Ein weiterer Nachruf auf Henry Craik

Henry Craik (1805–1866)

Als letzter Beitrag in der Reihe über Henry Craik folgt hier noch ein Nachruf, der heute vor 150 Jahren in der Zeitung The Bristol Mercury erschien.1 Im Vergleich zu den eher allgemein gehaltenen Lobeshymnen in der Western Daily Press entwirft er ein wesentlich lebendigeres und differenzierteres Bild Craiks (einschließlich einiger Schwächen). Der Verfasser war Richard Morris (1813–1894), Baptistenpastor an Craiks Wohnort Clifton.

By the Rev. R. Morris, Clifton.

Scotland has seldom given to the south a richer gift than that received in the life and character of Henry Craik. Scotch adventurers may be found everywhere, while her sons of toil, genius, and culture adorn every land; but in the career of our deceased fellow-citizen we have lost one whose adventurous spirit was controlled by a deep-toned piety, and whose ripe scholarship and unadorned eloquence of life and tongue made his presence amongst us of incalculable worth. Happily, in his case, he was a man of appreciated goodness and felt power. He was the last to desire a complimentary epitaph when gone, but the first to wish to hold a place after death in the memory and affection of the good and faithful.

We sincerely trust the memoir to be published of this esteemed servant of Christ will give to the public a definite and living portrait of his character. The events of his life were simple; they were neither startling nor unusual. By the side of his esteemed colleague, the Rev. Mr. Müller, it appears tame and unimpressive. The Orphan House and its christian missions have so striking an effect from their diffusive beneficence, and the thrilling report of their dependence and yet increasing progress, that the quiet ministrations of Henry Craik have almost escaped the attention of the public. But his life and character were full of incident and meaning. His character was unique, his life singular. They may be made productive of great good. Though dead, he yet speaks. We sincerely trust that the voice coming even from the grave will be listened to by many an obedient ear and loving heart.

We would respectfully urge the estimable man to whom his papers have been entrusted,2 rather to delay the memoir, than fail in infusing into the detail the genial spirit of our departed friend.

His appearance was at times almost grotesque, and but for a watchful home, we suspect it would have been as alien from the ordinary secular, as from the clerical garb. We have sometimes been with him when the broken umbrella, his faithful friend, and the oldest hat have, by mistake, been donned for the best attire. The collar of the coat was looking after the sleeves, and the necktie had comfortably nestled itself behind the head. When in such a state he had just come to the surface after a deep digging for a Hebrew root, or a dive into the depths of authorities to see whether the Keri of the Hebrew should be admitted into the text. His intense devotion to the study of the Scriptures made criticism a recreation, and in his most humorous, impassioned, or depressed moments it was never unwelcome. When amidst beautiful scenery, and affected almost to tears by its witchery, a passage of the Divine word would come to crown the scene. But with it would occur the readings and interpretations that reverence or enmity had ever suggested. Nor did this break the spell. If a critical friend was present, nature would have to wait, till the moot point was settled. Then the landscape came afresh, the more fascinating and beautiful that it had not rebuked his momentary forgetfulness of its charms. Poetry and sentiment at times lured, but never mastered him. He could enjoy the one and indulge the other. But they were recreations enjoyed, but not obeyed.

His unsuspicious nature and purity of character were without weakness, but not without peril. They exposed him to deception. When doubt of truthfulness was awakened, his watchfulness and resoluteness proved that his simplicity was only guilelessness, and his trustfulness the triumph of charity. He was ever ready to confide, slow to detect, but when deceived indignant in rebuke. Intentional deception he could not endure. To be acquainted with him was to respect him, and to know him was to love him. His trustful conversation, kindly fellowship, Scotch reminiscences, love of fatherland, English sympathies, devout spirit, made him, to the few, more of a model friend than he had been accepted by the many as a model preacher.

An oppressive sense of responsibility checked indulgence in mere literary pursuits, yet he found time to keep abreast of the current literature of the day, and watch with deep solicitude the phases of the controversies that were disturbing the Church of Christ. In some he took an active part, in nearly all a deep interest, and if he had lived, this winter would have witnessed his indignant condemnation of the modern attempt to create a church, or reveal a religion, without a creed. He had purposed a series of lectures to remonstrate against this attempt. While holding with an eager grasp the old standards of the evangelical faith, he grew in catholicity of spirit. His reading had become more liberal, his public services less confined, and his friendships more extended.

In his early life he had passed from the home culture and discipline of an estimable Scotch clergyman to a tutorship in the South of England.3 The education of home and of the University of St. Andrews had prepared him to do honour to his new position. He was highly esteemed, and still true to his early devotion to classical studies. An apparantly [sic] accidental association with Mr. Müller, gave young Henry Craik fitting opportunity for the revelation of his power. He became an earnest acceptable preacher of the Gospel. Adopting the views of the Baptists, his course was in the main prescribed. He did not join the Baptist denomination, but, with Mr. Müller, came to Bristol, and sought to establish a Christian Church. An open and unpaid ministry was the principle on which the attempt rested. They met with many suspicions and much opposition from the religious public. Both these honoured men, with instinctive wisdom, gave themselves mainly to work. The one to become the prince of our philanthropists, the other the model student and preacher. In each department success came.

Religious controversy was to them an unwelcome employment. Teaching, preaching, and working, their loved service. The small company soon became a formidable following. Generous and liberal helpers unexpectedly sprang up, and from the East the tribe travelled West, until Salem and Bethesda chapels became the accepted substitute for the name of a sect, and Ashley-down Orphan Asylum the evidence of a noble beneficent triumph. Faith in the Word was honoured in the chapels. Faith in the Work was blessed in the Asylum.

Of Mr. Müller we need not write. His monument time has already reared. Those structures of real magnificence, that form the home for nearly 2000 orphans, both conceal and reveal the nobility and simplicity of his character. His deceased friend claimed no such honour. His devotion was emphatically to the Divine Word. He laboured and watched to catch its very whispers, while his hearers received from his lips the fulness of its counsels, and the wealth of its revelations. Biblical words were to him as caskets. He suspected a jewel in each. He erred sometimes, but not often. The grammatical value, rather than the spiritual force of a passage, would captivate him. The form became more important than the principle it embodied. But these instances were few in contrast with the abounding of fruitful and sober exegesis. We would pass them by, if veneration for his memory did not demand an exact likeness of our friend. With these admissions, we leave Mr. Craik, confessedly, one of the very best commentators that Holy Scriptures ever had. Through him for thirty years their infinite variety and resource have ministered to the guidance and consolation of thousands of hearers.

We would confess our deep regret that he has left behind him commentaries on only one or two portions of the Scriptures. His independent criticisms on Alford, Bishop Ellicott, Tregelles, and Scrivener have been gracefully appreciated by these learned men, and they probably would share the regret that so successful a student and critic had not lived to record his matured judgment in a written commentary on the text. His work, however, is done, and the absence of the teacher should make the student the more solicitous, habitually to be taught of God.

As if impelled by some pre-monition of his approaching removal to his better home, he had long indulged the hope of visiting the scenes of his early days. The opportunity came, and he joined his honoured brother’s family, sojourning amidst the lake scenery of his native Scotland. To him, more than to many, such companionship, scenery, and associations would yield intense joy. A joy the purer, in that so much of Heaven would be blended with the scenes. But disease brought disappointment, and soon he was compelled almost to hasten back to his home at Clifton. From this there was one continuous descent to the grave. A long and painful illness ensued. Loving hearts and medical skill and care joined to stay the hour of departure. He himself had the impression that his work was not yet done. To his honoured brother, with another friend present in this chamber of sanctified affliction, he expressed the wish that he might yet bear the fruits of bygone labours into the earthly storehouse of his great Master. His desire seemed natural. Such stores as he possessed could not, in human seeming, be spared. They were more needful for earth than heaven. But not so was the decree of infinite wisdom and love. By such discipline are we taught that though God puts such treasure in earthen vessels, the vessels are not the treasure. They may be broken, but the riches remain.

