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

Gregorian. Blessed * be the LORD my GOD.

Parisian. First portion: My GOD, my mercy and deliverer. Second portion: Blessed are the people who have the LORD for their GOD.

Mozarabic. My mercy and refuge, my lifter-up and my deliverer.

There is no clue whatever to the date or occasion of this Psalm. The LXX. title is a late interpolation, and not found in Origen’s Hexapla. R. Kimchi,* who ascribes the Psalm to David (a view made highly improbable by the form of the first eleven verses, which are a cento from earlier Psalms) supposes it to belong to the time when David’s sovereignty over all Israel was acknowledged.* Theodoret holds it to be a thanksgiving of the returned exiles at the failure of the attack on them by the neighbouring tribes;* but this theory is discredited by two things; the mention of a powerful native sovereign in the earlier part of the Psalm, and of a condition of great national prosperity in the later.* On the whole, the most probable conjecture seems to be that of an anonymous Greek commentator, who ascribes the composition to the Maccabee period.

1 Blessed be the LORD my strength: who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight.

My strength. (H.) More exactly My Rock, but LXX. and Vulgate both have My God. It is, comments S. Hilary, the thanksgiving of the Man CHRIST JESUS to His FATHER for teaching Him how to overcome the world, when His arms were made like unto a bow of steel, as He triumphed with them extended and his hands nailed upon the Cross. After the victorious war of the hands in overthrowing principalities and powers, followed the fight of the fingers, when He blotted out with them the handwriting that was against us,* and affixed it to His Cross. (A.) Spoken by the Church, as the Body of CHRIST, the hands denote strength and unity of action, the fingers diversity of operations, yet springing from the same root of unity.* It is not merely a general, but a particular war we have to wage, and every separate grace or virtue we use as a weapon against Satan is a separate finger of the hand of righteousness.* These five fingers are the finger of the Divine grace, “With the finger of GOD I cast out devils;”* the finger of devout union with the Passion of CHRIST, “And Moses took the blood, and put it upon the horns of the altar round about with his finger;”* the prayer of holy action, “My fingers dropped with sweet-smelling myrrh;”* the finger of compassionate help, “That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue;”* and the finger of discretion,* that finger of GOD which wrote the two tables of stone, and wrote on the ground when the woman was taken in adultery.* And this answers to the nature of the campaign itself,* for we have in common to fight against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places; and each of us for himself has that inward strife of the flesh lusting against the spirit,* and the spirit against the flesh. Of this Plato speaks,* “For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories, but to be worsted by himself is the most shameful and basest of all things. Such language denotes that there is in each of us a war against ourselves.” When these enemies of ours come to close quarters, and make dangerous attacks upon us, we need the whole strength of our hands to grasp the sword with which we resist them.* When they are only hovering in the distance, and are less formidable, then the fingers suffice, to shoot an arrow or cast a dart of ejaculatory prayer against them. (G.) And in the case of Christian teachers, the hands mean preaching to those close beside them, the fingers prayer for those at a distance, neither of which may be neglected.

Origen,* explaining the hands to be good works, quaintly takes the fingers to mean the ceremony of signing the Cross upon the forehead as a help against sinful thoughts. (Ay.) There were three qualities of a valiant soldier found in CHRIST, the Captain of our salvation, in His war against Satan, which His followers are bound to emulate, boldness in attack, skill in defence, steadiness in conflict, all which He teaches by His example.* He was bold in attack, for He began the combat by going up into the wilderness to defy the enemy. So we too should be always beforehand with Satan, ought to fast, even if not tempted to gluttony, and be humble, though not assailed by pride, and so forth. He was skilful in defence, parrying every attack with Holy Writ; where we too, in the examples of the Saints, may find lessons for the combat. He was steadfast in conflict, for He persevered to the end, till the devil left Him, and angels came and ministered unto Him; and we too should not be content with repelling the first attacks, but persevere in our resistance until the evil thoughts are put to flight, and heavenly resolutions take their place.

2 My hope and my fortress, my castle and deliverer, my defender in whom I trust: who subdueth my people that is under me.

