TO ALL TRULY CHRISTIAN READERS. HEALTH.
Although our most accomplished and faithful Pastor Theodore Beza, with his singular dexterity and happy tact, seems not to have omitted anything in his Dedication of these Lectures to that most noble hero, and most pious Admiral or Francs, yet those who attentively peruse my remarks, and look upon them with a candid mind, will not judge my few observations superfluous; but I trust they will admit them to be rather grateful and useful to all the pious. And, first of all, no words can sufficiently express how severe a loss The Church Of God has suffered, in the summons from this life to eternal rest, which that illustrious and really divine man, our parent, John Calvin, has received; whether you look at the perpetual consistency of his life, or at his remarkable learning, combined with his exalted piety. For who ever surpassed him in sanctity of morals, in incredible suavity, in unbroken magnanimity, in singular tolerance, nay even in the highest virtues? And as to his wonderful erudition, his multitudinous Writings plainly bear witness to it; some of these being already published, and the rest, with God's permission, will shortly see the light, to the manifest advantage of the pious. For many of his productions are extant, either as extracted from his discourses or preserved by his friends, as those Letters, in both French and Latin, sent to all classes of men, from which it is very evident with what an acute and happy wit he was endued, and with what a clear and sound judgment he was gifted. But I will here say no more on this subject, lest I should seem to dwell upon what is out of place. It will be enough just to touch on a few things which belong especially to these Lectures.
On the 20th of January 1563, when John Calvin began to interpret Ezekiel, in the Public School, although he was continually afflicted by various severe diseases, so that he was often carried to his duties in a chair or on horseback, in consequence of the weakness of his declining health; neither during the whole year did the violence of his maladies prevent his discharging the duty of preaching and reading. At length, about the first of February in the following year, he had advanced as far as the end of the twentieth chapter, with the exception of four verses, and then he was compelled to remain at home, and to confine himself almost always to his bed. In the meantime, during his illness, he was continually meditating, or dictating, or even writing something: so that during the time of his confinement to the house, through ill health, it is scarcely credible how much he accomplished. Among other things, he yew diligently revised the greater part of these Lectures, as is evident by the copy corrected with his own hand, which I have carefully preserved with the rest.
But we must all regret, most sincerely, that as he was most skillful in explaining the teaching of the Prophets, he was prevented by death from completing his Comments On Ezekiel; for no pious man is ignorant that the following portion of this Prophet's writings is very necessary to the Church of God. How desirable, then, that they should have been illustrated by such a man! That this loss may be in some degree remedied, in deference to the wishes of some persons of great weight and learning, that it would be more satisfactory to publish these Lectures at once, than to suppress them any longer, since they will prove so useful to all the pious, my beloved brother, John Buds, and myself, have willingly undertaken the duty, relying on their judgment. We have spared neither expense, nor trouble, nor labor, in publishing the Lectures as soon as possible; and, God willing, we will shortly take care to translate them into French, for the benefit of our people, as our French Version of the Lectures On Jeremiah, put to press nine months ago, is now just finished; so that, unless I am mistaken, our people, who do not understand Latin, will reap great profit. And that nothing should be omitted in this Latin edition, we have taken care that whatever errata had occurred in printing, they are noticed at the end. And since in this book a very great treasure is included, a very copious Index has been compiled by a learned man, through whose guidance its inexhaustible riches may be readily obtained, without any trouble. Another Index is added, of those places of Scripture which are quoted and explained.
In editing these last Lectures, we have used the same industry, diligence, and fidelity, which we exercised in the others already published. There is no necessity for my explaining more at length what I have previously made known with sufficient clearness, as to the manner in which we have retained what are received from Calvin's extemporary pronunciation.
It remains, therefore, most excellent Readers, that you now enjoy the labors of so great a man, and acknowledge whatever fruit you receive as springing from the Great and Good God, and that to Him you render cordially immortal thanks. You will yourselves judge better and more surely the profit which you receive from their perusal, than I could express in many words. Farewell, then, and may it always be appointed that your studies may all tend to the glory of God.
[CHARLES DE JONVILLER.]
GENEVA, January 18th, 1565.
(August 1st, 1565. The date of the French Translation.)