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History of the Moravian Church by J. E. Hutton

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Zinzendorf found, to his great relief, that what had been a painful
struggle to him was as easy as changing a dress to Theodora. The
young lady gave Count Reuss her heart and hand. The rejected suitor
bore the blow like a stoic. He would conquer, he said, such
disturbing earthly emotions; why should they be a thicket in the way
of his work for Christ? The betrothal was sealed in a religious
ceremony. Young Zinzendorf composed a cantata for the occasion
{March 9th, 1721.}; the cantata was sung, with orchestral
accompaniment, in the presence of the whole house of Castell; and at
the conclusion of the festive scene the young composer offered up on
behalf of the happy couple a prayer so tender that all were moved to
tears. His self-denial was well rewarded. If the Count had married
Theodora, he would only have had a graceful drawing-room queen.
About eighteen months later he married Count Reuss's sister,
Erdmuth Dorothea {Sept. 7th, 1722.}; and in her he found a friend so
true that the good folk at Herrnhut called her a princess of God,
and the "foster-mother of the Brethren's Church in the eighteenth

If the Count could now have had his way he would have entered the
service of the State Church; but in those days the clerical calling
was considered to be beneath the dignity of a noble, and his
grandmother, pious though she was, insisted that he should stick to
jurisprudence. He yielded, and took a post as King's Councillor at
Dresden, at the Court of Augustus the Strong, King of Saxony. But
no man can fly from his shadow, and Zinzendorf could not fly from
his hopes of becoming a preacher of the Gospel. If he could not
preach in the orthodox pulpit, he would teach in some other way;
and, therefore, he invited the public to a weekly meeting in his own
rooms on Sunday afternoons from three to seven. He had no desire to
found a sect, and no desire to interfere with the regular work of
the Church. He was acting, he said, in strict accordance with
ecclesiastical law; and he justified his bold conduct by appealing
to a clause in Luther's Smalkald Articles.67 He contended that
there provision was made for the kind of meeting that he was
conducting; and, therefore, he invited men of all classes to meet
him on Sunday afternoons, read a passage of Scripture together, and
talk in a free-and-easy fashion on spiritual topics. He became
known as rather a curiosity; and Valentine Löscher, the popular
Lutheran preacher, mentioned him by name in his sermons, and held
him up before the people as an example they would all do well to

But Zinzendorf had not yet reached his goal. He was not content
with the work accomplished by Spener, Franke, and other leading
Pietists. He was not content with drawing-room meetings for people
of rank and money. If fellowship, said he, was good for lords, it
must also be good for peasants. He wished to apply the ideas of
Spener to folk in humbler life. For this purpose he now bought from
his grandmother the little estate of Berthelsdorf, which lay about
three miles from Hennersdorf {April, 1722.}; installed his friend,
John Andrew Rothe, as pastor of the village church; and resolved
that he and the pastor together would endeavour to convert the
village into a pleasant garden of God. "I bought this estate," he
said, "because I wanted to spend my life among peasants, and win
their souls for Christ."

"Go, Rothe," he said, "to the vineyard of the Lord. You will find in
me a brother and helper rather than a patron."

And here let us note precisely the aim this pious Count had in view.
He was a loyal and devoted member of the national Lutheran Church;
he was well versed in Luther's theology and in Luther's practical
schemes; and now at Berthelsdorf he was making an effort to carry
into practical effect the fondest dreams of Luther himself. For
this, the fellowship of true believers, the great Reformer had
sighed in vain;68 and to this great purpose the Count would now
devote his money and his life.

He introduced the new pastor to the people; the induction sermon was
preached by Schäfer, the Pietist pastor at Görlitz; and the preacher
used the prophetic words, "God will light a candle on these hills
which will illuminate the whole land."

We have now to see how far these words came true. We have now to
see how the Lutheran Count applied his ideas to the needs of exiles
from a foreign land, and learned to take a vital interest in a
Church of which as yet he had never heard.



It is recorded in John Wesley's "Journal,"69 that when he paid his
memorable visit to Herrnhut he was much impressed by the powerful
sermons of a certain godly carpenter, who had preached in his day to
the Eskimos in Greenland, and who showed a remarkable knowledge of
divinity. It was Christian David, known to his friends as the
"Servant of the Lord."

He was born on December 31st, 1690, at Senftleben, in Moravia; he
was brought up in that old home of the Brethren; and yet, as far as
records tell, he never heard in his youthful days of the Brethren
who still held the fort in the old home of their fathers. He came
of a Roman Catholic family, and was brought up in the Roman Catholic
faith. He sat at the feet of the parish priest, was devout at Mass,
invoked his patron saint, St. Anthony, knelt down in awe before
every image and picture of the Virgin, regarded Protestants as
children of the devil, and grew up to man's estate burning with
Romish zeal, as he says, "like a baking oven." He began life as a
shepherd; and his religion was tender and deep. As he tended his
sheep in the lonesome fields, and rescued one from the jaws of a
wolf, he thought how Christ, the Good Shepherd, had given His life
for men; and as he sought his wandering sheep in the woods by night
he thought how Christ sought sinners till he found them. And yet
somehow he was not quite easy in his mind. For all his zeal and all
his piety he was not sure that he himself had escaped the snare of
the fowler. He turned first for guidance to some quiet Protestants,
and was told by them, to his horror, that the Pope was Antichrist,
that the worship of saints was a delusion, and that only through
faith in Christ could his sins be forgiven. He was puzzled. As
these Protestants were ready to suffer for their faith, he felt they
must be sincere; and when some of them were cast into prison, he
crept to the window of their cell and heard them sing in the
gloaming. He read Lutheran books against the Papists, and Papist
books against the Lutherans. He was now dissatisfied with both. He
could see, he said, that the Papists were wrong, but that did not
prove that the Lutherans were right; he could not understand what
the Lutherans meant when they said that a man was justified by faith
alone; and at last he lost his way so far in this famous theological
fog that he hated and loathed the very name of Christ. He turned
next for instruction to some Jews; and the Jews, of course,
confirmed his doubts, threw scorn upon the whole New Testament, and
endeavoured to convince him that they alone were the true Israel of

He turned next to the Bible, and the fog lifted a little {1710.}.
He read the Old Testament carefully through, to see if the
prophecies there had been fulfilled; and, thereby, he arrived at the
firm belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah. He then mastered
the New Testament, and came to the equally firm conclusion that the
Bible was the Word of God.

And even yet he was not content. As long as he stayed in Catholic
Moravia he would have to keep his new convictions a secret; and,
longing to renounce the Church of Rome in public, he left Moravia,
passed through Hungary and Silesia, and finally became a member of a
Lutheran congregation at Berlin.

But the Lutherans seemed to him very stiff and cold. He was seeking
for a pearl of great price, and so far he had failed to find it. He
had failed to find it in the Church of Rome, failed to find it in
the Scriptures, and failed to find it in the orthodox Protestants of
Berlin. He had hoped to find himself in a goodly land, where men
were godly and true; and he found that even the orthodox Protestants
made mock of his pious endeavours. He left Berlin in disgust, and
enlisted in the Prussian Army. He did not find much piety there. He
served in the war against Charles XII. of Sweden {1715.}, was
present at the siege of Stralsund, thought soldiers no better than
civilians, accepted his discharge with joy, and wandered around from
town to town, like the old philosopher seeking an honest man. At
last, however, he made his way to the town of Görlitz, in Silesia
{1717.}; and there he came into personal contact with two Pietist
clergymen, Schäfer and Schwedler. For the first time in his weary
pilgrimage he met a pastor who was also a man. He fell ill of a
dangerous disease; he could not stir hand or foot for twenty weeks;
he was visited by Schwedler every day; and thus, through the gateway
of human sympathy, he entered the kingdom of peace, and felt assured
that all his sins were forgiven. He married a member of Schwedler's
Church, was admitted to the Church himself, and thus found, in
Pietist circles, that very spirit of fellowship and help which
Zinzendorf himself regarded as the greatest need of the Church.

But now Christian David must show to others the treasure he had
found for himself. For the next five years he made his home at
Görlitz; but, every now and then, at the risk of his life, he would
take a trip to Moravia, and there tell his old Protestant friends
the story of his new-found joy. He preached in a homely style; he
had a great command of Scriptural language; he was addressing men
who for many years had conned their Bibles in secret; and thus his
preaching was like unto oil on a smouldering fire, and stirred to
vigorous life once more what had slumbered for a hundred years since
the fatal Day of Blood. He tramped the valleys of Moravia; he was
known as the Bush Preacher, and was talked of in every market-place;
the shepherds sang old Brethren's hymns on the mountains; a new
spirit breathed upon the old dead bones; and thus, through the
message of this simple man, there began in Moravia a hot revival of
Protestant zeal and hope. It was soon to lead to marvellous

For the last three hundred and forty years there had been
established in the neighbourhood of Fulneck, in Moravia, a colony of
Germans.70 They still spoke the German language; they lived in
places bearing German names and bore German names themselves; they
had used a German version of the Bible and a German edition of the
Brethren's Hymns; and thus, when David's trumpet sounded, they were
able to quit their long-loved homes and settle down in comfort on
German soil. At Kunewalde71 dwelt the Schneiders and Nitschmanns;
at Zauchtenthal the Stachs and Zeisbergers; at Sehlen the Jaeschkes
and Neissers; and at Senftleben, David's old home, the Grassmanns.
For such men there was now no peace in their ancient home. Some
were imprisoned; some were loaded with chains; some were yoked to
the plough and made to work like horses; and some had to stand in
wells of water until nearly frozen to death. And yet the star of
hope still shone upon them. As the grand old patriarch, George
Jaeschke, saw the angel of death draw near, he gathered his son and
grandsons round his bed, and spoke in thrilling, prophetic words of
the remnant that should yet be saved.

"It is true," said he, "that our liberties are gone, and that our
descendants are giving way to a worldly spirit, so that the Papacy
is devouring them. It may seem as though the final end of the
Brethren's Church had come. But, my beloved children, you will see
a great deliverance. The remnant will be saved. How, I cannot say;
but something tells me that an exodus will take place; and that a
refuge will be offered in a country and on a spot where you will be
able, without fear, to serve the Lord according to His holy Word."

The time of deliverance had come. As Christian David heard of the
sufferings which these men had now to endure, his blood boiled with
anger. He resolved to go to their rescue. The path lay open. He
had made many friends in Saxony. His friend Schäfer introduced him
to Rothe; Rothe introduced him to Zinzendorf; and Christian David
asked the Count for permission to bring some persecuted Protestants
from Moravia to find a refuge in Berthelsdorf. The conversation was
momentous. The heart of the Count was touched. If these men, said
he, were genuine martyrs, he would do his best to help them; and he
promised David that if they came he would find them a place of
abode. The joyful carpenter returned to Moravia, and told the news
to the Neisser family at Sehlen. "This," said they, "is God's doing;
this is a call from the Lord."

And so, at ten o'clock one night, there met at the house of Jacob
Neisser, in Sehlen, a small band of emigrants {May 27th, 1722.}. At
the head of the band was Christian David; and the rest of the little
group consisted of Augustin and Jacob Neisser, their wives and
children, Martha Neisser, and Michael Jaeschke, a cousin of the
family.72 We know but little about these humble folk; and we cannot
be sure that they were all descendants of the old Church of the
Brethren. Across the mountains they came, by winding and unknown
paths. For the sake of their faith they left their goods and
chattels behind; long and weary was the march; and at length, worn
out and footsore, they arrived, with Christian David at their head,
at Zinzendorf's estate at Berthelsdorf {June 8th, 1722.}.

The streams had met: the new river was formed; and thus the course
of Renewed Brethren's History had begun.



As these wanderers from a foreign land had not been able to bring in
their pockets certificates of orthodoxy, and might, after all, be
dangerous heretics, it occurred to Zinzendorf's canny steward,
Heitz, that on the whole it would be more fitting if they settled,
not in the village itself, but at a safe and convenient distance.
The Count was away; the steward was in charge; and the orthodox
parish must not be exposed to infection. As the Neissers, further,
were cutlers by trade, there was no need for them in the quiet
village. If they wished to earn an honest living they could do it
better upon the broad high road.

