(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 10)

mockery of himself; it is not surprising that he hates it, and is unable
to bear it; whence also it follows, that he rejects with contempt the
works of those who withdraw themselves from him. For it is his will,
first to have us devoted to himself; he then seeks our works in testimony
of our obedience to him, but only in the second place. It is to be
remarked, that all the figments by which men mock both God and themselves
are the fruits of unbelief: To this is added pride, because unbelievers,
despising the Mediator's grace, throw themselves fearlessly into the
presence of God. The Jews foolishly imagine that the oblations of Cain
were unacceptable, because he defrauded God of the full ears of corn, and
meanly offered him only barren or half-filled ears. Deeper and more
hidden was the evil; namely that impurity of heart of which I have been
speaking; just as, on the other hand, the strong scent of burning fat
could not conciliate the divine favour to the sacrifices of Abel; but,
being pervaded by the good odour of faith, they had a sweet-smelling
  "And Cain was very wroth." In this place it is asked, whence Cain
understood that his brother's oblations were preferred to his? The
Hebrews, according to their manner, report to divinations and imagine
that the sacrifice of Abel was consumed by celestial fire; but, since we
ought not to allow ourselves so great a license as to invent miracles,
for which we have no testimony of Scripture, let Jewish fables be
dismissed. It is, indeed, more probable, that Cain formed the judgement
which Moses records, from the events which followed. He saw that it was
better with his brother than with himself; thence he inferred, that God
was pleased with his brother, and displeased with himself. We know also,
that to hypocrites nothing seems of greater value, nothing is more to
their heart's content, then earthly blessing. moreover, in the person of
Cain is portrayed to us the likeness of a wicked man, who yet desires to
be esteemed just, and even arrogates to himself the first place among
saints. Such persons truly, by external works, strenuously labour to
deserve well at the hands of God; but, retaining a heart inwrapped in
deceit, they present to him nothing but a mask; so that, in their
labourious and anxious religious worship, there is nothing sincere,
nothing but mere pretence. When they afterwards see that they gain no
advantage, they betray the venom of their minds; for they not only
complain against God, but break forth in manifest fury, so that, if they
were able, they would gladly tear him don from his heavenly throne. Such
is the innate pride of all hypocrites, that, by the very appearance of
obedience, they would hold God as under obligation to them; because they
cannot escape from his authority, they try to sooth him with
blandishments, as they would a child; in the meantime, while they count
much of their fictitious trifles, they think that God does them great
wrong if he does not applaud them; but when he pronounces their offerings
frivolous and of no value in his sight, they first begin to murmur, and
then to rage. Their impiety alone hinders God from being reconciled unto
them; but they wish to bargain with God on their own terms. When this is
denied, they burn with furious indignation, which, though conceived
against God, they cast forth upon his children. Thus, when Cain was angry
with God, his fury was poured forth on his unoffending brother. When
Moses says, "his countenance fell," (the word countenance is in Hebrew
put in the plural number for the singular,) he means, that not only was
he seized with a sudden vehement anger, but that, from a lingering
sadness, he cherished a feeling so malignant that he was wasting with

6. "And the Lord said unto Cain." God now proceeds against Cain himself,
and cites him to His tribunal, that the wretched man may understand that
his rage can profit him nothing. He wishes honour to be given him for his
sacrifices; but because he does not obtain it, he is furiously angry.
Meanwhile, he does not consider that through his own fault he had failed
to gain his wish; for had he but been conscious of his inward evil, he
would have ceased to expostulate with God, and to rage against his
guiltless brother. Moses does not state in what manner God spoke. Whether
a vision was presented to him, or he heard an oracle from heaven, or was
admonished by secret inspiration, he certainly felt himself bound by a
divine judgment. To apply this to the person of Adam, as being the
prophet and interpreter of God in censuring his son, is constrained and
even frigid. I understand what it is which good men, not less pious than
learned, propose, when they sport with such fancies. Their intention is
to honour the external ministry of the word, and to cut off the occasion
which Satan takes to insinuate his illusions under the colour of
revelation. Truly I confess, nothing is more useful than that pious minds
should be retained, under the order of preaching, in obedience to the
Scripture, that they may not seek the mind of God in erratic
speculations. But we may observe, that the word of God was delivered from
the beginning by oracles, in order that afterwards, when administered by
the hands of men, it might receive the greater reverence. I also
acknowledge that the office of teaching was enjoined upon Adam, and do
not doubt that he diligently admonished his children: yet they who think
that God only spoke through his ministers, too violently restrict the
words of Moses. Let us rather conclude, that, before the heavenly
teaching was committed to public records, God often made known his will
by extraordinary methods, and that here was the foundation which
supported reverence for the word; while the doctrine delivered through
the hands of men was like the edifice itself. Certainly, though I should
be silent, all men would acknowledge how greatly such an imagination as
that to which we refer, abates the force of the divine reprimand.
