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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 13: Isaiah, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at




Sovereign Lord, James King of Great Britain, etc



GRACE, His Highneffe moft deare Sifter; all honour and happineffe, with eternall glorie through Chrift Iesvs.

Most gracious and renowned Princes, hauing translated out of French into our English tongue the booke of the prophecy of Isaiah, interpreted and expounded by Master John Calvin, of reverend memory: I humbly craue that it may be published under your most Princely names and protection. The reason of this my humble petition is, that the honour of so noble a work may not be imbased by the means of my endevours. This Prophet, by birth, was the son of Amos, esteemed by many to have been brother to Azarias King of Judah, and Father in law to King Manasses: which being so, this Prophet was by birth of the blood Royal, and descended of the house of David, which for the promise of Christ to come of him, was the most noble house of all the Kings of the earth. Being so borne, his education could not be but Princely, and his bringing up in all good learning, wisdom, virtue, and honour. His spiritual graces, not attained unto by ordinary means, but inspired into him immediately by the Spirit of God, were excellent. This appeareth particularly in the sixth Chapter of this Prophet, declaring that an Angel of God saith a burning coal taken from the Lords Altar, and laid to the mouth of the Prophet, refined his lips and his tongue, that they became pure and precious as the finest Gold. The same is manifest in all the book of his Prophecy; wherein both the light and the heat of that heavenly fire appeareth. For he not only declared the will of God sincerely, according to the law and testimony delivered to Moses, but also foreshewed the future events of the Kingdom of Judah, and of all the flourishing states and Kingdoms of his time.

He Prophecied also of the birth of Jesus Christ, as if he had been taught by the Angel Gabriel; who brought the annunciation and message of it to the blessed Virgin his mother. Of his passion and death he spake, as if with the Apostle John he had stood by when he was crucified. His resurrection he described, as if with all the Apostles he had stood upon Mount Olive, where the Lord took the cloud of Gloria as his heavenly Chariot to ascend and goes up to his Father. His zeal and indignation against sin is evident every where, in his sharp reproofs of the offenses of all estates.

Finally, the book of his Prophecy beareth written in the head of it the names of four Kings, in whose time he prophesied; and before whom as a vessel of gold he bare the name of God with great honour. All which things being royal, it seemed to me most convenient that his book should still bear in the front of it the names of Princes. And as he foreshewed that Kings should be Fosterfathers, and Queenes Nurces of the Church of Christ, so my desire was that his book might be published under the names and protection of Christian Princes.

Moreover, I was led hereunto by the example of this Interpreter, whose exposition upon Isaiahs prophesie I translate; namely, of M. John Calvin, a man in his time of excellent piety and learning; and one of the great lights, whereby it hath pleased God both to chase away the errors of popery, as the darkness of the shadow of death; and to cause his marvelous and comfortable light of the Gospel to shine unto this present age. For he dedicated his first exposition of this book to the young Prince, King Edward the sixth, of famous memory, for the princely graces, for the zealous love of true religion, and of al heroical virtues, wherewith in his young years he raised an admirable expectation of future glory, if his precious life had long continued. He was also most worthily renowned with highest glory, for that gracious reformation in religion, which was established by his regal authority, and which our English Church at this day with great comfort doth enjoy, under the happy government of our Sovereign Lord the King, your most noble and renowned Father.

Furthermore, the same Author setting out again this Commentary, amplified and enlarged, he dedicated this second edition to our late most gracious Queen Elizabeth, worthy of eternal memory in this Kingdom, for the reestablishing (after a few years alteration) of the zealous reformation of her most virtuous brother. Which example hath led me in most humble manner to seek for the same work, the high patronage and protection of such Princes, like those to whom he presented this his service.

To whom I know none so like as your selves, both in regard of your high estate, and also in like most noble descent from the united houses of Yorke and Lancaster. Besides which resemblance, your Highness also is of like years to the young Prince King Edward, and in the eyes of all the kingdom, of like hope of excellent virtue and zealous proceedings in the advancement of Christian religion.

In like manner your Grace resembleth the most gracious late Queen Elizabeth, both in her royal name, and also in the constant expectation of all men, to express in time all the princely virtues and graces that shined in that most renowned Princess, from this Western part of the world, to the furthest East, and to the rising of the Sun.

In which respects, esteeming such a dedication, most like that which my author made of his own work, I have most humbly craved that this my translation of it might bee vouchsafed the honour to have your Princely names written in the beginning of it. For notwithstanding the great difference that is between a reverend learned writer and expounded of the holy Scriptures, and the translator of such all expositions yet this mean service hath also his good use in the Church of God; and is of long and tedious labour to such as take pains therein; which being graciously accepted, may encourage others to travel in this kind, and cause many to give thanks to God for you both, by whose most princely favours and protection, they are made partakers of such worthy writings. And I shall always pray Almighty God, with this new year, to multiply many more upon you, and daily replenish your hearts with all princely and heroical graces, that may enable and adorn Princes of so his estates, amongst this people.

Your Highness, and Graces most humbly devoted, in all loyal and dutiful Affection,

Clement Cotton

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