Crawford wurde besonders durch seinen Buchtitel Thinking Black bekannt, der prägnant zusammenfasst, was die Grundlage seiner Missionsarbeit in Afrika war. J. Keir Howard schreibt dazu im oben verlinkten Artikel aus dem Dictionary of African Christian Biography:
In many ways he was far ahead of his time, as his books (Thinking Black and Back to the Long Grass) show very clearly. His approach to others was summed up in his words, “I am de-nationalized – a brother to all men; Arab, African, Mongol, Aryan, Jew; seeing in the Incarnation a link that binds us up with all men”. This attitude led him to an identification with the Africans and their culture that was not generally welcomed by his European associates at the time […].
Über Crawfords Leben liegen online bereits genügend Darstellungen vor (s.o.), sodass ich hier auf eine eigene Skizze verzichte. Stattdessen gebe ich drei Zeitungssausschnitte zu seinem Tod wieder, die ich bei meinen Recherchen im British Newspaper Archive fand:
Christopher James Davis, dessen Todestag sich heute zum 150. Mal jährt, stellt in mehrerer Hinsicht eine Ausnahmeerscheinung unter den (Geschlossenen) „Brüdern“ des 19. Jahrhunderts dar: Zum einen war er wohl der einzige prominente Schwarze unter ihnen, zum anderen war er mindestens ebenso sehr für sein humanitäres Engagement bekannt wie für sein geistliches.
Geboren am 23. April 1842 in Barbados als Sohn eines britischen Vaters und einer barbadischen Mutter, erlernte Davis zunächst den Lehrerberuf und war daneben als methodistischer Laienprediger aktiv. Bald schloss er sich jedoch den „Brüdern“ an. 1866 ging er nach London, um Medizin zu studieren; im April 1870 erwarb er in Aberdeen den Grad eines Bachelor of Medicine (M.B.).1 Nach einigen Monaten ärztlicher Tätigkeit im St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London sah er sich im September 1870 berufen, verwundete Soldaten im Deutsch-Französischen Krieg zu versorgen und die Einrichtung von Suppenküchen zu unterstützen. Bei diesem aufopferungsvollen Dienst infizierte er sich mit den Pocken und verstarb innerhalb weniger Tage am 27. November 1870 in Pont Maugis, erst 28 Jahre alt.
Sein Tod fand in der Presse breite Aufmerksamkeit. The Daily News brachte am 5. Dezember 1870 einen ausführlichen Nachruf von W. H. Bullock, der in mehreren anderen Zeitungen (auszugsweise) nachgedruckt wurde,2 und am folgenden Tag einen weiteren Bericht über seine Arbeit. Das medizinische Fachblatt The Lancet veröffentlichte am 10. Dezember einen kürzeren Artikel mit dem Titel „Le Bon Docteur Noir“, der ebenfalls in mehrere Zeitungen Eingang fand.3 Interessant ist die folgende Charakterisierung Davis’ aus dem Aberdeen Journal vom 14. Dezember 1870 (Hervorhebung hinzugefügt):
As is known to many of our readers, Dr Davis was a blythe, handsome-looking man, with exceedingly frank and affable manners. He possessed considerable ability, and graduated at the University here in the spring at the present year. He was perhaps best known in this quarter in connection with his evangelical meetings, and his able advocacy of the doctrines of Plymouthism. He took a very earnest and active interest in the welfare of the poor and degraded classes, during the time of his residence here as a medical student, and we know from thoroughly impartial testimony, was the means of doing a great deal of good. He did all this without in the slightest manner obtruding himself upon the notice of the public, and more than one good deed, which deserves to be proclaimed, was kept secret at his own express desire.
The Dundee Courier & Argus druckte am 15. Dezember 1870 Auszüge aus einem Brief ab, den Richard Chrimes, Organisator der finanziellen Unterstützung von Davis’ Arbeit in Frankreich, an die Spender geschickt hatte. Er schilderte darin die letzten Tage des Verstorbenen sowie seine Beisetzung am 29. November auf dem protestantischen Friedhof von Sedan, bei der – sicher ungewöhnlich für die Beerdigung eines Geschlossenen Bruders – drei Pastoren sprachen (darunter auch ein Deutscher).
