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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.

1. HAVING now, through GOD’s goodness, accomplished the fifth part of our task,* it seems time to dwell at greater length than hitherto we have done on the system itself on which this commentary is based. Utterly different as it is from the modern style of interpretation,—liable to the charges of fancifulness, unreality, and of making anything out of anything,—I wish now to show that, whatever be the faults of its execution, its principle, at least, is that on which the great commentators of primitive and mediæval ages wrote,* and which they would have recognised as their own. What that principle is, the reader has now had sufficient opportunity of judging; and while none can be more sensible than myself of the innumerable faults in detail for which the foregoing pages may be blamed, for the theory on which they have been composed I need—and I hope to show that I need—no excuse.

2. The mystical interpretation of Scripture,* as every one will allow, is the distinguishing mark of difference between ancient and modern commentators. To the former, it was the very life, marrow, essence of GOD’s Word,*—the kernel, of which the literal exposition was the shell,—the jewel, to which the outside and verbal signification formed the shrine: by the latter it has almost universally been held in equal contempt and abhorrence; it has been affirmed to be the art of involving everything in uncertainty; to take away all fixedness of meaning; to turn Scripture into a repository of human fancies; to be subversive of all exactitude, and fatal to all truth. Scott, the “commentator,” in writing on that passage in Ecclesiastes, of the poor man that delivered the city, and yet was not remembered,—a parable, if any ever were, full of beauty when applied to our LORD,—thus expresses himself: “I would gladly know by what authority any man,* overlooking these useful instructions, sets himself, by the help of a warm imagination, to discover Gospel mysteries in this passage? It would puzzle the most ingenious of these fanciful expositors to accommodate fairly the circumstances of the story to the work of redemption. Two purposes, indeed, such as they are, may be answered by such interpretation: (1.) Loose professors are encouraged in their vain confidence, by hearing that none of the redeemed are more mindful of, or thankful to, the SAVIOUR than themselves. (2.) It is a powerful engine in the hands of vainglorious men, by which to catch the attention and excite the admiration of injudicious multitudes, who ignorantly admire the sagacity of the man that finds deep mysteries, where their more sober pastors perceived nothing but noiseless practical instruction. I have heard many sensible and pious persons lament this sort of explication of Scripture as an evil of the first magnitude, and I am more and more convinced that it is so. At this rate, you may prove any doctrine from any text: everything is reduced to uncertainty, as if the Scripture had no determinate meaning, till one was arbitrarily imposed by the imagination of men.”

3. Proceeding in the same strain, the writer goes on to condemn the application of the parable of the Good Samaritan to our LORD: because, forsooth, its moral is contained in the words, “Go and do thou likewise;” as if this were not one cause of the Incarnation of the WORD, that we might follow the blessed steps of His most holy life! The rule laid down by the strictest interpreters of this sort appears to be this:* that in those histories of the Old Testament which are applied to our Blessed LORD in the New, we may see a type of Him, but in those only. Thus, of the brazen serpent, the Paschal Lamb, Jonah in the whale’s belly, He was undoubtedly the antitype; but Joseph, taken from prison and from judgment,—but Elijah, fasting forty days and forty nights, and translated into heaven,—but David, in his victory over Goliath,—but Samson, destroying the Philistines by his own death,—these are historical characters only, and cannot, without presumption, be invested with a typical signification.

4. Now it is clear that, to those who entertain similar sentiments,* the present work will present nothing but an aggregation of the wildest conceits, and the most worthless fancies. If Scripture has not an under-current of meaning, double, triple, quadruple, or even yet more manifold, I confess, not only that my work is a mere waste of labour, time, and paper, which would comparatively matter little, but it also follows that all primitive and mediæval commentators, from the first century till the Reformation, have more or less been deceiving the Church of GOD,—have been substituting their changing fancies for His immutable verities,—have adopted a system which is alike the offspring and the parent of error,—that their folios have been a hindrance to the cause of truth, and the labours of their lives an insult to the principles of genuine interpretation.* If any one can believe this, it will matter little what he thinks of the preceding and following pages. I only wish to prove that the mystical principles on which this commentary on the Psalms is written are the principles of the great commentators from the beginning; and if I can show that, I have shown enough.

5. It is well known that, from very early times,* a fourfold meaning was attached to the plain text of Scripture. It is expressed in the lines:

Litera scripta docet: quid credas, Allegoria:

Quid speres, Anagoge: quid agas, Tropologia.

And on this principle S. Gregory the Great composed his Morals on Job, keeping his skeins of meaning separate, and with marvellous skill pursuing each to the end. Durandus explains the various terms with great neatness: “In like manner, JERUSALEM is understood, historically, of that earthly city whither pilgrims journey; allegorically, of the Church Militant; tropologically, of every faithful soul; anagogically, of the Celestial Jerusalem, which is our Country.”

6. Let us,* in the first place, inquire from Scripture itself, what probability there is that the HOLY GHOST intended such a system of interpretation to be applied to His own Word: then let us see how the early Church felt on the subject: and then what are the advantages, and what are asserted to be the dangers, of the mystical sense.

7. Now it cannot be denied,* that to those who eschew the mystical or spiritual interpretation,—and whom we will in this dissertation call literalists,—a very large portion of Scripture can have nothing but an historical interest. The journeyings of the Israelites to their various encampments,—the genealogies of Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah,—the numbers of the tribes in the Pentateuch,—the prophecies against the nations whom it pleased GOD to destroy before Nebuchadnezzar, and many such like passages, are to them all but a dead letter. Nay, the same Scott whom I lately quoted ventures, without any apology, to call one such collection of passages by a term which, when we remember Whose is the lightest word of Holy Scripture, can scarcely be called less than profane. He names the genealogies of the first book of Chronicles by the appellation of Thorns! He is but consistent with himself; but what kind of theory must that be which leads to such a conclusion?

8. In the first place,* a diligent student of the Old Testament, supposing him absolutely unacquainted with the present controversy, would hardly fail to be struck with the frequent specification of minute and lengthened details, never of any great importance to the subject in hand, and to us absolutely without interest. Such, for instance, as the fact that, in the miraculous draught of fishes which occurred after our LORD’s Resurrection, one hundred and fifty-three great fish were taken; that the young man by whose means David and his troops were led to the surprisal of the Amalekites, laden with the spoil of Ziklag, was relieved from his faintness by eating a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins; that the exact number of children destroyed for profanity to Elisha was two and forty; that Elijah slept under a juniper-tree in the wilderness; the number of cattle which Jacob sent as a present, to soothe the anger of Esau, his brother; the particular fruit which the spies, sent out to see the land, brought with them, and the manner in which they carried it; and a hundred other examples of a similar kind. I say that, let a reader for the first time peruse the Bible,* aware that it is the revelation of the will of GOD to man,—aware that that revelation is contained in a very narrow space, where the room of every sentence, so to speak, is of inestimable value; then let him observe how large a portion of that priceless space is taken up in the narrative of details,—I say it with all reverence, in themselves trifling,—and would he not exclaim, “There must be something more in this than meets the eye: under these details must lurk a deeper sense than that which appears on the surface. As the schools of antiquity had an exoteric and an esoteric doctrine, so there must be a primary and secondary manner of explanation here?” I think he would.

9. But that which is only matter of probability,* were our supposed reader left to himself, becomes surely matter of certainty when he finds how the authors of the New Testament were in the habit of applying their quotations from the Old. Let us examine some of these: for inspired must be the basis and theory of uninspired interpretations of Scripture. I propose going through all the quotations from the Psalms before I conclude this dissertation, and will not therefore dwell on them here: at present I will refer to some more striking examples from other books.

10. First let it be remembered that the Apostles were of course used to the general style of scriptural interpretation prevalent among the Jews at the time when our LORD was on earth.* That interpretation was in the highest degree mystical; as the works of one celebrated author are sufficient to prove. Let anyone read the treatises of Philo Judæus, more especially those on the Six days’ creation of the world, on Clean Animals, on Circumcision, and on Those who brought sacrifices:* and he will see that the whole system of interpretation is thoroughly mystical, while he is perpetually reminded of the style of argument employed by S. Paul. Now does our LORD, while rebuking so perpetually the traditions of the Pharisees, ever hint, in the slightest degree, that their system of interpretation of Scripture was faulty? On the contrary, does He not sanction it in the most express terms? “The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all, therefore, that they bid you observe, that observe and do.” And, in arguing with the Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead, does He not employ an argument of a highly mystical character? Well, then; we know in what school of interpretation the Apostles were brought up: we know that it was recommended to them by our LORD, both by precept and practice: let us now see whether they followed it themselves.

