Two English Translations of Calvin’s Sermons

Calvin, Jean (1509-1564)

Sermons of M. Iohn Caluin, vpon the x. Commandements of the Lawe, giuen of God by Moses, otherwise called the Decalogue. Gathered worde for worde, presently at his sermons, when hee preached on Deuteronomie, without adding vnto, or diminishing from them any thing afterward. Translated out of French into English, by I.H.

London: Thomas Dawson for George Byshop, 1581


Quarto: 2 works bound as one. I. [4], 125, [1] lvs. Collation: *4 A-Hh4 Ii2. II. [6], 203, [1] lvs. Collation: *4 **2 A4 B-Cc8 (final leaf blank)


Bound in contemporary calf boards with large blind-stamped arabesque at center, rebacked, edges worn. Very crisp, fine copies of both works. Contemporary signature “W. Stubbes.”

[Bound with:]

Diuers sermons of Master Iohn Caluin, concerning the diuinitie, humanitie, and natiuitie of our Lorde Iesus Christe: as also touching his passion, death, resurrection, ascention: togeather with the comming downe of the holy Ghoste vpon his Apostles: and the first sermon of S. Peter. The order of which you shall finde in the page ensuing.

London: Printed [by Thomas Dawson] for George Byshop, 1581

I. Calvin on the Ten Commandments:

A translation by John Harmar of “Sermons sur les dix commandements de la loy”(1555). Harmar dedicated this translation to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Calvin began this series of sermons on Friday, June 7, 1555. They belong to a larger corpus of sermons on Deuteronomy, which Calvin had initiated on March 20 earlier that year and which he would not conclude until the following summer in July 1556. This series on the Decalogue, however, dates only from June 7 to July 19, 1555.

II. Sermons on the Divinity, Humanity and Nativity of Jesus Christ:

This translation of “Plusieurs sermons touchant la divinité, humanité et nativité de nostre Seigneur Jesus Christ”(1558) was made by the Calvinist Thomas Stocker, who translated 7 other Protestant works, including 3 others by Calvin. The dedicatory epistle (May 1581) is addressed to Edward de Vere, Duke of Oxford, who had been imprisoned in the Tower by Queen Elizabeth.

Calvin the Preacher:

"Most prominent among the means Calvin used to reform the city (Geneva) was preaching. Every other week he preached every day in plain, direct, convincing fashion, without eloquence, but still irresistibly; and the life that the preacher led constituted his strongest claim to attention.”(Schaff-Herzog)

“Calvin would rather have his sermons heard no farther than his sheepfold.”

Calvin resisted having his sermons printed. As Badius [author of the epistle in the second work in this volume] wrote, while Calvin did yield to publishers’ demands on occasion “this was more by constrained and forced permission than by free will… Not that he is so irritable and difficult by nature; but it bothers him that what he preaches so simply and nakedly to accommodate the coarseness of the people, without elaborate apparatus or arrangement, should be suddenly exposed to view, as if he thought everything he said would immediately be disseminated everywhere and the world would be filled with his writings.”

I. ESTC S109598; STC (2nd ed.), 4455. II. ESTC S107259; STC (2nd ed.), 4437