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Title: Commentary on Genesis, Vol. I - Luther on the Creation
Author: Luther, Martin
Language: English
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_The Hero of the Reformation, the Greatest of the Teuton Church
Fathers, and the Father of Protestant Church Literature_
















This introduction or prospectus is supplementary to that in the first
volume on the Psalms, in that it likewise emphasizes, though from
different view-points, the history and fruits, as well as the present
need and future mission of the Protestant Classics of the greatest of
all reformers in their relation to the development of the human race.

Let us in this introduction briefly notice the following: The progress
of the movement to translate and circulate Luther's works in English,
and then emphasize the need of developing an interest to read them;
first, because of the relation of Luther and his writings to the
public library; and secondly, because as the chief of the Teuton
Protestant Church Fathers, we need to understand Luther in his
relation to the Greek and Latin Church Fathers, and our true historic
relations to them all.


With profound gratitude to Almighty God for his rich blessing bestowed
upon the publication and quick sale of the first volume, Luther's
Commentary on the Psalms, a book "the mourning soul cannot well be
without," we now send forth the first volume of his Commentary on
Genesis, with the confidence that those, who think with Melanchthon
that "a single page of Luther contains more sound divinity than many
whole volumes," will not change their opinion by studying this volume.
Having purchased all the copies of Luther on Galatians and his Notes
on the Gospels by Dr. P. Anstadt, and the right to reprint them, with
two other volumes about ready for the press, one by Prof. E. F.
Bartholomew, D.D., and another by Dr. Bernhard Pick, our progress is
encouraging, especially since the movement has taken an intersynodical
character with colaborers from every branch of our polyglot communion.


This volume on Genesis follows the first volume on the Psalms because
the volumes ought to be published first that are needed most and will
do the most good. As Professor of Old Testament Exegesis I found that
like "Luther on the Psalms" so "Luther on Genesis" was not accessible
to the English, Swedish, Norwegian and Danish students of theology,
Prof. Bugge's Norwegian translation of extracts from it being out of
print. Therefore we believe this volume also will be welcomed by all
Old Testament professors and students. While both these volumes will
be a healthy corrective to the Old Testament critics, their
contribution to the biblical knowledge and the devotional life of
Protestantism cannot be exaggerated. Though first delivered to
critical students they have also been extensively read in family
worship. Luther began and closed his blessed ministry in the church of
God not by fighting the Pope, but by expounding the Word of God. He
began by explaining the whole Psalter from 1513 to 1516 (before 1517)
forming volumes III and IV of the Kaiser Chronological Edition and
closed his life's labors by expounding the first book of the Bible,
Genesis, which composes volumes I and II of the St. Louis Walch
edition. He commenced with the penitential Psalms of David and ended
with Moses, the earliest writings of the Old Testament. The reason so
many preachers and congregations neglect the Old Testament is because
it is neglected in the seminaries. God willing a volume of Luther on
the Prophetical Books will be issued and then in all three years at
the seminary the students may have something of Luther on the
Pentateuch, Psalms and Prophets.


In the recent marvelous development of public libraries it is held if
it is the duty of the state to teach the child to read for the welfare
of the child and of the state, it is also the duty of the state to
offer the child something to read. Hence the library is being
supported by taxation like the public school, and the library
buildings are being erected near the high schools. It is as President
Roosevelt said while west recently, our civilization rests on the
church, the school and the library. The library is the child of the
church and school and will in turn greatly influence both. Luther, the
founder of the Protestant Church, and the founder of the Public
School, is also the founder of the Protestant Library. Yea, more,
nearly four hundred years ago he united the school and the library as
is proved by the following:

It is noteworthy that Luther closes his "Address to the Mayors and
Aldermen of all the Cities of Germany in behalf of Christian Schools,"
which is considered by educators for its pioneer character and
statements of principles "the most important educational treatise ever
written," by a powerful appeal in behalf of public libraries which I
give in full from Luther on Education by Prof. Painter.

Luther concludes that great educational treatise thus:

"Finally, this must be taken into consideration by all who earnestly
desire to see such schools established and the study of the languages
preserved in the German states; that no cost nor pains should be
spared to procure good libraries in suitable buildings, especially in
the large cities that are able to afford it. For if a knowledge of the
Gospel and of every kind of learning is to be preserved, it must be
embodied in books, as the prophets and apostles did, as I have already
shown. This should be done, not only that our spiritual and civil
leaders may have something to read and study, but also that good books
may not be lost, and that the arts and languages may be preserved,
with which God has graciously favored us. St. Paul was diligent in
this matter, since he lays the injunction upon Timothy, 'Give heed to
reading,' I Tim. 4:13, and directs him to bring the books, but
especially the parchments left at Troas, 2 Tim. 4:13.

"All the kingdoms that have been distinguished in the world have
bestowed care upon this matter, and particularly the Israelites, among
whom Moses was the first to begin the work, who commanded them to
preserve the book of the law in the ark of God, and put it under the
care of Levites, that any one might procure copies from them. He even
commanded the king to make a copy of this book in the hands of the
Levites. Among other duties, God directed the Levitical priesthood to
preserve and attend to the books. Afterwards Joshua increased and
improved this library, as did subsequently Samuel, David, Solomon,
Isaiah, and many kings and prophets. Hence have come to us the Holy
Scriptures of the Old Testament, which would not otherwise have been
collected and preserved, if God had not required such diligence in
regard to it.

"After this example collegiate churches and convents formerly founded
libraries, although with few good books. And the injury from the
neglect to procure books and good libraries, when there were men and
books enough for that purpose, was afterwards perceived in the decline
of every kind of knowledge; and instead of good books, the senseless,
useless, and hurtful books of the monks, the Catholicon, Florista,
Graecista, Labyrinthus, Dormi Secure (names of Latin grammars and
collections of sermons), and the like, were introduced by Satan, so
that the Latin language was corrupted, and neither good schools, good
instruction, nor good methods of study remained. And as we see, the
language and arts are, in an imperfect manner, recovered from
fragments of old books rescued from the worms and dust; and every day
men are seeking these literary remains, as people dig in the ashes of
a ruined city after treasures and jewels.

"Therein we have received our just due, and God has well recompensed
our ingratitude, in that we did not consider his benefits, and lay up
a supply of good literature when we had time and opportunity, but
neglected it, as if we were not concerned. He in turn, instead of the
Holy Scriptures and good books, suffered Aristotle and numberless
pernicious books to come into use, which only lead us further from the
Bible. To these were added the progeny of Satan, the monks and the
phantoms of the universities, which we founded at incredible cost, and
many doctors, preachers, teachers, priests and monks, that is to say,
great, coarse, fat fellows, adorned with red and brown caps, like
swine led with a golden chain and decorated with pearls; and we have
burdened ourselves with them, who have taught us nothing useful, but
have made us more and more blind and stupid, and as a reward have
consumed all our property, and filled all the cloisters, and indeed
every corner with dregs and filth of their unclean and noxious books,
of which we cannot think without horror.

"Has it not been a grievous misfortune that a boy has hitherto been
obliged to study twenty years or longer, in order to learn enough
miserable Latin to become a priest and to read the mass? And whosoever
has succeeded in this has been called blessed, and blessed the mother
that has borne such a child! And yet he has remained a poor ignorant
man all through life, and has been of no real service whatever.
Everywhere we have had such teachers and masters, who have known
nothing themselves, who have been able to teach nothing useful, and
who have been ignorant even of the right methods of learning and
teaching. How has it come about? No books have been accessible but the
senseless trash of the monks and sophists. How could the pupils and
teacher differ from the books they studied? A crow does not hatch a
dove, nor a fool make a man wise. That is the recompense of our
ingratitude, in that we did not use diligence in the formation of
libraries, but allowed good books to perish, and bad ones to survive.

"But my advice is not to collect all sorts of books indiscriminately
thinking only of getting a vast number together. I would have
discrimination used, because it is not necessary to collect the
commentaries of the jurists, the productions of all the theologians,
the discussions of all the philosophers, and the sermons of all the
monks. Such trash I would reject altogether, and provide my library
only with useful books; and in making the selection I would advise
with learned men.

"In the first place, a library should contain the Holy Scriptures in
Latin, Greek, Hebrew, German and other languages. Then the best and
most ancient commentators in Greek, Hebrew and Latin.

"Secondly, such books as are useful in acquiring the languages, as the
poets and orators, without considering whether they are heathen or
Christian, Greek or Latin. For it is from such works that grammar must
be learned.

"Thirdly, books treating of all the arts and sciences.

"Lastly, books on jurisprudence and medicine, though here
discrimination is necessary.

"A prominent place should be given to chronicles and histories, in
whatever language they may be obtained; for they are wonderfully
useful in understanding and regulating the course of the world, and in
disclosing the marvelous works of God. O, how many noble deeds and
wise maxims produced on German soil have been forgotten and lost,
because no one at the time wrote them down; or if they were written,
no one preserved the books; hence we Germans are unknown in other
lands, and are called brutes that know only how to fight, eat and
drink. But the Greeks and Romans, and even the Hebrews have recorded
their history with such particularity, that even if a woman or child
did anything noteworthy, all the world was obliged to read and know
it; but we Germans are always Germans and will remain Germans.

"Since God has so graciously and abundantly provided us with art,
scholars and books, it is time for us to reap the harvest and gather
for future use the treasures of these golden years. For it is to be
feared (and even now it is beginning to take place) that new and
different books will be produced, until at last, through the agency of
the devil, the good books which are being printed will be crowded out
by the multitude of ill-considered, senseless and noxious works. For
Satan certainly designs that we should torture ourselves again with
Catholicons, Florists, Modernists and other trash of the accursed
monks and sophists, always learning, yet never acquiring knowledge.

"Therefore, my dear sirs, I beg you to let my labor bear fruit with
you. And though there be some who think me too insignificant to follow
my advice, or who look down upon me as one condemned by tyrants; still
let them consider that I am not seeking my own interest, but that of
all Germany. And even if I were a fool, and yet should hit upon
something good, no wise man should think it a disgrace to follow me.
And if I were a Turk and heathen, and it should yet appear that my
advice was advantageous, not for myself, but for Christianity, no
reasonable person would despise my counsel. Sometimes a fool has given
better advice than a whole company of wise men. Moses received
instruction from Jethro.

"Herewith I commend you all to the grace of God. May he soften your
hearts, and kindle therein a deep interest in behalf of the poor,
wretched and neglected youth; and through the blessing of God may you
so counsel and aid them as to attain to a happy Christian social order
in respect to both body and soul, with all fullness and abounding
plenty, to the praise and honor of God the Father, through Jesus
Christ our Saviour. Amen."

Wittenberg, 1524.

In his "Table Talk" Luther continues thus:

"The multitude of books is a great evil. There is no measure or limit
to this fever for writing; every one must be an author; some out of
vanity, to acquire celebrity and make a name; others for the sake of
lucre and gain. The Bible is now buried under so many commentaries,
that the text is not regarded. I could wish that all my books were
buried nine ells deep in the ground, by reason of the ill example they
will give, every one seeking to imitate me in writing many books, with
the hope of procuring fame. But Christ died not to favor our ambition
and vain-glory, but that his name might be glorified.

"The aggregation of large libraries tends to direct men's thoughts
from the one great book, the Bible, which ought, day and night, to be
in every man's hand. My object, my hope, in translating the
Scriptures, was to check the so prevalent production of new works, and
so to direct men's study and thoughts more closely to the divine Word.
Never will the writings of mortal man in any respect equal the
sentences inspired by God. We must yield the place of honor to the
prophets and apostles, keeping ourselves prostrate at their feet as we
listen to their teaching. I would not have those who read my books, in
these stormy times, devote one moment to them which they would
otherwise have consecrated to the Bible."


The foregoing literal quotations on the library; its divine origin and
its biblical and ecclesiastical development from the time of Moses;
its interlingual and international importance; its satanic and
anti-Christ-like dangers; its true mission and relation to the church,
school, family and state; the comprehensive sample catalogue of a
model library; and the words that when libraries tend to direct men's
thoughts from or against the one great Book they are complete
failures; these and other like thoughts of Luther, who was born only
15 years after the death of Guthenburg, his countryman, the inventor
of printing; these words so warm, clear and wise of the hero of the
Reformation, uttered nearly 400 years ago, prove that Luther and not
Franklin was the father or founder of modern libraries of printed
books and documents.

In W. T. Fletcher's "Public Libraries In America," of the Columbian
Knowledge Series, published in Boston, 1899, we read on page 10, "But
when did the public library movement begin? Not even the Reformation,
with its tremendous assertion of the right of man to spiritual
freedom, brought about the change so designated. Franklin more than
any other originated this movement." It is strange that in all the
recent and growing bibliography on the library there is little or no
tendency to trace the origin of the Protestant library to the
Protestant Reformation. Yet Mr. Fletcher says on p. 37, "It is a
significant fact that everywhere the clergy are found foremost in
advancing the library movement." He certainly does not mean the
Catholic clergy.

If you examine the libraries of our day and judge from their contents
and spirit, the conclusion irresistibly comes to one that they do not
know their own father or founder. Their walls often are decorated with
fine pictures of illustrious men, Carnegie and other liberal donors;
but in no public library, not even in districts of our country where
the German and Scandinavian taxpayers are in the majority do we find a
picture on their walls, "Martin Luther, the Founder of the Library
Among the Protestant Teutonic Nations." Though Carnegie should expend
all his fortune on libraries alone, his donation to the library idea
would be unworthy to be compared with that of Luther. Besides what
Luther wrote urging the Teutonic nations accepting his teachings to
erect libraries or "book houses" as he called them, and besides what
he did in other ways to encourage the collection of the writings of
the Germanic nations, this Teuton of the Teutons, their child and
father, born, as I said, only fifteen years after the inventor of
printing died, wrote a library of 113 volumes in the infancy of
printing, which is still today the leading classic library of
Protestantism, which has been translated and retranslated in part into
every language of the globe and influenced every Protestant and many
Catholic authors, and is or should be the foundation and center of
every library that is not anti-Protestant. Alas! Alas! It is not so in
our own Protestant land, the United States. He seems to be feared more
as a leader of a sect, which he never was, than loved and honored as
the hero of the Reformation and the very soul of the Protestant
Teutonic literary activity and its treasures. However I am not so
greatly concerned to have Luther honored as the father of the modern
library by hanging his picture on their walls. There is a better way
for the Protestant library to honor their father and that is to
purchase his writings complete in the German, Scandinavian and English
languages and then interest their German, Scandinavian and English
citizens to read them. True some libraries have a dozen or more books
written about Luther, his life, etc., but not a single book written by
him. All the books that others have or may write about him are as
nothing compared to what he himself wrote in explaining the Holy
Scriptures and the fundamental principles of our modern aggressive
Protestant civilization. If they are the happy possessors of a few
books translated from our great Teuton church father, the books are
often in such poor and antiquated English that no one can nor will
read them with any comfort. Librarians and pastors and Protestant
laymen, what have you up-to-date in your library from the heart and
pen of the father of Protestant literature? Look now and see, and make
a note of what you find and write us, and we may be of some help to
you in completing your collection.

But what is the use for libraries to purchase Luther's works in
German, Scandinavian or English when the people do not call for the
books and read them. Therefore we have given emphasis to their cry
that is going abroad in the land.


Why? Because as a true intelligent Protestant you cannot read any
thing better. Millions of people have said and millions more will say
next to the Bible they received more from Luther's writings than from
all other books combined. And if you take the Protestant professors of
our land, and for that matter of all lands, they all together would
come far short of making a Luther. He was not only ahead of his times,
but on many subjects he is far ahead of our age. Yes, when we keep
company with Luther we feel we are behind the times, on subjects like
Romanism, Protestantism, Christian schools, Christian libraries, the
Christian family, the Christian state, and many Christian social
problems. It is possible to go backwards as well as forwards.

How can I read Luther when I have not his books and I cannot afford to
purchase them? Our cry is not Buy Luther! Buy Luther!! Buy Luther!!!
But Read Luther! Read Luther!! Read Luther!!! Many buy Luther's works
and do not read them. They can afford to purchase them all and as they
have a beautiful book-case with glass doors, perhaps the finest piece
of furniture in their homes, as the style now is (for what is a home
without an up-to-date book-case?), they subscribe for all Luther's
works for a show in their book-case, and we ask can you name a set of
books that makes a better show in any public or private library than
Luther's works, especially in a Protestant library? They are also
really a far better investment than these large, thick, cheap but
dear, subscription books, which are nice only while they are new and
then they fade and the outside becomes as bad as the inside. When you
look at the libraries of many Protestant homes, you pity them, first
because of what they have not and then because of what they have.

But Luther's writings should go into the home library not for a show
nor for an investment, but to be read. Perhaps there is no passage of
Scripture that our homes should take to heart just now more than the
advice of Father Paul to his spiritual son, Timothy: "Give heed to
reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Neglect not the gift that is in
thee." 1 Tim. 4:13-14. Give heed that you read something, that you
read the best, and give heed how you read, that the gifts in you may
not be neglected. Then the right, sound exhortation and pure teaching
will follow. Notice the order is first, give heed to reading. Many
have never read any writings of Luther except perhaps his small
catechism. They have not built very well on the foundation laid. When
one thinks of the solid Christian books our German and Scandinavian
parents read and what the children read now-a-days, you must sigh.

Again many say I have now more books than I can read and if I buy more
I will not read them. Well, you will not lose much if you do not read
many books you have, but if you would sell these and buy a few of the
classic writings of Protestantism and read and read them again and
again, you would be blessed, and just such a work is Luther on


I have spoken of those who can afford to buy Luther's works and do buy
them, and yet they do not read them. There is another class much
smaller but much better; namely, those who enjoyed the study of their
catechism and the little they have read here and there in extracts
from Luther and they long to read more, but do not know where to get
the books or have not the money to buy them. To all such let our
pastors, parochial and Sunday school teachers and all others say on
every occasion possible that such works can be had in the public
library. If you do not find them there make application on the little
blank slips the library furnishes for the public to request the
library to secure the books desired. If they do not do so at once have
your neighbors repeat and repeat the same request. This is the way the
latest trashy novels are introduced in public libraries, for they buy
only what the public asks for. These libraries are supported as a rule
by taxation and the Germans and Scandinavians are heavy taxpayers and
their requests for good standard books in their own language or in
English will be favorably considered. We ourselves are to blame if
public libraries have not the standard classics of their Protestant
father and founder.

It if therefore in harmony with historic development and with the
spirit of Luther that in Chicago, June 29, 1903, an adjourned meeting
of the convention, which assembled in the same city in September of
the previous year, was held and effected an organization known as the


one aim of which as specified in its constitution, is "To aid in
duplicating as far as practicable the 'Luther' literature in the
British Museum Library in all the larger American Public Libraries."
(See the constitution for further details.) The public libraries of
Great Britain are far ahead of the American public libraries in their
Luther literature, and we as free loyal Americans cannot afford to let
it continue so.

The question arises, what nations, what culture should characterize
the libraries of the world? Shall the Greeks, or the Latins or the
Teutons? To aid in answering this question I will add another heading


In the Introduction of Vol. I in the Psalms, to which the reader is
referred, it was stated that the key-note of all of the "sacred books"
of the East is "Salvation by Works." And yet in the face of this
Protestants are asked to believe that they are "sacred books," when
their main teachings are directly contrary to what we have been taught
to esteem as most sacred, namely, our Christian faith in the grace of
Christ for salvation. To Protestants they are not sacred books but the
very opposite. I would far rather call the writings of Luther sacred,
which teach and defend the doctrine of salvation by grace as taught by
the one great Book, although it stands alone and protests against the
false teachings of the so-called sacred books of the east.

However let us now look more closely at the west. Here we find that
Protestants have shown commendable zeal and enterprise in translating,
publishing and circulating the large libraries of the Greek and Latin
church fathers. Every pastor continuously receives circulars with the
almost irresistible temptation to purchase the patristic writings of
both Catholic churches. This is all well, but we should not forget
that the Anglo-Saxon people are neither Greeks nor Latins, but
Teutons, and that our Teuton church fathers are Protestants and they
also should be translated, published, circulated and read and taught.
Little Wittenberg dare not fall behind Constantinople and Rome. It
ought not.

_For "Saxon and Norman and Dane are We."_

True the Teutons can and do learn from the Greek and Latin church
fathers, but we also believe that the children of the old Greeks and
Latins can learn much from our Teuton fathers, and that they have as
good reasons to welcome our classic church literature as we have
theirs; and we hope the day may soon come when they will translate and
read ours as faithfully and impartially as we do theirs. What a
blessing that would bring to Christendom!

In some quarters however English Protestants have been in danger of
appreciating the fathers of the Greeks and Latins to the extent of
neglecting to give due honor to their own. Many Protestant ministers'
libraries contain all classics except the Protestant classics. Let the
whole world have the Greek and the Latin fathers as it has, but let
Protestants awake and give the world theirs. Is it not a shame and a
pity that while all the writings of the Greek and Latin fathers have
been translated into many languages, yet the complete works of Luther,
the first and chief of the Protestant fathers, have never been
translated into any language, though his loyal disciples are numbered
by the hundreds of thousands in different tongues, as the fruits of
those writings? For of the 70,169,000 Lutherans in the world,
43,731,000 speak German, 7,300,000 Swedish, 3,500,000 Norwegian,
3,200,000 Danish, 3,000,000 Finnish, 1,100,000 Esthnish, 400,000
Hungarian (or 4,500,000 of the Finnish or Magyarian race), 4,000,000
English, 2,000,000 Lettish, 500,000 Slovakian, 300,000 Polish, 200,000
French, 100,000 Dutch, 100,000 Russian, 82,000 Icelandic, 50,000
Bohemian, 63,000 Wendish, 113,000 Lithuanian, 250,000 the heathen
dialects of Asia and 280,000 the heathen dialects of Africa. And
further as all German speaking Reformed churches use Luther's version
of the Scriptures, so they welcome his writings also.

True in all these 17 or more languages some of Luther's writings have
appeared. But it is distressing to learn how few they are, and how out
of date and imperfect some of these are. Luther is the common property
of all Protestants, and so are his writings. They would be helpful in
all time to the 21,000,000 Episcopalians, the 17,000,000 Methodists,
the 11,000,000 Baptists, the 9,000,000 Presbyterians, the 4,500,000
Congregationalists, and all other Protestants; and not only to the
140,000,000 Protestants, but also to the 80,000,000 Greek Catholics
and 200,000,000 Latin Catholics and to the heathen, to the infidel, to
the state as well as to the church. The first thing for Protestants to
do is to give all nations the Bible; and the second, to give them the
best Protestant classics. We can. Will we?

No nation or race is greater than its greatest men, and those greatest
men are not greater than their best writings. Hence little is of more
value in literature than the honest critique by these greatest men of
the best writings of the most civilized and cultured nations before
their time. Therefore of the greatest interest are the following


They are taken literally from his Table Talk and read thus: I will not
presume to criticise too closely the writings of the fathers, seeing
they are received of the church, and have great applause, for then I
should be held an apostate; but whoever reads Chrysostom, will find he
digresses from the chief points, and proceeds to other matters, saying
nothing, or very little, of that which pertains to the subject. When I
was expounding the Epistle to the Hebrews, and turned to what
Chrysostom had written upon it, I found nothing to the purpose; yet I
believe that he at that time, being the chief rhetorician, had many
hearers, though he taught without profit; for the chief office of a
preacher is to teach uprightly, and diligently to look to the main
points and foundation on which he stands, and so instruct and teach
the hearers that they understand aright and may be able to say: This
is well taught. When this is done, he may avail himself of rhetoric to
adorn his subject and admonish the people.

Behold what great darkness is in the books of the fathers concerning
faith; yet if the article of justification be darkened, it is
impossible to smother the grossest errors of mankind. St. Jerome,
indeed, wrote upon Matthew, upon the Epistles to the Galatians and to
Titus; but, alas, very coldly. Ambrose wrote six books on Genesis, but
they are very poor. Augustine wrote nothing to the purpose concerning
faith; for he was first roused up and made a man by the Pelagians, in
striving against them. I can find no exposition upon the Epistles to
the Romans and Galatians, in which anything is taught pure and right.
What a happy time have we now as to the purity of the doctrine; but
alas, we little esteem it.

We must read the fathers cautiously, and lay them in the gold balance,
for they often stumbled and went astray, and introduced into their
books many monkish things. Augustine had more work and labor to wind
himself out of the writings of the fathers, than he had with the
heretics. Gregory expounds the five pounds mentioned in the Gospel,
which the husbandman gave to his servants to put to use, to be the
five senses, which the beasts also possess. The two pounds he
construes to be the reason and understanding.

The more I read the books of the fathers, the more I find myself
offended; for they were but men, and, to speak the truth with all
their repute and authority, undervalued the books and writings of the
sacred apostles of Christ. The Papists were not ashamed to say, What
are the Scriptures? We must read the holy fathers and teachers, for
they drew and sucked the honey out of the Scriptures. As if God's Word
were to be understood and conceived by none but themselves, whereas
the heavenly Father says: "Him shall ye hear," who in the Gospel
taught most plainly in parables and similitudes.

Augustine was the ablest and purest of all the doctors, but he could
not of himself bring things back to their original condition, and he
often complains that the bishops, with their traditions and
ordinances, trouble the church more than did the Jews with their laws.

I am persuaded that if at this time, St. Peter, in person, should
preach all the articles of the Holy Scriptures, and only deny the
pope's authority, power and primacy, and say that the pope is not the
head of all Christendom, they would cause him to be hanged.

Jerome should not be numbered among the teachers of the church, for he
was a heretic; yet I believe he was saved through faith in Christ. He
speaks not of Christ, but merely carries his name in his mouth.

Again he says, Jerome may be consulted for the purpose of historical
study. As to faith, and good true religion and doctrine, there is not
a word about them in his writings. He writes only respecting fasts,
sorts of food, virginity, etc. I have already proscribed Origin.
Chrysostom possesses no authority in my estimation. Basil is but a
monk, for whom I would not give the value of a hair. The Apology of
Philip Melanchthon is worth all the writings of all the doctors of the
church put together, not excepting those of St. Augustine.

Tertullian is a thorough Carlstad; Cyprian the martyr is a feeble

The fathers said nothing decisive during their lives, respecting
justification by grace; but at their death they believed in it. This
was the more prudent course for them to follow, in order neither to
encourage mysticism, nor discourage good works. These worthy fathers
lived better than they wrote.

Since I became, by the grace of God, capable of understanding St.
Paul, I have been unable to esteem any of these doctors; they have
shrunk into insignificance in my estimation.





We certainly will be pardoned for issuing here and at this time the
Prefaces: of Veit Dietrich, who published the first of these lectures
in Latin; of Basil Faber, who was the first to translate parts from
Latin into German; of Dr. Walch, who issued one of the best editions
of Luther's complete works; and of Dr. Cole, who was the first to
translate a small part from Latin into English. The words of these
four men are a stronger appeal than we can write for the extensive
circulation among English Protestants of this the last and the
greatest of Luther's writings.

It is as Mathesius says: "Surely the last thoughts are the best when
they at the time refer to the Word of God and spring from it. The
sermons and books of aged men are worthy of consideration and
preservation." Hence, Jerome Weller called this commentary Luther's
Swan Song, and Morlin calls it the "Consummatum Est," "It Is
Finished," of Luther.

A new interest will be taken in the lines of this book when it is
remembered how dear they were to the Reformer himself. He frequently
expresses his love for his "dear Genesis," and had the prophetic
impression that his labors in Genesis and his earthly life would
terminate together. And so they did. This was the last public work of
Luther's forty years of professorial, ministerial and reformatory
labors. This saint of God, who was "a lion before men, but a lamb
before God," concludes his commentary thus: "This is now the dear Book
of Genesis. May our Lord grant that others may do it better than I
have done. I can no more; I am so weak. Pray to God for me, that he
may grant me a good holy hour at death!"

A friend, one of the collectors of these comments, records these
remarkable coincidences at the foot of the Commentary: "The man of
God, Doctor Martin Luther, finished his Commentaries on the Book of
Genesis in the year of our Lord 1545, on the 17th day of November;
having commenced them in the year 1535. In his opening remarks he had
said, 'This exposition I shall pore over and die over (_immorabor et
immoriar_).' According to this prophecy concerning himself he died at
Eisleben, Feb. 18th, 1546, piously and continually calling upon the
Son of God."


_To the Most Illustrious, High-Born Prince and Lord, John Ernest, Duke
of Saxony, Landgrave of Thuringia, Margrave of Misnia._

It is this glorious and beautiful architectural building, the world;
that is, the heavens and earth with all that in them is, as the stars,
the elements, the trees, the plants, and all kinds of animals, etc.,
created so admirably for it and wisely ordered by God in their
relations to one another, that teaches us to know God as the one
eternal and almighty Creator and the right Master-builder, and to
understand that he created us for this life, body and soul, and gave
us reason and a spirit in order that he might thereby be worshipped.
And such knowledge would have remained pure and beautiful in the
hearts of all men without doubt and error of any kind had human nature
not fallen through disobedience into such miserable darkness and other
innumerable calamities.

For what blindness and ignorance of God, his nature and will, his
providence and government, there is in the hearts of all men in their
corrupt and infirm nature, is evident from the doubts which stick in
the hearts of everyone, concerning which Plato was right when he
wisely said, "That the minds of men are so overpowered with conviction
by the laws of the motion of the heavenly bodies and other testimonies
of nature, that they are compelled to confess that the world had for
its Creator an eternal and almighty divine Mind." And yet we find that
this knowledge and this conviction are darkened and deranged when we
consider how enormous and confused all things are in the world and in
this life, and when we find ourselves so often plunged into such great
misery and need without help or rescue as if there were no God left to
his creatures.

From such doubts all those mad-brained opinions of philosophers have
arisen. Some, as the Epicureans, denied the existence of God
altogether; others, as Aristotle and the Stoics, believed God was an
eternal mind, yet bound and confined him to second causes; just in the
same way as the poets fable that Saturn was bound by Jupiter. Thus
they ascribe to him no action, but that which the general concurrence
of second causes produces. Hence having their minds infatuated with
this delirium, they can neither ask any good thing of God, nor expect
any good thing from him, because, with them events are necessarily
only consequents which responsively follow upon their natural first

Therefore, while these men thus reasoned, they did not bring forth
their own private and personal opinions only, but the common errors
which lie concealed naturally in the minds of the whole human race.
The greatest part of mankind fix their eyes upon second causes; but
these never raise them so high as the great Over-ruler of all; so as
to wait for the government or pressing forth of second causes from and
by him, as Elijah did, when he prayed for rain in the midst of a
drought, and as Isaiah did, when he drove back an army of the enemy by

When this darkness in the mind of man had followed upon the fall of
our first parents, God came forth anew out of his secret habitation,
and immediately made himself known again, with a distinct _voice_ and
with fresh testimonies; that the human race might not appear to be
created in vain nor without a mighty purpose, nor for destruction
only. The creation indeed was a great benefit and blessing from God.
But much more so was his revelation of himself to the human race from
the very "beginning," by certain testimonies and evidences; delivering
with a distinct voice the _promise_ of eternal life and salvation, and
making a declaration concerning a judgment to come, in which after
this life he would separate the righteous from the wicked. The Law
also, though known to nature at first, he renewed, and showed what was
his true worship. He caused it moreover to be attended with signs,
which could be wrought by no power less than infinite. He recalled the
dead to life, he stopped the motions of the heavens and the course of
the sun, and he even turned the sun back in his course to refute a
human delirium, which pretended to suspend God by second causes as by
the golden chain of Homer.

And lastly, the Son of God himself assumed human nature and lived
openly with us, taught us and became a sacrifice and offering for our
sins; and after having overcome death rose and lived again, and
discoursed with many in an open and familiar manner; and moreover
preached to a great multitude of hearers. And although these things,
on account of their greatness, seem to human judgment to be mere
fictions, yet they are attested and sealed by sure and certain
evidences and miracles; so that they are as surely true as that it is
mid-day when the sun has mounted in his course to the mid-heaven.

To these blessings we are also to add this, that God was pleased that
there should be a history of the human race from the very "beginning,"
and a record of all those testimonies, by which he revealed himself,
committed to writing and engraven on biblical monuments, which should
remain forever. Nor will God be known in any other way than by these
testimonies; nor will he consider any assembly of men, who are
ignorant of these testimonies, to be his Church, nor will he receive
the prayer of those, who do not call upon him as the same God, who
does thus make himself known by these his testimonies.

The Mohammedans and Turks call upon God as the Creator of universal
nature, but they set themselves against his Son and his Son's
doctrine. They say, that he who can approve such doctrine cannot be
God. And as to his Son, in whom God more especially reveals himself,
and concerning whom he says himself, "This is my beloved Son in whom I
am well pleased, hear ye him," on him they spit with infuriated

And what says Plato here? Although Plato does raise his mind above the
common opinions of the vulgar, and does not ascribe divinity to
statues of wood and stone, but really does inquire after God with very
wise reasoning; and although he defines him to be "an eternal mind"
and the great Cause of all good in nature, yet he still errs very
widely from the true God. But how is that, some one may say? What
description of God will you find more appropriate than Plato's? I
acknowledge that he thought most learnedly and wisely concerning the
nature of God; but concerning his will, he hangs in doubt himself and
leaves all his readers and disciples in doubt also; and to use his own
expression "bestormed and shipwrecked in their reasoning." Neither
Plato nor Mohammed knew whether God heard and received the unworthy;
nor how, nor why, he received them.

Plato ought however to have inquired not only how God manifested
himself in the creation of things, and what traces of himself he
impressed upon the face of nature, but also whether or not he had
uttered any voice by any certain signs or testimonies, and how that
voice was spread abroad and made known. He might have heard these
things when studying mathematics in Egypt, and might easily have
learned all particulars from their neighbors the Jews. But the greater
part of men always despise the voice and the Church of God.

But to what purpose is all this far-fetched Introduction? It is for
this end, that we may know the true Church of God is nowhere but among
those, who have and who embrace the writings of the prophets and the
apostles; that God is nowhere rightly called upon, but where the
doctrine contained in these books truly shines forth. And here again
we have to consider another singular blessing of God: That he was
pleased to cause a whole connected history of all ages, from "the
beginning," to be recorded in these books, and has preserved them by
his own peculiar care. Nay, the whole Mosaic Economy was ordained for
this very preservation of them. For what was the whole of that
Economy, but a school and library of these books?

And the fountain of all is the _first book_ of Moses, called Genesis,
which profane men may perhaps laugh at and consider that it does not
differ from the "Timon" of Plato, in which also the creation of the
world is described. But the godly reader knows that there is a wide
difference between profane descriptions and this description given us
from above. For the latter not only informs us of the beginnings and
nature of created bodies, but gives us a description of God himself.
And it contains also an account of the beginnings of _the Church_; for
the sake of which all other things were created and made, all which
things we must know before we can understand whence the doctrine of
the church proceeded and how the knowledge of it was spread abroad in
the world.

All heathen superstitions crept into the assemblies of men without any
certain authors, and were afterwards accumulated by fanatical persons
on various occasions. But from "the book of Genesis" we learn that the
doctrine of the church was delivered to our first parents by the voice
of God, and that thence the knowledge of it was preserved and spread
abroad in the world by a continued series of persons and events, and
not without manifest evidences and testimonies. Enoch was taken up
into heaven; Noah truly preached of the Flood and was afterwards
preserved in the Flood; Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, etc., for there
are many signs and evidences that they were teachers and priests,
truly called of God, were most certain witnesses, that the doctrine
which they embraced and preached was from heaven.

Symmachus objects against Christians, that all agree that the oldest
doctrine must be the true one; but that the apostolic doctrine is a
recent fiction. But Symmachus is here in a very great error; for it
can be most manifestly proved that the doctrine now held by the Church
is the first doctrine that was ever delivered to the world. And that
is plainly shown in this "Book of Genesis," where both the doctrine is
recorded as having been delivered of God; and also the increasing
nations are described, which departed from the purity of that doctrine
and formed for themselves new opinions concerning God and set up
idols, instead of worshipping him. Therefore, we must come to this
Book for a description of the beginnings of the Church, and for
testimonies of its propagation; and it is to this Book that all
doctrines must be referred in order to discover their origin or

Philosophers knew nothing of the cause of sin, of the cause of death,
nor of the cause of the great calamities to which the human race are
subject; nor did they know anything of the restitution of all things,
nor of eternal life. They were continually inquiring, how there is so
much misery in the nature of the human race, which is so exalted and
excellent. How often do they exclaim against and lament man's violent
and impetuous inclinations to vice! They see that his virtues are weak
and that they are only faint attempts which soon vanish and end in
nothing; as we see in Pausanius, who was the great general of the
Greeks against Mardonius; and in Alexander; also in Themistocles and
many others. Aristotle seeks for the cause of the death of the human
race and of all other living creatures in their material nature; and
to make good his hypotheses, he enumerates privation among the
principles of natural things; that he might in some way or other make
out a continual lapse of matter, decaying and perishing, in order to
assume other forms.

But the Book now under consideration sets before us a far different
cause of the death of the human race and of the corruptions which
defile it; it shows that the cause was a turning away from God in our
human nature at "the beginning;" which human nature, casting away the
light and knowledge of God and of life, procured to itself a confusion
in its powers and a subjection to the tyranny of the devil and of
death. The greatness and enormity of these evils appeared in our first
parents, in the murder of Cain and in other horrible wickednesses,
seen in those first flowers of the human race, which excelled all
others in purity and excellence.

Then again we have a beautiful view and proof of this in the
propagation and continual renewing of the Church; where it appears
that the Church is not a kingdom or body politic, belonging to this
world, enclosed and guarded by armed garrisons; but a body formed of
widely dispersed assemblies, though not hidden and obscure; bearing
about with them the divine voice and the Word, and dispensing it in
public congregations of honest men, to kings, rulers and cities; and
calling and drawing many everywhere to prayer and to the true worship
of God; though they are all the while derided, cast out, and driven
away by tyrants and by the great part of mankind.

Melchizedek, whom the old divines supposed was Shem, the son of Noah,
surpassed all the men of that time in wisdom, righteousness and age;
and he preached for a long time to the people of Sodom and the
neighboring places, for his dwelling was not more than eight English
miles from Sodom. Therefore no doubt he had a congregation, by no
means insignificant, which contained the families of Abraham, Lot and
many others. For although the Church was small, yet there was always
some Church existing; and that no obscure nor inconsiderable
assemblage. And these little schools or congregations of hearers were
protected and defended from on high. For all the neighboring cities,
Sodom the chief in power, with infuriated madness despised the
heavenly doctrine, and railed at and hated its preachers.

In meditating on this book of Genesis the picture Moses gives us of
the Church at that time is to be continually and diligently
considered. And indeed in reading these histories, the following six
particulars are to be carefully borne in mind.

_First, the doctrine of our primitive fathers is to be considered,_
and that the prophets and apostles drew many things from these
fountains. For our forefathers and the prophets learned the benefits
of Christ, both out of the promise given to Abraham and from other
parts of those histories. How eruditely and learnedly does Paul draw
up the article of righteousness by faith out of that word of Genesis,
"Abraham believed in God, and it was counted unto him for
righteousness." And David ascribes unto Christ a priesthood like that
of Melchizedek; marking particularly his office of blessing; when he
blessed Abraham and promised him in the sweetest words, the favor and
help of God; which was different from the office of the Levitical

This is a most rich part of the Scripture of Genesis as the following
commentary frequently points out, and as the godly reader at once
perceives in this very history itself; for he knows that these
histories are to be read in a far different spirit and with a widely
different intent, than all profane and heathen histories. Heathen
histories merely set before us examples of civil manners, and show
that the events attending honest designs are for the most part good,
and pleasant, and successful; but that the most fatal calamities await
atrocious wickedness. And this is nearly all that we learn from
profane and heathen histories. But these prophetic writings contain
things of much higher moment; the doctrine of God, the divine
testimonies concerning eternal things and the government of the

_Secondly. We must observe and consider these miracles._ Not merely to
feast our wondering curiosity on their singularity or novelty, but
hold them fast as testimonies and evidences; intended to show what
kind of doctrine and what kind of teachers God approves. All those
marvelous and signal acts of God are above nature, and wrought as
"seals" of the doctrine. For we are not to imagine that God was in
jest, when he forewarned the antediluvian world of the Flood, and when
he saved the family of Noah alone from that mighty Deluge. All these
his mighty acts were testimonials of his providence and of his
doctrine, which the aged Noah preached.

_Thirdly. Let the government, defense and protection of the Church be
diligently observed;_ which, although it seems to be neglected of God,
yet exhibits most illustrious proofs of the presence of God and of his

The Emperor Augustus ruled the world by sure and established laws; he
had his armies, to whose care he entrusted the safety of his
provinces, and he had also his wealth and other resources, wherewith
to support his armies. Thus a political government is fortified and
protected by human laws, counsels and power. But the government of the
Church is far different from this.

Abraham, Isaac and Jacob wander about like private men and strangers
in the land without any human resources for protection; and they
collect together a Church by the Word or Voice of God, and by the Holy
Ghost. And though they are unceasingly exercised with various sorrows
and distresses, they still find themselves delivered from all evils,
protected and defended from above!

So also Jacob, when about to take his journey with all his family
through the territories of his angry and embittered brother, is filled
with fears and hesitations, and the difficulties seem insurmountable
by all human counsel, but in the night he wrestles with the Lord and
is encouraged, confirmed and protected.

And many like examples are contained in this little but momentous book
of Record, which shows us that God is ever with his Church. It
commands and encourages us also to seek and hope for help and defense
from him. For these things were recorded and handed down to posterity
that we might be encouraged by such examples and might know that God
in the same manner is ever willing to protect and defend us.

_Fourthly. We must bear in mind the continual succession of the
Church._ Men magnify the ordinary succession of all human things; the
titles and honors and decorations of parents and the magnificence of
houses and places. Cain, Ishmael and Esau arrogated to themselves
dominion and superiority in the Church, because they had the advantage
of their brethren in age. The ancient Babylonians maintained that
their opinions concerning God were the most true, because that was the
most ancient dwelling place of our fathers, and because it was the
capital and citadel of their empire; just as bishops and colleges now
on account of an ordinary succession assume to themselves this
peculiar honor, that they cannot err; and that they are the habitation
and the pillars of the truth.

But Paul shows us in Romans 9:6, etc., that all such judgments and
opinions are refuted in Genesis, where the apostle shows in the most
forcible manner that the Church is not propagated and continued by any
prerogatives or privileges of birth or place, but by the calling and
Word of God. The family of Jacob was the Church; because it retained
the doctrine of the Word from heaven; but Esau did not retain it.

Thus the Church which fell away and declined in Palestine was restored
by the calling of the great teacher Abraham, and by the renewal of the
promise to him with additional evidences and testimonies, and this
history shows that the Church is the care of God, and is regenerated
and revived by him; as Paul says, "And he gave gifts unto men,
prophets and apostles, and pastors, and teachers."

Let us not then be moved by honors of dignity, or places, or an
orderly succession, so as to be made to believe that the church is
that assembly of men who oppose the Gospel and who would kill and
exterminate all honest men on account of their profession of the
doctrine of godliness, as Cain did.

_Fifthly. We must bear in mind while reading this Book of Genesis, the
lives, manners and actions of the persons recorded in it._ We have
before been speaking of the doctrine and government of the Church, and
they who despise these will never truly value or prize this book. For
such men seek in these histories as in all others, and are interested
only in the various commotions and changes of states and kingdoms, and
the examples and lives of the leaders of armies and the wonderful
events of wars. But here they read also the conversations and lives of
shepherds; which are like real pastorals, better than Virgil's
Bucolica. And they here read also the marriages and quarrels of women,
which they despise as altogether without interest. All such readers
and proud men err, and do not understand that it is the Church which
is here portrayed by Moses, which is poor and humble in external
appearance and unlike mighty empires; yet, as the members of that
Church lived a civil life, its history consists in domestic and
political actions; according to the vocation of those members of the
Church of God and the various occurrences which took place in their

Thus Abraham taught his guests concerning God, and with such effect
that they themselves said, that he was an angel from God; for it is
indeed a great work, verily the greatest of all works to teach rightly
concerning God. This same man carries on war when circumstances
require it and defeats a huge army of the Chaldeans with a very small
number, showing thereby that true courage is a divine motion in the
soul from God. This same man is also a master of a family, is full of
pure affection, and loves his wives and his children. He is also a
diligent man in all his domestic affairs. He defends his fountains and
his cattle. In buying he evinces peculiar care, justice and equity;
things which he knows God requires in all the dealings of men with
each other. And in all this tenor of domestic and political life
Abraham's great aim is this, that thereby his confession and
profession might be made manifest by his actions. In all the common
calamities moreover which attend this life of trouble, he exercises
the fear of God, patience and calling upon God in prayer; and he
experiences at the hand of God many and great deliverances.

All these things in the lives of the holy patriarchs are committed to
_letters_ and recorded in this Holy Book; to the end that
superstitions of every kind might be refuted. For in all ages
superstitious men have imagined and sought out various ceremonies and
modes of religious action, which are not consistent even with common
sense, and these superstitious ceremonies they have pompously
commended to the people under the title of great acts of religion. All
the laws of celibacy, of particular meats and drinks, of afflicting
and torturing the body, to make a feigned outside show of religion,
are as ancient as the world itself. But let us oppose to all these mad
inventions the domestic and political lives and conversations of the
patriarchal fathers, which were full of examples of faith, full of the
most honorable and kind duties toward their fellow men, and full of
the tenderest affection. Nevertheless, these holy characters were not
without ceremonies. There were sacrifices; there were certain
explanations of the Word and will of God; there were certain holy
exercises. The possession of letters and of learning also rested with
these men especially. From them it is that we received theology,
history and medicine. Therefore they must doubtless have been engaged
in various domestic duties and exercises; that those of the less
experienced ages might be instructed by them and trained to virtue.

_Sixthly. Even the faults and falls of the great men, recorded in this
Book must be particularly considered._ They took the greatest care not
to rush into anything against their consciences. But some offenses
will arise in the best of men even against their wills. And sometimes
offenses occur of which men are wholly ignorant and unconscious before
they take place. Lot, when in the great grief of his mind he had drunk
to excess, was defiled by an incestuous commerce with his own

But in these slips and falls we are to observe a distinctive
difference. These holy men who feared God, as I said, were on their
guard not to rush into anything against their consciences; and when
they happened to fall they deplored the weakness of human nature and
learned to see the value of the promise of deliverance through the
Saviour, who was to come. And they at length knew that God had
received them again in mere mercy, for the sake of the great Deliverer
promised; and by that confidence and trust in the promised mercy they
returned to God; and therefore they obtained pardon and were delivered
from their sins and the punishment of them. Hence Jacob preaches and
proclaims the angel, the Son of God, by whom he said he was "delivered
from all evil"; namely, from sin and eternal punishment. But the
wicked, as Cain, the "giants," and the people of Sodom, defiled
themselves with various sins and iniquities in an open contempt of
God, and rushed into eternal destruction. Therefore the wide
difference between the falls and punishments of these two characters
is to be diligently observed in reading this book of Genesis.

These observations I have made by way of Introduction for the benefit
of the inexperienced, that being thus forewarned they might know that
the doctrine contained in these sacred histories is concerning the
most momentous things, and is most copious and extensive, which indeed
the following commentary will most learnedly and blessedly open up and
explain. Let those therefore who read it bear in mind that the six
particular admonitions which I have here mentioned; and let their aim
in reading be this, that by meditating on the lives of the holy men
here recorded, they may become accustomed to the fear of God and to
faith in him; and to call upon him in prayer and supplication.

And as there is no old commentary of the book of Genesis existing, and
as it is well known to all that this book is calculated to be of the
utmost benefit and profit, thanks are due to the Reverend Doctor
Luther, our teacher, both from myself and from all who fear God, for
having undertaken this exposition, by doing which he has rendered a
most essential service; not only to us, but to all posterity; because
he has here opened up and explained the most important things; and has
also so commented upon those most excellent men and lights of the
Church, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, that their virtues because
of this commentary shine forth with much renewed brightness.

Before this, when the people heard the names of these luminaries of
the Church, they had no particular thoughts upon their spiritual
excellencies or their heroism; nor did they consider them to be above
the common rank of shepherds; but now, they learn to acknowledge the
peculiar presence of God with them, and to render thanks unto God that
they were called of him and that they so wonderfully governed and
revived the Church. From these also they have borrowed eminent
examples of the fear of God, of faith, of confession, of patience, and
of many other holy virtues. On these they fix their eyes as on leaders
and lights of the Church, and inquire of their doctrine for the
confirmation of their faith. In a word they venerate them as their
fathers; that is, as teachers of all who call upon Jesus Christ; and
they understand also that these same patriarchs are the fathers in the
flesh of those murderers, the Jews, and of others who, like the Jews
of old, hold up Christ for a laughing-stock and "crucify him afresh"
day by day.

Indeed, it is no small step toward godliness to know the doctrines of
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; and to exalt these eminent men in
our esteem.

And that this commentary might be a benefit to more, and might be
handed down to posterity, as Doctor Luther had not leisure enough to
commit it to writing, with the help of my friends, Caspar Cruciger and
George Rorary, I collected it with the greatest diligence and speed,
as we received it from the mouth of our venerable teacher Luther; and
faithfully committed it to paper; and I hope our services will be
acceptable to all our readers who fear the Lord.

This useful and valuable monument of divine knowledge and experience
therefore I dedicate to you, most Illustrious Prince, John Ernest;
which, I doubt not, you will prize more than any monuments of marble
or of brass. For I know it is your desire that this noble work of
Martin Luther should be preserved for the Church's sake; and I am
equally assured that you love and cherish it with a pious regard, and
after the example of your father; and I am also persuaded that you
love the author of it; which also you do after the example of your
reverend father, that most upright prince, Elector John, Duke of
Saxony, whose worth we thus deservedly record; who, although he was
far inferior to our most eminent leaders, whom I have before
mentioned, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph; yet I may justly rank him
with that Pharaoh, King of Egypt, whom Joseph instructed in the true
knowledge of God; and who gave a quiet dwelling to the family of
Jacob. For thus your father also learned the Gospel with a holy desire
that he might worship God. And he cherished and adorned the churches,
and devoted all his counsels with the greatest moderation, to the
common peace and tranquility of Germany.

Receive therefore, Illustrious Prince, this great work, which is now
dedicated to you; that by reading these wonderful histories of the
government, the perils, and the defense of the Church of God, you may
learn to govern and strengthen your own exalted mind.

The reason why this commentary did not appear all at once, but in
separate volumes, was because the labor of collecting and committing
it to paper was very great; and we have not much idle time at our
disposal, from the duties of our calling, as many dream we have; nor
as those have, who only vaunt and talk of their great and numerous
good works. I hope however that this my candid confession will be
accepted by the reader, if I shall put into his hands a part of our
labors first; though it is not a small part; and I promise that the
remainder shall be added to it in a short time. For as one of old
says, "A godly mind surmounts the hardest toil."

We who are engaged in church work have not only the labor of
commenting and teaching, but we have also to endure many other
burdens; and that, too, with much courage and firm determination of

Nor am I deterred from my purpose even by the opinions of those, who
say that nothing which our adversaries advance, who reproach this kind
of doctrine (which, through the goodness and mercy of God, sounds
forth in our Church), ought to be published to the world. For God's
will is that he should be proclaimed aloud, both by the living voice
and by the writings of his Church. Hence it is said concerning the
Church's living voice, "Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings hast
thou perfected praise." And concerning her writings, "These things
shall be written for the generation to come." God's will is, that the
doctrine revealed by him should be delivered faithfully and purely to
posterity. And his will also is that we should inculcate it by
speaking, by discoursing, by commenting, and by writing; that it might
become familiarly known to us. And this continual meditation and
application of the pen are of essential service to the promotion of

In a word, on what subjects can we meditate and what things can we
commit to paper more useful and important than these? I approve of the
labors of all, who devote themselves to the useful arts. I praise
those who describe the nature and properties of plants and adorn any
of the arts given us from above. But it is not more the duty of men to
philosophize upon plants or upon the anatomy of the human body, than
to collect with a godly intent those things which were delivered to us
of God, attended with sure and certain testimonies.

And as to our adversaries, who reproach the doctrine of our Church,
all such are refuted in this very book of Genesis by those sure
witnesses, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. Since, therefore, we have
such eminent men as these, as witnesses on our side; nay, as our
teachers, too; let us not be moved by the calumnies and reproaches of
the wicked. Reader, farewell. To God I commend you.

Christmas, 1544.


_To the Worthy, Honorable and Illustrious Christopher von Steinberg,
my Gracious Lord:_

How one should read the books of Moses and what one should chiefly
learn from them are fully set forth by our beloved and highly honored
father, Doctor Luther, in many places of his writings; namely, one
should first of all and above all concentrate his attention upon the
very loving and comforting promises concerning our Lord and Saviour,
some of which are very clear and plain in the sacred writings of
Moses, as Gen. 3:15, "And I will put enmity between thee and the
woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head,
and thou shalt bruise his heel." Also, Gen. 22:18, "And in thy seed
shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." Likewise Deut. 18:15,
"Jehovah thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet from the midst of
thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him shall ye hearken." In
the second place attention should be given to the glorious and
beautiful examples of faith, of love, of suffering, of patience, of
prayer and other spiritual characteristics and traits in the saints,
as in Adam, Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and others. How God was
disposed toward them, governed, protected and heard them. And thirdly,
study the examples of unbelief among the ungodly and of the divine
wrath and judgment, in Cain, Ishmael, Esau, in the Flood and in the
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. For all these are nowhere described
more truly and fully than in the writings of Moses; and such examples
illustrate, if they are rightly studied, how the entire Old Testament
is to be used with profit; namely, that we learn to trust and believe
in God from the examples of the saints set before us, how God received
them, ruled and led them and wonderfully protected them. But from the
examples of the wrath and judgment of God learn to fear him.

Such passages are not only here and there in all the books of Moses,
but in his first book he treats also the following important themes:
Whence all creatures, especially man, have their origin; also what sin
and death are and how man may be delivered from them and become truly
pious, which every man seeks and desires; for these are the most
important subjects of all the sacred Scriptures. Likewise, how the
Church originated and grew, often came in need and danger, and was
wonderfully preserved by God.

The foregoing one should know, if he would read Moses, and especially
his first book, Genesis. But so much is in these sound and useful
lessons and explanations of Genesis by our honored father, Doctor
Martin Luther, of blessed memory, that I will give a short account of
it. And first it is true that this dear and great man, our beloved
father and prophet, Doctor Martin Luther, served the Church to his
last days in many and various labors. In his exposition of the
prophetical and apostolical writings, he has most faithfully
explained, enforced and defended the doctrines concerning the
forgiveness of sins, righteousness before God, and eternal salvation.
However his expositions of his "beloved Genesis," as he delighted to
call it, are a key or paragon to all his other writings and books, and
a very rich treasure in which an excellent theology is gathered and
formulated, as every diligent reader will find for himself. For what
is now and then treated in many writings of Doctor Luther, flow
together here in one work, which might rightly be called Dr. Luther's
Theology. Further you find here for the first time many useful reports
of all kinds of spiritual and theological discussions, as they spring
up continuously, and especially critical and special instruction
almost on every article of Christian doctrine, of God, of the three
Persons in the divine Essence, of the creation, of sin, of faith and
the forgiveness of sin; of the Law and the Gospel, and how both
doctrines are to be distinguished from one another, which have never
been treated better and more fully than in this book. Also, of the
true Church, of the papacy of Rome, against which you will find here
very powerful storms, almost on every page. Against the Jews and all
their lies, dreams and phantasies; also some powerful discussions and
strong refutations of their prejudices, comments, corruptions and
misunderstandings. In addition also the correct exegesis or
explanations of many difficult passages of the Scriptures, and strong
consolation in all kinds of spiritual need and temptations, as against
doubt and unbelief, the fear and the crisis of death, and the like.
Also, the refutation of many false teachings and heresies both old and
new. In addition some fine and useful histories illustrating the
course of the Gospel in our day. Likewise prophecies concerning
Germany as to its sad future because it lightly esteems the Word and
is so very unthankful, some of which have already been realized and
others are about to be. Finally you find at times, according to the
drift and occasion of the expositions, good counsels and reports also
about external and worldly affairs, to know which fully is necessary,
useful and pleasant.

Therefore then, as I considered it a sin that such a treasure should
remain only in the Latin language and that others, who were
unacquainted with it, should be robbed of it, especially since Dr.
Martin Luther was the teacher and prophet of Germany; and in order
that everybody, especially the fathers of homes and the people at
large, might enjoy this treasure to their profit, advancement and
consolation, have I in my weak ability translated the first two parts
of the Exposition into German in the plainest and most faithful
manner, and dedicated the same to your high honor and to other
Christians of the nobility, who have been admonished to love and
further such Christian works, for a testimony and praise that your
highness was disposed in a Christian and praiseworthy manner to
further such useful church works, and heartily inclined to do them.
May our beloved God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ grant that it
may be helpful to many pious Christians! Herewith I commend your
highness and the benevolent Christians of the worthy nobility to the
care and protection of Almighty God.

Your humble, willing servant,

Dated Magdeburg, St. Michael, A.D. 1557.


Among the illustrious gifts of grace with which God endowed our
beloved and blessed Dr. Martin Luther, as the chosen agent for the
reformation of the Church, one of the greatest was that he did not
only love the divine Word from his heart and held it indeed, dearer
than thousands of gold and silver; but also that he possessed a deep
insight into and was mighty in explaining the Scriptures of the Old
and New Testaments. Both were united in a high degree in him by the
wisdom and goodness of God. He was indeed a great lover of the divine
Word and found in it his greatest pleasure, when he studied it to be
established in his faith by learning from it the way he should walk.
In the many and various trials he had to experience he could draw from
it the one consolation, of which he gave many proofs and at the same
time left behind him a testimony that can not be gainsaid, which
confirms that for which he is in this respect honored. For his love
and high appreciation of the sacred Scriptures he makes apparent upon
every occasion. From the beginning of his academic career to its close
he lectured constantly and untiringly on the Scriptures and sought to
make his hearers acquainted with them. He founded his teachings on
them and was therefore firm and unmovable in the same. He used them
against his opponents as the sword of the spirit, put them to flight
and refuted all their errors, so that they could not do anything
against him, especially the Papists. He praised the Scriptures most
highly and admonished all to read them and pray to God for true light
if they desired the true knowledge and wished to further their
salvation. As great as was his love to the divine Books so well was he
experienced in them and God gave him great talents to understand and
explain them. He did not hang to the outward shell nor did he seek to
apply in his expositions an extensive human knowledge; but he came to
the right foundation and the true and real purpose of the Spirit of
God, whether he had before him the legal or the evangelical Word, and
knew a clear and impressive way to give the true meaning and will of
God in the respective passages, especially concerning the universal
sinful and deep ruin of mankind, the grace and merciful love of God,
Christ the kernel of all the holy Scriptures, righteousness by faith,
the active and working character of faith, as also other points of
life and doctrine, which he did not do the least in the historical
parts of the Scriptures.

Such gifts Luther received from God because he was chosen as the agent
of the Reformation, and they were by all means necessary to that end.
For by means of the Scriptures the light penetrated the darkness
covering the world, and revealed the abominations of the papacy. Hence
he translated the Scriptures into German from the original texts. He
placed the Bible in the hands of the people. Then in his sermons,
academic lectures and everywhere he diligently explained in many
excellent expositions the divine Books, where he showed how one is to
understand the Word of God and apply it fruitfully to his edification.

These expository and exegetical writings of the sainted Luther are
written with a talent especially adapted for the work, and they have
also at all times brought special blessings, although we deny not that
some are to be preferred to others. And among Luther's very best
writings all agree, and rightly so, is his Commentary on Genesis, a
short historical account of which I will now give.

Luther began this work at Wittenberg in his lectures to the university
students in 1536, and ended it after ten years of labor, Nov. 17,
1545, only a few months before his death. So John Mathesius reports in
his "Sermons on the Life of Luther," and then adds, Luther because of
worry left Wittenberg for a time to visit the Prince of Anhalt, at
Merseburg, and wrote, "Upon his return home, he finished his Genesis,
Nov. 17, 1545, on which he had labored ten years." Ludwig von
Seckendorf's "History of Lutheranism" is the authority that he began
this work in 1536, while in the margin of the Latin edition is printed
that he entered upon the exposition of the twenty-second chapter, Oct.
27, 1539.

In the meantime the wisdom of God directed that this glorious treasure
should not lie buried, but should be brought to light for the
quickening of many souls, and issued periodically in parts. The
beginning was made while Luther was still living, and the first part,
the Creation and the Flood, appeared in 1545, containing his lectures
on the first eleven chapters of Genesis, edited by Veit Dietrich, who
heard Luther deliver the lectures while a student at Wittenberg, to
which he wrote a dedication, and Luther added a short but precious
"Address to the Christian Reader" [both of which we print in full].
Luther died in 1546, and Veit Dietrich in 1549, but Jerome Besoldus,
pastor at Nuremberg, continued the work and issued the three other
parts or volumes at Nuremberg. The second volume, The History of
Abraham, with a preface by Michael Roting, professor at Nuremberg,
from the twelfth chapter to verse 10 of the twenty-fifth chapter, was
published in 1550. The third volume, to the thirty-sixth chapter,
appeared in 1552, with a preface by Philip Melanchthon, and the fourth
volume to the end of Genesis, in 1554, prefaced by Besoldus himself.
Jerome Baumgartner, a councilman of Nuremberg, and a great lover of
Luther's writings, appointed Besoldus to this work upon the death of
Veit Dietrich, Melanchthon and Rorary approving. Jerome Besoldus
studied at Wittenberg, heard these lectures from Luther's mouth, and
diligently wrote a large part of them as they were delivered. He
stayed in the home of Luther and ate at his table. He made use, also,
of what Dietrich, Cruciger, Rorary and Stoltz had written from
Luther's mouth. He says when Veit Dietrich died while preparing the
second volume, the enemies of the Gospel sought to prevent its
publication, and there was little hope that it should appear in print
complete. But God graciously heard the prayers of the godly in these
dark and distressing days, who longed for the last and best writings
of their beloved Luther, when Councilman Baumgartner resolved that at
least what Veit Dietrich had prepared for the second volume should
appear, and the result was the work complete was printed.

This commentary was delivered to the students in Latin and first
published in that language. But soon arrangements were perfected to
issue it in German. Basil Faber, who died while rector in Erfurt, a
celebrated educator, translated the first two volumes, whose
dedication we give in full; and John Guden, senior pastor at
Brunswick, translated volumes three and four, and his dedication was
to the same person and written on Epiphany of the same year, 1557, a
little before Faber's dedication.

Other editions of the commentary, both in Latin and German, followed,
and then it was incorporated in the editions of the complete works of
Luther; in the Wittenberg edition, in Latin and German, and in the
Altenburg and the Leipsic collections in German, and all subsequent

That Luther himself did not make much of this work is a proof of his
humility and that he ascribed nothing to himself, but all to the grace
of God. Nevertheless the commentary is worthy of all the praise it has
received. In the Formula of Concord our forefathers referred to it as
a _"Commentarius praeclarus,"_ or an excellent commentary and the
Leipsic and Wittenberg theologians in their final report and
explanation, especially against Flacius, mention "The Augsburg
Confession," the Postils, and other sermons of Luther which are full
of the precious teachings and strong consolation of the Holy Ghost,
and all his other books on doctrine, especially those written after
the Diet of Augsburg, in 1530, among the best of which are his
explanations of certain Prophets and the Psalms, the Epistle to the
Galatians; and in this select list is classified the "Commentary on
Genesis." They designate it as a "rich exposition, with which he
closed his calling, his ministerial office and his life in a blessed
way. Because of this we justly esteem it highly. For in the same
commentary he gave full and free expression to his last convictions
and confession on most of the articles of the Christian faith and
bequeathed them to the world."

In like manner have other divines of our Church judged of this
commentary and held that we should esteem it highly and that it proves
Luther was truly a great expounder of the Scriptures. (Basil Faber's
dedication is quoted at length here, also Veit Dietrich at other
places, but we refer the reader to their documents, which we give in

John Guden says: "Luther has left us in this Commentary a rich
treasury as a legacy, and what a valuable treasure it is, they will
truly learn, who diligently read it. As a summary, one finds here the
true kernel of the doctrine our God has revealed to us through Dr.
Luther, as Melanchthon, Jonas and other spiritual men have also
rightly judged."

Mathesius with good spiritual taste says: "He who learns to know
Christ in Genesis has instruction in the power of the divine Word and
knows what sin and righteousness are, which avail before God. My
testimony concerning this blessed Commentary I wish to leave behind me
that my natural and spiritual children may not forget it, but esteem
it highly all their lives. My Genesis, for the sake of instruction and
consolation, I have frequently read through, underscored and
described. Remember this commentary explained to me the Word and will
of Christ, and from it God gave comfort, rest and life to my troubled
soul. For when our case is like the suffering of the patriarchs and
the exposition suits one's heart as if the Doctor really speaks with
us, then the Commentary is incorporated in us and lives in us, and
refreshes and quickens one's heart." Joachim Morlin, in "How to Read
With Profit the Writings and Books of the Beloved and Blessed Man of
God, Dr. Martin Luther," praises above all others this Commentary and
says: "Read the following 'Consummatum Est,' 'It Is Finished,' of this
holy man, 'The Beloved Genesis,' in which as in a new world he brings
forth and opens up not only certain parts but all the treasures and
riches of the wisdom of the divine Word, so that there is not another
book like it on earth since the times of the apostles. Luther's
Genesis makes all theologians scholars." Jerome Weller says: "Luther's
Commentary on Genesis is his Swan Song. For although all Luther's
writings are full of manifold doctrines and consolations, yet his
Commentary on Genesis excels all others. There is hardly a temptation
for which he has not given in this Commentary a sure remedy; yes,
Luther has excelled himself in this Commentary. Therefore I
continually admonish all theological students again and again that
they read this commentary diligently and assiduously and never lay it
out of their hands, but seek to be wedded to it. For I can assure you
I received more benefit from this commentary than from almost all the
other writings of Luther. Therefore I will never be satisfied nor
tired of reading it. If all that has been written since the apostles
were gathered in one heap, they would not be worthy to be compared
with this Commentary. I know that I speak the truth, and all who have
experienced the truth and learned theologians share my convictions."

Not that the work does not praise itself but that we may better know
that not only a few but that the teachers of our Church generally,
have at all times justly emphasized its praise, I add a few more
testimonies. Timothy Kirchner, in the preface to his _"Thesaurus Dr.
Lutheri"_ (1565), says: "In this book all theologians must go to
school, and no one will graduate in it. Luther, the man of God, has so
clearly and richly treated in it nearly all the greatest and most
important articles of our Christian faith, that the like, the holy
Bible alone excepted, has not appeared in the world and indeed will
not. It will be and remain indeed a _'Thesaurus thesaurorum,'_ a
treasury of treasuries, and a perennial fountain of all consolation,
along with the Bible." David Chytraeus (1557) also does not know how
to praise this work enough, he says: "It is a Swan Song and at the
same time a complete work in every respect. Not only is it a rich
treasure of spiritual wisdom and learning, clothed in fine, rich
language, and an accurate explanation of all the difficult passages
and questions, but it has also developed in its language a special and
characteristic power, which moves the soul of the reader and inspires
him to true piety, fear of God, faith and other virtues." He
admonishes all the godly attentively and diligently to read this last
work of Luther, and advertise it in preference to other writings,
which are indeed learned, but are not as awakening as this one. Daniel
Cramer agrees with Chytraeus and says in his "Isagogics," in 1630:
"Whoever has not read this Commentary is not worthy of the name of a
theologian." Abraham Calov in his preface to his "Commentary on
Genesis" (1671), calls this "A golden book," and Thomas Crenius
(1704), "A work that can not be praised enough." Christian Gerber
expresses his conviction thus: "The writings of Luther are worthy to
be esteemed more highly and used more diligently. His Commentary on
Genesis is a remarkable book, not only awakening but useful and
edifying to read. He has so beautifully described the virtues and
piety of the holy patriarchs that one can hardly read them enough when
he once begins. One could draw from this Commentary an excellent
patriarchal and Christian system of ethics, and it is to be hoped that
some theologian will do it, which would indeed be a useful and
excellent book." Again John Heinreich von Seelen writes: "It is a
treasure more precious that gold, containing inestimable riches of
holy thoughts, so that some have rightly judged that this is the best
of all Luther's books." Von Seckendorf writes: "One is really amazed
at the almost incredible gifts of Luther to explain the holy
Scriptures so critically and clearly without any great effort. He
studied the greatest expounders of the Bible. He was little concerned
about his words and style and dictated nothing, and the same thoughts
he uttered on other occasions in different words, for he was never in
want of words." Many more like testimonies could be quoted.

The foregoing words of praise are well grounded, as every one who has
thoughtfully and diligently read this book must confess. What Richard
Simon, the Jewish critic, and Pallavicinus, Maimburg and other enemies
of the Protestant faith have said against it only prove their own
ignorance and darkness in spiritual knowledge and makes Luther shine
forth all the brighter. When von Seckendorf wished to make extracts
from this Commentary, so many important subjects and passages were
found that he did not know which to select.

There is a glorious work for this book of the sainted Luther to
accomplish. From it the learned and the unlearned may be taught the
true meaning of Genesis, gain a critical insight into many theological
subjects and reap much for their private devotions. Therefore it is
well that new editions of it are constantly being issued and an
opportunity is given to a larger number to read it. This edition will
be found more correct and accurate than the others, and also more
serviceable and convenient. This is due to the publisher, Mr. John
Gottgetreu Mueller, who has chosen not only good paper and print, but
also a convenient form (a quarto instead of a folio form). May the
Lord of lords make this labor of the sainted Luther to be a greater
blessing, so that his most holy name may further be glorified and many
souls be established in the saving knowledge of the Gospel, or
encouraged to that end, for the sake of his merciful love. Amen.


Jena, April 6th, 1739.



"This invaluable and last production of the loved and revered reformer
is a rich and precious mine of sacred wisdom; a vast treasury of deep
research, of varied scriptural knowledge and of extensive Christian
experience; in a word, it is a profound and comprehensive body of
biblical, sacred-historical, doctrinal, spiritual and experimental
divinity. So that a Christian who procures 'Luther on Galatians' and
'Luther on Genesis' possesses a complete treasury of rich, solid and
saving theology.

"Indeed it is impossible to convey by any command of description an
idea of the extent, depth and richness of the mine of Christian
knowledge and experience, which Luther's long hidden and unknown
exposition of Genesis contains. The sins, trials, afflictions, faith,
hope, deliverances, joys and duties of kings, princes, magistrates,
husbands, wives, parents, children, masters and servants, rich and
poor, are treated, as they occur in the lives of the patriarchs and
prominent characters of the divine Record.

"I hesitate not a moment to express my fullest persuasion that the
Church of Christ will consider Luther's commentary on Genesis the
deepest and most spiritual exposition of any book or portion of the
holy Scriptures in existence; entering the most deeply and clearly
into God's mind, and furnishing the most profound, varied and blessed
edification for the family of heaven; and also the most useful,
truthful, valuable and divine instruction for the world at large.

"As an expositor of the holy Scriptures Luther's comments contain a
depth of investigation unpenetrated, a width of meditation unspanned,
an extent of research unoccupied, a scriptural knowledge unpossessed,
a variety of reflections unevinced, a multitude of wonders unrevealed,
a number of beauties undiscovered, a value of instruction
uncommunicated, a spirit of holiness unbreathed, a height of praise
unascended, a depth of worship unfathomed, and a magnification of the
Scriptures as the Word of God, unsurpassed and unequalled by any
commentator, before or since his day."

This divine and educator of the Church of England says Luther's
Commentary on Genesis is "Doubtless the masterpiece of the greatest of
the extra Bible saints and servants of the Most High." "What an
ox-like labor, or as the reformer expresses it, 'what a ministerial
sweat!'" "This greatest of all commentaries."

Space will not permit more. In the second volume on Genesis we hope to
say more on the place this commentary has held and ought to hold in
English Protestantism.


Dr. Cole in his preface, dated London, Feb. 2nd, 1857, records to the
praise of God that, "It came in a most remarkable and wholly
unexpected way to the knowledge of a noble lady of Scotland, Lady
M----, that the 'Creation,' the first part of Luther's great
commentary on Genesis, was translated; and that the translator was at
a loss for ways and means whereby to print and publish it; and, after
two letters of favored communication and explanation between the
translator and her ladyship, this 'noble' disciple of the Redeemer,
1 Cor. 1:26, in her second letter at once with divine nobleness of
mind purchased the manuscript at its full fixed price, without one
word about abatement; and she also as nobly undertook to print and
publish it at her own expense. From her ladyship's communications it
appeared that she herself was 'brought to the knowledge of the truth'
by reading translations of Luther's writings. Her present holy acts of
service to the cause of truth were therefore those of gratitude to
God, of love and honor to the name of Luther, and of encouragement to
his humble translators."

Years before, this lady read of Dr. Cole's intention to translate
Luther on Genesis, but it did not appear. Thinking that the translator
had no doubt "gone the way of all the earth," she made an effort to
have it translated and published, in order to be benefited still more
by reading Luther in English. Hence her great surprise after many
years to receive a letter from Dr. Cole, stating the manuscript was
finally ready. She replied thus: "My Dear Sir:-- Your letter was the
cause of much interest and surprise to me; for about the time that you
completed your translation of 'The Creation' by Luther, I was
anxiously inquiring from every one I could think of, to know if there
was any one who could and would translate it; and I bought the work on
Genesis in the original in hope to find some one to translate it; but
upon inquiring of Messrs. ---- and others, I found that the
translation and publication would be so expensive that I was obliged
to abandon the thought of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

It thus pleased all-wise God to choose not a rich son of his, but a
daughter to execute his blessed work. May God grant that this interest
so general and promising in England and Scotland half a century ago in
translating Luther may be revived by all the sons and daughters who
have been benefited by his writings!

Minneapolis, Minn., Nov. 28th, 1903.



My lectures on Genesis I did not undertake with the intention that
they be published and advertised; but in order that I might serve for
a time our University as it is at present, and that I might exercise
my audience and myself in the Word of God; lest I should finish the
death of this body in an old age indolent and entirely useless. To
this end Ps. 146:2 awakened and encouraged me: "While I live will I
praise Jehovah; I will sing praises unto my God while I have any

Moreover, I undertook the work in order that I might be found at death
among that "little flock" and of those "babes," out of whose mouth
"God perfects praise" or establishes strength, by which he destroys
the enemy and the avenger, Ps. 8:2. For the world always has enough
monsters and devils, who blaspheme, corrupt and pervert the Word of
God, so that God be not adorned with his glory, but Satan instead is

It however so happened that these lectures fell into the hands of two
good and pious men who collected them. Dr. Casper Cruciger, whose
books sufficiently testify how he was led by the spirit of God and by
the study of his Word; and Mr. George Rorary, the ministers of our
church here at Wittenberg. Their work was followed by that of Master
Veit Dietrich, the pastor at Nuremberg, who contributed his share. All
of these men are truly faithful, scholarly and zealous ministers of
the Word of God, and their judgment is that these lectures should by
all means be published. For my part I leave them to act according to
their own conviction, as St. Paul says, "Let each man be fully assured
in his own mind," Rom. 14:5, and as I see that they are moved by a
holy zeal to serve the congregations of the Church of Christ, I
therefore strongly approve of their intention and I pray that the
benediction of God may rest upon them!

However I would prefer that their Christian labors and valuable time
were spent on a better book and a better author. For I am not one of
whom it can be said, "He did a good work"; neither one of whom you can
say, "He tried to do a good work"; I belong to the last order of
authors, who dare scarcely say, "I desired to do a good work." Oh,
that I might be worthy of being the last in this last order. For all
these lectures were delivered in an extemporaneous and popular form,
just as the expressions came into my mouth, following in quick
succession and also mixed with German, and surely more verbose than I

Not however that I am conscious of having spoken anything contrary to
the truth. My chief aim has been, as far as possible, to avoid
obscurity and present as perspicuous as my talent and ability could
the things which I wished to have understood. For I feel keenly that
these weighty matters of which Moses wrote have been treated by me in
a manner far beneath their dignity and importance. But I console
myself with the old proverb, "Let him fail who attempts to do a thing
better than he is able"; and with this Scripture, "God requires
nothing of a man beyond the ability he has given him." 2 Cor. 8:12.

But why multiply words? That of which we treat are the Scriptures; the
Scriptures, I say, of the Holy Spirit, and for these things, as St.
Paul says, who is sufficient? 2 Cor. 3:5. They are a river, says
Gregory, in which a lamb may walk or touch bottom and an elephant must
swim. They are the wisdom of God which makes the wise of this world
and "the prince" of it fools; which makes babes eloquent, and the
eloquent men babes.

In a word he is not the best, who comprehends all things and never
fails, for such a one never has been, is not now and never will be;
but he is the best here who loves the most, as Ps. 1:2 says, "Blessed
is the man that loveth the law of Jehovah and meditateth on it."
Abundantly sufficient is it for us, if we delight in this divine
wisdom, love it and meditate on it day and night.

We examine the commentaries of the fathers and find that the good will
was certainly not lacking among them, but to do it they were not able.
And how ridiculous are all of our day, who attempt to explain the
great things, the Scriptures by a beautiful, as they term it, by a
pure Latinity or by paraphrases, being themselves utterly destitute of
the spirit and of understanding, and no more competent to treat such
holy things than, as the proverb runs, "Asses are to play upon a
harp." Jerome correctly said, Every one brings the offering to the
tabernacle he can afford. One brings gold, another silver, another
precious stones and the skins or the hair of goats. For the Lord has
need of all these things. The wills of all were equally pleasing to
him, though their offerings were not equal.

Therefore I permit these few goat hairs of mine to be published, as my
offering and sacrifice unto God, whom I beseech in Christ Jesus, our
Lord, that he would, through my labors, give occasion to others to do
better or at least to exert themselves to explain these things better
than I have done. As to my adversaries and their god, the devil, I
believe with holy pride and exultation in the Lord, that I have given
occasions enough to them to cavil and calumniate, for this I have
continually and liberally done from the beginning of my ministry. This
is the only service they are worthy to perform, for they neither can
do nor desire to do anything that is good; being, as Paul says, "men
of corrupt minds; and unto every good work reprobate," Tit. 1:15, 16.

May our Lord Jesus Christ perfect his work, which he hath begun in us
and hasten that day of our redemption, for which we long with uplifted
heads, and for which we sigh and wait in pure faith and a good
conscience, in which we have also served an ungrateful world, a world
that is the incorrigible enemy even of its own, to say nothing of our,
salvation. "Come, Lord Jesus!" and let every one that loves thee, say,
"Come, Lord Jesus!" Amen.




This first chapter of our Holy Bible is written in the simplest and
plainest language, and yet it contains the greatest and at the same
time the most difficult themes. Therefore the Jews, as Jerome
testifies, were forbidden to read it or hear it read before they were
thirty years of age. The Jews required that all the other Scriptures
be well known by every one before they were permitted to approach this
chapter. Their Rabbins however accomplished little good by this, for
even many of the Rabbins themselves, whose years were more than twice
thirty, give in their commentaries and Talmuds the most childish and
foolish explanations of these, the greatest of all subjects.

Nor has any one yet in the church to the present day explained all
these momentous things correctly and satisfactorily in every respect.
For interpreters have confused and entangled every thing with such a
variety, diversity and infinity of questions that it is very clear
that God reserved to himself the majesty of this wisdom, and the
correct understanding of this chapter, leaving to us only the general
ideas that the world had a beginning and was created by God out of
nothing. This general knowledge may clearly be taken from the text.
But with respect to the particulars, there is so much that one cannot
be clear about and hence innumerable questions have continually been
raised in commentaries.

From Moses however we know that 6000 years ago the world did not
exist. But of this no philosopher can in any way be persuaded;
because, according to Aristotle the first and the last man cannot in
any way be determined, although however Aristotle leaves the problem
in doubt whether or not the world is eternal, yet he is inclined to
the opinion that it is eternal. For human reason cannot ascend higher
than to declare that the world is eternal, and an infinite generation
preceded us and will follow us. Here human reason is forced to stand
still. However from this belief follows as a consequence the perilous
opinion that the soul is mortal, because philosophy knows no plurality
of infinities. For it cannot be, but that human reason must be
overwhelmed and shipwrecked in the sea of the majesty of these themes.

Plato collected, perhaps in Egypt, some traditional sparks as it were
from the sermons of the fathers and prophets, and therefore he came
nearer the truth than others. He holds that matter and mind are
eternal; but he says that the world had a beginning and that it was
made out of matter. But I cease to mention the opinions of
philosophers, for Lyra cites these although he does not explain them.

Thus neither among the Hebrews, Greeks nor Latins is there a leading
teacher whom we can follow here with safety. Therefore I shall be
pardoned if I shall see what I can say on the subject. For except the
one general opinion that the world was created out of nothing there is
scarcely another thing connected with the subject on which there is
entire agreement among all theologians.

Hilary and Augustine, two great lights in the church, believed that
the world was made on a sudden and all at once, not successively
during the space of six days. Augustine plays upon these six days in a
marvelous manner in explaining them. He considers them to be mystical
days of knowledge in the angels, and not natural days. Hence have
arisen those continual discussions in the schools and in churches
concerning the evening and morning knowledge, which Augustine was the
cause of being introduced. These are all diligently collected and
particularly mentioned by Lyra. Let those therefore who wish to know
more about them consult Lyra.

But all these disputations, though subtle and clever, are not to the
point in question. For what need is there to make a two-fold
knowledge. Equally useless is it to consider Moses in the beginning of
his history as speaking mystically or allegorically. For as he is not
instructing us concerning allegorical creatures and an allegorical
world, but concerning essential creatures and a world visible and
apprehensive by the senses, he calls, as we say in our trite proverb,
"a post, a post;" that is, when he says morning or day or evening, his
meaning is the same as ours when we use those terms, without any
allegory whatever. Thus the Evangelist Matthew, in his last chapter,
uses the same manner of expression when he says that Christ arose on
the evening of the Sabbath; that is, at that time of one of the
Sabbath days which was formed by the evening light. But if we cannot
fully comprehend the days here mentioned nor understand why God chose
to use these intervals of time, let us rather confess our ignorance in
the matter than wrest the words of Moses from the circumstances which
he is recording to a meaning, which has nothing to do with those

With respect therefore to this opinion of Augustine, we conclude that
Moses spoke literally and plainly and neither allegorically nor
figuratively; that is, he means that the world with all creatures was
created in six days as he himself expresses it. If we cannot attain
unto a comprehension of the reason why it was so, let us still remain
scholars and leave all the preceptorship to the Holy Spirit!

These days were distinguished thus. On the first day the unformed mass
of heaven and earth was created to which light was then added. On the
second day the firmament. On the third day the earth was produced out
of the waters and its fruits created. On the fourth day the heavens
were adorned by the creation of the sun, moon and stars. On the fifth
day the fishes of the sea and the fowls of the air. On the sixth day
the beasts of the earth were created, and Man was made. I say nothing
of the other views which divide these sacred matters into the work of
creation, of distinction, and of ornation, because I do not think such
divisions of the subject can be made to harmonize in all respects with
each other. If any one admire such views let him consult Lyra.

As to Lyra thinking that a knowledge of the opinion of philosophers
concerning matter is necessary, and that on such knowledge must depend
a man's understanding the six days' work of creation, I question
whether Lyra himself really understood what Aristotle calls matter.
For Aristotle does not, like Ovid, call the original unformed chaotic
mass matter. Wherefore omitting these unnecessary subjects altogether,
let us come at once to Moses as a far better teacher, whom we may more
safely follow than we may philosophers, who dispute without the Word
about things they do not understand.



I. V. 1. _In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth._

A necessary and a very difficult question arises here, in that Moses
speaks of the creation of the heavens and the earth, and yet does not
mention the day on which nor the Word by which they were created. For
one naturally inquires why Moses did not rather use the same form of
words here, as he did subsequently, where mention is made of the Word
thus: _"In the beginning, God said, Let there be the heavens and the
earth?"_ For Moses mentions "the heavens and the earth" before God had
spoken anything, whereas both the Decalogue and the whole Scripture
testify that God made the heavens and the earth, and all that in them
is, "in six days." But as I said before, we enter on this path without
a guide. We leave therefore to others to follow their own judgment
here, while we will expound it according to our views.

Not those elements which now are, but the original rude and unformed
substances Moses calls "the heavens and earth." The water was dark,
and because it was by nature the lighter element it surrounded the
earth, itself also as yet unformed was a kind of mud. God formed this
first material, if I may so call it, of his future work, not before or
apart from the six days, but, according to the express words of the
Decalogue, in the "beginning" of the first day.

As I view the matter therefore Moses does not mention here the first
day, because these confused substances of the hitherto rude heavens
and earth were afterwards formed, and as it were fully adorned and
distinguished. For what he immediately calls the "deep" and the
"waters;" that is, the rude and unformed water which was not yet
distributed nor adorned with its proper form, he here calls "the
heavens;" whereas, had Moses spoken otherwise and had said, "In the
beginning God said, Let there be the heavens and the earth;" there
would have been no need of afterwards saying, "God said;" seeing that
these unformed waters would have been already illuminated and the
light would have been already created.

The meaning of Moses therefore in all simplicity is that all things
which now exist were created by God and that "in the beginning" of the
first day were created the mass of mud or of earth, and of dark mist
or of water; on which afterwards, in the after part of the first day,
God shed the light and caused the day to appear, which might discover
this rude mass of "the heavens and the earth;" which was in all
respects like undeveloped seed, and yet adapted to produce whatever
God should require.

V. 2a. _And the earth was waste and void._

In the Hebrew words TOHU and BOHU there is no more meaning than can be
expressed in any other language, yet these terms are frequently used
in the sacred Scriptures. TOHU means "nothing," so that a TOHU earth
means, in its simple reality, that which is in itself "empty" or
"waste;" where there is no way, no distinction of places, no hill, no
vale, no grass, no herbs, no animals, no men. And such was the first
appearance of the waste and untilled earth, for while the water was
mixed with the earth no distinctions of those various objects could be
discerned, which are clearly seen since the earth's formation and

Thus Isaiah, 34:11, when threatening destruction to the whole earth
says "There shall be stretched upon it the line of TOHU, confusion;
and the plummet of BOHU, emptiness;" that is, it shall be made so
desolate that neither men nor beasts shall be left upon it; all houses
shall he devastated and all things hurled into chaos and confusion.
Just as Jerusalem was afterwards laid waste by the Romans and Rome by
the Goths, so that no vestige of the ancient city as it once was could
be pointed out. You now behold the earth standing out of the waters,
the heavens adorned with stars, the fields with trees, and cities with
houses; but should all these things be taken away and hurled into
confusion and into one chaotic heap, the state of things thus produced
would be what Moses calls TOHU and BOHU.

As the earth was surrounded with darkness or with waters over which
darkness brooded, so also the heaven was unformed. It was not only
TOHU because it was destitute of the garnishing of the stars, and BOHU
because it was not yet separated and distinguished from the earth, but
because it was as yet altogether destitute of light and a dark and
deep abyss which like a dense cloud enveloped the earth, or that mass
of mud; for the division of the waters from the waters follows later.

Here then we have the first thing which Moses teaches: that the
heavens and the earth were created on the first day; but, that the
heaven was as yet unformed, not separated from the waters, destitute
of its luminaries, and not elevated to its position; and the earth in
like manner was as yet without its animals, its rivers and its

As to Lyra's argument that this original matter was mere power and was
afterward rendered substance by its own power, or as to what Augustine
says in his book of "Confessions," that matter is as it were nothing,
and that no medium matter can be thought of between the Creator and
the thing created; such subtle disquisitions I by no means approve.
For how could that be a mere nothing which was already of such
material and substance that Moses calls it "the heavens and the
earth"? Unless indeed you would call it artificially the same kind of
matter which you call wood, which is not yet wrought into a chest or a
bench. But this latter substance is what true philosophers would call
matter in a secondary state.

We should rather consider the whole subject, as Peter considers it,
2 Pet. 3:5, where speaking of the wicked, he says "For this they
wilfully forget, that there were heavens from of old, and an earth
compacted out of water and amidst water, by the word of God; by which
means the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished."
For Peter seems to intimate that the earth consists of water, and was
made out of water, and that after it was produced out of water and
placed as it were in the light, it swam as it now seems to do in the
water. This, says he, the wicked knew, and therefore being confident
of this condition of things, they feared no peril from water, which
they knew to be the fundamental substance of the earth. Yet the water
destroyed that earth which it preserved, buoyed up and bore; just as
at the last it shall be destroyed by fire. From this intimation of
Peter, it would appear, that the earth was made to stand in the water,
and out of the water. But let this suffice concerning the original
matter or material. If any one should discuss the subject with greater
subtlety of argument, I do not think he would do so, with any profit.

V. 2b. _And darkness was upon the face of the deep._

The "water," the "deep," and the "heavens," are here put for the same
thing; namely, for that dark unformed substance which afterwards was
divided by the Word. For it was the office of the second Person of the
Trinity, namely Christ, the Son of God, to divide and adorn that
chaotic mass produced from nothing. And this may have been the very
design of Moses in not mentioning the Word in the first place; that
is, in not saying at first, _"And God said."_ For some maintain that
this was done by Moses purposely.

V. 2c. _And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters._

Some consider "the Spirit of God" here to mean merely the wind. But if
anything material is here to be understood by "Spirit," I should
rather refer it to the first moving of the original unformed mass of
heaven and earth, which is called "the deep," which is always in
motion to this day; for water is never still, its surface is always in
motion. But I prefer here to understand the Holy Spirit. For the wind
is a creature which did not exist, while as yet the heavens and the
earth lay in that confused chaotic mass.

There is moreover an universal agreement of the Christian Church
concerning a revelation of the mystery of the Holy Trinity in this
first creative work. The Father through the Son, whom Moses here calls
the Word, creates "the heavens and the earth" out of nothing. Over
these the Holy Spirit broods. And as a hen sits upon her eggs that she
may hatch her young, thus warming her eggs and as it were infusing
into them animation, so the Scriptures say the Holy Ghost brooded as
it were on the waters; that He might infuse life into these elementary
substances which were afterwards to be animated and garnished. For the
office of the Holy Spirit is to give life.

These explanations, as far as I see, are sufficient for our present
purpose. Wherefore casting away all other diverse opinions, let us set
down this as the truth, that God created "the heavens and the earth,"
as yet a rude mass, out of nothing; so that the earth, as an unformed
chaotic mass, enveloped the heaven as yet also an unformed mass, like
a dark, circumfluent, nebulous cloud.

It is necessary however that we discuss the terms here used. At the
very beginning of this discussion we are met by the expression "In the
beginning." Some have expounded the words "In the beginning" as
meaning "In the Son," from John 1:1; seeing that Christ also gives to
the Jews when they inquired "who He was?" this answer, "The beginning,
who also speak unto you," John 8:25. This same exposition is given
also from Ps. 110:3, "With thee is the Beginning, in the day of thy
power;" which passage nearly all commentators expound as meaning,
"With thee is thy Son in divine power." But it is well known to those
acquainted with the Greek language that the expression _tan Archan_
should be rendered by an adverbial phraseology "at first" or "in the
beginning," etc. It is a figure of speech which we frequently meet in
Greek. Wherefore let those who will, amuse themselves by thus
interpreting the expression "In the beginning." I prefer the simplest
explanation which can be at once understood by the less learned.

My belief is therefore that the design of Moses was to signify the
beginning of time; so that "In the beginning" has the same meaning as
if he had said, "At that time before which there was no time." Or he
means that when the world began it so began that the heavens and the
earth were created by God out of nothing; but created in a rude
shapeless mass, not formed and beautified as they now are. Though they
lay not long thus, but began immediately on the first day to be
garnished with the light.

