History of the Moravian Church
J. E. Hutton

Part 3 out of 9

the greatest literary force in the country;48 on the other they took
the smallest part in her theological controversies. For example,
take the case of John Blahoslaw. He was one of the most brilliant
scholars of his day. He was master of a beautiful literary style.
He was a member of the Brethren's Inner Council. He wrote a
"History of the Brethren." He translated the New Testament into
Bohemian. He prepared a standard Bohemian Grammar. He wrote also a
treatise on Music, and other works too many to mention here. And
yet, learned Bishop though he was, he wrote only one theological
treatise, "Election through Grace," and even here he handled his
subject from a practical rather than a theological point of view.

Again, take the case of Jacob Bilek, Augusta's companion in prison.
If ever a man had just cause to hate the Church of Rome it was
surely this humble friend of the great Augusta; and yet he wrote a
full account of their dreary years in prison without saying one
bitter word against his persecutors and tormentors.49 From this
point of view his book is delightful. It is full of piety, of trust
in God, of vivid dramatic description; it has not a bitter word from
cover to cover; and thus it is a beautiful and precious example of
the broad and charitable spirit of the Brethren.

Again, it is surely instructive to note what subject most attracted
the Brethren's attention. For religious debate they cared but
little; for history they had a consuming passion; and now their
leading scholars produced the greatest historical works in the
language. Brother Jaffet wrote a work on the Brethren's Episcopal
Orders, entitled, "The Sword of Goliath." Wenzel Brezan wrote a
history of the "House of Rosenberg," containing much interesting
information about Bohemian social life. Baron Charles von Zerotin
wrote several volumes of memoirs. The whole interest of the
Brethren now was broad and national in character. The more learned
they grew the less part they took in theological disputes. They
regarded such disputes as waste of time; they had no pet doctrines
to defend; they were now in line with the other Protestants of the
country; and they held that the soul was greater than the mind and
good conduct best of all. No longer did they issue "Confessions of
Faith" of their own; no longer did they lay much stress on their
points of difference with Luther. We come here to a point of great
importance. It has been asserted by some historians that the
Brethren never taught the doctrine of Justification by Faith. For
answer we turn to their later Catechism prepared (1554) by Jirek

"In what way," ran one question, "can a sinful man obtain

"By the pure Grace of God alone, through Faith in Jesus Christ our
Lord who of God is made unto us wisdom and righteousness and
sanctification and redemption."

What sort of picture does all this bring before us? It is the
picture of a body of men who had made remarkable progress. No
longer did they despise education; they fostered it more than any
men in the country. No longer did they speak with contempt of
marriage; they spoke of it as a symbol of holier things. It was
time, thought some, for these broad-minded men to have their due
reward. It was time to amend the insulting law, and tear the musty
Edict of St. James to tatters.



Of all the members of the Brethren's Church, the most powerful and
the most discontented was Baron Wenzel von Budowa. He was now
fifty-six years of age. He had travelled in Germany, Denmark,
Holland, England, France and Italy. He had studied at several
famous universities. He had made the acquaintance of many learned
men. He had entered the Imperial service, and served as ambassador
at Constantinople. He had mastered Turkish and Arabic, had studied
the Mohammedan religion, had published the Alcoran in Bohemian, and
had written a treatise denouncing the creed and practice of Islam as
Satanic in origin and character. He belonged to the Emperor's Privy
Council, and also to the Imperial Court of Appeal. He took part in
theological controversies, and preached sermons to his tenants. He
was the bosom friend of Baron Charles von Zerotin, the leading
Brother of Moravia. He corresponded, from time to time, with the
struggling Protestants in Hungary, and had now become the recognised
leader, not only of the Brethren, but of all evangelicals in

He had one great purpose to attain. As the Brethren had rendered
such signal service to the moral welfare of the land, it seemed to
him absurd and unfair that they should still be under the ban of the
law and still be denounced in Catholic pulpits as children of the
devil. He resolved to remedy the evil. The Emperor, Rudolph II.,
paved the way. He was just the man that Budowa required. He was
weak in body and in mind. He had ruined his health, said popular
scandal, by indulging in dissolute pleasures. His face was
shrivelled, his hair bleached, his back bent, his step tottering.
He was too much interested in astrology, gems, pictures, horses,
antique relics and similar curiosities to take much interest in
government; he suffered from religious mania, and was constantly
afraid of being murdered; and his daily hope and prayer was that he
might be spared all needless trouble in this vexatious world and
have absolutely nothing to do. And now he committed an act of
astounding folly. He first revived the Edict of St. James, ordered
the nobles throughout the land to turn out all Protestant pastors
{1602-3.}, and sent a body of armed men to close the Brethren's
Houses at Jungbunzlau; and then, having disgusted two-thirds of his
loyal subjects, he summoned a Diet, and asked for money for a
crusade against the Turks. But this was more than Wenzel could
endure. He attended the Diet, and made a brilliant speech. He had
nothing, he said, to say against the Emperor. He would not blame
him for reviving the musty Edict. For that he blamed some secret
disturbers of the peace. If the Emperor needed money and men, the
loyal knights and nobles of Bohemia would support him. But that
support would be given on certain conditions. If the Emperor wished
his subjects to be loyal, he must first obey the law of the land
himself. "We stand," he said, "one and all by the Confession of
1575, and we do not know a single person who is prepared to submit
to the Consistory at Prague." He finished, wept, prepared a
petition, and sent it in to the poor invisible Rudolph. And Rudolph
replied as Emperors sometimes do. He replied by closing the Diet.

Again, however, six years later, Budowa returned to the attack
{1609.}. He was acting, not merely on behalf of the Brethren, but
on behalf of all Protestants in the country. And this fact is the
key to the situation. As we follow the dramatic story to its sad
and tragic close, we must remember that from this time onward the
Brethren, for all intents and purposes, had almost abandoned their
position as a separate Church, and had cast in their lot, for good
or evil, with the other Protestants in Bohemia. They were striving
now for the recognition, not of their own Confession of Faith, but
of the general Bohemian Protestant Confession presented to the
Emperor, Maximilian II. And thus Budowa became a national hero. He
called a meeting of Lutherans and Brethren in the historic "Green
Saloon," prepared a resolution demanding that the Protestant
Confession be inscribed in the Statute Book, and, followed by a
crowd of nobles and knights, was admitted to the sacred presence of
the Emperor.

Again the Diet was summoned. The hall was crammed, and knights and
nobles jostled each other in the corridors and in the square outside
{Jan. 28th, 1609.}. For some weeks the Emperor, secluded in his
cabinet, held to his point like a hero. The debate was conducted in
somewhat marvellous fashion. There, in the Green Saloon, sat the
Protestants, preparing proposals and petitions. There, in the
Archbishop's palace, sat the Catholics, rather few in number, and
wondering what to do. And there, in his chamber, sat the grizzly,
rickety, imperial Lion, consulting with his councillors, Martinic
and Slawata, and dictating his replies. And then, when the king had
his answer ready, the Diet met in the Council Chamber to hear it
read aloud. His first reply was now as sharp as ever. He declared
that the faith of the Church of Rome was the only lawful faith in
Bohemia. "And as for these Brethren," he said, "whose teaching has
been so often forbidden by royal decrees and decisions of the Diet,
I order them, like my predecessors, to fall in with the Utraquists
or Catholics, and declare that their meetings shall not be permitted
on any pretence whatever."

In vain the Protestants, by way of reply, drew up a monster
petition, and set forth their grievances in detail. They suffered,
they said, not from actual persecution, but from nasty insults and
petty annoyances. They were still described in Catholic pulpits as
heretics and children of the devil. They were still forbidden to
honour the memory of Hus. They were still forbidden to print books
without the consent of the Archbishop. But the King snapped them
short. He told the estates to end their babble, and again closed
the Diet {March 31st.}.

The blood of Budowa was up. The debate, thought he, was fast
becoming a farce. The King was fooling his subjects. The King must
be taught a lesson. As the Diet broke up, he stood at the door, and
shouted out in ringing tones: "Let all who love the King and the
land, let all who care for unity and love, let all who remember the
zeal of our fathers, meet here at six to-morrow morn."

He spent the night with some trusty allies, prepared another
declaration, met his friends in the morning, and informed the King,
in language clear, that the Protestants had now determined to win
their rights by force. And Budowa was soon true to his word. He
sent envoys asking for help to the King's brother Matthias, to the
Elector of Saxony, to the Duke of Brunswick, and to other Protestant
leaders. He called a meeting of nobles and knights in the courtyard
of the castle, and there, with heads bared and right hands upraised,
they swore to be true to each other and to win their liberty at any
price, even at the price of blood. He arranged for an independent
meeting in the town hall of the New Town. The King forbade the
meeting. What better place, replied Budowa, would His Majesty like
to suggest? As he led his men across the long Prague bridge, he was
followed by thousands of supporters. He arrived in due time at the
square in front of the hall. The Royal Captain appeared and ordered
him off. The crowd jeered and whistled the Captain away.

And yet Budowa was no vulgar rebel. He insisted that every session
in the hall should be begun and ended with prayer. He informed the
King, again and again, that all he wished was liberty of worship for
Protestants. He did his best to put an end to the street rows, the
drunken brawls, that now disgraced the city.

For the third time the King summoned the Diet {May 25th.}. The last
round in the terrible combat now began. He ordered the estates to
appear in civilian's dress. They arrived armed to the teeth. He
ordered them to open the proceedings by attending Mass in the
Cathedral. The Catholics alone obeyed; the Protestants held a
service of their own; and yet, despite these danger signals, the
King was as stubborn as ever, and again he sent a message to say
that he held to his first decision. The Diet was thunderstruck,
furious, desperate.

"We have had enough of useless talk," said Count Matthias Thurn; "it
is time to take to arms." The long fight was drawing to a finish.
As the King refused to listen to reason, the members of the Diet,
one and all, Protestants and Catholics alike, prepared an ultimatum
demanding that all evangelical nobles, knights, citizens and
peasants should have full and perfect liberty to worship God in
their own way, and to build schools and churches on all Royal
estates; and, in order that the King might realise the facts of the
case, Budowa formed a Board of thirty directors, of whom fourteen
were Brethren, raised an army in Prague, and sent the nobles flying
through the land to levy money and troops. The country, in fact,
was now in open revolt. And thus, at length compelled by brute
force, the poor old King gave way, and made his name famous in
history by signing the Letter of Majesty and granting full religious
liberty to all adherents of the Bohemian National Protestant
Confession. All adherents of the Confession could worship as they
pleased, and all classes, except the peasantry, could build schools
and churches on Royal estates {July 9th.}. "No decree of any kind,"
ran one sweeping clause, "shall be issued either by us or by our
heirs and succeeding kings against the above established religious

The delight in Prague was boundless. The Letter of Majesty was
carried through the streets in grand triumphal procession. The
walls were adorned with flaming posters. The bells of the churches
were rung. The people met in the Church of the Holy Cross, and
there sang jubilant psalms of thanksgiving and praise. The King's
couriers posted through the land to tell the gladsome news; the
letter was hailed as the heavenly herald of peace and goodwill to
men; and Budowa was adored as a national hero, and the redresser of
his people's wrongs.

But the work of the Diet was not yet complete. As the Brethren, led
by the brave Budowa, had borne the brunt of the battle, we naturally
expect to find that now the victory was won, they would have the
lion's share of the spoils. But they really occupied a rather
modest position. The next duty of the Diet was to make quite sure
that the Letter of Majesty would not be broken. For this purpose
they elected a Board of Twenty-four Defenders, and of these
Defenders only eight were Brethren. Again, the Brethren had now to
submit to the rule of a New National Protestant Consistory. Of that
Consistory the Administrator was a Utraquist Priest; the next in
rank was a Brethren's Bishop; the total number of members was
twelve; and of these twelve only three were Brethren. If the
Brethren, therefore, were fairly represented, they must have
constituted at this time about one-quarter or one-third of the
Protestants in Bohemia.50 They were now a part, in the eyes of the
law, of the National Protestant Church. They were known as
Utraquist Christians. They accepted the National Confession as
their own standard of faith, and though they could still ordain
their own priests, their candidates for the priesthood had first to
be examined by the national Administrator.

