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Introductory Note



It gives me the greatest pleasure to respond to the request of my friend, the Rev. J. Hendrik de Vries, — to whom a debt of gratitude is due from us all for putting into English a section of this valuable treatise, — that I should in a few words introduce its author to his American audience. It is not often that an opportunity falls to one to make known a thinker of Dr. Kuyper's quality to a new circle of readers; and I count it a high honor to have been given this privilege. For many years now Dr. Kuyper has exercised a very remarkable influence in his own country. As leader and organizer of the Anti-revolutionary narty, and chief editor of its organ, De Standaard, a newspaper which, we are told by good authority, occupies not only "a place of honor, but the place of honor among Dutch dailies ";i as founder, defender, and developer of the Free University of Amsterdam, through which the people of the Netherlands are receiving an object lesson of the possibility and quality of higher education conducted on Christum and Reformed foundations, free from interference from the State; as consistent advocate in the Church of freedom of conscience, confessional rights, and the principles of that Reformed religion to which the Dutch people owe all that has made them great, and strenuous promoter of the great end of bringing all who love those principles together into one powerful communion, free to confess and live the religion of their hearts; as a religious teacher whose instructions in his weekly journal, De Heraut, are the food of hundreds of hungry souls, whose prelections in the Free University are building up a race of theologians imbued with the historical no less than the systematic spirit, and to whose writings men of all parties look for light and inspiration; in fine, as a force in Church and State in whose arm those who share his fundamental principles trust with a well-founded hope of victory, Dr. Kuyper is probably to-day the most considerable figure in both political and ecclesiastical Holland.

i Jhr. Mr. A. F. de Savornin Lohman in De Nederlander of April 1, 1897 (as extracted in the Qedenkboek, published in commemoration of the completion of the first twenty-five years of service by Dr. Kuyper as chief-editor of Dt Standaard, Amsterdam, 1897, p. 89).

As long as thirteen years ago Dr. Johannes Gloel, looking in upon the Church life of Holland from without, thought it not too much to say that Dr. Kuyper's was the best known name in the land;l and though in the interval friends have been lost, yet doubtless also friends have been made, and assuredly the sharp conflicts which have marked these years have not lessened the conspicuousness of the central figure in them all. It is certainly high time that we should make the acquaintance of such a man in America. The present volume will, naturally, reveal him to us on one side only of his multiform activity. It is a fragment of his scientific theological work which it gives us; indeed, to speak literally, it is only a fragment of one of his theological works, though possibly thus far his most considerable contribution to theological science. But the reader will not fail to perceive, even in this fragment, evidence of those qualities which have made its author the leader of men which he is, — the depth of his insight, the breadth of his outlook, the thoroughness of his method, the comprehensiveness of his survey, the intensity of his conviction, the eloquence of his language, the directness of his style, the pith and wealth of his illustrations, the force, completeness, winningness of his presentation.

For anything like a complete estimate of Dr. Kuyper's powers and performance there would be needed a tolerably thorough acquaintance with the whole political and religious life of Holland during the last third of the nineteenth century. It would even be something of a task to undertake a study of his mind and work in his literary product, which has grown to a very considerable voluminousness, and touches upon nearly the whole circle of civil and ecclesiastical interests of the present-day Netherlands.

i Hollands kirchliches Leben, WUrtemberg, 1885.

All that exists is a rather superficial and not very correct sketch of his life and opinions from the pen of Jhr. Mr. Witsius H. de Savornin Lohman.i It was written, unhappily, nearly ten years ago, and Dr. Kuyper has not ceased to live and move in the meanwhile; and its greater part is devoted, naturally, to an account of Dr. Kuyper's political program as leader of the Anti-revolutionary party. It may be supplemented, however, from the theological side from the sympathetic and very informing account to be found in Dr. Hermann Bavinck's paper on Recent Dogmatic Thought in the Netherlands, which appeared a few years ago in the pages of The Presbyterian and Reformed Review.'2 With this there may profitably be compared, by those who like to hear both sides of a question, the series of papers on The Netherlandish Reformed Church of the Present by Professor H. G. Klein of Utrecht, which are buried in the columns of a Reformed journal which used to be published in Austria,8 while Dr. Kuyper himself has lifted the veil from many of his earlier experiences in a delightful booklet which he appropriately calls Confidences.* With these references I may exonerate myself from attempting more here than to suggest the outlines of his work on the theological side.

