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NPNF1-08. St. Augustine: Exposition on the Book of Psalms
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Psalm LXV.25332533     Lat. LXIV. Sermon to the Commonalty.

1. The voice of holy prophecy must be confessed in the very title of this Psalm. It is inscribed, “Unto the end, a Psalm of David, a song of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, on account of the people of transmigration when they were beginning to go forth.” How it fared with our fathers25342534     [The student of the Ante-Nicene Fathers will remember similar references to the Hebrew faithful as our fathers.—C.] in the time of the transmigration to Babylon, is not known to all, but only to those that diligently study the Holy Scriptures, either by hearing or by reading. For the captive people Israel from the city of Jerusalem was led into slavery unto Babylon.25352535     2 Kings xxiv. 14. But holy Jeremiah prophesied, that after seventy years the people would return out of captivity, and would rebuild the very city Jerusalem, which they had mourned as having been overthrown by enemies. But at that time there were prophets in that captivity of the people dwelling in Babylon, among whom was also the prophet Ezekiel. But that people was waiting until there should be fulfilled the space of seventy years, according to the prophecy of Jeremiah.25362536     Jer. xxv. 11, xxix. 10. It came to pass, when the seventy years had been completed, the temple was restored which had been thrown down: and there returned from captivity a great part of that people. But whereas the Apostle saith, “these things in figure happened unto them, but they have been written for our sakes, upon whom the end of the world hath come:”25372537     1 Cor. x. 11. we also ought to know first our captivity, then our deliverance: we ought to know the Babylon wherein we are captives, and the Jerusalem for a return to which we are sighing. For these two cities, according to the letter, in reality are two cities. And the former Jerusalem indeed by the Jews is not now inhabited. For after the crucifixion of the Lord vengeance was taken upon them with a great scourge, and being rooted up from that place where, with impious licentiousness being infuriated, they had madly raged against their Physician, they have been dispersed throughout all nations, and that land hath been given to Christians: and there is fulfilled what the Lord had said to them, “Therefore the kingdom shall be taken away from you, and it shall be given to a nation doing justice.”25382538     Matt. xxi. 43. But when they saw great multitudes then following the Lord, preaching the kingdom of Heaven, and doing wonderful things, the rulers of that city said, “If we shall have let Him go, all men will go after Him, and there shall come the Romans, and shall take from us both place and nation.”25392539     John xi. 48. That they might not lose their place, they killed the Lord; and they lost it, even because they killed. Therefore that city, being one earthly, did bear the figure of a certain city everlasting in the Heavens: but when that which was signified began more evidently to be preached, the shadow, whereby it was being signified, was thrown down: for this reason in that place now the temple is no more, which had been constructed for the image of the future Body of the Lord. We have the light, the shadow hath passed away: nevertheless, still in a kind of captivity we are: “So long as we are,” he saith, “in the body, we are sojourning afar from the Lord.”25402540     2 Cor. v. 6.

2. And see ye the names of those two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem. Babylon is interpreted confusion, Jerusalem vision of peace. Observe now the city of confusion, in order that ye may perceive the vision of peace; that ye may endure that, sigh for this. Whereby can those two cities be distinguished? Can we anywise now separate them from each other? They are mingled, and from the very beginning of mankind mingled they run on unto the end of the world. Jerusalem received beginning through Abel, Babylon through Cain: for the buildings of the cities were afterwards erected. That Jerusalem in the land of the Jebusites was builded: for at first it used to be called Jebus,25412541     Josh. xviii. 28. from thence the nation of the Jebusites was expelled, when the people of God was delivered from Egypt, and led into the land of promise. But Babylon was builded in the most interior regions of Persia, which for a long time raised its head above the rest of nations. These two cities then at particular times were builded, so that there might be shown a figure of two cities begun of old, and to remain even unto the end in this world, but at the end to be severed. Whereby then can we now show them, that are mingled? At that time the Lord shall show, when some He shall set on the right hand, others on the left. Jerusalem on the right hand shall be, Babylon on the left.…Two loves make up these two cities: love of God maketh Jerusalem, love of the world maketh Babylon. Therefore let each one question himself as to what he loveth: and he shall find of which he is a citizen: and if he shall have found himself to be a citizen of Babylon, let him root out cupidity, implant charity: but if he shall have found himself a citizen of Jerusalem, let him endure captivity, hope for liberty.…Now therefore let us hear of, brethren, hear of, and sing of, and long for, that city whereof we are citizens. And what are the joys which are sung of to us? In what manner in ourselves is formed again the love of our city, which by long sojourning we had forgotten? But our Father hath sent from thence letters to us, God hath supplied to us the Scriptures, by which letters there should be wrought in us a longing for return: because by loving our sojourning, to enemies we had turned our face, and our back to our fatherland. What then is here sung?