My hope. Rather, with A. V. my goodness, or with LXX., Vulg. and A. V. margin, my mercy. (A.) GOD is the mercy of His Saints in two ways, in being merciful to them Himself, and in making them merciful to others; in blending indissolubly the prayer and its condition, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us;”* in uniting cause and effect in “Give, and it shall be given unto you.”* He is the fortress of His Saints,* as at once their strong place, and their storehouse, whence they can neither be forced out nor starved out; He is their castle, or rather their high tower, the “watch tower,”* “the tower of David, builded for an armoury,”* as the place of observation whence they can detect the approach of every foe, and rout them by hurling down missiles which they cannot return;* their deliverer by bringing rescue in actual conflict; their defender or shield by warding off attack. In whom I trust, for “the Name of the LORD is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.* Who subdueth my people that is under me. Taking the words as those of CHRIST, the earlier ones, S. Hilary tells us, need no explanation, (H.) so clearly are they set forth in the Gospels by CHRIST’S revelation of His FATHER and ascription of all things to Him; but this last clause points especially to the conversion of the Gentiles, and is the LORD’S thanksgiving for the fulfilment of that promise, “Desire of Me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance: and the uttermost parts of the earth for Thy possession. Thou shalt bruise them with a rod of iron: and break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”* It may be extended further to the Apostles, and all other great heralds of the Gospel;* and, as one commentator reminds us, to the orderly ranks of the Religious Life guided under superiors by a fixed rule. And, applying the words to individual Christians,* we are told that the people referred to are the crowds of evil thoughts that arise in our minds,* the emotions and passions of our souls, which are subdued under me, when I fight the good fight with GOD as my teacher,* and subdue the flesh to the spirit, so that all these rebels are forced to lie quiet in the heart.

3 LORD, what is man, that thou hast such respect unto him: or the Son of man, that thou so regardest him?

4 Man is like a thing of nought: his time passeth away like a shadow.

By the Apostolic comment on the former of these two verses, as it stands in its original form earlier in the Psalter, we are taught that there is here a foreshadowing of the Incarnation of the LORD, the only means by which frail humanity could attain to the knowledge of GOD; which, rather than GOD’S taking knowledge of man the former of these two verses,* as it stands in its original form earlier in the Psalter,* we are taught that there is here a foreshadowing of the Incarnation of the LORD, (H.) the only means by which frail humanity could attain to the knowledge of GOD; which, rather than GOD’S taking knowledge of man, is the sense of the LXX. (C.) and Vulgate in this place, reading as they do in the first clause of verse 3, ἐγνώσθῃς αὐτῷ, innotuisti ei. There is a force in the Hebrew wording of the third verse which is lost in the versions, by its use of a different name for man in the two clauses. The first is אָדָם, Adam, the generic title, but the second is אֱנוֹשׁ, Enos, which means frail man, a weak mortal being, from the root אָנַשׁ, to be weak, denoting thus derived and hereditary enfeeblement. And in the answer which the fourth verse makes to the question in the third, Man is like a thing of nought, there is a further reference to the first great blow which fell on the parents of mankind. (A.) A thing of nought, turned as foolishness or vanity by LXX. and Vulgate, is literally a breath, and letter for letter the same as the name of the second man born into the world, (C.) so that the reply may be worded Adam is as Abel, once strong, and like the truth, but becoming like to vanity, and cut off in the flower of his years, dying as truly in spirit by that sin in Paradise as his son did by his brother’s hand. His time passeth away as a shadow, because he not only is as unstable and transitory as a shadow, but because he walks in darkness as well as in weakness.

But what am I?*

An infant crying in the night;

An infant crying for the light,

And with no language but a cry.

But note, that whereas, were the parallel structure of the fourth verse in exact keeping with that of the third, we should have at the close of the verse, “The Son of man’s time passeth away like a shadow,” yet in fact this is not said, (G.) and man alone is spoken of in each member. Why? Because “unto the SON He saith, Thy throne, O GOD, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom.”* Man truly is nothing, that Thou shouldest take knowledge of him; but the Son of man, that Thou shouldest regard Him,* is the Man that is Thy fellow, very GOD of very GOD, Begotten, not made; not vanity, but the Way,* and the Truth, and the Life. Wherefore I cry unto Him:

