Cassel, Capital of the Electorate of Hesse Cassel
Oct. 1, 1845.
To the saints, assembling in the name of the Lord Jesus at Salem and Bethesda Chapels, Bristol.
My very dear brethren,
I long to tell you of the Lord's goodness to us, since last I wrote you, and though this letter may reach you only three or four days before our arrival among you, still I would wish you to help us in praising the Lord for His goodness to us.
I now record His kindness in our service, as far as I remember it, from the day where my last letter heft off. I think it was on Sept. 15th that my last letter was finished. On that afternoon I had the last meeting among the working females in my house. It had then increased to at least sixty, from about 10 at the beginning. The evening of that day I spent among gentlemen and ladies of Stuttgart, at the house of a gentleman who had invited me. There the Lord gave me opportunity of testifying for Him about 2 hours and a half. The next afternoon I had a meeting at which about 25 ladies were working for charitable purposes, at the house of a lady of title. To these and to their absent friends, I gave a copy of my Narrative, 40 in number, as well as a copy of each of the 11 Tracts which I have published. Thus, with the Lord's blessing, the Narrative and the Tracts may work among the higher or highest classes of the kingdom of Wirtemberg. I simply mention this to show, dear brethren, what open doors the Lord has given me, after the apparent death-blow upon everything at the beginning. How important that we should not be discouraged by appearances in the Lord's service! On the same evening the last public meeting among the brethren at Stuttgart was attended by about 80 persons more than any previous time, either at this or my former visit. Thus also the Lord gave still further encouragement. On the following day, Wednesday, Sept. 17th, I took leave of various believers, not in communion with us; among the rest, of two pious clergymen at Stuttgart, who treated me most kindly. This day was occupied with making all the arrangements for our journey, as I had to send many thousands of tracts before us to several places, not being able to carry in our carriage all the books and tracts, which we hoped to circulate on the journey. In the evening that gentleman called once more to see me, in whose house I had spent the Monday evening, and with whom I had become acquainted a few days before, and who, since then, had attended all our meetings. I think I told you before, that he was Professor of Medicine at the Russian University at Moscow, and also President of the Protestant Consistory in that city. This dear brother takes a deep interest in my service, and has offered to circulate 50 copies of my book, and 50 copies of each of the 11 tracts. We parted like old friends. - Our prayer had been for a suitable carriage, and an obliging driver, on which so much of our service depended; but we were so occupied, that I could only order a carriage on the morning of our departure, Thursday, Sept. 18th, and the Lord most signally answered our prayers; for we obtained a driver who was one of a hundred. He drove us three days, and was most obliging, so that we could not have desired a better driver; the carriage also was as if made for our work. At 10 o'clock on Thursday morning we set out, furnished with many thousands of tracts, and about 24,000 sent before us; also carrying with us about 450 copies of my Narrative, and having to take up 350 copies on the way. About 350 copies I was able to circulate at Stuttgart whilst there. I should also say that I found several brethren with whom I could leave smaller quantities of tracts for circulation at Stuttgart and else-where, especially an English brother, Dr. M., who lives at Basle, and who spends his whole time in circulating religious books and tracts, written in German and French. This brother came, three days before our departure, to Stuttgart, so that I could arrange with him. Indeed step by step has the Lord prospered me in my feeble endeavours, mixed with sin as every one of them has been, and made it manifest, that, this time also, He bad sent me to Germany. On Thursday, September 18th, then, we set out, and while yet driving through the city of Stuttgart I began giving away tracts, thus to begin the service at once, lest my hands should be weakened through delay. Whilst going on, we continued offering tracts to the passengers on the road, and giving away now and then a copy of my book, and seeking especially to put some copies of it into every village and town. Thus we went on the first day from Stuttgart to Heilbronn, a distance of about 35 English miles. All went on most quietly. We were able to give away many hundreds of tracts, and about 50 copies of my Narrative, and to a few persons I had the opportunity of speaking a little. The second day's journey was from Heilbronn to Heidelberg. In the large towns we went on most quietly, lest there should be a running together of the people, and the appearance be a political disturbance. On this account I never give away tracts and books in towns, but on the road, or just before I come to towns, or after I have passed through them. Yet now and then I have also given them away in towns in a quiet way; for instance, by going to a baker's shop, and buying a trifle and then giving a book. The second day from Heilbronn to Heidelberg we went on as before in our service, but in the afternoon we were tried in spirit. We observed a carriage at a distance behind us, with a gentleman in it, and his coachman before. He stopped more than once to converse with the people to whom I had given tracts. At last he obtained sight of my book also. Thus he kept on driving behind us. Our nerves were greatly tried by this. By the grace of God we were willing to suffer for His name's sake, even greatly, in this work; yet this matter greatly tried us, not knowing what the result might be. At last the carriage drove before us. Then it stopped, and the gentleman lifted himself up, to have a full look at me, then he ordered his coachman to drive on, and they were soon out of sight. The next thing to be expected was, that in the next town the police would stop us in our service. However, we continued the work, and at last arrived at Heidelberg, without having been stopped, and having given away more books and tracts than even on the previous day. The steady even course of service, under all difficulties, without any one's encouragement, and with the discouragement of many, requires not a little faith! We felt how weak our faith was! The third day's journey was from Heidelberg. We continued again our blessed service. I had opportunity this day to put my Narrative and tracts into the hands of ladies and gentlemen as well as poor persons. Our opportunities for service were very many this day, and things went on quietly in the morning. In the afternoon, however, we were even more tried than the day before. We had travelled through Wirtemberg and also the Grand Duchy of Baden, and were now in the country of Hesse-Darmstadt, when