The last days of our departed friend were those of suffering and exhaustion. Amidst all, peace reigned. His soul stayed itself on God. There was no exultation, but much tranquillity. Neither doubts nor distrust disturbed his last moments. All was peace. Once he said, as we were standing by his bed-side, “God’s presence is precious; I feel its value; it is my stay, my hope; but it is good to have about me and in my chamber those I love. I feel how merciful and kind it is of my heavenly Father to give us these objects of human affection and sympathy. I like their presence; they help and cheer me.” His beloved wife4 and dear daughter5 were moving about his tender heart, and soothing its sorrows, and assuaging its pains. They were ministering to his peace. And thus in them his keen eye of faith and love saw his Lord. They to him were gracious and needed gifts from His hand. The last words addressed to us when passing round his bed of langour and pain were, “Dear M—, when you hear it is all over, give God thanks.” These words followed us. They enjoined a duty we knew to be well nigh impossible to obey. It would require great resignation and faith to praise God for taking away such a man and such a life as Henry Craik’s. But we have learned already that often an apparent loss is a great gain. To him this must be, and to us it may be true. We may, then, calmly say, “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” It is all over; let us give God thanks.

He was carried to the grave on Tuesday, amidst the sorrows and regrets of thousands. Whether by design we know not, but with marked propriety the Cathedral bell was tolling as the funeral passed through College-green; and in Bath-street the shops and offices of the Jewish merchants and traders were partially closed. The day was gloomy; the very heavens seemed to sympathise with the sorrowing crowd. A long line of carriages and mourners followed the remains to the cemetery, and there thousands were waiting the interment. Among them were nearly all the Baptist and Independent ministers in the city. A clergyman, Mr. Doudney, was present. Two brethren officiated, and gave utterance to the sympathy and sorrow that prevailed. All was genuine. Each seemed to be bearing a heavy burthen. It was felt to be a time to mourn and weep. A master in Israel had fallen. But the sorrow was not as those without hope, for all felt, “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord.”

Bristol has lost many citizens and benefactors during these last twenty years; the broken columns and massive monuments of our cemetery tell of losses that no language can express. But of all, none surpass that which has been sustained by the church and the world in the death of Henry Craik. Neither mural tablet nor marble monument is needed to perpetuate his name. A multitude now and many hereafter will trace their likeness to Christ to his ministration. It will be increasingly seen how largely the Divine Spirit used him to awaken to life and mould into spiritual beauty the new creature in Christ Jesus. And in the impress of the Lord stamped on the new character, shall be traced the faithful work of the under-servant who laboured for such a joy and such a reward. “They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever.”

Let us breathe the prayer that we may follow in his steps, so that “to live may be Christ, to die gain.”

Redland, February 5, 1866.

Ein Sonett auf Henry Craik

Es ist frappierend zu sehen, wie sehr Henry Craik nach seinem Tod von seinen Zeitgenossen gefeiert wurde und welche Prominenz er demnach zu Lebzeiten genossen haben muss – Vergleichbares ist mir im British Newspaper Archive sonst nur noch bei Georg Müller und Robert Chapman begegnet. Schon einen Tag nach seiner Beerdigung bot der Bristoler Buchhändler und Drucker William Mack Porträtfotos von Craik zum Kauf an:

1866-01-31 The Western Daily Press 1 (Craik)
The Western Daily Press, 31. Januar 1866, S. 1

Drei Tage später, also heute vor genau 150 Jahren, erschien in der Western Daily Press sogar ein Nachruf in Sonettform – eine solche Ehre dürfte nur den wenigsten „Brüdern“ zuteilgeworden sein:

1866-02-03 The Western Daily Press 3 (Craik)
The Western Daily Press, 3. Februar 1866, S. 3

Henry Craiks Beerdigung

Henry Craik (1805–1866)

Heute vor 150 Jahren wurde Henry Craik auf dem Friedhof Arno’s Vale in Bristol beigesetzt. Auch darüber berichtete die Western Daily Press in größter Ausführlichkeit (31. Januar 1866, S. 3):


A stranger visiting Bristol yesterday could not fail to observe that a funeral ceremony of unusual importance engaged the attention of the citizens. The leading streets and thoroughfares were occupied by groups waiting to see or to join the procession which carried, in sad solemnity, the body of a beloved minister to the grave. The route was a long one of four miles, extending from Hampton Park to Arno’s Vale. The funeral left Mr Craik’s residence about 10.30, but it was after twelve when the long line of carriages – the longest ever seen upon a like occasion – reached the cemetery, where hundreds had been waiting for hours in the rain and cold of a gloomy, wintry morning. The weather must, of course, have deterred many from going out, but at every part of the route the funeral was met by sympathising spectators. In Queen’s Road, at the Triangle, a body of ministers and friends joined it. At Counterslip we observed a large number of the workmen of the great sugar-house1 – many of them had been accustomed to Mr Craik’s ministrations in the room provided for the purpose at the works, and they evidently felt the loss which they had sustained. At the railway station and other parts, cabs and carriages filled with ladies in mourning testified to the feeling in which Mr Craik’s memory was held. As might be supposed, the other name associated with Mr Craik’s for the long series of 34 years – the name of George Muller – was frequently in the minds of the mourners, and many expected to see him yesterday. He could not attend, owing to severe indisposition, which has kept him for two or three Sundays away from his usual public duties. We may be sure, however, that no one more sincerely mourned the loss of “Brother Craik,” as he always styled him, than the great founder and director of the Ashley Down Orphan Houses.

At the cemetery it was found impossible to admit even a small proportion of the immense crowd seeking admission to the chapel – a crowd which extended beyond the portico and spread itself over the cemetery, waiting patiently for a glimpse of the coffin as it was carried to the grave. Major Tireman2, a prominent and able preacher among “the Brethren,” was chosen to officiate in the chapel, and the Rev. Mr Victor, of Clevedon, at the grave.