And, further, the Brethren had now weakened their union with the
Moravian and Polish branches. No longer did the three parts of the
Church stand upon the same footing. In Poland the Brethren were
still the leading body; in Moravia they were still independent; in
Bohemia alone they bowed to the rule of others. And yet, in some
important respects, they were still as independent as ever. They
could still hold their own Synods and practise their own ceremonies;
they still retained their own Confession of faith; they could still
conduct their own schools and teach their Catechism; and they could
still, above all, enforce as of old their system of moral
discipline. And this they guarded as the apple of their eye.

As soon as the above arrangements were complete they addressed
themselves to the important task of defining their own position.
And for this purpose they met at a General Synod at Zerawic, and
prepared a comprehensive descriptive work, entitled "Ratio
Disciplinæ"--i.e., Account of Discipline.51 It was a thorough,
exhaustive, orderly code of rules and regulations. It was meant as
a guide and a manifesto. It proved to be an epitaph. In the second
place, the Brethren now issued (1615) a new edition of their
Catechism, with the questions and answers in four parallel
columns--Greek, Bohemian, German and Latin;52 and thus, once more,
they shewed their desire to play their part in national education.

Thus, at last, had the Brethren gained their freedom. They had
crossed the Red Sea, had traversed the wilderness, had smitten the
Midianites hip and thigh, and could now settle down in the land of
freedom flowing with milk and honey.


THE DOWNFALL, 1616-1621.

The dream of bliss became a nightmare. As the tide of Protestantism
ebbed and flowed in various parts of the Holy Roman Empire, so the
fortunes of the Brethren ebbed and flowed in the old home of their
fathers. We have seen how the Brethren rose to prosperity and
power. We have now to see what brought about their ruin. It was
nothing in the moral character of the Brethren themselves. It was
purely and simply their geographical position. If Bohemia had only
been an island, as Shakespeare seems to have thought it was, it is
more than likely that the Church of the Brethren would have
flourished there down to the present day. But Bohemia lay in the
very heart of European politics; the King was always a member of the
House of Austria; the House of Austria was the champion of the
Catholic faith, and the Brethren now were crushed to powder in the
midst of that mighty European conflict known as the Thirty Years'
War. We note briefly the main stages of the process.

The first cause was the rising power of the Jesuits. For the last
fifty years these zealous men had been quietly extending their
influence in the country. They had built a magnificent college in
Prague. They had established a number of schools for the common
people. They had obtained positions as tutors in noble families.
They went about from village to village, preaching, sometimes in
the village churches and sometimes in the open air; and one of their
number, Wenzel Sturm, had written an exhaustive treatise denouncing
the doctrines of the Brethren. But now these Jesuits used more
violent measures. They attacked the Brethren in hot, abusive
language. They declared that the wives of Protestant ministers were
whores. They denounced their children as bastards. They declared
that it was better to have the devil in the house than a Protestant
woman. And the more they preached, and the more they wrote, the
keener the party feeling in Bohemia grew.

The next cause was the Letter of Majesty itself. As soon as that
Letter was closely examined, a flaw was found in the crystal. We
come to what has been called the "Church Building Difficulty." It
was clearly provided in one clause of the Letter of Majesty that the
Protestants should have perfect liberty to build churches on all
Royal estates. But now arose the difficult question, what were
Royal estates? What about Roman Catholic Church estates? What
about estates held by Catholic officials as tenants of the King?
Were these Royal estates or were they not? There were two opinions
on the subject. According to the Protestants they were; according
to the Jesuits they were not; and now the Jesuits used this argument
to influence the action of Matthias, the next King of Bohemia. The
dispute soon came to blows. At Klostergrab the land belonged to the
Catholic Archbishop of Prague; at Brunau it belonged to the Abbot of
Brunau; and yet, on each of these estates, the Protestants had
churches. They believed, of course, that they were in the right.
They regarded those estates as Royal estates. They had no desire
to break the law of the land. But now the Catholics began to force
the pace. At Brunau the Abbot interfered and turned the Protestants
out of the church. At Klostergrab the church was pulled down, and
the wood of which it was built was used as firewood; and in each
case the new King, Matthias, took the Catholic side. The truth is,
Matthias openly broke the Letter. He broke it on unquestioned Royal
estates. He expelled Protestant ministers from their pulpits, and
put Catholics in their place. His officers burst into Protestant
churches and interrupted the services; and, in open defiance of the
law of the land, the priests drove Protestants with dogs and
scourges to the Mass, and thrust the wafer down their mouths. What
right, said the Protestants, had the Catholics to do these things?
The Jesuits had an amazing answer ready. For two reasons, they
held, the Letter of Majesty was invalid. It was invalid because it
had been obtained by force, and invalid because it had not been
sanctioned by the Pope. What peace could there be with these
conflicting views? It is clear that a storm was brewing.

The third cause was the famous dispute about the Kingship. As
Matthias was growing old and feeble, it was time to choose his
successor; and Matthias, therefore, summoned a Diet, and informed
the Estates, to their great surprise, that all they had to do now
was to accept as King his adopted son, Ferdinand Archduke of Styria.
At first the Diet was thunderstruck. They had met to choose their
own King. They intended to choose a Protestant, and now they were
commanded to choose this Ferdinand, the most zealous Catholic in
Europe. And yet, for some mysterious reason, the Diet actually
yielded. They surrendered their elective rights; they accepted
Ferdinand as King, and thus, at the most critical and dangerous
point in the whole history of the country, they allowed a Catholic
devotee to become the ruler of a Protestant people. For that fatal
mistake they had soon to pay in full. Some say they were frightened
by threats; some say that the Diet was summoned in a hurry, and that
only a few attended. The truth is, they were completely outwitted.
At this point the Protestant nobles of Bohemia showed that fatal
lack of prompt and united action which was soon to fill the whole
land with all the horrors of war. In vain Budowa raised a vehement
protest. He found but few to support him. If the Protestants
desired peace and good order in Bohemia, they ought to have insisted
upon their rights and elected a Protestant King; and now, in
Ferdinand, they had accepted a man who was pledged to fight for the
Church of Rome with every breath of his body. He was a man of
fervent piety. He was a pupil of the Jesuits. He regarded himself
as the divinely appointed champion of the Catholic faith. He had
already stamped out the Protestants in Styria. He had a strong will
and a clear conception of what he regarded as his duty. He would
rather, he declared, beg his bread from door to door, with his
family clinging affectionately around him, than allow a single
Protestant in his dominions. "I would rather," he said, "rule over a
wilderness than over heretics." But what about his oath to observe
the Letter of Majesty? Should he take the oath or not? If he took
it he would be untrue to his conscience; if he refused he could
never be crowned King of Bohemia. He consulted his friends the
Jesuits. They soon eased his conscience. It was wicked, they said,
of Rudolph II. to sign such a monstrous document; but it was not
wicked for the new King to take the oath to keep it. And,
therefore, Ferdinand took the oath, and was crowned King of Bohemia.
"We shall now see," said a lady at the ceremony, "whether the
Protestants are to rule the Catholics or the Catholics the

She was right. Forthwith the Protestants realised their blunder,
and made desperate efforts to recover the ground they had lost. Now
was the time for the Twenty-four Defenders to arise and do their
duty; now was the time, now or never, to make the Letter no longer a
grinning mockery. They began by acting strictly according to law.
They had been empowered to summon representatives of the Protestant
Estates. They summoned their assembly, prepared a petition, and
sent it off to Matthias. He replied that their assembly was
illegal. He refused to remedy their grievances. The Defenders were
goaded to fury. At their head was a violent man, Henry Thurn. He
resolved on open rebellion. He would have the new King Ferdinand
dethroned and have his two councillors, Martinic and Slawata, put to
death. It was the 23rd of May, 1618. At an early hour on that
fatal day, the Protestant Convention met in the Hradschin, and then,
a little later, the fiery Thurn sallied out with a body of armed
supporters, arrived at the Royal Castle, and forced his way into the
Regent's Chamber, where the King's Councillors were assembled.
There, in a corner, by the stove sat Martinic and Slawata. There,
in that Regent's Chamber, began the cause of all the woe that
followed. There was struck the first blow of the Thirty Years' War.
As Thurn and his henchmen stood in the presence of the two men, who,
in their opinion, had done the most to poison the mind of Matthias,
they felt that the decisive moment had come. The interview was
stormy. Voices rang in wild confusion. The Protestant spokesman
was Paul von Rican. He accused Martinic and Slawata of two great
crimes. They had openly broken the Letter of Majesty, and had
dictated King Matthias's last reply. He appealed to his supporters
crowded into the corridor outside.

"Aye, aye," shouted the crowd.

"Into the Black Tower with them," said some.

"Nay, nay," said Rupow, a member of the Brethren's Church, "out of
the window with them, in the good old Bohemian fashion."

At this signal, agreed upon before, Martinic was dragged to the
window. He begged for a father confessor.

"Commend thy soul to God," said someone. "Are we to allow any Jesuit
scoundrels here?"

"Jesus! Mary!" he screamed.

He was flung headlong from the window. He clutched at the
window-sill. A blow came down on his hands. He had to leave go,
and down he fell, seventy feet, into the moat below.

"Let us see," said someone, "whether his Mary will help him."

He fell on a heap of soft rubbish. He scrambled away with only a
wound in the head.

"By God," said one of the speakers, "his Mary has helped him."

At this point the conspirators appear to have lost their heads. As
Martinic had not been killed by his fall, it was absurd to treat
Slawata in the same way; and yet they now flung him out of the
window, and his secretary Fabricius after him. Not one of the three
was killed, not one was even maimed for life, and through the
country the rumour spread that all three had been delivered by the
Virgin Mary.

>From that moment war was inevitable. As the details of the struggle
do not concern us, it will be enough to state here that the
Defenders now, in slipshod fashion, began to take a variety of
measures to maintain the Protestant cause. They formed a national
Board of Thirty Directors. They assessed new taxes to maintain the
war, but never took the trouble to collect them. They relied more
on outside help than on their own united action. They deposed
Ferdinand II.; they elected Frederick, Elector Palatine, and
son-in-law of James I. of England, as King of Bohemia; and they
ordered the Jesuits out of the kingdom. There was a strange scene
in Prague when these Jesuits departed. They formed in procession in
the streets, and, clad in black, marched off with bowed heads and
loud wailings; and when their houses were examined they were found
full of gunpowder and arms. For the moment the Protestants of
Prague were wild with joy. In the great Cathedral they pulled off
the ornaments and destroyed costly pictures. What part did the
Brethren play in these abominations? We do not know. At this
tragic point in their fateful story our evidence is so lamentably
scanty that it is absolutely impossible to say what part they played
in the revolution. But one thing at least we know without a doubt.
We know that the Catholics were now united and the Protestants
quarrelling with each other; we know that Ferdinand was prompt and
vigorous, and the new King Frederick stupid and slack; and we know,
finally, that the Catholic army, commanded by the famous general
Tilly, was far superior to the Protestant army under Christian of
Anhalt. At last the Catholic army appeared before the walls of
Prague. The battle of the White Hill was fought (November 8th,
1620). The new King, in the city, was entertaining some ambassadors
to dinner. The Protestant army was routed, the new King fled from
the country, and once again Bohemia lay crushed under the heel of
the conqueror.

At this time the heel of the conqueror consisted in a certain Prince
Lichtenstein. He was made regent of Prague, and was entrusted with
the duty of restoring the country to order. He set about his work
in a cool and methodical manner. He cleared the rabble out of the
streets. He recalled the Jesuits. He ordered the Brethren out of
the kingdom. He put a Roman Catholic Priest into every church in
Prague; and then he made the strange announcement that all the
rebels, as they were called, would be freely pardoned, and invited
the leading Protestant nobles to appear before him at Prague. They
walked into the trap like flies into a cobweb. If the nobles had
only cared to do so, they might all have escaped after the battle of
the White Hill; for Tilly, the victorious general, had purposely
given them time to do so. But for some reason they nearly all
preferred to stay. And now Lichtenstein had them in his grasp. He
had forty-seven leaders arrested in one night. He imprisoned them
in the castle tower, had them tried and condemned, obtained the
approval of Ferdinand, and then, while some were pardoned, informed
the remaining twenty-seven that they had two days in which to
prepare for death. They were to die on June 21st. Among those
leaders about a dozen were Brethren. We have arrived at the last
act of the tragedy. We have seen the grim drama develop, and when
the curtain falls the stage will be covered with corpses and blood.



