History of the Moravian Church
J. E. Hutton

Part 6 out of 9

what they earn."

And yet this system, so beautiful to look at, was beset by serious
dangers. It required more skill than the Brethren possessed, and
more supervision than was humanly possible. As long as a business
flourished and paid the congregation reaped the benefit; but if, on
the other hand, the business failed, the congregation suffered, not
only in money, but in reputation. At one time James Charlesworth,
in an excess of zeal, mortgaged the manufacturing business,
speculated with the money, and lost it; and thus caused others to
accuse the Brethren of wholesale robbery and fraud. Again, the
system was opposed in a measure to the English spirit of self-help
and independence. As long as a man was engaged in a diacony, he was
in the service of the Church; he did not receive a sufficient salary
to enable him to provide for old age; he looked to the Church to
provide his pension and to take care of him when he was ill; and
thus he lost that self-reliance which is said to be the backbone of
English character. But the most disastrous effect of these
diaconies was on the settlement as a whole. They interfered with
voluntary giving; they came to be regarded as Church endowments; and
the people, instead of opening their purses, relied on the diaconies
to supply a large proportion of the funds for the current expenses
of congregation life. And here we cannot help but notice the
difference between the Moravian diacony system and the well-known
system of free-will offerings enforced by John Wesley in his
Methodist societies. At first sight, the Moravian system might look
more Christian; at bottom, Wesley's system proved the sounder; and
thus, while Methodism spread, the Moravian river was choked at the
fountain head.

Another feature of settlement life was its tendency to encourage
isolation. For many years the rule was enforced at Fulneck that
none but Moravians should be allowed to live in that sacred spot;
and the laws were so strict that the wonder is that Britons
submitted at all. For example, there was actually a rule that no
member should spend a night outside the settlement without the
consent of the Elders' Conference. If this rule had been confined
to young men and maidens, there would not have been very much to say
against it; but when it was enforced on business men, who might
often want to travel at a moment's notice, it became an absurdity,
and occasioned some vehement kicking against the pricks. The
Choir-houses, too, were homes of the strictest discipline. At the
west end stood the Single Brethren's House, where the young men
lived together. They all slept in one large dormitory; they all
rose at the same hour, and met for prayers before breakfast; they
were all expected to attend certain services, designed for their
special benefit; and they had all to turn in at a comparatively
early hour. At the east end--two hundred yards away--stood the
Single Sisters' House; and there similar rules were in full force.
For all Sisters there were dress regulations, which many must have
felt as a grievous burden. At Fulneck there was nothing in the
ladies' dress to show who was rich and who was poor. They all wore
the same kind of material; they had all to submit to black, grey, or
brown; they all wore the same kind of three-cornered white shawl;
and the only dress distinction was the ribbon in the cap, which
showed to which estate in life the wearer belonged. For married
women the colour was blue; for widows, white; for young women, pink;
and for girls under eighteen, red. At the services in church the
audience sat in Choirs, the women and girls on one side, the men and
boys on the other. The relations between the sexes were strictly
guarded. If a young man desired to marry, he was not even allowed
to speak to his choice without the consent of the Elders'
Conference; the Conference generally submitted the question to the
Lot; and if the Lot gave a stern refusal, he was told that his
choice was disapproved by God, and enjoined to fix his affections on
someone else. The system had a twofold effect. It led, on the one
hand, to purity and peace; on the other, to spiritual pride.

Another feature of this settlement life was the presence of
officials. At Fulneck the number of Church officials was enormous.
The place of honour was held by the Elders' Conference. It
consisted of all the ministers of the Yorkshire District, the
Fulneck Single Brethren's Labourer, the Single Sisters' Labouress,
and the Widows' Labouress. It met at Fulneck once a month, had the
general oversight of the Yorkshire work, and was supposed to watch
the personal conduct of every individual member. Next came the
Choir Elders' Conference. It consisted of a number of lay
assistants, called Choir Helpers, had no independent powers of
action, and acted as advisory board to the Elders' Conference. Next
came the Congregation Committee. It was elected by the voting
members of the congregation, had charge of the premises and
finances, and acted as a board of arbitration in cases of legal
dispute. Next came the Large Helpers' Conference. It consisted of
the Committee, the Elders' Conference, and certain others elected by
the congregation. Next came the Congregation Council, a still
larger body elected by the Congregation. At first sight these
institutions look democratic enough. In reality, they were not
democratic at all. The mode of election was peculiar. As soon as
the votes had been collected the names of those at the top of the
poll were submitted to the Lot; and only those confirmed by the Lot
were held to be duly elected. The real power lay in the hands of
the Elders' Conference. They were the supreme court of appeal; they
were members, by virtue of their office, of the Committee; and they
alone had the final decision as to who should be received as members
and who should not. The whole system was German rather than English
in conception. It was the system, not of popular control, but of
ecclesiastical official authority.

But the most striking feature of the settlement system is still to
be mentioned. It was the road, not to Church extension, but to
Church extinction. If the chief object which the Brethren set
before them was to keep that Church as small as possible, they could
hardly have adopted a more successful method. We may express that
method in the one word "centralization." For years the centre of
the Yorkshire work was Fulneck. At Fulneck met the Elders'
Conference. At Fulneck all Choir Festivals were held; at these
Festivals the members from the other congregations were expected to
be present; and when John de Watteville arrived upon the scene
(1754) he laid down the regulation that although in future there
were to be "as many congregations as chapels in Yorkshire," yet all
were still to be one body, and all members must appear at Fulneck at
least once a quarter! At Fulneck alone--in these earlier years--did
the Brethren lay out a cemetery; and in that cemetery all funerals
were to be conducted. The result was inevitable. As long as the
other congregations were tied to the apron strings of Fulneck they
could never attain to independent growth. I give one instance to
show how the system worked. At Mirfield a young Moravian couple
lost a child by death. As the season was winter, and the snow lay
two feet deep, they could not possibly convey the coffin to Fulneck;
and therefore they had the funeral conducted by the Vicar at
Mirfield. For this sin they were both expelled from the Moravian
Church. At heart, in fact, these early Brethren had no desire for
Moravian Church extension whatever. They never asked anyone to
attend their meetings, and never asked anyone to join their ranks.
If any person expressed a desire to become a member of the Moravian
Church, he was generally told in the first instance "to abide in the
Church of England"; and only when he persisted and begged was his
application even considered. And even then they threw obstacles in
his way. They first submitted his application to the Lot. If the
Lot said "No," he was rejected, and informed that the Lord did not
wish him to join the Brethren's Church. If the Lot said "Yes," he
had still a deep river to cross. The "Yes" did not mean that he was
admitted; it only meant that his case would be considered. He was
now presented with a document called a "testimonial," informing him
that his application was receiving attention. He had then to wait
two years; his name was submitted to the Elders' Conference; the
Conference inquired into all his motives, and put him through a
searching examination; and at the end of the two years he was as
likely to be rejected as accepted. For these rules the Brethren had
one powerful reason of their own. They had no desire to steal sheep
from the Church of England. At the very outset of their campaign
they did their best to make their position clear. "We wish for
nothing more," they declared, in a public notice in the Daily
Advertiser, August 2nd, 1745, "than that some time or other there
might be some bishop or parish minister found of the English Church,
to whom, with convenience and to the good liking of all sides, we
could deliver the care of those persons of the English Church who
have given themselves to our care."

Thus did the Brethren, with Fulneck as a centre, commence their work
in Yorkshire. At three other villages--Wyke, Gomersal, and
Mirfield--they established so-called "country congregations" with
chapel and minister's house. The work caused a great sensation. At
one time a mob came out from Leeds threatening to burn Fulneck to
the ground. At another time a neighbouring landlord sent his men to
destroy all the linen hung out to dry. At the first Easter Morning
Service in Fulneck four thousand spectators assembled to witness the
solemn service. And the result of the Brethren's labours was that
while their own numbers were always small they contributed richly to
the revival of evangelical piety in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

In the Midlands the system had just the same results. At the
village of Ockbrook, five miles from Derby, the Brethren built
another beautiful settlement. For some years, with Ockbrook as a
centre, they had a clear field for work in the surrounding district;
they had preaching places at Eaton, Belper, Codnor, Matlock,
Wolverhampton, Sheffield, Dale, and other towns and villages; and
yet not a single one of these places ever developed into a

In Bedfordshire the result was equally fatal. At first the Brethren
had a golden chance in Bedford. There, in 1738, there was a
terrible epidemic of small-pox; in one week sixty or seventy persons
died; nearly all the clergy had fled from the town in terror; and
then Jacob Rogers, the curate of St. Paul's, sent for Ingham and
Delamotte to come to the rescue. The two clergymen came; some
Moravians followed; a Moravian congregation at Bedford was
organized; and before long the Brethren had twenty societies round
Bunyan's charming home. And yet not one of these societies became a
new congregation. As Fulneck was the centre for Yorkshire, so
Bedford was the centre for Bedfordshire; and the system that checked
expansion in the North strangled it at its birth in the South.



Once more an Anglican paved the way for the Brethren. At the
terrible period of the Day of Blood one Brother, named Cennick, fled
from Bohemia to England; and now, about a hundred years later, his
descendant, John Cennick, was to play a great part in the revival of
the Brethren's Church. For all that, John Cennick, in the days of
his youth, does not appear to have known very much about his
ecclesiastical descent. He was born (1718) and brought up at
Reading, and was nursed from first to last in the Anglican fold. He
was baptized at St. Lawrence Church; attended service twice a day
with his mother; was confirmed and took the Communion; and, finally,
at a service in the Church, while the psalms were being read, he
passed through that critical experience in life to which we commonly
give the name "conversion." For us, therefore, the point to notice
is that John Cennick was truly converted to God, and was fully
assured of his own salvation before he had met either Moravians or
Methodists, and before he even knew, in all probability, that such
people as the Moravians existed. We must not ascribe his conversion
to Moravian influence. If we seek for human influence at all let us
give the honour to his mother; but the real truth appears to be that
what John Wesley learned from Boehler, John Cennick learned by
direct communion with God. His spiritual experience was as deep and
true as Wesley's. He had been, like Wesley, in the castle of Giant
Despair, and had sought, like Wesley, to attain salvation by
attending the ordinances of the Church. He had knelt in prayer nine
times a day; he had watched; he had fasted; he had given money to
the poor; he had almost gone mad in his terror of death and of the
judgment day; and, finally, without any human aid, in his pew at St.
Lawrence Church, he heard, he tells us, the voice of Jesus saying,
"I am thy salvation," and there and then his heart danced for joy
and his dying soul revived.

At that time, as far as I can discover, he had not even heard of the
Oxford Methodists; but a few months later he heard strange news of
Wesley's Oxford comrade, Charles Kinchin. The occasion was a
private card party at Reading. John Cennick was asked to take a
hand, and refused. For this he was regarded as a prig, and a young
fellow in the company remarked, "There is just such a stupid
religious fellow at Oxford, one Kinchin." Forthwith, at the
earliest opportunity, John Cennick set off on foot for Oxford, to
seek out the "stupid religious fellow"; found him sallying out of
his room to breakfast; was introduced by Kinchin to the Wesleys; ran
up to London, called at James Hutton's, and there met George
Whitefield; fell on the great preacher's neck and kissed him; and
was thus drawn into the stream of the Evangelical Revival at the
very period in English history when Wesley and Whitefield first
began preaching in the open air. He was soon a Methodist preacher
himself {1739.}. At Kingswood, near Bristol, John Wesley opened a
charity school for the children of colliers; and now he gave Cennick
the post of head master, and authorized him also to visit the sick
and to expound the Scriptures in public. The preacher's mantle soon
fell on Cennick's shoulders. At a service held under a sycamore
tree, the appointed preacher, Sammy Wather, was late; the crowd
asked Cennick to take his place; and Cennick, after consulting the
Lot, preached his first sermon in the open air. For the next
eighteen months he now acted, like Maxfield and Humphreys, as one of
Wesley's first lay assistant preachers; and as long as he was under
Wesley's influence he preached in Wesley's sensational style, with
strange sensational results. At the services the people conducted
themselves like maniacs. Some foamed at the mouth and tore
themselves in hellish agonies. Some suffered from swollen tongues
and swollen necks. Some sweated enormously, and broke out in
blasphemous language. At one service, held in the Kingswood
schoolroom, the place became a pandemonium; and Cennick himself
confessed with horror that the room was like the habitation of lost
spirits. Outside a thunderstorm was raging; inside a storm of yells
and roars. One woman declared that her name was Satan; another was
Beelzebub; and a third was Legion. And certainly they were all
behaving now like folk possessed with demons. From end to end of
the room they raced, bawling and roaring at the top of their voices.

