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The last eleven verses of the thirty-third chapter and the eighteen first verses

of the thirty-fourth chapter are expounded, and striking truths are taught concerning Christ the Mediator, contemplation, the course of conversion,

and the pastoral office.




1. It was in speaking of the power of the Divine dispensation, that Eliu observed of the sufferings of each of the Elect, saying, His soul will draw nigh to corruption, and his life to the destroyers. And in speaking of the trials of a single person, he shews in what condition of trial the whole human race is placed; and in mentioning what specially befals individuals, he plainly intimates what takes place generally in all. For he so described the temptation of certain persons, taken in themselves one by one, that the temptation of all men in a body might be also understood thereby. For the whole body of the Elect suffers in this life under the pain of this labour. He therefore immediately introduced a general remedy to cure this general malady, saying,

Ver. 23, 24. If there shall be an Angel, speaking for him one of like things to shew the righteousness of man, he will pity him.




2. For who is this Angel, but He who is called by the Prophet, The Angel of mighty counsel? [Is. 9, 6. lxx.] For because to declare is called “evangelize” in Greek, the Lord in announcing Himself to us is called ‘Angel.’ [as Is. 63, 9] And he well says, If there shall be a messenger [or Angel] speaking for him; [Rom. 8, 26] because, as the Apostle says, He even intercedes for us. But let us hear what he says for us; One of like things. It is the way with medicine to cure disease sometimes by similar, sometimes by contrary, remedies. For it has frequently been wont to cure the hot by warm, and the cold by cold, applications; and on the contrary, the cold by warmth, the hot by cold. Our Physician then, on coming to us from above, and finding us oppressed with such great diseases, applied to our case something of a like, and something of a contrary, nature. For He came to us as Man to men, but as a Just One to those who were in sin. He agreed with us in the truth of His nature, He differed from us in the power of His righteousness. For sinful man could not be amended, except by God. But it was necessary that He who was healing him, should be an object of sight; in order that He might amend our former sinful lives, by setting a pattern for us to imitate. But it was not possible that God could be seen by man; He therefore became man, that He might be seen. The Holy and Invisible God appeared therefore as a visible man, like ourselves; that while He seemed to be of like nature, He might teach us by His holiness. And while agreeing with our condition in verity of nature, He might put a stop to our sickness by the might of His skill.


3. Because then the Lord, when coming in the flesh, did not bear our guilt for His own fault, nor our punishment as a matter of necessity, (for untainted by spot of sin, He could not be involved in our condition of guilt, and therefore voluntarily underwent our death, when He so willed, every kind of necessity lying beneath His feet [‘calcata’],) it is rightly said, that that messenger speaks, in behalf of man when tempted, ‘one of like things,’ because He was neither born as other men, nor was like them in His dying, or His rising again. For He was conceived, not by the cooperation of natural intercourse, but by the Holy Spirit coming on His Mother. [Luke 1, 35] And when born He proved the fecundity of His Mother’s womb, though preserving its virgin purity. But again, we all die when we do not wish it; because we are constrained through the sinfulness of our nature to pay the debt of punishment. But He, from having no admixture of sin, did not submit to any punishment as a matter of necessity. But because He subdued our guilt by triumphing over [al. ‘condemning’] it, He underwent our punishment out of pity for us; as He Himself says, I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again. [John 10, 18] Who had also said before, No one taketh it from Me; but I lay it down of Myself. But again, He was not raised again like other men; because our resurrection is deferred to the end of the world, while His was celebrated on the third day. And we indeed rise by Him, for He rises by Himself. For He Who was God needed not, as we, to be raised up by any one else. In this then does His resurrection differ from ours, that we do not rise again of ourselves, as He did. For since we are simply men, we need some superior assistance to enable us to rise. But He as God displayed the same power of raising [Oxf. Mss. ‘resuscitationis.’ edd. ‘rising.’] again with the Father and the Holy Spirit, though He alone in His human nature had experience of it. Because then the Lord, though truly born, truly dead, and truly raised again, differs from us, in all these points, in the greatness of His power, but agrees only in the verity of His nature, it is well said that that Messenger speaks for us one of like things. For since He surpasses us in all His doings with His immeasurable power, yet in one point, the verity of His nature, He does not differ from us.


4. He speaks in our behalf to the Father, through that in which He shews Himself to be like us. For His speaking or intercession is His proving Himself to be very Man for man’s sake. And well, when he had said, He says one of like things, he immediately added, that he might declare the righteousness of man. Because, if He had not become like unto men, man would not appear just before God. For He announces our righteousness, by the very fact ‘that He deigned to take on Himself our infirmity. [Heb. 2, 16, 17] For that fatal persuasion had polluted us all with the infection of sin from our very origin; [Gen. 3, 3] and there was no one who, in speaking to God in behalf of sinners, could appear free from sin; because an equal guilt had involved all alike who were created from the same lump. Therefore the Only-begotten of the Father came to us, and assumed our nature without committing sin. [Rom. 5, 12] For it was requisite that one who could intercede for sinners should be free from sin, because doubtless He could not wipe away the infection of others’ guilt, if He had to bear His own. It is well said then, that in appearing in our likeness He announced righteousness to men. For He proved Himself, in interceding for sinners, to be so righteous a Man as to merit forgiveness for others. It follows,

Ver. 24. He will pity him, and will say, Deliver him from going down to corruption; I have found a way to propitiate for him.




5. The Mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus, shews mercy on man, by having assumed the form of a man. Through this compassion He says to His Father on behalf of redeemed man, Deliver him from going down to corruption. For as we before said, His saying, Deliver him, is His shewing forth man’s nature free by taking it upon Him. For by that flesh which He assumed, He proved the freedom of this also which He redeemed. This ransomed flesh is, in truth, ourselves, who are fettered by the consciousness [al. ‘condition.’] of our guilt. But by the righteousness [‘aequitate.’] of so mighty a Redeemer are we set free, as He says Himself, If the Son hath set you free, ye shall be free indeed. [John 8, 36] And in behalf of this ransomed man it is well said, That he go not down to corruption. For it had been said above, His soul shall draw near to corruption. It is declared afterwards, That he go not down to corruption. As if He were to say, Because he is aware, from a sense of his infirmity, that he is not far from corruption, therefore let him not descend to the death of corruption. For he would rightly go down to corruption, if he were to consider that by his own strength he was far removed from it. But because he has approached thereto with humility, he ought to be mercifully delivered therefrom; that the more he confesses he is weak by nature, he may be the more strengthened against the sins which assail him. For whoever extols himself above his proper condition, is weighed down by the very burden of his pride, and plunges himself the lower, the more he has rushed into the sin of pride, and has separated himself far from Him Who is truly exalted; [Luke 14, 11] and he sinks the more to the bottom, from the very fact, that he considered himself in union with the highest; as is said by the Prophet to the soul which exalts itself, The more beautiful thou art, go down, and sleep with the uncircumcised. [Ez. 32, 19] For every one who neglects to consider the hideousness of his infirmity, but looks through haughtiness of pride to the credit of his virtue, sinks the lower, from his being more beautiful. Since from priding himself on his merits, he falls into the lowest depths of destruction, on account of the very qualities, for which he considered himself worthy of honour. And he descends and sleeps with the uncircumcised, because he perishes in eternal death with other sinners. Because then this man humbly confessed that he was near to corruption, it is well said of him, Deliver him from going down to corruption; in order that he may the more escape punishment, from his not turning his eyes towards what is wrong. But because there was no one for whose merits the Lord could have needs been reconciled to us, the Only-begotten of the Father, taking on Himself the form of our infirmity, alone appeared just, in order that He might intercede for sinners.


6. And the Messenger, when speaking in behalf of this ransomed man, well says, I have found a way to propitiate for him. As though the Mediator between God and man were plainly to say, Because there was no one to appear before God as a righteous intercessor in behalf of man, I have made Myself a Man, to gain propitiation for mankind; and in manifesting Myself as a Man, I found a way of justly propitiating for him. And because the Lord, in taking on Him infirmity, when He endured our punishment in His death, reversed our corruption by His rising again, that Messenger fitly subjoins the sufferings of our mortal state, and shews pity on them, saying,

Ver. 25. His flesh is consumed by punishments, let him return to the days of his youth.




7. For when that first man fell from God, we were driven from the joys of Paradise, and were involved in the miseries of this mortal life; [Gen. 3, 23. 24.] and we feel, by the pain of our punishment, what a grievous fault we committed by the persuasion of the serpent. For having fallen into this state, we have found nothing, out of God, except affliction. And because we have followed the flesh, through the sight of the eyes, we are tortured by that very flesh which we preferred to the commands of God. For in it we daily suffer sorrow, in it torture, in it death; that the Lord by a marvellous economy might convert that, by which we committed sin, into a means of punishment; and that the severity of punishment might spring from the same source as that which had given rise to sin; so that man might be disciplined to life by the bitter suffering of that very flesh, by the pride of delighting which he had drawn near to death.


