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The ninth, with the remaining verses of the thirty-ninth chapter, is explained, the last three only being omitted; and the efficacy of Divine Grace, in the preaching of the Gospel, and in the conversion of sinners, is especially demonstrated.




1. The devil, through envy, inflicted the wound of pride on healthful man in Paradise; in order that he, who had not received death when created, might deserve it when elated. But since it is competent for Divine power, not only to make good things out of nothing, but also to refashion them from the evils which the devil had committed; the humility of God appeared amongst men, as a remedy against this wound inflicted by the proud devil, that they who had fallen through imitation of their haughty enemy, might rise by the example of their humbled Creator. Against, therefore, the haughty devil, God appeared amongst men, having been made a humble Man. The mighty of this world, that is, the members of the haughty devil, believed Him to be as despicable, as they saw Him to be lowly. For the more the wound of their heart swelled up, the more it despised the soothing remedy. Our medicine therefore being spurned by the wound of the proud, came to the wound of the humble. For, God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty. [1 Cor. 1, 27] And a work was wrought upon the poor, for the wealthy proud ones afterwards to wonder at. For while they behold in them new virtues, they were afterwards astounded at the miracles of those, whose life they before despised. And thence, returning immediately with fear to their own hearts, they dreaded that sanctity in miracles, which they had scorned in precepts. Mighty things were therefore confounded by the weak; because while the life of the humble rises to veneration, the pride of the haughty has fallen. Because therefore blessed Job is a type of Holy Church, and Almighty God foresaw that, in the early times of the rising Church, the mighty of this world would refuse, with the stubborn neck of their heart, to undertake its light burden, let Him say;

Ver. 9. Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee?




2. For the rhinoceros is quite of an untamed nature, so that, if it is ever taken, it cannot in any way be kept. For, as is said, it dies immediately from being unable to bear it. But its name when interpreted means in the Latin tongue, ‘a horn on the nostril.’ And what else is designated by the nostril, but folly; what by the horn, but pride? For that folly is usually understood by the nostril, we have learned on the evidence of Solomon, who says; As a ring of gold in a swine’s nostrils, so is a beautiful and foolish woman. [Prov. 11, 22] For he saw heretical doctrine shining with brilliancy of eloquence, and yet not agreeing with the proper understanding of wisdom, and he says, A ring of gold in a swine’s nostrils; that is, a beautiful and involved expression in the understanding of a foolish mind: from which gold depends, through its eloquence, but yet, through the weight of earthly intention, like a swine, it looks not upwards. And he proceeded to explain it, saying, A beautiful and foolish woman: that is, heretical teaching; beautiful in words, foolish in meaning. But, that pride is frequently understood by a horn, we have learned on the evidence of the Prophet, who says; I said to the wicked, deal not wickedly, and to the sinners, lift not up your horn. [Ps.75, 4] What is, therefore, designated by this rhinoceros, but the mighty of this world, or the supreme powers themselves of the kingdoms therein, who, elated by the pride of foolish boasting, whilst they are puffed up by false honour without, are made inwardly destitute by real miseries? To whom it is well said; Why boastest thou, O dust and ashes? [Ecclus. 10, 9] But at the very beginning of the rising Church, when the might of the wealthy was raising itself against her, and was panting for her death, with the unboundedness of so great cruelty, when, anxious from so many tortures, and pressed by so many persecutions, she was giving way; who could then believe that she would subdue those stiff and stubborn necks of the haughty, and would bind them, with the gentle bands of faith, when tamed by the yoke of holy fear? For she was tossed about, for a long while, in her beginnings, by the horn of this rhinoceros, and was struck by it, as though to be utterly destroyed. But by the dispensation of Divine grace, she both gained life and strength by death, and this rhinoceros, wearied with striking, bowed down his horn. And that which was impossible to men, was not difficult to God, who crushed the stubborn powers of this world, not by words, but by miracles. For behold we observe daily the rhinoceroses becoming slaves, when we see the mighty of this world, who had before, with foolish pride, relied on their own strength, now subject to God. The Lord was speaking, as it were, of a certain untamed rhinoceros, when He was saying; A rich man will hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 19, 23] And when it was replied to Him; And who will be able to be saved? He immediately added; With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible. [ib. 25. 26.] As if He were saying; This rhinoceros cannot be tamed by human strength, but yet it can be subdued by Divine miracles. Whence it is here also fitly said to blessed Job, as representing Holy Church; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? Thou understandest, As Myself, Who bore for a long while with his resisting the preaching of men, but yet suddenly overpowered him with miracles, when thus I willed it. As if He said more plainly; Are they who are proud with foolish haughtiness, subjected to thy preaching, without My assistance? Consider therefore by Whom thou prevailest, and in every thing wherein thou prevailest bow down thy feeling of pride. Or certainly, what wondrous works are wrought at last by the Apostles, who subject the world to God, and bend the pride of the mighty of this world, when subdued to His power, is brought before the notice of blessed Job, to bring down his confidence, in order that blessed Job may think the less highly of himself, the more he beholds such stubborn souls gathered together to God by others, Let Him say then; Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee? Thou understandest, As it will serve Me, by means of those, whom I shall have sent. It follows;

Or will it abide by thy crib?




3. By ‘crib’ in this place, Holy Scripture itself is, not unfitly, understood; in which holy animals are fed with the food of the word. Of whom it is said by the Prophet; Thine animals will dwell therein. [Ps. 68, 10] Hence also our Lord, when born, was found by shepherds in a manger, because His Incarnation is learned in that Scripture of the Prophets, which refreshes us. This rhinoceros therefore, that is to say, every haughty person, in the beginning of the rising Church, when it heard the sayings of the Patriarchs, the mysteries of the Prophets, and the secrets of the Gospel, made jest of them; because it scorned the more to be confined and fed in the manger of the Preachers, the more it gave itself up to its own pleasures, and occupied the wide plain of its own desperation. It is this wide plain of the proud that Paul well speaks of, when saying, Who despairing, have given themselves over to lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. [Eph. 4, 19] For every one gives himself wider range in present evil, the more he despairs of attaining eternal blessings after this life. But Almighty God bore for a long time with this rhinoceros, wandering through the plain of sinful pleasure, and yet, when He willed, suddenly fastened it to His own manger, that being safely confined it might receive the food of life, lest it should entirely lose its life through fatal liberty? For behold we now see that the mighty men of this world, and its chief rulers, willingly hear the preachings of the Lord, that they constantly read them, and every where depart not from His manger; because they transgress not, in their conduct, the precepts of the Lord, which they know either by reading or by hearing, but contentedly submit to stand confined, as it were, near the food of the word, that by feeding and abiding there, they may become fat. But, when we behold this wrought by God’s agency, what else do we behold but this rhinoceros abiding at the manger? But since this rhinoceros, after it has received the food of preaching, ought to display the fruit of good works, it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 10. Wilt thou bind the rhinoceros with thy band to plough?




4. The bands of the Church, are the precepts of discipline. But to plough, is to cleave with the ploughshare of the tongue the soil of the human breast by earnestness of preaching. This rhinoceros therefore, which was before proud and stubborn, is now bound and fastened by the bands of faith; and he is led from the manger to plough, because he endeavours to make known to others also that very preaching, with which he has himself been refreshed. For we know with what cruelty this rhinoceros, that is to say, this earthly prince, raged against the Lord; and now we know with what humility he prostrates him beneath Him, by the power of the Lord. This rhinoceros was not only bound, but bound to plough: because, in truth, when bound by the bands of discipline, he not only keeps himself from wicked works, but also exercises himself in preaching the holy faith. For behold, as was before said, when we see the rulers and chiefs themselves of human concerns fearing God in their actions, what else do we see them than bound with bands? But when, by the enacting of laws, they cease not to preach that faith which they recently assaulted with persecution, what else do they, but toil at the labours of the plough?


5. We are permitted to see this rhinoceros, that is, this prince of the earth, bound with the bands of faith; how he both wears his horn, by the power of the world, and bears the yoke of faith, by the love of God. This rhinoceros were greatly to be feared, unless he were bound. For he has in truth a horn, but yet he is bound. The lowly have therefore something to love in his bands, the proud have something to fear in his horn. For, as fast bound with thongs, he preserves the gentleness of meekness; but, as supported by the horn of earthly glory, he exercises the dominion of power. But frequently, when he is hurried on by the provocation of anger to strike, he is recalled by heavenly fear. And he rouses himself to fury, by his power being provoked; but because he calls to mind the eternal Judge, he bends himself down with fastened horn. I remember, that I myself have frequently seen, that when this rhinoceros was rousing himself to strike a heavy blow, and was threatening, as it were, with elevated horn, death, banishment, and condemnation to the smaller animals, who were suffering under unbounded dread, he extinguished all the blaze of fury within, on the sign of the cross being suddenly imprinted on his brow, that he was converted and laid aside his threats, and, as bound, acknowledged that he could not proceed to his resolutions. And not only does he subdue all wrath within himself, but he hastens to implant also every thing which is right, in the feelings of his subjects; in order to shew himself, by the example of his own humility, that all should reverence Holy Church from their inmost thoughts. Let it be said therefore to blessed Job; Wilt thou bind the rhinoceros with thy band to plough? As if He plainly said; Dost thou direct the mighty ones of this world, trusting in their foolish pride, to the labour of preaching, and restrain them under the bonds of discipline? Thou understandest, As Myself, who did that, when I willed; Who made My very persecutors, whom I first endured as enemies, to be afterwards themselves the defenders of sound faith. It follows;

Or will he break the clods of the valleys after thee?




6. The overlying clods of cultivated land are wont to press down the seeds which have been thrown in, and to stifle them when springing up. By which clods are signified in this place those, who through their own hardness, and deadly life, neither receive themselves the seeds of the word, nor yet allow others to bring forth fruits of the seeds they have received. For every holy preacher, on coming into the world, had, by preaching the Gospel to the poor, ploughed, as it were, the soft lands of the valleys. But the Church, unable to break down the hardness of some of the haughty, was bearing them when oppressed, as clods thrown upon her labours. For many of perverse mind, relying on this very unbelief of earthly princes, were oppressing the rising Church with the weight of evil living, when they were destroying, for a long while, those whom they could, at one time by their damnable examples, at another by threats, at another by blandishments, lest the cultivated soil of the heart of their hearers should attain to the fruit of spiritual seed. But when Almighty God subdued this rhinoceros with his bands, He broke at once by his aid the hardness of the clods. For He presently subjugated the princes of the earth to His faith, and crushed the hard hearts of persecutors, that the broken clods might, as it were, no longer oppress with their hardness, but might crumble and bud forth on receiving the seeds of the word. Whence He now rightly says; Or will he break the clods of the valleys after thee? As if He were saying, As after Me, Who, after I enter the mind of any lofty power, not only render it subject to Me, but also train it to crush the enemies of the faith, that the mighty of this world, being bound with the bands of My fear, may not only continue believers in Me, but may also from zeal for Me crush the hardness of another’s heart.


7. But this, which we have said of unbelievers, we observe also in many who are reckoned by the name of faith. For many, placed in the midst of lowly brethren, hold the faith in word only, but while they abandon not the swelling of pride, while they oppress those, whom they can, by the infliction of violence, while they themselves receive not at all the seeds of the word, while others are bearing fruit, but turn the ear of their heart from the voice of the adviser, what else are they, but hardened clods lying in the cultivated valleys? Who are the more wicked, inasmuch as they neither bring forth themselves the fruit of humility, and, what is worse, oppress the lowly who are producing it. To break down the hardness of these, Holy Church, because she suffices not with her own strength, sometimes seeks the assistance of this rhinoceros, that is, of an earthly prince, for him to break down the overlying clods, which the humility of the Churches, like the level of the valleys, is bearing. These clods, therefore, the rhinoceros presses and crushes with his foot, because the religion of the prince crumbles, by its power, the hardness of the wicked and powerful, which the humility of the Church is unable to withstand. And since it is the effect of Divine power alone, that the loftinesses of earthly sovereignty are bowed down, to advance the kingdom of heaven, it is now rightly said, Or will he break the clods of the valleys after thee? But that Job may think humbly of his virtues, and, under the name of the rhinoceros, still discern sublime truths concerning the powers of this world, it follows;

Ver. 11. Wilt thou have confidence in his great strength, and wilt thou leave to him thy labours?




8. The Lord asserts that He has confidence in the strength of the rhinoceros; because He inclined the powers, which He had conferred for a temporal purpose on an earthly prince, to minister to His reverence, in order that by the power he had received, through which he had, heretofore, been puffed up against God, he might now bestow on God religious obedience. For the more powerful he is toward the world, the more does he prevail for the Creator of the world. For because he is himself dreaded by his subjects, he persuades them the more readily, the more he points out with his power, Who is truly to be feared. Let it be said then; Wilt thou have confidence in his great strength? As if it were said, As I, Who see, that the powers of earthly princes are about to submit to My worship. For I regard those things which thou art now doing, as of so much the less consequence, the more I now foresee, that I shall bend down to Myself even the greater powers of this world. But it is well subjoined; And wilt thou leave to him thy labours? For the Lord left His labours to this rhinoceros, because He entrusted to an earthly prince, on his conversion, that Church which He purchased by His own death, because, namely, He committed to his hand the great anxiety of preserving the peace of the faith. It follows;

Ver. 12. Wilt thou trust him, to bring back thy seed to thee, and to gather thy floor?




9. What else is meant by ‘seed,’ but the word of preaching? As the Truth says in the Gospel, A sower went forth to sow; [Matt. 13, 3] and as the Prophet says; Blessed are ye who sow upon all waters. [Is. 32, 20] What else but the Church, ought to be understood by the threshing floor? Of which it is said by the voice of the Forerunner; And He will throughly purge His floor. [Matt. 3, 12] Who therefore could believe, in the beginning of the rising Church, when that unconquered sovereignty of the world was raging with so many threats and tortures against her, that this rhinoceros would bring back seed to God, that is, repay by his works the word of preaching which he had received? Which of the infirm could then believe, that he would gather His floor? For behold, he is now promulgating laws for the Church, who was before raging against it with various torments. Behold, whatever nations he has been able to seize, he brings by persuasion to the grace of faith; and points out eternal life to those, to whom, when captured, he secures their present life. Why is this? Because he is now, in truth, gathering the floor, which before he used to winnow, by scattering it with his proud horn. Let blessed Job therefore hear what the princes of the Gentiles do, and not exalt himself in himself with the glory of his own so great virtue. Let the powerful prince hear also, with what devotion the mightier princes of this world become the servants of God, and let not him who has a pattern in others, pervert his virtue, in consequence of its singularity, into the sin of pride. For though God beheld no one like him at that time, yet He foresaw many, by whom to repress his boasting.


10. Because, therefore, earthly princes prostrate themselves before God with great humility, wicked men, who were before ranked in unbelief against the Church, and were raging with open hostility, now turn to other arguments of fraud. For since they see that those reverence religion, they themselves adopt a respect for religion, and under a despicable garb oppress the conduct of the good, by their wicked habits. For they are in truth lovers of the world, and make a show of that in themselves which man can admire, and unite themselves, not in heart, but in garb, to those who truly despise themselves. For since, though loving present glory, they cannot attain to it, they follow it, as if despising it. But they would manifest what they think against the good, if they were to find a fitting opportunity for their wickedness. But even these devices of the wicked tend to the purification of the Elect. For Holy Church cannot pass through the season of her pilgrimage, without the labour of temptation, and though she has no open enemies without, yet she endures false brethren within. For she is ever in array against sin, and, even in the season of peace, has her own contest. And she is perhaps more grievously afflicted, when she is assaulted, not by the blows of strangers, but by the manners of her own children. Whether therefore at that, or this time, she is always engaged in a struggle. For, both in the persecution of princes she is afraid that the good should lose, what they really are, and in the conversion of princes she bears with the wicked pretending to be good, which they are not. Whence Almighty God, because He stated that this rhinoceros had been bound with thongs, immediately subjoined the hypocrisy of the wicked, saying;

Ver. 13. The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron, and of the hawk.




11. Who can be ignorant how much the heron and the hawk surpass all other birds in the swiftness of their flight? But an ostrich has the likeness of their wing, but not the celerity of their flight. For it cannot in truth rise from the ground, and raises its wings, in appearance as if to fly, but yet never raises itself from the earth in flying. Thus, doubtless, are all hypocrites, who, while they simulate the conduct of the good, possess a resemblance of a holy appearance, but have no reality of holy conduct. They have, in truth, wings for flight, in appearance, but in their doing they creep along the ground, because they spread their wings, by the semblance of sanctity, but, overwhelmed by the weight of secular cares, they are not at all raised from the earth. For the Lord in reprobating the appearance of the Pharisees, reproves, as it were, the wing of the ostrich, which did one thing in action, and made a show of another in its colour; saying, Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful to men outwardly, but are within full of dead men’s bones; even so do ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of covetousness and iniquity. [Mat 23, 27. 28.] As if He were saying: The beautiful show of your wings seems to raise you up, but the weight of your conduct weighs you down to the lowest depths. Of this weight it is said by the Prophet, Ye sons of men, how long will ye be heavy in heart? [Ps. 4, 3] The Lord promises that He will convert the hypocrisy of this ostrich, when He says by the Prophet; The beasts of the field shall honour Me, the dragons and the ostriches. [Is. 43, 20] For what is expressed by the word ‘dragons,’ but minds openly wicked, which ever creep along the earth in most grovelling thoughts? But what is designated by the word ‘ostriches,’ but those, who pretend that they are good, who retain a life of sanctity in appearance, as a wing for flight, but use it not in act? The Lord, therefore, says that He is glorified by the dragon, or by the ostrich, because He frequently converts both the openly wicked, and the pretendedly good, to obey Him from their inmost thought. Or certainly, the beasts of the field, that is the dragons and ostriches, glorify the Lord, when that Gentile people, which had before been a member of the devil in this world, exalts the faith which is in Him. And this He both upbraids with the name of ‘dragon,’ on account of its wickedness, and brands with the term ‘ostriches,’ on account of its hypocrisy. For the Gentile world received, as it were, wings, but was unable to fly; which both possessed the nature of reason, but knew not the operation of reason.