11. In Deuteronomy 25:4, among a number of laws which apparently refer to the Jewish polity only,—the entail of estates,—the rule for gleaning, the prohibition of taking a necessary of life as a pledge,—nay, even a minute direction with regard to bird’s-nesting,—we find the following: “Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn.”* Surely, if ever there were a law which seemed confined to the literal interpretation, it is this. The GOD, we should have said, Who has taught that without Him not a sparrow falleth to the ground,—Who was pleased to forbid the custom, not really cruel, be it remembered, but only bearing a certain impression of cruelty and hard-heartedness, of boiling a kid in his mother’s milk,—Who not only commanded that when the eggs were taken, the parent bird should go free, but actually annexed the promise of long life to the observation of this command,—the GOD Who, among other reasons for sparing Nineveh, condescended to mention the “much cattle” that was in it,—that GOD, we should have said, was here pleased to express His care, which is over all His works, for oxen. But we turn to the Epistles of S. Paul, and there we find: “Let the elders that rule well he counted worthy of double honour; specially they who labour in the word and doctrine. FOR the Scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn.”

This, it would be replied, is merely an ingenious application of a sense not originally intended. Such a signification was not the primary intention of the HOLY GHOST; and the Apostle’s example is not to be followed by any uninspired writer.

Turn, then, to another passage, in which the Apostle is enforcing the same doctrine;* and how docs he write? “Saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses … Doth GOD take care for oxen? or saith He it not ALTOGETHER of our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this was written.” Can anything be stronger than this passage? In a law where the literal meaning seemed unusually plain and worthy of the mercy of GOD, we are told by the HOLY GHOST that He did not intend to teach us that meaning at all: that His design was ‘ALTOGETHER’ to enforce the mystical signification.1 I can conceive no more decisive proof than this. Had there been a mere allusion on the part of the Apostle, we might not, perhaps, have been justified in laying very much stress on his example. But when he says, in so many words, There is not an allusion; the mystical meaning was intended by the HOLY GHOST, and the literal meaning was NOT—what further can literalists reply?

12. When, then, we find the precept concerning the labouring ox so treated, why may we not—or rather, how can we be justified unless we do—see in the commandment which forbids the ox and the ass to plough together, an injunction not to be unequally yoked together with unbelievers; and that injunction, if not only, at least principally? in the rule for the distinction of clean and unclean beasts, the mystical characteristic of the righteous and unrighteous? in the precept against wearing a garment of mingled linen and wool, an injunction against trusting in anything but our LORD, the Lamb slain from the beginning of the world? And, in short, in every ceremonial precept, not the dead letter of the statute, but the new and better life of the mystical explanation? Nor is it as if the instance on which I have just been dwelling was the only example of a similar application of Scripture. More remarkable still is S. Paul’s allusion to Agar and Ishmael: “For this Agar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;* and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.” Now what I would especially point out in this passage is, that S. Paul does not refer to the old patriarchal history as an illustration, or instructive comparison, but simply and absolutely as a proof. “Do ye not hear the Law?” “Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?” He alleges this history in its mystical sense exactly as he elsewhere quotes the plainest and most literal passages in support of his arguments. No proof can be stronger than this. In putting forward an argument, you of course challenge your opponent to test its strength. Is it possible that the Apostle would thus have brought forward the history of Agar, had it been open to his adversaries to rejoin, “But that is only a mystical interpretation, and was not so intended by the HOLY GHOST?”

13. Nor is it S. Paul alone who thus quotes the Old Testament. Hosea, referring to the deliverance of the Jews from the tyranny of Pharaoh, says, in the person of GOD,* “When Israel was a child then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt.” Nothing can more distinctly refer to the children of Israel in the plain literal sense. How does S. Matthew understand it? Relating the flight of the Infant LORD into Egypt, he says that He, with His Blessed Mother and S. Joseph, “was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the Prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called My Son.” Now let none dare to say that S. Matthew refers, as a mere allusion, to this prophecy. Nothing can be more distinct: the reason our LORD went into Egypt was the completion of a prophecy which can only apply to Him mystically, ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθέν. And this further is to be noticed. Had any modern writer, without Scriptural authority, ventured even to allude to the passage in Hosea with reference to our LORD’s flight into Egypt, it would have been called an unwarrantable straining of Scripture. ‘Look,’ it would have been argued, ‘how the prophet continues: Then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt; as they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim.’ And whoever had thus quoted the passage would have been twitted, not only with a perversion of Scripture, but with irreverence to the SON of GOD.

14. Yet another instance from the same chapter. “He came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth,* that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.” Where is this written? “The child shall be a Nazarite to GOD even from his mother’s womb.” A marvellous example of mystical interpretation! The words are said of Samson; they are applied to CHRIST, and applied with a “that it might be fulfilled.” Further, they are said of Samson in one sense, namely, as of one who had the vow of a Nazarite or separatist upon him: and applied to CHRIST in another;—namely, as of a dweller in the city of Nazareth. Now had a mediæval writer thus applied the text, simply as an allusion, and without any pretence at finding in the Evangelical History the actual fulfilment of the prophecy in Judges, would he not have been condemned as guilty of an intolerably far-fetched suggestion?

15. Most certainly, then, the mystical system of interpretation is thoroughly Scriptural: and the only attempt at reply to this argument that can be made is as follows:* “Inspired writers,” it may be alleged, “may find allusions and discover types; or prophecies may have been revealed to them under Old Testament language: but for uninspired authors to discover such allusions or types is both presumptuous and dangerous.” But how unphilosophical is this! In one or two out of many hundreds of laws and many hundreds of instances, we are positively told that—not an allusion, but—a prophecy existed of better things to come. Can we suppose that these instances or prophecies were picked out from the rest because they differed from the rest? shall we say that they are held forth as contrasts to, rather than held up as types of, the general run of the Old Testament Scriptures? Surely, surely, they are specimens to encourage us in,* not exceptions to deter us from, the search for such mysteries. If certain appearances of nature, certain metalliferous veins, certain crystals of quartz tell the Californian miner that gold is beneath the soil, is his Australian brother to believe that GOD created the same appearance in that colony to deter him from investigation,* or to lure him on to researches which would be in vain? In two or three spots of the crust of Scripture, the Apostle has disclosed to us “much fine gold” beneath. In the thousand spots that closely resemble those two or three are we not to search for ourselves? and, searching, shall we not find?

16. Besides, the greater part of the literalists would not for a moment endure the restraint which they would put upon us. They say indeed, “The labouring ox is a prophecy—S. Paul tells us so; but nevertheless you shall not tell us that the ox and ass ploughing together yield a prophecy. We will believe that on nothing short of inspiration.” But how would they like to be told,* as Grotius would have told them; “Jonah is a type of our LORD: He said it, and it is so; but Isaac on Mount Moriah is none, the Scapegoat is none, David in the battle with Goliath is none: for He never said that they were.” Would not this be the height of folly? Yet wherein does it differ from the usual arguments of literalists, such, for instance, as Scott the Commentator?

17. How the Apostles interpreted Scripture we have seen.* How did their followers, the Isapostolic writers of the first century, whose works we have, expound it? Did they dig the mine deeper, or desert it as now exhausted? I need hardly answer that question. Let S. Barnabas reply, that dear companion of S. Paul, who must have been so thoroughly endued with his spirit and theory of the interpretation of Scripture.

18. Take, for example, such explanations as the following.* I will not stop to discuss the question whether the Epistle attributed to S. Barnabas be really his. For my own part I have no doubt of its authenticity; and with such authorities on my side as Dupin, Nourry, Gallandi, and in our own time Franke, I need not hesitate to express that opinion. Anyhow, those who place it latest allow it to have been composed previously to A.D. 120; and therefore certainly by an Isapostolic writer. “What kind of figure, says the author, “do you consider that to be when Israel is commanded that men of consummate wickedness should bring a heifer, and should sacrifice and burn it; and then that boys should take the ashes and cast them into vessels, and afterwards should bind scarlet wool with hyssop on a staff, and should thus sprinkle the people one by one, and purify them from their sins? See how the LORD speaks to us in a parable.* This heifer is JESUS; the wicked men who bring it are they who carried the LORD to slaughter. But now they are no longer wicked men, nor to be considered as sinners. But the boys are they who announce to us the remission of sins and purification of the heart, to whom the LORD hath given the power of preaching the Gospel, and who are twelve in number, in testimony of the twelve tribes of Israel. But why do three boys sprinkle? Namely, to set forth Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, because they were great before GOD. And why is wool bound on the wood? Because the LORD JESUS has His dominion on the wood, for which cause they that hope in Him shall live for ever. And why wool and hyssop together? Because in His Kingdom there will be evil and polluted days in which we shall be saved; in the same way as he who hath bodily sickness is cured from pollution by hyssop.” Now observe how freely the writer accepts this as an axiom, that every, the least, particular in the sacrifice of the Red Heifer must of necessity bear its own mystical interpretation. The further fetched it seems to be, the more it corroborates our argument. And the fact that several rites alluded to by S. Barnabas are not found in Holy Scripture, at least as we have it—whether he so found it written in the copies he used, or received them from Jewish tradition, affords still ampler testimony in our behalf. We will quote one or two more passages: since it is of importance to have the links which connect the mystical interpretation of the Apostles themselves with that of the Church in the third and fourth centuries.

