on Joel 2 :12
Turn ye even to me - Three means of turning are recommended: Fasting, weeping, mourning, i.e., continued sorrow.
on Joel 2 :12
Therefore - (And) now also All this being so, one way of escape there is, true repentance. As if God said , "All this I have therefore spoken, in order to terrify you by My threats. Wherefore "turn unto Me with all your hearts," and show the penitence of your minds "by fasting and weeping and mourning," that, fasting now, ye may "be filled" hereafter "weeping now," ye may laugh hereafter; mourning now, ye may hereafter "be comforted" Luke 6:21; Matthew 5:4. And since it is your custom "to rend your garments" in sorrow, I command you to rend, not them but your hearts which are full of sin, which, like bladders, unless they be opened, will burst of themselves. And when ye have done this, return unto the Lord your God, whom your former sins aleinated from you; and despair not of pardon for the greatness of your guilt, for mighty mercy will blot out mighty sins."
: "The strict Judge cannot be overcome, for He is Omnipotent; cannot be deceived, for He is Wisdom; cannot be corrupted, for He is justice; cannot be sustained, for He is Eternal; cannot be avoided, for He is everywhere. Yet He can be entreated, because He is mercy; He can be appeased, because He is Goodness; He can cleanse, because He is the Fountain of grace; He can satisfy, because He is the Bread of life; He can soothe, because He is the Unction from above; He can beautify, because He is Fullness; He can beatify because He is Bliss. Turned from Him, then, and fearing His justice, turn ye to Him, and flee to His mercy. Flee from Himself to Himself, from the rigor of justice to the Bosom of mercy. The Lord who is to be feared saith it. He who is Truth enjoins what is just, profitable, good, "turn ye to Me," etc."
Turn ye - even "to Me," i. e., so as to return "quite to" (see the note at Hosea 14:2) God, not halting, not turning half way, not in some things only, but from all the lusts and pleasures to which they had turned from God. : "Turn quite to Me," He saith, "with all your heart," with your whole mind, whole soul, whole spirit, whole affections. For I am the Creator and Lord of the heart and mind, and therefore will, that that whole should be given, yea, given back, to Me, and endure not that any part of it be secretly stolen from Me to be given to idols, lusts or appetites." "It often happens with some people," says Gregory , "that they stoutly gird themselves up to encounter mine vices, but neglect to overcome others, and while they never rouse themselves up against these, they are re-establishing against themselves, even those which they had subdued."
Others, "in resolve, aim at right courses, but are ever doubling back to their wonted evil ones, and being, as it were, drawn out without themselves, they return back to themselves in a round, desiring good ways, but never forsaking evil ways." In contrast to these half conversions, he bids us turn to God with our whole inmost soul, so that all our affections should be fixed on God, and all within us, by a strong union, cleave to Him, for "in whatever degree our affections are scattered among created things, so far is the conversion of the heart to God impaired." "Look diligently," says Bernard , "what thou lovest, what thou fearest, wherein thou rejoicest or art saddened, and under the rags of conversion thou wilt find a heart pervered. The whole heart is in these four affections; and of these I think we must understand that saying, "turn to" the Lord "with all thy heart."
Let then thy love be converted to Him, so that thou love nothing whatever save Himself, or at least for Him. Let thy fear also be converted unto Him, for all fear is perverted, whereby thou fearest anything besides Him or not for Him. So too let thy joy and sorrow equally be converted unto Him. This will be, if thou only grieve or joy according to Him." : "There is a conversion with the whole heart, and another with a part. The conversion with the whole heart God seeketh, for it suffices to salvation. That which is partial he rejecteth, for it is feigned and far from salvation. In the heart, there are three powers, reason, will, memory; reason, of things future; will, of things present; memory, of things past. For reason seeks things to come; the will loves things present; memory retains things past. Reason illumines; will loves; memory retains. When then the reason seeks that Highest Good and finds, the will receives and loves, the memory anxiously keeps and closely embraces, then the soul turns with the whole heart to God. But when the reason slumbers and neglects to seek heavenly things, or the will is tepid and cares not to love them, or the memory is torpid and is careless to retain them, then the soul acts false, falling first into the vice of ignorance, secondly into the guilt of negligence, thirdly into the sin of malice.
In each, the soul acts false; else ignorance would be expelled by the light of reason, and negligence be excluded by zeal of will, and malice be quenched by diligence of memory (of divine things). Reason then seeking begetteth knowledge; will embracing produceth love; memory holding fast, edification. The first produceth the light of knowledge, the second, the love of righteousness; the third preserveth the treasure of grace. This is that conversion of heart, which God requireth; this is that, which sufficeth to salvation."
And with fasting - o: "In their returning to Him, it is required in the first place, that it be with the heart in the inward man, yet so that the outward man is not left unconcerned, but hath his part also, in performance of such things whereby he may express, how the inward man is really affected; and so by the concurrence of both is true conversion made up. "With fasting," which shall make for the humbling of the heart, which pampering of the flesh is apt to puff up and make insensible of its own condition, and forgetful of God and His service, as Jeshurun who, being "waxed fat, kicked, and forsook the God which made him and lightly esteemed the God of his salvation Deuteronomy 32:15. To waiting then on God's service and prayer, it is usually joined in Scripture, as almost a necessary accompaniment, called for by God, and by holy men practiced."
And with weeping and with mourning - that is, by "beating" on the breast, (as the word originally denoted,) "as the publican smote upon his breast" Luke 18:13, and "all the people that came together to that sight" (of Jesus on the Cross), "beholding the things which were done, smote their breasts" Luke 23:48. : "These also, in themselves signs of grief, stir up in the heart more grief, and so have their effects on the person himself, for the increase of his repentance, as well as for shewing it." It also stirs up in others like passions, and provokes them also to repentance." : "These things, done purely and holily, are not conversion itself, but are excellent signs of conversion." : "We ought "to turn in fasting," whereby vices are repressed, and the mind is raised. We ought to "turn in weeping," out of longing for our home, out of displeasure at our faults, out of love to the sufferings of Christ, and for the manifold transgressions and errors of the world." "What avails it," says Gregory , "to confess iniquities, if the affliction of penitence follow not the confession of the lips? For three things are to be considered in every true penitent, conversion of the mind, confession of the mouth, and revenge for the sin. This third sort is as a necessary medicine, that so the imposthume of guilt, pricked by confession, be purified by conversion, and healed by the medicine of affliction. The sign of true conversion is not in the confession of the mouth, but in the affliction of penitence. For then do we see that a sinner is well converted, when by a worthy austerity of affliction he strives to efface what in speech he confesses. Wherefore John Baptist, rebuking the ill-converted Jews who flock to him says, "O generation of vipers - bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance."
on Joel 2 :12