Count Zinzendorf 1700-1760

Count Zinzendorf of Herrnhut and the Moravians, by Frederic Henry Hedge 1805-1890 p. 88-63


Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf.jpg

 

When the late Dr. Greenwood, the beloved pastor of King’s Chapel, Boston, published, in 1830, the collection of “Psalms and Hymns for Christian Worship” still used by that church, he made us acquainted with certain hymns, before unknown to most of us, bearing the title Moravian. Their deep inwardness, their trustful, undogmatic piety, made them at once the favorites of our worshiping assemblies. I need but cite their initial verses: —

“Thou hidden love of God, whose height,
Whose depth unfathomed, no man knows.”

“Oh draw me. Father, after Thee!
So shall I run, and never tire.”

“O Thou to whose all-searching sight
The darkness shineth as the light.”

“Give to the winds thy fears,
Hope, and be undismayed.”

“My soul before Thee prostrate lies;
To Thee, her source, my spirit flies.”

We welcomed these pieces as precious contributions to our stock of devotional poetry. We accepted the title “Moravian ” with no adequate understanding, I think, of the import of that term. The geographical appellation taught us nothing as to the tenets, the principles, and discipline of the people so named. Of this sect and their leader, Count Zinzendorf, I now purpose to speak.

The religionists whom we call Moravian are known among themselves as the “United Brethren,”Unitas Fratrum”. Such a fraternity had existed in Bohemia from the days of John Huss, in the early part of the fifteenth century, until 1627, when, amid the desolations of the Thirty Years’ War, in common with all non-Catholic churches it was, as an organization, forcibly abolished, though single families here and there still cherished in secret the old tradition.

The Moravian Brotherhood proper had an independent origin in the ministry of Christian David, a zealous evangelist, seceder from the Roman to the Lutheran Church. This man gathered a band of followers in Lusatia, and initiated in 1722 a settlement on one of the estates of Count Zinzendorf, then absent in Dresden, assigned to them by his steward with his written consent. The place was situated at the foot of the Hutberg, and was named Herrnhut, Lorc’s-care. When the existence of this asylum became known, it attracted not only-Protestant converts from Moravia who were subject to persecution at home, but also the scattered remnants of the old Bohemian fellowship, and thus became the historic successor and continuator of that ancient Brotherhood, witness of a foiled reformation of the Church which antedated that of Luther by a hundred years.

Herrnhut was planted; but the further developments and triumphs of Moravian Christianity demanded and found a leader who added to the piety and zeal of Christian David quite other and peculiar endowments.

Among the heroes of the eighteenth century there are three who are specially distinguished as leaders in religion, — Emanuel Swedenborg, Count Nicolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf, and John Wesley. Swedenborg, intellectually far superior to the other two, was not the intentional founder of a sect. The sect which has based itself on his doctrine was not of his ordering. He was no organizer. It was not his design that the New Church which he proclaimed should pose as a separate body; rather, it was to act as a leavening and transforming element in existing communions. The other two possessed in an eminent degree the gift of practical leadership.

Zinzendorf, our present subject, was born in Dresden on the 26th of May in the year 1700, — by twelve years the junior of Swedenborg, by three years the senior of Wesley. His father, a nobleman of ancient lineage who held the high position of prime minister at the court of the Elector of Saxony, died six weeks after the birth of his son. The mother, Charlotta Justina, Baroness of Gersdorf, married a second husband ; and young Zinzendorf , at the age of four, was committed to the care of his maternal grandmother in Hennersdorf, in Upper Lusatia. This lady, a friend of the famous Pietist, Philip Spener, who had officiated as godfather at Zinzendorf’s baptism, made it her chief end to awaken and foster religious sensibility in her charge. In particular she endeavored to impress upon him what to her was the ground truth of Christianity, — that the everlasting God, Author and Ruler of the universe, had suffered and died for our sake, and therefore claimed his uttermost gratitude and devotion. The impression thus stamped upon the soul of the child became the ruling idea of the man, — the master-motive of all his doing and striving. Through life he knew no God but Christ. As a preacher he instructed his hearers that “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, is not our father proper; to think so is one of the chief errors current in Christendom.” “The Father of our Lord is to us what in the world is called a grandfather or father-in-law.” “They who preach God the Father are professors of Satan.”

