Ambushed by Derrida

September 14, 2011

I was searching for reviews of Furtwängler’s recordings and came across an article on Google Books with the following title: “Of Musical Headings: Toscanini’s and Furtwängler’s Fifth Symphonies, 1939-54.”  My two favorite conductors conducting one of my favorite pieces!  That sounded interesting!  I wondered what it was doing in a book entitled “Thresholds of Western Culture: Identity, Postcoloniality, Transnationalism.”  (Tangent.  I can’t even read that title without laughing.  Postcolonialism is ridiculous to begin with, but what on earth is Postcoloniality???  A tendency toward Postcolonialism?  Probably it doesn’t mean anything except that the authors are SO postmodern that they can’t even bring themselves to refer to a specific theory, but have to dissolve it into tendencies instead.)

Anyway, I’ll spare you an attempt at a synopsis of the article.  Basically, before I knew it, I had been attacked by deconstructionism and its prophet Derrida.  The article blathered on for page after page about Derrida, Heidegger, Derrida, Paul de Man, Derrida, Theodor Adorno, more Derrida, etc.  There was not a single mention of Toscanini, Furtwängler, Beethoven, or the Fifth Symphony.  The style of the author, one Herman Rapaport, is a sophisticated postmodernist joke that doesn’t even rise to the level of sophistry, sprinkled with a few contractions and personal anecdotes, apparently in an effort to make it seem like he’s not intentionally obfuscating.  Sample:

It’s here that L’autre cap‘s thinking on reunification has been extended somewhat, though already in L’autre cap it is apparent that Derrida is asking questions about how Europe is composed as a cosmopolitical space that is always capable of thinking its other at the limit of an infinite questioning that a priori has appeared to have exhausted itself in the name of a democracy to come.

Well, I’m glad that’s cleared up.

So this guy eventually got to Toscanini and Furtwängler, but what I read made only slightly more sense than the first few pages.  For instance, Furtwängler (who is, of course, praised at the expense of Toscanini) receives the following eulogy:

It’s precisely in this acknowledgement of another temporality, never before disclosed in the history of musical conducting, that Furtwängler crosses the limit line of the mercurial or the merely mad for the sake of encountering what Derrida calls the right-to-philosophy, a heading other than the heading in which we thought we were being directed.

Toscanini, on the other hand, is not so fortunate.

His music refuses the kind of atomization and alterity that would allow for a proliferation of hegemonic references.

Silly Toscanini!  You forgot to allow for a proliferation of hegemonic references!  Too bad you didn’t know Derrida (kowtow).

After skimming and struggling my way to the end of the article (I forget how it ended – it probably didn’t, it just stopped – I’m certainly not going to go back and check) – I looked up “Derrida” on Wikipedia.  After recovering from the slight shock induced by his photo, I learned that he “has often been the target of attacks by analytic philosophers.”  “Analytic philosophers,” it seems, is deconstructionalist-ese for “philosophers,” or “people who are at least closer to living in the actual world.”  I clicked on the link to “deconstruction.”  There I learned that although Derrida “carefully avoided directly defining the term” (obviously a writer wouldn’t want to let his readers know what he’s talking about …), deconstruction “can be described as an effort to understand a text through its relationships to various contexts.”  The key, though, is in the sentence before: “There is no truly objective, non-textual reference from which interpretation can begin.”

This is not only the key to understanding Derrida and Deconstructionism: this is a key to understanding all modern (=post-Reformation) thought.  Seen in this context – that’s the context of reality and of history – deconstructionism becomes simply the logical, if impotent and ridiculous, conclusion of modern thought.  Let’s look at this historically – the “evolution of modern thought,” if you like.

First step: 16th century – if you decide you will no longer recognize the divine authority of the teaching Church, you can pick and choose which of the Christian dogmas you like, come up with some of your own that allow you to indulge your personal vices better (Luther, Calvin, Cranmer), and finally apply to this fabricated mixture the reverence you formerly gave to the Church of God.

Next step: (17th century) – you, as a more or less devout Lutheran, Calvinist, etc., begin to think, “Hey, what’s so great about Martin Luther?  What did he know?  For that matter, what do I know?”  (Hold that thought, 17th century skeptic!)

Next step: 18th century: French philosophes – “Ecrasez l’infame” – obliterate Christianity, especially the Catholic Church, and set up a new way of life = revolution.

Then the 19th century, for which I will always have a soft spot.  Many decent men in this century were understandably a bit horrified at the logical and bloody conclusion of the 18th century and its principles, but had unfortunately forgotten how to think, and were unwilling to learn how again.  Thus we get the noble art of the Romantics, who realized, or – more accurately – sensed or intuited, that man is not made for democracy, but for truth and beauty and love and redemption and other good things like that.  Unfortunately very few of them made the connection to the source of truth, beauty, love, and redemption.  They had asked the right questions but didn’t know how to find the answer.  There were a few survivors among the Romantics into the 20th century – among musicians, interestingly, performers lasted longer than composers.  Furtwängler and Toscanini, the last truly great musicians, both stopped conducting in 1954 (the former died, the latter retired and died three years later).

Back at the end of the 19th century, more and more “thinkers” begin to think: “Well, the 18th century was kind of empty and unpleasant, and the Romantic movement doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  What’s the point of it all?  No one has any answers.  Nothing means anything.  God is dead.”  Whereupon the 17th century skeptic, having impatiently restrained himself for 250 years, bursts out: “I TOLD you we don’t know anything.”  To which the logical response would be, “Oh, ok, well then there’s no point in thinking anymore.  I guess I’ll go watch TV.”  Which indeed many people did.  But by this point some people were so confused that they didn’t draw this logical conclusion, and continued to think in ever-increasing complexity, lost at sea, no land in sight, weaving webs of words that eventually lost all possibility of meaning altogether.

Art and music followed suit – “art for the sake of art” (what other purpose can art have, if nothing means anything?); Picasso, Stravinsky, Schoenberg; the article “Who cares if you listen?” by the coincidentally remarkably unpopular Milton Babbitt, people getting paid fortunes for exhibiting a urinal or a bunch of trash bags and calling it “art.”  Then of course there were commentaries, and analyses, and analyses of the commentaries, and commentaries on the analyses, and philosophies of philosophy.  Influences were traced, theories proposed, terms introduced and left undefined; careers were established, chins (and egos) were stroked.  But people had forgotten the reason for thinking.  Thinking had become an end in itself, because, as the skeptics had shown us, there was no other reason to think, and yet somehow people had this strange habit of continuing to think.

This finally reaches the stage where, not only do the thinker’s words and sentences no longer mean anything, but the thinker denies the existence of reality.  Selectively, that is.  My food and clothes are real, and probably luxurious, and very important, but, on the other hand, history, philosophy, art, and basically anything that does not directly affect my bodily comfort has become completely independent of external reality.  I can make things mean whatever I want them to mean!  It’s so exciting!  I’m FREE!!  (Make sure you thank Martin Luther!!)

Where was I?  Oh right, deconstructionism.  This is the most revolting fruit of the process described above.  Why is it so revolting?  Because it ignores reality, or rather directly attacks it.  It is the ultimate system by which I can make words mean anything and nothing, including the exact opposite of what their speaker or writer intended, and get away with it, because nothing is “objective.”  It is perfect, not only for ensuring that no one who comes under its influence will ever have a meaningful thought, but also for destroying the meaning of perfectly logical thoughts that have been handed down to us (“tradition”).

It’s a relief to know that there are many people who have enough common sense to laugh at deconstructionism and postmodernism.  I was surprised to find that Richard Dawkins, the atheist fundamentalist, is one of them.  I found an article of his called “Postmodernism Disrobed,” and agreed with every single thing he said.  He attacks the postmodernists for “playing games,” and implicitly rejects their rejection of the idea that “there is no absolute truth” … “no point of view is privileged.”  (He makes the insightful remark that, if they’re just “playing games,” why do they get so upset when someone plays a joke on them? – like, for instance, Alan Sokal in his famous faked postmodernist paper that got published in a prestigious journal.)  And yet this is the same man who wrote a book entitled “The God Delusion.”  How confused he must be.

