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Psalm XCIII.43404340     Lat. XCII. A sermon to the people.

1. …It is entitled, “The Song of praise of David himself, on the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded.” Remembering then what God did through all those days, when He made and ordained all things, from the first up to the sixth day (for the seventh He sanctified, because He rested on that day after all the works, which He made very good), we find that He created on the sixth day (which day is here mentioned, in that he saith, “before the Sabbath”) all animals on the earth; lastly, He on that very day created man in His own likeness and image. For these days were not without reason ordained in such order, but for that ages also were to run in a like course, before we rest in God.43414341     [Compare p. 103, supra.—C.] But then we rest if we do good works. As a type of this, it is written of God, “God rested on the seventh day,” when He had made all His works very good.43424342     Gen. i. and ii. 1–3. For He was not wearied, so as to need rest, nor hath He now left off to work, for our Lord Christ saith openly, “My Father worketh hitherto.”43434343     John v. 17. For He saith this unto the Jews, who thought carnally of God, and understood not that God worketh in quiet, and always worketh, and is always in quiet. We also, then, whom God willed then to figure in Himself, shall have rest after all good works.…And because these good works are doomed 457to pass away, that sixth day also, when those very good works are perfected, hath an evening; but in the Sabbath we find no evening, because our rest shall have no end: for evening is put for end. As therefore God made man in His own image on the sixth day: thus we find that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the sixth age, that man might be formed anew after the image of God. For the first period, as the first day, was from Adam until Noah: the second, as the second day, from Noah unto Abraham: the third, as the third day, from Abraham unto David: the fourth, as the fourth day, from David unto the removal to Babylon: the fifth period, as the fifth day, from the removal to Babylon unto the preaching of John. The sixth day beginneth from the preaching of John, and lasteth unto the end: and after the end of the sixth day, we reach our rest. The sixth day, therefore, is even now passing.43444344     [See Barnabas, A.N.F. vol. i. p. 146.—C.] And it is now the sixth day, see what the title hath; “On the day before the Sabbath, when the earth was founded.” Let us now listen to the Psalm itself: let us enquire of it, how the earth was made, whether perhaps the earth was then made: and we do not read so in Genesis. When, therefore, was the earth founded? when, unless when that which hath been but now read in the Apostle taketh place: “If,” he saith, “ye are stedfast, immovable.” 43454345     1 Cor. xv. 58. When all who believe throughout all the earth are stedfast in faith, the earth is founded: then man is made in the image of God. That sixth day in Genesis signifieth this.…

2. “The Lord reigneth, He is clothed with beauty; the Lord is clothed with strength, and is girded” (ver. 1). We see that He hath clothed Himself with two things: beauty and strength. But why? That He might found the earth. So it followeth, “He hath made the round world so sure, that it cannot be moved.” Whence hath He made it so sure? Because He hath clothed Himself in beauty. He would not make it so sure, if He put on beauty only, and not strength also. Why therefore beauty, why strength? For He hath said both. Ye know, brethren, that when our Lord had come in the flesh, of those to whom He preached the Gospel, He pleased some, and displeased others. For the tongues of the Jews were divided against one another: “Some said, He is a good Man; others said, Nay, but He deceiveth the people.”43464346     John vii. 12. Some then spoke well, others detracted from Him, tore Him, bit and insulted Him. Towards those therefore whom He pleased, “He put on beauty;” towards those whom He displeased, “He put on strength.” Imitate then thy Lord, that thou mayest become His garment: be with beauty towards those whom thy good works please: show thy strength against detractors.…

