Surely there is a vein for the silver, and a place for gold where they refine it.
All Commentaries on Job 28:1 Go To Job 28
Gregory The Dialogist
39. In silver the power of speaking, in gold brightness of life or of wisdom is used to be denoted. And because heretics are so filled with pride for the brilliancy of their speaking, that they are not based firmly by any authority of the sacred books, (which books are for speaking like a kind of veins of silver to us, because from those identical books we derive the spring and source of our speaking,) he recalls them to the pages of sacred authority, that if they have a desire to speak in a true way, they may from that source draw forth what to say. And he saith, The silver hath the beginning of its veins, and to the gold there is a place, where they fine it.
As if he said in plain words; ‘He that is fitting himself for the words of true preaching, the originals of the cases he must of necessity derive from the sacred page, so as to bring round every thing that he speaks to a foundation of divine authority, and in that set firm the edifice of his own speaking. For, as we before said, oftentimes heretics, whilst they are eager to prop up what is bad of their own, broach things which assuredly are not maintained in the page of the sacred books. And hence the great Preacher admonishes his disciple, saying, O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane novelties of speaking [1 Tim. 6, 20], for whereas heretics long to be extolled as if for excellency of wit, they as it were bring out new things which are not maintained in the old books of the ancient Fathers, and thus it follows, that whilst they desire to appear wise, they scatter seeds of foolishness to their wretched hearers.
40. And it is well added; And to the gold there is a place, where they fine it. As if he said in plain terms; ‘The true wisdom of believers, which has the Church Universal for its place, undergoes tribulation by you persecuting her, but from all the dross of sins by the fire of your persecution she is purified.’ Whence it is written; For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity. [Ecclus. 2, 5] In which passage this too may be appropriately taken for the meaning, that for their foolish suffering heretics might seem to be rebuked. For oftentimes for the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer, they suffer much, and by those same sufferings they look for themselves to become His martyrs. To which persons it is now said by the voice of the holy man; and to the gold there is a place, where they fine it. For according to that which has been already said even before us, he that suffers out of the unity of the Church, punishments he may suffer, but a Martyr he cannot be made; for ‘to the gold there is a place, where they fine it.’ What then, ye heretics, say ye to these things? Ye are minded to be ‘fined’ by the afflicting of the flesh, nay even by martyrdom, but the place where ye must be fined, ye know not. Hear ye what is spoken by the voice of the holy preacher. ‘To the gold there is a place, where they fille it.’ So then, seek ye this ‘place for the fining,’ this furnace, wherein the gold may be fitly purged, find ye out.
41. There is one Church, .in which he that may have attained to be fined, may likewise be purified from all the dross of sins. If for the sake of God ye undergo aught of bitterness, if aught of tribulation, being without her pale, ye can only be burnt, ye cannot be purified. Let Jeremiah tell, let him tell in what way the fire of your fining is void of all efficacy. The finer melteth in vain; for their wickednesses are not done away [Jer. 6, 29]. See how the fire externally melting at once administers a punishment of hard suffering, and yet does not clear off the sin of misbelief; it both furnishes torments of cruel punishments, and does not cause additions of good merits. Moreover the fire of this fining which is undergone out of the Catholic Church, how utterly it is void of all efficacy the Apostle Paul instructs us, when he says, And though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. [1 Cor. 13, 3] For some think wrong things touching God, and others hold what is right about the Creator, but do not maintain unity with their brethren; the one are sundered by erroneousness of faith, and the others by the commission of schism. And hence in the very first part of the Decalogue the sins of both sides are checked, seeing that it is said by the voice of God, And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. [Mark 12, 30. 31. Deut. 6, 5] And it is immediately added, And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. For whoso imagines what is wrong about God, surely it is evident that he does not ‘love God.’ But he who while he entertains right notions about God is divided from the unity of the Holy Church, it is plain that he does not love his neighbonr, whom he refuses to have for his fellow.
42. Whosoever, then, is divided from this unity of the Church our Mother, either through heresy in entertaining wrong notions concerning God, or by the erroneousness of schism in not loving his neighbour, is bereft of the grace of that charity, concerning which Paul saith what we have before given; And though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. As if he expressed himself in plain utterance; ‘Without the bounds of its place, the fire of fining being applied to me only afflicts me with torment, and does not purify me by its cleansing.’ This place all they that are lovers of holy peace seek with heartiest endeavours, this on seeking they find, this finding they keep, knowing the remission of sin, as to where, or when, or to what sort it is vouchsafed. For where is it, save in the bosom of our Catholic Mother? When, but before the day of coming departure? Because, Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. [2 Cor. 6, 2] And, Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near. [Is. 55, 6] To what sort of persons, but to the converted, who after the imitating of little children are fashioned by humility as their mistress? To whom it is said; Suffer little children to come unto Me, and forbid them not; for of such is the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 19, 14] And, Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. [Matt. 18, 3] And therefore, because there are no true martyrs made saving in the Catholic Church, it is rightly said, To the gold there is a place where they fine it. Because the soul would not be made bright in the radiance of everlasting beauty, except, so to say, it were first burnt here in the workshop of charity.
43. Moreover, we are to consider that there are some whom Almighty God by His secret counsel preserving in innocency from their very beginnings promotes to the topmost heights of virtuous attainments, that, as their age increases, both numerousness of years and loftiness of merits should simultaneously advance in them. But others abandoning in their outset He suffers to go with bad habits fermenting by headlong ways. . Yet for the most part even these He has regard to, and for the following after Him He kindles them with the fire of holy love, and the itchings of bad propensities engrained in their hearts He converts into a fervour of virtue, and they are the more set on fire to the desire of beseeching the pitifulness of God, in proportion as they are the more ashamed at the recollection of their own wickedness; as it often happens, that in the conflict of the fight the soldier, who is placed before the eyes of his leader, basely yields to the enemy’s valour, and that whilst he powerlessly turns his back he is struck; yet nevertheless being ashamed of this very thing that he has done [2 Mss. ‘yeilded.’] disgracefully before his leader’s eyes, from the mere sense of shame he gathers greater force; and afterwards executes deeds of Prowess, to so high a degree that he may at once achieve present credit of his valour, and cover past disgrace of weakness. In a like way, these persons are sometimes more actively established in the service of God by consequence of past weakness, and such persons for the keeping of His commandments both the desire of things future draws on, and the remembrance of things past urges forward, that on the one side affection to that which is to come should stimulate, and on the other shame for that which is past spur on. Which same however, while the enemies of the Church see to be endowed with the highest virtues, and in their present life cannot any way find out that whereby they may derogate from their merit, they set themselves to impeach them of the past, as the Manichaean assails our Moses, in whom he endeavours to soil with the sin of a past homicide the grace of subsequent virtuous attainments; in whom he heeds not how patient he was afterwards to endure, but how precipitate he was before to strike.