Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets by John Calvin Now first translated from the original Latin by the Rev. John Owen, vicar of Thrussington, Leicestershire Volume First, Hosea Wm. M. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1950, Michigan. Printed in the United States of America Table of Contents Translator's preface Postscript Portrait of Calvin The Epistle Dedicatory John Calvin to the Christian Reader, health. John Budaeus, to Christian Readers, health. John Crispin to Christian Readers, health. The Commentaries of John Calvin on the Prophet Hosea. Commentaries on the prophet Hosea Translator's preface Prejudice has often deprived many of advantages which they might have otherwise derived: and this has been much the case with respect to The Works of Calvin; they have been almost entirely neglected for a long time, owing to impressions unfavourable to the Author. In his own and the succeeding age, the authority of Calvin as a Divine, and especially as an Expounder of Scripture, was very high, and higher than that of any of the Reformers. Though an eminent writer of the present day, Dr D'Aubigne, has pronounced Melanchthon "the Theologian of the Reformation," yet there is sufficient reason to ascribe that distinction to Calvin; and to him, no doubt, it more justly belongs, than to any other of the many illustrious men whom God raised up during that memorable period. It is not difficult to account for what happened to our author. Various things combined to depreciate his repute. In this country his views on Church government created in many a prejudice against him; and then the progress of a theological system, not more contrary to what he held than to what our own Reformers maintained, increased this prejudice; and where the former ground of difference and dislike did not exist, the latter prevailed: so that, generally in our Church, and among Dissenting bodies, the revered name of Calvin has been regarded with no feelings of affection, or even of respect; no discrimination being exercised, and no distinction being made between his great excellencies as an Expounder of Scripture, and his peculiar views on Church discipline, and on the doctrine of Predestination. On the Continent other things operated against his reputation. Popery owed him a deep grudge; for no one of the Reformers probed the depths of its iniquities with so much discrimination, and with such an unsparing hand as he did. His remarkably acute mind enabled him to do this most effectually; and there is much on this subject in the present work, which renders it especially valuable at this period, when Popery makes such efforts to spread its errors and delusions. The two weapons which he commonly employed were Scripture and common sense, - weapons ever dreaded by Popery; and to blunt their edge has at all times been its attempt, the first, by vain tradition, and the other, by implicit faith, not in God, or in God's word, but in a palpably degenerated Church. But these weapons Calvin wielded with no common skill, dexterity, and power, being deeply versed in Scripture, and endued with no ordinary share of sound and penetrating judgement. In addition to this, his doctrinal views were diametrically opposed to those of Popery, and especially to the papal system, as modified by and concentrated in Jesuitism, which may be considered to be the most perfect form of Popery. For these reasons, the Writings of Calvin could not have been otherwise than extremely obnoxious to the adherents of the Church of Rome: and the consequence has been, that they spared no efforts to vilify his name, and to lessen his reputation. The first writer of eminence and acknowledged learning in this country, who has done any thing like justice to Calvin, was Bishop Horsley; and when we consider the very strong prejudice which at that time prevailed almost in all quarters against Calvin, to vindicate his character was no ordinary proof of moral courage. There were, no doubt, some points in which the two were very like. They both possessed minds of no common strength and vigour, and minds discriminating no less than vigorous. In clearness of perception, also, they had few equals; so that no one needs hardly ever read a passage in the writings of either twice over in order to understand its meaning. But probably the most striking point of likeness was their independence of mind. They thought for themselves, without being swayed by authority either ancient or modern, and acknowledged no rule and no authority in religion but that which is divine. The Bishop had more imagination, but the Pastor of Geneva had a sounder judgement. Hence the Bishop, notwithstanding his strong mind and great acuteness, was sometimes led away by what was plausible and novel; but Calvin was ever sober minded and judicious, and whatever new view he gives to a passage, it is commonly well supported, and for the most part gains at once our approbation. But something must be said of the present work. It