History of the Moravian Church
J. E. Hutton

Part 5 out of 9

the required information. He described the Brethren's methods of
work, pointed out its results in the conduct of the negroes, and
declared that all the Brethren desired was liberty to preach the
Gospel. "The Brethren," he said, "never wish to interfere between
masters and slaves." The ball was now set fairly rolling. Dr.
Porteous, Bishop of London, replied on behalf of the Committee. He
was an ardent champion of emancipation. He thanked the Brethren for
their information. He informed them how pleased the Committee were
with the Brethren's methods of work. At this very time Wilberforce
formed his resolution to devote his life to the emancipation of the
slaves. He opened his campaign in Parliament two years later. He
was a personal friend of La Trobe; he read his report; and he backed
up his arguments in Parliament by describing the good results of
Moravian work among the slaves. And thus the part played by the
Brethren was alike modest and effective. They taught the slaves to
be good; they taught them to be genuine lovers of law and order;
they made them fit for the great gift of liberty; and thus, by
destroying the stale old argument that emancipation was dangerous
they removed the greatest obstacle in Wilberforce's way.90

Again, this work of the Brethren was important in its influence on
several great English missionary pioneers. At missionary gatherings
held in England the statement is often made to-day that the first
Englishman to go out as a foreign missionary was William Carey, the
leader of the immortal "Serampore Three." It is time to explode
that fiction. For some years before William Carey was heard of a
number of English Moravian Brethren had gone out from these shores
as foreign missionaries. In Antigua laboured Samuel Isles, Joseph
Newby, and Samuel Watson; in Jamaica, George Caries and John Bowen;
in St. Kitts and St. Croix, James Birkby; in Barbados, Benjamin
Brookshaw; in Labrador, William Turner, James Rhodes, and Lister;
and in Tobago, John Montgomery, the father of James Montgomery, the
well-known Moravian hymn-writer and poet. With the single exception
of George Caries, who seems to have had some Irish blood in his
veins, these early missionaries were as English as Carey himself;
and the greater number, as we can see from the names, were natives
of Yorkshire. Moreover, William Carey knew of their work. He owed
his inspiration partly to them; he referred to their work in his
famous pamphlet, "Enquiry into the Obligations of Christians to use
Means for the Conversion of the Heathens"; and finally, at the house
of Mrs. Beely Wallis, in Kettering, he threw down upon the table
some numbers of the first English missionary magazine,91 "Periodical
Accounts relating to the Missions of the Church of the United
Brethren," and, addressing his fellow Baptist ministers, exclaimed:
"See what the Moravians have done! Can we not follow their example,
and in obedience to our heavenly Master go out into the world and
preach the Gospel to the heathen." The result was the foundation of
the Baptist Missionary Society.

His companion, Marshman, also confessed his obligations to the
Brethren {1792.}.

"Thank you! Moravians," he said, "you have done me good. If I am
ever a missionary worth a straw I shall, under our Saviour, owe it
to you."

We have next the case of the London Missionary Society. Of that
Society one of the founders was Rowland Hill. He was well informed
about the labours of the Moravians; he corresponded with Peter
Braun, the Moravian missionary in Antigua; and to that
correspondence he owed in part his interest in missionary work. But
that was not the end of the Brethren's influence. At all meetings
addressed by the founders of the proposed Society, the speaker
repeatedly enforced his arguments by quotations from the Periodical
Accounts; and finally, when the Society was established, the
founders submitted to La Trobe, the editor, the following series of
questions:--"1. How do you obtain your missionaries? 2. What is
the true calling of a missionary? 3. What qualifications do you
demand in a missionary? 4. Do you demand scientific and theological
learning? 5. Do you consider previous instruction in Divine things
an essential? 6. How do you employ your missionaries from the time
when they are first called to the time when they set out? 7. Have
you found by experience that the cleverest and best educated men
make the best missionaries? 8. What do you do when you establish a
missionary station? Do you send men with their wives, or single
people, or both? 9. What have you found the most effective way of
accomplishing the conversion of the heathen? 10. Can you tell us
the easiest way of learning a language? 11. How much does your
missionary ship92 cost you?" In reply, La Trobe answered in detail,
and gave a full description of the Brethren's methods; and the first
heralds of the London Missionary Society went out with Moravian
instructions in their pockets and Moravian experience to guide them
on their way.

We have next the case of Robert Moffatt, the missionary to
Bechuanaland. What was it that first aroused his missionary zeal?
It was, he tells us, the stories told him by his mother about the
exploits of the Moravians!

In Germany the influence of the Brethren was equally great. At the
present time the greatest missionary forces in Germany are the Basel
and Leipzig Societies; and the interesting point to notice is that
if we only go far enough back in the story we find that each of
these societies owed its origin to Moravian influence.93 From what
did the Basel Missionary Society spring? (1819). It sprang from an
earlier "Society for Christian Fellowship (1780)," and one object of
that earlier society was the support of Moravian Missions. But the
influence did not end here. At the meeting when the Basel
Missionary Society was formed, three Moravians--Burghardt, Götze,
and Lörschke--were present, the influence of the Brethren was
specially mentioned, the work of the Brethren was described, and the
text for the day from the Moravian textbook was read. In a similar
way the Leipzig Missionary Society sprang from a series of meetings
held in Dresden, and in those meetings several Moravians took a
prominent part. By whom was the first missionary college in history
established? It was established at Berlin by Jänicke {1800.}, and
Jänicke had first been a teacher in the Moravian Pædagogium at
Niesky. By whom was the first Norwegian Missionary Magazine--the
Norsk Missionsblad--edited? By the Moravian minister, Holm. From
such facts as these we may draw one broad conclusion; and that broad
conclusion is that the Brethren's labours paved the way for some of
the greatest missionary institutions of modern times.


THE PILGRIM BAND, 1736-1743.

As soon as Zinzendorf was banished from Saxony, he sought another
sphere of work. About thirty miles northeast of
Frankfurt-on-the-Main there lay a quaint and charming district known
as the Wetterau, wherein stood two old ruined castles, called
Ronneburg and Marienborn. The owners of the estate, the Counts of
Isenberg, had fallen on hard times. They were deep in debt; their
estates were running to decay; the Ronneburg walls were crumbling to
pieces, and the out-houses, farms and stables were let out to
fifty-six dirty families of Jews, tramps, vagabonds and a mongrel
throng of scoundrels of the lowest class. As soon as the Counts
heard that Zinzendorf had been banished from Saxony, they kindly
offered him their estates on lease. They had two objects in view.
As the Brethren were pious, they would improve the people's morals;
and as they were good workers, they would raise the value of the
land. The Count sent Christian David to reconnoitre. Christian
David brought back an evil report. It was a filthy place, he said,
unfit for respectable people. But Zinzendorf felt that, filthy or
not, it was the very spot which God had chosen for his new work. It
suited his high ideas. The more squalid the people, the more reason
there was for going.

"I will make this nest of vagabonds," he said, "the centre for the
universal religion of the Saviour. Christian," he asked, "haven't
you been in Greenland?"

"Ah, yes," replied Christian, who had been with the two Stachs, "if
it were only as good as it was in Greenland! But at Ronneburg
Castle we shall only die."

But the Count would not hear another word, went to see the place for
himself, closed with the terms of the Counts of Isenberg, and thus
commenced that romantic chapter in the Brethren's History called by
some German historians the Wetterau Time.

It was a time of many adventures. As the Count took up his quarters
in Ronneburg Castle, he brought with him a body of Brethren and
Sisters whom he called the "Pilgrim Band"; and there, on June 17th,
1736, he preached his first sermon in the castle. It was now
exactly fourteen years since Christian David had felled the first
tree at Herrnhut; and now for another fourteen years these crumbling
walls were to be the home of Moravian life. What the members of the
Pilgrim Band were we may know from the very name. They were a
travelling Church. They were a body of Christians called to the
task, in Zinzendorf's own words, "to proclaim the Saviour to the
world"; and the Count's noble motto was: "The earth is the Lord's;
all souls are His; I am debtor to all." There was a dash of romance
in that Pilgrim Band, and more than a dash of heroism. They lived
in a wild and eerie district. They slept on straw. They heard the
rats and mice hold revels on the worm-eaten staircases, and heard
the night wind howl and sough between the broken windows; and from
those ruined walls they went out to preach the tidings of the love
of Christ in the wigwams of the Indians and the snow-made huts of
the Eskimos.

As charity, however, begins at home, the Count and his Brethren
began their new labours among the degraded rabble that lived in
filth and poverty round the castle. They conducted free schools for
the children. They held meetings for men and women in the vaults of
the castle. They visited the miserable gipsies in their dirty
homes. They invited the dirty little ragamuffins to tea, and the
gipsies' children sat down at table with the sons and daughters of
the Count. They issued an order forbidding begging, and twice a
week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, they distributed food and clothing to
the poor. One picture will illustrate this strange campaign. Among
the motley medley that lived about the castle was an old grey-haired
Jew, named Rabbi Abraham. One bright June evening, Zinzendorf met
him, stretched out his hand, and said: "Grey hairs are a crown of
glory. I can see from your head and the expression of your eyes
that you have had much experience both of heart and life. In the
name of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, let us be friends."

The old man was struck dumb with wonder. Such a greeting from a
Christian he had never heard before. He had usually been saluted
with the words, "Begone, Jew!" "His lips trembled; his voice failed;
and big tears rolled down his wrinkled cheeks upon his flowing

"Enough, father," said the Count; "we understand each other." And
from that moment the two were friends. The Count went to see him in
his dirty home, and ate black bread at his table. One morning,
before dawn, as the two walked out, the old patriarch opened his

"My heart," said he, "is longing for the dawn. I am sick, yet know
not what is the matter with me. I am looking for something, yet
know not what I seek. I am like one who is chased, yet I see no
enemy, except the one within me, my old evil heart."

The Count opened his lips, and preached the Gospel of Christ. He
painted Love on the Cross. He described that Love coming down from
holiness and heaven. He told the old Jew, in burning words, how
Christ had met corrupted mankind, that man might become like God. As
the old man wept and wrung his hands, the two ascended a hill,
whereon stood a lonely church. And the sun rose, and its rays fell
on the golden cross on the church spire, and the cross glittered
brightly in the light of heaven.

"See there, Abraham," said Zinzendorf, "a sign from heaven for you.
The God of your fathers has placed the cross in your sight, and now
the rising sun from on high has tinged it with heavenly splendour.
Believe on Him whose blood was shed by your fathers, that God's
purpose of mercy might be fulfilled, that you might be free from all
sin, and find in Him all your salvation."

"So be it," said the Jew, as a new light flashed on his soul.
"Blessed be the Lord who has had mercy upon me."

We have now to notice, step by step, how Zinzendorf, despite his
theories, restored the Moravian Church to vigorous life. His first
move was dramatic. As he strolled one day on the shore of the
Baltic Sea, he bethought him that the time had come to revive the
Brethren's Episcopal Orders in Germany. He wished to give his
Brethren a legal standing. In Saxony he had been condemned as a
heretic; in Prussia he would be recognized as orthodox; and to this
intent he wrote to the King of Prussia, Frederick William I., and
asked to be examined in doctrine by qualified Divines of the State
Church. The King responded gladly. He had been informed that the
Count was a fool, and was, therefore, anxious to see him; and now he
sent him a messenger to say that he would be highly pleased if
Zinzendorf would come and dine with him at Wusterhausen.

"What did he say?" asked His Majesty of the messenger when that
functionary returned.

"Nothing," replied the messenger.

"Then," said the King, "he is no fool."

The Count arrived, and stayed three days. The first day the King
was cold; the second he was friendly; the third he was enthusiastic.

"The devil himself," he said to his courtiers, "could not have told
me more lies than I have been told about this Count. He is neither
a heretic nor a disturber of the peace. His only sin is that he, a
well-to-do Count, has devoted himself to the spread of the Gospel.
I will not believe another word against him. I will do all I can
to help him."