3. “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion” (ver. 1). That fatherland is Sion: Jerusalem is the very same as Sion; and of this name the interpretation ye ought to know. As Jerusalem is interpreted vision of peace, so Sion Beholding,25422542     Speculati. that is, vision and contemplation. Some great inexplicable sight to us is promised: and this is God Himself that hath builded the city. Beauteous and graceful the city, how much more beauteous a Builder it hath! “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God,” he saith. But where? “In Sion:” in Babylon it is not meet. For when a man beginneth to be renewed, already with heart in Jerusalem he singeth, with the Apostle saying, “Our conversation is in the Heavens.” 25432543     Philip. iii. 20. For “in the flesh though walking,” he saith, “not after the flesh we war.”25442544     2 Cor. x. 3. Already in longing we are there, already hope into that land, as it were an anchor, we have sent before, lest in this sea being tossed we suffer shipwreck. In like manner therefore as of a ship which is at anchor, we rightly say that already she is come to land, for still she rolleth, but to land in a manner she hath been brought safe in the teeth of winds and in the teeth of storms; so against the temptations of this sojourning, our hope being grounded in that city Jerusalem causeth us not to be carried away upon rocks. He therefore that according to this hope singeth, in that city singeth: let him therefore say, “For Thee a hymn is meet, O God, in Sion.”…

4. “And to Thee shall there be paid a vow in Jerusalem.” Here we vow, and a good thing it is that there we should pay. But who are they that here do vow and pay not? They that persevere not even unto the end25452545     Matt. xxiv. 13. in that which they have vowed. Whence saith another Psalm, “Vow ye, and pay ye unto the Lord your God:”25462546     Ps. lxxvi. 11. and, “to Thee shall it be paid in Jerusalem.” For there shall we be whole, that is, entire in the resurrection of just men: there shall be paid our whole vow, not soul alone, but the very flesh also, no longer corruptible, because no longer in Babylon, but now a body heavenly and changed. What sort of change is promised? “For we all shall rise again,” saith the Apostle, “but we shall not25472547     “Not” is wanting in our text. all be changed.…Where is, O death, thy sting?”25482548     1 Cor. xv. 51, etc. For now while there begin in use the first-fruits of the mind, from whence is the longing for Jerusalem, many things of corruptible flesh do contend against us, which will not contend, when death shall have been swallowed up in victory. Peace shall conquer, and war shall be ended. But when peace shall conquer, that city shall conquer which is called the vision of peace. On the part of death therefore shall be no contention. Now with how great a death do we contend! For thence are carnal pleasures, which to us even unlawfully do suggest many things: to which we give no consent, but nevertheless in giving no consent we contend.…

