Of Br. ZACHARIAS GLITSCH, MISSIONARYin
who departed this Life, October
Periodical Accounts, Vol. 23(1858-61), 125-29
" 'SET thine house in order, for thou shalt die' (Is.xxxviii.1).
More than once in the course of my life, has this solemn warning sunk into,
and salutarily impressed, my heart. But never have these words affected
me so deeply as this year (1857). I should be overpowered by the fear of
death, had not Christ taken away all its terrors by His suffering and dying.
It is true, I know not, into what trials He may be pleased to lead me,
before my spirit breaks the bonds of mortality, and my body is laid in
the grave. Yet my hope is in Him, my gracious and faithful Saviour, that
He will be with me even to the end, and will convey me in His pierced hands,
into the peaceful habitation which He has prepared for me. Amen!
"At one period of my life, I was reluctant to set down any account of my
course through time, lest I might be led to write something, which might
be displeasing to the Lord, who sees our inmost thoughts,-for vanity is
deeply rooted in our hearts. But as this appears to be, to some extent,
connected with the setting of one's house in order, I will endeavour to
"I was born on the 2nd of August, 1792, at Landenhausen, a village
on the east side of the Vogelgebirge, at that time belonging to the Riedesel
family. There is reason to believe, that the people dwelling in this village
had enjoyed intercourse with the inhabitants of Herrnhaag, about the time
when the latter settlement was established. From that period, there had
always been a number of awakened persons in the village, who maintained
Christian communion, and from among whom, not a few young persons have,
from time to time, joined the Brethren's Church. Of my parents, only my
mother associated with the awakened. My father was an honest, well-disposed
man, very strict in his attention to all ecclesiastical observances, and
successful in keeping his five sons in order, without frequent punishment.
It was not till a later period, that the Spirit of God drew him from dependence
on his supposed goodness, and led him as a poor sinner, to the Saviour,
who had died for him. I was the youngest of five sons, and therefore the
last to leave home. As long as I went to school, I assisted my parents
in their agricultural duties, and by tending cattle. I was thus employed,
from soon after Easter, till October, as the school was only open in winter,
-the master being a farmer, who, during the summer months, was engaged
about his business. From this it may be imagined, what the school was.
I did not like to go there, but did not venture to neglect doing so, for
fear of my father. Reading, writing and the learning of texts, &c.,
by heart were the only branches taught, and that in a very imperfect manner.
Of this whole period of my life, the only portion on which I can now look
back on with pleasure, were the six weeks, during which I received special
instruction, previously to my confirmation. Whether this instruction was
really blessed to /126/ my heart, I do not know; but, to the present day,
I can trace a pleasing feeling in connection with it.
"After I left school, a new period of my life began. My help was no longer
required at home, and I was put to work at weaving sacking. This art I
learned perfectly in two days, and could make 120 ells a week, for which
my father received about one shilling and eightpence, while I got fourpence
for pocket-money. I did not work in my parents house, but took my meals
and slept there. For four years, I was engaged at this work, which I detested,
and it was while I was thus employed, that I received the first distinct
"I was too reserved to make my distresses known to my parents, but the
wish arose in my mind, to seek admission into some congregation of the
Brethren. With this view, I wrote to Br. Eichenberger at Neudietendorf,
who directed me to come to that settlement. My parents were quite willing
that I should go, though by my leaving them, they were deprived of the
assistance they had derived from my earnings. But the Lord had made other
provision for them, as my brother, John Caspar, who had settled at Sarepta,
and became wealthy, abundantly supplied their wants, as long as they lived.
"I arrived at Neudietendorf on the 17th of June, 1809, with the earnest
prayer, that our Saviour would keep me in connection with His people, and
never permit me to leave them. I soon obtained full employment in weaving,
which was at that time extensively carried on. I increasingly liked this
occupation, in which I was engaged with eighteen other Brethren. Thus many
happy days passed during which I lived in confidential communion with our
Saviour, and enjoyed my earliest delightful impressions of His love to
"After a while, I had to leave weaving, and enter on another employment.
By this means, I was brought into other connexions which were hurtful to
my unstable disposition. Yet the warning voice of my Saviour was not wanting,
and amid all the adverse circumstances, through which I was called to pass,
I could still call Him mine.