The City of Prague was divided into two parts, the Old Town and the
New Town. In the middle of the Old Town was a large open space,
called the Great Square. On the west side of the Great Square stood
the Council House, on the east the old Thein Church. The condemned
prisoners, half of whom were Brethren, were in the Council House: in
front of their window was the scaffold, draped in black cloth,
twenty feet high, and twenty-two yards square; from the window they
stepped out on to a balcony, and from the balcony to the scaffold
ran a short flight of steps. In that Great Square, and on that
scaffold, we find the scene of our story.

When early in the morning of Monday, June 21st, the assembled
prisoners looked out of the windows of their rooms to take their
last view of earth, they saw a splendid, a brilliant, a gorgeous,
but to them a terrible scene {1621.}. They saw God's sun just
rising in the east and reddening the sky and shining in each other's
faces; they saw the dark black scaffold bathed in light, and the
squares of infantry and cavalry ranged around it; they saw the
eager, excited throng, surging and swaying in the Square below and
crowding on the house-tops to right and left; and they saw on the
further side of the square the lovely twin towers of the old Thein
Church, where Gregory had knelt and Rockycana had preached in the
brave days of old. As the church clocks chimed the hour of five a
gun was fired from the castle; the prisoners were informed that
their hour had come, and were ordered to prepare for their doom; and
Lichtenstein and the magistrates stepped out on to the balcony, an
awning above them to screen them from the rising sun. The last act
of the tragedy opened.

As there was now a long morning's work to be done, that work was
begun at once; and as the heads of the martyrs fell off the block in
quick succession the trumpets brayed and the drums beat an
accompaniment. Grim and ghastly was the scene in that Great Square
in Prague, on that bright June morning well nigh three hundred years
ago. There fell the flower of the Bohemian nobility; and there was
heard the swan song of the Bohemian Brethren. As the sun rose
higher in the eastern sky and shone on the windows of the Council
House, the sun of the Brethren's pride and power was setting in a
sea of blood; and clear athwart the lingering light stood out, for
all mankind to see, the figures of the last defenders of their
freedom and their faith. Among the number not one had shown the
white feather in prospect of death. Not a cheek was blanched, not a
voice faltered as the dread hour drew near. One and all they had
fortified themselves to look the waiting angel of death in the face.
As they sat in their rooms the evening before--a sabbath evening it
was--they had all, in one way or another, drawn nigh to God in
prayer. In one room the prisoners had taken the Communion together,
in another they joined in singing psalms and hymns; in another they
had feasted in a last feast of love. Among these were various
shades of faith--Lutherans, Calvinists, Utraquists, Brethren; but
now all differences were laid aside, for all was nearly over now.
One laid the cloth, and another the plates; a third brought water
and a fourth said the simple grace. As the night wore on they lay
down on tables and benches to snatch a few hours of that troubled
sleep which gives no rest. At two they were all broad awake again,
and again the sound of psalms and hymns was heard; and as the first
gleams of light appeared each dressed himself as though for a
wedding, and carefully turned down the ruffle of his collar so as to
give the executioner no extra trouble.

Swiftly, in order, and without much cruelty the gory work was done.
The morning's programme had all been carefully arranged. At each
corner of the square was a squad of soldiers to hold the people in
awe, and to prevent an attempt at rescue. One man, named Mydlar,
was the executioner; and, being a Protestant, he performed his
duties with as much decency and humanity as possible. He used four
different swords, and was paid about £100 for his morning's work.
With his first sword he beheaded eleven; with his second, five;
with his two last, eight. The first of these swords is still to be
seen at Prague, and has the names of its eleven victims engraven
upon it. Among these names is the name of Wenzel von Budowa. In
every instance Mydlar seems to have done his duty at one blow. At
his side stood an assistant, and six masked men in black. As soon
as Mydlar had severed the neck, the assistant placed the dead man's
right hand on the block; the sword fell again; the hand dropped at
the wrist; and the men in black, as silent as night, gathered up the
bleeding members, wrapped them in clean black cloth, and swiftly
bore them away.

The name of Budowa was second on the list. As many of the records
of the time were destroyed by fire, we are not able to tell in full
what part Budowa had played in the great revolt. He had, however,
been a leader on the conquered side. He had fought, as we know, for
the Letter of Majesty; he had bearded Rudolph II. in his den; he had
openly opposed the election of Ferdinand II.; he had welcomed
Frederick, the Protestant Winter King, at the city gates; and,
therefore, he was justly regarded by Ferdinand as a champion of the
Protestant national faith and an enemy of the Catholic Church and
throne. As he was now over seventy years of age it is hardly likely
that he had fought on the field of battle. After the battle of the
White Mountain he had retired with his family to his country estate.
He had then, strange to say, been one of those entrapped into
Prague by Lichtenstein, and had been imprisoned in the White Tower.
There he was tried and condemned as a rebel, and there, as even
Gindely admits, he bore himself like a hero to the last. At first,
along with some other nobles, he signed a petition to the Elector of
Saxony, imploring him to intercede with the Emperor on their behalf.
The petition received no answer. He resigned himself to his fate.
He was asked why he had walked into the lion's den. For some
reason that I fail to understand Gindely says that what we are told
about the conduct of the prisoners has only a literary interest. To
my mind the last words of Wenzel of Budowa are of the highest
historical importance. They show how the fate of the Brethren's
Church was involved in the fate of Bohemia. He had come to Prague
as a patriot and as a Brother. He was dying both for his country
and for his Church.

"My heart impelled me to come," he said; "to forsake my country and
its cause would have been sinning against my conscience. Here am I,
my God, do unto Thy servant as seemeth good unto Thee. I would
rather die myself than see my country die."

As he sat in his room on the Saturday evening--two days before the
execution--he was visited by two Capuchin monks. He was amazed at
their boldness. As they did not understand Bohemian, the
conversation was conducted in Latin. They informed him that their
visit was one of pity.

"Of pity?" asked the white-haired old Baron, "How so?"

"We wish to show your lordship the way to heaven." He assured them
that he knew the way and stood on firm ground.

"My Lord only imagines," they rejoined, "that he knows the way of
salvation. He is mistaken. Not being a member of the Holy Church,
he has no share in the Church's salvation."

But Budowa placed his trust in Christ alone.

"I have this excellent promise," he said, "Whosoever believeth in
Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Therefore, until my
last moment, will I abide by our true Church."

Thus did Budowa declare the faith of the Brethren. The Capuchin
monks were horrified. They smote their breasts, declared that so
hardened a heretic they had never seen, crossed themselves
repeatedly, and left him sadly to his fate.

For the last time, on the Monday morning, he was given another
chance to deny his faith. Two Jesuits came to see him.

"We have come to save my lord's soul," they said, "and to perform a
work of mercy."

"Dear fathers," replied Budowa, "I thank my God that His Holy Spirit
has given me the assurance that I will be saved through the blood of
the Lamb." He appealed to the words of St. Paul: "I know whom I have
believed: henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of
righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at
that day."

"But," said the Jesuits, "Paul there speaks of himself, not of

"You lie," said Budowa, "for does he not expressly add: 'and not to
me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.'"

And after a little more argumentation, the Jesuits left in disgust.

The last moment in Budowa's life now arrived. The messenger came
and told him it was his turn to die. He bade his friends farewell.

"I go," he declared, "in the garment of righteousness; thus arrayed
shall I appear before God."

Alone, with firm step he strode to the scaffold, stroking proudly
his silver hair and beard.

"Thou old grey head of mine," said he, "thou art highly honoured;
thou shalt be adorned with the Martyr-Crown."

As he knelt and prayed he was watched by the pitying eyes of the two
kind-hearted Jesuits who had come to see him that morning. He
prayed for his country, for his Church, for his enemies, and
committed his soul to Christ; the sword flashed brightly in the sun;
and one strong blow closed the restless life of Wenzel von Budowa,
the "Last of the Bohemians."

And with his death there came the death of the Ancient Church of the
Brethren. From the moment when Budowa's hoary head fell from the
block the destruction of the Church was only a question of time. As
Budowa died, so died the others after him. We have no space to tell
here in detail how his bright example was followed; how nearly all
departed with the words upon their lips, "Into Thy hands I commend
my spirit"; how the drums beat louder each time before the sword
fell, that the people might not hear the last words of triumphant
confidence in God; how Caspar Kaplir, an old man of eighty-six,
staggered up to the scaffold arrayed in a white robe, which he
called his wedding garment, but was so weak that he could not hold
his head to the block; how Otto von Los looked up and said, "Behold
I see the heavens opened"; how Dr. Jessen, the theologian, had his
tongue seized with a pair of tongs, cut off at the roots with a
knife, and died with the blood gushing from his mouth; how three
others were hanged on a gallows in the Square; how the fearful work
went steadily on till the last head had fallen, and the black
scaffold sweated blood; and how the bodies of the chiefs were flung
into unconsecrated ground, and their heads spitted on poles in the
city, there to grin for full ten years as a warning to all who held
the Protestant faith. In all the story of the Brethren's Church
there has been no other day like that. It was the day when the
furies seemed to ride triumphant in the air, when the God of their
fathers seemed to mock at the trial of the innocent, and when the
little Church that had battled so bravely and so long was at last
stamped down by the heel of the conqueror, till the life-blood
flowed no longer in her veins.

Not, indeed, till the last breath of Church life had gone did the
fearful stamping cease. The zeal of Ferdinand knew no bounds. He
was determined, not only to crush the Brethren, but to wipe their
memory from off the face of the earth. He regarded the Brethren as
a noisome pest. Not a stone did he and his servants leave unturned
to destroy them. They began with the churches. Instead of razing
them to the ground, which would, of course, have been wanton waste,
they turned them into Roman Catholic Chapels by the customary
methods of purification and rededication. They rubbed out the
inscriptions on the walls, and put new ones in their places, lashed
the pulpits with whips, beat the altars with sticks, sprinkled holy
water to cleanse the buildings of heresy, opened the graves and
dishonoured the bones of the dead. Where once was the cup for
Communion was now the image of the Virgin. Where once the Brethren
had sung their hymns and read their Bibles were now the Confessional
and the Mass.

Meanwhile the Brethren had been expelled from Bohemia. It is a
striking proof of the influence of the Brethren that Ferdinand
turned his attention to them before he troubled about the other
Protestants. They had been the first in moral power; they had done
the most to spread the knowledge of the Bible; they had produced the
greatest literary men of the country; and, therefore, now they must
be the first to go. What actually happened to many of the Brethren
during the next few years no tongue can tell. But we know enough.
We know that Ferdinand cut the Letter of Majesty in two with his
scissors. We know that thirty-six thousand families left Bohemia
and Moravia, and that the population of Bohemia dwindled from three
millions to one. We know that about one-half of the property--
lands, houses, castles, churches--passed over into the hands of the
King. We know that the University of Prague was handed over to the
Jesuits. We know that the scandalous order was issued that all
Protestant married ministers who consented to join the Church of
Rome might keep their wives by passing them off as cooks. We know
that villages were sacked; that Kralitz Bibles, Hymn-books,
Confessions, Catechisms, and historical works of priceless value--
among others Blahoslaw's "History of the Brethren"--were burned in
thousand; and that thus nearly every trace of the Brethren was swept
out of the land. We know that some of the Brethren were hacked in
pieces, that some were tortured, that some were burned alive, that
some swung on gibbets at the city gates and at the country
cross-roads among the carrion crows. For six years Bohemia was a
field of blood, and Spanish soldiers, drunk and raging, slashed and
pillaged on every hand. "Oh, to what torments," says a clergyman of
that day, "were the promoters of the Gospel exposed! How they were
tortured and massacred! How many virgins were violated to death!
How many respectable women abused! How many children torn from
their mothers' breasts and cut in pieces in their presence! How
many dragged from their beds and thrown naked from the windows!
Good God! What cries of woe we were forced to hear from those who
lay upon the rack, and what groans and terrible outcries from those
who besought the robbers to spare them for God's sake." It was thus
that the Brethren, at the point of the sword, were driven from
hearth and home: thus that they fled before the blast and took
refuge in foreign lands; thus, amid bloodshed, and crime, and
cruelty, and nameless torture, that the Ancient Church of the
Bohemian Brethren bade a sad farewell to the land of its birth, and
disappeared from the eyes of mankind.

