The disorganized state of Germany presented a serious obstacle to John and Martha Yeardley's resuming their labors on the Continent.
FROM JOHN YEARDLEY TO JOHN KITCHING.
Scarborough, 6 mo.23, 1849.
We spent two days at Malton with our dear friends Ann and Esther Priestman, in their delightful new abode on the bank of the river: we were comforted in being at meeting with them on First-day. On Second-day we came to Scarborough, and soon procured two rooms near our own former residence. The sea air and exercise are beneficial to the health of my M.Y. and myself. Scarborough is certainly a most delightful place. The changes in the little society here are great: we miss many whom we knew and loved when we were resident here. It feels pleasant, though mournful, once more to mingle our sympathies with the few Friends who are left.
We sometimes sigh under the weight of our burden on account of poor Germany, from which land the accounts continue unsatisfactory. Mannheim, where we had such a sweet little meeting with a few pious persons last year, is now being bombarded; also in several other parts of the Rhine the insurrection is not yet subdued. Our friend Dr. Murray returned on Second-day last from a tour through part of France, Belgium and the Rhine. He told us he was obliged to return after having proceeded as far as Mayence, as the steamers were interrupted in their course beyond that place, south. This is the very line which we had thought to pursue; we cannot tell how soon an alteration may suddenly take place for the better. We must wait in patience, faith and hope.
The political horizon soon became clearer, and they resumed their journey on the 2nd of the Eighth Month. They again passed through Belgium, stopping at several places, and distributing a large number of religious tracts.
On reaching Elberfeld they were received in a very cordial manner by R. Hockelmann, and they held a satisfactory meeting in that city with a company of serious persons, originally Roman Catholics, who had at first followed Ronge, but afterwards separated from him. John Yeardley says of them:
They are rejected by the Lutheran and Reformed Churches. They have adopted the name of German Catholics to attract the Romanists to them. There is real life of religion with some of them; perhaps with still a little obscurity on some important points of doctrine. Light does not always shine clearly all at once; nor is it always obeyed, so as to be received in its fulness.
Still more interesting was a meeting they had at Muehlheim on the Ruhr, where, it will be remembered, they found an open door for their ministry on their first continental journey. We give the narrative in John Yeardley's words: --
8 mo.17. -- On our arrival at Muehlheim we received a visit from the three pastors resident here and in the neighborhood, along with Pastor Bochart, from Schaffhausen, whom we had known some years before. One of them, Schultz, immediately asked me if we were not the parties who had held a meeting in a school-room in this place twenty-four years ago. We entered very fully into the awakening that had taken place in this neighborhood. The spiritual seed of Tersteegen has never died out; and they told us of a person, Muehlenbeck, in Sarn, who represents those who are acquainted with the interior life. The youngest minister said directly, I will fetch him. In an hour's time he came again, accompanied by a middle-aged man, much like a good old Friend. He recollected us again, and spoke of our meeting. When we went to see him the next day in the village, he took us to the house in which he had lived in 1825, and placing me in the centre of the room said, There stood thou twenty-four years ago, and preached the gospel in this room; there sat thy dear wife and her friend, with the young man who interpreted for her.
They soon set about making a meeting for us, which is to be held this evening in a large room in the house of one of the brethren. O, my Saviour, strengthen us for this evening's work, and forsake us not in the time of need!
18th. -- The meeting last evening was got well over. There were two rooms filled with men and a few women; their minds seemed sweetly centred on the Source of good. A precious silence prevailed, and I was enabled to address them in German from Acts xi.23: -- |When Barnabas was come to Antioch and had seen the grace of God, he was glad and exhorted them all that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.| The nature of silent worship was also dwelt upon, and freedom from sin, through repentance and faith in Christ. My M.Y. spoke a few words in German, and I supplicated in the same language. Many hearts are prepared to receive the doctrine of the influence and guidance of the Holy Spirit: it seemed like marrow to their bones.