"The devil will have me," shrieked one. "I am his servant. I am

"My sins can never be pardoned," said another. "I am gone, gone for

"That fearful thunder," moaned a third, "is raised by the devil; in
this storm he will bear me to hell."

A young man, named Sommers, roared like a dragon, and seven strong
men could hardly hold him down.

"Ten thousand devils," he roared, "millions, millions of devils are
about me."

"Bring Mr. Cennick! Bring Mr. Cennick!" was heard on every side;
and when Mr. Cennick was brought they wanted to tear him in pieces.

At this early stage in the great Revival exhibitions of this frantic
nature were fairly common in England; and John Wesley, so far from
being shocked, regarded the kicks and groans of the people as signs
that the Holy Spirit was convicting sinners of their sin. At first
Cennick himself had the same opinion; but before very long his
common sense came to his rescue. He differed with Wesley on the
point; he differed with him also on the doctrine of predestination;
he differed with him, thirdly, on the doctrine of Christian
perfection; and the upshot of the quarrel that Wesley dismissed John
Cennick from his service.

As soon, however, as Cennick was free, he joined forces, first with
Howell Harris, and then with Whitefield; and entered on that
evangelistic campaign which was soon to bring him into close touch
with the Brethren. For five years he was now engaged in preaching
in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire {1740-5.}; and wherever he went he
addressed great crowds and was attacked by furious mobs. At
Upton-Cheyny the villagers armed themselves with a horn, a drum, and
a few brass pans, made the echoes ring with their horrible din, and
knocked the preachers on the head with the pans; a genius put a cat
in a cage, and brought some dogs to bark at it; and others hit
Cennick on the nose and hurled dead dogs at his head. At
Swindon--where Cennick and Harris preached in a place called the
Grove--some rascals fired muskets over their heads, held the muzzles
close up to their faces, and made them as black as tinkers; and
others brought the local fire-engine and drenched them with dirty
water from the ditches. At Exeter a huge mob stormed the building,
stripped some of the women of their clothing, stamped upon them in
the open street, and rolled them naked in the gutters.118 At
Stratton, a village not far from Swindon, the mob--an army two miles
in length--hacked at the horses' legs, trampled the Cennickers under
their feet, and battered Cennick till his shoulders were black and
blue. At Langley the farmers ducked him in the village pond. At
Foxham, Farmer Lee opposed him; and immediately, so the story ran, a
mad dog bit all the farmer's pigs. At Broadstock Abbey an ingenious
shepherd dressed up his dog as a preacher, called it Cennick, and
speedily sickened and died; and the Squire of Broadstock, who had
sworn in his wrath to cut off the legs of all Cennickers who walked
through his fields of green peas, fell down and broke his neck. If
these vulgar incidents did not teach a lesson they would hardly be
worth recording; but the real lesson they teach us is that in those
days the people of Wiltshire were in a benighted condition, and that
Cennick was the man who led the revival there. As he rode on his
mission from village to village, and from town to town, he was
acting, not as a wild free-lance, but as the assistant of George
Whitefield; and if it is fair to judge of his style by the sermons
that have been preserved, he never said a word in those sermons that
would not pass muster in most evangelical pulpits to-day. He never
attacked the doctrines of the Church of England; he spoke of the
Church as "our Church"; and he constantly backed up his arguments by
appeals to passages in the Book of Common Prayer. In spite of his
lack of University training he was no illiterate ignoramus. The
more he knew of the Wiltshire villagers the more convinced he became
that what they required was religious education. For their benefit,
therefore, he now prepared some simple manuals of instruction: a
"Treatise on the Holy Ghost," an "Exhortation to Steadfastness," a
"Short Catechism for the Instruction of Youth," a volume of hymns
entitled "A New Hymnbook," a second entitled "Sacred Hymns for the
Children of God in the Day of their Pilgrimage," and a third
entitled "Sacred Hymns for the Use of Religious Societies." What
sort of manuals, it may be asked, did Cennick provide? I have read
them carefully; and have come to the conclusion that though Cennick
was neither a learned theologian nor an original religious thinker,
he was fairly well up in his subject. For example, in his "Short
Catechism" he shows a ready knowledge of the Bible and a clear
understanding of the evangelical position; and in his "Treatise on
the Holy Ghost" he quotes at length, not only from the Scriptures
and the Prayer-book, but also from Augustine, Athanasius,
Tertullian, Chrysostom, Calvin, Luther, Ridley, Hooper, and other
Church Fathers and Protestant Divines. He was more than a popular
preacher. He was a thorough and competent teacher. He made his
head-quarters at the village of Tytherton, near Chippenham (Oct. 25,
1742); there, along with Whitefield, Howell Harris and others, he
met his exhorters and stewards in conference; and meanwhile he
established also religious societies at Bath, Brinkworth, Foxham,
Malmesbury, and many other villages.

At last, exactly like Ingham in Yorkshire, he found that he had too
many irons in the fire, and determined to hand his societies over to
the care of the Moravian Church. He had met James Hutton,
Zinzendorf, Spangenberg, Boehler, and other Moravians in London, and
the more he knew of these men the more profoundly convinced he
became that the picture of the Brethren painted by John Wesley in
his Journal was no better than a malicious falsehood. At every
point in his evidence, which lies before me in his private diary and
letters, John Cennick, to put the matter bluntly, gives John Wesley
the lie. He denied that the Brethren practised guile; he found them
uncommonly open and sincere. He denied that they were Antinomians,
who despised good works; he found them excellent characters. He
denied that they were narrow-minded bigots, who would never
acknowledge themselves to be in the wrong; he found them remarkably
tolerant and broad-minded. At this period, in fact, he had so high
an opinion of the Brethren that he thought they alone were fitted to
reconcile Wesley and Whitefield; and on one occasion he persuaded
some Moravians, Wesleyans and Calvinists to join in a united
love-feast at Whitefield's Tabernacle, and sing a common confession
of faith {Nov. 4th, 1744.}.119 John Cennick was a man of the
Moravian type. The very qualities in the Brethren that offended
Wesley won the love of Cennick. He loved the way they spoke of
Christ; he loved their "Blood and Wounds Theology"; and when he read
the "Litany of the Wounds of Jesus," he actually, instead of being
disgusted, shed tears of joy. For these reasons, therefore, Cennick
went to London, consulted the Brethren in Fetter Lane, and besought
them to undertake the care of his Wiltshire societies. The result
was the same as in Yorkshire. As long as the request came from
Cennick alone the Brethren turned a deaf ear. But the need in
Wiltshire was increasing. The spirit of disorder was growing
rampant. At Bath and Bristol his converts were quarrelling; at
Swindon a young woman went into fits and described them as signs of
the New Birth; and a young man named Jonathan Wildboar, who had been
burned in the hand for stealing linen, paraded the country showing
his wound as a proof of his devotion to Christ. For these follies
Cennick knew only one cure; and that cure was the "apostolic
discipline" of the Brethren. He called his stewards together to a
conference at Tytherton; the stewards drew up a petition; the
Brethren yielded; some workers came down {Dec. 18th, 1745.}; and
thus, at the request of the people themselves, the Moravians began
their work in the West of England.

If the Brethren had now been desirous of Church extension, they
would, of course, have turned Cennick's societies into Moravian
congregations. But the policy they now pursued in the West was a
repetition of their suicidal policy in Yorkshire. Instead of
forming a number of independent congregations, they centralized the
work at Tytherton, and compelled the other societies to wait in
patience. At Bristol, then the second town in the kingdom, the good
people had to wait ten years (1755); at Kingswood, twelve years
(1757); at Bath, twenty years (1765); at Malmesbury, twenty-five
years (1770); at Devonport, twenty-six years (1771); and the other
societies had to wait so long that finally they lost their patience,
and died of exhaustion and neglect.

As soon as Cennick, however, had left his societies in the care of
the Brethren {1746.}, he set off on a tour to Germany, spent three
months at Herrnhaag, was received as a member, returned a Moravian,
and then entered on his great campaign in Ireland. He began in
Dublin, and took the city by storm. For a year or so some pious
people, led by Benjamin La Trobe, a Baptist student, had been in the
habit of meeting for singing and prayer; and now, with these as a
nucleus, Cennick began preaching in a Baptist Hall at Skinner's
Alley. It was John Cennick, and not John Wesley, who began the
Evangelical Revival in Ireland. He was working in Dublin for more
than a year before Wesley arrived on the scene. The city was the
hunting ground for many sects; the Bradilonians and Muggletonians
were in full force; the Unitarians exerted a widespread influence;
and the bold way in which Cennick exalted the Divinity of Christ was
welcomed like a pulse of fresh air. The first Sunday the people
were turned away in hundreds. The hall in Skinner's Alley was
crowded out. The majority of his hearers were Catholics. The
windows of the hall had to be removed, and the people were in their
places day after day three hours before the time. On Sundays the
roofs of the surrounding houses were black with the waiting throng;
every window and wall became a sitting; and Cennick himself had to
climb through a window and crawl on the heads of the people to the
pulpit. "If you make any stay in this town," wrote a Carmelite
priest, in his Irish zeal, "you will make as many conversions as St.
Francis Xavier among the wild Pagans. God preserve you!" At
Christmas Cennick forgot his manners, attacked the Church of Rome in
offensive language, and aroused the just indignation of the Catholic

"I curse and blaspheme," he said, "all the gods in heaven, but the
Babe that lay in Mary's lap, the Babe that lay in swaddling

The quick-witted Irish jumped with joy at the phrase. From that
moment Cennick was known as "Swaddling John";120 and his name was
introduced into comic songs at the music-halls. As he walked
through the streets he had now to be guarded by an escort of
friendly soldiers; and the mob, ten or fifteen thousand in number,
pelted him with dirt, stones and bricks. At one service, says the
local diary, "near 2,000 stones were thrown against Brothers Cennick
and La Trobe, of which, however, not one did hit them." Father
Duggan denounced him in a pamphlet entitled "The Lady's Letter to
Mr. Cennick"; Father Lyons assured his flock that Cennick was the
devil in human form; and others passed from hand to hand a pamphlet,
written by Gilbert Tennent, denouncing the Moravians as dangerous
and immoral teachers.

At this interesting point, when Cennick's name was on every lip,
John Wesley paid his first visit to Dublin {August, 1747.}. For
Cennick Wesley entertained a thorough contempt. He called him in
his Journal "that weak man, John Cennick"; he accused him of having
ruined the society at Kingswood; he was disgusted when he heard that
he had become a Moravian; and now he turned him out of Skinner's
Alley by the simple process of negotiating privately with the owner
of the property, and buying the building over Cennick's head. At
one stroke the cause in Skinner's Alley passed over into Methodist
hands; and the pulpit in which Cennick had preached to thousands was
now occupied by John Wesley and his assistants. From that blow the
Brethren's cause in Dublin never fully recovered. For a long time
they were unable to find another building, and had to content
themselves with meetings in private houses; but at last they hired a
smaller building in Big Booter Lane,121 near St. Patrick's
Cathedral; two German Brethren, John Toeltschig and Bryzelius, came
over to organize the work; Peter Boehler, two years later, "settled"
the congregation; and thus was established, in a modest way, that
small community of Moravians whose descendants worship there to the
present day.

Meanwhile John Cennick was ploughing another field. For some years
he was busily engaged--first as an authorized lay evangelist and
then as an ordained Moravian minister--in preaching and founding
religious societies in Cos. Antrim, Down, Derry, Armagh, Tyrone,
Cavan, Monaghan, and Donegal {1748-55.}; and his influence in Ulster
was just as great as the influence of Whitefield in England. He
opened his Ulster campaign at Ballymena. At first he was fiercely
opposed. As the rebellion of the young Pretender had been only
recently quashed, the people were rather suspicious of new comers.
The Pretender himself was supposed to be still at large, and the
orthodox Presbyterians denounced Cennick as a Covenanter, a rebel, a
spy, a rogue, a Jesuit, a plotter, a supporter of the Pretender, and
a paid agent of the Pope. Again and again he was accused of Popery;
and one Doffin, "a vagabond and wicked fellow," swore before the
Ballymena magistrates that, seven years before, he had seen Cennick
in the Isle of Man, and that there the preacher had fled from the
arm of the law. As Cennick was pronouncing the benediction at the
close of a service in the market-place at Ballymena, he was publicly
assaulted by Captain Adair, the Lord of the Manor; and the Captain,
whose blood was inflamed with whisky, struck the preacher with his
whip, attempted to run him through with his sword, and then
instructed his footman to knock him down. At another service, in a
field near Ballymena, two captains of militia had provided a band of
drummers, and the drummers drummed as only Irishmen can. The young
preacher was summoned to take the oath of allegiance and abjuration.
But Cennick, like many Moravians, objected to taking an oath. The
scene was the bar-parlour of a Ballymena hotel. There sat the
justices, Captain Adair and O'Neil of Shane's Castle; and there sat
Cennick, the meek Moravian, with a few friends to support him. The
more punch the two gentlemen put away the more pious and patriotic
they became. For the second time Adair lost his self-control. He
called Cennick a rascal, a rogue, and a Jesuit; he drank damnation
to all his principles; he asked him why he would not swear and then
get absolution from the Pope; and both gentlemen informed our hero
that if he refused to take the oath they would clap him in
Carrickfergus Gaol that very night. As Cennick, however, still held
to his point, they were compelled at last to let him out on bail;
and Cennick soon after appealed for protection to Dr. Rider, Bishop
of Down and Connor. The good Bishop was a broad-minded man.

