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The two last verses of the thirty-ninth chapter having been explained,

the first fourteen verses of the fortieth chapter are expounded,

and many things are taught, both concerning the infinite power of God,

and the hurtful designs of Satan against men.




1. The higher holy men advance with God, in the dignity of virtues, the more accurately do they discover that they are unworthy; because while they become close to the light, they find out whatever escaped their notice in themselves, and they appear to themselves the more deformed without, in proportion as that is very beautiful, which they see within. For every one is made known to himself, when he is illumined with the touch of the true light, and by the same means as he learns what is righteousness, he is also instructed to see what is sin. Hence is it that though our mind is often benumbed with cold in converse with men’s doings, though it sins and is ignorant in some points, though it regards some sins as though they were none; yet when it raises itself by the compunction of prayer to aim at things above, having been roused by the eye of its compunction, it returns to observe itself with greater vigilance after its tears. For when it deserts itself in neglect, and is torpid with fatal lukewarmness, it fully believes that idle words or unprofitable thoughts are of lesser guilt. But if warmed by the fire of compunction, and touched by the sudden breath of contemplation, it starts from its lukewarmness, it soon begins to dread, as grave and deadly offences, those things which but a little before it believed to be trifling. For it avoids, as most atrocious, all things which are in the very least degree hurtful; because, namely, being pregnant with the conception of the Spirit, it no longer allows any vanities to enter in unto it. For from that which it beholds within, it feels how dreadful are those sins which clamour without; and the more it has advanced when raised up, the more does it shrink from the grovelling pursuits, in which it sank prostrate. For nothing in truth supports it, but that which it has beheld within, and it endures the more heavily whatever thrusts itself on it from without, the more it is not that which it beheld within; but from those inward objects which it has been able to catch a glance of, it forms a standard for judging of those outward things which it has to bear with. For it is rapt above itself, when it contemplates sublime objects, and now beholding itself, by going out of itself more freely, it comprehends more minutely whatever remains to it, of itself, under itself. By which means it is wonderfully brought to pass, as was before said, that it appears the more unworthy to itself, by the very means by which it is rendered more worthy; and that it then feels itself far removed from uprightness, when it is approaching near it. Whence Solomon says, I have tried all things by wisdom, and said, I will become wise, and it departed the farther from me. [Eccles. 7, 23] For wisdom which is sought after is said to depart far off, because it seems higher to a person approaching it. But those who do not seek it, think themselves the nearer it, the more they know not also its standard of uprightness; because, living in darkness, they know not how to admire the brightness of the light, which they have never seen, and since they do not tend towards the comeliness of its beauty, they willingly become more deformed every day in themselves. For whoever is touched by its rays, his deformity is more manifestly pointed out to him, and he finds the more truly how much he is distorted in sin, the more keenly, from considering the highest objects, he beholds how far distant he is from uprightness. Whence blessed Job, surpassing in virtues the race of men, overcame his friends in speaking; but when instructed more highly, by God speaking to him, on knowing himself, he remained silent. For he overcame those who spoke unjustly, but at the words of the voice within he knew that he was justly condemned. And he knows not indeed why he was scourged, but yet he proved by silence why he reverenced not the scourges. For when the Divine judgments are not known, they are not to be discussed with bold words, but to be venerated with awful silence; because even when the Creator of all things discloses not His reasons in inflicting the scourge, He shews them to be just, by pointing out that He inflicts them Who is perfectly just. Let the holy man, then, who has been reproved both first for his words, and afterwards for his silence, make known what he thinks of himself. For he says;

Ver. 34. I who have spoken lightly, what can I answer? [E.V. 40, 4]




2. As if he said, I would defend my speech, if I had uttered it with weight of reason. But after a tongue is convicted of having used levity, what remains for it but to be restrained with silence? It follows,

I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.


In the usage of Holy Scripture, work is wont to be understood by the hand, speech by the mouth. To lay therefore the hand upon the mouth, is by the virtue of good living to conceal the faults of incautious speech. But who can be found, however perfect, who has not offended in idle words? As James witnesses, who says, Be not many masters, for in many things we offend all. [James 3, 1] And again, The tongue can no man tame. [ib. 8] And the Truth, exposing its faults by Its own mouth, says, But I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall have spoken, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. [Matt. 12, 36] But holy men study to conceal before the eyes of God the faults of the tongue by the merits of their life, they study to keep down their immoderate words by the weight of good works. Whence in Holy Church the hand is laid upon the mouth, when the sin of idle talk is daily covered in its Elect by the virtue of good actions. For it is written; Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [Ps. 3. 21] But since it is written again; All things are naked and opened unto His eyes, [Heb. 4, 13] how can they be concealed which can never be at all hid from the eyes of Him, to Whom all things are naked? But since we place lower, that which we conceal, and doubtless spread that over, with which we cover it, in order to cover that which is placed beneath, we are said to cover our sins, which we place, as it were, beneath, when we give them up; and we draw something else over them, when we choose afterwards to prefer for this end the work of good deeds. He therefore who abandons his former evil deeds, and afterwards does good works, by this addition covers his past iniquity, over which he spreads the merits of good deeds. Let blessed Job therefore, as typifying Holy Church, and in what he says alleging his own circumstances, but designating ours, say for us; I will lay mine hand upon my mouth: that is, that of my words in me which I consider to have displeased the strict Judge, I conceal before His eyes under the veil of upright conduct. It follows;

Ver. 35. One thing have I spoken, which I would I had not said; and another, to which I will add no further. [E.V. 40, 5]




3. If we examine the former words of blessed Job, we find that he has said nothing wickedly. But if we distort his words, which were uttered with truth and freedom, into a sort of sin of pride, there will no longer be two only; because there will be many. But since our speaking is the laying open to men our secret meaning in words; but our speaking to the ears of God is the exhibiting the motion of our mind even by an expressive action; blessed Job, on weighing himself by the balance of most accurate examination, confesses that he had a second time offended in his speech. For to ‘say one thing’ unlawfully, is to do things worthy of the scourge, to ‘say another’ is to murmur too at the scourge. He therefore, who was preferred above men in all his doings before the reproof of the Lord, rising higher by this very reproof, acknowledged that he was in the first place far from right in his conduct, and afterwards far from patient under the rod. Whence he reproves himself, saying, One thing have I spoken, which I would I had not said; and another, to which I will add no further. As if he said, I believed myself to be righteous indeed among men, but, as Thou wert speaking, I found myself to be both wicked before the scourges, and stubborn after the scourges. To which I will add no further, because now, the more accurately I understand Thee speaking, the more humbly I search out myself.


4. And because blessed Job typifies Holy Church, these words of his can be applied to all the Elect, who knowing the Lord, feel that they have offended in one and another point, because they understand that they have sinned either in thought and deed, or in neglecting the love of God and their neighbour. To which they promise to add no further, because through the grace of conversion, they take care to purge away daily by penitence even their former deeds. And yet blessed Job, by convicting himself in his penitence of two points, plainly shews, that every sinner ought in his penitence to have two groans, because, in truth, he has both not done the good which he ought, and has done the evil which he ought not. For hence is it that it is said by Moses, of him who took an oath to do any thing, either evil or good, and has transgressed it through forgetfulness, Let him offer a she lamb from the flocks, or a she goat, and the priest shall pray for him, and for his sin. But if he is not able to offer a lamb, let him offer two turtle doves, or two young pigeons, one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering. [Lev. 5, 6. 7.] For to take an oath is to bind ourselves with a vow of servitude to God. And when we promise good works, we pledge ourselves to do well. But when we vow abstinence and the torture of our flesh, we swear to do ill to ourselves for the present. But because no one in this life is so perfect, however devoted to God, as not to sin in ever so small a degree in the midst of these pious vows, a she lamb of the flocks, or a she goat, is ordered to be offered for his sin. For what is signified by the she lamb, except the innocence of active life? what by the she goat, which often feeds as it is hanging on the summits and extremities of the rocks, but a life of contemplation? He therefore who sees that he has not fulfilled what he has promised and proposed, ought the more studiously to prepare himself for the sacrifice of God, either by the innocence of good works, or by the lofty food of contemplation. And a she lamb is well ordered to be offered from the flocks, but a she goat not from the flocks; because an active life is the lot of many, a contemplative of few. And when we do those things which we see many are doing, or have done, we offer, as it were, a she lamb from the flocks. But when the power of the offerer is not equal to a she lamb, and she goat, it is added as a remedy for the penitent, that two young pigeons or two turtle doves may be offered. We know that young pigeons or turtle doves utter moans instead of a song. What then is designated by two young pigeons, or two turtle doves, except the twofold groaning of our penitence? That so when we rise not to the offering of good works, we may bewail ourselves in two ways, both because we have not done right, and have also wrought evil things. Whence also one turtle dove is ordered to be offered for a sin offering, but the other for a burnt offering. For a holocaust means ‘entirely burnt.’ We offer therefore one turtle dove for a sin offering, when we groan for our fault, but we make a holocaust of the other, when, because we have neglected good works, thoroughly inflaming ourselves, we glow with the fire of grief. Because therefore a twofold groaning is required in penitence, blessed Job, making progress by the chiding of God’s voice, and increasing in self-reproach, confesses with penitence that he has said one and another thing. As if he openly said, I have through negligence been slothful in good works, and through audacity have broken out into evil.

Chap. xl. ver. 1, 2. But the Lord answered unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, Gird up thy loins as a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me. [E.V. 6, 7]


What is the Lord answering out of the whirlwind, what blessed Job girding up his loins, what the demand of God, and the declaration of man, has been already treated of in the first address of the Lord. Because therefore we forbear to weary our reader, we are especially careful not to repeat our words. It follows;

Ver. 3. Wilt thou disannul My judgment, and condemn Me, that thou mayest be justified? [E.V. 8]




5. Whoever strives to defend himself against the scourges of God, endeavours to set aside the judgment of Him Who inflicts them. For when he says that he is not smitten for his own fault, what else does he but accuse the injustice of the Smiter? The scourges of heaven therefore smote not blessed Job to extinguish in him his faults, but rather to increase his merits, in order that he who in the season of tranquillity had shone forth in so great sanctity, might also manifest from the blow what virtue of patience lay concealed within him. But he, not detecting his fault during the scourges, and yet not discovering that those very scourges were the cause of increasing his merit, believed that he was unjustly smitten, when he found nothing in himself which required to be corrected. But, lest his very innocence should be puffed up into the swelling of pride, he is reproved by the Divine voice; and his mind, free from iniquity, but weighed down by scourges, is recalled to the secret judgments; in order that the sentence of heaven, though not understood, may not be considered unjust: but that he may at least believe that every thing which he suffers is just, as it is doubtless plain that he is suffering at the hands of God. For the righteous will of our Maker, is a great satisfaction for the blow. For since it is wont to do nothing unjust, it is acknowledged to be just even though hid. For when we are smitten for the sin of injustice, if we are conjoined to the Divine will in our smiting, we are soon released from our injustice by this very conjunction. For whoever now endures the blow, but still knows not the causes of the blow, if he welcomes this very sentence against him, believing it to be just, he is at once released from his unrighteousness, just as he rejoices that he has been justly smitten. For by associating himself with God in his own punishment, he sets up himself against himself; and great already is his righteousness, because he accords with the will of God in his punishment, from which he differed in sin. The holy man, therefore, because he had not disagreed with God through any sin, with difficulty, as it were, agreed with Him when in the midst of his punishments. For he believed not that the scourges, which commonly extinguish vices, were in him only increasing his merits. Whence he is now justly reproved, in order that even unwittingly he might be brought under the Divine judgments: and it is said to him; Wilt thou disannul My judgment, and wilt thou condemn Me, that thou mayest be justified? As if it were plainly said; Thou considerest indeed thine own good deeds, but thou knowest not My secret judgments. If therefore thou disputest against My scourges, on account of thy merits, what else dost thou, but hasten to convict Me of injustice, by justifying thyself? It follows;

Ver. 4. Hast thou an arm like God, and dost thou thunder with a voice like Him? [E.V. 9]




6. Because blessed Job transcended in merits the race of men, his merciful Creator and Teacher challenges him to consider the resemblance of His greatness, in order that, having known the great dissimilarity, he may keep himself down in humility.