Therefore, as the voice of God had previously so sounded in the ears of
Adam, that he certainly perceived God to speak; so is it also now
directed to Cain.

7. "If thou does well." In these words God reproves Cain for having been
unjustly angry, inasmuch as the blame of the whole evil lay with himself.
For foolish indeed was his complaint and indignation at the rejection of
sacrifices, the defects of which he had taken no care to amend. Thus all
wicked men, after they have been long and vehemently enraged against God,
are at length so convicted by the Divine judgment, that they vainly
desire to transfer to others the cause of the evil. The Greek
interpreters recede, in this place, far from the genuine meaning of
Moses. Since, in that age, there were none of those marks or points which
the Hebrews use instead of vowels, it was more easy, in consequence of
the affinity of words to each other, to strike into an extraneous sense.
I however, as any one, moderately versed in the Hebrew language, will
easily judge of their error, I will not pause to refute it. Yet even
those who are skilled in the Hebrew tongue differ not a little among
themselves, although only respecting a single word; for the Greeks change
the whole sentence. Among those who agree concerning the context and the
substance of the address, there is a difference respecting the word
"se'ait", which is truly in the imperative mood, but ought to be resolved
into a noun substantive. Yet this is not the real difficulty; but, since
the verb "nasa", signifies sometimes to exalt, sometimes to take away or
remit, sometimes to offer, and sometimes to accept, interpreters very
among themselves, as each adopts this or the other meaning. Some of the
Hebrew Doctors refer it to the countenance of Cain, as if God promised
that he would lift it up though now cast down with sorrow. Other of the
Hebrews apply it to the remission of sins; as if it had been said, 'Do
well, and thou shalt obtain pardon'. But because they imagine a
satisfaction, which derogates from free pardon, they dissent widely from
the meaning of Moses. A third exposition approaches more nearly to the
truth, that exaltation is to be taken for honour, in this way, 'There is
no need to envy thy brother's honour, because, if thou conductest thyself
rightly, God will also raise thee to the same degree of honour; though he
now, offended by thy sins, has condemned thee to ignominy.' But even this
does not meet my approbation. Others refine more philosophically, and
say, that Cain would find God propitious and would be assisted by his
grace, if he should by faith bring purity of heart with his outward
sacrifices. These I leave to enjoy their own opinion, but I fear they aim
at what has little solidity. Jerome translates the word, 'Thou shalt
receive;' understanding that God promises a reward to that pure and
lawful worship which he requires. Having recited the opinions of others,
let me now offer what appears to me more suitable. In the first place,
the word "seait" means the same thing as acceptance, and stands opposed
to rejection. Secondly, since the discourse has respect to the matter in
hand, I explain the saying as referring to sacrifices, namely, that God
will accept them when rightly offered. They who are skilled in the Hebrew
language know that here is nothing forced, or remote from the genuine
signification of the word. Now the very order of things leads us to the
same point: namely, that God pronounces those sacrifices repudiated and
rejected, as being of no value, which are offered improperly; but that
the oblation will be accepted, as pleasant and of good odour, if it be
pure and legitimate. We now perceive how unjustly Cain was angry that his
sacrifices were not honoured seeing that God was ready to receive them
with outstretched hands, provided they ceased to be faulty. At the same
time, however; what I before said must be recalled to memory, that the
chief point of well-doing is, for pious persons, relying on Christ the
Mediator, and on the gratuitous reconciliation procured by him, to
endeavour to worship God sincerely and without dissimulation. Therefore,
these two things are joined together by a mutual connection: that the
faithful, as often as they enter into the presence of God, are commended
by the grace of Christ alone, their sins being blotted out; and yet that
they bring thither true purity of heart.
