Sing unto God, you kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:
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Augustine of Hippo
37. "There shall come ambassadors out of Egypt, Ethiopia shall prevent the hands of Him" (ver. 31). Under the name of Egypt or of Ethiopia, he hath signified the faith of all nations, from a part the whole: calling the preachers of reconciliation ambassadors. "For Christ," he saith, "we have an embassy, God as it were exhorting through us: we beseech you for Christ to be reconciled to God." Not then of the Israelites alone, whence the Apostles were chosen, but also from the rest of the nations that there should be preachers of Christian peace, in this manner hath been mystically prophesied. But by that which he saith, "shall prevent the hands of Him," he saith this, shall prevent the vengeance of Him: to wit, by turning to Him, in order that their sins may be forgiven, lest by continuing sinners they be punished. Which thing also in another Psalm is said, "Let us come before the face of Him in confession." As by hands he signifieth vengeance, so by face, revelation and presence, which will be in the Judgment. Because then, by Egypt and Ethiopia he hath signified the nations of the whole world; immediately he hath subjoined, "to God (are) the kingdoms of the earth." Not to Sabellius, not to Arius, not to Donatus, not to the rest of the bulls stiff-necked, but "to God (are) the kingdoms of the earth." But the greater number of Latin copies, and especially the Greek, have the verses so punctuated, that there is not one verse in these words, "to God the kingdoms of the earth," but, "to God," is at the end of the former verse, and so there is said, "Ethiopia shall come before the hands of her to God," and then there followeth in another verse, "Kingdoms of the earth, sing ye to God, psalm ye to the Lord" (ver. 32). By which punctuation, doubtless to be preferred by the agreement of many copies, and those deserving of credit, there seemeth to me to be implied faith which precedeth works: because without the merits of good works through faith the ungodly is justified, just as the Apostle said, "To one believing in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness:" in order that afterwards faith itself through love may begin to work. For those alone are to be called good works, which are done through love of God. But these faith must needs go before, so that from thence these may begin, not from these this. ...This is faith, whereof to the Church Herself is said in the Song of Songs, "Thou shalt come and shalt pass hence from the beginning of faith." For She hath come like the chariot of God in thousands of men rejoicing, having a prosperous course, and She hath passed over from this world to the Father: in order that there may come to pass in Her that which the Bridegroom Himself saith, who hath passed hence from this world to the Father? "I will that where I am, these also may be with Me:" but from the beginning of faith. Because then in order that good works may follow, faith doth precede; and there are not any good works, save those which follow faith preceding: nothing else seemeth to have been meant in, "Ethiopia shall come before the hands of her to God," but, Ethiopia shall believe in God. For thus she "shall come before the hands of her," that is, the works of her. Of whom, except of Ethiopia herself? For this in the Greek is not ambiguous: for the word "of her" there in the feminine gender most clearly hath been put down. And thus nothing else hath been said than "Ethiopia shall come before her hands to God," that is, by believing in God she shall come before her works. For, "I judge," saith the Apostle, "that a man is justified through faith without the works of the Law. Is He God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles?" So then Ethiopia, which seemeth to be the utmost limit of the Gentiles, is justified through faith, without the works of the Law. ...For the expression in Greek, xeira authj, which most copies have, both of "hand of her" and "her own hand" may be understood: but that which is uncommon in the Greek copies, xeiraj authj, by both "hands of her" and "her own hands," in Latin may be expressed.