 At the age of eleven he was put to school at the psedagogium in Halle, of which the pious Francke was then director, and in 1716 was sent to the University of Wittenberg to study law. A proficient in the customary branches of polite learning, especially in the languages, of which he wrote and spoke Latin with great fluency, his chief distinction even then, in those academic years, was that of a religious zealot. He held prayer-meetings in his chambers, organized clubs for mutual edification, strove to convert, and sometimes succeeded in converting, loose associates who would tempt him to vicious indulgence. At the same time his high breeding, his frank, easy manners, and freedom from all that savors of sanctimoniousness precluded the aversion, not to say contempt, which college youth are apt to entertain for fellow-students of the pious type.

After leaving the university, in accordance with the fashion of the young nobility of that day, he spent two years in travel. In the course of his journeying his piety received at Dusseldorf on the Rhine a fresh impulse from the contemplation of Correggio’s picture of the Suffering Christ. He read the inscription: “Thus have I suffered for thee: what hast thou done for me? ” and then and there renewed his vows of a life devoted to the service of Christ.

In Paris he made the acquaintance of Cardinal Noailles, with whom he afterward corresponded. Evangelical as he was, and unproselytable, he gained the affection of the Romish prelate by virtue of that universalism of the heart which is independent of forms and creeds. His rank procured for him a favorable reception at the court of Philip of Orleans ; but the dissolute manners of the Regency repelled the unspotted youth. He found his best entertainment at the riding-school, where he won admiration by his superior horsemanship.

On attaining his majority, in compliance with the wishes of his uncle and guardian, who had destined him for civil service, he accepted the post of Councillor of Justice in Dresden. But his heart was not in it, and after five years’ trial he resigned his office, resolved to devote himself to what he regarded as his true calling, — that of Christian evangelist. He had no desire to separate himself from the Lutheran Church. His purpose was to form within that Church communities of such as desired to lead a more strictly religious life. But finding a community with similar views already established on his own domain, after careful study of their discipline and aims he was finally induced to make Herrnhut the basis of his operations, and in 1727 accepted the office of spiritual superintendent of the colony of which he was already the legal magistrate and liege lord. He had previously taken to wife Countess Erdmuth von Reuss, sister of Count Reuss, his lifelong friend.

Here we have the rare, if not a solitary, example of a youth of noble birth, endowed with wealth and personal graces, high cultured, with all that the world can give at his command, devoting himself in the morning of life, with all his havings and all his being, to the service of Christ, to the building up of the kingdom of Christ on earth. We have precisely the realization of what the young man in the Gospel, whom Jesus loved, failed to realize, turning away sorrowful, “for he had great possessions.” The Pietists at Halle, followers of Spener, looked with jealous eye on this great sacrifice, not made distinctively on their basis and in their service. They questioned its value, discredited its influence. “Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name; and we forbade him because he followed not us.” They insisted that the Count had not been converted; he had not passed through the regular stages of penitential struggle and ecstatic new birth; he might be a servant of God, but was not as yet an adopted child of God. Zinzendorf, far from resenting this allegation, took the matter to heart, and made it the occasion of rigorous self-examination. The result of his reflection was that Halle had no right to impose her methods as a universal test and condition of godliness; that one might rightfully attain to be a child of God independently of Halle.

He soon discovered that in order to labor with the best effect in the mission he had chosen, it would be necessary for him to enter the ministry. Accordingly, after some preparatory study he presented himself, under a feigned name, or rather one which really belonged to him, but which he had not been accustomed to use, as a candidate for orders, and obtained the desired license, in virtue of which he preached whenever he deemed it expedient to exercise that function. The step gave great offence to the Saxon nobility, as tending to abolish social distinctions and threatening the stability of their order. A noble in the pulpit was a dangerous innovation, a public scandal. In consequence of which, on some frivolous charge trumped up by his enemies, he was sent into banishment, a royal rescript requiring him to part with his estates and to quit his native Saxony. The sentence was afterward rescinded. Meanwhile the harm resulting from it was less than might have been expected. He made over his estates to his wife, and thanks to her wise administration, suffered no pecuniary loss. The community at Herrnhut was too well organized to need his personal supervision, while the cause of the Moravian Brotherhood could only gain from the missionary labors he now undertook on their behalf.