Anyway, what struck me about my latest encounter with Derrida and Dawkins is that I realized Dawkins is a better philosopher than Derrida, and is much closer to the truth, even though he doesn’t know it.  First of all, he admits the existence of truth: Derrida, like Pilate, would ask, “What is truth?”  (Except he takes forty books to say it instead of three words.)  Second, Dawkins is aware of the importance of God.  Why would he be so frustrated and furious with what he thinks is the meaninglessness of religion, unless he thought that religion was supposed to mean something, and was deeply troubled that, as far as he can tell, it doesn’t?  A man in such a state of mind is far closer to finding God than a man who writes reams and reams of meaningless words and, if he addresses the idea of God at all, simply (or rather complicatedly) swallows it up in his non-existent “theory” of deconstruction.  (God apparently has something to do with the “undeconstructible” – what a horrible word – which makes sense, but this “God” is apparently very weak, which makes considerably less sense.)

In the midst of all this modern madness, it is important to recall the truth.  The truth is that we are alive because God created us, and God created us because He loved us.  He has no need of us.  He was already perfectly happy in the infinity of time when only He existed, because He is Three Persons, whose mutual love is literally beyond comprehension.  Every single human being who has ever lived, is living, or ever will live, has been chosen and willed to exist by Omnipotent Love; has been loved with an intensity, a continuity, and a faithfulness that is beyond all imagining; has been redeemed by the Incarnation, the entering into His own creation, of the Second Person of the Trinity, and by His Crucifixion, His death by torture to satisfy for our sins against so good and loving a God.  He wants each one of us to spend eternity in heaven with Him, enjoying Him forever.

Heaven is not a place where baby-faced cherubs float around strumming harps.  It is a place where the blessed see uncreated goodness.  If that doesn’t sound exciting, think about all your favorite things in the entire world – a piece of music, a memory, a friend, a sunset, a chocolate bar – add them together, multiply by as large a number as you like, and you will not have gotten anywhere close to an idea of the happiness the vision of God gives.  Add to your favorites the favorite things of all the people who have ever lived and multiply them by a trillion.  Still not close.

God has given us the freedom to choose whether we want that happiness.  He gave the angels one chance.  He gives each one of us countless chances.  When we run away from Him, He follows us.  He wants to save us more than we want to be saved.  But we have to let Him save us.

To let Him save us, we must imitate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who came into this world, suffered and died in order to merit for us eternal happiness and to demonstrate the immensity of God’s love for every person.  This means we must deny ourselves, take up the cross, and submit to the sweet yoke and light burden of the commandments of God.

Today is the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  Christ said, “Once I am lifted up, I will draw all things to myself.”  I pray that everyone will let God draw him to Himself, so that he may say with St. Paul, “I wish to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” and so that on the world’s last day he may hear his Savior saying to him: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.  Enter into the joy of thy master” – an infinite joy that has no end.


Epistola prima Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Corinthios

I.  Agit gratias Deo, pro gratia Corinthiis data, spondetque quod Deus in ea illos confirmabit.  Deinde v. 10. insectatur eorum schisma, quo hic dicebat, Ego sum Pauli; ille, Ego sum Apollo; cum omnes sint Christi.

Tertio, v. 11. radicem schismatis succidit, dum docet non debere Corinthios spectare eloquentiam Apollo, vel alterius prædicatoris; sed rem prædicatam, scilicet crucem, quæ licet Judæis sit scandalum, Gentibus stultitia, fidelibus tamen est Dei virtus et sapientia.

Hinc Quarto, v. 26. consequenter docet Deum non vocasse ad prædicationem et fidem crucis et salutis sapientis, potentes, et nobiles mundi, sed stultos, infirmos et ignobiles Apostolos, aliosque primos fideles, idque ne quis in se, sed tantum in Deo glorietur.


II.  Pergit extollere Christi sapientiam spiritualem super omnem naturalem et animalem.

Unde dicit, Primo, se non aliud scire et prædicare quam Christum crucifixum; idque non in doctis humanæ sapientiæ verbis, sed in ostensione spiritus et virtutis.

Nihilominus Secundo, v. 5. asserit se sapientiam loqui inter perfectos; sapientiam, inquam, mundo absconditam, quam nec oculus vidit, nec auris audivit, sed solus Dei Spiritus revelavit.

Hinc Tertio, v. 14. docet animalem hominem non percipere ea quæ Dei sunt; spiritalem autem omnia percipere et judicare.


III.  Insistit schismati Corinthiorum componendo, per subjectionem et unionem in Christo et Deo.

Unde Primo, docet, Paulum et Apollo tantum esse ministros Christi, additque Ego plantavi, Apollo rigavit: sed Deus incrementum dedit.

Secundo, v. 10. docet, Ecclesiæ fundamentum esse Christum: videat ergo quisque quid illi superædificet: si enim fœnum et stipulam, salvus erit, sic tamen quasi per ignem.

Tertio, v. 16. Vos, inquit, estis templum Dei: videte ergo ne per schismata illud scindatis et violetis.  Ac tandem concludit v. 21. Nemo itaque glorietur in hominibus: omnia enim vestra sunt, vos autem Christi, Christus autem Dei.


IV.  Pergit in schismate, fastu et gloriatione Corinthiorum, ac præsertim Doctorum aliquorum arrogantium, qui Paulum despiciebant, evellendis.

Idque Primo, ostendens se non curare, nec curanda esse hominum judicia, sed solius Dei.

Secundo, v. 7. eorum inflationem redarguit, dicens: Quid habes quod non accepisti?

Tertio et maxime, urget eos, v. 9. suo et aliorum Apostolorum exemplo, qui in omni humilitate, afflictione, et despectu, quasi purgamenta mundi, et peripsema, ubique evangelizabant.

Quarto, premit eos v. 15. tanquam filios suos, quod quasi pater illos genuerit in Christo, minaturque se brevi venturum Corinthum, ut hos pseudodoctores gloriosos et inflatos redarguat et puniat.


V.  Transit Apostolus a schismate Corinthiorum, ad scandalum incestus; itaque Corinthios reprehendit, quod in incestu publice viventem tolererarent; quare ipse eumdem jubet excommunicari, et tradi Satanæ.

Secundo, v. 6. mandat ut hoc et quodlibet aliud peccati fermentum expurgent, quo puri pascha perenne celebrent, et jugiter epulenter in azymis sinceritatis et veritatis.

Tertio, imperat eis, v. 9. ne commisceantur Christianis palam criminosis; nam quod ad Infideles et Paganos attinet, asserit eos non subesse suo et Ecclesiæ judicio.


VI.  Transit Apostolus ad litigia et judicia, arguitque Corinthios, quod lites instituant coram judice Ethnico, easque subinde iniquas et injustas.

Inde Secundo, v. 9. docet, iniquos, quorum varias species enumerat, regnum Dei non possessuros.

Tertio, v. 13. transit ad fornicationem, eamque insectatur multis argumentis.  Colligam ea in fine capitis.


VII.  Respondet Corinthiorum quæstiones de jure matrimonii, et consilio virginitatis ac cælibatus.

Prima quæstio est, An Christiano, utpote jam renato, et sanctificato, liceat matrimonium, ejusque usus?  Respondet Paulus, licere, imo conjugi petenti debitum reddi debere: Uxori, inquit, vir debitum reddat, et uxor viro: adeoque melius esse nubere, quam uri.

Secunda est v. 10. de divortio, An liceat facere divortium?  Respondet Paulus negative.

Tertia est v. 12.  Quid si fidelis conjugem habeat infidelem, potestne cum eo manere et habitare?  Respondet posse, imo debere, si infidelis consentiat pacifice habitare cum fideli.

Quarta est v. 17. An ob christianismum mutandus sit status? ut conjux, v.g. qui servus fuit in paganismo, per christianismum fiat liber; qui Ethnicus fuit, fiat Judæus.  Respondet negative, adeoque quemque in suo statu manere debere.

Quinta est v. 25.  An saltem illæ quæ virgines convertuntur ad Christum, manere debeant virgines?  Respondet, virginitatem nemini præcipi, sed omnibus consuli, quasi matrimonio meliorem ob sex rationes.

Prima est, ob necessitatem præsentis temporis, quod breve nobis datum est ad lucra, non temporalia, sed æterna comparanda: hisce autem comparandis tota insistit virgo, v. 26.

Secunda v. 27. quia conjugatus, conjugio quasi vinculo alligatus est uxori: cælebs autem solutus est et liber.

Tertia v. 28. quia cælebs caret tribulatione carnis, quæ est in conjugio.

Quarta v. 32. quia virgo tantum cogitat quomodo placeat Deo, conjugatus divisum habet cor et curam in uxorem et Deum.

Quinta v. 34. quia virgo sancta est et corpore et spiritu; conjugatus nec corpore, nec spiritu sæpe.

Sexta v. 35. quia cælibatus facultatem præbet virgini sine impedimento Dominum obsecrandi, cum conjugatus mille habeat impedimenta devotionis et pietatis.


