The congregation of the Brethren undertook the service of the gospel among the heathen without having any very extensive views or intentions. They had heard of the laudable endeavours of the Reverend Mr. Egede to bring the natives of Greenland to the knowledge of Christ; but were informed at the same time that the difficulties arising partly from THAT undertaking itself, and partly from adventitious circumstances, might possibly defeat the purposes of the arduous labours of that worthy man. They were, about the same time, made acquainted with the desire of a negroe, who having been baptized at Copenhagen, now ardently wished that his sister, a slave in St. Thomas, might also be instructed in the way of life. The then warden of the congregation at Herrnhut, who had, according to the grace of God given him already in his younger days, made a firm resolution to promote the missions among the heathen to the extent of his abilities, did not fail to recommend the abovementioned objects in the strongest terms.
/34/ Upon this God moved the hearts of two brethren to agree together before the Lord, that they would undertake a voyage to St. Thomas in order to acquaint the said slave how she might be saved through faith in Christ Jesus: the Lord likewise made two other brethren willing to go to Greenland. These brethren having, after mature deliberation and hearty prayers to God, obtained sufficient clearness in this matter, mentioned their design and purpose, by letters, to the congregation. However a whole year elapsed ere the congregation came to a resolution to permit these brethren to go to St. Thomas and to Greenland. And thus they had sufficient time to have changed their minds; but they kept to their first resolution. On their setting out, they were commended to the Lord, and to the word of his grace, with the assurance that their brethren would thank God, if they should, by their walk and conversation, bring only one or another of their fellow-creatures to Christ [NOTE: See David Crantz's History of Greenland, vol. i. p. 38, fqq. and Oldendorp's History of the Missions in St. Thomas, &c. vol. ii. b. 1. part 4.].
Soon after this, another opportunity offered to get among the heathen in the West Indies. The Lord-Chamberlain de Pless of Copenhagen wished to work some new sugar plantations in St. Croix by negroe slaves; and to this end he applied to the congregation at Herrnhut to send some brethren that might have the inspection over them. He thought thereby to do some good, and by means of the brethren to lead his poor slaves to the way of life. A considerable number of brethren soon offered themselves, who, as this /35/ proposal appeared very fair, were inclined to go to St. Croix, and take upon them the inspection of those slaves. But it was found in the sequel, that the circumstances connected with such inspection did not well suit with the service of the gospel, for which reason the brethren soon entirely relinquished that mode of proceeding [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Mission, vol. ii. b. 1, 5 and 7.]. In the meantime other brethren came to St. Thomas, with the view of taking the best care they could of those negroes who had been spoken with in love by the first brethren who had been there [NOTE: Ibid. vol. ii. b. 2. part 1.]; and they arrived very seasonably. For God, remembering the prayers and tears of the former brethren for the salvation of the poor negroes [NOTE: Ibid. vol. ii. b. 1. part 6.], had, by his good Spirit, stirred up in many negroes a desire after the gospel of Christ. Great numbers of these came in the evenings, after their labour was done, to the brethren, and received the instructions they gave them with thankful hearts. The gospel approved itself to them as the power of God, and many were turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God; by which the brethren were so much encouraged as to spend day and night in preaching Christ, not only to adults, but also to children [NOTE: Ibid. vol. ii. b. 2. part 1.].
The congregation of the brethren, being made acquainted with this divine blessing which attended the preaching in St. Thomas, thought themselves obliged to obtain for their brethren, whom our Lord Jesus Christ owned so graciously, an ordination that /36/ might be valid also in the fight of men. They acquainted Doctor Jablonsky, bishop of the Bohemian and Moravian brethren, who was then first chaplain to the king of Prussia, with the aforesaid circumstances; and he, having previously consulted with, and obtained the full content of his colleague, the Reverend Sitkovius, of Polish Lissa, consecrated the Moravian brother David Nitschmann, whom the brethren had chosen, to be a bishop of the Brethren's church, with a view that he might confer ordination on the servants of Christ labouring among the heathen [NOTE: See David Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 63, p. 196]. Soon after this, Bishop David Nitschmann sent a written ordination to brother Frederic Martin in St. Thomas. The cause of this was, that David Nitschmann was at that time obliged to go on a visitation to North-America, and that Frederic Martin could not possibly leave his people, who were then burning with desire for the gospel [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Mission, vol. ii. b. 2. part 6.].
