Of Br. CHARLES SELDENSCHLO, Missionary in Labrador,
who departed this Life at STUTTGART,August 15th, 1852.
(Compiled by his Widow.)
Periodical Accounts, Vol. 22(1856-58), 93-8

AS the oral statements of my late husband, respecting the wonderful providential leadings he had experienced through life, were very interesting and edifying, not only to myself, but likewise to many of his friends, I shall endeavour to set down what I remember of them, with the aid of some memoranda in his own handwriting.

The texts appointed for the day of his birth, May 1st, 1806, were, through his whole life, like a message from the Lord to his soul; the reality and blessing of which he proved, when he had to pass through severe trials. The passages were: "The Lord killeth and maketh alive: He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up," 1 Sam. ii.6: and, "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he, whom his father chasteneth not?" Heb. xii.7.
He was born in the little town of Wessenberg, in the Russian province of Esthonia, where his father followed the business of a glover. His mother was a native of Esthonia; but his father was originally from Gnadenfrey, and often longed to be again at his birth-place, and in the congregation there, whose fellowship he regretted having left.
At an early period, the subject of this memoir had to taste of the bitterness of life in this vale of tears. His father, who loved his children dearly, and daily commended them to their Saviour, but whose delicate health rendered it difficult for him to earn sufficient to support them, departed this life in 1809. His widow soon married again. This step was followed by distressing results for the children. Instead of prayer and praise, they now became accustomed to the sound of cursing and abuse.
An accident which befel our late Brother, and which entailed upon him a degree of suffering during his whole life, served to increase his wretchedness. For four years, he was only able to creep on his hands and feet. As soon as he was a little stronger he was sent by his step-father to tend cattle. In the winter, he was put to learn the tailor's trade. His weak limbs, however, rendered him unfit for this. He was set to one employment after another, but, in every case, found his lame leg an insurmountable obstacle. At length, he was engaged by a confectioner, to carry lozenges and other articles in a basket for sale in the market. But, here also, his lameness caused him much annoyance. Some mischievous boys, observing that he could not run after them, often stole the goods from his basket, and ran away. The result was, that he was sometimes scolded or beaten on his return to his master's house. One day he attempted to seize one of these little thieves, but, missing his grasp, fell down, and threw the contents of his basket in the mud. Upon this his master at once sent him away; and he was obliged to return to his parents. His cruel step-father, however, had no wish to be burdened with a poor, weakly child; and thought of /94/ some plan to get rid of him. He pretended, therefore, that he had a sister, very rich and without children, living in Courland, whom he intended to visit, taking Charles with him, and who, he had good hopes, would take the boy, and attend to his education. With these fair prospects, he prevailed on him to consent to leave home. For some days the journey was very pleasant, as the old man made himself agreeable, and attended to the boy's wants. But as the distance from home increased, the step-father became more ill-tempered, refused to give the child anything to eat, and, when his own resources began to be exhausted, forced the boy to beg, taking away all the money he obtained in this manner. While in these distressing circumstances, the poor lad often fell on his knees behind a fence, and cried to God to have mercy on him. Nor were his prayers in vain. One day, when, on entering a village, his feet were dreadfully sore with walking, a kind-hearted peasant woman took him into her house, bound up his feet, gave him some refreshment, and presented him, at parting, with a little money, requesting him not to hand it to his father, but to keep it till the morrow, and buy some bread for himself. When he awoke next morning, however, his step-father was gone, and had taken the money out of his pocket. No one could tell him anything about his father. He knew not what to do. Home was left far behind, and Grubin, the place of his destination, was nearly two hundred miles distant. At last, he determined to risk the journey forwards. After wandering alone for two days, he fell in with a carrier, who was travelling towards Grubin. This man gave him a place in his waggon, and let him ride about one hundred miles. At last he reached the place where his aunt lived, and soon found her house. But how alarmed was he on entering, to see his father sitting at the table. The latter seemed startled, but received the boy with an oath, and the words, "What, you good-for-nothing fellow, are you come? I thought I had got rid of you!" After some days, the