Mark well, O Job, hearken unto me: hold your peace, and I will speak.
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Gregory The Dialogist
37. He shews what opinion he has of himself by this expression in which he says, Attend, O Job, and hearken unto me, and hold thy peace while I speak. For it is enormous pride to exact respect from one’s elder, and to impose silence on one better than one’s self. But because holy preachers, when reproving others, frequently turn back to their own inmost thoughts, through the grace of humility, and seek to ascertain if perchance they are mistaken, in the very thing which they reprove, and give those, whom they reprove, the liberty of stating, in their own behalf, whatever they think more just, haughty men also sometimes wish to imitate this plan. For putting aside, for a while, their pride in words, they seek for a justification of those whom they reprove, if perchance they are able to find one. Not because it is their real feeling, but they wish to set themselves off by a show of humility. For they are afraid of appearing to be proud and haughty, because they are so. Whence Eliu immediately subjoined, saying, But if thou hast any thing to say, answer me; speak, for I wish thee to appear just. But because he did not say this sincerely, he did not wait to hear that which he had asked for. For he added immediately, But if thou hast not, hear me; hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. For those who sincerely seek to hear what is just, patiently wait to hear what they seek for. But Eliu, because he did not sincerely put forth the words of request, did not allow his question to be answered, but immediately burst forth with that, of which he was full within, and shewed how he stood in his own eyes, by saying, Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. For when proud men say any thing which has a humble sound, they do not long remain in the semblance of this same humility. If they perchance ask to have an answer, they immediately avoid being instructed, by beginning to speak; because the desire of display which springs up from its root in the heart soon checks the words which they had spoken superficially. And they soon prove that this form of humility, which they have assumed in appearance only, is foreign to their character, by being unable any longer to maintain it. Behold how Eliu, when he seeks to learn righteousness, offers to teach it. Behold how his tongue, in seeming to enquire for what is just, had spoken in humble strain. But it was soon unable to restrain his swelling consciousness of pride. For he added immediately. Hold thy peace, and I will teach thee wisdom. But because haughty men are puffed up by swelling pride in what they say, and placed, as it were, on high, assume the appearance of learned men, just as if their words were poured forth from heaven by a kind of condescension, over undeserving persons, a verse is rightly inserted by the writer of this history, in order to observe.