De Moor's Preface to the Reader

Updated: Nov 6, 2019


When in the latter part of Psalm 22 the Messiah joyfully gives a presentiment of the saving and super-abounding fruit, that, by His Sponsorial Merits and vicarious Passion, the people, given to Him by the Father to be redeemed to Himself, were going to carry off, which people were to be satisfied with the delights of the house of the Lord unto eternal life;[1] the Messiah signifies that in the enjoyment of these spiritual benefits, to be communicated to a world brought unto a glory merited by Himself through sufferings, absolutely every distinction of peoples and nations is going to be removed; such that whatever families of the nations and those that were inhabiting the very ends of the earth were to be led to the gracious communion of God in Christ through the Spirit of faith and repentance, no less than those that were able to be named of Israel by right of birth;[2] indeed, with the rejection of the latter having been appointed until an especially ἱκανὸν/suitable time, the former are to be reputed as the Israel of God, verses 23-28. But also, among all these nations, whichever ones might be in view, without distinction of condition, whether more sumptuous or slight, in the world, it is prophesied that they are to be made partakers of this grace, to be bequeathed in superlative abundance, verse 29: Indeed, this is not going to be the prerogative of one age or of a brief time, but through all ages succeeding one another unto the consummation of this world the seed of the Church is going to be roused, which is going to enlist under God and Christ as King, and rejoice in the privileges of the holy city, verse 30. Now, serving the lavish grant of this blessed, elect people, in the form of means, is what is foretold in the final verse,יָ֭בֹאוּ וְיַגִּ֣ידוּ צִדְקָת֑וֹ לְעַ֥ם נ֜וֹלָ֗ד כִּ֣י עָשָֽׂה׃, they shall come, and shall declare His righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that He hath done this; with God granting that such would never be wanting to the Church, who might serve the edification of the same, and serve the promotion and consummation of its spiritual joy; but they would willingly come continually, who might persuasively invite each individual unto the saving communion of God and Christ through the preaching of faith and repentance, and might most clearly and publicly declare unto this end the Righteousness of the Lord, and all the divine Virtues at work, manifested especially in the brilliant manner of Redemption. O an especially excellent honor to miserable little men, of whose labor, with God intervening, He is pleased to make use in so great a work! in which it is certainly fitting that they carry themselves as worthy of so excellent a labor, throughout all the industry employed in the business entrusted to them. Now, the Lord stood firm to these His promises, and there have not been wanting at any time, from the first infancy of the Christian Church unto this day, those that have diligently kept watch over the establishment and extension of the same by the preaching of the heavenly Doctrine, both by mouth and by writing.[3]

Unto this honor it has also fallen to me to be called as one undeserving, καὶ τῷ ἐλαχιστοτέρῳ πάντων τῶν ἁγίων, and the least of all the saints,[4] to whom has been entrusted the assertion and vindication of sound Doctrine and Evangelical Truth under the twofold title both of Pastor of the Church and of Doctor in an Academic School. Which office, committed to me as by a living voice from the dais and throne, I make it a practice to pursue with all my might; thus I believe that there is to be no resistance at all to the peculiar impulse of delivering the same form of sound words also in writing; but that this is to be referred to the divine vocation also, by which divine Providence is wont frequently to stir internally men of our office, to fulfill parts of the imposed function in this manner also. Apart from this, that Witnesses of the Truth have existed in every age, and that the Church has always subsisted in the world by an embracing of the faith delivered to the saints,[5] we could not be very certain: by which contrary experience now, we urge in our preaching unto the celebration of the praise of the divine fidelity. Treading in the footsteps of the best Men instead of the poverty of my own talent, I have given, besides some other things, a delineation of Practical Theology in the vernacular language four years and more ago, following especially ὑποτύπωσιν, the pattern, left to us by Saint Peter in his second Epistle.[6] My spirit now compels me to impart to each one a richer testament through a description of Dogmatico-Elenctic Theology, how religiously we also on our part in the Academy of Batava in our age cleave to the Holy Doctrine formerly revealed to the Prophets and Apostles, and how, as we have received from our Predecessors of pious memory, so to deliver it undefiled again to the following age is to us the highest of obligations.

