(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 21)

them to regard him as one who was not, by any means, to be despised. Nay,
as he had so great a family, he might also have been numbered among
kings, if he had not been a stranger and a sojourner. But God purposed
thus to provide for his peace, by a covenant relating to temporal things
in order that he never might be mingled with those nations. Moreover,
that this whole transaction was divinely ordered we may readily
conjecture from the fact, that his associates did not hesitate, at great
risk, to assail four kings, who (according to the state of the times)
were sufficiently strong, and were flushed with the confidence of
victory. Surely they would scarcely ever have been thus favourable to a
stranger, except by a secret impulse of God.

14. "When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive." Moses briefly
explains the cause of the war which was undertaken; namely, that Abram
might rescue his relation from captivity. Meanwhile, what I have before
said is to be remembered, that he did not rashly fly to arms; but took
them as from the hand of God, who had constituted him lord of that land.
With reference to the words themselves, I know not why the ancient
interpreter has rendered them, 'Abram numbered his trained servants.' For
the word "rik" signifies to unsheathe, or to draw out. Now Moses calls
these servants "chaninim", not as having been educated and trained for
military service, as many suppose; but rather (in my opinion) as having
been brought up under his own authority, and imbued from childhood with
his discipline; so that they fought the more courageously, being
stimulated by his faith, and going forth under his auspices; and were
ready to undergo every kind of danger for his sake. But in this great
household troop, we must notice, not only the diligence of the holy
patriarch, but the special blessing of God, by which it had been
increased beyond the common and usual manner.

15. "And he divided himself against them." Some explain the words to mean
that Abram alone, with his domestic troops, rushed upon the enemy.
Others, that he and his three confederates divided their bands, in order
to strike greater terror into the foe. A third class suppose the phrase
to be a Hebraism, for making an irruption into the midst of the enemy. I
rather embrace the second exposition; namely, that he invaded the enemy
on different sides, and suddenly inspired them with terror. For the
circumstance of time favours this view, because he attacked them by
night. And although examples of similar bravery occur in profane history;
yet it ought to be ascribed to the faith of Abram, that with a small
band, he dared to assail a numerous army elated with victory. But that he
came off conqueror with little trouble, and with intrepidity pursued
those who far exceeded him in number, we must ascribe to the favour of

17. "And the king of Sodom went out." Although the king of Sodom knew
that Abram had taken arms only on account of his nephew, yet he went to
meet him with due honour, in order to show his gratitude. For it is a
natural duty to acknowledge benefits conferred upon us, even when not
intentionally rendered, but only from unexpected circumstances and
occasions, or (as we say) by accident. Moreover, the whole affair yields
greater glory to God, because the victory of Abram was celebrated in this
manner. He also marks the place where the king of Sodom met Abram,
namely, "the king's dale," which I think was so called, rather after some
particular king, than because those kings met there for their pleasure.