The chief mourners were the three sons of the deceased, Mr Conrad Finzel3, Major Tireman, Messrs Howland, Acland, Rickards, C. Lemon, and the Rev. Mr Victor. Eight deacons of the Bethesda Chapel were present, viz., Messrs Martin, Butler4, Feltham5, Pocock, Withey6, Jos. Matthews, Isaac, and Captain Beecher. In the other coaches were the Revs. Aitchison, Robinson, and Larkins, and Messrs Horne, Davis, Wright, B. Perry, Jno. Thomas (Clevedon), B. Thomas, Elliot Armstrong, Wm. Stancombe, Hatchard, Shoobridge, Chapman (Barnstaple), Hake (Bideford), Lawford, and Hallett. In a carriage in the procession were Mrs Muller and her two sisters, and nearly 30 private carriages followed in the rear. Amongst those who had joined in the procession to show their respect for the deceased, were the Revs. N. Haycroft, M. Dickie, R. E. May, H. I. Roper, E. Probert, R. P. Macmaster, J. Tayler, T. A. Wheeler, Dr. Gotch, D. A. Doudney, E. J. Hartland, U. Thomas, and Messrs H. O. Wills, F. Wills, Griffiths, Grundy, Gould, Mack, Poole, G. W. Isaac, Batchelor, &c. When the coffin had been deposited in the chapel, Major Tireman, having read the latter portion of the 15th chapter of 1st Corinthians, and offered up prayer, founded an address upon the 13th verse of the 14th chapter of Revelations: “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write – Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth: yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” He remarked that when the beloved disciple John heard that voice from heaven under circumstances of humiliation and depression, the companions of tribulation, he was led to see far greater revelations of the coming kingdom and glory of the Lord whom he loved than he had ever experienced before. So they might believe that the cloud of great and deep sorrow under which they were labouring would be made subservient to a deeper spiritual experience and a deeper spiritual joy. It was not said blessed are the dead. There was nothing blessed in death – it was the struggle with the last enemy that had to be destroyed – it was a penalty to be paid even by every redeemed son of Adam because of sin. The reason of the blessedness was that they “died in the Lord.” Of whom could they with greater truth say this than of their beloved brother? They had, indeed, the comfort and satisfaction of knowing that he died in the Lord. They had a comfortable assurance that he lived in Him, and that was to them an assurance that he died in Him and inherited His blessings. If it could be said of anyone that he lived in the Lord it could surely be said of him whose remains, surrounded by the accompaniments of sorrow and death, were present in their midst: eminently he lived in the Lord, and to him to die was gain. This was the testimony of thousands, and it was not only written in the hearts of those present, but it was a living epistle known and read of all men. Little did he (Major Tireman) think when last in that place, to witness the consignment to the silent tomb of their brother, Mr Hale7, who was suddenly taken in the midst of his labours, and when he heard their dear brother address them, that he himself would be the next to go; and much less that he should occupy that place and speak a few words over his remains. But God’s ways were inscrutable, and he (Mr Muller) who was his colleague so long – who was his friend and companion so many years – was himself unable by sickness to perform those last duties. Might God long spare him, and not add sorrow to their sorrow. Pleasant and lovely were they in their lives, and in death they were not divided. He was laid aside in God’s providence, and this alone prevented him from paying a last testimony to their brother. He (the speaker) was there because Mr Muller, and the family of the deceased, would have it to be so – not as one worthy to address them – but as one who yielded to none in respect for the character and integrity of life of him with whom he had been united for 15 years in the closest ties of friendship. The delight of our eyes was gone. Of him it might be truly said – Si monumentum quæris, circumspice – “If you seek his monument, look around” – in the sorrowing hearts and tearful eyes of the thousands of sorrowing sons and daughters of the Lord. Surely when he fell a pillar was broken in the house of our God. They had lost one who for 40 years devoted his life to the services of his God and Master. All his vast energies, and qualifications, and endowments were employed for one purpose – that of making more and more clear the Word of God. He lived for one purpose, and died for one purpose. The great delight and consolation of his soul was to make clear the Word of God, and he rejoiced in displaying its untold beauties to others. He left, like Peter, no legacy to the church, but he leaves his name, his works, his character, his example, as a lasting heritage. He combined fervent piety and zeal with childlike simplicity. His very sensitiveness and acute sensibilities may have been a hindrance to the work he was engaged in carrying on. He could not go from house to house without deep feeling on the occasions of sorrow to which he was called to minister. If his character was aspersed he was never moved to any unchristian feeling, much less to any unchristian act. “He was a good man and full of the Holy Ghost, and through him much people were added to the Lord.” His loss had made sincere mourners of them all. They would not be able to feel it as they desired just then; but they would feel it in days and years to come, and feel it deeply. They rejoiced, however, in his blessedness, and in the rest he had from his labours. He had gone to realise the full enjoyment of those truths in which he believed here, and on his dying bed his eyes lighted up with fire at the prospect of being in the fellowship of the blessed. Could they look upon his last remains and their sorrows not be moved? This was the last they should ever see of their much-beloved brother, whose presence they had so often welcomed and which had struck joy into so many hearts. Never again would those lips speak the words which flowed from him like rivers of living water. Never again would those eyes light up with fire and that tongue become the pen of a ready writer, and those hands be lifted up, as they were when he spoke of things concerning the King. Never again would his footsteps fall on the threshold of that place wherein they all so loved to hear them fall, and where he so often gave good counsel and advice. Should their sorrows not be moved? Never again would they hear his little cough with which he entered the room, and which gave an indication of his presence amongst them. Could they think of such things and not sorrow? Major Tireman, having given a few words of earnest and affectionate exhortation to the bereaved widow and family of the deceased, concluded with prayer his deeply-affecting discourse, which was imperfectly heard in the crowd and pressure.

The coffin was then removed to the grave, and, having been lowered in the earth, the Rev. Mr Victor, of Clevedon, addressed the assembly in an earnest and Christian manner. He said the grave over which they met was hallowed, because the sting of death was taken away from him who now was lying within it. The grave was hallowed because of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who had made it impossible for this tomb to retain their brother now committed to it. “I am,” said the blessed Saviour, “He that liveth, and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, and have the keys of death and Hades.” “I am the resurrection and the life, he that believeth in Me shall never die.” On this dreary, wintry day, whilst this body was committed to the tomb, the spirit that in-dwelt in it was soaring on high – a lovely bird of Paradise, hymning hallelujahs in the bosom of their blessed Lord. These were hallowed remains in this hallowed grave, because the body was redeemed as well as the soul by the precious blood of Christ – the body was once in-dwelt by the Holy Ghost, through whose power its senses were engaged and employed for their Master in the skies. The eyes saw for Christ, the lips spake for Christ, the hands were lifted in the service of Christ, and in intercession for many. Hallowed memories gathered around this grave. The memory of the just is blessed. There was the remembrance of their brother as a devoted husband in the Lord – a fond father, a faithful servant of the risen Son of God, who declared the whole counsel of God – a brother beloved, who was constrained to love all who loved the Lord Jesus. Hallowed memories were here, of words faithfully spoken to saints and sinners, of prayers offered in deep affection and fervent desire, of a consistent life maintained by the grace of God. Besides these hallowed memories they had hallowed hopes. Here lay a sower of the seed. For many years the precious seed of God’s truth had been cast by him into the hearts of the sons of men. Fruit had appeared, but the righteous had hope in his death, and the abundant harvest was yet to be seen. How many would be a crown of rejoicing to their brother in the day of the Lord. They had hallowed hopes – they sorrowed not as those without hope. They were anticipating the coming day, the morning without a cloud, when these remains should come up, because of their union with Christ, and spring into beauteous immortality. The spirit that in-dwelt in the body would then be re-united with the body, and they who were the children of God would then with that glorified saint cast their crowns at the Redeemer’s feet, and their immortal lips join with him in ascribing for ever and ever “Salvation to our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” He (Mr Victor) would affectionately ask, before they separated, could they who were mourning say, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain?” Had they peace through the blood of Christ? Did they know the power of the resurrection in creating them anew, and raising their expectations, and causing them to long for the return of their beloved Lord. If not, might God grant that the prayer just now offered might be answered, that their beloved brother, though dead, might yet speak to them. Mr Victor then offered up prayer, and the mourners having taken a last look upon the coffin – the inscription-plate of which simply bore the name, age, and date of death of the deceased – the vast assemblage left the cemetery. We do not remember a funeral which called forth such unfeigned marks of sorrow and respect.