8. Since then the human race was oppressed by the innumerable sufferings of this life in the flesh, but both the guilt and punishment of our sin were blotted out by the coming of our Redeemer, let it be said of redeemed man, His flesh is consumed with punishments; let him return to the days of his youth. As if he were to say, Through the punishment of his mortality, he is cast down, as it were, by the age of his old condition; let him return to the days of his youth; that is, let him be renewed in the integrity of his former life, that he may not remain in the state in which he has fallen, but return on his redemption to that for the enjoyment of which he was created. For Holy Scripture is frequently accustomed to put youth for newness of life. Whence it is said to the Bridegroom on his approach, The young damsels have loved Thee: [Cant. 1, 3] that is, the souls of the Elect, renewed by the grace of Baptism, which do not yield to the practices of the old life, but are adorned by the conversation of the new man. For he in truth was bewailing the age of the old man which was wasting away in the midst of sins, who says, I have become old amongst all mine enemies: [Ps. 6, 7] and some one also on the other hand, advising a person to rejoice in virtue, says, Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth. [Eccles. 11, 9] As though he were saying, Let each man who is strong rejoice in his renewal; that is, let him place his joy not in the pleasures of his old life, but in the virtue of his new conversation. But since we are brought back to this strength of new life, not by our own powers, but by the mediation of the Redeemer, let the Messenger say, in interceding for this man under the rod, Let him return to the days of his youth. And because, as our Redeemer intercedes to the Father in our behalf, we ourselves shake off the torpor of our former life, and are inflamed with a thirst for prayer, it is well added of ransomed man,

Ver. 26. He shall pray unto God, and He will he favourable unto him.




9. He says that the Messenger implores first, and man afterwards; for did not the Lord first intercede with the Father through His Incarnation, and pray for our life, our insensibility would never rouse itself to ask for those things which are eternal. But the entreaty of His Incarnation came first, that our awakening from sloth might afterwards follow. But because the light of truth bursts forth with secret joy in our hearts, after temptations, and frequently after great griefs, it is rightly added of this man thus tempted, and imploring God,

And he shall see his face in exultation.




10. It was stated above, how God bears us down [‘afficit’] by manifesting Himself to us. But it is now stated how He cheers us, while He thus makes Himself known. For a man hath compunction in one sort, when on looking within he is frightened with dread of his own wickedness, and in another when on looking at heavenly joys he is strengthened with a kind of hope and security. The one emotion excites tears of pain and sorrow, the other tears of joy. For it is called exultation [‘jubilum’], when joy unspeakable is conceived in the mind, a joy which can neither be concealed, nor yet expressed in words. It betrays itself however by certain motions, though not expressed in any suitable words. And hence David the Prophet, on seeing that the souls of the Elect conceive a joy too great for them to bring out in words, declares, Blessed is the people that knoweth exultation. [Ps. 89, 15] For he says not “that speaketh,” but “that knoweth,” because exultation can be known in the understanding, though it cannot be expressed in words. For that which is too high for feeling, is felt therein. But since the mind of him who feels it is scarce sufficient for its contemplation, how can the tongue of the speaker suffice to tell of it? Because, then, when the light of truth pierces our hearts, it makes us at one time full of sorrow, from its display of strict justice, and delights us at another by disclosing inward joys: after the bitternesses of temptations, after the sorrows of tribulations, it is fitly subjoined, He shall see his face in exultation.


11. For the fire of tribulation is first darted into our mind, from a consideration of our own blindness, in order that all rust of sins may be burnt away. And when the eyes of our heart are purged from sin, that joy of our heavenly home is disclosed to them, that we may first wash away by sorrow that we have done, and afterwards gain in our transports a clearer view of what we are seeking after. For the intervening mist of sin is first wiped away from the eye of the mind, by burning sorrow; and it is then enlightened by the bright coruscations of the boundless light swiftly flashing upon it. At which sight, seen after its measure, it is absorbed in a kind of rapturous security; and carried beyond itself, as though the present life had ceased to be, it is refreshed in a manner by a kind of new being. The mind is then besprinkled with the infusion of heavenly dews from an inexhaustible fountain. It there discerns that it is not sufficient for that enjoyment, to which it has been hurried, and from feeling the truth, it sees that it does not discern how great that truth is. And it counts itself to be further removed from this truth, the nearer it approaches to it, because unless it beheld it in a certain degree, it would never feel that it was unable really to behold it.


12. The effort therefore of the mind is driven back, when directed towards it, by the bright encircling of its boundless nature. For filling all things with itself, it encircles all things; and our mind does not expand itself to comprehend that boundless object which encircles it, because the imperfection of its own circumscribed state keeps it within narrow bounds. It accordingly falls back at once to itself, and having seen as it were some traces of truth before it, is recalled to a sense of its own lowliness. But yet this unsubstantial and hasty vision, which results from contemplation, or rather, so to speak, this semblance of a vision, is called the face of God. For we, who recognise a person by his face, not unnaturally call the knowledge of God, His face. Whence Jacob says, after he had struggled with the Angel, I have seen the Lord face to face. [Gen. 32, 30] As though he were to say, I know the Lord, because He Himself has deigned to know me. But Paul declares that this knowledge will take place most completely in the end, when he says, Then shall I know, even as I am known. [1 Cor. 13, 12] Because then, after the contests of labours, after the waves of temptations, the soul is often caught up in rapture, in order that it may contemplate a knowledge of the Divine Presence, (a Presence which it can feel, but which it can never fully enjoy,) it is well said of this man who is tempted, after his many labours, He will see His face in exultation. But because the more a man contemplates heavenly things, the more does he amend his earthly doings, after the grace of contemplation he fitly adds the righteousness of his doings.

And He will render to man his righteousness.




13. It is called our righteousness, not as being of ourselves, but as made ours by the Divine bounty: as we say in the Lord’s prayer, Give us this day our daily bread. [Matt. 6, 11] See we both call it ours, and yet pray for it to be given us. For it becomes ours, when we receive it: but yet it is God’s, because it is given by Him. [Luke 11, 3] And it is therefore God’s, as of His gift, and it becomes truly ours, by virtue of our accepting it. It is in this way then that God in this place renders to man his righteousness: not that which he had of himself, but that which he received, having been so created as to have it; and in which, having fallen, he would not continue. God therefore will render to man that righteousness unto which he was created, that he may take delight in clinging to God, that he may dread His threatening sentence, that he may no longer trust the alluring promises of the crafty serpent.


14. For our ancient enemy ceases not daily to do the very same thing which he did in Paradise. For he endeavours to pluck out the words of God from the hearts of men, and to plant therein the false blandishments of his own promising. He day by day softens down the threatenings of God, and invites to the belief of his false promises. For he falsely promises temporal blessings, to soften down in men’s minds those eternal punishments which God threatens. For when he promises the glory of this life, what else does he do but say, Taste, and ye shall be as gods? [Gen. 3, 5] As if he said plainly, Lay hold on worldly desires, and appear lofty in this world. And when he endeavours to remove the fear of the Divine sentence, what else does he say but the very words he used to our first parents, Why hath God commanded you that ye should not eat of every tree of paradise? [Gen. 3, 1] But because man has, by the Divine gift, recovered on his redemption that righteousness, which he lost long since after his creation, he exerts himself more vigorously against the allurements of crafty persuasion, because he has learnt by experience how obedient he ought to be; to the Divine command. And him whom sin then led to punishment, his own punishment now restrains from sin: in order that he may be the more fearful of offending, the more, through the fear of punishment, he blames the evil he has done. Whence it follows,

Ver. 27. He will look on men, and will say, I have sinned.




15. He would not know himself to be a sinner, if he had not righteousness. For no one detects his own deformity, except when he has begun to be upright. For he who is altogether deformed, cannot perceive what he really is. But he who is conscious that he is a sinner, has begun in some measure to be righteous; and from being righteous, blames his conduct when yet unrighteous. And by this accusation of himself he begins to cleave to God; when, passing a righteous sentence against himself, he condemns that in himself, which he perceives to be displeasing to Him. This man then, having regained his righteousness, exclaims, I have sinned. And the expression which precedes deserves notice, He will look on men; and it is then subjoined, and will say, I have sinned. For some persons know not that they have sinned, because they do not observe men. For were they to observe men, they would more readily acknowledge how much they had fallen beneath men by sin. And though Holy Scripture is sometimes accustomed to put “men” for those who savour the things of men, as the Apostle says, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, immediately subjoining, Are ye not men? [l Cor. 3, 3] Yet sometimes it calls those ‘men,’ whom reason distinguishes from the beasts, that is, whom it shews to be unaffected by the bestial influence of passions. To whom the Lord says by the Prophet, Ye, the flock of My pasture, are men. [Ez. 34, 31] For the Lord in truth feeds them, whom carnal pleasure does not affect as it does the beasts. But, on the other hand, they who yield to the desires of the flesh, are no longer called men, but beasts. As is said by the Prophet of some who were dying in their sins, The beasts rolled in their dung [E.V. The seed is rotten under their clods.] [Joel 1, 17] For for beasts to rot in their dung, is for carnal men to finish their life in the filth of lust. For they are said to be no longer men, but beasts, of whom it is said by the Prophet, Every one was neighing after his neighbour’s wife; [Jer. 5, 8] and of whom another Prophet says, Their flesh is as the flesh of asses, and their issue the issue of horses. [Ez. 23, 20] And hence it is said by David, Man, when he was in honour, did not understand, he has been compared to senseless beasts, and made like to them. [Ps. 49, 20] Since then those are called men, who are supported by reason and justice, and those are termed irrational animals, who are slaves to carnal pleasure, it is well said of this penitent, He will look on men, and will say, I have sinned. As though it were said, He beholds the examples of holy men, and considering himself in comparison with them, he discovers that he is sinful. For if a person is desirous of most completely learning his real character, he ought no doubt to look at those who are different from himself: that from the comeliness of the good he may measure the extent of his own deformity, by that of the goodness he has left. For by those who possess every good quality in abundance, he rightly considers of what he is in want. And he beholds in their beauty his own deformity, which he is able to endure within himself, but not to perceive. For a man who wishes to judge of darkness ought to look at the light, in order to see by it what to think of that darkness, by which he is prevented from seeing. For if a sinner looks at himself, without having learnt the character of the righteous, he in no way comprehends himself to be a sinner. For he cannot really see himself; for not knowing the brightness of the light, what else, on looking at himself, does he behold but darkness? We ought then to look at the conduct of the righteous, in order to gain an accurate knowledge of our own. For what they seem to be, is proposed as a kind of model for our imitation.


