Изображения страниц

years of age. The boy learned well, among other things the ancient languages. Admiring friends urged the mother to educate him for a profession. But her means being limited, she wished him to become a merchant. His health was always delicate, his conscience tender, and his habits correct. At sixteen years of age Tersteegen was confirmed. He was apprenticed to his brother-in-law for four years. Already at the end of the first year the apprentice felt the blessed influence of Mülheim. A pious merchant took him by the hand. The prayer at the bedside of a dying pastor moved deeply his heart. One day he was sent to the town of Duisburg. Going through the forest he was seized with violent cramp, and expected to die at once. He withdrew from the highway, and prayed God for relief and restoration, that he might have time to prepare for eternity. His prayer was answered.

It is a great blessing for young people, and old ones too, to belong to an active, spiritually-minded congregation. And a great power for good a small number of zealous godly people may become, who like the Mülheimer merchant, and a certain William Hoffman, then a candidate for the ministry, encouraged meetings for prayer and praise, and kindly led young people in the ways of early piety. In moulding the mind and heart of Tersteegen this congregation is entitled to much of the credit in the production of his incomparable hymns. Until his nineteenth year he learned the business of his father. After that he worked at weaving silk ribbons. He spent his days busily at his loom, and often passed whole nights in prayer. In order to live a life of undisturbed piety he removed to a small cottage near Mülheim. Here he supported himself by weaving silk ribbons, having no one with him save a little girl during daytimes, who wound his silk for him. He lived on milk, water and meal, and never touched tea or coffee. During the day he kept in his cottage. At night, when no one could see him, he visited the huts of the poor. In this way he spent all the money he saved by means of his abstemious life. Nearly the whole of his little inheritance he gave to the needy. His relatives were

well off, but worldly and proud. They were so ashamed of Gerhart that they would not even have his name mentioned in their presence. They neglected him when sick, so that he suffered from inattention and want. In spite of this he was happy and contented in his uninterrupted meditations and communion with God. Then came a period of darkness and doubt. During five years he mourned his loss of peace. Like Cowper, he was drearily trem. bling on the verge of despondency. At length the clouds were dispelled. He was so overjoyed that he cut his finger, and with his own blood running out of the wound he wrote a form of self-dedication to Christ, and signed it with the same.

Thereafter he took Heinrich Sommer to help him at his work. He worked ten hours a day at the loom, two hours he spent in private prayer, and the rest of his waking time in writing devotional works and addressing private religious meetings. He repeatedly declined the offer of money from influential persons, who urged him to be ordained and give himself fully to the ministry of the Gospel. At length he quit his weaving, and accepted a small salary for irregular ministerial work. He also started a dispensary in his house for the relief of the poor, of which he soon had multitudes to care for and heal. He was often sick himself, often in great pain, yea waited on the sick from morning till night. He would spend whole nights at the bedside of the suffering.

Retiring to a neighboring county for rest, the people would waylay him along the road and bear him away to the nearest barn, where a congregation awaited him. During the last years of his life he was a mere shadow, when he had to quit travelling and public speaking. Thirty years of his later life were years of great bodily weakness. died in 1769, at the age of 74.


Tersteegen wrote 111 hymns, among which are many as familiar as household words in Christian homes and congregations. He was a man in some respects of singular habits and views, but strove with all the ardor and earnestness of a religious enthusiast to live a life of vital communion with Christ. Such a man as he would have been

canonized as a saint in the Roman Catholic Church.

All these hymn writers were people of intense prayerful earnestness and deep piety. Tersteegen, like Neander, was through life, by many considered a troubler in Israel. The religious life of Germany was then very cold. Great stress was laid on Orthodoxy, without giving due heed to a corresponding holiness of heart. All confirmed members of the Church were allowed to commune, no matter how wicked, which is still largely the case in certain European Churches. Tersteegen protested against this, and on account of it, he for years maintained a sort of separate relation to his Church, but never formally severed his connection with it.

