(Calvin, Genesis 1. part 27)

probable that he made use of such dissimulation. I certainly do not
doubt, that he was so touched with a common compassion towards the five
cities that he drew near to God as their intercessor. And if we weigh all
things attentively, he had great reasons for doing so. He had lately
rescued them from the hand of their enemies; he now suddenly hears that
they are to be destroyed. He might imagine that he had rashly engaged in
that war; that his victory was under a divine curse, as if he had taken
arms against the will of God, for unworthy and wicked men; and it was
possible that he would be not a little tormented by such thoughts.
Besides, it was difficult to believe them all to have been so ungrateful,
that no remembrance of their recent deliverance remained among them. But
it was not lawful for him, by a single word, to dispute with God, after
having heard what He had determined to do. For God alone best knows what
men deserve, and with what severity they ought to be treated. Why then
does not Abraham acquiesce? Why does he imagine to himself that there are
some just persons in Sodom, whom God has overlooked, and whom he hastens
to overwhelm in a common destruction with the rest? I answer, that the
sense of humanity by which Abraham was moved, was pleasing to God. Firsts
because, as was becoming, he leaves the entire cognizance of the fact
with God. Secondly, because he asks with sobriety and submission, for the
sole cause of obtaining consolation. There is no wonder that he is
terrified at the destruction of so great a multitude. He sees men created
after the image of God; he persuades himself that, in that immense crowd,
there were, at least, a few who were upright, or not altogether unjust,
and abandoned to wickedness. He therefore alleges before God, what he
thinks available to procure their forgiveness. He may, however, be
thought to have acted rashly, in requesting impunity to the evil, for the
sake of the good; for he desired God to spare the place, if he should
find fifty good men there. I answer, that the prayers of Abraham did not
extend so far as to ask God not to scourge those cities, but only not to
destroy them utterly; as if he had said 'O Lord, whatever punishment thou
mayest inflict upon the guilty, wilt thou not yet leave some dwelling
place for the righteous? Why should that region utterly perish, as long
as a people shall remain, by whom it may be inhabited?' Abraham,
therefore, does not desire that the wicked, being mixed with the
righteous, should escape the hand of God: but only that God, in
inflicting public punishment on a whole nation, should nevertheless
exempt the good who remained from destruction.

23. "Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked?" It is certain
that when God chastises the body of a people, he often involves the good
and the reprobate in the same punishment. So Daniel, Ezekiel, Ezra, and
others like them, who worshipped God in purity in their own country, were
suddenly hurried away into exile, as by a violent tempest:
notwithstanding it had been said 'The land vomiteth out her inhabitants,
because of their iniquities,' (Lev. 18: 25.) But when God thus seems to
be angry with all in common, it behoves us to fix our eyes on the end,
which shall evidently discriminate the one from the other. For if the
husband man knows how to separate the grains of wheat in his barn, which
with the chaff are trodden under the feet of the oxen, or are struck out
with the flail; much better does God know how to gather together his
faithful people,--when he has chastised them for a time,--from among the
wicked, (who are like worthless refuse,) that they may not perish
together; yea, by the very event, he will, at length, prove that he would
not permit those whom he was healing by his chastisements to perish. For,
so far is he from hastening to destroy his people, when he subjects them
to temporal punishments, that he is rather administering to them a
medicine which shall procure their salvation. I do not however doubt,
that God had denounced the final destruction of Sodom; and in this sense
Abraham now takes exception, that it was by no means consistent, that the
same ruin should alike fall on the righteous and the ungodly. There will,
however, be no absurdity in saying, that Abraham, having good hope of the
repentance of the wicked, asked God to spare them; because it often
happens that God, out of regard to a few, deals gently with a whole
people. For we know, that public punishments are mitigated, because the
Lord looks upon his own with a benignant and paternal eye. In the same
sense the answer of God himself ought to be understood, 'If in the midst
of Sodom I find fifty righteous, I will spare the whole place for their
sake.' Yet God does not here bind himself by a perpetual rule, so that it
shall not be lawful for him, as often as he sees good, to bring the
wicked and the just together to punishment. And, in order to show that he
has free power of judging, he does not always adhere to the same equable
moderation in this respect. He who would have spared Sodom on account of
ten righteous persons, refused to grant the same terms of pardon to
Jerusalem. (Matth. 11: 24.) Let us know, therefore, that God does not
here lay himself under any necessity; but that he speaks thus, in order
to make it better known, that he does not, on light grounds, proceed to
the destruction of a city, of which no portion remained unpolluted.

