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Wherein is contained a short exposition, moral and typical, of the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the book of Job.




1.  This is found to be a peculiar way with the wicked, viz. to urge their own bad points slanderously against the good, before they are themselves truly accused of them; and while they dread to be reproached for the things which they do, they testify that the righteous who withstand their wickednesses commit the same.  Now holy men hear with forbearance, even what they never remember to have done, although those wrong things which they see to be urged against themselves, they know to be committed by their very accusers; and when they cannot correct them by preaching, they suffer them by submitting to the evil, that if they cannot attain the fruit of their conversion, they may at least-win by those very persons the reward of long endurance.  Hence Holy Church says in the words of the Prophet David, sinners have plowed upon my back, in that whilst she puts up with heretics, or lost persons of any kind, whom she is not able to correct, she bears upon her back the deeds of those that commit iniquity.  Thus blessed Job, seeing Eliphaz his friend making much complaint against him out of hypocrisy, in that from words of comfort he had broken out into bitterness of upbraiding, and shewed himself a feigned comforter, does by his own patience maintain a type of the Church, which is wont to endure such things in hearing them, and when her discourse is received, by reasoning to bring them to nought; and he says,

Ver. 2.  I have heard many such things. 




2.  For the Elect often hear the wrong things of others, as if they belonged to themselves, and guilt is charged upon them by those, by whom the charges so fastened on them are done.  Now by this reply, blessed Job denotes that season of the Church, when, under oppression from her adversaries, she is looked upon as cast to the ground by their temporal power.  Whence it follows; burthensome comforters are ye all.  Whether they be heretics, or whether any of the wicked, when they see the good travailing in adversity, herein that they aim to console them, they endeavour to prompt wrong things to their minds.  Whence not without reason their consoling is rendered burthensome to the mind of good men, in that amongst words of sweetness, they are bent to proffer the poison of error, and whilst in seeming they lighten their griefs by soothing words, they are in haste to put upon them a load of sin.  But Elect persons, even when they are bereft of temporal glory, do not lose the forcibleness of interior judgment.  For they are taught both to endure crosses without, and yet unimpaired within to uphold what is right without being daunted.  Whence it is added,

Ver.3.  Shall windy words have an end?




3.  For those are ‘windy words,’ which serve the end of temporal inflating, rather than the end of righteousness.  Now oftentimes the wicked speak even good things, but because they do not say them well, they are putting forth ‘windy words:’ for their words, even if they be at any time sound in the sentence, are yet blown out in self-elation.  But in this that is said, viz. burthensome comforters are ye all; what else are we taught by the tutorage of blessed Job, but that everyone should learn to look to it heedfully, that in the season of sorrow he never urge words of upbraiding?  For if there be some points which might be justly found fault with in time of distress, they ought to be put aside, lest the comforter by rebuking heighten the sorrow, which he had it in view to alleviate.  It goes on;

Or is there any thing troublesome to thee, if Thou speakest?




4.  When bad men utter abusive words to those that are like to themselves, they are the more quickly silenced, in proportion as they in a moment hear concerning themselves the like to what they say to their hearers.  But when they assail good men by words of contumely, nought of annoyance is occasioned them by their abuse, in, that they speak against those that hold their peace, nor are made to hear what they are, seeing that the righteous never return abuse, even when they are made to bear what they are not.  And so it is well said, Or is there any thing troublesome to thee if thou speakest?  As if it were said in plain words to him; ‘Thou speakest the more, that thou hearest not from me any thing unpleasant concerning the conduct.’  Hence it is added, I also could speak as ye do.  The just man tells what he had the power to do, but lest he should depart from righteousness, he forbears what he might have done.  It goes on;

Ver. 4-6.  And O that your soul were for my soul!  I too would comfort you with speeches, and move my head over you: I would strengthen you with my mouth, and move my lips as if sparing you.




5.  It is sometimes necessary that wicked minds, which are incapable of being corrected by man’s preaching, should have the strokes of God wished for them, in a spirit of kindness; and while this is done with great earnestness of love, then plainly not the punishment but the correction of the guilty person is the thing aimed at, and it is shewn to be a prayer rather than a curse.  And in these words blessed Job is shewn to aim at this, that the friends, who knew not how to sympathize in his grief through charity, might learn by experience how they ought to have pitied the affliction of another, and, being subdued by griefs might draw from their own suffering, how to minister consolation to others, and then live the more healthfully within, when they are made sensible of something of frailty without.  Observe that he does not say, O that my soul were for your soul; but, O that your soul were for my soul; in that he would have been cursing himself, if he had wished himself to be made like to them; but it was for them he wished better things in that he sought they should be made like to himself.  Now we ‘comfort’ bad men, placed under the rod, when we point out that by the exterior infliction the interior health is established within them.  Moreover, we ‘move our head,’ when the mind, which is our leading part, we bend to sympathy; and we ‘strengthen’ these in the midst of strokes of affliction, when we soothe the force of their grief with gentle words; for there are some persons, who, forasmuch as they know nothing of the things of the interior, are overwhelmed with despair by external afflictions; of whom it is said, by the Psalmist, They shall not hold up in afflictions; [Ps. 140, 10] for he is well instructed to holdup in outward afflictions, who knows how to exult always in the hope that belongs to the interior.


6.  But whereas he says, not, ‘sparing,’ but, as if sparing you; I think that this point ought not to be passed by carelessly, in that Holy Church, while keeping vigorousness of discipline together with an union of gentleness, sometimes even while ‘as if sparing,’ is far from sparing the wicked, but sometimes, when ‘as if not sparing’ does spare them; which we shall exhibit the more effectually, if we bring forward the very things themselves which are not unfrequently happening.  So then let us place before the eyes of the imagination, two bad men set within the pale of Holy Church, of whom let the one be powerful and insolent, and the other mild and under government.  If a fault has stolen upon the one that is gentle and under government, the preacher directly, by rebuking the thing follows hard upon him, and corrects him; and by correcting frees him from guilt, and resets him again in the way of righteousness.  What did he then to this man, but spare in sparing not?  in that, forasmuch as he did not hold back the word of correction, he the more speedily set him free from sin.  For in freely charging him home, he did not spare him; but in this respect, that he rebuked him, he did spare him.  But on the other hand, the powerful and insolent man, when he is discovered to have been guilty of any thing, there is an opportunity sought, in order that he may be rebuked for the evil he has committed.  For except the preacher wait till such time as he may be able to bear correction in a proper way, he increases in him the evil that he is prosecuting.  For it is very often the case that he is of such a character as to receive no words of rebuke.  What then is the preacher to do in the case of the sin of this person, but that in the charge of admonition, which he makes for the general wellbeing of all his hearers, he should bring forward such fault, as he sees that he has been guilty of, who is by, and cannot as yet be charged on his own account individually, lest he be rendered worse?  and while invective in general is aimed against the fault, the word of rebuke is readily brought home to the mind, in that the powerful bad man does not know that it is delivered against himself in particular.  What then did his preacher to this person, but in sparing not spare?  against whom he at once brought not words of rebuke with any special reference, and yet hit his wound under a general admonition; and hence it is very often brought to pass that he bewails the sin committed so much the more bitterly, in proportion as even when he feels himself struck, he supposes his guilt not to be known.


7.  Therefore it must be managed with wonderful art in preaching that those who are made worse by open rebuke, may by a certain abatement of rebuke be brought to a state of saving health.  Whence too Paul saith, And those members of the body which we think to be less honourable, upon those we bestow more abundant honour, and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; for our comely parts have no need. [1 Cor. 12, 23. 24.]  For as there are uncomely members in the body, so there are persons within the bosom of Holy Church, powerful and insolent, who, whereas they do not admit of being stricken with open upbraiding, are as it were cloked with the respectfulness of a covering.  But this we speak of the secret transgressions of the powerful; for when they sin and others know of it, they are also to be rebuked, and others should know of it; lest, if the preacher hold his peace, he seem to have sanctioned the sin, and this which the tongue of the pastor does not cut off, going on increasing, should come to be an example.  Thus while Holy Church by her preachers rebukes particular deeds of wicked men under the covert conveyance of a general reproof, she ‘moves her lips, as if sparing;’ but yet while sparing spareth not, in that she does not in general hold her peace to the reproving of a fault, which in the special case she does.  It goes on;

Ver. 7.  But what am I to do?  Though I speak, my grief is not assuaged; and though I forbear, it will not depart from me.


[vi]                        [ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION]


8.  How this accords with the person of blessed Job, there is no one that is ignorant; but if it be drawn into a type of Holy Church, she both when she speaks ‘has not her grief assuaged,’ since she does not see the wicked amended by her speaking; and ‘when she holds her peace, her grief does not depart from her;’ in that though she turns away and holds her peace, this very circumstance of her being silent she laments the more, in that while she is silent, she sees the sin of the wicked grow to a height: It proceeds;

Ver. 8.  But now my grief has oppressed me, and my limbs are brought to nought.




9.  Holy Church is oppressed by her grief, when she beholds the wicked grow to a height in their wickedness; and whereas while the wicked increase, the weak too that are in her are set on to follow the bents of wickedness, it is rightly added, And all my limbs are brought to nought.  For as the strong by ‘bones,’ so by ‘limbs’ the weak sort are wont to be denoted, and so ‘the members of the Church are brought to nought,’ when by the imitating of the wicked that are increased in this world, all the weak are worse weakened.  For on seeing the prosperity of the wicked, they often slide away from their very stand in faith itself, they seek after temporal good things, and are in a manner ‘brought to nought;’ in that while they abandon the Being of God that is lasting, loving things that are transitory, they are, as it were, on their way to be not.  And it is well said, But now my grief has oppressed me; in that the season of the grief of the Church is now, and the time of her joy shall follow hereafter.  Now it often happens that Holy Church not only meets with unbelievers and those without her borders as her adversaries, but with difficulty bears with the plots and opposition of those too, whom she has within her.  Whence it is fitly said directly by the voice of the blessed man;

Ver. 10.  My wrinkles speak a testimony against me.




10.  What is denoted by ‘wrinkles,’ but doubledealing?  and so all they are wrinkles of Holy Church, who therein live in doubledealing, who avouch the faith with their voices, disown it by their works.  These persons doubtless in time of peace, because they see that with the powers of this world that faith is an honour, falsely feign themselves of the number of believers; but when a sudden storm of adversity disquiets Holy Church, they thereupon shew what they are going after in their heart of unbelief.  Now these ‘wrinkles’ Holy Church has not in her Elect, in that they have not the art to shew one thing in themselves on the outside, and to hold another withinside.  Whence the great Preacher says truly, That He might present it to Himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle. [Eph. 5, 27]  For she ‘has not spot or wrinkle,’ in that she is without both foulness of practice, and doubleness of tongue; but because now she holds within the bosom of the faith numbers even of the children of perdition, when the time of persecution blazes out, she bears those very persons for her enemies, whom she seemed before to be nourishing with words of preaching.  Therefore let her say, My wrinkles speak a testimony against me; i.e. those very persons, while they persecute, inveigh against me, who now, being fixed in my body, do not mind in themselves the wickedness  of their doubledealing.  Whence it is rightly added yet further;

And the liar is lifted up against my face, gainsaying me.




11.  Even in her time of peace Holy Church is subject to the ‘liar,’ in that there are numbers in her, who disbelieve in the promise of eternal life, and yet falsely feign themselves to be of the faithful.  And as they do not dare openly to gainsay her preaching, she is exposed to the liar, not, as it were, ‘before her face,’ but behind her back; but when the time of wickedness breaks out, he who now disparages being full of apprehension, comes ‘before the face to gainsay,’ in that he withstands by open sentences of the voice the words of true faith.  But it is to be known that when we meet with such things at the hands of carnal men, it is not so much they individually that rage cruelly in our death, as the evil spirit who rules their minds, as it is said by Paul, For we wrestle not against flesh and blood; but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world. [Eph. 6, 12]  Whence, whereas here also he is speaking of lying [A.B.D. ‘the liar’], with propriety he turns his words directly to tell of the prince of that lying, and says;

Ver. 9.  He gathered his fury against me; and threatening me he gnashed against me with his teeth; mine enemy looked on me with terrible eyes.




12.  What else are all wicked men but members of the devil?  Therefore he himself does by them, whatever he puts it into their hearts that they ought to do.  For the devil even now entertains fury against Holy Church, but his fury is scattered, in that he sets afoot his secret temptations through the agency of individuals; but when he bursts out against her in open persecution, ‘he gathers his fury against her,’ in that in the afflicting of her he knits up himself with the entire bent of his efforts.  But his members in this time of peace have not ‘fury gathered’ against the Elect in this way, because they feel that they have less power to fulfil their wickedness than they have will; but when they see full range of wickedness at their command, they smite at her the more boldly, in proportion as they are drawn to a head against her in unanimity.  And so it is rightly said now; He gathered up his fury against me.  And that his fury might be still more fully set forth, it is said, And threatening me, he gnashed upon me with his teeth.  Of whom too it is added, mine enemy looked on me with terrible eyes.  For that ancient enemy of the Church ‘gnashes against her with the teeth,’ and ‘looks on her with terrible eyes,’ in that he executes cruelties by one set, and by another provides cruelties to execute.