For these reasons, therefore, he led the exiles to a dismal, swampy
stretch of ground about a mile from the village; and told them for
the present to rest their bones in an old unfinished farmhouse {June
8th, 1722.}. The spot itself was dreary and bleak, but the
neighbouring woods of pines and beeches relieved the bareness of the
scene. It was part of Zinzendorf's estate, and lay at the top of a
gentle slope, up which a long avenue now leads. It was a piece of
common pasture ground, and was therefore known as the Hutberg,73 or
Watch-Hill. It was on the high road from Löbau to Zittau; it was
often used as a camping ground by gypsies and other pedlars; and the
road was in such a disgusting state that wagons sometimes sank axle
deep in the mud. For the moment the refugees were sick at heart.

"Where," said Mrs. Augustin Neisser, "shall we find bread in this

"If you believe," said Godfrey Marche, tutor to Lady Gersdorf's
granddaughters, "you shall see the glory of God."

The steward was quite concerned for the refugees. As he strolled
around inspecting the land he noticed one particular spot where a
thick mist was rising; and concluding that there a spring was sure
to be found, he offered a prayer on their behalf, and registered the
solemn vow, "Upon this spot, in Thy name, I will build for them the
first house." He laid their needs before Lady Gersdorf, and the
good old poetess kindly sent them a cow; he inspected the site with
Christian David, and marked the trees he might fell; and thus
encouraged, Christian David seized his axe, struck it into a tree,
and, as he did so, exclaimed, "Yea, the sparrow hath found a house,
and the swallow a nest for herself."74 {June 17th, 1722.}

The first step in the building of Herrnhut had been taken. For some
weeks the settlers had still to eat the bread of bitterness and
scorn. It was long before they could find a spring of water. The
food was poor, the children fell ill; the folk in the neighbourhood
laughed; and even when the first house was built they remarked that
it would not be standing long.

But already Christian David had wider plans. Already in vivid
imagination he saw a goodly city rise, mapped out the courts and
streets in his mind, and explained his glowing schemes to the
friendly Heitz. The steward himself was carried away with zeal.
The very name of the hill was hailed as a promising omen. "May God
grant," wrote Heitz to the Count, "that your excellency may be able
to build on the hill called the Hutberg a town which may not only
itself abide under the Lord's Watch (Herrnhut), but all the
inhabitants of which may also continue on the Lord's Watch, so that
no silence may be there by day or night." It was thus that Herrnhut
received the name which was soon to be famous in the land; and thus
that the exiles, cheered anew, resolved to build a glorious City of

"We fear," they wrote to the Count himself, "that our settling here
may be a burden to you; and therefore we most humbly entreat you to
grant us your protection, to continue to help us further still, and
to show kindness and love to us poor distressed and simple-minded

As the building of the first house proceeded the pious Heitz grew
more and more excited. He drove in the first nail; he helped to fix
the first pillar; and, finally, when the house was ready, he opened
it in solemn religious style, and preached a sort of prophetic
sermon about the holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God
out of heaven. The Count himself soon blessed the undertaking. As
he drove along, one winter night, on the road from Strahwalde to
Hennersdorf, he saw a strange light shining through the trees {Dec.
2nd.}. He asked what the light could mean. There, he was told, the
Moravian refugees had built the first house on his estate. He
stopped the carriage, entered the house, assured the inmates of his
hearty goodwill, fell down on his knees, and commended the
enterprise to the care of God.

Again the restless David was on the move. As he knelt one day to
fix a plank in the new manor-house which Zinzendorf was building in
the village, it suddenly flashed on his busy brain that he ought to
do something out of the common to show his gratitude to God {1723.}.
His wife had just passed through a dangerous illness; he had vowed
to God that if she recovered he would go to Moravia again; and,
throwing down his tools on the spot, he darted off in his working
clothes, and without a hat on his head, and made his way once more
to Sehlen, the old home of the Neissers. He brought a letter from
the Neissers in his pocket; he urged the rest of the family to cross
the border; and the result was that before many days were gone a
band of eighteen more emigrants were on their way to Herrnhut.

His next step had still more momentous results. As he made his way
from town to town, and urged his friends to come to "David's City,"
he had no further aim than to find a home where Protestants could
live in peace and comfort. He knew but little, if anything at all,
of the old Church of the Brethren; he had never been a member of
that Church himself; he had no special interest in her welfare; and
the emigrants whom he had brought to Herrnhut were mostly
evangelical folk who had been awakened by the preaching of the
Pietist pastor, Steinmetz, of Teschen. But now, in the village of
Zauchtenthal, he found a band of five young men whose bosoms glowed
with zeal for the ancient Church. They were David Nitschmann I.,
the Martyr; David Nitschmann II., the first Bishop of the Renewed
Church; David Nitschmann III., the Syndic; Melchior Zeisberger, the
father of the apostle to the Indians; and John Toeltschig, one of
the first Moravian preachers in Yorkshire. They were genuine sons
of the Brethren; they used the Catechism of Comenius; they sang the
Brethren's hymns in their homes; and now they were looking wistfully
forward to the time when the Church would renew her strength like
the eagle's. For some months they had made their native village the
centre of an evangelical revival. At last events in the village
came to a crisis; the young men were summoned before the village
judge; and the judge, no other than Toeltschig's father, commanded
them to close their meetings, and to take their share, like decent
fellows, in the drunken jollifications at the public-house. For the
brave "Five Churchmen" there was now no way but one. Forthwith they
resolved to quit Moravia, and seek for other Brethren at Lissa, in
Poland {May 2nd, 1724.}; and the very next night they set out on
their journey, singing the Moravian Emigrants' song:--

Blessed be the day when I must roam,
Far from my country, friends and home,
An exile poor and mean;
My father's God will be my guide,
Will angel guards for me provide,
My soul in dangers screen.
Himself will lead me to a spot
Where, all my cares and griefs forgot,
I shall enjoy sweet rest.
As pants for cooling streams the hart,
I languish for my heavenly part,
For God, my refuge blest.

For them the chosen haven of rest was Lissa. There the great
Comenius had taught; and there, they imagined, Brethren lingered
still. As they had, however, heard a good deal from David of the
"town" being built at Herrnhut, they resolved to pay a passing call
on their way. At Lower Wiese they called on Pastor Schwedler. He
renewed their zeal for the Church in glowing terms.

"My children," he said, "do you know whose descendants you are? It
is a hundred years since the persecutions began against your
fathers. You are now to enjoy among us that liberty of conscience
for the sake of which they shed their blood. We shall see you
blossom and flourish in our midst."

It was a memorable day when they arrived at Herrnhut {May 12th,
1724.}. The first sight of the holy city did not impress them. The
excited David had painted a rosy picture. They expected to find a
flourishing town, and all they saw was three small houses, of which
only one was finished.

"If three houses make a city," said David Nitschmann, "there are
worse places than Herrnhut."

And yet there was something to look at after all. At a little
distance from the three small houses, sat Friedrich de Watteville on
a log of wood; Christian David was working away at another building;
in the afternoon the Count and Countess appeared; and the Count then
laid the foundation stone of a college for noblemen's sons. They
stayed to see the ceremony. They heard the Count deliver an
impressive speech. They heard de Watteville offer a touching
prayer. They saw him place his jewels under the stone. They were
touched; they stayed; and became the firmest pillars of the rising

And now the stream from Moravia increased in force and volume.
Again and again, ten times in all, did the roving David journey to
the Moravian dales; and again and again did the loud blast of the
trombones in the square announce that yet another band of refugees
had arrived. Full many a stirring and thrilling tale had the
refugees to tell; how another David Nitschmann, imprisoned in a
castle, found a rope at his window and escaped; how David Schneider
and another David Nitschmann found their prison doors open; how
David Hickel, who had been nearly starved in a dungeon, walked out
between his guards in broad daylight, when their backs were turned;
how Andrew Beier and David Fritsch had stumbled against their prison
door and found that the bolt was loose; how Hans Nitschmann,
concealed in a ditch, heard his pursuers, a foot off, say, "This is
the place, here he must be," and yet was not discovered after all.
No wonder these wanderers felt that angels had screened them on
their way. For the sake of their faith they had been imprisoned,
beaten, thrust into filthy dungeons. For the sake of their faith
they had left behind their goods, their friends, their worldly
prospects, had tramped the unknown mountain paths, had slept under
hedges, had been attacked by robbers. And now, for the sake of this
same faith, these men, though sons of well-to-do people, settled
down to lives of manual toil in Herrnhut. And the numbers swelled;
the houses rose; and Herrnhut assumed the shape of a hollow square.

At this point, however, a difficulty arose. As the rumour spread in
the surrounding country that the Count had offered his estate as an
asylum for persecuted Protestants all sorts of religious malcontents
came to make Herrnhut their home. Some had a touch of Calvinism,
and were fond of discussing free will and predestination; some were
disciples of the sixteenth century Anabaptist mystic, Casper
Schwenkfeld; some were vague evangelicals from Swabia; some were
Lutheran Pietists from near at hand; and some, such as the "Five
Churchmen," were descendants of the Brethren's Church, and wished to
see her revived on German soil. The result was dissension in the
camp. As the settlement grew larger things grew worse. As the
settlers learned to know each other better they learned to love each
other less. As poverty crept in at the door love flew out of the
window. Instead of trying to help each other, men actually tried to
cut each other out in business, just like the rest of the world. As
the first flush of joy died away, men pointed out each other's
motes, and sarcasm pushed charity from her throne; and, worse than
all, there now appeared that demon of discord, theological dispute.
The chief leader was a religious crank, named Krüger. He was, of
course, no descendant of the Brethren's Church. He had quarrelled
with a Lutheran minister at Ebersdorf, had been promptly excluded
from the Holy Communion, and now came whimpering to Herrnhut, and
lifted up his voice against the Lutheran Church. he did not possess
the garment of righteousness, he decked himself out with sham
excitement and rhetoric; and, as these are cheap ribbons and make a
fine show, he soon gained a reputation as a saint. He announced
that he had been commissioned by God with the special task of
reforming Count Zinzendorf; described Rothe as the "False Prophet"
and Zinzendorf as "The Beast"; denounced the whole Lutheran Church
as a Babylon, and summoned all in Herrnhut to leave it; and
altogether made such a show of piety and holy devotion to God that
his freaks and crotchets and fancies and vagaries were welcomed by
the best of men, and poisoned the purest blood. His success was
marvellous. As the simple settlers listened to his rapt orations
they became convinced that the Lutheran Church was no better than a
den of thieves; and the greater number now refused to attend the
Parish Church, and prepared to form a new sect. Christian David
himself was led away. He walked about like a shadow; he was sure
that Krüger had a special Divine revelation; he dug a private well
for himself, and built himself a new house a few yards from the
settlement, so that he might not be smirched by the pitch of
Lutheran Christianity. Worse and ever worse waxed the confusion.
More "horrible"75 became the new notions. The eloquent Krüger went
out of his mind; and was removed to the lunatic asylum at Berlin.
But the evil that he had done lived after him. The whole city on
the hill was now a nest of fanatics. It was time for the Count
himself to interfere.

For the last five years, while Herrnhut was growing, the Count had
almost ignored the refugees; and had quietly devoted his leisure
time to his darling scheme of establishing a village "Church within
the Church" at Berthelsdorf. He had still his official State duties
to perform. He was still a King's Councillor at Dresden. He spent
the winter months in the city and the summer at his country-seat;
and as long as the settlers behaved themselves as loyal sons of the
Lutheran Church he saw no reason to meddle in their affairs. He
had, moreover, taken two wise precautions. He had first issued a
public notice that no refugee should settle at Herrnhut unless
compelled by persecution; and secondly, he had called a meeting of
the refugees themselves, and persuaded them to promise that in all
their gatherings they would remain loyal to the Augsburg Confession.

