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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.

As a penitential Psalm with the Litanies. According to Sarum use, at Prime every day in Lent.

Gregorian. Monday: Matins. [All Saints: II. Nocturn.]

Monastic. Sunday: II. Nocturn.

Parisian. Tuesday: Compline.

Quignon. Tuesday: Tierce.

Lyons. Tuesday: I. Nocturn.

Ambrosian. Wednesday of the First Week: I. Nocturn.

Eastern Church. Mesorion of Terce.


Gregorian. Deliver me * in Thy righteousness. [All Saints: Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the LORD, and be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.]

Monastic. As Gregorian.

Parisian. Thou forgavest * the iniquity of my sins. For this shall every one that is godly make his prayer unto Thee.

Lyons. Blessed are the people * whose GOD is the LORD JEHOVAH.

Ambrosian. Them that put their trust in the LORD mercy embraceth. Kyr. Kyr. Kyr.

Quignon. We will sing and praise Thy power.

Mozarabic. GOD, my exultation, redeem me from those that surround me.

1 Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven: and whose sin is covered.

Note. Psalms 32. to 38. inclusive form the third part of the commentary of Gerhohus. It is headed all the way through Pez’s edition, Honorius Augustodunensis; as if he were its author. I have said in the second Dissertation that two gaps were filled up by Pez from the commentary of that writer, namely, from Psalm 45. to 51, and from 79. to 119. But he does not mention that this is the case in the present Psalms. At the same time, the character of the commentary is very unlike Gerhohus, and it does not symbolise the Gloria Patri at the end of each verse: I shall therefore quote it as Honorius, though not certain that it is indeed his.

This Psalm was treated by Alphonsus à Castro in twenty-four Homilies; by Toletus in fifteen. We also have the advantage of the exposition of S. Gregory the Great, Innocent III., and the other authors who have treated the penitential Psalms only.

Notice, this is the first Psalm, except the first of all, which begins with Blessedness. In the first Psalm we have the blessing of innocence, (L.) or rather, of Him Who only was innocent: here we have the blessing of repentance, as the next happiest state to that of sinlessness.* S. Cyril of Jerusalem sees in this sudden commencement the congratulation of the sinless angels to those who, after having once fallen, are now again made worthy to join their society:* when the voice of the FATHER is heard, Bring forth the first robe, and put it on him. They take* unrighteousness of original sin; sin of actual transgression. Others apply the two clauses to sin before and sin after Baptism. Justin Martyr takes opportunity from this verse to confute those heretics of early times who, as Solifidians now, distort S. Paul’s teaching to mean, that man is justified from sin by faith only. “For,” says he, “David, who is the Apostle’s example of imputed righteousness, how earnestly did he repent, and do works meet for repentance, after his sin in the matter of Bathsheba!” Origen will have it that, in the first clause,* the Psalmist expresses the ceasing to do evil; in the second, by the word covered, learning to do well; as it is written, “Charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” But above all things, as Augustine teaches, we must be careful not to understand the word covered as if the sin really remained there, though GOD, (A.) so to speak, flung a robe round it, and hid it from His eyesight. Rather it signifies the utter obliteration of sin,* so that not a vestige of it remains. Toletus has treated the subject very well, and with great depth of scriptural knowledge, and shows that “covering” is the same thing which, in other parts of Scripture, is called “purging,” “blotting out,” “pardoning,” “taking away,” “loosing,” “cleansing,” “making white,” “justification,” “reconciliation,” “washing,” “casting into the depths of the sea,”* and other the like terms. It is covering, as the African Bishop Victor tells us, in the same sense in which Joshua, the son of Josedech, the type of sinful humanity, was covered: in the first place the angel said, “Take away the filthy garments from him;” and then, and not till then, “they set a fair mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments.”* In this sense we must be unclothed, as well as clothed upon, if we would present ourselves with the wedding garment at the marriage feast. The commentators seem to vie with each other in their richness of mystical allusions: according to S. Ambrose,* it is the sons of Noah covering their father in his shame; according to S. Augustine, it is the red rams’ skins which covered the ark—red, (A.) because of the Blood of CHRIST; according to S. Isidore,* it is Rachel covering the idols with the camel’s furniture. And if we ask why these sins are spoken of as covered, the answer is, because GOD resolves, the guilt being blotted out, (Ay.) not to behold even the temporal punishment. The innumerable questions which arise on this subject of confession and satisfaction, have given no small labour on this verse to the schoolmen. S. Augustine, at very great length, dwells on the apparent contradiction of S. James and S. Paul; and as befits the Doctor of Grace, seizes the opportunity of extolling the free grace of GOD, without any preceding merits of our own. I know not, however, that any one sums up the meaning of the verse more shortly and neatly than does Bede, speaking of our sins, and of GOD’s mercy: Non vult ca cognoscere quia mavult ignoscere.