Upon this, now one and then another nation of the heathen, was recommended to the service of the Brethren in the gospel. This called for their attention, and made them resolve on the one hand, never to go to any heathen without a call, in which the hand of God was evident to them; and on the other hand, never to refuse any call among the heathen, in which they could perceive the finger of the Lord, though they should see beforehand that such a call might endanger their lives, and be otherwise connected with /37/ many things very difficult to human nature; and this is actually their intention to this very hour.
They had at the same time a well-grounded hope, that our Lord Jesus Christ himself, would always find out and prepare such people, whom he might make use of in executing his thoughts of peace toward any heathenish country or nation. This he hath also done hitherto in great mercy among the brethren's people. When anybody was wanted here or there among the heathen, he touched now the heart of this, and then of that brother, by his gracious operation, and encouraged and made them willing for that purpose. If any place could be suitably served by brethren that were not brought up to study, but to a different way of life, the Lord suffered us not to want people who were willing to that end. But whenever circumstances required a learned brother, God was also pleased to stir up such of this class, who heartily devoted themselves to the service of our Saviour among the heathen [NOTE: See David Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 267, p. 547.].
Often have I been astonished at the willingness and desire of the brethren for this service. Having once made known on a prayer- day, at Bethlehem in North America, that five persons were departed this life in a very short time at St. Thomas, where the difficulties of our brethren were then very great, not less than eight brethren voluntarily offered themselves on that very day, to go thither and replace them. We have certainly cause to thank the Lord our Redeemer alone for this; especially as the service of the gospel among the heathen is no easy matter [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Missions in St. Thomas, &c. vol. ii. b. 5. part 1.]. We lay it down, therefore, /38/ as a maxim, never to persuade, much less to urge anyone to go as a missionary among the heathen.
Among other heathen, whom the brethren were desired to attend, were the negroes in South Carolina, who were employed in the cultivation of rice. A certain Society in England thought themselves obliged to send teachers to them, in order to rescue them from their ignorance and foolishness. But before the brethren resolved to appoint anyone for this purpose, the then Archbishop of Canterbury (Potter) was asked by a committee of the said Society, what was his opinion of this matter? His answer was: That he had been long acquainted with the Moravian Brethren; that he knew the brethren of Herrnhut acknowledged the confession of Augsburg, which was not contrary to the thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England. With regard to their constitution, he must confess, that the brethren had in that respect something preferable, and the Brethren's Church was unquestionably to be considered as an apostolical and episcopal church; he was therefore of opinion that it would be well to let the Brethren go to preach the gospel among the heathen [NOTE: See Acta Fratrum Unitatis in Anglia, Report, p. 7.].
Thereupon two brethren actually went over to Carolina, and made an attempt among the negroes there; but not finding any entrance with them, after some time, they gave it up again [NOTE: See Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 73, p. 113. part 81, p. 226. part 82, p. 229.]. /39/
Count de Zinzendorf's acquaintance with divers gentlemen in Holland, and elsewhere, gave rise to various other attempts of this kind. And among others the voyages of the brethren to Ceylon among the Cingalese, to the Cape among the Hottentots, to Surinam and Berbice among the Arawacks, Warauen, &c. to Guinea among the Africans, to New York among the Mahikanders, &c. [NOTE: See Crantz's History of the Brethren -- of Ceylon, part 80. -- of the Cape, part 79. -- and f. of Berbice, part 80. -- of Suriname, part 62, &c -- of Guinea, part 79. -- and f. of the Mahikanders, part 91, and f.] deserve to be mentioned. It is not only my intention here to speak diffusively of what they suffered, and how many lost their lives in so doing; for after all it is mere grace when we are counted worthy of suffering for the sake of Jesus, whom we serve. But it may be easily conceived that the brethren, by means of these attempts, got much better acquainted with those things that oppose their labours among the heathen. And to say something of this, is perfectly consistent with the intention of this treatise. The brethren, in the first place, perceived that those societies that were established for furthering the conversion of the heathen, were a little apprehensive lest they, the brethren, should obstruct somehow or other their missions; which thought could not be productive of any good consequences. For this very reason the brethren renewed their determination, to go in preference to such heathen, who as yet had never had Christ Jesus preached unto them, and had no missionaries among them. But should they be called to such heathen among whom other missionaries had laboured /40/ before them; yet it was their fixed resolution not to preach to those souls, who were already under the care of others, and still less to draw them off and bring them over to themselves. The mind of the brethren concerning this and sundry other points, of which we shall still say something more, is to be found in a piece which the evangelical brethren printed separately in 1740, concerning their present and future labours among the Indians, slaves and other heathen, and which was afterwards inserted in the Budingen Collections, vol. i. p. 182, &c. See likewise Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 281, p. 576, &c.
