Of the LIFE of Br. SAMUEL LIEBISCH, BISHOP of the BRETHREN'S CHURCH, and one of the earliest MISSIONARIES in LABRADOR, who departed this Life at BERTHELSDORF, Dec. 3rd, 1809.
(From: PERIODICAL ACCOUNTS, Vol. 19, 209-12, 273-77)
I WAS born, June 24th, 1739, at Herrnhut, where my father was, at that time, director of the orphan-asylum. I never knew my parents; for, in the year 1741, they left Herrnhut for North America, committing their children to the care of other Brethren and Sisters; and I was thus left as an orphan, without a single relative to whom to look for support. At the earliest period of my life, of which I have any distinct recollection, I experienced an ardent desire to love my Saviour, and felt convinced that this would constitute my greatest happiness. At the age of six years, I was admitted into the orphan-asylum, in which I spent one of the happiest portions of my childhood. In the same year, I made a covenant with the Saviour, promising to be His property, and to love Him above all things; nor did I for a moment doubt, that He heard my child-like promise, and graciously accepted it. Whenever I had done anything wrong, it was always my first thought, " I will go and tell my Saviour of it, and confess my sin before Him; when He has forgiven me, my superiors will surely forgive me too. "
In 1746, I left Herrnhut with a number of my school- companions, for Wetteravia [Note: Or the Wetterau, a district situated to the east of Frankfort on the Maine, in which the settlement of Herrnhaag was founded in the year 1738.], where I remained at school, first at Lindheim, afterwards at Marienborn, till the year 1750, when the institution was removed to Upper Lusatia. I was a very happy child, and, even at that early period of my life, my heart was under the influence of the Holy Spirit. Had I been disobedient to my superiors, or had I done anything else which I knew to be displeasing to the Lord's sight, I always experienced a secret reproof; and whenever I was tempted to neglect the warning voice, some chastisement was sure to follow. On such occasions, I was often reminded of my covenant with the Saviour, and found no peace till I had renewed it.
In 1750, I was received into the choir of the youths at Niesky, whither I had removed with a number of my fellow-pupils; and till the close of that year, I regarded myself as a very good child; for I could declare with full sincerity, that I was devotedly attached to my Saviour, and that I earnestly endeavoured to give satisfaction to my superiors. Then, however, a new period commenced, in which my eyes were to be opened to the full extent of my inward corruption. Evil thoughts arose in my heart, to which I had formerly been a stranger, and which accused and condemned me in the sight of God. I was frequently in a state of great anguish, not knowing what to do, and believing that nobody could be more sinful and depraved than myself. At times, my soul was a prey to the most violent agitation, and I ardently longed for deliverance from my spiritual enemies. Often, at such seasons of inward conflict, have I repaired to lonely places, where, unobserved by my companions, I could /210/ give free course to my prayers and tears. Many a sleepless night did I spend, weeping over my sins and imploring mercy. From time to time I felt greatly comforted and strengthened in the inward man, and I might probably been spared much uneasiness, had I but treated my superiors with more open-heartedness and confidence. Of the inadequacy of all human efforts in the spiritual contest, I was powerfully convinced; the more I strove to effect my deliverance by good resolutions and prayers, the more I was led captive by the Prince of the powers of darkness. The experience I was permitted to make in the night of Dec. 25th, 1752, will never be effaced from my memory. Till after midnight, I had lain in my bed, mourning over my extreme corruption, and earnestly crying for mercy and deliverance, when my soul was filled with peace, and I received the divine assurance, that my Saviour was willing to pardon my sins, and to regard me as his blood-bought property. The gloom which had enveloped my soul was instantly dispelled, my burdened conscience was effectually eased, and in subsequent trials and temptations, I could confidently appeal to the fact, that Jesus had received and acknowledged me as a pardoned sinner.