16. The life of good men is a living study; whence the same righteous men are not undeservedly termed books in the language of Scripture; as it is written, The Books were opened, and another Book was opened, which is the Book of Life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the Books. [Rev. 20, 12] For the Book of Life is the very sight of the approaching Judge. In this are written as it were, all His commands, for whoever beholds it, soon understands by the testimony of conscience what he has omitted to do. The Books also are said to be opened, because the conduct of just men, in whom the commands of heaven are seen impressed in act, is then made manifest. And the dead were judged out of those things which are written in the Books; because in the conduct of the righteous, which is set forth, they read as in an open book the good which they refused to do themselves, and are condemned on comparison with those who did it. In order therefore that each one then beholding them may not lament his own omissions, let him now observe in them what he should imitate. And this the Elect do not cease to do. For they study the conduct of their betters, and leave off their more depraved course of conduct.


17. And hence in the Song of Songs it is said to Holy Church by the voice of the bridegroom, Thy two breasts are like two twin kids of the she goat, which feed among the lilies, until the day breathe, and the shadows incline. [Cant. 4, 5. 6.] For what are the two breasts, except the two peoples coming from Jewry and from among the Gentiles, who are implanted in the body of Holy Church, by the purpose of wisdom, upon the secret of the heart. And they who are elected from these people, are compared to the young of the she-goat, because they are conscious through their humility that they are weak and sinful; but if any obstacles meet them in the way of worldly impediment, as they are hastening on by the power of love, they bound over them, and with the leaps of contemplation climb to the knowledge of heavenly things. And in order to do this, they study the examples of the Saints who have gone before. Whence they are said to feed amongst the lilies. For what is meant by lilies, but the conduct of those who say with all truth, We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ? [2 Cor. 2, 15] The Elect, therefore, in order to gain strength to attain the highest eminence, feed themselves to the full by beholding the sweet-scented and pure life of the just. They even now thirst to know the Lord, they burn with the fires of love, to be satiated with the contemplation of Him. But because they are unable to do so while still in this life, they feed meanwhile on the examples of the fathers who preceded them. And hence the time of their feeding on the lilies is appropriately defined by the words, Until the day breathe, and the shadows incline. For as long as we are passing along the shades of this mortal state, till the dawn of the eternal day, we need to be refreshed with the examples of the righteous. But when the shade of this temporal corruption has inclined, when this mortal state has passed away, because we behold the light of the day itself within us, we do not seek to be kindled with the love of it by the examples of others. But now, since we cannot as yet behold it, it is specially necessary for us to be roused by looking at the conduct of those who have followed it perfectly. Let us see then how beauteous is the activity of those who pursue their course, and learn how disgraceful is the sloth of the sluggish. For as soon as we behold the conduct of the virtuous, do we condemn ourselves with the punishment of confusion within. Shame presently assails the mind; soon does guilt condemn us with just severity: and we are sore displeased even with that, in which perchance we still disgracefully feel pleasure.


18. Whence it is well said by Ezekiel, Son of man, shew the temple to the house of Israel, that they may be confounded by their iniquities, and measure the fabric, and blush for all that they have done. [Ez. 43, 10, 11] For the temple of God. is shewn to the children of Israel to their confusion; when it is shewn to sinners to their confusion, with what great sanctity the soul of each righteous person shines forth, which God inhabits by His inspiration; in order that they may see therein the good which they slight, and blush in themselves at the evil which they commit. But to measure the fabric, is accurately to weigh the conduct of the righteous. But while we measure the fabric, we must needs blush at all that we have done: because the more accurately we consider and enquire into the conduct of the good, the more severely do we reprove in ourselves all our iniquity. But the Prophet is rightly told, to shew the temple. For since a sinner makes shifts not to consider the righteousness of the just, he should learn it at all events by the voice of the preacher. But to shew the temple to sinners, is to relate the deeds of the virtuous to those who refuse to consider them of their own accord. They then, as we said, who desire to attain to the highest eminence, must necessarily always attend to the progress of their superiors, in order that they may condemn their own fault with greater severity, as they behold in them a higher object of admiration.


19. But why do we say this of sinners, when we see the workers of righteousness themselves also carried forward with so high a dispensation? For one receives the gift of wisdom, and yet reaches not the grace of extraordinary abstinence. Another is endowed with great power of abstinence, but yet is not enlarged in the loftiest contemplation of wisdom. Another is able to foresee all future events by the spirit of prophecy: but yet cannot alleviate the evils of present annoyance, by the gift of healing. Another by the gift of healing alleviates the evils which immediately annoy us, but yet, from not possessing the spirit of prophecy, is ignorant of the future. Another is able to give liberally to the indigent much of what is his own, but yet cannot boldly confront the evil doers. Another boldly confronts evil doers, in God’s behalf, but yet refuses to give all his goods to the needy. Another by already constraining himself even from idle talk, subdues the wantonness of the tongue, but yet does not trample down the emotions of anger which still rise within him. Another now perfectly controls his rising passion, but still allows his tongue full range in pleasantry. What is it then, that this man needs that good quality, in which another is strong, and that another, though powerful in many ways, yet sighs for the lack of those excellencies, which he observes others abundantly enjoying? Except it be that we are so dealt with by a marvellous dispensation, that by means of this which another enjoys, and this man has not, the one may be shewn to be superior to the other: so that the more a man considers, from the virtues which he has not, that he is inferior to those that possess them, he may the more eagerly advance towards humility. And thus it comes to pass, that while they behold in each other something to admire, their separate virtues both keep them from loftiness of pride, and kindle in them a desire after greater progress. For we prepare ourselves with great anxiety to undertake our own improvement, when we observe in others that virtue which we have not ourselves. Whence the prophet Ezekiel, when he had described the flying animals, subjoined, And I heard behind me a voice of a great commotion, saying, Blessed be the glory of the Lord, from His holy place, and the sound of the wings of the living creatures, striking one against the other. [Ez. 3, 12, 13] For what must we understand by the wings of living: creatures, but the virtues of the Saints? For when they despise the things of earth, they rise on their wings to heaven. Whence it is rightly said by Isaiah, They who trust in the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall lake wings as eagles. [Is. 40, 31] The flying creatures then strike one another with their wings, because the minds of the Saints, in their desires after heavenly things, are urged on by the mutual consideration of each other’s virtues. For a man strikes me with his wing, who kindles me with desire of better things by the example of his own holiness. And I strike with my wing the next living creature, if ever I present to another person a good deed for him to imitate.


20. But since we have said that the conduct of holy men is signified by these living creatures, let us raise our eyes to the light, and consider attentively with what mutual beating of their wings they excite each other. For Paul, when he surpassed the carefulness of other holy men, by labouring more vigorously in preaching, that he might keep himself from pride, and nourish his strength in the bosom of humility, declares in remembrance of his former cruelty, and on contemplating the innocence of all the Apostles, For I am the least of the Apostles, that am not meet to be called an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God. [l Cor. 15, 9] And yet the chief [‘primus,’ ‘principatus.’] of these same Apostles, as though in forgetfulness of the preeminence conferred on him, as if he were endowed with less wisdom, admires the wisdom which was in Paul, saying, As our most beloved brother Paul also, according to the wisdom given unto him, hath written unto you, as also in all his Epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood. [2 Pet. 3, 15. 16.] Lo, Paul admires innocence in the Apostles; lo, the chief of the Apostles admires wisdom in Paul. What then is this, except that holy men who mutually prefer others to themselves, from a consideration of their virtues, as flying animals touch each other with the stroke of their wings, in order that they may excite each other to higher flights, the more humbly they observe something in each other to admire? We must therefore infer from hence how anxiously we, who are lying in the lowest depth, should study the lives of those who are our superiors; if even they, who have already arrived at ‘such a height of sanctity, are ever looking out for something to admire and imitate in others, in order that by walking in humility they may advance to greater things.


21. But of these things the reprobate are ignorant: for they ever fix their eyes on the lowest objects. And if ever they come into the way of the Lord, they proceed not to trace the footsteps of those who are better, but always to look at the examples of those who are worse than themselves. Nor do they look at the conduct of those to whom they may humbly consider themselves inferior, but of those to whom they may proudly prefer themselves. For they look at those who are worse than themselves, to whom they boast that they are preferable, and therefore they cannot advance to better things, because they consider it sufficient for them that they surpass the very worst. Wretched men! they go on in their way, and yet look backward. In their hope indeed they do as it were put a foot before; but in looking to evil examples they turn their eyes behind them. They are anxious to appear upright, but take a crooked standard by which to find that they are such. For if they wish to know themselves as they really are, they should look at the examples, not of those who are worse, but of such as are better, than themselves. And therefore they are not conscious that they are sinners, because they do not look at ‘men.’ For were they to look at men, they would discover how far removed they were from good men, by their sins. Of this penitent then, who considers the examples of good men, in order to make it clear to himself how grievously he has departed from goodness, it is well said,

Ver. 27. He will look on men, and will say, I have sinned, and have truly done wrong, and I have not received as I deserved.




22. Those even who do not believe that they have sinned, generally confess themselves sinners. For it is frequently the case, that men openly confess themselves sinners, but on hearing a true account of their sins, when other persons attack them, they boldly defend themselves, and endeavour to appear innocent. Every one, then, of this character, if he says that he has sinned, speaks untruly; inasmuch as he proclaims himself a sinner not from the inmost heart, but in words only. For since it is written, The just man in the beginning accuseth himself [E.V. He that is first in his own cause seemeth just.], [Prov. 18, 17] he wished to gain credit, not to be humbled, by confessing his sin: he desired, by accusing himself, to appear humble, without being so. For did he really wish to be humble, by confessing his sin, he would not attack others when convicting him of the commission of it. The righteous then, in passing sentence on his own conduct, knows from the bottom of his heart, by the examples of holier men, that he really is what he professes to be. For he says, I have sinned, and have truly done wrong. And adds further of the very pain which he is enduring, and have not received as I deserved.


