Power From On High
6. Fruit That Abides
"God has given me at length the desire of my heart.
I am with a Church whose conversation is in Heaven;
in whom is the mind that was in Christ, and who so walk as He walked."
John Wesley on the Moravians
"I believe there is one thing for which God is very angry with our land, and for which His Holy Spirit is so little among us, viz., the neglect of united prayer, the appointed means of bringing down the Holy Spirit. I say it, because I believe it, that the Scotch with all their morality so-called, and their outward decency, respectability, and love of preaching, are not a praying people. Sirs, is not this the truth? The neglect of prayer proves to my mind, that there is a large amount of practical infidelity. If the people believed that there was a real, existing, personal God, they would ask Him for what they wanted, and they would get what they asked. But they do not ask, because they do not believe or expect to receive. Why do I say this? Because I want to get Christians to remember that though preaching is one of the great means appointed by God for the conversion of sinners, yet, unless God give the increase, Paul may plant and Apollos may water in vain; and God says He will be inquired of. O ministers, excuse me,-you gave me this chance of speaking-urge upon your people to come to the prayer-meeting. O Christians, go more to the prayer-meetings than you do. And when you go to the prayer-meeting, try and realize more that there is use in prayer."- Evangelist Brownlow North to the Presbyterian General Assembly of Scotland.
"From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three; no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined; and it is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified."- The late Arthur T. Pierson, D. D., Editor "The Missionary Review."
Fruit That Abides
A GREAT traveler of that period bore the following striking testimony: "In all my journeys I have found only three objects that exceeded my expectations, viz.: the ocean, Count Zinzendorf, and the Herrnhut congregation." However extravagant this praise may appear, there was certainly some reason for such enthusiastic eulogy. The great revival which began in 1727 had continued for more than a generation, constantly growing in extent and power. Herrnhut had become a spiritual city set on a hill that could not be hid. From all parts of Europe people had come hither either to be saved or to be baptized with the Holy Ghost and with fire. John Wesley's visit to Herrnhut may truly be called typical of thousands of others.
"God has given me at length," he wrote to his brother Samuel, "the desire of my heart. 1 am with a Church whose conversation is in Heaven; in whom is the mind that was in Christ, and who so walk as He walked." In his journal he wrote: "I would gladly have spent my life here; but my Master called me to labour in another part of His vineyard." "O when shall this Christianity cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea?" "Four times I enjoyed the blessing of hearing Christian David (a carpenter) preach. Thrice he described the state of those who are weak in faith; who are justified, but have not yet a new, clean heart; who have received forgiveness through the blood of Christ, but have not received the constant indwelling of the Holy Ghost." "This he yet again explained from the Scriptures which describe the state the Apostles were in from our Lord's death (and indeed for some time before) till the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. They then had faith, otherwise He could not have prayed for them that 'their faith might not fail.' Yet they had not in the full sense 'new hearts'; neither had they received the gift of the Holy Ghost."
Who can fail to find in these lines of John Wesley the seed truths, if not the sum and substance, of those doctrines and experiences which became the mighty slogans of Methodism? Thus great revival waves continued to go out from Herrnhut, reaching ultimately to the uttermost parts of the earth. And now its great human leader, Count Zinzendorf, is about to be called home. To his family and friends the dying saint triumphantly said: "I am going to my Saviour. I am ready. There is nothing to hinder me now. I cannot say how much I love you all. Who would have believed that the prayer of Christ, 'that they all may be one,' could have been so strikingly fulfilled among us! I only asked for first-fruits among the heathen, and thousands have been given me. Are we not as in Heaven! Do we not live together like the angels! The Lord and His servants understand each other. I am ready."
A few hours later as his son-in-law pronounced the Old Testament benediction, "The Lord bless thee and keep thee, the Lord make His face shine upon thee and be gracious unto thee, the Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace," this dear man of God fell asleep in Jesus and was absent from the body and at home with his Lord.
More than four thousand followed him to his resting place on the Hutberg, among them Moravian from Holland, England, Ireland, North America and Greenland. On his tombstone the following inscription was placed:
"Here lie the remains of that immortal man of God, Nicholas Lewis, Count and Lord of Zinzendorf and Pattendorf; who through the grace of God and his own unwearied service, became the ordinary of the Brethren's Church, renewed in this eighteenth century. He was born in Dresden on May 26th, 1700, and entered into the joy of His Lord at Herrnhut on May 9th, 1760. He was appointed to bring forth fruit, and that his fruit should abide."
Bishop Evelyn Hasse has called attention to the following fruit to be found on the Moravian tree in the garden of the Lord:
"It was the Herald Church of the greatest European Revival ever known, having been a Reformed Church sixty years before the Reformation.
"It was one of the sources of the Evangelical Revival here in England, and no small factor in its spread.
"It led the way in the Missionary Revival, having as a Church, been engaged in evangelizing the heathen more than half a century before the rest of Protestantism.
"In the Educational Movement it did pioneer work, both from the religious side and also as a part of the Revival of learning.