The brethren observed, secondly, that the divisions of Christendom in so many parties, made no favourable impression on the heathen. For if they hear one party affirm, we are the true church, and whoever would be saved, must join with us, and that the second, third, and fourth parties maintain the same concerning themselves; then they say: how can we know or judge which party among you is in the right; do you agree first among yourselves. Thus it happened by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that the brethren firmly resolved, to be neither for nor against this or the other party, but simply to preach Christ [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Mission in St. Thomas, &c. vol. b. 4. part 1.]. And experience hath shown, that our Lord and Saviour graciously owned and blessed this method among the heathen. /41/
Another hindrance to the preaching of the gospel among the heathen, arose in the European planters and merchants, from a fear and concern lest it should hurt their commerce if the heathen were made wiser, and even learned to read and write. Nor were the gentlemen in the West-Indies without concern, lest their lives should be endangered, if the negroes, by dint of instruction, should get more understanding. Being once in St. Thomas, one of them said to me: Only consider whether that is proper. If we calculate the number of negroes in this island, we shall always find a hundred of them to one white man. Now if those are made wiser, how can we be safe? Others had likewise scruples on account of the heathen who are quite free in their country, though under the authority of this or the other Christian king or lord, whether, on being made wiser, they might not withdraw from them. It cannot be denied but that there is reason in such conjectures; this induced the brethren in their labour among the heathen to lay down the following invariable principles. Namely,
1. In our labour among the heathen, we will particularly endeavour, that they become converted to Christ Jesus with all their heart. This being the case, they will not only become wiser, but also better; then we shall have no need to fear that the same will occur, which happens to people who take in something of the doctrine of Jesus with the head, but whole hearts remain void and destitute of that godliness which is in Christ Jesus, such are indeed bad people. Many years experience has incontestably confirmed us in these ideas; and we are firmly persuaded, that it is not /42/ our call to aim anywhere at national conversions, or to introduce the Christian religion among whole nations.
2. We will consider it as our duty, that our missionaries among the heathen, are not to interfere with the commerce between them and the merchants, which ought never to be disturbed by us, or any fault of ours. Nay, we will faithfully inculcate to the heathen who belong to us, that they must in their dealings avoid all fraud and deceit, (which are otherwise so peculiar to the heathen), and that they shall approve themselves honest and upright in all respects.
3. We will never omit diligently to set before the negroe slaves the doctrines which the apostles preached to servants. Servants in those days were almost universally slaves. We will put them in mind that it is not by chance, but it is of God, that one man is a master and another a slave, and that therefore they ought to acquiesce with the ways of God; nay, that their service, if done with all faithfulness for the sake of Jesus, is looked upon as though they were serving our Lord Jesus Christ. This we have indeed done hitherto, and, God be praised, with good effect [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Mission, &c. vol. ii. b. 3. part 1. b. 4. parts 4 and 5.].
4. We will frequently remind the heathen of what Paul saith: "Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power but of God; the powers that be, are ordained of God.
The custom of making a slave free, as soon as he is baptized, which, in some countries, is grounded on certain laws, has also proved a principal hindrance to /43/ the preaching of the gospel among the heathen [NOTE: I mean not to deny here that there are also other causes, which were impediments to the conversion of the negroes of both sexes, which are by no means commendable.]. For if a master, who knew this, must think: how shall I manage, if I must declare all my slaves free, who are converted to Christianity? He could naturally not wish that his negroes might be converted.