18. "And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth." This is the last of
the three principal points of this history, that Melchizedek, the chief
father of the Church, having entertained Abram at a feast, blessed him,
in virtue of his priesthood, and received tithes from him. There is no
doubt that by the coming of this king to meet him, God also designed to
render the victory of Abram famous and memorable to posterity. But a more
exalted and excellent mystery was, at the same time, adumbrated: for
seeing that the holy patriarch, whom God had raised to the highest rank
of honour, submitted himself to Melchizedek, it is not to be doubted that
God had constituted him the only head of the whole Church; for, without
controversy, the solemn act of benediction, which Melchizedek assumed to
himself, was a symbol of preeminent dignity. If any one replies, that he
did this as a priest; I ask, was not Abram also a priest? Therefore God
here commends to us something peculiar in Melchizedek, in preferring him
before the father of all the faithful. But it will be more satisfactory
to examine the passage word by word, in regular order, that we may thence
better gather the import of the whole. That he received Abram and his
companions as guests belonged to his royalty; but the benediction
pertained especially to his sacerdotal office. Therefore, the words of
Moses ought to be thus connected: Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth
bread and wine; and seeing he was the priest of God, he blessed Abram;
thus to each character is distinctly attributed what is its own. He
refreshed a wearied and famishing army with royal liberality; but because
he was a priest, he blessed, by the rite of solemn prayer, the firstborn
son of God, and the father of the Church. Moreover, although I do not
deny that it was the most ancient custom, for those who were kings to
fulfill also the office of the priesthood; yet this appears to have been,
even in that age, extraordinary in Melchizedek. And truly he is honoured
with no common eulogy, when the Spirit ratifies his priesthood. We know
how, at that time, religion was everywhere corrupted since Abram himself,
who was descended from the sacred race of Shem and Eber, had been plunged
in the profound vortex of superstitions with his father and grandfather.
Therefore many imagine Melchizedek to have been Shem; to whose opinion I
am, for many reasons, hindered from subscribing. For the Lord would not
have designated a man, worthy of eternal memory, by a name so new and
obscure, that he must remain unknown. Secondly, it is not probable that
Shem had migrated from the east into Judea; and nothing of the kind is to
be gathered from Moses. Thirdly, if Shem had dwelt in the land of Canaan,
Abram would not have wandered by such winding courses, as Moses has
previously related, before he went to salute his ancestor. But the
declaration of the Apostle is of the greatest weight; that this
Melchizedek, whoever he was, is presented before us, without any origin,
as if he had dropped from the clouds, and that his name is buried without
any mention of his death. (Heb. 7: 3.) But the admirable grace of God
shines more clearly in a person unknown; because, amid the corruptions of
the world, he alone, in that land, was an upright and sincere cultivator
and guardian of religion. I omit the absurdities which Jerome, in his
Epistle to Evagrius, heaps together; lest, without any advantage, I
should become troublesome, and even offensive to the reader. I readily
believe that Salem is to be taken for Jerusalem; and this is the
generally received interpretation. If, however, any one chooses rather to
embrace a contrary opinion, seeing that the town was situated in a plain,
I do not oppose it. On this point Jerome thinks differently:
nevertheless, what he elsewhere relates, that in his own times some
vestiges of the palace of Melchizedek were still extant in the ancient
ruins, appears to me improbable.
  It now remains to be seen how Melchizedek bore the image of Christ, and
became, as it were, his representative, (avtitupos.) These are the words
of David, "The Lord sware, and will not repent, Thou art a priest
forever, after the order of Melchizedek," (Psalm 110: 4.) First, he had
placed him on a royal throne, and now he gives him the honour of the
priesthood. But under the Law, these two offices were so distinct, that
it was unlawful for kings to usurp the office of the priesthood. If,
therefore, we concede as true, what Plato declares, and what occasionally
occurs in the poets, that it was formerly received, by the common custom
of nations, that the same person should be both king and priest; this was
by no means the case with David and his posterity, whom the Law
peremptorily forbade to intrude on the priestly office. It was therefore
right, that what was divinely appointed under the old law, should be
abrogated in the person of this priest. And the Apostle does not contend
without reason, that a more excellent priesthood than that old and
shadowy one, was here pointed out; which priesthood is confirmed by an
oath. Moreover, we never find that king and priest, who is to be
preeminent over all, till we come to Christ. And as no one has arisen
except Christ, who equalled Melchizedek in dignity, still less who
excelled him; we hence infer that the image of Christ was presented to
the fathers, in his person. David, indeed, does not propose a similitude
framed by himself; but declares the reason for which the kingdom of
Christ was divinely ordained, and even confirmed with an oath; and it is
not to be doubted that the same truth had previously been traditionally
handed down by the fathers. The sum of the whole is, that Christ would
thus be the king next to God, and also that he should be anointed priest,
and that for ever; which it is very useful for us to know, in order that
we may learn that the royal power of Christ is combined with the office
of priest. The same Person, therefore who was constituted the only and
eternal Priest, in order that he might reconcile us to God, and who,
having made expiation, might intercede for us, is also a King of infinite
power to secure our salvation, and to protect us by his guardian care.
Hence it follows, that relying on his advocacy, we may stand boldly in
the presence of God, who will, we are assured, be propitious to us; and
that trusting in his invincible arm, we may securely triumph over enemies
of every kind. But they who separate one office from the other, rend
Christ asunder, and subvert their own faith, which is deprived of half
its support. It is also to be observed, that Christ is called an eternal
King, like Melchizedek. For since the Scripture, by assigning no end to
his life, leaves him as if he were to survive through all ages; it
certainly represents or shadows forth to us, in his person, a figure, not
of a temporal, but of an eternal kingdom. But whereas Christ, by his
death, has accomplished the office of Priest, it follows that God was, by
that one sacrifice, once appeased in such a manner, that now
reconciliation is to be sought in Christ alone. Therefore, they do him
grievous wrong, and wrest from him by abominable sacrilege, the honour
divinely conferred upon him by an oaths who either institute other
sacrifices for the expiation of sins, or who make other priests. And I
wish this had been prudently weighed by the ancient writers of the
Church. For then would they not so coolly, and even so ignorantly, have
transferred to the bread and wine the similitude between Christ and
Melchizedek, which consists in things very different. They have supposed
that Melchizedek is the image of Christ, because he offered bread and
wine. For they add, that Christ offered his body, which is life-giving
bread, and his blood, which is spiritual drink. But the Apostle, while in
his Epistle to the Hebrews, he most accurately collects, and specifically
prosecutes, every point of similarity between Christ and Melchizedek,
says not a word concerning the bread and wine. If the subtleties of
Tertullian, and of others like him, were true, it would have been a
culpable negligence, not to bestow a single syllable upon the principal
point, while discussing the separate parts, which were of comparatively
trivial importance. And seeing the Apostle disputes at so great length,
and with such minuteness, concerning the priesthood; how gross an
instance of forgetfulness would it have been, not to touch upon that
memorable sacrifice, in which the whole force of the priesthood was
comprehended? He proves the honour of Melchizedek from the benediction
given, and tithes received: how much better would it have suited this
argument to have said, that he offered not lambs or calves, but the life
of the world, (that is, the body and blood of Christ,) in a figure? By
these arguments the fictions of the ancients are abundantly refuted.
Nevertheless, from the very words of Moses a sufficiently lucid
refutation may be taken. For we do not there read that anything was
offered to God; but in one continued discourse it is stated, 'He offered
bread and wine; and seeing he was priest of the Most High God, he blessed
him.' ho does not see that the same relative pronoun is common to both
verbs; and therefore that Abram was both refreshed with the wine, and
honoured with the benediction? Utterly ridiculous truly are the Papists,
who distort the offerings of bread and wine to the sacrifice of their
mass. For in order to bring Melchizedek into agreement with themselves,
it will be necessary for them to concede that bread and wine are offered
in the mass. Where, then, is transubstantiation, which leaves nothing
except the bare species of the elements? Then, with what audacity do they
declare that the body of Christ is immolated in their sacrifices? Under
what pretext, since the Son of God is called the only successor of
Melchizedek, do they substitute innumerable successors for him? We see,
then, how foolishly they not only deprave this passage, but babble
without the colour of reason.

