David Martin’s Preface to the New Testament

le_nouveau_testament-8One cannot be happy without knowing God, and one can only know him well by the divine Scriptures.

The world is, in truth, like a great open book where one can see the brilliant handiwork of an infinite power and a wisdom worthy of worship.  The heavens declare, said the Prophet King, the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. (Psalm 19:1)  And St. Paul said to the Romans, For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead (Romans 1:20).  But sinners and criminals that we are, we especially need to know God by means of his mercy; now it is only from himself that we can know him, and to learn with certitude that he, in view of the expiation which was done by his Son Jesus Christ, wants to pardon our sins.  The Books of the Old Testament had predicted this happy expiation, and it had long been prefigured in the blood of the victims which were sacrificed by the order of God; but the Books of the New speak to us of an expiation which is a fait-accompli.  Isn’t it a consolation to a soul, deeply afflicted by sins, to learn from these divine Scriptures that there is no condemnation to fear when, with a sincere repentance and a faith enlivened by love, that soul has recourse to Jesus Christ and, supported by the intercession and based on the merit of this divine Redeemer, can go with assurance to the throne of grace, to find mercy, and obtain salvation, life and immortality?  This great and consoling truth presents itself to us in virtually every page of the Books of the New Testament, but it is never detached from the obligation to love God, and to keep his commandments.  Truly one of the most dangerous illusions of self love is to pretend to find salvation in faith in Jesus Christ, and then to proceed as if there is nothing else left to achieve.

From this comes the loosening of morals and a nearly universal negligence of the most essential duties of Christianity, even among the most Orthodox of Christians.  One reads the Scriptures to make oneself wise more than to make oneself holy, without realising that only knowledge of Religion is nothing but an amusement of one’s spirit, or a light which is only good for dazzling, and which in dazzling deceives, and leads to going over the cliff of damnation.  The person who wants to profit from the reading of this Holy Book reads it to learn how to sanctify oneself by the practice of good works.  He takes Jesus Christ as his model as well as Saviour, because he cannot be our Saviour if he is not our model.  This is the constant teaching of the Holy Apostles, and Jesus Christ himself often expressed this in the strongest of terms, that it was necessary to renounce the Gospel, and to read it only for one’s own condemnation, unless one was to follow its holy principles, and practice all of its duties.   And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy (Galatians 6:16) of God, Amen.

The preface by the Huguenot pastor David Martin of his translation of the New Testament into French, 1731

3 thoughts on “David Martin’s Preface to the New Testament”

  1. I am seeking a copy of Dr. Henry Martins (posibily around 1707)written work of the New Testament. It is my understanding that this was originally completed in French but was then translated into English. I cannot find access to a full English translation of any form. Can you point me in the right direction to obtain a copy regardless of the resource media?

    Thank you
    James

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