2 Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth no sin: and in whose spirit there is no guile.

Unto whom the Lord imputeth no sin. It is certain that, let the transgression be pardoned completely, still the state of mind in the offender is not the same as if it had never been committed. And herein is the malice of sin, that in one sense even the death of CHRIST, while it completely pardons, does not restore the sinner to his first righteousness. The Angelic Doctor dilates at great length on the nature of imputation: and hardly any of the schoolmen but laboriously comments on this verse.* The doctrine of S. Gregory Nazianzen; if carried out to the full, would end in the most dangerous heresy: that by not imputing sin is meant GOD’s looking at the general state and wishes of the sinner rather than the actual offence.* Vieyra, in commenting on the beginning of this Psalm, speaks admirably well. “The understanding of this text was, even in the time of S. Augustine, much controverted between Catholics and heretics, on account of the distinction which the Apostle makes between sins pardoned and sins covered. If the two things are distinct, wherein consists the difference? Passing over the many questions involved, I would observe that the Apostle spoke as a divine theologian; for to the pardon and absolution of sins two things must concur: the one, the remission of the fault, which by some theologians is called condonation; and the other the infusion of grace: by remission of guilt, sins are pardoned; by infusion of grace they are covered.” And hence the Portuguese divine exalts the glory of S. Augustine, who, knowing that his sins were covered in the sight of GOD, chose to uncover them again before men. Again: it has been well observed that three heretical conclusions have been drawn from this:—1. That justification does not consist in the infusion of righteousness, (Cd.) but in the remission of sins alone. 2. That this remission is not a true deletion of sin, but only a covering of it; so that there it is, but though there, GOD will not impute it. 3. That, after the remission of sins, there is no further use in satisfaction. The doctrine of S. Paul is sufficient to overthrow the first error, when he speaks of “the blessedness of the man to whom GOD imputeth righteousness without works.”* Where observe that the Apostle not only speaks of iniquity blotted out, but of righteousness infused. Into the other two points it would require a treatise to enter fully; but again I would recommend to any one who is interested in the subject that most admirable work, the Amor pœnitens;* the learning of which on the one hand, and the unction on the other, seem to render it worthy of S. Augustine and S. Thomas united.1 Theodoret says,* “Such liberality GOD uses to sinners, that He not only forgives, but obliterates their sins, so that not the smallest vestige of them remains.”

3 For while I held my tongue: my bones consumed away through my daily complaining.

It is as though David said, “The blessedness of those pardoned ones who have confessed their sins may be theirs: as to me, so far from confessing them, I kept silence; and hence the grief, and weakness, and sickness of ray present state.” There is a silence, indeed,* which reaches the ears of GOD sooner than any words; a silence which cries out, as Cassiodorus says; but it is not that of which David here speaks. “There is a time,” as Solomon says, “to keep silence, and a time to speak.”* There is no subject which has more elicited the eloquence of mediæval writers than the shame which keeps men back from confession. None has treated on this matter better than Hugh of S. Victor,* the commencement of whose treatise on the subject bears closely on this verse, “Great is the malice of men. When a man wishes to act ill, he never seeks for authority; when we tell him to act well, he clamours for it. So it is with confession. When we tell a man to confess his sins, he says, Give your authority: what text of Scripture orders us to confess? Well: granting that Scripture does not order us to confess our sins, what text is there that orders us to keep them to ourselves? If you will not confess because you have no command, how can you dare to be silent, when you certainly have no command for that? But this is to answer a fool according to his folly. Passages there are innumerable which set this duty before us: ‘Whoso hideth his sins shall not prosper.’ And again: While I held my tongue,” &c. But they say, How can these two things exist together? If David held his tongue, how is it that we hear of his daily complaining? And the answer is, Because it was such complaining as that he might as well or better have been silent: complaining, when complaint was of no benefit; keeping silence, when only he could so be heard as to be healed. None can express this better than S. Augustine, (D. C.) but it would do his words injury to translate them. “Tacuit unde proficeret; non tacuit unde deficeret. Tacuit peccata sua; (A.) clamavit merita sua. Si clamaret peccata sua, et taceret merita sua, innovarentur.”