>From that time Frederick William I. was Zinzendorf's fast friend.
He encouraged him to become a Bishop of the Brethren. The Count
was still in doubt. For some months he was terribly puzzled by the
question whether he could become a Moravian Bishop, and yet at the
same time be loyal to the Lutheran Church; and, in order to come to
a right conclusion, he actually came over to England and discussed
the whole thorny subject of Moravian Episcopal Orders with John
Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Archbishop soon relieved his
mind. He informed the Count, first, that in his judgment the
Moravian Episcopal Orders were apostolic; and he informed him,
secondly, that as the Brethren were true to the teaching of the
Augsburg Confession in Germany and the Thirty-nine Articles in
England, the Count could honestly become a Bishop without being
guilty of founding a new sect. The Count returned to Germany. He
was examined in the faith, by the King's command, by two Berlin
Divines. He came through the ordeal with flying colours, and
finally, on May 20th, he was ordained a Bishop of the Brethren's
Church by Bishop Daniel Ernest Jablonsky, Court Preacher at Berlin,
and Bishop David Nitschmann {1737.}.

The situation was now remarkable. As soon as Zinzendorf became a
Bishop, he occupied, in theory, a double position. He was a
"Lutheran Bishop of the Brethren's Church." On the one hand, like
Jablonsky himself, he was still a clergyman of the Lutheran Church;
on the other, he was qualified to ordain ministers in the Church of
the Brethren. And the Brethren, of course, laid stress on the
latter point. They had now episcopal orders of their own; they
realized their standing as an independent church; they objected to
mere toleration as a sect; they demanded recognition as an orthodox
church. "We design," they wrote to the Counts of Isenberg, "to
establish a home for thirty or forty families from Herrnhut. We
demand full liberty in all our meetings; we demand full liberty to
practise our discipline and to have the sacraments, baptism and
communion administered by our own ministers, ordained by our own
Bohemo-Moravian Bishops." As the Counts agreed to these conditions
the Brethren now laid out near the castle a settlement after the
Herrnhut model, named it Herrnhaag, and made it a regular
training-ground for the future ministers of the Church. At Herrnhut
the Brethren were under a Lutheran Pastor; at Herrnhaag they were
independent, and ordained their own men for the work. They erected
a theological training college, with Spangenberg as head. They had
a pædagogium for boys, with Polycarp Müller as Rector. They had
also a flourishing school for girls. For ten years this new
settlement at Herrnhaag was the busiest centre of evangelistic zeal
in the world. At the theological college there were students from
every university in Germany. At the schools there were over 600
children, and the Brethren had to issue a notice that they had no
room for more. The whole place was a smithy. There the spiritual
weapons were forged for service in the foreign field. "Up, up,"
Spangenberg would say to the young men at sunrise, "we have no time
for dawdling. Why sleep ye still? Arise, young lions!"

And now the Count had a strange adventure, which spurred him to
another step forward. As there were certain sarcastic people in
Germany who said that Zinzendorf, though willing enough to send out
others to die of fever in foreign climes, was content to bask in
comfort at home, he determined now to give the charge the lie. He
had travelled already on many a Gospel journey. He had preached to
crowds in Berlin; he had preached in the Cathedral at Reval, in
Livonia, and had made arrangements for the publication of an
Esthonian Bible; and now he thought he must go to St. Thomas, where
Friedrich Martin, the apostle to the negroes, had built up the
strongest congregation in the Mission Field. He consulted the Lot;
the Lot said "Yes," and off he set on his journey. The ship flew as
though on eagle's wings. As they neared the island, the Count
turned to his companion, and said: "What if we find no one there?
What if the missionaries are all dead?"

"Then we are there," replied Weber.

"Gens aeterna, these Moravians," exclaimed the Count.

He landed on the island {Jan. 29th, 1739.}.

"Where are the Brethren?" said he to a negro.

"They are all in prison," was the startling answer.

"How long?" asked the Count.

"Over three months."

"What are the negroes doing in the meantime?"

"They are making good progress, and a great revival is going on.
The very imprisonment of the teachers is a sermon."

For three months the Count was busy in St. Thomas. He burst into
the Governor's castle "like thunder," and nearly frightened him out
of his wits. He had brought with him a document signed by the King
of Denmark, in which the Brethren were authorized to preach in the
Danish West Indies. He had the prisoners released. He had the
whole work in the Danish West Indies placed on a legal basis. He
made the acquaintance of six hundred and seventy negroes. He was
amazed and charmed by all he saw. "St. Thomas," he wrote, "is a
greater marvel than Herrnhut." For the last three years that master
missionary, Friedrich Martin, the "Apostle to the Negroes," had been
continuing the noble work begun by Leonard Dober; and, in spite of
the fierce opposition of the planters and also of the Dutch Reformed
Church, had established a number of native congregations. He had
opened a school for negro boys, and had thus taken the first step in
the education of West Indian slaves. He had taught his people to
form societies for Bible study and prayer; and now the Count put the
finishing touch to the work. He introduced the Herrnhut system of
discipline. He appointed one "Peter" chief Elder of the Brethren,
and "Magdalene" chief Elder of the Sisters. He gave some to be
helpers, some to be advisers, and some to be distributors of alms;
and he even introduced the system of incessant hourly prayer. And
then, before he took his leave, he made a notable speech. He had no
such conception as "Negro emancipation." He regarded slavery as a
Divinely appointed system. "Do your work for your masters," he said,
"as though you were working for yourselves. Remember that Christ
has given every man his work. The Lord has made kings, masters,
servants and slaves. It is the duty of each of us to be content
with the station in which God has placed him. God punished the
first negroes by making them slaves."

For the work in St. Thomas this visit was important; for the work at
home it was still more so. As the Count returned from his visit in
St. Thomas, he saw more clearly than ever that if the Brethren were
to do their work aright, they must justify their conduct and
position in the eyes of the law. His views had broadened; he had
grander conceptions of their mission; he began the practice of
summoning them to Synods, and thus laid the foundations of modern
Moravian Church life.

At the first Synod, held at Ebersdorf (June, 1739), the Count
expounded his views at length {1739.}. He informed the Brethren, in
a series of brilliant and rather mystifying speeches, that there
were now three "religions" in Germany--the Lutheran, the Reformed
and the Moravian; but that their duty and mission in the world was,
not to restore the old Church of the Brethren, but rather to gather
the children of God into a mystical, visionary, ideal fellowship
which he called the "Community of Jesus." For the present, he said,
the home of this ideal "Gemeine" would be the Moravian Church. At
Herrnhut and other places in Saxony it would be a home for
Lutherans; at Herrnhaag it would be a home for Calvinists; and then,
when it had done its work and united all the children of God, it
could be conveniently exploded. He gave the Moravian Church a
rather short life. "For the present," he said, "the Saviour is
manifesting His Gemeine to the world in the outward form of the
Moravian Church; but in fifty years that Church will be forgotten."
It is doubtful how far his Brethren understood him. They listened,
admired, wondered, gasped and quietly went their own way.

At the second Synod, held at the Moor Hotel in Gotha, the Count
explained his projects still more clearly {1740.}, and made the most
astounding speech that had yet fallen from his lips. "It is," he
declared, "the duty of our Bishops to defend the rights of the
Protestant Moravian Church, and the duty of all the congregation to
be loyal to that Church. It is absolutely necessary, for the sake
of Christ's work, that our Church be recognized as a true Church.
She is a true Church of God; she is in the world to further the
Saviour's cause; and people can belong to her just as much as to any
other." If these words meant anything at all, they meant, of
course, that Zinzendorf, like the Moravians themselves, insisted on
the independent existence of the Moravian Church; and, to prove that
he really did mean this, he had Polycarp Müller consecrated a
Bishop. And yet, at the same time, the Count insisted that the
Brethren were not to value their Church for her own sake. They were
not to try to extend the Church as such; they were not to
proselytize from other Churches; they were to regard her rather as a
house of call for the "scattered" in all the churches;94 and, above
all, they must ever remember that as soon as they had done their
work their Church would cease to exist. If this puzzles the reader
he must not be distressed. It was equally puzzling to some of
Zinzendorf's followers. Bishop Polycarp Müller confessed that he
could never understand it. At bottom, however, the Count's idea was
clear. He still had a healthy horror of sects and splits; he still
regarded the Brethren's Church as a "Church within the Church"; he
still insisted, with perfect truth, that as they had no distinctive
doctrine they could not be condemned as a nonconforming sect; and
the goal for which he was straining was that wheresoever the
Brethren went they should endeavour not to extend their own borders,
but rather to serve as a bond of union evangelical Christians of all

Next year, at a Synod at Marienborn, the Count explained how this
wonderful work was to be done {1740.}. What was the bond of union
to be? It was certainly not a doctrine. Instead of making the bond
of union a doctrine, as so many Churches have done, the Brethren
made it personal experience. Where creeds had failed experience
would succeed. If men, they said, were to he united in one grand
evangelical Church, it would be, not by a common creed, but by a
common threefold experience--a common experience of their own misery
and sin; a common experience of the redeeming grace of Christ; and a
common experience of the religious value of the Bible. To them this
personal experience was the one essential. They had no rigid
doctrine to impose. They did not regard any of the standard creeds
as final. They did not demand subscription to a creed as a test.
They had no rigid doctrine of the Atonement or of the Divinity of
Christ; they had no special process of conversion; and, most
striking of all, they had no rigid doctrine of the inspiration of
the Bible. They did not believe either in verbal inspiration or in
Biblical infallibility. They declared that the famous words, "all
Scripture is given by inspiration of God," must be taken in a free
and broad way. They held that, though the Bible was inspired, it
contained mistakes in detail; that the teaching of St. James was in
flat contradiction to the teaching of St. Paul; and that even the
Apostles sometimes made a wrong application of the prophecies. To
them the value of the Bible consisted, not in its supposed
infallibility, but in its appeal to their hearts. "The Bible," they
declared, "is a never-failing spring for the heart; and the one
thing that authenticates the truth of its message is the fact that
what is said in the book is confirmed by the experience of the
heart." How modern this sounds.

But how was this universal experience to be attained? The Count had
his answer ready. He had studied the philosophical works of Spinoza
and Bayle. He was familiar with the trend of the rationalistic
movement. He was aware that to thousands, both inside and outside
the Church, the God whom Jesus called "Our Father" was no more than
a cold philosophical abstraction; and that many pastors in the
Lutheran Church, instead of trying to make God a reality, were
wasting their time in spinning abstruse speculations, and discussing
how many legions of angels could stand on the point of a needle. As
this sort of philosophy rather disgusted Zinzendorf, he determined
to frame a theology of his own; and thereby he arrived at the
conclusion that the only way to teach men to love God was "to preach
the Creator of the World under no other shape than that of a wounded
and dying Lamb." He held that the Suffering Christ on the Cross was
the one perfect expression and revelation of the love of God; he
held that the title "Lamb of God" was the favourite name for Christ
in the New Testament; he held that the central doctrine of the faith
was the "Ransom" paid by Christ in His sufferings and death; and,
therefore, he began to preach himself, and taught his Brethren to
preach as well, the famous "Blood and Wounds Theology."