19. One of the most remarkable is the following: “But why did Moses say, Ye shall not eat the swine, nor the eagle,* nor the hawk, nor the crow, nor any fish that hath not scales? He comprehends three dogmas in his sagacity. Now the LORD saith to them in Deuteronomy, Hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and the judgments which I teach you. Is it then the commandment of GOD that they should not eat? Yes; but Moses spoke spiritually. He mentions the swine for this reason: Thou shalt not be joined together to men of the same disposition as swine. For when they live in delights, they forget their LORD, but when they are in want they acknowledge their LORD. And thus the hog, when he eats, pays no attention to his lord: but when he is hungry he grunts; and when he gets something he becomes quiet again. ‘Thou shalt not eat,’ saith he, ‘the eagle, nor the hawk, nor the kite, nor the crow.’ That is, He commands us; Thou shalt not be like the men who know not how to procure for themselves food by their labour and their sweat, but snatch in their lawlessness that which pertains to another; and they lie in wait for those who walk in innocency.1 And these birds sit idle and seek how they may eat the flesh of other creatures, being pestiferous in their wickedness.… And thou shalt not eat the hyæna. Thou shalt not be, saith he, an adulterer nor a man of immoral life, nor shall be like such. Wherefore? Because this animal changes its sex yearly, and is sometimes male, sometimes female.… Moses, therefore, when he was speaking of clean and unclean beasts, spake these laws pertaining to spiritual matters: but the Jews, according to their carnal lusts, received them as if he was simply referring to bodily food.” And now notice how remarkably he brings in the Psalms. “David comprehended the spiritual sense of these three commands, and said in like manner: ‘Blessed is the man that hath not walked in the counsel of the ungodly,’ as those fishes walk in darkness in the depth of the sea: ‘nor stood in the way of sinners,’ like those who appear to fear the LORD and sin like the hog; ‘and hath not sat in the seat of the scornful;’ like those birds which sit and wait for rapine. There is the full explanation of the laws concerning meats.”

20. In like manner S. Barnabas finds the Cross and Baptism set forth in the Old Testament; as in Isaiah 33:16, 17, 18: when “His waters shall be sure,” is beautifully applied to the Sacrament of regeneration.* He sees in the first Psalm a similar sense: “Blessed are they who, when they have believed in the Cross, descend to the water. He shall be like a tree planted by the water side; as that tree strikes its roots downward into the river bed, so the catechumen goes down to the pool of Baptism.” The stretching forth of Moses’ hands on the Mount in the battle with Amalck is a figure of the Cross; to which also he applies that text: “All the day long have I stretched forth My hands to an unbelieving people.” In the three hundred and eighteen servants of Abraham he sees JESUS and the Cross: the Cross is the T which stands for 300; JESUS in the letter I for 10, and H for 8. In fact we have here not only symbolism, but symbolism of a very advanced character.

21. The case is the same with the other Apostolic fathers.* The Similitudes of Hermas are in their very nature, full of mysticism. The Epistles of S. Clement to the Corinthians, though not so mystical as that of S. Barnabas, nevertheless contain many examples of that style of interpretation. The same thing may be said of those of S. Ignatius; see especially his Epistle to the Ephesians, chapter 19. And that which is perhaps the very oldest uninspired Christian work, the Epistle to Diognetus, which some have attributed to Apollos, but which was certainly written while the Jewish Temple was standing, is of the same description. And so advancing a little further to the time of Minutius Felix and Commodianus, still we find the mystical principle growing and increasing; till in the fourth century it has acquired all the characteristics of a science. By that time the principal tropologies were fixed in that sense which they retained till the sixteenth century. The explanations, to which we shall presently allude more at length, of Sion, Jerusalem, the heavens, the clouds, the rivers, &c., had each its well-defined meaning. So had numbers: one, the unity of the Godhead; two, the two natures of our LORD; three, the ever-blessed Trinity; four, the four Evangelists, hence the preaching of the Gospel; five, on the one hand a full knowledge of Christian mysteries, (the doctrine of the Trinity + that of our LORD’s two natures;) on the other, the state of ordinary sinners who break half and observe half the law: (compare the five brethren of Dives:) six, the Passion, from our LORD’s being crucified on the sixth hour of the sixth day: also temptation, from the peculiar reference to that contained in the sixth day of the Creation; seven of the sevenfold graces of the HOLY GHOST, and later, of the seven sacraments; eight, of regeneration, as being the first number that oversteps seven, the symbol of the Old Creation; ten, the law; eleven, iniquity as transgressing the law. And not only were simple numbers thus explained—compound numbers yielded a composite sense. Twelve, was the faith preached throughout the world—the doctrine of the Three dispersed into four quarters. Forty, or eighty-eight, the struggle of the regenerate with the old nature, five into eight, or eleven into eight. Sixty-six, the extreme of wickedness; six in the sense of temptation, into eleven; (and compare this with the number of the beast in the Revelation, the quintessence of all temptation.) And even still more remarkably were numbers compounded: as in the 153 fishes which, in so many sermons, S. Augustine always explains in the same way, of the whole congregation of the elect. Seven stands for the Spirit, ten for the law: 17 is therefore the fulfilment of the law by the works of the Spirit: sum the progression, 1+2+3+4 … +16+17, and you get 153.

22. Starting then from Apostolic symbolism, and carrying on the system by an unbroken chain of writers, we arrive at the beginning of the fifth century, and in the person of the greatest doctor of the Church, to its very height—a height which would appear the extreme of extravagance to those who have not turned their thoughts to the subject. We must remember,* however, that although mystical interpretation developed itself all over the Church, its development was not in all her branches equal.

The genius of the West seemed to seize on it more eagerly than that of the East. Again, in the latter—the school of Antioch,* and its offshoot, the great College of Edessa, appear to have been most averse from it. And this is to be noticed, that a tendency to mysticism seems to have been most alive where the opposition to Arianism was the most vigorous. The Arianising and Nestorianising tendencies of Antioch are notorious: Alexandria was bitterly opposed to both, and the mystical tendency of Alexandria scarcely less than that of Roman writers.

23. And this leads to another argument, and that of considerable force. Mysticism must have gained a firm hold indeed on the mind of the Church before it could be employed in controversy. An opponent, pressed with a mystical argument, would, if he dared, scout mysticism itself.* Yet when the Catholics of the East brought forward their ἐξηρεύξατο ἡ καρδία μου ΛΟΓΟΝ ἀγαθόν, or those of the West their Eructavit cor meum VERBUM bonum, in defence of the Consubstantiality of the WORD of GOD, did the Arians ever speak of a misapplication, or call the allusion strained or far-fetched? Again, when S. Proclus, in his magnificent Lady-day sermon in the Great Church of Constantinople, vindicated the perpetual Virginity of S. Mary by the verse, “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall enter in by it, because the LORD, the GOD of Israel, hath entered in by it, therefore it shall be shut”—did Nestorius, then his auditor, and eager to detect the slightest error in his terrible opponent, object to such an explanation?

24. It is worth while to notice how our Blessed LORD Himself seems to invite us to discover mystical interpretations by the very structure of* His parables—I mean by the addition of little circumstances in no way having any necessary connection with the main doctrine to be enforced. Thus, for example, in the parable on prayer, why should the importunate neighbour request three loaves rather than any other number? And why should the excuse be, “My children are with me in bed?” Why did the good Samaritan take out two pence for the payment of the host? Why did the unjust steward diminish the account of oil from 100 to 50, that of wheat from 100 to 80? Why did the man invited to the Great Supper allege his purchase of five yoke of oxen in excuse? Why did the woman hide the leaven in three measures of meal? And in the events of our LORD’s life, which may be called His active parables, why are the details so remarkably given? Can we, imagine it by accident that on the same day, and on the same occasion, our LORD referred to the eighteen on whom the tower of Siloam fell, and healed the woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years?

25. Let us now take some of the references to CHRIST which to mediæval expositors were easy and trite—I had almost said commonplace,* and see how much interest they add to the usual interpretation of the Psalms. What wonderful beauty there is in, “Let the lifting up of my hands be an evening sacrifice,” when applied to that One Great Sacrifice which was offered up in the evening of the world—in the evening, too, of the Paschal day—by the stretching forth of His hands on the Cross! in, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD,” when we refer it to the morning of the first Easter-day, and the commission to the Apostles to make disciples of all nations: in, “I am a stranger upon earth,” when it alludes to Him Who came unto His own, and His own received Him not: in the double answer to the question “Who is the King of Glory?” the first, “The LORD mighty in battle,” because our LORD’s first ascension was so soon after His triumph over death and hell; the second, “The LORD of Hosts,” because His other ascension will be with the multitude of His redeemed when their warfare is accomplished!