25. "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" He does not here
teach God His duty, as if any one should say to a judge, 'See what thy
office requires, what is worthy of this place, what suits thy character;'
but he reasons from the nature of God, that it is impossible for Him to
intend anything unjust. I grant that, in using the same form of speaking,
the impious often murmur against God, but Abraham does far otherwise. For
although he wonders how God should think of destroying Sodom, in which he
was persuaded there was a number of good men; he yet retains this
principle, that it was impossible for God, who is the Judge of the world,
and by nature loves equity yea, whose will is the law of justice and
rectitude, should in the least degree swerve from righteousness. He
desires, however, to be relieved from this difficulty with which he is
perplexed. So, whenever different temptations contend within our minds,
and some appearance of contradiction presents itself in the works of God,
only let our persuasion of His justice remain fixed, and we shall be
permitted to pour into His bosom the difficulties which torment us, in
order that He may loosen the knots which we cannot untie. Paul seems to
have taken from this place the answer with which he represses the
blasphemy of those who charge God with unrighteousness. 'Is God
unrighteous? Far from it, for how should there be unrighteousness with
Him who judges the world?' (Rom. 3: 5, 6.) This method of appeal would
not always avail among earthly judges; who are sometimes deceived by
error, or perverted by favour, or inflamed with hatred, or corrupted by
gifts, or misled by other means, to acts of injustice. But since God, to
whom it naturally belongs to judge the world, is liable to none of these
evils, it follows, that He can no more be drawn aside from equity, than
he can deny himself to be God.

27. "Which am but dust and ashes." Abraham speaks thus for the sake of
obtaining pardon. For what is mortal man when compared with God? He
therefore confesses that he is too bold, in thus familiarly interrogating
God; yet he desires that this favour may be granted unto him, by the
Divine indulgence. It is to be noted, that the nearer Abraham approaches
to God, the more fully sensible does he become of the miserable and
abject condition of men. For it is only the brightness of the glory of
God which covers with shame and thoroughly humbles men, when stripped of
their foolish and intoxicated self-confidence. Whosoever, therefore,
seems to himself to be something, let him turn his eyes to God, and
immediately he will acknowledge himself to be nothing. Abraham, indeed
was not forgetful that he possessed a living soul; but he selects what
was most contemptible, in order to empty himself of all dignity. It may
seem, however, that Abraham does but sophistically trifle with God, when,
diminishing gradually from the number first asked, he proceeds to his
sixth interrogation. I answer, that this was rather to be considered as
the language of a perturbed mind. At first he anxiously labours for the
men of Sodom, wherefore he omits nothing which may serve to mitigate his
solicitude. And as the Lord repeatedly answers him so mildly, we know
that he had not been deemed importunate, nor troublesome. But if he was
kindly heard, when pleading for the inhabitants of Sodom, even to his
sixth petition; much more will the Lord hearken to the prayers which any
one may pour out for the Church and household of faith. Moreover, the
humanity of Abraham appears also in this, that although he knows Sodom to
be filled with vilest corruptions, he cannot bring his mind to think that
all are infected with the contagion of wickedness; but he rather inclines
to the equitable supposition, that, in so great a multitude, some just
persons may be concealed. For this is a horrible prodigy, that the filth
of iniquity should so pervade the whole body, as to allow no member to
remain pure. We are, however, taught by this example, how tyrannically
Satan proceeds when once the dominion of sin is established. And
certainly, seeing the propensity of men to sin, and the facility for
sinning are so great, it is not surprising that one should be corrupted
by another, till the contagion reached every individual. For nothing is
more dangerous than to live where the public license of crime prevails;
yea, there is no pestilence so destructive, as that corruption of morals,
which is opposed neither by laws nor judgments, nor any other remedies.
And although Moses, in the next chapter, explains the most filthy crime
which reigned in Sodom, we must nevertheless remember what Ezekiel
teaches (16: 48, 49,) that the men of Sodom did not fall at once into
such execrable wickedness; but that in the beginning, luxury from the
fulness of bread prevailed, and that, afterwards, pride and cruelty
followed. At length, when they were given up to a reprobate mind, they
were also driven headlong into brutal lusts. Therefore if we dread this
extreme of inordinate passion, let us cultivate temperance and frugality;
and let us always fear, lest a superfluity of food should impel us to
luxury; lest our minds should be infected with pride on account of our
wealth, and lest delicacies should tempt us to give the reins to our

Chapter XIX.

