(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 8)

presence, was nothing better than the former; since God, with his voice
alone, soon brings back the fugitives. It is. written, 'Whither shall I
flee from thy presence? If I traverse the sea, if I take wings and ascend
above the clouds, if I descend into the profound abyss, thou, Lord, wilt
be everywhere,' (Ps. 139: 7.) This we all confess to be true; yet we do
not, in the meantime, cease to snatch at vain subterfuges; and we fancy
that shadows of any kind will prove a most excellent defense. Nor is it
to be here omitted, that he, who had found a few leaves to be unavailing,
fled to whole trees; for so we are accustomed, when shut out from
frivolous cavils, to frame new excuses, which may hide us as under a
denser shade. When Moses says that Adam and his wife hid themselves 'in
the midst of the tree of Paradise,' I understand that the singular member
is put for the plural; as if he had said, among the trees.

9. "And the Lord God called unto Adam." They had been already smitten by
the voice of God, but they lay confounded under the trees, until another
voice more effectually penetrated their minds. Moses says that Adam was
called by the Lord. Had he not been called before? The former, however,
was a confused sound, which had no sufficient force to press upon the
conscience. Therefore God now approaches nearer, and from the tangled
thicket of trees draws him, however unwilling and resisting, forth into
the midst. In the same manner we also are alarmed at the voice of God, as
soon as his law sounds in our ears; but presently we snatch at shadows,
until he, calling upon us more vehemently, compels us to come forward,
arraigned at his tribunal. Paul calls this the life of the Law, when it
slays us by charging us with our sins. For as long as we are pleased with
ourselves, and are inflated with a false notion that we are alive, the
law is dead to us, because we blunt its point by our hardness; but when
it pierces us more sharply, we are driven into new terrors.

10. "And he said, I heard thy voice." Although this seems to be the
confession of a dejected and humbled man, it will nevertheless soon
appear that he was not yet properly subdued, nor led to repentance. He
imputes his fear to the voice of God, and to his own nakedness, as, if he
had never before heard God speaking without being alarmed, and had not
been even sweetly exhilarated by his speech. His excessive stupidity
appears in this, that he fails to recognize the cause of shame in his
sin; he, therefore, shows that he does not yet so feel his punishment, as
to confess his fault. In the meantime, he proves what I said before to be
true, that original sin does not reside in one part of the body only, but
holds its dominion over the whole man, and so occupies every part of the
soul, that none remains in its integrity; for, notwithstanding his
fig-leaves, he still dreads the presence of God.

11. "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" An indirect reprimand to
reprove the sottishness of Adam in not perceiving his fault in his
punishment, as if it had been said, not simply that Adam was afraid at
the voice of God, but that the voice of his judge was formidable to him
because he was a sinner. Also, that not his nakedness, but the turpitude
of the vice by which he had defiled himself, was the cause of fear; and
certainly he was guilty of intolerable impiety against God in seeking the
origin of evil in nature. Not that he would accuse God in express terms;
but deploring his own misery, and dissembling the fact that he was
himself the author of it, he malignantly transfers to God the charge
which he ought to have brought against himself. What the Vulgate
translates, 'Unless it be that thou hast eaten of the tree,' is rather an
interrogation. God asks, in the language of doubt, not as if he were
searching into some disputable matter, but for the purpose of piercing
more acutely the stupid man, who, labouring under fatal disease, is yet
unconscious of his malady; just as a sick man, who complains that he is
burning, yet thinks not of fever. Let us, however remember that we shall
profit nothing by any prevarications but that God will always bind us by
a most just accusation in the sin of Adam. The clause, "whereof I
commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat," is added to remove the
pretext of ignorance. For God intimates that Adam was admonished in time;
and that he fell from no other cause than this, that he knowingly and
voluntarily brought destruction upon himself. Again, the atrocious nature
of sin is marked in this transgression and rebellion; for, as nothing is
more acceptable to God than obedience, so nothing is more intolerable
than when men, having spurned his commandments, obey Satan and their own

