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that account the more perilous, until they be disturbed and tempered by the cross. The cross is the safest of all things.-- Blessed is he who understands me!
Verse 3.- I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Sela.
In the Hebrew, the verb is in the future, and is, as Hieronymus translates it, “I will cry,' and," he shall hear :' and this pleases me better than the perfect tense : for they are the words of one triumphing in, and praising and glorifying, God; and giving thanks unto him who sustained, preserved, and lifted him up, according as he had hoped in the preceding verse. For it is usual with those that triumph and rejoice, to speak of those things which they have done and suffered, and to sing a song of praise unto their helper and deliverer : as in Psalm Ixvi. 16, “Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul. I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with
my tongue.” And also Psalm lxxxi. 1, “Sing aloud unto God our strength.” And so again Exod. XV. 1, “Let us sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously.” And so here, being filled with an overflowing sense of gratitude and joy, he sings of his being heard, of his having slept and rose up again, of his enemies being smitten, and of the teeth of the ungodly being broken. This it is which causes the change : for he who hitherto had been addressing God in the second person, changes on a sudden his address to others concerning God, in the third person : saying, “and he heard me," not, “and thou heardest me:' and also “I cried unto the Lord,” not · I cried unto thee:' for he wants to make all know, what benefits God has heaped upon him : which is peculiar to a grateful mind.
But however, that expression of the Hebrew in the future, ‘I will cry,' and, he shall hear me,' carries greater force with it than “I cried,' in the perfect; though the future does not exclude the perfect, but very forcibly includes it. And, (that I may set forth the mind of the speaker if I can,) his feelings seem to be
something of this kind.~' I who have now experienced how good and sweet the Lord is, how far he is from forsaking and despising those who cry unto him, how faithfully he sustains, preserves, and lifts up all who call upon him,~I who have experienced these things, will so carry myself towards him henceforth, that I will flee unto him only with the greatest confidence. I will not be afraid even of thousands of the people : for I am prepared to hope in him, even though many more and greater things are to be borne, than those which I have borne already: and as Job saith, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him.” This is that God in whom all may confidently trust, and concerning whom they may be assured no one has any reason to despair. O unhappy they, who, when broken with either the multitude or the magnitude of evils, do not understand how powerfully, how wonderfully, and how gloriously this God saves those that cry unto him!'
That such were his feelings, is manifest from what follows, “ I will not be afraid of ten thousands of the people.” And again, “ Salvation is of the Lord.” And so also with the same feelings he says, Psalm xxxiv. 1, “I will bless the Lord at all times." As if he had said, • Fool that I have been! for hitherto I have blessed the Lord at one time only; that is, in the time of prosperity and quiet; for I did not know how powerful he was in the time of adversity also : therefore, from this time forward, I will bless him in the time of evil also.' For there are some who will praise God at the time when all things go well, according to that word, 'He will confess unto thee as long as thou doest good unto him. But in the time of temptation they so draw back, that they will flee unto any thing rather than unto God. In a word, they cannot even cry unto him, much less praise and bless him. But we are here taught, that in the time of the cross, we ought to sing forth that of Psalm xviii. 3, “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from mine enemies :" that God may then be sweet unto thee and be loved by thee, when he seems to be the most dis
pleasing and the most worthy of being hated. This is the love of God that is pure and solid. And this is what Isaiah saith, chap. xlviii. 9, “ With my praise will I restrain thee, that thou perish not.” For the heart is bound and restrained with this praise in the midst of the waters and storms of temptation, that it fall not away from the love of God. But all these things are the operations of the Holy Spirit, and not of nature: they were accomplished all perfectly in Christ, and are wrought and exemplified in all those who are Christ's.
With respect to the words, “my voice," — Augustine, and after him Cassiodorus, think that they are not to be understood as meaning the corporeal voice, but “the voice of the heart;' that is, the voice of the heart that is truly pure: and they are led to this acceptation of the words from the pronoun “my:" because, that is not the man's real voice, which is interrupted by impure thoughts when in prayer. And I think this is the true meaning of the passage. And yet I do not consider that the corporeal voice is excluded; because, when the feelings are powerful, the voice cannot contain itself, but will burst forth into words and expressions. For even Christ, when on the cross, cried out with a corporeal voice, and has taught us also to cry out in our straits : so that, we may thus cry unto God with all our powers, both inward and outward.