"Mr. Cennick," he said, "you shall have fair play in my diocese."

In vain the clergy complained to the Bishop that Cennick was
emptying their pulpits. The Bishop had a stinging answer ready.

"Preach what Cennick preaches," he said, "preach Christ crucified,
and then the people will not have to go to Cennick to hear the

The good Bishop's words are instructive. At that time the Gospel
which Cennick preached was still a strange thing in Ulster; and
Cennick was welcomed as a true revival preacher. At Ballee and
Ballynahone he addressed a crowd of ten thousand. At Moneymore the
Presbyterians begged him to be their minister. At Ballynahone the
Catholics promised that if he would only pitch his tent there they
would never go to Mass again. At Lisnamara, the rector invited him
to preach in the parish church. At New Mills the people rushed out
from their cabins, barred his way, offered him milk, and besought
him, saying, "If you cannot stop to preach, at least come into our
houses to pray." At Glenavy the road was lined with a cheering
multitude for full two miles. At Castle Dawson, Mr. Justice Downey,
the local clergyman, and some other gentry, kissed him in public in
the barrack yard. As he galloped along the country roads, the farm
labourers in the fields would call out after him, "There goes
Swaddling Jack"; he was known all over Ulster as "the preacher"; his
fame ran on before him like a herald; Count Zinzendorf called him
"Paul Revived"; and his memory lingers down to the present day.

For Cennick, of course, was more than a popular orator. As he was
now a minister of the Brethren's Church, he considered it his duty,
wherever possible, to build chapels, to organize congregations, and
to introduce Moravian books and customs; and in this work he had the
assistance of La Trobe, Symms, Caries, Cooke, Wade, Knight,
Brampton, Pugh, Brown, Thorne, Hill, Watson, and a host of other
Brethren whose names need not be mentioned. I have not mentioned
the foregoing list for nothing. It shows that most of Cennick's
assistants were not Germans, but Englishmen or Irishmen; and the
people could not raise the objection that the Brethren were
suspicious foreigners. At this time, in fact, the strength of the
Brethren was enormous. At the close of his work, John Cennick
himself had built ten chapels, and established two hundred and
twenty religious societies. Around Lough Neagh the Brethren lay
like locusts; and the work here was divided into four districts. At
the north-east corner they had four societies, with chapels at
Ballymena, Gloonen, and Grogan, and a growing cause at Doagh; at the
north-west corner, a society at Lisnamara, established later as a
congregation at Gracefield; at the south-west corner, in Co. Armagh,
three chapels were being built; and at the south-east corner, they
had several societies, and had built, or were building, chapels at
Ballinderry, Glenavy, and Kilwarlin.

At this distance of time the Brethren's work in Ulster has about it
a certain glamour of romance. But in reality the conditions were
far from attractive. It is hard for us to realize now how poor
those Irish people were. They lived in hovels made of loose sods,
with no chimneys; they shared their wretched rooms with hens and
pigs; and toiling all day in a damp atmosphere, they earned their
bread by weaving and spinning. The Brethren themselves were little
better off. At Gloonen, a small village near Gracehill, the
Brethren of the first Lough Neagh district made their headquarters
in a cottage consisting of two rooms and two small "closets"; and
this modest abode of one story was known in the neighbourhood as
"The Great House at Gloonen." Again, at a Conference held in
Gracehill, the Brethren, being pinched for money, solemnly passed a
resolution never to drink tea more than once a day.

And yet there is little to show to-day for these heroic labours. If
the visitor goes to Ulster now and endeavours to trace the footsteps
of Cennick, he will find it almost impossible to realize how great
the power of the Brethren was in those palmy days. At Gracehill,
near Ballymena, he will find the remains of a settlement. At
Ballymena itself, now a growing town, he will find to his surprise
that the Brethren's cause has ceased to exist. At Gracefield,
Ballinderry, and Kilwarlin--where once Cennick preached to
thousands--he will find but feeble, struggling congregations. At
Gloonen the people will show him "Cennick's Well"; at Kilwarlin he
may stand under "Cennick's Tree"; and at Portmore, near Lough Beg,
he will see the ruins of the old church, where Jeremy Taylor wrote
his "Holy Living and Holy Dying," and where Cennick slept many a
night. At Drumargan (Armagh), he will find a barn that was once a
Moravian Chapel, and a small farmhouse that was once a Sisters'
House; and at Arva (Co. Cavan), he may stand on a hillock, still
called "Mount Waugh," in memory of Joseph Waugh, a Moravian
minister. For the rest, however, the work has collapsed; and
Cennick's two hundred and twenty societies have left not a rack

For this decline there were three causes. The first was financial.
At the very time when the Brethren in Ulster had obtained a firm
hold upon the affections of the people the Moravian Church was
passing through a financial crisis; and thus, when money would have
been most useful, money was not to be had. The second was the bad
system of management. Again, as in Yorkshire and Wiltshire, the
Brethren pursued the system of centralization; built a settlement at
Gracehill, and made the other congregations dependent on Gracehill,
just as the Yorkshire congregations were dependent on Fulneck. The
third cause was the early death of Cennick himself. At the height
of his powers he broke down in body and in mind; and, worn out with
many labours, he became the victim of mental depression. For some
time the conviction had been stealing upon him that his work in this
world was over; and in a letter to John de Watteville, who had twice
inspected the Irish work, he said, "I think I have finished with the
North of Ireland. If I stay here much longer I fear I shall damage
His work." At length, as he rode from Holyhead to London, he was
taken seriously ill; and arrived at Fetter Lane in a state of high
fever and exhaustion. For a week he lay delirious and rambling, in
the room which is now used as the Vestry of the Moravian Chapel; and
there, at the early age of thirty-six, he died {July 4th, 1755.}.
If the true success is to labour, Cennick was successful; but if
success is measured by visible results, he ended his brief and
brilliant career in tragedy, failure and gloom. Of all the great
preachers of the eighteenth century, not one was superior to him in
beauty of character. By the poor in Ireland he was almost
worshipped. He was often attacked and unjustly accused; but he
never attacked in return. We search his diary and letters in vain
for one single trace of bitter feeling. He was inferior to John
Wesley in organizing skill, and inferior to Whitefield in dramatic
power; but in devotion, in simplicity, and in command over his
audience he was equal to either. At the present time he is chiefly
known in this country as the author of the well-known grace before
meat, "Be present at our table, Lord"; and some of his hymns, such
as "Children of the Heavenly King," and "Ere I sleep, for every
favour," are now regarded as classics. His position in the Moravian
Church was peculiar. Of all the English Brethren he did the most to
extend the cause of the Moravian Church in the United Kingdom, and
no fewer than fifteen congregations owed their existence, directly
or indirectly, to his efforts; and yet, despite his shining gifts,
he was never promoted to any position of special responsibility or
honour. He was never placed in sole charge of a congregation; and
he was not made superintendent of the work in Ireland. As a soldier
in the ranks he began; as a soldier in the ranks he died. He had
one blemish in his character. He was far too fond, like most of the
Brethren, of overdrawn sentimental language. If a man could read
Zinzendorf's "Litany of the Wounds of Jesus," and then shed tears of
joy, as Cennick tells us he did himself, there must have been an
unhealthy taint in his blood. He was present at Herrnhaag at the
Sifting-Time, and does not appear to have been shocked. In time his
sentimentalism made him morbid. As he had a wife and two children
dependent on him, he had no right to long for an early death; and
yet he wrote the words in his pocket-book:--

Now, Lord, at peace with Thee and all below,
Let me depart, and to Thy Kingdom go.

For this blemish, however, he was more to be pitied than blamed. It
was partly the result of ill-health and overwork; and, on the whole,
it was merely a trifle when set beside that winsome grace, that
unselfish zeal, that modest devotion, and that sunny piety, which
charmed alike the Wiltshire peasants, the Papist boys of Dublin, and
the humble weavers and spinners of the North of Ireland.122



Meanwhile, however, the Brethren in England had been bitterly
opposed. For this there were several reasons. First, the leading
Brethren in England were Germans; and that fact alone was quite
enough to prejudice the multitude against them {1742-3.}. For
Germans our fathers had then but little liking; they had a German
King on the throne, and they did not love him; and the general
feeling in the country was that if a man was a foreigner he was
almost sure to be a conspirator or a traitor. Who were these
mysterious foreigners? asked the patriotic Briton. Who were these
"Moravians," these "Herrnhuters," these "Germans," these "Quiet in
the Land," these "Antinomians"? The very names of the Brethren
aroused the popular suspicion. If a man could prove that his name
was John Smith, the presumption was that John Smith was a loyal
citizen; but if he was known as Gussenbauer or Ockershausen, he was
probably another Guy Fawkes, and was forming a plot to blow up the
House of Commons. At the outset therefore the Brethren were accused
of treachery. At Pudsey Gussenbauer was arrested, tried at
Wakefield, and imprisoned in York Castle. At Broadoaks, in Essex,
the Brethren had opened a school, and were soon accused of being
agents of the Young Pretender. They had, it was said, stored up
barrels of gunpowder; they had undermined the whole neighbourhood,
and intended to set the town of Thaxted on fire. At three o'clock
one afternoon a mob surrounded the building, and tried in vain to
force their way in. Among them were a sergeant and a corporal. The
warden, Metcalfe, admitted the officers, showed them round the
house, and finally led them to a room where a Bible and Prayer-book
were lying on the table. At this sight the officers collapsed in

"Aye," said the corporal, "this is proof enough that you are no
Papists; if you were, this book would not have lain here."

Another cause of opposition was the Brethren's quiet mode of work.
In North America lived a certain Gilbert Tennent; he had met
Zinzendorf at New Brunswick; he had read his Berlin discourses; and
now, in order to show the public what a dangerous teacher Zinzendorf
was, he published a book, entitled, "Some Account of the Principles
of the Moravians." {1743.} As this book was published at Boston, it
did not at first do much harm to the English Brethren; but, after a
time, a copy found its way to England; an English edition was
published; and the English editor, in a preface, accused the
Brethren of many marvellous crimes. They persistently refused, he
declared, to reveal their real opinions. They crept into houses and
led captive silly women. They claimed that all Moravians were
perfect, and taught that the Moravian Church was infallible. They
practised an adventurous use of the Lot, had a curious method of
discovering and purging out the accursed thing, pledged each other
in liquor at their love-feasts, and had an "artful regulation of
their convents." Above all, said this writer, the Moravians were
tyrannical. As soon as any person joined the Moravian Church, he
was compelled to place himself, his family, and his estates entirely
at the Church's disposal; he was bound to believe what the Church
believed, and to do what the Church commanded; he handed his
children over to the Church's care; he could not enter into any
civil contract without the Church's consent; and his sons and
daughters were given in marriage just as the Church decreed.123
Gilbert Tennent himself was equally severe. He began by criticizing
Zinzendorf's theology; and after remarking that Zinzendorf was a
liar, he said that the Brethren kept their disgusting principles
secret, that they despised good books, that they slighted learning
and reason, that they spoke lightly of Confessions of Faith, that
they insinuated themselves into people's affections by smiles and
soft discourses about the love of Christ, that they took special
care to apply to young persons, females and ignorant people. From
all this the conclusion was obvious. At heart the Brethren were
Roman Catholics. "The Moravians," said Gilbert, "by this method of
proceeding, are propagating another damnable doctrine of the Church
of Rome, namely, that Ignorance is the Mother of Devotion." We can
imagine the effect of this in Protestant England. At one time
Zinzendorf was openly accused in the columns of the Universal
Spectator of kidnapping young women for Moravian convents; and the
alarming rumour spread on all sides that the Brethren were Papists
in disguise.

Another cause of trouble was the Moravian religious language. If
the Brethren did not preach novel doctrines they certainly preached
old doctrines in a novel way. They called Jesus the Man of Smart;
talked a great deal about Blood and Wounds; spoke of themselves as
Poor Sinners; and described their own condition as Sinnership and
Sinnerlikeness. To the orthodox Churchman this language seemed
absurd. He did not know what it meant; he did not find it in the
Bible; and, therefore, he concluded that the Brethren's doctrine was
unscriptural and unsound.

Another cause of trouble was the Brethren's doctrine of
justification by faith alone. Of all the charges brought against
them the most serious and the most persistent was the charge that
they despised good works. They were denounced as Antinomians.
Again and again, by the best of men, this insulting term was thrown
at their heads. They taught, it was said, the immoral doctrine that
Christ had done everything for the salvation of mankind; that the
believer had only to believe; that he need not obey the
commandments; and that such things as duties did not exist. At
Windsor lived a gentleman named Sir John Thorold. He was one of the
earliest friends of the Moravians; he had often attended meetings at
Hutton's house; he was an upright, conscientious, intelligent
Christian; and yet he accused the Brethren of teaching "that there
were no duties in the New Testament." Gilbert Tennent brought the
very same accusation. "The Moravian notion about the law," he said,
"is a mystery of detestable iniquity; and, indeed, this seems to be
the mainspring of their unreasonable, anti-evangelical, and
licentious religion." But the severest critic of the Brethren was
John Wesley. He attacked them in a "Letter to the Moravian Church,"
and had that letter printed in his Journal. He attacked them again
in his "Short View of the Difference between the Moravian Brethren,
lately in England, and the Rev. Mr. John and Charles Wesley." He
attacked them again in his "A Dialogue between an Antinomian and his
Friend"; and in each of these clever and biting productions his
chief charge against them was that they taught Antinomian
principles, despised good works, and taught that Christians had
nothing to do but believe.

"Do you coolly affirm," he asked, "that this is only imputed to a
Believer, and that he has none at all of this holiness in him? Is
temperance imputed only to him that is a drunkard still? or chastity
to her that goes on in whoredom?"

He accused the Brethren of carrying out their principles; he
attacked their personal character; and, boiling with righteous
indignation, he denounced them as "licentious spirits and men of
careless lives."

As the Brethren, therefore, were now being fiercely attacked, the
question arose, what measures, if any, they should take in
self-defence. At first they contented themselves with gentle
protests. As they had been accused of disloyalty to the throne,
James Hutton, Benjamin Ingham, and William Bell, in the name of all
the English societies connected with the Brethren's Church, drew up
an address to the King, went to see him in person, and assured him
that they were loyal subjects and hated Popery and popish pretenders
{April 27th, 1744.}. As they had been accused of attacking the
Anglican Church, two Brethren called on Gibson, Bishop of London,
and assured him that they had committed no such crime. For the
rest, however, the Brethren held their tongues. At a Conference in
London they consulted the Lot; and the Lot decided that they should
not reply to Gilbert Tennent. For the same reason, probably, they
also decided to give no reply to John Wesley.

Meanwhile, however, an event occurred which roused the Brethren to
action. At Shekomeko, in Dutchess County, New York, they had
established a flourishing Indian congregation; and now, the Assembly
of New York, stirred up by some liquor sellers who were losing their
business, passed an insulting Act, declaring that "all vagrant
preachers, Moravians, and disguised Papists," should not be allowed
to preach to the Indians unless they first took the oaths of
allegiance and abjuration {1744.}. James Hutton was boiling with
fury. If this Act had applied to all preachers of the Gospel he
would not have minded so much; but the other
denominations--Presbyterians, Independents, Anabaptists and
Quakers--were all specially exempted; and the loyal Moravians were
bracketed together with vagrant preachers and Papists in disguise.
He regarded the Act as an insult. He wrote to Zinzendorf on the
subject. "This," he said, "is the work of Presbyterian firebrands."
If an Act like this could be passed in America, who knew what might
not happen soon in England? "We ought," he continued, "to utilize
this or some other favourable opportunity for bringing our cause
publicly before Parliament."

Now was the time, thought the fiery Hutton, to define the position
of the Brethren's Church in England. He went to Marienborn to see
the Count; a Synod met {1745.}; his proposal was discussed; and the
Synod appointed Abraham von Gersdorf, the official "Delegate to
Kings," to appeal to Lord Granville, and the Board of Trade and
Plantations, for protection in the Colonies. Lord Granville was
gracious. He informed the deputation that though the Act could not
be repealed at once the Board of Trade would recommend the repeal as
soon as legally possible; and the upshot of the matter was that the
Act became a dead letter.

Next year Zinzendorf came to England, and began to do the best he
could to destroy the separate Moravian Church in this country
{1746.}. If the Count could only have had his way, he would now
have made every Moravian in England return to the Anglican Church.
He was full of his "Tropus" idea. He wished to work his idea out
in England; he called the English Brethren to a Synod (Sept. 13-16),
and persuaded them to pass a scheme whereby the English branch of
the Brethren's Church would be taken over entirely by the Church of
England. It was one of the most curious schemes he ever devised.
At their Sunday services the Brethren henceforward were to use the
Book of Common Prayer; their ministers were to be ordained by
Anglican and Moravian Bishops conjointly; he himself was to be the
head of this Anglican-Moravian Church; and thus the English
Moravians would be grafted on to the Church of England. For the
second time, therefore, the Count was trying to destroy the Moravian
Church. But here, to his surprise, he met an unexpected obstacle.
He had forgotten that it takes two to make a marriage. He proposed
the union in form to Archbishop Potter; he pleaded the case with all
the skill at his command; and the Archbishop promptly rejected the
proposal, and the marriage never came off.

As Zinzendorf, therefore, was baffled in this endeavour, he had now
to come down from his pedestal and try a more practical plan
{1747.}; and, acting on the sage advice of Thomas Penn, proprietor
of Pennsylvania, and General Oglethorpe, Governor of Georgia, he
resolved to appeal direct to Parliament for protection in the
Colonies. As Oglethorpe himself was a member of the House of
Commons, he was able to render the Brethren signal service. He had
no objection to fighting himself, and even defended duelling,124 but
he championed the cause of the Brethren. Already, by an Act in
1740, the Quakers had been freed from taking the oath in all our
American Colonies; already, further, by another Act (1743), the
privilege of affirming had been granted in Pennsylvania, not only to
Quakers, but to all foreign Protestants; and now Oglethorpe moved in
the House of Commons that the rule existing in Pennsylvania should
henceforth apply to all American Colonies. If the Moravians, he
argued, were only given a little more encouragement, instead of
being worried about oaths and military service, they would settle in
larger numbers in America and increase the prosperity of the
colonies. He wrote to the Board of Trade and Plantations; his
friend, Thomas Penn, endorsed his statements; and the result was
that the new clause was passed, and all foreign Protestants in
American Colonies--the Moravians being specially mentioned--were
free to affirm instead of taking the oath.

But this Act was of no use to the English Brethren. The great
question at issue was, what standing were the Brethren to hold in
England? On the one hand, as members of a foreign Protestant Church
they were entitled to religious liberty; and yet, on the other hand,
they were practically treated as Dissenters, and had been compelled
to have all their buildings licensed. As they were still accused of
holding secret dangerous principles, they now drew up another
"Declaration," had it printed, sent it to the offices of the
Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chancellor, and the Master of the
Rolls, and inserted it in the leading newspapers. At all costs,
pleaded the Brethren, let us have a public inquiry. "If any man of
undoubted sense and candour," they said, "will take the pains upon
himself to fix the accusations against us in their real point of
view, hitherto unattainable by the Brethren and perhaps the public
too, then we will answer to the expectations of the public, as free
and directly as may be expected from honest subjects of the
constitution of these realms." The appeal led to nothing; the man
of sense and candour never appeared; and still the suffering
Brethren groaned under all sorts of vague accusation.

At last, however, Zinzendorf himself came to the rescue of his
Brethren, rented Northampton House in Bloomsbury Square,125 and
brought the whole matter to a head. For the second time he took the
advice of Oglethorpe and Thomas Penn; and a deputation was now
appointed to frame a petition to Parliament that the Brethren in
America be exempted, not merely from the oath, but also from
military service.

As General Oglethorpe was now in England, he gladly championed the
Brethren's cause, presented the petition in the House of Commons,
and opened the campaign by giving an account of the past history of
the Brethren {Feb. 20th, 1749.}. For practical purposes this
information was important. If the House knew nothing else about the
Brethren it knew that they were no sect of mushroom growth. And
then Oglethorpe informed the House how the Brethren, already, in
bygone days had been kindly treated by England; how Amos Comenius
had appealed to the Anglican Church; how Archbishop Sancroft and
Bishop Compton had published a pathetic account of their sufferings;
and how George I., by the advice of Archbishop Wake, had issued
letters patent for their relief. But the most effective part of his
speech was the part in which he spoke from personal knowledge. "In
the year 1735," he said "they were disquieted in Germany, and about
twenty families went over with me to Georgia. They were
industrious, patient under the difficulties of a new settlement,
laborious beyond what could have been expected. They gave much of
their time to prayer, but that hindered not their industry. Prayer
was to them a diversion after labour. I mention this because a
vulgar notion has prevailed that they neglected labour for prayer."
They had spent, he said, £100,000 in various industries; they had
withdrawn already in large numbers from Georgia because they were
compelled to bear arms; and if that colony was to prosper again the
Brethren should be granted the privilege they requested, and thus be
encouraged to return. For what privilege, after all, did the
Brethren ask? For the noble privilege of paying money instead of
fighting in battle. The more these Brethren were encouraged, said
he, the more the Colonies would prosper; he proposed that the
petition be referred to a Committee, and Velters Cornwall, member
for Herefordshire, seconded the motion.

As Zinzendorf listened to this speech, some curious feelings must
have surged in his bosom. At the Synod of Hirschberg, only six
years before, he had lectured the Brethren for making business
bargains with Governments; and now he was consenting to such a
bargain himself. The debate in the Commons was conducted on
business lines; the whole question at issue was, not whether the
Moravians were orthodox, but whether it would pay the Government to
encourage them; and the British Government took exactly the same
attitude towards the Brethren that Frederick the Great had done
seven years before. The next speaker made this point clearer than
ever. We are not quite sure who it was. It was probably Henry
Pelham, the Prime Minister. At any rate, whoever it was, he
objected to the petition on practical grounds. He declared that the
Moravians were a very dangerous body; that they were really a new
sect; that, like the Papists, they had a Pope, and submitted to
their Pope in all things; that they made their Church supreme in
temporal matters; and that thus they destroyed the power of the
civil magistrate. He suspected that the Brethren were Papists in

"I am at a loss," he said, "whether I shall style the petitioners
Jesuits, Papists, or Moravians."

He intended, he declared, to move an amendment that the Moravians be
restrained from making converts, and that all who joined their ranks
be punished. The fate of England was at stake. If the Moravians
converted the whole nation to their superstition, and everyone
objected to bearing arms, what then would become of our Army and
Navy, and how could we resist invasion? The next speakers, however,
soon toned down the alarm. If Pelham's objections applied to the
Moravians, they would apply, it was argued, equally to the Quakers;
and yet it was a notorious fact that the Colonies where the Quakers
settled were the most prosperous places in the Empire. "What place,"
asked one, "is more flourishing than Pennsylvania?" And if the
Moravians objected to bearing arms, what did that matter, so long as
they were willing to pay?

For these practical reasons, therefore, the motion was easily
carried; a Parliamentary Committee was formed; General Oglethorpe
was elected chairman; and the whole history, doctrine and practice
of the Brethren were submitted to a thorough investigation. For
this purpose Zinzendorf had prepared a number of documents; the
documents were laid before the Committee; and, on the evidence of
those documents, the Committee based its report. From that evidence
three conclusions followed.

In the first place, the Brethren were able to show, by documents of
incontestable authenticity, that they really were the true
descendants of the old Church of the Brethren. They could prove
that Daniel Ernest Jablonsky had been consecrated a Bishop at the
Synod of Lissa (March 10th, 1699), that Jablonsky in turn had
consecrated Zinzendorf a Bishop, and that thus the Brethren had
preserved the old Moravian episcopal succession. They could prove,
further, and prove they did, that Archbishops Wake and Potter had
both declared that the Moravian episcopacy was genuine; that Potter
had described the Moravian Brethren as apostolical and episcopal;
and that when Zinzendorf was made a Bishop, Potter himself had
written him a letter of congratulation. With such evidence,
therefore, as this before them, the Committee were convinced of the
genuineness of the Moravian episcopal succession; and when they
issued their report they gave due weight to the point.

