Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 17: Jeremiah and Lamentations, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
TO THE NOBLE
AND VERTVOVS LADY,
THE LADY LVCIE, COVNTESSE
of Bedford: And to the Right Honorable and highly honored Lady, the Lady Anne Harrington, Barrones: mercy
and peace be multiplied
Right Honorable: The holy Prophet Jeremiah (according to the diuers subjects he had to work upon in his ministerial function) is forced sometimes, with Isaiah his forerunner, to lift up his voice like unto a Sonne of Thunder; (Isa 58:1) and eftsoones, with the same Prophet againe, to altar and change the same into the still and soft voice of a Sonne of Consolation: (1Ki 19:20) wherein, as God’s faithful messenger, hee carries himself faithfully: For as a Sonne of Thunder, he sharply inueyes against the sinnes and sinners of his time, boldly denouncing God’s judgements against them; and as a Sonne of Consolation, (for their sakes whom the Lord had appointed to bee heires of sahation,) hee sweetly preacheth Christ, mixing often with the terrible threats of the Law the sauing promises of the Gospel; that if any came, by the ministry of the one, to be pricked in conscience and humbled, (Ac 2:37) he readily, like the good Samaritan, powreth in the mollifying and healing oyle of the other to cure and reuiue them. And thus, as a wise disposer and dispenser of the manifold secrets of God, (Ps 101:1) his song (in a manner) throughout his Prophesy (like Aaron’s Bels — Ex 28:33) soundeth forth judgement and mercy; preaching judgement to such as were and would be sinners in Sion, (Isa 33:14) and mercy to such as he saw to be mourners in Sion. (Isa 61:3). In which respects he may serue as a liuely patterne for all Preachers to follow in their ordinary course of preaching. These Sermons of his (many of them) doe notably sute to our times; and therefore ought to be read, and read againe, of all estates high and low.
But for as much as in reading the Prophets sundry difficulties are met withall, which euery one hath not the skill of himself to dissolue, it would (as I think) be very beneficial for such if they had an holy helper, such an one as this, ready at hand: An interpreter; One (indeed) of a thousand, (Job 33:23) that might help to dissolve their doubts, and unloose their hard knots for them; that so understanding what they read, they might (by the blessing of God) with the more ease come to profit by their reading. This hath our Philip (Ac 8:34-35) faithfully performed (according to that light of understanding wherewith the Lord had extraordinarily endowed him) throughout the Prophets; and pity it is that so great light should after a sort he buried in darkness from many well minded Christians, onely because they are not (as they might be) turned into our owne natiue language.
Not many yeeres since, a Lampe (if I may so speake) began to be kindled, for giuing them some insight into the harder passages of the Prophets, by translating this Author’s Commentaries vpon the Prophecie of Isaiah into English; but much more cleere would the light haue now shined if thereunto had been added the translation of all his Lectures vpon the Prophesie of Ieremiah also. For mine owne part, seeing sufficiency of oyle hath failed me to furnish out this second Lampe vnto the end, I haue for the present proceeded onely through the flue first Chapters.
The which (Right Honorable) as a testimony of that seruice and duty I owe your Honors, I have presumed (as one ouertaken with Ahimaaz his hast, sorewhat abruptly, I confesse) to dedicate vnto you: And if in token of your favorable acceptance thereof you shall be pleased to suffer the same to passe vnder your Honorable names and patronage, many may be occasioned thereby to blesse God for you, and my selfe still to pray, that the blessing of him who was ready to perish may come vpon you.
Your Honor’s humbly