BY THE REV. WILLIAM LOEHE
MINISTER OF NEW DETTELSAU, BAVARIA.
The attempt which is hereby made, to present to those of our countrymen, who have settled in North America, and to whom the english language has become the means of communication, an english translation of the Epitome Credendorum, will not appear to them an unprofitable one, and will, we trust, be considered by them as a partical testimony of the love and attachment which we still bear towards them: We are the more led to think so, when we consider the great want which they must experience of such theological writings, the authors of which have had in view the maintainance, in all their parts, of all the fundamental doctrines of the Lutheran Church. We are aware that, especially in more recent times, our North American brethren have shown a desire for making known to the clergy and laity of their adopted fatherland, the most approved lutheran authors; but we, on our part, are convinced that besides the symbolical writings, nothing would serve more to silence and shift the intricate manifestations of contending opinions, than an approved dogmatical work, in which every point of our faith is fully considered and represented agreeable to the true sense of scripture. We would have preferred it, — and indeed it would have been more honourable to our fatherland — had we been able, instead of the work of Hunnius, to have selected one of a more recent date; but amongst the great number of writings of this nature, we have not been able to discover one, which was compiled in such a manner as would, show more, that its Author was determined firmly to preserve all the doctrines of our confession and the principles of practical life consequent thereto, and that by all its perfections had been written with more simplicity of style, — than that of Hunnius. We admit that there are, in this work, many points to be found, which have not been treated with that conformity to scripture and that clearness which might appear desirable, — but as we would not, and indeed could not, undertake an entire reconstruction of the work, we preferred leaving it as it was, and giving it in its original shape. Every dogmatical writing which we might have chosen for our present purpose, would have been more objectionable than that of Hunnius. It would be well if a great many of our brethren beyond the seas did but return to the views maintained in this work — and on this regained ground a full the development of the truth will, in due time, not be wanting. —
This translation has been made by a theologian who is well acquainted with the two languages, and who has also directed the printing of it. This latter occupation has been quite as tedious as the translation itself, which, owing to the great unclearness and conciseness of the original, has offered no small difficulties and not few stumblingblocks. And if the reader should be astonished at the Errata which he might happen to meet here and there (the most important of which he finds collected on the last page of book) he is requested to consider the great difficulties, which a composer, who is quite ignorant of the english language, must have to encounter in composing a work in that tongue, though we must do the Printer the justice to say, that he has exerted himself to the utmost of his power to render the work as perfect as possible, — and the obstacles, even the most experienced revisor must have to contend with, under these circumstances.
After the printing of this work had had already been commenced, we had occasion to see the “Lutheran Observer,” and to find that its Editor promised to give a translation of the Epitome in its columns. We were at once rejoiced and surprised to find, that the new edition of the Epitome (in the german language) which had been recently undertaken by a dear friend of ours, for the benefit of the german Lutherans in North America, had been so favourably received by the Editors of the “Standard.”‘ And indeed we cannot allow this opportunity to pass, without expressing our great satisfaction at observing the “Lutheran Standard”still to have retained so many elements which evidence it almost to a certainty, that he is not willed to depart from the confession of our church and the practical life agreeable thereto. And though it would appear as if the time for the Ohio Synod — whose organ we believe the “Lutheran Standard” to be — to call herself a “german lutheran Synod,” was past; yet might it have perhaps fallen to the lot of this very Synod, to become a centre for all those, who, though they have yielded already to the influences of the english language, are yet determined not to give over the communion of faith and confession, by which they feel themselves still united to their german brethren. It is always with great pain that we read, that in any part of North America the hope of retaining german language and nationality is past; but we are far from believing that the German Lutheran Church is to stand or fall with the german language. And just this would be our only comfort, on seeing the german elements rapidly disappear from so many parts of North America, to see these our brethren more and more return to the full truth of the Lutheran Church, and, in another tongue, confess themselves of the same faith and of the same hope with us. May the Ohio Synod and all those of our brethren, whose hearts have not yet turned from the confession of our church, be guided in all truth, by the Spirit of all truth, and may they be pleased to accept of this token of love and affection, which with this Epitome Credendorum we send them across the seas!
New Dettelsau, June 1847.