5. “Hearken,” he saith, “to my prayer, unto Thee every flesh shall come” (ver. 2). And we have the Lord saying, that there was given to Him “power over every flesh.”25492549     John xvii. 2. That King therefore began even now to appear, when there was being said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.” “To Thee,” he saith, “every flesh shall come.” Wherefore to Him shall “every” flesh come? Because flesh He hath taken to Him. Whither shall there come every flesh? He took the first-fruits thereof out of the womb of the Virgin; and now that the first-fruits have been taken to Him, the rest shall follow, in order that the holocaust may be completed. Whence then “every flesh”? Every man. And whence every man? Have all been foretold, as going to believe in Christ? Have not many ungodly men been foretold, that shall be condemned also? Do not daily men not believing die in their own unbelief? After what manner therefore do we understand, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come”? By “every flesh” he hath signified, “flesh of every kind:” out of every kind of flesh they shall come to Thee. What is, out of every kind of flesh? Have there come poor men, and have there not come rich men? Have there come humble men, and not come lofty men? Have there come unlearned men, and not come learned men? Have there come men, and not come women? Have there come masters, and not come servants? Have there come old men, and not come young men; or have there come young men, and not come youths; or have there come youths, and not come boys; or have there come boys, and have there not been brought infants? In a word, have there come Jews 25502550     Oxf. mss. “have there not come Jews (for, etc.), or have there come Jews and not come Greeks,” etc. (for thence were the Apostles, thence many thousands of men at first betraying, afterwards believing25512551     Acts ii. 41. ), and have there not come Greeks; or have there come Greeks, and not come Romans; or have there come Romans, and not come Barbarians? And who could number all nations coming to Him, to whom hath been said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come”?

6. “The discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us, and our iniquities Thou shalt propitiate”25522552     Propitiaberis. One mss. here, and many below, propitiabis. (ver. 3).…Every man, in whatsoever place he is born, of that same land or region or city learneth the language, is habituated to the manners and life of that place. What should a boy do, born among Heathens, to avoid worshipping a stone, inasmuch as his parents have suggested that worship? from them the first words he hath heard, that error with his milk he hath sucked in; and because they that used to speak were elders, and the boy that was learning to speak was an infant, what could the little one do but follow the authority of elders, and deem that to be good which they recommended? Therefore nations that are converted to Christ afterwards, and taking to heart the impieties of their parents, and saying now what the prophet Jeremias himself said, “Truly a lie our fathers have worshipped, vanity which hath not profited them”25532553     Jer. xvi. 19. —when, I say, they now say this, they renounce the opinions and blasphemies of their unjust parents.…There have led us away men teaching evil things, citizens of Babylon they have made us, we have left the Creator, have adored the creature: have left Him by whom we were made, have adored that which we ourselves have made. For “the discourses of unjust men have prevailed over us:” but nevertheless they have not crushed us. Wherefore? “Our impieties Thou shalt propitiate,” is not said except to some priest offering somewhat, whereby impiety may be expiated and propitiated. For impiety is then said to be propitiated, when God is made propitious to the impiety. What is it for God to be made propitious to impiety? It is, His becoming forgiving, and giving pardon. But in order that God’s pardon may be obtained, propitiation is made through some sacrifice. There hath come forth therefore, sent from God the Lord, One our Priest; He took upon Him from us that which He might offer to the Lord; we are speaking of those same first-fruits of the flesh from the womb of the Virgin. This holocaust He offered to God. He stretched out His hands on the Cross, in order that He might say, “Let My prayer be directed as incense in Thy sight, and the lifting up of My hands an evening sacrifice.”25542554     Ps. cxli. 2. As ye know, the Lord about eventide hung on the Cross:25552555     Matt. xxvii. 46. and our impieties were propitiated; otherwise they had swallowed up: the discourses of unjust men had prevailed over us; there had led us astray preachers of Jupiter, and of Saturn, and of Mercury: “the discourses of ungodly men had prevailed over us.” But what wilt Thou do? “Our impieties Thou wilt propitiate.” Thou art the priest, Thou the victim; Thou the offerer, Thou the offering.25562556     Heb. ix. 7.