23. For every one when under the rod, thinks still less of his sins, if he considers that he has been smitten either as, or more than, he deserved. But this man, because the more he considers the examples of greater men, the more strictly does he weigh and test himself, acknowledges that he was smitten less than he deserved. Because he sees, from their righteousness, how heinous is the guilt of his own erring, and does not feel his suffering to be severe, from having learned to pass a severe sentence on his own conduct. But it is very easy for a man, when suffering nothing on account of his sins, to confess himself a sinner. We fearlessly call ourselves unrighteous, when we feel no vengeance for our unrighteousness. For in a time of tranquillity we call ourselves sinners, but when chastened for these very sins, by the blow which falls on us, we murmur. Punishment then puts us to the test, whether we truly acknowledge our fault. Let a righteous man then, from regarding his fault severely, say, even under the rod, I have not received as I deserved. It follows,

Ver. 28. For he hath delivered his soul from going onwards

to destruction.




24. Because when Divine Grace goes before us in good works, our free will follows it, we, who yield our consent to God Who delivers us, are said to deliver ourselves; and hence Paul when saying, I laboured more abundantly than they all, [1 Cor. 15, 1] for fear he should seem to ascribe his labours to himself, immediately added, Yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. For since he had followed with his free will the preventing grace of God in him, he properly adds, with me, that he might neither be unthankful for the Divine gift, nor yet remain a stranger to the merit of free-will. But of him, who by gaining a knowledge of himself consented to Him Who set him free, he rightly says [al. ‘it is rightly said.’], He hath delivered his soul from going onwards to destruction. It follows,

But that it should live, and see the light.


That is to say, the light of truth, which he could not see when dead in heart. Or certainly, because the Lord has said, I am the Light of the world, [John 8, 12] even the dead also shall behold the light, when all the ungodly shall have seen Him coming to judgment in the form of Manhood. But he lives, or beholds the light at that time, who has the eyes of his heart set free, and beholds Him in the form of the Godhead. It follows,

Ver. 29. All these things God worketh three times with every man.




25. Of this man tempted and beaten by the scourge it had been said before, His bread becomes abominable to him in his life, and his soul hath drawn nigh to corruption, and his life to the destroyers. [ver. 22] But it was subsequently added, He shall pray unto God, and He will be favourable unto him, and he will see His face with joy; and he hath delivered his soul from going onward to destruction, but that it should live, and behold the light. [ver. 26] In these expressions, then, now collected and accumulated together, the bitterness of sorrow precedes, the joy of security comes after. And it is presently added, All these things God worketh three times with every man. As if he were to say, What I have said once of one person only, takes place three times in every person. But we must carefully consider what are these three times, wherein each man is affected with anxiety and sorrow, and is immediately after sorrow called back to the security of joy. For, as I before said, he had stated above, that grievous sorrow first depresses [‘afficit’] us, and that great delight raises us up afterwards. If we watch then attentively, we find that these three stages of sorrow and joy succeed each other, in the mind of each of the Elect, in these following ways, that is to say, in his conversion, his temptation, and his death.


26. For in that first occasion of conversion, which we have mentioned, great is the sorrow of a man, when, from considering his own sins, he wishes to burst the fetters of worldly cares, and to walk in the way of God along the course of a secure conversation, to cast aside the heavy burden of temporal anxieties, and to bear the light yoke of the Lord, in a bondage akin to freedom. For as he thinks on these things, there occurs to his mind that old familiar carnal pleasure, which, from having become inveterate, binds him the closer, the longer it has held him; and is the more loath to permit him to escape. And then what pain is there, and what anxiety of heart, when the Spirit calls him on one side, the flesh calls him back on the other, his love for his new life invites him on the one hand, his old depraved habits assail him on the other: on the one side he glows with longings for his heavenly country, and on the other has to bear in himself that desire of the flesh, which pleases him to a certain degree, even against his will? Of a man thus embittered it is rightly said, His bread becomes abominable to him in his life, and his soul hath drawn near to corruption, and his life to the destroyers. But because Divine Grace does not suffer us to be long exposed to these difficulties, it bursts the chains of our sins, and leads us quickly by its consolation to the liberty of our new life; and the joy which succeeds makes up for the former sorrow. And thus the mind of every one when converted rejoices the more on attaining its wishes, the more it remembers the pain it has endured in its endeavours after them. Unbounded is the joy of the heart: because in its hope of security it now draws near to Him, Whom it desires; so that it can rightly be said of it, He shall pray unto God, and He will be favourable unto him, and he shall see His face with joy. Or without question, He hath delivered his soul from going onwards to destruction, but that it should live, and see the light.


27. But for fear a man should believe himself holy immediately on his conversion, and security should overthrow him, whom the contest with pain could not overpower, he is permitted, in the dispensation of God, after his conversion, to be wearied with the assaults of temptations. The Red sea was already crossed by his conversion, but enemies still oppose him to the face while in the wilderness of this present life. We leave already our past sins behind us, as the Egyptians dead on the shore. But destructive vices still assail us, as fresh enemies to obstruct the way on which we have entered to the land of promise. Our former offences, as enemies who were pursuing us, have been already laid low by the power of God alone. But the assaults of temptations meet us to our face like fresh enemies, to be overcome with our own endeavours also. Conversion in truth produces security: but security is commonly the parent of negligence. To keep security from generating carelessness, it is written, My son, in coming to the service of God, stand in justice and fear, and prepare thy soul for temptation. [Ecclus. 2, 1] For he says, not for rest, but for temptation, because our enemy is the more eager to conquer us as long as we are in this life, the more he discerns that we are rebelling against him. He cares not to buffet those, of whom he perceives that he can hold quiet possession. But he is excited the more vehemently against us, inasmuch as he is expelled from our hearts, as if from the rightful possession of his own habitation. It was this, which the Lord, in a kind of economy, typified in His own person. For he did not permit the devil to tempt Him till after His Baptism: suggesting to us thereby as a kind of sign of our own future conversion, [Matt. 4, 1] that His members would have to endure more severely the wiles of temptation, after they were beginning to advance Godwards. After the first occasion then of sorrow and joy, which every one feels in his endeavour after conversion, does this second time succeed. Because a man is assaulted with the attack of temptations, in order that he may not become relaxed by the carelessness of security. And he is generally welcomed with great sweetness of consolation, at the beginning of his conversion, but he experiences afterwards the severe labour of probation.


28. There are in truth three states of the converted; the beginning, the middle, and the perfection. But in this commencement they experience the charms of sweetness, in the mid-time the contests of temptations, but in the close the plenitude of perfection. Sweets then are first their portion, to comfort, afterwards bitternesses to exercise, and at last transcendent delights to confirm them. For every man too first soothes his bride with sweet blandishments, though he tries her when now united to him, with sharp reproofs, and possesses her, when she is proved, with thoughts of security. And hence also the people of Israel, on being summoned out of Egypt, when God betrothed Himself to the sacred marriage of the soul, was vouchsafed at first, in the place of pledges, the allurement of miracles; but, after marriage, is exercised with trials in the wilderness, and after trial, is confirmed in the land of promise with the plenitude of virtue. It first then tasted in the miracles that which it was to seek for; afterwards it was tried by hard trial, to prove whether it could keep safely what it had tasted; and at the last it also deserved to obtain a fuller enjoyment of that, which it had kept safe when put to the test of suffering. A gentle commencement therefore thus soothes the life of every convert, a rugged course proves it in the way, and afterwards full perfection gives it strength.


29. For converts are frequently granted either the most perfect tranquillity in the flesh, or the gifts of prophecy, or the preaching of doctrine, or signs and wonders, or the grace of healing, immediately on their first commencement. But after this they are harassed by the severe trials of temptations, from which, when they first began, they believed themselves entirely free. And it is thus ordained in the dispensation of Divine Grace, to keep them from being assailed with sharp temptations at their first beginning. For, if bitter temptations were to befal them at the first, they would fall back with ease on the sins they bad abandoned, as having removed but a little distance from them. For they would be again involved from their very nearness, in the sins they first despised. Whence it is also written, When Pharaoh had let the people go, the Lord led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, which is near, thinking lest perhaps they would repent, if they had seen war rising up against them, and might return to Egypt. [Ex. 13, 17] War [read ‘bella’] then is removed out of the way of those who were coming out of Egypt: because, to those who leave the world, there is presented at first a kind of tranquillity, lest from being alarmed in the tenderness of their first beginning, they should return, through fear, to that world from which they have escaped. They feel, then, first the sweetness of security, they are first nurtured in quietness and peace. But having tasted this sweetness, they endure more patiently the contests with temptations, as they have found in God a higher object of affection. Whence also Peter is first led up into the mountain, first beholds the brightness of the Lord’s transfiguration, [Mat.17, 1] and then is afterwards suffered to be tempted by a maid who questioned him; [Mat.26, 69] in order that, having become conscious of his state by his weakness under trial, he might recur with sorrow and love to the sight which he had beheld; and that, when the wave of fear was sweeping him onwards to the ocean of guilt, there might be an anchor of former sweetness, to keep him back. But the struggles with temptations frequently last as long, as the allurements on the first commencement. But frequently there is greater pleasure given at first, and less trial in the season of labour: and frequently again less pleasure at first, and greater trial in the time of labour. But a disproportionate perfection of strength never succeeds the labour of temptation: because every one is rewarded with the plenitude of perfection, according to the result of the contest. But a convert commonly fails, from believing that he has received the confirmation of perfection, when he is welcomed with certain gifts of grace, in the sweetness of his first beginning: and, from not knowing that they are only the comforts given to beginners, he regards them as the consummation of fulness. Whence it happens, that if assailed by any sudden storm of temptation, he suspects that he is overlooked by God, and lost for ever. But if he were not to place such full reliance on his first commencement, he would, when still prosperous, be preparing his mind for adversity, and would afterwards resist the assaults of sin with the more firmness, as having also foreseen them with greater sagacity. For, by foreseeing these evils, he bears them with greater calmness. But though he foresees, he does not at all decline the contest with them, for the course of our journey is not brought to a close without going through the dust of temptation.