26. Again,* in such a text as, “O think upon Thy servant as concerning Thy word, wherein Thou hast caused me to put my trust,” when we take it of that co-eternal Word, Who is, indeed, all the salvation and all the trust of His people! Or, when we so understand, “Now for the comfortless troubles’ sake of the needy, and because of the deep sighing of the poor,” as to refer to Him Who was so needy as to have no place where to lay His head, and of Whom it is written, “Neither found I any to comfort Me.” Indeed, it is remarkable how much emphasis we may almost always give by taking THE POOR as applying to our LORD. “For when He maketh inquisition for blood, He remembereth them,” to be compared, in this sense, with that saying of S. Paul’s, “The blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel:” “and forgetteth not the complaint of the Poor:” “FATHER, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Or again: “The Poor shall not always be forgotten.” Or again: “The Poor committeth himself unto Thee;” “FATHER, into Thy hands I commend My spirit.” Or, once more: “As for you, ye have made a mock at the counsel of the Poor;” that counsel ordained before the foundation of the world,

Multiformis proditoris

Ars ut artem falleret.

Again: “He hath not despised nor abhorred the low estate of the Poor.” Or, again, very remarkably, “All my bones shall say, LORD, Who is like unto Thee, Who deliverest the Poor from him that is too strong for him?” if we take it with reference to the prophecy, “A bone of Him shall not be broken;” to which, indeed, all mediæval writers refer that other text, “Great are the troubles of the Righteous, but the LORD delivereth Him out of all; He keepeth all His bones, so that not one of them is broken.”

27. In the same way the so constantly occurring phrase,* “The righteous,” may be applied with admirable beauty. To our LORD also we may refer such a text as, “While mine enemies are driven back: they shall fall and perish at Thy Presence:” understanding it of that speech of His, which when His enemies had heard, “they went backwards and fell to the ground.” Or that whole passage, “The sorrows of death compassed me.… the earth trembled and quaked:” to those sorrows which did indeed compass our LORD on the Cross, when “The earth did quake, and the rocks rent;” and when “He made darkness His secret place,” at the time when “there was darkness over all the earth, from the sixth hour till the ninth hour.” So also, “When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell;” of Judas’s fall into final perdition, after the first sacrilegious communion. Or, if we carry on the allusion in, “False witnesses did rise up; they laid to my charge things which I knew not,” to the next verses, “Nevertheless, when they were sick,”—the Salvasti mundum languidum of the Advent hymn,—“I put on sackcloth,” that is, the miseries and infirmities of human nature, “and humbled my soul with fasting,” as in the forty days in the wilderness. Or, to take a curious example of a double sense: “Blessed is the man that considereth the poor and needy: the LORD shall deliver him in the time of trouble,” which we may either understand of the blessedness of him who fixes his faith and hope on the King Who became poor and needy for our sakes,—or, of the blessing due to His name, Who, “considering” us, poor and needy as we were, was Himself delivered in the time of His greatest trouble,—was “preserved” and “kept alive,” that He might be “blessed,” not only, as before, in heaven, but also “upon earth.”

28. Passages like these show the folly of some attempts which have been lately made to print those words in the Psalms which are supposed to bear reference to any person of the blessed Trinity, with capital initials.* For it must entirely depend on the sense in which we take the Psalm for the time being, as to how those capitals are to be disposed; and, as in the example just quoted, we could not print both, “Blessed is the Man that considereth the poor and needy, the LORD shall deliver Him in the time of trouble;” and also, “Blessed is the man that considereth the Poor and Needy: the LORD shall deliver him in the time of trouble.”

Hence the reader will find that, in the text which accompanies my commentary, there are no such capitals whatever, not even where the sense would seem most fully to admit it. Thus, for example: if we were to print, “My GOD, My GOD, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” we should, as it were, cut off that text from applying to the people of CHRIST, as well as to CHRIST Himself. So, again, were we either to print, “O think upon Thy Servant as concerning Thy word,” or “O think upon Thy servant as concerning Thy Word,” we should, so to speak, obliterate the alternative sense. Hence the great wisdom of the ordinary typography both of the Bible and Prayer Book version.

29. But to resume our subject.* So a glorious prophecy of the Resurrection was seen in that verse, “As for me, I will sing of Thy power, and will praise Thy mercy betimes in the morning;”—that morning on which the stone was rolled away so early from the sepulchre. Again, of the Passion; in that, “Their device is only how to put Him out,”—out of the synagogue, out of the city, out of the world,—“Whom GOD will exalt”—“to be a Prince and a SAVIOUR, to give repentance and remission of sins:” and in that again, But, LORD, I make my prayer unto Thee in an acceptable time,”—the time of that Sacrifice accepted, once and for all, for the sins of the whole world. So again of the Resurrection: “Yet didst Thou turn and refresh Me; yea, and broughtest Me from the deep of the earth again:” and yet once more of the Passion, “He shall refrain the spirit of princes, and is wonderful among the kings of the earth,”—as when He stood in His majesty before Pilate and Herod, and answered not a word, “insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly.” So there is a remarkable coincidence between that verse, “Thy way is in the sea, and Thy paths in the great waters, and Thy footsteps are not known;” and the passage in S. John’s Gospel, where, after our LORD had crossed the sea of Tiberias, “they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for JESUS. And when they had found Him on the other side of the sea, they said unto Him, Rabbi, when camest Thou hither?” So again in, “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt,” those mediæval writers saw a type of the “True Vine,” the Son “called out of Egypt,” and applied the prophecy that followed to Him. Especially, according to their interpretation, is that verse noticeable, “She stretched out her branches unto the sea, and her boughs unto the river;” which, in common with that other passage, “His dominion shall be also from the one sea to the other, and from the flood unto the world’s end:” they referred to the Sea of Baptism at the one end of Christian Life, and to the Sea of Glass before the Throne, at the other. And not less strikingly did they see a prophecy of the prayer, “FATHER, glorify Thy Name,” in that, “O turn Thee then unto me, and have mercy upon me: give Thy strength unto Thy servant, and help the son of Thine handmaid. Show some token upon me for good, that they who hate me may see it, and be ashamed: because Thou, LORD, hast holpen me, and comforted me.”

30. Again, consider the following, as taken in reference to the Resurrection: “Up, LORD, why sleepest Thou? awake, and be not absent from us for ever:” or, “In the multitude of the sorrows that I had in my heart, Thy comforts have refreshed my soul;” compared with the Agony in the garden, when there appeared unto Him an angel from heaven, strengthening Him: or, “Man goeth forth to his work and to his labour until the evening;” in reference to the thirty-three years of our LORD’s work, and the evening in which He said, “I have glorified Thee upon earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do.” Consider, once more, the allusion to the Atonement in those passages, “So He said, He would have destroyed them, had not Moses His chosen stood before Him in the gap: to turn away His wrathful indignation, lest He should destroy them;” and, “They angered Him also at the waters of strife: so that He punished Moses for their sakes:” or, “At midnight will I rise to give thanks unto Thee,” with reference to that glorious midnight, when our LORD burst the bars of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of them: or, “The plowers plowed upon My back, and made long furrows,” to His scourging: or, “My soul fleeth unto the LORD, before the morning watch, I say, before the morning watch,” to His rising up a great while before day, on that night before He left the Apostles.

31. Another conventionalism, which, from the time of S. Augustine downwards, directed and influenced the whole mediæval course of Scriptural interpretation, was the appropriation of the name Jerusalem—the Vision of Peace—to the Church triumphant; that of Sion—Expectation—to the Church militant.* It will be found that this rule, with scarcely a single exception, holds good in the Psalms; and even in those instances which at first sight appear to deviate from the canon, a peculiar beauty is often afforded by following up the clue. Take, for example, some of the passages in which the rule clearly and unmistakeably holds good:—

Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Sion.” “Regiam suam potestatem,” says Ayguan, “primo ostendit in ecclesia tam ex Judæa quam ex Gentibus quæ per montem Sion intelligitur, secundum glossam.” “O praise the LORD, Which dwelleth in Sion.” “That I may show all Thy praises within the ports of the daughter of Sion.” “Who shall give salvation unto Israel out of Sion?” “Send thee help from the sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Sion,” a manifest antithesis of the glorified and the militant Church. “The hill of Sion is a fair place, and the joy of the whole earth.” “Walk about Sion, and go round about her.” “Out of Sion hath GOD appeared in perfect beauty.” “O that the salvation were given unto Israel out of Sion.” “For GOD will save Sion and build the cities of Judah,”—the latter clearly a prophecy of the many mansions built up in the true “Judah,” the everlasting habitation of “praise.” “To speak of all Thy works in the gates of the daughter of Sion.” “Think upon the tribe of Thine inheritance, and Mount Sion, wherein Thou hast dwelt.” “But chose the tribe of Judah, even the hill of Sion which He loved.” “Of Sion it shall be reported that He was born in her.” “Sion heard of it and rejoiced, and the daughters of Judah were glad, because of Thy judgments, O LORD.” “Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Sion.” “That they may declare the Name of the LORD in Sion, and His worship at Jerusalem, when the people are gathered together, and the kingdoms also, to serve the LORD:” His Name in the earthly Sion now; His worship in the heavenly Jerusalem, when the ransomed and elect “people” of the saints shall be gathered together after the “kingdoms” of this world shall have become the “kingdoms” of our LORD and of His CHRIST. “The LORD shall send the rod of thy power out of Sion; be thou ruler, even in the midst among thine enemies,” where the last clause distinctly shows the militant character of the Church. “When the LORD turned again the captivity of Sion.” “As many as have evil will at Sion.” “The LORD hath chosen Sion to be an habitation for Himself.” “Praised be the LORD out of Sion, Who dwelleth at Jerusalem.” “The LORD thy GOD, O Sion, shall be King for evermore.” “Let the children of Sion be joyful in their King.”