150. Todestag von Henry Craik

Henry Craik (1805–1866)

Heute vor 150 Jahren starb in Clifton (einem Vorort von Bristol) der engste Freund und Mitarbeiter Georg Müllers, Henry Craik, im noch nicht sehr fortgeschrittenen Alter von 60 Jahren. Über sein Leben habe ich bereits 2010 einen Wikipedia-Artikel geschrieben, sodass ich hier auf einen biografischen Abriss verzichte;1 stattdessen möchte ich die Aufmerksamkeit auf die erstaunlich ausführliche Presseberichterstattung lenken, die sein Tod auslöste.

Die Bristoler Tageszeitung The Western Daily Press widmete Craik am 24. Januar 1866 gleich zwei lange Artikel. Auf Seite 2 hieß es unter der Rubrik “Topics of the Day”:

One of the most devoted, learned, and amiable labourers in the Christian vineyard, the Rev. Henry Craik, passed from his labours into eternal rest late on Monday evening, in this city. Under date March 29, 1832, there is the following entry in the Narrative of the deceased gentleman’s fellow-labourer, Mr Müller, so well known throughout the Christian world as the founder of the Ashley Down Asylum for Orphans: – “I went to Shaldon this morning; brother Craik has left for Bristol for four weeks. I think he will only return to take leave, and that the Lord will give him work there. [What a remarkable presentiment, which came to pass, concerning my beloved brother and fellow-labourer.]” From that period, if we except the short interval of leave-taking which Mr Craik spent with his former flock at Shaldon and Teignmouth, he has, until struck down by his last painful illness, devoted himself to the work of the Christian ministry in Bristol with a zeal which nothing could damp; and we only state the simple truth when we say that while he was beloved by the people who had the benefit of his ministrations he won by his pure, consistent, Christian life, and by the devotion with which he threw all his energies into the performance of his work, the warmest esteem and the deepest respect of persons of all creeds capable of appreciating worth of more than an ordinarily rare kind. In another column a narrative of Mr Craik’s life will be found. It is necessarily imperfect, as indeed it is impossible to do justice to such a life within the brief limits of a newspaper article. He laboured long in this city, and the spirit in which he laboured and the faith with which he rested upon the promises of the Master, whom he served for the means necessary to enable him to prosecute his labours, were purely apostolic. Ever since, and for some time before, he came to Bristol, Mr Craik, like the colleague who now mourns his loss, depended for his living upon the willingness of the people to whom he ministered. With a faith which we need not say is rarely exhibited in these doubting days, he trusted not in man, but in God, for the “food and raiment” which he required. The dominant thought of his life was not how he might increase his store of the goods of this world, but how he could best promote the spiritual interests of his fellow-men. One, if not more than one, of the universities of his native country, on two occasions, offered him, as a mark of appreciation of his rare scholarship, the degree of D.D., but on both occasions he declined the honour. His modesty was as conspicuous as his worth, and his memory will dwell long in the hearts of all who had the privilege of his acquaintance.

Das angekündigte Lebensbild folgte auf Seite 3:


Our readers will receive this announcement, we feel sure, with deep and unfeigned sorrow. A truly good man – a great man, in the sense of high intellectual as well as high moral qualities – has been removed from us, after 34 years’ service as a devoted Christian minister in this city. Mr Craik’s death was not unexpected. A painful illness had confined him for several months to his house. In the summer, when upon an excursion in Scotland, the symptoms of a wasting internal disorder became apparent by increased feebleness and incapacity for study. Medical advice was sought; but it was not until he returned home to his residence in Hampton Park, Redland, and had consulted his own medical attendant (Mr Burleigh), along with Dr. Symonds, that a correct diagnosis was obtained. It was then found that Mr Craik was suffering from collapse of the pylorus – a disease always dangerous and difficult of cure, and one which soon showed the usual effects in his case. When the writer saw him, some three months since, he was painfully struck by the sad change in Mr Craik’s appearance. Although he was then able to drive out a little, he was a mere shadow of his former self; he was debarred from reading – a severe deprivation of one of his chief pleasures – he could not even bear the excitement of another reading to him, except at infrequent intervals, and he seemed altogether like a man who was slowly nearing the last stage of decay and dissolution. Yet his old cheerfulness and geniality were but slightly diminished; while his confidence in the end, his faith, his hope, were expressed in the same unaffected, unfaltering, manly tone and manner which always characterised him. To meet death was not to meet an enemy of whom he was afraid – it was to meet the conqueror of death, the Master whom he had served so lovingly, so cheerfully, and so acceptably, as many can testify in this city and elsewhere. Mr Craik lingered on, gradually growing weaker and weaker, until Monday night, when he died very calmly and peacefully. About nine o’clock a change was observed by his family, and an intimate friend and neighbour (Mr Charles Lemon) was sent for. The pulse was found to be gradually falling, and at 11.23 it ceased. It is common enough to praise men when they are dead, and to indulge indiscriminate laudations of them. Of all this Mr Craik had an instinctive abhorrence. Himself without a particle of pride or affectation – although he had, being among the first linguists in England, much to be proud of – he turned with surprise and regret at the assumption of superiority in others, especially when he knew, as he easily could know, that it was pretentious and unwarranted. We are only employing, however, the language of truth and soberness, when we say that Henry Craik’s religion was of the loftiest and purest description – that it was untarnished by worldly considerations, and that it combined as much of the spiritual and human nature in felicitous proportion as we have ever found or expect to find again. His very simplicity and child-like trustfulness charmed all classes. His piety, never ostentatious, never bordering upon personal merit, was so transparent that you could not help feeling and recognising its power and influence. The priestly character he could not assume, nor the perfunctory style of duty which some who disown the title of priest are apt to fall into. His whole life, his very soul, he gave entirely to the service of his Master and the welfare of his fellow-creatures. As he lived, so he died, in faith and hope. Who that knew him doubts his destiny? Of some men we may have doubts – of Henry Craik we can think only as we think of the saints and martyrs who walked for a while upon earth in a pilgrim’s journey to Heaven. Thousands will sorrow after him – his bereaved flock, and especially his self-sacrificing colleague, Mr George Muller, with whom he commenced his ministry in Bristol, and who regarded him in the truest sense as a brother. By the whole Christian community of this great city his memory will be cherished with affection, his character will be reverenced, and his life and labours will long be remembered with admiration and gratitude.