VIII.  Tractat secundam quæstionem generalem sibi a Corinthiis propositam de idolothytis, an iis vesci liceat.

Ac respondet Primo, per se id non esse illicitum, cum idolum nihil sit.

Secundo, tamen, docet id esse illicitum, si fiat repugnante conscientia, aut cum scandalo infirmorum, quod valde cavendum esse inculcat.


IX.  Pergit suo exemplo docere, quam sint cavenda scandala, narratque se stipendium, sive alimenta prædicatoribus debita accipere noluisse, idque majoris tum meriti, tum ædificationis causa.

Hinc Secundo, v. 7. probat sex argumentis (quæ colligam v. 12.) hæc alimenta sibi aliisque evangelizantibus deberi.

Tertio, v. 20. eadem de causa ostendit se omnibus omnia esse factum, ut discant Corinthii, quam quæque ædificatio et salus proximi curanda sit.

Quarto, v. 24. ad eamdem ædificationem incitat, docens vitam nostram esse stadium et agonem virtutis, in quo semper ad meliora, et ad bravium jugi abstinentia, et corporis castigatione currendum et certandum est.


X.  Occasione agonis, in quo abstinentes riteque certantes præmiantur, inertes luxuique dediti reprobantur et confunduntur, de quo egit in fine capitis præcedentis; digreditur hic Apostolus ad veterum hebræorum mores, concupiscentias, et vitia, maxime idololatriam; punitionem pariter et reprobationem; ut horum exemplo doceat Corinthios, quam cavenda sint vitia et tentationes, maxime idololatria.

Hinc consequenter, v. 18. descendit et redit ad idolothyta, quæstionemque de iis, c. 8., inchoatam absolvit, ac primo, docet iis non licere vesci, quatenus idolothyta seu idolis immolata sunt: hæc enim esset immolationi et sacrificio idololatrico consentire, et profiteri idololatriam.

Secundo, v. 22. docet non licere idolothytis vesci, ubi infirmiores hac re scandalizantur.  Unde, v. 31. ædificationem maxime Corinthiis commendat, utque omnia in gloriam Dei, et salutem proximorum faciant.


XI.  Transit Apostolus a secunda quæstione de idolothytis ad tertiam quæstionem principalem, de velamine mulierum.  Quæsierant enim Corinthii a Paulo, an mulieres Christianæ essent velandæ, necne?  Respondet hic Paulus eas debere caput velare, maxime dum publice orant, idque probat quinque rationibus.  Prima est, v. 5. et 14. quia hoc exigit honestas et verecundia muliebris.  Secunda, v. 7. et seq. quia subditæ sunt viris.  Tertia, v. 10. quia si nudo capite prodeant, offendent angelos.  Quarta, v. 15. quia natura dedit illis comam pro velamine.  Quinta, v. 16. quia hæc est Ecclesiæ consuetudo.

Altera parte capitis v. 17. agit de cœna Eucharistiæ, carpitque in ea abusum, quod scilicet in agape sive cœna communi divites excluderunt pauperes, et seorsim quisque cum suis genio et ebrietati indulgeret.  Unde v. 23. recenset Eucharistiæ a Christo institutionem, et scelus ac pœnam indigne ad illam accedentium, jubetque ut prius seipsum probet, antequam accedat.


XII.  Transit Apostolus, et tribus seq. capitibus, disputat de gratiis, tum gratis datis, tum gratum facientibus.  Hoc capite docet Primo, gratias gratis datas varie a Spiritu sancto distribui.

Secundo, v. 12. ad hoc utitur exemplo corporis humani, quod licet unum sit, multa tamen et varia habet membra: indeque concludit, quemlibet in Ecclesia suo gradu et gratia contentum, debere illo fungi et uti ad commune bonum; ut quasi membra invicem se omnes juvent et foveant.

Hinc Tertio, v. 28. asserit Christum providisse Ecclesiæ de variis hominum statibus, ut alii sint Apostoli, alii Prophetæ, alii Doctores, etc.


XIII.  Docet inter omnia dona et gratias excellere charitatem.  Primo, ergo, asserit sine charitate nullum donum aut virtutem prodesse.

Secundo, v. 4. enarrat charitatis sedecim conditiones, sive officia in proximos.

Tertio, v. 8. ostendit charitatis præcellentiam ex eo quod etiam permaneat in cœlo, cum fides ibi mutanda sit in visionem, spes in fruitionem.


XIV.  Dono linguarum præfert prophetiam.  Primo, quia prophetia perutilis est ad ædificationem aliorum: linguæ vero non, nisi quis eas interpretetur.

Secundo, v. 21. quia prophetia datur fidelibus: linguæ vero datæ sunt in signum, non fidelibus, sed infidelibus, idque probat ex c. 28. Isaiæ.

Deinde v. 23. tradit normam qua his donis rite utantur, præscribitque ordinem qui servari debeat in sacro Ecclesiæ conventu; in quo v. 34. omnino mulieres silere jubet.


XV.  Probat resurrectionem mortuorum contra pseudodoctores eam negantes.

Primo, ex eo quod Christus resurrexit.  Deinde v. 23. tradit ordinem resurrectionis.

Secundo, v. 29. resurrectionem probat auctoritate eorum qui baptizantur pro mortuis.

Tertio, v. 35. docet, quale futurum sit corpus in resurrectione.  Unde v. 42. assignat quatuor dotes corporis gloriosi.

Quarto, v. 51. docet, quod omnes resurgemus, sed non omnes immutabimur, quodque in resurrectione, quæ fiet in momento canente tuba, mors plane aborbebitur.


XVI.  Jubet fieri collectam pro pauperibus Hierosolymitanis.

Secundo, v. 10. commendat eis Timotheum, et v. 15. Stephanum, Achaicum, et Fortunatum.

Tertio, v. 19. suos salutat, et v. 22. iis qui non diligunt Christum, intentat anathema maran atha.


Romans: Chapter synopses

January 16, 2011

Epistola Beati Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos

I.  Paulus commendans suum apostolatum et Evangelium, salutat Romanos, eosque visere, et eis prædicare exoptat.

Hinc Secundo, v. 16. docet Evangelium et fidem Christi esse virtutem Dei in salutem omni credenti: justum enim ex fide vivere.

Unde Tertio, v. 18. docet Ethnicos ante Christum, licet Deum ex creaturis agnoverint, non tamen eum, sed idola coluisse, indeque a Deo traditos in reprobum sensum, in abominanda, quæ hic recenset, scelera incidisse.  Docet ergo, omnes ante Christum, peccatis et iræ Dei fuisse obnoxios; ut inde concludat, omnes eguisse Evangelio, fide et gratia Christi Redemptoris.

II. Idem docet de Judæis, quod cap. 1. docuit de Gentibus, scilicet eos esse in peccatis, et egere fide et gratia Christi.

Primo ergo redarguit Judæos, qui ex data sibi lege Gentiles quasi peccatores condemnabant, cum ipsi eadem patrarent.  Unde docet Deum justum judicem cuique tam Judæo, quam Gentili redditurum secundum opera.

Hinc Secundo, v. 13. asserit non auditores sed factores legis justificari, atque non solos Judæos, sed et Gentes habere legem a natura sibi inditam.

Tertio, v. 17. arguit Judæos, quod ex lege sua alios doceant, non seipsos; quodque faciant eadem, quæ in aliis carpunt.

Quartuo, v. 25. docet circumcisionem veram esse, non externam, sed internam, quæ consistit in observatione legis; quæ est circumcisio cordis in spiritu, non littera; coram Deo, non coram hominibus.

III.  Ex dictis cap. 1 et 2. concludit, omnes homines, tam Judæos, quam Gentiles, esse sub peccato, et egere gratia Christi.

Primo ergo, ne Judæos offendit, dicit eos præcellere Gentibus in eo, quod Judæis credita sint eloquia et promissa Dei, quæ Deus fideliter adimplet, etiamsi nonnulli eorum fuerint et sint increduli: est enim Deus verax; omnis autem homo mendax.

Secundo, v. 9. æquat Judæos Gentibus, in eo quod omnes sint sub peccato, idque multis Scripturæ testimoniis probat.

Tertio, v. 20. docet eosdem a peccato liberari et justificari, non ex operibus legis, in quibus gloriabantur Judæi, sed ex fide in Christum propitiatorem.

IV.  Pergit probare exemplo Abrahæ, non per opera legis aut naturæ, sed per fidem Christi, omnes justificari.  Ita Origen. et Oecumen.