1 And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of
Sodom: and Lot seeing [them] rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself
with his face toward the ground;
2 And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your
servant's house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall
rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide
in the street all night.
3 And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and
entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened
bread, and they did eat.
4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, [even] the men of Sodom,
compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every
5 And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where [are] the men which
came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know
6 And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,
7 And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.
8 Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I
pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as [is] good in your
eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the
shadow of my roof.
9 And they said, Stand back. And they said [again], This one [fellow]
came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse
with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, [even]
Lot, and came near to break the door.
10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to
them, and shut to the door.
11 And they smote the men that [were] at the door of the house with
blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find
the door.
12 And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and
thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring
[them] out of this place:
13 For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great
before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.
14 And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his
daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will
destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.
15 And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying,
Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be
consumed in the iniquity of the city.
16 And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the
hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being
merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the
17 And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he
said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all
the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed.
18 And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord:
19 Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast
magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life;
and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die:
20 Behold now, this city [is] near to flee unto, and it [is] a little
one: Oh, let me escape thither, ([is] it not a little one?) and my soul
shall live.
21 And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing
also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast
22 Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be
come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar.
23 The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.
24 Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire
from the LORD out of heaven;
25 And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the
inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the
26 But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of
27 And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood
before the LORD:
28 And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of
the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the
smoke of a furnace.
29 And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that
God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow,
when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.
30 And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two
daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a
cave, he and his two daughters.
31 And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father [is] old, and
[there is] not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of
all the earth:
32 Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him,
that we may preserve seed of our father.
33 And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn
went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down,
nor when she arose.
34 And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the
younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink
wine this night also; and go thou in, [and] lie with him, that we may
preserve seed of our father.
35 And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger
arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when
she arose.
36 Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
37 And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same [is]
the father of the Moabites unto this day.
38 And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the
same [is] the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.

1. "And there came two angels to Sodom." The question occurs, why one of
the three angels has suddenly disappeared, and two only are come to
Sodom? The Jews (with their wonted audacity in introducing fables)
pretend that one came to destroy Sodom, the other to preserve Lot. But
from the discourse of Moses, this appears to be frivolous: because we
shall see that they both assisted in the liberation of Lot. What I have
before adduced is more simple; namely, that it was granted to Abraham, as
a peculiar favour, that God would not only send him two messengers from
the angelic host, but that, in a more familiar manner, he would manifest
himself to him, in his own Son. For (as we have seen) one of the
messengers held the principal place, as being superior to the others in
dignity. Now, although Christ was always the Mediator, yet, because he
manifested himself more obscurely to Lot than he did to Abraham, the two
angels only came to Sodom. Since Moses relates, that Lot sat in the gate
of the city about evening, many contend that he did so, according to
daily custom, for the purpose of receiving guests into his house; yet, as
Moses is silent respecting the cause, it would be rash to affirm this as
certain. I grant, indeed, that he did not sit as idle persons are wont to
do; but the conjecture is not less probable, that he had come forth to
meet his shepherds, in order to be present when his sheep were folded.
That he was hospitable, the courteous invitation which is mentioned by
Moses clearly demonstrates; yet, why he then remained in the gate of the
city is uncertain; unless it were, that he was unwilling to omit any
opportunity of doing an act of kindness, when strangers presented
themselves on whom he might bestow his services. What remains, on this
point, may be found in the preceding chapter.

2. "Nay, but we will abide in the street." The angels do not immediately
assent, in order that they may the more fully investigate the disposition
of the holy man. For he was about to bring them to his own house, not
merely for the sake of supplying them with a supper, but for the purpose
of defending them from the force and injury of the citizens. Therefore
the angels act, as if it were safe to sleep on the highway; and thus
conceal their knowledge of the abandoned wickedness of the whole people.
For if the gates of cities are shut, to prevent the incursions of wild
beasts and of enemies; how wrong and absurd it is that they who are
within should be exposed to still more grievous dangers? Therefore the
angels thus speak, in order to make the wickedness of the people appear
the greater. And Lot, in urging the angels to come unto him, for the
purpose of protecting them from the common violence of the people, the
more clearly shows, how careful he was of his guests, lest they should
suffer any dishonour or injury.