The Arians imagined that angels and the Son of God were made before
"the beginning." But let us pass by this blasphemy. We will omit also
another question, "What was God doing before the beginning of the
world;" was he in a state of entire inaction or not? To this question
Augustine introduced in his Confession the reply, "He was making a
hell for all searchers into his secrets." This reply says Augustine
was made to ridicule the violent and audacious blasphemy of the

The modesty therefore of Augustine pleases one, who elsewhere candidly
says that in all such cases he draws in the sails of his thoughts. For
if we speculate and dispute to infinity, these things still remain
incomprehensible. Even those things which we see we can understand but
little. How much less then shall we grasp in our knowledge such things
as these. For what will you determine concerning things that were
before and beyond time? Or what can be your thoughts of things God did
before time was? Wherefore let us away with all such thoughts and
believe that God before the creation of the world was incomprehensible
in his essential rest, but that now since the creation he is within
and without and above all creatures; that is, he is still
incomprehensible. This is all that can be said, because that which was
outside of time our intellect can not comprehend.

Wherefore God does not manifest himself in anything but in his works
and in his Word; because these can in some measure be comprehended,
all other things which properly belong to his divinity, cannot be
comprehended or understood, as they really are; such as those things
which were beyond time and before the world's creation, etc. Perhaps
God appeared to Adam unveiled; but after his sin he may have shown
himself to him in "a noise," Gen. 3:8, under which he was covered as
with a veil. So also later in the tabernacle God was veiled by the
sanctuary; and in the desert by the pillar of a cloud and by the
pillar of fire. Wherefore Moses also calls these things "appearances"
or "shadowings" of God, by which he then manifested himself. And Cain
calls that the "face" and the "presence" of God where he had before
offered his sacrifices, Gen. 4:14. For our nature is so deformed by
sin, yea corrupted and lost, that it cannot understand God naked and
unveiled nor comprehend what he really is. Therefore it is that these
covering veils are absolutely necessary.

It is moreover insanity to dispute much concerning God as to what he
was beyond and before time, for that is to desire to comprehend naked
divinity or the naked divine essence. And it is for this very reason
that God has wrapt himself in the veils of his works and under certain
visible appearances, just as at this day he veils himself under
baptism, absolution, etc. If you depart from these veiling signs, you
at once run away beyond measure, beyond place and beyond time into the
most absolute nothing; concerning which, as philosophers say, there
can be no knowledge. Therefore it is that we with solemn propriety
enter not into this question; but rest content with this simple
meaning of the expression, "In the beginning."

II. But it is more worthy of observation that Moses does not say "In
the beginning, ADONI, the Lord created the heavens and the earth;" but
he uses a noun of the plural number ELOHIM; by which name, in the
Books of Moses, and in other parts of the Scriptures both angels and
magistrates are sometimes called. As in Ps. 82:6, "I have said ye are
gods." It is certain however that here it signifies the one true God,
by whom all things were made. Why therefore does Moses here use a
plural noun or name?

The Jews cavil at Moses in various ways. To us however it is clear
that the intent of Moses is to set forth directly the Trinity; or the
plurality of persons in the one divine nature. For as he is speaking
of the work of the creation it manifestly follows that he excludes
angels, who are creatures, from the creative work. There remains
therefore this sacred conclusion of the whole matter; that God is One,
and that this most perfect Unity is also a most perfect Trinity. For
how otherwise does Moses use the plural number, "In the beginning
ELOHIM _created_."

The cold and wicked cavilling of the Jews therefore is to be
altogether exploded, when they say that Moses used the plural number
for the sake of reverence. For what place is there here for the
exercise of reverence? Especially since that which is an idiom among
us Germans is not common to all languages; namely, that it should be
considered a point of reverence to use the plural number when speaking
of one person.

Although the Jews make so much noise about this term ELOHIM being
applied to angels and to men, be it remembered that it is in the
plural number in this place where it cannot possibly be applied to any
but the one true God, because Moses is treating of the Creation. There
were moreover many other singular nouns which Moses might have used
had he not purposely intended to show to the spiritually minded, that
in the divine nature there is before and independently of all creation
and all creatures, a plurality of persons. He does not indeed say in
plain terms, there is the Father, there is the Son, and there is the
Holy Ghost; and they are the one true God; because that was reserved
for the doctrine of the Gospel. It was enough for him by the use of a
plural noun though afterwards applied to men also, to set forth this
plurality of the divine persons.

Nor ought it to offend us that this same term is afterwards applied to
creatures. For why should not God communicate his name unto us, seeing
that he communicates to us his power, and his office? For us to remit
sins, to retain sins, to quicken to spiritual life, etc., are the
works of the divine Majesty alone; and yet these same works are a sign
to men and they are wrought by the Word which men teach. Thus Paul
said, "That I may save some of them that are my flesh," Rom. 11:14.
And again, "I am become all things to all men, that I may by all means
save some," 1 Cor. 9:22. As therefore these works are truly the works
of God, although they are assigned also unto men and are wrought by
means of men; so the name of God truly represents God though it is
applied also to men.

Arius could not deny that Christ existed before the world was created,
because Christ himself says, "Before Abraham was, I am," John 8:58. It
is written in the Proverbs, 8:22, also, "Before the heavens were, I
am." Arius is obliged therefore to confess that Christ or the Word was
created before all things, and that he afterwards created all things,
and that he was the most perfect of all creatures though he did not
exist from everlasting. But to this fanatical and impious opinion we
ought to oppose that which Moses so briefly expresses by the term "In
the beginning." Nor does Moses place anything before "the beginning"
but God himself; and him he here represents by a plural noun.

Into these absurd opinions do minds fall when they speculate on such
mighty things without the Word. We know not ourselves; as Lucretius
says, "Man knows not the nature of his own soul." We feel that we can
judge, enumerate, distinguish quantities, and, if I may so call them,
spiritual creatures, such as truth and falsehood, and yet we cannot to
this day define what the soul is. How much less then shall we be able
to understand the divine nature! We know not for instance what is the
motion of our will; for it is not a motion of quality or of quantity;
and yet it is some motion. What then can we know of things divine?

It is fanatical therefore to dispute concerning God and the divine
nature without the Word and without some veiling representation. Yet
thus do all heretics; and they think and dispute respecting God with
the same security as they would respecting a hog or a cow. Therefore
they receive a reward worthy their temerity; for by these means they
are dashed on the rocks of every peril. Hence he who would contemplate
such mighty things in safety and without danger must confine himself
with all simplicity within those representations, signs and veils of
the divine Majesty, his word and his works. For it is in his word and
his works that he reveals himself unto us; and such as attain unto the
knowledge of these are like the woman laboring under the issue of
blood, healed by touching these hems of his garment.

Those on the other hand who strive to reach God without these veils
and coverings, attempt to scale heaven without a ladder, that is,
without the Word; and in so doing are overwhelmed by the majesty of
God, which they vainly endeavor to comprehend, and they fall and
perish. And so it befell Arius. He conceived the imagination that
there was some medium between the Creator and the creature; and that
by that medium all things were created. Into this error he necessarily
fell the moment he denied contrary to the Scriptures a plurality of
persons in the divine nature. But as he discussed these things without
the Word of God and depended solely on his own cogitations, he could
not but be thus dashed to pieces.

Thus the monk of the Papists, because he follows not the Word,
imagines such a God to be sitting in heaven as will save any one who
is covered with a cowl and observes a certain strict rule of life.
Such a one also attempts to ascend into heaven by his own cogitations
without God as revealed in his Word, or without the revealed face of
God for his guide. Thus also the Jews had their idols and their
groves. The fall and the destruction of all are alike. They are
precipitated and dashed to pieces; because every one leaving the Word
follows his own imaginations.

If therefore we would walk safely we must embrace those things which
the Word teaches, and which God himself has willed us to know; and all
other things which are not revealed in the Word we must leave. For
what are those things to me, which God did before the world was made,
or how can I comprehend them? This is indulging thoughts upon the
naked Divinity. And these are the thoughts by which the Jews suffer
themselves to be led away from this text; and which thus prevent them
from believing in a plurality of persons in the deity; whereas it is
evident that Moses employs a plural noun.

The papal decree condemned the Anthropomorphists (manlikeners),
because they spoke of God as they would of a man, and attributed to
him eyes, ears, arms, etc. An unjust condemnation truly! For how
otherwise can man talk with man concerning God? If to think thus of
God be heresy; then for a certainty is the salvation of all children,
who can only think and speak thus as children concerning God, at an
end for ever. But to say nothing about children, give me the most
learned doctor in all the world; how otherwise will even he speak and
teach concerning God?

An injury therefore was thereby done to good men; who, though they
believed God to be omnipotent and the only Saviour, yet were condemned
merely because they said God has eyes by which he looks upon the poor
and needy, and ears by which he listens to their prayers. For how
otherwise can this our nature understand the spiritual reality of God.
Moreover the Scriptures use this form of speech. Wherefore such were
undeservedly condemned. They should rather have been lauded for the
simplicity which they studied; which is so requisite in all teaching.
It is absolutely necessary that when God reveals himself unto us, he
should do so under some veil of representation, some shadowing
manifestation, and should say, "Behold under this veil thou shalt
surely discover me." And when we embrace God under this veil or
shadow, when we thus adore him, call upon him, and offer to him our
sacrifices, we are said rightly to offer our sacrifices unto God!

It was thus doubtless that our first parents worshipped God. In the
morning when the sun rose they adored the Creator in the creature; or
to speak more plainly they were by the creature reminded of the
Creator. Their posterity retained the custom, but without the
knowledge; and hence the custom lapsed into idolatry. The cause of
this idolatry was not the sun; for he is a good creature of God; but
the knowledge and the doctrine became by degrees extinct; for Satan
cannot endure true doctrine. Thus when Satan had drawn Eve from the
Word, she fell immediately into sin.

To return then to the Anthropomorphists. I consider that they were
condemned unjustly and without cause. For the prophets represent God
as sitting on a throne. When foolish persons hear this their thoughts
are immediately picturing a golden throne, marvellously decorated,
etc., though they must all the while know that there can be no such
material throne in heaven. Hence Isaiah says "that he saw God sitting
on a throne; and his train filled the temple," Is. 6:1. Whereas God
cannot absolutely or by real vision appear to be thus represented or
seen. But such figures and representations are well-pleasing to the
Holy Spirit; and such works of God are set before us by the means of
which we may apprehend God by our understanding. Such also are those
figures when it is said that "He made the heavens and the earth"; that
he sent his Son; that he speaks by his Son; that he baptizes; that he
remits sins by the Word. He that does not understand these things will
never understand God. But I say no more here; since these things have
been frequently and abundantly discussed by me elsewhere; yet it was
necessary to touch upon them on the present occasion for Moses' sake,
whom the Jews here so severely attack, in the exposition of which we
are proving the plurality of the divine persons in the deity. Now let
us proceed with the text.

III. V. 3. _And God said, Let there be light: and there was light._

Moses has already said that the rude mass of heaven and earth which he
also calls "darkness" and "the deep," was made by the Word; and that
work ought to be considered the work of the "first day." Yet, it is
now for the first time that Moses uses the expression "God said, Let
there be light," etc. A marvelous phraseology this indeed; unknown to
any writer of any other language under heaven, that God by speaking
causes that to exist, which had no existence before. Here therefore
Moses sets before us the medium and instrument which God used in
performing his works, namely the Word.

But we must here carefully mark the distinction in the Hebrew language
between the words AMAR and DABAR. We render each by the terms to say
or to speak. But, in the Hebrew there is this difference: AMAR only
and properly signifies the word uttered. But DABAR means also the
thing or substance uttered. As when the prophets say "This is the Word
of the Lord," they use the term DABAR not AMAR. Even at this day the
new Arians blind the eyes of those unacquainted with the Hebrew
language by saying that the term in question implies, and is, "a thing
created;" and that in this way it is that Christ is called the Word.
Against this impious, and at the same time ignorant, corruption of the
term Word, the reader is duly warned, and exhorted to remember that
Moses here uses the word AMAR which simply and properly signifies the
word uttered; so that the word uttered is something distinct from him
who utters it; as here is also a distinction between the person
speaking and the thing spoken.

Therefore we have before proved from this text a plurality of persons;
so here is also an evident distinction of persons; for it affirms that
it is God the speaker, if I may so express myself, who creates; and
yet he uses no material; but creates the heavens and the earth out of
nothing by the sole word he utters.

Compare here the Gospel of St. John "In the beginning was the Word."
He exactly agrees with Moses. He says that there was no creature
whatever before the world was made. Yet God possessed the Word. And
what is this Word and what does it do? Hear Moses. The light, says he,
as yet was not; but the darkness out of its nothing-state is changed
into that most excellent creature, light. By what? By the Word.
Therefore, "in the beginning" and before every creature is the Word;
and it is so powerful that out of nothing it makes all things. Hence
that irrefragably follows, which John eloquently adds, that the Word
was and is God! And yet, that the Word is a person different from God
the Father; even as the Word, and he who utters the Word, are things
absolutely distinct from each other. But at the same time this
distinction is of the nature that the most perfect oneness, if I may
so speak, of unity remains.

These are lofty mysteries, nor is it safe to go further into them than
the Holy Spirit is pleased to lead us. Wherefore here let us stop;
content with the knowledge that when the unformed heaven and unformed
earth, each enveloped in mist and darkness, had stood forth created
out of nothing by the Word, the light also shone forth out of nothing;
and even out of darkness itself by the Word. The first work of the
Creator Paul speaks of as a marvellous work; "God that commanded the
light to shine out of darkness," etc. The command of God, says he,
made that light. This therefore is enough for us and sufficient to
confirm our faith, that Christ is truly God, who existed with the
Father from all eternity before the world was made; and that by him,
who is the wisdom and word of the Father, the Father made all things.
It is remarkable also that Paul in his passage makes the conversion of
the wicked the work of a new creation, and a work wrought also by the

But here reason impiously busies itself with foolish questions. It
argues, if the Word ever existed, why did not God create the heavens
and the earth before by that Word? And again, Since the heavens and
the earth were first made, when God began to speak, it seems to follow
that the Word then first had existence, when the creatures began to
exist, etc. But these impious cogitations are to be cast from us for
concerning these things we can determine nothing nor think aright. For
beyond that "beginning" of the creation is nothing but naked and
divine essence; naked deity! And since God is incomprehensible that
also is incomprehensible which was before the world; because it is
nothing less than naked God!

We believe it right therefore to speak only of "the beginning,"
because we cannot advance beyond the beginning. But since John and
Moses affirm that the Word was "in the beginning," and before every
creature, it of necessity follows that the Word was ever in the
Creator and in the naked essence of God. Therefore he is the true God;
yet so, that the Father begets and the Son is begotten. For Moses
establishes this difference when he names God, who spoke and the word
which was spoken. And this was enough for Moses to do; for the clearer
explanation of this mystery properly belongs to the New Testament and
to the Son, who is in the bosom of the Father. In the New Testament
therefore we hear the literal names of the sacred persons, the Father,
the Son and the Holy Ghost. These indeed are indicated in certain
psalms, and in the prophets but not so distinctly expressed.

Augustine explains the word somewhat otherwise. For he interprets the
expression "said" in this manner. "Said;" that is, it was so defined
from all eternity by the word of the Father; it was so appointed of
God. Because the Son is the mind, the image and the wisdom of God. But
the true and simple meaning is to be retained. "God said;" that is,
God by the Word made and created all things. This meaning the apostle
also confirms when he says, "By whom also he made the worlds," Heb.
1:2. And again, "All things were made by Him and for Him," Col. 1:16.
And within these limits ought to be confined every thought of the
creation; our duty is to proceed no further; if we do, we fall
headlong into certain darkness and destruction.

Let these facts therefore be sufficient for us in any question
concerning the world and its creation. With respect to the material of
the world that it was made out of nothing; as the light was made out
of that which was not light, so the whole heavens and the whole earth
were made out of nothing; as the Apostle says, "He calleth those
things that are not, as though they were," Rom. 4:17.

With respect to the instrument or medium which God used, it was his
omnipotent word which was with God from the beginning, and as Paul
speaks, "before the foundation of the world," Eph. 1:4. Therefore when
Paul says in Col. 1:16, "All things were made by him," for he uses the
preposition, after the Hebrew manner, for per; the Hebrews thus use
their letter BETH; this and all similar passages are taken from this
verse of Moses, who is here speaking of the Word uttered, by which
anything is commanded or demanded.

This Word was God, and was an omnipotent Word, spoken in the divine
essence. No one heard this Word uttered but God himself; that is, God
the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. While it was uttered
the light was generated; not out of the material of the Word nor out
of the material of the speaker, but out of darkness itself. The Father
spoke within, the work was immediately wrought without, and the light
existed. In the same manner also were all things afterwards created.
These facts, I say, concerning the manner of the creation are amply
sufficient for us.

IV. But here again a well known question is perpetually agitated,
namely, of what kind was that light by which the original unformed
mass of heaven and earth was illumined, seeing that neither the sun,
nor the stars, were then created; and yet the text shows that this
light was real and material. This fact has given occasion to some to
have recourse to an allegory, who would explain the matter thus: "Let
there be light;" that is, the angelic nature. And again, "God divided
the light from the darkness;" that is, he separated the holy angels
from the wicked angels. But this is to trifle with allegories, utterly
out of place and not to interpret Scripture. Moses is here
historically recording facts. He is moreover writing and penning a
record for unlettered men; that they may have the plainest possible
testimonies concerning the great creation. Such absurdities therefore
are not here to be tolerated.

A second question is here also agitated, namely, whether this light
moved itself with a circular motion. I confess that I for my part know
not the truth of the matter. But if any one desires to know what I
consider the nearest to the truth my opinion is, that this light was
movable, so that its motion from east to west, or from its rising to
its setting formed the natural day. Although it is difficult to
describe the kind of light it was, yet I am by no means inclined to
think that we should depart, without cause, from the plain grammar of
the subject; or that we should use any violence by wresting from their
common meaning the plainest terms. For Moses distinctly affirms that
"there was light;" and he reckons this as the "first day" of the

My opinion is therefore that this was true and real light; and that it
revolved with a circular motion as the light of the sun revolves. I
believe however that this light was not so clear and splendent as it
afterwards was, when augmented, ornamented and beautified by the light
of the sun. Even as the sacred Scriptures testify that in the last day
God will make the present light of the sun, now unclean, in comparison
with its future brightness, far more splendid and glorious; as
therefore the present light is as it were a thick and imperfect mass
of light, when compared with that light which shall be, so that
original light was imperfect when compared with the light that now
shines. Such are my sentiments concerning these two questions. Moses
then proceeds to say:

V. 5. _And there was evening and there was morning one day._

We must here first observe that the Jews begin their day differently
from us. With them the day commences from the evening and the setting
sun and terminates on the evening following. We begin our day with the
rising sun. And it is very remarkable that the Jews derive their term
evening, which they call AEREF, from ARAF which signifies "to mingle
or confound." In the same manner from the term AREF they form their
expression AROF, which our countryman renders by Cynomia, "dogfly,"
which may signify "a confused fly." Because in the evening, the
appearances of things are confused and indistinct, and when the light
is removed cannot be clearly discerned.

V. Moses has taught us concerning the first day. We shall see however
that Moses retains this same expression "God said" in the creation of
all the other creatures. "And God said let there be a firmament," etc.
The very repetition of this same expression ought to be most
delightful to us, because as I said, it brings to us a mighty
testimony for the confirmation of our faith; that the Son, in these
eternal things, is very God; and that in the unity of the divinity
there is a plurality of Persons; because the speaker is one Person and
the Word spoken another Person.

In this manner also the Psalmist speaks, "By the Word of Jehovah were
the heavens made," etc., Ps. 33:6. And Solomon implies the force of
this wonderful phrase of Moses, when he writes that the divine wisdom
was as it were the handmaid of the Creation. "I was set up from
everlasting, from the beginning, before the earth was, etc.; when he
established the heavens, I was there; when he set a circle upon the
face of the deep," Prov. 8:23, 27. Here Solomon shows that he fully
understood this doctrine of our religion, so plainly set forth by
Moses; and that he understood it in a manner beyond the knowledge of
the ignorant multitude, who heard these things, and read them, but
understood them not. For had not Solomon fully understood this
mystery, he could not have spoken thus. But he drew all these things
from this verse of Moses, as from a deep and holy fountain. Another
proof of this his divine knowledge is Prov. 30:3, "What is his name,
and what is his Son's name, if thou knowest?"

I believe also that there were similar writings of other holy men,
such as of Enoch, Elijah, etc., in which there existed many
testimonies of the same kind. But as even at the present day, these
things though plainly revealed in the New Testament remain hidden, and
are by many not only not received, but fiercely opposed, so to a much
greater extent did it happen among the Jewish people, while the holy
fathers set these mysteries before the wise in divine things, with the
greatest skill and wisdom.

To us it is great consolation to know that these divine mysteries were
thus shadowed forth by Moses from the beginning of the world; that in
these divine beings there is a plurality of persons and yet a unity of
the divine essence. And if there are some who do not believe, but
fiercely oppose this doctrine, what is that to us? Abraham saw three,
and adored one! And the Holy Spirit says, Gen. 19:24, "Then Jehovah
rained fire from Jehovah out of heaven." Although fanatics understand
not nor regard these words, yet we know that they are the words not of
a drunken man, but of God.

Many such testimonies as these exist throughout the Old Testament,
which that excellent man, Hilary, has diligently collected. If these
testimonies are obscure, and to the wicked and unbelieving seem to be
unfounded, yet to the godly all things which are revealed and handed
down to us in the Holy Scriptures are firmly founded and sufficiently
clear. They know that the Person speaking is one Person and that the
Word spoken is another Person; not in nature but in Person; and is
that Word by which all things were made "in the beginning;" and by
which they are all upheld to this day; as Paul says in his Epistle to
the Hebrews, "Upholding all things by the Word of his power," Heb.

But here we are to be admonished that the words, "Let there be light,"
are the words of God and not of Moses; that is, that they are
realities, facts, works! For God "calleth those things that be not as
though they were;" and God speaks not grammatical words but very and
substantial things. So that what with us is sounding voice, is with
God a substantial thing, a reality! Thus, the sun, the moon, the
heaven, the earth, Peter, Paul, you, and I, are all and each, words of
God! Yea, we are single syllables or single letters as it were of and
in comparison to the whole creation.

We also speak, but we can only speak grammatically, or in letters.
That is we give names to created things, etc. But divine grammar is
quite another thing! When God says, "Shine thou sun," the sun
immediately exists and shines forth. Thus the words of God are things,
not mere words!

Here therefore there has been rightly made a distinction between the
word created and the word uncreated. The word created is a thing, or
fact, or work done, by means of the word uncreated. For what is the
whole creation but the word of God spoken forth or uttered? But the
word uncreated is the divine mind or thought, the internal command of
God, flowing from God, and the same as God, and yet it is a distinct
Person. And thus God reveals himself unto us as the speaker, having
with or in himself, the word increate, by which he created the world
and all things with the utmost facility of operation, namely by merely
speaking! So that there was no more difficulty with God in creating
than with us in speaking. It was in such meditations as these that the
pious fathers Augustine and Hilary found their delight.


I. V. 6. _And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the
waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters._

Moses may here seem to have forgotten himself in that he treats not at
all of two most important themes: the creation and the fall of the
angels, but confines his sacred narrative to the creation of corporeal
things. Though there is no doubt that angels were created, yet not one
word is found in all the Scriptures concerning their creation, their
battle, or their fall; except that which Christ briefly utters, John
8:44, in reference to the devil, that he "abode not in the truth;"
except also that woful account of the Serpent, which the sacred
historian hereafter gives us in the third chapter of Genesis. It is
wonderful therefore that Moses is wholly silent on things of such
great interest.

Hence it is that men having nothing certain recorded upon the subject,
naturally fell into various fictions and fabrications, that there were
nine legions of angels, and that so vast was their multitude that they
were nine whole days falling from heaven. Others have indulged
imaginations concerning the mighty battle between these superior
beings, in what manner the good resisted the evil angels. My belief is
that these ideas of the particulars of this battle were taken from the
fight which exists in the church, where godly ministers are ever
contending against evil and fanatical teachers, and that on this
ground they have formed their ideas of the battle of the good angels
against the evil ones who wished to usurp Deity. But so it ever is.
Where no plain testimonies exist rash men consider themselves at
liberty to imagine and invent what they please.

In the same manner men form their various opinions concerning the
danger and the fear of angels and of the evils they work, all which
opinions are founded on Is. 14:12, 13, where Lucifer is represented as
having said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my
throne above the stars of God." But the prophet is there predicting
the greatness of the pride of the King of the Babylonians. Bernard
again has the idea that Lucifer foresaw in God that his purpose was to
exalt man above the nature of angels, that his proud spirit envied man
this felicity and that he fell in consequence. But let the Christian
man take these things at their own value and at no more. For myself I
would by no means urge any one to give his assent to any such
opinions. The things that are certain are, that the angels fell, and
that the devil from having been an angel of light was made an angel of
darkness. Perhaps there was also a conflict between the good angels
and the evil.

As Moses however was writing to a new and uninformed people his object
was to write those things only which were useful and necessary to be
known. The nature of angels therefore and other kindred subjects which
were not necessary to be known he passed by. Wherefore nothing on the
whole of this obscure subject, beyond what Moses has plainly recorded,
ought to be expected from me. The more especially so, as the New
Testament itself treats very sparingly of this deep theme. It says
nothing more concerning the angels than that they were condemned and
that they are still held as it were in prison and in chains until the
judgment of the last day. Let it suffice us therefore to know that
there are good angels and bad angels, but that God created them all
alike good. Whence it follows of necessity, that the evil angels fell
and stood not in the truth. But how they fell and stood not in the
truth is unknown. It is nevertheless probable that they fell by pride;
because they despised the Word or Son of God, and wished to exalt
themselves before him. This is all I have to say. Now let us return to

II. We have heard that the work of the First Day was the rude unformed
"heavens and earth," both of which God illumined with a certain impure
and imperfect light. We now come to the work of the second day, where
we shall see in what manner God produced out of this original rough
undigested mist or nebulosity, which he called "heavens," that
glorious and beauteous "heaven" which now is, and as it now is; if you
except the stars and the greater luminaries. The Hebrews very
appropriately derive the term SCHAMAIM the name of the heavens from
the word MAIM, which signifies "waters." For the letter SCHIN is often
used in composition for a relative, so that SCHAMAIM signifies
"watery," or "that which has a watery nature." This indeed appears so
from the color of the "heavens." And experience teaches that the air
is humid by nature. Philosophers also say that if there were no sun
the air would be a perpetual humidity. But they assert that the air is
both humid and warm, but that it is humid from its own nature, because
the heaven was made out of waters, and that therefore it is, that it
rains and contains a fructifying moisture; but because the light and
heat of the sun are added to it, the humid nature of the air is so
tempered that it is also warm.

This thick and rude mass of mist or nebulosity, created out of nothing
on the first day, God grasps by his Word and commands it to extend
itself into the form and with the motion of a sphere. For in the
Hebrew the word RAKIA signifies "a something extended;" from the verb
RAKA, which means "to unfold or expand." And the heaven was formed by
an extension of that original rude body of mist, just as the bladder
of a hog is extended into a circular form when it is inflated. I use
thus a rustic similitude that the sacred matter may be the more
plainly understood.

When therefore Job 37:18 says "that the heavens are strengthened with
iron," "that the sky is strong as a molten mirror," his mind is not
dealing with the material but with the Word of God, which can make a
thing the softest by nature the hardest and the firmest. For what is
softer than water? What is thinner or more subtile than air? Yet these
things, which were the most subtile and the softest by nature, from
being created by the Word preserve their form and motion with the
greatest perfection and the greatest firmness. Whereas, had the heaven
been formed of adamant or of any material infinitely harder still, it
would by its rapid, long and continuous motion, have soon been broken
in pieces or melted. In the same manner the sun, by his rapid motion,
would melt in one day even if formed of the hardest material, were it
not for the Word of God by which it was created. For motion is of
itself very creative of heat. Hence Aristotle asserts that the lead of
the arrow is sometimes melted by the velocity of its motion.

These facts of nature therefore are miracles of God, in which the
omnipotence of his Word is clearly discerned, exhibiting the wonder
that the heaven, though softer and more subtile than water, and
performing continuously the most rapid revolution, and that too with
so vast a variety of bodies and their motions, should have existed and
revolved so many thousands of years uninjured and unweakened! It was
this that caused Job to say, "that the heavens were molten, as it
were, of brass," Job 37:18; that they are by nature the softest of
substances. How great the subtility of the air is in which we live, we
ourselves know perfectly well; for it is not only not tangible, but
not discernible. And the heaven, or ether, is still more subtile and
thinner than the air or atmosphere. For its blue or sea-color or
water-color appearance is not a proof of its density, but rather of
its distance and its thinness; to which its rarified state, if you
compare the thicker substances of the clouds, the latter will appear
in comparison, like the smoke of wet wood when first ignited. It is to
this extreme subtility, yet unaltered durability, that Job alludes as
above mentioned. So philosophers have among them this celebrated
maxim, "That which is humid is limited by no boundary of its own."

Wherefore the heaven which cannot consist by any boundary of its own,
being aqueous, consists by the Word of God; as it is taught in the
present divine record of Moses, "Let there be a firmament!" Gen. 1:6.
Hence philosophers who were more diligent in their inquiries formed
their conclusion, and that by no means a light one for nature to form,
that all things were ruled and governed, not by chance nor at random,
but by a divine providence; seeing that the motions of the heavens and
of the superior bodies are so certain and so peculiar to themselves.
Who indeed could possibly say that all these things proceeded by
chance, or by their own mere undirected nature, when even the
workmanship of men proceeds not from chance, but from skillful art and
certain design, such as pillars formed round, triangular, hexagonal,

All these things therefore are the works of the divine Majesty! By him
the sun holds his course so accurately and with so fixed a law, that
he deviates not a hair's breadth from his all-certain path in any one
part of heaven. This course he holds in the most subtile ether,
supported by no substances or bodies whatsoever, but is borne along as
a leaf in the air. Though this comparison is neither strictly correct
nor appropriate, because the motion of a leaf is irregular and
uncertain; but the course of the sun is ever certain, and that too in
an ether far more subtile than this atmosphere in which we move and

This marvelous extension of the original rule and dense nebulosity or
cloud or mist is here called by Moses "a firmament," in which the sun
with all the planets have their motion round the earth, in that most
subtile material. But who is it that gives such firmness to this most
volatile and fluctuating substance? Most certainly it is not nature
that gives it, which in far less important things than these can exert
no such power. It follows therefore that it is the work of him, who
"in the beginning" said unto the heavens and unto this volatile
substance, "Let there be a firmament," or "Be thou a firmament," and
who establishes and preserves all these things by his omnipotent
power, put forth through his Word. This Word makes the air with all
its thinness and lightness to be harder and firmer than adamant, and
to preserve its own boundary; and this Word could on the contrary make
adamant to be softer than water, in order that from such works as
these we might know what kind of a God our God is; namely, the God
omnipotent, who made out of the rude mass of unformed heavens the
present all-beauteous, all-glorious heaven; and who did all these
things according to his will as well as according to his power.

But I have said that with the Hebrews the "firmament" derives its name
from a verb in their language signifying "to extend." It is to this
signification of the Hebrew verb that David beautifully alludes, in
his similitude of military hide-coverings and tents which he uses in
Ps. 104:2, when he says of God "Who stretcheth out the heavens like a
curtain." For as the rolled-up hide-covering of the military tent is
unrolled and then stretched out as a canopy to the stakes which are
fixed in the earth, so Thou, O God, says David, unrolledst as it were
and stretchedst out the first formed, but as yet unformed, rude
heaven, into the present glorious "firmament," where Thou sittest
invisibly as on a sphere over the whole creation, in the midst of all
things and yet out of and above all things.

It is a circumstance naturally exciting our particular wonder that
Moses evidently makes three distinct parts or divisions of this
portion of the creation. He describes "a firmament in the midst of the
waters," which "divides the waters from the waters." For myself I am
inclined to think that the firmament here mentioned is the highest
body of all; and that the waters, not those "above" the firmament, but
those which hang and fly about "under" the firmament, are the clouds,
which we behold with our natural eyes; so that by the waters which are
"divided from the waters," we may understand the clouds which are
divided from our waters which are in the earth. Moses however speaks
in the plainest possible terms, both of waters "above" and of waters
"under" the firmament. Wherefore I here hold my own mind and judgment
in captivity and bow to the Word, although I cannot comprehend it.

But a question here arises, what those waters are and how those bodies
of water which are "above" the firmament are distinguished from those
which are "under" the firmament. The division and distinction here
made by philosophers is well known. They make the elements to be four;
and they distinguish and place them according to their qualities. They
assign the lowest place to the earth; a second place to the water; a
third to the air; and the last and highest place to the fire. Other
philosophers add to these four elements ether as a fifth essence.
After this division and number of the elements, there are numerated
seven spheres or orbs of the planets, and an eighth sphere of the
fixed stars. And on these subjects it is agreed among all philosophers
that there are four spheres of generating and corruptible principles;
and also eight others of non-generating and incorruptible principles.

And Aristotle disputes concerning the nature of the heaven; that it is
not composed of the elements, but has its own peculiar nature, because
if it were composed of the elements it would be corruptible, in that
these substances would mingle together and mutually produce and suffer
corruption. Therefore he will not attribute to heaven and the heavenly
bodies the primary qualities, _primas qualitates_, that is, the
attributes of the elements, and says that they are simply creatures
possessing a co-eternal light, and qualities and attributes peculiarly
their own, and created with them.

Now these things, although they are not certain, yet since they
contain principles of a most beautiful theory, gathered from a course
of reasoning approaching the truth, are useful for instruction, and it
would be barbarous if one should determine to neglect or despise them,
since in some respects they harmonize with experience. For we
experience it to be the truth that fire by its very nature travels
beyond itself, as is seen in the phenomena of the lightning and the
fiery meteors in the air. By these principles, learned from
experience, they are led to give fire the highest place, next to it
the air, after it water comes third, and last the earth in the lowest
place, since in weight it surpasses all the others.

These things have their place and use as rudiments or primary
principles, which if any one contend that they are not universally
true, yet they are true in general and serve to the end that we may
learn and hand down to others the true theories. For though fire can
be struck from flint, yet it cannot therefore be denied that in the
highest regions there is fire. Therefore theology gives these
theorists this rule, which philosophy does not know sufficiently, that
although God ordained and created all these things by his Word, yet he
is not therefore bound to these rules so that he can not change them
according to his good pleasure. For we see that neither grammar nor
the other sciences are so perfectly set forth in rules that there are
no exceptions; thus the laws of public and secular affairs step in and
temper all things with reason. How much more can this be done in
divine things, so that, although we indeed experience that the four
elements are ordained and disposed by God, yet they can, contrary to
this order, also have and maintain fire in the middle of the ocean,
just as we saw that it was hidden in flint.

Likewise the mathematicians have concluded that there were a definite
number of spheres, not that it is necessary to be so, but because one
can not teach anything definitely about such things unless one
distinguishes the spheres thus, on account of the variety of their
motions, about which one can teach nothing without such imagination,
if I may so name it. For teachers and professors of these sciences or
theories say: We give examples, not because they are in every detail
correct, but in order that no one may teach differently concerning
those subjects. Therefore it would be the height of folly to despise
and ridicule such things as some do, because it is not so sure that it
could not be different, for they serve to the end that good arts and
sciences may be taught, and that is sufficient.

The philosophers in general teach such things, to which the more
modern theologians agree and add to these eight spheres two more,--the
crystalline, glacial or aqueous heaven, and then the empyreal or fiery
heaven. The Greeks however have discussed these themes much more
elegantly and prudently than our scholars. For Ambrose and Augustine
have had very childish thoughts. Therefore I praise Jerome because he
simply passed over them in silence.

There are some who hold that the crystalline heaven is watery, because
they think it is the waters of which Moses here speaks, and there the
firmament or eighth sphere is added so that they be not consumed by
their rapid and constant motion. But these are puerile thoughts, and I
will rather confess that I do not understand Moses in this passage
than that I should approve such illiterate thoughts.

The seventh heaven they call empyreal; not because it is fiery or
burning, but from the light which is lucid and splendid. This heaven
in the home of God and of the blessed, because it was filled
immediately after creation with angels, and Lucifer, as they affirm,
fell from this heaven. These are about all the ideas that theologians
have added to the opinions of philosophers.

However, our scientists, who have studied astronomy, teach that there
are still more spheres; namely, twelve, and three motions in the eight
spheres; as, the _motum raptum_, _motum proprium_, _motum
trepidationis_, a rending motion, a characteristic motion, and a
trembling motion. For of such things indeed one cannot speak, unless
he give each motion its own sphere.

Averrois had other thoughts, more absurd and far more in agreeable to
reason. For he advocated that each sphere was an intellect, or an
intelligent nature. The occasion or cause of these foolish thoughts
was that he saw the infallibly perfect and most regular motion of the
heavenly bodies. Therefore he thought these spheres were intelligent
substances, each setting itself in motion in a sure and continuous
manner. But from this follows the greatest and worst ignorance of God;
wherefore we repudiate the thoughts of Averrois. But the others, which
we have mentioned, we approve in so far as they are useful to be
taught. For indeed this knowledge of the motion of the heavenly bodies
is most worthy of all praise, however little that knowledge may be.

Moses however proceeds with his narrative of the creation in all
simplicity and plainness, as they say; making here three divisions:
waters "above" the firmament, waters "under" the firmament, and "the
firmament" in the middle. In the term heaven, Moses comprehends all
that body which philosophers represent by their eight spheres, by fire
and by air. For the sacred historian makes no mention of the flowing
of the waters until the third day. And it is manifest that the air in
which we live is called in the holy Scriptures the heaven; because the
Scriptures speak of the "fowls of heaven," Job 28:21; Ps. 8:8. It also
speaks of the heavens being shut when it does not rain, 1 Kings 8:35.
And again it speaks of the heavens giving their dew, Zech. 8:12; all
these things take place in the air, not in the spheres of the moon or
of the other planets. This distinction of the spheres therefore is not
Mosaic nor scriptural but is an invention of men as an aid to
instruction on these astronomical subjects; and which ought not to be
despised as such an assistance.

And although they say that the elements are corruptible, yet I doubt
it, for I see indeed that they remain. And although a part at times is
changed, yet it follows that the whole will be changed; but these
changes of the elements are only in part. Thus the air remains
unchanged in which the birds live and fly; also the earth upon which
the trees and other things grow, though certain parts of the same are

Now Aristotle makes the cause of all these things the first mover,
_primum motorem_. Averrois however says the cause of these motions are
_"formae assistentes a foris;"_ that is, intelligent natures which
move from without. Following Moses we say that all these things are
brought forth and governed simply by the Word of God. He spake and it
was done. He never commanded that the angels should govern these
bodies; just as we ourselves are not governed by the angels, although
we are guarded and kept by the angels.

Thus also that the motion of the planets retrogrades is the work of
God created by his Word, which work belongs to God himself, which is
greater and higher than can be attributed to angels, but God, who thus
distinguished these things, governs and preserves them. And it is the
same God who commanded the sun to start in its course but the
firmament to stand still, said also to the planets and the stars, thou
shaft move so and so. The Word does even this; namely, it makes the
most uncertain motion the most certain, even though these heavenly
material bodies move in the fluctuating atmosphere, and not in any
place or along any material line. For as a fish in the middle of the
sea, a bird in the open heavens, so the stars move in their appointed
course, but in a motion most secure and very wonderful indeed. Thus
also this is clearly the cause why the Elbe river here at Wittenberg
and in this district has its fixed and continuous course and dare not
become weary. All such works are the works of the Word, which Moses
here honors and praises: "He said," etc.

But we Christians ought to meditate and think on these things and
their causes differently from philosophers. Although there are some
things which are beyond our comprehension, as for instance these
waters that are "above" the firmament, all such things are rather to
be believed with a confession of our ignorance than profanely denied,
or arrogantly interpreted according to our shallow comprehension. It
behooves us ever to adhere to the phraseology of the holy Scriptures,
and to stand by the very words of the Holy Spirit, whom it pleased in
this sacred narrative by his servant Moses, so to arrange the
different parts of the great work of creation, as to place in the
midst "the firmament;" formed out of the original mass of the unshapen
heaven and earth, and stretched out and expanded by the Word; and then
to represent some waters as being "above" that firmament and other
waters "under" that firmament, both waters being also formed out of
the same original rude undigested matter. And the whole of this part
of the creation is called by the Holy Spirit the heaven; together also
with its seven spheres and the whole region of the air; in which are
meteors and signs of fire and in which the wandering fowls make their

Therefore these common principles we will not oppose nor deny, when
they say everything by nature sinks under itself, and everything light
rises above itself, although we also see that dense heavy vapors arise
but by reason of the influence and motion of heat. We say also that
all these things were thus created and maintained by the Word, and
they can also by virtue of the power in the same Word be changed yet
today; as all nature will finally be altogether transformed. Thus also
it is contrary to the rule given that waters should be above the
heaven or firmament, and yet the text affirms it.

To return therefore unto the principal matter before us; when any
inquiry is instituted as to the nature of these waters, it cannot be
denied that Moses here affirms that waters are "above" the heaven; but
of what kind or nature these waters are, I freely confess for myself
that I know not; for the Scriptures make no other mention of them than
in this verse, and in the Song of the three children, in the
Apocrypha, Dan. 3:61; and I can attempt to declare nothing certain on
these and similar subjects. Hence I can say nothing whatever as known
and understood concerning the heaven where the angels are and where
God dwells with the blessed; nor concerning other kindred things,
which shall be revealed unto us in the last day, when we shall have
been clothed with another body.

But I add, for the sake of those who do not understand this, that in
the Scriptures the word heaven often signifies what we call the
horizon. Hence the whole firmament is called the heaven of heavens, in
which are gathered the heaven of all human beings; that is, the
horizon. In this respect we have a different heaven here in Germany
than the people in France or Italy. But this name helps nothing at all
in the explanation of our text. Therefore the greater number of
theologians interpret here waters, as also indicated above, the
glacial heaven, the cold heaven, which is located where it is that it
may moisten and refresh the lower sphere in their great and swift
motion, lest they be consumed by their excessive heat. But whether
they have thus concluded correctly, I will leave unanswered.

I freely confess that I do not know what kind of waters these are. For
the old teachers of the church did not specially worry about this, as
we see Augustine condemned all astrology. Although it contains much
superstition, yet it should not be entirely despised, for it is wholly
given up to the observation and consideration of divine themes, a zeal
and diligence most worthy of human beings. Therefore we find that many
most highly talented and excellent persons have exercised themselves
in astrology and obtained pleasure from it.

Sufficient has been said on this subject to show that on the second
day the heaven was separated and located so that it stood in the
middle between the waters.

III. But here another question presents itself. To the works of all
the other days there is added the divine sentence of approbation, "And
God saw that it was good." How is it then that the same sentence is
not added to the second day's work, when the greatest and most
beautiful part of the whole creation was made? To this question it may
be replied, that this same divine sentence is added at the end of the
creation of all things on the sixth day and more fully expressed thus,
"And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very
good." And these words apply to the heaven also.

Lyra is inclined to think with Rabbi Solomon, that as this divine
expression, "And God saw that it was good," is uttered twice during
the third day's work, one of the divine sentences refers to the second
day's work; which was perfected on the third day, when the waters
which are "under" the heaven were more distinctly divided from the
waters which were "above" the heaven. But it is by far the safest way
not to be too curious and inquiring on these subjects; because they
exceed our human capacity.

Others speculate here and give reasons they understand not, that the
second number is of an evil omen, because it is the first number that
departs from the unity of God, but God was displeased with this
digression and approved of the unity, and therefore he did not add the
clause "it was good" on the second day. Lyra is however right in
calling this a misleading and dangerous explanation. For in this
manner all the numbers depart from the Unity.

Therefore it is far the safest not to be too curious and inquiring in
these subjects, because they are placed above our human capacity. For
how can we understand that order which God himself establishes and
approves. Yes, reason must here be put to shame, for what is order in
the eyes of God we judge to be the confusion of order. Thus the stars
seem to us to be arranged thoughtlessly in wild disorder in that the
bright ones are scattered among those more obscure, and the lesser
among the greater. Who would judge this to be order? And yet it is the
most perfect harmony, so constituted by the all-wise mind itself. In
like manner we judge of other matters. It seems confusing that our
Elbe and all rivers flow to the sea in an irregular winding course.
Such disorder there seems to be also among trees, yes, between man and
wife, where it appears there is no order. But all this only proves
that God is a God of order and that his judgment as to order is quite
different than ours.

We therefore cease to follow more curiously the question why God added
twice to the third day, "And God saw," etc., and omitted it on the
second day. Nor will we conclude rashly whether the work of the second
day was finished in the third day or not. Philosophers have handed
down the rudiments of the arts and of the science of astronomy, and in
doing so they divided the heaven into various spheres. We have a much
simpler theory or science, in that we at once make God the immediate
Creator of all things by his Word, _Dixit_, "And God said."

For how can we understand that order which God approves as such? Nay,
our natural reason must here of necessity be confounded; for that
which is order with God is in our judgment confusion. Hence the stars
appear to us to be in a state of wild disorder; the bright being
mingled with the more obscure, and the lesser with the greater. Who
would judge this to be order? And yet it is consummate harmony; and so
constituted by the all-wise Mind. And so we judge of other things. Our
river Elbe seems a confusion; as do all other rivers also; because
their streams empty themselves into the sea by winding courses. In the
same manner trees seem to present a confusion. Nor do males and
females in the world and their unions and combinations appear to be a
state of order. All here also as to the appearance of things is
disorder and confusion. All these things therefore unitedly prove that
God possesses an order, and judges of it, differently from ourselves.

Cease we therefore to penetrate into these things with too much
curiosity, why it is that God repeats the divine sentence in question
twice during the work of the third day and omits it altogether in the
work of the second day? Nor determine we rashly whether the work of
the second day was finished on the third day or not. Philosophers laid
down the rudiments of the arts and of the science of astronomy; and in
so doing they divided the heaven into its various spheres. But we
adopt a simpler and more true method of procedure and judgment; for we
at once make God the immediate Creator of all things by his Word, "And
God said."


I. V. 9a. _And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered
together unto one place._

In the foregoing I observed that we do not understand the order of the
works of God. Had he therefore asked us our opinion here we should
have advised him to use such an order as to add the sentence now in
question to the work of the second day. But God will ever be master of
his own order and the ruler of the world. Wherefore we ought not to be
over curious here. The text plainly declares that God commanded the
waters "under the heavens to be gathered together unto one place." It
does not say as before, V. 7, "under the firmament," where it is said,
and God divided the waters which were "under the firmament" from the
waters which were "above the firmament."

The heavens therefore, according to the phraseology and definition of
the Scriptures, are the whole of the higher region and its machinery,
together with the entire body of the air and all its spheres. The
Hebrew name is derived from the material of which it is composed;
namely, from that confused body of water, by the extension or
expansion or multiplication of which it was formed. For that first
body of unformed water was not so extensive in itself, but was so
expanded or spread out by the Word. Just as Christ, according to the
record of the Gospel, so multiplied a few loaves by his blessing as to
make them suffice for a great multitude of men.

What therefore we philosophically call the air, with all its spheres,
Moses here calls the heavens.

But by waters he means the waters of our seas and rivers, which were
also formed out of that original unformed mass of water; or out of the
dregs or lees of it, as it were, after the heavens had been formed or
expanded out of it by the Word. I believe however that the nature and
power of our water are far inferior to those of the heavenly waters.
For our waters are, as I have said, the dregs, as it were, of the
higher waters. So that they may be said to have been gathered together
not only as to their place or position, but as to their body or
substance, because these latter waters are heavier than those of the
air or heaven. For we can breathe in the air, but we cannot breathe in
the water.

And when Moses says that these waters were "gathered together unto one
place" collectively, he is rather to be understood as speaking in a
plural or distributive sense. As if he had said, that they were
gathered unto various places; and not that the whole body of the
waters was gathered unto one place, as one ocean, but that they were
distributed into various seas and rivers; some higher up, and some
lower down, some greater, and some less, etc.

V. 9b. _And let the dry (land) appear._

These words claim particular attention, because Moses had just before
said, that the earth was TOHU and BOHU; that is unformed, rude and
uncultivated, mixed with waters and washed by the waters on every
side. Here therefore Moses also means that this original mass of earth
was sunk under the waters and covered by them. Otherwise, why should
he represent God as saying "And let the dry land appear," if it had
not been surrounded by the abyss of water and almost covered with
these original nebulous mists or waters? For we have here a
confirmation of that which I have repeatedly set forth; that the
world, at its first formation, was nothing but a rude chaotic mass of
water and earth; and now on the third day the earth is brought out and
made to appear. As therefore at first the light was brought in upon
the waters; so now, the beauty of that light is made to shine upon the
earth. For both these qualities were necessary to render the earth
habitable; that it should be "dry" and that it should be in the light
or illuminated.

II. Moses now calls the earth "dry" on account of the removal of the
original waters from it. Thus we behold the waters of the ocean rage
and boil as if they would swallow up the whole earth. For the ocean
stands higher than the earth. But it cannot pass its appointed bounds,
for this spot of dry land circumscribes the earth of the first
creation; and even opposes an insuperable barrier to original
ocean-waters. Hence Job, 38th chapter, and the 104th Psalm bear
witness that, although the sea is higher than the earth and is limited
by no boundaries of its own, yet it cannot pass its boundaries
appointed of God. For the earth, being the center of the world, would
naturally be submerged and covered with the sea. But God keeps back
the sea by his Word and thus makes the plane of the earth stand forth
out of the waters, as far as is necessary for the habitation and life
of man.

Hence it is by the power of God that the waters are prevented from
rushing in upon us. God therefore performs for us to this day and will
do so to the end of the world, the same miracle which he wrought for
the children of Israel in the Red Sea, Ex. 14:21-22. But he made a
special manifestation of his power by working the mighty miracle on
that occasion, to the intent that he might bind that people, who were
few in number, the more devotedly to his worship. And what else is
this our life upon earth, but a passage through the Red Sea, where the
high and threatening walls of water stand up on each side of us? For
it is most certainly true that the sea is much higher than the earth.
God therefore to this day commands the waters to hang suspended and
holds them up by his Word that they may not break in upon us, as they
burst in upon the world at the deluge. Sometimes however signs of
God's power are still manifested, whole islands perish under the
waters, whereby God shows that the mighty water is still in his hands,
and that it is with Him either to hold it fast or to let it rush in
upon the wicked and the ungrateful.

Philosophers have their disputes also concerning the center of the
world and the circumfluent water. Indeed it is wonderful that they go
so far as to determine the earth to be the center of the whole
creation. And it is from this argument, that they conclude that the
earth cannot fall; because it is supported from within by the other
spheres surrounding it on every side. Hence according to these
philosophers the heaven and all other spheres rest upon this center,
by which support they themselves also derive their durability. It is
well becoming us to know these arguments. But these philosophers know
not that the whole of this stability rests on the power of the Word of
God. Although therefore the water of the mighty ocean is higher than
the earth, yet it cannot pass its appointed bounds nor cover the
earth. But we live and breathe as the Children of Israel existed in
the midst of the Red Sea.

V. 10. _And God saw that it was good._

Moses here adds this divine commendation although nothing was wrought
beside the division of the waters and the bringing out of waters a
small particle of the earth. Now above, at the most beautiful part of
God's creation, this short divine commendatory sentence was not added.
Perhaps it was omitted as an intimation from God that he is more
concerned about our habitation than about his own; and that he might
by such intimation animate us to higher feelings of gratitude and
praise. For we were not destined to exist in the air or in the heaven,
but on the earth where we were appointed to support our life by meat
and drink.

Therefore after God adorned the roof of man's habitation, namely, the
heaven, and added the light, he now spreads its floor and makes the
earth suitable for the dwelling service of men. This part of his work,
God twice declares to be "good" on our account, by which he would
intimate that we men form so great a part of his care, that he is
desirous to assure us by such a twofold approbation of this portion of
his creation-work wrought with so much care that he would ever hold it
under his peculiar protection; that he would grant it his perpetual
presence, and would prevent our great enemy and our most certain
death, the mighty water, from rushing in upon us. Beautifully
therefore did God form in "the beginning" the foundation and roof of
this house. Now let us see how he furnished and garnished it.

III. V. 11. _And God said, Let the earth put forth grass, herbs
yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit after its kind, etc._

God, as we have seen, has now constructed the first and the principal
parts of man's house. Its roof, the heaven, is most beautiful, but it
is not yet fully adorned. Its foundation is the earth. Its walls are
the mighty waters on every side. God next makes provision for our
food. He commands the earth to bring forth herbs and trees to bear
fruit of every kind. Here you may again see why the earth was before
called TOHU and BOHU; because it was as yet not only dark, but
altogether barren of fruit.

But mark what kind of food God prepares for us; namely, herbs and
fruits of trees. I believe therefore that our bodies would have been
much stronger and healthier if this surfeiting and especially the
eating of flesh of all kinds since the flood had not been introduced.
For although the earth after the sin of Adam was cursed, and because
still more corrupt after the flood, yet our food of herbs would have
been much more refining, thin and pure, had we still lived on them,
than our gross feeding on flesh is now. It is quite evident that in
the beginning of the world the food of man was herbs, and it is
equally evident that the herbs were created for the very end that they
might be food for man.

That the earth produces grain, trees and herbs of every kind is the
work of this day. Now indeed, all things spring forth from the seed of
their kind. But the original creation was wrought without any seed, by
the simple power of the Word. Indeed that seeds now put forth their
plants is still the effect of the work of the original creation by the
Word, and it is a work full of wonder and admiration. For it is a
singular act of God's power that the grain, falling on the earth,
springs forth in its time and brings forth fruit after its kind. And
that like plants should be put forth from like seeds in an unceasing
and unchanging order, is sure proof that it is not the consequence of
a chance creation, but the especial operation of divine providence.
Hence from wheat grows nothing but wheat; from barley nothing but
barley; from the bean nothing but beans; for the same continuous and
unaltered nature, order and condition of each plant are constantly

Philosophy knows nothing of the cause of all this and attributes the
whole to nature. We however well understand that nature was so created
at the first by the power of the Word, that the seeds and forms of all
plants might be exactly and perfectly preserved. Wherefore not only
are the first-day waters of heaven multiplied, as there is need; but
the first seeds are also multiplied, as God sees fit, and they all
preserve their original form and nature with the utmost perfection.

Here again a question is frequently raised as to the time or season of
the year, in which the world was created; whether the creation was
wrought in the spring or autumn. And although the opinions of men
differ on this point, yet each one has his own reasons and
conjectures. Those who prefer making autumn the season of creation,
consider that they prove their judgment to be correct from the fact
that the trees when first created produced their fruit. For Adam and
Eve ate of their fruit. They prove their opinion moreover to be the
right one, as they think, by the argument that the works of God are
perfect! Others will have it, that the spring was the time of the
creation, because the spring is the most beautiful season of the year
and is, as it were, the infancy and childhood of nature. Hence it is
that the ancient poet Ovid describes the spring as being the
originating cradle-time of the world.

Neither party however has sufficient ground for concluding their
arguments to be exclusively right; for the sacred text supports both
opinions, because it declares, that the earth "brought or budded
forth," which certainly is not the time of autumn, but of spring. It
also declares that fruits then existed; which it is equally certain is
not the time of spring. Wherefore, my opinion is that such was the
miracle wrought of God at the first creation of the world that all
these things existed at the one time; the earth budded forth, the
trees blossomed, and the fruits, in their perfection, immediately and
suddenly followed; and then the miracle ceased; and nature gradually
fell into her regular order. Thus, all these herbs and trees are
propagated by means of their seeds in the same kinds and forms as
those in which they were first created. Hence men reason wrongly, when
they argue from the natural to the supernatural effect. For the whole
is to be attributed to the Creator and to his first creation-work, in
which he at the same time perfected the infant buddings of spring and
the mature fruits of autumn, as far as the herbs and the fruits of the
trees were concerned.

Moreover this state of things at the creation induced Hilary and
others to conclude that the world stood forth suddenly at the Word of
God in all its full perfection; and that God did not employ six whole
natural days in the work of creation. For the text compels us to
confess that the trees together with their fruits existed on the same
day Adam was created. But although all this was indeed wrought of God
very much more quickly than it is now for this same work of God in our
age generally occupies six months of time, yet the text does not use
the verb "to fructify" only but also the verb "to germinate."

With reference therefore to this question, concerning the time of the
creation, it is most probable that the spring was the season in which
the world was first created. Hence the Jews begin their year at this
season, making the first month of spring the first of their year, that
being the time of the year when the earth begins to open its bosom and
all things in nature bud forth.

Concerning this part of the creation another question is also raised
as to the time when the unfruitful or barren trees and herbs were
created. For myself I would not attempt to settle anything as to this
point, but I will offer my opinion. I believe that all trees were in
the beginning good and fruitful; and that the beasts of the field and
Adam had as it were one and the same table; and that they all fed on
wheat, pulse and the other nobler fruits; for there was then the
greatest possible abundance of all these creatures.

After the sin of Adam however God said for the first time to the earth
"that it should bring forth thorns and briars." Wherefore there can be
no doubt that we have so many trees and herbs which are of no use
whatever for food as the divine punishment of that first sin of Adam.
Hence it is that many have considered the whole original state of
earth paradise, on account of the blessing and the abundance which
attended the first creation. Those who held this opinion affirmed that
the expulsion of Adam from Paradise was his being deprived of this
happy state of the earth and placed among thorns, where frequently
after the greatest labor scarcely any benefit is derived. On this
matter however we shall speak hereafter. But with respect to the
present question, I am quite inclined to think that all the trees were
fruitful when first created.

The curious reasoning of the men of our day is detestable; when they
inquire in their arguments, why it was that God adorned the earth with
fruits on the third day before he had garnished the heaven with stars?
They affirm that such a part of the creation-work belonged rather to
the work of the sixth day; and that it would have been more
appropriate as the heaven was first expanded before the earth was
brought forth, had the heaven been adorned before the earth. For they
say that the adorning of the earth belonged more properly to the sixth
day. Lyra would make here the subtle distinction that this was not the
ornament of the earth but the form of it. However I doubt whether any
such distinction can be admitted, as satisfactory. My opinion is that,
as I have before said, the order adopted by God in all these things is
not to be submitted to the exercise of any judgment of ours. Indeed
was not the heaven adorned with that light, which was created on the
first day? That light was assuredly the most beautiful ornament of the
whole creation.

In this sacred matter I therefore much prefer that we consider the
divine care and goodness exercised in our especial behalf, in that God
prepared a habitation so beautiful for the man, whom he was about to
create, before he created him, in order that when created he might
find a habitation already prepared and furnished for him, into which
thus ready and garnished God led him when created, and commanded him
to enjoy all the fruits and provisions of his ample abode. Thus on the
third day were prepared the food and the store-room. On the fourth day
the sun and the moon were given for the service of man. On the fifth
day "dominion" was committed to him over the fishes and the birds. On
the sixth day the same "dominion" was intrusted to him over all the
beasts, that he might use all the rich blessings of these creatures
freely, according to his necessities; and as a return God only
required that man should acknowledge the goodness of his Creator and
live in his fear and worship. This peculiar care of God over us and
for us even before we were created, may be contemplated rightly and
with great benefit to our souls, but all conjectures, reasonings and
arguments upon the great subject of the creation are uncertain and

The same care for us is manifest in his spiritual gifts. For long
before we are converted to faith Christ, our Redeemer, rose and
ascended above, and is now in the house of his Father preparing
mansions for us; that when we arrive there we may find heaven
furnished with everything that can complete our joy. Adam therefore
not yet created was much less able to think of his future good than
even we are, for he as yet had no existence at all. Whereas we
continually hear all these things from the Word of God, as promised to
us. Let us look at this first creation of the world therefore as a
type and figure of the world to come, and thereby let us learn the
exceeding goodness of God, who thus benefits, blesses and enriches us,
even before we are capable of thinking for ourselves. This solicitude,
care, liberality and beneficence of God, both for our present and
future life, are matters more becoming us to contemplate and admire
than it is to enter upon speculations and conjectures as to the reason
why God began to ornament the earth on the third day. Let these
observations suffice concerning the work of the third day in which a
house was built and furnished for man. Now follow the remaining days
in which we were appointed rulers, to "have dominion over" the whole


I. V. 14a. _And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of
heaven to divide the day from the night._

This is the work of the fourth day in which those all-beautiful
creatures, the sun and the moon, together with all the stars, were
created by the Word. Nor were they created as to their substances and
their bodies only, but as to the blessing of God upon them and through
them; that is, as to their powers, effects and influence.

You heard above that on the first day the "light" was created. This
light continued to illumine all things instead of the sun, the moon
and the stars until the fourth day. And on the fourth day those
authors and rulers of the day and the night were themselves created.

Hence there has here arisen a question with reference to this first
"light;" whether after the sun and the moon were created it
disappeared altogether or remained, embodied in the sun. And on this
point a great diversity of sentiments and opinions has existed. My
simple belief is that the nature of all these works of God is the
same. As on the first day the rude unformed heaven and earth were
created and afterward completely formed and perfected, as the
originally imperfect heaven was afterward stretched out and adorned
with light, and as the earth was first called forth from the waters
and then clothed with trees and herbs, so the first formed light of
the first day, which was then only begun, as it were, and imperfect,
was afterwards perfected and completed by the addition of those new
creatures, the sun, the moon and the stars. Others say that this
original "light" still remains, but is obscured by the brightness of
the sun. Both opinions may be true. For it may be that the original
light still remains and was as it were the seed-light of the sun and
the moon.

Moses however makes a difference here, calling the sun and the moon
the "greater lights." What philosophers say therefore concerning the
magnitude of these bodies has properly nothing to do with the text
before us. What we have here to do is to observe that the Scriptures
do not speak of these bodies with reference to the magnitude of the
bodies themselves but with reference to the magnitude of their light!
For if you would compare the sun with the stars and collect all the
stars into one body, you would have a body perhaps greater than the
sun, but that whole body of stars together would not form a light
equal to the light of the sun. On the contrary if you could divide the
sun into minute particles, the most minute particles would surpass in
brightness the brightest star. For all these bodies were created with
an essential difference as Paul affirms. "There is one glory of the
sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars,"
etc., 1 Cor. 15:41. And this difference does not consist in the nature
or magnitude of their bodies, but in the nature and essentiality of
their creation itself; so that in this the work of God's creation is
more wonderful. Hence marvellous beyond expression or thought is the
fact that the rays of the sun should be dispersed through such length
and breadth, with such wonderful properties of nourishment and heat to
all bodies under their influence; and that, too, while the sun itself
revolves with such amazing velocity.

Astronomers say also that the stars are lighted as it were by the sun
so that they shine. Likewise they say that the moon borrows its light
from the sun. And this is beautifully proved in an eclipse of the
moon, when the earth comes between the sun and moon and the light of
the sun is not transmitted to the moon. I do not deny nor reject this,
but I do hold however that it is of divine power that this efficacy is
added to the sun to light and illumine even the distant moon and stars
with its own light; and likewise that the moon and stars are so
created that they have the capacity to receive the light that is
projected from the sun so far away.

Augustine sets forth two opinions about the moon in the beginning of
the 12th Psalm, and in his discussions he forces an allegory upon the
church, while he himself defines nothing. But I leave this; for from
astronomers as from master artists we most readily learn what points
are possible to be disputed in this science. I am satisfied that in
these bodies so glorious and useful for our life we discern the
goodness and power of God, who created such things by his Word and
conserved them to the present day for our use. These are matters
belonging to our calling or profession; that is, they are theological
themes, and they have the efficacy to comfort and strengthen our

What is further discussed concerning the nature and attributes of
these creatures, although for the most part approaching the truth and
studied with profit, yet I see that the reason is by far too weak to
understand these things perfectly. Therefore the greatest men of
genius and learning, overwhelmed by the worthiness of these creatures,
could not conclude otherwise than that they are eternal, and, as it
were, gods.

Since, therefore, philosophers define a star to be a denser point
within its own orbit, we come much nearer the truth when we define it
to be light created by God through his Word. And it is indeed more
likely that the stars are bodies round like the sun, little globes
fixed to the firmament, so that each gives light by night, according
to its gift and its creative functions.

V. 14b. _And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and

When Moses adds above, "And let them divide the day from the night,"
he intimates that difference between the natural and the artificial
day, so universally made by astronomers. For he had before said, "And
there was evening and there was morning one day;" "were the second
day," etc., where he is speaking of the natural day which consists of
24 hours, during which the first great movable body, the sun, performs
his revolution from east to west. But here, when the sacred historian
says, "And let them divide the day from the night" he is speaking of
the artificial day, the space of time during which the sun is above
the horizon.

II. These therefore are the primary offices of the sun and the moon:
to be the rulers and directors of the night and the day; whereas the
stars perform not these offices nor are so appointed of God. But the
sun, when he rises, brings in the day without the rising or aid of the
other stars. So the moon, even independently of the stars, is the
ruler of the night and makes the night; for she is created by God for
that very office. As to these changes of the day and the night, they
are ordained for the refreshment of our bodies by sleep and rest. The
sun shows his brighter light for man's work. The moon has her paler
light as more adapted for repose than for work.

But what is the meaning of Moses when he says, "And let them be for
signs," etc.? Lyra explains it as signifying signs of rains and
storms, etc. This in an interpretation which I would not strongly
oppose; though I have great doubts whether these "Lights in the
firmament of heaven" do, or can, pre-signify rains, tempests, etc.,
with any certainty, as the poet Virgil and others represent in their
writings. The gospel does indeed make a "reddened" evening a sign of
"fair weather," and on the contrary a "lowering" morning a sign of
"foul weather," Math. 16:2-3. With respect therefore to the common
saying that the rising of the constellation of the Pleiades indicates
rain and other proverbs of a similar description, I will not with
great concern tear them to pieces, nor will I at once admit and
confirm them, because I cannot see that they are all uniformly sure
and certain.

I hold the simplest meaning of the text is that he does not speak of
such inferior signs, but greater signs, such as eclipses and
collisions of heavenly bodies, so that a sign is a wonder, a prophecy
or miracle, by which he reveals his wrath or the misfortune of the
world. If any think this explanation is too coarse, let us remember
that Moses wrote for a rude people.

Here belong meteors and the rare phenomena which take place in the
air, when stars are seen to fall, when halos surround the sun and
moon, when the rainbow appears and similar things happen in the sky.
For Moses calls the heaven the whole aqueous mass in which the stars
and planets move, also the highest sphere. We speak of spheres and
circles to make the explanation plainer. For the Scriptures know
nothing of these and say that the moon with the sun and stars are not
each in its sphere, but in the firmament of heaven, below and above
are the waters. That they are signs of future events, experience
teaches concerning planet collisions and meteors.

The expression "For seasons" claims particular attention. The term in
the Hebrew is LEMOEDIM; and MOED signifies "a stated, fixed, certain
time." Hence it is a term commonly used in the Scriptures to signify
"a tabernacle of covenant;" because there certain feasts were
accustomed to be held in a certain place and time according to certain
rites. Therefore it is that Moses describes the sun and the moon as
being created "For seasons;" not only because the seasons are ruled
and evidently changed by the course of the sun; for we see that most
inferior bodies are changed by the access and recess of the sun; and
the quality of the air according to which our own bodies are also
changed is of one kind in the winter, of another in the summer, of
another in the autumn and of another in the spring; but because we
observe other differences and distinctions of times and seasons in
civil life, all which are derived from the motions and revolutions of
these heavenly bodies. Hence at a certain time of the year men make
their contracts for building houses, hire their servants and their
services, and collect taxes, debts and rents, etc. All these are
services rendered us and blessings bestowed upon us by the sun and the
moon, that we may by their laws and revolutions divide the times and
seasons for the various labors of man and enjoy many other blessings
which they confer. It is by them that we divide and number our weeks,
months, quarters, etc., etc.

The next expression, "For days," refers to the natural day, during
which the sun performs his revolution round the earth. Our being
enabled therefore to number days and also years, are blessings of the
creation and are thus ordained of God. Wherefore philosophers define
time to be "an enumeration of motions," which numbering could have no
existence if the heavenly bodies did not move by a sure and fixed law.
If they all stood fixed in a certain place without motion, numbering
could have neither commencement nor regulation. And where there is no
numbering of days, months, years, etc., there is no time. Hence a man
in a sound sleep, being destitute of all sense of number and of all
faculty of enumeration, knows not how long he sleeps.

In a like manner, though we can in a measure recollect our infancy,
yet we are not conscious of the fact of having sucked the breasts of
our mothers; and yet we then had natural life. The reason is that we
were deficient in the sense of number and the power of annumeration.
For this same reason beasts know nothing of time; just as infants have
no such knowledge. The sense and faculty of number therefore prove man
to be a peculiar and superior creature of God on which account we find
Augustine declaring the faculty of annumeration to be an especial gift
of our nature, and proving from this very gift the immortality of the
soul; because man alone can calculate and understand time.

With reference to the future life, some here inquire whether the
offices of these heavenly bodies are designed of God to cease. But the
life to come will be without time. For the godly will enjoy an eternal
day and the ungodly will have an endless night and eternal darkness.

The sun therefore makes the day, not only by his light and brightness,
but by his motion, which he makes from east to west until he rises
again at the end of 24 hours and thus makes another day. Wherefore
astronomers make three great benefits to proceed from the sun: his
motion, his light and his influence.

Concerning his influence however I shall enter upon no subtle inquiry.
It is enough for me to know that these heavenly bodies were created
for our use; that they may be unto us "For signs of wrath or of grace
and for seasons," that we might observe certain distinctions of time,
etc. These things, because they are taught us in the Holy Scriptures
are sure. All things else, such as the doctrines and predictions of
astrologers, are not thus certain.

One is wont to inquire here concerning the astrological predictions
which some confirm and prove from this text. If they are not defended
perseveringly and pertinaciously, I will not combat them strongly. For
one ought to concede to the ingenious and learned brains their
playground. Therefore when one reads of the misuse and unbelief of
their superstitions, I would not be greatly offended if one exercise
himself in these predictions for the sake of pleasure.

As to that which pertains to the practice of astrology I could never
he persuaded to count astrology among the sciences, for the reasons
that it has no clear demonstration or visible proof. That they cite
experiences does not influence me. For all astrological experiences
are merely particular. For those, skilled in the practice only, have
observed and committed to writing the things that have not failed; the
other experiences, however, in which they failed or were not followed
by the results they predicted would certainly follow were not
committed to writing nor remembered. But just as Aristotle says that
one swallow alone does not make summer, so I think one cannot form a
true and complete science from such single and particular
observations. For just as it is said of hunters, they may hunt every
day, but they do not find game every day. The same may be said of
astrologers and their predictions, because they fail very often.

But now since they indeed contain some truth, what folly it is at the
same time that one should be so anxious about the future. For grant
that it is possible to know the future through the predictions of
astrologers, were it not in many respects far better, if they are
evil, to be entirely ignorant of them than to know them, as Cicero
contends? Instead it is much better to stand in the fear of God always
and to pray than to be tormented and tortured by the fear of future
events. But more of this at another time.

Wherefore my judgment is that astrological predictions cannot safely
and satisfactorily be founded upon this passage of Scripture; for they
are, as I have said, signs observed and collected by reason. But the
next and proper meaning, if we understand Moses concerning the signs,
which God knows and shows, is to the end that men in general may be
admonished and terrified by them. Let these observations on the fourth
day suffice.

Now here begins to open upon us and to present itself to our
meditation that great subject, the immortality of the soul. For no
creature besides man can understand the motion of the heaven or
estimate the celestial bodies and their revolutions. The pig, the cow,
the dog cannot measure the water they drink. But man can measure even
the heaven and form his calculations of all the heavenly bodies.

Wherefore a spark of eternal life glitters forth here from the fact
that man is naturally exercised in this knowledge of all nature. For
this anxious inquiry indicates that men were not created with the
design that they should live forever in this small weak portion of
God's universe; but that they should occupy the heaven, which in this
life they so admire and in the study and contemplation of which they
are continually engaged.

If heaven were not the destination of man what aim or need was there
for his being endowed with this wide capacity for rich knowledge and
thought. Indeed the stature and form of the body of man also argues
that he was designed for heavenly things, even though his origin was
so very mean and humble. For God made the first man from the common
earth. After this the human race began to be propagated from the seed
of the male and female, in which the embryo is formed in the womb in
all its particular members, and there it grows until by its birth it
is ushered forth into the light of heaven. From this birth comes the
life of sensation, the life of motion and the life of operation.

When at length the body has grown and the man has a sound reason and
soul in a sound body, then first shines forth in all its brightness
that life of intelligence found in no other earthly creature. By this
faculty, leaning on the aid of the mathematical sciences, which no one
can deny were indicated and taught from above, man mounts in his mind
from earth to heaven, and leaving behind him the things below concerns
himself about and inquires into heavenly things. Hogs do not do this,
nor cows nor any other beasts of the earth, it is the employment of
man alone. Man therefore is a being created of God with the design
that at an appointed time he should leave the earth, dwell in heavenly
mansions and live a life eternal. These great principles of man's
creation form the reasons why he is able not only to speak and to
judge, which are things pertaining to language and argument, but is
capable also of acquiring any science whatever.

From this fourth day therefore begins to be manifested the peculiar
glory of our race. Because God here forms his mind and purpose to
create such a being as should be capable of understanding the motions
of those heavenly bodies, which are created on this fourth day; and a
being who should delight himself in their knowledge, as peculiarly and
exclusively adapted to his nature. All these things therefore ought to
call forth our thanksgiving and praise; while we reflect that we are
the citizens of that heavenly country which we now behold, understand
and wonder at, yet understand only as strangers and exiles, but which
after this life we shall behold nearer and understand perfectly.

Hitherto therefore we have heard the divine historian speak of those
creatures only, which are endowed with neither life nor sense;
although some philosophers have spoken of the stars and the greater
heavenly bodes, as if they were animate and rational. This I think has
arisen from the motion of these bodies, which is rational and so
certain that there is nothing like it in any other creatures. Hence
some philosophers have affirmed that the heavenly creatures were
composed of body and intellect, though their bodies were not material.
Plato reasons thus in his "Timoeus."

All such opinions however are to be utterly exploded and our whole
intellect is to be subjected to the Word of God and to what is there
written. The Holy Scriptures plainly teach that God made all these
things, that he might by them prepare for the man, whom he was about
to create, a home and a hospitable reception; and that all these
things are governed and preserved by the power of the same Word, by
which they were originally created. Wherefore all things being at
length prepared pertaining to the furniture of his home, the
Scriptures next show us the manner in which man was "formed" and
introduced into his possession to the end that we might be taught that
the providence of God over us and for us is greater than all our own
care and concern for ourselves can possibly be. These things are
plainly taught us in the Scriptures. All other things not supported by
the authority of the Scriptures are to be repudiated and rejected.

I have therefore thought it especially becoming and necessary to
repeat here that admonition which I have frequently given, that we
ought constantly to acquaint and familiarize ourselves with the
phraseology of the Holy Spirit. For no one can successfully study any
of the human arts unless he first correctly understands the idiom of
the language in which its principles are described. For lawyers have
their peculiar terms, unknown to the physician and the philosopher. In
like manner, the latter have each a phraseology peculiar to themselves
with which the professors of other arts have little or no
acquaintance. Now one art ought not to perplex another. But every art
ought to maintain its own course in its own way and to adopt its own
peculiar terms.

Accordingly we find the Holy Spirit, to use a language and a
phraseology peculiar to his own divine self, declaring that God
created all things by his Word or by speaking them into being; "He
spake and it was done"; that he wrought all things by his Word; and
that all the works of God are certain words of God, certain things
created by the uncreated word. As therefore the philosopher uses his
own terms, so the Holy Ghost uses his. Hence when the astronomer
speaks of his spheres, his cycles and his epicycles, he does so
rightly, for it is lawful for him in the profession of his art to use
such terms as may enable him the better to instruct his disciples. On
the other hand the Holy Ghost will know nothing of such terms in the
sacred Scriptures. Hence those Scriptures call the whole of that part
of the creation which is above us, "The heaven," nor ought that term
to be disapproved by the astronomer; for the astronomer and the
Scripture both adopt, as I have said, terms peculiar to themselves.

It is in this manner that we are to understand the term "seasons" in
the sacred text before us. For the term "season" with the philosopher
and with the Hebrew has not the same signification. With the Jews the
term "season" signifies, theologically, an appointed feast or
festival; and also the intervals of days, which concur and conjoin to
form the year, wherefore this term is everywhere rendered by the word
"feast" or "festival" or "festivity"; except where it is used to
signify a "tabernacle" or "tent."

I deemed it best to offer these admonitions concerning language and
phraseology before we advance further, and I hope they will not be
found useless or out of place, as showing the importance that every
art should confine itself to its own language and terms; that no one
art should condemn or deride another, but that each should rather aid
the other and render mutual services. And this indeed the professors
of all arts do, in order that the unity of the whole state may be
preserved; which, as Aristotle says, "cannot be constituted of a
physician and a physician; but must be formed of a physician and a


I. V. 20. _And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living
creatures, and let birds fly above the earth,_ etc., etc.

We see Moses retains invariably the same sacred phraseology, "And God
said," etc. Hitherto he has been speaking of the superior creatures;
the heaven with all its host of planets and stars, which God created
out of water by the Word, and gave light unto it, just as we now see
the air around us lucid, with a natural illumination.

Moses now proceeds to speak of new creatures also produced out of the
waters; namely, of birds and fishes. He connects these two creatures
in his narrative on account of their similarity of nature. For as the
fish swims in the water, so does the bird swim as it were in the air.
Though their flesh differs, yet they have the same origin. For the
sacred text is here quite plain, that the birds when created out of
the waters immediately flew into the air where they now live. Moses
here retains moreover his uniform term in calling the whole region
above us, "heaven."

And first it is worthy of admiration that, although the fishes and the
birds were both created out of the same matter, the waters, yet as the
bird cannot live in the water, neither can the fish exist, if brought
into the air. Physicians rightly argue, when they affirm that the
flesh of birds is more wholesome than that of fishes, even though the
nature of birds is also aqueous; because they live in a more rarified
element; for air is a purer element than water; the latter, in which
the fish are generated and live, being constituted of the dregs as it
were of the former. Philosophers however do not believe this identity
of the nature of birds and of fishes. But the faith of the sacred
Scriptures which is far above philosophy and far more certain, assures
us that the nature of the fish and of the bird had the same origin.

Here again is a further proof of the divine authority and majesty of
this book, in that it sets before us under such various forms that
power of God by which he created all things, beyond the conception of
all reason and understanding. Who for instance could ever have
thought, that out of water a nature could be produced, which should by
no means endure water? But the Word of God speaks, and in a moment out
of water are created birds. If therefore the Word of God but sound,
all things are immediately possible; and out of the same water shall
be formed either fishes or birds. Every bird therefore and every fish
is nothing more or less than a word of divine grammar or language; by
which grammar all things, otherwise impossible, immediately become
possible and easy; by which also things contrary and conflicting
become similar and harmonious; and vice versa.

But these divine things are thus written and ought to be diligently
observed, studied and known by us, that we might learn to admire and
adore the power of the Divine Majesty; and that we might edify and
strengthen our faith from all these marvellous creation works of God!
For if one could raise the dead it would be nothing in comparison to
this wonderful work; that a bird was created in a moment out of water!
But the reason we do not day by day and continually wonder at these
things, is because by our having seen them always before us, they have
lost their wonder in our eyes. If however one does but believe these
things, he is compelled at once to wonder at them. And that wonder
gradually confirms his faith. For if God can form a mass of water,
call forth and create the heaven and its stars, each one of which
equals or exceeds the earth itself in magnitude; if God can, from a
small drop of water, create the sun and the moon, can he not defend my
poor body against all enemies and against Satan himself? Can he not
after that poor body is laid in the tomb raise it again to another and
a new life? Wherefore we are to learn from this book of Genesis the
power of God; that we may accustom ourselves to doubt nothing that God
promises in his Word! For, in this glorious and marvellous creation
work is laid a confirmation of our faith in all the promises of God;
that there is nothing so difficult, nothing so impossible, which God
cannot do and perfect by his Word. For all this is here proved by
God's creation of the heaven, earth, sea and all that is in them.

But we must here touch upon that which has arrested the attention of
the holy fathers, and especially of Augustine; that Moses in this
sacred narrative uses these three expressions in reference to God,
"God said;" "God made;" and "God saw;" as if God designed by these
three expressions, used by His servant Moses, to set forth the three
persons of the divine majesty! Thus by the expression "said" is
signified the Father. The Father begat the Word from all eternity; and
by this same Word he made in time this world. And these holy fathers
applied the expression, "God made" to the person of the Son; for the
Son has in himself the "express image" of the person of the Father;
not only of his majesty, but of his power by which he created all
things. Hence the Son gives to all things their existence. And as by
the Father things are spoken into being, so are they also by the Son
or the Word of the Father, by whom "all things subsist." And to these
two persons is also added a third; the person of the Holy Spirit, who
"sees" and approves all things which are created.

These three expressions therefore, "said," "made," "saw," are spoken
by Moses in a beautiful and appropriate manner as attributive of the
three divine persons; that we might by these three expressions the
more distinctly understand that great article of faith, the Holy
Trinity. For the sole reason these props of our faith were religiously
sought by the holy fathers was, that the profound subject, the
doctrine of the Holy Trinity, so incomprehensible in itself, might in
some measure receive aid to its comprehension. Wherefore I by no means
condemn these pious attempts, because they are perfectly in harmony
with the analogy of faith and most useful also for the instruction and
confirmation of faith.

In this manner Hilary also distinguishes other attributes. "Eternity
is in the Father; form, in the image; and use, in the gift." He says
that the Holy Spirit is the gift for use, because he gives the use of
all things; in that he governs and preserves all things that they
perish not. The same fathers hold and affirm also, "The Father is the
mind; the Son the understanding; the Holy Ghost the will." Not that
the Father is without understanding or the Son without will. But these
are attributes; that is terms or expressions, which are not applicable
to three divine persons collectively, but to the one or the other
divine person, separately or differently. Not, as we have said, that
the Father is without wisdom, etc. But we thus portray and present
these divine things to our minds that we may better hold and explain
the article of faith on the Holy Trinity.

When therefore the sacred text says "And God saw that it was good,"
the divine expression implies God's intended preservation also of the
thing which he had in each case just created. For the creature itself,
thus newly created, could not stand unless the Holy Spirit should love
it, and unless this complacency of God in his own work should preserve
that work. For God did not thus create these things, designing to
forsake them when created, but he approves them and loves them still.
The great Creator by his divine agency still simultaneously stirs,
moves and preserves, after his own God-like method all things which he
hath made. I deemed it right thus briefly to touch upon these sacred
matters; for the godly thoughts of those, who have preceded us in this
holy study and whose course we are ourselves pursuing, are well worthy
our knowledge.

The expression in the above text, which Jerome renders "the creeping
creature that hath life," is in the original Hebrew NEPHESCH, and
signifies a "soul" or "life" or "something living." Moses calls fishes
by this name. With reference to birds, it is well known that they are
AMPHIBIOUS; that is they live either on land or in the air.

II. V. 21a. _And God created the great sea-monsters (whales)._

An inquiry may naturally here be made, why Moses mentions by name,
"whales" only. But it is so, that the Scriptures in general make
mention only of the greater fishes. The mention of "leviathan" and of
"dragons" in the Book of Job, and in other places of the Scriptures is
well known. It is certain however that all the large sea-monsters are
called by the name, "whales;" some of which have wings as the dolphin,
the king of fishes. Not however because it exceeds all other fishes in
size. For the eagle, the king of birds, does not surpass all birds,
nor is the lion, the king, larger than all other beasts.

I believe however the reason of this is that we might know that these
huge bodies are really the glorious works of God, and that we might
not through any terror at such awe-striking bulks, imagine that these
stupendous animals were not works of God, but unreal monsters. These
great facts of creation being thus established in our minds, it is
easy to conclude, that as these enormous bodies were created by God,
the lesser fishes, such as herrings, sprats, minnows, etc., were
created also by him. Let him who would contemplate this more deeply
read Job, Chap. 41. He will there plainly see in what lofty language
the Holy Spirit, by means of the poet-author of that book, lauds that
marvellous monster "leviathan," whose strength and confidence is such
that he contemns even the force of arrows. Such descriptions open our
eyes and encourage our faith to believe the more easily and firmly
that God is able to preserve us also, who are so indescribably less in
magnitude and strength.

A question here also raised concerning mice and doormice; whence and
how they originate and are generated. For we find by experience that
not even ships, which are perpetually swimming on the ocean, are free
from mice, and no house can be thoroughly cleared of mice but that
they will still be generated. The same inquiry may be instituted
concerning flies. And also whither birds go in the time of autumn.

If you ask Aristotle concerning mice, his argument is that some
animals are _homoigena_, "generated from a like kind," and others,
_heterogena_, "generated from a different kind," and that mice are
"heterogena," because mice, he says, are not generated from mice only,
but from putrid matter; the putridity of which is consumed and
gradually becomes a mouse.

If you ask by what power this generation is effected, Aristotle
answers that the putrid humidity of this matter is cherished,
generatively, by the heat of the sun; and that by this process a
living animal is produced; just as we see the bluebottle fly generated
from horse-manure. But this reasoning is far from satisfying me, for
the sun warms all things, but generates nothing, unless God speak it
into being by his divine power. Even supposing therefore that the
mouse were generated from putrid matter, yet the mouse would be a
creature of divine power.

The mouse is therefore a creature of the divine Word and power; and it
is, as I believe of an aqueous nature. Were it not a creature of the
divine Word and power, it would have no natural form nor would its
species be preserved. Whereas it has a form the most beautiful, in its
kind; legs of such exquisite symmetry, hair so smooth, as to make it
evident that it was created for a certain order of creatures by the
Word of God. In the mouse therefore we admire also the creature and
the workmanship of God. And the same may as certainly be said of

Concerning the disappearing of birds I have no certain knowledge. For
it is not very likely that they retire into regions farther south.
Indeed the miracle concerning swallows is known by experience, that
they lie as dead in the waters during the winter, and revive at the
approach of summer; which fact is indeed a great similitude and proof
of our resurrection. For these are operations of the divine Majesty
truly wonderful. Hence we see them, but we understand them not. And my
belief is that although a single swallow may appear unseasonably, now
and then, I doubt however whether it ever can be the case, such
swallow is restored from its death-like state by God himself.

Unto the creation work of the fifth day therefore belong all crawling,
creeping and flying creatures; and all other creatures which move in
any way in the air or the water.

III. V. 21b and 22. _And God saw that it was good. And God blessed

Why did not God pronounce the Word of blessing upon the above
inanimate bodies of his creation also? In those cases he only said,
that the bodies which he had created pleased him, but he did not bless
them. But when he comes to the generation and propagation of living
bodies, then he institutes a new mode of their increase and
multiplication. Hence the sun and the stars, as we see, do not
generate from themselves bodies like unto themselves. But herbs and
trees have this blessing upon them, that they grow and bring forth
fruit. Still there is nothing in them like unto this present blessing,
pronounced by God upon the living bodies.

Moses therefore by this Word of the divine blessing makes a glorious
distinction between the bodies before created, and these living bodies
which were created on the fifth day, because here a new method of
generation is instituted. For in this case from living bodies are
generated separate kinds of offspring which also live. But this
certainly is not the case with trees nor herbs; for unless they be
sown anew they bear no fruit, nor does a seed grow simply from a seed,
but from a plant. But in the present instance a living body is
generated from a living body. This latter operation therefore, that
animal bodies should increase and be multiplied from bodies of their
own kind, is entirely another and a new work of God. Because a
pear-tree does not produce a pear-tree but a pear. But in the latter
case, that which a bird produces is a bird. That which a fish
generates is a fish. Marvellous indeed and numberless is the
multiplication of each species and infinite the fecundity, but it is
greatest in marine and aquatic animals.

What then is the cause of this wonderful and admirable generation or
propagation? The hen lays an egg; she cherishes it until a living body
is formed in the egg, which at length the hen hatches. Philosophers
allege the cause of all this to be the operation of the sun and the
heat of the hen's body. I fully grant all this. But divines speak much
nearer the truth, when they affirm that the whole generative process
takes place by the effective operation of the Word, here spoken by
God, "And God blessed them; and said, be fruitful and multiply." This
Word of God's blessing is present in the very body of the hen and of
all living creatures; and the heat by which the hen cherishes the egg
is essentially and effectively the heat of the Word of God; for
without this Word the heat of the sun or of the body would be utterly
ineffectual and useless.

Wherefore to this admirable part of his creation work God adds his
peculiar blessing in order that these living bodies now created on the
fifth day might be fruitful. From these circumstances may be seen what
this divine blessing is, namely, multiplication. Now when we bless we
can effect nothing. All we can do is to pray. But this prayer is
inoperative. We cannot effect the things for which we pray. But the
blessing of God carries with it actual fruitfulness and
multiplication. It is at once effectual. On the contrary the divine
curse is non-multiplication and diminution. And the curse is also at
once effectual.

Here again, the phraseology of Moses is to be carefully observed. What
Moses calls the blessing of God, philosophers call fecundity; that is,
when certain living and sound bodies are produced from other living
and sound bodies. Nothing resembles this in trees, for a tree does not
generate the like unto itself; it is the seed that produces the like
of the tree. This is a great and marvellous miracle, but like all
things else in the wonderful works of God, it loses its wonder from
our being always accustomed to behold it without reflection or

Another question here arises concerning worms and various hurtful
creeping things; reptiles as toads; and venomous flies and also
butterflies. In all these living creatures there is a wonderful
fecundity. And it is singular that the more hurtful the creatures the
more prolific generally is their generation and the greater their
multiplication. But we will leave this question to our subsequent
comments on the third chapter of this book. For my belief is that at
the time of creation, now under consideration, none of these venomous,
hurtful or annoying creatures as yet existed. I believe that they
afterwards sprang from the earth, when cursed by God as the punishment
of sin, that they might afflict us and compel us to flee unto God in
prayer. But more on this subject, as I have just intimated, hereafter.

Thus have we then a sight of the living bodies created on the fifth
day. And we have seen that the Word of God, spoken on this day, is
still effectual; for fishes are still generated from mere and very
water. Hence fish-ponds and lakes still generate fishes. Minnows are
generated in fish-ponds, in which there were none before. For I see no
likelihood of truth in the trifling arguments of some, who will have
it that fishes caught by birds, drop their seed into fish-ponds and
lakes, while they are being borne along in the air by their feathered
captors; and that such dropped fish-seed afterwards increases and
furnishes the ponds. I believe therefore the true and sole cause of
all this generation and multiplication of fishes, to be God's
commanding Word to the water on the fifth day of his creation work to
bring forth fishes. I believe that this divine Word is still
effectual; and that it still works all these things!


I. V. 24. _And God said, Let the earth bring forth living creatures
after their kind,_ etc.

We have now seen created the heaven with all its hosts, the sun, the
moon and the stars. We have seen the sea created, with its fishes and
birds. For as the fishes swim in the water so do the birds swim as it
were in the air. To the earth also we have seen added its ornaments of
herbs, trees and fruits. And now, before man is introduced into this
his dwelling place, as it were, beasts of the earth are added; and
beasts of labor and burden; and also reptiles. After all these things
man himself is also created!

Man however is not created that he might fly with the bird nor that he
might swim with the fish. But man has a nature common to all other
animals in this respect, that he is designed to live upon the earth.
For the use of ships is artificial, in the construction and use of
which man attempts to imitate the fishes and the birds. For the ship
performs both movements. It flies in the air and swims on the water.
We are not however here speaking of things artificial, but of things

The Hebrews here make a distinction of names and appellations. They
call BEHAMAH, those animals which we denominate "beasts of burden;"
and they distinguish by the same appellation the lesser beasts of the
wood; such as stags, goats, hares and whatever animals feed on food
common to us, and live on herbs and the fruits of trees. But they term
carnivorous beasts, such as wolves, lions and bears, etc., HAIESO
EREZ; which is generally and correctly rendered, "beasts of the
earth." But whether this distinction is uniformly observed I know not.
It does not appear to me that the observance of it is uniform. One
thing however is quite certain, that Moses here intended to comprehend
all terrestrial animals, whether they feed on flesh or on herbs. Of
all these he affirms that the earth is the mother, which brought them
all forth from herself by the Word, as the sea also brought forth all
fishes from herself by the same Word.

