A Selection from
              Calvin's Commentaries on the Minor Prophets
                             with Prayers




     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

     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

     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


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
     "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
     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

                 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.

     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."


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