Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 13: Isaiah, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
TO HER SERENE HIGHNESS,
NOT LESS ILLUSTRIOUS BY HER OWN VIRTUES THAN BY THE SPLENDOR OF ROYALTY,
ELIZABETH, QUEEN OF ENGLAND ETC.
Although, in making improvements on this Commentary, I have bestowed so much care and industry, most noble Queen, that it ought justly to be reckoned a new work, yet, as in the first edition it was dedicated to your brother King Edward, who, though a youth, greatly excelled the men of his age, and whom I wish to be held in remembrance by posterity, as he deserves, I had intended to make no change in that dedication. But since, amidst that wretched and lamentable dispersion of the Church and oppression of pure doctrine, which raged with prodigious violence for a short period, this book, together with the whole doctrine of true godliness, was banished from England for a time, but now, I trust, favored by your happy reign, will be restored to its former privileges, I thought that there would be no impropriety if to the name of a most excellent king I should join your own name, which is regarded by all good men with not less esteem and satisfaction. Not only was an opportunity offered, but necessity appeared to demand, that I should obtain your full protection to this Commentary, the banishment of which, I am aware, was beheld by a great number of your godly subjects with deep sorrow.
Yet it is not so much my object to be favored with your countenance in my personal labors, as humbly to entreat, and by the sacred name of Christ to implore, not only that, through your kindness, all orthodox books may again be welcomed and freely circulated in England, but that your chief care may be directed to promote religion, which has fallen into shameful neglect. And if this is justly demanded from all kings of the earth by the Only-begotten Son of God, by a still more sacred tie does he hold you bound, most noble Queen, to perform this duty; for when even you, though a king’s daughters were not exempted from that dreadful storm which fell with severity on the heads of all the godly, by the wonderful manner in which he brought you out safe, though not unmoved by the fear of danger, he has laid you under obligation to devote yourself and all your exertions to his service. So far are you from having any reason to be ashamed of this deliverance that God has given you large and abundant grounds of boasting, by confirming you to the image of his Son, on whom the Prophet Isaiah bestows this among other commendations, that from prison and judgment (Isa 53:8) he was raised to the loftiest height of heavenly dominion.
As it is no ordinary honor to resemble such a model, so whenever you recollect, what ought never to be forgotten by you, from what wretched and fearful trembling God rescued you, by openly stretching out his hand, remember also that it was done for the express purpose that you, on the other hand, should, with invincible determination and unshaken firmness of mind, acknowledge your obligation to your Protector and Redeemer, and, laying aside all other kinds of business, a vast number of which I have no doubt, will crowd upon you at the commencement of your reign, labor to have his worship, which for a time was basely and disgracefully corrupted in that kingdom, restored to its former splendor. And if Satan, by presenting many and powerful obstructions, endeavor to produce fear or slothfulness, you are well aware from whom you ought to ask boldness to go steadily forward and to vanquish all opposition; and God, who bestows his blessing on the actions of private individuals, will not fail to grant a happy and desirable issue to his work.
You ought also to be stimulated, venerable Queen, by a sacred regard to duty; for the Prophet Isaiah demands not only from Kings that they be nursing-fathers, but also from Queens that they be nursing-mothers. (Isa 49:23.) This duty you ought to discharge, not only by removing the filth of Popery, and by cherishing the flock which not long ago lay trembling and concealed, but by gathering the exiles who chose rather to part with the advantages of their native country than to remain in it so long as godliness was banished from it. This will be the crowning proof of your gratitude to God, and a sacrifice of most delightful savor, that the faithful worshippers of God, who, on account of their profession of the Gospel, were constrained to wander far and wide through distant countries, shall now, through your kindness, be restored to their native country. We, too, in whom that mournful spectacle awakened, as it ought to have done, the most poignant grief, have abundant cause for rejoicing, and for congratulating you, when, through the gracious exercise of your royal will, we see the way opened for the return of our brethren, not only to be at liberty to worship God in your Majesty’s dominions, but to render assistance to others.
And now, most noble Queen, if you shall be graciously pleased, as I trust you will, not to disdain this testimony of my respect for you, which some would perhaps reckon to be trivial and of little value, I shall esteem it to be no ordinary kindness, and will endeavor through my whole life to testify my gratitude by every means in my power.
May the Lord guide you, most illustrious Queen, by the Spirit of wisdom, uphold you with invincible courage, protect and enrich your Highness with every kind of blessings!
Geneva, 15th January; the day which, it was reported, had been fixed for your coronation; on which account I more gladly set myself to write, having partially recovered from an attack of quartan ague.