mark 3, 27] The Lord, therefore, clave the fountains and the torrents, when He spread in the hearts of His Apostles the streams of truth. Of whom it is said again by another Prophet; With joy shall ye draw water from the fountains of the Saviour. [Is. 12, 3] For we go in our thirst to their teaching, that we may bring back the pitcher of our hearts full of truth. But He dried the rivers of Ethan by the springing forth of His own fountains, when He withered the doctrine of the mighty and malignant spirit by displaying the ray of His own truth. The tongue, therefore, of Leviathan is bound with a cord, because by the spreading of faith in the Trinity, the preachings of errors were silenced. But since he cannot now raise himself openly, he goes about hither and thither, and bites by stealth. But the Lord watches against him in our behalf with wonderful pity, and defeats him even in his treacherous designs. Whence it is subjoined;

Ver. 21. Wilt thou put a ring into his nostrils? [E.V. 41, 2]




21. As stratagems are signified by ‘nostrils,’ so by a ‘ring’ is designated the omnipotence of Divine Power. For when it keeps us from being seized by temptations, it encircles around and holds firm in wondrous ways the snares of the ancient enemy. A ring is, therefore, put into his nostrils, when by the strength of heavenly protection drawn around us, his cunning is so restrained, as not to prevail so far against the weakness of man, as far as it secretly searches out its fatal arguments. But by the name ‘ring’ can be designated also the aid of the secret judgments, which is put into the nostrils of this Behemoth when he is restrained from his artful cruelty. Whence it is well said by the Prophet to the King of Babylon, when he is kept from injuring the Israelites; I will put a ring in thy nostrils. [Is. 37, 29] As if it were plainly said; Thou breathest hard with thoughts of guile; but from being unable to fulfil thy desires, thou bearest in thy nostrils the ring of My omnipotence, in order that when thou pantest more eagerly for the death of the righteous, thou mayest return unsatisfied from their life. But that which Holy Scripture calls in this place a ‘ring,’ it calls a ‘sickle’ by John in the Apocalypse. For he says, I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sitting like the Son of Man, having on His head a golden crown, and in His hand a sharp sickle. [Rev. 14, 14] For the power of Divine judgment is called a ‘ring,’ because it binds on every side; but because in its cutting it embraces all things within it, it is marked out by the term ‘sickle.’ For whatever is cut by a sickle falls within it, in whatsoever direction it is turned. And because the power of the heavenly judgment cannot be in any way avoided, (for we are in truth within it, wherever we may endeavour to escape,) when the Judge Who is to come is represented, He is rightly said to hold a sickle. Because when He comes to meet all things in His might, He surrounds them in cutting them off. The Prophet saw that he was within the sickle of judgment, when he said, If I ascend into heaven. Thou art there: if I descend into hell, Thou art present. If I take my wings before the light, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there also shall Thy hand lead me, and Thy right hand shall hold me. [Ps. 139, 8. 9.] He saw himself to be within a kind of sickle, when he knew that there was no way of escape open to him from any place, saying, For neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert mountains, [Ps. 75, 6] thou understandest, ‘a way of escape is open.’ And he proceeded immediately to speak of this all-embracing comprehension of the Divine power, saying, For God is the Judge. [ib. 7] As if he were saying, A way of escape is wanting on every side, because He judges Who is every where. Therefore as the Divine judgments are signified by a sickle, because they encircle and cut down, so are they expressed by a ring, because they bind on every side. A ring is, therefore, put by the Lord in the nostrils of Leviathan, because he is restrained by the power of His judgment from prevailing as much as he wishes in his stratagems. Let it be said then, Wilt thou put a ring into his nostrils? Thou understandest, As I, Who restrain by Almighty judgment his crafty stratagems, so that he neither attempts as much as he wishes, nor succeeds as far as he attempts. It follows,

Or wilt thou bore through his jaw with a bracelet?




22. A ‘bracelet’ differs not in meaning from a ‘ring,’ because this also binds and encircles the spot where it is placed. But because a bracelet extends wider, by a bracelet is designated the more careful protection of His secret judgment over us. The Lord, therefore, bores through the jaw of this Leviathan with a bracelet, because by the ineffable power of His mercy He so thwarts the malice of the ancient enemy, that he sometimes loses even those whom he has seized, and they, as it were, fall from his mouth, who after the commission of sin return to innocence. For who that had once been seized by his mouth would escape his jaw, if it were not bored through? Had he not seized Peter in his mouth, when he denied? Had he not seized David in his mouth, when he plunged himself into such a gulph of lust? But when they returned each of them through penitence to life, this Leviathan let them escape, as it were, through the holes of his jaws. Those, therefore, are withdrawn from his mouth through the hole of his jaw, who after the perpetration of such great wickednesses have come back with penitence. But what man can escape the mouth of this Leviathan, so as not commit any thing unlawful? But hence we know how much we are indebted to the Redeemer of mankind, Who not only restrained us from falling into the mouth of Leviathan, but granted us also to return from his mouth; Who bereft not the sinner of hope, because He pierced his jaw that He might make a way to escape, so that he, who at first was incautious and not afraid of being bitten, might at least escape after the bite. The heavenly remedy, therefore, every where comes to our aid, because He both gave man precepts, that he should not sin, and yet furnished him with remedies when in sin, that he should not despair. There must, therefore, be exercised the greatest caution; that no one through pleasure in sin be seized by the mouth of this Leviathan. And yet, if he has been seized, let him not despair, because if he thoroughly bewails his sin, he finds a hole in his jaw, by which to escape. He is even now being crushed with his teeth; but if a way of escape is still sought for, a hole is found in his jaw. He who would not keep a look out, so as not to be taken, has, even when taken, a place to escape at. Let every one then who is not yet taken, avoid his jaw; but let every one who has been already taken, seek for a hole in his jaw. For our Creator is merciful and just.


23. But let no one say, Because He is merciful, I sin venially. And let no one who has sinned say, Because He is just, I despair of the remission of my sin. For God looses the sin which is bewailed; but let every one be afraid of sinning, because he knows not whether he can worthily bewail it. Before sinning then, let him fear His justice; but after sinning, let him presume on His mercy; and let him not so fear His justice, as not to be strengthened by any consolation of hope, nor be so confident of His mercy, as to neglect to apply to his wounds the medicine of worthy penitence. But let him always think also, that He Who he ventures to hope spares him in mercy, judges also with severity. Let the hope of the sinner then rejoice in His mercy, but let the correction of the penitent tremble under His severity. Let the hope, therefore, of our confidence have also a sting of fear, in order that the justice of the Judge may frighten into the correction of his sins him whom the grace of the Forgiver invites to the confidence of pardon. For hence it is said by a certain wise man; Say not, the mercies of the Lord are many, He will not be mindful of my sins. [Ecclus. 5, 6] For he immediately speaks of His mercy and justice, saying, For mercy and wrath are from Him. [ib. 7] The Divine clemency, therefore, by piercing the jaw of this Behemoth, comes to the aid of mankind on every side, both mercifully and powerfully, because it did not abstain from giving them caution and admonition when free, nor took from them the remedy of escape when they had been captured. For the sins of such persons, that is, of David and Peter, are recorded in Scripture for this end, that the fall of their betters may be a caution to inferiors. But the penitence and the pardon of both are alike inserted to this end, that the recovery of the lost may be the hope of the perishing. Let no one boast then of standing firm himself, when David falls. Let no one also despair of his own fall, when David rises. Behold how marvellously Holy Scripture humbles the proud with the same word with which it raises up the humble. For it recorded but one circumstance, and recalled, by a different effect, the proud to the fearfulness of humility, and the humble to the confidence of hope. O the surpassing value of this new kind of remedy! which applied in one and the same manner, dries up the swollen by pressing on it, and restores the withered by upraising it. For it alarmed us at the fall of our superiors, but strengthened us by their restoration.


24. For thus, in truth, thus does the mercy of the Divine dispensation ever check us when proud, and support us from sinking into despair. Whence He also warns us by Moses, saying, Thou shalt not take either the upper or the nether millstone to pledge. [Deut. 24, 6] For by ‘take’ we sometimes mean ‘take away.’ Whence also those birds which are eager in seizing other birds are called hawks [accipitres, ab accipio]. Whence the Apostle Paul says, For ye suffer, if a man devour you, if a man take. [2 Cor. 11, 20] As if he said, If any one takes away. But the pledge of the debtor is the confession of a sinner. For a pledge is taken from a debtor, when a confession of sin is obtained from a sinner. But the upper and nether millstone are hope and fear. For hope raises up the heart, but fear weighs it down lower. But the upper and the nether millstone are so necessarily joined together, that one is possessed in vain without the other. Hope and fear, therefore, ought to be unceasingly united in the breast of a sinner, because he hopes in vain for mercy, if he does not also fear justice; he in vain fears justice, if he does not also rely on mercy. The upper or the nether millstone is, therefore, ordered not to be taken as a pledge; because he who preaches to a sinner, ought to order his preaching with such management, as not in leaving hope to remove fear, nor yet in withdrawing hope, to leave him in fear only. For the upper or the nether millstone is removed, if by the tongue of the preacher, either fear is severed from hope, or hope from fear, in the breast of the sinner.