32. In all these passages it is very plain that the mediæval interpretation may hold,* and in many of them it must hold. To turn now to a second class of texts, where at first sight the meaning seems less clear. “O be favourable and gracious unto Sion;” and then, by a very beautiful sequence, “Build Thou the walls of Jerusalem;” because through GOD’s love and mercy to the Church here, those spiritual stones are prepared by which the walls of the eternal temple are to be built on high. And to the same purpose, and in the same sense, is that other text, “Stablish the thing, O GOD, that Thou hast wrought in us, for Thy temple’s sake at Jerusalem.” Again, what an emphasis there is in “Thou, O GOD, art praised in Sion, and unto Thee shall the vow be performed in Jerusalem!” “The saints,” says Ayguan, “praise GOD indeed in the Way, but shall perfectly praise Him in their Country, when they behold Him face to face. The first vow which we make to GOD in Baptism is to renounce the devil and all his works, and to keep GOD’s holy will and commandments. But this vow, through the infirmity of the flesh, we cannot fully observe in the present life, but we shall perfectly perform it in the heavenly Jerusalem.” In like manner of the completed vow: “I will pay my vows unto the LORD, in the sight of all His people,” of the great multitude that no man can number, “in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem.” “There is the seat of judgment, even the seat of the house of David: O pray for the peace of Jerusalem;” that is, seeing there is joy in the presence of the angels of GOD over one sinner that repenteth,* this joy, this “peace,” is to be earnestly sought for. So Ayguan, after S. Augustine. “They that put their trust in the LORD shall be even as the Mount Sion, which may not be removed, but standeth fast for ever. The hills stand about Jerusalem.” The names in our version would more naturally be reversed; but then we find in the Vulgate, “They that trust in the LORD shall be even as the Mount Sion; He shall never be moved that dwelleth in Jerusalem;” which is a plain example of the rule. “The LORD from out of Sion shall so bless thee, that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long.” Here, at first sight, it would seem that the names should be changed. But we may rather elicit this meaning: the LORD shall so give thee His grace while thou art still in the Church militant, that thou thyself, with thine own eyes, shalt see the prosperity of His heavenly kingdom all thy life long; and what is the “life long” of the soul, but eternity? “Videas,” says Ayguan, “bona cœlestis Hierusalem quæ sunt perpetua. Et quia resuscitatus semper vives, semper illa bona videbis.” The 137th Psalm occasions a difficulty. The earlier clauses, “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, yea, if I prefer not Jerusalem in my mirth,” plainly point to heaven. But then, how are we to explain what follows,—“Remember the children of Edom, O LORD, in the day of Jerusalem: how they said, Down with it?” And mediæval writers answer, that by the children of Edom the heathen and the unbelievers are set forth; and that these will indeed be remembered and brought into the fold, in the day of Jerusalem—the day when the Vision of Peace shall shine forth perfectly—and there shall be one fold and one shepherd: although, in attacking the earthly Church, they did, in point of fact, so far as in them lay, direct their malice against that heavenly communion—(Down with it)—with which the other forms but one family. Once more: “Praise the LORD, O Jerusalem; praise thy GOD, O Sion:” in the one, “He hath made fast the bars of thy gates,” namely, those gates through which nothing shall pass that defileth; in the other, a promise of a lower character, “He hath blessed thy children within thee.”

33. There remain only two passages, which cannot be, by any reasonable stretch of fancy, brought within the canon. They occur in one Psalm: “Thy holy temple have they defiled, and made Jerusalem an heap of stones: their blood have they shed like water on every side of Jerusalem.” Now it is known that, though this is called a Psalm of Asaph, yet there is a general tradition of the Church that it was composed in the time of the Maccabees. “It is said in the person of the Maccabees,” writes S. Athanasius. “Asaph relates,” says Bede, “the sufferings of the people of the Jews, during the time of Antiochus.” “A prophecy,” exclaims Eusebius, “of that which befell the Jews through Antiochus.” Is there any connection between the date of the Psalm and this fact?1

34. Let us now turn to the prophecy of Isaiah,* and examine the question, with the help of mediæval writers, there. The word Sion occurs in that book thirty-six times; Jerusalem, thirty-four.

Now Sion is not once used where it is not, to say the least, patient of the meaning we attach to it; and, when thus understood, it frequently brings out the sense with considerable sharpness and beauty. Take a few examples:

Isa. 1:27. Sion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

Isa. 10:24. O My people, that dwellest in Sion, be not afraid of the Assyrian.

Isa. 12:6. Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Sion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.

Isa. 14:32. What shall one then answer the messengers of the nation? That the LORD hath founded Sion, and the poor of His people shall trust in it.

Isa. 28:16. Behold, I lay in Sion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner-stone, a sure foundation:—(manifestly spoken of the Incarnation.)

Isa. 49:14. But Sion said, The LORD hath forsaken me, and my LORD hath forgotten me.

Isa. 51:3. For the LORD shall comfort Sion: He will comfort all her waste places, and He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD.

Isa. 59:20. And the Redeemer shall come to Sion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob.

35. But when we come to the meaning of Jerusalem, we shall find that the rule by no means holds good. Take, for example, such passages as these:

Isa. 3:8. For Jerusalem is ruined, and Judah is fallen.

Isa. 10:10. Whose graven images did excel them of Jerusalem and of Samaria.

Isa. 10:11. Shall I not, as I have done unto Samaria and her idols, so do to Jerusalem and her idols?

Isa. 28:14. Ye scornful men which rule this people which is in Jerusalem.

There are some other passages of the same kind. At the same time, by understanding Jerusalem of the heavenly city when the primâ facie sense of the text would seem against it, we shall sometimes elicit a very beautiful meaning. So, for example:

Isa. 5:3. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt Me and My vineyard;

where GOD calls, as it were, His heavenly as well as His earthly Church to be arbiters between Him and His people. Again:

Isa. 52:9. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted His people, He hath redeemed Jerusalem;

where we may well take the waste places to be the poor, distressed, and persecuted Church on earth, which, nevertheless, may be called “of Jerusalem,” indeed belonging to it.

Isa. 64:10. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Sion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation;

where the latter clause may be taken in the sense of that passage, “The angels of peace shall weep bitterly;” and as expressing the deep sympathy of those, who cannot sorrow for themselves, in the sorrows of their earthly brethren.

36. The passages in which Sion and Jerusalem stand together, in addition to that last quoted, are the following:

Isa. 2:3. Out of Sion shall go forth the law, and the Word of the LORD from Jerusalem;

a noble example in our favour. The law, that is the Mosaic law, went forth from Sion, the Jewish or earthly Church; the Word of the LORD, the Incarnate WORD, from Jerusalem, according to that saying, “I came forth from the FATHER, and am come into the world.”

Isa. 4:3. And it shall come to pass that he that is left in Sion, and he that remaineth in Jerusalem, shall be called holy, even every one that is written among the living in Jerusalem.

Here also they take the passage in its typical sense: Remaineth in Jerusalem, according to this interpretation, being equivalent to the promise, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of GOD, and he shall go no more out.” But by no stretch of ingenuity can the next verse be so applied: “When the LORD shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Sion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof.”

Isa. 10:12. When the LORD hath performed His whole work upon Mount Sion, and on Jerusalem.

Isa. 30:19. The people shall dwell in Sion at Jerusalem.

A very lovely text when interpreted by the usual law: even while members of the Church on earth, they shall see so much of the glory of GOD, and be so near to Him, as to be already almost inhabitants of the celestial city.

Isa. 31:4. Like as the lion and the young lion roaring, … so shall the LORD of Hosts come down, to fight for Mount Sion … as birds flying, so will the LORD of Hosts defend Jerusalem:

where the different kind of protection vouchsafed to the Church militant and the Church triumphant is admirably described.

37. This may suffice for one of the most remarkable rules laid down by mystical writers. In the same way, the distinction between Jacob and Israel will be found carefully observed. Jacob,* the supplanter, he that has a hard struggle to obtain his inheritance; Israel, “He that sees GOD,” the Church that enjoys the Beatific Vision.