Primo ergo urget illa verba Genes. xv. Credidit Abraham Deo: et reputatum est illi ad justitiam.

Secundo, v. 10 docet hæc verba dicta esse Abrahæ, ante datam ipsi circumcisionem quam postea Abraham accepit, ut esset signaculum justitiæ jam acceptæ per fidem: indeque concludit nos pari modo, non per circumcisionem, aut legem, sed per fidem justificari.

Tertio, v. 13. docet non per legem, sed per fidem nos amplecti et participare benedictionem, id est, justitiam et salutem Abrahæ ejusque semini gratuito promissam, adeoque omnes eos, qui Abrahæ fidem imitantur, sive ii Gentiles sint, sive Judæi, veros esse Abrahæ filios et hæredes.

Quarto, v. 18. exaggerat Abrahæ fidem, quod contra spem in spem crediderit se senem ex Sara anu et sterili generaturum Isaac, et semen a Deo promissum; indeque v. 23 infert hanc Abrahæ fidem nobis imitandam esse, si justificari et salvari velimus.

V.  Hactenus docuit Paulus, nos justificari non per legem, sed per fidem Christi: nunc ostendit, quanta sit excellentia et celsitudo, tum utilitas hujus justitiæ, quam Christus nobis attulit.

Primo ergo recenset sex fructus hujus justitiæ, quos enumerabo v. 2. ex quibus fit ut gloriemur non tantum in spe beatitudinis, sed etiam in tribulationibus, quia et charitas Dei et Christi diffusa est in cordibus nostris.

Secundo, v. 12. opponit et præponit gratiam Christi peccato Adæ, docetque quod sicuti per unius Adæ inobedientiam peccatores facti sumus, et morti obnoxii, ita per Christi obedientiam justitiam, et vitam æternam adipiscamur.

Tertio, v. 20. docet legem inter Adamum et Christum subintrasse, ut abundaret delictum idque ad hoc, ut ubi abundavit delictum, ibi abundet et gratia Christi.

VI.  Hoc capite, de more, Apostolus post dogmata, ad mores dogmatibus conformes transit, horataturque fideles, ut justitiæ per Christum acceptæ servandæ et augendæ studeant.

Primo ergo, docet nos in baptismo Christo consepultos, complantatos, et commortuos esse peccato, ut deinceps in novitate vitæ ambulemus: sicut Christus semel mortuus, ad novam vitam, non amplius moriturus resurrexit, ut et nos quandoque cum eo ad gloriam resurgamus.

Secundo, v. 12. docet in Christianis non debere regnare peccatum, ut obedient concupiscentiis ejus; utpote qui per Christi gratiam liberati sunt a peccato, et servi effecti justitiæ: itaque par esse, ut membra sua tradant in obsequium justitiæ, ad vitam, quæ prius tradiderant immunditiæ ad mortem.  Nam, ut ait v. ultimo: stipendia peccati, mors: gratia autem Dei vita æterna.

VII.  Quod cap. præcedenti dixerat nos non esse sub peccato, ex eo, quod non simus sub lege, sed sub gratia; fusius hic probat exemplo uxoris, quæ solvitur a lege viri si is moriatur.  Pari enim modo legem nobis, et nos legi mortuos esse docet.

Inde v. 7. docet, quod lex licet in se sancta sit, per occasionem tamen, nimirum indicando et vetando peccatum, magis illud in homine prono in vitia auxerit.

Tertio hac occasione v. 14. transit ad concupiscentiam, quæ ex peccato et lege est reliqua, docetque viros etiam justos, licet invitos, eadem pati, et contra eam assidue luctari.

VIII.  Hactenus explicavit Apostolus infirmitatem legis, peccati et concupiscentiæ: hic vires gratiæ et spiritus Christi explicat, seu quanta bona justis per Christum Christique spiritum dentur.

Primo ergo ex dictis concludit, eos qui Christo per fidem et gratiam sunt insiti, ab omni culpa et damnatione esse liberos, eos scilicet, qui non secundum carnem, sed secundum spiritum vivunt.

Unde Secundo, v. 12. multis probat nos secundum spiritum, quem accepimus, debere vivere, spiritum, inquam, adoptionis, in quo clamamus, Abba, pater, qui nos Dei filios, ac futuræ gloriæ cum Christo coheredes efficit.

Inde Tertio, v. 19. ostendit, quanta, quamque ambienda sit hæc gloria, utpote ad quam suspiret non solum omnis creatura, quæ in hac vita vanitati subjecta est, sed et hi, qui spiritus primitias acceperunt.  Unde v. 26. asserit spiritum adjuvare infirmitatem nostram, et postulare pro nobis.

Denique v. 28. exaggerat charitatem Dei, erga se diligentes, qua omnia eis cooperantur in bonum, utpote, quos præscivit, et prædestinavit conformes fieri Christo, et pro quibus tradidit Christum in mortem.  Ex quo v. 35. concludit, Quis ergo nos separabit a charitate Christi?

IX.  Docet Judæos rejectos esse a justitia et salute, ob infidelitatem; Gentes vero ad eam ascitas esse propter fidem.

Primo, ergo ostendit hic Paulus suum amorem in Judæos, et dolorem de eorum ruina et repulsa.

Secundo, v. 6. ostendit non propterea irritas esse promissiones a Deo Abrahæ ejusque filiis sive Israelitis factas; eo quod illæ non pertineant ad filios carnis, puta Judæos; sed ad filios promissionis et electionis divinæ, puta ad Christianos, qui credendo in Christum Abrahæ fidem imitantur.

Tertio, v. 14. docet hoc non esse iniquum, eo quod Deus, cum sit omnium Dominus, cujus vult misereatur, et quem vult induret: induret, inquam, non duritiem eis immittendo, sed sustinendo eos in multa patientia, quasi vasa iræ apta in interitum, ut ipse Apostolus explicans ait v. 22.

Quarto, v. 24. hos filios promissionis docet partim esse Judæos credentes in Christum, sed paucos; partim Gentes, easque plurimas.

Denique, v. 30. propriam, directam et adæquatam dat causam, cur Judæi a justitia et salute sint repulsi, Gentes vero ad eam ascitæ; nimirum quod Judæi noluerint credere in Christum.  Gentes vero in eum crediderint.  Omnis enim justificatio et salus nostra (Deo ita volente et decernente) ab uno Christo petenda et expectanda sunt.

X.  Veram causam repulsæ Judæorum a justitia, quam cœpit dare cap. præced. v. 30. puta Judæorum infidelitatem in Christum, hoc cap. persequitur et perurget Apostolus.  Unde Primo, usque ad v. 12. justitiæ legis opponit et anteponit justitiam Dei, eamque sitam esse docet in fide Christi.

Secundo, a v. 12. ad finem ostendit Deum ad hanc fidem et justitiam vocasse, non solos Judæos, sed omnes Gentes, ac proinde eis prædicari debuisse Evangelium, idque probat testimonio Isaiæ, Davidis et Moysis.

Denique v. ultimo, ex Isaia probat Deum vocare Judæos ad Christum, sed eos Christo nolle credere, eique contradicere.

XI.  Docuit Paulus cap. 9 et 10. Gentes per fidem ad justitiam et salutem adscitas, Judæos vero ob infidelitatem, ab eadem repulsos esse: nunc ad Judæorum solatium monet Gentes, ne Judæorum incredulitati et repulsæ indignentur et insultent; sed potius ei compatiantur et condoleant, utque eos ad sui imitationem provocent; idque

Primo, quia non omnes Judæi sunt increduli, et rejecti: nam ipse Paulus et alii, quasi reliquiæ Israel salvæ factæ sunt.

Secundo, v. 8. quia etsi plures excæcati sint, tamen eorum cæcitas salus est Gentilibus.  Nam Judæorum incredulitas causa fuit cur prædicatio Evangelii, justitia, et salus deflexerit ad Gentes.

Tertio, v. 16. qui Judæi sanctorum patriarcharum sunt filii, in quibus ipsi Deo quasi consecrati et sanctificati sunt.

Quarto, v. 17. quia Gentes, quæ erant quasi oleaster paganismi, per gratiam insertæ sunt in oleam Judæorum, puta in Ecclesiam Dei, a qua facile per infidelitatem, superbiam et inobedientiam rursum excidere possunt.

Quinto, v. 23. quia Judæi, si recedere velint a sua infidelitate, rursum inserntur suæ oleæ, id est Ecclesiæ.

Sexto, v. 25. quia in fine mundi, cum plenitudo Gentium intrarit, tunc omnis Israel credet, et salvus fiet.

