Augustin on Psalms 492
492 Ps 49,14-21
1 (2). "Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd" (verse 14). Whose? Of those whose way is a stumbling-block to themselves. Whose? Of those who mind only things present, while they think not of things future: of those who think not of any life, but of that which must be called death. Not without cause, then, like sheep in hell, have they death to their shepherd. What meaneth, "they have death to their shepherd"? For is death either some thing or some power? Yea, death is either the separation of the soul from the body, or a separation of the soul from God,(3) and that indeed which men fear is the separation of the soul from the body: but the real death, which men do not fear, is the separation of the soul from God. And ofttimes when men fear that which doth separate the soul from the body, they fall into that wherein the soul is separated from God. This then is death. But how is "death their shepherd"? If Christ is life, the devil is death. But we read in many places in Scripture, how that Christ is life. But the devil is death, not because he is himself death, but because through him is death. For whether that (death) wherein Adam fell was given man to drink by the persuasion of him: or whether that wherein the soul is separated from the body, still they have him for the author thereof, who first falling through pride envied him who stood, and overthrew him who stood with an invisible death, in order that he might have to pay(4) the visible death. They who belong to him have death to their shepherd: but we who think of future immortality, and not without reason do wear the sign of the Cross of Christ on the forehead, have no shepherd but life. Of unbelievers death is the shepherd, of believers life is the shepherd. If then in hell are the sheep, whose shepherd is death, in heaven are the sheep, whose shepherd is life. What then? Are we now in heaven? In heaven we are by faith. For if not in heaven, where is the "Lift up your heart"? If not in heaven, whence with the Apostle Paul, "For our conversation is in heaven"?(5) In body we walk on earth, in heart we dwell in heaven. We dwell there, if thither we send anything which holdeth us there. For no one dwelleth in heart, save where thought is: but there his thought is, where his treasure is. He hath treasured on earth, his heart doth not withdraw from earth: he hath treasured in heaven, his heart from heaven doth not come down: for the Lord saith plainly, "Where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also."(6)
2. They, then, whose shepherd is death, seem to flourish for a time, and the righteous to labour: but why? Because it is yet night. What meaneth, it is night? The merits of the righteous appear not, and the felicity of the unrighteous hath, as it were, a name. So long as it is winter, grass appeareth more verdant than a tree. For grass flourisheth through the winter, a tree is as it were dry through the winter: when in summer time the sun hath come forth with greater heat, the tree, which seemed dry through the winter, is bursting with leaves, and putteth forth fruits, but the grass withereth: thou wilt see the honour of the tree, the grass is dried. So also now the righteous labour, before that summer cometh. There is life in the root, it doth not yet appear in the branches. But our root is love. And what saith the Apostle? That we ought to have our root above, in order that life may be our shepherd, because our dwelling ought not to quit heaven, because in this earth we ought to walk as if dead; so that living above, below we may be dead; not so as that being dead above, we may live below. ... Our labour shall appear in the morning, and there shall be fruit in the morning: so that they that now labour shall hereafter reign, and they that now boast them and are proud, shall hereafter be brought under. For what followeth? "Like sheep laid in hell, death is their shepherd; and the righteous shall reign over them in the morning."
3. Endure thou the night, yearn for the morning. Think not because the night hath life, the morning too hath not life. Doth then he that sleepeth live, and he that riseth live not? Is not he that sleepeth more like death?(1) And who are they that sleep? They whom the Apostle Paul rouseth, if they choose but to awake. For to certain he saith, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."(2) They then that are lightened by Christ watch now, but the fruit of their watchings appeareth not yet: in the morning it shall appear, that is, when doubtful things of this world shall have passed away. For these are very night: for do they not appear to thee like darkness? ... But they on whom men have trampled, and who were ridiculed for believing, shall hear from Life Itself, whom they have for shepherd, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which was prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Therefore the righteous" shall reign over them," not now, but "in the morning." Let no one say, Wherefore am I a Christian? I rule no one,(3) I would rule the wicked. Be not in haste, thou shalt reign, but "in the morning." "And the help of them shall grow old in hell from their glory." Now they have glory, in hell they shall grow old. What is "the help of them"? Help from money, help from friends, help from their own might. But when a man shall be dead, "in that day shall perish all his thoughts."(4) How great glory he seemed to have among men, while he lived, so great oldness and decay of punishments shall he have, when he shall be dead in hell.
4. "Nevertheless, God shall redeem my soul" (verse 15). Behold the voice of one hoping in the future: "Nevertheless, God shall redeem my soul."(5) Perhaps it is the voice of one still wishing to be relieved from oppression. Some one is in prison, he saith, "God shall redeem my soul:" some one is in bond, "God shall redeem my soul:" some one is suffering peril by sea, is being tossed by waves and raging tempests, what saith he? "God shall redeem my soul." They would be delivered for the sake of this life. Not such is the voice of this man. Hear what followeth: "God shall redeem my soul from the hand of hell, when He shall have received me." He is speaking of this redemption, which Christ now showeth in Himself. For He hath descended into hell, and hath ascended into heaven. What we have seen in the Head we have found in the Body. For what we have believed in the Head, they that have seen, have themselves told us, and by themselves we have seen: "For we are" all "one body."(6) But are they better that hear, we worse to whom it hath been told? Not so saith The Life Itself, Our Shepherd Himself. For He rebuketh a certain disciple of His, doubting and desiring to handle His scars, and when he had handled the scars and had cried out, saying, "My Lord and my God,"(7) seeing His disciple doubting, and looking to the whole world about to believe, "Because thou hast seen Me," He saith, "thou hast believed: blessed are they that see not, and believe." "But God shall redeem my soul from the land of hell, when He hath received me." Here then what? Labour, oppression, tribulation, temptation: expect nothing else. Where joy? In future hope. ...
5. ... Perchance thy heart saith, Wretch that I am, I suppose to no purpose I have believed, God doth not regard things human. God therefore doth awaken us: and He saith what? "Fear not, though a man have become rich" (verse 16). For why didst thou fear, because a man hath become rich? Thou didst fear that thou hadst believed to no purpose, that perchance thou shouldest have lost the labour for thy faith, and the hope of thy conversion: because perchance there hath come in thy way gain with guilt, and thou couldest have been rich, if thou hadst seized upon that same gain with the guilt, and neededst not have laboured; and thou, remembering what God hath threatened, hast refrained from guilt, and hast contemned the gain: thou seest another man that hath made gain by guilt, and hath suffered no harm; and thou fearest to be good. "Fear not," saith the Spirit of God to thee, "though a man shall have become rich." Wouldest thou not have eyes but for things present? Things future He hath promised, who hath risen again; peace in this world, and repose in this life, He hath not promised. Every man doth seek repose; a good thing he is seeking, but not in the proper region thereof he is seeking it. There is no peace in this life; in Heaven hath been promised that which on earth we are seeking: in the world to come hath been promised that which in this world we are seeking.