We have heard above however that God said to the water, "Let the water
be moved," etc., in order that by this its motion the sea might be
filled with fishes and the air with birds. And we have seen also that
afterwards the blessing of generation was first added. But here in the
creation of terrestrial animals, another word is used; and God says,
"Let the earth bring forth." He does not say, "Let the earth be
moved." For the earth is a quiescent body. Therefore in the creation
work of the fourth day, God also says, "And let the earth bring forth
grass," verse 11. For God wills that the earth should send forth both
animals and herbs without any motion.

But whether these animals were formed after the similitude of the
formation of man out of the "ground," or whether they burst forth on a
sudden, the Scriptures define nothing on the subject; yet as Moses is
here celebrating the formation of man as having been wrought by a
peculiar design and contrivance of the mind of God; my own opinion is
that all the other animals of the earth stood forth created in a
moment, as the fishes were made on a sudden in the sea. The reason God
did not here, Vs. 24 and 25, add his blessing is quite plain; because
it embraces all the creatures mentioned in these verses, when it is
afterwards pronounced on man, V. 28. It was sufficient therefore for
Moses to say in this place, "And God saw that it was good," V. 25. But
let us now approach the last and most glorious work of God: the
creation of man!

II. V. 26a. _And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our

Here again Moses adopts a new phraseology. The divine expression is
not in this place, "Let the sea be moved," or "Let the earth bring
forth grass" or "fruits." But the remarkable Word of God here is, "Let
us make, or form, or fashion, or fabricate man." Wherefore this
expression implies manifest deliberation and counsel; the like of
which is found not in the creation of any former creatures. In those
cases God says simply without any deliberation, counsel or particular
design of mind, "Let the sea be moved;" "Let the earth bring forth,"
etc. But here where God wills to create man, he turns himself as it
were to deep thought and enters into profound counsel and

First of all then we have here indicated the signal difference between
man and every other creature of God and his high exaltation above them
all. Beasts do indeed greatly resemble man in many particulars. They
live with him; they eat with him; they are brought up with him; they
feed on many of the same things with him; they rest with him; they
sleep with him, etc. If therefore you consider their food, their
bringing up, their housing, their conservation, etc., there is a great
similarity between man and beast.

Moses however here sets before us the striking difference between man
and all the animals mentioned; when he affirms that man was created by
the peculiar counsel and providence of God; whereby he signifies that
man is a creature far excelling all other animals, which live a
corporeal life; which excellence was more especially prominent while
nature was as yet unfallen and uncorrupted. The opinion of Epicurus
was that man was created only to eat and to drink. This was not
separating man from beasts; for beasts have also their pleasures, and
they pursue them with delight. Whereas the sacred text before us
forcibly expresses the distinction and separation of man from beast,
when it affirms that God took deep thought and certain counsel in
forming man; which counsel was taken, not only to form man, but to
form him "in the image and after the likeness of God." This image of
God is a far different thing from the care of the belly and the
indulgence of the appetite; for these things beasts well understand
and eagerly crave.

Moses therefore in this place signifies to the spiritually minded that
we were created unto a life far more excellent than, and high above,
anything which this corporeal life could ever have been, even if
nature had remained perfect and uncorrupted by sin. For godly teachers
well affirm that if Adam had not fallen God would have translated him
from an animal life to spiritual life after a certain number of saints
had been perfected. For Adam was not designed by his creation to live
without food, drink and procreation. But all these corporeal things
would have ceased at an appointed time; after a number of saints had
been completed; and Adam, together with his posterity, would have been
translated to a life spiritual and eternal. These natural works of our
corporeal life, eating, drinking, procreation, etc., would still have
existed and would have been a service of gratitude to God; which
service we should have performed without any of that corrupt
concupiscence which cleaves to us since the sin of the fall and
without any sin of our own or any fear of death. This would indeed
have been a life of pleasure and of sweetness. Of such a life it is
lawful for us to think; but such a life is not now possible for us to
live. This however we have still left to us: We can believe and with
all assurance look for a spiritual life after this present life; an
end of this life in paradise; thought for us and destined for us by
God through the merits of Christ.

Wherefore the portion of the sacred text before us claims our especial
meditation in which the Holy Spirit so magnificently extols the human
nature and so distinctly separates it from all the other creatures of
God. For the mere corporeal or animal life of man was designed to
resemble in a great measure the life of the beasts of the earth.
Because as beasts require food, drink and sleep for the refreshment
and restoration of their bodies, so Adam was designed also to use
these even in his state of innocence. But that which Moses moreover
affirms, that man was so created unto this animal life that he was
also "made" in the "image" and "after the likeness" of God, this is a
manifest indication of a life different from and far above a mere
animal life.

Adam was endowed therefore with a twofold life: an animal and an
immortal life. The latter however was not as yet plainly revealed, but
held in hope. Had he not fallen by sin therefore, he would have eaten
and drunk, worked and generated in all innocence, sinlessness and
happiness. I have thought proper to make these admonitory observations
upon that difference which God made by his deep counsel between us men
and all other animals among which he permits us to live. I shall
return to this subject hereafter and shall dilate upon it to a greater

Secondly, I would remark upon this divine Word "Let us make," that it
pertains to the mystery and confirmation of our faith; by which we
believe that there is one God from all eternity and three distinct
Persons in one divinity or divine essence, the Father, the Son and the
Holy Ghost. The Jews indeed attempt in various ways to elude this
passage; but they can bring nothing solidly or effectually against it.
For this passage plagues them to death, to use the expression of Occa.
That author so describes all trying and tormenting questions, which he
finds he cannot solve.

The Jews assert that God uses the same expression elsewhere, when he
includes the angels with himself; and also where he includes with
himself the earth and other creatures. But I would here ask in the
first place, why God did not use this same expression before in the
creation of the previous creatures? I would demand secondly what the
creation of man had to do with angels or angels with it? And I would
thirdly call attention to the fact, that God makes here no mention of
angels whatever but simply says, "Let us." Wherefore God speaks here
of makers or creators. This expression therefore could not design or
imply angels. In the fourth place, it is quite certain that it was
not, could not, and cannot, be said that we were created "in the
image" of angels. And fifthly and lastly, we have the divine Word in
both forms of expression in the plural and also in the singular
number, "Let us make" and "God made." Moses therefore here most
clearly and most forcibly indicates to us, that there is internally in
the very divinity itself and in the very creative essence, an
inseparable and eternal plurality. Suffer we not the gates of hell
themselves to wrest this truth from the grasp of our faith!

And as to what the Jews say about God's joining the earth with himself
when he speaks by the pronoun we or us, that is frivolous and absurd.
For surely the earth is not our maker or creator. Why did not the
adorable God rather join the sun with himself, when he spoke. For
Aristotle affirms that man and the sun generate man. But neither would
this invention succeed; because we are not made in the image of the
earth but we are made "in the image" and "after the likeness" of those
glorious makers and creators who here speak and say, "Let us make,"
etc. These makers are three distinct persons in one divine essence. It
is in the image of these three divine and glorious Persons that we are
created, as we shall hereafter further hear.

And again, it is extremely absurd for the Jews to assert with
reference to this passage that God adopts, in the words he here uses,
the custom of princes; who, for the sake of reverence and dignity, use
the plural number when they speak. But the Holy Spirit does not
imitate this distancing pomp of terms, if I may so term it; nor do the
Scriptures know anything of such a manner of speech.

Wherefore most assuredly the Holy Trinity is here intended of God;
that in the one divine essence there are three divine Persons, the
Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; so that the Deity is not
separated here, even in this case of action or agency. For all three
Persons here concur and speak unitedly when they say, "Let us make."
For neither does the Father make any other man than the Son makes; nor
does the Son make any other man than the Holy Ghost makes. But the
Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, the one same God, are the one same
author of the one same work and are the one same creator.

Wherefore according to this scriptural argument and this holy
statement of the truth, the Deity or Godhead cannot be separated
objectively, as the object of divine worship, nor actively as the
creative agent. For the Father is not known, but in the Son through
the Holy Ghost. Hence as actively, so objectively, there is but one
adorable God; who nevertheless is in and within himself, substantially
or essentially Father, Son and Holy Spirit; three distinct persons in
one Godhead or Deity.

These divine testimonies of this book of Genesis ought to be dear and
delightful to us. For although both Jews and Turks deride us, because
we believe that there is one God, but three Persons in the Godhead,
yet unless they are prepared impudently to deny the authority of the
Scriptures, they must be compelled by the present text as well as by
the passages above cited to fall in with our doctrine. They may indeed
attempt to elude and avoid these testimonies, nevertheless the sting
of this passage still sticks fast in their hearts; they cannot get rid
of the divine expression "Let us make." They can assign no other
reason for it than we have here given. Nor can they otherwise explain
why Moses uses the plural noun ELOHIM. The reflections and natural
convictions arising from these divine expressions they cannot shut out
from their hearts and consciences, notwithstanding all the various
means which they adopt in order to do so. And if they deem it the
height of their wisdom to elude and get rid of these testimonies, do
they think that we are destitute of ability, and cannot find wisdom
enough to defend them? But the authority of the Scriptures on our side
is far mightier than all wisdom on theirs; especially since the New
Testament reveals the whole divine matter more clearly still. For
there the Son which is in the bosom of the Father teaches us all these
things with a clearness far surpassing all other testimony; whom not
to believe is the highest blasphemy and eternal death. Wherefore, bid
we farewell to all these blind corrupters of divine doctrines until we
meet them at the day of judgment!

But you will say perhaps that these testimonies are too obscure to be
appealed to as proofs of so important an article of faith. I reply,
these divine things were spoken at this time, thus obscurely,
according to the counsel and purpose of God; and for this very reason,
because they were all left to that Great Lord and Teacher, who was to
come; until whose advent the restitution of all things was reserved;
even the restitution of all knowledge and of all revelations. Those
mysteries therefore which "in the beginning" were set before us thus
obscurely, Christ when he came revealed, made known and commanded to
be preached. Nevertheless the holy fathers were in possession of this
knowledge by the Holy Spirit; though not so clearly as we possess it
now, who hear in the New Testament the names of the Father, and of the
Son and of the Holy Ghost plainly declared. For when Christ came it
was necessary that all those seals should be unloosed, and all those
things openly preached, which "in the beginning" had been purposely
delivered to us in obscure words in reverence to the Great Teacher who
was to come. And had not the Holy Spirit deferred this clear knowledge
to the time of the New Testament, Arians would have existed long
before the birth of Christ. Wherefore the Holy Spirit willed that this
sun of knowledge should be opposed to the devil in these "last times,"
that his eyes might be the more intolerably dazzled, that he might the
more virulently envy men such a brightness of knowledge, and be thus
the more terribly tormented.

Thirdly. A whole sea of questions is here agitated as to what that
"image" of God was in which Moses here says man was formed. Augustine
has dwelt largely on the explanation of this passage in his book "On
the Trinity." Those divines in general, who retain the division and
definition of Aristotle, follow Augustine. They consider the image of
God to be those powers of soul, memory, mind or intellect and will.
They affirm that the image of God consists in these three qualities;
which image, they say, is found in all men. And their argument is,
that as in divine things the Word is begotten of the substance of the
Father, and as the Holy Spirit is the complacency or good pleasure of
the Father, so in man from the memory proceeds the word of the heart,
which is the mind of the man; which word being uttered there is
developed the will, which will the mind beholds and with which it is

These divines affirm moreover that "the similitude," after which man
was formed, stands in gratuitous gifts. For as a similitude is a
certain perfectness of an image, so, they say, the created nature of
man is perfected by grace. According to their views therefore the
"similitude" of God in man consists in his memory being adorned with
hope, his intellect with faith and his will with love. It is in this
manner, they assert, that man is created in the image of God; that man
has a mind, a memory and a will. Again they state the sacred matter
thus: Man is created after the "similitude" of God; that is, his
intellect is illuminated by faith, his memory is confirmed by hope and
constancy, and his will is adorned with love.

Fourthly. Divines give other divisions and definitions of the
qualities of this "image" of God, in which man was originally created.
They hold that memory is the image of the power of God, mind the image
of his wisdom and will the image of his justice. It was after this
manner that Augustine, and after him others, bent their minds on the
discovery of certain trinities of natural qualities or endowments in
man. For they thought that by this mode of explanation, the image of
God in man would be the more clearly seen. These not unpleasing
speculations do indeed argue faithful employment and great acuteness
of mental ability, but they by no means aid the right explanation of
this "image" of God.

Wherefore though I do not altogether condemn and reprobate this
diligence and these deep thoughts, by which divines desire to reduce
all things to a kind of sacred trinity, yet I doubt whether such
attempts are very useful, especially seeing that others may push them
too far. For it is on these grounds that some rest their disputes in
favor of free-will; which, they say, naturally follows from this
"image of God." They argue thus: God is free. Since therefore man is
created in the image of God, man also has a free memory, a free mind
and a free will. Out of this kind of reasoning therefore many things
fall, which are either spoken untruly at first, or are afterwards
wrongly understood or wickedly perverted. It is from this source that
the dangerous doctrine has arisen, according to which men affirm, that
God so rules and governs men that he permits them to use their own
mind and movement. By this sentiment and teaching many most
objectionable opinions have been generated. From this same source has
originated that pernicious saying, "God who made thee without thyself
will not save thee without thyself." Such men conclude that free-will
concurs with the grace and work of God, as a preceding and efficient
cause of salvation. Not unlike this is the saying of Dionysius, which
is more pernicious still: "Although devils and man fell, yet all their
natural faculties remained whole and entire; their mind, their memory,
their will," etc. If this be true therefore it will follow, that man
by his own natural powers can save himself.

These perilous opinions of some of the fathers are agitated in all
churches and schools, and I do not really see what the fathers wished
to effect by them. Therefore I advise that they be read with caution
and judgment. They were often spoken in a mood and with a peculiar
feeling, which we have not and cannot have, since we have not similar
occasions. Inexperienced persons therefore seize them all, without any
judgment, in their own sense, and not in the meaning the fathers had
at the time they were uttered. But I leave this and return to our

I fear however that since this "image of God" has been lost by sin, we
can never fully attain to the knowledge of what it was. Memory, mind
and will we do most certainly possess, but wholly corrupted, most
miserably weakened; nay, that I may speak with greater plainness,
utterly leprous and unclean. If these natural endowments therefore
constitute the image of God it will inevitably follow that Satan also
was created in the image of God; for he possesses all these natural
qualities, and to an extent and strength far beyond our own. For he
has a memory and an intellect the most powerful and a will the most

The image of God therefore is something far different from all this.
It is a peculiar work of God. If there be those however who are yet
disposed to contend that the above natural endowments and powers do
constitute the image of God, they must of necessity confess that they
are all leprous and unclean. Even as we still call a leprous man a
man, though all the parts of his leprous flesh be stupefied and dead,
as it were, with disease, except that his whole nature is vehemently
excited to lust.

Wherefore that image of God created in Adam was a workmanship the most
beautiful, the most excellent and the most noble, while as yet no
leprosy of sin adhered either to his reason or to his will. Then all
his senses, both internal and external, were the most perfect and
pure. His intellect was most clear, his memory most complete and his
will the most sincere, accompanied with the most charming security,
without any fear of death and without any care or anxiety whatever. To
these internal perfections of Adam was added a power of body and of
all his limbs, so beautiful and so excellent that he surpassed all
other animate natural creatures. For I fully believe that before his
sin the eyes of Adam were so clear and their sight so acute that his
powers of vision exceeded those of the lynx. Adam, I believe, being
stronger than they, handled lions and bears, whose strength is so
great, as we handle the young of any animal. I believe also that to
Adam the sweetness and the virtue of the fruits which he ate were far
beyond our enjoyment of them now.

After the fall however death crept in like leprosy over all the
senses. So that now we cannot comprehend this image of God by our
intellect. Adam moreover in his innocency could not have known his
wife Eve, but with the most pure and confident mind towards God; with
a will the most obedient to God and a soul the most free from all
impurity of thought. But now since the sin of the fall all know how
great is the excitement of the flesh, which is not only furious in
concupiscence, but also in disgust after it has satisfied its desire.
In neither case therefore is the reason or the will sound or whole.
Both are fallen and corrupt. And the fury of the desire is more
brutish than human. Is not this our leprosy then grievous and
destructive? But of all this Adam knew nothing before the sin of his
fall. His only peculiarity then was that he had greater powers and
more acute and exquisite senses than any other living creature. But
now how far does the wild boar exceed man in the sense of hearing, the
eagle in sight, and the lion in strength? No one therefore can now
conceive, even in thought, how far the excellency of man when first
created surpasses what he is now.

Wherefore I for my part understand the image of God to be this: that
Adam possessed it in its moral substance or nature; that he not only
knew God and believed him to be good, but that he lived also a life
truly divine; that is, free from the fear of death and of all dangers
and happy in the favor of God. This is apparent in Eve, who we find
talks with the serpent, devoid of all fear; just as we do with a lamb
or a dog. Therefore God sets before Adam and Eve this, as a
punishment, if they should transgress his command: "In the day that
thou eatest of this tree thou shalt surely die the death." As if he
had said, "Adam and Eve, ye now live in all security. Ye neither see
nor fear death. This is my image in which ye now live. Ye live as God
lives. But if ye sin ye shall lose this image; ye shall die."

Hence we see and feel the mighty perils in which we now live; how many
forms and threatenings of death this miserable nature of ours is
doomed to experience and endure, in addition to that unclean
concupiscence and those other ragings of sin and those inordinate
emotions and affections, which are engendered in the minds of all men.
We are never confident and happy in God, fear and dread in the highest
are perpetually trying us. These and like evils are the image of the
devil, who has impressed that image upon us. But Adam lived in the
highest pleasure and in the most peaceful security. He feared not fire
nor water, nor dreaded any of those other evils with which this life
is filled and which we dread too much continually.

Let those who are disposed to do so therefore extenuate original sin.
It plainly appears, and with awful certainty, both in sins and in the
punishment of them that original sin is great and terrible indeed.
Look only at lust. Is it not most mighty, both in concupiscence and in
disgust? And what shall we further say of hatred toward God and
blasphemies of all kinds? These are sad evidences of the fall, which
do indeed prove that the image of God in us is lost.

Wherefore when we now attempt to speak of that image we speak of a
thing unknown, an image which we not only have never experienced, but
the contrary to which we have experienced all our lives and experience
still. Of this image therefore all we now possess are the mere terms,
"the image of God!" These naked words are all we now hear and all we
know. But there was in Adam an illumined reason, a true knowledge of
God, and a will the most upright to love both God and his neighbor.
Hence Adam embraced his Eve, and immediately knew his own flesh. To
all these endowments were added others of less excellency, but
surpassingly excellent if compared with our present weakness. Adam had
a perfect knowledge of all nature, of animals, of herbs, of trees, of
fruits and of all other creatures.

When all these endowments are put together they do not compose a man
in whom you can at once behold the image of God shining forth, and
more especially so when to all these endowments you add "dominion"
over the whole creation. For as Adam and Eve acknowledged God to be
Lord, so afterwards they themselves held dominion over all creatures
in the air, on the earth and in the sea. Who can express in words the
excellency and majesty of this "dominion?" For my belief is that Adam
could by one word command the lion as we command a favorite dog. He
possessed a freedom of will and pleasure to cultivate the earth, that
it might bring forth whatever he wished. For the following chapters of
this book prove that there were at the time of which we are now
speaking neither thorns nor thistles, Chap. 3:18. Neither do I believe
that wild beasts were so savage and fierce as they are now.

But all these thorns and thistles, and this ferocity of beasts, are
the consequences of original sin, by which all the rest of the
creation contracted a corruption and a loss of its original
excellency. Hence it is my belief also that before the sin of Adam,
the sun was more bright, the water more pure, the trees more fruitful
and the earth more productive than since he fell. But through that
dreadful sin and that horrible fall, not only are the soul and the
body deformed by the leprosy of sin, but all things we use in this
life are corrupted; as we shall more plainly show hereafter.

Now the very intent of the gospel is to restore this image of God.
Man's intellect and will have indeed remained, but wholly corrupted.
The divine object of the gospel is that we might be restored to that
original and indeed better and higher image; an image, in which we are
born again unto eternal life, or rather unto the hope of eternal life
by faith, in order that we might live in God and with God and might be
"one" with him, as Christ so beautifully and largely sets it forth in
the seventeenth chapter of St. John.

Nor are we born again unto life only, but unto righteousness also,
because faith lays hold of the merit of Christ and sets us free
through the death of Christ. Hence arises another righteousness in us;
namely, that "newness of life," in which we study to obey God as
taught by the Word and helped by the Holy Spirit. This righteousness
however begins only in this life and can never be perfected in the
flesh. Nevertheless this newness of righteousness pleases God, not as
being perfect in itself nor as being any price for our sins, but
because it proceedeth from the heart and rests on a confidence in the
mercy of God through Christ. And further, through the Gospel comes
unto us this other blessing also conferred upon us through the Holy
Spirit, who resists in us unbelief, envy and other sins and
corruptions, to the intent that we may solemnly desire to adorn the
name of the Lord and his holy Word.

In this manner does the image of God begin to be restored in us
through the Gospel by this new creation in this life. But in this life
it is not perfected. When however it is perfected in the kingdom of
the Father, then will our will be truly free and good, our mind truly
illuminated and our memory constant and perfect. Then will it come to
pass also that all creatures shall be more subject unto us than ever
they were unto Adam in paradise.

Until all this shall be fulfilled in us, we shall never be able fully
to understand what that image of God was, which was lost by Adam in
paradise. This however which we now utter concerning it, faith and the
Word teach us, which discover unto us at a distance as it were the
glory of this image of God. But as the heaven and the earth "in the
beginning," were of rude unformed bodies, as we have shown before the
created light was added to them; so the godly possess within
themselves that unformed and imperfect image of God, which God will
perfect at the last day in those who believe his Word.

In conclusion therefore that image of God, in which Adam was created,
was excellent above all things, in which was included eternal life,
eternal security and all good. That image however is so marred and
obscured by sin that we cannot even in thought reach the comprehension
of it. For though we utter the words "the image of God," who is there
that can possibly understand what it is for a man to live a life of
security without fears and without perils, and to be wise, righteous,
good and free from all calamities or distresses either of soul or of
body? What was more than all this Adam was made capable of life
eternal. For he was so created that as long as he lived in this
corporeal life he might cultivate the earth not as doing a work of
trouble, nor as wearying his body with labor, but as enjoying an
employment of the highest pleasure; not as "deceiving or killing
time," as we say, but as performing a service to God and yielding an
obedience to his will.

This corporeal life was intended to be succeeded by a spiritual life,
in which man was not designed to use corporeal food and aliments nor
to perform any of those other things which he must necessarily do in
this natural life. But he was designed to live a life spiritual and
angelic. For such is the life eternal to come, described to us in the
holy Scriptures, a life in which we shall neither eat nor drink, nor
exercise any other corporeal functions. Hence Paul says, "The first
man Adam became a living soul," that is, he lives an animal life which
requires meat, drink, sleep, etc. But the apostle adds, "The last Adam
became a live-giving spirit," 1 Cor. 15:45. That is, he shall be a
spiritual man, in which state he shall return to the image of God; for
he shall be like unto God in life, righteousness, holiness, wisdom,
etc. It now follows in the sacred text:

V. 26b. _And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea,_ etc.

To man, the most beautiful of God's creatures, who possesses the
knowledge of God and is the image of God, in which image shines forth
the similitude of the divine nature in an enlightened reason, in
righteousness and in wisdom, is now assigned _"dominion."_ Adam and
Eve are made rulers of the earth, of the sea and of the air. This
dominion is not only committed to them by the design and counsel of
God, but by his expressed command. We must in the first place consider
this great matter in a negative and exclusive sense, that it is not
said to any beast that it should have any dominion. And in the next
place we must view the matter in an absolute sense, that all animals,
nay, the earth itself with all created living things and all generated
from them, are subjected to the dominion of Adam, whom God by his
vocal and expressed command constituted king over the whole animal
creation. For these are the words which both Adam and Eve heard when
God said, "And let them have dominion." Here therefore a naked man
without arms, without walls, nay, without any vestiture of his own
body, but standing alone in his own naked flesh, finds himself lord
over all birds, all wild beasts and all fishes, etc.

This portion of the divine image also we have utterly lost, so that
now we cannot even conceive in thought that fulness of joy and
pleasure which Adam must have felt at the sight of the whole animal
creation before him and at the sense he was lord of them all! For now
all things are full of leprosy and full of stupidity, and, as it were,
of death. For who can now reach even in thought a conception of that
portion of the divine image, which Adam and Eve possessed, by which
they understood all the affections, the senses, the feelings and the
powers of all the animals of the creation. And yet, what would have
been their dominion over all created animals without this knowledge?
There is indeed in this life a certain knowledge of God in the saints,
derived from the Word and the Holy Spirit. But that knowledge of all
nature, that understanding of the qualities of all trees and the
properties of all herbs, that clear discernment of the natures of all
beasts, these are endowments of our nature now utterly lost and

If therefore we would talk about a philosopher, let us talk about
Adam! Let us speak of our first parents, while they were as yet pure
and unfallen through sin! For Adam and Eve had the most perfect
knowledge of God. And how indeed could they be ignorant of him, whose
very image they possessed and felt in themselves! Moreover of the
stars also and of the whole science and system of astronomy they had
the most certain knowledge.

Moreover that all these endowments were enjoyed by Eve, as well as by
Adam, is quite manifest from the speech of Eve to the serpent, when
she answered him concerning the tree in the midst of paradise. From
this speech it appears evident that she knew the end for which she was
created, and she shows also the author from whom she had received that
knowledge, for her reply to the serpent was, "God hath said," Gen.
3:3. Eve therefore did not hear these things from Adam only, but she
was by nature so pure from sin and so full of the knowledge of God
that she saw and understood the Word of God for herself. As to us in
our present state we still possess indeed some certain dull and as it
were dead remnants of this knowledge. But all animals besides are
altogether void of such understanding. They know not their Creator nor
their origin nor their end; nor whence nor why they were created. No
other animals therefore possess anything whatever of this similitude
of God. Hence it is that the psalm contains this exhortation, "Be ye
not as the horse or as the mule which have no understanding," Ps.

Although therefore this image of God be almost wholly lost, there is
nevertheless still remaining a mighty difference between man and all
other animals of God's creation. But originally, before the sin of the
fall, the difference was far greater and far more illustrious; while
as yet Adam and Eve fully knew God and all his creatures, and were
wholly absorbed in the goodness, righteousness and worship of God.
Hence also there was between Adam and Eve themselves a singular unity
of minds and of wills. Nor was there in the whole world an object
sweeter to Adam or more beautiful in his eyes than his Eve! Nor is a
wife, as the heathen say, a necessary evil. And why call they a wife
an evil? The reason is manifest. They know nothing of the cause of
evil. It was Satan. He it was who thus marred and corrupted woman's
original nature.

The influence however which we now have over beasts in this life, the
use which we make of them, and the things we cause them to do are not
effected by that dominion which Adam possessed, but by industry and
art. Thus birds and fishes, as we see, are taken by deception and
stratagem; and beasts are tamed in various degrees by art. For those
animals which are the most domesticated as geese, fowls, etc., were of
themselves and by their own particular nature wild. This leprous
nature of ours therefore still retains, through the goodness of God,
some appearance of dominion over the other creatures. This dominion
however is very trifling indeed, and far, very far, beneath the
original dominion. For under that there was no need of art or
stratagem, to give man influence over the beast. Every creature was
put absolutely under a state of obedience to the voice of God when
Adam and Eve were commanded by that voice to have dominion over them.

We do retain therefore the name and the semblance and as it were the
naked title of the original dominion, but the reality itself is almost
wholly lost. Still it is good for us to know and to think upon this
state of things, that we may sigh after that day which shall come, in
which shall be restored unto us all things we lost by the sin of Adam
in paradise. For we look for that life which Adam also ever held in
expectation. And well indeed may we wonder and render thanks unto God,
as indeed we do, that we, so deformed by sin, so dull, so stupefied,
and so dead by it, should be enabled through the merits and benefits
of Christ to look with assurance for that same glory of a spiritual
life, which Adam might also have looked for with all assurance,
without the dying merits of Christ if he had remained unfallen in that
animal life which possessed the image of God.

V. 27a. _And God created man in his own image, in the image of God
created he him._

Observe that the term likeness is not here used by Moses, but "image"
only. Perhaps the sacred historian wished to avoid amphibology, too
extensive circumlocution, and therefore he merely repeated the term
image. I see no other cause for the repetition, unless we receive it
as intended for emphasis, and as designed to signify the joy and
triumph of the Creator in this most beautiful work of his hands. The
purpose of Moses was probably to represent God as not so much
delighted with any of, or with all, his other creatures as with man,
whom he created in his own likeness. For other animals are termed
traces of God, man alone is said to be the image of God. For in all
the other creatures God is known as by his footsteps only, but in man,
especially in Adam, he is known truly and fully; for in Adam is seen
that wisdom, righteousness and knowledge of all things, that he may
rightly be called a microcosm or little world in himself; for he
understands the heaven, the earth and the whole creation. God
therefore, as Moses would here represent, is delighted in his having
made so beautiful a creature.

Without doubt therefore, as God was so delighted with this his counsel
and workmanship in the creation of man, so he is now delighted in the
restoration of that his original glorious work, through his Son our
Deliverer, Jesus Christ. It is always profitable to consider that God
is always thinking thoughts of good, yea the best thoughts towards us,
Jer. 29:11, and that he is ever delighted with these his thoughts and
this his counsel in our restoration to a spiritual life, by the
resurrection from the dead of those who have believed in Christ.

V. 27b. _Male and female created he them._

Moses here mentions both sexes together. That woman might not appear
to be excluded from all the glory of the life to come. For woman seems
to be a creature somewhat different from man, in that she has
dissimilar members, a varied form and a mind weaker than man. Although
Eve was a most excellent and beautiful creature, like unto Adam in
reference to the image of God, that is with respect to righteousness,
wisdom and salvation, yet she was a woman. For as the sun is more
glorious than the moon, though the moon is a most glorious body, so
woman, though she was a most beautiful work of God, yet she did not
equal the glory of the male creature.

However Moses here joins the two sexes together and says that God
created them male and female for a further reason that he might
thereby signify that Eve also being alike created of God, alike with
Adam became thereby a partaker of the divine image and similitude, and
also of the dominion over all things. Hence woman is still a partaker
of the life divine to come, as Peter says, "As being heirs together of
the grace of life," 1 Pet. 3:7. In all domestic life also the wife is
a partaker in ruling the house and enjoys, in common with her husband,
the possession of the offspring of the property. There is nevertheless
a great difference between the sexes. The male is as the sun in the
heaven, the female as the moon, while the other animals are the stars,
over which the sun and the moon have influence and rule. The principal
thing to be remarked therefore in the text before us, that it is thus
written to show that the female sex is not excluded from all the glory
of the human nature, although inferior to the male sex. Of marriage we
shall speak hereafter.

In the second place this same text furnishes us with an argument
against Hilary and others, who wished to establish the doctrine that
God created all things at once. For by the present passage of holy
writ our interpretation is confirmed that the six days mentioned by
Moses were truly six natural days, because the divine historian here
affirms that Adam and Eve were created on the sixth day. This text
cannot be gainsaid. But concerning the order and manner of the
creation of man, Moses speaks in the following chapter, in which he
informs us that Eve was created a little after Adam, and that she was
not made from the dust of the ground, as Adam was, but from one of the
ribs of Adam, which God took from his side while asleep. These
therefore are temporal works; that is, works done at a certain time
and not all wrought at one moment, as were also the sacred facts "that
God brought every animal to Adam," and "that for Adam there was not
found an helpmeet for him," Chap. 2:19-20.

Many divines think also that it was on the sixth day that Adam sinned.
And therefore they hold the sixth day sacred on a twofold account,
because, as Adam sinned on the sixth day, so Christ also suffered for
sin on the sixth day. Whether these things really be so, I leave it to
them to settle as matters not fully known. Moses does affirm as a
certainty that man was created, and his wife also on the sixth day. My
thoughts on the matter, as I will hereafter show, are that it is much
more likely that Adam sinned on the seventh day, that is on the
Sabbath; just as on the Sabbath also Satan the most bitterly annoys
and torments the church while the Word of God is being preached. But
neither can Adam's sin having been on the Sabbath be clearly shown
from Moses. There are therefore, respecting both ways, "reasons
against reasons," as Cæsar Maximilian used to say. I leave these
doubtful things therefore to be settled by each one according to his
own judgment.

Lyra relates a Jewish fable, to which there is a reference in Plato,
that God originally created man in both sexes so that man and wife
were together in one body, but were divided or cut apart by the divine
power as the form of the back and spine seems to indicate. Others have
added more obscene trifles. But the second chapter overthrows and
refutes such lies. For should that be true how could it be written
that God took from Adam one of his ribs and built a woman out of it?
Such lies are found in the Talmud of the Jews and reference must be
made to them in order that we may see the maliciousness of Satan, who
suggests to men such absurd things.

Like this is the fable of Aristotle who calls woman a ............
man, _virum occasionatum_, and others call her a monster. But they
themselves are monsters and children of monsters, who calumniate and
ridicule such a creature of God, in whom God himself had delight, as
in the noblest of his works, and who as we saw was created by a
special counsel of God. We cite such heathenish and unbecoming things
to show that the human mind is unable to establish anything sure about
God or the works of God, but advances reasons against reasons,
"rationes contra rationes," neither does it teach anything perfectly
or fundamentally on these themes.

V. 28a. _And God blessed them; and God said unto them, Be fruitful,
and multiply,_ etc.

God did not utter this command to the other animals but to man and
woman only. Doubtless however all other animals are included in the
blessing: "Be fruitful."

This is the command of God to the creature added to his creation. But
O! good God! What have we here also lost by sin! How happy was that
state of man in which the generating of offspring was attended with
the highest reverence of God, with the highest wisdom and with the
purest knowledge of God! But the flesh is now so swallowed up with the
leprosy of lust that the body in the commerce of generation becomes
actually brute-like, and can by no means generate in the knowledge and
worship of God!

The progress of generation does indeed remain with human nature, but
it is lowered and weakened beyond description; and it is so absorbed
in lust that it differs little from the generation of the beast. To
all this are added the perils of gestation and parturition, the
difficulty of rearing children when born, and an infinity of other
evils; all which tend to impress us with the awfulness and magnitude
of original sin. The blessing of God on generation therefore which
still remains with human nature is a humbled and an accursed blessing,
if you compare it with that original blessing; and yet it is the
blessing of God, instituted of God himself, which he still preserves.
Wherefore let us acknowledge with gratitude and praise this blessing
of God which still remains, though thus deformed by sin. Let us feel
and confess that this inevitable leprosy of our flesh, which is all
mere disobedience to the will of God is the punishment of sin,
righteously inflicted of God. Let us wait however in hope for the
death of this leprous flesh, that we may be delivered from all this
filthiness and be restored to a perfection and glory, even far
exceeding the original creation of Adam!

V. 28b. _And have dominion over the fish of the sea,_ etc.

What use there was of beasts-of-burden, of fishes and of many other
animals in the primitive state of creation and of innocency, is
impossible for us clearly to determine, sunk as we are in ignorance of
God and of his creatures. What we now see is that we feed on various
kinds of flesh, on pulse, etc. Unless therefore these same things were
in the same use then, we know not why they should have been created,
but because we neither have nor see any other use for all these
creatures now. But Adam seems to have had no use, as we have now, for
those creatures, in addition to all that food which he had in
abundance from all the trees around him and from their fruits, which
were far nobler and richer than any we now possess or know. Nor could
he need raiment or money, who had all things under his immediate
dominion and power. Nor did he need to regard any avarice or
expectation in his posterity. Adam and Eve therefore being thus amply
provided with food, needed only to use these creatures to excite their
admiration and wonder of God, and to create in them that holiness of
pleasure, which we never can know in this state of the corruption of
our nature. But all things are quite the contrary now. For at the
present time, all the creatures together scarcely suffice for the
nourishment and gratification of man. And the case has been just the
same in all ages. Wherefore what this "dominion" of Adam "over the
fish of the sea" was, we cannot now conceive by any stretch of our

V. 29. _And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb yielding
seed,_ etc.

Here behold what anxious care God took of the man whom he had created.
He first created the earth or his dwelling-place in which he was to
live. He then ordained other things he judged to be necessary for his
life and subsistence. And when at length he had created man, for whom
he had made all these glorious preparations, he blesses him with the
gift and power of generation. And now he gives him food, that nothing
might be wanting for him to live most easily and most happily. But my
belief is that if Adam had continued in his original state of
innocency, children from their very birth would have rushed forth to
the enjoyment of those pleasures which the primitive creation
furnished in infinite abundance. But it is perhaps vain in us to
attempt to enumerate these utterly innumerable blessings, which are
all irretrievably lost to us in our present state of life, and of
which we cannot with all our thought form the least conception.

V. 30. _And every green herb,_ etc.

Moses here seems to make a difference between "seeds" and the "green
herb." Perhaps it is because the herb is the food of beasts, and the
seeds were designed to serve as food for man. For my belief is that
without doubt the seeds we now use for food were far more excellent in
paradise than they are at present. I have no doubt also that Adam
would have refused to taste those various kinds of flesh, than which
we have no food which we deem more sweet and delicious, in comparison
with the sweetness of the fruits of those trees, which grew naturally
in paradise, from the eating of which there did not proceed that
leprous fatness, which is the consequence of such food now, but a
healthfulness and beauty of body and a wholesome temperature of all
its humors.

Now all varieties of flesh do not satisfy man, nor all kinds of pulse
nor all kinds of grain. We continually endanger the health of our
bodies by a surfeit of food. I say nothing now of those worse than
beast-like sins, which are daily committed among us by an excessive
use of meat and drink. All this is evidently the curse of God, which
has followed upon original sin and has continued until now. And I
believe also that venomous and noxious beasts and reptiles first came
out of the earth as accursed for the sin of man.

But here a question may arise, how we are to reconcile the apparent
discrepancy that all the trees in the field are given to Adam to
enjoy, and yet that afterwards a signal part of the earth, which the
Scriptures call paradise, is assigned to him to till? Another question
may be, whether the whole original earth may be called paradise? etc.,
etc. But these things we will leave to our meditations upon the second

III. V. 31. _And God saw everything that he had made, and behold it
was very good. And there was evening and there was morning the sixth

After God had thus finished all his works, he here speaks after the
manner of one fatigued, as if he had said, "Behold I have now prepared
all things for man with all perfectness. I have prepared for him the
heaven as his canopy and the earth as his floor. His possessions and
his wealth are the animals with all the productions of the earth, the
sea and the air. The seeds, the roots and the herbs of the garden are
his food. Moreover I have made man the lord of all these things. And
he possesses the knowledge of me his God, and the use of all the
animals which I have created, all of which he can use as he will with
the greatest security, righteousness and wisdom. Nothing is wanting.
All things are created in the greatest abundance for the sustaining of
animal life. Now therefore I will rest! I will enjoy a Sabbath!"

But these things are almost wholly lost by sin, and we are at this day
like a carcass as it were of the first created man Adam; and we retain
but a shadow of the dominion which he possessed. Shall we not say then
that he has lost all things, who out of an immortal is become a
mortal, and out of a righteous man, a sinner? Out of one accepted of
God and grateful to God, cast off and condemned of God? For now man is
a sinner and mortal. If therefore these things do not, under divine
teaching, stir us up to the hope and expectation of a better day and a
better life to come, there is nothing that can stir us up to such hope
and expectation. Let these comments suffice for an explanation of this
first chapter of the book of Genesis. In the following chapter Moses
teaches us the nature of the work of this sixth day; how man was



I. V. 1. _And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the
host of them._

Our Latin rendering of the text before us is "and all the adornment of
them." In the original Hebrew the expression is ZEBAAM, the "host" or
"army" of them. The prophets have retained this same form of speaking
and of calling the stars and the planets, "the host or army of
heaven," as Jer. 19:13, where the Jews are represented as having
adored "all the host of heaven." And God says by the prophet
Zephaniah, "I will cut off them that worship the host of heaven upon
the housetops." In the same manner also Stephen testifies concerning
the children of Israel in the wilderness that God "gave them up to
worship the host of heaven," Acts 7:42.

The prophets borrowed these forms of speech from Moses, who in this
passage calls the stars and other luminaries of heaven by a military
term, calling them the host or the warning army of heaven. After a
similar mode of expression he calls men beasts and trees the host or
army of the earth. Perhaps this is in anticipation of the solemn
realities that were to come. For God afterwards calls himself also the
God of hosts or of armies; that is, not of angels and of spirits only,
but of the whole creation also, which was for him and serves him. For
ever since Satan was cast off by God for sin he has been filled with
such desperate hatred of God and of men that he would, if he could, in
one moment empty the sea of all its fishes and the air of all its
birds, strip the earth of all its fruits and utterly destroy all
things. But God has created all these creatures that they may be a
standing army as it were; that they might fight for us and our
subsistence against the devil and against men also, and thus serve us
and be to us an unceasing benefit.

V. 2. _And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made;
and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made._

Here cavillers raise a question of this nature: Moses says that God
"rested on the seventh day from the work he had made;" that is, that
he ceased on the seventh day to work: while Christ says on the other
hand, John 5:17, "My Father worketh hitherto, or until now, and I
work." The passage contained in Heb. 4:3, helps to explain the present
text, where it is written, "If they shall enter into My rest," not
indeed into the land of promise, but into "My rest."

My simple and plain reply to the above question is, that a solution of
any difficulty that may be raised is furnished by the present text
itself, when it says, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished."
The Sabbath or rest of the Sabbath here signifies that God so rested,
as not to have any further design of creating any other heaven and
earth. It does not signify that God ceased to preserve and govern the
heaven and the earth, which he had now created and finished.

Concerning the manner of the creation Moses gives us the fullest
information in the preceding chapter, that God created all things by
the Word! "Let the sea bring forth fishes;" "Let the earth bring forth
the green herb, the beast," etc., etc. And by the same Word, God also
said, "Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth." Now all
these words of God remain unto this present day. And therefore it is
that we see the multiplication of all these creatures go on without
cessation or end. Wherefore if the world were to last for a number of
years endless and infinite, the power and efficacy of these words
would never cease, but there would still be continued a multiplication
of all these creatures perpetual and endless by the mere infinite
power of this Word of God; this Word of the first creation and
foundation of all things, if I may so express the original and
originating Word.

The solution of the question now under consideration therefore is easy
and plain. "God rested on the seventh day from the work which he had
made;" that is, God was content with the earth and the heaven which he
had created by the Word. He created not nor intended to create new
heavens or new earths, nor new stars nor new trees. God nevertheless
still works. He "worketh hitherto," as Christ says above. He forsakes
not nature, which he once made "in the beginning;" but he preserves
and governs it to this day, by the power of his Word. He has ceased
from his creation-work, but he has not ceased from his
government-work. The human race began in Adam. In the earth began by
the Word the animal race, if I may so speak; in the sea, the race of
fishes; and in the air, the race of birds. But the human race did not
cease in Adam, nor did all other races cease in the first created
animals of their kind. The Word originally spoken upon the human race
still remains in all its power and efficiency. The word, "Be fruitful
and multiply," ceases not nor ever will cease, nor the words, "Let the
sea bring forth fishes," nor "Let the earth bring forth beasts and the
air birds." The omnipotent power and efficacy of the original Word
still preserves and governs the whole creation.

Most clearly therefore has Moses established the great truth, that "In
the beginning was the Word," John 1:1. And as all creatures still
increase and multiply, and are preserved and governed, still in the
same way as they were "in the beginning," it manifestly follows that
the Word still continues and lives, and that it is not dead! When
Moses says therefore, "And God rested on the seventh day from the work
which he had made," his words are not to be considered as having
reference to the general course and laws of nature nor to their
continuous preservation and government, but simply to the "beginning;"
that God ceased from creating, ordering and ordaining all things, as
we generally speak, and from creating any new creatures or new kinds
of animals, etc., etc.

With respect to Martin Luther before you. If you look at my individual
person I am a certain kind of new creature; because sixty years ago I
had no existence. This is the common thought and judgment of the
world. But the thought and judgment of God are far different. For in
God's sight I was begotten and commenced, being multiplied immediately
"from the beginning of the world." When God said, "Let us make man,"
he then created me also. For whatever God willed to create that he did
create when he spoke the word. All things did not then appear indeed
on a sudden before our existing eyes. For as the arrow or the ball
from the cannon, in which is the greatest velocity attached to the
works of men is in one moment directed to its mark, and yet does not
reach that mark without a certain interval and space between, so God
rushes, as it were by his Word, from "the beginning" to the end of the
world. For with God there is no before nor afterwards; no swift nor
slow; but all things to his eyes are at once present. For God is
simply absolutely independent of and alone, and separate from all

These words of God therefore, and God said, "Let there be," "increase
and multiply," etc., create, constitute and ordain all creatures, as
they were, as they now are, and as they will be unto the end of the
world. God has indeed ceased from creating new creatures. For he has
created no new heaven, no new earth. But as he originally willed the
sun and the moon to perform their courses, so have they continued to
perform them to this day. As God then filled the sea with fishes, the
heaven with fowls, and the earth with beasts and cattle, so have all
these parts of his will been fulfilled to this day; and so have they
all been preserved to this moment, as Christ said, "My Father worketh
hitherto and I work." For the Word, which God spoke in the beginning,
remaineth unto this day; as it is said with great majesty in Ps. 33:9,
"He spake and they were made."

But here sceptics and objectors will present a further question for
reply. How can it be true, say they, that God made no new thing, when
it is evident that the bow of heaven or the rainbow was created in the
time of Noah? And when also the Lord threatened after the fall of
Adam, that it should come to pass that the earth should bring forth
thorns and thistles? Which thorns and thistles the earth would not
have brought forth had Adam not sinned. Also concerning the serpent,
the same cavillers say, that reptile ought to creep along almost
upright with its head bending toward the earth; for when first created
they say it was doubtless upright, as crows and peacocks move now. We
readily acknowledge that this is indeed a new state of things, wrought
also by the Word.

It is moreover true that if Adam had not fallen by sin, there would
not have been that ferocity in wolves, lions and bears, which now
characterizes them. And most certainly also there would have been
nothing in the whole creation noxious or annoying to man. For the text
before us plainly declares that all things God had created were "very
good." Whereas now, how numberless are the annoyances by which we are
surrounded? To how many and how great distresses, especially of
diseases, is the body itself subject? I will say nothing about fleas,
flies, gnats, spiders, mosquitoes, etc. What a host of dangers
threaten us continually from the greater ferocious and venomous

Although there had been none of these new or altered things after the
creation, our sceptic objectors can surely believe that there was one
glorious and marvellous "new thing," Is. 7:14, "that a virgin should
bring forth a Son, the Son of God!" God therefore did not in the
seventh day cease to work in every sense, but he works still, not only
in preserving his whole creation, but also in altering and new-forming
the creature; wherefore that which we said above, that God ceased on
the seventh day from creating new orders of things is not to be
understood as true absolutely and in every sense.

But we further reply to our cavillers that Moses is here speaking of
nature in its yet uncorrupted state. If therefore man had stood
unfallen in the innocency in which he was first created, no thorns nor
thistles would have existed, no disease would have been known nor any
violence of beasts feared. This is manifest from the case of Eve; she
talks with the serpent without any fear whatever, and as we should do
with an innocent little bird or with a favorite little dog. Nor have I
any doubt that the serpent was an exquisitely beautiful creature and
gifted with the peculiar excellency of having the highest praise for
marvellous cunning, though then innocent cunning, even as foxes and
weazels have that name among us now.

Wherefore when Adam was as yet holy and innocent, all the animals of
the creation dwelt and associated with him in the highest pleasure,
being prepared to render him every kind of service gladly. Nor would
there have ever been known, if Adam had thus continued sinless, any
fear of a flood, nor would there consequently have ever existed a
rainbow in the heavens. But sin caused God to alter many things and
otherwise order them. And at the last day there will be an alteration
and a renewal far greater still of that whole creation, which as Paul
says is now by reason of sin, "subject to vanity," Rom. 8:20.

Finally therefore, when Moses here says that "God rested on the
seventh day," he is speaking with reference to the condition of the
world, as originally created; meaning that while as yet there was no
sin nothing new was created, that there were no thorns nor thistles,
no serpents nor toads, and if there were such they possessed no
venomous properties nor any inclination to harm. Moses speaks in this
manner concerning the creation of the world, while yet in its state of
perfection, unpolluted and unmarred by sin. It was then a world
innocent and pure, because man was innocent and pure. But now, as man
is no longer the same being, so the world is no longer the same world.
Upon the fall of man followed corruption and upon this corruption the
curse of the now corrupt creation. "Cursed is the ground," said God to
Adam, "for thy sake! Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth unto
thee!" Gen. 3:17, 18. Thus on account of one accursed Cain--sin, is
the whole earth accursed! So that now even when tilled it does not put
forth its original virtue. After this upon the sins of the whole world
is poured the flood over the whole earth, and the human race
throughout the whole world is destroyed, a few righteous persons only
being saved lest the promise concerning Christ should fail of being
fulfilled. And as it is manifest to us all that the earth is thus
deformed by sin, so my belief is, as I have before said, that the
light of the sun, when first created, and before the sin of Adam, was
far more pure and more bright than it is now.

It is a common saying of divines in all theological schools, "Clearly
distinguish times and you will harmonize all the Scriptures."
Wherefore we must speak far otherwise concerning the world, under its
present wretched corruption, by which it has been marred through the
sin of Adam, than concerning the world when as yet it was in its state
of original purity and perfection. Let us take an example still in our
sight and knowledge. Those who have visited the "land of promise" in
our day affirm, that there is nothing in it like unto that
commendation of it which we have in the holy Scriptures. In
confirmation of these statements a citizen of Stolberg, after having
visited Palestine and surveyed with all possible diligence of
observation, declared that he considered his own field in Germany a
far more delightful spot. For on account of the sin, wickedness and
ungodliness of men it is reduced to a positive pickle-tub, to "a salt
land not inhabited;" so actually is the very essence of the curse of
God upon it fulfilled, as it is said, Gen. 3:17, 18; Ps. 107:34. Thus
Sodom also before it was destroyed by fire from heaven was a certain
paradise, a garden of the Lord, Gen. 13:10. Thus does the curse of God
generally follow sin, and that curse so changes things, that from the
best they become the worst. Moses therefore, we repeat, is here
speaking concerning the state of all creatures in their original
perfection; as they were before the sin of man. For if man had not
sinned, all beasts and every other creature would have remained in
obedience to him until God should have translated him from paradise,
or from earth to heaven. But after his sin, all things were changed
for the worse.

According to these expressions therefore the solution given by us
above to all sceptics, cavillers and objectors stands good, that God
in six days finished his work, and that on the "seventh day" he rested
from all his work which he had made; that is, that he ceased from
ordaining the certain orders of things, and that then, whatsoever he
willed afterwards to work, he did work. But God did not say
afterwards, "Let there be a new earth;" "Let there be a new sea," etc.
With respect to that wonderful "new thing;" that, after the creation
was finished, the virgin Mary brought forth the Son of God, it is
indeed manifest that God made our calamity, into which we had fallen
by sin, the cause of this marvellous blessing. But God so wrought even
this mighty work that he showed beforehand that he would, by his Word,
do this glorious work also; even as he has also signified in his Word,
that he will by the same Word do other marvelous things.

Thus have we replied then to these questions of all cavilling
objectors concerning God's having finished the heavens and the earth
and concerning his having made other things new afterwards. We must
continue this explanation to learn what this Sabbath or rest of God
is, and also in what manner God sanctified the Sabbath, as the sacred
text declares.

II. V. 3. _And God blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it, because
that in it he rested from all his work which God had created and

Christ says, Mark 2:27, that "the Sabbath was made for man, and not
man for the Sabbath." But Moses says nothing here about man. He does
not even say positively that any commandment concerning the Sabbath
was given to man. But what Moses here says is that God blessed the
Sabbath and sanctified it to himself. It is moreover to be remarked
that God did this to no other creature. God did not sanctify to
himself the heaven nor the earth nor any other creature. But God did
sanctify to himself the seventh day. This was especially designed of
God, to cause us to understand that the "seventh day" is to be
especially devoted to divine worship. For that which is appropriated
to God and exclusively separated from all profane uses is sanctified
or holy. Hence the expression "to sanctify," "to choose for divine
uses or for the worship of God," is often applied by Moses to the
sacred vessels of the sanctuary.

It follows therefore from this passage, that if Adam had stood in his
innocence and had not fallen he would yet have observed the "seventh
day" as sanctified, holy and sacred; that is, he would have taught his
children and posterity on that day concerning the will and worship of
God; he would have praised God, he would have given him thanks, and
would have brought to him his offerings, etc., etc. On the other days
he would have tilled his land and attended to his cattle. Nay, even
after the fall he held the "seventh day" sacred; that is, he taught on
that day his own family. This is testified by the offerings made by
his two sons, Cain and Abel. The Sabbath therefore has, from the
beginning of the world, been set apart for the worship of God. In this
manner nature in its innocency, had it continued unfallen, would have
proclaimed the glory and blessings of God. Men would have talked
together on the Sabbath day concerning the goodness of their Creator,
would have prayed to him, and would have brought to him their
offerings, etc. For all these things are implied and signified in the
expression "sanctified."

Moreover in this same sanctification of the Sabbath is included and
implied the immortality of the human race. Hence the Epistle to the
Hebrews speaks most beautifully concerning the rest of God, from the
95th Ps.: "If they shall enter into my rest." For the rest of God is
an eternal rest. Adam therefore, had he not fallen, would have lived a
certain time in paradise, according to the length of time which God
pleased; and afterwards he would have been carried away into that rest
of God, which rest God willed not only to intimate unto man, but
highly to commend unto him by this sanctification of the Sabbath. Thus
had Adam not fallen his life would have been both animal and happy,
and spiritual and eternal. But now we miserable men have lost all this
felicity of the animal life by sin; and while we do live, we live in
the midst of death. Yet since this command of God concerning the
Sabbath is left to the Church, God signifies thereby that even that
spiritual life shall be restored to us through Christ. Hence the
prophets have all diligently searched into these passages, in which
Moses obscurely indicates also the resurrection of the flesh and the
life immortal.

Further by this sanctification of the Sabbath it is also plainly shown
that man was especially created for the knowledge and worship of God.
For the Sabbath was not instituted on account of sheep or oxen, but
for the sake of men, that the knowledge of God might be exercised and
increased by them on that sacred day. Although therefore man lost the
knowledge of God by sin, yet God willed that his command concerning
the sanctifying of the Sabbath should remain. He willed that on the
seventh day both the Word should be preached, and also those other
parts of his worship performed, which he himself instituted; to the
end that by these appointed means we should first of all think
solemnly on our condition in the world as men; that this nature of
ours was created at first expressly for the knowledge and the
glorifying of God; and also that by these same sacred means we might
hold fast in our minds the sure hope of a future and eternal life.

Indeed all things which God willed to be done on the Sabbath are
evident signs of another life after this present life. For what need
would there be of God's speaking to us by his Word, if we were not
designed to live another and eternal life after this life? And if no
future life is to be hoped for by us, why do we not live as those
other creatures with whom God talketh not and who have no knowledge of
God? But as the divine Majesty talketh with man alone, and he alone
acknowledges and apprehends God, it necessarily follows that there is
for us another life after this life, to which it is our great business
to attain by the Word and the knowledge of God. For as to this
temporal and present life it is a mere animal life as all the beasts
live, which know not God nor the Word.

This then is the meaning of the Sabbath or the "rest" of God. It is a
sanctified day of rest, on which God speaks to or talks with us, and
we in turn speak to and talk with him in prayer and by faith. The
beasts indeed learn to hear and also to understand the voice of man,
as dogs, horses, sheep, oxen; and they are also preserved and fed by
man. But our condition as men is far better and higher; for we both
hear God and know his will, and are called to a sure hope of
immortality. This is testified by those most manifest promises
concerning the life eternal, which God has plainly revealed to us by
his Word, since he gave to the world the obscure significations
contained in this divine Book; such as this rest of God and this
sanctification of the Sabbath. However these indications concerning
the Sabbath are not obscure but evident and plain. For only suppose
for a moment that there were no eternal life after this. Would it not
immediately follow that we should have no need either of God or his
Word? For that which we merely require or do in this life we can have
and do without the Word of God. Even as beasts feed, live and grow fat
without the Word. For what need is there of the Word to procure meat
and drink, thus created for us beforehand?

As God therefore thus giveth us the Word, as he thus commands the
preaching and exercising of the Word, as he thus commands the
sanctifying of the Sabbath in the worship of himself, all these things
prove that there remaineth another life after this life, and that man
is created not to a corporeal life only, as the beasts are, but to a
life eternal, even as God, who commands and institutes these things,
is himself eternal.

But here another inquiry may arise concerning the fall of Adam itself,
upon which indeed we have already touched: On what day Adam fell,
whether on the seventh or on some other day? Although nothing indeed
can be said as certain on this matter, my free and full opinion is
that his fall was on the seventh day. It was on the sixth day that he
was created. And Eve was created about the evening or close of the
sixth day, while Adam was asleep. On the seventh day, which by the
Lord had been sanctified, God talks with Adam, gives him commandment
concerning his worship, and forbids him to eat the fruit of the tree
of knowledge of good and evil. For this indeed was the appropriate
work or duty of the seventh day: the preaching and the hearing of the
Word of God. Hence both from the Scriptures and from universal
practice, hath remained the custom of appointing the morning as the
time for prayer and sermons; as we have it also in the Psalms: "In the
morning will I stand before Thee, and will look up," Ps. 5:3.

On the seventh day therefore, in the morning, Adam appears to have
heard the Lord giving commandment concerning his domestic and national
duty, the private and public worship of God, together with the
prohibition concerning the fruit of the tree. Satan therefore unable
to endure this most beautiful creation of man and this holy
appointment of the Sabbath, and envying him so much felicity, and
moreover seeing all things so abundantly provided for him on earth,
and finding him in the possession of the hope of enjoying, after so
happy a corporeal life, an eternal life, which he himself had lost,
Satan seeing all this about the twelfth hour, perhaps after God's
sermon to Adam and Eve, himself preaches to Eve. Just as he has always
done to this day. Wherever the Word of God is, there he attempts also
to sow lies and heresies. For it agonizes him that we by the Word
become as Adam did in paradise, citizens of heaven. So Satan on this
occasion tempts Eve to sin, and gains the victory over her. The sacred
text before us moreover declares that when the heat of the day had
subsided, the Lord came into the garden and condemned Adam with all
his posterity to death. I am myself quite persuaded that all these
things took place on the very day of the Sabbath, which one day only,
and that not for the whole day, Adam lived in paradise, and enjoyed
himself in eating its fruits.

By sin therefore did man lose all this felicity. Nor would Adam, had
he remained in paradise in all his original innocence, have lived a
life of idleness. He would have taught his children on the Sabbath
day, he would have magnified God with worthy high-praises by public
preaching, and he would have stirred up himself and others to
offerings of thanks, by a contemplation of God's great and glorious
works. On all other days he would have worked by tilling his ground
and attending to his beasts, etc. But in a manner and from motives now
wholly unknown to man. For all our labor is annoyance, but all Adam's
labor was the highest pleasure, a pleasure far exceeding all the ease
that is now known. Hence as all the other calamities of life remind us
of sin and the wrath of God, so our labor and all our difficulty in
procuring food ought to remind us of sin also and to drive us to

Moses now proceeds to describe man more particularly, repeating first
of all what he had said concerning his creation in the first chapter.
And though the recapitulations may seem superfluous, yet as the divine
historian wishes to maintain a continuation of his history, with all
due convenience and order, the repetition is by no means useless.

V. 4, 5a. _These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth
when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made earth and
heaven. And no plant of the field was yet in the earth, and no herb of
the field had yet sprung up._

"In the day" is here to be taken for an indefinite time, as if Moses
had said, At that time the state of all things was most beautiful; but
now I must describe a condition of things far different. We need not
here inquire however in a superstitious manner, why Moses chose to use
these rustic forms of expression concerning "the plants of the field"
and "herbs of the field." For his object now is to describe the
creation of man in its more circumstantial particulars.

V. 5b, 6. _For Jehovah God had not caused it to rain upon the earth:
and there was not a man to till the ground; but there went up a mist
from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground._

There was not as yet any rain, Moses says, to water the earth; but a
certain mist went up and watered the whole face of the earth, to cause
it to bring forth more abundantly afterwards. Now these things belong
properly to the third day.

III. V. 7. _And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and
breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living

Moses here returns to the work of the sixth day and shows whence this
cultivator of the earth came; namely, that God formed him out of the
ground, as the potter forms in his hand the vessel out of clay. Hence
Moses does not represent Jehovah God as saying in this case as in that
of all the other creatures, "Let the earth bring forth man;" but "Let
Us make man." He describes God as thus speaking in this case in order
that he might set forth the excellency of the human race, and that he
might make manifest that peculiar counsel to which God had recourse in
creating or making man. However after his creation man grew and
multiplied as all the other animals and beasts of the earth multiply.
For the seed of all animals coagulates in the womb and is formed in
the same manner in them all. In this case of generation there is no
difference between the foetus formed in the cow and that formed in the
woman. But with reference to their first creation Moses testifies that
there was the greatest possible difference. For he shows in this
divine record that the human nature was created by a peculiarity of
divine counsel and wisdom, and formed by the very finger of God.

This difference, which God made in the original creation of man and of
cattle, likewise manifests forth the immortality of the soul, of which
we spoke above. And though all the other works of God are full of
wonder and admiration and truly magnificent, yet that man is the most
excellent and glorious creature of all is evident from the fact that
God in creating him had recourse to deep counsel and to a mode
entirely different from that which he adopted in creating all the
other creatures. For God does not leave it to the earth, to form or
bring forth man, as it brought forth beasts and trees. But God forms
man himself, "in the image" of himself, as a participator of the
divine nature and as one designed to enjoy the rest of God. Hence Adam
before he is formed by Jehovah, is a mere lifeless lump of earth,
lying on the ground. God takes that lump of earth into his hand and
forms out of it a most beautiful creature, a partaker of immortality.

Now if Aristotle were to hear these things he would burst out into a
loud laugh and would say, that the whole matter was a fable; a very
pleasant one indeed but a very absurd one; that man, who was a lump of
earth as to his original, is so formed by divine wisdom to be capable
of immortality. For those ancient philosophers, as Socrates and
others, who taught the immortality of the soul, were laughed at and
almost cast out by all their fellows. But is it not the very extremity
of folly for reason to take this great offense, when it beholds the
generation of man to this very day full of greatest wonder! For who
would not judge it an absurdity to suppose that man, who is designed
to live eternally, should be born from one single drop as it were of
seed from the loins of the father? There is even a greater apparent
absurdity in this than in Moses saying, that man was formed from a
lump of earth by the finger of God. But by all this folly reason
plainly shows that she understands nothing of God, who, by the
efficacy of a single thought, thus makes out of a lump of earth not
only the seed of man, but man himself; and makes also, as Moses
afterwards says, the woman out of a single rib of the man. This then
is the origin of man!

Man therefore having been thus created, male and female, from their
blood under the divine blessing is generated the whole human race. And
although this generation is common to man and beasts, that similarity
by no means detracts from the glory of our original formation; that we
are vessels of God, fashioned by his own hand; that he is our potter
and we his clay; as Isaiah speaks in his 64th chapter. Nor does this
solemn state of things pertain to our original only, but pervades our
whole life, and even unto death and in the tomb we are still the clay
of this Potter!

From this same creation of man also we may learn, what the real power
of free will is, of which our adversaries boast so much. We have
indeed in a certain sense a free will, in those things which are put
under us. For we are by the command of God appointed lords of the
fishes of the sea, of the fowls of heaven and of the beasts of the
field. These we kill when we please. We enjoy the food, and other
blessings they supply. But in the things pertaining unto God, which
are above us and not put under us, man has no free-will at all. But he
is in reality as clay in the hand of the potter. He is placed under
the mere power of God, passively and not actively. In this our real
position we choose nothing, we do nothing. On the contrary we are
chosen, we are prepared, we are regenerated; we receive only; as the
prophet Isaiah saith, "Thou art our potter; we are thy clay," Is.

But here a lawful and holy inquiry of a new description may be made.
As Moses speaks of the creation of man here in a new phraseology, "And
Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground;" and as he did not
use the same form of expression above, when the other living creatures
were created, so he here mentions a further distinction in man which
is not said of any other animate creature: "And God breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life." This Moses does not say in reference to
any of the beasts, though all beasts, as well as man, have the breath
of life in their nostrils. We may here therefore sacredly inquire
first, why it is that Moses is here led to speak thus. And secondly,
why it is recorded in this place concerning man only, that God
"breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a
living soul," when all animals throughout the whole Scripture are
called "living creatures." The divine expressions recorded by Moses
above are, "Let the earth bring forth every living creature after his
kind." But here the phraseology is altogether changed, "And man became
a living soul."

These were the things that, doubtless, moved the patriarchs, the holy
fathers and prophets of old, to examine diligently passages of this
description in order to discover what these singular forms of speech
might signify, being assured that the sacred historian intended by
them something peculiar and great and especially worthy of knowledge.

For if you look at the mere animal life of which Moses is here
speaking, there is no difference between the man and the ass. For the
animal life in both stands in need of meat and drink. It needs sleep
and rest. The bodies of both grow and are fattened alike by meat and
drink. And from the want of meat and drink both waste and perish
alike. In both the stomach receives the food and transmits it when
digested to the belly, which generates the blood, by which all the
members are refreshed and restored. When we consider these things in
themselves, I say, there is no difference between the man and the
beast. But Moses in this place so exalts the life of man that he says
of him alone of all animals, that he "became a living soul;" not a
living creature or a living thing like all the beasts of the earth,
but in a more exalted sense "a living soul;" and that, because he was
created "in the image of God," which image there can be no doubt
whatever, shone with a peculiar brightness in the countenances of Adam
and Eve, while yet in their state of innocence. Hence it is that even
after the sin and fall, the heathen poets, etc., concluded from the
position of his body, from his upright carriage and from the elevation
of his eyes to heaven, that man was a creature far more excellent than
any other creature in existence.

It is to this surpassing excellency that St. Paul refers when he
recites the passage before us in 1 Cor. 15:45. It is there written,
"The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a
life-giving spirit." By a living soul in this passage the apostle
means the animal life, which consists in eating, drinking, growing,
sleeping, generating, etc.; all which are found also in brutes. But by
an antithesis he says that "the last Adam was made a life-giving
spirit." This is a life which needs not, and knows not, the conditions
of the animal life. Paul moreover here teaches us that Adam, even if
he had not sinned, would yet have lived a corporeal life; a life which
would have needed meat, drink and rest; a life which would have grown,
increased and generated, etc., until God should have translated him to
that spiritual life, in which he would have lived without natural
animality, if I may so express it; namely, a life from within, derived
from God alone; and not a life from without as before, sustained by
herbs and fruits. And yet he would have been a man with body and
bones, etc., and not a pure spirit, as angels are.

My reply therefore to the new inquiry, above admitted, is this: God by
the mouth of Moses speaking in the passage before us designed to set
forth the hope of that future and eternal life which Adam, if he had
continued in his innocency, would have enjoyed after this present
animal life. As if Moses had said, Man became a living soul; not
merely in the sense of that life which beasts live, but in the sense
of that life which God afterwards designed Adam to live, even without
any animal life at all. And this same hope of immortality or an
immortal life, we now have through Christ. Although on account of sin
we are subject to death and all kinds of calamity. But Adam's natural
life, when he became a living soul, was designed to be far exalted
above that which we now live since the fall. He would have lived on
earth sweetly, happily and with the highest pleasure; and then would
have been translated at the time determined in the mind of God, out of
the animal life into the spiritual and eternal life; and that
translation would have been attended with no pain or trouble whatever.
Whereas we are not translated out of this animal life into the life
spiritual and eternal, but by death; and that, after an infinity of
evils, perils and crosses.

It was after this manner that we ought, like the holy prophets,
diligently to look into all these expressions of Moses, and to inquire
why it is that, with such depth of purpose and design, he speaks
concerning man in terms so different from those he used when speaking
of all other living creatures. The design evidently was that our faith
and hope of immortality might be confirmed, and that we might be
assured that although the life of man as to his animal life is like
that of all other living creatures, even of brutes, yet that he
possesses a hope of immortality unpossessed by, and wholly unknown to,
any other living creature; that he possesses and bears the image and
similitude of God, with no particle of which any other animal is
dignified or favored.

And thus by a most beautiful allegory, or rather by a most excellent
figure, Moses here intimates, though obscurely, that God would become
incarnate. For with reference to man's differing in no respect from a
sheep, as to his animal life, though created in the image and after
the similitude of God; that assertion is in fact, a kind of statement
by contraries, as they term it in the schools; or, according to
another term of theirs, an addition by opposition. And yet as man was
created in the image of the invisible God, by this sublime fact is
signified in obscure figure, as we shall hereafter hear from Moses,
that God would reveal himself in this world in the _Man_, _Christ_.
These seeds as it were of the greatest and most marvelous things, did
the prophets diligently search out and gather from the divine
historian Moses.


I. V. 8. _And Jehovah God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there
he put the man whom he had formed._

Here rises before us a whole sea of questions concerning paradise. In
the first place, the word itself, whether it be Hebrew, Chaldean or
Persian, for I do not think it is Greek, though Suidas endeavors to
discover a Greek origin, is rendered by the Latins _hortus_, "a
garden." This garden, Moses says, was planted BE EDEN, in Eden. For
this name of the place is not appellative or descriptive, as our
translation renders it, "paradise of pleasure." EDEN does, indeed,
signify pleasure or delight, and from this name of the garden is
doubtless formed the Greek word adona, but the preposition being here
added to it plainly proves that Eden is in this place to be taken for
the proper name of a place; which is further proved by the particular
description of the place, for the garden is said to have been to the
eastward of it. Our translation renders it _a principio_, "from the
beginning," which is also a bad version of the expression. For the
original term is MIKKEDEM, which does not properly signify "from the
beginning," but "in front," that is according to our mode of
expression and meaning, "toward the East." For the original word is an
adverb of place, not of time.

Hence there arises here another matter of dispute, as to where
paradise is. Commentators puzzle and rack themselves on this point in
an extraordinary manner. Some will have its situation to be under the
equator between the two tropics. Others say it must have been a more
temperate atmosphere, to cause a place to be so richly and abundantly
productive. But why should I proceed? Opinions upon the subject are
beyond number. My short and simple reply to them all is, that every
question upon a place or thing which no longer exists, is idle and
useless. For Moses is here describing things which occurred before the
Flood and even before sin was in the world. Whereas, we have to deal
with things as they were and are since the sin of Adam and since the

My belief is therefore that this spot of earth was called Eden, either
by Adam or in the time of Adam, on account of that astonishing
productiveness and that delightful pleasurableness, which Adam
experienced in it, and that the name of a place so delightful,
remained with posterity long after the place itself was lost and gone.
Just as the names of Rome, Athens and Carthage exist among us at this
day, though scarcely any traces of those mighty states and kingdoms
can now be discovered.

For time and the curse which sins merit consume all things. When
therefore the world with all the men and beasts upon it was destroyed
by the Flood, this noble and beautiful garden perished also, and all
traces of it were washed away from the face of the earth. In vain
therefore do Origen and others enter upon their absurd disputations.
The text moreover says that this garden was guarded by an angel, lest
any one should enter it. Even if this garden therefore had not
perished by the curse which followed, as doubtless it did, yet man's
entrance into it is thus absolutely and forever prevented, as is
indicated by the guardian angel's flaming sword. Its place can nowhere
be found. This latter answer concerning the curse might be given to
all questioners and disputers, though the former argument concerning
the inevitable consequences of the Deluge, I deem less imaginative and
more conclusive.

But what shall we say to that text of the New Testament, "Today shalt
thou be with me in paradise," Luke 23:43? And to that passage also,
"He was caught up into paradise," 2 Cor. 12:4? I have no hesitation
whatever in affirming that Christ did not go with the thief into any
corporeal place. For that point is made quite plain from the case of
Paul, who says, "that he knew not whether he was in the body, or out
of the body," verses 2 and 3. Wherefore my opinion is that in each
case by paradise is meant that condition or state in which Adam was,
when in paradise, full of peace and rest and safety, and full of all
those gifts of blessedness, which are enjoyed where there is no sin
and no death. As if Christ had said, today shalt thou be with me in
paradise, free from sin, and safe from death. Just as Adam in Paradise
was free from sin and from all death and from all curse. Thus I
believe paradise to be a paradise state. Just as the Scriptures, when
speaking of the bosom of Abraham, does not mean the very fold of the
robe which covered the bosom of Abraham, but descriptively that life
or state of life in which the souls of the departed enjoy the heavenly
life, and the peace and rest which "remain for the people of God,"
Heb. 4:9.

Wherefore my testimony concerning this text is, that Moses is here
giving us an historical description and informing us that there was a
certain place toward the East, in which there was a most beautiful and
fruitful garden. For, as I have before said, the Hebrew expression
MIKKEDEM properly signifies a place, not a time, as our version
improperly renders it. Hence it is usual with the Hebrews to call the
East wind KADIM, a dry cold wind which parches the fields. In that
region of the world therefore was paradise or a garden, in which there
were no teil-trees, nor oaks, nor scarlet-oaks, nor any other trees
that were barren, but the richest and noblest fruits of every kind and
trees of the noblest description; such as we now deem those to be
which bear cinnamon and the richest spices. And although all the rest
of the earth was cultivated, for there were as yet no thistles nor
thorns, yet this place had its far higher cultivation. This Eden was a
delightful garden, exceeding in cultivation and fecundity the whole
earth besides. Though all the rest of the earth, if compared with its
present miserable condition, was itself a paradise.

It was in this garden, which he himself had planted with such peculiar
care, that the Lord placed man. All these things, I say, are
historical. It is idle for us therefore to inquire at the present day,
where or what that garden was. The rivers, of which Moses afterwards
speaks, prove that the region of its situation comprehended Syria,
Mesopotamia, Damascus and Egypt, and it is in the midst of these as it
were that Jerusalem is situated. And as this garden was destined for
Adam with his posterity, it is in vain for us to imagine it to have
been a confined garden of a few miles extent. It was doubtless the
greater and better part of the earth. And my judgment is, that this
garden continued until the Deluge; and that before the Flood it was
protected by God himself, according to the description of Moses, by a
guard of angels. So that I believe it to have been a place well known
to the posterity of Adam, though inaccessible to them. And my opinion
is, that it continued thus known until the Flood utterly destroyed it
and left no traces of it remaining. Such is my mind on this subject.
And such is my reply to all questions which over curious men would
move concerning a place, which after the sin and the Deluge had no
longer any existence or trace of former existence.

Origen however is dissatisfied with any view of the extent of the
garden of Eden, corresponding to that which I have taken. His opinion
is that the distance of the rivers ought by no means to determine the
dimensions of the garden. But he is thinking all the time about such
gardens as we now generally cultivate. Hence he has recourse in his
usual way to an allegory. He makes paradise to represent heaven; the
trees, angels; and the streams of rivers, wisdom. But these triflings
are unworthy a divine. They may perhaps not be unbecoming an
imaginative poet; but they are out of place in a theologian. Origen
bears not in mind that Moses is here writing a history; and that, too,
a record of things, now long ago passed away.

After this same fashion do our adversaries absurdly dispute at the
present day holding that the image and similitude of God still remain,
even in a wicked man. They would, in my judgment speak much nearer the
truth, if they were to say that the image of God in man has perished
and disappeared; just as the original world and paradise have done.
Man in the beginning was righteous; the world in the beginning was
most beautiful. Eden was in truth a garden of delight and of pleasure.
But all these things were deformed by sin and remain deformed still.
All creatures, yea even the sun and the moon, have as it were put on
sackcloth. They were all originally "good," but by sin and the curse
they became defiled and noxious. At length came the greater curse of
the Flood, which destroyed paradise and the whole human race, and
swept them from the face of the earth. For if at this day rivers,
bursting their banks, inflict by their floods such mighty calamities
on men, beasts and fields, what must we suppose to have been the
awfulness and horror of the calamities brought upon the earth by the
universal Deluge! Whenever therefore we would speak of paradise, since
the Flood, let us speak of that now historical paradise, which was
once, but now has no longer existence in any trace. Let us speak of it
just as we are compelled to speak of the original innocence of man. In
doing so our utmost effort can effect no more than to reflect with a
sigh that it is lost, and that we never can repair or regain it in
this life.

But further, as Moses had before distinguished man in various ways
from the brutes, which nevertheless have the same origin as we have,
brutes being formed like us from the earth; so the divine historian in
this place distinguishes man from every other creature by giving a
description of that peculiarly delightful garden, and that superb
dwelling-place, which God had planted with great care and culture, and
prepared with magnificent splendor, far beyond anything of the kind
which he had bestowed on any other spot upon the face of the earth at
that time.

For the principal object of Moses in his sacred record of the creation
of man was to cause it to be clearly understood that man was by far
the noblest and most excellent creature, which God had made. The brute
animals had the earth, on the grass of which they might feed. But for
man, God himself prepared a more noble dwelling-place, in the
cultivation and adorning of which he might labor with extreme
pleasure, and in which he might find his food, separated from the
beasts indeed, but nevertheless holding all of them throughout the
whole earth under his dominion.

Therefore Origen, Jerome and all the other allegorists are alike
involved in the greatest folly, who because they can no longer find a
paradise on the face of the earth think that some other sense than the
natural one is to be given in its interpretation. But that there was a
paradise and that there is a paradise are two very different subjects
for consideration. Moses, as is the general nature of all such
narrations, merely records that there was a paradise. The case is the
same in reference to Adam's dominion over all the beasts. He could
call the lion, and command and manage him, according to his will and
pleasure; but it is not so now. All these glorious things are no more.
They are simply and merely, though sacredly, recorded by Moses as
having been in the beginning.

Another question is here agitated, as to the spot of the earth where
God created man. There are some who maintain with great warmth that he
was created in or near Damascus; because they find it recorded that
the soil of Damascus is red and fertile. But I pass by all idle and
vain inquiries of this description. It is enough for us to know that
man was formed out of the earth on the sixth day after all the other
animals had been created, and that he was placed by God himself in the
garden of Eden. But as to the very spot on which he was created, what
necessity is there for our knowing that? It is certain that he was
created out of paradise. For the text before us declares that he was
removed to or placed in paradise, before Eve was created who, as Moses
here shows, was created in paradise.

Now let us proceed to that which follows:

V. 9a. _And out of the ground made Jehovah God to grow every tree that
is pleasant to the sight and good for food._

The contents of this verse properly belong to the description of
paradise. For although the whole earth had been so created as
naturally to bring forth trees and herbs, with their fruits and seeds,
yet this garden of Eden had its peculiar cultivation. A similitude
illustrative of the case before us may be derived from things as they
now are among us. Woods and fields bring forth their trees. But when
we select a place as a garden for special cultivation, the fruits of
the garden are always more excellent than those of the field. So
paradise, having been created for and devoted to peculiar cultivation,
beyond that which was bestowed on any other part of the earth, was
adorned with trees delightful to the sight, whose fruits were sweet to
the taste and for use. When therefore God said, in the first chapter,
verse 29, "Behold I have given you every herb and every tree for
food:" by that meat was meant necessary food. But paradise supplied
food for pleasure and delight; fruits better, sweeter and more
delicious than those which the trees of any other part of the earth
produced. On these the beasts also fed.

II. V. 9b. _The tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the
tree of the knowledge (scientiae) of good and evil._

Moses so describes paradise that he makes God himself as it were the
cultivator of it; as a cultivator, who after he has planted a garden
with the greatest care according to his pleasure, selects this and
that tree from the rest, which he tills and loves as particular
favorites. One of these trees was "the tree of life," a tree created
to the end that man by feeding on it might be preserved with a sound
body, free from diseases, and not subject to fatigue.

Here again we find the man, whom God first created, highly
distinguished from the brutes; not only by the delightful spot in
which God placed him, but also by the exalted privilege of a longer
life, a life always continuing in the same state. Whereas the bodies
of all other living creatures grow in youth and increase in strength,
but in old age decay and perish. But the original condition of man was
intended to be far different. Had he continued in his innocence he
would have enjoyed his meat and his drink; a change of his meat and
drink and a conversion of them into blood would have taken place in
his body, but that commutation would not have been impure and foul as
it is now. This tree of life moreover would have preserved him in
perpetual youth, nor would he have experienced any of the afflictions
or inconveniences of old age. His brow would have contracted no
wrinkles, nor would his foot nor his hand nor any other part of his
body have known weakness or languor. By the blessing of the fruit of
this tree man's powers would have remained perfect for generation and
for labor of every kind; until at length he should have been
translated from this corporeal to his spiritual life. The other trees
would have supplied him with food the most excellent and the most
delicious; but this "tree of life" would have been as it were a
general medicine which would have preserved his natural life and
powers in perpetual and complete vigor.

Some may here interpose the question, How could this corporeal food or
natural fruit effect such a conservation of the body as to prevent it
from being weakened or debilitated by time? The reply is easy and
divine. "He spake, and it was done!" Ps. 33:9. For if God can make
bread of a stone, why should he not be able to preserve the natural
powers of man by a fruit? Even since the sin of the fall we see what
powerful properties the smallest herbs and seeds possess.

Look for a moment at our own bodies. Whence comes that peculiar
property of their nature that bread, eaten by them, is by their
natural heat digested and converted into blood, by the circulation of
which the whole body is strengthened and confirmed? Now bring together
all the fires and all the furnaces of the universe, you cannot produce
by them all this one single effect, the conversion of bread into
blood. But this mighty effect is produced by that small degree of
heat, which our natural bodies contain. There is no room for wonder
therefore that this tree should have become by the will of the Lord,
its Planter and Maker, "The tree of life!"

Adam possessed a natural and movable body, a body which generated, ate
and labored. These exertions are considered to produce decay or at
least some kind of change, by which at length man is naturally worn
out and destroyed. But by this appointment of nature, "the tree of
life," God provided a remedy, by the use of which man might have a
long and sound life, without any diminution of his powers and in
perpetual youth.

Thus all these things are historical facts. This is a point which I am
repeatedly admonishing every hearer and reader to bear in mind, lest
he should be stumbled by the authority of some of the fathers, who
leaving pure and positive history turn aside to hunt allegories. It is
on this ground that I am so partial to Lyra and so willingly rank him
with the best of commentators. He always carefully abides by and
follows history. And although he sometimes permits himself to be
swayed by the authority of the fathers, yet he never suffers himself
to be turned aside by their authority from the plain and real sense of
any portion of the Scriptures to allegories.

But much more wonderful is that which Moses here speaks concerning
"the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." For here we have to
inquire, what this tree was, why it was so called and what would have
been the consequence, or result, if there had not been this tree in
paradise. Augustine and those who follow him rightly consider the
matter, when they observe that the tree was so called from that which
was shortly to take place and to be ordained concerning it; and from
the solemn consequences which followed. For Adam had been so created
and the garden of Eden so planted and constituted that if any
inconvenience had occurred to his natural body and life, he had a
protection against it and remedy for it in "the tree of life," which
could preserve his powers and the perfection of his health at all
times. Wherefore if Adam had thus remained in his innocency, wholly
swallowed up in the goodness of his Creator and in the bountiful
provision which that goodness had made for him on every side and in
every way, he might have acknowledged God his Creator throughout that
life of innocence and might have governed all the beasts according to
his will, not only without the least painful toil or trouble, but also
with the highest pleasure. For all things had been so created as to
afford man the extreme of pleasure and delight without the least
degree of evil or harm.

After Adam therefore had been so created and so surrounded with every
blessing that he was intoxicated as it were with joy in God and with
delight in all the other creatures around him, God then creates a new
tree, a tree of knowledge and of distinction between good and evil, in
order that Adam by means of that tree might have a certain sign of
worship and reverence of God. For after all things had been delivered
into the hand of Adam that he might enjoy them according to his will
or according to his pleasure, God next requires of him that by means
of this "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" he should show his
reverence and obedience towards God as his Creator; and that he should
hold fast, as a sign of this exercise of his obedient worship of God,
that he would not taste any of the fruit of this tree; thus
refraining, as in obedience to God's prohibition.

All therefore that Moses has hitherto said have been things natural or
domestic, or political, or judicial, or medicinal. The present however
is theological. For here the Word of God concerning this "tree of the
knowledge of good and evil" is set before Adam, in order that by means
of this tree he might have a certain outward sign of the worship of
God and of obedience to God, to be performed by him in his nature, as
man, by the duty and service of an external work. Even as the Sabbath,
of which we have spoken above, pertains more especially to the
performance of the internal and spiritual worship of God; such as
faith, love, calling upon God in prayer, etc.

But alas! alas! the true institution of this external worship and
obedience toward God has been attended with the most disgraceful
results. For we find at the present day that the Word of God, than
which nothing is more holy, nothing more blessed, is an offense unto
the wicked. Baptism also was instituted of Christ, as the washing of
regeneration. But has not this divine institution become a great
scandal and excitement of offense by means of various sects? Has not
the whole doctrine of baptism been distressingly corrupted? And yet,
what was more necessary to us than this very institution of baptism?
It was most necessary in order that the animal man should have some
correspondingly animal or outward worship; that is, some outward sign
of worship and reverence of God, by which he might exercise an
obedience towards God even in his body.

The present text therefore truly belongs to the church and to
theology. After God had given to man a polity or national government,
and also an economy or the principles of domestic government, and had
constituted him king over all creatures, and had moreover appointed
for him as a protective remedy the tree of life, for the conservation
of his corporeal or natural life, God now erects for him a temple as
it were, that he might worship his Creator, and give thanks unto that
God who had bestowed upon him all these rich and bountiful blessings.
So at this day we have churches and an altar in them for the
celebration of the holy communion or supper of our Lord; we have
pulpits also, or elevated chairs, for teaching the people. And all
these things are thus prepared, not on account of necessity only, for
the sake of solemnity also. But this tree of the knowledge of good and
evil was itself to Adam his church, his altar, his pulpit; near or
under which, as the place appointed of God, he might perform his acts
of obedience to God, might acknowledge the Word and the Will of God,
might offer his thanks to God, and in which spot he might also call
upon God in prayer against temptations.

Reason indeed vents its rage that this tree was ever created at all,
because by means of it we have sinned and fallen under the wrath of
God and into death. But why does not reason on the same ground betray
its rage that the Law was ever revealed by God at all, that the Gospel
was ever revealed afterwards by the Son of God? For have not offenses
of errors and heresies, infinite, arisen on account both of the Law
and of the Gospel?

Let us therefore learn from this passage of Scripture that it was
necessary for man, being so created and constituted as to have all the
rest of the living creatures in his hand and under his dominion, that
he should not only privately, but publicly also, acknowledge his
Creator, should give thanks unto him, should offer him some public and
external worship, and have a certain form and work of obedience. If
therefore Adam had not fallen, this tree would have been a common
temple or church, a sure palace to which all might have flocked. Thus
it was afterwards, when nature was in her fallen and corrupt state,
the tabernacle in the wilderness and the temple at Jerusalem were
places appointed for divine worship. As therefore this "tree"
eventually proved to be the cause of so awful a fall, it was rightly
called by Moses "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," on
account of the horrible and miserable event which followed.

Two questions may here be raised as to whether this tree of life was
one only or whether there were more; and whether the Scripture which
here speaks in the singular number should be considered as speaking in
the plural; just as we, speaking collectively, use the expression "the
pear," "the apple," whereby we mean pears and apples generally; either
of those fruits as kinds; not individual species or specimens of them.
To me it appears by no means absurd or out of the way that we should
understand "the tree of life," as a certain space in the middle of
paradise, or a certain grove, in which many "trees of life" of the
same genus or kind grew, and were called by the same name, "trees of
life." Hence it is probable that a certain grove was called
collectively "the tree of life," which was a kind of sacred retreat,
in which grew a number of trees of the same kind; namely, "trees of
the knowledge of good and evil," concerning which God pronounced his
prohibition, that Adam should not eat of any of them, and if he did he
should surely die the death. Not that there was anything in the nature
of this tree, or of any one of these trees, to cause death; but such
was the Word of God pronounced concerning it or them, which Word of
God was ever attended with its efficacy to all creatures; and the
efficacy of which Word still preserves all creatures, that they
degenerate not nor alter nor fail of their original form and intent;
that all creatures may be preserved in their original form and nature
by an infinite propagation!

Hence it was that by the Word the rock in the desert gave forth its
waters in all their abundance, Ex. 17:6, and that by the same Word the
brazen serpent healed all those that looked unto it, Num. 21:9. By
this same efficacy of the Word of God's prohibition, this one tree or
this certain species of many trees in the middle of paradise killed
Adam by his disobedience to that Word of God; not that the tree itself
was deadly in its own nature but because it was appointed by the Word
of God to be so in its effects. In the same way also are we to
understand the nature of the tree of life, of which God commanded Adam
to eat as often as he needed to restore his powers. It was by the Word
of God that the tree of life produced that restoration.

To reason indeed it seems absurd, that one apple could have such
deadly properties or produce such deadly effects as to destroy the
whole human race throughout its almost infinite succession; and that
too with a death eternal. But this was not the nature or the effect of
the apple in itself. Adam did indeed force his teeth into the apple,
but his teeth struck in reality upon the sting in the apple, which
sting was the prohibition of God, which made his bite to be
disobedience to God. This was the real cause of the mighty evil. Adam
thus sinned against God, disregarded his commandment and obeyed Satan.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was in itself "good," the
tree which bore the most noble fruits. But as the prohibition of God
was attached to it and man disregarded that prohibition, the tree
became the deadliest of all poisons.

Just in the same manner as God has said, "Thou shalt not steal," Ex.
20:15, the man who touches the property of another as his own sins
against God. So in Egypt when the Jews were commanded of God to ask
silver from their neighbors and to carry it away with them; that was
no sin; they were justified by the command of God, to whom obedience
is due, whatever be the issue or result. So also the suitor when he
loves a virgin and has a strong desire of nature to possess her as his
wife and marries her, committeth no adultery; though the Law of God
forbids coveting and concupiscence. And the great reason is this,
matrimony is a divine institution and is a command of God to them who
cannot live chastely without marriage. Just the same also is the
nature of these two trees. The tree of life gives life, by virtue of
the Word which promises and ordains that life. "The tree of the
knowledge of good and evil" produces death by virtue of the efficacy
of the Word which prohibits the eating of it on the penalty of death
in case of disobedience.

This latter tree however is called "the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil," Augustine says, because after Adam had sinned by eating of
it he not only saw and experienced what good he had lost, but also
into what evil and misery he had been hurled by his disobedience. The
tree therefore was in itself "good," even as the divine commandment
attached to it was "good;" that it should be to Adam a tree of divine
worship, by which he should prove his obedience to God, even by an
external act of service to him. But by reason of the sin which
followed, the same tree became the tree of the curse. Moses now by
digressing a little proceeds to give a more extensive description of
the original "garden!"

V. 10. _And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from
thence it was parted, and became four heads._

Here again the Latin version is in error, when it makes the proper
name, Eden, an appellative. And here Origen and his followers are to
be condemned who have recourse in their usual way to allegories. For
the things here recorded by Moses as history, are facts. There
actually was a great river in Eden, by which the whole garden was
watered. That river rising from the east of the garden divided itself
into four streams, that no part of the garden might remain unwatered.
For, as I have before observed, we are here to have in mind a large
space or portion of the earth; because this garden was so constituted
that it might be, as to its original design, an appropriate and
perpetual habitation for Adam and his whole posterity, which was
equally designed to be most extensive.

Vs. 11, 12. _The name of one is Pishon; that is it which compasseth
the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that
land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone._

This is one of the most difficult passages in the writings of Moses,
and one which has given rise to the greatest offense in unholy minds.
For the real state of the facts recorded, as they are now before our
eyes, cannot be denied. The description here given by the sacred
historian applies properly to India, which he here calls "Havilah,"
through which the river Pishon, or the Ganges, flows. The other three
rivers Gihon, Hiddekel and Phrath; that is, the Nile, the Tigris and
the Euphrates are also well known; and it is equally well known that
the Nile and the last two rivers have their sources very distant from
each other. The great question therefore that naturally arises is,
since the whole world well knows how far distant these rivers are from
each other, how can the account of Moses be reconciled with the facts,
when he says that all these rivers issued from one fountain; that is,
that they flowed from one source in the garden of Eden toward the
east? For with respect to the Nile, although its source is unknown,
yet the arguments and proofs are plain that it flows from a region in
the south. Whereas it is quite certain that the Ganges and the Tigris
and the Euphrates flow from the north; sources in the entirely
opposite direction.

