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with the study of the Oriental languages, he closely attended on the celebrated John Leusden, who taught those languages with incredible dexterity, and under him he construed almost the whole Hebrew Text, as also the commentaries of Solomon Iarchi, Aben Ezra, and Kimchi on Hosea, and the Chaldee Paraphrase of Jonathan on Isaiah, and of Onkelos on a part of the Pentateuch. Moreover, under the same master, he just touched on the mysteries of the Masora, and the barbarous dic. tion of the Talmud, namely, the parts published by John Coco ceius, under the title of Sanhedrim and Maccoth, and by Con. stantine Lempereur, under that of Babha Bathræ: 'under the same master he learned the elements of the Syriac and Arabic languages, which last, however, he afterwards less cultivated than the others. What proficiency be made in the Hebrew, appeared from a public specimen he gave at the instigation of Leusden, of a well written Hebrew oration about the Messias of the Jews and Christians, in 1654. But, though almost quite swallowed up in those studies, he by no means neglected the study of divinity, to which he knew all the others were only subservient; but in that sublime science, he diligently used, as masters, the greatest men, and best seen in the sacred scriptures, whose most laudable memory no lapse of time shall ever be able to obliterate ; namely, Gisbert Voetius, John Hoornbeekius, Gualterus Bruinicus, and Andrew Essenius. By whose instructions, together with his own extraordinary application, and true piety towards God, what proficiency, he made, the reader: may easily judge for himself. However, he had a mind to see Groningen, to have the benefit of hearing the famous Samuel Maresius: whither he went in 1654, after the summer vacation, chiefly applying to divinity: under whose direction, he made exercises in French, by which he gave so much satisfaction to this great man, that, notwithstanding his many avocations, he deigned to correct and purge those declamations of Witsius from their solecisms and other improprieties, before they were recited in the college. Having thus spent a year at Groningen, and obtained an honourable testimonial from the Theological faculty, he next turned his thoughts to Leyden. But the plague then raging there, he resolved to return to Utrecht, in order to build farther on the foundation he had there so happily laid ; and, therefore, he not only carefully heard the professors in divinity at this time, as before, both in public and private, but cultivated a peculiar familiarity with the very reverend Justus van den Bogaerdt, whose piety, prudence, and admirable endowments he had such a value for, that he imagined, per
haps from youthful inexperience, no preacher equal to him. From bis sermons, conversation, and example, he learned the deeper mysteries of the kingdom of God, and of mystical and spiritual Christianity. From him he understood how great the difference is between any superficial knowledge, which scholastic exercises, books learnedly written, and a close application, may procure to minds quite destitute of sanctifica con, and that heavenly wisdom which is acquired by meditation, prayer, love, familiar converse with God, and by the very relish and experience of spiritual things; which, proceed ing from the Spirit of God, internally illuminating, convinang, persuading, and sealing, gloriously transforms the whole man to the most holy image of Christ. In a word, he owns that by means of this holy person, he was introduced by the Lord Jesus to bis most secret recesses, while before he too much, and too fondly pleased himself in tarrying in the porch, and there, at length, learned, disclaiming all vain presumption of science, humbly to sit down at the feet of the heavenly Master, and receive the kingdom of heaven as a little child. But that it may not be thought, he so applied to the forming of his mind to piety, as to neglect for the future all academical studies, the theses he wrote on the Sacred Trinity, against the Jews, from their own writings, may, and ought to be, a proof to the contrary; and which he published in the month of October, 1655, to be disputed under the moderation of the famous Leusden; which, though warmly attacked by the most experienced academicians, yet the moderator thought the respondent acquitted bimself so well as to supersede bis interposition on any account: and when, according to custom, · he returned solemn thanks to the moderator for his trouble, this last very politely and truly made answer, He had stood in no need of his belp.
The time now seemed to require, that our Witsius, very famous at two universities, should be employed in the public service of the church, and tirst, as usual, gave specimens of his proficiency. Therefore, in the month of May, 1656, be presented himself at Enkhuysen to a preparatory examination, as it is called, together with his then fellow-student, John Lasdragerus, with whom he had a familiarity from his youth, and whom he afterwards had for his most imtimate colleague and faithful fellow-labourer, first in the church of Leovaarden, and then at Utrecht. And upon this occasion he was not only admitted to preach publicly, which he did with uncommon applause, and gave so general satisfaction, that there was scarce a country church in North Holland, where he then re
sided, which wanting a minister, did not put his name in the number of the three candidates, from which the election is usually made. And, at the instigation of the reverend Joha James le Bois, minister of the French church ac Utrecht, be ventured, upon leave given, to preach publicly to the French church at Dort in their language. And from that time he often preached in French, both at Utrecht and Amsterdam; as also sometimes in the course of his ministry at Leovaarden. But because he imagined there was still something wanting to the elegance of his language, he proposed very soon to take a tour to France, and pay bis respects to the great men there, and at the same time have the pleasure of hearing them, and improving in their language.
