(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 9)

and how quick its forgetfulness, we shall not wonder at God's severity in
subduing it. If he admonishes in words, he is not heard; if he adds
stripes, it avails but little; when it happens that he is heard, the
flesh nevertheless perversely spurns the admonition. That obstinate
hardness which, with all its power opposes itself to God, is worse than
lasciviousness. If any one is naturally endued with such a gentle
disposition that he does not disown the duty of submission to God, yet,
having escaped from the hand of God, after one allowed sin, he will soon
relapse, unless he be drawn back as by force. Wherefore, this general
axiom is to be maintained, that all the sufferings to which the life of
men is subject and obnoxious, are necessary exercises, by which God
partly invites us to repentance, partly instructs us in humility, and
partly renders us more cautious and more attentive in guarding against
the allurements of sin for the future.
  "Till thou return." He denounces that the termination of a miserable
life shall be death; as if he would say, that Adam should at length come,
through various and continued kinds of evil, to the last evil of all.
Thus is fulfilled what we said before, that the death of Adam had
commenced immediately from the day of his transgression. For this
accursed life of man could be nothing else than the beginning of death.
'But where then is the victory over the serpent, if death occupies the
last place? For the words seem to have no other signification, than that
man must be ultimately crushed by death. Therefore, since death leaves
nothing to Adam, the promise recently given fails; to which may be added,
that the hope of being restored to a state of salvation was most slender
and obscure.' Truly I do not doubt that these terrible words would
grievously afflict minds already dejected, from other causes, by sorrow.
But since, though astonished by their sudden calamity, they were yet not
deeply affected with the knowledge of sin; it is not wonderful that God
persisted the more in reminding them of their punishment, in order that
he might beat them down, as with reiterated blows. Although the
consolation offered be in itself obscure and feeble, God caused it to be
sufficient for the support of their hope, lest the weight of their
affliction should entirely overwhelm them. In the meantime, it was
necessary that they should be weighed down by a mass of manifold evils,
until God should have reduced them to true and serious repentance.
Moreover, whereas death is here put as the final issue, this ought to be
referred to man; because in Adam himself nothing but death will be found;
yet, in this way, he is urged to seek a remedy in Christ.
  "For dust thou art." Since what God here declares belongs to man's
nature, not to his crime or fault, it might seem that death was not
superadded as adventitious to him. And therefore some understand what was
before said, 'Thou shalt die,' in a spiritual sense; thinking that, even
if Adam had not sinned, his body must still have been separated from his
soul. But, since the declaration of Paul is clear, that 'all die in Adams
as they shall rise again in Christ,' (1 Cor. 15: 22,) this wound also was
inflicted by sin. Nor truly is the solution of the question difficult,--
'Why God should pronounce, that he who was taken from the dust should
return to it.' For as soon as he had been raised to a dignity so great,
that the glory of the Divine Image shone in him, the terrestrial origin
of his body was almost obliterated. Now, however, after he had been
despoiled of his divine and heavenly excellence, what remains but that by
his very departure out of life, he should recognize himself to be earth?
Hence it is that we dread death, because dissolution, which is contrary
to nature, cannot naturally be desired. Truly the first man would have
passed to a better life, had he remained upright; but there would have
been no separation of the soul from the body, no corruption, no kind of
destruction, and, in short, no violent change.

20. "And Adam called, &c." There are two ways in which this may be read.
The former, in the pluperfect tense, 'Adam had called.' If we follow this
reading, the sense of Moses will be, that Adam had been greatly deceived,
in promising life to himself and to his posterity, from a wife, whom he
afterwards found by experience to be the introducer of death. And Moses
(as we have seen) is accustomed, without preserving the order of the
history, to subjoin afterwards things which had been prior in point of
time. If, however we read the passage in the preterite tense, it may be
understood either in a good or bad sense. There are those who think that
Adam, animated by the hope of a more happy condition, because God had
promised that the head of the serpent should be wounded by the seed of
the woman, called her by a name implying life.' This would be a noble and
even heroic fortitude of mind; since he could not, without an arduous and
difficult struggle, deem her the mother of the living, who, before any
man could have been born, had involved all in eternal destruction. But,
because I fear lest this conjecture should be weak, let the reader
consider whether Moses did not design rather to tax Adam with
thoughtlessness, who being himself immersed in death, yet gave to his
wife so proud a name. Nevertheless, I do not doubt that, when he heard
the declaration of God concerning the prolongation of life, he began
again to breathe and to take courage; and then, as one revived, he gave
his wife a name derived from life; but it does not follow, that by a
faith accordant with the word of God, he triumphed, as he ought to have
done, over death. I therefore thus expound the passage; as soon as he had
escaped present death, being encouraged by a measure of consolation, he
celebrated that divine benefit which, beyond all expectation, he had
received, in the name he gave his wife.

