Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. VIII:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Expositions on the Book of Psalms.: Samech.
112. “I have hated the unrighteous; and Thy law have I loved” (Psa. 119.113). He saith not, I hate the wicked, and love the righteous; or, I hate iniquity, and love Thy law; but, after saying, “I have hated the unrighteous,” he explains why, by adding, “and Thy law have I loved;” to show, that he did not hate human nature in unrighteous men, but their unrighteousness whereby they are foes to the law, which he loveth.
113. He next addeth: “Thou art my helper and my taker up” (Psa. 119.114): “my helper,” to do good works: “my taker up,” to escape evil ones. In the next words, “I have hoped more on Thy word,” he speaketh as a son of promise.
114. But what is the meaning of the following verse: “Away from me, ye wicked, and I will search the commandments of my God”? (Psa. 119.115). For he saith not, I will perform; but, “I will search.” In order, therefore, that he may diligently and perfectly learn that law, he bids the wicked depart from him, and even forcibly driveth them away from his company. For the wicked exercise us in the fulfilment of the commandments, but lead us away from searching into them; not only when they persecute, or wish to litigate with us; but even when they court us, and honour us, and yet expect us to occupy ourselves in aiding their own vicious and busy desire, and to bestow our time upon them; or at least harass the weak, and compel them to bring their causes before us: to whom we dare not say, “Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?” 5298 For the Apostle instituted ecclesiastical judges of such causes, forbidding Christians to contend in the forum. 5299 …Certainly, on account of those who carry on law suits pertinaciously with one another, and, when they harass the good, scorn our judgments, and cause us to lose the time that should be employed upon things divine; surely, I say, on account of these men we also may exclaim in these words of the Body of Christ, “Away from me, ye wicked! and I will search the commandments of my God.”
115. “O stablish me according to Thy word and I shall live: and let me not be disappointed of my hope” (Psa. 119.116). He who had before said, “Thou art my taker up,” prayeth that he may be more and more borne up, and be led unto that, for the sake of which he endureth so many troubles; trusting that he may there live in a truer sense, than in these dreams of human affairs. For it is said of the future, “and I shall live,” as if we did not live in this dead body. While “we await the redemption of our body, we are saved by hope, and hoping for that we see not, we await with patience.” 5300 But hope disappointeth not, if the love of God be spread abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which is given unto us. 5301 And, as though it were answered him in silence, Thou dost not wish to be disappointed of thy hope? Cease not to meditate upon My righteousnesses: and, feeling that this meditation is usually hindered by the weaknesses of the soul, “Help me,” he saith, “and I shall be safe; yea, I will meditate in Thy righteousnesses always” (Psa. 119.117).
116. “Thou hast scorned all,” or, as it seems more closely translated from the Greek, “Thou hast brought to nought all them that depart from Thy righteousnesses: for their thought is unrighteous” (Psa. 119.118). For this reason he exclaimed, “Help Thou me, and I shall be safe; yea, I will meditate in Thy righteousnesses always:” because God bringeth to nought all those who depart from His righteousnesses. But why do they depart? Because “their thought is,” he saith, “unrighteous.” They advance in that direction, while they depart from God. All deeds, good or bad, proceed from the thoughts: in his thoughts every man is innocent, in his thoughts every man is guilty.…
117. The next words in the Psalm are, “I have counted,” or “thought,” or “esteemed, all the ungodly of the earth as transgressors” (Psa. 119.119). In the Latin version many different renderings are given of the Greek ἐλογισ€μην; but this passage hath a deep meaning. For the following words, “Therefore have I ever loved Thy testimonies:” make it far more profound. For the Apostle saith, “The law worketh wrath;” and, explaining these words, he addeth, “For where no law is, there is no transgression:” 5302 thereby showing that not all are transgressors. For all have not the law. That all have not the law, he declareth more explicitly in another passage, “as many as have sinned without law, shall also perish without law.” 5303 What then meaneth, “I have held all the ungodly of the earth as transgressors”? “As transgressors;” or rather “transgressing,” for the Greek saith, παραβαίνοντας, not παραβ€τας.