Augustin on Psalms 75

PSALM 75 (74)

Ps 75)

1. .... The Title of this Psalm thus speaketh: "At the end,(2) corrupt not." What is, "corrupt not?" That which Thou hast promised, perform. But when? "At the end." To this then let the mind's eye be directed, "unto the end." Let all the things which have occurred in the way be passed over, in order that we may attain to the end. Let proud men exult because of present felicity, let them swell with honours, glitter in gold, overflow with domestics, be encircled with the services of clients: these things pass away, they pass away like a shadow. When that end shall have come, when all who now hope in the Lord are to rejoice, then to them shall come sorrow without end. When the meek shall have received that which the proud deride, then the vapouring of the proud shall be turned into mourning. Then shall there be that voice which we know in the Book of Wisdom: for they shall say at that time when they see the glory of the Saints, who, when they were in humiliation, endured them; who, when they were exalted, consented not--at that time then they shall say, "These are they whom sometime we have had in derision."(3) Where they also say, "What hath pride profited us, and the boasting of riches hath bestowed upon us what?" All things have passed away like a shadow. Because on things corruptible they relied, their hope shall be corrupted: but our own hope at that time shall be substance. For in order that the promise of God may remain whole and sure and certain towards us, we have said out of a heart(4) of faith, "at the end corrupt not." Fear not, therefore, lest any mighty man should corrupt the promises of God. He doth not corrupt, because He is truthful; He hath no one more mighty by whom His promise may be corrupted: let us be then sure concerning the promises of God; and let us sing now from the place where the Psalm beginneth.

2. "We will confess to Thee, O Lord, we will confess to Thee, and will invoke Thy name" (verse 1 ). Do not invoke, before thou confess: confess, and invoke. For Him whom thou art invoking, unto thyself thou callest. For what is it to invoke, but unto thyself to call? If He is invoked by thee, that is, if He is called to thee, unto whom doth He draw near? To a proud man He draweth not near. High indeed He is, one lifted up attaineth not unto Him. In order that we may reach all exalted objects, we raise ourselves, and if we are not able to reach them, we look for some appliances or ladders, in order that being exalted we may reach exalted objects: contrariwise God is both high, and by the lowly He is reached. It is written, "Nigh is the Lord to them that have bruised the heart."(5) The bruising of the heart is Godliness, humility. He that bruiseth himself is angry with himself. Let him make himself angry in order that he may make Him merciful; let him make himself judge, in order that he may make Him Advocate. Therefore God doth come when invoked. Unto whom doth He come? To the proud man He cometh not. ... Take heed therefore what ye do: for if He knoweth, He is not unobservant.(6) It is better therefore that He be unobservant than known. For what is that same being unobservant, but not knowing? What is, not to know? Not to animadvert. For even as the act of one avenging animadversion is wont to be spoken of. Here one praying that He be unobservant: "Turn away Thy face from my sins."(7) What then wilt thou do if He shall have turned away His face from thee? A grievous thing it is, and to be feared, lest He forsake thee. Again, if He turn not away His face, He animadverteth. God knoweth this thing, God can do this thing, namely, both turn away face from one sinning, and not turn away from one confessing. ... Confess therefore and invoke. For by confessing thou purgest the Temple, into which He may come, when invoked. Confess and invoke. May He turn away face from thy sins, not turn away from thee: turn away face from that which thou hast wrought,(1) not turn away from that which He hath Himself wrought.(2) For thee, as man, He hath Himself wrought, thy sins thou hast thyself wrought ....

3. But that there is a strengthening of the sense in repetition, by many passages of the Scriptures we are taught. Thence is that which the Lord saith, "Verily, Verily."(3) Thence in certain Psalms is, "So be it, So be it."(4) To signify the thing, one "So be it" would have been sufficient: to signify confirmation, there hath been added another" So be it." ... Count less passages of such sort there are throughout all the Scriptures. With these it is sufficient that we have commended to your notice a way of speaking which ye may observe in all like cases: now to the substance attend: "We will confess to Thee," he saith, "and we will invoke." I have said why before invocation confession doth precede: because whom thou dost invoke, him thou dost invite. But he willeth not to come when invoked, if thou shall have been lifted up: lifted up if thou shall have been, thou wilt not be able to confess. And thou deniest not any things to God that He knoweth not. Therefore thy confession doth not teach Him, but it purgeth thee.

4. ... Hear ye now the words of Christ. For these seemed not as it were to be His words,(5) "We will confess to Thee, O God, we will confess to Thee, and will invoke Thy name." Now beginneth the discourse in the person of the Head. But whether Head speaketh or whether members speak, Christ speaketh: He speaketh in the person of the Head, He speaketh in the person of the Body. But what hath been said? There shall be two in one flesh.(6) "This is a great Sacrament:" "I," he saith, "speak in Christ and in the Church."(7) And He Himself in the Gospel, "Therefore no longer two, but one flesh." (8) For in order that ye may know these in a manner to be two persons, and again one by the bond of marriage, as one He speaketh in Isaiah, and saith, "As upon a Bridegroom he hath bound upon me a mitre, and as a Bride he hath clothed me with an ornament."(9) A Bridegroom He hath called Himself in the Head, a Bride in the Body. He is speaking therefore as One, let us hear Him, and in Him let us also speak. Let us be the members of Him, in order that this voice may possibly be ours also. "I will tell forth," he saith, "all Thy marvellous things." Christ is preaching Himself, He is preaching Himself even in His members now existing, in order that He may guide unto Him others, and they may draw near that were not, and may be united with those members of Him, through which members of Him the Gospel hath been preached; and there may be made one Body under one Head, in one Spirit, in one Life.