After the meeting some came to our inn, and remained till 10 o'clock. They seemed as if they could not part from us. We spoke of our ministry, missionary journeys, baptism and the Supper, in which we seemed to be one in sentiment and heart. Our short tarriance here has excited curiosity to know who and what we are, and a great desire for books; and a liberal supply has been furnished them. Those tracts on our religious principles are just the food many are prepared to receive.
In coming this morning from Muehlheim to Elberfeld, my heart was tendered under a sense of the Lord's mercies. I feel poor and unworthy, but it is impressed on my heart from day to day that my little remaining strength and my few uncertain remaining days must be devoted to my Great Master's cause. I am thankful that we have not through discouragement been deterred from entering on this part of our religious service; for, after all we have passed through on the occasion, I do believe the present time is seasonable. --
(Diary and Letter)
Before leaving the neighborhood, they had a second meeting at Elberfeld, the holding of which was endangered by the animosity which prevailed between the different religious parties. After the place and hour were advertized, it appeared the room would be required for a missionary meeting. The president of the missionary society was so unfriendly to those who associated with John and Martha Yeardley, that he not only refused to let them have the room, but refused also to let notice be given at his meeting of the alteration in time and place which it was needful to make in theirs. They therefore hastily arranged their meeting for another day, and the alteration was announced in the daily newspaper. The disappointment proved, in the end, to be a subject for thankfulness on their parts; for just before the hour of assembly of the missionary society, an alarming fire broke out, and threw the whole town into commotion; and the missionary meeting was obliged to disperse as soon as the opening hymn had been sung.
The Friends' meeting, which took place two days afterwards, was held in quiet. John Yeardley preached on a subject which seems to have engaged his mind ever since he had entered the place, -- viz., the Fall of Man. While in Elberfeld he printed a tract on this subject; and in a conversation which he and Martha Yeardley had with a doctor from Charleroi, the doctor told them it was the very thing which was wanted, being exactly adapted to the condition of the numerous sceptics in that part, of whom he had once been one.
Their sojourn at Bonn, where they arrived on the 31st of the Eighth Month, was exceedingly cordial to their religious feelings. The persons with whom they were the most intimately united were two ladies, Alexandrine Mackeldey and the Countess Stynum; the latter of whom had come to know the way of salvation during a visit to England. J.Y. describes the opening for service which they found in this city, in a letter to Josiah Forster: --
This morning, the 1st of the Ninth Month, we received an early visit from a pious young woman, interior. On her entering the room we felt the Spirit of Jesus was near. As soon as we discovered the piety of her mind, and her sweet and open disposition, I said to her: Now, tell us who there are in this place who are really spiritually-minded persons. She said, I will; and instantly took the pen, and put down about six or seven names, among which was the name of the Countess Stynum. This lady, said she, I am sure, will be rejoiced to see you; she is too weakly to leave her house, but I am going to her and will tell her you are here.
Our kind helper soon returned with the expression of a warm desire from the Countess that we would remain tomorrow and hold a meeting in her saloon in the evening, and invite any of our acquaintance, and she would give notice to her own friends. There was so evidently a pointing of the Great Master's finger in this matter, that we were at once constrained to accept the invitation.
9 mo.3. -- A little before six o'clock last evening the Countess sent for us to take coffee with her, to have an hour of our company before the meeting. She gave us a hearty reception, and in such Christian simplicity, that we soon felt at perfect ease in her company. She has a well-informed and enlightened mind and a strong understanding, and lives, believe, in the fear of the Lord. She asked many questions about the religious sects in England, as to the state of real piety, their forms, baptism, &c. Then she came to our own Society. I was in poor plight for answering questions; however, I explained the spiritual view we took of those subjects, and asked permission to send her books, in the reception of which she seemed to promise herself much gratification.