Meanwhile, in the village itself, he had pushed his scheme with
vigour. He named his house Bethel; his estate was his parish; and
his tenants were his congregation. He had never forgotten his
boyish vow to do all in his power to extend the Kingdom of Christ;
and now he formed another society like the old Order of the Mustard
Seed. It was called the "League of the Four Brethren"; it consisted
of Zinzendorf, Friedrich de Watteville, and Pastors Rothe and
Schäfer; and its object was to proclaim to the world, by means of a
league of men devoted to Christ, "that mystery and charm of the
Incarnation which was not yet sufficiently recognized in the
Church." He had several methods of work. As he wished to reach the
young folk of noble rank, he had a school for noblemen's sons built
on the Hutberg, and a school for noblemen's daughters down in the
village; and the members of the League all signed an agreement to
subscribe the needful funds for the undertaking. As he wished,
further, to appeal to men in various parts of the country, he
established a printing-office at Ebersdorf, and from that office
sent books, pamphlets, letters, and cheap editions of the Bible in
all directions. As he longed, thirdly, for personal contact with
leading men in the Church, he instituted a system of journeys to
Halle and other centres of learning and piety. But his best work
was done in Berthelsdorf. His steward, Heitz, gave the rustics
Bible lessons; Pastor Rothe preached awakening sermons in the parish
church, and his preaching was, as the Count declared, "as though it
rained flames from heaven"; and he himself, in the summer season,
held daily singing meetings and prayer meetings in his own house.
Hand in hand did he and Rothe work hard for the flock at
Berthelsdorf. On a Sunday morning the pastor would preach a telling
sermon in a crowded church; in the afternoon the squire would gather
his tenants in his house and expound to them the morning's
discourse. The whole village was stirred; the Church was enlarged;
and the Count himself was so in earnest that if the slightest hitch
occurred in a service he would burst into tears. While things in
Herrnhut were growing worse things in Berthelsdorf were growing
better; while stormy winds blew on the hill there was peace and
fellowship down in the valley. How closely the Count and the pastor
were linked may be seen from the following fact. The Count's family
pew in the Church was a small gallery or raised box over the vestry;
the box had a trap-door in the floor; the pastor, according to
Lutheran custom, retired to the vestry at certain points in the
service; and the Count, by opening the aforesaid door, could
communicate his wishes to the pastor.

He had now to apply his principles to Herrnhut. As long as the
settlers had behaved themselves well, and kept their promise to be
loyal to the National Church, he had left them alone to follow their
own devices; and even if they sang old Brethren's hymns at their
meetings, he had no insuperable objection. But now the time had
come to take stern measures. He had taken them in out of charity;
he had invited them to the meetings in his house; and now they had
turned the place into a nest of scheming dissenters. There was war
in the camp. On the one hand, Christian David called Rothe a
narrow-minded churchman. On the other hand, Rothe thundered from
his pulpit against the "mad fanatics" on the hill. As Jew and
Samaritan in days of old, so now were Berthelsdorf and Herrnhut.

At this critical point the Count intervened, and changed the duel
into a duet {1727.}. He would have no makers of sects on his
estate. With all their faults, he believed that the settlers were
at bottom broad-minded people. Only clear away the rubbish and the
gold would be found underneath.

"Although our dear Christian David," he said, "was calling me the
Beast and Mr. Rothe the False Prophet, we could see his honest heart
nevertheless, and knew we could lead him right. It is not a bad
maxim," he added, "when honest men are going wrong to put them into
office, and they will learn from experience what they will never
learn from speculation."

He acted on that maxim now. He would teach the exiles to obey the
law of the land, to bow to his authority as lord of the manor, and
to live in Christian fellowship with each other. For this purpose,
he summoned them all to a mass meeting in the Great House on the
Hutberg {May 12th.}, lectured them for over three hours on the sin
of schism, read out the "Manorial Injunctions and Prohibitions,"76
which all inhabitants of Herrnhut must promise to obey, and then
submitted a number of "Statutes" as the basis of a voluntary
religious society. The effect was sudden and swift. At one bound
the settlers changed from a group of quarrelling schismatics to an
organized body of orderly Christian tenants; and forthwith the
assembled settlers shook hands, and promised to obey the Injunctions
and Prohibitions.

As soon as the Count had secured good law and order he obtained
leave of absence from Dresden, took up his residence at Herrnhut,
and proceeded to organize all who wished into a systematic Church
within the Church. For this purpose he prepared another agreement
{July 4th.}, entitled the "Brotherly Union and Compact," signed the
agreement first himself, persuaded Christian David, Pastor Schäfer
and another neighbouring clergyman to do the same, and then invited
all the rest to follow suit. Again, the goodwill was practically
universal. As the settlers had promised on May 12th to obey the
Manorial Injunctions and Prohibitions, so now, of their own free
will, they signed a promise to end their sectarian quarrels, to obey
the "Statutes," and to live in fellowship with Christians of all
beliefs and denominations. Thus had the Count accomplished a double
purpose. As lord of the manor he had crushed the design to form a
separate sect; and as Spener's disciple he had persuaded the
descendants of the Bohemian Brethren to form another "Church within
the Church."

Nor was this all. As the Brethren looked back in later years to
those memorable days in Herrnhut, they came to regard the summer
months of 1727 as a holy, calm, sabbatic season, when one and all
were quickened and stirred by the power of the Spirit Divine. "The
whole place," said Zinzendorf himself, "represented a visible
tabernacle of God among men." For the next four months the city on
the hill was the home of ineffable joy; and the very men who had
lately quarrelled with each other now formed little groups for
prayer and praise. As the evening shadows lengthened across the
square the whole settlement met to pray and praise, and talk with
each other, like brothers and sisters of one home. The fancies and
vagaries fled. The Count held meetings every day. The Church at
Berthelsdorf was crowded out. The good David, now appointed Chief
Elder, persuaded all to study the art of love Divine by going
through the First Epistle of St. John. The very children were
stirred and awakened. The whole movement was calm, strong, deep and
abiding. Of vulgar excitement there was none; no noisy meetings, no
extravagant babble, no religious tricks to work on the emotions.
For mawkish, sentimental religion the Count had an honest contempt.
"It is," he said, "as easy to create religious excitement as it is
to stir up the sensual passions; and the former often leads to the
latter." As the Brethren met in each other's homes, or on the
Hutberg when the stars were shining, they listened, with reverence
and holy awe, to the still voice of that Good Shepherd who was
leading them gently, step by step, to the green pastures of peace.

Amid the fervour the Count made an announcement which caused every
cheek to flush with new delight. He had made a strange discovery.
At Zittau, not far away, was a reference library; and there, one
day, he found a copy of Comenius's Latin version of the old
Brethren's "Account of Discipline." {July.} His eyes were opened at
last. For the first time in his busy life he read authentic
information about the old Church of the Brethren; and discovered, to
his amazement and joy, that so far from being disturbers of the
peace, with a Unitarian taint in their blood, they were pure
upholders of the very faith so dear to his own heart.

His soul was stirred to its depths. "I could not," he said, "read
the lamentations of old Comenius, addressed to the Church of
England, lamentations called forth by the idea that the Church of
the Brethren had come to an end, and that he was locking its door--I
could not read his mournful prayer, 'Turn Thou us unto Thee, O Lord,
and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old,' without resolving
there and then: I, as far as I can, will help to bring about this
renewal. And though I have to sacrifice my earthly possessions, my
honours and my life, as long as I live I will do my utmost to see to
it that this little flock of the Lord shall be preserved for Him
until He come."

And even this was not the strangest part of the story. As the Count
devoured the ancient treatise, he noticed that the rules laid down
therein were almost the same as the rules which he had just drawn up
for the refugees at Herrnhut. He returned to Herrnhut, reported his
find, and read the good people extracts from the book {Aug. 4th.}.
The sensation was profound. If this was like new milk to the Count
it was like old wine to the Brethren; and again the fire of their
fathers burned in their veins.

And now the coping stone was set on the temple {Aug. 13th.}. As the
Brethren were learning, step by step, to love each other in true
sincerity, Pastor Rothe now invited them all to set the seal to the
work by coming in a body to Berthelsdorf Church, and there joining,
with one accord, in the celebration of the Holy Communion. The
Brethren accepted the invitation with joy. The date fixed was
Monday, August 13th. The sense of awe was overpowering. As the
Brethren walked down the slope to the church all felt that the
supreme occasion had arrived; and all who had quarrelled in the days
gone by made a covenant of loyalty and love. At the door of the
church the strange sense of awe was thrilling. They entered the
building; the service began; the "Confession" was offered by the
Count; and then, at one and the same moment, all present, rapt in
deep devotion, were stirred by the mystic wondrous touch of a power
which none could define or understand. There, in Berthelsdorf
Parish Church, they attained at last the firm conviction that they
were one in Christ; and there, above all, they believed and felt
that on them, as on the twelve disciples on the Day of Pentecost,
had rested the purifying fire of the Holy Ghost.

"We learned," said the Brethren, "to love." "From that time onward,"
said David Nitschmann, "Herrnhut was a living Church of Jesus
Christ. We thank the Lord that we ever came to Herrnhut, instead of
pressing on, as we intended, to Poland."

And there the humble Brother spoke the truth. As the Brethren
returned that evening to Herrnhut, they felt within them a strength
and joy they had never known before. They had realised their
calling in Christ. They had won the Divine gift of Christian union.
They had won that spirit of brotherly love which only the great
Good Spirit could give. They had won that sense of fellowship with
Christ, and fellowship with one another, which had been the
costliest gem in the days of their fathers; and therefore, in
future, they honoured the day as the true spiritual birthday of the
Renewed Church of the Brethren. It is useless trying to express
their feelings in prose. Let us listen to the moving words of the
Moravian poet, James Montgomery:--

They walked with God in peace and love,
But failed with one another;
While sternly for the faith they strove,
Brother fell out with brother;
But He in Whom they put their trust,
Who knew their frames, that they were dust,
Pitied and healed their weakness.

He found them in His house of prayer,
With one accord assembled,
And so revealed His presence there,
They wept for joy and trembled;
One cup they drank, one bread they brake,
One baptism shared, one language spake,
Forgiving and forgiven.

Then forth they went, with tongues of flame,
In one blest theme delighting,
The love of Jesus and His Name,
God's children all uniting!
That love, our theme and watchword still;
That law of love may we fulfil,
And love as we are loved.

The next step was to see that the blessing was not lost {Aug.
27th.}. For this purpose the Brethren, a few days later, arranged a
system of Hourly Intercession. As the fire on the altar in the
Jewish Temple was never allowed to go out, so the Brethren resolved
that in this new temple of the Lord the incense of intercessory
prayer should rise continually day and night. Henceforth, Herrnhut
in very truth should be the "Watch of the Lord." The whole day was
carefully mapped out, and each Brother or Sister took his or her
turn. Of all the prayer unions ever organized surely this was one
of the most remarkable. It is said to have lasted without
interruption for over a hundred years.



As we study the social and religious system which now developed at
Herrnhut, it is well to bear in mind the fact that when the Count,
as lord of the manor, first issued his "Injunctions and
Prohibitions," he was not aware that, in so doing, he was calling
back to life once more the discipline of the old Bohemian Brethren.
He had not yet read the history of the Brethren, and he had not yet
studied Comenius's "Account of Discipline." He knew but little of
the Brethren's past, and the little that he knew was wrong; and,
having no other plan to guide him, he took as his model the
constitution lying ready to hand in the average German village of
the day, and adapted that simple constitution to the special needs
of the exiles.77 He had no desire to make Herrnhut independent. It
was still to be a part of his estate, and conform to the laws of the
land; and still to be the home of a "Church within the Church," as
planned by Luther long ago in his famous German Mass.