Auch christliche Zeitschriften begannen sich nun für Davis zu interessieren. Im Mai 1871 machten mehrere englische Zeitungen auf eine Kurzbiografie in The Sunday at Home aufmerksam,4 und wenige Monate später erschien im Baseler Evangelischen Missions-Magazin (herausgegeben von Hermann Gundert) einer der ersten deutschsprachigen Artikel über Davis – unter dem nun geradezu sprichwörtlich werdenden Titel „Der gute schwarze Doktor“, der ihm in Frankreich beigelegt worden war. Dieses Lebensbild habe ich bereits 2017 auf bruederbewegung.dewiederveröffentlicht.
An weiteren online zugänglichen Informationsquellen über Davis sind u.a. zu nennen:
eine von Alfred Taylor Schofield überlieferte Anekdote, die auch in Traktatform verbreitet wurde (deutsche Übersetzung auf bibelstudium.de).
Schriften und Vorträge
In seinem kurzen Leben veröffentlichte Davis mehrere Broschüren und Bücher, die auf der Website STEM Publishing größtenteils digital verfügbar sind. Als Beispiele für seinen evangelistischen Verkündigungsdienst mögen hier einige Zeitungsausschnitte dienen:
Dass Davis’ humanitäres Engagement in den Kreisen der Geschlossenen Brüder durchaus nicht auf ungeteilte Zustimmung stieß, berichtet Neatby in seiner History of the Plymouth Brethren (Hervorhebung hinzugefügt):
[Darby] once overheard a company of them discussing the recent death of Dr. Davis – a young coloured man, known as “the good black doctor,” who after qualifying in London as a surgeon lost his life from small-pox while attending on the wounded in the Franco-Prussian war. The work for which he laid down his life was deemed a sadly worldly piece of philanthropy by the zealots of Darbyism, and the group was actually discussing whether it were not by a judgment mingled with mercy that the young surgeon had been called hence. Darby broke in on the debate with an impatient, “Well, well, God has accepted his service and taken him home”.5
William Kelly war in diesem Punkt derselben Ansicht wie Darby:
I heard Dr. D[avis] censured (by the S[toney?] following in general) for going on behalf of the sick and of souls to Sedan. This I never did and I did not think it was for me, or for them, to judge.6
Besuchern der Website bruederbewegung.de ist der Name William Collingwood bestens bekannt: Seine Broschüre The Brethren: A Historical Sketch (1899), eine wichtige Darlegung des „offenen“ Standpunkts, gehört bereits seit dem ersten Tag zu unserem Download-Angebot (im „Brethren Archive“ gibt es inzwischen auch ein Faksimile des Originals).1 Größere Werke scheint Collingwood nicht publiziert zu haben (das CBA nennt nur noch das Büchlein Man’s Future, in God’s Word  und zwei Separatdrucke von Zeitschriftenaufsätzen); sein Schwerpunkt lag auf einem anderen – und für „Brüder“-Kreise eher ungewöhnlichen – Gebiet: Er war Künstler, vor allem Aquarellmaler. Als solcher genießt er auch in säkularen Kreisen noch eine gewisse Bekanntheit; so ist ihm und drei weiteren Künstlern aus seiner Verwandtschaft die Website Collingwood Art gewidmet, auf der sich u.a. ein Lebensbild und auch einige Gemälde von ihm befinden.
