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A History of American Christianity by Bacon

The Moravian settlements multiplied at distant points


labors of this little society

of Christians have put to shame the whole American church besides. Not all of this is to be ascribed to the activity of Zinzendorf; but in all of it he was a sharer, and his share was a heroic one. The two years' visit of Count Zinzendorf to America forms a beautiful and quite singular episode in our church history. Returning to his ancestral estates splendidly impoverished by his free-handed beneficence, he passed many of the later years of his life at Herrnhut, that radiating center from which the light of the gospel was borne by the multitude of humble missionaries to every continent under the whole heaven. The news that came to him from the "economies" that he had planted in the forests of Pennsylvania was such as to fill his generous soul with joy. In the communities of Nazareth and Bethlehem was renewed the pentecostal consecration when no man called anything his own. The prosperous farms and varied industries, in which no towns in Pennsylvania could equal them, were carried on, not for private interest, but for the church. After three years the community work was not only self-supporting, but sustained about fifty missionaries in the field, and was preparing to send aid to the missions of the mother church in Germany. The Moravian settlements multiplied at distant points, north and south. The educational establishments grew strong and famous. But especially the Indian missions spread far and wide. The story of these missions is one of the fairest and most radiant pages
in the history of the American church, and one of the bloodiest. Zinzendorf, dying at London in May, 1756, was spared, we may hope, the heartbreaking news of the massacre at Gnadenhuetten the year before. But from that time on, through the French wars, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and down to the infamy of Georgia and the United States in 1837, the innocent and Christlike Moravian missions have been exposed from every side to the malignity of savage men both white and red. No order of missionaries or missionary converts can show a nobler roll of martyrs than the Moravians.[194:1]

The work of Muehlenberg for the Lutherans stimulated the Reformed churches in Europe to a like work for their own scattered and pastorless sheep. In both cases the fear that the work of the gospel might not be done seemed a less effective incitement to activity than the fear that it might be done by others. It was the Reformed Church of Holland, rather than those of Germany, miserably broken down and discouraged by ravaging wars, that assumed the main responsibility for this task. As early as 1728 the Dutch synods had earnestly responded to the appeal of their impoverished brethren on the Rhine in behalf of the sheep scattered abroad. And in 1743, acting through the classis of Amsterdam, they had made such progress toward beginning the preliminary arrangements of the work as to send to the Presbyterian synod of Philadelphia a proposal to combine into one the Presbyterian, or Scotch Reformed, the Dutch Reformed, and the German Reformed churches in America. It had already been proved impossible to draw together in common activity and worship the different sects of the same German race and language; the effort to unite in one organization peoples of different language, but of substantially the same doctrine and polity, was equally futile. It seemed as if minute sectarian division and subdivision was to be forced upon American Christianity as a law of its church life.


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