embraces the most difficult portion, in some respects, of the old Testament, and of that portion, as acknowledged by all, the most difficult is the Book of the prophet Hosea. Probably no part of Scripture is commonly read with so little benefit as the Minor Prophets, owing, no doubt, to the obscurity in which some parts are involved. That there is much light thrown on many abstruse passages in this work, and more than by any existing comment in our language, is the full conviction of the writer. Acute, sagacious, and sometimes profound, the author is at the same time remarkably simple, plain, and lucid and ever practical and useful. The most learned may here gather instruction, and the most unlearned may understand almost every thing that is said. The whole object of the Author seems to be to explain, simplify, and illustrate the text, and he never turns aside to other matters. He is throughout an expounder, keeps strictly to his office, and gives to every part its full and legitimate meaning according to the context, to which he ever especially attends. The style of Hosea is somewhat peculiar. Jerome has long ago characterised it as being commatic, sententious; and those links, the connective particles, by which different parts are joined together, are sometimes omitted. This is, indeed, in a measure the character of the style of all the Prophets, hut more so with respect to Hosea than any other. What at the same time creates the greatest difficulty is the rapidity of his transitions, and the change of person, number, and gender. Persons are spoken to and spoken of sometimes in the same verse; and he passes from the singular to the plural number, and the reverse, and sometimes from the masculine to the feminine gender. To account for these transitions is not always easy. It has been thought by many critics, that the received Hebrew text of Hosea is in a more imperfect state than that of any other portion of Scripture; but Bishop Horsley denies this in a manner the most unhesitating; and those emendations which Archbishop Newcome introduced in his version, about 50 in number, the Bishop has swept away as unauthorised, and, indeed, as unnecessary, for most of them had been proposed to remedy the anomalies peculiar to the style of this Prophet; and some of those few emendations, which the Bishop himself introduced, founded on the authority of Mss., Calvin's exposition shows to be unnecessary. The fact is, that different readings, collected by the laborious Kennicott and others, have done chiefly this great good - to show the extraordinary correctness of our received text. Throughout this Prophet, there is hardly an instance in which the collations of Mss. have supplied an improvement, and certainly no improvement of any material consequence. This work of Calvin appears now for the first time in the English language. There is a French translation, but not made by the author himself, as in the case of some other portions of his writings, and can therefore be of no authority. The following translation has been made from an edition printed at Geneva in 1567, three years after Calvin's death, compared with another, printed also at Geneva in 1610. It has been thought advisable to adopt our common version as the text, and to put Calvin's Latin version in a parallel column. His version is a literal rendering of the original, without any regard to idiom, and to translate it has been found impracticable, at least in such a way as to be understood by common readers. His practice evidently was to translate the Hebrew word for word, and to make this his text, and then in his Comment to modify the expressions so as to reduce them into readable Latin, and his version thus modified agrees in most instances with our authorised version. The agreement is so remarkable, that the only conclusion is that this work must have been much consulted by our Translators. In making quotations from Scripture, the author seems to have followed no version, but to have made one of his own; and they are often given paraphrastically, the meaning rather than the words being regarded. The same is often done also with respect to the passages explained, the words being frequently varied. In these instances the author has been strictly followed throughout in this translation, and his quotations, and the text when paraphrased, are marked by a single inverted comma. The Hebrew words which occur in the Lectures are not accompanied with the points, and it has not been deemed necessary to add them. The words are given in corresponding English characters, with the insertion of such vowels only as are necessary to enunciate them, and these vowels, to distinguish them from the Hebrew vowels, are put in Roman characters. The Hebrew vowels are uniformly given the same, and not with that almost endless variety of sounds to which the points have reduced them. The "vau" is always represented by "u", except when in some instances it is followed by a vowel, and then by "v". The Hebrews have