By the first part of Mr Muller’s “Narrative,” we find that Mr Craik left Teignmouth, where he then was a minister among “The Brethren,”2 for Bristol, on a visit of four weeks, on the 29th March, 1832. Mr Muller states that “it was there [Teignmouth] that I became (in 1829) acquainted with my beloved brother, friend, and present fellow-labourer, Henry Craik.” Mr Muller, at Mr Craik’s solicitations, followed him to Bristol, and on the 22nd April preached at Gideon Chapel, then occupied by the Brethren.3 It is well known that these remarkable men made a wonderful impression during this their first visit to the city. An entry of the “Narrative,” dated April 29, 1832, says: – “Brother Craik preached this evening at Gideon for the last time previous to our going. The aisles, the pulpit stairs, and the vestry were filled, and multitudes went away on account of the want of room.” The next entry, May 15, shows the decision to accept the invitation to settle in Bristol. “Just when I was in prayer,” writes Mr Muller, “concerning Bristol, I was sent for to come to brother Craik. Two letters had arrived from Bristol. The brethren assembling at Gideon accept our offer to come, under the conditions we have made, i.e., for the present to consider us only as ministering among them, but not in any fixed pastoral relationship, so that we may preach as we consider it to be according to the mind of God, without reference to any rules among them; that the pew-rents should be done away with; and that we should go on, respecting the supply of our temporal wants, as in Devonshire.” This last sentence means a great deal. In Devonshire these truly apostolic men literally laboured “without money and without price.” Occasionally they were reduced to such straits as to have neither money nor food; yet their wants were always supplied, without appealing for aid to friends or neighbours. They made no bargain in Bristol for salaries or residences. “A cheap lodging” at 18s a-week, consisting of two sitting-rooms and three bed-rooms, was deemed sufficient for them and their families. It was the year of the cholera, and during four months they held every morning a prayer meeting at Gideon, from six to eight o’clock, at which from two to three hundred people were present. Mr Muller says: “Though brother Craik and I visited many cholera cases, by day and by night, yet the Lord most graciously preserved our families from it.” That Mr Muller fully estimated Mr Craik’s preaching power may be seen by an entry of Oct. 1st, 1833: – “Many more are convinced of sin through brother Craik’s preaching than my own. This circumstance led me to inquire into the reasons, which are probably these: – 1. That brother Craik is more spiritually minded than I am. 2. That he prays more earnestly for the conversion of sinners than I do. 3. That he more frequently addresses sinners, as such, in his public ministrations, than I do.” Mr Craik’s preaching drew a large and intelligent congregation to Bethesda Chapel, Great George Street – this place of worship having been secured when Gideon was found inadequate. It was not popular preaching, being deficient in manner and style, and without any of the gaudy rhetoric which is commonly relied on to fill chapels. Mr Craik had but one object in view – to instruct and impress his hearers, and in this he always succeeded. No one could complain that Mr Craik did not understand the text on which he preached. Whatever the subject might be Mr Craik was certain to master it thoroughly. His language was chaste and scholarly. Words singularly forcible and apposite were employed to convey his meaning upon topics to which he had given special attention. Frequently there was much warmth, always great earnestness, in his pulpit addresses and his prayers. Many thoughtful and pious members of the Church of England were drawn to Bethesda Chapel on the Sunday evenings to hear Mr Craik, and were not the least sincere among his numerous admirers. Mr Craik also preached, alternately with Mr Muller, at Salem Chapel.

Our own idea is, that Mr Craik’s forte was the professor’s chair rather than the pulpit. As a Hebraist he had few equals, still fewer could be named as his superiors; and among his friends and correspondents were some of the first scholars and divines of the day, including our own diocesan (Bishop Ellicott), with whom a strong intimacy was maintained, – the Bishop being fully alive to the extent and variety of Mr Craik’s learning and ability. Mr Craik had been a pupil, at Edinburgh University, of the late Dr. Chalmers, and was educated as a clergyman of the Church of Scotland, in which his brother (Rev. Dr. Craik, of Glasgow) occupies a conspicuous position. But the trammels of Presbyterianism were over much for him, and he became a decided Nonconformist, embracing the Congregational form of church polity. His habits, however, were too retiring to allow him to mingle in controversial strife. Only once do we remember his appearing in public to give his views on the connexion of Church and State. It was in 1860, at the Broadmead Rooms. A correspondence followed in these columns, his opponent being a well-known clergyman who figured on the same side at the July election of members of Parliament.

Mr Craik, while an active pastor, was also a frequent writer. His principal works are: “Principia Hebraica;” “The Distinguishing Characteristics and Essential Relationships of the Leading Languages of Asia and Europe;” “The Hebrew Language, its History and Characteristics;” “Hints and Suggestions on the Proposed Revision of our English Bible;” “Reply to certain Misrepresentations contained in Essays and Reviews;” “Pastoral Letters;” “An Amended Translation of the Epistle to the Hebrews;” “The Popery of Protestantism,” &c.

We understand that Mr Craik kept a diary, in which he has given the leading events of his interesting career, his correspondence and intercourse with eminent men of his time, and an account of the establishing of that great national institution, the Ashley Down Orphan Houses. This will shortly be published, we believe, and will form a valuable history of the thirty-four years’ life and labours of Mr Muller and Mr Craik – two of the most remarkable men, two of the most honoured servants of the Church of Christ, who have ever appeared in this or any other country.

Auf derselben Seite findet sich unter der Rubrik “Deaths” noch folgende knappe Notiz:

On the 22nd inst., at Holyrood Villa, Hampton Park, Clifton, the Rev. HENRY CRAIK, deeply and sincerely regretted by a wide circle of friends and admirers.

Über Craiks Beerdigung am 30. Januar erschien in der Western Daily Press ebenfalls ein ausführlicher Bericht, den ich mir für einen separaten Blogeintrag aufhebe.

200. Geburtstag von Lord Cavan

Frederick John William Lambart, 8th Earl of Cavan

Frederick John William Lambart, der 8. Earl of Cavan, gehört ähnlich wie George Frederic Trench oder Henry Heath zu den hierzulande weniger bekannten „Chief Men“ der britisch-irischen Offenen Brüder. Er wurde heute vor 200 Jahren in Fawley (Hampshire) an der Südküste Englands geboren.

Lambarts Eltern waren George Lambart, Viscount Kilcoursie, der älteste überlebende Sohn des 7. Earl of Cavan, und seine Frau Sarah geb. Coppin. Beide starben früh – die Mutter 1823 und der Vater 1828 –, sodass Frederick bereits mit 13 Jahren Vollwaise war. Von 1829 bis 1833 besuchte er die bekannte Eliteschule in Eton, anschließend trat er ins 7. Dragonerregiment ein, das damals in Irland stationiert war. In Dublin besorgte er sich 1835 zum ersten Mal in seinem Leben eine Bibel.

1837 starb Fredericks Großvater Richard Lambart, der 7. Earl of Cavan. Da sein Sohn George, der eigentliche Anwärter auf den Titel des 8. Earl,1 ebenfalls schon verstorben war, ging der Titel direkt auf den knapp 22-jährigen Enkel Frederick über. Acht Monate später heiratete dieser in London die 21-jährige Caroline Augusta Littleton, eine Tochter des Politikers Edward John Littleton, 1. Baron Hatherton.2 Die beiden bekamen mindestens acht Kinder, von denen allerdings drei früh starben.3

Von 1839 bis 1844 hielten sich die Cavans vorwiegend auf dem europäischen Kontinent auf; einen Winter verbrachten sie in Frankfurt, einen Sommer in Bad Ems, danach zwei Jahre in München. Hier begann Lord Cavan, angeregt u.a. durch einen Brief seines Schwagers Charles Evelyn Pierrepont, Viscount Newark, mit einem systematischen Studium der Bibel. Zurück in England, schloss er sich den „Brüdern“ an, denen er bis zu seinem Lebensende verbunden blieb (nach 1848 den Offenen Brüdern). 1846 war er an der Gründung der Evangelischen Allianz beteiligt.

Ab 1864 sah sich Lord Cavan zunehmend in den Predigt- und Evangelisationsdienst berufen. Sein Biograf in Chief Men among the Brethren beschreibt seinen Predigtstil wie folgt:

Quiet in manner, with little action, and no attempt to seem a striking preacher, with his Bible in one hand and his eyeglass in the other, confidence in the Lord gave power to what he spoke. “I am,” he would say, “only a plain man; but I speak what I know.” He might begin without giving the impression of much power; but after a little, with his heart yearning over those he addressed, his tender manner became full of energy, his tones earnest, and his words very solemn. The true end of preaching was reached; his hearers felt that, whether for life of death, Lord Cavan’ s testimony was a message from God.4

1866 lud Lord Cavan, der seit 1860 in Weston-super-Mare wohnte, den Evangelisten Lord Radstock (1833–1913) zum Predigen dorthin ein. Es entstand eine kleine Erweckung, bei der u.a. Friedrich Wilhelm Baedeker (1823–1906) zum Glauben kam. Besonders am Herzen lag dem Ehepaar Cavan auch der Nachbarort Milton (heute ein Stadtteil von Weston); hier kümmerten sie sich finanziell um die Armen, und Lord Cavan ließ einen Missionssaal errichten, in dem er selbst oft predigte. Karitativ engagierte er sich ferner auf der irischen Insel Achill, wo er ein Anwesen besaß.

