50. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.
50. Et superbe se extulit, et fecit abominationem coram me, et abstuli ipsos quemadmodum vidi.1
We must diligently attend to this passage; for God does not here excuse the wickedness of Sodom; but, abominable as that people was, he says that the Jews were yet more abandoned. We know why God inflicted his vengeance in a terrible manner against the Sodomites and their neighbors, for that was a fearful example; and Judea says that it was a kind of mirror of the wrath of God which awaits all the impious, (Jude 1:7;) and Scripture often recalls us to that proof of God's judgement: but we must see how Sodom rushed forward to that degree of licentiousness so as to be horrified by no enormity. God says that they began by pride, and surely pride is the mother of all contempt of God and of all cruelty. Let us learn, then, that we cannot be restrained by the fear of God, unless moderation and humility reign within us. Pride, we know, has two horns, so to speak; one is, when men forget their own condition, and claim to themselves not only more than is right, but what God alone calls his own. This, then, is one horn of pride, when men, trusting in their dignity, excellence, plenty, and wealth, are intoxicated by false imaginations, so as to think themselves equal to God. Now, another horn of pride is, when they do not acknowledge their vices, and despise others in comparison with themselves, and please themselves in enormities, just as if they were free from any future account. Since, therefore, pride is contained in these two clauses, when men arrogate too much to themselves, and thus are blind to their own vices, each of these is doubtless condemned in the Sodomites, since they first raised themselves by a rash confidence, and then refused to subject themselves to God, and rebelled against him as if they could shake off his yoke.
He afterwards adds fullness of bread. But the Prophet seems to condemn in the Sodomites what was not blamable in itself: for when God feeds us bountifully, fullness is not to be considered a crime; but he takes it here for immoderate gluttony; for those who have abundance are often luxurious, and nothing is more rare than self-restraint when materials for luxury are supplied to us. Hence fullness of bread is here taken for intemperance, since the Sodomites were so addicted to gluttony and drunkenness, that they gratified their appetites worse than the brutes, who do retain some moderation, for they are content with their own food: but men's covetousness is altogether insatiable. Let us observe, then, that by fullness of bread we are to understand that intemperance in which profane men indulge when God supplies them bountifully with the means of living; for they do not consider why they abound in wine, and corn, and abundance of all things, but they drown themselves in luxuries with a blind and brutal impulse. Hence such greediness, so inflaming to the spirits of the Sodomites, is added to pride, that they arrogate to themselves more than is just. He afterwards adds, and rest; twls, sheloth: some translate it abundance, but almost everywhere it means peace; the noun jqs, sheket, which is added next, means properly rest; so that it will be the peace of rest or ease, and this seems without blame: for why shall we not be permitted to enjoy ease, if no one molests or troubles us? nay, it is reckoned among God's blessings: you shall sleep, and no one shall frighten thee. (Leviticus 26:6.) Since God, therefore, wishes this to be considered among his blessings, that the faithful should sleep soundly, without any anxiety or trouble, why is Sodom condemned for thus enjoying ease and peace? But here its excess is pointed out, not its true use, since the use of peace is to render our minds tranquil, that we may return thanks to God, and dwell calmly under his sway. But how do the reprobate act? They grow brutish, so to speak, in their own peacefulness. Hence sloth is in this passage meant by the peacefulness of ease, and God means that the Sodomites were intoxicated by their luxuries when they enjoyed peace. We must put off the remainder.
Grant, Almighty God, since you have deigned to graft us once into the body of your only-begotten Son, that we may be mindful of our origin, since from our very birth we were lost and cursed; and grant that we may be mindful of that grace by which you have honored us, so that we may worship thee as a father, and preserve our trust in thee inviolate: and may we be so obedient to thee that thy image may be renewed in us more and more in all righteousness and holiness, until thy glory may perfectly shine forth in us in thy heavenly kingdom by the same Jesus Christ our Lord. -- Amen.
We began in the last lecture to treat that passage where God pronounces that the Jews surpassed in all kinds of wickedness both the Sodomites and the ten tribes of Israel. When he wished to prove this he said that the iniquity of Sodom was pride, fullness of bread, and then ease, with sloth and cruelty: afterwards he put another kind of pride, since the people were intoxicated with confidence, and indulged in unbridled and brutal license, as he afterwards says. For he adds, that the cities were overthrown and destroyed since they had perpetrated foul abominations. With regard to excess, we said that good living simply is not here condemned when any one uses the affluence granted to him for God's glory; but luxury and intemperance. For the rich boast as much as possible, and are not only eager for delicacies, and stuff themselves to the full, but they triumph and luxuriate in what is sure to destroy them. The Prophet then blames this in the Sodomites. We said also of quiet and rest, that it denoted that sloth by which the profane madden themselves; but that is more clearly expressed shortly by vain-boasting. The Prophet now adds, that they had not seized the hand of the poor and needy. We must notice this, since pride is almost always cruel; and truly no one heartily succors his poor brethren who is not affected by their necessities. But those who are intoxicated by false confidence, and claim everything for themselves, despise their brethren, and thus carelessly permit them to be utterly oppressed by poverty and want. The Prophet here pronounces nothing concerning Sodom but what we too often perceive by daily experience. He now adds --
1 That is, "as I pleased." -- Calvin.
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