First, then the Count laid down the rule that all male adults in
Herrnhut, no matter to what sect they might belong, should have a
voice in the election of twelve Elders; and henceforward these
twelve Elders, like those in the neighbouring estates of Silesia,
had control over every department of life, and enforced the
Injunctions and Prohibitions with an iron hand. They levied the
usual rates and taxes to keep the streets and wells in order. They
undertook the care of widows and orphans. They watched the
relations of single young men and women. They kept a sharp eye on
the doings at the inn. They called to order the tellers of evil
tales; and they banished from Herrnhut all who disobeyed the laws,
or conducted themselves in an unbecoming, frivolous or offensive

The power of the Elders was enormous. If a new refugee desired to
settle in Herrnhut, he must first obtain permission from the Elders.
If a settler desired to go on a journey, he must first obtain
permission from the Elders. If a man desired to build a house; if a
trader desired to change his calling; if an apprentice desired to
leave his master; if a visitor desired to stay the night, he must
first obtain permission from the Elders. If a man fell in love and
desired to marry, he must first obtain the approval of the Elders;
and until that approval had been obtained, he was not allowed to
propose to the choice of his heart. Let us see the reason for this
remarkable strictness.

As the Brethren settled down in Herrnhut, they endeavoured, under
the Count's direction, to realize the dignity of labour. For rich
and poor, for Catholic and Protestant, for all able-bodied men and
women, the same stern rule held good. If a man desired to settle at
Herrnhut, the one supreme condition was that he earned his bread by
honest toil, and lived a godly, righteous and sober life. For
industrious Catholics there was a hearty welcome; for vagabonds,
tramps and whining beggars there was not a bed to spare. If a man
would work he might stay, and worship God according to his
conscience; but if he was lazy, he was ordered off the premises. As
the Brethren met on Sunday morning for early worship in the public
hall, they joined with one accord in the prayer, "Bless the sweat of
the brow and faithfulness in business"; and the only business they
allowed was business which they could ask the Lord to bless. To
them work was a sacred duty, a delight and a means for the common
good. If a man is blessed who has found his work, then blessed were
the folk at Herrnhut. "We do not work to live," said the Count; "we
live to work." The whole aim was the good of each and the good of
all. As the grocer stood behind his counter, or the weaver plied
his flying shuttle, he was toiling, not for himself alone, but for
all his Brethren and Sisters. If a man desired to set up in
business, he had first to obtain the permission of the Elders; and
the Elders refused to grant the permission unless they thought that
the business in question was needed by the rest of the people. "No
brother," ran the law at Herrnhut, "shall compete with his brother
in trade." No man was allowed to lend money on interest without the
consent of the Elders. If two men had any dispute in business, they
must come to terms within a week; and if they did not, or went to
law, they were expelled. If a man could buy an article in Herrnhut,
he was not allowed to buy it anywhere else.

It is easy to see the purpose of these regulations. They were an
attempt to solve the social problem, to banish competition, and to
put co-operation in its place. For some years the scheme was
crowned with glorious success. The settlement grew; the trade
flourished; the great firm of Dürninger obtained a world-wide
reputation; the women were skilled in weaving and spinning; and the
whole system worked so well that in 1747 the Saxon Government
besought the Count to establish a similar settlement at Barby. At
Herrnhut, in a word, if nowhere else, the social problem was solved.
There, at least, the aged and ill could live in peace and comfort;
there grim poverty was unknown; there the widow and orphan were free
from carking care; and there men and women of humble rank had
learned the truth that when men toil for the common good there is a
perennial nobleness in work.78

For pleasure the Brethren had neither time nor taste. They worked,
on the average, sixteen hours a day, allowed only five hours for
sleep, and spent the remaining three at meals and meetings. The
Count was as Puritanic as Oliver Cromwell himself. For some reason
he had come to the conclusion that the less the settlers knew of
pleasure the better, and therefore he laid down the law that all
strolling popular entertainers should be forbidden to enter the holy
city. No public buffoon ever cracked his jokes at Herrnhut. No
tight-rope dancer poised on giddy height. No barrel-dancer rolled
his empty barrel. No tout for lotteries swindled the simple. No
juggler mystified the children. No cheap-jack cheated the innocent
maidens. No quack-doctor sold his nasty pills. No melancholy bear
made his feeble attempt to dance. For the social joys of private
life the laws were stricter still. At Herrnhut, ran one
comprehensive clause, there were to be no dances whatever, no
wedding breakfasts, no christening bumpers, no drinking parties, no
funeral feasts, and no games like those played in the surrounding
villages. No bride at Herrnhut ever carried a bouquet. No sponsor
ever gave the new arrival a mug or a silver spoon.

For sins of the coarse and vulgar kind there was no mercy. If a man
got drunk, or cursed, or stole, or used his fists, or committed
adultery or fornication, he was expelled, and not permitted to
return till he had given infallible proofs of true repentance. No
guilty couple were allowed to "cheat the parson." No man was
allowed to strike his wife, and no wife was allowed to henpeck her
husband; and any woman found guilty of the latter crime was summoned
before the board of Elders and reprimanded in public.

Again, the Count insisted on civil order. He appointed a number of
other officials. Some, called servants, had to clean the wells, to
sweep the streets, to repair the houses, and to trim the gardens.
For the sick there was a board of sick waiters; for the poor a
board of almoners; for the wicked a board of monitors; for the
ignorant a board of schoolmasters; and each board held a conference
every week. Once a week, on Saturday nights, the Elders met in
Council; once a week, on Monday mornings, they announced any new
decrees; and all inhabitants vowed obedience to them as Elders, to
the Count as Warden, and finally to the law of the land. Thus had
the Count, as lord of the manor, drawn up a code of civil laws to be
binding on all. We have finished the Manorial Injunctions and
Prohibitions. We come to the free religious life of the community.

Let us first clear a difficulty out of the way. As the Count was a
loyal son of the Lutheran Church, and regarded the Augsburg
Confession as inspired,79 it seems, at first sight, a marvellous
fact that here at Herrnhut he allowed the Brethren to take steps
which led ere long to the renewal of their Church. He allowed them
to sing Brethren's Hymns; he allowed them to revive old Brethren's
customs; he allowed them to hold independent meetings; and he even
resolved to do his best to revive the old Church himself. His
conduct certainly looked very inconsistent. If a man in England
were to call himself a loyal member of the Anglican Church, and yet
at the same time do his very best to found an independent
denomination, he would soon be denounced as a traitor to the Church
and a breeder of schism and dissent. But the Count's conduct can be
easily explained. It was all due to his ignorance of history. He
had no idea that the Bohemian Brethren had ever been an independent
Church. He regarded them as a branch of the Reformed persuasion.
He regarded them as a "Church within the Church," of the kind for
which Luther had longed, and which Spener had already established.
He held his delusion down to the end of his days; and, therefore,
as Lutheran and Pietist alike, he felt at liberty to help the
Brethren in all their religious endeavours.

For this purpose, therefore, he asked the settlers at Herrnhut to
sign their names to a voluntary "Brotherly Union"; and the chief
condition of the "Union" was that all the members agreed to live in
friendship with Christians of other denominations, and also to
regard themselves as members of the Lutheran Church. They attended
the regular service at the Parish Church. There they took the Holy
Communion; there they had their children baptized; and there the
young people were confirmed.

Meanwhile the movement at Herrnhut was growing fast. The great
point was to guard against religious poison. As the Count had a
healthy horror of works of darkness, he insisted that no meetings
should be held without a light; and the Brethren set their faces
against superstition. They forbade ghost-stories; they condemned
the popular old-wives' tales about tokens, omens and death-birds;
they insisted that, in case of illness, no meddling busybody should
interfere with the doctor; and thus, as homely, practical folk, they
aimed at health of body and of mind.

But the chief object of their ambition was health of soul. As the
revival deepened, the number of meetings increased. Not a day
passed without three meetings for the whole congregation. At five
in the morning they met in the hall, and joined in a chorus of
praise. At the dinner hour they met again, and then, about nine
o'clock, after supper, they sang themselves to rest. At an early
period the whole congregation was divided into ninety unions for
prayer, and each band met two or three times a week. The night was
as sacred as the day. As the night-watchman went his rounds, he
sang a verse at the hour, as follows:--

The clock is eight! to Herrnhut all is told,
How Noah and his seven were saved of old,
Hear, Brethren, hear! the hour of nine is come!
Keep pure each heart, and chasten every home!
Hear, Brethren, hear! now ten the hour-hand shows;
They only rest who long for night's repose.
The clock's eleven, and ye have heard it all,
How in that hour the mighty God did call.
It's midnight now, and at that hour you know,
With lamp to meet the bridegroom we must go.
The hour is one; through darkness steals the day;
Shines in your hearts the morning star's first ray?
The clock is two! who comes to meet the day,
And to the Lord of days his homage pay?
The clock is three! the Three in One above
Let body, soul and spirit truly love.
The clock is four! where'er on earth are three,
The Lord has promised He the fourth will be.
The clock is five! while five away were sent,
Five other virgins to the marriage went!
The clock is six, and from the watch I'm free,
And every one may his own watchman be!

At this task all male inhabitants, over sixteen and under sixty,
took their turn. The watchman, in the intervals between the hours,
sang other snatches of sacred song; and thus anyone who happened to
be lying awake was continually reminded of the presence of God.

On Sunday nearly every hour of the day was occupied by services. At
five there was a short meeting, known as the "morning blessing."
>From six to nine there were meetings for the several "choirs." At
ten there was a special service for children. At eleven there was
morning worship in the Parish Church. At one the Chief Elder gave a
general exhortation. At three, or thereabouts, there was a meeting,
called the "strangers' service," for those who had not been able to
go to Church; and then the Count or some other layman repeated the
morning sermon. At four there was another service at Berthelsdorf;
at eight another service at Herrnhut; at nine the young men marched
round the settlement singing hymns; and on Monday morning these
wonderful folk returned to their labour like giants refreshed with
new wine. Their powers of endurance were miraculous. The more
meetings they had the more they seemed able to stand. Sometimes the
good Pastor Schwedler, of Görlitz, would give them a sermon three
hours long; and sometimes, commencing at six in the morning, he held
his congregation enthralled till three in the afternoon.

Again, the Brethren listened day by day to a special message from
God. We come now to the origin of the Moravian Text-book. As the
Count was a great believer in variety, he very soon started the
practice, at the regular evening singing meeting, of giving the
people a short address on some Scriptural text or some verse from a
hymn. As soon as the singing meeting was over he read out to the
company the chosen passage, recommended it as a suitable subject for
meditation the following day, and next morning had the text passed
round by the Elders to every house in Herrnhut. Next year (1728)
the practice was better organized. Instead of waiting for the Count
to choose, the Elders selected in advance a number of texts and
verses, and put them all together into a box; and then, each
evening, one of the Elders put his hand into the box and drew the
text for the following day. The idea was that of a special
Providence. If Christ, said the Count, took a special interest in
every one of His children, He would also take the same kindly
interest in every company of believers; and, therefore, He might be
safely trusted to guide the hand of the Elder aright and provide the
"watchword" needed for the day. Again and again he exhorted the
Brethren to regard the text for the day as God's special message to
them; and finally, in 1731, he had the texts for the whole year
printed, and thus began that Brethren's Text-book which now appears
regularly every year, is issued in several tongues, and circulates,
in every quarter of the globe, among Christians of all

In order, next, to keep in touch with their fellow-Christians the
Brethren instituted a monthly Saturday meeting, and that Saturday
came to be known as "Congregation Day." {Feb. 10th, 1728.} At this
meeting the Brethren listened to reports of evangelical work in
other districts. Sometimes there would be a letter from a
travelling Brother; sometimes a visitor from some far-distant
strand. The meeting was a genuine sign of moral health. It
fostered broadness of mind, and put an end to spiritual pride.
Instead of regarding themselves as Pietists, superior to the
average professing Christians, the Brethren now rejoiced to hear of
the good done by others. They prayed not for their own narrow
circle alone, but for all rulers, all churches, and all people that
on earth do dwell; and delighted to sing old Brethren's hymns,
treating of the Church Universal, such as John Augusta's "Praise God
for ever" and "How amiable Thy tabernacles are." At this monthly
meeting the Count was in his element. He would keep his audience
enthralled for hours together. He would read them first a piece of
news in vivid, dramatic style; then he would suddenly strike up a
missionary hymn; then he would give them a little more information;
and thus he taught them to take an interest in lands beyond the sea.

