Job 38:36

Who has put wisdom in the inward parts? or who has given understanding to the heart?
All Commentaries on Job 38:36 Go To Job 38

Gregory The Dialogist

AD 604
9. Who else are designated in this place by the name of the cock, but these same holy preachers, mentioned again in another way, who strive amid the darkness of this present life to announce by their preaching, as if by their notes, the approaching light? For they say; the night is far spent, but the day is at hand. [Rom. 13, 12] Who by their voices arouse the sleep of our sluggishness, exclaiming; It is now the hour for us to arise from sleep. [ib. 11] And again; Awake, ye righteous, and sin not. [1 Cor. 15, 34] Of this cock it is written again; There be three things that go well, and a fourth which goeth prosperously: a lion, the strongest of beasts, will not be afraid at the onset of any; a cock girt in the loins; and a ram, whom there is no king who can resist. [Prov. 30, 29-31] For He is in this place mentioned as a lion, of Whom it is written; The lion of the tribe of Judah hath prevailed, [Rev, 5, 5] Who is called the strongest of beasts, because in Him the weakness of God is stronger than men. Who is not afraid at the onset of any one; for He says; The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me. [John 14, 30] The cock girt in the loins, that is, holy preachers announcing the true morn amid the darkness of this night. Who are girt in the loins, because they keep away from their members the looseness of lust. For it is in the loins in truth that there is lust. Whence it is said to the same persons by the Lord: Let your loins he girt about. [Luke 12, 35] And a ram, whom there is no king who can resist. Whom else in this place do we understand by a ram, but the first rank of priests in the Church? Of whom it is written: Bring to the Lord the offspring of rams; [Ps. 29, 1] who lead the people which is walking after their examples like a flock of sheep following them. And whom, if they live spiritually and rightly, no king is at all able to resist; because whatever persecutor may stand in their way, he is not able to hinder their intention. For they know both how to run anxiously to Him, Whom they long for, and to come to Him by dying. The lion is therefore placed first, the cock second, the ram last. For Christ appeared, next the holy preachers, the Apostles, and then at length the spiritual fathers, the rulers of the Churches, the leaders, namely, of the flocks, because they are the teachers of the peoples who follow them. 10. But we enforce these points still better, if we subjoin an exposition of the remainder of the same passage. For since after these things Antichrist will also appear, he added there a fourth point, saying; And he who appeared a fool, after he had been lifted up on high. For if he had understood, he would have laid his hand on his mouth. [Prov. 30, 32] For he in truth will he lifted up on high when he will feign that he is God. But he will appear a fool when lifted up on high, because he will fail in his very loftiness through the coming of the true Judge. But if he had understood this, he would have laid his hand on his mouth: that is, if he had foreseen his punishment, when he began to be proud, having been once fashioned aright, he would not have been raised up to the boastfulness of such great pride. And let not that move us which has been said of him above; A fourth, which goeth prosperously. For he said that three went well, and a fourth prosperously. For not every thing which goeth ‘prosperously’ goeth ‘well,’ nor in this life does every thing which goeth ‘well,’ go ‘prosperously.’ For a lion, a cock, and a ram, go indeed well: but not prosperously here, for they suffer the assaults of persecutions. But the fourth goeth prosperously, and not well: because Antichrist will go on in his craft, but his craft will be prosperous for a short space of this present life, as was said of him under the person of Antiochus by Daniel; Strength was given him against the continual sacrifice by reason of transgression, and truth shall be cast down in the earth, and he shall do and shall prosper. [Dan. 8, 12] That which Solomon says, goeth prosperously: this Daniel says, shall prosper. According to this testimony therefore which is stated by Solomon, A cock girt in its loins, we fitly understood in this place also holy preachers by the cock. The Lord therefore referring all things to Himself, says; Who hath placed wisdom in the inward parts of a man? or who hath given the cock understanding? As if He were saying, Who hath infused into the heart of a man, who savours of human things, the grace of heavenly wisdom? Or who, but Myself, hath given understanding even to holy preachers themselves, to know when, or to whom, they ought to announce the coming morn? For they understand both what to do, and when, for the very reason that they know it, through My revealing it, within. But it must he observed, that divinely inspired wisdom is placed in the inward parts of a man; because, doubtless, as far as concerns the number of the Elect, it is given not in voices only, but also in the thoughts, in order that the conscience may live according to what the tongue speaks, and that its light may shine forth the more brightly on the surface, the more truly it glows in the heart. 