The account of Moses therefore militates against sense and fact as
they now are. This state of things has given occasion to many to form
conjectures that Eden was the whole world. Though such conjectures are
certainly false, yet they would not of themselves, even if true,
reconcile the statements of Moses, nor make all plain when he here
says that the source of all these rivers was one and the same. And
although it is very probable that if Adam had remained in his
innocence and his posterity had greatly multiplied in that state of
innocency, God would have enlarged this garden correspondently; yet
even that consideration would not justify the supposition that Eden
was the whole earth originally; for the sacred text most plainly
separates Eden from all the rest of the earth. What shall we say
therefore concerning this passage of Moses, contrary as it is to sense
and experience, as things now are, and on that account so liable to
cause offense being taken; especially since Origen and others have
built upon it so many marvelous and absurd fables? Some commentators
pretend that there is no difficulty at all nor any liability to
offense being taken; and therefore they walk dryshod as it were over
this deep sea. Such lack of candor however is also highly unbecoming a

My opinion on the matter, which indeed I have already given, is that
paradise, which was very soon closed against man on account of sin,
and afterwards totally destroyed and swept from the earth by the
Flood, left not one trace or vestige of its original state remaining,
which can now be discovered. I fully believe, as I have before stated,
that paradise did exist after the fall of Adam, and that it was known
to his posterity; but that it was inaccessible to them on account of
the protection of the angel, who as the text informs us guarded Eden
with a flaming sword. The awful Deluge however destroyed all things.
By which also, as it is written, "All the fountains of the great deep
were broken up," Gen. 7:11.

Who can doubt therefore that the fountains of these rivers were also
broken up and confounded? As therefore since the Flood mountains exist
where fields and fruitful plains before flourished, so there can be no
doubt that fountains and sources of rivers are now found where none
existed before and where the state of nature had been quite the
contrary. For the whole face of nature was changed by that mighty
convulsion. Nor do I entertain the least doubt that all those wonders
of nature which are from time to time discovered, are the effects and
relics of that same awful visitation, the Deluge. In the metallic
mines which are now explored are found large logs of wood, hardened
into stone; and in masses of stone themselves are perceived various
forms of fishes and other animals. With the same confidence I also
believe that the Mediterranean sea before the Deluge was not within
the land. My persuasion is that the position which it now occupies was
formed by the effects of the terrible Flood. So also the space now
occupied by the Red Sea was doubtless before a fruitful field, and
most probably some portion of this very garden. In like manner, those
other large bays, the Gulf of Persia, the gulf of Arabia, etc., as
they now exist, are relic effects of the Deluge.

Wherefore we are by no means to suppose that the original source of
the rivers, of which we are now speaking, was the same as it is today.
But as the earth still exists and brings forth trees and their fruits,
etc., and yet these, if compared with those in their original and
incorrupt state, are but miserable remnants as it were of those former
riches which the earth produced when first created, so these rivers
remain as relics only of those former noble streams; but certainly not
in their primitive position; much less flowing from their original
sources. In the same manner, how much excellency has perished from our
bodies by sin! Wherefore the sum of the matter under discussion is
that we must speak of the whole nature since its corruption, as an
entirely altered face of things; a face which nature has assumed,
first by means of sin, and secondly by the awful effects of the
universal Deluge.

Nor has God ceased to act still in the same way. When he punishes sins
he still curses at the same time the earth also. Thus in the prophet
Zephaniah, God threatens that he will consume the fowls of the air and
the fishes of the sea, Zeph. 1:3. Hence the fact is that many of our
rivers have in this age a far less number of fishes than in the memory
of our forefathers. The birds also are much fewer in number than they
once were, etc. God threatens also, Is. 13, that He will punish in
this same way the sins of Babylon. For when men are taken away by
God's judgments the beasts of the earth also disappear and monsters
and destroying wild beasts alone remain, Is. 13:21, 22. For example
Canaan was one of the most fruitful lands; but now it is said to be as
it were a mere pickle-tub of unfruitful saltness, according to the
divine threatening in the 107th Psalm. If then such calamities are
inflicted of God as the punishments of the particular sins of nations,
what destructions and desolations must we consider the universal
punishment of the Flood to have wrought?

Let no one be offended therefore at Moses saying that four rivers,
which are at this day widely distant from each other and have now
different fountains, flowed from one source in the garden of Eden. For
as I have here repeatedly observed we are not to think that the form
of the world now is the same as it was before the sin of Adam. Origen
was indeed of this opinion himself, and yet he turned aside to the
vainest allegories.

The Nile indeed exists to this day, so does the Ganges. But as Virgil
says concerning the destruction of Troy, "A cornfield now flourishes
where Troy once stood," so if any one had seen the Nile and the other
great rivers mentioned by Moses in their primitive beauty and glory he
would have beheld them to be far different from what they are now. For
not only are their sources altered, but their qualities and their
courses are also changed; just as all other creatures are also
deformed and corrupted. Hence it is that Peter affirms "That the
heaven must receive Christ until the times of the restitution of all
things," Acts 3:21. For Peter here intimates, that which Paul also
testifies, that the whole creation was subjected to vanity, Rom. 8:20,
and that the restitution of all things is to be hoped for; the
restitution not of man only, but of the heaven and the earth, of the
sun and of the moon, etc.

My answer therefore to all questioners upon the passage before us is:
There is the Nile, there is the Ganges and there are other rivers
still in existence; but they are not now such as they once were; they
are not only confounded with respect to their sources, but altered as
to their qualities also. In the same manner also man has indeed feet,
eyes and ears, just as they were created and formed in paradise; but
all these same members are miserably corrupted and marred by sin. Adam
before his sin had eyes the most bright, a smell of body the most
pure, refined, delicate and grateful; a body the most perfectly
adapted to generation and to every purpose intended of God without the
least let, hindrance or obstruction in the performance of those
purposes as services in obedience to God. But how far removed from all
this aptitude, this service and this natural vigor are all our members
now! Just the same is the present nature of these rivers and of the
whole creation if compared with its original state and condition.

Let us look therefore in hope and faith for the "restitution of all
things;" not of the soul only, but of the body also; believing that we
shall have in that day a body better and more noble even than it was
when first created in paradise. For we shall not then be placed in a
state of animal life, subject by its nature to alteration and change;
but in the state and enjoyment of a spiritual life; that life, into
which Adam would have been translated, if he had lived without sin.
Into the hope of this life Christ brings us by the remission of sins;
and thereby makes our condition better and higher than Adam enjoyed,
but lost in paradise.

The Hebrew verb SAB, which Moses here uses, has a very extensive
meaning; it signifies "to go round," as watchmen go their round in a
city. Pishon, therefore, or the Ganges is still in existence, if you
speak of its mere name and stream; but if you consider its fertilizing
and fructifying qualities, its various other properties and the course
of its waters, even the remnants of the original noble river are not
to be found.

The land of Havilah is India, situated towards the east. This country
is celebrated both in the present passage and in other places in the
Scripture as most rich and abundant in every respect. So that at this
day the gems and the gold of India are considered the most precious
and most noble. I believe however, according to the phraseology here
adopted by Moses, that in "the land of Havilah" is included Arabia
Felix and other adjacent regions.

When Moses speaks of bdellium and the onyx stone, I take these
specimens of gems for gems in general. For we find India to abound
even at the present day, not only in jewels of the description
mentioned, but in emeralds, sapphires, rubies, garnets, diamonds,
etc.; for I retain their appellations as they are now used among us.
But here again I would bring back your attention to that which I have
before stated. Seeing that this region is endowed from above with such
a rich abundance of all things useful and precious; how much more
rich, abundant, opulent and divinely favored must we conclude it to
have been in its original state before the sin of the fall! Its
present productions and contents can scarcely be called even remnants
of its former excellency.

Vs. 13, 14. _And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it
which compasseth the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third
river is Hiddekel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria.
And the fourth river is the Euphrates._

Moses mentions the three remaining rivers by name only, giving no
particular descriptions in reference to them. Gihon is the Nile. This
river, as it runs through all Egypt, takes in its course, Cush or
Ethiopia also, as well as Egypt. Hiddekel is the Tigris (in Armenia),
the most rapid river of all. "The fourth is the river Euphrates." As
if he had added, the river near to us.

In this passage therefore we have a description of paradise with its
four rivers. But now it is utterly lost and unknown; and no traces of
it exist except these four rivers. And even these, first rendered
leprous as it were and corrupted and marred by sin; and then changed,
altered and confounded in their sources and in their courses by the
mighty Deluge.

Moses now proceeds to describe how a law was given to Adam before Eve
was created, so that he might have a mode or form of external worship,
by which to show his obedience and express his gratitude to God.


I. V. 15. _And Jehovah God took the man, and put him into the garden
of Eden to dress it and keep it._

After God had created and variously adorned the universe of heaven and
earth, he next prepared the garden of Eden, which he willed to be the
habitation and royal seat of man, to whom he had committed the
government over all other living creatures of the earth, the heaven
and the sea. And now God places man in that garden as in a citadel and
a temple, from which he had liberty to go out and to walk abroad in
any other part of the earth, which also was most fruitful and most
delightful; and there to amuse and delight himself with the beasts and
other animals when and as he wished.

And God gives to Adam a two-fold charge that he should work or till
this garden, and also that he should guard and defend it. Some faint
vestiges of this original command yet remain in these miserable
remnants of primitive things, which we still possess. For even to this
day these two things must ever be joined together: not only that the
earth should be tilled but also that the productions of that
cultivation should be defended. But both these great principles are
corrupted and marred in an infinite number of forms. For not the
tillage of the earth itself only but the defense of it also are filled
with every kind of misery and trouble. And what the cause of all this
sorrow is will be fully clear to us shortly in the following chapter
of this book. For we shall there see that this working or tillage of
the earth is defiled and embarrassed by thorns, by thistles, by the
sweat of the brow and by various and unending misery. For, to say
nothing about the labor and sorrow of procuring necessary food, what
difficulty, what labor attend even the bringing up a child from its

If Adam therefore had remained in his innocency he would have
cultivated the earth and planted his beds of spices, not only without
toil or trouble but as an amusement, attended with exquisite pleasure.
His children when born would not long have needed the breast of their
mother, but in all probability would have started on their feet, as we
now see chickens do by nature, and would have sought their own food
from the fruits of the earth, without the helplessness or weakness and
without any labor or sorrow of their parents! But now how great do we
behold to be the pain and misery of our birth, our infancy and our

If we speak of food and the misery attending it, not only have beasts
the same general produce of the earth, now no longer an Eden, which we
have; but men defraud men of the same and rob them of it by theft and
plunder. Hence hedges and walls and other strong defences are found
necessary for the protection of property; and even by these the
produce, we have obtained by the labor and sweat of cultivation, can
scarcely be preserved in safety. Thus we have indeed a remnant of the
labor of cultivation, but very far different from the employ of the
original tillage. Not merely because it is attended with the greatest
toil and distress, but because the ground itself, being as it were
unwilling, yields sparingly; whereas to Adam it yielded as it were
with the greatest joy and with the richest abundance, whether he sowed
his seed within Eden itself or in any other part of the earth. There
was then no danger from plunderers and murderers. All was in perfect
peace and safety.

In all these respects therefore we can form an idea of the mighty evil
of sin; when we behold the thorns, the briers, the sweat of the brow,
etc., which are before us. Whichever way we turn the magnitude of that
evil is ever present. Hence man did not fall by sin in soul only, but
in body also; and both participate in the punishment. For labor is a
punishment, which in the state of innocence was an amusement and a
pleasure. Even as now, in the present state of the misery of nature,
if any one has a productive garden, neither digging nor sowing nor
planting is a labor, but a certain devoted employment and a delight.
What then must have been this employment and delight in the garden of
Eden in the state of original innocence! How much more pleasurable and

And here also we may reflect with profit that man was not created to
idleness, but to labor; no, not even in the state of primitive
innocence. Wherefore every state of an idle or indolent life is
condemnable; such for instance as the life of monks and nuns.

As the original labor and employment of man were unattended with
sorrow or distress, as we have shown, so also this guarding and
protecting of that which he possessed was full of pleasure and
delight; whereas now all such protection is full of labor and peril.
Adam could have stopped or driven away even bears and lions by one
single word. We have now indeed our means of defense, but they are
truly horrible; for we cannot do without swords and spears, and
cannon, and walls, and ramparts, and castle-fosses, etc.; and even
with all these we and our loved ones scarcely abide in safety. Hence
we have scarcely the feeblest traces remaining either of the original
work or the original protection.

Others expound this passage differently, making it to mean, "that God
might till and keep it." But the text speaks of human "tilling" and
human "keeping" absolutely. So Cain just below, Gen. 4:2, is said to
have been "a tiller of the ground." And in Job and Ecclesiastes kings
are called tillers of the earth or husbandmen; not merely on account
of their labor itself in tillage, but on account of their guardianship
and protection. But as I have all along said, labor and protection are
now hard and difficult terms? But originally they were terms denoting
a certain delightful employment and exquisite pleasure.

II. Ver. 16, 17a. _And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every
tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat; but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it._

Here we have the institution of the church before there was any
domestic government (_oeconomia_) or civil government (_politia_). For
Eve was not yet created. And the church is here instituted without any
walls or any pomp; in a place all open and most delightful. After the
church was instituted domestic government (_oeconomia_) is
established, when Eve is brought to Adam as his life-companion. Thus
we have at God's hand a church before a private house; the former of
which indeed is greater and better than the latter.

And as to civil government (_politia_); before sin there was none; nor
was it needed. For civil government is a necessary remedy for corrupt
nature. Because the lust of men must be curbed by the chains and
penalties of the laws, that it transgress not all bounds. Wherefore we
may properly term polity, or civil government, the established
"kingdom over sin," just as Paul also calls Moses the minister and the
law the "ministration of sin and of death," 2 Cor. 3:7, 8; Rom. 8:2.
For the one and special object of civil government is to prevent sin.
Hence Paul says, "that the power beareth the sword" and is "the
avenger of evil doings," Rom. 13:4. If therefore, men had not become
evil by sin there would have been no need of civil government; but
Adam would have lived with his posterity in the greatest joy, peace
and safety, and would have done more by the motion of one of his
fingers than can now be effected by all the magistrates, all the
swords and all the gallows of a kingdom. There would then have been no
ravisher, no murderer, no thief, no slanderer, no liar. And therefore
what need would there have been of civil government, which is as it
were the sword, the caustic and the terrible medicine, which are
necessary to cut off and burn out noxious members of the state, that
its other members may be saved and preserved.

After the establishment of the church therefore in paradise is
committed unto Adam the government of his family. The church is thus
first instituted by God, that he might show by this as a sign that man
was created to another and a higher end than any of the other living
creatures. And as the church is thus instituted by the Word of God, it
is certain that Adam was created by an immortal and spiritual life to
which he would assuredly have been translated and conveyed without
death after he had lived in Eden and the other parts of the earth to
his full satiety of life, yet without trouble or distress. And in that
life there would have been none of that impure lust which now
prevails. The love of sex for sex would have been uncontaminated and
pure. Generation would have proceeded without any sin or impurity, in
a holy obedience unto God. Mothers would have brought forth children
without pain, and children themselves would have been brought up
without any of that misery and labor and distress with which they are
now always reared.

But who can find language capable of describing the glory of that
state of innocency, which we have lost? There certainly still remains
in nature a desire of the male for the female. There also proceed the
fruits of generation. But the whole is attended with a horrible
impurity of lust, and with overwhelming pains of parturition. To all
this are added turpitude, shame and confusion even between man and
wife when they would enjoy their lawful embrace. In a word, even here
and in all things else, is present the unspeakable awfulness of
original sin. Creation indeed is "good." The blessing of fruitfulness
upon creation is "good." But all these things are corrupted and
spoiled, by sin. So that even man and wife cannot enjoy them without
shame and confusion of face. Whereas none of these things would have
had existence if the innocency of Adam had continued. But as husbands
and wives eat and drink together without any shame; so there would
have been a singular and heavenly purity without any shame or
confusion of feeling, either in generation or in parturition. But I
return to Moses.

The church was originally instituted, as I have observed, before there
was any house or family or domestic government. For the Lord, we here
find, preaches to Adam and sets before him the Word. On that Word,
though so short, it highly becomes us here to pause awhile and dwell.
For this sermon of God to Adam would have been to him and to us all,
his posterity, had we continued in the original innocence, a whole
Bible as it were. And did we, or could we, possess that sermon now we
should have no need of paper, ink and pens, nor of that infinite
multitude of books, which we now require to teach us knowledge and
wisdom. The whole contents of these books put together, could we grasp
them in our minds, would not put us in possession of one-thousandth
part of that wisdom, which Adam possessed in paradise. Could we attain
to the sum of all the wisdom in all the world, this short sermon would
swallow up and overflow the whole. It would show us in all plainness
and fullness, as if painted on a tablet, that infinite goodness of God
which created this nature of ours pure, holy and perfect; and it would
show us with equal plainness all those impurities, calamities and
sorrows, which have since overwhelmed us by the inbursting of sin.

Since therefore, as the text shows, Adam alone heard this sermon from
God, it must have been preached to him on the sixth day, and Adam must
have afterwards communicated it to Eve on the same day. And if they
had not sinned Adam would have set this remarkable sermon or precept
before his whole posterity also; and by it they would have become the
most profound divines, the most learned lawyers and the most
experienced physicians. Now there exists an infinite number of books
by which men are trained to be theologians, lawyers and physicians.
But all the knowledge we can obtain by the help of all these books
together can scarcely be called the dregs of science, if compared with
that fund of wisdom which Adam drew from this one sermon of God. So
utterly corrupted are all things by original sin.

This "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," therefore, or this
place in which a number of trees like unto it were planted, would have
been, as we have said, a church, where Adam and his posterity, had he
and they continued in their innocency, would have assembled on the
Sabbath day; and Adam, after refreshment derived from the "tree of
life," would have preached God to those assembled, and would have
praised him for the dominion which he had given them over all other
creatures he had made. The 148th and 149th Psalms set forth a certain
form of such praise and thanksgiving, where the sun, the moon, the
stars, the fishes and the dragons are called upon to praise the Lord.
But there is no one psalm so beautiful, but that any one of us might
compose one far more excellent and more perfect, if we had been born
of the seed of Adam in his state of original innocence. Adam would
have preached that highest of all blessings, that he had been created
in and that his posterity bore the image and the similitude of God. He
would have exhorted them all to live a holy life without sin, to till
the garden in which God had placed them with all industry, to keep it
with all diligence, and to guard with all caution against tasting the
fruit of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil." This external
place, form, worship and preaching of the Word, man would most
certainly have observed on the Sabbath. Afterwards he would have
returned to his duties of laboring and guarding until the time
appointed of God had been fulfilled, in which he should be translated
without any death and with all sweetness to heaven.

We must now speak of all these blessings however as a lost treasure,
and we are deservedly left to sigh for that day, when all these things
shall be restored. It is nevertheless most profitable to remember the
blessings we have lost, and to feel the evils we suffer and in the
midst of which we live, in so much wretchedness that we may be thereby
stirred to look for that redemption of our bodies, of which the
apostle speaks, Rom. 8:23. For as to our souls we are already freed
and delivered by Christ; and we hold that deliverance in faith until
the "end of our faith" shall be revealed, 1 Pet. 1:19.

It is moreover very profitable to consider from this text that God
gave unto Adam a Word, a worship and a religion, the most simple, most
pure and most disencumbered of all laborious forms and sumptuous
appearance. For God did not command the sacrificing of oxen, nor the
burning of incense, nor long and loud prayers, nor any other
afflictions or wearyings of the body. All that he willed was, that
Adam should praise him, should give him thanks, and should rejoice in
him as the Lord his God; obeying him in this one great thing that he
ate not the fruit of the forbidden tree.

Of this worship we have indeed some remnants restored to us in a
certain measure by Christ, even amidst all this infirmity of our
flesh. We also are enabled to praise God and to give him thanks for
every blessing of the soul and of the body. But too true it is, that
these are but very remnants of the original worship of Eden. But when,
after this miserable life, we shall come among the company of angels,
we shall then offer unto God a purer and holier worship. And there are
also other remnants of this original felicity still vouchsafed unto
us; that by the blessing of marriage we avoid and prevent adulteries;
that this corporeal life has not only food, though procured with
infinite labor, but a protection and a defense of that which we
possess, secured unto us against all the evils and dangers which
surround us on every side. These are indeed merciful remnants, still
they are but miserable remnants if compared with the original
blessedness and security.

Moreover, brethren, ye are here to be admonished against false
prophets, through whom Satan endeavors by various means to corrupt
sound doctrine. I will give you an example of this in my own case, and
just show you how I was tormented by a fanatical spirit when I first
began to preach this doctrine, which I am now setting forth in my
Comments on the passage before us. The text indeed uses a Hebrew verb
signifying "to command;" "And Jehovah God commanded the man." Yet this
agent of Satan argued, and drew his conclusion thus:--"The Law is not
made for a righteous man." Adam was a righteous man; therefore, the
Law was not made for Adam; because, he was a righteous man. Upon this
argument he immediately pinned another; that this sermon of God
therefore was not a law but an admonition only; and that,
consequently, "where there was no law there was, as Paul affirms, no
transgression." And from this argument, that "where there is no law
there is no transgression," he crept on to the conclusion, therefore,
there was no original sin; the truth of which doctrine he consequently
denied. By thus connecting together these two passages of Scripture he
gained, as he considered, a marvelous victory, and he publicly
displayed his triumph as if he had discovered a treasure hitherto
unknown to the world. Now it is profitable thus to mark the mighty
attempts of Satan, that we may learn to meet them with wisdom and

Both the above passages, that the "Law is not made for a righteous
man;" and that "where there is no law there is no transgression" are
found in the Epistles of Paul, 1 Tim. 1:9, and Rom. 4:15. And it is
the business of a sound and skillful logician in divine things, to
mark carefully the aims and the devices of the devil; because our
sophistical reasoners, his miserable slaves, use them after him. They
pretend indeed to found their arguments on Scripture. For they know
that it would appear perfectly ridiculous to thrust upon men's minds
nothing but their own dreams. But they do not cite Scripture wholly
and honestly; they seize upon those parts of it only which seem at
first to make for them; but those portions which stand against them,
they either craftily pass over or corrupt by cunningly devised

Thus when Satan found that Christ trusted in the mercy of God under
his great hunger, he attempted to draw him into a forbidden
confidence, Math. 4:3, 4. And again, in the matter of his standing on
the pinnacle of the Temple, the devil tried to make him tempt God; by
quoting to him a passage seemingly adopted for his purpose, Ps.
91:11-12, "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee; and in
their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy
foot against a stone."

Now that portion of the passage in the psalm, which was contrary to
his purpose, Satan craftily passed over, "to keep thee, in all thy
ways." Here lies the whole force of this Scripture, that this
guardianship of angels is promised to us "in all our ways" or "in our
lawful calling" only. Christ in all divine wisdom sets before Satan
this as the true meaning of the sacred text, when he replies to his
face in this precept, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." By this
Christ signifies that the "way" of man is not in the air, but that was
the "way" of the flying fowls; but that the "way" of man was the steps
which led from the roof of the temple to the ground; and which were
made for the end that there might be a descent from the top of the
temple to the bottom, easy and without peril. When therefore we are in
our lawful calling and duty, whether that duty be commanded of God or
of men, which latter have a right to prescribe the duty of our
calling, while we are thus "in our ways," then we may assuredly
believe the guardianship of angels will not fail us.

The above example therefore will furnish a very useful rule to be
observed in our disputations with these fanatical tools of Satan. For
those who are not on their guard are often deceived when crafty men
transfer their arguments, after their own manner, from connected to
unconnected portions of the Scripture; or adopt dishonest connections
or divisions of the sacred text; but adduce not passages in their
integral state as they stand in the Word. Now this is the very method
adopted in the present case by my adversary, when he argues as above
from these two detached portions, "That law is not made for a
righteous man," and "Where there is no law, there is no
transgression." He who is not on the watch-tower of wisdom and caution
here is entangled before he is aware of it, and drawn into the
horrible conclusion, that there was no real sin in eating the first
apple; because, as our crafty opponents would argue, there was no law;
and, as they further argue, which is indeed true in itself, because
"where there is no law there is no transgression."

And I am by no means certain that some even in our day have not been
deceived by this very argument of the devil. For they so speak of
original sin as to make it not a sin itself, but a punishment of sin
only. Hence Erasmus, discussing this point with his famous eloquence,
observes, "Original sin is a punishment, inflicted on our first
parents, which we their posterity are compelled to bear for another's
fault, without any desert of our own. Just as the son of an harlot is
forced to endure the infamy, not by his own fault but by that of his
mother. For what sin could any man commit who had as yet no
existence?" These sentiments flatter human reason, but they are full
of impiety and blasphemy.

Wherein then is the syllogism of our crafty adversary unsound? It is
because, according to Satan's common artifice, the text on which it is
founded is not quoted entirely, but most perfidiously mutilated. For
the whole text stands thus, "The law is not made for a righteous man,
but for murderers, for adulterers," etc., etc. Wherefore nothing can
be more evident, nothing else can be concluded than that the apostle
Paul is here speaking of that Law which God revealed unto man after
sin was in the world; not of that law, which the Lord gave unto Adam
in paradise, while he was yet righteous and innocent. The Law, says
Paul, "was not made for a righteous man;" wherefore it insubvertibly
follows, that the Law of which Paul speaks was given to nature, when
not innocent, but sinning and liable to sin.

Is it not then the height of wickedness thus to confound passages of
Scripture in causes of such solemn moment? Adam after his sin was not
the same as he was before, when in his state of innocency. And yet
these men make no difference between the law delivered to man before
sin and the Law delivered to man after sin. But what the apostle says
concerning the Law, which was delivered to the world after it was
filled with sin, these instruments of Satan, lyingly and with the
greatest blasphemy, transfer and apply to the law, delivered to Adam
in paradise. Whereas, if no sin had existed the law prohibiting sin
would not have existed. For as I have said above, civil government and
laws, or cauteries, and the sword, and the "schoolmaster," as Paul
terms "the Law," would not have been needed in a state of innocent
nature. But the boy because he is now bad needs the "schoolmaster" and
the rod. So the prince, because he has disobedient citizens, equally
needs the crown-officer and the executioner. It is of this law that
Paul is really speaking; the law which nature when corrupted by sin

With respect to the need which Adam had of this commandment of God
concerning the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," I have shown
that need above. It was that Adam might have a settled external
worship of God and a work of external obedience towards him to perform
statedly. Thus the angel Gabriel is without sin, a creature most pure
and innocent, and yet he received a commandment from God to inform
Daniel concerning things of the utmost importance, and to announce to
the virgin Mary that she was to be the mother of Christ promised to
the fathers. These are positive commandments, given to a creature
perfectly innocent.

In the same manner there is here a commandment given of the Lord to
Adam before his sin that he should not eat of the "tree of the
knowledge of good and evil," which commandment Adam would have
fulfilled willingly and with the highest pleasure, had he not been
deceived by the craft of Satan. But Paul is referring to quite another
law; for he is plainly speaking of a law which was given, not to the
righteous, but to the unrighteous. Who is there, then, so stupid or so
insane, who will after all conclude that a law was not given to Adam
because he hears us affirm that Adam was a righteous man? For no other
conclusion can follow than that the law, which was made for the
unrighteous, was not the law that was given to the righteous Adam; and
on the converse it must follow that as a law was given to righteous
Adam, that law was not the same as the law which was afterwards made
for the unrighteous.

There is therefore in this syllogism or argument of our adversary, the
two-fold unsoundness of unjust connection and unjust division. There
is in it moreover a double equivocation. The first is in not making it
plain that the law before sin is one thing, and the law after sin
another. And in the second place, the equivocation lies in not making
it equally plain, that the righteous man before sin and the righteous
man after sin are each righteous, but in a different sense; that the
one is righteous by nature the other by new-creation and

It is most useful to examine thus the arguments and reasonings of our
adversaries, and in this manner to apply the science of sound logic to
good purpose in these momentous discussions. For the arts of logic
were not seriously intended to be used in the dead disputation of the
school only; but that the gravest and most sacred subjects might by
them be soundly explained and taught. And it is by the very false
reasoning now in question, that Satan does a great deal of business in
denying original sin. Whereas to deny original sin, is to deny
virtually the passion and resurrection of Christ.

Let the passage of the apostle Paul therefore, 1 Tim. 1:9, hinder us
not from determining with Moses in the text now before us, that a law
was here commanded of God to Adam though a righteous man, "That he
should not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil," in the
same way as commandments were also given to angels. And because Adam
transgressed this commandment he sinned, and begat and propagated his
children after him also sinners.

III. V. 17b. _For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt
surely die._

This penal threat also thus expressly added proves that it was a law,
not an admonition, that was given to Adam. And it moreover shows that
Adam was created in a state of innocence and righteousness. For as yet
there was no sin in existence because God did not create sin. If Adam
therefore had obeyed this command he would never have died, for death
entered into the world by sin. All the rest of the trees of paradise
therefore were created to the end that they might aid and preserve
unto man his animal life, sound and whole, and without the least evil
or inconvenience.

Now it naturally appears wonderful to us at this day, that there
should have been an animal life without any death and without any
evils or accidental causes of death, which now abound, such as
diseases, boils and fetid redundancies, in bodies, etc., etc. The
reason is that no part of the body in the state of innocency was foul
or impure. There was no unpleasantness in the evacuations or
secretions. There were no impurities whatever. Everything was most
beautiful and delightful. There was no offense to any of the organs or
senses. And yet the life was an animal life. Adam ate, digested,
performed the functions of, and managed and regulated, his body. And
had he continued in his innocence he would have done all these and
other things the animal life does and requires, until he had been
translated to the spiritual and eternal life.

For this deathless translation also we have lost by sin. And now,
between this present and a future life, there exists that awful medium
passage, death. That passage, in the state of innocence, would have
been most delightful; and by it Adam would have been translated to the
spiritual life, or as Christ calls it in the Gospel, the life "as the
angels in heaven," Math. 12:25; in which state all animal actions
cease. For in the resurrection we shall neither eat nor drink nor are
given in marriage. So with respect to Adam, all animality would have
ceased and a spiritual life in glory would have followed; even as we
also believe it will be with us "in the resurrection" through Christ.
So also Adam would have put off his childhood glory of innocence, if I
may so term his natural life of innocency, and would have put on his
heavenly glory. He would have done with all inferior actions, which
however, in that childhood glory of innocency, would have been pure
and unattended with that sorrow which mars all things since the fall;
and would have been translated from his infantine glory of created
innocence, to that manhood of glorious innocence, which angels enjoy;
and which we also who believe shall enjoy in the life to come.

I call Adam's primitive, creative innocence the childhood of glorious
innocency, because Adam, if I may so speak, was in a middle state, or
a state of neutrality or liability; in a state where he could be
deceived by Satan; and could fall into that awful calamity into which
he did fall. But such a peril of falling will not exist in that state
of perfect manhood of glorified innocency, which we shall enjoy in the
future and spiritual life. And this indeed is that which is signified
in this threat of punishment. "For in the day that thou eatest thereof
thou shalt surely die." As if the Lord had said, thou mayest remain
indeed, if thou obey me, in this life, in which I have created thee;
yet thou wilt not even then, be immortal, as the angels are. It is a
life placed as it were in a middle, neutral or liable, state. Thou
mayest remain in it by obedience, and afterwards be translated into an
immortality, which cannot be lost. On the other hand if thou shalt not
obey me, thou shalt fall into death and shalt lose that immortality.

There is a great difference therefore between the created spiritual
state of angels and the created natural innocency of Adam. Angels as
they now are cannot fall, but Adam could fall; for Adam was created in
a state in which he might become immortal, that is, in which he might
continue in his original innocency without death, for he was free from
all sin and stood in a condition from which he might be translated out
of the childhood glory of original innocency into the manhood glory of
immortality, in which he could never sin afterwards. On the other
hand, Adam could fall out of this childhood glory of natural innocence
into sin, the curse and death, as indeed it sadly happened. Adam was
in a state of natural immortality, or which might have been a natural
immortality, because he had recourse to certain created trees, the
virtue of whose fruits produced preservation of life. But this natural
immortality was not so secured to him, as to render it impossible for
him to fall into mortality.

Why God willed to create man in this middle, neutral or liable state
is not for us to explain or curiously to inquire. Equally impossible
is it for us to say and unlawful to ask, why man was so created that
all mankind should be propagated from one man by generation, while
angels were not so created. For angels generate not nor are
propagated, because they live a spiritual life; but the counsel of God
in the creation of man is worthy the highest admiration, in that he
created him to an animal life and to corporeal actions, which also the
other animals have, and gave him also a power of intellect, which
indeed the angels also possess. So that man is a compound being, in
whom are united the brute and the angelic natures.

Moreover, as we have here come to consider the nature of angels, we
must not keep back the written opinions of some of the fathers, that
there is a certain similarity between the creation of man and that of
angels. This similarity however cannot be extended to the properties
of generation, which in the spiritual nature has no existence, but to
the imperfection that subsisted in each nature as to liability to
fall. For since man, as I have shown, was created in a kind of a
middle, or liable or pendent state, so also angels when first created
were not so confirmed in their natural standing that they could not
fall. Hence it is that Christ says concerning the devil, that he
"abode not in the truth," John 8:44. On these grounds the holy fathers
supposed that a battle or sedition arose between the angels, some of
those beings taking the part of some very beautiful angel, who exalted
himself above all the rest on account of certain superior gifts
bestowed upon him. These things are very probable nor are they at
variance with that which Christ here affirms by the Evangelist John,
that the devil "abode not in the truth;" nor are they inconsistent
with that which Jude also affirms in his epistle, that the angels
"kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation," Jude 6.

In confirmation of these sentiments, the fathers adduce the passage,
Is. 14:12, 13. But with reference to Isaiah, he is evidently speaking
of the king of Babylon, who wished to sit in the throne of God, that
is, to rule over his holy people and his temple.

Whether, therefore, there really was this dissension and war among the
angels, or whether, which is more agreeable to my views, certain proud
angels, filled with envy and taking offense at the humility of the Son
of God, wished to exalt themselves above him, it is quite certain that
the angels also like man were in such a state of innocence as could be
altered. After the evil angels however had been judged and condemned,
the good angels were so confirmed in their standing that they could
not sin after that confirmation, for they were all elect angels, but
the reprobate angels were cast out.

So also, if the great dragon, or the evil angels, mentioned in
Revelations, had continued in their innocence, they also would
afterwards have been confirmed therein and could never have fallen.
The fathers, speaking on this subject, hold that the elect angels were
created in righteousness and were afterwards confirmed therein; but
that those who fell, "abode not in the truth," John 8:44. But we are
not to think that the angels are few in number, for Christ affirms,
Luke 11:18, that Satan has a kingdom, and that he is as the chief one
among robbers and governs all things in his kingdom by his authority
and counsels; and it is also said, in the same chapter that the devils
or evil angels have their prince Beelzebub, who was at the head of
this sedition in heaven.

But there has arisen a question here, in the discussion of which the
books of all the sophists are idly employed, and after all they
explain nothing. The question to which I allude is, "What was original
righteousness?" Some make it a certain quality, others give different
definitions. We however following Moses, will define original
righteousness to be so termed, because man was originally created
righteous, true and upright; not in body only, but especially in soul,
and because he acknowledged God; because he obeyed him with the utmost
pleasure; because he understood the works of God without any
instruction concerning them. This last faculty of Adam is wonderfully
exemplified by the fact, that when he had been in a profound sleep and
God had formed Eve out of one of his ribs, the moment he awoke he
recognized Eve as the work of God, saying "This is now bone of my
bones." Was not this a marvelous proof of intellect, thus at the first
sight to know and comprehend the work of God?

From this same original righteousness also it arose that Adam loved
God and his works with all purity of affection; that he lived among
the creatures of God in peace without any fear of death or any dread
of disease, and that he enjoyed a body also the most obedient to the
will of God, without any evil desires and utterly free from that
impure lust, which we continually feel. So that a most beautiful and
most certain picture of original righteousness may be portrayed from
its entire contrast to that deep corruption, which we now feel
throughout our whole nature.

When human reasoners speak of original sin, they consider only its
wretched and unclean lust or concupiscence. But original sin is in
truth the entire fall of the whole human nature. The intellect is so
darkened that we can no longer understand God and his will, nor
perceive nor acknowledge the works of God. Moreover the will is so
wonderfully depraved that we cannot trust in the mercy of God nor fear
God, but living in security and unconcern, we disregard the Word of
God and his will and follow the concupiscence and violent lusts of the
flesh. The conscience also is no longer at peace and in quiet, and
when it thinks of the judgments of God it sinks into despair, and
seeks and follows after unlawful supports and remedies. And all these
sins are so deeply rooted in our nature that they cannot be entirely
eradicated through our whole life. And yet these miserable sophistical
reasoners do not touch upon these deep corruptions even in word. But
by taking this true view of original sin, it clearly demonstrates,
according to the nature of correlative proofs, what original sin
really was by its awful contrariety to that original righteousness.
Thus it is evident that original sin is the essential and entire loss
and deprivation and absence of original righteousness; just as
blindness is the privation or absence of sight.

Yes! the divine matters of original sin and original righteousness
extend much more widely and deeply than is imagined by the monks, who
understand original righteousness only as it refers to sexual
chastity. Whereas they ought first to look at the soul of man as the
seat of all sin and corruption and then turn to the body, and view it
as deriving all its defilement and pollution from the soul. With
reference to the soul the great proof of its fallen state under
original sin is, that we have lost the knowledge of God; that we do
not always and everywhere give thanks unto him; that we do not rejoice
in the works of his hands and all his doings; that we do not wholly
trust in him; that we begin to hate and blaspheme him whenever he
visits our sins with deserved punishments; that in our dealings with
our neighbor we follow our own interests, desires and objects, and are
plunderers, thieves, adulterers, murderers, cruel, unkind, unmerciful.
The ragings of lust are indeed a certain part of original sin, but
those sins and corruptions of the soul, unbelief, ignorance of God,
despair, hatred, blasphemy, of which calamities of the soul Adam knew
nothing in his state of innocence.

And in addition to these reflections, the numberless punishments of
original sin are to be contemplated. For whatever is now lost of those
endowments with which Adam was created and gifted, while his nature
was yet unfallen, is rightly considered the consequence of original
sin. Adam for instance was of a most perfect and sagacious intellect.
For the moment that Eve was presented to him he understood that she
was his own flesh. He had also the most minute knowledge of all the
other creatures. He was not only just and upright, but of a most
perfect and wonderful understanding in all things. He had moreover a
most upright will, yet not a perfect will; for perfection itself was
deferred from the state of the animal life to that of the spiritual
and eternal life. Let these comments suffice upon the sacred text
before us, Vs. 16 and 17, in which the church is constituted. Moses
now proceeds to marriage and domestic government (_oeconomia_).


V. 18. _And Jehovah God said, It is not good that the man should be
alone; I will make him an helpmeet for him (which may be before him)._

We have just seen how the church was constituted by the Word and by
the establishment of a certain day, place and order of worship. For
civil government (_politia_) there was as yet no need, while nature
was innocent and without sin. Now domestic government (_oeconomia_) is
instituted. For God now makes the solitary Adam a husband by giving
him a wife and uniting her to him of whom Adam had need also for the
generation and multiplication of the human race. And as we have
observed above with reference to the creation of Adam that God created
him with deep purpose of mind and counsel, some here see that Eve also
was created with profound counsel and wisdom of design. By all this
Moses would show that man was a singularly excellent creature and that
he partook both of the human and the divine natures, of divinity and
immortality. Man therefore is a more excellent creature than the
heaven or the earth or any other creature which God made.

And Moses would also impress us with reference to the other part of
human nature, namely, woman, that she also was created with a peculiar
counsel and design of God. And the object of Moses in this particular
point of his divine instruction is, to show that this sex also had
great concernment, in that state of animal but innocent life, in which
Adam was created, and in that state of a spiritual and eternal life
also, which he expected. For the female sex was necessary for the
generation and multiplication of the human race. Hence it follows that
if the woman had not been deceived by the serpent and had not sinned,
she would have been in all respects equal to Adam. For her now being
subject to her husband is the punishment laid upon her of God since
sin and on account of sin; as are also all her other troubles and
perils, her labor and pain in bringing forth children, with an
infinite number of other sorrows. Woman therefore is not now what Eve
was at her creation. The condition of woman then was inconceivably
better and more excellent than now; she was then in no respect
whatever inferior to Adam, whether you consider the endowments of her
body or those of her mind.

But we may here inquire when God says, "It is not good that the man
should be alone," what is that "good" of which God is speaking, seeing
that Adam was righteous and had no need of the woman as we have, who
bear about with us our flesh all leprous with sin? My reply is, that
God is speaking of a common "good," or the good of the species; not of
personal good. All personal good Adam already possessed. He enjoyed
perfect innocency. But the common good of which all other animals
partook, he possessed not. He could not propagate his species by
generation. Adam was alone. Nor had he as yet a companion for that
wonderful work of generation and the preservation of his species. The
"good" therefore here divinely expressed, signifies the multiplying of
the human race. In the same manner also Adam, although innocent and
righteous, did not as yet possess that high good to which he was
created; namely, a spiritual and glorious immortality, to which he
would have been translated of God in his appointed time, if he had
continued in his innocency. The meaning of "good" therefore in the
text is, that Adam being himself a most beautiful creature possessed,
as far as his own person was concerned, everything he could require.
But there was yet wanting to him one thing, the "good" of God's
"blessing;" the generating and multiplying of his species; for he was

Now, as nature is corrupted by sin, woman is necessary, not only for
the multiplying of the human race but also for the companionship, help
and protection of life. For domestic government needs the ministration
of women. Nay, such is our wretchedness by the fall of Adam, that, to
our shame and sorrow be it confessed, we have need of woman as a
remedy against sin. Wherefore, in contemplating woman, we must
consider not only the place in domestic government which she fills,
but the remedy for sin, which God has made her to supply; as the
apostle Paul says, "To avoid fornication, let every man have his own
wife," 1 Cor. 7:2. And a certain master of divine sentiments also
eloquently observes, "Marriage was instituted in paradise as a duty
and an obedience to God; but since the fall it is a remedy also for
sin." Wherefore we are obliged to adopt a union with this sex to avoid
sin. This is indeed a sad and disgraceful confession to make; but it
is the truth. For there are very few now who take unto themselves
wives, purely as a duty of obedience to God; according to his original
will in the creation of man as male and female!

Other animals however have no necessity of this kind. Therefore they
as a rule come together once in the year only, and are contented with
that intercourse, as if by this fact they said, "We come together as a
duty to God!" But it is far different with men. They are compelled to
have recourse to their union with wives in matrimony to avoid sin.
Hence we generate and are born in the midst of sins on both sides. For
our parents do not come together as a pure duty to God, but as a
remedy also, for the sake of avoiding sin.

And yet it is by means of this very remedy and by this very miserable
state of things, that God fulfils his original blessing pronounced
upon male and female when he created them. And thus men, though in sin
and with sin, generate and are generated. But this would not have been
the case in paradise, had man continued in the innocency of his
original creation. Generation in that state would have been a most
holy yielding of obedience to God, utterly free from that impure lust
which now exists. And children would have been born in original
righteousness and rectitude. They would have known God immediately at
their birth, without any instruction or admonition. They would have
spoken of his holy name, praised him and given him thanks.

But all these glorious things are now lost. Yet it is profitable to us
to think upon them deeply, that we may hold fast some sense of the
real state in which we now are; namely, under all the effects of
original sin; and that we may rightly contemplate also the original
condition of Adam, a state of perfect righteousness, which state we
hope again to enjoy in all its blessedness at the "restitution of all
things," Acts 3:21.

With respect to the divine expression, "Let us make," I have already
observed that Eve was created, as well as Adam, by a peculiar counsel
of God, in order that it might be manifest that she was a partaker
with him of a better and an immortal life; a hope not possessed by any
of the other living creatures, who live a natural life only without
any hope of an eternal life.

That which the Latin renders "like him" in this passage, is in the
Hebrew, "which may be before him." God, by this expression also,
distinguishes the human female from the females of all other living
creatures, which are not always "before" their mates. But woman was
expressly created that she might be "before" her husband always and
everywhere. Even as the emperor also calls the life of married persons
"an individual life." Whereas the brute female requires her mate only
once in the whole year, and after she has conceived she returns to her
own kind and takes care of herself. Of her young, which were brought
forth at any previous time, she takes no care whatever. She does not
cohabit with her mate always.

The nature of marriage among mankind however is utterly different.
There the woman is married by the man that she may be "before him"
always and may cohabit with him as one flesh. And if Adam had remained
in his state of innocency, this individual life or cohabitation of man
and wife would have been most sweet and delightful. The embrace itself
also would have been most holy and reverential, and worshipful of God.
There would have existed none of that impurity and shame arising from
sin, which now exists.

Is not this fallen state of man most awful to contemplate! For in its
holy reality there was nothing more excellent, nothing more admirable
in all nature, than the fulfilment of the divine law of generation. It
was an act of obedience to God, the highest which man could perform
next to praising and lauding his glorious name, which obedience Adam
and Eve rendered unto God in as much holiness and freedom from all sin
as when they were engaged in acts of praise and adoration. The
fulfilment of this law of nature and of God indeed still continues.
But how wretched are these present remnants of the original innocency!
How horribly deformed by sin, pollution and baseness of every
description. All these things are deplorable evidences of nature's
original sin.

For the great and glorious ends of creation there was need of the
woman as a helpmeet for man. For man alone could not generate; nor
could the woman generate alone. As the apostle says, neither the man
nor the woman "had power over their own bodies" for that high end.
Hence the loftiest praises of each sex are, that the male is the
father and the woman the mother of the generation of mankind. The wife
in this high sense also is that helpmeet of the husband. But, as we
have repeatedly said, if we look at the state of originally-created
innocency, the generation of man has lost all its excellency, its pure
delight, its holiness and its worshipful obedience to God.

Moreover in this age and at this day, you may find many who wish that
they had no children at all born to them. And this far more than
barbarous inhumanity and enormity is found more particularly among
princes and nobles, who frequently abstain from marriage for the sole
reason that they may have no posterity. Still more base is the
practice found in those princes, who suffer themselves to be
counselled and persuaded not to marry, lest their families should
become too large for civil purposes. Such men are indeed worthy of
having their names blotted out from the land of the living, as the
punishment of their contempt of the laws and intents of God. Who is
there that would not execrate such swine-like monsters as these? These
inhuman beings however still further manifest in many base particulars
the nature and depth of original sin. Were it not for the consequences
of this mighty sin, we should all admire the fulfilment of the law of
God in generation, as one of the highest acts of the obedience and
worship of God. And we should extol it as one of the greatest gifts of
God with its due praise and admiration.

From the above inhuman abuse and contempt of marriage have arisen
those numerous reproaches of the female sex, which celibacy has
greatly augmented. Whereas it is one of the greatest of his blessings
that God has preserved for us women, even against the wishes and the
wills of such inhuman beings, both as a divine means of generation and
as a remedy also against the sin of fornication. In paradise woman
would have been indeed a helper in our duty and obedience to God, and
in our fulfilment of his command "to be fruitful and to multiply and
replenish the earth," Gen. 1:28. But now woman is in a very great
measure a medicine and remedy for sin. So that in truth we can now
scarcely mention the name of woman without shame; most certainly we
cannot unite ourselves to her without some sense and blush of that
shame. The mighty cause of all this is original sin. For in paradise
the union of man and woman would have been wholly free from the
thought of shame or impurity. The whole union would have been looked
upon and felt, as a duty of obedience to God, ordained by himself and
sanctified by the blessings he pronounced upon it.

The same calamitous state on account of sin rests upon us also, even
in the midst of all our spiritual gifts. For although we may have
faith and live in faith, yet we cannot be free from doubt, fear and
the sensible awe of death. These just punishments of original sin, our
holy fathers in the faith deeply saw and felt. That which now follows
is as it were a repetition of what has preceded, concerning the
creation of Adam, by which repetition Moses would more conveniently
arrive at his intended description of the manner in which woman was
created. In reading what follows, therefore, we must consider Adam to
have been already created.

V. 19a. _And out of the ground Jehovah God formed every beast of the
field, and every bird of the heavens; and brought them unto the man to
see what he would call them._

As if Moses had said, "God now willed by a certain deep and deliberate
counsel to create woman. For he saw that every other living creature
had a helpmeet for generation. Adam alone had none. God therefore now
brought all the living creatures of the earth and of the air to Adam,
to see what he would call them. And when Adam had given to each one
its appropriate name, he found no living creature like unto himself as
an helpmeet for him."

And here we are again struck with the wonderful knowledge and wisdom
which Adam possessed. Created as he was in innocency, righteousness
and knowledge, he beholds all living creatures stand before him; and
without any new illumination for the purpose, but by the pure
properties and excellency of his nature alone, he so discerns in a
moment the characteristic nature of each creature, that he gives it a
name exactly descriptive of its created peculiarities. Well indeed
might the "dominion" over all living creatures have been added of God
to man, to whom he had given such intellectual light as this! And this
"dominion" which God had conferred on Adam, he now ratifies anew by
bringing to him all creatures to be named according to his judgment.
By all this it is further manifest that Adam could by one single word
compel lions, bears, boars, tigers and any other of the noble animals
to do any thing he wishes, according to their natural properties and
powers; all which properties he thoroughly understood at a moment's
glance when he gave them their names. But all these original
endowments of man are utterly lost by sin.

No wonder therefore that we have no knowledge of the adorable God,
when we know nothing as Adam did of the natures, powers and properties
even of the beasts of the earth. There exist indeed very many books,
which describe the natures of the beasts and of plants. But what a
length of time, what an extent of observation and of experience were
necessary to collect the contents of all these volumes! In Adam
however there was a marvelously different illumination and intellect.
He discovered by a moment's glance at each living creature its whole
nature and all its separate faculties and created endowments; and that
too with a perfection far above that to which we can ever attain by a
whole life of devoted study and research in natural history. And as
this knowledge in Adam was a peculiar and eminent gift of God, so was
it greatly pleasing and delightful to God. And on account of this
pleasure God brought the living creatures to Adam and commanded him to
use the knowledge he had thus given him in assigning to each living
creature its appropriate name.

Vs. 19b, 20. _And whatsoever the man called every living creature,
that was the name thereof. And the man gave names to all cattle, and
to the birds of the heavens, and to every beast of the field; but for
man there was not found a helpmeet for him (to be before him)._

What an ocean of knowledge and wisdom there was in this one man! And
although Adam lost much of this knowledge by sin, yet my full belief
is that the whole contents of the books of all the wise, which have
ever been written throughout all ages since letters first had birth,
have not to this day equalled that wisdom which Adam possessed, even
after his sin and fall. But all has become obscured by degrees in his
posterity and is well nigh extinct altogether.

But we must here again note that Moses is still engaged describing the
creation-work and the divine transactions of the sixth day. For that
which he had briefly said in the divine expression, "_Let us_ make
man," Gen. 1:26, he now more fully explains in this second chapter, in
order that he might distinguish man from all other living creatures by
more than one recorded testimony. Wherefore he devotes this whole
second chapter to a more particular explanation of the creation of

With reference to the man Moses has already said that he was made of
the dust of the ground, and that the breath of life was breathed of
God into his nostrils. He has also stated that the whole multitude of
living creatures was brought before Adam. When Adam had seen among
them all no helpmeet for him, woman was made to be his companion in
the generation and preservation of the human species. For God did not
will that the posterity of Adam should be made out of the ground, as
he himself was, but that it should be propagated as the other animals.
As to our bodily life we eat and drink, generate and are generated
just like all animals. However Moses is greatly concerned in his
thought to separate and distinguish man from all the animal creatures,
because in this way the end is reached that after this earthly life
man should become a partaker of the spiritual and eternal life. Now
all these things pertain, as we have just observed, unto the creation
work of the sixth day. For as God had said, "Be fruitful and
multiply," the explanation of the manner in which the woman was
created and brought to Adam became a necessary part of the sacred

All this is moreover intended to lead us into the firm belief and
satisfaction of mind that six days were really occupied by God in his
creation of all things, contrary to the opinion of Augustine and
Hilary, who think that all things were created in a moment. To such an
extent do they depart from the history of facts and follow allegories
and indulge in I know not what kind of dreamy speculations. Nor do I
speak these things by way of reproach to the holy fathers, whose
labors we ought to venerate. I make these statements for the
confirmation of the truth and for our own consolation. The fathers
were great men. Yet they were men; men who had fallen and still liable
to fall. So that we have no ground for exalting ourselves like the
monks, who worship all things belonging to themselves as if they were
not liable to fall. Whereas for my part, it is rather a great
consolation to me than otherwise, that the fathers are discovered to
have erred and fallen at times also. Because my thoughts run thus: If
God pardoned sins and errors in them why should I despair of pardon
from him? On the other hand, despair immediately comes on if you begin
to think that the fathers did not experience the same things which you
feel and suffer. It is at the same time quite certain that there was a
mighty difference between the call of the apostles and the call of the
fathers. On what grounds therefore can we esteem the writings of the
fathers equal to the writings of the apostles?

But with special reference to the sacred passage of Moses before us,
how, I pray you, is it possible that six days should be either a
moment or an hour? Neither faith, which rests wholly in the Word, nor
reason itself, can admit this. Wherefore let us be assured, that there
were between the divine acts of the creation certain intervals. Thus,
Adam is first created alone. Then there are brought unto him all the
animals, not only that he might name them, but that he might be tried,
by seeing whether he could find in all this collection of creatures a
meet companion. After this, Eve is created. Lastly, these words are
spoken by the Lord, "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely
eat," etc., which words struck the ears of Adam. All these things
carry with them a proof that they occurred at certain intervals of
time, unless indeed you would turn away like Origen from such plain
and positive historical facts to the most absurd allegories. For Moses
is not here giving us a record of God himself, in whose sight all
things past, present, and future are ever present in the same moment;
but he is recording a history of Adam, a creature of time, who was
made and who lived; and with whom as a creature there is a difference
between the present and the future. I have deemed it right to bring
these things to your recollection by this repetition. Now let us
proceed with Moses.

V. 21. _And Jehovah God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and
he slept; and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead

Here again not faith only, but reason and fact also, prove that the
time of Adam's being awake was one space of time and the time of his
being asleep another. These spaces have evidently their intervals. As
therefore Adam was created in the sixth day, and all the animals were
brought to him on that day; as he heard the command of God concerning
the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; as God sent upon him
sleep, it is manifest beyond dispute; that all these facts have
reference to time and to this animal life. And it is equally evident
that the days mentioned in the sacred record must be understood to
have been true and real days, contrary to the opinion of the holy
fathers. Whenever therefore we find the opinions of the fathers to
disagree with the Scriptures, we tolerate them with reverence and
acknowledge them to be our elders in the Church; but we do not for
their sakes depart from the authority of the Scriptures.

Elegant and true is that sentiment of Aristotle, in the First Book of
his "Ethics," "Where both friends and truth are near to us, it is our
sacred duty to give the higher honor to the truth." The philosopher of
old here plainly affirms that it is better to stand by the truth than
to show too much favor to those who may be our friends or even our
relations. Such a sentiment is nobly becoming a philosopher. If,
therefore, a natural man and a heathen holds that such a principle
should be maintained in moral, human and civil disputations, with how
much greater firmness should it be held in the discussion of those
things which stand on the manifest testimony of the Scriptures! How
jealous should we be of setting the authority of men above that of the
Word! Men may be deceived, but the Word of God itself is the wisdom of
God and infallible truth.

But with respect to this portion, namely, the divine history itself,
what I pray you, could be recorded more fabulous in the estimation of
human reason, if you wish to follow that? For could any one be found
who would believe this fact concerning the creation of Eve, if it were
not thus openly declared? For here all the other creatures stand as
plain examples to the contrary. Every other living creature is
generated from male and female, and is so generated that it is the
female that brings it into the light. But here the female herself is
created from the male; and that too with a no less wonderful creation
than that by which Adam himself was made a living soul, from the dust
of the ground. These facts are mere monstrosities and outrageous
absurdities, if you set aside the authority of the Holy Scriptures and
follow the judgment of reason. Hence it is that Aristotle affirms that
neither the first man nor the last man can be given as the foundation
of an argument. And reason would force us to affirm the same of her
naked self, without this text before us. For if it be received as a
truth, a truth which the uniform law of the whole creation testifies,
that nothing is born alive but from male and female, it is a true
conclusion that the first man cannot be accounted for in that way.

The same conclusion may also be declared to be correct by human reason
concerning the creation of the world, which the philosophers of old
therefore concluded to be eternal. For although reasons are put
together by reason, by which is proved that the world is not eternal;
yet reason herself, all the while, settles down with all her powers
upon this basis of conclusion. For what beginning will reason find in
nothing? And again, if you say that the world had a beginning and that
there was a time in which the world had no existence it will
immediately follow close upon your heels that, before the world there
was nothing at all. Other absurdities will follow in an infinite
series; by the multitude of which philosophers being struck plunged at
once into the conclusion that the world was eternal.

But again if you affirm that the world was infinite, there immediately
springs up before you another new infinity in the successive
generation of mankind. But then philosophy will not admit a plurality
of infinities; and yet it is compelled to admit them upon its own
conclusions, because it knows neither the beginning of the world nor
the beginning of mankind. This hostile contrariety and utter obscurity
brought the Epicureans into a state which compelled them to assert,
that both the world and mankind existed without any reason at all; and
that without any reason at all they would both perish; just as beasts,
which after they are dead, are just as if they never had been. From
premises like these other terrible conclusions naturally follow;
either that there is positively no God at all, or that he cares not at
all for human things. These are the labyrinths into which reason is
brought, when without the word of God it follows its own judgment.

Therefore it is very profitable thus to behold how impossible it is
that reason or our own wisdom should go beyond the above stated
limits, in its judgments concerning the creature. For what, I pray
you, does the philosopher with all his reasoning know of the heavens
or the earth or the world; seeing that he understands not whence
either of them came or in what end they all or either of them, are
appointed to terminate. Nay, what do we ourselves know concerning
ourselves? We all see that we are men. But ought we not to believe
also and know that we have this man for our father and that woman for
our mother? But how or why this is so can never be learned from human
reason. Hence all our knowledge and our wisdom lie only in the
comprehension of the material or formal cause; and even in these we
often make the most wretched mistakes. But as to the efficient and
final cause, we know nothing, nor can explain anything whatsoever. And
the saddest part of our ignorance is, that our deficiency is at its
worst when we come to dispute or to speculate concerning the world
into which we are born and in which we live. Is not this, I pray you,
a poor and miserable pretension to wisdom?

Hence Aristotle affirms, that man and the sun beget man. A noble
doctrine of human philosophy, truly! Follow this highest effort of
natural reason and it will bring you at length to the inevitable
conclusion, that both man and the sun are eternal and infinite, as the
same philosopher concluded the world itself was. For you will never
find a man who was or is in himself either the beginning or the end of
himself or of his race. Wherefore I myself am not able to discover by
my own reason, either the beginning or the end of my Martin Luther, if
I wish to understand either my beginning or my end, and not to believe
it. For as to our possessing a formal knowledge or a knowledge of the
forms of things, a cow possesses the same, which knows her own home,
or, as the German proverb has it, "The cow sees and knows the gate."
Here again the awfulness of the original fall and sin is revealed. For
we are thereby rendered so destitute of true knowledge that we cannot
of ourselves discover either our beginning or our end.

After all the disputations therefore of Aristotle, Plato, Cicero and
other philosophers of note, who have concluded from man's walking
upright, while all other animals have their heads inclined downwards,
looking towards the earth, and from his possessing the powers of
intellect, that man is a singular animal and created to immortality
according to all this argument and conclusion, what a poor, meagre and
almost futile wisdom is this! The whole of it after all is derived
from a contemplation of the form. And if you should still go on to
argue upon the material of man, would not the same human reason compel
you to conclude that this nature of ours is perishable, must be
dissolved and cannot be immortal?

What then is the conclusion of the whole matter? Let us learn it. It
is, that the only true wisdom is found in the Holy Scriptures and in
the Word of God. For the Word teaches us not only concerning the
material, not only concerning the form of the whole creation, but also
concerning the efficient and the final cause of all things; and
concerning the beginning and the end of all things; WHO created them,
_what_ he created and for what end he created that which he did
create. Without the knowledge of the two causes, the efficient and the
final, all our highest wisdom differs but little from that of the
beasts, which use their eyes and their ears, but know nothing of the
beginning or the end of what they see.

The text before us therefore is very remarkable. And the more it seems
to be contrary to all our experience and to reason, the more
diligently should we ponder it and the more firmly should we believe
it. By this text therefore we are taught the beginning of man, that
the first man did not exist by generation, as Aristotle and the other
philosophers, deceiving themselves by human reasonings, have dreamed;
that the propagation of the posterity of the first man is indeed
effected by generation; but that the first man himself was created
from the dust of the field and that the first woman was formed and
fashioned out of a rib of the man, extracted from him while he was
asleep. Here therefore we have the true beginning of man which all the
reason and philosophy of Aristotle could not discover.

The beginning then of man, as wrought of God, being thus established
by the testimony of Moses, there follows the propagation of man by
means of the union of male and female; in no degree less wonderful
than the original creation of each. The whole human race are
procreated by a single drop of human blood. On this propagation of
mankind it is that the apostle Paul eloquently displays his
philosophy, derived from this sacred portion of the Scripture, before
the philosophers of Athens, "The God that made the world and all
things therein," etc., "seeing he himself giveth to all life, and
breath, and all things; and he made of one blood every nation of men
to dwell on all the face of the earth; that they should seek God, if
haply they might feel after him and find him, though he is not far
from each one of us: for in him we live, and move, and have our
being," Acts 17:24-28. Here Paul speaks before all the Athenian
philosophers of the propagation of mankind "by the blood of one," as
he expresses it. If therefore the whole race of mankind have been
generated from one small drop of blood of one man, and are still so
generated, as the experience of all men throughout the whole world
testifies, most certainly this miracle is no less wonderful and
admirable than were those original wonders, namely, the creation of
the first man from the dust of the ground, and that of the first woman
from the rib of the man.

But how is it that the original miracles of the creation of Adam and
Eve seem to us so wonderful and so incredible; while the still
standing miracle of the continuous propagation of man, which we all
know and daily see, excites no wonder or admiration at all? It is
because, as Augustine says, "Miracles become no miracles at all, by
familiarity." Hence we wonder not at the admirable light of the sun,
because we see it every day. For the same reason we admire not other
gifts and blessings of God's creation, but are blind and deaf to them
all. On the same ground Pythagoras well said, that a most sweet and
marvelous concert of sounds was effected by the harmony and velocity
of the motions and revolutions of the heavenly bodies, but that men
became deaf to this celestial concert by hearing it continually; just
as those who are accustomed to the roarings of the Nile are not at all
affected by the thunders of the water, while to others, who are not
accustomed to them, they are awful and intolerable. There is no doubt
that Pythagoras received this idea from the fathers by tradition. Not
however that they really believed in any actual harmony of sounds,
made by the motions of the heavenly bodies. Their meaning was that the
creation of these celestial bodies was truly delightful and marvelous;
but that their beauty and their glory were not duly observed by us
ungrateful and insensate beings; and that we did not render unto God
the praises due to him, as the Creator of such wonderful and admirable

Thus also it is a great miracle that a small seed placed in the ground
should cause to spring forth a lofty and magnificent oak. But as this
is so familiar as an everyday occurrence, it makes no impression upon
us; just so little do we appreciate the nature and manner of our own
propagation. For why is it not worthy of the highest admiration that a
woman should receive human seed, which then grows, and as Job 10:11 so
beautifully says, "Thou hast clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit
me together with bones and sinews;" that is, formed me and nourished
me in my mother until I was matured to live in the air, separated from
her. In this new state of existence I received no new nourishment, but
it came from the same mother in a new way and manner, in that from
both breasts of my mother as from fountains, her milk went forth by
which her infant was nourished. All this is most wonderful and utterly
incomprehensible, but lightly esteemed by us because we have truly
become deaf to this most pleasant and lovely music of nature.

Whereas could all these marvelous realities be seen and estimated by
the vision of true faith, they would be no more common things to the
beholder, nor less miracles, than that which Moses here records, when
he testifies that one of Adam's ribs was taken from his side while he
was asleep, and that the woman Eve was formed out of it by the hand of
God. For if it had pleased the Lord to form us as he did Adam, from
the dust of the ground, by this time that manner of forming man might
have ceased also to be a miracle in our sight; and we might now
perhaps be rather admiring the existing law of the generation of
mankind by male and female. So true is that barbarously-composed
perhaps, but by no means random-shot poetical line,

  _Omne rarum carum: vilescit quotidianum._
  "Rare things will e'er delight our eyes,
   But common things are no surprise."

Thus if the stars did not rise every night and in all places, what
crowds would gather where the light of one night's starry heaven might
be witnessed! But now not one of us opens a single window to behold
the sight.

Most justly condemnable, therefore, is our ingratitude. For if we
believe God to be the efficient and final _cause_ of all things, ought
we not to wonder at his works, to be delighted with them, and to
proclaim them always and everywhere? But how few are there who do this
in truth and from the heart?

In vain therefore and absurd is the doctrine of Aristotle, that man
and the sun beget man. We learn from this book a far different cause
of propagation, the commanding Word of God which says to this and to
that husband, Thy drop of blood shall on this occasion become a male,
and on that occasion a female. But of this word reason knows nothing.
Therefore reason can do nothing but invent trifles and absurdities
concerning the causes of such mighty things. Medical professors,
following the philosophers, have given us their various opinions
concerning the propagation of mankind; and though reason may not be
able to deny the justness of many of them, yet all of them put
together cannot reach the _great first cause_. The Holy Spirit leads
us far deeper than all the opinions of men, when it sets before us the
Word of God, by which all things are created and conserved.

Hence the mighty reason why a man, and not an ox nor an ass, is
generated by a drop of human blood, is the effectual power of the Word
which was spoken by God at the creation of all things, "in the
beginning." It is in divine truth therefore that Christ teaches us in
the Lord's Prayer to call upon God as our _Father_, and that the Creed
teaches us to confess God as our _Creator_. When we look back
therefore to this first cause, then can we speak of all these things
with pureness, with holiness and with joy. But if we leave out the
first cause, we cannot even think of them without baseness and

From this part of our sacred discussion we further behold the horrible
nature of the fall and of original sin, in that the whole human race
is sunk in ignorance of its very origin. We see male and female come
together in marriage union. We see the female at her appointed time
bring forth from a drop of masculine blood her infant into the light
of heaven. These things, we repeat, are familiar to the sight and to
the knowledge of all; and yet, if the Word teach and instruct thee
not, thou knowest nothing of the marvelous work which is wrought and
which thine eyes behold. This ignorance is abundantly proved by the
vain disputations of philosophers, which we have just been
contemplating. Is not this then a miserable ignorance and a horrible

Whereas, had Adam continued in his innocency, he would have found no
need of instructing his posterity in their origin, even as there was
no need of being himself instructed in the creation of his wife Eve,
for the moment he saw her he knew that she was "bone of his bones, and
flesh of his flesh." And had the original innocence continued, the
same knowledge of themselves would have existed in all the posterity
of Adam. They would all have understood the great final and efficient
Cause of which things we now know little or nothing more than the
beasts of the field themselves.

Therefore to the ears of reason this is a most beautiful and pleasing
fable which philosophers have with pleasure greatly misused, if they
heard it and just as they heard it, especially those versed in the
arts and wisdom of the Egyptians. But for us it is an inexpressibly
precious wisdom that makes known to us the fable the world judges
ridiculous; namely, that the genesis of the generation of man was
constituted by the Word of God. For God takes the dust of the earth
and says, "Let us make man!" Likewise afterwards he takes the rib of
Adam and says, "Let us make a helpmeet for man." We will now consider
the words themselves since we have referred sufficiently to the
doctrine as it was necessary to do so.

Having thus discussed, as was necessary, the divine facts themselves,
contained in the text before us, let us now consider the expressions
used by the sacred historian in recording them.

Jehovah God, says Moses, caused to glide or fall upon Adam THARDEMAH,
"a slumber" or a "deep sleep;" for the verb RADAM signifies "to fall
asleep as those do who become drowsy unaware and nod the head." For
there are various kinds and degrees of sleep. Some are heavy and
profound, which are so deep as to be disturbed by no dreams. These are
healthful, because they moisten the body, are beneficial to promote
digestion, and are attended with no distress to the head. Others again
are light, mingled as it were with wakefulness. In these latter,
dreams are more frequent. They also, more or less, distress the head
and are proofs of a weakness of body.

Moses says therefore that Adam was sunk into a profound sleep; so that
stretched on the grassy earth, he breathed deeply, as those do who
sleep well and sweetly. It was such a sleep that God, as Moses informs
us, caused to fall upon Adam. And this is indeed a sleep truly divine,
a most delightful gift of God, which comes down upon us like a dew
from above, and softly pervades and irrorates the whole body.

When Adam therefore was thus fallen asleep, the Lord took out one of
his ribs. The Hebrew word ZELA signifies, "the rib with the side."
Wherefore my view of the passage is, that the Lord did not take the
bare rib of Adam, but the rib clothed with the flesh, according to
that very expression of Adam below, verse 23, "this is now bone of my
bones, and flesh of my flesh." And God, be it observed, did this by
his Word. So that we are not to suppose that God used any cutting,
after the manner of a surgeon. God said, out of this bone thus clothed
with flesh, "Let there be woman!" and it was so. And God afterwards
filled up the aperture in his side with flesh.

Here a discussion is raised by some marvelous triflers of
commentators. They will have it that the male has more ribs on one
side of the body than on the other. But surgeons, who are anatomists,
know better than this. Lyra disputes the point thus: "Are we to
consider that the extracted rib was a superfluous one in the body of
Adam? If it was so, it was a monstrosity. If it were not so, it must
follow that Adam after- ..."[text not printed] At length, Lyra arrives
at the conclusion that the extracted rib was superfluous in Adam, as a
solitary instance; and that therefore when it had been extracted, the
body of Adam was perfect. And yet, that the body of Adam was deficient
in this extracted superfluous rib, because of the creation of the
woman out of it.

But to all these things we give an answer by the words, "God said!"
This divine Word settles all arguments of this description. What need
is there then of disputation as to whence God took any particular
portion of created material, who by one word of his mouth can create
and did create all things? All these idle questions however are used
by philosophers and professors of medicine, who dispute about the
works of God without the Word of God; whereas by so doing, they sink
out of sight both the glory of the Holy Scriptures and the glorious
majesty of the Creator.

Wherefore leaving all such questions as these, we will abide simply by
the history of the facts, as they are recorded by Moses; that Eve was
formed out of the rib of Adam, and that the aperture made in that part
of his body was closed up with flesh. Thus Adam was made out of the
dust of the ground. I was made out of a drop of my father's blood. But
how my mother conceived me, how I was formed in the womb, how my bones
grew there, Eccles. 11:5, all this I leave to the glory of my Creator.
It is indeed incredible that a man should be born from a drop of
blood; yet it is a truth. If therefore this Almighty power can produce
a human being from a drop of blood, why not from a lump of earth also,
why not from a rib!

And as to Adam's sleeping so profoundly, as not to feel what was done
unto him; this soundness of sleep is as it were a sweet picture of
that change which Adam would have witnessed had he continued in his
state of innocency. For a righteous nature could have experienced no
pains of death. Adam would have lived in the highest possible
pleasure, in obedience to God and in admiration of his works until the
time of his change, appointed of God, had come; and then he would have
experienced a removal something like this sleep, which fell upon him
so sweetly as he lay down amid the roses and beneath the richest
foliage of trees. And in such a departing sleep would he have been
changed and translated into the glorified spiritual life, feeling no
more in death than he felt of his body being opened and of the
extraction of the rib, with its flesh, from his side.

But now this nature of ours must experience the pangs of death. That
dissolution of the body however is followed in the saints by the
sweetest of all sleep, until the day when we shall awake unto a
newness of life and a life eternal. And as Adam here in all the
fulness of wonder exclaims this is now bone of my bones and flesh of
my flesh, and yet was so sweetly and deeply sunk in sleep, that he
knew not that his rib had been extracted from his side; so shall we in
that day exclaim, Behold, into what sudden glory does this body,
lately gnawed by worms, arise, etc.

Thus far have we spoken with sufficient copiousness upon the creation
of Eve, which creation, although it seems to human reason perfectly
fabulous, is yet most sure and true, because it is recorded in the
Word of God, which alone teacheth the truth concerning the two
principal causes of philosophers, the efficient and the final; and
concerning the great first cause of all causes. The knowledge of which
two causes, where it can be obtained, is of the utmost moment even in
natural things. For what doth it profit to know how beautiful a
creature man is, if you know not the end for which he was created;
namely, that he was created for the worship of God, and that he might
live to all eternity with God.

Aristotle does indeed say something of note when he makes the end of
man to be happiness, a happiness consisting in the action of virtue.
But in all this weakness of our nature, who is there that ever yet
attained unto that end, when even the very best of men are exposed to
a multitude of evils, which the common trials of life or the depravity
and malice of men are sure to bring upon them? That happiness of which
Aristotle speaks, requires tranquility of mind to make it perfect; but
who can always hold fast that peace of mind, amid such tossings to and
fro of human life? In vain therefore is such an end proposed by the
philosopher, which no man can attain.

The principal end of man's creation therefore, which the Holy
Scriptures set before us is, that man was created in the likeness of
God, with the divine intent that he should live forever with God, and
that while here on earth he should praise and extol God, give him
thanks and obey his Word in all patience. And this end we do attain by
some means or other, through grace, though with all infirmity in this
life, and in the life to come we shall attain unto it perfectly. Of
these things philosophers know nothing. And therefore the world, in
the height of all its wisdom, is yet sunk in the deepest ignorance,
wherever it is found destitute of the Word or of theology. For men
without the Word know nothing of their beginning or their end. I
mention not any of the other living creatures, who are not created, as
we have abundantly shown, to know any of these things, nor to partake
of these high blessings.


V. 22. _And the rib, which Jehovah God had taken from the man, made
(built) he a woman, and brought her unto the man._

A new expression is this again, unheard before. Moses does not use the
verb "to create," or "to make," as in Gen. 1:26; but the verb "to
build." This has caused all commentators to conclude that some great
mystery lies under so singular a phraseology. Lyra thinks, with his
Rabbi Solomon, that the new form of the female body is intended to be
intimated. For, as the form of buildings is broader at the base, but
narrower at the upper part, so, he says, the bodies of women are
broader in the middle, and more contracted in the upper parts, while
men have wider chests and broader shoulders. But these are mere
peculiarities of certain parts of the body; whereas the Scripture is
speaking of the body as a whole, and calling it a building; just as
Christ himself calls the body the house of a man, Math. 12:29.

Others have recourse to an allegory, and say, that the woman is here
called "a building," on account of her being spoken of in the
Scriptures as a similitude of the Church. And as in a house there are
various parts, walls, beams, rafters, roof, etc.; so in the Church,
which is represented by the Holy Spirit under the similitude of a
body, on account of the diversity of its members, there are various
offices and administrators. As to myself I am by no means displeased
at anything that is appropriately advanced by those who would transfer
what is here said respecting the building of the woman, to Christ and
his Church. But as all these opinions amount only to an allegory after
all, the historical and proper meaning of this passage must be
diligently searched into and retained. For a woman, especially a
married woman, is here sacredly termed "a building," not
allegorically, but historically and really. And the Scriptures
universally use this form of expression.

Hence Rachel says to Jacob, "Take my maid Bilhah, that I may also be
built up by her," Gen. 30:3. The Scriptures speak in the same manner
also concerning Sarah, Gen. 16:2. And in Exodus, it is said concerning
the midwives, "that the Lord built them a house," Exod. 1:21; that is,
that the Lord repaid them for all the services which they had rendered
unto his people Israel, contrary to the command of the king, by
blessing them with a household and family. So again, in the history of
David, when he had it in his heart to build a house for the Lord, he
receives this answer from God by Nathan, "Furthermore, I tell thee,
that the Lord will build thee an house," 1 Chron. 17:10.

It is a form of expression therefore quite general in the Scripture,
to term a woman a domestic "building," on account of the fruits of
generation and the bringing up of the offspring. But the real nature
of this building up, which would have existed had Adam not fallen, we
have now lost by his sin; so that we cannot now reach it, as we have
all along observed, even in thought. Our present fallen condition in
this life retains certain small miserable remnants of the original
domestic life, cultivation of the earth, and defense of property; and
also of dominion over the beasts. We have the rule over sheep, oxen,
geese, fowls, etc.; though boars, bears, lions, etc., regard not this
our dominion. So also there remains a certain hardly visible remnant
of this female building. Whoso taketh to himself a wife, hath as it
were in her a certain nest and home. He dwells with her in a certain
place, as birds nestle with their young in their little nest. But this
dwelling together in the one nest they know not, who live unmarried
like the impure Papists.

This living together of male and female, as man and wife, in the state
of matrimony, their keeping house together, their being blessed
together with offspring, their bringing up their children, is a faint
picture and remnant of that blessed original married life, on account
of the nature of which, Moses here terms the woman a "building." The
posterity of Adam, had he continued in his innocency, would have taken
to themselves wives, would have parted from Adam their father, and
would have chosen for themselves certain little garden spots of their
own, and would have there dwelt with their wives, tilled the ground,
and brought up their children. There would have been no need of
splendid mansions built of hewn stone, nor of rich kitchens, nor
cellars of wine, which now make up the luxuries of life. But as birds
in their little nests, the married pairs would have dwelt together
here and there, diligently laboring and calling upon God. And the
women would have been the principal cause of their husbands living in
certain dwelling places in paradise. Whereas now, under our present
fallen and calamitous state by sin, we absolutely need houses of wood
and stone, to defend us from the injuries of the weather. And though
we cannot form even a conception, as we have said, of the original
felicity of man and woman in their marriage happiness, yet even these
miserable remnants, we repeat, are excellent gifts of God; to live in
the possession of which, without continual thanks, is wickedness in
the extreme.

With reference to the "dominion" which man received from the hand of
God, we feel how much of that dominion is lost since our fall and
defilement by sin. Yet, what an infinite mercy still remains to us,
that this "dominion" was given to man and not to the devil! For how
should we possibly have been able to stand in this matter, against
such an invisible enemy, especially if power to harm had been
possessed by him equal to his will? We might all have been in danger
of annihilation in an hour, yea, in a moment, if Satan had determined
to infuriate the wild beasts against us. Although well nigh all the
original "dominion" is lost, it is an infinite blessing that our
present remnants of it are not possessed by the devil!

It is an infinite mercy also that we possess our present remnants of
generation. Although, in the state of original innocency women, as we
know, would have brought forth without pain; yet there would have been
a much more extensive fruitfulness. Whereas now the blessing of
generation is impeded by numberless diseases. It often happens that
the fruit of the womb does not arrive at maturity and birth and
sometimes the woman is barren altogether. All these defects are the
punishments of the horrible fall of Adam and of original sin. Just in
the same manner, to this present day, is the woman the "building," and
house, and home of the husband. To the woman the man devotes himself.
With her he lives; and together with her, he undertakes the labor and
care of bringing up the family; as it is written below, verse 24,
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife," etc.

But this living together as man and wife is not only attended with
those other trials, which afflict the marriage state in great number
and variety on account of sin, but is also astonishingly deformed and
marred by perverse nature; seeing that there are not only those who
consider it to be very wise and great to reproach the female sex and
to despise marriage, but who even forsake the wives whom they have
married, and cast off all paternal care of their children. Such men
destroy the building of God by their perverseness and wickedness. Men
of this description are a kind of monsters in nature. Wherefore let us
show our obedience to the Word of God by acknowledging our wives to be
the building of the Lord; through whom not only our house is built up
by generation, and by whom other necessary domestic duties are
performed; but through whom we the husbands themselves are also built
up, by our rising offspring around us. For wives are, as we have said,
a certain nest and center of habitation to which the husbands resort,
where they dwell and live in pleasure and happiness.

When Moses adds, "And he brought her unto the man," this is a certain
divine description of espousals especially worthy our observation. For
Adam does not take hold of Eve when created and draw her to himself,
according to his own purpose and will, but he waits till God brings
her to him; just according to the saying of Christ, "What therefore
God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," Math. 19:6, for
the joining of male and female is a lawful joining and ordinance, and
an institution divine.

Wherefore Moses here adopts his peculiar and appropriate phraseology,
"And he brought her to the man." Who brought her to the man? He, God,
Jehovah, Elohim, the Jehovah God, the Whole Divinity, the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Ghost. These all unitedly say to Adam, Behold, this
is thy bride with whom thou art to dwell and with whom thou art to
generate and bring up children. And there is no doubt whatever that
Adam received Eve with the utmost pleasure; for even now, in this
corrupt state of nature, the mutual love between bride and bridegroom
is peculiar, great and excellent.

But apart from the epileptic and apoplectic lust in the marriage state
today, it was a chaste and most pleasing love, and union itself was
most honorable and most holy. Now however sin pours itself in and
expresses itself from the eyes and ears everywhere, and then in all
the senses.

This passage demands particular notice. For it stands as the revealed
will of God, not only against all abuses of the sex and lusts of every
kind, but also as a confirmation of marriage, and all those impious
revilings and refusings by which the papacy has deformed and marred
matrimony. Is it not worthy of admiration that God instituted and
ordained marriage even in the state of innocency? Much more need then
have we of this divine institution and ordination in our present
state, wherein our flesh is weak and so corrupt through sin. This
divine consolation therefore stands proof and invincible against all
doctrines of devils, 1 Tim. 4:1. By the Scripture before us, we see
that marriage is a state of life divine; that is, ordained of God

What was it therefore that came into the minds of those tools of Satan
and enemies of Christ, who deny that there could be any holiness or
chastity in marriage, and who affirmed that those only were adapted
for ministers of churches who lived in celibacy, because the
Scriptures, they argued, said, Be ye clean that bear the vessels of
the Lord, Is. 52:11. Are then those who are married unclean? If so,
God himself is the author and institutor of uncleanness, who himself
brought Eve to Adam. Adam himself also did evil in suffering himself
to be persuaded to enter into a state of uncleanness, when his nature
in his state of innocency needed not marriage. But have not the
impious Papists suffered the righteous punishments of such
blasphemies? They have not only polluted themselves with harlots in
multitudes, but have indulged in other unmentionable wickednesses,
even unto abomination, and are at this day just ripe for the
punishments of Sodom and Gomorrah.

When I was a boy, marriage was positively considered so infamous on
account of all this impure and impious celibacy, that I used to
believe I could not even think of the married life without sin. For
the minds of men generally were filled with the persuasion that if any
one wished to live a holy life, and a life acceptable to God, a man
must never become a husband nor a woman a wife, but must take upon
them the vow of celibacy; and hence many men who had married became on
the death of their wives either monks or contemptible priests. All
those worthy men therefore who have labored and endeavored to cause
marriage to be honored as aforetime, according to the Word of God, and
to be held in all its due praise, have taken upon themselves a highly
useful and necessary service to the Church of Christ. So that now,
blessed be God, all men consider it to be good and holy to live in
unanimity and tranquility with a wife, even though it should be the
lot of any one, Prov. 16:33, to have a wife that is barren, or
laboring under any other affliction.

I do not however deny that there are some men who can live chastely
without marriage; but let these who have thus a gift greater than the
most of mankind, sail in their own ship. But as for that chastity
which the Pope so highly lauds in his monks and nuns, and contemptible
priests, it is in the first place polluted and contaminated by
numberless horrible sins; and in addition to all this, celibacy is an
institution of man without any warrant from the Word of God. O, what
triumphs would the Papists celebrate could they but prove by the Word
of God their celibacy to be a divine institution, as we can abundantly
prove marriage to be. With what mighty weight of the Pope's authority
would they compel all men to adopt their life of celibacy. Whereas now
the only commendation of celibacy, which they can discover, is a
tradition of men, or rather as Paul hath it, a doctrine of devils,
Col. 2:8; 1 Tim. 4:1.

V. 23a. _And the man said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of
my flesh._

The sentence which immediately follows, "Therefore shall a man leave
his father and his mother," etc., is cited by our Lord, Math. 19:5, as
the words of God himself, and not of Adam. But in that particular
point there is no difficulty whatever, because as Adam was pure and
holy the words of Adam may rightly be said to be divine words or the
voice of God, for God spoke through him. All the words and the works
of Adam in that state of innocency are divine, and therefore may truly
be said to be the words and works of God.

Eve is presented to Adam by God himself. And just in the same manner
as the will of God is prepared to institute marriage, so Adam is
prepared to receive Eve with all pleasure and holiness when brought
unto him. So even now also the affection of the intended husband
toward his betrothed spouse, is of a particular and elevated kind. It
is, nevertheless, deeply contaminated with that leprous lust of the
flesh which, in righteous Adam, had no existence.

It is worthy of our greatest wonder and admiration, that Adam, the
moment he glanced his eye on Eve, knew her to be a building formed out
of himself. He immediately said, "This is now bone of my bones, and
flesh of my flesh." These are not the words of an ignorant one, nor of
one who was a sinner; nor of one who was ignorant of the works and of
the creation of God. They are the words of one righteous and wise, and
full of the Holy Spirit; of that Holy Spirit who reveals to the world,
before ignorant of such high and holy wisdom, that God is the
efficient cause of marriage and of man's taking to himself a wife, and
that the final cause of marriage is that the wife might be unto her
husband a civil, moral and domestic habitation, and cohabitation. This
knowledge comes not from the five senses and reason merely. It is a
revelation, as we here see, of the Holy Spirit.

The expression HAPAAM, "now," "in this instance," or "at length," is
by no means useless or superfluous as it may at first seem. That very
word in this sentence, uttered by Adam, most beautifully expresses the
glad surprise and exulting joy of a noble spirit which had been
seeking this delightful meet companion of life and of bed; a
companionship full, not only of love, but of holiness. As if Adam had
said, I have seen all beasts; I have considered all the females among
them given to them of God for the multiplication and preservation of
their kind, but all these are nothing to me! This female however is
bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. She is at length what and all
I want. With her I desire to live, and with her to obey the will of
God in the propagation of a posterity. This is the kind of overflowing
feeling of joy and love which this particular word "HAPAAM," used by
Adam, is intended to express.

Now however this true purity, innocence and holiness are lost. There
still remains indeed a feeling of joy and affection in the intended
husband toward his spouse; but it is impure and corrupt, on account of
sin. The affection of Adam however was most pure, most holy and most
grateful to God, when under the excess of it, he said, "This is now
bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." She is not made of stone,
nor of wood, nor of a lump of earth, as I was. She is nearer to me
than all this, for she is made of my own very bones and very flesh.

V. 23b. _She shall be called Woman (man-formed), because she was taken
out of Man._

As Adam knew by the Holy Spirit the things just mentioned, which he
saw not before, and as he praises God and extols him for his having
created for him a meet life-companion out of his own body; so now, by
the same Spirit, he prophesies of his Eve's future, when he says that
she ought to be called a man-formed or man-like female (_virago_). The
truth is, that it is utterly impossible for any interpreter to convey
through any other language the peculiar strength and beauty of the
original Hebrew expression. ISCH signifies a man,--and Adam says
concerning Eve, "She shall be called ISCHA," as if we should say, She
shall be called _vira_, from _vir_, a man. Because a wife is an heroic
or man-like woman; for she does man-like things, and performs man-like

This name Adam gives to the woman contains in it a wonderful and sweet
description of marriage, in which, as the lawyers express it, "The
woman shines in the rays of her husband." For whatever the husband
possesses, is possessed and held by the wife also. And not only is all
their wealth possessed by them in common, but their children also,
their food, their bed, and their habitation. Their wishes are also
equal. So that the husband differs from the wife in no other thing
than in sex. In every other respect, the woman is really a man. For
whatsoever the man possesses in their house, the woman possesses also;
and what the man is, that also is the woman; she differs from the man
in sex only. In a word the woman, as Paul remarks in his instructions
to Timothy, is man-formed and man-like by her very origin; for, as the
apostle says to Timothy, Adam was first formed, then Eve from the man,
and not the man from the woman, 1 Tim. 2:13.

Of this communion of all things in marriage, we still possess some
feeble remnants, though miserable indeed they be when compared with
what they were in their original state. For even now the wife, if she
be but an honorable, modest and godly woman, participates in all the
cares, wishes, desires, pursuits, duties and actions of her husband.
And it was for this end indeed that she was created "in the
beginning;" and for this end was called _virago_, that she might
differ in sex only from the father of the family, since she was taken
from man.

And though this name can apply in its strictest and fullest sense to
Eve only, who, alone of all women, was created thus out of man, yet
our Lord applies the whole sentence of Adam to all wives when he says
that man and wife are one flesh, Math. 19:5, 6. Although therefore thy
wife be not made of thy flesh and thy bones; yet, because she is thy
wife, she is as much the mistress of thy house, as thou art the master
thereof, except that by the law of God, which was brought in after the
fall the woman is made subject to the man. That is the woman's
punishment, as are many other troubles also which come short of the
glories of paradise, concerning which glories the sacred text before
us gives us so much information. For Moses is not here speaking of the
miserable life which all married people now live; but concerning the
life of innocency, in which, had that innocency continued, the
government of the man and of the woman would have been equal and the

Hence it is that Adam gave the name, "woman," ISCHA, or "man-formed
female," _virago_ or _vira_, to Eve, prophetically on account of the
equal administration of all things with her husband in the house. But
now the sweat of the brow rests upon the man. And to the wife it is
commanded that she be in subjection to the man. There still remain
however certain remnants or dregs as it were of the woman's dominion.
So that the wife may still be called man-like female, on account of
her common possession of all things with her husband.

V. 24. _Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and
shall cleave unto his wife._

Christ in Math. 19:5 and Paul in 1 Cor. 6:16, apply these words of
Adam, as a common rule or law for our marriages since the loss of
original innocence. If therefore Adam had remained in his original
state of innocency, the children born unto him would have married; and
leaving the table and dwelling place of their parents, and living no
longer with them, would have had their own trees under which they
would have lived separate from their parents. They would have come
from time to time to their father Adam, sung a hymn, spoken gloriously
of God, called upon him, and then returned to their own houses.

And even now, though all other things are changed, yet this close bond
between married persons still remains firm. So that a man would leave
his father and his mother much sooner than he would leave his wife.
And where we find the contrary to this, for married persons are now
sometimes found to leave and forsake each other, all this is not only
contrary to the present divine command by the mouth of Adam, but such
things are awful signs of that horrible corruption, which has come
upon man through sin; and such corruption and unfaithfulness are
greatly increased by Satan, the father of all dissensions.

Heathen nations also have discovered that there is nothing more
appropriate for man nor beneficial for kingdoms than this oneness of
the life of married persons. Hence they affirm, that it is a
conclusion drawn from the law of nature that a wife, who shall retain
her individuality or oneness of life with her husband, even unto
death, is necessary for man. Hence also Christ himself says, that
Moses suffered the Jews to give their wives a bill of divorcement,
because of the hardness of their hearts; but that in the beginning it
was not so, Mark 10:4, Math. 19:8. These evils of divorcements have
all arisen since the fall through sin; as have also adulteries,
poisonings and such like, which are sometimes found among married
persons. Scarce a thousandth part of that primitive innocent, holy
marriage is now left to us. And even to this day the husband and the
wife have their home-nest, for the sake of mutual help and generation,
according to the command of God, issued by the mouth of our first
parent Adam; by which this state of married life and this leaving
father and mother is exaltedly and gloriously commended, as well as
commanded of God himself; as Christ also affirms in his reference to
the words of Adam, on which we are now dwelling.