7. “Blessed is he whom Thou hast chosen, and hast taken to Thee” (ver. 4). Who is he that is chosen by Him and taken to Him? Was any one chosen25572557     Oxf. mss. “taken and chosen.” by our Saviour Jesus Christ, or was Himself after the flesh, because He is man, chosen and taken to Him?…Or hath not rather Christ Himself taken to Him some blessed one, and the same whom He hath taken to Him is not spoken of in the plural number but in the singular? For one man He hath taken to Him, because unity He hath taken to Him. Schisms He hath not taken to Him, heresies He hath not taken to Him: a multitude they have made of themselves, there is not one to be taken to Him. But they that abide in the bond of Christ and are the members of Him, make in a manner one man, of whom saith the Apostle, “Until we all arrive at the acknowledging of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the age of the fulness of Christ.”25582558     Eph. iv. 13. Therefore one man is taken to Him, to which the Head is Christ; because “the Head of the man is Christ.”25592559     1 Cor. xi. 3. The same is that blessed man that “hath not departed in the counsel of ungodly men,”25602560     Ps. i. 1. and the like things which there are spoken of: the same is He that is taken to Him. He is not without us, in His own members we are, under one Head we are governed, by one Spirit we all live, one fatherland we all long for.…And to us He will give what? “He shall inhabit,” he saith, “in Thy courts.” Jerusalem, that is, to which they sing that begin to go forth from Babylon: “He shall inhabit in Thy courts: we shall be filled with the good things of Thy House.” What are the good things of the House of God? Brethren, let us set before ourselves some rich house, with what numerous good things it is crowded, how abundantly it is furnished, how many vessels there are there of gold and also of silver; how great an establishment of servants, how many horses and animals, in a word, how much the house itself delights us with pictures, marble, ceilings, pillars, recesses, chambers:—all such things are indeed objects of desire, but still they are of the confusion of Babylon. Cut off all such longings, O citizen of Jerusalem, cut them off; if thou wilt return, let not captivity delight thee. But hast thou already begun to go forth? Do not look back, do not loiter on the road. Still there are not wanting foes to recommend thee captivity and sojourning: no longer let there prevail against thee the discourses of ungodly men. For the House of God long thou, and for the good things of that House long thou: but do not long for such things as thou art wont to long for either in thy house, or in the house of thy neighbour, or in the house of thy patron.…

8. “Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness” (ver. 5). These are the good things of that House. He hath not said, Thy holy Temple is marvellous in pillars, marvellous in marbles, marvellous in glided ceilings; but is “marvellous in righteousness.” Without thou hast eyes wherewith thou mayest see marbles, and gold: within is an eye wherewith may be seen the beauty of righteousness. If there is no beauty in righteousness, why is a righteous old man loved? What bringeth he in body that may please the eyes? Crooked limbs, brow wrinkled, head blanched with gray hairs, dotage everywhere full of plaints. But perchance because thine eyes this decrepit old man pleaseth not, thine ears he pleaseth: with what words? with what song? Even if perchance when a young man he sang well, all with age hath been lost. Doth perchance the sound of his words please thine ears, that can hardly articulate whole words for loss of teeth? Nevertheless, if righteous he is, if another man’s goods he coveteth not, if of his own that he possesseth he distributeth to the needy, if he giveth good advice, and soundly judgeth, if he believeth the entire faith, if for his belief in the faith he is ready to expend even those very shattered limbs, for many Martyrs are even old men; why do we love him? What good thing in him do we see with the eyes of the flesh? Not any. There is therefore a kind of beauty in righteousness, which we see with the eye of the heart, and we love, and we kindle with affection: how much men found to love in those same Martyrs, though beasts tare their limbs! Is it possible but that when blood was staining all parts, when with the teeth of monsters their bowels gushed out, the eyes had nothing but objects to shudder at? What was there to be loved, except that in that hideous spectacle of mangled limbs, entire was the beauty of righteousness? These are the good things of the House of God, with these prepare thyself to be satisfied.…“Blessed they which hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.”25612561     Matt. v. 6. “Thy holy Temple is marvellous in righteousness.” And that same temple, brethren, do not imagine to be aught but yourselves. Love ye righteousness, and ye are the Temple of God.