In April, 1753, I removed to Herrnhut to learn the glover's business. The period of my apprenticeship was, in various respects, rather trying; for, though I worked hard, and was conscious of exerting myself to the utmost of my abilities, my master never appeared satisfied with me. Troubles from without and from within taught me to pray more earnestly than heretofore; and having no earthly friend to whom I felt at liberty to open my heart, I learnt to set a double value on the privilege of being permitted to make known all my wants and distresses to my best Friend above. Whatever might occur, I looked to the Lord for help and counsel, and thus spent the years of my youth in childlike dependence on Him. Being, however, more and more convinced that my reserve towards my superiors deprived me of much blessing, I examined my heart, and was soon led to trace this tendency to the secret workings of pride and self-love. My duty was clear to me, but it was much easier to discern than to fulfil. At length, however, I was enabled to unbosom myself to Br. John de Watteville, who, instead of reproving me, as I had feared he would do, affectionately encouraged me, and gave me much valuable advice.
In June, 1754, I was favoured, for the first time, to partake of the Holy Communion. On this solemn occasion, I devoted myself anew to my Saviour, and felt powerfully assured, that he would remain my gracious covenant-God. My heart was filled with sensations of peace and joy, such as no words can adequately express.
In 1755, I adopted the practice, of setting apart one hour in the course of each day, for the special purpose of prayer and communion with the Lord; a plan from which I derived much spiritual benefit.
On June 25th, 1758, I was received, with a number of youths, into the choir of the Single Brethren. We were introduced to Count Zinzendorf, who entered into conversation with each of us separately. He asked me, in what part of the world I wished to serve our Saviour; I answered, " In Greenland." " No," he rejoined, " you will be called to another part of North America;" a prediction which proved true in the sequel. /211/
To the years of my childhood and youth I could look back with joy and gratitude; and entering on this new and important period of my life, I felt doubly called upon to make a full and unreserved surrender of my heart to Him, who in times past had " crowned me with loving-kindness and tender mercies." It was now my supreme desire to live to His glory, and to become, in His own appointed time, a useful servant in His house, feeling a particular impulse to go forth and proclaim the riches of His grace to heathen tribes. I derived much blessing at this time from an association which I formed with several young Brethren, who, like myself,had devoted themselves to the Lord Jesus, and who shared my desire, to be permitted one day to go forth as messengers of peace. Our union was founded simply and solely on the Saviour; we had no other object than to love Him more fervently, and to attain to a still fuller enjoyment of the blessings He has purchased for us, by His meritorious sufferings and death. This was the constant theme of our brotherly intercourse, in which we freely exhorted and reproved each other, as circumstances appeared to require. We heartily rejoiced in anticipating the time, when WE too might perhaps be called, to labour for the advancement of the Saviour's kingdom. This desire of our hearts was graciously regarded, and all members of the association in question were subsequently employed in the Lord's service.
The year 1759 was marked by new seasons of spiritual trial and temptation. I was led to see, how deeply my heart was still infected with unbelief, and how much there was yet within me of that "carnal mind," which is "enmity against God," a discovery which pained me the more keenly, as I had received so many tokens of my Saviour's mercy. My mind was frequently so overwhelmed by doubts, that I began to question the truth of God's holy Word; and in the anguish of despair I, at times, wished I had never been born. I wept, prayed, and lay like a worm in the dust, but could find no peace. On one occasion, the anguish of my soul had reached such a height, that I repaired to a neighbouring wood, in which I wandered about in an almost distracted state of mind. I fell down on my face, cried to my Saviour for mercy, beseeching Him to help my unbelief, and to give me faith in His merits and death. I reminded Him of His promise, that he will cast out none that come unto Him, and said, " O Lord Jesus! If Thou hast shed Thy blood for me, show Thyself to be the Saviour of my soul, and enable me to believe in Thee." At this moment, the peace of God was shed abroad in my heart; my unbelief and doubts were removed; and I could again shed tears of grateful joy at my Saviour's feet. Through these inward struggles, I was convinced that faith is not a work of our own, but a gift of God.