6. "Fear not, though a man be made rich, and though the glory of his house he multiplied." Wherefore "fear not"? "For when he shall die, he shall not receive anything" (verse 17). Thou seest him living, consider him dying. Thou markest what he hath here, mark what he taketh with him. What cloth he take with him? He hath store of gold, he hath store of silver, numerous estates, slaves: he dieth, these remain, he knoweth not for whom. For though he leaveth them for whom he will, he keepeth them not for whom he will. For many have gained even what was not left them, and many have lost what was left them. All these things then remain, and he taketh with him what? Perhaps some one saith, He taketh that with him in which he is wound, and that which is expended upon him for a costly and marble tomb. to erect a monument, this he taketh with him. I say, not even this. For these things are presented to him without his feeling them. If thou deckest a man sleeping and not awake, he hath the decorations with him on the couch perhaps the decorations are resting upon the body of him as he lieth, and perhaps he seeth himself in tatters during sleep. What he feeleth is more to him than what he feeleth not Though even this when he shall have awaked will not be: yet to him sleeping, that which he saw in sleep was more than that which he felt not. Why then, brethren, should(1) men say to themselves, Let money be spent at my death: why do I leave my heirs rich? Many things will they have of mine, let me too have something of my own for my body. What shall a dead body have? what shall rotting flesh have? what shall flesh not feeling have? If that rich man had anything, whose tongue was dry, then man hath something of his own. My brethren, do we read in the Gospel, that this rich man appeared in the fire with all-silken and fine-linen coverings? Was he of such sort in hell as he was in feastings at table? When he thirsted and desired a drop, all those things were not there. Therefore man carrieth not with him anything, nor doth the dead take with him that which the burial taketh. For where feeling is, there is the man; where is no feeling, the man is not. There lieth fallen the vessel which contained the man, the house which held the man. The body let us call the house, the spirit let us call the inhabitant of the house. The spirit is tormented in hell: what doth it profit him, that the body lieth in spices and perfumes, wound in costly linens? just as if the master of the house should be sent into banishment, and thou shouldest garnish the walls of his house. He in banishment is in need, and doth faint with hunger, he scarce findeth to himself one hovel where he may snatch a sleep, and thou sayest, "Happy is he, for his house hath been garnished." Who would not judge that thou wast either jesting or wast mad? Thou dost garnish the body, the spirit is tormented. Give something to the spirit, and ye have given something to the dead man. But what wilt thou give him, when he desired one drop, and received not? For the man scorned to send before him anything. Wherefore scorned? "because this their way is a stumbling-block to them."(2) He minded not any but the present life, he thought not but how he might be buried, wound in costly vestments. His soul was taken from him, as the Lord saith: "Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be taken from thee, and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?"(3) And that is fulfilled which this Psalm saith: "Fear not, though a man be made rich, and though the glory of his house be multiplied: for when he shall die he shall not receive anything, nor shall his glory descend together with him."
7. Let your love observe: "For his soul shall be blessed in his life" (verse 18). As long as he lived he did well for himself. This all men say, but say falsely. It is a blessing from the mind of the blesser, not from the truth itself. For what sayest thou? Because he ate and drank, because he did what he chose, because he feasted sumptuously, therefore he did well with himself. I say, he did ill for himself. Not I say, but Christ. He did ill for himself. For that rich man, when he feasted sumptuously every day, was supposed to do well with himself: but when he began to burn in hell, then that which was supposed to be well was found to be ill. For what he had eaten with men above,(4) he digested in hell beneath. Unright-eousness I mean, brethren, on which he used to feast. He used to eat costly banquets with the mouth of flesh, with his heart's mouth he used to eat unrighteousness. What he ate with his heart's mouth with men above, this he digested amid those punishments in the places beneath. And verily he had eaten for a time, he digested ill for everlasting. Is then unrighteousness eaten? perhaps some one saith: what is it that he saith? Unrighteousness eaten? It is not I that say: hear the Scripture: "As a sour grape is vexation to the teeth, and smoke to the eyes, so is unrighteousness to them that use it."(5) For he that shall have eaten unrighteousness, that is, he that shall have had unrighteousness wilfully, shall not be able to eat righteousness. For righteousness is bread. Who is bread? "I am the living bread which came down from heaven."(6) Himself is the bread of our heart. ... Is then even righteousness eaten? If it were not eaten, the Lord would not have said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness."(7) Therefore "since his soul shall be blessed in life," in life it "shall" be blessed, in death it shall be tormented. ...
8. "He shall confess to Thee, when Thou shalt have done him good." Be not of such sort, brethren: see ye how that to this end we say these words, to this end we sing, to this end we treat, to this end toil--do not these things. Your business doth prove you: sometimes in your business ye hear the truth, and ye blaspheme. The Church ye blaspheme. Wherefore? Because ye are Christians. "If so it be, I betake myself to Donatus's party: I will be a heathen."(1) Wherefore? Because thou hast eaten bread, and the teeth are in pain. When thou sawest the bread itself, thou didst praise; thou beginnest to eat, and the teeth are in pain; that is, when thou wast hearing the Word of God thou didst praise: when it is said to thee, "Do this," thou blasphemest: do not so ill: say this, "The bread is good, but I cannot eat it." But now if thou seest with the eyes, thou praisest: when thou beginnest to close the teeth thou sayest, "Bad is this bread, and like him that made it." So it cometh to pass that thou confessest to God, when God doeth thee good and thou liest when thou singest, "I will alway bless God, His praise is ever in my mouth."(2) How alway? If alway gain, alway He is blessed if sometime there is loss, He is not blessed, but blasphemed. Forsooth thou blessest alway, forsooth His praise is ever in thy mouth! Thou wilt be such as just now he describeth: "He will confess to Thee, when Thou shalt have done him good."
9. "He shall enter even unto the generations of his fathers" (verse 19): that is, he shall imitate his fathers. For the unrighteous, that now are, have brothers, have fathers. Unrighteous men of old, are the fathers of the present; and they that are now unrighteous, are the fathers of unrighteous posterity: just as the fathers of the righteous, the righteous of old, are the fathers of the righteous that now are; and they that now are, are the fathers of them that are to be. The Holy Spirit hath willed to show that righteousness is not evil when men murmur against her: but these men have their father from the beginning, even to the generation of their fathers. Two men Adam begat, and in one was unrighteousness, in one was righteousness: unrighteousness in Cain, righteousness in Abed Unrighteousness seemed to prevail over righteousness, because Cain unrighteous slew Abel righteous(4) in the night. Is it so in the morning? Nay, "but the righteous shall reign over them in the morning."(5) The morning shall come, and it shall be seen where Abel is, and where Cain. So all men who are after Cain, and so all who are after Abel, even unto the end of the world. "He shall enter even unto the generations of his fathers: even to eternity he shall not see light." Because even when he was here, he was in darkness, taking pleasure in false goods, and not loving real goods: even so he shall go hence into hell: from the darkness of his dreams the darkness of torments shall receive him. Therefore, "even to eternity he shall not see light." But wherefore this? What he hath written in the middle of the Psalm,(6) the same also he hath writ at the end: "Man, though he was in honour, understood not, was compared to the beasts without sense, and was made like to them" (verse 20). But ye, brethren, consider that ye be men made after the image and likeness of God. The image(7) of God is within, is not in the body; is not in these ears which ye see, and eyes, and nostrils, and palate, and hands, and feet; but is made nevertheless:(8) wherein is the intellect, wherein is the mind, wherein the power of discovering truth, wherein is faith, wherein is your hope, wherein your charity, there God hath His Image: there at least ye perceive and see that these things pass away; for so he hath said in another Psalm, "Though man walketh in an image, yet he is disquieted in vain: he heapeth up treasures, and knoweth not for whom he shall gather them."(9) Be not disquieted, for of whatsoever kind these things be, they are transitory, if ye are men who being in honour understand. For if being men in honour ye understand not, ye are compared to the beasts without sense, and are made like to them.
1. How much availeth the Word of God to us for the correction of our life, both regarding His rewards to be expected, and His punishments to be feared, let each one measure(11) in himself; and let him put his conscience without deceit before His eyes, and not flatter himself in a danger so great: for ye see that even our Lord God Himself doth flatter no one: though He comforteth us by promising His blessings, and by strengthening our hope; yet them that live ill and despise His word He assuredly spareth not. Let each one examine himself, while it is time, and let him see where he is, and either persevere in good, or be changed from evil. For as he saith in this Psalm, not any man whatever nor any angel whatever, but, "The Lord, the God of gods, hath spoken" (verse 1). But in speaking, He hath done what? "He hath called the earth from the rising of the sun unto the going down." He that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," is Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, "the Word made Flesh,"(12) in order that He might dwell in us. Our Lord Jesus Christ then is the "God of gods;" because by Himself were all things made, and without Himself was nothing made. The Word of God, if He is God, is truly the God of gods; but whether He be God the Gospel answereth, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."(1) And if all things were made by Himself, as He saith in the sequel, then if any were made gods, by Himself were they made. For the one God was not made, and He is Himself alone truly God. But Himself the only God, Father and Son and Holy Ghost, is one God.