9. “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour” (ver. 5). He hath disclosed now Whom he nameth as God. The “Saviour” specially is the Lord Jesus Christ. It hath appeared now more openly of Whom he had said, “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.”25622562     Ps. lxv. 2. That One Man that is taken unto Him into the Temple of God, is both many and is One. In the person of One he hath said, “Hearken, O God, i.e., to my hunger:”25632563     Ps. lxv. 4. and because the same One of many is composed, now he saith, “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour.” Hear Him now more openly preached: “Hearken to us, O God, our Saviour, the Hope of all the ends of the earth and in the sea afar.” Behold wherefore hath been said “Unto Thee every flesh shall come.” From every quarter they come. “Hope of all the ends of the earth,” not hope of one corner, not hope of Judæa alone, not hope of Africa alone, not hope of Pannonia, not hope of East or of West: but “Hope of all the ends of the earth, and in the sea afar:” of the very ends of the earth. “And in the sea afar:” and because in the sea, therefore afar. For the sea by a figure is spoken of this world, with saltness bitter, with storms troubled; where men of perverse and depraved appetites have become like fishes devouring one another. Observe the evil sea, bitter sea, with waves violent, observe with what sort of men it is filled. Who desireth an inheritance except through the death of another? Who desireth gain except by the loss of another? By the fall of others how many men wish to be exalted? How many, in order that they may buy, desire for other men to sell their goods? How they mutually oppress, and how they that are able do devour! And when one fish hath devoured, the greater the less, itself also is devoured by some greater.…Because evil fishes that were taken within the nets they said they would not endure; they themselves have become more evil than they whom they said25642564     Al. “pretended.” they could not endure. For those nets did take fishes both good and evil. The Lord saith, “The kingdom of Heaven is like to a sein cast into the sea, which gathereth of every kind, which, when it had been filled, drawing out, and sitting on the shore, they gathered the good into vessels, but the evil they cast out: so it shall be,” He saith, “in the consummation of the world.”25652565     Matt. xiii. 47–49. He showeth what is the shore, He showeth what is the end of the sea. “The angels shall go forth, and shall sever the evil from the midst of the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Ha! ye citizens of Jerusalem that are within the nets, and are good fishes; endure the evil, the nets break ye not: together with them ye are in a sea, not together with them will ye be in the vessels. For “Hope” He is “of the ends of the earth,” Himself is Hope “also in the sea afar.” Afar, because also in the sea.

10. “Preparing mountains in His strength” (ver. 6). Not in their strength. For He hath prepared great preachers, and those same He hath called mountains; humble in themselves, exalted in Him. “Preparing mountains in His strength.” What saith one of those same mountains? “We ourselves in our own selves have had the answer of death, in order that in ourselves we should not trust, but in God that raiseth the dead.” 25662566     2 Cor. i. 9. He that in himself doth trust, and in Christ trusteth not, is not of those mountains which He hath prepared in His strength. “Preparing mountains in His strength: girded about in power.” “Power,” I understand: “girded about,” is what? They that put Christ in the midst, “girded about” they make Him, that is on all sides begirt. We all have Him in common, therefore in the midst He is: all we gird Him about that believe in Him: and because our faith is not of our strength, but of His power; therefore girded about He is in His power; not in our own strength.

11. “That troublest the bottom of the sea” (ver. 7). He hath done this: it is seen what He hath done. For He hath prepared mountains in His strength, hath sent them to preach: girded about He is by believers in power: and moved is the sea, moved is the world, and it beginneth to persecute His saints. “Girded about in power: that troublest the bottom of the sea.” He hath not said, that troublest the sea; but “the bottom of the sea.” The bottom of the sea is the heart of ungodly men. For just as from the bottom more thoroughly all things are stirred, and the bottom holdeth firm all things: so whatsoever hath gone forth: by tongue, by hands, by divers powers for the persecution of the Church, from the bottom hath gone forth. For if there were not the root of iniquity in the heart, all those things would not have gone forth against Christ. The bottom He troubled, perchance in order that the bottom He might also empty: for in the case of certain evil men He emptied the sea from the bottom, and made the sea a desert place. Another Psalm saith this, “That turneth sea into dry land.”25672567     Ps. lxvi. 6. All ungodly and heathen men that have believed were sea, have been made land; with salt waves at first barren, afterwards with the fruit of righteousness productive. “That troublest the bottom of the sea: the sound of its waves who shall endure?” “Who shall endure,” is what? What man shall endure the sound of the waves of the sea, the behests of the high powers of the world? But whence are they endured? Because He prepareth mountains in His strength. In that therefore which he hath said “who shall” endure he saith thus: We ourselves of our own selves should not be able to endure those persecutions, unless He gave strength.