7. But when a voice and arm are spoken of in God, we must take the greatest care that our mind imagines nothing corporeal in Him. For to confine Him within the lineaments of a body, Who without circumscription fills and embraces all things, is to fall into the heresy of the Anthropomorphites. But Almighty God, in drawing us to His own things, humbles Himself even to ours, and, to teach lofty, condescends to lowly things; in order that the mind of little ones, being nourished with the things it knows, may rise to enquire into those it knows not, and hearing from Him Who is far above it, some truths nigh itself, may move, as it were, some steps towards Him. Whence it happens, that in His own Scripture He sometimes from the bodies of men, sometimes from their minds, but sometimes from birds, and sometimes even from insensate objects, applies to Himself some very unlikely resemblances. For He frequently applies to Himself a resemblance from the bodies of men, as the Prophet says of Him to the Israelites, He that hath touched you, toucheth the apple of His eye. [Zech. 2, 8] And as it is said again of Him by the Prophet to a man who trusts in Him; He will make a shadow for thee with His shoulders. [Ps. 91, 4] It is doubtless admitted that God in His own nature has neither eye, nor shoulders; but since we see with our eye, but support burdens on our shoulders, God, because He sees all things, is said to have an eye; but because He carries us, and by carrying preserves us, He is said to make a shadow for us with His shoulders. For he says, He will make a shadow for thee with His shoulders. As if He were saying to man who was a sinner, and, after his sin asking pardon, The Lord protects thee with the same affection, with which He endured thee. For He shadows thee with His shoulders, because while He carries, He defends thee. But sometimes He applies to Himself a resemblance from our minds, as He to, says by the Prophet to Israel; I have remembered thee, having pity on thy youth. [Jer. 2, 2] And again speaking by the comparison of a wife, He says; Even if she shall have forgotten, yet will I not forget thee. [Is. 49, 15] For who can be ignorant, that the memory of God is neither broken off by oblivion, nor yet repaired by recollection? But when He neglects and passes over some things, He is said, after the manner of minds, to forget, and when, after a long time, He visits the things He wills, He is said, after the fashion of our changeableness, to have remembered. For how does oblivion weaken the strength of that Godhead, with Which even praiseworthy memory itself has no essential agreement. For men remember no things, except those which are either past or absent. How then does God remember past things, when the very things which in themselves pass away, stand ever present at His beck? Or how does He call to mind things absent, when every thing that is, is present to Him, from the fact that it exists in Him? For if it were not present to Him, it would not exist at all; for things nonexistent He creates, by looking on them, things existent He keeps together, by looking on them. Whatever, therefore, the Creator beholds not, is bereft of the essence of subsistence. But sometimes a resemblance is applied to Him from birds, as is said by Moses, He spread abroad His wings, and took them. [Deut. 32, 11] And the Prophet says; Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings. [Ps. 17, 8] For because when we are young He nourishes us, as He protects us, and cherishes us with no heavy and burdensome, but with light and gentle, protection, when He puts forth His mercies towards us, He extends His wings over us, as if after the manner of birds. He sometimes, with deep condescension, compares himself, on account of our infirmity, with objects without sense; as He says by the Prophet, Behold, I will shriek over you, as a cart creaketh laden with hay. [Amos 2, 13] For since the life of the carnal is hay, as it is written, All flesh is hay; [Is. 40, 6] in that the Lord endures the life of the carnal, He declares that He carries hay as a cart. And to creak under the weight of the hay is for Him to bear, with murmuring, the burdens and iniquities of sinners. When therefore He applies to Himself very unlike resemblances, we must carefully observe that some things of this kind are sometimes spoken of concerning God, on account of the effect of His doings, but sometimes to indicate the substance of His Majesty. For when an eye, shoulders, a foot, and wings, are said to be in God, the effect of His operation is set forth. But when hand, arm, right hand, or voice, is said to belong to God, by these words His Consubstantial Son is pointed out. For He is in truth both hand, and right hand, of Whose Ascension the Father speaks by Moses, saying, I will lift up My hand to heaven, and I will swear by My right hand. [Deut. 32, 40] He is the arm, of Whom the Prophet says, And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? [Is. 53, 1] He is the voice, because the Father said when He begat Him, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee. [Ps. 2, 7] And of Whom it is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [John 1, 1] By this Word David declares that the Father made all things, saying, He spake, and they were made. [Ps. 33, 9] For God, therefore, to have an arm, is for Him to beget a Son that worketh; to thunder with His voice, is for Him to manifest fearfully to the world His Consubstantial Son. When therefore the Lord says to blessed Job, Hast thou an arm like God, and dost thou thunder with a voice like Him? by a wonderful dispensation of mercy He exalts, while He reproves him. Because He proves him to be superior to all, whom He surpasses only by comparison with Himself. To whom He subjoins with this proposal;

Ver. 5. Surround thyself with beauty, and raise thyself on high, and be full of glory, and array thyself with beautiful garments. [E.V. 10]




8. Thou understandest, As I. For He surrounds Himself with beauty, of Whom it is written, The Lord hath reigned, He hath put on beauty. [Ps. 93, 1] He is raised aloft in us, when He is proved to be in His own Nature unsearchable by our minds. But He is glorious, Who while He enjoys Himself, needs not any added praise. He is arrayed in beautiful garments, because He assumed for the service of His beauty, the choirs of the holy Angels, whom He created, and sets forth His Church as a kind of glorious garment, not having wrinkle or spot. Whence it is said to Him by the Prophet, Thou hast put on confession, and beauty, clothed with light as with a garment. [Ps. 104, 1. 2.] For here He puts on confession, there beauty; because those whom He has here made to confess by penitence, He will there set forth refulgent with the beauty of righteousness. He is clothed, therefore, with light as with a garment, because in that eternal glory He will be clothed with all the Saints, to whom it is said, Ye are the light of the world. [Matt. 5, 14] Whence also it is said by the Evangelist, that when the Lord was transfigured in the mountain, His raiment became white as snow. In which transfiguration what else is announced but the glory of the final resurrection?  For in the mountain His raiment became as snow, because in the height of heavenly brightness all Saints will be joined to Him, refulgent with the light of righteousness. But since He teaches, under the expression beautiful garments, how He unites the righteous to Himself, He shews also how He separates from Himself the unrighteous. It follows;

Ver. 6. Scatter the proud in thy wrath. [E.V. 11]




9. Thou understandest, As I, Who in the season of tranquillity bear with them united against Me, and when I come at last with severity, I scatter them in My wrath. But we must carefully observe on these subjects, that a grievous error of misbelief is admitted, if any one perchance thinks, that in that Substance of the Godhead, wrath and tranquillity are variable. For the Creator of all is supremely immortal, in that He is not changeable, like a creature. Hence it is said of Him by James, With Whom is no variableness, nor shadow of change. [James 1, 17] Hence again it is written, But Thou, O Lord, judgest, with tranquillity. [Wisd. 12, 18] Hence the Prophet says, The land is made desert from the face of the anger of the Dove, from the face of the fury of the Lord. [Jer. 25, 38] For that which he had first called the anger of the dove, he afterwards called the fury of the Lord. For the dove is a very simple animal; and because no inequality of fury steals in upon God, He called the fury of the Lord the anger of the dove. For to point out the inalterable might of the Divine severity, he termed it both ‘anger,’ and that of ‘the Dove.’ As if he were saying more plainly; He Who still continuing gentle punishes the unrighteous, inflicts unmoved a severe judgment. Whence also in the last Judgment, remaining immutable in Himself, He is not altered by any vicissitude or change; but yet He is not manifested to the Elect and reprobate under the same appearance of unchangeableness, because He will appear calm to the righteous, but wrathful to the unrighteous. For by the witness of conscience within they bring themselves to a point, from which their minds behold alike One Person, but are not alike affected, because to the one their former righteousness represents Him as gentle, and to the others their sin represents Him as terrible. But who can explain their dread, when it falls to the lot of these wretched men, both to discern faults within themselves, and to see the righteous Judge before themselves? And it is doubtless the case in the daily course of the present life, that the hearts of men are being instructed in the character of the coming Judge. For when two persons are going to trial, the one conscious of his innocence, the other of his fault, even before the sentence is passed, they both look at the judge when still silent, and yet the guilty one suspects that this very silence of the judge is heavy wrath against him. Which wrath, his remembrance of his wickedness, and not the passion of the Judge, denounces against him: for though the sentence does not as yet outwardly proclaim him guilty, yet his conscience heavily accuses him within. But, on the other hand, the friend of justice beholds the countenance of him who is giving sentence, but rejoices within from the testimony of a good conscience, and as he has had nothing to fear in himself, he looks on every thing which is done to him as kind. In this place then the wrath of God means not any agitation of the Substance of the Godhead, but the enquiry of righteous vengeance upon sinners conscious of their guilt. For though they see Him to be calm in judgment, yet, from not doubting that they will be smitten by Him, they think that He is agitated in their emotions. It follows;

And behold every one that is arrogant, and abase him.




10. As if He said, As I. But as to the order of punishment, the sin of the proud is fitly mentioned before the arrogant; because in truth pride is not generated by arrogance, but arrogance by pride. But every sinner is looked upon in two ways by the Lord, when he is either converted from sin, or punished for sin. Of looking in order to conversion it is said, that the Lord looked upon Peter; and Peter, remembering the word of Jesus, wept bitterly. [Luke 22, 61] With regard to punishment it is said again; The countenance of the Lord is upon them that do evil, to destroy the remembrance of them from the earth. [Ps. 34, 16] But in both ways is the arrogant brought down in humility, because he either acknowledges his fault with penitence, or by perishing suffers punishment.