Let us review the story of that wonderful Church. What a marvellous
change had come upon it! It began in the quiet little valley of
Kunwald: it ended in the noisy streets of Prague. It began in peace
and brotherly love: it ended amid the tramp of horses, the clank of
armour, the swish of swords, the growl of artillery, the whistle of
bullets, the blare of trumpets, the roll of drums, and the moans of
the wounded and the dying. It began in the teaching of the Sermon
on the Mount: it ended amid the ghastly horrors of war. What was it
that caused the destruction of that Church? At this point some
historians, being short of facts, have thought fit to indulge in
philosophical reflections; and, following the stale philosophy of
Bildad--that all suffering is the punishment of sin--have informed
us that the Brethren were now the victims of internal moral decay.
They had lost, we are told, their sense of unity; they had relaxed
their discipline; they had become morally weak; and the day of their
external prosperity was the day of their internal decline. For this
pious and utterly unfounded opinion the evidence usually summoned is
the fact that Bishop Amos Comenius, in a sermon entitled "Haggai
Redivivus," had some rather severe remarks to make about the sins of
his Brethren. But Bishops' sermons are dangerous historical
evidence. It is not the business of a preacher to tell the whole
truth in one discourse. He is not a witness in the box; he is a
prophet aiming at some special moral reform. If a Bishop is
lecturing his Brethren for their failings he is sure to indulge, not
exactly in exaggeration, but in one-sided statements of the facts.
He will talk at length about the sins, and say nothing about the
virtues. It is, of course, within the bounds of possibility that
when the Brethren became more prosperous they were not so strict in
some of their rules as they had been in earlier days; and it is also
true that when Wenzel von Budowa summoned his followers to arms, the
deed was enough, as one writer remarks, to make Gregory the
Patriarch groan in his grave. But of any serious moral decline
there is no solid proof. It is absurd to blame the Brethren for
mixing in politics, and absurd to say that this mixing was the cause
of their ruin. At that time in Bohemia religion and politics were
inseparable. If a man took a definite stand in religion he took
thereby a definite stand in politics. To be a Protestant was to be
a rebel. If Budowa had never lifted a finger, the destruction of
the Brethren would have been no less complete. The case of Baron
Charles von Zerotin proves the point. He took no part in the
rebellion; he sided, in the war, with the House of Hapsburg; he
endeavoured, that is, to remain a Protestant and yet at the same
time a staunch supporter of Ferdinand; and yet, loyal subject though
he was, he was not allowed, except for a few years, to shelter
Protestant ministers in his castle, and had finally to sell his
estates and to leave the country. At heart, Comenius had a high
opinion of his Brethren. For nearly fifty weary years--as we shall
see in the next chapter--this genius and scholar longed and strove
for the revival of the Brethren's Church, and in many of his books
he described the Brethren, not as men who had disgraced their
profession, but as heroes holding the faith in purity. He described
his Brethren as broad-minded men, who took no part in religious
quarrels, but looked towards heaven, and bore themselves affably to
all; he said to the exiles in one of his letters, "You have endured
to the end"; he described them again, in a touching appeal addressed
to the Church of England, as a model of Christian simplicity; and he
attributed their downfall in Bohemia, not to any moral weakness, but
to their neglect of education. If the Brethren, he argued, had paid
more attention to learning, they would have gained the support of
powerful friends, who would not have allowed them to perish. I
admit, of course, that Comenius was naturally partial, and that when
he speaks in praise of the Brethren we must receive his evidence
with caution; but, on the other hand, I hold that the theory of a
serious moral decline, so popular with certain German historians, is
not supported by evidence. If the Brethren had shown much sign of
corruption we should expect to find full proof of the fact in the
Catholic writers of the day. But such proof is not to hand. Not
even the Jesuit historian, Balbin, had anything serious to say
against the Brethren. The only Catholic writer, as far as I know,
who attacked their character was the famous Papal Nuncio, Carlo
Caraffa. He says that the Brethren in Moravia had become a little
ambitious and avaricious, "with some degree of luxury in their
habits of life";53 but he has no remarks of a similar nature to make
about the Brethren in Bohemia. The real cause of the fall of the
Brethren was utterly different. They fell, not because they were
morally weak, but because they were killed by the sword or forcibly
robbed of their property. They fell because Bohemia fell; and
Bohemia fell for a variety of reasons; partly because her peasants
were serfs and had no fight left in them; partly because her nobles
blundered in their choice of a Protestant King; and partly because,
when all is said, she was only a little country in the grip of a
mightier power. In some countries the Catholic reaction was due to
genuine religious fervour; in Bohemia it was brought about by brute
force; and even with all his money and his men King Ferdinand found
the destruction of the Brethren no easy task. He had the whole
house of Hapsburg on his side; he had thousands of mercenary
soldiers from Spain; he was restrained by no scruples of conscience;
and yet it took him six full years to drive the Brethren from the
country. And even then he had not completed his work. In spite of
his efforts, many thousands of the people still remained Brethren at
heart; and as late as 1781, when Joseph II. issued his Edict of
Toleration, 100,000 in Bohemia and Moravia declared themselves
Brethren. We have here a genuine proof of the Brethren's vigour.
It had been handed on from father to son through five generations.
For the Brethren there was still no legal recognition in Bohemia
and Moravia; the Edict applied to Lutherans and Calvinists only; and
if the Brethren had been weak men they might now have called
themselves Lutherans or Calvinists. But this, of course, carries us
beyond the limits of this chapter. For the present King Ferdinand
had triumphed; and word was sent to the Pope at Rome that the Church
of the Brethren was no more.



But the cause of the Brethren's Church was not yet lost. As the
Brethren fled before the blast, it befell, in the wonderful
providence of God, that all their best and noblest qualities--their
broadness of view, their care for the young, their patience in
suffering, their undaunted faith--shone forth in undying splendour
in the life and character of one great man; and that man was the
famous John Amos Comenius, the pioneer of modern education and the
last Bishop of the Bohemian Brethren. He was born on March 18th,
1592, at Trivnitz, a little market town in Moravia. He was only six
years old when he lost his parents through the plague. He was taken
in hand by his sister, and was educated at the Brethren's School at
Ungarisch-Brod. As he soon resolved to become a minister, he was
sent by the Brethren to study theology, first at the Calvinist
University of Herborn in Nassau, and then at the Calvinist
University of Heidelberg. For two years (1614-1616) he then acted
as master in the Brethren's Higher School at Prerau, and then became
minister of the congregation at Fulneck. There, too, the Brethren
had a school; and there, both as minister and teacher, Comenius,
with his young wife and family, was as happy as the livelong day.
But his happiness was speedily turned to misery. The Thirty Years'
War broke out. What part he took in the Bohemian Revolution we have
no means of knowing. He certainly favoured the election of
Frederick, and helped his cause in some way. "I contributed a nail
or two," he says,54 "to strengthen the new throne." What sort of
nail he means we do not know. The new throne did not stand very
long. The troops of Ferdinand appeared at Fulneck. The village was
sacked. Comenius reeled with horror. He saw the weapons for
stabbing, for chopping, for cutting, for pricking, for hacking, for
tearing and for burning. He saw the savage hacking of limbs, the
spurting of blood, the flash of fire.

"Almighty God," he wrote in one of his books, "what is happening?
Must the whole world perish?"

His house was pillaged and gutted; his books and his manuscripts
were burned; and he himself, with his wife and children, had now to
flee in hot haste from Fulneck and to take refuge for a while on the
estate of Baron Charles von Zerotin at Brandeis-on-the-Adler. To
the Brethren Brandeis had long been a sacred spot. There Gregory
the Patriarch had breathed his last, and there his bones lay buried;
there many an historic Brethren's Synod had been held; and there
Comenius took up his abode in a little wood cottage outside the town
which tradition said had been built by Gregory himself. He had lost
his wife and one of his children on the way from Fulneck; he had
lost his post as teacher and minister; and now, for the sake of his
suffering Brethren, he wrote his beautiful classical allegory, "The
Labyrinth of the World and the Paradise of the Heart."55 For
historical purposes this book is of surpassing value. It is a
revelation. It is a picture both of the horrors of the time and of
the deep religious life of the Brethren. As Comenius fled from
Fulneck to Brandeis he saw sights that harrowed his soul, and now in
his cottage at the foot of the hills he described what he had seen.
The whole land, said Comenius, was now in a state of disorder. The
reign of justice had ended. The reign of pillage had begun. The
plot of the book is simple. From scene to scene the pilgrim goes,
and everything fills him with disgust. The pilgrim, of course, is
Comenius himself; the "Labyrinth" is Bohemia; and the time is the
early years of the Thirty Years' War. He had studied the social
conditions of Bohemia; he had seen men of all ranks and all
occupations; and now, in witty, satirical language, he held the
mirror up to nature. What sort of men were employed by Ferdinand to
administer justice in Bohemia? Comenius gave them fine sarcastic
names. He called the judges Nogod, Lovestrife, Hearsay, Partial,
Loveself, Lovegold, Takegift, Ignorant, Knowlittle, Hasty and
Slovenly; he called the witnesses Calumny, Lie and Suspicion; and,
in obvious allusion to Ferdinand's seizure of property, he named the
statute-book "The Rapacious Defraudment of the Land." He saw the
lords oppressing the poor, sitting long at table, and discussing
lewd and obscene matters. He saw the rich idlers with bloated
faces, with bleary eyes, with swollen limbs, with bodies covered
with sores. He saw the moral world turned upside down. No longer,
said Comenius, did men in Bohemia call things by their right names.
They called drunkenness, merriment; greed, economy; usury,
interest; lust, love; pride, dignity; cruelty, severity; and
laziness, good nature. He saw his Brethren maltreated in the vilest
fashion. Some were cast into the fire; some were hanged, beheaded,
crucified;56 some were pierced, chopped, tortured with pincers, and
roasted to death on grid-irons. He studied the lives of professing
Christians, and found that those who claimed the greatest piety were
the sorriest scoundrels in the land. "They drink and vomit," he
said, "quarrel and fight, rob and pillage one another by cunning and
by violence, neigh and skip from wantonness, shout and whistle, and
commit fornication and adultery worse than any of the others." He
watched the priests, and found them no better than the people. Some
snored, wallowing in feather beds; some feasted till they became
speechless; some performed dances and leaps; some passed their time
in love-making and wantonness.

For these evils Comenius saw one remedy only, and that remedy was
the cultivation of the simple and beautiful religion of the
Brethren. The last part of his book, "The Paradise of the Heart,"
is delightful. Comenius was a marvellous writer. He combined the
biting satire of Swift with the devotional tenderness of Thomas à
Kempis. As we linger over the closing sections of his book, we can
see that he then regarded the Brethren as almost ideal Christians.
Among them he found no priests in gaudy attire, no flaunting
wealth, no grinding poverty; and passing their time in peace and
quietness, they cherished Christ in their hearts. "All," he says,
"were in simple attire, and their ways were gentle and kind. I
approached one of their preachers, wishing to speak to him. When,
as is our custom, I wished to address him according to his rank, he
permitted it not, calling such things worldly fooling." To them
ceremonies were matters of little importance. "Thy religion," said
the Master to the Pilgrim--i.e., to the Brethren's Church--"shall be
to serve me in quiet, and not to bind thyself to any ceremonies, for
I do not bind thee by them."

