Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 31: Matthew, Mark and Luke, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
THE EPISTLE DEDICATORY
TO THE OLD TRANSLATION
To the right honorable
FRANCIS, EARL OF BEDFORD,
Of the noble order of the garter, knight,
One of the lords of her majesty’s most hon. Privy council;
Grace and peace from god, with the increase of that true
Honor which is from god, and lasteth for ever.
[Prefixed to the Original English Translation, London, 1584 and 1610.]
The choice (Right Honourable) which Luke the Evangelist made in dedicating this History of the Gospel, which he wrote, to that noble man Theophilus, and which that man of worthy memory, M. John Calvin, took in dedicating these his labors to the Lords of Frankfort, driveth me to dedicate this my small labor of translating this book into the English tongue. And though it is but little that I have done, in comparison of the labors of the other two, and not worth the offering to men of great estate; yet, lest that I should seem singular in dissenting from these two singular instruments in the Church of God, and that in one and the selfsame book I have presumed to make bold of your Lordship’s name, hoping that your Honor will not mislike to have it written in the forehead of this book with noble Theophilus and the Lords of Frankfort; specially, sith that I do it in testimony of my dutiful love to you, for the manifold grace of God in you, and benefits which I have received from you. Men do commonly, in their Epistles, write either in the commendation of the work, or in the praise of their patron, or in discharging of themselves of the discredit which their enemies would lay upon them. But I crave pardon of your Honor, if, in studying to be short, I omit these things.
For, first, the very name of The Gospel of Jesus Christ and then the names of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, the Evangelists, and of M. Calvin, the gatherer of The Harmony and the writer of The Commentary, do yield more credit and commendation to the matter than all that I can say of it, all the days of my life. Only this I say of M. Calvin’s labors here, that in my simple judgment it is one of the profitablest works for the Church that ever he did write.
Next, for your praises, as you like not to hear them, so I will not offend you in setting them down, nor give others occasion to condemn me of flattery. They which have best known you say, that you began a good course in your youth; that you witnessed a good confession in the late time of persecution; that your constancy hath been testified by your troubles at home and travels in foreign countries: You have continued your profession in the midst of your dignity, lordships, and living, left by your parents, and in the seat of government wherein our sovereign and most gracious Queen hath placed you; not falling asleep, in security, in this so peaceable a time.
My Lord, continue to the end, so shall you be safe. I speak not this as if it were your own strength that hath holden you up all this while; but meditate sometimes, I pray you, upon the seventy-first Psalm; and pray that Lord, as David did, who kept you in your youth, that He will keep you in your old age, now that your hair is hoar and hairs grey. And I beseech the mighty Lord to thrust them forward which are drawn back by their youthly affections, and to raise up them that fell away for fear of troubles, and to waken those which in this quiet and calm time do sleep in security, or wax wanton with the wealth of the world; that we may meet the Lord with true humility and earnest repentance, to see if He will be intreated to continue His mercies towards us; lest he turn his correcting rod, which he hath so oft shaken over us, into a devouting sword to consume us.
Of myself I will say nothing. The mouths of the wicked cannot be stopped. Their false tongues, I hope, shall teach me to walk warily; and I have learned, I thank my God, to pass through good report and through evil, and to commit myself and my cause to Him that judgeth right.
The Lord of lords preserve your Honour in safety, and multiply all spiritual blessings upon you and yours. From Kiltehampton, in Cornwall, this 28th of, January, 1584.
The Lord’s most unworthy Minister, lame