2. But then who are those gods, or where are they, of whom God is the true God? Another Psalm saith, "God hath stood in the synagogue of gods, but in the midst He judgeth gods."(2) As yet we know not whether perchance any gods be congregated in heaven, and in their congregation, for this is "in the synagogue," God hath stood to judge. See in the same Psalm those to whom he saith, "I have said, Ye are gods, and children of the Highest all; but ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes."(3) It is evident then, that He hath called men gods, that are deified of His Grace, not born of His Substance. For He doth justify, who is just through His own self, and not of another; and He doth deify who is God through Himself, not by the partaking of another. But He that justifieth doth Himself deify, in that by justifying He doth make sons of God. "For He hath given them power to become the sons of God."(4) If we have been made sons of God, we have also been made gods: but this is the effect of Grace adopting, not of nature generating. For the only Son of God, God, and one God with the Father, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, was in the beginning the Word, and the Word with God, the Word God. The rest that are made gods, are made by His own Grace, are not born of His Substance, that they should be the same as He, but that by favour they should come to Him, and be fellow-heirs with Christ. For so great is the love in Him the Heir, that He hath willed to have fellow-heirs. What covetous man would will this, to have fellow-heirs? But even one that is found so to will, will share with them the inheritance, the sharer having less himself, than if he had possessed alone: but the inheritance wherein we are fellow-heirs of Christ, is not lessened by multitude of possessors, nor is it made narrower by the number of fellow-heirs: but is as great for many as it is for few, as great for individuals as for all. "See," saith the Apostle, "what love God hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called, and be, the sons of God."(5) And in another place, "Dearly beloved, we are the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." We are therefore in hope, not yet in substance. "But we know," he saith, "that when He shall have appeared, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is."(6) The Only Son is like Him by birth, we like by seeing. For we are not like in such sort as He, who is the same as He is by whom He was begotten: for we are like, not equal: He, because equal, is therefore like. We have heard who are the gods that being made are justified, because they are called the sons of God: and who are the gods that are not Gods, to whom the God of gods is terrible? For another Psalm saith, "He is terrible over all gods."(7) And as if thou shouldest enquire, what gods? He saith, "For all the gods of the nations are devils." To the gods of the nations, to the devils, terrible: to the gods made by Himself, to sons, lovely. Furthermore, I find both of them confessing the Majesty of God, both the devils confessed Christ, and the faithful confessed Christ. "Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God,"(8) said Peter. "We know who Thou art, Thou art the Son of God,"(9) said the devils. A like confession I hear, but like love I find not; nay even here love, there fear. To whom therefore He is lovely, the same are sons; to whom He is terrible, are not sons; to whom He is lovely, the same He hath made gods; those to whom He is terrible He doth prove not to be gods. For these are made gods, those are reputed gods; these Truth maketh gods, those error doth so account.
3. "The God," therefore, "of gods, the Lord hath spoken"(10) (verse 1). Hath spoken many ways. By Angels He hath Himself spoken, by Prophets He hath Himself spoken, by His own mouth He hath Himself spoken, by His faithful He doth Himself speak, by our lowliness, when we say anything true, He doth Himself speak. See then, by speaking diversely, many ways, by many vessels, by many instruments, yet He doth Himself sound everywhere, by touching, mould-ing, inspiring: see what He hath done. For "He hath spoken, and hath called the world." What world? Africa, perhaps! for the sake of those that say, the Church of Christ is the portion of Donatus. Africa indeed alone He hath not called, but even Africa He hath not severed. For He that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," leaving out no parts that He hath not called, in His calling hath found Africa. Let it rejoice therefore in unity, not pride itself in division. We say well, that the voice of the God of gods hath come even into Africa, hath not stayed in Africa. For "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down." There is no place where may lurk the conspiracies of heretics, they have no place wherein they may hide themselves under the shadow of falsehood; for "there is none that can hide himself from the heat thereof."(1) He that hath called the world, hath called even the whole world: He that hath called the world, hath called as much as He hath formed. Why do false christs and false prophets rise up against me? why is it that they strive to ensnare me with captious words, saying, "Lo! here is Christ, Lo! He is there! "(2) I hear not them that point out portions: the God of gods hath pointed out the whole: "He" that "hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," hath redeemed the whole; but hath condemned them that lay false claim to(3) portions.
4. But we have heard the world called from the rising of the sun unto the going down: whence doth He begin to call, who hath called? This thing also hear ye: "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty" (verse 2). Evidently the Psalm doth agree with the Gospel, which saith, "Throughout all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."(4) Hear, "Throughout all nations:" He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down." Hear, "Beginning at Jerusalem:" "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty." Therefore, "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," agreeth with the words of the Lord, who saith," It behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day; and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name throughout all nations."(5) For all nations are from the rising of the sun unto the going down. But that, "Out of Sion is the semblance of His beauty," that thence beginneth the beauty of His Gospel, that thence He began to be preached, being "beautiful in form beyond the sons of men,"(6) agreeth with the words of the Lord, who saith, "Beginning at Jerusalem." New things are in tune with old, old things with new: the two Seraphim say to one another," Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth."(7) The two Testaments are both in tune, and the two Testaments have one voice: let the voice of the Testaments in tune be heard, not that of pretenders disinherited. This thing then hath the God of gods done, "He hath called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down, His semblance going before out of Sion." For in that place were His disciples,(8) who received the Holy Ghost sent from heaven on the fiftieth day after His resurrection. Thence the Gospel, thence the preaching, thence the whole world filled, and that in the Grace of Faith.
5. For when the Lord Himself had come, because He came to suffer, He came hidden: and though He was strong in Himself, He appeared in the flesh weak. For He must needs appear in order that He might not be perceived; be despised, in order that He might be slain. There was semblance of glory in divinity, but it lay concealed in flesh. "For if they had known, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory."(9) So then He walked hidden among the Jews, among His enemies, doing marvels, suffering ills, until He was hanged on the tree, and the Jews seeing Him hanging both despised Him the more, and before the Cross wagging their heads they said, "If He be the Son of God, let Him come down from the Cross."(10) Hidden then was the God of gods, and He gave forth words more out of compassion for us than out of His own majesty. For whence, unless assumed from us, were those words, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?(11) But when hath the Father forsaken the Son, or the Son the Father? Are not Father and Son one God? Whence then, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me," save that in the Flesh of infirmity there was acknowledged the voice of a sinner? For as He took upon Him the likeness of the flesh of sin," why should He not take upon Him the voice of sin? Hidden then was the God of gods, both when He walked among men, and when He hungered, and when He thirsted, and when fatigued He sat, and when with wearied body He slept, and when taken, and when scourged, and when standing before the judge, and when He made answer to him in his pride, "Thou couldest have no power against Me, except it had been given thee from above;"(13) and while led as a victim "before His shearer He opened not His mouth,"(14) and while crucified, and while buried, He was always hidden God of gods. What took place after He rose again? The disciples marvelled, and at first believed not, until they touched and handled.(15) But flesh had risen, because flesh had been dead: Divinity which could not die, even still lay hid in the flesh of Him rising. Form could be seen, limbs held, scars handled: the Word by whom all things were made, who doth see? who doth hold? who doth handle? And yet "the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us."(16) And Thomas, that was holding Man, understood God as he was able. For when he had handled the scars, he cried out, "My Lord, and my God." Yet the Lord was showing that form, and that flesh, which they had seen upon the Cross, which had been laid in the sepulchre. He stayed with them forty days. ... But what was said to Thomas handling? "Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed; blessed are they that see not, and believe."(1) We are foretold. That world called from the rising of the sun unto the going down seeth not, and believeth. Hidden then is the God of gods, both to those among whom He walked, and to those by whom He was crucified, and to those before whose eyes He rose, and to us who believe on Him in heaven sitting, whom we have not seen on earth walking. But even if we were to see, should we not see that which the Jews saw and crucified? It is more, that not seeing we believe Christ to be God, than that they seeing deemed Him only to be man. They in a word by thinking evil slew, we by believing well are made alive.
