Behold, ye are all children of Israel; give here your advice and counsel.—Judges 20.7.

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The Sovereign Providence

Of the Lord Almighty

Set forth in a Sermon

Declaring the Righteousness of God

In Hardening the Hearts of Men

By Effectual Error

And Commanding the Slaughter of Men, Women, & Children

To Execute his Justice and Fulfill his Holy Decrees.

By John Calvin.


Daniel 4.34,35: The most High, ... him that liveth for ever... all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

Romans 9.17,18: For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.

Excerpted From:

The

Sermons

Of M. Iohn Calvin

Vpon the fifth booke of

Moses called Deuteronomie.

X

TrueCovenanter.com Editor's Introduction.

The famous Reformer John Calvin, is well known throughout the Church of Jesus Christ and throughout the World for his association with the doctrines of Predestination and Providence. To some his name, and these doctrines, are a savour of death (2 Cor. 2.16,) whereat they are ready to cast firebrands, arrows, and death, (Prov. 26.18.) But not all are so affected by these doctrines, for to some the message of God's Sovereign Grace is a savour of life unto life and the very power of God unto Salvation, (Rom. 1.16.) By the contemplation thereof, they come to know themselves to be what they are indeed; and finding themselves to be such worms, and all their righteousness to be as filthy rags, (Isa. 64.6,) they cannot but wonder that a Holy God should show mercy to sinners, or that a Declaration of Peace should once be proclaimed to any, how great or small the number. To those rightly affected with the message of God's word, his Sovereignty, in its most mysterious workings, is not what they dare complain against; for it is not fitting for the thing formed to say to him that formed it, why hast thou made me thus? (Rom. 9.20.) Instead, they must confess that it is lawful for him to do with his own what he will, (Matt. 20.15,) so that, he is always just, though he hath mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth, (Rom. 9.18.)

As must be evident to every honest reader, these are not doctrines invented by John Calvin or anyone else, but the plain truths of Holy Scripture, and the natural import of the simple fact that God is God, sovereign, supreme, and righteous in himself. What is set forth by this author below, is nothing but a plain and honest representation of Holy Scripture on this subject, without the common attempts of men to explain-away what is called the "harshness" of these doctrines, by clever glosses, hidden figures of speech, and foreign analogies. It is perhaps on account of his remarkable plainness and simplicity of interpretation, more than anything else, that Calvin's name has become so universally associated with these doctrines. The things which other authors, even among the Reformed Churches, thought might best be explained in a manner to lessen their apparent incompatibility with human reason and man's sinful conceptions of “righteousness,” those things Calvin declares and asserts as plainly as Scripture itself, teaching us to reverence “What the Holy Ghost hath told us,” and not seek for a better explanation than what God himself declares in his word. In this, it may seem his has run at odds with other notable writers, even affirming that God's judgments in hardening his enemies are executed by an effectual activity on the part of God himself; but if the Reader will weigh fairly these things, as they are set forth below, he will find to his certain conviction that the author exhibits no personal bias or propensity for error, but only an unbending zeal to free the Word of God from every mist and obscurity cast thereupon by unfaithful interpreters, that his readers may know indeed what and who that God is, who is declared to us in the Holy Oracles, as our Lord and Saviour.

2009.04.25.

The xiiij. Sermon, which is the fourth upon the ſecond Chapter.

26. 27. 28. 29.  Then ſent I meſſengers, &c.

30  But Sehon King of Heſebon would not let vs paſſe, for the Lorde thy Gode had hardened his ſpirit, and made his heart ſtubborne, to the ende to deliuer him into thy hand, as it appeareth at this day.

31  And the Lorde ſaide vnto mee, beholde, I haue begunne to giue Sehon and his land before thee; goe to, take poſſeſſion, that thou mayeſt poſſeſſe his land,

32  And Sehon came out againſt vs, he and all his people to fight in Iaſa:

33  And the Lorde our God deliuered him before vs, and wee ſmote him, and his ſonnes, and all his people.

34  And at the ſame time wee tooke all his Cities, and deſtroyed the men, women, and children in them, and we left him nothing remaining,

35  Sauing the Cattell which we tooke to our ſelues, and the ſpoyle of the Cities, which we tooke.

36  From Aroer which is vppon the banke of the Riuer Arnon, and the Citie which is vppon the Riuer, and vnto Galaad, there was not any Citie that could defend it ſelfe from vs. For the Lord our God had giuen them all into our hands.