4 For thy hand is heavy upon me day and night: and my moisture is like the drought in summer.

Or as the Vulgate gives it, Because day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me, I was converted in my misery, while a thorn is fixed through me.1 There is no doubt that this Psalm had to do with David’s sin in the matter of Uriah; (L.) therefore it is well to notice that all the grief of which he here speaks was simply known to himself: for externally during that miserable year the state of his kingdom was prosperous, and his arms against the Ammonites seemed to be successful. And it is worth observing,* that here, day precedes night; whereas generally, from the very first chapter of Genesis, night takes precedence of day. “And the evening and the morning were the first day.” But it is so here, because this sorrow of David’s was no true repentance; only that sorrow of the world which, but for GOD’s mercy, will in the end work death. So in this case, the light—that is, the pleasures of sin—first, then the darkness, according to Satan’s rule; GOD’s path being the light affliction first, and then the eternal weight of glory; the evening and the morning, which lead on to the eternal day. And the thorn is no unmeet type of that miserable pain of sin in him who has not the courage to get rid of, it by confession. It is truly the child’s fear of having a thorn taken out. And yet it was GOD’s hand all this time which was leading David, (C.) though by a way that he knew not; and this very pain was the means of leading him to the happier condition of the next verse.* The mediæval writers give reasons enough why sin is compared to a thorn; a thorn springs up through the negligence of the tiller of the field; it is useless, bears no good fruit, chokes the crops, and is good for nothing but fire.

5a (5) I will acknowledge my sin unto thee: and mine unrighteousness have I not hid.

5b (6) I said, I will confess my sins unto the LORD: and so thou forgavest the wickedness of my sin.

My sin: mine unrighteousness.* Most of the commentators understand the former of sins of commission,* the latter of omission. But Cassiodorus, who, as we have seen, is fond of dwelling on the distinction between mortal and venial sin,* understands the former clause of the lesser, the latter of the greater. Innocent from these verses draws seven points of good confession. 1. That it be perfect,—that is, (Ay.) that it omits nothing. 2. That it be cautious,* well weighing the difference between different sins. 3. That it be made with full intention of purpose: I said, I will confess. 4. That it be humble. 5. That it pertain to our own sins, and not to those of others. 6. That it have the sense of GOD’s Presence at the moment. 7. That it be efficacious; So Thou forgavest. One or two of the expressions in the Vulgate are stronger and more emphatic than they are in our version. I made my sin known unto Thee.* “This,” says S. Gregory, “is more than I acknowledge. For he makes his sin known who not only tells what he hath done, but also relates all the cause and origin of the sin; who does not speak of the iniquity superficially, but of the when, and where, and how, and whether by accident, or ignorance, or design.” Again: the Vulgate has it, I said, I will confess against myself my unrighteousness to the Lord; and so it is in the LXX.; and in the Italic more emphatically, I will pronounce against myself. S. Augustine says very well: “Many confess their transgressions, (A.) but against the LORD GOD Himself; when they are found in sin, they say, GOD willed it. For if a man say either, I did it not; or, This deed which you blame is no sin; he confesseth neither against himself nor against GOD. If he say, I surely did it, and it is sin, but GOD willed it, and so what harm have I done?—this is to confess against GOD. Haply you will say, No one saith this: who is there that saith GOD willed it? Many say even this; but what else is it when a man says, My fate did it, or my stars caused it?” And observe, that in the first confession that was ever made, the sinner, instead of confessing against himself, confessed both against his neighbour, and also against GOD: “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree.”* This verse has, from the very beginning, been applied to sacramental confession. S. Jerome, writing to Algasia,* dwells much on this point; though, singularly enough, and by an error in which he has found no followers, he denies that David was speaking of himself. It is needless to observe that these clauses have been distorted to argue the needlessness of confession to a Priest, because David did so to the LORD. The idea is noticed with disapprobation as early as the time of Cassian: though he is speaking of the public confession used in primitive times, and first abolished in the Church of Constantinople. They take occasion to observe, what is not generally known,* that auricular confession was, and is, practised among the Jews to an Aaronic Priest, but especially of three crimes,—blasphemy, murder, and adultery, of two of which David had been guilty. I said, I will confess; and so Thou forgavest. Hence notice how ready GOD is to forgive: (C.) and this is one of the formal passages which prove that, even in Sacramental Confession, when made with true contrition, the sin is blotted out before the penitent begins to speak. Thus the father, while the prodigal son was yet a great way off, had compassion, and ran to meet him, and fell on his neck and kissed him. With which blessed result the first part of the Psalm ends. I said, I will confess. Let us see how the Eastern Church begins her Lent confessions, and that by the mouth of two of her greatest divines.* Thus Joseph begins the Triodion:

How shall I now bewail my fall? What beginning can I make, I who have lived like the Prodigal Son, of turning to salvation? O merciful One! save me by the judgments that Thou knowest. Behold the time, behold the day of salvation, behold the entrance of the fast. Keep vigil, O my soul; and maintaining diligent watch, keep locked the gates of passion for the LORD. The billows of sin swelling up against me would draw me down to the abyss of despair; but I flee to the Ocean of Thy mercy: save me, O LORD.” So Joseph: now let us hear Kyr Theodorus. “Come, O ye people, let us welcome to-day the grace of the fast, the GOD-given time of repentance, wherein we may propitiate the SAVIOUR. The season of the contest has come upon us: it has commenced, the stadium of the fast: let us all begin it with eagerness, offering virtues to the LORD as our gifts.” This is the way in which the Eastern Church begins her, I said, I will confess.

6 (7) For this shall every one that is godly make his prayer unto thee, in a time when thou mayest be found: but in the great water-floods they shall not come nigh him.

Few verses in the Psalms are harder to be understood than this: and none has given rise to more varied expositions among the commentators. For this. Some will have it: encouraged by this example, (L.) that after so foul a fall, GOD so readily forgave. Others: for this, that is, for the like sin, if ever they should be guilty of it. Others, again:* for this, namely, warned by this example, they who are holy shall make their prayers that they may not be permitted to fall as David did. Whichever be the sense, they well argue from this passage against Anabaptists and Pelagians; as S. Augustine, and as the Council of Milevi, have long ago laid down, that the state of absolute and enduring perfection is impossible to a Christian in this life. In a time when Thou mayest be found. Some take it of the time of the Gospel, in contradistinction to that of the Law. Others, (A.) again, of those more especial seasons of grace, when GOD seems to open the windows of heaven and pour out a more abundant blessing; (Z.) such as the times of Lent and Easter, or the epochs of any remarkable providence or deliverance in any particular life. Others, again, take it of the whole season of life, as a warning that the time will come when it will be too late to pray; when once the Master of the house is risen up; when the harvest is past and the summer ended; when GOD has pronounced that terrible sentence,* “Because I have called, and ye refused, I have stretched out My hand, and no man regarded; I also will laugh at your calamity.” But in the great water-floods they shall not come nigh him. And here the extremely difficult question is, Who it is that will not draw nigh, and who it is that cannot be drawn nigh to? In the first place: some would explain it;* But, notwithstanding all their prayers to GOD, such is the weakness of their nature, and such the strength of their adversary, that in the great storms of temptation, they must expect for a while to be unable to draw nigh Him. S. Jerome, by a manifold twist of the sense, would tell us that, except it were for earthly tribulations, the people of GOD never would choose Him for their hiding-place. Others, again, understand it:* In the great water-floods of temptations and troubles, they,* that is the water-floods themselves, shall not draw nigh—that is, shall not hurt—the saints of GOD. The difficulty of this interpretation is, that it seems to make the word but, to say the least, useless; since to carry out that signification it ought rather to be and therefore. Perhaps, on the whole, the explanation of Lorinus is the best, (L.) who would contrast the great water-floods with the time wherein GOD may be found: somewhat in this sense, For this shall those that fear GOD, but who have yet fallen into sin, pray their prayer for forgiveness, while it may yet be said, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation: but, if they procrastinate their repentance till in the time of the great water-floods of extreme tribulation and death, they shall not—that is, they shall not in any human probability; they shall not, save as the exception; they shall not, but by the especial goodness of GOD—be enabled to draw nigh Him at last. The more mystical interpretations are almost endless: (Ay.) the most ingenious is that which would interpret the great water-floods of riches; and would thus make the verse analogous to our LORD’s declaration, “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of GOD.” Others have endeavoured to see in the great water-floods the innumerable purifications by water of the Jews,* which had no power to remove sin, however much they might increase superstition. But, after all, however much has been written on this verse, it must be confessed that its true meaning is extremely doubtful; and that none of the commentators have so interpreted it as to give us an explanation without some grave difficulty.1

[The great water-floods may be well taken of the tide of worldly pleasures in which the luxurious are found,* of the disputes of Gentile philosophy, which carry away the proud of intellect, and of the turbulent quarrellings of the sects; all alike numerous, restless, bitter, and far from the one, still, sweet fountain of living water, the LORD JESUS Himself.]

