(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 5)

of God, in this magnificent theatre of heaven and earth. But, lest men
should prove less sedulously attentive to it than they ought, every
seventh day has been especially selected for the purpose of supplying
what was wanting in daily meditation. First, therefore, God rested; then
he blessed this rest, that in all ages it might be held sacred among men:
or he dedicated every seventh day to rest, that his own example might be
a perpetual rule. The design of the institution must be always kept in
memory: for God did not command men simply to keep holiday every seventh
day, as if he delighted in their indolence; but rather that they, being
released from all other business, might the more readily apply their
minds to the Creator of the world. Lastly, that is a sacred rest, which
withdraws men from the impediments of the world, that it may dedicate
them entirely to God. But now, since men are so backward to celebrate the
justice, wisdom, and power of God, and to consider his benefits, that
even when they are most faithfully admonished they still remain torpid,
no slight stimulus is given by God's own example, and the very precept
itself is thereby rendered amiable. For God cannot either more gently
allure, or more effectually incite us to obedience, than by inviting and
exhorting us to the imitation of himself. Besides, we must know, that
this is to be the common employment not of one age or people only, but of
the whole human race. Afterwards, in the Law, a new precept concerning
the Sabbath was given, which should be peculiar to the Jews, and but for
a season; because it was a legal ceremony shadowing forth a spiritual
rest, the truth of which was manifested in Christ. Therefore the Lord the
more frequently testifies that he had given, in the Sabbath, a symbol of
sanctification to his ancient people. Therefore when we hear that the
Sabbath was abrogated by the coming of Christy we must distinguish
between what belongs to the perpetual government of human life, and what
properly belongs to ancient figures, the use of which was abolished when
the truth was fulfilled. Spiritual rest is the mortification of the
flesh; so that the sons of God should no longer live unto themselves, or
indulge their own inclination. So far as the Sabbath was a figure of this
rest, I say, it was but for a season; but inasmuch as it was commanded to
men from the beginning that they might employ themselves in the worship
of God, it is right that it should continue to the end of the world.
  "Which God created and made". Here the Jews, in their usual method,
foolishly trifle, saying, that God being anticipated in his work by the
last evening, left certain animals imperfect, of which kind are fauns and
satyrs, as though he had been one of the ordinary class of artifices who
have need of time. Ravings so monstrous prove the authors of them to have
been delivered over to a reprobate mind, as a dreadful example of the
wrath of God. As to the meaning of Moses, some take it thus: that God
created his Works in order to make them, inasmuch as from the time he
gave them being, he did not withdraw his hand from their preservation.
But this exposition is harsh. Nor do I more willingly subscribe to the
opinion of those who refer the word make to man, whom God placed over his
works, that he might apply them to use, and in a certain sense perfect
them by his industry. I rather think that the perfect form of God's works
is here noted; as if he had said God so created his works that nothing
should be wanting to their perfection; or the creation has proceeded to
sucks a point, that the work is in all respects perfect.

4. "These are the generations". The design of Moses was deeply to impress
upon our minds the origin of the heaven and the earth, which he
designates by the word generation. For there have always been ungrateful
and malignant men, who, either by feigning, that the world was eternal or
by obliterating the memory of the creations would attempt to obscure the
glory of God. Thus the devils by his guiles turns those away from God who
are more ingenious and skilful than others in order that each may become
a god unto himself. Wherefore, it is not a superfluous repetition which
inculcates the necessary fact, that the world existed only from the time
when it was created since such knowledge directs us to its Architect and
Author. Under the names of heaven and earth, the whole is, by the figure
synecdoche, included. Some of the Hebrews thinks that the essential name
of God is here at length expressed by Moses, because his majesty shines
forth more clearly in the completed world.

5. "And every plant." This verse is connected with the preceding, and
must be read in continuation with it; for he annexes the plants and herbs
to the earth, as the garment with which the Lord has adorned it, lest its
nakedness should appear as a deformity. The noun "siach", which we
translate plant, sometimes signifies trees, as below, (Gen. 21: 15.)
