Hudson Valley Dutch and Their Houses

Church and Sunday in Old New York,
page 13 of 16

Both were engaged in slander suits, the former as libeller and defendant; both were abusive and personal in the pulpit, “dishonoring the church by passion.” The former was alleged by his enemies to be frequently drunk, in church and abroad; and, fearless of authority, he seized the pulpit as a convenient and prominent platform from which he could denounce his opposers. From his high post he scolded the magistrates, called opprobrious names (a hateful offence in New Amsterdam), threatened Wouter Van Twiller that he would give “from the pulpit such a shake as would make him shudder.” He even arbitrarily refused the Communion, thereby causing constant scandal and dissension. The magistrates doubtless deserved all his rebukes, but in their written admonition to him they appear with some dignity, expressing themselves forcibly and concisely thus: “Your bad tongue is the cause of these divisions, and your obstinacy the cause of their continuance; “and it is difficult now to assign the blame and odium of this quarrel very decidedly to either party.

The domine did not have everything his own way on Sundays, for the Director drowned his vociferations by ordering the beating of drums and firing of cannon outside the church during services; and denounced the sermons in picturesque language as “the rattling of old wives’ stories drawn out from a distaff.”

The Labadist travellers thus described the Albany domine:—

“We went to church in the morning [April 28, 1680], and heard Domine Schaets preach, who, although he is a poor old ignorant person, and besides is not of good life, yet had to give utterance to his passion, having for his text ‘Whatever is taken upon us,’ etc., at which many of his auditors, who knew us better, were not well pleased, and in order to show their condemnation of it, laughed and derided him, which we corrected.”

In turn the Lutheran minister was dubbed by the Dutch domines “a rolling, rollicking, unseemly carl, more inclined to pore over the wine-kan than to look into the Bible.” And we all know what both Lutherans and Dutch thought of the Quaker preachers; so all denominations appear equally rude.

The salaries of the ministers were liberal even in early days; that of Domine Megapolensis (the second minister sent to New Netherland) was, I think, a very fair one.


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