Anstelle einer eigenen biografischen Skizze zitiere ich hier den von Roy Coad verfassten Artikel aus dem Blackwell Dictionary of Evangelical Biography:
Collingwood, William (b. Greenwich, London, 23 April 1819; d. Bristol, England, 25 June 1903). Watercolourist and Brethren leader. Grandson of Samuel2, printer to Oxford University. Collingwood was educated privately and at the Cathedral School, Oxford. He specialized in ‘baronial interiors’ and in landscape (especially mountain scenery, his chief love). In 1839 he settled in Liverpool, where he became a member of the academy, and was elected to the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolours in 1855. In 1844 he started a Brethren congregation, later building them a hall, and leading them for forty years. A close friend of George Müller, he moved to Bristol in 1890, becoming a member of the Bristol Academy. He was a friend of John Ruskin, his son being Ruskin’s private secretary and biographer; his grandson was R. G. Collingwood, the Oxford philosopher and archaeologist.3
Einige weitere Einzelheiten aus Collingwoods Leben überliefert das anonyme Kapitel über ihn in Henry Pickerings Chief Men among the Brethren. Erwähnenswert ist, dass er mit einer deutschsprachigen Schweizerin verheiratet war, nämlich mit Marie Elisabeth Imhoff (* 11. Juni 1826; † 16. Mai 18734), der Tochter eines Notars aus Arbon am Bodensee (Thurgau). Sie hatten die drei Kinder William Gershom (1854–1932), Sophia Ruth (1856–1937) und David (1858–1899).5
Collingwoods Tod im Jahr 1903 fand in den Zeitungen erstaunlich wenig Beachtung. Ich gebe hier einen (leider schwer lesbaren) Nachruf aus der Yorkshire Post wieder:
Als ich 2001 über Percy Francis Hall zu recherchieren begann, schickte mir David Brady vom Christian Brethren Archive (CBA) in Manchester u.a. einen Artikel mit dem Titel „Early Days in Herefordshire“ zu, den auch das CBA nur in Kopie besaß. Er war dem Archiv zusammen mit anderen historischen Dokumenten der Brüdergemeinde Hereford übergeben worden und trug die handschriftliche Notiz:
Da die Seitenzählung mit 84 begann, musste es sich um einen Auszug aus einem Sammelband o.Ä. handeln; im Katalog des CBA erhielt der Artikel daher den Vermerk: “Apparently extracted from a larger work.”
Der Autor ließ sich immerhin identifizieren, denn unter den Archivalien aus Hereford befand sich auch eine handschriftliche Version des Aufsatzes, betitelt „The Lord’s Work amongst Early Brethren in Herefordshire“ und einem gewissen Charles Brewer aus Leominster zugeschrieben.3 Entdeckt hatte beide Dokumente Harold H. Rowdon, als er für seine Dissertation recherchierte;4 von der Manuskriptfassung machte er in seinem Kapitel über Hereford reichen Gebrauch, nannte sie aber etwas kryptisch nur „Brewer’s MS“, ohne den genauen Titel und den Fundort anzugeben,5 was noch Jahrzehnte später immer wieder zu Anfragen an das CBA führte.6
Welchem “larger work” die Druckversion entnommen war, blieb jedoch weiterhin unklar; Tim Grass bibliografierte sie 2006 in seinem magnum opus als “n. pl.: n. p., 1893”,7 und ich selbst schrieb in meinem 2013 erschienenen Aufsatz über Percy Francis Hall nur von einem “extract from an unidentified larger work”.8 Erst 2014/15 gelang es durch eine gemeinsame Anstrengung mehrerer Mitglieder des Brethren Archivists and Historians Network (BAHN), die Quelle ausfindig zu machen. Samuel McBride erinnerte sich, in einem Buch des Offenen Bruders Joseph Henry Burridge einen “well written account full of interesting and obscure information” über die Anfänge in Hereford gelesen zu haben;9 nachdem er seine Bibliothek konsultiert hatte, konnte er das Buch als The Christian Outlook: A Compendium of Papers on Various Aspects of Christian Life and Doctrine, Glasgow (Pickering & Inglis) o.J. identifizieren.10 Auf den Seiten 84–95 war tatsächlich der Artikel „Early Days in Herefordshire“ von „C. B.“ abgedruckt – ein Befund, den Timothy Stunt unabhängig davon bestätigte.11