25. But since on having brought forward David, as the case demanded, we have made mention of so great a sin, the mind of our reader is perhaps moved to enquire, why Almighty God does not keep uninjured by bodily sins, those whom He has elected for ever, and has also taken up to the height of spiritual gifts. To which, because we believe they will be speedily satisfied, we give a brief reply. For some through the gifts of virtues they have received, through the grace of good works bestowed on them, fall into the sin of pride, but yet know not whither they have fallen. Accordingly, the ancient enemy, because he already rules over them within, is permitted also to rage against them from without, in order that they who are elated in thought, may be brought down by the lust of the flesh. But we know that it is sometimes much less to fall into corruption of body, than to sin in our silent thought from deliberate pride. But when pride is believed to be less disgraceful, it is less avoided. But men are more ashamed of lust, the more they all alike know it to be disgraceful. It is hence frequently the case that some persons on falling into lust after pride, are, from their open fall, ashamed of the guilt of their latent sin. And they then also correct their greater faults, when they are more sorely confounded from having been overcome in those that are less. For they who believed that they were free when living in greater sins, behold that they are guilty even amid smaller ones. This Behemoth then, when let loose by the merciful dispensation of God, leads on from sin to sin, and while he strikes the more heavily, loses thereby him whom he has seized, and is conquered by the very means by which he seems to have triumphed. It is pleasing to consider within the well guarded bosom of grace, with what great favour of compassion God surrounds us. Behold! he who prides himself on his virtue, through sin comes back to humility. But he who is puffed up by the virtues he has received, is wounded not with a sword, but, so to say, with a remedy. For what is virtue but a remedy, and what is vice but a wound? Because, therefore, we make a wound of our remedy, He makes a remedy of our wound; in order that we who are wounded by our virtue, may be healed by our sin. For we pervert the gifts of virtues to the practice of vice; He applies the allurements of vices to promote virtues [‘in artem virtutem’], and wounds our healthy state in order to preserve it, and that we who fly from humility when we run, may cling to it at least when falling. But it should be understood in these matters, that the more the greater number of men fall in many things, the more firmly are they bound; and that when this Behemoth smites them with one sin to make them fall, he binds them also with another to keep them from rising. Let a man, therefore, consider with what an enemy he is waging war; and if he perceives that he has already offended in any matter, let him at least be afraid of being drawn from sin to sin, in order that the wounds may be carefully avoided, with which he frequently destroys. For it is very seldom that our enemy subserves the salvation of the Elect by actual wounds.


26. But the perforated jaw of this Behemoth can be understood in another sense also; so that he may be said to hold in his mouth not those whom he has already completely entangled in sin, but those whom he is still tempting by the persuasions of sin: so as that his chewing any one may be his tempting him with the pleasure of sin. He had received Paul to be chewed, but not swallowed, when he was harassing him, after so many sublime revelations, with thorns of the flesh. [2 Cor. 12, 7] For when he received permission to practise temptation against him, he then held him in his jaw, which yet had been pierced through. But he who could perish through pride, was tempted, that he might not perish. That temptation was, therefore, not an abyss of vices, but a protection of his merits; because this Leviathan by wearying him crushed him with affliction, but did not devour by involving him in sin. But he would not lose men who were elated by their sanctity, unless he tempted them. For they would not be holy, if they boasted of the glory of their sanctity, and would fall the more under his power, the more they extolled themselves for their virtues. But by the wonderful course of the dispensation, when they are tempted, they are humbled; when they are humbled, they cease at once to be his. The jaw of this Behemoth is, therefore, well said to have been pierced through, because he loses the Elect of God by crushing them, by attempting to destroy, he keeps them from perishing. The ancient enemy, therefore, subserving the secret dispensations of God, willingly tempts the souls of the holy to their ruin, but, by tempting, unwillingly preserves them for the kingdom. His jaw is, therefore, pierced through, because those whom he crushes by tempting, that is, by chewing them, he loses as it were, when he goes to swallow. But since it is the work not of human, but divine, forethought, that the very craft of the ancient enemy promotes [‘suffragetur’] the benefit of the just, (so that when he tempts the Elect he protects them the more by his temptation,) it is well said to blessed Job; Or wilt thou bore through his jaw with a bracelet? Thou understandest, As I; Who providently disposing all things, preserve My Elect more firmly in their integrity, by permitting them to be moved [‘labefactari’] in a measure from their integrity by the jaw of this Leviathan. It follows;

Ver. 22. Will he multiply prayers to thee, or will he speak soft words to thee? [E.V. 41, 3]




27. Thou understandest, As to Me. For if these words are referred to the person of the Son, he spake soft words to Him Incarnate, when he said, I know Thee, Who Thou art, the Holy One of God. [Luke 4, 34] And this Leviathan multiplied prayers to Him, when he said by the legion which was subject to him; If Thou cast us out, send us into the herd of swine. [Matt. 8, 31] Although it can be understood in a still more plain manner, because he multiplies prayers to the Lord, when the wicked, who are his body, pray, on the day of the last judgment, that they may be spared; when his members, that is, the reprobate, cry out too late, and say, Lord, Lord, open unto us. To whom it is said immediately, I know you not, whence ye are. [Luke 13, 25] Then also he will say by his members soft words to the Lord, when many of his body are about to say, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name, and in Thy Name have cast out devils, and in Thy Name have done many wonderful works? [Matt. 7, 22] They say soft words in deprecation, when they say in reply what they have done in His Name, but when they did these very deeds with hard heart, they claimed them for their own credit. Whence they shortly hear, I know you not, who ye are. It follows;

Ver. 23. Will he make a covenant with thee? Thou understandest, As with Me. And wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? [E.V. 41, 4]




28. Thou understandest, As I. But it must be carefully observed, that this Leviathan makes a covenant with the Lord, in order to be counted His servant for ever. For in a covenant the wishes of parties who are at variance are fulfilled, that each attains to what it desires, and terminates its quarrels by the desired result. The ancient enemy, therefore, when kindled by the torch of his malice, is at variance with the purity of the Divine innocence, but even in his variance, disagrees not with His judgment. For he is ever maliciously seeking to tempt righteous men. But yet the Lord permits this to take place, either mercifully, or righteously. This liberty to tempt is, therefore, called a ‘covenant,’ wherein the desire of the tempter is effected, and yet the will of the righteous Dispenser is thereby wonderfully fulfilled. For, as we have lately said, the Lord frequently subjects His Elect to the tempter, in order to be instructed; just as after the barriers of Paradise, after the secrets of the third heaven, an angel of Satan was given to Paul that he might not be exalted by the greatness of the revelations. [2 Cor. 12, 7] But, as we have said before, it is so ordered in this very temptation, that they who could perish from pride, are, by being humbled, preserved from destruction. In the secret course, therefore, of the dispensation, by the iniquity of the devil being permitted to rage, the kindness of God is brought about in mercy. And from this covenant which he is said to make with God, he is rightly described as being taken for a servant. Because he obeys the commands [‘nutibus’] of the heavenly grace, just as he exercises the wrath of his most evil will. He is, therefore, a servant by agreement, who when permitted to fulfil his own will, is restrained by the will of the counsel of heaven, so as willingly to tempt the Elect of God, as was before said, and unwittingly to prove them by his temptation.


29. But because he promotes in this life the interests of the Elect, as long as he is able to exercise in temptations the evil of his malice; but is said in this place to be taken by the Lord not merely as a servant under an agreement, but a servant for ever; we are compelled to investigate how we can prove that even after the close of the present life, he is a servant of the Lord for ever. For he is no longer permitted to tempt the righteous who are powerful in heavenly happiness, when he is condemned before their eyes to the eternal fires of hell. Because in that heavenly country, in which they are now rewarded for the labours of their temptations, they need not to be disciplined by temptations. But at that time this Leviathan with his body, namely all the reprobate, is consigned to the avenging flames, to be tortured therein for ever. And while the just behold these torments, they praise God in truth more and more, because they both see in themselves the blessing with which they have been rewarded, and in the others witness the punishment which they have themselves escaped. For so will the universe be full of beauty, when both hell justly tortures the ungodly, and eternal felicity justly rewards the righteous. For as a black colour is put as the back ground of a picture, in order that the white or red which is put over it may seem more beautiful; so at that time, God by rightly disposing even of the wicked, increases the happiness of the blessed, by displaying before their eyes the sufferings of the reprobate. And although the joy they derive from the vision of the Lord is not of a kind to increase, yet they feel themselves to be more indebted to their Creator, when they both behold the good with which they perceive they have been justly rewarded, and the evil they have overcome from having been mercifully assisted. If then the temptation of this Leviathan here, and his damnation there, contributes to the benefit of the just, he is a servant for ever, when he unwittingly promotes the glory of God; yea both his just punishment there, and his unjust will here. It follows;

Ver. 24. Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? [E.V. 41, 5]




30. Why is it that our adversary is first called Behemoth, afterwards Leviathan, but is now compared to a ‘bird,’ in ridicule at his destruction? For Behemoth, as we have said, is interpreted ‘monster,’ [‘bellua’] and it is shewn to be a quadruped, when it is said to eat hay as an ox. But Leviathan, as he is taken with a hook is doubtless set before us as a serpent in the waters. But now he is brought into comparison with a bird, when it is said, Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? Let us examine, therefore, why he is called a ‘monster,’ or a ‘beast,’ why a ‘dragon,’ and why a ‘bird.’ For we learn more quickly the meaning of his names, if we accurately examine the craft of his cunning. For he comes from heaven to earth, and no longer raises himself by any aspiration to the hope of heavenly things. He is, therefore, an irrational and four-footed animal by the folly of his unclean doings, a dragon by his malice in doing hurt, a ‘bird’ by the levity of his subtle nature. For because he knows not what he is doing against himself, he is a monster with brute sense; because he maliciously seeks to hurt us, he is a ‘dragon;’ but because he exalts himself haughtily on the subtlety of his nature, he is a ‘bird.’ Again, because he is in his wicked doings employed by the Divine power for our benefit, he is a ‘beast;’ because he secretly bites, he is a ‘serpent;’ but because he sometimes through his indomitable pride feigns himself to be an Angel of light, he is a ‘bird.’ For though he harasses mankind with his inexplicable skill in wickedness, yet he specially tempts by three sins; in order, namely, to subdue to himself some by lust, some by malice, and some by pride.


