Wendelin's "Christian Theology": Dedication, Part 3

To you, Illustrious and Most Noble Lord, Lords Most Gracious, I now turn myself, and briefly show why I would wish your illustrious names to be at the head of this little work.


I do not now touch upon the Illustrious splendor of Your Nobilities, which I am not ignorant is able to lend the greatest amount of light to my little work: I do not touch upon your exceptional patronage, which my labors are able to expect from Your Nobilities’ authority, piety, zeal, and knowledge of Theological matters. Which, as I esteem them highly, so I readily understand them to be common to me with many others. Therefore, to the former, and more proper, I approach.


If I might trace the first lineaments of this little work, Thou, Illustrious and Most Noble Lord, FABIANUS of CZEMA, Lord Most Gracious, didst stand forth to me as the originator, since thou didst send to me the offspring of Thy Nobility from thy Lady sister, the Illustrious and Most Noble Lord NICOLAUS, Count of Ostrorog,[1] a hopeful youth of the highest quality, to be imbued with sacred and human letters, and didst wish his talent, destined for whatever great things, to be developed with all diligence. The modesty, piety, and enormous studiousness of his most noble character certainly captivated me entirely to him: I, thinking him worthy of cultivation with all zeal and care, thoroughly searched out and employed all means of advancing his most commendable efforts. And so I have not only commended in words, and constantly inculcated the worth of divine and human literature, whereby obscure origins might be brought to light, and the heights might be more and more extolled (even if the dregs of men do not allow themselves to be persuaded of it); but I have also applied my hand to that work, with the compendia of the liberal arts and of sacred Theology elaborated, accommodated to the capacity of that most noble youth: among which things, as I said, the first lineaments of this little work occurred to me, which his mind, most ardent for heaven doctrine, drank up so easily, that I felt the effort to have been well worth it, and rejoiced in my labor. For, I think that labor to be noble and happy, that is applied to one in such a way that thence fruit might be able to redound to many: which is granted to the industrious shapers of princes and illustrious youth. For, as the Guides of public affairs, being ignorant of all literature, and strangers to the study of virtue, infuse vices into the republic, and infect the entire body of the state: so they, being properly instructed, and occupied with the study of virtue from their tender years, by their example and encouragement stir up their subjects unto the love of letters and virtue, and kindle their souls to a commendable emulation.


I was promising a Rector of this sort to the Ostrorogian Court within eight years, as often as I was contemplating with wonder the manners of the Most Noble Lord, Nicolaus, and the qualities of his nature, and was reflecting upon them within myself. But, alas, too brief was that joy to me! That great hope was too hastily cut off by the sharp sickle of death, from Thee, Most Noble Lord, and from me! That his most noble soul should not lodge in a mortal body any longer, God, that supreme moderator of human affairs, was unwilling, whether provoked by his Ostrorogian subjects, or having a greater love for his generous nature, than that He would allow it to be stained by the filth of the world, or to be involved and tormented by the common calamities of all Europe. Now, free from the nexus of the body, free from all the mockeries of fortune, and the fear of calamities and persecutions, secure and glorious in the heavens, his soul triumphs over the world, and over Satan, stirring up the world unto the destruction of the Church: even if a desire for him has been sorrowfully left to us, which the recollection of such a distinguished character, and of so many virtues, even now sharpens and increases.


Let posterity hear this from me:


In this Most Noble Count, Poland, in the display of the excellent qualities of its own fecundity, lost an illustrious specimen: The Orthodox Church among the Russians, a future eminent defender: The Ostrorogian Family, its glory and summit: The generous and noble youth, an exemplar in commendable emulation, worthy of imitation in every sort of virtue.


I have this one thing, wherewith I honor the most blessed Dead, a grateful and public declaration of their virtues and dignities. But, the bringing of the remains of that most noble mind to the tombs of his ancestors, for the dignity and splendor of that illustrious family, I vow from the heart.


Moreover, if anything should redound from this my labor to the advantage of the Church of Christ, and the illustrious Ostrorogian should reap this for himself, under whose auspices, and for whose sake, I traced the first lines, which, together with its enlargements, I now publish to the world; and, after that Illustrious Ostrorogian, as they have hitherto been profitable to many, so I desire that they might be profitable to a great many more hereafter, since the hope in one cut short is an occasion for me to serve many. But I claim these my labors for the Most Noble Lord Count, in such a way as not to withdraw them from Thine Illustrious Nobility; since it happened at his benevolent will, that from the first those things might be destined from thine illustrious Grandson, who, overtaken by death, went before the inscription; to whom better would it be due by right than to Thine illustrious Nobility?


