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I felt my heart strangely warmed; I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation ; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”
Now the two brothers were new, regenerated men. Having obtained the abiding witness of the pardoning mercy of God which they had so long unsuccessfully endeavored to seek by works of righteousness and the law, they longed to make known the great salvation thus attainable by all who earnestly seek it. Wherever they went they preached this truth, and that most extraordinary revival of primitive faith and piety followed their pious labors, and a reformation which has now spread so "sweet a savour of Christ” through so large a portion of our world.
Before he left Georgia Mr. John Wesley resolved to visit Herrnhut, and on his arrival was deeply impressed with the order and discipline of the Moravian Church, but still more did he delight in the religious discourses and experience of the Brethren. He was greatly confirmed in those views of the truth which he had received, and was preparing to preach with a publicity and effect unexampled since the apostolic days. Returning from Germany, he commenced immediately, with great diligence, to preach repentance for sin, penitential sorrow, justification by faith, with the joy, peace, and holiness which followed it.
In 1738, under the advice and encouragement of Peter Boehler, Mr. Wesley commenced, in London, his third Methodist society. The first was at Oxford, from 1729 to 1736; the second in Savannah, and discontinued when he returned to England. This last society met at Fetter-Lane, in connection with the Moravian Brethren; but in 17-40 a separation took place, the father of Methodism selecting the Foundry for a place of worship, and the Moravians returning to their original house in Fetter-Lane, London. Identified as the Wesleys and the earliest Methodism were with the Moravian Brethren, this reference to them must not be thought foreign to our subject.
The Moravians did not long confine their Christian labors to the metropolis of Great Britain. In the short space of six years they occupied no less than sixteen chapels in Ireland, besides preaching at forty other places. Upon the European continent they visited almost every Protestant kingdom, forming religious settlements in Holland and Denmark, and visiting Norway, Sweden, and Prussia for the same pious purpose. Their missionaries went to Greenland, South Africa, and the West Indies, with the glad news of salvation.
The Moravians left Georgia in 1740, and Whitefield, having purchased land in Pennsylvania, he invited them there to build a large schoolhouse for the instruction of the negroes. Readily accepting the invitation, the tract was called Nazareth, and in a few years they purchased it. Zinzendorf joined them in the next year, with a number of his followers, when Bethlehem was commenced in 1741, and this has ever since been the Hernhutt of America. Ten years afterward a large tract was purchased in North Carolina, and named Wuchovia. It was then a dense forest, and its first colony called Bethabara. Then soon followed more at Bethany and Salem. Congregations were formed in New York, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Newport, on Staten Island, and other places, while a number of missionary stations extended themselves among the Indians.
In 1755 Count Zinzendorf took up his final abode at Bethelsdorf, continuing his active labors, but with impaired health. Early on the morning of May 9, 1760, he sent for his family, and, unable to speak, he raised himself in the bed, looking upon them with a countenance filled with affection and peace, then reclining his head and closing his eyes, he gently fell asleep in his Saviour. He was sixty years old, and was buried at Hernhutt, crowds of people flocking there to share the last honors shown to this remarkable and pious man. Thus he lived and died, raised up by the Almighty, with peculiar talents for the great work which he had allotted him. He was the instrument in the hand of God to elevate the Brethren's Church from its ruins, and inspire its members with fresh zeal for the glory of the Lord and the advancement of his kingdom in the earth.
Upon the restoration of peace, after the Revolution, provincial conferences were organized at Bethlehem, and Salem, North Carolina. Bishop Spangenberg died in 1792, at the advanced age of eighty-eight. He had conducted the earliest company of Brethren to North America, in 1735, and for many years superintended these establishments. He spent a very laborious life, and was distinguished for faith in his Saviour, and fervent love and zeal to him, which traits shone with undiminished luster to the close of his pilgrimage.
The Indian tribes of North America presented a wide field of extensive usefulness to the Moravian Brethren, and here they early commenced their missionary efforts. We have noticed their visit to Georgia in 1734, but the war between Great Britain and Spain compelled them to abandon that mission in 1739. Bethlehem became the next center of their religious operations. Congress
FOURTH SERIES, VOL. XI.-6
granted to them twelve thousand acres of land in Ohio, on the Muskingum River, which they endeavored to render available for the Indian missions. To these were also added another tract in Erie County, by the Legislature of Pennsylvania, in 1791. The Gospel of the Redeemer was thus carried to these poor wandering children of the forest, not only in word but in power. Successful missions were established on the Lehigh, the Susquehanna, and the Muskingum.
Commencing with these missions in 1740, the records of the Brethren for one hundred years show that from thirteen hundred to fourteen hundred children were baptized in the Christian faith. Such were among the blessed results which followed the missionary trials and exertions of Ziesberger, Heckewelder, Senseman, Youngman, Edwards, and Young. Ziesberger was the foremost, and died in 1808, at Goshen, a missionary settlement in Canada. He reached the advanced age of eighty-seven years and seven months. Totally blind, his last illness was short, and the lamp of a long life burned mildly away. The only thing that troubled him, he said, "was the present spiritual state of his Indian people.” The Indians around his dying couch replied, “My father, forgive us all we have done to grieve you. We will surrender our hearts to our Saviour, and live alone for him in the world.” Blessing them fervently, the venerable man of God continued: “I am going, my people, to rest from all my labors, and be at home with the Lord.” When he ceased to breathe the whole party knelt down and prayed. No other man, probably, was better acquainted with the manners, usages, and minds of the Indian tribes, than Zeisberger. His usefulness among them was very great. Had he sought power and honor for himself, his influence with the Iroquois and Delawares would have obtained it; but his only glory was that of his blessed Redeemer.
