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SEVERAL years have clapsed since the various symbolical books
of our Reformed Dutch church were first translated and published in the English language. The principal design of publishing them in English was to instruct persons of this country, who adhered to our church, and were ignorant of the Dutch language. The greatest part of those who belong to our communion in America are such. It hath appeared by the event that this was a useful and laudable undertaking, and indeed absolutely necessary. It occurred to me some years since, that it would be serviceable to translate also some valuable exposition of one or other of our symbolical books into English; and as no book of this kind is of greater authority, or more general utility than the Heidelbergh catechism, I conceived that it would be proper, and particularly useful to translate some approved exposition of the catechism. I knew of none that was either better, or more generally approved, than that of the Rev. JOHN VANDERKEMP; and I entertained a desire to attempt a translation of that. I mentioned my inclination to several friends, who forthwith approved of the motion, and encouraged me to begin. Several ministers especially urged me to it. Indeed it appeared both to them and to me, that a work of such a nature was necessary, and that not only for the laity, but also for the clergy of our church, because they are obliged to expound the catechism in order every sabbath, when they preach twice, which is done in cities during the whole year, and in the country at least during half the year. Many of our younger ministers understand not the Dutch language, and they have no other assistance in preparing discourses on the catechism, than what they can derive from Latin expositions, which are exceedingly scarce in this country, so that but few can obtain them.
I have endeavoured to make it my first object in translating this Look, to be faithful, studying to give what I judged to be the true ense of the author, and not adding or omitting a single sentence wil tally or wittingly. I have also endeavoured to preserve the proper
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English idiom, which is much more difficult in translating than in composing. I have purposely avoided hard and unusual words. In several quotations from scripture I have followed the Dutch translation instead of the English, but only where the foregoing and following context of the author required it. I have also added a few notes to explain certain particulars.
The work which we now offer to the public hath been highly esteemed in the original, having been often reprinted since its first publication, although there were many other books of the same kind in Dutch. It is the sincere and earnest prayer of the translator, that as it hath been acceptable and useful to the fathers in the original, it may be so likewise to the children in a translation, and to all who may favour it with a perusal.
TO THE CANDID READER.
BEFORE I inform thee of the purport of this my book, I must
briefly discourse with thee on two momentous matters, which are of the greatest concern to thee and every other person. And in the first place, that it behooves thee to inquire whether thou art in the true church, in which God, with whom we have to do, is sought, worshipped and glorified in a pure and acceptable manner, to salvation. It is a dictate of human nature, that man ought not only to worship and glorify God, but that he ought also to do this in connection with others. But man having sinned, and come short of the glory of God, knows not in what manner he ought to worship and glorify him; and nevertheless, as the idea, that he ought to worship God, abides with him, he will, according to his confused and singular conceptions, endeavour to worship him in an erroneous manner. And since being puffed up by his fleshly understanding, he delights in himself, and in his peculiar opinions, he therefore seeks to render them agreeable to others also, and thus to create a party, even in religion. But the Lord God, having appointed for himself an everlasting people. a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people, that they might shew forth his praise, hath made his will known to them, and thus also the proper method of glorify.
ing him. This hath produced two kinds of churches and religions,
The heathens have ordered their religion according to the twilight
The modern Jews, who have apostatised from the faith of their
call it, a book patched up of heathenish, Jewish, and Nestorian er-
The Christians are either Romanists or Pelagians, (to whom the
All these cannot be each the true church, nor have the true form
what people the true church of God and the pure religion is.