Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 14: Isaiah, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
NICOLAS DES GALLARS
TO HIS ANCIENT FRIEND,
Whenever I call to remembrance, my dear Crispin, (as I cannot but often do,) that eminent and godly pastor of the Church, John Calvin, I have a feeling of deep grief, and at the same time of joy. For when I bring before my mind the candour and uprightness of that man, his kind disposition towards me, and the pleasant and intimate friendship which I enjoyed with him for sixteen years, it is impossible that I should not be deeply affected by the loss of such a friend, or, I ought rather to say, of such a parent. Nor is it only on my own account that I grieve, but rather on account of the whole Church, which has been deprived of so great a man, and has thus sustained a heavy loss by his death.
What labors, what watchings and solicitudes he endured, with what faithfulness and wisdom he attended to the interests of all, with what frankness and courtesy he received those who visited him, how ready and clear were his replies to those who consulted him even on the weightiest matters, how learnedly, both in private and in public, he solved the difficult and perplexing questions which were proposed to him, with what gentleness he comforted the afflicted and cheered those who were faint and sorrowful, with what firmness he resisted adversaries, and with what energy he was wont to restrain the haughty and obstinate, with what strength of mind he bore adversity, what moderation he exercised in prosperity, and, in short, with what ability and cheerfulness he performed all the duties of a true and faithful servant of God, I certainly cannot find words to express! Lest any one should think that the ardor of my regard for him prompts me to make these statements, let him consider the actual facts, which truly exceed the power both of speech and of thought. Besides the writings and records which convey a stupendous testimony of his virtues, many things were done and many were spoken by him which cannot be made known to all, as they are known to those who were present when he did or uttered them.
When I recall those remarkable events, my grief is alleviated; and the advantage which is derived from them, and which is shared with me by so many godly men, gives me consolation. My joy is of such a nature, and is so steady and full, that it swallows up all my sorrow and lamentation however great. And on this ground also do I congratulate you, my dear Crispin, that you not only peruse with the highest delight the works and writings of that man whom you ardently loved, but labor to impart them to others. Those treasures of wisdom are thus enlarged, and return with high interest to those from whom they come. You thus cause the regret for the loss of so great a man to be alleviated, and the grief produced by his lamented and early death to be diminished.
For the third time, after having been wrought and polished on your anvil, this book now comes forth, which I may truly call a treasure, because it contains vast riches of heavenly grace, and opens up the path to what is greater. Whoever shall give to it a cheerful and labourious perusal, let him know with certainty that he will not return empty; for he will gather what shall be advantageous with regard not only to this Prophet but to all the other Prophets, and to the whole of Scripture, and if he attend to the directions which are scattered throughout the book, he will undoubtedly possess a strong light for beholding and enjoying those things which were hidden and concealed from many. By frequently applying your hand, therefore, to this work, you not only gratify me, who first sent it forth after long and severe toil, but you gratify all those who have perused or even tasted the work. You might have sufficiently perceived and actually known this from the numerous copies which have been already circulated.
I have not been disappointed in the expectation which I at that time formed, when during the whole period of four years, with unwearied toil, having first heard the public Sermons and afterwards the private Lectures, but employing my own judgment and style, I returned home and committed these things to writing. And whenever I recollect that period, during which this Church, which formerly was small and feeble, received wonderful accessions, I cannot but feel the utmost joy. You also may well remember what was its condition when, banished from your native country, you first came hither; and likewise what large additions had been made to it when you brought your family, and settled down permanently here for the express purpose of assisting the efforts of the godly by your skill and industry.
These things I take pleasure in relating, in order that, by calling to remembrance what you have experienced, I may quicken your zeal, and may stimulate you to perform those things which you have undertaken, and of which it will be impossible for you ever to repent, and may give a fresh impulse even to your cheerful and willing exertions. Proceed then, my dear Crispin, in assisting by your diligence the efforts of those who are devoted to Sacred Literature, and labor not only to promote this work, but also to publish others. You see that many things, though useful in the highest degree, are passed by and almost neglected by those who aim at immediate gain rather than at public usefulness.
The smaller Treatises of this Author were edited by me fifteen years ago; and although since that time he wrote many other Treatises, yet no one put his hand to that work, so as to bring out a uniform edition, (I speak of the Latin copies,) either of those or of others which were afterwards added. I therefore earnestly and repeatedly urge my request, that you will take charge of those works, and also of others with which you are well acquainted, and that you will not allow any of the writings of so great a man to be lost; and, in short, that you will grant the request made to you by godly and studious persons, and that you will fulfill and go beyond those expectations respecting you which you have already excited. May God favor your undertakings, and make you prosperous and happy!
Geneva, January 1, 1570