In March, 1760, I felt greatly encouraged by some private conversation with Count Zinzendorf. I related to him freely and confidentially what I had experienced in my heart, and derived much comfort from the remarks which my narrative elicited form that eminent servant of God. In the course of our conversation, he asked me, whether I would give him my hand, in token of my readiness to obey a summons, whenever addressed to me, to engage in the Lord's service. I could cheerfully answer in the affirmative, and immediately offered him my hand. He told me he had reason to believe that our Saviour would one day call me /212/ into His service, a remark which made a deep impression on me at the time, and was frequently brought home to my mind in the sequel.
In July, 1763, I was appointed to the spiritual charge of the boys and youths, in which service I was engaged for upwards of three years, and learnt many a new lesson, which tended to establish me more firmly in the faith, and proved of great benefit to me in after-life. After the synod of 1764, I became a member of the Elders' Conference, and in the following year, was appointed assistant to the Single Brethren's labourer. In October, 1766, I was called to the spiritual superintendence of the Single Brethren at Zeist, in which important post, I was favoured to enjoy the confidence of my brethren, and in many trying difficulties I was mercifully supported form on high.
On March 3rd, 1767, I was ordained a deacon of the Brethren's Church, on which occasion, my long-cherished desire, to serve the Lord among the heathen, was powerfully revived. It pleased the Lord, however, that eight years should elapse before my wish was realised.
Towards the end of the year 1774, I was deeply affected by the painful intelligence of the shipwreck and death of the Brethren Brasen and Lehman, off the coast of Labrador [Note: See Memoir of Brother Jens Haven, vol. xvii. p.458]. This catastrophe suggested the serious question to my mind, whether I should be willing to engage in my Saviour's service, even at the peril of my life, and to take Br. Brasen's place, if it were required of me. I was enabled to answer this heart-searching question in the affirmative, with full confidence and assurance of faith. A few days after, an official letter arrived from the Board of Direction, in which I was appointed to succeed Br. Brasen as superintendent of the Mission in Labrador. As soon as I had read the letter, I had poured out my heart before my Saviour, and received the assurance that it was HIS will that I should go. Hereupon, I immediately signified in writing my acceptance of the call.
At the beginning of the year 1775, I left Zeist for Barby, in order to receive the necessary instructions from the Board of Direction, previous to my entering on my new and important charge. On February 12th, I was joined to Sr. Anna Dorothy Weber in holy matrimony. Soon after our marriage, we gave each other the solemn promise that we would devote our lives to the Saviour's service, and follow him as obedient children, wherever He might see fit to assign us a field of labour.
On February 15th, I was ordained by Bishop Spangenberg a presbyter of the Brethren's Church, and on the following day, we set off, by way of Zeist, for London. After a stay of seven weeks in that city, during which time I endeavoured to acquire some knowledge of the English language, we set sail for Labrador on April 24th, with several other Missionaries, and till June 24th we had a very favourable voyage. But then we met with serious obstacles. Immeasurable ice-fields surrounded our vessel, and impeded her progress, till on the 3rd of July, Captain Wilson resolved to steer into the midst of the masses of ice--hoping to find a passage, by which we might gain the coast. He immediately informed me of his resolution; it appeared to me a rash attempt, such as could not be made without exposing our lives to the most /213/ imminent danger. Nor could I forget, that the same captain had commanded the vessel which had been wrecked the year before Nain and Okkak, when the Brethren Brasen and Lehman had lost their lives. The urgent remonstrance which I made proving of no avail, we set out on our adventurous course. For 18 successive days, our lives were in constant jeopardy, huge masses of ice being driven against the vessel, and sometimes hemming her in on all sides; so that, as far as the eye could reach, neither open water nor land were to be seen from the mast. The sailors, being incessantly at work, and enjoying little or no sleep, were completely exhausted, and not unfrequently gave vent to their indignation in the most violent manner. We Brethren took our full share in the arduous exertions which our perilous situation demanded; and most of our nights were spent pushing off the ice-blocks by means of long poles, in order to prevent them from striking against the vessel. During these 18 days of hardship and peril, we were continually engaged in prayer, and in commending ourselves to Him who alone could help us. Imminent danger and merciful deliverance followed each other in rapid succession. The deliverances we experienced were frequently of so striking a nature, that the captain and sailors were constrained to acknowledge the hand of the Lord.
