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Deaconesses in Europe and their Lessons for Americ

From Giessen he went to Goettingen


the father changed the whole life of the family, and left the mother with eleven children to maintain and educate. Now began for Fliedner a struggle to complete his education. The simple, kindly hospitality that had been so generously exercised in the village parsonage met its reward. Friends came forward to offer help, and at the beginning of the New Year Fliedner and his brother went to the gymnasium at Idstein. Here he was obliged to live sparingly, and earned his bread by teaching, but he was happy and contented, and found in study his great delight. He was fond of reading books of travel and the lives of great men, which stirred him to emulation. In 1817 he went to the University of Giessen. Here he kept aloof from the political agitations among the students. Neither was he affected by the rationalistic teachings of the professors. His shy, retired nature aided him in this course, and his leisure hours were passed in reading the writings of the Reformers. The jubilee festival of the Reformation occurred in 1817, and the lives of the heroes of the faith were brought freshly home to him. Their strength of faith shamed him, but he had not yet learned the secret of their power. He was yet without a deep, spiritual life. From Giessen he went to Goettingen, where he devoted himself to a year's study of history, philosophy, and theology. During the holidays, as is the custom with German students, he made repeated pedestrian tours. In this way he visited the great free cities of the north, Bremen, Hamburg, and Lubeck. From Goettingen he and his brother went to the theological seminary at Herborn, where the following summer he passed with credit his theological examination. He was now ready to enter God's great school of practical life to be further fitted for the mission he was to accomplish. In September he went to Cologne and was employed in the house of a wealthy merchant as a private tutor. This was a great change for the quiet youth of country habits. He took great pains to accommodate himself to his surroundings, and to acquire the truly Christian art of becoming all things to all men. In after life, when speaking of this period and its usefulness to him, he wrote: "It is a great hinderance to a man, even to his progress in the kingdom of God, not to have been brought up in gentle and refined manners from his childhood." Although a faithful and devoted teacher his life-work was not forgotten. He constantly sought to widen his knowledge and experience, was made assistant secretary of the local Bible society, and formed friendships which led to his appointment to the pastorate at Kaiserswerth. This was a Catholic town formerly of some importance. The ruins of an imperial palatinate are still to be seen there, but in Fliedner's time it had become a little village of workmen dependent on a few manufacturers. On January 18, 1822, alone, and on foot, to save his poor society the expense of his journey, Fliedner entered the town where his life was henceforth to be centered. He was to share the parsonage with the widow of a previous pastor, and his sister was to be his housekeeper. His income was one hundred and thirty-five dollars a year. Only a month after his arrival the great firm of velvet manufacturers who provided the work-people with employment failed, and the little church community seemed about to be dispersed. The government offered him another and better appointment, but he felt that he must be a true shepherd, and not a hireling, and would not leave his people. He decided to make


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