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A Commentary On The Psalms From Primitive and Mediæval Writers Volumes 1 To 4 by Rev. J.M. Neale D.D.

Gregorian. The LORD * even the most mighty GOD, hath spoken.

Parisian. I will not sit among the ungodly * I will wash my hands among the innocent, O LORD.

Monastic. The same.

1 The LORD, even the most mighty GOD, hath spoken: and called the world, from the rising up of the sun, unto the going down thereof.

Here, in the first place,* we have once more a marvellous witness to the mystery of the HOLY TRINITY. The Lord: there we have the incommunicable Name: even the most mighty God: there we have the operation of the HOLY GHOST in the human race; hath spoken: but how? And we have the answer in the second clause: From the rising of the sun. That is,* in those thirty-three years, at the commencement of which the true Sun arose, take it as you will, in Nazareth or in Bethlchem. Unto the going down thereof: that going down on Mount Calvary, after that the created sun had been darkened from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. Hath called the world: as Adam so magnificently says:

Lux jucunda, lux insignis,

Quâ de throno missus ignis

In Christi discipulos,

Corda replet, linguas ditat,

Ad concordes nos invitat

Linguæ cordis modulos.

Called the world. Or as it is in the Vulgate, earth. The Prophet Jeremiah will tell us how. “O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.”* When GOD calls man whom He has made, man whom He has redeemed, man whom He has regenerated. And if you ask in what order the earth is called, another Psalm sets it forth: “The LORD’S Name is praised from the rising up of the sun unto the going down of the same:”* that is, (Ay.) that the faith first preached in the East, thence spread to the West:1 only a repetition of what the present verse tells us.

2 Out of Sion hath GOD appeared: in perfect beauty.

And as they say most truly, (L.) here is one of the glorious contradictions in which Holy Scripture delights. Of one and the same Man it is written: “He hath no form nor comeliness,* and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him:” and also out of Sion He hath appeared in perfect beauty. The Prophet is not now speaking of His appearance from Jerusalem:

Where in the land of beauty

All things of beauty meet,

as Bernard says; no; nor yet of His glory on Mount Tabor, the earnest and foretaste of that imperishable light and incorruptible beauty. This perfect beauty was made manifest in the Pavement, in the Via Dolorosa, on the Cross; just as another Prophet tells us: “Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the LORD of Hosts shall reign in Mount Sion” (notice the parallel expression,) “and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.”* Hugh of S. Victor will have it that the perfect beauty is spoken of our LORD’S sinless humanity.

3 Our GOD shall come, and shall not keep silence: there shall go before him a consuming fire, and a mighty tempest shall be stirred up round about him.

Or, as it is in the Vulgate, Our God shall manifestly come. And in this sense the present verse is beautifully selected for the Psalmellus of the First Sunday in Advent in the Ambrosian Office Book. This Coming of our LORD,—is it to be taken of His First or Second Advent? And the Fathers are almost equally divided. S. Irenæus takes it to refer to both. S. Chrysostom understands it of the Second Advent,* and in favour of that interpretation compares the two verses: There shall go before Him a consuming fire: and, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east,* and shineth even unto the west,* so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.”* So also S. Jerome, so S. Cyprian. On the contrary, S. Cyril of Alexandria and Nicetas understand it of the First. There shall go before Him a consuming fire. And notice that this is the first place in which the Last Day is spoken of as to be accompanied with fire. After this time indeed we hear of that fire again and again: “Their fire shall not be quenched;” “A fire devoureth before them, and behind them a flame burneth;”* “His throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire;”* “The LORD GOD called to contend by fire, and it devoured the great deep and it did eat up a part.”* So again: “The day shall declare it,* because it shall be revealed by fire;”* “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not GOD.”* “Do we fear? Be we changed and we shall not fear. Let chaff fear the fire: what has it to do with gold? What thou mayest do is now in thine own power: thou canst not say that, (A.) for want of being warned, sin has overcome thee against thy will.” But we may take it in another sense,* and that a dearer: and that is, of the fire of love. A consuming fire indeed: for we know how, through the strength of that love, all tortures have been despised, all contempt contemned, all death counted but as the porch to eternal life.