four vowels corresponding with a, e, u, i, and o, in English. This work is calculated to be of material help to those engaged in translations. Our Missionaries may derive from it no small assistance, as it gives as literal a version of the Hebrew as can well be made, and contains much valuable criticism, and develops, in a very lucid and satisfactory manner, the drift and meaning of many difficult passages. There is no existing commentary in which the text is so minutely examined, and so clearly explained. There are also many of the most approved expositions given by others referred to and stated; and the translator has added, on interesting and difficult passages, what has been suggested by learned critics since the time of the Author. If it be a right rule to judge of the impressions which the perusal of this volume, now presented to the public, may produce on others, by what one has himself experienced, the editor will mention one thing in particular, and that is, that he fully expects that those who will carefully read this volume will be more impressed than ever with the extreme propensity of human nature to idolatry, and with the amazing power and blinding effects of superstition. The conduct of the Israelites, notwithstanding all the means employed to restore them to the true worship of God, is here described with no ordinary minuteness and speciality. Though God sent his prophets to them to remind them of their sins, to reason and expostulate with them, to threaten and to exhort them, to draw and allure them with promises of pardon and acceptance; and though God chastised them in various ways, and then withheld his displeasure, and showed them indulgence, they yet continued obstinately attached to their idolatry and superstition, and all the while professed and boasted that they worshipped the true God, and perversely maintained that their mixed service, the worship of God, and the worship of idols, was right and lawful, and vastly superior to what the prophets recommended. Having this case of the Israelites in view, we need not be surprised at the fascinating and blinding influence of Popery, whose idolatry and superstitions are exactly of the same character with those of the Israelites; no two cases can be more alike. Their identity is especially seen in this, - that there is an union of two worships - of God and of images; and this union was the idolatry condemned in the Israelites, and is the very idolatry that now exists in the Church of Rome: and as among the Israelites, so among the Papists, though God is not excluded, but owned, yet the chief worship is given to false gods and their images. That the two systems are the same, no one can doubt, except those who are under the influence of strong delusion; and this is what is often referred to and amply proved in this work. It may be useful to subjoin here an account of the time in which the twelve Minor Prophets lived. The precise time cannot be ascertained: they flourished between the two dates which are here given. The names of the other four Prophets are also added. Before the Babylonian Captivity. before Christ. 1. Jonah 856 - 784. 2. Amos 810 - 785. 3. Hosea 810 - 725. 1. Isaiah 810 - 698. 4. Joel 810 - 660. 5. Micah 758 - 699. 6. Nahum 720 - 698. 7. Zephaniah 640 - 609. Immediately previous to and during the Captivity. 2. Jeremiah 628 - 586. 8. Habakkuk 612 - 598. 3. Daniel 606 - 534. 9. Obadiah 588 - 583. 4. Ezekiel 595 - 536. After the Captivity. 10. Haggai 520 - 518. 11. Zechariah 520 - 518. 12. Malachi 436 - 420. In the last volume, the fourth, will be given the two indices appended to the original work. Thrussington, September 1, 1846. J. O. Postscript After the preceding preface had gone through the press, it has been discovered that The Twelve Minor Prophets cannot be comprised in four volumes of the size generally published in the present Series of The Works of John Calvin. The Translation, though it be as brief and concise as the idiom of the English language will well admit, takes up more space than the editor at first anticipated. His first calculation was made from the Latin: he was not then fully aware of the great disparity in the two languages as to relative diffuseness of style. He has since found, by a minute comparison, that a work in Latin, comprised in five volumes, would require at least six of the same size and type in English: and in the present instance, what was calculated would be contained in four, must be extended to five volumes, on account of the respective Prefaces and Notes, &c. by the editor, besides the Literal Translations of each of the Books of The Twelve Minor Prophets, which it has since been resolved shall be appended to each successive commentary. The arrangement of this Work, now made with some degree of certainty, is as follows: The first volume is to contain Hosea; The second volume, Joel, Amos, and Obadiah; The third volume, Jonah, Micah, and Nahum; The fourth volume, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, and