Johannes a Marck

So that I might achieve this end, I have undertaken an exposition of the Compendium Theologiæ Christianæ of JOHANNES MARCKIUS, certainly in human terms a most complete Theologian, and far below whose merits, commemorated by the eloquent tongue of the illustrious WESSELIUS in his Oratione Funebri, my meager preaching must always sink. I took up this Compendium of Theology, in preference to others, for laborious study, for various reasons. Both so that I might show a grateful spirit for the solid education that I was permitted to draw from the mouth and writings of such a Teacher; and for the singular benevolence with which he embraced me while he lived. And so that I might in some measure act answerably to the obligation, concerning which, in the few months before his death, that Man most dear to me, when I, about to perform the final year of my Academic apprenticeship in the gymnasium of Utrecht, was departing hence, said his last farewell to me; indicating that he was hoping that the labor undertaken by me might proceed, where he himself left off: only it was given to me to follow so great a Man at a distance; and to walk with him with equal steps would require a far greater abundance of acute intellect, vast erudition, disciplined judgment, memory most tenacious, and facility most prompt and incredible, than it has befallen either me or most to obtain through the benign Providence of God. Therefore, it was additionally pleasing to me to expound this Compendium of Theology, for, while he surpasses many other Erudite men in his other writings, in abridging this System this most illustrious Man would appear to have surpassed even himself: so that, according to fit and impartial arbiters and judges of these things, it most properly stands out before most other Compendia of Theology, both in its elegant order, apt brevity of words, and immense abundance of altogether solid matter. But this very thing renders a more distinct explication of this Compendium to the Youth of the Academy so much the more necessary and desirable. For verily our Author wrote in the “Preface” set before this work: A contracted style has been employed by me, not so that I might studiously conceal truths, or because I would not be able to express my thoughts more clearly in a massive volume…; but so that according to the method of a Compendium I might embrace many things in a few words, and stir up the judgment and industry of my hearers, etc. Behold, most excellent Young Men, …this is such a Compendium, that it requires indefatigable labor from you; without which ye shall not make progress by a light reading of it…. The reading ought to follow closely, with attention to the individual words, out of which ye shall not easily discover many set down to little purpose; and the reading rather repeated than excessively hurried or prolonged. Into a part of this labor, with the studious Youth committed to my care, I have desired to enter; and what things everywhere in this Compendium, whether by the brevity of the words, of which hardly a single one slips past without diminishment, or by the dense weight of infinite matters, either are or at first glance appear more obscure, I have tried to illustrate in this writing for easier understanding.

You might say that thus I cut down my own vineyards, since it appears that now nothing remains to Systematic, oral instruction, to be delivered yearly to the Youth of the Academy. But apart from the fact that only the far smallest part of those things, which I have undertaken or will undertake to have transcribed by the press, would I be able to set forth by mouth to my students in the yearly curriculum; I am not able to keep it intact, so as to prevent those, who in the course of instruction desire to compile certain notes into a record, from easily committing more errors, errors easily corrected in this manner. Furthermore, by mouth I teach my students alone, but by writing also those that either in other places are at pains in the unfolding of this System of topics, or shall hereafter advance the same labor also. It had appeared to me hardly advisable after the deliverance of my utterance to commit to others those things that, in this arrangement, I had smeared over paper: but, since we are of a brief age, and that very uncertain, I was unwilling to delay any longer from delivering my commentaries to the press to be printed: out of which, if no other use might redound, at least it might be able to be plain that I have not spent this passing period altogether idly; and the attempt to help the zeal of hearts for God and of those dedicated to the Ministry of the Church perhaps shall not be deprived of all praise.

I was unwilling to place the text of Marckius’ Compendium before my Commentary, both because thus the work would grow excessively into a great mass; of its own accord it is still sufficiently ample: and because I suppose it to be far more advantageous, and therefore also more agreeable, to the Reader, if he would place the entire Compendium of the Illustrious Author next to this Commentary, and then with one glance of the eye be able to read over the entire sentence that I explain, with the things preceding and following, even indeed the whole paragraph here and there; than if for the most part he find one or a few lines, indeed often no line, at the head of a section; hence it would be required to unfold more leaves of the book, before he would discern and understand the genuine sense of the AUTHOR.