11. But it is a matter of great labour to examine with still more minute exposition, that which is added; Or who hath given the cock understanding? For the understanding of teachers ought to be the more subtle, the more it exercises itself in penetrating things invisible, the more it discusses nothing material, the more, even when speaking by the voice of the body, it transcends every thing which is of the body. For it would not, in truth, be at all suited to the loftiest subjects, did not the Creator Himself of things above, bestow it on the cock which crows, that is, on the teacher who preaches. The cock also received understanding, first to distinguish the hours of the night season, and then at last to utter the awakening voice. Because, in truth, every holy preacher first considers in his hearers the quality of their life, and afterwards frames the voice of preaching, fitted to instruct them. For to decide on the qualities of sins is, as it were, to distinguish the hours of night, to reprove the darknesses of actions with fit voices of reproof is, as it were, to distinguish the hours of night. Understanding is therefore given to the cock from above, because to the teacher of truth there is given from above the virtue of discretion, for him to know to whom, what, when, or how to introduce his instruction. 12. For one and the same exhortation is not suited to all; because the same kind of habits does not bind all. For those things that benefit some, often hurt others. For frequently even herbs, which refresh some animals, kill others, and a gentle hiss pacifies horses, urges on dogs; and medicine which lessens one disease, gives strength to another: and bread which strengthens the life of the strong, destroys that of the young. The speech therefore of teachers ought to he fashioned according to the quality of the hearers, in order to suit each class according to their own case, and yet never to fail in the art of general edification. For what are the attentive minds of hearers, but certain strings which are strained tight in a harp? which the skilful performer touches in different ways, that they may not produce a discordant sound. And the strings give back an harmonious sound, because they are struck with one plectrum, but with different force. Whence also every teacher, in order to build up all in one virtue of charity, ought not to touch the hearts of his hearers with one and the same exhortation. 13. For men must he admonished in one way, and women in another; the young in one way, the old in another; in one way the poor, and in another the rich; in one way the cheerful, and in another the gloomy; in one way subjects, in another rulers; in one way servants, in another masters; in one way the wise of this world, in another the dull; in one way the shameless, in another the modest; in one way the insolent, in another the retiring; in one way the impatient, in another the patient; in one way the well-wishing, in another the envious; in one way the pure, in another the unclean; in one way the healthy, in another the sick; in one way those who fear the rod, and therefore live innocently, in another way those who have become so hardened in iniquity, as not to be corrected by the rod; in one way those who are over silent, in another those who give themselves to much talking; in one way the timid, in another the bold; in one way the sluggish, in another the hasty; in one way the gentle, in another the angry; in one way the humble, in another the haughty; in one way the obstinate, in another the inconstant; in one way the gluttonous, in another the abstinent; in one way those who mercifully give away their own, in another those who strive to seize others’ goods; in one way those who neither seize the goods of others, nor yet give away their own; and in another those who both give away their own goods which they have, and desist not from seizing those of others; in one way those who are at variance, in another those who are reconciled; in one way those who sow strifes, in another the peaceful. Those who do not rightly understand the words of the sacred Law must be admonished in one way, in another those who understand them rightly, but speak not of them humbly; in one way those who though they are able to preach in a worthy manner, are afraid from excessive humility, in another those whom imperfection or age excludes from preaching, and whom yet precipitation urges on; in one way those who prosper in their temporal desires, in another way those who desire indeed the things of the world, but who yet are wearied with the toil of adversity: in one way those who are bound in wedlock, in another way those who are free from the bonds of wedlock; in one way those who have had experience of carnal commixtion, in another way those who are ignorant of it; in one way those who deplore the sins of their deeds, in another those who deplore the sins of their thoughts; in one way those who lament their sins and yet do not abandon them, in another those who abandon but yet do not lament them: in one way those who even praise the unlawful deeds which they commit, in another those who blame their misdeeds, and yet do not avoid them; in one way those who are overcome with sudden concupiscence, in another those who are deliberately fettered with sin; in one way those who commit frequently unlawful deeds though most trifling, and in another those who guard themselves against trifling faults but are sometimes overwhelmed in grievous ones; in one way those who do not even begin good courses, in another those who do not complete what they have begun; in one way those who sin secretly and do right publicly, in another those who conceal the good deeds which they do, and who yet by some things they do publicly allow people to think evil of them. We ought indeed to mention minutely what course of advice should be observed in each particular case, but are hindered by fear of prolixity in our remarks. [S. Greg. Naz. Or. 2. §. 