21. "Unto Adam also, and to his wife, did the Lord God make, &c." Moses
here, in a homely style, declares that the Lord had undertaken the labour
of making garments of skins for Adam and his wife. It is not indeed
proper so to understand his words, as if God had been a furrier, or a
servant to sew clothes. Now, it is not credible that skins should have
been presented to them by chance; but, since animals had before been
destined for their use, being now impelled by a new necessity, they put
some to death, in order to cover themselves with their skins, having been
divinely directed to adopt this counsel; therefore Moses calls God the
Author of it. The reason why the Lord clothed them with garments of skin
appears to me to be this: because garments formed of this material would
have a more degrading appearance than those made of linen or of woolen.
God therefore designed that our first parents should, in such a dress,
behold their own vileness,--just as they had before seen it in their
nudity,--and should thus be reminded of their sin. In the meantime, it is
not to be denied, that he would propose to us an example, by which he
would accustom us to a frugal and inexpensive mode of dress. And I wish
those delicate persons would reflect on this, who deem no ornament
sufficiently attractive, unless it exceed in magnificence. Not that every
kind of ornament is to be expressly condemned; but because when
immoderate elegance and splendour is carefully sought after, not only is
that Master despised, who intended clothing to be a sign of shame, but
war is, in a certain sense, carried on against nature.

22. "Behold, the man is become as one of us." An ironical reproof, by
which God would not only prick the heart of
man, but pierce it through and through. He does not, however, cruelly
triumph over the miserable and afflicted; but, according to the necessity
of the disease, applies a more violent remedy. For, though Adam was
confounded and astonished at his calamity, he yet did not so deeply
reflect on its cause as to become weary of his pride, that he might learn
to embrace true humility. We may add, that God inveighed, by this irony,
not more against Adam himself then against his posterity, for the purpose
of commending modesty to all ages. The particle, "Behold," denotes that
the sentence is pronounced upon the cause then in hand. And, truly, it
was a sad and horrid spectacle; that he, in whom recently the glory of
the Divine image was shining, should lie hidden under fetid skins to
cover his own disgrace, and that there should be more comeliness in a
dead animal than in a living man! The clause which is immediately added,
"To know good and evil," describes the cause of so great misery, namely,
that Adam, not content with his condition, had tried to ascend higher
than was lawful; as if it had been said, 'See now whither thy ambition
and thy perverse appetite for illicit knowledge have precipitated thee.'
Yet the Lord does not even deign to hold converse with him, but
contemptuously draws him forth, for the sake of exposing him to greater
infamy. Thus was it necessary for his iron pride to be beaten down, that
he might at length descend into himself, and become more and more
displeased with himself.
  "One of us." Some refer the plural number here used to the angels, as
if God would make a distinction between man, who is an earthly and
despised animal, and celestial beings; but this exposition seems
farfetched. The meaning will be more simple if thus resolved, 'After
this, Adam will be so like Me, that we shall become companions for each
other.' The argument which Christians draw from this passage for the
doctrine of the three Persons in the Godhead is, I fear, not sufficiently
firm. There is not, indeed, the same reason for it as in the former
passage, "Let us make man in our image," since here Adam is included in
the word Us; but, in the other place, a certain distinction in the
essence of God is expressed.
  "And now, lest, &c." There is a defect in the sentence which I think
ought to be thus supplied: 'It now remains that in future, he be debarred
from the fruit of the tree of life;' for by these words Adam is
admonished that the punishment to which he is consigned shall not be that
of a moment, or of a few days, but that he shall always be an exile from
a happy life. They are mistaken who think this also to be an irony; as if
God were denying that the tree would prove advantageous to man, even
though he might eat of it; for he rather, by depriving him of the symbol,
takes also away the thing signified. We know what is the efficacy of
sacraments; and it was said above that the tree was given as a pledge of
life. Wherefore, that he might understand himself to be deprived of his
former life, a solemn excommunication is added; not that the Lord would
cut him off from all hope of salvation, but, by taking away what he had
given, would cause man to seek new assistance elsewhere. Now, there
remained an expiation in sacrifices, which might restore him to the life
he had lost. Previously, direct communication with God was the source of
life to Adam; but, from the moment in which he became alienated from God,
it was necessary that he should recover life by the death of Christ, by
whose life he then lived. It is indeed certain, that man would not have
been able, had he even devoured the whole tree, to enjoy life against the
will of God; but God, out of respect to his own institution, connects
life with the external sign, till the promise should be taken away from
it; for there never was any intrinsic efficacy in the tree; but God made
it life-giving, so far as he had sealed his grace to man in the use of
it, as, in truths he represents nothing to us with false signs, but
always speaks to us, as they say, with effect. In short, God resolved to
wrest out of the hands of man that which was the occasion or ground of
confidence, lest he should form for himself a vain hope of the perpetuity
of the life which he had lost.