Tunc Jacob Israel, et Lya tune Rahel officietur,

says Bernard of Cluny, when writing of the heavenly country. And if we examine the Book of Psalms, we shall again find how much light is thrown on many passages by this distinction. And even when at first sight the meaning would appear impossible, a little further attention will induce us to accept it. For example: “O that the salvation were given unto Israel out of Sion.… Then should Jacob rejoice, and Israel should be right glad.” The words would usually be explained, “O that GOD would send down His salvation,—that is, His blessing, which leads to salvation—on Israel, His Church on earth, from Sion, His own dwelling-place.” But it is not so. O that the salvation, that is, the number of those that shall be saved, were given to Israel, that is, were brought in to the Church above, as the tribute from Sion, the Church below! In other words, O that the number of the elect were complete,—and it may well follow, THEN shall Jacob rejoice, and Israel shall be right glad. So again: “The LORD hath chosen Jacob unto Himself, and Israel for His own possession;” where notice the force of the word own, as implying such a possession as can never be lost. Again: “He showeth His Word unto Jacob,” as indeed He did at the Incarnation; “His statutes and ordinances unto Israel;” that is, the full knowledge of His mysteries, the understanding of the depth of His dispensations, is reserved for the Church triumphant. Remarkably also it is written, “This is the generation of them that seek Him, even of them that seek Thy face, O Jacob;” where our LORD is addressed in His character as man, subject to the same temptations with ourselves. Compare that passage in Isaiah, “Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel;” the poor grovelling servant of GOD in this world, fitly likened to a crawling worm: they that have attained the measure of the stature of the fulness of CHRIST, no less fitly called men of Israel. Notice, again: “He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep:” “He shall redeem Israel from all his sins.” “The LORD doth build up Jerusalem, and gather together the outcasts of Israel,” that is, His servants on earth Who, though exiles from their home, and as yet outcasts, are nevertheless outcasts of Israel. But then we must carefully observe one point connected with this symbolism. When Israel stands in apposition with Jacob, the case is as I have said; but it may also stand in contrast with Judah, and then the meaning will often be found altered. And here we may notice a very remarkable truth. David and his contemporaries had no conception of the falling away of the ten tribes. To them, therefore, the word Israel could not by any possibility have presented the idea of backsliding. But with the later Psalm writers the case was different; and accordingly with them Israel will be more frequently found the type of a Church wherein sin yet exists. For example: “If the LORD Himself had not been on our side, now may Israel say.” So, again, in the 114th Psalm, which has almost always been considered the composition of a later period than that of David: “Judah was His sanctuary, and Israel His dominion.” The reader would find it an inquiry equally profitable and interesting, to work out this investigation for himself: my own limits will not allow me to dwell longer on the subject.

38. Again:* marvellous it is to discover what additional depth of meaning is given to almost every Psalm by taking “the Word” to mean the Incarnate WORD. “The LORD gave the Word; great was the company of the preachers;” for was it not when the Only-begotten SON was given to man that preaching commenced? Does not every pulpit depend on that first pulpit of Calvary? “The Word of the LORD also is tried in the fire:” how more truly can His sufferings be described? “Thy Word hath quickened Me:” “Whoso eateth My Flesh and drinketh My Blood, hath eternal life.” “He sent His Word, and healed them.” Compare it with that saying, “Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.” “His Word runneth very swiftly.” For, as S. Ambrose says,

From GOD the FATHER He proceeds—

To GOD the FATHER back He speeds;

Proceeds as far as very hell,

Speeds back—to light ineffable.

I am as glad of Thy Word as one that findeth great spoils;” take it of the Church, when, after four thousand years she could then say, “Unto us a Child is born.” The 119th Psalm, taken in this sense, is transfigured into a beauty which cannot exist for those who reject mysticism.

There is a treatise by the “Gallican Eagle,” Pierre d’Ailly, under the title of Verbum abbreviatum, in which he goes through the passages in which THE WORD is mentioned in the Psalms, and works out in each its highest meaning.

39. It will now be proper to enumerate those passages in the Psalter which have been quoted in the New Testament:* and no stronger argument can be adduced in favour of mysticism than that which is to be derived from many of these quotations. And we will first take those which are immediately and directly quoted by our LORD Himself.

Away from me,* all ye that work vanity.

S. Matt. 7:23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.

The words in the LXX. are precisely the same.

Out of the mouth of very babes and sucklings hast Thou ordained strength.*

S. Matt. 21:16. JESUS saith unto them, Yea: have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?

A literal quotation from the LXX.

My GOD,* my GOD, why hast Thou forsaken me?

See my commentary on this verse, and the tradition there mentioned, that our LORD beginning at Psalm 22., recited all the intermediate verses down to

Into Thy hands I commend my Spirit:*

when He resigned His most blessed soul into His FATHER’s hands.

Neither let them wink with their eyes that hate me without a cause.*

S. John 15:25. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.

Notice that this quotation not only authorises, but obliges, us to understand the whole of Psalm 35., “Plead Thou my cause,” &c., of our LORD Himself. But if we are so to take that Psalm, who can dare to blame us for a similar interpretation of the many Psalms which resemble it so closely?

Yea, even mine own familiar friend,* whom I trusted: who did also eat of my bread, hath laid great wait for me.

S. John 13:18. But that the Scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me.

The quotation is not literal: our LORD’s words are, ὁ τρώγων μετʼ ἐμοῦ τὸν ἄρτον, ἐπῇρεν ἐπʼ ἐμὲ τὴν πτέρναν αὑτοῦ: whereas in the LXX. it is, ἐμεγάλυνεν ἐπʼ ἐμὲ πτερνισμόν. In the Vulgate, magnificavit super me supplantationem.

I have said,* Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most Highest.

S. John 10:34. Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

The LORD said unto my LORD,* Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.

The basis of our LORD’s question to the multitudes:

S. Matt. 22:43; S. Mark 12:36; S. Luke 20:42: How say they that CHRIST is David’s Son? And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The LORD said unto my LORD, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. David therefore calleth Him LORD, how is He then his Son?

The same stone which the builders refused is become the head stone in the corner.* This is the LORD’s doing; and it is marvellous in our eyes.

S. Matt. 21:42; S. Mark 12:10. JESUS saith unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the LORD’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

Besides these, there are two other passages, where it would seem as if our LORD were distinctly referring to, though not actually quoting from the Psalms.

The hill of Sion is a fair place and the joy of the whole earth: upon the north side lieth the city of the great King.”* One can hardly doubt from the similarity of the phrase, that this verse was in our LORD’s mind when He taught on the mount, “Swear not at all:.… neither by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King.”

So again: if we first read, “Who giveth fodder unto the cattle, and feedeth the young ravens that call upon Him,”* shall we not think it probable that in the discourse on the plain, S. Luke 12:24, our LORD took His illustration, “Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have store-house nor barn; and GOD feedeth them;” as if He were arguing, And yet ye know from your own Scriptures that GOD does indeed take care of them.

We will now proceed to the other quotations made in the New Testament from the Psalms: and it will be more convenient to take them in the order of the Psalter.

Why do the heathen so furiously rage together:* and why do the people imagine a vain thing? &c.

Acts 4:25. Who by the mouth of Thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? &c.

Here we have the second Psalm ascribed, which it is not in the Psalter, to David. The quotation is word for word from the LXX.

I will preach the law, whereof the LORD hath said unto Me, Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.*

Acts 13:33. As it is also written in the second Psalm; Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee.

But the better reading is, “the first Psalm,” which thus gives additional likelihood to the other division, which makes the first and second Psalm into one.

Heb. 1:5. For unto which of the Angels said He at any time, Thou art My SON, this day have I begotten Thee?

Heb. 5:5. So also CHRIST glorified not Himself to be made an High Priest, but He that said unto Him, Thou art My SON, to-day have I begotten Thee.

The quotation in all these passages is perfectly literal, as it will be understood in all cases henceforward to be, where I do not notice a difference.

Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron.*

Rev. 2:27; 19:15. And He shall rule them with a rod of iron.

Although not formally quoted, the words are precisely the same, except the necessary change of person. Ποιμανεῖς, shalt guide them as a shepherd, the rod of iron clearly referring to the shepherd’s staff. I know not why our own version is so vague.

Stand in awe, and sin not.*

Eph. 4:26. Be ye angry, and sin not.

ὀργίζεσθε is the translation of the LXX.

Their throat is an open sepulchre.*

Rom. 3:13. Their throat is an open sepulchre.

What is man,* that Thou art mindful of him: and the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him lower than the Angels: to crown him with glory and worship. Thou makest him to have dominion of the works of Thy hands: and Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.

Heb. 2:6–8. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that Thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the Angels; Thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of Thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.

1 Cor. 15:27. For He hath put all things under His feet. But when He saith, All things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted, Which did put all things under Him.

A slight variation of phrase; πάντα ὑπέταξας ὑποκάτω τῶν ποδῶν αὐτοῦ, and πάντα γὰρ ὑπέταξεν ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας αὐτοῦ. Here, and in the preceding, is a remarkable example of what we may call a mystical interpretation. Had a mediæval writer applied the Son of Man in Psalm 8 to our LORD, the literalists would have accused him of destroying the meaning, which was only to teach man a lesson of humility, by comparing him, in his littleness, with the glory of the nightly stars. Yet S. Paul quotes the text, not allusively, but argumentatively: “for He hath put,” &c.

His mouth is full of cursing,* deceit and fraud.