step-father returned to Esthonia, and Charles remained with his relatives. His uncle, who was a shoemaker, employed him in his business. But this did not last long, his uncle dying, and leaving his aunt in such circumstances, that she could hardly support herself. He was, therefore, obliged to seek a home elsewhere. This was a period of renewed suffering for the boy. He first entered the house of a farmer, from whose ill-tempered wife he had much to endure. At last, when playing cards one evening, she actually sold him for a dollar to a tailor, with whom he had to go, next morning. From this master he came to a butcher, who employed him for some time. At length, a cousin of his aunt's, who was a landowner, took him, and promised to let him learn some business. But, noticing the diligence and faithfulness of the youth, sent away his coachman, and employed him instead. He was now in better circumstances; but it was painful to him to perceive, that his relative had selfishly resolved to bestow as little on him as possible, and not to let him learn any trade. He also longed to hear something from his mother, and brothers and sisters, not having done so since his arrival in Courland. It caused him, therefore, great joy, when he, quite unexpectedly, received a /95/ message from his brother, to leave his present abode, and come to him. This brother, who was several years older than himself, and who had been so prosperous at his saddler's business, as to think of establishing himself at St. Petersburg, had often been much distressed on account of his younger brother, to whom he was much attached. Without knowing where to look for the wanderer, he had come to Courland; and the Lord had so directed his steps, that, after several days' journeying in vain, he met with the very man who had bought the poor boy for a dollar, who told him that the lost Charles was yet alive, and informed him where he might be found. His brother immediately sent for him, and received him with open arms. Often afterwards did our late Brother remember, with thankfulness to the Lord, the time when he was thus rescued from his severe bondage. He was, at this time, in his nineteenth year. His brother, who treated him with a father's kindness, took him to Reval, and apprenticed him to a wheelwright, intending that they should commence business conjointly at St. Petersburg. But the Lord had appointed a different course for him. During his apprenticeship, in the winter of 1826, he went, on a Sunday, with several companions, to a raised open place in the town, where the boys had made a kind of fortress of snow. Here they amused themselves with pelting the passers by with snowballs, from their castle. While they were thus engaged, they saw a number of persons pass by in a quiet and orderly manner. His companions immediately said; "See, here are the pietists! Now, come, and let us all pelt them well!" He inquired who these people were, and was told, "O, these are the saints. who meet every Sunday, and sometimes in the week, to pray and sing." He immediately resolved to follow them at a distance; and did so, until he came to the room where they held their meetings. Stepping in, he sat down on a bench behind the door, hoping not to be noticed. But the chapel-servant had seen him, and, in a friendly manner, asked him to come in, and take a seat. The service, to which he had come out of mere curiosity, was employed by the Spirit of God, to make a lasting impression on him, even to turn him from darkness to light, and from thepower of Satan unto God. The words of the following verse especially sank deeply into his heart:-
"Poor sinners, on this gracious day,
Come quickly, yea, without delay,
Weary of sin's oppression!
The Saviour's heart receiveth all,
Who deeply feel their gracious thrall,
And mourn for their transgression."
G.Hy. Bk. No.317.1.

Perceiving that our Saviour rejects none who come to Him, he went home, with tearful eyes, fell on his knees, and besought his hitherto unknown Saviour to forgive his sins and have mercy on him. But now came hours and days of trouble. The Holy Spirit disclosed to him how completely his whole life had been estranged from God. He felt himself a lost sinner, who had no refuge. At length, our Saviour was revealed to him, as the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world, and who had taken away his sins likewise./96/ Then peace and joy filled his heart. He had also the comfort that one of his companions, about the same time, came to the knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus. In 1828, his apprenticeship being at an end, he became a journeyman, and, as he was thenceforward able to attend the meetings of the Brethren's Society at Reval, without hindrance, he was admitted to membership. About this time, he was informed that his deceased father had often expressed the desire, that, at least, one of his children might return to the bosom of the Brethren's Congregation, which he himself had left. This induced, in our late Brother, the desire to obey his father's wish, when the Lord should point out the way.

