St-Gregory-the-DialogistHe is higher than heaven, what canst thou do?  Deeper than hell, what canst thou know?  His measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea (Job 11:8-9).

He is ‘higher than heaven,’ in that He transcends all things by the Incomprehensibility of His spiritual Nature.

He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that in transcending He sustains beneath.

He is ‘longer than the earth,’ in that He exceeds the measure of created being by the everlasting continuance of His Eternity.

He is ‘broader than the sea,’ in that He so possesses the waves of temporal things in ruling them, that in confining He encompasses them beneath the every way prevailing presence of His Power.

[…] He is ‘higher than the heaven,’ in that the very elect spirits themselves do not perfectly penetrate the vision of His infinite loftiness?

He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that He judges and condemns the craft of evil spirits with far more searching exactness than they had ever thought.

He is ‘longer than the earth,’ in that He surpasses our long-suffering by the patience of Divine long-suffering, which both bears with us in our sins, and welcomes us when we are turned from them to the rewards of His recompensing.

He is ‘wider than the sea,’ in that he everywhere enters into the doings of sinners by the presence of His retributive power, so that even when He is not seen present by His appearance, He is felt present by His judgment.

Yet all the particulars may be referred to man alone, so that he is himself ‘heaven,’ when now in desire he is attached to things above;

himself ‘hell,’ when he lies grovelling in things below, confounded by the mists of his temptations;

himself ‘earth,’ in that he is made to abound in good works through the fertility of a stedfast hope;

himself ‘the sea,’ for that on some occasions he is shaken with alarm, and agitated by the breath of his feebleness.

But God is ‘higher than heaven,’ in that we are subdued by the mightiness of His power, even when we are lifted above our own selves.

He is ‘deeper than hell,’ in that He goes deeper in judging than the very human mind looks into its own self in the midst of temptations.

He is ‘longer than the earth,’ in that those fruits of our life which He gives at the end, our very hope at the present time comprehends not at all.

He is ‘wider than the sea,’ in that the human mind being tossed to and fro throws out many fancies concerning the things that are coming, but when it now begins to see the things that it had made estimate of, it owns itself to have been too stinted in its reckoning.

Therefore He is made ‘higher than heaven,’ since our contemplation itself fails toward Him.

Gregory the Great (c.540-604): Moralia on Job, 10, 14-15 (on Job 11:8-9) @ Lectionary Central.

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