The Years 1652-1662

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The German Period: 1652–1677

Cologne and Xanten (1652–1662)

Upon returning to Cologne in 1652, Mastricht was called by the congregation of Xanten as vicarus or assistant pastor—a call he accepted in early 1653. While Mastricht kept his ecclesiastical membership at the congregation of Cologne,[footnote]Löhr and van Doorn, Protokolle, 2:419, implies a membership from 1652 to 1671.[/footnote] not much is known of his work in Xanten. The congregation was served by the influential minister at the Brandenburg Court, Johann Kunsius, from 1646–52 and belonged, along with other Reformed churches of the Lower Rhine, such as Duisburg, to the predominantly Cocceian classis of Kleve.[footnote]Cf. Jonathan I. Israel, The Dutch Republic: Its Rise, Greatness, and Fall 1466–1806 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 665.[/footnote] The ministers of these churches were primarily trained at universities in the Low Country, in particular at Leiden University, having Johannes Cocceius (1603–1669), among others, as professor. For Voetius’s student from Cologne, however, this was apparently not discordant, for he asserted later in life that the Cocceian-Voetian contention was greater than necessary.[footnote]Petrus van Mastricht, Theoretico-practica theologia qua, per singula capita theologica, pars exegetica, elenchtica et practica, perpetua successione conjugantur;; accedunt historia ecclesiastica, plena quIbid, sed compendiosa, idea theologiae moralis, hypotyposis theologiae asceticae etc. proin opus quasi novum (Utrecht: Thomae Appels, 1699), 1074: “Hinc, comprimis post decessum Celeb.Coccei A 1658 [1669, AN] ex contentionibus major concitata est animorum surraxij quam res exigebat.”[/footnote] In the meantime, Mastricht kept in contact with his home congregation in Cologne, by attending, for example, the baptism of a child of his sister Magdalena and her husband Daniel Behaeghel in 1658.[footnote]This baptism was administered by Petrus Montanus, who was called on November 14, 1653, with the particular approval of the French members. Cf. Löhr and van Doorn, Protokolle,1:35, 37.[/footnote] Moreover, the consistory of Cologne recommended the congregation of Mühlheim am Rhein in August of 1655 to call Mastricht as “sacrosanctæ theologiæ candidatus van seer goede gaven en stichtelijke van leven sijnde”[footnote]Ibid., 1:58 (minutes 39.1). August 5, 1655.[/footnote] (candidate of sacred theology with many good gifts and piety of life)—a call he did not accept. The reason may have been the care of his mother, who passed away the following January, as well as his working on Vindicae Veritatis et Autoritatis Sacrae Scripturae adversus Dissertationes Chr. Wittichii, Mastricht’s first work of philosophy.[footnote]Petrus van Mastricht, Vindicaeveritatisetautoritatis sacrae scripturaeinrebus Philosophicis adversus dissertationes D. Christophori Wittichii (Utrecht: 1655).[/footnote] The motivation for this publication was the disputatio of Christopher Wittichus (1625–87), preacher at the Reformed church of Duisburg and professor of theology at the newly founded University of Duisburg.[footnote]Günter von Roden, Die Universität Duisburg (Duisburg: Walter Braun Verlag, 1968), 240. B. Glasius, Godgeleerd Nederland, Biographisch Woordenboek van Nederlandsche Godgeleerden (s-Hertogenbosch: Gebr. Muller, 1853), 2:471. Jonathan I. Israel, Radical Enlightenment, Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650–1750 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), 25, 26.[/footnote] Wittichus revealed his appreciation for Descartes’s philosophical thought[footnote]Christoph Wittich, Dispvtatio Theologica de Stylo Scriptvrae Quem adhibet cum de rebus naturalibus sermonem instituit (Tevtopoli: Ravins, 1655).[/footnote] and argued specifically that the scriptural passages Voetians referred to as incompatible with Cartesianism should not be construed literally—a point Mastricht strongly opposed.[footnote]Petrus van Mastricht, Vindicae veritatis et autoritatis sacrae scripturae in rebus Philosophicis adversus dissertationes D. Christophori Wittichii (Utrecht: 1655).[/footnote] Mastricht’s anti-Cartesian response was an early response in the context of his time, and his point of disagreement occasioned a less favorable reception of Cartesianism at the synod of Duisburg—an area that belonged politically along with the university to the Elector of Brandenburg, Frederick Wilhelm (1620–88).
Mastricht, Petrus: Petri van Mastricht Vindiciæ Veritatis Et Authoritatis Sacræ (1655)