5 Bow thy heavens, O LORD, and come down: touch the mountains, and they shall smoke.

6 Cast forth thy lightning, and tear them: shoot out thine arrows, and consume them.

Bow Thy heavens,* O GOD the SON, humble the awful majesty of Thy Godhead, whore Thou dwellest in light inaccessible, and come down, down to earth, down to the form of a servant, down to the manger at Bethlehem, down to the cross of Calvary. “Come down ere my child die.”* Come down, O Good Samaritan,* to me, who have myself come down by sin from Jerusalem, the peaceful vision of GOD in Paradise, and am lying naked, wounded, dying, on the downward way, the “road of blood,” waiting for One to pour oil and wine into my wounds and bind them up. (H.) Bow Thy heavens, make Thine angel hosts bring the glad tidings down to mankind, bid Gabriel hasten to the Maid at Nazareth, let the heavenly hosts sing carols to the wondering shepherds, summon the ministering spirits to wait upon Thyself when Thou smitest Satan in the wilderness of the Temptation.* Bow Thy heavens by bidding Thy great Saints and Apostles come down from the lofty heights of divine contemplation, to adapt themselves in their preaching to the needs of the lowly and unlearned. Come down Thyself with them, and pour the knowledge of Thee into our hearts. Come down, for if Thou come not down to us, we can never rise to Thee. (A.) Touch the mountains, all those exalted above the rest of mankind by rank, or pride, or power, or wisdom; let them feel that a mightier than they is ruling them; (C.) let them send up the thick smoke of penitential sighing, betokening the divinely kindled fire within their hearts. Cast forth Thy lightning, shine in the flashing glory of Thy marvellous works, and scatter them (Syr., LXX., Vulg., A. V.), dispersing them into all lands to preach the Gospel to every creature under heaven.* Scatter those also to whom they make known Thine awful might, driving them from all their firm places of shelter into the folds of the Church Catholic, parting them for ever from those who refuse to hear the Word. Send forth Thine arrows, those polished shafts which Thou hidest in Thy quiver,* Thy swift and piercing Apostles, (C.) Thy sharp and salutary counsels, and consume them, destroying in them all the power of sin,* transfixing them with the shafts of Divine love, or (with LXX. and Vulgate) trouble them, let them no longer be content with their condition, raise in them a horror of their sins, a longing for holiness, and restlessness until they can find repose in Thee. (H.) The verses may be taken, obviously, in the sterner sense, as the declaration of the righteous judgment of GOD upon impenitent sinners, but the other more loving exposition is that which the great majority of early commentators prefer to follow.

7 Send down thine hand from above: deliver me, and take me out of the great waters, from the hand of strange children;

8 Whose mouth talketh of vanity: and their right hand is a right hand of wickedness.

Send down, (G.) O GOD the FATHER, the SON, Thine own Right Hand, from above, to deliver all mankind from the floods of sin, even as later He delivered Peter when sinking in the waters. It is the prayer of all men, and chiefly of them who were waiting in Hades for the Deliverer Who should come to harrow hell:

Neque enim, credo, sine numine divûm

Flumina tanta paras Stygiamque innare paludem;*

Da dextram miseri, et tecum me tolle per undas;

Sedibus ut saltem placidis in morte quiescam.

Not, as I think, without the might of GOD

Thou comest to cross mighty streams and hell’s own waves;

Give wretched me Thy right hand, bear me forth

With Thee across the billows, that at least

I may in death rest in a peaceful home.

Send damn Thine hand, (A.) O GOD the SON, from above, reveal Thyself amidst thunder and lightnings and the trumpet of the Archangel, and take Thy Church forth from the many waters, the unbelieving nations of the world, the floods of false doctrine and its teachers,* strange children, evil spirits, or wicked men, because children of the world and the devil, not born again of water and the HOLY GHOST, (C.) or if so born, become aliens through rebellion,* as did the Jews, talking of vanity, (Ay.) of all things which are frivolous, erroneous, unstable and alien from the laws of GOD, whose right hand is not as Thy Right Hand, but is that which Thou accountest the left hand, looking to temporal prosperity rather than everlasting blessedness, (H.) choosing to stand at Thy left hand rather than at Thy right in the Doom, because full of wickedness which it will not let go, even as the Jews denied any King but Cæsar, and blasphemed their own Messiah, and used their hands to buffet, and scourge, and crucify Him; types as they are of all who blaspheme Him now,* and crucify Him afresh, putting Him to an open shame.

9 I will sing a new Song unto thee, O GOD: and sing praises unto thee upon a ten-stringed lute.

A new Song, (A.) the song of the newly-born, the song of grace of the New Testament, blended with the decachord of the Old, (B.) its ten precepts of the moral law. The Old Testament is the instrument which accompanies the new song of the Gospel, because all its histories and types, all its rites and ceremonies, all its canticles and prophecies, are interpreted in a new light and with a fuller meaning than they had for the Jews, in whose hands that ten-stringed lute remains, but only that they may sing the harsh old song of the Law. And each of GOD’S redeemed servants can sing Him a new song too,* and that upon the decachord, if in his new life he serve the LORD with the five senses of the body, and the five powers of the mind, if sight and hearing, smell and taste, and touch, (L.) join with understanding, memory, and will, with judgment and imagination, to exalt the LORD.

