Van Mastricht, Petrus
Petrus van Mastricht’s Theoretical and Practical Theology presents one of the most comprehensive methods of treating Christian doctrine. In it, Mastricht treats every theological topic according to a four-part approach: exegetical, dogmatic, elenctic, and practical. As a body of divinity, it combines a rigorous, scholastic treatment of doctrine with the pastoral aim of preparing people to live for God through Christ. Students and pastors will find it a valuable model for moving from the text of Scripture to doctrinal formulation that will edify the people of God.
Volume 1, Prolegomena, provides an introduction to doing systematic theology. Mastricht begins by addressing the nature of theology, wherein he lays out the proper method, subject matter, and definition of theology. He then discusses Scripture as the rule of doing theology, as it is the only infallible source and foundation for knowing God. Finally, Mastricht gives his rationale for the best distribution of theological topics. This volume also includes Mastricht’s homiletical aid “The Best Method of Preaching,” as well as a biographical sketch by Adriaan Neele to help readers understand the significance of Mastricht’s life and ministry.
Volume 2, Faith in the Triune God, delivers a thorough treatment of the doctrine of God. Mastricht begins his consideration of theology proper with a substantial chapter on saving faith, reminding readers that contemplating God apart from true faith will fall short of the salvation of their soul. Mastricht then discusses the subject of God in three main divisions. First, he treats the existence of God and our knowledge of him. Second, he discusses the divine essence as it is revealed through the names and attributes of God. Third, Mastricht carefully details the Trinitarian nature of the one God who subsists in three persons.
Volume 3, The Works of God and the Fall of Man, is a book of origins—origins of the created order and of sin. Mastricht begins with a discussion of the decrees of God and how they establish His eternal purpose for everything. He then shows how the decrees are carried out in creation and in God’s continual providence. The volume concludes with Mastricht’s treatment of the apostacy of Adam from his original estate and the devastating effects of sin that followed. This is an important volume for learning how God governs all things, even the rebellious actions of those good things He created.
Author & Editors
Petrus van Mastricht (1630–1706) was a Dutch theologian who studied at Utrecht under Gisbertus Voetius and Johannes Hoornbeeck. He pastored churches in the Netherlands and taught at the universities of Duisburg and Utrecht. His Theoretical and Practical Theology was praised by many as one of the great works of systematic theology and is noted for treating Christian doctrine comprehensively from its exegetical foundations to its practical use for one’s soul.
Todd M. Rester is a historian of early modern theology and philosophy in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy, and Politics, Queen’s University Belfast. He also volunteers as the director of The Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research.
Joel R. Beeke is president and professor of systematic theology and homiletics at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, and a pastor of the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“As to the books you speak of: Mastricht is sometimes in one volume, a very large thick quarto, sometimes in two quarto volumes. I believe it could not be had new under 8 or 10 pounds. Turretin is in three volumes in quarto, and would probably be about the same price. They are both excellent. Turretin is on polemical divinity, on the 5 points & all other controversial points, and is much larger in these than Mastricht, and is better for one that desires only to be thoroughly versed in controversies. But take Mastricht for divinity in general, doctrine, practice and controversy, or as an universal system of divinity; and it is much better than Turretin or any other book in the world, excepting the Bible, in my opinion.”
—Jonathan Edwards to Joseph Bellamy, January 15, 1747
“Any serious student of Reformed theology needs to sit at the feet of Petrus van Mastricht. The challenge has been that to do so you needed to know Latin or Dutch. Thanks to the herculean efforts of the folks at the Dutch Reformed Translation Society and Reformation Heritage Books, English readers can now learn the art of ‘living for God through Christ.’”
—Stephen J. Nichols, president of Reformation Bible College and chief academic officer of Ligonier Ministries
“With each translation of the formative Reformed theologians of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries comes the possibility of our churches being renewed by forgotten treasures. This is one of those gold mines. So important is van Mastricht that even Descartes felt obliged to respond to his critiques and Jonathan Edwards drew deeply from the well of his Theoretical-Practical Theology. It is a distinct pleasure to recommend this remarkable gem.”
—Michael Horton, J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics, Westminster Seminary California
“A new appreciation has grown in our time for the great post-Reformation theologians of the Reformed tradition, and Petrus van Mastricht was a towering giant among them. Jonathan Edwards thought he was better than Francis Turretin! Mastricht’s magnum opus Theoretical-Practical Theology, however, is virtually unknown and unquoted today, accessible only to competent and determined Latinists. This translation does for Mastricht what Giger and Dennison did for Turretin—it provides a readable, critical, annotated English translation that puts Mastricht within easy reach of pastors, seminarians, and other students of theology. A sound and experiential divine, who (it may surprise you to learn) interacts with and criticizes Kabbalah and Islam as well as Descartes and Socinians, Mastricht is always concerned to show that true theology is practical and never merely notional. Truth is unto godliness.”
—Ligon Duncan, chancellor and CEO, John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary
“The very title of this work, Theoretical-Practical Theology, indicates why, three centuries ago, Petrus van Mastricht’s work appealed to Scottish ministers who studied under him or read his theology. Not least of these was his student James Hog, who would later famously republish The Marrow of Modern Divinity. In making van Mastricht’s classic available in English for a new generation of students, pastors, and scholars, the Dutch Reformed Translation Society and Reformation Heritage Books are giving a great gift to the Christian church as a whole, and to students, pastors, and scholars in particular.”
—Sinclair B. Ferguson, Chancellor’s Professor of Systematic Theology, Reformed Theological Seminary; and teaching fellow, Ligonier Ministries
“Van Mastricht is one of the greatest of the Reformed orthodox, exerting a profound influence on subsequent theologians, including Jonathan Edwards. His grasp of the tradition, his ability to interact with contemporary issues, and his careful articulation of orthodoxy exemplify the best of Protestant theology after the Reformation. Yet the lack of an English translation has meant that he has been known more by reputation than by content in the Anglophone world. Here at last is an English translation which will allow a whole new audience of pastors, theologians, and laypeople to draw once again on this profound theological source.”
—Carl R. Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies, Grove City College