  "And if thou does not well." On the other hand, God pronounces a
dreadful sentence against Cain, if he harden his mill in wickedness and
indulge himself in his crime; for the address is very emphatical, because
God not only repels his unjust complaint, but shows that Cain could have
no greater adversary than that sin of his which he inwardly cherished. He
so binds the impious man, by a few concise words, that he can find no
refuge, as if he had said, 'Thy obstinacy shall not profit thee; for,
though thou shouldst have nothing to do with me, thy sin shall give thee
no rest, but shall drive thee on, pursue thee, and urge thee, and never
suffer thee to escape.' Hence it follows, that he not only raged in vain
and to no profit; but was held guilty by his own inward conviction, even
though no one should accuse him; for the expression, 'Sin lieth at the
door", relates to the interior judgement of the conscience, which presses
upon the man convinced of his sin, and besieges him on every side.
Although the impious may imagine that God slumbers in heaven, and may
strive, as far as possible, to repel the fear of his judgment; yet sin
will be perpetually drawing them back, though reluctant and fugitives, to
that tribunal from which they endeavour to retire. The declarations even
of heathens testify that they were not ignorant of this truth; for it is
not to be doubted that, when they say, 'Conscience is like a thousand
witnesses,' they compare it to a most cruel executioner. There is no
torment more grievous or severe than that which is hence perceived;
moreover, God himself extorts confessions of this kind. Juvenal says:--
      "Heaven's high revenge on human crimes behold;
      Though earthly verdicts may be bought and sold,
      His judge the sinner in his bosom bears,
      And conscience racks him with tormenting cares. 
  But the expression of Moses has peculiar energy. Sin is said to lie,
but it is at the door; for the sinner is not immediately tormented with
the fear of judgment; but, gathering around him whatever delights he is
able, in order to deceive himself; he walks as in free space, and even
revels as in pleasant meadows; when, however, he comes to the door, there
he meets with sin, keeping constant guard; and then conscience, which
before thought itself at liberty, is arrested, and receives, double
punishment for the delay.
  "And unto thee shall be his desire." Nearly all commentators refer this
to sin, and think that, by this admonition, those depraved hosts are
restrained which solicit and impel the mind of man. Therefore, according
to their view, the meaning will be of this kind, 'If sin rises against
thee to subdue thee, why dost thou indulge it, and not rather labour to
restrain and control it? For it is thy part to subdue and bring into
obedience those affections in thy flesh which thou perceivest to be
opposed to the will of God, and rebellious against him.' But I suppose
that Moses means something entirely different. I omit to notice that to
the Hebrew word for sin is affixed the mark of the feminine gender, but
that here two masculine relative pronouns are used. Certainly Moses does
not treat particularly of the sin itself which was committed, but of the
guilt which is contracted from it, and of the consequent condemnation.
How, then, do these words. suit, 'Unto thee shall be his desire?' There
will, however be no need for long refutation when I shall produce the
genuine meaning of the expression. It rather seems to be a reproof, by
which God charges the impious man with ingratitude, because he held in
contempt the honour of primogeniture. The greater are the divine benefits
with which any one of us is adorned, the more does he betray his impiety
unless he endeavours earnestly to serve the Author of grace to whom he is
under obligation. When Abel was regarded as his brother's inferior, he
was, nevertheless, a diligent worshipper of God. But the firstborn
worshipped God negligently and perfunctorily, though he had, by the
Divine kindness, arrived at so high a dignity; and, therefore, God
enlarges upon his sin, because he had not at least imitated his brother,
whom he ought to have surpassed as far in piety as he did in the degree
of honour. Moreover, this form of speech is common among the Hebrews,
that the desire of the inferior should be towards him to whose will he is
subject; thus Moses speaks of the woman, (3: 16,) that her desire should
be to her husband. They, however, childishly trifle, who distort this
passage to prove the freedom of the will; for if we grant that Cain was
admonished of his duty in order that he might apply himself to the
subjugation of sin, yet no inherent power of man is to be hence inferred;
because it is certain that only by the grace of the Holy Spirit can the
affections of the flesh be so mortified that they shall not prevail. Nor,
truly, must we conclude, that as often as God commands anything we shall
have strength to perform it, but rather we must hold fast the saying of
Augustine, 'Give what thou commandest, and command what thou wilt.'

