Page:Commentaries on Genesis (Calvin) Vol 1.djvu/21

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xi
TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE.

have been looked for; as they were not composed in the order in which the Sacred Books stand in the Volume of Inspiration, nor perhaps in any order of which a clear account can now be given. He probably did not, at first, design to expound more than a single Book; and was led onward by the course which his Expository Lectures in public took, to write first on one and then on another, till at length he traversed nearly the whole field of revealed truth.

That, in proceeding with such want of method, his work, instead of degenerating into a congeries of lax and unconnected observations constantly reiterated, should have maintained, to a great degree, the consistency of a regular and consecutive Commentary, is mainly to be imputed to the gigantic intellectual power by which he was distinguished. Through the whole of his writings, this power is everywhere visible, always in action, ingrafting upon every passing incident some forcible remark, which the reader no sooner sees than he wonders that it had not occurred to his own mind. A work so rich in thought is calculated to call into vigorous exercise the intellect of the reader; and, what is the best and highest use of reading, to compel him to think for himself. It is like seed-corn, the parent of the harvest.

It has been objected against Calvin by Bishop Horsley,—no mean authority in Biblical criticism,—that "by his want of taste, and by the poverty of his imagination, he was a most wretched Expositor of the Prophecies,—just as he would have been a wretched expositor of any secular poet."[1]

  1. See Horsley's Sermons, vol. i. p. 72.

    In opposition to this testimony, it may be well to refer to that of Father Simon, a Roman Catholic, who says, "Calvinus sublimi ingenio pollebat," Calvin possessed a sublime genius; and of Scaliger, who exclaims, "O quam Calvinus bene assequitur mentem prophetarum!—nemo melius," Oh! how well has Calvin reached the meaning of the prophets—no one better.