4 He shall call the heaven from above: and the earth, that he may judge his people.

He shall call. So undoubtedly it is in the Hebrew: sc also in the LXX., προσκαλέσεται. But by a very easy mistake of the original, we have in the Latin the perfect for the future: Advocavit instead of Advocabit. This is the reading of the best manuscripts; and S. Gregory the Great so quotes it five times; and especially S. Bruno so cites it. But the Ambrosian Psalter gives it rightly; though on the other hand S. Cyprian takes the perfect. Oh,* how happy for the Church, if controversies like these made the sum total of all her disagreements! Then mediæval writers take occasion to discuss the question why, the resurrection of the body having been promised, it should not take place at once, as our dear LORD’S did, but should be reserved for the Last Day. Their discussions on such an abstract question could not possibly be given in brief here; (Ay.) but the Carmelite compresses the difficulties and the replies to those difficulties into the smallest space.

5 Gather my saints together unto me: those that have made a covenant with me with sacrifice.

With sacrifice. And first of all we think of that great Sacrifice, offered, the One Victim for the whole world, on the Cross on Mount Calvary.

O quam felix, quam præclara,

Fuit hæc salutis ara

Rubens Agni sanguine;

Agni sine maculâ,

Qui mundavit sæcula

Ab antiquo crimine!

But not in a higher, but in a more prolonged sense than this, it is that of the most blessed Sacrament; the continuation and the transfiguration of that first Sacrifice, made in the upper room by our LORD Himself. S. Augustine is poor in a singular degree in his interpretation of this text; so poor, that not one of those who have followed him have thought it worth while to enter into his explanation. But there is a most glorious sense in which mediæval saints have taken these words. Gather My saints together. So they do. So, first, in the commemoration of those more glorious martyrs,* who—like him on whose festival these words are written—endured tortures almost beyond the imagination of man to conceive: but all saints in that most Divine festival, which unites together from one end of the world to the other, all the most illustrious servants of our LORD; those that have made a covenant with Me, first in the Blood of the Lamb, and who have then renewed that covenant, and, so to speak, graven it more deeply by their own blood. There are few passages to be found in any modern divines which, to my mind, speak with a truer eloquence than the following passage of the great Portuguese theologian, Vieyra: “It is not because, in that most dreadful day, the sun and the moon shall be darkened,* and the stars shall not give their light; it is not because upon the earth there shall be perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; it is not because men’s hearts shall fail them for fear, and for looking for the things that shall be coming upon the earth: all this is little. All this is little? All this is absolutely nothing. This is it which makes that day so full of terror to the best (best, that is, so far as in this corrupt state of the world we call best), so utterly full of entire despair to such as have permitted things to run their own course,—have not in that deluge stretched forth their hands to escape from the general flood,—have not in that fire, at the cost of any limb, and that limb given up with whatever amount of pain, delivered themselves from the general conflagration. But so it is: so men will do: so, for a miserable and momentary pleasure here, they will run the risk—the risk? they will incur the certainty—of such a punishment hereafter. The body? yes: and for gluttony, or, as in other countries it may be said, for drunkenness;1 and what, whether in the new world or the old world, is, I more than fear, an equal temptation—impurity. These are indeed the great affliction; these are the waves of the sea, that terrible sea of damnation, roaring; these ought to be the cause of (and oh, would to GOD they were!) men’s hearts failing them for fear.”

6 And the heaven shall declare his righteousness: for GOD is Judge himself.

And first of all we look to the nineteenth Psalm, where we find who these heavens are. They did indeed declare His righteousness when they stood forth at the day of Pentecost “to declare His righteousness; to declare,* I say, as at this time, His righteousness”—how He should “be just, and yet the Justifier of them that believe in JESUS.” They did declare His righteousness when, east, west, and south, and by-and-by, north, they went out, more clearly preaching Him Who, by the prophets of old, was afore spoken of as ‘the LORD our righteousness.’ And, just as these earthly heavens are not always equally clear to an earthly eye, but sometimes overshadowed with vapours, sometimes glorious, in the pure brightness of a summer’s morn, so sometimes more clearly, as in those downright discourses of S. Peter at Jerusalem; sometimes more inductively,* as when, in the bright starlight, S. Paul stood forth in the midst of Mars’ Hill. S. Thomas, in a sermon on Advent, discusses the question, why He, Who condescends here to be a party in the trial,* should declare that He, in that very trial being Judge, should therefore give the world occasion to admire His righteousness. And the magnificent passage in which he speaks of justice in the abstract, one of the most glorious dissertations of mediæval times, should certainly have been quoted here, did space allow.