This "leaving father and mother" however is not to be understood as a
command that the children of Adam, when married, should have nothing
more to do with their parents. The command reaches only to dwelling
any longer with their father and mother. It enjoins the children when
married to have their own home-nest. In the present state of sin, and
all its various evils, we often find that children are compelled to
support their parents, when worn down with age and necessities. But
had paradise and all its innocency continued, the state of life would
have been inconceivably more exalted and blessed than our present
fallen and sinful condition. Yet even then this same command of Adam,
or rather of God himself, would have been obeyed. The husband, through
love of his wife, would have chosen his homestead and made his
home-nest with her, as the little birds do, and would have left his
father and his mother for that purpose.

This sentence of Adam is also prophetic. For as yet there was no
father or mother; nor consequently were there any children. Adam
nevertheless through the Holy Spirit prophesies of that married life,
which should be in the world, and predictively describes the separate
dwelling of man and wife, and the separate domestic authorities and
governments of the several families in all ages; that each family
should have their own nest habitation, authority and rule.

V. 25. _And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not

This short closing sentence of the present chapter might have been
omitted without any loss, seeing that it mentions a circumstance for
recording which there seems no great need. For what does it concern us
to know whether those in paradise walked about naked or clothed in
raiment? This little clause of the concluding sentence however is very
striking and very necessary. It shows us in a matter apparently quite
insignificant, how dreadful an amount of evil this nature of ours has
suffered through original sin.

All nations, more especially those of the north, hold nakedness of the
body in great abhorrence. In like manner the more grave and modest
characters among us, not only condemn short military jackets, as they
are called, which are worn by our youth, but avoid public baths. And
our uncomely parts, 1 Cor. 12:23, are always most studiously covered.
This among us is wisdom and a moral discipline worthy of all praise.
But Adam and Eve, Moses informs us, went about naked, and were not
ashamed. For them therefore to go about naked was not only not
disgraceful, but even laudable, delightful and glorious to God.

But all this delight and glory we have now lost by sin. We alone, of
all creatures, are born naked; and with an uncovered skin we enter
into this world. Whereas all the other animals bring into the world
with them, as coverings of their own, skins, hairs, bristles, feathers
or scales. We, on the other hand, continually need the shadow of
buildings to protect us from the heat of the sun, and a multitude of
garments to defend us from the rain, the hail, the frost and the snow.
Adam however, had he continued innocent, would have felt none of these
injuries or inconveniences. But as the human eyes retain still that
peculiarity of nature, that they are not evilly affected or distressed
either by cold or by heat; so would the whole body of Adam have been
entirely free from the distresses of cold or heat, had he never
fallen. Had Eve, our mother, sat among us naked the mere form of her
breast and other members of her body would not have offended us. But
now because of sin they awaken in us shame and inflame us with evil
lust and passion.

This brief clause therefore shows us the awfulness of the evil which
has come upon us, as the consequence of the sin of ... [text not
printed] ... would be considered a proof of utter insanity. That very
state of body therefore which was in Adam and Eve their highest glory,
would be in us, should we be seen in that state, our deepest shame. It
was the very glory of man and would have continued to be so, had he
remained in his original innocency, that while all the other animals
had need of hairs, feathers, scales, etc., to cover their
unsightliness, man alone was created with that dignity and beauty of
body, that he could appear uncovered, in the glory of his created
nakedness. But all this glory is lost. We are now compelled not only
for necessary protection, but for the sake of avoiding the deepest
turpitude, to cover our bodies with more study and care than any other
animals of God's creation. For they all come into the world covered by

After this manner therefore does this second chapter of the book of
Genesis more clearly and fully describe the creative work of the sixth
day. In what manner man was created by the wonderful counsel of God.
In what manner the garden of Eden was formed, in which man might have
lived in the highest possible pleasure. In what manner, by means of
the prohibition of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the
external worship of the future church was instituted by divine
authority. By what external worship and in which place, had the
prohibition of the tree of knowledge not been violated by Adam and
Eve, they would have testified their obedience to God, had they not
been deceived and drawn aside by the snares of Satan.

Some suppose that Adam with his Eve passed the night of the sixth day
in paradise until the following seventh day, the Sabbath. And what
occurred on the Sabbath day, the following chapter will inform us.



V. 1a. _Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field
which Jehovah God had made._

In the preceding chapter, we were taught the manner in which man was
created on the sixth day; that he was created in the image and after
the likeness of God, that his will was good and perfect, and that his
reason or intellect was also perfect, so that whatsoever God willed or
said, that man also willed, believed and understood. And this
knowledge was necessarily accompanied by the knowledge of all other
creatures, etc. For wherever the perfect knowledge of God is, there
must also be, of necessity, the perfect knowledge of other things,
which are inferior to God.

This original state of things shows how horrible the fall of Adam and
Eve was, by which we have lost all that most beautifully and
gloriously illumined reason, and all that will which was wholly
conformed to the Word and will of God. For by the same sin and ruin we
have lost also all the original dignity of our bodies, so that now, it
is the extreme of baseness to be seen "naked," whereas originally that
nudity was the especial and most beautiful and dignified privilege of
the human race, with which they were endowed of God above all the
beasts of the creation. And the greatest loss of all these losses is,
that not only is the will lost, but there has followed in its place a
certain absolute aversion to the will of God. So that man neither
wills nor does any one of those things which God wills and commands.
Nay, we know not what God is, what grace is, what righteousness is;
nor in fact what sin itself is which has caused the loss of all.

These are indeed horrible defects in our fallen nature, to which they,
who see not and understand not, are more blind than moles. Universal
experience indeed shows us all these calamities; but we never feel the
real magnitude of them until we look back to that unintelligible but
real state of innocency, in which there existed the perfection of
will, the perfection of reason and that glorious dignity of the
nakedness of the human body. When we truly contemplate our loss of all
these gifts and contrast that privation with the original possession
of them, then do we, in some measure, estimate the mighty evil of
original sin.

Great causes of gross error therefore are created by those who
extenuate this mighty evil of original sin, who speak of our corrupt
nature after the manner of philosophers, who would represent human
nature as not thus corrupted. For such men maintain that there remain,
not only in the nature of man, but in the nature of the devil also,
certain natural qualities which are sound and whole. But this is
utterly false. What and how little remains in us that is good and
whole, we do indeed in some measure see and feel. But what and how
much we have lost, they most certainly see not who dispute about
certain remnants of good being still left in human nature. For most
certainly a good and upright and perfect will, well-pleasing to God,
obedient to God, confiding in the Creator, and righteously using all
his creatures with thanksgiving, is wholly lost. So that our fallen
will makes out of God a devil and dreads the very mention of his name;
especially when hard pressed under his judgments. Are these things, I
pray you, proofs that human nature is whole and uncorrupted?

But consider the state of those inferior things to these that pertain
unto God himself. The marriage union of male and female is an
institution appointed of God. How is that union polluted by the fall
and by sin! With what fury of lust is the flesh inflamed! By means of
sin therefore this divinely appointed union has lost all its beauty
and glory as a work of God, and is defiled with pollutions,
corruptions and sins innumerable. In like manner also we have a body;
but how miserable, how variously deformed by sin. It no longer retains
the dignity of nakedness, but requires careful and perpetual coverings
of its shame.

So also we possess a will and a power of reason. But with what
multiplied corruptions are they vitiated! For as our reason is
beclouded with great and varied ignorance, so our will also is not
only greatly warped by self-will, and not only averse to God, but the
enemy of God! It rushes with pleasure into evil, when it ought to be
doing quite the contrary.

This multiform corruption of nature therefore ought not only not to be
extenuated, but to be as much as possible magnified. It ought to be
shown that man is not only fallen from the image of God, from the
knowledge of God, from the knowledge of all other creatures, and from
all the dignity and glory of his nakedness, into ignorance of God,
into blasphemies against God, and into hatred and contempt of God; but
that he is fallen even into enmity against God; to say nothing at the
present time of that tyranny of Satan to which our nature has by sin
made itself the basest slave. These things, I say, are not to be
extenuated, but to be magnified by every possible description of them;
because if the magnitude of our disease be not fully known, we shall
never know nor desire the remedy. Moreover the more you extenuate sin,
the less you make grace to be valued.

And there is nothing which can tend to amplify and magnify the nature
and extent of original sin more fully and appropriately than the words
of Moses himself, when he says, that Adam and Eve were both naked, and
were not ashamed. No polluted lust was excited by the sight of each
other's nakedness. But the one looking on the other saw and
acknowledged the goodness of God. They both rejoiced in God, and both
felt secure in the goodness of God. Whereas now, we not only cannot
feel ourselves free from sin; not only do not feel ourselves secure in
the goodness of God, but labor under hatred of God and despair of his
goodness and mercy. Such a horrible state of the fall as this clearly
proves how far nature is from being in any degree sound and whole.

But with how much greater impudence still do our human reasoners make
this their affirmation of there being still left something sound and
whole, in the nature of the devil! For in the devil there is a greater
enmity, hatred and rage against God than in man. But the devil was not
created thus evil. He had a will conformed to the will of God. This
will however he lost, and he lost also that most beautiful and most
lucid intellect with which he was endowed, and he was converted into a
horrible spirit, filled with rage against his Creator. Must not that
have been then a most awful corruption, which transformed a friend of
God into the most bitter and determined enemy of God?

But here human reasoners bring forward that sentence of Aristotle,
"Reason prays for the best." And they attempt to confirm it by
passages from the Scriptures and by the opinions of philosophers, who
hold that right reason is the cause of all virtues. Now I deny not
that these sentiments are true, when they are applied to things
subject to reason; such as the management of cattle, the building of a
house, and the sowing of a field. But in the higher and divine things,
they are not true. For how can that reason be said to be right, which
hates God? How can that will be said to be good, which resists the
will of God and refuses to obey God?

When therefore men say with Aristotle, "Reason prays for the best,"
reply thou to them, Yes! Reason prays for the best, humanly; that is,
in things in which reason has a judgment. In such things, reason
dictates and leads to what is good and useful in a human, bodily or
carnal sense. But since reason is filled with ignorance of God and
aversion to the will of God, how can reason be called good in this
sense? For it is a well known fact, that when the knowledge of God is
preached with the intent that reason may be restored, then those who
are the best men, if I may so speak, and men of the best kind of
reason and will, are those who the most bitterly hate the gospel.

In the sacred matter of divinity therefore let our sentiments be, that
reason in all men stands as the greatest enemy against God; and also
that the best will in men is most adverse to the will of God; seeing
that from this very source arise hatred of the Word and persecution of
all godly ministers. Wherefore, as I said, let us never extenuate, but
rather magnify that mighty evil, which human nature has derived from
the sin of our first parents; then will the effect be that we shall
deplore this our fallen state and cry and sigh unto Christ our great
Physician, who was sent unto us by the Father for the very end that
those evils, which Satan has inflicted on us through sin, might by him
be healed, and that we might be restored unto that eternal glory,
which by sin we had lost.

But with reference to the part of sacred history which Moses describes
in this chapter, I have already expressed my mind; namely, that this
temptation took place on the Sabbath day. For Adam and Eve were
created on the sixth day; Adam earlier in the day and Eve in the
evening. On the following day, the Sabbath day, Adam spoke to his wife
Eve concerning the will of God; informing her that the most gracious
Lord had created all paradise for the use and pleasure of men; that he
had also created by his especial goodness the tree of life, by the use
of which the powers of their bodies might be restored, and continued
in perpetual youth; but that one tree, the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, was prohibited; of which it was not lawful for them to
eat; and that this obedience to their merciful Creator they were
solemnly bound to render. After Adam had communicated this information
to Eve, he perhaps led her about in paradise and showed her the
prohibited tree. Thus did Adam and Eve in their original innocence and
righteousness, full of safety and security through their confidence in
their God so good and so merciful, walk about together in paradise;
considering together the word and the command of God; and blessing
their God on the Sabbath day as they ought to do. But in the midst of
all this happiness, Oh! the grief! Satan enters, and within a few
hours destroys all, as we shall in this chapter hear.

Here again is poured forth a whole sea of questions. For curious men
inquire, why God permitted so much to Satan as to tempt Eve? They ask
also, why Satan employed the serpent in his temptation of Eve, rather
than any other beast of the creation. But who shall render a reason
for those things, which he sees the Divine Majesty to have permitted
to be done? Why do we not rather say with Job, that God cannot be
called to an account, and that none can compel him to render unto us
his own reasons for all those things which he does or permits to be
done. Why do we not on the same ground expostulate with God, because
the grass is not green and the trees are not in leaf all the year
round now as in the beginning. For I fully believe, that in paradise,
had the state of original innocency continued, there would have been a
perpetual spring without any winter or frost or snow, as they now
exist since the fall and its sin. All these things depend wholly on
the will and power of God. This is enough for us to know. To inquire
into these things farther than this is impious curiosity. Wherefore
let us, the clay of his hands, cease to inquire into and dispute about
such things as these, which belong alone to the will of our Potter!
Let us not judge our God, but rather leave ourselves to be judged by

The answer therefore to all such questions and arguments ought to be
this: It pleased God that Adam should be put under peril and trial,
that he might exercise his powers. Just as now, when we are baptized
and translated into the kingdom of Christ, God will not have us to be
at ease. He will have his Word and his gifts to be exercised by us.
Therefore he permits us, weak creatures, to be put into the sieve of
Satan. Hence it is that we see the church, when made clean by the
Word, to be put under perpetual peril and trial. The Sacramentarians,
the Anabaptists and other fanatical teachers, who harass the church
with various trials, are stirred up against her, to which great trials
are also added internal vexations. All these things are permitted of
God to take place, not however because it is his intention to forsake
his church or to suffer her to perish. But as wisdom says, all these
conflicts are brought upon the church and upon the godly, that they
might overcome them; and thus learn by actual sight and experience
that wisdom is more powerful than all things.

Another question is here raised, on which we may dispute perhaps with
less peril and with greater profit: Why the Scripture speaks of this
matter thus obscurely and does not openly say, that one of the fallen
angels entered into the serpent and through the serpent spoke to Eve
and deceived her? But to this I reply, that all these things were
involved in obscurity, that they might be reserved for Christ and for
his Spirit, whose glory it is to shine throughout the whole world, as
the mid-day sun, and to open all the mysteries of the Scriptures. As
this Spirit of Christ dwelt in the prophets, those holy prophets
understood all such mysteries of the Word. We have said above however
that as the beasts of the creation had each different gifts, so the
serpent excelled all other creatures in the gift of guile, and
therefore it was the best adapted for this stratagem of Satan.

Of this peculiarity in the serpent the present text of Moses is an
evident proof; for he says at the opening of this chapter, "Now the
serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah God
had made." We marvel even now at the gift of insidious cunning in the
fox, and also at its astonishing ingenuity in escaping danger. For
sometimes when closely pursued by the dogs and quite worn out and
ready to drop with exhaustion, it will hold up its tail; and while the
dogs stop their course with the intent of rushing with all their force
to seize it, the fox with marvelous celerity secures a little
advantage ground and thus escapes their capture. There are also other
beasts whose remarkable sagacity and industry surprise us; but
subtilty was the peculiar natural property of the serpent, and
therefore it seemed to Satan to be the instrument best adapted for his
deception of Eve.

V. 1b. _And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not
eat of any tree of the garden?_

Human reasoners dispute also concerning the nature of this temptation,
as to what it really was; whether our first parents sinned by idolatry
or by pride or by self-security or simply by eating the fruit. But if
we consider these things a little more carefully, as we ought to do,
we shall find that this temptation was the most awful and the most
bitter of all temptations. Because the serpent attacked the good will
of God itself, and endeavored to prove by this very prohibition from
the tree of life that the will of God toward man was not good. The
serpent therefore attacks the image of God itself. He assails those
highest and most perfect powers, which in the newly-created nature of
Adam and Eve were as yet uncorrupted. He aims at overturning that
highest worship of God, which God himself had just ordained. In vain
therefore do we dispute about this sin or that. For Eve is enticed
unto all sins at once, when she is thus enticed to act contrary to the
Word and the will of God.

Moses therefore speaks here most considerately, when he uses the
expression, "And the serpent said." Here, WORD attacks _word_. The
WORD which the Lord had spoken to Adam was, "Of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat." This Word was to Adam
the Gospel, and the law thus given was his worship. It was a service
and an obedience which in this state of innocence Adam was able to
render unto God. These are the Divine things Satan attacks. These are
the things he aims at overturning. Nor does he merely intend, as those
think who know nothing of the matter, to point out the tree to Eve and
to invite her to pluck the fruit. He does indeed point to the tree,
but he does something far worse than this. He adds another and a new
word, as it is his practice to do at the present day in the Church.

For wherever the Gospel is purely preached, there men have a sure rule
for their faith, and by that they are able to guard against idolatry.
But there Satan plies temptations of every kind, and he tries by what
means he can the most effectually to draw men away from the Word, or
how he can most completely corrupt the Word itself. Thus in the Greek
Church also, in the time of the apostles, heresies of every kind were
stirred up. One heretic denies that Christ is the Son of God. Another
denies that he is the Son of Mary, just as the anabaptists of our day
impiously deny that Christ assumed anything of the flesh of Mary. So
again in the times of Basil more particularly, men attempted to deny
that the Holy Ghost is God.

Our own age in like manner has witnessed the same examples of
heresies. For no sooner had a purer doctrine of the Gospel shone upon
us, than assailants of the works and Word of God of every kind rose up
on every side. Not however that temptations of other kinds cease. For
Satan still tempts to whoredom, to adultery and to other like great
sins. But this temptation, when Satan attacks the Word and the works
of God, is by far the heaviest and most dangerous; and that temptation
the most intimately concerns the Church and the saints.

It was in this manner therefore that Satan attacked Adam and Eve on
this solemn occasion. His aim was to tear away from them the Word, in
order that giving up the Word and their confidence in God, they might
believe a lie. When this takes place what wonder is it if a man
afterwards becomes proud, a despiser of God, an adulterer or anything
else? This temptation therefore is the head and chief of all
temptations. It brings with it the breach and the violation of the
whole ten commandments. For unbelief is the fountain-source of all
sins. When Satan has brought a man under this temptation and has
wrested from him or corrupted in his heart the Word, he may do
anything with him.

Thus when Eve had suffered the Word to be beaten out of her heart by a
lie, she found no difficulty whatever in approaching the tree and
plucking from it the fruit. It is foolish therefore to think of this
temptation, as the sophists and the monks think of it; that Eve, when
she had looked upon the tree, began to be inflamed by degrees with the
desire of plucking the fruit; until at last, overcome with the longing
for it, she plucked the fruit and put it to her mouth. The sum of the
whole temptation and her fall by it was that she listened to another
_word_ and departed from that WORD which God had spoken to her, which
was that if she did eat of the tree she should surely die. But let us
now contemplate the words of Moses in the order in which we find them.

In the first place Satan here imitates God. For as God had preached to
Adam, so Satan now also preaches to Eve. For perfectly true is that
saying of the proverb, "All evil begins in the name of God." Just
therefore as salvation comes from the pure Word of God, so perdition
comes from the corrupted Word of God. What I term the corrupted Word
of God is not that only which is corrupted by the vocal ministry, but
that which is corrupted by the internal persuasions of the heart or by
opinions of the mind, disagreeing with the Word.

Moses implies all this in his expression, "He said." For the object of
Satan was to draw away Eve by his word or saying, from that which God
had said; and thus by taking the Word of God out of sight, he
corrupted that perfection of will which man had before; so that man
became a rebel. He corrupted also his understanding so that he doubted
concerning the will of God. Upon this immediately followed a
rebellious hand, stretched forth to pluck the fruit contrary to the
command of God. Then followed a rebellious mouth and rebellious teeth;
in a word all evils follow soon upon unbelief or doubt concerning the
Word and God. For what can be worse than for a man to disobey God, and
obey Satan!

This very same craft and malice all heretics imitate. Under the show
of doing good, they wrest from men God and his Word. They take the
Word away from before their eyes and set before them another, and a
new word and a new god; a god which is nowhere, and no god at all. For
if you examine the words of these men, nothing can be more holy,
nothing more religious. They call God to witness that they seek with
their whole heart the salvation of the Church. They express their
utter detestation of all who teach wicked things. They profess their
great desire to spread the name and the glory of God. But why should I
enlarge? They wish to appear to be anything but the devil's teachers
or heretics. And yet, their one whole aim is to suppress the true
doctrine and to obscure the knowledge of God. And when they have done
this, the fall of their listeners is easily enough effected.

For unwary men suffer themselves to be drawn away from the Word to
dangerous disputations, Rom. 14:1. Not content with the Word, they
begin to inquire why and for what reason these and those things were
done. And just as Eve, when she listened to the devil, calling the
command of God into doubt fell; so it continually happens that we, by
listening to him, are brought to doubt whether God is willing that we,
when heavily oppressed with sin and death, should be saved by Christ;
and thus, being misled and deceived, we suffer ourselves to be induced
to put on cowls and cloaks in order that we may be crowned of God with
salvation on account of our works of perfection.

Thus before men are aware, another and a new god is set before them by
Satan; for he also sets a word before us; but not that Word which is
set before us of God, who declareth that repentance and remission of
sins should be preached unto all men in the name of Christ, Luke
24:47. When the Word of God is in this manner altered and corrupted,
then, as Moses says, in his song, "there are brought in among us new
gods, newly come up whom our fathers knew not, and feared not," Deut.

It is profitable to be well acquainted with these snares of Satan. For
if he were to teach men that they might commit murder and fornication,
and might resist their parents, etc., who is there who would not
immediately see that he was persuading them to do things forbidden by
the Lord? And thus it would be easy to guard against him. But in the
case of which we are speaking, when he sets before us another word,
when he disputes with us concerning the will and willingness of God,
when he brings before our eyes the name of God, and of the church, and
of the people of God, then we cannot so easily be on our guard against
him. On the contrary there is need of the firmest judgment of the
spirit to enable us to distinguish between the true God and the new

It is such judgment as this that Christ exercises, when Satan attempts
to persuade him to command that the stones be made bread, and to cast
himself down from the pinnacle of the Temple. For Satan's aim was to
persuade Christ to attempt something without the Word. But the Tempter
could not deceive Christ as he had deceived Eve. For Christ holds fast
the Word and does not suffer himself to be drawn away from the true
God to the new and false god. Hence unbelief and doubting, which
follow a departure from the Word, are the fountain and source of all
sin. And it is because the world is full of these that it remains in
idolatry, denies the truth of God and forms to itself new gods.

The monk is an idolator. For his imaginations are that if he lives
according to the rule of Francis or Dominic, he shall be in the way to
the kingdom of God. But this is making a new god, and becoming an
idolator. Because the true God declares that the way to the kingdom of
heaven is believing in Christ. When this faith is lost therefore
unbelief and idolatry immediately enter in, which transfer the glory
of God to works. Thus the Anabaptists, the Sacramentarians and the
Papists are all idolators! Not because they worship stocks and stones,
but because, leaving the Word of God, they worship their own thoughts.

The portion of the Scripture therefore now before us is designed to
teach us that the beginning of original sin was this effectual
temptation of the devil, when he had drawn Eve away from the Word to
idolatry, contrary to the first and second and third commandments.
Therefore the words stand here, "Yea, hath God said?" It is horrible
audacity for the devil to represent a new god and deny the former true
and eternal God with the utmost self-confidence. It is as if the devil
had said, "Ye must be fools indeed if ye believe that God really gave
you such a commandment. For God is by no means such a God as to be so
greatly concerned whether ye eat the fruit or eat it not. For as the
tree is 'the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;' how, think ye,
he can be so filled with envy as to be unwilling that ye should be

Moreover this inexpressible malice fully proves that, although Moses
makes mention of the serpent only and not of Satan, Satan was the real
contriver of the whole transaction. And although these things had been
thus involved in obscurity in this sacred history of them, yet the
holy fathers and prophets, under the illumination of the Holy Spirit,
at once saw that this temptation was not the work of the serpent, but
that there was in the serpent that spirit, which was the enemy of
Adam's innocent nature; even the spirit, concerning whom Christ
plainly declares in the Gospel, "that he abode not in the truth; and
that he was a murderer and a liar from the beginning," Luke 8:44. It
was left however, as we have said, for the Gospel to explain these
things more clearly and to make manifest this enemy of God and of men.
But the fathers saw all this by the following mode of reasoning: It is
certain that at the time of the temptation all creatures stood in
perfect obedience, according to the sentence of Moses, "And God saw
everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good." But here
in the serpent, such a spirit manifests himself who proves to be the
enemy of God and who corrupts the Word of God, that he might draw away
man into sin and death.

It is manifest therefore that there was something, some spirit in the
serpent, far worse than the serpent itself by nature; a spirit which
might properly be called the enemy of God; a spirit that was a liar
and a murderer; a spirit in whom there was the greatest and the most
horrible and reckless unconcern; a spirit which trembled not to
corrupt the commandment of God and to tempt man to idolatry; though he
knew by that act of idolatry the whole human race must perish. These
things are truly horrible when they are viewed by us aright. And we
see even now examples of the same security and unconcern in Papists
and other sects; an unconcern by which they corrupt the Word of God
and seduce men.

Eve at first nobly resisted the Tempter. For as yet she was guided by
the illumination of that Holy Spirit, of whom we have spoken, and by
whom she knew that man was created perfect and in the likeness of God.
At length however she suffered herself to be persuaded and overcome.

With respect to the fall of the angels, it is uncertain on which day
the fall took place; whether on the second or on the third day. This
only can be proved, and that is known from the Gospel, namely, that
Satan fell from Heaven, for Christ himself testifies of the manner of
the fall, where he says, "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from
heaven," Luke 10:18. But whether the heavens were then "finished" or
yet in their rude unformed state, we know not. The discussion of this
point however belongs not to our present exposition of the passage
before us. Our present duty is to contemplate the extreme malice here
disclosed, joined with the most horrible unconcern. For this spirit
trembles not to call the commandment of the divine majesty into doubt;
though he fully knew all the time, what an awful calamity must thereby
fall upon the whole human race.

In the second place the wonderful subtlety here exercised is
especially to be considered, which is discovered first in this: that
Satan attacks the highest powers of man and assails the very image of
God in him; namely, his will, which as yet thought and judged aright
concerning God. "Now the serpent was more subtle," says our text,
"than any beast of the field, which Jehovah God had made." But the
subtlety manifested in this instance far exceeded all the natural
subtlety of the serpent. For Satan here disputes with man concerning
the Word and the will of God. This the serpent in his natural state
and condition could not do; for in that, he was subject to the
"dominion" of man. But the spirit which spoke in the serpent is so
subtle that he overcomes man and persuades him to eat of the fruit of
the forbidden tree. It is not therefore a creature of God, in his
created good state, that here speaks; but it is a spirit, who is the
bitterest enemy of God and of men; a spirit, who is indeed a creature
of God, but not created thus evil by God. It is a creature, who abode
not in the truth; as Christ says, John 8:44. These facts are
consequences, plainly resulting from the Gospel and from the text of
Moses before us.

The subtlety which we are contemplating is seen also from the
stratagem of Satan in attacking the weak part of human nature; namely
Eve, the woman; and not Adam, the man. For although both of them were
created equally righteous, yet Adam excelled Eve. For as in all the
endowments of nature, the male strength exceeds that of the female
sex, so in the state of the innocency and perfection of human nature,
the male in some degree excelled the female. Hence Satan, seeing that
Adam was the more excellent creature, dared not attack him; for he had
fears lest his attempts should fail. And my belief is that if he had
attempted Adam first, Adam would have had the victory. He would more
likely have crushed the serpent with his foot, and would have said to
him, "Hold your tongue. The Lord hath commanded otherwise." Satan
therefore attacks Eve as the weaker part, and tries her strength. For
he sees that she has so much trust in, and dependence on, her husband,
that she will not think it possible that she should be persuaded to do
wrong after what her husband had told her.

By this portion of the sacred record we are also instructed concerning
the divine permission; that God sometimes permits the devil to enter
into beasts, as he here entered into the serpent. For there can be no
doubt that the serpent, in the assumption of whose form Satan talked
with Eve was a real and natural serpent. But when men enter into
discussions whether this serpent assumed on that occasion a human
countenance, etc., all such discussions are absurd. The creature was
doubtless a most beautiful serpent in its natural state; otherwise Eve
would not have conversed with it so securely. After the sin of the
fall however that beauty of the serpent was changed. For God's rebuke
to him declares that hereafter "he should go upon his belly on the
ground." Whereas before, he walked upright, as the male fowl. God also
declares "that he should eat dust," whereas before, he fed upon better
food, even upon the productions of the earth. Nay, even the original
security of man with the serpent is lost. We flee from serpents at the
sight of them, as they also flee from us.

These are all wounds, which have been inflicted on nature on account
of sin; just in the same way we have lost the glory of our nakedness,
the rectitude of our will and the soundness of our intellect and
understanding. I believe also, that the serpent lost much of his
subtlety, which Moses here lauds, as a distinguishing gift of God.
Moreover, I believe that in the same proportion as the serpent is now
an evil creature amidst the beasts, so it was then a good creature;
and a blessed and lovely creature; a creature with which not man only,
but all the other beasts also, lived in perfect freedom and with great
pleasure. The serpent therefore was a creature, the best adapted of
all the other living creatures for the purpose of Satan. By it he
could secure the most easy access to Eve, and could the most
effectually converse with her so as to draw her into sin.

Such is my opinion concerning the natural serpent, the beautiful
nature of which Satan planned thus to abuse. I believe it was
originally a most beautiful creature, without any poison in its tail
and without those filthy scales with which it is now covered. For
these grew upon it after the sin of the fall. Hence we find it a
precept given by Moses that any beast, which should kill any person,
should itself immediately be killed, Exod. 21:28; and for no other
reason than because Satan sinned by using a beast when he murdered
man. Hence also a serpent is killed wherever found, as a lasting
memorial of this diabolical malice and this fall of man, wrought by
his means.

With reference to the grammatical expression here used, the Latin
interpreter renders the Hebrew APHKI by cur. Though this rendering is
not very wide of the real sense of the passage, yet it does not convey
the true and proper meaning. For it is the highest and greatest of all
temptations, when a dispute is entered upon, concerning the counsel of
God, why God did this or that. But my judgment is, that the weight of
the matter does not rest on this particle of expression why? or
wherefore? But rather on the name God, ELOHIM. It is this that
constitutes the greatness and awfulness of the temptation.

It is as if Satan had said, "Ye must be foolish indeed if ye suppose
that God could possibly be unwilling that ye should eat of this tree
when he had himself given you 'dominion' over all the trees of
paradise; nay, when he had positively created all the trees for your
sakes. How can he, who bestowed as a free favor all things upon you,
possibly envy you these particular fruits, which are so sweet and so
pleasant!" For Satan's whole aim is to devise a means of drawing them
away from the Word and from the knowledge of God, and to bring them to
conclude that what they had stated was not really the will of God, and
that such was not really what God had commanded them. That this is the
true sense of the whole divine passage, that which follows tends to
prove; when Satan says, "Ye shall not surely die." For all the
stratagems of Satan centre in this one:--to draw men away from the
Word, and from faith unto a new and false god.

And this same plan of Satan all fanatical spirits follow. Hence, Arius
reasons and inquires, Do you really think that Christ is God, when he
himself says, "My Father is greater than I?" In the same manner also
the Sacramentarians ask, Do you really think that the bread is the
body and the wine the blood of Christ? Christ most certainly had no
thoughts so absurd. When men begin thus to indulge their own
cogitations, they by degrees depart from the Word and fall into error.

Since therefore, the whole force of the temptation was in leading Eve
to doubt whether God really did say so; it is a more correct rendering
to leave the emphasis resting on the name of God. The leaving it to
rest on the interrogative particle, why? takes away from the peculiar
force of the meaning. In my judgment therefore the passage will be
best rendered by making the emphasis to rest on the _not_. Hath God
said that ye shall _not_ eat of every tree of the garden? For Satan's
real aim is, not to set up an inquiry why God said this. His object is
to bring Eve to conclude that God had positively not so commanded, in
order that by bringing her to this conclusion he might wrest from her
the Word. Satan saw that the reasoning power of Eve might in this way
be the most effectually deceived, if he drew away from her sight and
judgment the Word of God, under the very name of God. And he thinks
the same still.

This question of Satan is full of insidious deception. He does not
speak particularly, but generally; he includes in his interrogation,
all the trees of the garden together. As if he had said, "You have
committed unto you an universal 'dominion' over all the beasts of the
earth; and do you really suppose that God, who has thus given you
'dominion' over all the beasts of the earth, has not given you the
same dominion over all the trees of the earth? Why, you ought rather
to think that as God has put under you the whole earth and all the
beasts of the earth; so he has also granted you the use of all things
which grow upon the earth." This is indeed the very height and depth
of temptation. Satan here endeavors to gain over the mind of Eve to
his purpose, by artfully drawing her into the conclusion that God is
never unlike himself; and that therefore if God had given them
universal dominion over all the other creatures, he had given them
universal dominion over all the trees also. From this therefore it
would naturally follow that the commandment not to eat of the tree of
life, was not the commandment of God; or that if it were his
commandment, it was not so to be understood that he really wished them
not to eat of that tree.

Wherefore this temptation was a double temptation, by which as a
twofold means Satan aimed at the same end. The one part of the
temptation is, "God hath not said this, therefore ye may eat of this
tree." The second branch of this awful temptation is, "God hath given
unto you all things; therefore all things are yours; and therefore
this tree is not forbidden you, etc., etc." Now, both branches of this
temptation are directed to the same object; to draw Eve away from the
Word and from faith. For this commandment concerning not eating of
this tree of knowledge, which God gave to Adam and to Eve, proves that
Adam with his posterity, had they continued in their original
innocency, would have lived in that perfection of nature by faith,
until he and they had been translated from this corporeal life unto
the life spiritual and eternal. For wherever the Word is, there of
necessity is faith also. For the Word was this, "Of the tree of the
knowledge, etc., thou shalt not eat, for in the day that thou eatest
thereof thou shalt surely die." Adam and Eve must therefore have
believed that this tree involved in it something perilous to their
salvation. Therefore in this very Word of commandment, faith also is

We, who are designed to be transferred from this state of sin to a
state of eternal righteousness, also live by faith. But we have a
Word, different from that which Adam had in his state of nature's
innocence and perfection. For he was designed to be transferred simply
from a state of animal life to that of a spiritual and eternal life.
Wherefore this tree, as I have before observed, was intended of God to
be a temple as it were in the midst of paradise, in which the Word God
spoke to Adam might be preached. The substance of this Word was, that
all the other trees of paradise were healthful and to be eaten; but
that this tree of knowledge, involved in it the danger of destruction;
and that therefore they should learn to obey God and his Word, and to
render unto God his worship, by not eating of this tree, seeing that
God had forbidden them to eat of this particular tree.

In this manner therefore nature, in its uncorrupt and perfect state,
even while it possessed the knowledge of God, had yet a Word or
precept of God, above the comprehension of Adam, which he was called
upon to believe. And this Word or precept was delivered to man in his
state of innocency, that Adam might have a sign or form of worshipping
God, of giving him thanks, and of instructing his children in this
knowledge of God. Now the devil, beholding this and knowing that this
Word or precept of God was above the understanding of man, plies Eve
with his temptation and draws her into thinking, whether this really
was the commandment and will of God. And this is the very origin of
all temptation; when the reason of man attempts to judge concerning
the Word and God without the Word.

Now the will of God was that this his precept should be unto man an
occasion of his obedience and of his external worship of God; and that
this tree should be a sign, by means of which man should testify that
he did obey God. But Satan by setting on foot the doubtful
disputation, whether God really did give such a commandment, endeavors
to draw man away from this obedience into sin. Here the salvation of
Eve consisted solely in her determinately urging the commandment of
God, and not suffering herself to be drawn aside into other
disputations, whether God really had given such a commandment. And
whether as God had created all things for man's sake, it could be
possible that this one tree only was created, containing something
incomprehensible and dangerous to man's salvation. It seems indeed
unto men, to be a show of wisdom, to inquire into these things more
curiously than is lawful. But as soon as the mind begins to indulge in
such disputations, man is lost. But now let us hear the answer Eve
makes to Satan:

Vs. 2, 3. _And the woman said unto the serpent: Of the fruit of the
trees of the garden we may eat; but of the fruit of the tree which is
in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it,
neither shall ye touch it, lest perchance ye die._

Eve's beginnings are successful enough. She makes a distinction
between all the other trees of the garden and this tree. She rehearses
the commandment of God. But when she comes to relate also the
punishment, she fails. She does not relate the punishment, as it had
been declared by the Lord. The Lord had said, absolutely, "For in the
day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die," Gen. 2:17. Out
of this absolute declaration, Eve makes an expression, not absolute,
"Lest perchance ye should die."

This defect in the statement of Eve is very remarkable, and demands
particular observation; for it proves that she had turned aside from
faith to unbelief. For as the promise of God demands faith, so the
threatening of God demands faith also. Eve ought to have made her
statement as a fact, and a certainty. "If I eat, I shall surely die."
This faith however Satan so assails, with his insidious speech, as to
induce Eve to add the expression, "perchance." For the devil had
effectually persuaded her to think that God surely was not so cruel as
to kill her for merely tasting a fruit. Hence the heart of Eve was now
filled with the poison of Satan.

This text therefore is also by no means properly translated in our
version. The meaning of the original Hebrew is that Eve speaks her own
words; whereas she is ostensibly reciting the Word of God; and that
she adds to the Word of God her own expression, "perchance." Wherefore
the artifice of the lying spirit has completely succeeded. For the
object which he especially had in view; namely, to draw Eve away from
the Word and from faith; he has now so far accomplished, as to cause
Eve to corrupt the Word of God; or, to use the expression of Paul, "he
has turned her aside from the will of God, and caused her to go after
Satan", 1 Tim. 5:15. And the beginning of certain ruin is to be turned
aside from God, and to be turned after Satan; that is, not to stand
firmly in the Word and in faith. When Satan therefore sees this
beginning in Eve, he plies against her his whole power as against a
bowing wall, until she falls prostrate on the ground.

Vs. 4, 5. _And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely
die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes
shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil._

This is the satanic rhetoric adopted by the tempter to prostrate
utterly a poor weak woman; when he sees her turning away from God and
inclined to listen to another teacher. Before, when he said in his
satanic insidiousness, "Hath God, indeed, thus commanded you?" he did
not positively deny the Word. He only attempted by speaking in the
form of a question to draw Eve aside into doubting. But now, having
fully accomplished his first point, he begins with daring presumption
to deny the Word of God altogether, and to charge God himself with
falsehood and cruelty. He is not now content with having caused Eve to
add her expression, "perchance." Out of the "perchance," he now makes
a plain and positive denial: "Ye shall not surely die."

We here witness therefore what a horrible thing it is when Satan once
begins to tempt a man. For then ruin causes ruin and that which was at
first apparently a trifling offense against God, ends eventually in a
mighty destruction. It was an awful step into sin for Eve to turn from
God and his Word and to lend her ears to Satan. But this her next step
is more awful; for she now agrees with Satan, while he charges God
with falsehood, and as it were smites him in the face. Eve therefore
now is no longer the woman merely turned away from God, as in the
first stage of her temptation. She now begins to join Satan in his
contempt of God and in his denial of the truth of his Word. She now
believes the father of lies, directly contrary to the Word of God.

Let these things therefore be to us a solemn lesson and a terrible
proof, to teach us what man is! For if these things occurred in
nature, while it was yet in its state of perfection, what shall we
think may become of us! We have proofs, even now, before our eyes.
Many, who at the commencement of our course gave thanks with us unto
God for his revealed Word, are not only fallen away from it, but are
become our bitterest adversaries!

Thus it was also with the Arians. No sooner had they begun to fall
away from faith in the divinity of the Son, than they quickly grew
into a violent enmity against him. So that they became the bitter
enemies of the true Church and persecuted her with the greatest
cruelty. Precisely the same examples of ultimate rage against the
truth have we witnessed also in the Anabaptists. They were all led
away from the Word, and tempted to use the doubtful expression,
"perchance." Shortly after Satan drove them to turn the doubting
"perchance" into a positive "not," "God hath not said," etc. Then from
forsakers of God, they became the open persecutors of God, imitating
in this their father, Satan; who after he had fallen from heaven by
sin became the most bitter enemy of Christ and his church. Nor are
examples of the very same description few in our day. For we have no
enemies more bitter against us than those who have fallen away from
the doctrine they once professed with us. And from this very sin that
awful description which David has given us of the "fool" arose, Ps.
14:1: "The fool hath said in his heart there is no God." For those
thus fallen are not satisfied with having turned away from God, unless
they have become the assailants also of God himself and of his Word.

Wherefore there is absolutely need that we abide by this rule, and
moor ourselves to this sacred anchor as it were through life. Since it
is agreed for a certainty that the Word, which we possess and confess,
is the Word of God, we should assent and cleave to it with all
simplicity of faith and not dispute concerning it with curious
inquiry. For all inquiring and curious disputation bring with them
most certain ruin.

Thus for instance we have the plain and manifest Word of Christ
concerning the Lord's Supper, when he says concerning the bread, "This
is my body, which is given for you," Luke 22:19. And concerning the
cup, "This cup is the New Covenant in my blood", 1 Cor. 11:25. When
therefore fanatics depart from faith in these plain words, and fall
into disputing how these things can be, they by degrees stray so far,
as positively to deny that these are the words of Christ, and at
length they fiercely fight against them. Just as it befell Eve, as
recorded in the passage of Moses now before us.

Exactly after the same manner, when Arius began to think about God and
to conclude by his own reason that God was a most positive and
absolute unity, he at first fell upon this proposition, "Perhaps
Christ is not God." Then he carried the accumulation of his
absurdities so far, as plainly to conclude, and to defend his
conclusion, that "Christ is not God." It moved him not at all, that
John plainly declares, "The Word was God," John 1:1; that Christ
commands men to be baptized "in the name of the Father and of the Son
and of the Holy Ghost," Math. 28:19; and that we are called upon to
believe in Christ, to worship him and to pray unto him, Acts 13:39;
Ps. 97:7. And yet, what absurdity can be greater than that we should
take upon ourselves to judge God, since our condition is to be judged
by him and by him alone?

Wherefore our duty is to stand by and persevere in this principle:
that, when we hear God say anything, we believe it, and not dispute
about it; but that on the contrary we bring our intellect and every
thought into captivity unto Christ.

We may therefore appropriately cite the words of the prophet Isaiah,
"If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not be established," Is. 7:9.
For if we should inquire and inquire until we burst with curiosity,
yet we shall never understand how the eye sees, nor how the ear hears,
nor what the soul is, etc. And yet, all these things are a part of us,
and we use them every day and every moment in all our actions. How
then shall we understand those things which exceed all our faculties
and senses, and are found in the Word of God alone? Hence it is found
in the Word alone, that the ordained bread is the body of Christ, and
that the ordained wine is the blood of Christ. These things it is our
duty to believe, not to understand; for understand them we cannot.

In like manner too the words of God in the present passage of Moses
were most simple and plain, "Of the fruit of the tree which is in the
midst of the garden ye shall not eat." But in those words reason did
not understand the mind of God, why he willed these things so to be.
When therefore Eve, not content with the command of the Lord which she
had heard, began curiously to inquire into it, she perished. This
temptation therefore is a true example of all those temptations, in
which Satan assaults the Word and faith. Before the desire of eating
the fruit came to Eve, she had let go the word which God spoke to
Adam. Had she held fast this Word, she would have stood in the
reverence of God and in faith. On the other hand, no sooner had she
let go the Word, than contempt of God entered; and then followed
obedience to the devil.

It is profitable for us to learn these things and to know them. Hence
it is that Peter admonishes us to stand fast under temptation, and to
resist the Tempter, keeping fast hold of the Word by a firm faith, and
keeping our ears shut, so as not to listen to anything contrary to the
Word, 1 Pet. 5:9. For such "sufferings" and temptations of Eve are
most truly "lessons" to us; that we suffer not the same things, by
being drawn aside from the Word and faith, as she was.

That which follows in our text, "For God doth know that your eyes
shall be opened," may be taken in a twofold sense. We may either
understand Satan to have thus spoken, for the purpose of exciting an
ill-will against God, for having forbidden man to eat of a fruit so
good and useful by which means Satan would create in Eve the beginning
of a hatred towards God for not being sufficiently indulgent. Or
again, I would rather understand the passage, Satan speaks this, as in
praise of God; that he may thereby the more easily entrap Eve in his
deception. As if he had said to her, "Be assured that God is not such
an one as to wish you and Adam to live in darkness as it were without
the knowledge of good and evil. He is good. He envies you nothing
which can in any way conduce to your benefit or pleasure. He will be
quite satisfied and content that you should be like himself, as to the
knowledge of good and evil."

When Satan thus praises God he has the razor fairly in his hands, so
that he can cut the throat of a man in a moment. For the fall of a man
is thus rendered by Satan the most easy, when the pretext of the Word
and the will of God is brought in upon the back of that which the lust
of the heart desires. This is why I would rather understand the words
now in question to be spoken by Satan, as intended to persuade Eve,
rather than to excite in her any hatred toward God. I leave it however
quite free to you, my hearers, to adopt the sense of the passage which
pleases you best. The sum of the whole or the one aim of Satan, is
this: to draw Eve away by all possible means from the Word, and to
persuade her to do that, which had been forbidden by the Word. For
Satan is the most bitter enemy of the Word of God; because he knows
that our whole salvation lies in our obedience to that Word.

But here an inquiry by no means absurd is raised. How was it that Eve
did not yet feel her sin? For, although she had not yet swallowed the
fruit, yet she had sinned against the Word and against faith. She had
turned away from the Word unto a lie and from faith to disbelief; from
God to Satan and from the worship of God to idolatry. As this was the
sum and substance of her sin, for plucking the apple was not the sum
of her sin, how was it that death did not immediately follow? How was
it that she did not feel so mighty a sin? Nay further how was it, that
after she had eaten the fruit, she did not feel the death which was
the decreed punishment of it, before she persuaded Adam to eat of it

The schools dispute much and variously about the superior power, and
the inferior power of reason. They hold, that Adam possessed the
superior power of reason, and Eve the inferior. We will cast aside all
such half-learned and scholastic arguments and seek the true meaning
of the passage, which is as follows:

In the first place the long-suffering of God is great. Therefore he
does not punish sin immediately. If he did we should soon perish. This
long-suffering of God Satan ever abuses. And it just suits his purpose
that man should not immediately feel his sin. For because punishment
is thus deferred, Satan fills the mind with security and unconcern. So
that a man is not only kept blind to the fact that he has sinned, but
is caused to take delight and to glory in his sins.

All this we behold in the popes and the Papists. If they could see
with their eyes and hearts the slaughter-house of conscience, yea, the
perdition into which they bring men by their impious doctrine, they
would without doubt change their doctrine. But now, Satan so dazzles
their eyes as it were with his delusions, that they cannot perceive
their own judgment and the wrath of God which hangs over them.
Therefore in the very midst of these mighty sins, they live with the
greatest security, even with gladness and rejoicing, displaying their
magnificent triumphs as if they had performed the most noble

This was exactly the case with Eve. By her disbelief she rushed from
the Word into a lie. Therefore in the eyes of God, she was now dead.
But as Satan still held under his power her heart and eyes, she not
only did not see her death, but was gradually more and more inflamed
with a longing for the fruit; and was positively delighted with this
her idolatry and with her sin.

Now if Eve had not departed from the Word, thus to look upon the fruit
with a desire to taste it, it would have been to her an abhorrence.
But having thus departed, she turns over the sin in her mind with
gratification. Whereas had she before seen any other stretch forth the
hand to touch this tree, she would have recoiled with horror. But now,
she is impatient of delay. Sin has burst forth from her heart, and has
descended to the lower members of her body, her mouth and tongue. This
desire and delightful longing therefore to eat the fruit are as it
were the diseases gendered by the sin of her heart from which death
follows; though Eve, while sinning, feels it not. This is plain from
the next portion of the context.


V. 6. _And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and
that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired
to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat; and she
gave also unto her husband with her, and he did eat._

Mark here the manner in which sin diffuses itself through all the five
senses. For what did Eve neglect that could be used in the service of
sin when once she had believed Satan contrary to the Word of God, and
had listened to his lies in telling her that she would not surely die,
but that her eyes would be opened and that she would know both good
and evil. Her eyes could not be satisfied with seeing. It was nothing
to her now that she possessed the knowledge of God, and that she had a
sound and perfect mind. She was not content without the addition of
the knowledge of evil also. And this was the very essence of Satan's
poison; her desire to be wise above that which God had spoken to her
as his command. For such wisdom was death and the very enemy of that
wisdom of God, which had been delivered to her in his Word. For this
wisdom caused her to consider that to be righteousness, which was
really sin, and to look upon that as most desirable wisdom which was
utter madness.

The whole point therefore lies in this which the Latin version has
omitted to express: that the tree was a tree to be desired, because it
made the eaters thereof wise. And this is the very aim of the devil,
to cause a man to think his knowledge and wisdom the greater, the
further he departs from the Word.

Hence the Sacramentarians think it the sum of all wisdom to assert
that bread is bread, and that wine is wine; but that bread is not the
body, nor wine the blood of Christ. So Arius considers that he has
carried off the palm of all wisdom, when he asserts, from certain
Scriptures evilly distorted from their manifest sense, that the Logos
was indeed before all creatures; but that still he was created. In
like manner the Anabaptists imagine that they trumpet forth the very
height of wisdom, when they declare aloud with full-swollen cheeks
that water cannot reach the soul or the spirit, but that it washes the
naked skin only, and that therefore baptism avails nothing to the
remission of sins. Hence we have known fanatical spirits to baptize
here and there without any water at all, who nevertheless continued to
boast that they never dissented from us or our doctrine. And truly,
this is wisdom. But it is the wisdom of the devil; and directly
contrary to the Word and wisdom of God. And it is the peculiar and
proper temptation of the devil thus to render us wise in our own
conceits contrary to and above the Word of God. Just as he himself was
once in heaven, and then fell. And this high wisdom is a temptation of
his, far exceeding in destructive efficacy all the grosser temptations
of lust, avarice, pride, etc.

The verb HISKIL signifies "to be prudent" or "wise." Hence, MASKIL is
"wise" or "prudent," as in Psalm 14:2, "Jehovah looked down from
heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did
understand, that did seek after God." And again, Is. 53:11, "By the
knowledge of himself, JASKIL, shall my righteous servant justify
many." The word signifies properly that wisdom by which God is known
and acknowledged. And Eve had this light or rather this sun of
knowledge in her heart before she fell; because she had the Word. And
she had moreover the knowledge of all the creatures. But not content
with this wisdom, she wished to mount higher and to know God otherwise
than he had revealed himself to her in his Word. This was her fall.
She let go the true wisdom, and that being lost, she rushed into utter

Just as Satan acted in the garden of Eden, so he acts now. God
commands us to believe the Gospel of his Son, that we may thus be
saved. This is true wisdom, as Christ himself also affirms: "This is
life eternal, that they should know thee, the only true God, and him
whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ," John 17:3. This wisdom the
monk utterly disregards, and turns aside to other things. He puts on a
cowl, girds himself with a rope and takes upon him the vow of
celibacy; and he thinks that by such means he shall please God and be
saved. And all this is that sublime wisdom which is exercised in the
worship of God, and in a great religious observance toward him; all of
which is the implantation of Satan, engrafted on the original sin of
our fallen nature; causing men to turn away from the Word of God,
which he has himself "set forth" as the way of salvation, and to turn
aside to following their own cogitations. Just like Eve. She was
created the wisest of all women that ever existed; but she longed for
another wisdom contrary to and above the Word; and on account of this
newly desired wisdom she fell and sinned, in a multiplicity of forms,
with all her senses, with her thoughts, with her sight, with her
desire, with her touch, with her taste, with her whole act.

They are not to be listened to, therefore, who argue it was cruelty
that this nature of ours should be thus miserably corrupted, sunk
under death, and involved in all the other calamities to which it is
subject for the simple act of tasting a certain fruit. The Epicureans,
indeed, when they hear these things, laugh at them as a mere fable.
But to a careful reader, who duly ponders these recorded facts, it
will at once be manifest that the simple bite of the fruit was not the
cause of these awful consequences. Such an one will see that the sin
committed was the cause of the whole calamity which followed, even the
sin of Eve, which she committed against both tables of the law,
against God himself and against his Word. For her sin was of that
description that she cast aside the Word of God and gave herself up
wholly to Satan, and to his teaching as his disciple.

The greatness and awfulness of the sin of Eve therefore can neither be
lessened nor made too great. This greatness and awfulness of the sin
of Eve are the pregnant causes of all the calamitous punishments which
we endure. So awful was the sin, and so awful the turning away from
God! And this horrible turning away from God is the great solemn fact
which our minds ought to contemplate. They ought not to dwell upon the
mere plucking or swallowing the fruit; for those who look upon the act
only, and not upon the sin of the heart, from which the act proceeded,
must naturally be led to accuse God of cruelty for having inflicted
upon the whole human race such terrible punishments for so small and
insignificant a sin. Such reasoners on the matter, therefore, hate God
and despair; or like the Epicureans they laugh at the whole matter as
a fable.

What we have to consider therefore is the Word. For that, against
which Eve sinned, was the Word of God. As great therefore as was the
Word, so great was the sin which Eve committed against the Word. It
was under this sin that all nature fell, and under which it still
lies. For, how can nature overcome that sin! It is of a magnitude
infinite and inexhaustible. Consequently, to overcome this sin there
is need of him who brings with him an inexhaustible righteousness,
even the Son of God.

That Satan knew all this, his subtlety proves. For he does not
immediately entice Eve with the sweetness of the fruit; he attacks at
once the chief strength of man, faith in the Word! The root and source
of all sin therefore is disbelief, and turning aside from God. Even
as, on the contrary, the root and source of all righteousness is
faith. Satan therefore first of all draws Eve aside from faith to
unbelief. When he had accomplished this and had brought Eve not to
believe the Word of God's commandment spoken unto her, he had no
trouble in accomplishing the rest, in causing her to rush up to the
tree, to pluck the fruit and eat it. For when sin is ripened in the
heart by unbelief, the external act of disobedience soon follows. This
is the manner in which the nature of sin is to be considered, namely,
according to its true magnitude, under which magnitude we are all
ruined. Next follows the description of sin, with its punishments.

V. 7. _And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they
were naked; and they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves
aprons_ (girdles).

I have remarked above that the form of all Satan's temptations is the
same. He first plies his temptation upon a man's faith, and then draws
him away from the Word. Upon this follow various sins against the
second table. This procedure of Satan we may see plainly manifested in
our own experience. That which follows therefore in the present
chapter, is a particular description of sin, what it is in the act,
and what it is afterwards, when the act is performed. For, while sin
is in the act, it is not felt. If it were truly felt, we should return
to the right way, warned by the sorrows which sin ever brings upon the
sinner. But because these sorrows lie hidden, after we have departed
from integrity of soul and from faith, we go on without concern into
the act itself. Just as Eve sinned in eating the fruit, after she had
been persuaded by Satan, contrary to the Word of God, "that she should
not die" but that the only effects would be, "that her eyes would be
opened," and that she would become wiser. After she had drunk in this
poison of Satan through her ears, she stretched forth her hand to the
forbidden fruit, plucked it and ate it with her mouth; and thus she
sinned with all the senses of her mind and of her body. And yet she
did not even then feel her sin. She ate the fruit with pleasure and
entreated her husband also to do the same.

The essential principles are the same in all temptations and in all
sins, whether of lust, of anger, or avarice, etc. While the sin is in
the act, it is not felt; it terrifies not, it stings not, but it
rather flatters the passions and delights. And no marvel that the case
should be so with us when we are infected with this poison of original
sin, from the sole of the foot to the crown of the head, and
especially when we reflect that the sins of paradise took place in
nature while it was yet sound and perfect. Hence it is that we see in
the cases of profane men, of fanatical spirits and of those who have
no faith, or who have fallen from the faith, how secure and
unconcerned they are, how vehement and pertinacious in defending their
errors; so much so that they will not hesitate even to die in the
defence of them. Such is the nature of sin, while it remains unfelt.
But afterwards when the sin is made manifest by the law, then it comes
down upon the man with all its intolerable weight.

So before this discovery of her sin, while it was inwardly preparing
for the act, the eyes of Eve were not opened. Had they been she must
have died before she could have touched the fruit; but because her
eyes were not yet opened, and because her unbelief yet remained, there
remained also the longing for the fruit prohibited, and there remained
also the purpose and the desire to obtain the Satan-promised
knowledge, which was also forbidden. Poor miserable Eve, she is so
wrapped up in disbelief, both in soul and in body, that she sees not
the mighty evil she is committing! Similar examples of the insensible
security and unconcern of sin are furnished by our ecclesiastical
histories. Arius securely blesses himself, as long as he can find
means of eluding the Scripture testimonies concerning the Divinity of
the Son.

But this security lasts not very long. As soon as the eyes of Eve were
opened, she remembered the law of her God spoken to her, which before
she had forgotten, "that she and Adam should not eat of the forbidden
tree." Before she had this knowledge of God's law she was "without
sin," as Paul expresses it, Rom. 7:9, "And I was alive apart from the
law once." Not because the law really did not exist, but because the
apostle did not feel the threatenings and punishments of it; and hence
he seemed to himself to be "without the law." "For through the law
cometh the knowledge of sin," Rom. 3:20. When therefore the law
revived in his knowledge of it, his sin revived also with that
knowledge, Rom. 7:9.

All this Moses would indicate in his history of our first parents,
when he says, "And the eyes of them both were opened," as if he had
said, Satan had closed, not the eyes only of Eve, but her heart also
by unbelief and by the disobedience of all the members of her body and
of her soul without and within. But after her sin was committed and
"finished," he willingly suffers the eyes of them both to be opened,
that they might see what they had done. For this is Satan's manner of
cutting short the ruin of those who sin under his temptations; when
they have sinned, he leaves them to perish in despair.

This portion of sacred history therefore is like a complete exposition
of the sentence of Paul's words, "For through the law cometh the
knowledge of sin," Rom. 3:20. For the law does nothing but make known
and cause to revive that sin, which before the knowledge of the law
lay asleep as it were and dead. Just as in the following chapter it is
said to Cain, "If thou doest evil, thy sin sleepeth until it be made
known to thee," Gen. 4:7. For it lieth asleep, while it is in the act.
But when the law comes then the eyes are opened, so that the man then
sees what God had commanded, and what punishment he had decreed for
the transgressors of his command. When this takes place, so that the
law fully rules in the conscience; then a man arrives at the true
knowledge of his sin, which knowledge no human hearts can endure
unless consolation be given them from above.

What Moses next adds, therefore, that after they had eaten the fruit,
"they saw that they were naked," are words by no means superfluous nor
without special import. For if duly considered, they contain a
beautiful description of original righteousness.

The schoolmen indeed argue that original righteousness was not
connatural; that is, not a part of human nature as originally created;
but a certain ornament, only additionally bestowed on man as a
separate gift. Just as if one should place a garland on the head of a
beautiful maiden. A garland is certainly no part of the nature of a
virgin, but something separate from her nature as such; something
added from without, which might be taken away again without any
violation of her nature. These schoolmen therefore argue, both
concerning man and concerning devils, that, although they lost their
original righteousness, yet their natural properties remained pure as
they were originally created. This doctrine however detracts from the
magnitude of original sin and is to be shunned as a deadly poison.

We conclude therefore that original righteousness was not a superadded
gift, which was bestowed from without, separate from the very nature
of man; but a truly natural righteousness; so that it was the very
nature of Adam to know God, to love God, to believe in God, to
acknowledge God and to worship God, etc. These things were as natural
in Adam, as it is natural to the eyes to see the light. When the eye
is injured by the infliction of a wound, you may rightly affirm that
nature is violated; so after man fell from his original righteousness,
it is correctly maintained, that the properties of nature were no
longer sound and whole, but defiled and corrupted by sin. For as it is
the nature of the eye to see, so it was the original nature of the
reason and of the will of Adam to know God, to trust in God, and to
fear God.

Since therefore it is evident that all these natural powers are lost,
who is so mad as to assert that the faculties and properties of nature
are still sound and whole? And yet, there was nothing more common nor
more fully received in the schools than this doctrine. How much
greater then must be the absurdity and the madness, to affirm this
doctrine concerning devils to be true, especially since Christ himself
declares "that they abode not in the truth," and when we ourselves
know them to be the most bitter enemies of Christ and of his Church!

The natural faculties in man therefore created originally sound and
whole, were the knowledge of God, faith in God, the fear of God, etc.
All these Satan corrupted by sin in the same manner as leprosy defiles
the whole flesh. The will and reason of man therefore are so corrupted
by sin, that he not only does no longer naturally love God, but flees
from him and hates him and wishes to live without him, and to be
without him altogether.

Therefore Moses has exactly described in this portion of his sacred
history that corruption which succeeded original righteousness and its
glory. For it was the peculiar glory of Adam and Eve not to know that
they were naked. What corruption then can be greater than that the
nakedness, which was originally the glory of our first parents, should
now be changed into the basest turpitude. Thus no one blushes on
account of his eyes, when sound and perfect. But when the eyes are
distorted or partially blind, they cover us with a certain cloud of
defect and with a feeling of shame. In like manner in their state of
original innocency, it was entirely a matter of glory for Adam and Eve
to walk in nakedness. But when, after their sin, "they saw that they
were naked," they were overwhelmed with shame and looked about them
for "girdles" wherewith to hide their turpitude. How much greater
turpitude then is disclosed by the fact, that the slaughtered will,
the corrupted understanding and the wholly defiled reason have changed
man into an utterly altered being. Are all these woeful things proofs,
I pray you, that the qualities and faculties of man's original nature
still remain sound and whole?

But consider for a moment what will necessarily follow from the
doctrine of making original righteousness, not to have been an
essential part of created nature, but only a certain superfluous and
superadded gift or ornament. If you lay it down as a fact, that
original righteousness was not an essential quality of the nature of
man, it must inevitably follow that the sin, which followed original
righteousness, was also not an essential quality of the nature of man.
And if so, was it not an utterly vain thing that Christ should be sent
into the world as the Redeemer of man, if it was man's original
righteousness only, which was merely a foreign and separate addition
to his nature, that was lost; and if that loss still left the
faculties and qualities of his original nature sound and perfect? But
what doctrine can be worse than this? What doctrine more unworthy a
divine to utter?

Flee therefore from such mad dreams as from a real pestilence and from
corruption of the Holy Scriptures; and let us instead follow actual
experience which teaches us that we are born of corrupt seed and that
we derive from the very nature of that seed, ignorance of God,
self-security, unbelief, hatred of God, disobedience, impatience and
numberless other kindred evils; all which are so engendered and
implanted in our very nature, and are a poison so wholly diffused
throughout our flesh, body, soul, nerves and blood, yea, through all
our bones and their very marrow; and so wholly poisoning our will, our
understanding and our reason, that the poison not only can never be
extracted, but that we cannot even acknowledge, or feel, or see that
this is our state of sin!

It is a well known sentiment of the old Greek comedian, Aristophanes,
"that to visit harlots is no disgrace to a youth." Pardon however may
be extended to such a sentiment in a heathen poet. But it is most
awful in such as call themselves Christian men, and men professing a
knowledge of the Holy Scriptures, to incline toward such a sentiment
that whoredom is not positive sin. And yet, whole colleges of our
canonicals actually approve the sentiment, with one consent by their
lives and manners. When this is the case therefore with respect to
actual outward sins, what must we conclude to be the state of men's
minds, with respect to the uncleanness of the heart and the motions of
sin in our very nature? These motions of nature, wicked men cannot of
course understand to be sins.

Thus a wicked man cannot understand that the glory of nakedness was
lost by sin. For the fact of Adam and Eve walking abroad naked was
their highest adornment in the sight of God and before the whole
creation. But now since the entrance of sin we not only recoil at the
thought of walking naked before men for their sakes, but we are filled
with shame for our own sakes; as Moses here testifies, concerning the
feelings of Adam and Eve. And this very shame witnesses that our
confidence in God as well as in man is lost, whereas this confidence
in both existed before sin entered by the fall. But after the entrance
of sin, Adam even though blinded would yet have been abashed to
present himself naked before the eyes of God or of men; because by his
disobedience, his former confidence in God, his glorious Creator, was

All these things therefore abundantly testify that original
righteousness was an essential quality of the nature of man, when
first created; and as that original righteousness was lost by sin, it
is manifest that no qualities or properties or powers of nature remain
perfect and sound, as the schoolmen madly dream. For, as it was the
original nature of man to go forth naked, full of innocent confidence
and security toward God and with the knowledge that such nakedness
pleased both God and men, so now since the entrance of sin man feels
that this same nakedness of nature, originally so glorious, is
displeasing to God, to man himself and to all rational creatures. And
accordingly man prepares himself girdles, and carefully covers his
"uncomely parts," 1 Cor. 12:23. Is this not an awful change in nature?
Nature does indeed remain, but corrupted in numerous forms. For all
innocent confidence in God is lost, and the heart is full of distrust,
fear and shame. So, also the members of nature all remain the same.
But those members which were once beheld in all their nakedness with
glory are now cautiously covered, as dishonorable and base, lest they
should be seen, because of the great internal defects of nature;
because nature has lost all confidence in God by sin. For if we
possessed that confidence in innocency, as Adam enjoyed it, we should
know no shame, no blush in our nakedness.

From this corruption, which immediately followed sin, arose another
evil. Adam and Eve were not only ashamed on account of their
nakedness, which before their sin was most honorable, and a most
glorious adornment; but they even make for themselves coverings to
hide from sight those parts of their body which, in their original
nature, were thus so honorable and so glorious. For what in all nature
is so wonderful, so noble and so glorious, as the fact of generation!
And this fact, so noble, so glorious, is not assigned of God to the
eyes or to the face, which we consider to be the more honorable and
dignified parts of our body, but to those parts which thus, taught by
our awful state of sin, we cover from sight with all possible
carefulness lest they should be seen. And thus as the fact of
generation in the innocent state of nature, had it continued, would
have been most pure and most holy; so since the entrance of sin, even
this fact is filled with the leprosy of lust, as are also all the
parts of the body connected with it. Those therefore who live without
marriage, "burn" in lust, most impurely. And those also who live in
marriage, unless they rightly moderate their feelings and affections,
and carefully guard their "due benevolence," 1 Cor. 7:3, are variously
tempted and afflicted.

Do we not then, from all these considerations, feel how foul and
horrible a thing sin is? For lust is the only thing that cannot be
cured by any remedy! Not even by marriage, which was expressly
ordained from above to be a remedy for this infirmity of our nature.
For the greater part of married persons still live in adultery, and
thus sing practically the well-known song of the heathen poet of

  _"Nec tecum possum vivere sine te."_ (OVID)

Neither with thee, nor yet without thee, wife, can I by nature, live.
Such is the horrible turpitude which arises out of this most honorable
and most excellent part of our natural body! I call it most excellent,
on account of the noble and marvelous work of generation, which is
indeed most excellent, and wonderful and glorious; because it
preserves the continuation of the race of mankind! By reason of sin
therefore the most excellent and effectual members of our body have
become the most vile and base.

But this would not have been the case with Adam and Eve, had they
continued in their innocency. They were full of innocent confidence in
their God. Therefore whenever they wished to devote themselves to the
procreation of children, they would have come together, not maddened
with that lust which now reigns in our leprous flesh, but with an
admiration of the ordinance of God, in obedience to God and in the
worship of God; and also with the same holy quietness and solemnity of
mind, as that in which we go to hear the Word of God and to worship
God. But all these things we have lost by sin, so that we can now only
conceive of them and understand them negatively, not positively. For
from the awful state of evil in which we now stand, we can only gather
negatively an idea of the greatness of that good and that glory which
we have lost. But we owe a deep debt of gratitude to God, even for the
remnants of the original glory still left us, however corrupt the
noble, wonderful and glorious work of generation now may be; of which
both the Church and the State have need for the perpetuation of saints
and of citizens.

And it is a marvelous fact that in all the writers, of all tongues not
one iota is found which sets forth the glory of that original
nakedness, which is now through sin so filled with turpitude and
shame; but which before sin entered into the world was so honorable
and glorious. Here we have Moses alone as our great teacher, who
however sets forth the whole matter in but very few, and those very
simple words, teaching us that man, having fallen from faith, was
filled with confusion, and that the glory of his organs of generation
was changed into utter turpitude and ignominy, so that he was
compelled to make coverings to hide them from sight.

The Hebrew term HEGORAH, of which we here have the plural, properly
signifies a girdle or apron-girt, so that we are to understand that
these fig leaves covered the upper parts of the thighs all round in
every part, in order that the part of the body which before sin was
the most honorable, 1 Cor. 12:23, might now be covered as being the
most uncomely and base, and utterly unworthy the sight of men. O how
horrible was the fall by sin! For after it the eyes of man were so
opened that what was before the most honorable and glorious, he now
looks upon as most dishonorable and base.

And so it is to this day. As soon as the law has come, we then first
discover what we have done. And sin thus made known seems to have in
it such awful baseness that the enlightened minds of men cannot endure
the sight, and therefore they endeavor to cover their turpitude. For
no one ever, though he be a thief, an adulterer or a murderer, etc.,
is willing to appear to be such. So also heretics are never found to
acknowledge their error in any degree, but defend it most
pertinaciously and wish to appear to hold the catholic truth. And that
they may secure this appearance, they sew together fig leaves as broad
as possible; that is, they try all things which seem likely to color
over and cloak their heresy.

This same nature of sin is seen even in children, who frequently,
though caught in the very fact of doing evil, yet busy themselves in
discovering means whereby they can persuade their parents to the
contrary; thus excusing themselves, speaking lies, Ps. 58:3. In
precisely the same manner do men also act. Even when caught and held
fast, they yet endeavor to slip away that they may not be confounded,
but may still appear good and just. This portion of poison also has
been infused into our very nature, as the present passage of Moses
likewise testifies.


V. 8. _And they heard the voice of Jehovah God walking in the garden
in the cool (breeze) of the day: and the man and his wife hid
themselves from the presence of Jehovah God amongst the trees of the

This is now the third evil of original sin, bearing its additional
proof, that original righteousness was lost. But here again Lyra is
entangled in the opinions of Rabbins, some of whom interpret the
expression in the breeze of the day, _ad auram diei_, as referring to
place, or to the climate between the south and the west, while others
explain the expression as referring to time, holding that this sacred
circumstance occurred in the evening. When the heat begins to subside,
the winds commence their breathing.

My mind is however that we should receive breathing (_spiritum_) here,
as simply signifying "the Word," and understand the passage as meaning
that after the conscience of Adam and Eve were convinced by the divine
law, they were terrified at the sound of a leaf. Just as we see to be
the case with all fearstricken men, when they hear the creak of a
beam, they dread the fall of the whole house. When they hear a mouse
moving they are terrified lest Satan should be at hand with an intent
to destroy them. For by nature we are so wholly filled with alarm,
that we really fear even those things which are perfectly safe.

Adam and Eve therefore, as soon as their consciences are convinced by
the law and they are brought to feel their turpitude in the sight of
God, and of themselves having lost their faith and confidence in God,
are so filled with fear and alarm that when they hear a breeze or
breath of wind, immediately imagine that God is at hand as an avenger,
and hide themselves from him. I believe therefore that by the voice of
the Lord walking in the garden, Moses really means a breath or sound
of wind which preceded the appearance of God before them. Hence Christ
says in the gospel, when speaking of the wind, "Thou hearest the sound
or voice thereof," John 3:8. For when Adam and Eve heard the rustling
of the leaves as if shaken by the wind, they thought on a sudden
within themselves, Hark! there is the Lord coming to take vengeance
upon us!

When therefore Moses adds "in the breeze of the day" to the words "the
voice of the Lord God walking in the garden," he seems to me to do so
by way of particular explanation of the meaning he intended to convey.
As if he had said by way of comment, This voice was like a breezy
blast of the day; and as if he wished the emphasis of his expression
to rest on the word day. For he does not speak concerning a wind in
the night, in order to exaggerate the greatness of the terror which
follows upon sin; as if he had said in further explanation they were
so stricken with fear that they were alarmed at the sound of a leaf,
even in the clear light of day. What therefore, he seems to intend to
intimate, would have been the result if God had come to them in the
night and in the solemn darkness? Then the terror must have been more
dreadful still. For as the light gives animation, so the darkness
increases dread. This terror therefore, with which Adam and Eve after
their sin were struck in the very broad light of day, is indeed a
manifest proof that they had fallen utterly from the confidence of

This I believe to be the true sense of the present passage, and it
fully agrees with that threatening of Moses, Lev. 26, where he is
speaking of the punishments which should assuredly follow the
commission of sin, that the sinners should be chased by the sound of a
shaking leaf and that they should flee from it as from a sword, Lev.
26:36. For when the conscience is truly alarmed on account of sin, the
man is so oppressed by it that he not only cannot do anything, but
cannot even direct his thought to any purpose. And just as they say is
sometimes the case in an army when the soldiers, overpowered by fear,
cannot move a hand, but give themselves up in entire helplessness to
be slaughtered by the enemy; in the same manner so horrible is the
punishment which follows sin that the conscience of the sinner is
struck with alarm at the sound of a leaf. Nay, that he cannot endure
that all-beautiful creature, the light of day, by which all nature
besides is enlivened and refreshed.

Here therefore you have another sight of the magnitude of that
original sin which is born in us at our birth, and implanted in us by
the sin of our first parents. And this sight, as I have said, enables
us to understand negatively or by a comparison of contraries, what
original righteousness was. It contained in it such a beautiful
confidence in man toward his God, that he could not have feared even
though he had seen the heavens falling in ruins upon his head!

With what complete confidence did Eve listen to the serpent? We do not
talk to a little house-dog brought up in our family circle and to whom
we have been accustomed for years, nor with a favorite chicken, more
familiarly than Eve did with that then beautiful creature. Before
their sin therefore Adam and Eve sought no hiding-places; but stood
upright in all their created wisdom and righteousness, praising God
with uplifted eyes. But now they are terrified at the sound of a
shaking leaf. O! how awful a fall! To fall from the safest security
and delight in God into fear and dread so horrible, that man can no
longer endure the sight of his God, but flees from his presence as
from the presence of the devil! For it is not the devil from whom Adam
and Eve are now fleeing. They are rushing from the sight of God their
Creator, whose presence is now more dreadful and intolerable to them
than that of Satan; Satan is now more congenial to their feelings than
the adorable God; for from Satan they flee not, nor are filled with
his dread. This dread therefore, is actually a flight from and a
hatred of God himself.

It is instructive here to mark the gradual increase and progressive
steps of sin, which goes on until it becomes, as Paul is wont to
express it, "exceeding sinful," Rom. 7:13. For man first falls from
his faith into unbelief and disobedience. Upon unbelief follow the
dread and hatred of God and fleeing from him; and these are soon
succeeded by despair and impenitence. For whither shall the heart flee
when thus dreading the presence of God? Shall it flee unto the devil?
That of course is vain, and is never expected to be the case; and yet
to this it all comes. For this history shows that God created man and
made him lord over all created things. And yet that same man now flees
from him and considers nothing more hateful or intolerable than the
presence of this same Creator. Were it not so he would not now thus
turn away from his God nor flee from him in instant dread of the voice
of his approach. For all this is not during the night, not under
thunderings and lightnings as at the mount of Sinai, but in the bright
light of "day" while a gentle breeze is breathing and the leaves of
the trees softly rustling by its touch! There is nothing therefore
more intolerable to endure, nothing filled with greater misery than a
conscience alarmed by the law of God and by the sight of sins

This it was that made Adam and Eve do the worst of all things they
could do, namely, to shun their Creator and their God, and to flee to
the truly vain refuge of fig leaves, in order to cover themselves from
his sight and to hide themselves among the trees! And what could be
more indescribably horrible, than thus to flee from God and to hide
themselves from his sight?

Wherefore this affords a further view of alterations of the rectitude
of the will and of the understanding after the sin of the fall. The
very facts show that the will was corrupted and depraved. For Adam and
Eve long for those very things which God had prohibited, and they so
long for them as to become disobedient to God and obedient to Satan.
Nor can we entertain any doubt of the corruption of the understanding
also, when we see the counsel of covering themselves which Adam and
Eve adopted, and by which they thought they were safe. Was it not, I
pray you, the very extreme of folly, first to attempt impossibilities
in trying to flee from God, whom no one can escape or avoid? And was
it not in the next place greater folly still, to attempt that escape
from the presence of God in so absurd a manner, as to believe
themselves safe when hidden among the trees of the garden, when they
must otherwise have known that no walls of iron nor mighty mountains
of brass can save from the presence or the grasp of God?

All confidence in God being thus lost by sin, there now follows a
horrible dread upon the will. And all wisdom and understanding being
lost, those most beautiful gifts of God, there follows in their place
the extremity of folly; such folly that men attempt impossibilities by
means the most absurd. So inexhaustibly deep is the evil of original
sin! And even all these calamities are but the prelude to that which
is yet to come. For we are not yet brought to the judgment of God.
Then follows:

V. 9. _And Jehovah God called unto the man, and said unto him, Where
art thou?_

Here we have a description of the judgment of God. When Adam,
terrified by the consciousness of his sin, fled from the presence and
sight of God he found not only paradise, but the whole world too
narrow in which to find a corner where to hide himself from God in
safety. But all his anxiety makes manifest the folly of his mind in
seeking a remedy for his sin by fleeing from his God. But he had fled
from him much too far already. For his very sin was, that he,
departing from God at the first, needed not therefore to flee farther
from him still. But so it is. That is the very nature of sin, the
farther a man departs from God, the farther he wants to depart. And
thus the man who has once departed and apostatized from God, goes on
departing and departing to all eternity. Hence it is truly said
concerning the punishments of hell, that its greatest punishment is
that the wicked there are always wishing to flee from God, but feel
that flee they cannot. Just in the same manner Adam, though found out
and apprehended of God, yet ceases not to attempt to flee out of his

When therefore Moses here says, "Jehovah God called unto Adam," we are
to understand that the Lord called him to judgment. But a question is
raised here concerning the person by means of whom Adam was called of
God, and it is by no means out of the way to suppose that all these
things were carried on by the ministration of angels, and that an
angel here acted in the place of God, as God spoke all these things to
Adam. Just as magistrates when they say or do anything, say and do it
not in their own person, but in the person of God, as his
representatives. Hence it is that the Scriptures call those judgments,
which are exercised and administered by appointed men, the judgment of
God. It by no means displeases me therefore that it should be
considered that Adam was here called by an angel, and that it was
shown him by that same angel that all flight was impossible.

It is here especially to be noticed moreover that Moses expressly
tells us that it was Adam who was called; seeing that it was to Adam
alone that the Word of God was spoken on the sixth day, concerning
that tree of which they were both forbidden to eat. As therefore Adam
alone heard the command, so he alone is first called to judgment. But
as Eve herself also had sinned and departed from God, she also hears
the judgment at the same time and becomes a partaker of the

The words, "Where art thou?" are the words of the law, spoken by God
and reaching unto the conscience of Adam. For although all things are
naked and open unto the eyes of God, as it is written, Heb. 4:13, yet
he speaks unto our sense, feeling and understanding; for he sees us
aiming at the one thing of fleeing away from him and attempting our
escape from his sight and presence. When therefore God says, "Where
art thou?" it is as if he had said, "Thinkest thou that I see thee
not?" For he will have Adam to see and feel that though hidden he is
not hidden from God! And that though he flees from God, from God he
cannot flee. For this is the very nature of all sin; it causes us to
attempt to flee from the wrath of God, from which wrath we find it
impossible to flee. It is indeed the utmost folly to think that we
shall find a remedy in fleeing from God, rather than in returning to
him; yet it is the very nature of sin that the sinner cannot return to
God. What then can we possibly conceive to have been the exceeding
folly and state of mind in Adam? He had heard the voice of Jehovah,
and yet he hoped that he could conceal himself from his presence; when
lo! he was now standing before the tribunal of God and was demanded of
God for punishment!

V. 10. _And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was
afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself._

As it was the utmost folly that Adam fled from God, so in the utmost
folly he answers him, so utterly deprived by sin is he of all wisdom
and counsel. He now really wishes to teach God that he is naked, who
had himself created him naked. Thus does he wholly confound himself,
and betray and condemn himself out of his mouth. He confesses that he
heard the voice of Jehovah and was afraid. And had he not also heard
the voice of Jehovah before, when Jehovah forbade him to eat the fruit
of that tree? Why did he not then fear also? Why did he not then also
hide himself? How was it that then he stood with uplifted countenance
and with joy before him, rejoicing in his presence and delighting to
hear him speak? Now he trembles at the sound of a shaking leaf! It is
at least evident that he is no longer the same Adam he then was; he is
totally changed, and become quite another man; he now looks about for
a lie and a false cause for his defense. For how can it be true, that
"the voice of Jehovah is the real cause of his fear," when before he
feared not that divine voice, but heard it as the voice of his God
with happiness and joy?

Learn then from this solemn history that perverseness and folly ever
accompany sin, that transgressors by all their excuses only accuse
themselves, and that the more they defend the more they betray
themselves, especially before God! Thus Adam here attempts to conceal
his sin and to adorn himself as innocent, in that he alleges, as the
cause of his fleeing, not his having sinned, but his having heard the
voice of the Lord; and he makes that to be the cause of his alarm and
of his being ashamed because he was naked. Poor wretched man! He never
thinks that he had no such fear as this when he heard the same voice
of God at first. He never recollects that he was not then ashamed
because he was naked. For as that nakedness was the creation of God,
why should he the creature be ashamed of that which God had made! He
then walked in all his nakedness in the sight of God and of the whole
creation in paradise, perfectly secure and happy that such was the
will of God and delighting in God on that very account. But now he is
covered with shame, because he is naked and flees from God and hides
from him on that account. Every one of these things is an argument by
which Adam condemns himself, and betrays his present state of sin. And
just in the same manner will the wicked condemn themselves in the
final judgment, when all the darkness shall be driven away from all
the hearts of men and the sins of all men shall be read in the "book"
when "opened"!

God knew perfectly well that Adam had sinned and was guilty of death.
Yet he calls him that he might be condemned by the testimony of his
own mouth, as having sinned. For he flees from God when he calls him,
which fact was itself the very essence of sin, even as it is the very
essence of righteousness to flee unto God as a refuge. This fleeing
from God therefore is the strongest possible testimony of Adam against
himself. Yet even still he vainly hopes that his sin can be covered by
a lie, for he alleges as the real causes of his flight the voice of
God and his own nakedness.

From this we learn therefore that such is the nature of sin, that
unless God bring the medicine immediately after it is committed and
call back the sinner to himself, he will flee from his God farther and
farther, and by mendaciously excusing his sin he will add sin to sin
until he runs at length into blasphemy and despair. Thus sin draws
after it by its own weight as it were sin upon sin, and causes eternal
ruin, until the sinner finally will rather accuse God himself than
acknowledge his own sin.

Adam ought to have said, Lord, I have sinned! But this Adam does not.
He rather actually accuses God of sin; and in reality he says, thou,
Lord, hast sinned. For I should have remained wholly in paradise after
my eating the fruit, if thou hadst remained perfectly quiet. For the
words of Adam bear all this import in truth, when he says in
substance, I should not have fled if thy voice had not terrified me
from thy presence. Thus man, when accused of sin by his God, instead
of acknowledging his sin, rather accuses God as being the cause of it
and transfers his sin from himself and lays the blame of it on his
Creator. Hence sin increases to infinity, unless God by his mercy come
to succor the sinner. And yet Adam all the while considers this
excusing himself and blaming his Creator, the highest wisdom. For he
is so confounded by the terror of his conscience, that he knows not
what he says nor what he does. Although by thus excusing himself, he
only accuses himself the more grievously and increases his sin to the
utmost extent.

Let us however by no means think that all this happened to Adam only.
Every one of us does the very same thing; nor will nature of herself
ever permit us to do otherwise. For after having sinned we all rather
accuse God than acknowledge our sin before him; just as Adam here did,
who asserted that the voice of God was the cause of his fleeing from
him; thus actually making God himself to be the cause of his flight.
And next, upon the back of this sin quickly follows another and
further sin. For he that spares not his Creator himself, how shall he
be likely to spare the creature? Therefore Adam next charges God with
his nakedness, thus making him the Creator of a thing that was vile
and base. For by his sin Adam is so deprived of his senses that he
turns the glory of his nakedness into a reproach to his Creator.

V. 11. _And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou
eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not

Here the conscience of Adam is pierced with the true sting of the law.
It is as if God had said, Thou knowest that thou art naked, then and
therefore thou hidest thyself from me. But nakedness is my creature.
Dost thou condemn that creature then as vile and base. It is not thy
nakedness therefore that hath confounded thee, nor is it my voice that
hath terrified thee. It is thy conscience that accuseth thee of sin,
because thou hast eaten the fruit of the forbidden tree. This is the
cause of thy flight from my presence. Here Adam being thus pressed by
the law and by his conscience is in the midst of death; yea, in the
midst of hell. For he is compelled to confess that there was no evil
in his nakedness, because it was so created of God. But he was forced
to acknowledge that the mighty evil was that he now had a guilty
conscience concerning his nakedness, in which before he had gloried as
in a beautiful adornment; and that he now dreaded that same voice of
God, which before he had heard with supreme delight.

It is to this state of mind, which the Lord now perceives in Adam,
that the words of this passage expressly speak. As if Jehovah had
said, Since thou hast an evil conscience and art filled with dread,
most assuredly thou hast eaten of the forbidden tree. For thou
receivedst no command from me that thou shouldst not commit murder nor
that thou shouldst not commit adultery, but that thou shouldst not eat
of the fruit of this tree. As therefore thou art filled with terror,
thou thereby makest it manifest that thou hast sinned against that

Thus those very things which were Adam's thoughts, those same things
he now hears from the mouth of the Lord. Adam was thinking thus: I
have eaten the fruit, but I will not say that I have fled from God on
that account. I will say nothing about my sin. I will say that I was
afraid, because I was naked, and that I was terrified into flight by
his voice. But while he is saying these things to himself he is
compelled to condemn himself, and he hears his conscience within
convicting him of a lie and condemning his sin. In addition to this
accusation of his own conscience, the Lord himself now accuses him of
his sin openly, and in the plainest words. But not even now can Adam
be brought to the honest acknowledgment of his sin. For now follows,

V. 12. _And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me,
she gave me of the tree, and I did eat._

Only mark the true colors, the essential evil and real nature of sin.
It is depicted in this excuse of Adam. It shows that a man can in no
way be brought to an open confession of his sin, but that he will deny
his sin or excuse it as long as he can find that there is any hope or
any probable ground of excuse left him. For it was not so wonderful
that Adam should at first hope that his sin could be covered, and that
he should rather accuse God than acknowledge the sin he had committed.
The great wonder was that after he was convicted in his own
conscience, and after he had heard his sin declared from the mouth of
God himself, he should still persist in excusing that sin. For he does
not say, "Lord, I have sinned; forgive me the debt of my sin; be
merciful unto me;" for the very nature of sin is, that it will not
suffer the mind to flee unto God, but instead compels it to flee from
God. But he transfers all the fault from himself to the woman.

It is a well known rule, taught in the schools of legal and civil
orators, that when a charge of crime is brought against the defendant,
the act should either be denied totally or defended as having been
done rightly. Adam here does both. He first of all denies his sin
altogether and asserts that his terror arose, not from his sin, but
from the voice of the Lord. And then when so far convinced of his sin
in what he has done he attempts to defend the act, as having been done
rightly and unavoidably. "If," says he to the Lord, "thou hadst not
given me this woman, I should not have eaten the fruit." Thus he
further lays all the blame of what he had done on God himself, and
positively accuses him as being after all the real cause of his sin.

Wherefore there is no end to a man's sinning, when he has once turned
aside from the Word. Adam at first sinned by unbelief and
disobedience, and now he heaps upon that sin reproaches of God and
positive blasphemy, saying in effect, It was not I who listened to the
serpent; it was not I who was captivated by looking on the fruit of
that tree; it was not I who stretched forth my hand to pluck the
forbidden fruit. The woman whom _thou_ gavest me did all this. In a
word Adam has no desire to acknowledge his sin. On the contrary he
wishes to be considered pure and clean.

This portion of the divine record contains a further description of
sin and of the real nature of sin. For whenever the promise of the
remission of sins or faith in that promise is not immediately at hand,
the sinner cannot do otherwise than Adam did. If God had said, Adam,
thou hast sinned, but I will pardon thy sin, then Adam would have
acknowledged his sin with all humility and candor and with the utmost
detestation of what he had done. But because the hope of the remission
of sin was not present to his mind on account of his having
transgressed the commandment of God, he can see nothing, he can feel
nothing but death, the certain punishment of such transgression. And
because human nature cannot but be shocked at the sight of that
certain death, therefore Adam cannot be brought to the confession of
his sin, but he tries all possible means by which he has the least
hope of warding off the blame of his sin. And thus does every sinner
hate the punishment of his transgressions; and because he hates that
punishment, he also hates the justice of God, and God himself, and
endeavors by all means in his power to persuade both God and men that
he suffers innocently.

Just in this manner does Adam here endeavor to lessen his sin by
saying that it was not he who listened to the serpent, nor he who
plucked the fruit. "The woman whom thou gavest me," says he, "offered
me the fruit of this tree." In the same state of mind as Adam are
those who, when they have come to a knowledge of the sins they have
committed, filled with despair, either cut short their life with a
halter or curse God as the cause of their transgressions. The words of
Job are familiarly known: "Let the day perish wherein I was born; why
died I not from the womb?" Job 3:3, 11. For such lay all the fault of
their sin on God, and complain against God that they were ever created
to destruction and damnation. Nor can any sinner do otherwise, when
the hope of pardon and the promise of grace are not present to his
soul. Because death is intolerable to human nature, therefore it
produces desperation and blasphemies.

It is an utterance full of pain and of wrath against God, when Adam
says, "The woman whom _thou_ gavest me." It is as if he had said, thou
thyself has laid upon me the burden of this evil; if thou hadst given
to the woman some separate garden to herself and hadst not burdened me
with thy command that I should live with her, I might have continued
without sin. As therefore I have sinned, the fault is thine in adding
to me a wife. In the case of Adam therefore is set before us an exact
example of all those who sin and who despair under their sin. They
cannot do otherwise than accuse God and excuse themselves, for seeing
as they do that God is omnipotent they consider that he could have
prevented these their sins. So horrible is sin, whenever the minds of
sinners are not soon relieved and lifted up with the promise of the
forgiveness of sins. And this is the true effect of the law, whenever
the law is alone, without the gospel and the knowledge of its grace,
it always leads to despair and to final impenitence.

V. 13. _And Jehovah God said unto the woman, What is this thou hast
done? (Why hast thou done this?) And the woman said, The serpent
beguiled me and I did eat._

Here the example of Eve is also set before us, who being corrupted by
sin is seen to be in no degree better than Adam.

Adam wished to appear innocent, and laid the blame on God, because he
had given him a wife. Eve also attempts to excuse herself and accuses
the serpent, which also was a creature of God. She confesses indeed
that she had eaten the fruit, but she says, The serpent, which thou
createdst and which thou permittedst to go about in paradise, imposed
upon me. Now is not this actually accusing her Creator and removing
the fault from herself? Hence we see that sin is always and everywhere
the same and works in the same way. It is never willing to be punished
as sin, but ever wishes to appear to be righteousness. And as it
cannot accomplish this it turns the blame from itself upon God; so
that when God accuses a man of sin the man actually charges God with
falsehood in that accusation. So that sin, from being a human sin,
becomes positively a devilish sin; and the unbelief of the man is
turned into blasphemy, and his disobedience into reproach against his

I term this a devilish and not a human sin; because the devil hates
and accuses and condemns God, and justifies himself to all eternity;
nor can he possibly from his heart say, "Lord, I have sinned; pardon
my sin." Were it not so the devil would not eternally despair of
pardon. But that pardon is impossible, as long as he acknowledges not
his sin, but blasphemes God as exercising unjust cruelty against him
as a creature without just cause.

Hence we see Adam and Eve so deeply fallen and sunk under sin, that
they could not sink any lower. For upon their unbelief followed the
disobedience of all the powers and all the members in man. Upon this
disobedience, immediately afterwards, followed the excuse and defense
of their sin. This defense was next followed by an accusation and
condemnation of their God. This is sin's last step, to reproach God
himself and to make him the author of sin. This nature of ours can
ascend no higher than this in its sin against God. And these are the
onward steps of sin, unless the minds of fallen sinners are lifted up
by a confidence in God's mercy.

Wherefore the state of the Church under the pope, was most horrible;
for in it was neither seen nor heard anything whatever which could
lift up the mind of a sinner, laboring under his sin and guilt; except
that once a year the history of the passion of our Lord was slightly
taught. And the statement of that history showed forth in some slight
manner the source from which pardon was to be sought. But everything
else on every side led men away from the promise of the remission of
sins to their own righteousness. Hence it was that we saw in many
monasteries men alarmed by their sins through their whole life time,
who were filled with despair as they walked about, and at length died
in agony, worn out with sorrow and pains of spirit. And as to the rest
of their brethren, this doctrine of pardon being wholly unknown, they
did nothing but stand in their places and procure the protection of
their saint by idolatrous prayers. Thus were these miserable creatures
worn out and consumed with the most terrible pains of soul, without
hope, without counsel and without any help whatever. Was not this
then, I pray you, a horrible state of things?

Wherefore if the papacy and all the monasteries together could be
overturned by the touch of one finger, it ought at once to be done on
account of the whole papal church being this most wretched
slaughter-house of consciences! For there is nothing more horrible
than for a man to be under the weight of his sins, and yet never to
hear or have the remission of sins and the promise of grace. Now the
pope was the very cause of the remission of sins being utterly kept
out of men's sight. For no sound doctrine nor any true worship
whatever was retained in the church. And if any were saved in these
times they were saved by the bare annual recital of the sufferings of
Christ, apprehended by faith, contrary to the will of the pope and in
defiance of his opposition. For through him men in the extreme perils
of their souls were brought down to the necessity of imploring the
intercession of Mary and of the saints. For these sayings filled every
place: that the mother Mary showed her breasts to her Son, and that
the Son showed his wounds to his Father, and that the man was thus
saved; not by the intercession of the Son, but by the intercession of
his mother.

I earnestly entreat you therefore with all the persuasion in my power,
to set the highest value possible upon the doctrine of the Gospel. For
what do we see in this history of Moses that Adam and Eve suffered
when their sin was before them, and this knowledge of the promise of
grace and of pardon was out of their sight? The very same do we also
see in the damnation of Satan; for as he is destitute of the promise
of grace he is not able to cease from his sins, nor from his hatred of
God, nor from his blasphemies against him. Hence it is that the
condition of Adam was so different from that of Satan, and so much
better and more blessed. For Adam was called to judgment that he might
acknowledge his sin, that being terrified by his sins he might
afterwards be lifted up again and comforted by the promise of the
remission of his sins; as we shall now further see in this most
beautiful part of the sacred history of Moses, in which we shall also
find the preaching of Christ.

For as the issue of this whole transaction sets forth the very great
goodness and mercy of God toward man, seeing that God calls him back
to the remission of sins and to eternal life through the _Seed_ that
was to come; so also these very beginnings of this divine mercy, if we
view them aright, are much better and greater than Adam deserved at
God's hand. For we have not here a display of that terrible majesty of
God, which was witnessed on Mount Sinai, where there were thunderings
and lightnings mingled with the loud soundings of trumpets. Here God
approaches with the soft sound of the gentle breeze, signifying that
he came in this case to seize with the tender hand of an affectionate
Father. He does not drive Adam from him on account of his sin, but
calls him away from his sin to himself. This fatherly care however
Adam, overwhelmed with his sin and its terrors, does not at first
understand or perceive; he does not consider how differently God deals
with him than with the serpent. For he did not call the serpent to
him. He did not ask the serpent why he had sinned, in order that he
might call him from his sin unto repentance. He charges the serpent
with his sin, and pronounces his doom. These things show us that
Christ our deliverer interposed himself even then, between God and man
as a mediator. For it was the greatest display of grace, that even
after the sin of Adam God was not silent, but spoke; and that too in
many and plain words, with the intent of showing forth evidences of
his fatherly mind toward sinners. His carriage towards the serpent was
altogether different. Wherefore although the promise concerning Christ
was not yet given, it may be plainly discerned in the thoughts and
counsel of God on this occasion.

Thus far therefore Moses has set before us the judgment which God
exercised after the sin of the fall of our first parents. He calls
them to his tribunal, and convicts them, and interrogates them, and
hears them. They, poor creatures, desire indeed to escape that
judgment, but they cannot; nay, while they attempt to excuse
themselves they doubly accuse and betray themselves. The woman
acknowledges what she had done. Adam attempts to conceal the fact,
although according to the very nature of sin he does not wish it to
appear to be really sin at all. For as long as grace is withheld from
the sinner it is impossible for him to do otherwise than excuse
himself, and try to make his sin appear to be righteousness. God
therefore is always compelled thus to contend with us by his laws,
until he extorts from us the confession of our sins and brings us to
justify him; as it is written in Ps. 51:4, where this confession is
fully described. But as long as the law rules alone and galls the
conscience, the conscience thus terrified cannot bring out this
confession, as the examples of Adam and Eve here fully show.

From this portion of the sacred record of Moses the holy prophets drew
many divine truths; for they studied this book of Moses with far
greater diligence and stronger faith than we do. From this source they
derived the following holy sentences: "The wicked flee when no man
pursueth," Prov. 28:1. "The wicked are like the troubled sea, for it
cannot rest; there is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked," Is.
57:20, 21. "He that believeth shall not be ashamed," Is. 28:16. "The
righteous are bold as a lion," Prov. 28:1. "The just shall live by his
faith," Hab. 2:4. From this same place of Moses Christ also drew that
memorable saying of his, which we find in the Evangelist John, "For
every one that doeth evil hateth the light," John 3:20. For it is the
very nature of sin that whoso committeth sin desires to remain hidden
in darkness, and not to be brought into the light, just as Adam
covered himself with fig-leaves and fled to conceal himself among the

And we must also here touch upon that passage of the Apostle Paul,
1 Tim. 2:13, 14, "For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was
not beguiled but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into
transgression." This passage nearly all interpreters understand to
mean that Adam was not deceived, but that he sinned knowingly; not
from yielding to the persuasion of the devil as Eve had done, but from
being unwilling to distress the delight of his life, that is, his
wife; and thus preferring the love of his wife to the command of God.
And they attempt to render this interpretation likely and probable by
saying, that the serpent reverenced the male as his lord, but that he
attacked the female, whom, although she was holy as the man, yet as
being the weaker creature, he considered to be the better adapted to
yield to his persuasion, and that therefore Eve was deceived by the
serpent, and not Adam. Adam, they maintain, was deceived both by
himself and by the woman, but not by the serpent; by the woman when
she presented to him the fruit to eat; by himself when, because he did
not see Eve die immediately when she had eaten the fruit, he was
induced to believe that the punishment which God had threatened would
not "surely" follow. Just as a thief, when he has found his theft to
have succeeded once or twice, goes on stealing in security. Whereas
had the law-officer or the gallows been kept before his eyes, he would
have ceased to steal.

Wherefore I do not altogether condemn the above interpretation, for it
makes both views to stand true, that Adam was deceived and that he was
not deceived. He was not indeed deceived by the serpent as Eve was,
but he was deceived both by his wife and by himself, when he persuaded
himself that the punishment which God had said should follow would not
really come. Then follows the execution of judgment upon all the
parties concerned.


I. V. 14. _And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast
done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of
the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all
the days of thy life._

After judgment has been pronounced and the whole case completely gone
through, follows the execution of judgment, in which, as we shall now
hear, there is rendered to each party according to their work, but not
one like the other. Now this passage claims our thoughtful attention
in the first place, because there is not found throughout the five
books of Moses so long a speech in the person of God. And in the next
place, because this divine speech contains no law whatever as to what
the serpent or man was required to do. The whole speech is occupied in
promising that good or threatening that evil, which should come upon
each party concerned.

And it is worthy our particular observation here that, after the sin
of the fall, no further law whatever was imposed on Adam, though
nature in its state of perfection had a divine law set before it. The
reason of this was, because God saw that nature, being now fallen and
corrupt, could not only derive no help or relief from any law given to
it, but that, being thus corrupted and also disorganized and confused
altogether, it could not bear any syllable of law whatsoever.
Wherefore God did not increasedly oppress nature, already thus
oppressed by sin, with any further law of any kind. But on the
contrary God mercifully applied unto sin as a terrible wound, a
healing plaster, that is, the promise concerning Christ, still using
that caustic, the curse on sin, which the devil had caused to be
inflicted. For as wholesome plasters, even while they heal, yet
corrode and pain the flesh; so the healing promise is so set before
Adam that the threatened curse on sin should be added, to operate with
it in curing the lust of the flesh. By the lust of the flesh I mean,
not only that foul motion and itching of lust, but also "all manner of
concupiscence" and uncleanness of soul, as Paul terms them, Rom. 7:8;
Eph. 4:19, through which we are by nature inclined to idolatry,
unbelief, self-security and all other horrible sins against the first
and second Table. To curb and cure all this depravity of nature, we
have need of the operation of this burning caustic, the curse of God
on sin.

I would that I could handle the text now before us in a manner
becoming its depth and dignity, for it embraces all that is glorious
in the whole Scripture, containing in it the curse of God on Satan and
the destruction of the seed of the serpent by the seed of the woman.
The former part of the text is wholly figurative. God speaks to the
serpent, but it is manifest that the serpent alone is not here to be
understood as addressed by God. For these are not the words of God as
a Creator, as were those words above, when he said unto the beasts of
the earth, "Be fruitful and multiply;" nor when he said to the earth
itself, "Let the earth bring forth grass, and herbs, and trees,
yielding seed after their kind." They are words of divine threatening
and a declaration of mind and will, such words as God never speaks to
an irrational creature, but to an intelligent creature only.

God does indeed address the "serpent" by name, but he is all the while
especially speaking to Satan, who ruled in the serpent, and by the
serpent deceived the first parents of mankind. Nevertheless as, on
account of the sin of man, the lord of the whole creation, all animals
and all trees perished in the flood, just as the subjects of a nation
are often punished on account of the misdeeds of their prince, so it
befell the serpent. That animal also was punished because of the sin
of the devil, who had abused the serpent in making use of it to work
so mighty an evil as the sin of the fall. God however intends,
figuratively, to be represented under this punishment of the serpent,
the deluging punishment of Satan.

The obscurity which lies in this figurative representation has been
the reason why this text, which ought to be most clearly known and
understood by all, has never to my knowledge been explained by any one
with sufficient diligence and clearness. And I have often wondered
what the fathers and the bishops could have been about, who, when
occupied in the government of churches and in the condemnation of
heretics, did not feel that they had a still more important duty to
perform in devoting themselves with greater diligence to the
explanation of such passages of the Scriptures as these. Such bishops
and fathers possess nothing more than the name, for they may with more
truth be called destroyers than watchmen or guardians of the churches.
I am now speaking of those of our fathers and bishops who really
excelled in holiness of life and doctrine. Even among these not one is
found to have explained the text before us in any manner becoming its
great dignity. Perhaps those various engagements which generally beset
the rulers of churches too deeply involve them to leave them time for
the purpose.

The disgrace of our more recent divines is notorious. They have even
shamefully corrupted this whole passage, and out of the neuter pronoun
_ipsum_ they have made the feminine, _ipsa_, which, with the most open
wickedness, they have thus wrested, and have applied it to the Virgin
Mary, "_She_ shall bruise thy head," verse 15. I can pardon Lyra, who
was as it appears a good man, but he conceded too much to the
authority of the fathers, and hence he suffered himself to be drawn
aside by Augustine, to the most weak and foolish allegorizings, which
system Gregory also follows in his "Morals," maintaining that by the
woman in this part of the sacred record ought to be understood the
inferior power of reason, as by the man, the superior power of reason;
and by her seed, the operation of good; but by the seed of the devil,
his evil suggestions.

But what need, I pray you, friendly reader, is there of all such
darkness of the most absurd allegories in all this clear light of the
truth? But grant that we might with any propriety divide reason into
two qualities or powers, the superior and the inferior. With how much
greater propriety may we term that the inferior power of reason which
is adapted to the government of domestic and political affairs, and
not that which is concerned in swine-like pleasure and gratification?
calling that the superior power of reason by which we contemplate
those things which are separate from economy or polity, and which
pertain unto religion, the solemn things of the Word, in which we do
nothing operatively, but only contemplate and learn? Although we thus
speak upon these things what have they to do after all with the sacred
text before us? Do they not altogether encumber and keep out of sight
its real sense, and substitute a spurious sense in its stead, a sense
which is not only useless but pernicious? For what can reason do or
what light can it give in the divine matter of religion?

There is also a further absurdity in this mode of interpretation, by
which Eve is made to be the inferior power of reason. For it is
perfectly evident that Eve was not inferior to her husband Adam in any
sense whatever; that is, neither in body nor in soul. It is from this
ridiculous mode of interpretation that all those profane disputations
concerning free-will have arisen, and concerning the doctrine "that
reason always prays for the best," etc., until all theology is lost in
philosophy and sophistical absurdities.

Wherefore let us, casting away all such pernicious and absurd follies,
enter upon a new road of interpretation, caring naught for having
disregarded the footsteps of those who have gone before us. For we
have the Holy Spirit as our guide, not setting before us in Moses a
heap of absurd allegories, but teaching us through him the mightiest
truths and the mightiest things which took place between God the
Creator and man the sinner, and Satan the author of sin.

First of all then let us settle it as a fact that the serpent here
spoken of by God was a natural and real serpent, but a serpent
besieged and occupied by Satan, who spoke through and by that serpent.
Let us next consider it to be a truth, that those things which God
spoke to the serpent are not to be understood as having been spoken to
the serpent abstractedly as a brute animal, but that the person
immediately spoken to was Satan, to whom God was all the while more
expressly speaking. By this manner of interpretation, I am sure that I
retain the plain and simple historical and literal meaning, and a
meaning in accordance with the whole passage; by which meaning, as
divinely intended, the serpent remains a serpent though occupied and
possessed by Satan, the woman remains a woman, and Adam remains Adam,
all which is proved by what follows in the sacred narrative. For it is
not an inferior power of reason and a superior power of reason, who
begat Cain and Abel, as recorded in the following chapter, but Adam
and Eve, that is, the first parents of mankind, who fell by sin into
death and became subject to the dominion of Satan.

When therefore God says to the serpent, "Thou art cursed above all
cattle and above every beast of the field, upon thy belly shalt thou
go," the divine meaning is not that which Augustine gives, and which
his disciples follow. They understand that by "belly" is to be
allegorically understood pride. But the divine mind in the passage is,
that as Satan abused the serpent in effecting the sin of the fall, so
the serpent is compelled of God to bear a part of the punishment of
that sin and therefore is thus cursed above all cattle, that it might
be the most hateful of all the beasts of the field. At the beginning
of the creation it was not so; but now through the divine curse, such
a nature has been imparted to the serpent, that the creature which
before the curse was the most delightful and the sweetest of all
creatures, is now hated and dreaded above every other animal of the
creation. Hence we find by experience that we have a natural
abhorrence of serpents, and that serpents as naturally dread and flee
from us. Thus the serpent is indeed made to bear this curse as part of
the punishment of sin.

These words however are not spoken unto the serpent only, God is
dealing all the time with Satan in the serpent. It is on Satan that
this sentence is pronounced, as his final judgment. It is Satan that
is here placed before God's tribunal.

For God here speaks to the serpent in far different language from that
which he used toward Adam and Eve, when he called them back in love
from their sin. His language then was, "Where art thou?" "Who told
thee that thou wast naked?" All these particulars indicate the love of
God towards the whole human race; showing forth that God will seek
after man and will call him back after he has sinned, that he may
reason with him and hear what he has to say. All this was a sure
announcement of grace. For although these words of God, spoken to Adam
and Eve, were legal and judicial words; yet they set before them a
hope by no means obscure, that they should not be condemned for ever.

But with the serpent and Satan God by no means dealt so mercifully. He
did not call Satan to him and say, "Why hast thou done this?" He
pronounced upon him at once the sentence of judgment; and that too, in
the most awful words, "Because thou hast done this." As if he had
said, Thou, Satan, hadst sinned before this and hadst been condemned,
when thou didst fall from heaven; and now to that sin thou hast added
this one. Thou hast by the abuse of the serpent hurled man into sin
also. Therefore in the first place the serpent shall bear this
punishment; that whereas before it partook of that blessing which all
other beasts also enjoyed; now it alone shall remain under my curse.

From all these circumstances it must follow as a manifest consequence,
that the serpent before the sin of the fall was the most beautiful
creature among the beasts which God had made, and most delightful to
man; as are at this day kids, and lambs, and kittens to us, and also
that it moved with its head erect; and moreover that it now creeps
upon the ground is not a property of its original nature, but the
consequence of the divine curse. Just in the same manner as they are
the consequences of the curse, that the woman conceives in
uncleanness, brings forth in sorrow, and nurses and trains her
offspring with toils and griefs. Were there no curse the whole process
of creation would be most pure and holy; the giving birth to children
most easy and delightful, and the training up of children the highest
pleasure. Sin therefore has not only utterly corrupted nature itself,
but most basely defiled it.

And yet the human reasoners even of our day dare to affirm that the
original properties of nature have remained essentially sound and
whole, even in devils. But if the serpent, which Satan had abused to
effect the sin of the fall, bore such a punishment on account of that
sin; that whereas before it was the most beautiful of all creatures,
it now on a sudden crawled on the ground upon its belly and drew after
it its viperous tail before the eyes of Adam, and thus all on a sudden
became an object of hatred and of dread; how can we doubt that the
same was the utterly changed case with the man, who was the very one
who had committed the sin and had imbibed into his very nature the
poison of Satan? As therefore the Egyptians beheld not without the
greatest amazement the rod thrown down by Moses suddenly changed into
a serpent, just so in paradise, immediately upon God's uttering this
word of the curse, the serpent was changed from a form the most
beautiful into an object the most disgusting and revolting.

And to this same curse pertains that which God moreover said, "And
dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life." The allegorists explain
this, as meaning that Satan would render men given up to the love of
earthly things one with himself by deceiving them. But as I have said,
God is here speaking to the serpent as such and cursing the serpent,
causing it to bear its punishment of the sin of the fall. For there
are other beasts which also feed upon the earth, but the serpent eats
the earth as its curse; that whereas before it had a certain peculiar
gift of subtlety and of beauty, and of food also, which it enjoyed in
common with man, it now bore as its punishment that the nature of its
food was changed.

It is the glory of sheep, of oxen and of other beasts, that they feed
on herbs and even on the fruits of trees, and also that they produce
various things useful for the food of man, such as butter, milk, their
own flesh, etc. The serpent also possessed this glory of his feeding
in common with the other beasts. But now he is cast out from this
society, and as it were from this common table and common feasting on
account of the sin of the fall, so that he is not permitted to feed
upon even the most useless herb; nor on apples, or pears, or nuts, on
which even the mice feed. These he dare not taste. He eats the crude
earth only. These are not my words, but the words of Moses; and they
teach us that the nature of the serpent is entirely changed and wholly
different from what it originally was.

And though I have said, and it is true, that it is to the serpent that
God here speaks, and yet so speaks, that his words are directed all
the time more expressly against Satan, as the following part of the
narrative will still more plainly show; yet I am by no means satisfied
that those things spoken, which rightly apply to the nature of the
serpent, should be transferred allegorically, as intended to be spoken
to Satan, like Augustine transfers them and is followed by Lyra. For
the serpent and Satan were intimately connected in the sin of the
fall, though Satan was the principal actor and the serpent only the
instrument. And therefore it is that they are made alike partakers of
the punishment. The serpent however bears a corporal punishment only.
But for Satan, the author and agent of the whole, a different judgment
is prepared, even that judgment concerning which Christ speaks, John
16:11, when he says, "Because the prince of this world is judged." The
description of this judgment will now shortly follow, as recorded by
Moses in the succeeding verses.

Wherefore when many say that the devil, like the serpent, no longer
walks erect and that he has lost his original form and stature, the
things they say are true; but they are quite inappropriate here and
have nothing to do with the right interpretation of the passage now in
question. And when I said above, that the serpent before the curse of
God upon it moved in an erect posture, I do not wish to be understood
to mean that it moved in an upright position as man, but with its neck
and head erect, as a stag or a peacock. To crawl on its belly
therefore after the curse, was the divine judgment on the serpent.

That which now follows belongs expressly to Satan only. And the things
here recorded of him by Moses paint forth his judgment in far more
true colors than any of those foolish and out-of-place descriptions of
the allegorists. They moreover set before us this strong consolation,
that the devil is now so situated that he cannot attack and harm us at
his liberty, as he wishes to do and would do, if the Seed of the woman
stood not directly in his way.

II. V. 15a. _And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and
between thy seed and her seed._

These are the things which are spoken expressly and properly to Satan.
And they contain his judgment. While in these same words of his
judgment, there is set before the godly their strong consolation. The
things above spoken are historical, as I have said, and apply to the
serpent, which because through the abuse of Satan it aided in
effecting the sin of Adam and Eve, bears as his part of the punishment
his ejection from the common life, as it were, and from the society of
the other animals of the creation; being made so different from them
that he dares not eat the same food nor live in any way like them.

The present passage might also be allegorically interpreted. But the
allegories used would be far less appropriate, and they would not
stand firm in the defense of the truth. For the facts of the case are
these: Satan on account of his sin was cast out of heaven and
condemned; and no longer goes about in his original form as an ox or a
hind does, but creeps on the ground; which may signify that he does
not attack the godly by open force, but uses wiles and devices for
their harm and destruction; which devices nevertheless the godly when
they look into the Word see and understand; and by them they perceive
how vast his deformity is, and hence dread and abhor him. And
certainly his creeping on the ground, and not walking upright, may
well indicate that his tyrannical power is broken and destroyed, so
that he cannot do so much harm to the Church as he otherwise would do.
These allegories, we repeat, may be used in the interpretation of the
present text; but they do not explain the meaning of Moses, and
therefore they are improper.

Wherefore, when we speak of Satan, let us ever follow the other
testimonies of Scripture upon the subject; for they are proper,
certain and sure; such for instance as the following: "The devil was a
murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth, because
there is no truth in him;" and also, "When he speaketh a lie he
speaketh of his own," John 8:44; and again, "Your adversary the devil,
as a roaring lion, walketh about seeking whom he may devour," 1 Pet.
5:8; and also, where Christ says, "The prince of this world is
judged," John 16:11.

In a word, who does not plainly see that the testimony of the present
passage applies properly to Satan; and that it is to him that the Son
of God is here opposed, expressly to prevent him from making any
attack upon us with open violence, as if he had no certain Antagonist!
The Church therefore, under this protection, is perfectly safe. And
not only is Satan deprived of the power of attacking the Church with
any open violence, but his power and desire of harming anything or
person else are also destroyed. Were it not so, he would not suffer a
single tree to grow to maturity. He would impede and crush all things
that spring forth in the earth; and would prevent, not the birth of
men only, but the bringing forth of beasts; and would destroy the
safety of everything. This insatiable desire to harm and to destroy is
fully manifest from his inability to attack by open violence, and from
his doing whatever he does by the means of craft, guile and snare.

We should here moreover carefully observe that these things are not
spoken by God for the devil's sake. For God does not deign to condemn
Satan on his own account, by these his words; but he deems it
sufficient to leave Satan to be condemned by his own conscience. All
that God speaks to Satan, he speaks for the sake of Adam and Eve; that
they may hear this judgment of God upon him and may comfort
themselves, by thus hearing and seeing that God is the adversary to
the nature of him, who had inflicted such a wound on man. For out of
these very words of God to Satan, there begin to shine forth grace and
mercy; yea, out of the very midst of that anger, which sin and
disobedience had so righteously kindled. It is here in the very midst
of the heaviest threatenings, that the mind of the Father discloses
itself; of a Father, not so angry as to cast away his Son, but holding
out salvation, yea, promising victory over that enemy, who had thus
deceived and conquered human nature.

For though both had sinned in the fall, Satan especially, and man
through Satan, yet the judgments now pronounced upon Satan and upon
man are widely different. God does not join them together in one and
the same punishment, as he might righteously have done. He makes the
widest distinction between them. For although he is angry with man
also, who obeyed the enemy of God, disregarding God himself, yet the
divine indignation against Satan is by far the greater. Satan God
plainly convicts and condemns in the sight of Adam and Eve, so that
Adam and Eve, from this very condemnation of their enemy, might have a
little time to recover their breath; and might feel how much more
blessed their condition was than that of Satan. The first part of the
great consolation here graciously given lies in this: that the serpent
was accused and cursed and together with the serpent Satan also, for
Adam and Eve's sake. Not so much for Satan's judgment and damnation,
as for Adam and Eve's comfort and salvation.

Wherefore, by this judgment of Satan that sun of consolation, which
had been just before hidden as it were behind the darkness of certain
heavy clouds, now rises above those clouds and shines with its most
heavenly light on the affrighted hearts of Adam and Eve. For they not
only do not hear themselves cursed, as the serpent was, but they hear
God declare, that he has put them into the ranks of a constituted army
against their condemned foe; and that too with the hope of an almighty
help, which the Son of God the Seed of the woman should bring unto
them. By this therefore the remission of their sins and their full
reception into grace were plainly revealed to Adam and Eve; who were
thus perfectly freed from their sin and guilt, redeemed from death,
and delivered from hell and from all those terrors under which they
were utterly sinking in the sight of God.

Such is the great consolation which arises from the fact so carefully
to be observed by the godly, that God did not curse Adam and Eve as he
did the serpent. All that God did to Adam and Eve was to put them into
an army of continual battle with this enemy, that they might not live
a life of ease and indolence. This very thing therefore turned out for
the good of man.

But the chief part of the great consolation here vouchsafed was, that
although this enemy should ever war by subtlety and snares, yet that a
Seed should be born, which should bruise the serpent's head. For
hereby is set forth the final destruction of the tyranny of Satan;
although that tyranny will never come to its end without a most
terrible conflict; a conflict which must be fought out by man. But
only reflect how unequal the conflict is; it is the "heel" only of the
man that is in danger; his head is safe and invincible. On the other
hand, it is not the tail nor the belly, but the "head" itself of the
serpent that is to be bruised and crushed under foot by the Seed of
the woman. And this victory is given also to us all; as Christ plainly
declares when he says, that after the strong man armed shall have been
overcome the spoils shall be divided. For the Christian is by faith at
once made conqueror over sin, the law and death; so that the very
gates of hell cannot prevail against him.

This first great consolation therefore our first parents and their
posterity searched into and learned with all diligence, as being the
original fountain and the fountain head as it were of all the
promises. For they saw, that had they been left without this promise
the blessing of generation would have indeed remained with men, as
with all other animals of the creation, but it would have been only a
begetting and a being born unto death. That great blessing bestowed of
God upon human nature is here highly increased, yea, consecrated;
seeing that the hope hereby added to the blessing of generation, is
such that through it the head of Satan shall be utterly crushed; and
that not only his tyranny shall be destroyed but that human nature
itself, thus made subject to death through sin, shall attain unto
eternal life. For Moses is now no longer dealing in his narrative with
the natural serpent; he is now speaking of the devil, whose "head" is
formed of death and sin; as Christ describes him when he says, John
8:44, that he was "a murderer from the beginning, and a liar, and the
father of it." Therefore, whenever and wherever his power is
destroyed; that is, when sin and death are taken away by Christ, what
remains but that the children of God shall be saved!

It was in this manner therefore that Adam and Eve understood this text
and comforted themselves against sin and despair by the revealed hope
of this future crushing of the serpent's head, by Christ, the Seed of
the woman. And through this, their hope in the promise thus given unto
them, they shall also rise again at the last day unto life eternal.

V. 15b. _He shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel._

Who is not filled with wonder, yea, rather with execration, at the
malicious design of Satan in having attempted to transfer this divine
text, so full and running over with consolation concerning the Son of
God, to the Virgin Mary! For in all the Latin Bibles, the pronoun
_ipse_ is put in the feminine gender _ipsa_, "_She_ shall bruise." And
Lyra, who was by no means unacquainted with the Hebrew language, was
carried away by this error as by the violence of an overflowing and
resistless stream into the same impious interpretation; so that in the
face of its plain meaning, he interpreted the passage as applying to
the blessed Virgin; making her the person, by whom the power of Satan
should be broken through the mediation of her Son. And he applies to
the Virgin also that passage in the Song, "Thou art terrible as an
army with banners." And, although Lyra professes to hold this
interpretation of the present passage as received from others, yet his
sin is great in not refuting it. Many afterwards followed him. And all
the more recent interpreters have perverted this most holy passage to
serve idolatry, finding no one to stop or resist them.

All this however has arisen either from the ignorance or negligence of
the rulers in the Church. Because these did not set themselves against
idolatry, sound doctrine was by degrees suppressed and became extinct.
And since we have now by the blessing of God restored the sound
doctrine, these disgraceful beasts, given to serve the belly, plainly
show that they care not for religion, but for their own benefices
only. And because such idolatry promotes the interests of these men,
they even show their indignation at people being taught the truth. But
these blind beings do not see that the Gospel is a doctrine of the
divine nature, that those who receive it lose nothing by it but their
sins and eternal death; and that they gain in their stead deliverance
from all idolatry and from the dominion of Satan.

Wherefore let us render thanks to God that we have this passage also
restored to its full integrity. Not that thereby any honor due to Mary
might be taken from her, but that all idolatry might be shut out. For
as to men saying that Mary crushed all the power of Satan by giving
birth to Christ; if that be the true state of the case does not that
same honor belong equally to all the other women who preceded Mary in
the same line of genealogy? Nay, a part of this same honor pertains to
all the husbands also in Mary's line and to all her ancestors. For had
she not descended from all these as her forefathers, she herself could
not have had existence. For she was born by marriage according to the
common order of nature. If Mary, by the act of giving birth to her
Son, bruised the head of Satan, all the ancestors of Mary must of
necessity be ranked in the same degree of dignity and honor.

The Scripture however teaches us very differently, when it says that
Christ "died for our sins and rose again for our justification," Rom.
4:25; and when it said, "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sin of the world!" John 1:29. Wherefore let the blessed Virgin hold
her place of due honor, as the woman whom God adorned with that high
privilege above all other women, that she as a virgin should bring
forth the Son of God. This honor however ought by no means so to be
bestowed upon her, as in any way to take from her Son, our Lord, the
glory of our redemption and of our deliverance from sin and death.

Moreover, the peculiar expression of the holy Scripture in this
passage is most carefully to be held and guarded by us, as affording a
truly wonderful light which opens unto us the depth of the divine
goodness, revealed to us in the present sacred text; where we are
taught concerning that enmity which God put between the serpent and
the woman; such an enmity that the Seed of the woman should crush the
serpent with all his powers. This crushing, Satan perfectly understood
at the time, and therefore it is that to this day he rages with so
much hatred against our human nature. Adam and Eve on the contrary,
raised up by the promise of this crushing, conceived the hope of their
restoration in all its fulness. And being thus filled with faith they
saw that their salvation would assuredly be God's peculiar care;
seeing that God had expressly testified, that the male Seed of the
woman should utterly defeat and crush this their enemy. For the words
are divinely put together with a wonderful emphasis.

III. The divine expression here is, "I will put enmity between thy
seed and her seed." As if God had said, Thou, Satan, by means of the
woman didst attack and seduce the man that thou mightest by means of
sin be the head and lord over them. I therefore in like manner will
execute my secret purposes against thee by means of the very same
instrument. I will take hold of the woman, and by her I will produce a
Seed; and that Seed shall bruise thy head. Thou by means of sin didst
corrupt and make subject to death the flesh of the human nature. I
will produce from that same flesh such a man, who shall crush and
utterly defeat both thee and all thy powers.

By these divine words therefore both the promise and the threat were
expressed with the most perfect plainness. And yet they were most
obscure. For they left the devil in such a state of doubt and suspense
that he held under suspicion all the women which brought forth from
that time, fearing lest they should give birth to this Seed; though
one woman only was designed to be the mother of this blessed
offspring. Therefore as the divine threatening was expressed in a
general term, "her Seed," Satan was so mocked thereby that he feared
this Seed from every woman who brought forth.

In the same proportion, on the other hand, the faith of all mankind
was confirmed. For, from the hour in which the divine promise was
made, all men expected that promised Seed, and comforted themselves
against Satan. Hence it was that Eve, when she brought forth her
first-born, Cain, hoped that she had now "gotten" that bruiser of the
head of Satan. And though she was deceived in that hope, yet she saw
that the promised Seed would assuredly at length be born at some time
or other from her posterity. And thus, with respect to all mankind
also, this promise was most clear and at the same time most obscure.

Isaiah threw some additional light upon this glorious promise when he
said, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son," Is. 7:14. For
it was then made certain that this Seed would not be born from the
union of a man and a woman. But the prophet added certain other
particulars, by which he still involved his prophecy in obscurity. In
such obscurity therefore this most clear promise still remained until
Mary had brought forth her Son. Of this birth then angels themselves
were witnesses; and after the angels the shepherds and the wise men;
until this birth was proclaimed abroad by the apostles, throughout the
whole world.

This obscurity therefore tended to increase the concern and suspense
of Satan to the highest degree. As it had been said, "I will put
enmity between thee and the woman;" so Satan suspected and held as his
enemy every woman alike, who gave birth to a child from the time that
word was spoken until Christ was revealed. On the other hand, with
respect to man, this same obscurity increased and strengthened his
faith. Though each woman saw that she was not the mother who gave
birth to this Seed, yet they all believed and were fully assured that
this Seed would be born from some other woman.

God having thus spoken individually or personally, if I may so express
it, that very manner of expression tended most effectually to mock and
rack Satan, and to console the godly and to raise them to faith and
hope. Thus women continued to bring forth until the Flood; and
afterwards also, until the time of Mary. But the seed of none of those
women could truly be said to be the Seed of the woman, but might
rather be said to have been the seed of the man. But that which was
born from Mary was conceived of the Holy Ghost and was the true Seed
of Mary, the appointed woman. This the other promises also testify,
which were made to Abraham and to David; according to which promises
Christ was called "the Son of Abraham" and "the Son of David."

The meaning of the original promise here given Isaiah first revealed,
when he prophesied "that a virgin should conceive and bear a son," Is.
7:14. Afterwards, a clearer explanation and confirmation of it was
made by the angel in the New Testament. Wherefore I doubt not that
there were many saints under the Old Testament, who did not understand
this mystery, but who nevertheless fully expected that Christ would be
born into this world of a woman, and that he would be the deliverer of
the human race; though they knew not what would be the particular
manner and circumstances of his birth. With this general knowledge
they were content and by this knowledge they were saved; even though
they knew not the manner in which Christ would be conceived and born.
For this knowledge was reserved for the New Testament to reveal, as by
the clearer and brighter light. And it was set forth in the first age
of the Church with a greater obscurity, purposely on account of Satan,
whom God willed to be mocked and racked in this manner that he might
thereby have less rest and be more filled with fear on every side.

Wherefore after this great original promise had been thus set forth
generally in the beginning and had by degrees been more
circumstantially particularized, and then confined to the seed of
Abraham; and further restricted by means of the patriarch Jacob to a
certain tribe, the tribe of Judah; after this the devil became
unconcerned about other peoples and tribes, and persecuted this one
line of generation with marvelous cruelties and stratagems; until
about the time of Christ it had been reduced to the extremest poverty
and had become a hopeless trunk-root, from which no one could hope for
either fruit or leaves. And hence it is that the Scriptures term that
line of succession a "stem" or bare root as it were of Jesse, Is.
11:1, signifying thereby a decaying trunk from which nothing whatever
could be expected.

This hatred and this fury of Satan are the effects produced on him,
which the Lord here predicts, when he warns the serpent of the enmity
which he had put between his seed and the Seed of the woman. For Satan
primarily sought this Seed of the woman with hostile hatred, through
all the peoples, families and lines throughout the whole world. When
the promise was transferred to Abraham and restricted to his
posterity, we see from history by what various means Satan attempted
to hinder its fulfilment. And when this glorious promise was further
transferred to the line of Judah and restricted to that tribe, we
behold with what horrible calamities it was oppressed and agitated,
until at length it seemed to be wholly subverted and eradicated. So
that at the time of the birth of Christ poor Mary was living at a long
distance from Jerusalem in the little and insignificant town of
Nazareth, and Jerusalem itself was possessed and governed by wicked
heathen. Wherefore most correctly and beautifully was this tribe of
Judah compared to a dead and hopeless "stem" of Jesse. But as God
cannot lie, this "root," so much decayed and despaired of, at length
blossomed forth.

Satan however did not even then cease from his cruelty, hatred and
enmity against the Seed of the woman. While he lay in the cradle Satan
sought him out by the instrumentality of Herod. So that the new-born
Christ was compelled to live among the Gentiles in Egypt. After this
also, Satan adopted and tried all possible means to destroy him, until
finding him and seizing him, he threw him into the hands of the Jews
and nailed him to the cross. No! nor could his inexhaustible hatred be
satisfied even then. He feared him even as he lay in the tomb, so
desperate was the enmity which was "put" between him and the Son of
God! Nay, even now, when Satan sees the Seed of the woman sitting at
the right hand of God, and, according to the old proverb, "out of
gun-shot," he vents his fury in every possible way against his Church
and the poor helpless members of his body. Of all these sufferings and
perils the clauses of the divine passage now before us were
prophecies. From these same words nevertheless, in meditating upon
which we ought to employ our whole souls, we derive a confidence in
the Son of God, that he will bruise Satan utterly.

But to return to the text. This promise, as I have already said, is at
the same time most clear and yet most obscure. For since God, as I
have also observed, here uses the expression, "The seed of the woman"
generally, he does it that he might cause all women alike to be
suspected by Satan, and that he might thus rack the serpent with
perpetual suspense and dread. The expression therefore is a wonderful
_synecdoche_, "condensation of instruction." It bears a general
reference to all individual women, and yet contains a direct reference
to one individual woman only, to Mary and to her Seed, who was to
become a mother without any intercourse with the male sex. For God, I
repeat, thus willed all women to be suspected by Satan, while on the
other hand he willed that a most sure hope should be left to the
godly, which should lead them to expect this salvation from all
parents until in the fullness of time the true mother should be
revealed. As therefore the first clause of the passage, "I will put
enmity between thee and the woman," refers to all women in general; so
this second clause, "her Seed" refers, with a special individually, if
I may so express myself, to that seed which should be born of Mary, of
the tribe of Judah, who was espoused unto Joseph.

This text therefore contains that glorious promise which revived Adam
and Eve and raised them again from death unto that life, which they
had lost by their sin; though the life to which they were thus raised
again was rather a life hoped for than a life possessed; as Paul also
frequently speaks when he uses the language, "We die daily." For
although we do not wish to call the life which we live here death, yet
it is in truth nothing more or less than a continual living on to
death. For as he who is infected with a pestilential and fatal disease
begins to die from the moment of his infection; so from the moment
this life of ours is infected by sin, it can no longer properly be
called life on account of that sin and death, its sure punishment. For
we begin to die even from our mother's womb.

But by baptism we are restored to the life of hope, or rather to the
hope of life. For this is the true life, which we live, before God, in
our renewed state. Before we come unto that life, we are in the midst
of death. We are ever dying and rotting on the earth like other
carcasses are; as if there were no life at all in us. But we who
believe in Christ possess a hope that we shall be raised again at the
last day unto the life eternal. It was in this manner also that Adam
was raised again from his state of death by sin through this promise,
thus spoken by the Lord. Not that he was raised to a perfect life; for
he did not as yet regain that life which he had lost. But he conceived
in his soul a hope of that perfect life, when he heard that the
tyranny of Satan was thus to be bruised and destroyed.

Under the divine mind and promise, declared in this text therefore, is
included redemption from the law, from sin and from death. And by the
same text is set forth the plain and certain hope of resurrection from
the dead, and of being called into another life after the present. For
if the "head" of the serpent is to be destroyed, most certainly death
is to be destroyed also; and if death is to be destroyed, with equal
certainty that which deserveth death, namely, sin, is also to be
abolished. And if sin is to be abolished, so also is the law; and not
only so, but that obedience which was lost is to be restored. And as
all these things are promised through this Seed of the woman, it is
perfectly manifest, as a natural consequence, that human nature since
the fall can neither take away sin by any powers of its own nor escape
death, the just punishment of sin, nor regain the obedience to God,
which it has lost by the sin of the fall. For all these things require
a greater power, a mightier strength than is possessed by man.

Hence it was absolutely necessary that the Son of God should become a
victim or sacrifice for us, that by the offering of himself he might
accomplish all these things for us; that he might take away sin,
swallow up death and restore unto us the obedience which we had lost.
All these treasures therefore we do possess in Christ, but in hope.
Thus Adam, and thus Eve, lived and conquered by this hope. And in the
same manner all believers live and conquer, by the same hope, and will
so live and conquer until the last day. Death is indeed a horrible and
invincible tyrant; but the divine power thus makes that, which is in
all things horrible, nothing; just as the same power of God made out
of that which was nothing all things. For only behold Adam and Eve.
They were filled with sins and with death. But as soon as they heard
the divine promise concerning the Seed of the woman, which should
bruise the serpent's "head," they were comforted by the same hope
which comforts us, that death shall be destroyed, and sin shall be
abolished, and that righteousness and life and peace shall be
restored. In this hope did our first parents live and die, and on
account of that hope they were truly holy and righteous.

In the same hope do we also live. And when we come to die, we hold
fast this hope of eternal life for Christ's sake, which hope the Word
always sets before us, while it commands us to trust in the merits of
Christ. But in vain do we expect to attain unto that perfection in
this life, that we should be altogether righteous, that we should love
God perfectly and that we should love our neighbor as ourselves. We do
indeed begin and make progress, but sin which is in our members ever
wars against us and is ever present; so that it ever mars or
altogether prevents this our obedience.

As therefore this life of ours, on account of the death within us and
before us, may truly be called a death; so righteousness is altogether
buried under our sins. It is in hope therefore alone that we hold fast
life and righteousness, as things altogether hidden from our sight,
but which will be revealed in their time. Meanwhile our life is a life
in the midst of death; and yet, in the midst of this death, we hold
fast the hope of life by the teaching, commanding and promising Spirit
of God. This consolation is blessedly set forth in, Ps. 68:2, "He that
is our God is the God of salvation; and unto God the Lord belong the
issues from death." For we ascribe to our God the great glory that he
not only helps us in this temporal life, as the devil sometimes stands
by his worshippers, as is manifest from numberless examples among the
heathen; but the glory which belongs to our God, is that "to the Lord
our God belong the issues from death;" that he delivers from death
those who are oppressed thereby on account of their sins and
translates them into eternal life, Col. 1:13. And our God does this as
Moses here teaches us by crushing the "head" of the serpent.

In this part of the divine history of Moses therefore we have Adam and
Eve restored, not indeed perfectly into that life which they had lost,
but into the hope of that life, by which hope they have escaped, not
indeed the first taste of that death, but the whole eternal substance
of it. That is, although their flesh was sentenced to suffer and was
compelled to suffer a temporal or momentary taste of death, yet, on
account of the promised Son of God, who should crush the head of the
devil, they hoped for a resurrection of the flesh and a life eternal
after the temporal death of the flesh, which hope we also have.

Next follows the other part of this divine speech, in which God first
threatens her temporal punishment to the woman and then to the man his
temporal punishment also.


I. V. 16. _Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy pain
and thy conception; in pain thou shalt bring forth children; and thy
desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee._

This is the punishment which was inflicted on the woman; but a
punishment full indeed of joy and gladness, because it varied not in
the least from the sentence just before pronounced on Satan. For
seeing that the glorious promise still remained that the head of the
serpent should be crushed, there was a sure hope of a resurrection
from death. And whatever is imposed on man as the punishment of his
sin is possible to be borne, because this hope remains to him firm and
sure. And this is the reason the Holy Scriptures are so very careful
not to say anything in the punishment of the woman, which should be
contrary to or at all militate against the sentence just before
pronounced against the serpent. God did indeed impose a punishment on
the woman, but he still left her the hope of a resurrection and of a
life eternal. The death which she had deserved by her sin God
transferred on the other and less honorable part of man, namely, on
the flesh; that the spirit might live, because of righteousness
through faith as the apostle says, Rom. 8:10, "The body is dead
because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness."

The woman therefore is subject to death as to the flesh, but as to the
hope set before her she is free from death. For that divine word, by
which God threatens the devil with the "Bruising of his head," remains
ever sure to her. The animal life therefore hath, as here declared,
its cross and its death; as Paul also said, "The natural body dies,
but is raised a spiritual body," 1 Cor. 15:44. So also in this natural
or animal life there remains marriage, and the woman experiences those
punishments on account of her sin, which the Lord here inflicts upon
her; that from the time of her conception and at the time of giving
birth and rearing children, she endures various pains and perils all
that part of her life which she lives in a child-bearing state. All
these evils and sorrows however pertain to the animal life or to the
flesh itself only. But there remains to her all the while the hope
here given her of a spiritual and eternal life after this present

This punishment of the woman therefore, if we truly and rightly
consider the whole matter, is in its holy reality a glad and joyful
punishment. For although the righteous burdens imposed are painful to
the flesh to bear, yet by means of these very burdens and punishment,
her hope of a better and eternal life is actually strengthened. For
Eve on the present critical occasion hears in the first place that she
was not cast off of God for her sin. And in the next place she is not
by her punishment deprived of that blessing of generation and
fruitfulness which was promised to her and freely given to her of God
before her sin. She sees that she still retains her sex; that she is
still a woman! She sees that she is not separated from her Adam, to
remain and live alone, separated from her husband. She sees that the
glory of maternity is still left her; she may still be a mother! And
all these blessings of this present natural life are left to her, in
addition to that promised hope of life eternal. This multitude of
mercies, which was still reserved for her, no doubt wonderfully
revived and gladdened the mind of Eve. Nay, a greater and more real
glory still awaited her; she not only retained the blessing of
fruitfulness and of continuing in marriage union with her husband, but
she possessed also the sure promise that from her should come that
Seed which should "bruise the head" of Satan.

Eve therefore, without doubt, in this her most sad experience, for sad
it must have appeared to her, had yet her bosom filled with joy. And
it is very likely that she consoled her Adam with words like these: "I
have sinned. But only see how merciful a God we have! What large
blessings, both temporal and spiritual, has he still left to us
sinners. Wherefore, we women will cheerfully bear this labor and this
sorrow of conceiving and bringing forth children, and of obeying you,
our husbands. This is indeed fatherly anger! for we have still
remaining also the promise that the 'head' of our enemy shall be
'crushed;' and promise that we shall be raised again unto another life
after the death of our flesh through our Redeemer. The greatness of
all these blessings and this infinite multitude of benefits far
surpass whatever of curse or punishment our Father has been pleased to
lay upon us." These and like conversations Adam and Eve, no doubt,
often held together to alleviate their temporal sorrows.

In this same manner also, ought we to contemplate the unspeakable
treasures we possess in our hope of the life to come and by such
meditations ought we to lessen the troubles of the flesh. This is what
we find the Apostle Paul doing, 2 Cor. 4:17, 18, "For our light
affliction, which is for the moment, worketh for us more and more
exceedingly an eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the
things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the
things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen
are eternal."

Now tell me if all the temporal afflictions which may be laid on them,
will not be borne resignedly and patiently by those persons who are
enabled to lay hold of the hope of future glory and to believe in God,
here promising the "crushing of the serpent's head," and who can
moreover look upon those temporal blessings which remain to us; that
our Lord hath given us this whole world to enjoy, and that he has
given us wives, homes and children, and has preserved all things to us
and increases them by his blessing? And will they not say, "That is
not the anger of a judge nor a tyrant, but of a father!" On the other
hand however, they will behold the anger of the judge falling upon the
serpent. In his case there is not only no deliverance promised, but a
certain "crushing of his head" foretold. And this anger of the judge
Satan felt at the time, and he feels it still. And it is on this very
account that he rages with such great and unceasing fury against the
Church and the Son of God, until the last day shall come.

The divine threatening therefore in this passage where the Lord
threatens Eve with the sure punishments of her sin, was indeed a heavy
threatening. But out of the midst of those very punishments there
beamed forth unspeakable mercy. And this mercy so revived and
strengthened Eve that she rejoiced with a heart full of gladness, even
in the midst of her sorrows. And as to ourselves we feel how necessary
these punishments are to crucify and keep under the flesh. For how
could we be humbled if our nature were not pressed down to the earth
with burdens like these? Eve therefore experienced and every woman of
her station and duty must experience these sure calamities. These
sorrows must be multiplied unto all women. They must both conceive in
sorrow and bring forth in sorrow.

It is moreover worthy of observation, that the Hebrew expression here
used is RAB, which signifies both a continuous and distinct quantity;
conveying to us the thought that these great and many and various
sorrows, thus righteously inflicted on Eve, were such as she would not
have had to endure, if she had not fallen by sin; and the expression
also implies the sorrows and punishments inflicted particularly on
conception and childbirth. This same expression signifies by its
implied meaning the whole of that time, "conception," during which the
child is borne in the womb, which time is afflicted with great and
various weaknesses, pains and diseases. The head, the stomach, the
general health and the appetites are variously and greatly affected.
And after the child is matured and the birth is at hand, the greatest
sorrow of all is endured; and the child is not born without great
peril even of life.

When the heathen and those who have no knowledge of God or of his
works see these things, they take such offence at them that they form
the conclusion that, on account of these various troubles, it is not
becoming a wise man to marry at all. And true it is that the female
sex is far more deeply humbled and afflicted, and bears a punishment
far more heavy and severe than men. For what sufferings of the body,
equal to those we just described, does man endure? But by marriage the
husband does take upon himself as it were a part of these punishments
of original sin; for the husband cannot see his wife endure all this
pain and sorrow without much distress in himself. So that many wicked
men prefer living a life of profligacy to a life of marriage.

Against such wicked sentiments as these the godly will arm and console
themselves; and by true wisdom will set against these evils the
certain and far greater blessings which attend the married life. Hence
the ancient heathen poet Pindar, in his Ode to Hiero, King of
Syracuse, condemns this perverseness in ignorant men. Though God, says
he, is ever wont so to dispense his benefits as to leave some evil
intermingled with them, yet none but the wise and good can carry
themselves aright under them. For they adorn their prosperity; and
under its bright colors they hide the adversity which they endure,
setting their prosperity ever foremost to be seen of men:

  "To one good thing, two evil things,
   The gods appoint. Fools
   Know not how to adorn their ills.
   But wise men do: making the
   Worst, to wear the best appearance."

               PIND. _Pyth. Ode_ iii. 145-150.

And this is what the godly ought ever to do in this their solemn case.
The punishments, to which women are subject on account of the sin of
the fall, are indeed great. But is there not in marriage a blessing
which infinitely surpasses all the punishments of original sin with
which it is afflicted? Have not those who are married in the midst of
their great troubles that sure hope of immortality and eternal life
which comes to them through the Seed of the woman!

Nay, the troubles and trials themselves of marriage are not without
their benefit. They all tend to break down and humble our nature,
which cannot be humbled without the cross.

And in the third place there is left to be enjoyed in these great
bodily afflictions the peculiar glory of motherhood: that high
blessing of the womb! This was a blessing which even the wise among
the heathen so greatly admired and so loudly lauded. And other good
gifts of marriage also remain to us and are enjoyed by us. We are
borne in the womb of our mothers, we suck their breasts, we are
nursed, we are nourished, and by the devoted attention and care of our
mothers we are preserved in infancy and childhood. To view the great
and solemn matter of marriage thus, is "to set our blessings in their
fairest light." This is not to look at our evils only, but to delight
ourselves in the benefits and the great blessing of God in his holy
ordinance of marriage; and under those benefits and that blessing, to
sink out of sight the various punishments, corruptions, pains and
afflictions by which it is compassed.

But the godly alone understand these things and do them. They alone
view marriage aright. They alone give honor unto women, as unto the
weaker vessel; because they see them to be their companions of
immortality as well as of mortality, and as being heirs together with
them of the inheritance in heaven. The godly moreover behold them
highly honored of the Lord by the blessing and the glory of
motherhood. By them we are conceived, from them we are born, by them
we are nursed in infancy.

And for myself I have often contemplated with wonder and delight the
peculiar adaptation of the female body for nursing infants. How aptly,
becomingly and gracefully, do even little girls carry infants in their
bosom? And with what appropriate gestures do mothers dandle their
infants, especially when the crying babe is to be pacified or quieted
so as to be laid in the cradle? Only tell a man to do these same
things and he will set about it as an elephant would attempt to dance;
so awkward are his motions, if he has only to touch a babe with his
finger, to say nothing about all those other offices and attentions
which a mother only can perform. Whoever therefore rightly views and
estimates the sacred matter of marriage will receive all these offices
and services of the woman as signs and proofs of the blessing of the
Lord, by which God testifies that the female sex, though thus severely
punished on account of their original sin, are very dear to him and
his peculiar care. Wherefore let these meditations suffice concerning
the first part of the divine curse on the original sin of Eve.

The other part of the curse lies in the particulars of the marriage
union. If Eve had not sinned, her childbirth would not only have been
without any pain, but even her union with her husband would have been
most pure and utterly free from all shame. There would have been no
more shame attached to those connubial circumstances than there is in
a man's taking his meal with his wife and conversing with her at the
dinner-table. The bringing up of children also would have been most
easy and full of pleasure. But all these blessings were lost by the
sin of the fall, and in their place are endured by the woman all those
too well-known evils of pain and labor in carrying the child, bringing
it forth and bringing it up. Wherefore just as a graceful maiden
weaves a beautiful chaplet from the flowers of the garden and bears it
on her head, not only without any molestation but with the greatest
pleasure and the greatest pride; so, if Eve had not sinned, she would
have borne her child in her womb not only free from distress or
inconvenience, but with the utmost pleasure and pride. Whereas now, in
addition to all those pains of bearing the child and giving it birth,
she has rendered herself subject to the power of her husband; while
before she was wholly free and in no sense inferior to the man, and
was an equal partaker of all the endowments bestowed by God on him.

This then is the punishment of the woman, which righteously fell upon
her as the consequence of original sin, which she bears quite as
unwillingly as she does those pains and troubles, righteously imposed
on her flesh in child-bearing. Wherefore the rule and government of
all things remain in the power of the husband whom the wife according
to the command of God is bound to obey. The husband rules the house,
governs the state politic, conducts wars, defends his own property,
cultivates the earth, builds, plants, etc. The woman on the other hand
as a nail driven into the wall sits at home. Hence it is that the
Apostle Paul calls women OIKOUROUS, "keepers at home," Titus 2:5. For
this same reason the ancients represented Venus sitting on a shell;
because as the shell-fish always carries its shell with it, so the
woman ought always to be constantly at home attending to her domestic
affairs; as one deprived of the right of governing outside of her
house and in public, and as one whose duty is never to go beyond her
own most private and domestic concerns in the matter of government.

Had Eve therefore stood in the truth she would not only have been free
from all subjection to the rule of the man, but she herself also would
have been an equal partaker of government, which now belongs to men
alone. Women however are generally impatient of this burden and by
nature aim at the assumption of that, which by their sin they have
lost; and when they can do nothing more they at least show their
unwillingness to bear the yoke by a murmur of discontent. Whereas they
are not competent to undertake the management of men's affairs, of
teaching, ruling, etc. Of bearing children, and of feeding, nursing
and bringing up their offspring they are capable. In this manner
therefore was Eve punished; and all womankind endure the same curse.
But, as I have before said, this very punishment is a joyful one, if
you look at the hope of eternal life which springs from her Seed, out
of the midst of her child-bearing pains; and if you consider also the
glory of maternity or motherhood left to her.

II. V. 17. _And unto Adam he said, "Because thou hast hearkened unto
the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I
commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground
for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy

The husband was last in the transgression, 1 Tim. 2:14, and therefore
the punishment is inflicted on him last. But the Lord threatens no
punishment to the man here in generation. God makes no mention of the
pains of generation in his case. Therefore the punishment of the
husband lies in the fury of lust, inflamed by the poison of Satan
throughout his whole body, but without the pains of the woman. His
duties as husband however are laden with punishment. For, as it
belongs to the man to feed, to rule, to guide and to educate his
family, those duties cannot be performed by him without great trouble
and distress nor without the hardest labors. The duty laid of God upon
the woman is to obey her husband; but with what difficulty is this
very performance of her duty obtained! I say nothing about the rule of
the man over others, who are not of his immediate family and

Hence it was that the philosophers of old were led to wonder from what
cause in nature it could possibly arise that men could govern any wild
beast more easily than rule their fellowmen. This is the ground of
Xenophon's complaint, when he says, "It is easier to manage any other
animal than to rule man." The duties of a husband indeed are great and
noble, which are to cultivate the earth and to perform any other work
by which his wife and children may be supported to rule his house and
family; to govern states and kingdoms; and to teach and instruct those
of his own house and others also unto godliness and moral duties. All
these noble duties however are always attended with their punishment
of original sin. They cannot be performed without the greatest
distress, of which we have examples before our eyes daily.

First of all on account of the sin of Adam himself the earth is
cursed. For the expression the Latin translation renders "in thy
work," _in opere tuo_, is in the original Hebrew BAABURECHA, "for thy
sake," _propter te_. The Latin interpreter was deceived by the
similarity of the letters. He read the Hebrew as being BAABUDECHA. For
ABAD signifies "to cultivate the earth" or "to till the ground."

From this it appears how awful the calamity of sin is, seeing that
even the earth, which is innocent in itself and committed no sin, is
nevertheless compelled to bear sin's curse; and as the Apostle Paul
expresses it, Rom. 8:20, 21, is "made subject to vanity," from which
however it shall be delivered in the last day and for which also it
waits in earnest expectation, verse 19. For Pliny calls the earth "a
kind, gentle and indulgent mother and also a perpetual handmaid of
service to mankind." And yet as the Apostle Paul here shows, this kind
earth herself is compelled to bear her curse also. In the first place,
because she does not bear those good things for man and beast which
she would have borne had man not fallen; and in the next place,
because she does bear many hurtful things, which but for man's sin she
would not have borne, such as the destructive weeds, darnel, tares,
nettles, thorns, thistles, etc., to which may be added, poison,
noxious reptiles and other like hurtful things, brought into the
creation by sin.

For my own part I entertain no doubt that before the sin of the fall
the air was more pure and healthful, the water more wholesome and
fructifying, and the light of the sun more bright and beautiful. So
that the whole creation as it now is reminds us in every part of the
curse inflicted on it, on account of the sin of the fall. Yet some
remnants of the original blessing of God still rest upon it; in that
being compelled as it were to do so by the hard labor of man, it still
continues to produce things necessary for our use, although those very
things are impeded and deformed by briers and thorns; that is, by
useless and noxious trees, bushes and weeds, which the divine anger
ceases not to sow among them.

This original curse moreover was afterwards greatly increased by the
Deluge, when all the good trees were rooted up and destroyed, barren
sands accumulated and both noxious herbs and beasts multiplied. In
those very places where Adam before his sin used to walk among the
most fruitful trees, over most fertile meadows and in the midst of
roses and flowers of every kind, there nettles and briers, and other
annoying plants abound; and in such quantities that the good and
useful plants are well nigh choked by them. Only look at the field now
just prepared by the plow for receiving the seed; no sooner is that
seed sown than immediately there spring up the destructive darnel and
the tares, which grow even faster than the fruits which are for the
use and nourishment of life. And if the former were not plucked up by
the constant care and toil of the husbandman, they would daily grow to
such an extent that these very destructive weeds of the curse would
choke the good seed altogether. The earth herself indeed is innocent
and would of its own free nature bring forth all things which are the
best and most excellent. But she is prevented from doing so by the
curse inflicted on man for his sin.

As therefore woman endures the punishment of sin in her body, a
punishment she is mercifully enabled to bear, with which she is
afflicted in the bringing forth of children; so the husband has to
endure his punishment in the government of his household; while, with
all kinds of difficulty, labor and distress, he rules his house and
provides for his family. And justly so; for it was on his own account
that the field was cursed. Whereas before he sinned no part of the
earth was either barren or corrupt, but all places in it were
marvelously fertile and productive; but now, on the contrary, not only
is it in many parts entirely barren, but even those parts, which are
otherwise fruitful, are deformed and defiled with tares, weeds, briers
and thorns. And this calamity is indeed great, and might well drive
Adam himself and us all to choose strangling rather than life. But the
whole mighty evil is rendered endurable by the promise of the woman's
"Seed," by which the punishment of eternal death, which is infinitely
greater than all this punishment of life, is wholly taken out of the

That which next follows, "In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days
of thy life," are words quite easy to understand. For who knows not
how laborious the life of an husbandman is. It is not enough that he
prepare the ground for receiving the seed, which is attended with
great and various labor; but even when the corn is yet in the blade,
each single day almost demands of him its necessary labor and toil;
not to mention those almost infinite hindrances of weather, noxious
vermin, etc., all which greatly augment his pain, labor and suffering.
Whereas before the sin of the fall, not only were there no such evils
and hindrances in existence, but the earth, had Adam not sinned, would
have brought forth all things quicker than the hope or expectation of
man, as it were, "unsown and unplowed."

Moreover this calamity, which sin brought into the creation, was in
many respects lighter and more tolerable in their state before the
Flood than in the condition of the world which followed. In the
antediluvian state of the curse no other mention is made than of
thorns, and thistles, and labor, and sweat; but now we experience
numberless other additional evils. How many diseases and pestilential
injuries are inflicted on the standing corn, on the plants of pulse,
on trees, and finally on all the productions of the earth? How many
evils are wrought by destructive birds and noxious caterpillars? Add
to these evils, extremes of cold and frost, thunderings, lightnings,
excessive wet, winds, rivers bursting their banks, fissures of the
earth, earthquakes, etc. Of none of these is any mention made in the
state of things under the curse before the Deluge. My firm belief is
therefore that as the sins of men increased the punishments of those
sins increased also; and that all such punishments and evils were
added to the original curse of the earth.

If however any one should think that Moses embraced all these latter
evils, in his expression of the divine curse, "Cursed is the ground
for thy sake," I certainly will not contend with him. But no one
surely can deny that all these evils and punishments increased as the
sins of men increased. In the same manner, as in the present day, we
experience more frequent calamities befalling the fruits of the earth
than in former times. For the world degenerates and grows worse and
worse every day. Most plainly therefore may we here trace the
evidences that all these increased calamities were inflicted on Adam
as an instruction to him in the first age of the world that an
increasedly severe discipline was necessary. But by degrees this
discipline, down to the times of Noah, gradually became loosened and
men began to live more dissolutely and wickedly, until at length the
earth was filled with violence, injustice and tyranny. And then it was
necessary that either heavier or more frequent punishments should be
inflicted; just as severer diseases require severer remedies.

When therefore in the time of Noah the whole earth had been deluged by
the Flood and every living creature except a few souls, had been
utterly destroyed, the age which immediately succeeded that of Noah
lived without doubt in the fear of God. But as years rolled on even
these men became depraved, being corrupted by Satan. So that an
example more terrible in its nature still was necessary to be made; as
is shown in the awful destruction of Sodom and its neighboring cities,
Gen. 19:24. Hence it is that the Scripture says that it was necessary
that the Amorites should "fill up the measure of their iniquities,"
Gen. 15:16.

So also the whole synagogue of the Jews, when it had fallen away into
heathenism and open ungodliness, was utterly destroyed. In like manner
also Rome herself, as long as her ancient discipline stood sound and
unrelaxed, mightily increased her power on every side; but when the
storms of vice pressed hard upon her it became necessary that her
punishments also should draw upon her more closely.

About the time when the Gospel began to be known among us in Germany
the age became somewhat moral and tolerable. But now, when the fear of
God can scarcely be found, and when vices of every description
increase daily, false prophets rising among us, what else can be
expected than that, when we have filled up the measure of our
iniquities, either the consummation of all things will overtake us or
that Germany will suffer the due punishment of her sins; so
universally true is it that when sins increase, the punishments of
them increase also.

According to that which I have said concerning the calamities which
rest upon all the productions of the earth; so my full belief also is
that even the bodies of men, in the primæval ages of the world, were
far more healthful than they are now. This is proved by that
longevity, so incredible to us, which was enjoyed by the men of the
primitive ages of the world before the Flood. Accordingly we do not
find the Lord pronounced in the present passage any threats on Adam
concerning apoplexy, or leprosy, or the scrofula, or any other of the
destructive diseases.

When I was a child the small-pox was unknown in Germany. It was first
known among us when I was about fifteen years of age. Now however even
infants in the cradle are attacked by it. When this disease first made
its appearance it filled every one with dread. But now there is so
little concern about it that friends often say to each other in a
pleasant joke, "The smallpox take you!" So also, even unto this
present age, the sweating disease has been a prevalent malady, or as
medical men term it, an epidemic. For it is universally seen that as
each country of the earth has its peculiar blessings, the countries
are visited and afflicted with sure and corresponding calamities. But
the disease to which I have referred made its first general appearance
in those midland parts of Germany, which were the farthest distant
from the sea. And what is abhorrent to relate, some persons have
serpent-like worms in their bowels, and worms even in their brain.
These last diseases were utterly unknown, I think, to the physicians
of old, who nevertheless enumerate nearly four hundred different kinds
of disease. Now if all these various diseases had existed in the first
age of the world, how could Adam and his descendants, down to the
times of Noah, have lived to such extremely old ages? Wherefore Moses,
as I have said, here makes mention only of the barrenness of the earth
and of the difficulty of man's procuring his bread.

Indeed if any one wishes to assume the orator and to display the
copiousness and eloquence of his language, let him in opening the
contents of the passages before us, enumerate all the diseases and
evils of the human race, which are the consequences of sin. Were he to
commence that task, he would find a sea of calamities of every kind so
boundless, that filled with awe and dread, he would be inclined to beg
of God this one thing, that he might not be permitted to live even one
hour in the midst of so many and mighty perils!

But why do we dwell so long on these diseases only? All the creatures
of God together as one mighty army are against us, and all but armed
for our destruction. How many are there, whom the fire and the water
destroy? How much peril threatens men from ferocious and venomous
beasts and other noxious creatures? Nor do they infest our bodies
only, but our food of every kind, intended for our nourishment. Not to
mention that we ourselves also rush upon each other in hostile
slaughter and murder. Just as if there were not pestilences and
destructions enough besides, which threatened us on every hand.

And if you look at the general pursuits and objects of men, what is
this life of ours but a daily scene of contention, deception, snare,
rapine and murder? And all this in addition to those evils and
calamities which hang over our heads from the external things we have
mentioned. My belief is that all these things did not exist before the
Deluge; or, if they did exist, were not so numerous or so heavy and
severe as they now are found to be. But as the sins of men increased,
so as we have said their punishments have increased also. The
calamities inflicted on Adam therefore were light in comparison to
those inflicted on us. For the nearer the world approaches its end,
with the heavier punishments and calamities is it visited. To all this
evil is added that greater evil still, that the more the world is
stricken, the more it hardens its forehead and becomes stupefied as it
were and insensible of its punishment altogether, as it is written in
the Proverbs, "They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not
hurt; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I
will seek it yet again," Prov. 23:35. This blindness and obduracy
exceed all the above calamities of the body.

Is not our state then, I ask, marvelous and miserable? The traces of
the wrath of God, which our sin has deserved, are first of all bound
up as it were in our bodies; and next the same wrath of God is beheld
resting on the earth and on all creatures, and yet all these awful
evils are disregarded by us, and our minds are filled with security
and indolent unconcern. For what are the thorns, what the thistles,
what the water, what the fire, what the caterpillars, what the flies,
what the fleas, what the bugs, what the lice; what, I say, are all
these together and separately, but so many messengers which
continually preach to us of sin and of the wrath of God on its
account? For before sin entered into the world those living evils had
no existence; or if they were in existence, they harmed not nor

Wherefore to our full knowledge and sight we are in, and live in, more
than Egyptian darkness. For though all things around us remind us of
the wrath of God continually, and are all but so many pricks in our
eyes of admonition, we not only do not regard that wrath, but embrace
this life and enjoy it as our only delight. In the same proportion
therefore as sins are multiplied, and self-security increases, and men
grow callous and insensible under their punishments, so those
punishments themselves are multiplied, not only in this life but in
that which is to come. I am here speaking of the wicked in this world.
For if it were possible that men, when in hell, could possibly endure
their punishments and torments in sensation only, without the
consciousness at the same time that the punishments which they endured
were just, such ignorance would render their torments more easy to be
endured. Just in the same way as we on earth will not acknowledge our
punishments, and thus we harden ourselves as it were against grief.
But in hell that insensibility which now prevents us from seeing our
real misery will be wholly taken away, and all the doors of our senses
will be unlocked, so that we shall not only feel the pains of our
punishment in our body, but our mind itself will be filled with a
sense of the wrath of God and with the confession that we have
deserved the whole of that wrath by our wickedness. These are the
feelings that will sharpen, and in an inconceivable degree augment the
future torments of the wicked.

V. 18a. _"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee."_

Here we are again reminded that the earth of itself brought forth no
such thing; but only on account of the sin of Adam, as Moses had
before expressly said, "For thy sake." Wherefore as often as we see
thorns and thistles; as often as we behold tares and other noxious
weeds growing in our fields and in our garden, so often are we
reminded as by certain signs of sin and the wrath of God. Wherefore it
is not only in churches that we hear ourselves accused of sin; every
garden, every field and almost the whole creation is filled with such
preachers and such monitors of our sin and of the wrath of God, which
is brought down upon us on account of that sin.

Wherefore all prayer to the Lord is necessary that he would take away
from our eyes and from our hearts this marvelous insensibility; that
being thus perpetually reminded of our sin, we may at length put off
our self-security and walk in the fear of God. For by these various
evidences of the curse of God, we are continually met, cast down and
overwhelmed. This Moses will now still more extensively set before us.
He next says:

V. 18b. _And thou shalt eat the herb of the field._

This is a new calamity. For above God had given unto man the sweetest
and most delightful gifts; even that he should eat of all the trees of
paradise except two only. The Lord had also given him dominion over
all fishes and over all that the whole earth produced, whether of
fruits or of animals. But now all these blessings are taken from him,
on account of the eaten fruit and nothing is left him but the herb of
the field. And from this passage I believe it can be fully proved,
that Adam did not feed upon butter, or milk, or eggs, or cheese, or
flesh, or even on apples or pears, etc., but on pot herbs and the
seeds of certain herbs and plants only; such as peas, beans, millet,
rice, wheat, flour, etc. Where then were the splendor and luxury of
the banquet at which Adam feasted his friends, when he gave a daughter
in marriage, or when he himself was present at the marriage of any of
his sons; seeing that nothing was granted them of God, on which to
feed but "the herb of the field?"

Such then was the frugal fare of the primitive age of the world. It
consisted of the most common and simple food with water. Now however a
horrible luxury has overrun the whole present generation of men. They
are not satisfied with collecting together flesh of every kind for the
gratification of their appetites; but flesh of every kind is mixed
with fish of every kind; spices also of every kind are used in
addition. Nay, the dissatisfied perverseness of nature is indulged to
such an extent, that those things by nature sweet are rendered by
various condiments bitter; and those by nature bitter are by the same
means rendered sweet.

What varieties prevail in our drink also! Who would not consider
himself made a laughing-stock, if he should see his host set before
him water as his drink? Nor are we content with beer, which is brewed
at our own homes, nor with wines, made on our paternal estates. We
even fetch them from beyond the sea. If our first father Adam could
return on earth, think you not that he would laugh at, or rather
wonder at, this madness of appetite in his sons? Why, he would avoid
as poison those very things which we eat and drink with avidity and
delight; and he would prefer to all these our dainties even rapes or
turnips in their natural undressed state.

In this passage frugality of living is commended to us. For we are
here taught that our first parents, being thus righteously deprived of
all other kinds of food, had nothing left for food but the herb of the
field. These facts therefore ought to lead us not only to frugality,
but also to patience; whenever we see others abounding in delicacies
and dainties of every kind, while we ourselves have nothing but bread,
salt and water. For our thoughts ought to be these: this is the
punishment justly inflicted on Adam. When he might have enjoyed, by
the will, and command, and gift of God, the delicious fruits of every
kind which grew in paradise; he was compelled with all his posterity
to live on the common pot herbs, because of his disobedience.

V. 19a. _In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread._

With what variety of expression and repetition does Moses dwell on
this labor and trouble, when he is declaring the manner in which the
husband must labor and toil in feeding his family, defending his
property and governing his house! And all these toils and troubles are
far more difficult in our age on account of the perverseness of men,
than they were "in the beginning." For we universally witness, even
where the expectation of food is certain, with what difficulty a
family are kept to their duty. Nor was Adam himself without his
experience of this great evil. For even while he was ruling his family
with all possible holiness, he witnessed murder committed by his son
Cain. I say nothing now about all other sorrows which a long life
compels a man to see and bear in his posterity. This anxiety and toil
therefore await the husband. He must endure this labor, which is
neither pleasant nor successful. Nor ought any one to be found who
does not endure this sweat. Hence, much more perilous is the life of
the Papists; all of whom abuse their wealth, obtained by the labor of
others, to their own gratifications and indolence.

But here a question has been raised, whether all men ought not to be
husbandmen, or at least whether they ought not to devote themselves to
manual labor? Some did indeed thus foolishly contend at the beginning
of the Gospel among us. For they so abused this and other like
passages of Scripture, which command the labor of the hands, that the
youth throwing aside their literary studies gave themselves up to
manual employments; and Carlstadt, the leader of these misguided ones,
leaving his proper station in life, purchased a farm, and dug and
cultivated his own land. For myself indeed if I could with a good
conscience forsake my calling as a minister of the Word, it would be
far more easy and pleasant employment for me to be employed in
cultivating my garden, digging with my spade and breaking the clods
with my shovel, than to endure this hard labor, which I now undergo.
For the toil of country laborers bears no proportion whatever to this
our ministerial "sweat."

Wherefore their interpretation of this passage, who contend that
manual labor only is the sweat here spoken of, is to be altogether
rejected. The declaration of Christ is perfectly plain upon this point
who commands that those who teach in the Word should enjoy the labors
of others "And into whatsoever house ye shall enter, first say, Peace
be to this house. And in that same house remain, eating and drinking
such things as they give for the laborer is worthy of his hire," Luke
10:5, 7. Here the Lord takes bread from the table of those who hear
the Word of God, and gives it to the teachers of the Word. In the same
way also Paul speaks, when he says, "Even so hath the Lord ordained
that they which preach the Gospel should live of the Gospel," 1 Cor.
9:14. And it is in confirmation of this same mind of God, that the
apostle cites that word of the law, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth
of the ox that treadeth out the corn," verse 9. And indeed why is the
commandment concerning the payment of tithes given to the husbandmen,
who labors and cultivates his farm, if the ministers of the Word are
to procure their food by the labor of their own hands?

These and like passages of Scripture show that the "sweat of the face"
is the common curse on all men. The first "sweat" is, that of
husbandmen and householders; the second, the "sweat" of magistrates;
the third, of teachers in the Church. Of all these orders of men the
condition of husbandmen is the happiest. This the poet of old affirms:

  _Felices nimium sua si bona norint, Agricolae._
   Happy their lot; did they but know their good,
   Who cultivate the earth for all.--Virg. Georg. 2, 458.

For though they do "sweat" under great labor, yet that labor is
seasoned with a peculiar pleasure, while the new and marvelous faces
of all creatures directly meet their eyes daily. Whereas in the
political world and in the Church infinite troubles and molestations
present themselves, in addition to the daily perils which are
incurred, if a minister of Christ perform his duty faithfully. For we
speak not now concerning those indolent mortals, who know not nor
acknowledge these punishments of sin, but who are devoted only to the
consideration of the manner in which they can best satisfy their
lusts. Let such Epicureans be left to the indulgence of their own evil
appetites and inclinations. We are here speaking of those who do
perform seriously what they undertake to do, whether in the State or
in the Church. Such men labor and sweat more in one day than a
husbandman does in a whole month, if the magnitude and the various
perils of their works be considered. It is for this very reason also
that tributes and revenues, and other dues of the same description,
are paid unto kings and princes. And who does not see that this is but
a small return or reward after all to our rulers for the immense labor
they undergo, where they really do their duty faithfully. And even if
there be some who neglect their duty, this legitimate ordinance of God
is not on their account to be disregarded.

I have somewhere heard it said of the Roman Emperor, Maximilian
Augustus, that he was so overwhelmed with his public duties that he
never gave himself sufficient time for eating his meals. He was
therefore sometimes compelled to withdraw from his State labors, and
seclude himself in the woods to indulge in hunting. Sometimes also he
would change his raiment and mingle with private society so that he
might enjoy greater freedom in conversation. And though this
occupation of hunting was sometimes considered a vice in that Emperor,
yet those who really knew the extent of his labors and the reality of
his daily life considered that this amusement was adopted by him of
necessity and not for pleasure. What labors of the plow then, what
labors of the spade, what other toils of a rustic life, will you bring
into comparison with that "sweat" which the government of such a
mighty empire as that of Rome demanded? Wherefore the palaces of kings
and princes do indeed bear their names as such, while the kings and
princes themselves are the hardest worked of all servants. Hence monks
and the whole confederacy of the Pope are the only beings that really
live a royal life, because they leave all labors, all business affairs
and all the perils of them to others, while they themselves enjoy all
the comforts of life in perfect indolence.

These same observations apply equally to the pastoral charge in the
Church which charge is to be considered the heavier since the duties
are more important which a pastor has to perform. For are we to
suppose that Augustine lived at ease and gave himself up to his
pleasures only, surrounded as he was by so great a multitude of
adversaries, against whom he had daily to contend to prevent them from
wholly subverting as they would have done the doctrine of Christ? For
such were the Pelagians, the Donatists, the Manicheans and other like
disturbers of the churches. Likewise I in this day by the grace of God
so perform my duties as to leave no one, I believe, to envy such a
laborious life of ease as I daily pass. It is the height of folly that
fanatics urge on all persons the necessity of manual labors, which
nevertheless are useful for the health of the body. Whereas on the
contrary, those great labors of the State and Church, which we have
just described, wear out the body and exhaust as it were all the
moisture of the very bones and their inmost marrow.

Let us therefore duly and rightly distinguish this "sweat" as it ought
to be distinguished. The household "sweat" is great, the civil or
political "sweat" greater still, but the Church "sweat" is the
greatest of all. Only look at the Apostle Paul and you will at once
see the greatness of his sweat. For seeing that the Church is in all
ages infested with devils and harassed by heresies, scandals and great
sins, by the unrighteous violence of tyrants and by evils of every
description; will any man say that there are no labors and no sweats
in the Church? Will any one affirm that those who rule in the Church
are not well deserving the provision which they receive?

We may say this of the Pope and the Cardinals, and of all that
congregation of the wicked who do no work at all, consult only their
belly and their ease, spending the greatest wealth. These are they of
whom we may rightly say with Paul, "If any one will not work, neither
shall he eat," 2 Thess. 3:10. Now the work of the Church is to teach
the Word, to administer the Sacraments, to war with fanatics, to
remove scandals out of the way, to build up the godly in the faith,
etc. Of those who really do this Christ says, "The laborer is worthy
of his hire," Luke 10:7.

Now the condition of Adam, the first sinner, was if rightly considered
worse than ours. For while we all sweat separately, each one in his
own order and station, Adam was compelled to endure at one and the
same time the sweat of the household rule, the sweat of the political
rule and the sweat of the Church rule. He alone performed all these
duties to his family and posterity as long as he lived. He provided
for his family and ruled it. He trained them in piety and was at the
same time their father, their king and their priest. And how full of
pain and peril each one of these duties is, universal experience

Wherefore we need great consolation to support us against all these
evils, and we should exercise our minds in much patience, seeing that
we find these calamities to be laid even on the elect also, who
possess the hope of a resurrection and of eternal life. As therefore
this hope is thus left to us afflicted men, it becomes us to be of a
courageous mind and to overcome our evils by means of this hope,
because we are not destined to live here forever. Just as men, who
when traveling happen to find a miserable lodging and a covetous host,
console themselves with the thought that though their food be bad and
their bed hard, their misery will last for one night only. Such ought
our thoughts to be in the midst of our calamities on account of the
sin of the fall. For what are our two or three years of life, almost
the half of which we pass in insensible sleep, when compared with

Let afflictions and adversities come therefore as the Lord shall be
pleased to appoint them to each of us, whether they be the sweat of
the home rule, of the state rule, or of the Church rule; we will not
suffer ourselves to be moved by them to impatience. We will not cast
aside our home duty, or our state duty, or our Church duty. Such
woman-like weakness as this becometh not brave soldiers. It is
unworthy them to throw away their arms, and to flee at the first
onset. And what of pleasures and of ease? We are not appointed unto
them, but unto labor and active life. Hence the poet of old says:

  _Tu ne cede malis; sed contra audentior ito._
   Yield not to ills; but bolder grow, as these
   Are seen t' increase.--Virg. Aen. 6, 96.

And this shall we be able to do, if we set against these temporal
afflictions the hope of a resurrection and of eternal life. As
therefore no one would willingly lose this hope, so let all men
consider that they are bound not to forsake that calling and station
of life where they have been placed by God. Let him who is called to
teach the churches, do it with a magnanimous spirit, moved neither by
his own perils nor by the lazy life of popes, who, when they ought to
be preaching the Gospel, ruling the churches, hearing sacred causes
and judging controversies concerning doctrine and helping the churches
that have need of help, cast off all these highest duties and leave
them to the useless monks, while they themselves are occupied in
accumulating monies and making provision for fulfiling their lusts,
Rom. 13:14. As these therefore escape the sweat, they shall not have
the cooling refreshment. As they will not suffer with Christ, they
shall not reign with him, Rom. 8:17.

On the other hand let all of us who endure this sweat, each one in his
station, always think that, although we may have a bitter burden to
bear, these afflictions will have their certain end. Hence Moses now
adds the following consolation under any affliction however hard:

V. 19b. _Till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou
taken; for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return._

With respect to wicked men they endure an infinite number of
calamities with the hope of enjoying a little morsel of pleasure. What
perils by land and by sea does the merchant experience with the hope
of gain? For what a small hire does the soldier sell his life. The
harlot in the brothel is compelled to endure a thousand-fold greater
evils than any wife in the honest home. Hence the Germans call them by
a striking proverb, "the devil's martyrs;" because they of their own
accord cast themselves into the greatest calamities, which they might
never have experienced, if they had been willing to live a godly life.
And again, what a host of evils do men, given to wine and to gluttony,
bring upon themselves by their excesses, from all of which they might
have lived free had they eaten and drunk more moderately.

Wherefore, well may men be lost in considering what remedy can
possibly be found for the human race. Since they are so hardened by
Satan that they not only do not feel their evils, but studiously
follow after them and pursue them with all eagerness. For if they
really did feel the evils of their ways would they not forsake them?
But the fact is that such insensibility benumbs the minds of men, so
that you may see them glorying in their very evils themselves. As,
therefore, such wicked perverseness is found in the greatest part of
mankind, that for the sake of a light and foolish pleasure they will
involve themselves in sure calamities, it is wonderful that the godly
do not consider these things for their good, and say within
themselves, Although I must live in the midst of all these various
evils, yet they must all soon end and be recompensed by another and a
better life.

And this is the consolation which this sacred sentence is intended to
afford. For it gives a promise that all these calamities shall have an
end, and that, too, by the bruising and crushing of the "serpent's
head," _Till_, says Moses, _thou return unto the ground_, ELHAADAMA.
For this original word signifies the ground or earth in general. But
the Hebrew word APHAR signifies, properly, recently dug or ploughed
earth, or a lump of newly turned up earth. Our translation renders
this original word by "dust;" that it may signify loosened or crumbled
earth. For Adam was made a living man out of a clod or lump of the
earth. When therefore the bonds of this clod shall be loosened, it
shall return, the Lord says, to its former mould or dust.

And here again we are reminded of the manner in which, as the sins of
the world increased, their punishments increased also. The original
usage of committing the bodies of the dead to the earth to be
dissolved again to dust was certainly a milder and human-like custom;
but afterwards it became the practice of almost all nations to burn
the bodies of their dead. How often also does it happen that human
beings are devoured alive by wild beasts, and have the bellies of
those beasts for their tombs? Hence we find enumerated among the four
punishments declared by the prophet, "the teeth of wild beasts," Jer.
15:3, and also by Moses himself the poison of serpents and other
venomous animals, Deut. 32:24. For so it is ever that the more
insensible we are to the divine punishment of our sins, the heavier
the punishments God lays upon us, to break us down and to beat in
pieces our obduracy; as it is written in the Book of Leviticus, "And
if ye will not yet for these things hearken unto me, then I will
chastise you seven times more for your sins. And I will break the
pride of your power," Levit. 26:18, 19.

Thus the fall of Adam was a fall from life into death, and from
soundness of body into diseases of every kind. Still the age of Adam
was truly a golden age, if compared with ours. But all things
degenerated by degrees, and that the great image of Daniel also
plainly shows, Dan. 2:31, 35. For the nearer the world approaches its
end the worse men become, and this is the reason heavier punishments
are inflicted on us than on those who have lived before us. What a
pertinacious war against the truth is carried on at this day by the
Papists! What cruelty do they exercise against those who confess the
truth! I mention not now their well nigh Satanic covetousness, perfidy
and acts of violence without end. Can the punishments of such then be
very far off?

Thus far Moses has been recording the punishments inflicted on Adam
and his posterity on account of the sin of the fall. And though these
punishments are great, yet they were milder "in the beginning" than
they are now. Because those sins which were then of the positive, if I
may so speak, are now increased to the superlative degree.

But before we proceed with the remaining contents of this chapter, let
us pursue a little further our discussion of that passage, on which we
have briefly dwelt in its place before, where it is said to the woman,
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception or thy
impregnation," verse 16, above. For the original word there found is
HERONECHAD, which interpreters generally explain as descriptive of all
those troubles and straits of mind and body which women endure from
the time of conception to childbirth.

A question is here raised by some whether, as the wife is impregnated
and gives birth to a child only once in a year, that one impregnation
and parturition is itself a punishment? And it is also inquired, why
if such be a punishment God here says, "I will greatly multiply thy
sorrow and thy conception?" With respect to the latter, I believe the
original word to be rightly translated, "I will greatly multiply thy
conception," that is, thy pains and sorrows consequent upon that
conception. So that it is a punishment that a woman should conceive
only once in the year, and yet that one conception in the year should
be laden with such numberless pains and sorrows. For if man had
continued in his innocence, no doubt the fruitfulness of women would
have been altogether greater. We do now find certain instances where
often two, sometimes three, and occasionally four, children are
brought forth at a birth.

There are universal laws of this fecundity in the brute creation. The
fruitfulness of birds and of fishes is very great. Dogs, cats and sows
produce a great number at a parturition. The larger beasts however
produce their offspring only once in a year generally. My full belief
is however that women, had there been no sin, would have been
productive of a far more numerous offspring. Whereas now for the most
part the most fruitful of them give birth to no more than one child in
the year, to which diminished fruitfulness there is also added that
unclean lust of fallen nature. All these things alike impress our
minds with the magnitude of sin.

But here again we find brought forward the Jewish cavil concerning the
serpent. They say if by the seed of the woman is to be understood here
her natural seed, which is born from her womb, as we have interpreted
the important passage, it would seem to be a natural consequence that
the seed of the serpent mentioned in this same passage should also be
that seed which proceeds from the belly of the serpent. Otherwise,
they say that opposition which Moses sets forth cannot consist when he
says, "I will put enmity between thy seed and her seed," verse 15.

Out of this cavil many consequences will follow. In the first place it
will follow that God is here speaking with the natural serpent only
and determining his punishment; and in the next place it will
inevitably follow that Christ has nothing at all to do with this
passage, nor this passage with him; and it will equally follow that
this text furnishes no proof whatever concerning Christ! Wherefore
this cavilling objection of the Jews has the appearance of containing
something in it; but in fact it contains nothing at all.

First, then, my reply to this cavil is "He that is ignorant, let him
be ignorant still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still,"
Rev. 22:11. For he that will not believe the openly revealed and
manifest Gospel is worthy of being left in ignorance of these more
hidden passages of the Scripture and in disbelief of them altogether.
Neither is our present object to confirm or illustrate the Gospel by
the passage now in question, but to hold up the brighter light of the
Gospel before it in order to illuminate its obscurities. And if any
will not believe the shining light of the Gospel, what marvel is it if
they are left to disbelieve these more obscure words of the prophets
and to produce their new and absurd opinions in opposition to them?
The promise of the Gospel is revealed from heaven; and moreover it is
preserved in safety amidst the greatest tyrants and the most horrible
punishments of our sins from God. If the Jews pertinaciously fight
against this promise and will not believe it, they must be left alone.
We meanwhile will deal with those who believe, and who submit to the

Christ says, John 8:44, that Satan is the "father of lies, and a
murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth." This is that
light of the Gospel by which the dark places of the Old Testament are
illumined. Now if Satan was "a murderer from the beginning" tell me,
whom or what persons did he murder? Were they not Adam and Eve, whom
he murdered by sin? Where did he murder them? Was it not in paradise?
When did he murder them? Was it not when he made nothing of the
commandment of God and promised Adam and Eve that they would be like
gods if they would eat of the forbidden tree? Both propositions
therefore are true. The natural serpent was in paradise; and by the
natural serpent, the old serpent, the devil, deceived man and murdered

The principal meaning of this passage therefore is to cause us to
understand that the devil was the author of all this calamity; just as
when any one commits murder, it may rightly be said of the sword of
the murdered, "This sword killed the man." Whereas in truth, it was
not the sword alone nor of itself that killed the man, but the
murderer who used the sword. Indeed it is quite a common use of the
figure synecdoche, the conveyance of two ideas by one expression, to
understand the author of the act under the mention of the instrument
made use of. Wherefore we explode this Jewish cavil utterly.

Secondly, it is also true that contraries are not necessarily
consistent contrarieties in every respect. For the form of
contrarieties is multiplex, as logicians teach. Some things are
opposed to others relatively, others privatively, and others by
contradiction. Thus the natural father by whom we are begotten and the
father of lies are opposed to each other. Although we should grant the
Jews their interpretation of this passage that Moses is here speaking
of the natural serpent, yet the text itself evidently contains a
synecdoche when we compare it with the words of Christ. The words of
Moses are, "And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast
done this, thou art cursed above all cattle." What then did the
serpent do? He deceived Eve and thus murdered her.

So the words of Moses therefore only hold up the light of the Gospel,
"The devil was a murderer from the beginning," John 8:44. Is it not by
this light at once manifest that God so speaks with the natural
serpent as recorded by Moses, that his words are intended to apply to
the devil, concealed under the form of the natural serpent, who having
assumed that form under it hurled man into sin and death, and laid him
under the wrath of God? Wherefore by the seed of the serpent in this
passage is not to be understood the natural seed of the natural
serpent, but the seed of the devil; as Christ also represents the same
in the Gospel, using the same appellation of "seed," where he says,
"An enemy came and sowed among the wheat evil seed," Math. 13:25. This
evil seed is contrary to the spiritual seed, even as flesh and spirit
are wholly contrary to each other.

But it is not necessary as we have said, that contraries should
contain that contrariety to each other throughout in all respects;
just in the same manner as similarities do not respond to each other
in every particular. Thus for instance, Adam is a figure of Christ;
which similarity consists in the great truth that as sin hath abounded
towards all men by Adam, so the righteousness of Christ also abounds
towards all those who believe in him. These particulars of Adam and of
Christ agree with each other. In all other respects Adam and Christ do
not agree. Wherefore let this their error be left to the Jews, to
content themselves with it. We believers in Christ know that the
serpent, to whom God speaks in this text, is the devil. And this we
know from the interpretation of Christ himself.


I. V. 20. _And the man called his wife's name Eve; because she is the
mother of all living._

We have heard above that it was inflicted as a punishment upon the
woman, that she should be under the power of the man. That power to
which she is thus made subject is here described anew. It is not God
who here gives to Eve her name, but Adam, her lord; just in the same
manner as before he gave to all the animals their names, as creatures
put under his dominion. No animal devised its name for itself. Every
one received its appellation, and the dignity and glory of its name,
from its lord, Adam. So to this day, when a woman marries a man, she
loses the name of her own family and is called after the name of her
husband. On the other hand it would be a thing quite monstrous, if the
husband should wish to be called by the name of his wife. This
therefore is a sign and further confirmation of that punishment of
subjection which the woman procured by her sin. In the same manner
also, if the husband changes his place of residence the woman is
compelled to follow him as her lord. So various are the traces in
nature which put us in mind of original sin and of our numerous
calamities on its account.