Ein halbes Jahr später hatte ich Gelegenheit, den Band The Christian Outlook bei einem australischen Antiquariat zu erwerben. Wie sich herausstellte, handelt es sich nicht eigentlich um ein Buch, sondern um zwei Jahrgänge einer Zeitschrift, die Burridge 1896 unter dem Titel Church Principles and Christian Practice begonnen und 1899 in The Christian Outlook umbenannt, aber bereits Ende 1899 (also nach nur vier Jahren) wieder eingestellt hatte. In dem undatierten Sammelband The Christian Outlook, der nach außen hin wie ein gewöhnliches Buch erscheint, sind – getrennt paginiert – der dritte Jahrgang von Church Principles and Christian Practice (1898) und der vierte, The Christian Outlook genannte Jahrgang (1899) enthalten. Das Inhaltsverzeichnis (auf der Rückseite des Titelblatts) erfasst eigenartigerweise nur Letzteren; der Artikel „Early Days in Herefordshire“ findet sich jedoch im ersten Teil, und zwar im zweiten Heft, erschien also ursprünglich im zweiten Quartal 1898 in Church Principles and Christian Practice.
Vorangestellt ist dem Artikel eine Einleitung des Herausgebers mit dem Titel „Early Days among Brethren“, in der es u.a. heißt:
The narrative referred to was written in 1893, but the wisdom of publishing it being questioned by some, it has been kept back. But the fact that the account of God’s ways with His people, and His mighty power and grace among them, as well as that of their failure, is often given in the scripture for the benefit of, and even to bring home the sin of, a succeeding generation, and that in some instances they are expressly told to tell to their children the works of God among themselves, influences us to publish it now, especially as it is in character with the object of this Magazine.12
Damit wäre auch die Jahreszahl 1893 erklärt, mit der die Kopie im CBA versehen ist: Es handelt sich nicht um das Erscheinungsjahr der Druckversion, sondern um das Entstehungsjahr des Manuskripts. Eine Neuedition der Druckfassung habe ich vor einigen Tagen auf bruederbewegung.de zugänglich gemacht.13
Wer war nun Charles Brewer? Das Buch Turning the World Upside Down, eine Missionsgeschichte der Offenen Brüder, weiß ein wenig über ihn zu berichten:
Born in 1826, as a boy of eight or nine years old he had heard his father read an account of the mission in Baghdad, its trials and tragedies. The effect never left him. Until he died in 1915 he used all his energies in the Lord’s work at home and abroad. In 1884 he moved with his wife to Leominster and lived in the very suitably named Perseverance Road. To stir up missionary interest, he addressed meetings in various parts of the country, published books, pamphlets, tracts, magazine articles, maps, prayer cards, postcards and collecting boxes.14
Einige weitere biografische Einzelheiten lassen sich per Internetrecherche ermitteln. Geboren wurde Charles Brewer in Worthing (Sussex)15 als Sohn des Lehrers Samuel Kilbinton Brewer (1782–1849), der anscheinend bereits Freikirchler war,16 und dessen Frau Sarah geb. Shackle (ca. 1789–1871). Charles’ beruflicher Werdegang war offenbar abwechslungsreich: Im Census 1841 erscheint er als “Bookseller”, 1851 als “Head Assistant Bookseller”, 1861 als “Sewing Machine Maker”, 1871 als “Agent”, 1881 als “Grocer Manager Tea Trade”, 1891 und 1901 als “Living on (his) own Means” und 1911 als “Retired Bookseller”. Als Wohnsitz ist 1841 Lambeth St. Mary, 1851 bis 1881 Liverpool und 1891 bis 1911 Leominster registriert.