Therefore, some in this place translate it shrubs to which I have no
objection. Yet the word plant is not unsuitable; because in the former
place, Moses seems to refer to the genus, and here to the species. But
although he has before related that the herbs were created on the third
day, yet it is not without reason that here again mention is made of
them, in order that we may know that they were then produced, preserved,
and propagated, in a manner different from that which we perceive at the
present day. For herbs and trees are produced from seed; or grafts are
taken from another roots or they grow by putting forth shoots: in all
this the industry and the hand of man are engaged. But, at that time, the
method was different: God clothed the earth, not in the same manner as
now, (for there was no seed, no root, no plant, which might germinate,)
but each suddenly sprung into existence at the command of God, and by the
power of his word. They possessed durable vigour, so that they might
stand by the force of their own nature, and not by that quickening
influence which is now perceived, not by the help of rain, not by the
irrigation or culture of man; but by the vapour with which God watered
the earth. For he excludes these two things, the rain whence the earth
derives moisture, that it may retain its native sap; and human culture,
which is the assistant of nature. When he says, that God had 'not yet
caused it to rain,' he at the same time intimates that it is God who
opens and shuts the cataracts of heaven, and that rain and drought are in
his hand.

7. "And the Lord God formed man." He now explains what he had before
omitted in the creation of man, that his body was taken out of the earth.
He had said that he was formed after the image of God. This is
incomparably the highest nobility; and, lest men should use it as an
occasion of pride, their first origin is placed immediately before them;
whence they may learn that this advantage was adventitious; for Moses
relates that man had been, in the beginning, dust of the earth. Let
foolish men now go and boast of the excellency of their nature!
Concerning other animals, it had before been said, Let the earth produce
every living creature; but, on the other hand, the body of Adam is formed
of clay, and destitute of sense; to the end that no one should exult
beyond measure in his flesh. He must be excessively stupid who does not
hence learn humility. That which is afterwards added from another
quarter, lays us under just so much obligation to God. Nevertheless, he,
at the same time, designed to distinguish man by some mark of excellence
from brute animals: for these arose out of the earth in a moment; but the
peculiar dignity of man is shown in this, that he was gradually formed.
For why did not God command him immediately to spring alive out of the
earth, unless that, by a special privilege, he might outshine all the
creatures which the earth produced?
  "And breathed into his nostrils." Whatever the greater part of the
ancients might think, I do not hesitate to subscribe to the opinion of
those who explain this passage of the animal life of man; and thus I
expound what they call the vital spirits by the word breath. Should any
one object, that if so, no distinction would be made between man and
other living creatures, since here Moses relates only what is common
alike to all: I answer, though here mention is made only of the lower
faculty of the soul, which imparts breath to the body, and gives it
vigour and motion: this does not prevent the human soul from having its
proper rank, and therefore it ought to be distinguished from others.
Moses first speaks of the breath; he then adds, that a soul was given to
man by which he might live, and be endued with sense and motion. Now we
know that the powers of the human mind are many and various. Wherefore,
there is nothing absurd in supposing that Moses here alludes only to one
of them; but omits the intellectual part, of which mention has been made
in the first chapter. Three gradations, indeed, are to be noted in the
creation of man; that his dead body was formed out of the dust of the
earth; that it was endued with a soul, whence it should receive vital
motion; and that on this soul God engraved his own image, to which
immortality is annexed.
  "Man became a living soul." I take "nefesh", for the very essence of
the soul: but the epithet living suits only the present place, and does
not embrace generally the powers of the soul. For Moses intended nothing
more than to explain the animating of the clayey figure, whereby it came
to pass that man began to live. Paul makes an antithesis between this
living soul and the quickening spirit which Christ confers upon the
faithful, (1 Cor. 15: 45,) for no other purpose than to teach us that the
state of man was not perfected in the person of Adam; but it is a
peculiar benefit conferred by Christ, that we may be renewed to a life
which is celestial, whereas before the fall of Adams man's life was only
earthly, seeing it had no firm and settled constancy.