Her commodious and elegant saloon was conveniently seated and pretty well filled. Our manner of worship was quite new to every one present. We first explained it privately to the countess, who immediately comprehended our view; there was no wish at all shown to sing or read; a precious solemnity prevailed, and I was enabled to speak, in German, first on the nature of our silent worship, then on what [else] rested on my mind. The young woman above-mentioned, A. Mackeldey, interpreted for my dear M.Y., who, I thought, had the best service; and she did it so well and so seriously that the right unction seemed to be preserved, and prevailed over us; and after a supplication in German we parted under a very precious solemnity.
A.M. said afterwards that she had been instructed by what she had heard, and was prepared to appreciate the value of silence. She observed, I think it a marked favor of Providence that you should have come at the present perplexing time, to comfort and confirm the faith of some in this place, and of me in particular.
Speaking of those with whom they had intercourse in this city, John Yeardley says: --
9 mo.2. -- Should it be the will of our Heavenly Father, I hope we may be permitted to see those precious souls again, and water the seed the Great Husbandman has deposited in their hearts. I consider such little companies, or individuals, as a little leaven working silently in a corrupt mass.
I never remember, he writes the next day, to have had more satisfaction in distributing Friends' books, or having intercourse with pious persons, than thus far on the present journey. The thinking part of the people, under the tossing of the present moment, are really thirsting for food more spiritual than they have hitherto received.
At Neuwied they were informed that the Inspirirten whom they saw there twenty-four years before, had, with the exception of a few families, emigrated to America, and that those whom they visited at Berlenburg had done the same.
From Neuwied they went to Kreuznach. This was a place to which they had no thought of going when they left England; indeed, John Yeardley, though passing near it on former journeys, was not aware of its existence. But when they were at Elberfeld, a swarthy youth from Cape Town, an inmate of the Mission-house at Barmen, mentioned to them that four of his fellow-countrymen had been for a time at Kreuznach. On hearing this place named, it occurred to J.Y. that it would be well for them to take it in their way. They had good reason to believe, before they left the place, that it was the Lord who had directed their steps thither, and that he had prepared the hearts of some who dwelt there to receive them. John Yeardley thus relates what occurred: --
9 mo.6. -- On our sending to a tailor named Ott, he could not come to us by reason of bodily infirmity; but on paying him a visit I found him a meek and spiritual man. He undertook to speak with some others of the same way of thinking, to meet us in our hotel at 7 o'clock. On making it known he found more were desirous of coming than he had expected; a number of young people asked permission to be present, so that our commodious saloon was pretty well filled. We read the fourth chapter of John, and then I addressed the company with great freedom; my M.Y. also spoke in German, and was well understood. Friend Ott said, |You may travel about, and think your journeyings and labors will do but little good, but they will be blest far beyond what you may expect. What you have said this evening has gone to my heart. If we had only some one to whom we could look in holding meetings, we should grow.| He was reminded of Him, the Head of his church, to whom we must all look. Of this he was fully aware, but said, as they were mostly of the lower class, they had no room, and the pastors did not encourage such meetings.
7th. -- This morning our new-made friend accompanied us to three of the villages, to visit several of his friends. We were pleased with the simplicity and real Christian feeling with which, they received us. We arranged for a meeting in one of these places for First-day afternoon, and one with our Kreuznach friends in the evening. My poor soul can only say, Lord, help!
8th. -- Called again on J.A. Ott, and found him looking very serious. He told me he had read farther in the books we left with him, and the more he saw, the more conviction was brought into his mind that what they unfolded was the truth; and that he believed it his duty thoroughly to weigh the matter, and then speak with a few of those who united with him, to see whether they could unite in holding a meeting after our manner, but that it was a serious matter, and they required time to mature it. We were quite of his mind in this respect; at the same time I believe if they had strength to meet together it would be advantageous.
10th. -- Yesterday we met the little company in Horweiler, a room well filled with souls thirsting, I believe, for spiritual food. |All thy children shall be taught of the Lord,| was much dwelt upon by me. My dear M.Y. was wonderfully helped in German. It was a precious season; the presence of the Lord was near, uniting our hearts in him.
