(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 7)

then, that he could have prevented it, had he seen fit to do so. But in
speaking of permission, I understand that he had appointed whatever he
wished to be done. Here, indeed, a difference arises on the part of many,
who suppose Adam to have been so left to his own free will, that God
would not have him fall. They take for granted, what I allow them, that
nothing is less probable than that God should he regarded as the cause of
sin, which he has avenged with so many and such severe penalties. When I
say, however, that Adam did not fall without the ordination and will of
God, I do not so take it as if sin had ever been pleasing to Him, or as
if he simply wished that the precept which he had given should be
violated. So far as the fall of Adam was the subversion of equity, and of
well-constituted order, so far as it was contumacy against the Divine
Law-giver, and the transgression of righteousness, certainly it was
against the will of God; yet none of these things render it impossible
that, for a certain cause, although to us unknown, he might will the fall
of man. It offends the ears of some, when it is said God willed this
fall; but what else, I pray, is the permission of Him, who has the power
of preventing, and in whose hand the whole matter is placed, but his
will? I wish that men would rather suffer themselves to be judged by God,
than that, with profane temerity, they should pass judgment upon him; but
this is the arrogance of the flesh to subject God to its own test. I hold
it as a settled axiom, that nothing is more unsuitable to the character
of God than for us to say that man was created by Him for the purpose of
being placed in a condition of suspense and doubt; wherefore I conclude,
that, as it became the Creator, he had before determined with himself
what should be man's future condition. Hence the unskilful rashly infer,
that man did not sin by free choice. For he himself perceives, being
convicted by the testimony of his own conscience, that he has been too
free in sinning. Whether he sinned by necessity, or by contingency, is
another question; respecting which see the Institution, and the treatise
on Predestination.
  "And he said unto the woman." The impious assail this passage with
their sneers, because Moses ascribes eloquence to an animal which only
faintly hisses with its forked tongue. And first they ask, at what time
animals began to be mute, if they then had a distinct language, and one
common to ourselves and them. The answer is ready; the serpent was not
eloquent by nature, but when Satan, by divine permission, procured it as
a fit instrument for his use, he uttered words also by its tongue, which
God himself permitted. Nor do I doubt that Eve perceived it to be
extraordinary, and on that account received with the greater avidity what
she admired. Now, if men decide that whatever is unwonted must be
fabulous, God could work no miracle. Here God, by accomplishing a work
above the ordinary course of nature, constrains us to admire his power.
If then, under this very pretext, we ridicule the power of God, because
it is not familiar to us, are we not excessively preposterous? Besides,
if it seems incredible that beasts should speak at the command of God,
how has man the power of speech, but because God has formed his tongue?
The Gospel declares, that voices were uttered in the air, without a
tongue, to illustrate the glory of Christ; this is less probable to
carnal reason, than that speech should be elicited from the mouth of
brute animals. What then can the petulance of impious men find here
deserving of their invective? In short, whosoever holds that God in
heaven is the Ruler of the world, will not deny his power over the
creatures, so that he can teach brute animals to speak when he pleases,
just as he sometimes renders eloquent men speechless. Moreover the
craftiness of Satan betrays itself in this, that he does not directly
assail the man, but approaches him, as through a mine, in the person of
his wife. This insidious method of attack is more than sufficiently known
to us at the present day, and I wish we might learn prudently to guard
ourselves against it. For he warily insinuates himself at that point at
which he sees us to be the least fortified, that he may not be perceived
till he should have penetrated where he wished. The woman does not flee
from converse with the serpent, because hitherto no dissension had
existed; she, therefore, accounted it simply as a domestic animal.
  The question occurs, what had impelled Satan to contrive the
destruction of man? Curious sophists have feigned that he burned with
envy, when he foresaw that the Son of God was to be clothed in human
flesh; but the speculation is frivolous. For since the Son of God was
made man in order to restore us, who were already lost, from our
miserable over throw, how could that be foreseen which would never have
happened unless man had sinned? If there be room for conjectures, it is
more probable that he was driven by a kind of fury, (as the desperate are
wont to be,) to hurry man away with himself into a participation of
eternal ruin. But it becomes us to be content with this single reasons
that since he was the adversary of God, he attempted to subvert the order
established by Him. And, because he could not drag God from his throne,
he assailed man, in whom His image shone. He knew that with the ruin of
man the most dreadful confusion would be produced in the whole world, as
indeed it happened, and therefore he endeavoured, in the person of man,
to obscure the glory of God. Rejecting, therefore, all vain figments, let
us hold fast this doctrine, which is both simple and solid.