23. "Therefore the Lord God sent him forth." Here Moses partly prosecutes
what he had said concerning the punishment inflicted on man, and partly
celebrates the goodness of God, by which the rigour of his judgment was
mitigated. God mercifully softens the exile of Adam, by still providing
for him a remaining home on earth, and by assigning to him a livelihood
from the culture--although the labourious culture--of the ground; for
Adam thence infers that the Lord has some care for him, which is a proof
of paternal love. Moses, however, again speaks of punishment, when he
relates that man was expelled and that cherubim were opposed with the
blade of a turning sword, which should prevent his entrance into the
garden. Moses says that the cherubim were placed in the eastern region,
on which side, indeed, access lay open to man, unless he had been
prohibited. It is added, to produce terror, that the sword was turning or
sharpened on both sides. Moses, however, uses a word derived from
whiteness or heat. Therefore, God having granted life to Adam, and having
supplied him with food, yet restricts the benefit, by causing some tokens
of Divine wrath to be always before his eyes, in order that he might
frequently reflect that he must pass through innumerable miseries,
through temporal exile, and through death itself, to the life from which
he had fallen; for what we have said must be remembered, that Adam was
not so dejected as to be left without hope of pardon. He was banished
from that royal palace of which he had been the lord, but he obtained
elsewhere a place in which he might dwell; he was bereft of his former
delicacies, yet he was still supplied with some kind of food; he was
excommunicated from the tree of life, but a new remedy was offered him in
sacrifices. Some expound the 'turning sword' to mean one which does not
always vibrate with its point directed against man, but which sometimes
shows the side of the blade, for the purpose of giving place for
repentance. But allegory is unseasonable, when it was the determination
of God altogether to exclude man from the garden, that he might seek life
elsewhere. As soon, however, as the happy fertility and pleasantness of
the place was destroyed, the terror of the sword became superfluous. By
cherubim, no doubt, Moses means angels and in this accommodates himself
to the capacity of his own people. God had commanded two cherubim to be
placed at the ark of the covenant, which should overshadow its covering,
with their wings; therefore he is often said to sit between the cherubim.
That he would have angels depicted in this form, was doubtless granted as
an indulgence to the rudeness of that ancient people; for that age needed
puerile instructions, as Paul teaches, (Gal. 4: 3;) and Moses borrowed
thence the name which he ascribed to angels, that he might accustom men
to that kind of revelation which he had received from God, and faithfully
handed down; for God designed, that what he knew would prove useful to
the people, should be revealed in the sanctuary. And certainly this
method is to be observed by us, in order that we, conscious of one own
infirmity may not attempt, without assistance, to soar to heaven; for
otherwise it will happen that, in the midst of our course, all our senses
will fail. The ladders and vehicles, then, were the sanctuary, the ark of
the covenants the altar, the table and its furniture. Moreover, I call
them vehicles and ladders, because symbols of this kind were by no means
ordained that the faithful might shut up God in a tabernacle as in a
prison, or might attach him to earthly elements; but that, being assisted
by congruous and apt means, they might themselves rise towards heaven.
Thus David and Hezekiah, truly endued with spiritual intelligence, were
far from entertaining those gross imaginations, which would fix God in a
given place. Still they do not scruple to call upon God, who sitteth or
dwelleth between the cherubim, in order that they may retain themselves
and others under the authority of the law.
  Finally, In this place angels are called cherubim, for the same reason
that the name of the body of Christ is transferred to the sacred bread of
the Lord's Supper. With respect to the etymology, the Hebrews themselves
are not agreed. The most generally received opinion is, that the first
letter, "caf" is a servile letter, and a note of similitude, and,
therefore, that the word cherub is of the same force as if it were said,
'like a boy.' But because Ezekiel, who applies the word in common to
different figures, is opposed to this signification; they think more
rightly, in my judgment, who declare it to be a general name.
Nevertheless, that it is referred to angels is more than sufficiently
known. Whence also Ezekiel (28: 14) signalizes the proud king of Tyre
with this title, comparing him to a chief angel.