I have said that Zinzendorf did not intend separation from the Lutheran Church. He accepted without dissent the Augsburg Confession, the creed of that Church, and only desired a revival of practical religion by means of voluntary associations within that Confession. Nevertheless it was found desirable — in view, especially, of Moravian colonies abroad — to have an independent ecclesiastical organization. For this the old Bohemian episcopate, the original constitution of the Unitas Fratrum, offered a convenient basis. During a visit to Berlin the Count was urged by the King of Prussia, Frederic William I., who was strongly attracted to our hero and interested in his doings, to revive that Constitution, and obtain for himself episcopal investiture. Daniel Ernst Jablonsky, the leading German divine of that day, seconded the royal counsel, and referred the Count for further advice to his friend the Archbishop of Canterbury. Zinzendorf went to England and had an interview with Canterbury, who advised him by all means to resume and continue the episcopal succession of the old Bohemian Church. Accordingly, having previously submitted himself for examination and approval to a committee of the clergy of Berlin, on the 20th of May, 1737, Zinzendorf was ordained by Jablonsky bishop of the Moravian Church.

The King immediately addressed a congratulatory letter to the new Bishop, Ludovicus, as follows :

 Dearly beloved Lord Count, — It was with satisfaction that I learned that, according to your desire, you have been consecrated bishop of the Moravian Brethren. . . . That this transaction may redound to the glory of Almighty’ God and the salvation of many souls, is my heart’s desire. I am always your very affectionate, Frederic “William.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, in an elegant Latin epistle, cordially extended to him the right hand of fellowship, acknowledging in him a eoepiscopus and ecclesiastical peer.

Thus royally and prelatically auspicated and authorized, our Count proceeded to labor with added zeal in the service of a Church which, having now disengaged itself from the Lutheran (though still Lutheran in doctrine), and become a distinct and independent communion, might claim, in virtue of its Bohemian antecedents, to be the eldest of the Protestant Churches.

His life thenceforth is a history of administrative work and missionary operations conducted on a large scale in many lands. He visited England, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Prussia, Switzerland, the Danish West Indies, and in 1741 came to this country, having previously, in view of so long an absence, at a synod held in London resigned his office of superintendent of the Brotherhood in Germany, causing it to be transferred to an assembly called the General Conference. After landing in New York he proceeded to Pennsylvania, where he spent the better part of two years, residing chiefly in Philadelphia. At a meeting held in the house of the Governor of the province, — where, among others, Benjamin Franklin was present, — he stated that he wished, while travelling in this country, to drop his title, and to be known only as Brother Louis. A large portion of the population of the province were Germans. To those in Philadelphia and in Germantown, Zinzendorf preached in their native language, and was cordially invited to be their pastor. He accepted the office provisionally, until a permanent preacher from Germany could be obtained for their service. He aimed not so much to establish local Moravian churches as to kindle spiritual interest in other communions and to band together such as desired to lead a distinctively religious life. Some, however, he did establish. The Moravian Brotherhood in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, remains to this day a witness of Zinzendorf’s American mission.

In 1742 his romantic genius impelled him to undertake, in company with his fellow-laborers Bohler, Conrad, and Anna Nitschmann, who afterward became his second wife, a missionary tour among the Indians, chiefly Iroquois and Delawares. We have entries in his Journal which give us his impressions of savage life. Some of these Indians had been already converted. Concerning these he exclaims: “Oh, how ashamed we feel in the presence of these brethren, who must help themselves in the Saviour’s work with a language which is hardly better than the cackling of geese, while we, possessed of a language like that of the gods, can hardly express our hearts’ emotions! ” Any language which conveys no meaning to the hearer will be apt to have an irrational sound. The Count was not aware that his own godlike German was compared by the Emperor Julian to the cawing of crows. The faces of the Indians, he says, wear a dull, unhappy expression. “They have only one pleasant look, that is when they contemplate the wounds of the Lamb. . . . They are the most determined enemies of labor; they will sooner suffer the most pinching want than engage in any work. If an Indian puts his hand to anything, it is either because he has become a child of God or because from association with the whites he has acquired the spirit of covetousness, which is the root of all evil.”

He met in this tour a Frenchwoman, Madame de Montoux, widow of an Indian chief who had been killed in battle. “On seeing us she wept bitterly. I spoke of our affairs, and remarked that we had named our town Bethlehem. ‘That,’ she exclaimed, ‘is the name of the town in France where Jesus and the Holy Family lived.’ I inferred from this that what is reported of French missionaries is true. They teach that Christ was a Frenchman, and that the English were his crucifiers.