31. He is, therefore, deservedly designated by the very name of his doings, in what he attempts to do, when he is called a ‘beast,’ a ‘dragon,’ or a ‘bird.’ For in those whom he excites to the folly of lust, he is a ‘beast;’ in those whom he inflames to do malicious injury, he is a ‘dragon;’ but in those whom he exalts to the haughtiness of pride as though they understood high things, he is a ‘bird.’ But in those whom he pollutes equally with lust and malice and pride, he exists as a ‘beast,’ [‘jumentum’] a ‘dragon,’ and a ‘bird’ at the same time. For he has insinuated himself into the hearts of those deluded by him in as many shapes as the wickednesses in which he entangles them. He is, therefore, called by the name of many things, because he is changed into various kind of shapes before the eyes of those who are deluded by him. For when he tempts this one by the lust of the flesh, and yet does not overcome him, he changes his suggestion, and kindles his heart into malice. Because, therefore, he was unable to approach him as a ‘monster,’ [‘bellua’] he comes near as a ‘dragon.’ He is unable to corrupt him with the poison of malice, but yet he places his good qualities before his eyes, and exalts his heart to pride. He could not, therefore, steal up to this man as a dragon, but yet by bringing before him the phantom of vain glory, he flew before the sight of his thought as a bird. And this bird is doubtless raised up the more cruelly against us, the less it is impeded by any weakness of its own nature. For because it is not overcome by the death of the flesh, and saw our Redeemer was mortal in the flesh, it was puffed up with greater haughtiness of pride. But where it raised itself against its Maker with the wing of pride, it there found the snare of its death. For he was overcome by that very death of His flesh, which in pride he sought, and suffered from the snare by his very seeking the death of the Just One, as the prey of his malice. Let it he said then, Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? For the Lord in truth played with him as with a bird, when in the passion of His Only-Begotten Son He shewed him the bait, but concealed the snare. For he saw that which he was taking in his mouth, but he saw not what he was holding in his throat. For though he had himself confessed Him to be the Son of God, yet he believed that He was dying as a mere man, for whose death he had roused the minds of the persecuting Jews. But he is understood to have learnt at last too late, at the very moment of His betrayal, that he would be punished by that His death. Whence also he frightened the wife of Pilate by dreams, in order that her husband might desist from the persecution of the Just One. [Matt. 27, 19] But the plan which had been by the secret dispensation ordained, could not he by any machination overthrown. For it was expedient that the death of a Just Man dying unjustly should be a ransom for the death of sinners dying justly. But because this Leviathan was ignorant of this even to the time of His passion, he was deluded as a bird, and suffered from the snare of His Godhead, when he seized the bait of His Manhood. It follows;

Or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens?




32. Thou understandest, As I. Though the condition of male servants is despicable, their manhood is strong. But in maid servants their sex lies low, together with their condition. The Lord, therefore, well declares that He binds this Leviathan not for his male servants, but for his maidens. Because when He came for our redemption, and sent His preachers against the pride of the world, He chose the foolish, and left the wise; the weak, and left the strong; the poor, and left the rich. The Lord, therefore, bound the strength of this Leviathan for His maidens, because, as Paul witnesses, God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the mighty. [l Cor. 1, 27] Whence it is well said by Solomon; Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out seven pillars, she hath slain her victims, she hath mingled wine, she hath set forth her table, she hath sent her maidens to summon to the citadel, and to the walls of the city. [Prov. 9, 1-3] For Wisdom in truth built her a house, when the Only-Begotten Son of God, through the intervention of His soul [Note: ‘Mediante anima.’ He means to say, not that the Human Soul of our Lord was the means of creating the Body, but that it is the medium through which that Body is personally united with the Godhead. See Bk. xxxi. §. 42], created Himself a human body within the womb of the Virgin. For the body of the Only-Begotten is called the house of God, just as it is also called a temple; but so, that that one and the same Son of God and Man, is Himself the Inhabitor, Himself the Inhabited. But this can be rightly understood in another sense also, if the Church is called the house of Wisdom. And She hath hewn out Herself seven pillars, because She has severed the minds of preachers from the love of the present world, and has raised them up to bear the fabric of this selfsame Church. And these, because they are supported by the virtue of perfection, are designated by the number seven. She hath slain her victims, because she allowed the life of preachers to be sacrificed by persecution. She hath mingled her wine, because she has announced to us the mysteries of the Godhead and Manhood alike. She hath also set forth her table, because She hath laid open and prepared for us the food of Holy Scripture. She hath likewise sent her maidens, to summon us to the citadel and to the walls of the city, because she studied to have weak and abject preachers, to gather the faithful people to the heavenly edifices of their spiritual country. Whence the Lord praises Nathaniel in the Gospel, [John 1, 47] but yet does not number him in the class of preachers, because such as had nothing praiseworthy of their own, ought to come to preach Him; in order that that which they were doing might be known more surely to be of the truth, the more plainly it was also seen that they were not sufficient of themselves to effect it. In order then that His wonderful power might shine forth by the tongues of His preachers, it was first ordered still more wonderfully, that these preachers should have no merit of their own. The Lord, therefore, sent ‘maidens’ and bound the strength of this Leviathan, because He set forth to the world feeble preachers, and confined with the bond of His terror all the mighty, who had been of his body. And this Leviathan is bound in His own person by maidens, when, on the light of truth shining forth by weak preachers, the ancient enemy is not permitted to rage, at his will, against the minds of the Elect, but is restrained by signs and mighty wonders from holding all whom he desires under the bondage of unbelief. He, therefore, who gives strength against him to the weak, works this mightily by Himself. But because the Lord informs us whom He sends against him, He now also adds what they do who are sent. It follows;

Ver. 25. His friends shall cut him in pieces; the merchants shall divide him. [E.V. 41, 6]




33. This Leviathan is cut in pieces, as often as his members are severed from him by the sword of the Divine Word. For when wicked men hear the word of truth, and, smitten with holy fear, suspend their imitation of the ancient enemy, he, from whom those who wickedly adhered to him are withdrawn, is himself divided in his own body. But He terms those His ‘friends,’ whom before He calls ‘maidens,’ those also He calls ‘merchants,’ whom He had termed ‘friends.’ For holy preachers are first ‘maidens’ through their fear, afterwards ‘friends’ through faith, at last ‘merchants’ also through their actions. For it is said to them when weak; Fear not, little flock, for it hath pleased the Father to give you a kingdom. [Luke 12, 32] It is said to them again, growing strong, 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] Lastly, they are ordered when going forth to carry on their business; Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature. [Mark 16, 15] For in the preaching of the faith a kind of traffic is, as it were, carried on; when the word is given to, and faith received from, the hearers. They make as it were a kind of traffic, who make a venture [‘prærogant’] with their preaching, and bring back faith from the people. They impart to them faith, and immediately receive back their holy life. For if the preaching of the righteous had not been a traffic, the Psalmist surely would not be saying, Take a psalm, and give a timbrel. [Ps. 81, 2] For in a timbrel, leather is dried, in order that it may sound. What is meant then by saying, Take a psalm, and give a timbrel, except this? Take ye the spiritual song of the heart, and give back the temporal maceration of the body. If heavenly preaching had not been a traffic, Solomon would never say of Holy Church under the type of a virtuous woman, She made fine linen, and sold it, and delivered a girdle to the Canaanite. [Prov. 31, 24] For what is signified by a garment of fine linen, but the subtle texture of holy preaching? In which men rest softly, because the mind of the faithful is refreshed therein by heavenly hope. Whence also the animals are shewn to Peter in a linen sheet, [Acts 10, 11. 12.] because the souls of sinners mercifully gathered together are inclosed in the gentle quiet of faith. The Church, therefore, made and sold this fine garment, because she imparted in words that faith which she had woven by belief; and received from unbelievers a life of upright conversation. And she delivered a girdle to the Canaanite, because by the might of the righteousness she displayed, she constrained the lax doings of the Gentile world, in order that that might be maintained in their doings which is commanded, Let your loins be girded about. [Luke 12, 35] The Lord, therefore, in searching out for His preachers finds them as ‘maidens,’ by changing them He makes them ‘friends,’ by enriching sets them forth as ‘merchants.’ For they who in their infirmity were at first afraid of the threats of the world, ascend afterwards to know the Divine counsels. But when enriched with virtues, they are led as far as to carry on the traffic of faith, in order that by their threats and persuasions they may smite the members of this Leviathan the more severely, the more truly, having become even friends, they unite themselves to the love of the Truth; and that they may withdraw from him more quickly the souls of sinners, the more, having become skilful traffickers, they display in themselves the most ample treasures of virtues. For that the possession of this Leviathan is, much to their praise, taken from him by the preachers of God, the voice of Truth promises by the Prophet, saying, And if thou wilt separate the precious from the vile, thou shall be as My mouth. [Jer. 15, 19] For he in truth separates the precious from the vile, who cuts off the minds of men from accursed [‘reproba’] imitation of the ancient enemy. He is rightly called the mouth of God, because by him doubtless the divine words are uttered. It follows,

Ver. 26. Wilt thou fill nets with his skin, and the cabin of fishes with his head? [E.V. 41, 7]




34. What is designated by ‘nets,’ or a ‘cabin of fishes,’ except the churches of the faithful which make one Catholic Church? Whence it is written in the Gospel, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net cast into the sea, and gathering of every kind of fishes. [Matt. 13, 47] The Church is in truth called the kingdom of heaven, for while the Lord exalts her conduct to things above, she already reigns herself in the Lord by heavenly conversation. And it is also rightly compared to a net cast into the sea, gathering of every kind of fishes; because when cast into this gentile world, it rejected no one, but caught the wicked with the good, the proud with the humble, the angry with the gentle, and the foolish with the wise. But by the ‘skin’ of this Leviathan we understand the foolish, and by his ‘head,’ the wise ones of his body. Or certainly by the ‘skin,’ which is outermost, are designated those who serve him as inferiors in these meanest offices, but by the ‘head’ those placed over them. And the Lord observing the proper order rightly declares that He will fill these ‘nets,’ or ‘cabin of fishes,’ that is, His Church, and the wishes of the faithful with his ‘skin’ first, and afterwards with his ‘head.’ Because, as we said before, He first chose the weak, that He might confound the strong afterwards. [l Cor. l, 27] He chose in truth the foolish things of the world, to confound the wise. For He gathered together the unlearned first, and philosophers afterwards; and He taught not fishermen by means of orators, but with wondrous power He subdued orators by means of fishermen. He says therefore, Wilt thou fill nets with his skin, or the cabin of fishes with his head? Thou understandest, As I, Who first gather within the Church of the faithful the most distant, and the lowest, as the ‘skin’ of the devil, and afterwards subdue to Myself his ‘head,’ that is, wise adversaries. It follows; Wilt thou lay thine hand upon him? That is, As I, Who restraining him by My mighty power, permit him not to rage more than is expedient, and Who, as far as I shall have permitted his cruelty, turn it to the benefit of My Elect. For certainly to lay a hand upon him, is to subdue him by the might of virtue. It is said then to blessed Job in a question;

Ver. 27. Wilt thou lay thine hand upon him? [E.V. 41, 8]


As if it were openly said, wilt thou restrain him with thine own strength? Whence it is also fitly subjoined;

Remember the battle, and speak no more.