"It published the first Protestant Hymn Book in Europe, both in Bohemian and German; it issued here in England in 1754 what Dr. Gregory in his Hymn Book of the Modern Church has described as the earliest great Catholic collection with which I am acquainted, which deserves a place beside Palgraves Treasury of Sacred Songs."
Particular attention is called to the abiding and abounding nature of two kinds of fruit above enumerated, viz.: Foreign Missions and Sacred Songs. Through its Foreign Missions the Moravian Church is best known and most beloved. Testimonials abound not only from the great Protestant Churches and Missionary Societies, but also from modern explorers and travellers such as Swen Hedin, the Roosevelts and Leut. MacMillan. Theodore Parker once said that if the Foreign Missionary movement had done nothing more than to produce such a character as Adoniram Judson, it were well worth all its cost.
The same may be affirmed of many Moravian Missionaries. Their lives and unselfish services are the glory of Christ and the Church. David Zeisberger and his sixty years of self-sacrificiiig labors among the American Indians is fruit which abides today. Frederich Martin, one of the first Moravian Missionaries to the Negroes on the island of St. Thomas, was one of the Lord's chosen vessels and a typical Moravian. He and a fellow worker were put in jail chiefly for preaching the Gospel to the Blacks. More than three months are spent in a miserable prison; but the Spirit filled missionaries gave themselves to prayer like Paul and Silas in the Phillipian dungeon. Their faithful Negro congregation, nearly 700 communicants, gather daily as near the jail as possible to join in singing and hear the sermons of their captive ministers. A great revival follows and large numbers are converted. Suddenly Count Zinzendorf arrives on his first Missionary journey, accompanied by two couples to reinforce the over-worked and imprisoned missionaries. As the ship draws near the beautiful island the Count said to his fellow workers:
"What if we find no one here? What if the missionaries are all dead?" To this one of the young workers quietly replied: "Then we are here," whereupon Count Zinzindorf uttered the oft quoted exclamation, "Gens aeterna, these Maehren!" "An eternal race, these Moravians!" The Count soon secured the freedom from jail of the sick and half-starved missionaries. He was amazed at the greatness of Frederich Martin's work and wrote back to Germany: "St. Thomas is a much more wonderful miracle than our own Herrnhut." After fourteen years of most sacrificial service Frederich Martin has reached the end of his earthly pilgrimage. More than fifty of his fellow workers have already laid down their lives. To his weeping wife the dying missionary says: "My dear heart, 1 shall probably soon go to my Saviour. Do thou always be happy in Him. With me it is unspeakably well, and if my spirit flies away to Him, please ask the Governor to permit my earthly tabernacle to rest on the plantation beside our Chapel."
When his death was announced to the congregation the place became such a scene of weeping that the service had to be brought to a sudden close. Of such trials and triumphs of faith the history of Moravian Foreign Missions is full to overflowing and they constitute our richest heritage and our most glorious and abiding fruitage. "They overcame by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives even unto death." (Rev. 12:11.)
The other great and most abiding contribution of the Moravian Church is its Hymnology. In proportion to its size it has given far more hymns to Christendom than any other Protestant denomination. This precious offering of sacred song may be traced directly to the Great Revival. In a former chapter this has already been demonstrated. The following illustrations will more fully confirm this claim.
The great Moravian poet-preacher and evangelist, John Cennick, is conducting one of his famous open air meetings. Multitudes flock to hear him and are born again through faith in the precious blood. One day a young Scotch day-laborer by name of John Montgomery is awakened and converted through the preaching of Cennick. He joins the Moravian Church and thus John and Mary Montgomery become Moravian missionaries. On a little island in the West Indies lie their earthly remains waiting for "the shout, the voice of the Archangel and the trumpet of God." Their little son James is educated in the Moravian school at Fulneck and becomes ultimately the greatest writer of hymns the Church has ever produced.
In many of the large Protestant hymn books, the following authors are generally found in the first rank: Isaac Watts, Charles Wesley and James Montgomery. The latter has certainly written some of the finest mymns in the English language. The following first lines will indicate how wide and varied their scope as well as how rich and spiritual their substance:
"Angels, from the realms of glory
Wing your flight o'er all the earth;"
"Hail to the Lord's anointed,
Great David's greater Son;"
"Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter's power;"
"In the hour of trial,
Jesus, plead for me;"
"Hark the song of jubilee,
Loud as mighty thunders roar;"
"The Lord is my Shepherd, no want shall I know;
1 feed in green pastures, safe-folded I rest;"
"Sing we the song of those who stand
Around the eternal Throne;"
"Servant of God, well done!
Rest from thy loved employ;"
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire,
Uttered or unexpressed;"
"Sow in the morn thy seed,
At eve hold not thy hand;"
"Come to Calvary's holy mountain
Sinners, ruined by the fall;"
"Jesus, our best beloved Friend,
Draw out our souls in pure desire;
Jesus, in love to us descend,
Baptize us with Thy Spirit's fire."
"For ever with the Lord!
Amen, so let it be!
