Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Caspar Schwenkfeld. They had been treated with such severity, that they were glad, though forsaking their worldly all, to seek a refuge among the Herrnhutters, where they might worship God according to what they believed to be the truth of the Gospel. The Count had interceded for them with the Emperor, Charles VI., but could obtain no liberty for them. They had therefore been received by him, as the Moravian emigrants had been. But in 1734, while the Saxon Government allowed the residence of the latter in Lusatia, the followers of Schwenkfeld were ordered to quit the country. Obliged to submit, they requested his aid in finding another place of refuge. He endeavoured to send them to Georgia, and wrote to the Trustees of that colony in London. They afterwards found an opportunity of proceeding to Pennsylvania, where, in comfortable circumstances, their families still dwell. Where Rome has power, to allow liberty of conscience is considered as a sin. Her unchangable rule is, “We are right, and therefore Protestant Governments ought to tolerate us : we are right, and therefore, where we bear sway, it is wrong for us to tolerate others." While Rome chooses to be thus belligerent, the liberty she allows to others should be the measure of that which is accorded to her.

In 1734, the Count, who had hitherto acted chiefly as an assistant to the regular Pastors of the church, went to Stralsund; and, after a regular examination by the Lutheran Consistory there, was regularly ordained to the work of the ministry. His labours, however, were little more than they had been; for this had been almost uninterruptedly his work. Missions to the Heathen still occupied the zealous attention of the church at Herrnhut; and Bishop Spangenberg, in his “Life” of the Count, gives in few words a fact, the consequences of which were far more important than any one could then have anticipated. On the 17th of September, 1735, the Missionary question was once more publicly considered, and several persons were despatched for Lapland and Greenland. “ A colony of the Brethren set out also for Georgia, with the intention of introducing the Gospel amongst the Indians, and I” (Spangenberg) 66 accompanied them thither.” A month afterwards, this “colony” (Sept. 21st) " sailed from Gravesend.” So we learn

[ocr errors]

from the “ Journal” of John Wesley. That this was the band of “Germans" with whom he sailed, and whose intercourse with him led, eventually, to such important results, is established by the same Journal. “Feb. 7th, 1736. Mr. Spangenberg, one of the Pastors of the Germans. I asked him with regard to my own conduct. He said, “My brother, I must first ask you one or two questions. Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?' I was surprised, and knew not what to answer.” This is the first reference in Mr. Wesley's writings to the “ witness of the Spirit.” The occurrence of the name of “Spangenberg "sufficiently identifies the “Germans" who were on board the vessel in which Mr. Wesley sailed to Georgia, with the “colony of the Brethren" who set out for the same place, about the time that some Missionaries were “ despatched to Greenland and Lapland,” from the Moravian settlement at Herrnhut. And they went to Georgia for the same reason which influenced him,—“With the intention of introducing the Gospel among the Indians,'—when he left Georgia: “The reason for which I left England had now no force, there being no possibility, as yet, of instructing the Indians.” But while the earth remaineth, the effects of his intercourse with the little colony, thus sent forth from Herrnhut, shall not pass away from the militant church. It is instructive, as well as delightful, thus to be able to trace the connexion of seemingly isolated facts, and to see them marking the same channel in which flow the living waters.

In 1735, David Nitschman, one of the Pastors of the church at Herrnhut, was ordained, by Jablonsky, CourtChaplain to the King of Prussia, and oldest Bishop of the Moravian Church, to be Bishop of the foreign churches of the Brethren. The Count was led to the adoption of this measure from his knowledge of the stress laid on episcopacy by the English Church, and his wish that the Missionaries sent from Herrnhut might meet with no obstruction from this quarter. In May, 1737, the Count himself was, in the same manner, ordained Bishop by Jablonsky.

It was in this year that he visited England, and that those conversations took place which Mr. Wesley has recorded in

his “ Journals.” There is no doubt but that many of the objectional phrases used by some of the early English Moravians, arose from the misunderstanding, on the part of the English converts, of doctrines with which, of course, the continental Lutherans would be familiar, and which they would hold in connexion with the other portions of their theological system. New doctrines, thus insulated, and as it were unchecked, may easily produce an extravagance of language that does not belong to the entire scheme, and which will disappear in proportion as the entire scheme becomes understood. No member of the English Moravian Church would, at the present day, employ such language respecting the use of the means of grace, for instance, as are found in the reports of some of their earlier proceedings by Mr. Wesley.