8. "And the Lord God planted." Moses now adds the condition and rule of
living which were given to man. And, first, he narrates in what part of
the world he was placed, and what a happy and pleasant habitation was
allotted to him. Moses says, that God had planted accommodating himself,
by a simple and uncultivated style, to the capacity of the vulgar. For
since the majesty of God, as it really is, cannot be expressed, the
Scripture is wont to describe it according to the manner of men. God,
then, had planted Paradise in a place which he had especially embellished
with every variety of delights, with abounding fruits and with all other
most excellent gifts. For this reason it is called a garden, on account
of the elegance of its situation, and the beauty of its form. The ancient
interpreter has not improperly translated it Paradise; because the
Hebrews call the more highly cultivated gardens "Pardaisim", and Xenophon
pronounces the word to be Persian, when he treats of the magnificent and
sumptuous gardens of kings. That region which the Lord assigned to Adam,
as the firstborn of mankind, was one selected out of the whole world.
  "In Eden". That Jerome improperly translates this, from the beginning,
is very obvious: because Moses afterwards says, that Cain dwelt in the
southern region of this place. Moreover it is to be observed, that when
he describes paradise as in the east, he speaks in reference to the Jews,
for he directs his discourse to his own people. Hence we infer, in the
first place, that there was a certain region assigned by God to the first
man, in which he might have his home. I state this expressly, because
there have been authors who would extend this garden over all regions of
the world. Truly, I confess, that if the earth had not been cursed on
account of the sin of man, the whole--as it had been blessed from the
beginning--would have remained the fairest scene both of fruitfulness and
of delight; that it would have been, in short, not dissimilar to
Paradise, when compared with that scene of deformity which we now behold.
But when Moses here describes particularly the situation of the region,
they absurdly transfer what Moses said of a certain particular place to
the whole world. It is not indeed doubtful (as I just now hinted) that
God would choose the most fertile and pleasant place, the first-fruits
(so to speak) of the earth, as his gift to Adam, whom he had dignified
with the honour of primogeniture among men, in token of his special
favour. Again, we infer, that this garden was situated on the earth, not
as some dream in the air; for unless it had been a region of our world,
it would not have been placed opposite to Judea, towards the east. We
must, however, entirely reject the allegories of Origin, and of others
like him, which Satan, with the deepest subtlety, has endeavoured to
introduce into the Church, for the purpose of rendering the doctrine of
Scripture ambiguous and destitute of all certainty and firmness. It may
be, indeed, that some, impelled by a supposed necessity, have resorted to
an allegorical sense, because they never found in the world such a place
as is described by Moses: but we see that the greater part, through a
foolish affectation of subtleties, have been too much addicted to
allegories. As it concerns the present passage, they speculate in vain,
and to no purpose, by departing from the literal sense. For Moses has no
other design than to teach man that he was formed by God, with this
condition, that he should have dominion over the earth, from which he
might gather fruit, and thus learn by daily experience that the world was
subject unto him. What advantage is it to fly in the air, and to leave
the earth, where God has given proof of his benevolence towards the human
race? But some one may say, that to interpret this of celestial bliss is
more skilful. I answer, since the eternal inheritance of man is in
heaven, it is truly right that we should tend thither; yet must we fix
our foot on earth long enough to enable us to consider the abode which
God requires man to use for a time. For we are now conversant with that
history which teaches us that Adam was, by Divine appointment, an
inhabitant of the earth, in order that he might, in passing through his
earthly life, meditate on heavenly glory; and that he had been
bountifully enriched by the Lord with innumerable benefits, from the
enjoyment of which he might infer the paternal benevolence of God. Moses,
also, will hereafter subjoin that he was commanded to cultivate the
fields and permitted to eat certain fruits: all which things neither suit
the circle of the moon, nor the aerial regions. But although we have
said, that the situation of Paradise lay between the rising of the sun
and Judea, yet something more definite may be required respecting that
region. They who contend that it was in the vicinity of Mesopotamia, rely
on reasons not to be despised; because it is probable that the sons of
Eden were contiguous to the river Tigris. But as the description of it by
Moses will immediately follow, it is better to defer the consideration of
it to that place. The ancient interpreter has fallen into a mistake in
translating the proper name Eden by the word "pleasure." I do not indeed
deny that the place was so called from its delights; but it is easy to
infer that the name was imposed upon the place to distinguish it from

9. "And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow." The production here
spoken of belongs to the third day of the creation. But Moses expressly
declares the place to have been richly replenished with every kind of
fruitful trees, that there might be a full and happy abundance of all
things. This was purposely done by the Lord, to the end that the cupidity
of man might have the less excuse if, instead of being contented with
such remarkable affluence, sweetness, and variety, it should (as really
happened) precipitate itself against the commandment of God. The Holy
Spirit also designedly relates by Moses the greatness of Adam's
happiness, in order that his vile intemperance might the more clearly
appear, which such superfluity was unable to restrain from breaking forth
upon the forbidden fruit. And certainly it was shameful ingratitude, that
he could not rest in a state so happy and desirable: truly, that was more
than brutal lust which bounty so great was not able to satisfy. No corner
of the earth was then barren, nor was there even any which was not
exceedingly rich and fertile: but that benediction of God, which was
elsewhere comparatively moderate, had in this place poured itself
wonderfully forth. For not only was there an abundant supply of food, but
with it was added sweetness for the gratification of the palate, and
beauty to feast the eyes. Therefore, from such benignant indulgence, it
is more than sufficiently evident, how inexplicable had been the cupidity
of man.