And now, at a Synod held in London, the Brethren cleared the decks
for action, and took their stand on the stage of history as a free,
independent Church of Christ {1741.}. The situation was alarming.
Of all the Protestant Churches in Europe, the Church of the
Brethren was the broadest in doctrine and the most independent in
action; and yet, during the last few years, the Brethren were
actually in danger of bending the knee to a Pope. The Pope in
question was Leonard Dober. At the time when Herrnhut was founded,
the Brethren had elected a governing board of twelve Elders. Of
these twelve Elders, four Over-Elders were set apart for spiritual
purposes; and of these four Over-Elders, one was specially chosen as
Chief Elder. The first Chief Elder was Augustin Neisser, and the
second Martin Linner. As long as the office lay in Linner's hands,
there was no danger of the Chief Elder becoming a Pope. He was poor;
he was humble; he was weak in health; and he spent his time in
praying for the Church and attending to the spiritual needs of the
Single Brethren. But gradually the situation altered. For the last
six years the office had been held by Leonard Dober. He had been
elected by Lot, and was, therefore, supposed to possess Divine
authority. He was General Elder of the whole Brethren's Church. He
had become the supreme authority in spiritual matters. He had
authority over Zinzendorf himself, over all the Bishops, over all
the members of the Pilgrim Band, over all Moravian Brethren at
Herrnhut, over the pioneers in England and North America, over the
missionaries in Greenland, the West Indies, South Africa and
Surinam. He had become a spiritual referee. As the work extended,
his duties and powers increased. He was Elder, not merely of the
Brethren's Church, but of that ideal "Community of Jesus" which ever
swam before the vision of the Count. He was becoming a court of
appeal in cases of dispute. Already disagreements were rising among
the Brethren. At Herrnhut dwelt the old-fashioned, sober, strict
Moravians. At Herrnhaag the Brethren, with their freer notions,
were already showing dangerous signs of fanaticism. At Pilgerruh,
in Holstein, another body were being tempted to break from the Count
altogether. And above these disagreeing parties the General Elder
sat supreme. His position had become impossible. He was supposed
to be above all party disputes; he was the friend of all, the
intercessor for all, the broad-minded ideal Brother; and yet, if an
actual dispute arose, he would be expected to give a binding
decision. For these manifold duties Dober felt unfit; he had no
desire to become a Protestant Pope; and, therefore, being a modest
man, he wrote to the Conference at Marienborn, and asked for leave
to lay down his office. The question was submitted to the Lot. The
Lot allowed Dober to resign. The situation was now more dangerous
than ever. The Brethren were in a quandary. They could never do
without a General Elder. If they did they would cease to be a true
"Community of Jesus," and degenerate into a mere party-sect. At
last, at a house in Red Lion Street, London, they met to thrash out
the question. For the third time a critical question was submitted
to the decision of the Lot {Sept. 16th, 1741.}. "As we began to
think about the Eldership," says Zinzendorf himself, in telling the
story, "it occurred to us to accept the Saviour as Elder. At the
beginning of our deliberations we opened the Textbook. On the one
page stood the words, 'Let us open the door to Christ'; on the
other, 'Thus saith the Lord, etc.; your Master, etc.; show me to my
children and to the work of my hands. Away to Jesus! Away! etc.'
Forthwith and with one consent we resolved to have no other than
Him as our General Elder. He sanctioned it.95 It was just
Congregation Day. We looked at the Watchword for the day. It ran:
'The glory of the Lord filled the house. We bow before the Lamb's
face, etc.' We asked permission.96 We obtained it. We sang with
unequalled emotion: 'Come, then, for we belong to Thee, and bless us
inexpressibly.'" As the story just quoted was written by the poetic
Count, it has been supposed that in recording this famous event he
added a spiritual flavour of his own. But in this case he was
telling the literal truth. At that Conference the Brethren
deliberately resolved to ask Christ to undertake the office which
had hitherto been held by Leonard Dober; and, to put the matter
beyond all doubt, they inscribed on their minutes the resolution:
"That the office of General Elder be abolished, and be transferred
to the Saviour."97 At first sight that resolution savours both of
blasphemy and of pride; and Ritschl, the great theologian, declares
that the Brethren put themselves on a pedestal above all other
Churches. For that judgment Moravian writers have largely been to
blame. It has been asserted again and again that on that famous
"Memorial Day" the Brethren made a "special covenant" with Christ.
For that legend Bishop Spangenberg was partly responsible. As that
godly writer, some thirty years later, was writing the story of
these transactions, he allowed his pious imagination to cast a halo
over the facts; and, therefore, he penned the misleading sentence
that the chief concern of the Brethren was that Christ "would
condescend to enter into a special covenant with His poor Brethren's
people, and take us as his peculiar property." For that statement
there is not a shadow of evidence. The whole story of the "special
covenant" is a myth. In consulting the Lot the Brethren showed
their faith; in passing their resolution they showed their wisdom;
and the meaning of the resolution was that henceforth the Brethren
rejected all human authority in spiritual matters, recognized Christ
alone as the Head of the Church, and thereby became the first free
Church in Europe. Instead of bowing to any human authority they
proceeded now to manage their own affairs; they elected by Lot a
Conference of Twelve, and thus laid the foundations of that
democratic system of government which exists at the present day.
They were thrilled with the joy of their experience; they felt that
now, at length, they were free indeed; they resolved that the joyful
news should be published in all the congregations on the same day
(November 13th); and henceforward that day was held in honour as the
day when the Brethren gained their freedom and bowed to the will and
law of Christ alone.

And now there was only one more step to take. As soon as the Synod
in London was over, Count Zinzendorf set off for America in pursuit
of a scheme to be mentioned in its proper place; and as soon as he
was safely out of the way, the Brethren at home set about the task
of obtaining recognition by the State. They had an easy task before
them. For the last ninety-four years--ever since the Peace of
Westphalia (1648)--the ruling principle in German had been that each
little king and each little prince should settle what the religion
should be in his own particular dominions. If the King was a
Lutheran, his people must be Lutheran; if the King was Catholic, his
people must be Catholic. But now this principle was suddenly thrown
overboard. The new King of Prussia, Frederick the Great, was a
scoffer. For religion Frederick the Great cared nothing; for the
material welfare of his people he cared a good deal. He had
recently conquered Silesia; he desired to see his land well tilled,
and his people happy and good; and, therefore, he readily granted
the Brethren a "Concession," allowing them to settle in Prussia and
Silesia {Dec. 25th, 1742.}. His attitude was that of the practical
business man. As long as the Brethren obeyed the law, and fostered
trade, they could worship as they pleased. For all he cared, they
might have prayed to Beelzebub. He granted them perfect liberty of
conscience; he allowed them to ordain their own ministers; he
informed them that they would not be subject to the Lutheran
consistory; and thus, though not in so many words, he practically
recognized the Brethren as a free and independent Church. For the
future history of the Brethren's Church, this "Concession" was of
vast importance. In one sense it aided their progress; in another
it was a fatal barrier. As the Brethren came to be known as good
workmen, other magnates speedily followed the king's example; for
particular places particular "concessions" were prepared; and thus
the Brethren were encouraged to extend their "settlement system."
Instead, therefore, of advancing from town to town, the Brethren
concentrated their attention on the cultivation of settlement life;
and before many years had passed away they had founded settlements
at Niesky, Gnadenberg, Gnadenfrei, and Neusalz-on-the-Oder.

Thus, then, had the Brethren sketched the plan of all their future
work. They had regained their episcopal orders. They had defined
their mission in the world. They had chosen their Gospel message.
They had asserted their freedom of thought. They had won the
goodwill of the State. They had adopted the "settlement system."
They had begun their Diaspora work for the scattered, and their
mission work for the heathen; and thus they had revived the old
Church of the Brethren, and laid down those fundamental principles
which have been maintained down to the present day.

Meanwhile their patriotic instincts had been confirmed. As
Christian David had brought Brethren from Moravia, so Jan Gilek
brought Brethren from Bohemia; and the story of his romantic
adventures aroused fresh zeal for the ancient Church. He had fled
from Bohemia to Saxony, and had often returned, like Christian
David, to fetch bands of Brethren. He had been captured in a
hay-loft by Jesuits. He had been imprisoned for two years at
Leitomischl. He had been kept in a dungeon swarming with frogs,
mice and other vermin. He had been fed with hot bread that he might
suffer from colic. He had been employed as street sweeper in
Leitomischl, with his left hand chained to his right foot. At
length, however, he made his escape (1735), fled to Gerlachseim, in
Silesia, and finally, along with other Bohemian exiles, helped to
form a new congregation at Rixdorf, near Berlin. As the Brethren
listened to Gilek's story their zeal for the Church of their fathers
was greater than ever; and now the critical question was, what would
Zinzendorf say to all this when he returned from America?


THE SIFTING TIME, 1743-1750.

As the Count advanced towards middle age, he grew more domineering
in tone, more noble in his dreams, and more foolish in much of his
conduct. He was soon to shine in each of these three lights. He
returned from America in a fury. For two years he had been busy in
Pennsylvania in a brave, but not very successful, attempt to
establish a grand "Congregation of God in the Spirit"; and now he
heard, to his deep disgust, that his Brethren in Europe had lowered
the ideal of the Church, and made vulgar business bargains with
worldly powers. What right, he asked, had the Brethren to make
terms with an Atheist King? What right had they to obtain these
degrading "concessions?" The whole business, he argued, smacked of
simony. If the Brethren made terms with kings at all, they should
take their stand, not, forsooth, as good workmen who would help to
fatten the soil, but rather as loyal adherents of the Augsburg
Confession. At Herrnhaag they had turned the Church into a business
concern! Instead of paying rent to the Counts of Isenburg, they now
had the Counts in their power. They had lent them large sums of
money; they held their estates as security; and now, in return for
these financial favours, the Counts had kindly recognized the
Brethren as "the orthodox Episcopal Moravian Church." The more
Zinzendorf heard of these business transactions, the more disgusted
he was. He stormed and rated like an absolute monarch, and an
absolute monarch he soon became. He forgot that before he went away
he had entrusted the management of home affairs to a Board of
Twelve. He now promptly dissolved the Board, summoned the Brethren
to a Synod at Hirschberg, lectured them angrily for their sins,
reduced them to a state of meek submission, and was ere long
officially appointed to the office of "Advocate and Steward of all
the Brethren's Churches." He had now the reins of government in his
hands {1743.}. "Without your foreknowledge," ran this document,
"nothing new respecting the foundation shall come up in our
congregations, nor any conclusion of importance to the whole shall
be valid; and no further story shall be built upon your fundamental
plan of the Protestant doctrine of the Augsburg Confession, and that
truthing it in love with all Christians, without consulting you."

He proceeded now to use these kingly powers. He accused the
Brethren of two fundamental errors. Instead of trying to gather
Christians into one ideal "Community of Jesus," they had aimed at
the recognition of the independent Moravian Church; and instead of
following the guidance of God, they had followed the dictates of
vulgar worldly wisdom. He would cure them of each of these
complaints. He would cure them of their narrow sectarian views, and
cure them of their reliance on worldly wisdom.

