TO THE CHRISTIAN READER, HEALTH
Since I can truly and justly say. and prove by competent witnesses, that the writings, which I have hitherto sent forth to the public, and which might have been finished with more care and attention, have been almost extorted from me by importunity, it is evident that these Annotations, which I thought might bear a hearing, but were unworthy of being read, would have never through me been brought forth to the light. For if, by many watchings, I can hardly succeed in rendering even a small benefit to the Church by my meditations, how foolish were it in me to claim a place for my sermons among the works which are published? Besides, if, with regard to those compositions which I write or dictate privately at home, when there is more leisure for meditation, and when a finished brevity is attained by care and diligence, my industry is yet made a crime by the malignant and the envious, how can I escape the charge of presumption, if I now force upon the whole world the reading of those thoughts which I freely poured forth for the present edification of my hearers? But since to suppress them was not in my power, and their publication could not be otherwise prevented by me than by undertaking the labor (which my circumstances allowed not) of writing the whole anew, and many friends, thinking me to be too scrupulous a judge of my own labors, cried out, that I was doing an injury to the Church, I chose to allow this volume, as it is, taken from my lips, to go forth to the public, rather than by prohibition to impose on myself the necessity of writing; which I was forced to do as to The Psalms, before I found out, by that long and difficult work, how unequal I am to so much writing. 1
Let, then, these explanations on Hosea go forth, which it is not in my power to keep from the public. But how they have been taken down, it is needful to declare, not only that the diligence, industry, and skill of those who have performed this labor for the Church, may not be deprived of their commendation, but also that readers may be fully persuaded, that there are here no additions, and that the writers did not allow themselves to change a single word for a better one. How they assisted one another, one of their number, my best friend, and through his virtues, dear to all good men, Mr. John Budaeus, will, as I expect, more fully explain.
But it would have been incredible to me, had I not clearly seen, when the day after they read the whole to me, that what they had written differed nothing from my discourse. It would have perhaps been better had more liberty been taken to cut off redundancies, to bring the arrangement into better order, and to use, in some instances, more distinct or graceful language: but I do not interpose my judgment; this only I wish to witness with my own hand, That they have taken down what they have heard from my lips with so much fidelity, that I perceive no change. Farewell, Christian reader, whoever thou be, who desirest with me to make progress in celestial truth.
Geneva, February 13, 1557.
1 He was at this time engaged in writing his Comments on The Psalms; and they were published the following July. -- Ed.