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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 his 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 he soon after demeaned himself, together with the venerable and aged Nicolaus Arnoldus, his most intimate 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, notwithstanding his many daily public and private labours, in both his offices, he set himself 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 approbation. And besides, there was nothing of extraordinary importance to be transacted, even with the schismatic 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 lappiness of the people of Friesland, 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 philological 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 order to prevail on Witsius. But that attempt proved unsuccessful. For, communicating the affair to his serene Highness the prince, and other overseers of the university, they protested his services were most acceptable to them ; and he excused himself in a handsome manner to the people of Groningen, in the beginning of the year 1680 ; when, upon the decease of the celebrated Burmannus, they judged it necessary to have a great man, to add to the reputation of their university, and to maintain the ancient piety of their church ; and being well assured that none was fitter for all those purposes than Witsius, who was formerly one of their own students, they therefore dispatched a splendid deputation to Franequer, to entreat him to come and be an ornament to their university and church, to which he consented with little difficulty, notwithstanding the opposition made by those of Friesland, who were loth to part with one who had been so useful among them; for his obligations to the university of Utrecht were such that he thought he could not shew his gratitude more, than by accepting of their invi. tation. Accordingly, after a most honourable dismission from the afflicted Frieslanders, he came to Utrecht, and was admitted into the ministry of that church, on the 25th of April, and four days after, into the professorship of the University, after delivering a most elegant oration on the excellence of evangelical truth, which fully answered universal expectation. And it can scarce be expressed, how happily he lived in credit, and laboured above full eighteen years of his most valuable life, with these celebrated men, viz. Peter Maestricht, Melchior Leideckerus, and Hermannus, then Halenius, after the example of the doctors, his predecessors, whom he always had in the highest veneration. In the ministry he had several colleagues, men of learning, piety, peace, and zeal for God; among whom were his ancient colleagues, in the church of Leovaarden, Peter Eindhovius, and John Lastdragerus. In the university, besides the fore-mentioned divines, he had not only his own John Leusden, an excellent philologist, but Ge. rard de Uries, and Luitsius, famous philosophers, who, for the benefit of the church, prepared the youth intended for the mi. nistry. Before his pulpit he had a Christian magistracy and the whole body of the people, who admired and experienced the power of his elocution, their minds being variously affected with religious impressions. Before his academical
and private chair, he had not only a large circle of promising youths from all parts of the world, who admired his most learned, solid, prudent and eloquent dissertations ; but doctors themselves daily resorted in great numbers to learn of him. And therefore, he declined no labour, by which, even at the expence of many restless nights, he might be of service to the university and church. Nor did he think it sufficient by sermons, lectures, conferences and disputations; to produce his various stock of learning, but he exposed his treasures to the whole world, present, and to come, in many public and excellent writings, to last for ever, and never to decay, but with the utter extinction of solid learning and true piety itself. And to the commendation of the people of Utrecht be it spoken, that; not only in ecclesiastical assemblies, they always acknowledged his abilities and prudence, seasonably calling him to the highest dignities in synods; but even the nobility, both by deeds and words, testified, that his endowments were perfectly well known to, and highly esteemed of by them. And therefore they honoured him twice with the badges of the highest office in their university, in 1686 and in 1697. And we must by no means omit, that when in 1685, a most splendid embassy of the whole united provinces was deereed to be sent to James king of Great Britain, afterwards unhappily drawn aside and ruined by the deceitful arts of the French and Romish party; which embassy was executed by the most illustrious Wassenaar, lord of Duvenvorden, and the ordinaryambassador, his excellency, Citters, with the most noble and illustrious Weed lord of Dykveld ; that, I say, this last easily persuaded his colleagues of legation to employ none but Witsius for their chaplain : a divine, whom, to the honour of the Dutch churches, they might present in person to the English hation, without any apprehension, either of offence or contempt. . Nor was Witsius himself against the resolution of these illustrious personages, for he went cheerfully, though indisposed in body; and on his return, in a few months after, owned, that having conversed with the archbishop of Canterbury, the bishop of London, and with many other divines, both episcopal and dissenters in discipline, he observed not a few things, which made an increase to his stock of learning, and by which he was better qualified to act prudently on all future occasions. And the English, from that time, owned, that being thus better acquainted, with Witsius, he ever after justly deserved their regard and applause.