For the first complaint he offered the remedy known as his "Tropus
Idea." The whole policy of Zinzendorf lies in those two words. He
expounded it fully at a Synod in Marienborn. The more he studied
Church history in general, the more convinced he became that over
and above all the Christian Churches there was one ideal universal
Christian Church; that that ideal Church represented the original
religion of Christ; and that now the true mission of the Brethren
was to make that ideal Church a reality on God's fair earth. He did
not regard any of the Churches of Christ as Churches in this higher
sense of the term. He regarded them rather as religious training
grounds. He called them, not Churches, but tropuses. He called the
Lutheran Church a tropus; he called the Calvinistic Church a tropus;
he called the Moravian Church a tropus; he called the Pilgrim Band a
tropus; he called the Memnonites a tropus; and by this word "tropus"
he meant a religious school in which Christians were trained for
membership in the one true Church of Christ. He would not have one
of these tropuses destroyed. He regarded them all as essential. He
honoured them all as means to a higher end. He would never try to
draw a man from his tropus. And now he set a grand task before the
Brethren. As the Brethren had no distinctive creed, and taught the
original religion of Christ, they must now, he said, regard it as
their Divine mission to find room within their broad bosom for men
from all the tropuses. They were not merely to restore the Moravian
Church; they were to establish a broader, comprehensive Church, to
be known as the "Church of the Brethren"; and that Church would be
composed of men from every tropus under heaven. Some would be
Lutherans, some Reformed, some Anglicans, some Moravians, some
Memnonites, some Pilgrims in the foreign field. For this purpose,
and for this purpose only, he now revived the old Brethren's
ministerial orders of Presbyter, Deacon and Acoluth; and when these
men entered on their duties he informed them that they were the
servants, not merely of the Moravian Church, but of the wider
"Church of the Brethren." If the Count could now have carried out
his scheme, he would have had men from various Churches at the head
of each tropus in the Church of the Brethren. For the present he
did the best he could, and divided the Brethren into three leading
tropuses. At the head of the Moravian tropus was Bishop Polycarp
Müller; at the head of the Lutheran, first he himself, and then,
later, Dr. Hermann, Court Preacher at Dresden; and finally, at the
head of the Reformed, first his old friend Bishop Friedrich de
Watteville, and then, later, Thomas Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and
Man.98 His scheme was now fairly clear. "In future," he said, "we
are all to be Brethren, and our Bishops must be Brethren's Bishops;
and, therefore, in this Church of the Brethren there will henceforth
be, not only Moravians, but also Lutherans and Calvinists, who
cannot find peace in their own Churches on account of brutal

His second remedy was worse than the disease. The great fault in
Zinzendorf's character was lack of ballast. For the last few years
he had given way to the habit of despising his own common sense; and
instead of using his own judgment he now used the Lot. He had
probably learned this habit from the Halle Pietists. He carried his
Lot apparatus in his pocket;99 he consulted it on all sorts of
topics; he regarded it as the infallible voice of God. "To me," said
he, in a letter to Spangenberg, "the Lot and the Will of God are
simply one and the same thing. I am not wise enough to seek God's
will by my own mental efforts. I would rather trust an innocent
piece of paper than my own feelings." He now endeavoured to teach
this faith to his Brethren. He founded a society called "The Order
of the Little Fools," {June 2nd, 1743.} and before very long they
were nearly all "little fools." His argument here was astounding.
He appealed to the well-known words of Christ Himself.100 As God,
he contended, had revealed His will, not to wise men, but to babes,
it followed that the more like babes the Brethren became, the more
clearly they would understand the mysteries of grace. They were not
to use their own brains; they were to wish that they had no brains;
they were to be like children in arms; and thus they would overcome
all their doubts and banish all their cares. The result was
disastrous. It led to the period known as the "Sifting Time." It is
the saddest period in the history of the Brethren's Church. For
seven years these Brethren took leave of their senses, and allowed
their feelings to lead them on in the paths of insensate folly.
They began by taking Zinzendorf at his word. They used diminutives
for nearly everything. They addressed the Count as "Papa" and
"Little Papa"; they spoke of Christ as "Brother Lambkin";101 and
they described themselves as little wound-parsons, cross-wood little
splinters, a blessed troop of cross-air102 birds, cross-air little
atoms, cross-air little sponges, and cross-air little pigeons.

The chief sinner was the Count himself. Having thrown his common
sense overboard, he gave free rein to his fancy, and came out with
an exposition of the Holy Trinity which offended the rules of good
taste. He compared the Holy Trinity to a family. The father, said
he, was God; the mother was the Holy Ghost; their son was Jesus; and
the Church of Christ, the Son's fair bride, was born in the
Saviour's Side-wound, was betrothed to Christ on the Cross, was
married to Christ in the Holy Communion, and was thus the
daughter-in-law of the Father and the Holy Ghost. We can all see
the dangers of this. As soon as human images of spiritual truths
are pressed beyond decent limits, they lead to frivolity and folly;
and that was just the effect at Herrnhaag. The more freely the
Brethren used these phrases, the more childish they became. They
called the Communion the "Embracing of the Man"; and thus they lost
their reverence for things Divine.

But the next move of the Count was even worse. For its origin we
must go back a few years in his story. As the Count one day was
burning a pile of papers he saw one slip flutter down to the ground
untouched by the fire {1734.}. He picked it up, looked at it, and
found that it contained the words:--

"Oh, let us in Thy nail-prints see
Our pardon and election free."

At first the effect on Zinzendorf was healthy enough. He regarded
the words as a direct message from God. He began to think more of
the value of the death of Christ. He altered the style of his
preaching; he became more definitely evangelical; and henceforth he
taught the doctrine that all happiness and all virtue must centre in
the atoning death of Christ. "Since the year 1734," he said, "the
atoning sacrifice of Jesus became our only testimony and our one
means of salvation." But now he carried this doctrine to excess.
Again the cause was his use of the Lot. As long as Zinzendorf used
his own mental powers, he was able to make his "Blood and Wounds
Theology" a power for good; but as soon as he bade good-bye to his
intellect he made his doctrine a laughing-stock and a scandal.
Instead of concentrating his attention on the moral and spiritual
value of the cross, he now began to lay all the stress on the mere
physical details. He composed a "Litany of the Wounds"; and the
Brethren could now talk and sing of nothing else {1743.}. "We
stick," they said, "to the Blood and Wounds Theology. We will
preach nothing but Jesus the Crucified. We will look for nothing
else in the Bible but the Lamb and His Wounds, and again Wounds, and
Blood and Blood." Above all they began to worship the Side-wound.
"We stick," they declared, "to the Lambkin and His little
Side-wound. It is useless to call this folly. We dote upon it. We
are in love with it. We shall stay for ever in the little
side-hole, where we are so unspeakably blessed."

Still worse, these men now forgot the main moral principle of the
Christian religion. Instead of living for others they lived for
themselves. Instead of working hard for their living they were now
enjoying themselves at the Count's expense; instead of plain living
and high thinking they had high living and low thinking; and instead
of spending their money on the poor they spent it now on grand
illuminations, transparent pictures, and gorgeous musical festivals.
No longer was their religion a discipline. It was a luxury, an
orgy, a pastime. At Herrnhut the ruling principle was law; at
Herrnhaag the ruling principle was liberty. At Herrnhut their
religion was legal; at Herrnhaag it was supposed to be evangelical.
The walls of their meeting-house were daubed with flaming pictures.
In the centre of the ceiling was a picture of the Ascension; in one
corner, Mary Magdalene meeting Jesus on the Resurrection morning; in
another, our Lord making himself known to the two disciples at
Emmaus; in a third Thomas thrusting his hand in the Saviour's side;
in a fourth, Peter leaping from a boat to greet the Risen Master on
the shores of the Lake of Tiberias. The four walls were equally
gorgeous. At one end of the hall was a picture of the Jew's
Passover, some Hebrews sprinkling blood on the door-posts, and the
destroying angel passing. At the opposite end was a picture of the
Last Supper; on another wall Moses lifting up the brazen serpent; on
the fourth the Crucifixion. We can easily see the purpose of these
pictures. They were all meant to teach the same great lesson. They
were appeals through the eye to the heart. They were sermons in
paint. If the Brethren had halted here they had done well. But
again they rode their horse to death. For them pictures and hymns
were not enough. At Marienborn Castle they now held a series of
birthday festivals in honour of Zinzendorf, Anna Nitschmann and
other Moravian worthies; and these festivals must have cost
thousands of pounds. At such times the old castle gleamed with a
thousand lights. At night, says a visitor, the building seemed on
fire. The walls were hung with festoons. The hall was ornamented
with boughs. The pillars were decked with lights, spirally
disposed, and the seats were covered with fine linen, set off with
sightly ribbons.

But the worst feature of this riotous life is still to be mentioned.
If there is any topic requiring delicate treatment, it is surely
the question of sexual morality; and now the Count made the great
mistake of throwing aside the cloak of modesty and speaking out on
sins of the flesh in the plainest possible language. He delivered a
series of discourses on moral purity; and in those discourses he
used expressions which would hardly be permitted now except in a
medical treatise. His purpose was certainly good. He contended
that he had the Bible on his side; that the morals of the age were
bad; and that the time for plain speaking had come. "At that time,"
he said, "when the Brethren's congregations appeared afresh on the
horizon of the Church, he found, on the one hand, the lust of
concupiscence carried to the utmost pitch possible, and the youth
almost totally ruined; and on the other hand some few thoughtful
persons who proposed a spirituality like the angels." But again the
Brethren rode their horse to death. They were not immoral, they
were only silly. They talked too freely about these delicate
topics; they sang about them in their hymns; they had these hymns
published in a volume known as the "Twelfth Appendix" to their
Hymn-book; and thus they innocently gave the public the impression
that they revelled, for its own sake, in coarse and filthy language.

What judgment are we to pass on all these follies? For the Brethren
we may fairly enter the plea that most of them were humble and
simple-minded men; that, on the whole, they meant well; and that, in
their zeal for the Gospel of Christ, they allowed their feelings to
carry them away. And further, let us bear in mind that, despite
their foolish style of speech, they were still heroes of the Cross.
They had still a burning love for Christ; they were still willing
to serve abroad; and they still went out to foreign lands, and laid
down their lives for the sake of Him who had laid down His for them.
As John Cennick was on his visit to Herrnhaag (1746), he was amazed
by the splendid spirit of devotion shown. He found himself at the
hub of the missionary world. He saw portraits of missionaries on
every hand. He heard a hymn sung in twenty-two different languages.
He heard sermons in German, Esthonian, French, Spanish, Swedish,
Lettish, Bohemian, Dutch, Hebrew, Danish, and Eskimo. He heard
letters read from missionaries in every quarter of the globe.

"Are you ready," said Zinzendorf to John Soerensen, "to serve the
Saviour in Greenland?"

"Here am I, send me," said Soerensen. He had never thought of such
a thing before.

"But the matter is pressing; we want someone to go at once."

"Well!" replied Soerensen, "that's no difficulty. If you will only
get me a new pair of boots I will set off this very day. My old
ones are quite worn out, and I have not another pair to call my

And the next day the man was off, and served in Greenland forty-six

But the grandest case is that of Bishop Cammerhof. He was a fanatic
of the fanatics. He revelled in sickly sentimental language. He
called himself a "Little Fool" and a "Little Cross-air Bird." He
addressed the Count as his "heart's Papa," and Anna Nitschmann as
his "Motherkin." He said he would kiss them a thousand times, and
vowed he could never fondle them enough! And yet this man had the
soul of a hero, and killed himself by overwork among the North
American Indians!103 It is easy to sneer at saints like this as
fools; but if fools they were, they were fools for their Master's

But for Zinzendorf it is hard to find any excuse. He had received a
splendid education, had moved in refined and cultured circles, and
had enjoyed the friendship of learned bishops, of eloquent
preachers, of university professors, of philosophers, of men of
letters. He had read the history of the Christian Church, knew the
dangers of excess, and had spoken against excess in his earlier
years.104 He knew that the Wetterau swarmed with mad fanatics; had
read the works of Dippel, of Rock, and of other unhealthy writers;
and had, therefore, every reason to be on his guard. He knew the
weak points in his own character. "I have," he said, "a genius for
extravagance." He had deliberately, of his own free will, accepted
the office of "Advocate and Steward" of the Brethren's Church. He
was the head of an ancient episcopal Church, with a high reputation
to sustain. He had set the Brethren a high and holy task. He was a
public and well-known character. As he travelled about from country
to country he spread the fame of the Brethren's labours in every
great city in Germany, in England, in Switzerland, in North America,
and in the West Indies; and by this time he was known personally to
the King of Denmark, to Potter, Archbishop of Canterbury, to John
and Charles Wesley, to Bengel, the famous commentator, and to many
other leaders in the Lutheran Church. And, therefore, by all the
laws of honour, he was bound to lead the Brethren upward and keep
their record clean. But his conduct now was unworthy of a trusted
leader. It is the darkest blot on his saintly character, and the
chief reason why his brilliant schemes met with so little favour.
At the very time when he placed before the Brethren the noblest and
loftiest ideals, he himself had done the most to cause the enemy to
blaspheme. No wonder his Tropus idea was laughed to scorn. What
sort of home was this, said his critics, that he had prepared for
all the Tropuses? What grand ideal "Church of the Brethren" was
this, with its childish nonsense, its blasphemous language, its
objectionable hymns? As the rumours of the Brethren's excesses
spread, all sorts of wild tales were told about them. Some said
they were worshippers of the devil; some said they were conspirators
against the State; some accused them falsely of immorality, of
gluttony, of robbing the poor; and the chief cause of all the
trouble was this beautiful poet, this original thinker, this
eloquent preacher, this noble descendant of a noble line, this
learned Bishop of the Brethren's Church. There is only one
explanation of his conduct. He had committed mental suicide, and he
paid the penalty.105