Am 16. Dezember 1887, genau zwei Wochen vor seinem 72. Geburtstag, erlag Lord Cavan in seinem Haus in Weston-super-Mare einer Bronchitis. Über seine Beerdigung am 22. Dezember berichtete der Taunton Courier:

The mortal remains of the late Lord Cavan were interred in the Weston-super-Mare cemetery on Thursday, in the presence of a large concourse of spectators. At 11.30 a.m a short service was held in the Lodge – the residence of deceased – at the conclusion of which the cortège was formed in the following order: – First came the coffin – which was of polished oak with handsome bras [sic] fittings – on which were deposited several handsome floral tributes. Then followed, on foot, the subjoined mourners: Lord Kilcoursie, M.P. (eldest son), Col. the Hon. Oliver Lambert (brother of deceased), Capt. the Hon. A. Lambert (youngest son), Col. Slanden (son.in-law [sic]), the Hon. R. Lambert (Lord Kilcoursie’s eldest son), Col. the Hon. E. Littleton and the Hon. W. Littleton (nephews of the Countess Cavan), Mr Bowens, London (nephew of Lord Cavan), Capt. Broughton (Ampthill), and Mr Nisbet solicitor, London). Next in the procession came several ladies and the servants of the Lodge, all carrying choice wreaths, and these were followed by a large number of the clergy and gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood. In the cemetery chapel a short service was held, in which Mr T. Newbery and Mr A. Rainey took part. Subsequently, at the graveside, Dr Baedeker, Mr Newbury, and the Rev. Colin Campbell (vicar of Christ church), concluded the service, among the spectators of the mournful ceremony being the tenantry of the deceased from Glastonbury and Cannington, Rev. Preb, [sic] Stephenson (Lympsham), Rev. W. H. Turner (Banwell), Mr W. Hurman [Mayor of Bridgwa er [sic]), Mr F. J. Thomson (Bridgwater), Mr B. P. Thomas (Clifton), Capt. West (Clifton), Bev. [sic] J. Ormiston (Bristol), &c. The site of the interment is alongside the graves of three of deceased’s sons, all of whom died in their youth[.] As a mark of respect to the memory of deceased, the prinioal [sic] places of business throughout the town were partially closed during the hour of interment; the Uuion [sic] Jack was flcated [sic] at half-mast on the tower of the parish church, and a muffled peal was rung on the bells of the same parochial edifice.5

Das Lebensbild Lord Cavans aus Chief Men among the Brethren ist online zugänglich, enthält allerdings mehr fromme Redewendungen als konkrete Fakten; informativer ist der Artikel in der englischsprachigen Wikipedia.

100. Todestag von Georg von Viebahn

Georg von Viebahn

Heute vor 100 Jahren starb der bekannte „General und Evangelist“ Georg von Viebahn. Aus diesem Anlass veröffentlicht bruederbewegung.de sechs historische Kurzbiografien und Porträts in zeichengetreuen Neueditionen:

  • Friedrich Wilhelm von Viebahn: Georg von Viebahn. Ein Streiter Jesu Christi (1918). Dieses Lebensbild wurde von Viebahns ältestem Sohn als Einleitung zu einer Auswahl aus der Traktatserie Zeugnisse eines alten Soldaten an seine Kameraden verfasst. Wichtige Quelle für alle späteren Biografien [18 Seiten, 154 KB].
  • Emil Dönges: General von Viebahn. Ein Gedenkblatt von Freundeshand (aus: Gedenk-Blätter aus ernster Zeit, um 1919). Der Autor, einer der führenden deutschen Geschlossenen Brüder der zweiten Generation, war mit Viebahn befreundet und sprach u.a. auf seiner Trauerfeier in Berlin. Besonders interessant sind einige persönliche Erinnerungen und Bezüge zur Brüderbewegung [11 Seiten, 123 KB].
  • Ernst Modersohn: Georg von Viebahn (aus: Menschen, durch die ich gesegnet wurde, 1937; wiederabgedruckt in Die Botschaft, 1951). In diesem Auszug aus seinen Lebenserinnerungen fasst der bekannte Pfarrer und Allianzmann Modersohn den „besonderen Auftrag“ Viebahns in vier Punkten zusammen [5 Seiten, 72 KB].
  • Ernst Lange: Zum hundertjährigen Geburtstag von Georg von Viebahn (aus: Die Botschaft, 1940). Der Verfasser dieses äußerst respektvollen Porträts war ein bekannter Offener Bruder und gehörte dem von Viebahn begründeten „Verband gläubiger Offiziere“ an [5 Seiten, 58 KB].
  • Anonym: Eine Erinnerung an General von Viebahn (aus: Die Botschaft, 1952). Zunächst wird eine Zeitungsnotiz zur Aufhebung des Viebahn’schen Familienfriedhofs in Engers kommentiert, anschließend folgen Erinnerungen eines Bruders Ö. aus Solingen, der Viebahn während seiner Soldatenzeit in den 1890er Jahren kennengelernt hatte [4 Seiten, 62 KB].
  • Kurt Karrenberg: Ein Streiter Gottes (aus: Die Botschaft, 1966). Dieser – leicht verspätet erschienene – Gedenkartikel zum 50. Todestag Viebahns, geschrieben vom damaligen Schriftleiter der Botschaft, fasst im Wesentlichen die Biografie Friedrich Wilhelm von Viebahns zusammen [7 Seiten, 80 KB].

Einige weitere Lebensbilder und Erinnerungen sind ebenfalls online zugänglich:

  • Arend Remmers: Georg von Viebahn (1840–1915) (aus: Gedenket eurer Führer. Lebensbilder einiger treuer Männer Gottes, Hückeswagen ²1990, S. 134–139)

Verweisen möchte ich schließlich noch auf die von Martin Arhelger bereitgestellte umfangreiche Sammlung von Zeitschriftenbänden und Broschüren Viebahns (darunter auch die bekannte Schrift Was ich bei den Christen gefunden habe, die sich nur im Namen Jesu versammeln [1902]; Neuedition auf bruederbewegung.de) sowie auf den bedeutsamen Briefwechsel zwischen Viebahn und Rudolf Brockhaus, dem führenden deutschen Geschlossenen Bruder im ersten Drittel des 20. Jahrhunderts (Viebahn an Brockhaus, 14. Dezember 1905; Brockhaus an Viebahn, 15. Januar 1906).

