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May a blessing rest on this your first effort as a writer; may it give much pleasure and no pain to those who have been so kind to you; and may you find, as I have done, that the ways of literature (like those of heavenly wisdom) are ways of pleasantness, and her paths peace!
2 May 1933
Your ever affectionate Friend,
The Author of
AN ENGLISH GIRL'S ACCOUNT
BETWEEN four and five hundred years ago, John Huss preached a reformed Christianity among the Germans. He took the Bible for his guide, and was put to death for his doctrines, though they were those of Jesus Christ himself. But there is a good old saying, that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church ;" and from the blood of John Huss may be said to have sprung the reformed church of the Moravians, certain of whom were his followers, and preserved his doctrines among them through a long course of years, though obliged to do so in great privacy, for fear of their lives.
In the year 1722, these poor people found a kind friend in a young German nobleman, named Count Zinzendorf. He gave them shelter on his estate of Bertholdsdorf, in Lusatia, where a piece of ground was bestowed on them near the Hut-berg, or Watch-hill, and here they built themselves a village; which has since become famous, under the name of Herrnhut. The Count formed them into a church, based on their own laws and discipline, and protected those who joined them, he himself being their director. So many persons flocked to Herrnhut to enjoy the free exercise of their faith, that the Saxon government became alarmed, and forbade the Count to receive any more settlers. On this he quitted Herrnhut, took holy orders, and became a kind of missionary. He visited England, went twice to America, and after a varied course of usefulness under persecution, returned to England, and took up his abode at Lindsay House, Chelsea, the old palace of the Duchess of Mazarin. Meanwhile, several of the Moravians at Herrnhut had gone to Greenland as missionaries. The missionary spirit increased among them, and many went abroad to preach the gospel in other lands.
Their lives were pure and simple, their piety fervent. The famous Wesley fell in with a party of them in his early life, on board a ship bound for America, where they were going to preach the gospel in Georgia; and their teaching and example powerfully influenced him in his subsequent career. Some of their practices were peculiar, as will be found in the following pages. For instance, they form themselves into brotherhoods and sisterhoods, though not at all in the spirit of the Roman Catholics, nor does it prevent them from marrying, though, in certain cases, the wives are chosen by lot, as when a brother, who is about to go abroad as a missionary, is unprovided with a wife, and has no especial predilection. The elders of his fraternity, who are pretty well acquainted with the characters of all its members through their superintendents, then make it the subject of special prayer that the Lord will direct his and their choice. After this, they select a certain number of names of the females they judge most suitable, and he draws one of them by lot. She on whom the lot falls is not compelled to marry against her will, but she almost always consents, and the marriages are almost always happy.
The Moravians are a church, not a sect, and were recognised as such by the English parliament in 1749, on which occasion the Bishop of Worcester declared "it would be a subject of rejoicing, not only to him and the whole bench, but to the entire Protestant church, should the British nation declare itself favourable to it; for whatever it might do for this ancient church, must encourage every evangelical Christian to hope the best from England." This fact is not generally known; and the Moravians are misunderstood by many who are only acquainted with them by hearsay.
They are very fond of music, and of the very finest kind, in their religious services; and the voice of song is continually heard in their dwellings on every little domestic festival, while the festivals of the church are proclaimed from the church-tower by the solemn sounding of trumpets. Their hymnbook (the English version of which was revised by James Montgomery) is one of the most beautiful collections of religious poetry in existence. There are aged persons among them who have learnt by heart nearly the whole collection, which numbers upwards of two thousand. The chil