  "The tree of life also". It is uncertain whether he means only two
individual trees, or two kinds of trees. Either opinion is probable, but
the point is by no means worthy of contention; since it is of little or
no concern to us, which of the two is maintained. There is more
importance in the epithets, which were applied to each tree from its
effect, and that not by the will of man but of God. He gave the tree of
life its name, not because it could confer on man that life with which he
had been previously endued, but in order that it might be a symbol and
memorial of the life which he had received from God. For we know it to be
by no means unusual that God should give to us the attestation of his
grace by external symbols. He does not indeed transfer his power into
outward signs; but by them he stretches out his hand to us, because,
without assistance, we cannot ascend to him. He intended, therefore, that
man, as often as he tasted the fruit of that tree, should remember whence
he received his life, in order that he might acknowledge that he lives
not by his own power, but by the kindness of God alone; and that life is
not (as they commonly speak) an intrinsic good, but proceeds from God.
Finally, in that tree there was a visible testimony to the declaration,
that 'in God we are, and live, and move.' But if Adams hitherto innocent,
and of an upright nature, had need of monitory signs to lead him to the
knowledge of divine grace, how much more necessary are signs now, in this
great imbecility of our nature, since we have fallen from the true light?
Yet I am not dissatisfied with what has been handed down by some of the
fathers, as Augustine and Eucherius, that the tree of life was a figure
of Christ, inasmuch as he is the Eternal Word of God: it could not indeed
be otherwise a symbol of life, than by representing him in figure. For we
must maintain what is declared in the first chapter of John, that the
life of all things was included in the Word, but especially the life of
men, which is conjoined with reason and intelligence. Wherefore, by this
sign, Adam was admonished, that he could claim nothing for himself as if
it were his own, in order that he might depend wholly upon the Son of
God, and might not seek life anywhere but in him. But if he, at the time
when he possessed life in safety, had it only as deposited in the word of
God, and could not otherwise retain it, than by acknowledging that it was
received from Him, whence may we recover it, after it has been lost? Let
us know, therefore, that when we have departed from Christ, nothing
remains for us but death.
  I know that certain writers restrict the meaning of the expression here
used to corporeal life. They suppose such a power of quickening the body
to have been in the tree, that it should never languish through age; but
I say, they omit what is the chief thing in life, namely, the grace of
intelligence; for we must always consider for what end man was formed,
and what rule of living was prescribed to him. Certainly, for him to
live, was not simply to have a body fresh and lively, but also to excel
in the endowments of the soul.
  Concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil, we must hold, that
it was prohibited to man, not because God would have him to stray like a
sheep, without judgment and without choice; but that he might not seek to
be wiser than became him, nor by trusting to his own understanding, cast
off the yoke of God, and constitute himself an arbiter and judge of good
and evil. His sin proceeded from an evil conscience; whence it follows,
that a judgment had been given him, by which he might discriminate
between virtues and vices. Nor could what Moses relates be otherwise
true, namely, that he was created in the image of God; since the image of
God comprises in itself the knowledge of him who is the chief good.