1851 heiratete Brewer in Plymouth die etwa fünf Jahre ältere Rebecca Horlford (geb. in Devonport); 1853 wurde ihre Tochter Lucy geboren (die 1885 den späteren Needed-Truth-Mitbegründer Charles Mann Luxmoore heiratete17), 1855 ihr Sohn Charles Samuel. Nachdem Rebecca 1902 im Alter von 81 Jahren verstorben war, ging der ebenfalls schon recht betagte Charles Brewer 1904 eine zweite Ehe mit der aus Leominster stammenden, ca. 27 Jahre jüngeren Laura Marion Rogers ein. Am 11. April 1915 starb Brewer, wahrscheinlich in Leominster:
Was die “books, pamphlets, tracts” angeht, die Brewer laut Turning the World Upside Down veröffentlicht haben soll, so besitzt das CBA nur einige wenige dünne Broschüren; am umfangreichsten ist noch das 32-seitige Heft My Book of Remembrance of Some Service & Work Done in Other Lands in the Name of the Lord, Leominster ²1909.18
Noch weniger als über Brewer scheint bisher über Joseph Henry Burridge bekannt gewesen zu sein, den Herausgeber von Church Principles and Christian Practice bzw. The Christian Outlook. Roy Coad erwähnt ihn überhaupt nicht,19 Tim Grass nur einmal in Verbindung mit den Wiedervereinigungsgesprächen zwischen Offenen und Geschlossenen Brüdern Anfang des 20. Jahrhunderts.20 Der Katalog des CBA verzeichnet immerhin eine namhafte Anzahl seiner Veröffentlichungen (darunter einige recht anspruchsvoll klingende Titel, z.B. God’s Prophetic Plan: A Comprehensive View of God’s Dealings with Man from Creation to the New Heavens and New Earth, 300 Seiten, oder Near Eastern Politics and the Bible: Science, Creation, and Revelation in the Light of Near Eastern Politics, 152 Seiten), und das Believer’s Magazine veröffentlichte im Juni 1941 einen kurzen Nachruf.21 Hieraus und aus verschiedenen Online-Datenbanken lässt sich in etwa folgendes Lebensbild rekonstruieren:
Joseph Henry Burridge wurde am 20. Januar221856 im Londoner Vorort Peckham23 in einfache Verhältnisse hineingeboren: Sein Vater George Burridge (1828–1907) war zunächst Landarbeiter24 und später Ziegelbrenner,25 und auch die beiden ältesten Söhne George und Joseph Henry mussten früh hart arbeiten – im Census von 1871 sind sie als “Bricklayers”, d.h. Maurer registriert. Joseph Henry scheint diesem Beruf aber körperlich nicht gewachsen gewesen zu sein, denn 1881 wird der erst 25-Jährige als “Invalid” geführt. In der Zwischenzeit hatte sein Leben freilich schon eine andere Wendung genommen: 1872 war er zum Glauben gekommen und hatte sich den „Brüdern“ angeschlossen, und bereits vier Jahre später – also im Alter von 20 Jahren – war er in den vollzeitlichen Dienst getreten.26 Im Census 1891 ließ er sich denn auch als “Evangelist” eintragen, 1901 als “Mission Preacher”.27 Sein Schwerpunkt war allerdings nicht nur missionarisch: Wie aus Zeitungsanzeigen und -berichten hervorgeht, hielt er oft auch apologetische Vorträge (z.B. 1888 auf Guernsey über die Gottheit Christi, 1890 in Portsmouth über den Katholizismus, 1929 in Preston über die Inspiration der Bibel) oder gab in längeren Vortragsreihen umfassende Überblicke über Heilsgeschichte und Prophetie (z.B. 1894 in Ilfracombe, 1897 in Bath, 1903 in Tunbridge Wells)28 – alles Themen, die auf ein intensives autodidaktisches Studium schließen lassen.