12. “The nations shall be troubled” (ver. 8). At first they shall be troubled: but those mountains prepared in the strength of Christ, are they troubled? Troubled is the sea, against the mountains it dasheth: the sea breaketh, unshaken the mountains have remained. “The nations shall be troubled, and all men shall fear.” Behold now all men fear: they that before have been troubled do now all fear. The Christians feared not, and now the Christians are feared. All that did persecute do now fear. For He hath overcome that is girded about with power, to Him hath come every flesh in such sort, that the rest by their very minority do now fear. And all men shall fear, that inhabit the ends of the earth, because of Thy signs. For miracles the Apostles wrought, and thence all the ends of the earth have feared and have believed. “Outgoings in morning and in evening Thou shalt delight:” that is, Thou makest delightful. Already in this life what is there being promised to us? There are outgoings in morning, there are outgoings in the evening. By the morning he signifieth the prosperity of the world, by the evening he signifieth the trouble of the world.…At first when he was promising gain, it was morning to thee: but now evening draweth on, sad thou hast become. But He that hath given thee an outgoing in the morning, will give one also in the evening. In the same manner as thou hast contemned the morning of the world by the light of the Lord, so contemn the evening also by the sufferings of the Lord, in saying to thy soul, What more will this man do to me, than my Lord hath suffered for me? May I25682568     Oxf. mss. and old ed. “that I may.” hold fast justice, not consent to iniquity. Let him vent his rage on the flesh, the trap will be broken, and I will fly to my Lord, that saith to me, “Do not fear them that kill the body, but the soul are not able to kill.”25692569     Matt. x. 28. And for the body itself He hath given security, saying, “A hair of your head shall not perish.”25702570     Luke xxi. 18. Nobly here he hath set down, “Thou wilt delight outgoings in morning and in evening.” For if thou take not delight in the very outgoing, thou wilt not labour to go out thence. Thou runnest thy head into the promised gain, if thou art not delighted with the promise of the Saviour. And again thou yieldest to one tempting and terrifying, if thou find no delight in Him that suffered before thee, in order that He might make an outgoing for thee.

13. “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it” (ver. 9). Whence hast inebriated the earth? “Thy cup inebriating how glorious it is!”25712571     Ps. xxiii. 5. “Thou hast visited the earth, and hast inebriated it.” Thou hast sent Thy clouds, they have rained down the preaching of the truth, inebriated is the earth. “Thou hast multiplied to enrich it.” Whence? “The river of God is filled with water.” What is the river of God? The people of God. The first people was filled with water, wherewith the rest of the earth might be watered. Hear Him promising water: “If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink: he that believeth on Me, rivers of living water from his belly shall flow:”25722572     John vii. 37, 38. if rivers, one river also; for in respect of unity many are one. Many Churches and one Church, many faithful and one Bride of Christ: so many rivers and one river. Many Israelites believed, and were fulfilled with the Holy Spirit; from thence they were scattered abroad through the nations, they began to preach the truth, and from the river of God that was filled with water, was the whole earth watered. “Thou hast prepared food for them: because thus is Thy preparing.” Not because they have deserved of Thee, whom Thou hast forgiven sins: the merits of them were evil, but Thou for Thy mercy’s sake, “because thus is Thy preparing,” thus “Thou hast prepared food for them.”

14. “The furrows thereof inebriate Thou” (ver. 10). Let there be made therefore at first furrows to be inebriated: let the hardness of our breast be opened with the share of the word of God, “The furrows thereof inebriate Thou: multiply the generations thereof.” We see, they believe, and by them believing other men believe, and because of those others believe; and it is not sufficient for one man, that having become himself a believer, he should gain one. So is multiplied seed too: a few grains are scattered, and fields spring up. “In the drops thereof it shall rejoice, when it shall rise up.” That is, before it be perchance enlarged to the bulk of a river, “when it shall rise up, in its drops,” that is, in those meet for it, “it shall rejoice.” For upon those that are yet babes, and upon the weak, are dropped some portions of the sacraments, because they cannot receive the fulness of the truth. Hear in what manner he droppeth upon babes, while they are rising up, that is, in their recent rising having small capacities: the Apostle saith, “To you I could not speak as if to spiritual, but as if to carnal, as if to babes in Christ.”25732573     1 Cor. iii. 1. When he saith, “to babes in Christ,” he speaketh of them as already risen up, but not yet meet to receive that plenteous wisdom, whereof he saith, “Wisdom we speak among perfect men.”25742574     1 Cor. ii. 6. Let it rejoice in its drops, while it is rising up and is growing, when strengthened it shall receive wisdom also: in the same manner as an infant is fed with milk, and becometh fit for meat, and nevertheless at first out of that very meat for which it was not fit, for it milk is made.

