Henrick de Jager (Hendrik Teunis de Jager) was an outstanding preacher of the Hamburg-Altona Mennonite Church in the first half of the 18th century. He was born 23 February 1690, the son of the preacher Henrik Teunis of Harlingen, Holland. He was given an education unusual at the time in science and linguistics, mastered Latin and the Oriental languages, thus becoming after Hoekstra the "first learned preacher of the church." Because of his talents and education much attention was early centered on him, especially in view of the current shortage of ministers. Following Hamburg custom he prepared himself for business as a vocation. At the age of 21 he was chosen preacher, and nine years later, in 1720, elder. His strength of character enabled him to overcome his physical weakness.
The congregation was in a period of fermentation and change, having just come through the Socinian storms raised by Galenus Abrahamsz de Haan. The foe was no longer the external one of government oppression, such as de Jager's predecessor, Gerrit Roosen, had struggled against in his booklet, Unschuld und Gegenbericht, but internal in the freer flow of spirit within the congregation. At the same time the church reached new cultural and economic prosperity, in spite of the heavy war levies and the burning of Altona in the war between Sweden and Denmark. Nevertheless de Jager maintained the traditional doctrine; indeed, in opposition to contrary opinion he held it the more carefully. But the inner relationship between congregation and pastor relaxed. A symbol of this change was the transition to a paid ministry. Thus de Jager stands at the threshold of the period in which a new type of minister was developing, with a new awareness of his calling.
De Jager led the church with a firm hand. After his ordination orderly church records were kept again, church discipline was exercised, and baptismal instruction prepared for life. Unfortunately there are no printed sermons from his pen. The speaker at his funeral, Karsdorp the Elder, gives this general characterization: "He preached Jesus Christ the Crucified as the foundation of salvation. He pointed constantly to the Word of God and sound doctrine." We can assume that he remained true to the irenic and practical views of Philippus of Limburg, his theological teacher, and that pietistic coloring, except in a few turns of phrase, cannot be found in him, in spite of the resemblance to Zinzendorf seen by Roosen.
With de Jager's collaboration, perhaps at his instigation, the first church school was established in Altona. The occasion for it was the fact that the Dutch language, used in preaching, writing, and church business, was being gradually replaced by German in the home and secular life, so that the oncoming generation scarcely understood Dutch. The schedule was not ambitious; it provided for the three R's, the main subject being Bible, with its adjunct, the singing of hymns. In connection with the school de Jager carried on extensive correspondence with Holland, Danzig, and Friedrichstadt. He was the founder of the church library at Altona, leaving to it much of his personal library.
De Jager's frailness and the death of five children caused him to live with his own demise in view. He died at the age of 59, on 10 April 1749. Gerrit Beets, in his introduction to Karsdorp's funeral address, called him a "pillar of the church." He is the author of Lykdicht ter heuchelyke nagedachtnisse van den Godzaligen Gerrit Roosen in zyn Leeven oudste Leeraar der Gemeente.
Bolten, Johann Adrian. Historische Kirchen-Nachrichten von der Stadt Altona, von der Herrschaft Pinneberg und von der Graffschaft Ranzau. Altona, 17xx.
Hege, Christian and Christian Neff. Mennonitisches Lexikon. 4 v. Frankfurt & Weierhof: Hege; Karlsruhe; Schneider, 1913-1967: II, 387.
Karsdorp, Gerrit. Over de doot van den eerwaarden H. T. de Jager. Hamburg, 1749.
Roosen, Berend Carl. Geschichte der Mennoniten-Gemeinde zu Hamburg und Altona. Hamburg, 1886-1887.
Wichmann, Ernst Heinrich. Geschichte Altonas. Altona: Haendcke & Lehmkuhl, 1865.
Cite This Article
Schowalter, Otto. "Jager, Henrick de (1690-1749)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 4 May 2015. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jager,_Henrick_de_(1690-1749)&oldid=65667.
Schowalter, Otto. (1957). Jager, Henrick de (1690-1749). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 4 May 2015, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Jager,_Henrick_de_(1690-1749)&oldid=65667.
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