6. What then, brethren? This God of gods, both then hidden, and now hidden, shall He ever be hidden? Evidently not: hear what followeth: "God shall come manifest" (verse 3). He that came hidden, shall come manifest. Hidden He came to be judged, manifest He shall come to judge: hidden He came that He might stand before a judge, manifest He shall come that He may be judge even of judges: "He shall come manifest, and shall not be silent." But why? Is He now silent? And whence are all the words that we say? whence those precepts? whence those warnings? whence that trumpet of terror? He is not silent, and is silent: is not silent from warning, is silent from avenging: is not silent from precept, is silent from judgment. For He suffereth sinners daily doing evil things, not caring for God, not in their conscience, not in heaven, not in earth: all these things escape Him not, and universally He doth admonish all; and whenever He chastiseth any on earth, it is admonition, not yet condemnation. He is silent then from judgment, He is hidden in heaven, as yet He intercedeth for us: He is long-suffering to sinners, not putting forth His wrath, but awaiting penitence. He saith in another place: "I have held my peace, shall I always hold my peace?"(2) When then He shall not hold His peace, "God shall come manifest." What God? "Our God." And the God Himself, who is our God: for he is not God, who is not our God. For the gods of the nations are devils: the God of Christians is very God. Himself shall come, but "manifest," not still to be mocked, not still to be buffeted and scourged: He shall come, but "manifest," not still to be smitten with a reed upon the head, not still to be crucified, slain, buried: for all these things God being hidden hath willed to suffer. "He shall come manifest, and shall not be silent."
7. But that He shall come to judgment, the following words teach. "Fire shall go before Him."(3) Do we fear? Be we changed, and we shall not fear. Let chaff fear the fire: what doth it to gold? What thou mayest do is now in thy power, so thou mayest not experience, for want of being corrected, that which is to come even against thy will. For if we might so bring it about, brethren, that the day of judgment should not come; I think that even then it were not for us to live ill. If the fire of the day of judgment were not to come, and over sinners there impended only separation from the face of God, in whatever affluence of delights they might be, not seeing Him by whom they were created, and separated from that sweetness of His ineffable(4) countenance, in whatever eternity and impunity of sin, they ought to bemoan themselves. But what shall I say, or to whom shall I say? This is a punishment to lovers, not to despisers. They that have begun to feel in any degree the sweetness of wisdom and truth, know what I say, how great a punishment it is to be only separated from the face of God: but they that have not tasted that sweetness, if not yet they yearn for the face of God, let them fear even fire; let punishments terrify those, whom rewards win not. Of no value to thee is what God promiseth, tremble at what He threateneth. The sweetness of His presence shall come; thou art not changed, thou art not awakened, thou sighest not, thou longest not: thou embracest thy sins and the delights of thy flesh, thou art heaping stubble to thyself, the fire will come. "Fire shall burn in His presence." This fire will not be like thy hearth-fire, into which nevertheless, if thou art compelled to thrust thy hand, thou wilt do whatsoever he would have thee who doth threaten this alternative. If he say to thee, "write against the life(5) of thy father, write against the lives of thy children, for if thou do not, I thrust thy hand into thy fire:" thou wilt do it in order that thy hand be not burned, in order that thy member be not burned for a time, though it is not to be ever in pain. Thine enemy threateneth then but so light an evil, and thou doest evil; God threateneth eternal evil, and doest thou not good? To do evil not even menaces should compel thee: from doing good not even menaces should deter thee. But by the menaces of God, by menaces of everlasting fire, thou art dissuaded from evil, invited to good. Wherefore doth it grieve thee, except because thou believest not? Let each one then examine his heart, and see what faith doth(1) hold there. If we believe a judgment to come, brethren, let us live well. Now is time of mercy, then will be time of judgment. No one will say, "Call me back to my former years." Even then men will repent, but will repent in vain: now let there be repentance, while there is fruit of repentance; now let there be applied to the roots of the tree a basket of dung,(2) sorrow of heart and tears; lest He come and pluck up by the roots. For when He shall have plucked up, then the fire is to be looked for. Now, even if the branches have been broken, they can again be grafted in;(3) then, "every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire."(4) "Fire shall burn in His presence."
8. "And a mighty tempest round about Him" (verse 3). "A mighty tempest," in order to winnow so great a floor. In this tempest shall be that winnowing whereby from the saints shall be put away everything impure, from the faithful every unreality; from godly men and them that fear the Word of God, every scorner and every proud man. For now a sort of mixture doth lie there, from the rising of the sun unto the going down. Let us see then how He will do that is to come, what He will do with that tempest which "shall be a mighty tempest round about Him." Doubtless this tempest is to make a sort of separation. It is that separation which they waited not for, who brake the nets, before they came to land.(5) But in this separation there is made a sort of distinction between good men and bad men. There be some that now follow Christ with lightened shoulders without the load of the world's cares, who have not heard in vain, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shall have treasure in heaven: and come, follow Me;"(6) to which sort is said, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."(7) Some then shall be judging with the Lord: but others to be judged, but to be placed on the right hand. For that there will be certain judging with the Lord, we have most evident testimony, which I have but now quoted: "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." ...
9. But what the Lord did after His resurrection, signified what is to be to us after our resurrection, in that number of the kingdom of heaven, where shall be no bad man. ... Lastly, those seven thousand of whom reply was made to Elias, "I have left me seven thousand men that have not bowed knees before Baal,"(8) far exceed that number of fishes. Therefore the hundred and fifty-three fishes(9) doth not alone express just such a number of saints, but Scripture doth express the whole number of saints and righteous men by so great a number for a particular reason; to wit, in order that in those hundred and fifty-three all may be understood that pertain to the resurrection to eternal life. For the Law hath ten commandments:(10) but the Spirit of Grace, through which alone the Law is fulfilled," is called sevenfold. The number then must be examined, what mean ten and seven: ten in commandments, seven in the grace of the Holy Spirit: by which grace the commandments are fulfilled. Ten then and seven contain all that pertain to the resurrection, to the right hand, to the kingdom of heaven, to life eternal, that is, they that fulfil the Law by the Grace of the Spirit, not as it were by their own work or their own merit. But ten and seven, if thou countest from one unto seventeen, by adding all the numbers by steps, so that to one thou mayest add two, add three, add four, that they may become ten, by adding five that they may become fifteen, by adding six that they may become twenty-one, by adding seven that they may become twenty-eight, by adding eight that they may become thirty-six, by adding nine that they may become forty-five, by adding ten that they may become fifty-five, by adding eleven that they may become sixty-six, by adding twelve that they may become seventy-eight, by adding thirteen that they may become ninety -one, by adding fourteen that they may become one hundred and five, by adding fifteen that they may become one hundred and twenty, by adding sixteen that they may become one hundred and thirty-six, by adding seventeen, make up one hundred and fifty-three, thou wilt find a vast number of all saints to belong to this number of a few fishes. In like manner then as in five virgins, countless virgins; as in five brethren of him that was tormented in hell, thousands of the people of the Jews; as in the number of one hundred and fifty-three fishes, thousands of thousands of saints: so in twelve thrones, not twelve men, but great is the number of the perfect.(12)
10. But I see what is next required of us; in like manner as in the case of the five virgins, a reason was given why many should belong to five, and why to those five many Jews, and why to a hundred and fifty-three many perfect--to show why and how to the twelve thrones not twelve men, but many belong. What mean the twelve thrones, which signify all men everywhere that have been enabled to be so perfect as they must be perfect, to whom it is said, "Ye shall sit over the twelve tribes of Israel"?(1) And why do all men everywhere belong to the number twelve? Because the very "everywhere" which we say, we say of the whole world: but the compass of lands is contained in four particular quarters, East, West, South, and North: from all these quarters they being called in the Trinity and made perfect in the faith and precept of the Trinity,--seeing that three times four are twelve, ye perceive wherefore the saints belong to the whole world; they that shall sit upon twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel, since the twelve tribes of Israel, also, are the twelve tribes of the whole of Israel. For like as they that are to judge are from the whole world, so also they that are to be judged are from the whole world. The Apostle Paul of himself, when he was reproving believing laymen, because they referred not their causes to the Church, but dragged them with whom they had matters before the public, said, "Know ye not that we shall judge Angels?"(2) See after what sort He hath made Himself judge: not only himself, but also all that judge aright in the Church.