37  Onely thou ſhalt not come neere the land of the children of Ammon, nor vnto any place of the Riuer Iabok, nor vnto the Cities on the hill, nor vnto any of all thoſe places which the Lord our God forbad vs.

WEe haue ſeene heretofore howe God being determined to harden Sihon, letted [hindered] not for all that to cause him to be summoned, to the end he should have let the children of Israel pass without doing them harm, and without shewing himself to be their enemy. And therewithal it hath been shewed, that GOD will send message of peace unto men: & yet notwithstanding knoweth that the same shall stand them in no stead, but to make them inexcusable. After the same manner, the Gospel is preached to a great number, who notwithstanding do but become the worse for it, and God knoweth right well that no profit shall come thereof, but that they shall be rebellious still. Why then doth he call them to him? To bereave them of all excuse, and to lay open their malice and ungodliness. For so long as men abide undiscovered, GOD seemeth after a sort to do them wrong. But when he sendeth them his word, then bewray [expose] they themselves what they be, and their unbelief is manifestly proved. And so let us understand that our Lord knoweth well what the end of the preaching of his word shall be: that is to wit, that it shall become the savour of death to a great sort [2 Cor. 2.16]: but yet will he not cease to appoint his word to be preached still: and that doeth he for good and just cause, namely to the end that men should be the more condemned. But yet for all this, it is the preachers' duty to offer peace unto all men, according also as our Lord Jesus Christ saith to his Disciples, [Luke 10.5,] wheresoever ye come, offer peace: and if they that hear you be unworthy thereof, your peace {79:B} shall return to you again. As if he should say, There shall be no loss at all, you shall try what is in men, and the friendly greeting which you shall bear unto them, shall be as a touchstone, to the end they may not be able to say, that God hath not visited them nor had no care of them: and so shall they be proved to have rejected his grace.

And herewithall we be warned, to seek peace with all men as much as in us lieth, accordingly as it is said in the Psalm [34.14] that we must even follow after it: so as it is not enough for us to be friendly, and to endeavour to live without annoying of anybody, and without vexing or troubling any of our neighbours: but we must labour yet further to seek peace. If we see there be any unruly folk, we must pacify them as much as is possible. If we see that Satan procureth us strife and contention, we must labour to remedy them as much as we can: accordingly as our Lord Jesus Christ requireth of the faithful, not only that they should be peaceable themselves, but also that they should endeavour to set peace everywhere. That then is one thing which we ought to do. And therewithall we must bethink ourselves how Paul saith, that we must seek peace, as much as in us is. [Rom. 12.18.] And by that saying he comforteth us. If it so happen that we cannot make men our friends, but that although they have no cause to complain of us, nor can say that we have done them any harm or wrong, yet they cease not to be malicious & bitter towards us: we have wherewith to comfort ourselves, in that we have done the best we can to seek peace. And therefore although {80:A} we be fain to live among such as seek all the means they can to trouble and vex us: yet must not we follow their malice to be like unto them, but we must always do our duty to maintain peace and friendship. And if men will not be won by us, then shall our mildness and gentleness turn to burning coals against them, wherewith they shall be consumed. [Prov. 25.22; Rom. 12.20.] Besides this, the Lord will maintain our innocency, and when he seeth that we have not assailed those at whose hands we demand not any thing, but rather have laboured to overcome evil with doing good, let us not doubt but he will assist us with his succour.

There is this further, that Moses termeth it The word of peace, when men abstain from all evil doing, and offer all right and reason: which we ought to mark well: for many will say that they desire nothing but peace: howbeit, that is but to their own profit, and to their neighbour's loss: and that is no mean [of peace indeed.] Desire we then to be at peace? Desire we to have agreement with them that dwell with us? Let us on our side deal uprightly: let us abstain from all wrong-doing: let us grieve no man, let us draw no man's goods to ourselves, let us yield every man that which is his due. Lo what peace is. And herein we see that all the fair protestations which they make that are given to ravine and extortion, are but lies. For the Holy Ghost hath told us here, that there is no word of peace, but where uprightness and just dealing is observed, so as no man is vexed in any wise. And like as we must endeavour to be reasonable towards our neighbours, to maintain friendship with them: so if they offer us reason, we must look that we refuse it not. For if we be unmeasurably hard to be contented: the thing must needs be performed in us which is written in the Psalm [109.17-19]: that is to wit, he refused blessedness, and it is far off from him: therefore shall cursedness cover him as a cloak, and it shall stick fast to his flesh and to his skin. Would we then that God should bless us, and cause men also to bear us favour and friendship? Let us on our behalf seek blessedness to the uttermost of our power: and when words of peace are offered us, let us not go seek occasions of controversy, to stir up strife and debate. Thus ye see what we have to mark upon that text.