The town of Mülheim on the Rhine, was noted as a centre of religious life and activity in the year 1700 as in the year 1880. It was prevailingly Reformed, then as now. A pastor of that time says: "The congregation excelled the most of those around it in religious activity, and could have had few equals in Christendom. During many years God had given it the most excellent of pastors, men noted for their learning and piety. Among these was good pastor Unterveyk, whose life and labors were a blessing to all the region around about. Through the efforts and good example of these godly men many truly pious people came to abound here, and the congregation became a model of good order and godly living. The bulk of the people led a pure and peaceable life. They were cheerful and contented. Farmers and mechanics enlivened their labor with the singing of hymns. One could rarely have found a young person at work who had not a copy of the Catechism or of some other religious book, wherewith to improve little snatches of leisure, in order to prepare himself for catechetical services." Even the little boys and girls watching the flocks and herds in the fields usually were supplied

with such books.

Lippe-Detmold has for several centuries been a stronghold of the Reformed Church. A little principality, in a territorial sense, it has always been noted for its zeal in the cause of Christ. Among the ministry and membership of the Reformed Church in the United

States it is honorably represented. In Detmold, its little capital, now numbering nearly 5,000 inhabitants, Frederick Adolph Lampe was born in 1683. His father was then the zealous pastor of its Reformed Church. The son had good teachers, and industriously improved his school and university days. At the early age of 22, he became pastor of a small congregation in Cleves. After three years he was called to the large Reformed Church of Duissburg. And three years after he was called to the large St. Stephen's Church, in Bremen. Here he labored eleven years, when, in 1720, he was called as professor at the University of Utrecht, and in 1727 he returned as pastor of St. Ansgar's Church, in Bremen. Here he died in 1729, at the age of forty-seven years. He was the author of 30 hymns, some of which are of great merit, but owing to the peculiarity of their metres have not been so extensively introduced in public worship as those of some other hymn writers.

Few of our German hymns are more generally known and used than:

"Jesus meine Zuversicht."

("Jesus my eternal trust,

And my Saviour ever liveth; This I know; and deep and just

Is the peace this knowledge givethThough death's lingering night may start Many a question in my heart.

Hope's strong chain around me bound,
Still shall twine my Saviour grasping;
And my hand of faith be found

As death left it, Jesus clasping:
No assault the foe can make,
E'er that deathless clasp shall break.")

It is a great favorite with the afflicted and the bereaved. Around the beds of disease, and at the graves of the departed, it has borne the burdens of many sorrowing hearts up to the throne of God. This hymn was written by Louisa Henrietta of Brandenburg, wife of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg, a lady of noble birth, fine culture and humble piety. She wrote four hymns, two of which are great devotional favorites. The second is a well-known penitential hymn:

"Ich will von meiner Missethat
Zum Herren mich bekehren."

Few of the millions who sing these hymns know that they were written by this godly mother of German queens. These two hymns have given her more enduring fame than the crown of Brandenburg. Unlike the most other hymn writers, she led a quiet and peaceful life, but lived in an age of cruelty and car


She was a daughter of the Prince of Orange, a royal and heroic patron of the Reformed religion, and granddaughter of the brave Admiral Coligny, who fell as a martyr to the truth in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day. Her pious mother educated and trained her with tender care. She was taught not only the usual branches belonging to a good female education, but housekeeping and all kinds of "female handicraft" as well. A fair-haired and slender girl, she grew up to be a graceful and very accomplished young lady. At nineteen she was married to the Elector of Brandenburg. At the time her father was very ill. With the cordial consent of her husband, like a loving, faithful daughter as she was, she remained with her parent and nursed him till he died.

Having performed this filial duty, she set out for Berlin, with her infant son. It was late in the autumn. The weather was already cold, and the country through which she travelled had been laid waste by the long continued_wars. Her husband and the people of Berlin expected to welcome her with joy, and were greatly pleased with the prospect of having a male heir to the throne among them. The good lady brought only the corpse of her dear child, which had died on the way. Was it perhaps to relieve this great sorrow that she wrote her celebrated funeral hymn?