Septimo, vers. 30. quia ipsæ etiam Gentes ante Judæos fuerunt incredulæ, et neglectæ a Deo, uti nunc Judæi, increduli et neglecti sunt.  Unde v. 32. concludit dicens: Concludit Deus omnia sub peccato, ut omnium misereatur. Atque hanc vicissitudinem et successionem Judæorum et Gentilium in obsequio et Ecclesia Dei admirans, exclamat: O altitudo divitiarum sapientiæ et scientiæ Dei!

XII.  Incipit hic secunda parsa epistolæ, qua Apostolus a fide et dogmatibus transit ad mores fidei consonos.  Hoc ergo capite monet fideles, ut exhibeant se hostiam Deo, utque probent et sapiant quæ sit voluntas Dei bona, beneplacens et perfecta, nimirum Primo, vers. 3. ut de susceptis donis non se efferant, sed sapiant ad sobrietatem, atque in modum membrorum ejusdem corporis, quisque suo dono contentus, eo rite utatur ad proximorum utilitatem.

Secundo, v. 9. ut dilectioni sinceræ, prudenti, patienti et forti dent operam.  Unde dilectionis officia et conditiones recenset.

Tertio, v. 16. ut dilectioni jungant humilitatem, qua etiam bonum pro malo reddant, et vincant in bono malum.  Christianis enim maxime commendandæ sunt hæ duæ virtutes, scilicet charitas ac humilitas.  Hæ enim sunt compendium ceterarum, et in his duabus vita et perfectio Christiana consistit.

XIII.  A charitate et humilitate transit hic Apostolus ad obedientiam, docetque octo rationibus (quas colligam v. 1.) Christianos magistratibus sæcularibus debere parere, non solum propter iram, sed etiam propter conscientiam.

Secundo, v. 8. urget rursum dilectionem proximi, docetque quod plenitudo legis sit dilectio.

Tertio, v. 11. urget fideles, ut splendente luce Evangelii de somno peccatorum surgant, utque fugientes gulam, libidinem, ambitionem, induantur Dominum Jesum Christum.  Quare Apostolus prima parte capitis, videtur hominem recte componere per obedientiam erga Superiores: in secunda parte, per charitatem erga æquales et inferiores: in tertia, per temperantiam, continentiam, et modestiam erga seipsum.

XIV.  Docet, eos qui sunt in fide firmiores debere eos qui infirmi sunt fovere, quodque nec hi, nec illi se invicem judicare debeant, si illi cibis lege veteri vetitis vescantur, hi iisdem abstineant; sed unusquisque, inquit, in suo sensu abundet.  Nam omnes eumdem habemus Dominum, cui vivimus et morimur, quique solus omnium judex est.

Secundo, v. 13. docet firmiores, quod, etsi jam nullus cibus sit immundus, nemo tamen quidquam edere debeat, quod proximus scandalizetur.

Tertio, v. 22. docet infirmos, ne quidquam comedant, aut agant contra suam conscientiam.

XV.  Concludit, tam Gentes quam Judæos ad fidem et gratiam Christi vocatos, Deo gratias, invicem gratulationem et pacem debere.

Primo ergo docet quemque proximorum utilitati, et mutuæ paci studere debere, quodque Christus tam Judæos ex promissione, quam Gentes ex misericordia ad se et salutem vocaverit.

Secundo, v. 15. excusat se quod liberius Romanis scripserit, tanquam Gentium Apostolus ostendens quomodo hoc munus sit executus, nimirum quod ab Jerusalem ad Illyricum primus ipse ubique evangelizaverit.

Tertio v. 24. destinat ire in Hispaniam, prius tamen deferre eleemosynam in Judæam, ac deinde in transitu videre Romanos, petens ut pro se interim orent.

XVI.  Totum caput continet salutationes.  Unde colligas humanitatem Pauli, benevolentiam, et charitatem maternam erga singulos.  Discant hic Præcones, imo Christiani omnes, illud: Saluta libenter, resaluta libentius.

Interim Secundo, v. 17. jubet ut caveant eos qui faciunt dissensiones et offendicula.

Tertio, v. 25. Deo, qui omnes Gentes, per Christum vocavit ad Evangelium et salutem, optat et tribuit honorem et gloriam æternam.

Romans: ch. viii.

January 5, 2011


Thus far the Apostle has explained the weakness of the law, sin and concupiscence; here he explains the power of the grace and spirit of Christ.  Therefore 1) he concludes from what has been said that those who are inserted into Christ by faith and grace are free from all fault and damnation; 2) v. 12 he proves that we ought to live according to the Spirit of adoption we have received, who makes us sons of God and coheirs of the future glory of Christ; 3) v. 19 he shows the greatness of this glory: not only all creation sighs for it, but also those who have received the first fruits of the Spirit; whence v. 26 he says that the Spirit helps our weakness and asks on our behalf; finally 4) he emphasizes the charity of God towards those who love him, by which all things work together unto good for them, whom he has foreknown and predestined to be made conformable to Christ, and for whom he handed Christ over to death.  From which he concludes, v. 35, who therefore shall separate us from the love of Christ?

3. in the likeness of sinful flesh and of sin – God sent his son to assume mortal human flesh, like the sinful flesh of other men.

4. Thus it is clear that man in his fallen state cannot fulfill the law and the decalogue without the grace of Christ.

9. This is what it is to be in the spirit: for the Spirit of God to dwell in you, to have a permanent and lasting seat in you, not to pass away from you.

10. the body indeed is dead – that is, after the sin of the fall, so quickly and surely susceptible to death that it might as well already be considered and called dead.  But our spirit liveth the life of grace, and will live the life of glory.

11. From this verse it is clear that the Holy Ghost, living in us by the spirit of charity, is the cause of our resurrection and life of glory.

12. i.e. we are debtors to the spirit, to live according to the spirit.

15. the spirit of adoption of sons – As God gave his Deity and the Word to the man Christ so that he might be and be called the Son of God, so God gives us his Holy Spirit and his Deity, to make us sons of Godand to adopt us.  When God gives us the Holy Ghost, he communicates his divine nature to us.  Abba – alludes to the Gospel of St. Mark (xiv. 36), which was written at Rome and known to the Romans; shows that our adoption is the same whether we are Jews (Abba) or Gentiles (Pater).

16.  This testimony of the Spirit, contra the protestant heretics, cannot be known for certain by us without a special revelation of God.  There are signs of likelihood by which we can form an idea for ourselves, as the love of God, obedience to the Holy Ghost, a holy life, contempt of the world, desire of heavenly things, peace of conscience, zeal for God’s honor and the salvation of souls, etc.  God wishes our hope to be mixed with fear so that we do not become slothful in our security.

18.  St. Furseus heard the angels singing: “Nullus labor durus, nullum tempus longum quo gloria æternitatis acquiritur” – “No task is hard, no time long by which the glory of eternity is acquired.”

19. of the creature – i.e. of creation: the glory prepared for us is so great that even inanimate creatures long for it.

20. The creature is subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him (God and his ordinance) that made it subject, on account of man, that is, to serve him in this mortal state, in hope of the final resurrection and renewal of all things.

21. into the liberty – that is, following the example of the liberty of the children of God, the rest of creation will receive a similar freedom, stability and immortality.

22. every creature, that is, every inanimate creature, waiting for the end of all evils.

23. We have the first fruits of the Spirit, God’s pledge at justification, the beginning of our redemption and liberation, which will be consummated in the resurrection.  Similarly adoption here refers to the completed adoption into glory, which is begun on earth by the grace of justification (v. 15).

24-25. hope, i.e. in the resurrection.  Hope is thus also necessary for salvation.

26. unspeakable groanings – as our Paraclete, the Holy Ghost pleads on our behalf in the consistory of the Holy Trinity with unspeakably great charity.

28. St. Bernard notes that all things work together, not unto our will or our pleasure, but our goodAccording to his purpose – that is, according to God’s eternal, benevolent and free decree that, in his pure goodness and mercy, men should be called to grace and sanctity through Christ, without merit of their own.

28-30. Paraphrase: “For those who love God, those called to be saints according to his purpose, all things, even the saddest, work together unto good: because these are they whom God foreknew from eternity and predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, both in his love for them and in their future glory, if they persevere in grace.  And just as God foreknew them and predestined them from eternity, so he called them in time by his grace, and justified them in their obedience to his grace, and will glorify them after they persevere in grace.  (Hebraism: the verbs in past tense stand for any time, past, present or future.)