The Count still found that they who will live godly in Christ Jesus, must expect to suffer persecution. Scandalous reports were circulated against him in his own country; and, in consequence, in 1736, a sentence of banishment from Saxony was pronounced against him. During the years of his exile he travelled extensively. From London, he sailed to the West Indies. Returning to Germany, he travelled through Switzerland; and early in 1742 went to America, various parts of which he visited, as in Europe and the West Indies, preaching wherever he had an opportunity; which indeed, seldom was wanting. In 1743 he returned to Europe, and found that the Moravians had visited some of the southern Russian provinces, on the shores of the Baltic, and appeared likely to meet with success. The Count proceeded thither himself; but the Russian Government would allow of not the slightest intercourse with the inhabitants, and ordered him at once to leave the country. It was not till 1747 that the Saxon Government, at length convinced of the falsehood of the charges on which it had proceeded, allowed him to return to his own country.

For the greater part of the remaining years of his life, he was an extensive and laborious traveller, the concerns of his church always occupying his care. In 1749, he again visited England, and proceeded from thence to America, where he continued several years : indeed, after returning home, he soon commenced (in 1757) an extensive European tour.

In 1756, the Countess, his beloved consort, a woman of devoted piety and strong sense, and who in all respects had been to him a true “ yoke-fellow," died, trusting alone in the blood of atonement, and rejoicing in the hope of being “ever with the Lord.” In 1757, by the earnest counsel of his friends, who saw that, according to the constitution of their church, as a widower, his labours would be more circumscribed than were he again to marry, he married Anna Nitschman, daughter of David Nitschman, who had for many years occupied an important public situation in the church, whose character and abilities were judged suitable to that which she would have to fulfil as the wife of the Count. To birth and rank he did not look, but to suitableness of character.

After his return from his last European tour, the Count spent his remaining years in active, though calm and quiet, retirement at Herrnhut. He had lived to see the little cloud spread extensively. In many parts of Europe, in Greenland, in America, (where were Missionary settlements among the Indians,) in the West Indies, and in Africa, there were branches of the church which had been formed at Herrnhut with so small a commencement; and in 1759 openings were presented for a Mission to the East Indies. The first Missionaries were sent there in the September of that year.

In May, 1760, he had a sudden and violent attack of catarrhal fever, accompanied by an almost incessant cough, which prevented him from speaking much ; but his mind was serene and even joyful. The progress of the disease was so rapid, that it was soon seen that the messenger had arrived to call him home. On the 9th he said to one of his family, though with great difficulty, because of the cough, “I am going to the Saviour : I am quite resigned to the will of my Lord. If he is no longer willing to make use of me here, I am quite ready to go to him.” His children were sent for; but before they came to the room the power of speech was totally lost. He could only look at them with the most affectionate kindness, salute them, and by signs outwardly, and in his heart inwardly, bless them. His parting look was remarkably cheerful, serene, and expressive. A large number of the “ brethren and sisters ” had assembled; and in their presence, about nine in the morning, (May 9th, 1760,)“ he reclined his head on the pillow, his eyes closed of themselves, and he ceased to breathe.” He was buried on the 14th. The body was borne to the grave by sixteen Ministers of the Moravian church, relieved by sixteen others. In a few days he would have been sixty years of age. His second wife, whose health had been for some time failing, died in the course of the same month.

MINIATURE CHRISTIAN LIBRARY. No. X. CHRISTIANS OUGHT TO BE WELL GROUNDED IN THEIR BELIEF.—It is as necessary for you, as it was for the primitive Christians, to settle your profession of Christianity upon solid grounds; otherwise you are Christians but for the same reason that makes a Turk a disciple of Mahomet, or a Heathen a worshipper of the gods of his country; that is, because you were born in such a country, and under such a meridian. And can you be contented with so poor a pretence to the noblest religion ? and lay so sandy a foundation for your eternal hopes ? Besides, the day in which we live threatens you with bold temptations ; * and how will you stand, if you have no surer grounds? Infidelity is a growing weed; the contempt and ridicule of revealed religion flourish and become fashionable among the gay part of the world ; and if you are not furnished with some solid proofs of the Gospel of Christ, you may be in great danger of losing your faith ; you may be tempted to yield up your religion to a witty jest, and become a Heathen for company.--Dr. Watts.

DifficuLTIES AND OBSCURITIES OF SCRIPTURE USEFUL, AS SERVING TO PROMOTE HUMILITY AND MODESTY. — These difficulties are of great use to mortify our vanity; to put us in mind that we are but men, (Psal. ix. 20.,) and that by the power of our finite and limited capacities, it is impossible that

• This remark is not less applicable now, more than a century after the good Doctor's day.

« НазадПродовжити »