8. "And Cain talked with Abel his brother". Some understand this
conversation to have been general; as if Cain, perfidiously dissembling
his anger, spoke in a fraternal manner. Jerome relates the language used,
'Come, let us go without.' In my opinion the speech is elliptical, and
something is to be understood, yet what it is remains uncertain.
Nevertheless, I am not dissatisfied with the explanation, that Moses
concisely reprehends the wicked perfidy of the hypocrite, who, by
speaking familiarly, presented the appearance of fraternal concord, until
the opportunity of perpetrating the horrid murder should be afforded. And
by this example we are taught that hypocrites are never to be more
dreaded than when they stoop to converse under the pretext of friendship;
because when they are not permitted to injure by open violence as much as
they please, suddenly they assume a feigned appearance of peace. But it
is by no means to be expected that they who are as savage beasts towards
God, should sincerely cultivate the confidence of friendship with men.
yet let the reader consider whether Moses did not rather mean, that
although Cain was rebuked by God, he, nevertheless, contended with his
brother, and thus this saying of his would depend on what had preceded. I
certainly rather incline to the opinion that he did not keep his
malignant feelings within his own breast, but that he broke forth in
accusation against his brother, and angrily declared to him the cause at
his dejection.
  "When they were in the field". Hence we gather that although Cain had
complained of his brother at home, he had yet so covered the diabolical
fury with which he burned, that Abel suspected nothing worse; for he
deferred vengeance to a suitable time. Moreover, this single deed of
guilt clearly shows whither Satan will hurry men, when they harden their
mind in wickedness, so that in the end, their obstinacy is worthy of the
utmost extremes of punishment.

9 "Where is Abel?" They who suppose that the father made this inquiry of
Cain respecting his son Abel, enervate the whole force of the instruction
which Moses here intended to deliver; namely, that God, both by secret
inspiration, and by some extraordinary method, cited the parricide to his
tribunal, as if he had thundered from heaven. For, what I have before
said must be firmly maintained that, as God now speaks until us through
the Scriptures, so he formerly manifested himself to the Fathers through
oracles; and also in the same meaner, revealed his judgements to the
reprobate sons of the saints. So the angel spoke to Agar in the wood,
after she had fallen away from the Church, as we shall see in the eighth
verse of the sixteenth chapter. It is indeed possible that God may have
interrogated Cain by the silent examinations of his conscience; and that
he, in return, may have answered, inwardly fretting, and murmuring. We
must, however, conclude, that he was examined, not barely by the external
voice of man, but by a Divine voice, so as to make him feel that he had
to deal directly with God. As often, then as the secret compunctions of
conscience invite us to reflect upon our sins, let us remember that God
himself is speaking, with us. For that interior sense by which we are
convicted of sin is the peculiar judgement-seat of God, where he
exercises his jurisdiction. Let those, therefore, whose consciences
accuse them, beware lest, after the example of Cain, they confirm
themselves in obstinacy. For this is truly to kick against God, and to
resist his Spirit; when we repel those thoughts, which are nothing else
than incentives to repentance. But it is a fault too common, to add at
length to former sins such perverseness, that he who is compelled,
whether he will or not, to feel sin in his mind, shall yet refuse to
yield to God. Hence it appears how great is the depravity of the human
mind; since, when convicted and condemned by our own conscience, we still
do not cease either to mock, or to rage against our Judge. Prodigious was
the stupor of Cain, who, having committed a crime so great, ferociously
rejected the reproof of God, from whose hand he was nevertheless unable
to escape. But the same thing daily happens to all the wicked; every one
of whom desires to be deemed ingenious in catching at excuses. For the
human heart is so entangled in winding labyrinths, that it is easy for
the wicked to add obstinate contempt of God to their crimes; not because
their contumacy is sufficiently firm to withstand the judgment of God,
(for, although they hide themselves in the deep recesses of which I have
spoken, they are, nevertheless, always secretly burned, as with a hot
iron,) but because, by a blind obstinacy they render themselves callous.