19. "And he blessed him." Unless these two members of the sentence, 'He
was the priest of God,' and 'He blessed,' cohere together, Moses here
relates nothing uncommon. For men mutually bless each other; that is,
they wish well to each other. But here the priest of God is described,
who, according to the right of his office, sanctifies one inferior and
subject to himself. For he would never have dared to bless Abram, unless
he had known, that in this respect he excelled him. In this manner the
Levitical priests are commanded to bless the people; and God promises
that the blessing should be efficacious and ratified, (Num. 6: 23.) So
Christ, when about to ascend up to heaven, having lifted up his hands,
blessed the Apostles, as a minister of the grace of God, (Luke 24: 51;)
and then was exhibited the truth of this figure. For he testifies that
the office of blessing the Church, which had been adumbrated in
Melchizedek, was assigned him by his Father.
  "Blessed be Abram of the most high God." The design of Melchizedek is
to confirm and ratify the grace of the Divine vocation to holy Abram; for
he points out the honour with which God had peculiarly dignified him by
separating him from all others, and adopting him as his own son. And he
calls God, by whom Abram had been chosen, "the Possessor of heaven and
earth," to distinguish him from the fictitious idols of the Gentiles.
Afterwards, indeed, God invests himself with other titles; that, by some
peculiar mark, he may render himself more clearly known to men, who,
because of the vanity of their mind, when they simply hear of God as the
Framer of heaven and earth, never cease to wander, till at length they
are lost in their own speculations. But because God was already known to
Abram, and his faith was founded upon many miracles, Melchizedek deems it
sufficient to declare that, by the title of Creator, He whom Abram
worshipped, is the true and only God. And although Melchizedek himself
maintained the sincere worship of the true God, he yet calls Abram
blessed of God, in respect of the eternal covenant: as if he would say,
that, by a kind of hereditary right, the grace of God resided in one
family and nation, because Abram alone had been chosen out of the whole
world. Then is added a special congratulation on the victory obtained;
not such as is wont to pass between profane men, who puff each other up
with inflated encomiums; but Melchizedek gives thanks unto God, and
regards the victory which the holy man had gained as a seal of his
gratuitous calling.