His stay in America was cut short by tidings of what he regarded as a misdirection on the part of the Brethren at home. The authorities intrusted with the management of the churches in Germany had adopted measures which tended to give the Brotherhood a more sectarian and separatistic position than accorded with his views. He was Lutheran before he was Moravian, and more Lutheran than Moravian still. Although for convenience of ecclesiastical functions he had accepted the office of bishop, it was not his design to cut loose from his native communion. In its civil relations the Brotherhood was still to be reckoned a branch of the Lutheran Church. But in his absence the Conference had taken steps which traversed this intent. He had resigned his authority so far as the Church in Germany was concerned, and had no longer any right to act as their bishop; but he now, without consent of any Council, resumed his episcopal function, and with autocratic inhibition reversed so far as possible the action taken in his absence. It is a proof of the astounding overweight of Zinzendorf’s personality and of the deep respect with which he was regarded by the Brethren, as well as their humble and peaceable temper, that such dictation was submitted to on their part without remonstrance. With all his piety and genuine devotion to the cause, he could not forget that he was a count, a feudal noble. As such he seems to have expected the same submission in things spiritual which people of his class were accustomed to exact in things temporal. Theoretically meek, as became a disciple of Christ, condescendingly gracious to his inferiors, professing himself their servant for Christ’s sake, he nevertheless preferred to serve by ruling. And he ruled in the main, it must be confessed, with consummate ability. The genius of leadership he certainly possessed, — the power to inspire in his followers unlimited confidence in his judgment. There had been in his absence an outburst of fanaticism among the Brethren in Germany, which assumed an antinomian character and threatened to make the name Moravian a synonym for lawless indulgence. This danger he averted by the timely interposition of his authority, exposing the error in which it originated, reminding the Brethren of the high moral standard of former years, and teaching them that the freedom in Christ which they boasted was not to be understood as emancipation from the moral law, but as free obedience.

Zinzendorf did not recross the Atlantic, but while an exile from his paternal estates led an itinerant life, visiting various countries in the service of the cause he had espoused. He spent four years in England for the more convenient supervision of the churches there established, and because England was the natural entrepot between the mother-church in Germany and her missionary stations in heathen lands. Here, in England, a new trial befell the Brotherhood, — a pressing financial embarrassment, due to the want of worldly prudence on the part of the Count himself. He had authorized, through his deacons, liberal expenditures for missionary and congregational purposes, without sufficiently calculating the means at their command. The deacons, unknown to him, had supplemented their means by borrowing. A heavy debt had been incurred. This could not last; credit failed. There came a crisis, hearing of which the Count, though not legally liable, stood in the gap. He assumed the debt, which he pledged himself to liquidate by instalments. The majority of the creditors accepted the terms; but some, who were bitterly anti-Moravian, insisted on immediate payment, and were minded to send the Count to jail for debt. To prevent this step, which would have been ruin to the Brotherhood in England, the other creditors, friends, and well-wishers of the cause came forward and satisfied the claims of its enemies.

In addition to his other labors, arduous and unceasing, imposed upon him by the daily care of the churches, Zinzendorf was an indefatigable writer. As many as a hundred volumes, still extant in different collections, are ascribed to him. They have never been published in a uniform edition, and — dealing, as they mostly do, with local and ephemeral topics — would have no interest now, except as characteristic of the writer.

He composed, it is said, five hundred or more hymns for the use of the Church. Many of these are still preserved in Moravian collections. Some of them were eliminated on account of the offensive imagery employed in treating the mutual love of Christ and his Church as a sexual relation. Others were rejected as trivial and beneath the dignity of the man and the cause. In the conduct of public worship he sometimes ventured to improvise hymns, which he gave out, verse by verse, to be sung by the congregation after the manner of the so-called deaconing of the hymn in Puritan New England. It sometimes happened that when a verse had been given out and sung, an appropriate rhyming word for the next was not forthcoming. In that case he supplied the defect by a meaningless sound, which met the vocal exigency if it did not satisfy the intellectual requirements of that part of the service. The devout congregation knew that though the Count might not always succeed with his rhymes, he always meant well; and so they obeyed the direction of the Chorus in “Henry V.”: —

 “Still be kind,
And eke out our performance with your mind!”

 His preaching is said to have been marvellously effective, especially in pathetic appeals. From a slight acquaintance, I should say it was often extravagant, and somewhat coarse. Here is an extract from a homily on his favorite topic, the wounds of Christ: —

“There is no more formidable law — the law of Moses and Moses himself was a mere poltroon compared with it — no law more formidable than the thunder-word of the Gospel, the soul-piercing sword of the wounds of Jesus. Well did the women of Jerusalem know it. O word of wounds! thou thunder-word, thou soul-transfixing sword! To think that Jesus was pierced and bored and mangled for all that we behold for the ground-stuff of time and humanity, for all the horrors that pass before our eyes, and for those that do not pass before our eyes, but within our knowledge, and that fill this earth-ball and desecrate and defile it! And for us, with our wretched hearts, for us who are so vile, whom he has to drag and carry, and must look through an astonishing magnifying-glass in order to see any reality in us ! He has to make his own heart, his bridegroom’s heart, a microscope, that beneath it our little mite of gratitude, our sun-mote of love, may seem to be all, so that he shall see nothing and care for nothing but that.”