Thoroughly insane, therefore, and monsters of men are the libertines, who
pretend that we are restored to a state of innocence, when each is
carried away by his own lust without judgment. We now understand what is
meant by abstaining from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil;
namely, that Adam might not, in attempting one thing or another, rely
upon his own prudence; but that, cleaving to God alone, he might become
wise only by his obedience. Knowledge is here, therefore, taken
disparagingly, in a bad sense, for that wretched experience which man,
when he departed from the only fountain of perfect wisdom, began to
acquire for himself. And this is the origin of freewill, that Adam wished
to be independent, and dared to try what he was able to do.

10. "And a river went out". Moses says that one river flowed to water the
garden, which afterwards would divide itself into four heads. It is
sufficiently agreed among all, that two of these heads are the Euphrates
and the Tigris; for no one disputes that "Hiddekel" is the Tigris. But
there is a great controversy respecting the other two. Many think, that
Pison and Gihon are the Ganges and the Nile; the error, however, of these
men is abundantly refuted by the distance of the positions of these
rivers. Persons are not wanting who fly across even to the Danube; as if
indeed the habitation of one man stretched itself from the most remote
part of Asia to the extremity of Europe. But since many other celebrated
rivers flow by the region of which we are speaking, there is greater
probability in the opinion of those who believe that two of these rivers
are pointed out, although their names are now obsolete. Be this as it
may, the difficulty is not yet solved. For Moses divides the one river
which flowed by the garden into four heads. Yet it appears, that the
fountains of the Euphrates and the Tigris were far distant from each
other. From this difficulty, some would free themselves by saying, that
the surface of the globe may have been changed by the deluge; and,
therefore, they imagine it might have happened that the courses of the
rivers were disturbed and changed, and their springs transferred
elsewhere; a solution which appears to me by no means to be accepted. For
although I acknowledge that the earth, from the time that it was
accursed, became reduced from its native beauty to a state of wretched
defilement, and to a garb of mourning, and afterwards was further laid
waste in many places by the deluge; still, I assert, it was the same
earth which had been created in the beginning. Add to this, that Moses
(in my judgment) accommodated his topography to the capacity of his age.
Yet nothing is accomplished, unless we find that place where the Tigris
and Euphrates proceed from one river. Observe, first, that no mention is
made of a spring or fountain, but only that it is said, there was one
river. But the four heads I understand to mean, both the beginnings from
which the rivers are produced, and the mouths by which they discharge
themselves into the sea. Now the Euphrates was formerly so joined by
confluence with the Tigris, that it might justly be said, one river was
divided into four heads; especially if what is manifest to all be
conceded, that Moses does not speak acutely, nor in a philosophical
manner, but popularly, so that every one least informed may understand
him. Thus, in the first chapter, he called the sun and moon two great
luminaries; not because the moon exceeded other planets in magnitude, but
because, to common observation, it seemed greater. Add further, that he
seems to remove all doubt when he says, that the river had four heads,
because it was divided from that place. What does this mean, except that
the channels were divided, out of one confluent stream, either above or
below Paradise? I will now submit a plan to view, that the readers may
understand where I think Paradise was placed by Moses. (Here follows
Calvin's plan, which contains the name's Euphrates, The Great Armenia,
Tigris, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Arabian Desert, Seleucia, The Land of
Havila, Babylon, Babylonia, Syria, Chus, The Fal of Euphrates, The Fal of
Tigris, and The Golf of the Persian Sea.)
  Pliny indeed relates, in his Sixth Book, that the Euphrates was so
stopped in its course by the Orcheni, that it could not flow into the
sea, except through the Tigris. And Pomponius Mela, in his Third Book,
denies that it flowed by any given outlet, as other rivers, but says that
it failed in its course. Nearchus, however, (whom Alexander had made
commander of his fleet, and who, under his sanction, had navigated all
these regions,) reckons the distance from the mouth of the Euphrates to
Babylon, three thousand three hundred stadia. But he places the mouths of
the Tigris at the entrance of Susiana; in which region, returning from
that long and memorable voyage, he met the king with his fleet, as Adrian
relates in his Eighth Book of the Exploits of Alexander. This statement
Strabo also confirms by his testimony in his Fifteenth Book.