15. “Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness” (ver. 11). Seed is now sowing, that which is sown is growing, there will be the harvest too. And now over the seed the enemy hath sown tares; and there have risen up evil ones among the good, false Christians, having like leaf, but not like fruit. For those are properly called tares,25752575     Zizania. which spring up in the manner of wheat, for instance darnel, for instance wild oats, and all such as have the first leaf the same. Therefore of the sowing of the tares thus saith the Lord: “There hath come an enemy, and hath sown over them tares;”25762576     Matt. xiii. 25. but what hath he done to the grain? The wheat is not choked by the tares, nay, through endurance of the tares the fruit of the wheat is increased. For the Lord Himself said to certain workmen desiring to root up the tares, “Suffer ye both to grow unto the harvest.”25772577     Matt. xiii. 30. …Conquer the devil, and thou wilt have a crown. “Thou shalt bless the crown of the year of Thy goodness.” Again he maketh reference to the goodness of God, lest any one boast of his own merits. “Thy plains shall be filled with abundance.”

16. “The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and the hills shall be encircled with exultation” (ver. 12). Plains, hills, ends of the desert, the same are also men. Plains, because of the equality: because of equality, I say, from thence just peoples have been called plains. Hills, because of lifting up: because God doth lift up in Himself those that humble themselves. Ends of the desert are all nations. Wherefore ends of the desert? Deserted they were, to them no Prophet had been sent: they were in like case as is a desert where no man passeth by. No word of God was sent to the nations: to the people Israel alone the Prophets preached. We came to the Lord;25782578     Ventum est ad Dominum; al. a Domino, “The Lord came.” the wheat believed among that same people of the Jews. For He said at that time to the disciples, “Ye say, far off is the harvest: look back, and see how white are the lands to harvest.” There hath been therefore a first harvest, there will be a second in the last age. The first harvest was of Jews, because there were sent to them Prophets proclaiming a coming Saviour. Therefore the Lord said to His disciples, “See how white are the lands to harvest:” 25792579     John iv. 35. the lands, to wit, of Judæa. “Other men,” He saith, “have laboured, and into their labours ye have entered.”25802580     John iv. 38. The Prophets laboured to sow, and ye with the sickle have entered into their labours. There hath been finished therefore the first harvest, and thence, with that very wheat which then was purged, hath been sown the round world; so that there ariseth an other harvest, which at the end is to be reaped. In the second harvest have been sown tares, now here there is labour. Just as in that first harvest the Prophets laboured until the Lord came: so in that second harvest the Apostles laboured, and all preachers of the truth labour, even until at the end the Lord send unto the harvest His Angels. Aforetime, I say, a desert there was, “but the ends of the desert shall grow fat.” Behold where the Prophets had given no sound, the Lord of the Prophets hath been received, “The ends of the desert shall grow fat, and with exultation the hills shall be encircled.”

17. “Clothed have been the rams of the sheep” (ver. 13): “with exultation” must be understood. For with what exultation the hills are encircled, with the same are clothed the rams of the sheep. Rams are the very same as hills. For hills they are because of more eminent grace; rams, because they are leaders of the flocks.…“They shall shout:” thence they shall abound with wheat, because they shall shout. What shall they shout? “For a hymn they shall say.” For one thing it is to shout against God, another thing to say a hymn; one thing to shout iniquities, another thing to shout the praises of God. If thou shout in blasphemy, thorns thou hast brought forth: if thou shoutest in a hymn, thou aboundest in wheat.


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