Calvin On the Psalms

Calvin is most often dismissed by such as have read not one sentence of his writings, and solely on the basis of their fatuous prejudices. Since I have been known to mercilessly crush such detestable types under the full weight of my unrestrained fury, I would be distraught if any of you, my gentle snowflakes, should be found among their numbers.1 Because of this, I have decided to share with you a choice selection from Calvin’s preface to his Commentary on the Psalms, a jewel of keen insight and good sense, hoping that you will find it to be both challenging and enjoyableand that it will whet your appetite for more!

I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated. The other parts of Scripture contain the commandments which God enjoined his servants to announce to us. But here the prophets themselves, seeing they are exhibited to us as speaking to God, and laying open all their inmost thoughts and affections, call, or rather draw, each of us to the examination of himself in particulars in order that none of the many infirmities to which we are subject, and of the many vices with which we abound, may remain concealed. It is certainly a rare and singular advantage, when all lurking places are discovered, and the heart is brought into the light, purged from that most baneful infection, hypocrisy. In short, as calling upon God is one of the principal means of securing our safety, and as a better and more unerring rule for guiding us in this exercise cannot be found elsewhere than in The Psalms, it follows, that in proportion to the proficiency which a man shall have attained in understanding them, nill be his knowledge of the most important part of celestial doctrine. Genuine and earnest prayer proceeds first from a sense of our need, and next, from faith in the promises of God. It is by perusing these inspired compositions, that men will be most effectually awakened to a sense of their maladies, and, at the same time, instructed in seeking remedies for their cure.

1This means that I won’t find your cute little “Protestant Deformation” zinger very funny at all, but rather wholly tedious and galling.

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