At 7 o'clock we had the meeting in our room. It was not so lively as the one in the country; but we can thankfully acknowledge the Great Master was near to help in the needful time. It was a day of great exercise of body and mind. Our friend Ott accompanied us throughout the day's labor, and I felt the help of his spirit.
There are several villages around Kreuznach (some of which we have visited), where dwell a good many spiritually-minded people, who meet together for improvement. We have just received a sweet visit from Adam Tiegel of Schwabenheim, who is come to have a little talk with us. He seems to be the first who was awakened in 1805, and was made the means of awakening others, who now hold meetings in an old monastery.
Passing on to Mannheim, they saw the effects of the revolution in Baden; the fine stone bridge over the Rhine had been blown up, and not yet replaced. The handful of pious persons with whom they had met in 1848 had been preserved in the midst of the danger; and their meetings had been maintained and were increased in numbers. One of these, a widow, told them that, during the bombardment of the city, a cannon-ball had entered her house, and had passed by her bedside when her children were in the room, and also that a shell had burst before her door; but on neither occasion were any of the family hurt.
At Stuttgardt they received the affecting intelligence of the decease of Elizabeth Dudley, who died of cholera on the 6th of the Ninth Month. The removal of this, one of her earliest and dearest friends, was a severe stroke to Martha Yeardley, and sensibly affected her bodily health. In a letter to her sisters, of the 14th of the Ninth Month, she thus gives vent to her feelings: --
It would not be possible to set forth in words what we have felt from the affecting intelligence contained in dear R.'s letter. What shall we do but seek ability at the Divine footstool to bow in humble resignation to this afflictive dispensation? I have had for some time a strong impression that something of this kind awaited us in our immediate circle; and it was with a trembling hand that I opened the letters. The tie which bound me to her, and which is now perhaps for a very short time broken, as far as relates to earthly things, was sealed upon my heart by a communion of more than forty-eight years, and includes all the various changes of an eventful life, during which my best feelings were ever cherished and encouraged, both by example and precept, and by the tenderest affection. But I must not dwell upon this subject, lest I become unfitted for the duties which our present engagement daily calls for.
To these afflictive tidings was added some discouragement in respect to their proposed journey to Russia. The little hope that John Yeardley still entertained of being allowed to cross the Russian frontier was extinguished by the information he received at Stuttgardt. A large number of the German emigrants who settled in the South Russian colonies were from the neighborhood of this city, and John Yeardley inquired of some of their ministers, who had served in the colonies, how far the country was likely to be accessible to a foreigner going thither to preach the gospel. The information he received was unfavorable, and his endeavors to obtain in this city the signature of the Russian ambassador to his passport were fruitless.
They had, however, something to console them under these trials.
In all our former travels in Germany, says J.Y., we never experienced such an open door and spirit of inquiry among the people as in the present journey. It is said that there is scarcely a village in all Wuertemberg where meetings for worship are not held in private houses. The late revolutionists declare vengeance against these people, the pietists, as they call them, and that if the war breaks out again, they are to be the first to be cut off. But the present king gives them their liberty and his protection, and has openly said the pietists have saved his country. -- (Letter of 9 mo.15.)
Before they left Stuttgardt they were refreshed by a social evening's recreation, one of those occasions of the familiar intercourse of friendship, under the canopy of divine love, in which John Yeardley especially delighted.
17th. -- Our two young friends, Reuchlin, came to conduct us to their garden among the vine-hills in the environs of the town. We there met their precious mother, and were joined by a good many interior ones, who had been invited to meet us. We had a precious little meeting in the arbor, after which we gave them some account of the religious movement in Belgium, &c., which pleased them much. We afterwards partook of fruit, biscuits, and wine. I shall reckon this garden visit among the happy moments of my life, because the presence of the Most High was with us.