Seldom have two royal hearts been wedded as were those of this Brandenburg couple. Both were sincerely pious, and loved their God and each other. After her bereavement she accompanied her husband on his many journeys, in his own and in other countries. The Prussian people had been greatly reduced in population and impoverished by war. Louise set to work to aid them in recovering from their misfortunes. She founded schools all over the country where they had been almost wholly

swept away, established model farms, and introduced the culture of the potato. Her name was on every body's lips, and the people knew not how they should sufficiently express their affection and gratitude. Her picture was hung by every fireside, and multitudes of girl babies were named "Louisa." She lived a retired life at her country house at Oranienburg, near Berlin. Her acts of charity and religion left her no time nor inclination to mix in the gay and fashionable life of the capital. She was a member of the Reformed Church, where she regularly attended service. With the Lutherans she cultivated pleasant and friendly intercourse, and often expressed a wish that the two Churches might be united.

For a number of years she had no second child. Without leaving an heir to the throne, the death of her husband would most likely occasion another war. The apprehension of this greatly troubled her. At length, on a certain Tuesday, she gave birth to a second son. For the balance of her life she hallowed every Tuesday with prayer, praise, and devout meditation. As a thank-offering she founded an Orphans' Home at Oranienburg. She died in 1667, at the age of thirty-nine years.

She was a great admirer of Paul Gerhart, the prince of German hymn writers. Under the government of a Reformed ruler, certain coercive measures were enforced against the Lutherans. This drove Gerhart from Berlin, and raised a great outcry against the tyrannical edict. One of the last acts of this good woman was to prevail on her husband to abolish this law, and grant to his Lutheran subjects liberty of conscience.

The foregoing are among the foremost hymn writers of the Reformed Church. Many others there are of less fame whose hymns are sung in Europe and America. We should hold them in grateful remembrance. For the author of a good hymn, which has the devotional aroma and unction of a true song of Zion is a benefactor to our kind. Many hymns, at first considered good, did not wear well. Because they were weak they soon fell out of use. Those which have stood the test of centuries embalm the memory of their authors

more durably than could monuments of brass or marble. Something of the personal peculiarities of their authors are interwoven with all good hymns. The tincture of their trials or triumphs flavors them. Many a good hymn, like Neander's "Wo soll ich hin, wer hilfet mir?" is but the cry of sanctified distress, set to poetry. And that hymns thus inspired by personal distress, devotion, and individual frames of mind should touch a kindred chord in many other hearts and be adapted for the singing of millions of others besides the author, only shows that a touch of sorrow and saintly discipline makes all Christians akin. Much that we have and need is the common heritage of God's people in every age and every clime.

Persevering Patience.


The circumstances of life are such that no one can expect to escape from trouble. It is the part of wisdom to meet and overcome trials and difficulties, with as much composure and serenity of mind as possible. Habits should be formed to do this, and that right early. Persevering patience in well doing is a marvellous power for good. It makes us happy within ourselves, and others are made happy by its influence. It creates welcome and good will in social relations, and secures success in what we undertake. It gives strength of character and often brings multitudes of friends. In all this lies one of the secrets of human happiness, and of the progress of mankind.

Men generally have the capacity to learn, to gain knowledge. Some can learn without much trouble, but others have to struggle hard. No one becomes learned, however gifted he may be, without hard and patient study. It requires much force of will to work oneself up to profound scholarship, even under the most favorable surroundings. No halting, hesitating, half-hearted sort of disposition will ever accomplish much in mind culture. Great educators are always persons of much patience, and great scholars and docile pupils reach their

goal by painful, persevering effort. Hence it is an error to suppose that the way of knowledge is an easy and a smooth one. Still it is the way that leads upward and onward, and he who works himself up its steep grade will, by and by, reach an eminence from which he may look down with the noblest satisfaction. Happy are they who stand in a personal relationship, or in the current of a community life, from which there comes a generous aid in well directed mind culture; but blessed are they who are endowed with those peculiar mental and moral graces, by the force of which they rise above circumstances and achieve great results in spite of them.

And if we find no paradise of luxurious ease in the sphere of education, we will hardly find it in any other department of human experience. The primary institution of the social world is the family. This is one of the foundations which God Himself laid, when He created man. We may justly sing of it:

The dearest spot on earth to me,
Is sweet, sweet home.