The Moravian is emphatically a Missionary Church. On every continent, and in lands whose existence was not imagined four centuries ago, the Churches of the Moravian Unity are now joining in thanksgiving and praise to God our Saviour. Numbering only about twenty thousand members at this time, they have three hundred missionaries in foreign lands, about seventy stations, and over seventy-one thousand converts. These are scattered through the West Indies, Central and South America, Greenland, Labrador, Great Britain, the continent of Europe, Russia, the confines of China, and South Africa. In our own country they have religious establishments in New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio. Indiana, and Illinois.
The Home Mission on the continent of Europe is called the "Drospora," and is one of the most interesting religious works of modern Church history. Persons belonging to the Diospora do not separate from the established Churches of the land, but are visited at stated times by a Moravian missionary, who goes from house to house for prayer and the exposition of the Scriptures. The grand object of this noble and holy work is to increase the number of living members of Christ's universal Church. This is literally the realization of Spencer's 'favorite idea of ecclesiola in ecclesia. The Diospora now extended over Saxony, Prussia, Hanover, Brunswick, East Friesland, the cities of Bremen and Hamburg, Wurtemburg, Switzerland, France, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Prussia. In this last empire, the work is very extensive, the province of Livonia alone numbering two hundred and thirty-two chapels or meeting-houses, with forty thousand members. According to the latest returns, one hundred and twenty-two missionaries belong to the Diospora. The term itself is Greek, and taken from the original, diaonopūs, (1 Pet. i, 1,) beautifully referring to strangers, all truly religious people.
The Unitas Fratrum, or Moravians, has now existed four hundred years, and the little seed planted as early as 1457, in Bohemia and Moravia, to human appearance, was destroyed in the seventeenth century; but replanted in 1722, it has become a great tree whose lifeimparting branches now extend to both continents of our globe, and many of their islands. This little Zion stands forth among the militant Churches of the earth like another David, “strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might;" and in the fierce contest going on in the earth between light and darkness, she has triumphed mightily over Satan and the world.
ART. VI.-STEVENS'S HISTORY OF METHODISM.
The History of the Religious Movement of the Eighteenth Century, called Methodism, considered in its different Denominational Forms, and its Relations to British and American Protestantism. By ABEL STEVENS, LL. D. Vol. I, from the Origin of Methodism to the Death of Whitefield. 12mo., pp. 480. New
York: Carlton & Porter. London: Alexander Heylin, 28 Paternoster Row. This is an admirable book. It equally befits the subject, the author and the occasion. Numerous works on Methodism, in the form of histories, annals, memoirs, and the like have been written, each of which had its excellence and its use. They were intended for the most part for the Methodist community, and were rather esoteric than exoteric in their character. They unfolded the system as seen from within, and were little calculated to exert much influence on those beyond her pale. They were well for their times.
But the state of things has now materially changed. Methodism occupies a very different position in the world from what it formerly did, commands a wider influence, and is exciting the attention of a large circle of intelligent, inquiring minds. It is time that its history were written from a different stand-point, and presented in its true aspects, not only as to what it is in itself, but also as to its relation to Christendom, and especially to the Protestantism of Great Britain and the United States. This work Dr. Stevens has performed most successfully in the volume before us, so far as he has gone, and we shall look with great solicitude for the completion of his task in the succeeding volumes.
The deficiency of previous histories of Methodism arose partly from the subject and its adjuncts, and partly from the character of the authors. Those that were true to the system did not view it as it appears in the present day. They were, of necessity, somewhat timid. They wrote, like Watson, too apologetically, and thus lost the vantage ground that we occupy. Those, on the contrary, that were intended for general readers, while they contain many valuable facts and much truth, are pervaded by a secret and not very well disguised hostility to the system. Take as an illustration Southey's Life of Wesley. While in many things it does ample justice to his character and the effect of his labors, it betrays a total lack of appreciation or even comprehension of the spiritual nature of his mission. On the other hand, Isaac Taylor, while he does seem to comprehend and appreciate the spiritual aspects of early Wesleyanism, still utterly fails to do justice to its present position and its future prospects. From both or either one sees that Wesley was a man of uncommon endowments, raised up for an extraordinary work; yet in neither nor in both does his full portrait stand before you in its genuine lineaments; while the Methodism of both, especially that of Southey, is little better than a caricature. At Isaac Taylor, too, one is sometimes amused, sometimes provoked, with his self-satisfied air of superiority, as though he looked down from his assumed supereminence with a sort of disdain on the man he condescends to patronize. Such superciliousness is fatal to the character and claims of a spiritual teacher, and should of itself throw strong doubt over his capacity to present a character like that of Wesley in its true aspects.
The work now before us is everything that one could desire. It is true to the system: it looks at it from the proper point of view;