« Prev Chapter VII. The Pilgrim Band, 1736–1743. Next »


THE PILGRIM BAND, 1736–1743.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Nothing,” replied the messenger.

“Then,” said the King, “he is no fool.”

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

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

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

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

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

“Then we are there,” replied Weber.

Gens aeterna, these Moravians,” exclaimed the Count.

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

“Where are the Brethren?” said he to a negro.

“They are all in prison,” was the startling answer.

“How long?” asked the Count.

“Over three months.”

“What are the negroes doing in the meantime?”

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

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

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

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

At the second Synod, held at the Moor Hotel in Gotha, the Count explained his projects still more clearly {1740.}, and made the most astounding speech that had yet fallen from his lips. “It is,” he declared, “the duty of our Bishops to defend the rights of the Protestant Moravian Church, and the duty of all the congregation to be loyal to that Church. It is absolutely necessary, for the sake of Christ’s work, that our Church be recognized as a true Church. She is a true Church of God; she is in the world to further the Saviour’s cause; and people can belong to her just as much as to any other.” If these words meant anything at all, they meant, of course, that Zinzendorf, like the Moravians themselves, insisted on the independent existence of the Moravian Church; and, to prove that he really did mean this, he had Polycarp Müller consecrated a Bishop. And yet, at the same time, the Count insisted that the Brethren were not to value their Church for her own sake. They were not to try to extend the Church as such; they were not to proselytize from other Churches; they were to regard her rather as a house of call for the “scattered” in all the churches;9494See 1 Peter i. 1: “Peter to the strangers scattered.” The Greek word is diaspora; this is the origin of the Moravian phrase, “Diaspora Work.” and, above all, they must ever remember that as soon as they had done their work their Church would cease to exist. If this puzzles the reader he must not be distressed. It was equally puzzling to some of Zinzendorf’s followers. Bishop Polycarp Müller confessed that he could never understand it. At bottom, however, the Count’s idea was clear. He still had a healthy horror of sects and splits; he still regarded the Brethren’s Church as a “Church within the Church”; he still insisted, with perfect truth, that as they had no distinctive doctrine they could not be condemned as a nonconforming sect; and the goal for which he was straining was that wheresoever the Brethren went they should endeavour not to extend their own borders, but rather to serve as a bond of union evangelical Christians of all denominations.