He had now to retrieve his fallen honour, and to make amends for his
guilt. At last he awoke to the stern facts of the case. His
position now was terrible. What right had he to lecture the
Brethren for sins which he himself had taught them to commit? He
shrank from the dreadful task. But the voice of duty was not to be
silenced. He had not altogether neglected the Brethren's cause. At
the very time when the excesses were at their height he had been
endeavouring to obtain for the Brethren full legal recognition in
Germany, England, and North America. He won his first victory in
Germany. He was allowed (Oct., 1747) to return to Saxony, summoned
the Brethren to a Synod at Gross-Krausche in Silesia (1748), and
persuaded them to promise fidelity to the Augsburg Confession. He
had the Brethren's doctrine and practice examined by a Saxon Royal
Commission, and the King of Saxony issued a decree (1749) by which
the Brethren were granted religious liberty in his kingdom. Thus
the Brethren were now fully recognized by law in Prussia, Silesia,
and Saxony. He had obtained these legal privileges just in time,
and could now deal with the poor fanatics at Herrnhaag. The
situation there had come to a crisis. The old Count of Isenberg
died. His successor, Gustavus Friedrich, was a weak-minded man; the
agent, Brauer, detested the Brethren; and now Brauer laid down the
condition that the settlers at Herrnhaag must either break off their
connection with Zinzendorf or else abandon the premises. They chose
the latter course. At one blow the gorgeous settlement was shivered
to atoms. It had cost many thousands of pounds to build, and now
the money was gone for ever. As the Brethren scattered in all
directions, the Count saw at last the damage he had done {Feb.,
1750.}. He had led them on in reckless expense, and now he must
rush to their rescue. He addressed them all in a solemn circular
letter. He visited the various congregations, and urged them to
true repentance. He suppressed the disgraceful "Twelfth Appendix,"
and cut out the offensive passages in his own discourses. He issued
treatise after treatise defending the Brethren against the coarse
libels of their enemies. And, best of all, and noblest of all, he
not only took upon his own shoulders the burden of their financial
troubles, but confessed like a man that he himself had steered them
on to the rocks. He summoned his Brethren to a Synod. He rose to
address the assembly. His eyes were red, his cheeks stained with

"Ah! my beloved Brethren," he said, "I am guilty! I am the cause of
all these troubles!"

And thus at length this "Sifting-Time" came to a happy end. The
whole episode was like an attack of pneumonia. The attack was
sudden; the crisis dangerous; the recovery swift; and the lesson
wholesome. For some years after this the Brethren continued to show
some signs of weakness; and even in the next edition of their
Hymn-book they still made use of some rather crude expressions. But
on the whole they had learned some useful lessons. On this subject
the historians have mostly been in the wrong. Some have suppressed
the facts. This is dishonest. Others have exaggerated, and spoken
as if the excesses lasted for two or three generations. This is
wicked.106 The sober truth is exactly as described in these pages.
The best judgment was passed by the godly Bishop Spangenherg. "At
that time," he said, "the spirit of Christ did not rule in our
hearts; and that was the real cause of all our foolery." Full well
the Brethren realized their mistake, and honestly they took its
lessons to heart. They learned to place more trust in the Bible,
and less in their own unbridled feelings. They learned afresh the
value of discipline, and of an organised system of government. They
became more guarded in their language, more Scriptural in their
doctrine, and more practical in their preaching. Nor was this all.
Meanwhile the same battle had been fought and won in England and
North America.



For the origin of the Moravian Church in England we turn our eyes to
a bookseller's shop in London. It was known as "The Bible and Sun";
it stood a few yards west of Temple Bar; and James Hutton, the man
behind the counter, became in time the first English member of the
Brethren's Church. But James Hutton was a man of high importance
for the whole course of English history. He was the connecting link
between Moravians and Methodists; and thus he played a vital part,
entirely ignored by our great historians, in the whole Evangelical

He was born on September 14th, 1715. He was the son of a
High-Church clergyman. His father was a non-juror. He had refused,
that is, to take the oath of loyalty to the Hanoverian succession,
had been compelled to resign his living, and now kept a
boarding-house in College Street, Westminster, for boys attending
the famous Westminster School. At that school little James himself
was educated; and one of his teachers was Samuel Wesley, the elder
brother of John and Charles. He had no idea to what this would
lead. As the lad grew up in his father's home he had, of course,
not the least suspicion that such a body as the Moravian Church
existed. He had never heard of Zinzendorf or of Herrnhut. He was
brought up a son of the Church of England; he loved her services and
doctrine; and all that he desired to see was a revival within her
borders of true spiritual life.

The revival was close at hand. For some years a number of pious
people--some clergy, and others laymen--had been endeavouring to
rouse the Church to new and vigorous life; and to this end they
established a number of "Religious Societies." There were thirty or
forty of these Societies in London. They consisted of members of
the Church of England. They met, once a week, in private houses to
pray, to read the Scriptures, and to edify each other. They drew up
rules for their spiritual guidance, had special days for fasting and
prayer, and attended early Communion once a month. At church they
kept a sharp look-out for others "religiously disposed," and invited
such to join their Societies. In the morning they would go to their
own parish church; in the afternoon they would go where they could
hear a "spiritual sermon." Of these Societies one met at the house
of Hutton's father. If James, however, is to be believed, the
Societies had now lost a good deal of their moral power. He was not
content with the one in his own home. He was not pleased with the
members of it. They were, he tells us, slumbering or dead souls;
they cared for nothing but their own comfort in this world; and all
they did when they met on Sunday evenings was to enjoy themselves at
small expense, and fancy themselves more holy than other people. He
was soon to meet with men of greater zeal.

As James was now apprenticed to a bookseller he thought he could do
a good stroke of business by visiting some of his old school-mates
at the University of Oxford. He went to Oxford to see them; they
introduced him to John and Charles Wesley; and thus he formed an
acquaintance that was soon to change the current of his life. What
had happened at Oxford is famous in English history. For the last
six years both John and Charles had been conducting a noble work.
They met, with others, on Sunday evenings, to read the classics and
the Greek Testament; they attended Communion at St. Mary's every
Sunday. They visited the poor and the prisoners in the gaol. They
fasted at regular intervals. For all this they were openly laughed
to scorn, and were considered mad fanatics. They were called the
Reforming Club, the Holy Club, the Godly Club, the Sacramentarians,
the Bible Moths, the Supererogation Men, the Enthusiasts, and,
finally, the Methodists.

But Hutton was stirred to the very depths of his soul. He was still
living in College Street with his father; next door lived Samuel
Wesley, his old schoolmaster; and Hutton, therefore, asked John and
Charles to call and see him when next they came up to town. The
invitation led to great results. At this time John Wesley received
a request from General Oglethorpe, Governor of Georgia, to go out to
that colony as a missionary. He accepted the offer with joy; his
brother Charles was appointed the Governor's Secretary; and the two
young men came up to London and spent a couple of days at Hutton's
house. The plot was thickening. Young James was more in love with
the Wesleys than ever. If he had not been a bound apprentice he
would have sailed with them to Georgia himself {1735.}. He went
down with them to Gravesend; he spent some time with them on board
the ship; and there, on that sailing vessel, the Simmonds, he saw,
for the first time in his life, a number of Moravian Brethren.
They, too, were on their way to Georgia. For the future history of
religion in England that meeting on the Simmonds was momentous.
Among the passengers were General Oglethorpe, Bishop David
Nitschmann, and twenty-three other Brethren, and thus Moravians and
Methodists were brought together by their common interest in
missionary work.

James Hutton was thrilled. As soon as his apprenticeship was over
he set up in business for himself at the "Bible and Sun," founded a
new Society in his own back parlour, and made that parlour the
centre of the Evangelical Revival {1736.}. There he conducted
weekly meetings; there he established a Poor-box Society, the
members paying in a penny a week; there met the men who before long
were to turn England upside down; and there he and others were to
hear still more of the life and work of the Brethren.

For this he had to thank his friend John Wesley. As John Wesley set
out on his voyage to Georgia he began to keep that delightful
Journal which has now become an English classic; and before having
his Journal printed he sent private copies to Hutton, and Hutton
read them out at his weekly meetings. John Wesley had a stirring
tale to tell. He admired the Brethren from the first. They were,
he wrote, the gentlest, bravest folk he had ever met. They helped
without pay in the working of the ship; they could take a blow
without losing their tempers; and when the ship was tossed in the
storm they were braver than the sailors themselves. One Sunday the
gale was terrific. The sea poured in between the decks. The main
sail was torn to tatters. The English passengers screamed with
terror. The Brethren calmly sang a hymn.

"Was not you afraid?" said Wesley.

"I thank God, no," replied the Brother.

"But were not your women and children afraid?"

"No; our women and children are not afraid to die."

John Wesley was deeply stirred. For all his piety he still lacked
something which these Brethren possessed. He lacked their
triumphant confidence in God. He was still afraid to die. "How is it
thou hast no faith?" he said to himself.

For the present his question remained unanswered; but before he had
been very long in Georgia he laid his spiritual troubles before the
learned Moravian teacher, Spangenberg. He could hardly have gone to
a better spiritual guide. Of all the Brethren this modest
Spangenberg was in many ways the best. He was the son of a Lutheran
minister. He was Wesley's equal in learning and practical piety.
He had been assistant lecturer in theology at Halle University. He
was a man of deep spiritual experience; he was only one year younger
than Wesley himself; and, therefore, he was thoroughly qualified to
help the young English pilgrim over the stile.107

"My brother," he said, "I must first ask you one or two questions.
Have you the witness within yourself? Does the Spirit of God bear
witness with your spirit that you are a child of God?"

John Wesley was so staggered that he could not answer.

"Do you know Jesus Christ?" continued Spangenberg.

"I know he is the Saviour of the world."

"True; but do you know he has saved you?"

"I hope," replied Wesley, "he has died to save me."

"Do you know yourself?"

"I do," said Wesley; but he only half meant what he said.

Again, three weeks later, Wesley was present at a Moravian
ordination service. For the moment he forgot the seventeen
centuries that had rolled by since the great days of the apostles;
and almost thought that Paul the tentmaker or Peter the fisherman
was presiding at the ceremony. "God," he said, "has opened me a door
into a whole Church."

As James Hutton read these glowing reports to his little Society at
the "Bible and Sun" he began to take a still deeper interest in the
Brethren. He had made the acquaintance, not only of the Wesleys,
but of Benjamin Ingham, of William Delamotte, and of George
Whitefield. He was the first to welcome Whitefield to London. He
found him openings in the churches. He supplied him with money for
the poor. He published his sermons. He founded another Society in
Aldersgate Street. He was now to meet with Zinzendorf himself.
Once more the connecting link was foreign missionary work. For
some years the Count had been making attempts to obtain the goodwill
of English Churchmen for the Brethren's labours in North America.
He had first sent three Brethren--Wenzel Neisser, John Toeltschig,
and David Nitschmann, the Syndic--to open up negotiations with the
Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge; and very disappointed he
was when these negotiations came to nothing. He had then sent
Spangenberg to London to make arrangements for the first batch of
colonists for Georgia. He had then sent the second batch under
Bishop David Nitschmann. And now he came to London himself, took
rooms at Lindsey House {1737.}, Chelsea, and stayed about six weeks.
He had two purposes to serve. He wished first to talk with
Archbishop Potter about Moravian Episcopal Orders. He was just
thinking of becoming a Bishop himself. He wanted Potter's opinion
on the subject. What position, he asked, would a Moravian Bishop
occupy in an English colony? Would it be right for a Moravian
Bishop to exercise his functions in Georgia? At the same time,
however, he wished to consult with the Board of Trustees for
Georgia. He had several talks with the Secretary. The Secretary
was Charles Wesley. Charles Wesley was lodging now at old John
Hutton's in College Street. He attended a service in Zinzendorf's
rooms; he thought himself in a choir of angels; he introduced James
Hutton to the Count; and thus another link in the chain was forged.