This hath given the brethren occasion to consider this matter according to the scriptures, and the example of the apostles. In the apostolic congregations some brethren were masters, and others were slaves; which is evident from the exhortations, which on the one hand were given to masters, and on the other hand to slaves. But we find nowhere that the apostles commanded the masters to emancipate their slaves. Nay, when Onesimus was run away from his master, and afterwards, through the service of Paul, became converted to Christ; Paul sent him again to his master Philemon, and cordially interceded for him. This is likewise the mind of the brethren with regard to the slaves; for we should not deem ourselves justifiable to act otherwise herein, than the apostles of the Lord did.
The principal hindrance to the propagation of the gospel lies in the heathen themselves. The brethren have to deal with two sorts of heathen. The one sort are usually called savages, and these live in boundless liberty. To the other sort we reckon the negroes, these are under so hard a yoke, and such bitter thraldom, that one can scarcely think of them without compassion. /44/ Different as these two sorts of heathen are, with regard to their education, way of life, manner of thinking, customs, and other circumstances; yet they are perfectly alike in being to the highest degree corrupted. And what is said in holy writ concerning the heathen (part 3) is equally applicable to both of the aforementioned sorts of heathen. To the depravity in body and soul, which they have in common with all men, must be added the most abominable crimes propagated amongst them. To these we may reckon their horrible idolatries, sorceries, poisonings, and inhuman cruelties.
Notwithstanding all this, one likewise finds among them divers things, which in themselves are not to be rejected. Certain abominable things, which occur among such as are called Christians, (though they are far from deserving this name) are not to be found even among the heathen. In their common talk they are frequently so sensible, that you cannot object to it. Many of their actions are of such a nature, as to be in themselves unblamable, so that many who profess the doctrine of Christ without acting conformably to it, must be put to shame by them. Neither is this to be wondered at. For if God had given over the heathen, who knew there was a God who had made all things, but neither honoured nor served him, to such gross errors and to such abominable crimes, by way of punishment, as appears from part 3: what can those men otherwise expect, who know from the Bible that God hath given up to death for them his only begotten Son, and that Christ, who was made an offering for them upon the cross, in order to redeem them from the misery of sin, and from the power of Satan, can and will make them everlastingly happy, and who yet reject this grace, because they love darkness rather than light? They surely will be more severely punished with errors, foolishnesses, /45/ and sins, than the heathen; for they contract far more guilt than the heathen.
But what advice can be given the brethren, who go among the heathen, under such circumstances? The first thing is, that they should not be so terrified by the inhuman wickedness prevailing among the heathen, as to give up their hopes in labouring among them. For Christ hath tasted death for all, and he is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. He hath shed his blood for the heathen also; they are bought with a price. God spake by the prophets already in the Old Testament, giving the most precious promises to the heathen, that they should be joint heirs of his kingdom, (part 6). Our Lord Jesus Christ declared to the Jews, not only by parables, but by express words, that the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and given unto the Gentiles, (part 8). He sent forth his disciples to preach the gospel to all the heathen, and to declare to them that, through faith, they should obtain forgiveness of sins and eternal life, (part 9). The apostles did this, and especially Paul, (part 10), and thus the most glorious churches were formed from among the heathen, who received the gospel by faith, as e.g. at Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, &c. We ourselves have frequently seen in our days, according to the grace of God that was with us, some of the most impious heathen, that were really an abomination, become dear children of God. For the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all them that believe. A witness of the truth, therefore, and of the gospel, who hath been called by Jesus Christ to labour among the heathen, /46/ can, and should indeed, begin his work with pleasures he surely will not labour in vain. For God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