20. "And he gave him tithes of all." There are those who understand that
the tithes were given to Abram; but the Apostle speaks otherwise, in
declaring that Levi had paid tithes in the loins of Abram, (Heb. 7: 9,)
when Abram offered tithes to a more excellent Priest. And truly what the
expositors above-mentioned mean, would be most absurd; because, if
Melchizedek was the priest of God, it behaved him to receive tithes
rather than to give them. Nor is it to be doubted but Abram offered the
gift to God, in the person of Melchizedek, in order that, by such
first-fruits, he might dedicate all his possessions to God. Abram
therefore voluntarily gave tithes to Melchizedek, to do honour to his
priesthood. Moreover, since it appears that this was not done wrongfully
nor rashly, the Apostle properly infers, that, in this figure, the
Levitical priesthood is subordinate to the priesthood of Christ. For
other reasons, God afterwards commanded tithes to be given to Levi under
the Law; but, in the age of Abram, they were only a holy offering, given
as a pledge and proof of gratitude. It is however uncertain whether he
offered the title of the spoils or of the goods which he possessed at
home. But, since it is improbable that he should have been liberal with
other persons' goods, and should have given a very a tenth part of the
prey, of which he had resolved not to touch even a thread, I rather
conjecture, that these tithes were taken out of his own property. I do
not, however, admit that they were paid annually, as some imagine, but
rather, in my judgment, he dedicated this present to Melchizedek once,
for the purpose of acknowledging him as the high priest of God: nor could
he, at that time, (as we say,) hand it over; but there was a solemn
stipulation, of which the effect shortly after followed.

21. "And the king of Sodom said." Moses having, by the way, interrupted
the course of his narrative concerning the king of Sodom, by the mention
of the king of Salem, now returns to it again; and says that the king of
Sodom came to meet Abram, not only for the sake of congratulating him,
but of giving him a due reward. He therefore makes over to him the whole
prey, except the men; as if he would says 'It is a great thing that I
recover the men; let all the rest be given to thee as a reward for this
benefit.' And thus to have shown himself grateful to man, would truly
have been worthy of commendation; had he not been ungrateful to God, by
whose severity and clemency he remained alike unprofited. It was even
possible that this man, when poor and deprived of all his goods, might,
with a servile affectation of modesty, try to gain the favour of Abram,
by asking to have nothing but the captives and the empty city for
himself. Certainly we shall afterwards see that the men of Sodom were
unmindful of the benefit received, when they proudly and contemptuously
vexed righteous Lot.