The reputation of Witsius, thus spread all over the world; made the most illustrious overseers of the university of Ley. Vol. I. E
den, with the Burgomasters, resolve to give a call to this great man, in 1698; in order to make up the loss, which was apprehended from the decease of the great Spanhemius, which seemed to be drawing near. And this resolution was approved of by our gracious Stadtholder, William III. king of Great Britain, of immortal memory, from that constant piety, he entertained towards God, and that equal fidelity and prudence he exercised towards our church and university. Nor was there the least delay, either in determining or executing that call to the professorship of divinity, or in his accepting thereof. For, though the people of Utrecht could have wished otherwise, yet our Witsius had several weighty reasons, why he thought it his duty to comply with the Leyden invitation; judging it was entirely for the interest of the church, equally. as for his own, that hereafter exempted from the labours of the pulpit, he might, with the greater freedom, devote the rest of his aged life to the benefit of the university. But especially, as he was made acquainted with his majesty's pleasure, by the illustrious pensioner Heinsius. And when his majesty admitted him into his royal presence, he signified the satisfaction he had with his accepting the call to the chair of Leyden. He entered on his office the 16th of October, after delivering a very grave and elegant oration, in which he gave the character of the Modest Divine. And with what fideli. ty he discharged this office for the space of ten years ; with what assiduity he laboured, with what wisdom and prudence he taught, with what elegance he spoke, with what alacrity he discoursed in disputations, with what piety he lived, with what sweetness of temper he demeaned himself, with what gracefulness he continued to write, with what lustre he adorned the university, are things so well known to all, as may supersede any particular enlargement.
But he had scarce passed a year at Leyden, when the high and mighty states of Holland and West-Friesland did, on the recommendation of the overseers of the university, in the room of Mark Essius, the piously deceased inspector of their theological college, in which ingenious youths of the republic are reared, for the service of the church, commit the superintendency thereof to our Witsius, as the mildest tutor they could employ for their pupils; without detriment to all the honour and dignity of his professorship, which he enjoyed in conjunction with the celebrated Anthony Hulsius. When he was installed in this new office, the illustrious president of the supreme court of Holland, and overseer of the university, Hubert Roosenboomius lord of Sgrevelsrecht did, in a most
clegant Latin discourse, in the name of all the nobility, not only set forth the praises of the new inspector, but also exhorted all the members of that college to a due veneration for him, and to shew him all other becoming marks of respect. Witsius accepted, but with reluctance, this new province ; for, had he not judged a submission to the will of the states, and his laying himself out for the service of the church, to be his duty, he would not have complied with it. However, he executed this great charge with the greatest fidelity and care, for the advantage of, and with an affection for his pupils, equally with that of his professorship in the university: till, in the year 1907, on the 8th of February, on account of his advanced, age, and growing infirmițies, he, with great modesty, in the assembly of the Overseers and Burgomasters, notwithstanding all their remonstrances and entreaties to the contrary, both in public and private, and all the great emoluments arising therefrom to himself, resigned this other office; being at the same time also discharged, at his own desire, from the public exercises of his professorship in the university; for executing which in the old manner his strength of body was scarce any longer sufficient; the vigour of his mind, continued still unaltered; but as he often declared, he had much rather desist from the work, than flag in it.
And it is not to be thought, that Witsius would have been equal to so many and great labours, and the church and university have enjoyed so many and so great benefits by him, had he not foued at home the most powerful cordials and supperts; particularly in the choicest and most beloved of wives, Aletta van Borkhorn, the daughter of Wesselvan Borkhorn, a citizen and merchant of good character, at Utrecht, and a worthy elder of the church, and of Martina van Y sen; whom hę married in the middle of the summer of 1660, after three years spent in the sacred ministry. She was eminent for meekness, and every civil and religious virtue ; she loved and honoured her husband, in a manner above the common ; with whom he lived in the greatest harmony and complacency, about four and twenty years, in North Holland, Zeeland, Friesland, and at Utrecht ; at length, in the year 1684, after many great and long infirmities of body, was taken from him by a truly christian death. He was no less happy in his offspring, especially in three surviving daughters, Martina, Johanna, and Petronella, who were indued with every accomplishment that can adorn the sex, but especially in their duty and affection to their father, which they shewed, not only before, but more especially after the death of their mother.