Ver. 7. Look on all the proud, and confound them, and I tread down the wicked in their place. [E.V. 12]




11. Thou understandest, As I. For the proud are confounded at the look of the Lord, either here, by His mercy, when acknowledging and condemning their faults, or there, by suffering punishments from His justice. But pride itself is the place of the wicked; for, since it is written, Pride is the beginning of all sin, [Ecclus. 10, 13] it is comprised in that place, whence impiety arises; although impiety hardly differs from pride. For to be very proud is to think impiety of our Maker. The impious then is trodden down in his place, because he is crushed by that very pride, by which he is raised up; and when by boasting he raises himself in his thoughts, he hides from himself the light of righteousness, which he ought to find. But frequently when he is outwardly advancing his false glory against God, he is inwardly wasting away in real misery. Whence the Prophet says; Thou castedst them down while they were being raised up. [Ps. 73, 18] For he says not, Thou castedst them down after they were raised up, but while they were being raised up; because the very fact, that the proud happen to be exalted outwardly by false glory, is their being cast down within. For in the course of the divine judgment here, one thing is not their fault, and another their punishment; but their very fault is to them converted into punishment, so that when they are exalted with the haughtiness of pride, that which appears outwardly their progress, is itself in truth their inward fall. It follows;

Ver. 8. Hide them in the dust, and at the same time plunge their faces into the pit. [E.V. 13]




12. As if He said, As I. For God by a just judgment hides the proud and impious in the dust, because He permits their hearts to be overwhelmed with those earthly employments, which they choose, having scorned the love of their Creator. Whence also when He enquires into their conduct, He acknowledges it not, as though it were hid from Him saying; I know not who ye are. [Luke 13, 27] The life of the wicked is hidden under the dust, because it is weighed down by mean and grovelling desires. For whoever still desires these things that are of the world, appears not, as it were, before the face of the true light, because he is in truth concealed under the dust of earthly thought. The burdened mind endures this dust of wicked thoughts, which the wind of most evil temptation brings with it. For hence it is that it is said by the Prophet, of every soul which is weighed down by earthly desires, under the character of Ephraim, Ephraim has become as bread under the ashes, which is not turned. [Hos. 7, 8] For by nature our intention is well fashioned, to rise towards God; but from an evil habit of conversation pleasure arises, to weigh us down towards the present world. But bread under the ashes, is cleaner on that side, which it conceals beneath, and dirtier on that, on which it bears the ashes from above. Whoever therefore neglects the effort with which he ought to seek God, presses down the cleaner side, like bread under the ashes, and when he willingly endures the cares of the world, he bears, as it were, above him a heap of ashes. But the bread under the ashes would be reversed, if he were to throw off the ash of carnal desires, and display above that good intention, which he had, by neglecting it, kept under in himself. But he refuses to be turned, when a mind, weighed down with the love of secular cares, neglects to throw off the mass of ashes which lies upon it; and when it seeks not to rise up to a good intention, it presses under the cleaner surface.


13. But it is fitly subjoined; And at the same time plunge their faces into the pit. As if He said, As I. For by a just judgment the Lord plunges the faces of the proud into the pit; because He casts down the intention of their heart, when it raises itself above men. For he whose face turns to the pit, looks towards things below. And it is well said of the proud, that their faces are plunged into the pit; because they are sinking lower, when through pride they are seeking higher things; and the more they raise themselves in their exaltation, the lower do they tend in their fall. For they seek earthly glory, and the things to which they look forward are of the basest kind, whilst they follow after high things in their pride. Whence it comes to pass in a wonderful and contrary manner, that the humble seek after heaven, whilst they cast themselves down the lower, and that the proud pursue the lowest objects, while by despising others they are raised, as it were, higher. The one, while they despise themselves, are united to heavenly things, the latter, while they exalt themselves, are separated from higher things. And, so to speak, the one, by elevating, depress, the other, by depressing, elevate themselves. And it is well said of the proud by the Psalmist; But He humbleth the sinners even to the earth; because by seeking after those things that are below, while they raise and extol themselves, what else do they, but, having lost heaven, fall to the earth? For their having already fallen to the bottom is their having sought after things below, having forsaken things above. Their faces are therefore rightly said to be plunged into the pit, because by following after things below, they tend to the pit of hell. For it comes to pass by a just judgment, that those whom wilful aversion benightens here, the well-deserved pit of punishment there excludes from the view of the true light. Because therefore the holy man is questioned with so great a dread of Divine Power, as to have it said to him, Hast thou an arm like God, or dost thou thunder with a voice like Him? Scatter the proud in thy wrath, and behold every one that is arrogant, and abase him, and other things which God is able to do, but man is hardly able to hear; the Lord shews with what intention He first spoke of all these things, by the end of the conclusion subjoined; saying,

Ver. 9. And I will confess that thy right hand can save thee. [E.V. 14]




14. As if He were openly saying, If thou art able to do these terrible things, which I Myself have displayed, I attribute to thee, and not to Myself, all the good things thou hast done. But if thou canst not destroy others, that sin, by a look, it is plain that thou canst not set thyself free from the guilt of wickedness, by thy own power. Behold! it is said by the Divine voice to blessed Job, that he is not saved by his own right hand, and yet certain men, who are far from the strength of this man, despising the assistance of God, trust that they can be saved by their own strength. And for these what else ought we to pray, except that, if they have already received the gifts of good works, they may receive also this gift, to know from Whom they have received them? But since the Lord in the preceding words mentioned the greatness of His power, He now in what follows points out the wickedness of the ancient enemy: in order that the good servant, having first heard of the virtues of the Lord, might know how much to love, and having known afterwards the craft of the devil, might learn how much to fear. Whence it is well said by the Prophet, The lion will roar, who will not fear? The Lord God hath spoken, who will not prophesy? [Amos 3, 8] For after the power of his Creator has been made known to him, the strength of his adversary ought not to be concealed from him, in order that he might submit himself the more humbly to his defender, the more accurately he had learned the wickedness of his enemy, and might more ardently seek his Creator, the more terrible he found the enemy to be, whom he had to avoid. For it is certain that he who less understands the danger he has escaped, loves his deliverer less; and that he who considers the strength of his adversary to be feeble, regards the solace of his defender as worthless. Whence the Prophet rightly said, ascribing his deliverance to the Lord; I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength, [Ps. 18, 1] plainly saying, that is, I love Thee the more, the more, feeling my own infirmity, I acknowledge Thee to be my strength. Hence he says again, Make Thy loving-kindness marvellous, O Thou that savest them that trust in Thee: [Ps. 17, 7] because the loving-kindnesses of the Lord doubtless then become wonderful to us who are delivered, when, by the same loving-kindnesses, it is found how grievous were the perils we have escaped.


15. And because the Lord, in the preceding part of His speech, disclosed to blessed Job the marvellous works of subsequent Saints, that he might learn, on hearing them, how humbly he ought to think of the height of his own virtues; it is now shewn him with what enemy he is waging war, and his strength and his crafts are more accurately pointed out, in order that he who has been led to converse with his Maker, may know plainly the arguments of the adversary. For in the words which follow, the Lord makes known to His faithful servant all the machinations of the crafty enemy, all wherein he seizes by oppressing, all wherein he flies around with insidiousness, all wherein he frightens by threatening; all wherein he allures by persuasion, all wherein he crushes by desperation, all wherein he deceives by promising. He commences therefore all his contests of craftiness, saying;

Ver. 10. Behold Behemoth, which I made with thee. [E.V. 15]




16. Whom does He suggest, under the name ‘Behemoth,’ except the ancient enemy? which being interpreted from the Hebrew word, means ‘Animal’ in the Latin tongue. For when his malice is added below, his person is plainly pointed out. But since it is written of God that He made all things together, why does He declare that He made this animal at the same time with man, when it is plain that He made all things at once? Again, we must enquire how God created all things at once, when Moses describes them as created separately with the varying change of six days. But we learn this the more readily, if we enquire minutely into the actual cases themselves of their beginnings. For the substance of things was indeed created at once, but the form was not fashioned at once: and that which existed at the same time in the substance of matter, appeared not at the same time by the figure of its shape. For when heaven and earth are described as made at the same time, it is pointed out that things spiritual and things corporeal, whatever arises from heaven, and whatever is produced from earth, were created all of them together. For the sun, the moon, and the stars, are said to have been created in the heaven on the fourth day: but that which on the fourth day came forth in appearance, existed on the first day in the substance of heaven by the creation. The earth is said to have been created on the first day, and the trees and all the green things of the earth are described as being made on the third. But that which on the third day put itself forth in appearance, was doubtless created on the first day in the substance of the earth, from which it sprung. Hence it is that Moses distinctly related the creation of all things in separate days, and yet added that all were created at the same time, saying, These are the generations of the heaven and the earth, when they were created, in the day that the Lord made the heaven, and the earth, and every plant of the field, before it sprung up in the earth, and every herb of the region. [Gen. 2, 4, 5] For he who had related that the heaven, and the earth, the trees and herbs, were created on different days, now declares that they were made on one day; in order clearly to point out that every creature began to be at the same time in substance, although it came not forth at the same time in appearance. Hence also it is written there, God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him, male and female created He them. [Gen. 1, 27] For Eve is not as yet described as having been made, and yet man is already said to be male and female. But because woman was certainly about to come forth from the side of Adam, she is already reckoned as being in him in substance, from whom she was hereafter to come forth in form. But we can consider these points in the smallest matters, in order from the smallest to consider greater. For when the herb is created, neither fruit, nor the seed of its fruit, as yet appears in it. But fruit and seed exist therein, even when they appear not; because they doubtless exist together in the substance of the root, which appear not together in the increase of time.


17. But because we say that those things are created at the same time in substance, which we find come forth the one from the other, in what way is Behemoth declared to be created together with blessed Job, when, neither is the substance of an angel, and of a man the same, and man springs not forth from an angel, nor an angel from a man? But if Behemoth is said to be created together with blessed Job, because every creature is without question created at the same time by a Maker, Who is not spread out in His doings in extent of time, why is that specially said of Behemoth, which is possessed in common with all creatures in general? But if we weigh the causes of things with accurate enquiry, we learn that Angels and men were created together; together, that is, not in unity of time, but in the knowledge of reason; together, by receiving the image of wisdom, and not together by the union of the substance of their form. For it is written of man, Let us make man after Our image and likeness. [Gen. 1, 26] And it is said to Satan by Ezekiel, Thou wast a seal of similitude, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty in the delights of the Paradise of God. [Ez. 28, 12] In the whole creation, then, men and angels came into being together, because they came forth distinct from every irrational creature. Because then in all the creation there is no rational being but men and Angels, whatever can not exercise reason, is not made together with Man. Let it be said then to man, let it be said of the angel, who although he lost the power of his high estate, yet lost not the subtlety of a rational nature; Behold, Behemoth, which I made with thee. In order that while man considers that he who was made together with him in reason has perished, he may, from the ruin of him who is near him, fear that the fall of pride is nigh himself also. But we must carefully notice that in these words, the wicked doctrine of Manichæus is plainly reproved by the voice of the Lord; for he, when he speaks of two principles, endeavours to establish that the ‘race of darkness’ was not created. For how is that most wicked race said to have not been made, when the Lord declares that He created that Behemoth, the author, namely, of wickedness, who was rightly fashioned by nature? But because we have heard with whom that Behemoth was made, let us hear what he does, when ruined. It follows;

He will eat hay as an ox.




