THE AUTHOR’S LIFE.
HERMAN WITS (or, as he is commonly called, WITSIUS) was descended from reputable parents. His father, Nicolaus Wits, was a gentleman universally esteemed by his fellow citizens at Enkhuysen, to whom he endeared himself by his fidelity, modesty, justice, benevolence, and unaffected piety, in every character he sustained, either in the church or in the city; for in the former he was first a deacon, and afterwards a ruling elder; and treasurer in the latter. His mother was Johanna, a gentlewoman of great piety and prudence, the daughter of Herman Gerhard; who, after many dangers and distresses, obtained a calm and secure settlement in the church at Enkhuysen, where he preached the gospel for upwards of thirty years, with great reputation; and such was the affection he bore to his church, that he rejected the most profitable offers that were made to him.
The parents of our Witsius, having vowed to devote a child to the ministry, did upon the birth of this son, call him after his grandfather, praying, that in Herman the grandson, might be revived the spirit of the grandfather; and that, endued with equal, if not superior talents, he might imitate his example.
Herman Witsius was born on the 12th of February 1636, at Enkhuysen, a town of West Friesland; one of the first that threw off the Spanish yoke, asserted their own liberty, and, once enlightened with the truths of the gospel, retained the purity of worship ever after, and in the very worst times of Arminianism, continued, above many, steadfast in the faith. And though it was a place noted for trade and navigation, yet it produced men famous in every branch of literature; so that Witsius, even in his native place, had illustrious patterns to copy after.
The care which these pious parents took of young Witsius during his tender infancy, was not intermitted as lie began to grow; for, being still mindful of their vow, they brought him in a
the spiritual characters of the unregenerate, with respect to what is commendable in them; and of the regenerate, as to what is blameable and wants correction. At Leovaarden, he gave also in Low Dutch, The Lord’s Controversy with his Vineyard, and at the same time, briskly defended it against opponents. Of his Franequer labours, we have, besides smaller works, afterwards comprised in larger volumes, his Oeconomia foederum Dei cum hominibus, translated into Low Dutch, by Harlingius; and his Exercitationes Sacræ in Symbolum Apostalorum, translated also into Low Dutch, by Costerus. At Utrecht, came out his Exercitationes Sacræ in orationem dominicam; his Ægyptiaca and Decaphylon, with a dissertation on the Legio fulminatrix Christianorum, and the first volume of his Miscellania Sacra, and a good deal of the second; besides some smaller works also. And at Leyden, he published, at last, the second volume of his Miscellania Sacra, complete and at this last place he set on foot what he calls his Meletemeta Leidensia, to be occasionally enlarged with a number of select dissertations. Indeed, all these writings are justly in great repute, their style being polite, the subjects and the whole replenished with various branches of learning, and a beautiful strain of piety, all which may deservedly commend them to the latest posterity.
He had been often, formerly, afflicted with racking and painful diseases; whence sometimes arose the great apprehension of a far earlier departure by death. And nothing, under divine providence, but his vigour of mind, joined to his piety, could have preserved him so long to the world; and that with so perfect an use of his senses, that not long before his death, he could read, without hesitation, the smallest Greek characters by moonlight, which none besides himself could do. But with his advanced years, he sometimes had cruel fits of the gout, and stone in the kidneys; and once in the chair, in the midst of a lecture, a slight touch of an apoplexy. These disorders were, indeed, mitigated by the skill of the famous doctor Frederic Deckers; but now and then, by slight attacks, threatened a return for his wavering and languishing state of health, indicating the past disorders not to be entirely extirpated, gave apprehensions of a future fatal distemper; which was occasioned by the sudden attack of a fever on the evening of the 18th of October. This fever, though very soon removed, left his body exceeding weak, and his mind in a state of lethargy, an indication that his head was affected. The good man himself, considering these symptoms, with great constancy and calmness of mind, told the physician, and his other friends then present, that they could not fail to prove mortal. Nor did the slightness of the disease make any change in his opinion as to its fatal issue; while he foresaw that the consequences of an advanced age, and of the greatest weakness, could admit of no other event. Nor indeed without cause: for his senses were gradually weakened by repeated slumbers; however, about his last hour, he sensibly signified to Doctor Mark, who attended him, his blessed hope, and his heavenly desires, as he had frequently done before, and then about noon, on the 22d of October 1708, he sweetly departed this life, in the 73d year of his age, and entered into the joy of his Lord.
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