ROBERT EARLE OF SALISBVRIE, VICOVNT
Cranbourne, Baron of Essendon, Principall Secretarie to
the Kings most excellent Maiestie, Master of the
Court of Wardes and Liueries, and one of
his Highnesse most Honourable
Grace and peace be multiplied
Right Honorable, such has been the singular care and fatherly providence of God over his church in these last times: that according to his own most gratious promise (through the means of preaching and writing) knowledge has overflowed in all places, as the waters that cover the sea. Hence it is come to pass, that even this nation also, albeit utterly unworthy to receive so much as the least sprincklings of this knowledge, has not withstanding been replenished and filled therewith, almost from corner to corner. Many chosen and worthy instruments has the Lord raised up here and there for this purpose. But amongst the rest, none for whom there is greater cause of thankfulness, than for that rare and excellent light of this age, Mr. Calvin: whether in respect of the large and many volumes, which with unwearable pains he has written, or the exceeding fruits which the Churches have thereby gained. So that all of sound judgment will acknowledge, that God had poured out upon him a principal portion and measure of his spirit to profit with all, 1 Corinthians 12:7. Whereof, as his whole works give sufficient proofs, so his Commentaries especially. For besides his sincerity and faithfulness in delivering the true and natural sense of the holy Scriptures; he has this as peculiar to himself, that with his faithfulness and sincerity he always matches an exceeding plainness and gravity: whereby his Reader may obtain that he seeks, both with great ease, and with very little loss of time.
Divers of these his Commentaries, Right Honorable, have been already translated to the great benefit of this nation: others yet remain untranslated, which doubtless would be no less beneficial. The which, as I have earnestly desired; so, had gifts and means been in any measure answerable, it had been performed ere this. For the present, I have been bold to give your Honor a small taste thereof in these my poor first fruits: wherein although my pains are no way sufficient to commend the same unto your Honor, yet I doubt not but the matter itself will be found worthy of your H. patronage. For where are the natures and offices of Christ so largely described; the doctrine of the free remission of sins in Christ's blood better established, or faith with her effects more highly commended, than in this Epistle to the Hebrews?
Now as touching the reasons, Right Honorable, that have moved me hereunto, they are briefly these; First, I was not ignorant what singular love and affection your Honor bare to the author of this Commentary for his work's sake, whereof many also are witnesses. Unto which, if your Honor should be pleased to add a second favor in Patronizing these his labors, I thought it would be a special means to revive his memory again, now almost decayed amongst us.
Secondly, I was persuaded that if your Lordship, whom it has pleased the Almighty so highly to advance, being also a favorer and defender of the truth, and of all good causes; would permit this works to pass under your Honors protection: that it would be both better esteemed, and the more acceptably received of all.
Lastly, my good Lord. As I cannot conceal that deep and inward affection of love and duties which I owe unto your Honor, in regard of the near employments which sometimes a dear friend of mine had about your Lordship in your young years: so by this dedication it was my desire to testify part of a thankful mind, in respect that you have not suffered neither length of time, nor your H. weighty affairs in matters of state, to wear the same out of your Honorable remembrance: as by the great favors your H. has lately showed in that behalf, does plainly appear.
Thus in most humble manner craving pardon for my great boldness, I humbly end; beseeching the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth, to pour out the abundance of all blessings both upon you and yours in this life, and to crown your H. and them with immortal blessedness in his kingdom of Gloria, through Christ.
Your Honours in all humble and dutifull affection
ever to bee commanded,