5. And he saith what? "When I shall have received," he saith, "the time, (10) I will judge justices" (verse 2). When shall He judge justices? When He shall have received the time. Not yet is the precise time. Thanks to His mercy: He first preacheth justices, and then He judgeth justices. For if He willed to judge before He willed to preach, who would be found that should be delivered: who would meet Him that should be absolved? Now therefore is the time of preaching: "I will tell," he saith," all Thy marvellous works." Hear Him telling, hear Him preaching : for if thou shalt have despised Him, "when I shall have received the time," He saith, "I will judge justices." I forgive, He saith, now sins to one confessing, I will not spare hereafter one despising. ... He hath received a time as Son of Man; He doth govern times as Son of God. Hear how as Son of Man He hath received the time of judging. He saith in the Gospel, "He hath given to Him power to execute judgment, because Son of Man He is."(11) According to His nature as Son of God, He hath never received power of judging, because He never lacked the power of judging: according to His nature as Son of Man He hath received a time, as of being born, and of suffering, as of dying, and of rising again, and of ascending, so of coming and of judging. In Him His Body also saith these words, for not without them He will judge. For He saith in the Gospel, "Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."(12) Therefore whole Christ saith, that is, Head and Body in the Saints, "when I shall have received the time, I will judge justices."

6. But now what? "The earth hath flowed down" (verse 3). If the earth hath flowed down, whence hath it flowed down except by sins? Therefore also they are called delinquencies. To delinquish is as it were by a kind of liquidity(13) to slip down from the stability of firmness in virtue and righteousness. For it is through desire of lower things that every man sinneth: as he is strengthened by the love of higher things, so he falleth down and as it were melteth away by desire of lower things. This flux of things by the sins of man the merciful forgiver observing, being a merciful forgiver of sins, not yet an exactor of punishments, He observeth and saith: The earth herself indeed hath flowed down by them that dwell in her. That which followeth is an exposition, not an addition. As though thou wert saying, in what manner hath the earth flowed down? Have the foundations been withdrawn, and hath anything therein been swallowed up in a sort of gulf? What I mean by earth is all they that dwell therein. I have found, he saith, the earth sinful. And I have done what? "I have strengthened the pillars thereof." What are the pillars which He hath strengthened? Pillars He hath called the Apostles. So the Apostle Paul concerning his fellow-Apostles saith, "who seemed to be pillars."(1) And what would those pillars have been, except by Him they had been strengthened? For on occasion of a sort of earthquake even these very pillars rocked: at the Passion of the Lord all the Apostles despaired. Therefore those pillars which rocked at the Passion of the Lord, by the Resurrection were strengthened. The Beginning of the building hath cried out through the pillars thereof, and in all those pillars the Architect Himself hath cried out. For the Apostle Paul was one pillar of them when he said, "Would ye receive a proof of Him that speaketh in me--Christ?"(2) Therefore, "I," he saith, "have strengthened the pillars thereof:" I have risen again, I have shown that death is not to be feared, I have shown to them that fear, that not even the body itself doth perish in the dying. There terrified them wounds, there strengthened them scars. The Lord Jesus could have risen again without any scar: for what great matter were it for that power, to restore the frame of the body to such perfect soundness, as that no trace at all of past wound should appear? He had power whence He might make it whole even without scar: but He willed to have that whereby He might strengthen the rocking pillars.

7. We have heard now, brethren, that which day by day is not kept secret: let us hear now what He hath cried through these pillars. ... He crieth what? "I have said to unjust men, Do not unjustly" (verse 4). ... But already they have done, and they are guilty: already there hath flowed down the earth, and all they that dwell therein. Pricked to the heart were they that crucified Christ,(3) they acknowledged their sin, they learned something of the Apostle, that they might not despair of the pardon of the Preacher.(4) For as Physician He had come, and therefore had not come to the whole. "For there is no need," He saith, "to the whole of a physician, but to them that are sick. I have not come to call righteous men, but sinners to repentance."(5) Therefore, "I have said to unjust men, Do not unjustly." They heard not. For of old to us it was spoken: we heard not, we fell, were made mortal, were begotten mortal: the earth flowed down. Let them hear the Physician even now in order that they may rise, Him that came to the sick man, Him whom they would not hear when whole in order that they might not fall, let them hear when lying down in order that they may rise. ... "I have said to unjust men, Do not unjustly; and to the delinquent, Do not exalt your horn." There shall be exalted in you the horn of Christ, if your horn be not exalted. Your horn is of iniquity, the horn of Christ is of majesty.