12. We have still something to examine more attentively, respecting the hawk and heron, in considering this ostrich. For the bodies of the hawk and the heron are small, but they are supported with thicker wings; and they therefore fly along with swiftness; because there is little in them which weighs them down, and much which supports them. But the ostrich, on the other hand, is endowed with scantier wings, and is weighed down with a huge body, so that though it desires to fly, yet the very fewness of the feathers supports not in the air the mass of so huge a body. The character of the Elect is, therefore, well signified by the heron and the hawk; for as long as they exist in this life, they cannot be without some infection of sin, however small. But since there is little in them which weighs them down, they have abundant virtue of good doing which exalts them on high. But the hypocrite, on the contrary, though he does many things to raise him up, yet perpetrates many things to weigh him down. For it is not, that the hypocrite does no good things, but he commits many wickednesses, with which to weigh them down. Its few feathers, therefore, raise not up the body of the ostrich, because a multitude of evil doings weighs down the little virtue of the hypocrite. This very wing of the ostrich has also a resemblance in colour to the wings of the heron and the hawk, but has no resemblance to their power. For the wings of these are close and firmer, and in flying can press down the air by the power of their solidity. But the loosely-formed wings of the ostrich, on the contrary, are unable to take flight, because they are overpassed by the very air, which they ought to keep down. What else then do we observe in these, except that the virtues of the Elect fly forth solid, so as to beat down the winds of human applause? But however right the conduct of the hypocrites may appear, it is not able to fly, because, namely, the breath of human praise passes through the wing of unstable virtue.


13. But behold, when we observe the garb of the good and the evil to be one and the same, when we see the very same appearance of profession in the Elect and the reprobate, whence is our understanding able to discern in its comprehension the Elect from the reprobate, the true from the false? But we learn this the sooner, if we stamp upon our memory the words of our Teacher which have been intimated to us, Who says; By their fruits ye shall know them. [Matt. 7, 20] For we must not consider what they display in appearance, but what they maintain in conduct. Whence after having mentioned in this place the appearance of this ostrich, He immediately subjoins its doings, saying;

Ver. 14. Which leaveth her eggs in the earth.




14. For what is expressed by ‘eggs,’ but the still tender offspring, which must be long cherished, in order to be brought to a living bird? For eggs are, in truth, insensible in themselves, but yet when warmed are changed into living birds. And so, doubtless, it is certain, that young hearers and children remain cold and insensible, unless they are warmed by the earnest exhortation of their teacher. That they may not, therefore, when abandoned, become torpid in their own insensibility, they must be cherished by the frequent instruction of their teacher, till they have strength, both to live in understanding, and to fly in contemplation. But because hypocrites, though they are ever working perversity, yet cease not to speak right things, but bring forth children in faith and conversation by speaking rightly, though they cannot nourish them by good living, it is rightly said of this ostrich, Who leaveth her eggs in the earth. For the hypocrite neglects the care of his children, because he gives himself up, with his inmost love, to outward objects, and the more he is elated by them, the less is he pained at the loss of his children. To have left eggs, therefore, in the earth, is not to raise above earthly actions the children which have been born by conversion, by interposing the nest of exhortation. To have left the eggs in the earth, is to furnish to his children no example of heavenly life. For, since hypocrites glow not with the bowels of charity, they never grieve at the torpor of the offspring which has been born to them; that is at the coldness of their eggs; and the more willingly they engage in worldly pursuits, the more carelessly do they permit those, whom they beget, to pursue earthly courses. But, because the care of heaven deserts not the forsaken children of hypocrites, for it warms some even of such, foreknown in secret election, by the regard of grace bestowed, it is rightly subjoined;

Wilt thou perchance warm them in the dust?




15. As if he said, As I, Who warm them in the dust;

because, namely, I kindle with the fire of My love the souls of the young, even when placed in the midst of sinners. What is understood by ‘dust,’ but the sinner? Whence also that enemy is satiated with the perdition of this sinner, of whom it is said by the Prophet, For the serpent, dust is his bread. [Is. 65, 25] What is pointed at by dust but the very instability of the wicked? Of which David says, Not so the ungodly, not so, but as dust which the wind sweepeth away from the face of the earth. [Ps. 1, 4] The Lord therefore warms the eggs, which have been left in the dust; because He kindles, with the fire of His love, the souls of His little ones, bereft of the anxious care of their preachers, even when dwelling in the midst of sinners. Hence is it, that we behold many, both living in the midst of multitudes, and yet not adopting the conduct of the sluggish people. Hence is it, that we behold many both not flying the crowds of the wicked, and yet glowing with heavenly ardour. Hence is it, that we behold many, if I may so speak, glowing in the midst of cold. For whence do some, living amidst the sluggishness of earthly men, burn with desires of heavenly hope; whence are they kindled, even amidst frozen hearts, except that Almighty God knows how to warm the forsaken eggs even in the dust, and, having dispelled the insensibility of their former coldness, so to animate them with the feeling of spiritual life, that they no longer lie torpid on the earth; but changed into living birds, raise themselves by contemplation, that is, by their flight, to heavenly objects? But we must observe, that in these words not only is the wicked conduct of hypocrites reprobated, but the pride of even good teachers, if any has crept in, is also kept down. For when the Lord says of Himself, that He Himself warms the forsaken eggs in the dust; He certainly plainly indicates, that He Himself works inwardly by the words of a teacher, Who, even without the words of any man, warms whom He will, in the cold of the dust. As if He openly said to teachers; That ye may know that I am He, Who work by you when speaking, behold, when I will, I speak even without you to the hearts of men. When the thoughts then of teachers have been humbled, His discourse proceeds to describe a hypocrite, and, with what folly he is stupified, is pointed out still more fully by the doings of the ostrich. For it follows;

Ver. 15. She forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the beast of the field may break them.




16. What is understood by ‘foot,’ but the passing over of active work? What is signified by the ‘field,’ but this world? Of which the Lord says in the Gospel, But the field is the world. [Matt. 13, 38] What is expressed by the ‘beast,’ but the ancient enemy, who, lying in wait for the spoils of this world, is daily satiated with the death of men? Of which it is said by the Prophet, the Lord promising; No evil beast shall pass through it. [Is. 35, 9] The ostrich, therefore, deserting her eggs, forgets that the foot may crush them; because, namely, hypocrites abandon those whom they beget as their children in conversation [al. ‘in conversion.’], and care not at all, lest the examples of evil in doings should lead them astray, when deprived of either the earnestness of exhortation, or of the care of discipline. For see next did they love the eggs, which they produce, they would doubtless be afraid, lest any one should crush them by pointing out evil doings. This foot Paul was fearing for his weak disciples, as for eggs which he had laid, when he said, Many walk, of whom I told you often, but now I tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ. [Phil. 3, 18] And again, Beware of dogs; beware of evil workers. [ib. 2] And again, We command you, brethren, in the name of our ‘Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which they received of us. [2 Thess. 3, 6] This foot John was dreading for Caius; for when he had mentioned before many wickednesses of Diotrephes, he added, Dearly beloved, imitate not that which is evil, but that which is good. [3 John 11] This the leader of the Synagogue himself was fearing for his feeble flock, saying, When thou hast entered the land, which the Lord thy God shall give thee, take heed that thou wish not to imitate the abominations of those nations. [Deut. 18, 9] She forgets also, that the beast of the field may break them, because the hypocrite doubtless cares not at all, if the devil raging in this world carries off his children who are brought forth in good conversation. But this beast of the field Paul was fearing for the eggs, which he had laid, saying, I fear, lest, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your senses should be corrupted from the love that is in Christ Jesus. [2 Cor. 11, 3] This beast of the field Peter was fearing for his disciples, saying, Your adversary, the devil, as a roaring lion goeth about, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, stedfast in the faith. [l Pet. 5, 8. 9.] Faithful teachers therefore have over their disciples the bowels of fear, from the virtue of charity. But hypocrites fear the less for those committed to them, the more they discover not what they ought to fear for themselves. And because they live with hardened hearts, they acknowledge not even the sons whom they beget, with any affection of the love which is due to them. Whence it is added still further under the figure of the ostrich;

Ver. 16. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers.




17. For he whom the grace of charity bedews not, looks upon his neighbour as a stranger, even though he has himself begotten him to God. As doubtless are all hypocrites, whose minds in truth, while ever aiming at outward objects, become insensible within: and while they are ever seeking their own, in every thing they do, they are not softened by any compassion of charity, for the feelings of their neighbour. O what bowels of tenderness was Paul bearing, when he was panting for his children, with so great a warmth of love, saying, We live, if ye stand fast in the Lord. And, God is my witness, how I wish for you all in the bowels of Christ Jesus. [1 Thess. 3, 8] To the Romans also he says, God is my witness, Whom I serve in my spirit, in the Gospel of His Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request, if by any means, now at length, I may have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come to you; for I long to see you. [Rom. 1, 9-11] He says also to Timothy, I thank my God, Whom I serve from my forefathers in pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers, night and day desiring to see thee. [2 Tim. 1, 3. 4.] He says also, pointing out his love to the Thessalonians, But we, brethren, being taken away from you for a short time, in presence, not in heart, hastened the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. [l Thess. 2, 17] Who when pressed by hard persecutions, and yet anxious for the safety of his children, added, We sent Timotheus our brother, and minister of God in the Gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to exhort you concerning your faith, that no man should be moved by these afflictions. For ye yourselves know that we were appointed thereunto. [1 Thess. 3, 2. 3.] He says also to the Ephesians, I desire that ye faint not in my tribulations for you, which is your glory. [Eph. 3, 13] Behold, when in the midst of tribulations, he exhorts others, and in that which he himself endures, he strengthens others. For he had not, like the ostrich, forgotten his children, but was greatly afraid, that his disciples, observing so many reproaches of persecutions in their preacher, would in him despise the faith, against which innumerable insults of sufferings were prevailing. And therefore he felt less pain at his torments, but was more afraid for his children, from the temptation of his torments. He was lightly regarding the wounds of his body in himself, whilst he was fearing for his children the wounds of the heart. He was himself patiently enduring the wounds of torments, but, by consoling his children, he was healing the wounds of their hearts. Let us consider, therefore, of what charity he was, to have feared for others, in the midst of his own sorrows. Let us consider of what charity he was, to seek for the welfare of his children, amidst his own losses, and to guard, even from his own abject condition, firmness of mind in those who were near him.


18. But hypocrites know not these bowels of charity. Because the more their mind is let loose on outward subjects by worldly concupiscence, the more is it hardened within, by its want of affection. And it is frozen by benumbing torpor within, because it is softened by fatal love without; and is unable to consider itself, because it strives not to think of itself. But a mind cannot think on itself, which is not entirely at home in itself. But it is unable to be entirely at home in itself, because by as many lusts as it is hurried away, by so many objects is it distracted from itself; and scattered, it lies below, though with collected strength it might rise, if it willed, to the greatest heights.


19. Whence the mind of the just, because it is restrained, by the guardianship of discipline, from the shifting desire of all visible objects, is compacted in itself and inwardly entire; and it fitly beholds how it should conduct itself towards God, or its neighbour, because it leaves nothing of its own without, and the more it is withdrawn and restrained from outward objects, the more is it increased and kindled within; and the more it burns, the more brightly does it shine for the detection of vices. For hence it is, that while holy men gather themselves within themselves, they detect even the secret faults of others, with a wonderful and penetrating keenness of sight. Whence it is well said by the prophet Ezekiel, The likeness of a hand was put forth, and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between the earth and the heaven, and brought me, in the vision of God, into Jerusalem, by the inner door, that looked towards the north, where was placed the idol of jealousy to provoke jealousy. [Ez. 8, 3] For what is a lock of the head, but the thoughts of the mind gathered together, so as not to be scattered and dispersed, but to remain bound by discipline? A hand is therefore put forth from above, and the Prophet is lifted up by the lock of his head; because when our mind collects itself by watchfulness, a heavenly power raises us upward from things below. He therefore well says, that he was lifted up between earth and heaven; because every holy man, when living in mortal flesh, does not as yet indeed fully arrive at heavenly objects, but yet at once abandons those that are below. But he is brought in the vision of God into Jerusalem, because in truth every one who is making progress through the zeal of charity, beholds what the Church ought to he. It is also well added, By the inner door, that looked towards the north: doubtless, because, while holy men look through the approach of inward contemplation, they detect more evil than good going on within the Church. And they turn their eyes in the quarter of the north, that is, to the left of the sun, because they warm themselves with the stimulants of charity against the frosts of sins. Where it is also rightly subjoined; Because there was there placed the idol of jealousy to provoke jealousy. For when they behold rapine and wickedness perpetrated within Holy Church, by some, who are faithful only in appearance, what else do they see, but an idol in Jerusalem? And it is called the idol of jealousy, because by this the jealousy of heaven is provoked against us: and it smites offenders the more severely, the more affectionately the Redeemer loves us.


20. Hypocrites, therefore, because they collect not the thoughts of their mind, are not held by a lock of their head. And when do they, who are ignorant of their own faults, detect the faults of those committed to them? These are therefore dead to heavenly things, for which they ought to burn; and burn anxiously for earthly objects, to which they would laudably have been dead. For thou mayest often behold them, having put aside the care of their children, prepare themselves for dangers of immense labour, cross seas, approach tribunals, assail princes, burst into palaces, frequent the wrangling assemblies of the people, and defend with laborious watchfulness their earthly patrimony. And if it is perchance said to them, Why do ye, who have left the world, act thus? they immediately reply, that they fear God, and that therefore they labour with such zeal in defending their patrimony. Whence it is well added still further concerning the foolish labour of this ostrich;

Ver. 16. She hath laboured in vain; no fear compelling her.




21. For, There they trembled with fear, where no fear was. [Ps. 14, 5] For behold it is commanded by the voice of God; If any one hath taken thy coat, and wished to contend with thee in judgment, give up to him thy cloak also. [Matt. 5, 40] And again; If one hath taken away that which is thine own, ask it not again. [Luke 6, 30] The Apostle Paul also, when he was wishing his disciples to despise outward things, in order to be able to retain those that are within, admonishes them, saying; Now there is utterly a fault in you, because ye have trials among yourselves. Why do ye not rather take wrong, why do ye not rather suffer fraud? [1 Cor. 6, 7] And yet a hypocrite, having assumed the garb of holy conversation, abandons the charge of his children, and seeks to defend, even by wrangling, all his temporal goods. He is not afraid to ruin their hearts by his example, and is afraid of losing his earthly patrimony as if by negligence. His disciple falls into error, and yet the heart of the hypocrite is wounded with no sorrow. He beholds those committed to him plunging into the gulph of iniquity, and passes by these things, as though he had not heard them. But if he has felt any temporal loss slightly inflicted on him, how does he suddenly burst forth, from his inmost soul, into the anger of revenge. His patience is soon broken down; the grief of his heart is soon let loose in words. For while he hears with equanimity the loss of souls, but hastens, even with agitation of spirit, to repel the loss of temporal goods, he truly indicates to all, by this evidence of his emotion of mind, what he loves. For great earnestness of defence is there exercised, where the power of love is also mightier. For the more he loves earthly things, the more vehemently is he afraid of being deprived of them. For we learn not with what feeling we possess any thing in this world, except when we lose it. For, whatever is possessed without love, is lost without pain. But those things, which we ardently love, when possessed, we sigh for heavily when taken away. But who can know not that the Lord created earthly things for our use, but the souls of men for His own? A person is, therefore, convicted of loving himself more than God, who protects those things which are peculiarly his own, to the neglect of what are His. For hypocrites fear not to lose those things which belong to God, that is, the souls of men, and, as if about to render an account to a strict Judge, are afraid of losing those which are their own, things namely which are passing away together with the world. As if they would find Him favourably disposed, for Whom they preserve senseless and undesirable objects, having lost those which are desirable, that is, which are rational. We wish to possess something in this world, and behold the Truth exclaims, Unless a man hath renounced all that he hath, he cannot be My disciple. [Luke 14, 33]


22. How then ought a perfect Christian to defend by disputing those earthly goods, which he is not ordered to possess? When we lose therefore our own possessions, we are lightened of a great burden in this journey of life, if we perfectly follow God. But when the necessity of this same journey imposes on us the care of possessions, some persons are only to he submitted to, while they seize them from us, but others are to he prevented, without violation of charity, not however merely from anxiety lest they should take away from us our goods, but lest they should ruin themselves by seizing what are not their own. For we ought more to fear for the plunderers themselves, than to be eager in defending irrational possessions. For these we lose, at our death, even though not stolen from us; but we are one with the others, both now in the rank of creation, and, if they strive to amend, after their reception of the gift. But who can he ignorant that we ought to love the goods, which we use, less, and that, which we are ourselves, more. If therefore we speak to plunderers, even for their own benefit, we now no longer merely claim for ourselves those things which are temporal, but, for them also, those that are eternal.


23. But we must in this matter carefully watch, that covetousness steal not on us, through fear of necessity; and that a prohibition, kindled by zeal, when strained by immoderate force, may not break out into the disgracefulness of hateful contention. And whilst peace with our neighbour is torn from our hearts, for the sake of an earthly good, it appears plainly, that our property is loved better than our neighbour. For if we have no bowels of charity even towards our neighbour who plundered us, we persecute ourselves worse, than the spoiler does himself, and ravage ourselves more fatally, than the other could do; because by abandoning, of our own accord, the blessing of love, we lose for ourselves that which is within, though we lost, through him, those only which are without. But a hypocrite knows not this form of charity; for, preferring earthly to heavenly possessions, he inflames himself with furious hatred, in his inmost heart, against him who spoils his temporal possessions.