18. If we carefully examine the words of the Prophets, we discover that these and they were put forth by the same Spirit. For when Isaiah observed the life of sinners devoured by the ancient and insatiable enemy, he said, the lion shall eat straw like the ox. [Is. 11, 7] But what is signified by the words hay, and straw, except the life of the carnal? Of which it is said by the Prophet, All flesh is hay. [Is. 40, 6] He then who here is ‘Behemoth,’ is there a ‘lion;’ they who are here called ‘hay,’ are there called ‘straw.’ But the mind strives to enquire why this lion in Isaiah, or Behemoth as he is called by the voice of the Lord, is in both passages compared not to a horse, but an ox. But we ascertain this the sooner, if we consider what is the difference of foods in the two animals. For horses eat hay, however dirty, but drink clean water only. But oxen drink water, however filthy, but feed only on clean hay. What then is it, for which this Behemoth is compared to an ox, which feeds on clean food, except that which is said of this ancient enemy by another Prophet; His food is choice. [Hab. 1, 16] For he rejoices not in seizing those whom he beholds lying of their own accord in the lowest depths with himself, involved in wicked and filthy actions. He therefore seeks to eat hay as an ox, because he seeks to wound with the fang of his suggestion the pure life of the spiritual.


19. But I see we must enquire, how this Behemoth, who eats hay like an ox, is said to destroy the life of the spiritual, when, as was before said, by the word ‘hay’ is designated the life of the carnal. His food also will no longer be choice, if, in eating hay, he seizes the carnal. But it occurs at once in reply, that some men are both hay in the sight of God, and among men are counted under the name of holiness, when their life displays one thing before the eyes of men, and before the Divine judgment their conscience intends another. They therefore in the opinion of men are ‘choice,’ [‘electi’] but in the accurate judgment of the Lord are ‘hay.’ Was not Saul hay in the sight of God, of whom the Prophet Samuel said to the people, Ye surely see him whom the Lord hath chosen, [1 Sam. 10, 24] and of whom it is said just above, He is choice and good? [ib. 9, 2] For he whom the sinful people deserved, was both reprobate in the sight of God, and yet in the order of causes was choice and good. That many are hay, and suspect that they are Elect from the opinion of men, is well said by Solomon; I saw the wicked buried, who even while they were still living were in the holy place, and were praised in the city as if of good works. [Eccles. 8, 10] That many are hay, but yet are protected by the favour of sanctity, a certain wise man well points out, saying, Pass over, O stranger, and furnish a table. [Ecclus. 29, 26] For a stranger is said by passing over to furnish a table; because if any one standing at the altar of God seeks his own glory by good works, both the praise of the altar is extended by the display of his sanctity, and yet he himself is not counted by God in the number of the citizens. His opinion advances with others, and yet he himself ‘passes over as a stranger’ from God. He therefore ‘adorned the table in passing over,’ because he would not remain at the sacrifice, who in all he studied to do descended in thought to the praises of men. Because then some persons studiously lead a clean life, but seek not thereby to approve themselves within, his food is both rightly said to be choice, and yet this Behemoth is said to eat hay as an ox. For clean hay lies, as it were, on the ground, and below, before the mouth of this Behemoth, when both a life is passed, as it were, in innocence through keeping the commandments, and yet in the midst of conduct which is set forth as good, the heart is not raised to seek after things above. What useful purpose then does he effect, who guards purity of life in himself, if by his base intention, he leaves himself on the earth to be found by the mouth of this Behemoth? Because therefore Almighty God informs us what our enemy is doing, let Him now make known to us how he prevails, in order that the more the wickedness of his cunning is known, the more easily it may be overcome. It follows;

Ver. 11. His strengthen is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly.




20. The places for the seed of coition are said to be in the loins with men, but in the navel with women. For hence it is that the Truth says to His disciples; Let your loins be girded about. [Luke 12, 35] Hence Peter, when keeping away lust from the heart, admonished, saying, Girded up in the loins of your mind. [1 Pet. 1, 13] Hence Paul, when saying that the priesthood of Levi was tithed by the sacrifice of Abraham in the time of Melchisedec, said, in shewing where Levi was then concealed in the body of his father; For he was yet in the loins of his father. But that the seed-vessel of lust is with women contained in the navel, the Prophet witnesses, who, reproving the wantonness of Judaea, under the character of a prostituted woman, says; In the day of thy birth thy navel was not cut. [Ez. 16, 4] For to cut the navel in the day of birth, is to cut off the lust of the flesh at the time of conversion. For since it is difficult to correct evil beginnings, and to mould into a better shape things that have once been shapen amiss, Judaea is blamed from her birth, as having, while born of God, retained her navel unsevered, because she lopped not off the loosenesses [‘fluxa’] of lust. Because therefore both sexes are grievously overcome by the infirmity of lust, through the power of the devil, his strength is both said to be in his loins, against men, and his force in his navel, against women.


21. But why, when He had first mentioned this Behemoth as eating hay, did He subjoin the fatal effects of lust, as the first arguments of his deception? Except that it is plain to all, that after pride has once seized the spirit of a man, he immediately stretches forth to the pollution of the flesh. Which we observe even in the first man and woman; who, by covering their shameful parts, after the commission of pride, plainly shewed that after they had endeavoured in themselves to grasp at high things within, they presently were subject in the flesh to what bringeth shame without. This Behemoth therefore, who rages insatiably, and seeks to devour the whole man at once, at one time exalts his mind to pride at another corrupts his flesh with the pleasure of lust. But his strength is well said not to be in the loins or the navel of them who are overcome; but, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. As if it were plainly said, His strength is in his own loins, and his force is in the navel of his own belly; because they doubtless specially become his body, who, being deceived by the blandishments of base suggestions, submit to him through the loosenesses of lust. It follows,

Ver. 12. He setteth fast his tail, like a cedar. [E.V. 17]




22. There are in these words many points, to be brought forward for moral instruction. But we examine in the first place the violences of this Behemoth, in order afterwards to detect more accurately his crafts. In Holy Scripture under the name ‘cedar,’ sometimes the lofty excellence of heavenly glory is expressed; but sometimes the stubborn pride of the wicked is designated. By the name ‘cedar’ is expressed the loftiness of heavenly glory, as the Psalmist witnesses, The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree, he shall be multiplied like a cedar in Libanus. [Ps. 92, 12] Again, under the name ‘cedar’ is designated the haughty power of the wicked, as is said by the same Prophet; The voice of the Lord breaking the cedars. [Ps. 29, 5] But what is meant by the tail of this Behemoth, except that latter end of the ancient enemy, when he enters, doubtless, that ruined man, his peculiar vessel, who is specially called Antichrist? For since he is permitted, at one time by the honours of the world, at another by signs and prodigies of pretended sanctity, to be elevated to the swelling of power, his tail is rightly compared by the voice of the Lord to a cedar. For as a cedar leaves behind other trees by increasing in height, in like manner will Antichrist, possessing in temporal things the glory of the world, surpass at this time the standard of man both in the height of his honour, and in the power of his miracles. For there is in him a spirit, who having been created in high estate, lost not, even when cast down, the power of his nature. But his power is at present very little displayed, because it is held bound by an exercise [‘dispensatione’] of Divine strength. Whence it is said by John; I saw an Angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit, and a great chain in his hand: and he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil and Satan, and bound him a thousand gears, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him. [Rev. 20, 1-3] For he is said to be bound, and cast into the bottomless pit; because he is thrust back and bound in the hearts of the wicked by Divine power, so as not to be unchecked, as far as he is able to hurt; that, though he may secretly rage by them, he may not break forth into the violent ravages of pride. But it is there intimated how he is to be loosed at the end of the world; And after the thousand years shall have been completed, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out, and seduce the nations. [ib. v. 7] For by the number ‘thousand,’ on account of its perfection, is expressed this whole period, whatever it be, of Holy Church. On the completion of which the ancient enemy, given up to his own strength, for a short time, but with much power is let loose against us.


23. But though his fierceness makes him break forth into cruelty, yet the Divine pity confines him with fewness of days. For hence the Truth says by Itself, Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not from the beginning of the world to this time, nor shall be. [Matt. 24, 21] Hence again It says, Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved. [ib. v. 22] For since the Lord beholds us to be both proud and weak, those days, which He spoke of as singularly evil, He, in His mercy, says were shortened; in order doubtless to alarm our pride by the adversity of the time, and to comfort our weakness by the shortness of the days.


24. But it must be greatly considered, in what way that Behemoth, when he raises his tail as a cedar, arises with greater fierceness than he now exerts himself. For what kinds of punishments do we know, at which we rejoice not as having already exercised the strength of Martyrs? For the sword plunged in the neck prostrated some with a sudden blow; the cross torturing [‘crucis patibulum’] fastened some, in which death is both repelled when courted, and courted when repelled; some the saw ground with its rugged teeth; some the iron-armed hoof trampled on and mangled [‘carpsit,’ al. sparsit,’ ‘dashed in pieces’]; some the rage of beasts tore limb from limb with their bite; some the force of blows imprinted through the skin pierced from their inmost entrails; some the deep dug earth buried alive; some the precipice crushed when hurled headlong to death; some the water drowned and swallowed up when plunged into it; some the devouring flame fed upon and consumed to ashes. When therefore this Behemoth expands his tail more fatally, in the end of the world, what greater cruelty can spring up in these torments, except that which the Truth says Itself in the Gospel; There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders, so that, if possible, even the Elect may be led into error. [Matt. 24, 24] For now our faithful ones do wonders, when they suffer wrongs, but at that time the ministers of this Behemoth are about to do wonders, even when they inflict wrongs. Let us consider therefore what will be that temptation of the mind of man, when both the pious martyr submits his body to tortures, and yet his torturer works miracles before his eyes! Whose resolution would not then be shaken, from the very bottom of his thoughts, when he who tortures with the scourges, glitters also with miracles? Let it be rightly said then; He setteth up his tail as a cedar, because he will doubtless be exalted from reverence for the prodigy, and harsh with the cruelty of his torture.


