Archive Authors E.J. Hutchinson Reformed Irenicism

What Schools Are and What They’re For (Part 2)

Chytraeus continues his answer to the question “For what reasons is it necessary that literary studies be cultivated in schools, and especially that the catechism be learned?” There are several reasons why students should learn. First, because God commands that we learn and preserve the doctrine taught by Christ. Second, it is part of who we are as human beings: the end for which we are created is to know and glorify God. Third, such studies are necessary for the ministry and governance of the church. Fourth, they are necessary for Christian citizenship. Chytraeus asserts that the commonwealth (Respublica) is the host (hospitium) of the church, and that Christians should serve it in various capacities in order to achieve and maintain peace and safety for all (communem). Public peace is good for the church, and so Christians should work toward it in the commonwealths in which they live.

Praecipue igitur singuli ad discendum moveantur, primum severissimis Dei mandatis, qui praecipit doctrinam a se traditam audiri, disci, propagari.

Matth. 17. Aeternus pater de caelo iubet audiri Filium, HUNC AUDITE. Necesse est igitur conciones seu doctrinam Christi, in Evangelistis, Prophetis & Apostolis descriptam legi, cognosci & aliis cognoscendam perspicue & diserte proponi.

1 Tim. 4. Attende lectioni & doctrinae.

Col. 3. Sermo Christi habitet in vobis opulenter cum omni sapientia.

Ioh. 14. Christus iubet servari, hoc est, disci, ac custodiri sermonem suum, & amplissimam promissionem addit, quod custodes suae doctrinae domicilia & templa totius divinitatis futuri sint.

2 Timoth. 3. A puero sacras literas noveris, quae te possunt erudire ad salutem. Omnis enim Scriptura θεοπνευσὀς1 utilis est ad docendum, &c.

Deinde Finis ad quem conditi sumus, in discendo & docendo nobis propositus sit, ut Deum recte agnoscamus, & gloriam ipsius illustremus, 1 Corinth. 10, Matth. 5, 1 Pet. 4.

Tertio, ut prosimus Ecclesiae Dei, adiuvantes conservationem ministerii Evangelici, & gubernationem Ecclesiae.

Quarto, ut Reipublicae, quae hospitium est Eccelsiae Dei, in consiliis, iudiciis, legationibus, negotiisque omnibus, ad communem tranquillitatem & salutem pertinentibus, servire2 possimus. Tit. 3. Discant & nostri, ut possint bonis operibus praeesse ad necessarios usus, ne sint infrugiferi.

Let each individual, therefore, be especially roused to learning, first of all because of the most grave commands of God, who orders that the doctrine handed on by himself be heard, learned, passed on.

The eternal Father commands from heaven that his Son be heard, “HEAR HIM” (Matt. 17). It is necessary, therefore, that the discourses or doctrine of Christ, written down3 in the Evangelists, the Prophets, and the Apostles, be read, learned, and set forth clearly and distinctly to be learned by others.

“Attend to reading and doctrine” (1 Tim. 4).

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly with all wisdom” (Col. 3).

Christ commands his teaching to be preserved, that is, learned and guarded, and he adds a very great promise, [namely,] that the guardians of his own doctrine will be the habitations and temples of his whole divinity (John 14).

“From boyhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to educated you unto salvation. For all Scripture, God-breathed, is useful for teaching, etc.” (2 Timothy 3).

Next, the end for which we have been created should be set forth for us in learning and teaching, [namely,] to know God rightly and shine light upon his glory (1 Cor. 10, Matt. 5, 1 Pet. 4).

Third, in order that we may benefit the Church of God, aiding in the preservation of Gospel ministry and in the government of the Church.

Fourth, in order that we may be able to serve the commonwealth, which is the host of the Church of God, in councils, courts, embassies, and all employments pertaining to the common peace and safety. “Let our people also learn how they are able to be preeminent in good works for necessary uses, in order that they may not be unfruitful” (Tit. 3).

  1. The word is misspelled and accented incorrectly in Chytraeus’ text; it should be θεόπνευστος.
  2. I read pertinentibus servire with the 1580 ed. (and others) rather than pertinentium servare with the 1588 ed. (Leipzig), because the latter makes little sense thematically and even less sense grammatically. The 1594 ed. has pertinentium servire, but this still seems less preferable. The 1587 ed. agrees with that of 1580.
  3. I read descriptam with the 1580 ed. (and others) rather than the discriptam of what has been my main edition (1588 Leipzig). It will be such no longer because the text appears to be rather unsound, much more so than other editions of the same period which I will plan to use as the basis of this translation in the future.

By E.J. Hutchinson

E.J. Hutchinson is Assistant Professor of Classics at Hillsdale College.

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