Calvin’s Prayer Following His Lecture on Ezekiel 3:18-20
This coming Sunday we have the ordination/installation of office bearers at the Providence Canadian Reformed Church. I plan to preach on the well-known passage of Ezekiel 3:16-21, where the prophet is appointed a watchman over Israel. As part of my preparation, I was reading John Calvin’s commentary on these verses. He has some very good insights and application. However, what really struck me was his prayer. The material in this commentary was originally delivered in the context of weekday lectures or sermons in Geneva. Before starting, Calvin typically prayed the following:
Grant us, LORD, to meditate on the heavenly mysteries of your wisdom, with true progress in piety, to your glory, and our edification. Amen.
Then after each lecture/sermon, he would have a prayer suited to the particular verses he’d been expounding. The English translation of Thomas Myers (later republished by Baker) includes Calvin’s prayer after Ezekiel 3:18-20. Unfortunately, it leaves a bit to be desired in terms of readability. With the help of some friends who are far more proficient at Latin than I am, I hereby offer this improved translation:
O Almighty God,
You appoint the ministers of your doctrine. You raise them up, watchmen over us. You do so on the condition that they be vigilant for our safety. Therefore, grant that we also may be attentive to their instruction, and avoid that double destruction through our own fault, by error and obstinacy. But if we should happen to wander, may we at least, having been held back, come to our senses and so return into the right way, never to desert it again. May we persevere unto the end, that we may eventually enjoy that eternal blessedness which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ our Lord. Amen.