  "Yea, has God said?" This sentence is variously expounded and even
distorted, partly because it is in itself obscure, and partly because of
the ambiguous import of the Hebrew particle. The expression "aph ki",
sometimes signifies "although" or "indeed," and sometimes, "how much
more." David Kimchi takes it in this last sense, and thinks that many
words had passed between them on both sides, before the serpent descended
to this point; namely, that having calumniated God on other accounts, he
at length thus concludes, Hence it much more appears how envious and
malignant he is towards you, because he has interdicted you from the tree
of the knowledge of good and evil. But this exposition is not only
forced, it is proved to be false by the reply of Eve. More correct is the
explanation of the Chaldean paraphrast, 'Is it true that God has
forbidden? &c.' Again, to some this appears a simple, to others an
ironical interrogation. It would be a simple interrogation, if it
injected a doubt in the following manner: 'Can it be, that God should
forbid the eating of any tree whatever?' but it would be ironical, if
used for the purpose of dissipating vain fear; as, 'It greatly concerns
God, indeed, whether you eat of the tree or not! It is, therefore,
ridiculous that you should think it to be forbidden you!' I subscribe the
more freely to the former opinion, because there is greater probability
that Satan, in order to deceive more covertly, would gradually proceed
with cautious prevarications to lead the woman to a contempt of the
divine precept. There are some who suppose that Satan expressly denies
the word which our first parents had heard, to have been the word of God.
Others think, (with whom I rather agree,) that, under the pretext of
inquiring into the cause, he would indirectly weaken their confidence in
the word. And certainly the old interpreter has translated the
expression, 'Why has God said?' which, although I do not altogether
approve, yet I have no doubt that the serpent urges the woman to seek out
the cause, since otherwise he would not have been able to draw away her
mind from God. Very dangerous is the temptation, when it is suggested to
us, that God is not to be obeyed except so far as the reason of his
command is apparent. The true rule of obedience is, that we being content
with a bare command, should persuade ourselves that whatever he enjoins
is just and right. But whosoever desires to be wise beyond measure, him
will Satan, seeing he has cast off all reverence for God, immediately
precipitate into open rebellion. As it respects grammatical construction,
I think the expression ought to be translated, 'Has God even said?' or,
'Is it so that God has said?' Yet the artifice of Satan is to be noticed,
for he wished to inject into the woman a doubt which might induce her to
believe that not to be the word of God, for which a plausible reason did
not manifestly appear.
  "Of every tree of the garden." Commentators offer a double
interpretation of these words. The former supposes Satan, for the sake of
increasing envy, to insinuate that all the trees had been forbidden. "Has
God indeed enjoined that you should not dare to touch any tree?" The
other interpretation, however, is, "Have you not then the liberty granted
you of eating promiscuously from whatever tree you please?" The former
more accords with the disposition of the devil, who would malignantly
amplify the prohibitions and seems to be sanctioned by Eve's reply. For
when she says, We do eat of all, one only excepted, she seems to repel
the calumny concerning a general prohibition. But because the latter
sense of the passage, which suggests the question concerning the simple
and bare prohibition of God, was more apt to deceive, it is more credible
that Satan, with his accustomed guile, should have begun his temptation
from this point, 'Is it possible for God to be unwilling that you should
gather the fruit of any tree whatever?' The answer of the woman, that
only one tree was forbidden, she means to be a defense of the command; as
if she would deny that it ought to seem harsh or burdensome, since God
had only excepted one single tree out of so great an abundance and
variety as he had granted to them. Thus, in these words there will be a
concession, that one tree was indeed forbidden; then, the refutation of a
calumny, because it is not arduous or difficult to abstain from one tree,
when others, without number are supplied, of which the use is permitted.