25. For he is then not exalted only in power, but is supported also by the display of miracles. Whence is it also said by David; He lieth in wait in secret, as a lion in his den. [Ps. 10, 9] For for open power, it would have sufficed, if he had been a lion, even though he had not lain in wait: and again for secret craft, it would have sufficed for him to have spoiled secretly in ambush, even if he had not been a lion. But because this ancient enemy is unchecked in all his strength, he is permitted to rage in both ways, so as that he is let loose in contest against the Elect both by fraud and strength; in strength by his power, in fraud by his miracles. He is therefore rightly said to be both a lion, and lying in wait: lying in wait by the splendour of his miracles, a lion by his secular power. For in order to draw those who are openly wicked, he displays his secular power; but in order to deceive even the just, he pretends sanctity by his miracles. For he persuades the one by the height of his greatness, he deceives the others by a display of sanctity. Of this tail of this Behemoth, it is said by John, under the form of a dragon; And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and cast them to the earth. [Rev. 12, 4] For heaven is the Church, which in this night of the present life, when it contains within it the countless virtues of the Saints, glitters from above with radiant stars. But the tail of the dragon casts down the stars to the earth, because that latter end of Satan, exalted by the boldness of the man it has assumed, by gaining possession of some, whom it finds in the Church as if the Elect of God, shews them to be reprobates. For stars therefore to fall from heaven, is for some, having abandoned the hope of heavenly things, to be eager, under his guidance, for the pursuit of secular glory.


26. Hence Daniel speaks against this tail of the dragon in the person of Antiochus, saying, It cast down some of the strong host, and of the stars, and stamped upon them, and magnified himself even to the prince of the strong host, and took away from him the perpetual sacrifice, and cast down the place of his sanctification. But strength was given him against the perpetual sacrifice, by reason of transgressions; and truth will be cast down in the earth, and he will do, and prosper. [Dan. 8, 10-12] For he casts down some of the strong host [‘de fortitudine’], and of the stars, when he crushes some who both are resplendent with the light of righteousness, and strong through the virtue of their works. And he magnifies himself as far as to the prince of the host, because he sets himself up against the Author of virtue Himself. He takes away the perpetual sacrifice; because he breaks off the desire of conversation in the Church in those whom he has seized. But strength is given him against the perpetual sacrifice by reason of transgressions; because unless the deserts of those who are perishing demanded it, the adversary would never be able to gain possession of those who were believed to be righteous. Truth is cast down in the earth, because belief in heavenly things is then perverted into a longing for temporal life. And he will do and prosper; because he will then do his violence not only on the minds of the reprobate, but also on the bodies of the Elect with incalculable cruelty, without any opposition. Hence again it is said by Daniel, A king of shameless face, and understanding dark sentences shall rise up, and his power shall be rendered strong, but not in his own strength. [Dan. 8, 23. 24.] For the power of that man is not strengthened by his own strength, because by the might of Satan he is exalted to the glory of perdition. Hence again he says; He shall slay the mighty and the holy people, according to his will, and craft shall be directed aright in his hand. [ib. 24. 25.] For he slays the mighty, when he overcomes, in their bodies, those who are unconquered in mind. Or he certainly slays the mighty, and the people of the Saints, according to his will, when he draws at the beck of his will those who were believed to be mighty and holy. And craft is directed aright in his hand, because in him craft is helped on by his doings. For that which he says in his craft, be supports by working wonders; for whatever his lying tongue pretends, that does the hand of his work set forth, as if true.


27. Hence again he says; He will rise up against the Prince of princes, and he shall be broken without hand. [ib. 25.] Hence Paul says, So that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself, as if he were God. [2 Thess. 2, 4] Hence again he says; Whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. [ib. 8] For that which is said by Daniel, He will rise up against the Prince of princes, is expressed by Paul, So that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. And that which is subjoined by Daniel, He shall be broken without hand, is expressed by Paul, Whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the spirit of His mouth. For he will be broken without hand, because he will be smitten with eternal death, not in battle with the Angels, not in contest with the Saints, but through the coming of the Judge, by the breath of His mouth alone. Of the pride of this Behemoth it is also said by Paul, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped. [2 Thess. 2, 4] Of whom Daniel, when saying that the fourth beast was strengthened with ten horns, immediately added, I was considering the horns, and behold there came up from the midst of them another little horn, and three of the first horns were plucked up from before its face, and behold in this horn were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking great things. [Dan. 7, 8] He is described in truth as the eleventh horn of this beast, because the power of his kingdom is strengthened by iniquity. For every sin belongs to the number eleven, because while it does perverse things, it goes beyond the precepts of the decalogue. And because sin is bewailed in goats’ hair, hence it is that in the Tabernacle there are made eleven veils of goats’ hair. [Ex. 26, 7] Hence it is said in the eleventh psalm, Save me, Lord, for the godly man hath ceased. [Ps. 12, 1] Hence Peter, being afraid of the Apostles continuing in the number eleven, sought, by casting lots, for Matthias as the twelfth. [Acts 1, 15-26] For unless he observed that fault was signified by the number eleven, he would not be so hastily anxious for the number of the Apostles to be completed to that of twelve. Because therefore transgression is expressed by the number eleven, the author of transgression himself is indicated by the eleventh horn of this beast. Which springs up of small size in truth, because he is born a mere man; but it increases hugely, because he advances even to the power of angelic strength united to himself. And it plucks up the three horns, which are before its face, because he subjects to his power the same number of kingdoms which are near him. And its eyes are like the eyes of a man, but its mouth speaketh great things, because there is seen in him the form indeed of a man, but in his words he is exalted above men. That then which is said by Paul, Exalting himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, [2 Thess. 2, 1] this the Prophet Daniel witnesses, saying, A mouth speaking great things. [Dan. 7, 8] But Daniel’s declaring that he speaks great things, or Paul that he is exalted above the worship of the Godhead, is the very thing which in the words of God to blessed Job is compared to a cedar. For, like a cedar, he strives after high things, when, in all the pride of deceit, he prospers both in strength of might, and in height of elevation. But he is well said to set fast his tail, because his whole power is brought together and condensed in that one ruined man, in order that he may the more perform mighty and marvellous things through him, the more he urges him on by his collected strength. But since we have heard of what kind is the head of the wicked, let us now learn what members cleave to this head. It follows;

The sinews of his stones are wrapped together.




28. This Behemoth has as many ‘stones,’ as he possesses preachers of his iniquity. Are not they who corrupt the hearts of men with evil persuasions, by pouring in the poisonous seeds of their error, his stones? But it is fitly said, that the sinews of his stones are wrapped together, because, namely, the arguments of his preachers are bound together with cunning assertions, as to pretend to be right, which persuade perverse things, so that though the entanglement of their assertions can be seen, like the wrapping together of sinews, yet it cannot be unravelled. His ‘stones’ have their ‘sinews wrapped together,’ because the acuteness of his preachers is concealed beneath ambiguous assertions. But generally when they infect hearts with their words, they display innocency in their conduct. For they would not attract the good to them by their persuasion, if they were to exhibit themselves as perverse in their conduct also. But because they are the stones of this beast, and are bound by sinews wrapped together, they both display themselves as upright in order to escape notice, and preach perverse things in order to corrupt, imitating, doubtless, their head, who, as a lion in ambush, both rages by the power of earthly dignity, and flatters by a show of sanctity. But would that this beast were acting thus then only, and that he had not now also these testicles of lust to corrupt the inner parts of the faithful. For not only is that which is evil infused with the speaking of the mouth, but that which is worse is held by more in the example of conduct. For how many have not beheld Antichrist, and yet are his testicles: because they corrupt the hearts of the innocent by the example of their doings! For whoever is exalted with pride, whoever is tortured by the longings of covetousness, whoever is relaxed with the pleasures of lust, whoever is kindled by the burnings of unjust and immoderate anger, what else is he but a testicle of Antichrist? For while he willingly engages himself in his service, he furnishes by his example the progeny of error to others. The one works wickedly, the other cleaves to those who work wickedly; and so far from opposing, even favours them. What else then but a testicle of Antichrist is he, who having cast aside the authority of the faith he has pledged to God, witnesses in favour of error? But if any reprove these persons, they presently conceal themselves under some cloke of defence; for since their sinews are wrapped together, and entangled for evil, they cannot be released from corruption. It follows;

Ver. 13. His bones are as pipes of brass. [E.V. 18]




29. In the body they are bones which hold the members together, and members which are held together. This beast then has flesh, it has bones also; because there are some wicked persons, who are yet retained in error by others, and others still more wicked who retain others also in error. What else then do we understand by the bones of Antichrist, but some more powerful persons in his body? in whose hearts while iniquity has become greatly hardened, the whole framework of his body is held together by them. For there appear to be many rich in this world, who while relying on their possessions and wealth, are consolidated, as it were, by strength, but by lavishing these goods by which they were supported, they lead others into their own error. At one time they allure others by their gifts to become wicked, at another they bind others by their presents to continue in wickedness. What then are these but bones of Antichrist, who while they multiply the wicked by keeping them together, support the flesh in his body? These sometimes exhibit a sweetness of speech in deceiving their hearers, because even thorns produce flowers, and that in them which smells sweetly is seen, that which wounds is hid. They blend the sweet with the bitter, the soothing with the hurtful, and though they strive to be admired, by reason of their power, yet through their skill in deceiving, they abase themselves, as if humbly, by their easy address, and by their speech insinuate that of themselves, which they deny by their outward conduct.


30. Whence also the ‘bones’ of this Behemoth are rightly compared to pipes of brass, because doubtless like insensible metal, they have the sound of right speech, but not the sense of right living. For they assert, as if humbly, that in words, which they set at nought by living haughtily. Whence it is well said by Paul; Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charily, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. [l Cor. 13, 1] For he who speaks good things, but pursues not the same good things through love, utters a sound like brass or a cymbal; because he himself feels not the words which he utters. But there are some in the body of this beast, not illustrious from honours, not supported by riches, not adorned with the beauty of virtues, not 
skilled in the science of cunning, who yet aim at appearing such as they are not, and who are therefore more hurtful to the life of the righteous. Of whom it also follows,

His cartilage as plates of iron.




31. For cartilage has indeed the appearance of bone, but has not the strength of bone. What is meant then by his cartilage being compared to plates of iron, except that those in him who are most feeble, are more evilly disposed for the perpetration of wickedness? For other metals are cut by iron, and his cartilage is said to be like iron, because those in his body who are unequal to the display of mighty powers, are the more violently inflamed to cause the death of the faithful. For because they consider that they cannot with him work signs and prodigies, they prove themselves faithful to him by their cruelty, and instead of being able to corrupt by their persuasion the hearts of the innocent, they glory in destroying the bodies of the good manifoldly more than others. It is therefore well said; His cartilage is as plates of iron; because that which any one would believe to be the weaker part of his body, is the very thing which wounds the more fatally. And they are rightly compared not to iron only, but to ‘plates of iron,’ because while they go about to spread themselves out on every side in cruelty, they extend themselves, as it were, into plates of iron.