And now there arrived in England a man who was destined to give a
new tone to the rising revival {Jan. 27th, 1738.}. His name was
Peter Boehler; he had just been ordained by Zinzendorf; he was on
his way to South Carolina; and he happened to arrive in London five
days before John Wesley landed from his visit to America. We have
come to a critical point in English history. At the house of
Weinantz, a Dutch merchant, John Wesley and Peter Boehler met (Feb.
7th); John Wesley then found Boehler lodgings, and introduced him to
Hutton; and ten days later Wesley and Boehler set out together for
Oxford {Feb. 17th.}. The immortal discourse began.

As John Wesley returned to England from his three years' stay in
America, he found himself in a sorrowful state of mind. He had gone
with all the ardour of youth; he returned a spiritual bankrupt. On
this subject the historians have differed. According to High-Church
Anglican writers, John Wesley was a Christian saint before he ever
set eyes on Boehler's face;108 according to Methodists he had only a
legal religion and was lacking in genuine, saving faith in Christ.
His own evidence on the questions seems conflicting. At the time
he was sure he was not yet converted; in later years he inclined to
think he was. At the time he sadly wrote in his Journal, "I who
went to America to convert others was never myself converted to
God"; and then, years later, he added the footnote, "I am not sure
of this." It is easy, however, to explain this contradiction. The
question turns on the meaning of the word "converted." If a man is
truly converted to God when his heart throbs with love for his
fellows, with a zeal for souls, and with a desire to do God's holy
will, then John Wesley, when he returned from America, was just as
truly a "converted" man as ever he was in later life. He was devout
in prayer; he loved the Scriptures; he longed to be holy; he was
pure in thought, in deed, and in speech; he was self-denying; he had
fed his soul on the noble teaching of Law's "Serious Call"; and
thus, in many ways, he was a beautiful model of what a Christian
should be. And yet, after all, he lacked one thing which Peter
Boehler possessed. If John Wesley was converted then he did not
know it himself. He had no firm, unflinching trust in God. He was
not sure that his sins were forgiven. He lacked what Methodists
call "assurance," and what St. Paul called "peace with God." He had
the faith, to use his own distinction, not of a son, but only of a
servant. He was good but he was not happy; he feared God, but he
did not dare to love Him; he had not yet attained the conviction
that he himself had been redeemed by Christ; and if this conviction
is essential to conversion, then John Wesley, before he met Boehler,
was not yet a converted man. For practical purposes the matter was
of first importance. As long as Wesley was racked by doubts he
could never be a persuasive preacher of the Gospel. He was so
distracted about himself that he could not yet, with an easy mind,
rush out to the rescue of others. He had not "a heart at leisure
from itself to soothe and sympathize." The influence of Boehler was
enormous. He saw where Wesley's trouble lay, and led him into the
calm waters of rest.

"My brother, my brother," he said, "that philosophy of yours must be
purged away."109

John Wesley did not understand. For three weeks the two men
discussed the fateful question; and the more Wesley examined himself
the more sure he was he did not possess "the faith whereby we are
saved." One day he felt certain of his salvation; the next the
doubts besieged his door again.

"If what stands in the Bible is true," he said, "then I am saved";
but that was as far as he could go.

"He knew," said Boehler in a letter to Zinzendorf, "that he did not
properly believe in the Saviour."

At last Boehler made a fine practical suggestion {March 5th.}. He
urged Wesley to preach the Gospel to others. John Wesley was
thunderstruck. He thought it rather his duty to leave off
preaching. What right had he to preach to others a faith he did not
yet possess himself? Should he leave off preaching or not?

"By no means," replied Boehler.

"But what can I preach?" asked Wesley.

"Preach faith till you have it," was the classic answer, "and then,
because you have it, you will preach faith."

Again he consulted Boehler on the point; and again Boehler,
broad-minded man, gave the same wholesome advice.

"No," he insisted, "do not hide in the earth the talent God has
given you."

The advice was sound. If John Wesley had left off preaching now, he
might never have preached again; and if Boehler had been a
narrow-minded bigot, he would certainly have informed his pupil that
unless he possessed full assurance of faith he was unfit to remain
in holy orders. But Boehler was a scholar and a gentleman, and
acted throughout with tact. For some weeks John Wesley continued to
be puzzled by Boehler's doctrine of the holiness and happiness which
spring from living faith; but at last he came to the firm conclusion
that what Boehler said on the subject was precisely what was taught
in the Church of England. He had read already in his own Church
homilies that faith "is a sure trust and confidence which a man hath
in God that through the merits of Christ his sins are forgiven, and
he reconciled to the favour of God"; and yet, clergyman though he
was, he had not yet that trust and confidence himself. Instead,
therefore, of teaching Wesley new doctrine, Peter Boehler simply
informed him that some men, though of course not all, were suddenly
converted, that faith might be given in a moment, and that thus a
man might pass at once from darkness to light and from sin and
misery to righteousness and joy in the Holy Ghost. He had had that
very experience himself at Jena; he had known it as a solid fact in
the case of others; and, therefore, speaking from his own personal
knowledge, he informed Wesley that when a man obtained true faith he
acquired forthwith "dominion over sin and constant peace from a
sense of forgiveness."

At this Wesley was staggered. He called it a new Gospel. He would
not believe that the sense of forgiveness could be given in a

For answer Boehler appealed to the New Testament; and Wesley,
looking to see for himself, found that nearly all the cases of
conversion mentioned there were instantaneous. He contended,
however, that such miracles did not happen in the eighteenth
century. Boehler brought four friends to prove that they did. Four
examples, said Wesley, were not enough to prove a principle.
Boehler promised to bring eight more. For some days Wesley
continued to wander in the valley of indecision, and consulted
Boehler at every turn of the road. He persuaded Boehler to pray
with him; he joined him in singing Richter's hymn, "My soul before
Thee prostrate lies"; and finally, he preached a sermon to four
thousand hearers in London, enforcing that very faith in Christ
which he himself did not yet possess. But Boehler had now to leave
for South Carolina. From Southampton he wrote a farewell letter to
Wesley. "Beware of the sin of unbelief," he wrote, "and if you have
not conquered it yet, see that you conquer it this very day, through
the blood of Jesus Christ."

The letter produced its effect. The turning-point in John Wesley's
career arrived. He was able to give, not only the day, but the
hour, and almost the minute. As he was still under the influence of
Boehler's teaching, many writers have here assumed that his
conversion took place in a Moravian society.110 The assumption is
false. "In the evening," says Wesley, "I went very unwillingly to a
society in Aldersgate Street {May 24th.}, where one was reading
Luther's preface to the Epistle to the Romans." At that time the
society in Aldersgate Street had no more connection with the
Moravian Church than any other religious society in England. It was
founded by James Hutton; it was an ordinary religious society; it
consisted entirely of members of the Anglican Church; and there, in
an Anglican religious society, Wesley's conversion took place.
"About a quarter to nine," he says, "while he was describing the
change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt
my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ
alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that He had
taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and

>From that moment, despite some recurring doubts, John Wesley was a
changed man. If he had not exactly learned any new doctrine, he had
certainly passed through a new experience. He had peace in his
heart; he was sure of his salvation; and henceforth, as all readers
know, he was able to forget himself, to leave his soul in the hands
of God, and to spend his life in the salvation of his fellow-men.

Meanwhile Peter Boehler had done another good work. If his
influence over John Wesley was great, his influence over Charles
Wesley was almost greater. For some weeks the two men appear to
have been in daily communication; Charles Wesley taught Boehler
English; and when Wesley was taken ill Boehler on several occasions,
both at Oxford and at James Hutton's house in London, sat up with
him during the night, prayed for his recovery, and impressed upon
him the value of faith and prayer. The faith of Boehler was
amazing. As soon as he had prayed for Wesley's recovery, he turned
to the sufferer and calmly said, "You will not die now." The
patient felt he could not endure the pain much longer.

"Do you hope to be saved?" said Boehler.


"For what reason do you hope it?"

"Because I have used my best endeavours to serve God."

Boehler shook his head, and said no more. As soon as Charles was
restored to health, he passed through the same experience as his
brother John; and gladly ascribed both recovery and conversion to
the faith and prayer of Boehler.

But this was not the end of Boehler's influence. As soon as he was
able to speak English intelligibly, he began to give addresses on
saving faith to the good folk who met at James Hutton's house; and
before long he changed the whole character of the Society. It had
been a society of seekers; it became a society of believers. It had
been a group of High Churchmen; it became a group of Evangelicals.
It had been a free-and-easy gathering; it became a society with
definite regulations. For two years the Society was nothing less
than the headquarters of the growing evangelical revival; and the
rules drawn up by Peter Boehler (May 1st, 1738), just before he left
for America, were the means of making it a vital power. In these
rules the members were introducing, though they knew it not, a new
principle into English Church life. It was the principle of
democratic government. The Society was now a self-governing body;
and all the members, lay and clerical, stood upon the same footing.
They met once a week to confess their faults to each other and to
pray for each other; they divided the Society into "bands," with a
leader at the head of each; and they laid down the definite rule
that "every one, without distinction, submit to the determination of
his Brethren."111 The Society increased; the room at Hutton's house
became too small; and Hutton therefore hired first a large room, and
then a Baptist Hall, known as the Great Meeting House, in Fetter

>From this time the Society was known as the Fetter Lane Society, and
the leading spirits were James Hutton and Charles Wesley. For a
while the hall was the home of happiness and peace. As the months
rolled on, various Moravians paid passing calls on their way to
America; and Hutton, the Wesleys, Delamotte and others became still
more impressed with the Brethren's teaching. Charles Wesley was
delighted. As he walked across the fields from his house at
Islington to the Sunday evening love-feast in Fetter Lane, he would
sing for very joy. John Wesley was equally charmed. He had visited
the Brethren at Marienborn and Herrnhut (August, 1738). He had
listened with delight to the preaching of Christian David. He had
had long chats about spiritual matters with Martin Linner, the Chief
Elder, with David Nitschmann, with Albin Feder, with Augustin
Neisser, with Wenzel Neisser, with Hans Neisser, with David
Schneider, and with Arvid Gradin, the historian; he felt he would
like to spend his life at Herrnhut; and in his Journal he wrote the
words, "Oh, when shall this Christianity cover the earth as the
waters cover the sea." At a Watch-Night service in Fetter Lane
(Dec. 31st, 1738) the fervour reached its height. At that service
both the Wesleys, George Whitefield, Benjamin Ingham, Kinchin and
other Oxford Methodists were present, and the meeting lasted till
the small hours of the morning. "About three in the morning," says
John Wesley, "as we were continuing instant in prayer, the power of
God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for
exceeding joy, and many fell to the ground."

And yet all the while there was a worm within the bud. John Wesley
soon found serious faults in the Brethren. As he journeyed to
Herrnhut, he had called at Marienborn, and there they had given him
what seemed to him an unnecessary snub. For some reason which has
never been fully explained, they refused to admit him to the Holy
Communion; and the only reason they gave him was that he was a "homo
perturbatus," i.e., a restless man.113 For the life of him Wesley
could not understand why a "restless man" of good Christian
character should not kneel at the Lord's Table with the Brethren;
and to make the insult more stinging still, they actually admitted
his companion, Benjamin Ingham. But the real trouble lay at Fetter
Lane. It is easy to put our finger on the cause. As long as people
hold true to the faith and practice of their fathers they find it
easy to live at peace with each other; but as soon as they begin to
think for themselves they are sure to differ sooner or later. And
that was exactly what happened at Fetter Lane. The members came from
various stations in life. Some, like the Wesleys, were university
men; some, like Hutton, were middle-class tradesmen, of moderate
education; some, like Bray, the brazier, were artizans; and all
stood on the same footing, and discussed theology with the zeal of
novices and the confidence of experts. John Wesley found himself in
a strange country. He had been brought up in the realm of
authority; he found himself in the realm of free discussion. Some
said that saying faith was one thing, and some said that it was
another. Some said that a man could receive the forgiveness of his
sins without knowing it, and some argued that if a man had any
doubts he was not a true Christian at all. As Wesley listened to
these discussions he grew impatient and disgusted. The whole tone
of the Society was distasteful to his mind. If ever a man was born
to rule it was Wesley; and here, at Fetter Lane, instead of being
captain, he was merely one of the crew, and could not even undertake
a journey without the consent of the Society. The fetters were
beginning to gall.