Life from the dead is in that word,
At a great missionary meeting in Liverpool over which the famous Methodist preacher and scholar, Dr. Adam Clarke presided, James Montgomery was one of the speakers. The beloved poet often referred to his dear parents who laid down their lives for Christ in a foreign field and exclaimed: "They finished well. 1, too, am the son of a missionary." He closed his address on this occasion by reciting a missionary hymn which he had just composed, viz., the one beginning:
"Hail to the Lord's Anointed."
Dr. Adam Clarke was so impressed by its spiritual depth and beauty that he requested the author's permission to publish it in his now famous Commentary. Thus James Montgomery's seven stanzas occupy nearly a full page in this great work in connection with the seventy-second Psalm, of which it is a partial paraphrase. Dr. Clarke introduced it with this note:
"The following poetical version of some of the principal passages of the foregoing Psalm was made and kindly given me by my much respected friend, James Montgomery, Esq., of Sheffield. I need not tell the intelligent reader that he has seized the spirit and exhibited some of the principal beauties of the Hebrew bard; though, (to use his own words in his letter to me) his 'hand trembled to touch the harp of Zion.' 1 take the liberty here to register a wish which I have strongly expressed to himself, that he would favor the Church of God with a metrical version of the whole Book."
One more instance may be given of the abiding fruit of this great revival both as it relates to foreign missions and the songs of Zion. About the same time as the preceding incident took place, Dr. Thomas Chalmers was on his way to London to preach the annual Missionary sermon for one of the great societies-a sermon which gave him a world-wide reputation as a Christian thinker and orator. On his way to this appointment he turns aside to Sheffield in order to become personally acquainted with James Montgomery and gather additional facts and inspiration for his great arguments. This visit was described years after in a letter from Montgomery to Dr. William Hanna and is found in his excellent biography of Dr. Chalmers. It is in part as follows:
"On a dark night in April (I have forgotten the year) two strangers called at my house in Sheffield; one of whom introduced himself as Mr. Smith, bookseller of Glasgow, and his companion as the Rev. Dr. Chalmers of the same city. Of course I was glad to become personally acquainted with so great and good a man, and we soon were earnestly engaged in conversation on subjects endeared to us both. Though at first I found it difficult to take in and decipher his peculiar utterance, yet the thoughts that spoke themselves through the seemingly uncouth words, came so quick and thick upon me from his lips, that I could not help understanding them; till being myself aroused into unwonted volubility of speech, I responded as promptly as they were made to his numerous and searching inquiries concerning the Moravians, among whom I was born, but especially respecting their scriptural method of evangelizing and civilizing barbarian tribes. In the outset he told me that he had come directly from Fulneck, one of our principal establishments in England, and where there is an academy for the education of children, in which I had been myself a pupil about ten years in the last century. At the time there were many scholars from the North, as well as Irish and English boarders, there. My visitor said that he had invited all the Scotch lads to meet him at the inn, and 'how many think you, there were of them?' he asked me. 'Indeed, I cannot tell,' I replied. He answered: 'There were saxtain or saventain.' (I cannot pretend to spell the numbers as he pronounced them to my unpracticed ear) and I was so taken by surprise that I exclaimed abruptly: 'It is enough to corrupt the English language in the Seminary.' In that moment I felt I had uttered an impertinence, though without the slightest consciousness of such an application to my hearer. Instantly recovering my presence of mind I added: 'When I was at Fulneck school, I was the only Scotch lad there.' An angel visit short and bright it was to me, and I do not remember that I ever spent an hour of more animated and delightful intercommunion with a kindred spirit in my life. Our discourse turned principally on the subject of Moravian Missions in pagan lands, and the inability of our few and small congregations to raise among themselves the pecuniary expenses of maintaining their numerous establishments in Greenland, Labrador, North and South America, the West Indies and South Africa. Hereupon Dr. Chalmers exclaimed: 'I mean to raise five hundred pounds for the Brethren's Missions this year.' 'Five hundred pounds for our poor Missions,' I cried; 'I never heard of such a thing before.' He rejoined, 'I will do it.' But while I heartily thanked him, and implicitly believed in the integrity of his intentions, I could only hope he might be able to fulfill it, and within myself I said, 'I will watch you, doctor.' I did so, and traced him through sermons, subscriptions, collections and donations, till these had realized a sum nearer six than five hundred pounds.”
How better can we close this chapter on the abiding fruit of the Great Revival as it is to be found chiefly in Moravian Missions and in Moravian Hymns than wit the touching Missionary prayer of James Montgomery, himself the indirect product of this mighty movement;
“O Spirit of the living God,
In all Thy plenitude of grace,
Where'er the foot of man hath trod,
Descend on our apostate race.
“Give tongues of fire and hearts of love
To preach the reconciling word;
Give power and unction from above,
Where'er the joyful sound is heard.
“O Spirit of the Lord, prepare
All the round earth her God to meet'
Breathe Thou abroad like morning air,
Till hearts of stone begin to beat.
“Baptize the nations; far and nigh
The triumphs of the Cross record;
The name of Jesus glorify,
Till every kindred call Him Lord!”
Back to Table of Contents