24. But it ought to be known, that there are some, whom mother Church tolerates, nursing them in the bosom of charity, and whom she would carry on even to the advanced growth of spiritual age, who sometimes both wear the garb of sanctity, and yet cannot attain to the merit of perfection. For they rise not to spiritual gifts, and therefore they assist those who are connected with them, in the preservation of earthly goods, and sometimes transgress in anger in this defence. But we must not believe that these persons fall into the numbers of hypocrites, for it is one thing to sin from infirmity, and another from wickedness. There is therefore this difference between these persons and hypocrites, that these, conscious of their own infirmity, prefer being reproved by all for their faults, to being praised for pretended sanctity. But those are both sure that they are doing wrong, and yet in the judgments of men are puffed up with the name of sanctity. These fear not to displease wicked men, even by a virtuous action, provided only they are approved by the judgments of heaven; but those never consider what they are doing, but how by every action they can please men. These, according to the measure of their understanding, contend for the causes of God, even in things of the world; but those subserve the design of the world, even in the causes of God; because in the very midst of the holy deeds they make a shew of doing, they seek not the conversion of men, but the breath of applause.


25. When therefore we behold any persons of no mean conversation defending worldly interests passionately or immoderately, we ought to reprove this fault of theirs charitably, and yet not to despair of them, while reproving them. Because there frequently exist in one and the same person certain censurable points which are apparent, and great qualities which lie concealed. But in ourselves our great qualities often come forth openly, and those which are reprehensible are sometimes concealed. Hence, therefore, our pride of mind must be brought low, because, both their weaknesses are public, and ours are secret: and again, their strong points are concealed, and ours are divulged and made public. Those therefore, whom we blame for their open weakness, it remains for us to venerate from our opinion of their hidden strength, and if our own mind is elated at their open weakness, let it keep itself down in humility, from considering its own secret infirmities. For some persons frequently obey many precepts, and pass over a few; and we pass over many, when we keep but a few. Whence it is frequently the case that, when we see others neglect a command, which we know we observe ourselves, our mind immediately exalts itself with pride, forgetting how many commands it passes over, when there are very few which it observes. It is therefore necessary for us in cases where we reprove others, to bring down the pride of our anxious thought. For if our mind sees that it is more exalted than others, being led, as it were, to headlong heights of singularity, it falls the more fatally. But why the hypocrite abandons heavenly lucre, and labours for that of earth, He still subjoins, under the description of the ostrich, saying:

Ver. 17. God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He given her understanding.




26. Although to deprive is one thing, and not to give is another, yet His first expression ‘deprived,’ He repealed by subjoining, ‘hath not given.’ As if He were saying, My expression ‘deprived’ means not that He has unjustly taken away wisdom, but that He has justly not given it. Whence the Lord is described as having hardened the heart of Pharaoh, not because He Himself inflicted hardness, but because, according as his deserts demanded, He softened it not by any sensibility of heaven-infused fear. But now, because the hypocrite pretends that he is holy, and conceals himself under the semblance of good works, he is kept down by the peace of Holy Church, and is therefore, before our eyes, arrayed with the appearance of religion. But if any temptation of his faith springs up, the rabid mind of the wolf strips itself of its garb of sheep’s skin; and shews by persecution, how greatly it rages against the holy. Whence it is also rightly subjoined;

Ver. 18. When the time shall be, she raiseth her wings on high, she scorneth the horseman and his rider.




27. For what do we understand by the wings of this ostrich, except the thoughts of the hypocrite, kept close at this time as if folded together? But when the time shall come, he raises them on high; because when an opportunity is found, he makes them manifest by his pride. To raise the wings on high, is to disclose his thoughts with unbridled haughtiness. But now, because he pretends that he is holy, because he confines what he thinks to himself, he folds, as it were, his wings on his body, by humility. But it must be observed, that He says not, The horse and his rider, but, The horseman and his rider. For the horse is the body which belongs to each holy soul, which it knows in truth both how to restrain from unlawful pursuits by the bit of continence, and again to let loose by the impulse of charity, in the exercise of good works. By the name, therefore, of ‘horseman’ is expressed the soul of a holy man, which keeps the body, its beast of burden [‘jumentum corporis.’], under good control. Whence also the Apostle John, in the Apocalypse, having beheld the Lord, says; And the armies which are in heaven, were following Him on white horses. [Rev. 19, 14] For he rightly calls an army, the multitude of the Saints, which had toiled in this war of martyrdom. And they are said, for this reason, to sit on white horses, because their bodies doubtless were brilliant with both the light of righteousness, and the whiteness of chastity. The hypocrite therefore scorns the horseman, because, when he has burst forth in open iniquity, he despises the sanctity of the Elect; and in his pride calls those fools, whom he used to imitate with cunning art, when kept down by the peace of the faith. But who else is the rider of this horseman, but Almighty God, Who both, foreseeing, created those things which were not, and possessing, rules over those which are? For he surely mounts the horseman, because He possesses the soul of every holy man, who possesses his own members aright. For this hypocrite then to scorn the horseman, is for him to despise the saints: but to scorn the rider of the horseman, is for him to leap forward even to do wrong to the Creator.


28. For since in every lapse, men always begin with the smallest faults, and as defects secretly grow up, attain to more grievous sins, the iniquity of this hypocrite is rightly distinguished by a statement of his losses, so that he is said first, to set himself forth as the good thing, which he is not; that he afterwards openly scorns the good; and lastly, that he leaps forth even to do wrong to his Creator. For a soul never lies in the spot where it has fallen; because having once fallen of its own accord, it is carried on to greater sins by the weight of its own iniquity, so that, as it sinks into the deep, it is ever overwhelmed still deeper. Let the hypocrite then go, and seek for his own praises, let him afterwards oppress the life of his neighbours, and exercise himself at last in deriding his Creator: in order that, as he ever cherishes prouder thoughts, he may overwhelm himself thereby in more awful punishments. O how many such does Holy Church now tolerate, whom open temptation makes manifest, when the time has suddenly arrived. But because they do not now put forth their wills against her, they meanwhile press close, as it were, the folded wings of their thoughts. For since this life is passed in common by the good and the evil, the Church is now visibly made up of a number of each of these. But it is distinguished in God’s invisible judgment, and, at its end, is separated from the society of the wicked. But at present the good cannot exist therein without the wicked, nor the wicked without the good. For at this time the two parts are necessarily united and fitted to each other, in order that both the wicked may be changed by the examples of the good, and the good be purified by the temptations of the wicked. And therefore, the Lord, after having introduced under the image of the ostrich many remarks on the rejection of the hypocrites, immediately turns to speak of the lot of the Elect, in order that they who had heard in those what to fly from and endure, might hear in these what to imitate and love. It follows;

Ver. 19. with thou give the horse strength, or with thou

surround his neck with neighing?




29. But perhaps before we discuss this strength and neighing of the horse, some persons are desirous of having both the strength of the rhinoceros, and the folly of this ostrich explained in another way, putting aside their moral meaning. For the word of God is manna, and gives, in truth, that taste in the mouth of the eater, which the wish of him who partakes it rightly desires. The word of God is the earth, which produces fruit more abundantly, the more the labour of the enquirer demands. The meaning, therefore, of Holy Scripture should be sifted with manifold enquiry, for even the earth, which is often turned by the plough, is fitted to produce a more abundant crop. We therefore briefly touch upon our other view of the rhinoceros and ostrich, because we are hastening onward to unravel those questions which are more complicated. This rhinoceros, which is called also the ‘monoceros’ in Greek copies, is said to be of such great strength, as not to be taken by any skill of hunters. But, as those persons assert, who have striven with laborious investigation in describing the natures of animals, a virgin is placed before it, who opens to it her bosom as it approaches, in which, having put aside all its ferocity, it lays down its head, and is thus suddenly found as it were unarmed, by those by whom it is sought to be taken. It is also described as being of box colour, and whenever it engages with elephants, it is said to strike with that single horn, which it bears on its nostrils, the belly of its opponents, in order to easily overthrow its assailants, when it wounds their softer parts. By this rhinoceros, or certainly monoceros, that is, the unicorn, can therefore be understood that people, who when it adopted, not good works, but merely pride among all men, at its reception of the Law, carried, as it were, a singular horn among other beasts. Whence the Lord, foretelling His Passion by the voice of the Prophet, says; Save Me from the lion’s mouth, and My humility from the horns of the unicorns. [Ps. 22, 21] For as many unicorns, or certainly rhinoceroses, existed in that nation, as many as were those who with singular and foolish pride confided in the works of the Law, in opposition to the preaching of the truth. It is said therefore to blessed Job, as a type of the Church;

Ver. 9. Will the rhinoceros be willing to serve thee?




30. As if it were said more plainly; Dost thou bend under the rule of thy preaching that people whom thou beholdest boasting, with its foolish pride, in the death of the faithful? Thou understandest, As Myself, Who both behold it raised against Me with its single horn, and yet subdue it to Myself, at once, whenever I will. But we set forth this point the better, if we pass from generals to particulars. Let that Paul therefore be brought before our notice, out of this people, both first in his pride, and afterward as a striking witness in his humility; who when he unwittingly exalted himself against God, as if on his keeping the Law, carried a horn on his nostril. Whence also, when afterwards he was bowing down this horn of his nostril by humility, he says; Who was before a blasphemer and a persecutor, and injurious, but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly. [1 Tim. 1, 13] He who trusted that he would please God by his cruelty, carried a horn on his nostrils, as he himself afterwards says, when condemning himself; And profited in the Jews’ religion, above many my equals in years, in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. [Gal. l, 14] But every hunter feared the strength of this rhinoceros; because every preacher dreaded the cruelty of Saul. For it is written; Saul yet breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that, if he found any of this way, men and women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. [Acts 9, 1. 2.] When a breath is drawn in by the nostril in order to be given back, it is called ‘breathing,’ and we often detect by its smell with our nostril that which we behold not with our eyes. This rhinoceros was therefore carrying a horn on his nostril, with which to strike; because, breathing threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, after he had killed those who were present, he was seeking for those who were absent. But behold every hunter hides himself before him; that is, every man, who savours of what is reasonable, is put to flight by his opinion of his terror. In order then that he may take this rhinoceros, let the virgin open her bosom, that is, let the Wisdom of God Itself, inviolate [al. ‘enveloped’] in the flesh, of Itself, disclose to him Its mystery. For it is written, that, when he was journeying to Damascus, suddenly there shone round him, at mid-day, a light from heaven, and a voice was uttered, saying, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? [Acts 9, 4] And he, prostrate on the earth, answered, Who art Thou, Lord? And it is immediately said to him, I am Jesus of Nazareth, Whom thou persecutest. [ib. 5] The Virgin doubtless opened her bosom to the rhinoceros, when the Uncorrupted Wisdom of God disclosed to Saul the mystery of His Incarnation by speaking from heaven and the rhinoceros lost its strength, because, prostrate on the ground, he lost all his swelling pride and when, having lost the sight of his eyes, he is led to Ananias, it is now discovered with what hands of God this rhinoceros is bound: because, namely, he is bound at once with blindness, with preaching, and with Baptism. And he abode by the manger of God, because he scorned not to ruminate on the words of the Gospel. For he says; I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. But I went up by revelation, and communicated my Gospel with them. [Gal. 2, 1, 2] And he, who had first heard, when famished, It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks, [Acts 9, 5] having been afterwards tamed by the wonderful power of his rider, obtained strength from the food of the word, and lost the heel of pride.


31. But he is not only restrained from violence by the hands of God, but, what is more wonderful, is bound to plough; so as not only not to attack men with the horn of cruelty, but, ministering also to their support, to draw the plough of preaching. For he himself speaks of those who are preaching the Gospel, as if they were ploughing: For he that ploweth should plow in hope, and he that thresheth, in hope of partaking the fruit. [1 Cor. 9, 10] He therefore, who had just inflicted tortures on the faithful, and afterwards willingly endures scourges for the faith, who also, by writing his Epistles, preaches in lowliness and contempt the truth which before he fiercely assailed, is doubtless firmly fastened to the plough, and labours for the crop, who used to live in the plain, fatally exempt from fear. Of whom it is rightly said;

Ver. 10. Or will he break the clods of the valleys after thee?




32. The Lord had, in truth, already entered the minds of some, who believed Him to be truly the Redeemer of mankind. But yet, when they departed not from their former observance, when they kept to the harsh preaching of the letter, the illustrious preacher says to them; If ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. [Gal. 5, 2] What else then did he, who in the humble mind of the faithful crushed by refutation the harshness of the law, but break the clods in the valley after the Lord? in order, namely, that the grains of the seeds, which the furrow of the heart, cleft by the plough of faith, was receiving, might not perish by being kept down by the observance of the letter. Of whom it is still rightly subjoined,

Ver. 11. Wilt thou have confidence in his great strength, and wilt thou leave to him thy labours?




33. The Lord had confidence in the strength of this rhinoceros; because the more He endured him cruelly inflicting hardships upon Him, the more firmly He foresaw him enduring adversities for His sake. To whom also He left the labours, which He Himself had endured in the flesh; because He led him when converted even to the imitation of His own Passion. Whence also it is said by the same rhinoceros, I fill up those things which are lacking of the sufferings of Christ in my flesh. [Col. 1, 24] Of whom it is further added;

Ver. 12. Wilt thou trust him to bring back thy seed to thee, and to gather thy floor?




34. Let us consider what Saul was, when, from his very youth, he was engaged in aiding those who stoned, when he was laying waste some places of the Church, and, having received letters, was seeking for others to lay waste, when no single death of the faithful sufficed him, but, after the destruction of some, he was ever panting for the death of others: and we know for certain, that none of the faithful, at that time, believed that God would bend to the yoke of His fear the might of such haughty pride. Whence also Ananias, even after he had heard by the voice of the Lord that he had been converted, was afraid, saying, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, what evil he hath done to Thy saints at Jerusalem. [Acts 9, 13] And yet, suddenly changed from being an enemy, he is made a preacher: and in all quarters of the world announces the name of his Redeemer, endures punishments for the truth’s sake, exults at suffering himself what he had inflicted; invites some by allurements, and recals others by terrors, to the faith. To these he promises the kingdom of the heavenly country, to those he threatens the fire of hell. The one he corrects by authority, the others he attracts by humility to the path of rectitude: and bends himself on every side to the hand of his ruler, and collects the threshing floor of God with as great skill, as he used before to winnow it with pride.


35. But not even is this at variance with Paul, that the rhinoceros is said to be of box colour, and is stated to strike with his horn the bellies of elephants. For, because he was wont to live under the rigour of the Law, the observance of every virtue grew up more strictly in him than in others. For what is expressed by box colour, but the paleness of abstinence? To which he himself witnesses, that he tenaciously adheres, saying; I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection, lest perchance, when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway. [1 Cor. 9, 27] Who, when, being endowed with knowledge of the Divine Law, he reproves the greediness of others, strikes elephants in their belly with his horn. For he had in truth struck elephants in the belly, when he was saying; Many walk, of whom I told you often, but now I tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame. [Phil. 3, 18. 19.] And again, They that are such serve not the Lord Christ, but their own belly. [Rom. 16, 18] This rhinoceros, therefore, no longer strikes men, but beasts, with his horn; when Paul no longer assaults the humble who are to be destroyed with that might of his doctrine, but slays the proud worshippers of their belly. It remains for us, therefore, to believe that those things, which we know were written of Paul, were done in others also. For many in truth were converted from the pride of that people, to the grace of humility; and whilst the Lord made their cruelty to submit to the yoke of His inspired fear, He doubtless subjected to Himself the might of the rhinoceros. But since we have heard what God’s marvelous power has wrought with His Elect, let us now hear what His marvellous forbearance has endured in those whom He rejects.

Ver. 13. The wing of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron and the hawk.




36. What is signified by the name ‘ostrich,’ but the synagogue, which had indeed the wings of the law, but from grovelling in its heart in things below, never raised itself from the earth? But what is expressed by the ‘heron’ and the ‘hawk,’ but the ancient fathers, who had power even in their living to soar to those truths, which they were able to perceive by understanding? The wing, therefore, of the ostrich is like the wings of the heron and the hawk; because the voice of the synagogue maintained in its words the doctrine of the early teachers, but knew it not in its living. Whence also the Truth warns the people of this same synagogue against the Scribes and Pharisees, saying; The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore whatsoever they have said to you, observe and do: but do not ye after their works. [Mat. 23, 2] We could say much of the habits of the heron, but since its wing only is brought to our memory, we are prevented speaking of its habits.

Ver. 14. When she leaveth her eggs in the earth, wilt thou perchance warm them in the dust?




37. In ‘eggs’ there is one thing which is seen, another which is hoped for: and hope cannot be seen, as Paul witnesses, who says, What a man seeth, why doth he hope for? [Rom. 8, 24] What then is designated by the ‘eggs’ of the ostrich, but the Apostles born of the flesh of the synagogue? who whilst they present themselves as despised and lowly in the world, teach us to look for glory in heavenly places. For regarded by the haughty as abject, and as if of no account, they lay, like eggs on the ground; but the power of living, and of soaring to heavenly places, upborne by the wings of hope, lay hid within them. Which eggs the ostrich leaves in the earth; because the synagogue, scorning to listen to those Apostles, whom it had begotten in the flesh, gave them up to the Gentiles who were to be called. But the Lord with wonderful power warms these very same eggs in the dust; because He roused to life the progeny of the Apostles, in that Gentile world, which had hitherto been cast off; and they, whom the synagogue had despised as void of sense and life, now live and soar aloft, in the veneration of the Gentiles, by the authority of doctrine. The ostrich leaves her eggs in the dust; because the synagogue raised not from earthly desires those whom it begat by preaching. And because the ancient enemy finds those desires conceived in the heart, he doubtless hurries the minds assailed by them even into sins. Whence it is also subjoined;

Ver. 15. She forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the beast of the field may break them.




38. The foot crushes, and the beast of the field breaks, the eggs at the time, when they are forsaken on the earth; because, namely, while the hearts of men seek to be ever thinking on earthly things, ever to be employed on things below, they throw themselves down for the beast of the field, that is, the devil, to trample on: so that, after they have been long degraded by the basest thoughts, they are at length crushed by the perpetration of even greater crimes. The synagogue, therefore, neglected to raise up from the earth by good living the eggs which it laid. But, though Almighty God found many of its children dead and chilled by earthly desires, yet he animated them with the warmth of His love. But that life, which the synagogue gave not its children, it grudged them afterwards, when it was striving to extinguish by persecution, those whom it remembered not to have by cherishing brought forth to good works. Whence it is also fitly added of this ostrich;

Ver. 16. She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers.