7 (8) Thou art a place to hide me in, thou shalt preserve me from trouble: thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance.

The Vulgate is somewhat different: Thou art my refuge from the tribulation which hath surrounded me: O my exultation, deliver me from them that compass me about. They love to show how the various refuges of which we read in Holy Scripture are but the faint types of that hiding-place which the LORD is to His people.* Noah,* shut into the Ark by the hand of GOD Himself;* the Ark of the Tabernacle when it went into the camp of the Israelites;* the high hills a refuge for the wild goats,* and the stony rocks for the conies; the dove in the clefts of the rock; the chickens hurrying under their mother’s wings. S. Chrysostom tells us that in his time this verse was sung at every funeral, as it is in the Eastern Church to this day; and very beautifully, when taken in connection with the 91st Psalm, also then recited, “Whoso dwelleth under the defence of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Cassiodorus, (C.) whose earlier life had been spent in the courts, compares very ingeniously the efforts made by an advocate to deny or to palliate the guilt of his client, with the confession of the penitent here in the preceding verses, wherein he denies nothing, uses no subterfuge, and palliates nothing, but which yet at last compasses him about with songs of deliverance.

8 (9) I will inform thee, and teach thee in the way wherein thou shalt go: and I will guide thee with mine eye.

Or,* as it is with greater emphasis in the Vulgate, In this way wherein thou shalt go. And consider how beautifully the words are spoken by our LORD; He, hanging on the Cross, the innocent for the guilty, the Guide and the Captain of His people, promises to teach them in this way in which they shall go,—this way, the way of the Cross, because there is no other path to the crown; this way, the Via Dolorosa, along which He Himself went, and by which His people must go. I will inform thee by My words, “Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me;” and teach thee by My example, “He, bearing His Cross, went forth to a place called the place of a skull.” Guide thee with Mine eye. But why? seeing we generally use the hand in beckoning to those whom we would direct in their way? But herein is our LORD’s love set forth: the hands that He so often had used for us men, and for our benefit, He can no longer employ, nailed as they are to the Cross; nothing remains to Him but His eye with which to direct the wanderer, and by that eye He guided Peter to the haven of safety. The Fathers dwell in various ways on the exceeding great and precious promises contained in this verse.* Theodoret speaks of self-knowledge as the way in which we ought to go. S. Augustine shows how the end of all affliction is the obtaining the wisdom promised here. S. Remigius looks on the verse as a kind of challenge to the evil spirits who would beset us to touch him if they dare, to mislead him if they can, to whom GOD has given the promise of His own wisdom. I will inform thee and teach thee in this way. What way, save our LORD JESUS CHRIST, Who is Himself the Way, (Z.) the Truth, and the Life? Eusebius of Emesa refers it rather to the leading of the HOLY GHOST. Very tame and poor in comparison with this is the interpretation of the Jews, (Ay.) followed by some of the literalists: that David,* speaking in his own person, promises to counsel others how to avoid the sins of murder and adultery into which he himself had fallen.

9 (10) Be ye not like to horse and mule, which have no understanding: whose mouths must be held with bit and bridle, lest they fall upon thee.

Horse and mule. The one they take as the warning against. luxury, (Z.) the other against obstinacy. Therefore it is to be observed that the woman in the trial by the water of jealousy had offered for her the tenth part of an ephah of barley meal,* the food of horses.* Again, (A.) the mule is taken as the type of ingratitude; being produced,* as it is, by other animals, but producing none itself.* And they observe that the nobler animals, the horse and the mule, are here examples of sinners; whereas the ox and the ass set forth GOD’s people: as it is written, (A.) “The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib.”* Here it would seem that David was speaking to those around him;* but as the latter part of the verse is given by the Vulgate in the imperative,* some commentators take that portion to be addressed as a prayer to GOD by David: or as others have it, by CHRIST to the FATHER. And so He does turn about the enemies of the people by an invisible bridle; as it is written, “Because thy rage against Me and thy tumult is come up into Mine ears, therefore I will put My hook in thy nose, and My bridle in thy lips, and I will turn thee back by the way that thou camest.”* And hence in the Secret of the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, the Latin Church prays, We beseech Thee, O LORD, have respect to the oblations Thou hast received; and of Thy goodness compel, if it needs be, our rebellious wills to Thyself.” But that we may not be thus compelled by force, hear our LORD’s words in time: “Take”—not be forced to take—“My yoke upon you, and learn of Me.”* And those are the warnings for us: Nebuchadnezzar, who, because he would not hear GOD as a man,* had a beast’s heart given him; and Samson, who,* because he threw away his gifts of manly strength,* was forced to grind in the mill like a brute. And observe the difference between the bit and the bridle,—the one suggesting a harsher, the other a milder treatment; as if to show us that sinners are to be dealt with according to the circumstances and details of their crime. And one day these very instruments of correction shall turn to the glory of GOD, as it is written that “In that day there shall be upon the bridles of the horses, (P.) Holiness unto the LORD.”* But if not,