12. "The woman whom thou gavest to be with me." The boldness of Adam now
more clearly betrays itself; for, so far from being subdued, he breaks
forth into coarser blasphemy. He had before been tacitly expostulating
with God; now he begins openly to contend with him, and triumphs as one
who has broken through all barriers. Whence we perceive what a refractory
and indomitable creature man began to be when he became alienated from
God; for a lively picture of corrupt nature is presented to us in Adam
from the moment of his revolt. 'Every one,' says James, 'is tempted by
his own concupiscence,' (James 1: 14;) and even Adam, not otherwise than
knowingly and willingly, had set himself, as a rebel, against God. Yet,
just as if conscious of no evil, he puts his wife as the guilty party in
his place. 'Therefore I have eaten,' he says, 'because she gave.' And not
content with this, he brings, at the same time, an accusation against
God; objecting that the wife, who had brought ruin upon him, had been
given by God. We also, trained in the same school of original sin, are
too ready to resort to subterfuges of the same kind; but to no purpose;
for howsoever incitements and instigations from other quarters may impel
us, yet the unbelief which seduces us from obedience to God is within us;
the pride is within which brings forth contempt.

13. "And the Lord God said unto the woman." God contends no further with
the man, nor was it necessary; for he aggravates rather than diminishes
his crime, first by a frivolous defence, then by an impious disparagement
of God, in short, though he rages he is yet held convicted. The Judge now
turns to the woman, that the cause of both being heard, he may at length
pronounce sentence. The old interpreter thus renders God's address: 'Why
hast thou done this?' But the Hebrew phrase has more vehemence; for it is
the language of one who wonders as at something prodigious. It ought
therefore rather to be rendered, 'How hast thou done this?' as if he had
said, 'How was it possible that thou shouldst bring thy mind to be so
perverse a counsellor to thy husband?'

  "The serpent beguiled me." Eve ought to have been confounded at the
portentous wickedness concerning which she was admonished. Yet she is not
struck dumb, but, after the example of her husband, transfers the charge
to another; by laying the blame on the serpent, she foolishly, indeed,
and impiously, thinks herself absolved. For her answer comes at length to
this: 'I received from the serpent what thou hadst forbidden; the
serpent, therefore, was the impostor.' But who compelled Eve to listen to
his fallacies, and even to place confidence in them more readily than in
the word of God? Lastly, how did she admit them, but by throwing open and
betraying that door of access which God had sufficiently fortified? But
the fruit of original sin everywhere presents itself; being blind in its
own hypocrisy, it would gladly render God mute and speechless. And whence
arise daily so many murmurs, but because God does not hold his peace
whenever we choose to blind ourselves?