Dr. Kuyper was born in 1837, and received his scholastic training at Leyden, as a student of literature and theology. He obtained his theological doctorate in 1863, with a treatise on the idea of the Church in Calvin and a Lasco.

i It was published as one of the issues of the series entitled Mannen van Beteekenis in Onze Dagen, edited by Dr. E. J. Pijzel, and published at Haarlem by H. D. Tjeenk Willink. It is a pamphlet of 72 pages, and appeared in 1889.

1 Issue of April, 1892, Vol. III. pp. 209 sq.

* Evangelisch Beformirte Blaetter aus Oesterreich (Kuttelberg, Oesterr. Schlesien, 1891 ; Vol. I. pp. 9 seq.).

* Confidentie: Schrijven aan den weled. Heer J. H. van der Linden, door Dr. A. Kuyper (Amsterdam: Hoveker en Zoon, 1873). Additional sources of information are given by both Dr. Bavinck and Dr. Klein.

During his university career, when he sat at the feet of Scholten (atthat time in his more conservative period) and Kuenen, he had little clearness of religious insight and felt little drawing to theological study, and gave himself, therefore, rather to the cultivation of literature under the guidance of Professor de Vries. At its close a great change came over him, mediated partly by some striking experiences of providential guidance in connection with the preparation of a prize-paper which he had undertaken, partly by the continued and absorbing study of Calvin and a Lasco to which the preparation of that paper led him, and partly by the powerful impression made upon him by Miss Yonge's romance, The Heir of Jtedcliffe, read in this state of mind. The good work thus begun was completed under the influence of the example and conversation of the pious Reformed people of his first pastoral charge, at the little village of Beesd, where he ministered the Word from 1863 to 1867. Thus prepared for his work, he entered upon it at once con amore, when he was called in the latter year to the Church at Utrecht. From that moment, at Utrecht and Amsterdam, in the pulpit and professor's chair, in the Chamber of Deputies, and the editorial page of his journals, he has unceasingly waged battle for the freedom of the Church of God to found itself on the Word alone, and to live and teach in accordance with its own free confession.

In his new enthusiasm of faith he went to Utrecht in the highest hope, looking upon that city, in which dwelt and taught the Coryphaeuses of the orthodoxy of the day, as "a Zion of God," and expecting to find in them leaders whom he would need but to follow to the reestablishment of the Church and of the religious life of the land on the one firm foundation of the Word of God. He soon discovered that there were limits, in reliance upon the Reformed principles, and even in trust in God's Word, beyond which the Apologetical School of Utrecht was not prepared to go. "I had thought to find them," he says,l "learned brethren, for whom the Holy Scriptures, just as they lie, were the authority of their lives, — who with the Word for a weapon were defend

i Oedenkboek, etc., as above, p. 68.

i In the Preface to the first volume of his Encyclopaedic Or. Kuyper says: "Brought up under the teaching of Scholten and Kuenen, in an entirely different circle of theological ideas, and later not less strongly influenced by the 'Mediating Theology,' the author found rest neither for his heart nor for hU mind until his eyes were opened to the depth, the earnestness, and the beauty of the Reformed Confession, which has come to us out of those spiritually rich days when Calvinism was still a world-power, not only in the theological, but also in the social and political, realm."

Christianity, and the people of God have nocked to its leading. He cannot, indeed, be credited with the creation of the Reformed party in the Church, any more than of the Anti-revolutionary party in the State. As the year 1849, when Groen van Prinsterer was elected to the Lower Chamber of the States General, may be accounted the formal birthday of the latter, so the year 1842, when the Address of Groen and his six companions was laid before the Synod of the Netherlandish Reformed Church, praying for the maintenance of the rights of the Reformed Confession against the Groningen teaching, may be thought of as the formal birthday of the former. But as it is he who has organized and compacted the Anti-revolutionary party and led it to its present position of power, so it is he to whom is due above all others the present strength of the Reformed tendency in the religious life and thought of Holland, and to whom are turned in hope to-day the eyes of all who truly love the Word of God and the principles of the Reformed religion, — that "sterling silver," "fine gold," "pure nard," of Christianity, as he himself phrases it.