22. "And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand, &c."
This ancient ceremony was very appropriate to give expression to the
force and nature of an oath. For by raising the hand towards heaven, we
show that we appeal to God as a witness, and also as an avenger, if we
fail to keep our oath. Formerly, indeed, they raised their hands in
giving votes; whence the Greeks derive the word "cheirotonein", which
signifies to decree: but in the rite of swearing, the reason for doing so
was different. For men hereby declared, that they regarded themselves as
in the presence of God, and called upon him to be both the Guardian of
truth, and the Avenger of perjury. Yet it may seem strange that Abram
should so easily have put himself forward to swear; for he knew that a
degree of reverence was due to the name of God, which should constrain us
to use it but sparingly, and only from necessity. I answer, there were
two reasons for his swearing. First, since inconstant men are wont to
measure others by their own standard, they seldom place confidence in
bare assertions. The king of Sodom, therefore, would have thought that
Abram did not seriously remit his right, unless the name of God had been
interposed. And, secondly, it was of great consequence, to make it
manifest to all, that he had not carried on a mercenary war. The
histories of all times sufficiently declare, that even they who have had
just causes of war have, nevertheless, been invited to it by the thirst
of private gain. And as men are acute in devising pretexts, they are
never at a loss to find plausible reasons for war, even though
covetousness may be their only real stimulant. Therefore, unless Abram
had resolutely refused the spoils of war, the rumour would immediately
have spread, that, under the pretence of rescuing his nephew, he had been
intent upon grasping the prey. Against which it was necessary for him
carefully to guard, not so much for his own sakes as for the glory of
God, which would otherwise have received some mark of disparagement.
Besides, Abram wished to arm himself with the name of God, as with a
shield, against all the allurements of avarice. For the king of Sodom
would not have desisted from tempting his mind by various methods, if the
occasion for using bland insinuations had not been promptly cut off.

23. "That I will not take from a thread even to a shoe-latchet." The
Hebrews have an elliptical form of making oath, in which the imprecation
of punishment is understood. In some places, the full expression of it
occurs in the Scriptures, "The Lord do so to me and more also," (1 Sam.
14: 44.) Since however, it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of
the living God, in order that the obligation of oaths may be the more
binding, this abrupt form of speech admonishes men to reflect on what
they are doing; for it is just as if they should put a restraint upon
themselves, and should stop suddenly in the midst of their discourse.
This indeed is most certain, that men never rashly swear, but they
provoke the vengeance of God against them, and make Him their adversary.
  "Lest thou shouldst say." Although these words seem to denote a mind
elated, and too much addicted to fame, yet since Abram is on this point
commended by the Spirit, we conclude that this was a truly holy
magnanimity. But an exception is added namely that he will not allow his
own liberality to be injurious to his allies, nor make them subject to
his laws. For this also is not the least part of virtue, to act rightly,
yet in such a manner, that we do not bind others to our example, as to a
rule. Let every one therefore regard what his own vocation demands, and
what pertains to his own duty, in order that men may not prejudge one
another according to their own will. For it is a moroseness too
imperious, to wish that what we ourselves follow as right, and consonant
with our duty, should be prescribed as a law to others.

Chapter XV.

1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision,
saying, Fear not, Abram: I [am] thy shield, [and] thy exceeding great
2 And Abram said, Lord GOD, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go
childless, and the steward of my house [is] this Eliezer of Damascus?
3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one
born in my house is mine heir.
4 And, behold, the word of the LORD [came] unto him, saying, This shall
not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels
shall be thine heir.
5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and
tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So
shall thy seed be.
6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for
7 And he said unto him, I [am] the LORD that brought thee out of Ur of
the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.
8 And he said, Lord GOD, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?
9 And he said unto him, Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she
goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove,
and a young pigeon.
10 And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst, and
laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not.
11 And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away.
12 And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and,
lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.
13 And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a
stranger in a land [that is] not theirs, and shall serve them; and they
shall afflict them four hundred years;
14 And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and
afterward shall they come out with great substance.
15 And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a
good old age.
16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the
iniquity of the Amorites [is] not yet full.
17 And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark,
behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those
18 In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy
seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great
river, the river Euphrates:
19 The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites,
20 And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims,
21 And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the