35. The deep dispensation of God’s judgment for this reason often either assails His well-deserving servants with threats, or presses on them with scourges, or weighs them down by some superimposed burdens, or entangles them in laborious employments, because it foresees with wonderful power, that if they were to remain quiet, and in freedom under tranquillity, they would sink beneath the wounds of the mind from being unable to endure the temptations of the adversary. Whilst then it engages them in scourges or burdens to be endured without, it protects them from receiving the darts of temptations within. For it is frequently a practice for a physician to draw out the inflammation of the bowels into an itching on the skin; and he often effects a cure within, by causing an outward wound. In like manner the medicine of the Divine dispensation frequently causes the removal of an inward wound by outward pains, and the throwing out of that inward corruption of sins, which would otherwise occupy the mind, by the deep wounds of scourges. And yet frequently, when men are not conscious to themselves of an open sin, and are either tortured by pain, or weighed down by labours, they break out into complaints against the Just and Almighty Judge; from not observing against how mighty an adversary they are waging war. But did they but observe anxiously his irresistible strength, they would not murmur at the outward sufferings they endure.


36. But these seem to us grievous, for the very reason that we do not like to consider our still more grievous contests with our secret adversary. From which assaults, as we said, we are frequently defended, when scourged, and concealed when afflicted. For if our flesh is afflicted with no pain, before it is strengthened with the incorruption of the resurrection, it is unchecked in temptations. But who can be ignorant that it is much better to burn with the heat of fevers, than with the fire of sins? And yet when we are seized with a fever, because we neglect attending to the heat of sins, which might possess us, we murmur at the blow. Who can be ignorant, that it is much better to be held in bondage by cruel men, than to be under the power of the flattering spirits of devils? And yet when we are galled by the yoke of our human condition [perhaps ‘of subjection to man’], in the deep judgment of God, we break out into complaint, doubtless because we do not consider that if no condition of bondage oppressed us, our mind, more fatally free, would perchance be in bondage to many iniquities. We believe then the sufferings we endure to be weighty, because we see not how severe and irresistible are the assaults of the crafty enemy against us. For every weight would be as nothing to our mind; if it considered the assaults of the secret adversary which might oppress it. But what if Almighty God were to lighten the burdens we suffer, and yet withdraw from us His assistance, and leave us amid the temptations of this Leviathan? Where shall we betake ourselves, when so mighty an enemy is raging against us, if we are not defended by any protection of our Creator? Because, therefore, blessed Job was not conscious to himself of a fault, and yet was enduring severe scourges, lest he should haply exceed in the sin of murmuring, let him be reminded what to fear, and let it be said to him, Remember the battle, and speak no more. As if it were plainly said to him, If thou considerest the contest of the secret enemy against thee, thou dost not blame whatever thou sufferest from Me. If thou beholdest the sword of the adversary assailing thee, thou dost not at all dread the scourge of a Father. For thou seest with what scourge I smite thee, but thou omittest to look from how great an enemy I keep thee free by My scourging. Remember therefore the battle, and speak no more: that is, keep thyself the more silent under the discipline of a Father, the more thou seest that thou art weak for the assaults of the enemy. Whilst then thou art smitten by My correction, in order that thou mayest bear it with patience, recal thine enemy to mind, and consider not that every thing thou sufferest is hard, when by outward tortures thou art freed from inward suffering. But because this Leviathan flatters himself with a false promise of the Divine compassion, after He had spoken of the terror of his strength, and had roused the mind of blessed Job with circumspection towards Him, (saying, Remember the battle, and say no more;) in order to shew his unpardonable guilt, He immediately added;

Ver. 28. Behold, his hope shall disappoint him. [E.V. 41. 9]




37. But this ought to be so understood, as to be referred to his body also; because all wicked men who fear not the strictness of Divine justice, flatter themselves in vain on His compassion. And He presently returns to console us, and foretels his coming destruction at the last judgment, saying; And in the sight of all he shall be cast down. For he will be cast down in the sight of all, because when the eternal Judge then terribly appears, when legions of Angels stand at His side, when the whole ministry of heavenly Powers is attending, and all the Elect are brought to behold this spectacle, this cruel and mighty monster is brought captive into the midst, and with his own body, that is, with all reprobates, is consigned to the eternal fires of hell, when it is said, Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, which was prepared for the devil and his angels. [Matt. 25, 41] O what a spectacle will that be, when this most huge monster will be displayed to the eyes of the Elect, which at this time of contest, could he but be seen, might have too much terrified them! But it is so ordered by the secret and wonderful judgment of God, that he is now conquered by His grace, though not seen by the combatants, and that then he is beheld by the joyful victors as already captive. But they then learn more fully how much they are indebted to the Divine assistance, when they have once seen so mighty a beast, whom they have now conquered in their weakness; and behold in the huge size of their enemy, how much they owe to the grace of their Defender. For our soldiers then return from this battle bringing back the trophies of their virtues; and when, having recovered their bodies, they are now about to obtain, in that judgment, an admission to the heavenly kingdom, they behold first the most monstrous strength of this ancient serpent, that they may not esteem lightly the danger they have escaped. It is therefore well said; And in the sight of all he will be cast down, because the sight of his death then causes joy, whose life, being now endured, daily engages with tortures in contest with the just. But as if we should immediately complain on hearing these things, and should say to the Lord, ‘O Lord, Who art not ignorant that this Leviathan is of such great strength, why dost Thou arouse him to engage in contest with our weakness?’ He immediately added;

Chap. xli. ver. 1. I will not rouse him as one that is cruel.


And as if the ground of the reason were immediately asked by us, ‘How dost Thou not arouse him, as one that is cruel, since we know that Thou permittest him to devour and to destroy so many?’ He immediately added, saying,

Ver. 2. For who can resist My countenance? and who hath first given to Me that I should repay him? [E.V. 10. and 11.]




38. In which two verses He fully stated both the might of His own power, and the whole weight of the reason. For on account of His power He said, For who can resist My countenance? And on account of the reason He added; Who hath first given to Me, that I should repay him? As if He said, I do not rouse him up as one that is cruel, because I both rescue by My might My Elect from his power, and again, I condemn the reprobate not unjustly, but with good reason. That is, I am both able to rescue marvellously those whom I mercifully elect, and those whom I reject, I do not unjustly abandon. For no one has first given any thing to God, in order that the Divine Grace should follow him. For if we have prevented God by our good works, where is that which the Prophet says; His mercy shall prevent me? [Ps. 59, 10] If we have given any good works, in order to deserve His grace, where is that which the Apostle says, By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, but it is the gift of God, not of works? [Eph. 2, 8] If our love prevented God, where is that which John the Apostle says; Not that we loved God, but that He first loved us? [l John 4, 10] Where is that which the Lord says by Hosea; I will love thee of My own accord? [Hos. 14, 4] If without His gift, by our own strength we follow God, where is that which the Truth protests in the Gospel, saying, Without Me ye can do nothing? [John 15, 5] Where is that which He says; No man can come to Me, except the Father, Which hath sent Me, hath drawn him? [ib. 6, 44] Where is that which He says again; Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you? [ib. 15, 16] If we only prevent the gifts of good works by thinking aright through our own strength, where is that which is again said so salutarily by Paul, that all self-confidence of the human mind might be cut away from the very root of the heart, when he says; Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God? [2 Cor. 3, 5] No one therefore prevents God by his merits, so as to be able to hold Him as his debtor. But the All-just Creator has in a wonderful manner both chosen some beforehand, and justly leaves some in their own wicked habits.


39. But yet He does not display to His Elect mercy without justice, because He here weighs them down with hard afflictions. Nor again does He exercise on the reprobate justice without mercy, because He here patiently endures those, whom He condemns hereafter for ever. If therefore both the Elect follow the grace which prevents them, and the reprobate receive according to that which they deserve; both the Elect find something to praise in His mercy, and the reprobate have nothing to blame in His justice. It is, therefore, well said; Who hath first given to Me, that I should repay him? As if it were plainly said; I am not compelled by any reason to spare the reprobate, because I am not bound to them as a debtor by any doings of theirs. For they therefore receive not the eternal rewards of the heavenly country, because now, when they could deserve, they have of their free will despised them. But this very free will is fashioned aright in the Elect, when their mind is raised above earthly desires, by the inspiration of grace.


40. For the good which we do belongs both to God, and to ourselves. It is God’s by preventing grace, our own by the free will which follows. For if it is not of God, why do we return Him thanks for ever? Again, if it is not our own, why do we hope for rewards to be conferred on us? Because then we do not give thanks undeservedly, we know that we are prevented by His grace. And again, because we do not seek for recompense undeservedly, we know that by the compliance of free will, we have chosen good deeds to perform. It follows; All things that are under heaven are Mine. It is clear to all persons, that not only those things that are under heaven, but that those very things, which from being created above the heavens, are called heavenly, subserve the will of Him by Whom they remember they were created. Why then does He speak only of things below and say,

All things that are under the heaven are Mine?