But, in the bosom of this sacred retreat, in this sanctuary of domestic affection, there are many burdens to be borne, and the very best and most fortunate and favored have to bear some of these. Rural life, though quite secluded and exempt from the anxiety and constant bustle of city life in great commercial centres, is still a life of toil and of much care. In all the walks and pathways of mankind, from the highest to the lowest, the law is in force which compels every one to eat his bread in the sweat of his face. We are apt to be dazzled by the glitter of fortune, and charmed by the comforts and pleasures of the rich, while we forget that, along with these advantages, go trials, troubles, cares, anxieties, responsibilities, and dangers, which the humble and the poor are not called upon to meet.

But if it be true that nowhere, within this world of sin and misery, a retreat can be found which is free from trouble, in which time flows in luxurious ease, and in which all rise without a struggle, what then shall we do? Would it be wise to borrow the wings of a dove and fly away? If that were possible, it would hardly answer our

aims very well. Persevering patience in the line of duty, or in some good and noble work where only good will dictates forbearance, is much more likely to bring us into a real paradise than any mere physical transports would be able to do.

solid foundation for future popularity, greatness, and power.

It was no doubt exceedingly galling, to a refined and cultivated scientist like Mr. Morse, when he sat in the gallery of the House at Washington and heard the sage law-makers, in the chamber below, explode their magazines of exquisite wit on the supposed lunacy of his great invention. He did, however, not run away in anger, nor in disgust, but stood his ground, and patiently reasoned, until Congress yielded and he had made the Electric Telegraph an accomplished fact. And no less trying were the efforts of Mr. Field, to extend the benefits of telegraphy by the laying of ocean cables. It is yet fresh in the me mory how his first effort failed, and how he immediately took steps to try it again, and that at no small risk of repu. tation and means. But the second time his efforts were crowned with victory, and now the daily news fly with lightning speed from continent to continent.

It is much easier for some persons to exercise patience, than it is for others. There is a vast difference of temper. Some have a fiery nature, with a strong sensitive leaning towards flying up and away, as soon as there is the least disturbance in the ebb and flow of the tides. Such will find it very difficult to acquire the habit of resting quietly at anchor, while the storms rage. Others are naturally cool, and some are slow, heavy, and amiably disposed to rest quietly on some pivotal centre, no matter how the rains may fall, the winds blow, or the waves roll, dash, and roar. Nevertheless, as in all other things, some find their task hard and some easy, the possibility of cultivating the great grace of a natural patience is bestowed upon all. And here rises the memory of poor Washington, whom we love to call the Christopher Columbus, a man of great father of his country, had a high tem- energy and of wonderful achievements. per. So at least Thomas Jefferson, who He went from one royal court to anwas intimately acquainted with him, has other, and appealed to kings, queens, written about him. His ardent temper princes and statesmen, for long, weary he had however under admirable con- days and years, for the purpose of realtrol. When General Braddock was sent izing his one idea. That idea was apparto this country to take command of the ently nothing extraordinary he only British forces in the French-Indian war, wanted to strike a westward course to Washington went on his staff without a reach the fabulous treasures of the East. commission. Just before the famous That was something new in those times, battle, in which the English army was and he had to labor like a giant until he cut to pieces and almost entirely secured the means to fit out an expedestroyed, the young aid volunteered to dition. And even when he bad at last give some kindly advice to the com- gained that point, his troubles were by mander in chief relative to the peculia- no means ended. By hard struggles he rities of Indian warfare, but only re- secured his ships, and laid in his supceived, in return for his well meant and plies, and gathered a crew. Finally he timely counsel, from his British superior, sailed. His mariners grew weary, for a full round of curses and of ungentle- the voyage was long, uncertain, and manly abuse. Most men would have dangerous. After many days, the spirit, promptly withdrawn from Braddock's the ghostly demon of mutiny began to staff, under the pressure of such provo- take possession of his men. It was by cation; but Washington did no such a masterly stroke of administrative thing-both prudence and patriotism ability that he prevailed on them, to dictated to him a different course. He have a little more patience and persevere. remained quietly in his place, and when Good luck, as men are in the habit of the army fell into ambush and was mer- calling it, suddenly dawned upon him cilessly cut up, he fought at the risk of one morning, and just in the nick of his life from the beginning to the bitter time to save him from defeat end of the battle. Here patience did thought he had struck the Islands of her perfect work, and here she laid a the Eist and had reached his goal,


« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »