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The thirty-first chapter of the Book of Job is explained to verse twenty-four, exclusive, and chastity, humility, and mercifulness being first commended, many particulars are especially taught relative to the avoiding of the occasion of sin.




1. The sense of Sacred Revelation requires to be weighed with so exact a balancing between the text and the mystery, that the scale of either side being adjusted, this latter [‘hune,’ which seems to agree with ‘intellectus’ referred to ‘mysterium.’] neither the weight of over-curious scrutinizing should sink down, nor again the deadness of unconcern leave void. For many sentences thereof are pregnant with such a conception of allegories, that any one who strives to hold them after the history alone, is deprived of the knowledge of them by his indifference. But there are some that are so made subordinate to external precepts, that if a man desires to penetrate them with greater particularity, within indeed he finds nothing, whilst even that too which they tell of without, he hides from himself.


2. Whence it is well said also in historical relation by a method of representing; And Jacob took him rods of green poplar, and of the almond and plane-trees, and pilled them in strakes, and when the bark was off, where they were stripped, the white appeared, and the parts that were whole remained green; and after this manner the colour was made variegated. [Gen. 30, 37-39] When it is further added, And he set them in the gutters in the watering-troughs, that when the flocks came to drink they should have the rods before their eyes, and should conceive in looking on them. And the flocks when they conceived looked on the rods, and brought forth cattle ringstraked, spotted, and speckled. For what is it to set before the eyes of the cattle ‘rods of green poplar, and of the almond and plane-trees,’ but through the course Holy Scripture to furnish for an example to the people the lives and sentences of the Ancient Fathers, which same because by the testing of reason they are in a right line, are styled ‘rods.’ From which he ‘peels the bark’ in part, that in those which are stripped the inward whiteness may appear, and in part he keeps the bark, that just as they were outwardly, they should remain in greenness. And the colour of the rods is made pied, whereas the bark is in part stripped off, in part retained. Since before the eyes of our reflection the sentences of the foregoing Fathers are placed, like pied rods, in which whereas we very often avoid the sense of the letter, we are as it were withdrawing the bark, and whereas we very often follow the meaning of the letter, we as it were preserve the bark. And when from those same the bark of the letter is removed, the interior whiteness of the allegory is brought to view, and when the bark is left, the green grown examples of the outward meaning are shewn. Which Jacob did well to ‘set in the watering-troughs,’ because our Redeemer set them in the books of the Sacred Lore by which we are inwardly watered. ‘The rams mix with the sheep looking at these,’ because our reasoning spirits when they are fixed in the earnest minding of those mingle themselves with the several particular actings, that they should begot such a progeny of works as they see examples of precepts going before in words, and the progeny of good practice may have a different colour, because both sometimes, the bark of the letter being removed, it sees what is within with acuteness, and sometimes, the covering of the history being preserved, it moulds itself well in the outward.


3. For because the Divine sentences require sometimes to be explored internally, and sometimes to be viewed externally, it is said by Solomon also, He that strongly presseth the udder for the drawing forth milk squeezeth out butter, and he that wringeth [‘emungit,’ al. ‘emulget.’] violently draweth out blood. For we ‘press the udder strongly,’ when we weigh with minute understanding the word of Sacred Revelation, by which way of ‘pressing whilst we seek ‘milk,’ we find ‘butter,’ because whilst we seek to be fed with but a little insight, we are anointed with the abundance of interior richness. Which, nevertheless, we ought neither to do too much nor at all times, lest while milk is sought for from the udder there should follow blood. For very often persons whilst they sift the words of Sacred Revelation more than they ought, fall into a carnal apprehension.  For ‘he draws forth blood, who wringeth violently.’  Since that is rendered carnal which is perceived by an over-great sifting of the spirit. Whence it is requisite that the deeds of blessed Job, which he for this reason relates amidst the words of upbraiding friends, that his afflicted soul might not fall away in despair, we should examine into according to the weight of the history, lest if the mind explain these in a spiritual sense above what is necessary, from the udder of his words there be blood answering us instead of milk. But if he does sometimes relate some things mystical in the relation of his works, it is necessary that the mind with quickened speed return to these considerations, whereunto as is given to be understood the very order of the person speaking itself bids that mind. For the holy man, after he had told the things that had been inflicted on him by the scourge of God, now by enumerating in order his own virtues makes it known what sort of person he was before the scourge, so constructing the history of his life, as to insert therein a something very rare which might be understood in an allegorical way, that both in a large proportion they should be historical facts that he records, and yet occasionally, by means of these same, he should rise up to a spiritual meaning. Thus with what strength he had bound up his exterior conduct from all falling by the training of inward safe-keeping, he tells, saying,

Ver. 1. I made a covenant with mine eyes that I should not even think upon a maid.






4. Whereas the soul is invisible, it is in no degree affected  by the delightfulness of things corporeal, except that, being closely attached to the body, it has the senses of that body as a kind of opening for going forth. For seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, and touching, are a kind of ways of the mind, by which it should come forth without, and go a lusting after the things that are without the limits of its substance. For by these senses of the body as by a kind of windows the soul takes a view of the several exterior objects, and on viewing longs after them. For hence Jeremiah saith; For death is come up through our windows, and is entered into our palaces; [Jer. 9, 21] for ‘death comes up by the windows and enters into the palace,’ when concupiscence coming through the senses of the body enters the dwelling-place of the mind. Contrary whereunto that which we have often already said touching the righteous is spoken by Isaiah; Who are they that fly as clouds, and as the doves at their windows? [Is. 60, 8] For the righteous are said to fly as clouds, because they are lifted up from the defilements of earth, and they are ‘as doves at their windows,’ because through the senses of the body they do not regard the several objects without with the bent of rapacity, and carnal concupiscence does not carry those persons off without. But he who through those windows of the body heedlessly looks without, very often falls even against his will into the delightfulness of sin, and being fast bound by desires, he begins to will what he willed not. For the precipitate soul, whilst it does not forecast beforehand, that it should not incautiously see what it might lust after, begins afterwards with blinded eyes to desire the thing that it saw. And hence the mind of the Prophet, which being uplifted was often admitted to interior mysteries, because he beheld the wife of another without heed, being darkened afterwards joined her to him without right. But the holy man, who as a kind of judge of greatest equity is set over the senses granted him in the body, as over subject officers, sees offences before they come, and closes the windows of the body as against a plotting enemy, saying, I made a covenant with mine eyes that I should not even think upon a maid. For that he might preserve the thoughts of the heart with chastity, he ‘made a covenant with his eyes,’ lest he should first see without caution what he might afterwards love against his will. For it is very greatly that the flesh drags downwards, and the image of a shape once bound on the heart by means of the eye is with difficulty unloosed by the hand of great struggling. So then that we may not deal with things lascivious in thought we have need to take precaution because it is not befitting to look at what is not lawful to be lusted after. For that the mind may be preserved pure in thought, the eyes must be forced away from the wantonness of their pleasure, like a kind of ravishing unto sin. For neither would Eve have touched the forbidden free, except she had looked on it first without taking heed; since it is written, And the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree delightful to look upon, and she took of the fruit thereof and did eat. [Gen. 3, 6] Hence, therefore, it is to be estimated with, what great control we who are living a mortal life ought to restrain our sight towards forbidden objects; if the very mother of the living came to death through means of the eyes. Hence too under the voice of Judaea, who, whereas by seeing she coveted external things, parted with interior blessings, the Prophet says; Mine eye hath robbed mine heart. [Lam. 3, 51] For by lusting after things visible, she lost the invisible virtues. She, then, who lost the interior fruits by the exterior sight, did by the eye of the body endure the ‘robbing of the heart.’ Hence by ourselves, for safely keeping purity of heart, there ought also to be preserved the disciplining of the exterior senses. For with whatever degree of excellency the mind may be enriched, with whatever amount of gravity it may be invigorated, yet the carnal senses ring outwardly with a something childish, and except they were restrained by the weight of interior gravity, and as it were by a sort of manly energy, they drag the soul unstrung to things loose and light.


5. Let us then see in what manner blessed Job kept in by a manly [‘juvenili.’] vigour of wisdom all that the flesh might breathe of in him of loose and childish.  For he says, I made a covenant with mine eyes, and because he quenched not only the doing but also the thinking of lust in himself, going on he added; that I should not even think on a maid. For he knew that lust has need to be checked in the heart, he knew by the gift of the Holy Spirit that our Redeemer on His coming would go beyond the precepts of the Law, and put away from His Elect not only lustful indulgence of the flesh, but also of the heart, saying, It hath been written, Thou shall not commit adultery? But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5, 27. 28.] For by Moses lust perpetrated, buy by the Author of purity lust imagined, is condemned. For hence it is that the first Pastor of the Church says to the disciples; Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope perfectly in the grace that is offered to you. [1 Pet. 1, 13] For to ‘gird up the loins’ of the flesh is to withhold lust from accomplishment, but ‘to gird up the loins of the mind,’ is to restrain it from the imagining thereof as well. Hence it is that the Angel who addresses John is described as being ‘girt above the paps with a golden girdle.’ [Rev. 1, 13] For because the purity of the New Testament puts restraint upon lust of the heart likewise, the Angel who appeared therein, came ‘girt’ in the breast. Whom a golden girdle rightly binds, because whoever is a citizen of the country Above does not now forsake impurity from dread of punishment, but from the love of charity. Now the wickedness of lust is committed either in thought or deed. For our crafty enemy when he is driven away from the carrying out of the deed, makes it his business to defile by secret thought. Hence too it is said to the serpent by the Lord, Thou shall creep on the breast and belly. That is, ‘the serpent creeps with his belly,’ when the gliding enemy by the human members subject to him calls lust into exercise even to the fulfilling of the deed; but ‘the serpent creeps with the breast,’ when those whom he cannot pollute in the deed of lust, he does pollute in the thought. Thus one man now perpetrates lust in act of doing, to this man the serpent creeps by the belly. But another man entertains it in the mind as to be committed, and to him the serpent ‘creeps by the breast.’ But because through the thought we are brought to the fulfilling deeds, the serpent is rightly described first as ‘creeping upon the breast,’ and afterwards ‘upon the belly.’ Hence blessed Job because he maintained discipline even in the thought, by a single guarding mastered both ‘the breast and belly of the serpent,’ saying, I made a covenant with mine eyes, that I should not even, think on a maid. Which same purity of heart whoever does not aim at acquiring, what else does he but drive away from himself the Author of that purity? whence blessed Job too directly adds;

Ver. 2. For what portion would God have in me from above, and what inheritance would the Almighty have from on high?




6. As though he said in plain words; ‘If I defile, my mind in thought, I can never be the ‘inheritance’ of Him, Who is the Author of purity.’ For the rest are no good things at all, if to the eyes of the secret Judge they be not approved by the testimony of chastity. For all the virtues lift themselves up in the sight of the Creator by reciprocal aid, that because one virtue without another is either none at all or the very least one, they should be mutually supported by their alliance together. For if either humility forsake chastity, or chastity abandon humility, before the Author of humility and chastity, what does either a proud chastity, or a polluted humility avail to benefit us? And so that the holy man might obtain to be owned by his Maker in the remaining particulars of good, keeping purity of the heart, let him say, I made a covenant with mine eyes, that I should not even think on a maid. For what portion would God have in me from above, and what inheritance would the Almighty have from on high? As though he made the confession in plain words, saying, The Creator of the things on high refuses to own me for his possession, if in His sight my mind rots in the lowest desires.


7. But herein it should be known that that is one thing which the mind meets with from the tempting of the flesh, and another thing, when by consent it is tied and bound with gratifications. For very often it is struck by wrong thinking and resists, but very often when it conceives any thing wrong, it revolves this within itself even in the way of desire. And certainly impure thought never in the least defiles the mind when it strikes it, but when it subdues the same to itself by the taking delight. Thus it is hence the great Preacher says, There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man. [1 Cor. 10, 13] For that is ‘temptation common to man,’ by which we are very often reached in the thought of the heart even against our will, because this, viz. that even things forbidden sometimes occur to the mind, this assuredly we have in our own selves derived from the burthen of human nature as subject to corruption. But henceforth it is devilish and not ‘human’ temptation, when to that which the corruptibility of the flesh prompts, the mind attaches itself by the consent. Hence again he says, Let not sin reign in your mortal body. [Rom. 6, 12] For he forbad not that sin should ‘be’ in our mortal body, but that it should ‘reign in our mortal body.’ Because in flesh subject to corruption it may not ‘reign,’ but cannot help but ‘be.’ For this very thing to be tempted touching sin, is sin to it, which same because so long as we live, we are not perfectly and altogether without, holy preaching seeing that it could not wholly banish the same, took away from it its ‘reign’ from the dwelling-place of our heart, that the unlawful longing, though it very often secretly insinuate itself as a thief in our good thoughts, at all events should not, if it should even win an entrance, exercise dominion. Accordingly the holy man in saying, I made a covenant with mine eyes, that I should not even think upon a maid, would not at all be understood, that sin did not touch his mind in thought, but that it never mastered him by the consent. For he defends his soul as the most entire possession of God against the adversary’s making a prey of it, who directly subjoins, For what portion would God have in me from above, or what inheritance would the Almighty have from on high? As though he said in plain words; ‘In my mortal flesh indeed I am subject to the constitution of corruption; but wherein do I serve the Maker, if to Him I do not defend my mind whole and entire from the consent to sin? It goes on;

Ver. 3. Is not destruction to the wicked? and estrangement to the workers of iniquity?




8. The speedy comforting of the good is the end of the wicked had regard to. For while by the destruction of those they see the evil that they escape, they account as light whatever of adversity they undergo in this life. So then let the lost sinners now go, and satisfy the desires of their gratifications; in the sentence of their end they are destined to feel that in living badly they were in love with death. But let the Elect be chastened with a temporary infliction of the rod, that strokes may reform from their wickedness those whom fatherly pitifulness keeps for an inheritance. For now the righteous man is scourged und corrected by the rod of discipline, because he is being prepared for the Father’s estate of inheritance. But the unjust man is let go in his own pleasures, because temporal good things are supplied to him in the same degree that eternal ones are denied him. The unjust man, whilst running to a deserved death, enjoys pleasures unrestrained; inasmuch as the very steers too that are destined to be slaughtered are left in free pastures. But on the other hand the righteous man is restrained from the pleasantness of transitory gratification, because doubtless the steer too which is assigned to life for the purpose of labour, is held under the yoke. To the Elect, earthly good in this life is denied; because sick persons too, to whom there is a hope of their living, never have allowed them by the physician every thing they long for. But to the lost sinners the good things are granted, which they long after in this life, because to the sick too who are despaired of there is nothing denied that they desire. So then let the righteous weigh well, what are the evils that await the wicked, and never envy their happiness which runs past. For what is there that they should admire about the joys of those, when both themselves are by a rough road making their way to the Country of Salvation, and those as it were through pleasant meadows to the pit? Therefore let the holy man say, Is not destruction to the wicked? and estrangement to the workers of iniquity? Which same term of estrangement [‘alienatio.’] would have sounded harder, if the interpreter had retained it in the parlance of his own tongue. For what with us is called ‘estrangement’ is among the Hebrews termed ‘anathema.’ And so there will then be ‘estrangement’ to the wicked, when they see that they are an ‘anathema’ to the inheritance of the Strict Judge, because here they set Him at nought by wicked practices. So then let the wicked flourish, strange to the flowering of the Eternal Inheritance. But let the righteous look to themselves with discreet attention, and in all their actions be in dread for that they are seen by the Lord. Whence it is fitly added directly;

Ver. 4. Doth not He see my ways, and count all my steps?




9. What does he tell of by the title of ‘ways’ but ways of acting? Thus it is hence said by Jeremiah; Make your ways and your doings good. [Jer. 7, 3] But what do we understand by the name of ‘steps,’ but either the motions of men’s minds or the advancements of merits? By which ‘steps’ indeed Truth calls us to Itself, saying, Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden. [Matt. 11, 28] For the Lord bids us ‘come to Him’ not surely by the steps of the body, but by the advances of the heart. For he Himself says, The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain nor yet at Jerusalem worship the Father. [John 4, 21] And a little after, the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father also seeketh such to worship Him. [ver. 23] Thus he implies that the steps are in the heart, when He both bids us that we should come, and yet declares that it is not at all by the motion of the body that we pass to other things. Now the Lord so ‘views the ways’ of each one, and so ‘counts all his steps,’ that by His Judgment not even the minutest thoughts or the very slightest words, which have become insignificant in our eyes from use, remain unexamined into. Thus hence He says, Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Boca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. [Matt. 5, 22] Raca’ in the Hebrew speech is a word of interjection, which indeed shews the temper of one who is angry, but does not give forth a full word of anger. Thus anger without utterance is first blamed, then anger with utterance, but not yet shaped by a complete word, and at last also when it is said, Thou fool, anger is reproved, which, along with excess of the voice, is fulfilled by the perfecting of speech as well. And it is to be noted that He tells that by anger he is ‘in danger of the judgment;’ by a voice of anger, which is ‘Raca,’ ‘in danger of the council,’ and by a word of the voice, which is ‘Thou fool,’ in danger of hell fire. For by the steps of offence, the order of the sentence increased, because in ‘the judgment’ the case is still under examination, but in the council the sentence of the case is now determining, while ‘in the fire of hell’ the sentence, which proceeds from the council, is fulfilled. And therefore because of human actions ‘the Lord counts up the steps’ with exact scrutiny, anger without the voice is made over ‘to the judgment,’ but anger in the voice ‘to the council,’ and anger in speech and voice to ‘the fire of hell.’ This exactness of His scanning the Prophet had beheld, when he said, O most strong, Great One, Mighty Lord of hosts is Thy Name, Great in counsel, and Mighty in work, for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of Adam; to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his devices. [Jer. 32, 18. 19.]


10. Thus the Lord scans those ways with exact scrutiny, that in each one of us He should neither pass over those good points that there are for Him to recompense, nor leave without rebuke the evil things, that are doubtless displeasing to Him. For hence it is that the Angel of the Church of Pergamos He at once commends in some things, and in some rebukes, saying, I know thy works and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast My Name, and hast not denied My faith. [Apoc. 2, 13. 14.] And a little while after; But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam. Hence it is said to the Angel of the Church of Thyatira, I know thy works, and thy charity, and faith, and service, and thy patience; and thy last works to be more than the first. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee; because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce My servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. [ver. 19. 20.] Observe how He records good things, nor yet lets go without penance evil things, that require to be cut off, surely because He so views the ways of each, and so takes account of their steps, ‘counting them up,’ that by exact counting He thoroughly estimates both how far each one is advancing to what is good, or how far, by deviating to what is evil, he may contravene his advances. For the increase of merits which is heightened by the aims of a good life, is very often held back by a mixture of evil, and the good which the mind builds up by practising it overthrows by committing other things. Whence holy men tie themselves up with greater nicety in the thought of the heart in proportion as they see that they are more searchingly scanned by the Judge Above. For they sift the mind through and through, they seek to find if they have done wrong in aught, that they may be rendered the more unblameable to the Judge, in proportion as daily and without ceasing they blame their own selves. Not, however, that they already derive from this circumstance the delights of security, because they see that they are beheld by Him, Who beholds in them those things as well, which they are not themselves able to see in themselves. And indeed blessed Job among those of old lime maintained the life of perfectness, but because by the spirit of prophecy the stretch of his eye breaks forth to the Advent of the Redeemer, in that Redeemer’s precepts he for himself reflects how many things belonging to perfection he is short of. Whence he also adds;

Ver. 5, 6. If I have walked in vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit, let Him weigh me in an even balance, and let God know mine integrity.





11. ‘God to know’ is said for His making us to know by a customary mode of our speech, who speak of ‘a happy day,’ by which it happens that we are made happy. For hence it is the Lord saith to Abraham, Now I know that thou fearest God. [Gen. 22, 12] For it is not that the Creator of the periods of time learnt any thing from time, but His knowing is His affording the knowledge to us by the instant of each particular case emerging. But who is there represented by the name of ‘balances,’ saving the Mediator between God and man? in Whom all our merits are weighed with an even scale, and in Whose precepts we find what we have short in our own life. Now we are weighed in these balances as often as we are incited after the examples of His life. Thus it is hence that it is written; Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps, Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; Who when He was reviled, reviled not again, when He suffered, He threatened not. [1 Pet. 2, 21-23] Hence it is said by Paul, Let us run with patience the race that is set before us: looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the glory set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame. [Heb. 12, 1. 2.] Accordingly to this end the Lord appeared in the flesh, that the life of man he might by dealing admonitions arouse, by giving examples kindle, by suffering death redeem, by rising again renew. And so whereas blessed Job finds in himself nothing justly deserving to he blamed, he extends the eyes of the mind to the life of the Redeemer, which surpasses all things, that he may learn by that how much he comes short, where he says, If I have walked in vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; let Him weigh me in an even balance, and let God know my simpleness. As though he said in plain speech; ‘If I have ever done aught lightly, if ever mischievously, may the Mediator between God and man appear, that in His life I may read whether I myself am really and truly simple.’ For as we have said, he who had surpassed the men of his own times, sought for the Mediator between God and man, that by being weighed in Him he might find out whether he truly maintained a life of simplicity. Therefore let him say, Let Him weigh me in an even balance, and let God know my simpleness, which means, ‘let Him cause me to know.’ As though he made open confession, saying, ‘As far as to the measure of man’s life, I see now no points in myself deserving to be found fault with, but except the Mediator between God and man appear accompanied with the precepts of an exacter life, I discover not how much I am at variance with true simplicity.’ Now the right order is observed if the foot be said first to have ‘hasted on in vanity,’ and afterwards ‘in deceit.’ For ‘vanity’ bears relation to levity, but ‘deceit’ to wickedness. And there are often persons, who are brought afterwards to things mischievous, because they do not in the first instance avoid what is light. It goes on;

Ver. 7. If my step hath turned out of the way.




12. So many times does ‘the step go out of the way,’ as our thought quits the way of the right, by the consenting of wandering. Now we as it were set as many ‘steps out of the way,’ as we are parted by bad desires from the delightfulness of the heavenly life. For as we have before stated, being still borne down by the load of corruptible flesh, we are not able to live in such a manner as that not any enjoyment of sin should be able to strike us. But it is one thing for the mind to be touched against its will, and another to be killed whilst consenting. But holy men guard themselves with more watchful solicitude in proportion as they take shame for being assaulted by the misdirected motions even of passing gratification. And hence it is yet further added;

And if mine eye hath followed mine heart.





13. See again how by the keeping of inward vigour he returns to the training of the outward members, that if the heart should perchance covet aught forbidden, the eye being kept down by the tutorage of discipline may refuse to look at it. For as it often happens that temptation is derived through the eyes, so sometimes being conceived inwardly it forces the eyes to do service to it outwardly. Thus very often an object is regarded by a mind in a state of innocence, but by that mere look the mind is pierced through by the sword of concupiscence. For it was not (as we have already remarked for the sake of illustration) that David in this way looked of purpose on the wife of Uriah, because he had entertained the desire of her; but rather he lusted after her for this cause, because he beheld her without caution. But it happens by an inquest of right recompensing, that he who employs the external eye carelessly, is not unjustly blinded in the interior eye. Now oftentimes concupiscence rules in the interior, and the mind being seduced, after the manner of a despotism requires the senses of the body to drudge to its occasions, and obliges the eyes to serve its pleasures, and so to say opens the window of light to the dark of blindness. Hence holy men, when they feel themselves to be assailed by a wrong enjoyment, by the tutorage of discipline they withhold the very eyes themselves by which the likeness of the shape is introduced into the mind, lest the sight acting the pander should do the bidding of unhallowed thought. Which same if it ever be forborne to be guarded with nice particularity, uncleanness of thought presently passes into execution. Hence too it is directly added;

And if any blot hath cleaved to my hands.




14. Thus the holy man, knowing well that very often wrong thought comes into the mind through the eyes, said a little above; I made a covenant with mine eyes that I would not even think on a maid. Reflecting likewise that sometimes it springs up in the mind, while on its springing up so the eyes wickedly do service to it, he says, If mine eye hath followed mine heart. As though he said in plain speech, ‘Neither did I wish to see in general things I might long after, nor in looking did I ever follow after the things that I longed for.’ So then let him say, If mine eye hath followed mine heart. Because even if his mind as being human ever did conceive aught unlawful, his eyes, bound down by the tutoring of higher discipline, it would not should follow it in things forbidden, and drudge to its service. Let us consider our own consciences with reference to these points, and what height this man was of let us see from the sunkenness of our own breast. See, if he did occasionally imagine things unlawful, because he speedily dispatched them within the depths of the heart with the sword of holy vigour, he suffered them not to reach so far as to deeds. Hence as we have set down before, he thereupon adds; And if any blot hath cleaved to my hands. For when does a blot cleave to the hands, i.e. sin to the actions, which sin the censorship of discipline did not suffer to make progress in thought? For neither is sin permitted to issue into act, if it be despatched inwardly where it has its birth. But if there is not a speedy resisting of temptation springing up in the heart, it is strengthened by that very delay by which it is fed, and coming forth without in deeds, it is with difficulty able to be overcome, because the very mistress of the members, the mind within, it holds a captive. Now because the holy man had brought forward all the particulars conditionally, if had ever been guilty of these, he binds himself with a sentence of malediction, saying;

Ver. 8. Then let me sow, and let another eat; let my offspring be rooted out.





15. After the manner of Sacred Revelation we call it to ‘sow’ to preach the words of life. Thus it is hence the Prophet says, Blessed are ye that sow upon all waters. [Is. 32, 20] For the preachers of Holy Church he saw to ‘sow upon all waters’ because they bestowed the words of life, like grains of heavenly bread, upon all peoples far and wide. But to ‘eat’ is to be filled to the full with good works. Hence Truth saith by Itself; My meat is to do the will of Him That sent Me. [John 4, 34] So then, if the things that he gave forth, he forbore to do, he says; Then let me sow, and another eat. As though he said in plain words; ‘What my mouth utters let not me but another man put in practice.’ For the preacher who in his ways is at variance with his own words, sows going hungry what another may eat; because he is not himself fed by His own seed, when by wrong conduct he is made void of the rightness of his word. And because it very often happens that the disciples hear what is good to no purpose, when by the life of the master it is destroyed by the example of actions, it in rightly subjoined; yea, let my offspring be rooted out.


16. For ‘the offspring’ of the teacher is ‘rooted out,’ when he who is born by the word, is killed by the example, because him whom the heeding tongue begets, heedlessness of the life kills. For neither should we pass over with an insensible mind, that in Solomon the woman killed in sleeping the child, whom she was used to suckle being awake; [1 Kings 3, 19] in this way, because masters awake indeed in knowledge, but asleep in life, upon their hearers, whom they nourish by the watches of preaching, whilst they neglect to do the things that they say, through the sleep of insensibility inflict death, and by neglecting overlay those whom they appeared to be feeding with the milk of words. Hence generally whilst they live themselves in a blameable way, they are at once unable to have disciples of a praiseworthy life, and endeavour to draw over the disciples of others to themselves, that so, whilst they shew themselves to have good followers, in the judgments of men they may excuse the evil things that they do, and as it were by the life of those under them cover their deathdealing negligence. Whence in that place the woman, because she had killed her own, sought for another’s child. Yet the sword of Solomon discovered the true mother, because surely what man’s fruit may live or what man’s die, the wrath of the Strict Judge in the final Judgment brings to light. Where this too is to be regarded with a discreet eye, that the child is first bidden to be divided whilst living, in order that afterwards it may be restored to the mother only, because in this life the disciples’ life is in a manner allowed to be divided, whereas it is sometimes the case that from that life one man is permitted to have merit with God, and another man to have praise with men.


17. But the feigned mother did not fear for him to be put to death, whom she did not bear; because masters that are presumptuous and unacquainted with charity, if they are not able to win the fullest character of praise from the disciples of others, hunt down their life with cruelty. For being set on fire with the firebrand of envy, they are not minded for those to live to others whom they see that they cannot themselves possess. Whence in that place the bad woman cries out, Let it be neither mine nor thine. [ib. v. 26] For as we said, those whom they do not see to be at their command for temporal glory, they grudge should live to others through truth. But the true mother is at pains that her child may at least be with a stranger woman and live, because genuine masters yield it that by their disciples others indeed should have the praise of preceptorship, if, this notwithstanding, those same disciples do not lose wholeness of life. Through which same bowels of pitifulness this same true mother is known, because all tutorage is tested in the trial of charity, and she alone has earned to receive the whole, who as it were gave up the whole; because the faithful rulers, for this that they not only do not envy others’ praise derived from their own good disciples, but also implore for them usefulness for advancement, do themselves receive back the children at once whole and living, when in the Last Inquest from the lives of those they obtain the joys of perfect recompensing. These things we have delivered in few words out of course, that we might point out in what way the offspring of hearers is through the negligence of the teachers made to be extinct; because whosoever does not live according to that which he speaks, uproots by practice from the stedfastness of righteousness those whom he has begotten by speech. But blessed Job never by his way of acting put an end whilst sleeping to those whom by his preaching he had brought forth whilst awake; and therefore he says with confidence, Then let me sow and another eat, let my offspring be rooted out; which same still examining himself touching the defilement of bad practice, adds;

Ver. 9. If mine heart has been deceived by a woman, or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door.





18. Though it sometimes happens that the sin of fornication is not at all different from the guilt of adultery, seeing that Truth saith; Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her, hath already committed adultery with her in his heart. [Matt. 5, 28] (For whereas an adulterer is called by the Greek word, ‘moechus,’ whilst not another man’s wife but a woman is forbidden to be looked at, ‘Truth’ openly shews that by the mere look alone, when only one that is unmarried is vilely lusted after, adultery is perpetrated.) Yet generally speaking the thing is differenced according to the situation or order of the person lusting, that is to say in this way, that purposed concupiscence in like sort defiles one in sacred orders, as the sin of adultery defiles that other. Nevertheless in persons not dissimilar, the same guilt of lust is made different, in whose case that the sin of fornication is distinguished from the guilt of adultery, the tongue of the great Preacher bears witness, who asserts amongst the rest, saying, Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterersshall inherit the kingdom of heaven. [1 Cor. 6, 9] For whereas he subjoins sentence to severally distinguished guilt, he shews how very greatly it differs from itself. By this then that is spoken, If my heart hath been deceived by a woman, the holy man is proved not even to have entertained a thought connected with the defilement of fornication. But by this that he adds; Or if I have laid wait at my neighbour’s door, he openly makes known that he was clear of the guilt of adultery. But perchance a person may say to this, ‘What does the holy man assert extraordinary about himself, if he did preserve himself clear not only from the guilt of adultery, but likewise from the defilement of fornication?’ But we rate these things at little, if we fail to consider the times of his virtuous achievements. For there had not as yet gone forth for the restraining of the flesh the stricter monitorship of revealed grace, which not only blames wantonness of the body, but also of the heart. There had not as yet gone forth the excellencies of chastity of numbers living in continence as patterns for our imitation, yet did blessed Job afford examples of purity, which he had not received. But by numbers even now after the prohibition of God there is impurity of the flesh committed. Accordingly it ought to be inferred from hence, seeing that so great an offence now even after the commandment is perpetrated in heavy matters, with what great praiseworthiness was abstinence kept before in heavy matters. And if he ever had done this thing, he prays for that sin to be turned into punishment to him, saying;

Ver. 10. Then let my wife be a harlot unto another, and let others bow down upon her.




19. And because it is generally the case that that thing which in the doing of, we do not well consider how heinous it is, in the suffering it we do consider this; the force of that atrocity which, if he were guilty, he declares that he himself ought to undergo, he makes plain by expressing it, saying;

Ver. 11, 12. For this is an heinous crime; and the chiefest iniquity. For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and that rooteth out all increase.


There is this difference between ‘sin’ and ‘crime,’ that all crime is sin, but not all sin is crime. And in this life there are numbers without crime, but no one can be without sins. And hence the holy preacher, when he was describing a man worthy of the grace of the priesthood, never said, ‘if any be without sin,’ but if any be without crime. [Tit. 1, 6] But who can be without sin, when John saith, If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [1 John 1, 8] In which same distinction of sins and crimes it deserves to be considered, that occasional sins pollute the soul, while crimes slay it; whence blessed Job in characterizing the crime of lust says, It is afire that consumeth to destruction, in this way, that the heinousness of this atrocity not only stains to the length of defilement, but devours to the extent of destruction. And because howsoever many other good deeds there may be, if the enormity of lust is not washed out, they are overwhelmed by the immensity of this crime, he added going on, and rooting out all offsprings, for ‘the offsprings’ of the soul are good practices. Which soul, nevertheless, if the right order being reversed, the flesh exercises dominion over, all the things that are put forth well are consumed by the fire of lust. For before the eyes of Almighty God the works of righteousness and of pitifulness are none at all, which are shewn to view unclean by the infection of corruptness. For what does it profit, if a man heartily [‘pie’] compassionates the need of his neighbour, whilst he heartlessly [‘impie’] destroys himself, being the habitation of God? So then if by purity of the heart the flame of lust be not quenched, any virtues whatever spring up in vain, as it is spoken by Moses; For a fire is kindled in Mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth, with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains. For ‘a fire consumes the earth and her increase,’ when lust consumes the flesh, and all things done well thereby. For whatsoever comes forth belonging to the fruitage of righteousness, this, surely, the flame of corruption burns up. So, then, let him say, For it is a fire that consumeth to destruction, and that rooteth up all increase. Because if there be no stand made against the mischief of corruptness, even those things assuredly come to nought, which seemed to be good. But some there are whom bad qualities are apt to bring down to humility, and good ones exalt to pride of heart. So then it is necessary for us to enquire, whether blessed Job in this extraordinary pureness of chastity was at the same time humble? Now the holy man, whilst he held the highest range of virtues, plainly discourses what low thoughts he entertained of himself, when he subjoins,

Ver. 13. If I despised to submit to judgment with my man-servant or with my maid-servant, when they contended with me.




20. For he who did not refuse to be ‘judged with menservants and maid-servants,’ clearly shews that against no fellow-creature was he at any time swoln with pride in himself. But herein it is interesting to remark with what circumspection the holy man preserved his life in all respects. For not far above he said, The young men saw me, and hid themselves: and the aged arose and stood up. The princes refrained talking, and laid their hand on their mouth. The nobles held their peace, and their tongue cleaved to their throat. [Job 29, 8. &c.]While now he says; If I have despised to submit to judgment with my man-servant or with my maid-servant, when they contended with me. Who might be able proportionately to view these high counterpoises of virtues in this holy man? In whom there is so great authority of governance that princes are bound to silence, such lowliness of heart, that ‘maid-servants’ are permitted to come to ‘judgment’ on an equal footing. See how in a wonderful way he appears in power superior to princes, in contest on a level with servants; in the assemblage of princes mindful of his office, in contest with domestics mindful of his creation. For he beholds himself a servant under the real Lord, and therefore he does not in loftiness of heart lift himself up above servants. And hence he adds directly;

Ver. 14. For what shall I do, when God riseth up to judge; and when He seeketh, what shall I answer Him?