The last years of Zinzendorf’s life were spent on his own estates and in the neighborhood of Herrnhut, the edict of banishment having been revoked. There, toiling faithfully to the end in the service of the Brotherhood, he died In May, 1760, in the sixtieth year of his age. His obsequies were celebrated with the pomp befitting the grandeur and priceless blessing of such a life. A procession of twenty-one hundred mourners, consisting of kindred, friends, admirers, the principal dignitaries of the Church from far and near, escorted by a military company of Imperial grenadiers, and witnessed by two thousand spectators, accompanied his remains to their grave in the beautiful cemetery at Herrnhut, where they still repose beneath the marble slab which records his name. It was noted as a happy coincidence that the scriptural watchword for the day was the text : “He shall come with rejoicing, bearing his sheaves with him.”

Herder, in the “Adrastsea,” says of him, “He left the world as a conqueror, like whom there have been few in the world’s history, and none in his own century.” A conqueror, indeed, whose conquests, attested by Moravian exploits, have dotted the globe with oases of holiness ; missionary conquests extending in literal verity from ” Greenland’s icy mountains” to ” India’s coral strand,” from the Cape of Good Hope to the shores of the White Sea, from Tranquebar to Surinam, from St. Thomas to Labrador, and gladdening our own land, in Georgia, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, with its gardens of peace. Methodism, the strong and many-membered body of the Methodists, may be reckoned one of his conquests. For did not John Wesley kindle his far-flaming torch at the altar of Herrnhut, making the long journey to Lusatia to verify with his own eyes the report which had come to him of the Brotherhood, and writing to them afterward, “We are endeavoring here also, according to the grace that is given us, to be followers of you, as you are of Christ”?

Zinzendorf was twice married, — first to Countess Brdmuth of Ebersdorf, a lady of his own rank; and after her death to Anna Nitschmann, who, in her character of deaconess to the Moravian sisterhood, had already proved an efficient helpmate. Three children were born to him from his first wife, — two daughters, and a son of great promise who died in early life.

As to person, the Count’s commanding figure drew the admiring gaze of passers-by as he walked the streets of London. His face in picture wears a look of imperturbable calm, with a hint of self- satisfaction in the eyes.

A conqueror, but no seer, no revealer, like Swedenborg, of original truth. Never did a spirit so intense inhabit intellectually so narrow a world. The sinfulness of man, and the wounds of Christ, were the two foci of the little orbit in which his being revolved. All beyond that was barren and void. The majestic volume of the Universe with its sacred scriptures, older than Hebrew or Greek, was unrolled to him in vain. Unknown to him the “sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused “than any lore of Palestine. Not through Nature, I think, not consciously through Nature, did God speak to him, but only through Christ. And the Christ whom he worshipped was not the divine teacher, not the high model of a heavenly life, but only the sufferer, the victim, —

 “The Master’s marred and wounded mien,
His hands, his feet, his side.”

 And yet, with astonishing self-ignorance, this man could say, ” I am not one of those who are satisfied with feeling; I belong to the class of thinkers.” He entertained the pleasant conceit of a private correspondence with the Saviour, who brought him temporal aid as well as spiritual blessing. Once at sea, off the Scilly Islands, a violent tempest threatened to drive the vessel on the rocks. Shipwreck seemed imminent. The captain in despair had resigned himself to his fate; but the Count assured him that within two hours the tempest would abate, which it actually did. The vessel was saved. “How could you know,” asked the captain, “that the storm would pass so soon?” “The Saviour told me,” was the reply.

The Moravians have a custom, much insisted on by Zinzendorf, known as the “watchword.” Texts are selected from the Bible and assigned in advance, at a venture, one for each day in the year. Out of three hundred and sixty-five days it would not be strange if occasionally the events of some particular day should fit the text set down for it. Thus, on the day when the Count met his followers in Bethlehem, Penn., to inaugurate the church in that place, the watchword for the day was found to be, ” This is the day which the Lord hath made: let us rejoice and be glad therein.” Such coincidences were believed to be divinely predetermined.