11. Since then it is evident, that many are to judge with the Lord, but that others are to be judged, not however on equality, but according to their deserts; He will come with all His Angels,(3) when before Him shall be gathered all nations, and among all the Angels are to be reckoned those that have been made so perfect, that sitting upon twelve thrones they judge the twelve tribes of Israel. For men are called Angels: the Apostle saith of himself, "As an angel of God ye received me."(4) Of John Baptist it is said, "Behold, I send My Angel before Thy face, that shall prepare Thy way before Thee."(5) Therefore, coming with all Angels, together with Him He shall have the Saints also. For plainly saith Isaias also, "He shall come to judgment with the elders of the people."(6) Those "elders of the people," then, those but now named Angels, those thousands of many men made perfect coming from the whole world, are called Heaven. But the others are called earth, yet fruitful. Which is the earth that is fruitful? That which is to be set on the fight hand, unto which it shall be said, "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me to eat:"(7) truly fruitful earth in which the Apostle doth joy, when they sent to him to supply his necessities: "Not because I ask a gift," he saith, "but I require fruit."(8) And he giveth thanks, saying, "Because at length ye have budded forth again to be thoughtful for me."(9) He saith, "Ye have budded forth again," as to trees which had withered away with a kind of barrenness. Therefore the Lord coming to judgment (that we may now hear the Psalm, brethren), He will do what? "He will call the heaven from above" (verse 4). The heaven, all the Saints, those made perfect that shall judge, them He shall call from above, to be sitters with Him to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. For how shall "He call the heaven from above," when the heaven is always above? But those that He here calleth heaven, the same elsewhere He calleth heavens. What heavens? That tell out the glory of God: for, "The heavens tell out the glory of God:"(10) whereof is said, "Into all the earth their sound hath gone forth, and into the ends of the world their words." For see the Lord severing in judgment: "He shall call the heaven from above and the earth, to sever His people." From whom but from evil men? Of whom here afterwards no mention is made, now as it were condemned to punishment. See these good men, and distinguish. "He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people." He calleth the earth also, not however to be associated, but to be dissociated. For at first He called them together, "when the God of gods spake and called the world from the rising of the sun unto the going down," He had not yet severed: those servants had been sent to bid to the marriage,(11) who had gathered good and bad. But when the God of gods shall come manifest and shall not keep silence, He shall so call the "heaven from above" that it may judge with Him. For what the heaven is, the heavens themselves are; just as what the earth is, the lands themselves, just as what the Church is, the Churches themselves: "He shall call the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people." Now with the heaven He severeth the earth, that is, the heaven with Him doth sever the earth. How doth He sever the earth? In such sort that He setteth on the right hand some, others on the left. But to the earth severed, He saith what? "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive the kingdom which was prepared for you from the beginning of the world. For I was an hungred, and ye gave me to eat," and so forth. But they say, "When saw we Thee an hungred?" And He, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of Mine, ye have done it unto Me."(12) "He shall call therefore the heaven from above, and the earth, to sever His people."
12. "Gather to Him His righteous" (verse 5). The voice divine and prophetic, seeing future things as if present doth exhort the Angels gathering. For He shall send His Angels, and before Him shall be gathered all nations.(1) Gather to Him His righteous. What righteous men save those that live of faith and do works of mercy? For those works are works of righteousness. Thou hast the Gospel: "Beware of doing your righteousness before men to be seen of them."(2) And as if it were inquired, What righteousness? "When therefore thou doest alms," He saith. Therefore alms He hath signified to be works of righteousness. Those very persons gather for His righteous: gather those that have had compassion on the "needy," that have considered the needy and poor:(3) gather them, "The Lord preserve them, and make them to live;" "Gather to Him His righteous: who order His covenant above sacrifices:" that is, who think of His promises above those things which they work. For those things are sacrifices, God saying, "I will have mercy more than sacrifice."(4) "Who keep His covenant more than sacrifice."
13. "And the Heaven shall declare His righteousness" (verse 6). Truly this righteousness of God to us the "heavens have declared," the Evangelists have foretold. Through them we have heard that some will be on the right hand, to whom the Householder saith, "Come, ye blessed of My Father, receive.(5) Receive what? "A kingdom." In return for what thing? "I was an hungred, and ye gave Me to eat." What so valueless, what so earthly, as to break bread to the hungry? At so much is valued the kingdom of heaven. "Break thy bread to the hungry, and the needy without covering bring into thy house; if thou seest one naked, clothe him."(6) If thou hast not the means of breaking bread, hast not house into which thou mayest bring, hast not garment wherewith thou mayest cover: give a cup of cold water? cast two mites into the treasury.(8) As much the widow doth buy with two mites, as Peter buyeth, by leaving the nets,(9) as Zacchaeus buyeth by giving half his goods.(10) Of so much worth is all that thou hast. "The heavens shall declare His righteousness, for God is Judge." Truly judge not confounding but severing. For "the Lord knoweth them that are His."(11) Even if grains lie hid in the chaff, they are known to the husbandman. Let no one fear that he is a grain even among the chaff; the eyes of our winnower are not deceived. Fear not lest that tempest, which shall be round about Him, should confound thee with chaff. Certainly mighty will be the tempest; yet not one grain will it sweep from the side of the corn to the chaff: because not any rustic with three-pronged fork, but God, Three in One, is Judge. And the heavens shall declare His righteousness: for God is Judge. Let heavens go, let the heavens tell, into every land let their sound go out, and unto the ends of the world their words:(12) and let that body say, "From the ends of the world unto Thee have I cried, when my heart was in heaviness."(13) For now mingled it groaneth, divided it shall rejoice. Let it cry then and say, "Destroy not my soul with ungodly men, and with men of blood my life."(14) He destroyeth not together, because God is Judge. Let it cry to Him and say, "Judge me, O Lord, and sever my cause from the nation unholy: "(15) let it say, He shall do it: there shall be gathered to Him His righteous ones. He hath called the earth that He may sever His people.
14. "Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee" (verse 7). He shall come and shall not keep silence; see how that even now, if ye hear, He is not silent. Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee. For if thou hearest not, I will not speak to thee. "Hear, and I will speak to thee." For if thou hearest not, even though I shall speak, it will not be to thee. When then shall I speak to thee? If thou hearest. When hearest thou? If thou art my people. For, "Hear, my people:" thou hearest not if thou art an alien people. "Hear, my people, and I will speak to thee: Israel, and I will testify to thee." ... For "Thy God," is properly said to that man whom God doth keep more as one of His family, as though in His household, as though in His peculiar: "Thy God am I." What wilt thou more? Requirest thou a reward from God, so that God may give thee something; so that what He hath given thee may be thine own? Behold God Himself, who shall give, is thine own. What richer than He? Gifts thou wast desiring, thou hast the Giver Himself. "God, thy God, I am."