3. Perhaps we should enquire respecting this word also, why he said, “He is girded.” Girding signifieth work: for every man then girdeth himself, when he is about to work. But wherefore did he use the word præcinctus, instead of cinctus? For he saith in another Psalm,43474347     Ps. xlv. 3. “Gird Thee with Thy sword upon Thy thigh, O Thou most mighty: the people shall fall under Thee:” using the word accingere, not cingere, nor præcingere: this word being applied to the act of attaching anything to the side by girding it. The sword of the Lord, wherewith He conquered the round world by killing iniquity, is the Spirit of God in the truth of the word of God. Wherefore is He said to bind His sword around His thigh? In another place, on another Psalm we have spoken in another manner of girding: but nevertheless, since it hath been mentioned, it ought not to be passed over. What is the girding on of the sword around the thigh? He meaneth the flesh by the thigh. For the Lord would not otherwise conquer the round world, unless the sword of truth came into the flesh. Why therefore is He here said to be girded in front (præcinctus)? He who girdeth himself before, placeth something before himself, wherewith he is girded; whence it is said, He girded Himself before with a towel, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. Because He was humble when He girded Himself with a towel. He washed the feet of His own disciples. But all strength is in humility: because all pride is fragile: therefore when He was speaking of strength, he added, “He is girded:” that thou mayest remember how thy God was girded in humility, when He washed His disciples’ feet. 43484348     John xiii. 4–15. …After He had washed their feet, again He sat down; He said unto them, “Ye call me Lord and Master: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; how ought ye also to do to one another’s feet?” If therefore strength is in humility, fear not the proud. The humble are like a rock: the rock seems to lie downwards: but nevertheless it is firm. What are the proud? Like smoke: although they are lofty, they vanish. We ought therefore to ascribe our Lord’s being girded to His humility, according to the mention of the Gospel, that He was girded, that He might wash His disciples’ feet.

4. …“ For He hath made the round world sure, which cannot be moved.”…What then is the round world, “which cannot be moved”? This He would not mention specially, if there were not also a round world that can be moved. There is a round world that shall not be moved. 458There is a round world that shall be moved. For the good who are stedfast in the faith are the round world: that no man may say,43494349     As the Donatists. they are only in part of it; while the wicked who abide not in faith, when they have felt any tribulation, are throughout the whole world. There is therefore a round world movable: there is a world immovable: of which the Apostle speaketh. Behold, the round world movable. I ask thee, of whom speaketh the Apostle in these words, “Of whom is Hymenæus and Philetus; who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already: and overthrow the faith of some?”43504350     2 Tim. ii. 17–19. Did these belong to the round world, that shall not be moved? But they were chaff: and as he saith, “they overthrow the faith of some.”…“Nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure; having his seal,”—what seal hath it as its sure foundation?—“ The Lord knoweth them that are His.” This is the round world that shall not be moved; “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” And what seal hath it? “And let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from unrighteousness.” Let him depart from unrighteousness: for he cannot depart from the unrighteous, for the chaff is mixed with the wheat until it is fanned.…

5. “Thy throne is established from thence, O Lord” (ver. 2). What is, “from thence”? From that time. As if he said, What is the throne of God? Where doth God sit? In His Saints. Dost thou wish to be the throne of God? Prepare a place in thy heart where He may sit. What is the throne of God, except where God dwelleth? Where doth God dwell, except in His temple? What is His temple? Is it surrounded with walls? Far from it. Perhaps this world is His temple, because it is very great, and a thing worthy to contain God. It contains not Him by whom it was made. And wherein is He contained? In the quiet soul, in the righteous soul: that is it that containeth Him.…He who said, “Before Abraham was, I am:”43514351     John viii. 58. not before Abraham only, but before Adam: not only before Adam, but before all the angels, before heaven and earth; since all things were made through Him: he added, lest thou, attending to the day of our Lord’s nativity, mightest think He commenced from that time, “Thy throne is established, O God.” But what God? “Thou art from everlasting:” for which he uses ‡π’ αἰῶνος, in the Greek version; that word being sometimes used for an age, sometimes for everlasting. Therefore, O Thou who seemest to be born “from thence,” Thou art from everlasting! But let not human birth be thought of, but Divine eternity. He began then from the time of His birth; He grew:43524352     Luke ii. 40, 52. ye have heard the Gospel. He chose disciples, He replenished them, His disciples began to preach. Perhaps this is what he speaketh of in the following verse.