31. This is the impenetrable shield of the saints’ patience: what demons or men can harm us if God cares for us by his eternal foreknowledge, predestination, temporal vocation, justification, and eventual glorification?

33-34. Paraphrase: “It is God who has freed the true Christians from the power of sin and the demons, and pronounces them just.  v. 34, Christ Jesus, supply is, he who died, rose again, makes intercession for us – repeat: who therefore shall accuse against the elect of God?”  The Holy Ghost, v. 26, the Father, v. 32, and the Son, v. 34 – thus the whole of the Holy Trinity – has an immense love and care for the elect.

35. the love of Christ – not Christ’s love for us, but our love for Christ.  The sense is, if God loves us so much, how can we not, in our turn, love him?

38-39. St. Bernard: “No creature is able to separate us from the love of God: only our own will can do that.”  The certainty (v. 38) is complete on the part of God, and is a certainty of faith; on our part, it is only a moral certainty delivered by our firm resolution and purpose to persevere in the charity of Christ.

Romans: ch. vii.

January 4, 2011


Paul proves that we are under grace, not the law, by the example of a wife who is released from the law of her husband if he dies.  In the same way, he teaches, we are dead to the law and it is dead to us.  V. 7, he teachesthat although the law is holy in itself, it nevertheless increases sin in man by the occasion of indicating and forbidding it.  V. 14, he moves to concupiscence, the remainder from sin and the law, and teaches that even just men suffer it, albeit unwillingly, and fight against it constantly.

1. The dominion of the law is in ordering, terrifying, making guilty, accusing, condemning.

2. The metaphor or allegory in this chapter is as follows: Sin, death and the law are the husband; our soul is the wife; the offspring are evil works; when the husband dies, our soul passes to the second husband, God, and bears the offspring of good works.

4. by the body of Christ – by his corporal passion and death, which freed us from the law.

7. New objection: If the law is the occasion of sin, is it not sin itself?  God forbid – the law in itself is not sin.  Concupiscence – here refers to the consent of the will to forbidden things (i.e. the consent to involuntary concupiscence).

8. Sin was dead – i.e. sin was asleep, and then awoken by the law, which by occasion increases the sin of man in the state of sin.

9. Paul speaks of himself before he had the use of reason.

10. when the commandment came, supply “into my knowledge.”

13. New objection: if the law is good in itself, has it therefore changed and been made death unto meGod forbid – the evil is not the fault of the law, but of the man transgressing the law.  That it may appear sin – i.e. to demonstrate the enormous power and malice of sin, which increases its malice through that which is good, the law.

14. The law is holy: it commands spiritual things, not carnal things; but I (Paul) am carnal, that is, I follow what is pleasing to the flesh and concupiscence, as one sold under sin.  Therefore I myself, living under the dominion of sin, am the cause to myself of my carnal life, sin and death, and not the law.  Sold under sin refers to original sin, which continues to affect even the justified man.

15. that which I work, I understand not – i.e. I do not approve by my reason and will the works and motions of my concupiscence.  The good which I will etc. – I wish not to suffer concupiscence, I do not wish to suffer concupiscence, and yet I suffer concupiscence.

17. no more I that do it, supply “deliberately.”

18. i.e. I have the faculty and good will to will what is good in me, since I am justified; but I can scarcely do it, and only with difficulty.

22. inward man – man has only one soul, but here the Apostle refers to the inner and outer man because of their diverse states of affections and works.  The inward man is the mind of the justified man, or rather the justified man himself, living by the grace, charity and Spirit of God: the outer man is concupiscence inciting the mind and will to sin against God’s law.

23. captivating me – not by the consent of my will, but by the commotion it causes in trying to capture me and submit me to the law of sin (concupiscence).

24. body of death – this body afflicted by sin, subject to death and corruption.

25. The grace of God by Jesus Christ … “will deliver me from this body of death in the resurrection, by giving me an immortal and glorious body.”


Romans: ch. vi.

January 3, 2011


In this chapter the Apostle passes, in his usual way, from dogma to the morals conforming to the dogma, and exhorts the faithful to preserve and increase the justice they have received from Christ.  Therefore 1) he teaches that in baptism we are buried, planted with Christ, and dead to sin, so that we are now to walk in a new life: so that, just as Christ died once and rose again to new life, we too may one day rise with him to glory; 2) v. 12 he teaches that sin ought not to reign in Christians, since those who are freed from sin by the grace of Christ are made servants of justice; thus it is fitting that they yield those members in obedience to justice, unto life, which they first had yielded to uncleanness unto death.  For as he says v. 23: The wages of sin is death: but the grace of God, life everlasting.

1-2. Answers objection: If it is true that where sin abounded, grace did more abound, then sins should be added to sins, so that the grace of God may more abound.  Paul replies: God forbid: we are dead to sin, and proceeds to show how.

3-4. in his death – we are baptized into the likeness and representation of Christ’s death: those who are immersed in the waters of baptism represent allegorically Christ’s death and burial, in order to represent tropologically (i.e. in their moral lives) Christ’s temporal death by their own death to sin (v. 2).  Just as Christ died literally and was buried, we too are dead to sin and buried in baptism: thus the rite of baptism, with its triple immersion, allegorically represents the three days of Christ’s burial, and tropologically represents the burial and death of sin.  For this reason the Church celebrates solemn baptism on the day of Christ’s burial, Holy Saturday.

4. by the glory of the Father – i.e. Christ rose to live a glorious and divine life, as befits the son of God; thus we too should rise from baptism to lead a new life worthy of the sons of God, and walk in it, that is, progress in it.

5. i.e. Like a branch inserted in a tree dies with it in winter, and in the spring comes back to life with it, so we, who are inserted into Christ, die to sin in the winter of this life, and will rise with him to glory in the universal resurrection.  Extension of the baptism/death metaphor: as we are conformed to Christ’s death and burial in the immersion of baptism, so by our emergence from baptism we are conformed to the risen Christ, and are to lead a new life.

6.  crucified with him – first, by representation, in baptism, which crucifies our vices; second, by efficiency, that is by the power of Christ’s death on the cross, which is applied to us in baptism, our sins are destroyed: for the cross is the death and destruction of our sins.

7. Gives the reason why we ought not to serve sin any longer (v. 6): he that is conformed to Christ crucified and dead to sin is justified, that is, completely absolved, from sin, so that he ought to have nothing more to do with it: just as a dead man is completely released from the cares of this life.  By extension, following Chrysostom: as a dead servant is “justified” by death, that is, completely freed from the command of his master, from servitude, such that the master no longer has any rule over him – thus we are justified from the servitude of sin by our death in baptism.

8. live together – in the life of beatitude to come.

10. died to sin – died because of sin, died to abolish sin (Hebraism); unto God – lives with God, and like God lives a heavenly, divine, blessed and immortal life, and also unto the glory of God.

12. Sin cannot reign in the justified except by their own choice; sin is also taken metonymically for the fomes of sin, i.e. don’t yield to temptation.

13. as those that are alive from the dead – serve God as befits those who have died once to sin in baptism, and now live for God in the Christian life.

14. i.e. Sin cannot have dominion over you, as it did in the times of Adam and Moses, because you are not under the law, but under grace, by which you are able to conquer sin.

15-16. New objection: If we are under grace, and so sin cannot have dominion over us, then we may freely break the law and sin, because we are free, and whatever we do, sin cannot have dominion over us.  Paul replies again: God forbid; for although we are indeed under grace and not the law, it is nevertheless not permissible to shun or break the law, but rather to fulfill it by grace.  Further, although by its own power sin cannot have dominion over us, it nevertheless can and will if we allow it to.

19. i.e. I ask a human thing of you, Roman Christians; that is, a moderate and easy thing: namely, only try to grow in sanctification as much as you once tried to grow in iniquity.

20. free men to justice – that is, free from justice, lacking justice.  Compare v. 18.

23. He does not say, The grace of God is life everlasting, because eternal life is freely given, unlike sin, whose consequence (death) is not freely given but is strictly speaking a “reward,” wages.  I.e. – as sin leads a man to death, as to its end and reward: so grace leads us to eternal life, as to its end and crown.  Grace therefore is eternal life, not in itself and formally, but with regard to its end, because it has eternal life for its end and reward (metonymy).

Romans: ch. v.

January 2, 2011


Up to this point Paul has taught that we are justified not by the law, but by faith in Christ: now he shows the excellence of the justification Christ has brought to us.  Therefore 1) he lists six fruits of this justification, which lead us to glory not only in the hope of beatitude, but even in tribulation; 2) v. 12 he contrasts the grace of Christ with the sin of Adam, and teaches that, as we were all made sinners by the disobedience of one man, so by the obedience of Christ we obtain justification and eternal life; 3) v. 20 he teaches that the law entered in so that sin might abound – so that where sin abounded, the grace of Christ might also abound.

