Dathenus Petrus

Dathenus Petrus, one of the Dutch Reformers, was born at Yperen, in Flanders. At an early age, he entered the Carmelite monastery at Poperingen. Here he became acquainted with the doctrine of the Reformation, and was so captivated by it that he soon resolved to leave the monastery and repair to England. In London he followed the occupation of a printer. Enjoying liberty of conscience under the reign of Edward VI, he applied himself diligently to the study of the Scriptures, in the knowledge of which he made such proficiency that he was soon admitted to the service of the Church. He soon left England, and entered on the work of the ministry at Frankfort. He subsequently sojourned in the Palatinate. Here he seems to have been held in high esteem. He was one of the five Reformed preachers who, in the presence of the elector and the duke of Würtemberg, held a disputation with five Lutheran ministers on the ubiquity of Christ's body. In 1566 he returned to his native land. West Flanders was at first the scene of his labors. He soon became known as one of the most zealous of the Reformed preachers. His enthusiasm, the cogency of his reasoning, and his rude but captivating eloquence, attracted multitudes. His audience sometimes amounted to more than fifteen thousand. His labors were not confined to Flanders, but extended to Zealand and other parts of Holland. Obliged to flee for his life, he again sought refuge in the Palatinate, and at Frankenthal, whither many Dutch, French, and Walloons had fled, he exercised his ministry. From here he went to Heidelberg, where he became court. preacher to John Casimir. In 1578 he was sent as delegate from Ghent to the General Synod at Dort, over whose deliberations he presided. He preached in various cities of Holland, but made Ghent the place of his permanent abode. Here he became involved in political affairs. His harangues so inflamed the populace that the Romanists were driven out of the city, and great excesses were committed in and around Ghent. As a consequence he was again obliged to flee, and again he sought and found refuge with his former protector, John Casimir. In the midst of his active and troublous life he still found time for literary pursuits. His translation of the Heidelberg Catechism into Dutch was adopted, and has, with slight modifications, continued in use to the present time. He also gave a Dutch versification of the Book of Psalms, according to the French of Beza and Marot. This was also adopted by the Reformed Church, and was used in public worship till 1773, when it was superseded by a version of higher poetic merit. His burning zeal and abundant labors contributed much to advance the cause of the Reformation in Holland.

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