3. "And he made them a feast." By these words, and others following,
Moses shows that the angels were more sumptuously entertained than was
customary: for Lot did not act thus, indiscriminately, with all. But,
when he conceived, from the dignity of their mien and dress, that they
were not common men, he baked cakes, and prepared a plentiful feast.
Again, Moses says that the angels did eat: not that they had any need to
do so; but because the time was not yet come, for the manifestation of
their celestial nature.

4. "Before they lay down." Here, in a single crime, Moses sets before our
eyes a lively picture of Sodom. For it is hence obvious, how diabolical
was their consent in all wickedness, since they all so readily conspired
to perpetrate the most abominable crime. The greatness of their iniquity
and wantonness, is apparent from the fact, that, in a collected troop,
they approach, as enemies, to lay siege to the house of Lot. How blind
and impetuous is their lust; since, without shame, they rush together
like brute animals! how great their ferocity and cruelty; since they
reproachfully threaten the holy man, and proceed to all extremities!
Hence also we infer, that they were not contaminated with one vice only,
but were given up to all audacity in crime, so that no sense of shame was
left them. And Ezekiel (as we have above related) accurately describes
from what beginnings of evil they had proceeded to this extreme
turpitude, (Ezekiel 16: 49 ) What Paul says, also refers to the same
point: that God punished the impiety of men, when he cast them into such
a state of blindness, that they gave themselves up to abominable lusts,
and dishonoured their own bodies. (Rom. 1: 18.) But when the sense of
shame is overcome, and the reins are given to lust, a vile and outrageous
barbarism necessarily succeeds, and many kinds of sin are blended
together, so that a most confused chaos is the result. But if this severe
vengeance of God so fell upon the men of Sodom, that they became blind
with rage, and prostituted themselves to all kinds of crime, certainly we
shall scarcely be more mildly treated, whose iniquity is the less
excusable, because the truth of God has been more clearly revealed unto
  "Both old and young." Moses passes over many things in silence which
may come unsought into the reader's mind: for instance, he does not
mention by whom the multitude had been stirred up. Yet it is probable
that there were some who fanned the flame: nevertheless, we hence
perceive how freely they were disposed to commit iniquity; since, as at a
given signal, they immediately assemble. It also shows how completely
destitute they were of all remaining shame; for, neither did any gravity
restrain the old, nor any modesty, suitable to their age, restrain the
young: finally, he intimates, that all regard to honour was gone, and
that the order of nature was perverted, when he says, that young and old
flew together from the extreme parts of the city.

5. "Where are the men?" Although it was their intention shamefully to
abuse the strangers to their outrageous appetite, yet, in words, they
pretend that their object is different. For, as if Lot had been guilty of
a fault in admitting unknown men into the city, wherein he himself was a
stranger, they command these men to be brought out before them. Some
expound the word "know" in a carnal sense; and thus the Greek
interpreters have translated it. But I think the word has here a
different meaning; as if the men had said, We wish to know whom thou
bringest, as guests, into our city. The Scripture truly is accustomed
modestly to describe an act of shame by the word know; and therefore we
may infer that the men of Sodom would have spoken, in coarser language,
of such an act: but, for the sake of concealing their wicked design, they
here imperiously expostulate with the holy man, for having dared to
receive unknown persons into his house. Here, however, a question arises;
for if the men of Sodom were in the habit of vexing strangers, of all
kinds, in this manner, how shall we suppose they had acted towards
others? For Lot was not now for the first time beginning to be
hospitable; and they, too, had always been addicted to lust. Lot was
prepared to expose his own daughters to dishonour, in order to save his
guests; how often, then, might it have been necessary to prostitute them
before, if the fury of men of such character could not be otherwise
assuaged? Now truly, if Lot had known that such danger was impending; he
ought rather to have exhorted his guests to withdraw in time. In my
opinion, however, although Lot knew the manners of the city; he had,
nevertheless, no suspicion of what really happened, that they would make
an assault upon his house; this, indeed, seems to have been quite a new
thing. It was, however, fitting, when the angels were sent to investigate
the true state of the people, that they should all break out into this
detestable crime. So the wicked, after they have long securely exulted in
their iniquity, at length, by furiously rushing onward, accelerate their
destruction in a moment. God therefore designed, in calling the men of
Sodom to judgment, to exhibit, as it were, the extreme act of their
wicked life; and he impelled them, by the spirit of deep infatuation, to
a crime, the atrocity of which would not suffer the destruction of the
place to be any longer deferred. For as the hospitality of the holy man,
Lot, was honoured with a signal reward; because he, unawares, received
angels instead of men, and had them as guests in his house; so God
avenged, with more severe punishment, the shameful lust of the others;
who, while endeavouring to do violence to angels, were not only injurious
towards men; but, to the utmost of their power, dishonoured the celestial
glory of God, by their sacrilegious fury.