10 Thou hast given victory unto kings: and hast delivered David thy servant from the peril of the sword.

11 Save me, and deliver me from the hand of strange children: whose mouth talketh of vanity, and their right hand is a right hand of iniquity.

The Kings to whom GOD gives victory, (H.) are those to whom CHRIST will say, “Come, ye blessed of My FATHER, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you,”* Kings who shall bind the kings of the earth in chains, and their nobles with links of iron, and sit in judgment upon them. He hath delivered David His servant, that truer Shepherd King, from the hurtful sword (A. V.) in that He raised Him up again unharmed by death,* as the Firstborn from the dead. GOD’S Saints are kings, who know how to rule their own bodies well, and who, by governing the motions of their passions,* reign over subject thoughts by the law of holiness, and thus achieve through divine grace victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.* Earthly kings give camps, and send their soldiers forth to die, GOD our King gives a Kingdom, and makes us Kings to reign for ever. It is good to serve such a Monarch, Whose service is a throne. The repeated cry for rescue at the beginning of the eleventh verse has led several of the Latin expositors to point the words differently, and to read Save me from the hurtful sword, and from the hand, &c. (A.) And they say that there is a merciful sword, that two-edged blade of the Bible in Old and New Testament, with its mingled threats and promises, cutting the elect away from fellowship with sinners by its wholesome severity in the mouth of wise preachers; and that consequently the false teaching of heretics, is by converse type, the hurtful sword which slays the soul, from which and its wielders the Psalmist implores deliverance in the same words he used before.

12 That our sons may grow up as the young plants: and that our daughters may be as the polished corners of the temple.

The manner in which this verse begins in Hebrew, with a relative אֲשֶׁר, whose antecedent cannot readily be pointed out, has made the grammatical structure exceedingly difficult. The Targum, Aquila, Symmachus, and S. Jerome agree with the English rendering, and the manner in which R. Kimchi explains the construction is as satisfactory as any which have been suggested since his time.* He takes אֲשֶׁר in the sense of Because,* and makes the whole passage an appeal to GOD’S regard for His own work: Because our sons are growing up as the young plants, and so forth, do not suffer all this peace and prosperity to be laid waste with fire and sword, but protect Thine heritage from the hurtful sword of the strange children. According to this view, which is the more probable, the whole latter portion of the Psalm refers to the blessings conferred by GOD on His people.* And the scholar will remember Plutarch’s simile, “For man is a plant, not rooted in the earth, and immoveable, but heavenly, whose head stands erect upon the body, as though springing from a root, and is turned towards heaven.” But the great bulk of the ancient versions take it quite otherwise. LXX., Syriac, Æthiopic, and Vulgate agree in reading Whose sons grow up, &c., and. understand all that follows until the last verse of all as a description of the worldly prosperity of the ungodly, which is the sense in which the whole body of ancient commentators expound the passage.* Their sons grow up as the young plants, not like the stately old trees rooted in the traditional teaching of the Prophets, (C.) Apostles, and the Fathers, in the deep soil of historical Christianity, but springing up in a weedy crop of new errors from a thin and artificial soil. They are not, like the young olive trees of a former Psalm,* round about the table of the LORD, but are stablished by their youth only, having that as their sole apparent strength which is in truth their weakness, as it is written: “Rejoice, O young man, in thy youth; and let thy heart cheer thee in the days of thy youth, and walk in the ways of thine heart, and in the sight of thine eyes; but know thou, that for all these things GOD will bring thee into judgment.”*

And this sense is intensified by the Vulgate rendering plantations,* because in mere nursery-grounds no plant remains long enough to get old, and the notion of never coming to maturity is thus very forcibly put forward. They commonly explain these sons to be the thoughts of the ungodly, and the daughters of the next clause to be their words. These are made up (compositæ), that is, artificial, and outwardly adorned (circumornatæ), so as to be in the likeness of the Temple.* The commentators dwell here on four things; (C.) that only sons, and not daughters, are mentioned in that Psalm which described the Church,* to signify that frail and unstable thoughts and teaching have no place there;* that such thoughts as false teachers have are not simple and natural,* but artificial and factitious; that though skilfully coloured with rhetorical ornaments and show of wisdom and piety, it is only round about the outside, and not inwardly at all:

Sed videt hunc omnis domus et vicinia tota

Introrsum turpem, speciosum pelle decorâ.*

But his whole house and all the country side,

Sees his foul heart within his comely hide.