“ From his holy hill.”—I find this “ hill” to be variously understood. Some understand Christ here as speaking concerning himself; others concerning his allhigh divinity; and others give the passage other acceptations. I seem to be best pleased with understanding it to signify the “ hill” of his all-high divinity: only, you are to observe, (I speak in my bold way,) that this "hill" has no name. For in the second Psalm he spoke of the “ holy hill of Zion," upon which he was set up as King: and therefore the “hill” was there to have a name, because he could not rule upon it without its being known by name. But this “ hill” from which he is heard, is unnameable, and has neither form nor name.
And I conceive that
by this we are all taught, that in the time of temptation we ought to hope the divine help from above; but that the time, manner, and nature of the help are unknown to us; that so, there may be room for faith and hope, which always rest upon those things that are neither seen nor heard, and that never entered into the heart of man. Thus, the eye of faith looks toward the deep darkness and blackness of the hill, and sees nothing; excepting that, it is fixedly directed upwards, expecting that help will come unto it from thence. It looks up on high, and from on high expects a helper: but what this on high is, or what help it shall get, it knows not. For although Christ knew all things, yet he was in all things tempted as we are; so that he himself, in a certain sense, and in respect of his humanity, had this hill unknown to him and incomprehensible, during the hour of his passion : for he speaks of this same thing also in another place, Psalm xxii. 3, “ But thou dwellest in thy holy place,” that is, in thy hidden and unapproachable secrecy. For as God is ineffable, incomprehensible, and inaccessible, so are his will and his help also, especially in the time of desertion.
But what this “holy hill” of God is, no words can express : nor can any one come to the least apprehension of it but he who is brought to experience it by faith, and to prove it for himself in the times of temptation. It is the same as if he had said, "He heard from his holy hill : (which is the common rendering :) he heard me in an ineffable, incomprehensible manner, and in a manner that I never thought of. I know that I was heard from above, but how, I know not. He saved me from above, and received me from on high, (as we shall hereafter hear him speak,) but what this above' and this' on high' is, I know not.'--And it is the same when God leaves us and does not hear us: for we know not where the Spirit goes, nor whence he comes, though we hear his voice when he speaks to us : as Christ saith John iii. : and Job also, chap. ix. 11, saith, " Lo, he goeth by me, and I see him not: he passeth on also, but I perceive him not.” “ And so, says Christ,
is every one that is born of the Spirit.” He departeth when the Spirit departeth ; that is, he is left alone when the Spirit leaves him: and he cometh when the Spirit cometh; that is, he is heard when the Spirit heareth : and yet he knoweth neither the one nor the other, nor how it is wrought upon him.
And this is what is contained in the word “holy," which, as I have already shown; signifies separate and secret; and, in a word, that which can be touched heither by sense nor by the powers of the natural mind; and into which whosoever is taken, is taken into the invisible God, and is all-perfectly purified, separated, and sanctified. But this is hard to be received by, and unbearable to, human nature ; unless the Spirit of the Lord move upon these waters, and brood over the darkness of this abyss, until the light shine.
The folly lies here,--that man endures not the counsel of God, but wants to be helped at the time, and in the way that he himself chooses, and that pleases him : whereby he makes, out of the unmoveable hill of God
, a hill that has a name, and profanes the holy hill of God, by touching it with his own thoughts as much as lies in his power. And such an one is like the horse of the mule: he endures the Lord as long as he feels and understands him, but will not follow him beyond the limits of his own understanding, because, he does not live by faith, but by his own reason.-All this is proved by examples contained in all the histories both of the Old and New Testaments, as the Apostle has shown us in Hebews xi.: in which examples we find that God always so saves his saints, that they know nothing of the way, manner, and time of the salvation. Salvation comes to all from on high, and from above, unlooked-for, and unexpected.
Hence, it is most rightly said, “ from his holy hill :” that is
, from his all-high divinity. But all do not understand what they say when they speak of this all-high divinity. For to be heard from the all-high divinity, is, as I have said, to be heard in an unheard-of, unthoughtof manner: so that nothing was less thought of than