30. But every convert is generally assailed with such temptations, as he never remembers to have been attacked with, before the grace of conversion: not because this same root of temptation did not then exist, but because it did not shew itself. For the mind of man, when engaged with numberless thoughts, frequently remains in a manner unknown to itself, so as to be quite ignorant of what it is suffering: for while it is distracted with many matters, it is diverted from the inward knowledge of itself. But if it desires to have leisure for thinking upon God, and lops off the branches of distracting thought, it then beholds without obstruction, that which springs forth from the inmost depths of the flesh. For if a thistle is growing in the road, it is crushed by the feet of those who journey along it, and its surface is worn away by the constant passing of travellers, so as not to appear. But though the thorns do not shew themselves above and bear fruit, yet the root still remains concealed beneath. But if the feel of travellers have ceased to bruise and tread it down, whatever living power remained buried in the root soon rises to the surface, and shews itself. It advances in its growth, and comes into view by the thorns that it bears. So also in the heart of the worldly minded, some secret root of temptations seems to grow up with difficulty; for placed as it were in the pathway of daily life, it is crushed by the feet of thoughts which pass over it, and is so trodden down by countless cares, as if by many travellers, as not to be seen. But if the crowd of anxieties is removed by the grace of conversion from the pathway of the heart, so that no importunity of business wears, nor any tumultuous thoughts oppress it, then that which was before concealed is discerned, then the thorn of temptation, springing from the root of sin, freely inflicts its wound. But the hand of the righteous so acts against it, that, as far as may be, it is not covered and concealed, but torn up by the very roots. But till this is done, this thorn so troubles the mind of every convert, that he frequently feels as if nearly overwhelmed by sudden temptation, and fears that its wound has been inflicted with fatal effect to the very quick.


31. But these assaults of temptation are frequently prolonged when they become common, and become, not sharper, but of longer duration. And then they cause less pain, but do more hurt: for the longer they keep hold of the mind, the less terrible do they become, the more usual they are. The mind therefore, when involved in these trials, is distracted here and there, and is confused by the manifold assaults of temptations, and frequently, when summoned from one point to another, it knows not which assailing sin to oppose, or which first to assault itself. It is hence frequently the case that, while rebellious sins severely torture, while they drive to the very brink of desperation the mind of the person who withstands them, a convert is afraid of this very heavenward path, which he chooses as a remedy, and that he stumbles, as it were, when brought to the summit, who used to stand more firmly at the bottom. But he is so hard pressed by the movements of temptations, which rage around him, that it may be rightly said of him, His bread becomes abominable to him in his life, and to his soul the food which before it desired; [ver. 22] or without question, His soul hath drawn near to corruption, and his life to the destroyers. But because God in His mercy suffers us to be proved by our temptations [‘probari reprobari’], not to be cast away, (as it is written, But God is faithful, who does not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it, [1 Cor. 10, 13]) He speedily succours us with the aid of consolation, assuages the rising pangs of temptations, and calms with inward peace the emotions of the thoughts which rise up against Him. And then the mind soon derives great delight from its hope of heaven, on beholding the evil, which she had endured, overpowered. So that of this man tempted and delivered it may be justly said, He shall see His face with joy; and, He hath delivered his soul from going onward to destruction, but that it should live and behold the light. When these two stages then, that is of conversion and probation, have been passed in sorrow and in joy, there yet remains the third, whose sorrow he has still to fear, and whose pleasures he has to obtain.


32. For after the struggle of conversion, after the pain of probation, there still remains a hard temptation; because he cannot arrive at the joys of perfect liberty, without the debt of human nature is first paid. But every convert, being careful and anxious for himself, ceases not to consider secretly with himself, with what strictness the eternal Judge is coming, and he daily looks forward to his own end, and before the approach of such severity of justice, considers what account he will have to render for his conduct. For though he has avoided all evil deeds, which he could tell to be such, yet as having to come before a strict Judge, he is the more afraid of those faults, of which he is not conscious in himself. For who can understand how many evils we commit every instant, by the irregular motions of our thoughts? For it is easy enough to avoid deeds of wickedness, but very difficult to cleanse the heart from unlawful thoughts. And yet it is written, Woe to you who think on that which is unprofitable. [Mic. 2, 1] And again, In the day when the Lord shall Judge the secrets of men, [Rom. 2, 16] after having said before, Their thoughts mutually accusing or excusing one another. [ib. 15] And again, Crafty lips in heart, and in heart they have spoken evil. [Ps. 12, 2] And again, For in your heart ye work iniquity on the earth. [Ps. 58, 2] But when the soul has once forsaken the stability of eternity, and has sunk down to the instability of temporal things, it is obliged against its will to endure, in endeavouring to rise, that fluctuation of alternating emotions, which it sought of its own accord when willing to fall. And thus it is punished by its former pleasures, because it endures, as converted, the labour of the contest, in the very same things in which it sought while perverted the delight of pleasure. And frequently that very sin, which they skilfully detect in themselves, and of whose grievous guilt they are conscious in the sight of God, steals into the thoughts of the Elect against their will. And though they are ever afraid of a strict judgment for all these things, they then especially dread it, when on coming to pay the debt of nature, they see that they are drawing near the severe Judge. And their fear is the more acute, the nearer their eternal retribution approaches. But no empty imagination from the fancy of the thought flits at that time before the eyes of the heart: because when every thing else has been removed, they think of themselves only, and of Him, Whom they are approaching. Their fear increases, as the retribution of righteousness approaches nearer. And as the dissolution of the flesh is hastening on, the more the strict judgment comes, as it were, within their reach, the more mightily is it dreaded by them. And though they never remember to have passed over the things they know, they are yet afraid of those sins of which they are ignorant. Because, namely, they are unable fully to understand, and pass sentence on themselves, and, as their end draws nigh, they are harassed by more subtle fear. Whence our Redeemer, approaching His dissolution, and maintaining a resemblance to His members, fell into an agony, and began to pray at greater length. For what could He be asking for Himself when in agony, Who used, when on earth, to confer heavenly gifts with power? But on the approach of death, He represented in His own person the struggle which exists in our minds; who suffer a violent fear and dread, on approaching, through the dissolution of the flesh, to the eternal judgment. Nor is a man’s mind at that time unseasonably alarmed, when it finds, after this brief state of being, that it must remain unchanged for ever.


33. For we consider, that we have by no means been able to pass through the course of this present life without guilt. We consider also, that even what we have done creditably, is not exempt from a degree of guilt, if we are judged without mercy. For who of us can surpass or even equal the doings [‘pietate’] of the fathers who have gone before us? And yet David says, Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. [Ps. 143, 2] Paul when saying, I am conscious of nothing to myself, cautiously added, Yet am I not hereby justified. [1 Cor. 4, 4] James says, For in many things we offend all. [James 3, 2] John says, If we say that we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [1 John 1, 8] What will then the planks do, when the columns tremble? Or how will the shrubs remain unmoved, if even the cedars are shaken with the whirlwind of this fear? The soul then even of the righteous is frequently disturbed with the dread of punishment, as it approaches the dissolution of the flesh. And though it may have lasted some tranquillity in this life, it is staggered when the instant of its death comes on; so that it may be rightly said of him, His bread becomes abominable to him in his life, and to his soul the food which before it desired. Or certainly, on account of the punishment of fear, that which is there subjoined, His soul hath drawn near to corruption, and his life to the destroyers.


34. But because the souls of the righteous are frequently purified, through the mere fear of death, from every trifling pollution, and enjoy the pleasures of eternal recompense from the very moment of the dissolution of the flesh; nay very often they rejoice at the sight of the inward recompense, even before they are stripped of the flesh; and because even while paying the debt of their old nature, they enjoy the satisfaction of the new gift, it is therefore rightly said, He shall see His face with joy. Or certainly, He hath delivered his soul from going onward to destruction, but that it should live and see the light. The soul of the righteous beholds the face of God with joy, because it feels so much of inward happiness, as it can scarce contain even when taken up to God. It therefore lives there and beholds the light, because it fixes its spiritual gaze on the rays of the eternal sun. It lives there and beholds the light, because having trampled under foot all the vicissitudes and shadows of mutability, it clings to the reality of eternity. And by clinging thus to Him Whom it beholds, it attains to a resemblance of His unchangeableness, and as it gazes at the unalterable nature of Him Who made it, it assumes it to itself. For that which has fallen through its own act into a state of change, is transformed to an unchangeable condition by beholding the Unchangeable. Eliu therefore, because he first spoke of the bitterness of sorrow, and afterwards of the joy of consolation, fitly added of this man thus afflicted and thus delivered, All these things God worketh three times in every man, that is to say, in conversion, in probation, and in death. For in these three states, a man first suffers under sharp pangs of sorrow, and is afterwards comforted by great pleasures of security. But because the mind of each of the Elect suffers in each of these three stages, that is, in the pain of conversion, the trial of probation, or the dread of dissolution, and is purified and set free by this very suffering, it is appropriately added,

Ver. 30. That he may recal their souls from corruption, and enlighten them with the light of the living.