39. It despises, as though they were not its own, those whom it discovers to be living otherwise than it has itself taught, and, as its cruelty becomes obdurate, it applies terrors, and exercises itself in torturing them, and, inflamed by the firebrands of envy, it labours that they should perish, for whom it laboured not that they should live. And, when it persecutes the members of the Lord, it suspects that by this it is pleasing God. Whence also the Truth says to the same eggs of the ostrich, The hour cometh, that whosoever killeth you, thinketh that he doeth God service. [John 16, 2] Because, therefore, when the synagogue is led by cruelty to persecution, it thinks that it is acting thus by the impulse of divine fear, it is rightly subjoined;

She hath laboured in vain, no fear compelling her.


40. For not fear, but cruelty, has compelled it to pant in the labour of persecution. But because vices, when tinged with the colour of virtues, are commonly the more abominable, the less they are known even to be vices; the synagogue was more harsh in persecution, as it believed that it was becoming more religious by the deaths of the faithful. And therefore it could not at all discern what it was doing, because it shut out from itself the light of understanding, by putting pride in the way. Whence it is also well subjoined;

Ver. 17. God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath He given her understanding.


41. For strict is the enquiry of secret retribution; and because it knowingly lost its humility, it also lost, unwittingly, the understanding of the truth. But the wounds, which it inflicted on the faithful at the coming of the Redeemer, are much less than those with which it still aims to smite the Church, by the coming of Antichrist. For it is preparing itself for that time, in order to oppress the life of the faithful with accumulated strength. Whence it is also fitly subjoined;

Ver. 18. When the time shall come, she raiseth her wings on high, she scorneth the horseman, and his rider.




42. The ostrich raiseth her wings on high, when the synagogue opposes its Creator, not as before by dreading, but by now openly withstanding, Him. For being changed into the limbs of the devil, and believing the man of lies to be God, it exalts itself the higher against the faithful, the more it boasts also, that it is itself the body of God. And because it despises, not only the Manhood of the Lord, but also His very Godhead, it scorns, not merely the horseman, but the rider of the horseman also. For, without violating the unity of the Person, it can be understood that the Word of God then mounted the rider, when he created for Himself a living Body within the womb of the Virgin. He then mounted the horseman, when, by creating Himself, He brought under the yoke of Divine worship a human soul, possessing power over its own flesh. For the Godhead assumed the flesh, by the intervention of the soul, and by this means He held together the whole horseman; [S. Aug. de Fid. et Symb. §. 10.] because He joined together in Himself, not that only which was ruled, but that also which ruled. Judaea therefore, because, having been caught in the snare of seduction, by the coming of haughty Antichrist, it scoffs at our Redeemer, for having been lowly among men, scorns the horseman. But because it, in every thing, denies His Godhead, it scorns equally his rider also. But our Redeemer is, in one and the same person, both the horseman and the rider of the horseman; and, when He came into the world, He set forth mighty preachers against the world; and when, in the end of the world, He endures the craft of Antichrist, He supplies strength to those, who contend in His behalf: that so, when our ancient enemy is set free in that liberty of his which is speedily to be terminated, our faithful ones may receive so much greater strength, the more they have to fight against an adversary who has been let loose. Whence in this place, when the ostrich is described as raising her wings, and scorning the horseman and his rider, the mention of mighty preachers is immediately subjoined, and it is said;

Ver. 19. Wilt thou give the horse strength, or wilt thou surround his neck with neighing?




43. In Holy Scripture there is sometimes expressed under the term ‘horse,’ the slippery life of the wicked, sometimes temporal dignity, sometimes this present world itself, sometimes the preparation of right intention, sometimes a holy preacher.


For under the term ‘horse’ is signified the slippery life of the wicked, as it is written; Be ye not as the horse and mule. [Ps. 32, 9] And as is said by another Prophet, They were made wanton horses, and stallions, every one was neighing after his neighbour’s wife. [Jer. 5, 8]


By the name ‘horse’ is understood temporal dignity, as Solomon witnesses, who says, I have seen servants upon horses, and princes walking as servants upon the earth. [Eccles. 10, 7] For every one who sins is the servant of sin, and servants are upon horses, when sinners are elated with the dignities of the present life. But princes walk as servants, when no honour exalts many who are full of the dignity of virtues, but when the greatest misfortune here presses them down, as though unworthy. Hence it is said again; They have slumbered who mounted horses. [Ps. 76, 6] That is, in the death of the soul, they, who trusted in the honour of the present life, have closed the eyes of their mind to the light of truth.


Under the name of ‘horse’ is designated this present world, as is said by the voice of Jacob; Let Dan be a serpent by the way, a horned snake in the path, that biteth the horses’ hoofs, that his rider falleth backward. [Gen. 49, 17] In which testimony we set forth more plainly what ‘horse’ signifies, if we consider the circumstances somewhat more minutely. For some say, that Antichrist is coming out of the tribe of Dan, because in this place Dan is asserted to be a serpent, and a biting one. Whence also, when the people of Israel were choosing their position, in the partition of the camp, Dan most rightly first pitched his camp to the north; signifying him in truth, who had said in his heart; I will sit upon the mount of the testament, in the sides of the north; I will ascend above the height of the clouds. I will be like the Most High. [Is. 14, 13. 14.] Of whom also it is said by the Prophet; The snorting of his horses was heard from Dan. [Jer. 8, 16] But he is called not only a serpent, but a horned serpent, (cerastes.) For keVata in Greek are called ‘cornua’ in Latin. And this serpent, by whom the coming of Antichrist is fitly set forth, is said to be horned: because, together with the bite of pestilent preaching, he is armed also against the life of the faithful with the horns of power. But who can be ignorant that a path is narrower than a way? Dan therefore becomes a serpent in the way, because he compels those, whom he flatters by seeming to spare them, to walk in the broad way of the present life: but he bites them in the way, because he destroys with the poison of his error those on whom he confers liberty. He becomes a horned serpent in the path, because those whom he finds to be faithful, and to be confining themselves to the narrow paths of the heavenly precept, he not only assails with the wickedness of crafty persuasion, but also oppresses with the terror of his power. And, after the kindness of pretended sweetness, he employs the horns of his power in the torture of persecution. In which passage, the ‘horse’ signifies this world, which foams through its pride in the lapse of passing times. And, because Antichrist strives to seize the latter end of the world, this horned serpent is said to bite the horses’ hoofs. For, to bite the horses’ hoofs, is to reach the ends of the world by striking them; That its rider falleth backward. The rider of the horse, is every one who is exalted in worldly dignities; who is said to fall backwards, and not on his face; as Saul is said to have fallen. For, to fall on his face, is for each one to confess his own faults, in this life, and to bewail them with penitence. But to fall backward, where one cannot see, is to depart suddenly out of this life, and to know not to what punishments he is being led. And because Judaea, entangled with the snares of its own error, is looking for Antichrist, instead of Christ, Jacob, in the same passage, rightly turned round suddenly in the language of the Elect, saying; I will wait for Thy salvation, O Lord; [Gen.49, 18] that is, I do not, as the infidels, believe in Antichrist, but I faithfully believe Him, Who is about to come for our redemption, even the true Christ.


By the name ‘horse’ is understood the preparation of right intention, as it is written, The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but the Lord giveth safety; [Prov.21, 31] because the mind prepares itself indeed against temptation, but contends not healthfully, unless it he assisted from above.


By the name ‘horse’ is understood each holy preacher, as the Prophet witnesses, who says; Thou sentest Thine horses into the sea, disturbing many waters. [Hab. 3, 15] For the waters, in truth, lay quiet, because the minds of men were lulled to rest a long while, beneath the torpor of their sins. But the sea was disturbed by the horses of God; because, when holy preachers had been sent, every heart which was benumbed with fatal security, was alarmed by the shock of wholesome fear. In this place, therefore, a holy preacher is understood by the name ‘horse,’ when it is said to blessed Job; Wilt thou give the horse strength, or with thou surround his neck with neighing?


44. But what is meant by the Lord’s saying, that He first gives strength to this horse, and afterwards surrounds his neck with neighing? For by neighing is set forth the voice of preaching. But every true preacher receives, first, strength, and afterwards neighing, because, when he has first extinguished sin in himself, he then attains to the voice of preaching, for the instruction of others. This horse hath strength, because he firmly endures adversity. He hath neighing, because by blandishment he invites to heavenly things. The Lord declares, that He gives both strength and neighing to this horse, because unless both life and teaching meet together in His preacher, the virtue of perfection will never appear. For it avails not much, though he is supported by the doings of an exalted life, if he is yet unable to rouse others by his words to his own sentiments. Or, what avails it to kindle others by his speaking well, if he makes it plain that he has himself become slothful by living ill. Because therefore it is necessary for both these to meet together in a preacher, for his perfection, the Lord confers on His horse both the neighing of voice, with boldness of action, and boldness of action, with neighing of voice. And we must observe, why neighing, which is doubtless uttered inwardly through the throat, is said to be placed round the neck of the horse, that is, to be drawn in a circle outwardly. Because, namely, the voice of preaching emanates from within, but encircles from without. For as it rouses others to good living, it binds also the conduct of the preacher to good deeds, in order that his conduct may go not beyond his words, nor his life contradict his speech. The neighing then is placed round the neck of the horse, because the life of a preacher is restrained, even by his own words, from breaking forth into deeds of wickedness. Hence is it, that a collar is given as a reward to men who fight with all their power; in order that they may ever perform greater deeds, because they bear the tokens of valour; and may fear to incur the charge of weakness, while that, which they display on themselves, is already the reward of their bravery. Whence it is rightly said by Solomon to every hearer, in praise of wisdom; Thou shall receive a crown of grace for thy head, and a collar of gold for thy neck. [Prov. 1, 9] It follows,

Ver. 20. Will thou rouse him as the locusts?




45. By the name ‘locusts’ is sometimes signified the Jewish people, sometimes the converted Gentiles, sometimes the tongue of flatterers, but sometimes, by comparison, the Resurrection of the Lord, or the life of preachers.


For, that locusts express the people of the Jews, the life of John points out to us; of whom it is written; He did eat locusts and wild honey. [Mark 1, 6] For John proclaims, even in the kind of his food, Him, Whom he foretells with the authority of prophecy. For in himself he designated the Lord, Whom he preceded. And He, doubtless, coming for our redemption, ate wild honey, because He took of the sweetness of the unfruitful Gentiles. But, because He partly converted the people of the Jews, in His own body, He took locusts for food. For the locusts, which give sudden leaps, but fall immediately to the ground, signify them. For they were leaping, when they were promising to fulfil the precepts of the Lord; but they were falling speedily to the ground, when, by their wicked works, they were denying they had heard them. Let us behold in them a kind of leaping of locusts; All the words, which the Lord hath said, will we both do and hear. [Ex. 19, 8] But let us see how they speedily fall to the ground; Would we had died in Egypt, and not in this vast wilderness. Would we may perish, and that the Lord may not lead us into that land. [Numb. 14, 2] They were therefore locusts, because they used to leap in their words, but fall in their doings.


46. By the name of ‘locusts’ is the Gentile people also designated, as Solomon witnesses, who says; The almond tree shall flourish, the locust shall become fat, the caper tree shall he destroyed. [Eccles. 12, 5] For the almond shews its blossom before all other trees. And what are designated by the flower of the almond, except the beginnings of Holy Church? which expanded the primitive flowers of virtues in her preachers, and, in order to bring forth the fruits of good works, preceded the saints which were to come, as shrubs which were to follow. And in this was the locust soon made fat; because the dry barrenness of the Gentile world was watered by the fatness of heavenly grace. The caper tree is destroyed; because when the Gentile world attained, on its call, the grace of faith, Judaea, remaining in its barrenness, lost the course of good living. Hence it is said again by the same Solomon; The locust hath no king, and they go forth, all of them, by their bands. [Prov. 30, 27] Because, namely, the Gentile world was forsaken, while it continued estranged from the Divine government, but yet, afterwards marshalled in order, it proceeded to the battle of faith against opposing spirits.


47. By the word ‘locust’ is expressed the tongue of the flatterer; as the plagues of Egypt, displayed from heaven, attest; which were once inflicted in a bodily manner, as their deserts demanded; but signified spiritually, what evils smite day by day the minds of the wicked. For it is written; A burning wind was bringing up the locusts, which went up over all the land of Egypt, and covered the whole face of the earth, laying waste all things. The herb of the land, therefore, was devoured, and whatever fruit was on the trees. [Ex. 10, 13-15] For Egypt was affected by these plagues, in order that being roused, and smarting thereby from an outward blow, it might consider, what losses of devastation it was enduring by inward neglect, and that, while it beheld things most trifling, but more highly esteemed, perishing without, it might feel, through looking at them, the heavier losses it had sustained within. But what do locusts, which injure the fruits of men more than any other smaller animals, portend by their signification, but the tongues of flatterers, which corrupt the mind of earthly men, if they ever observe them producing any good fruits, by praising them too immoderately? For the fruit of the Egyptians is the doings of the vain-glorious, which locusts destroy, when flattering tongues incline the heart of him who does them to seek for transitory praises. But the locusts eat up the grass, whenever any flatterers extol with applauses the words of speakers. They devour also the fruits of the trees, when by empty praises they weaken even the doings of some who now seem to be strong.


48. By the name ‘locust’ is designated by comparison the Resurrection of our Redeemer. Whence it is said also by the Prophet in His voice; I am cast out as the locust. [Ps. 109, 23] For He submitted to be held by His persecutors, even unto death, but He was cast forth as a locust, because He flew away from their hands by the leap of a sudden resurrection.


49. Which can be referred also to the body of preachers. For He was cast out in them as a locust, because, while Judaea was raging in its persecution, as they fly into different directions, they leaped, as it were, into their retreat. But because that preacher is raised to the height of perfection, who is made firm, not only by the active, but also by the contemplative life; this very perfection of preachers is rightly expressed by ‘locusts,’ which, as often as they endeavour to raise themselves into the air, first impel and raise themselves with their legs, and afterwards fly with their wings. Thus doubtless are holy men, who, when they aim at heavenly things, rely in the first place on the good works of active life, and afterwards raise themselves in flight to sublime truths by the spring of contemplation. They plant their legs firmly, and spread their wings, because they strengthen themselves by good doings, and are exalted to lofty things by their way of life. But, while dwelling in this life, they cannot remain long in divine contemplation, but, as if like locusts, they catch themselves on their feet from the leap they have given, when, after the sublimities of contemplation, they return to the necessary doings of active life; but yet are not content to remain in the same active life. But when they eagerly spring forth to contemplation, they again, as it were, seek the air in flight: and they pass their life, like locusts, soaring up and sinking down, while they ever unceasingly endeavour to behold the highest objects, and are thrown back on themselves by the weight of their corruptible nature.


50. There is a still further resemblance which locusts bear to holy preachers. For, in the morning hours, that is, at the time of moderate heat, they hardly raise themselves from the earth. But, when the heat has blazed forth, they soar aloft, the higher the more cheerfully they fly. But every holy preacher, when he beholds quiet periods of the faith, appears lowly and contemptible, and, like a locust, hardly rises, as it were, from the earth. But if the heat of persecution should wax warm, clinging in his heart to heavenly things, he soon shews how great is his sublimity: and he who seemed before to have quietly sunk to rest below, now flaps his wings, and is hurried aloft. Of that horse, therefore, that is, His preacher, the Lord says to blessed Job, Wilt thou rouse him as the locusts? Thou understandest, As I, Who by exciting raise him up to higher objects, as I suffer him to be tortured by a fiercer fire of persecution; in order that his virtue may be more strong and wakeful, when the cruelty of unbelievers dashes itself against him more furiously.


But when a holy preacher suffers many things without, when he is tortured by the dire assault of persecutions; who can discern what it is that he beholds within, who feels not his many losses without? For were there not wonderful encouragements to supply him with health within, those torments, which are applied outwardly, would doubtless reach to his heart. But his mind raises itself aloft on the citadel of hope, and therefore it fears not the weapons of the siege which has been laid to it. Whence also in this place, the Lord, in order to shew what sweet odours this horse inhales within, when suffering outwardly so many adversities, rightly adds,

The glory of his nostrils is terror.




51. In Holy Scripture by the word ‘nostrils,’ is understood sometimes folly, sometimes the instigation of the ancient enemy, but sometimes foreknowledge. For folly is sometimes designated by ‘nostrils,’ as we have already taught before, on the evidence of Solomon; who says; A ring of gold in a swine’s nostril is a beautiful and foolish woman. [Prov. 11, 22] By the name ‘nostrils’ are understood the exhaling snares and instigation of the ancient enemy; which the Lord witnesses concerning him in this very book, saying; From his nostrils proceedeth smoke. [Job 41, 20] As if He said, From his perverse instigation arises a mist of most wicked thought in the heart of men, by which the eyes of those who see are darkened. Foreknowledge is also designated by ‘nostrils,’ as is said by the Prophet; Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; because he himself is counted lofty. [Is. 2, 22] For we often detect by the smell that, which we see not, so that some things, even when lying far off, become known to us by the fragrance of their nature. And, when we draw our breath through our nostrils, we frequently foreknow some things, even when not seen. The breath of our Redeemer is, therefore, said to be in His nostrils; in order, namely, that His knowledge might be pointed out to exist in foreknowledge; because whatever things He declared that He knew in the nature of His Manhood, He doubtless foreknew before all ages by His Godhead. And, whence He possessed the breath in His nostrils, He immediately subjoined by the Prophet, saying; Because He Himself is counted lofty. As if He were saying; He foresaw from above, what would come to pass below; because He came from heaven to earth. Holy men likewise, because they have believed what they heard from Him, foresee themselves also what things are to come; and, while they faithfully obey His precepts, wait for His coming with certain hope. Whence also in this place, by the nostrils of this horse are designated the foreknowledge and expectation of a holy preacher. For while he seeks for the last judgment to arrive, for the heavenly country to be manifested, and for the rewards to be paid to the righteous, he draws, as it were, through his nostrils a breath from what is to come.