1. Let us have peace – i.e. since we are justified, let us be peaceful and tranquil of soul, no longer fearing the justice and condemnation of God.

2. The six fruits of justification: 1) peace, v. 1; 2) the hope of glory, v. 2; 3) happiness in adversity because of the hope of glory, v. 3; 4) we are made the beloved friends of God through charity, v. 5; 5) we are adopted by God as sons and glory in him as a father, v. 11; 6) the reward of eternal life, v. 21.

3. And not only … do we glory in this hope, but also …; tribulation worketh patience, as the occasion for exercising it.

4. and patience trial – i.e. patience brings one to the end of his earthly trials; and trial hope – i.e. the strength, vigor and increase of hope (the initial grace of hope itself precedes patience and trial, v. 3).

5. hope confoundeth not – it does not deceive the one who hopes, nor fail him, but leads him surely to the acquisition of the thing hoped for from God.  The charity poured forth in our hearts is distinct from the Holy Ghost, as the lamp lighting a room is distinct from the light it gives.

6-10. explains how hope confoundeth not is the consequence of the charity of God is poured forth in our hearts: for if Christ died for us according to the time (that is, at the proper moment, when we were still weak and sinful and in great need of redemption), how much more sure of God’s mercy and salvation are we now that we are justified and Christ is glorified in heaven?

11. And not only – new continuation of v. 3 (consider vv. 4-10 as a long parenthesis).  We glory in God – as our father, friend, protector, and above all lover (dilectorem).

12. One manhomo could refer either to Adam or Eve; in fact it refers to Adam, as our head (the likely opinion is that if only Eve had sinned, original sin would not have been transmitted).  This verse is proof of the doctrine of original sin: e.g. death is the punishment for sin, but infants die who have committed no actual sin.  Therefore they have original sin transmitted from Adam.

12. In whom all have sinned – all men sinned, not formally, but radically and representatively in Adam, as in their root, parent and origin – just as the king represents the kingdom, Adam represented all his posterity as father and prince.  Thus the Blessed Virgin sinned in Adam, but was prevented from receiving original sin by the grace of God in her Immaculate Conception, which freed her from all sin [note that Cornelius clearly teaches the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, and refers to it casually as to something taken for granted, over 200 years before its formal definition].

13. until the law sin was in the world – as evidenced by the death of all men; see the following verse.

14. who have not sinned after the similitude etc. – i.e. who have not sinned by their own act: that is, death reigned, even in those who did not sin in act (e.g. infants); him who was to come: Christ.

15ff. many – i.e. all; “many” is used to signify the number of Adam’s posterity, because “all” could mean only a few people.

16. And not as it was by one sin, so also is the gift – i.e. Adam by one sin transmitted sin to all his posterity; Christ redeems us not only from one sin, but from all our sins.

18-19. All men shall be justified who are born again in Christ by faith and grace.

20. entered in – Latin subintravit, as though furtively or secretly, and only for a short time: directly, the law entered in order to restrain men from sinning; indirectly, it increased their guilt.  But then Christ came to abolish sin and its reign.

21. i.e. grace did more abound, such that, with death and the reign of sin destroyed, the kingdom of justice and eternal life were established, and was spread far and wide by Christ.


Romans: ch. iv.

January 1, 2011


Paul proceeds to prove from the example of Abraham that all men are justified, not by works, but by faith in Christ.  He teaches that Abraham’s faith justified him before he received circumcision, and so concludes that likewise we are not justified by circumcision or the law, but by faith.  Next, he teaches (v. 13) that it is by faith that we participate in the blessing given to Abraham and his posterity.  Finally he emphasizes the great faith of Abraham and puts him forth as an example for our imitation.

1. i.e. “What justice was it that Abraham received – faith, or works of the law?”

2. Abraham did not receive his justification from works (circumcision), since he already had glory before God – “He believed God, and it was reputed to him unto justice.”

3. reputed to him unto justice – Abraham was justified by God’s benevolent and free will, by which he decreed that through the act of faith, grace was to be given to Abraham without the merit of works.  To repute means to consider something as such which it is not of itself; therefore God’s will to justify Abraham is called reputing.

4-5. Abraham’s justification was not a reward (as due to works), but given through grace.

6-8. Paul uses the quote from David (Ps. xxxi. 1.) to prove his argument: the sense is: Blessed is he who is cleansed from his sins, justified, and covered and robed in the garment of charity; and also blessed, nay more blessed, is he who, after he is cleansed from sin, begins to live justly and avoid sin, so that he does no evil that God must impute unto him as sin.

9-10. i.e. from the citation of Ps. xxxi, justification is not dependent on circumcision but on the grace and mercy of God.  A second proof: Abraham was justified, not only before the law, but before circumcision.

11-12. Abraham received circumcision as a sign of the justification he had received by faith; therefore he is the father of the believing Gentiles as well as the “father,” i.e. the author and institutor, of circumcision, the sign of the covenant between God and Abraham, by which God promised to protect, bless and save Abraham and his posterity.

13-14. Abraham did not receive the promise that he would be heir of the world through the law; if he had, it would follow that his faith in God’s promise and the promise itself would be abolished, which is absurd.  Again, if justification is given by the law, it cannot be given by a promise, because a promise is a free act of grace but the law is concerned with justice and the merit of works.

15. Refers to v. 13: The promise is not given through the law, because the law worketh wrath: i.e. the law without grace leads to the breaking of the law, which leads to the divine wrath.

17. who quickeneth the dead: as God can raise the dead, so is he able to spiritually regenerate the Gentiles living in paganism (Chrysostom).

18. Who against hope believed in hope: There was no hope naturally of a son being born to Abraham and Sarah, yet Abraham believed, hoping and trusting in God.

23-24. Our faith, if we believe, will likewise be reputed to us unto justice.  Abraham is thus given as a model of justification: so we are to seek justification in faith and from Christ.  Christ is said to have risen again for our justification, although it was by his passion that he merited our justification: 1) considering the passion and resurrection as one work of redemption, one act of Christ; 2) considering the final cause of the resurrection, which was for him to send the Apostles and the Holy Ghost to justify us and celebrate the resurrection.

Romans: Ch. iii.

December 31, 2010

Chapter 3


From what was said in Chapters 1 and 2 Paul concludes that all men, Jews and Gentiles, are in sin and need the grace of Christ.  Therefore 1) lest he offend the Jews, he says they excel the Gentiles in that the words and promises of God were entrusted to them; 2) v. 9 he equates the Jews with the Gentiles in that they are all in sin, and proves this from many passages of Scripture; 3) v. 20 he teaches that men are freed and justified, not from the works of the law, in which the Jews glory, but from faith in Christ the propitiator.

1. Considers a new objection: “If what you said in ch. 2 is true, there is nothing in which the Jew seems to excel the Gentile.”

2. Answer: First indeed, that is, “principally, especially,” in that God has entrusted to the Jews, as his chosen people, his words: that is, the law and the sacred scriptures in general, in which are implicitly understood all God’s goodness to the Jews, including the promise of the Messiah to be born from them.  The Gentiles can only come to this knowledge through the Jews.

3. Another objection: “How are God’s words entrusted to the Jews, if many of them do not believe in them?”  Answer: Even if some do not believe in them, God on his part is faithful; the infidelity of some cannot hinder his faithfulness to his promises, especially that of the Messiah.

4. Every man a liar (Ps. cxv. 2.) – speaking of man in his fallen state: through grace, man becomes like God and ceases to be a man and a liar (SS. Augustine, Jerome).

4. As it is written … – Ps. l. 6; sense: “I, David, confess that I have sinned before you, Lord, but spare me, and restore to me the promises you once made to me, and so it will come about that you will overcome and overturn the false judgments of men, who think you will not keep your promises” – thus proving the first part of the verse: God is true and every man a liar.

5-7. Another objection: “If our wickedness can show forth God’s justice and faithfulness towards us more greatly, God therefore seems to be wicked in punishing us for our wickedness instead of rewarding us for showing forth his justice.”  Answer – our wickedness only illustrates God’s justice accidentally; by his nature God commends justice.