Now unto thee, Illustrious and Most Noble Lord, ACHATIUS, Lord most gracious, my speech flows. And also there ought to be some explanation of my inscription to Thy Nobility. I do not now allege the favors, which from the illustrious House of Dohna have been advanced to me for many years now, and especially from that Noble Hero, Lord ABRAHAM (alas, too quickly removed from our affairs), heaped up to such an extent that the remains of them even now are everywhere present before me eyes, and forgetfulness is able to expunge none, while I live. I have a rationale, which has regard especially to this little work, completely singular. Thy Nobility will discover in this everywhere the clear vestiges of Theologiæ methodicæ, formerly delineated by the great Pitiscus,[2] and enlarged in some places by Scultetus[3] with the additions of controversies, so that it might so much the more fully satisfy the desire of Thy Nobility and of thy illustrious Brother Lords, Lord ABRAHAM and Lord CHRISTOPHER. Thus formerly ye occupied your youthful attentions, and with a rare example in such splendor of parentage ye gathered for us such a treasure of heavenly doctrine, with Pitiscus and Scultetus as guides; so that ye already as youths were no less able learnedly to discourse concerning Theological matters, than those that have spent an entire lifetime in this study: and not only to discourse learnedly, but also to live piously. For those seethings of the affections distract the juvenile age, are scarcely able to be restrained by the severity of the Ephors;[4] but they did not touch Your Nobilities in that age, even without Ephors. Which Sirens of vices in Gaul and Italy lure incautious and injudicious youth to the rocks of the infelicitous shipwrecks of faith and life, did not move Your Nobilities, fortified with salubrious antidote, distilled from heavenly doctrine, before ye happened upon those monsters. Would that God would grant this min to all that are brought into Gaul and Italy with such itching. Whence a great many bring nothing back to Germany except rough manners, and blemishes of body and soul.


But how those studies of piety, formerly so familiar to the childhood and youth of Your Nobilites, easily passed over into your old age recently begun, and abundantly commend themselves to all the duties of Christian Charity, no one in this our Germany, still less our Prussia, is ignorant, except perhaps that that have come to it only recently. These great goods of the soul haven not only recently arisen with you; ye have inherited them from your grandparents and great-grandparents, as indigenous to your Illustrious family; which I myself consider a greater glory to your ancestry, than the tracing of its beginning through eight hundred years. Even if this felicity also falls to the House of Dohna.


Therefore, O Most Noble Lord, since these very labors of mine are able to renew to Thy Nobility in old age the pleasant memory of the studies of youth: when both the matter and the words, whether of Pitiscus or Scultetus, they will readily recall to the mind of the reader: I was not able not to inscribe them to Thy Nobility, and, what had formerly been dedicated to the youth, to dedicate again to the old man now, after it comes forth into the public, accommodated to old age.


It remains that I humbly ask, O Illustrious and Most Noble Lords, Lords Most Gracious, that with tranquil countenance ye graciously admit these labors of mine, consecrated to the Church of Jesus Christ, and dedicated to Your Illustrious Excellencies, and that ye, thinking them worthy of your patronage and favor, commend them to all good men.


May the Keeper of Israel[5] take pity on His sorely afflicted Church, and at last rebuke the tumultuous seas,[6] and command them to remain within their bounds, which He formerly fixed,[7] so that, either in the midst of the waters, or in the safety of the ship of Christ, she might at length rest placidly and securely. May the same compassionate Jehovah look with a merciful eye upon the steadfast confessors of the Orthodox faith, already formerly driven from their seats, and by long continuance of exile stripped of all means, or grievously smitten in their seats with the dread of imminent calamities and persecutions.


Even so, come quickly, come, Lord Jesus.

AMEN.


On the Calends of November, 1633.


I am the humble admirer


Of Your Illustrious Excellencies,


MARCUS FRIEDRICH WENDELIN.

[1] Ostrorog was a center for Polish Protestantism. [2] Bartholomæus Pitiscus (1561-1613) was a German astronomer, mathematician (coining the term trigonometry), and Reformed theologian. He studied theology at Zerbst and Heidelberg. [3] Abraham Scultetus (1566-1624) was a German Reformed scholar, theologian, and historian. He served as court preacher to the Elector of the Palatinate, and also as Professor of Old Testament at the University of Heidelberg. He was chosen as a representative of the Palatinate to the Synod of Dordt. [4] An Ephor was a Spartan magistrate, exercising a supervisory power over kings. [5] See Psalm 121:4. [6] See Matthew 8:26. [7] See Job 38:8, 11; Psalm 33:7; 104:9; Proverbs 8:29.

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