I gave some tracts to some lads of a Grammar School, whom we met before a town. But these lads followed us, accompanied the carriage through the whole town, and some distance out of the town, ridiculing us. We sat quiet, saying nothing at all. Then I was addressed by a mail-guard who had seen me give away tracts and books, and who, having stopped the mail, asked for tracts for himself and the passengers, but evidently in a sneering way. This carried the news of our service before us, as the mail went much faster than we, and therefore our work was known in the next place, and a man ran out on our arrival to ask for books, and in consequence of this the attention of persons was arrested. Nevertheless the Lord helped us to continue the work, though somewhat tried in mind, being aware how much such work is opposed on the Continent. A little while after, a light wagon drove quickly after us, and as I was walking by the side of the carriage, up a hill, a man got out, joined me, and asked for a tract. He then said: "Who has allowed you to distribute these books?" I replied. "Nobody, but I am a servant of Jesus, and I desire to serve my Lord. If, however, you can show me that what I am now doing is against the laws of the country I will give it up. As far as I am aware, it is not." He then asked me, what religion was contained in the tracts. I said not any one in particular, but that there were in them the truths of Christianity, about which alone I cared, as I did not design by these books to increase any particular party. A few words more of this kind passed, and he then left me, drove on before us, and presently turned off from the turnpike road into a little bye road in the wood, where he stopped and read the tract which I had given him, which was, "The conversion of the jailer at Philippi." I went on as before with the work, not tried in spirit, but yet my nerves were much affected by it. We meant only to have gone that day as far as Darmstadt, the capital of Hesse-Darmstadt, but I engaged the driver 15 miles further, to Frankfort-on-the-Main, in order that we might be out of the dominion of Hesse-Darmstadt, if through the mail-guard, or the last-mentioned person, who, to judge from his dress, was a government officer, the matter should be coming before the magistrates. At Frankfort we arrived after ten on Saturday evening, Sept. 20th, having now been able for 3 days to go on with the service. The next day, being the Lord's day, we purposed to rest at Frankfort which we much needed for body and spirit, especially also for the sake of asking the Lord's blessing upon the work up till then, and to ask guidance for our future steps, mud His help and blessing for what remained of our work. We had intended, before we left Stuttgart, to go to Eisleben, such a distance from Frankfort, as would require 4 or 5 days more travelling, and then all the way back to Cologne. But on account of what had occurred the two previous days, we now began again to consider our steps, whether we should go on still further or not. Nature wished to get back to England at once. Nature shrank greatly from the continuance of this service. But after having strengthened ourselves in God, we came to the conclusion, that our first purpose was of God, and that we ought not to alter our plans, except we saw it most clearly to be the will of God; we therefore purposed (as we could only look upon the desire of discontinuing our tour as a temptation), to go on with our service, till by the order of the police we were prohibited. Blessed be God who enabled us to triumph over the temptation! But to Him is all the praise due; for had He not strengthened us in that hour, we should have been as those who, having put their hand to the plough, draw it back. I now set about making arrangements for the journey, as the carriage and horses, which I had engaged for the three previous days, had to return to Stuttgart. Our prayer was for another suitable driver, upon which so very much depended in our service. In this again we experienced most evidently the Lord's willingness to answer prayer; for in the same inn at which our Stuttgart driver had put up, it happened, by the ordering of the Lord, that there was a driver from Cassel, the place where I am now writing, who had taken a family to Frankfort, and who was looking out for a job. With this coachman I agreed, to take us to Eisleben, to stop there a day and a half, while I saw brethren in that neighbourhood, and then to take us to Cassel. This engagement was for eight days. It was the more kind of the Lord to allow me to find this person, as I went from place to place in Frankfort to obtain a conveyance, but could not succeed in that large city; and the only one I could have had, would have been nearly twice as expensive as the one which I hired. On Monday morning, then, Sept. 22nd, we left Frankfort, determined by the help of God to pursue our service, and, if need be, to suffer and to endure hardship in it. Many tracts and books also were given away this day, and in the evening we reached Schlüchtern, a small town before Fulda. The next day at Fulda I took up a large bale of tracts and books which I had sent before, and on Tuesday evening we reached Vacha. Up to that time we had had fine weather; but we reached Vacha in a heavy storm, it having rained heavily for 2 hours, and lightened and thundered exceedingly. All night the rain continued, and in rain we left Vacha for Eisenach. Our service now seemed over; but yet I managed now and then to put a copy of my book out of the carriage, when I saw an opportunity that it could be kept pretty dry. By the time we reached Eisenach, which stands on the foot of the hill on which is the old castle called the Wartburg, where Luther translated the Bible, the rain ceased and we had a fine afternoon, and in a few hours were able to give away more than 50 books and many tracts. In the evening we reached Gotha, capital of the small dukedom of Saxe Gotha. On Thursday, Sept. 28th, we came as far as a small town called Arthern, and on Friday, about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, we reached Eisleben. All these five days and a half we went on quietly in our service, none hindering us, giving away many books and tracts. Here now we stopped two days, had some intercourse with brethren, and then left for Cassel, which we reached in two days and a half, arriving here last evening. This morning I have been writing this letter and doing some other things needful for the journey, whilst my dear wife has been all the morning engaged in putting up tracts for the journey. If we can obtain a suitable conveyance, we purpose to leave this afternoon on our way to Elberfeld, and, if the Lord gives us grace, to pursue our service till we come to the Rhine, and then by way of Ostend to cross the sea for England, so that about 3 or 4 days after this reaches you we may have the joy of seeing you again face to face. It will be joy to us indeed to see you all again. Farewell, beloved brethren. My dear wife sends her love in Christ to you all.