Hence, the force of the Divine judgment is clearly perceived; for it so
pierces into the iron hearts of the wicked, that they are inwardly
compelled to be their own judges; nor does it suffer them so to
obliterate the sense of guilt which it has extorted, as not to leave the
trace or scar of the searing. Cain, in denying that he was the keeper of
his brother's life, although, with ferocious rebellion, he attempts
violently to repel the judgment of God, yet thinks to escape by this
cavil, that he was not required to give an account of his murdered
brother, because he had received no express command to take care of him.

10. "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood." Moses shows
that Cain gained nothing by his tergiversation. God first inquired where
his brother was; he now more closely urges him, in order to extort an
unwilling confession of his guilt; for in no racks or tortures of any
kind is there so much force to constrain evildoers, as there was efficacy
in the thunder of the Divine voice to cast down Cain in confusion to the
ground. For God no longer asks whether he had done it; but, pronouncing
in a single word that he was the doer of it, he aggravates the atrocity
of the crime. We learn, then, in the person of one man, what an unhappy
issue of their cause awaits those, who desire to extricate themselves by
contending against God. For He, the Searcher of hearts, has no need of a
long, circuitous course of investigation; but, with one word, so
fulminates against those whom he accuses, as to be sufficient, and more
than sufficient, for their condemnation. Advocates place the first kind
of defense in the denial of the fact; where the fact cannot be denied,
they have recourse to the qualifying circumstances of the case. Cain is
driven from both these defenses; for God both pronounces him guilty of
the slaughter, and, at the same time, declares the heinousness of the
crime. And we are warned by his example, that pretexts and subterfuges
are heaped together in vain, when sinners are cited to the tribunal of
  "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth." God first shows that he is
cognizant of the deeds of men, though no one should complain of or accuse
them; secondly that he holds the life of man too dear, to allow innocent
blood to be shed with impunity; thirdly, that he cares for the pious not
only while they live, but even after death. However earthly judges may
sleep, unless an accuser appeals to them; yet even when he who is injured
is silent the injuries themselves are alone sufficient to arouse God to
inflict punishment. This is a wonderfully sweet consolation to good men,
who are unjustly harassed, when they hear that their own sufferings,
which they silently endure, go into the presence of God of their own
accord, to demand vengeance. Abel was speechless when his throat was
being cut, or in whatever other manner he was losing his life; but after
death the voice of his blood was more vehement than any eloquence of the
orator. Thus oppression and silence do not hinder God from judging, or
the cause which the world supposes to be buried. This consolation affords
us most abundant reason for patience when we learn that we shall lose
nothing of our right, if we bear injuries with moderation and equanimity;
and that God will be so much the more ready to vindicate us, the more
modestly we submit ourselves to endure all things; because the placid
silence of the soul raises effectual cries, which fill heaven and earth.
Nor does this doctrine apply merely to the state of the present life, to
teach us that among the innumerable dangers by which we are surrounded,
we shall be safe under the guardianship of God; but it elevates us by the
hope of a better life; because we must conclude that those for whom God
cares shall survive after death. And, on the other hand, this
consideration should strike terror into the wicked and violent, that God
declares, that he undertakes the causes deserted by human patronage, not
in consequence of any foreign impulse, but from his own nature; and that
he will be the sure avenger of crimes, although the injured make no
complaint. Murderers indeed often exult, as if they had evaded
punishment; but at length God will show that innocent blood has not been
mute, and that he has not said in vain, 'the death of the saints is
precious in his eyes,' (Psalm 115: 17.) Therefore, as this doctrine
brings relief to the faithful, lest they should be too anxious concerning
their life, over which they learn that God continually watches; so does
it vehemently thunder against the ungodly who do not scruple wickedly to
injure and to destroy those whom God has undertaken to preserve.