13.  For ‘the teeth’ of this enemy are the persecutors and executioners of the good who mangle her members, while they distress her elect ones by their persecutions.  But the ‘eyes’ of this enemy are those, that provide measures to her hurt, which they may put in practice, and by their counsels light up the cruelties of her persecutors.  Thus her old enemy ‘gnashes upon her with his teeth,’ so long as by the cruel children of perdition in her he hunts down the life of good men within her.  He ‘looks on her with terrible eyes;’ in that, by the counsels of bad men, he never ceases to make out schemes of mischief, by which he may torment her even worse and worse; for as Incarnate ‘Truth’ in His preaching chose poor common persons and simple men, so on the other hand that accursed man, whom the Apostate Angel will take on him at the end of the world, shall choose for the preaching of his falsity, the cunning and doubleminded, and such as have this world’s knowledge.  Hence it is said by Isaiah, Woe to the land, the cymbal of wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia.  Which sendeth ambassadors by the sea even in vessels of papyrus upon the waters.  For the land, that has woe pronounced against it, is principally that accursed man, who is called a ‘cymbal of wings,’ in that they who in pride soar up into the height of imagination, by preaching sound forth that man of iniquity.  Which same land is rightly described as being ‘beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,’ for Ethiopia sends forth a black people, and whereas this world brings forth every man a sinner, Ethiopia as it were bears a black people.  And the land that has woe pronounced against it, is described as being ‘beyond the rivers of Ethiopia,’ in that that accursed man is so exceedingly and beyond all measure bad, that he goes beyond the sins of all that commit iniquity; and he ‘sends ambassadors by the sea,’ in that he spreads his preachers over the world; and it is rightly told of them how they are sent, when it said, in vessels of papyrus upon the waters, for from the ‘papyrus’ paper is made.  What then is denoted by the ‘papyrus’ but secular knowledge?  and so the vessels of papyrus are the hearts of the learned of the world.  Therefore ‘to send ambassadors upon the waters in vessels of papyrus,’ is to put the preaching of him in the brains of the carnally wise, and to call the people running out into sin.  Those very persons then who are there denoted by ‘vessels of papyrus,’ here, in that they see with a carnal sight, are denoted by ‘eyes.’  Of whom it is yet further added;

Ver. 10.  They have gaped upon me with their mouth, reproaching me.




14.  Lost sinners open their mouths ‘in reproaching,’ when they at once do not fear to proclaim the mischiefs of their errors, and laugh to scorn the announcements of the right faith: with regard to whom be it known that they chiefly prosecute those in Holy Church, whom they see likely to be of service to many, who bruise the life of the carnal by the word of correction, and change them spiritually into the body of the Church.  Hence it is added;

They have smitten me upon the cheek; they have taken their fill of my punishments.




15.  For ‘the cheek’ of the Church, are the holy preachers, as where it is said under the figure of Judaea, by Jeremiah, She weepeth sore in the night, and the tears are on her cheeks. [Lam. 1, 2]  For in the adversities of the Church those mourn the most, who are used to crush the life of the carnal by preaching; for by these very persons Holy Church breaks and bruises the wicked to bad habits, and as it were swallowing them converts them into members of herself.  Hence it is said to the first preacher himself too, as to a ‘cheek’ of the Church, Kill and eat [Acts 10, 13].  It is hence too that Samson laid hold of the jawbone of an ass, and destroyed his enemies [Judges 15, 16]; in that our Redeemer, with the Hand of His power laying hold of the simplicity and submissiveness of these that preach, killed the carnal to their bad habits.  And the jawbone thrown down upon the earth, afterwards poured out water, in that the bodies of the preachers given over to death, shewed great miracles to the people.  So the wicked ‘smite the cheek’ of Holy Church, when they persecute good preachers; and whereas lost sinners thus reckon themselves to have done something great, when they do put an end to the life of the preachers; after the striking of ‘the cheek,’ it is properly added, They have taken their fill of my punishments, for that punishment does fill them to satisfaction, which chastises the mind of the Church in an especial manner.  It goes on;

Ver. 12.  God hath shut me up with the ungodly, and turned me over into the hands of the wicked.




16.  The people of the Elect is ‘shut up with the ungodly man,’ when its flesh is given up in this present time to the persecutions of our old adversary; and it is ‘turned over,’ not to the spirit, but ‘the hands of the wicked;’ in that in proportion as they cannot take it captive in mind, they are the more pitilessly inflamed against the flesh thereof.  But the People of Holy Church, when it begins to suffer adversities to an extreme degree, and sees the weak ones in her going off to worse and worse, recalls to mind the times of her peace, when she fed her faithful children with the richness of her preaching.  Hence it is fitly added;

Ver. 13.  I, the same that was once rich, am crushed on a sudden.




17.  Herein, viz. that he declared himself to be ‘crushed on a sudden,’ he denoted the unguarded mind of weak persons: who, whilst they are not skilled to foresee the evils which are destined to come, find them more severe in proportion as they also undergo them contrary to expectation.  But to stedfast minds adversities do not come on a sudden, in that they are foreseen before they come.  And this Holy Church too does now undergo in certain backsliding people, who, after the richness of instruction, are sometimes so crushed by sudden assaults of evil, that they fall as deeply in certain wicked practices, as if they had never been vouchsafed the food of the word.  It proceeds;

He hath held my neck, and broken me in two, and set me up for His mark.




18.  As in evil the ‘neck’ denotes pride, so in good it denotes the lifting up in freedom; whence it is sometimes the case that ‘pride’ itself is also put for the authority belonging to that lifting up; as when the Lord says by way of promise to Holy Church by the Prophet, I will set thee for the pride of ages. [Is. 60, 15]  And because in time of persecution some that are weak do not dare to preach with freedom the truths they have a sense of, it is rightly said of this enemy, He hath held my neck, and broken me in two.  But perchance those are denoted by the appellation of ‘neck,’ who, in the season of her peace, are lifted up more than befits, and by occasion of defending the cause of right minister to the evil of self-exalting; which same in time of persecution feel adversity the more sensibly on this account, that they are elevated by prosperity.  Concerning whom it is rightly said, He hath held my neck, and broken me in two; i.e. the pride which she had in her weak members, He bowed down by the severity of His smiting.  And set me up for His mark.  It is known that ‘a mark’ is for this reason ‘set up,’ that it may be hit by the sending of the arrow.  And so the faithful people is ‘set as a mark’ to its enemy, in that he is ever assaulting it with his blows and afflicting it with his persecutions: for he that undergoes perpetual ills in this life, as if set for a mark, receives blows from one striking him; and hence the great Preacher, when he was suffering the ills of persecution, and groaning beneath the persecuting efforts of his enemies, to comfort the tender soul of the disciples touching his troubles, says, For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto. [1 Thess. 3, 3]  As if be said to them in plain words; ‘Wherefore at this season do ye wonder at my wounds, when, if we seek the joys of the eternal world, we have come hither for this, even to be stricken?’  It proceeds;

Ver. 13.  He hath compassed me about with His lances, He hath wounded my loins together, He hath not spared, and He hath poured out my bowels upon the ground.


[xvi]                     [MORAL INTERPRETATION]