Chapter IV.

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said,
I have gotten a man from the LORD.
2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep,
but Cain was a tiller of the ground.
3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit
of the ground an offering unto the LORD.
4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat
thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:
5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very
wroth, and his countenance fell.
6 And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy
countenance fallen?
7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not
well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and
thou shalt rule over him.
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they
were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew
9 And the LORD said unto Cain, Where [is] Abel thy brother? And he said,
I know not: [Am] I my brother's keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood
crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now [art] thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth
to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee
her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment [is] greater than I can
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth;
and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a
vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, [that] every one that
findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain,
vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon
Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
16 And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land
of Nod, on the east of Eden.
17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he
builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his
son, Enoch.
18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael
begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one [was] Adah,
and the name of the other Zillah.
20 And Adah bare Jabal: he was the father of such as dwell in tents, and
[of such as have] cattle.
21 And his brother's name [was] Jubal: he was the father of all such as
handle the harp and organ.
22 And Zillah, she also bare Tubalcain, an instructer of every artificer
in brass and iron: and the sister of Tubalcain [was] Naamah.
23 And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye
wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my
wounding, and a young man to my hurt.
24 If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and
25 And Adam knew his wife again; and she bare a son, and called his name
Seth: For God, [said she], hath appointed me another seed instead of
Abel, whom Cain slew.
26 And to Seth, to him also there was born a son; and he called his name
Enos: then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.

1. "And Adam knew his wife Eve." Moses now begins to describe the
propagation of mankind; in which history it is important to notice that
this benediction of God, "Increase and multiply," was not abolished by
sin; and not only so, but that the heart of Adam was divinely confirmed
so that he did not shrink with horror from the production of offspring.
And as Adam recognised, in the very commencement of having offspring, the
truly paternal moderation of God's anger, so was he afterwards compelled
to taste the bitter fruits of his own sin, when Cain slew Abel. But let
us follow the narration of Moses. Although Moses does not state that Cain
and Abel were twins it yet seems to me probable that they were so; for,
after he has said that Eve, by her first conception, brought forth her
firstborn, he soon after subjoins that she also bore another; and thus,
while commemorating a double birth, he speaks only or one conception. Let
those who think differently enjoy their own opinion; to me, however it
appears accordant with reason, when the world had to be replenished with
inhabitants, that not only Cain and Abel should have been brought forth
at one births but many also afterwards, both males and females.
  "I have gotten a man." The word which Moses uses signifies both to
acquire and to possess; and it is of little consequence to the present
context which of the two you adopt. It is more important to inquire why
she says that she has received, "eth Yehovah". Some expound it, 'with the
Lord;' that is, 'by the kindness, or by the favour, of the Lord;' as if
Eve would refer the accepted blessing of offspring to the Lord, as it is
said in Psalm 127: 3, "The fruit of the womb is the gift of the Lord." A
second interpretation comes to the same point, 'I have possessed a man
from the Lord;' and the version of Jerome is of equal force, 'Through the
Lord.' These three readings, I say, tend to this point, that Eve gives
thanks to God for having begun to raise up a posterity through her,
though she was deserving of perpetual barrenness, as well as of utter
destruction. Others, with greater subtlety, expound the words, 'I have
gotten the man of the Lord;' as if Eve understood that she already
possessed that conqueror of the serpent, who had been divinely promised
to her. Hence they celebrate the faith of Eve, because she embraced, by
faith, the promise concerning the bruising of the head of the devil
through her seed; only they think that she was mistaken in the person or
the individual, seeing that she would restrict to Cain what had been
promised concerning Christ. To me, however, this seems to be the genuine
sense, that while Eve congratulates herself on the birth of a son, she
offers him to God, as the first-fruits of his race. Therefore, I think it
ought to be translated, 'I have obtained a man from the Lord', which
approaches more nearly the Hebrew phrase. Moreover, she calls a newborn
infant a man, because she saw the human race renewed, which both she and
her husband had ruined by their own fault.