Another sign of moral health was the "Love-feast." As the Brethren
met in each other's houses, they attempted, in quite an unofficial
way, to revive the Agape of Apostolic times; and to this end they
provided a simple meal of rye-bread and water, wished each other the
wish, "Long live the Lord Jesus in our hearts," and talked in a
free-and-easy fashion about the Kingdom of God. And here the
Brethren were on their guard. In the days of the Apostles there had
been scandals. The rich had brought their costly food, and the poor
had been left to pine. At Herrnhut this scandal was avoided. For
rich and poor the diet was the same, and came from a common fund; in
later years it was white bread and tea; and in due time the
Love-feast took the form of a meeting for the whole congregation.

Again, the Brethren were wonderfully simple-minded. As we read
about their various meetings, it is clear that in their childlike
way they were trying to revive the institutions of Apostolic times.
For this purpose they even practised the ceremony of foot-washing,
as described in the Gospel of St. John. To the Count the clear
command of Christ was decisive. "If I then, your Lord and Master,"
said Jesus, "have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one
another's feet." What words, said the Count, could be more binding
than these? "No man," he declared, "can read John xiii. without
being convinced that this should be done." He revived the custom,
and made it both popular and useful. The ceremony was generally
performed by the young, before some special festival. It spread in
time to England and Ireland, and was not abandoned till the early
years of the nineteenth century81 (1818).

We come now to the origin of the "choirs." As Zinzendorf studied
the Gospel story, he came to the conclusion that in the life of
Jesus Christ there was something specially suitable to each estate
in life. For the married people there was Christ, the Bridegroom of
His Bride, the Church; for the single Brethren, the "man about
thirty years of age"; for the single Sisters, the Virgin Mary; for
the children, the boy in the temple asking questions. The idea took
root. The more rapidly the settlement grew, the more need there was
for division and organization. For each class the Master had a
special message, and, therefore, each class must have its special
meetings and study its special duties. For this purpose a band of
single men--led by the ascetic Martin Linner, who slept on bare
boards--agreed to live in one house, spent the evenings in united
study, and thus laid the basis of the Single Brethren's Choir {Aug.
29th, 1728.}. For the same purpose the single young women, led by
Anna Nitschmann, agreed to live in a "Single Sisters' House," and
made a covenant with one another that henceforward they would not
make matrimony the highest aim in life, but would rather, like Mary
of Bethany, sit at the feet of Christ and learn of Him {May 4th,
1730.}. For the same purpose the married people met at a
love-feast, formed the "married choir," and promised to lead a pure
and holy life {Sept. 7th, 1733.}, "so that their children might be
plants of righteousness." For the same purpose the children, in due
time, were formed into a "children's choir." The whole aim was
efficiency and order. At first the unions were voluntary; in time
they became official.

As the years rolled on the whole congregation was systematically
divided into ten "choirs," as follows:--The married choir, the
widowers, the widows, the Single Brethren, the Single Sisters, the
youths, the great girls, the little boys, the little girls, the
infants in arms. Each choir had its own president, its own special
services, its own festival day, its own love-feasts. Of these
choirs the most important were those of the Single Brethren and
Single Sisters. As the Brethren at Herrnhut were soon to be busy in
evangelistic labours, they found it convenient to have in their
ranks a number of men and women who were not bound down by family
ties; and though the young people took no celibate vows, they often
kept single through life for the sake of the growing cause.

The system invaded the sanctity of family life. As the Count was a
family man himself, he very properly took the deepest interest in
the training of little children; and, in season and out of season,
he insisted that the children of Christian parents should be
screened from the seductions of the world, the flesh and the devil.
"It is nothing less than a scandal," he said, "that people think so
little of the fact that their children are dedicated to the Lord.
Children are little kings; their baptism is their anointing; and as
kings they ought to be treated from the first." For this purpose he
laid down the rule that all infants should be baptized in the hall,
in the presence of the whole congregation; and as soon as the
children were old enough to learn, he had them taken from their
homes, and put the little boys in one school and the little girls in
another. And thus the burden of their education fell not on the
parents, but on the congregation.

Again, the Count carried out his ideas in the "vasty halls of
death." Of all the sacred spots in Herrnhut there were none more
sacred and more awe-inspiring than the "God's Acre" which the
Brethren laid out on the Hutberg. There, in the bosom of Mother
Earth, the same division into choirs was preserved. To the Count
the tomb was a holy place. If a visitor ever came to Herrnhut, he
was sure to take him to the God's Acre, and tell him the story of
those whose bones awaited the resurrection of the just. The God's
Acre became the scene of an impressive service {1733.}. At an early
hour on Easter Sunday the Brethren assembled in the sacred presence
of the dead, and waited for the sun to rise. As the golden rim
appeared on the horizon, the minister spoke the first words of the
service. "The Lord is risen," said the minister. "He is risen
indeed!" responded the waiting throng. And then, in the beautiful
language of Scripture, the Brethren joined in a solemn confession of
faith. The trombones that woke the morning echoes led the anthem of
praise, and one and all, in simple faith, looked onward to the
glorious time when those who lay in the silent tomb should hear the
voice of the Son of God, and be caught up in the clouds to meet the
Lord in the air. To the Brethren the tomb was no abode of dread.
In a tomb the Lord Himself had lain; in a tomb His humble disciples
lay "asleep"; and therefore, when a brother departed this life, the
mourners never spoke of him as dead. "He is gone home," they said;
and so death lost his sting.

Again, the Brethren had a strong belief in direct answers to prayer.
It was this that led them to make such use of the "Lot." As soon as
the first twelve Elders were elected, the Brethren chose from among
the twelve a committee of four by Lot; and in course of time the Lot
was used for a great variety of purposes. By the Lot, as we shall
see later on, the most serious ecclesiastical problems were settled.
By the Lot a sister determined her answer to an offer of marriage.
By the Lot a call to service was given, and by the Lot it was
accepted or rejected. If once the Lot had been consulted, the
decision was absolute and binding. The prayer had been answered,
the Lord had spoken, and the servant must now obey.82

We have now to mention but one more custom, dating from those great
days. It is one peculiar to the Brethren's Church, and is known as
the "Cup of Covenant." It was established by the Single Brethren,
{1729.} and was based on the act of Christ Himself, as recorded in
the Gospel of St. Luke. As the Master sat with His twelve disciples
in the Upper Room at Jerusalem, we are told that just before the
institution of the Lord's Supper,83 "He took the Cup and gave
thanks, and said, 'Take this and divide it among yourselves'"; and
now, in obedience to this command, this ardent band of young
disciples made a covenant to be true to Christ, and passed the Cup
from hand to hand. Whenever a young brother was called out to the
mission field, the whole choir would meet and entrust him to Christ
in this simple and scriptural way. It was the pledge at once of
united service and united trust. It spread, in course of time, to
the other choirs; it is practised still at the annual choir
festivals; and its meaning is best expressed in the words of the
Brethren's Covenant Hymn:--

Assembling here, a humble band,
Our covenantal pledge to take,
We pass the cup from hand to hand,
From heart to heart, for His dear sake.

It remains to answer two important questions. As we study the life
of the Herrnhut Brethren, we cannot possibly fail to notice how
closely their institutions resembled the old institutions of the
Bohemian Brethren. We have the same care for the poor, the same
ascetic ideal of life, the same adherence to the word of Scripture,
the same endeavour to revive Apostolic practice, the same
semi-socialistic tendency, the same aspiration after brotherly
unity, the same title, "Elder," for the leading officials, and the
same, or almost the same, method of electing some of these officials
by Lot. And, therefore, we naturally ask the question, how far were
these Brethren guided by the example of their fathers? The reply
is, not at all. At this early stage in their history the Moravian
refugees at Herrnhut knew absolutely nothing of the institutions of
the Bohemian Brethren.84 They had no historical records in their
possession; they had not preserved any copies of the ancient laws;
they brought no books but hymn-books across the border; and they
framed their rules and organized their society before they had even
heard of the existence of Comenius's "Account of Discipline." The
whole movement at Herrnhut was free, spontaneous, original. It was
not an imitation of the past. It was not an attempt to revive the
Church of the Brethren. It was simply the result of Zinzendorf's
attempt to apply the ideals of the Pietist Spener to the needs of
the settlers on his estate.

The second question is, what was the ecclesiastical standing of the
Brethren at this time? They were not a new church or sect. They
had no separate ministry of their own. They were members of the
Lutheran Church, regarded Rothe still as their Pastor, attended the
Parish Church on Sundays, and took the Communion there once a month;
and what distinguished them from the average orthodox Lutheran of
the day was, not any peculiarity of doctrine, but rather their vivid
perception of a doctrine common to all the Churches. As the
Methodists in England a few years later exalted the doctrine of
"conversion," so these Brethren at Herrnhut exalted the doctrine of
the spiritual presence of Christ. To them the ascended Christ was
all in all. He had preserved the "Hidden Seed." He had led them out
from Moravia. He had brought them to a watch-tower. He had
delivered them from the secret foe. He had banished the devouring
demon of discord, had poured out His Holy Spirit upon them at their
memorable service in the Parish Church, and had taught them to
maintain the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace. He was the
"Bridegroom of the Soul," the "Blood Relation of His People," the
"King's Son seeking for His Bride, the Church," the "Chief Elder
pleading for the Church before God." And this thought of the living
and reigning Christ was, therefore, the ruling thought among the
Brethren. He had done three marvellous things for the sons of men.
He had given His life as a "ransom" for sin, and had thereby
reconciled them to God; He had set the perfect example for them to
follow; He was present with them now as Head of the Church; and
thus, when the Brethren went out to preach, they made His
Sacrificial Death, His Holy Life, and His abiding presence the main
substance of their Gospel message.



But Zinzendorf was not long allowed to tread the primrose path of
peace. As the news of his proceedings spread in Germany, many
orthodox Lutherans began to regard him as a nuisance, a heretic, and
a disturber of the peace; and one critic made the elegant remark:
"When Count Zinzendorf flies up into the air, anyone who pulls him
down by the legs will do him a great service." He was accused of
many crimes, and had many charges to answer. He was accused of
founding a new sect, a society for laziness; he was accused of
holding strange opinions, opposed to the teaching of the Lutheran
Church; he was accused of being a sham Christian, a sort of
religious freak; and now he undertook the task of proving that these
accusations were false, and of showing all fair-minded men in
Germany that the Brethren at Herrnhut were as orthodox as Luther, as
respected as the King, and as pious as good old Dr. Spener himself.
His methods were bold and straightforward.

