They go from strength to strength, every one of them in Zion appears before God.
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Augustine of Hippo
10. What then does God supply by His grace to him whom He taketh hold of to lead him on? He goes on to say: "He hath placed steps in his heart." ...Where does it place steps? "In his heart, in the valley of weeping" (ver. 6). So here thou hast for a winepress the valley of weeping, the very pious tears in tribulation are the new wine of those that love. ...They went forth "weeping," he says, "casting their seed." Therefore, by the grace of God may upward steps be placed in thy heart. Rise by loving. Hence the Psalm "of degrees" is called. ..."He hath placed steps of ascent to the place which He hath appointed" (ver. 7). Now we lament; whence proceed our lamentations, but from that place where the steps of our ascent are placed? Whence comes our lamentation, but from that cause wherefore the Apostle exclaimed that he was a wretched man, because he saw another law in his members, warring against the law in his mind? And whence does this proceed? From the penalty of sin. And we thought that we could easily be righteous as it were by our own strength, before we received the command; "but when the command came, sin revived; but I died," saith the Apostle. For a law was given to men, not such as could save them at once, but it was to show them in what severe sickness they were lying. ...But when sin was made manifest by the law given, sin was but increased, for it is both sin, and against the Law; "Sin," saith he, "taking occasion by the command, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence." What does he mean by "taking occasion by the law"? Having received the command, men tried as by their own strength to obey it; conquered by lust, they became guilty of transgression of this very command also. But what saith the Apostle? "Where sin abounded, grace hath much more abounded;" that is, the disease increased, the medicine became of more avail. Accordingly, my brethren, did those five porches of Solomon, in the middle of which the pool lay, heal the sick at all? The sick, says the Evangelist, lay in the five porches. In the Gospel we have and read it. Those five porches are the law in the five books of Moses. For this cause the sick were brought forth from their houses that they might lie in the porches. So the law brought the sick men forth, but did not heal them: but by the blessing of God the water was disturbed, as by an Angel descending into it. At the sight of the water troubled, the one person who was able, descended and was healed. That water surrounded by the five porches, was the people of the Jews shut up in their law. The Lord came and disturbed this people, so that He Himself was slain. For if the Lord had not troubled the Jews by coming down to them, would He have been crucified? So that the troubled water signified the Passion of the Lord, which arose from His troubling the Jewish people. The sick man who believeth in this Passion, like him who descended into the troubled water, is healed thereby. He whom the Law could not heal, that is, while he lay in the porches, is healed by grace, by faith in the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. ...
11. "He shall give blessing," saith he, "who gave the law." ...Grace shall come after the law, grace itself is the blessing. And what has that grace and blessing given unto us? "They shall go from virtue to virtue." For here by grace many virtues are given. "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith, to another the gift of healing, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another prophecy." Many virtues, but necessary for this life; and from these virtues we go on to "a virtue." To what "virtue"? To "Christ the Virtue of God and the Wisdom of God." He giveth different virtues in this place, who for all the virtues which are necessary and useful in this valley of weeping shall give one virtue, Himself. For in Scripture and in many writers four virtues are described useful for life: prudence, by which we discern between good and evil; justice, by which we give each person his due, "owing no man anything," but loving all men: temperance, by which we restrain lusts; fortitude, by which we bear all troubles. These virtues are now by the grace of God given unto us in the valley of weeping: from these virtues we mount unto that other virtue. And what will that be, but the virtue of the contemplation of God alone? ...It follows in that place: "They shall go from virtue to virtue." What virtue? That of contemplation. What is contemplation? "The God of Gods shall appear in Sion." The God of Gods, Christ of the Christians. ...When all is finished, that mortality makes necessary, He shall appear to the pure in heart, as He is, "God with God," The Word with the Father, "by which all things were made."