On the 18th they went to Kornthal to visit the interesting society in that place. Hoffmann's widow, who seems to have returned from Basle after the death of her husband, was there, but so aged and infirm as to be confined to the house. The inmates of the establishment were therefore convened in some apartments adjoining her chamber, so that she could partake in the spiritual repast. Their kind friend Reuchlin had prepared the way for them; and when the assembly took their seats, a solemn silence ensued. John Yeardley and |Brother| Koelne addressed the meeting, and the former supplicated at the conclusion. On their way back to Stuttgardt, Madame Reuchlin interrogated them on the doctrine of election, and was rejoiced to hear from them their full belief in the universality of the grace of God; and as they communicated to one another their convictions respecting this great truth, their spirits were knit together in the love of the gospel.
From another pious person in this city, John Yeardley received a word of timely encouragement. He was anxious about their going into Bohemia, not having, as he thought, a sufficiently clear guidance to determine his course.
9 mo.19. -- A very acceptable visit from a worthy brother, Weiz. He introduced himself and commenced speaking on the guidance and consolations of the Holy Spirit, and spoke of his own experience as though he had known the thoughts of my heart. I have, said he, sometimes earnestly prayed to the Lord for direction what way to take, and have received no intimation; all has been dark within; I knew not whether to go right or left, and I have been compelled to go forward. I have then said, Lord, thou knowest my heart, be pleased to prosper my way; I leave the consequence to thee.
The conclusion to which they came in regard to Bohemia was, not to attempt the journey at that time, but to return to England for the winter, and leave the remoter districts of the circuit which they had in prospect till another year. They therefore returned by Heilbronn to Kreuznach, where they again found many opportunities of instructing and strengthening such as had made some progress in the Christian course.
26th. -- This evening had about a dozen serious persons to tea. After a long conversation, we read a chapter, and made some remarks: there was also a time of silence, with supplication.
10 mo.1. First-day. -- This afternoon we attended a meeting at Schwabenheim, a few miles from here. Notice had been given of our intention to be present, and the company was consequently larger than usual. They meet in an old convent, the other end of which forms the parish place of worship. After the singing and a short prayer, the good old A. Tiegel read a chapter in the New Testament, and was proceeding to make some remarks upon it, when I stopped him, feeling something on my mind to say to the people. I was led to recommend a patient waiting upon God for the renewed help of his Spirit, and also to speak on the progress of the Gospel Church from Isaiah ii.2, 3, &c. My M.Y. spoke a little in German on the |still small voice,| and the teaching of the Spirit. I did not in this instance feel quite easy to put aside the whole of their service. After meeting we had coffee with Tiegel, and took back in our carriage a few of our Kreuznach friends who had walked to the meeting.
4th. -- Yesterday evening we had a few friends with us two hours, by appointment, to speak concerning the rules, &c., of our Society. Many questions were asked, and a pretty detailed account given by us, as well as we were able. The company were all satisfied, and wished to come again.
6th. -- To-day we received a visit from a young English lady. She came to ask how we understood the passages in Paul's Epistles forbidding women to speak in the church. We soon gave her an answer, and handled the matter so fully that she was quieted down before she left, little thinking, as she acknowledged, that so much could be said in defence of the practice among Friends. She even said she thought it to be a general loss to the Christian Church that women are not permitted to take part in the ministry. She is a thorough Millenarian, and said the prophecy in Joel, that the Spirit should be poured out on all flesh, referred to the coming of Christ to reign on the earth, until I reminded her of what happened on the day of Pentecost, when Peter said expressly that it was the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. Two other ladies were with her. We parted friendly, and she thanked me for the information I had given her.
7th. -- Went to Treisen to a meeting. The little company meet only about eight persons usually, but we found about thirty assembled in a small room. I thought it one of the most lively meetings we have had. They wished me to conduct it in our own way. I told them we always commenced our worship by sitting in silence. They said, We will also sit still. I was favored with strength to speak to them of the pool of Bethesda, when the angel troubled the water, and on the nature and advantage of true silence before God. At the close, none seemed to wish to depart, but entered into serious conversation. I think I never saw more satisfaction exhibited at receiving books than on this occasion. After coffee, we returned to our lodgings with thankful hearts.