Now let us come to that which Moses addeth. He saith, That Sihon King of Heshbon would not give the children of Israel leave to pass. And why? For the Lord (saith he) had hardened his spirit, and made his heart stubborn. I have told you already, that although God foresee that the message of peace shall not prevail, yet he ceaseth not to send it. But here Moses expresseth yet a further matter: that God hardeneth men's hearts. And in the end he addeth moreover, that he doeth it of purpose to overthrow them and destroy them, which is much more. Now this is very strange geer at the first sight. And that is the cause why men have gone about to alter these texts: but in so doing they have marred them, {80:B} for it is all one when they would set such a gloss as this upon it, that God's hardening of Sihon's heart, was no more but his promising that he should become hard-hearted, and that he letted [hindered] not the hardness and stubbornness of his heart, that is to say, he did let Sihon alone when he shewed himself stubborn. These are too feeble shifts. For when as the scripture saith expressly that GOD hardened, it fathereth the very work itself upon him. Again, we see how it saith, Thou Lord hast done it: and that in more places than only in this. Think we that the Holy Ghost wanted words wherewith to utter his meaning, when he said, I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and behold, God hath hardened him? [Exod. 7.3.] And again when he saith in the Psalm [105.25] that the Lord turned & converted their hearts unto stubbornness, when they rose up so against Israel? If men should flee always to this gloss, "God saith that he will harden, that is to say, he will not hinder or impeach the hardening:" to what purpose were that? We see it is a fond kind of dealing, and the word Turn sheweth it well. Behold, God turneth the heart. Whereas men's hearts were pliable and disposed to courtesy, God turneth them and maketh them to be inflamed with hatred, so as they be the first that begin the war. And what meaneth that? So then unless we mean to dally and mock with the Holy Scripture, we must not seek such shifts, but rather consider after what sort it is that God hardeneth men's hearts: and yet notwithstanding is not guilty of the hardness that is in men, nor can or ought to be charged with the evil. We must come to that point. For let us mark, that although God harden men's hearts, yet men fail not also to harden themselves. And these two things may agree very well: that is to wit, that a man should harden himself in his own naughtiness, and yet not without God's working in such wise as the evil proceedeth not of Him, nor ought to be imputed to him, as I said before. And to prove that men themselves ought to bear the blame and condemnation of their hard-heartedness, there needeth no long discourse to be made: for every man carrieth his own indictment ready framed in himself. As how? Even the wickedest sort do give evidence against themselves: and although all the world would excuse them, and that both great & small did acquit them: yet have they a heart-biting within them, which maketh them to perceive, that whensoever they offend or sin, they do it willingly of their own according, of a certain lewdness, and with their own will. There is not that man which knoweth not this. Even the greatest despisers of God that are (say I,) even they that are become as brutish as is possible to be, have the said bronding-iron searing within them, so as they know that their sins come of nothing else than their own self-moving, and of their own cursed and wicked affection. Seeing then that men do feel themselves guilty: there needeth no more disputing upon that point.

But now let us come to the second point: that {81:A} is to wit, how it is that God hardeneth men, without being partaker of their sins. Let us mark, that sometimes the causes shall be apparent. And whensoever God punisheth men, we must needs confess that he doeth it justly: mark that for one point. Now one of the means which he hath to punish men withal, is that he blindeth them, that he hardeneth their hearts, that he sendeth them the spirit of giddiness, that he delivereth them up to Satan. These then are signs of God's wrath and vengeance.

