Lucas Trelcatius, Jr., 1604, and a High View of Holy Scripture

Lucas Trelcatius, Jr., is a Dutch Reformed theologian of the early orthodox era. Succeeding his father, Lucas Trelcatius, Sr., he served as professor extraordinarius at Leiden from 1602 until his death in 1607. This pericope is taken from a volume published in 1610, three years after his death by John Gawen who translated Trelcatius’ Latin text into English.

Published in 1604, the 1st year of King James Version translation process, Trelcatius’ writings illuminates the high view of Scripture contemporary with the translation work. This short passage, a polemic against one of Rome’s finest apologists, Bellarmine, demonstrates the theological precommitments of that era that guided the King James Bible translators. The following is drawn from Book 1, Chapter 2 of A Brief Institution of the Common Places of Sacred Divinitie.

Of the Word of God

The same we thus define: It is a holy instrument concerning the truth, necessary to salvation, faithfully and perfectly written in the Canonical books by the Prophets and Apostles, as the Secretaries of God for the healthful instruction of the Church.

We call it an instrument both in respect of the Covenant, whereof God would have an Instrument to be made, and by a renewed contract publicly to be registered, as also in relation to another thing, as in the proper use and office thereof, because the holy Scripture is not for it self, but as the manner of Instruments is for another thing, the authority, perfection, perspicuousness, and use of this Instrument shall be made evident by a methodical resolution of the causes.

The Cause Efficient of the Scripture is God the Father in the Son by the Spirit, for the same hath the Father layed [oft]en to the Church by the word Enun[sia]tive, by the words of grace and power generally and specially, ordinarily and extraordinarily, the Son hath both ways confirmed it in the New Testament, the Holy Ghost sealeth the same in the hearts of the faithful by the word inwardly testifying, or by an inward testimony, the Scripture then is divine by original, and by the things thereof, both essential and natural, as also assumed.  

By Original, because every knowledge of truth is from the first truth, whereof the Scripture is the instrumental badge, and as it were a sharpened image: hence it is, that God both immediately with his own finger wrote the Decalogue in Tables, and mediately by his servants as his Notaries and public penmen commanded the whole compacted body of holy Scripture with every part thereof to be written….

Further, this authority is two ways considered, first in it self, secondly, in respect to us: the authority of the Scripture in its self is divine, if we consider the cause, subject and certainty of doctrine.

The Cause, because the authority of the Scripture is as great as of the holy Ghost who indicted both the matter and words thereof, and whose Prophets and Apostles were only amanuenses, penmen.

The Subject, for whereas there is wont to be a double respect to testimonies concerning the authority of a thing from the power and efficacy of him that witnesseth, the other from the nature and property of the Instrument, the Scripture, in respect of the things whereof it is an Instrument, hath an exceeding great and infallible authority.

The certainty of doctrine which the Scripture hath by God by Virtue, Verity and Complement: by Virtue, because he hath confirmed the same both at all times with his Spirit, and at convenient time with his works of grace and power: by Verity, because it containeth the whole truth communicable in it self both alone and perfectly: by Complement, because as in substance, so also in event all things are most certain, and most true in the Scripture.

Lucas Trelcatius, A Brief Institution of the Common Places of Sacred Divinitie wherein the Truth of every place proved, and the sophisms of Bellarmine are reproved, translated by John Gawen (London: Imprinted by T. P. for Francis Burton, dwelling in Pauls Church-yard, and the sign of the Green Dragon, 1610), 12-16

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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