In the evening came three young women, with an elderly lady, the mother of one of them. We had much conversation, and a precious little meeting, which concluded with solemn supplication -- a nice finish to our sojourn in interesting Kreuznach.
Our friend Ott has accompanied us; he has been to us as eyes in the wilderness.
From Kreuznach they returned to Bonn, stopping at Darmstadt, Wiesbaden and Neuwied. John Yeardley had allowed some discouragement to enter his mind in regard to the meeting they had had the previous month at the Countess Stynum's. They found, however, on repeating their visit to this place, that the occasion in question had been one |of peculiar benefit and encouragement.| They renewed their religious intercourse with the Countess and her friends to their great refreshment and joy.
12th. -- The evening was spent with the Countess, in a quiet and more private interview than she had with us the last time, owing to so many strangers being present. After tea we had a long conversation on various religious subjects, particularly on some points relating to the principles of Friends, arising from what she had read in the books we left with her in our former visit. We were glad of an opportunity to answer her questions. A few of her private friends were present, much to our comfort. Before leaving, the forty-sixth Psalm was read, and we had a comforting time together: the Lord be praised! How sweet in him is the fellowship of the gospel!
Writing to Josiah Forster from Bonn, John Yeardley makes some general remarks on the religious state of Germany, as they had found it in their frequent intercourse with individuals of various character during this journey.
There is no doubt that there is in the German character generally a tendency to the visionary. We have found a few who hold doctrines on certain points, which it might do harm to publish; but we find or hear nothing of fanaticism now as formerly. Those who are spiritually-minded are more chastened, and more sound and scriptural in their views of religious truth; but not without exception.
A meeting at Muehlheim |not large, but a good time,| closed their religious service in this part of their long and arduous engagement.
They arrived in England on the 20th of the Tenth Month, |with peaceful feelings, and in gratitude to their Heavenly Father for all his mercies towards his unworthy servants;| but |mourning the loss of some beloved ones who had died in the Lord in their absence.|
After about five months passed in the quiet of home, they made preparation once more for accomplishing the work to which they had been called. The prospect of distant travel was discouraging, both on account of Martha Yeardley's weak health and of the state of the Continent; but, writes John Yeardley, |my mind is peaceful, and I have an abiding conviction that it is right to proceed, trusting in the Lord for light, strength and safety.|
On their way through Belgium, the same feeling was strongly impressed upon his mind.
1850.4 mo.7. -- In the train, soon after leaving Brussels, my spirit was melted under a feeling of the Lord's goodness. The object of our journey came weightily before me, and I considered we had left our home and every object most dear to our natural affections, with the sole view to serve our Lord and Master, and in the desire to use our feeble powers to draw souls to Him, that they might partake of spiritual communion with the Beloved of souls, through his grace. A degree of precious resignation followed; and, whatever may be the result as it regards ourselves, I believe it is the Lord's will for us thus to go forth, in his name; and should I or the precious partner of my bosom not be permitted again to see our native land, we shall be happy and at rest, through the mercy of that Saviour who gave his precious life for us.
On arriving at Berlin their first duty was to apply to the Russian ambassador for his signature to their passport, with permission to enter the Russian territory at Odessa. Their application met with an immediate and positive refusal, and the extinction of his hopes in this respect was to John Yeardley a grievous disappointment.
The next evening, after they had borne their burden all the day, dejected in spirit, and uncertain which way to turn, their hearts were lightened by a visit from August Beyerhaus, who at once attached himself to them and offered them help. He could indeed do nothing to facilitate their entrance into Russia, but he was the means of diverting their minds from the consideration of what had now become hopeless, and of opening to them, in Berlin, a door of usefulness. Through his introduction they became acquainted with several devoted Christians, some of them of wide reputation in the Church. These interviews, which were occasions of heartfelt spiritual communion, are thus noticed in the Diary: --
4 mo.22. -- Samuel Elsner is an aged warm-hearted Christian, full of faith and good works: he gave us important information, and will send me some names of pious persons in Silesia.