And therefore if there were any cause going before: we must glorify him. And why? for he doeth the office of a judge: and for so doing there is no cause to carp and snap at him. It is said that God will send the spirit of drowsiness upon men. [Isa. 19.14.] And why? Because they have misused his goodness, and the instruction that he gave them. [Rom. 1.28.] When we see that this cause went before: that is to wit, that men did wilfully shut their eyes, that they would not hear, and that they would not receive any instruction, but rather laboured to abolish God's truth utterly: is it not reason that they should be given up to the spirit of giddiness? Nay moreover, they will needs be witty to mock God: and we see a number of these scoffers, which are always frumping, and to their seeming, God is but a babe. By reason hereof he shaketh them utterly off, in such wise as they become brute beasts. Now then, when that cause goeth before, we see that God executeth his Justice and punisheth men in such sort, as we cannot but glorify him.  Mark that for one point.

True it is that sometimes there shall be special causes [Rom. 1.19]: but the saying of Paul in the first chapter to the Romans extendeth yet further. For there we see that God hath just reason to blind all the world, and that if he should do so he should do but the office of a judge. For why? although the heathen had no doctrine preached unto them: yet do the heavens and the earth speak sufficiently unto them, inasmuch as God doth shew himself there. But who are they that honour and serve God, for all their enjoying of the benefits which he bestoweth upon them in this world? All are unthankful, all are malicious, we cobble up God's riches here, and in the meanwhile regard not how much we be beholden to him, at leastwise to do him homage for them. And therefore it is reason that he should give up men into a lewd mind, (as saith Paul, [Rom. 1.24,26,27,]) and that he should deliver them into wicked lusts, so as they should forget themselves, and overshoot themselves, and give over themselves to all ungraciousness, and to all manner of shameful and horrible dealings. And why? For they honoured not their creator that made them, & had shewed himself so bountiful and merciful to them. And therefore whensoever God hardeneth men, we must think he hath just reason to do so, because our lewdness and unthankfulness are to be found everywhere. {81:B}

But yet nevertheless, if there appear no apparent cause, and that when we have sought never so much why God hardeneth men, we find no cause at all: yet let us not therefore cease to glorify him, though we see not the reason of his doings. As for example, a man might ask why Sihon was hardened rather than the Moabites, Edomites, and Ammonites? Ye see here four nations between whom there was no odds; I mean as in respect of naughtiness. For if we think that the Ammonites and Edomites, were better than the Amorites, it is but folly and a deceiving of ourselves. Then were they all as infidels, and could have found in their hearts that God's people had been utterly sunk. But God boweth the hearts of the Ammonites and such others, to the end that they should not enter into war. He meekeneth and suppleth them, as if a wild beast were tamed: and in the mean while he hardeneth Sihon's heart, pricking him and enflaming him forward, to the end he should come to give battle. Whence cometh such diversity? We cannot allege any reason; our wit is too raw and weak thereto. And again, God concealeth his purpose from us in that behalf. What shall we do then? although we be at our wits end in this case: let us learn to do God so much honour, as to acknowledge that he is just and upright in all his doings. And although the thing be strange to our understanding, and it seem to us that we might speak against it, yet notwithstanding let us forbear to reply, and let us humble ourselves under the majesty of our God. For truly the thing wherein he will try men's humility, is that we should glorify him in all his works, yea even though they agree not nor match not with our natural reason. There is not a truer obedience of faith than that. [Rom. 1.5.] And if they which babble so much nowadays against God's providence, had learned but this one principle of honouring GOD by confessing that he is righteous, and measured not his Justice or righteousness by their own brain: there would be no more difficulty. But what? There are a sort of proud beggers, which set themselves against GOD, and swell at him like Toads. Insomuch that if they have once taken a toy in their head, although GOD have spoken the flat contrary, they pass not for that, neither will they surcease their rage for it. But as for our part, to the intent we may be God's true disciples, let us bridle our wits and hold them as prisoners and captives under the doctrine of the Holy Scripture: which is, that God holdeth men's hearts in his hand, and turneth them to gentleness when he listeth, as we see he did in Egypt. Behold, the Egyptians were full of spite and cruelty, so as they meant nothing else but to have utterly destroyed the people of Israel. But yet in one minute of an hour, and even in the turning of a hand, God wrought in such wise that they were changed. [Exod. 11.3; 12.36.] They yielded up all their vessels of gold and silver at the commandment of the people. To be short they {82:A} did more for the children of Israel, than the fathers would have done for their own children. And whereof came this? Even of God's changing of their hearts when he thought good. Also on the contrary part, God holdeth men's hearts in his hand, to harden them as he listeth. And if this seem strange unto us: let us acknowledge the weakness of our understanding, and let us always first and foremost confess God to be righteous, and therewithall reverence his high and deep secrets, sith [since] we cannot attain unto them. Thus ye see what we have to remember in the first place.