35. For that is the light of the dying which we behold with our bodily eyes. But they who still live for this world, are in darkness in the light of the dying. But they are enlightened with the light of the living, who despising the light of the world, return to the splendor of the inward brightness, that they may live in that place where they may see, by feeling it, the true light, where light and life are not different from each other, but where the light itself is life also; where the light so encircles us from without as to fill us within; and so fills us within, as, being itself uncircumscribed, to circumscribe us without. They are enlightened therefore with this light of the living, which they behold at that time the more clearly, the more purely they now live by its aid.


36. Eliu has uttered great and very powerful words. But it is a characteristic of every boastful person, that, while giving utterance to truths and mysteries, he suddenly blends with them, through pride of heart, some foolish and proud expressions. For he endeavours to please the world without, in that which he thinks with truth; and is soon despoiled of the truth, just as through haughtiness of pride he goes back from what is inward. For, because he seeks to be approved of outwardly as a man of learning, he loses inwardly the fulness of wisdom, in which he was instructed. Whence also Eliu, (who, as we have often said, represents the arrogant,) having put forth many profound and wise sayings, as soon as he has uttered these sentiments of truth and mystery, is elated by being puffed up with pride at his wisdom. And as his pride rightly deserved, his feeling soon vents itself in empty words. For he subjoined, saying,

Ver. 31—33. Attend, O Job, and hearken unto me, and hold thy peace while I speak. But if thou hast any thing to say, answer me; speak: for I wish thee to appear just. But if thou hast not, hearken unto me; hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom.




37. He shews what opinion he has of himself by this expression in which he says, Attend, O Job, and hearken unto me, and hold thy peace while I speak. For it is enormous pride to exact respect from one’s elder, and to impose silence on one better than one’s self. But because holy preachers, when reproving others, frequently turn back to their own inmost thoughts, through the grace of humility, and seek to ascertain if perchance they are mistaken, in the very thing which they reprove, and give those, whom they reprove, the liberty of stating, in their own behalf, whatever they think more just, haughty men also sometimes wish to imitate this plan. For putting aside, for a while, their pride in words, they seek for a justification of those whom they reprove, if perchance they are able to find one. Not because it is their real feeling, but they wish to set themselves off by a show of humility. For they are afraid of appearing to be proud and haughty, because they are so. Whence Eliu immediately subjoined, saying, But if thou hast any thing to say, answer me; speak, for I wish thee to appear just. But because he did not say this sincerely, he did not wait to hear that which he had asked for. For he added immediately, But if thou hast not, hear me; hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. For those who sincerely seek to hear what is just, patiently wait to hear what they seek for. But Eliu, because he did not sincerely put forth the words of request, did not allow his question to be answered, but immediately burst forth with that, of which he was full within, and shewed how he stood in his own eyes, by saying, Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. For when proud men say any thing which has a humble sound, they do not long remain in the semblance of this same humility. If they perchance ask to have an answer, they immediately avoid being instructed, by beginning to speak; because the desire of display which springs up from its root in the heart soon checks the words which they had spoken superficially. And they soon prove that this form of humility, which they have assumed in appearance only, is foreign to their character, by being unable any longer to maintain it. Behold how Eliu, when he seeks to learn righteousness, offers to teach it. Behold how his tongue, in seeming to enquire for what is just, had spoken in humble strain. But it was soon unable to restrain his swelling consciousness of pride. For he added immediately. Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. But because haughty men are puffed up by swelling pride in what they say, and placed, as it were, on high, assume the appearance of learned men, just as if their words were poured forth from heaven by a kind of condescension, over undeserving persons, a verse is rightly inserted by the writer of this history, in order to observe,

Chap, xxxiv. 1. Eliu also pronounced and said these things likewise.




38. For what is meant by this word “pronounced” but the puffing up of pride? in order that his words, which spring from the deep root of pride, might come forth as it were with a degree of majesty and distinction. It is thus in truth that all men of arrogance are wont to speak. For they bring forth with a kind of assumption that which they believe they have gained a special understanding; and perhaps are preaching humility at the very time, when they are giving an example of haughtiness by being puffed up with pride. And hence it is that their preaching cannot remain consistent with itself; for by their perverse pride they impugn that truth, which they disseminate when they speak properly. For they impart their words to their humble auditors, not as if entering into their feelings, but as if barely condescending to them. For they consider that they are exalted on high, and, as if they were far superior, they hardly deign to turn towards their hearers, from their high eminence, a glance of doctrine. But the words of the just spring, on the other hand, from the root of humility, in order to be able to bear the fruit of piety: and they impart whatever sound advice they can, not by boasting, but by sympathising with others. For, by words of love, they so put either themselves into the place of their hearers, or their hearers into theirs, as if their hearers were teaching by their aid that, which they are being taught, and they were learning from their hearers that, which they are putting forth and teaching themselves. Let us hear then what Eliu says, representing as he does the boastful, and commencing with the display of pronouncement. It follows,

Ver. 2, 3. Hear my words, O ye wise men, and listen to me, ye learned. For the ear trieth words, and the throat discerneth meats by the taste.




39. As if he were to say, as the ear does not discern meats, nor the throat words, so a fool does not understand the sentence of the wise. Hear therefore what I say, ye wise and learned, who can understand the meaning of what has been said. Let us see then how great is his pride, who imagines that his words can be fitly heard only by the wise. But the true preacher of wisdom says, I am a debtor both to the wise, and to the unwise. [Rom. 1, 14] But the arrogant, on the other hand, in his preaching looks only for the ears of the wise. And this not because he preaches for the purpose of making men wise, but he seeks for wise men, in order that he may proudly display his sentiments. For, as was said before, he does not seek to instruct them, but to display himself. Nor does he consider how righteous those that hear him become, but how learned he appears, when listened to by the learned. But since no one would listen to the preaching of the proud, if they did not throw in some semblance of humility; Eliu, after having extolled himself with swelling words, again condescends, as it were, to put himself on a level of equality; saying,

Ver. 4. Let us choose to us judgment, and let us see among ourselves what is the best.




40. But we easily learn, by considering the words which follow, whether he sought for this judgment from humility of heart. It follows,

Ver. 5, 6. For Job hath said, I am just, and God hath subverted my judgment. For in judging me there is falsehood: and mine arrow is violent without any sin.


He complains that Job had spoken these things, [See chap. 27, 2] which the words of the sacred history prove on examination that he had never said. But he, who had sought for a judgment on equal terms, proceeds to promulgate a sentence from a fault of his own invention. For it follows,

Ver. 7, 8. What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning like water, who goeth with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men?


Behold, in seeking a judgment, he has pronounced a judgment; and after his own allegation, without waiting for any statement of blessed Job, he condemned him as deserving of condemnation from his intercourse with the wicked. For he says, What man is like Job? That we may be sure to understand, No one. And he subjoins, Who drinketh up scorning like water. For water, when drunk, is so liquid a draught, that it is not kept from being swallowed by any clamminess that it has. But to drink up scorning as water, is to mock God without any impediment in one’s thoughts, so that no fear opposes the pride, which the tongue or the mind displays. But how far this judgment of his upon blessed Job errs from the roadway of truth, we learn from that solemn declaration of God, in which He says to the devil, Hast thou considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth? [Job 1, 8] Behold how Eliu declares him to be a sinner beyond comparison, whom the Truth pronounces to be righteous beyond comparison. But it is the peculiar way with haughty preachers, that they are more desirous of strictly reproving their hearers even when distressed, than to cherish them in a kindly manner. For they study more to chide and reprove faults, than to encourage goodness with praise. For they are anxious to appear superior to other people, and they are better pleased when anger raises their feelings than when charity brings them down. They ever wish to find something, to smite sharply with reproof. Whence it is written, In the mouth of the, foolish is a rod of pride, [Prov. 14, 3] because in truth he knows how to smite sharply, but not to sympathize with humility.


41. Holy preachers are also accustomed to reprove their hearers with sharp words, and to rage with strict severity against their sins: as it is written, The words of the wise are as goads, and as nails fastened deep. [Eccles. 12, 11] But their words are rightly called nails, since they do not know how to handle gently the sins of offenders, but how to pierce them through. Were not the words of John nails, when he said, O generation of vipers, who hath shewed you to flee from the wrath to come’? [Matt. 3, 7] Were not the words of Stephen nails, when he said, Ye have always resisted the Holy Ghost? [Acts 7, 51] Were not the words of Paul, when he said, O senseless Galatians, who hath bewitched you? [Gal 3, 1] and again when saying to the Corinthians, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] But it is necessary for us to look carefully: for when righteous preachers observe on the other hand any good deeds in those whom they reprove, with what just consideration do they proceed to use these same words of reproof. Behold! Paul, when instructing the Corinthians, and seeing them guilty of the sin of schism, began by saying, I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God, which is given you in Christ Jesus, that in every thing ye are enriched by Him. [l Cor. l, 4, 5] He praised them much in saying, that they were enriched in Christ in all things. And, lo! he again multiplies his soothing expressions, by saying, In all utterance, and in all knowledge, as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you. [1 Cor. 5, 6] He said, the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, as though they had carried out in their conduct, what they had learned from his teaching. And he subjoined just after, in summing up their praises, So that nothing is wanting to you in any grace, waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. [1 Cor. 1, 7] I pray thee, O Paul, inform us what art thou aiming at by these numerous words of favour? And, lo! it follows shortly after, But I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you. For it hath been signified unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. [l Cor. l, 10. 11.] Of which contentions he afterwards added, saying, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] See with what praises he comes down to plain words of reproof; see with how gentle a hand of kindness he has opened the way for strict rebuke in the hearts of his hearers. For he first endeavoured to bind the arms of the proud by the bands of blandishments, in order to cut afterwards into the sore of their pride with the knife of correction. The Corinthians in truth possessed qualities which deserved praise, and such also as deserved reproof. The skilful physician then first caressed with praises the sound limbs about the wound, and afterwards pierced with a blow the putrid cavity of the wound. This rule of teaching has its weight with holy preachers on either side, so that they favour and cherish what is right, and cut off with punishment what is wrong.