7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak: I myself will testify against thee, O Israel; for I am GOD, even thy GOD.

I will speak: or rather,* I will speak out: putting one in mind of that saying of S. Paul’s, “About the time of forty years suffered He their manners in the wilderness.”* After that indeed He spoke out; after that He spoke out in that threat, which the Western Church repeats daily (save on those two days when the superabundance of the love that flows from Calvary forbids even the repetition of any threat), “Unto whom I sware in My wrath, (L.) if they shall enter into My rest.” Will testify against thee: rather, will bring thee forward as a witness. Our version, with the Roman,* reads for: the LXX. and the Vulgate, more literally, I am God, even thy God; that is, this proposition it is that Israel is to bear witness to. Mediæval and primitive writers have here seen a reference to the I AM THAT I AM of the bush; but mistakenly, however beautifully. Even thy God. Oh happy warrior,* who thus can appropriate infinite strength! Oh safe penitent, who thus is received by infinite purity! Thy God now, in the battle; thy God then, in the peace; thy God here, under types and shadows; thy God there, in the Beatific Vision!

8 I will not reprove thee because of thy sacrifices, or for thy burnt-offerings: because they were not alway before me.

9 I will take no bullock out of thine house: nor he-goat out of thy folds.

10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine: and so are the cattle upon a thousand hills.