19.  These particulars would seem to accord with blessed Job after the letter, in that it is said, He hath compassed me with His lances, He hath wounded my loins together, He hath not spared; if that were not added, which is not read as written about him, he hath poured out my bowels upon the ground.  From which circumstance it follows, that whereas we cannot find this after the letter, we should investigate after the spirit those points, which in his words sound as of the fact of history.  Holy Church is ‘beset with lances’ by her enemy, whensoever she is in her members assaulted by the cunning assailant with the darts of temptation; and it is well said that we are ‘encompassed with lances,’ in that our old enemy assails us on every side with the wounding of temptation.  Thus oftentimes whilst the appetite is restrained, that lust may be brought under, the dart of vainglory strikes the mind; but if the body is not worn down by the infliction of abstinence, the flame of lust kindles itself against the soul: often whilst we strive to observe economy, we fall into stinginess; and often whilst we give profusely the things we possess, we are led into avarice, in that we seek to make up again what we may have to give.  Whereas then the darts of the old enemy assail us in every direction, it is rightly said now, he hath compassed me about with his lances.  And because, in the case of every sin, the crafty enemy indeed recommends it, but we by consenting to his recommendations execute it, it is fitly subjoined, he hath wounded my loins together, for in the loins lust is seated.  Hence he who desired to eradicate the delight of lust from the heart, preached the words, Gird up the loins of your mind. [1 Pet. 1, 13]  And so when our old enemy draws the faithful people into lust, surely he smites that people ‘in the loins;’ in which place it is deserving of observation, that he does not say ‘he has wounded [‘vulneravit’ ‘convulneravit’],’ but, he hath wounded my loins together.  For as to talk is sometimes an act of one person, but to ‘talk together’ of two or perhaps of many, so our old enemy, in that he does not hurry us into sin without our own will, is never said ‘to wound our loins,’ but, ‘to wound our loins together:’ in that what he prompts us amiss we fulfil by following of our own will; and, as it were, ‘wound ourselves together’ in unity with him, because we are at the same time led to commit the evil deed of free will.  It goes on; he hath not spared; as if he said, ‘he hath not ceased;’ and he hath poured out my bowels upon the ground.  What else are we to understand by ‘the bowels’ of Holy Church, save the minds of those who contain in themselves certain of her mysteries, who are devoted to the interior Sacraments?  But our old adversary, when he draws over to secular concerns any of the faithful, who appeared to be devoted to the interior sacraments, does, surely, ‘pour out her bowels upon the ground;’ in that he treads those down in things below, who were before buried from sight in secret and spiritual practices.  It goes on;

Ver. 14.  He hath broken me with breach upon breach.


[xvii]                                  [ALLEGORICAL INTERPRETATION]


20.  In her weak members Holy Church is ‘broken with breach upon breach,’ when sin is added to sin, that transgression should be brought to a more dreadful pitch.  Thus for him, whom avarice forces to robbery and robbery leads into deceit, so that the sin committed is further defended by falsehood, how else is it with this man, but that he is broken with breach upon breach?  When too it is well said by the Prophet; Cursing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, adultery, have overflowed, and blood toucheth blood.  [Hos. 4, 2]  For by the title of ‘blood’ sin is used to be denoted; whence one who longs to be set free from sin exclaims in penitence, Deliver me from blood [sanguinibus]. [Ps. 51, 14]  So ‘blood toucheth blood,’ when sin has heaped on sin; and whereas when breach is added to breach, the powers of our old enemy are the more terribly increased against us, it is rightly added;

He runneth upon me like a giant.




21.  The enemy is easy to be resisted, if he is not consented to, whether in many backslidings, or in one for a continuance.  But if the soul has been accustomed to submit to his persuasions, the oftener it subjects itself to him, it makes him the harder to itself to bear, so that it has not the power to struggle against him; in that our wicked adversary, ‘like a giant,’ fights against it, when it is vanquished by bad habit: yet very often Holy Church, even after sins have been committed, brings back the minds of the faithful to penitence, and cleanses away the sins of practice by the efficacy of a voluntary self-chastening.  Whence it is well added;

Ver. 15.  I have sewed sackcloth upon my skin, and covered my flesh with ashes.




22.  What ought to be understood by ‘sackcloth and ashes,’ but penance; what by ‘the skin’ and ‘the flesh,’ but sin of the flesh?  And so whereas there are persons who after the backsliding of the flesh are brought back to penance, it is as if ‘sackcloth were sewn upon the skin,’ and ‘the flesh covered with ashes;’ because the guilt of the flesh is ‘covered with ashes’ by penance, that it should not be seen for its avenging in the inquest of the strict Judge.  But Holy Church, when she withdraws her weak members from sins, and conducts them to the remedy of penance, these she surely aids with her tears, that they may recover strength to receive the grace of their Maker, and in the strong she bewails what she has not done, which yet in her weak members she has as it were done herself.  Hence it is well added yet further;

Ver. 16.  My face is swelled with weeping.




23.  For ‘the face’ of Holy Church are those, who being set in posts or governorships appear the foremost, that in their goodly appearance should be the honour of the faithful people, even if there were aught deformed in the body hidden from sight.  Which same persons that are set over the people bewail the sins of those that go weakly, and so chasten themselves for the downfall of others as if for their own.  And often when they see some returning to pardon after sin, and others persisting in wickedness, they marvel at the secret counsels of Almighty God, but cannot fathom them.  For they are dumb at the things which they do not understand.  And hence it is fitly added;

And mine eyelids have become darkened.




24.  For they are rightly entitled ‘eyelids,’ who are on their watch for the fore-ensuring the paths of the feet; but when not even the rulers on the watch can understand the secret judgments of God, ‘the eyelids’ of Holy Church are ‘darkened;’ but, as I remember that I have already often said, blessed Job, while bearing a type of Holy Church, uses at one time the voice of the body, and at another time the voice of the Head; and while he is speaking of her members, he is raised on a sudden to speak the words of her Head.  Whence here too it is added;

Ver. 17.  I have suffered this without the wickedness of mine hand, whilst I made pure prayers to God.




25.  He suffered without the wickedness of His hand; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth, [1 Pet. 2, 22] and yet endured the pain of the Cross for our redemption.  Who only above all others ‘made pure prayers to God,’ in that even in the very anguish of His Passion He prayed in behalf of His persecutors, saying, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. [Luke 23, 24]  For what can be described, what can be conceived more pure in prayer, than when the mercifulness of intercession is vouchsafed even those, from whose hands pain is undergone?  Whence it was brought to pass, that that Blood of our Redeemer, which His persecutors in raging had spilt, afterwards in believing they drank, and proclaimed Him to be the Son of God.  Concerning which same Blood it is fitly subjoined;

Ver. 18.  O earth, cover thou not my blood; and let my cry find no place to lie hid in thee.




26.  It was said to man on his committing sin, Earth thou art, and unto earth shalt thou return; [Gen. 3, 19] and this ‘earth’ does not ‘cover the blood’ of our Redeemer: in that each several sinner taking to himself the price of his redemption makes confession and sings praise, and publishes it to all of his neighbours that he is able.  Moreover, ‘earth did not cover His blood,’ in that Holy Church has now preached the mystery of His redemption in all parts of the world.  And observe what is added: And let my cry find no place to lie hid in thee.  For the very blood of redemption that is taken is itself ‘the cry’ of our Redeemer.  Hence Paul too says, And to the Blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better than that of Abel. [Heb. 12, 24]  It had been said of the blood of Abel; The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground. [Gen. 4, 10]  But ‘the Blood of Jesus speaketh better things than the blood of Abel,’ because the blood of Abel brought the death of his fratricidal brother, but the blood of the Lord won life for His persecutors.  So then that the Sacraments of our Lord’s Passion may not be ineffectual in us, we are bound to imitate that which we take, and to preach to others what we adore.  For ‘His cry does find a place to lie hid in us,’ if what the mind has been brought to believe the tongue is silent about.  But that His cry may not lie hid in us, it remains that each one of us according to his small measure should make known to his neighbours the mystery of his own quickening.  It is good to recall the eyes of the interior to the hour of the Lord’s Passion, when the Jews raged against Him in persecution, and the Disciples fled from Him in alarm.  For He that appeared to die in the flesh was not in any wise believed to be God.  Hence it is properly added in this place,

Ver. 19.  Also, now, behold my witness is in heaven, and my heart’s associate [‘conscius meus’ lit. ‘my accomplice,’ ‘he who knows my mind’] is on high.




