I loathe it; I would not live always: let me alone; for my days are vanity.
All Commentaries on Job 7:16 Go To Job 7
Gregory The Dialogist
45. There be some of the righteous, who so entertain the desire of heavenly things, that, notwithstanding this, they are not broken off from the hope of things earthly. The inheritance bestowed on them by God they keep for the supply of necessities, the honours awarded them on a temporal footing they retain; they do not covet the things of others, they make a lawful use of their own. Yet these are strangers to those same things that they have, in that they are not bound in affection to those very goods which they keep in their possession. And there are some of the righteous, who bracing themselves up to lay hold of the very height of perfection, whilst they aim at higher objects within, abandon all things without, who bare themselves of the goods possessed by them, strip themselves of the pride of honours, who by continuance in a grateful sorrow affect their hearts with longing for the things of the interior, refuse to receive consolation from those that are exterior, who whilst in spirit they drink of the inward joys, wholly extinguish in themselves the life of corporeal enjoyment. For it is said by Paul to such as these, For ye are dead, and your life it hid with Christ in God. [Col. 3, 3] The Psalmist spoke in their voice, when he said, My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord. [Ps. 84, 2] For they ‘long’ but do not ‘faint,’ who are already imbued indeed with heavenly desires, but notwithstanding are still not tired of the enjoyments of earthly objects. But he ‘longeth, yea, even fainteth, for the courts of the Lord,’ who whilst he desires the eternal world, doth not hold on in the love of the temporal. Hence the Psalmist saith again, My soul fainteth for Thy salvation. [Ps. 119, 81] Hence ‘Truth’ bids us by His own lips, saying, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself. [Luke 9, 23] And again; Whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot he My disciple. [Luke 14, 33] Thus the holy man, his soul parted from earthly objects of desire, sets himself in the number of such as those, when he saith, I have given over hope, I will not live any longer. Since for a righteous man ‘to give over hope’ is to quit the good things of the present life, in making choice of eternity, and to put no trust in temporal possessions. And whilst doing this, he declares that he ‘will not live any longer,’ in that by a quickening death he is daily killing himself to the life of passion [f]. For be it far from us to think that the holy man should despair of the bountifulness of God's mercy, that he should withdraw the step of the heart from advancing in the interior way, that forsaking the love of the Creator he should as it were stop on the road lacking a guide, and pierced with the sword of rifling despair, be brought to ruin. But lest we seem violently to wrest his sayings according to the caprice of our own view, we ought to form our estimate of what is promised by that which follows after. For in what sense he said this, he does himself immediately point out, in that he adds,
Spare me, O Lord, [g] for my days are nothing.
46. For neither do the two words agree together, I have given over hope, and, spare me. For he that ‘gives over hope,’ no longer begs to be spared; and he who is still anxious to be spared, is surely far from ‘giving over hope.’ It is on one sort of grounds then that he ‘gives over hope,’ and on another that the holy man prays to be spared; in that whilst he abandons the good things of this transitory life in ‘giving over the hope’ thereof, he rises more vigorous in hope for the securing of those that shall endure. So that in ‘giving over hope,’ he is the more effectually brought to the hope of pardon, who seeks the things to come so much the more determinately, in proportion as he more thoroughly forsakes those of the present time in giving up hope. And we are to take notice, that when teaching us the strength of his heart, he delivered indeed but one sentiment about himself, but in teaching it to us he has repeated it a third time. For what he had said above, My soul chooseth hanging, it was in repeating this, that he added the words, I have given over hope, and in aiming at the blessings of eternity, and putting behind those of time, he last of all brought in this, Spare me. And what he said above, And my bones death, this same it was that he added, I will not live longer, and this he delivered to end with, for my days are nothing. But he lightly considers that his ‘days are nothing,’ because as we have often remarked already a little above, holy men, the more thoroughly they are acquainted with things above, in the same proportion they look down upon the things of earth from a loftier height. And therefore they see that the days of the present life are ‘nothing,’ because they have the eyes of their illumined soul fixed in the contemplation of eternity. And when they return thence to themselves, what do they find themselves to be but dust? And being conscious of their frailty, they are in dread of being judged with severity; and when they regard the force of that vast Energy, they tremble to have it put to the test what they are.