21. He who thinks on the Judge to come, is unceasingly day by day preparing the cases of his accounts for the better: he who views the Eternal Lord with trembling of heart, is forced to abate the rights of temporal lordship over those under him. For he considers well that it is nothing that he is set above others in time, when for the rendering account he is beneath Him, Who exercises dominion without end. For oftentimes transitory power hurries away the soul along the sleeps of self-exaltation. And because every one is lifted up in the degree that he sees that he is himself above any persons, it is needful that he ever have regard to Him, Who is above himself, that by the fear of Him, Who is above all things, he may keep down the growing inflation of mind within. For he knows who they are beneath himself, but let him consider under Whom he himself is, that by the considering of the true Lord, the swelling of counterfeit lordship may die off. Hence blessed Job, because he feared the Judgment of Him, Who is above all things, here comes to temporal judgment the equal of servants, saying, If I despised to submit to judgment with my man-servant or with my maid-servant, when they contended with me. For what shall I do, when God riseth up to judge? and when He seeketh, what shall I answer Him? Which same, that he might always keep down the heart in humility, never in these servants sees that the condition is unlike to himself, but that the nature is common. Whence also he adds,

Ver. 15. Did not He Who made me in the womb make him? And did not One make us in the womb?




22. To persons possessed of power, the equality of creation kept in the thoughts is great goodness of humility. For all of us men are equal by nature, but it has been added by a distributive arrangement, that we should appear as set over particular persons. So then if we keep down from the imagination that thing which has accrued temporarily, we find out the sooner that which we are naturally. For very often the power vouchsafed presents itself to the mind, and deceives it by high-swoln thoughts. And so by the hand of lowliest reflection the inflation of self-exalting must be kept under. For if the mind in itself descends from the top of the height, it quickly finds the level of the equality of nature. For as we have before said, nature has begotten all of us men equals, but, the order of merits varying, the secret appointment sets some above others. But the very diversity, which has been added from defect, is rightly ordered by the judgments of God, that whereas every man does not go the way of life in a like way, one should be governed by another. But holy men, when they are in authority, do not look to the power of station in themselves, but to the equality of creation, nor do they rejoice to be above, but to be of use to their fellow-creatures. For they know well that our old fathers are recorded to have been not so much kings of men, as shepherds of flocks. And when the Lord said to Noah and to his sons, Be fruitful, and multiply, and, replenish the earth, He adds, and the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth. [Gen. 9, 1] For He says not ‘be upon the men who were to be,’ but, be upon every beast of the earth.


23. Since man is by nature set over the irrational animals, but not over the rest of mankind, and therefore it is said to him that he should be feared by the beasts and not by men; because it is to swell with pride against nature, to desire to be feared by an equal. Though very often even holy men desire to be feared by those under their charge, only however when they discover that by those their subjects God is not feared, that by dread of man at least they may fear to sin, who do not dread His judgments. Never then do they being set in authority swell with pride from this fear being sought, in that they seek therein not their own glory but the righteousness of those under their charge. For in this, viz. that they exact for themselves fear from persons living badly, they as it were rule not men but brute animals; because surely, in whatsoever respect those under authority are bestial, in that respect they ought also to be bowed down under fear.


24. But when there is wanting evil, that may have to be corrected, they rejoice, not for the eminency of power, but for the equality of constitution, and they not only shrink from being feared by them, but also from being honoured beyond what is necessary. Nor yet do they think that it is a light loss to humility which they undergo, if perchance for their merit they be reckoned by them of too much rank. It is hence that the chief Shepherd of the Church, when on Cornelius worshipping him, he saw honour offered him which was above him, quickly refers to the equality of his creation, in the words, Stand up, I myself also am a man. [Acts 10, 26] For who does not know that man should be bowed down to his Creator, and not to man? Therefore because he saw that his fellow-creature humbled himself to him beyond what he ought, that the mind might not be made to swell beyond the boundaries of human nature, he owned himself to be ‘a man,’ that he might dash down the exaltation of the honour offered to him, by the equality of his creation being had an eye to. Hence the Angel, on being worshipped by John, owned himself to be a creature, saying, See thou do it not, I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren. [Rev. 19, 10] Hence the Prophet, when he is caught away to see sublime things, is called ‘Son of man,’ that being carried to the heavenly scenes, he might remember that he was man. [Ez. 3, 1] As though the divine voice admonished him in plainer words, saying, ‘Remember what thou art, lest thou be exalted by those things, whereunto thou art caught up, but moderate the loftiness of the revelation by the remembrance of thy creation.’ So then from this it is to be gathered, with what remembrance of a common nature the swelling of earthly power ought to be kept under in the heart, if by the name of man’s nature it is effected that elevation of the heart should not be engendered by heavenly mysteries. Which same human nature blessed Job effectually kept the recollection of at all times, in that he says, Did not He that made me in the womb, make him? And did not One fashion us in the womb? As though he said in plain words, ‘Wherefore should not we be examined on an equal footing in the trial of any matter, who are made with equal conditions by the power of the Creator? But whereas we have made ourselves acquainted with the achievements of his chastity and of his humility, let us now acquaint ourselves with the deeds of his munificence. It goes on;

Ver. 16. If I have denied what they wished for to the poor, or have caused the eyes of the widow to wait.




 25. By these words the holy man is shewn not only to have ministered to the need of the poor, but also to their desire of having. But what if the poor wished those very things, which perchance it might not be for their good to receive? Is it that, because in Sacred Scripture the lowly are used to be called ‘poor,’ those only are to be accounted the things the poor wish to receive, which the humble seek? And surely it is required, that every thing should be unhesitatingly given that is asked for with true humility; i.e. whatsoever is begged for not from desire but from necessity. For it is to be henceforth very full of pride, to desire any thing beyond the limits of want. And hence it is said to persons asking with pride, Ye ask, and ye receive not, because ye ask amiss. [James 4, 3] Because then they are genuinely poor, who are not blown out through the spirit of pride; which same ‘Truth’, plainly represents, when He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit; [Matt. 5, 5] it is well said in this place by the holy man, If I have denied what they wished for to the poor. Because they that wish those things, which same it is clear are not expedient for them, by this alone, that they are overflowing with a spirit of pride, are not henceforth poor. But blessed Job, seeing that he called the humble ‘poor,’ refused not whatsoever the poor man was minded to receive from him, because every truly humble person did not even wish to have what it could not be that he ought to have.