Also we have to note the end for which this was done. God (saith Moses) was determined to destroy Sihon: GOD had already assigned him his judgment: that was the cause why he hardened him. It is not in this text only, that the holy Ghost speaketh so; But when God sendeth his Prophet Isaiah [6.9,10], and telleth him that the people shall be hardened and blinded, yea even the more after their hearing of all the matters and warnings that should be given them: he addeth I will have this people blinded, to the end they convert not and I should heal them. As if he should say, this people is not worthy to be pitied at my hand, or to have any mercy shewed them: and therefore they must dwell still in their destruction. And that they may do so, I will harden their hearts, stop their ears, and blind their eyes, so as they shall be past all amendment. Let us understand, that in so doing God hath always just reason: but yet is it not to be said, that therefore it is lawful for us always to [demand to] know it. If the reason be apparent to us: it is well, and let us weigh it throughly, acknowledging (as I told you before) that God executeth his just vengeance upon the sinners that have offended him too much, and abused his patience and goodness. But howsoever the case stand, if we see no reason at all, let his only will and ordinance suffice us, and let it content us that he knoweth why he dealeth so, though it be not his will to reveal it unto us, at leastwise till the day wherein the things that are now hidden from us, shall be discovered unto us. For (as saith Paul) as now we see but in part and darkly. [1 Cor. 13.9-12.] And if we knew that: namely that we be here as in a dark prison, so long as we be closed in with our mortal flesh: and again that we be earthly and must be fain to be renewed ere we can comprehend God's secrets perfectly: it were enough to allay the cackeling of such as nowadays blaspheme the doctrine of election, so as they should humble themselves before God, to embrace with all reverence whatsoever is contained in the holy scripture. But do what we can, yet must we pass that way. And therefore when we hear that God's will was to destroy Sihon, and that therefore he hardened him: let us assure ourselves, that when it pleaseth God to draw men to salvation, he turneth their hearts to make them repent them of their sins, that they may be sorry for them and seek to obey him. After that manner doth God alter the hearts of such as were {82:B} malicious and froward, and reformeth them to his obedience; yea even when he intendeth to save them. Likewise on the contrary part, when he hath utterly appointed them to destruction: he hardeneth them, so as there is no mean for them to admit any amendment, or to come near it, but they repine against him and his doctrine, whereof they make as it were a deadly poison.  Lo after what sort God worketh.  True it is that man's natural reason can never well brook his doctrine: but we must submit ourselves with such humility in this behalf, as we gainsay not the things which the holy scripture teacheth. Again, whereas it is said, that the children of Eli having been warned, received not correction at their father's hand: it followeth immediately, because the Lord was purposed to slay them. [1 Sam. 2.25.] By setting down hereof, we see that God gave them not the grace to convert, because he left them in the destruction, wherein they were by nature: And that he so purposed, it was through his rightful justice. Here is no talk of I wot not what permission or sufferance, so as God should play the blinkard, or shut his eyes as these fantastical fellows imagine, which have as much experience in the holy scripture as dogs: but it is said, that God's will was to have it so. Wherefore let us learn, that when God hardeneth men, it is a sign that he hath delivered them to Satan, as past recovery. True it is that on the one part God serveth his turn by Satan and by wicked men, to deceive the unbelievers, according as we see that when it was said, who will be my messenger to deceive Ahab? the devil offereth himself, and God sendeth him. Go (saith God) and overrule thou all his false prophets, and let them be all there to blind this wretch that hath been so rebellious against me. [1 Kings 22.21-23.] We see how God serveth his turn by Satan, & that all false prophets are sent by him. But yet should not this prevail; for if men were well disposed, Satan should win nothing by his illusions, and all his wiles should be withstood: But it is said that God giveth effectual or workful error: it is even Paul's own manner of speech. [2 Thess. 2.11,12.]