15. What He requireth of man, let us see; what tribute our God, our Emperor and our King doth enjoin us; since He hath willed to be our King, and hath willed us to be His province? Let us hear His injunctions. Let not a poor man tremble beneath the injunction of God: what God enjoineth to be given to Himself, He doth Himself first give that enjoineth: be ye only devoted. God doth not exact what He hath not given, and to all men hath given what He doth exact. For what doth He exact? Let us hear now: "I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices" (verse 8). I will not say to thee, Wherefore hast thou not slain for me a fat bull? why hast thou not selected the best he-goat from thy flock? Wherefore doth that ram amble among thy sheep, and is not laid upon mine altar? I will not say, Examine thy fields and thy pen(16) and thy walls, seeking what thou mayest give Me. "I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices." What then: Dost Thou not accept my sacrifices? "But thy holocausts are always in My sight" (verse 9). Certain holocausts concerning which it is said in another Psalm, "If Thou hadst desired sacrifice, I would surely have given, with holocausts Thou wilt not be delighted:"(1) and again he turneth himself," Sacrifice to God is a troubled spirit, a heart broken and humbled God doth not despise."(2) Which be then holocausts that He despiseth not? Which holocausts that are always in His sight? "Kindly, O Lord," he saith, "deal in Thy good will with Sion, and be the walls of Jerusalem builded, then shall Thou accept the sacrifice of righteousness, oblations, and holocausts." He saith that certain holocausts God will accept. But what is a holocaust? A whole consumed with fire: causis is burning, holon is whole: but a "holocaust" is a whole consumed with fire. There is a certain fire of most burning love: be the mind inflamed with love, let the same love hurry off the limbs to its use, let it not allow them to serve cupidity, in order that we may wholly glow with fire of divine love that will offer to God a holocaust. Such "holocausts of thine are in My sight always."
16. As yet that Israel perchance doth not understand what are the holocausts thereof which He hath in His sight always, and is still thinking of oxen, of sheep, of he-goats: let it not so think: "I will not accept calves of thy house." Holocausts I named; at once in mind and thought to earthly flocks thou wast running, therefrom thou wast selecting for Me some fat thing: "I will not accept calves of thy house." He is foretelling the New Testament, wherein all those sacrifices have ceased. For they were then foretelling a certain Sacrifice which was to be, with the Blood whereof we should be cleansed. "I will not accept calves of thy house, nor he-goats of thy flocks."
17. "For mine are all the beasts of the wood" (verse 10). Why should I ask of thee what I have made? Is it more thine, to whom I have given it to possess, than Mine, who have made it? "For mine are all the beasts of the wood." But perchance that Israel saith, The beasts are God's, those wild beasts which I enclose not in my pen, which I bind not to my stall; but this ox and sheep and he-goat--these are mine own. "Cattle on the mountain, and oxen."(3) Mine are those which thou possessest not, Mine are these which thou possessest. For if thou art My servant, the whole of thy property is Mine. For it cannot be, that is the property of the master which the servant hath gotten to himself, and yet that not be the property of the Master which the Master Himself hath created for the servant. Therefore Mine are the beasts of the wood which thou hast not taken; Mine are also the cattle on the mountains which are thine, and the oxen which are at thy stall: all are Mine own, for I have created them.
18. "I know all the winged creatures of heaven" (verse 11). How doth He know? He hath weighed them, hath counted. Which of us knoweth all the winged creatures of heaven? But even though to some man God give knowledge of all the winged creatures of heaven, He doth not Himself know in the same manner as He giveth man to know. One thing is God's knowledge, another man's: in like manner as there is one possession of God's, another of man's: that is, God's possessing is one thing, man's another. For what thou possessest thou hast not wholly in thy power, or else thy ox, so long as it liveth, is in thy power; so as that it either die not, or be not to be fed. With whom there is the highest power, there is highest and most secret cognition. Let us ascribe tiffs to God, while praising God. Let us not dare to say, How knoweth God? Do not, I pray you, brethren, of me expect this, that I should unfold to you, how God doth know: this only I say, He doth not so know as a man, He doth not so know as an Angel: and how He knoweth I dare not say, because also I cannot ken. One thing, nevertheless, I ken, that even before all the winged creatures of heaven were, God knew that which He was to create. What is that knowledge? O man, thou beginnest to see, after that thou hadst been formed, after that thou hadst received sense of seeing. These fowls sprung of the water at the word of God, saying, "Let the waters bring forth fowls."(4) Whereby did God know the things which He commanded the water to bear forth? Now surely He knew what He had created, and before He created He knew. So great then is the knowledge of God, so that with Himself they were in a certain ineffable manner before they were created: and of thee doth He expect to receive what He had, before He created? "I know all the winged creatures of heaven," which thou to Me canst not give. The things which thou wast about to slay for Me, I know all: not because I made I know, but in order that I might make. "And the beauty of the field is with Me." The fairness of the field, the abundance of all things engendering upon earth, "is with Me," He saith. How with Him? Were they so, even before they were made? Yea, for with Him were all things to come, and with Him are all things by-gone: things to come in such sort, that there be not withdrawn from Him all things by-gone. With Him are all things by a certain cognition of the ineffable wisdom of God residing in the Word, and the(1) Word Himself is all things. Is not the beauty of the field in a manner with Him, inasmuch as He is everywhere, and Himself hath said, "Heaven and earth I fill "?(2) What with Him is not, of whom it is said, "If I shall have ascended into heaven, Thou art there; and if I shall have descended into hell, Thou art present "?(3) With Him is the whole: but it is not so with Him as that He doth suffer any contamination from those things which He hath created, or any want of them. For with thee, perchance, is a pillar near which thou art standing, and when thou art weary, thou leanest against it. Thou needest that which is with thee, God needeth not the field which is which Him. With Him is field, with Him beauty of earth, with Him beauty of heaven, with Him all winged creatures, because He is Himself everywhere. And wherefore are all things near Him? Because even before that all things were, or were created, to Him were known all things.
19. Who can explain, who expound that which is said to Him in another Psalm, "For my goods Thou needest not"?(4) He hath said that He needeth not from us any necessary thing. "If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee" (verse 12). He that keepeth Israel shall neither hunger nor thirst, nor be weary, nor fall asleep.(5) But, lo! according to thy carnality I speak: because thou wilt suffer hunger when thou hast not eaten, perhaps thou thinkest even God doth hunger that He may eat. Even though He shall be hungry, He telleth not thee: all things are before Him, whence He will He taketh what is needful for Him. These words are said to convince little understanding; not that God hath declared His hunger. Though for our sake this God of gods deigned even to hunger. He came to hunger, and to fill; He came to thirst, and give drink; He came to be clothed with mortality, and to clothe with immortality; He came poor, to make rich. For He lost not His riches by taking to Him our poverty, for, "In him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden."(6) "If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee. For Mine is the whole world, and the fulness thereof." Do not then labour to find what to give Me, without whom I have what I will.
20. Why then dost still think of thy flocks? "Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or shall I drink the blood of he-goats?" (verse 13). Ye have heard what of us He requireth not, who willeth to enjoin us somewhat. If of such things ye were thinking, now withdraw your thoughts from such things: think not to offer God any such thing. If thou hast a fat bull, kill for the poor: let them eat the flesh of bulls, though they shall not drink the blood of he-goats. Which, when thou shalt have done, He will account it to thee, that hath said," If I shall be hungry, I will not tell thee:" and He shall say to thee, "I was hungry, and thou gavest Me to eat."(7) "Shall I eat the flesh of bulls, or shall I drink the blood of he-goats?"