"In the autumn of 1818, I did myself serious bodily injury, of as
internal character, while engaged in light-minded play, in consequence
of which I had to endure long continued suffering. In the hope of obtaining
some amelioration, I was obliged to undergo a painful operation, by which
my faithful and merciful Saviour spoke seriously to my heart. This led
me to reflect on my sinful life, and to see my depravity in its true form;
and it was my firm resolution, by the Lord's help, to enter on a new course.
My illness assumed so serious an aspect, that it appeared as if my life
would soon reach its close. I therefore earnestly prayed to the Lord, promising
improvement, if my life was preserved. Yet this promise was not kept. My
heart had not been thoroughly wounded and healed, and my repentance was
incomplete. I gradually returned to my former courses. A great fault of
mine, was want of confidence towards my spiritual advisers;/127/ and I
did not make my wretched state known to them, being deterred by false shame.
"At this time, I often prayed to our Saviour, to help me out of my
distress, imploring Him to make use of any means He might see fit.
"In 1822, I received a call to serve the Lord in the Mission in Labrador,
which I accepted, though not with cheerfulness. I would not decline it,
as I entertained the firm confidence, that the Lord would make use of this
means for my deliverance. In April, I proceeded from Neudietendorf to London,
whence I sailed for Labrador on the 1st of June. On the 18th of the following
month I arrived safely at Hopedale, the station at which I was appointed
to serve. I soon felt quite at home in my new position. Yet I could not
get rid of the thought, 'After all I cannot be a Missionary! For how shall
I speak to the Esquimaux about the Saviour, when my own heart is not really
given to Him?' However, I resolved to do my best in secular duties, and
assisted in the performance of them, whenever it was requisite.
"In the following year, I was removed to Nain, where I lived with the late
Br. Kohlmeister. Here I had to think more of my proper vocation, and to
devote myself to the study of the Esquimaux language, about which I had
previously taken very little pains. I delivered my first address to the
congregation, in the autumn of 1828. I did it, because it was my duty,
and thought no more about it, than to wish it might go off well. Yet the
Spirit of God did not cease to operate on my heart, and set my lost condition
before me in so clear a light, that I was deeply distressed. The thought,
that, while preaching to others, I might be cast away myself, filled me
with such terror, that I knew not what to do. It seemed that I must be
lost, and I looked on all other human beings as more happy than myself.
Day and night did I cry for mercy and deliverance. I also sought the pardon
of my sins, but not with true conviction and contrition of heart. I also
wished to prescribe to the Lord, in what way He should help me, and He
granted my petition, but with attendant circumstances which were not according
to my wish. Yet, I have no doubt, that the Lord was graciously near me,
to bestow on me pardon and comfort. I gradually lost my uneasiness, and
cheerfully performed the duties which were assigned to me. I still, however,
retained a preference for secular employment, and only held religious services,
as a matter of necessity, viewing them as, properly speaking, Missionary
"In 1827, I was obliged to go to Europe, having been brought to the brink
of the grave by an inward malady. In the following year, I returned to
Labrador, quite restored, and was stationed at Okak.
"In 1831, I married Sr. Julianna Etzel. We entered on our union with
the earnest prayer, that the Lord would guide and bless us. Our marriage
has been blessed with six children, three of whom are still living.
"In 1833, we were called to Hopedale, where, among other duties, I was
appointed to attend to the barter with the Esquimaux. In the performance
of this duty, I often had to experience great anxiety./128/ Yet I must
thankfully acknowledge, that our Saviour's blessing was not wanting. Ten
years passed away very pleasantly,-but were succeeded by a period of a
"In 1844, we received directions to remove to Hebron, to take the place
of Br. and Sr. Morhardt. This was not agreeable to my feelings, and I felt
inclined to murmur. However, we went, in obedience. On our voyage to Hebron,
which was performed in the Harmony, we experienced the protecting mercy
of the Lord, in a striking manner. I had undergone somewhat similar dangers
in 1828, when the ship stuck fast in the ice for a whole fortnight. On
the present occasion, we were imperilled by the ground-swell. We were off
a lofty promontory, in a position which would not have been dangerous,
if we had had favourable wind. But, just as we were opposite the middle
of the head-land,- which runs about twelve miles out to sea,-the wind died
away, and a heavy ground- swell drove us, without the power of arresting
our course, right towards the perpendicular rocks. We looked at each other,
wondering what would become of us. It seemed quite certain that not only
the ship was in danger, but our lives likewise. We were scarcely half a
mile from the raging breakers, when we came near an ice-berg, seventy feet
high, which was aground. Here we expected we should find a watery grave.