8. "Be not therefore lifted up: speak not iniquity against God" (verse 5). ... What saith He in another Psalm? "These things thou hast done," having enumerated certain sins. "These things thou hast done," He saith, "and was silent."(6) What is, "I was silent"? He is never silent with commandment, but meanwhile He is silent with punishment: He is keeping still from vengeance, He doth not pronounce sentence against the condemned. But this man saith thus, I have done such and such things, and God hath not taken vengeance; behold I am whole, nought of ill hath befallen me. "These things thou hast done, and I was silent: thou hast suspected iniquity, that I shall be like unto thee." What is, "that I shall be like unto thee"? Because thou art unjust, even Me thou hast deemed unjust; as though an approver of thy misdeeds, and no adversary, no avenger thereof. And what afterwards saith He to thee? "I will convict thee, and will set thee before thine own face"?(6) What is this? Because now by sinning behind thy back thou settest thyself, seest not thyself, examinest not thyself; I will set thee before thyself, and will bring upon thee punishment from thyself. So also here, "Speak not iniquity against God." Attend. Many men speak this iniquity; but dare not openly, lest as blasphemers they be abhorred by godly men: in their heart they gnaw upon these things, within they feed upon such impious food; it delighteth them to speak against God, and if they break not out with tongue, in heart they are not silent. Whence in another Psalm is said, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." (7) The fool hath said, but he hath feared men: he would not say it where men might hear; and he said it in that place where He might Himself hear concerning whom he said it. Therefore here also in this Psalm (dearly beloved attend), whereas that which He said, "Do not speak iniquity against God," this He saw many men do in heart, He hath also added, "for neither from East, nor from West, nor from the deserts of the mountains (verse 6), for God is Judge" (verse 7). Of thine iniquities God is Judge. If God He is, everywhere He is present. Whither wilt thou take thyself away from the eyes of God, so that in some quarter thou mayest speak that which He may not hear? If from the East God judgeth, withdraw into the West, and say what thou wilt against God: if froth the West, go into the East, and there speak: if from the deserts of the mountains He judgeth, go into the midst of the peoples, where thou mayest murmur to thyself. From no place judgeth He that everywhere is secret, everywhere open; whom it is allowed no one to know as He is, and whom no one is permitted not to know. Take heed what thou doest. Thou art speaking iniquity against God. "The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the round world" (another Scripture saith this), "and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice: wherefore he that speaketh unjust things cannot be hid."(1) Do not therefore think God to be in places: He is with thee such an one as thou shall have been. What if such an one as thou shalt have been? Good, is, thou shall have been good; and evil to thee He will seem, if evil thou shall have been; but a Helper, if good thou shalt have been; an Avenger, if evil thou shall have been. There thou hast a Judge in thy secret place. Willing to do something of evil, from the public thou retirest into thy house, where no enemy may see; from those places of thine house which, are open and before the eyes of men, thou removest thyself into a chamber; thou fearest even in thy chamber some witness from some other quarter, thou retirest into thy heart, there thou meditatest: He is more inward than thy heart. Whithersoever therefore thou shalt have fled, there He is. From thyself whither wilt thou flee? Wilt thou not follow thyself whithersoever thou shalt flee? But since there is One more inward even than thyself, there is no place whither thou mayest flee from God angry, but to God reconciled. There is no place at all whither thou mayest flee. Wilt thou flee from Him? Flee to Him. ... What then shall we do now? "Let us come before His face," en exologhsei, come before in confession: He shall come gentle whom thou hadst made angry. "Neither from the deserts of the mountains, for God is Judge:" not from the East, not from the West, not from the deserts of the mountains. Wherefore? "For God is Judge." If in any place He were, He would not be God: but because God is Judge, not man, do not expect Him out of places. His place thou wilt be, if thou art good, if after having confessed(2) thou shalt have invoked Him.

9. "One He humbleth, and another He exalteth" (verse 7). Whom humbleth, whom exalteth this Judge? Observe these two men in the temple, and ye see whom He humbleth and whom He exalteth. "They went up into the Temple to pray," He saith, "the one a Pharisee, and the other a Publican. ... "Verily I say unto you, that Publican went down justified more than that Pharisee: for every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."(3) Thus hath been explained a verse of this Psalm. God the Judge doth what? "One He humbleth, and another He exalteth:" He humbleth the proud, He exalteth the humble.

10. "For the cup in the hand of the Lord of pure wine is full of mixed" (verse 8). Justly so. "And He hath poured out of this Upon this man; nevertheless, the dreg thereof hath not been emptied; there shall drink all the sinners of earth." Let us be somewhat recruited; there is here some obscurity. ... The first question that meeteth us is this, "of pure wine it is full of mixed." How "of pure," if "of mixed"? But when he saith, "the cup in the hand of the Lord" (to men instructed in the Church of Christ I am speaking), ye ought not indeed to paint in your heart God as it were circumscribed with a human form, lest, though the temples are shut up, ye forge images in your hearts. This cup therefore doth signify something. We will find out this. But "in the hand of the Lord," is, in the power of the Lord. For the hand of God is spoken of for the power of God. For even in reference to men ofttimes is said, in hand he hath it: that is, in his power he hath it, when he chooseth he doth it. "Of pure wine it is full of mixed." In continuation he hath himself explained: "He hath inclined," he saith, "from this unto this man; nevertheless the dreg thereof hath not been emptied." Behold how it was full of mixed wine. Let it not therefore terrify you that it is both pure and mixed: pure because of the genuineness thereof, mixed because of the dreg. What then in that place is the wine, and what the dreg? And what is, "He hath inclined from this unto this man," in such sort that the dreg thereof was not emptied?