6. "And Lot went out at the door unto them." It appears from the fact
that Lot went out and exposed himself to danger, how faithfully he
observed the sacred right of hospitality. It was truly a rare virtue,
that he preferred the safety and honour of the guests whom he had once
undertaken to protect, to his own life: yet this degree of magnanimity is
required from the children of God, that where duty and fidelity are
concerned, they should not spare themselves. And although he was already
grievously injured by the besieging of his house; he yet endeavours, by
gentle words, to soothe ferocious minds, while he suppliantly entreats
them to lay aside their wickedness, and addresses them by the title of
brethren. Now it appears, how savage was their cruelty, and how violent
the rage of their lust, when they were in no degree moved by such
extraordinary mildness. But the description of a rage so brutal, tends to
teach us that punishment was not inflicted upon them, until they had
proceeded to the last stage of wickedness. And let us remember, that the
reprobate, when they have been blinded by the just judgment of God, rush,
as with devoted minds, through every kind of crime, and leave nothing
undone, until they render themselves altogether hateful and detestable to
God and men.

8. "I have two daughters." As the constancy of Lot, in risking his own
life for the defense of his guests, deserves no common praise; so now
Moses relates that a defect was mixed with this great virtue, which
sprinkled it with some imperfection. For, being destitute of advice, he
devises (as is usual in intricate affairs) an unlawful remedy. He does
not hesitate to prostitute his own daughters, that he may restrain the
indomitable fury of the people. But he should rather have endured a
thousand deaths, than have resorted to such a measure. Yet such are
commonly the works of holy men: since nothing proceeds from them so
excellent, as not to be in some respect defective. Lot, indeed, is urged
by extreme necessity; and it is no wonder that he offers his daughters to
be polluted, when he sees that he has to deal with wild beasts; yet he
inconsiderately seeks to remedy one evil by means of another. I can
easily excuse some for extenuating his fault; yet he is not free from
blame, because he would ward off evil with evil. But we are warned by
this example, that when the Lord has furnished us with the spirit of
invincible fortitude, we must also pray that he may govern us by the
spirit of prudence; and that he will never suffer us to be deprived of a
sound judgment, and a well-regulated reason. For then only shall we
rightly proceed in our course of duty, when, in complicated affairs, we
perceive, with a composed mind, what is necessary, what is lawful, and
what is expedient to be done; then shall we be prepared promptly to meet
any danger whatever. For, that our minds should be carried hither and
thither by hastily catching at wicked counsels, is not less perilous than
that they should be agitated by fear. But when reduced to the last
straits, let us learn to pray, that the Lord would open to us some way of
escape. Others would excuse Lot by a different pretext, namely, that he
knew his daughters would not be desired. But I have no doubt that, being
willing to avail himself of the first subterfuge which occurred to him,
he turned aside from the right way. This, however, is indisputable;
although the men of Sodom had not yet, in express terms, avowed the base
desire with which they were inflamed, yet Lot, from their daily crimes,
had formed his judgment respecting it. If any one should raise the
objection that such a supposition is absurd; I answer, that, since by
custom they had imagined the crime to be lawful, the crowd was easily
excited by a few instigators, as it commonly happens, where no
distinction is maintained between right and wrong. When Lot says,
"Therefore came they under the shadow of my roof;" his meaning is, that
they had been committed to him by the Lord, and that he should be guilty
of perfidy, unless he endeavoured to protect them.