Haggai; and The fifth volume, Zechariah and Malachi; with the tables and indices to the whole work. On this account, the volumes cannot be all of equal size, some being considerably above, and some below, the average extent of the present Series of Calvin's Works, being 500 pages on the average. To avoid such inequality, it would have been needful to divide some of the Books - a thing by no means desirable in any case, and which has been studiously shunned in all the other commentaries. In addition to what was originally contemplated, there will be given at the end of each Book a continuous literal translation of Calvin's Latin version, as modified by his commentary; and the editor is requested to state that a similar plan is to be observed in all the other prophetical books of the Old Testament. Editor. Thrussington, September 1846. Portrait of Calvin Engraved in facsimile, and prefixed to the present volume. It has been deemed a matter of importance as well as curiosity to preserve, in the present series of English Translations of The Works of Calvin, facsimile engravings of all the authentic contemporaneous portraits which can still be recovered of the great Genevan Reformer. The portrait which accompanies the present volume is preserved in the curious and valuable collection of likenesses, or portraits, and characters of illustrious Reformers, published by Theodore Beza, the pupil, friend, and biographer of Calvin, under the title of "Icones", &c.; which work passed through several editions in Latin and French. The characters of the individuals represented in the wood engravings are annexed to each portrait, and are therefore necessarily drawn up with great conciseness, but with Beza's usual ability and discrimination. The facsimile in question has been taken from a very fresh impression contained in a copy of the French edition belonging to the secretary, which was formerly in the library of the Duke of Sussex. The title-page is as follows: - "Les Vrais Pourtraits des Hommes Illustres en piete et doctrine, du travail desquels Dieu s'est serui en ces derniers temps, pour remettre sus la vraye Religion en divers pays de la Chrestiente. Avec les Descriptions de leurs via & de leurs faits plus memorables. Plus qurarantequatre Emblemes Chretiens. Traduicts du latin de Theodore de Bexze. A Geneve, par Iean de Laon. M.D.LXXX." Both the Latin and French copies are dedicated to James VI. of Scotland, and have a curious early portrait of that King prefixed. The latter is addressed, "A tres-illustre Prince, Iacques Sixiesme, par la grace de Dieu serenissime Roy d'Escosse;" and closes, "De Geneve, le premier iour de Mars, l'an cI-.cI-.lxxx. De vostre serenissime & Royale Maieste le tres-humble Serviteur, Theodore de Besze." Care has been taken to have this facsimile carefully collated with an impression in another copy of the same edition, also belonging to the Secretary, which was purchased by him at the sale of the duplicates of the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh. It has been considered indispensable that all the facsimiles which accompany The Calvin Translations shall be executed with most scrupulous fidelity; and therefore no liberty is allowed the artists employed, in the way of improving the style of the original engraving, or of remedying any artistical defects; but to present an accurate and exact copy, line for line, &c., precisely as in the original. The following graphic Character of Calvin, by Beza, is annexed to the Portrait: - John Calvin, of Noyon in Picardy, The pastor of the Church of Geneva. [by Theodore Beza.] As the testimony of a son respecting his own father cannot be altogether free from suspicion, let all then know, by what thou hast done, O Calvin, that thou hast been a remarkable instrument in the hand of the Almighty and all-gracious God, who has by thy ministry completed the Restoration of true Religion, happily commenced by others some years before. For to thee this especially belongs - to thy doctrine, diligence, and ardent zeal; to which France and Scotland are indebted for the re-establishment of the kingdom of Christ among them; other Churches, scattered in great number through the whole world, acknowledge themselves to be also in this respect under great obligations to thee. Of this let these be the witnesses - first, thy writings, which shall ever live; and all men, who are learned and fear God, confess them to have been prepared with judgement so remarkable, with erudition so solid, and in a style so beautiful, that no one has been hitherto found, who has with so much skill expounded the Holy Scripture. And there is another band of witnesses - the furious matheologians, (men of science,) the sworn enemies of God's truth, who have poured the scum of their rage upon thee before and after thy death. But thou however enjoyest, near thy Master, Jesus Christ, the reward with which he recompenses thy faithful services. And ye, Churches of the Son of God, continue to peruse the works