It was impossible for Eve more prudently or more courageously to repel
the assault of Satan, than by objecting against him, that she and her
husband had been so bountifully dealt with by the Lord, that the
advantages granted to them were abundantly sufficient, for she intimates
that they would be most ungrateful if, instead of being content with such
affluence they should desire more than was lawful. When she says, God has
forbidden them to eat or to touch, some suppose the second word to be
added for the purpose of charging God with too great severity, because he
prohibited them even from the touch. But I rather understand that she
hitherto remained in obedience, and expressed her pious disposition by
anxiously observing the precept of God; only, in proclaiming the
punishment, she begins to give ways by inserting the adverb "perhaps,"
when God has certainly pronounced, "Ye shall die the death." For although
with the Hebrews "pen" does not always imply doubt, yet, since it is
generally taken in this sense, I willingly embrace the opinion that the
woman was beginning to waver. Certainly, she had not death so immediately
before her eyes, should she become disobedient to God, as, she ought to
have had. She clearly proves that her perception of the true danger of
death was distant and cold.

4. "And the serpent said unto the woman." Satan now springs more boldly
forward; and because he sees a breach open before him, he breaks through
in a direct assault, for he is never wont to engage in open war until we
voluntarily expose ourselves to him, naked and unarmed. He cautiously
approaches us at first with blandishments; but when he has stolen in upon
us, he dares to exalt himself petulantly and with proud confidence
against God; just as he now seizing upon Eve's doubt, penetrates further,
that he may turn it into a direct negative. It behaves us to be
instructed, by much examples, to beware of his snares, and, by making
timely resistance, to keep him far from us, that nearer access may not be
permitted to him. He now, therefore, does not ask doubtingly, as before,
whether or not the command of God, which he opposes, be true, but openly
accuses God of falsehood, for he asserts that the word by which death was
denounced is false and delusive. Fatal temptation! when while God is
threatening us with death, we not only securely sleep, but hold God
himself in derision!

5. "For God does know". There are those who think that God is here
craftily praised by Satan, as if He never would prohibit men from the use
of wholesome fruit. But they manifestly contradict themselves, for they
at the some time confess that in the preceding member of the sentence he
had already declared God to be unworthy of confidence, as one who had
lied. Others suppose that he charges God with malignity and envy, as
wishing to deprive man of his highest perfection; and this opinion is
more probable than the other. Nevertheless, (according to my judgments)
Satan attempts to prove what he had recent]y asserted, reasoning,
however, from contraries: God, he says, has interdicted to you the tree,
that he may not be compelled to admit you to the participation of his
glory; therefore, the fear of punishment is quite needless. In short, he
denies that a fruit which is useful and salutary can be injurious. When
he says, "God does know," he censures God as being moved by jealousy: and
as having given the command concerning the tree, for the purpose of
keeping man in an inferior rank.
  "Ye shall be as gods." Some translate it, 'Ye shall be like angels.' It
might even be rendered in the singular number, 'Ye shall be as God.' I
have no doubt that Satan promises them divinity; as if he had said, For
no other reason does God defraud you of the tree of knowledge, than
because he fears to have you as companions. Moreover, it is not without
some show of reason that he makes the Divine glory, or equality with God,
to consist in the perfect knowledge of good and evil; but it is a mere
pretence, for the purpose of ensnaring the miserable woman. Because the
desire of knowledge is naturally inherent in and happiness is supposed to
be placed in it; but Eve erred in not regulating the measure of her
knowledge by the will of God. And we all daily suffer under the same
disease, because we desire to know more than is right, and more than God
allows; whereas the principal point of wisdom is a well-regulated
sobriety in obedience to God.

6. "And when the woman saw." This impure look of Eve, infected with the
poison of concupiscence, was both the messenger and the witness of an
impure heart. She could previously behold the tree with such sincerity,
that no desire to eat of it affected her mind; for the faith she had in
the word of God was the best guardian of her heart, and of all her
senses. But now, after the heart had declined from faith, and from
obedience to the word, she corrupted both herself and all her senses, and
depravity was diffused through all parts of her soul as well as her body.