But Comenius did not stay long at Brandeis-on-the-Adler {1628.}. As
Zerotin had sided with the House of Hapsburg, he had been allowed,
for a few years, to give shelter to about forty Brethren's
ministers; but now commissioners appeared at his Castle, and ordered
him to send these ministers away. The last band of exiles now set
out for Poland. The leader was Comenius himself. As they bade
farewell to their native land they did so in the firm conviction
that they themselves should see the day when the Church of the
Brethren should stand once more in her ancient home; and as they
stood on a spur of the Giant Mountains, and saw the old loved hills
and dales, the towns and hamlets, the nestling churches, Comenius
raised his eyes to heaven and uttered that historic prayer which was
to have so marvellous an answer. He prayed that in the old home God
would preserve a "Hidden Seed," which would one day grow to a tree;
and then the whole band struck up a hymn and set out for Poland.
Pathetic was the marching song they sang:--

Nought have we taken with us,
All to destruction is hurled,
We have only our Kralitz Bibles,
And our Labyrinth of the World.

Comenius led the Brethren to Lissa, in Poland, and Lissa became the
metropolis of the exiles.

What happened to many of the exiles no tongue can tell. We know
that some Brethren went to Hungary and held together for thirty or
forty years; that some were welcomed by the Elector of Saxony and
became Lutherans; that some found their way to Holland and became
Reformed Protestants; that some settled in Lusatia, Saxony; that a
few, such as the Cennicks, crossed the silver streak and found a
home in England; and that, finally, a number remained in Bohemia and
Moravia, and gathered in the neighbourhood of Landskron,
Leitomischl, Kunewalde and Fulneck. What became of these last, the
"Hidden Seed," we shall see before very long. For the present they
buried their Bibles in their gardens, held midnight meetings in
garrets and stables, preserved their records in dovecotes and in the
thatched roofs of their cottages, and, feasting on the glorious
promises of the Book of Revelation--a book which many of them knew
by heart--awaited the time when their troubles should blow by and
the call to arise should sound.

Meanwhile Comenius had never abandoned hope. He was sure that the
Brethren's Church would revive, and equally sure of the means of her
revival. For some years there had flourished in the town of Lissa a
famous Grammar School. It was founded by Count Raphael IV.
Leszczynski; it had recently become a Higher School, or what
Germans call a gymnasium, and now it was entirely in the hands of
the Brethren. The patron, Count Raphael V. Leszczynski, was a
Brother;57 the director was John Rybinski, a Brethren's minister;
the co-director was another Brethren's minister, Michael Henrici;
and Comenius accepted the post of teacher, and entered on the
greatest task of his life. He had two objects before him. He
designed to revive the Church of the Brethren and to uplift the
whole human race; and for each of these purposes he employed the
very same method. The method was education. If the Brethren, said
Comenius, were to flourish again, they must pay more attention to
the training of the young than ever they had done in days gone by.
He issued detailed instructions to his Brethren. They must begin,
he said, by teaching the children the pure word of God in their
homes. They must bring their children up in habits of piety. They
must maintain the ancient discipline of the Brethren. They must
live in peace with other Christians, and avoid theological
bickerings. They must publish good books in the Bohemian language.
They must build new schools wherever possible, and endeavour to
obtain the assistance of godly nobles. We have here the key to the
whole of Comenius's career. It is the fashion now with many
scholars to divide his life into two distinct parts. On the one
hand, they say, he was a Bishop of the Brethren's Church; on the
other hand he was an educational reformer. The distinction is false
and artificial. His whole life was of a piece. He never
distinguished between his work as a Bishop and his work as an
educational reformer. He drew no line between the secular and the
sacred. He loved the Brethren's Church to the end of his days; he
regarded her teaching as ideal; he laboured and longed for her
revival; and he believed with all the sincerity of his noble and
beautiful soul that God would surely enable him to revive that
Church by means of education and uplift the world by means of that
regenerated Church.

And now for thirteen years, in the Grammar School at Lissa, Comenius
devoted the powers of his mind to this tremendous task. What was
it, he asked, that had caused the downfall of the Brethren in
Bohemia and Moravia? It was their cruel and senseless system of
education. He had been to a Brethren's School himself, and had come
to the conclusion that in point of method the schools of the
Brethren were no better than the other schools of Europe. "They
are," he declared, "the terror of boys and the slaughter-houses of
minds; places where a hatred of literature and books is contracted,
where two or more years are spent in learning what might be acquired
in one, where what ought to be poured in gently is violently forced
and beaten in, and where what ought to be put clearly is presented
in a confused and intricate way as if it were a collection of
puzzles." The poor boys, he declared, were almost frightened to
death. They needed skins of tin; they were beaten with fists, with
canes and with birch-rods till the blood streamed forth; they were
covered with scars, stripes, spots and weals; and thus they had
learned to hate the schools and all that was taught therein.

He had already tried to introduce a reform. He had learned his new
ideas about education, not from the Brethren, but at the University
of Herborn. He had studied there the theories of Wolfgang Ratich;
he had tried to carry out these theories in the Brethren's schools
at Prerau and Fulneck; and now at Lissa, where he soon became
director, he introduced reforms which spread his fame throughout the
civilized world. His scheme was grand and comprehensive. He held
that if only right methods were employed all things might be taught
to all men. "There is," he said, "nothing in heaven or earth or in
the waters, nothing in the abyss under the earth, nothing in the
human body, nothing in the soul, nothing in Holy Writ, nothing in
the arts, nothing in politics, nothing in the Church, of which the
little candidates for wisdom shall be wholly ignorant." His faith
in the power of education was enormous. It was the road, he said,
to knowledge, to character, to fellowship with God, to eternal life.
He divided the educational course into four stages--the "mother
school," the popular school, the Latin school and the University;
and on each of these stages he had something original to say.

For mothers Comenius wrote a book, entitled the "School of Infancy."
In England this book is scarcely known at all: in Bohemia it is a
household treasure. Comenius regarded it as a work of first-rate
importance. What use, he asked, were schemes of education if a good
foundation were not first laid by the mother? For the first six
years of his life, said Comenius, the child must be taught by his
mother. If she did her work properly she could teach him many
marvellous things. He would learn some physics by handling things;
some optics by naming colours, light and darkness; some astronomy by
studying the twinkling stars; some geography by trudging the
neighbouring streets and hills; some chronology by learning the
hours, the days and the months; some history by a chat on local
events; some geometry by measuring things for himself; some statics
by trying to balance his top; some mechanics by building his little
toy-house; some dialectics by asking questions; some economics by
observing his mother's skill as a housekeeper; and some music and
poetry by singing psalms and hymns. As Comenius penned these ideal
instructions, he must surely have known that nine mothers out of ten
had neither the patience nor the skill to follow his method; and yet
he insisted that, in some things, the mother had a clear course
before her. His advice was remarkably sound. At what age, ask
mothers, should the education of a child begin? It should begin,
said Comenius, before the child is born. At that period in her life
the expectant mother must be busy and cheerful, be moderate in her
food, avoid all worry, and keep in constant touch with God by
prayer; and thus the child will come into the world well equipped
for the battle of life. She must, of course, nurse the child
herself. She must feed him, when weaned, on plain and simple food.
She must provide him with picture books; and, above all, she must
teach him to be clean in his habits, to obey his superiors, to be
truthful and polite, to bend the knee and fold his hands in prayer,
and to remember that the God revealed in Christ was ever near at

Again, Comenius has been justly called the "Father of the Elementary
School." It was here that his ideas had the greatest practical
value. His first fundamental principle was that in all elementary
schools the scholars must learn in their native language only. He
called these schools "Mother tongue schools." For six or eight
years, said Comenius, the scholar must hear no language but his own;
and his whole attention must be concentrated, not on learning words
like a parrot, but on the direct study of nature. Comenius has been
called the great Sense-Realist. He had no belief in learning
second-hand. He illustrated his books with pictures. He gave his
scholars object lessons. He taught them, not about words, but about
things. "The foundation of all learning consists," he said, "in
representing clearly to the senses sensible objects." He insisted
that no boy or girl should ever have to learn by heart anything
which he did not understand. He insisted that nature should be
studied, not out of books, but by direct contact with nature
herself. "Do we not dwell in the garden of nature," he asked, "as
well as the ancients? Why should we not use our eyes, ears and
noses as well as they? Why should we not lay open the living book
of nature?" He applied these ideas to the teaching of religion and
morals. In order to show his scholars the meaning of faith, he
wrote a play entitled "Abraham the Patriarch," and then taught them
to act it; and, in order to warn them against shallow views of life,
he wrote a comedy, "Diogenes the Cynic, Revived." He was no vulgar
materialist. His whole object was moral and religious. If Comenius
had lived in the twentieth century, he would certainly have been
disgusted and shocked by the modern demand for a purely secular
education. He would have regarded the suggestion as an insult to
human nature. All men, he said, were made in the image of God; all
men had in them the roots of eternal wisdom; all men were capable of
understanding something of the nature of God; and, therefore, the
whole object of education was to develop, not only the physical and
intellectual, but also the moral and spiritual powers, and thus fit
men and women to be, first, useful citizens in the State, and then
saints in the Kingdom of Heaven beyond the tomb. From court to
court he would lead the students onward, from the first court
dealing with nature to the last court dealing with God. "It is," he
said, "our bounden duty to consider the means whereby the whole body
of Christian youth may be stirred to vigour of mind and the love of
heavenly things." He believed in caring for the body, because the
body was the temple of the Holy Ghost; and, in order to keep the
body fit, he laid down the rule that four hours of study a day was
as much as any boy or girl could stand. For the same reason he
objected to corporal punishment; it was a degrading insult to God's
fair abode. For the same reason he held that at all severe
punishment should be reserved for moral offences only. "The whole
object of discipline," he said, "is to form in those committed to
our charge a disposition worthy of the children of God." He
believed, in a word, in the teaching of religion in day-schools; he
believed in opening school with morning prayers, and he held that
all scholars should be taught to say passages of Scripture by heart,
to sing psalms, to learn a Catechism and to place their trust in the
salvation offered through Jesus Christ. And yet Comenius did not
insist on the teaching of any definite religious creed. He belonged
himself to a Church that had no creed; he took a broader view of
religion than either the Lutherans or the Calvinists; he believed
that Christianity could be taught without a formal dogmatic
statement; and thus, if I understand him aright, he suggested a
solution of a difficult problem which baffles our cleverest
politicians to-day.

Again Comenius introduced a new way of learning languages. His
great work on this subject was entitled "Janua Linguarum
Reserata"--i.e., The Gate of Languages Unlocked. Of all his works
this was the most popular. It spread his fame all over Europe. It
was translated into fifteen different languages. It became, next to
the Bible, the most widely known book on the Continent. For one
person who read his delightful "Labyrinth," there were thousands who
nearly knew the "Janua" by heart. The reason was obvious. The
"Labyrinth" was a religious book, and was suppressed as dangerous by
Catholic authorities; but the "Janua" was only a harmless grammar,
and could be admitted with safety anywhere. It is not the works of
richest genius that have the largest sale; it is the books that
enable men to get on in life; and the "Janua" was popular because,
in truth, "it supplied a long-felt want." It was a Latin grammar of
a novel and original kind. For all boys desiring to enter a
profession a thorough knowledge of Latin was then an absolute
necessity. It was the language in which the learned conversed, the
language spoken at all Universities, the language of diplomatists
and statesmen, the language of scientific treatises. If a man could
make the learning of Latin easier, he was adored as a public
benefactor. Comenius's Grammar was hailed with delight, as a boon
and a blessing to men. For years all patient students of Latin had
writhed in agonies untold. They had learned long lists of Latin
words, with their meanings; they had wrestled in their teens with
gerunds, supines, ablative absolutes and distracting rules about the
subjunctive mood, and they had tried in vain to take an interest in
stately authors far above their understanding. Comenius reversed
the whole process. What is the use, he asked, of learning lists of
words that have no connection with each other? What is the use of
teaching a lad grammar before he has a working knowledge of the
language? What is the use of expecting a boy to take an interest in
the political arguments of Cicero or the dinner table wisdom of
Horace? His method was the conversational. For beginners he
prepared an elementary Latin Grammar, containing, besides a few
necessary rules, a number of sentences dealing with events and
scenes of everyday life. It was divided into seven parts. In the
first were nouns and adjectives together; in the second nouns and
verbs; in the third adverbs, pronouns, numerals and prepositions; in
the fourth remarks about things in the school; in the fifth about
things in the house; in the sixth about things in the town; in the
seventh some moral maxims. And the scholar went through this book
ten times before he passed on to the "Janua" proper. The result can
be imagined. At the end of a year the boy's knowledge of Latin
would be of a peculiar kind. Of grammar he would know but little;
of words and phrases he would have a goodly store; and thus he was
learning to talk the language before he had even heard of its
perplexing rules. One example must suffice to illustrate the
method. The beginner did not even learn the names of the cases. In
a modern English Latin Grammar, the charming sight that meets our
gaze is as follows:--

Nom. Mensa.--A table.
Voc. Mensa.--Oh, table!
Acc. Mensam.--A table.
Gen. Mensæ.--Of a table.
Dat. Mensæ.--To or for a table.
Abl. Mensa.--By, with or from a table.