Nevertheless, wherever the Euphrates either submerges or mingles its
stream, it is certain, that it and the Tigris, below the point of their
confluence, are again divided. Adrian, however, in his Seventh Book,
writes that not one channel only of the Euphrates runs into the Tigris,
but also many rivers and ditches, because waters naturally descend from
higher to lower ground. With respect to the confluence, which I have
noted in the plate, the opinion of some was, that it had been effected be
the labour of the Praefect Cobaris, lest the Euphrates, by its
precipitate course, should injure Babylon. But he speaks of it as of a
doubtful matter. It is more credible, that men, by art and industry,
followed the guidance of Nature in forming ditches, when they saw the
Euphrates any where flowing of its own accord from the higher ground into
the Tigris. Moreover, if confidence is placed in Pomponius Mela,
Semiramis conducted the Tigris and Euphrates into Mesopotamia, which was
previously dry; a thing by no means credible. There is more truth in the
statement of Strabo,--a diligent and attentive writer,--in his Eleventh
Book, that at Babylon these two rivers unite: and then, that each is
carried separately, in its own bed, into the Red Sea. He understands that
junction to have taken place above Babylon, not far from the town
Massica, as we read in the Fifth Book of Pliny. Thence one river flows
through Babylon, the other glides by Seleucia, two of the most celebrated
and opulent cities. If we admit this confluence, by which the Euphrates
was mixed with the Tigris, to have been natural, and to have existed from
the beginning, all absurdity is removed. If there is anywhere under
heaven a region preeminent in beauty, in the abundance of all kinds of
fruit, in fertility, in delicacies, and in other gifts, that is the
region which writers most celebrate. Wherefore, the eulogies with which
Moses commends Paradise are such as properly belong to a tract of this
description. And that the region of Eden was situated in those parts is
probable from Isaiah 37: 12, and Ezekiel 27: 23. Moreover, when Moses
declares that a river went forth, I understand him as speaking of the
flowing of the stream; as if he had said, that Adam dwelt on the bank of
the river, or in that land which was watered on both sides if you choose
to take Paradise for both banks of the river. However, it makes no great
difference whether Adam dwelt below the confluent stream towards Babylon
and Seleucia, or in the higher part; it is enough that he occupied a
well-watered country. How the river was divided into four heads is not
difficult to understand. For there are two rivers which flow together
into one, and then separate in different directions; thus, it is one at
the point of confluence, but there are two heads in its upper channels,
and two towards the sea; afterwards, they again begin to be more widely
  The question remains concerning the names Pison and Gihon. For it does
not seem consonant with reason, to assign a double name to each of the
rivers. But it is nothing new for rivers to change their names in their
course, especially where there is any special mark of distinction. The
Tigris itself (by the authority of Pliny) is called Diglito near its
source; but after it has formed many channels, and again coalesces, it
takes the name of Pasitigris. There is, therefore, no absurdity in
saying, that after its confluence it had different names. Further there
is some such affinity between Pasin and Pison, as to render it not
improbable, that the name Pasitigris is a vestige of the ancient
appellation. In the Fifth Book of Quintus Curtis, concerning the Exploits
of Alexander, where mention is made of Pasitigris, some copies read, that
it was called by the inhabitants Pasin. Nor do the other circumstances,
by which Moses describes three of these rivers, in accord with this
supposition. Pison surrounds the land of Havila, where gold is produced.
Surrounding is rightly attributed to the Tigris, on account of its
winding course below Mesopotamia. The land of Havila, in my judgment, is
here taken for a region adjoining Persia. For subsequently, in the
twenty-fifth chapter, Moses relates, that the Ishmaelites dwelt from
Havila unto Shur, which is contiguous to Egypt, and through which the
road lies into Assyria. Havila, as one boundary, is opposed to Shur as
another, and this boundary Moses places near Egypt, on the side which
lies towards Assyria. Whence it follows, that Havila [the other boundary]
extends towards Susia and Persia. For it is necessary that it should lie
below Assyria towards the Persian Sea; besides, it is placed at a great
distance from Egypt; because Moses enumerates many nations which dwelt
between these boundaries. Then it appears that the Nabathaeans, of whom
mention is there made, were neighbours to the Persian. Every thing which
Moses asserts respecting gold and precious stones is most applicable to
this district.