And they are in the likeness of the temple, (G.) because they have a certain specious resemblance to the teaching of the Church,* whereas they are the synagogue of Satan.* Titelman applies the words to the elaborate costume, the painted faces, rich attire, and jewelled ornaments of the women, resembling those of gaudy statues in an idol-temple,1 and deserving such censure and punishment as that proclaimed by the Prophet to the daughters of Zion.*

One of the later commentators observes that there is no doubt that the Hebrew points with delight to all these tokens of prosperity,* as befitting the Old Testament system of temporal reward, but that the rendering adopted by the Seventy, which has affected the exposition of the Church, is better fitted to the Gospel dispensation, which teaches man to make light of earthly blessings, and to look forward to those of heaven. And he is so far right that it would be no light thing to discard the lessons which Christians drew during thirteen hundred years uninterruptedly from this sadder view of the passage. Nevertheless, it is not unfit to point out the more recent interpretation which reverts to the original Hebrew exposition.* Our sons, then, designed for active, out-of-doors life, are compared to young plants, carefully tended in the ground of a skilful gardener, watered, trained, pruned, as they may need; our daughters, designed for the stiller life of home, polished with all graceful refinement, all Christian courtesy, till they are like to the corner-stone, JESUS CHRIST Himself, and fitted to adorn, as beautiful columns, some kingly palace (A. V.), for “him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the house of My GOD, and he shall go no more out.”* And both these processes of growth and polish, can be carried on in one place only, the Church of CHRIST.

13 That our garners may be full and plenteous with all manner of store: that our sheep may bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our streets.

The Saints, says Origen,* are like “the fowls of the air, they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your Heavenly FATHER feedeth them.”* All manner of store.* Literally from kind to kind, containing a great variety of things. The LXX. and Vulgate read bursting forth from this to that, which the Targum explains to mean from one year to another, and is taken by some to mean so full that the contents have to be put into more barns than one. And the interpretation found here is that the garners denote the learning and system of false teachers, (C.) who pass with a show of wisdom and argument from one subject to another,* or from the Old Testament to the New, (R.) while their unfortunate disciples, numerous and simple as sheep, follow them in their goings-out (ἐξόδοις, egressihus),* in their quitting the sheepfold, in their departure from the Church, in their abandonment of the Faith, in their non-entrance into life. Yet again, passing to the most ancient exposition, we may see here the storehouses of Holy Writ and of the Church,* having in them all manner of store, wholesome doctrine, wise counsel, necessary correction, proof of truth, refutation of error, explanation of Scripture, abundant communication of divine wisdom, while the thousands and ten thousands of sheep denote the myriads of catechumens as yet in the meadows outside1 the walls of the City,* but soon to be admitted inside, and find pasture in its gardens.

14 That our oxen may be strong to labour, that there be no decay: no leading into captivity, and no complaining in our streets.