The method of Comenius was different. Instead of mentioning the
names of the cases, he showed how the cases were actually used, as

Ecce, tabula nigra.--Look there, a black board.
O tu tabula nigra.--Oh, you black board!
Video tabulam nigram.--I see a black board.
Pars tabulæ nigræ.--Part of a black board.
Addo partem tabulæ nigræ.--I add a part to a black board.
Vides aliquid in tabula nigra.--I see something on a black board.

With us the method is theory first, practice afterwards; with
Comenius the method was practice first, theory afterwards; and the
method of Comenius, with modifications, is likely to be the method
of the future.

But Comenius's greatest educational work was undoubtedly his "Great
Didactic," or the "Art of Teaching All Things to All Men." It was a
thorough and comprehensive treatise on the whole science, method,
scope and purpose of universal education. As this book has been
recently translated into English, I need not here attempt the task
of giving an outline of its contents. His ideas were far too grand
and noble to put in summary form. For us the point of interest is
the fact that while the Thirty Years' War was raging, and warriors
like Wallenstein and Gustavus Adolphus were turning Europe into a
desert, this scholar, banished from his native land, was devising
sublime and broad-minded schemes for the elevation of the whole
human race. It is this that makes Comenius great. He played no
part in the disgraceful quarrels of the age; he breathed no
complaint against his persecutors. "Comenius," said the Jesuit
historian Balbin, "wrote many works, but none that were directed
against the Catholic Church." As he looked around upon the learned
world he saw the great monster Confusion still unslain, and intended
to found a Grand Universal College, which would consist of all the
learned in Europe, would devote its attention to the pursuit of
knowledge in every conceivable branch, and would arrange that
knowledge in beautiful order and make the garden of wisdom a trim
parterre. He was so sure that his system was right that he compared
it to a great clock or mill, which had only to be set going to bring
about the desired result. If his scheme could only be carried out,
what a change there would be in this dreary earth! What a speedy
end to wars and rumours of wars! What a blessed cessation of
religious disputes! What a glorious union of all men of all nations
about the feet of God!

At last Comenius became so famous that his friend, Samuel Hartlib,
invited him to England; and Comenius found upon his arrival that our
English Parliament was interested in his scheme {1641.}. His hopes
now rose higher than ever. At last, he thought, he had found a spot
where he could actually carry out his grand designs. He had a high
opinion of English piety. "The ardour," he wrote, "with which the
people crowd to the Churches is incredible. Almost all bring a copy
of the Bible with them. Of the youths and men a large number take
down the sermons word by word with their pens. Their thirst for the
word of God is so great that many of the nobles, citizens also, and
matrons study Greek and Hebrew to be able more safely and more
sweetly to drink from the very spring of life." Of all countries
England seemed to him the best suited for the accomplishment of his
designs. He discussed the project with John Dury, with Samuel
Hartlib, with John Evelyn, with the Bishop of Lincoln, and probably
with John Milton. He wanted to establish an "Academy of Pansophy"
at Chelsea; and there all the wisest men in the world would meet,
draw up a new universal language, like the framers of Esperanto
to-day, and devise a scheme to keep all the nations at peace. His
castle in the air collapsed. At the very time when Comenius was
resident in London this country was on the eve of a revolution. The
Irish Rebellion broke out, the Civil War trod on its heels, and
Comenius left England for ever.

>From this moment his life was a series of bitter and cruel
disappointments. As the Thirty Years' War flickered out to its
close, Comenius began to look forward to the day when the Brethren
would be allowed to return to Bohemia and Moravia {1648.}. But the
Peace of Westphalia broke his heart. What provision was made in
that famous Peace for the poor exiled Brethren? Absolutely none.
Comenius was angry and disgusted. He had spent his life in the
service of humanity; he had spent six years preparing school books
for the Swedish Government; and now he complained-- perhaps
unjustly--that Oxenstierna, the Swedish Chancellor, had never lifted
a finger on behalf of the Brethren.

And yet Comenius continued to hope against hope. The more basely
the Brethren were deserted by men, the more certain he was that they
would be defended by God. He wrote to Oxenstierna on the subject.
"If there is no help from man," he said, "there will be from God,
whose aid is wont to commence when that of man ceases."

For eight years the Brethren, undaunted still, held on together as
best they could at Lissa; and Comenius, now their chosen leader,
made a brave attempt to revive their schools in Hungary. And then
came the final, awful crash. The flames of war burst out afresh.
When Charles X. became King of Sweden, John Casimir, King of
Poland, set up a claim to the Swedish throne. The two monarchs went
to war. Charles X. invaded Poland; John Casimir fled from Lissa;
Charles X. occupied the town. What part, it may be asked, did the
Brethren play in this war? We do not know. As Charles X. was, of
course, a Protestant, it is natural to assume that the Brethren
sympathised with his cause and hailed him as a deliverer sent by
God; but it is one of the strangest features of their history that
we never can tell what part they took in these political conflicts.
Comenius was now in Lissa. It is said that he openly sided with
Charles X., and urged the Brethren to hold out to the bitter end. I
doubt it. For a while the Swedish army triumphed. In that army was
an old Bohemian general, who swore to avenge the "Day of Blood"; and
the churches and convents were plundered, and monks and priests were
murdered. For a moment the Day of Blood was avenged, but for a
moment only. As the arm of flesh had failed the Brethren in the
days of Budowa, so the arm of flesh failed them now.

The Polish army surrounded the walls of Lissa {1656.}. A panic
broke out among the citizens. The Swedish garrison gave way. The
Polish soldiers pressed in. Again Comenius's library was burned,
and the grammar school where he had taught was reduced to ashes.
The whole town was soon in flames. The fire spread for miles in
the surrounding country. As the Brethren fled from their last fond
home, with the women and children huddled in waggons, they saw barns
and windmills flaring around them, and heard the tramp of the Polish
army in hot pursuit. As Pastor John Jacobides and two Acoluths were
on their way to Karmin, they were seized, cut down with spades and
thrown into a pit to perish. For Samuel Kardus, the last martyr of
the fluttering fragment, a more ingenious torture was reserved. He
was placed with his head between a door and the door-post, and as
the door was gently but firmly closed, his head was slowly crushed
to pieces.

And so the hopes of Comenius were blasted. As the aged Bishop drew
near to his end, he witnessed the failure of all his schemes. Where
now was his beloved Church of the Brethren? It was scattered like
autumn leaves before the blast. And yet Comenius hoped on to the
bitter end. The news of his sufferings reached the ears of Oliver
Cromwell. He offered to find a home for the Brethren in Ireland.
If Comenius had only accepted that offer it is certain that Oliver
would have been as good as his word. He longed to make Ireland a
Protestant country; and the whole modern history of Ireland might
have been altered. But Comenius had now become an unpractical
dreamer. For all his learning he was very simple-minded; and for
all his piety he had a weak side to his character. He had listened
in his youth to the prophecies of Christopher Kotter; he had
listened also to the ravings of Christina Poniatowski; and now he
fell completely under the influence of the vile impostor, Drabik,
who pretended to have a revelation from heaven, and predicted that
before very long the House of Austria would be destroyed and the
Brethren be enabled to return to their native home. Instead,
therefore, of accepting Cromwell's offer, Comenius spent his last
few years in collecting money for the Brethren; and pleasant it is
to record the fact that much of that money came from England. Some
was sent by Prince Rupert, and some by officials of the Church of
England; and Comenius was able to spend the money in printing
helpful, devotional works for the Brethren. His loyalty now to the
Brethren was beautiful. It is easy to be faithful to a prosperous
Church; Comenius was faithful when the whirl was at the worst.
Faster than ever the ship was sinking, but still the brave old
white-haired Captain held to his post on the bridge. Few things are
more pathetic in history than the way in which Comenius commended
the Brethren to the care of the Church of England. "To you, dear
friends," he wrote in hope, "we commit our dear mother, the Church
herself. Even in her death, which seems approaching, you ought to
love her, because in her life she has gone before you for more than
two centuries with examples of faith and patience." Of all the
links between the old Church of the Brethren and the new, Comenius
was the strongest. He handed on the Brethren's Episcopal Orders.
He consecrated his son-in-law, Peter Jablonsky; this Peter
consecrated his own son, Daniel Ernest; and this Daniel Ernest
Jablonsky consecrated David Nitschmann, the first Bishop of the
Renewed Church of the Brethren.

He handed on, secondly, the Brethren's system of discipline. He
published an edition of the "Ratio Disciplinæ," and this it was that
fired Zinzendorf's soul with love for the Brethren's Church.

But, thirdly, and most important of all, Comenius kept the old faith
burning in the hearts of the "Hidden Seed." For the benefit of those
still worshipping in secret in Bohemia and Moravia, he prepared a
Catechism, entitled "The Old Catholic Christian Religion in Short
Questions and Answers"; and by this Catholic Religion he meant the
broad and simple faith of the Bohemian Brethren. "Perish sects,"
said Comenius; "perish the founders of sects. I have consecrated
myself to Christ alone." But the purpose of the Catechism had to be
kept a secret. "It is meant," said Comenius, in the preface, "for
all the pious and scattered sheep of Christ, especially those at F.,
G., G., K., K., S., S. and Z." These letters can be easily
explained. They stood for the villages of Fulneck, Gersdorf,
Gestersdorf, Kunewalde, Klandorf, Stechwalde, Seitendorf and
Zauchtenthal; and these are the places from which the first exiles
came to renew the Brethren's Church at Herrnhut.

Fifty years before his prayers were answered, Comenius lay silent in
the grave (1672). Yet never did bread cast upon the waters more
richly return.



As the relations of the Brethren with England were only of a very
occasional nature, it is not easy to weave them into the narrative.
But the following particulars will be of special interest; they
show the opinion held of the Brethren by officials of the Church of

1. The case of John Bernard.--At some period in the reign of Queen
Elizabeth a number of scholarships were founded at Oxford for the
benefit of Bohemian students; and in 1583 John Bernard, a Moravian
student, took his B.D. degree at Oxford. The record in the
University Register is as follows: "Bernardus, John, a Moravian, was
allowed to supply B.D. He had studied theology for ten years at
German Universities, and was now going to the Universities of
Scotland." This proves that the University of Oxford recognised
Bernard as a man in holy orders; for none but men in holy orders
could take the B.D. degree.

2. The case of Paul Hartmann.--In 1652 (October 15th) Paul Hartmann
was ordained a Deacon at a Synod of the Moravian Church at Lissa.
In 1657 he came to England, along with his brother, Adam Samuel
Hartmann, to raise funds for the exiles. In 1660 he was ordained a
Presbyter by Bishop Robert Skinner, of Oxford, in Christ Church; in
1671 he was admitted Chaplain or Petty Canon of Oxford Cathedral;
and in 1676 he became Rector of Shillingford, Berkshire. This
proves that Bishop Skinner, of Oxford, recognised Paul Hartmann's
status as a Deacon; and that recognition, so far as we know, was
never questioned by any Anglican authorities. But that is not the
end of the story. At this period a considerable number of Brethren
had found a home in England; the Continental Brethren wished to
provide for their spiritual needs, and, therefore, in 1675 they
wrote a letter to the Anglican Bishops requesting them to consecrate
Hartmann a Bishop. Of that letter a copy has been preserved in the
Johannis-Kirche at Lissa. "It is no superstition," they wrote, "that
fills us with this desire. It is simply our love of order and
piety; and the Church of England is the only Protestant Church
beside our own that possesses this treasure, and can, therefore,
come to our help." For some reason, however, this pathetic request
was not carried out. What answer did the Anglican Bishops give? We
do not know; no answer has been discovered; and Hartmann remained a
Presbyter to the end.

