Ancillon, David

, an eminent divine, of the reformed church at Metz, was born March 17, 1617. He studied from the ninth or tenth year of his age in the Jesuits’ college, then the only one at Metz where there was an opportunity of being instructed in polite literature. In this college he gave such proofs of genius, that the heads of the society left nothing unattempted in order to draw him over to their religion and party, but he continued firm against their attacks, and that he might be the more enabled to withstand them, took the resolution of studying divinity, in which he was so indefatigable, that his father was often obliged to interpose his authority to interrupt his continual application, lest it suould injure his health. He went to Geneva in the year 1633, and | performed his course of philosophy there under Mr. du Pattr, and his divinity studies under Spanheim, Diodati, and Tronchin, who had a great esteem for him. He left Geneva in April 1641, and offered himself to the synod of Charenton, in order to take upon him the office of a minister. His abilities were greatly admired by the examiners, and his modesty by the ministers of Paris; and the whole assembly was so highly satisfied with him, that they gave him one of the most considerable churches, which was unprovided for, that of Meaux, where he exercised his ministry till the year 1653, and became extremely popular, raising an extensive reputation by his learning, eloquence, and virtue, and was even highly respected by those of the Roman catholic communion. He displayed his talents with still greater reputation and success in his own country, where he was minister from the year 1653, till the revocation of the edict of Nantes in 1685. He retired to Francfort after that fatal blow; and having preached in the French church at Hanau, the whole assembly was so edified by it, that they immediately called together the heads of the families, in order to propose that he might be desired to accept of the office of minister among them. The proposition was agreed to; and they sent deputies who prevailed on him, and he began the exercise of his ministry in that church about the end of the year 1685. It was now that several persons who had quitted the French church, for some disgust, returned to it again. The professors of divinity, and the German and Dutch ministers, attended frequently upon his sermons. The count of Hanau himself, who had never before been seen in that church, came thither to hear Mr. Ancillon. His auditors came from the neighbouring parts, and even from Francfort, and people, who understood nothing of French, flocked together with great eagerness, and said, that they loved to see him speak; a degree of popularity which excited the jealousy of two other ministers, who at length rendered his situation so uneasy that he was induced to abandon voluntarily a place from which they could not force him. If he had chosen to rely upon the voice of the people, he might have still retained his situation, but it was his opinion that a faithful pastor ought not to establish his own interests upon any division between a congregation and its ministers, and as through his whole life he had been averse to parties, and had remonstrated often against | cabals and factions, he would not take advantage of the disposition which the people were in towards him, nor permit them to act. Having therefore attempted every method which charity suggested without success, he resolved to quit Hanau, where he had to wrangle without intermission, and where his patience, which had supported several great trials, might possibly he at last overcome; and for these reasons he left it privately. He would now have returned to Francfort to settle, but in consideration of his numerous family, he preferred Berlin, where he received a kind reception from the elector of Brandenbourg. He was also made minister of Berlin, and had the pleasure of seeing his eldest son made judge and director of the French who were in that city, and his other son rewarded with a pension, and entertained at the university of Francfort upon the Oder, and at last minister in ordinary of the capital. He had likewise the satisfaction of seeing his brother made judge of all the French in the states of Brandenbourg, and Mr. Cayart, his son-in-law, engineer to his electoral highness. He enjoyed these circumstances undisturbed, till his death at Berlin, September 3, 1692, aged seventy-five years. His marriage was contracted in a very singular way: The principal heads of families of the church of Meaux seeing how much their minister distinguished himself, and hearing him sometimes saying, that he would go to Metz to see his father and relations, whom he had not seen for several years, were apprehensive lest they should lose him. They thought of a thousand expedients in order to fix him with them for a long time; and the surest way in their opinion was to marry him to some rich lady of merit, who had an estate in that country or near it. One of them recollected he had heard, that Mr. Ancillon having preached one Sunday in the morning at Charenton, he was universally applauded; and that Mr. Macaire especially, a venerable old gentleman, of very exemplary virtue and piety, and possessed of a considerable estate at Paris and about Meaux, had given him a thousand blessings and commendations, and said aloud to those who sat near him in the church, that he had but one daughter, who was an only child, and very dear to him; but if that gentleman, speaking of Mr. Ancillon, should come and ask her in marriage, he would give her with all his heart. Upon this, they went to ask him, whether he still continued in that favourable opinion of him; he | replied, that he did; and accompanied that answer with new expressions of his esteem and affection for Mr. Ancillon; so that the marriage was concluded in the year 1649, and proved a very happy one, although there was a great disparity of years, the young lady being only fourteen.

His library was very curious and very extensive, and he enlarged it every day with all that appeared new and important in the republic of letters; so that at last it was one of the noblest collections in the hands of any private person in the kingdom. Learned foreigners used to visit it, as they passed through the city of Metz, as the most valuable curiosity there. When he saw the catalogue of pretended heretical books, published by the archbishop of Paris, he laid aside all those books which were ordered to be suppressed, and they composed his library in the foreign countries which he retired to, for his own was plundered after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, nor would he have had a book remaining, if those which he had hid, had not been concealed from the persons who seized the rest of his library. The monks and ecclesiastics of Metz and the neighbouring towns had long coveted the library of Mr. Ancillon, and his being obliged to depart on a sudden gave them a fair pretence to take possession of it. Some of them proposed to buy the whole together, and others required, that it should be sold by retail; but the issue was that it was completely plundered.

His writings are but few, 1. “Relation fidele de tout ce qui s’est passe dans la conference publique avec M. Bedacier, eveque d’Aost,Sedan, 1657, 4to. This dispute which he carried on with M. Bedacier, is concerning traditions, and was managed on the part of our author with great success, but they had agreed not to print it, and it would have remained unknown, had not a spurious account appeared, in which it was stated that Anciilon had been defeated. 2. “Apologie de Luther, de Zuingle, de Calvin, et de Beze,Hanau, 1666, which is part of an answer he had prepared against cardinal de Richelieu. 3. “Vie de Guil. Farel,” or the idea of a faithful minister of Christ, printed in 1691, Amst. 12mo, from a most erroneous copy. He published also one fast sermon, 1676, entitled “The Tears of St. Paul.” But the work which contains the most faithful picture of his learning, principles, and talents, in conversation, was published by his son, the subject of the next article, at Basil, 1698, 3 vols. | 12mo, entitled “Melange critique de Litterature, recueilli des conversations de feu M. Ancillon.” There was likewise a new edition of it published at Amsterdam in 1702, in one volume 12mo, which was disowned by the editor, because there were several things inserted in ic, which were injurious to his father’s memory, and his own character. This collection of Ancillon was formed from what he heard his father speak of in conversation, and he has digested it under proper heads. It contains a great number of useful and curious remarks, although not wholly free from mistakes, some of the sentiments having been conveyed to the editor by persons who probably did not remember them exactly. 1


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