1894, im Alter von 38 Jahren, heiratete Burridge im Bezirk Barton Regis (Gloucestershire) die etwa sieben Jahre jüngere, aus Wells (Somerset) gebürtige Fanny White. Sie bekamen fünf Kinder: Ernest Leslie (1896–1948), Doris Eva K. (1898–1901), Irene Winifred (1900–1965), Margaret Mary (1901–1994) und Arthur Patrick (1904–1992). Das Ehepaar ließ sich zunächst in Bristol nieder (bis zu seiner Heirat hatte Burridge offenbar in der Region London gelebt); von etwa 1898 bis 1901 finden wir sie in Ross-on-Wye (Herefordshire) oder Umgebung (Linton, Walford) – was wohl den Kontakt mit Charles Brewer und das Interesse an den Anfängen in Herefordshire erklärt –, von etwa 1904 bis 1911 wieder in Bristol, ab 1912 in Weston-super-Mare und spätestens ab den 1920er Jahren in Birmingham, wo Fanny am 15. Februar 1937 im Alter von 74 Jahren starb.29 Joseph Henry wirkte weitere vier Jahre in großer geistiger und körperlicher Frische;30 sein Tod am 6. Mai 1941 war auf einen tragischen Verkehrsunfall zurückzuführen.31
(Dass der Wert seines Nachlasses hier mit “Nil” angegeben wird, verwundert etwas; 1901 war die Familie immerhin noch so vermögend gewesen, dass sie vier Hausangestellte beschäftigen konnte.)
In vielen seiner Veröffentlichungen befasste sich Burridge mit Gemeindefragen. Er galt als Offener Bruder der „alten Schule“ und wandte sich seit den 1890er Jahren gegen die Verengungstendenzen, die in der Needed-Truth-Gruppe mündeten, aber auch außerhalb davon weiterwirkten.32 Tatsächlich verstand sich gerade seine Zeitschrift Church Principles and Christian Practice als „Zeugnis“ gegen diesen „Irrtum“.33 In seiner wahrscheinlich letzten Schrift Church Theories among Brethren, um die Jahreswende 1940/41 entstanden, meinte er sogar bei Henry Pickering und William Edwy Vine Züge dieser Lehre entdecken zu können.34 Darüber hinaus geißelte er den sektiererischen Geist, den er auch unter den Offenen Brüdern wahrnahm:
In our ecclesiastical and party strife, our respective sects (and all Church parties – or party Churches – are sects) look upon each other as enemies, and cultivate the greatest of bitter feelings toward each other. […] And those sects who boast that “we have left the sects” (and there are many such) are the most culpable, in this respect of unchristian feeling. For they have some idea of the true centre of gathering, and (some of them) the unity of the whole Church, on the absolute side. And yet their rules, regulations and customs are deadly set against the practical manifestation of the same. They have no respect – not to say love or interest – for believers, or even the work of God, outside our [sic!] own boundary lines.35
Mit der Veröffentlichung von Charles Brewers „Early Days in Herefordshire“ in Church Principles and Christian Practice über 40 Jahre zuvor hatte er ebenfalls eine erzieherische Absicht verfolgt:
Let us seek to emulate the simplicity and devotedness of the early brethren to whom God revealed so much that is matter of common knowledge to us. Let us also seek to avoid the evils which so soon marred the testimony to the truth thus revealed, and judge the cause of it in ourselves. To this end we shall be glad to receive any true and unbiased accounts of the work of God in recovering to His people truth that had been long lost to the Church, yet clearly taught in His Word, and its immediate effect upon those who received it. But prejudiced accounts which have as their object the vindication of one party of brethren as against another, will not be in harmony with our object.36
Weitere historische Berichte dieser Art erschienen trotz Burridges Aufforderung leider nicht. Die Auflage der Zeitschrift Church Principles and Christian Practice dürfte ohnehin nicht besonders hoch gewesen sein – heute ist sie so selten, dass eine Google-Suche nur einen einzigen Treffer liefert, und zwar diesen Blog! Auch das CBA besitzt nur den Sammelband The Christian Outlook, also wohl nicht die ersten beiden Jahrgänge der Zeitschrift. Vielleicht kann der vorliegende Blogeintrag ein wenig zur Wiederentdeckung dieser beiden nahezu vergessenen Offenen Brüder der zweiten und dritten Generation, Charles Brewer (1826–1915) und Joseph Henry Burridge (1856–1941), beitragen.