32. It seems good to us to examine with a stricter hand of enquiry these same words of the Creator, which seem already discussed, and to gather more abundant fruits of understanding for moral instruction. For since we have heard what the ancient enemy effects against men, by the man he has assumed, it remains for us now to examine what he works in men even by himself, without the aid of men. For behold it is said,

Ver. 12. He setteth fast his tail, like a cedar. [E.V. 17]






33. The first suggestion of the serpent is soft indeed, and tender, and easily to be crushed by the foot of virtue. But if it is carelessly allowed to gain strength, and access is freely allowed it to the heart, it increases itself with such great power, as to weigh down the enslaved mind, and to increase to intolerable strength. He is said therefore to set fast his tail like a cedar, because his temptation when once received in the heart, in all subsequent assaults, rules as if by right. The head of this Behemoth therefore is grass, his tail a cedar, he fawns and humbles himself at this first suggestion, but gaining great strength by habit, he is hardened in the increasing close of temptation. For every thing which he suggests at first is easily overcome; but thence there follows, that which can hardly be overcome. For he first addresses the mind in gentle terms, as if advising it: but when he has once fastened on it the fang of pleasure, he is afterwards bound to it almost indissolubly, by powerful habit. Whence also he is well said to ‘set fast his tail.’ For he wounds with his tooth, but binds with his tail; because he strikes with the first suggestion, but binds the mind, once struck, with the increasing close of temptation, that it cannot escape. For since sin is admitted in three ways, namely, when it is perpetrated by the suggestion of the serpent, with the pleasure of the flesh, with the consent of the spirit; this Behemoth first puts forth his tongue, suggesting unlawful thoughts, afterwards alluring to delight, he infixes his tooth; but lastly, gaining possession by consent, he clenches his tail. Hence it is that some persons blame in themselves sins which have been committed through long habit, and avoid them in judgment, but cannot even though contending against them avoid them in act; because when they do not crush the head of this Behemoth, they are frequently, even against their will, bound by his tail. And this has become as hard as a cedar against them, because it has grown up from the alluring pleasure of its beginning even to the violence of retention. Let it be said then; He clencheth his tail like a cedar; in order that every one should the more avoid the beginnings of temptation, the more he understands that it cannot be easily escaped from at the last.


34. It should be known also, that to those whom he has seized, he commonly suggests more grievous sins, when he knows that they are drawing near the close of this present life: and that the more he considers that he is about to consummate the temptation, the more heavy burdens of iniquities does he heap upon them. Behemoth, therefore, clenches his tail like a cedar, because those whom he has seized by evil beginnings, he makes worse at the end; in order that the sooner his temptations are to cease, the more mightily they may be fulfilled. For since he is busied to make their suffering equal to his own punishment, the more ardently does he strive to exaggerate every sin, before their death. But frequently this Behemoth possesses a heart already fatally subject to him, but yet Divine grace repels him; and the gift of mercy ejects him whom the captive will brought in to itself. And when he is expelled from a heart, he strives to inflict sharper wounds of sin, in order that the mind may feel, when assaulted by him, those waves of temptations, which it knew not even when possessed by him. Which is well expressed in the Gospel, when the unclean spirit is said at the Lord’s bidding to go forth from a man. For when the boy, which was possessed by the spirit, was presented to Him, it is written; Jesus rebuked the foul spirit, saying, Thou deaf and dumb spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And it cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him. [Mark 9, 25. 26.] Behold, it had not rent him, when it possessed him, it rent him when it came out; because he doubtless then harasses the thoughts of the mind more fearfully, when, compelled by Divine power, he draws near his departure. And him whom he had possessed as a dumb spirit, he was leaving with cries: because frequently, when in possession, he inflicts smaller temptations; but when he is expelling from the heart, he disturbs it with sharper assaults. It is therefore well said, He clencheth his tail like a cedar, both because when possessing a heart, he always increases in malice at the end; and when leaving a heart, he smites it with severer wounds of thoughts. But, through the wonderful compassion of the Creator, the more subtle arguments of this Behemoth are also laid open, when it is subjoined;

The sinews of his stones are wrapped together.




35. The sinews of his stones are the deadly arguments of his machinations. For by these he rouses the strength of his cunning, and corrupts the unstable hearts of men. His stones are wicked suggestions, with which he rages in the corruption of the mind, and begets in the debauched soul the progeny of wicked works. But the sinews of these stones are wrapped together, because the arguments of his suggestions are bound together by complicated devices; so as to make many sin in such a way, that, if they wish perchance to escape a sin, they cannot escape it without being entangled in another sin; and that they commit a fault in avoiding it, and that they are unable to release themselves from one, unless they consent to be bound by another. A point which we make clearer, by bringing forward some instances of this ensnaring from the common doings of men. But because Holy Church consists of three orders, namely, the married, the continent, and rulers, (whence both Ezekiel saw three men set free, namely, Noah, Daniel, and Job, [Ez. 14, 14] and the Lord in the Gospel, by saying that there were some in the field, some in the bed, and some in the mill, [Luke 17, 34-36] doubtless points out three orders in the Church,) it is plainly sufficient for us to select an instance out of each class.


36. For, behold, one man, while seeking the friendships of the world, binds himself by an oath to another, leading a similar life, to conceal his secrets with perfect silence; but he, to whom the oath has been sworn, is discovered to be guilty of adultery, so as even to endeavour to kill the husband of the adulteress. But he who has taken the oath, turns back to his own mind, and is assailed by different thoughts on one side and the other, and is afraid of being silent in this matter, lest by silence he should be an accomplice in adultery and homicide at the same time; and is afraid to disclose it, lest he should involve himself in the guilt of perjury. He is bound therefore by the sinews of stones wrapped together, because to whichever side he inclines, he is afraid of not being free from the taint of transgression.


37. Another, forsaking all worldly things, and seeking in all things to crush his own will, wishes to submit himself to the authority of another. But he does not carefully enquire into and discern the character of him who is to rule over him in the Lord. And when he, perhaps, who is injudiciously selected, has begun to rule over him, he forbids the things of God to be done, and enjoins the things of the world. The person under him considering, therefore, either what is the sin of disobedience, or what is the pollution of secular life, both trembles to obey, and fears to disobey; lest by obeying he should forsake God in His commands, or again by disobeying should despise God in the superior he has chosen; and lest by obeying unlawful commands, He should exercise against God that which he chooses for God’s sake; or again, by disobeying, should postpone to his own judgment him whom he had sought for as his own judge. He is, therefore, through the fault of his indiscretion, bound by the sinews of stones wrapped together, because either by obeying, or certainly by disobeying, he is bound with the sin of transgression. He was studying to break down his own will, and he takes care even to strengthen it by despising his superior. He resolved entirely to abandon the world, and he is compelled to return to the cares of the world even through the will of another. The sinews, therefore, are wrapped together, when the arguments of the enemy so bind us, that the knots of sins hold the firmer, the more they are sought to be disentangled.


38. Another, neglecting to think of the weight of ecclesiastical distinction, ascends by bribes to a place of rule. But because every eminent position in this world is more affected by griefs, than delighted by its honours, when the heart is weighed down by tribulations, its fault is recalled to its memory: and a man laments that he has attained to a laborious post by wrong means, and he learns how wrong is his conduct, by being crushed by the very difficulty. Acknowledging, therefore, that he is guilty with the bribes he has expended, he wishes to abandon the lofty position he has gained: but he is afraid it should be a more grievous sin to have resigned the charge of the flock he had undertaken. He wishes to take care of the flock committed to him, but he is afraid it should be a greater fault to hold the authority of pastoral grace which he purchased. He perceives therefore that, through seeking for distinction, he is hampered by sin on every side. For he sees that neither course is without the imputation of guilt, if either the flock he has once taken charge of be abandoned, or again if a sacred office be retained, when purchased in a secular way. He is afraid in every direction, and is suspiciously fearful on every side, either lest remaining in his purchased office he should not properly bewail his not correcting his fault by even abandoning it, or certainly, lest, while endeavouring to lament one fault, by resigning his authority, he should again commit another, by this very forsaking of his flock. Because, therefore, this Behemoth binds with such entangled knots, that a mind, when brought into doubt, binds itself firmer in sin by the very means it attempts to free itself from sin, it is rightly said; The sinews of his stones are wrapped together. For the more the arguments of his machinations are loosened, as if to release us, the more are they entwined to hold us fast.


39. There is, however, a plan which may be usefully adopted to overthrow his craft, namely, that when the mind is held in bondage between less and greater sins, if no outlet for escape is open without sin, the less evils should always be preferred: because even he who is shut in by a circuit of walls on every side, lest he escape, there throws himself down in flight, where the wall is found lowest. And Paul when he observed certain incontinent persons in the Church, conceded the smallest faults, in order that they might avoid greater, saying, On account of fornication, let every man have his own wife. [1 Cor. 7, 2] And because married people are then only without sin in their connection, when they come together, not for the gratification of lust, but for the begetting of children, in order to shew that this which he had conceded was not without sin, though of least degree, he immediately added, But I speak this by indulgence, not by commandment. [ib. 6] For that which is pardoned, and is not commanded, is not without fault He surely saw that to be a sin, which he foresaw he was able to concede [al. ‘could be excused.’]. But when we are constrained by doubts, we profitably yield to the least, for fear of sinning unpardonably in great, faults. The entanglement of the sinews of this Behemoth is therefore frequently unravelled, when we pass to the greatest virtues through the commission of smaller faults. It follows,

Ver. 19. His bones are as pipes of brass. [E.V. 18]




40. What are designated by the ‘bones’ of this Behemoth, except his counsels? For as the uprightness [‘positio’] and strength of the body subsist in the bones, so does his whole malice exalt itself in crafty designs. For he does not oppress any one by force, but he destroys him by the craftiness of his deadly persuasion. And again, as the marrow strengthens the bones which it moistens, so also does the subtlety of his genius, infused by the power of a spiritual nature, strengthen his designs. But in this his ‘testicles’ differ from his ‘bones,’ that is, his suggestions from his designs, that by the former he openly inserts what is noxious, but by the latter, when counselling as if for good he leads into sin; by the former he overcomes in fight, but by the latter he supplants by advising. Whence also his ‘bones,’ that is, these very designs, are well compared to pipes of brass. For pipes of brass are usually adapted to sonorous tunes, and when on being applied to the ears they delicately utter a soothing strain, they attract the mind within to outward delights; and when the sound is sweet which they utter to the cars, they weaken the manliness of the heart with the flow of pleasure. And when the hearing is drawn on to delight, the understanding is relaxed from the firmness of its strength. So also when his crafty designs counsel, as it were, with gentle forethought, they withdraw the heart from its resolute intention, and when they utter sweet sounds, they dispose to hurtful things. They are like pipes of brass then, which when heard with pleasure plunge the mind from its inward resolution into the pleasure of outward life. For it is this, which this Behemoth specially labours at in prosecuting his deception, to be able to utter sweetly what he says, when he puts forth his scheme of wickedness as if for our good, in order that he may beguile the mind by putting forward its usefulness, and corrupt it by concealing its iniquity.