11. Call ye to mind from whence he came to this: "one He humbleth, and another He exalteth."(4) That which was figured to us in the Gospel through two men, a Pharisee and a Publican,(5) this let us, taking in a wider sense, understand of two peoples, of Jews and of Gentiles: the people of the Jews that Pharisee was, the people of the Gentiles that Publican. ... As those by being proud have withdrawn, so these by confessing have drawn near. The cup therefore full of pure wine in the hand of the Lord, as far as the Lord giveth me to understand,(1) ... the cup of pure wine full of the mixed, seemeth to me to be the Law, which was given to the Jews, and all that Scripture of the Old Testament, as it is called; there are the weights of all manner of sentences. For therein the New Testament lieth concealed, as though in the dreg of corporal Sacraments. The circumcision of the flesh is a thing of great mystery,(2) and there is understood from thence the circumcision of the heart. The Temple of Jerusalem is a thing of great mystery, and there is understood from it the Body of the Lord. The land of promise(3) is understood to be the Kingdom of Heaven. The sacrifice of victims and of beasts hath a great mystery: but in all those kinds of sacrifices is understood that one Sacrifice and only victim of the Cross, the Lord, instead of all which sacrifices we have one; because even those figured these, that is, with those these were figured. That people received the Law, they received commandments just and good.(4) What is so just as, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not speak false testimony, honour thy father and mother, thou shalt not covet the property of thy neighbour, one God thou shalt adore, and Him alone thou shalt serve,(5) all these things belong to the wine. But those things carnal have as it were sunk down in order that they might remain with them, and there might be poured forth from thence all the spiritual understanding. But "the cup in the hand of the Lord," that is, in the power of the Lord: "of pure wine," that is, of the mere Law: "is full of mixed," that is, is together with the dreg of corporal Sacraments. And because the one He humbleth, the proud Jew, and the other He exalteth, the confessing Gentile; "He hath inclined from this unto this," that is, from the Jewish people unto the Gentile people. Hath inclined what? The Law. There hath distilled from thence a spiritual sense. "Nevertheless, the dreg thereof hath not been emptied," for all the carnal Sacraments have remained with the Jews. "There shall drink all the sinners of the earth." Who shall drink? "All the sinners of the earth." Who are the sinners of the earth? The Jews were indeed sinners, but proud: again, the Gentiles were sinners, but humble. All sinners shall drink, but see, who the dreg, who the wine. For those by drinking the dreg have come to nought: these by drinking the wine have been justified. I would dare to speak of them even as inebriated, and I shall not fear: and O that all ye were thus inebriated. Call to mind, "Thy cup inebriating, how passing beautiful!"(6) But why? Do ye think, my brethren, that all those who by confessing Christ even willed to die, were sober? So drunk they were, that they knew not their friends. All their kindred, who strove to divert them from the hope of Heavenly rewards by earthly allurements, were not acknowledged, were not heard by them drunken. Were they not drunken, whose heart had been changed? Were they not drunken, whose mind had been alienated from this world? "There shall drink," he saith, "all the sinners of the earth." But who shall drink the wine? Sinners shall drink, but in order that they may not remain sinners; in order that they may be justified, in order that they may not be punished.

12. "But I," for all drink, but separately I, that is, Christ with His Body, "for ever will rejoice, I will Psalm to the God of Jacob" (verse 9): in that promise to be at the end, whereof is said, "corrupt not."(7) "And all the horns of sinners I will break, and there shall be exalted the horns of the Just" (verse 10). This is, the one He humbleth, the other He exalteth. Sinners would not have their horns to be broken, which without doubt will be broken at the end. Thou wilt not have Him then break them, do thou to-day break them. For thou hast heard above, do not despise it: "I have said to unjust men, Do not unjustly, and to the delinquents, Do not exalt the horn."(8) When thou hast heard, do not exalt the horn, thou hast despised and hast exalted the horn: thou shalt come to the end, where there shall come to pass, "All the horns of sinners I will break, and there shall be exalted the horns of the Just." The horns of sinners are the dignities of proud men: the horns of the Just are the gifts of Christ. For by horns exultations are understood. Thou hatest on earth earthly exultation, in order that thou mayest have the heavenly. Thou lovest the earthly, He doth not admit thee to the Heavenly: and unto confusion will belong thy horn which is broken, just as unto glory it will belong, if thy horn is exalted. Now therefore there is time for making choice, then there will not be. Thou wilt not say, I will be let go and will make choice. For there have preceded the words, "I have said to the unjust." If I have not said, make ready an excuse, make ready a defence: but if I have said, seize first upon confession, lest thou come unto damnation; for then confession will be too late, and there will be no defence.

PSALM 76 (75)

Ps 76)