However, exactly at the critical moment, the ship was guided past the ice-berg,
but threatened to run on the rocks, to which it came quite close. In these
dangerous circumstances, the Captain, as a last resource, dropped an anchor,
which held fast, and we were safe. Yet our position was very critical.
We were still in dangerous proximity to the ice-berg, which, in so heavy
a swell, might easily have been shattered to fragments, in which case the
ship would have been crushed; while, if the violence of the swell had caused
us to drag our anchor, we should have immediately run on the rocks. Thus
we lay for about two hours, when, at length, a light wind arose, and in
ten minutes, we were again under sail. A mariner too often quickly forgets
such perils. But such wonders of the Lord's preserving mercy remained deeply
impressed on my mind.
"We arrived safely at Hebron. But I found it difficult to feel at
home there. I was also called to experience bodily ailments, and my spirit
became oppressed. At length my circumstances of mind and body became such,
that I was constrained to seek permission to retire from active service.
For a long time, my wife would not hear of our quitting our post. In the
sequel, however, our Saviour made it clear to her mind, that it was time
at all events for a visit to Europe, as He was pleased to visit her likewise
with a complaint which prevented her from attending to her duties.
"At the end of September, 1847, we left Hebron, in a state of severe
illness. Having arrived safely at Herrnhut, I became much worse, and was
confined to the house the whole winter. It was soon evident, that the state
of my health would not admit of a return to Labrador. Hence I took occasion,
thoroughly to examine my whole course in the presence of the Lord; and
this did not take place without much self-reproach.
/129/ "The meetings of the congregation were of new interest and importance
to me. Each discourse I heard appeared as if expressly intended for my
case. At length, I was led to see myself represented by the slothful servant
in the parable of the talents. I became convinced, that I had not attended
to the spiritual care of the Esquimaux, as I might and ought to have done,-that
I had not at all acted by others, as the Lord had dealt with me,-and that
I had not taken part in the administration of the ordinances of the Lord,
in such a manner as He requires at the hands of His servants,-in short,
I found nothing in my career which would avail before Him, whose eyes are
as a flame of fire. On the other hand, the numerous sins, which I was conscious
I had committed from my very youth, arose like mountains before my soul.
I implored our Saviour, day and night, to deliver me from this spiritual
anguish,-which I had already experienced while I was in Labrador,-to assure
me that my sins were washed away in His blood, and to comfort me with His
merits. I was more and more brought to a knowledge of myself, and, from
all humiliation and distress, was inclined to seclude myself from all society.
However, the more my distress increased, the more did I implore the aid
of the Holy Spirit. And He was pleased to overcome the reluctance of my
nature, and, in answer to my prayers, to introduce me to a friend, to whom
I was enabled to open my heart, and to communicate my distress and perplexity.
I consider this to have been one of the most important periods of my life.
I had indeed experienced the forgiveness of my sins from our Saviour, but
He still saw fit not to spare me a deep humiliation. After this, however,
I was all the more abundantly revived and comforted, so that I felt as
though born anew.
"O how beneficial has the time been to me, which I have been permitted
to spend here! I have enjoyed so many blessings in the meetings of the
congregation, as well as in the solitude of my dwelling, that I may well
exclaim with the Psalmist, 'Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is
within me, bless His Holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not
all His benefits!'(Ps. ciii. 1, 2)."
To these statements of our late Brother, his surviving partner adds:-
"Some days before his departure, the cough and oppression on the
chest, under which he had for some time laboured, increased in severity,
so that he suffered much, especially at night. Yet I did not think that
his dissolution was so near. He, however, expected to depart soon, carefully
set his house in order, and awaited his release with believing cheerfulness.
"During the last night of his life, as his sufferings became more severe,
he constantly and fervently implored the Saviour to help him through the
dark valley. On the morning of October the 23rd, a great alteration was
evident in him. Seated in his chair, he continued instant in supplication,
while the mortal struggle went on, until at half past ten in the forenoon,
the moment of his release drew near, and he passed gently away into the
rest which remaineth for the people of God, in the 66th year of his age."
(Text made available by Dr. Hans Rollmann; keyed in by Pamela Andersen)