It is, therefore, a sign of impious defection, that the woman now judges
the tree to be good for food, eagerly delights herself in beholding it,
and persuades herself that it is desirable for the sake of acquiring
wisdom; whereas before she had passed by it a hundred times with an
unmoved and tranquil look. For now, having shaken off the bridle, her
mind wanders dissolutely and intemperately, drawing the body with it to
the same licentiousness. The word "lehaskil," admits of two explanations:
That the tree was desirable either to be looked upon or to impart
prudence. I prefer the latter sense, as better corresponding with the
  "And gave also unto her husband with her." From these words, some
conjecture that Adam was present when his wife was tempted and persuaded
by the serpent, which is by no means credible. Yet it might be that he
soon joined her, and that, even before the woman tasted the fruit of the
tree, she related the conversation held with the serpent, and entangled
him with the same fallacies by which she herself had been deceived.
Others refer the particle "immah", "with her," to the conjugal bond,
which may be received. But because Moses simply relates that he ate the
fruit taken from the hands of his wife, the opinion has been commonly
received, that he was rather captivated with her allurements than
persuaded by Satan's impostures. For this purpose the declaration of Paul
is adduced, 'Adam was not deceived, but the woman.' (I Tim. 2: 14.) But
Paul in that place, as he is teaching that the origin of evil was from
the woman, only speaks comparatively. Indeed, it was not only for the
sake of complying with the wishes of his wife, that he transgressed the
law laid down for him; but being drawn by her into fatal ambition, he
became partaker of the same defection with her. And truly Paul elsewhere
states that sin came not by the woman, but by Adam himself, (Rom. 5: 12.)
Then, the reproof which soon afterwards follows 'Behold, Adam is as one
of us,' clearly proves that he also foolishly coveted more than was
lawful, and gave greater credit to the flatteries of the devil than to
the sacred word of God.
  It is now asked, What was the sin of both of them? The opinion of some
of the ancients, that they were allured by intemperance of appetite, is
puerile. For when there was such an abundance of the choicest fruits what
daintiness could there be about one particular kind? Augustine is more
correct, who says, that pride was the beginning of all evils, and that by
pride the human race was ruined. Yet a fuller definition of the sin may
be drawn from the kind of temptation which Moses describes. For first the
woman is led away from the word of God by the wiles of Satan, through
unbelief. Wherefore, the commencement of the ruin by which the human race
was overthrown was a defection from the command of God. But observe, that
men then revolted from God, when, having forsaken his word, they lent
their ears to the falsehoods of Satan. Hence we infer, that God will be
seen and adored in his word; and, therefore, that all reverence for him
is shaken off when his word is despised. A doctrine most useful to be
known, for the word of God obtains its due honour only with few so that
they who rush onward with impunity in contempt of this word, yet arrogate
to themselves a chief rank among the worshippers of God. But as God does
not manifest himself to men otherwise than through the word, so neither
is his majesty maintained, nor does his worship remain secure among us
any longer than while we obey his word. Therefore, unbelief was the root
of defection; just as faith alone unites us to God. Hence flowed ambition
and pride, so that the woman first, and then her husband, desired to
exalt themselves against God. For truly they did exalt themselves against
God, when, honour having been divinely conferred upon them, they not
contented with such excellence, desired to know more than was lawful, in
order that they might become equal with God. Here also monstrous
ingratitude betrays itself. They had been made in the likeness of God;
but this seems a small thing unless equality be added. Now, it is not to
be endured that designing and wicked men should labour in vain, as well
as absurdly, to extenuate the sin of Adam and his wife. For apostasy is
no light offense, but detestable wickedness, by which man withdraws
himself from the authority of his Creator, yea, even rejects and denies
him. Besides it was not simple apostasy, but combined with atrocious
contumelies and reproaches against God himself. Satan accuses God of
falsehoods of envy, and of malignity, and our first parents subscribe to
a calumny thus vile and execrable. At length, having despised the command
of God, they not only indulge their own lust, but enslave themselves to
the devil. If any one prefers a shorter explanation, we may say unbelief
has opened the door to ambition, but ambition has proved the parent of
rebellion, to the end that men, having cast aside the fear of God, might
shake off his yoke. On this account, Paul teaches use that by the