Petrus van Mastricht

For the same reasons that moved our AUTHOR to omit subjoining Practical Uses derived from the individual Heads of Doctrine, I also have refrained from adding the same to this Commentary: to which it is added that whoever is eager to see the summary of Christian Doctrine here related solidly applied to Praxis, he may find his desire satisfied in the works of others, of which ESSENIUS[7] and VAN MASTRICHT[8] I commend before the others: but, that after the age of these and others like them the Praxis of Theology was brought unto a greater height of perfection, I have not yet been persuaded. Following the thread of the AUTHOR, Christian Doctrine itself, whether Theoretical or more Practical, I have studied to treat with such solidity that I might endeavor at the same time to furnish a guide especially for the Academic Youth to the use of the rest of the writings of the Illustrious MARCKIUS, in which he very frequently explains quite copiously those things which he touched upon with a word in this Compendium, and as a Supplement of which writings this Commentary could be considered; and to the use of many other Authors whether of the more ancient or more recent age, either whose footsteps MARCKIUS followed, or unto whom he is to be thought to have alluded, or even a fresh acquaintance with whom for the sake of the truth, whether defended or attacked, also appeared to me not at all useless, indeed even necessary. In the oft repeated praise of the Fathers of the Church, who were wont to go solemnly by this name, and in the somewhat fuller exposition of those things that the AUTHOR superficially and in haste surveyed out of the Ecclesiastical History and old Heresiology, I have labored to stir the appetite of the studious Youth for the diligent and painstaking cultivation of the study of Patristics and what is involved in searching out the varied condition of the Church, both by rehearsal debate performed in the academic stadium, and by a freer excursion into these expanses throughout all the rest of life; inasmuch as this has been treated more neglectfully by many, nevertheless it is hardly able to be said just how much it would not only be acceptable and agreeable to its cultivators, but how it would grow apt to furnish fruits, additionally solid and most abundant to those in handling Dogmatico-Elenctic Theology, but also in the undertaking of the sacred Ministry, fruits abundantly commended by others, and which the plan of the work does not bear to review here. Now, here and there, in matters regarding the History of the Church, I am wont to appeal and send to the greater Historical Work of SPANHEIM,[9] besides other labors of this most excellent Man, in which he illustrated Sacred History and Antiquities from the stock of his recondite erudition; for, as in the rest of the disciplines, so also in the History of the Church, it is very advantageous to make for oneself one System more familiar before the others: now, I know no fuller and better Compendium of Ecclesiastical History, and which has been produced with greater candor, holy love of the truth, and the polish of judgment, not to mention elegance of pen, than that of Spanheim. Indeed, with so much more willingness am I wont to praise Spanheim in many places, since I am going to pronounce my students especially blessed, if according to the measure of gifts granted to them by the Lord they propose to themselves for imitation that pair of Gravest Theologians, in which our Academy deservedly boasts, MARCKIUS, I say, and SPANHEIM, the teacher of Marckius, whom this Disciple and successor in the Profession of Ecclesiastical History, worthy of such a Teacher, in Oratione de Christianismi propagati Admirandis, calls a Man set above all praise, and altogether worthy of immortality before others, whose varied and solid erudition even late posterity will admire: VRIESIUS[10] no less truly sang this of the same Theologian,

The SPANHEMIAN hand alone is able to

demonstrate by deeds,

not that of another with words, the merit of SPANHEIM.

Indeed, of the Brethren devoted to the Augusburg Confession,[11] the Illustrious Buddeus,[12] making mention of SPANHEIM’S Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ, adds: Indeed, nothing is able to be said so illustriously concerning this Author, as far as this branch of studies is concerned, which he would not surpass in many ways. And elsewhere again: This most erudite Man with great vigor comprehended many things, being most learned in every sort of subsidiary for the perfection of a work of this sort; and he has drawn all things from authentic sources, so much so that, if thou depart from certain hypotheses, in which he serves the interests of his Church, in this regard you would appear to all to achieve a doubtful victory.

To divide my work into parts, and to publish the same individually, seemed good to me for different reasons, and especially so that I might begin to satisfy more speedily so great a desire of my students, and meet their needs. In the meantime, the entire Commentary has already been prepared for the press, and, if I observe that this first part of the same is received benevolently by the Reader, I will by no means cease enthusiastically to urge the press in promoving the rest of the work. Some Academic Disputations, previously committed to writing and aired publicly by me, which make for a further declaration of this or that systematic truth, I will add to that part of the Commentary, to which they most nearly have regard; as also one and another Oration delivered by me as the business of my office I will add to the final volume. As, indeed, day teaches day,[13] so also, with the wheel of the press rushing to thrust forth this volume, some things have occurred to me during the reading, which I have judged useful to know, to be exhibited at the end of the tome by means of Addenda,[14] which I wish to be consulted equally with the very argument of the Commentary. Also, in the use of a transcript of this work made by types I have learned that almost among ἀδύνατα, things impossible, is to be placed an edition of any book of greater mass altogether free of all typographical errors: while, although I myself have presided over the correction, and in the doing of it have applied all ἀκρίβειαν, minute care, nevertheless some have crept in, although generally of little moment, since in these either the similarity of the letters or the same pressed less clearly often beguiled the keenness of the eye: nevertheless, lest perhaps the less skillful should get stuck in these things, I wished to subjoin a small index of the same to the individual volumes. Indeed, I have already prepared indices for this part of the work, but which I believe to be better to subjoin for the whole work at the end of the last volume, lest one should deem it necessary to consult four, or perhaps even five, Indices, instead of one. So that one might also be able so much the more expeditiously to consult the places in the Ecclesiastical Fathers, unto which I sometimes appeal, behold, a syllabus of editions of these Holy Men, whose writings have frequently appeared, of which I am wont to make use, and to cite everywhere:

Magna Bibliotheca Patrum. Paris: 1644, seventeen tomes.[15]

Concilia Generalia Binii, four tomes, nine volumes. Cologne: 1618.[16]

Patres Apostolici Cotelerii, two volumes. Antwerp: 1698.[17]