41. But because He is speaking of Leviathan, who no longer dwells in the abode of the ethereal heaven, He asserts that all things that are under the heaven are His, in order to teach that he also who has fallen from heaven, is subject to His power. As if He said, This Leviathan has lost indeed My blessedness, but he has not escaped My authority: because even those very powers, which oppose Me by their evil doings, are subservient to Me. It follows;

Ver. 3. I will not spare him, nor his mighty words, and framed for entreaty. [E.V. 12]




42. Who can think this, which he knows he has never read, that the devil is about to ask pardon for his faults? But perhaps that man, whom this Leviathan in the end of the world makes his peculiar vessel, (whom, as Paul attests, the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming,) [2 Thess, 2, 8] alarmed at the presence of such great majesty, because he is unable to exercise his strength, bends himself [‘inclinatur’] to prayer. But this can be more fitly understood of his body, that is of all the wicked, who have recourse at last to words of supplication, because they now scorn to perform its deeds. Whence the Truth says in the Gospel, Last of all come also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. [Matt. 25, 11] To whom it is immediately replied, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. [ib. 12] But when he is said to compose words mighty for entreaty, he urges us the more to understand at this time that which we have said of his body in time to come.


43. For there are some within Holy Church who offer to God long prayers, but have not the conduct of those who entreat. For they follow after heavenly promises in their petitions, but avoid them in their deeds. These sometimes feel even tears in their prayer, but when after the seasons of prayer pride has struck their mind, they immediately swell up with the haughtiness of high-mindedness; when avarice urges them, they frequently glow with the heat of covetous thought; when lust has tempted, they pant at once with unlawful desires; when anger has persuaded them, the flame of madness soon consumes their gentleness of mind. As we have said then, they both experience tears in prayer, and yet at the close of their prayers, when they are assaulted with the suggestions of sins, they remember not that they had wept for desire of the heavenly kingdom. Which Balaam openly stated concerning himself, who says, on beholding the tabernacles of the just, Let my soul die with the death of the just, and let my last end be like theirs. [Numb. 23, 10] But when the time of compunction passed, he gave counsel against the life of those, to whom he had asked to be made like even in death; and when he found an occasion of avarice, he immediately forgot whatever he had wished for himself in the way of innocence. A prayer, then, which the perseverance of continual love does not hold fast, has not the weight of virtue. And, as the contrary of this, it is well said of Hannah when weeping, And her countenance was no more changed to a different form; [1 Sam. 1, 18] namely, because her mind lost not after her prayers, by wantoning in foolish joy, that which at the season of its prayer, it sought for with hardness of groans. But by some the labour of prayer is turned to the purpose of traffic. Of whom the Truth says in the Gospel, Which devour widows houses under the pretence of long prayers. These shall receive greater judgment. [Mark 12, 40] Because therefore the prayers of the wicked, who are the body of this Leviathan, are in no way spared, when their prayers are destroyed by their conduct, it is now rightly said, I will not spare him, nor his mighty words, and framed for entreaty. Although from the words being said to be mighty, and framed for entreaty, the emptiness of their prayer is plainly pointed out. For truly to pray is to utter bitter groans in compunction, and not well arranged words. But because the more severely the ancient enemy is crushed, the more does he expand in wickedness by manifold arguments; and because the Lord manifests his snares the more mercifully, the more artfully He observes them to be concealed, it is rightly subjoined,

Ver. 4. Who will uncover the face of his garment? [E.V. 13]




44. This Leviathan tempts in one way the minds of men which are religious, and in another those which are devoted to this world. For he presents openly to the wicked the evil things they desire; but he secretly lays snares for the good, and deceives them under a show of sanctity: he presents himself to the one more manifestly as wicked, as though they were his friends, but to the others he covers himself, as it were, with a cloke of comeliness, as if they were strangers, in order to introduce secretly, concealed beneath the cover of a good action, the evils which he cannot publicly effect. Whence also his members, when they are unable to injure by open wickedness, often assume the guise of a good action, and display themselves to be wicked in conduct, but yet deceive by their appearance of sanctity. For if the wicked were openly evil, they would not be received at all by the good. But they assume something of the look of the good, in order that while good men receive in them the appearance which they love, they may take also the poison, which they avoid, blended with it. Whence the Apostle Paul, on beholding some men under the cloke of preaching devoting themselves to the service of the belly, says, For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. What wonder then if his ministers are transformed as the ministers of righteousness? [2 Cor. 11, 14] Joshua feared this transformation when, on seeing an Angel, he asked him on which side he was, saying, Art thou ours, or our adversaries? [Josh. 5, 13] in order, namely, that if he were of the adverse force [‘virtutis’], he might, from knowing that he was suspected, shrink from practising deception. Because therefore this Leviathan, in attempting a work of iniquity, frequently clothes himself with a semblance of sanctity, and because the garb of his simulation cannot be detected except by Divine grace, it is well said, Who will uncover the face of his garment? Thou understandest, except Myself, Who inspire into the minds of My servants the grace of most subtle discernment, in order that, on the unveiling of his malice, they may see his face exposed, which he conceals closely covered under the garb of sanctity. And because he endeavours to corrupt the minds of the faithful sometimes by openly shewing himself, sometimes by suggestion, (for he acts at one time by deed, at another by persuasion,) it is rightly subjoined;

And who will enter into the midst of his mouth?




45. Thou understandest, But I, Who by the discreet minds of the Elect examine the words of his suggestions, and prove that they are not such as they sounded. For they seem to promise what is good, but they lead to a fatal end. To enter, therefore, into the middle of his mouth is so to penetrate his words of cunning, as to make, not their sound, but their meaning, to be considered. Adam would not enter into the middle of his mouth, when he neglected to consider carefully the purpose of his persuasion. For he believed in truth that he was receiving Divinity through him, and he lost his immortality. From incautiously remaining then external to the meaning of his words, he utterly exposed himself to be devoured by his mouth. It follows;

Ver. 5. Who will open the gates of his face? [E.V. 14]




46. The ‘gates of his face’ are wicked teachers, who are called the gates of his face for this reason, because, every one enters through them, in order that this Leviathan may be seen, as it were, in the princedom of his power. For as sacred Scripture is wont to call holy men gates of Sion, [Ps. 87, 2] (for Sion is by interpretation, ‘watching,’ and we deservedly call holy preachers the gates of Sion, because by their life and doctrine we enter the secrets of heavenly contemplation,) so also are the teachers of errors signified by the gates of this Leviathan; for when their false preaching is received, the way of perdition is opened to their wretched hearers. But these gates are generally opened before the eyes of men, in order to admit, but yet are closed in order to seize; because in appearance they present right things, but in their doings they persuade evil things. They are closed therefore in order to seize, because they are kept by outward hypocrisy from being discerned within. But yet the Lord opens them with wonderful power; because He makes the hearts of hypocrites comprehensible to His Elect. Who, therefore, will open the gates of His face? Thou understandest, except Myself, Who make manifest with clear understanding to My Elect the teachers of errors who are concealed beneath the semblance of sanctity. And because Antichrist, who rages with a twofold error, and endeavours both to draw the hearts of men to himself by sending his preachers, and to bend them by exciting the powers of the world, will also gain possession of these chief powers, the Lord well added concerning this Leviathan, saying,

In a circle is the terror of his teeth.




47. For He wished to change the expression, and, in another phrase, to call these his ‘teeth,’ whom He had above called ‘gates.’ For false preachers are his ‘gates,’ because they open the entrance to perdition. They are his ‘teeth,’ because they break down from the solidity of truth those whom they seize in error. For as by the teeth of Holy Church we understand those who crush by their preachings the hardness of sinners, (whence it is said to her by Solomon, Thy teeth as flocks of sheep that have been shorn, coming up from the washing; [Cant. 4, 2] and they are deservedly compared to shorn and washed sheep, because when assuming an innocent life they laid aside the old fleeces of their former conversation in the laver of Baptism,) so also the teachers of errors are typified by the teeth of this Leviathan. Because they mangle with their bite the life of the reprobate, and offer them, when withdrawn from the integrity of truth, in the sacrifice of falsehood. Their preaching might easily be despised by their hearers, but the additional terror of worldly powers exalts it in the judgment of men.


48. It is, therefore, rightly said, In a circle is the terror of his teeth, that is, the corrupted powers of this world protect the wicked preachers of Antichrist. For many of the powerful strive to alarm by cruelty those whom they seek to seduce with their words. In a circle, therefore, is the terror of his teeth. As if it were openly said, These false preachers crush some by their persuasions, because there are others around them, who afflict with their terrors the minds of the weak. What a season of persecution will that appear, then, when some rage with words, and others with swords, to pervert the piety of the faithful? For who would not despise, even if he were weak, the teeth of this Leviathan, if terror did not defend them by a circle of worldly powers? But they are proceeded against with twofold cunning, because that which is said to them by some with nattering words, is enforced by others with the blows of swords. And the conduct of both of these, that is, of the powerful, and the persuasive [‘potentium atque loquentium’], is summed up in the Apocalypse of John, in a short sentence, wherein it is said, The power of the horses was in their mouth, and in their tails. [Rev. 9, 19] For by the ‘mouth’ is typified the knowledge of the learned, but by the ‘tail’ the power of men of the world. For by the ‘tail’ which is behind is designated the temporal condition of this world which must be put behind us, of which the Apostle Paul says, But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. [Phil. 3, 13] For every thing which passes by, is behind; but every thing which coming abides, is before. The power therefore of these horses, that is, of most evil preachers, who are hurrying on every where by carnal impulse, is in their mouth and their tail. Because they themselves indeed preach perverse things in their persuasion, but, by relying on temporal powers, exalt themselves by means of those things which are behind. And because they themselves may possibly appear despicable, they exact respect to themselves from their wicked hearers, by means of those, by whose patronage they are supported. Whence in this place also fear is rightly described as being in the circle of his teeth, because it is caused by many terrors that temporal power, though not the sentence of truth, is certainly dreaded in their perverse preachings. Whence the Psalmist well described this same Antichrist, saying, Under his tongue is labour, and sorrow: he sitteth in ambush with the rich in secret places. [Ps. 10, 7, 8] For, on account of his perverse doctrines, labour and sorrow is under his tongue. But on account of his display of miracles he sitteth in ambush; but on account of the glory of secular power, with the rich in secret places. But because he uses at the same time both the craft of miracles, and earthly power, he is said to sit both in secret places, and with the rich.

