Number 14 - The Catskill Patent No. 7 -
Domine Johannes Schuneman
Originally published in the Catskill Examiner by Henry Brace between the years 1876 and 1879. Article 14 was published on June 16, 1877. Extracted from the microfilm copies of the Catskill Examiner located at the Vedder Research Library. Transcribed by Barbara Bartley.
Local Sketches.--No. 14. An Outline of The
History of the Town of Catskill,
To The Year 1783. By Henry Brace.
Twelve or fifteen years ago a grand-daughter of Domine Johannes Schuneman gave me a pamphlet, which, being unique, I deposited in the Library of the Historical Society of New York, for safe keeping. It is a little book of about forty pages, now become musty and yellow by reason of age, is in Dutch, and was printed at Catskill in 1794, by Mackay Croswell & Co.
The Destiny of the Body and Soul after Death, is a Sermon commemorative of the Late the Reverend very Learned Mr. Johannes Schuneman, from Ecclesiastes, 12:7; Delivered in the Church at Catskill, the 25th of May, 1794; before his united Congregations of Catskill and Coxsackie, by Petrus Van Vlierden, Minister in the Reformed Church of Katsbaan of Saugerties.
Then follows a dedication to Madam Anna Maria Van Bergen, the widow of the deceased, to his four children, Johannes, Catharina, Marthen G. and Wilhelmus Schuneman, and to the Brethren and surviving Deacons of the united congregations of Catskill and Coxsackie.
The sermon which succeeds the dedication is divided into five divisions of Introduction, Connection, Proposition, Exposition and Application. These divisions are divided into sub-divisions, and these again into other division, and these again, until in the extreme method of the preacher one loses all perception of order.* [* The division named Exposition is divided as follows:
The division of Application contains a meagre sketch of the life of Johannes Schuneman. A translation may, perhaps, interest the readers of The Examiner. It will serve, at any rate, as an introduction to the scanty traditions which still remain of the first pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church at Old Catskill.
But it was not so with the deceased. According to what has come under my eye and has reached my ear, it seems to me that God’s greatness full early sank deep into his heart and awakened in him a desire for the service of His Ministry in the Church.
At least, having been instructed in the needful knowledge by certain ministers of the Church of God in this country, he (his manner of life and his studies being known to those living here at that time) was appointed both an ordinary Pastor and lecturer by these united congregations on the 12th of November 1751; but on this condition, that he should go to Holland, in order that, in accordance with the custom of the country and the church, he should be advanced to the office of an ordained Minister or Proponent.
He went thither in the year 1752. Your especial regard for him provided for him his considerable traveling expenses. In the great and world-renowned metropolis of Amsterdam he was publicly examined before the venerated Classis, and that with such high approval that his Reverence was immediately put on the roll of Proponents, and was recommended with large benediction-prayers to you, his own mourning congregations. God led him, assaying the dominion of the winds and the abysses of the watery deep, again safely hither, so that in the following year, 1753, he came to you with a sufficient certificate of the Classis, and was recognized by you and received by you with hearty joy. His Reverence probably preached his first sermon in August, 1753,(the 19th or 20th day of that month,) at Coxsackie, from Jer. 4: 6-8. His first two sermons here at Catskill were from Psalms 34:12.
In order not to be hindered in his holy service-work by the care of a household, better suited to a woman than to a man, his Reverence was judiciously led to think of the marriage state. He was married with Madam Anna Maria Van Bergen on the 18th of December, 1754. Of this marriage seven children were born, of whom four are still living, namely, three sons and one daughter, who, with their widowed mother, mourn the loss of a worthy man and father. The Churches, too, mourn the loss of a true-minded Pastor.
His last sermon--this is very remarkable--was from John 19:30--”Jesus said, ’Tis finished, and gave up the ghost.” In like manner, his work in which he was engaged among you for about forty-one years, appeared now also finished, his Master removed him from his post and called him home in order to give him the happy reward of his labor. He felt himself grow suddenly very ill, was seized with a lethargy, and waking therefrom, was found paralyzed of speech, so that he was not in a condition to express what he felt in his heart to the house-servants and attendants. His work then being finished, he gave up the ghost, dying on the 16th of May last, between eight and nine o’clock in the evening. At this time, in the course of a natural sleep, his body died, and his noble soul entered upon the unresting rest of its work in Heaven. A great company gathered at the house of mourning and proceeded to the graveyard on the Lord’s Day, the eighteenth of this month. I learned from this circumstance the depths of your love for him.
Thus it is then: He was born the 18th of August, 1712, and died the 16th of May, 1794, reaching the age of eighty-one years, eight months and eighteen [twenty-eight] days, a period of life, surely, which few attain to.
There lies then now at last, that ornament of the Almighty fingers, food for worms and ashes returned to earth. Those eyes are now closed, those hands idle, which were so often raised by you to Heaven. That mouth is now silent, and well remain sealed forever, that mouth which has so often declared before you life and death, blessing and cursing, salvation and condemnation, heaven and hell. This revered grayhead has closed his eyes to all the welfare of a sinful world, and remains in the chamber of the dead, listening for the sound of the last trump, that shall awaken him again out of his nothingness. As for his conversation and service among you; in a short time, during which I have lived in this neighborhood, I have had little opportunity to speak thereof from personal experience. I have only once had the satisfaction of meeting him, which was on the 13th of February in this year, when I preached here before this congregation. I then perceived in him the quality of his mental and moral endowments, and was inspired with an extraordinary esteem for him and wished to remain near his presence.”