11 I know all the fowls upon the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are in my sight.

12 If I be hungry, I will not tell thee: for the whole world is mine, and all that is therein.

13 Thinkest thou that I will eat bulls’ flesh: and drink the blood of goats?

Now we come to the glorious preparation for the Great Sacrifice; the truer and nobler Parasceue of the truer and nobler Passion. But not now proclaimed for the first time. Four hundred years before, on those mountains of Moab, had the question been asked by Balak, “Wherewithal shall I come before the LORD, or bow myself before the Most High GOD?” and answered by that unhappy prophet, who indeed “beheld Him, but not nigh.” Because they were not always before Me. The Vulgate, (Ay.) with the same sense, Thy burnt-offerings were always before Me. Not,* then, for this art thou to be blamed. But others will have the sense similar with that of Isaiah, “They are a trouble unto Me; I am weary to bear them.” But,* in a dear mystical sense, Thy whole burnt-offerings are ever in My sight. The whole body, and soul, and spirit, consumed with the burning fire of love; that is the precious sacrifice in His eyes, (A.) Who is Love Himself. And here they take occasion to argue the question, (L.) whether the Jewish Sacrifices were permitted, as the less evil, when compared with the danger of idolatry; or enjoined as a real, though less perfect, good. And, notwithstanding the names of S. Chrysostom and Hesychius, who affirm the former, the Angelic Doctor, followed by a multitude of later authorities,* unhesitatingly maintain the latter. I will take no bullock. Very remarkably it is in the Chaldaic, From the day of the destruction of the House of My Divinity, I have not received bullocks from thy hand: thus transporting us at once to the “full, perfect, and sufficient Sacrifice” then made, when the Temple of the LORD’S Body was destroyed. Bullock: he-goat. Mystically, the sins of pride or disobedience in the one, of impurity in the other; and then it is spoken to the Church. Such as these, however they boast themselves to be in My house, and to be occupied in My service, “Then will I profess unto you, I never knew you.” For all the beasts of the forest are Mine. And as S. Bernard says, “Take comfort, O man, when thou findest the beasts may, after a certain sort, call GOD their GOD. When thou hearest how GOD had care for cattle in that great threatened destruction of Nineveh,—when thou readest in the New Testament how not one sparrow falleth to the ground but your Heavenly FATHER careth for it,* take comfort for thyself. He Who said, ‘Ye are of more value than many sparrows,’—He Who appointed so many sacrifices, wherein innocent creatures bled for thy sake,—what of His care for thee, what of His providence over thee?” I know all the fowls. And now then we must take that higher sense: how those saints,* born, as fowls, of water, soaring, like fowls, above the earth,—thus soaring, also like fowls, only by virtue of the sign of the Cross,—how they are indeed known, so dearly known by that GOD Who, in a certain sense, knoweth all His works from the beginning of the world. And the wild beasts of the field are in My sight. Or, as it is in the Vulgate, in so very lovely a sense, The beauty of the field is Mine. No doubt the true meaning of the original is, And the stock of the field is Mine: thereby approximating much more closely to our own version. Nevertheless, we may be allowed for one moment to dwell on the mediæval interpretation. Those saints in their monasteries, whom we are apt to regard as utterly careless about physical beauty, here one and all show in words, what indeed the choice of situations for religious houses might also teach, how dear it was to them. S. Bernard, forbidding, as he did, the slightest ornamentation in his churches, forbidding towers, nevertheless taught his Cistercians to choose the loveliest situations for their houses. I wonder whether it were the romantic situation of his father’s castle—Fontaines-lèz-Dijon—that taught him the instinctive love of natural beauty, which found their places, for Clairvaux itself, for Rievaulx, in our own Yorkshire, for Batalha, in Portugal, and for hundreds of other situations, showing how that Order was determined to make good our verse here, The beauty of the field is Mine. The beauty, κατʼ ἐξοχὴν, for sublimity and savageness attracted other orders; as who that has looked upon Whitby, or the Grande Chartreuse,1 can ever forget? And no nobler illustration of the verse can be found than that most glorious of sequences, the Alleluiatic. Think,* again, how the beauty of the field forms no inconsiderable portion of the loveliness of the Song of songs. The roses of Sharon and the lily of the valleys; the flowers appearing on the earth; the time of the singing of birds come; the voice of the turtle heard in our land; the garden enclosed; the orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits; the fountain of gardens; the well of living waters and streams from Lebanon; the getting up early to the vineyards; the seeing that the vine flourish, and the tender grape appear. No marvel if the mediæval saints are lavish, as in their writings on our present verse, in their transferring the beauty of the field from this worn-out to the new earth.

Hiems horrens, æstas torrens, illic nunquam sæviunt;

Flos perpetuus rosarum ver agit perpetuum;

Candent lilia, rubescit crocus, sudat balsamum.

Virent prata, vernant sata, rivi mellis influunt;

Pigmentorum spirat odor, liquor et aromatum;

Pendent poma floridorum non lapsura nemorum.

If I be hungry, I will not tell thee. “Neither didst Thou,” as S. Bernard says, “neither didst Thou, O dear LORD JESUS, tell of Thine hunger either to man or to Satan: only Thou didst permit Thine angels, when the forty days’ fast was over, to minister unto Thee. But of Thy thirst Thou didst speak twice: once,* when Thou didst, by the side of Jacob’s well, ask the woman of Samaria to give Thee to drink; once, when Thou, Who hadst never uttered one complaint concerning the sufferings of the Cross, didst nevertheless say, ‘I thirst.’ In the one setting forth the Baptism which Thou shouldst ordain; in the other, the Absolution which Thou shouldst bequeath.” Tertullian—not that his authority is very great in such a matter—quotes as a saying of the LORD’S,* “The Eternal GOD shall neither hunger nor thirst.” The blood of goats. Hugh of S. Victor, in a series of verses which I have before quoted, thus mystically symbolizes the goat:

Lana, cibus, visus, sanguis, caro, cornua, fœtus,

Hostia, mons, vitis, dens, pes, vox, barba, libido,

Corda brevis, corium sotularibus usibus aptum,

Lacte caret, fœtet, emissus ruminat hircus.