11. "And now art thou cursed from the earth." Cain, having been convicted
of the crime, judgment is now pronounced against him. And first, God
constitutes the earth the minister of his vengeance, as having been
polluted by the impious and horrible parricide: as if he had said, 'Thou
didst just now deny to me the murder which thou hast committed, but the
senseless earth itself will demand thy punishment.' He does this,
however, to aggravate the enormity of the crime, as if a kind of
contagion flowed from it even to the earth, for which the execution of
punishment was required. The imagination of some, that cruelty is here
ascribed to the earth, as if God compared it to a wild beast, which had
drunk up the blood of Abel, is far from the true meaning. Clemency is
rather, in my judgment, by personification, imputed to it; because, in
abhorrence of the pollution, it had opened its mouth to cover the blood
which had been shed by a brother's hand. Most detestable is the cruelty
of this man, who does not shrink from pouring forth his neighbour's
blood, of which the bosom of the earth becomes the receptacle. Yet we
must not here imagine any miracle, as if the blood had been absorbed by
any unusual opening of the earth; but the speech is figurative,
signifying that there was more humanity in the earth than in man himself.
Moreover, they who think that, because Cain is now cursed in stronger
words than Adam had previously been, God had dealt more gently with the
first man, from a design to spare the human race; have some colour for
their opinion. Adam heard the words, "Cursed is the ground for thy sake:"
but now the shaft of divine vengeance vibrates against, and transfixes
the person of Cain. The opinion of others, that temporal punishment is
intended, because it is said, Thou art cursed from the "earth", rather
than from "heaven", lest the posterity of Cain, being cut off from the
hope of salvation, should rush the more boldly on their own damnation,
seems to me not sufficiently confirmed. I rather interpret the passage
thus: Judgment was committed to the earth, in order that Cain might
understand that his judge had not to be summoned from a distance; that
there was no need for an angel to descend from heaven, since the earth
voluntarily offered itself as the avenger.

12. "When thou tillest the ground." This verse is the exposition of the
former; for it expresses more clearly what is meant by being cursed from
the earth, namely, that the earth defrauds its cultivators of the fruit
of their toil. Should any one object that this punishment had before been
alike inflicted on all mortals, in the person of Adam; my answer is, I
have no doubt that something of the benediction which had hitherto
remained, was now further withdrawn with respect to the murderer, in
order that he might privately feel the very earth to be hostile to him.
For although, generally, God causes his sun daily to rise upon the good
and the evil, (Matth. 5: 45,) yet, in the meantime, (as often as he sees
good,) he punished the sins, sometimes of a whole nation, and sometimes
of certain men, with rain and hail, and clouds, so far, at least, as is
useful to give determinate proof of future judgment; and also for the
purpose of admonishing the world, by such examples, that nothing can
succeed when God is angry with and opposed to them. Moreover in the first
murder, God designed to exhibit a singular example of malediction, the
memory of which should remain in all ages.
  "A fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be." Another punishment is now
also inflicted; namely, that he never could be safe, to whatever place he
might come. Moses uses two words, little differing from each other,
except that the former is derived from "noa", which is to wander, the
other from "nadad", which signifies to flee. The distinction which some
make, that "na" is he who never has a settled habitations but "nad", he
who knows not which way he ought to turn; as it is defective in proof, is
with me of no weight. The genuine sense then of the words is, that
wherever Cain might come, he should be unsettled and a fugitive; as
robbers are wont to be, who have no quiet and secure resting-place; for
the face of every man strikes terror into them; and, on the other hand,
they have a horror of solitude. But this seems to some by no means a
suitable punishment for a murderer, since it is rather the destined
condition of the sons of God; for they, more than all others, feel
themselves to be strangers in the world. And Paul complains that both he
and his companions are without a certain dwelling-place, (1 Cor. 4: 11.)
To which I answer, that Cain was not only condemned to personal exile,
but was also subjected to still more severe punishment; namely, that he
should find no region of the earth where he would not be of a restless
and fearful mind; for as a good conscience is properly called 'a brazen
walls' so neither a hundred walls, nor as many fortresses, can free the
wicked from disquietude. The faithful are strangers upon the earth, yet,
nevertheless, they enjoy a tranquil temporary abode. Often, constrained
by necessity, they wander from place to place, but wheresoever the
tempest bears them, they carry with them a sedate mind; till finally by
perpetual change of place, they so run their course, and pass through the
world, that they are everywhere sustained by the supporting hand of God.