3. The case of Adam Samuel Hartmann.--He was first a minister of the
Moravian Church at Lissa (1652-56). In 1657 he came to England to
collect money; in 1673 he was consecrated a Moravian Bishop at
Lissa; and in 1680 he received the degree of D.D. at Oxford. His
diploma refers to him as a Bishop. This suggests, if it does not
actually prove, that the University of Oxford recognised him as a
valid Bishop.

4. The case of Bishop Amos Comenius.--Of all the Bishops of the
Bohemian Brethren Comenius did most to stir up sympathy on their
behalf in England. In 1657 he sent the two Hartmanns and Paul
Cyrill to the Archbishop of Canterbury with a MS. entitled, "Ultimus
in Protestantes Bohemiæ confessionis ecclesias Antichristi furor";
in 1660 he dedicated his "Ratio Disciplinæ" to the Church of
England; and in 1661 he published his "Exhortation of the Churches
of Bohemia to the Church of England." In this book Comenius took a
remarkable stand. He declared that the Slavonian Churches had been
planted by the Apostles; that these Churches had "run up to a head
and ripened" in the Unity of the Brethren; and that he himself was
now the only surviving Bishop of the remnants of these Churches. In
other words, he represented himself as the Bishop of a Church of
Apostolic origin. In what way, it may be asked, was this claim
received by Anglican authorities? The next case will supply the

5. The case of Archbishop Sancroft.--ln 1683 King Charles II. issued
a Cabinet Order on behalf of the Brethren; the order was accompanied
by an account of their distresses; the account was "recommended
under the hands" of William Sancroft, Archbishop of Canterbury, and
Henry Compton, Bishop of London; and in that account the statement
was deliberately made that the Brethren deserved the assistance of
Anglicans, not only because they had "renounced the growing errors
of Popery," but also because they had "preserved the Succession of
Episcopal Orders." The last words can only bear one meaning; and
that meaning obviously is that both the Primate and the Bishop of
London regarded Moravian Episcopal Orders as valid. The next case
tells a similar story.

6. The case of Archbishop Wake.--We have now to step over a period
of thirty-three years. As soon as James II. came to the throne, the
interest of English Churchmen in the Brethren appears to have waned,
and neither William III. nor Queen Anne took any steps on their
behalf. And yet the connection of the Brethren with England was not
entirely broken. The bond of union was Daniel Ernest Jablonsky. He
was Amos Comenius's grandson. In 1680 he came to England; he
studied three years at Oxford, and finally received the degree of
D.D. In 1693 he was appointed Court Preacher at Berlin; in 1699 he
was consecrated a Moravian Bishop; and in 1709 he was elected
corresponding secretary of the S.P.C.K. Meanwhile, however, fresh
disasters had overtaken the Brethren. As the sun was rising on July
29th, 1707, a troop of Russians rode into the town of Lissa, and
threw around them balls of burning pitch. The town went up in
flames; the last home of the Brethren was destroyed, and the
Brethren were in greater distress than ever. At this point
Jablonsky nobly came to their aid. He began by publishing an
account of their distresses; he tried to raise a fund on their
behalf; and finally (1715) he sent his friend, Bishop Sitkovius, to
England, to lay their case before Archbishop Wake. Again, as in the
case of Archbishop Sancroft, this appeal to the Church of England
was successful. The Archbishop brought the case before George I.,
the King consulted the Privy Council, the Privy Council gave
consent; the King issued Letters Patent to all the Archbishops and
Bishops of England and Wales, and Wake and John Robinson, Bishop of
London, issued a special appeal, which was read in all the London
churches. The result was twofold. On the one hand money was
collected for the Brethren; on the other, some person or persons
unknown denounced them as Hussites, declared that their Bishops
could not be distinguished from Presbyters, and contended that,
being followers of Wycliffe, they must surely, like Wycliffe, be
enemies of all episcopal government. Again Jablonsky came to the
Brethren's rescue. He believed, himself, in the Brethren's
Episcopal Orders; he prepared a treatise on the subject, entitled,
"De Ordine et Successione Episcopali in Unitate Fratrum Bohemorum
conservato"; he sent a copy of that treatise to Wake, and Wake, in
reply, declared himself perfectly satisfied.

To what conclusion do the foregoing details point? It is needful
here to speak with caution and precision. As the claims of the
Brethren were never brought before Convocation, we cannot say that
the Anglican Church as a body officially recognised the Brethren as
a sister Episcopal Church. But, on the other hand, we can also say
that the Brethren's orders were never doubted by any Anglican
authorities. They were recognised by two Archbishops of Canterbury;
they were recognised by Bishop Skinner, of Oxford; they were
recognised by the University of Oxford. They were recognised, in a
word, by every Anglican authority before whose notice they happened
to be brought.


The Revival under Zinzendorf.



If the kindly reader will take the trouble to consult a map of
Europe he will see that that part of the Kingdom of Saxony known as
Upper Lusatia runs down to the Bohemian frontier. About ten miles
from the frontier line there stand to-day the mouldering remains of
the old castle of Gross-Hennersdorf. The grey old walls are
streaked with slime. The wooden floors are rotten, shaky and
unsafe. The rafters are worm-eaten. The windows are broken. The
damp wall-papers are running to a sickly green. Of roof there is
almost none. For the lover of beauty or the landscape painter these
ruins have little charm. But to us these tottering walls are of
matchless interest, for within these walls Count Zinzendorf, the
Renewer of the Brethren's Church, spent the years of his childhood.

He was born at six o'clock in the evening, Wednesday, May 26th,
1700, in the picturesque city of Dresden {1700.}; the house is
pointed out to the visitor; and "Zinzendorf Street" reminds us still
of the noble family that has now died out. He was only six weeks
old when his father burst a blood-vessel and died; he was only four
years when his mother married again; and the young Count--Nicholas
Lewis, Count of Zinzendorf and Pottendorf--was handed over to the
tender care of his grandmother, Catherine von Gersdorf, who lived at
Gross-Hennersdorf Castle. And now, even in childhood's days, little
Lutz, as his grandmother loved to call him, began to show signs of
his coming greatness. As his father lay on his dying bed, he had
taken the child in his feeble arm, and consecrated him to the
service of Christ; and now in his grandmother's noble home he sat at
the feet of the learned, the pious, and the refined. Never was a
child less petted and pampered; never was a child more strictly
trained; never was a child made more familiar with the person and
teaching of Jesus Christ. Dr. Spener,58 the famous Pietist leader,
watched his growth with fatherly interest. The old lady was a
leader in Pietist circles, was a writer of beautiful religious
poetry, and guarded him as the apple of her eye. He read the Bible
every day. He doted on Luther's Catechism. He had the Gospel story
at his finger-ends. His aunt Henrietta, who was rather an oddity,
prayed with him morning and night. His tutor, Edeling, was an
earnest young Pietist from Franke's school at Halle; and the story
of Zinzendorf's early days reads like a mediaeval tale. "Already in
my childhood," he says, {1704.} "I loved the Saviour, and had
abundant communion with Him. In my fourth year I began to seek God
earnestly, and determined to become a true servant of Jesus Christ."
At the age of six he regarded Christ as his Brother, would talk
with Him for hours together as with a familiar friend and was often
found rapt in thought {1706.}, like Socrates in the market-place at
Athens. As other children love and trust their parents, so this
bright lad with the golden hair loved and trusted Christ. "A
thousand times," he said, "I heard Him speak in my heart, and saw
Him with the eye of faith." Already the keynote of his life was
struck; already the fire of zeal burned in his bosom. "Of all the
qualities of Christ," said He, "the greatest is His nobility; and of
all the noble ideas in the world, the noblest is the idea that the
Creator should die for His children. If the Lord were forsaken by
all the world, I still would cling to Him and love Him." He held
prayer-meetings in his private room. He was sure that Christ
Himself was present there. He preached sermons to companies of
friends. If hearers failed, he arranged the chairs as an audience;
and still is shown the little window from which he threw letters
addressed to Christ, not doubting that Christ would receive them.
As the child was engaged one day in prayer, the rude soldiers of
Charles XII. burst into his room. Forthwith the lad began to speak
of Christ; and away the soldiers fled in awe and terror. At the age
of eight he lay awake at night tormented with atheistic doubts
{1708.}. But the doubts did not last long. However much he doubted
with the head he never doubted with the heart; and the charm that
drove the doubts away was the figure of the living Christ.

And here we touch the springs of the boy's religion. It is easy to
call all this a hot-house process; it is easy to dub the child a
precocious prig. But at bottom his religion was healthy and sound.
It was not morbid; it was joyful. It was not based on dreamy
imagination; it was based on the historic person of Christ. It was
not the result of mystic exaltation; it was the result of a study of
the Gospels. It was not, above all, self-centred; it led him to
seek for fellowship with others. As the boy devoured the Gospel
story, he was impressed first by the drama of the Crucifixion; and
often pondered on the words of Gerhardt's hymn:--

O Head so full of bruises,
So full of pain and scorn,
'Midst other sore abuses,
Mocked with a crown of thorn.

For this his tutor, Edeling, was partly responsible. "He spoke to
me," says Zinzendorf, "of Jesus and His wounds."

But the boy did not linger in Holy Week for ever. He began by
laying stress on the suffering Christ; he went on to lay stress on
the whole life of Christ; and on that life, from the cradle to the
grave, his own strong faith was based. "I was," he said, "as certain
that the Son of God was my Lord as of the existence of my five
fingers." To him the existence of Jesus was a proof of the
existence of God; and he felt all his limbs ablaze, to use his own
expression, with the desire to preach the eternal Godhead of Christ.
"If it were possible," he said, "that there should be another God
than Christ I would rather be damned with Christ than happy with
another. I have," he exclaimed, "but one passion--'tis He, 'tis
only He."

But the next stage in his journey was not so pleasing {1710.}. At
the age of ten he was taken by his mother to Professor Franke's
school at Halle; and by mistake he overheard a conversation between
her and the pious professor. She described him as a lad of parts,
but full of pride, and in need of the curbing rein. He was soon to
find how much these words implied. If a boy has been trained by
gentle ladies he is hardly well equipped, as a rule, to stand the
rough horseplay of a boarding-school; and if, in addition, he boasts
blue blood, he is sure to come in for blows. And the Count was a
delicate aristocrat, with weak legs and a cough. He was proud of
his noble birth; he was rather officious in his manner; he had his
meals at Franke's private table; he had private lodgings a few
minutes' walk from the school; he had plenty of money in his purse;
and, therefore, on the whole, he was as well detested as the son of
a lord can be. "With a few exceptions," he sadly says, "my
schoolfellows hated me throughout."

But this was not the bitterest part of the pill. If there was any
wholesome feeling missing in his heart hitherto, it was what
theologians call the sense of sin. He had no sense of sin whatever,
and no sense of any need of pardon. His masters soon proceeded to
humble his pride. He was introduced as a smug little Pharisee, and
they treated him as a viper. Of all systems of school discipline,
the most revolting is the system of employing spies; and that was
the system used by the staff at Halle. They placed the young Count
under boyish police supervision, encouraged the lads to tell tales
about him, rebuked him for his misconduct in the measles, lectured
him before the whole school on his rank disgusting offences, and
treated him as half a rogue and half an idiot. If he pleaded not
guilty, they called him a liar, and gave him an extra thrashing.
The thrashing was a public school entertainment, and was advertised
on the school notice-board. "Next week," ran the notice on one
occasion, "the Count is to have the stick." For two years he lived
in a moral purgatory. The masters gave him the fire of their wrath,
and the boys the cold shoulder of contempt. The masters called him
a malicious rebel, and the boys called him a snob. As the little
fellow set off for morning school, with his pile of books upon his
arm, the others waylaid him, jostled him to and fro, knocked him
into the gutter, scattered his books on the street, and then
officiously reported him late for school. He was clever, and,
therefore, the masters called him idle; and when he did not know his
lesson they made him stand in the street, with a pair of ass's ears
on his head, and a placard on his back proclaiming to the public
that the culprit was a "lazy donkey."

