The extraordinary ability and skill displayed by Calvin, in his Commentaries on the Inspired Writings, have been set forth by almost all the Translators of this Series. I have always thought, and am happy to have the support of his latest Editor, Dr. Tholuck, that he is more successful in expounding the Epistles Of Paul than in any other portion of Scripture. This might arise in part from having studied them with uncommon ardor and perseverance. The times in which he lived held out strong inducements to examine the great peculiarities of the Christian Faith. And where were these so likely to be found as in the writings of an Apostle whom the Spirit of God employed, more than all the others, in unfolding to the Church |the unsearchable riches of Christ?| (Ephesians 3:8.)
How far that success might be promoted by the resemblance of character which an able and eloquent writer asserts to have existed between the great Apostle and the Reformer, I leave undetermined. But the chief cause unquestionably lay in his singularly clear perception of that scheme of doctrine which Paul was honored to declare. This enabled him to penetrate the design of the Apostle, and to follow closely the course of his argument. In discussions of the greatest intricacy he seldom loses his way.
Various authors, who cannot be named without awakening gratitude, and to whom it would be impossible to do justice in this brief sketch, have supplied the materials of valuable Notes to this volume. From their pages it would have been easy to select many a warm tribute to the Genevan Reformer, to whom they were deeply indebted, and whose writings were consulted by them with acknowledged deference. The greatest lights of our age have not superseded the labors of Calvin, and ablest divines vie with each other in doing homage to his great sagacity as an interpreter of the Holy Scriptures.
To my younger brethren in the ministry may I take the liberty of recommending these Commentaries as an excellent model for expounding the inspired Epistles? The frequent mention of Popery does not lessen the value of this recommendation. How far it may be necessary, at all times, to fortify our hearers against the attacks of the |man of sin,| (2 Thessalonians 2:3,) I do not now stay to inquire. But as a skillful, natural, and impressive application of divine truth to the controversies of the day, the warnings against Popery deserve careful study. They are appropriately introduced, and serve to illustrate more fully the mind of the Spirit.
In describing them as models, it may be proper to mention that they are strictly what their title bears, Commentaries, unaccompanied by those illustrations which, in public instruction, are indispensably necessary. To devout minds they will have many attractions. They are imbued with the ardent piety and that copious use of the language of Scripture by which all the writings of Calvin are so eminently distinguished.
6^th September 1854.