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administrations of all those spiritual gifts that were administered to the apostles at the day of Pentecost: and these are the Comforter that has led us into all truth; and which was promised to abide with the true Church of Christ unto the end of the world. And by which we find baptism into Christ's death, (Rom. vi. 4,) death to all sin; become alive to God, by the power of Christ's resurrection, which worketh in us mightily ;-by which a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto us. And wo be unto us if we preach not the gospel of Christ; for in sending so great a salvation and deliverance from the law of sin and death, in believing and obeying this gospel, which is the gospel of Christ; in confessing and forsaking all sin, and denying ourselves, and bearing the cross of Christ against the world, flesh, and devil: we have found forgiveness of all our sins, and are made partakers of the grace of God, wherein we now stand. And all others, in believing and obeying, will have acceptance with God, and find salva. tion from their sins as well as we, God being no respecter of persons, but willing that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth and be saved.
BY ISAAC SCHULTZ,
BERKS CO., PA.
SchwenKFELDERS are a denomination of Christians, and are so called after Casper Schwenkfeld von Ossing, a Silesian knight, and counsellor to the Duke of Lignitz. He was born (seven years after the Saxon Reformer, Martin Luther, first beheld the light, in Eisleben) in Lower Silesia, A. D. 1490, in the principality of Lignitz. He studied several years at Cologne and other universities; he was well read in the Latin and Greek classics, as well as in the Fathers. He was a man of eminent learning. After finishing his university course, he was taken into service by the Duke of Munsterberg and Brieg, until he was disabled by bodily infirmities from attending to the business of the court. He then applied himself to the study of theology. About this time Luther commenced the Reformation in Germany, which attracted Schwenkfeld's whole attention. Every circumstance in his conduct and appearance was adapted to give him credit and influence. His morals were pure, and his life in all respects exemplary. His exhortations in favour of true and solid piety were warm and persuasive, and his principal zeal was employed in promoting piety among the people; he thus acquired the friendship and esteem of many learned and pious men, both in the Lutheran and Helvetic churches; among these were Luther, Melancthon, &c., whom he held in high esteem, but was decided in his opinion that they still held several relics of Popery in their doctrines.
He differed from Luther and other friends of the Reformation, in three points. The first of these points related to the doctrine concerning the Eucharist. Schwenkfeld inverted these words: "FOŪSÒ ŠOTI Tò owu à pou,” (Matt. xxvi. 26,) “ This is my body," and insisted on their being thus understood : “My body is this,” that is, such as is this bread which is broken and consumed; a true and real food, which nourishes, satisfies, and delights the soul. “My blood is this,” i.e., such in its effects as the wine, which strengthens and refreshes the heart. The second point on which he differed from Luther, was in his hypothesis relating to the efficacy of the divine word. He denied, for example, that the external word, which is committed to writing in the scriptures, was endowed with the power of healing, illuminating, and renewing the mind; and he ascribed this power to the internal word, which, according to his opinion, was Christ himself. His doctrine concerning the human nature of Christ, formed the third subject of debate between him and the Lutherans. He would not allow Christ's human nature, in its exalted state, to be called a creature, or a created substance, as such denomination appeared to him infinitely below his majestic dignity, united as it is, in that glorious state, with the divine essence.
On the first point of difference, Schwenkfeld wrote Luther twelve questions, concerning the impanation of the body of Christ. These Luther answered laconically, but “in his usual rough style,"* told Schwenkfeld he should not irritate the Church of Christ; that the blood of those he should seduce would fall upon his head. Notwithstanding this, he still expostulated with Luther, and desired a candid examination of his arguments, which so irritated Luther that he wrote a maledictory letter to Schwenkfeld.
Schwenkfeld was an indefatigable writer ; he produced some ninety treatises and pamphlets, in German and Latin, on religious subjects, most of which were printed, and are yet extant, though whole editions were confiscated and destroyed. He had an extensive correspondence all over the empire, with persons of every.rank and description. The principal part of his letters was printed, and three large folio volumes thereof are still left. In his writings, he displayed a penetrating discernment and good judgment, with a true Christian moderation. He often declared, in his writings, that it was by no means his object to form a separate church, and expressed an ardent desire to be serviceable to all Christians, of whatever denomination; but his freedom in giving admonition to those whom he thought erroneous in doctrine, brought on him the enmity, not of Papists only, but of some Protestants. His writings were prohibited to be printed, and such as had been printed were either confiscated or destroyed; and he was obliged to wander from place to place, under various turns of fortune, to escape danger, and to flee from his persecutors, till death put an end to all his trials upon earth; he died in the city of Ulm, 1562, in the 720 year of his
Luther, in his reply, said : “ Kurtzum, entweder ihr, oder wir, müssen des Teufels leibeigen seyn, weil wir uns beyderseits Gottes Worts rühmen," i. e. “ In short, either you or we, must be in the bond-service of the devil, because we, on both sides, appeal to God's Word.”
age. His learning and piety are acknowledged by all; and even his most bitter antagonists award him this praise.