IGNATIUS’ Epistolæ Pearsoni et Smithi. Oxford: 1709, in 4º.[18]

JUSTIN MARTYR’S Opera, cum annexis. Paris: 1615.[19]

IRENÆUS’ Contra Hæreses Massueti. Paris: 1710.[20]

CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA’S Opera. Paris: 1641.[21]

ORIGEN’S Opera de la Rue. Paris: 1733 and following, four volumes.[22]

ORIGEN’S libri VIII contra Celsum, etc., Gulielmi Spenceri. Cambridge: 1677, in quarto.[23]

HIPPOLYTUS’ Opera Fabricii. Hamburg: 1716.[24]

ATHANASIUS’ Opera, two tomes. Cologne: 1686.[25]

BASIL the GREAT’S Opera, three tomes. Paris: 1638.[26]

GREGORY Nazianzen’s Opera Billii, two tomes. Cologne: 1690.[27]

GREGORY Nyssen’s Opera, three tomes. Paris: 1638.[28]

CYRIL of Jerusalem’s Opera of Thomas Milles. Oxford: 1703.[29]

EPIPHANIUS’ Opera, two tomes. Cologne: 1682.[30]

CHRYSOSTOM’S Opera Bernardini de Montfaucon, 13 tomes. Paris: 1718-1738.[31]

DIONYSIUS the Areopagite’s Opera Corderii, 2 volumes. Antwerp: 1634.[32]

EUSEBIUS’ and others’ Historia Ecclesiastica Valesii, 3 volumes. Mainz: 1672 and following.[33]

EUSEBIUS’ Præparatio et Demonstratio Euangelica. Cologne: 1688, 2 volumes.

AMPHILOCHIUS’ and others’ Opera Combefisii. Paris: 1644.[34]

CYRIL of Alexandria’s Opera Auberti, six tomes, seven volumes. Paris: 1638.[35]

THEODORET’S Opera Sirmondi, four tomes: Paris: 1644; 5 tomes Garinerii: Paris: 1684.[36]

PHOTIUS’ Bibliotheca. Rouen: 1653.[37]

PHOTIUS’ Epistolæ. London: 1651.

JOHN OF DAMASCUS’ Opera. Basle: 1575.[38]

ŒCUMENIUS and ARETHAS in Novum Testamentum. Verona: 1532.[39]

TERTULLIAN’S Opera Rigaltii. Paris: 1664.[40]

CYPRIAN’S Opera Felli. Amsterdam: 1700.[41]

MINUCIUS FELIX Ouzelii. Leiden: 1652, in 4º.[42]

ARNOBIUS’ Adversus Gentes Elmenhorstii. Leiden: 1651, in 4º.[43]

LACTANTIUS’ Opera Thysii. Leiden: 1652, in 8º.[44]

LACTANTIUS’ de Mortibus Persecutorum Pauli Bauldri. Utrecht: 1693, in 8º.[45]

HILARY’S Opera studio Benedictinorum. Paris: 1693.[46]

PRUDENTIUS’ Opera Weitzii. Hannover: 1613, in 8º.[47]

PHILASTRIUS’ de Hæresibus Fabricii. Hamburg: 1721, in 8º.[48]

OPTATUS of Milevis’ de Schismate Donatistarum, Louis Ellies du Pin. Antwerp: 1702.[49]

AMBROSE’S Opera, five tomes, 2 volumes. Paris: 1642.[50]

JEROME’S Opera Erasmi, nine tomes, 4 volumes. Basil: 1537.[51]

AUGUSTINE’S Opera studio Benedictinorum, twelve tomes. Antwerp: 1700-1703.[52]

GREGORY THE GREAT’S Opera, six tomes, 2 volumes. Paris: 1619.[53]

BERNARD’S Opera. Antwerp: 1609.[54]

Furthermore, although in this work I have not wished to offend or provoke to jealousy anyone, at the same time I am wont to speak frankly my opinion, often testifying agreement and remembering them with praise in one place, from whom elsewhere I by no means conceal that I dissent; sometimes even, although quite rarely, from the Most Celebrated AUTHOR, without violation of my respect, which I owe and shall ever have for him. Indeed, attached to no parties, I desire to satisfy the truth alone, and to be serviceable in the declaration, confirmation, and modest defense of the same, by the leading of the Spirit of Truth; so that in this manner the Name of the God of Truth, through the propagation of the Kingdom of Truth, might be glorified more and more, whose glory I am certainly eager always to set before myself as the chief End of all labors, and to whom alone I commit all the success of this work in fervent prayers. Reader, Farewell, and make use of my labor for thine edification in the Lord, if it please Him. Given at Lugduno-Batava on the fifth of August, 1761.

[1] See Psalm 36:8; 65:4.

[2] See Psalm 87.

[3] See also Ephesians 4:11-13.