14 Offer unto GOD thanksgiving: and pay thy vows unto the most Highest.

15 And call upon me in the time of trouble: so will I hear thee, and thou shalt praise me.

Offer unto God thanksgiving: or, as it is in the Vulgate, the Sacrifice of praise: and so the LXX. in the true sense of the Hebrew. Are we to take this of the One Oblation then accomplished for ever, of CHRIST on the Cross? Then we shall agree with S. Chrysostom. Shall we rather interpret it of the continuation of that Sacrifice of the Blessed Eucharist? Then we have on our side S. Zeno of Verona,* and the later commentators. But, (Ay.) in whatever way we explain the exhortation,* the second clause of the verse will retain the same emphasis on the thy. First, (D. C.) as one of the holiest of that great society advises, first, O sinner, plead the merits of those infinite sufferings; first,* lay before the FATHER (if I may so express myself) the wanderings in this world of the well-beloved SON—that SON, so acknowledged, first of all in His Baptism, which was the beginning; next, in His Transfiguration, which was the consummation of His earthly course—first offer unto GOD, to His FATHER and to thy FATHER, these vows, and then pay THY vows unto the Most Highest. Which vows can these of thine be, save those that are most like to His own oblation of Himself? Or, as another mediæval writer puts it: first His, (Ay.) then thine; and thine only secondly, because His firstly; and thine only with any degree of acceptation before the FATHER, because in Him that same FATHER was so entirely1 well pleased. And call upon Me in the time of trouble. And then what S. Bernard says is a saying for all ages: Had He said,* Call upon Me in the time of prosperity; had He exhorted thee, Invoke Me when all seems to go outwardly well with thee; had He said, When everything around thee rejoices and is glad, call upon Me; then I should have perceived how He, the LORD both of joy and sorrow, the King both of life and death, would have had the best of thy heart’s affections, or none at all. But here observe His great love: Call upon Me when thou hast none else to flee to,*—when all earthly helps have proved themselves miserable comforters indeed,—when every worldly idol has shown the true property of an idol, and has failed its worshippers in their greatest strait, Call upon Me in the time of trouble, so will I hear thee. And thou shalt praise Me. They seem, those primitive saints, to lay the stress on the word Me. So will I hear thee, and thou shalt praise ME. Me, that is, Who for thy sake was led out into the wilderness to be tempted; for thy sake did for so many years have My habitation among men; for thy sake did choose not them that were valiant-hearted, and therefore ready to follow Me whithersoever I might lead them, but rather did out of the weak make the strong, out of the contemptible the glorious, out of death raised up to perfect life. In the same way do thou call upon Me in the time of trouble: so will I hear thee, and thou shalt praise Me. And that help and that praise are well set forth in the hymn, late though it be:

Thy good name suffers from the tongue

Of slanderers and oppressors?

JESUS, as on the Cross He hung,

Was reckoned with transgressors!

More than the nails and than the spear

His sacred limbs assailing,

Judea’s children pierced His ear

With blasphemy and railing.

Fear’st thou the death that comes to all,

And knows no interceder?

O glorious struggle! thou wilt fall,

The soldier by the Leader!

CHRIST went with death to grapple first,

And vanquished him before thee;

His darts, then, let him do his worst,

Can win no triumphs o’er thee!

