"> '); Prevailing Intercessory Prayer : August Francke: His Private Life

Francke's Private Life

August Hermann Francke

His Private Life.



The following comes from the Memoir published by the American Sunday School Union:

We have thus far regarded Francke almost entirely as a public character. We would now willingly contemplate his private life, and set him before the reader in the relations of husband, father, and friend. This will, however, be impossible, as but a few facts have been preserved, which throw any light upon this part of his history. His public employments and duties were alone noticed by his early biographers, and time has now drawn its veil over the interesting scene of his family circle.

His Marriage

He married, about the time of his appointment to the professorship at Halle, an amiable and pious lady, with whom he lived in the happiest manner, until his death. He had three children. Of these, the first died in infancy, the second lived, and followed the footsteps of his father; became a professor of Theology, arch-deacon of the Church of St. Mary in Halle, and director of the Orphan House. The youngest child, a daughter, was married to the learned and excellent Frelinghausen, some of whose descendants are still living at Halle. One of them, Dr. Niemeier, was lately Chancellor of the University, and a Director of the Orphan House, and the institutions connected with it.

Francke did not marry until he had entered upon his thirty-second year, in June, 1694. This he did only when he had first fervently called upon God for direction and blessing, so he relates.

His wife was Anna Magdelena von Wurm, the orphan daughter of Henry Otto von Wurm, of the Mansfeldian estate of Rammelburg. She is described as a gentle, quiet spirit, a true child of God, uniting her life and heart completely to her husband's work and interests, and serving thirtythree years as his faithful companion and helper.

Two sons and one daughter were born to them. The first-born son, August Gottlieb, died while yet young. Gotthilf August, the second son, was born on the 21st of March, 1696.— Philip Jacob Spener and His Work by Marie E. Richard

His Personal Habits

The habits of Francke, as must have appeared, from the amount of labour he accomplished, were those of intense exertion. Scarcely any one department in which he laboured, would not be considered by most men as sufficient of itself. He was, in the first place, a pastor of a church: and though after he entered upon the duties of the professorship, he had one or more assistants in these labours, still they were considerable. As a professor, we have seen that he did his full share of labour. As founder of the Orphan House, he was almost constantly engaged in some way or other. How he found time, in the midst of all this, to write a volume a year, besides frequent sermons and tracts, even with the assistance of a secretary, is surprising indeed; and it becomes still more so, when we remember that he received frequent visitors, and had a large correspondence.

He Was Frugal With His Time

He was frugal in diet, sparing in sleep, and constant in devotion. We mean by this, that he obeyed the scripture rule of "praying always," or in other words, preserving always a prayerful state of mind. Besides this, he spent the first hour of every day in private devotion; and when travelling, he used to arise at four o'clock for this purpose, that his devotions might not be curtailed. After this, he began the appropriate business of the day. His first thoughts, as he himself states, were commonly directed to the value of time—and his first desires to be enabled to live every day, as though it were the first and last day of his life—the first, as if beginning anew, and with new vigour to serve the Lord; and the last, as though no time would be allowed to him here to perform what he now neglected, or to amend that which lie hastily performed.

The value he set upon time may be farther learned from a short extract from one of his lectures, in which he requests the students to make their necessary visits to him as short as possible. "I have not time to converse long with each of my visitors. I can truly say, that when I devote an hour of my life to any one, I feel that I have made him a large present, for an hour is worth more to me, than much money." He refers not here to those who needed his advice, and who remained no longer than necessary, but to those who came without any especial business, or who tarried long after it had been completed.

The little we know of his deportment in the family circle, is contained in an extract of a letter from a friend of his, who lived in his house. "At our table," says he, "the conversation was always profitable; Francke never suffered the subject to be trivial, nor did he give us opportunity, (if so inclined,) to wander from one thing to another; but employed the time either in communicating interesting intelligence in reference to the church, or engaged us in conversation on some practical topic. Sometimes he caused his little grandchildren to read a passage from scripture for each of us who sat at the table. Thus were our eating and drinking sanctified. In his house, peace and quietness reigned; there was no noise there, no anger, no bitterness, no evil speaking. All the domestic virtues were in lively exercise, and the direction of the Apostle seemed to be fully obeyed, "Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."

His Correspondence

It has already been mentioned, that his correspondence was extensive. So numerous were the letters which he was compelled to write, that he found it necessary sometimes to devote to them that time which should have been spent in rest. Not infrequently his time was so much occupied during the day, that he was not able to commence his writing until after nine o'clock at night. It is much to be regretted, that his biographers have preserved so few of his letters, inasmuch as a character like his must have appeared to peculiar advantage in his epistolary intercourse.

The following letter written in his old age to a friend in France, will give us some idea of the style of them. It is in reply to a letter in which he was informed that his writings were much esteemed by a Catholic abbot at Paris, to whom they had been useful.

"Though I would not," says he, "be puffed up on account of his respect for me, yet it gives me real pleasure; and especially when I know that it rests not upon any external advantages or dignity of mine, but simply upon the few of my writings that he has read. It gives me much satisfaction to know that what I have written concerning Christ, has pleased and edified him. I am encouraged to hope, that by the blessing of God, I shall in his case attain the great object of my desire and labour, to wit, that Christ may be glorified. I count it the greatest happiness of my life, to be made useful to the souls of men, in bringing them to a saving knowledge of the Redeemer. … Your information with regard to the abbot Ferrus, encourages me to hope that the prayers which I have offered for him, will be heard on high, and that in the great day of the Lord Jesus, I may be permitted to present him as one of my spiritual children. Give to him the assurance of my sincere love for him, and that I will not cease to pray for him as long as I live. Say to him, that I exhort him, in the name of Christ, to trust in Him alone for salvation, and to pray to him for the Holy Spirit, as a seal of the new birth. Exhort him to be instant in prayer, even though the answer may be long delayed. He will find, that none who wait upon the Lord, will be put to shame. Say to him, that the words of our Lord to Martha, 'Said I not to thee, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God,' have often strengthened me. I have kept them in my mind in the midst of trials, and when I have, in obedience to them, been believing and patient, I have sooner or later received an answer to my prayers. 

His Prayers

Of the willingness of God to hear prayer, I have lately had a remarkable proof. For the last two years my health had been bad, and although I had taken many remedies, nothing had availed to restore it. Finally, I pleaded the promise of the Lord that, 'if ye abide in me, and my word abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you,' and besought him, if it were His will, to restore me to health. This, my prayer, was answered; and so rapidly and unexpectedly to my physicians, that they said, a higher power was manifest therein. I am now at the age of sixty-four, almost as vigorous as in my youth, yet I do not perform all my accustomed duties, lest I should destroy that which the Lord has made good, or disregard the means by which he is pleased to continue me in this my frail tabernacle."

August Hermann Francke, Memoirs of August Hermann Francke, (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1830), pp. 155-162.