Front Page Titles (by Subject) TRANSLATOR'S PREFACE. - Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and the Ephesians
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TRANSLATOR’S PREFACE. - John Calvin, Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and the Ephesians 
Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul to the Galatians and the Ephesians, trans. from the original Latin by the Rev. William Pringle (Edinburgh: Calvin Translation Society, 1854).
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The extraordinary ability and skill displayed by Calvin, in his Commentaries on the Inspired Writings, have been set forth by almost all the Translators of this Series. I have always thought, and am happy to have the support of his latest Editor, Dr. Tholuck, that he is more successful in expounding the Epistles of Paul than in any other portion of Scripture. This might arise in part from having studied them with uncommon ardour and perseverance. The times in which he lived held out strong inducements to examine the great peculiarities of the Christian Faith. And where were these so likely to be found as in the writings of an Apostle whom the Spirit of God employed, more than all the others, in unfolding to the Church “the unsearchable riches of Christ?” (Eph. iii. 8.)
How far that success might be promoted by the resemblance of character which an able and eloquent writer1 asserts to have existed between the great Apostle and the Reformer, I leave undetermined. But the chief cause unquestionably lay in his singularly clear perception of that scheme of doctrine which Paul was honoured to declare. This enabled him to penetrate the design of the Apostle, and to follow closely the course of his argument. In discussions of the greatest intricacy he seldom loses his way. Some few windings he may mistake, and wander in partial darkness. But he quickly recovers his view of the inspired guide, walks with a firm step, and rejoices in the heavenly light which illuminates his path. “His acuteness,” says Winer, when speaking of the Commentary on the Galatians, “his acuteness in perceiving, and his clearness in expounding, the mind of the Apostle, are equally wonderful.”
The literature of the two Epistles which form the subject of the present volume is exceedingly copious, and, in some instances, forms an interesting link between Dogmatical and Exegetical Theology. Luther’s well-known work on the Galatians is of this class. Thrown into the form of a Commentary, and honestly aiming at a faithful exposition of the Epistle, it nevertheless digresses frequently into doctrinal essays or treatises, exceedingly valuable in themselves, but not fitted to throw much light on that portion of the inspired writings which it is his professed object to investigate. Yet who would wish that these digressions had been spared? What reader does not feel them to be the most fascinating passages of a work which, as Milton said of his immortal poem, “the world will not willingly let die?” Defects of exposition may sometimes disappoint the biblical critic, but are compensated by dwelling earnestly on the fundamental doctrine of justification by faith, pronounced by him to be articulum stantis vel cadentis ecclesiæ, the main point by which a Church must stand or fall. Nothing can exceed the delightful freshness of his illustrations on topics generally regarded as commonplace, or the easy, natural, and varied statements which his sanctified genius pours forth out of the fulness of a deeply Christian heart. Perhaps the noblest eulogium ever bestowed on it was by the author of the Pilgrim’s Progress. “I do prefer this book of Martin Luther upon the Galatians, (excepting the Holy Bible,) before all the books that I have ever seen, as most fit for a wounded conscience.”
Besides that intermediate class to which Luther belongs, there is a large number of paraphrasts, scholiasts, and commentators on these Epistles, for an enumeration of which it is sufficient to refer to two works that have lately appeared in our own country, and that deserve especial mention. “An Exposition of the Epistle of Paul to the Galatians,” by the Rev. Dr. Brown, is a work of deep piety, vast learning, unwearied industry, and sound judgment. The author “has endeavoured to make this exposition at once a readable book for intelligent Christians, though unacquainted with the sacred languages, and a satisfactory statement of the facts and principles on which the exegesis is based, to critical students of the New Testament.” To combine those qualities which should render the book equally attractive and useful to both classes of readers was a difficult task, and with rare success has it been accomplished.
A “Commentary on the Greek text of the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians,” by the Rev. Dr. Eadie, is more exclusively addressed to Greek scholars, and enters more elaborately into philological researches, than any other Commentary that has been recently published in the English language. It is the fruit of very extensive reading, not only in the Fathers, the Reformers, and the best known critics of modern date, but in the German annotators, whose speculations he has explored with all that attention to which their writings could lay claim, but with a wholesome dread of those neological opinions which, accompanied by the boast of high scholarship, had at one time found too much favour with their countrymen, but are rapidly, we trust, giving way to juster views of “the truth as it is in Jesus.” To this he has added the vigorous exercise of independent thought, withholding all unworthy homage to the greatest names, and sincerely labouring to discover the mind of the Holy Spirit. On many questions which he has examined, whether as regards the course of the Apostle’s argument, or the meaning of particular phrases, different minds will arrive at different conclusions; but the assistance which he has rendered to the examination of one of the inspired Epistles will be most highly valued by those for whose benefit his labours were chiefly intended.
Various authors, who cannot be named without awakening gratitude, and to whom it would be impossible to do justice in this brief sketch, have supplied the materials of valuable Notes to this volume. From their pages it would have been easy to select many a warm tribute to the Genevan Reformer, to whom they were deeply indebted, and whose writings were consulted by them with acknowledged deference. The greatest lights of our age have not superseded the labours of Calvin, and our ablest divines vie with each other in doing homage to his great sagacity as an interpreter of the Holy Scriptures.
To my younger brethren in the ministry may I take the liberty of recommending these Commentaries as an excellent model for expounding the inspired Epistles? The frequent mention of Popery does not lessen the value of this recommendation. How far it may be necessary, at all times, to fortify our hearers against the attacks of the “man of sin,” (2 Thess. ii. 3,) I do not now stay to inquire. But as a skilful, natural, and impressive application of divine truth to the controversies of the day, the warnings against Popery deserve careful study. They are appropriately introduced, and serve to illustrate more fully the mind of the Spirit.
In describing them as models, it may be proper to mention that they are strictly what their title bears, Commentaries, unaccompanied by those illustrations which, in public instruction, are indispensably necessary. To devout minds they will have many attractions. They are imbued with that ardent piety and that copious use of the language of Scripture by which all the writings of Calvin are so eminently distinguished.
Auchterarder, 6th September 1854.
[1 ]“The Paul of the Reformation. More than two hundred and fifty years have elapsed since he went to join the Apostle whom he so much resembled in the kingdom of God.”—Dr. Mason on Catholic Communion, p. 161.