And the name which Adam gave to his wife is a name full of joy and
delight. For what is better, or more precious, or more delightful,
than life? There is a well-known poetic line--

  _Num tu bona cuncta_
  _Ut redimas vitam recuses?_
   To save thy life, what wouldst thou not resign?
   The world, with all its wealth, if they were thine!

For neither gold, nor gems nor the glory of the whole world can be
compared with the preciousness of life. This Christ intimates, Math.
6:25; 16:26. Hence the Jews generally give their children names taken
from roses, flowers, jewels, etc. The name of Eve however was not
taken from the preciousness of anything worldly, but from life itself,
which in value exceeds all things. But Adam adds also his reason for
giving this name to his wife. "Because she is the mother of all
living." It is evident therefore from this passage that Adam, by
receiving the Holy Spirit, was wonderfully enlightened; and that he
believed and understood the word spoken by God concerning the Seed of
the woman, which should bruise the head of the serpent; and that he
therefore wished to signalize his faith, and to adorn it by the name
which he gave his wife, the name the like of which he had not given to
any other creature. It is equally evident also that he moreover
wished, by this name given to his wife, to cherish his own hope of a
future Seed, to confirm his own faith and to comfort himself by the
belief of a future and eternal life, even at the very time when all
nature had been rendered subject to death.

For if Adam had not apprehended all this by the faith of the life to
come, his mind could not have been raised to such an assurance of it,
as to give his wife a name so full of joy. As therefore he did give
such a name to his wife, it is perfectly evident that his mind was
lifted up by the Holy Ghost to this confidence in the remission of
sins by the Seed of Eve, whom he therefore named Eve, in order that
the name might be a memorial of that divine promise by which he
himself was raised anew unto life and by which he left the hope of an
eternal life to his posterity. This hope and this faith he imprinted
as it were on the forehead of his wife in the brightest colors by the
name Eve which he gave her; just in the same manner as those who are
delivered from their enemies erect trophies and other glad memorials
to commemorate the victory which they have gained.

But perhaps you will inquire, how Adam called Eve the mother of all
living, when she was as yet a virgin and had never borne a child.
Adam, we here again see, did this to testify his faith in the divine
promise; because he believed that the human race would not be cast
away nor destroyed, but would be saved. This same name Eve therefore
embraces also a prophecy of the grace that should come; and it
indicates that consolation, which is necessary under the perpetual
trials of this human life and against all the temptations of Satan. It
is very possible also that the joyful giving of this name to Eve,
which as we have said is a most beautiful proof of the faith of Adam
and of the recreation of his spirit unto a new life, formed a reason
why the holy fathers in after ages held that day, on which their
children were circumcised and received their names as a more glad and
joyful festival than the day they were born; to the intent that such
festival might forever commemorate this giving of the first name by
Adam, when he called his wife Eve. But now follows another kind of
memorial quite the contrary to this; a memorial of sorrow, not of joy.

V. 21. _And Jehovah God made for Adam and for his wife coats of skins,
and clothed them._

This is by no means so joyful and delightful information as was that
of Adam giving to his wife the name of Eve. For, although the Lord had
said, "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die;" yet
Adam consoled himself by this name which he gave to his wife that the
life which he had lost should be restored by the promised Seed of the
woman, which should bruise the serpent's head and destroy the

II. Here Adam and Eve are clothed with garments by the Lord God
himself, in order that, being perpetually reminded by this clothing as
a lasting memorial, they might reflect, as often as they looked at
their garments, upon their awful and miserable fall from the highest
felicity into the extremest calamity and wretchedness; to the intent
that they might ever afterwards fear to sin and exercise continual
repentance; yet looking for the remission of sins by the promised
Seed. And this is the reason no doubt the Lord God did not cover them
with leaves nor with that wool which grows on trees, but clothed them
with the skins of slaughtered animals to remind them that they were
now mortal and subject to certain death.

As therefore the name Eve contained in it the joyful hope of life,
even of eternal life; so these skins were a memorial of sin passed and
sin to come; but a memorial also of all those calamities present and
future, which that sin deserved. And indeed our nature has need of
such memorials and perpetual admonitions. For we easily forget both
past evils and past blessings. Hence it is that Peter says, "For he
that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having
forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. Wherefore I shall be ready
always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them,
and are established in the truth which is with you," 2 Pet. 1:9, 12.
For it is truly an awful expression of the apostle when he here
intimates that some forget the remission of their sins, and after they
have well believed draw back from their faith, and adorn not
themselves with the most beautiful chain of Christian virtues which he
enumerates, but indulge in covetousness, pride, envy, lust, etc. We in
our day also have great need of this admonition, who experience all
these burdens of these calamities under the papacy, lest we become
ungrateful to our merciful God, as, alas! the greater part of the
world do.

As a remedy therefore against this forgetfulness these skins were
added as clothings for Adam and Eve, that they might be forever a sure
sign, or memorial or admonition, whereby both they and all their
posterity might be reminded of their most wretched condition. But in
after ages, marvelous to say, the world began to grow mad in the
matter of this very memorial of their calamity! For who can possibly
describe the amount of study and expense men and women give to dress!
Indeed it is so great that it can no longer be properly termed
pleasure nor luxury, but madness; because, like asses created for
bearing burdens of gold they seem rather to consider with how much
gold they can load themselves, than with how much they can best adorn
themselves. A superior kind of dress may be justly commended in
certain cases; especially in more illustrious persons. But that rage
for dress in all classes, which now prevails, cannot but offend the
eyes of all good men. And if Adam himself could rise from his grave
and behold this madness for raiment in all circles of society, I
believe he would stand petrified with astonishment at the sight. For
the clothing of skins, which Adam daily wore, daily reminded him of
his sin and his lost felicity. Whereas we, on the contrary, clothe
ourselves with splendid garments and indulge in luxury of dress, that
we may testify to all men that we have not only forgotten the evils of
the fall, from which we have been saved by the Seed of the woman, but
the blessings also which we have received through him. We next find
that the admonition which the Lord had given by the sign of the
garments, he gave also in word.

V. 22. _And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us,
to know good and evil; and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take
also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever:_

These words contain sarcasm and most bitter derision. Some inquire
therefore why it is that God here deals so harshly with miserable
Adam? How it is that, after he had been robbed of all his glory and
had fallen into sin and death, he is goaded in addition to all this by
his Maker with this most bitter reflection passed upon him. Was it not
enough, they ask, that he should wear this visible sign which should
perpetually remind him of his lost glory and his present calamity, but
he must hear also in addition this audible word of the Lord God?

To this I reply, Adam had the promise of mercy given him, and with
that he ought to have lived content. But in order that he might more
deeply fear, and more carefully guard against all future sin, there is
spoken to him this bitter memorial word also. For God foresaw what
kind of men Adam's posterity would be; and therefore he puts this word
into his mouth that he might preach it to his posterity, and might
teach them as a warning that by wishing to become like God, he became
like unto the devil; in order that they also, being thus warned, might
not add to that sin of their first parents their own sins, and so
depart still farther from God.

As before, by the clothing of skins, so now, by his word itself, God
reminds our first parents both concerning their past and their future
calamities. Not that God is delighted with Adam's sad case, for had it
been so he would have given him no such admonition at all; but would
have remained silent. But God willed that man should sigh after the
restoration of that "image of God" which he had lost; and should
therefore the more hate sin, which had been the cause of this awful
calamity; and that Adam should admonish his posterity of what had been
the consequence of his sin; that when, having been plundered of his
reason by Satan, he thought he should become like God, he became like
Satan himself.

On this passage also that great question is raised, why God, who is
one, here speaks in the plural number? And whether there are more gods
than one? And Nicholas of Lyra, with others, considers that these
words are either spoken in the person of an angel or addressed to
angels, "Is become as one of us;" that is, "Is become an angel." But
this comment is too cold. For God does not here call himself an angel.
Nor does the force of the expression lie in the word "one;" but rather
in the pronoun "us." Wherefore we repudiate altogether this cold
comment. For if these words are spoken in the person of an angel, it
is certain that God did not speak them; but God did speak them. For
the assertion of the text is, "And Jehovah God said."

Wherefore here again let us have recourse to the light of the Gospel.
For this light as I have above observed illumines all these obscure
passages of the Old Testament. And indeed if you will explain these
words as having reference to the angels, such interpretations will not
accord with that portion of the sacred narrative which precedes. For
Satan above said, verse 5, "And ye shall be as gods, knowing good and
evil." From this it is manifest that Adam and Eve really endeavored to
become like God, not like an angel. Wherefore this passage cannot
rightly be understood in any other way than as meaning equality with

This error of the Jews therefore concerning the reference of the
present passage to angels, which Lyra also follows in his
interpretation, is exploded; and from this text, according to the
letter, the doctrine is established that there is a _plurality_ in the
_Godhead_, which doctrine was also determined above, Gen. 1:26, where
God said, "Let _us_ make man in our image." All these passages argue,
in the first place, for the unity of the divine essence. For the
uniform expression in them all is, "And God said." And in the next
place, they argue also for the plurality, or according to the general
term used, a _Trinity_ of persons in the Godhead. All these mysteries
however are more fully revealed in the New Testament. As for instance,
when Christ commands believers to be baptized in the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The Three Divine
Persons in the Godhead therefore were thus at once shadowed forth at
the very beginning of the world, and were afterwards clearly
understood by the prophets, and at length fully revealed in the

The meaning of this passage therefore stands perfectly plain, that the
intent of Adam and Eve was to become like God or to secure his image.
Now the image of the invisible God is the Son, "by whom all things
consist," Col. 1:17. Wherefore Adam by his sin dashed against the very
person of Christ, who is the true image of God. These great things are
but briefly and obscurely set before us in this divine narrative.
There is no doubt however that Adam himself drew from them numberless
sermons for his family and posterity; in the same way as the prophets
after him evidently contain various allusions to these mysteries and
wrap them up in marvelous indications, which the Gospel finally
reveals in open and bright manifestation.

It makes also for our interpretation of the present passage that the
name of God used is Jehovah, which cannot signify any creature, being
a name which is applied absolutely and only to the Creator himself.
And what does the Creator here say? "Adam is become as one of _us_."
Now here most assuredly neither our profession nor our faith will
tolerate receiving these words as being spoken or as having reference
to angels. For who will dare to say that God is one of the angels, or
that an angel is one of the _us_, the ELOHIM? The glorious God is
above all angels and over all creatures! How therefore can God make
himself only equal to the angels!

We receive this passage therefore as a sure testimony of that article
of our faith concerning the holy Trinity; that there is One God, and
Three Divine Persons in the Godhead. Moses indeed seems here
obscurely, but plainly and purposely, to intimate concerning the sin
of Adam that his aim was to become like, not unto angels, but unto
God. For if he had sinned against angels only, he would not have been
condemned to death for such a sin. But because his sin was directly
against the majesty of the Creator, by aiming to become like unto him
and to do as that divine majesty did, therefore it was that so awful a
punishment followed so awful a sin.

And as when a man is delivered from crucifixion every one will
naturally remind him of the danger in which he was placed and will
exhort him to guard against a like danger ever afterward; so, after
Adam is restored to the hope of life through the divine promise, God
admonishes him by the bitter irony contained in the text, not to
forget his horrible fall nor ever again to attempt to equal God, in
which he so awfully failed; but to humble himself before the divine
Majesty and ever afterwards to guard with all his posterity against
such a sin. For these things were not spoken to Adam only; they apply
to us also, who, after being baptized and renewed by grace, ought to
take heed with all watchfulness that we fall not back into our former

In like manner there is equally bitter sarcasm in the words, when God
says, "And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take of the tree of
life, and eat, and live forever." As if God could not by one mere nod
prohibit Adam from touching the tree and also prevent him ever doing
so! Moses next adds those terrible and terrifying words,

Vs. 23, 24. _Therefore Jehovah God sent him forth from the garden of
Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the
man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim, and
the flame of a sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the
tree of life._

The contents of this text are intended also for our rebuke and
admonition; as Paul says, Rom. 15:4, "For whatsoever things were
written aforetime were written for our sakes also." For there is great
peril, lest forgetting our former sins we should be plunged into them
again; as Christ also gives us warning, when he says, "Behold, thou
art made whole; sin no more, lest a worse thing befall thee," John
5:14. Peter also speaks in the spirit of warning, when he says, "It
has happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog turning
to his own vomit again, and the sow that had washed to wallowing in
the mire," 2 Pet. 2:22. The same admonition and warning are given by
the same apostle elsewhere, when he says, "Having forgotten the
cleansing from his old sins," 2 Pet. 1:9.

These and other passages of Scripture are all admonitions concerning
guarding against future sin; because, as in diseases so in sins, the
relapse is more difficult of cure than the original. Hence therefore
Adam and his whole posterity are warned in so many various forms by
the present portion of the sacred record of Moses! All is written in
order that, after they have received the hope of eternal life by means
of the promise given through the Seed of the woman, they might beware
that they lose not that hope by sinning again; according to that
remarkable parable of the house which was swept and garnished after
Satan was cast out, which Satan again occupied, taking with him seven
other spirits more wicked than himself.

It is to this end that the Lord uses so much bitterness in his address
to our first parents. It is as if, in explaining himself, he should
say, "I before forbade Adam and Eve to touch the tree of death;" but
such was their impudent self-will, that they would not abstain from
doing so even to their own destruction. Now, therefore, I must take
all care that they approach not the "tree of life" also; for it may be
they will not refrain from putting forth their hand on that also.
Therefore I will so effectually prevent them from eating of this tree,
that I will prohibit them from the use of any of the trees of paradise
whatsoever. Wherefore I say unto them, "Go ye forth from the garden
altogether, and eat the herb of the field, and whatsoever else of the
kind the earth produceth. Ye shall hereafter not only eat no more of
the tree of life, but ye shall not taste any other tree of paradise,"

This passage further shows that the trees of paradise were in no
manner like those which the other part of the earth brought forth.
Wherefore, even the food which Adam and Eve ate, after their ejection
from paradise, reminded them, and still reminds their posterity, of
their sin and of their most miserable condition, into which they have
been hurled by their sin. In so many and various ways are our
calamities depicted before our very eyes that even our clothing,
independently of our destitution by nature of those spiritual gifts,
the knowledge and worship of God, etc., perpetually remind us of those
great calamities.

Here a question presents itself, whether, if God had permitted Adam to
eat of the tree of life, Adam would by this food have overcome death
in the same manner as by eating of the tree of death, he became
subject to death; for the reasoning in each case seems to be parallel.
The tree of death killed; and that by the Word, which said, "In the
day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die." The tree of
life, therefore, by the power also of the same Word, gave life and
preserved from death.

Lyra and others in their reply to this question say that this tree of
life had indeed the power of preserving life for a length of time, but
not forever; and therefore it could not have restored that life which
was lost by sin. For Adam was not created with the design of his
remaining in this corporal life forever; but he was designed to be
translated from this corporal life and from this corporal nourishing
of it into that spiritual life, for which he was ultimately designed
and into which he would have been translated, if he had not sinned.
Just in the same way as when a man is created a consul from his former
private life, no death is taken into consideration in his being
created to that office, but his glory and dignity alone are increased;
so Adam, had not death intervened by his sin, would have changed his
mortality for an immortality without any death at all; being
translated from the life corporal to the life spiritual and eternal.
This "tree of life" however, according to the view of Lyra, served
only for the preservation of the corporal life. And therefore he
interprets the present text, "Lest he should live an age;" that is, a
life of long duration. Such is Lyra's opinion.

My understanding of the text however is different. My belief is, that
if Adam had been admitted to eat of the tree of life he would have
been restored to that life which he lost; so that he would not have
afterwards died, but would have been simply translated from the life
corporal to the life spiritual and eternal; for the text contains both
these statements most clearly; that Adam was prohibited from eating of
"the tree of life," that he might not be restored to the life which he
had lost; and also, that if he had eaten of that tree he would have
lived LEOLAM; that is, for an age or a length of time.

My rejection of the opinion of Lyra, however, is especially on the
ground that he attributes the power of giving life to the nature of
the tree itself simply; whereas it is quite certain that the tree
possessed not this property of its own nature, but from the power of
the Word absolutely. Just in the same manner as the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil had its peculiar property from the same
Word. It did not kill, because its fruits themselves were deadly,
poisonous or pestiferous; but because the Word, as a certain paper,
was added to it; on which paper God had written, "In the day that thou
eatest of this tree, thou shalt surely die," Gen. 2:17.

Wherefore, in the first place, to this tree of death there was
attached spiritual death or the death of the soul; that is,
disobedience. For after Adam and Eve had violated this commandment of
God by sin, which commandment had continued effectual in them up to
that time, they began to think thus, "Behold, God has forbidden us to
eat of this tree; but what is that to us?" This contempt of the
commandment was that poisoned hook, by which being firmly fixed in
their throats Adam and Eve were utterly destroyed. For since the
divine threatening was added to the commandment, therefore after
eating it the fruit wrought in them death on account of their
disobedience. The tree of death itself was not poisoned; but, as I
have copiously explained before under the second chapter, it was the
tree of divine worship, where man might testify, by his obedience in
that worship, that he acknowledged, reverenced and feared his God. For
God saw everything which he had made, and behold it was very good,
Gen. 1:31. Wherefore, I have no doubt that this tree of life in the
present passage derived its efficacy, as did the tree of death, from
the Word. Therefore, since the Word rested in its power on that tree,
if Adam had eaten of it, he would have been restored to the life which
he possessed before his fall.

It was just thus also with the serpent, which Moses raised in the
desert. It did not give or cause life by its own nature; for it was
made of brass, as any other serpent might be made of the same metal to
this day. But it was the Word, added to that serpent, which made it
effectual to give life; because God commanded that serpent to be
lifted up, and because he added this Word to it when lifted up, "Every
one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live," Num. 21:8.
Now, if thou shouldst make a serpent of brass at his day, thou couldst
not have this Word to add to it. Moreover, the cause of the healing
did not lie in the act of the looking, but that cause was contained in
the Word, by which God had commanded that those who were bitten should
look to the serpent, to which commandment was also added the promise
of healing to those who should look. But because the Rabbins
understand not the nature of the Word, therefore they shamefully err
and fail in their interpretation and declare the meaning to be, that
the nature itself of these trees was death-giving or life-giving. For
they understand not that all things therefore take place, _because_
God by his Word either _promises_ or _threatens_ that they shall so
take place.

Our sophistic human reasoners trifle in the same way, when they argue
upon the manner in which baptism justifies. For Thomas Aquinas and
Bonaventura consider that there is a certain power of effecting
justification infused by God into the water when the infant is
baptized; so that the water of the baptism, by its own virtue thus
communicated, creates justification. We, on the contrary, affirm that
the water of baptism is water, nothing else or better than that water
which the cow drinks. But we affirm, that to this water, natural and
simple in itself, is added the Word, "He that believeth, and is
baptized, shall be saved," Mark 16:16. And again, "Except a man be
born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of
God," John 3:5. Now, if any one is inclined to call this Word, or this
Promise, the power communicated to the water of baptism, I will not
resist such a view of the sacred matter. But the mind of our sophists
is quite different from this; for they will not assign this power to
the Word; they argue concerning the element only; and they affirm that
the water itself contains a peculiar power communicated to it of God.
Scotus has expressed the matter more correctly in his definition of
it, when he says that baptism is "a divine compact or covenant,
resting on the element."

The Word therefore is in every case to be regarded and honored, that
Word by which God holds and endues his creatures with efficacy; and a
difference is ever to be made between the creature and the Word. In
the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper there are bread and wine; in
baptism there is water. These are the mere creatures. But they are
held in God's hand by the Word, and as long as the creature is thus
apprehended by the Word, so long also doth it effect that which the
Word promises.

And yet we would by no means be understood as favoring by these views
the Sacramentarians, when we thus join together baptism and the Supper
of the Lord. Baptism hath annexed to it the promise, that with the
Holy Spirit it regenerates. In the Supper of the Lord, in addition to
the promise of the remission of sins annexed to it, it has also this
excellency: that with the bread and the wine there is also truly set
forth the body and blood of Christ, as Christ himself says, "This is
my body which is given for you;" and also, "This cup is the New
Testament in my blood," Luke 22:19, 20. In the same manner it might
also be said that the human nature itself in Christ does not redeem
us. But because the human nature was corporally held fast by the
divine nature, and Christ is both God and man in one person, therefore
his redemption is all-availing; and therefore Christ is called the
"Son of Man" and the Saviour.

The Pope has invented the "blessed water," "extreme unction" and
numberless other like things, to which he has attributed the remission
of sins. In all these cases ever think thus with thyself: Has God ever
added to these things his Word of Command and his Word of Promise? And
if the promise and the precept of God are not attached to them,
immediately judge that they are idolatry and profaning of the name of
God. But they will tell you that the prayers of the pious are added to
them and that there exist holy examples, in imitation of which these
things were constituted. But do thou regard neither the pious prayers,
nor the holy examples, nor the intentions of those who invented or
established these things. Look only at whether the precept and promise
of God are attached to them; for the divine command and promise alone
can endue creatures with a new power beyond that power which they of
their own mere nature possess.

Thus "the tree of the knowledge of good and evil" was of its own
nature good as a creature; but by means of the Word of God, added and
attached to it, it became to man through his sin the poison not of his
body only but of his soul. And in like manner, on the contrary, "the
tree of life" had by means of the Word of God attached to it the power
of preserving life, and it would have restored and preserved the life
of Adam had God so permitted. But God being angry with Adam did not
permit him to return to eat of that tree after his fall. And this
repulsion from "the tree of life" and from paradise was not only
intended to keep Adam under the continual memory of the sin which he
had committed, but also because Adam had now a better promise given
him, that the Seed of the woman should bruise the seed of the serpent;
so that, although Adam was subjected to corporeal death, he yet
retained the hope of an immortality through the Son of God. Just as an
angry father, though he does not deprive his son of the right of his
inheritance, yet chastises him and turns him out of doors.

It is thus the will of the Lord God therefore that man should be
content with the hope of a better life than that in which Adam was
first created. For even though Adam had eaten of the tree of life and
had been restored thereby to his former life, he would not even then
have been safe from Satan nor from the danger of falling again from
that life by his temptation. God therefore hath prepared for man that
state of hope in which we may live assured that through the blessed
Seed of the woman we never can die an eternal death, although this
corporeal life thus appointed for us may be filled with various
afflictions. The words of the passage are the words of God, spoken
ironically and in anger to Adam now justified, warning him to be more
cautious of sin in the future and not to forget his past sins and

Moses moreover beautifully inverts the order of his words to the
intent that he might more effectually admonish man of the things he
had related before, where he said, "Jehovah God placed man in the
garden of Eden that he might till it and guard it," Gen. 2:15. Here on
the contrary, he says, "The Lord God sent man forth from the garden of
Eden to till the ground from which he was taken." For God by Moses
would have man to reflect that he was formed of the ground and was
stationed in a most delightful place; but that by means of his sin he
was cast out of that most delightful place and carried back to the
ground from which he was first created. By this striking inversion of
the facts of his record, Moses indicates the manner in which God not
only warned Adam and all his posterity against all future sin, but
reminded them also of their great sins past. Now therefore Adam, whose
appointed station before was in paradise, a place separate from all
the beasts of the earth and in which peculiar food was prepared for
him, is cast out into a place in common with the beasts and also has
his general food in common with them.

Nor is Adam cast out of paradise only, but a guard also is set at the
entrance of the place that he might not by any means be able to enter
it again. Just as watches are set to guard citadels and armies. Moses
therefore by the copiousness and variety of speech he here uses would
show, that this expulsion of Adam from paradise was in the highest
degree necessary unto our salvation; that, being warned thereby
against sin, we might live in the fear of God, ever watching against
temptations from Satan, who worked so much evil to our nature by the
sin of our first parents.

Concerning the original word, MIKKEDEM, we have spoken above and have
shown that it signifies "from the east" or "in the eastern quarter."
The meaning of Moses is, that paradise had a way or gate on the
eastern side, by which there was an entrance into this garden. Thus
also, in the building of the temple described by Ezekiel, mention is
made of a gate of the sanctuary, which looked toward the east, so that
we may conclude that this temple was a certain form of paradise; for
paradise, had nature remained innocent, would have been as it were the
temple of the whole world. At this entrance therefore toward the east,
which alone led to paradise, Cherubim were placed or angels which
might guard this way, that neither Adam nor any of his posterity might
ever enter paradise again. The Lord did these things after the manner
of men as a terror, in order that there might thus exist a lasting
memorial of so awful a fall.

Moreover these Cherubim had not iron wherewith to drive back those who
should approach, but LAHAT, that is, "the blaze," or "the flame" of a
turning or brandished sword; a flame like the flash of lightning which
is uncertain in its motion and dazzles the eyes. This flame or flash
of fire has the form of a sword, continually waved or brandished.
Just, for instance, as we have it represented that cloven tongues like
as of fire appeared resting upon each of the apostles on the day of
Pentecost, Acts 2:3. The same appearance do flying dragons also
exhibit. In this manner it was also that the angels here spoken of
unceasingly emitted flames, which flashed in all directions so that no
one might by any possibility approach.

The absurdities of Origen on this passage we utterly reject, nor are
we at all more pleased with the triflings of Lyra, who will have it,
that by the "flaming sword" we are to understand the sinner, who for a
sin unto death has ceased to be meritoriously, though not numerically
one of the church militant. And he says, that the "flaming sword"
being represented as "turning every way" signifies that if true
repentance follow such sins a man is deservedly recalled into the
church. For ourselves however, as we have all along maintained that
paradise was a real and visible garden in a certain spot of the earth,
so we explain the present text in a simple and historical sense; that
this "sword" was a real and visible "flame" or "a flash of fire" in
the form of a sword, by the turnings or brandishings of which every
way the Cherubim or angels terrified and drove away Adam and his
posterity, so that they dared not approach this garden.

And paradise was kept closed by this guard of angels until the Deluge,
to the end that there might exist a sure memorial of this miserable
and calamitous fall of Adam to all his posterity; in the same manner
as in after ages the Lake of Sodom and the pillar of salt remained as
memorials throughout the posterity of those generations. And indeed
our insensibility and unconcern need such monuments of the wrath of
God. After the Deluge however paradise, together with its angels and
these brandishings of their sword, disappeared. For each rising
generation had its monuments of the divine wrath, which were nearer to
them and the better calculated to alarm the self-secure, although even
this avails nothing with the wicked.

III. Thus have we in our Commentary on these first three chapters of
the book of Genesis gone through the history of the whole creation. In
what manner the heaven and the earth, and the sea, and all things that
are in them, were created; in what manner paradise was created of God,
that it might be the palace of man, the lord of the whole world, who
had dominion over all things therein; in what manner God instituted a
temple for man in paradise, which was appointed for acts of divine
worship; namely, the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil," by his
conduct concerning which Adam might testify his obedience to his God.
We have also heard in these three chapters the history of those things
which were done by man in paradise; how woefully he fell and sinned
against God and lost all this glory of his innocence and natural

All these subjects I have treated with plainness and simplicity,
according to the measure of my gift; giving them their plain
historical sense, which is the true and genuine meaning. For the
principal thing we have to do in interpreting the holy Scriptures is
to gather from them, to some degree of certainty, their plain and
simple sense; especially, surrounded as we are with such a variety of
interpreters, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. For nearly all these not only
pay no regard to the plain historical sense of the Scripture, but even
confound it by foolish allegories and bury it under the confusion they
themselves cause.

The absurd system of Origen and Jerome, which these commentators have
followed in these chapters of the book of Genesis, is well known. They
have throughout departed from the plain history, which they call "the
mere letter that killeth," and "the flesh;" and have magnificently
displayed the spiritual sense, as they term it, of which they know
nothing. And Jerome has followed Origen as his great teacher.
Precisely the same thing also has taken place in our time. For as men
gifted and eloquent, have bent their powers to persuade their hearers
and readers that histories are mere dead facts, which profit nothing
to the edification of the churches, it has thereby come to pass that
we have all run headlong in our common study into allegories. And I
myself also, when a youth, found wonderful success in this my attempt
at allegorizing. For I found a license here to invent the greatest
absurdities; seeing as I did that such great doctors of the churches
as Jerome and Origen sometimes gave open field to their ingenuities.
Indeed, to such an extent was this indulgence in allegories carried,
that he who was the greatest adept at inventing them was accounted the
greatest theologian. Augustine also, carried away by this false
opinion, often disregards the historical sense of the Scriptures,
especially in the Psalms, and has recourse to allegory. In fact, all
were filled with the false persuasion that the allegorical meaning was
the spiritual and true sense; especially with reference to the
histories of the Old Testament; but that the historical or literal
sense was the mere carnal interpretation.

But is not this, I pray you, the positive profaning of sacred things?
Thus Origen, out of paradise, makes heaven, and out of the trees,
angels. If this be so, where is the article of the creed concerning
creation? It is highly necessary therefore, especially in young
students of the holy Scriptures, that when they come to read the old
divines they condemn, with good judgment or rather with fixed
determination, all those things in their writings which they find at
all improbable or unsound, lest they be led astray by the authority
that lies in the name of the fathers and doctors of the Church; for in
this way was I deceived, as were all the schools of the professors of
divinity. For myself, ever since I thus began to abide by the
historical sense of the Scriptures, I have cautiously shunned all
allegorizing; nor have I ever adopted allegories unless the text
itself evidently furnished them or the interpretations derivable from
the New Testament justified them.

I found it very difficult however to give up entirely my long
indulgence in allegorizing, although I saw that these allegories were
vain speculations and the mere froth, as it were, of the holy
Scriptures. For it is the plain historical sense of Scripture that
truly and solidly teaches. After the plain sense of the Word has been
rightly understood and mastered, then allegories may be used as
certain ornaments by which the plain historical sense may be
illustrated and strikingly depicted. But naked allegories which
respond not at all to the historical realities nor tend to paint them
forth more impressively, are at once to be rejected as idle dreams;
for instance, from what part of the Scriptures can it be proved that
paradise signifies heaven, and the trees of paradise the angels? Are
not these pure follies, and mere creatures of the brain without fruit
or profit?

Let those therefore who would adopt allegories, seek the justification
of them from the history itself in question; for it is history which,
like sound logic, teaches true and indubitable realities. On the other
hand allegory, like oratory, ought to adorn history only; but to prove
facts, it avails nothing. Allegory is useful in this way, as when we
say that the heavens represent the Church, and the earth the empires
and the political government. Thus Christ himself calls the Church
"the kingdom of heaven" and the "kingdom of God." And the earth is
called in the Scriptures the "land of the living," where men live and
kings and princes rule, Job 28:13. The Apostle Paul uses the same kind
of allegory, when he represents Adam and Eve, or marriage itself, to
be a type of Christ and his Church. This is an allegory full of divine
instruction and consolation indeed. For, what could be uttered more
deep or sweet than that the Church is the spouse and Christ the
bridegroom? For, by this figure is signified both that conjugal
fellowship and that most joyful communication of all those gifts which
the bridegroom has to bestow, and by which gifts are buried in
oblivion both all the sins and all the calamities with which the
spouse is loaded. Wherefore that is a most delightful word where Paul
says, "For I have espoused you to one husband, that I might present
you as a pure virgin to Christ," 2 Cor. 11:2.

In like manner the same apostle says, Rom. 5:14, that Adam was "the
figure of him that was to come." And how? The apostle himself gives
the explanation: "For if by the trespass of the one the many died,
much more did the grace of God, and the gift by the grace of the one
man, Jesus Christ, abound unto the many," V. 15. Does not this
allegory, used by the apostle, beautifully refer to the historical
facts recorded by Moses as its foundation? Exactly after the same
manner does the apostle make out the history of Sarah and Hagar, an
allegory whereby to represent the two Testaments, Gal. 4:24. Let all
therefore, who are inclined to introduce allegories, seek their
foundation of them and justifications for them from the divine history

Moreover we have heard above the sacred record of "the seed of the
woman" and "the seed of the serpent." And to this history Christ
refers in his parable or allegory concerning the enemy who sowed in
the night the evil seed, that is, wicked doctrine and evil inventions,
Math. 13:28. Who does not at once see that such allegories as these
are more appropriate, more illustrative, more useful and far superior
to those allegories which Augustine, Lyra and others have introduced
concerning the inferior power and the superior power of reason, on
which we have dwelt in their place?

In like manner the closing of paradise and the stationing of a guard
of Cherubim, with brandished swords of fire to prevent any one from
re-entering, evidently signify nothing more or less than that man
while living in the world "without," and destitute of faith in Christ,
can endure neither the light of the law nor the light of the Gospel.
And hence it is that Paul says concerning the Jews, "that they could
not steadfastly behold the face of Moses, and that Moses was obliged
to put a veil over his face on that account," 2 Cor. 3:7, 13.

"The tree of death" in paradise represents the law, and "the tree of
life" the Gospel or Christ. And to neither of these trees can any
approach who have not faith in Christ. For they are prevented by the
sword of the angels on guard, who cannot endure hypocrisy or poisonous
self-righteousness. But who so acknowledges his sin and believes in
Christ, to him the gate of paradise stands open, because he brings
with him, not his own righteousness, but the righteousness of Christ,
which righteousness the Gospel therefore preaches unto all men, in
order that all might rest upon it and be saved.

But there is no need that we should pursue this subject of allegories
further. Let it suffice that we have offered these admonitions, that
we might thereby direct those who use allegories to adopt those
allegories alone, which the apostles have indicated and justified, and
which have their sure foundation in the very letter and in the
historical facts of the Scriptures.

But we must offer a word concerning the cherubim. Frequent mention is
made of them throughout the holy Scriptures. In the Latin authors we
find nothing stated concerning them. They merely observe that the term
CHERUB signifies a plentitude of knowledge. Among the Greek authors
Dionysius speaks of the cherubim. There is a boasting report that
Dionysius was a disciple of the Apostle Paul, but that is not true.
Dionysius was a man full of the most vain absurdities, in which he
abounds in his disputations concerning the heavenly and the
ecclesiastical hierarchy. His imaginations make nine choirs, as so
many ranks or spheres of heavenly beings. In the supreme hierarchy he
places first the seraphim; next, the cherubim; next, thrones; next,
dominions; next, powers; and lastly, principalities. And then in the
lower or inferior hierarchy, he places first potentates; next,
archangels; and last of all, angels. Now, who does not see that all
these representations are nothing more nor less than idle and futile
human inventions?

After all this he says there are in the ecclesiastical hierarchy,
first bishops, then deacons, then sub-deacons, then readers, then
exorcists. In such absurdities as these that great man, the disciple
of the chief of the apostles, the great teacher of the Gentiles, was
exercised! And yet, such is the boasted authority of this supposed
great man, that inflated hypocrites set down all these, his foolish
inventions, as if handed down to them by oracles from heaven. Whereas
in all these follies there is not one word to be found concerning
faith, nor one word of useful instruction in the holy Scriptures. And
who after all told him that there were nine choirs of heavenly beings
and potentates? And why moreover did the Franciscans afterward add a
tenth sphere, as a sort of palace, in which the holy mother Mary might
dwell? In a word, these are follies and absurdities adapted only for
Papists to learn and admire, as a just punishment for their
pertinacious war against all sound doctrine.

With respect therefore to the _Cherub_ I will offer my opinion as far
as I have been enabled to form it from reading. The name Cherub
appears to me to signify that florid countenance which we see in girls
and young men in the blossom of their age. For this reason angels are
represented in pictures as infants. So that by cherubim you may
understand angels, as heavenly beings, appearing with a blooming
countenance, and with brow free from wrinkle or sign of sorrow, and
smoothly extended with joy, wearing a face plump and full with
gladness, whether it be a human face or any other. The name Cherub
therefore is a general appellation, a term which does not apply to any
order of angels in particular, as Dionysius dreams, but has reference
only to their general appearance, because they present themselves to
men with a juvenile and florid aspect.

And this indeed is the opinion of the Jews themselves, who assert that
KERUB is a Chaldaic term and that the letter _Kappa_ is a servile
letter, and that RUB signifies a beautiful youth, who has a full and
florid face; and they affirm that the angels are called KERUBIM, as
representing their florid and joyful and delightful countenance or
appearance; and thus they are generally represented in paintings.

In like manner the name Seraphim is a general appellation of angels; a
name derived from fire or burning on account of the quality of their
form, as is shown in Numbers 21:6, where Moses says, "And the Lord
sent HANNECHASCHIM HASSERAPHIM, 'fiery serpents' among the people;"
or, "serpent Seraphim" (_serpentes Seraphim_); that is, "serpents
burning or on fire." So that we may here understand _Seraphim_ or
fiery angels; that is, angels not only beautiful in their full and
florid face, as are _Cherubim_, but also fiery or shining as the angel
is represented in the Gospel to have been, which sat on the stone at
the tomb of our Lord, of whom Matthew says, "His countenance was like
lightning," Math. 28:3; and as angels are also described by the
Psalmist, when he says, "Who maketh his angels spirits, and his
ministers a flaming fire," Ps. 104:4. And again, it is said, Luke 2:9,
"That when the angel of the Lord came to the shepherds, the glory of
the Lord shone round about them." Of the same description also was the
countenance of Christ at his transfiguration on Mount Tabor, of whom
it is said, "And his face did shine as the sun," Math. 17:2. The same
also shall be our countenances, when we shall be raised again at the
last day to enter into the glory Christ hath prepared for us.

With respect to what is written in the Books of Kings concerning "the
Cherubims overlaid with gold," _Cherubici certini_, we are there to
understand these full and blooming countenances of angels, together
with their wings, 1 Kings 6:28. Not that angels really have wings, but
because they cannot otherwise be described. Hence it is that we find,
Is. 6:6, that the angel, who comes flying with a joyous and beautiful
countenance, such as angels are described on pictures of tapestry, is
called CHERUB. And if to this full and florid countenance there be
added also brightness, such as was the shining countenance of Stephen,
full of joy and delight, so that nothing but rays of joy dart from the
eyes, such angels are called _Seraphim_.

Such as these shall we also be. Our countenances shall shine as bright
as the mid-day sun. There shall be no wrinkle, no contracted brow, no
watery eyes; but as it is written, Rev. 21:4, "and God shall wipe all
tears from our eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,
nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain." Let us therefore
hold fast this hope and live in the fear of God, until, being
delivered from this life of affliction, we shall live that angelic and
eternal life which is to come. Amen! Amen!



I. Thus have we at length waded through that mighty sea of matter, in
doing which, all who have made the attempt have so greatly sweated and
toiled, and this sweat we also have fully experienced. To us however
the whole way was much more direct and plain, because, throwing aside
all allegories, we have followed throughout the historical and proper
sense of every passage. Whereas, the most commentators have not
regarded that proper sense, but have made Origen, Dionysius and others
their teachers, rather than Moses himself; and so have deservedly
wandered out of the way. The things which now follow in the divine
record are plainer than the preceding and admit of less dispute; and
therefore they tend more to support my view of the sacred narrative;
because every one must plainly say that the intent of Moses was not to
put forth a host of allegories, but simply to write a history of the
primitive world.

V. 1a. _And the man knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bare

When Adam had fallen into death by sin, he had the promise given him,
as we have heard, that from his flesh, thus made subject to death,
there would surely arise unto him a _Branch_ of life. He fully
understood therefore that he must propagate his seed; and especially
so, since the blessing pronounced on him and his wife, "Be fruitful
and multiply," was not only not taken away, but afterwards confirmed
by the divine _promise_ concerning the _Seed_ of the woman, which
should bruise the serpent's head. Therefore Adam did not know his wife
Eve from the mere inclination of the flesh, as we generally judge; but
it was the necessity of that salvation, which was to come unto him
through the blessed Seed of the woman that constrained him to do so.

No one therefore ought to be offended with the relation of this
circumstance by Moses that Adam "knew his wife." For although, on
account of original sin, this divine act of generation is considered
to be one of turpitude, by which we find pure ears to be generally
offended; yet spiritual men ought always to distinguish between
original sin and the creature or the appointment of God. The act of
generation, as a creation-appointment of God, is good and holy, for it
is the very blessing pronounced of God upon male and female when they
were created. And if man had not fallen this act of generation would
have been most pure, most holy and most honorable. For as no one
blushes to converse, eat and drink with his wife, because all these
things are honorable among all men, so, had it not been for the fall
of Adam, the act of generation would also have been most honorable and
void of all "shame!"

Generation has indeed been left to us, even in this state of fallen
and corrupted nature. But there has adhered to it that poison of the
devil, an impure lust and prurient concupiscence, which is the cause
of numberless sins and evils; from all of which, nature in its
unfallen state was perfectly free. Now however we find by experience
that the flesh is filled with inordinate and unsatisfied desires; so
much so that even marriage is not for many a sufficient remedy. If it
were, there would be no adulteries nor fornications. Whereas these, to
our shame and pain, everywhere abound. Nay, in how many and various
ways does this infirmity of the flesh discover itself, even in married
persons? These infinite evils are not the consequences of the creation
nor of the blessing pronounced on male and female. These latter
proceeded from God. But they are the consequences of sin and of the
curse, which proceeded from the sin of Adam. Therefore, the
creation-appointment of God ought to be separated from all these
evils; for that is a good creature of God, concerning which even the
holy spirit himself we see is not ashamed to speak.

But further. Not only is there no idea of impurity to be attached to
this mention of the creation-command and "blessing" of God made by
Moses, when he says, "and Adam knew Eve his wife;" it was even
necessary that Moses should write and teach these things on account of
the heresies which were in later times to arise; such as those of
Nicolaus, Tatian, etc.; and, above all, on account of the papacy. For
we see the Papists were not the least moved by that which is written
above, that the Lord created man "male and female." They so live and
so bind and fetter themselves by vows, that they seem to be utterly
ignorant that there are any such beings as the male and female sexes.
They are not at all moved by what is also above written, that Jehovah
God "Brought Eve unto Adam." and that Adam said "This is now bone of
my bones, and flesh of my flesh." They are not moved by the promise
and blessing of God, "Be fruitful and multiply." The Decalogue touches
them not, when it commandeth, "Honor thy father and thy mother!" Yea,
they disregard their very origin; born as they are from the union of
male and female, commanded and blessed of God. Passing by, despising
and casting away all these things, they compel their contemptible
priests, monks and nuns to devote themselves to perpetual celibacy; as
if the married life, of which Moses here speaks, were a life reprobate
and damnable!

The Holy Ghost however hath a purer mouth and purer eyes than the
Pope! The Holy Spirit himself therefore blushes not to mention the act
of generation, or the union of husband and wife; though these great
saints condemn it as impure and base. Nor does that Holy Spirit
mention this marriage union in one place only of the sacred record.
The whole Scriptures are filled with such histories; so much so, that
on that very account some popes have prohibited young monks and nuns
from reading the holy Bible. But I need not enlarge. Suffice to say,
that such has been the rage of the devil against this institution of
God, holy matrimony, that the Papists have compelled men to abjure
marriage, to the very end that they might institute their orders of a
celibate life; and they have condemned the commandment of God, married
life, as polluted in comparison with the life of celibacy, which they
themselves have set up!

This wickedness however has not been left without its own just
punishments. For there are continually before our own eyes examples of
the fruits which impure celibacy brings forth, and there are extant in
books, record of most horrible crimes, of which it has been the cause.
That holy man Udalric, an Augustan bishop, testifies that after Pope
Gregory had determined on establishing celibacy, and had forbidden
even those to live with their wives, who had been married before the
decree concerning celibacy had gone forth, the Pope had a mind on one
occasion to fish in a pond which he had in his park at Rome; and that
when he did so it led to the discovery, that the fish-pond contained
more than six thousand heads of infants! The same Udalric also writes
that Pope Gregory, being struck with awe and consternation at such a
sight, revoked his sanction of the impious decree concerning celibacy.
The successors of Gregory however easily swamped the foulness of this
discovery, and the pious abolition of the decree by Gregory also; for
they also, like their predecessors, considered that celibacy was
adapted not only to increase their wealth, but to support their

A similar example presented itself also in my time, when some nuns at
Neumburg were compelled to leave the place, on account of their
flagitious lives, and the monastery was given to the Franciscans; and
when these latter, for their convenience, caused some alterations to
be made in the building; in laying these new foundations, there were
discovered twelve pots, each one of which contained the dead body of
an infant! An infinite number of similar instances have occurred at
other places in every direction.

Rightly therefore did Gregory act in revoking his decree, by which, as
Bishop Udalric remarks, he made a very beautiful application of the
word of the Apostle Paul, who says, "It is better to marry than to
burn," to which, I also add, "It is better to marry, than to incur the
peril of eternal death by sin."

At Rome itself also on account of the great numbers of infants who are
exposed monasteries are erected, of whom the Pope is nominated "the
father!" And the near relatives of the infants, which have been so
exposed, precede him in the public processions! I forbear to testify
of an infinite number of other kindred enormities, which are too bad
to mention.

Wherefore, it behooves us all to guard against such doctrines of
devils as these, and to learn to hold marriage in all reverence; and
with all reverence to speak of that holy life, which we see God
himself has instituted; and which we hear is commended of him in the
Decalogue, where he says, "Honor thy father and thy mother," to which
holy matrimony, is also added the blessing, "Be fruitful and
multiply." And concerning this holy marriage it is, that the Holy
Ghost is here speaking, whose mouth is holy and chaste. But all those
sins and vices, and all that turpitude which have entered into the
originally pure creation of God by sin, we ought not to agitate, or
deride, or touch, when speaking of holy marriage, but rather carefully
to cover them; just in the same way as we see that God covered the
originally naked Adam and Eve with coats of skin after their sin. For
marriage ought to be treated and spoken of by all as honorable, being
the holy union from which we all are born; and which is, as it were,
the seminary not only of each nation but of the Church and kingdom of
Christ unto the end of the world.

This high glory of marriage however the heathen and profane men do not
understand. Therefore, all they can do is to collect the vices which
exist in the marriage life itself, and in the abandoned female sex.
And thus, separating the unclean things from the clean, they retain
the unclean only; and the clean they see not at all. Hence also,
certain profane lawyers so irreverently judge and speak of this book
of Genesis as to affirm that it contains nothing more than the
marriage doings of the Jews. Are not then such men as these, I ask
you, worthy of living to see marriage despised and unclean celibacy
introduced, and themselves, subjected to its crimes and punishments,
which exceed even those of Sodom?

The Holy Spirit however thought it not enough to say here "And Adam
knew Eve;" but he also adds, "his wife!" For the Holy Spirit approves
not wandering lusts and promiscuous intercourse! He wills that every
man should live content with his own wife. And although, alas! even
that union of married people itself is very far from being pure, as it
would have been had man continued in his state of innocency;
nevertheless even in the midst of the vices of lust and of all the
other calamities of the fall of Adam, the "blessing" of God on
marriage still stands unaltered. For the fact of Adam knowing Eve his
wife, which Moses records, was not written for Adam and Eve's sake.
When Moses penned these words, Adam and Eve had long been reduced to
their original dust. It was for our sakes therefore that this was
written; "That those who cannot contain might marry," 1 Cor. 7:9,
"live content each with his Eve, and not desire strange women."

This expression, "knew his wife," is a phrase peculiar to the Hebrews;
for neither the Latins nor the Greeks so expressed themselves. It is a
form of speech particularly beautiful; not only on account of the
modesty and reverence it preserves, but on account of the peculiarity
of signification it conveys. For the verb YADA has a much more
extensive meaning than the verb "to know" in our language. Thus, when
Job says, concerning the wicked, "They shall know what it is to act
against God" he means that they shall feel and experience the
consequences of such actions. So, when David says, "For I acknowledge
my sin," Ps. 51:3, his meaning is, I feel and experience what it is to
sin. Again, when the angel of the Lord says to Abraham, "For now I
know that thou fearest God," Gen. 22:12, his meaning is, "I know by
sense and experience." And again, when the Virgin Mary said unto the
angel, "How shall this be, seeing I know not a man," Luke 1:34, her
meaning is the same as that of Job, David, etc. For, it is evident
that Mary knew many men, but she had neither known nor experienced any
man, as man or the male of God's creation. It was in this manner
therefore that Adam "knew Eve his wife," as it is expressed in the
present passage. Adam did not know his Eve as an object of sight or of
a speculative knowledge, but he experienced in reality what she was as
the "woman," whom God had created such.

That which follows, "And Eve conceived, and bare Cain," is sure
evidence that the human nature was more excellent and perfect then
than it is now. For there were originally no unfruitful embraces, as
there are now in this old age of the world. As soon as Eve was known
by her Adam, she was immediately impregnated and conceived.

II. Here a question may arise, why Moses says, "And bare Cain!" Why he
does not say, And bare a son, Cain; as below, verse 25, where his
expression is, "And she bare a son, and called his name Seth." Both
Cain and Seth were sons. Why, then, are they not both called "sons"?
The answer to this question is, that these different expressions of
Moses were so ordered on account of the posterities. For, Abel being
murdered by his brother, perished corporally; but Cain by his sin
perished spiritually. And yet the generation or seed-bed of the Church
was not propagated from Cain, though he was still alive corporally;
for all his posterity perished in the flood. Therefore neither the
blessed Abel, nor the accursed Cain, has in the Scriptures the name of
"son." But Seth was the one from whose posterity Christ, that promised
Seed, was ordained to be born. Seth therefore is the first of the
children of Adam and Eve, who is counted worthy the name of "son."

V. 1b. _And Eve said, I have gotten a man with the help of (from)

From this expression of Eve there may be gathered another reason why
she did not call Cain a "son." It was the greatness of her joy and of
her reverential awe, which prevented her from calling Cain a "son."
For she thought something greater concerning Cain than a natural son.
She considered Cain would be that man who should bruise the serpent's
head. And therefore she does not say simply, "a man;" but, "a man of
Jehovah," implying that he would be that man concerning whom the Lord
God had promised her that her Seed should bruise the serpent's head.
And although Eve was deceived in this her hope, yet it plainly appears
that she was a holy woman, and that she believed in the salvation that
was to come by the blessed Seed. And it was because she believed this,
that she so greatly rejoiced in the son which she had borne, and that
she spoke of him in the exalted terms contained in the text before us.
It was as if she had said, "I have gotten a man of God, who will
conduct himself more righteously and happily than I and my Adam
conducted ourselves in paradise. Therefore I call him not my 'son.' He
is a man of God, promised to me and shown to me of God." It might have
been for this latter reason also, as well as for the former, that Eve
did not call Cain "a son."

With respect therefore to Eve's adhering so closely to the divine
promise and believing so firmly in the deliverance that should surely
come through her Seed, in all this she did rightly. For, by the same
faith in the "Seed" that was to come, all the saints of old were
justified and sanctified. But with respect to the individual intended
by the promise, she erred. She believed that it was Cain who should
put an end to all those calamities into which Satan had hurled man by
sin. This faith of Eve however rested on a certain opinion of her own,
without any sure sign and without the sure Word. The promise indeed
was true, and certain, and sure; but nothing was said or signified
definitely, whether it was Cain or Abel who should be that great
conqueror of the serpent.

In the matter therefore of determining the individual, Eve was
deceived; and consequently her giving to her son so proud and joyous a
name was all in vain. For the text shows that Cain was so called from
the verb KANAH, which signifies "to possess," or "to acquire." So that
by this name Eve consoled herself against the evils she had brought
upon herself, and set against them the acquisition of eternal life and
salvation, which she should obtain by her Seed, against that loss of
life and salvation which she had incurred by sin and Satan. It was as
if she had said to her Adam, "I remember with sorrow what we have lost
by our sin; but now, let us speak of and hope for nothing but recovery
and acquisition. I have gotten a man of God, who will acquire and
recover for us that glory which we have lost." It was this certainty
of the promise therefore and her sure faith in it, which drew Eve into
this haste and caused her to think that this her first son was the
Seed concerning whom the Lord had made the promise.

But Eve, poor miserable woman, was deceived in this. She did not yet
see the extent of her calamity. She did not yet know that from the
flesh nothing but flesh can be born, or proceed, John 3:6, that sin
and death cannot be overcome by flesh and blood. Moreover she knew not
as yet the point of time in which that blessed Seed, concerning whom
the promise spoke, should be conceived of the Holy Ghost and be born
of a virgin into the world. Just in the same manner the patriarch
after Eve knew not this point of time, although the promise of the
Seed to come was gradually made clearer and clearer by the revelation
of the Holy Spirit. In the same manner also, we in our day know
assuredly that there shall be a final judgment, but the day and the
hour we know not. Just as Christ says, even unto his apostles, Math.

V. 2a. _And again she bare his brother Abel._

It cannot be known for a certainty whether Cain and Abel were twins or
not, although it is very probable indeed that they were twins. But be
that as it may, it is certain that our first parents had various
thoughts concerning these two sons, and that they imagined that their
redemption was at the door. Cain was doubtless held in the highest
honor and made the object of their chief delight; while Abel on the
other hand was not an object of so much pleasure nor of so much hope,
as the names themselves of the two sons show. Cain was so called, as
we have said, because they considered that it was he who should
acquire or restore all things. On the contrary Abel signifies "vanity"
or "that which is nothing or of no value or abject." Some interpreters
have rendered the name in our Bible "mourning" or "sorrow;" but the
Hebrew term for sorrow is EBEL not HABEL. Moreover the expression
HEBEL is of very frequent use in the sacred Scriptures. How often is
it repeated in Ecclesiastes? "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,"
Eccles. 1:2, and also in the Psalm, "Therefore their days did he
consume in vanity," Ps. 78:33; that is, they attained not the
"promised land" of Canaan.

Abel therefore was so called, as being considered one concerning whom
there was no hope, or one respecting whom all hope was vain. But Cain
was so named, as one of whom all things were hoped. These very names
given to these two sons therefore plainly manifest the thoughts and
feelings of the parents concerning them; that, as the promise was made
concerning the Seed of the woman, Adam and Eve thought that the divine
promise thus made was to be fulfilled through Cain, their first son;
but that Abel would effect nothing, seeing that everything was to be
successfully accomplished as they thought through Cain. Therefore they
called him Abel. And this hope which Adam and Eve entertained
concerning Cain was undoubtedly the reason why these two brothers were
not brought up with the same care and concern. For to Abel was
committed the charge of the cattle; but Cain was trained in the
pursuits of his father, and to the cultivation of the earth, as being
the superior and nobler employment. Abel was a shepherd; Cain was a
king and a priest, being the first-born and destined by his birth to
fulfil those high hopes and expectations of the recovery of all his
parents entertained concerning him.

But here ponder the wonderful counsel of God! From the beginning of
the world, primogeniture has always held a very high privilege, not
only among the people of God, with whom the right attached to
primogeniture was an institution of God himself, and by him highly
commended, but among the Gentile nations also. And yet facts and
experiences prove, especially among the holy people, that the
first-born have often disappointed the hopes of their parents and that
the after-born have often attained to the condition and dignity of the

Thus were not our first parents miserably deceived in their hopes
concerning their first-born, Cain, the murderer? So also Abraham, the
exalted, was not the first-born, but Haran. So again Esau was the
first-born; but he had to yield his birth-right and its blessing to
Jacob. Again, David was the youngest of all his brethren, and yet he
was anointed king. And the same wonderful counsel of God may be seen
in many other instances in the Scriptures. For although the first-born
had by divine right the prerogatives of the kingship and the
priesthood, yet they frequently lost them, and the after-born were
appointed to them in their stead.

And whence in most instances arose this perversion of things? Both
from the fault of the parents and from the pride of the first-born
themselves. The parents gave to their first-born greater liberty and
indulgence; and then the first-born themselves thus corrupted by the
indulgence of their parents despised and oppressed, through this pride
in their birth-right, the rest of their brethren. But God is the God
of the "humble." He "giveth grace to the humble, and resisteth the
proud." Those first-born therefore, who exalt themselves in pride God
puts down from their right and their seat; not because such do not
inherit the right of their primogeniture, but because they grow proud
of their gifts and privileges, and carry themselves with insolence and
oppression; and such God cannot endure.

Thus when the angels, who had been endowed with gifts the most noble
and the most bright, above all other beings, began to grow proud in
heaven and to despise the humility of the son of God, they were cast
down into hell and became the most hideous devils. For God cannot
endure pride and he will have his majesty preserved and held inviolate
everywhere, as the prophet says, "And my glory will I not give to
another," Is. 42:8, 48:11.

Thus also, the people of Israel were God's peculiar people, and the
holy city of Jerusalem was the habitation of God. But when they cast
off the fear of God and grew proud, through a confidence in their high
gifts and privileges, the whole people was cut off and their city laid
waste by the Gentile nations. And this indeed is the common pestilence
of our nature. We rest not content with the gifts which God has
bestowed upon us, but abuse them through pride and insult our
bountiful Creator and giver. God, for example, bestows empires,
kingdoms, peace and other large blessings, that kings and princes
might acknowledge him, worship him and give him thanks. But kings and
princes so abuse these great gifts and favors, as if they were
bestowed upon them for the very end that they might insult and trample
under foot their Creator, who has been to them so bountiful a giver.

The very same evil of pride also is found in private and domestic
life. God gives sound health, wife, children, and personal property;
not that through these things we should offend him, but that in all
such things we might acknowledge his mercy and render him continual
thanks. And for this same end also, that we might always give him
thanks, he has bestowed upon us the use of and the "dominion" over all
his creatures. But how few are there who render unto God the thanks
which are thus due to him! Do not almost all of us live in the
continual and most shameful abuse of the gifts of God? God therefore
is compelled to use in our case the same remedy which the Roman
Emperor Vespasian adopted. He used to suffer his citizens to grow
rich. For he was accustomed to say, that such rich ones were like a
sponge, which when filled with water, if well squeezed, will give back
the water in abundance. So when God has enriched certain ones with his
bountiful gifts, if they grow ungrateful and abuse the bounty of their
God, he squeezes them till they are empty again; as the blessed Virgin
says, "And the rich he hath sent empty away."

It was for this reason that God did not spare the first-born, Cain. He
did not give the first birth-right to Cain, that he might grow proud
of it and despise his God; but that he might adorn it, and reverence
and fear his God; and when he did not this, God cast him off. And in
this matter the sin belonged even to the parents also. They fostered
this pride in their first-born as the names they gave their two sons
plainly prove. For Adam and Eve placed all their hope in their
first-born only. They called him "their treasure," as his name
indicates. But Abel they looked upon as nothing and considered that he
could do nothing; while they adorned Cain as a king and held him to be
the "blessed Seed." From him therefore they promised to themselves
great things, and of him they speak great things; and he on his part
became filled with pride. But Abel they despised all the time as a man
of naught.

God however in due time reverses all things. He casts away Cain and
makes Abel an angel, and the "first of all the saints." For Abel, when
murdered by his brother, was the "first" who was delivered from his
sin and from all the calamities of this world, and he shines
throughout the whole church to the end of the world as a distinguished
star, through that illustrious testimony of "righteousness," which the
whole Scriptures bear to his honor.

In this manner therefore was Abel, whom Adam, Eve and Cain despised as
a man of naught, made in the sight of God a lord of heaven and earth.
For after death Abel is placed in a higher state and condition than if
he possessed a thousand earthly worlds with all their riches.

Such is the end of pride and presumption against God! Cain trusted in
his birth-right and despised his brother in comparison with himself,
and believed not the promise concerning Christ; Abel on the contrary
took fast hold by faith of the promise made unto Adam concerning the
Seed of the woman. And this faith was also the reason he offered a
more excellent sacrifice than Cain, as the Epistle to the Hebrews
expresses it, Heb. 11:4.

V. 2b. _And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the

According therefore to the names given to the two sons by Adam and
Eve, such was the condition of life to which each son was appointed by
his parents; and the difference of these appointments manifests that
exalted hope which the parents entertained concerning Cain above his
brother. For although each "calling" of life is honorable, yet that of
Abel is domestic only, while that of Cain is rather political or
public in the nation. As Adam was himself a tiller of the ground, he
trained Cain, whom he more greatly loved, to his father's higher
calling; while to Abel is committed the more leisure care of the
flock. So that it plainly appears that the one son was looked upon as
the lord and the other as a servant by his parents.

V. 3. _And in process of time after the end of days, it came to pass,
that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto

"After the end of days," that is, after a certain number of years had
been fulfilled or accomplished. It is here that we are first informed
that the godly parents, Adam and Eve, preached to their children often
and much concerning the will and the worship of God. For we here find
that both the sons brought unto God their offering. But you will
inquire perhaps what, and concerning what, did Adam and Eve preach
unto their children. They certainly had most glorious subjects for all
their sermons and conversations. They remembered well their original
condition, and what paradise then was; and without doubt they
frequently pointed out to their children the place, now guarded by the
prohibiting angels, and warned their children to beware of sin, by
which they had been deprived of so many blessings and shut out from

On the other hand there is no doubt that they exhorted their children
to live in the fear of God, that they might console themselves with
the confidence of his goodness toward them; assuring them that if they
did so, they would attain to a better state after this present life.
And who could enumerate all the blessings of that former life, which
they had originally enjoyed! To all their teaching was added that
other branch of doctrine concerning the promise of the Seed of the
woman, and of the great deliverance from all calamities to come. And
most probably these God-fearing parents preached all these things to
their children in a certain place, and especially on the Sabbath days.
And it was doubtless by being stirred to do so by these sermons, that
the children came to offer their sacrifices and to render unto God his


I. Now this is the first passage of the Scripture in which mention is
made of MINCHA, _or_ "an offering," from which it plainly appears that
the custom of sacrificing and offering victims is no recent thing, but
a practice which has existed from the beginning of the world. It is no
wonder therefore that the offering of sacrifices, which had been a
custom handed down from Adam to Moses, as from hand to hand, should at
length have been reduced by Moses into its own peculiar forms and into
a certain order; all those things being rejected and repudiated,
doubtless many, which the vain superstition of men had added to the
original manner of sacrificing. Such additions are seen in the
examples furnished by the heathen sacrifices, contained in Homer and
Virgil, which sacrifices the heathen nations no doubt received from
the primeval fathers, but which they multiplied and encumbered with
many things through their superstition.

And while I am dwelling on the present passage, let the reader first
of all consider with me that Adam and Eve are not parents only, nor is
it their sole care to feed their children and to rear them for this
present life. They hold the offices and perform the duties of priests
also. And because they are filled with the Holy Ghost and illuminated
with the knowledge of Christ who was to come, they set this great hope
of their future deliverance before their children also, and exhort
them to show forth their gratitude to the God of such infinite mercy.
For it is to be received as a sure fact, that the end of all the
sacrifices which have been handed down to us from the beginning was
none other than to set forth this _great hope!_

And now consider with me next, what kind of hearers there were to
listen to this good and holy doctrine from the lips of Adam and Eve.
These hearers and scholars were two. Cain, the first-born who appeared
as a saint and was believed to be the lord of all, was a wicked man
and believed not the divine promise. On the other hand, Abel, whose
authority was as nothing and was thrust aside to take care of the
cattle, was a godly man and believed the promise. And yet the ungodly
Cain so concealed his ungodliness, that he heard his parents when
teaching him and his brother, as if he solemnly reverenced the Word;
and he also brought his offering, as his godly brother did. Here we
have an example of the twofold church; the true Church and the
hypocritical church, as we shall more fully explain hereafter. For
although, in the passage now before us, mention is made of the
sacrifice offered only, and not of preaching also, yet we are to rest
fully assured that Cain and Abel did not bring their offerings without
the preaching of the Word. For God is not worshipped with a mere dumb
work. Here must also be the Word, sounding both in the hearts of men
and in the ears of God. And in the same way also calling upon the name
of the Lord was added to this original sacrifice.

Some may here inquire, whether Cain and Abel had any word or command
of God for offering their sacrifice. My answer is, as all sacred
histories confirm, that the great and merciful God of his
superabounding grace always appointed together with his Word some
certain and visible sign of his grace; in order that men being
admonished and kept in remembrance by means of the certain signs or
works of the sacraments may the more surely believe that God is
favorable and merciful unto them.

In the same manner after the Flood, God set his bow in the heavens,
that it might be a sure sign and proof that he would not again visit
the world with a like punishment. After the same manner also,
circumcision was given unto Abraham, as we shall hear in order that he
might hold fast the assurance that God would be to him a God, and that
he would give him a Seed in whom all the nations of the earth should
be blessed. To us under the New Testament are given Baptism and the
Supper of our Lord, as ordained visible signs of grace, that we might
be the more fully assured that our sins are all taken away by the
suffering of Christ for us and that we are redeemed by his death.
Hence the Church was never left so destitute of external signs, that
men were suffered to remain in ignorance as to where God might be
found without fail.

And although the world for the most part follows in the steps of Cain
and abuses those external signs of the grace of God, turning them into
hypocrisy, it is nevertheless evidently an unspeakable mercy that God
represents himself unto us in so many ways. And this very great gift
of God is that which is intended to be lauded by those high
commendations contained in Proverbs, "I was daily his delight,
rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in his habitable earth," Prov.
8:30, 31. But the Hebrew word SACHAK is not translated into German,
"to play;" for wisdom here declares that her regard was always
directed toward men, to the intent that she might reveal herself to
men. The meaning is, as if God had said, "I have always so walked
before the eyes and in the hearing of men, that they may always
understand me to be present in their sacrifices, in circumcision, in
their offering of incense, in the cloud by day, in the Red Sea, in the
manna, in the brazen serpent, in the tabernacle of Moses, in the
temple of Solomon, and in the cloud over the mercy-seat, and all these
things were my delight; that by means of them I might present myself
before the eyes of the sons of men and reveal myself unto them."

And it was also a great consolation to Adam, that after paradise had
been lost and the tree of life also, and those other blessings of
paradise which had been outward signs of the grace of God, God gave
unto him another sign of his grace; namely, that of offering
sacrifices; in order that by this given sign he might understand that
he was not cast off by God, but was still the care of his maker, and
the concern of his Creator. And this is what God intended to be
understood by Adam, when he had lighted his sacrifices and oblations
with the heavenly fire, and when the flame which consumed them
ascended to heaven; as we read concerning the sacrifices of Moses and
of Elijah. For all these sacrifices were true symbols and
representations of the divine mercy; of all these signs, miserable men
had need, that they might not be without some continual light and
indication of the grace of God.

In the same manner also the Word itself Baptism and the Lord's Supper
are our morning stars, upon which we look as sure indications and
representations of the Sun of grace. For we can definitely affirm,
that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism and the Word are, there is
Christ, the remission of sins and eternal life. On the contrary, where
these signs of grace are not, or where they are despised by men,
there, not only is there not grace, but also foul errors abound: so
much so that men make to themselves other signs and appoint other
modes of worship. Thus the Greeks worshipped their Apollo, and other
heathen nations their demons. The Egyptians worshipped their Anubis,
their Serapis, and crocodiles, garlic, onions, etc., etc. The Romans
adored as their gods Jupiter Quirinus, and the abominable statues of
Priapus, Venus, etc.

The very same thing has occurred also in the papacy. For after those
true signs of grace began to sink in men's esteem and to be despised,
superstition could not remain quiet. It sought out for itself other
signs, such as vows, orders of monks, pilgrimages to the tombs of the
saints, intercessions of the saints, and other superstitions. All
these things are full of errors, and joined with ungodliness; and yet
miserable mortals embrace them as certain signs of divine grace. And
amidst all this you hear of no bishop who condemns, no school which
exclaims against such blasphemies as these, nor which teaches sounder
things. For where the light of the Word is lost and these signs of
grace also, which God has given unto men, people necessarily run after
the desires of their own hearts. So also the Jews, when they had
despised the tabernacle and the temple, sacrificed under trees and in
groves, even until parents became so cruel as to sacrifice their own

All this idolatry, so various and so widely wandering out of the way,
plainly shows how great a gift of God it is to possess the Word and
those signs of divine grace, which God himself set forth and
commanded. And if the Gentiles had been willing to follow in the
footsteps of the Jews, they would never have fallen away into those
monstrous idolatries under which they were sunk. And so also with
respect to ourselves; had we held Baptism and the holy Supper of our
Lord in that esteem in which we ought to have held them, we should
never have become monks. Nothing concerning purgatory, nothing
concerning the sacrifice of the mass, nothing about those other like
iniquities, would ever have been taught and handed down to us in the
Church. But after the light of the Word had been put out by the wicked
Popes, it was easy enough to thrust upon men all these abominations.

Unspeakable therefore is this gift, that God not only condescended to
speak unto men by his Word, but added also to the Word these visible
signs of his grace; as in the New Testament, Baptism and the Supper of
our Lord. Are not those therefore who use these signs in a manner
beneath their dignity, or who treat them with contempt, worthy of
being left as they are to purchase the Pope's dung, as the richest
balsam, and to worship it, and to pray to it? For why dared they
despise such goodness of the divine majesty? They might have had, if
they pleased, these sure signs of the grace of God at their own houses
without any expense and without any labor. But despising these, they
travel to Rome and to Compostella, etc.; and thus spend their money
and afflict their bodies, and at length most justly lose their souls.
God be blessed forevermore, that he has in this our day recalled us by
his Word from these mighty errors and idolatries, and has so enriched
us with the signs of his divine grace, that we may have them before
our doors and in our home and even on our beds.

It was in this manner that God at first and from the very beginning of
the world, in order to confirm his promise concerning our salvation,
took this care that men might always have signs by which they might
comfort themselves under their sins, and might lift up their heads by
a confidence in the divine grace. For it is not the dignity of the
work or act itself, but the mercy of God and the efficacy of the
divine promise in the sacrifice, which are availing unto the
worshipper. It is because God hath ordained these acts of worship, and
because he hath promised that they shall be well-pleasing unto him,
that Baptism and the Supper of our Lord are to us, what the sacrifice
and offering after the promise were to Adam. For God in those
sacrifices revealed his grace; and he approved those same sacrifices
by himself igniting them and consuming them by fire from heaven.

II. And it was to these acts of worship that the first father brought
up his sons; that they might in this manner render their thanks unto
God, might bless God, and might conceive a sure hope in the mercy of
God. But the wicked Cain, inflated with the dignity of his first
birth-right, despised all these most blessed preachings of his parent.
He brought his offering indeed as his father had commanded him; but,
puffed up with the high opinion of his own sanctity, he imagined that
God would approve the act of the worship itself, because of the
dignity of the person, the worshipper. And Abel, who, according to the
name given him, was nothing in his own eyes, also brought his
offering; but he worships God thereby through faith in the divine
promise; as it is written in the Epistle to the Hebrews, Heb. 11:4.

V. 4a. _And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and
of the fat thereof._

Here, if you look at the acts of their worship themselves, you can see
no reason for preferring Abel to Cain. For the Jews expose their
absurdity by their dreams when they say that Cain did not offer chosen
wheat, but chaff only; and that was the reason why he was rejected of
God. But the Jews are self-righteous worshippers and cleave unto the
works themselves. The judgment of the Epistle to the Hebrews however
is quite different; the testimony of which is, that it was "By faith
that Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain," Heb.
11:4. The fault of the offering therefore did not lie in the things
which were offered, but in the person who offered them. And it was the
faith of the person and its weight, which gave the value to the
offering made by Abel! But Cain, by the state of his person, rendered
the offering which he made of no avail. Abel believed that God was
good and merciful, and it was this faith that rendered his offering
acceptable to God. Cain on the contrary trusted in the dignity of his
first birth-right and despised his brother as a man of naught in
comparison with himself. What therefore in the end was proved to be
the judgment of God? God made the first-born to be as the after-born,
and the after-born to be as the first-born. For he had respect unto
the offering of Abel, and showed that the offering of this priest was
acceptable unto himself; and, on the other hand, he declared that Cain
was not acceptable to him and that he was not a true priest in his

The Hebrew expression, SCHAAH, has a very wide signification; and I
have carefully explained its full meaning in my paper against Latomus;
and also, its like signification, as found in the prophet Isaiah. "In
that day shall men look to their Maker, and their eyes shall have
respect to the Holy One of Israel; and they shall not look to the
altars, the work of their hands," Is. 17:7, 8, and likewise, Is.
66:12, "And ye shall suck thereof; ye shall be borne upon the side,
and shall be dandled upon the knees." The full meaning of the original
expression therefore and its allusion are, that when a mother
cherishes her babe in her bosom and looks upon it, she views it with a
glad and delighted eye. This is the meaning, the allusion and the
figure, which the original expression conveys. Its signification
therefore is much more extensive than that of the common verb, "to
see," or "to behold." For when a mother looks at her babe, she smiles
upon it with delight and carries in her countenance a peculiar
expression of love. The modern expressions of our language do not
contain a term by which the full import of this original word can be
conveyed; nor does the Latin language, as far as I know, contain any
expression adequate to its satisfactory translation.

Quite similar is that which Moses says in Exodus 33:15, "If thy
presence (_facies tuae_) go not with me, carry us not up hence," that
is, grant that we may ever have thy signs with us in our midst, by
which thou appearest always before us, and makest manifest thy
presence with us and thy favor unto us. And these signs, as I have
said, were the pillar of fire and the cloud, etc. And though Moses
does not, in this portion of the divine history explain what that sign
was, by which God showed that the offerings of Abel were acceptable
unto him; yet it is very probable that his acceptance and pleasure
were manifested by fire sent down from heaven, by which the offering
and the victim were ignited and consumed before the eyes of all
present, by which it was plainly shown that God was delighted with the
sacrifice Abel offered. For by this divine manifestation God showed
that he judgeth the heart and the reins; because, in these two
offerings, he "had not respect" unto the glory of the first
birth-right of Cain; but, on the other hand, he "had respect" unto the
mind of the despised Abel.

And here the whole Church first begins to be divided into that church,
which is "the church" in name only, but which in reality is the church
of hypocrisy and the church of blood; and into that other church,
which is barren and desolate in appearance, and subject to sufferings
and to the cross, and which, before the world and in the estimation of
that church of hypocrisy, is really the Abel; that is, vanity and
nothing. But Christ himself, who also makes this division and
difference, calls Abel the "righteous" one and makes him the beginning
of the Church of the godly, which shall continue even unto the end of
the world. While Cain is the beginning of that church of enmity and
blood, which also shall continue unto the end of the world; as
Augustine also setteth forth this history in his book, "The City of

A great doctrine therefore and a great consolation are set before us,
while we trace both these churches to these their original fountains,
as it were, and when we mark that wonderful counsel, with which God
has ever ruled and overruled these things; ordaining that the true
Church should at one time be greater and at another time less; yet, so
that the hypocritical and the bloody church should always have the
glory before the world and should crucify the true Church, which is
the beloved of her God. For even thus at the beginning did commence
the practical fulfilment of that divine prediction, that the seed of
the serpent should bite the heel of the blessed Seed. And this same
enmity and biting we experience to this very day. Therefore we ought
not to be affrighted by this our appointed lot. It ought rather to be
unto us a great consolation that we learn by our own experience to
suffer those very things at the hands of our enemies, which the bloody
Cain inflicted on the "righteous" Abel.

For it is not now the first time that the name of the Church is torn
from us, and that we are called heretics, and that those who kill us
glory that they are the only true Church, and maintain that assumed
name by fire and sword, and by every kind of cruelty. The same thing
befell righteous Abel. The same thing befell Christ our Lord, who was
not a priest nor a king of Jerusalem before the people; and yet he was
dragged by the priests and by the kings to the cross! And we all, as
the apostle says, must be made conformable to Christ. And thus it is
that the true Church is ever hidden and unknown, and is cast out, and
its members held as heretics, and slain; while Cain alone has the
glorious name and is held in estimation, and alone possesses the hope
of doing great things; and therefore it is that he rushes on his
brother with hostile enmity of mind and slays him.

Now these things were not political nor domestic, but truly
ecclesiastical in the highest degree. Abel was not slain on any
political or domestic account, but alone on account of the worship of
God. For it was not enough for Cain that he was the lord of the
family, he wishes to be the son of God; he will be the pope and father
of the church. And therefore he takes upon himself the judgment of
sacrifices, and condemns and slays his brother as a heretic.

Hence is the prophecy of Christ that the Church should be subject to
various perils and that the time should come when those who should
slay the godly should think that they were thereby worshipping God and
doing him service. Therefore those who will consider themselves the
most righteous among us, these are the pestilences and the persecutors
of the Church. On the other hand, the true Church is that church which
is never judged to be "the Church." But she is, according to her name,
the Abel who was not only a figure of the true Church but the very
beginning of it; that is, she is accounted as naught, so that when she
is slain, her slayers think that God will care nothing about her,
because Cain, they think, as being lord of all and king, may do and is
able to do anything.

Now this is the offense of the cross, against which we have ever to
fight by faith. For we are not to think that we are not the Church,
because our adversaries condemn us and persecute us with every kind of
cruelty thus securely. But, on the contrary, we are ever to consider
that this cross and these judgments of the wicked are the sure and
infallible signs of the true Church, as the tenth Psalm shows, also
Psalm 72:14, "And precious shall their blood be in his sight;" and
Psalm 116:15, "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his
saints." In these Psalms therefore you hear that those who are
slaughtered in this manner by the Cainites are so far from being from
the care of God that their death is precious in his sight. Those
therefore who are thus the care of God are the true people of God.

Wherefore, let us endure the cruelty of our adversaries and let us
joyfully give thanks unto God that we are not in the number of those
who are the slayers; and who, because of their name and title,
persecute "the Church," seize upon the property of others, and rush
with cruelty and violence upon their bodies also. And indeed the
histories of all ages and times testify that the true Church was ever
a suffering Church, that the false Church was ever an evil and violent
Church; and that the true Church was ever condemned by the church of
hypocrisy and blood. Hence there can be no doubt among us of the
present day that the Church of the Pope is the Cainite Church, and
that we are the true, the Abel Church; and as Abel harmed not Cain, so
we not only do no harm to the Church of the Pope, but suffer ourselves
to be harassed, condemned and slaughtered by them.

Nor do we record these things falsely. It is well known to the whole
world how often we are subjected to anathemas, distressed by
subscriptions, and condemned by various denunciations. Nor have there
ever ceased to be found men in almost every corner or Europe ready to
offer themselves as the fierce executors of cruelest decrees. Neither
Spain, nor France, nor England, nor Belgium, nor Bohemia, nor Poland,
nor Hungary, nor Austria, nor Bavaria, has been free from witnessing
this unjust cruelty and savage rage. And yet, what were they
persecuting all the while? What, but godly doctrine, a doctrine
perfectly agreeing with the writings of the apostles and prophets? Can
there be any doubt or obscurity then in forming a judgment concerning
the true Church? For can you possibly judge that to be the true Church
where nothing sound is taught, where unjust tyranny is practiced, and
where the highest power is joined with the greatest wealth? Is not
that rather the true Church where there is sound and holy doctrine,
healing to afflicted consciences? And where, for the sake of that
doctrine, there are endured the cross, contempt, poverty, ignominy,
and all those things of the same kind which the poor little helpless
flock of Christ is recorded ever and everywhere to have suffered?

It is not only most useful therefore, but also most consoling, to have
ever before our eyes this most certain demonstration, which carries
with it so plain a distinction between the two Churches, that Church
which is filled with men of enmity and malignity, such as that purple
harlot, bearing the name of the true Church; and that other Church,
which is accounted as naught, which suffers, which hungers and
thirsts, and lies prostrate under oppression. For Christ records that
he and his disciples both hunger and thirst in this world, Math.
25:35-46. But the judgment shall one day come which shall judge
between the full and the hungry, between the goats and the sheep,
between Cain and Abel. At this judgment God shall declare that he
approves this suffering and hungering Church, and condemns the Church
of hypocrisy and blood. These are our consolations and this is that
sugar as it were, by which our present calamities must be sweetened
and overcome. Such then is the theological part of this divine matter.
Now let us come to the political part of it, and consider the judgment
of God concerning that.

We doubtless may justly wonder why it was that God permitted the first
son of Adam, to whom the honor of the first birth-right was always due
throughout the whole human race, to fall so horribly that his whole
posterity should afterwards be destroyed. But the cause was the very
same as that on account of which God spoke with such bitter derision
to Adam when he said, "Lest he also become as one of us," Gen. 3:22.
The reason was the same as that for which the Lord guarded the garden
by the cherubim. For God will crush all presumption and pride, which
are implanted as it were in the heart of man by original sin. And such
is our nature that we can endure anything else better than this
crushing of our pride. We see what insolence and pride there are in
all our nobles of the court, on account of the vain nobility of their
descent. For truly vain is that nobility, which real worth and
illustrious services to his country have not procured for a man.

It is said of Plato, the philosopher, that he also was accustomed to
give thanks to God for three things; first, that he was born a man and
not a beast; secondly, that he was born a Greek at Athens, and not a
barbarian; and thirdly, that he was born a man and not a woman. The
fatuity of the Jews is just like this. They glory that they were born
men, and not beasts; Jews, and not Gentiles; males, and not females.
But to what, I pray you, does all this glory of origin amount? What
vanity is it to see a certain ass in a palace with his gold chains on,
not only thinking himself better than every one of the people, but
also growing proud and insolent against God himself. Just so it was
with the Romans. They prided themselves in the course of years on the
glory of their nation's mighty deeds, always carefully thrusting from
them the degrading term "barbarian." In a word, the greater any nation
has ever grown in its own eyes, the more proud and insolent it has
ever become. And the same is the nature of us all by sin.

But look at the judgment of God in this matter. Cain could truly and
justly boast in the highest of all nobility, for he was the first-born
of all mankind. But the greater and more glorious his origin was, by
so much the more horribly did he fall. Hence general experience has
also given place to the well-known proverb, which says, "The sons of
the great are great evils."

Nor are these evils peculiar to private families only, mighty empires
suffer the same. The nation of the Greeks was most glorious. They
excelled all other nations in their learning and in the greatness of
their illustrious deeds. But into what extremes of turpitude did they
fall? And how miserably was their nation destroyed at last? And you
may see the very same things fulfilled in all nations. Good therefore
was God in permitting Cain thus to fall, that he might be an example
to the whole world, that no one might ever glory in the nobleness of
his blood, as the Jews boasted of their father Abraham and as the
Greeks boasted of their wisdom. For God will have himself to be feared
and us to be humbled. But this his will, though known to us, is for
the most part known to us in vain. For we are not moved by all these
terrible instances of his wrath nor by the perditions and destructions
of the first men and the first nations.

Universal experience therefore testifies, that the sentiment of the
Virgin Mary is true, "He hath put down the mighty from their seats,"
Luke 1:52. For those things which are the first and the best become
the most damnable, not from anything in themselves that is evil, but
on account of the diabolical presumption and pride of men. This sad
result the Gentiles also saw, as the well-known saying of one of their
philosophers testifies, who being asked what God was doing replied,
"Exalting the humble, and humbling the exalted." But the heathen
philosophers saw not the cause of all these things.

Thus also the flesh judges it to be great glory to be born a male, and
not a female. We see however that God has taken especial care that
man, so great, should not be born of man, and so also Christ would
have himself to be called "the Seed of the woman," not the "Seed of
the man." O what would have been the pride of men had God willed
Christ to be born of a man! No! all this glory is transferred from the
men to the women, subject to the rule of the men. And all this was
done that men might not glory in themselves, but be humbled. Nay,
since the woman cannot bring forth without the man, God has therefore
especially ordained that the men also should not bring forth of
themselves without the woman. For such is human nature, that man
cannot rightly use his glory, but ever abuses it with pride and rises
up against him from whom he receives such gifts. It was for this
reason therefore that Cain so awfully fell and lost the right of his
first birthship, that we might be thereby taught to fear God and to
give him thanks, and might be warned against abusing his gifts in
arrogance and pride.

Vs. 4b, 5a. _And Jehovah had respect unto Abel and to his offering;
but unto Cain and his offering he had not respect._

This is an important portion of Scripture, and therefore it is to be
most carefully observed and most strongly enforced. For it would be
sufficient for all doctrine if under the New Testament trust in the
mercy of God were set before men against all trust in works with so
clear a testimony and in such plain words as it was thus set forth at
the very beginning of the world. For when Moses says that the Lord had
respect unto Abel and to his offering, but unto Cain and his offering
he had not respect, does he not clearly show that God ever respects
the person before the work, and that he first looks at the person who
performs the work? And does not the sacred historian make it perfectly
plain, that if the person be good, his work also pleaseth God; but
that, if the person be evil, the work also of such an one does not
please God?

Now this is the sum of our doctrine, which we profess and teach, that
the person is accepted of God before the work! And that the person is
not made righteous by the righteous work, but on the contrary that the
work is rendered righteous and good by the good and righteous person,
as the text now before us clearly proves. For because God, as here
shown, had respect unto the person of Abel, he had respect also unto
his offering. But on the other hand, because God had not respect unto
the person of Cain, therefore unto his offering also he had not
respect. This doctrine the text before us plainly proves, nor can our
adversaries deny it. From the words of that text therefore follows
this most clear and most evident consequence: that Abel was
"righteous" before the work of his "offering," and that his work
pleased God, because of his person; not his person, because of his
work. Yet it is for the latter doctrine that our adversaries contend,
who teach that the man is justified by his works, and not by his faith

And it is in this manner that the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews
looks at this text with clear and pure eyes, when he says, "By faith
Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which
he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his
gifts; and by it, he being dead, yet speaketh," Heb. 11:4. Cain also
offered, and also before Abel brought his offering; but the former
offered, inflated with the glory of his birth, expecting that his gift
would please God, because it was offered by the first-born. Cain
therefore comes to offer without faith, without the confession of sin,
without imploring the grace of God, without trust in the mercy of God,
and without prayer for the remission of sins, having no other ground
for his hope that he shall please God, than because he was the
first-born; and this is what all self-justifiers do at this day. They
look intently on their works alone and hope that they shall please God
on account of their works. They trust not in the mercy of God only,
nor hope in God that he will pardon their sins for Christ's sake. And
such was Cain. But it would have been impossible for him to have
displeased God, if he had possessed faith.

Abel, on the contrary, acknowledged himself to be an unworthy and
miserable sinner; and therefore he fled unto the mercy of God and
believed that God was favorable unto him, and that he was willing to
have mercy upon him. God therefore who looks into the heart judged
between the two brothers, who alike brought their offering. He
condemned Cain, not on account of the offerings themselves, as if they
were less good than those of Abel, for if he had offered even a
nutshell in faith, it would have been accepted of God, but because his
person was evil, without faith and filled with pride and arrogance.
While, on the contrary, God had respect unto the offering of Abel,
because his person pleased him. Hence it is that the text so clearly
and particularly expresses it, that the Lord had respect first to
Abel, and afterwards to his offering. For, when the person first
pleases you, then also the things which that person does please you.
But, on the contrary, all things are unpleasing to you, which that
person does whom you hate.

The passage before us therefore is remarkable and important; for it is
thereby clearly proved that God regards neither the magnitude, nor the
multitude, nor even the price of the works done; but simply and only
the faith of the person who does them. And that God despises neither
the fewness, nor the meanness, nor the worthlessness of the works
done, but the absence of faith only, in the person who does them.

Of what avail is it therefore that the Jews glory and exclaim, "The
Temple of the Lord! The Temple of the Lord!" Jer. 7:4. What avails it
that the Papists boast of their masses, their sackcloth, their
horse-hair blankets, their hard labors, their sweats, and the
magnitude, the multitude and even the price of their works? For God
regardeth not works, not even those commanded by himself, when they
are not done as the passage of Jeremiah just mentioned shows. Much
less does God regard those works which are invented of men without his
Word. He regards faith alone; that is, a trust in his mercy through
Christ. It is by this faith and this trust that the persons begin to
please God; then after this their works also please him. Hence it was
that the offering of Cain did not please God, because Cain having no
faith did not please him. On the contrary, the offering of Abel did
please God and that because of his faith; because he trusted neither
in his dignity, nor in his sacrifices themselves, nor in the work
which he performed; but trusted alone in the promise given of God
concerning the Seed of the woman.

The text before us therefore exactly applies to our doctrine
concerning justification, that a man must be righteous before all
works and be accepted of God without any works, through that grace
alone which his faith believes and apprehends. Nor does even faith
justify, as a work, but because it apprehends the mercy shown forth in
Christ. It is in this trust in the mercy of God that the true Church
walks, with a humble confession of her sins and unworthiness, while
she believes that God will pardon her through Christ.

And now the works which follow upon this trust in God's mercy are as
it were evidences and testimonies of the man's faith; and they please
God, not on account of themselves, but on account of the faith of the
person who offers them; or because he believes in the mercy of God
toward him. This faith the other church, the Cainite church, not only
has not, but ever persecutes it where she finds it. For she on the
contrary, like Cain, sets it down for a certainty that she shall
please God on account of her works. But God hates this pride; for he
can not endure such contempt of his grace and mercy, etc. This passage
of Scripture therefore is worthy our most careful consideration.


I. V. 5b. _And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell._

This and the few following clauses will give us a little grammatical
trouble. But I hope we shall make our way out of the difficulty
successfully. We have heard that Cain was disappointed in his hope. He
had despised his brother in comparison with himself, and had judged
that on account of the right of his primogeniture he should hold the
first place with God as he had done with his parents. The judgment of
God however was quite different from that of men. He showed that he
approved Abel, but rejected Cain.

The result was therefore that Cain was violently enraged against his
brother. For he could not endure with any patience that he should be
thus rejected and excommunicated, and deprived also at the same time
of his rule and priesthood. Just in the same manner also we see kings
and princes to be utterly impatient of the judgment of the Church. For
they are not satisfied with being kings and princes, they want to be
accounted also righteous and saints before God; and they will take to
themselves the name of "the Church." Exactly like these, Cain was
filled with indignation when he saw that the honor of righteousness
and grace before God was taken from him. For what else was this than
being cast out of the Church and excommunicated? And his indignation
at this dishonor was the greater in proportion to the measure in which
he judged himself degraded beneath his brother. For his thoughts were
these: "My brother will assuredly aspire to the headship and rule,
since he sees me thus despised and disregarded of God." And hence it
is that Moses uses the adverb "very wroth," by which form of
expression he would signify that Cain was vehemently offended because
he was thus ignominiously confounded in public before his whole
family; whereas he had always wished to appear the first among them.

This Cain-like wrath is just that rage which we see also in the
Cain-like Church of the pope. For what is there which gives the pope,
the cardinals, the kings and the princes greater offense than that I,
a poor beggar, set the authority of God above the authority of them
all, and that I condemn in the name of the Lord all those things which
are worthy such condemnation. They themselves also acknowledge that
there are many things which need rigid reformation. But that I, a
poor, obscure person, coming into public out of some obscure corner,
should presume to do this, is a thing which they consider to be beyond
all endurance. And therefore they put forth all their authority
against me and by the weight of that authority they attempt to crush

And most certainly there is not in the whole world a wrath more cruel
than that of this Church of hypocrisy and blood. For in all political
or civil rage there is some degree of humanity still left. No assassin
is led to execution, however savage his nature may be, with pity for
whom men are not in some measure touched. But when that false and
blood-thirsting Church falls upon a poor son of the true Church, she
is not satisfied with shedding his blood; she loads him also with her
curses and execrations, and devotes him to every ignominy and insult,
and even vents her rage upon his miserable, breathless corpse. Just
like the Jews, who were not content with having nailed Christ to the
cross, with the full purpose of not taking him down till he was dead,
but even while he was breathing out the last breath of his soul they
gave him in his thirst vinegar to drink mingled with gall. Such fury
as this is never found in political wrath!

The wrath therefore and the pharasaic fury of the false Church is a
fury in its very nature diabolical. This wrath began in Cain, and it
continues in all Cainites to this very day. And we can most truly
glory that we also have to endure with godly Abel, just such wrath as
this in our day. For who entertains a doubt, that if our bishops and
certain furious princes could do it, they would slaughter us all in
one moment? Who doubts that, if according to the prayers of the
notorious Roman emperor, we all together had but one neck, they would
with the greatest delight rush upon us sword in hand and cut off our
head? Only look at the councils of these later years and their
designs, and you will say that my testimony is true.

