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Moralia on Job


St Gregory the Great



Job 1:12. 

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

19.  We should mark in the Lord's words the dispensations of heavenly pity, how He lets go our enemy, and keeps him in; how He looses, and yet bridles him.  He allows him some things for temptation, but withholds him from others.  All that he hath is in thy hand, only upon himself put not forth thine hand.  His substance He delivers over, but still He protects his person, which notwithstanding after a while He designs to give over to the tempter; yet He does not loose the enemy to every thing at once, lest he should crush His own subject [civem] by striking him on every side.  For whenever many evils betide the elect, by the wonderful graciousness of the Creator they are dealt out by seasons, that what by coming all together would destroy, may when divided be borne up against.  Hence Paul says, God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. [1 Cor. 10, 13]  Hence David says, Examine me, O Lord, and prove me. [Ps. 26, 2]  As if he said in plain words, ‘first examine my powers, and then, as I am able to bear, let me undergo temptation.’  But this that is said, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power, only upon himself put not forth thine hand, is also capable of another sense, viz. that the Lord knew well, indeed, that His soldier was brave, yet chose to divide for him his contests with the enemy, that, though victory should in every case be sure to that staunch warrior, yet that from one conflict first the enemy might return to the Lord defeated, and that then he might grant him another encounter to be again worsted, so that his faithful follower might come forth the more incomparable conqueror, in proportion as the vanquished foe had repaired his forces again for fresh wars with him.