  The river Gihon still remains to be noticed, which, as Moses declares,
waters the land of Chus. All interpreters translate this word Ethiopia;
but the country of the Midianites, and the conterminous country of
Arabia, are included under the same name by Moses; for which reason, his
wife is elsewhere called an Ethiopian woman. Moreover, since the lower
course of the Euphrates tends toward that region, I do not see why it
should be deemed absurd, that it there receives the name of Gihon. And
thus the simple meaning of Moses is, that the garden of which Adam was
the possessor was well watered, the channel of a river passing that way,
which was afterwards divided into four heads.

15. "And the Lord God took the man". Moses now adds, that the earth was
given to man, with this condition, that he should occupy himself in its
cultivation. Whence it follows that men were created to employ themselves
in some work, and not to lie down in inactivity and idleness. This
labour, truly, was pleasant, and full of delight, entirely exempt from
all trouble and weariness; since however God ordained that man should be
exercised in the culture of the ground, he condemned in his person, all
indolent repose. Wherefore, nothing is more contrary to the order of
nature, than to consume life in eating, drinking, and sleeping, while in
the meantime we propose nothing to ourselves to do. Moses adds, that the
custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam, to show that we
possess the things which God has committed to our hands, on the
condition, that being content with a frugal and moderate use of them, we
should take care of what shall remain. Let him who possesses a field, so
partake of its yearly fruits, that he may not suffer the ground to be
injured by his negligence; but let him endeavour to hand it down to
posterity as he received it, or even better cultivated. Let him so feed
on its fruits that he neither dissipates it by luxury, nor permits to be
marred or ruined by neglect. Moreover, that this economy, and this
diligence, with respect to those good things which God has given us to
enjoy, may flourish among us; let every one regard himself as the steward
of God in all things which he possesses. Then he will neither conduct
himself dissolutely, nor corrupt by abuse those things which God requires
to be preserved.

16. "And the Lord God commanded". Moses now teaches, that man was the
governor of the world, with this exception, that he should, nevertheless,
be subject to God. A law is imposed upon him in token of his subjection;
for it would have made no difference to God, if he had eaten
indiscriminately of any fruit he pleased. Therefore the prohibition of
one tree was a test of obedience. And in this mode, God designed that the
whole human race should be accustomed from the beginning to reverence his
Deity; as, doubtless, it was necessary that man, adorned and enriched
with so many excellent gifts, should be held under restraint, lest he
should break forth into licentiousness. There was, indeed, another
special reason, to which we have before alluded, lest Adam should desire
to be wise above measure; but this is to be kept in mind as God's general
design, that he would have men subject to his authority. Therefore,
abstinence from the fruit of one tree was a kind of first lesson in
obedience, that man might know he had a Director and Lord of his life, on
whose will he ought to depend, and in whose commands he ought to
acquiesce. And this, truly, is the only rule of living well and
rationally, that men should exercise themselves in obeying God. It seems,
however, to some as if this did not accord with the judgment of Paul,
when he teaches, that "the law was not made for the righteous," (1 Tim.
1: 9.) For if it be so, then, when Adam was yet innocent and upright, he
had no need of a law. But the solution is ready. For Paul is not there
writing controversially; but from the common practice of life, he
declares, that they who freely run, do not require to be compelled by the
necessity of law; as it is said, in the common proverb, that 'Good laws
spring from bad manners.' In the meantime, he does not deny that God,
from the beginning, imposed a law upon man, for the purpose of
maintaining the right due to himself. Should any one bring, as an
objection, another statement of Paul, where he asserts that the "law is
the minister of death," (2 Cor. 3: 7,) I answer, it is so accidentally,
and from the corruption of our nature. But at the time of which we speak,
a precept was given to man, whence he might know that God ruled over him.
These minute things, however I lightly pass over. What I have before

(continued in part 6...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-05.txt