=========================================== A Selection from Calvin's Commentaries on the Minor Prophets with Prayers =========================================== Contents Partnumber Introduction 1. The Solitary Lamb Hos.4:16 1 2. A Sovereign Word Hos.5:1 1 3. Kindness and Faith Hos.6:6 1 4. Sin and Punishment Hos.9:9 1 5. The Divinity of Christ Hos.12:4,51 6. A Gracious Reminder Hos.13:5 1 7. The True King Hos.13:10 1 8. A Kind Invitation Hos.14:1 1 9. Worship and Joy Joel 1:16 1 10. Sounding the Alarm Joel 2:1 2 11. The Outpouring of the Spirit Joel 2:28 2 12. An admonition Joel 2:30,31 2 13. Calling on the Lord Joel 2:32 2 14. A Blessed Experience Joel 3:17 2 15. The Law of Worship Amos 4:5 2 16. A Solemn Exhortation Amos 4:12 2 17. Headman and Prophet Amos 7:14 2 18. The Power of God Amos 9:6 2 19. Wisdom Destroyed Obad.:8 3 20. A Fearless Preacher Jon.3:4 3 21. The Mercy of God Jon.4:10,11 3 22. A Prophet's Lamentation Mic.1:9 3 23. Strenghtened by the Spirit Mic.3:8 3 24. A Fellowship of Nations Mic.4:2 3 25. The Constancy of Faith Mic.4:5 3 26. God's Requirements Mic.6:8 3 27. A Prayer for God's Heritage Mic.7:14 3 28. Nineveh's Fall Nah.2:8 4 29. The Watch Tower Hab.2:1 4 30. Punishment for Avarice Hab.2:6 4 31. Chariots of Salvation Hab.3:8 4 32. Rejoicing in the Lord Hab.3:17,18 4 33. Pride and Destruction Zep.2:15 4 34. Pure Lips Zep.3:9 4 35. Uses of Affliction Zep.3:12 4 36. A Mirror for Ingratitude Hagg.1:2 4 37. A Glorious Temple Hagg.2:8 5 38. Abundant Blessing Hagg.2:18,19 5 39. Horns and Carpenters Zech.1:18-21 5 40. The True Priest Zech.3:1 5 41. The Day of Small Things Zech.4:10 5 42. The Providence of God Zech.6:8 5 43. Brotherly Kindness Zech.7:9 5 44. Deliverance by Covenant Zech.9:11 5 45. An Abundant Blessing Zech.9:17 5 46. Promise of Restoration Zech.10:6 6 47. Beauty and Bands Zech.11:7 6 48. True Repentance Zech.12:106 49. Impure Worship Banished Zech.13:2 6 50. Saved by Grace Mal.1:2 6 51. The Calling of the Gentiles Mal.1:11 6 52. Christ's Forerunner Mal.4:5 6 Introduction JOHN CALVIN was a man of God. He has been justly admired as the theologian of the Reformation; as the prince of commentators upon Holy Scripture, and the father of its scientific exegesis, and as the virtual founder of American common schools. He was also great in prayer. The system of Christian doctrine which bears his name has ever been the mother of devotion. It may be known by its fruits; for it has trained a noble army of martyrs, reformers, missionaries, and evangelists. It has inspired countless revivals of religion. It lives in all the popular hymnals of Christendom. Prayer is the "vital breath," the "native air" of Calvinism. The prayers of John Calvin, however, have received little attention, as compared with the fame which crowns his theological writings. His commentaries upon Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and the minor prophets were originally delivered in the form of lectures, each followed by appropriate petitions. Both lectures and prayers were extemporaneous. In his epistle dedicatory, prefaced to the commentary upon the minor prophets, and addressed to the King of Sweden, Calvin says: "Had it been in my power I would rather have tried to prevent the wider circulation of that extemporaneous kind of teaching, intended for the particular benefit of my auditory, and with which benefit I was abundantly satisfied." John Budaeus, in another preface, piously exhorts that we pray for the Spirit of God, that we may come to the reading of Scripture instructed by him. "And for this end," he says, "much help may be given us by the short prayers which we have taken care to add at the close of every lecture as gathered by us with the same care and fidelity as the lectures were; and the ignorant may also have in these a pattern, as it were, painted before them, by which they may form their prayers from the words of Scripture. For as at the beginning of the lectures he ever used the same form of prayer, so he was wont ever to finish every lecture by a new prayer formed at the time, as given him by the Spirit of God, and accommodated to the subject of the lecture." The following passage from Calvin's commentary on Genesis shows how his oratory rises sometimes to the sublime: "It is vain for any to reason as philosophers on the workmanship of the world, except those who having been first humbled by the preaching of the gospel have learned to submit the whole of their intellectual wisdom (as Paul expresses it) to the foolishness of the cross. Nothing shall we find, I say, above or below, which can raise us up to God, until Christ shall have instructed us in his own school. Yet this cannot be done unless we, having emerged out of the lowest depths, are borne up above all heavens in the chariot of his cross, that there by faith we may apprehend those things which the eye has never seen, the ear never heard, and which far surpass our hearts and minds. There the invisible kingdom of Christ fills all things, and his spiritual grace is diffused through all. Yet this does not prevent us from applying