6. “The floods lift up their voices” (ver. 3). What are these floods, which have lift up their voices? We heard them not: neither when our Lord was born, did we hear rivers speak, nor when He was baptized, nor when He suffered; we heard not that rivers did speak. Read the Gospel, ye find not that rivers spoke. It is not enough that they spoke: “They have lift up their voice:” they have not only spoken, but bravely, mightily, in a lofty voice. What are those rivers which have spoken?…The Spirit itself was a mighty river, whence many rivers were filled. Of that river the Psalmist saith in another passage, “The rivers of the flood thereof shall make glad the city of God.”43534353     Ps. xlvi. 4. Rivers then were made to flow from the belly of the disciples, when they received the Holy Spirit: themselves were rivers, when they had received that Holy Spirit. Whence did those rivers lift their voices? wherefore did they lift them up? Because at first they feared. Peter was not yet a river, when at the question of the maid-servant he thrice denied Christ: “I do not know the man.”43544354     Matt. xxvi. 69–74. Here he lieth through fear: he lifteth not his voice as yet: he is not yet the river. But when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the Jews sent for them, and enjoined them not to preach at all, nor to teach in the name of Jesus.…For when the Apostles had been dismissed from the council of the Jews, they came to their own friends, and told them what the priests and elders said unto them: but they on hearing lifted up their voices with one accord unto the Lord, and said, “Lord, it is Thou who hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is;”43554355     Acts iv. 24. and the rest which floods lifting up their voices might say, “Wonderful are the hangings of the sea” (ver. 4). For when the disciples had lifted up their voices unto Him, many believed, and many received the Holy Spirit, and many rivers instead of few began to lift up their voice. Hence there followeth, “from the voices of many waters, wonderful are the hangings of the sea;” that is, the waves of the world. When Christ had begun to be preached by so powerful voices, the sea became enraged, persecutions began to thicken. When therefore the rivers had lift up their voice, “from the voices of many waters, wonderful” were “the hangings of the sea.” To be hung aloft is to be lifted up; when the sea rages, the waves are hung as from above. Let the waves hang over as they choose; let the sea roar as it chooseth; the hangings of the sea indeed are mighty, mighty are the threatenings, 459mighty the persecutions; but see what followeth: “but yet the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.” Let therefore the sea restrain itself, and sometime become calmed; let peace be granted by Christians. The sea was disturbed, the vessel was tossed; the vessel is the Church: the sea, the world. The Lord came, He walked over the sea, and calmed the waves. How did the Lord walk over the sea? Above the heads of those mighty foaming waves. Principalities and kings believed; they were subdued unto Christ. Let us not therefore be frightened; because “the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier.”

7. “Thy testimonies, O Lord, are very surely believed” (ver. 5). The Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier than the mighty overhangings of the sea. “Thy testimonies are very surely believed.” “Thy testimonies,” because He had said beforehand, “These things I have spoken unto you, that in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation.”…He added, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”43564356     John xvi. 33. If then He saith, “I have overcome the world,” cling unto Him who overcame the world, who overcame the sea. Rejoice in Him, because the Lord, who dwelleth on high, is mightier, and, “Thy testimonies are very surely believed.” And what is the end of all these? “Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!” Thine house, the whole of Thine house, not here and there: but the whole of Thine house, throughout the whole world. Why throughout the whole of the round world? “Because He hath set aright the round world, which cannot be moved.”43574357     Ps. xcvi. 10. The Lord’s house will be strong: it will prevail throughout the whole world: many shall fall: but that house standeth; many shall be disturbed, but that house shall not be moved. Holiness becometh Thine house, O Lord!” For a short time only? No. “Unto length of days.”


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