Diese Meldung erschien am 14. März 1917 in der Edinburgher Zeitung The Scotsman (S. 6). Das genaue Todesdatum des Verstorbenen war den Familiennotizen auf S. 12 derselben Ausgabe zu entnehmen:
Walter Thomas Prideaux Wolstons Lebenslauf ist durch die Kurzbiografien von Henry Pickering, Arend Remmers und John Bjorlie hinreichend bekannt und muss daher hier nicht wiederholt werden. Was keiner der drei Autoren erwähnt, ist der Name seiner Ehefrau. Die Zeitung The South London Press berichtete am 8. Juni 1878 (S. 11):
Mary Lean wurde im 3. Quartal 1842 in Plymouth geboren1 und starb am 25. November 1932 in Weston-super-Mare.2 Über ihren Vater Francis Lean (1795–1873) weiß George Henry Lang zu berichten, dass er noch am Abend seiner Bekehrung (und seines Übertritts zu den „Brüdern“) seine Position bei der Marine aufgab.3 (Vermutlich handelt es sich um denselben Francis Lean, der am 16. Juni 1849 einen Brief aus London an die Gemeinde in Bethesda [Bristol] mitunterzeichnete.4 Seine jüngste Tochter Ellen Teresa heiratete übrigens einen Sohn von Charles Henry Mackintosh.5)
Der Bruder, dessen Todestag sich heute zum 150. Mal jährt, gehört sicher nicht zu den bekanntesten in der Geschichte der Brüderbewegung; tatsächlich sind sich die Historiker noch nicht einmal über seinen Namen einig: Während Brewer1, Rowdon2 und Ouweneel3 ihn Griffith nennen, heißt er bei Beattie4, Langford5, Embley6, Coad7, Rawson8 und Stunt9Griffiths. Diese Diskrepanz findet sich allerdings auch bereits in zeitgenössischen Nachrufen: Das Hereford Journal schreibt Griffith,10 die medizinische Fachzeitschrift The Lancet dagegen Griffiths.11 Selbst das offizielle britische Testamentsregister Calendar of the Grants of Probate and Letters of Administration kann sich nicht entscheiden und bietet beide Formen: „GRIFFITH otherwise GRIFFITHS“.12
Wer war John Griffith(s)? Geboren wahrscheinlich 1799 in Wrexham (Wales),13 absolvierte er ein Medizinstudium und machte sich ab 1825 in Hereford einen Namen als talentierter Chirurg. Als 1837 durch die Predigt Percy Francis Halls eine Brüdergemeinde in Hereford entstand, schloss Griffith(s) sich ihr an und wurde bald einer der „führenden Brüder“ am Ort. Brewer schreibt über ihn:
Dr. John Griffith, the leading surgeon of the city, who threw open his heart, his house and his purse; he was an energetic man, full of love for the Gospel – would converse with his patients on their soul’s greatest need, keeping Capt. Rhind’s pictures of the Tabernacle on his consulting room table, explaining and enforcing the different teachings of the various parts. Some of his more wealthy visitors were offended and left, but soon returned because of his professional ability, so that his faithfulness was ultimately to him no loss.14
For long years the good doctor was remembered as the great tract distributor, often throwing the Gospel messages out of his carriage as he went his rounds, which were by no means confined to the city. Of a kind and benevolent disposition, Dr. Griffiths had a hospitable heart of love for the people of God, and it is said that whenever a gifted brother came along he would invite brethren to breakfast to meet him; and as on Lord’s Day many would come long distances – some walking miles for the purpose of remembering the Lord in the breaking of bread – the doctor would have a cold luncheon laid out in a large room in his house for any – rich and poor alike – who cared to partake of it.15
Leider kam es 1849 zu Spannungen zwischen Griffith(s) und Hall:
Capt. Hall was a deep thinker and teacher, not having much fellowship with the direct Gospel testimony to the world, for he was not an evangelist of late years at least.16 Dr. Griffith on the contrary was an evangelist, and did not so much care for the deep teaching and wonderful expositions of Capt. Hall. The one was all for teaching the saints, the other was all for testimony to the world. Hence a growing coolness grew up between them, which culminated in an open rupture. Capt. Hall retired with his followers, and met in St. Owen Street, afterwards connecting the meeting with Mr. Darby’s.17
Griffith(s) und die urspüngliche Gemeinde in Hereford blieben in Gemeinschaft mit den Offenen Brüdern (denen sich auch Hall nach der Sufferings-of-Christ-Kontroverse 1866 wieder anschloss, allerdings nicht mehr in Hereford, sondern in Weston-super-Mare).