That which Moses adds, "And his countenance (_vultus_) 'appearances,'
'looks,' 'whole aspect,' fell," is a Hebrew expression; an expression
which not only represents the deed done, or the fact, but also implies
that the mind also was in such a state of commotion that it could not
rest; and that although Cain could do no further harm, yet his
wrathful will to do so was manifested by his countenance. He did not
lift up his fallen brow nor speak in a friendly voice to his parents
as before. And every answer he made them was rather a sullen murmur
than a natural utterance. He was struck pale at the first sight of his
brother after his offering, which God had accepted. And he showed by
the threatening looks of his eyes that his mind was burning with the
desire of revenge.

Moses expresses all this, when he says, "And his countenance fell;"
for he does not mean his countenance or visage only, nor merely one
part of his countenance; but he intends all his appearances, his whole
appearance; his every look, gesture and motion; in the same manner as
the apostle uses a Hebrew expression, when he says concerning charity
that it "doth not behave itself unseemly;" that is, doth not carry an
unseemly countenance, doth not contract its brow, doth not look with
anger or disdain, doth not wear a threatening aspect; but is of a free
and open visage, expressing with its eyes kindness and affection. For
the latter are becoming, but the former are unbecoming and indicative
of vice within. This clause therefore, "And his countenance fell,"
contains a particular description of the anger and hypocrisy of Cain.
He could neither look at his brother Abel, nor hear his voice, nor
speak to him, nor eat nor drink with him in rest or quietude of mind.

If any one desires to witness an example of this Cain-like wrath, let
him put himself in the presence of some Papist, who is seeking
distinguished praise for doctrine or piety in his day and generation;
and he will find that such an one is the subject of a rage against the
truth, perfectly diabolical; to which fury, if you compare the anger
of a judge, the latter will appear in comparison to be the greatest
kindness, mercy and open candor. For in the judge anger is merely a
duty; he is not angry with the person of the prisoner, but with his
crime. But the Cainite wrath fires and distorts the eyes, scowls the
brow, swells the cheeks with rage, and arms the hands. In a word, it
is evident in every part of the body and in its every gesture, and
that unceasingly. For it does not die away by time, as political or
domestic wrath does.

Next follows the fatherly and most grave admonition of Adam, who would
willingly have healed and saved his son if he could have done so. But
this wrath knows no medicine or cure. Neither Cain nor any Cainite
will hear either father or mother, or God Himself!

V. 6. _And Jehovah said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth, and why is thy
countenance fallen?_

All these circumstances plainly prove that the present was not the
first time that Cain had been confounded in this offering of his
sacrifice; but that from the hour of this sacrifice he had gone in
perturbation of mind, filled with sadness and gnashing his teeth; and
looking neither upon his father nor upon his mother without an evil
eye; affected just as we have already said that pharasaic rage affects
the whole man, and changes the whole visage and gesture. For Cain
considered it to be a great indignity that at a public sacrifice, and
in the midst of divine worship, and before the eyes of his father and
his mother, Abel whom he had always despised and whom even his parents
themselves had accounted a child of naught, should be preferred of God
to himself; and thus pronounced of God worthy the glory of the
kingship and the priesthood.

II. As soon therefore as he had fully shown that he was of a hostile
mind towards his brother, he receives from his father Adam the
admonition in our text. For my belief is, that these words are spoken
by Adam himself, and that Moses says they were spoken "by the Lord,"
because Adam had now been justified and had been gifted with the Holy
Spirit; and therefore those things which he now spoke by the Holy
Spirit according to the Word of God are rightly said by Moses to have
been spoken by God himself. Just as at the present day those who
preach the Gospel are not in reality themselves the preachers and
teachers, but Christ, who speaks and teaches in them and by them. And
most certainly these words are spoken by Adam with peculiar gravity
and intent; for he saw that his son could not patiently endure the
indignity put upon him; he saw him grieve over his lost superiority;
and he felt what havoc the Tempter might make in the corrupt nature of
his son, who had done such evil to himself and Eve, when in a state of
innocency and perfection. Adam therefore was filled with deep anxiety
and addressed his son with that solemn gravity of language, which
Moses records in the text. And although no one of the fathers has
explained that speech of Adam to his son Cain in a manner worthy its
gravity and importance; because perhaps none of them had sufficient
leisure from their ecclesiastical engagements; yet I will attempt to
move this stone of difficulty out of the way; and, as I hope and
think, not without some advantage to the truth.

V. 7a. _If thou doest well, shall it not be lifted up, (shall there
not be a remission,) and if thou doest not well, sin coucheth (lieth)
at the door._

I cannot sufficiently wonder how Moses was able to condense so mighty
a subject in so few words. Our translation does not properly express
the sense. And although Augustine was not altogether unacquainted with
the Hebrew language, yet his knowledge of it was not thorough; for he
renders this important text thus, "If thou offerest aright, and yet
dost not rightly divide the offering, thou hast sinned. Rest, and be
quiet." What such sins are those well acquainted with the Hebrew know.
Though the doctrine which Augustine deduces from his rendering of the
passage is theologically correct and good, the Septuagint translators
of the Hebrew seem also not to have been duly qualified for the
magnitude of the work they undertook. Wherefore, leaving for the
present both the translations and the opinions of all other
commentators, we will now strictly follow the proper sense of the
Hebrew in the text before us. That sense is the following, "If thou
doest well, there shall be remission, or alleviation; if thou doest
not well, sin lieth at the door," etc.

Moreover it is ordained by nature, as even the philosopher testifies,
that words should be made to serve things, and not things made
subservient to words. The sentiment of Hilary is well known, which a
certain master of sound opinions also thus cites: "Words ought ever to
be understood according to the matter contained in them, and intended
to be expressed by them." In every exposition or explanation of the
Scriptures therefore the subject-matter is first to be considered;
that is, we are first clearly to see the thing spoken of in each case.
When this is strictly done, then the words are to be brought to a due
application to the thing, if the grammatical laws of the language will
permit; but the things are never to be made to bend to the words. And
it is because the Rabbins and those who follow them do not this, for
they have lost the things, and so cleave hard to the words only, that
they often fall into the most absurd sentiments and opinions. For, as
they possess not thoughts worthy of those spiritual things, of which
the sacred Scriptures speak, they err from the subject-matter treated
in each case by the Word and draw the words after them into vain and
carnal cogitations.

But it is certain that the Jews have lost Christ; how then can they
possibly understand aright either the things of the Gospel or the
things of the Law? They know not what sin is, nor what grace is, nor
what righteousness is. How then should they be able to explain
successfully such passages of the Scriptures? Just so the Jews are in
general the "wise" or sophists of our day. For what sound knowledge
have they of such divine and mighty things as these! Being ignorant
therefore of the thing itself, how is it possible that they should
rightly understand the words of the Scriptures in which it is
expressed? And although a knowledge of the words is prior in order;
yet the knowledge of the things is better and more important. For if
you alter the things, the words also will be changed into another
sense to correspond with the altered things, and a new grammatical
construction altogether is the sure result.

Thus the great grammarian of Gerunda possesses an excellent knowledge
of the words, and indeed there are many in our day who far surpass me
in a critical knowledge of the Hebrew language, but because he
understands not the divine theme, he miserably corrupts this passage;
for he explains it thus: "If thou doest well thy offering shall be
more acceptable than that of thy brother, because thou art the
first-born." You here see that Gerundensis understands what the names
of the things are, but not the things themselves; what the term is,
but not what the matter is. For the very design of God in this text is
to show that he will have no regard to first birthship at all. How
then could the offering of Cain ever have been more acceptable to God
than that of Abel on account of his primogeniture? The author of the
Epistle to the Hebrews knew what the thing was, and therefore he gives
a very different statement of the sacred matter, namely, that it was
"by faith that Abel offered a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." The
rendering of Jerome is much better than that of Gerundensis. The
version of the former is, "If thou doest well, thou shalt receive; if
thou doest ill, sin (he adds the pronoun 'thine own sin') will lie at
the door." Yet, even thus Jerome does not reach the true sense. For
when he explains the verb SEETH as meaning "to receive," which really
signifies "to relieve," or "to alleviate," no one I think will approve
his rendering. But all this Jerome has from the Jews, who have always
been of the opinion that God would have rewarded Cain if he had
offered liberally. Now therefore I will simply state what my view of
this important passage is.

First of all then it is necessary, as I have said, that we hold fast
the divine matter in question. The divine matter then involved is that
which cannot deceive, as being the foundation of the whole divine
cause, that nothing pleases God unless it be done in faith, according
to that universally applicable and well known sentence of the Apostle
Paul, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin," Rom. 14:23. And Solomon
also says, "The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the
Lord," Prov. 15:8. The other great foundation of the cause of God is,
that sin is so mighty that it can be put away by no sacrifices, nor by
any works whatever, but by the mercy of God alone, which mercy must be
apprehended and received by faith. And all this is manifested and
shown to have been the good pleasure of God by the first promise
concerning the Seed of the woman, without which Seed there is no
redemption. Now these foundations the Rabbins possess not, for this
knowledge comes by the Spirit of Christ alone, who like the mid-sun
illumines all the darkness of nature and sin. Whatsoever therefore
militates against, or is contrary to, these foundations, we at once
reject as false and impious.

And although for myself I have no objection whether you understand
"sin" here as referring to the past sin, or to the future sin of Cain,
yet it seems to me better to understand it as referring to sin in
general. The force of the whole passage therefore lies in the Hebrew
verb SEETH from NASA, "be alleviated," or "lifted up," or "relieved."
And in this very case we have a remarkable example of the difference
between the name or term of the thing and the thing itself. For if you
apply the term to "lift up," or to "lift off," to a corporeal or solid
substance, it signifies "to elevate" or "to lift up on high;" as in
Isaiah, "I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted
up," Is. 6:1. But this is a very different signification of the Hebrew
verb from that which it expresses in the Psalm, "Blessed is the man
whose sins are 'lifted up' or 'lifted out,'" Ps. 32:1, and yet the
Hebrew verb is the same in each instance. Now, a common grammarian of
the Hebrew language understands the former meaning of the original
verb, but he is ignorant of its latter signification. For, "to lift up
a throne on high," is quite another thing from lifting up or lifting
off, sin from the conscience; that is, remitting or taking away sin.

Wherefore, the meaning is, "If thou hadst done well or if thou hadst
been good; that is, if thou hadst believed, thou wouldst have had God
favorable and merciful toward thee, and there would have been a true
alleviation to thee; that is, a remission of sin. But since I see that
God had not respect unto thee, it evidently follows that thou wert not
good in his sight; and that therefore thou wast not relieved from thy
sin; wherefore, thy sin remaineth."

However it is a most beautiful and striking similitude to make use of
the verb "to lift up" or "to lift off" in order to compare sin to a
heavy burden, under which Cain was so oppressed and prostrated, so
that unless it were taken off he could not draw his breath. And the
epistle to the Hebrews shows the manner in which we are released from
this burden, when it says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more
excellent sacrifice than Cain," Heb. 11:4.

By this mode of interpreting this important passage the words or the
grammatical construction perfectly agree with the matter contained in
them, which is, that God has respect unto faith only, and judges those
alone to be good who believe. And these words of Adam contain also a
most severe rebuke. Their meaning is, as if Adam had said to Cain,
"Thy pride has destroyed thee. Thou camest before God inflated with
the glory of thy primogeniture, and thoughtest that God would accept
thee on that account. But I clearly perceive by this judgment and
reprobation of God that thou art destitute of faith, for God rejects
none but the unbelieving."

Not one of the Rabbins explains the passage before us in this manner.
For they see not that Adam is here inculcating in his son, after the
manner of the Apostle Paul, that word of Christ in the Gospel, "He
that believeth shall be saved," Mark 16:16; and also that word of the
apostle himself, "Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by
faith without the deeds of the law," Rom. 3:28. For what else does
Adam here say to Cain, than that God is merciful to those who believe
in the blessed Seed, and who cast away all trust in their own works,
and all ideas of their own merit? For his meaning is, "If thou shalt
do this, thy sin shall not lie thus as a heavy burden upon thee. Thou
shalt be relieved of that load, nor shalt thou thus roar with rage;
for God has promised that he will not impute sin to any one that

If therefore you refer these words to the past sin of Cain, they
contain also a most grave fatherly admonition. Their import is, as if
Adam had said, "Hitherto thou hast not believed and therefore thou art
thus rejected; and if thou shalt still go on thus, thou wilt be cast
off utterly. But if thou shalt do well or become good, that is, if
thou shalt believe in the promised Seed, I take upon myself to assure
thee that the result will be that thou shalt be relieved of thy burden
of sin;" that is, as the Psalm interprets this expression of Adam,
"sin shall not be imputed unto thee," Ps. 32:2.

The clause which follows, thy "sin lieth at the door," is a figurative
description of sin, which for my part I should prefer understanding as
being used as a proverb. For this figure exactly describes the real
nature of sin, showing that, while in the act, it lies like a beast
dead asleep; it does not bite, nor terrify, nor torment, but rather
fawns and pleases. Thus when Eve first and afterwards Adam ate the
forbidden apple in paradise they did not think that God had seen it,
much less did they think that both should be so bitterly punished for
what they had done. So also ferocious beasts, when they are just
satisfied with food, are more tractable and more inclined to sleep
than to harm. In the same manner also sin, while it is in the act, is
delightful, nor is its poison or pain felt; it rather lies down and
goes to sleep. For whoever saw a miser to be racked with pain while an
opportunity of great gain stood before him? Whoever knew an adulterer
to grieve at the opportunity given him of gratifying his wishes? If
thou hadst at that moment torn his skin with a scourge, or beaten his
head with a mallet, the temptation would have vanished. But while sin
is asleep and its punishment unfelt and unseen, it is the height of
pleasure to the miser to rush upon his gain, and to the adulterer to
possess the object of his sinful desires; nor does there seem to be,
nor does he wish for, any end or any bound to his pleasure.

Adam is speaking therefore in this passage not only of the sin of
Cain, but of sin in general; showing what the real nature of sin is.
For that which was the state of Cain is the state of all men. Before
he offered his sacrifice Cain proudly boasted of the privileges of his
primogeniture; he despised his brother and assumed to himself the
first place in all things. Sin was then lying still and asleep; but it
was "lying at the door;" that is, in a place or state in which it was
likely to be disturbed. For it is by "the door" that we go in and out,
and therefore a place by no means adapted for a long sleep. And this
is also the very nature of sin. Although it does lie asleep, yet it
lies in a place where it is not likely to sleep long, for Christ says,
"There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed," Math. 10:26.
The wicked man thinks indeed that his sin is asleep and hidden; but it
lieth asleep at "the door," and at length it is awakened by
conviction, brought to light, and made known: for "at the door," and
rest and sleep are things directly opposed to each other. For as
darkness is opposite to light, so is sleep to an unquiet place; they
are things contradictory to each other in their very nature. In this
manner therefore may the present passage be interpreted in its
reference to Cain's past sin.

And if you explain these same words in their reference to the future
sin of Cain, their meaning is this, "If thou shalt harm thy brother,
and indulge the wrath conceived in thy mind, I tell thee that thy sin
will indeed lie asleep; but it will lie asleep at the door; that is,
in a place where it will surely be disturbed; and therefore, it is
impossible but that it must be awoke and roused up, when as a furious
beast it will lay hold upon thee." And so the event proved. For after
Cain had committed the murder, while he was burying his brother alone,
his sin was asleep. But how long? No longer than until the sound of
that voice of God reached his ears, "Where is Abel, thy brother?" The
present words of Adam therefore are a true description of all sin. It
always "lieth at the door." For such is the nature of the minds of
men, that as long as they escape the eyes of men, they think their sin
will lie hidden and unknown. But unless they do well; that is, unless
they believe that God will pardon their sin through Christ, it will
surely be awakened and revealed to their torment and destruction.

The figurative proverb therefore which lies in these words of Adam
contains the most solemn truth, that nothing remains hidden, but that
all things are revealed and made known, as the Apostle Paul also says,
"Some men's sins are evident, going before unto judgment," 1 Tim.
5:24. Hence we see the judgment of God in an especial manner in the
cases of criminals. How many persons are murdered in secret and yet
the authors of those unnatural and horrible crimes are brought to
light by means the most wonderful. The grave admonition therefore of
Adam to his son Cain is that he would guard against indulging in sin,
resting fully assured that it would not remain hidden, but that God
would certainly bring it to light and punish it. The poets of old did
not wander far from this great truth when they represented Cupid, the
god of lustful desire, naked but blind also. For as our sin seems to
us to be hidden, we think that it is hidden from all others also. But
God at length brings to light and reveals things the most deeply

I believe therefore the meaning of these words of Adam, which I have
thus given, is their true and simple sense. By them the father is
admonishing the son to believe in God and in the promised Seed;
assuring him that if he does so, God will show himself merciful unto
him. But, says the father, if thou follow the lusts of thy heart, thy
sin will indeed lie at rest in thy soul; that is, it will appear to
thee to be concealed and hidden, but it will be lying all the time "at
the door;" that is, in a place where it cannot lie long asleep or out
of sight. For that which "lieth at the door" is beheld by all who
enter in and by all who go out.

Let us not forget however, as I before observed, the grand and
principal truth taught by this portion of the Holy Scriptures, that
God from the very beginning of the world is One who judgeth between
the flesh and the spirit, and who respecteth not the dignity of the
person or his works. For God hath here respect unto Abel, not moved by
any work which he performed, but simply by his faith in which he
offered his sacrifice. But unto Cain God had not respect; not because
the offering of Cain was less splendid or sumptuous than that of Abel,
but because he had not faith, and therefore his primogeniture profited
him nothing.

And this is a very powerful argument against the Jews, who, as John
tells us, gloried in their race and descent, boasting that they were
the children of Abraham, John 8:33. If therefore the honor and
prerogative were anything in God's sight, Cain certainly had wherein
to glory. And what avails also the glorying of the Jews that God spoke
unto them by Moses? Are we to conclude, think you, that Adam, the
first teacher, was a teacher less than Moses? No! Adam was greater
than Moses and superior to him in many respects. He did not teach like
Moses circumcision, nor the other legal ceremonies, which were
necessary to a stiff-necked people to prevent them from superstition,
but Adam taught faith in the promised Seed, which should bruise the
serpent's head. All the primogeniture of Cain therefore and all his
other privileges and his works profited him nothing; for God had
respect only to faith in the promised Seed. Hence it is that Paul
plainly says to the Jews in the New Testament, "Know therefore that
they that are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham," Gal.
3:7. And Evangelist John says the same things concerning the Jewish
people, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become
the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were
born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of
man, but of God," John 1:12, 13.

I believe therefore that the above interpretation of the words of Adam
is their original and true meaning. For, first of all, it is in
perfect accord with the fundamental truth of the holy Scripture and
with the sacred matter itself spoken of. And secondly, it does not
violate any law of grammar, and it moreover tends to illustrate
beautifully and variously by its figures the divine things contained
in the words used by Adam. But the Rabbins, being ignorant of the
things spoken of by Adam, are not at all helped out of the difficulty
by all their knowledge of the terms employed in the patriarch's
speech. How absurd for instance is the opinion of some, who apply the
expression, There shall be a "lifting up" to the "fallen countenance"
of Cain. As if Adam had said, "Then thou shalt be able again to lift
up thy countenance, which is now wholly changed and fallen." These
absurdities are indeed properly noticed by all our more recent
commentators, to whom also our thanks are due, for their faithful
labor in translating the original text grammatically. But true
theology is indispensable, which alone can rightly judge of and
rightly teach the things spoken of in the Holy Scripture.

V. 7b. _And unto thee shall be its desire, but do thou rule over it._

Some men have most absurdly wrested this passage to prove by it free
will. But it is perfectly evident that Adam does not here really
affirm that Cain could do what he advised him to do. He is only
admonishing or entreating him to do it. For it by no means follows
that we can do what we are commanded to do. "The desire of sin," Adam
here says to Cain, "shall be toward thee;" that is, as Paul expresses
it, "Sin is in thy members," Rom. 7:5. Again, "The flesh lusteth
against the spirit," Gal. 5:17. "But thou shalt not be eternally
condemned, because thou feelest this motion of sin in thy members. If
sin entice thee, do thou rule over it by faith. Suffer it not to rule
over thee, or thou shalt perish for ever." Likewise Paul commands in
Rom. 8:13, "By the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body."

This part of Adam's speech therefore is intended to bring us to
acknowledge what the life of the godly in the flesh is: namely, that
it is a perpetual struggle of the spirit against sin. Those therefore
who sleep and snore, and prepare themselves not for this fight, are
easily vanquished. Adam however appears to wish, by this his speech
not only to admonish his son to guard against sin in the future, but
also to comfort and lift him up from his distress on account of the
past; for he beholds his son both filled with anguish on account of
the divine rejection and now also tempted to revenge. But says Adam to
his son, "Rule over thy sin, and thou shalt find God merciful. Believe
in him, and he will pardon thy sin."

The Hebrew verb in this passage is MASCHAL; the same as that which the
Lord used above when he said unto the woman, 3:16, "And thy desire
shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." In these words
the meaning of the Lord is, that the wife should obey the husband and
listen to her husband, and that she should not take upon herself the
judgment in all things; and that if she did so, the husband in his
authority as the man, should rebuke and prevent her. It is in the same
manner that Adam here speaks to Cain, saying to him, "Sin will entice
thee and prompt thee to revenge." This is the father's meaning, when
he says, "And its desire shall be toward thee; but do thou say unto
sin, I will not obey thee. Refrain thyself and rule over it." These
words of Adam therefore contain an admonition full of consolation,
showing that on account of the blessed Seed we are no longer under
sin, and that therefore we ought to rule over it. For Adam's speech
embraces both doctrines; the doctrine of the fear of the Lord and the
doctrine of faith. We ought to fear God, because "sin lieth at the
door," and we ought to have faith in God because he is merciful.


I. V. 8a. _And Cain told (talked with) Abel his brother._

Our translation has it, "And Cain said to Abel, his brother," adding
the words, "Let us go out doors." But this is one of the inventions of
the Rabbins, to whom how much credit is to be given, I have fully
shown. Lyra, following the invention of Eben Ezra, relates that Cain
told his brother how severely he had been rebuked of the Lord. But who
would believe that for which there is no authority in the Scriptures?
We hold therefore to that meaning of the text which the Scriptures
plainly show to be its true sense, that Cain, being reprobated or
rejected of God, indulged his wrath, and that he now added to his
former sins, contempt of his parents and of the Word, thinking thus
within himself, "The promised Seed of the woman belongs to me as the
first-born. But my brother, Abel, that contemptible one and that one
of naught, is evidently preferred to me by the divine authority
itself, manifested by the fire from heaven consuming his sacrifice.
What shall I do, therefore? I will dissemble my wrath until an
opportunity of taking vengeance shall occur."

The words therefore, "And Cain spoke to Abel his brother," I
understand as meaning that Cain, dissembling his anger, conducted
himself toward Abel as toward a brother, and that he spoke to him and
conversed with him, as if he bore with a quiet mind the divine
rejection he had just experienced, and the sentence of God thus
pronounced against him. It was in this manner also that Saul
dissembled his wrath, who likewise pretended a benevolent mind and
good-will toward David. "I know well," said Saul, "that thou shalt
surely be king," 1 Sam. 24:20; and yet he was all the while thinking
of the way in which, having killed David, he might prevent his being
king. Just in the same way did Cain now converse in dissimulation with
Abel his brother, saying to him, I see that thou art chosen of the
Lord. I envy thee not this divine blessing, etc., etc. This is the
very manner of hypocrites. They pretend friendship until an
opportunity of doing the harm they intend presents itself.

That such is the true sense of the passage all the circumstances
clearly show. For if Adam and Eve could have gathered the least
suspicion of the intended murder, think you not that they would either
have restrained Cain or removed Abel, and placed the latter out of
danger? But as Cain had altered his countenance and his carriage
toward his brother, and had talked with him in a brotherly manner they
thought all was safe, and the son had bowed to and acquiesced in the
admonition of his father. This outward appearance and carriage
deceived Abel also, who, if he had feared anything like murder from
his brother, would doubtless have fled from him, as Jacob fled from
Esau when he feared his brother's wrath. What therefore could possibly
have come into the mind of Jerome, when he believed the Rabbins, who
say that Cain was here expostulating with his brother?

Wherefore Cain is here the image and the picture of all hypocrites and
murderers, who under the show of godliness slaughter the good. For
Cain thus being besieged by Satan covers his wrath, waiting the
opportunity to slay his brother Abel; meanwhile he converses with him,
as a brother beloved, that he might the sooner lay his hands upon him

This passage therefore is intended for our instruction; that we may
learn to understand the ways of murderers and hypocrites. For thus it
truly always comes to pass that every Cain talks with his brother, as
Cain of old talked brotherly with Abel; and on the other hand also,
every Abel trusts in every Cain, as a brother would trust a brother;
and thus he is murdered, and the pious parents meanwhile are deceived.

Just so the Pope and the bishops of this day talk and consult much
concerning the peace and the concord of the Church. But he is most
assuredly deceived who does not understand all these councils directly
the contrary. For true is that word of the Psalm, "The workers of
iniquity speak peace to their neighbors, but mischief is in their
hearts," Ps. 28:3. For the very nature of all hypocrites is, that they
carry an appearance of goodness, speak friendly to you, pretend
humility, patience, and charity, and give alms, etc.; and yet, they
are all the while planning slaughter in their heart.

Let us learn therefore by this history to know a Cain, and to guard
best against him when he speaks the most friendly, and as a brother to
a brother. For it is in this way that our adversaries, the bishops and
the Pope, talk with us in our day, while they pretend a desire for
concord and peace, and seek reconciliation of doctrines; whereas if an
opportunity of seizing us and executing their rage upon us should
present itself, you would soon hear them speak in a very different
tone. For all the time there is death in the pot, 2 Kings 4:40; and
under the best and sweetest words there lies concealed a deadly

V. 8b. _And it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain
rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him._

Here then you see the deceptiveness under the above dissembled
conversation of Cain with his brother. Cain had been admonished by his
father with divine authority to guard against sin in the future and to
expect pardon for the past through the promised Seed. But Cain
despises both admonitions and indulges in his sin, as all the wicked
do. For true is the saying of Solomon, "When the wicked cometh, there
cometh also contempt, and with ignominy cometh reproach," Prov. 18:3.

Just in the same manner our ministry of the Word at the present day
deserves no blame. We teach, we exhort, we rebuke, we turn ourselves
every way, that we may recall the multitude from the security of sin
to the fear of God. But the world, like an untamed beast, still goes
on and follows not the Word, but its own lusts, which it strives to
palliate under the appearance of what is honest and right. The
prophets and the apostles also stand before us as examples of the same
labor in vain, and we also are taught the same by our own experience.
Our adversaries being so often admonished and convicted know they are
doing wrong, and yet they lay not aside their murderous hatred against

From the case of Cain therefore learn what a hypocrite is; namely, one
who pretends to the worship of God and charity, and yet at the very
same time destroys the worship of God and slaughters his brother. And
all this semblance of good-will is only intended to create the better
opportunities of doing the harm designed. For if Abel had foreseen the
implacable wrath and the truly diabolical fury of his brother, he
might have saved his life by flight. But as Cain betrayed nothing of
this kind while he talked with his brother in seeming affection and
put on the appearance of his usual good-will, Abel perished before he
felt the fear of danger.

There is no doubt that Abel, when he saw his brother rising up against
him, entreated and implored him not to pollute himself with this awful
sin. But a mind thus beset by sin pays no regard to prayers, nor heeds
uplifted hands. Just as Cain therefore had despised the admonition of
his father; so now also he equally despises his brother, fallen on his
knees before him.

These things instruct us in that cruel tyranny of Satan, under which
our nature when involved in sins is bound. Hence Paul calls such, "The
children of wrath," Eph. 2:3; and declares that such are "taken
captive by Satan at his will," 2 Tim. 2:26. For when we are mere men;
that is, when we apprehend not the blessed Seed by faith, we are all
like Cain, and nothing is wanting but an opportunity to murder our
brother. For nature, destitute of the Holy Spirit, is driven by that
same evil spirit by which Cain was driven to murder. Whereas if there
were in any one those sufficient powers or that free-will of which men
talk, by which a man might defend himself against the assaults of
Satan, these gifts of nature would most assuredly have existed in
Cain, to whom belonged the first birth-right and the promise of the
blessed Seed. But it was not so. And the condition of all men is the
same. Unless nature be helped by the Spirit of God, it cannot uphold
itself nor stand. Then why do we vainly and absurdly boast of
free-will? Now follows another remarkable passage.

II. V. 9. _And Jehovah said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And
he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?_

Good God! into what depth of sin does our miserable nature fall, when
driven onward by the devil. At last murder was committed on a brother.
And perhaps murdered Abel lay for days unburied. When therefore Cain
returned to his parents at the accustomed time, and Abel returned not
with him, the anxious parents said to him, Cain, thou art here, but
where is Abel? Thou art returned home, but Abel is not returned. The
flock is without their shepherd. Tell us therefore where thy brother
is? Upon this, Cain, growing indignant, makes answer to his parents,
by no means with due reverence, "I know not: Am I my brother's

But it happened to Cain as to all the wicked, that by _ex_cusing he
_ac_cused himself. Agreeably also to the words of Christ our Lord,
"From thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked servant," Math.
18:32. The heathen had also a striking proverb among them, "A liar
ought to have a good memory." Such was the judgment of heathen men,
though they knew nothing of the judgment of God and of conscience, and
were capable of judgment and giving admonition concerning natural and
civil things only. And true it is that liars expose themselves to many
dangers of detection, and betray many facts, by which they may be
convicted and refuted. Hence the Germans have this proverb, "A lie is
a very fruitful thing." For one lie begets seven other lies, which
become necessary to establish the first lie, and to make it wear the
face of truth. And yet it is impossible after all to prevent
conscience from betraying itself at times, if not in words then in
countenance and gesture. This will be proved by numberless examples
hereafter. I will cite one example here.

In Thuringia there is a small town in the district of Orla, called
Neustadt. In this town a harlot had murdered her infant, to which she
had secretly given birth, and had thrown it, after the murder, into a
neighboring fish-pond. By a singular occurrence a portion of the linen
in which she had wrapped the infant brought the horrid deed to light,
and the case was brought before the magistrate; and as the simple men
of the place knew no better means of investigating the crime in order
to discover its author, they called all the young women of the town
into the town-hall and closely examined them all, one by one. The
judgment concerning all the rest was quite manifest, and it was
evident that they were all innocent. But when they came to her who was
the real perpetrator of the deed she did not wait for the questions to
be put to her, but immediately declared aloud that she was not the
guilty person. This declaration at once caused the magistrate to
suspect that she really was the author of the deed, because she was
more anxious than all the rest to clear herself from any suspicion.
Therefore she was seized by the constables and forthwith suffered

Indeed examples of the same kind are infinite and occur daily, showing
that where persons are most anxious to _ex_cuse themselves, they most
effectually _ac_cuse and betray themselves. So true is that word which
we have just before heard that sin does indeed lie asleep and
concealed, but it lies "at the door."

Just so in the present case. Cain thinks that he has made an effectual
excuse for himself, by saying that he was not his brother's keeper;
whereas, by the very mention of his brother's name, he at once
confesses that he ought to have been his younger brother's keeper. And
then again does he not, by the same admitted confession, that he ought
to have been his brother's keeper, accuse himself of being of a
hostile mind towards his brother? And does he not moreover strike into
the mind of his parents a surmise of the murder committed? For Abel
nowhere appears and is not to be found. Just so also Adam excuses
himself in paradise, and lays all the blame on Eve. But this excuse of
Cain is far more idle and absurd; for while he excuses his sin he
doubles it. Whereas on the contrary, the free confession of sin finds
mercy and appeases wrath. It is recorded in the history of St. Martin
that when he was pronouncing to some notorious sinners the pardon of
their sins, he was rebuked by Satan, who asked him why he did so; to
whom St. Martin is said to have replied, "Why I would pronounce the
pardon even of thy sins, if thou wouldst say from thy heart, I repent
that I have sinned against the Son of God, and I pray to God to pardon
me for the same." But the devil never does this. For he persists in
and defends his sin.

All liars and hypocrites imitate Cain their father in his lie, by
either denying their sin, or excusing it. Hence they cannot find
pardon of their sins from God. And we see the same in domestic life.
By the defense of wrong doing, anger is increased. For whenever the
wife, or the children, or the servants have done wrong, and deny or
excuse their wrong doing, the father of the family is the more moved
to wrath; whereas, on the contrary, plain confession always meets
pardon or a lighter punishment. But it is the very nature of
hypocrites to excuse and palliate their sin, or to deny it altogether,
and under the show of religion to slay the innocent.

But here let us take a view of the manner in which sins follow each
other and increase more and more. First of all Cain sins by
presumption and unbelief. When priding himself on the privilege of his
first birth-right, he takes it for granted that he shall be accepted
of God on the ground of his high merit as the eldest son. Upon this
pride and this glory of self-righteousness immediately follow the envy
and hatred of his brother, whom he sees preferred before himself by a
certain sign from heaven. Upon this envy and hatred follow hypocrisy
and lying. He talks with his brother in dissembled affection, whom he
all the while designs to murder, and whom by his affectionate
conversation he throws the more effectually off his guard. Upon this
hypocrisy follows murder. Upon this murder follows a lying excuse to
cover his awful sin. And the last stage of the whole sin is despair
and desperation; and this last step is the fall from heaven to hell!

And although Adam and Eve in paradise did not deny their sin, yet they
confessed it quite coldly, and shifted it from the one to the other.
Adam laid it on Eve, and Eve laid it on the serpent. But Cain went
further than them both, for he not only did not confess the murder he
had committed, but declared that he had nothing to do with the care of
his brother. And did not this speech at once prove that his mind was
in a state of hostility against his brother? Though therefore Adam and
Eve confessed their sin with only half their hearts, yet they had some
claim to pardon, and they were punished with less severity
accordingly. But Cain, because he denied his sin determinately, was
rejected, and fell into despair.

And the same judgment awaits all our Cainite popes, cardinals and
bishops, who although they plan in their minds plots of murder against
us, yet say like Cain their father, "I know not: Am I my brother's

There was a common proverb of old, "What is it to the Romans that the
Greeks die?" So we think that our dangers and calamities only belong
to ourselves. But how does this principle agree with the commandment
of God? For his will is, that we should all live together, and be to
each other as brethren? Cain therefore by this very saying of his
heavily accuses himself when he makes the excuse that the custody of
his brother was no matter of his. Whereas if he had said to his
father, "Alas, my father, I have slain Abel, my brother. I repent of
the deed I have done. Return upon me what punishment thou wilt." Had
he thus spoken, there might have been room for a remedy; but as he
denied his sin and contrary to the will of God cast off the charge of
his brother altogether, there was no place left for mercy or favor.

Moreover Moses has arranged all this narrative thus particularly and
remarkably on purpose that it might be a testimony and memorial of all
hypocrites, that he might, by his peculiar manner of recording the
solemn facts, graphically paint forth what hypocrites really are, and
that he might show how awfully they are seized upon by Satan as his
instruments, and inflamed by him against God and against his Word and
his Church. It was not enough for his murderer that he had killed his
brother contrary to the command of God, but he adds to that sin the
further sin that, when God inquires of him concerning his brother, he
becomes filled with indignation and rage. I say when God inquires of
him, because, although it was Adam who spoke these words to his son
Cain, yet he spoke them by the authority of God and by the Holy
Spirit. In so awful a sin therefore was it not a most kind and gentle
manner of expression to inquire, "Where is Abel thy brother?" And yet
to this voice, which contained in it nothing severe, the hypocrite and
the murderer grows so ferocious and proud that he replies, "I know
not: Am I my brother's keeper?" And he is fired with indignation that
he should be called to an account concerning the matter at all. For
the reply of Cain is the reply of a spirit of resistance and
indignation against God.

But to this sin Cain adds a worse sin still. For when he ought to have
fallen under this accusation of having committed the murder, he
himself at once turns round and accuses God and expostulates with him:
"Am I my brother's keeper?" He prefaces his reply with no expression
of reverence or honor, though due both to God and to his father. He
did not say, "Lord, I know not." He did not say, "My Father, didst
thou make me the keeper of my brother?" Such expressions as these
would have indicated feeling of reverence towards God or towards his
parent. But he answers as being Lord himself and plainly manifests
that he felt indignant at being called to account even by him who had
the high right even to call him to that account.

And this is a true picture of all hypocrites. When standing in the
most manifest sins they grow full of insolence and pride, and aim all
the while at appearing most righteous persons. They will not believe
even God himself when rebuking them by his Word. Nay, they set
themselves against God, contend with him and excuse their sin. Thus
David says, "that God is judged of men, but that at length he clears
and justifies himself, and prevails," Ps. 51:4. This is that insolence
of hypocrites which Moses here paints.

But how does this attempt of Cain succeed. Thus while he uses every
means to _ex_cuse himself, he most powerfully _ac_cuses himself. Thus
Christ says, "Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked
servant," Luke 19:22. Now, this servant wished to appear without
guilt, saying, "For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man:
Thou takest up that which thou layest not down, and reapest that which
thou didst not sow: therefore I hid thy talent in a napkin," verses 20
and 21. Now, what _ex_cuses more plausible than these could the wicked
servant adopt? Yet by what means more effectual could he _ac_cuse
himself? For Christ at once uses his own very words against this
wicked servant, and condemns him out of his own mouth. And this is the
very way and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Such examples are profitable to us that we may learn not to contend
with God. On the contrary therefore when thou feelest in thine own
conscience that thou art guilty, take heed with all thy soul that thou
contend neither with God nor with men by defending or excusing thy
sin. Rather do this, When thou seest God points his spear at thee,
flee not from him; but on the contrary flee to him with humble
confession of thy sin, and with prayer for his pardon. Then will God
draw back his spear and spare thee. But when by the denial and excuse
of thy sin thou fleest farther and farther from him, the nearer is God
to thee as an enemy and the more closely and hotly does he pursue thee
as such. Nothing therefore is better or safer for thee than to come to
him at once with the confession of thy fault. For thus it comes to
pass that, when God conquers us, we also conquer by him.

But Cain and hypocrites do not this. God points his spear at them, but
they do not humble themselves before him nor pray to him for pardon.
Nay, they even point their spear at God, just as Cain did on this
occasion. Cain does not say, "Lord, I confess that I have killed my
brother; forgive me." On the contrary, though being the accused, he
himself accuses God by replying, "Am I my brother's keeper?" And what
was the effect of his pride? By it he openly confessed that he cared
naught for the divine laws, which say, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor
as thyself," Lev. 19:18. And again, "Do not unto another that which
you would not have another do unto you," Math. 7:12. These laws were
not first written, nor only written, in the Decalogue, but they were
inscribed in the minds of all men by nature. Yet Cain not only acted
directly against these laws, but showed that he cared naught for them,
nay, that he absolutely despised them.

In this way therefore Cain stands the picture, as we have said, not
only of a wicked man, but of a man the most wicked, who, though a
murderer, is yet a hypocrite wishing to appear a saint; being all the
time one more prepared to accuse God than to appear worthy of
accusation. And this is what all hypocrites do. They blaspheme God and
crucify his Son, and yet wish to appear righteous. For after their
murders, blasphemies and all other sins their whole aim is to seek
means whereby to excuse and palliate the great sins they have
committed. But the result always is that they only betray themselves
and are condemned out of their own mouths.

While Cain here studies to render himself quite pure in appearance, he
most effectually and foully defiles himself. He thinks he has made a
most plausible excuse, when he says, "Am I my brother's keeper?" But
this very excuse becomes his most effectual accusation. And thus
according to the saying of Hilary, "Wickedness is ever closely
accompanied by folly." And so it was in the case of Cain. Had he been
as wise as he was wicked, he would have excused himself in quite a
different manner. But since God has ordained that wickedness should
thus be ever accompanied by folly, Cain's excuse becomes his plain
accusation. And for this very reason: The defense of truth against her
adversaries is always easy. For Cain thus testified, both by his words
and by his gestures, that he cared not for his brother, but hated him;
so all wicked men by various means ever betray their wickedness. By
the example of Cain therefore things the most important and the most
instructive are set before us; all of them tending to show that God
suffers not hypocrites to remain long undiscovered, but that he
compels them to convict themselves by those very means by which they
craftily strive to conceal their hypocrisy and their sin.

Moses does not in this description use a multitude of words, according
to the practice of the world in general; for these in setting forth a
subject embellish it with various striking ornaments of figure and
speech. But we know by experience, that the real feelings of the mind
cannot be fully described by the paintings of any human eloquence. And
indeed an abundance of words only makes the affection of the mind
described to appear less than it is in reality. Moses therefore acts
quite differently. By the use of a very few words he discloses a great
abundance of subject-matter.

The divine historian above used the expression, "And when they were in
the field." Here Moses indicates that the murderer Cain had watched
his opportunity; that when alone he might attack his brother, when
also alone. And all the connected circumstances plainly show that Abel
was not then unemployed, for he was in the field, where he had to do
the things his father had given him to do. Here Moses moreover shows
that Abel's parents were free from all fear of danger. For although
from the beginning they had feared that the wrath of Cain would
eventually break out into some still greater sin; yet, by his
compliance and kindness, and by his pretended affection, he prevented
all suspicion of evil from remaining in the minds of his parents. For
had there been the least apprehension of evil still existing, they
certainly would not have permitted Abel to go from their presence with
Cain alone. They would have caused his sisters to go with him as
companions, for some sisters he no doubt had. Or his parents
themselves would have prevented by their presence and authority the
perpetration of so great a wickedness. And as I said, the mind of Abel
was perfectly free from all suspicion. For had he suspected evil at
the hand of his brother in the least degree, he would doubtless have
sought safety by flight. But after he had heard and seen, as he
thought, that Cain bore the judgment of God patiently and did not envy
his brother the high honor which God had bestowed upon him, he pursued
his work in the field with all security.

What orator could describe with eloquence equal to its importance the
real nature of that act of Cain, which Moses expresses in these few
words? "And Cain rose up against his brother." Many descriptions of
awful cruelty exist in books on every side, but no description of
cruelty could paint it in a more atrocious and execrable light than
the picture drawn by the few words of Moses, when he simply says, Cain
"rose up against" his brother Abel. As if he had said, Cain rose up
against Abel, the only brother he had, with whom he had been brought
up and with whom he had lived in the one only family upon earth up to
that day; all which family communion he utterly forgot, and not only
so, but he forgot their common parents also. The greatness of the
grief which he would cause his parents by such a grave crime never
entered his mind. He never thought that Abel was a brother, from whom
he had never received any offense whatever. For Cain knew that the
honor of the more acceptable sacrifice which Abel had offered,
proceeded not from any intent or ambition in him, but from the will
and doing of God himself. In a word Cain did not consider in what
position he himself would be; that by this wicked deed, he who had
hitherto stood in the highest favor with his parents would lose that
favor altogether and would fall under their deepest indignation.

It is recorded in history that when a painter, who was painting the
story of Iphigenia, on the point of being sacrificed to Diana by her
father, had given to each one of the surrounding spectators his
appropriate countenance, with a latitude of art which might best
express his pain and sorrow, he at length came to the father himself,
who was also a spectator; but feeling convinced that no art of the
painter could adequately represent his feelings and countenance, he
covered his head with a mantle.

Moses I think does the same thing in the present passage, when he uses
the verb YAKAM, "Rose up against." What tragical pictures would the
eloquence of Cicero or Livy have here drawn, while they were
strikingly portraying the wrath of the one brother, and the dread, the
cries, the prayers, the tears, the uplifted hands, and all the horrors
of the other; applying to the description all the power of their mind
and language? But such feelings cannot be fully described by all these
powers of eloquence. Moses therefore writes most appropriately, when
he sets forth things so inexpressible by mere dots, as it were, in
order that by his few words the feelings of the reader may be engaged
to meditate on the facts the more closely and deeply for himself. For
the vain attraction of words is like paint applied to natural beauty;
it only mars and spoils the force of the reality.

Of the same expressive character are the few words which he next adds,
"And slew him." He does not by those few words represent a common
murder, such as we see committed by men in general; for they sometimes
kindle quarrels from the most trifling causes and commit murders in
the end. Such murderers however immediately after the murder is
committed are filled with distress; they grieve for the deed they have
done and acknowledge those delusions of the devil by which he blinded
their minds. But Cain felt no distress; he expressed no grief, but
denied the deed he had done. This satanic and insatiable hatred in
hypocrites is described by Christ by saying, "When they kill you, they
will think that they do God service," John 16:2. So the priests and
the kings filled Jerusalem with the blood of the prophets and gloried
in what they did, as if their deeds were great and successful
exploits; for they considered such murders as proofs of their zeal for
the law and the house of God.

And the furious cruelty of the popes and the bishops in our day is
just the same. They are not satisfied with having excommunicated us
again and again, and with having shed our blood, but they wish to blot
out our memory from the land of the living; according to the
description of such hatred expressed in the words of the Psalm, "Rase
it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof," Ps. 137:7. These
instances of hatred are satanic, not human; for all forms of human
hatred grow into mildness by time; and after we have avenged the
offense and pain given, the hatred at length ceases. But these
instances of pharisaic hatred increase in virulence day by day; and
for this very reason, because they are justified under the cloak of
religion and godly zeal. Cain therefore is the father of all
murderers, who slaughter the saints and whose wrath knows no end, as
long as there remains one saint for them to kill. All this is proved
by the example even of the crucified Christ himself. For as to Cain,
there is no doubt of his having hoped that by putting Abel to death,
he should still hold the high honor of his first birth-right. And in
the same way the ungodly always think that their cruelty will profit
them in some way. But when they find that their hope is vain they at
once fall like Cain into despair.

Now when the fact of this atrocious murder was made known to the
parents, what do we think must have been the dreadful feelings which
it excited? What the lamentation? What sighs and groans it caused? But
I dwell not on these things; they are rather scenes for the eloquent
and able orator to describe. I will only observe that it was a marvel
that both parents were not struck lifeless with pain and grief. For
the calamity was rendered the greater by the fact that their
first-born, who had created in them such large hopes concerning
himself, was the perpetrator of such a horrible murder. If therefore
Adam and Eve had not been helped from above, they could never have
surmounted this family calamity; for it was a catastrophe exceeding
all catastrophes the world has ever known. And hence Adam and Eve were
without that consolation which we may have under sudden and unexpected
calamities, which consolation is that like evils have befallen others
and have not come upon us alone. But our first parents had two sons
only, though I believe that they had daughters also; and therefore
they had not the many examples before them which are always before our

Who can doubt however that Satan by this new kind of temptation in
Cain increased greatly the grief and trial of our first parents? For
they no doubt thought, Behold this is all our sin. We, when in
paradise, wished to become like God; but by our sin we are become like
the devil. The very same thing has befallen us, in the case of our
son. We loved this son alone, and made everything of him. Our other
son Abel was righteous before us, above this son; but of his
righteousness we made nothing. This elder son we hoped would be he who
should crush the serpent's head; but behold! he himself is crushed by
the serpent! Nay, he himself is become like the serpent, for he is now
a murderer. And whence is this? Is it not because he was born of us,
and because we through our sin are what we are? Therefore it is from
our flesh, therefore it is from our sin, that this calamity has broken

It is very probable therefore, and the events of the series of years
which followed confirm this probability, that the sorrowing parents,
struck with the awfulness of this calamity, abstained for a long time
from connubial intercourse. For it appears that when Cain committed
this murder he was about thirty years of age, more or less. During
this period some daughters were born unto Adam. For since it is said
below, V. 17, that "Cain knew his wife," there is no doubt that he
married a sister. Moreover since Cain himself says, V. 14, "And it
shall come to pass that everyone that findeth me shall slay me;" and
as it is further said, V. 15, "And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest
any finding him should kill him;" it appears most probable from all
these circumstances that Adam had many more children than Cain and
Abel, but these two only are mentioned on account of the important and
memorable history concerning them and because those two were their
first and principal children. For it is my full belief that the
marriage of our first parents, during the first thirty years of their
union, was most fruitful. In some books the names Calmana and Dibora
are found as being daughters of Adam; but I know not whether such
authors are worthy of any credit. As therefore Seth is recorded as
having been begotten a long time after this awful murder, it seems to
me very probable that the parents, distressed beyond measure at this
monstrous family crime, refrained for a long time from marriage
communion. Moses does not indeed touch upon all these things in his
narrative; he intimates them only in order that he might excite, as we
have said, the reader to a deep consideration of this memorable
history, the circumstances of which he records in the fewest possible
words, as if presenting them to be seen as through a lattice.

But I return to the text now immediately before us. Cain is an evil
and a wicked man, and yet in the eyes of his parents he is a divine
possession and a divine gift. Abel on the contrary is in the eyes of
his parents and in their estimation as nothing, according to the
signification of his name; but in the eyes of God he is truly a
righteous man; hence it is that Christ himself honors him with this
exalted appellation, when he calls him, "Righteous Abel!" Math. 23:35.
This was the divine judgment concerning Abel, which Cain could not
endure, and therefore he thought that the only manner in which his
hatred of his brother could be satisfied was by murder. And he
moreover thought that by this awful means he could still retain the
high honor of his primogeniture. But he was far from thinking that he
committed a great sin by this murder; because as being the first-born
he thought he had a right to do this. He killed him therefore as I
think, not with a sword, for I conclude that there were, as yet, no
iron weapons, but with a club or with some kind of stone.

And after the murder, Cain remained quiet and unconcerned, for he
thought that the deed would be concealed by hiding the body, which he
buried, or perhaps he cast it into a river, considering that by such
means he could rest the more sure that the body could not be found by
his parents.

When Abel therefore had been from home a longer time than he had been
accustomed to be, the Holy Spirit inspires Adam to utter the words of
the text and to inquire of Cain concerning Abel saying, "Where is Abel
thy brother?" Here therefore the sermon and the prophecy of Adam, of
which we have heard before, begins to be fulfilled; where he had said,
"If not, sin lieth at the door." For Cain thought that he had
concealed his sin and had laid it to rest, and that all would thus be
hidden. And true it was that his sin did lie at rest; but it lay at
rest "at the door." And who now openeth the door? None other than the
Lord himself. He rouses up and wakens the sleeping sin. He brings the
hidden sin to light.

And the same thing must be fulfilled in all sinners. For unless by
repentance thou first come to God, and thyself confess thy sin to God,
God will surely come to thee, awake thy sin and discover it to thee.
For God cannot endure that any one should deny the sin that he has
committed; as the psalmist also testifies, "When I kept silence, my
bones wasted away through my roaring all the day long. For day and
night thy hand was heavy upon me; my moisture was changed as with the
drought of summer," Ps. 32:3, 4. For although sin hath its sleep and
its security; yet that sleep is "at the door," which cannot long
remain unawakened or hidden.

When Moses here says, "And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy
brother?" I understand Moses to mean, as above, that it was Adam who
spoke by the Holy Spirit in the person or place of God; and that God
there assumed the person of a father speaking to his son. This sacred
phraseology therefore, "And the Lord said," etc., is intended as thus
used by the Holy Spirit to commend the high authority of parents; whom
when children dutifully hear and dutifully obey, they hear God and
obey God. And I believe that Adam knew by the revelation of the Holy
Spirit, that Abel had been slain by his brother; for he spoke at once
concerning the murder, "What hast thou done? The voice of thy
brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground;" although Cain all the
time endeavored to conceal the deed.


I. And if Eve heard these words spoken to Cain by his father; what do
we think must have been the grief and horror of her mind! They must
indeed have been beyond all description. But the calamity fell still
nearer and heavier upon Adam himself. For as he was the father, he was
compelled as his duty thus to rebuke his son and to excommunicate him
from his family and from the Church of God for his sin. And although
he did not slay him, for the law concerning punishing a murderer by
death, which is pronounced hereafter in the ninth chapter, was given
after the patriarchs saw murders becoming frequent; and though
inspired by the Holy Spirit so to do, he even "set a mark upon his
son, lest anyone finding him should kill him;" yet it was an awful
punishment which was inflicted on Cain and upon all his posterity. For
in addition to the personal curse of bearing about this mark of a
murderer he was excommunicated from his family, driven from the sight
of his parents and from the society of his brothers and sisters, who
still continued with their parents, as in the Church of God.

Now Adam could not have performed all this awful duty without the
deepest pain; nor could Eve have heard all that Adam said without the
same indescribable anguish. For a father is a father, and a son is a
son. Adam therefore would willingly have spared his son and would
willingly have retained him at home. And we do now sometimes see
murderers reconciled to the brothers of those whom they have murdered.
But in this terrible case no place was left for reconciliation. Cain
is bidden at once to be a vagabond upon the face of the earth. The
pain therefore of the parents was doubled. They see one of their sons
slain by the other; and now they see the slayer excommunicated by the
judgment of God and cut off forever from the society of the rest of
his brethren.

Moreover when we here speak of excommunication from the Church, you
are not to have in mind our present Churches, magnificent structures
superbly built with carved stones. The temple or Church of Adam was a
certain tree, as in paradise; or a certain little hill under the open
heaven, at which they assembled together to hear the Word of God and
to offer their sacrifices, for which purpose they had altars erected,
and God was present with them when they thus offered their sacrifices
and heard his Word, as is manifest from the divine presence at the
offering of Abel.

And other portions of sacred history testify that altars were erected
in the open air and that sacrifices were there offered. And indeed the
same practice for many reasons would be useful even now; that we might
assemble together in the open air, pray with bended knees, preach the
Word, give thanks to God and bless each other, etc. It was from a
temple of this kind and from such a Church, not a conspicuous and
magnificent Church in a certain place, that Cain was ejected or
excommunicated. He was thus doubly punished; first, by a corporal
punishment, because he was cursed as a vagabond in the earth with the
mark of a murderer set upon him; and secondly, by a spiritual
punishment, because he was cast out by excommunication, as from
another paradise, and ejected from the temple and Church of God.

Lawyers also have made much use of this passage of the holy
Scriptures, and have treated it with becoming dignity, seeing, as they
did, that the Lord inquired into the matter before he passed
condemnation upon the murderer. The Scripture therefore the framers of
laws have so applied, as to determine thereby, that no man should be
condemned until his cause had been fully known; nor until he had first
been called to the bar of judgment, had been convicted, and had
confessed his guilt. We have seen the same also before in the case of
Adam. "And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art
thou?" Gen. 3:9. And again further on, "I will go down now, and see
whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is
come unto me; and if not, I will know," Gen. 11:5; 18:21.

Let us however, leaving for the present all civil and political
doctrine, look at the all-blessed theological or divine doctrine and
consolation, contained in this, when it is recorded that the Lord
inquired for Abel after his death. For in this fact we have made
manifest unto us the resurrection of the dead. Because God by this
inquiry testified that he was the God of Abel, though now dead; for he
inquired after him though now slain and no more. From this passage
therefore we may frame this most immovable argument; that if there
were no one who had the care of us after this life, Abel would not
have been inquired for after he was slain. But God does here inquire
after Abel, even after he is taken away out of this life, he has not a
will to forget him, he still retains the remembrance of him; he asks
"Where he is." God therefore we see is the God of the dead. My meaning
is that even the dead, as we here see, still live in the memory of God
and have a God who cares for them, and saves them in another life
beyond and different from this corporal life in which saints are thus

This passage therefore we repeat is most worthy our observation, in
which we see that God had great care of Abel, even when dead; and that
on account of Abel though dead he excommunicated Cain, and visited him
with destruction even while living, though he was the first-born. This
therefore is great and glorious indeed, that Abel though dead was
still alive and canonized, as we call it, in another life; a
canonization far more blessed and more really divine than is the state
of any of those whom the Pope has ever canonized! The death of Abel
was indeed horrible; for he did not suffer death without excruciating
torment nor without many agonies of tears. And yet his death was a
goodly death; for now he lives a better and more blessed life than he
did before. For this corporal life of ours is lived in sins and is
ever in danger of death. But that life which is to come is eternal and
perfectly free from all trials and troubles, both of the body and of
the soul.

No! God does not inquire after the sheep and the oxen that are slain,
but he does inquire after the men who are slain. Men therefore have
the hope of a resurrection. They have a God who inquires after them,
even after their death in the flesh, and who brings them back from
that death unto eternal life, a God who inquires after their blood as
most "precious" to him, as the Psalmist also says, "Precious in the
sight of Jehovah is the death of his saints," Ps. 116:15.

This inquiry for the saints after their death and this their
resurrection, are the glory of the human race, obtained for it by the
Seed of the woman, which bruised the serpent's head. And the case of
Abel is the first example of this promise which was made to Adam and
Eve; and by this example God showed that the serpent harmed not Abel,
although he caused him to be thus murdered by his brother. This was
indeed an instance of the serpent's "bruising the heel" of the woman's
Seed. But when he attempted to bite his head, that is, his life, he
himself was crushed. For God, in answer to Abel's faith in the
promised Seed, required his blood after his death and proved himself
thereby to be Abel's God still. This is all proved by what follows.

V. 10. _And he said, What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's
blood crieth unto me from the ground._

Cain's sin hath hitherto lain "at the door." And the preceding
circumstances plainly show how hard he struggled to keep his sin
asleep. For, being interrogated by his father concerning his brother
Abel, and his father having asked him where he was, he adds to his
murder absolute falsehood. And this answer of Cain moreover shows that
the words of the inquiry were spoken by Adam in his own person, and
not in the person of the divine Majesty. For Cain considers that the
deed was hidden from his father, of course as being mere man, but he
could not have so thought concerning the divine Majesty. Therefore had
it been God who had spoken to him in his own proper divine Person, he
would have returned a different answer. But as he thought that he was
speaking to a man only he denied the deed he had done altogether,
saying, "I know not." As if he had added, There are numerous perils by
which a man may perish. He may be destroyed by wild beasts; he may be
drowned in some river; or he may lose his life by some other death.

And Cain no doubt thought that his father would imagine any other
death of Abel than that his own brother had perpetrated such a deed as
to murder him. But Cain could not deceive the Holy Spirit in Adam.
Adam therefore then speaks openly in the person of God and at once
convicts him of the murder, saying, "What hast thou done?" As if he
had said, "Why dost thou persist in denying the deed; be assured that
thou canst not deceive God, who hath revealed to me all. Thou thinkest
that the blood of thy brother is hidden by the earth with which thou
hast concealed it. But it is not so absorbed by the earth and
concealed by it as to prevent its crying aloud unto God." Thus did
Adam by the Spirit of God indeed wake in Cain his sin lying asleep "at
the door," and drag it forth to light.

The text now before us therefore is full of consolation to the saints
to support them against the enemies and murderers of the Church; for
it teaches us that our afflictions and sufferings, and the shedding of
our blood, fill heaven and earth with their cries. I believe therefore
that Cain was so terror-struck in his mind by these words of his
father and that he was so confused and astounded that he knew not what
to say nor what to do. For no doubt his thoughts were, "If my father
Adam thus knows all the circumstances of the murder which I have
committed, how can I any longer doubt that the whole is known unto
God, unto angels, and unto heaven and earth. Whither therefore can I
flee? Which way can I turn, wretched man that I am?"

It is exactly the same with murderers to this day. They are so
harassed with the stings of conscience, after the crime of murder has
been committed, that they are always in a state of alarm. It seems to
them that heaven and earth have put on a changed aspect toward them
and they know not whither to flee, so awful a thing is this crying of
blood that has been shed and so horrible an agony is an accusing

But it is just the same also under all other atrocious sins. Those who
commit them experience the same distresses of mind, when sorrow of
spirit lays hold of them for what they have done. The whole creation
seems changed toward them, and even when they speak to persons with
whom they have been familiar, and when they hear the answers which
they make, the very sound of their voice appears to them altogether
changed and their countenances seem to wear an altered aspect.
Whichever way they turn their eyes, all things are clothed as it were
with mourning and horror. So fierce and destroying a monster is a
guilty conscience. Unless therefore such great sinners are succored
and upheld from above, they must put an end to their existence from
anguish and intolerable pain and despair.

In this place also Moses adopts his usual brevity, which however
exceeds in force all words. In the first place, he makes use of a very
striking figure of speech when he attributes to the shed blood of Abel
the cry of a voice which fills heaven and earth. For how can that
voice be small or weak which is uttered from earth and fills the ears
of God in heaven. Abel therefore who when alive was patient under
injuries, gentle and placid of spirit, now, when dead and buried in
the earth, is utterly unable to endure the injury he has received. He
who before dared not utter a syllable of complaint against his
brother, now cries aloud and so engages the attention of God by his
cry that God himself descends from heaven and charges the murderer
with his crime. Moses therefore here uses the strongest term. He does
not say, "The voice of thy brother's blood speaketh unto me from the
ground," but "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me" etc.,
as heralds proclaim their intelligence aloud, when with exerted voice
they call men together to a public assembly.

And all these things are thus written, as I have observed, to cause us
to see that our God is merciful and that he loves his saints, has a
peculiar care of them, and inquires about them, and searches them out;
and that on the contrary he is angry with the murderers of his saints,
hates them and will assuredly punish them. And this consolation is
most necessary for us; for, when we are oppressed by our enemies and
murderers, we are apt to conclude that our God has forgotten us and
has thrown off all care of us. For we think within ourselves that if
God did care for us, he would not permit such things to come upon us.
And Abel might also have thought the same, saying to himself, God
surely cares nothing for me; for if he did, he would not suffer me
thus to be murdered by my brother.

But only look at what follows, and see whether God had not all the
while a greater care of Abel than Abel could possibly have had of
himself. For how could Abel, had it been possible for him to have
survived the murder, have inflicted on his brother such vengeance as
God here inflicts upon him, after his death, by his brother's hands?
How could he, if alive, execute such awful judgment on his brother as
God here executes? For now Abel's blood cries aloud unto God, who
while alive was of a spirit the most gentle and meek. Abel, now dead,
accuses his brother before God of being a murderer; whereas if alive
he would bear all the injuries of his brother in silence, and would
even conceal all his feelings under them. For who was it that betrayed
Cain and accused him of having slain his brother? Does not the text
here tell us that the accuser was the blood of the murdered Abel? Yes!
that blood still fills the ears of God and of men with its cries which
have not yet ceased.

These things, I say, are all full of consolation; especially unto us
who now suffer persecution from the Popes and wicked princes on
account of our doctrine. They have exercised toward us the utmost
cruelty and have vented their rage against godly men, not in Germany
only, but in other parts of Europe also. And all this sin is
disregarded by the papacy, as if it were nothing but a joke. Nay, the
Papists really consider it to be the "service" of God, John 16:2. All
this sin therefore as yet "lieth at the door." But it will be awaked
and made manifest in its time. For the blood of that best and most
faithful of martyrs, Leonard Caizer, which was shed in Bavaria, cries
aloud still. Nor has the cry of the blood of Henry of Zutphan, shed by
his own countrymen, ceased; nor the blood of our brother Anthony of
England, poured out by his English enemies. Not to mention a thousand
others, who although their names are not so prominent and renowned
were yet fellow-sufferers with confessors and martyrs. The blood of
all these, I say, cries aloud still, and that cry will in its time
cause God to descend from heaven and execute judgment in the earth, a
judgment which will be awful and intolerable to the enemies of the

Let us not think therefore that our blood is disregarded of God. Let
us not imagine for a moment that God regardeth not our afflictions.
No! he collects all our tears, and puts them into his bottle, Ps.
56:8. The cry of the blood of all the godly who have thus been slain
penetrates the clouds, enters the heavens, and comes even unto the
throne of God, and moves him to come forth and vindicate the blood of
the righteous that has been shed, Ps. 79:10. And in the same manner as
these things are written for our consolation, so are they also written
for the terror of our adversaries. For what think you can be more
awe-striking to our tyrants to hear than that the blood of all they
have slain continually cries aloud and accuses them before God? God is
indeed long-suffering, especially now toward the end of the world; and
therefore sin lieth the longer "at the door." Vengeance does not
immediately follow. But it is sure and certain that God is most
righteously offended with all this sin, and that he will never suffer
it to pass away unpunished.

Such is the judgment of God on Cain. But I believe that this judgment
was not executed on the first day of the murder, but that some time
intervened between the murder and this terror on Cain. For God is in
his nature long-suffering, because he waits for the returning of
sinners to himself. But he does not on that account omit or forget to
punish them. For he is the righteous judge both of the living and of
the dead, as we confess in the creed of our faith. God therefore
exercised this his judgment in the very beginning of the world,
memorable in the case of these two brothers. He judged and condemned
the living murderer, and justified the slain righteous Abel. And he
excommunicated Cain and drove him into those agonies of soul that the
space of the whole creation seemed too narrow to contain him. For from
the moment he saw that God would be the avenger of his brother's
"crying blood," he found safety nowhere. While to Abel on the contrary
the space both of earth and of heaven gives an unbounded latitude of

Why should we ever doubt therefore that God ponders and numbers in his
heart the afflictions of his people, and that he measures our tears
and inscribes them all on adamantine tablets? These tears the enemies
of the Church of Christ can never erase by any device of theirs, but
by their repentance alone for what they have done to his saints.
Manasses was a terrible tyrant and a most inhuman persecutor of the
godly. And his banishment and captivity would never have sufficed to
have blotted out these sins. But when he acknowledged his sin and
repented in truth, then the Lord showed him mercy.

So Paul had, and so the Pope and the bishops have now only one way
left them, to acknowledge their sin and to supplicate the forgiveness
of God. But as they do not this God will surely require at their hands
in his fury the blood of the godly. Let no one be doubtful of this. So
here Abel is dead, but Cain is still alive. But O! good God! what a
life of misery does he live! For his wishes are that he had never been
born. Because he ever hears the voice of his excommunication and
expects every moment death and the vengeance of God upon his sin. And
the awful case of our adversaries and of the Church's tyrants shall in
its time be exactly the same.

II. V. 11. _And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened
its mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;_

Thus far have we heard how the sin of Cain was revealed by the crying
blood of his brother Abel; and that he was hereby convicted of the
murder by his father Adam, and that the judgment of God concerning the
two brothers was, that the one should not only be justified but
canonized, as we say, and declared to be a saint, and the first fruits
as it were of this blessed Seed of the righteous, but that the other
brother the first-born should be condemned and excommunicated or cast
out as the following sacred narrative now shows. For Moses now
proceeds to record the punishments which were inflicted of God on this

And here in the first place the carefulness and discrimination of the
Holy Spirit, even "from the beginning," is most worthy of our
observation. For above, when the punishment was inflicted on Adam for
his sin, the person of Adam was not cursed, but the earth only. And
even the earth was not cursed absolutely in itself, but a certain
excuse, as it were, was made for it. For the curse was pronounced
thus: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake," Gen. 3:17. Hence it is that
Paul says, Rom. 8:20, "For the creature was made subject to vanity,
not willingly," that is, not of its own will or fault. But because the
earth instrumentally caused man to become a sinner; therefore also the
earth was compelled to bear the curse as the instrument, in the same
manner as gold, the sword, etc., are cursed, not in themselves, but
because men sin by their means. This is a most beautiful reasoning as
it were in the Holy Spirit, when he thus distinguishes between the
earth and Adam. He makes the curse fall on the earth, but preserves
the person of Adam.

But in the instance before us the Holy Spirit speaks of Cain
otherwise. He curses the person of Cain. And why is this? Is it
because the sin of Cain, as a murderer, was greater than the sin of
Adam and Eve? Not so. But because Adam was that root from whose flesh
and loins Christ, that blessed Seed, should be born. This Seed
therefore is that which was spared. For the sake of this blessed Seed,
the fruit of the loins of Adam, the curse is transferred from the
person of Adam to the earth, the very instrument. So that Adam bears
the curse of the earth, but his person is not cursed; because from his
posterity Christ was to be born.

But because Cain by his sin fell from this glory of being the root of
the blessed Seed; therefore his person is cursed. And the Holy Spirit
says to him, "Cursed art thou," that we might understand that he was
cut off from the glory of the promised Seed and was condemned never to
have in his posterity such a seed as _that Seed_, through which the
blessing should come. This was Cain's rejection from all that
stupendous glory of the promised Seed. For Abel was now slain;
therefore there could now be no posterity from him. But Adam was
appointed still to serve God by his generating children. In Adam alone
therefore, Abel being slain, and Cain being accursed and rejected, the
hope of the blessed Seed rested until Seth was born unto him.

The words of the Holy Spirit here are indeed few, when he says to
Cain, "Cursed art thou." But they are words worthy the deepest and
most diligent consideration. The words are in their import, as if the
Holy Spirit had said to Cain, "Thou art no longer he from whom the
blessed Seed can be hoped for." By these few words therefore Cain is
rejected forever and is cut off as a branch from its stem; so that he
can no longer hope for that glory which he so much strove to hold
fast. For Cain's great desire was that the glory of this future
blessing should be propagated from his loins and proceed from his
posterity. But the more he strove to secure this glory, the further he
was from obtaining it. And just so it is with all the wicked; for the
more they labor to accomplish their purposes, the more surely they
fail and fall.

And here begin, as we observed on the offerings of Cain and Abel, the
two churches, which are ever at perfect enmity with each other; the
Church of Adam and the godly which possesses the hope and promise of
the blessed Seed; and the church of Cain, which lost this hope and
promise by sin and never could recover it. For in the Deluge the whole
posterity of Cain was utterly destroyed, so that no prophet nor saint,
nor any head of a church of the posterity of Cain was left in
existence; so utterly were all things denied to Cain and taken from
him by this one word, when the Holy Spirit said to him, "Cursed art

But the expression "From the earth" is added. This is as it were a
tempering of the awful wrath of God upon Cain. For if the Holy Spirit
had said "From heaven," it would have taken away the hope of salvation
from the whole posterity of Cain forever. But since the expression is,
"From the earth," the fall of Cain's posterity from the promise and
glory of the blessed Seed is threatened and determined; and yet a door
was left open by which it might come to pass that some private persons
of the generation of Cain might, by the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit, join themselves to the posterity and Church of Adam, and be
saved; as indeed in after ages it came to pass. For although the Jews
alone retained the glory of giving birth to this blessed Seed and
possessed the promise which was in him, according to the Psalm, "He
hath not dealt so with any nation, and as for his ordinances, they
have not known them," Ps. 147:20; yet the Gentiles had the right of
beggars, if I may so express it; and by begging they obtained the same
blessing through the divine mercy, which the Jews possessed through
the true posterity of Adam or the promise of God.

In like manner also all rule in the Church was absolutely denied to
the Moabites and Amorites, and yet many private individuals among them
embraced the religion of the Jews. It was thus also that all right in
the Church was taken away from Cain and his posterity absolutely. Yet
so that permission was left them to beg as it were for this grace.
This right of being beggars was not taken from them. For Cain, because
of his sin, was cast out from the right of sitting at the family table
of Adam. But the right was left him in his posterity to beg and gather
up as dogs the crumbs that fell from his father's table, Math. 15:26,
27. This is signified by the Hebrew expression, MIN HAADAMA, "From the

I make these observations because there is a great probability that
many of the posterity of Cain, in the earliest ages of the world,
joined themselves to the holy patriarchs. But they abode in the Church
as private persons only and without any office in it, as those who had
utterly lost the promise of the blessed Seed being born from their
body and posterity. And the loss of this promise was a serious matter
to them. And yet this great curse was so mitigated toward them, that
there was granted to them, as we have said, the right of being beggars
for it as it were. Heaven was not absolutely denied them, provided
they would join the true Church; as it is written, and particularly
described in Is. 56:3-8.

But this joining the true Church among his posterity Cain strove to
hinder in various ways. For he set up new forms of worship and
invented numerous ceremonies; that thereby he also might appear to be
the Church. Those however who departed from him and joined the true
Church were saved; although they were compelled to despair of the
glory of Christ being born from their body or posterity. But let us
now return to the sacred text.

Moses here uses a very striking personification. He represents the
earth as being a dreaded beast, when he speaks of her as having opened
her mouth and swallowed the innocent blood of Abel. But why does he
speak of the earth in terms so terrible, when all these horrid things
were transacted without her will or knowledge? Nay, since the earth is
a good creature of God and these things were done against her will,
and her struggle to prevent them? For Paul, as we have just observed,
says, "The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly," etc.,
Rom. 8:20. My reply is, this was done, and the Spirit thus spoke,
according to Moses, as a terror to Adam and to all his posterity, that
they might live in the fear of God and dread the sin of murder. For
the words of Adam mean and are as if he had said, "Behold the earth
hath opened her mouth and swallowed the blood of thy brother; but she
ought to have swallowed thee, the murderer. The earth indeed is a good
creature, and is good to the good and the godly; but to the wicked she
is full of yawnings and loud cries." It is to this end that Moses
records the Holy Spirit as having used these terrible expressions in
reference to the earth through the mouth of Adam. It was to strike
terror and confusion into murderers. Nor is there any doubt that Cain,
after he heard these things from the mouth of his angry father, was
terror-struck in his soul like Judas and overwhelmed with confusion,
so that he knew not which way to turn. The expressions, "Which hath
opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand," are
indeed full of terror; and they point out the awfulness of this
murder, in deeper colors than any pictures could represent it.

V. 12a. _When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield
unto thee its strength._

The Lord above said unto Adam, "Thorns also and thistles shall it
bring forth to thee." But here the Holy Spirit speaks to Cain
otherwise. His words before us are as if he had said, "Thou hast
watered and manured the earth, not with enriching dung and reviving
rain, but with thy brother's blood. Therefore the earth shall be to
thee less productive than to others. For the blood which thou hast
shed shall hinder the strength and the fruitfulness of the earth to
thee." And this is the second part of the punishment; namely, the
bodily curse on Cain: that, although the earth should be just alike
cultivated by Adam and by Cain, yet it should be more fruitful to Adam
than to Cain, and should yield its return to the former for his
labors; but that to the labors of Cain it should not yield any such
returns of fruitfulness on account of the blood shed; which should
hinder it, though by nature desirous to return her fruitfulness and
strength for all labors of men.

But here also we must offer a remark concerning the grammatical
peculiarity of the original language. In the present passage, Moses
terms the earth, HAADAMA. But in the passage which follows, "A
fugitive and a wanderer shalt thou be in the earth," he uses the term
AREZ. Now ADAMA signifies, according to grammatical interpreters,
"that part of the earth which is cultivated," in which trees grow and
other fruits of the earth which are adapted for food. But AREZ
signifies "the whole earth," whether cultivated or uncultivated. This
curse of God therefore properly has reference to that part of the
earth which is cultivated for food. And the curse implies that where
one ear of wheat should bring forth three hundred grains for Adam, it
should bring forth scarcely ten grains for Cain the murderer; and for
the end, that Cain might behold on every side of him proofs that God
hates and punishes the shedding of blood.

V. 12b. _A fugitive and a wanderer (vagabond) shalt thou be in the

And this was a third punishment contained in the divine curse on Cain,
which continues to rest on murderers to this day. For unless they find
reconciliation they wander about, having no fixed abode or certain

We have here two original terms, NO VANOD, "a vagabond," and "a
fugitive," but my manner is to distinguish them thus. I consider NO to
signify, "the uncertainty of the place in which you are or dwell;"
that is, how long you can remain there. In the same manner as the Jews
at this day are "vagabonds" or wanderers; because they have no certain
or fixed dwelling-place and are in hourly fear lest they should be
compelled to go forth from where they may be dwelling. But NOD
signifies, the "uncertainty of the place to which you can go;" that
is, the not knowing where to go; so that, while on the one hand you
have no certain place in which to dwell, to that misery is added the
further misery, that when you must leave your present uncertain place
of abode, you know not whither to go. The original NO VANOD therefore
contains in it a double punishment: the not being able to remain with
any certainty in any place, and the not knowing whither to go, when
you are driven from your present uncertain place of abode; as we find
it also in Psalm 109:10, "Let his children be continually vagabonds."
VENOA IANUU BANAV, that is "let them, by wandering, wander;" or, "let
them be wanderers indeed, or utter wanderers;" that is, let them never
find a place in which they can dwell with certainty or safety. If they
are this year in Greece let them be compelled the next year to wander
into Italy; and so on perpetually.

Just such is evidently the miserable state of the Jews at the present
day. They can fix their dwelling-place nowhere permanently. And to
this calamity of the Jews of the present day God adds another misery
in the case of Cain that, when he is driven from one place of abode,
he should not know where to find another, and thus should live
suspended as it were between heaven and earth, not knowing where to
stop nor where to find any continuing place of rest or refuge. And in
this manner was the sin of Cain visited with a threefold punishment.
In the first place he is deprived of all spiritual or Church glory,
for the promise concerning the blessed Seed being born from his
posterity is taken away from him. In the second place the earth is
cursed to him in her fruitfulness, which is a domestic punishment
reaching to all his provision for this life. And thirdly the
punishment of a political or civil calamity is inflicted on him, in
his being made a vagabond and never able to find any certain place of
abode or rest.

But still a way of joining the true Church is left him, but without
the promise! For as I have said, if any of Cain's posterity did join
themselves to the true Church and to the holy fathers they were saved.
And thus there was left them the domestic privilege, but without the
blessing. And so the political privilege was preserved to them that
they might build a city and dwell there, but for how long was still
left uncertain. Cain therefore in his posterity is still a beggar as
it were in the Church, in the domestic household, and in the civil

And moreover with these punishments of Cain there was joined as an
alleviation that he should not be slain immediately on account of the
murder which he had committed; as also afterwards a like Levitical law
was ordained concerning man-slayers. But Cain was preserved alive as
an example to others that they might fear God and flee from the sins
of murder. Let these observations suffice therefore concerning the sin
of Cain and the judgment and vengeance of God on the same.

But there are some who here reply and indeed the saints themselves
often so argue to themselves that the godly also sometimes endure
these same curses, while the wicked on the contrary are free from
them. They look at the Apostle Paul as an instance, where he says that
he also "wandered about and had no certain dwelling-place." And verily
our own condition is precisely the same at the present day. We preach
to the Churches and have either no certain dwelling-places at all or
are driven into banishment or are in fear of banishment every hour.
And the same was the condition of Christ, of his apostles and
prophets, and of the patriarchs of old.

In the same manner the Scriptures say concerning Jacob, "The elder
shall serve the younger," Gen. 25:23. But does not Jacob become a
servant when we see him a most distressed supplicant? Does he not from
fear of his brother haste away into exile? Does he not on his return
home supplicate his brother and fall on his knees before him? Is not
Isaac also seen to be a most miserable beggar? Gen. 6:1-35. Abraham
his father also goes into exile among the nations and possesses not in
all the world a place to set his foot, as Stephen says, Acts 7:1-5. On
the other hand, the mocking and wicked Ishmael is a king and from him
are born the dukes of the land of Midian, Gen. 25:16, before Israel
entered into the land of promise. In the same manner it will be seen
in the 17th verse of the present chapter that Cain first built the
city Enoch, and from him were born shepherds, workers in metals, and
inventors of music. All these things seem to the world to prove that
the curses of God are wrongly confined to Cain and his posterity,
seeing that these same curses frequently rest on the true Church;
while on the contrary it is well with the wicked, and they flourish.

These things are often a stumbling block, not to the world only, but
to the saints themselves as the Psalms in many places testify. And the
prophets also are frequently found to grow indignant, as does
Jeremiah, when they see the wicked possess freedom as it were from the
evils of life, while they are oppressed and afflicted in various ways.
Men may therefore naturally inquire, Where is the curse of the wicked?
Where is the blessing of the godly? Is not rather the contrary the
truth? Cain is a vagabond and settled nowhere; and yet Cain is the
first man that builds a city and has a certain place to dwell in. But
we will reply to these inquiries more fully hereafter. We will now
proceed with the text of Moses.


V. 13. _And Cain said unto Jehovah, My punishment (iniquity) is
greater than I can bear (than can be remitted)._

Here Moses seems to have fixed a cross for the grammarians and the
Rabbins. For they crucify this passage in various ways. Lyra recites
the opinions of some who explain this passage affirmatively,
considering it to mean that Cain said in his despair that his sin was
greater than could be pardoned; and it is thus that we have rendered
this expression of Cain. Augustine also retained this view of the
passage, for he says, "Thou liest, Cain; for the mercy of God is
greater than the misery of all the sinners of the whole world put

The Rabbins however expound the passage as being a negative
interrogation, making Cain to say, "Is my iniquity greater than can be
remitted?" But if this rendering be the true one, Cain not only does
not acknowledge his sin, but excuses it and moreover insults God for
laying upon him a punishment greater than he deserved. But it is just
in this way that the Rabbins almost everywhere corrupt the sense of
the Scriptures. Consequently I begin to hate them and I admonish all
who read them, to read them with great caution and judgment. For
although they did possess the knowledge of some things, by tradition
as it were from the fathers, yet they corrupted them in various ways;
and therefore they often deceived by those corruptions, even Jerome
himself. Nor did the poets of old ever so fill the world with their
fables as the wicked Jews did the Scriptures with their absurd
opinions. A great labor therefore is thereby thrown in our way to get
hold of the pure text and to clear it from their false opinions and

The cause of all this error is that some are grammarians only, but
know nothing of the divine things concerned; that is, they are not
divines also; therefore they are compelled to dream and to guess, and
thereby to crucify both themselves and the Scriptures. For how is it
possible that such persons should be right judges of things which they
do not understand? Now, the divine subject matter in the present
passage is that Cain is accused in his own conscience. And no one, not
only no wicked man, but not even the devil himself can endure this
judgment of his own conscience; as James also witnesses, "The devils
also believe and tremble before God," James 2:19. And Peter also says,
"Whereas angels which are greater in power and might cannot endure
that judgment which the Lord will exercise upon blasphemers," 2 Pet.
2:11. So also Manasses in his prayer, Vs. 4, 5, confesses that all men
tremble before the face of the Lord's anger.

All these things therefore fully prove that there was not in Cain
under his judgment enough spirit left to enable him to set himself
against God and to expostulate with him. For God is an almighty
adversary to contend with, and he always makes his first attack upon
the heart and fastens his grip on the conscience. Now of this matter
the Rabbins know nothing, nor have any understanding of it whatever;
and therefore they speak on this judgment of God as if it were a
matter transacted before men, in judgment where a fact is either
falsely denied or vainly excused before the judge. The judgment of God
however is quite a different matter. For there, as Christ says, "By
thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be
condemned," Math. 12:37. Cain therefore does acknowledge his sin in
the present passage, but he does not grieve so much concerning his sin
as concerning his punishment for it. Cain's words therefore are here
to be understood affirmatively, and they show the horribleness of his

A further proof of Cain's entire despair is, that he does not utter
one word of reverence. He never mentions the name of God or of his
father. His conscience is so confused and so overwhelmed with terror
and despondency that he is not able to think of any hope of pardon. So
the Epistle to the Hebrews gives the same description of Esau, saying,
"Who for one mess of meat sold his own birthright. For ye know that
even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was
rejected; for he found no place for change of mind, though he sought
it diligently with tears," Heb. 12:16, 17. Thus in the present
instance Cain feels his punishment, but he grieves more for his
punishment than for his sin. And all persons in like despair do just
the same.

The two original words of this passage, MINNESO and AVON, again form
two crosses for grammarians. Jerome translates the clause, "My
iniquity is greater than can be pardoned." Sanctes, the grammarian of
Pagnum, a man of no mean erudition and evidently a diligent scholar,
renders the passage, "My punishment is greater than I can bear." But
by such a rendering, we shall make of Cain a martyr and of Abel a
sinner. And concerning the original word NOSA, I have before observed,
that when it is applied to sin, it signifies "to lift sin up, or off,
on high;" that is, "to take it out of the way." Just as we by the use
of a common figure say, "to remit sin," or "the remission of sins," as
we have in, Ps. 32, ASCHRE NESU PESCHA, which, when rendered
literally, means, "being made happy by having been relieved from crime
or sin." We render it, "Blessed is he whose transgression is
forgiven;" that is, whose sin is taken away. As we have it also again,
"The people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity," NESU
AVON, that is, "shall be relieved from their crime or sin," Is. 33:24.

The other original term AVONI, grammarians derive from the verb ANAH,
which signifies "to be afflicted," as in Zacharia, "Behold thy king
cometh unto thee poor or afflicted," Zach. 9:9. Our translation
renders it "meek," etc., as we find it also Ps. 132:10, "Lord remember
David and all his meekness, or lowliness;" that is, "all his
afflictions." From this same original root is derived the expression,
"low estate," or "lowliness," of his handmaiden, used by the Virgin
Mary in her song, Luke 1:48. It is the meaning of the original word
AVONI which induced Sanctes to render it, in the present passage,

But here the original AVONI signifies "iniquity," or "sin," as it does
also in many other passages of the Holy Scriptures, which appears more
plainly from the verb to "lift up" or "to lift off," which stands
connected with it. Hence it is that grammarians, who are nothing more
than grammarians, and who know nothing of divine things, find their
crosses in all such passages; and crucify, not only the Scriptures,
but themselves and their hearers. But in the interpretation of the
Holy Scriptures the subject or divine matter and sense are first to be
determined; and when that appears in all respects consistent with
itself, then the grammatical propriety is to be explained. The Rabbins
however take a directly contrary course. And hence it grieves me much
that divines and the holy fathers so frequently follow them.

V. 14. _Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the
ground; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive
and a wanderer in the earth; and it will come to pass, that whosoever
findeth me will slay me._

From these words it still more plainly appears that the sentence and
curse on Cain were pronounced by Jehovah through the mouth of Adam.
Cain here acknowledges first that he is driven out from the domestic
and political communion; and secondly that he was excommunicated from
the Church.

Of the difference of the meaning of the original words ADAMAH and EREZ
we spoke above. We have shown that EREZ signifies the whole earth
generally; but that ADAMAH means the cultivated part of the earth in
particular. The meaning therefore of these words of Cain is, "I am now
compelled to flee from thy presence and from that place of the earth
which I have cultivated. The whole world indeed lies before me, but I
must be a fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth; that is, I shall
have no certain dwelling place." In the same way murderers among us
are punished with exile and become vagabonds in the earth. These words
therefore afford a further evidence of the manner in which the words,
which Adam said above are to be understood, "Cursed art thou upon
earth." They refer to Cain's being driven away into banishment. This
part of Cain's punishment therefore is a civil or political
punishment, by which he is shut out from the whole civil community.

But that which Cain next adds, "And from thy face shall I be hid," is
an ecclesiastical or Church punishment. It is an excommunication from
the true Church of God. For as the priesthood and the kingdom rested
with Adam, and Cain on account of his sin was excommunicated from
Adam, he was thereby also deprived of the glory both of the priesthood
and of the kingdom. But why Adam adopted this punishment of expelling
his son from him and excommunicating him from his presence, is
explained by the words which we just before heard from the father's
mouth, "When thou tillest the ground it shall not henceforth yield
unto thee her strength;" as if he had said, "Thou art cursed and thy
labors are cursed also. Therefore if thou shalt remain with us upon
earth it cannot be but that both thou and we also must perish with
hunger. For thou hast stained the earth with thy brother's blood, and
wherever thou art thou must bear about the blood of thy brother with
thee, and even the earth herself will exact of thee the punishment of
that blood by not yielding to thee her strength."

There is a sentence almost the same as this pronounced on Cain by Adam
in 1 Kings 2:29-33, where Solomon gives commandment to Benaiah, son of
Jehoiada, saying, "Slay Joab, and thou shalt take away the innocent
blood which was shed by Joab from me and my father's house. And the
Lord shall return his blood upon his own head. But unto David, and
unto his seed, and unto his house, and unto his throne, shall there be
peace for ever from Jehovah." As if he had said, "If Joab suffer not
this punishment of his unjust murder, the whole kingdom must suffer
that punishment and be shaken from one end to the other by wars." It
is just thus Adam speaks in the present passage. As if he had said,
"If thou shalt remain on the earth here with us God will bring
punishments upon us for thy sake, so that the earth will not yield to
us her fruit."

But now let us offer our reply to the question above raised concerning
Cain and his posterity not being the only persons subject to the curse
of wandering and affliction, seeing that the saints also, it is
argued, are subject to the same; and that Cain though thus cursed was
yet the first who built a city, etc. It was said to Cain as his curse,
"A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be upon earth." And yet Cain is
the first man who builds a city, and his posterity from that time so
increased that they seduced, oppressed, and so utterly overthrew the
Church of God, as not to leave more than eight persons from the
posterity of Seth remaining. The whole of the other multitude of
mankind, who perished in the Flood, had followed Cain as the sacred
text plainly declares, "And it came to pass, when men began to
multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born unto them,
that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and
they took them wives of all that they chose," Gen. 6:1, 2. And it is
also said that these sons of God, when they came unto the daughters of
men, begat giants and mighty men, which were of old, men of renown,
verse 4. As therefore Cain had so great and mighty a posterity and as
he built the first city, how can it be true, men ask, that he was a
fugitive and vagabond upon earth, according to the curse pronounced
upon him?

We will reply therefore to the literal facts before us. For what we
have said above in reference to the New Testament, concerning Paul and
the apostles, and Christ himself, and the prophets, that is altogether
a different subject. When Adam here says to Cain, "A fugitive and a
wanderer shalt thou be upon earth," he speaks these words to him to
send him away; designedly joining no precept or direction therewith.
He does not say to him, "Go to the east;" he does not say, "Go to the
south;" he does not mention any one place to which he should go. He
gives him no direction what to do. He simply sends him away, but as to
whither he should go or what he should do, he expresses no concern. As
to what the will and the way of his son may be hereafter, the father
takes no care whatever. He adds no promise of protection. He does not
say, "God will take care of thee;" nor, "God will defend thee." But as
the whole wide heaven lies open to the bird, leaving him the liberty
to fly where he will, but giving him a sight of no place in that
heaven, to which he might flee in safety for protection from the
attack of the other birds, so does Adam dismiss Cain. This Cain fully
feels; and therefore it is that he adds the utterance, "And it shall
come to pass that every one that findeth me shall slay me."

Now the condition of Adam in paradise was different from that of Cain,
and better. Adam had sinned, and by his sin he had sunk under death.
But when he was driven out of paradise God appointed to him by his
command a certain employment, that he should till the earth in a fixed
and certain place. God also clothed him with a covering of skins.
This, as we have said above, was a sign that God would take care of
him and defend him. And that which exceeded all things else, a
glorious promise was made to the woman concerning her Seed, which
should "bruise the serpent's head." But no one thing like these
mercies was left to Cain. He was sent away absolutely without the
mention of any certain place or any certain employment. No command was
given him nor any promise made him. He was like a bird set loose in
the wide heavens, as we have said, to wander in its flight where it
may. Such was the state and meaning of Cain's being truly and properly
"a vagabond," "a wanderer" without any fixed dwelling-place.

And thus unsettled and wandering are all who have not the Word and the
command of God, by which a certain place of worship and a certain
ministry are vouchsafed unto them. And just such were we under the
papacy. There were plenty of ceremonies of worship, and of works and
exercises. But all these were undertaken and done without any command
of God. This was truly a Cain-like trial, to have no Word of God; not
to know what to believe, nor what to hope, nor what to think; but to
do all things and to undertake all things without any knowledge or
hope concerning the event. For what monk ever existed who could affirm
or know that he did any one thing rightly? For all things were mere
human traditions and the inventions of mere human reason, without the
Word. And in the midst of these things we all wandered about,
fluctuating in our minds, like the wandering Cain; not knowing
anything of what the judgment of God would be concerning us; whether
he would look upon us with love or with hatred. And in this
uncertainty were we all at that time taught and trained.

And in this same way were the whole posterity of Cain wanderers and
unsettled. For they had no promise nor command of God and were without
any certain rule either to live by or to die by. And if any of these
did come to the knowledge of Christ and joined the true Church, this
did not come to them through any promise of God, but through his pure

But Seth, who was born afterwards, had together with his posterity the
certain promise, certain dwelling-places, a certain worship of God,
and certain rites of worship. But Cain on the contrary was always
essentially "a vagabond." For although Cain did build a city, yet he
was ever in uncertainty how long he should retain it as a dwelling
place; for he had no promise of God on which to depend. And whatever
things we possess without the promise of God, how long we shall
possess them is always an uncertainty. For Satan can either disturb
them or take them away in a moment. On the other hand, when we move,
fortified on every side by the command and promise of God, Satan's
strivings against us are all in vain, for God fortifies and secures by
his command all that we possess. Although therefore Cain was the great
lord as it were of the whole world and possessed all the riches of the
world; yet because he was without the promise of the help of God and
was thereby deprived of the guardianship of angels, he had nothing
else to depend on, but human counsel and human reason. He was
therefore truly "a vagabond" and unsettled wanderer.

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