Goetschius, John Henry

Goetschius, John Henry a Reformed (Dutch) minister (son of a German minister who was sent over, probably in 1728, from the fatherland, to labor among the Germans- in and around Philadelphia), was born in 1718, in Switzerland, studied in the University of Zurich, and under Reverend G.H. Dorstius, in Pennsylvania, who, with Reverend J.T. Frelinghuysen, licensed and ordained him in 1738. He was settled successively in North and South Hampton, Pennsylvania (1738), in Jamaica, Newtown, and vicinity, on Long Island (1740) and at Hackensack and Schraalenburgh, N.J. (1748), where he died, November 14, 1774. The validity of his ordination having been questioned, he was newly examined and reordained in 1748, under the authority of the Classis of Amsterdam, by the Coetus. But while men disputed, God honored his faithful services, both before and after his second ordination, with frequent and great revivals. His whole ministry was contemporaneous with the agitation of the vexed question of education and ordination in this country, and especially in his last and longest pastorate in New Jersey, were the churches divided and troubled by its unfortunate developments. When the church was locked against him on Long Island, he preached on the steps, or under the trees, or in barns, or in private dwellings. It is related that on one Sabbath the chorister, who in those days announced the Psalms and hymns, gave out the entire 119th Psalm to be sung, to prevent his preaching. Once, when in danger of forcible resistance to his entering the church at Hackensack, he girded on his sword, and with it entered the pulpit, for in those days it was not unusual for clergymen to wear a sword, and carry it into the pulpit and place it behind them during the service. Yet Mr. Goetschius was a man of peace, a learned, pious, godly, faithful, and eminently successful preacher of the gospel in troublous times. He was also the theological instructor of a number of young men who rose to eminence and power in the Church, and who were the apostles of a liberal and independent ecclesiastical polity. Among these were professor Romeyn, the younger Frelinghuysens, Leeydt, and others. He was one of the original trustees of Rutgers College, and a leader in the forward movements of his denomination. "He was below the middle size, of a vigorous constitution, abrupt in speech, but his language was clear and expressive." One of his pupils, Dr. Solomon Froeligh, describes him as "a gentleman of profound erudition, a thoroughbred Calvinist, and an accomplished theologian." See Corwin, Manual of the Ref. Church in America, s.v.; Taylor, Annals of Classis of Bergen, page 180; Autobiography of Dr. S. Froeliyh. (W.J.R.T.)

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