But providence disposed otherwise; for the following year, 1657, and the twenty-first of his age, being lawfully called by the church of West Wouden, he was ordained there on the 8th of July. This village lies almost in the mid-way be tween Enkhuysen and Horn, and is united with the parish of Binne-Wijsent. And bere, for four years and upwards, he laboured with the greatest alacrity of a youthful mind, and with no less benefit: for, by frequent catechising, and with the greatest prudenve suiting himself to the catechumens, both boys and girls, they who before were grossly igno rant, could not only give proper answers on the principal heads of our religion, but prove their assertions by suitable texts of scripture, and repeat a whole sermon distinctly, when examined on it, to the joy as well as shame of their parents and older people. The reputation of so faithful and dexterous a pastor, being thus widely spread, the church of Wormer, in the same tract of North Holland, sufficiently numerous and celebrated, but then too much distracted by intestine commotions, imagined they could not pitch upon a fitter guide to allay their heats, and form their minds. This call Witsius not only accepted, passing to that charge in October 1661, but spent there four years and a half, doing every thing in his power to promote Christian unanimity and the common salvation; and as he saw the extensive fruits of his labours among them, 80, he was universally beloved. Wherefore, he could not bear to remove from them to the people of Sluice in Flanders, who offered him great encouragement to preach, but the people of Goese in Zealand succeeded in their call, and he repaired to them about Whitsuntide 1666, and was so acceptable to all by his doctrine, manners, and diligence, as to live there in the most agreeable peace and concord, with his learned, pious, and vigilant colleagues, two of whom be revered as hiś fathers; and the third, who was younger, he loved as his brother. He was much delighted with this settlement, and often wished to grow old in this peaceful retreat. But the people of Leovaarden, in West Friesland, interrupted these thoughts ; who, in November 1667, called him with a remarkable affection, to that celebrated metropolis of bis native country, that he might prove a shining light, not only in the church, court, and senate, of that place, but to all the people of Friesland, who flocked thither from all parts to the assembly of the states ; but the people of Goese doing all they could to hinder his removal, it was April 1668, before he went to Leovaarden. And it is scarcely to be expressed with what vigilance, fidelity, and prudence he conducted himself; but at a time of such difficulty, when the enemy, having made such incursions into Holland, and made themselves masters of most of its towns, and struck a panic into all, that a man of such spirit and resolution was absolutely necessary. Nor do I know of any, before or since, whose labours were more successful, and who was more acceptable to the church, the nobility, and the court. And therefore he was for some time tutor to Henry Casimir, the most serene prince of Nassau, hereditary governor of Friesland, too untimely snatched away by death; and with remarkable success he instructed, in the doctrines of religion, his most illustrious sister, Amelia, a very religious princess, afterwards married to the duke of Saxe-Eisenach; and he presided at the profession of faith which both princes publicly made, to the great edification of the church, in the presence of the princes' mother, Albertina of Orange.
It is not, therefore, to be wondered, that when, through the injury of the most calamitous times, and the decease, both of the venerable and aged Christian Schotanus, and of John Melchior Steinbergius, scarce installed in the professorship, the theological interests of the university of Franequer seemed to be fallen to decay; and the extraordinary, and truly academical endowments of our Witsius were perfectly well known in Friesland, by an experience of seven whole years; that, I say, he was appointed to the ordinary profession of divinity, in the year 1675, in the academy of his native country, thus happily to be restored. Which opportunity also the church of Franequer prudently laid hold on, being then without a second minister, very cheerfully to commit to him, now appointed professor, that sacred charge. Having, therefore, accepted both these calls, he came to Franequer; and after being declared Doctor of divinity in the academical assembly, by the divine bis colleague, he was, on the 15th of April, installed
professor of the same, after delivering a solemn oration, with the greatest applause of a concourse of people from all parts; in which he excellently expressed the character of a genuine divine; and as such be soon after demeaned himself, together with the venerable and aged Nicolaus Arnoldus, his most in. timate colleague.
In the pulpit, Witsius addressed himself with so much gravity, elegance, piety, solidity, and usefulness, that the general inattention of the people was removed, and religious impressions made both on great and small. The academical chair also gained a warmth from his sacred fire, to which, from the different and most distant parts of Europe, the youth intended for the ministry, resorted in great numbers. And not to be wanting in his duty, or disappoint the intention of those who called him, in any particular, he no sooner entered the university, than, potwithstanding his many daily public and private labours, in both his offices, he set bimself to write, and, in a very little time published, besides select academical disputations, mostly tending to establish the peace of the church, and a smaller dissertation, two works pretty large and learned, which went through several editions, and were spread over Europe; being every where read with universal appro bation. And besides, there was nothing of extraordinary importance to be transacted, even with the schismastic followers of Labadie, who had then fixed their principal residence in West Friesland, which both the nobility and the overseers of the church did not think proper should be dispatched by this man.
About this time, Mr. J. Mark, on his return from his studies at Leyden, commenced his acquaintance with Witsius, who recommended him as pastor to the church of Midlumen, between Franequer and Harlingen; and afterwards procured him the degree of Doctor in divinity; and, by his interest with his serene highness, and others, Dr. Mark was appointed third ordinary professor of divinity.
But, the justly renowned character of our Witsius was such, that others, envying the happiness of the people of Fricsland, wanted to have the benefit of his labours themselves. This was first attempted by the overseers of the university of Groningen, who, to procure a worthy successor to the de ceased James Altingius, as well in the theological and philo logical chairs, as in the university church, about the close of the year 1679, sent to Franequer a reverend person, to offer the most honourable terms, in ogder to prevail on Witsius. But that attempt proved unsuccessful. For, communicating