16 But unto the ungodly said GOD: Why dost thou preach my laws, and takest my covenant in thy mouth;

17 Whereas thou hatest to be reformed: and hast cast my words behind thee?

18 When thou sawest a thief, thou consentedst unto him: and hast been partaker with the adulterers.

19 Thou hast let thy mouth speak wickedness: and with thy tongue thou hast set forth deceit.

20 Thou satest, and spakest against thy brother: yea, and hast slandered thine own mother’s son.

And all the mediæval writers teach us, even from the Mosaic law concerning the leper, how the writer of this Psalm only put into words what those statutes expressed in fact. For so it is written: “The leper in whom the plague is, … he shall put a covering upon his upper lip.” As they all,* following Origen, say: let them who themselves are of polluted lips, take good heed not to teach others. Or, to take it in the opposite way, see how Isaiah would not speak to his people, because he was a man of polluted lips, and he dwelt among a people of polluted lips, till they had been touched with the living coal from the altar; and by that, as by a Sacrament of the Old Testament,* a sentence of Absolution had been pronounced upon them.1 And takest My covenant in thy mouth. And they see in it a warning against sacrilegious communions: the Holy Mysteries being not only our strength, and life here, but the covenant of our eternal heritage there. Whereas thou hatest to be reformed:1 or better, as the Vulgate has it, disciplined. It is worth while to reduce the ways in which, according to Holy Scripture, man rejects the salutary correction of which the Prophet speaks. Sometimes “they have refused to receive correction;”* sometimes “he that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul;”* sometimes man “despises the chastening of the LORD;” sometimes “faints when he is corrected of Him;”* sometimes, as here, hates discipline: and so in the Prophet Amos. “Tu vero odisti disciplinam, verberum et verborum,”* adds S. Bonaventura, with an ingenious play upon words. Thou consentedst unto him. There is a classical passage in S. Chrysostom on the guilt of sinning by proxy,* or even by will; the condemnation of such as, if they do not themselves, as S. Paul says, commit things worthy of death, at all events have “pleasure in them that do them:”* just as it is written in Hosea, “They make the king glad with their wickedness,* and the princes with their lies.” Manifestly from this verse of our present Psalm were the memorial lines partly framed concerning theft:

Jussio: consilium: consensus: palpo: receptus:

Participans: mutus: non obstans: non manifestans.

Mystically,* they consent to thieves who steal the words of Holy Scripture to, or accept them in, an heretical sense. And hast been partaker with the adulterers. The passage of S. Chrysostom,* in which he recommends the communicant to give information to the deacon,* if any one of impure life is presenting himself to receive the Holy Mysteries, is deeply valuable, as proving that the custom in his day was that which we now have in the English Church, of receiving the LORD’S Body in the hand. Then most marvellous is the concluding part of the clause,* as applied to the Jews. Thou hast let thy mouth speak wickedness, O Synagogue, when thou didst exclaim, “Say we not well that Thou hast a devil, and art mad?”—when thou didst clamour forth, “Not this man, but Barabbas”—when thou didst pour out thy taunts, “Let Him deliver Him, if He will have Him.” And with thy tongue thou hast set forth deceit. What else spake the two false witnesses, when they gave their testimony about the destruction of “His Temple?” what else, when thou dost teach, “Out of Galilee ariseth no Prophet?” And yet, all this while, thou satest and spakest against thy Brother. “Sitting down, they watched Him”—Him, the Elder Brother of the whole race of man—“there,” and so sitting they mocked Him with their “He saved others, Himself He cannot save. Let CHRIST, the King of Israel, descend now from the Cross, that we may see and believe.” Yea, and hast slandered thine own Mother’s Son. For He, O children of the Synagogue! was her Son as much as yourselves were; and a cruel stepmother indeed she proved herself to Him, in the day when she crowned Him, day though to our true Solomon it were of the joy, and day of the gladness of His heart!

21 These things hast thou done, and I held my tongue, and thou thoughtest wickedly, that I am even such a one as thyself: but I will reprove thee, and set before thee the things that thou hast done.

These things hast thou done, and I held My tongue. And here we see our LORD still before the judgment-seat, as a sheep before her shearers, dumb; answering not a word, insomuch that the governor marvels greatly. The LXX. and the Vulgate, and other early translations, make, and that most rightly, a pause after I held My tongue; as if the Prophet would tell us of the first stage in that procession to Calvary: when the WORD,* as S. Bernard says, refused to utter a single word before those whom He had made, and who, now judging Him, were hereafter by Him to be judged. Thou thoughtest wickedly that I am even such a one as thyself. But, says S. Thomas Aquinas, when we think, O LORD JESUS, that Thou art altogether such as ourselves, (sin only excepted,—sin only, O ye Nestorians, excepted,) are we therefore mistaken? Do we therefore do Thee wrong? Do we therefore comfort ourselves with false consolation? Of a verity, Thou art even such a one as myself; bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh: fed as an infant with the milk of that most spotless breast; hushed to rest with the lullaby of those most blessed lips; suffering when a child as I, working for Thy daily bread as I; and (had it not been so written I had never dared to say it,) increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with GOD and man. These things, O LORD, I think—that Thou art even such a one as myself; but do I think them wickedly? Then, how shouldest Thou be our Elder Brother? How shouldest Thou be the First-Begotten brought into the world? How should it have behoved Thee in all things to be made like Thy brethren, that Thou mightest be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to GOD, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people?