Now whereas he termeth it effectual error, it is as much to say as men shall be so sotted [made foolish], that they shall not be able to discern any more, nor to perceive the deceits, but shall become so brutish, as they shall fling and cast themselves headlong into destruction, and not judge of anything. It is God that blindeth them so, saith Paul. And why? Because he is minded to overthrow them. Now I have told you already, that sometimes the cause shall not be apparent as it is in that place of Paul, who avoucheth it concerning such as having heard the Gospel, received it not, nor became the better for it, but rejected it, as we see these wretches do nowadays, which trample the doctrine of salvation under their feet, through their ungodliness. And Paul saith it is good reason that God should so blind them, as darkness might reign over them, forasmuch {83:A} as they listed not to receive the light. But sometimes the cause shall be incomprehensible: we shall not perceive why God worketh so; [we shall not discern] why he will have one to perish rather than another.  [In that case] let us content ourselves with his only goodness, and confess that he is righteous howsoever the world go.  Besides this, let us learn to call upon God, that it may please him to turn our hearts to good, so as when he sendeth us the message of peace, and offereth us his fatherly goodness, we may not only hear it as the voice of a man: but also be touched with it by him in our hearts. And in so doing, let us not doubt of his mercy, for he witnesseth thereby that he hath pity upon us, and prepareth us, and changeth our hearts, to bow them to his obedience. [1 Pet. 1.2.] Thus ye see what we have to remember as in respect of this sentence.

Now Moses saith, that Sihon came forth to battle & was overcome, both he and all his people, because God had delivered him to the children of Israel. Here Moses sheweth that the victory which the people had of Sihon and the Amorites, was of God's mere grace. And it was meet also that the people should be put in mind therefore, that they might perceive how God had governed them. And this rehearsal is made, to keep the people in awe, and to make them understand, that if they did not serve and honour him all their life long, and teach their children to do the like: it were too wicked an unthankfulness. And here we have two points to mark. The one is general, that we must learn to yield God the honour of all the victories that he giveth us against our enemies. I mean not only of Princes when they have made wars, or won a battle in the field: but [even of ourselves also] when we have been assailed by some peculiar person, and be escaped from his hands. When a man hath done us any wrong, or put us to some trouble, and we be delivered from it: Let us assure ourselves it is God that hath given us that upper hand, to the end we should always have our mouths open to yield him thanks for it: and that we should not only do it with the mouth: but also and specially shew forth by our whole life, how much we be bound unto him. Ye see then that the thing which we have to mark, is that whensoever and how oft soever we scape from the malice of our enemies, God hath reached out his hand to succour us, and by that means hath bound us to him, to the intent we should have the more courage to serve him and honour him.

The second point is, that look what Moses spake to the people of Israel, the same doth he say at this day unto us. For we have need to be put in mind of God's grace and benefits, that we may be the more moved to magnify his name and to give ourselves wholly unto him, so as we may never forget his benefits, to run into any disorder. For we see how men do easily sot [stupefy] themselves, specially when GOD dealeth favourably with them. Because our God dealeth gently with us: we think we {83:B} may conspire to forsake him and forget him. And truly this proverb which is common among men, namely that we cannot away with our own ease, is put too much in practice. And therefore it is for our welfare to be put in mind of God's benefits, and to have the remembrance of them refreshed.  And why? To the intent we may be held in awe of him, and serve him, & take courage to keep ourselves altogether under his subjection, assuring ourselves that that is our sovereign bliss, and that forasmuch as he never forsaketh his faithful ones, and those that lean unto him, we suffer him to be our protector, and play not the loose colts, so as we should be forsaken of him at our need. Ye see then that this declaration is directed to us nowadays.

As touching that it is said, That GOD had delivered Sihon before them: it serveth to shew the better, that inasmuch as they had an easy victory, GOD gave the greater brightness to his grace, as we have seen already heretofore. I note this briefly, to the intent that this strain may be laid to the other, which we have seen and expounded already.

Had the people of Israel had much ado to overcome their enemies, they might have imputed it to their own force [strength]. "O we have fought well," [might they have said.] "O there was great prowess in us: for our enemies were very valiant."

But when as their enemies were driven like chaff with the wind, when they that were erst [formerly] both strong and stout were dismayed, so as they had no more heart than women, but scattered away at the first shock, and became so cowardly, as they might smite upon them at their pleasure, so as the people were even weary of fleeing them that were like enough to have eaten them up: What is to be said of it, but that God delivered the enemies of his people, that is to say, that he brought them thither as it were of purpose to take vengeance on them? Ye see then that the thing which is imported by this manner of Moses' speech, is the amplifying of God's grace, to the end that it might be the better known of the children of Israel.