14. "And the Lord God said unto the serpent." He does not interrogate the
serpent as he had done the man and the woman; because, in the animal
itself there was no sense of sin, and because, to the devil he would hold
out no hope of pardon. He might truly, by his own authority, have
pronounced sentence against Adam and Eve, though unheard. Why then does
he call them to undergo examination, except that he has a care for their
salvation? This doctrine is to be applied to our benefit. There would be
no need of any trial of the cause, or of any solemn form of judgment, in
order to condemn us; wherefore, while God insists upon extorting a
confession from us, he acts rather as a physician than as a judge. There
is the same reason why the Lords before he imposes punishment on man,
begins with the serpent. For corrective punishments (as we shall see) are
of a different kind, and are inflicted with the design of leading us to
repentance; but in this there is nothing of the sort.
  It is, however, doubtful to whom the words refer, whether to the
serpent or to the devil. Moses, indeed, says that the serpent was a
skilful and cunning animal; yet it is certain, that, when Satan was
devising the destruction of man, the serpent was guiltless of his fraud
and wickedness. Wherefore, many explain this whole passage allegorically,
and plausible are the subtleties which they adduce for this purpose. But
when all things are more accurately weighed, readers endued with sound
judgment will easily perceive that the language is of a mixed character;
for God so addresses the serpent that the last clause belongs to the
devil. If it seem to any one absurd, that the punishment of another's
fraud should be exacted from a brute animal, the solution is at hand;
that, since it had been created for the benefit of man, there was nothing
improper in its being accursed from the moment that it was employed for
his destruction. And by this act of vengeance God would prove how highly
he estimates the salvation of man; just as if a father should hold the
sword in execration by which his son had been slain. And here we must
consider, not only the kind of authority which God has over his
creatures, but also the end for which he created them, as I have recently
said. For the equity of the divine sentence depends on that order of
nature which he has sanctioned; it has, therefore, no affinity whatever
with blind revenge. In this manner the reprobate will be delivered over
into eternal fire with their bodies; which bodies, although they are not
self-moved, are yet the instruments of perpetrating evil. So whatever
wickedness a man commits is ascribed to his hands, and, therefore, they
are deemed polluted; while yet they do not more themselves, except so far
as, under the impulse of a depraved affection of the heart, they carry
into execution what has been there conceived. According to this method of
reasoning, the serpent is said to have done what the devil did by its
means. But if God so severely avenged the destruction of man upon a brute
animal, much less did he spare Satan, the author of the whole evil, as
will appear more clearly in the concluding part of the address.
  "Thou art cursed above all cattle." This curse of God has such force
against the serpents as to render it despicable, and scarcely tolerable
to heaven and earth, leading a life exposed to, and replete with,
constant terrors. Besides, it is not only hateful to us, as the chief
enemy of the human race, but, being separated also from other animals,
carries on a kind of war with nature; for we see it had before been so
gentle that the woman did not flee from its familiar approach. But what
follows has greater difficulty because that which God denounces as a
punishment seems to be natural; namely, that it should creep upon its
belly and eat dust. This objection has induced certain men of learning
and ability to say, that the serpent had been accustomed to walk with an
erect body before it had been abused by Satan. There will, however, be no
absurdity in supposing, that the serpent was again consigned to that
former condition, to which he was already naturally subject. For thus he,
who had exalted himself against the image of God, was to be thrust back
into his proper rank; as if it had been said, 'Thou, a wretched and
filthy animal, hast dared to rise up against man, whom I appointed to the
dominion of the whole world; as if, truly, thou, who art fixed to the
earth, hadst any right to penetrate into heaven. Therefore, I now throw
thee back again to the place whence thou hast attempted to emerge, that
thou mayest learn to be contented with thy lot, and no more exalt
thyself, to man's reproach and injury.' In the meanwhile he is recalled
from his insolent motions to his accustomed mode of going, in such a way
as to be, at the same time, condemned to perpetual infamy. To eat dust is
the sign of a vile and sordid nature. This (in my opinion) is the simple
meaning of the passage, which the testimony of Isaiah also confirms,
(chap. 65: 25;) for while he promises under the reign of Christ, the
complete restoration of a sound and well-constituted nature, he records,
among other things, that dust shall be to the serpent for bread.
Wherefore, it is not necessary to seek for any fresh change in each
particular which Moses here relates.