Another custom is the use of the lot to decide difficult questions, — such as the choice of a chief elder out of two or three esteemed equally competent, the adoption or non-adoption of some doubtful policy or proposed undertaking. I suppose many of us have had recourse to lot in some perplexing alternative. The doing so is a practical confession of the inability of the will to act without a preponderating motive. “We refer the matter, as it were, to a foreign agent, which some call “chance,” and others accept as the oracle of God. The Moravians, like the first disciples, use it always in the latter sense. But when we consider that the position of the slip on which the choice is inscribed, and the direction of the fingers which select it, if the act is honest, are determined by natural laws and depend on the action of forces, present and past, reaching back through all time, so that the drawing of that slip is a necessary result of the original constitution of things; when we think that the world in all its parts, through all its periods, must have been other than it was and is, had not that slip, but another, been drawn, — when we consider this, the supposition of a special Providence willing that result is a heavy strain on one’s faith. But faith is always beautiful, and criticism is cheap.

I have said that the Moravians are the oldest Protestant Church. I will add that, above all others, they most resemble the Church of the first disciples. More than any other, they have reproduced the original unity, the pristine brotherhood, of the followers of Christ. “No brotherhood, no Christianity,” was Zinzendorf’s motto. He did not care to found a sect; his aim was to gather into one, from all the churches, souls attracted to each other by common faith in the saving efficacy of the blood of Christ, and conscious of salvation through that faith. He regretted the tendency to separatism in the Brotherhood; but separatism was a necessary result of the hostility toward them of other communions.

As a separate fold they still survive and still retain the stamp of Herrnhut in their discipline and way of life. Undogmatic, with no enforced creed, no test of fellowship but their common faith in atonement by the blood of Christ, — secure in that, they cultivate a religion of trust, less passionate than Methodism, less formal than Quakerism, less sulphurous and grim than Calvinism. Heaven, not hell, is the staple of their preaching; love, not fear, the soul of their religion. The rant of the conventicle is not heard in their borders. They rejoice in skilled music and love-feasts; and if, on the one hand, they traverse nature by rigid separation of the sexes, they overcome, on the other hand, the weakness of nature by vanquishing the fear of death, treating it as a joyful return, a Heimgang, celebrated with triumphal music from the church tower, and symbolized by the beauty of their burial places, which they denominate ” Courts of Peace.

A religion of peace. Some of the finest spirits of Germany are among its witnesses. Schleiermacher and Novalis were reared in its fold. Goethe, in the “Confessions of a Beautiful Soul,” reflects its sweetness. Prince Bismarck, thanks to his Moravian wife, has been touched with its influence.

They survive, but they do not increase. The number of Moravians in Europe and the United States is estimated at twenty thousand souls. But mark, as proof of the expansive force, the spiritual reach, of Moravian Christianity, that this comparatively small body maintains, scattered among all the remote corners of the earth, eighty-two missionary stations, in which collectively the number of native converts amounts to more than seventy-seven thousand.

Their success with savage nations surpasses all other missionary triumphs. Whom none could influence, they have persuaded; whom none could enlighten, they have made to see. The Hottentot of the Cape, in answer to their patient appeal, cast aside the beast that he was, came forth a man, and entered the kingdom prepared for him too from the foundation of the world. The ice-bound Greenlander opened his tardy bosom to their solicitation as the arctic flora, starting from its long sleep, opens at last to the July sun.

Moravian communities have ceased to multiply. That tidal-wave of spiritual life which swept over Christendom during the first half of the eighteenth century has left its traces in churches that still survive and that mark the height of the swelling flood; but the flood ebbed, and no longer suffices for new creations. Nor is there, perhaps, any need of such. The principle of segregation, of local seclusion, which gave birth to the old Fraternities, as in mediaeval time it had given birth to countless monastic institutions, has done its work. It is not needful, it is not well, that the spiritually minded should dwell by themselves in separate folds. Better they should be dispersed, should mix with the world, and act as a leavening principle in secular life. The secular life must absorb the spiritual, must be permeated by it, transformed by it; else would the spiritual have no business in earthly places, and the human world would miss the true purpose of its being, dishonoring Him who willed it to be. The world is not doomed to be a godless world; it is to be the abode of redeemed and perfected man, the realization of all the ideals. Religion is one of those ideals, but not the only one, the chief, but not the only agency in transforming the world. There is a greater word than even religion, a word of farther reach, of more momentous import, including religion with how much else! That word is Humanity.


Martin Luther: and other essays by Hedge, Frederic Henry, 1805-1890 Publisher Boston: Roberts

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