Ab 1852 begann Griffith(s)’ Gesundheit nachzulassen, sodass er seine berufliche Tätigkeit einschränken musste. Er starb am 2. Juni 1866, heute vor 150 Jahren, in seinem Haus in der St. Owen Street in Hereford. Das Hereford Journal widmete ihm eine Woche später folgenden Nachruf:18
DEATH OF JOHN GRIFFITH, ESQ., SURGEON. – The medical profession has lost one more of its most valued and skilled surgeons of this city. Mr. Griffith was the senior practitioner, and kept up a lucrative practice, extending from its commencement over 40 years. He succeeded his esteemed uncle, Mr. Griffith, who was Mayor of Hereford. The deceased has for a lengthened period suffered from physical debility, but while in good health he led a very active life, taking a leading part in most of the religious controversies of former days. He was a leading member of the Hereford Protestant Association, and was selected as one of a deputation to the Roman Catholics of Ireland. Some 25 years back he seceded from the evangelical party in the Church, and joined a new sect then springing into maturity, and familiarly designated the Plymouth Brethren. A diversity of opinion, either in discipline or doctrine, caused this new branch of dissent to sever themselves into two divisions. That difference of faith was never healed, and they in a turning point of time became separated and formed two “rooms,” where their tenets are regularly and systematically inculcated. We believe that Mr. Griffith, with his wonted energy, lent his purse and influence to the congregation which settled at the Barton. He had a peculiar habit of having long devoted himself to the distribution of religious tracts. We doubt if any single-handed gentlemen, at his own cost, ever gave so many thousand books and leaflets to the people in the highways and byeways as the deceased. His death occurred on Saturday last, to the regret of numerous friends, who knew how to appreciate his work and “labour of love.” The deceased was not married.19 The funeral took place on Thursday at the burying ground at the Barton, when a large congregation was present, the service being conducted by Mr. Mansel20 and Mr. Seward21.
Der Nachruf in The Lancet vom 30. Juni 1866 hebt naturgemäß mehr Griffith(s)’ medizinische Leistungen hervor, vermittelt aber ebenfalls einen Eindruck von seinem Charakter:22
Mr. John GRIFFITHS commenced practice in Hereford in the year 1825. Having passed his examinations four years previously, and made what was in those days the professional “grand tour,” he was appointed surgeon to the Hereford Infirmary, which post he held until 1839, and was specially noted for his operative skill. His health failed in 1852, and from that time he restricted his practice. During the latter years of his life he refused to see any new patients, though many old friends continued to avail themselves of his professional services to the last. He finally sank from renal disease, but never thoroughly rallied after an operation for calculus in the spring. He died on the 2nd of June, in the sixty-seventh year of his age. He was of an eminently original mind, somewhat brusque in manner, and a man of many whims; but his kindness of heart, his practical charity, and his unswerving rectitude, together with eminent professional skill, which gained him great local repute, will long cause his name to be remembered and respected.
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.
THE REV. HENRY CRAIK.
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.”
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:
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:
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):
FUNERAL OF REV. HENRY CRAIK.
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.
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:
DEATH OF REV. HENRY CRAIK.
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.
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.