9. "And they said, Stand back." That Lot, with all his entreaties, than
which nothing could be adduced more likely to soothe their rage, was thus
harshly repelled, shows the indomitable haughtiness of this people. And,
in the first place, they threaten that, if he persists in interceding,
they will deal worse with him than with those whom he defends. Then they
reproach him with the fact, that he, a foreigner, assumes the province of
a judge. Every word proves the pride with which they swell. They place
one man in opposition to a multitude, as if they would say, 'By what
right hast thou alone challenge to thyself authority over the whole
city?' They next boast that, while they are natives, he is but a
stranger. Such is, at the present time, the boasting of the Papists
against the pious ministers of God's word: they allege against us, as a
disgrace, the paucity of our numbers, in contrast with their own great
multitude. Then they pride themselves upon their long succession, and
contend that it is intolerable for them to be reproved by new men. But
however contumaciously the wicked may strive, rather than submit to
reason, let us know that they are exalted only to their own ruin.

10. "But the men put forth their hand." Moses again gives the name of men
to those who were not so, but who had appeared as such; for although they
begin to exert their celestial force, they do not yet declare that they
are angels divinely sent from heaven. But here Moses teaches, that the
Lord, although he may for a time seem regardless, while the faithful are
engaged in conflict, yet never deserts his own, but stretches out his
hand, (so to speak,) at the critical moment. Thus, in preserving Lot, he
defers his aid until the last extremity. Let us, therefore, with tranquil
minds, wait on his providence; and let us intrepidly follow what belongs
to our calling, and what he commands; for although he may suffer us to be
exposed to dangers he will still show, that he has never been unmindful
of us. For we see, that as Lot had shut the door of his house for the
protection of his guests, so he is repaid, when the angels not only
receive him again, through the opened door, but by opposing the barriers
of divine power, prevent the impious men from approaching it. For, (as I
have before intimated), they afford him not merely human help, but they
come to bring him assistance, armed with divine power. Whereas, Moses
says, that the men were smitten with blindness, we are not so to
understand it, as if they had been deprived of eyesight; but that their
vision was rendered so dull, that they could distinguish nothing. This
miracle was more illustrious, than if their eyes had been thrust out, or
entirely blinded; because with their eyes open, they feel about, just
like blind men, and seeing, yet do not see. At the same time, Moses
wishes to describe their iron obstinacy: they do not find Lot's door; it
follows then, that they had laboured in seeking it; but, in this manner,
they furiously wage war with God. This, however, has happened, not once
only, and not with the men of Sodom alone; but is daily fulfilled in the
reprobate, whom Satan fascinates with such madness, that when stricken by
the mighty hand of God, they proceed with stupid obstinacy to advance
against him. And we need not seek far, for an instance of such conduct;
we see with what tremendous punishments God visits wandering lusts; and
yet the world ceases not, with desperate audacity, to rush into the
certain destruction which is set before their eyes.

12. "Hast thou here any besides?" At length the angels declare for what
purpose they came, and what they were about to do. For so great was the
indignity of the last act of this people, that Lot must now see how
impossible it was for God to bear with them any longer. And, in the first
place, they declare, that they are come to destroy the city, because "the
cry of it was waxen great." By which words they mean, that God was
provoked, not by one act of wickedness only, but that, after he had long
spared them, he was now, at last, almost compelled, by their immense mass
of crimes, to come down to inflict punishment. For we must maintain, that
the more sins men heap together, the higher will their wickedness rise,
and the nearer will it approach to God, to cry aloud for vengeance.
Wherefore, as the angels testify, that God had been hitherto
longsuffering, and of great forbearance; so they declare, on the other
hand, what issue awaits all those, who, having gathered together
mountains of guilt, exalt themselves with daily increasing audacity, as
if, like the giants, they were about to assail heaven. They, however,
explain the cause of this destruction, not only that Lot may ascribe
praise to the divine righteousness and equity, but that he, being
impressed with fear, may the more quickly hasten his departure. For, such
is the indolence of our flesh, that we slowly and coldly set ourselves to
escape the judgment of God, unless we are deeply stirred by the dread of
it: thus Noah, alarmed by the terror of the deluge, applied his industry
to the framing of the ark. Meanwhile, the angels inspire the mind of the

(continued in part 28...)

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