disobedience of Adam sin entered into the world. Let us imagine that
there was nothing worse than the transgression of the command; we shall
not even thus have succeeded far in extenuating the fault of Adam. God,
having both made him free in everything, and appointed him as king of the
world, chose to put his obedience to the proof, in requiring abstinence
from one tree alone. This condition did not please him. Perverse
declaimers may plead in excuse, that the woman was allured by the beauty
of the tree, and the man ensnared by the blandishments of Eve. Yet the
milder the authority of God, the less excusable was their perverseness in
rejecting it. But we must search more deeply for the origin and cause of
sin. For never would they have dared to resist God, unless they had first
been incredulous of his word. And nothing allured them to covet the fruit
but mad ambition. So long as they firmly believing in God's word, freely
suffered themselves to be governed by Him, they had serene and duly
regulated affections. For, indeed, their best restraint was the thoughts
which entirely occupied their minds, that God is just, that nothing is
better than to obey his commands and that to be loved by him is the
consummation of a happy life. But after they had given place to Satan's
blasphemy, they began, like persons fascinated, to lose reason and
judgment; yea, since they were become the slaves of Satan; he held their
very senses bound. Still further, we know that sins are not estimated in
the sight of God by the external appearance, but by the inward
  Again, it appears to many absurd, that the defection of our first
parents is said to have proved the destruction of the whole race; and, on
this accounts they freely bring an accusation against God. Pelagius, on
the other hand, lest, as he falsely feared, the corruption of human
nature should be charged upon God, ventured to deny original sin. But an
error so gross is plainly refuted, not only by solid testimonies of
Scripture, but also by experience itself. The corruption of our nature
was unknown to the philosophers who, in other respects, were
sufficiently, and more than sufficiently, acute. Surely this stupor
itself was a signal proof of original sin. For all who are not utterly
blinds perceive that no part of us is sound; that the mind is smitten
with blindness, and infected with innumerable errors; that all the
affections of the heart are full of stubbornness and wickedness; that
vile lusts, or other diseases equally fatal, reign there; and that all
the senses burst forth with many vices. Since, however none but God alone
is a proper judge in this cause, we must acquiesce in the sentence which
he has pronounced in the Scriptures. In the first place, Scripture
clearly teaches us that we are born vicious and perverse. The cavil of
Pelagius was frivolous, that sin proceeded from Adam by imitation. For
David, while still enclosed in his mother's womb, could not be an
imitator of Adam, yet he confesses that he was conceived in sin, (Psalm
51: 5.) A fuller proof of this matter, and a more ample definition of
original sin, may be found in the Institutes; yet here, in a single word,
I will attempt to show how far it extends. Whatever in our nature is
vicious--since it is not lawful to ascribe it to God--we justly reject as
sin. But Paul (Rom. 3: 10) teaches that corruption does not reside in one
part only, but pervades the whole soul, and each of its faculties. Whence
it follows, that they childishly err who regard original sin as
consisting only in lust, and in the inordinate motion of the appetites,
whereas it seizes upon the very seat of reason, and upon the whole heart.
To sin is annexed condemnation, or, as Paul speaks, 'By man came sin, and
by sin, death,'(Rom. 5: 12.) Wherefore he elsewhere pronounces us to be
'the children of wrath;' as if he would subject us to an eternal curse,
(Ephes. 2: 3.) In short, that we are despoiled of the excellent gifts of
the Holy Spirit, of the light of reason, of justice, and of rectitude,
and are prone to every evil; that we are also lost and condemned, and
subjected to death, is both our hereditary condition, and, at the same
time, a just punishments which God, in the person of Adam, has indicted
on the human race. Now, if any one should object, that it is unjust for
the innocent to bear the punishment of another's sin, I answer, whatever
gifts God had conferred upon us in the person of Adams he had the best
right to take away, when Adam wickedly fell. Nor is it necessary to
resort to that ancient figment of certain writers, that souls are derived
by descent from our first parents. For the human race has not naturally
derived corruption through its descent frown Adam; but that result is
rather to be traced to the appointment of God, who, as he had adorned the
whole nature of mankind with most excellent endowments in one man, so in
the same man he again denuded it. But now, from the time in which we were
corrupted in Adam, we do not bear the punishment of another's offense,
but are guilty by our own fault.
