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Sermons upon the Epistle of Saint Paul to the Ephesians 4:29-30 – John Calvin
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John Calvin – (1509-1564) French reformer and theologian
While many of Calvin’s sermons are now lost after they were sold by weight by the library of Geneva, his sermons on Ephesians have been preserved, having been translated into Early Modern English by Arthur Golding (who also translated Calvin’s sermons on Galatians, Job and Deuteronomy). Arthur Golding’s claim to fame is that his translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses influenced Shakespeare.
A comparison with Calvin’s commentary on the same letter shows that Calvin saw preaching as no mere explanation of the text – the sermons work consecutively through the text but circle round on the point many time with brief illustration and continuous application to the hearers. The sermons on Ephesians were preached in French on Sundays morning and evening in Geneva in 1558 and were taken down in shorthand by Denis Raguenier, who had started taking his own notes on Calvin’s sermons and was eventually employed to perform the task and did so until his death. Calvin preached without notes.
Calvin’s aim was always to bring about faith in his hearers by which he means them comprehending their own helplessness and the kindness of God in Jesus Christ. An example of this from sermon 14 illustrates Calvin’s goal and style:
Thus ye see that the thing which we have to do continually, is too show that God hath been so kind unto us, as too be at one with us in the person of his Son, yea and to receive us to himself, that we might be washed and scoured from all our filthiness, and be accepted for righteous before him. Lo! how wretched souls are unbound. Lo! how poor captives are let out of prison. Lo! how they that erst were plunged in darkness of death are brought out again to the light of life.