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Work at Berlin

That same year Gerhardt accepted the deaconry at the Nicolaikirche in Berlin, and began his work in the summer of 1657. He seems to have had some hesitation about leaving Mittenwalde, because it was only "after fervent prayer and mature deliberation," that he accepted the call to Berlin. However, without doubt he and Frau Gerhardt were glad to be again among such friends as Georg Lilius and Michael Schirmer whose tastes were so similar to their own.

When Gerhardt came to Berlin he entered a city full of sharp strife between the Lutheran and the Reformed clergy; the Great Elector was by inheritance and by education in the Netherlands where he spent four years strongly in favor of the Reformed Church. Gerhardt on the other hand 4 held the security of the Lutheran faith very dear. When hostilities between the clergy began to disturb the peace, the Elector issued on the 2d of June, 1662, an edict1010This mandate was a renewal of the edict issued by his grandfather on Feb. 24, 1614, demanding "moderation and modesty in the pulpit." the purpose of which was to maintain harmony between Reformed and Lutheran clergymen. Its only effect was, however, to fan the flames of the very conflagration he sought so hard to quench. The unconciliatory spirit was encouraged from Wittenberg, too, where Theology of Controversy had reached its highest pitch through Calovius, whose advice and judgment Gerhardt prized. His inclination toward Wittenberg is seen also in various Latin poems for special occasions.

Gerhardt did not seek the quarrel, but was drawn forcibly into it; he was concerned throughout the controversy in keeping a clear conscience and preserving the confession of the Lutheran Church. In all the documents that were issued in this period between the Magistrate, the "Stünde" and the Elector it is said of him that he was always pacific and conciliatory. Being a strong adherent of all the symbolic books, including the Book of Concord, he could not conscientiously sign the edict. He was accordingly dismissed. The citizens of Berlin espoused his cause and appealed to the Magistrate who testified that Gerhardt had never "scorned nor rebuked the faith of the Elector." Also his influential patron, Mayor Zarlang, tried to reinstate him, but Gerhardt could not renounce his adherence to the Concordienformel, so in 1666 his position was filled by another. Nor on the other hand can the Elector be blamed for his stand; he wished only to have peace between the adherents of the two beliefs, and was sincere in the thought that the Concordienformel merely fomented strife.


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