On July 22nd we were, for several successive hours, in a situation of extreme peril. The ice was driven against the ship by a violent gust of wind, and pressed against her with such force, that she was raised above the water and thrown on one side. The crashing of these enormous masses of ice was enough to appal the stoutest heart; vessel and crew appeared doomed to inevitable ruin. In this situation of indescribable anguish, we fixed our eyes on the Lord, while the sailors were wringing their hands in despair; and He, in whom we placed our trust, sent help and deliverance, when all hope seemed gone. The ice which had accumulated beneath the vessel broke asunder; a new gust of wind dispersed the masses around us; and great was our joy when, on trying the pumps, we ascertained that there was no leak. On the following day, we found a suitable harbour, surrounded and sheltered by rocks, where we could cast anchor. From July 23rd to the 29th we enjoyed a season of refreshment and repose, of which we stood in great need, after the dangers and hardships of the preceding days. The flood bringing daily a considerable number of haddocks within our reach, and the islands around us swarming with eider-ducks, we had no lack of fresh provisions. On July 30th, we steered along the coast in the direction of Nain, but had still several storms to weather before we reached the place of our destination. In the course of our adventurous voyage, we occasionally sailed over hidden rocks, which we frequently did not discover till we had passed them. It was as if an angel of God had stood at the helm and guided our course. A violent storm compelled us to seek shelter in the beautiful Machovik Bay, near Avertok, where we arrived in safety, after passing over several sunken rocks. It was here, on August 7th, that we had the great pleasure of seeing the first Esquimaux. He came on board, told us the names of all our European Brethren and Sisters at Nain, and appeared to feel a great affection for us. At our request, he readily consented to accompany us as our pilot to Nain, and immediately fetched his wife, with whom he resided on a /214/ small island in the neighbourhood. A few days afterwards, we received visits from several Avertok Esquimaux, who, at that time, were still distinguished by their terrific appearance. The 16th of August was the happy day, on which, after a voyage of 17 weeks, marked by countless dangers and deliverances, we arrived in safety at Nain, where we were cordially welcomed by our dear Brethren and Sisters.
Shortly after my arrival, I made the painful discovery, that there was not that spirit of brotherly love prevailing among the different members of the missionary family, which is so essential to an efficient cooperation in the Lord's service, and to this state of things I could not help attributing, to a considerable degree, the mournful fact, that the preaching of the gospel had produced but little fruit among the Esquimaux. I made it an object of daily prayer to our Saviour, that He would purge away this old leaven, by enabling us to " love each other with a pure heart, fervently," and that He would graciously bestow upon us a new measure of faithfulness and zeal for the prosecution of our labours among the Esquimaux. Nor was this, my earnest supplication, offered in vain. At the very first missionary conference, at which we met together, the spirit of brotherly love pervaded our ranks, and the presence of the Lord was powerfully felt among us. We were animated by the same feelings on several subsequent occasions, when assembled to discuss various subjects connected with our missionary calling. After these seasons of spiritual refreshment, we applied ourselves severally to our allotted work with renewed alacrity and zeal.
We were, at that time, much engaged in building, and, since each one of us cheerfully exerted himself to the utmost of his abilities, we were able to accomplish a considerable amount of work in a comparatively short space of time. In 1776, a new station having been established at Okkak, we were busily employed at that place, in erecting a mission-house, which, by dint of strenuous and united exertion, we had the pleasure of completing before the close of the summer of the same year. The difficulties we had to contend with were certainly great and numerous, but the Lord, in whose name we had undertaken our task, graciously enables us to overcome them.
