Harmony Of The Law Volume 2 by Jean Calvin
Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard. These four precepts, which all condemn strange medleys, I doubt not to be supplements of the First Commandment; and the reason, which is subjoined in Deuteronomy, directs us to this, where God declares that the produce of the seed and of the vineyard is polluted, if there be divers mixtures. Whence it appears that nothing else is demanded but that they should cultivate purity. The word indeed, which Moses uses, means to |sanctify,| qds kadesh; but, by antiphrasis, it is taken for to |contaminate.| To the same effect is what follows, that they should not plough with an ox and an ass together; for this diversity is forbidden on no other account, but because men contract some defilement as soon as they depart from simplicity. Yet, if any one thinks otherwise, I shall not strongly contend with him. It might indeed be objected, that when God forbids animals to be used promiscuously, so that those of different kinds should not be mixed together, He has regard to chastity, and that, by forbidding the fields to be sown with divers seeds, and garments to be woven of divers materials, He would prevent frauds. But the more simple explanation is, that the people were thus retained in purity, lest they should accustom themselves to corrupt habits, and lest they should bring in strange rites from various quarters, or seek, with depraved curiosity, for mixtures which might at length invade the worship of God. For if animals of different species are joined together, the integrity of nature is corrupted, and an adulterine offspring is produced, which degenerates from the institution of God; but, if various kinds of seed should be mixed together, or if a garment should be woven of linen and wool, there would be no danger of deception or fraud in so manifest a matter. It is probable, therefore, that the end which, as I have said, was proposed by God was, that, by cultivating natural and simple habits all their life through, they should keep themselves pure and uncorrupted from every strange vice. On this account Scripture compares strange doctrines to leaven, since by their additions or curtailings they corrupt the pure word of God. (Matthew 16:11.) And this was by no means a useless discipline; when, in trifles, and almost things of nought, the rein was applied to them, so that they should not decline from purity in the very least degree. It was a small matter to interweave a thin thread with a thicker one, and perchance such a process would have been profitable for their general advantage; in some fields, too, a better crop is grown, if the seed is compounded of pure wheat, and some other sort of grain (siligine), as also the union of the horse and ass has been approved of, since thus mules are produced. But God would not allow these things amongst His ancient people, lest, sinking by degrees to greater license, they should at length addict themselves to the practice and customs of the heathen. He therefore uses this preface: |Ye shall keep my statutes,| (Leviticus 19:19;) from whence we gather that the people were surrounded with fixed barriers, lest they should defile themselves with foreign vices, and imitate the nations, from which they had been separated. Wherefore this is the sum, that they should abide in God's statutes.