…p. 580 “The law entered that sin might abound.” But since all sins are remitted through grace, not only those which are committed without the law, but those also which are committed in the law; he addeth, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” 5304 …But, indeed, when the Apostle said, “As many as have sinned without law, shall perish without law,” he was speaking of that law which God gave to His people Israel through Moses His servant.…For some even Catholic expositors, from a want of sufficient heedfulness, have pronounced contrary to the truth, that those who have sinned without the law perish; and that those who have sinned in the law, are only judged, and do not perish, as if they should be considered destined to be cleansed by means of transitory punishments, as he of whom it is said, “he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” 5305 …The Psalmist also hath subjoined: “Therefore I loved Thy testimonies.” 5306 As if he should say: Since the law, whether given in paradise, or implanted by nature, or promulgated in writing, hath made all the sinners of the earth transgressors; “Therefore I loved Thy testimonies,” which are in Thy laws of Thy grace; so that not my but Thy righteousness is in me. For the law profiteth unto this end, that it send us forward unto grace. For not only because it testifieth towards the manifestation of the righteousness of God, which is without the law; but also in this very point that it rendereth men transgressors, so that the letter even slayeth, it driveth us to fly unto the quickening Spirit, through whom the whole of our sins may be blotted out, and the love of righteous deeds be inspired. 5307 …
118. The grace of God, then, being known, which alone freeth from transgression, which is committed through knowledge of the law, he saith, in prayer, “Fix with nails my flesh in Thy fear” (Psa. 119.120). For this some Latin interpreters have literally rendered the Greek καθήλωσον, which that language has expressed in one word. Some have preferred to render by the word confige, without adding clavis; and while they thus desire to construe one Latin by one Greek word, have failed to express the full meaning of the Greek καθήλωσον, because in confige nails are not mentioned, but καθήλωσον cannot be taken but of nails, nor can “fix with nails” be expressed without using two words in Latin.…Hath he added, “For I have feared Thy judgments”? What meaneth, “Fix me in Thy fear: for I have feared”? If he had already feared, or if he was now fearing, why did he still pray God to crucify his flesh in His fear? Did he wish so much additional fear imparted to him as would suffice for crucifying his flesh, that is, his carnal lusts and affections; as though he should say, Perfect in me the fear of Thee; for I have feared Thy judgments? But there is here even a higher sense, which must, as far as God alloweth, be derived from searching the recesses of this Scripture: that is, in the chaste fear of Thee, which abideth from age to age, let my carnal desires be quenched; 5308 “For I have feared Thy judgments,” when the law, which could not give me righteousness, threatened me punishment.…For the inclination to sin liveth, and it then appeareth in deed, when impunity may be hoped for. But when punishment is considered sure to follow, it liveth latently: nevertheless it liveth. For it would rather it were lawful to sin, and it grieveth that what the law forbiddeth, is not lawful; because it is not spiritually delighted with the blessing of the law, but carnally feareth the evil which it threateneth. 5309 But that love, which casteth out this fear, feareth with a chaste fear to sin, although no punishment follow; because it doth not even judge that impunity will follow, since from love of righteousness it considereth the very sin itself a punishment. With such a fear the flesh is crucified; since carnal delights, which are forbidden rather than avoided by the letter of the law, are overcome by the delight in spiritual blessings, and also when the victory is perfected are destroyed.
Luke xii. 14.579:5299
1 Cor. vi. 1-6.579:5300
Rom. viii. 23-25.579:5301
Rom. v. 5.579:5302
Rom. iv. 15.579:5303
Rom. ii. 12.580:5304
Rom. v. 20.580:5305
[A fundamental objection to the doctrine of purgatory.—C.]580:5306
[The author adds: “Some copies read always, some do not. If it be correct, it must be understood to mean, during our present life on earth.”—C.]580:5307
2 Cor. iii. 6.580:5308
Ps. xix. 9.580:5309
[Hence “attrition” is not sufficient to obtain remission.—C.]
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