52. But the glory of his nostrils is terror; because the unrighteous dreads the coming of the vision of the strict Judge, which the righteous earnestly expects. For he, considering his labour, looks for the reward of retribution, and, knowing the merit of his cause, seeks for the presence of his Judge; and most ardently desires Him to come in flame of fire, inflicting vengeance on the ungodly, and granting the godly, in recompense, the sight of His contemplation. But he, who calls to mind his unrighteousness, shudders at coming to judgment, and dreads the examination of his actions: because he knows, that, if they are inquired into, he is convicted. The glory, therefore, of his nostrils is terror; because the righteous glories on the same ground as the sinner is convicted. Let us behold the horse, how he already draws through his nostrils a breath from those things which as yet he sees not; let us behold with what glory he is elated, when he is waiting for things that are yet to come. Behold the illustrious preacher, in looking at his labours, exclaims; I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course; I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me in that day. [2 Tim. 4, 6-8] Where also he fitly subjoins; But not to me only, but to those also who love His coming. As if he said; But to all also, who are conscious to themselves of good works. For none love the coming of the Judge, except those who know that they have in their cause the merit of righteousness. Because, therefore, the righteous boasts for the same reason, that the unrighteous is alarmed, let it be rightly said; The glory of his nostrils is terror. But let us hear, how this holy preacher meanwhile acts when placed in this life, whilst he is waiting for the coming glory, whilst striving to come before the face of his Judge, and whilst he is still put off from the reward of his labour. It follows;

Ver. 21. He diggeth up the earth with his hoof.




53. By the ‘hoof of the horse,’ the strength of labour is usually understood. What then is designated by the ‘hoof,’ except the perfection of virtues in a holy preacher? And with this hoof he, in truth, digs up the earth, when, by the example of his own works, he ejects worldly thoughts from the heart of his hearers. With his hoof he digs up the earth, because, when a good teacher shews by his conduct that the world is despised, he empties the minds of his hearers of secular cares. Let us see Paul, with what hoof of displayed virtue he digs the soil of the hearts of his hearers. For he himself says to his disciples; Think on these things, which ye hate received, and heard, and seen in me, do these things; and the God of peace shall be with you. [Phil. 4, 8. 9.] And again; Brethren, be ye imitators of me, as I also am of Christ. [1 Cor. 11, 1] He therefore, who corrects others by the example of his own conduct, doubtless digs up the earth with his hoof. We have another point, to treat still more minutely, concerning the digging of this hoof. For though holy men watch with the eye of their mind intent on heavenly things, though they spurn with the foot of hard contempt all things, which flow by and sink beneath: yet from the corruption of the earthly flesh, to which they are still bound, they frequently endure in their heart a thick dust of thoughts. And when they persuade others without to seek for the things of heaven, they ever examine, with searching enquiry, themselves within, that they may not be polluted by any degrading thought long abiding in them. This horse, therefore, digs up the earth with his hoof, when every preacher examines with bold enquiry earthly thoughts within him. The horse digs up the earth with his hoof, when he, over whom the Lord now rules, considers the mass which is heaped on him from his former thoughts, and ceases not to empty himself of it by tears. Whence also Isaac is well described, as having dug wells in a strange nation. [Gen. 26, 18] By which example we learn, in truth, when dwelling in the sorrow of this pilgrimage, to penetrate the depths of our thoughts; and that, until the water of true wisdom comes in answer to our efforts, the hand of our enquiry should not desist from clearing away the soil of the heart. Yet the aliens lying in ambush, fill up these wells, because doubtless, when unclean spirits behold us studiously digging into our heart, they pile upon us the accumulated thoughts of temptations. Our mind must accordingly be always emptied out, and unceasingly dug up, lest the soil of our thoughts, if left undisturbed, should be heaped upon us, even to a mound of evil deeds. Hence it is said to Ezekiel; Son of man, dig in the wall: [Ez. 8, 8] that is, break through hardness of heart by frequent blows of examination. Hence the Lord says to Isaiah; Enter thou into the rock, hide thyself in a ditch in the ground, from the face of the fear of the Lord, and from the glory of His Majesty. [Is. 2, 10] For we enter the rock, in truth, when we penetrate the hardness of our heart; and we are hid in a ditch in the ground from the face of the fear of our Lord, if, casting out worldly thoughts, we are concealed from the wrath of the strict Judge in the humility of our mind. For the more the earth is thrown out by digging, the lower is the surface always laid open beneath. Whence also, if we carefully cast out from ourselves earthly thoughts, the humbler spot do we find, in which to lie hid within ourselves.


54. For behold, because the day of divine judgment is imminent, the very face of His fear is already visible; and it is the more necessary for every one to fear Him with greater dread, the more the glory of His Majesty is now approaching. What then must be done, or whither must we fly? For which way can any one be concealed from Him, Who is every where? But behold we are commanded to enter the rock, to be concealed in a ditch in the ground; in order, namely, that breaking through the hardness of our heart, we may escape the invisible anger, as we withdraw, in our heart within ourselves, from the love of visible objects: and that, when the soil of evil thought is cast out, our mind may be concealed within itself, the more safely, the lower it is. Hence the people of Israel were commanded by the Lord through Moses, to place a paddle in their belt, when they went out for the necessities of nature, and to cover in a ditch in the ground, whatever had been voided. For burdened as we are by the weight of a corruptible nature, certain superfluities of thought burst forth from the womb of our mind, like the heavy burden of the belly. But we ought to carry a paddle under our belt, in order, namely, that being always ready to reprehend ourselves, we may have about us the sharp sting of compunction, to pierce unceasingly the soil of our mind with the pain of penitence, and to conceal the fetidness which breaks forth from us. For the voidance of the belly is concealed by a paddle, in a ditch in the ground, when the superfluity of our mind, examined with minute conviction, is concealed, before the eyes of God, by the sting of its own compunction. Because, therefore, holy men cease not to blame, and to sentence whatever useless thoughts they entertain, let the Lord say of His horse; He diggeth up the earth with his hoof, that is, whatever earthly thought he beholds dwelling in his mind, he doubtless breaks, with the hard blows of superinduced penitence. But when they judge themselves within with strict minuteness, there is no longer any thing for them to fear without. For they are less alarmed at present evils, the more fully they provide themselves with future goods. Whence it is also added;

He exulteth boldly, he goeth on to meet the armed men.




55. He exults boldly; because he is not broken by adversity, just as he is not elated by prosperity. For adversities cast not down him, whom no prosperities corrupt. This horse is, therefore, both bold and under the rein; he has the strength of boldness, so as not to be weighed down by adversity; he has the weight of a rider, so as not to be elevated by prosperity. For times pass on, but they are therefore unable to draw along the righteous man, because they cannot raise him up. They, doubtless, lead those along, whom they elevate: they cast down, in their wrath, those whom they exalt by their blandishments. But a man, who is thoroughly subject to God, knows how to remain fixed, among transient things, knows how to plant firmly the footsteps of his mind, amid the lapses of passing years, knows how to be neither elated at victories, nor to be afraid of opposition. But frequently, because he knows that he is more profitably exercised with the pains of his contrition, he is cheerful in adversity, and while he endures them with firmness, for the truth’s sake, he rejoices that the merit of his virtue is increased. Hence it is that we read, that the Apostles then rejoiced, when it befel them to have endured scourges for Christ’s sake, as it is written; They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. [Acts 5, 41] Hence, when Paul had been oppressed by hard persecutions in Macedonia, in insinuating that he had been afflicted, he proves that he had also been filled with joy, by saying; For when we had come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest. [2 Cor, 7, 5] As if he were plainly saying; because my spirit had rest, when my flesh endured the punishments of persecutions, through the advancement of the soul. Against this horse, therefore, there are prepared swords, by the adversaries of Holy Church, from the agony of punishments; there are prepared arms, from the patronage of secular powers. For heretics are wont to protect themselves, with the defences of the powerful of the world, as if by a kind of arms: all unbelievers are wont to impugn the preaching of the faith, by rousing also the powers of the world. But the horse of God exults boldly, and fears not outward torments, because he seeks inward delight; he dreads not the wrath of the powers of the world, because, by the rapture of his mind, he tramples down the desire even of the present life itself. Hence it is said by Solomon; Whatever shall befal the just, it will not make him sad. [Prov. 12, 21] Hence it is again written of him; The righteous, confident as a lion, will be without fear. [Prov. 28, 1] The lion is therefore not afraid in the onset of beasts, because he knows well that he is stronger than them all. Whence the fearlessness of a righteous man is rightly compared to a lion, because when he beholds any rising against him, he returns to the confidence of his mind; and knows that he overcomes all his adversaries, because he loves Him alone, Whom he cannot in any way lose against his will. For whoever seeks after outward things, which are taken from him even against his will, subjects himself, of his own accord, to outward fear. But unbroken virtue is the contempt of earthly desire, because the mind is both placed on high, when it is raised above the meanest objects, by the judgment of its hopes, and is the less affected by all adversities, the more safely it is fortified by being placed on things above.


56. This horse, therefore, not only fears not those who come against him, but even goes forth to meet them. Whence it is here properly added; He goeth on to meet the armed men. For we frequently are left in peace, and unassailed, if we are not eager to oppose the wicked in behalf of righteousness. But, if the mind has ever glowed with the desire of eternal life, if it beholds already the true light within, if it kindles in itself the flame of holy fervor; we ought, as far as the place admits, as far as the cause requires, to expose ourselves in defence of righteousness, and to oppose the wicked, who are breaking forth into deeds of unrighteousness, even when we are not sought after by them. For when they assail in others the righteousness which we ourselves love, they wound us equally with their assault, even if they seem to reverence us. Because then a holy man opposes himself to the wicked and evil doers, even when he is not sought after, it is rightly said of the horse of God; He goeth on to meet the armed men.


57. Let us behold him urged on, by the spurs of his rider, against the armed enemies; what fervour had inflamed Paul, when the flame of zeal was hurrying him on at Ephesus to break through the crowds of the theatre. For it is written, They were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians, and the city was filled with confusion; and having caught Caius and Aristarchus, Paul’s companions, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. [Acts 19, 28. 29.] And it is immediately subjoined; And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. But some also of the chiefs of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. [ib. 30. 31.] In which words we, doubtless, learn with what fury he would rush against the opposing array, unless the reins of love had restrained him, by means of his friends and disciples.


58. But if we ought to go to meet our enemies, of our own accord to seek the contest, and always to abandon ourselves in the course of our zeal, why is it that this same illustrious preacher confesses of himself, saying, At Damascus, the governor of the nation under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes, in order that he might apprehend me; and through a window in a basket was I let down by the wall, and so escaped his hands? [2 Cor. 11, 32. 33.] Why is it, that this horse attacks at one time, of his own accord, the ranks of armed men, and at another retires, as if through fear, from the armed enemies; except this, that it is necessary for us to learn, from his cunning valour, both at one time resolutely to seek for battle with our adversaries, and at another prudently to avoid it? For it is necessary for us, during every thing we do, to consider that there is placed in the balance of our mind on one side the weight, and on the other the fruit of our labour, and that when the weight outweighs the benefit, any one may innocently decline the labour; provided he employs himself on other pursuits in which the weight of the labour is outweighed by the gain of the benefits. But when the amount of labour is either equalled, or outweighed, by the subsequent amount of benefits, the labour is not avoided without great blame. Whence the holy preacher, when he perceived that the minds of his persecutors at Damascus were grievously obstinate, was unwilling to engage with their opposition; because he saw that he himself, who, he knew, would be profitable to many, could fall, and that he could be of use to none or but few there. He, therefore, sought for a retreat from the contest, and reserved himself for other battles, to fight with greater success. For courage was not wanting to the opportunity, but an opportunity for his courage; and therefore the most courageous soldier sought, from the closeness of the siege, the field of battle. But, wherever he beheld many necks of his adversaries to be brought into subjection to his own King, he feared not to engage in battle even with death, as he himself, (when he was going to Jerusalem, and the disciples were hindering him, having foreknown his suffering by prophecy,) witnesses to himself, saying, I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem, for the name of the Lord Jesus. [Acts 21, 13] Neither count I my life dearer than myself. [ib. 20, 24] He therefore who sought undauntedly, in this place, the ranks of the enemy, even when he foreknew his suffering, taught in the other that it was of dispensation, not of fear, that he fled.


59. On which subject we must consider that he, who boldly endures other greater labours for God’s sake, laudably declines certain labours, through the judgment of dispensation. For feeble fear is often called, by men, cautious dispensation; and they declare that they have avoided the onset as if through prudence, when, flying disgracefully, they are wounded in their backs. Whence it is necessary in a cause of God, when a question of dispensation is discussed, for the fear of the heart to be weighed most accurately in the balance; lest fear should steal in through infirmity, and feign itself to be reason, through a semblance of dispensation; lest a fault should term itself prudence, and the mind should return no more to penitence, when it calls that which it does wrong, a virtue. It remains, therefore, for every one involved in doubts, when any adversity hangs over him, to contend first within himself against fear and precipitation; in order that he may neither withdraw himself through fear, nor yet precipitately oppose himself. For he is very precipitate, who always opposes himself to adversities; and he is very cowardly, who always hides himself.


60. But we learn these things the better in contests of the spirit, if we adopt our form of exercise from contests of the body. For he is not a wise leader, who always precipitately advances his army against the ranks of the enemy; nor is he a bold leader, who always withdraws it, through caution, from the face of the enemy. For a general ought to know how, at one time carefully to withdraw his army from the assault of the enemy, and at another, to press him close by drawing his wings around him. And perfect preachers doubtless carefully exhibit this skill, when at one time, avoiding the rage of persecution, they know how to retire, wisely, but not weakly; and when at another, despising the assault of persecution, they know how to meet it boldly, but not precipitately. But, because a holy man, when he sees it fitting, exposes his breast to blows, and beats back, even when dying, the shafts that are coming against him, it is righty said, He goeth on to meet the armed men. Of whom it is still further rightly subjoined;

Ver. 22. He mocketh at fear, and yieldeth not to the sword.




61. Let us see how he mocks at fear, who, as he counts, tramples under foot the swords of the adversaries. For he says, Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or famine, or persecution? [Rom. 8, 35] In fear, coming punishment is dreaded; but in the sword, pain is felt already from a present blow. Because therefore a holy man dreads not coming evils, he despises fear: but because he is not overcome even by a blow as it comes upon him, he yields not at all to the sword. Against this horse then there are as many swords of enemies as there are kinds of persecutions, all which he meets and overcomes, because from the love of life, he prepares himself for destruction. But since we have heard how so very sturdy a breast exposes itself to the shafts, let us now hear what is done by the adversaries. It follows;

Ver. 23. Over him will rattle the quiver.




62. In Holy Scripture by the word ‘quiver’ is designated, sometimes the just and hidden counsel of God; but sometimes the clandestine machination of the wicked. By ‘quiver’ is expressed the just and hidden counsel of God, as this same blessed Job in a former part bears witness, saying, Because He hath opened His quiver, and afflicted me. [Job 30, 11] That is, He has disclosed His hidden counsel, and has wounded me with an open blow. For as arrows lie hid in the quiver, so do sentences lie hid in the secret counsel of God: and an arrow is drawn, as it were, from the quiver, when God launches forth an open sentence from His secret counsel. The machination of the wicked is also designated by the word ‘quiver,’ as is said by the Prophet, They have made their arrows in the quiver, that they may shoot in darkness at the upright in heart. For when the wicked conceal by secret machinations the schemes, which they plan against the good, they prepare, as it were, arrows in the quiver, and in this gloom of the present life, as if in darkness, they strike the upright in heart; because their malicious shafts can both be felt by their wound, and yet cannot be discovered as they are coming. Because therefore the horse of God is alarmed by no adversity, and the more he is opposed, the more ardently is he led against the armed enemies by the power of his intention; his persecutors, who perceive that they are defeated even when striking him, being confounded, have recourse to skill, prepare stratagems, and conceal, as it were, their wounds by launching them from a distance; whence it is now rightly said, Over him will rattle the quiver; that they may strike him from a distance, by secret machination, whom they approach in vain with open onset. This quiver had rattled over the horse of God, when forty men who had conspired for his death, were seeking for Paul to be brought out of prison; that they might kill him, with the blows of their designs, as though secretly, by the craft of arrows, whom they could not at all overcome by the attack of public persecution. The quiver therefore rattled; because the cause of secret machination came to Paul.


63. Although if we attentively enquire, we find a still deeper meaning in the sound of the quiver. For adversaries frequently enter into designs against the good, rely on wicked inventions, betake themselves to devise schemes; but yet themselves engage, themselves send persons, who should disclose these same schemes to the good; in order that, while the preparation of punishment is secretly, as it were, made known to the credulous, it may be the more dreaded; and that wounds suspected may the more disturb the mind of the bearer, than if inflicted. For, while arrows are concealed, and rattle in the quiver, they threaten death even though unseen. The quiver, therefore, rattles against the horse, when the hidden machination of the wicked against a holy preacher discloses, even more fraudulently, the design which it fraudulently conceals; in order that, by launching its threats beforehand, it may frighten, as if by the sound of the quiver, when the preacher of God fears not open insults, as weapons which strike him close at hand. But when he is not alarmed by these same threats, the cruelty of persecutors soon proceeds to open punishments. Whence, after it is said, Over him will rattle the quiver, it is immediately rightly added;

The spear will shake.




64. The spear is shaken against the preacher of God, after the rattling of the quiver, when, after terrors have been displayed, open punishment is now brought forward, striking near at hand. But holy preachers, when they are undergoing punishments in defence of the faith, cease not, even in the midst of blows, to seize those, whom they are able, to the same faith. And when they patiently receive wounds, they skilfully return the arrows of preaching against the hearts of unbelievers. Whence it is sometimes the case, that the very persons who are raging in persecution, grieve not so much, because they do not soften the heart of the preacher, as because, by his words, they lose others also. Because then they do not overcome him by striking him, lest others who hear him should forsake them, they soon prepare, against the words of the speaker, the shield of reply. Whence when He was saying, The spear will shake, He rightly subjoins;

And the shield.