15. "I will put enmity." I interpret this simply to mean that there
should always be the hostile strife between the human race and serpents,
which is now apparent; for, by a secret feeling of nature, man abhors
them. It is regarded, as among prodigies, that some men take pleasure in
them; and as often as the sight of a serpent inspires us with horrors the
memory of our fall is renewed. With this I combine in one continued
discourse what immediately follows: 'It shall wound thy head, and thou
shalt wound its heel.' For he declares that there shall be such hatred
that on both sides they shall be troublesome to each other; the serpent
shall be vexatious towards men, and men shall be intent on the
destruction of serpents. Meanwhile, we see that the Lord acts mercifully
in chastising man, whom he does not suffer Satan to touch except in the
heel; while he subjects the head of the serpent to be wounded by him. For
in the terms head and heel there is a distinction between the superior
and the inferior. And thus God leaves some remains of dominion to man;
because he so places the mutual disposition to injure each other, that
yet their condition should not be equal, but man should be superior in
the conflict. Jerome, in turning the first member of the sentence, 'Thou
shalt bruise the head;' and the second, "Thou shalt be ensnared in the
heel,' does it without reason, for the same verb is repeated by Moses;
the difference is to be noted only in the head and the heel, as I have
just now said. Yet the Hebrew verb whether derived from "shof", or from;
"shafah", some interpret to bruise or to strihe, others to bite. I have,
however, no doubt that Moses wished to allude to the name of the serpent
which is called in Hebrew "shififon", from "shafah", or "shof".
  We must now make a transition from the serpent to the author of this
mischief himself; and that not only in the way of comparison, for there
truly is a literal analogy; because God has not so vented his anger upon
the outward instrument as to spare the devil, with whom lay all the
blame. That this may the more certainly appear to us, it is worth the
while first to observe that the Lord spoke not for the sake of the
serpent but of the man; fur what end could it answer to thunder against
the serpent in unintelligible words? Wherefore respect was had to men;
both that they might be affected with a greater dread of sin, seeing how
highly displeasing it is to God, and that hence they might take
consolation for their misery, because they would perceive that God is
still propitious to them. But now it is obvious to and how slender and
insignificant would be the argument for a good hope, if mention were here
made of a serpent only; because nothing would be then provided for,
except the fading and transient life of the body. Men would remain, in
the meanwhile, the slaves of Satan, who would proudly triumph over them,
and trample on their heads. Wherefore, that God might revive the fainting
minds of men, and restore them when oppressed by despair, it became
necessary to promise them, in their posterity victory over Satan, through
whose wiles they had been ruined. This, then, was the only salutary
medicine which could recover the lost, and restore life to the dead. I
therefore conclude, that God here chiefly assails Satan under the name of
the serpent, and hurls against him the lightning of his judgment. This he
does for a twofold reason: first, that men may learn to beware of Satan
as of a most deadly enemy; then, that they may contend against him with
the assured confidence of victory.
  Now, though all do not dissent in their minds from Satan yea, a great
part adhere to him too familiarly--yet, in reality, Satan is their enemy;
nor do even those cease to dread him whom he soothes by his flatteries;
and because he knows that the minds of men are set against him, he
craftily insinuates himself by indirect methods, and thus deceives them
under a disguised form. In short, it is in grafted in us by nature to
flee from Satan as our adversary. And, in order to show that he should be
odious not to one generation only, God expressly says, 'between thee and
the seed of the woman,' as widely indeed, as the human race shall be
propagated. He mentions the woman on this account, because, as she had
yielded to the subtlety of the devils and being first deceived, had drawn
her husband into the participation of her ruin, so she had peculiar need
of consolation.
  "I shall bruise." This passage affords too clear a proof of the great
ignorance, dullness, and carelessness, which have prevailed among all the
learned men of the Papacy. The feminine gender has crept in instead of
the masculine or neuter. There has been none among them who would consult
the Hebrew or Greek codices, or who would even compare the Latin copies
with each other. Therefore, by a common error, this most corrupt reading
has been received. Then, a profane exposition of it has been invented, by
applying to the mother of Christ what is said concerning her seed.
  There is, indeed no ambiguity in the words here used by Moses; but I do
not agree with others respecting their meaning; for other interpreters
take the seed for Christ, without controversy; as if it were said, that
some one would arise from the seed of the woman who should wound the
serpent's head. Gladly would I give my suffrage in support of their
opinion, but that I regard the word seed as too violently distorted by
them; for who will concede that a collective noun is to be understood of
one man only? Further, as the perpetuity of the contest is noted, so
victory is promised to the human race through a continual succession of
ages. I explain, therefore, the seed to mean the posterity of the woman
generally. But since experience teaches that not all the sons of Adam by
far, arise as conquerors of the devil, we must necessarily come to one
head, that we may find to whom the victory belongs. So Paul, from the
seed of Abraham, leads us to Christ; because many were degenerate sons,
and a considerable part adulterous, through infidelity; whence it follows
that the unity of the body flows from the head. Wherefore, the sense will
be (in my judgment) that the human race, which Satan was endeavouring to
oppress, would at length be victorious. In the meantime, we must keep in
mind that method of conquering which the Scripture describes. Satan has,
in all ages, led the sons of men "captive at his will," and, to this day,
retains his lamentable triumph over them, and for that reason is called
the "prince of the world," (John 12: 31.) But because one stronger than
he has descended from heaven, who will subdue him, hence it comes to pass
that, in the same manner, the whole Church of God, under its Head, will
gloriously exult over him. To this the declaration of Paul refers, "The
Lord shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly," (Rom. 16: 20.) By which
words he signifies that the power of bruising Satan is imparted to
faithful men, and thus the blessing is the common property of the whole
Church; but he, at the same time, admonishes us, that it only has its
commencement in this world; because God crowns none but well-tried

