What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?
All Commentaries on Job 21:15 Go To Job 21
Gregory The Dialogist
52. For the mind of man being miserably discharged without, is so dissipated in things corporeal, as neither to return to itself within, nor to be able to think of Him, Who is invisible. Thus carnal men setting at nought spiritual commands, because they do not see God with bodily sight, one time or another come to this pass, that they even imagine Him not to be. Hence it is written, The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. Whence also it is said now, Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? [Ps. 14, 1] For it very often happens that men make it more their aim to serve their fellow-creatures, whom they see with bodily sight, than to serve God, Whom they do not see. For in all that they do, they stretch towards the reach of their eyes, and because they cannot stretch the eyes of the body to God, they either scorn to pay Him homage, or if they begin they grow wearied. For, as has been said, they do not believe Him to be, Whom they do not behold with bodily sight. These, did they but seek God the Author of all things in a spirit of humility, would in themselves experience that a thing which is not seen is better than an object which is seen. For they themselves subsist in being by virtue of an invisible soul and a visible body; but if that which is not seen be withdrawn from them, at once that perishes which is seen. And the eyes of the body indeed are open, but they cannot see or perceive any thing. For the sense of sight is gone, because the indweller has quitted, and the house of the flesh remains empty, since that invisible spirit has departed which was wont to look through its windows. Therefore that invisible things are better than visible ones, all carnal persons ought severally to conclude from themselves, and by this ladder of reflection (so to speak) to mount towards God, seeing that He is even herein that He continues invisible, and continues supreme in proportion as He can never be comprehended. But there are some, who do not doubt either that God is, or that He is incomprehensible, who notwithstanding seek from Him not Himself, but His external gifts. And when they see that these are wanting to those that obey Him, they scorn to obey Him themselves. In relation to whose words it is further added;
And what profit should we have, if we pray unto Him?
53. When, in praying, God is not the object we seek, the mind is soon wearied in praying, in that when a man asks those things, which it may be that God of His secret counsel refuses to bestow, He is Himself brought into loathing, Who will not give the thing which is loved. Now the Lord desires that He may be loved Himself, more than the things which He has made, and that things eternal should be rather prayed for than temporal ones; as it is written, Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. [Matt. 6, 33] For in that He saith not, ‘shall be given,’ but shall be added unto you he plainly shews that what is given as principal is one thing, and what is added over and above, another. For whereas to us the eternal world ought to be in the thought and intent, but the world of time in the use, both the one is ‘given’ and the other ‘added’ over and above in superabundance. And yet it very often happens, that when men pray for temporal good things, but do not look for eternal rewards, they seek the thing that is added, and do not want that whereunto it should be added. Nor do they reckon it to be the worth of their prayer, if here they be poor in things temporal, and there live for everlasting rich in blessedness; but having their eyes fixed on visible things alone, as has been said, they refuse to purchase for themselves the invisible by the labour of beseeching it. Who if they but sought objects above, would ply their labour already with fruit, in that when the mind, employed in prayers, pants after the form and fashion [speciem] of its Maker, burning with divine longings, it is united to that which is above, disjoined from that below, opens itself in the affection of its fervent passion, that it may take in, and while taking in kindles itself: merely to love things above is already to mount on high; and whilst with longing desire, the soul is agape after heavenly objects, in a marvellous way it tastes the very thing it longs to get.