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mind. Listless reverie is the bane of meditation, and no mean thanks are due to one who wisely leads us by the hand in this difficult but most remunerative duty. Such a guide, I trust, this work will prove to its readers; and that, in the daily study of its pages, many may be constrained to echo the words of the Psalmist, “In the multitude of the thoughts which I had in my heart, thy comforts, O Lord, have refreshed my soul.”
E. H. BICKERSTETH.
CHRIST CHURCH PARSONAGE,
HAMPSTEAD, 9th December, 1863.
AUTHOR OF THE CASKET.
JOHN EVANGELIST GOSSNER was born at Hausea, a village in Bavaria, on the 14th December, 1773. His parents were Roman Catholics, and at an early age he was sent to a Jesuit school at Augsburg, preparatory to entering the University of Dillengen. He afterwards studied canon law, and was ordained a presbyter in 1796, and next year began his active duties as curate in a country village. Here, within a few months, he was made " to see and believe the gospel of Jesus Christ; to confess it in his heart as the power and wisdom of God.” Lavater's Letters to a Young Man on his Travels, seems to have been the instrument of his awakening. One day at Augsbarg a school-fellow said to him, “I have a book in which the name of Jesus stands on every page.” “And I," replied Gossner, “have a book in my hand in which the name of Jesus is never mentioned. Shall we exchange ?” They did; and, by means of that book, he was gradually led to “ the Light of life.” But he had to pass through many a conflict, within and without, ere he reached abiding rest and peace. He read disquieting books; and the works of the Pietists, amongst others one of Martin Boos in manuscript, Christ for us and in us. He studied the Bible; and as he felt less peace and comfort, he studied it the more. When he mentions his conversion, he says, “the Bible opened my eye and my heart.” An entry in his diary at this time is the motto of his life—“Thou old Adam in me, die ! live, Lord Jesus !" But the inner conflict was severe,
and again and again renewed. He draws from his own experience, when he says in the Casket, (13th September), “ Jesus reveals Himself a while to pious, fervent souls in great kindness, and thereby they are as in heaven. He withdraws Himself again from the inner eye, and they are as in hell, in the greatest desolation. He comes again, and their heaven becomes still fairer and more glorious ; yes, it becomes ever fairer and more glorious the oftener He again imparts Himself to the heart, and reveals His presence and loving-kindness." By such chequered experience and discipline (to which, as we shall soon see, that of his outer life corresponded,) the spirit of trust, of humble confidence, of light and joy, was nourished and nurtured within him. He entered the king. doin of God as a little child, and lived by faith and prayer. This was the secret of his power as a preacher and a writer. Wherever he appeared, there was a stirring among “ the dry bones.” In Augsburg, in Munich, in Berlin, he proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ, and
a mighty sensation" was produced. But there were “many adversaries." So early as 1801 he was brought before the Inquisition, and many years afterwards he had to quit Berlin to escape the persecution of his enemies, and accept an invitation from the Emperor Alexander to St Petersburg. Here he laboured for four years, and the effect of his preaching was great. “ There was breathless silence while he spoke. People came to him from Cæsar's household. Lords and ladies in waiting rubbed with beggars off the street; the Greek Church shouldered the Romish in the vestibule ; the Lutheran pressed by both. The service was often interrupted by cries. One day among the crowd a cry arose, ‘Hear it; it is the voice of God!' Without faltering, he answered, 'Hold thy peace,' and continued the sermon.” For he continued humble through all. “It is not,” said he," the poor instrument that will be praised, but the Workman. He alone has done it.” But by and by the hostility of the magnates of the Greek Church began to be stirred. Their craft was in danger ; the priests saw their churches empty, and they inoved the nobles to demand his dismissal. The Emperor, though still friendly, had to yield to the pressure. When he was about to leave, Alexander handed him a thousand roubles. Gossner handed them back, with the remark that he served a richer Lord than the Emperor. He repaired first to Berlin. From Berlin he went to Hamburg, and from Hamburg to Leipzig. In the latter city he found, for a time, a quiet retreat, and used his pen with great diligence. Every week he wrote a sermon for his Russian flock, to whom he continued deeply attached. And here he penned the Spiritual Casket, now presented to the English public-—"a book," says the Author, of Praying and Working, * "far commoner in Germany than ever Bogatzky was or will be in English households."
It was not till about 1827 that Gossner formally and finally separated himself from the Romish Church ; and still-and though he had “been always an evangelical preacher"-it was not till after many tedious and vexing delays and difficulties, that the Consistory of the Evangelical Church would consent to recognise him. At length, in his fifty-sixth year, he was finally settled in Berlin. "And here,” says Mr. Stevenson, “after thirty years of conflict without and within, persecution and applause, an endless tossing on a stormy sea, the work of his life
• From this admirable work, by the Rev. W. F. Stevenson, Dublin, the materials of this sketch have been drawn.
began.” He preached and wrote still, preached and wrote with power, as few could ; but the "work” referred to, was that of training and sending out missionaries to the heathen. During the remaining thirty years of his life, he trained and sent out one hundred and forty-one missionaries, though his missionary income never exceeded a thousand pounds. But he had no office expenses, for, as he merrily remarked," he was inspector, director, secretary, pack-horse, all in one.” Nor were these the limits of his labours. “When he came to Berlin, there were no hospitals, there was no visiting of the poor, no inner life stirring in the Church. Germany was just recovering from the paralysis of dead, coarse unbelief. Home missions occupied his mind. He established a society for visiting the sick. It was confined to men. The women begged him to form a direct one for them. In 1837, & hospital was erected, which next year required to be en. larged. It is a training institution as well as a hospital; and many of the deaconesses,' who have passed through it, have gone to mission stations among the heathen. Here, too, Gossner was chaplain, director, friend. Early on the Sunday morning, his figure might be seen rapidly advancing up Potsdam Street, till it vanished in the hospital doorway. The room used as a chapel would hold about fifty ; it was always crowded. He sat in a low pulpit at the upper end, a genial-looking, lively, old man. His white hair peeped out behind under the little black skull-cap; his eye still shot keen, searching glances from below the massive, close-knit brows; he had the high cheek-bones of the country, as high as Luther's, but in proportion to a longer face; a sweet, gentle expression played about his mouth ; the features altogether were prominent, seamed with deep lines, almost rugged. His exposition was simple, naïve, personal. Gleams of the playfullest humour lighted up common-place truths and views; and, after an hour of close personal conversation,