DUKE OF WIRTEMBERG, EARL OF MONTEBELIARD, ETC.
Though personally unknown to you, most illustrious Prince, I venture unhesitatingly to dedicate to you one of my productions. It may be thought that so bold a step will be censured by some persons as rash, and therefore demands an apology. Nothing is more easy. A few words shall suffice. My motives to address you are chiefly two.
You have hitherto, indeed, pursued the right course with great spirit and energy. Yet I thought that it might not be altogether unnecessary to excite you, by a direct appeal, to the perusal of a work not a little fitted to strengthen your resolutions. One advantage you possess, in the kind providence of God, above most princes of the present day. Having enjoyed an early and liberal education in the Latin language, you are enabled to employ your leisure in reading profitable and religious books. If ever there was a time when the consolations derived from religious instruction were necessary, what other resource is left to the most heroic minds by the present distress of the Church, and by greater and heavier distresses which appear to be approaching? Whoever, therefore, wishes to remain unmoved to the last, let him rely entirely on this support; whoever desires to have a sure protection, let him learn to betake himself to this refuge. Besides, in these four Epistles, of which I now present to you my Expositions, you will find, noble Prince, many subjects of consolation exceedingly adapted to the present times; but to which I do not now more particularly refer, because they will occur to yourself with much better effect in their own places.
I come now to my second reason for dedicating to you this work. During the present confusion of affairs, while some are shaken, and others are entirely thrown down, you have preserved an astonishing composure and moderation, accompanied by a remarkable steadfastness, amidst all the storms which have arisen. I consider, therefore, that it is highly advantageous to the whole Church, to hold out in you, as in a bright mirror, an example which all may imitate. For, while the Son of God enjoins on all his followers, without exception, that they shall choose rather to fight under the banner of his cross than to triumph with the world, yet very few are found who are ready to engage in that kind of warfare. It is the more necessary that all should be stimulated and taught, by such uncommon examples as yours, to correct their effeminacy.
Of my Commentaries I shall only say, that they perhaps contain more than it would become me to acknowledge. On this point, however, I wish you to read and judge for yourself. Farewell, most illustrious Prince. May the Lord Jesus long preserve you for himself and his Church, and guide you by His Spirit!
1st February 1548.