“[T]he chief excellency of an expounder consists in lucid brevity. And, indeed, since it is almost his only work to lay open the mind of the writer whom he undertakes to explain, the degree in which he leads away his readers from it, in that degree he goes astray from his purpose, and in a manner wanders from his own boundaries. Hence we expressed a hope, that from the number of those who strive at this day to advance the interest of theology by this kind of labour, some one would be found, who would study plainness, and endeavour to avoid the evil of tiring his readers with prolixity. I know at the same time that this view is not taken by all, and that those who judge otherwise have their reasons; but still I cannot be drawn away from the love of what is compendious.”
-John Calvin, taken from the dedication of his Commentary on Romans (http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom38.iii.html)
Now that is definitely an ear full for the modern reader. Scripture is of the utmost importance. Be clear on explaining the essentials and don’t be too wordy so as to put the hearers to sleep. I believe that is what Calvin is saying.
A clear and concise interpretation of Calvin’s comments 😉
Although modern readers may have difficulty with some of the words Calvin uses, thus making the quote not very “lucid,” the reality is that the English language has become more and more vague. I think this is because people read far less in today’s culture, and have much smaller vocabularies and therefore less words to draw upon to make their points especially clear.