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ANTONIUS WALAEUS (1573–1639)

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Antonius Walaeus was born at Ghent in 1573. Already as an eight-year-old, he received instruction in Latin and Greek from his ministerial uncle, for his parents felt called to train him early for the ministry. But it was not until 1588 that the youthful Antonius felt internally called to the ministry. While lying in bed one evening as a teenager of fourteen years, the Holy Spirit powerfully set him aside to the work of the ministry. Walaeus’s entire life was brought before him in a moment; the call was inescapable.

After telling his parents about what had transpired, Walaeus enrolled immediately in the Latin school at Middelburg. From 1596–1599 he studied theology at Leiden University under Trelcatius, Junius, and Gomarus. He lived with Gomarus during these years, and developed intimate bands of friendship with him (though they parted ways on the supra/infra debate—Gomarus being a supralapsarian; Walaeus, an infralapsarian). In 1600–1601 he studied at various schools throughout Europe, but primarily at Geneva where he also preached and lectured. In 1602 Walaeus accepted a call to Koudekerke (near Middelburg), where he was ordained. In 1604 he was made chaplain to Prince Maurice, after which he accepted a call to Middelburg (1605) where he was also appointed professor of theology (1609).

Walaeus rapidly became a trusted leader of Reformed orthodoxy. By the time of the Synod of Dort (1618–1619), he was naturally chosen as representative of the States General of Zeeland. Throughout Synod’s deliberations, Walaeus revealed himself as an able and wise opponent of Arminianism, whose remarks were tempered with an irenic and loving spirit. Not surprisingly, he was selected as one of the final composers and editors of the Canons.

In the synodical debate relative to Maccovius (see last month’s cover biography), Walaeus took the side of Ames, who argued against an intense form of supralapsarianism. Walaeus’s primary role in this debate was to supply Synod with careful, Reformed exegesis of critical passages—Romans 9 being the prime example.

In 1619 Walaeus was appointed professor of theology at Leiden. In his acceptance address, he stressed the glorious calling of God’s servants, underscoring that the purpose of the ministry was to aim for the honor of God, the salvation of souls, and the upbuilding of congregations. He emphasized the need for daily prayer and a godly walk, conjoined with serious study of the Scriptures.

For twenty years Walaeus served Leiden well. Throughout these years, both his lectures and writings had a profound influence on his students. In a pre-Leiden work, Walaeus opposed the views of Uytenbogaert on church government (Het ambt der kerckendienaren [1615]). In 1625, he co-authored with Leiden colleagues (namely, Polyander, Thysius, and Rivetus), Synopsis purioris theologiae, which was regarded for many years as the standard work for Reformed dogmatics. His personal theological position, however, is best revealed in his Synopsis, Enchiridion Religionis Reformatae, and his unfinished Loci communes theologici. Walaeus also rendered valuable service to Christian ethics by his Compendium ethicae Aris-totelicae ad normam veritatis Christianae revocatum (1627). In the controversy on proper Sabbath observance, he composed Dissertatio de Sabbatho, sive de vero sensu atque usu uarti praecepti (1628). He was also appointed to take the place of Faukelius (as one of three New Testament translators) in the new translation of the Bible made under the auspices of the States General. The first printing took place in 1637 at which time this translation became known as the Statenvertaling. The Statenvertaling is basically the Dutch equivalent to our King James Version, although brief commentary on the text is also included. (Unknown to most of our readers, the Statenvertaling—complete with commentary—was translated into English by Theodore Haak and printed in two large volumes in 1657 at London under the title, The Dutch Annotations Upon the Whole Bible. The translation is excellent, but the set is rare.)

Walaeus’s collected works were published posthumously (1647) at Leiden in two folio volumes. Sadly, none of Walaeus’s personal writings are available in English.

Walaeus was also very “mission-minded.” He did much for missions in the East Indies by opening, as early as 1622, a seminary in his house to train ministers. This became well-known in Leiden as the “Walaeus Seminary.” In the first ten years, Walaeus’s seminary trained and sent out twelve ordained missionaries to India.

In February of 1639, Walaeus was appointed rector of Leiden University for a third annual term. Even then, however, he had been speaking to close friends about his desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (Phil. 1:23).

His bodily powers were decreasing and his spiritual ripeness for glory was increasing. On July 9, 1639 he received his wish. Walaeus’s close friend and colleague, Polyander, spoke at his funeral, where he described Walaeus as a divine of “wise piety” and “pious wisdom,” “a man of peace who nevertheless remained solidly Reformed.”

May God grant us more “wise piety” and “pious wisdom” in our day of sin and ignorance.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 oktober 1989

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

ANTONIUS WALAEUS (1573–1639)

Bekijk de hele uitgave van zondag 1 oktober 1989

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

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