28.] But we are anxious to carry that out in another work [The ‘Pastorale.’], by God’s help, if some small portion of this painful life still remains to us. 14. But we have another point which we ought to consider concerning this understanding of the cock, namely, that it is accustomed to utter its louder and longer-drawn strains in the deeper hours of the night, and that when the hour of morn is now approaching, it utters altogether more gentle and feeble notes. And a consideration of the discretion of preachers shews us what the understanding of this cock in these respects suggests to us. For when they are preaching to minds which are still wicked, they declare the terrors of eternal judgment with loud and great voices, because, namely, they cry out, as it were, in the darkness of the profound night. But when they know that the light of truth is already present to the hearts of their hearers, they turn the loudness of their cry into the gentleness of sweetness; and bring forth, not so much the terrors of punishment, as the allurements of rewards. And they sing at that time even with diminished tones, because as the morn approaches, they preach all the subtlest mysteries, that their followers may hear more minutely of heavenly things, the nearer they approach to the light of truth, and that the shorter note of the cock may charm those when awake, whom its long drawn note had aroused from sleep; in order that every one who has been corrected, may delight in knowing minutely the sweets of heaven, who used before to dread adversities from the judgment. Which is well expressed by Moses, when the trumpets are ordered to sound a shorter note, for the summoning forth the host. For it is written, Make thee two trumpets of beaten silver. [Numb. 10, 2] And a little after, When a short blast hath sounded, the camp shall be moved. [ib. 5] For the army is led by two trumpets, because the people is called by two precepts of charity to the girding of faith. But they are commanded to be made of silver, in order that the words of preachers may be clear with the brightness of light, and may not confuse the mind of their hearers, by any obscurity of their own. But to be hammered out, for this reason; because it is necessary that they who preach the life to come, should grow up by the blows of present tribulations. But it is well said, When the short blast hath sounded, the camp shall be moved: doubtless, because when the word of preaching is more subtilly and minutely enforced, the hearts of the hearers are more warmly excited to meet the contests of temptations. 15. But there is something else to be carefully observed in the cock, namely, that when it is preparing to utter its note, it first flaps its wings, and striking itself, makes itself more wakeful. And this we behold plainly, if we look carefully at the life of holy preachers. For they, when they utter the words of preaching, first exercise themselves in holy actions, that they may not, while themselves slothful in act, arouse others with their voice. But they first rouse themselves by lofty deeds, and then they render others anxious for well-doing. They first strike themselves with the wings of their thoughts, because whatever is slumbering uselessly within them, they discover by anxious examination, they correct with severe punishment. They first take care to punish their own faults by tears, and then denounce those doings of others which demand punishment. They flap with their wings, therefore, before they utter their song, because, before they put forth the words of exhortation, they proclaim by their deeds all that they intend to say: and when they are perfectly awake in themselves, they then summon others who are slumbering to awake. 16. But whence is this great wisdom of the teacher, that he is both perfectly awake in himself, and that he also summons the slumberers to awake with a certain elevation of voice; that he first carefully dispels the darkness of sins, and afterwards manifests discreetly the light of preaching, that he suits each one singly, in manner and in time, and that he shews to all at the same time the result of their doings? Whence is it directed to such great subjects, and with such subtlety, unless it be taught inwardly by Him, by Whom it was created? Because then the credit of such great understanding is not the merit of the preacher, but of his Creator, it is rightly said by the same Creator, Or who hath given the cock understanding? As if He were saying, Except Myself, Who have instructed the minds of teachers, which I marvellously fashioned out of nothing, more marvellously, to understand those things which are secret. Whence also, to shew that He is not only the Inspirer of wisdom in the sayings of teachers, but also the Author of their words
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation - 2 Peter 1:20

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