In the second place, the Brethren were able to show that they had no
sectarian motives, and that though they believed in their own
episcopacy, they had no desire to compete with the Church of
England. "There are," they said, "no more than two episcopal
Churches among Protestants: the one known through all the world
under the name of Ecclesia Anglicana; the other characterised for at
least three ages as the Unitas Fratrum, comprehending generally all
other Protestants who choose episcopal constitution. The first is
the only one which may justly claim the title of a national church,
because she has at her head a Christian King of the same rite, which
circumstance is absolutely required to constitute a national church.
The other episcopal one, known by the name of Unitas Fratrum, is
far from pretending to that title." In that manifesto the Brethren
assumed that their episcopal orders were on a par with those of the
Church of England; and that assumption was accepted, without the
slightest demur, not only by the Parliamentary Committee, but by the
bench of Bishops.

In the third place--and this was the crucial point--the Brethren
were able to show, by the written evidence of local residents, that
wherever they went they made honest, industrious citizens. They had
settled down in Pennsylvania; they had done good work at Bethlehem,
Nazareth, Gnadenhütten, Frederick's Town, German Town and Oley; they
had won the warm approval of Thomas Penn; and, so far from being
traitors, they had done their best to teach the Indians to be loyal
to the British throne. They had doubled the value of an estate in
Lusatia, and had built two flourishing settlements in Silesia; they
had taught the negroes in the West Indies to be sober, industrious
and law-abiding; they had tried to uplift the poor Hottentots in
South Africa; they had begun a mission in Ceylon, had toiled in
plague-stricken Algiers, and had built settlements for the Eskimos
in Greenland. If these statements had been made by Moravians, the
Committee might have doubted their truth, but in every instance the
evidence came, not from Brethren themselves, but from governors,
kings and trading officials. The proof was overwhelming. Wherever
the Brethren went, they did good work. They promoted trade; they
enriched the soul; they taught the people to be both good and loyal;
and, therefore, the sooner they were encouraged in America, the
better for the British Empire.

As the Committee, therefore, were compelled by the evidence to bring
in a good report, the desired leave was granted to bring in a bill
"for encouraging the people known by the name of the Unitas Fratrum,
or United Brethren, to settle in His Majesty's Colonies in America."
Its real purpose, however, was to recognize the Brethren's Church
as an ancient Protestant Episcopal Church, not only in the American
Colonies, but also in the United Kingdom; and its provisions were to
be in force wherever the British flag might fly. The provisions
were generous. First, in the preamble, the Brethren were described
as "an ancient Protestant Episcopal Church and a sober and quiet
industrious people," and, being such, were hereby encouraged to
settle in the American Colonies. Next, in response to their own
request, they were allowed to affirm instead of taking the oath.
The form of affirmation was as follows: "I, A. B., do declare in
the presence of Almighty God the witness of the truth of what I
say." Next, they were allowed to pay a fixed sum instead of
rendering military service, and were also exempted from serving on
juries in criminal cases. Next, all members of the Brethren's
Church were to prove their claims by producing a certificate, signed
by a Moravian Bishop or pastor. Next, the advocate of the Brethren
was to supply the Commissioners for Trade and Plantations with a
complete list of Moravian bishops and pastors, together with their
handwriting and seal; and, finally, anyone who falsely claimed to
belong to the Brethren's Church was to be punished as a wilful

The first reading was on March 28th, and the passage through the
House of Commons was smooth. At the second reading, on April 1st,
General Oglethorpe was asked to explain why the privilege of
affirming should be extended to Moravians in Great Britain and
Ireland. Why not confine it to the American colonies? His answer
was convincing. If the privilege, he said, were confined to
America, it would be no privilege at all. At that time all cases
tried in America could be referred to an English Court of Appeal.
If the privilege, therefore, were confined to America, the Brethren
would be constantly hampered by vexatious appeals to England; and an
English Court might at any moment upset the decision of an American
Court. The explanation was accepted; the third reading came on; and
the Bill passed the House of Commons unaltered.

In the House of Lords there was a little more opposition. As the
Brethren were described as an "Episcopal Church," it was feared that
the Bishops might raise an objection; but the Bishops met at Lambeth
Palace, and resolved not to oppose. At first Dr. Sherlock, Bishop
of London, objected; but even he gave way in the end, and when the
Bill came before the Lords not a single Bishop raised his voice
against it. The only Bishop who spoke was Maddox, of Worcester, and
he spoke in the name of the rest.

"Our Moravian Brethren," he said, "are an ancient Episcopal Church.
Of all Protestants, they come the nearest to the Established Church
in this kingdom in their doctrine and constitution. And though the
enemy has persecuted them from several quarters, the soundness of
their faith and the purity of their morals have defended them from
any imputation of Popery and immorality."

The one dangerous opponent was Lord Chancellor Hardwicke. He
objected to the clause about the certificate. If a man wished to
prove himself a Moravian, let him do so by bringing witnesses. What
use was a Bishop's certificate? It would not be accepted by any
judge in the country.

On the other hand, Lord Granville, in a genial speech, spoke highly
of the Brethren. As some members were still afraid that the whole
country might become Moravians, and refuse to defend our land
against her foes, he dismissed their fears by an anecdote about a
Quaker. At one time, he said, in the days of his youth, the late
famous admiral, Sir Charles Wager, had been mate on a ship commanded
by a Quaker; and on one occasion the ship was attacked by a French
privateer. What, then, did the Quaker captain do? Instead of
fighting the privateer himself, he gave over the command to Wager,
captured the privateer, and made his fortune. But the Brethren, he
held, were even broader minded than the Quakers.

"I may compare them," he said, "to a casting-net over all
Christendom, to enclose all denominations of Christians. If you
like episcopacy, they have it; if you choose the Presbytery of
Luther or Calvin, they have that also; and if you are pleased with
Quakerism, they have something of that."

With this speech Zinzendorf was delighted. As the little difficulty
about the certificate had not yet been cleared away, he suggested
that the person bringing the certificate should bring witnesses as
well; and with this trifling amendment the Bill at last--on May
12th, the Moravian Memorial Day--was carried without a division.

In one sense this Act was a triumph for the Brethren, and yet it
scarcely affected their fortunes in England. Its interest is
national rather than Moravian. It was a step in the history of
religious toleration, and the great principle it embodied was that a
religious body is entitled to freedom on the ground of its
usefulness to the State. The principle is one of the deepest
importance. It is the fundamental principle to-day of religious
liberty in England. But the Brethren themselves reaped very little
benefit. With the exception of their freedom from the oath and from
military service, they still occupied the same position as before
the Act was passed. We come here to one of those contradictions
which are the glory of all legal systems. On the one hand, by Act
of Parliament, they were declared an Episcopal Church, and could
hardly, therefore, be regarded as Dissenters; on the other, they
were treated as Dissenters still, and still had their churches
licensed as "places of worship for the use of Protestant



As soon as the Act of Parliament was passed, and the settlement at
Herrnhaag had been broken up, the Count resolved that the
headquarters of the Brethren's Church should henceforward be in
London; and to this intent he now leased a block of buildings at
Chelsea, known as Lindsey House. The great house, in altered form,
is standing still. It is at the corner of Cheyne Walk and Beaufort
Street, and is close to the Thames Embankment. It had once belonged
to Sir Thomas More, and also to the ducal family of Ancaster. The
designs of Zinzendorf were ambitious. He leased the adjoining
Beaufort grounds and gardens, spent £12,000 on the property, had the
house remodelled in grandiose style, erected, close by, the "Clock"
chapel and a minister's house, laid out a cemetery, known to this
day as "Sharon," and thus made preliminary arrangements for the
establishment in Chelsea of a Moravian settlement in full working
order. In those days Chelsea was a charming London suburb. From
the house to the river side lay a terrace, used as a grand parade;
from the bank to the water there ran a short flight of steps; and
from there the pleasure-boats, with banners flying, took trippers up
and down the shining river. For five years this Paradise was the
headquarters of the Brethren's Church. There, in grand style, lived
the Count himself, with the members of his Pilgrim Band; there the
Brethren met in conference; there the archives of the Church were
preserved; and there letters and reports were received from all
parts of the rapidly extending mission field.

And now the Count led a new campaign in England. As debates in
Parliament were not then published in full, it was always open for
an enemy to say that the Brethren had obtained their privileges by
means of some underhand trick; and in order to give this charge the
lie, the Count now published a folio volume, entitled, "Acta Fratrum
Unitatis in Anglia." In this volume he took the bull by the horns.
He issued it by the advice of Wilson, Bishop of Sodor and Man. It
was a thorough and comprehensive treatise, and contained all about
the Moravians that an honest and inquiring Briton would need to
know. The first part consisted of the principal vouchers that had
been examined by the Parliamentary Committee. The next was an
article, "The Whole System of the Twenty-one Doctrinal Articles of
the Confession of Augsburg"; and here the Brethren set forth their
doctrinal beliefs in detail. The next article was "The Brethren's
Method of Preaching the Gospel, according to the Synod of Bern,
1532"; and here they explained why they preached so much about the
Person and sufferings of Christ. The next article was a series of
extracts from the minutes of German Synods; and here the Brethren
showed what they meant by such phrases as "Sinnership" and "Blood
and Wounds Theology." But the cream of the volume was Zinzendorf's
treatise, "The Rationale of the Brethren's Liturgies." He explained
why the Brethren spoke so freely on certain moral matters, and
contended that while they had sometimes used language which prudish
people might condemn as indecent, they had done so from the loftiest
motives, and had always maintained among themselves a high standard
of purity. At the close of the volume was the Brethren's "Church
Litany," revised by Sherlock, Bishop of London, a glossary of their
religious terms, and a pathetic request that if the reader was not
satisfied yet he should ask for further information. The volume was
a challenge to the public. It was an honest manifesto of the
Brethren's principles, a declaration that they had nothing to
conceal, and a challenge to their enemies to do their worst.

The next task of Zinzendorf was to comfort the Brethren's friends.
At this period, while Zinzendorf was resident in London, the whole
cause of the Brethren in England was growing at an amazing pace; and
in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Bedfordshire, Cheshire, Wiltshire,
Gloucestershire, Dublin, and the North of Ireland, the members of
the numerous societies and preaching places were clamouring for full
admission to the Moravian Church. They assumed a very natural
attitude. On the one hand, they wanted to become Moravians; on the
other, they objected to the system of discipline enforced so
strictly in the settlements, and contended that though it might suit
in Germany, it was not fit for independent Britons. But Zinzendorf
gave a clear and crushing answer. For the benefit of all good
Britons who wished to join the Moravian Church without accepting the
Moravian discipline, he issued what he called a "Consolatory
Letter";127 and the consolation that he gave them was that he could
not consider their arguments for a moment. He informed them that
the Brethren's rules were so strict that candidates could only be
received with caution; that the Brethren had no desire to disturb
those whose outward mode of religion was already fixed; that they
lived in a mystical communion with Christ which others might not
understand; and, finally, that they refused point-blank to rob the
other Churches of their members, and preferred to act "as a
seasonable assistant in an irreligious age, and as a most faithful
servant to the other Protestant Churches." Thus were the society
members blackballed; and thus did Zinzendorf prove in England that,
with all his faults, he was never a schismatic or a poacher on
others' preserves.