42. But frequently holy preachers too strike severely. But it is one thing when justice urges on, another when pride puffs up. The righteous, when severely correcting, do not lose the grace of inward sweetness. For they frequently adopt the harshness of strict vigour, in order to keep in check the disorderly passions of the wicked, but they melt within with the fire of charity, and glow with affection towards those, against whom they are raging with severe reproof. And they humble themselves moreover beneath them in the secret of their heart within, while they seem to scorn and chasten them in the sight of men with the sharp stings of punishment. But they frequently both despise by not despising them, and despair by not despairing, in order that they may lead them to fear, and to shrink back the more speedily from sin, the more they point out to them that the pit of destruction is, as it were, nearer to them. But they frequently also point out their own faults to their disciples, in a kind of graceful temperament, in order that they may hear and learn, how strictly they censure themselves for their own conduct. But they regulate themselves with such judgment, as not to be severe within, even when they exalt themselves; nor again, when humbling themselves, outwardly remiss: for they keep up humility in their discipline, and discipline in their humility. Paul maintained discipline, when saying to the Corinthians, For whereas there is among you envying and strife, are ye not carnal, and walk according to man? [1 Cor. 3, 3] But even when maintaining discipline he lost not his humility; because he began by deprecation, saying, I beseech you, brethren, by the mercy of God, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no schisms among you. [1 Cor. 1, 10] Again he maintained humility, when, on speaking somewhat more at length than perhaps he had wished to the same Corinthians, he reproves himself, saying, I am become a fool. [2 Cor. 12, 11] Yet in this humility he did not give up discipline, since he immediately ‘added, Ye have compelled me. He exhibited an instance of great humility, when he said to his disciples, For we preach not ourselves, but Jesus Christ our Lord; and ourselves your servants through Christ. [2 Cor. 4, 5] But he lost not in this humility the justness of discipline, for he says to the same, offending, What will ye? shall I come to you with a rod? [1 Cor. 4, 21] and so on. Holy preachers therefore well know how to regulate their skill in teaching by moderation on either side, and when they detect the faults of offenders, they have the art to reprove severely at one time, and humbly to deprecate at another. But when haughty men seek to imitate them, they adopt from them their sharp words of reproof, but know not how to adopt from them with sincerity the entreaties of humility. For they are better able to be terrific, than gentle; and they learn accordingly reasons for setting themselves up, though they neglect to learn humility. And since they do not know how to admonish offenders with gentleness, from their habit of being over severe in angry invective, they let themselves loose even against good doers. And this Eliu, as representing such persons, does not comfort Job, but reproves him, saying, What man is like Job, who drinketh up scorning as water, who goeth with the workers of iniquity, and walketh with wicked men. And because pride is ever a stranger to truth, he presently launches out even in falsehood, saying,

Ver. 9. For he hath said, A man will not please God, even though he run with Him.




43. But that he never said so, every one acknowledges who reads the words of blessed Job. But yet what wonder, that he who speaks for the sole purpose of proudly setting himself off, invents something to find fault with in another person? For how can he adhere to “truth in his words of reproof, whom pride of mind within removes far away from the same truth? It follows,

Ver. 10. Therefore hearken unto me, Ye men of understanding.


Behold again that, puffed up by pride and haughtiness, he seeks for those only who are able to follow him, by understanding him properly; and thus bursts out with what he was thinking of, saying,

Ver. 10, 11. Let unmercifulness [‘impietas’] be far from God, and iniquity from the Almighty: for the work of a man shall He render unto him, and will restore to them according to the ways of every man.




44. He well said, that iniquity or unmercifulness is not in Almighty God. But that which he added is by no means always the case in this life, namely, that He renders to each man according to his work, and according to his own ways. [see Rev. 22, 12. 2 Cor. 5, 10.] For both many who commit unlawful and wicked deeds He prevents of His free grace, and converts to works of holiness: and some who are devoted to good deeds He reproves by means of the scourge, and so afflicts those who please Him, as though they were displeasing to Him. As Solomon bears witness, saying, There are just men to whom many things happen, as though they had done the deeds of the wicked; and there are wicked, who are as secure as though they had the deeds of the just. [Eccles. 8, 14] God doubtless so ordains it of His inestimable mercy, that both scourges should torture the just, lest their doings should elate them, and that the unjust should pass this life at least without punishment, because by their evil doings they are hastening onwards to those torments, which are without end. For that the just are sometimes scourged in no way according to their deserts, is shewn by this very history which we are considering. For the same blessed Job had not been scourged for any fault, who was praised by the attestation of the Judge Himself before the smarting of the scourge. Eliu therefore would speak more truly, if he had said, That there is not unmercifulness and iniquity in God, even when He seems not to render to men according to their own ways. For even that which we do not understand, is brought forth from the righteous balance of secret judgment. But because haughty preachers, when they scatter abroad many follies, also frequently utter many things that are true and solid, Eliu rightly subjoins,

Ver. 12. For truly God will not condemn without cause, nor will the Almighty subvert judgment.




45. The Lord said to the devil, Thou hast moved Me against him to afflict him without cause. [Job 2, 3] But Eliu says, That the Lord will not condemn without cause. A statement which is believed to be at variance with the words of Truth, unless weighed with careful consideration. For to condemn is one thing, to afflict another. He afflicts therefore in some respect without cause, but does not condemn without cause. Had He not afflicted Job in some respect without cause, since sin was not blotted out, but merit increased thereby? For He cannot condemn without reason, inasmuch as condemnation cannot take place partly for a certain purpose: since it punishes at the end all the ungodliness which any one has here committed. Nor does Almighty God subvert judgment: because, although our sufferings seem to be unjust, yet they are rightly inflicted in His secret judgment. It follows,

Ver. 13. Whom else hath He appointed over the earth, or whom hath He placed over the world which He hath made?




46. In order, namely, that thou mayest understand, No one. For He governs indeed by Himself the world which He created by Himself: nor does He need the aid of others in governing, Who needed it not for creating. But these points are brought together, in order that he might plainly point out, that if Almighty God does not neglect to govern by Himself the world which He created, He most certainly governs aright that which He created aright; that He does not order in unmercifulness that which He fashioned in mercy; and that He Who provided for their being before they were made, does not forsake them after their creation. Because then He is present to rule, Who was the First Cause at their creation, He therefore does not omit to take care of us. Whence also he fitly subjoins,

Ver. 14. If he hath directed his heart towards Him, He will gather to Himself his spirit, and his breath.




47. The heart is crooked, when it seeks for things below. It is made straight when it is raised to things above. If a man therefore direct his heart to the Lord, the Lord draws to Himself his spirit and his breath. He uses, namely, spirit for inward thoughts, but breath, which is drawn through the body, for outward actions. For God, then, to draw the spirit and breath of man to Himself, is for Him so to change us both within and without, to turn towards Him in our desires, that nothing outward may any longer please the mind, and that the flesh (even if it wishes it) may not endeavour to attain any inferior object; but that the whole man may have its inward desires kindled towards Him from Whom it springs, and may bind itself closer to Him without, by self-control. Whence also he fitly subjoins,

Ver. 15. All flesh shall fail together, and man shall return to ashes.




48. For all flesh fails together, when it is no longer a slave to its own emotions; because the spirit presiding therein restrains all its waverings, and destroys as it were with the sword of Its severity all evil which lived therein. Jeremiah had, in truth, slain himself with this sword of discipline, when he said, After Thou hadst converted me, I did penance, and after Thou hadst shewed to me, I smote my thigh. [Jer. 31, 19] For what is understood by the thigh, but carnal pleasure? And what his saying, After Thou hadst shewed unto me, I smote my thigh, except that after he spiritually beheld heavenly things, he extinguished every infirm carnal desire which used to live in him: that as heavenly objects opened upon him, he might feel less pleasure in those inferior things which he had possessed? For the more a man begins to live to things above, does he begin to die to things below. For as far as concerns the love of carnal doings, the whole flesh of Paul had perished together, when he said, I no longer live, but Christ liveth in me. [Gal. 2, 20]


49. Eliu also properly subjoined in this place, And man shall return to ashes. For every one who is involved in sin, forgets his mortal condition, and while he is still puffed up with pride, remembers not that he is earth. But when, after the grace of his conversion, he is touched with the spirit of humility, what does he call to mind that he is, but ashes? David had already returned to ashes, when he said, Remember, Lord, that we are dust. [Ps. 103, 14] And Abraham had returned to ashes, saying, I will speak to my Lord, though I am dust and ashes. [Gen. 18, 27] And though death had not yet dissolved their living flesh unto earth, yet in their own opinion they were that, which they foresaw without doubt they were about to be. Hence it is said in another place, Thou wilt take away their breath, and they will fail, and will return to their dust. [Ps. 104, 29] But what is meant by their breath, but the breath of pride? Let their breath then be taken away, that they may fail; that is, feel themselves to be nothing in themselves, when the breath of pride is withdrawn. And let them return to dust, that is, let them be humbled by their infirm condition. It is on account of this very dust, to the recollection of which those are recalled who consider themselves, that it is said by Wisdom, The righteous shall shine, and shall run to and fro like sparks among the reeds. [Wisd. 3, 7] For holy men while they mix with sinners, kindle them by the fire of their example, and reduce to ashes all their brilliancy. For consumed by the flame of holiness, they discern themselves, on looking at the infirmity of their condition, to be nought but ashes. So that when loosened from the hardness of their pride they may use the words before quoted, Remember, O Lord, that we are dust. It is well said then that when God draws the breath of a man to Himself, all flesh will fail together, and man will return to ashes. These words of Eliu are true and important. But he betrays in the words which follow that he was soon wickedly puffed up by that which he thought rightly, saying,

Ver. 16. If then thou hast understanding, hear what is said, and listen to the voice of my words.