10 (11) Great plagues remain for the ungodly: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD, mercy embraceth him on every side.

And if we wish the catalogue of those plagues, (L.) we can read it in Deuteronomy 28. Yet we must remember, that these plagues in and by themselves, are no proof of GOD’s anger; because “whom the LORD loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.” S. Barnabas teaches us that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of GOD,* son of consolation though he was. And even of the well-beloved SON it is written, that “He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” S. Gaudentius of Brescia tells us that the use of affliction is threefold; either, for the probation of the righteous, as it is written, “Great are the troubles of the righteous;”* or, for the emendation of the sinner, as here: or, for the final destruction of the impenitent according to that saying, “Misfortune shall slay the ungodly.”* S. Chrysostom says; “Wherefore David, knowing these difficulties,* saith concerning them, ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous:’ yet see what he addeth, ‘but the LORD delivereth them out of all.’ He has scarcely spoken of the disease before he mentions the cure. But of GOD’s enemies he saith, Great plagues remain for the ungodly, and he adds no such thing by way of comfort.” For the latter clause, see what is said on the first verse of the preceding Psalm.

11 (12) Be glad, O ye righteous, and rejoice in the LORD: and be joyful, all ye that are true of heart.

First hear Vieyra; for the observation is well worth remembering:* “In the thirty-second Psalm, GOD promises the final pardon of sins and glory and blessedness, which follow it. ‘Blessed is he whose unrighteousness is forgiven, and whose sin is covered.’ Where much must you notice that word covered. Because the blessedness and remission of sins which here are promised, GOD wills to be attributed not only to His mercy, but to the protection of His providence. Therefore it seems by no means at variance with Divine justice, that that blessedness which is due to the keeping of the ten commandments, should here be granted to the ten short petitions of this Psalm.” And so Cassiodorus observes, (C.) that in this same Psalm, which is composed of eleven verses, (so it is in the Vulgate) has in the first ten the words addressed by man to GOD, and contains in fact, ten prayers; and within the last and eleventh, GOD answers man, and gives him the forgiveness of his sins, which he had besought; and together with the name of righteous, He confers on them His grace, of which the reward is glory. And what does the same Cassiodorus infer from this reckoning? He infers that the ten prayers, however short, of this decade, have, in the sight of GOD, the same virtue as the keeping the commandments of the decalogue, (L.) if only they are offered from the heart. The end of the Psalm then, answers to the beginning; it began with a declaration of blessedness, and since then every one is full of sorrow, till the exultation of this last verse. Among the works of S. Augustine there is a treatise on the Magnificat,* written by one of his imitators, which distinguishes the gladness felt by man into three kinds; neither from GOD nor in GOD, as they who rejoice in sin: from GOD but not in GOD, as they who abuse the gifts of GOD: and both from GOD and in GOD, as those who turn His gifts to His love and to His honour. Observe that this epithet, true of heart, is applied by the Church in one of her Versicles to Martyrs: and most fitly: for how can the truth and reality of love to GOD be better shown than by martyrdom? as it is written, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Ayguan, (Ay.) commenting on the expression, Glory, all ye that are true of heart,* and comparing it with the verse in Hosea, “His glory shall be as the olive tree,” draws an ingenious mystical instruction. The olive, he says, and says truly, is first green, then red, then livid, and then black. And so in the penitent: there is the greenness of hope; there is the crimson of brotherly love, ready to lay down life from affection: there is the lividness of penitence, and the dark shade of humility: and penitence, such as is to lead us to GOD, must have all these things.

And therefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, the LORD to Whom we confess our sins; and to the SON, “the Way wherein we shall go:” and to the HOLY GHOST, Who informs us and teaches us;

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

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