He began by issuing a manifesto {Aug. 12th, 1729.}, entitled the
"Notariats-Instrument." As this document was signed by all the
Herrnhut Brethren, they must have agreed to its statements; but, on
the other hand, it is fairly certain that it was drawn up by
Zinzendorf himself. It throws a flood of light on his state of
mind. He had begun to think more highly of the Moravian Church. He
regarded the Moravians as the kernel of the Herrnhut colony, and now
he deliberately informed the public that, so far from being a new
sect, these Moravians were descendants of an ancient Church. They
were, he declared, true heirs of the Church of the Brethren; and
that Church, in days gone by, had been recognized by Luther, Calvin
and others as a true Church of Christ. In doctrine that Church was
as orthodox as the Lutheran; in discipline it was far superior. As
long, therefore, as the Brethren were allowed to do so, they would
maintain their old constitution and discipline; and yet, on the
other hand, they would not be Dissenters. They were not Hussites;
they were not Waldenses; they were not Fraticelli; they honoured the
Augsburg Confession; they would still attend the Berthelsdorf Parish
Church; and, desirous of cultivating fellowship with all true
Christians, they announced their broad position in the sentence: "We
acknowledge no public Church of God except where the pure Word of
God is preached, and where the members live as holy children of
God." Thus Zinzendorf made his policy fairly clear. He wanted to
preserve the Moravian Church inside the Lutheran Church!85

His next move was still more daring. He was a man of fine
missionary zeal. As the woman who found the lost piece of silver
invited her friends and neighbours to share in her joy, so
Zinzendorf wished all Christians to share in the treasure which he
had discovered at Herrnhut. He believed that the Brethren there
were called to a world-wide mission. He wanted Herrnhut to be a
city set on a hill. "I have no sympathy," he said, "with those
comfortable people who sit warming themselves before the fire of the
future life." He did not sit long before the fire himself. He
visited the University of Jena, founded a society among the
students, and so impressed the learned Spangenberg that that great
theological scholar soon became a Brother at Herrnhut himself. He
visited the University of Halle, and founded another society of
students there. He visited Elmsdorf in Vogtland, and founded a
society consisting of members of the family of Count Reuss. He
visited Berleburg in Westphalia, made the acquaintance of John
Conrad Dippel, and tried to lead that straying sheep back to the
Lutheran fold. He visited Budingen in Hesse, discoursed on
Christian fellowship to the "French Prophets," or "Inspired Ones,"
and tried to teach their hysterical leader, Rock, a little wisdom,
sobriety and charity. He attended the coronation of Christian VI.,
King of Denmark, at Copenhagen, was warmly welcomed by His Majesty,
received the Order of the Danebrog, saw Eskimos from Greenland and a
negro from St. Thomas, and thus opened the door, as we shall see
later on, for the great work of foreign missions. Meanwhile, he was
sending messengers in all directions. He sent two Brethren to
Copenhagen, with a short historical account of Herrnhut. He sent
two others to London to see the Queen, and to open up negotiations
with the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. He sent another
to Sweden; others to Hungary and Austria; others to Switzerland;
others to Moravia; others to the Baltic Provinces, Livonia and
Esthonia. And everywhere his object was the same--the formation of
societies for Christian fellowship within the National Church.

At this point, however, he acted like a fanatic, and manifested the
first symptoms of that weak trait in his character which nearly
wrecked his career. As he pondered one day on the state of affairs
at Herrnhut, it suddenly flashed upon his mind that the Brethren
would do far better without their ancient constitution. He first
consulted the Elders and Helpers {Jan. 7th, 1731.}; he then summoned
the whole congregation; and there and then he deliberately proposed
that the Brethren should abolish their regulations, abandon their
constitution, cease to be Moravians and become pure Lutherans. At
that moment Zinzendorf was calmly attempting to destroy the Moravian
Church. He did not want to see that Church revive. For some reason
of his own, which he never explained in print, he had come to the
conclusion that the Brethren would serve Christ far better without
any special regulations of their own. But the Brethren were not
disposed to meek surrender. The question was keenly debated. At
length, however, both sides agreed to appeal to a strange tribunal.
For the first time in the history of Herrnhut a critical question
of Church policy was submitted to the Lot.86 The Brethren took two
slips of paper and put them into a box. On the first were the
words, "To them that are without law, as without law, that I might
gain them that are without law," 1 Cor. ix. 21; on the second the
words, "Therefore, Brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions
which ye have been taught," 2 Thess. ii. 15. At that moment the
fate of the Church hung in the balance; the question at issue was
one of life and death; and the Brethren spent a long time in anxious
prayer. If the first slip of paper was drawn, the Church would
cease to exist; if the second, she might still live by the blessing
of God. Young Christel, Zinzendorf's son, now entered the room. He
drew the second slip of paper, and the Moravian Church was saved.
To Zinzendorf this was an event of momentous importance. As soon
as that second slip of paper was drawn, he felt convinced that God
had sanctioned the renewal of the Moravian Church.

Next year an event occurred to strengthen his convictions. A body
of commissioners from Dresden appeared at Herrnhut {Jan. 19-22,
1732.}. They attended all the Sunday services, had private
interviews with the Brethren, and sent in their report to the Saxon
Government. The Count's conduct had excited public alarm. He had
welcomed not only Moravians at Herrnhut, but Schwenkfelders at
Berthelsdorf; and, therefore, he was now suspected of harbouring
dangerous fanatics. For a long time the issue hung doubtful; but
finally the Government issued a decree that while the Schwenkfelders
must quit the land, the Moravians should be allowed to stay as long
as they behaved themselves quietly {April 4th, 1733.}.

But Zinzendorf was not yet satisfied. He regarded the edict as an
insult. The words about "behaving quietly" looked like a threat.
As long as the Brethren were merely "tolerated," their peace was in
constant danger; and a King who had driven out the Schwenkfelders
might soon drive out the Herrnhuters. He was disgusted. At the
time when the edict was issued, he himself was returning from a
visit to Tübingen. He had laid the whole case of the Brethren
before the Tübingen Theological Faculty. He had asked these
theological experts to say whether the Brethren could keep their
discipline and yet be considered good Lutherans; and the experts, in
reply, had declared their opinion that the Herrnhut Brethren were as
loyal Lutherans as any in the land. Thus the Brethren were standing
now on a shaky floor. According to the Tübingen Theological Faculty
they were good members of the National Church; according to the
Government they were a "sect" to be tolerated!

Next year he adopted three defensive measures {1734.}. First, he
divided the congregation at Herrnhut into two parts, the Moravian
and the purely Lutheran; next, he had himself ordained as a Lutheran
clergyman; and third, he despatched a few Moravians to found a
colony in Georgia. He was now, he imagined, prepared for the worst.
If the King commanded the Moravians to go, the Count had his answer
ready. As he himself was a Lutheran clergyman, he would stay at
Herrnhut and minister to the Herrnhut Lutherans; and the Moravians
could all sail away to Georgia, and live in perfect peace in the
land of the free.

Next year he made his position stronger still {1735.}. As the
Moravians in Georgia would require their own ministers, he now had
David Nitschmann consecrated a Bishop by Bishop Daniel Ernest
Jablonsky (March 13th). The new Bishop was not to exercise his
functions in Germany. He was a Bishop for the foreign field only;
he sailed with the second batch of colonists for Georgia; and thus
Zinzendorf maintained the Moravian Episcopal Succession, not from
any sectarian motives, but because he wished to help the Brethren
when the storm burst over their heads.

For what really happened, however, Zinzendorf was unprepared
{1736.}. As he made these various arrangements for the Brethren, he
entirely overlooked the fact that he himself was in greater danger
than they. He was far more widely hated than he imagined. He was
condemned by the Pietists because he had never experienced their
sudden and spasmodic method of conversion. He offended his own
relatives when he became a clergyman; he was accused of having
disgraced his rank as a Count; he disgusted a number of other
noblemen at Dresden; and the result of this strong feeling was that
Augustus III., King of Saxony, issued an edict banishing Zinzendorf
from his kingdom. He was accused in this Royal edict of three great
crimes. He had introduced religious novelties; he had founded
conventicles; and he had taught false doctrine. Thus Zinzendorf was
banished from Saxony as a heretic. As soon, however, as the
Government had dealt with Zinzendorf, they sent a second Commission
to Herrnhut; and the second Commission came to the conclusion that
the Brethren were most desirable Lutherans, and might be allowed to
stay. Dr. Löscher, one of the commissioners, burst into tears.
"Your doctrine," he said, "is as pure as ours, but we do not possess
your discipline." At first sight this certainly looks like a
contradiction, but the explanation is not far to seek. We find it
in the report issued by the Commission. It was a shameless
confession of mercenary motives. In that report the commissioners
deliberately stated that if good workmen like the Brethren were
banished from Herrnhut the Government would lose so much in taxes;
and, therefore, the Brethren were allowed to stay because they
brought grist to the mill. At the same time, they were forbidden to
make any proselytes; and thus it was hoped that the Herrnhut heresy
would die a natural death.

When Zinzendorf heard of his banishment, he was not amazed. "What
matter!" he said. "Even had I been allowed by law, I could not have
remained in Herrnhut at all during the next ten years." He had
plans further afield. "We must now," he added, "gather together the
Pilgrim Congregation and proclaim the Saviour to the World." It is
true that the edict of banishment was repealed {1737.}; it is true
that he was allowed to return to Herrnhut; but a year later a new
edict was issued, and the Count was sternly expelled from his native
land {1738.}.



As young Leonard Dober lay tossing on his couch, his soul was
disquieted within him {1731.}. He had heard strange news that
afternoon, and sleep forsook his eyes. As Count Zinzendorf was on a
visit to the court of Christian VI., King of Denmark, he met a West
Indian negro slave, by name Antony Ulrich. And Antony was an
interesting man. He had been baptized; he had been taught the
rudiments of the Christian faith; he had met two other Brethren at
the court; his tongue was glib and his imagination lively; and now
he poured into Zinzendorf's ears a heartrending tale of the
benighted condition of the slaves on the Danish island of St.
Thomas. He spoke pathetically of his sister Anna, of his brother
Abraham, and of their fervent desire to hear the Gospel.

"If only some missionaries would come," said he, "they would
certainly be heartily welcomed. Many an evening have I sat on the
shore and sighed my soul toward Christian Europe; and I have a
brother and sister in bondage who long to know the living God."

The effect on Zinzendorf was electric. His mind was full of
missionary visions. The story of Antony fired his zeal. The door
to the heathen world stood open. The golden day had dawned. He
returned to the Brethren at Herrnhut, arrived at two o'clock in the
morning, and found that the Single Brethren were still on their
knees in prayer. Nothing could be more encouraging. At the first
opportunity he told the Brethren Antony's touching tale.

Again the effect was electric. As the Brethren met for their
monthly service on "Congregation Day" they had often listened to
reports of work in various parts of the Continent; already the Count
had suggested foreign work; and already a band of Single Brethren
(Feb. 11th, 1728) had made a covenant with each other to respond to
the first clear sound of the trumpet call. As soon as their daily
work was over, these men plunged deep into the study of medicine,
geography, and languages. They wished to be ready "when the blessed
time should come"; they were on the tiptoe of expectation; and now
they were looking forward to the day when they should be summoned to
cross the seas to heathen lands. The summons had sounded at last.
To Leonard Dober the crisis of his life had come. As he tossed to
and fro that summer night he could think about nothing but the poor
neglected negroes, and seemed to hear a voice Divine urging him to
arise and preach deliverance to the captives. Whence came, he
asked, that still, small voice? Was it his own excited fancy, or
was it the voice of God? As the morning broke, he was still
unsettled in his mind. But already the Count had taught the
Brethren to regard the daily Watch-Word as a special message from
God. He consulted his text-book. The very answer he sought was
there. "It is not a vain thing for you," ran the message, "because
it is your life; and through this thing ye shall prolong your days."

And yet Dober was not quite convinced. If God desired him to go
abroad He would give a still clearer call. He determined to consult
his friend Tobias Leupold, and abide the issue of the colloquy; and
in the evening the two young men took their usual stroll together
among the brushwood clustering round the settlement. And then
Leonard Dober laid bare his heart, and learned to his amazement that
all the while Tobias had been in the same perplexing pass. What
Dober had been longing to tell him, he had been longing to tell
Dober. Each had heard the same still small voice; each had fought
the same doubts; each had feared to speak his mind; and now, in the
summer gloaming, they knelt down side by side and prayed to be
guided aright. Forthwith the answer was ready. As they joined the
other Single Brethren, and marched in solemn procession past
Zinzendorf's house, they heard the Count remark to a friend, "Sir,
among these young men there are missionaries to St. Thomas,
Greenland, Lapland, and many other countries."

The words were inspiring. Forthwith the young fellows wrote to the
Count and offered to serve in St. Thomas. The Count read the letter
to the congregation, but kept their names a secret. The Brethren
were critical and cold. As the settlers were mostly simple people,
with little knowledge of the world beyond the seas, it was natural
that they should shrink from a task which the powerful Protestant
Churches of Europe had not yet dared to attempt. Some held the
offer reckless; some dubbed it a youthful bid for fame and the
pretty imagination of young officious minds. Antony Ulrich came to
Herrnhut, addressed the congregation in Dutch, and told them that no
one could be a missionary in St. Thomas without first becoming a
slave. As the people knew no better they believed him. For a year
the issue hung in the scales of doubt. The young men were resolute,
confident and undismayed. If they had to be slaves to preach the
Gospel, then slaves they would willingly be!87 At last Dober wrote
in person to the congregation and repeated his resolve. The
Brethren yielded. The Count still doubted. For the second time a
momentous issue was submitted to the decision of the Lot.