On February 19th, in the same year, we had the favour to baptize the first adult Esquimaux at Nain, who received the name of Peter. It was likewise no small encouragement to us to observe, that several other natives had been brought under the awakening influences of the Holy Spirit, and evinced an anxious concern about the salvation of their souls. /273/
IN May, 1778, I visited Okkak for the first time. The ice- track being good, and the weather favourable, my first journey, in a sledge drawn by dogs, was very interesting and agreeable. At Okkak, I was delighted with the favourable prospects which this new station appeared to present; for our Brethren had already succeeded in acquiring the affection and esteem of the surrounding Esquimaux. In the sequel, I was obliged to visit Okkak several times, both in summer and winter. On one of my journeys, I was subjected to no small endurance from the unfavourable state of the weather, being compelled to spend several days and nights in a snow-hut, and this, together with various labours exceeding my strength, produced a weakness of body, of which I felt the effects for a considerable period.
In March, 1782, I made an attempt to visit Okkak in company of Br. William Turner. This journey, from which we were obliged to return without attaining our object, was attended with so many narrow escapes and merciful interpositions of Divine Providence, in the midst of the most imminent dangers, that it will never be effaced from my memory.
In the course of the following month, I renewed the attempt, and succeeded in reaching Okkak, where I was greatly refreshed, on witnessing the grace of God manifestly prevailing among the Brethren and the converts gathered through their instrumentality from among the heathen. From that time, however, I was subject to attacks of illness, so frequent, that I found it quite out of my power to continue these official visitations, and was compelled to apply to our Elders in Europe for permission to retire from the service. My request being granted, I left Labrador after a service of eight years, and proceeded by way of Hopedale,--which settlement had been established the year before,--and St. John's, in Newfoundland, to London, where we arrived on October 28th, and remained till November 26th, resting from the fatigues of our voyage in the midst of our Brethren and Sisters. On my arrival at Barby, I received a call to fill the vacancy in the Elders' Conference of the Unity, occasioned by the departure of Br. Fries. The appointment to so important and responsible a post was as unexpected, as the conviction of my utter insufficiency was deep and clear; and yet I did not feel at liberty to decline it. In child-like reliance on the Lord's gracious help, I entered on the discharge of my new functions, residing at Barby with the other members of the Board of Direction till 1784, when I removed with them to Herrnhut.
In the following year, I was appointed to hold an official visitation of our congregations at Berlin and Rixdorf, where I remained from August /274/ till October. At that time, there were several Brethren and Sisters still living, who had suffered bonds and persecution for the Gospel's sake, and had left home and country, that they might enjoy liberty of conscience. [Note: The congregations at Berlin and Rixdorf were originally formed of exiles from Bohemia and Moravia; and the latter still consists almost entirely of persons of Bohemian descent--who use the hymns sung by their forefathers three centuries ago, and the Holy Scriptures in their native tongue, which these accounted their greatest treasure. In the course of the past summer, nearly the whole village of Rixdorf was destroyed by a calamitous conflagration, but is now nearly rebuilt.] With these venerable witnesses of the truth I had much edifying conversation, and altogether found great cause for thankfulness for the grace then prevailing in both these congregations. In 1788, I was appointed to hold a similar visitation of our congregation at Kleinwelke, where I was greatly edified by the numerous examples of primitive simplicity which I was favoured to witness. [Note: Kleinwelke is a settlement of the Brethren, in Upper Lusatia, about three miles from Bautzen. It was founded in the year 1751, chiefly for the benefit of the Wends or Vandals, residing in the neighbouring district. These people are a distinct nation of the Slavonic race, though living in the midst of the Germans. They are very tenacious of their own language, and adhere to their ancient customs, and especially to their peculiarities of dress. At the beginning of the last century, they are said to have still retained some heathenish rights, and even to have had their household gods. In many villages and districts in Upper and Lower Lusatia, they form the chief portion of the population,-- and have divine service performed in their own language, of which there are two dialects. The Holy Scriptures, the formularies of the Lutheran Church, and, a number of religious books, among the rest, Arndt's Wahres Christenthum, (True Christianity,) have been translated into the Wendish language. Of the last-mentioned valuable work, a large edition was published, about twenty years ago, at the expense of a British