On the other hand, the brethren should take care not to be deceived by appearances, as though the heathen were already a good sort of people. What though a heathen may not do this or the other evil, and doth yet commit a hundred other things that are equally bad; can it be said that such a one is on the way of life? Our Saviour saith: "A good tree CANNOT BRING FORTH EVIL FRUIT." Or if a heathen speaks a sensible word now and then, or does this or that which in itself is not bad, but laudable and good; yet in all other things, which man ought to do according to the will of God, he absolutely falls short; can it therefore be said, that that man is on the right way? If a man be of a sanguine disposition, and compassionate towards them that are in distress, it is so far good. But if the same person spends his life, openly or privately, in rioting and drunkenness, in fornication and uncleanness, and in other cases lies and cheats; can he be called a virtuous man? It must moreover be considered from what motive such things are done; for whatever doth not spring from the love of God and the love of one's neighbour, though it be useful to others and not wrong in itself, yet it doth not prove much in favour of him that doeth it. I will illustrate this by an instance. The northern Indians are very hospitable; and if someone happens to come into their hut, they will share the last morsel with him. This in itself is very well. But whence comes it? The Indians are very revengeful, and retain /47/ their wrath a long while, nay they will propagate it to their children's children. Now if an Indian be hungry, and another should refuse to give him to eat of what he hath, that man will bear him malice; and if he, after ten years or more, can destroy him by poison, or in any other manner, he will be sure to do it. The Indians are afraid of this, and this fear compels them to be hospitable. They will likewise take care not to wrong others; being apprehensive of the vengeance of others, which they know they cannot escape. Of this a singular instance came to my knowledge. An Indian widow, who had a little boy, married a second husband, who used her ill, nor did by her what he ought to have done. Now the son, being grown up, said to his father-in-law [NOTE: ??? -- Should it not read "stepfather"?], Why didst thou use my mother so ill?, and killed him on the spot. This therefore is the reason, why parents let their children have their own will in all things; because they are afraid, lest the children, when grown up, would take revenge on them.
Thus those heathen, who in some respects are become moral, must by the gospel be brought to Jesus Christ, even as well as those who are totally destitute of any morality. He alone can save both the one and the other from their sins, and deliver them from the power of darkness. But our brethren have also, in the third place, this to observe among the heathen, viz. to examine with all faithfulness and patience, whether the Holy Spirit has begun his work in one or the other. For when a soul is prepared by his grace, and obtains some clearness of his divine truth, then one may speak freely to such an one, and one finds open ears. /48/ For the conversion of the heathen is the work of God. He delivers them from the power of darkness, and translates them into the kingdom of his dear Son. Wherever the brethren find an entrance with the gospel among the heathen, there they are by God's grace already prepared to receive it. Hence we have instances that heathen have prayed to God to send them one that might shew them the way of life; and when a brother came and preached the gospel to them, they considered it as a proof that their prayers were heard, and became obedient to it with joy. See David Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 259. p. 534.
Satan, being ever employed to hinder all that is good, wherever he can, it may be easily imagined that he would not be idle in endeavouring to stem the course of the gospel among the heathen. For he is the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience, that is, in men who live not in the faith of the Son of God, Eph. ii. 2., and the heathen are under his power and dominion, Acts xxvi. 18. Hence he is called the God of this world, who hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ should shine unto them, 2 Cor. iv. 4.
Most of the heathen, with whom we are become acquainted, have a knowledge of Satan, and take him to be the author of evil. When they are in perplexity, and are afraid of him, they have recourse to prayers, and even make offerings to him, that he may not hurt them. The worst is, that the words of our Saviour, which he spake to the Jews, are equally applicable to the heathen, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father YE WILL DO," John viii. 44.
/49/ Satan hath also his peculiar servants among the heathen. These generally act like Elymas the sorcerer, who, as a child of the devil, was full of all subtlety and all mischief, an enemy of all righteousness, who ceased not to pervert the right ways of the Lord, Acts xiii. 8, fqq. Such labour incessantly to oppose the servants of Christ who preach the gospel among the heathen. Of which a particular instance is to be found in Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 166, p. 383, part 288, p. 590, &c.
What is to be done in this case?
1. Whoever continually observes the words of John, "Little children, abide in him, the Saviour," I John ii. 28., will walk securely. Believers are called in the scriptures doves, lambs, sheep, children: How could these, if it depended on them, stand against Satan? But if we abide in Jesus, and if he be with us, no enemy can prevail against us, though he may cause us much tribulation, as appears plainly from Rev. ii. 10.
2. As Satan is to be overcome by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, Rev. xii. 11., the servants of Jesus take this for their weapons, Eph. vi. 10, fqq. Thus they win the field, and the God of peace himself bruises Satan under their feet, Rom. xvi. 20.
