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.
“First, it is advantageous for a minister’s preparation for preaching that he tie his reflections to its few but universal precepts and by their aid discover an abundance of things to say, from which he may later select those that are most useful for the church.” (Page 4)
“III. Invention is the discovery either of the argument to be made to the people, or of a text suitable for the argument. The argument will be supplied from the condition of the church, and also from its time, place, and other things carefully noted by the one who is to speak.” (Page 5)
“Fifth, a twofold application of the explained argument: the dogmatic, which concerns the truth of the argument, and the practical, which concerns its goodness.” (Page 16)
“So Christian, revealed theology does not exclude natural theology, but includes it just as a larger quantity includes a smaller one.” (Page 77)
“We note that natural theology has four chief uses. (1) The first has to do with God, who by means of it renders the impious without excuse96 (Rom. 1:20). (2) The second has to do with the pagans and atheists, who are most powerfully refuted by it (Acts 17:24–26; Ps. 8:2–3; Matt. 6:26). (3) The third has to do with revealed theology, which, at least with regard to us, is confirmed to an amazing degree when we discover that it agrees completely with natural theology. (4) The fourth has to do with us, who root ourselves chiefly in the recognition of revealed truth, that we discern that nature itself applauds it. And this is so even in our pursuit of the good, where nature itself calls us in the same direction as revelation.” (Page 78)
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, & is much larger in these than Mastricht, & is better for one that desires only to be thoroughly versed in controversies. But take Mastricht for divinity in general, doctrine, practice & controversy, or as an universal system of divinity; & 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 (in The Works of Jonathan Edwards, vol. 16: Letters and Personal Writings)
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
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
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
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 the Logos edition, you can reap the maximum benefit from each volume in van Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology by getting easier access to the contents of this series—helping you to use these volumes more efficiently for research and sermon preparation. Every word from every book has been indexed and catalogued to help you search the entire series for a particular verse or topic, giving you instant access to cross-references. Additionally, important terms link to your other resources in your digital library, including dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, theology texts, and others. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for because in Logos, your titles will automatically integrate into custom search reports, passage guides, exegetical guides, and the other advanced features of the software. You'll have the tools you need to use your entire digital library effectively and efficiently, searching for verses, finding Scripture references and citations instantly, and performing word studies. With most Logos resources, you can take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps, providing you the most efficient and comprehensive research tools in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
Rev. Prof. Dr. Justin B. Stodghill