benefactor, a well-known clergyman of the Church of England. The Psalter and some of the Epistles were translated and printed in the year 1727, at the expense of the Baroness von Gersdorff, the maternal grandmother of Count Zinzendorf, a lady distinguished for her talents, her piety, and her energy of character,--who also shewed her love for this long-neglected race, by founding an institution for its moral and religious benefit. According to Count Krasinski, their number in Upper and Lower Lusatia amounts to above 144,000, of whom the majority are now subjects of Prussia. See a short but very interesting notice of this peculiar people, on pp.7 and 461 of Krasinski's lately published " Lectures on the Religious History of the Slavonic Nations,"--which, as containing a mass of authentic information on an important subject, in a small compass, and at a moderate price,--the editor begs leave earnestly to recommend to the notice and attentive perusal of his brethren, and the readers of this journal generally. Of the importance of the subject, especially at the present juncture, some idea may be formed from the simple statement of the fact, that nearly one half of the population of Europe belong to the great Slavonian family.] I had likewise the pleasure of becoming successively acquainted with our congregations by our Saviour in the discharge of my various functions, and in my intercourse with the Brethren and Sisters. In 1789, I was favoured for the first time to attend a synod of the Brethren's Unity, at which I was appointed a member of the Mission-Board; and on August 25th, I was consecrated a bishop by the venerable Bishop Spangenberg, assisted by the Bishops Jeremiah Risler and John Frederic Reichel.
In 1790, being charged with the official visitation of our Mission in Surinam, I set out for that colony with my dear wife, in the beginning of September, accompanied by Br. and Sr. Hans Wied. [Note: See Memoir of the life of Br. Hans Wied, for twenty years Superintendent of the Mission in Surinam, Periodical Accounts, Vol. xvii, p.297.] I was not without serious apprehensions, when undertaking this commission, when /275/ I considered the probable fatigue of the journey, the heat of the climate, and the nature of the duties which I should be called upon to discharge; but I again put my trust in the Lord, and was not confounded. After a speedy voyage of thirty-eight days, we arrived at Paramaribo, where we took up our quarters for the following five months. In the discharge of my important mission, our Saviour graciously owned my humble efforts, and enabled me to acquire the affection and confidence of the Brethren engaged in the work. In January, 1791, most of our Missionaries from the different stations met at Paramaribo, for the purpose of inquiring into the best means of prosecuting the Lord's work; and we felt truly grateful to our Saviour for the spirit of brotherly love and mutual confidence, in which all our deliberations were conducted. On this occasion, I had the pleasure of seeing several baptized converts from among the free negroes, as also some members of the Indian congregation at Hope, who made a very favourable impression upon me. It was, indeed, impossible to witness the work of God which here presented itself to my view, without sensations of devout amazement and adoring gratitude. A considerable number of negroes were pointed out to me, who, after having been powerfully awakened by the Spirit of God, had approved themselves faithful and consistent followers of Jesus for upwards of ten or twelve years, "in the midst of an adulterous and perverse generation." Never shall I forget the emotions that pervaded my heart, when approaching the Lord's table with the negro congregation at Paramaribo. The sight of so many precious souls, rescued from the superstition and ignorance of heathenism, " delivered from the power of darkness," and "translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son;" the unaffected devotion in which they appeared to have assembled to partake of the Holy Sacrament, and the presence of the Lord in the midst of us, were well calculated to leave an indelible impression on our minds. On such occasions, I often wept for joy, and blessed the Saviour's name. The declarations of the negroes, with whom I had the favour of conversing individually previous to the celebration of the Holy Communion, were often very edifying, and fully satisfied me, that our Brethren had not been labouring among them in vain. After visiting at Sommelsdyk and several other plantations, I bade farewell to my dear Brethren and Sisters, and the flock intrusted to their charge, and arrived in the Texel on July 2nd. The narrow escape we experienced on our voyage homewards, near the Isle of Wight, was a fresh proof of the Lord's providential care, which had been so often vouchsafed to us. We were overtaken by a violent thunder-storm, during which the lightning struck so close to our vessel, that she was filled with sulphurous smoke, and all the passengers on board were stunned. At first, we feared the lightning might have struck the vessel and caused her to spring a leak; but, on examination, it was ascertained, with fervent gratitude to the Lord, that we had been mercifully preserved.