26. But whereas he points out the bountifulness of his spirit, because he shews that he had met the poor to the wish, it is necessary that we enquire whether he had obscured the light of mercifulness by backwardness in the giving. Hence he subjoins; Or caused the eyes of the widow to wait. He would not have the widow that besought him ‘to wait,’ that not only by the gift, but likewise by the speediness of the gift he might increase the merits of good deeds. Hence it is written elsewhere; Say not unto thy friend, Go and come again, and to-morrow I will give, when thou hast it by thee. [Prov. 8, 28] Now there are some that are used to bestow as much outwardly, but rejecting the favour of a life in common, they shrink from having the poor their fellows in domestic intercourse. Hence blessed Job, that he might teach not only that he had given much without, but also to his own presence had received all the needy in domestic intercourse, adds directly;

Ver. 17. Or have eaten my morsel alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof.




27. That is to say, reckoning that he prejudiced his pitifulness, if he ate alone what the Lord of all created in common. Which same fellowship of intercourse should be carried on within the domestic walls with those persons, by whom the rewards of eternal retribution may be promoted. Whence the holy man describes himself as having had not any indifferent person, but, for eating, the ‘fatherless’ as his companions. But these extraordinary bowels of pitifulness whether he had derived from himself, or obtained them by the grace of his Creator, let him make known. It proceeds;

Ver. 18. For from my infancy compassion grew up with me, and from my mother’s womb it came forth with me.




28. For though commiseration was a thing at his own command, that it should gain growth with himself, yet it is plain that it was not a thing at his own command that it should ‘come forth from the womb along with himself.’ Therefore it is plain that he attributes nothing to his own goodness, in that surely he bears witness that he received this same by the gift of his creation. The good then which he implies that he had derived from his creation, it is assuredly plain that he tells to the praise of the Creator, shewing that it was from Him and no other that he had obtained that he should he pitiful, from Whom he obtained that he should be; because as by his own act he was not created in the womb, so neither by his own goodness was he full of pity from the womb. But it is to be taken thought of by us that he declares; it grew up with me. For there are some who as they grow to years, go off from innocency. But whilst to the Elect the age of the body increases without, within, if it may be allowed to say so, the age of virtue increases. It goes on;

Ver. 19, 20. If I despised any passing by, because he had no covering, and a poor man without clothing, if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep.




29. Because he did not despise the poor, he displayed the virtue of humility; and because he covered him, of pitifulness. For these two virtues ought to be so linked together, as to be even supported by reciprocal practice; that so neither humility, when it reverences a fellow-creature, should abandon the grace of free giving, nor pity, when it gives, be made to swell high. Thus towards the need of a fellow-creature, let pity sustain humility, humility sustain pity, so that when thou seest one who is a sharer of thine own nature lacking the necessaries of life, thou shouldest neither through pitilessness cease to cover him, nor from pride cease to reverence him, whom thou dost cover. For there are persons who the moment they are entreated for necessaries by their brethren in need, afterwards intending to bestow gifts on them, first let loose words of insult against them. Which persons though in things they execute the office of pity, yet in words lose the grace of humility, so that for the most part it seems that they are now paying satisfaction for an injury inflicted, when after abuse they bestow gifts. Nor is it a thing of high practice, that they give the things that are begged for, because by the very boon of their giving they scarcely cover over that transgression of speech. To which persons is it well said by the book of Ecclesiasticus, To every gift give not the bitterness of an evil word. And again; Lo, a word is better than a gift? and both are with a man that is justified, [Ecclus. 18, 15. 16.] i.e. that a gift should be exhibited through pitifulness, and a good word bestowed through humility. But on the other hand, others are not forward to support their needy brethren with things; but only to cherish them with soft words. Which persons the holy preaching of James strongly rebukes, saying, If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled: notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body: what shall it profit you? [Jam. 2, 15. 16.] Which persons the Apostle also admonishes, saying, My little children, Let us not love in word, neither in tongue: but in deed and in truth. [1 John 3, 18] For our loving affection must always be shewn forth at once by respectfulness of speech, and by the service of almsgiving.


30. But it has very great efficacy for taming down the pride of a person in giving, if when he gives earthly things, he considers with good heed the words of the Heavenly Master, Who says, Make to yourselves friends of the Mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. [Luke 16, 9] For if by the friendships of those we obtain everlasting habitations, assuredly we ought to reflect when we give, that we are rather offering presents to patrons, than bestowing gifts on the needy. Hence it is said by Paul, That now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, and their abundance also may be a supply for your want. [2 Cor. 8, 14] That is, that we may heedfully consider, that those whom we now see in need, we shall one day see in abundance, and we, who are beheld abounding, if we neglect to bestow alms, shall one day be in need. He then who now gives temporal support to the poor man, hereafter to receive from him everlasting supports, so to say, for fruit as it were cultivates land, which pays back more abundantly what it has received. It remains then that exaltation should never spring up by benefaction, since, surely, the rich by that which he bestows on the poor man, brings it to pass that he should not be poor for everlasting. Accordingly, blessed Job, that he might carefully shew with what reflection humility and mercifulness were united together in him, says, If I despised any passing by, because that he had no covering, and a poor man without clothing: if his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep. As though he said in plain words; ‘In the love of a fellow-creature, keeping down by one and the same appointments both the evil of pride and of unpitifulness; any one passing by both humbly, on beholding him, I despised not, and mercifully I warmed him. For whosoever lifts himself above him that he gives any thing to with the height of self-exaltation, achieves a greater offence by carrying himself proudly within than a recompense by giving alms without, and he himself is made bare of interior good, when in clothing the naked he, despises him, and so brings it to pass that he is rendered worse than his very own self, in proportion as he fancies himself better than his neighbour in need. For he is less in need who is without a garment, than he who is without humility. Whence it follows, that when we see those who are sharers of our own nature without external things, we should reflect how many good things of the interior are wanting to ourselves, that so the thought of our heart may not exalt itself above the needy, in that it sees with an eye of penetration that we ourselves are the more really in want, in proportion as it is more inwardly.


31. And because there are some who cannot stretch the bowels of their compassion so far as to persons unknown to them, but pity those only whom they have learnt to pity by constancy of acquaintance, with whom, in fact, intimacy avails more than nature, whilst to particular persons they give things necessary, not because they are men, but because they are acquaintance, it is well said by blessed Job in this place; If I despised any passing by because that he had no covering. For to a fellow-creature unknown he shews himself compassionate, in that he calls him ‘any passing by,’ because, surely, with a pitiful mind nature has more avail than acquaintance. Since even every individual who is in want, by this mere circumstance, that he is a man, is not any longer unknown to him. It goes on;

Ver. 21. If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, even when I saw myself uppermost in the gate.