Your affectionate brother and servant in our Lord,
I add a few remarks respecting this my service on the Continent.
1. For about eight months before I left England, I had seen it to be the Lord’s will, that I should go again that year to the Continent for a season, and had made my journey and service, during that period, a daily subject of prayer from Nov. 1844. I left Bristol on July 19th and returned on Oct. 11th, 1845.
2. I should have greatly preferred to preach the Gospel in the streets or in the market places in Germany; but for that there was no liberty. I did therefore what I could, in spreading about eleven hundred copies of my Narrative, and tens of thousands of tracts. In this I was particularly encouraged by remembering that that great work, at the time of the Reformation, was chiefly accomplished by means of printed publications.
3. We travelled in a hired carriage for 17 days, each day about 40 or 45 miles. I had a box, containing about thirty thousand tracts, made on purpose, behind the carriage, and in the fore-part several portmanteaus filled with tracts and copies of my Narrative in German. As we went on, my dear wife and I looked out for travellers who were coming, or persons on the road side. It was just the time when the potatoes were taken up, and thousands of people were thus either close to the turnpike road, or only a little way from it. The front of our carriage had glass windows, so that we could see all the persons before us, and on each side. As soon as the carriage was near enough, I held the tracts or a copy of my Narrative out to them, and requested them to accept them or sometimes beckoned the working people to come up to the carriage, which almost without exception they readily did, and then received a book or tract. In case of genteel persons, whom we sometimes met, I repeatedly ordered the driver to stop, and I got out of the carriage, and handed the books or tracts to them. Often also I walked up a hill, and then conversed with the persons whom I joined, or gave tracts more extensively in this way.
4. The reason why we pursued this plan of travelling was, a, that I might myself circulate as many as possible; b, that the tracts and Narratives might be scattered over as extensive a tract of country as possible; c, that I might be able to accomplish it, before the police could prevent it. On the road side, before entering villages and towns, or after we had left them, I gave away freely. Now suppose this came to the ears of the police, as no doubt in many instances it did; before any measures could be taken, we might be at a distance of 5, 10, or 20 miles from the spot; for we travelled, as I said, from 40 to 45 miles daily. This was indeed an expensive way of circulating the tracts, and wearing to body and mind more than can easily be perceived; but it was a most effectual way, and a precious service to be allowed to be engaged in for the Lord. When we had finished our journey, lasting 23 days, we were completely worn out for the time.
5. At first we sometimes threw down the tracts to persons, out of the carriage, when they were not near enough to have them handed to them. This, however, we discontinued on the second or third day; for I judged, that, as we would not throw down Bibles, Testaments, or smaller portions of the Holy Scriptures, so these tracts also, filled with the truth of God, and written for the honour of God, should not be thrown down; and that we would rather not give them at all, than in this way. I purposely notice this, as many Christians are in the habit of throwing tracts out of a carriage, as I did at first. I might put them secretly in drawers, or on the table, or under the table-cover in inns, or elsewhere, where they afterwards might be found; but I could not feel any longer happy in not treating them with all reverence, because they contain the truth of God.
6. Perhaps the reader may ask: What has been the result of this labour in Germany? My reply is: God only knows. The day of Christ will declare it. Judging from the constant labour in prayer during 8 months before we went the second time, and day by day while we were on the Continent, and day by day for a long time after our return, I am warranted to expect fruit, and I do expect it. I expect abundant fruit in the day of Christ’s appearing. In the meantime my comfort is, that 220,000 tracts have been circulated, many of which through the providence of God found their way not only into the darkest places of the Continent of Europe, but went also to America and Australia. Further, the 4000 copies of my Narrative in German, are almost all circulated. And again, the publishing of my Narrative in German, led me to do the same in French, which was accomplished about three years later. Further, these tracts were reprinted at Hamburg and at Cologne, and are circulated by other Christians; in addition to which, my having published them in Germany led me to get them stereotyped in England, and they continue to be circulated in many countries.
I only add, we continued our service in a similar way, after we had left Cassel, from whence I wrote the last letter to the church in Bristol; and in many respects it was the most interesting part of the service.—George Müller, Narratives