Meanwhile, the battle of the books had begun. The first blow was
struck by John Wesley. For the last seven years--as his Journal
shows--he had seen but little of the Brethren, and was, therefore,
not in a position to pass a fair judgment on their conduct; but, on
the other hand, he had seen no reason to alter his old opinion, and
still regarded them as wicked Antinomians. The Act of Parliament
aroused his anger. He obtained a copy of Zinzendorf's Acta Fratrum,
and published a pamphlet128 summarizing its contents, with
characteristic comments of his own {1750.}. He signed himself "A
Lover of the Light." His pamphlet was a fierce attack upon the
Brethren. The very evidence that had convinced the Parliamentary
Committee was a proof to Wesley that the Brethren were heretics and
deceivers. He accused them of having deceived the Government and of
having obtained their privileges by false pretences. He asserted
that they had brought forward documents which gave an erroneous view
of their principles and conduct. He hinted that Zinzendorf, in one
document, claimed for himself the power, which belonged by right to
the King and Parliament only, to transport his Brethren beyond the
seas, and that he had deceived the Committee by using the milder
word "transfer." He accused the Brethren of hypocritical pretence,
threw doubts upon their assumed reluctance to steal sheep from other
churches, and hinted that while they rejected the poor they welcomed
the rich with open arms. At the close of his pamphlet he declared
his conviction that the chief effect of the Brethren's religion was
to fill the mind with absurd ideas about the Side-Wound of Christ,
and rivers and seas of blood; and, therefore, he earnestly besought
all Methodists who had joined the Church of the Brethren to quit
their diabolical delusions, to flee from the borders of Sodom, and
to leave these Brethren, loved the darkness and rejected the Holy

The next attack was of a milder nature. At Melbourne, in
Derbyshire, the Brethren had a small society; and George Baddeley,
the local curate, being naturally shocked that so many of his
parishioners had ceased to attend the Parish Church, appealed to
them in a pamphlet entitled, "A Kind and Friendly Letter to the
People called Moravians at Melbourne, in Derbyshire." And kind and
friendly the pamphlet certainly was. For the Brethren, as he knew
them by personal contact, George Baddeley professed the highest
respect; and all that he had to say against them was that they had
helped to empty the Parish Church, and had ignorantly taught the
people doctrines contrary to Holy Scripture. They made a sing-song,
he complained, of the doctrine of the cleansing blood of Christ;
they had driven the doctrine of imputation too far, and had spoken
of Christ as a personal sinner; they had taught that Christians were
as holy as God, and co-equal with Christ, that believers were not to
pray, that there were no degrees in faith, and that all who had not
full assurance of faith were children of the devil. The pamphlet is
instructive. It was not an accurate account of the Brethren's
teaching; but it shows what impression their teaching made on the
mind of an evangelical country curate.

Another writer, whose name is unknown, denounced the Brethren in his
pamphlet "Some Observations." He had read Zinzendorf's Acta
Fratrum, was convinced that the Brethren were Papists, and feared
that now the Act was passed they would spread their Popish doctrines
in the colonies. For this judgment the chief evidence he summoned
was a passage in the volume expounding the Brethren's doctrine of
the Sacrament; and in his opinion their doctrine was so close to
Transubstantiation that ordinary Protestants could not tell the
difference between the two.

At Spondon, near Derby, lived Gregory Oldknow; and Gregory published
a pamphlet entitled, "Serious Objections to the Pernicious Doctrines
of the Moravians and Methodists." {1751.} As he did not explain his
point very clearly, it is hard to see what objection he had to the
Brethren; but as he called them cannibals and German pickpockets, he
cannot have had much respect for their personal character. At their
love-feasts, he said, their chief object was to squeeze money from
the poor. At some of their services they played the bass viol, and
at others they did not, which plainly showed that they were unsteady
in their minds. And, therefore, they were a danger to Church and

At Dublin, John Roche, a Churchman, published his treatise {1751.},
the "Moravian Heresy." His book was published by private
subscription, and among the subscribers were the Archbishop of
Armagh, the Bishops of Meath, Raphoe, Waterford, Clogher, Kilmore,
Kildare, Derry, and Down and Connor, and several deans, archdeacons
and other Irish clergymen. He denounced the Brethren as
Antinomians. It is worth while noting what he meant by this term.
"The moral acts of a believer," said the Brethren, "are not acts of
duty that are necessary to give him a share in the merits of Christ,
but acts of love which he is excited to pay the Lamb for the
salvation already secured to him, if he will but unfeignedly believe
it to be so. Thus every good act of a Moravian is not from a sense
of duty, but from a sense of gratitude." Thus Roche denounced as
Antinomian the very doctrine now commonly regarded as evangelical.
He said, further, that the Moravians suffered from hideous diseases
inflicted on them by the devil; but the chief interest of his book
is the proof it offers of the strength of the Brethren at that time.
He wrote when both Cennick and Wesley had been in Dublin; but
Cennick to him seemed the really dangerous man. At first he
intended to expose both Moravians and Methodists. "But," he added,
"the Moravians being the more dangerous, subtle and powerful sect,
and I fear will be the more obstinate, I shall treat of them first."

For the next attack the Brethren were themselves to blame. As the
Brethren had sunk some thousands of pounds at Herrnhaag, they should
now have endeavoured to husband their resources; and yet, at a Synod
held in London, 1749, they resolved to erect choir-houses in
England. At Lindsey House they sunk £12,000; at Fulneck, in
Yorkshire they sunk thousands more; at Bedford they sunk thousands
more; and meanwhile they were spending thousands more in the
purchase and lease of building land, and in the support of many
preachers in the rapidly increasing country congregations. And here
they made an amazing business blunder. Instead of cutting their
coat according to their cloth, they relied on a fictitious capital
supposed to exist on the Continent. At one time John Wesley paid a
visit to Fulneck, saw the buildings in course of erection, asked how
the cost would be met, and received, he says, the astounding answer
that the money "would come from beyond the sea."

At this point, to make matters worse, Mrs. Stonehouse, a wealthy
Moravian, died; and one clause in her will was that, when her
husband followed her to the grave, her property should then be
devoted to the support of the Church Diaconies. Again the English
Brethren made a business blunder. Instead of waiting till Mr.
Stonehouse died, and the money was actually theirs, they relied upon
it as prospective capital, and indulged in speculations beyond their
means; and, to cut a long story short, the sad fact has to be
recorded that, by the close of 1752, the Moravian Church in England
was about £30,000 in debt. As soon as Zinzendorf heard the news, he
rushed heroically to the rescue, gave security for £10,000,
dismissed the managers of the Diaconies, and formed a new board of

But the financial disease was too deep-seated to be so easily cured.
The managers of the English Diaconies had been extremely foolish.
They had invested £67,000 with one Gomez Serra, a Portuguese Jew.
Gomez Serra suddenly stopped payment, the £67,000 was lost, and thus
the Brethren's liabilities were now nearly £100,000 {1752.}. Again
Zinzendorf, in generous fashion, came to the rescue of his Brethren.
He acted in England exactly as he had acted at Herrnhaag. He
discovered before long, to his dismay, that many of the English
Brethren had invested money in the Diaconies, and that now they ran
the serious danger of being imprisoned for debt. He called a
meeting of the creditors, pledged himself for the whole sum, and
suggested a plan whereby the debt could be paid off in four years.
We must not, of course, suppose that Zinzendorf himself proposed to
pay the whole £100,000 out of his own estates. For the present he
made himself responsible, but he confidently relied on the Brethren
to repay their debt to him as soon as possible. At all events, the
creditors accepted his offer; and all that the Brethren needed now
was time to weather the storm.

At this point George Whitefield interfered, and nearly sent the
Moravian ship to the bottom {1753.}. He appealed to the example of
Moses and Paul. As Moses, he said, had rebuked the Israelites when
they made the golden calf, and as Paul had resisted Peter and
Barnabas when carried away with the dissimulation of the Jews, so
he, as a champion of the Church of Christ, could hold his peace no
longer. He attacked the Count in a fiery pamphlet, entitled, "An
Expostulatory Letter to Count Zinzendorf." The pamphlet ran to a
second edition, and was circulated in Germany. He began by
condemning Moravian customs as unscriptural. "Pray, my lord," he
said, "what instances have we of the first Christians walking round
the graves of their deceased friends on Easter-Day, attended with
haut-boys, trumpets, French horns, violins and other kinds of
musical instruments? Or where have we the least mention made of
pictures of particular persons being brought into the first
Christian assemblies, and of candles being placed behind them, in
order to give a transparent view of the figures? Where was it ever
known that the picture of the apostle Paul, representing him handing
a gentleman and lady up to the side of Jesus Christ, was ever
introduced into the primitive love-feasts? Again, my lord, I beg
leave to inquire whether we hear anything of eldresses or
deaconesses of the apostolical churches seating themselves before a
table covered with artificial flowers, against that a little altar
surrounded with wax tapers, on which stood a cross, composed either
of mock or real diamonds, or other glittering stones?" As the
Brethren, therefore, practised customs which had no sanction in the
New Testament, George Whitefield concluded that they were
encouraging Popery. At this period the Brethren were certainly fond
of symbols; and on one occasion, as the London Diary records, Peter
Boehler entered Fetter Lane Chapel, arrayed in a white robe to
symbolize purity, and a red sash tied at the waist to symbolize the
cleansing blood of Christ. But the next point in Whitefield's
"letter" was cruel. At the very time when Zinzendorf was giving his
money to save his English Brethren from a debtor's prison,
Whitefield accused him and his Brethren alike of robbery and fraud.
He declared that Zinzendorf was £40,000 in debt; that there was
little hope that he would ever pay; that his allies were not much
better; and that the Brethren had deceived the Parliamentary
Committee by representing themselves as men of means. At the very
time, said Whitefield, when the Moravian leaders were boasting in
Parliament of their great possessions, they were really binding down
their English members for thousands more than they could pay. They
drew bills on tradesmen without their consent; they compelled simple
folk to sell their estates, seized the money, and then sent the
penniless owners abroad; and they claimed authority to say to the
rich, "Either give us all thou hast, or get thee gone." For these
falsehoods Whitefield claimed, no doubt quite honestly, to have good
evidence; and to prove his point he quoted the case of a certain
Thomas Rhodes. Poor Rhodes, said Whitefield, was one of the
Brethren's victims. They had first persuaded him to sell a valuable
estate; they had then seized part of his money to pay their debts;
and at last they drained his stores so dry that he had to sell them
his watch, bureau, horse and saddle, to fly to France, and to leave
his old mother to die of starvation in England. For a while this
ridiculous story was believed; and the Brethren's creditors, in a
state of panic, pressed hard for their money. The little Church of
the Brethren was now on the brink of ruin. At one moment Zinzendorf
himself expected to be thrown into prison, and was only saved in the
nick of time by the arrival of money from Germany. But the English
Brethren now showed their manhood. The very men whom Zinzendorf was
supposed to have robbed now rose in his defence. Instead of
thanking Whitefield for defending them in their supposed distresses,
they formed a committee, drew up a statement,129 dedicated that
statement to the Archbishop of York, and declared that there was not
a word of truth in Whitefield's charges. They had not, they
declared, been robbed by Zinzendorf and the Moravian leaders; on the
contrary, they had received substantial benefits from them. Thomas
Rhodes himself proved Whitefield in the wrong. He wrote a letter to
his own lawyer; James Hutton published extracts from the letter, and
in that letter Rhodes declared that he had sold his estate of his
own free will, that the Brethren had paid a good price, and that he
and his mother were living in perfect comfort. Thus was
Whitefield's fiction exploded, and the Brethren's credit restored.