21. Say then, Lord our God, what dost Thou enjoin thy people, Thy Israel? "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise" (verse 14). Let us also say to Him, "In me, O God, are thy vows, which I will render of prose to Thee." I had feared lest Thou mightest enjoin something which would be out of my power, which I was counting to be in my pen, and but now perchance it had been taken away by a thief. What dost Thou enjoin me? "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise" Let me revert to myself, wherein I may find what I may immolate: let me revert to myself; in myself may I find immolation of praise: be Thy altar my conscience. We are without anxiety, we go not into Arabia in quest of frankincense:(8) not any bags of covetous dealer do we sift: God requireth of us the sacrifice of praise. Zacchaeus had the sacrifice of praise in his patrimony;(9) the widow had it in her bag;(10) some poor host or other hath had it in his jar: another neither in patrimony, nor in bag, nor in jar, hath had anything, had it wholly in his heart: salvation was to the house of Zacchaeus; and more this poor widow cast in than those rich men: this man, that doth offer a cup of cold water, shall not lose his reward:(11) but there is even "peace on earth to men of good will."(12) "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise.(12) O sacrifice gratuitous, by grace given ! I have not indeed bought this to offer, but Thou hast given: for not even this should I have had. And this is the immolation of the sacrifice of praise, to render thanks to Him from whom thou hast whatever of good thou hast, and by whose mercy is forgiven thee whatsoever of evil of thine thou hast. "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise: and render to the Highest thy prayers." With this odour the Lord is well pleased.(13)
22. "And call thou upon Me in the day of thy tribulation: and I will draw thee forth, and thou shall glorify Me" (verse 15). For thou oughtest not to rely on thy powers, all thy aids are deceitful. "Upon Me call thou in the day of tribulation: I will draw thee forth, and thou shalt glorify Me." For to this end I have allowed the day of tribulation to come to thee: because perchance if thou wast not troubled, thou wouldest not call on Me: but when thou art troubled, thou callest on Me; when thou callest upon Me, I will draw thee forth; when I shah draw thee forth, thou shalt glorify Me, that thou mayest no more depart from Me. A certain man had grown dull and cold in fervour of prayer, and said, "Tribulation and grief I found, and on the Name of the Lord I called."(1) He found tribulation as it were some profitable thing; he had rotted in the slough of his sins; now he had continued without feeling, he found tribulation to be a sort of caustic and cutting. "I found," he saith, "tribulation and grief, and on the Name of the Lord I called." And truly, brethren, tribulations are known to all men. Behold those afflictions that abound in mankind; one afflicted with loss bewaileth; another smitten with bereavement mourneth; another exiled from country grieveth and desireth to return, deeming sojourning intolerable; another's vineyard is hailed upon, he observeth his labours and all his toil spent in vain. When can a human being not be made sad? An enemy he findeth in a friend. What greater misery in mankind? These things all men do deplore and grieve at, and these are tribulations: in all these they call upon the Lord, and they do rightly. Let them call upon God, He is able either to teach how it must be borne, or to heal it when borne. He knoweth how not to suffer us to be tried above that we are able to bear.(2) Let us call upon God even in those tribulations: but these tribulations do find us; as in another Psalm is written, "Helper in tribulations which have found us too much: "(3) there is a certain tribulation which we ought to find. Let such tribulations find us: there is a certain tribulation which we ought to seek and to find. What is that? The above-named felicity in this world, abundance of temporal things: that is not indeed tribulation, these are the solaces of our tribulation. Of what tribulation? Of our sojourning. For the very fact that we are not yet with God, the very fact that we are living amid trials and difficulties, that we cannot be without fear, is tribulation: for there is not that peace which is promised us. He that shall not have found this tribulation in his sojourning, doth not think of going home to his father-land. This is tribulation, brethren. Surely now we do good works, when we deal bread to the hungry, home to the stranger, and the like: tribulation even this is. For we find pitiful objects upon whom we show pity; and the pitiful case of pitiful objects maketh us compassionate. How much better now would it be with thee in that place, where thou findest no hungry man whom thou mayest feed, where thou findest no stranger whom thou mayest take in, no naked man whom thou mayest cover, no sick man whom thou mayest visit, no litigant whom thou mayest set at one ! For all things in that place are most high, are true, are holy, are everlasting. Our bread in that place is righteousness, our drink there is wisdom, our garment there is immortality, our house is everlasting in the heavens, our stedfastness(4) is immortality: doth sickness come over? Doth weariness weigh down to sleep? No death, no litigation: there peace, quiet, joy, righteousness. No enemy hath entrance, no friend falleth away. What is the quiet there? If we think and observe where we are, and where He that cannot He hath promised that we are to be, from His very promise we find in what tribulation we are. This tribulation none findeth, but he that shall have sought it. Thou art whole, see if thou art miserable; for it is easy for him that is sick to find himself miserable: when thou art whole, see if thou art miserable; that thou art not yet with God. "Tribulation and grief I found, and on the Name of the Lord I called."(5) "Immolate," therefore, "to God the sacrifice of praise." Praise Him promising, praise Him calling, praise Him exhorting, praise Him helping: and understand in what tribulation thou art placed. Call upon (Him), thou shalt be drawn forth, thou shalt glorify, shalt abide.
23. But see what followeth, my brethren. For now some one or other, because God had said to him, "Immolate to God the sacrifice of praise," and had enjoined in a manner this tribute, did meditate to himself and said, I will rise daily, I will proceed to Church, I will say one hymn at matins, another at vespers, a third or fourth in my house, daily I do sacrifice the sacrifice of praise, and immolate to my God. Well thou doest indeed, if thou doest this: but take heed, lest now thou be careless, because now thou doest this: and perchance thy tongue bless God, and thy life curse God. O my people, saith to thee the God of gods, the Lord that spake, "calling the earth from the rising of the sun unto the setting," though yet thou art placed amid the tares,(6) "Immolate the sacrifice of praise to thy God, and render to Him thy prayers:" but take heed lest thou live ill, and chant well. Wherefore this? For, "Unto the sinner, saith God, why dost thou tell out My judgments, and takest My Covenant in thy mouth?" (verse 16). Ye see, brethren, with what trembling we say these words. We take the Covenant of God in our mouth, and we say these words. We take the Covenant of God in our mouth, and we preach to you the instruction and judgment of God. And what saith God to the sinner? "Why dost thou?" Doth He then forbid preachers that be sinners? And where is that, "What they say do, but what they do, do not "?(1) Where is that, "Whether in truth or on occasion Christ be preached "?(2) But these words were said, lest they should fear that hear, from whomsoever it be that they hear: not that they should be without care that speak good words, and do evil deeds. Now therefore, brethren, ye are without care: if ye hear good words ye hear God,(3) through whomsoever it be that ye may hear. But God would not dismiss without reproof them that speak: lest with their speaking alone, without care for themselves they should slumber in evil life, and say to themselves, "For God will not consign us to perdition, through whose mouth He has willed that so many good words should be spoken to His people." Nay, but hear what thou speakest, whoever thou art that speakest: and thou that writ be heard thyself, first hear thyself; and speak what a certain man doth speak in another Psalm,(4) "I will hear what in me speaketh the Lord God, for He shall speak peace to His people." What am I then, that hear not what in me He speaketh, and will that other hear what through me He speaketh? I will hear first, will hear, and chiefly I will hear what speaketh in me the Lord God, for He shall speak peace to His people. Let me hear, and "chasten my body, and to servitude subject it, lest perchance to others preaching, myself be found a cast-away."(5) "Why dost thou tell out my judgments?" Wherefore to thee what profiteth not thee? He admonisheth him to hear: not to lay down preaching, but to take up obedience. "But thou, why dost thou take My Covenant in they mouth?"
24. "But thou hatest instruction" (verse 17). Thou hatest discipline. When I spare, thou singest and praisest: when I chasten, thou murmurest: as though, when I spare, I am thy God: and, when I chasten, I am not thy God. "I rebuke and chasten those whom I love."(6) "But thou hatest instruction: and hast thrown My sayings behind thee." The words that are said through thee, thou throwest behind thee. "And thou hast thrown My sayings behind thee:" to a place where they may not be seen by thee, but may load thee. "And thou hast thrown My sayings behind thee."
25. "If thou sawest a thief, thou didst consent unto him, and with adulterers thou didst make thy portion" (verse 18). Lest perchance thou shouldest say, I have not committed theft, I have not committed adultery. What if he pleased thee that hath committed? Hast thou not with the very pleasing consented? Hast thou not by approval made thy portion with him that hath committed? For this is , brethren, to consent with a thief, and to make with an adulterer thy portion: for even if thou committest not, and approvest what is committed, thou art an accessory in the deed: for " the sinner is praised in the longings of his soul, and he that doeth iniquity shall be blessed."(7) Thou doest not evil things, thou praisest evil-doers. For is this a small evil? "Thou didst make thy portion with adulterers."
