Behold, he put no trust in his servants; and his angels he charged with folly:
All Commentaries on Job 4:18 Go To Job 4
Gregory The Dialogist
68. Though the Angelical nature, by being fixed in contemplation of the Creator, remains unchangeable in its own state, yet hereby, that it is a created being, it admits in itself the variableness of change. Now to be changed is to go from one thing into another, and to be without stability in one's self. For every single being tends to some other thing by steps, as many in number as it is subject to motions of change. And it is only the Incomprehensible Nature, which knows not to be moved from its fixed state, in that It knows not to be changed from this, that It is always the Same. For if the essence of the Angels had been strange to the motion of change, being created well by its Maker, it would never have fallen in the case of reprobate spirits from the tower of its blessed estate. But Almighty God in a marvellous manner framed the nature of the highest spiritual existences good, yet at the same time capable of change; that both they, that refused to remain, might meet with ruin, and they, that continued in their own state of creation, might henceforth be stablished therein more worthily in proportion as it was owing to their own choice, and become so much the more meritorious in God's sight, as they had staid the motion of their mutability by the stablishing of the will. Whereas then this very Angelical nature too is in itself mutable, which same mutability it has hereby overcome, in that it is bound by the chains of love to Him, Who is ever the Same, it is now rightly said, Behold, His servants are not stedfast. And there is forthwith added a proof of this same mutability, in that it is brought in from the case of the apostate spirits, And in His Angels He found folly. And from the fall of these He rightly draws the consideration of human frailty, when he appends thereto; How much more in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation, is earthly, which shall be consumed as by the moth. For we inhabit houses of clay, in that we subsist in earthly bodies. Which Paul considering saith well; But we have this treasure in earthen vessels. [2 Cor. 4, 7] And again, For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands. [5, 1] ‘The earthly foundation’ too is the substance of the flesh; which the Psalmist had earnestly contemplated in himself, when he said, My bones are not hid from Thee, which Thou madest in secret, and my substance in the lower parts of the earth. [Ps. 139, 15] Now the moth springs from the garment, and in its production destroys that very garment, whereupon it is produced. And the flesh is as a kind of garment to the soul, but this same garment has withal its moth, in that from itself there arises carnal temptation, whereby it is rent and torn. For our garment is as it were consumed by a kind of moth of its own, in that the corruptible flesh engendereth temptation, and by this is brought to destruction. Man is consumed as if by a moth, in that he has arising from himself that, whereby he is to be broken in pieces. As though it were in plain words, 'If those spirits cannot be of themselves unchangeable, which are kept down by no infirmity of the flesh, by what inconceivable temerity do men account themselves to hold on stedfastly in good, who, wherein they have their understanding elevating them on high, have the clog of carnal frailty acting as an impediment to them, so that through the evil, of a corrupting tendency they contain a cause in themselves, whence they turn old from the interior newness?
69. The holy Doctors may likewise be understood by ‘the Angels,’ according as it is said by the Prophet, For the Priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth, far he is the Angel [Angelus] of the Lord of hosts. With whatever degree of virtue these may shine, they can never be altogether without sin, so long as they are engaged in the journey of this life, in that their step is doubtless brought into contact either with the mire of unlawful practice, or with the dust of the thought of the heart. Now they ‘dwell in houses of clay,’ who rejoice in this ensnaring life of the flesh. Paul had been brought to contemn the inhabiting this house of clay, when he said, But our conversation is in heaven. [Phil. 3, 20] Let him say then, Behold, His servants are not stedfast, and in His Angels He hath found folly: how much more in them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are consumed as by the moth? As if he had said in plain words, ‘If the pathway of the present life cannot be passed through without defilement by those, who proclaiming the things of eternity, gird themselves up to encounter those of time, what evils do they undergo, who rejoice to be plunged in the delights of the fleshly habitation? ‘For His servants are not stedfast,’ for when the mind strains toward things on high, it is dissipated by the conceits of its own flesh, so that oftentimes whilst the mind pants after the things of the interior, while it looks at heavenly objects alone, smitten by a momentary carnal delight, it lies low severed from itself, and he that felt joy that he had surmounted the hindrances of his frailty, prostrated by an unexpected wound, is only filled with woe. Perverseness then is found even in His Angels, so long as those very men, who proclaim His truth, the surprisals of a deceitful life do at times lie heavy on. So then if even those are smitten by the wickedness of this world, whom a holy purpose presents erect against the same, with what strokes are not they pierced, whom nothing less than [ipsa] delight in their frailty brings to the ground before its darts? And these are well described to be ‘consumed,’ as it were, ‘with a moth.’ For a moth does mischief, and makes no sound. So the minds of the wicked, in that they neglect to take account of their own losses, lose their soundness, as it were, without knowing it. For they are losing innocency from the heart, truth from the lips, continency from the flesh, and in the course of time, life from the sum of their age. But they see not one whit that they are unceasingly letting go these same, in that they are busied with all their heart in temporal concerns. Thus they are ‘consumed as it were with a moth,’ in that they suffer the canker of sin without sound, whilst they remain ignorant what losses in life and innocency of heart they are undergoing.