Rom. 3:14. Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;

verbally different: οὗ ἀρᾶς τὸ στόμα αὐτοῦ γέμει καὶ πικρίας καὶ δόλου: and, ὧν τὸ στόμα ἀρᾶς καὶ πικρίας γέμει.

I have observed,* in its proper place, that that which appears a quotation in Rom. 3:10, 11, &c., is, in reality, a corrupt borrowing back by the Psalm of a passage not originally there (and not given in our Bible version,) and made up of fragments from other Psalms. I therefore pass it over here.

I have set GOD always before me:* for He is on my right hand, therefore I shall not fall. Wherefore my heart was glad, and my glory rejoiced: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For why? Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell: neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. Thou shalt show me the path of life; in Thy presence is the fulness of joy.

Acts 2:25–28. For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the LORD always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance.

And 13:35. Wherefore he saith also in another Psalm, Thou shalt not suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. For David, after, &c.

What is this but a distinct protest against literalism?

My SAVIOUR,* my GOD, and my might, in Whom I will trust.

Heb. 2:13. And again, I will put my trust in Him.

The particular applicability of the text to S. Paul’s thesis, that, by the Incarnation we have become one with our LORD, it is not easy to develope: but this is clear, that no literalist would ever have dreamt of applying Psalm 18:1–2 to our SAVIOUR; and that, from this verse, we may, nay, we must, apply the whole Psalm also to Him.

Here the quotation is not literal: LXX., ἐλπιῶ ἐπʼ αὐτόν. S. Paul, ἔσομαι πεποιθὼς ἐπʼ αὐτῷ.1

For this cause will I give thanks unto Thee,* O LORD, among the Gentiles: and sing praises unto Thy Name.

Rom. 15:9. And that the Gentiles might glorify GOD for His mercy; as it is written: For this cause I will confess to Thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto Thy Name.

The word Κύριε is omitted in S. Paul’s quotation.

Their sound is gone out into all lands: and their words into the ends of the world.*

Rom. 10:18. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

A most striking example of a mystical quotation. Who, that did not beforehand know, would imagine that David was speaking of aught else save the natural heavens? No wonder that the Fathers have, with one consentient voice, interpreted this Psalm throughout of the Apostles.

They part my garments among them: and cast lots upon my vesture.*

S. Matt. 27:35. And they crucified Him, and parted His garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

S. John 19:23, 24. And also His coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did.

Here even the literalist sees a prophecy of our LORD; but, it would appear, of Him only. No doubt this fact also was true of David in some of his afflictions: probably when he left Jerusalem in that hasty flight from Absalom, and the rabble might easily have broken into his palace.

I will declare Thy Name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise Thee.*

Heb. 2:11. For which cause He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, I will declare Thy Name unto My brethren: in the midst of the Church will I sine praise unto Thee.

S. Paul gives ἀπαγγελῶ for διηγήσομαι.

The earth is the LORD’s, and all that therein is.*

1 Cor. 10:25. Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience’ sake: for the earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof.

And so, if the reading be genuine, at ver. 28.

Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered:* blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth no sin.

Rom. 4:6. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom GOD imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered: Blessed is the man to whom the LORD will not impute sin.

What man is he that lusteth to live:* and would fain see good days? Keep thy tongue from evil: and thy lips, that they speak no guile. Eschew evil, and do good: seek peace, and ensue it. The eyes of the LORD are over the righteous: and His ears are open unto their prayers. The countenance of the LORD is against them that do evil.

1 S. Pet. 3:10–12, For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile; let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the LORD is against them that do evil.

The quotation is verbally exact if we exclude the necessary change of persons, excepting at the commencement.

The LXX. have it: τίς ἐστιν ἄνθρωπος ὁ θέλων ζωήν, ἀγαπῶν ἡμέρας ἰδεῖν ἀγαθάς;

S. Peter quotes it: ὁ γὰρ θέλων ζωὴν ἀγαπᾶν, καὶ ἰδεῖν ἡμέρας ἀγαθάς.

He keepeth all his bones,* so that not one of them is broken.

S. John 19:36. For these things were done, that the Scripture should be fulfilled: A bone of him shall not be broken.

This is generally applied to the Paschal Lamb only, to which there is, no doubt, a reference also. But the words are too express to permit any doubt that S. John was quoting, not from the Pentateuch, but from the Psalter.

In the LXX., ἓν ἐξ αὐτῶν οὐ συντριβήσεται.

In S. John, ὀστοῦν οὐ συντριβήσεται αὐτῷ.

Sacrifice and meat-offering Thou wouldest not:* but mine ears hast Thou opened. Burnt-offerings and sacrifice for sin hast Thou not required: then said I, Lo, I come. In the volume of the book it is written of me, that I should fulfil Thy will, O my GOD.

Heb. 10:5–7. Wherefore, when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me: in burnt-offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast had no pleasure: then said I, Lo, I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of Me,) to do Thy will, O GOD.

The quotation is almost verbally exact. The but a body hast Thou prepared Me is the reading of the LXX. (see my note on the passage.) But S. Paul gives (1) ὁλοκαυτώματα for ὁλοκαύτωμα, (2) οὐκ εὐδόκησας for οὐκ ᾔτησας; and (3) τοῦ ποιῆσαι, ὁ Θεός, τὸ θέλημά σου, for τοῦ ποιῆσαι τὸ θέλημά σου, ὁ Θεός μου, ἠβουλήθην. Where he again quotes the passage in the following verse, he still differs verbally in (2) οὐκ ἠθέλησας οὐδὲ εὐδόκησας.

For Thy sake also are we killed all the day long:* and are counted as sheep appointed to be slain.

Rom. 8:36. As it is written: For Thy sake we are killed all the day long: we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Thy seat,* O GOD, endureth for ever: the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: wherefore GOD, even thy GOD, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Heb. 1:8, 9. But unto the SON He saith, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore GOD, even Thy GOD, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows.

That Thou mightest be justified in Thy saying, and clear when Thou art judged.*

Rom. 3:4. Let GOD be true, but every man a liar, as it is written, That Thou mightest be justified in Thy sayings, and mightest overcome when Thou art judged.

O cast thy burden upon the LORD,* and He shall nourish thee.

1 S. Pet. 5:7. Casting all your care upon Him, for He careth for you.

An allusion, rather than a direct quotation.

LXX.: ἐπίῤῥιψον ἐπὶ Κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου, καὶ αὐτός σε διαθρέψει. S. Peter: πᾶσαν τὴν μέριμναν ὑμῶν ἐπιῤῥίψαντες ἐπʼ αὐτόν, ὅτι αὐτῷ μέλει περὶ ὑμῶν.

And that Thou, LORD,* art merciful, for Thou rewardest every man according to his work.

1 Cor. 3:8. Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

The quotation is not literal; but all the commentators agree that it is a virtual reference.

Thou art gone up on high,* thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men: yea, even for thine enemies, that the LORD GOD might dwell among them.

Eph. 4:8. Wherefore He saith, When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

The quotation is literal, except for the change of the second into the third person, and the substitution of gave (the Syriac reading) for received.

The zeal of Thine house hath even eaten me.*

S. John 2:17. And His disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up.

And the rebukes of them that rebuked Thee are fallen upon me.

Rom. 15:3. For even CHRIST pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached Thee fell on me.

Let their table be made a snare to take themselves withal:* and let the things that should have been for their wealth be unto them an occasion of falling. Let their eyes be blinded, that they see not: and ever bow Thou down their backs.

Rom. 11:9, 10. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway.

The first verse has considerable verbal variations.

Let their habitation be void:* and no man to dwell in their tents.

Acts 1:20. For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein.

Here also there is a considerable variation.

I will open my mouth in a parable;* I will declare hard sentences of old.

S. Matt. 13:35. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

He rained down manna also upon them for to eat:* and gave them food from Heaven.

S. John 6:31. Our fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, as it is written: He gave them bread from Heaven to eat.

The Jews do not quote correctly.

ἄρτον οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς is changed into ἄρτον ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς φαγεῖν.

Bread of Heaven is surely much stronger than bread out of Heaven: and the amplification of to eat by no means strengthens the force. The Psalmist’s original language is far better fitted to the highest mystical sense.

I have found David My servant:* with My holy oil have I anointed him.

Acts 13:22. To whom also He gave testimony and said, I have found David, the son of Jesse, a man after Mine own heart, which shall fulfil all My will.

This can hardly be called a quotation, mixed up as it also is with 1 Sam. 13:14.

He shall give His Angels charge over thee:* to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands: that thou hurt not thy foot against a stone.

S. Matt. 4:6. And saith unto Him, If Thou be the SON of GOD, cast Thyself down: for it is written, He shall give His Angels charge concerning Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.

S. Luke 4:9–11. And said unto Him, If Thou be the SON of GOD, cast Thyself down from hence: for it is written, He shall give His Angels charge over Thee, to keep Thee: and in their hands they shall bear Thee up, lest at any time Thou dash Thy foot against a stone.