65. For, after the raging persecutor smites with punishment the body of the preacher, he protects the heart of his hearers with the words of his disputation, as if with a shield. The spear, then, is shaken, that the holy man may be smitten; but the shield is placed in the way, that he may not be heard. For the defenders of God have their own arrows in the battle, which they launch more speedily into the hearts of their hearers, as they draw them from the bow of the spirit, that is, from the inmost tension of the heart. For Paul had armed himself with these, in the contest of faith, when saying, I suffer, even to bonds, as an evil doer; but the word of God is not bound. [2 Tim. 2, 9] As if he were saying; I am struck indeed with the spear of punishments, but yet cease not to launch forth the arrows of my words. I receive the wounds of cruelty, but I transfix the hearts of the unbelievers, by speaking the truth. Let it be said therefore; Over him will rattle the quiver, the spear will shake, and the shield. For the quiver rattles against the horse of God, because the counsels of the wicked resound about him; because open punishment is sought for, the spear is shaken; but because he is opposed by disputation also, the shield is wielded before him. But is he at all restrained from his warmth by these means? For with the greater persecution a holy man is oppressed, the more eagerly is he urged on to preach the truth; and, while he submits patiently to his persecutors, he eagerly hastens to attract his hearers to himself. Whence it is still further rightly added concerning the horse of God,

Ver. 24. Raging and snorting he swalloweth the earth, neither believeth he that the blast of the trumpet soundeth.




66. For it was said to the first man when he sinned; Earth thou art, and to earth shalt thou go. [Gen. 3, 19] But the trumpets sound, when the powers of this world awfully prohibit holy men from preaching. Because, therefore, a preacher, inflamed by the zeal of the Holy Spirit, ceases not, even when set in the midst of punishments, to attract any sinners whomsoever to himself, he doubtless in his rage swalloweth the earth, but because he fears not at all the threats of persecutors, he believeth not that the blast of the trumpet soundeth. For what else is the ‘trumpet,’ which announces the peril of the contest, but the voice of worldly powers, which prepares when contemned the contest of death for those who resist?


67. This trumpet had been sounded by the chief priests, when they commanded the Apostles, when scourged, not to speak of God; as it is written; They commanded them, when they had been scourged, that they should not preach in the name of Jesus. [Acts 5, 40] But let us see how the blast of the trumpet frightens not the horse of God. Peter says; We ought to obey God, rather than men. [ib. 29] Who says also to others who were persecuting him; For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [Acts 4, 20] The horse of God, therefore, fears not the blast of the trumpet, because the illustrious preacher, having despised the powers of the world, fears not the sounds of any threats.


68. Let us see how another horse of God swalloweth the earth, and how no dread of the trumpet reaches him. For it is written; There came down certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, and, having persuaded the multitude, they stoned Paul, and drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. But, as the disciples stood about him, he rose up, and came into the city, and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the Gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned to Lystrum, and Iconium, and Antioch, confirming the souls of the disciples. [Acts 14, 19-22] Let us consider, therefore, what threats could check this horse, when even death itself cannot keep him from his intention. Behold, he is overwhelmed with stones, and yet is not moved away from the word of the truth. He can be killed, he cannot be overcome. He is cast forth without the city as though he were dead. But he is found within the city another day an uninjured preacher. Oh ! what a noble weakness is there in this man! how victorious his punishment! how triumphant his endurance! He is by repulse stimulated to action: he is roused by blows to preach salvation, he is refreshed by punishment to cast off the weariness of toil. What adversity then can overcome him, whom punishment refreshes. But this horse of God both despises the arrows of the quiver, because he contemns the counsels of wickedness; he overcomes the brandished spear, because he strengthens his breast even against the wounds of open persecution; he breaks through the opposed shield, because he subdues by reasoning the disputation of opponents; he swalloweth the earth, because, by exhortation, he converts sinners into his own body: he believeth not that the blast of the trumpet soundeth, because he tramples down every voice of terrible prohibition. But that which is said of him, that he boldly perseveres in labours, is a smaller matter; he, besides, (which is a greater thing,) exults in adversities. Whence it follows;

Ver. 25. When he heareth the trumpet, he saith, Vah.




69. By which words this also is plainly shewn, that, in this place, nothing is said by the Lord of the irrational horse. For a brute animal cannot say, ‘Vah;’ but while it is said to say that, which it is quite unable to say, it is pointed out whom it designates. For ‘Vah’ is a word of exultation. The horse, therefore, says ‘Vah,’ on hearing the trumpet, because every bold preacher, when he thinks the contest of suffering approaching, exults in the exercise of virtue: and is not alarmed at the peril of the contest, because he rejoices in the triumph of victory. For the horse, therefore, to say, ‘Vah,’ is for a holy preacher to rejoice in his approaching suffering. But if a bold preacher seeks the glory of suffering, if he seeks with joy to undergo the peril of death for the Lord’s sake; why is it that the Truth declared to Peter, that boldest preacher, who from his sturdy heart, adopted his virtue in his name; When thou shall be old, thou shall stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and lead thee whither thou wouldest not? [John 21, 18] How does he rejoice in his suffering, who being girt by another, will not go whither he is led? But if we consider how the mind is shaken by the approach of suffering, and the fear of death, and yet rejoices at the coming reward of the kingdom, we understand how it is willingly unwilling to undergo the peril of a glorious contest: because it both considers in death what to endure and fear, and it beholds in the fruit of death what to long and seek for.


70. Let us see how Paul loves what he shrinks from, how he shrinks from what he loves. For he says, I have a desire to be dissolved, and to be with Christ. [Phil. 1, 23] And, To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. [ib. 21] And yet he says, We that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened, not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [2 Cor. 5, 4] Behold he both longs to die, and yet is afraid of being stripped of the flesh. Why is this? Because, though victory makes him joyful for ever, punishment nevertheless disturbs him for the present: and though the love of the subsequent gift prevails, yet the blow of sorrow grazes the mind, not without pain. For as a bold man, when he girds himself with arms, as the strife of battle is now approaching, both palpitates, and is in haste, trembles, and is wroth; seems, through his paleness, as if afraid, but is urged on vehemently by his anger; in like manner a holy man, when he sees himself drawing near to his suffering, is both agitated by the weakness of his nature, and strengthened by the firmness of his hope; both trembles at approaching death, and yet exults at living, through his death, a truer life. For he cannot pass over to the kingdom, except by the intervention of death; and is therefore doubtful, as it were, in his confidence, and confident, as it were, in his doubts; both fears with joy, and rejoices with fear; because he knows that he cannot arrive at the prize of rest, without passing with labour that which intervenes. Thus we, when we wish to repel diseases from our body, take with sorrow, indeed, the bitter cup of purgation; but rejoice as being certain of subsequent health. For since our body cannot otherwise attain to health, we are pleased even with that which is offensive in the draught. And when the mind beholds that life dwells in the bitterness, it rejoices when agitated with sorrow. Let it be said then, when he heareth the trumpet, he saith, Vah; because a bold preacher, on hearing tidings of the contest, though, as a man, he trembles at the violence of persecution, yet, through the certainty of hope, exults at the reward of the recompense. But he would not remain unmoved at this contest of suffering, if he did not anticipate this same suffering by meditating intently in thought upon it. For an evil, which is anticipated by wisdom, is, by reason, overcome by the mind which is struggling against it. Because a person is less overcome by adversity the more he is found prepared against it, by knowing it beforehand. For a heavy burden of fear is frequently made lighter by habit. Death itself, as it frequently startles when unexpected, so does it give us joy when anticipated by deliberation. Whence it is also rightly subjoined concerning this horse;

He smelleth the battle afar off.


71. As if it were said more plainly; He overcomes in every contest whatsoever, because before the contest he prepares his mind for the contest. For to ‘smell the battle afar off,’ is so to foresee in thought misfortunes when yet far distant, that they may not, by being unexpected, be able to overcome him. Paul was admonishing his disciples to smell this battle afar off, when he was saying, Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. [2 Cor. 13, 5] As if he were openly charging them, saying, Call to mind the contests of persecutions, and considering the inmost and secret thoughts of your hearts, discover, what ye are able to continue in the midst of sufferings. Holy men smell this battle from afar, when dwelling even in the peace of the Church Universal, they behold either contests with heretics, or the tortures of persecutions hanging over them from unbelievers. Who while they live uprightly, often receive evil for good, and bear contentedly the insults of detractions, in order that if an occasion of persecution should arise, their open enemies may find them the more resolute, the more the shafts of false brethren also within the Church overcome them not. For he, who falls from a state of patience before the wounds of tongues, witnesses for himself, that he stands not firm against the swords of open persecution. Because therefore a man of God, being exercised by present trials contends against future, and exercised by the smallest trials contends against greater; it is rightly said of the horse of God, that he smelleth the battle afar off. It follows;

The exhortation of the captains, and the howling of the army.




72. The captains of the adverse part are the authors of error, of whom it is said by the Psalmist, Contention is poured forth over their princes, and their vain things led them astray, and He caused them to wander in the pathless place, and not in the path. [Ps. 107, 40] Of whom the Truth says by Itself, If the blind lead the blind, both fall into the ditch. [Matt. 15, 14] But an army follows these captains, that is to say the crowd of the wicked, which obeys their unjust commands. It must also be observed, that He says that the captains exhort, and that the army howls; because, namely, they who rule over unbelievers or heretics enforce, as if by reason, the wicked practices they order to be observed. But the crowd subject to them, because it follows their commands without judgment, whilst it clamours through the madness of confusion, is said to howl with bestial mind. For howling properly belongs to wolves. And, because the bands of the reprobate are eager with rapacity alone, against the life and habits of the faithful, they shout as if with howling. The horse of God, therefore, smelleth afar off the exhortation of the captains, and the howling of the army, when each holy preacher considers long beforehand, either what the authors of errors are able to command against the Elect, or how fiercely the crowd which is subject to them can rage. Paul was smelling this exhortation of the captains, when saying, By sweet words and fair speeches they seduce the hearts of the innocent. [Rom. 16, 18] He was smelling this howling of the army, when saying, After my departure shall grievous wolves enter in among you. [Acts 20, 29] Peter had smelled out the exhortation of the captains, when he was warning the disciples against certain persons, saying, Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandize of you. [2 Pet 2, 3] He was smelling the howling of the army, when he was premising, saying, And many will follow their lasciviousnesses, by whom the way of truth is evil spoken of. [ib. 2]


73. Because, therefore, we have related, what kind of person each holy preacher, and leader of the faith in the war of persecution, is able to display himself, let us now describe, under the figure of this horse, each single soldier of Christ: that he also, who considers that he has not yet arrived at the height of preaching, may yet know, that he is described by this voice of the Lord, if he has already begun to live aright; in order to infer from hence, how much he may be known to God, if he attain to greater things, if God omits not to speak of him significantly, even in his smallest deeds. Let us repeat, therefore, the particulars which have been mentioned of the horse, and make known how the soldier of God advances from his original conversation, how he increases, from the least to greater things, or by what steps he arrives from the lowest to the highest. Let it be said, then,

Ver. 15. Wilt thou give the horse strength, or wilt thou surround his neck with neighing.




74. Upon every soul, over which the Lord mercifully rules, He confers, above all things, the strength of faith: of which Peter says, Your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist, strong in the faith. [l Pet. 5, 8. 9.] But neighing is joined to this strength, when that takes place which is written, With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, but with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [Rom. 10, 10] It follows;

Ver. 20. with thou rouse him as the locusts?






75. Every one, who follows God, is, at his beginning, roused as a locust, because, though in some of his doings he clings to the earth, like the locusts, with bended knees, yet in some of them he raises himself up into the air with expanded wings. For the beginnings of conversions are a mixture of good and evil habits, whilst both the new life is carried on in intention, and the old life is still retained from habit. But we are so much the less injured by the evil being meanwhile mixed up with us, the more we daily contend against it without ceasing. Nor does the fault, whose evil habit our mind anxiously opposes, claim us any longer as its own. And therefore, worldly pursuits injure us less, when beginners; because they are forbidden to remain any longer within us. Accordingly, because the Lord mercifully tolerates some weaknesses in us in the very beginning of our conversion, that He may lead us at length to heavenly things, by perfection, He rouses us at first as locusts; because though He raises us aloft by the flight of virtue, He yet despairs not at our falling by worldly doing. It follows;

The glory of his nostrils is terror.




76. Because a thing, which is not seen, is detected by its smell, by the word ‘nostrils’ are expressed, not improperly, the thoughts of our hope; by which we already foresee in hope the coming judgment, though we as yet behold it not with our eyes. But every one, who begins to live righteously, on hearing that the righteous are, by the last judgment, summoned to the kingdom, is joyful; but because he considers that some evils are still remaining within him, he dreads the approach of this very judgment, about which he is beginning to rejoice. For he beholds his life to be a mixture of good and evil, and confuses his thoughts, in a measure, with hope and fear. For when he hears what are the joys of the kingdom, happiness immediately elevates his mind; and again when he considers what are the torments of hell, fear immediately disturbs his mind. The ‘glory of his nostrils’ is therefore well called ‘terror:’ because being placed between hope and fear, whilst he beholds in his mind the future judgment, he dreads the very thing, from which he glories. His own glory is itself his terror; because, having commenced good deeds, he rejoices in hope at the judgment, and, not having yet put an end to his evil doings, he is not entirely free from anxiety. But he meanwhile anxiously turns back to his own mind, casting away the storms of so great strength, and, composing himself in the calmness of peace alone, endeavours with all his powers to be found free by the strict Judge. For he counts it slavish to dread the presence of the Lord; and, that he may not fear the sight of his Father, he does those things, by which He may recognise him as His son. He learns therefore, to love his Judge with full expectation, and, so to speak, through fear he casts away fear. But he considers, that fear arises in the heart, by reason of carnal conduct, and therefore, before all things, he chastens his flesh with firm discipline. Whence, after it has been said, The glory of his nostrils is terror; it is rightly subjoined;

Ver. 21. He diggeth up the earth with his hoof.




77. For to dig the earth with the hoof, is to tame the flesh by strict abstinence. But the more the flesh is kept down, the more fearlessly does the mind rejoice, from the hope of heaven. And hence, when the earth has been dug out, it is fitly subjoined; He exulteth boldly. For since he firmly represses that which contends against him, he exults boldly at those things, which he longs for in everlasting peace; and his mind is the better disposed to seek for heavenly objects, the more strictly the body is restrained from unlawful pursuits. Whence it is rightly said by Solomon, Diligently cultivate thy field, that thou mayest afterwards build thine house. [Prov. 24, 27] For he rightly builds the house of his mind, who first cleanses the field of his body from the thorns of vices; that the whole fabric of virtues may not be destroyed within, as the famine of good works increases, if the thorns of desires make head in the field of the flesh. But any one, who is engaged in the very height of the battle, discerns more skilfully the fraud of the enemies, the more strictly also he keeps under his own body, as though it were a confederate of the foe. Whence also after the bruising of the body, after the joy of the heart, it is rightly subjoined;

He goeth on to meet the armed men.




78. Armed enemies are unclean spirits, girded with count- less frauds against us. For, when they cannot persuade us to what is wrong, they present it to our sight under the guise of virtues, and cover themselves, as it were, under certain arms, that they may not appear before us in their own naked wickedness. And we proceed to meet these armed men, when we foresee their stratagems afar off. To go forth, therefore, to meet the armed enemies, after the earth has been dug up, is, after the pride of the flesh has been tamed, to search out wonderfully the crafts of unclean spirits. To go forth to meet the armed enemies, after the earth has been dug up, is, after the wickedness of the flesh has been overcome, to engage in contest with spiritual vices. For he, who as yet contends but feebly with himself, vainly rouses against himself contests from without. For how does he, who subjugates himself to sins of the flesh, contend against those of the spirit? Or how does he seek to triumph from the labour of an outward contest, who still gives way in himself to the inward battle with lust?


79. Or certainly we go out to meet armed enemies, when, by zeal of exhortation, we prevent their stratagems even in the heart of another. For we go, as it were, from the place in which we were, to another place, to meet our enemies, when we put aside the care of ourselves in regular course, and keep off the approach of evil spirits from the mind of our neighbour. Whence it is frequently the case, that crafty enemies tempt the more terribly, concerning himself, the soldier of God, who is already victorious in the contest within, the more they see that he is mightily prevailing against them even in the heart of another; in order that, when they call him back to defend himself, they may the more freely attack the hearts of others, which were protected by his exhortation. And since they cannot overcome, they endeavour, at least, to employ him, so that, while the soldier of God is staggered about himself, not he himself, but he, whom he had been wont to defend, may perish. But his mind, immovably fixed on God, despises the darts of temptations, and fears not the shafts of any terror. For, relying on the aid of grace from above, he so tends the wounds of his own infirmity, as not to neglect those of others. Whence it is also well subjoined concerning this horse;

Ver. 22. He mocketh at fear, and yieldeth not to the sword.




80. He mocketh at fear, because he is not so far alarmed by fear of any temptation, as to keep silence. And he yieldeth not to the sword; because though violent temptation assails him, it yet drives him not away from the care of his neighbour. Whence also Paul, teaching us an example of resolute conversation, both states what swords he endures from the enemy, and shews how he yields not to these same swords. For he had endured from the enemy the sword of carnal temptation, after every contest with the works of the flesh had been already overcome, who said; I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and leading me captive to the law of sin, which is in my members. [Rom. 7, 23] But to that sword, which he had overcome in himself, he yielded not in others also, when saying in truth, to those about him; Let not sin reign in your mortal body, to obey the desires thereof. [Rom. 6, 12] And again; Mortify your members, which are upon the earth, fornication, uncleanness, lust, evil concupiscence. [Col. 3, 5] There smote him more heavily the sword of those temptations, of which he himself says, In more numerous labours, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one, thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, by night and by day I have been in the deep of the sea. [2 Cor. 11, 23-25] And other sufferings, which he was able to endure, and we are weary of enumerating. But how, from love to his neighbour, he yields not to this sword, after stating many things, he himself subjoins; Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the Churches. [ib. 28] The horse of God is therefore smitten with the sword, and yet is not, by this blow, kept from his course, whilst the bold soldier in the spiritual contest both receives himself wounds from the enemy, and yet binds [or ‘smites.’ (strength)] others, for their salvation. But, against this so hard breast of the heavenly soldier, the ancient enemy seeks the more for sharper weapons, as he beholds himself more resolutely despised. Whence it also follows;

Ver. 23. Over him will rattle the quiver, the spear will shake, and the shield.