His private tutor, Daniel Crisenius, was a bully, who had made his
way into Franke's school by varnishing himself with a shiny coating
of piety. If the Count's relations came to see him, Crisenius made
him beg for money, and then took the money himself. If his
grandmother sent him a ducat Crisenius pocketed a florin. If he
wrote a letter home, Crisenius read it. If he drank a cup of
coffee, Crisenius would say, "You have me to thank for that, let me
hear you sing a song of thanksgiving." If he tried to pour out his
soul in prayer, Crisenius mocked him, interrupted him, and
introduced disgusting topics of conversation. He even made the lad
appear a sneak. "My tutor," says Zinzendorf, "often persuaded me to
write letters to my guardian complaining of my hard treatment, and
then showed the letters to the inspector."

In vain little Lutz laid his case before his mother. Crisenius
thrashed him to such good purpose that he never dared to complain
again; and his mother still held that he needed drastic medicine. "I
beseech you," she wrote to Franke, "be severe with the lad; if
talking will not cure him of lying, then let him feel it."

At last the muddy lane broadened into a highway. One day Crisenius
pestered Franke with one of his whining complaints. The headmaster
snapped him short.

"I am sick," he said, "of your growlings; you must manage the matter

As the months rolled on, the Count breathed purer air. He became
more manly and bold. He astonished the masters by his progress. He
was learning Greek, could speak in French and dash off letters in
Latin. He was confirmed, attended the Communion, and wrote a
beautiful hymn59 recording his feelings; and already in his modest
way he launched out on that ocean of evangelical toil on which he
was to sail all the days of his life.

As the child grew up in Hennersdorf Castle he saw and heard a good
deal of those drawing-room meetings60 which Philip Spener, the
Pietist leader, had established in the houses of several noble
Lutheran families, and which came in time to be known in Germany as
"Churches within the Church."61 He knew that Spener had been his
father's friend. He had met the great leader at the Castle. He
sympathised with the purpose of his meetings. He had often longed
for fellowship himself, and had chatted freely on religious topics
with his Aunt Henrietta. He had always maintained his private habit
of personal communion with Christ; and now he wished to share his
religion with others. The time was ripe. The moral state of
Franke's school was low; the boys were given to vicious habits, and
tried to corrupt his soul; and the Count, who was a healthy minded
boy, and shrank with disgust from fleshly sins, retorted by forming
a number of religious clubs for mutual encouragement and help. "I
established little societies," he says, "in which we spoke of the
grace of Christ, and encouraged each other in diligence and good
works." He became a healthy moral force in the school. He rescued
his friend, Count Frederick de Watteville, from the hands of fifty
seducers; he persuaded three others to join in the work of rescue;
and the five lads established a club which became a "Church within
the Church" for boys. They called themselves first "The Slaves of
Virtue," next the "Confessors of Christ," and finally the
"Honourable Order of the Mustard Seed"; and they took a pledge to be
true to Christ, to be upright and moral, and to do good to their
fellow-men. Of all the school clubs established by Zinzendorf this
"Order of the Mustard Seed" was the most famous and the most
enduring. As the boys grew up to man's estate they invited others
to join their ranks; the doctrinal basis was broad; and among the
members in later years were John Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury,
Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man, Cardinal Noailles, the
broad-minded Catholic, and General Oglethorpe, Governor of Georgia.
For an emblem they had a small shield, with an "Ecce Homo," and the
motto, "His wounds our healing"; and each member of the Order wore a
gold ring, inscribed with the words, "No man liveth unto himself."
The Grand Master of the Order was Zinzendorf himself. He wore a
golden cross; the cross had an oval green front; and on that front
was painted a mustard tree, with the words beneath, "Quod fuit ante
nihil," i.e., what was formerly nothing.62

But already the boy had wider conceptions still. As he sat at
Franke's dinner table, he listened one day to the conversation of
the Danish missionary, Ziegenbalg, who was now home on furlough, and
he even saw some dusky converts whom the missionary had brought from
Malabar {1715.}. His missionary zeal was aroused. As his guardian
had already settled that Zinzendorf should enter the service of the
State, he had, of course, no idea of becoming a missionary
himself;63 but, as that was out of the question, he formed a solemn
league and covenant with his young friend Watteville that when God
would show them suitable men they would send them out to heathen
tribes for whom no one else seemed to care. Nor was this mere
playing at religion. As the Count looked back on his Halle days he
saw in these early clubs and covenants the germs of his later work;
and when he left for the University the delighted Professor Franke
said, "This youth will some day become a great light in the world."

As the Count, however, in his uncle's opinion was growing rather too
Pietistic, he was now sent to the University at Wittenberg, to study
the science of jurisprudence, and prepare for high service in the
State {April, 1716.}. His father had been a Secretary of State, and
the son was to follow in his footsteps. His uncle had a contempt
for Pietist religion; and sent the lad to Wittenberg "to drive the
nonsense out of him." He had certainly chosen the right place. For
two hundred years the great University had been regarded as the
stronghold of the orthodox Lutheran faith; the bi-centenary Luther
Jubilee was fast approaching; the theological professors were models
of orthodox belief; and the Count was enjoined to be regular at
church, and to listen with due attention and reverence to the
sermons of those infallible divines. It was like sending a boy to
Oxford to cure him of a taste for dissent. His tutor, Crisenius,
went with him, to guard his morals, read his letters, and rob him of
money at cards. He had also to master the useful arts of riding,
fencing, and dancing. The cards gave him twinges of conscience. If
he took a hand, he laid down the condition that any money he might
win should be given to the poor. He prayed for skill in his dancing
lessons, because he wanted to have more time for more serious
studies. He was more devout in his daily life than ever, prayed to
Christ with the foil in his hand, studied the Bible in Hebrew and
Greek, spent whole nights in prayer, fasted the livelong day on
Sundays, and was, in a word, so Methodistic in his habits that he
could truly describe himself as a "rigid Pietist." He interfered in
many a duel, and rebuked his fellow students for drinking hard; and
for this he was not beloved. As he had come to Wittenberg to study
law, he was not, of course, allowed to attend the regular
theological lectures; but, all the same, he spent his leisure in
studying the works of Luther and Spener, and cultivated the personal
friendship of many of the theological professors. And here he made
a most delightful discovery. As he came to know these professors
better, he found that a man could be orthodox without being
narrow-minded; and they, for their part, also found that a man could
be a rigid Pietist without being a sectarian prig. It was time, he
thought, to put an end to the quarrel. He would make peace between
Wittenberg and Halle. He would reconcile the Lutherans and
Pietists. He consulted with leading professors on both sides; he
convinced them of the need for peace; and the rival teachers
actually agreed to accept this student of nineteen summers as the
agent of the longed-for truce. But here Count Zinzendorf's mother
intervened. "You must not meddle," she wrote, "in such weighty
matters; they are above your understanding and your powers." And
Zinzendorf, being a dutiful son, obeyed. "I think," he said, "a
visit to Halle might have been of use, but, of course, I must obey
the fourth commandment."64

And now, as befitted a nobleman born, he was sent on the grand tour,
to give the final polish to his education {1719.}. He regarded the
prospect with horror. He had heard of more than one fine lord whose
virtues had been polished away. For him the dazzling sights of
Utrecht and Paris had no bewitching charm. He feared the glitter,
the glamour, and the glare. The one passion, love to Christ, still
ruled his heart. "Ah!" he wrote to a friend, "What a poor, miserable
thing is the grandeur of the great ones of the earth! What splendid
misery!" As John Milton, on his continental tour, had sought the
company of musicians and men of letters, so this young budding
Christian poet, with the figure of the Divine Redeemer ever present
to his mind, sought out the company of men and women who, whatever
their sect or creed, maintained communion with the living Son of
God. He went first to Frankfurt-on-the-Main, where Spener had toiled
so long, came down the Rhine to Düsseldorf, spent half a year at
Utrecht, was introduced to William, Prince of Orange, paid flying
calls at Brussels, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, and ended the
tour by a six months' stay amid the gaieties of Paris. At
Düsseldorf a famous incident occurred. There, in the picture
gallery, he saw and admired the beautiful Ecce Homo of Domenico
Feti; there, beneath the picture he read the thrilling appeal: "All
this I did for thee; what doest thou for Me?"; and there, in
response to that appeal, he resolved anew to live for Him who had
worn the cruel crown of thorns for all.65

At Paris he attended the Court levée, and was presented to the Duke
of Orleans, the Regent, and his mother, the Dowager Duchess.

"Sir Count," said the Duchess, "have you been to the opera to-day?"

"Your Highness," he replied, "I have no time for the opera." He
would not spend a golden moment except for the golden crown.

"I hear," said the Duchess, "that you know the Bible by heart."

"Ah," said he, "I only wish I did."

At Paris, too, he made the acquaintance of the Catholic Archbishop,
Cardinal Noailles. It is marvellous how broad in his views the
young man was. As he discussed the nature of true religion with the
Cardinal, who tried in vain to win him for the Church of Rome, he
came to the conclusion that the true Church of Jesus Christ
consisted of many sects and many forms of belief. He held that the
Church was still an invisible body; he held that it transcended the
bounds of all denominations; he had found good Christians among
Protestants and Catholics alike; and he believed, with all his heart
and soul, that God had called him to the holy task of enlisting the
faithful in all the sects in one grand Christian army, and thus
realizing, in visible form, the promise of Christ that all His
disciples should be one. He was no bigoted Lutheran. For him the
cloak of creed or sect was only of minor moment. He desired to
break down all sectarian barriers. He desired to draw men from all
the churches into one grand fellowship with Christ. He saw, and
lamented, the bigotry of all the sects. "We Protestants," he said,
"are very fond of the word liberty; but in practice we often try to
throttle the conscience." He was asked if he thought a Catholic
could be saved. "Yes," he replied, "and the man who doubts that,
cannot have looked far beyond his own small cottage."

"What, then," asked the Duchess of Luynes, "is the real difference
between a Lutheran and a Catholic?"

"It is," he replied, "the false idea that the Bible is so hard to
understand that only the Church can explain it." He had, in a word,
discovered his vocation.

His religion purified his love. As he made his way home, at the
close of the tour, he called to see his aunt, the Countess of
Castell, and her daughter Theodora {1720.}; and during his stay he
fell ill of a fever, and so remained much longer than he had at
first intended. He helped the Countess to put in order the affairs
of her estate, took a leading part in the religious services of the
castle, and was soon regarded as almost one of the family. At
first, according to his usual custom, he would talk about nothing
but religion. But gradually his manner changed. He opened out,
grew less reserved, and would gossip and chat like a woman. He
asked himself the reason of this alteration. He discovered it. He
was in love with his young cousin, Theodora. For a while the gentle
stream of love ran smooth. His mother and the Countess Castell
smiled approval; Theodora, though rather icy in manner, presented
him with her portrait; and the Count, who accepted the dainty gift
as a pledge of blossoming love, was rejoicing at finding so sweet a
wife and so charming a helper in his work, when an unforeseen event
turned the current of the stream. Being belated one evening on a
journey, he paid a visit to his friend Count Reuss, and during
conversation made the disquieting discovery that his friend wished
to marry Theodora. A beautiful contest followed. Each of the
claimants to the hand of Theodora expressed his desire to retire in
favour of the other; and, not being able to settle the dispute, the
two young men set out for Castell to see what Theodora herself would
say. Young Zinzendorf's mode of reasoning was certainly original.
If his own love for Theodora was pure--i.e., if it was a pure
desire to do her good, and not a vulgar sensual passion like that
with which many love-sick swains were afflicted--he could, he said,
fulfil his purpose just as well by handing her over to the care of
his Christian friend. "Even if it cost me my life to surrender her,"
he said, "if it is more acceptable to my Saviour, I ought to
sacrifice the dearest object in the world." The two friends arrived
at Castell and soon saw which way the wind was blowing; and


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