3. If they persevere in prayer and supplication before God, and simply pour out their complaints at his feet, then shall they draw out of the ocean of his grace as much as they can wish. And the enemy shall not be able to keep back one soul that would fain be delivered from the yoke of Satan, and for this cause applies, looks to, and calls upon the Lord.
/50/ As the brethren prefer going to those heathen, who never before had any missionaries among them, see part 30, they consequently meet with more difficulties than usual in learning their language. For among those heathen, who know nothing of reading or writing, one cannot meet with any books or writings, which might help to make the learning of a language easy. They are obliged therefore to shew this and the other thing to the heathen, if they want to speak with them, to observe well the name that they hear and write it down, and thus become acquainted with it. Reducing, in process of time, all this into alphabetical order, it forms a little dictionary. And when they have properly noted down the words which belong to the connection of speech, and which denote this or that action; they then form, perhaps, a little grammar of that language. By and by they perceive, that the heathen want words to express this or the other thing, with which they are either not acquainted, or have never before thought of. They then furnish them with new words, or else the heathen perhaps invent some [NOTE: See Crantz's History of Greenland, vol. ii. b. 8, part 4, p. 236. and Oldendorp's History of the Mission in St. Thomas, &c. &c. vol. ii. b. 5, part 1.].
All this is a tedious affair, but not without its usefulness [NOTE: See, for example, what is mentioned to have occurred to the brethren among the Arawacks in Berbice. Crantz's History of the Brethren, p. 387, part 168.]. As long as the brethren cannot yet speak, they teach by example. The heathen look at them while at work, and get an impression of them, as of a /51/ good, and outwardly useful people: whereas in general they have not the best impression of the Christians, which may perhaps be the fault of many people, who trade with them.
Now the heathen, finding that the brethren seek not their own, but the good of their souls; this removes an apprehension, which easily arises in them, when they have to do with Europeans. That the brethren occasionally yield them, according to Christian love, various little services, is so far right. Only they must beware of giving the smallest occasion to a surmise, as though they wanted to bring the heathen over to their way of thinking by dint of presents. For that would be attended with evil consequences. The time of waiting serves meanwhile this good purpose, that the brethren may watch in silence, (which is very necessary) to see whether there be here or there a person, whom God himself is preparing, by his grace, to hear and receive a word concerning Christ Jesus, and of our salvation in him.
Though all the difficulties I have mentioned, together with the expenses of the voyages of the brethren, and their needful support, might well have discouraged them in their undertakings among the heathen; yet this was not the case. Through God's grace, they rather became more confident, in hopes, that God our Saviour, who well knew that they had undertaken this work in singleness of heart and entirely for his sake, would surely assist them. Though opposition was, according to the state of the times in which we live, in some respects unavoidable: yet they trusted the Lord himself would clear up so much the more their /52/ disinterested intentions. They thought, if he only be with us in mercy, and bless our labours; we shall judge ourselves sufficiently rewarded for all our pains.
I must, however, observe, that so many brethren did not in the beginning expect, that so many heathen would be converted through their poor service. They could not tell, whether the time was already come, when the multitude of the Gentiles should come to Christ, and seek their salvation and deliverance by him. They only aimed therefore at bringing some few souls upon the way of life, and, through his gracious assistance, to preserve them therein [NOTE: See Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 103. p. 268, and Oldendorp's History of the Mission in St. Thomas, &c. vol. ii. b. 3. part 12.]. And hearing that so many were baptized at once in St. Thomas, their then warden, Count de Zinzendorf, was apprehensive lest the labour of the brethren on the souls of the heathen should not have a sufficient foundation. He therefore did everything that lay in his power to bring it to pass that only few might be gathered, but that those few might be particularly well attended to. But in process of time other brethren, and especially bishop Johannes de Watteville, thought it was not for us to limit the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the course of the gospel; for, if the Saviour was with us, one might thoroughly and successfully labour also upon many. This matter having been maturely weighed at a synod in the presence of the Lord, the thought was found to be well grounded, namely, that, according to the saying of Jesus in Matt. xiii. 47, fqq., we were not to confine ourselves to a few only. From the time the work was carried on with more alacrity, and more and more were added to those that were gained by the gospel; yet it must be presupposed that all and everyone /53/ in particular were to be carefully attended to by the brethren according to the best of their ability [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Mission in St. Thomas, &c. vol. ii. b. 3. part 9.].