"Are you willing," he asked Dober, "to consult the Saviour by means
of the Lot?"

"For myself," replied Dober, "I am already sure enough; but I will
do so for the sake of the Brethren."

A meeting was held; a box of mottoes was brought in; and Dober drew
a slip of paper bearing the words: "Let the lad go, for the Lord is
with him." The voice of the Lot was decisive. Of all the meetings
held in Herrnhut, this meeting to hear the voice of the Lot was the
most momentous in its world-wide importance. The young men were all
on fire. If the Lot had only given the word they would now have
gone to the foreign field in dozens. For the first time in the
history of Protestant Europe a congregation of orthodox Christians
had deliberately resolved to undertake the task of preaching the
Gospel to the heathen. As the Lot which decided that Dober should
go had also decided that his friend Leupold should stay, he now
chose as his travelling companion the carpenter, David Nitschmann.
The birthday of Moravian Missions now drew near. At three o'clock
on the morning of August 21st, 1732, the two men stood waiting in
front of Zinzendorf's house. The Count had spent the whole night in
prayer. He drove them in his carriage as far as Bautzen. They
alighted outside the little town, knelt down on the quiet roadside,
engaged in prayer, received the Count's blessing by imposition of
hands, bade him farewell, and set out Westward Ho!

As they trudged on foot on their way to Copenhagen, they had no idea
that in so doing they were clearing the way for the great modern
missionary movement; and, on the whole, they looked more like
pedlars than pioneers of a new campaign. They wore brown coats and
quaint three-cornered hats. They carried bundles on their backs.
They had only about thirty shillings in their pockets. They had
received no clear instructions from the Count, except "to do all in
the Spirit of Jesus Christ." They knew but little of the social
condition of St. Thomas. They had no example to follow; they had no
"Society" to supply their needs; and now they were going to a part
of the world where, as yet, a missionary's foot had never trod.

At Copenhagen, where they called at the court, they created quite a
sensation. For some years there had existed there a National
Missionary College. It was the first Reformed Missionary College in
Europe. Founded by King Frederick IV., it was regarded as a regular
department of the State. It had already sent Hans Egede to
Greenland and Ziegenbalg to Tranquebar, on the Coromandel Coast; and
it sent its men as State officials, to undertake the work of
evangelisation as a useful part of the national colonial policy.
But Dober and Nitschmann were on a different footing. If they had
been the paid agents of the State they would have been regarded with
favour; but as they were only the heralds of a Church they were
laughed at as a brace of fools. For a while they met with violent
opposition. Von Plesz, the King's Chamberlain, asked them how they
would live.

"We shall work," replied Nitschmann, "as slaves among the slaves."

"But," said Von Plesz, "that is impossible. It will not be allowed.
No white man ever works as a slave."

"Very well," replied Nitschmann, "I am a carpenter, and will ply my

"But what will the potter do?"

"He will help me in my work."

"If you go on like that," exclaimed the Chamberlain, "you will stand
your ground the wide world over."

The first thing was to stand their ground at Copenhagen. As the
directors of the Danish West Indian Company refused to grant them a
passage out they had now to wait for any vessel that might be
sailing. The whole Court was soon on their side. The Queen
expressed her good wishes. The Princess Amalie gave them some money
and a Dutch Bible. The Chamberlain slipped some coins into
Nitschmann's pocket. The Court Physician gave them a spring lancet,
and showed them how to open a vein. The Court Chaplain espoused
their cause, and the Royal Cupbearer found them a ship on the point
of sailing for St. Thomas.

As the ship cast anchor in St. Thomas Harbour the Brethren realized
for the first time the greatness of their task. There lay the
quaint little town of Tappus, its scarlet roofs agleam in the
noontide sun; there, along the silver beach, they saw the yellowing
rocks; and there, beyond, the soft green hills were limned against
the azure sky. There, in a word, lay the favoured isle, the "First
Love of Moravian Missions." Again the text for the day was
prophetic: "The Lord of Hosts," ran the gladdening watchword,
"mustereth the host of the battle." As the Brethren stepped ashore
next day they opened a new chapter in the history of modern
Christianity. They were the founders of Christian work among the
slaves. For fifty years the Moravian Brethren laboured in the West
Indies without any aid from any other religious denomination. They
established churches in St. Thomas, in St. Croix, in St. John's, in
Jamaica, in Antigua, in Barbados, and in St. Kitts. They had 13,000
baptized converts before a missionary from any other Church arrived
on the scene.

We pass to another field. As the Count was on his visit to the
Court in Copenhagen, he saw two little Greenland boys who had been
baptized by the Danish missionary, Hans Egede; and as the story of
Antony Ulrich fired the zeal of Leonard Dober, so the story of
Egede's patient labours aroused the zeal of Matthew Stach and the
redoubtable Christian David {1733.}. In Greenland Egede had failed.
In Greenland the Brethren succeeded. As they settled down among
the people they resolved at first to be very systematic in their
method of preaching the Gospel; and to this end, like Egede before
them, they expounded to the simple Eskimo folk the whole scheme of
dogmatic theology, from the fall of man to the glorification of the
saint. The result was dismal failure. At last the Brethren struck
the golden trail. The story is a classic in the history of
missions. As John Beck, one balmy evening in June, was discoursing
on things Divine to a group of Eskimos, it suddenly flashed upon his
mind that, instead of preaching dogmatic theology he would read them
an extract from the translation of the Gospels he was now preparing.
He seized his manuscript. "And being in an agony," read John Beck,
"He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops
of blood falling down to the ground." At this Kajarnak, the
brightest in the group, sprang forward to the table and exclaimed,
"How was that? Tell me that again, for I, too, would be saved."
The first Eskimo was touched. The power was the story of the
Cross. From that moment the Brethren altered the whole style of
their preaching. Instead of expounding dogmatic theology, they told
the vivid human story of the Via Dolorosa, the Crown of Thorns, the
Scourging, and the Wounded Side. The result was brilliant success.
The more the Brethren spoke of Christ the more eager the Eskimos
were to listen.

In this good work the leader was Matthew Stach. He was ordained a
Presbyter of the Brethren's Church. He was officially appointed
leader of the Greenland Mission. He was recognized by the Danish
College of Missions. He was authorized by the King of Denmark to
baptize and perform all sacerdotal functions. His work was
methodical and thorough. In order to teach the roving Eskimos the
virtues of a settled life, he actually took a number of them on a
Continental tour, brought them to London, presented them, at
Leicester House, to King George II., the Prince of Wales, and the
rest of the Royal Family, and thus imbued them with a love of
civilisation. At New Herrnhut, in Greenland, he founded a
settlement, as thoroughly organised as Herrnhut in Saxony. He built
a church, adorned with pictures depicting the sufferings of Christ.
He taught the people to play the violin. He divided the
congregation into "choirs." He showed them how to cultivate a
garden of cabbages, leeks, lettuces, radishes and turnips. He
taught them to care for all widows and orphans. He erected a
"Brethren's House" for the "Single Brethren" and a "Sisters' House"
for the "Single Sisters." He taught them to join in worship every
day. At six o'clock every morning there was a meeting for the
baptized; at eight a public service for all the settlers; at nine
the children repeated their catechism and then proceeded to morning
school; and then, in the evening, when the men had returned with
their bag of seals, there was a public preaching service in the
church. And at Lichtenfels and Lichtenau the same sort of work was

We pass on to other scenes, to Dutch Guinea or Surinam. As the
Dutch were still a great colonial power, they had plenty of
opportunity to spread the Gospel; and yet, except in India, they had
hitherto not lifted a finger in the cause of foreign missions. For
the most part the Dutch clergy took not the slightest interest in
the subject. They held bigoted views about predestination. They
thought that Christ had died for them, but not for Indians and
negroes. As the Brethren, however, were good workmen, it was
thought that they might prove useful in the Colonies; and so Bishop
Spangenberg found it easy to make an arrangement with the Dutch
Trading Company, whereby the Brethren were granted a free passage,
full liberty in religion, and exemption from the oath and military
service {1734.}. But all this was little more than pious talk. As
soon as the Brethren set to work the Dutch pastors opposed them to
the teeth. At home and abroad it was just the same. At Amsterdam
the clergy met in Synod, and prepared a cutting "Pastoral Letter,"
condemning the Brethren's theology; and at Paramaribo the Brethren
were forbidden to hold any meetings at all. But the Brethren did
not stay very long in Paramaribo. Through three hundred miles of
jungle and swamp they pressed their way, and came to the homes of
the Indian tribes; to the Accawois, who earned their living as
professional assassins; to the Warrows, who wallowed in the marshes;
to the Arawaks, or "Flour People," who prepared tapioca; to the
Caribs, who sought them that had familiar spirits and wizards that
peep and mutter. "It seems very dark," they wrote to the Count, "but
we will testify of the grace of the Saviour till He lets the light
shine in this dark waste." For twenty years they laboured among
these Indian tribes; and Salomo Schumann, the leader of the band,
prepared an Indian dictionary and grammar. One story flashes light
upon their labours. As Christopher Dähne, who had built himself a
hut in the forest, was retiring to rest a snake suddenly glided down
upon him from the roof, bit him twice or thrice, and coiled itself
round his body. At that moment, the gallant herald of the Cross,
with death staring him in the face, thought, not of himself, but of
the people whom he had come to serve. If he died as he lay the
rumour might spread that some of the natives had killed him; and,
therefore, he seized a piece of chalk and wrote on the table, "A
serpent has killed me." But lo! the text flashed suddenly upon him:
"They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it
shall not hurt them." He seized the serpent, flung it from him, lay
down to sleep in perfect peace, and next morning went about his

We pass now to South Africa, the land of the Boers. For the last
hundred years South Africa had been under the rule of the Dutch East
India Company; and the result was that the Hottentots and Kaffirs
were still as heathen as ever. For their spiritual welfare the
Boers cared absolutely nothing. They were strong believers in
predestination; they believed that they were elected to grace and
the Hottentots elected to damnation; and, therefore, they held it to
be their duty to wipe the Hottentots off the face of the earth. "The
Hottentots," they said, "have no souls; they belong to the race of
baboons." They called them children of the devil; they called them
"black wares," "black beasts," and "black cattle"; and over one
church door they painted the notice "Dogs and Hottentots not
admitted." They ruined them, body and soul, with rum and brandy;
they first made them merry with drink, and then cajoled them into
unjust bargains; they shot them down in hundreds, and then boasted
over their liquor how many Hottentots they had "potted." "With one
hundred and fifty men," wrote the Governor, Van Ruibeck, in his
journal, "11,000 head of black cattle might be obtained without
danger of losing one man; and many savages might be taken without
resistance to be sent as slaves to India, as they will always come
to us unarmed. If no further trade is to be expected with them,
what should it matter much to take six or eight thousand beasts from
them." But the most delightful of all Boer customs was the custom
of flogging by pipes. If a Hottentot proved a trifle unruly, he was
thrashed, while his master, looking on with a gluttonous eye, smoked
a fixed number of pipes; and the wreathing smoke and the writhing
Hottentot brought balm unto his soul.

And now to this hell of hypocrisy and villainy came the first
apostle to the natives. As the famous Halle missionary, Ziegenbalg,
was on his way to the Malabar Coast he touched at Cape Town, heard
something of the abominations practised, was stirred to pity, and
wrote laying the case before two pastors in Holland. The two
pastors wrote to Herrnhut; the Herrnhut Brethren chose their man;
and in less than a week the man was on his way. George Schmidt was
a typical Herrnhut brother. He had come from Kunewalde, in Moravia,
had lain six years in prison, had seen his friend, Melchior
Nitschmann, die in his arms, and watched his own flesh fall away in
flakes from his bones. For twelve months he had now to stay in
Amsterdam, first to learn the Dutch language, and secondly to pass
an examination in orthodox theology. He passed the examination with
flying colours. He received permission from the "Chamber of
Seventeen" to sail in one of the Dutch East India Company's ships.
He landed at Cape Town. His arrival created a sensation. As he sat
in the public room of an inn he listened to the conversation of the
assembled farmers {1737.}.