2. "And she again bare his brother Abel." It is well known whence the
name of Cain is deduced, and for what reason it was given to him. For his
mother said, "kaniti", I have gotten a man; and therefore she called his
name Cain. The same explanation is not given with respect to Abel. The
opinion of some, that he was so called by his mother out of contempt, as
if he would prove superfluous and almost useless, is perfectly absurd;
for she remembered the end to which her fruitfulness would lead; nor had
she forgotten the benediction, "Increase and multiply." We should (in my
judgment) more correctly infer that whereas Eve had testified, in the
name given to her firstborn, the joy which suddenly burst upon her, and
celebrated the grace of God; she afterwards, in her other offspring,
returned to the recollection of the miseries of the human race. And
certainly, though the new blessing of God was an occasion for no common
joy; yet, on the other hand, she could not look upon a posterity devoted
to so many and great evils, of which she had herself been the cause,
without the most bitter grief. Therefore, she wished that a monument of
her sorrow should exist in the name she gave her second son; and she
would, at the same time, hold up a common mirror, by which she might
admonish her whole progeny of the vanity of man. That some censure the
judgment of Eve as absurd, because she regarded her just and holy sons as
worthy to be rejected in comparison with her other wicked and abandoned
son, is what I do not approve. For Eve had reason why she should
congratulate herself in her firstborn; and no blame attaches to her for
having proposed, in her second son, a memorial to herself and to all
others, of their own vanity, to induce them to exercise themselves in
diligent reflection on their own evils.
  "And Abel was a keeper of sheep." Whether both the brothers had married
wives, and each had a separate home, Moses does not relate. This
therefore, remains to us in uncertainty, although it is probable that
Cain was married before he slew his brother; since Moses soon after adds,
that he knew his wife, and begot children: and no mention is there made
of his marriage. Both followed a kind of life in itself holy and
laudable. For the cultivation of the earth was commanded by God; and the
labour of feeding sheep was not less honorable than useful; in short, the
whole of rustic life was innocent and simple, and most of all
accommodated to the true order of nature. This, therefore, is to be
maintained in the first place, that both exercised themselves in labours
approved by God, and necessary to the common use of human life. Whence it
is inferred, that they had been well instructed by their father. The rite
of sacrificing more fully confirms this; because it proves that they had
been accustomed to the worship of God. The life of Cain, therefore, was,
in appearance, very well regulated; inasmuch as he cultivated the duties
of piety towards God, and sought a maintenance for himself and his, by
honest and just labour, as became a provident and sober father of a
family. Moreover, it will be here proper to recall to memory what we have
before said, that the first men, though they had been deprived of the
sacrament of divine love, when they were prohibited from the tree of
life, had yet been only so deprived of it, that a hope of salvation was
still left to them, of which they had the signs in sacrifices. For we
must remember, that the custom of sacrificing was not rashly devised by
them, but was divinely delivered to them. For since the Apostle refers
the dignity of Abel's accepted sacrifice to faith, it follows, first,
that he had not offered it without the command of God, (Heb. 11: 4.)
Secondly, it has been true from the beginning, of the world, that
obedience is better than any sacrifices, (1 Sam. 15: 22,) and is the
parent of all virtues. Hence it also follows that man had been taught by
God what was pleasing to Him. thirdly, since God has been always like
himself, we may not say that he was ever delighted with mere carnal and
external worship. Yet he deemed those sacrifices of the first age
acceptable. It follows, therefore, further, that they had been
spiritually offered to him: that is, that the holy fathers did not mock
him with empty ceremonies, but comprehended something more sublime and
secret; which they could not have done without divine instruction. For it
is interior truth alone which, in the external signs, distinguishes the
genuine and rational worship of God from that which is gross and
superstitious. And, certainly, they could not sincerely devote their mind
to the worship of God, unless they had been assured of his benevolence;
because voluntary reverence springs from a sense of, and confidence in,
his goodness; but, on the other hand, whosoever regards God s hostile to
himself, is compelled to flee from him with very fear and horror. We see
then that God, when he takes away the tree of life, in which he had first
given the pledge of his grace, proves and declares himself to be
propitious to man by other means. Should anyone object, that all nations
have had their own sacrifices, and that in these there was no pure and
solid religion, the solution is ready: namely, that mention is here made
of such sacrifices as are lawful and approved by God; of which nothing
but an adulterated imitation afterwards descended to the Gentiles. For
although nothing but the word "minchah", is here placed, which properly
signifies a gift, and therefore is extended generally to every kind of
oblation; yet we may infer, for two reasons, that the command respecting
sacrifice was given to the fathers from the beginning; first, for the
purpose of making the exercise of piety common to all, seeing they
professed themselves to be the property of God, and esteemed all they
possessed as received from him; and, secondly, for the purpose of
admonishing them of the necessity of some expiation in order to their
reconciliation with God. When each offers something of his property,
there is a solemn giving of thanks, as if he would testify by his present
act that he owes to God whatever he possesses. But the sacrifice of
cattle and the effusion of blood contains something further, namely, that
the offerer should have death before his eyes; and should, nevertheless,
believe in God as propitious to him. Concerning the sacrifices of Adam no
mention is made.