81. For since he sees that the zeal of a holy mind helps others also against him, he labours to wound it with multiplied temptation. Whence it frequently happens, that they who rule over others under them, endure severer struggles with temptations; in order, that when the leader himself is put to flight, after the manner of bodily contests, the associated unanimity of the resisting host may be dispersed without an effort. Therefore the crafty enemy, devising divers wounds of blows against the heavenly soldier, wounds him at one time by stratagem, by an arrow from the quiver, at another brandishes a spear before his face; because, namely, he both conceals some vices under the guise of virtues, and presents others to his sight openly as they are. For where he perceives the soldier of God to be weakened, he there requires not the veil of deceit. But where he observes that he firmly opposes him, he there doubtless contrives stratagems against his strength. For when he sees any one weak in an allurement of the flesh, he openly sets before his sight the appearance of a body capable of being desired. But if perchance he sees that he is mighty against avarice, he importunately suggests to his thoughts the want of those of his family; in order that, while the mind is directed, with seeming piety, to the care of providing for them, it may be secretly seduced and hurried into sin by seeking after wealth. The arrow then insidiously assails the horse of God, when the crafty enemy conceals for him a vice beneath a virtue. But the spear wounds in close combat, when open wickedness tempts him, even aware of it.


82. But the heavenly soldier is often opposed by the enemy in both ways, at one and the same time; in order that he may be destroyed by some one blow. For the crafty adversary endeavours to strike at the same time, both raging openly, and lurking in ambush; in order that while the arrow is dreaded from a secret spot, the spear may be less feared before his face; or that, while he withstands the spear before his face, the arrow may not be observed when coming from a secret place. For he often puts forward the temptation of lust, and suddenly desisting, more craftily suggests pride at chastity having been preserved. And there are some, who when they observe that many have fallen, from the stronghold of chastity, into the pit of pride, neglecting to watch over their life, are plunged into the filthiness of lust. But there are some, on the other hand, who, while they avoid the uncleanness of lust, plunge, through the height of chastity, into the gulph of pride. A fault therefore, which springs from a vice, is, as it were, a spear striking openly; and a fault which springs from a virtue, is, as it were, an arrow from the quiver wounding in secret. But the horse of God both overcomes the spear before his face, when he tramples down lust; and looks round at the arrow on the side, when, in the cleanness of chastity, he keeps himself from pride. Whence also it is well said by Solomon to one engaged in both contests; The Lord shall be on thy side, and will keep thy foot, that thou be not taken. [Prov. 3, 26] For the foot stretches out to things in front. But he, who beholds those things which are on the side, sees not those things which are before him. And again, he, who from looking forward to guard his foot, beholds what are before, gives up keeping watch at his side. But whilst we perform any act of virtue before our face, we look forward, as it were, where our foot ought to be placed; but when a fault secretly rises up from this virtue, whilst we look forward, as it were, our side is laid open to the arrow. But frequently, when we are afraid of a rising fault, we decline the virtue, which ought to be put in act; and when the side is, as it were, looked round upon, we see not how the foot is to be placed in front. It is, therefore, well said, The Lord shall be on thy side, and will keep thy foot that thou be not taken; because the soldier of God, protected by the shield of Divine grace, both observes, by looking round, what dangers can come forth on the side, and, by advancing forwards, ceases not to place his footsteps before his face. And the crafty enemy who envies him, because he sees that he prevails not at all by quiver and spear, opposes to him his shield; in order that, if he pierces not the breast of his opponent by striking it, he may at least obstruct his onward course by some obstacles. For to his efforts he opposes certain difficulties; and when he is unable to overcome, he however resists him. But let us hear, what the horse of God does against the arguments of so many contests;

Ver. 24. Raging and snorting, he swalloweth the earth, neither believeth he that the blast of the trumpet soundeth.




83. The blast of the trumpet sounds against the horse, when any sin, placed nigh, fearfully assails the mind of an Elect one, in that which he does boldly. But raging and snorting he swalloweth the earth, because he rouses himself by his violent ardour; and consumes, by daily advancing, whatever earthly things he finds within him. And he believeth not that the blast of the trumpet soundeth; because he carefully avoids, by firm consideration, all evil which arises from the glory of his virtue. For he would believe that the blast of the trumpet soundeth, if he were, perchance, to be afraid of doing other things which are right, on account of something else which wickedly springs from them. Because, therefore, he is not afraid of acting boldly, even in the presence of temptations sounding against him; he does not, when in his rage, dread the blast of the trumpet. But often, when he sees that he is prosperous in virtues, lest that very prosperity of virtues should exalt him, he rejoices that he is assaulted with temptations. Whence it is also fitly subjoined;

Ver. 25. When he heareth the trumpet, he saith, Vah.




84. For their own good fortune has more fatally over-thrown many, and a long-continued peace has rendered many slothful; and the unexpected enemy has struck them the more heavily, the more he has found them careless, from being long used to quiet. Whence holy men, when they observe that they are advancing in great prosperity of virtues, rejoice that they are exercised also with temptations, by a kind of adjustment of heavenly dispensation; because they guard the more firmly the glory received in their virtues, the more humbly they acknowledge their own infirmity, from being assaulted with the shock of temptation. The horse, therefore, says, ‘Vah,’ when he has heard the trumpet, because, namely, the warrior of God, when he beholds the force of temptation pressing on him, considering the benefit of the heavenly dispensation, is more firmly confident, from his very adversity. And the assaults of this adversity therefore do not overcome him, because they never attack him unexpectedly. For he marks long beforehand, from each circumstance, of what vice the assault is coming on. Whence it also follows;

He smelleth the battle afar off.




85. For, to ‘smell the battle afar off,’ is to discern from preceding causes, what contests of vices succeed. For because, (as has been already frequently said,) a thing which is not seen, is discerned by its smell, to smell the battle afar off is to search out lurking wickedness, by the looking forward of our thoughts, as if by the breath of our nostrils. Of which power of scent the Lord rightly says in the praise of His Church, Thy nose is as the tower, which is in Libanus. [Cant. 7, 4] We distinguish also by the nose between odours and foul smells. And what is designated by the nose, but the farseeing discernment of the saints? But a watch-tower is placed on high, that the approaching enemy may be seen from far. The nose of the Church is therefore rightly said to be like the tower in Libanus; because while the far-seeing discernment of the saints, being placed on high, looks anxiously on all sides, it discovers a fault before it arrives; and as it watchfully marks it beforehand, so it boldly avoids it. Hence Habakkuk says, I will stand upon my watch. [Hab. 2, 1] Hence Jeremiah, admonishing the soul of each Elect one, says, Set thee up a watch-tower, place thyself bitternesses. [Jer. 31, 21] For, to set one’s self a watch-tower, is to foreknow by lofty considerations the approaching struggles of vices. And the soul of an Elect person places itself bitternesses, when firmly rooted even in the peace of virtues, it consents not to rest secure, on beholding evils in ambush.


86. But he takes thought, first, not to commit any evils, and secondly, not to do good things inconsiderately; and, after he has subdued wickednesses, he strives also to subject to himself his very virtues, lest they should be converted into the sin of pride, if they should get beyond the control of the mind. For since, as has before been said, evils frequently spring from good deeds, through the vice of negligence; he observes with watchful zeal how arrogance rises from learning, cruelty from justice, carelessness from tenderness, anger from zeal, sloth from gentleness. And, when he performs these good deeds, he observes that these enemies are by these means able to rise against him. For when he is labouring diligently in acquiring learning, he anxiously prepares his mind for the struggle with arrogance. And when he desires to punish justly the faults of offenders, he most skilfully avoids the severity of punishment exceeding the measure of justice. When he endeavours to restrain himself by tenderness, he carefully provides not to be overcome by any relaxation of discipline. When he rouses himself by the stimulants of right zeal, he specially takes care, that the flame of anger may not kindle him more than is necessary. When he controls himself with great tranquillity of gentleness, he keeps careful watch, not to be chilled by torpor. Because, therefore, in the thought of the spiritual soldier every vice is detected before it can steal in secretly, it is rightly said of the horse of God; He smelleth the battle afar off. For he considers what a crowd of iniquities would rush on him, were he to allow ever so few sins to enter within him. Whence it also follows;

The exhortation of the captains, and the howling of the army.




87. For the tempting vices, which fight against us in invisible contest in behalf of the pride which reigns over them, some of them go first, like captains, others follow, after the manner of an army. For all faults do not occupy the heart with equal access. But while the greater and the few surprise a neglected mind, the smaller and the numberless pour themselves upon it in a whole body. For when pride, the queen of sins, has fully possessed a conquered heart, she surrenders it immediately to seven principal sins, as if to some of her generals, to lay it waste. And an army in truth follows these generals, because, doubtless, there spring up from them importunate hosts of sins. Which we set forth the better, if we specially bring forward in enumeration, as we are able, the leaders themselves and their army. For pride is the root of all evil, of which it is said, as Scripture bears witness; Pride is the beginning of all sin. [Ecclus. 10, 1] But seven principal vices, as its first progeny, spring doubtless from this poisonous root, namely, vain glory, envy, anger, melancholy, avarice, gluttony, lust. For, because He grieved that we were held captive by these seven sins of pride, therefore our Redeemer came to the spiritual battle of our liberation, full of the spirit of sevenfold grace.


88. But these several sins have each their army against us. For from vain glory there arise disobedience, boasting, hypocrisy, contentions, obstinacies, discords, and the presumptions of novelties. From envy there spring hatred, whispering, detraction, exultation at the misfortunes of a neighbour, and affliction at his prosperity. From anger are produced strifes, swelling of mind, insults, clamour, indignation, blasphemies. From melancholy there arise malice, rancour, cowardice, despair, slothfulness in fulfilling the commands, and a wandering of the mind on unlawful objects. From avarice there spring treachery, fraud, deceit, perjury, restlessness, violence, and hardnesses of heart against compassion. From gluttony are propagated foolish mirth, scurrility, uncleanness, babbling, dulness of sense in understanding. From lust are generated blindness of mind, inconsiderateness, inconstancy, precipitation, self-love, hatred of God, affection for this present world, but dread or despair of that which is to come. Because, therefore, seven principal vices produce from themselves so great a multitude of vices, when they reach the heart, they bring, as it were, the bands of an army after them. But of these seven, five namely are spiritual, and two are carnal.


89. But they are, each of them, so closely connected with other, that they spring only the one from the other. For the first offspring of pride is vain glory, and this, when it hath corrupted the oppressed mind, presently begets envy. Because doubtless while it is seeking the power of an empty name, it feels envy against any one else being able to obtain it. Envy also generates anger; because the more the mind is pierced by the inward wound of envy, the more also is the gentleness of tranquillity lost. And because a suffering member, as it were, is touched, the hand of opposition is therefore felt as if more heavily impressed. Melancholy also arises from anger, because the more extravagantly the agitated mind strikes itself, the more it confounds itself by condemnation; and when it has lost the sweetness of tranquillity, nothing supports it but the grief resulting from agitation. Melancholy also runs down into avarice; because, when the disturbed heart has lost the satisfaction of joy within, it seeks for sources of consolation without, and is more anxious to possess external goods, the more it has no joy on which to fall back within. But after these, there remain behind two carnal vices, gluttony and lust. But it is plain to all that lust springs from gluttony, when in the very distribution of the members, the genitals appear placed beneath the belly. And hence when the one is inordinately pampered, the other is doubtless excited to wantonness.


90. But the leaders are well said to exhort, the armies to howl, because the first vices force themselves into the deluded mind as if under a kind of reason, but the countless vices which follow, while they hurry it on to every kind of madness, confound it, as it were, by bestial clamour. For vain glory is wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, Thou oughtest to aim at greater things, that, as thou hast been able to surpass many in power, thou mayest be able to benefit many also. Envy is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, In what art thou inferior to this or that person? why then art thou not either equal or superior to them? What great things art thou able to do, which they are not able to do! They ought not then to be either superior, or even equal, to thyself. Anger is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, The things that are done to thee cannot be borne patiently; nay rather, patiently to endure them is a sin; because if thou dost not withstand them with great indignation, they are afterwards heaped upon thee without measure. Melancholy is also wont to exhort the conquered heart as if with reason, when it says, What ground hast thou to rejoice, when thou endurest so many wrongs from thy neighbours? Consider with what sorrow all must be looked upon, who are turned in such gall of bitterness against thee. Avarice also is wont to exhort the conquered mind, as if with reason, when it says, It is a very blameless thing, that thou desirest some things to possess; because thou seekest not to be increased, but art afraid of being in want; and that which another retains for no good, thou thyself expendest to better purpose. Gluttony is also wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, God has created all things clean, in order to be eaten, and he who refuses to fill himself with food, what else does he do but gainsay the gift that has been granted him. Lust also is wont to exhort the conquered heart, as if with reason, when it says, Why enlargest thou not thyself now in thy pleasure, when thou knowest not what may follow thee? Thou oughtest not to lose in longings the time thou hast received; because thou knowest not how speedily it may pass by. For if God had not wished man to be united in the pleasure of coition, He would not, at the first beginning of the human race, have made them male and female. This is the exhortation of leaders, which, when incautiously admitted into the secresy of the heart, too familiarly persuades to wrong. And this a howling army in truth follows, because when the hapless soul, once captured by the principal vices, is turned to madness by multiplied iniquities, it is now laid waste with brutal cruelty.


91. But the soldier of God, since he endeavours skilfully to pursue the contests with vices, smells the battle afar off; because while he considers, with anxious thought, what power the leading evils possess to persuade the mind, he detects, by the sagacity of his scent, the exhortation of the leaders. And because he beholds the confusion of subsequent iniquities by foreseeing them afar off, he finds out, as it were, by his scent the howling of the army.


Because, then, we have learned, that either the preacher of God, or any soldier in the spiritual contest, is described in the account of the horse, let us now behold the same person under the signification of a bird; that we, who have learned his strength by the horse, may learn his contemplation also by the bird. For since we have heard in the description of the greatness of the horse, how much a holy man endures through patience against the assaults of vices, let us now learn by the appearance of birds, how high he soars by contemplation. It follows;

Ver. 26. Doth the hawk gel feathers by thy wisdom, stretching her wings toward the South?




92. That the hawk casts off its old feathers every year, as the new grow up, and gets a plumage without intermission, hardly any one is ignorant. But that time of plumage, when it is clothed in the nest, is not here spoken of; because, namely, at that time, being doubtless yet but young, it is not able to stretch its wings towards the South. But that annual plumage is described, which is renewed, as the old feathers become loose. And for domesticated hawks, moist and warm spots are sought out, for them to get their plumage the better. But it is the custom, with wild hawks, to stretch their wings, when the south wind blows, in order that by the mildness of the wind their limbs may become warm, so as to loosen the old feathers. But when there is no wind, they make for themselves a warm air by stretching and flapping their wings against the rays of the sun, and when the pores have thus been opened, either the old feathers fall out, or the new ones grow up. What is it then for the hawk to get its plumage in the south, except that every Saint glows, when he is touched by the breath of the Holy Spirit, and, casting off the habit of his old conversation, assumes the form of the new man? Which Paul advises, saying, Stripping yourselves of the old man with his deeds, and putting on the new man. [Col. 3, 9] And again; Though that outward man of ours be corrupted, yet that which is within is renewed day by day. [2 Cor. 4, 16] But to cast off the old feathers, is to give up the inveterate pursuit of crafty conduct; and to assume the new, is, by good living, to maintain a gentle and simple feeling. For the feather of old conversation weighs down, and the plumage of the new change raises up, to render it the lighter for flight, as it makes it newer.


93. And He well says, It stretches its wings towards the South. For to stretch out our wings towards the South, is, by the coming of the Holy Spirit, to open our hearts in confession, so as no longer to take pleasure in concealing ourselves by defence, but in exposing ourselves by accusation. The hawk, therefore, then gains its plumage, when it has stretched out its wings towards the South, because every one then clothes himself with the feathers of virtues, when, by confession, he subjects his thoughts to the Holy Spirit. For he, who lays not open his old deeds by confession, brings not forth the works of a new life. He who knows not how to lament that which weighs him down, is unable to produce that which raises him up. For the very power of compunction opens the pores of the heart, and pours forth the plumage of virtues. And, when the mind studiously convicts itself of a sluggish old age, it gains the fresh newness of youth. Let it be said then to blessed Job, Doth the hawk get plumage by thy wisdom, stretching her wings towards the South? That is, Hast thou conferred understanding on any of the Elect, to expand the wings of his thoughts, at the breath of the Holy Spirit, in order to cast off the weight of the old conversation, and assume the feathers of virtues for the purpose of a fresh flight? In order, namely, for him to gather from hence, that the vigilance of sense which is in him he has not of himself, who is unable to confer it from himself on others. But, by this hawk the renewed Gentile people can also be designated. As if it were plainly said to blessed Job; Behold the future plumage of virtues in the Gentiles, and cast off the old feathers of pride. It follows;

Ver. 27. Will the eagle mount up at thy command, and make for thee her nest in high places.




94. In Holy Scripture, by the word ‘eagle’ are sometimes designated malignant spirits, the spoilers of souls, sometimes the powers of the present world, but sometimes either the very subtle understandings of the Saints, or the Incarnate Lord, swiftly flying over things below, and presently seeking again those on high.


By the name ‘eagle’ are set forth the spirits, which lie in wait, as Jeremiah witnesses, who says, Our persecutors were swifter than the eagles of the heaven. [Lam. 4, 19] For our persecutors are swifter than the eagles of the heaven, when malignant men perform so many things against us, as to seem to surpass even the powers of the air themselves in the inventions of their malice.