In the prosecution of his self-chosen task of recovering for the Word of God and the principles of the Reformed religion their rightful place in the civil and religious life of the Netherlands, Dr. Kuyper has made the most vigorous and versatile use of every means of reaching the minds and hearts of the people. He edits the daily political paper, De Standaard, which he has made a veritable power in the land. He edits the weekly religious paper, De Heraut, and discusses in its columns in the most thorough way all live topics of theology and religion. He is serving the State as a member of the Lower Chamber of the States General. He is serving the Church as Professor of Dogmatics in the theological faculty of the Free University at Amsterdam. It is a matter of course that he has made the freest use also of occasional discussion and scientific presentation. Political pamphlets, devotional treatises, studies on ecclesiastical topics and theological themes, from his pen, have poured from the press in an almost unbroken stream. It is a somewhat remarkable literary product for a busy man to have produced when looked at from the point of view of mere quantity; when its quality is considered, whether from the point of view of richness of style, fulness of details, wideness of view, or force of presentation, it is simply a marvel. There have been published in our day few discussions of civil and social questions more wide-minded and thoughtful, few devotional writings more penetrating and uplifting, few theological treatises more profound and stimulating. Among the more valuable of his theological writings should certainly l>e enumerated the numerous addresses which have been given permanence in print, especially the Rectoral addresses delivered at the Free University at Amsterdam, several of which attain the dimension of short treatises, and are furnished with an apparatus of notes, while retaining the grace of Dr. Kuyper's spoken style. Such, for example, are those on Present Day Biblical Criticism, delivered in 1881, Calvinism and Art, delivered in 1888, and the tendency of Pantheiziug thought towards the Obliteration of the Boundary Lines, and the confounding of things that differ, delivered in 1892. Among his more considerable works in scientific theology there fall to be mentioned especially, his edition of the Opuscala Theologica of Francis Junius, published in 1882, his copious commentary, in four volumes, on the Heidelberg Catechism, which bears the title of E Voto Dordraceno, published 1892-95, his somewhat popular treatise on The Work of the Holy Spirit, in three volumes, published in 1888-89, and, doubtless we may say above all, his Encyclopaedic der Heilige Godgeleerdheid in three volumes, published in 1894, of which the present volume presents a part in English.

This important work differs from other encyclopedias of theology in several particulars. It is marked by the strictness of its scientific conception of its sphere and the skill with which its proper province is discriminated and occupied. It is marked not less by the comprehensiveness of its grasp upon its material, and the thoroughness with which it is worked out in its details. It is especially marked by the attractiveness of the style in which it is written, which is never dull, and often rises into real eloquence. It is marked above all, however, by the frankness with which it is based on the principles of the Reformed theology, — with which it takes its starting-point "from what Calvin called the semen religionis, or the sensus divinitatis in ipsis medullis et viscerilus hominis infixus," so as to grant at once that it must seem as foolishness to him who chooses a different point of departure; and with which also it builds up its structure on the assumption of the truth of the Reformed presuppositions, and allows at once that it separates itself by so much from the point of view of all other systems. With so substantial a portion of the work before the reader, however, as this volume supplies, it cannot be necessary to speak here of its method or quality. It is only needful that the reader should remember that he has before him, here, only a portion of the whole work. In its completeness it fills three volumes of about the size of this one. The first of these is introductory, and treats of the name, idea, and conception of Encyclopedia, and then, more specifically, of the idea, divisions, and (most copiously) the history of Theological Encyclopedia. The second volume — the one here translated—is the general part, and discusses, as will be seen from its table of contents, all those questions which concern the place of theology among the sciences, and the nature of theology as a science with a "principium" of its own. This volume is notable for the extended and thorough discussion it accords to the "Principium Theologiae," — involving, to be sure, some slight breach of proportion in the disposition of the material and possibly some trenching upon the domain of Dogmatics, for which the author duly makes his apologies; but bringing so great a gain to the reader that he will find himself especially grateful for just this section. The third volume contains the treatment of the several divisions of theology, which is carried through in a wonderfully fresh and original fashion. It is to be hoped that the reception accorded the present volume will be such as to encourage the translator and publishers to go on and complete the work in

its English form, and thus that this volume will prove to be, in the literal sense of the word, but the introduction of Dr. Kuyper to English readers. I cannot but feel assured from my own experience that he who reads one treatise of Dr. Kuyper's cannot fail to have his appetite whetted for more.

BENJAMIN B. WARFIELD.

Princeton. June 16, 1898.