This is a very difficult verse, and the versions, ancient and modern, vary much in their renderings. The LXX. and Vulgate read Their oxen are fat, there is no ruin of the wall nor breaking through, nor a cry in their broad places. The A. V. explains the first clause as meaning that the oxen are “able to bear burdens,”* or “loaden with flesh,”* the first of which glosses is untenable, because oxen, though beasts of draught, are not beasts of burden, and the second agrees with LXX.* The Syriac is more probable: Our cattle are great [with young] and there is not a barren one among them, and this agrees with the desire for the fecundity of the sheep expressed just before. No decay. The LXX. is better here, no breach of the wall. And thus it may be taken either of the wall round the sheepfolds and paddocks, guarding the cattle from wild beasts and robbers, or of the city wall, unassaulted by foes, and strong enough to repel them should they come. (Ay.) No leading into captivity. It is simply no going-out, as in A. V., and this may denote no going forth as captives, but more probably means no need to sally forth to drive back an enemy, because there is perfect peace. And no complaining.* (C.) This may be the meaning, as it is in Jer. 14:2, but the notion of the shouting at the sudden attack of a wild beast on the fold, or else of a battle-cry in the city, seems to suit the context better. After thus dealing with the literal meaning of the text, it is time to turn now to the mystical sense. And first, as the sheep denote the ignorant followers of false doctrine,* so the oxen stand for their chiefs and teachers, abounding in temporal prosperity. There is no breach in their wall,* because their systems are so skilfully put together with learning and logic, that it is not possible to pick a hole in the arguments. (B.) There is no passing through, for they hold their disciples captive in their ingenious prison of dialectic; nor can the preachers of righteousness make their way in, so that there is no cry, no proclamation of the Gospel, in the wide spaces which their false teaching shuts in.* It is not in the broad places, but in the narrow way, that the voice of GOD can be heard.* And then, in the good sense, taking the whole passage of the Church, let her oxen, her rulers and teachers, be strong, and fit for labour, treading out the corn of the elect for food, and let there be no breach, no pulling down of her tried bulwarks against false doctrine or evil life, no consequent irruption of heretics and worldlings into her pale, no going forth by the formation of sects or the rejection of belief by any of her members, no cry of alarm at the appearance of some fatal pestilence, some inveterate enemy, within her walls. Not here in this life,—and so far all these Fathers are right in telling us to look away from worldly prosperity,—but in that other yet to come, is the safety of the flock, the learning war no more,* the end of complaining, the return for ever from exile. There, there indeed:

No more the foe can harm,

No more of leaguered camp,*

And cry of night alarm,

And need of ready lamp:

And yet, how nearly he had failed,—

How nearly had that foe prevailed!

The lamb is in the fold

In perfect safety penned:

The lion once had hold,

And thought to make an end;

But One came by with wounded side,

And for the sheep the Shepherd died.

The exile is at home!

O nights and days of tears,

O longings not to roam,

O sins, and doubts, and fears,

What matter now, when (so men say)

The King has wiped those tears away?

15 Happy are the people that are in such a case: yea, blessed are the people who have the LORD for their GOD.

The LXX. and Vulgate, keeping to their view of the whole passage, take the first word here—which is the same as the first in the whole Psalter, אַשְׁדֵי, O the blessednesses—as the expression of the opinion of the ungodly: They called the people blessed which have these things. But we, answer the Saints, say rather, Blessed are the people who have the Lord for their God. The Syriac version produces the same effect by making the first clause a question: Are not the people blessed that are in such a case? and then comes the answer as before. (Ay.) We blame not all these things as though they were evil in themselves, but we blame those who place their happiness in possessing them. Many Saints of GOD have had them, but they used them as only means to an end, not as being themselves the end. (A.) “I ask you, O ye faithful, ye members of CHRIST,” cries S. Augustine here, “do you not think to have stalwart sons, fair and graceful daughters, full stores, abundant cattle, no ruin, I will not say of a wall, but of so much as a hedge, no disturbance nor anger in your wide places, but quiet, peace, plenty, abundant stores in your houses, in your cities, that all this is happiness, or that the righteous ought to shun them? Was not Abraham’s house well stored with gold and silver, with servants, and children, and cattle? Did not holy Jacob come back from service, after he had fled from Esau’s face into Mesopotamia, enriched with great store of cattle and children? What shall we say then? is not this happiness? Happiness it is, but of the left hand, because temporal, corporal, mortal. I would not have you flee it, nor yet think it to be the right hand. Men are not necessarily vain or wicked because they abound in such things, but because they set on the right hand that which ought to be on the left. Wherefore it is said, ‘Their right hand is a right hand of iniquity,* therefore their mouth speaketh vanity.’ What ought they to have put in the right hand? GOD, eternity, the unfailing years of GOD. There is one right hand, there ought to be one desire. ‘If riches increase,* set not your heart upon them.’ I blame them not, because their sons are like the young plants, nor because their daughters are adorned in the likeness of the temple, nor because they had other things in plenty and peace to boot. But I do blame them because they said that a people is happy which hath such things. But what sayest thou, David? what, O Body of CHRIST, sayest thou? Blessed is the people whose God is the Lord.”* And therefore it was well said by a faithful Saint of old time, “If I have any possessions, health, reputation, learning, this is all the satisfaction I have of them, that I may have somewhat to despise for CHRIST, Who is Himself altogether lovely, and everything which is lovely.”

Wherefore:

Glory be to the FATHER, Who sent down His hand from above; glory be to the SON, His Right Hand, Who bowed the heavens and came down; glory be to the HOLY GHOST, Who giveth victory unto Kings.

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








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