Ver. 6. His body as molten shields. [E.V. 15]




49. Holy Scripture is wont to use the word ‘shield,’ sometimes in a favourable, sometimes in an unfavourable way. For the defence of a shield is often put for Divine protection, but it is sometimes used for the opposition of man. For it is put for Divine protection, as is said by the Psalmist, Thou hast crowned us with the shield of Thy good will. [Ps. 5, 12] The Lord is said to crown as with a shield, because those whom He assists by protecting, He crowns by rewarding. Again, a ‘shield’ is put by the same prophet for the opposition of man, as he says elsewhere, There brake He the horns, the bow, the shield, the sword, and the battle. [Ps. 76, 3] For by ‘horns’ is designated the haughtiness of the proud, by the ‘bow’ the snares of those who strike from far; but by a ‘shield’ obstinate hardness in defence, by a ‘sword’ a blow near at hand; but in ‘battle’ the movement of the mind itself against God. And the whole of this is doubtless crushed in Holy Church, when the minds of those who resist God are tamed by the yoke of humility placed upon them. Hence it is again said by the same Psalmist, He will break the bow, and snap the arms, and burn the shields in the fire. [Ps. 46, 9] For the Lord breaks the bow, when He scatters the secret machinations of those who lie in wait. He snaps the arms, when He crushes the patronage of man, which had been raised up against Him. He burns the shields in the fire, when by the heat of the Holy Spirit He kindles into the warmth of penitence and confession the minds of sinners which defend themselves with stubborn hardness. But because the body of this Leviathan is in this place compared to ‘molten’ shields, it is suggested to us to enquire, that every vessel which is molten is indeed hard, but yet when it falls it is usually fragile. If shields then are molten, they are strong in bearing the blows of arrows, but are fragile when they fall. They are not indeed penetrated by the blow of those that strike them, but shiver into fragments by their own fall. The body therefore of this Leviathan, that is, all the wicked, because they are hardened by obstinacy, but fragile in their life, are compared to molten shields. For when they hear the words of preaching, they permit not any shafts of reproof to penetrate them; because in every sin which they commit they oppose the shield of proud defence. For when any one of such persons is reproved for the guilt of his iniquity, he does not think at once how to correct his fault, but what to oppose in aid of his defence. He is therefore not penetrated by any arrow of truth; because he receives the words of holy reproof on the shield of proud defence. Whence it is well said by Jeremiah concerning the Jews who were guarding themselves against the precepts of the Lord by a proud defence, Thou wilt render unto them a recompense, O Lord, according to the work of their hands. [Lam. 3, 64] And he immediately mentioned this same recompense more expressly, saying, Thou wilt give them a shield of heart, Thy labour. [ib. 65] For the labour of the Lord which appeared among men was His passible Humanity, which the Jews despised, when they beheld it, with their proud thoughts; and they scorned to believe Him to be immortal, Whom in His passible nature they saw to be mortal. And when they beheld His humility, being hardened with the haughtiness of pride, they laboured with the greatest care that the holy words of preachers should not penetrate their minds. Whilst the Lord then was rendering them a recompense for their evil deeds, He ‘gave them as a shield of heart His labour:’ because by a righteous judgment He proved them to be obstinately proud against Him, by His very labouring in infirmity for our sakes. For they rejected in truth the words of preachers, because they disdained in the Lord the weaknesses of His sufferings. They had therefore the labour of the Lord as a shield of heart against the Lord Himself, because He appeared despicable to men of haughty thoughts, even in that He became humble for their sake.


50. This shield, as we have already said above, that first sinner held up; who, when the Lord asked him, why he had touched the forbidden tree, referred not the fault to himself, but answered that he had received it from the woman whom the Lord had given him; in order indirectly to throw back his guilt on his Maker, Who had given him a woman to offer such advice. The woman also when questioned held up this shield, when she also referred not the blame to herself, but replied that it was by the persuasions of the serpent, saying, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat; [Gen. 3, 13] in order that she also might indirectly refer her guilt to her Maker, for having permitted the serpent to enter in thither to persuade them thus. But the serpent is not questioned at this time, because his repentance was not sought for. But they, whose repentance was sought for, held up the shield of most sinful defence against the words of most righteous reproof. Whence it is now become even a habit with sinners, for a fault to be defended, when it is reproved, and for guilt to be increased by the very means by which it ought to be terminated. It is therefore well said, His body as molten shields; because all the wicked prepare shields of defence as if against the shafts of enemies, that the words of their reprovers may not reach them. But He lays open to us still more expressly this very body of his, when He subjoins;

Compacted with scales pressing each other.




51. It is said that the body of the dragon is covered with scales, to keep it from being quickly penetrated with shafts. In like manner the whole body of the devil, that is, the multitude of the reprobates, when reproved for its iniquity, endeavours to excuse itself with whatever evasions it can, and opposes, as it were, some scales of defence, that it may not be transfixed with the arrow of truth. For whoever, when reproved, seeks to excuse rather than to lament his sin, is covered, as it were, with scales, when assailed by holy preachers with the sword of the word. He has scales, and therefore the sword of the word has no way of reaching his heart. For the spiritual sword is kept by the hardness of the flesh from being plunged into him.


52. Saul had become hardened against the Lord with carnal wisdom, when no arrow of Gospel preaching penetrated his heart. But after he had been smitten by severe reproof from heaven, and blinded by the heavenly vision, (for he had lost light in order to receive it,) on coming to Ananias he is illuminated. And because in this illumination he lost the stubbornness of his defence, it is well written of him; There fell from his eyes as it had been scales. [Acts 9, 18] The hardness of a carnal integument had in truth pressed upon him, and therefore he saw not the rays of the true Light. But after his haughty resistances were overcome, the scales of his defences fell off. They fell indeed under the hands of Ananias from the eyes of his body, but they had already fallen before, at the reproof of the Lord, from the eyes of his heart. For when he was lying wounded with the shaft of deep reproof, he asked with heart already humble and penetrated, saying, Lord, what Wilt thou have me to do? [Acts 9, 6] The arrow of truth had already reached the inmost parts of the heart, on the removal, namely, of the scales, when he had laid aside the haughtiness of pride, confessing that Lord Whom he had assailed, and not knowing what to do, was thus enquiring. Let us behold, where is that cruel persecutor, where the ravenous wolf. Behold, he is already turned into a sheep, which asks for the path of the shepherd in order to follow it. And it is to be observed, that when he said, Who art Thou, Lord? [ib. 5] the Lord does not reply to him; I am the Only-Begotten of the Father, I am the Beginning, I am the Word before all ages. For because Saul scorned to believe in the Incarnate Lord, and had despised the weaknesses of His Humanity, he heard from heaven that which he had despised; I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom thou persecutest. [ib.] As if He were saying, Hear from Me this from above, which thou despisest in Me below. Thou hadst scorned the coming of the Maker of heaven on earth, therefore learn from heaven of the Man from earth, in order that thou mayest more greatly fear in Me the mysteries of My infirmity, the more thou beholdest even them exalted in heavenly places to excellence of power. In humbling thee, therefore, I teach thee not that I am God before all worlds; but thou hearest from Me that which thou disdainest to believe of Me. For after He had said, Jesus, He added, still farther to express His earthly abode, of Nazareth. As if it were openly said, Bear with the infirmities of My humility, and lose the scales of thy pride.


53. But it should yet be known, that though these scales of defences cover nearly the whole of mankind, yet that they specially weigh upon the minds of hypocrites, and crafty men. For they shrink the more vehemently from confessing their own faults, the more they are foolishly ashamed of appearing as sinners before men. When their pretended sanctity is therefore reproved, and their hidden wickedness is detected, it opposes the scales of defence, and repels the sword of truth. Whence it is well said by the Prophet against Judaea, There the lamia hath lain down, and hath found rest for herself, there the hedgehog had its hole. [Is. 34, 14. 15.] For by the ‘lamia’ are designated hypocrites, but by the ‘hedgehog’ all the wicked who protect themselves by divers defences. For the ‘lamia’ is said to have the face of a man, but the body of a beast. Thus also in the first appearance which all hypocrites present, there is a kind of fashion of sanctity; but that which follows is the body of a beast, because the deeds which they attempt under the show of goodness, are very wicked. But under the name of ‘hedgehog’ is designated the defence of wicked minds; because, namely, when a hedgehog is being seized, his head is seen, and his feet appear, and all his body is beheld; but presently, as soon as he has been seized, he gathers himself up into a ball, draws his feet inward, hides his head; and the whole which was before seen at once, is lost at once in the hands of him that holds it. Thus, doubtless, thus are wicked minds, when they are caught in their own excesses. For the head of the hedgehog is seen, because it is seen with what beginnings the sinner made his approach to sin. The feet of the hedgehog are seen, because it is seen with what footsteps his wickedness has been perpetrated; and yet the wicked mind, by suddenly adducing its excuses, draws its feet inward, because it conceals all the footsteps of its iniquity. It withdraws its head, because, by its extraordinary defences, it shews that it has never even begun any thing wicked; and it remains as a ball in the hand of him that holds it, because he who reproves a sinner, suddenly losing all which he had before known, holds the sinner involved within his conscience, and he who had before seen the whole, by detecting it, being deceived by the evasion of a wicked defence, is equally ignorant of the whole. The hedgehog therefore has a hole in the reprobate, because the wicked mind, gathering itself within itself, hides in the darkness of its defence. But the Divine discourse shews us also how the sinner, in thus excusing himself, and in thus clouding over, by his defences which serve to obscure [‘caliginosis’], the eye of his reprover which is fastened upon him, is supported by those who are like him. It follows;

Ver. 7. One is joined to another, and not even a breath comes between them. [E.V. 16]




54. These scales of sinners are both hardened and joined together, so as not to be penetrated by any breath of life from the mouth of preachers. For those whom a like guilt associates, the same does a perverse defence also crowd together in obstinate agreement, in order that they may protect each other with mutual defence for their sins. For every one fears for himself, when he beholds another admonished or corrected, and therefore arises with the like feeling against the words of reprovers, because, in protecting another, he protects himself. It is therefore well said; One is joined to another, and not even a breath comes between them; because while they mutually shield each other in their iniquities by their proud defence, they suffer not the breath of holy exhortation in any way to reach them. But He added still more plainly their deadly agreement, saying;