  A question is mooted by some, concerning the time of this fall, or
rather ruin. The opinion has been pretty generally received, that they
fell on the day they were created; and, therefore Augustine writes, that
they stood only for six hours. The conjecture of others, that the
temptation was delayed by Satan till the Sabbath, in order to profane
that sacred day, is but weak. And certainly, by instances like these, all
pious persons are admonished sparingly to indulge themselves in doubtful
speculations. As for myself, since I have nothing to assert positively
respecting the time, so I think it may be gathered from the narration of
Moses, that they did not long retain the dignity they had received; for
as soon as he has said they were created, he passes, without the mention
of any other thing, to their fall. If Adam had lived but a moderate space
of time with his wife, the blessing of God would not have been unfruitful
in the production of offspring; but Moses intimates that they were
deprived of God's benefits before they had become accustomed to use them.
I therefore readily subscribe to the exclamation of Augustine, 'O
wretched freewill, which, while yet entire, had so little stability!'
And, to say no more respecting the shortness of the time, the admonition
of Bernard is worthy of remembrance: 'Since we read that a fall so
dreadful took place in Paradise, what shall we do on the dunghill?' At
the same time, we must keep in memory by what pretext they were led into
this delusion so fatal to themselves, and to all their posterity.
Plausible was the adulation of Satan, 'Ye shall know good and evil;' but
that knowledge was therefore accursed, because it was sought in
preference to the favour of God. Wherefore, unless we wish, of our own
accord, to fasten the same snares upon ourselves, let us learn entirely
to depend upon the sole will of God, whom we acknowledge as the Author of
all good. And, since the Scripture everywhere admonishes us of our
nakedness and poverty, and declares that we may recover in Christ what we
have lost in Adams let us, renouncing all self-confidence, offer
ourselves empty to Christ, that he may fill us with his own riches.

7. "And the eyes of them both were opened." It was necessary that the
eyes of Eve should be veiled till her husband also was deceived; but now
both, being alike bound by the chain of an unhappy consent, begin to be
sensible of their wretchedness although they are not yet affected with a
deep knowledge of their fault. They are ashamed of their nakedness, yet,
though convinced, they do not humble themselves before God, nor fear his
judgements as they ought; they even do not cease to resort to evasions.
Some progress, however, is made; for whereas recently they would, like
giants, assault heaven by storm; now, confounded with a sense of their
own ignominy, they flee to hiding-places. And truly this opening of the
eyes in our first parents to discern their baseness, clearly proves them
to have been condemned by their own judgment. They are not yet summoned
to the tribunal of God; there is none who accuses them; is not then the
sense of shame, which rises spontaneously, a sure token of guilt? The
eloquence, therefore, of the whole world will avail nothing to deliver
those from condemnation, whose own conscience has become the judge to
compel them to confess their fault. It rather becomes us all to open our
eyes, that, being confounded at our own disgrace, we may give to God the
glory which is his due. God created man flexible; and not only permitted,
but willed that he should be tempted. For he both adapted the tongue of
the serpent beyond the ordinary use of nature, to the devil's purpose,
just as if any one should furnish another with a sword and armour; and
then, though the unhappy event was foreknown by him, he did not apply the
remedy, which he had the power to do. On the other hand, when we come to
speak of man, he will be found to have sinned voluntarily, and to have
departed from God, his Maker, by a movement of the mind not less free
than perverse. Nor ought we to call that a light fault, which, refusing
credit to the word of God, exalted itself against him by impious and
sacrilegious emulation, which would not be subject to his authority, and
which, finally, both proudly and perfidiously revolted from him.
Therefore, whatever sin and fault there is in the fall of our first
parents remains with themselves; but there is sufficient reason why the
eternal counsel of God preceded it, though that reason is concealed from
us. We see, indeed, some good fruit daily springing from a ruin so
dreadful, inasmuch as God instructs us in humility by our miseries and
then more clearly illustrates his own goodness; for his grace is more
abundantly poured forth, through Christ, upon the world, than it was
imparted to Adam in the beginning. Now, if the reason why this is so lies
beyond our reach, it is not wonderful that the secret counsel of God
should be to us like a labyrinth.
  "And they sewed fig-leaves together." What I lately said, that they had
not been brought either by true shame or by serious fear to repentance,
is now more manifest. They sew together for themselves girdles of leaves.