16. "Unto the woman he said." In order that the majesty of the judge may
shine the more brightly, God uses no long disputation; whence also we may
perceive of what avail are all our tergiversations with him. In bringing
the serpent forward, Eve thought she had herself escaped. God,
disregarding her cavils, condemns her. Let the sinner, therefore, when he
comes to the bar of God, cease to contend, lest he should more severely
provoke against himself the anger of him whom he has already too highly
offended. We must now consider the kind of punishment imposed upon the
woman. When he says, 'I will multiply thy pains,' he comprises all the
trouble women sustain during pregnancy, ex quo gravidiae esse incipiunt,
fastidium cibi, deliquia, lassitudines, aliaque innumera, usque dum
ventum est ad partum, qui acerbissima tormenta secum affert. It is
credible that the woman would have brought forth without pain, or at
least without such great suffering, if she had stood in her original
condition; but her revolt from God subjected her to inconveniences of
this kind. The expression, 'pains and conception,' is to be taken by the
figure hypallage, for the pains which they endure in consequence of
conception. The second punishment which he exacts is subjection. For this
form of speech, "Thy desire shall be unto thy husband," is of the same
force as if he had said that she should not be free and at her own
command, but subject to the authority of her husband and dependent upon
his will; or as if he had said, 'Thou shalt desire nothing but what thy
husband wishes.' As it is declared afterwards, "Unto thee shall be his
desire," (chap. 4: 7.) Thus the woman, who had perversely exceeded her
proper bounds, is forced back to her own position. She had, indeed,
previously been subject to her husband, but that was a liberal and gentle
subjection; now, however, she is cast into servitude.

17. "And unto Adam he said." In the first place, it is to be observed,
that punishment was not inflicted upon the first of our race so as to
rest on those two alone, but was extended generally to all their
posterity, in order that we might know that the human race was cursed in
their person; we next observe, that they were subjected only to temporal
punishment, that, from the moderation of the divine anger, they might
entertain hope of pardon. God, by adducing the reason why he thus
punishes the man, cuts off from him the occasion of murmuring. For no
excuse was left to him who had obeyed his wife rather than God; yea, had
despised God for the sake of his wife, placing so much confidence in the
fallacies of Satan,--whose messenger and servant she was,--that he did
not hesitate perfidiously to deny his Maker. But, although God deals
decisively and briefly with Adam, he yet refutes the pretext by which he
had tried to escape, in order the more easily to lead him to repentance.
After he has briefly spoken of Adam's sin, he announces that the earth
would be cursed for his sake. The ancient interpreter has translated it,
'In thy work;' but the reading is to be retained, in which all the Hebrew
copies agree, namely, the earth was cursed on account of Adam. Now, as
the blessing of the earth means, in the language of Scripture, that
fertility which God infuses by his secret power, so the curse is nothing
else than the opposite privation, when God withdraws his favour. Nor
ought it to seem absurd, that, through the sin of man, punishment should
overflow the earth, though innocent. For as the primum mobile rolls all
the celestial spheres along with it, so the ruin of man drives headlong
all those creatures which were formed for his sake, and had been made
subject to him. And we see how constantly the condition of the world
itself varies with respect to men, according as God is angry with them,
or shows them his favour. We may add, that, properly speaking, this whole
punishment is exacted, not from the earth itself, but from man alone. For
the earth does not bear fruit for itself, but in order that food may be
supplied to us out of its bowels. The Lord, however, determined that his
anger should like a deluge, overflow all parts of the earth, that
wherever man might look, the atrocity of his sin should meet his eyes.
Before the fall, the state of the world was a most fair and delightful
mirror of the divine favour and paternal indulgence towards man. Now, in
all the elements we perceive that we are cursed. And although (as David
says) the earth is still full of the mercy of God, (Psalm 33: 5,) yet, at
the same time, appear manifest signs of his dreadful alienation from us,
by which if we are unmoved, we betray our blindness and insensibility.
Only, lest sadness and horror should overwhelm us, the Lord sprinkles
everywhere the tokens of his goodness. Moreover although the blessing of
God is never seen pure and transparent as it appeared to man in innocence
yet, if what remains behind be considered in itself, David truly and
properly exclaims, 'The earth is full of the mercy of God.'
  Again, by 'eating of the earth,' Moses means 'eating of the fruits'
which proceed from it. The Hebrew word "itsabon", which is rendered pain,
is also taken for trouble and fatigue. In this place, it stands in
antithesis with the pleasant labour in which Adam previously so employed
himself, that in a sense he might be said to play; for he was not formed
for idleness, but for action. Therefore the Lord had placed him over a
garden which was to be cultivated. But, whereas in that labour there had
been sweet delight; now servile work is enjoined upon him, as if he were
condemned to the mines. And yet the asperity of this punishment also is
mitigated by the clemency of God, because something of enjoyment is
blended with the labours of men, lest they should be altogether
ungrateful, as I shall again declare under the next verse.