our senses to the consideration of heaven and earth, that we may thence seek confirmation in the true knowledge of God. For Christ is that image in which God presents to our view not only his heart, but also his hands and his feet. I give the name of his heart to that secret love with which he embraces us in Christ, by his hands and feet I understand those works of his which are displayed before our eyes." His translator notes here that Calvin shows an intimate experimental acquaintance with the declaration of the apostle, "And made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Eph. 2: 6. Calvin's correspondence indicates how earnestly he watched and prayed for the salvation of our English and Scottish forefathers. To his ardent disciple John Knox he writes: "It was a source of pleasure, not to me only, but to all the pious persons to whom I communicated the agreeable tidings, to hear of the very great success which has crowned your labours. But as we are astonished at such incredible progress in so brief a space of time, so we likewise give thanks to God whose extraordinary blessing is signally displayed herein." In his suggestions to the Protector Somerset, he remarks: "Monseigneur, it appears to me that there is very little preaching of a lively kind in the kingdom, but that the greater part deliver it by way of reading from a written discourse. Now this preaching ought not to be lifeless, but lively, to teach, to exhort, to reprove, as St. Paul says in speaking to Timothy (II Tim. 4: 2). So indeed, that if an unbeliever enter, he may be so effectually arrested and convinced as to give glory to God, as Paul says in another passage (I Cor. 14). You are also aware, Monseigneur, how he speaks of the lively power and energy with which they ought to speak, who would approve themselves as good and faithful ministers of God, who must not make a parade of rhetoric, only to gain esteem for themselves, but that the Spirit of God ought to sound forth by their voice, so as to work with mighty energy." His letter to the boy-king, Edward the Sixth, deserves undying remembrance: "It is indeed a great thing to be a king, and yet more over such a country, nevertheless, I have no doubt that you reckon it beyond comparison better to be a Christian. It is therefore an invaluable privilege that God has vouchsafed you, sire, to be a Christian king, to serve as his lieutenant in ordering and maintaining the kingdom of Jesus Christ in England." Lady Anne Seymour, daughter of the Protector Somerset, receives this message from him: "Certainly among so many gifts with which God has endowed and adorned you, this stands unquestionably first - that he stretched out his hand to you in tender childhood to lead you to his own Son, who is the author of eternal salvation, and the fountain of all good." Cranmer was one of his correspondents and co-laborers. He submitted to Calvin a proposal for a General Synod for the more close union of the Reformed churches. Calvin thus communicates his approval: "So much does this concern me that could I be of any service I would not grudge to cross even ten seas if need were on account of it." In another letter he says: "I highly commend the plan which your reverend sir, have adopted to make the English frame for themselves, without delay, a religious constitution, lest by matters remaining longer in an unsettled state, or not being sufficiently digested, the minds of the common people should be confirmed in suspense." He wrote to Farel: "The Archbishop of Canterbury informed me that I could do nothing more useful than to write to the King more frequently. This gave me more pleasure than if I had come to the possession of a great sum of money." When English exiles were scattered over the continent by Queen Mary's persecution Calvin's pen was exercised in their behalf. He welcomed them to the hospitality of Geneva, and thus revealed his sympathy: "We have good reason to feel anxiety - yea even torment - regarding that nation [England]. Scarcely has any other thing so distressed me as this English affair.' Upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth, Calvin dedicated to her a new edition of his commentary on Isaiah, in which he grandly pleads for the gospel: "It is not so much my object to be favoured with your countenance in my personal labours as humbly to entreat, and by the sacred name of Christ to implore, not only that through your kindness all orthodox books may again be welcomed and freely circulated in England, but that your chief care may be directed to promote religion, which has fallen into shameful neglect. And if this is justly demanded from all kings of the earth by the only begotten Son of God, by a still more sacred tie does he hold you bound, most noble Queen, to perform this duty, for when even you, though a King's daughter, were not exempted from that dreadful storm which fell with severity on the heads of all the godly, by the wonderful manner in which he brought you out safe, though not unmoved by the fear of danger, he has laid you under obligation to devote yourself