26. "Thy mouth hath abounded in malice, and thy tongue hath embraced deceit" (verse 19). Of the malevolence and deceit, brethren, of certain men he speaketh, who by adulation, though they know what they hear to be evil, yet lest they offend those from whom they hear, not only by not reproving but by holding their peace do consent.(8) Too little is it, that they do not say, Thou hast done evil: but they even say, Thou hast done even well: and they know it to be evil: but their mouth aboundeth in malice, and their tongue embraceth deceit. Deceit is a sort of guile in words, of uttering one thing, thinking another. He saith not, thy tongue hath committed deceit or perpetrated deceit, but is order to point out to thee a kind of pleasure taken in the very evil doing, He hath said, "Hath embraced." It is too little that thou doest it, thou art delighted too; thou praisest openly, thou laughest to thyself. Thou dost push to destruction a man heedlessly putting forth his faults, and knowing not whether they be faults: thou that knowest it to be a fault, sayest not, "Whither art thou rushing?" If thou wert to see him heedlessly walk in the dark, where thou knewest a well to be, and wert to hold thy peace, of what sort wouldest thou be? wouldest thou not be set down for an enemy of his life?(9) And yet if he were to fall into a well, not in soul(10) but in body he would die. He doth fall headlong into his vices, he doth expose before thee his evil doings: thou knowest them to be evil, and praisest and laughest to thyself. Oh that at length he were to be turned to God at whom thou hughest, and whom thou wouldest not reprove, and that he were to say, "Let them be confounded that say to me, Well, well."(11)
27. "Sitting against thy brother thou didst detract" (verse 20). And this "sitting" doth belong to that whereof he hath spoken above in, "hath embraced." For he that doeth anything while standing or passing along, doth it not with pleasure: but if he for this purpose sitteth, how much leisure cloth he seek out to do it ! That very evil detraction thou wast making with diligence, thou wast making sitting; thou wouldest thereon be wholly engaged; thou wast embracing thy evil, thou wast kissing thy craftiness. "And against thy mother's son thou didst lay a stumbling-block." Who is "mother's son "? Is it not brother? He would repeat then the same that he had said above, "thy brother." Hath he intimated that any distinction must be perceived by us? Evidently, brethren, I think a distinction must be made. Brother against brother doth detract, for example's sake, as though for instance one strong, and now a doctor and scholar of some weight, doth detract from his brother, one perchance that is teaching well and walking well: but another is weak, against him he layeth a stumbling-block by detracting from the former. For when the good are detracted from by those that seem to be of some weight and to be learned, the weak fall upon the stumbling-block, who as yet know not how to judge. Therefore this weak one is called "mother's son," not yet father's, still needing milk, and hanging on the breast. He is borne as yet in the bosom of his mother the Church, he is not strong enough to draw near to the solid food of his Fathers table, but from the mother's breast he draweth sustenance, unskilled in judging, inasmuch as yet he is animal and carnal. "For the spiritual man judgeth all things,"(1) but "the animal man perceiveth not those things which are of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him."(2) To such men saith the Apostle, "I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as to babes in Christ I gave you milk to drink, not meat; for ye were not able, but not even now are ye able."(3) A mother I have been to you: as is said in another place, "I became a babe among you, even as a nurse cherishing her own children."(4) Not a nurse nursing children of others, but a nurse cherishing her own children. For there are mothers who when they have borne give to nurses: they that have borne cherish not their children, because they have given them to be nursed;(5) but those that cherish, cherish not their own, but those of others: but he himself had borne, he was himself cherishing, to no nurse did commit what he had borne; for he had said, "Of whom I travel again until Christ be formed in you."(6) He did cherish them, and gave milk. But there were some as it were learned and spiritual men who detracted from Paul. "His letters indeed, say they, are weighty and powerful; but the presence of his body weak, and speech contemptible: "(7) he saith himself in his Epistle, that certain his detractors had said these words. They were sitting, and were detracting against their brother, and against that their mother's son, to be fed with milk, they were laying a stumbling-block. "And against thy mothers son thou didst lay a stumbling-block."
28. "These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue" (verse 21). Therefore the Lord our God shall come, and shall not keep silence. Now, "These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue" What is , "I held my tongue "? From vengeance I have desisted, my severity I have deferred, patience to thee I have prolonged, thy repentance I have long looked for ... "Thou hast imagined iniquity, that I shall be like unto thee;" Thou hast s imagined that I shall be like unto thee, while thou wilt not be like unto Me. For, "Be ye," he saith, "perfect, even as your Father, which is in the heavens, who maketh His sun to rise on the good and evil."(9) Him thou wouldest not copy, who giveth good things even to evil men, insomuch that sitting thou dost detract even from good men. "I will reprove thee," when "God manifest shall come, our God, and shall not keep silence," "I will reprove thee." And what to thee shall I do in reproving thee? what to thee shall I do? Now thyself thou seest not, I will make thee see thyself. Because if thou shouldest see thyself, and shouldest displease thyself, thou wouldest please Me: but because not seeing thyself thou hast pleased thyself, thou wilt displease both Me and thyself; Me when thou shalt be judged; thyself when thou shalt burn. But what to thee shall I do? He saith. "I will set thee before thy face." For why wouldest thou escape thyself? At thy back thou art to thyself, thou seest not thyself: I make thee see thyself: what behind thy back thou hast put, before thy face will I put; thou shalt see thy uncleanness, not that thou mayest amend, but that thou mayest blush . ...
29. But, "understand these things, ye that forget God" (verse 22). See how He crieth, and keepeth not silence, spareth(10) not. Thou hadst forgotten the Lord," didst not think of thy evil life. Perceive how thou hast forgotten the Lord. "Lest at length He seize like a lion, and there be none to driven" What is "like a lion "? Like a brave one, like a mighty one, like him whom none can withstand. To this he made reference when he said, "Lion." For it is used for praise, it is used also for showing evil. The devil hath been called lion: "Your adversary," He saith, "like a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom He may devour?"(1) May it not be that whereas he hath been called lion because of savage fierceness, Christ hath been called Lion for wondrous mightiness? And where is that, "The Lion hath prevailed of the tribe of 30. "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me" (verse 23). How shall "sacrifice of praise glorify Me"? Assuredly sacrifice of praise doth no wise profit evil men, because they take Thy Covenant in their mouth, and do damnable things that displease Thine eyes. Straightway, he saith, even to them this I say, "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." For if thou livest ill and speakest good words, not yet dost thou praise: but again, if, when thou beginnest to live well, to thy merits thou dost ascribe thy living well, not yet dost thou praise. ... Therefore the Publican went down justified, rather than that Pharisee. Therefore hear ye that live well, hear ye that live ill: "Sacrifice of praise shall glorify Me." No one offereth Me this sacrifice, and is evil. I say not, Let there not offer Me this any one that is evil; but no one doth offer Me this, that is evil. For he that praiseth, is good: because if he praiseth, he doth also live well, because if he praiseth, not only with tongue he praiseth, but life also with tongue doth agree.
31. "And there is the way whereby I will show him the salvation of God." In sacrifice of praise" is the way." What is "the salvation of God "? Christ Jesus. And how in sacrifice of praise to us is shown Christ? Because Christ with grace came to us. These words saith the Apostle: "But I live, now not I, but Christ liveth in me: but that in flesh I live, in faith I live of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me."(3) Acknowledge then sinners, that there would not need physician, if they were whole.(4) For Christ died for the ungodly.(5) When then they acknowledge their ungodlinesses, and first copy that Publican, saying, "Lord, be merciful to me a sinner: "(6) show wounds, beseech Physician: and because they praise not themselves, but blame themselves,--"So that he that glorieth, not in himself but in the Lord may glory,"(7)--they acknowledge the cause of the coming of Christ, because for this end He came, that He might save sinners: for "Jesus Christ came," he saith, "into this world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."(8) Further, those Jews, boasting of their work, thus the same Apostle doth rebuke, in saying, that they to grace belonged not, who to their merits and their works thought that reward was owing.(9) He therefore that knoweth himself to belong to grace, doth know what is Christ and what is Christ's because he needeth grace. If grace it is called, gratis it is given; if gratis it is given, not any merits of time have preceded that it should be given.
Augustin on Psalms 492