of this great Teacher; who, though he speaks no longer, has left what, in spite of envy, you may every day learn. As to you, Sophists, hateful monsters and doomed to perdition, what you do by continuing to depreciate this holy and learned Theologian, is to discover more and more your infatuation and wickedness, to the end that you may be condemned and accursed when the righteous Judge shall come to give to every one according to his works. It may be added, that Calvin, having become consumptive through excessive study and abstinence, died at Geneva in one thousand five hundred and sixty-four, on the twenty-seventh day of May, at the age of fifty-four; twenty-five of which he had been employed in the charge of a Pastor and Teacher to that Church, which had been built up and established by him with no small difficulties, and which he had happily governed in connection with other learned fellow- labourers in the ministry during that time. He was interred without any pomp, according to the express charge which he had given; and his loss was lamented as that of a father by all at Geneva, and by many of the faithful, dispersed in different parts of the world. Among others, I was one who expressed my feelings on his death in a Latin Epigram, which has been translated into French as follows: - Epigram by Beza on the death of Calvin, translated into French. [French translation omitted] [Latin original omitted] The same in English. Rome's greatest terror he, whom now being dead The best of men lament, the wicked dread: Virtue itself from him might virtue learn; - And dost thou ask why Calvin did not earn A place more splendid for his last repose, Than that small spot which does his bones inclose? But know, that modesty even from the womb Had been his guest, - and she has built his tomb. O happy clod! thy tenant, great was he; The gorgeous shrines may justly envy thee. The Epistle Dedicatory John Calvin to the most serene and most mighty King Gustavus, the king of the Goths and Vandals. What I once said most excellent king, when the Annotations on Hosea, taken from my Lectures, were published, I now again repeat, - that I was not the author of that edition: for I am one who is not easily pleased with works I finish with more labour and care. Had it been in my power, I should have rather 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. But since that specimen, (The Commentary on Hosea,) published with better success than I expected, has kindled a desire in many to see that one Prophet followed by the other eleven Minor Prophets, I thought it not unseasonable to dedicate to your Majesty a work of suitable extent, and replete with important instructions not only that it may be a pledge of my high regards, but also that the dedication to so celebrated a name might procure for it some favour. It is not, however, ambition that has led me to do this, for I have long ago learned not to court the applause of the world, and have become hardened to the ingratitude of the many; but I wished that some fruit might come to men of your station from the recesses of our mountains; and it has also been my legitimate endeavour, that many to whom I am unknown, being influenced by the sacred sanction of their king, might be made more impartial, and come better prepared to read the work. And this, I promise to myself, will be the case, as you enjoy so much veneration among all your subjects, provided you condescend to interpose your judgement, such as your singular wisdom may dictate; or, as age may possibly not bear the fatigue of reading, such as your Majesty's eldest son Heric, the heir to the throne, may suggest, whom you have taken care to be so instructed in the liberal sciences, that this office may be safely intrusted to him. And that I might have less doubt of your kindness, there are many heralds of your virtues, and even some judicious and wise men, who are entitled to be deemed competent witnesses. It is not, therefore, to be wondered, most noble king, that a present from so distant a region should be offered to your Majesty by a man as yet unknown to you, who, on account of the excellent and heroic endowments of mind and heart in which he has understood you to excel, thinks himself to be especially attached to you. But though the excellency of the Book may not, perhaps, be such as will procure much favour to myself, you will not yet despise the desire by which I have been led to manifest the high regards I entertain towards your Majesty, nor will you yet find this present now offered to you wholly unworthy, however much it may be below the elevated station of so great a king. If God has endued me with any aptness for the interpretation of Scripture, I am fully persuaded that I have faithfully and carefully endeavoured to exclude from it all barren refinements, however plausible and fitted to please the ear, and to preserve genuine simplicity, adapted solidly to edify the children of God, who, being not content with the shell, wish to penetrate to