After his death many, on having read and heard his views, and having embraced them, were known and called Schwenkfelders, and persecuted nearly as much as had been the deceased Schwenkfelder himself. The greatest number of them were in Silesia, particularly in the principalities of Lignitz and Tour. The established clergy there, being Lutherans, resorted to various devices, and used every intrigue, to oppose them; in particular, if they assembled for religious worship, they were thrown into prisons and dungeons, where many of them perished. Such was often their unhappy fate. This was especially their lot in 1590, in 1650, and at a later period.
In 1719, the Jesuits thought the conversion of the Schwenkfelders an object worthy of attention. They sent missionaries to Silesia, who preached to that people the faith of the emperor. They produced imperial edicts, that all parents should attend public worship of the missionaries, and bring their children to be instructed in the holy Catholic faith, under severe penalties. The Schwenkfelders sent deputies to Vienna to solicit for toleration and indulgence; and though the emperor apparently received them with kindness and condescension: yet the Jesuits had the dexterous address to procure another imperial edict, ordering that such parents as would not bring every one of their children to the missionaries for instruction, should at last be chained to the wheel-barrow, and put to hard labour on the public works, and their children should, by force, be brought to the missionaries. Upon this, many families fled, in the night, into Lusatia, and other parts of Saxony, in 1725, sought shelter under the protection of the Senate of Gorlitz, and also of Count Zinzendorf-leaving behind them their effects real and personal, (the roads being beset, in day time, to stop all emigrants.) They dwelt unmolested in their “ late sought shelter” about eight years; when, this protection being withdrawn, they resolved to seek a permanent establishment in Pennsylvania. A number of them, in 1734, emigrated to Altona, a considerable city of Denmark, and Holland, thence to Pennsylvania, as will be seen from the sequel.
The last mentioned edict was not put in its fullest rigour by the missionaries till after the death of Charles VI., when another edict was published threatening the total extermination of the remaining Schwenkfelders, from which they were unexpectedly relieved by Frederick, the king of Prussia, making a conquest of all Silesia, who immediately published an edict, in which he invited, by proclamation,
in 1742, all the Schwenkfelders to return to Silesia, who had emigrated, and promised them their estates, with toleration and protection not only in Silesia, but in all other parts of his dominions--but none of those who had emigrated to Pennsylvania, ever returned. Still they kept up an important correspondence with European friends, near half a century, up to the time of the French Revolution.
Having obtained permission from the crown of England to emigrate to Pennsylvania, and their protection in Germany being withdrawn, they left Berthelsdorf and Gorlitz in April 1734, for Altona, in Denmark, where they arrived May 17th ; thence they sailed for America, and after a tedious and long voyage they arrived at Philadelphia the 220 Sept., 1734, and on the 5th of October of the same year, several other families arrived. They settled principally in Montgomery, Berks, Bucks and Lehigh counties, Pennsylvania, where their grandchildren chiefly reside at present, on the branches of the Skippack and Perkiomen rivulets, in the upper, middle, and lower end of Montgomery, lower east part of Berks, and south corner of Lehigh.
On their first arrival in Pennsylvania they held a "festival in grateful memory of all mercies and divine favours, manifested toward them by the Father of mercies ;" on which occasion, Father Senior George Wise, their pastor, conducted the solemnities. This commemorative
, festival has since 1734 been annually observed by their descendants. Father Wise laboured in sacred things but six years amongst them in Pennsylvania ; he departed this life in 1740. His successors were the Rev. B. Hoffman, A. Wagner, G. Wiegner, Christopher Schultz, sen., C. Kriebel, C. Hoffman, G. Kriebel, Mr. Kriebel, Mr. Schultz, B. Schultz, A. Schultz, and D. Schultz, assistants; I. Shultz, and last,
1 the Rev. C. Shultz, who died in March, 1843, aged 66 years. The latter was the grandson of the Rev. Christopher Shultz, sen., of Hereford, who was distinguished as a scholar, and writer; he was the author of their excellent Catechism, Compendium of Christian Doctrine and Faith, and Hymn Book. The late Rev. C. Schultz was much esteemed, as a sound divine, and a man of undoubted piety, by all surrounding denominations. And on account of his devotedness and his eloquence, he was repeatedly called by the Reformed, Moravians, Mennonites, and others, to preach to them the gospel of everlasting salvation. His motto was “ Soli Deo Gloriu, et Veritas vincet."
The present young candidates in the gospel ministry of the upper district, in Berks county, are the Rev. Joshua Schultz and William Schultz. In the middle and lower districts, the Rev. B. and A. Huebner, and Rev. David Kriebel of Worcester, Montgomery county.