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Moralia on Job


St Gregory the Great



Job 29:14. 

Ver. 14.  With righteousness was I clothed, and arrayed myself as with raiment.


32.  Surely, when we are clothed with a garment, we are surrounded on every side, and so he is ‘clothed with righteousness as with a garment,’ who defends himself on every side with good practice, and leaves no part of his conduct naked to sin; for he that is just in some deeds and unjust in others, it is as if he covered over this side, and exposed that one naked; nor are those henceforth good deeds, which are defiled by other evil deeds springing up. For hence it is said by Solomon, He that offendeth in one thing, shall lose many that are good. [Eccl. 9, 18. Vulg.]  Hence James saith, But whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he shall be guilty of all. [Jam. 2, 10]  Which same sentence of his be himself diligently unfolded, when he added, For He that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill.  Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. [Jam. 2, 11]


33.  And so with the eyes of the heart stretched out roundabouts, watching must be enforced by us on every side.  Hence it is rightly said by Solomon also, Keep thy heart with all watching, for out of it are the issues of life. [Prov. 4, 23] For going to say watching, he put first all, without question that each one might scan himself diligently on this side and on that side, and as long as he is in this life know that he is set in pitched battle against spiritual enemies, lest the reward which he is making up by one set of actions, he should lose by another set, lest on this side he bar the door against the enemy, but on another side open an entrance.  For if against plotting enemies a city be encompassed by a great rampart, be girt with strong walls, on every side defended by a sleepless watch, yet a single opening only be left therein undefended through neglect, from this quarter surely the enemy enters in, who seemed to be every way shut out.  For that Pharisee who went up into the Temple to pray, with what fortifying he had begirt the city of his soul, let us hear.  I fast twice in the week, he says, I give tithes of all that I possess. [Luke 18, 12]  He that set out with I thank Thee, did, surely, employ extraordinary defencesBut let us see where he left an opening undefended for a plotting enemy; Because I am not as this publican.  See how he opened the city of his heart to plotting enemies through self-exalting, which city he fruitlessly shut close by fasting and almsgiving. Vainly is all the rest defended, when one spot by which an entrance lies open to the enemy is not defended.  He rightly gave thanks, but wrongly exalted himself above the publican. The city of his heart by being lifted up he betrayed, which by living abstemiously, and by giving alms, he guarded.  The greedy appetite was subdued by abstinence, the gluttony of the belly was destroyed, a grasping inclination was got the better of, by bountifulness covetousness was kept down. With what great pains do we suppose this to have been done?  But, alas! what a series of painful efforts being struck by one bad point fell to the ground! What great excellencies were killed by the sword of one sin! Whence it is needful with great diligence both always to be doing good things, and to keep ourselves heedfully in the thought of the heart from the very good things themselves, lest, if they uplift the mind, they be not good, which are enlisted not to the Creator, but to pride.


34.  With reference to which particular we are not acting irregularly, if from the books, though not Canonical [b], yet brought out for the edifying of the Church, we bring forward testimony.  Thus Eleazar in the battle smote and brought down an elephant, but fell under the very beast that he killed.  Whom, then, does this one represent, whom his own victory bore down, but those persons who overcome bad habits, but by being lifted up are brought down under the very things they bring under?  For it is as if he died under the enemy he lays low, who is lifted up by the sin that he subdues.  Accordingly it deserves above every thing to be considered, that good points cannot avail, if bad ones that creep in unawares are not guarded against.  All that is done perishes, if it be not heedfully preserved in humility.  Hence too it is well said of the first parent himself; And the Lord put the man into the Paradise of pleasure, to work and to keep it. [Gen. 2, 15]  For he ‘worketh,’ who does in act the good that is enjoined.  But what he has wrought he keepeth not, whom that creepeth upon which is forbidden.  Therefore let blessed Job, because he had covered himself on every side with good practice, say, With righteousness I was clothed, and arrayed myself as with a garment.