At this point there arrived from Germany a strange young man on his
way to America, who soon added fuel to the fire {Oct. 18th, 1739.}.
His name was Philip Henry Molther. He was only twenty-five years
old; he had belonged to the Brethren's Church about a year; he had
spent some months as tutor in Zinzendorf's family; he had picked up
only the weak side of the Brethren's teaching; and now, with all the
zeal of youth, he set forth his views in extravagant language, which
soon filled Wesley with horror. His power in the Society was
immense, and four times a week, in broken English, he preached to
growing crowds. At first he was utterly shocked by what he saw.
"The first time I entered the meeting," he says, "I was alarmed and
almost terror-stricken at hearing their sighing and groaning, their
whining and howling, which strange proceeding they call the
demonstration of the Spirit and of power." For these follies
Molther had a cure of his own. He called it "stillness." As long
as men were sinners, he said, they were not to try to obtain saving
faith by any efforts of their own. They were not to go to church.
They were not to communicate. They were not to fast. They were
not to use so much private prayer. They were not to read the
Scriptures. They were not to do either temporal or spiritual good.
Instead of seeking Christ in these ways, said Molther, the sinner
should rather sit still and wait for Christ to give him the Divine
revelation. If this doctrine had no other merit it had at least the
charm of novelty. The dispute at Fetter Lane grew keener than ever.
On the one hand Hutton, James Bell, John Bray, and other
simple-minded men regarded Molther as a preacher of the pure Gospel.
He had, said Hutton, drawn men away from many a false foundation,
and had led them to the only true foundation, Christ. "No soul,"
said another, "can be washed in the blood of Christ unless it first
be brought to one in whom Christ is fully formed. But there are
only two such men in London, Bell and Molther." John Bray, the
brazier, went further.

"It is impossible," he said, "for anyone to be a true Christian
outside the Moravian Church."

As the man was outside that Church himself, and remained outside it
all his life, his statement is rather bewildering.114

John Wesley was disgusted. He regarded Molther as a teacher of
dangerous errors. The two men were poles asunder. The one was a
quietist evangelical; the other a staunch High Churchman. According
to Molther the correct order was, through Christ to the ordinances
of the Church; according to Wesley, through the ordinances to
Christ. According to Molther, a man ought to be a believer in
Christ before he reads the Bible, or attends Communion, or even does
good works; according to Wesley, a man should read his Bible, go to
Communion, and do good works in order to become a believer.
According to Molther the Sacrament was a privilege, meant for
believers only; according to Wesley it was a duty, and a means of
grace for all men. According to Molther, the only means of grace
was Christ; according to Wesley, there were many means of grace, all
leading the soul to Christ. According to Molther there were no
degrees in faith; according to Wesley there were. No longer was the
Fetter Lane Society a calm abode of peace. Instead of trying to
help each other the members would sometimes sit for an hour without
speaking a word; and sometimes they only reported themselves without
having a proper meeting at all. John Wesley spoke his mind. He
declared that Satan was beginning to rule in the Society. He heard
that Molther was taken ill, and regarded the illness as a judgment
from heaven. At last the wranglings came to an open rupture. At an
evening meeting in Fetter Lane {July 16th, 1740.}, John Wesley,
resolved to clear the air, read out from a book supposed to be
prized by the Brethren the following astounding doctrine: "The
Scriptures are good; prayer is good; communicating is good;
relieving our neighbour is good; but to one who is not born of God,
none of these is good, but all very evil. For him to read the
Scriptures, or to pray, or to communicate, or to do any outward work
is deadly poison. First, let him be born of God. Till then, let him
not do any of these things. For if he does, he destroys himself."

He read the passage aloud two or three times. "My brethren," he
asked, "is this right, or is this wrong?"

"It is right," said Richard Bell, the watchcase maker, "it is all
right. It is the truth. To this we must all come, or we never can
come to Christ."

"I believe," broke in Bray, the brazier, "our brother Bell did not
hear what you read, or did not rightly understand."

"Yes! I heard every word," said Bell, "and I understand it well. I
say it is the truth; it is the very truth; it is the inward truth."

"I used the ordinances twenty years," said George Bowers, the
Dissenter, of George Yard, Little Britain, "yet I found not Christ.
But I left them off for only a few weeks and I found Him then. And
I am now as close united to Him as my arm is to my body."

The dispute was coming to a crisis. The discussion lasted till
eleven o'clock. Some said that Wesley might preach in Fetter Lane.

"No," said others, "this place is taken for the Germans."

Some argued that Wesley had often put an end to confusions in the

"Confusion!" snapped others, "What do you mean? We never were in
any confusion at all."

Next Sunday evening Wesley appeared again {July 20th, 1740.}. He
was resolved what to do.

"I find you," he said, "more and more confirmed in the error of your
ways. Nothing now remains but that I should give you up to God. You
that are of the same opinion follow me."

As some wicked joker had hidden his hat, he was not able to leave
the room with the dignity befitting the occasion; but eighteen
supporters answered to his call; and the face of John Wesley was
seen in the Fetter Lane Society no more. The breach was final; the
wound remained open; and Moravians and Methodists went their several
ways. For some years the dispute continued to rage with unabated
fury. The causes were various. The damage done by Molther was
immense. The more Wesley studied the writings of the Brethren the
more convinced he became that in many ways they were dangerous
teachers. They thought, he said, too highly of their own Church.
They would never acknowledge themselves to be in the wrong. They
submitted too much to the authority of Zinzendorf, and actually
addressed him as Rabbi. They were dark and secret in their
behaviour, and practised guile and dissimulation. They taught the
doctrine of universal salvation. Above all, however, John Wesley
held that the Brethren, like Molther, laid a one-sided stress on the
doctrine of justification by faith alone. They were, he contended,
Antinomians; they followed too closely the teaching of Luther; they
despised the law, the commandments, good works, and all forms of

"You have lost your first joy," said one, "therefore you pray: that
is the devil. You read the Bible: that is the devil. You
communicate: that is the devil."

In vain Count Zinzendorf, longing for peace, endeavoured to pour oil
on the raging waters. The two leaders met in Gray's Inn Gardens and
made an attempt to come to a common understanding {Sept. 3rd,
1741.}. The attempt was useless. The more keenly they argued the
question out the further they drifted from each other. For
Zinzendorf Wesley had never much respect, and he certainly never
managed to understand him. If a poet and a botanist talk about
roses they are hardly likely to understand each other; and that was
just how the matter stood between Zinzendorf and Wesley. The Count
was a poet, and used poetic, language. John Wesley was a
level-headed Briton, with a mind as exact as a calculating machine.

"Why have you left the Church of England?"115 began the Count.

"I was not aware that I had left the Church of England," replied

And then the two men began to discuss theology.

"I acknowledge no inherent perfection in this life," said the Count.
"This is the error of errors. I pursue it through the world with
fire and sword. I trample it under foot. I exterminate it. Christ
is our only perfection. Whoever follows after inherent perfection
denies Christ."

"But I believe," replied Wesley, "that the Spirit of Christ works
perfection in true Christians."

"Not at all," replied Zinzendorf, "All our perfection is in Christ.
The whole of Christian perfection is imputed, not inherent. We are
perfect in Christ--in ourselves, never."

"What," asked Wesley, in blank amazement, after Zinzendorf had
hammered out his point. "Does not a believer, while he increases in
love, increase equally in holiness?"

"By no means," said the Count; "the moment he is justified he is
sanctified wholly. From that time, even unto death, he is neither
more nor less holy. A babe in Christ is as pure in heart as a
father in Christ. There is no difference."

At the close of the discussion the Count spoke a sentence which
seemed to Wesley as bad as the teaching of Molther.

"We spurn all self-denial," he said, "we trample it under foot.
Being believers, we do whatever we will and nothing more. We
ridicule all mortification. No purification precedes perfect love."

And thus the Count, by extravagant language, drove Wesley further
away from the Brethren than ever.

Meanwhile, at Fetter Lane events were moving fast. As soon as
Wesley was out of the way, James Hutton came to the front; a good
many Moravians--Bishop Nitschmann, Anna Nitschmann, John Toeltschig,
Gussenbauer, and others--began to arrive on the scene; and step by
step the Society became more Moravian in character. For this Hutton
himself was chiefly responsible. He maintained a correspondence
with Zinzendorf, and was the first to introduce Moravian literature
to English readers. He published a collection of Moravian hymns, a
Moravian Manual of Doctrine, and a volume in English of Zinzendorf's
Berlin discourses. He was fond of the Moravian type of teaching,
and asked for Moravian teachers. His wish was speedily gratified.
The foolish Molther departed. The sober Spangenberg arrived. The
whole movement now was raised to a higher level. As soon as
Spangenberg had hold of the reins the members, instead of
quarrelling with each other, began to apply themselves to the spread
of the Gospel; and to this end they now established the "Society for
the Furtherance of the Gospel." Its object was the support of
foreign missions {1741.}. At its head was a committee of four, of
whom James Hutton was one. For many years the "Society" supported
the foreign work of the Brethren in English colonies; and in later
years it supplied the funds for the work in Labrador. The next step
was to license the Chapel in Fetter Lane. The need was pressing. As
long as the members met without a licence they might be accused, at
any time, of breaking the Conventicle Act. They wished now to have
the law on their side. Already the windows had been broken by a
mob. The services now were open to the public. The chapel was
becoming an evangelistic hall. The licence was taken (Sept.). The
members took upon themselves the name "Moravian Brethren, formerly
of the Anglican Communion." But the members at Fetter Lane were not
yet satisfied. For all their loyalty to the Church of England, they
longed for closer communion with the Church of the Brethren; and
William Holland openly asked the question, "Can a man join the
Moravian Church and yet remain a member of the Anglican Church?"

"Yes," was the answer, "for they are sister Churches."

For this reason, therefore, and without any desire to become
Dissenters, a number of the members of the Fetter Lane Society
applied to Spangenberg to establish a congregation of the Moravian
Church in England. The cautious Spangenberg paused. For the fourth
time a momentous question was put to the decision of the Lot. The
Lot sanctioned the move. The London congregation was established
(November 10th, 1742). It consisted of seventy-two members of the
Fetter Lane Society. Of those members the greater number were
Anglicans, and considered themselves Anglicans still. And yet they
were Brethren in the fullest sense and at least half of them took
office. The congregation was organized on the Herrnhut model. It
was divided into "Choirs." At the head of each choir was an Elder;
and further there were two Congregation Elders, two Wardens, two
Admonitors, two Censors, five Servants, and eight Sick-Waiters.
Thus was the first Moravian congregation established in England.
For many years this Church in Fetter Lane was the headquarters of
Moravian work in Great Britain. Already a new campaign had been
started in Yorkshire; and a few years later Boehler declared that
this one congregation alone had sent out two hundred preachers of
the Gospel.116



As we follow the strange and eventful story of the renewal of the
Brethren's Church, we can hardly fail to be struck by the fact that
wherever new congregations were planted the way was first prepared
by a man who did not originally belong to that Church himself. At
Herrnhut the leader was the Lutheran, Christian David; at Fetter
Lane, James Hutton, the Anglican clergyman's son; and in Yorkshire,
the clergyman, Benjamin Ingham, who never joined the Moravian Church
at all. He had, like the Wesleys and Whitefield, taken part in the
Evangelical Revival. He was one of the Oxford Methodists, and had
belonged to the Holy Club. He had sailed with John Wesley on his
voyage to America, had met the Brethren on board the Simmonds, and
had learned to know them more thoroughly in Georgia. He had been
with John Wesley to Marienborn, had been admitted to the Communion
there, had then travelled on to Herrnhut, and had been "exceedingly
strengthened and comforted by the Christian conversation of the
Brethren." He had often been at James Hutton's house, had attended
services in Fetter Lane, was present at the famous Watch-Night
Love-feast, and had thus learned to know the Brethren as thoroughly
as Wesley himself. From first to last he held them in high esteem.
"They are," he wrote, "more like the Primitive Christians than any
other Church now in the world, for they retain both the faith,
practice and discipline delivered by the Apostles. They live
together in perfect love and peace. They are more ready to serve
their neighbours than themselves. In their business they are
diligent and industrious, in all their dealings strictly just and
conscientious. In everything they behave themselves with great
meekness, sweetness and simplicity."