the kernel. What I have really done it is not for me to say, except that pious and learned men persuade me that I have not laboured without success. But these Commentaries may not, perhaps, answer the wishes and expectations of all; and I myself could have wished that I had been able to give something more excellent and more perfect, or at least what would have come nearer to the Prophetic Spirit. But this, I trust, will be the issue, - that experience will prove to upright and impartial readers, and those endued with sound judgement, provided they read with well-disposed minds, and not fastidiously, what I have written for their benefit, that more light has been thrown on the Twelve Prophets than modesty will allow me to affirm. With the industry of others I compare not my own, (which would be unbecoming,) nor do I ask any thing else, but that intelligent and discreet readers, profiting by my labours, should study to be of more extensive advantage to the public good of the Church; but as it has not been my care, nor even my desire, to adorn this Book with various attractives, this admonition is not unseasonable; for it may invite the more slothful to read, until, by making a trial, they may be able to judge whether it may be useful for them to proceed farther in their course of reading. Indeed, the fruit which my other attempts in the interpretation of Scripture have produced, and the hope which I entertain of the usefulness of this, please me so much, that I desire to spend the remainder of my life in this kind of labour, as far as my continued and multiplied employments will allow me. For what may be expected from a man at leisure cannot be expected from me, who, in addition to the ordinary office of a pastor, have other duties, which hardly allow me the least relaxation: I shall not, however, deem my spare time in any other way better employed. I now return again to you, most valiant king. He who knows your prudence and equity in managing public affairs, your moral habits, your whole character and virtues, will not wonder that I have resolved to dedicate to you this work. But as it is not my design to write a long eulogy on what is praiseworthy in you, I shall only briefly touch on what is well known, both by report and public writings: - God tried you in a wonderful manner before he raised you to the throne, for the purpose not only of exhibiting in you a singular proof of his providence, but also of setting forth to our age as well as to posterity, an illustrious example of a steady perseverance in a right course. You have, doubtless, been thus proved by both fortunes, that there might not be wanting a due trial of your temperance and moderation in prosperity, and of your patience in adversity, until it was given you from above to emerge at length, no less happily than in a praiseworthy manner, from so many dangers, perils, difficulties, and hindrances, that having set the kingdom in order, you might publicly and privately enjoy a cheerful tranquillity. And now by the unanimous consent of all orders, you bear a burden more splendid and honourable to you than grievous, for all venerate your authority, and show their esteem by love as well as by commendations. In addition to these benefits of God comes this, the chief, which must not be omitted, - that your eldest son, Heric, a successor chosen by you from your own blood, is not only of a generous disposition, but also adorned with mature virtues; and hardly any one more fit, had you no children, could the people have chosen for themselves. And this, among other things, is his rare commendation, that he has made so much progress in the liberal sciences, that he occupies a high station among the learned, and that he is not tired with diligent application to them, as far as he is allowed by those many cares and distractions in which the royal dignity is involved. At the same time, the principal thing with me is this, that he has consecrated in his palace a sanctuary, not only to the heathen muses, but also to celestial philosophy. The more confidence therefore I have, that some place will be there found, and some favour shown to these Commentaries, which he will find to have been written according to the rule of true religion, and will perceive calculated to be of some small help to himself. May God, O most serene king! keep your Majesty long in prosperity, and continue to enrich you with all kinds of blessings. May He guide you by his Spirit, until, having finished your course, and migrating from earth to the celestial kingdom, you may leave alive behind you the most serene king Heric, your successor, and his most illustrious brothers, John Magnum and Charles: and may the same grace of God, after your death, appear eminent in them, as well as fraternal and unanimous concord. Geneva January 26, 1559. Calvin on Hosea (continued in [prefactory part b]...) -------------------------------------------------- file: pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-04: cvhos-a.txt .