27.  For when the Son was brought to His downfall on earth, there was a witness to Him in heaven.  Since the Father is the witness of the Son; concerning Whom He Himself saith in the Gospel, And the Father Himself, Which hath sent Me, hath borne witness of Me. [John 5, 37]  Who is also rightly called ‘mine heart’s associate,’ in that with one will, and with one counsel, the Father acts always in union with the Son.  Whose witness too He is, in that no man knoweth the Son but the Father. [Matt. 11, 27]  Thus He had then ‘a witness in heaven,’ and His ‘heart’s associate’ on high, when they, who saw Him dying in the flesh, had their eyes closed to see the power of His Divine nature; and whereas men did not know, yet in the hour of death the Mediator between God and man did know, that the Father was working together with Himself.  Which perhaps may be likewise applied to the voice of His Body.  For Holy Church for this reason undergoes the miseries of this life, that the grace above may lead her on her way to the rewards of eternity.  She slights the death of her flesh, because she is intent on the glory of the resurrection; and what she suffers is transitory, what she expects everlasting, concerning which same everlasting blessings she has no misgiving, in that she has already a faithful testimony in the glory of her Redeemer.  For she sees with the mind the resurrection of His flesh, and is strongly fortified to have hope, in that what she sees already brought to pass in her Head, she hopes without doubting will also follow in His Body, which is herself.  Which same Church the Psalmist seeing destined to continue in everlasting perfection, describes her under the title of the moon.  A perfect moon for everlasting. [Ps. 89, 37]  And whereas the Resurrection of the Lord heartens her to entertain the hope of a Resurrection, he properly added, And a faithful witness in heaven.  Forasmuch as that she may not tremble for her own resurrection, she has Him in heaven for a witness, Who rose again from the dead; and so let the faithful People when it suffers adversity, when it is harassed with sore tribulations, lift up the mind to the hope of the glory to follow, and trusting in the resurrection of the Redeemer, let it say, Also now behold my witness is in heaven, and mine associate on high.  Who is also rightly called ‘an associate,’ in that He was acquainted with our nature, not only by creating, but by taking it upon Himself.  For His knowing is His having undertaken what belongs to us.  Whence too it is said by the Psalmist, For He knoweth our frame. [Ps. 103, 14]  For what wonder is it if He is said emphatically ‘to know our frame,’ when it is plain that there is nothing that He does not know?  But His ‘knowing our frame,’ is His having taken it upon Himself out of pitifulness.


                              [MORAL/HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION]


28.  Yet this voice may together with blessed Job suitably apply to each one of ourselves as well; for every man who in what he does aims at human praises, seeks a ‘witness’ on earth: but he that is eager to please Almighty God by his deeds, takes thought that he has a ‘witness in heaven.’  And it often happens that the very good things themselves in us are found fault with by inconsiderate men; but he that ‘has a witness in heaven,’ has no need to fear men’s reproofs.  Hence it is yet further added;

Ver. 20.  My friends are full of words; but mine eye poureth out tears unto God.




29.  For what is denoted by the eye, but the intent of the heart? as it is written, if thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. [Matt. 6, 22]  For when any thing is done with a good intention, the enacting of that intention contracts no soil in the sight of God; and so when friends are full of words, i.e. when the very same persons detract that are joined with us in faith, ‘the eye’ must needs ‘pour out tears to God,’ that so the whole bent of our heart may run out in the piercing of interior love, and lift itself up to the things of the interior, the more exactly that being forced back by external reproaches, it is driven to turn back within, lest it should vanish away without.  It proceeds;

Ver.21.  Oh! that a man were so judged with God, as a son of man is judged with his fellow!




30.  We acknowledge indeed always that we are sinners, yet often, when laid under the rod, we do not know for what sin in particular we are stricken, and we sift ourselves with minute examining, that if we might in any way be able we might trace out the cause of our being struck; and whereas this is for the most part hidden from us, our blindness becomes a load upon us, and we are the more pained at what we are suffering.  But anyone that ‘comes to judgment with his neighbour,’ both says what he thinks, and knows what answer is made in return, and strikes a blow where he will, and knows from what quarter he is struck.  But he that is smitten with the visitation of God, while he knows indeed that he is beaten, but knows not why he is beaten, as it were himself says what he thinks, but does not know what may be said against him; seeing that he himself indeed groans under the rod, but God does not declare openly for what cause of vengeance He strikes him.  Therefore it is said now, Oh! that a man were so judged with God, as a son of man is judged with his neighbour!  As if it were expressed in plain words; ‘As in all, that I say, I am heard, so would that I heard all that is said concerning me.’  Which, nevertheless, can never be brought about in this life, in that there is a great obstruction before the eyes of our heart, against our beholding the subtle nature of God, even our mere frailty by itself; but we shall then see Him with clearness by Whom we are now searchingly beheld, when this frailty laid aside, we attain to the grace of the interior contemplation, of which Paul saith, For then shall I know, as also I am known. [1 Cor. 13, 12]  Hence blessed Job, seeing that that knowledge can never be in the fullest way perfected here, groans indeed over the blindness of the present life; yet consoles himself by the shortness thereof, saying,

Ver.22.  When a few years are come, then I shall go the way whence I shall not return.




31.  Every thing that passes is short, even though it should seem slow in being finished, but in the way of death we ‘go, and do not return by it,’ not because we are not brought back by rising again to the life of the flesh, but because we do not come again to the labours of this mortal life, or to earn rewards by our labours.

Chap. xvii. Ver. 1.  My spirit shall be wasted to thinness.




32.  ‘My spirit is wasted to thinness,’ by the fear of judgment; in that the minds of the Elect, the more they feel themselves to be approaching the final Judgment, tremble so much the more fearfully in the searching of their own selves; and if they ever find in themselves any carnal thoughts, they consume them by the fervour of their penance; nor do they suffer their thoughts to expand with carnal delight, in that they pass sentence and inflict punishment on themselves more rigorously in proportion as they are awaiting the strict Judge close at hand; whence it comes to pass, that they look upon their departure as always near.  For the minds of the lost do many things wickedly on this account, because they suppose themselves living here for long; and so ‘the spirit of the righteous is wasted to thinness,’ but the spirit of the wicked is thickened.  For in proportion as they swell out in self-elation, they have not the wearing down of the spirit: but the righteous, whilst they consider the shortness of their life, eschew the sins of pride and impurity.  And hence it is added;

My days shall be shortened, and the grave only is left me.




33.  For he that bethinks himself what he will be in death, is always rendered fearful in practice, and from the very cause that henceforth he does not as it were live in his own eyes, he does genuinely live in the eyes of his Creator; he goes after nothing of a nature to pass away, he withstands all the desire of the present life, and views himself as almost dead, in that he is not unaware that he is destined to die.  For a perfect life is an imitation of death, which while the righteous diligently enact, they escape the snares of sins.  Whence it is written, Whatsoever thou takest in hand, remember thy latter end, and thou shalt never do amiss. [Ecclus. 7, 36]  And hence blessed Job, because he sees that his ‘days are shortened,’ and reflects that ‘the grave only is left him,’ fitly subjoins,

I have not sinned, and mine eye abideth in bitternesses.