Ver. 8. They will adhere one to another, and holding each other they will not be separated. [E.V. 17]




55. For they who might be corrected, if divided, persevere, when united, in the obstinacy of their iniquities: and are day by day the more easily separable from the knowledge of righteousness, the more they are not mutually separated from each other by any reproach. For as it is wont to be injurious if unity be wanting to the good, so is it fatal if it be not wanting to the wicked. For unity strengthens the perverse, while it makes them accord; and it makes them the more incorrigible, the more unanimous. Of this unity of the reprobate it is said by a wise man; The congregation of sinners is tow gathered together. [Ecclus. 21, 9] Of this the Prophet Nahum says; As thorns embrace each other, so is the feast of those who drink together. [Nahum 1, 10] For the feast of the reprobate is the delight of temporal pleasures. In which feast they doubtless drink together, who make themselves drunk alike with the allurements of their delight. Because therefore an equal guilt unites, for their own defence, the members of this Leviathan, that is, all the wicked, whom the word of God compares to scales compacted together, it is well said; They will adhere one to another, and holding each other, they will never be separated. For they cannot be separated when holding each other, because they are the more bound together for their mutual defence, the more they remember that they are like each other in all things. Having described then his body, the discourse goes back to his head, and what power the ancient enemy exercises by himself in the time of the closing persecution, is set forth. For it follows;

Ver. 9. His sneezing is the splendour of fire. [E.V. 18]




56. This passage we expound the better, if we first enquire, how sneezing is produced. For in sneezing the breath rises up from the breast, and when it finds no pores open for its escape, it touches the brain, and, passing out condensed through the nostrils, it shakes at once all the head. In this body therefore of Leviathan, that is, in either malignant spirits, or reprobate men, who have adhered to him through resemblance in their guilt, a breath rises, as it were, from the breast, when pride exalts itself through the power of the present world. And it finds as it were no pores for escape; because in this raising up of itself against the just, it is kept, by God’s provision, from prevailing as much as it desires. But it ascends and touches and shakes the brain, because the collected pride of Satan strikes the sense more closely at the end of the world, and disturbs the head, when it excites more vehemently the author himself of malignant spirits to the persecution of the faithful, by him who is called Antichrist. Then does the condensed breath come forth through his nostrils, because the iniquity of his pride is fully set forth by the open blasts of his malice. Because therefore sneezing especially shakes the head, that last commotion of this Leviathan, with which he enters into that accursed man, and by him rules over the reprobate, is called his ‘sneezing.’ And he rouses himself at that time with such power, as to confound, if possible, even the Elect members of the Lord: he makes use of such signs and prodigies, as to seem to glitter with the power of miracles, as if with a kind of light of fire. Because his head then strives, when aroused, to shine forth with miracles, his sneezing is rightly called the splendour of fire. For in rousing himself to persecute the just, he shines forth before the eyes of the reprobate with mighty signs. And because the wise ones of the world adhere to his tyranny, and he exercises by their advice every evil which he attempts, it is rightly subjoined,

And his eyes as the eyelids of the morning.




57. For by his ‘eyes,’ which are fixed in his head, and serve the purpose of sight, his counsellors are not improperly designated, who, when they foresee in their perverse machinations in what manner what things are to be done, point out to his evil workers a way, as it were, for their feet. And they are rightly compared to the eyelids of the morning. For by the ‘eyelids of the morning’ we understand the last hours of the night, in which the night opens, as it were, its eyes, when now setting forth the beginnings of the coming light. The prudent then of this world, who adhere to the perverse counsels of the malice of Antichrist, are, as it were, the eyelids of the morning, because they declare that the faith in Christ which they meet with is, as it were, the night of error, and profess that veneration for Antichrist is the true morning. For they promise to banish the darkness, and to announce the light of truth by brilliant miracles; because they cannot persuade what they wish, unless they profess to offer better things. Whence also this very snake, when speaking to our first parents in paradise, by pretending to provide something better for them, opened as it were the eyelids of the morning, when he reproved in their innocent minds the ignorance of humanity, and promised the knowledge of Godhead. For he banished, as it were, the darkness of ignorance, and announced the divine morning of eternal knowledge, saying; Your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. [Gen. 3, 5] In like manner when coming then in that accursed man, his eyes are compared to the eyelids of the morning, because his wise ones reject the simplicity of the true faith, as if the darkness of the night which is past, and display his lying wonders as the rays of the rising sun. But because this Leviathan not only has eyes to foresee evil things with malignant designs, but also opens his mouth to pervert the minds of men, (since by his wicked preachers he inflames the hearts of his hearers to love the deceit of error,) it is fitly subjoined;

Ver. 10. Out of his mouth proceed lamps. [E.V. 19]




58. For those who look forward are called his ‘eyes,’ but those who preach, his ‘mouth.’ But lamps proceed from this ‘mouth,’ because they inflame the minds of their hearers to the love of misbelief, and from seeming to shine by wisdom, they doubtless thence burn with wickedness. But what kind of light their wisdom is, is shewn, when it is immediately subjoined,

As kindled torches of fire.




59. Behold the hypocrisy of those is now plainly described, whose preaching is compared to lamps of torches. For when a torch is lighted, it has a sweet scent, but a dismal light. And so because these preachers of Antichrist claim to themselves a show of sanctity, but yet practise works of iniquity, the smell, as it were, which they emit is pleasant, but the light they give is dark. For they smell sweetly through their pretence of righteousness, but burn gloomily by their perpetration of iniquity. The malice of their hypocrisy John sums up in a brief description in the Apocalypse, saying; I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth, having two horns like a lamb’s, and he spake as a dragon. [Rev. 13, 11] He had spoken indeed of the first beast, that is, Antichrist, in a former description; after whom this other beast is said to have also come up, because the multitude of his preachers after him boasts in his earthly power. For to come up from the earth is to boast in earthly glory. And it has two horns like a lamb, because, through his pretended sanctity, he falsely asserts that that wisdom and conduct exist in him, which the Lord truly possessed in Himself in a special manner. But because under the appearance of a lamb he infuses into his reprobate hearers the poison of serpents, it is there rightly subjoined; And he spake as a dragon. If this beast therefore, that is, the multitude of preachers, were to speak openly as a dragon, he would not appear like a lamb. But he assumes the appearance of a lamb, in order to perform the works of a dragon. Both of which points are here expressed by lamps of torches; because they both burn mistily by their malicious doings, and smell, as it were, sweetly, by the hypocrisy of their life.


60. But we must not suppose that the preachers of Antichrist will appear then only, and that now they take no part in the deception of men. For even now, before he appears himself, some preach him in words, but most by their conduct. Are not they the preachers of his hypocrisy, who while they hold the holy orders of God, grasp with all their desires the fleeting world, who profess that all their doings are virtues, but every thing they do is sin? But the more the mind of the Elect keeps close to the light, the more keenly does it see how it should distinguish virtues from vices. But what wonder is it that we do that spiritually, which we see money-changers daily performing in the body? Who, when they receive a coin, examine first its quality, afterwards its shape, but last of all, its weight, lest either brass should be concealed under the appearance of gold, or lest the shape of counterfeit coin should disgrace that which is truly gold, or lest deficient weight should prove that to be light, which is both gold, and of the proper shape. When therefore we behold the wonderful works of men whom we know not, we ought, as skilful money-changers, to betake ourselves to the scales of our heart, in order for our judgment first to weigh the gold, lest sin should conceal itself under the cloak of virtue, and lest that which is done with evil intention should be veiled under the appearance of what is right. And if the character of its intention is approved, we must next look for the shape of the stamp which has been impressed on it, whether it is stamped by approved moneyers, that is, by the ancient fathers, and is not distorted, by any error, from a resemblance to their life. But when both its quality is ascertained by its intention, and its right shape by a model, it remains for us to examine its full weight. For if a good deed which is brilliant with signs and miracles, possesses not the full amount of perfection, it ought to be anxiously considered with careful circumspection, lest an imperfect thing, when taken for a perfect one, should turn to the loss of the receiver. How then do the preachers of Antichrist, who know not in what they do the power of right intention, possess the quality of a true coin? For they seek not thereby their heavenly country, but the height of temporal glory. How do they, who, by persecuting the just, disagree with all the piety of the just, differ not from the shape of a true coin? How do they, who have not only not attained the perfection of humility, but have not even reached its threshhold, display in themselves the weight of full amount? Hence, then, hence let the Elect know how to despise the wonders of those persons, whose conduct plainly impugns every thing which is said to have been done by the holy fathers. But even the very Elect, on beholding so many wonders, and in trembling at his many miracles while they despise his life, suffer in their heart a kind of mist of doubt. Because while his wickedness exalts itself by prodigies, their clearer sight is in a measure obscured. Whence it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 11. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke. [E.V. 20]




61. For the sight of the eyes is pained by smoke. Smoke is therefore said to go out of his nostrils; because by the craft of his miracles a darkening doubt is generated for an instant even in the heart of the Elect. A smoke goes out of the mouth of Leviathan, because, on account of his lying wonders, a mist of alarm confuses the eyes even of good minds. For when his terrible signs have been seen, then do gloomy thoughts crowd together in the hearts of the Elect. It is hence that that which we have already brought forward is spoken by the mouth of Truth in the Gospel; False Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, so as even for the Elect, if possible, to be led into error. [Mark 13, 22] In which subject it must be specially enquired, how either those who are Elect can be led into error, or why the words ‘if possible’ are subjoined, as if doubtingly, when the Lord, Who foresees all things, looks forward to what is to be done. But since both the heart of the Elect is shaken with anxious thought, and yet their constancy is not moved, the Lord included both points in this one sentence, saying, So as even for the Elect, if possible, to be led into error. For to stagger in thought is, as it were, to err already. But it is immediately subjoined, If possible; because it is without question impossible for those who are Elect to be fully involved in error. But in this mist of smoke the warmth of their minds is also well expressed, when it is immediately subjoined;

As of a heated and boiling pot.