Signs and wonders, and extraordinary gifts, are not to be found among the brethren; and whoever would strive to obtain these, may find his lesson in the words of Paul: "And yet shew I unto you a more excellent way -- Follow after charity," I Cor. xii. 31, to chap. xiv. 1. We thank God our Saviour, who gives our brethren patience to wait for the right time, when his blessing shall appear. In Surinam and Berbice, for example, they waited twelve years, before they saw any fruits of their labours, prayers and tears: but their hope was not in vain. The brethren in Nancavery, one of the Nicobar Islands, have been stationed there under heavy sicknesses, great danger of their lives, and many hard circumstances, for a considerable time; yet they desire not to go away from thence; but, on the contrary, beg that we would not be weary in hope. May our Lord Jesus Christ remember them in mercy, and grant them yet to see their joy in the heathen there, who are corrupt in the highest degree [NOTE: See Crantz's History of the Brethren, parts 239 and 301. -- It is to be observed, that this mission of the Brethren has been in this present year given up.].
If it be asked how the service and concerns of the missions are cared for; I will relate in few words, how it used to be formerly, and how it is at present in this respect. As long as Count de Zinzendorf was the Ordinary of the Brethren's congregations, he took faithful care of the missions, in conjunction with those /54/ brethren who were his immediate assistants. At present the labour of the brethren among the heathen is carried on under the administration of the direction of the Unity, which consists of a council chosen by all the members of the synod of the brethren, and confirmed by the Lord, of a larger or smaller number of persons, and usually denominated by the Elders Conference of the Unity. If any proposals are made for this or the other mission among the heathen, they are taken into consideration by the Elders Conference of the Unity, and are either accepted, laid aside, or referred to a future period. Does anyone offer himself to them for the service of the gospel among the heathen; they communicate thereupon with the Elders Conference of that congregation, of which he is a member. And if there is no particular scruple on his account, he is then recommended to the Elders Conference of that congregation to which he belongs, as a candidate for the heathen mission. If he is actually to set out on the journey to the heathen, he obtains his call and instruction from the Elders Conference of the Unity, and is dismissed with their blessing. If any missionaries are dispatched by this or the other Brethren's congregation, it is always done by commission from the Unity's Elders Conference.
The questions and reports of the brethren belonging to the missions, are addressed to the Elders Conference of the Unity, who answer them from time to time. They likewise consider of and advise the needful dispositions and regulations of every mission jointly with the missionaries. Should a visitation be deemed needful in this or the other mission, the Elders Conference of the Unity nominates a visitor, and then, according to the circumstances of the mission, duly concerts and confers with him. They likewise keep up a hearty /55/ connexion between the brethren on missions and the brethren's congregations, from whom they went forth among the heathen. For as they communicate to the congregations the reports that come in from the missions, in order that they might take share therein; so the missionaries are likewise furnished with accounts from the congregations. And thus they may mutually and interchangeably make for each other, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks before God [NOTE: In one of our litanies, which is prayed on Sunday morning in the Brethren's congregations, we always think of our present missions among the heathen in the following words:
Thou Light and Consolation of all the GENTILES!
Watch over thy messengers both by land and sea;
Accompany the word of their testimony,
Concerning thy blood, with spirit and fire;
Bless our congregations gathered from among
Preserve them as the apple of thine eye.
From Satan's vile temptations, and lying accusations:
Preserve them, gracious Lord, our God! As thou hast visited the Negroes, Greenlanders, Indians and Esquimaux, so visit all other heathen:
HEAR US, O DEAR LORD AND GOD! CHOR. O praise the Lord, all ye HEATHEN: CONG. Praise him, all ye nations!
Indeed every individual is also used to think of this in particular in his private prayers. On the congregation-days, which are held once in four weeks, we usually read some accounts and reports of the missions, and this reminds our brethren and sisters at the same time, how necessary it is to make intercession for them. But this is done in a particular manner on Epiphany, or the Heathen-Festival.].