1. "The word of the Lord came." When Abram's affairs were prosperous and
were proceeding according to his wish, this vision might seem to be
superfluous; especial]y since the Lord commands his servant, as one
sorrowful and afflicted with fear, to be of good courage. Therefore
certain writers conjecture, that Abram having returned after the
deliverance of his nephew, was subjected to some annoyance of which no
mention is made by Moses; just as the Lord often humbles his people, lest
they should exult in their prosperity; and they further suppose that when
Abram had been dejected he was again revived by a new oracle. But since
there is no warrant for such conjecture in the words of Moses, I think
the cause was different. First, although he was on all sides applauded,
it is not to be doubted that various surmises entered into his own mind.
For, not withstanding Chedorlaomer and his allies had been overcome in
battle, yet Abram had so provoked them, that they might with fresh
troops, and with renewed strength, again attack the land of Canaan. Nor
were the inhabitants of the land free from the fear of this danger.
Secondly, as signal success commonly draws its companion envy along with
it, Abram began to be exposed to many disadvantageous remarks, after he
had dared to enter into conflict with an army which had conquered four
kings. An unfavourable suspicion might also arise, that perhaps, by and
by, he would turn the strength which he had tried against foreign kings,
upon his neighbours, and upon those who had hospitably received him.
Therefore, as the victory was an honour to him, so it cannot be doubted,
that it rendered him formidable and an object of suspicion to many, while
it inflamed the hatred of others; since every one would imagine some
danger to himself, from his bravery and good success. It is therefore not
strange, that he should have been troubled, and should anxiously have
revolved many things, until God animated him anew, by the confident
expectation of his assistance. There might be also another end to be
answered by the oracle; namely, that God would meet and correct a
contrary fault in his servant. For it was possible that Abram might be so
elated with victory as to forget his own calling, and to seek the
acquisition of dominion for himself, as one who, wearied with a wandering
course of life and with perpetual vexations, desired a better fortune,
and a quiet state of existence. And we know how liable men are to be
ensnared by the blandishments of prosperous and smiling fortune.
Therefore God anticipates the danger; and before this vanity takes
possession of the mind of the holy man, recalls to his memory the
spiritual grace vouchsafed to him to the end that he, entirely
acquiescing therein, may despise all other things. Yet because this
expression, "Fear not," sounds as if God would soothe his sorrowing and
anxious servant with some consolation; it is probable that he had need of
such confirmation, because he perceived that many malignantly stormed
against his victory, and that his old age would be exposed to severe
annoyances. It might however be, that God did not forbid him to fear,
because he was already afraid; but that he might learn courageously to
despise, and to account as nothing, all the favour of the world, and all
earthly wealth; as if he had said, 'If only I am propitious to thee,
there is no reason why thou shouldst fear; contented with me alone in the
world, pursue, as thou hast begun, thy pilgrimage; and rather depend on
heaven, than attach thyself to earth.' However this might be, God recalls
his servant to himself, showing that far greater blessings were treasured
up for him in God; in order that Abram might not rest satisfied with his
victory. Moses says that God spoke to him "in a vision," by which he
intimates that some visible symbol of God's glory was added to the word,
in order that greater authority might be given to the oracle. And this
was one of two ordinary methods by which the Lord was formerly wont to
manifest himself to his prophets, as it is stated in the book of Numbers,
(chap. 12: 6.)
  "Fear not, Abram." Although the promise comes last in the text, it yet
has precedence in order; because on it depends the confirmation, by which
God frees the heart of Abram from fear. God exhorts Abram to be of a
tranquil mind; but what foundation is there for such security, unless by
faith we understand that God cares for us, and learn to rest in his
providence? The promise, therefore, that God will be Abram's shield and
his exceeding great reward, holds the first place; to which is added the
exhortation, that, relying upon such a guardian of his safety, and such
an author of his felicity, he should not fear. Therefore, to make the
sense of the words more clear, the causal particle is to be inserted.
'Fear not, Abram, because I am thy shield.' Moreover, by the use of the
word "shield," he signifies that Abram would always be safe under his
protection. In calling himself his "reward," He teaches Abram to be
satisfied with Himself alone. And as this was, with respect to Abram, a
general instruction, given for the purpose of showing him that victory
was not the chief and ultimate good which God had designed him to pursue;
so let us know that the same blessing is promised to us all, in the
person of this one man. For, by this voice, God daily speaks to his
faithful ones; inasmuch as having once undertaken to defend us, he will
take care to preserve us in safety under his hand, and to protect us by
his power. Now since God ascribes to himself the office and property of a
shield, for the purpose of rendering himself the protector of our
salvation; we ought to regard this promise as a brazen wall, so that we
should not be excessively fearful in any dangers. And since men,
surrounded with various and innumerable desires of the flesh, are at
times unstable, and are then too much addicted to the love of the present
life; the other member of the sentence follows, in which God declares,
that he alone is sufficient for the perfection of a happy life to the
faithful. For the word "reward" has the force of inheritance, or
felicity. Were it deeply engraven on our minds, that in God alone we have
the highest and complete perfection of all good things; we should easily
fix bounds to those wicked desires by which we are miserably tormented.
The meaning then of the passage is this, that we shall be truly happy
when God is propitious to us; for he not only pours upon us the abundance
of his kindness, but offers himself to us, that we may enjoy him. Now
what is there more, which men can desire, when they really enjoy God?
David knew the force of this promise, when he boasted that he had
obtained a goodly lot, because the Lord was his inheritance, (Psalm 16:
6.) But since nothing is more difficult than to curb the depraved
appetites of the flesh, and since the ingratitude of man is so vile and
impious, that God scarcely ever satisfies them; the Lord calls himself
not simply "a reward," but an "exceeding great reward," with which we
ought to be more than sufficiently contented. This truly furnishes most
abundant material, and most solid support, for confidence. For whosoever
shall be fully persuaded that his life is protected by the hand of God,
and that he never can be miserable while God is gracious to him; and who
consequently resorts to this haven in all his cares and troubles, will
find the best remedy for all evils. Not that the faithful can be entirely
free from fear and care, as long as they are tossed by the tempests of
contentions and of miseries; but because the storm is hushed in their own
breast; and whereas the defense of God is greater than all dangers, so
faith triumphs over fear.