1. The Jews are wont to glory in this Psalm which we have sung, saying, "Known in Judaea is God, in Israel great is the name of Him:" and to revile the Gentiles to whom God is not known, and to say that to themselves alone God is known; seeing that the Prophet saith," Known in Judaea is God." In other places therefore He is unknown. But God is known in very deed in Judaea, if they understand what is Judaea. For indeed God is not known except in Judaea. Behold even we say this, that except a person shall have been in Judaea, known to him God cannot be. But what saith the Apostle? He that in secret is a Jew, he that is so in circumcision of the heart, not in letter but in spirit.(2) There are therefore Jews in circumcision of the flesh, and there are Jews in circumcision of the heart. Many of our holy fathers(3) had both the circumcision of the flesh, for a seal of the faith, and circumcision of the heart, for the faith itself. From these fathers these men degenerating, who now in the name do glory, and have lost their deeds; from these fathers, I say, degenerating, they have remained Jews in flesh, in heart Heathens. For these are Jews, who are out of Abraham, from whom Isaac was born, and out of him Jacob, and out of Jacob the twelve Patriarchs, and out of the twelve Patriarchs the whole people of the Jews.(4) But they were generally called Jews for this reason, that Judah was one of the twelve sons of Jacob, a Patriarch among the twelve, and from his stock the Royalty came among the Jews. For all this people after the number of the twelve sons of Jacob, had twelve tribes. What we call tribes are as it were distinct houses and congregations of people. That people, I say, had twelve tribes, out of which twelve tribes one tribe was Judah, out of which were the kings; and there was another tribe, Levi, out of which were the priests. But because to the priests serving the temple no land was allotted,(5) but it was necessary that among twelve tribes all the Land of promise should be shared: there having been therefore taken out one tribe of higher dignity, the tribe of Levi, which was of the priests, there would have remained eleven, unless by the adoption of the two sons of Joseph the number twelve were completed. What this is, observe. One of the twelve sons of Jacob was Joseph. ... This Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasse. Jacob, dying, as though by will, received those his grandsons into the number of sons, and said to his son Joseph, "The rest that are born shall be to thee; but these to me, and they shall divide the land with their brethren."(6) As yet there had not been given nor divided the land of promise, but he was speaking in the Spirit, prophesying. The two sons therefore of Joseph being added, there were made up nevertheless twelve tribes, since now there are thirteen. For instead of one tribe of Joseph, two were added, and there were made thirteen. There being taken out then the tribe of Levi, that tribe of priests which did serve the Temple, and lived by the tithes of all the rest unto whom the land was divided, there remain twelve. In these twelve was the tribe of Judah, whence the kings were. For at first from another tribe was given King Saul,(7) and he was rejected as being an evil king; after there was given from the tribe of Judah King David, and out of him from the tribe of Judah were the Kings.(8) But Jacob had spoken of this, when he blessed his sons, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until there come He to whom the promise hath been made."(9) But from the tribe of Judah there came Our Lord Jesus Christ. For He is, as the Scripture saith, and as ye have but now heard, out of the seed of David born of Mary,(10) But as regardeth the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, wherein He is equal with the Father, He is not only before the Jews, but also before Abraham himself;(11) nor only before Abraham, but also before Adam; nor only before Adam, but also before Heaven and earth and before ages: for all things by Himself were made, and without Him there was made nothing? Because therefore in prophecy hath been said, "there shall not fail a prince out of Judah," etc.:(9) former times are examined, and we find that the Jews always had their kings of the tribe of Judah, and had no foreign king before that Herod who was king when the Lord was born. Thence began foreign kings, from Herod.(13) Before Herod all were of the tribe of Judah, but only until there should come He to whom the promise had been made. Therefore when the Lord Himself came, the kingdom of the Jews was overthrown, and removed from the Jews. Now they have no king; because they will not acknowledge the true King. See now whether they must be called Jews. Now ye do see that they must not be called Jews. They have themselves with their own voice resigned that name, so that they are not worthy to be called Jews, except only in the flesh. When did they sever themselves from the name? They said, "We have no king but Caesar."(1) O ye who are called Jews and are not, if ye have no king but Caesar, there hath failed a Prince of Judah: there hath come then He to whom the promise hath been made. They then are more truly Jews, who have been made Christians out of Jews: the rest of the Jews, who in Christ have not believed, have deserved to lose even the very name. The true Judaea, then, is the Church of Christ, believing in that King, who hath come out of the tribe of Judah through the Virgin Mary; believing in Him of whom the Apostle was just now speaking, in writing to Timothy, "Be thou mindful that Jesus Christ hath risen from the dead, of the seed of David, after my Gospel."(2) For of Judah is David, and out of David is the Lord Jesus Christ. We believing in Christ do belong to Judah: and we acknowledge Christ. We, that with eyes have not seen, in faith do keep Him. Let not therefore the Jews revile, who are no longer Jews. They said themselves, "We have no king but Caesar."(1) For better were it for them that their king should be Christ, of the seed of David, of the tribe of Judah. Nevertheless because Christ Himself is of the seed of David after the flesh, but God above all things blessed for ever? He is Himself our King and our God; our King, inasmuch as born of the tribe of Judah, after the flesh, was Christ the Lord, the Saviour; but our God, who is before Judah, and before Heaven and earth, by whom were made all things,(4) both spiritual and corporal. For if all things by Himself were made; even Mary herself, out of whom He was born, by Himself was made. ...

2. "Known in Judaea is God, in Israel great is the Name of Him" (verse 1). Concerning Israel also we ought so to take it as we have concerning Judaea: as they were not the true Jews, so neither was that the true Israel. For what is Israel said to be? One seeing God. And how have they seen God, among whom He walked in the flesh; and while they supposed Him to be man, they slew Him? ... "In Israel great is His Name." Wilt thou be Israel? Observe that man concerning whom the Lord saith, "Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom guile is not."(5) If a true Israelite is he in whom guile is not, the guileful and lying are not true Israelites. Let them not say then, that with them is God, and great is His name in Israel. Let them prove themselves Israelites, and I grant that "in Israel great is His Name."

3. "And there hath been made in peace a place for Him, and His habitation is in Sion" (verse 2). Again, Sion is as it were the country of the Jews; the true Sion is the Church of Christians. But the intrepretation of the Hebrew names is thus handed down to us: Judaea is interpreted confession, Israel, one seeing God. After Judaea is Israel. Wilt thou see God? First do thou confess, and then in thyself there is made a place for God; because "there hath been made in peace a place for Him." So long as then thou confessest not thy sins, in a manner thou art quarrelling with God. For how art thou not disputing with Him, who art praising that which displeaseth Him? He punisheth a thief, thou dost praise theft: He doth punish a drunken man, thou dost praise drunkenness. Thou art disputing with God, thou hast not made for Him a place in thy heart: because in peace is His place. And how dost thou begin to have peace with God? Thou beginnest with Him in confession. There is a voice of a Psalm, saying, "Begin ye to the Lord in confession."(6) What is, "Begin ye to the Lord in confession"? Begin ye to be joined to the Lord. In what manner? So that the same thing may displease you as displeaseth Him. There displeaseth Him thy evil life; if it please thyself, thou art disunited from Him; if it displease thee, through confession to Him thou art united. ...