His good opinion stood the test of time. He contradicted Wesley's
evidence flatly. "I cannot but observe," he wrote to his friend
Jacob Rogers, curate at St. Paul's, Bedford, "what a slur you cast
upon the Moravians about stillness. Do you think, my brother, that
they don't pray? I wish you prayed as much, and as well. They do
not neglect prayers, either in public or in private; but they do not
perform them merely as things that must be done; they are inwardly
moved to pray by the Spirit. What they have said about stillness
has either been strangely misunderstood or strangely misrepresented.
They mean by it that we should endeavour to keep our minds calm,
composed and collected, free from hurry and dissipation. And is not
this right? They are neither despisers nor neglecters of

The position of Ingham was peculiar. He was a clergyman without a
charge; he resided at Aberford, in Yorkshire; he appears to have
been a man of considerable means; and now he devoted all his powers
to the moral and spiritual upliftment of the working-classes in the
West Riding of Yorkshire. His sphere was the district between Leeds
and Halifax. For ignorance and brutality these Yorkshire people
were then supposed to be unmatched in England. The parish churches
were few and far between. The people were sunk in heathen darkness.
Young Ingham began pure missionary work. He visited the people in
their homes; he formed societies for Bible Reading and Prayer; he
preached the doctrine of saving faith in Christ; and before long he
was able to say that he had fifty societies under his care, two
thousand hearers, three hundred inquirers, and a hundred genuine
converts. For numbers, however, Ingham cared but little. His
object was to bring men into personal touch with Christ. "I had
rather," he said, "see ten souls truly converted than ten thousand
only stirred up to follow." His work was opposed both by clergy and
by laymen. At Colne, in Lancashire, he was attacked by a raging
mob. At the head of the mob was the Vicar of Colne himself. The
Vicar took Ingham into a house and asked him to sign a paper
promising not to preach again. Ingham tore the paper in pieces.

"Bring him out and we'll make him," yelled the mob.

The Vicar went out; the mob pressed in; and clubs were flourished in
the air "as thick as a man's leg."

Some wanted to kill him on the spot; others wished to throw him into
the river.

"Nay, nay," said others, "we will heave him into the bog, then he
will be glad to go into the river and wash and sweeten himself."

A stone "as big as a man's fist," hit him in the hollow of the neck.
His coat-tails were bespattered with mud.

"See," said a wit, "he has got wings." At last the Vicar relented,
took him into the Vicarage, and thus saved him from an early death.

But Ingham had soon more irons in the fire than he could
conveniently manage. If these Yorkshire folk whom he had formed
into societies were to make true progress in the spiritual life they
must, he held, be placed under the care of evangelical teachers. He
could not look after them himself; he was beginning new work further
north, in the neighbourhood of Settle; and the best men he knew for
his purpose were the Moravians whom he had learned to admire in
Georgia, London and Herrnhut. For one Brother, John Toeltschig,
Ingham had a special affection, and while he was on his visit to
Herrnhut he begged that Toeltschig might be allowed to come with him
to England. "B. Ingham," he wrote, "sends greeting, and bids grace
and peace to the most Reverend Bishops, Lord Count Zinzendorf and
David Nitschmann, and to the other esteemed Brethren in Christ. I
shall be greatly pleased if, with your consent, my beloved brother,
John Toeltschig, be permitted to stay with me in England as long as
our Lord and Saviour shall so approve. I am heartily united with
you all in the bonds of love. Farewell. Herrnhut, Sept. 29,
1738."117 For our purpose this letter is surely of the deepest
interest. It proves beyond all reasonable doubt that the Moravians
started their evangelistic campaign in England, not from sectarian
motives, but because they were invited by English Churchmen who
valued the Gospel message they had to deliver. As Hutton had begged
for Boehler, so Ingham begged for Toeltschig; and Toeltschig paid a
brief visit to Yorkshire (November, 1739), helped Ingham in his
work, and so delighted the simple people that they begged that he
might come to them again. For a while the request was refused. At
last Ingham took resolute action himself, called a mass meeting of
Society members, and put to them the critical question: "Will you
have the Moravians to work among you?" Loud shouts of approval rang
out from every part of the building. As Spangenberg was now in
London the request was forwarded to him; he laid it before the
Fetter Lane Society; the members organized the "Yorkshire
Congregation"; and the "Yorkshire Congregation" set out to commence
evangelistic work in earnest {May 26th, 1742.}. At the head of the
band was Spangenberg himself. As soon as he arrived in Yorkshire he
had a business interview with Ingham. For Spangenberg shouts of
approval were not enough. He wanted everything down in black and
white. A document was prepared; the Societies were summoned again;
the document was laid before them; and twelve hundred Yorkshire
Britons signed their names to a request that the Brethren should
work among them. From that moment Moravian work in Yorkshire began.
At one stroke--by a written agreement--the Societies founded by
Benjamin Ingham were handed over to the care of the Moravian Church.
The Brethren entered upon the task with zeal. For some months,
with Spangenberg as general manager, they made their head-quarters
at Smith House, a farm building near Halifax {July, 1742.}; and
there, on Saturday afternoons, they met for united prayer, and had
their meals together in one large room. At first they had a mixed
reception. On the one hand a mob smashed the windows of Smith
House; on the other, the serious Society members "flocked to Smith
House like hungry bees." The whole neighbourhood was soon mapped
out, and the workers stationed at their posts. At Pudsey were
Gussenbauer and his wife; at Great Horton, near Bradford, Toeltschig
and Piesch; at Holbeck, near Leeds, the Browns; and other workers
were busy soon at Lightcliffe, Wyke, Halifax, Mirfield, Hightown,
Dewsbury, Wakefield, Leeds, Wortley, Farnley, Cleckheaton, Great
Gomersal, and Baildon. The Moravian system of discipline was
introduced. At the head of the men were John Toeltschig and Richard
Viney; at the head of the women Mrs. Pietch and Mrs. Gussenbauer;
and Monitors, Servants, and Sick Waiters were appointed just as in
Herrnhut. Here was a glorious field of labour; here was a chance of
Church extension; and the interesting question was, what use the
Brethren would make of it.

At this point Count Zinzendorf arrived in Yorkshire {Feb., 1743.},
went to see Ingham at Aberford, and soon organized the work in a way
of his own which effectually prevented it from spreading. His
method was centralization. At that time he held firmly to his pet
idea that the Brethren, instead of forming new congregations, should
rather be content with "diaspora" work, and at the same time,
whenever possible, build a settlement on the Herrnhut or Herrnhaag
model, for the cultivation of social religious life. At this time
it so happened that the Gussenbauers, stationed at Pudsey, were in
trouble; their child was seriously ill; the Count rode over to see
them; and while there he noticed the splendid site on which Fulneck
stands to-day. If the visitor goes to Fulneck now he can hardly
fail to be struck by its beauty. He is sure to admire its long
gravel terrace, its neat parterres, its orchards and gardens, and,
above all, its long line of plain stately buildings facing the
southern sun. But then the slope was wild and unkempt, covered over
with briars and brambles. Along the crown were a few small
cottages. At one end, called Bankhouse, resided the Gussenbauers.
>From there the view across the valley was splendid. The estate was
known as Falneck. The idea of a settlement rose before Zinzendorf's
mind. The spirit of prophecy came upon him, and he named the place
"Lamb's Hill." For the next few days the Count and his friends
enjoyed the hospitality of Ingham at Aberford; and a few months
later Ingham heard that the land and houses at Falneck were on the
market. He showed himself a true friend of the Brethren. He bought
the estate, gave them part of it for building, let out the cottages
to them as tenants, and thus paved the way for the introduction of
the Moravian settlement system into England.

For good or for evil that settlement system was soon the leading
feature of the English work. The building of Fulneck began. First
the Brethren called the place Lamb's Hill, then Gracehall, and then
Fulneck, in memory of Fulneck in Moravia. From friends in Germany
they received gifts in money, from friends in Norway a load of
timber. The Single Brethren were all aglow with zeal; and on one
occasion they spent the whole night in saying prayers and singing
hymns upon the chosen sites. First rose the Chapel (1746), then the
Minister's House and the rooms beneath and just to the east of the
Chapel (1748), then the Brethren's and Sisters' Houses (1752), then
the Widows' House (1763), then the Shop and Inn (1771), then the
Cupola (1779), and then the Boys' Boarding School (1784-5). Thus,
step by step, the long line of buildings arose, a sight unlike any
other in the United Kingdom.

As the Brethren settled down in that rough Yorkshire country, they
had a noble purpose, which was a rebuke to the godless and cynical
spirit of the age. "Is a Christian republic possible?" asked the
French philosopher, Bayle. According to the world it was not;
according to the Brethren it was; and here at Fulneck they bravely
resolved to put the matter to the proof. As long as that settlement
existed, said they, there would be a kingdom where the law of Christ
would reign supreme, where Single Brethren, Single Sisters, and
Widows, would be screened from the temptations of the wicked world,
where candidates would be trained for the service of the Church and
her Master, where missionaries, on their way to British Colonies,
could rest awhile, and learn the English language, where children,
in an age when schools were scarce, could be brought up in the fear
of God, and where trade would be conducted, not for private profit,
but for the benefit of all. At Fulneck, in a word, the principles
of Christ would be applied to the whole round of Moravian life.
There dishonesty would be unknown; cruel oppression would be
impossible; doubtful amusements would be forbidden; and thus, like
their German Brethren in Herrnhut, these keen and hardy Yorkshire
folk were to learn by practical experience that it is more blessed
to give than to receive, and more delightful to work for a common
cause than for a private balance at the bank.

For this purpose the Brethren established what were then known as
diaconies; and a diacony was simply an ordinary business conducted,
not by a private individual for his own personal profit, but by some
official of the congregation for the benefit of the congregation as
a whole. For example, James Charlesworth, a Single Brother, was
appointed manager of a cloth-weaving factory, which for some years
did a splendid trade with Portugal and Russia, kept the Single
Brethren in regular employment, and supplied funds for general
Church objects. As the years rolled on, the Brethren established a
whole series of congregation-diaconies: a congregation general
dealer's shop, a congregation farm, a congregation bakery, a
congregation glove factory, and, finally, a congregation
boarding-house or inn. At each diacony the manager and his
assistants received a fixed salary, and the profits of the business
helped to swell the congregation funds. The ideal was as noble as
possible. At Fulneck daily labour was sanctified, and men toiled in
the sweat of their brows, not because they wanted to line their
pockets, but because they wanted to help the cause of Christ. For
the sake of the Church the baker kneaded, the weaver plied his
shuttle, the Single Sisters did needlework of marvellous beauty and
manufactured their famous marble-paper. For many years, too, these
Brethren at Fulneck employed a congregation doctor; and the object
of this gentleman's existence was not to build up a flourishing
practice, but to preserve the good health of his beloved Brethren
and Sisters.

We must not, however, regard the Brethren as communists. James
Hutton was questioned on this by the Earl of Shelburne.

"Does everything which is earned among you," said the Earl, "belong
to the community?"

"No," replied Hutton, "but people contribute occasionally out of


Back to Full Books