"I hear," said one, "that a parson has come here to convert the

"What! a parson!" quoth another. "Why, the poor fool must have lost
his head."

They argued the case; they mocked; they laughed; they found the
subject intensely amusing.

"And what, sir, do you think?" said a waiter to Schmidt, who was
sitting quietly in the corner.

"I am the very man," replied Schmidt; and the farmers began to talk
about their crops.

For six years George Schmidt laboured all alone among the benighted
Hottentots. He began his labours at a military outpost in the
Sweet-Milk Valley, about fifty miles east of Cape Town; but finding
the company of soldiers dangerous to the morals of his congregation,
he moved to a place called Bavian's Kloof, where the town of
Genadendal stands to-day. He planted the pear-tree so famous in
missionary annals, taught the Hottentots the art of gardening, held
public service every evening, had fifty pupils in his day-school,
and began to baptize his converts. As he and William, one of his
scholars, were returning one day from a visit to Cape Town, they
came upon a brook, and Schmidt asked William if he had a mind to be
baptized there and then. He answered "Yes." And there, by the
stream in a quiet spot, the first fruit of African Missions made his
confession of faith in Christ.

"Dost thou believe," asked Schmidt solemnly, "that the Son of God
died on the cross for the sins of all mankind? Dost thou believe
that thou art by nature a lost and undone creature? Wilt thou
renounce the devil and all his works? Art thou willing, in
dependence on God's grace, to endure reproach and persecution, to
confess Christ before all men, and to remain faithful to him unto

As soon, however, as Schmidt began to baptize his converts the Cape
Town clergy denounced him as a heretic, and summoned him to answer
for his sins. The great charge against him was that he had not been
properly ordained. He had been ordained, not by actual imposition
of hands, but by a certificate of ordination, sent out to him by
Zinzendorf. To the Dutch clergy this was no ordination at all.
What right, said they, had a man to baptize who had been ordained
in this irregular manner? He returned to Holland to fight his
battle there. And he never set foot on African soil again! The
whole argument about the irregular ordination turned out to be a
mere excuse. If that argument had been genuine the Dutch clergy
could now have had Schimdt ordained in the usual way. But the truth
is they had no faith in his mission; they had begun to regard the
Brethren as dangerous heretics; and, therefore, for another fifty
years they forbade all further mission work in the Dutch Colony of
South Africa.

We pass on to other scenes. We go to the Gold Coast in the Dutch
Colony of Guinea, where Huckoff, another German Moravian, and
Protten, a mulatto theological scholar, attempted to found a school
for slaves {1737.}, and where, again, the work was opposed by the
Governor. We pass to another Dutch Colony in Ceylon; and there find
David Nitschmann III. and Dr. Eller establishing a society in
Colombo, and labouring further inland for the conversion of the
Cingalese; and again we find that the Dutch clergy, inflamed by the
"Pastoral Letter," were bitterly opposed to the Brethren and
compelled them to return to Herrnhut. We take our journey to
Constantinople, and find Arvid Gradin, the learned Swede, engaged in
an attempt to come to terms with the Greek Church {1740.}, and thus
open the way for the Brethren's Gospel to Asia. We step north to
Wallachia, and find two Brethren consulting about a settlement there
with the Haspodar of Bucharest. We arrive at St. Petersburg, and
find three Brethren there before us, commissioned to preach the
Gospel to the heathen Calmucks. We pass on to Persia and find two
doctors, Hocker and Rüffer, stripped naked by robbers on the
highway, and then starting a practice at Ispahan (1747). We cross
the sandy plains to the city of Bagdad, and find two Brethren in its
narrow streets; we find Hocker expounding the Gospel to the Copts in

And even this was not the end of the Brethren's missionary labours
{1738-42.}. For some years the Brethren conducted a mission to the
Jews. For Jews the Count had special sympathy. He had vowed in his
youth to do all he could for their conversion; he had met a good
many Jews at Herrnhut and at Frankfurt-on-the-Main; he made a
practice of speaking about them in public on the Great Day of
Atonement; and in their Sunday morning litany the Brethren uttered
the prayer, "Deliver Thy people Israel from their blindness; bring
many of them to know Thee, till the fulness of the Gentiles is come
and all Israel is saved." The chief seat of this work was
Amsterdam, and the chief workers Leonard Dober and Samuel
Leiberkühn. The last man was a model missionary. He had studied
theology at Jena and Halle; he was a master of the Hebrew tongue; he
was expert in all customs of the Jews; he was offered a
professorship at Königsberg; and yet, instead of winning his laurels
as an Oriental scholar, he preferred to settle down in humble style
in the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, and there talk to his friends
the Jews about the Christ he loved so deeply. His method of work
was instructive. He never dazed his Jewish friends with dogmatic
theology. He never tried to prove that Christ was the Messiah of
the prophecies. He simply told them, in a kindly way, how Jesus had
risen from the dead, and how much this risen Jesus had done in the
world; he shared their hope of a national gathering in Palestine;
and, though he could never boast of making converts, he was so
beloved by his Jewish friends that they called him "Rabbi Schmuel."

Let us try to estimate the value of all this work. Of all the
enterprises undertaken by the Brethren this heroic advance on
heathen soil had the greatest influence on other Protestant
Churches; and some writers have called the Moravians the pioneers of
Protestant Foreign Missions. But this statement is only true in a
special sense. They were not the first to preach the Gospel to the
heathen. If the reader consults any history of Christian Missions88
he will see that long before Leonard Dober set out for St. Thomas
other men had preached the Gospel in heathen lands.

But in all these efforts there is one feature missing. There is no
sign of any united Church action. At the time when Leonard Dober
set out from Herrnhut not a single other Protestant Church in the
world had attacked the task of foreign missions, or even regarded
that task as a Divinely appointed duty. In England the work was
undertaken, not by the Church as such, but by two voluntary
associations, the S.P.C.K. and the S.P.G.; in Germany, not by the
Lutheran Church, but by a few earnest Pietists; in Denmark, not by
the Church, but by the State; in Holland, not by the Church, but by
one or two pious Colonial Governors; and in Scotland, neither by the
Church nor by anyone else. At that time the whole work of foreign
missions was regarded as the duty, not of the Churches, but of
"Kings, Princes, and States." In England, Anglicans, Independents
and Baptists were all more or less indifferent. In Scotland the
subject was never mentioned; and even sixty years later a resolution
to inquire into the matter was rejected by the General Assembly
{1796.}. In Germany the Lutherans were either indifferent or
hostile. In Denmark and Holland the whole subject was treated with
contempt. And the only Protestant Church to recognize the duty was
this little, struggling Renewed Church of the Brethren. In this
sense, therefore, and in this sense only, can we call the Moravians
the pioneers of modern missions. They were the first Protestant
Church in Christendom to undertake the conversion of the heathen.
They sent out their missionaries as authorised agents of the
Church. They prayed for the cause of missions in their Sunday
Litany. They had several missionary hymns in their Hymn-Book. They
had regular meetings to listen to the reading of missionaries'
diaries and letters. They discussed missionary problems at their
Synods. They appointed a Church Financial Committee to see to ways
and means. They sent out officially appointed "visitors" to inspect
the work in various countries. They were, in a word, the first
Protestant Missionary Church in history; and thus they set an
inspiring example to all their stronger sisters.

Again, this work of the Brethren was important because it was
thorough and systematic. At first the missionaries were compelled
to go out with very vague ideas of their duties. But in 1734 the
Brethren published "Instructions for the Colony in Georgia"; in 1737
"Instructions for Missionaries to the East"; in 1738 "Instructions
for all Missionaries"; and in 1740 "The Right Way to Convert the
Heathen." Thus even during those early years the Moravian
missionaries were trained in missionary work. They were told what
Gospel to preach and how to preach it. "You are not," said
Zinzendorf, in his "Instructions," "to allow yourselves to be
blinded by the notion that the heathen must be taught first to
believe in God, and then afterwards in Jesus Christ. It is false.
They know already that there is a God. You must preach to them
about the Son. You must be like Paul, who knew nothing but Jesus and
Him crucified. You must speak constantly, in season, and out of
season, of Jesus, the Lamb, the Saviour; and you must tell them that
the way to salvation is belief in this Jesus, the Eternal Son of
God." Instead of discussing doctrinal questions the missionaries
laid the whole stress on the person and sacrifice of Christ. They
avoided dogmatic language. They used the language, not of the
theological world, but of the Gospels. They preached, not a theory
of the Atonement, but the story of the Cross. "We must," said
Spangenberg, "hold to the fact that the blood and death of Jesus are
the diamond in the golden ring of the Gospel."

But alongside this Gospel message the Brethren introduced as far as
possible the stern system of moral discipline which already existed
at Herrnhut. They lived in daily personal touch with the people.
They taught them to be honest, obedient, industrious, and loyal to
the Government. They opened schools, taught reading and writing,
and instructed the girls in sewing and needlework. They divided
their congregations, not only into "Choirs," but also into
"Classes." They laid the stress, not on public preaching, but on
the individual "cure of souls." For this purpose they practised
what was called "The Speaking." At certain fixed seasons, i.e., the
missionary, or one of his helpers, had a private interview with each
member of the congregation. The old system of the Bohemian Brethren
was here revived.89 At these private interviews there was no
possibility of any moral danger. At the head of the men was the
missionary, at the head of the women his wife; for the men there
were male "Helpers," for the women female "Helpers"; and thus all
"speakings" took place between persons of the same sex only. There
were three degrees of discipline. For the first offence the
punishment was reproof; for the second, suspension from the
Communion; for the third, expulsion from the congregation. And thus
the Brethren proved up to the hilt that Christian work among the
heathen was not mere waste of time.

Again, this work was important because it was public. It was not
done in a corner. It was acted on the open stage of history. As
these Brethren laboured among the heathen, they were constantly
coming into close contact with Governors, with trading companies,
and with Boards of Control. In Greenland they were under Danish
rule; in Surinam, under Dutch; in North America, under English; in
the West Indies, under English, French, Danish, Dutch, Swedish,
Spanish, Portuguese; and thus they were teaching a moral lesson to
the whole Western European world. At that time the West Indian
Islands were the gathering ground for all the powers on the Atlantic
seaboard of Europe. There, and there alone in the world, they all
had possessions; and there, in the midst of all these nationalities,
the Brethren accomplished their most successful work. And the
striking fact is that in each of these islands they gained the
approval of the Governor. They were the agents of an international
Church; they were free from all political complications; they could
never be suspected of treachery; they were law-abiding citizens
themselves, and taught their converts to be the same; and thus they
enjoyed the esteem and support of every great Power in Europe.

And this in turn had another grand result. It prepared the way for
Negro Emancipation. We must not, however, give the missionaries too
much credit. As Zinzendorf himself was a firm believer in slavery,
we need not be surprised to find that the Brethren never came
forward as champions of liberty. They never pleaded for
emancipation. They never encouraged their converts to expect it.
They never talked about the horrors of slavery. They never
appealed, like Wilberforce, to Parliament. And yet it was just
these modest Brethren who did the most to make emancipation
possible. Instead of delivering inflamatory speeches, and stirring
up the hot-blooded negroes to rebellion, they taught them rather to
be industrious, orderly, and loyal, and thus show that they were fit
for liberty. If a slave disobeyed his master they punished him.
They acted wisely. If the Brethren had preached emancipation they
would simply have made their converts restive; and these converts,
by rebelling, would only have cut their own throats. Again and
again, in Jamaica and Antigua, the negroes rose in revolt; and again
and again the Governors noticed that the Moravian converts took no
part in the rebellion.

At last the news of these triumphs arrived in England; and the Privy
Council appointed a Committee to inquire into the state of the slave
trade in our West Indian possessions {1787.}. The Committee
appealed to the Brethren for information. The reply was drafted by
Christian Ignatius La Trobe. As La Trobe was then the English
Secretary for the Brethren's missions, he was well qualified to give

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