/56/ If the missions require a supply of brethren and sisters, or a change be deemed necessary among the brethren and sisters there; this is, as well as the other, cared for by the Elders Conference of the Brethren's Unity. Should circumstances require that the magistrates, under whom the missions are placed, are to be applied to; the Elders Conference of the Unity serves them herein according to their ability. For the rest they are careful that all may be conducted honestly among the missions, not only before God, but also before men, and are always ready to advise and assist wherever they can.
But how are the expenses defrayed, which are unavoidable with the missions? Till the year 1741, the late Count Zinzendorf and his consort had to care for all. And whoever should give them the testimony that they acted herein not only according to their ability, but beyond it, such a one will be found to speak the truth before God and man. A society of sundry friends and brethren in Amsterdam, undertook many requisite expenses of the missions; but after a few years a misunderstanding happened, and then it ceased entirely. In 1741, at a synod held in London, a deacon was nominated, to whom much was committed; and amongst other things, he had to serve and care for the missions. In the same year a society of brethren for the furtherance of the gospel among the heathen was settled in London. But the deacon and his assistants, finding the incumbency of the heathen missions too extensive, and the London society of brethren (perhaps without their own fault) having become totally inactive, it was necessary to think of other means. Thus, for the support of the missions, separate deacons /57/ were appointed in the Unity, which have continued to this day.
And now I proceed to relate how this is at present. In the synod at Barby in 1775, four brethren were chosen by the collective members of the synod, and confirmed by the Lord; these, under the name of the Deputation of the Diacony of the Heathen Missions, have the commission (subject however to the inspection of the Unity's Elders Conference) to care for the missions. These brethren are of course in constant, cordial, and brotherly communication with the Elders Conference of the Unity; nor do the latter ever undertake anything in matters relative to the heathen missions without the concurrence of the former [NOTE: The Brethren's Society in London for the furtherance of the gospel among the heathen, had already been renewed again in 1768. See Appendix La. A. and Crantz's History of the Brethren, part 280, p. 573, &c.]. All the brethren's congregations take share in the missions, and the members of them give, twice in the year, what everyone thinks proper, with such heartiness, that we have great reason to thank the Lord for it. Brethren and friends, who do not reside in the Brethren's congregations, take pleasure also, of their own free will, to contribute something to the support of the missions. The whole of this the Deputation of the Diacony of the Heathen Missions receives and disburses it for the necessaries of those brethren and sisters that are either going to, or live already among the heathen. The necessary and expensive correspondence with the missions is likewise defrayed from this collection. We are also frequently obliged to help the brethren not only to a habitation for themselves, but also to churches and meeting-houses. Add /58/ to these the caring for the widows, as also for the children, whose parents are among the heathen, in the Unity's economies.
I pass over the misfortunes, for example, when the churches, as well as the dwelling-houses of the brethren, are destroyed by hurricanes, or when (as in time of war) all things become considerably dearer than usual [NOTE: See Oldendorp's History of the Missions, &c. vol. ii. b. 2. part 7.].
Does any one ask: But is that, which the Deputation of the Diacony for the heathen missions receives by kind and willing contributions, sufficient for all the expenses? We answer: It would never be sufficient, if everything that is absolutely necessary for the brethren and sisters in all the missions were to be supplied out of it. And it would be still less sufficient if the brethren, who belong to the mission, were to receive salaries from it. But not one of them accepts any salary; and he knows beforehand, ere he goes to the heathen, that he is not to expect any. The brethren and sisters belonging to ONE mission have a common housekeeping, and, wherever it is practicable, they endeavour, as much as possible, to earn their livelihood by the work of their hands, or at least to ease the expense thereof as well as they can [NOTE: See David Crantz's History of Greenland, vol. ii. p. 412. part 12. p. 415, &c. part 16.]. Thus we can praise and thank God, who hath hitherto helped us in mercy, and we have that filial confidence in him, that he will farther help us.
/59/ I must, however, still observe, that the Mission's Diacony keeps a very accurate account of all their receipts and disbursements. This account is, once a year, laid before the College of Wardens of the Unity, and these bring it into the Elders Conference of the Unity: After which an account of the same is also given to all the Elders Conferences in the Brethren's congregations, that everything may appear in a clear light, and God be everywhere praised for THIS gracious assistance.