4. "And the Lord had respect unto Abel, &c." God is said to have respect
unto the man to whom he vouchsafes his favour. We must, however, notice
the order here observed by Moses; for he does not simply state that the
worship which Abel had paid was pleasing to God, but he begins with the
person of the offerer; by which he signifies, that God will regard no
works with favour except those the doer of which is already previously
accepted and approved by him. And no wonder; for man sees things which
are apparent, but God looks into the heart, (1 Sam. 16: 7;) therefore, he
estimates works no otherwise than as they proceed from the fountain of
the heart. Whence also it happens, that he not only rejects but abhors
the sacrifices of the wicked, however splendid they may appear in the
eyes of men. For if he, who is polluted in his soul, by his mere touch
contaminates, with his own impurities, things otherwise pure and clean,
how can that but be impure which proceeds from himself? When God
repudiates the feigned righteousness in which the Jews were glorying, he
objects, through his Prophet, that their hands were "full of blood,"
(Isaiah 1: 15.) For the same reason Haggai contends against the
hypocrites. The external appearance, therefore, of works, which may
delude our too carnal eyes, vanishes in the presence of God. Nor were
even the heathens ignorant of this; whose poets, when they speak with a
sober and well-regulated mind of the worship of God, require both a clean
heart and pure hands. Hence, even among all nations, is to be traced the
solemn rite of washing before sacrifices. Now seeing that in another
place, the Spirit testifies, by the mouth of Peter, that 'hearts are
purified by faith,' (Acts 15: 9;) and seeing that the purity of the holy
patriarchs was of the very same kind, the apostle does not in vain infer,
that the offering of Abel was, by faith, more excellent than that of
Cain. Therefore, in the first place, we must hold, that all works done
before faith, whatever splendour of righteousness may appear in them,
were nothing but mere sins, being defiled from their roots, and were
offensive to the Lord, whom nothing can please without inward purity of
heart. I wish they who imagine that men, by their own motion of freewill,
are rendered meet to receive the grace of God, would reflect on this.
Certainly, no controversy would then remain on the question, whether God
justifies men gratuitously, and that by faith? For this must be received
as a settled point, that, in the judgment of God, no respect is had to
works until man is received into favour. Another point appears equally
certain; since the whole human race is hateful to God, there is no other
way of reconciliation to divine favour than through faith. Moreover,
since faith is a gratuitous gift of God, and a special illumination of
the Spirit, then it is easy to infer, that we are prevented by his mere
grace, just as if he had raised us from the dead. In which sense also
Peter says, that it is God who purifies the hearts by faith. For there
would be no agreement of the fact with the statement, unless God had so
formed faith in the hearts of men that it might be truly deemed his gift.
It may now be seen in what way purity is the effect of faith. It is a
vapid and trifling philosophy, to adduce this as the cause of purity,
that men are not induced to seek God as their rewarder except by faith.
They who speak thus entirely bury the grace of God, which his Spirit
chiefly commends. Others also speak coldly, who teach that we are
purified by faiths only on account of the gift of regenerations in order
that we may be accepted of God. For not only do they omit half the truth,
but build without a foundation; since, on account of the curse on the
human race, it became necessary that gratuitous reconciliation should
precede. Again, since God never so regenerates his people in this world,
that they can worship him perfectly; no work of man can possibly be
acceptable without expiation. And to this point the ceremony of legal
washing belongs, in order that men may learn, that as often as they wish
to draw near unto God, purity must be sought elsewhere. Wherefore God
will then at length have respect to our obedience, when he looks upon us
in Christ.

5. "But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect." It is not to
be doubted, that Cain conducted himself as hypocrites are accustomed to
do; namely, that he wished to appease God, as one discharging a debt, by
external sacrifices, without the least intention of dedicating himself to
God. But this is true worship, to offer ourselves as spiritual sacrifices
to God. When God sees such hypocrisy, combined with gross and manifest

(continued in part 10...)

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