32. It was the custom with those of old that the elders should sit at the gate to make out by judicial trial the quarrels of persons at strife, in order that the city, in which it was befitting that they should dwell in concord, they should never enter at variance. And hence the Lord saith by the Prophet, Establish judgment in the gate. [Amos 5, 15] In this place then what is set forth by the title of the ‘gate’ but that thing which was used to be done in the gate? For as we talk of the ‘camp fighting’ instead of this, that there is fighting from the camp, so judgment that used to be tarried on in the gate, is called ‘the gate.’ Thus he ‘sees himself uppermost in the gate,’ who sees that by the title of just dealing he is of the better side in judgment. Accordingly, blessed Job, because he did not even then put forth his hand against the fatherless, when even by the claim of justice he saw himself the better one, teaching to us the rule of fear, says, If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, even when I saw myself uppermost in the gale. As though he said in plain words, ‘Not even then had I the mind to enforce by power the interests of my own advantage against the fatherless, when I saw myself even by justice the better one in judgment.’ For holy men, when they are subject to matters of disputings with inferior persons, whilst they are afraid to bear heavily even in the least circumstances, never shun to be themselves pressed upon contrary to justice. For they know that all human justice is charged to be injustice, if it be judged strictly by God. Whence that thing which is at their command, they guard against exacting with passionateness, lest it chance that the Righteousness Above try their actions with exactness. But that they may be able to be found just in the Divine Inquest, very often before the judgments of men they suffer themselves to be borne hard upon even unjustly. Now in relating the lofty height of his life, they are many and wonderful things that blessed Job delivered. But because it very often happens that the human mind refuses to believe the good things that it does not know how to put in practice, he directly adds the sentence of a curse upon himself, if aught of those things which he had spoken he did not fulfil in act, saying,

Ver. 22. Then let my shoulder fall from its joining, and mine arm be broken in pieces along with its bones.






33. Because bodily action is carried on by the shoulder and the arm, if the good things which he put forth with the lips he did not fulfil in deed, he wishes to himself ‘the shoulder to fall,’ and ‘the arm to be broken in pieces.’ As though he said in plain words, ‘If the things that I said I refused to do, this very member of my body, which was given to me for working withal, may I lose, that surely that may fall from the body which I would not exercise to advantage.’ But if this sentence of a curse is to be referred to a spiritual meaning, it is doubtless plain that the arm is joined to the body by the shoulders, and as by the arm good practice, so by the shoulder the knitting together of social life, is denoted. Whence too the Prophet, regarding the holy peoples of the Church universal, that should serve God in concord, says, And they shall serve Him with one shoulder. [Zeph. 3, 9] Herein then that he says, If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw myself above in the gate. He declares that he had preserved a wonderful force of patience, who declined not the being borne hard upon by the least considerable persons, no not when it was contrary to that which might justly be open to him. Which thing if he had not done, he adds, May my shoulder fall from its joint. Because, undoubtedly, he who is indifferent to observe patience, soon gives up a social life from impatience. For ‘the shoulder falls from its joining,’ when the mind, not being able to bear aught of contradiction, abandons brotherly concord, and it is as if a member were severed from the body, when he who might do what is good is cut off from the general unity of all the good. For never can concord be preserved excepting through patience only. For frequently there arises in human conduct occasion whereby the minds of men are liable to be reciprocally separated from their union and affection. And except the mind prepare itself for the undergoing things that are contrary, surely the shoulder does not hold fast to the body. Thus hence it is that Paul says, Bear ye one another’s burthens, and so ye shall fulfil the law of Christ. [Gal. 6, 9] Hence Truth says by Itself, In your patience ye shall possess your souls. [Luke, 21, 19]


34. Now upon the ‘shoulder falling,’ it is rightly subjoined, Let mine arm be broken in pieces with its bones; because without doubt all our practice, with whatsoever virtues it may seem to be accompanied, is undone, except that through the bond of brotherly love patience be preserved safe. For he foregoes to do good deeds of his own, who refuses to bear evil deeds of others. Since on being wounded by the heat of an angry spirit, a person recoils from loving, and when he does endure to be borne hard upon outwardly, he darkens himself inwardly by the light of charity being lost; nor does he now see where to stretch out the foot of good practice, who has lost the eye of love. But ‘the shoulder of the holy man does not fall from its joining,’ in this way, because his loving affection does not depart from the concord of social life through impatience. And his arm is not broken, because all his practice is preserved in the joining of the shoulder, i.e. in the binding together of charity. Now with what thought present to him he did these good things of such great magnitude, and kept himself from all bad ones, he adds, saying,

Ver. 23. For I always feared God like waves swelling over me, and I could not endure the weight of Him.





35. From the terror that belongs to such a likeness let us reflect what wonderful force of fear there was in the holy man. For when waves swelling hang over us from on high, and when they threaten that death, which they bring down, there is then no concern for temporal things with the voyagers, no enjoyment of the flesh is brought back to mind. Those very things as well they cast forth from the ship, for the sake of which they took long voyages; all things are brought into contempt to their mind by love of living. Accordingly he ‘fears God as waves swelling over him,’ who whilst he desires the true life, despises all things that here he carries possessing. For when caught by a tempest, we as it were cast out the freight of the vessel, when from the soul that is overborne we remove earthly desires. And it comes to pass that the vessel being lightened floats, which by being loaded was sinking, seeing that doubtless the cares that weigh down in this life, drag the mind into the depth. Which mind is borne so much the higher amidst the billows of temptations, in proportion as it is more heedfully emptied of thought of this world. But there is another circumstance also that ought to be viewed with a regardful eye relating to the tossing of the sea. For when a storm arises, first slight waves, and afterwards greater billows are stirred up, finally the waves lift themselves up on high, and by their very height overturn all them that are at sea. Thus, thus surely does that last tempest of souls hasten that it may overwhelm the whole world. For now it shews us its beginnings by wars and havocs as by a kind of waves, and in proportion as we are daily made nearer to the end, we see heavier billows of tribulations rushing in upon us. But at the last all the elements being in commotion, the Judge from Above when He comes bringeth the end of all things, because at that time surely the tempest lifts the waves to the heavens. Whence too it is said, Yet a little while and I will shake not only the earth, but heaven also. Which same tempest because holy men regard with lively attention, they as it were dread ‘the waves swelling over them’ day by day, and by these tribulations, which strike the world, they forecast what things may follow.


30. Now it is well added; And I could not bear the weight of Him, because he who views with mind engrossed the coming of the final Judgment, sees doubtless that such great terror is impending as he not only dreads then to see, but even now dreads that he foresees beforehand. For by the beholding of that great terribleness the soul quivers with dread, and turning aside the eyes of its attention, it refuses to behold that which it foresees. Therefore it is well said, And the weight of Him I could not bear. Because the power of the Majesty Above when It comes to Judgment, and the terribleness of that great Inquest, when the mind by considering endeavours to make out, directly falling back to itself, it is afraid at its having found it out. But herein it is to be considered that blessed Job says these things concerning himself after having been pained and smitten. If then at all events for the advancement of his merits he was so stricken, who so feared, how is he to be stricken, who despises? How shall the judgments of God weigh down those who lift themselves up, if even those they weigh down for a time, who always dread these things in humility? How shall he be able to endure the weight of God, who contemns, if this same weight even he underwent under the rod, who foresaw in fear. Whence with the utmost earnestness we ought to dread that inquest of so great strictness. Now it is plain that in this life, when he smites, if amendment follows the stroke, it is the discipline of a Father, not the wrath of a Judge, the love of One correcting, not the strictness of One punishing. And so by that very present scourge itself the eternal judgments ought to be weighed. For hence we ought with the greatest pains to reflect, how that anger may be borne that casts away, if that anger of His which purifies may scarcely now be borne.