Mehr über Henry Heath

Das meiste, was wir über Henry Heath wissen, verdanken wir Pickerings Chief Men among the Brethren;1 auch spätere Autoren (sofern sie Heath überhaupt erwähnen) schöpfen offenbar vorwiegend aus dieser Quelle.2 Dass in Chief Men ein falsches Todesjahr angegeben wird, habe ich in meinem Beitrag zum 200. Geburtstag Heaths bereits erwähnt; es hätte allerdings auch Pickering selbst schon auffallen können – immerhin waren die Letters of the Late Robert Cleaver Chapman, die Heaths Tod im Januar 1899 belegen, schon 1903 erschienen. Auf eine noch ältere und aufschlussreichere Quelle bin ich erst nach Verfassen meines Blogeintrags gestoßen; es handelt sich um einen Nachruf in der Zeitschrift North Africa vom Februar 1899.

north_africaNorth Africa war das Organ der Anfang der 1880er Jahre gegründeten überkonfessionellen „North Africa Mission“,3 als deren Sekretär der Offene Bruder Edward Henry Glenny (1852–1926) fungierte.4 In seiner regelmäßigen Rubrik “To the Friends of the North Africa Mission” meldete er im Februar 1899 den Tod dreier Freunde der Mission: Philip Gough,5 Henry Heath und William Thomas Berger.6 Der Abschnitt über Heath lautet wie folgt:

In the early hours of the first of January, as the New Year broke, Mr. Henry Heath, another life-long personal friend, reached home. In addition to sometimes helping financially, he was a regular reader of our paper, or it was read to him, and we may rest assured that the work was borne up before the Master whom he loved. He was a devoted, gifted, and eminent servant of Christ, but being very modest and retiring, was not so widely known as he otherwise might have been, though probably a considerable number of our readers may have known him. He was born in the year 1815, and converted early in life. At the age of nineteen he had a serious illness, and it was feared he might die of consumption, but the passage of Scripture, “I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord,” was strongly impressed upon his mind. He was at first a schoolmaster, and then was associated with Mr. Robert Chapman, of Barnstaple, in Christian work. In 1841 he went to labour in Spain, and was in Malaga and Gibraltar for over a year at a time when work in Spain was very much more difficult than at present. He kept up his Spanish reading, though he did not return to that country again. In 1848 he was married, and entered upon Christian work at Hackney, and made this his centre of life and service till 1869. His tall, commanding figure, he must have stood 6 feet 2 or 3 inches, impressed itself vividly on my infant mind; he had an eagle eye, and his face was grave and serious, though it not infrequently relaxed into a pleasant smile. I owe much to his prayers, his holy example, and his calm faith, and now, after sixty or seventy years of service, he has reached home. He was buried at Woolpit, where he resided for the last thirty years, though during the last five years he had moved about rather more.

I was commissioned by members of Mr. Heath’s family to inform Mr. W. T. Berger, of Cannes, of his decease, as they had been closely associated in Christian work at Hackney; but on January 9th, before my letter could reach him, he, too, was called to the presence of the Master.7

Die Beschreibung von Heaths Charakter (“very modest and retiring”) und seinen wichtigsten Lebensstationen stimmt durchaus mit dem Bericht in Chief Men among the Brethren überein; eine ganze Reihe von Informationen sind jedoch völlig neu. Ich fasse sie stichwortartig zusammen:

  • frühe Bekehrung
  • lebensbedrohliche Krankheit im Alter von 19 Jahren
  • Missionseinsatz in Spanien 1841/428
  • Heirat 18489
  • Zusammenarbeit mit William Thomas Berger in Hackney10
  • Unterstützung der „North Africa Mission“
  • Reisetätigkeit in den letzten fünf Lebensjahren

Alles dies war offenbar auch „C. J. H.“, dem Verfasser der Heath-Biografie in Chief Men among the Brethren, nicht bekannt – andernfalls hätte er sicher zumindest einiges davon erwähnt. Auch die spätere Brüdergeschichtsschreibung scheint Glennys Nachruf nicht verarbeitet zu haben, sodass er als veritable (wenn auch kleine) Entdeckung gelten kann.

200. Geburtstag von Henry Heath

Henry Heath

Es gibt „Brüder“, die sozusagen im Rampenlicht der Öffentlichkeit stehen: Sie reisen, halten Vorträge, schreiben Artikel oder Bücher, beeinflussen Entscheidungen. Andere wirken eher im Stillen: lokal begrenzt, ohne großes Aufsehen, aber nicht weniger treu. Ein solcher Bruder war Henry Heath, der heute vor 200 Jahren in Teignmouth (Devon) geboren wurde.

Das Früheste, das wir aus Heaths Leben wissen, ist, dass er um 1839 in dem Dorf Tawstock , etwa 80 km nordwestlich seines Geburtsorts gelegen, als Lehrer eingestellt wurde. Bald machte er Bekanntschaft mit Robert Cleaver Chapman, der im benachbarten Barnstaple seit einigen Jahren eine Gemeinde nach Art der „Brüder“ leitete. Heath besuchte Chapmans Vorträge und lernte hier die Heilige Schrift als inspiriertes und lebendiges Wort Gottes kennen. Die Folge war, dass er seinen Plan, Geistlicher in der anglikanischen Kirche zu werden, aufgab. Er schloss sich der Gemeinde in Barnstaple an und entwickelte sich dort zu einem begabten Prediger und Leiter.1

Um 1848 zog Heath in das Dorf Hackney nordöstlich von London (heute ein Stadtteil Londons), um 1869 dann nach Woolpit, einem entlegenen Dorf in der Grafschaft Suffolk im Osten Englands. Sein Biograf berichtet:

Here this faithful servant of the Lord spent nearly thirty years of his life, putting into practice the text that came so forcibly to him many years previous: “Seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not” (Jer. 45. 5). Hidden away from the multitude, unseen and unheard by the many, yet through the power of the Holy Spirit being a great blessing to those with whom he came in contact. People from fifteen different villages (some of them six miles away) would come regularly to Woolpit room to have the privilege of sitting under his ministry, and go away refreshed and strengthened.2

Henry Heath starb am 1. Januar 1899 im Alter von 83 Jahren.3 Sein ehemaliger Mentor, der inzwischen 96-jährige Robert Chapman, schrieb zwei Wochen später in einem Brief:

It is well with our dear departed Brother Heath – it is well – it is well. He is with the Lord whom he so loved and so faithfully served, and is looking onward to the gathering together of the redeemed.4

Heaths Name wurde unter den Offenen Brüdern noch lange in Ehren gehalten und häufig in einem Atemzug mit zwei anderen Henrys, Henry Groves und Henry Dyer, genannt.5 Sein Lebensbild aus Chief Men among the Brethren ist online verfügbar.

150. Todestag von Wilhelm Alberts

„Alberts, Schwarz, Bröcker, Weber, Eberstadt, Effey“ – diese Namensliste ist in nahezu jeder ausführlicheren Darstellung der deutschen Brüdergeschichte zu finden.1 Es handelt sich um die sechs Brüder, die am 11. Dezember 1852 zusammen mit Carl Brockhaus aus dem Evangelischen Brüderverein austraten bzw. austreten mussten, weil sie sich die Ansichten John Nelson Darbys zu eigen gemacht hatten. Über die meisten von ihnen wissen wir kaum mehr als die Namen; nur Wilhelm Alberts ist uns dank der Nachforschungen des letzten Brüdervereinsvorsitzenden Hans Horn etwas besser bekannt.2