And set before thee the things that thou hast done: that is, they say, as in a mirror: “thou didst it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” The things that thou hast done,—one unrestrained glance of the eyes: the setting before the king his sin, that enormous iniquity of Absalom, on the same house-top, in the sight of all Israel. I dare not translate those words, words that, as it were, burn with fire,* of S. Chrysostom, when commenting on this text, he teaches how every hidden iniquity of this world will be dragged out into the full and terrible blaze of the next: and how more especially, as indeed that luxurious age more especially needed, he branded sins of impurity in language which our century is far too delicate-eared to hear, though certainly not too delicate-handed to act. And set before thee the things that thou hast done. Let us hear S. Thomas once more, for we shall not have much longer in which to hear him. “How are those things to be set before us? How? And who can tell? Are we to imagine that they will be proclaimed to all the assembled tribes of earth,—to the kindreds, tongues, peoples, and nations, that shall stand before the great white throne? Or, must we not rather realise this to ourselves, that that setting before us will be in one moment, brought to pass in the secret recesses of our own breasts? There so burnt in—if that, which GOD forbid, should nevertheless happen—that it can never be erased: then if in the moment of that terrible judgment we stand acquitted, yet nevertheless remembered for ever, as the most tremendous contest between mercy and judgment, the most terrible equipoise between life and death.” And,* as S. Damiani says: “Think, O my soul, what thou art, and what are thy powers, amidst which this tribunal is to be set,—such an accusation and such a defence to be heard, and such an acquittal or condemnation finally and for ever to be pronounced.”

22 O consider this, ye that forget GOD: lest I pluck you away, and there be none to deliver you.

O consider this. And it is most remarkable how all, both primitive and mediæval commentators, pass over the first clause of this verse; as if they would forget those who forget Him. My people hath forgotten Me days without number.* There is a difference in the various translations between Lest I pluck you away, (L.) and lest He pluck you away. And again, some, like Arnobius, and S. Augustine also, read, Lest He pluck you away like a lion. This is either a mere gloss, or else it has crept into the present verse from the seventh Psalm. And then in another and a dearer meaning: that I may pluck you away, and that there may be none to wrest you out of My hand. That is, in the sense: “My FATHER Which gave them Me is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My FATHER’S Hands.”* So S. Chrysostom and Euthymius take the passage. Notwithstanding—so they understand it—all your past sins; notwithstanding your many backslidings, though the remembrance of past mercy was on one side, and the fear of future judgment on the other. Consider this, ye that forget God, lest he, he, the great enemy of souls, pluck you away, and then there be none to deliver you;* when the Lamb once slain for you shall have become the terrible and avenging Lion.

23 Whoso offereth me thanks and praise, he honoureth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation right will I show the salvation of GOD.

The Vulgate and Septuagint take it in quite a different sense: The sacrifice of praise shall honour Him: and there is the way by which I will show him the salvation of God. (Or, as the LXX. has it, herein at variance with all our present texts, my salvation.) But whether one translation or the other, the offering of thanks and praise, the sacrifice of praise, can only in its highest sense mean the Great Oblation for quick and dead. And see in how lovely a way the following clause joins in: and there is the way where I will show him the salvation of God; how can it be taken otherwise than of the Viaticum? They point back with pride,*—those writers who have defended the verity of that Blessed Sacrament,—Turrianus more especially,1 to that Name in the firsta Œeumenical Council, in theb second of Aries, in thec third of Orleans, in thed fourth of Carthage, in thee first of Toledo, and as used by Paulinus in his life of S. Ambrose. Neither are there wanting those who take that way of the Incarnation: the marvellous way by which He,* the Virgin-born,* came down alone, to the end that, to that blessed place whence He came,* He might return with many:

Et cum multis illic seandit

Unde solus venerat.

And therefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, even the Most Mighty GOD, Who hath spoken; and to the SON, GOD the Word, Who shall not keep silence: and to the HOLY GHOST, with Whom His Saints have made a covenant by sacrifice;

As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

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