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De Moor 4: Reverence in Handling the Doctrine of God

We, being about to speak concerning GOD, note beforehand:

A. That true Knowledge of God is of the greatest necessity:

α. Because of the very Nature of God and of man; for the very Nature of God is of itself most worthy both to be known, and to be desired to be known by creatures furnished with reason. The Nature of Man also, as equipped with reason, by its cognitive power ought first of itself to reach toward that which is the first and highest object of knowledge.

β. Because Faith is to be placed in God, which without Knowledge is not, nor is it able to be.

γ. Because Worship is to be offered to God: for it is perfectly obvious that God is of Himself most worthy of the highest Worship; but that it is not possible that what is not rightly known is duly worshpped: see TRIGLAND’S[1] Antapologiam, chapter IV, page 59.

B. That there is to be no inconsiderate meditation or speech concerning the Most High God, but only consideration with the greatest reverence. SENECA,[2] book VII Quæstionum Naturalum, chapter XXX, has: “Admirably well does Aristotle say, that we ought never to be more modest than when the Gods are discussed. If we enter temples sedately, if we, being about to approach for sacrifice, lower our gaze…if unto every appearance of modesty we are adjusted; how much more ought we to do this, when…we discuss the nature of the Gods, lest anything rashly, lest anything impudently either we should affirm in ignorance or lie knowingly?” PLUTARCH,[3] in Vita Numæ, opera, tome 1, page 69, Ὤετο ὁ Νουμᾶς χρῆναι τοὺς πολίτας μήτε ἀκούειν τί τῶν θείων μήτε ὁρᾷν ἐν παρέργῳ καὶ ἀμελῶς, ἀλλὰ σχολὴν ἄγοντας ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων, καὶ προσέχοντας τὴν διάνοιαν ὡς πράξει μεγίστῃ τῇ περὶ τὴν εὐσέβειαν, Numa[4] thought it fitting that citizens hear or see nothing of the divine substance perfunctorily and without care, but rather, being free from other business and applying the mind to those things that have regard to religion as to matters of the greatest moment. Those words of ORIGEN, also quoted by RUFFINUS in his Symboli Expositione,[5] opera Hieronymi, tome 4, page 101, no less confirm this, by which he also affirms that it is dangerous to speak the truths concerning God: for not only are those things dangerous that are spoken falsely of God; but also those things that are true but not opportunely set forth bring danger to the speaker.

[1] Jacobus Trigland the Elder (1583-1654) was a Dutch Reformed pastor and theologian. He was deputed by the Synod of North Holland to the Synod of Dort; he was a member of the committee appointed to draw up the Canons of Dort. In 1633, he became Professor of Theology at Leiden.

[2] Lucius Annæus Seneca (c. 4 BC-65 AD) was a Roman philosopher and dramatist.

[3] Mestrius Plutarchus (c. 46-127) was a Greek historian.

[4] Numa Pompilius is the legendary second king of Rome, successor to Romulus.

[5] Ruffinus was a fourth century churchman, a friend of Jerome turned foe, a commentator, and a monastery builder. His work in the translation of Greek patristic literature into Latin has proven to be of great importance, preserving works that would have otherwise been lost. He wrote Commentarium in symbolum apostolorum.

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