34.  As if he expressed himself in plain words; ‘I have not been guilty of sin, and I have undergone scourges.’  But on this point, seeing that in many passages of this history he confesses himself to have been guilty of sinning, is the mind moved by the thought with what reason he now denies himself to have committed sin?  But with reference to this the reason quickly occurs, in that neither did he sin to such an extent as to deserve strokes of the rod, nor yet was capable of being without sin.  For that he was stricken not for the correcting of sin, but the increasing of grace, the Judge Himself bears witness, Who praises while He strikes.  And again, that he was not without sin neither does he himself deny, who is commended by the Judge, and therefore commended because he denies it not. 




But I think that we shall make out these words the better, if we understand them as spoken in the voice of the Head.  For our Redeemer, in coming for our Redemption, at once did not sin and did ‘undergo bitterness,’ in that being without sin He undertook the punishment of our sin, in Whose voice it is added,

Ver. 3.  Set me free, and put me beside thee, and let the hand of anyone fight against me.




35.  For He did not sin either in thought or deed: He was made to ‘abide in bitterness’ by His Passion, He was ‘set free’ by the Resurrection, He was ‘put beside’ the Father by His Ascension; in that having gone up into heaven He sitteth on the right hand of God.  And because, after the glory of His Ascension, Judaea was stirred up in the persecuting of His Disciples, it is rightly said here, Let the hand of anyone fight against me.  For the madness of the persecutors did then rage on His members, then the flame of cruelty blazed out against the life of the faithful; but where should the wicked go, or what should they do, whilst He Whom they persecuted on earth was now seated in heaven?  Concerning whom it is yet further added;

Ver. 4.  Thou hast removed their heart far from discipline.




36.  For if they had been acquainted with the keeping of discipline, nor ever despised the precepts of our Redeemer, the mere mortal condition of their flesh by itself would have excited them to the love of the life immortal; for this very thing, even our being subject to corruption in this life, is of the scourge of discipline.  For to be made to feel annoyance from heat and cold, from hunger and thirst, to be afflicted with diseases, and one day even to be put out of existence, what else are all these, but the scourges of sin?  Now there are some that both undergo scourges, and yet never fashion anew their life by the fear of Him Who scourges them.  Whence it is rightly said now, Thou hast removed their heart far from discipline; in that though the body is under discipline, yet the heart is not under discipline, so long as a person is stricken with the rod, and yet not brought back to humbleness of mind.  Nor yet is this spoken in such a sense, as if the Almighty and Merciful God ‘removed the heart of man far from discipline,’ but that having fallen away of his own accord, there in executing judgment He suffered him to remain, where he had fallen; as we also say to Him in praying, And lead us not into temptation.  i.e. ‘do not ever suffer us to be led into temptation.’  It proceeds;

Therefore they shall not be exalted.




37.  For if the heart were under discipline, it would seek after things above, it would not be openmouthed to obtain transitory good things.  Of those, then, whose heart is not under discipline, it is rightly said, Therefore they shall not be exalted, in that while let go at large in the lowest enjoyments, they are ever longing for the good things of earth, they never lift the heart to the delights of heaven; for they would be exalted, if they lifted their minds to the hope of the heavenly country; but they, who do not make it their business to guard their way by discipline, ever in their desires lie grovelling in things below and what is more grievous, in lying low set themselves up, in that they are uplifted on the ground of things transitory.  And they may be uplifted, but cannot be exalted, in that they are sunk the deeper below, by the very act by which they are rendered higher to themselves; and so the heart that is without discipline cannot be exalted, in that the human mind, as when elevated amiss it is forced down below, so forced down aright is lifted up on high.  It proceeds;

Ver. 5.  He promiseth prey to his friends; and the eyes of his children shall fail.




38.  After that blessed Job had uttered a sentence relating to the multitude of the wicked, i.e. the body of our old enemy; he directly shifts the sentence to the very leader of them, i.e. the head of all the children of perdition, and returns from the plural to the singular number: for the devil and all wicked people are so one body, that it very often happens that the body is rated with the name of the head, and the head designated by the title of the body.  Thus the body is rated with the name of the head, when it is said of a bad man, And one of you is a devil. [John 6, 70]  And again the head is designated by the title of the body, when it is said of the apostate Angel himself, A man [Vulg. ‘inimicus homo’] that is an enemy hath done this. [Matt. 13, 28]  Thus the prince of all the wicked has some for ‘associates’ and some as ‘children.’  For who are his associates, but those apostate Angels, who fell with him from the seat of the heavenly country?  or what others has he as children, saving bad men, who are begotten by his evil persuading in the practice of wickedness.  Whence too it is said by the voice of Truth to unbelievers, Ye are of your father the devil. [John 8, 44]


39.  So that evil author of error promises ‘prey’ to his ‘associates,’ in that he promises the evil spirits the souls of bad men to be seized at their latter end; and the eyes of his children shall fail, in that while he sets on the aims of men to look for earthly things only, he causes them to love that which they cannot keep for long: for neither can the bent of misdirected love remain, when it appears that both that which he loves, and he himself, who loves it, are tending to nought at a rapid rate.  It may also be, that by ‘the associates’ perhaps are understood all those that are most cruel and already full of every kind of wickedness; but by the sons, those who being still deluded by beguiling promises, are being nourished up to increasing of wickedness; that henceforth the devil should as it were by the title of wickedness, have these as his ‘associates,’ who now no longer have whereunto to grow in perdition, while these he has as sons, whom he suckles with promises, that they may go on advancing to worse.  But ‘the eyes of his children shall fail,’ in that the aims of the wicked fall to the ground, when all that they go after here, they leave behind, and there suffer without end what is fitted to fill them with grief.  It proceeds;

Ver.6.  He hath made me, as it were, a byword of the people, and I am an example before them.




40.  This let blessed Job say in his own person, yea and in the voice of all of the Elect.  For everyone that is stricken with the rod, is, as it were, ‘made a byword of the people,’ in that every fool, when he desires to curse anyone, takes up his cursing in a likeness to him, whom he sees stricken with a temporal stroke, and wishes that punishment for his adversary, which he sees to have befallen the righteous man.  And so it comes to pass that with persons not endowed with a right perception, the uptight man is brought into an example, while both the punishment of the just passes current for the condemnation of him, and the glory that is in store for him is not foreseen by any expectance of faith.  It proceeds;

Ver. 7.  Mine eye is dim, for indignation, and all my members are as it were brought to nothing.




41.  For ‘the eye is dim for indignation,’ when those very persons likewise, who in the Lord’s Body, i.e. in the Church, are endued with the light of truth, whilst they see themselves too long despised and disdained by the wicked, are confounded in astonishment at the inscrutable judgment, and fail to fathom the secret of God; for what reason it is that the wicked are suffered to prevail against the innocence of the good?  For who is not amazed, when Herodias by her daughter’s dancing obtains at the hands of the drunken king, that the head of that Friend of the Bridegroom, that ‘Prophet, and more than a Prophet,’ should be brought before the faces of his guests upon a charger?  Now when the just are ‘dimmed in indignation,’ the weak very commonly go headlong into actual infidelity; whence it is added, And any members are as it were brought to nothing.  For by the term of ‘members,’ we have the tenderness of the weak set forth, who, while they behold bad men flourishing, and good men tormented, are sometimes brought to this pass, that they regret that they even began in good things, and so speedily fall back to doing evil things, as if the good they had begun were a detriment to their life.  But this that he says, Mine eye is dimmed in indignation, he unfolds in plainer words, when he adds;

Ver. 8.  Upright men shall be astonied at this, and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite.