Such security is denied to the wicked, whom all creatures threaten; and
should even all creatures favour them, still the mind itself is so
turbulent that it does not suffer them to rest. In this manner, Cain,
even if he bad not changed his place, could not have shaken off the
trepidation which God had fixed in his mind; nor did the fact, that he
was the first man who built a city, prevent him from being always
restless even in his own nest.

13. "My punishment is greater, &c." Nearly all commentators agree that
this is the language of desperation; because Cain, confounded by the
judgment of God, had no remaining hope of pardon. And this, indeed, is
true, that the reprobate are never conscious of their evils, till a ruin,
from which they cannot escape, overtakes them; yea, truly, when the
sinner, obstinate to the last, mocks the patience of God, this is the due
reward of his late repentance that he feels a horrible torment for which
there is no remedy,--if, truly, that blind and astonished dread of
punishments which is without any hatred of sin, or any desire to return
to God, can be called repentance;--so even Judas confesses his sin, but,
overwhelmed with fear, flies as far as possible from the presence of God.
And it is certainly true, that the reprobates have no medium; as long as
any relaxation is allowed them, they slumber securely; but when the anger
of God presses upon them, they are broken rather than corrected.
Therefore their fear stuns them, so that they can think of nothing but of
hell and eternal destruction. However, I doubt not, that the words have
another meaning. For I rather take the term "awoon" in its proper
signification; and the word "nasa", I interpret by the word to bear. 'A
greater punishment (he says) is imposed upon me than I can bear.' In this
manner, Cain, although he does not excuse his sin, having been driven
from every shift; yet complains of the intolerable severity of his
judgement. So also the devils, although they feel that they are justly
tormented, yet do not cease to rage against God their judge, and to
charge him with cruelty. And immediately follows the explanation of these
words: 'Behold, thou hast driven me from the face of the earth, and I am
hidden from thy face.' In which expression he openly expostulates with
God, that he is treated more hardly than is just, no clemency or
moderation being shown him. For it is precisely as if he had said, 'If a
safe habitation is denied me in the world, and thou dost not deign to
care for me, what dost thou leave me? Would it not be better to die at
once than to be constantly exposed to a thousand deaths? ' Whence we
infer, that the reprobate, however clearly they may be convicted, make no
end of storming; insomuch that through their impatience and fury, they
seize on occasions of contest; as if they were able to excite enmity
against God on account of the severity of their own sufferings. This
passage also clearly teaches what was the nature of that wandering
condition, or exile, which Moses had just mentioned; namely, that no
corner of the earth should be left him by God, in which he might quietly
repose. For, being excluded from the common rights of mankind, so as to
be no more reckoned among the legitimate inhabitants of the earth, he
declares that he is cast out from the face of the earth, and therefore
shall become a fugitive, because the earth will deny him a habitation;
hence it would be necessary, that he should occupy as a robber, what he
did not possess by right. To be 'hidden from the face of God,' is to be
not regarded by God, or not protected by his guardian care. This
confession also, which God extorted from the impious murderer, is a proof
that there is no peace for men, unless they acquiesce in the providence
of God, and are persuaded that their lives are the object of his care; it
is also a proof, that they can only quietly enjoy any of God's benefits
so long as they regard themselves as placed in the world, on this
condition, that they pass their lives under his government. How wretched
then is the instability of the wicked, who know that not a foot of earth
is granted to them by God!

14. "Every one that findeth me." Since he is no longer covered by the
protection of God, he concludes that he shall be exposed to injury and
violence from all men. And he reasons justly; for the hand of God alone
marvelously preserves us amid so many dangers. And they have spoken
prudently who have said, not only that our life hangs on a thread, but
also that we have been received into this fleeting life, out of the womb,
from a hundred deaths. Cain, however, in this place, not only considers
himself as deprived of God's protection, but also supposes all creatures
to be divinely armed to take vengeance of his impious murder. This is the
reason why he so greatly fears for his life from any one who may meet
him; for as man is a social animal, and all naturally desire mutual

(continued in part 11...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-10.txt