By the word ‘eagle,’ earthly power is also typified. Whence it is said by the Prophet Ezekiel, A great eagle, of great wings, long limbed, full of feathers and variety, came to Libanus, and took away the marrow of the cedar, and plucked off the top of his branches. [Ez. 17, 3. 4.] For by this eagle who else is, in truth, designated but Nabuchodonosor, the king of Babylon? Who, in consequence of the immensity of his army, is described as of great wings; in consequence of the length of his continuance, as of long extent of limbs; for the multitude of his riches, as full of feathers, and because of the countless things that made up his earthly glory, as full of variety. Who came to Libanus, and took away the marrow of the cedar, and plucked off the top of his branches, because he attacked the loftiness of Judah, and carried off the nobility of its kingdom, as the marrow of the cedar. And whilst he took away captive the most delicate offspring of kings from the lofty height of their power, he plucked off, as it were, the top of his branches.


By the word ‘eagle’ is expressed either the subtle understanding of the Saints, or the flying of the Lord’s Ascension. Whence the same Prophet, when describing that he had seen the four Evangelists under the appearance of living creatures, declares that in them there had appeared to him the face of a man, of a lion, of an ox, and of an eagle. Doubtless designating by an eagle, the fourth living creature, John, who left the earth in his flight, because, through his subtle understanding, he penetrated, by beholding the Word, inward mysteries. With which sentence of the Prophet concerning himself, John himself, in his Revelation, does not disagree, saying, The first beast was like a lion, the second beast like a calf, the third beast having a face as of a man, the fourth beast like a flying eagle. [Rev. 4, 7] And though these several points are well suited to each particular Evangelist, (while one teaches the order of His human Nativity; another, by the offering of the sacrifice of the world, suggests, as it were, the death of the calf; another the might of His power, as the roaring of the lion; another, beholding the Nativity of the Word, gazes like the eagle at the risen sun;) yet these four living creatures can signify Him their very Head, of Whom they are members. For He Himself is both a Man, because He truly took our nature; and a calf, because He patiently died for our sakes; and a lion, because, by the strength of His Godhead, He burst the band of the death He had undergone; and, lastly, an eagle, because He went back to heaven, from whence He had come. He is called therefore a man, from His being born; a calf, from His dying; a lion, from His rising again; an eagle, from His ascending to the heavens. But in this place under the name ‘eagle’ is typified the subtle understanding of the Saints, and their sublime contemplation. For the sight of the eagle surpasses the vision of all birds, so that the sun’s ray does not, by striking on its eyes, which are fixed upon it, close them by any coruscation of its light. The eagle therefore mounts up at the command of God, when the life of the faithful, obeying the Divine commands, is suspended on high. And it is also said to place its nest in high places, because, despising earthly desires, it is already nourished, in hope, with heavenly things. It places its nest on high; because it constructs not the habitation of its mind in abject and grovelling conversation. Hence is that which is said to the Cinite, by Balaam when prophesying, Strong indeed is thy dwelling place, but if thou hast placed thy nest in the rock. [Numb, 24, 21] For Cinite is interpreted ‘possessor.’ And who are they who possess present things, except those who are skilled in the ability of worldly wisdom? And they truly build themselves therein a strong dwelling place, if becoming, by humility, as little children in their own sight, they are nourished in the sublimity of Christ; if they feel themselves to be weak, and give up the confidence of their mind, to be cherished by the lofty humility of the Redeemer Who is known to them; if they seek not after things below; if they pass over, with the flight of their heart, every thing which passes away.


95. Let us behold the eagle building itself the nest of hope in high places. He says; Our conversation is in heaven. [Phil. 3, 2] And again; Who hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in heavenly places. [Eph. 2, 6] He has his rest in high places, because in truth he fixes his thought on things above. He wishes not to degrade his mind to the lowest objects, he wishes not, by the baseness of human conversation, to dwell in things below. Paul was, perhaps, then confined in prison, when he was witnessing that he was sitting together with Christ in heavenly places. But he was there, where he had already fixed his ardent mind, not there, where the sluggish flesh was still necessarily detaining him.


96. For this is wont to be a special mark of the Elect, that they know how so to travel along the journey of the present life, as well aware, by the certainty of hope, that they have already attained to things above; so that they see all things which flow by to be beneath them, and trample down, through love of eternity, all that is eminent in this world. For hence it is that the Lord says, by the Prophet, to the soul which follows Him; I will raise thee above the high places of the earth. [Is. 58, 14] For losses, insults, poverty, contempt, are, as it were, some lower places of the earth, which even the very lovers of the world, as they walk along the level of the broad way, cease not to trample down, by avoiding them. But the high places of the earth are, gain of goods, flattery of inferiors, abundance of riches, honour, and loftiness of dignities; along which whoever walks with his desires still grovelling, he considers them high, just as he counts them great. But if the heart is once fixed on heavenly things, it is seen at once how lowly are those things which seemed to be high. For as he, who ascends a mountain, looks down for a little while on all other objects which lie beneath, the more he advances his step to higher ground, so he who strives to fix his attention on things above, as he finds by the very effort that the glory of this present life is nothing, is raised above the high places of the earth: and that which at first he believed to be above him, when plunged in grovelling desires, he afterwards discerns to be beneath him, as he advances in his ascent. The things then which the Lord there promises that He will do, saying, I will raise thee above the high places of the earth, these very things He witnesses to blessed Job, that He alone is able to do, saying; Will the eagle mount up at thy command, and make for thee her nest in high places? As if He were saying; As at Mine, Who inspire within by the grace of hidden bounty, that which I command from without. It follows;

Ver. 28. She abideth in the rocks.




97. In Holy Scripture, when a ‘rock’ is mentioned in the singular number, who else is understood but Christ? As Paul witnesses, who says, But the rock was Christ. [1 Cor. 10, 4] But when ‘rocks’ are spoken of, in the plural number, His members are described, namely, holy men, who are confirmed by His strength. Whom the Apostle Peter doubtless calls stones, saying, Ye as lively stones are built together as spiritual houses. [1 Pet. 2, 5] This eagle, therefore, which raised the eyes of her heart to the rays of the true sun, is said to abide in the rocks, because she is planted, in the firmness of her mind, in the sayings of the ancient and mighty fathers. For she recals to memory the life of those, whom she sees to have gone before in the way of God; and by studying in the loftiness of their strength, she builds herself a nest of holy meditation. And when she thinks silently on their deeds and words, when she considers the glory of the present life, how mean it is in comparison with eternal excellence, she sits, as it were, on the rocks, and beholds the lower places of the earth to be beneath her.


98. Rocks can also be understood to be the lofty powers of heavenly virtues, which the wind of our mutability now bends not hither and thither, like trees. Because being like rocks, placed on high, they are exempt from every motion of mutability, and fastened to the solidity of their height, they have become firm, by the very eternity to which they adhere. When a holy man, therefore, despises the things of earth, he raises himself, like an eagle, to higher things; and, elevated by the spirit of contemplation, waits for the eternal glory of Angels, and, being a stranger in this world, by seeking after the things he beholds, is already fixed on things above. It is therefore rightly said, She abideth in the rocks; that is, by intention of heart she dwells among those heavenly virtues, which are already, even by the strength of their eternity, fixed with such great solidity, as not to be bent on any side to sin by the variableness of change. Whence also it fitly follows;

And she dwelleth in the abrupt flints, and in the inaccessible rocks.




99. For who else are those abrupt flints, but those firmest choirs of Angels, who, though not in their integrity, yet remained firmly fixed in their own estate, when the devil fell with his angels? For they are abrupt, because part of them fell, part remained firm. Who stand indeed entire, as to the quality of their deserts, but broken off, as to the quantity of their number. This breaking off the Mediator came to restore, that, having redeemed the human race, He might repair these losses of the angels, and might perhaps heap up more richly the measure of the heavenly country. By reason of this breaking off it is said of the Father: He purposed in Him, in the dispensation of the fulness of times, to restore all things in Christ, which are in heaven, and which are on earth, in Him. [Eph. 1, 9. 10.] For in Him are restored those things, which are on earth, when sinners are converted to righteousness. In Him are restored those which are in heaven, when humbled men return to that place from which apostate angels fell by pride. But in that He says, In inaccessible rocks, those doubtless, who are abrupt flints, are themselves inaccessible rocks. For the brightness of Angels is very inaccessible to the heart of sinful men, because the more it has fallen down to bodily attractions, the more it has closed its eyes to spiritual beauty. But, whoever is so rapt by contemplation, as, being raised up by Divine grace, already to engage his thought on the choirs of Angels, and, fixed on things above, to keep himself aloof from every grovelling deed, is not contented with beholding the glory of angelic brightness, unless he is able to behold Him also, Who is above Angels. For the vision of Him is alone the true refreshment of our mind. And hence, when He had said, that this eagle abides in the rocks, and remains in the abrupt flints and inaccessible rocks, He immediately added;

Ver. 29. From thence she beholdeth her food.




100. That is, from these choirs of Angels he directs the eyes of his mind to contemplate the glory of the Majesty on high: and, not seeing it, he is still hungry: and seeing it, at length, he is satisfied. For it is written, Because his soul, hath laboured, he shall see and be satisfied. [Is. 53, 11] And again, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. [Matt. 5, 6] But who is the food of our mind is plainly pointed out, when it is said; Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. [Matt. 5, 8] And because, from being weighed down by the interposition of the corruptible flesh, we cannot behold God as He is, it is rightly subjoined;

Her eyes behold afar off.




101. For whatever progress any one may have made, when placed in this life, he cannot as yet behold God in His real appearance, but darkly, and through a glass. But when we look close at hand, we see more truly, but when we turn our sight further off, we are darkened by our uncertain sight. Because, therefore, holy men raise themselves up to lofty contemplation, and yet cannot behold God as He is, it is well said of this eagle; Her eyes behold afar off. As if He were saying; They resolutely direct the keenness of their intention, but they cannot, as yet, behold Him nigh, the greatness of Whose brightness they are not at all able to penetrate. For the mist of our corruption darkens us from the incorruptible light, and when the light can both be seen in a measure, and yet cannot be seen as it is, it shews how distant it is. But if the mind were not to see it in any way, it would not see that it was far off. But if it were already to behold it perfectly, it would not in truth see it through a mist. Because then He is neither completely seen, nor again completely hidden, it is rightly said, that God is beheld from far.


102. Let us bring forward the words of Isaiah, and point out how they and these are uttered by the same Spirit. For when he was describing the virtues of active life, saying; Who walketh in righteousnesses, and speaketh the truth, who casteth off the gain from oppression, and shaketh his hand from every bribe, that stoppeth his ears, lest he hear blood, and shutteth his eyes not to see evil; [Is. 33, 15] he immediately added to what heights of contemplation he can ascend by these steps of active life, saying; He shall dwell in high places, his loftiness shall be the munitions of rocks; bread is given him, his waters are sure. His eyes shall see the King in His beauty, they shall behold the land afar off. [ib. 16] For to dwell in high places, is to set our heart on heavenly things. And our loftiness is the munitions of rocks, when we look back to the precepts, and examples of mighty fathers, and separate ourselves from grovelling thoughts. Our loftiness is the munitions of rocks, when we are joined in mind to the choirs and camp of heaven, and, standing in the citadel of our heart, expel, as though placed beneath us, the malignant spirits who lie in wait. Then also bread is given to us; because our attention, raised to things above, is refreshed with the contemplation of eternity. Our waters are also sure, because that, which the teaching of God here promises through hope, it then offers as a gift. For the wisdom of this world is not trustworthy, because it is not likely to remain after death. Our waters are sure, because that, which the words of life teach us before death, the same they point out to us also after death. Our eyes behold the King in His beauty, because our Redeemer is, in the judgment, beheld as Man, even by the reprobate; but those alone who are Elect are exalted to behold the loftiness of His Divinity. For, to behold the servile form alone, in which He is despised by the wicked, is to see, as it were, a kind of deformity of the King, But the King is seen, by the Elect, in His beauty; because, being rapt above themselves, they fix the eyes of their heart on the very brightness of His Godhead. And because, as long as they are in this life, they cannot behold that land of the living, as it really is, it is rightly added; They shall behold the land afar off. That then, which He says here; The eagle will mount up, and make its nest in high places, is there expressed, He shall dwell in high places. That which is here said, She abideth in the rocks, and dwelleth in the abrupt flints, and inaccessible rocks, is there added, His loftiness shall be the munitions of rocks. That again which is here introduced, From thence she beholdeth her food, is here also subjoined, Bread is given him, his waters are sure, his eyes shall see the King in His beauty. And that which is here subjoined, Her eyes behold afar off, is there fitly added, They shall behold the land afar off.


103. Let us consider, what a lofty eagle was Paul, who flew even to the third heaven, yet, when dwelling in this life, he still beholds God afar off, who says, We now see through a glass darkly, but then face to face. [1 Cor. 13, 12] And again; I count not myself to have apprehended. [Phil. 3, 13] But, though he himself beholds eternal things much short of what they really are, though he knows that he cannot perfectly understand them; yet he cannot instil by preaching, into his weak hearers, those very things, which he is able to behold only through a mirror and an image. For he speaks of himself, as if of another person, saying, He heard secret words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. [2 Cor. 12, 4] Although therefore the smallest, and most extreme, inward truths are seen, yet to mighty preachers they are most exalted, but beyond the capacity of weak hearers. Whence also holy preachers, when they see that their hearers cannot receive the statement of His Divinity, come down to speak only of the Lord’s Incarnation. And hence here also, when the eagle is said to be raised on high, and to see from far, it is immediately rightly subjoined;

Ver. 30. Her young ones suck up blood.




104. As if it were plainly said; She herself indeed feeds on the contemplation of His Godhead, but because her hearers cannot understand the mysteries of the Godhead, they are satiated with hearing of the blood of the Lord Crucified. For to suck up blood, is to reverence the weaknesses of the Lord’s Passion. Hence it is, that the same Paul, who, as we said a little before, had soared to the secrets of the third heaven, said to his disciples; For I have determined to know nothing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. [l Cor. 2, 2] As if this eagle were plainly saying; I indeed behold as my food the power of His Godhead afar off, but to you, who are still young, I give the blood only of His Incarnation to be sucked up. For he, who in his preaching had been silent as to the loftiness of the Godhead, and informs his weak hearers of the Blood alone of the Cross, what else does he do, but give blood to his young ones? But, because the soul of every holy preacher is, when stripped of the corruption of the flesh, led directly to Him, Who of His own accord submitted to death for us, and rose from death, it is fitly added of this eagle,

And wheresoever the carcase shall be, she is immediately present.




105. For a carcase is so called from its fall [cadaver, a casu]. And the body of the Lord is, not undeservedly, called a carcase, on account of the fall of death. But that which is here said of this eagle; Wheresoever the carcase shall he, she is immediately present; this same thing the Truth has promised will take place, in souls as they depart from the body, saying, Wheresoever the body shall he, thither will the eagles also be gathered together. [Luke l7, 37] As if He plainly said, I, your Incarnate Redeemer, Who preside over the heavenly abode, will exalt the souls of the Elect also, to heavenly places, when I shall have released them from the flesh.


106. But this which is said of this eagle; Wheresoever the carcase shall be, she is immediately present, can be understood in another sense also. For every one, who has fallen into the death of sin, will be able, not inappropriately, to be called a carcase. For he, who has not the quickening spirit of righteousness, lies, as it were, without life. Because, then, every holy preacher anxiously flies to the spot, where he thinks there are sinners, to shew the light of revival to those who are lying in the death of sin, it is well said of this eagle; Wheresoever the carcase shall be, she is immediately present. That is, he proceeds to the place, where he foresees the utility of preaching; in order that, because he already lives a spiritual life, he may benefit others who are lying in their death, whom he devours, as it were, by reproving, yet, by converting them from iniquity to innocence, he changes them, as it were, by eating them, into his own members. Lo, the very Paul, whom we have already frequently brought forward for a testimony, when he was going at one time to Judaea, at another to Corinth, at another to Ephesus, at another to Rome, at another to the Spains, that he might announce the grace of eternal life to those who were lying in the death of sin; what else did he prove himself to be but an eagle; which, swiftly flying over every thing, was seeking for the carcase wheresoever lying; in order that, while he was performing the will of God, in having gained sinners, he might find, as it were, his own food in the carcase? For the food of the righteous is the conversion of sinners, of which it is said, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that which endureth unto eternal life. [John 6, 27] Having heard, therefore, such numerous virtues of holy men, blessed Job is understood to have been astonished, and to have been silent, from the awe of admiration. For it follows,

Ver. 31, 32. The Lord added, and spake to Job; Doth he that contendeth with God, so easily remain quiet? He that reproveth God, ought certainly also to answer Him. [E.V. 40, 1. 2.]


107. The holy man did not consider that his merits were being increased, but that his vices were being cut away by this so great severity of the scourge. And since he knew that there were no vices within him, he believed that he was unjustly smitten; and, to murmur at the blow, is altogether to reprove the Smiter. But the Lord, considering that what he brought forward, he had gathered, not from the swelling of pride, but from the character of his life, gently reproves him, saying, Doth he that contendeth with God, so easily remain quiet? He that reproveth God, ought certainly also to answer Him. As if He were plainly saying; Why hast thou, who hast said so much of thy own conduct, remained silent on hearing of the life of the Saints? For to doubt of My smiting, whether it was just or not, was to reprove Me. And thou hast stated thy own good qualities truly, but thou hast not known the tendency of these scourges. For though thou hast no longer any thing to correct, yet thou hast still something in which to increase. But, behold, thou hast learned from My narrative, to what a height of virtue I exalt very many. Thou wast considering thine own loftiness, but wast ignorant of that of others. Having heard then the virtues of others, answer Me, if thou canst, concerning thine own. But we know that he, who, when he acts rightly, omits looking at the merits of his betters, extinguishes the eye of his heart, by the darkness of pride. But, on the other hand, he who carefully weighs the good qualities of others, enlightens his own deeds, by a powerful ray of humility; because when he sees the things he has done himself, done by others also without, he keeps down that swelling of pride, which strives to break forth within from singularity. Hence is it that it is said by the voice of God to Elias, when thinking that he was solitary, I have left Me seven thousand men, who have not bent their knees before Baal; [1 Kings 19, 18] in order that by learning that he remained not solitary, he might avoid the boasting of pride, which might arise in him, from his singularity. Blessed Job therefore is not blamed for having done any thing perversely, but he is informed of the good deeds of others besides, in order that while he considers that he has others also equal to him, he may humbly submit himself to Him, Who is specially the Highest.