Bildquelle: http://www.wiehl.de/bilder/drinhausenbig.jpg
Wiehl um 1850

Wilhelm Alberts wurde am 5. April 1823 in Dörnen bei Wiehl (heute ein Stadtteil im Südwesten Wiehls) geboren und erlernte das Handwerk des Klempners oder Blechschlägers. Durch den Nümbrechter Pfarrer Ernst Hermann Thümmel (1815–1887) kam er zum Glauben und erhielt bald Gelegenheit, in „erweckten“ Versammlungen das Wort zu ergreifen. 1850 trat er in den neu gegründeten Evangelischen Brüderverein ein und wurde für ein Tagesgehalt von 20 Silbergroschen hauptamtlicher „Lehrbruder“. Max Goebel, ein landeskirchlicher Kritiker des Brüdervereins, berichtete 1854, dass Alberts

zuerst in den Gemeinden Lennep und Lüttringhausen, und später in verschiedenen Gemeinden der Aggersynode sehr stark besuchte aber auch heftig angefeindete Versammlungen hielt. Während seines anfänglichen Wirkens in der Synode Lennep machte er auf die dortigen Pfarrer theilweise den Eindruck eines bescheidenen, wohlmeinenden, gläubigen Mannes […]. Alberts verbreitete seit 1852 bedenkliche Lehren von der Unverlierbarkeit des Gnadenstandes, der absoluten Prädestination und seiner Sündlosigkeit, so daß nun selbst die frömmeren und entschiedeneren Pfarrer der Aggersynode sein Treiben je länger je mehr mißbilligten. So hat er Pfingsten 1852 zu Nallingen in der Gemeinde Marienberghausen das heilige Abendmahl unter Gesang, Schriftlesung und abwechselnden knieenden Gebeten mehrer Brüder mit 12–14 (später gar mit 40) Personen beiderlei Geschlechts durch gegenseitige Austheilung von ungesegnetem Weißbrod und Wein (aus einer Tasse) gefeiert, was er selber aber nur ein Liebesmahl oder eine testamentliche Handlung nannte. Diese Feier wurde monatlich gehalten. Alberts selber war schon 1852 Wiedertäufer geworden, indem er sich mit einigen Anverwandten – wahrscheinlich von Lindermann3 – wiedertaufen ließ; und sammelte in seiner Heimath aus Verwandten und Freunden eine Gemeinde von zwanzig Personen, die 1853 ihren Austritt aus der evangelischen Kirche förmlich notariell erklärten.4

Vorausgegangen war dieser Gemeindegründung die „darbystische Krise“5 im Brüderverein. Horn schreibt:

Aus den fragmentarischen Berichten hinsichtlich des Inhaltes seiner [Alberts’] Predigt kann man die Spuren einer immer stärkeren Hinwendung zu den speziellen Lehren der sogenannten Brüderbewegung erkennen, die durch den Engländer John Nelson Darby einen mächtigen Auftrieb in Europa erfuhr. […] Es ist keine Frage, daß im Brüderverein Alberts neben Carl Brockhaus der entschiedenste Verteidiger der Lehren der Brüderbewegung war.6

Da der Brüderverein keine „separatistischen Bestrebungen“ duldete, wurden Alberts und seine Freunde am 11. Dezember 1852 zum Austritt gedrängt. Für Alberts hatte das durchaus existenzielle Konsequenzen: Er musste sich wieder einen Brotberuf suchen und begann als „Ackerer“ in der Landwirtschaft zu arbeiten. Seine Predigttätigkeit setzte er jedoch fort – nun freilich unter noch größeren Anfeindungen. Im Siegerland beispielsweise wurde er 1853 einmal verhaftet, und die zum „Liebesmahl“ Versammelten wurden von der Polizei auseinandergetrieben.

Die von Alberts an seinem Wohnort Großfischbach gegründete Gemeinde, die auch Carl Brockhaus auf seinen Reisen wiederholt besuchte, wurde „Brüderverein der Gläubigen“ oder „Freie Brüdergemeinde“ (!) genannt. Horn kommentiert:

Ganz entsprechend dem ihnen eigenen Gemeindeverständnis vermeidet man jede Bezeichnung, die als eine neue Freikirche verstanden werden könnte. Wie ernsthaft das Bestreben war, sich auf den Bahnen der Urgemeinde zu bewegen, erkennt man an dem interessanten Vorschlag, der bei einer Versammlung in der Gemeinde Marienberghausen unterbreitet, aber dann doch nicht verwirklicht wurde, nämlich die Gütergemeinschaft unter den Gläubigen einzuführen. […] Die Versammlungen selbst verliefen nach Auskunft des Bürgermeisters Möller „still und friedlich“, ihren Teilnehmern stellte er in „moralischer und sittlicher Beziehung“ ein sehr gutes Zeugnis aus.7

Wilhelm Alberts wurde nur 42 Jahre alt. Der „rastlose Wanderprediger“8 starb heute vor 150 Jahren in Rumeln im Kreis Moers (heute ein Stadtteil von Duisburg). Seine Nachwirkung fasst Horn wie folgt zusammen:

Die zahlreichen Kleinkreise der Brüderbewegung, die unmittelbar oder mittelbar von ihm gegründet wurden, haben ihn überlebt, aber im Laufe der Jahrzehnte seinen Namen auf Grund ihrer gewollten Interessenlosigkeit an der Geschichte verblassen lassen oder sogar vergessen. Wie viele es gewesen sind, läßt sich nicht mehr feststellen. Aber wir dürfen aus den vorhandenen Quellen schließen, daß die ältesten Zellen der Brüderbewegung im Oberbergischen, im Siegerland, und auch in angrenzenden Gebieten zu einem großen Teil auf diesen Vorkämpfer reiner geistgewirkter Christengemeinden zurückgehen.9

Die 20-seitige Arbeit von Horn ist auf bruederbewegung.de digital zugänglich.

100. Todestag von George Frederic Trench

George Frederic Trench

Wie die meisten britischen und irischen Offenen Brüder der zweiten und dritten Generation ist George Frederic Trench im deutschen Sprachraum kaum bekannt. Er erhielt jedoch einen Platz in Henry Pickerings Chief Men among the Brethren1 – Grund genug, auch an dieser Stelle einmal an ihn zu erinnern.

Trenchs Vater Frederic FitzJohn Trench (1808–1859) war ursprünglich Kavallerieoffizier in Indien und später Pfarrer im irischen Staplestown. George Frederic,2 sein dritter Sohn, wurde am 6. August 1841 geboren. Zum Glauben kam er im Konfirmationsalter durch eine Ansprache des bekannten Erweckungspredigers Henry Grattan Guinness (1835–1910). Während seines Studiums am Trinity College in Dublin, das er mit einem B.A. abschloss, lernte er den gleichaltrigen Robert Anderson (1841–1918) kennen, der ebenfalls ein bekannter Offener Bruder werden sollte und mit dem er zeitlebens freundschaftlich verbunden blieb. Gemeinsam unternahmen sie in den 1860er Jahren erfolgreiche Evangelisationsreisen durch Irland.

1868 heiratete Trench Frances Charlotte Talbot-Crosbie, eine Tochter des Offenen Bruders William Talbot Talbot-Crosbie (1817–1899), und ließ sich an deren Heimatort Ardfert im Südwesten Irlands nieder. In den folgenden Jahrzehnten engagierte er sich stark als Evangelist, Prediger und Autor bei den Offenen Brüdern und darüber hinaus;3 das Christian Brethren Archive verzeichnet 15 Bücher und Schriften von ihm,4 hinzu kommen zahlreiche Beiträge zu den Zeitschriften The Witness, The Christian u.a. Pickering schreibt über seinen Dienst:

Having received clear light on the evil of Sec­tarianism in his younger days, he was clear in heart and ways to the end. No man was more loyal to the truths dear to those who seek to gather in the Worthy Name alone. An ardent worker, a diligent student, an able minister of the Word, ever a friend of the young, and interested in young men, also in policemen, soldiers, and other special branches of work, his influence was most widely extended by his pen.5

George Frederic Trench starb heute vor 100 Jahren und wurde auf dem protestantischen Friedhof von Dublin (Mount Jerome Ceme­tery) begraben. Sein von Pickering verfasstes Lebensbild ist online verfügbar.