Let the stars of its twilight be dark; let it look for light, but have none; neither let it see the dawning of the day:
All Commentaries on Job 3:9 Go To Job 3
Gregory The Dialogist
44. For the stars of this night are overshadowed with darkness, when even they that already shine with great virtues, still bear something of the dimness of sin, while they struggle against it, so that they even shine with great lustre of life, and yet still draw along with unwillingness some remains of the night. Which as we have said is done with this view, that the mind in advancing to the eminence of its righteousness, may through weakness be the better strengthened, and may in a more genuine manner shine in goodness by the same cause, whereby, to the humbling of it, little defects overcloud it even against its will. And hence when the land of promise now won was to be divided to the people of Israel, the Gentile people of Canaan are not said to be slain, but to be made tributary to the tribe of Ephraim; as it is written, The Canaanites dwelt in the midst of Ephraim under tribute. [Jos. 16, 10. V.] For what does the Canaanite, a Gentile people, denote saving a fault? And oftentimes we enter the land of promise with great virtues, because we are strengthened by the inward hope that regards eternity. But while, amidst lofty deeds, we retain certain small faults, we as it were permit the Canaanite to dwell in our land. Yet he is made tributary, in that this same fault, which we cannot bring under, we force back by humility to answer the end of our wellbeing, that the mind may think meanly of itself even in its highest excellencies, in proportion as it fails to master by its own strength even the small things that it aims at. Hence it is well written again, Now these are the nations which the Lord left, to prove Israel by them. [Jud. 3, 1] For it is for this that some of our least faults are retained, that our fixed mind may ever be practising itself heedfully to the conflict, and not presume upon victory, forasmuch as it sees enemies yet alive within it, by whom it still dreads to be overcome. Thus Israel is trained by the Gentile people being reserved, in that the uplifting of our goodness meets with a check in some very little faults, and learns, in the little things that withstand it, that it does not subdue the greater ones by itself.
45. Yet this that is said, Let the stars thereof be overshadowed with darkness, may also be understood in another sense; for that night, viz. consent to the sin, which was derived to us by the transgression of our first parent, has smitten our mind's eye with such a dimness, that in this life's exile, beset by the darkness of its blinded state, with whatever force it strain after the light of eternity, it is unable to pierce through; for we are born condemned sinners after punishment has begun [post poenam], and we come into this life together with the desert of our death, and when we lift up the eye of the mind to that beam of light above, we grow dark with the mere dimness of our natural infirmity. And indeed many in this feeble condition of the flesh have been made strong by so great a force of virtue, that they could shine like stars in the world. Many in the darkness of this present life, while they shew forth in themselves examples above our reach, shine upon us from on high after the manner of stars; but with whatsoever brilliancy of practice they shine, with whatever fire of compunction they enkindle their hearts, it is plain that while they still bear the load of this corruptible flesh, they are unable to behold the light of eternity such as it is. So then let him say, Let the stars thereof be overshadowed with darkness; i.e. ‘let even those in their contemplations still feel the darkness of the old night, of whom it appears that they already spread the rays of their virtues over the human race in the darkness of this life, seeing that, though they already spring to the topmost height in thought, they are yet pressed down below by the weight of the first offence. And hence it comes to pass that at the same time that without they give specimens of light, like the stars, yet within, being closely encompassed by the darkness of night, they fail to mount up to the assuredness of an immoveable vision. Now the mind is often so kindled and inflamed, that, though it be still set in the flesh, it is transported into God, and every carnal imagination brought under; and yet not so that it beholds God as He is, in that, as we have said, the weight of the original condemnation presses upon it in corruptible flesh. Oftentimes it longs to be swallowed up, just as it is, that if it might be so, it might attain the eternal life without the intervention of the bodily death. Hence Paul, when he ardently sought for the inward light, yet in some sort dreaded the evils [damna] of the outward death, said, For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burthened, for that we would not be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. [2 Cor. 5, 4. Vulg.] Therefore holy men long to see the true dawn, and, if it were vouchsafed, they would even along with the body attain that deep of inmost light. But with whatever ardour of purpose they may spring forth, the old night still weighs upon them, and those eyes of our corruptible flesh, which the crafty enemy has opened to concupiscence, the just Judge holds back from the view of His inward radiance. And hence it is well added,
Let it look for light and have none, neither let it see the dawning of the day.
46. For with whatever strength of purpose the mind, while yet in this pilgrimage, labours to see the Light as It is, the power is withheld, in that this is hidden from it by the blindness of its state under the curse. [Now the ‘rising of the dawn’ is the brightness of inward truth, which ought to be ever new to us. And this the night assuredly seeth not, because our infirmity, blind by reason of sin, and still placed in the corruptible flesh, mounts not up to that light wherewith our fellow citizens above are already irradiated. For the rising of this dawn is in the interior, where the brightness of the Divine Nature is manifested ever new to the spirits of the Angels, and where that bliss of light is as it were ever dawning, which is never brought to an end.] [Note: this bracketed portion is found only in the Edition of Gussanville, and there without any notice to shew where it comes from. (Ben.) It is not in the Oxford Mss.] But the rising of the dawn, is that new birth of the Resurrection, whereby Holy Church, with the flesh too raised up, rises to contemplate the sight of Eternity; for if the very Resurrection of our flesh were not as it were a kind of birth, Truth would never have said of it, In the Regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of His glory. [Matt. 19, 28] This then, which He called a regeneration, He beheld as a rising. But with whatever virtue the Elect now shine forth, they cannot pierce to see what will be that glory of the new birth, wherewith they will then mount up together with the flesh to contemplate the sight of Eternity. Hence Paul says, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. [1 Cor. 2, 9] Let him say then, Let it look for light and have none, neither let it see the dawning of the day. For our frail nature, darkened by its spontaneous fault, penetrates not the brightness of inward light, unless it first discharge its debt of punishment by death.