41. And we make this plainer in every respect, by briefly laying open a few of the arguments of his counsels. For behold, a person, content with his own possessions, has resolved not to be entangled with any of this world’s occupations, being greatly afraid of losing the advantages of his ease, and utterly disdaining to accumulate wealth with sin. The crafty enemy in approaching him, in order to undermine his intention of sincere devotion, secretly offers a suggestion as if for his benefit, saying, Those things which thou hast are sufficient at present, but what dost thou intend to do when these fail? For if nothing is provided after these, thou hast what must be expended at once on thy children, but yet goods must be acquired to be laid up in store. Even what thou hast can soon fail, if anxious forethought ceases to provide what is wanting. Cannot worldly business be discharged, and yet sin be avoided in the doing it, in order that it may both furnish outward means, and yet not pervert inward rectitude? He insinuates these thoughts, and flatters the while; and is already secretly concealing the snares of sin in the worldly business, which he provides. His bones are therefore like pipes of brass, because his pernicious suggestions flatter their hearer with the sweetness of a voice which is giving them counsel.


42. Another also has resolved not merely not to seek for worldly advantages, but even to resign all that he possesses, in order to exercise himself the more freely in the discipline of heavenly training, the more he has disburdened himself, and abandons and tramples under foot the things which could weigh down their possessor. The lurking enemy addresses his heart with secret suggestion, saying, Whence has arisen the boldness of such great temerity, as for thee to dare to believe that thou canst subsist, by resigning every thing? Thy Creator formed thee in one way, and thou disposest of thyself in another: He would make thee more strong and robust, if He had wished thee to follow His footsteps with the neediness of want. Do not most men never give up their earthly patrimonies, and yet purchase by these, through works of compassion, the eternal goods of a heavenly inheritance? He suggests these things with flattery; but secretly in his deceit annexes deadly pleasures to the very things he advises him to retain, before the eyes of him who retains them, in order that he may attract the deluded heart to outward pleasures, and may draw aside its secret vows of perfection. His bones, therefore, are like pipes of brass, because when his crafty designs utter outwardly a soothing sound, they inflict deadly destruction within.


43. Another having given up all his outward possessions, prepares also to crush his inmost wishes, in order that, by submitting himself to the sounder judgment of another, he may renounce not merely his evil desires, but, (to add to his perfection,) himself also even in good resolves, and may observe all his duties at the will of another. The crafty enemy addresses him the more gently, the more ardently he endeavours to push him down from his loftier position, and presently, fawning on him with deadly suggestions, he says, O what great marvels thou wilt be able to perform by thyself, if thou dost not submit thyself in any way to the judgment of another. Why dost thou check thy progress, from a desire for improvement? Why dost thou crush the goodness of thy intention, when thou endeavourest to extend it further than is necessary? For what wickednesses didst thou perpetrate, when exercising thy own will? Why then dost thou require the judgment of another over thee, since thou wilt be of thyself fully sufficient for holy living? He suggests these things in a flattering tone, but he secretly prepares, in the indulgence of his own will, causes for the exercise of pride, and, while he praises his heart for its inward rectitude, he craftily seeks out where to undermine it with sin. His bones are, therefore, like pipes of brass, because his clandestine designs, by the very means with which they flatter, as it were, and delight the mind, fatally divert it from its right intention.


44. Another, having entirely subdued his will, has already corrected many sins of the old man, both by change of life, and by the lamentation of penitence; and is inflamed with greater zeal against the sins of others, the more he is entirely dead to himself, and is not held captive by his own iniquities. The crafty enemy, observing that by his zeal for righteousness he is benefiting others besides himself, attacks him with words which advise him as if for his advantage, saying, Why dost thou extend thyself to attend to others’ concerns? Would thou mayest have strength to consider thine own! Dost thou not consider, that when thou art stretched forth to the concerns of others, thou art found unequal to attend to thine own? And of what use is it to wipe off the blood of another’s wound, and by neglect to extend the corruption of thine own? While he speaks thus, as if giving advice, he takes away the zeal of charity, and destroys, with the sword of secretly instilled sloth, all the good which could result from charity. For if we are commanded to love our neighbours as ourselves, it is right for us to be kindled against sin, with zeal for them, as for ourselves. Because then he estranges the mind from its own resolution, while he pleasingly offers advice, it is rightly said, His bones are as pipes of brass. For when by his crafty designs he utters a pleasing sound to the mind of the hearer, he sings, as it were, with a pipe of brass, so as to deceive by means of his allurements. But this Behemoth engages much more gently in the contest, when, under the cloke of infirmity, he exercises himself in ambush. But he then arouses harder temptations, when he conceals the sources of iniquity, before the eyes of him who is tempted, under the semblance of virtue. Whence it is also rightly subjoined,

His cartilage as plates of iron.




45. For what but his simulation is understood by cartilage? For cartilage presents the appearance of bone, but it has not the strength of bone. And there are some vices which present an appearance of rectitude, but which proceed from the weakness of sin. For the malice of our enemy clokes itself with such art, as frequently to make faults appear as virtues before the eyes of the deluded mind; so that a person expects, as it were, rewards, for the very conduct for which he deserves to meet with eternal punishments. For cruelty is frequently exercised in punishing sins, and it is counted justice; and immoderate anger is believed to be the meritoriousness [‘meritum’] of righteous zeal; and when sinners ought to be carefully made straight from their crooked habits, they are snapped by being violently bent. Frequently negligent remissness is regarded as gentleness and forbearance, and while delinquents are spared temporally more than is proper, they are cruelly reserved to eternal punishments. Lavishness is sometimes believed to be compassion, and though it is a fault to be over saving, there is no fear of that which has been given being more wickedly lavished. Tenacity is sometimes considered frugality, and since it is a grievous fault not to give, it is considered a virtue to retain what has been received. The pertinacity of the wicked is often termed constancy, and when a mind does not submit to be turned from its wickedness, it glories as if in defending what is right. Inconstancy is often regarded as tractability, and because a person does not keep his word to any one, he considers himself on that account a friend to all men. Sometimes incompetent fear is believed to be humility, and when any one, oppressed by temporal fear, shrinks in silence from the defence of the truth, he thinks, that, according to the order of God, he demeans himself humbly to his superiors. Sometimes haughtiness of voice is counted freedom for the truth; and when through pride the truth is spoken against, forwardness in speaking is thought a defence of the truth. Sloth is frequently looked upon as a maintenance of peace, and though it is a grievous fault not to be zealous in doing what is right, it is believed to be a most meritorious virtue, merely to abstain from evil conduct. Restlessness of spirit is frequently termed a watchful solicitude, and when a person cannot endure rest, he thinks that he performs an exercise of virtue which is due from him, by doing what he likes. Incautious precipitation in things which must be done, is believed to be the warmth of praiseworthy zeal, and though a desired advantage is marred by unseasonable acting, it is considered that the quicker a thing is done, the better. Slowness in promoting goodness, is counted judgment, and when progress is expected to le made by reconsideration, delay lurks in ambush and disappoints it. When a fault then appears like virtue, we must needs consider that the mind abandons its fault the more slowly, in proportion as it does not blush at what it is doing; and that the mind abandons its fault the more slowly, in proportion as, having been deceived by the semblance of virtue, it seeks therefrom the recompense of rewards. But a fault is easily corrected, which is also blushed at; because it is felt to be a fault. Since, therefore, error is corrected with more difficulty, when it is believed to be a virtue, it is rightly said, His cartilage as plates of iron. For the more craftily this Behemoth exhibits his cunning under the cloke of virtue, the more firmly does he enthral the mind in sin.


46. Hence it is that sometimes those who seek after the way of holiness, when they have fallen into error, are improved but slowly. For they consider what they do to be right, and devote their perseverance to the practice of vice, as they do to the cultivation of virtue. They consider what they do to be right, and therefore promote the more earnestly their own judgment. Accordingly when Jeremiah said, Her Nazarites were whiter than snow, purer than milk, more ruddy than old ivory, more beautiful than the sapphire: their visage is made blacker than coals; and they are not known in the streets; he rightly added immediately, Their skin cleared to their bones, it is withered, and has become as a stick. [Lam. 4, 7. 8.] For what is signified by the word ‘Nazarites’ but the life of the abstinent, and continent, which is said to be whiter than snow and milk? For snow is congealed from water, coming as it does from above; but milk is squeezed from flesh which is nourished by things below. What then is pointed out by ‘snow’ but the brightness of the heavenly life, and what by ‘milk’ but the ordering of the temporal stewardship? And because continent men in the Church frequently perform such wonderful works, that many who have maintained a heavenly life, many who have dispensed aright the things of earth, seem to be surpassed by them, they are said to be both whiter than snow, and purer than milk. And since they sometimes appear by the fervour of their spirit to surpass the conduct of the ancient and mighty fathers, it is rightly subjoined, More ruddy than old ivory. For where the word ‘ruddiness’ is used, the flame of holy desire is signified. But we are not ignorant that ivory is the tusk of great animals. They are therefore more ruddy than old ivory, because they frequently appear before human eyes as of more fervent zeal than some of the preceding fathers. Of whom it is added, that the whole may be set forth at once; More beautiful than the sapphire. For the sapphire is of the colour of the heaven. And because they surpass many who precede them, and who are aiming at things above by a heavenly conversation, they are said to have been more beautiful than the sapphire. But when the abundance of virtues increases more than is expedient, the mind is frequently led to a kind of self-confidence, and, deceived by presuming on itself, is suddenly darkened by sin stealing it away. Whence it is rightly subjoined; Their visage is made blacker than coals. For they become black after whiteness, because having lost the righteousness of God, when they presume about themselves, they fall soon even into those sins which they understand not; and because, after the fire of love, they come to the chill of numbness, they are, in comparison, preferred to extinguished coals. For sometimes when they lose the fear of God through self-confidence, they become even colder than cold minds. Of whom it is rightly subjoined; They are not known in the streets. For a street (platea), according to the Greek tongue, is put for breadth [platea from platuV.]. But what is straiter for the mind of man, than for it to crush its own will? Of which crushing the Truth says; Enter ye in at the strait gate. [Matt. 7, 13] But what is broader than not to struggle against any of our wills, and to spread one’s self forth without restraint, wherever the impulse of choice may have led? They, therefore, who through confidence in their holiness follow themselves, and put aside the opinion of their betters, proceed as it were along the broad streets [‘plateas.’]. But they are not known in the streets, because they had made their life appear different, when by crushing their own wills they used to keep themselves in the narrow path. And it is well added; Their skin cleaved to their bones. What is expressed by ‘bone,’ but the hardness of strength; what by ‘skin,’ but the softness of infirmity? Their skin is said, therefore, to cleave to their bones, because through their depraved judgment the infirmity of vice is considered by them the hardness of virtue. For their doings are weak, but from being deceived by the confidence of pride, they connect them with notions of strength, and because they think highly of themselves, they scorn to be reformed of their wickedness. Whence it is also rightly added; It hath grown dry, and is become as a stick. For their fault is rendered the less perceptible, the more it is considered by them to be even deserving of praise. And He rightly declares that it is ‘dry,’ because it never grows green by self-reflection. That then which by Jeremiah is called ‘skin’ by reason of its weakness, is called ‘cartilage’ by blessed Job by reason of its frailness; and that which there is termed ‘bones’ from its hardness, is here said to be ‘plates of iron.’ But let us hear of what nature, and what origin [‘conditionis’] is this Behemoth, who by his members exerts himself against the Elect of God with such skill in iniquity at the last time, and who also in his own person displays himself with such great craftiness of stratagems. For he would not be able to work such wonders even in working wickedness, if he did not exist from some mighty origin. Whence also the Lord, as if accounting for such great cunning, and such mighty strength, added with great consideration, saying,