For what end? That they may keep God at a distance, as by an invincible
barrier! Their sense of evil, therefore, was only confused, and combined
with dulness, as is wont to be the case in unquiet sleep. There is none
of us who does not smile at their folly, since, certainly, it was
ridiculous to place such a covering before the eyes of God. In the
meanwhile, we are all infected with the same disease; for, indeed, we
tremble, and are covered with shame at the first compunctions of
conscience; but self-indulgence soon steals in, and induces us to resort
to vain trifles, as if it were an easy thing to delude God. Therefore
unless conscience be more closely pressed there is no shadow of excuse
too faint and fleeting to obtain our acquiescence; and even if there be
no pretext whatever, we still make pleasures for ourselves, and, by an
oblivion of three days' duration, we imagine that we are well covered. In
short, the cold and faints knowledge of sin, which is inherent in the
minds of men, is here described by Moses, in
order that they may be rendered inexcusable. Quaeri tamen potest, si tota
natura peccati sordibus infecta est, cur tantum una in parte corporis
deformitas appareat. Neque enim faciem vel pectus operiunt Adam et Heva:
sed tantum pudenda quae vocamus. Hac occasione factum esse arbitror ut
vulgo non aliam vit corruptelam agnoscerent quam in libidine venerea.

Atqui expendere debebant, non minorem fuisse in oculis et auribus
verecundiae causam, quam in parte genitali, quae peccato nondum foedata
erat: quum aures et oculi inquinassent Adam et Heva, et diabolo quasi
arma praebuissent. Sed Deo fuit satis, extare in corpore humano aliquam
pudeudam notam, quae nos peccati commonefaciat. Then (as we have already
said) Adam and his wife were yet ignorant of their own vileness, since
with a covering so light they attempted to hide themselves from the
presence of God.

8. "And they heard the voice of the Lord God." As soon as the voice of
God sounds, Adam and Eve perceive that the leaves by which they thought
themselves well protected are of no avail. Moses here relates nothing
which does not remain in human nature, and may be clearly discerned at
the present day. The difference between good and evil is engraven on the
hearts of all, as Paul teaches, (Rom. 2: 15;) but all bury the disgrace
of their vices under flimsy leaves till God, by his voice, strikes
inwardly their consciences. Hence, after God had shaken them out of their
torpor, their alarmed consciences compelled them to hear his voice.
Moreover, what Jerome translates, 'at the breeze after midday,' is, in
the Hebrew, 'at the wind of the day;' the Greeks, omitting the word
'wind,' have put 'at the evening.' Thus the opinion has prevailed, that
Adam, having sinned about noon, was called to judgment about sunset. But
I rather incline to a different conjecture, namely, that being covered
with their garment, they passed the night in silence and quiet, the
darkness aiding their hypocrisy; then, about sunrise, being again
thoroughly awakened, they recollected themselves. We know that at the
rising of the sun the air is naturally excited; together, then, with this
gentle breeze, God appeared; but Moses would improperly have called the
evening air that of the day. Others take the word as describing the
southern part or region; and certainly "ruach" sometimes among the
Hebrews signifies one or another region of the world. Others think that
the time is here specified as one least exposed to terrors, for in the
clear light there is the greater security; and thus, they conceive, is
fulfilled what the Scripture declares that they who have accusing
consciences are always anxious and disquieted, even without any danger.
To this point they refer what is added respecting the wind, as if Adam
was terrified at the sound of a falling leaf. But what I have advanced is
more true and simple, that what was hid under the darkness of the night
was detected at the rising of the sun. Yet I do not doubt that some
notable symbol of the presence of God was in that gentle breeze; for
although (as I have lately said) the rising sun is wont daily to stir up
some breath of air, this is not opposed to the supposition that God gave
some extraordinary sign of his approach, to arouse the consciences of
Adam and his wife. For, since he is in himself incomprehensible, he
assumes, when he wishes to manifest himself to men, those marks by which
he may be known. David calls the winds the messengers of God, on the
wings of which he rides, or rather flies, with incredible velocity.
(Psal. 104: 3.) But, as often as he sees good, he uses the winds, as well
as other created things, beyond the order of nature, according to his own
will. Therefore, Moses, in here mentioning the wind, intimates (according
to my judgment) that some unwonted and remarkable symbol of the Divine
presence was put forth which should vehemently affect the minds of our
first parents. This resource, namely, that of fleeing from God's

(continued in part 8...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-07.txt