From 1791 to 1795, we resided at Berthelsdorf, in one of the houses which had been newly erected, for the members of the Elders' Conference of the Unity. In the last-mentioned year, I was appointed, in May, to visit the congregations and societies of the Brethren in Great Britain and Ireland. Though my imperfect knowledge of the English language appeared to disqualify me for an efficient discharge of so important a duty, I looked to the Lord in my poverty and infirmity, and /276/ waited on Him in fervent prayer. After a short stay in London, I proceeded, by way of Bedford, to Fulneck, where, from September 30th till October 13th, forty-four Brethren and Sisters, engaged in the service of the British(**) branch of our Church, met at a Conference, which will not easily be forgotten by those who enjoyed the privilege of attending it. Brotherly love, and an earnest desire to promote the cause of the Lord, characterised our meetings generally. We then proceeded to South Wales and Ireland; and, after visiting our congregation at Ayr, in Scotland, we returned to Berthelsdorf, where we arrived in safety on August 12th, after an absence of fourteen and a half months.
In 1797, I was frequently reminded, by increasing debility, of my approaching end, and I prayed my Saviour to prepare me for that solemn event, that, whenever summoned hence, I might pass over into His arms of love, as a poor sinner, stripped of all self-righteousness, and trusting alone in His merits and death. Contrary to my expectations, however, I regained my former strength in the spring of 1798, and spent the whole of that year in comparatively good health. Towards the close of 1803, I was again appointed to hold an official visitation of our congregation at Kleinwelke,--the last commission of that description which I was enabled to perform; for, from that time, my strength began rapidly to decline.
Thus far his own narrative.
Our late Br. Liebisch invariably enjoyed the affection, confidence, and esteem of his colleagues, as well as of all who were favoured to stand in official connexion with him. His character was that of a genuine disciple of Jesus, with whom he lived in close and constant communion, and whom to serve, he accounted his highest privilege. Of himself and his own powers he had a very low opinion. When he received a commission in the Lord's service, he was frequently much cast down by a sense of his insufficiency and unworthiness; and nothing but the firm conviction that his Saviour was with him, sustained his courage. And we can say with truth, that our Lord and Saviour was pleased to lay an abundant blessing on the labours of our late revered brother, during his service of forty-six years in various parts of the Unity. In proof of our statement, we may confidently appeal to his service of twelve years among the Single Brethren and youths at Herrnhut and Zeyst; to the eight years he spent as a missionary on the coast of Labrador; and to the twenty-six years during which he was a member of the Elders' Conference of the Unity. Whenever he referred to the assistance and support which the Lord had vouchsafed to him throughout his service, or to the merciful deliverances which he had frequently enjoyed, it was always with feelings of devout and fervent gratitude. Through his long experience in various offices, he had acquired a treasure of practical knowledge, of which he faithfully availed himself for the good of the Brethren's Church. He always took the liveliest interest in the prosperity of our Missionary work, with which he had become more closely acquainted by his own service in Labrador, and by his visitation in Surinam.
Though his constitution was weak, he generally enjoyed good health during the latter years of his life, being but seldom interrupted in his wonted activity, in which he took such delight, that he frequently expressed the wish, to be summoned into his eternal rest, while engaged in /277/ the discharge of his official functions. His desire was mercifully granted. On November 24th he was still able to attend the session of the Elders' Conference, though in a very weak state of health; but from that time so visible a decline in his strength was perceptible, that he was fully convinced of his approaching end. He frequently expressed this conviction, adding, that he rejoiced in the prospect of appearing before God, as a poor sinner, having nothing in himself deserving acceptance, but clothed in the Saviour's blood-bought righteousness. Early in the morning of December 3rd, 1809, the welcome summons arrived, and he departed gently and peacefully, in the 71st year of his earthly pilgrimage.