4. "There He hath broken the strength of bows, and the shield, and the sword, and the battle" (verse 3). Where hath He broken? In that eternal peace, in that perfect peace. And now, my brethren, they that have rightly believed see that they ought not to rely on themselves: and all the might of their own menaces, and whatsoever is in them whetted for mischief, this they break in pieces; and whatsoever they deem of great virtue wherewith to protect themselves temporally, and the war which they were waging against God by defending their sins, all these things He hath broken there.

5. "Thou enlightening marvellously from the eternal mountains" (verse 4). What are the eternal mountains? Those which He hath Himself made eternal; which are the great mountains, the preachers of truth. Thou dost enlighten, but from the eternal mountains: the great mountains are first to receive Thy light, and from Thy light which the mountains receive, the earth also is clothed. But those great mountains the Apostles have received, the Apostles have received as it were the first streaks of the rising light. ... Wherefore also, in another place, a Psalm saith what? "I have lifted up mine eyes unto the mountains, whence there shall come help to me."(7) What then, in the mountains is thy hope, and from thence to thee shall there come help? Hast thou stayed at the mountains? Take heed what thou doest. There is something above the mountains: above the mountains is He at whom the mountains tremble. "I have lifted up," he saith, "mine eyes unto the mountains, whence there shall come help to me." But what followeth? "My help," he saith, "is from the Lord, who hath made Heaven and earth."(1) Unto the mountains indeed I have lifted up eyes, because through the mountains to me the Scriptures were displayed: but I have my heart in Him that doth enlighten all mountains. ...

6. "There have been troubled all the unwise in heart" (verse 5). ... How have they been troubled? When the Gospel is preached. And what is life eternal? And who is He that hath risen from the dead? The Athenians wondered, when the Apostle Paul spake of the resurrection of the dead, and thought that he spake but fables.(2) But because he said that there was another life which neither eye hath seen, nor ear heard, nor hath it gone up into the heart of man? therefore the unwise in heart were troubled. But what hath befallen them? "They have slept their sleep, and all men of riches have found nothing in their hands." They have loved things present, and have gone to sleep in the midst of things present: and so these very present things have become to them delightful: just as he that seeth in a dream himself to have found treasure, is so long rich as he waketh not. The dream hath made him rich, waking hath made him poor. Sleep perchance hath held him slumbering on the earth, and lying on the hard ground, poor and perchance a beggar; in sleep he hath seen himself to lie on an ivory or golden bed, and on feathers heaped up; so long as he is sleeping, he is sleeping well, waking he hath found himself on the hard ground, whereon sleep had taken him. Such men also are these too: they have come into this life, and through temporal desires, they have as it were slumbered here; and them riches, and vain pomps that fly away, have taken, and they have passed away: they have not understood how much of good might be done therewith. For if they had known of another life, there they would have laid up unto themselves the treasure which here was doomed to perish: like as Zacchaeus, the chief of the Publicans, saw that good(4) when he received the Lord Jesus in his house, and he saith, "The half of my goods I give to the poor, and if to any man I have done any wrong, fourfold I restore."(5) This man was not in the emptiness of men dreaming, but in the faith of men awake. ...

7. "By Thy chiding, O God of Jacob, there have slept all men that have mounted horses" (verse 6). Who are they that have mounted horses? They that would not be humble. To sit on horseback is no sin; but it is a sin to lift up the neck of power against God, and to deem one's self to be in some distinction. Because thou art rich, thou hast mounted; God doth chide, and thou sleepest. Great is the anger of Him chiding, great the anger. Let your Love observe the terrible thing. Chiding hath noise, the noise is wont to make men wake. So great is the force of God chiding, that he said, "By Thy chiding, O God of Jacob, there have slept all men that have mounted horses." Behold what a sleep that Pharaoh slept who mounted horses. For he was not awake in heart, because against chiding he had his heart hardened.(6) For hardness of heart is slumber. I ask you, my brethren, how they sleep, who, while the Gospel is sounding, and the Amen, and the Hallelujah, throughout the whole world, yet will not condemn their old life, and wake up unto a new life. There was the Scripture of God in Judaea only, now throughout the whole world it is sung. In that one nation one God who made all things was spoken of, as to be adored and worshipped; now where is He unsaid? Christ hath risen again, though derided on the Cross; that very Cross whereon He was derided, He hath now imprinted on the brows of kings: and men yet sleep. ...

8. "Thou art terrible, and who shall withstand Thee at that time by Thine anger?" (verse 7). Now they sleep, and perceive not Thee angry; but for cause that they should sleep, He was angry. Now that which sleeping they perceived not, at the end they shall perceive. For there shall appear the Judge of quick and dead. "And who shall withstand Thee at that time by Thine anger?" For now they speak that which they will, and they dispute against God and say, who are the Christians? or who is Christ? or what fools are they that believe that which they see not, and relinquish the pleasures which they see, and follow the faith of things which are not displayed to their eyes! Ye sleep and snore,(7) ye speak against God, as much as ye are able. "How long shall sinners, O Lord, how long shall sinners glory, they answer and will speak iniquity?"(8) But when doth no one answer and no one speak, except when he turneth himself(9) against himself? ...

