Where is the way where light dwells? and as for darkness, where is its place,
All Commentaries on Job 38:19 Go To Job 38
Gregory The Dialogist
32. Blessed Job is tried with a weighty question, in that he is examined as to the way of light and the place of darkness, whether he should bring them each to their boundaries, and should understand the paths to the house thereof. For what is understood by the word ‘light’ but righteousness? and what is designated by ‘darkness’ but iniquity? Whence it is said to some who had been converted from the wickedness of sins, Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord. [Eph. 5, 8] And it is stated of some who continue in sin, They that sleep, sleep in the night. [1 Thess. 5, 7] It is said therefore to blessed Job, Tell Me, if thou knowest all things, in what path the light dwelleth, and what is the place of darkness? As if it were said to him, If thou imaginest that thou hast perfect wisdom, tell Me, either into whose heart that innocency, which is now wanting, is coming, or in whose heart that wickedness, which now exists, remains. In what path the light dwelleth: that is, whose mind righteousness comes and fills. And what is the place of darkness, that is, in whom does blind iniquity remain. That thou mayest take each of them to the bounds thereof, that is, that thou mayest decide whether he who is now seen to be wicked, finishes his life in iniquity, and whether he who is now seen to be righteous, terminates the conclusion of his life with the perfection of righteousness. And understand the paths to the house thereof: that is, that thou mayest consider and discern, either for whom perseverance in good deeds secures an eternal mansion in the Kingdom, or whom evil habits, binding to the end, condemn to eternal punishment. For ‘house’ is put for resting place, and ‘path’ for conduct. A path therefore leads to a house, because our doings lead on to our resting place. But what man could speak when questioned on these points? who could hear them at least without fear? For we daily see many who shine forth with the light of righteousness, and who are yet at their close obscured with the darkness of wickedness. And we behold many involved in the darkness of sins, and yet at the end of their life suddenly set free and restored to the light of righteousness. We also know that many have preserved entire, even to the end, the path of righteousness which they have once found, and we have beheld that most men have heaped up without ceasing, even to the end, their wickedness which they have once begun.
33. But who, amid these clouds of secret judgments, can so dart forth the light of his mind, as to distinguish with any discernment, either who continues in sin, or who perseveres in righteousness, or who is converted from the highest to the lowest condition, or who relapses from the highest to the lowest? These points are hid from men’s senses, nor is aught known of the end of any one, because the abyss of the divine judgments is not at all penetrated by the eye of the human mind. For we see that that Gentile world which was opposed to God was overspread with the light of righteousness, and that Judaea, long beloved, was darkened with the night of unbelief. We know also that the thief passed from the cross to the kingdom, and that Judas sank into hell from the glory of the Apostleship. And again, because destinies once commenced are sometimes not changed, we know that the other thief arrived at punishment, and that the Apostles enjoyed the appointed kingdom, which they had longed for. Who then can examine in what path light dwells, and what is the place of darkness, to bring each of them to its own bounds, and to understand the paths to the house thereof? I see Paul called from that cruelty of persecution to the grace of Apostleship; and yet he is so alarmed in the midst of secret judgments, as to fear that he be cast away, even after he had been called. For he says, I chasten my body, and bring it into subjection, lest, perchance, having preached to others, I myself should become a cast-away. [l Cor. 9, 27] And again, I count not myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and stretching forth myself unto those things which are before, I follow the destined mark, to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. [Phil. 3, 13. 14.] I follow after, if that I may apprehend that, for which also I am apprehended. [ibid. 12] And it certainly had been already said of him by the voice of the Lord, He is a chosen vessel to Me; [Acts. 9, 15] and yet he still chastens his body, and is fearful of being rejected.
34. Alas for our wretched selves, who have known as yet no voice of God concerning our election, and are still slumbering in ease, as if from security. But there ought, there ought doubtless to be not only security in our hope, but also fear in our conversation, that the one may encourage us in the contest, the other sting us when listless. Whence it is rightly said by the Prophet, Let them that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. [Ps. 115, 11] As if he were openly saying; He presumes in vain on his hope, who refuses to fear God in his doings. But why is blessed Job questioned on so mighty an enquiry, which is utterly unknown by men, how he understands the end of the just and of the unjust, except that he should turn to his own end, from being unable to understand that of others; and that from being ignorant of his own end, as well as others’, he might be afraid at his ignorance, be humbled through his fear; from being humbled might not be elated at his own doings; and from not being elated, might remain stedfast in the citadel of grace? Let it be said then to him, Tell Me, if thou hast understanding, in what path the light dwelleth, and what is the place of darkness, that thou mayest take each of them to the bounds thereof. As if it were said; As thou knowest not who are converted from sin to goodness, nor who turn back from goodness to sin; so also thou dost not understand what is doing towards thyself, as thy merits deserve. And as thou dost not at all comprehend another’s end, so art thou also unable to foresee thine own. For thou knowest now what progress thou hast made thyself, but what I still think of thee in secret, thou knowest not. Thou now thinkest on thy deeds of righteousness; but thou knowest not how strictly they are weighed by Me. Woe even to the praiseworthy life of men, if it be judged without mercy, because when strictly examined, it is overwhelmed in the presence of the Judge, by the very conduct with which it imagines that it pleases Him. Whence it is rightly said to God by the Prophet, Enter not into judgment with Thy servant, for in Thy sight shall no man living be justified. [Ps. 143, 2] Whence it is well said by Solomon, There are righteous and wise men, and their works are in the hand of God: and yet no man knoweth whether he is deserving of love, or of hatred; but all things are kept uncertain for the time to come. [Eccles. 9, 1] Hence again it is said by the same Solomon, What man will be able to understand his own way? [Prov. 20, 24] And any one doing good or evil is doubtless known by the testimony of his conscience. But it is said that their own way is not known to men, for this reason, because even if a man understands that he is acting rightly, yet he knows not, under the strict enquiry, whither he is going. After He has alarmed him then with this consideration of his end, He goes back to examine his beginning: and, that he may not complain wherefore knows he not his end, He mentions also that he does not even understand with what beginning he came hither.