In 1829, he went to St. Petersburg, where, however, he could obtain no employment, and had a severe illness to undergo. Through the kind assistance of the Brethren and Sisters at St. Petersburg, he was enabled, in 1830, to go to Christiansfeld, where he soon felt quite at home, and obtained employment. Ever since his conversion in 1826, he had felt an earnest desire to make known to others the happiness which our Saviour bestows, and, even before he left Reval, had entertained the idea of entering the missionary seminary at Basel. However, he was eventually thankful to our Saviour that this plan was not carried out, as, he believed, he was then much too young and inexperienced in the ways of the Lord. But, at Christiansfeld, when one of his acquaintance was appointed into the Lord's service, the desire to serve our Saviour in a similar manner, made itself felt anew. He was, however, so impressed with the importance of this holy service, and convinced how much is required to be a true apostle of the Lord, that he did not, for some time, venture to express his wish. At length, he felt he could delay no longer, and, in 1834, he communicated to his choir-labourer, Br. Möhne, the earnest desire of his heart, from thankfulness for what his Saviour had done for him, to serve Him, either in Christian or heathen lands. "But," he added, "not as I will, but as the Lord wills." Br. Moehne replied, "My dear Brother, I am glad to learn that for which I have long been waiting, for I have noticed that you had something on your mind. Now, we will entreat our Saviour for child-like obedience and submission to His will, and await His designs with regard to you." He now felt as if he had thrown off a heavy load, and went on his way in cheerfulness and comfort. Four years passed away, after this conversation, and he had made up his mind to give up his long-cherished hopes, and to end his days at Christiansfeld, when, on the 29th of January, 1838, he was informed that it had pleased our Saviour to call him to the service of the Mission in Labrador. Confiding in the Lord's assistance, after earnest prayer, he accepted the appointment, and left Christiansfeld, to which he had become much attached, for London. Thence he sailed for Labrador, and arrived at Hopedale, July 28th. Here, he was kindly received by the Mission-family, and was informed that Nain was to be the scene of his labours. He arrived at the latter place on the 10th of August, and entered on his duties. He soon felt at home, and began diligently to learn the language of the Esquimaux, in whom he speedily became deeply interested. But, although he was a native of Northern Russia, the climate of Labrador was too severe for him./97/ He suffered violent pains in the teeth and head, accompanied by a distressing affection of the eyes, from which he never quite recovered. In 1841, he was obliged to ask for dismission from Missionary-service. In 1842, he left Nain with a heavy heart, and went, by way of London, to Herrnhut.
During the succeeding winter his health was so much improved that he was able to accept an appointment to serve in the boy's school at Königsfeld. But the pains in the head returned with so much violence, that he was recommended to try the waters of Wildbad. The six weeks spent by him at that place were blessed to him in soul and body; and the acquaintance he was enabled to make with many children of God from Wirtemberg tended to refresh and strengthen him. In the Lord's gracious providence, this union of Spirit with many dear souls was to be more firmly cemented, for, in 1843, he was appointed to assist Br. Weitz in the care of Diaspora in the Oberland of Wirtemberg. This appointment he accepted with a deep conviction of the difficulties likely to attend the discharge of his new duties, as well as of his own insufficiency, but with firm confidence in his Saviour's gracious help.
For nine years, he pursued his course in Wirtemberg, often praising his Saviour for the grace experienced in his own heart, while preaching the word of the cross, and for the blessing he was privileged to see conveyed to the souls of others. In the first years of his new employment his health was good, but did not long remain so, and, in 1848, he was so ill, that his dissolution was expected. It was matter of special thankfulness to him, that at this period, and indeed during the whole time of his residence in Wirtemberg, he experienced much Christian love and friendship from the excellent Dr. Barth of Calw.
It was his custom to pay a yearly visit at Königsfeld, where he generally spent a few days, to the strengthening of his heart. In June, 1850, on occasion of one of these visits, our marriage took place. It was our earnest desire, that we might live to the Lord, and serve Him unitedly, and this we covenanted to do. An infant daughter was given to us for a brief period, but was soon taken from us, to the abode of everlasting peace. This bereavement cost us many tears, but still we were able to say, "Thy will be done."
Early in 1852, my late husband's state of health became materially worse, and, in August of that year, we went to Stuttgart, agreeably to the wish of our friends in that city, to obtain the advice of a celebrated physician. But the Lord had determined to call His servant home. His sufferings increased to a distressing degree. On the 15th of August he endured much agony, and yet was filled with heavenly joy.
During an interval of comparative ease, I said to the sufferer, "Have patience a little longer. The Lord will soon come." Upon this, he raised his hands and eyes heavenwards, and said so distinctly, and with such a smile, "He is here, my dear Saviour is here," that I asked, "Do you see our Saviour, and the holy angels, and our child?" To this he answered, "O yes, they now take me by the hand." At length, amid the prayers and blessings of the Brethren assembled/98/ round his bed, his redeemed soul obtained permission to leave his suffering body. When he had breathed his last, we knelt down and thanked our Saviour for the grace He had bestowed on His servant during his pilgrimage of forty-six years.
(Text made available by Dr. Hans Rollmann; keyed in by Pamela Andersen)