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

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

And now, at a Synod held in London, the Brethren cleared the decks for action, and took their stand on the stage of history as a free, independent Church of Christ {1741.}. The situation was alarming. Of all the Protestant Churches in Europe, the Church of the Brethren was the broadest in doctrine and the most independent in action; and yet, during the last few years, the Brethren were actually in danger of bending the knee to a Pope. The Pope in question was Leonard Dober. At the time when Herrnhut was founded, the Brethren had elected a governing board of twelve Elders. Of these twelve Elders, four Over-Elders were set apart for spiritual purposes; and of these four Over-Elders, one was specially chosen as Chief Elder. The first Chief Elder was Augustin Neisser, and the second Martin Linner. As long as the office lay in Linner’s hands, there was no danger of the Chief Elder becoming a Pope. He was poor; he was humble; he was weak in health; and he spent his time in praying for the Church and attending to the spiritual needs of the Single Brethren. But gradually the situation altered. For the last six years the office had been held by Leonard Dober. He had been elected by Lot, and was, therefore, supposed to possess Divine authority. He was General Elder of the whole Brethren’s Church. He had become the supreme authority in spiritual matters. He had authority over Zinzendorf himself, over all the Bishops, over all the members of the Pilgrim Band, over all Moravian Brethren at Herrnhut, over the pioneers in England and North America, over the missionaries in Greenland, the West Indies, South Africa and Surinam. He had become a spiritual referee. As the work extended, his duties and powers increased. He was Elder, not merely of the Brethren’s Church, but of that ideal “Community of Jesus” which ever swam before the vision of the Count. He was becoming a court of appeal in cases of dispute. Already disagreements were rising among the Brethren. At Herrnhut dwelt the old-fashioned, sober, strict Moravians. At Herrnhaag the Brethren, with their freer notions, were already showing dangerous signs of fanaticism. At Pilgerruh, in Holstein, another body were being tempted to break from the Count altogether. And above these disagreeing parties the General Elder sat supreme. His position had become impossible. He was supposed to be above all party disputes; he was the friend of all, the intercessor for all, the broad-minded ideal Brother; and yet, if an actual dispute arose, he would be expected to give a binding decision. For these manifold duties Dober felt unfit; he had no desire to become a Protestant Pope; and, therefore, being a modest man, he wrote to the Conference at Marienborn, and asked for leave to lay down his office. The question was submitted to the Lot. The Lot allowed Dober to resign. The situation was now more dangerous than ever. The Brethren were in a quandary. They could never do without a General Elder. If they did they would cease to be a true “Community of Jesus,” and degenerate into a mere party-sect. At last, at a house in Red Lion Street, London, they met to thrash out the question. For the third time a critical question was submitted to the decision of the Lot {Sept. 16th, 1741.}. “As we began to think about the Eldership,” says Zinzendorf himself, in telling the story, “it occurred to us to accept the Saviour as Elder. At the beginning of our deliberations we opened the Textbook. On the one page stood the words, ‘Let us open the door to Christ’; on the other, ‘Thus saith the Lord, etc.; your Master, etc.; show me to my children and to the work of my hands. Away to Jesus! Away! etc.’ Forthwith and with one consent we resolved to have no other than Him as our General Elder. He sanctioned it.9595i.e. By the Lot. It was just Congregation Day. We looked at the Watchword for the day. It ran: ‘The glory of the Lord filled the house. We bow before the Lamb’s face, etc.’ We asked permission.9696i.e. By the Lot. This is what Zinzendorf’s language really means. We obtained it. We sang with unequalled emotion: ‘Come, then, for we belong to Thee, and bless us inexpressibly.’” As the story just quoted was written by the poetic Count, it has been supposed that in recording this famous event he added a spiritual flavour of his own. But in this case he was telling the literal truth. At that Conference the Brethren deliberately resolved to ask Christ to undertake the office which had hitherto been held by Leonard Dober; and, to put the matter beyond all doubt, they inscribed on their minutes the resolution: “That the office of General Elder be abolished, and be transferred to the Saviour.”9797But this applied to Europe only. In America Bishop Spangenberg was still Chief Elder; and Christ was not recognized as Chief Elder there till 1748. What caused this strange incongruity? How could the Brethren recognize a man as Chief Elder in America and the Lord Christ as Chief Elder in Europe? The explanation is that in each case the question was settled by the Lot; and the Brethren themselves asked in bewilderment why our Lord would not at first consent to be Chief Elder in America. At first sight that resolution savours both of blasphemy and of pride; and Ritschl, the great theologian, declares that the Brethren put themselves on a pedestal above all other Churches. For that judgment Moravian writers have largely been to blame. It has been asserted again and again that on that famous “Memorial Day” the Brethren made a “special covenant” with Christ. For that legend Bishop Spangenberg was partly responsible. As that godly writer, some thirty years later, was writing the story of these transactions, he allowed his pious imagination to cast a halo over the facts; and, therefore, he penned the misleading sentence that the chief concern of the Brethren was that Christ “would condescend to enter into a special covenant with His poor Brethren’s people, and take us as his peculiar property.” For that statement there is not a shadow of evidence. The whole story of the “special covenant” is a myth. In consulting the Lot the Brethren showed their faith; in passing their resolution they showed their wisdom; and the meaning of the resolution was that henceforth the Brethren rejected all human authority in spiritual matters, recognized Christ alone as the Head of the Church, and thereby became the first free Church in Europe. Instead of bowing to any human authority they proceeded now to manage their own affairs; they elected by Lot a Conference of Twelve, and thus laid the foundations of that democratic system of government which exists at the present day. They were thrilled with the joy of their experience; they felt that now, at length, they were free indeed; they resolved that the joyful news should be published in all the congregations on the same day (November 13th); and henceforward that day was held in honour as the day when the Brethren gained their freedom and bowed to the will and law of Christ alone.

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

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

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

« Prev Chapter VII. The Pilgrim Band, 1736–1743. Next »
VIEWNAME is workSection