Ver. 14. He is the chief of the ways of God. [E.V. 19]




47. As if He were plainly saying, He has strength sufficient for so many purposes, because in the nature of things the Creator made him first, when creating him in his substance. For what do we understand by the ‘ways’ of God, but His doings? Of which He says by the Prophet; For My ways are not as your ways. [Is. 55, 8] And Behemoth is said to be the chief of the ways of God, because doubtless when He was performing all the work of creation, He created him first, whom He made more eminent than the other Angels. The Prophet is looking at the eminence of this superiority [‘primatus.’], when he says, The cedars in the paradise of God were not higher, the fir trees equalled not his summit, the plane trees were not equal to his branches, nor any tree in the paradise of God was like him and his beauty, since He made him beautiful with his many and thick branches. [Ez. 31, 8. 9.] For who can be understood by cedars, fir trees, and planes, unless those bands of heavenly virtues of lofty height, planted in the verdure of eternal joy? But these, though created lofty, were yet neither preferred nor equalled to him. And he is said to have been made beautiful with his many and thick branches, because when set above the other legions, a comeliness, as great as the subject multitude of Angels which adorned him, rendered him the more beautiful. This tree in the paradise of God had, as it were, as many crowded branches, as were the legions of heavenly spirits, it beheld placed beneath it. And therefore, when sinning, he was condemned without pardon, because he had been created great beyond comparison. Hence it is again said to him by the same Prophet, Thou wast a seal of the likeness of God, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty in the delights of the paradise of God. [Ez. 28, 12. 13.] For having many things to say of his greatness, he comprehended all in the first word. For what good had he not, if he was the seal of the similitude of God? For from the seal of a ring such a likeness is impressed in image, as exists in essence in the seal itself. And though man was created after the likeness of God, yet as if ascribing something greater to an Angel, he says not that he was made after the likeness of God, but that he was the very seal of the likeness of God; in order that, as he is more subtle in nature, the likeness of God may be believed to have been more fully impressed on him.


48. Hence it is that the same Prophet, still speaking of the power of his superiority, subjoins; Every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, and topaz, and jasper, the chrysolite, the onyx, and the beryl, the sapphire, the carbuncle, and the emerald. [Ez. 28, 13] He mentioned nine kinds of stones, doubtless because there are nine; orders of angels. For when in the very words of Scripture, Angels, Archangels, Thrones, Dominations, Virtues, Princedoms, Powers, Cherubim, and Seraphim, are plainly spoken of and mentioned, it is shewn how great are the distinctions of the citizens of heaven. And yet this Behemoth is described as being covered by them, because he had those as a vesture for his adornment, by comparison with whom he was more brilliant, when he transcended their brightness. Of whose description he further adds in that passage, Gold the work of thy beauty, and thy holes [read ‘foramina.’] were prepared in the day that thou wast created. [Ez. 28, 13] Gold existed as the work of his beauty, because he shone forth with the brightness of the wisdom, which he received when created aright. But holes are made in stones in order that when bound together by gold, they may be united in the composition of an ornament, and that they may not be separated from each other, which the gold binds together by being poured between and filling the holes. The holes of this stone were prepared then in the day of its creation, because, namely, he was created capable of love. And had he wished to be filled therewith, he would have been able to cling firm to the Angels who stand, as to stones placed in the ornament of a king. For had he given himself up to be penetrated by the gold of charity, when associated with the holy Angels, he would still be remaining, as we said, a stone firmly fixed in the ornament of a king. This stone then had holes, but, through the sin of pride, they were not filled with the gold of charity. For since they are fastened with gold, so as not to fall, he therefore fell, because, even though perforated with the hand of the artificer, he scorned to be bound with the bands of love. But now, the other stones, which had been perforated similarly with him, were bound together by charity mutually penetrating them, and obtained, on his fall, this, as a gift, that they should now be never loosened by falling from the ornament of the King. The same Prophet, still gazing on the loftiness of his superiority [‘principatus.’], subjoins, Thou, the outspread and covering Cherub in the holy mountain of God, hast walked perfect in the midst of the stones of fire. [Ez. 28, 14] For Cherub is interpreted, ‘Plenitude of knowledge,’ and he is therefore called a Cherub, because he is not doubted to have surpassed all in his knowledge. And he walked in perfection in the midst of the stones of fire, because he dwelt amid the hearts of Angels, which were kindled with the fire of love, bright with the glory of his creation. And he rightly speaks of him as outspread and covering. For we overshadow every thing which we protect when stretched out. And because he is believed to have overshadowed the brightness of the others, through comparison with his brightness, he is said to have been himself outspread and covering. For he who transcends the greatness of others by his great excellence, has covered them, as it were, by overshadowing. That then which is said in one place to be beautiful with branches, in another a seal of similitude, in another a Cherub, and in another covering, is in this place declared by the voice of the Lord to be this Behemoth, the chief of the ways of God.


49. But He mentions these wondrous things of him, in what he had, and in what he lost, expressly to shew to awestruck man, what, if guilty himself of pride, he is likely to suffer from the sin of his haughtiness; if He would not abstain from smiting him, whom He exalted at his creation to the glory of such great brightness. Let man then consider what he deserves for his pride on earth, if even an Angel, placed above other Angels, is cast down in heaven. Whence it is also well said by the Prophet, My sword is made drunk in heaven. [Is. 34, 5] As if He were plainly saying, Consider with what wrath I shall smite the haughty of the earth, if I have not forborne to smite for the sin of pride, those even, whom I have created next to Myself in heaven. Having heard then these many powers of the ancient enemy, having known the greatness of the state in which he was made; who would not fall down with unbounded fear, who would not sink under the blow of desperation? But because the display of our enemy’s power keeps down our pride, the Lord comforts our infirmity also by disclosing the dispensation of His grace. Hence when calling him ‘the chief of His ways,’ He immediately added;

He that made him, hath bended up his sword.




50. For the ‘sword’ of this Behemoth is his malice in doing hurt. But his sword is bended by Him, by Whom he was created naturally good. Because his malice is so restrained by Divine dispensation, as not to be permitted to strike the minds of men, as much as he wishes. Because, therefore, our enemy both has great power, and strikes a less blow, the kindness of our Creator restrains his sword, so that it is bent back, and lies hid in his own conscience, and that his malice does not extend itself further for the death of men, than it is righteously ordered from above. The great strength therefore which he has for many things, he possesses from the original [‘principio’] of his mighty creation; but so far as he is defeated by some, his sword is doubtless bent back by his Creator. For when this Behemoth, who is the chief of the ways of God, received permission to practise temptation against the holy man, he roused the nations, he took away the flocks, he cast down fire from heaven, he agitated the air and roused the winds, he shook and overthrew the house, he killed his sons, when feasting together, [Job 1, 19] he employed the mind of the wife in the craft of evil persuasion, he pierced the flesh of the husband with the wounds he inflicted. [ib. 2, 9. 10.] But his sword is bent back by his Creator, when it is said, Save his life. [ib. 6.] And how great is his weakness, when his sword has been bent back, is described by the witness of the Evangelist, that he was not able to continue in the man he had possessed, and again that he presumed not, unbidden, to assail the brute animals, saying, If Thou cast us out, send us into the herd of swine. [Matt. 8, 31] For it is shewn how much his sword of malice is bent back, since he would not be able to assail even the herd of swine, unless the supreme Power gave him permission. When then can he venture of his own accord to injure men who are made after the likeness of God, of whom is it doubtless quite plain, that he cannot presume to touch the swine, without permission? [‘non jussus.’]


51. We must observe also, that when Behemoth is called the chief [‘principium’] of the ways of God, the insane doctrine of Arius is overthrown by plain reason. For he confesses that the Son of God is a creature, and behold Behemoth is set forth as the first created in the creation of things. It remains therefore for Arius either to assert that the Son is not made, or to believe in his folly that he was created after Behemoth. But since every thing which is folded [‘applicatur.’] is turned back on itself, Behemoth is rightly said to be a sword bent back. For his malice is steeped in itself, when, on being forbidden, it does not exert itself according to its wish, against the life of the Elect. But it is permitted to strike many, as their merits deserve, in order that when they forsake God they may serve His cursed enemy. But he is defeated the more powerfully by the Elect, the more they bow themselves with greater humility before the sole Author of all things. Since therefore from being called the chief of the ways of God, from being proved to be very insupportable, when the Lord permits it, we know plainly with how strong an enemy we are fighting; it remains therefore for each of us, to subject himself more entirely to his Maker, the more truly he considers the mighty power of his adversary against him. For what are we but dust? But what is he, but one of the heavenly spirits, and what is still greater, their chief? What then can he venture on his own strength, when he contends, though dust, against the chief of angels? But because the Creator of heavenly spirits has assumed an earthly body, lowly dust now rightly overcomes the haughty angel. For by adhering to True Strength he gains powers, which the apostate spirit lost by following himself. And it is meet for him, who believed that he was strong, when he had forsaken his Creator, to be conquered by dust, in order that he may learn on defeat, that he has failed through pride. But he pants with furious rage, because when sufferings torture him below, man ascends to the highest happiness; because flesh is exalted to, and abides in, that loftiness, from which he, that great spirit, lies cast forth for ever. But their relative deserts changed the positions of their minds. Thus, thus did pride deserve to be cast down, thus humility to be exalted, so as that a heavenly spirit might endure hell, by exalting himself, and earth, through humility, reign for ever above the heavens.