50. All haughty men have this peculiarity, that when they perchance entertain any acute sentiment, they soon launch out in consequence into the sin of pride, that they despise the opinion of every one else in comparison with their own, and prefer themselves in their own judgment to the merits of others. It is the fate of these wretched men, to be more in the dark the more they see; for while they look at subtleties, they overlook themselves; and the more acutely they perceive their wisdom, the more fatally do they fall through pride. But they would look into subtleties to some use, if in what they bring forward they were to see themselves. For Eliu said above, If thou hast any thing to say, answer me; speak, for I wish thee to appear just. [Job 33, 32] But now he says, If thou hast understanding, hear what is said. See how his pride gradually advances in increase of expression. He doubted above whether blessed Job could bring forward what was just. He now makes it a question if he can even hear what is said. He said there, If thou hast any thing to say, answer me. As though he were to say, Say something, if at least thou wilt be able to speak worthily. But here he says, If thou hast understanding, hear what is said. As though he said plainly, Hear me, if thou wilt be able to hear worthily. These are the daily declensions which take place in the heart of the wicked, by which they are unceasingly sinking to worse; because while they carelessly neglect smaller faults, they break out wickedly into greater. It had already resulted from his pride that he doubted whether blessed Job could say what was just. But through neglecting to watch this fault in himself, he arrived at greater wickedness: so as not only to doubt that he could possibly say what was just, but even to despair of his understanding himself when speaking what was just. Wherefore the sin of pride must be cut up at once by the very roots, that when it springs up secretly it may be cut off vigilantly, so that it may not gain vigour by growth, or strength by habit. For it is a hard matter for a man to detect in himself inveterate pride, because in truth, the more we suffer under this sin, the less do we see of it. For pride is generated in the mind exactly as darkness in the eyes. For the wider it spreads itself, the more does it contract the light. Pride then grows up gradually in the heart, and when it has extended itself wider and wider, it closes entirely the sight of the mind which suffers from it, so that the captive mind can both suffer from the haughtiness of pride, and yet be unable to behold that under which it suffers. But because haughty men, as we have said, sometimes hold sound views in an unsound way, and know how to invent good arguments, but scorn to state them aright; Eliu, after the haughty pride with which he had said, If thou hast understanding, hear what is said, subjoins, saying,

Ver. 17. Can he be healed that loveth not judgment? How dost thou so much condemn him that is just?




51. He uttered a proper sentiment, but it ought not to have been uttered to blessed Job. For in every thing which is said we must by all means consider, what is said, to whom it is said, where it is said, how it is said. But Eliu considered only what he was saying, but did not consider to whom he was saying it. For blessed Job loved judgment, since he knew how to weigh his causes carefully with the Lord. Nor had he condemned Him that is just: but humbly enquired, when involved in grief, why he had been smitten when without sin. He loves judgment, whoever examines his own ways minutely, and enters into the secret chambers of his heart, and there considers what the Lord bestows on him, and what he owes to the Lord. But how had blessed Job not acted thus, who used to offer such frequent sacrifices in expiation for his sons, even on account of their thoughts? Because then Eliu said, that he that loveth not judgment cannot be healed, accusing blessed Job of not loving judgment, and of having condemned Him who is just, he immediately subjoins the righteousness of that same righteous One, that is, the Lord, saying,

Ver. 18. Who saith to a king, Apostate: who calleth leaders ungodly.




52. We know often that most of those who rule exact an inordinate degree of dread from their subjects, and that they wish them to venerate them not so much for the Lord’s sake, as in the Lord’s place. For they exalt themselves with pride of heart within, and despise all under them in comparison with themselves, nor do they advise them with condescension, but oppress them with authority: because, in truth, they set themselves up with lofty thoughts, and do not acknowledge themselves to be equal with those over whom they happen to rule. Against this pride it is said in the Book Ecclesiasticus, Have they appointed thee a ruler? Be not lifted up, but be among them as one of them. [Ecclus. 32, 1] This pride the Lord also reproving by the Prophet in shepherds, saith, But ye ruled over them with austerity and with power. [Ez. 34, 4] For the good advice which they offer to their subjects, they bring out as ordering, rather than as advising with them: for the very reason, that to say any thing to them as if they were on equal terms, they consider a degradation. For they rejoice in their singular preeminence, and not in the equality of their creation. But because the Lord carefully considers those swelling hearts of rulers, it is well said against them, Who saith to a king, Apostate. For every haughty ruler falls into the sin of apostasy, as often as, through pleasure at his ruling over men, he rejoices in his peculiar distinction. For he considers not under Whom he himself is, and exults over his equals, for that he is as it were not their equal. But whence is it that this root of evil springs up in the heart of rulers, unless it be in imitation of him, who, having scorned the society of angels, said, I will ascend above the height of the clouds, and will be like the Most High? Since then every ruler, as often as he prides himself on ruling over others, is cut off, by falling into pride, from dependence on the Chief Ruler of all: and, because when he despises his equals who are subject to him, he does not acknowledge the supreme dominion of Him under Whom all are equal; it is rightly said, Who saith to a king, Apostate.


53. But since by domineering over others they lead their subjects to impiety by the example of their pride, it is fitly subjoined, Who calleth leaders ungodly. For they would lead them into the way of piety, if they did but present a pattern of humility to the eyes of their subjects. But he is an ungodly leader, who diverges from the path of truth, and who, when falling headlong himself, invites his followers to the precipice. He is an ungodly leader who points out the way of error by setting examples of pride. Paul was afraid of being an ungodly leader, when he brought down the loftiness of his power, saying, Not seeking glory of men, neither of you nor yet of others, when we might have been a burden as the Apostles of Christ, but we became as children in the midst of you. [1 Thess. 2, 6] He had become as a child in the midst of them, because he was afraid lest he should set example of pride, if he claimed, among his disciples, the honour due to his high station. He was afraid, in truth, lest if he were to seek for himself the power of pastoral authority, the flock committed to him should follow him along precipitous places, and lest he, who had undertaken an office of piety, should be leading to ungodliness those who followed him.


54. It is therefore necessary for a person in high place to take special care what example he sets his subjects, and to know that he is living for all those, over whom he knows he is placed. He should be especially watchful not to pride himself on his being set above others, lest he should exact too immoderately the privileges of rightful authority, lest the rule of discipline should be converted into the severity of pride, and lest by the power he possessed of restraining his subjects from wickedness, he should pervert the more the hearts of those who behold him; and lest (as was before observed) he should become a leader of impiety by means of his pious office. A man, however, ought not to undertake to guide others, who does not know how to lead them in holy living; lest he, who has been appointed to reprove others’ faults, shall himself commit the sin which it was his duty to cut off. Let rulers therefore take special care to live for themselves and those under them: to hide in the bosom of their mind the good which they do, and yet furnish thereby an example of good behaviour for the benefit of those who follow them; to correct the faults of their subjects by doing judgment, and yet not pride themselves at the severity of this same punishment; to be content with slightly reproving certain faults, and yet not to relax the bonds of discipline by this lenity; to overlook, and bear with other evils, and yet not to suffer them to make head by their overlooking them. These things are laborious, and, unless Divine grace support, hard to keep. But it is rightly said by the Book of Wisdom of the coming of the strict Judge, Horribly and speedily will He appear, for a very sharp judgment shall be to them who are in high places. [Wisd. 6, 5] Since therefore people too commonly launch out into pride from the power of rule, and pride itself is counted as an impiety by the strict Judge, it is well said by Eliu of the Lord, Who calleth leaders ungodly. For when they are proud of their authority, they lead by their example those under them to impiety.


55. A person then who is appointed to rule over men, must be especially careful, within the secret chambers of his mind, to preside in the seat of humility. And when others stand before him without, as he gives his sentence, he should with watchful eye behold Him, before Whom he is hereafter to stand to be judged for these very matters: that so he may behold Him with greater confidence, when he has seen Him, the more anxiously he trembles now before Him, Whom he does not behold. Let him consider then, that he who is hardly able perhaps to satisfy so strict a Judge for his own soul, has, from his ruling over so many subjects, so many souls (so to speak) singly to answer for to Him, at the time for rendering his account. And if this thought continually penetrates the mind, it crushes all the swelling of pride. And a careful ruler will be called neither an apostate king, nor an ungodly ruler, the more anxiously he regards the power he has received not as an honour, but as a burden. For he that is well pleased at being a judge now, feels no pleasure at beholding the Judge then. For the faults which are committed from the desire of obtaining power, cannot be numbered. But authority is then alone properly exercised, when it is held not in love of it, but in fear. And in order that it may be properly administered, necessity, and not our own desire, should, in the first place, impose it on us. But it neither ought to be abandoned through fear when once undertaken, nor, again, embraced as an object of desire; for fear a person should, as if by reason of humility, be guilty of greater pride, in contemning and shrinking from the course of the Divine dispensation: or should cast off the yoke of his Heavenly Ruler, the more his own private authority over others gives him pleasure. When power then is possessed it must not be greedily loved, but patiently endured; in order that then, at the judgment, it may be a light burden to our comfort, as we know it now for a service which is heavy to be borne.