18. "Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth." He more largely
treats of what he has already alluded to, namely, the participation of
the fruits of the earth with labour and trouble. And he assigns as the
reason, that the earth will not be the same as it was before, producing
perfect fruits; for he declares that the earth would degenerate from its
fertility, and bring forth briers and noxious plants. Therefore we may
know, that whatsoever unwholesome things may be produced, are not natural
fruits of the earth, but are corruptions which originate from sin. Yet it
is not our part to expostulate with the earth for not answering to our
wishes, and to the labours of its cultivators as if it were maliciously
frustrating our purpose; but in its sterility let us mark the anger of
Gods and mourn over our own sins. It here been falsely maintained by some
that the earth is exhausted by the long succession of time, as if
constant bringing forth had wearied it. They think more correctly who
acknowledge that, by the increasing wickedness of men, the remaining
blessing of God is gradually diminished and impaired; and certainly there
is danger, unless the world repent, that a great part of men should
shortly perish through hunger, and other dreadful miseries. The words
immediately following, "Thou shalt eat the herb of the field," are
expounded too strictly (in my judgment) by those who think that Adam was
thereby deprived of all the fruits which he had before been permitted to
eat. God intends nothing more than that he should be to such an extent
deprived of his former delicacies as to be compelled to use, in addition
to them, the herbs which had been designed only for brute animals. For
the mode of living at first appointed him, in that happy and delightful
abundance, was far more delicate than it afterwards became. God,
therefore, describes a part of this poverty by the word herbs, just as if
a king should send away any one of his attendants from the upper table,
to that which was plebeian and mean; or, as if a father should feed a
son, who had offended him, with the coarse bread of servants; not that he
interdicts man from all other food, but that he abates much of his
accustomed liberality. This, however might be taken as added for the
purpose of consolation, as if it had been said, 'Although the earth,
which ought to be the mother of good fruits only, be covered with thorns
and briers, still it shall yield to thee sustenance whereby thou mayest
be fed.'