All the Fathers have the observation that Satan omits a clause, so as to make GOD’s Word false—“in all thy ways:” that is, in all places where thy duty calls thee. Observe, further, that S. Luke gives the τοῦ διαφύλαξαί σε, which S. Matthew omits.

The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man:* that they are but vain.

1 Cor. 3:20. And again, The LORD knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

The Apostle reads, τῶν σοφῶν, for τῶν ἀνθρώπων. The Vulgate agrees with the LXX., in the original passage.

To-day if ye will hear His voice,* harden not your hearts: as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness; when your fathers tempted Me: proved Me, and saw My works. Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said: It is a people that do err in their hearts, for they have not known My ways; unto whom I sware in My wrath: that they should not enter into My rest.

Heb. 3:7–11. Wherefore (as the HOLY GHOST saith, To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted Me, proved Me, and saw My works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways. So I sware in My wrath, They shall not enter into My rest.)

And further, Heb. 4:7. Again, He limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To-day, after so long a time; as it is said, To-day if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would He not afterward have spoken of another day.

There are a few verbal differences.

The LXX. has πικρασμοῦ: the New Testament πειρασμοῦ. But here, probably, the genuine reading is that which the Apostle gives; as both Vulgate and Italic have tentationis.

The LXX. has ἐδοκίμασαν:

              the N.T. ἐδοκίμασάν με.


ἔργα μου. Τεσσαράκοντα

              ἔργα μου τεσσαράκοντα


ἔτη προσώχθισα &c.

              ἔτη. Διὸ προσώχθισα &c.


καὶ αὐτοὶ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν.

              αὐτοὶ δὲ οὐκ ἔγνωσαν.


But far more noteworthy is the Apostolic argument, founded so completely as it is on the symbolical understanding of the passage. Consider that the Epistle to the Hebrews is—perhaps with the exception of that to the Romans—the most deeply reasoned of all the Apostolic writings: it was, and was intended to be, a challenge to Jewish learning and Rabbinical cavils; and yet a mystical argument appears to the writer of so much force, that he recurs to it twice. It is easy for commentators to admire the depth and richness of this argument of S. Paul, who would yet be the first to sneer at the Nicene ratiocination from My heart hath produced a good Word: but is there really any difference between the force of the two? And had S. Paul happened to use the latter, and the Fathers of Nicæa the former, would not the praise and the blame have been exactly reversed?

Worship Him,* all ye gods.

Heb. 1:6. And again, when He bringeth in the First-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the Angels of GOD worship Him.1

This is one of the passages that most remarkably prove our system. Let any ordinary reader take up Psalm 97: let him be told that in the “clouds and darkness are round about Him” the mystery of the Incarnation is foreshown; in the clause, “The heavens have declared His righteousness,” the Guiding Star is set forth; would they not call all this fanciful and unreal? And yet here the Apostle clearly declares this to be David’s meaning; for where else in that Psalm does the FATHER bring in the First-begotten? Certainly in no way that is not more typical, more removed from the ordinary system of explanation. No: the value of such a quotation, as a proof of, and clue to, mystical interpretation, is positively incalculable.

Thou,* LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. They shall perish, but Thou shalt endure: they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou change them, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.

Heb. 1:10. And, Thou, LORD, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: they shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail.

Now S. Paul teaches us that this is addressed to the SON. How? and why? Simply because the whole Psalm, in his eyes, possessed a deeply symbolical meaning. Thou shalt arise and have mercy upon Sion refers to the Incarnation: it is time that Thou have mercy upon her is the counterpart to When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son. When the Lord doth build up Sion tells of the construction of the Church on the ruins of the Synagogue: when He turneth Him unto the prayer of the poor destitute alludes to the “mundus languidus.” If it be not by such reasoning as this, how could the Apostle know that the SON, rather than the FATHER, was intended by the prophet? And if it be replied, “It was a matter of direct inspiration,” the answer is easy. Granted, it might have been so to himself: but here he is arguing with those who denied his inspiration,—with those whom he desired not to take the statement on his own authority, but to search the Scriptures, whether these things were so: with those, therefore, who acknowledged a mystical sense as well as himself. Once allow his inspiration, and why argue from the Old Testament at all? I think that, the more this argument is considered—and it is one which I do not remember to have seen adduced—the more irrefragable it will appear.

He maketh His Angels spirits:* and His ministers a flaming fire.

Heb. 1:7. And of the Angels He saith, Who maketh His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire.

Let another take his office.*

Acts 1:20. And his bishopric let another take.

The LORD said unto my LORD:* Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.

Acts 2:34. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my LORD, Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool.

1 Cor. 15:25. For He must reign, till He hath put all enemies under His feet.

Heb. 1:13. But to which of the Angels said He at any time, Sit on My right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

The LORD sware,* and will not repent: Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

Heb. 7:21. For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto Him, The LORD sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

Heb. 5:6. As He saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek.

He hath dispersed abroad, and given to the poor:* and his righteousness remaineth for ever; his horn shall be exalted with honour.

2 Cor. 9:9. As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad, he hath given to the poor; his righteousness remaineth for ever.

The Apostle quotes with less emphasis, (but in agreement with the Hebrew,) εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα; in the LXX. it is εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος.

I believed,* and therefore will I speak.

2 Cor. 4:13. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak.

I said in my haste, All men are liars.

Rom. 3:4. Let GOD be true, but every man a liar.

I give this as a quotation, because almost all the Fathers who have written on the passage affirm it to be so: though, in itself, it would hardly appear to me to be one.

O praise the LORD,* all ye heathen: praise Him, all ye nations.

Rom. 15:11. And again: Praise the LORD, all ye Gentiles, and laud Him, all ye people.

The LORD is on my side:* I will not fear what man doeth unto me.

Heb. 13:6. So that we may boldly say, The LORD is my helper: and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

The same stone which the builders refused,* is become the head stone in the corner.

Acts 4:11. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

1 S. Pet. 2:7. Unto you therefore which believe, He is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner.

Observe here how S. Peter, both in his sermon and in his Epistle, dwells on this text without the least doubt of its symbolical meaning; and that, in the former case, in the midst of enemies, who, had they not been used to such a system of interpretation, would only have been offended or disgusted by the allusion.

The LORD hath made a faithful oath unto David,* and He shall not shrink from it: Of the fruit of thy body: will I set upon thy seat.

Acts 2:30. Therefore being a Prophet, and knowing that GOD had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up CHRIST to sit on his throne; he, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of CHRIST.

The poison of asps is under their lips.*

Rom. 3:13. The poison of asps is under their lips.

40. In conclusion,* do we ordinarily attach sufficient importance to such expressions as that with reference to our LORD in the last days of His earthly life? “Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the Scriptures.” Does not this infer a regular tuition in some system of interpretation of which hitherto they knew nothing? He expounded unto them all the things concerning Himself. Some of those things, we have already seen, involved what would now be called the deepest mysticism, and forthwith we see its fruits. History is no longer a bare relation of facts—it is a parable. Agar is no longer the concubine of Abraham, but “Mount Sinai in Arabia.” The Mosaic law is a Christian Parable; “saith He it not altogether for our sakes?” CHRIST is everywhere, in Prophet, Psalm, History: every Old Testament Saint is the type of the Saint of Saints; every persecutor is the forerunner of the Destroyer of souls. And what follows? Observe the depth of study, the profound search, the intensity of investigation of the mystics, contrasted with the jejunity, the commonplace superficiality of the literalists! To the latter, Scripture is no mine: its treasures are at the surface; a first reading may exhibit as much of the meaning as a twentieth; and hence the stupid dictum of a marvellous genius,1 likening the first interpretation of the Bible to the first crush of the grape, which first crush is not wine, but a sickly and unwholesome must.

41. In unison with the system which it has been the object of this Essay to unfold,* the present Commentary is written. I know that it will be called, by many, fanciful, unreal, destructive of Scripture, will be said to put imagination in the place of reason, and to substitute the words of men for the word of GOD. But let this only be borne in mind. Our system is the system, as all must allow, of every saintly Commentator from S. Barnabas to S. Francis de Sales—the system, as I have endeavoured to show, not only of Isapostolic but of Apostolic writers. The interpretations are none of them my own; their authors are given; they come with greater or less authority; but those that have least will be found to possess some considerable weight. I claim nothing but the poor thread on which the pearls are strung. To collect them has been the happy work of many years—work which has consoled me in trial, added happiness to prosperity, afforded a theme of profitable conversation with dear friends, furnished the subject-matter for numerous sermons. I pray GOD to accept it as an offering to the Treasury of His Church; and to give that system, if it be His will, favour in the eyes of Scriptural students, which I know to be the only method whereby His own, be it declaration or command, can be fully acted out, ἐρευνᾶτε τὰς γραφὰς … καὶ ΕΚΕΙΝΑΙ ΕΙΣΙΝ ἉΙ ΜΑΡΤΥΡΟΥΣΑΙ ΠΕΡΙ ΕΜΟΥ.

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