2. "And Abram said, Lord God." The Hebrew text has "Adonai Jehovah". From
which appellation it is inferred that some special mark of divine glory
was stamped upon the vision; so that Abram, having no doubt respecting
its author, confidently broke out in this expression. For since Satan is
a wonderful adept at deceiving, and deludes men with so many wiles in the
name of God, it was necessary that some sure and notable distinction
should appear in true and heavenly oracles, which would not suffer the
faith and the minds of the holy fathers to waver. Therefore in the vision
of which mention is made, the majesty of the God of Abram was manifested,
which would suffice for the confirmation of his faith. Not that God
appeared as he really is, but only so far as he might be comprehended by
the human mind. But Abram, in overlooking a promise so glorious, in
complaining that he is childless, and in murmuring against God, for
having hitherto given him no seed, seems to conduct himself with little
modesty. What was more desirable than to be received under God's
protection, and to be happy in the enjoyment of Him? The objection,
therefore, which Abram raised, when disparaging the incomparable benefit
offered to him, and refusing to rest contented until he receives
offspring, appears to be wanting in reverence. Yet the liberty which he
took admits of excuse; first, because the Lord permits us to pour into
his bosom those cares by which we are tormented, and those troubles with
which we are oppressed. Secondly, the design of the complaint is to be
considered; for he does not simply declare that he is solitary, but,
seeing that the effect of all the promises depended upon his seed, he
does, not improperly, require that a pledge so necessary should be given
him. For if the benediction and salvation of the world was not to be
hoped for except through his seed; when that principal point seemed to
fail him, it is not to be wondered at, that other things should seem to

(continued in part 22...)

file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01/cvgn1-21.txt