[xxxvii]                         [LITERAL INTERPRETATION]


42.  In this place, ‘the innocent’ is taken for the as yet imperfectly righteous, who, as yet but commencing in good ways, though he is not minded to do mischief to others, yet is not at all able himself to do things that are perfect; and because the hearts of the little ones, while they see the wicked flourishing in the present life, are set on fire with the brands of envy; (for a man the more envies others present good in proportion as he less despises it himself.  Since of that which cannot be possessed by all men all of it together, what this one has would be so much lacking [‘desit’ al. ‘defit,’ or ‘deficit’] to the other.)  Now ‘the innocent is kindled against the hypocrite,’ when even he who is not used to injure anyone, envies the glory of the dissembler.  But if in this passage the innocent means any one perfect in goodness, ‘the innocent is moved against the hypocrite;’ when he both sees him flourishing, and contemns him and all his flourishing, and by preaching the things that are right plainly says that he ought to be despised by others, the more in proportion as he sees him eagerly in quest of things, which cannot abide with him for long, and in this point of view it is yet further added;

Ver. 9.  The righteous also shall hold on his way, and to clean hands he shall add strength.




43.  On considering the hypocrite, ‘the righteous holds on his way,’ in that whilst he sees that it is by a wicked will that he obtains the things that are of the world, he is himself tied and bound the stronger to the love of heavenly things, knowing that to good desires eternal rewards shall not be wanting, whereas both to bad and double hearts the good things of time are not denied; from which circumstance it comes that ‘to clean hands he adds strength,’ in that seeing bad men win temporal glory, he brings his good works to perfection, and looks down upon temporal things from the loftier height in proportion as he sees them to abound even to the wicked.  For he sees how much those things deserve to be despised, which Almighty God vouchsafes even to bad men: for if they were primarily great, the Creator would never vouchsafe them to His adversaries; and hence he considers that it is to himself an unworthy thing, that he should go after that good, which he sees to abound even to the wicked; but he applies his mind to the winning of heavenly blessings, which can never be shared with him by the children of perdition.  Thus after he had introduced the outward advancements of the wicked, and the interior advancements of the good, he brought forward words of exhortation, saying,

Ver. 10.  But as for you all, do ye turn and come now.




44.  Which same words of exhortation he properly frames to the Elect, whom he calls to the eternal world; who are bidden in two ways, viz. that they should ‘turn,’ and that they should ‘come;’ ‘turn’ by faith, ‘come’ by practice.  Or indeed that they ‘turn’ by abandoning evil deeds, and ‘come’ by doing good ones; as it is written, Depart from evil, and do good: [Ps. 37, 27] but that is wonderful which is added,

And may I not find one wise man among you.




45.  For what does this mean, that he bids them to wisdom, and yet wishes that he may not find them wise, saving that they cannot come to true wisdom, who are deceived in confidence in their own false wisdom?  Concerning whom it is written, Woe unto you that are wise in your own eyes, and prudent in your own sight [Is. 5, 21]; and to whom it is said again, Be not wise with your own selves [Rom. 12, 16]; whence that same great preacher sought that those, whom he found carnally wise, in order that they might attain true wisdom, should first become foolish; saying, If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. [1 Cor. 3, 18]  And ‘Truth’ saith by Itself, I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. [Matt. 11, 25]  And so because they that are wise in themselves cannot come to true wisdom, blessed Job, being anxious for the conversion of his hearers, rightly desires that he may not ‘find any wise man among them.’  As if he said to them in plain speech; ‘Learn to be foolish in your own selves, that ye may be truly wise in God.’  It goes on;

Ver. 11.  My days are past away, my thoughts are scattered, racking my heart.


[xli]                    [ALLEGORICAL / MORAL INTERPRETATION]


46.  The Holy Church of the Elect sees that the spaces of her life pass in periods of day and night, in that it is hers in adversity to have ‘a night,’ and in prosperity, ‘a day.’  For there riseth as it were light unto her from the tranquillity of peace, and night from the grief of persecution.  Now as often as after the pauses of rest she returns to the toilsomeness of persecution, growing to a head against her, she testifies that her ‘days have past;’ in which days, however, she is accustomed to be weighed down with so much the heavier cares, in proportion as she bethinks her that for that very tranquillity of rest a more exact reckoning is required of her by the Judge.  For in the tranquil state of peace, at one time she is employed with the profits of souls, at another time she attends to the ministrations of earthly things, which same ministrations of earthly affairs are more burthensome to the minds of good men, in proportion as by the act of looking at them they are torn away though but for a brief space from looking at the things of heaven.  Whence blessed Job, whether in his own voice, or the voice of the Church Universal, after testifying that ‘his days were past,’ thereupon subjoined, My thoughts are scattered, racking my heart; in that when temporal glory is gone to the minds of the good, even that charge of earthly stewardship is likewise removed from them, which seemed to be torturing them within their thoughts; for while they aim to be always bent upward for the perception of the things of heaven, by this very circumstance that sometimes in their earthly stewardships they are made to descend to take thought of the lowest matters, they feel themselves to be put to torture.  Whence it is brought to pass, that the very hostility of persecution is itself too changed into a mighty exultation of joy, on account of the repose of the heart that is obtained.  Hence it is fitly added,

Ver. 12.  They have changed the night into day.




47.  For ‘the thoughts being scattered change night into day,’ in that it is sometimes more grateful to the righteous through adversity to undergo sufferings, rather than as the effect of prosperity to be harassed with the charge of earthly ministering.  But because they have learnt by paying attention that both adversity passes away, and prosperity dawns again, it is fitly added;

And again after darkness I look for light.




48.  For ‘the light is looked for after darkness,’ in that after the night of the present life, the light eternal is discerned, or adversity and prospersity do so alternate here, that they do not cease to succeed one another by turns.  Whence it comes to pass that even in the light night is suspected, and in the night light is presumed on; as when it is written, In the day of prosperity be not forgetful of affliction, and in the day of affliction be not forgetful of prosperity. [Ecclus. 11, 25]  But mark, forasmuch as we have been redeemed by the grace of our Maker, we henceforth have this boon of heavenly bestowal, that when we are removed from dwelling in our flesh, we are at once carried off to receive heavenly rewards; in that since our Creator and Redeemer, penetrating the bars of hell, brought out from thence the souls of the Elect, He does not permit us to go there, from whence He has already by descending set others free.  But they who were brought into this world before His Coming, whatsoever eminency of righteousness they may have had, could not on being divested of the body at once be admitted into the bosom of the heavenly country [a]; seeing that He had not as yet come, Who by His own descending should unloose the bars of hell, and place the souls of the righteous henceforth in their everlasting seat.  Hence blessed Job, both feeling the stroke of affliction, and knowing that the recompensing of the righteous was as yet delayed, fitly subjoins;

Ver. 13.  If I wait, hell is mine house; and I have made my bed in the darkness.