62. For at that time every soul is as a boiling pot, sustaining the assaults of its thoughts, like the foam of boiling waters, which both the fire of zeal puts in motion, and temporal oppression, after the manner of a pot, keeps confined within. Whence John also, when relating the wonders of this beast, added, So that he maketh fire come down from heaven. [Rev. 13, 13] For for fire to come down from heaven, is for flames of zeal to pour forth from the heavenly souls of the Elect. But because this Leviathan is called in another place not merely a serpent, but also a basilisk [quasi ‘little king.’], because he rules over unclean spirits, or reprobate men, as Isaiah says, Out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a basilisk, [Is. 14, 29] must attentively observe how a basilisk destroys, that by the doings of the basilisk, his malice may be more plainly made known to us. For a basilisk does not destroy with its bite, but consumes with its breath. It often also infects the air with its breath, and withers with the mere blast of its nostrils whatever it has touched, even when placed at a distance.


63. We are hence then, we are hence compelled to consider, because smoke is said to proceed from his nostrils, even before he appears openly, what he is daily working in the hearts of men by the smoke of his pestilent breath. For because, as we said also above, the sight of the eyes is weakened by smoke, smoke is rightly said to proceed from the nostrils of him, by whose hurtful inspirations an evil thought arises in the hearts of men, by which the keenness of the mind is blunted, so that the inward light is not seen. For he breathes forth darkness, as it were, from his nostrils, because from his crafty inspirations he heaps up, in the hearts of the reprobate, the heat of many thoughts, from love of this temporal life. And he multiplies, as it were, clouds [‘globos’] of smoke, because he crowds together in the mind of earthly men the most trifling anxieties of this present life. This smoke, which comes forth from his nostrils, sometimes affects for a time the eyes even of the Elect. For the Prophet was enduring this smoke within, when he said, Mine eye is disturbed because of anger. [Ps. 6, 7] He was oppressed by its pouring in upon him, saying, My heart is troubled within me, and the light of mine eyes is not with me. [Ps. 38, 10] For this smoke deadens in truth the keenness of the heart, because with the cloud of its darkness it disturbs the serenity of inward peace. But God cannot be recognised, except by a tranquil heart. Whence it is again said by the same Prophet, Be still, and see that I am God. [Ps. 46, 10] But that mind cannot be at ease [‘vacare’], which is oppressed with inundations of this smoke; because volumes of earthly thoughts are crowded therein from love of the present life. The light of inward rest is therefore lost through this smoke, because the eye of the heart is darkened, when it is confused by the irritation of cares.


64. But this smoke annoys the minds of the Elect in one way, and blinds the eyes of the reprobate in another. For it is dispersed from the eyes of the good by the breath of spiritual desires, so as not to become dense, through the prevalence of wretched thoughts. But in the minds of the reprobate the more freely it collects itself by means of foul thoughts, the more entirely does it remove from them the light of truth. This smoke as it crowds into the hearts of the reprobate so many unlawful desires, swells out, as it were, into so many clouds before them.


65. And we certainly know that in clouds of smoke, when some are fading away [‘inanescunt’] above, others rise up from below: so too in carnal thoughts, though some evil desires pass away, yet others succeed. But frequently the wretched mind beholds what has already passed, but does not behold where it is still detained. It rejoices in being no longer subject to some sins, but neglects to be careful, and to lament, because others have succeeded in their place, to which perhaps it yields more sinfully. And so it is that, while some sins pass away, and others succeed, the heart of the reprobate is possessed without intermission by this serpent. Whence it is well said by the Prophet Joel, That which the palmer-worm hath left, the locust hath eaten; and that which the locust hath left, the canker-worm hath eaten; and that which the canker-worm hath left, the mildew hath eaten. Awake, ye drunkards, and weep. [Joel 1, 4] For what is designated by the palmer-worm [‘eruca’], which creeps with all its body on the ground, except it be lust? which so pollutes the heart which it possesses, that it cannot rise up to the love of heavenly purity. What is expressed by the locust, which flies by leaps, except vain glory, which exalts itself with empty presumptions? What is typified by the canker-worm [‘bruchus’], almost the whole of whose body is gathered into its belly, except gluttony in eating? What but anger is indicated by mildew, which burns as it touches? That therefore which the palmer-worm hath left, the locust hath eaten, because, when the sin of lust has retired from the mind, vain glory often succeeds. For since it is not now subdued by the love of the flesh, it boasts of itself as if it were holy through its chastity. And that which the locust hath left, the canker-worm hath eaten, because when vain glory, which came as it were from holiness, is resisted, either the appetite, or some ambitious desires are indulged in too immoderately. For the mind which knows not God, is led the more fiercely to any object of ambition, in proportion as it is not restrained by any love even of human praise. That which the canker-worm hath left, the mildew consumes, because when the gluttony of the belly is restrained by abstinence, the impatience of anger holds fiercer sway, which, like mildew, eats up the harvest by burning it, because the flame of impatience withers the fruits of virtues. When therefore some vices succeed to others, one plague devours the field of the mind, while another leaves it.


66. But it is there well subjoined; Awake, ye drunkards, and weep. [Joel 1, 5] For they are called ‘drunkards,’ who, confused with the love of this world, feel not the evils which they suffer. What then is meant by saying; Awake, ye drunkards, and weep, but ‘shake off the sleep of your insensibility, and oppose by watchful lamentations the many plagues of sins which succeed one to the other in the devastation of your hearts?’ The smoke therefore rises in as many clouds from the nostrils of Leviathan, as are the plagues by which he consumes the fruit of the reprobate heart with his secret breathing. But the Lord carefully explains still further the power of this smoke, when He immediately subjoins; As of a heated and boiling pot. For the pot is heated when the mind of man is instigated by the persuasion of the malignant enemy. But the pot boils, when it is already inflamed by consent with the desires of evil persuasions. And it throws out, as it were, as many waves in boiling, as are the wickednesses by which it extends itself into outward action. For the Prophet had beheld this heat of carnal concupiscence (that is, of the pot) arising from the smoke of Leviathan, when he said; I see a heated pot, and its face from the face of the north. [Jer. 1, 13] For the pot of the human heart is heated from the face of the north, when it is inflamed with unlawful desires by the instigation of the opposing spirit. For he who says; I will sit on the mount of the covenant, in the sides of the north, [Is. 14, 13] inflames with the malignant blasts of his persuasion, as with fires placed beneath it, the mind of which he has once gained possession; in order that being discontented with what is before it, it may be so unceasingly agitated by desires, as to seek some things presently to be contemned, and to contemn other things which it has obtained; at one time to be eager for its own profit, at another to oppose another’s advantages, even to its own loss; at one time to satisfy the allurements of the flesh, and at another to be hurried as it were on high by pride of thought, to put aside all concern for the flesh, and to raise itself up altogether with the haughtiness of exaltation. Because then a heart, which is inflamed by the instigations of this Leviathan, is led astray by various desires, its smoke is rightly said to be like a heated and boiling pot. Because its conscience, being blasted by his temptations, rouses itself by as many boilings, as are the thoughts by which it is puffed up within. But this point the Truth proceeds to speak of more plainly in other words, when it is subjoined;

Ver. 12. His breath kindleth coals. [E.V. 21]




67. For what does He call ‘coals,’ but the minds of reprobate men, kindled with earthly desires. For they are on fire when they seek after any temporal object; doubtless because their longings, which suffer not their mind to be quiet and whole [‘integrum’], inflame them. The breath of Leviathan therefore kindles the coals, as often as his secret suggestion allures the minds of men to unlawful pleasures. For it inflames some with the torches of pride, some with those of envy, some with those of lust, some with those of avarice. For he applied in truth the torch of pride to the mind of Eve, when he instigated her to despise the words of the Lord’s command. [Gen. 3, 6] He kindled the mind of Cain with the flame of envy, when he was grieved at his brother’s sacrifice being accepted, and in this way arrived as far as the sin of fratricide. [Gen. 4, 5] He inflamed the heart of Solomon with the torches of lust, whom he overcame with such great love for women, that by having been led to the worship of idols, he forgot the reverence due to his Maker, when he was pursuing the pleasure of the flesh. [1 Kings 11, 4] He also burnt up the mind of Ahab with the fire of avarice, when he urged him with impatient desires to seek for the vineyard of another, and drew him on in this way even to the guilt of homicide. [ib. 21, 2] This Leviathan therefore blows on the coals, with a breath as great as the effort of secret suggestion with which he inflames the minds of men to aim at what is forbidden. Whence also it is immediately subjoined;

And a flame goeth out of his mouth.




68. For the flame of his mouth is in truth the very instigation of secret suggestion. For he addresses the words of evil persuasion to the mind of each person, but that which goes out of his mouth is a flame; because the mind burns with desires, when it is instigated by his suggestions. These he daily suggests, these he ceases not to suggest even to the end of the present life: but he then expands himself more wickedly when coming in that accursed man, he displays himself more openly in the glory of this world. A mightier smoke proceeds then from his nostrils, because a greater instigation assails the hearts of men when frightened at the marvels of his wonders. Then does his breath make the coals to burn more fiercely, because, on finding the minds of the reprobate already warm with the love of temporal glory, he inflames them with the breath of his suggestion, even to the wickedness of exercising cruelty. Then does a flame go forth from his mouth, because whatever he says by himself or by his preachers, is a fire with which unfruitful trees are burnt up. But the mind of those who do not at all wish to become precious metals, is touched by the fire of earthly concupiscence. Whosoever therefore wishes not to suffer from the flame of his mouth should take care, according to the expression of the teacher of truth, to be found, not wood, hay, stubble, but gold, silver, and precious stone. [1 Cor. 3, 12] Because the fire of his persuasion burns them the more fiercely, the softer every one has rendered himself to yielding his consent. But because a mind, when placed in this corruptible flesh, is in no way permitted not to be touched by the heat of his persuasion, it remains for it, when parched by its malignant blasts, to betake itself unceasingly to the aid of prayer. For a wave of tears quickly extinguishes the flame of his suggestions.