And whereas it is said, that all were put to the sword, even little children and all: It might at the first blush seem a point of great cruelty, that the children of Israel spared not even the little babes. And what an outrage was that? For what though the king and the men had been so froward as to deny them passage? Ought the women therefore to have borne the smart of it, and their little babes too? We see and are warned hereby, that we must not deem of God's judgments after our own fancy. For if we will needs run ahead when God telleth us that he hath disposed a matter, and that we will needs shoot forth our bolts at every turn: we take upon us the office of GOD. For it is His right to judge of us, and not ours to judge of him. And what {84:A} will come of it, but that we shall be confounded in our rashness and malapertness? What a traitorousness is it, that mortal creatures should climb so high, as to give judgment upon their maker? Therefore when there is any speaking of God's judgments, let us learn to restrain our wits from such rashness as to say what we think good: and let us consider that all that ever cometh from God, is good and rightful, though it seem contrariwise to us. And in very deed, sith [since] we see not a whit into the bottomless deeps of God's judgments: let us assure ourselves that we do but bewray [expose] the informity that is in us, and that in the mean season God hath wherewith to maintain his justice, although he shew it not to us.  And were the thing well weighed that is written in Genesis [15.16], we should know that it was not without cause that our Lord commanded the children of the Amorites to be rooted out of the world. For even in the time of Abraham, the Canaanites were come to the full measure of all iniquity, as it seemed: and we see examples enough thereof, in that they troubled Abraham so much. And yet for all that, God said that their iniquity was not yet full ripe. Albeit that men had condemned them: yet is God patient, and tarrieth, and beareth with them, yea even four hundred years after. Ye see then that God did bear with the wickedness of that people four hundred years: and shall we say now at the four hundred years end, how happeneth it that God dealeth so roughly with them? We would fain be pleading against God. If he use patience, we say he is too slow: and if he use extreme vengeance, we blame him of cruelty. But contrariwise, if God execute not his judgments out of hand: let us assure ourselves that therein he sheweth his goodness. And on the other side if he extend such rigour as maketh us abashed and afraid: let us assure ourselves that he doth it justly and upon good cause, although the same cause be not ever apparent unto us. So then, first of all, whereas here is mention made of such a slaughter of the Amorites as extended even to the infants: let us assure ourselves that, seeing GOD telleth us that he had commanded the people of Israel to do it, we must embrace it without gainsaying, & it is not for us to check against it, unless we will be condemned for our devilish pride, in presuming to plead against our judge, yea even against our sovereign judge. {84:B}  Finally we must not justify men when they adventure anything upon their own heads and for their own pleasure: but we must put a difference between the things that concern God, and the things that concern men. For in the end of the chapter, Moses saith expressly, According as the Lord our God had commanded. Then if anything come in our way, let us inquire whether it concern God or no. If we perceive that it concern God: then must we submit ourselves thereto, saying, Lord thou art righteous, let thine only will suffice us, without looking to have any other reason: let it not be lawful for us to go beyond that rule, forasmuch as it is the rule of all right. Now then if we have the discretion and skill, to discern between God and men: then shall we not fail to honour and glorify God, and to yield him the praise of Justice and uprightness: [and so shall we likewise] if we endeavour to try men's doings by God's word as we be taught it. For good reason it is that the same should overrule us, yea and that all our deeds and thoughts should be so measured, compassed, and directed thereby, as we may consider thus with ourselves: Hath God forbidden it? then is it a wicked thing and therefore I must forbear it: but doth God allow it or permit it? then let us confess that it is well done, without inquiring any further. Thus ye see what we have to remember for the conclusion of this text.

Now let us kneel down in the presence of our good God with acknowledgment of our sins, praying him to make us feel them better, and to teach us to condemn ourselves utterly, (as in very deed there is nothing in us but cursedness, and none but only God deserveth to have all praise of righteousness & uprightness yielded unto him) and that every [one] of us may not only confess it with our mouths, but also sigh for our sins through true repentance, so as we may return again unto him, praying him to change our wicked hearts in such wise, that whereas now they be plunged in all naughtiness, and stonehard, he will vouchsafe to bring them to his obedience, and to write and engross his laws and commandments in them, so as we may seek nothing but to please him, and to frame ourselves wholly to his good will. That it may please him to grant this grace, not only to us, but also to all people, &c.