But the next attack was still more deadly. At the time when
Whitefield wrote his pamphlet there had already appeared a book
entitled "A Candid Narrative of the Rise and Progress of the
Herrnhuters"; and Whitefield himself had read the book and had
allowed it to poison his mind {1753.}. The author was Henry
Rimius.130 He had been Aulic Councillor to the King of Prussia, had
met Moravians in Germany, and now lived in Oxenden Street, London.
For two years this scribbler devoted his energies to an attempt to
paint the Brethren in such revolting colours that the Government
would expel them from the country. His method was unscrupulous and
immoral. He admitted, as he had to admit, that such English
Brethren as he knew were excellent people; and yet he gave the
impression in his books that the whole Moravian Church was a sink of
iniquity. He directed his main attack against Zinzendorf and the
old fanatics at Herrnhaag; and thus he made the English Brethren
suffer for the past sins of their German cousins. He accused the
Brethren of deceiving the House of Commons. He would now show them
up in their true colours. "No Government," he said, "that harbours
them can be secure whilst their leaders go on at the rate they have
done hitherto." He accused them of holding immoral principles
dangerous to Church and State. They held, he said, that Christ
could make the most villainous act to be virtue, and the most
exalted virtue to be vice. They spoke with contempt of the Bible,
and condemned Bible reading as dangerous. They denounced the
orthodox theology as fit only for dogs and swine, and described the
priests of other Churches as professors of the devil. They called
themselves the only true Church, the Church of the Lamb, the Church
of Blood and Wounds; and claimed that, on the Judgment Day, they
would shine forth in all their splendour and be the angels coming in
glory. At heart, however, they were not Protestants at all, but
Atheists in disguise; and the real object of all their plotting was
to set up a godless empire of their own. They claimed to be
independent of government. They employed a secret gang of
informers. They had their own magistrates, their own courts of
justice, and their own secret laws. At their head was Zinzendorf,
their Lord Advocate, with the authority of a Pope. As no one could
join the Moravian Church without first promising to abandon the use
of his reason, and submit in all things to his leaders, those
leaders could guide them like little children into the most horrid
enterprizes. At Herrnhaag the Brethren had established an
independent state, and had robbed the Counts of Büdingen of vast
sums of money; and, if they were allowed to do so, they would commit
similar crimes in England. They had a fund called the Lamb's Chest,
to which all their members were bound to contribute. The power of
their Elders was enormous. At any moment they could marry a couple
against their will, divorce them when they thought fit, tear
children from their parents, and dispatch them to distant corners of
the earth. But the great object of the Moravians, said Rimius, was
to secure liberty for themselves to practise their sensual
abominations. He supported his case by quoting freely, not only
from Zinzendorf's sermons, but also from certain German hymn-books
which had been published at Herrnhaag during the "Sifting Time"; and
as he gave chapter and verse for his statements, he succeeded in
covering the Brethren with ridicule. He accused them of blasphemy
and indecency. They spoke of Christ as a Tyburn bird, as digging
for roots, as vexed by an aunt, and as sitting in the beer-house
among the scum of society. They sang hymns to the devil. They
revelled in the most hideous and filthy expressions, chanted the
praises of lust and sensuality, and practised a number of sensual
abominations too loathsome to be described. At one service held in
Fetter Lane, Count Zinzendorf, said Rimius, had declared that the
seventh commandment was not binding on Christians, and had
recommended immorality to his congregation.131 It is impossible to
give the modern reader a true idea of the shocking picture of the
Brethren painted by Rimius. For malice, spite, indecency and
unfairness, his works would be hard to match even in the vilest
literature of the eighteenth century. As his books came out in
rapid succession, the picture he drew grew more and more disgusting.
He wrote in a racy, sometimes jocular style; and, knowing the dirty
taste of the age, he pleased his public by retailing anecdotes as
coarse as any in the "Decameron." His chief object was probably to
line his own pockets. His first book, "The Candid Narrative," sold
well. But his attack was mean and unjust. It is true that he
quoted quite correctly from the silly literature of the
Sifting-Time; but he carefully omitted to state the fact that that
literature had now been condemned by the Brethren themselves, and
that only a few absurd stanzas had appeared in English. At the same
time, in the approved fashion of all scandal-mongers, he constantly
gave a false impression by tearing passages from their original
connection. As an attack on the English Brethren, his work was
dishonest. He had no solid evidence to bring against them. From
first to last he wrote almost entirely of the fanatics at Herrnhaag,
and fathered their sins upon the innocent Brethren in England.

Meanwhile, however, a genuine eye-witness was telling a terrible
tale. He named his book {1753.}, "The True and Authentic Account of
Andrew Frey." For four years, he said, he lived among the Brethren
in Germany, travelled about helping to form societies, and settled
down at Marienborn, when the fanaticism there was in full bloom. He
was known among the Brethren as Andrew the Great. As he wore a long
beard, he was considered rather eccentric. At Marienborn he saw
strange sights and heard strange doctrine. At their feasts the
Brethren ate like gluttons and drank till they were tipsy. "All
godliness, all devotion, all piety," said Rubusch, the general Elder
of all the Single Brethren on the Continent, "are no more than so
many snares of the devil. Things must be brought to this pass in
the community, that nothing shall be spoken of but wounds, wounds,
wounds. All other discourse, however Scriptural and pious, must be
spued out and trampled under foot." Another, Vieroth, a preacher in
high repute among the Brethren, said, in a sermon at Marienborn
castle church: "Nothing gives the devil greater joy than to decoy
into good works, departing from evil, shalling and willing, trying,
watching and examining those souls who have experienced anything of
the Saviour's Grace in their hearts." Another, Calic, had defended
self-indulgence. "Anyone," he said, "having found lodging, bed and
board in the Lamb's wounds cannot but be merry and live according to
nature; so that when such a one plays any pranks that the godly ones
cry out against them as sins, the Saviour is so far from being
displeased therewith that he rejoices the more." In vain Frey
endeavoured to correct these cross-air birds; they denounced him as
a rogue. He appealed to Zinzendorf, and found to his dismay that
the Count was as depraved as the rest. "Do not suffer yourselves to
be molested in your merriment," said that trumpet of Satan; and
others declared that the Bible was dung, and only fit to be trampled
under foot. At last Andrew, disgusted beyond all measure, could
restrain his soul no longer; and telling the Brethren they were the
wickedest sect that had appeared since the days of the Apostles, and
profoundly thankful that their gilded poison had not killed his
soul, he turned his back on them for ever.132

The next smiter of the Brethren was Lavington, Bishop of Exeter. He
called his book "The Moravians Compared and Detected." He had
already denounced the Methodists in his "Enthusiasm of Methodists
and Papists Compared" {1754.}; and now he described the Brethren as
immoral characters, fitted to enter a herd of swine. In a pompous
introduction he explained his purpose, and that purpose was the
suppression of the "Brethren's Church in England." "With respect to
the settlement of the Moravians in these kingdoms," he said, "it
seems to have been surreptitiously obtained, under the pretence of
their being a peaceable and innocent sort of people. And peaceable
probably they will remain while they are permitted, without control,
to ruin families and riot in their debaucheries." Of all the
attacks upon the Brethren, this book by Lavington was the most
offensive and scurrilous; and the Brethren themselves could hardly
believe that it was written by a Bishop. It was unfit for a decent
person to read. The good Bishop knew nothing of his subject. As he
could not read the German language, he had to rely for his
information on the English editions of the works of Rimius and Frey;
and all he did was to collect in one volume the nastiest passages in
their indictments, compare the Brethren with certain queer sects of
the Middle Ages, and thus hold them up before the public as filthy
dreamers and debauchees of the vilest order.

And now, to give a finishing touch to the picture, John Wesley arose
once more {1755.}. He, too, had swallowed the poison of Rimius and
Frey, and a good deal of other poison as well. At Bedford a
scandal-monger informed him that the Brethren were the worst
paymasters in the town; and at Holbeck another avowed that the
Brethren whom he had met in Yorkshire were quite as bad as Rimius
had stated. As Wesley printed these statements in his journal they
were soon read in every county in England. But Wesley himself did
not assert that these statements were true. He wished, he said, to
be quite fair to the Brethren; he wished to give them a chance of
clearing themselves; and, therefore, he now published his pamphlet
entitled "Queries to Count Zinzendorf." It contained the whole case
in a nutshell. For the sum of sixpence the ordinary reader had now
the case against the Brethren in a popular and handy form.

Thus the Brethren, attacked from so many sides, were bound to bestir
themselves in self-defence. The burden of reply fell on Zinzendorf.
His life and conversation were described as scandalous; his hymns
were denounced as filthy abominations, and his discourses as pleas
for immorality; and the Brethren for whose sake he had sacrificed
his fortune were held up before the British public as political
conspirators, atheists, robbers of the poor, kidnappers of children,
ruiners of families, and lascivious lovers of pleasure. But the
Count was a busy man. James Hutton says that he worked on the
average eighteen hours a day. He was constantly preaching, writing,
relieving the distressed, paying other people's debts, and providing
the necessaries of life for a hundred ministers of the Gospel. He
had dealt with similar accusations in Germany, had published a
volume containing a thousand answers to a thousand questions, and
was loth to go over the whole ground again. For some time he clung
to the hope that the verdict of Parliament and the common sense of
Englishmen would be sufficient protection against abuse; and he
gallantly defended the character of Rimius, and spoke with generous
enthusiasm of Whitefield. The best friends of the Brethren, such as
Lord Granville and the Bishops of London and Worcester, advised them
to treat Rimius with contemptuous silence. But a reply became a
necessity. As long as the Brethren remained silent, their enemies
asserted that this very silence was a confession of guilt; and some
mischievous scoundrel, in the name, but without the consent, of the
Brethren, inserted a notice in the General Advertiser that they
intended to reply to Rimius in detail. For these reasons,
therefore, Zinzendorf, James Hutton, Frederick Neisser, and others
who preferred to write anonymously, now issued a series of defensive
pamphlets.133 The Count offered to lay before the public a full
statement of his financial affairs; and James Hutton, in a notice in
several newspapers, promised to answer any reasonable questions. It
is needless to give the Brethren's defence in detail. The plain
facts of the case were beyond all dispute. In two ways the
accusations of Rimius and Frey were out of court. First they
accused the whole Church of the Brethren of sins which had only been
committed by a few fanatics at Marienborn and Herrnhaag; and,
secondly, that fanaticism had practically ceased before the Act of
Parliament was passed. The Count here stood upon firm ground. He
pointed out that the accusers of the Brethren had nearly always
taken care to go to the Wetterau for their material; and he
contended that it was a shame to blame innocent Englishmen for the
past sins, long ago abandoned, of a few foreign fanatics. He
appealed confidently to the public. "We are so well known to our
neighbours," he said, "that all our clearing ourselves of
accusations appears to them quite needless." In reply to the charge
of using indecent language, he contended that his purpose was good,
and justified by the results; and that, as soon as he found himself
misunderstood, he had cut out all doubtful phrases from his

James Hutton explained their use of childish language. At this
period the Brethren, in some of their hymns, used a number of
endearing epithets which would strike the modern reader as absurd.
For example, they spoke of the little Lamb, the little Jesus, the
little Cross-air Bird. But even here they were not so childish as
their critics imagined. The truth was, these phrases were Bohemian
in origin. In the Bohemian language diminutives abound. In Bohemia
a servant girl is addressed as "demercko"--i.e., little, little
maid; and the literal translation of "mug mily Bozicko"--a phrase
often used in public worship--is "my dear, little, little God."

But the Brethren had a better defence than writing pamphlets.
Instead of taking too much notice of their enemies, they began to
set their English house in order. For the first time they now
published an authorized collection of English Moravian hymns
{1754.}; and in the preface they clearly declared their purpose.
The purpose was twofold: first, the proclamation of the Gospel;
second, the cultivation of personal holiness. If we judge this book
by modern standards, we shall certainly find it faulty; but, on the
other hand, it must be remembered that it rendered a very noble
service to the Christianity of the eighteenth century. The chief
burden of the hymns was Ecce Homo. If the Brethren had never done
anything else, they had at least placed the sufferings of Christ in
the forefront of their message. With rapturous enthusiasm the
Brethren depicted every detail of the Passion History; and thus they
reminded their hearers of events which ordinary Christians had
almost forgotten. At times the language they used was gruesome;
and, lost in mystic adoration, the Brethren, in imagination, trod
the Via Dolorosa. They nestled in the nail-prints; they kissed the
spear; they gazed with rapt and holy awe on the golden head, the
raven locks, the pallid cheeks, the foaming lips, the melting eyes,
the green wreath of thorns, the torn sinews, the great blue wounds,
and the pierced palms, like rings of gold, beset with rubies red.
In one stanza they abhorred themselves as worms; in the next they
rejoiced as alabaster doves; and, glorying in the constant presence
of the Well-Beloved, they feared not the King of Terrors, and calmly
sang of death as "the last magnetic kiss, to consummate their
bliss." But, despite its crude and extravagant language, this
hymn-book was of historic importance. At that time the number of
hymn-books in England was small; the Anglicans had no hymn-book at
all, and never sang anything but Psalms; and thus the Brethren were
among the first to make the adoration of Christ in song an essential
part of public worship. It was here that the Brethren excelled, and
here that they helped to free English Christianity from the chilling
influence of Deism. The whole point was quaintly expressed by
Bishop John Gambold:--

The Doctrine of the Unitas
By Providence was meant,
In Christendom's degenerate days,
That cold lump to ferment,
From Scripture Pearls to wipe the dust,
Give blood-bought grace its compass just,
In praxis, truth from shew to part,
God's Power from Ethic Art.

But the last line must not be misunderstood. It did not mean that
the Brethren despised ethics. Of all the charges brought against
them, the charge that they were Antinomians was the most malicious
and absurd. At the very time when their enemies were accusing them
of teaching that good works were of no importance, they inserted in
their Litany for Sunday morning worship a number of petitions which
were alone enough to give that charge the lie. The petitions were
as follows:--

O! that we might never see a necessitous person go unrelieved!
O! that we might see none suffer for want of clothing!
O! that we might be eyes to the blind and feet to the lame!
O! that we could refresh the heart of the Fatherless!
O! that we could mitigate the burden of the labouring man, and be
ourselves not ministered unto but minister!
Feed its with that princely repast of solacing others!
O! that the blessing of him who was ready to perish might come
upon us!
Yea! may our hearts rejoice to see it go well with our enemies.

Again, therefore, as in their hymns, the Brethren laid stress on the
humane element in Christianity.134

But their next retort to their enemies was the grandest of all. At
a Synod held in Lindsey House, they resolved that a Book of Statutes
was needed, and requested Zinzendorf to prepare one {1754.}. The
Count was in a quandary. He could see that a Book of Statutes was
required, but he could not decide what form it should take. If he
framed the laws in his own language, his critics would accuse him of
departing from the Scriptures; and if he used the language of
Scripture, the same critics would accuse him of hedging and of
having some private interpretation of the Bible. At length he
decided to use the language of Scripture. He was so afraid of
causing offence that, Greek scholar though he was, he felt bound to
adhere to the Authorised Version. If Zinzendorf had used his own
translation his enemies would have accused him of tampering with the
Word of God. The book appeared. It was entitled, Statutes: or the
General Principles of Practical Christianity, extracted out of the
New Testament. It was designed for the use of all English
Moravians, and was sanctioned and adopted by the Synod on May 12th,
1755. It was thorough and systematic. For fathers and mothers, for
sons and daughters, for masters and servants, for governors and
governed, for business men, for bishops and pastors, the appropriate
commandments were selected from the New Testament. In a printed
notice on the title page, the Brethren explained their own
interpretation of those commandments. "Lest it should be thought,"
they said, "that they seek, perhaps, some subterfuge in the
pretended indeterminate nature of Scripture-style, they know very
well that it becomes them to understand every precept and obligation
in the same manner as the generality of serious Christians
understand the same (and this is a thing, God be praised, pretty
well fixed), or, if at all differently, then always stricter." The
purpose of the book was clear. It was a handy guide to daily
conduct. It was meant to be learned by heart, and was issued in
such size and form that it could be carried about in the pocket. It
was "a faithful monitor to souls who, having been first washed
through the blood of Jesus, do now live in the Spirit, to walk also
in the Spirit." To the Brethren this little Christian guide was a
treasure. As long as they ordered their daily conduct by these
"convenient rules for the house of their pilgrimage," they could
smile at the sneers of Rimius and his supporters. The Moravian
influence in England was now at high tide. At the very time when
their enemies were denouncing them as immoral Antinomians, they
established their strongest congregations at Fulneck, Gomersal,
Wyke, Mirfield, Dukinfield, Bristol, and Gracehill {1755.}; and in
all their congregations the "Statutes" were enforced with an iron

Thus did the Brethren repel the attacks of their assailants. From
this chapter one certain conclusion follows. The very fact that the
Brethren were so fiercely attacked is a proof how strong they were.
As the reader wanders over England, he may see, if he knows where
to look, memorials of their bygone labours. In Northampton is an
auction room that was once a Moravian chapel. In Bullock Smithy is
a row of cottages named "Chapel Houses," where now the Brethren are
forgotten. In a private house at Bolton, Lancashire, will be found
a cupboard that was once a Moravian Pulpit. In Wiltshire stands the
"two o'clock chapel," where Cennick used to preach. We may learn
much from such memorials as these. We may learn that the Brethren
played a far greater part in the Evangelical Revival than most
historians have recognised; that they worked more like the unseen
leaven than like the spreading mustard tree; that they hankered not
after earthly pomp, and despised what the world calls success; and
that, reviled, insulted, and misrepresented, they pursued their
quiet way, content with the reward which man cannot give.



In order to have a clear view of the events recorded in this
chapter, we must bear in mind that the Brethren worked according to
a definite Plan; they generally formed their "Plan" by means of the
Lot; and this "Plan," speaking broadly, was of a threefold nature.
The Brethren had three ideals: First, they were not sectarians.
Instead of trying to extend the Moravian Church at the expense of
other denominations, they consistently endeavoured, wherever they
went, to preach a broad and comprehensive Gospel, to avoid
theological disputes, to make peace between the sects, and to unite
Christians of all shades of belief in common devotion to a common
Lord. Secondly, by establishing settlements, they endeavoured to
unite the secular and the sacred. At these settlements they
deliberately adopted, for purely religious purposes, a form of
voluntary religious socialism. They were not, however, socialists
or communists by conviction; they had no desire to alter the laws of
property; and they established their communistic organization, not
from any political motives, but because they felt that, for the time
at least, it would be the most economical, would foster Christian
fellowship, would sanctify daily labour, and would enable them, poor
men though they were, to find ways and means for the spread of the
Gospel. And thirdly, the Brethren would preach that Gospel to all
men, civilized or savage, who had not heard it before. With these
three ideals before us, we trace their footsteps in North America.

The first impulse sprang from the kindness of Zinzendorf's heart.
At Görlitz, a town a few miles from Herrnhut, there dwelt a small
body of Schwenkfelders; and the King of Saxony issued an edict
banishing them from his dominions {1733.}. As soon as Zinzendorf
heard of their troubles he longed to find them a home. He opened
negotiations with the trustees of the Colony of Georgia. The
negotiations were successful. The Governor of Georgia, General
Oglethorpe, was glad to welcome good workmen; a parcel of land was
offered, and the poor Schwenkfelders, accompanied by Böhnisch, a
Moravian Brother, set off for their American home. For some reason,
however, they changed their minds on the way, and, instead of
settling down in Georgia, went on to Pennsylvania. The land in
Georgia was now crying out for settlers. At Herrnhut trouble was
brewing. If the spirit of persecution continued raging, the
Brethren themselves might soon be in need of a home. The Count took
time by the forelock. As soon as the storm burst over Herrnhut, the
Brethren might have to fly; and, therefore, he now sent Spangenberg
to arrange terms with General Oglethorpe. Again the negotiations
were successful; the General offered the Brethren a hundred acres;
and a few weeks later, led by Spangenberg, the first batch of
Moravian colonists arrived in Georgia {1734.}. The next batch was
the famous company on the Simmonds. The new settlement was on the
banks of the Savannah River. For some years, with Spangenberg as
general manager, the Brethren tried to found a flourishing farm
colony. The learned Spangenberg was a practical man. In spite of
the fact that he had been a University lecturer, he now put his hand
to the plough like a labourer to the manner born. He was the
business agent; he was the cashier; he was the spiritual leader; he
was the architect; and he was the medical adviser. As the climate
of Georgia was utterly different from the climate of Saxony, he
perceived at once that the Brethren would have to be careful in
matters of diet, and rather astonished the Sisters by giving them
detailed instructions about the cooking of rice and beef. The
difference between him and Zinzendorf was enormous. At St. Croix, a
couple of years before, a band of Moravian Missionaries had died of
fever; and while Zinzendorf immortalized their exploits in a hymn,
the practical Spangenberg calmly considered how such heroic
tragedies could be prevented in the future. In political matters he
was equally far-seeing. As the Brethren were now in an English
colony, it was, he said, their plain duty to be naturalized as
Englishmen as soon as possible; and, therefore, in a letter to
Zinzendorf, he implored him to become a British subject himself, to
secure for the Brethren the rights of English citizens, and, above
all, if possible to obtain letters patent relieving the Brethren
from the obligation to render military service. But on Zinzendorf
all this wisdom was thrown away. Already the ruin of the colony was
in sight. At the very time when the Brethren's labours should have
been crowned with success, Captain Jenkins, at the bar of the House
of Commons, was telling how his ear had been cut off by Spaniards
{1738.}. The great war between England and Spain broke out. The
chief aim of Spain was to destroy our colonial supremacy in America.
Spanish soldiers threatened Georgia. The Brethren were summoned to
take to arms and help to defend the colony against the foe. But the
Brethren objected to taking arms at all. The farm colony was
abandoned; and the scene shifts to Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, the good Spangenberg had been busy in Pennsylvania,
looking after the interests of the Schwenkfelders. He attended
their meetings, wore their clothing--a green coat, without buttons
or pockets--studied the works of Schwenkfeld, and organized them
into what he called an "Economy." In other words, he taught them to
help each other by joining in common work on a communist basis. At
the same time, he tried to teach them to be a little more
broad-minded, and not to quarrel so much with other Christians. But
the more he talked of brotherly love the more bigoted the poor
Schwenkfelders became. At this time the colony had become a nest of
fanatics. For some years, in response to the generous offers of
Thomas Penn, all sorts of persecuted refugees had fled to
Pennsylvania; and now the land was infested by a motley group of
Episcopalians, Quakers, Baptists, Separatists, Sabbatarians,
Unitarians, Lutherans, Calvinists, Memnonites, Presbyterians,
Independents, Inspired Prophets, Hermits, Newborn Ones, Dunckers,
and Protestant Monks and Nuns. Thus the land was filled with
"religions" and almost empty of religion. Instead of attending to
the spiritual needs of the people, each Church or sect was trying to
prove itself in the right and all the others in the wrong; and the
only principle on which they agreed was the principle of disagreeing
with each other. The result was heathendom and babel. Most of the
people attended neither church nor chapel; most of the parents were
unbaptized, and brought up their children in ignorance; and,
according to a popular proverb of the day, to say that a man
professed the Pennsylvania religion was a polite way of calling him
an infidel.

As soon, therefore, as Zinzendorf heard from Spangenberg of these
disgraceful quarrels a glorious vision rose before his mind; and the
conviction flashed upon him that Pennsylvania was the spot where the
Brethren's broad evangel was needed most. There, in the midst of
the quarrelling sects he would plant the lily of peace; there, where
the cause of unity seemed hopeless, he would realize the prayer of
Christ, "that they all may be one." For two reason, America seemed
to him the true home of the ideal Church of the Brethren. First,
there was no State Church; and, therefore, whatever line he took, he
could not be accused of causing a schism. Secondly, there was
religious liberty; and, therefore, he could work out his ideas
without fear of being checked by edicts. For these reasons he first
sent out another batch of colonists, led by Bishop Nitschmann; and
then, in due time, he arrived on the scene himself. The first move
had the promise of good. At the spot the Lehigh and the Monocany
meet the Brethren had purchased a plot of ground {1741}; they all
lived together in one log-house; they proposed to build a settlement
like Herrnhut; and there, one immortal Christmas Eve, Count
Zinzendorf conducted a consecration service. Above them shone the
keen, cold stars, God's messengers of peace; around them ranged the
babel of strife; and the Count, remembering how the Prince of Peace
had been born in a humble wayside lodging, named the future
settlement Bethlehem. The name had a twofold meaning. It was a
token of the Brethren's mission of peace; and it reminded them that
the future settlement was to be a "House of Bread" for their

The Count was now in his element. For two years he did his best to
teach the quarrelling sects in Pennsylvania to help and esteem each
other; and the bond of union he set before them was a common
experience of the redeeming grace of Christ. He had come to
America, not as a Moravian Bishop, but as a Lutheran clergyman; and
he was so afraid of being suspected of sectarian motives that,
before he set out from London, he had purposely laid his episcopal
office aside. For some months, therefore, he now acted as Lutheran
clergyman to a Lutheran congregation in Philadelphia; and meanwhile
he issued a circular, inviting German Christians of all
denominations to meet in Conference. His purpose, to use his own
phrase, was to establish a grand "Congregation of God in the
Spirit." At first the outlook was hopeful. From all sects deputies
came, and a series of "Pennsylvanian Synods" was held. Again,
however, the Count was misled by his own ignorance of history. At
this time he held the erroneous view that the Union of Sendomir in
Poland (1570) was a beautiful union of churches brought about by the
efforts of the Brethren; he imagined also that the Bohemian
Confession (1575) had been drawn up by the Brethren; and, therefore,
he very naturally concluded that what the Brethren had accomplished
in Poland and Bohemia they could accomplish again in Pennsylvania.
But the stern facts of the case were all against him. At the very
time when he was endeavouring to establish a "Congregation of God in
the Spirit" in Pennsylvania, he heard that his own Brethren in
Germany were departing from his ideals; and, therefore, he had to
return to Germany, and hand on his American work to Spangenberg

For that task the broad-minded Spangenberg was admirably fitted, and
now he held a number of titles supposed to define his mission.
First, he was officially appointed "General Elder" in America;
second, he was consecrated a Bishop, and was thus head of the
American Moravian Church; and third, he was "Vicarius generalis
episcoporum"; i.e., General Vicar of the Bishops. For the next four
years the Pennsylvania Synods, with the broad-minded Spangenberg as
President, continued to meet with more or less regularity. In 1744
they met twice; in 1745 three times; in 1746 four times; in 1747
three times; and in 1748 twice. But gradually the Synods altered in
character. At first representatives attended from a dozen different
bodies; then only Lutherans, Calvinists and Moravians; then only


Back to Full Books