49.  For the former Saints could undergo adversity, and yet could not, when brought out of the body, be at once freed from the regions of hell; in that He had not yet come, Who should descend thereinto without sin, that He might set free those, who were there bound by right of sin.  And man then ‘made his bed in darkness,’ when he forsook the light of righteousness by consenting to the crafty Prompter: and whereas in those very regions of hell the souls of the righteous were kept imprisoned without torment, so that both on behalf of original sin they should still go down thereunto, and yet by light of their own deeds not undergo punishment; to have ‘made their bed in the darkness,’ in a manner, is to have prepared themselves rest in hell.  For it was sad weariness [grave taedium] to the Elect, after the dissolution of the flesh, not yet to see the likeness of the Creator.  Which wearisomeness blessed Job not improperly designates ‘darkness.’  But whereas this came in the punishment of infirmity, he rightly adds that same infirmity directly, saying,

Ver. 14.  I have said to corruption, Thou art my father, and to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister.




50.  What does this mean, that he said to corruption, Thou art my father; saving that every man descends from an already corrupted origin?  and hence it is added, And to the worm, Thou art my mother and my sister; in this way, viz. that we come into this world once from corruption itself, and along with corruption itself.  For as regards the matter of corruptible flesh, the worm is our ‘mother and sister,’ in that we both come forth out of corruption, and come with corruption which we carry about us.  And if we may understand it in a spiritual sense, nature is not unappropriately called our ‘mother,’ and habit too a ‘sister,’ in that we are from the one, and along with the other; which same ‘mother and sister’ are ‘worms,’ in that in virtue of a corrupt nature and evil habit we are necessitated, as by a kind of ‘worms,’ so by disquieting thoughts to be gnawed in the mind.  For the corrupted nature of the flesh, and bad habit, in that they generate numberless cares in the heart of our frailty, are well called ‘worms our mother and sister.’ For cares gnaw the mind, while they disquiet it.  For righteous men do not cease either heedfully to take thought and counsel what they are to do, or thoughtfully to look into it, whither they are destined to be led after the present life.  And so because the Elect then, before the Coming of the Lord, both saw that they were in the toils of the present life, and still after the present life did not as yet receive the heavenly blessings, they were made to smart [urebantur] with many thoughts of heart.  For they waited for the grace of the Redeemer, and yet by living in the flesh could not attain thereto: whence it is fitly added,

Ver. 15.  Where then is now my expectation?




51.  What could be the ‘expectation’ of the righteous, but God who justifieth the righteous, Who should freely go down to (what was) the punishment of mankind, and by the efficacy of His righteousness set free the captives of death?  For they never ceased to expect His appearing with intent expectation; they knew that it was to come, but they sought for it to come quickly.  Wherefore he does not say, ‘Where, then, is my expectation?’ but, where then is now my expectation?  For in that he adds, now, he shewed that what was to come one day, he desired might come without delay.  It goes on,

And who considereth my patience?




52.  He expressed the longing desire, wherewith whilst set in the flesh he hastes to be redeemed, and brought back from hell to the regions above.  And indeed it belonged to but few men to enter into the consideration of these things, that they, should learn to think of the labours of the present life, or of the subsequent delay after death.  Both of which the just grieved to be subject to before the coming of our Redeemer.  And hence it is rightly said, And who considereth my patience?  Verily, there is not lacking One, to ‘consider patience.’  But when God does not hear quickly, He is said, as it were, not ‘to consider.’  For the Redemption of mankind itself, which came at the beginning of the world, by those who came before from the beginning of the world was accounted slow, in that during a long period of time they were severed from the recompensing of the heavenly things, as Truth testifies, Which saith, Many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them. [Luke 10, 24]  And so as to that which is now said, Who considereth my patience? the breathings of fervent desire are laid open.  For neither, as we said before, does God forbear to consider the patience of the righteous; but not ‘to have regard,’ in a manner, means to appear less quickly answering to the aspirations of longing desire, and by lengthened periods of time to delay the grace of His Dispensation.  Therefore let him say, Who considereth my patience?  in that what is short to Him that ordereth, is long to him that loves.  Hence, still reflecting  on the privations of his delay, he repeats that which he had already said before; and being destined to descend below, he redoubles the voice of his grief, saying,

Ver. 16.  All of mine shall descend into the lowest hell.




53.  Whereas it appears that among those below the righteous are held bound not in places of punishment, but in the bosom of tranquillity above, an important question springs up before us, why it is that blessed Job declares, saying, All of mine shall descend into the lowest hell; who even if before the Advent of the Mediator between God and man he had to descend into hell, yet it is plain that into the lowest hell he had not to descend.  Does he call the very higher regions of hell, ‘the lowest hell?’ Plainly because in relation to the loftiness of heaven, the region of this sky may not unappropriately be called the lower region.  Whence when the Apostate Angels were plunged from the seats of heaven into this darksome region of the air, the Apostle Peter says, For if God spared not the Angels that sinned, but delivered them, dragged down with infernal chains, into hell, to be reserved for torments in the Judgment. [2 Pet. 2, 4]  If then relatively to the height of heaven this darksome air is infernal, relatively to the elevation of this air, the earth which lies below may be taken both as infernal, and as deep; and relatively to the height of that earth, even those parts of hell which are higher than the other mansions of the place below, may in this place not unsuitably be denoted by the designation of the lowest hell; in that what the sky is to heaven, and the earth to the sky, the same is that higher hollow of the regions below to the earth.


54.  But that is very wonderful which he subjoins, All of mine shall descend; for whereas the soul alone shall descend into the regions of hell, how is it that the holy man tells that ‘all of his’ shall descend there, but that he saw himself to be there entire where he perceives the great weight of his recompense? seeing that this which he leaves of himself without sense on the earth, until he returns to the incorruption of the resurrection, he does not feel to be himself.  And so he declares that ‘all of his will descend into the lowest hell,’ whither he sees his soul only shall descend; in that the whole of him is there, where he is capable of having a sense of that which he has got.  Or, surely, ‘all of his did descend into hell,’ in that the recompensing of all his toils was as yet expected to be received only in the rest of hell; and all that he has done as it were ‘descends’ there, in that there he finds rest in his recompensing for all things.  Whence also the expected rest is itself added, when the words are thereupon introduced,

Dost thou think at least there will be rest for me there?




55.  By which same words he both makes known what he desires, and yet marks that he is still doubtful of receiving the rest, lest he whose holy works so many scourges followed, should by the hidden judgment of the heavenly Judge, after temporal scourges, have lasting torments likewise following him.  Wherein it behoves ourselves to consider with exceeding fear which of us is now secure of the everlasting rest, if even he still trembles for it, proclaim of whose virtue the very Judge, Who smites, does Himself sound: For if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the sinner and the ungodly appear? [1 Pet. 4, 18]  For blessed Job knew that he should attain to rest after the strokes of affliction, but that he might shake our hearts with fear, he himself seemed to doubt about the recompensing of Eternal rest, when he says, Dost thou think? plainly that we might think well with what exceeding apprehension we ought ever to dread the Judgment to come, if even he, who was commended by the Judge, was not yet in his own words secure of the rewards of the Judgment.