9. "From Heaven Thou hast hurled judgment: the earth hath trembled, and hath rested" (verse 8). She which now doth trouble herself, she which now speaketh, hath to fear at the end and to rest. Better had she now rested, that at the end she might have rejoiced. Rested? When? "When God arose unto judgment, that He might save all the meek in heart" (verse 9). Who are the meek in heart? They that on snorting horses have not mounted, but in their humility have confessed their own sins. "For the thought of a man shall confess to Thee, and the remnants of the thought shall celebrate solemnities to Thee" (verse 10). The first is the thought, the latter are the remnants of the thought. What is the first thought? That from whence we begin, that good thought whence thou wilt begin to confess. Confession uniteth us to Christ. But now the confession itself, that is, the first thought, doth produce in us the remnants of the thought: and those very "remnants of thought shall celebrate solemnities to Thee." What is the thought which shall confess? That which condemneth the former life, that whereunto that which it was is displeasing, in order that it may be that which it was not, is itself the first thought. But because thus thou oughtest to withdraw from sins, with the first thought after having confessed to God, that it may not escape thy memory that thou hast been a sinner; in that thou hast been a sinner, thou dost celebrate solemnities to God. Furthermore it is to be understood as followeth. The first thought hath confession, and departure from the old life. But if thou shalt have forgotten from what sins thou hast been delivered, thou dost not render thanks to the Deliverer, and dost not celebrate solemnities to thy God. Behold the first confessing thought of Saul the Apostle, now Paul, who at first was Saul, when he heard a voice from Heaven! ... He put forth the first thought of obedience: when he heard, "I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest," "O Lord," he saith, "what dost Thou bid me to do?"(1) This is a thought confessing: now he is calling upon the Lord, whom he persecuted. In what manner the remnants of the thought shall celebrate solemnities, in the case of Paul ye have heard, when the Apostle himself was being read: "Be thou mindful that Christ Jesus hath risen from the dead, of the seed of David, after my Gospel."(2) What is, be thou mindful? Though effaced from thy memory be the thought, whereby at first thou hast confessed: be the remnant of the thought in the memory. ...

10. Even once was Christ sacrificed for(3) us, when we believed; then was thought; but now there are the remnants of thought, when we remember Who hath come to us, and what He hath forgiven us; by means of those very remnants of thought, that is, by means of the memory herself, He is daily so sacrificed for us,(4) as if He were daily renewing us, that hath renewed us by His first grace. For now the Lord hath renewed us in Baptism, and we have become new men, in hope indeed rejoicing, in order that in tribulation we may be patient(5) nevertheless, there ought not to escape from our memory that which hath been bestowed upon us. And if now thy thought is not what it was,--for the first thought was to depart from sin: but now thou dost not depart, but at that time didst depart,--be there remnants of thought, test He who hath made whole escape from memory. ...

11. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God" (verse 11). Let each man vow what he is able, and pay it. Do not vow and not pay: but let every man vow, and pay what he can. Be ye not slow to vow: for ye will accomplish the vows by powers not your own. Ye will fail, if on yourselves ye rely: but if on Him to whom ye vow ye rely, ye will be safe to pay. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God." What ought we all in common to vow? To believe in Him, to hope from Him for life eternal, to live godly according to a measure common to all. For there is a certain measure common to all men. To commit no theft is not a thing enjoined merely upon one devoted to continence,(6) and not enjoined upon the married woman: to commit no adultery is enjoined upon all men: not to love wine-bibbing, whereby the soul is swallowed up, and doth corrupt in herself the Temple of God, is enjoined to all alike: not to be proud, is enjoined to all men alike: not to slay man, not to hate a brother, not to lay a plot to destroy any one, is enjoined to all in common. The whole of this we all ought to vow. There are also vows proper for individuals: one voweth to God conjugal chastity, that he will know no other woman besides his wife:(7) so also the woman, that she will know no other man besides her husband. Other men also vow, even though they have used such a marriage, that beyond this they will have no such thing, that they will neither desire nor admit the like: and these men have vowed a greater vow than the former. Others vow even virginity from the beginning of life, that they will even know no such thing as those who having experienced have relinquished: and these men have vowed the greatest vow. Others vow that their house shall be a place of entertainment for all the Saints that may come: a great vow they vow. Another voweth to relinquish all his goods to be distributed to the poor, and go into a community, into a society of the Saints: a great vow he doth vow. "Vow ye, and pay to the Lord our God." Let each one vow what he shall have willed to vow; let him give heed to this, that he pay what he hath vowed. If any man doth look back with regard to what he hath vowed to God, it is an evil. Some woman or other devoted to continence hath willed to marry: what hath she willed? The same as any virgin. What hath she willed? The same as her own mother. Hath she willed any evil thing? Evil certainly. Why? Because already she had vowed to the Lord her God. For what hath the apostle Paul said concerning such? Though he saith that young widows may marry if they will:(1) nevertheless he saith in a certain passage, "but more blessed she will be, if so she shall have remained, after my judgment."(2) He showeth that she is more blessed, if so she shall have remained; but nevertheless that she is not to be condemned, if she shall have willed to marry. But what saith he concerning certain who have vowed and have not paid? "Having," he saith, "judgment, because the first faith they have made void."(3) What is, "the first faith they have made void"? They have vowed, and have not paid. Let no brother therefore, when placed in a monastery, say, I shall depart from the monastery: for neither are they only that are in a monastery to attain unto the kingdom of Heaven, nor do those that are not there not belong unto God. We answer him, but they have not vowed; thou hast vowed, thou hast looked back. When the Lord was threatening them with the day of judgment, He saith what? "Remember Lot's wife."(4) To all men He spake. For what did Lot's wife? She was delivered from Sodom, and being in the way she looked back. In the place where she looked back, there she remained. For she became a statue of salt,(5) in order that by considering her men might be seasoned, might have sense, might not be infatuated, might not look back, lest by giving a bad example they should themselves remain and season others. For even now we are saying this to certain of our brethren, whom perchance we may have seen as it were weak in the good they have purposed. And wilt thou be such an one as he was? We put before them certain who have looked back. They are savourless(6) in themselves, but they season others, inasmuch as they are mentioned, in order that fearing their example they may not look back. "Vow ye, and pay." For that wife of Lot to all doth belong. A married woman hath had the will to commit adultery; from her place whither she had arrived she looked back. A widow who had vowed so to remain hath willed to marry, she hath willed the thing which was lawful to her who hath married, but to herself was not lawful, because from her place she hath looked back. There is a virgin devoted to continence, already dedicated to God; let her have(7) also the other gifts which truly do adorn virginity itself, and without which that virginity is unclean. For what if she be uncorrupt in body and corrupt in mind? What is it that he hath said? What if no one hath touched the body, but if perchance she be drunken, be proud, be contentious, be talkative? All these things God doth condemn. If before she had vowed, she had married, she would not have been condemned: she hath chosen something better, hath overcome that which was lawful for her; she is proud, and doth commit so many things unlawful. This I say, it is lawful for her to marry before that she voweth, to be proud is never lawful. O thou virgin of God, thou hast willed not to marry, which is lawful: thou dost exalt thyself, which is not lawful. Better is a virgin humble, than a married woman humble: but better is a married woman humble, than a virgin proud. But she that looked back upon marriage is condemned, not because she hath willed to marry; but because she had already gone before, and is become the wife of Lot by looking back. Be ye not slow, that are able, whom God doth inspire to seize upon higher callings: for we do not say these things in order that ye may not vow, but in order that ye may vow and may pay. Now because we have treated of these matters, thou perchance wast willing to vow, and now art not willing to vow. But observe what the Psalm hath said to thee. It hath not said, "Vow not;" but, "Vow and pay." Because thou hast heard, "pay," wilt thou not vow? Therefore wast thou willing to vow, and not to pay? Nay, do both. One thing is done by thy profession, another thing will be perfected by the aid of God. Look to Him who doth guide thee, and thou wilt not look back to the place whence He is leading thee forth. He that guideth thee is walking before thee; the place from whence He is guiding thee is behind thee. Love Him guiding, and He doth not condemn thee looking back)

12. "All they that are in the circuit of Him shall offer gifts." Who are in the circuit of Him? ... Whatever is common to all is in the midst. Why is it said to be in the midst? Because it is at the same distance from all, and at the same proximity to all. That which is not in the middle, is as it were private. That which is public is set in the middle, in order that all they that come may use the same, may be enlightened. Let no one say, it is mine: test he should be wanting to make his own share of that which is in the midst for all. What then is, "All they that are in the circuit of Him shall offer gifts"? All they that understand truth to be common to all, and who do not make it as it were their own by being proud concerning it, they shall offer gifts; because they have humility: but they that make as it were their own that which is common to all, as though it were set in the middle, are endeavouring to lead men astray to a party, these shall not offer gifts. ... "To Him terrible." Let therefore all men fear that are in the circuit of Him. For therefore they shall fear, and with trembling they shall praise; because they are in the circuit of Him, to the end that all men may attain unto Him, and He may openly meet all, and openly enlighten all. This is, to stand in awe with others.(1) When thou hast made him as it were thine own, and no longer common, thou art exalted unto pride; though it is written, "Serve ye the Lord in fear, and exult unto Him with trembling."(2) Therefore they shall offer gifts, who are in the circuit of Him. For they are humble who know truth to be common to all.

13. To whom shall they offer gifts? "To Him terrible, and to Him that taketh away the spirit of princes" (verse 12). For the spirits of princes are proud spirits. They then are not His Spirits; for if they know anything, their own they will it to be, not public; but, that which setteth Himself forth as equal toward all men, that setteth Himself in the midst, in order that all men may take as much as they can, whatever they can; not of what is any man's, but of what is God's, and therefore of their own because they have become His. Therefore they must needs be humble: they have lost their own spirit, and they have the Spirit of God. ... For if thou shalt have confessed thyself dust, God out of dust doth make(3) man. All they that are in the circuit of Him do offer gifts. All humble men do confess to Him, and do adore Him. "To Him terrible they offer gifts." Whence to Him terrible exult ye with trembling:(2) "and to Him that taketh away the spirit of princes:" that is, that taketh away the haughtiness of proud men. "To Him terrible among the kings of the earth." Terrible are the kings of the earth, but He is above all, that doth terrify the kings of the earth. Be thou a king of the earth, and God will be to thee terrible. How, wilt thou say, shall I be a king of the earth? Rule the earth, and thou wilt be a king of the earth. Do not therefore with desire of empire set before thine eyes exceeding wide provinces, where thou mayest spread abroad thy kingdoms; rule thou the earth which thou bearest. Hear the Apostle ruling the earth: "I do not so fight as if beating air, but I chasten my body, and bring it into captivity, lest perchance preaching to other men, I myself become a reprobate."(4) ...

Augustin on Psalms 75