Exploration, trade and conquest expanded and upset traditional worldviews of early modern Europeans. Christians saw themselves confronted with a largely heathen world. In the wake of Iberian colonization, Jesuits successfully christianized heathen populations overseas. In his
De conversione Indorum et gentilium, Johannes Hoornbeeck presents a systematic overview of every aspect of the missionary imperative from a Reformed Protestant perspective. The most attractive part of his book may be the global survey it offers of the various types of heathens, an early example of comparative religion. Of equal interest, however, is his critical approach to mission. Hoornbeeck rejects ecclesiastical hierarchy and top-down imposition of Christianity. In this he is perfectly orthodox, and at the same time startlingly original and a harbinger of modern missions. His practical recommendations offer a flexible framework for missionaries, to fit a wide variety of circumstances.
Although little known today, the Utrecht physician and town councillor Lambert van Velthuysen (1622–1685) was a prolific Dutch seventeenth-century philosopher and a vociferous advocate of the new philosophies of Descartes and Hobbes.
The Letter on the Principles of Justness and Decency of 1651 constitutes both the first published reaction to Hobbes's political philosophy and the first attempt by a Dutch philosopher at using Hobbes to supply a ‘Cartesian’ moral philosophy. It is also a highly original work that seeks to define the nature of virtue and vice and to justify the magistrate's right to punish crimes. It will thus be of interest not only to historians of philosophy but to all those interested in the social and cultural history of the Dutch Golden Age.