8. Continuation of the objection: if our sins lead to the glory and mercy of God, God is unjust to punish sin.  Answer – this would be as if men were to say of a pious and patient man: “This man is wonderfully patient, he bears and ignores all wickedness; therefore let us trouble him and inflict a thousand injuries upon him, so that we may show just how patient he is.”  This is a perverse argument: the man’s virtue gained from the injuries he bears, and God’s glory from our sins, are only because of the wisdom of the holy man and of God, who knows how to order evil to the good of his mercy or his justice.  No sin, even the smallest venial sin, can be chosen or committed, even to avoid graver sins (Cajetan).

10-18. The Apostle’s quotations are taken from Pss. xiii, lii, v, cxxxix, ix., Is. lxix. and Prov. i. 16.; afterwards, the string of quotations was inserted into the corresponding place in Ps. xiii, verse 3.  The words refer to every man in his fallen state, without the grace of God.

12. There is none that doth good, that is, that without the grace of Christ can do the good necessary to merit eternal life.  It does not mean that every deed of an unbeliever is evil and a sin, but only insufficient to bring forth God’s saving grace.

19. i.e. “Do not say, o Jews, that these words only apply to the Gentiles; for these are words of the law, the Psalms and the Prophets, which in fact speak more to those under the law (Jews) than those who are not (Gentiles).”

20. i.e. “Again, Jew, you are saying: Even if I am a sinner, and fall into sin, I nevertheless have the works of the law by which I can expiate sin.”  The Apostle replies: “These works can cleanse and expiate the flesh, but they cannot cleanse and justify a soul from sin, since the law and works of the law are only an indication and demonstration of what is right, not an expiation of sin.”

21. i.e. The old law has ended, and the saving justice and grace of God is now made manifest by the Gospel of Christ, which has been witnessed to for long ages by the law and the prophets.

22. all them that believe in him, i.e. with a faith formed by charity, obeying Christ’s commands.

23. the glory of God – i.e. the grace of God, by which he is glorified.  This is the judgment which God pronounces from the mouth of Paul, having considered the cases of the Jews and the Gentiles: “O Jews, you arrogantly assert yourselves against the Gentiles and consider yourselves just because of the law; you Gentiles condemn the Jews and arrogate to yourselves the moral virtues – I have examined your cases in chapters 1 and 2 and I pronounce the following judgment: All men, Jews and Gentiles, have sinned, and need the grace of God.”  Let every man apply this to himself: “All men have sinned, and need the glory of God – therefore I have sinned, therefore I also am a sinner, and need the great and glorious grace and mercy of God.”

25. i.e. God wishes Christ to be a propitiation for those who through faith believe that Christ suffered and died and thus was made propitiation for our sins.  The final cause of justification is the showing of the justice of God.

27. The law of works is that which orders what is to be done; the law of faith is faith itself, which obtains the grace necessary to do what the law commands.

28. Luther added “alone” to the phrase justified by faith; when challenged by a Catholic, he replied: “Doctor Martin Luther will have it so, and says that a Papist and an ass are one and the same.  Thus I will, thus I order, let my will be the reason.  For we do not wish to be the students of the Papists, but their judges.  Luther wills it so, and says he is Doctor above all the Doctors of all Popedom.” – You have heard Lucifer speaking through the mouth of Luther. – The Apostle says that we are justified by faith, not alone, but with a faith that is the root, foundation and beginning of justification.  For the Apostle here only wishes to prove the necessity of the faith and grace of Christ; he is not referring to the works of faith, but to the works of the Jewish law.

29. A new argument ex absurdo: if we are justified by works of the law, therefore justice would be tied to the Mosaic law and to the Jews, and consequently God would seem to be the God only of the Jews, not of the Gentiles, which is absurd.

31. Objection: “You are destroying the Jewish law by your faith.”  Answer – the law is established and confirmed because what it signified and promised has been fulfilled by the Gospel (faith).  The Messiah has fulfilled in the new law, and thereby stabilized and confirmed, whatever Moses prefigured in the old law.

Romans: Chapter ii.

December 30, 2010



Paul teaches the same of the Jews that he taught of the Gentiles in Chapter 1, namely that they are in sin and need the faith and grace of Christ.  Therefore 1) he refutes the Jews, who condemn the Gentiles on account of a law they themselves do not observe; 2) v. 13 it is not the hearers but the doers of the law who are justified, and the Gentiles as well as the Jews have knowledge of the natural law; 3) v. 17 he again refutes the Jews who do the same things they complain of in others; 4) v. 25 he teaches that the true circumcision is internal and consists of observation of the law, and that this circumcision is of the heart, in spirit and before God, not before men.

1. i.e. “If the Gentiles, who did not understand the seriousness of their sins, nevertheless are worthy of death, you Jews are much more worthy of death, you who have the Mosaic law and from it condemn the Gentiles, but nevertheless do the same things for which you condemn them.”

5. the day of wrath, and revelation of the just judgment of God – the day of Judgment.

6. Note the word render (reddet), implying a reward.  Refutes Calvin’s “faith alone”: good works merit eternal life.

7. according to patience in good work – that is, “patiently and faithfully persevere in good works through every temptation and trouble, seeking and patiently awaiting the future glory that God will render unto them in eternal life.”  From this passage, and as the Council of Trent defined, sess. 6 c. 11 and can. 31, it is clear that it is pious and holy to do good works while thinking of the eternal reward for them.

8. wrath and indignation – nominative case, not accusative as glory and eternal life, v. 7; therefore repeat and supply “render” in the passive (Hebraism): wrath and indignation will be rendered by God.  Note that when referring to rewards the text says “God will render,” since it is proper to God to reward and bless; when referring to punishment, the text says (unquestionably implies) “will be rendered,” since God of himself does not inflict punishments, but we bring them upon ourselves: God does not wish this and indeed laments it (Photius).

9. that worketh good – by good the Apostle understands the observation of the whole law, which can only be done with the faith and grace of Christ.  Avoid here the error of Origen, who teaches wrongly that the Gentiles can avoid damnation solely by observance of the natural law (i.e. without faith in Christ).  Without faith, no one is acceptable to God, nor can anyone without faith fulfill the law and thus avoid eternal punishment.  Thus Gentiles who lived before Christ were nevertheless saved by the faith and grace of Christ (Melchisedec, Job, the Ninivites, etc.).

12. shall perish without the law – judged not by the Mosaic law, but solely by the natural law which they have transgressed, and therefore more mildly than the reprobate Jews who transgress the Mosaic law as well.

13. justified – to be justified can have three meanings: 1) to change from a sinner to a just man; 2) for a just man to become more just; 3) to be judged or pronounced just.  All these meanings are included here, but especially the third.  Note: knowledge of the law does not suffice for justification; good works and observance of the law are also necessary.  This is very important as it condemns the protestant heretics (Calvin, Luther etc.) who teach that observance of the law is impossible and thus faith alone can save.  To say that it is impossible for man, even aided by the grace of Christ, to fulfill the law, is an enormous blasphemy against God and Christ, because this is to say that God is a tyrant who commands us to do impossible things, and that Christ did not sufficiently redeem us and that Christ’s grace is too weak to enable us to overcome sin and fulfill the law.  “God does not command what is impossible, but commands you to do what you are able and to ask for help with what you are not able, and helps you so that you may be able” (St. Augustine).

14. Answers a tacit objection: “How can the Gentiles sin against the law if they do not have the law?”  Answer: they have the natural law, against which they sin: their conscience serves as a law for them, and condemns them.  Second objection: “How can the Gentiles do by nature those things that are of the law?”  Answer: this refers to Gentiles lacking the Mosaic law but possessing the natural law as manifested in their consciences.  Third objection: “How can Gentiles without faith do those things that are of the law, if the doers of the law shall be justified (v. 13) and the Gentiles cannot be justified without faith (v. 9)?”  Answer: doers of the law refers to those who fulfill the whole law; faithless Gentiles can fulfill part of the law, but only part, and thus cannot be justified.

15.  Note that God has established his tribunal in the human heart, and inscribed his laws upon it, so that a man is either exonerated or condemned by his own conscience.

17-20. Supply from the preceding verses: … “and nevertheless do not observe the law and do its works, you will be condemned more gravely for this reason.”

25-26. Circumcision only profits a Jew if he also keeps the law, since if he breaks the law his circumcision is made uncircumcision, and if a Gentile fulfills the law his uncircumcision will not hinder him from the reward a circumcised Jew receives for keeping the law.

28-29.  “The true Jew is not the man who externally and publicly observes and professes Judaism, and the true circumcision is not that of the flesh.  Rather, the true Jew is one inwardly, that is, in his heart and spirit, by the faith and grace of Christ and the observance of the law; and the true circumcision is that of the heart, which cuts away vices and passions.”