Page:Commentaries on Genesis (Calvin) Vol 1.djvu/20

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TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

ignorance of the language in which the Old Testament was written. Father Simon says that he scarcely knew more of Hebrew than the letters! The charge is malicious and ill-founded. It may, however, be allowed that a critical examination of the text of Holy Scripture was not the end which Calvin proposed to himself; nor had he perhaps the materials or the time necessary for that accurate investigation of words and syllables to which the Scriptures have more recently been subjected. Still his verbal criticisms are neither few nor unimportant, though he lays comparatively little stress upon them himself.[1]

His great strength, however, is seen in the clear, comprehensive view he takes of the subject before him, in the facility with which he penetrates the meaning of his Author, in the lucid expression he gives to that meaning, in the variety of new yet solid and profitable thoughts which he frequently; elicits from what are apparently the least promising portions of the sacred text, in the admirable precision with which he unfolds every doctrine of Holy Scripture, whether veiled under figures and types, or implied in prophetical allusions, or asserted in the records of the Gospel. As his own mind was completely imbued with the whole system of divine truth, and as his capacious memory never seemed to lose anything which it had once apprehended, he was always able to present a harmonised and consistent view of truth to his readers, and to show the relative position in which any given portion of it stood to all the rest. This has given a completeness and symmetry to his Commentaries which could scarcely

  1. The reader is referred, for full information on this subject, to a small volume entitled, "The Merits of Calvin as an Interpreter of the Holy Scriptures." By Professor Tholuck of Halle. To which are added, "Opinions and Testimonies of Foreign and British Divines and Scholars as to the Importance of the Writings of John Calvin." With a Preface by the Rev. William Pringle. London, 1845.