19. "In the sweat of thy face." Some indeed, translate it 'labour;' the
translation, however, is forced. But by "sweat" is understood hard labour
and full of fatigue and weariness, which, by its difficulty produces
sweat. It is a repetition of the former sentence, where it was said,
'Thou shalt eat it in labour.' Under the cover of this passage, certain
ignorant persons would rashly impel all men to manual labour; for God is
not here teaching as a master or legislator, but only denouncing
punishment as a judge. And, truly, if a law had been here prescribed, it
would be necessary for all to become husband men, nor would any place be
given to mechanical arts; we must go out of the world to seek for
clothing and other necessary conveniences of life. What, then, does the
passage mean? Truly God pronounces, as from his judgment-seat, that the
life of man shall henceforth be miserable, because Adam had proved
himself unworthy of that tranquil, happy and joyful state for which he
had been created. Should any one object that there are many inactive and
indolent persons, this does not prevent the curse from having spread over
the whole human race. For I say that no one lies torpid in such a degree
of sloth as not to be under the necessity of experiencing that this curse
belongs to all. Some flee from troubles, and many more do all they can to
grasp at immunity from them; but the Lord subjects all, without
exception, to this yoke of imposed servitude. It is, nevertheless, to be,
at the same time, maintained that labour is not imposed equally on each,
but on some more, on others less. Therefore, the labour common to the
whole body is here described; not that which belongs peculiarly to each
member, except so far as it pleases the Lord to divide to each a certain
measure from the common mass of evils. It is, however, to be observed,
that they who meekly submit to their sufferings, present to God an
acceptable obedience, if, indeed, there be joined with this bearing of
the cross, that knowledge of sin which may teach them to be humble. Truly
it is faith alone which can offer such a sacrifice to God; but the
faithful the more they labour in procuring a livelihood, with the greater
advantage are they stimulated to repentance, and accustom themselves to
the mortification of the flesh; yet God often remits a portion of this
curse to his own children, lest they should sink beneath the burden. To
which purpose this passage is appropriate, 'Some will rise early and go
late to rest, they will eat the bread of carefulness, but the Lord will
give to his beloved sleep,' (Psal. 127: 2.) So far, truly, as those
things which had been polluted in Adam are repaired by the grace of
Christ, the pious feel more deeply that God is good, and enjoy the
sweetness of his paternal indulgence. But because, even in the best, the
flesh is to be subdued, it not infrequently happens that the pious
themselves are worn down with hard labours and with hunger. There is,
therefore, nothing better for us than that we, being admonished of the
miseries of the present life, should weep over our sins, and seek that
relief from the grace of Christ which may not only assuage the bitterness
of grief, but mingle its own sweetness with it. Moreover, Moses does not
enumerate all the disadvantages in which man, by sin, has involved
himself; for it appears that all the evils of the present life, which
experience proves to be innumerable, have proceeded from the same
fountain. The inclemency of the air, frost, thunders, unseasonable rains,
drought, hail, and whatever is disorderly in the world, are the fruits of
sin. Nor is there any other primary cause of diseases. This has been
celebrated in poetical fables, and was doubtless handed down, by
tradition, from the fathers. Hence that passage in Horace:--
      "When from Heaven's fane the furtive hand
      Of man the sacred fire withdrew,
      A countless host--at God's command--
      To earth of fierce diseases flew;
      And death--till now kept far away
      Hastened his step to seize his prey."
  But Moses, who, according to his custom, studies a brevity adapted to
the capacity of the common people, was content to touch upon what was
most apparent, in order that, from one example, we may learn that the
whole order of nature was subverted by the sin of man. Should any one
again object, that no suffering was imposed on men which did not also
belong to women: I answer, it was done designedly, to teach us, that from
the sin of Adam, the curse flowed in common to both sexes; as Paul
testifies, that 'all are dead in Adam,' (Rom. 5: 12.)
  One question remains to be examined--'When God had before shown himself
propitious to Adam and his wife,--having given them hope of pardon,--why
does he begin anew to exact punishment from them? Certainly in that
sentence, 'the seed of the woman shall bruise the head of the serpent,'
the remission of sins and the grace of eternal salvation is contained.
But it is absurd that God, after he has been reconciled, should actually
prosecute his anger. To untie this knot, some have invented a distinction
of a twofold remission, namely, a remission of the fault and a remission
of the punishment, to which the figment of satisfactions was afterwards
annexed. They have feigned that God, in absolving men from the fault,
still retains the punishment; and that, according to the rigour of his
justice, he will inflict at least a temporal punishment. But they who
imagined that punishments are required as compensations, have been
preposterous interpreters of the judgments of God. For God does not
consider, in chastising the faithful, what they deserve; but what will be
useful to them in future; and fulfils the office of a physician rather
than of a judge. Therefore, the absolution which he imparts to his
children is complete and not by halves. That he, nevertheless, punishes
those who are received into favour, is to be regarded as a kind of
chastisement which serves as medicine for future time, but ought not
properly to be regarded as the vindictive punishment of sin committed. If
we duly consider how great is the torpor of the human mind, then, how
great its lasciviousness, how great its contumacy, how great its levity,

(continued in part 9...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-08.txt