and all your exertions to his service. So far are you from having any reason to be ashamed of this deliverance that God has given you large and abundant grounds of boasting by conforming you to the image of his Son, on whom the prophet Isaiah bestows this among other commendations, that from prison and from judgment he was raised to the loftiest height of heavenly dominion." The desire of this great reformer is thus expressed to Bucer: "I pray that the English may make a stand for the genuine purity of Christianity, until everything in that country is seen to be regulated according to the rule which Christ himself has laid down." The prayer of Calvin has been wonderfully answered. England was the bulwark of the Reformation. By the defeat of the Spanish Armada she became mistress of the seas. The sea power of the world then passed from Catholic to Protestant hands, which have firmly held it ever since. The English Puritan movement was Calvinistic to the core. As a result, the Westminster standards, the most complete of Calvinistic creeds, were formulated by the first among Protestant councils, and adopted by the British Parliament. Green says: "The whole history of English progress since the Restoration, on its moral and spiritual sides, has been the history of puritanism." The majority of Calvinists now speak the English language. Dr. Chaff says: "His religious influence upon the Anglo-Saxon race in both continents is greater them that of any native Englishman, and continues to this day." He quotes Baroness Bunsen's eulogy: "The merit of Calvin is his own, and he has been the creative instrument of the strength of England, of Scotland, of the United States of America." The Calvin Translation Society has enriched English literature by the publication of a large part of his works in fifty-two noble volumes. Their translation has been revised for this brief compilation, which has been drawn entirely from the commentaries on the minor prophets. The hundreds of lectures and prayers found in his other writings are equally edifying, and deserve a worldwide circulation. In conclusion, an exhortation taken from a quaint English translation of Calvin's homilies on Deuteronomy, and similar to many others which occur at the end of his sermons, is appropriate for the devout reader of the sentence prayers which follow: "Now let us kneel down in the presence of our good God, with acknowledgment of our faults, praying him to make us feel them more and more, that we may run wholly unto him, and that forasmuch as we have not now a Moses to lead us into the land of Canaan, but Jesus Christ, which is come down unto us to draw us up into heaven after him, we may follow such a guide, yielding ourselves wholly unto him, and in no wise dragging back from him, that it may please him to grant this grace, not only to us, but also to all people and nations of the earth." The prayer which Calvin was wont to use at the beginning of his lectures: "May the Lord grant that we may engage in contemplating the mysteries of his heavenly wisdom with really increasing devotion, to his glory and to our edification. Amen." The Solitary Lamb For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place. (Hos.4:16) IT is what is peculiar to sheep, we know, that they continue under the shepherd's care: and a sheep, when driven into solitude, shows itself by its bleating to be timid, and to be as it were seeking its shepherd and its flock. In short, a sheep is not a solitary animal; and it is to sheep and lambs almost a part of their food to feed together, and also under the eye of him under whose care they are. Now there seems to be here a most striking change of figure: They are, says the prophet, like untamable heifers, for they are so wanton that no field can satisfy their wantonness, as when a heifer would occupy the whole land. "Such then," he says, "and so outrageous is the disobedience of this people that they can no longer endure, except a spacious place be given to each of them. I will therefore give them a spacious place: but for this end, that each of them may be like a lamb, who looks around and sees no flock to which it may join itself." Prayer GRANT, Almighty God, that since thou hast deigned in thy mercy to gather us to thy Church, and to enclose us within the boundaries of thy word, by which thou preserveth us in the true and right worship of thy majesty, O grant that we may continue contented in this obedience to thee; and though Satan may, in many ways, attempt to draw us here and there, and we be also ourselves by nature inclined to evil, O grant, that being confirmed in faith and united to thee by that sacred bond, we may yet constantly abide under the restraint of thy word, and thus cleave to Christ thine only begotten Son who has joined us forever to himself, and that we may never by any means turn aside from thee, but be, on the contrary, confirmed in the faith of his gospel, until at length he will receive us all into his kingdom. Amen. (continued in part 2...) ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-01: calmp-01.txt .