Pastor Gossner we found green in old age; seventy-five years of a variegated life have taught him many useful lessons. His refuge now is strong faith in the Saviour. He was at work in his arm-chair, and was much pleased to see us.
23rd. -- Pastor Knack, successor to Gossner, is a man of a lively spirit, to whom we at once felt united. He very liberally offered us the liberty of speaking to his flock (the Bohemian congregation in Berlin); and also invited us to visit the little company in the village where we propose going this evening.
At 3 o'clock we had a sweet interview with Professor Neander, an aged man of a striking figure and a Jewish countenance, pervaded by heavenly calmness, and illumined by the bright shades of gospel light. His eyes are become dim through excessive study; his heart is very large, full of love and hope in Jesus Christ. He seemed pleased to hear some account of the order of our Society, particularly with regard to the ministry and gospel missions, observing, |With you, then, there is liberty for all to speak when moved by the Holy Spirit, just as in the primitive church.| This observation led us to several points of our discipline, and he seemed delighted that a society existed whose practice, in many things, came so near to that of the primitive church. Before parting the spirit of supplication came over us, under which prayer was offered, particularly for this aged servant of the Lord. His disinterestedness is great. The king will sometimes give him money, that he may take relaxation in going to the baths, &c. But so susceptible is his heart for many who are necessitous, that he will often give to others all that he has received. The good king has then to repeat his gift, and send him away almost by force from his labors.
After these choice visits, John Yeardley says: --
24th. -- A ray of light and hope has broken in upon our gloomy path, -- not into Russia; there Satan is still permitted to hinder; but in this city.
They spent two days at Rixdorf, the village alluded to above, three miles from Berlin, where was a small congregation of Bohemian Brethren, who took refuge there in 1737. The women of the society held religious meetings by themselves twice a week. These meetings had been instituted many years before by Maria Liestig, to whom John and Martha Yeardley were introduced, and whom they found to be of a meek and intelligent spirit. She gave them a relation of her extraordinary conversion, which John Yeardley published in No.3 of his Series of Tracts, under the title of the Conversion of Mary Merry. They held a meeting in the village, in which they both had to |speak closely on the necessity of silence in worship.| They had also a small meeting at their hotel in Berlin, when |the gospel message flowed freely, in speaking of the spiritual dispensation in which we live, and the progress of light.|
On the 29th they left Berlin, and went to the beautiful watering-place of Warmbrunn, in Silesia. The dwellings of the laborers in Silesia struck them as being of a wretched description. |What they do.| says J.Y., |in a rigorous winter, like the last, I cannot tell; they appeared to be mostly. Roman Catholics.|
They resided a month at Warmbrunn. Some of the simple incidents which befel them there form the subjects of the following extracts: --
5 mo.10. -- Yesterday was a thorough rainy day; but in the afternoon, to our surprise, came in eight men together, who had heard of strangers having arrived in Warmbrunn to visit those who love the Saviour. We explained to them our religious principles; their countenances brightened when we spoke of the Spirit being poured out upon all -- sons and daughters. A sweet feeling was present with us, and supplication was offered under much solemnity.
11th. -- I have had a long conversation with C.W. Grossner, of Breslau, on the Supper, &c. We opened the Testament, and read the various passages, and I explained our views as well as I could. I think he is brought under serious thoughtfulness, and half convinced of our principles with regard to the rites, which he acknowledges are vain without the substance. |Religion with many, nowadays,| he observed, |is like a polished shell without kernel.|
13th. -- The Countess Schaffgotsch sent her butler with a message from the castle that she would be glad if we would call on her. She gave us a hearty reception, and thanked us for taking so much interest about the people. On our presenting her with some books; -- But I am a Catholic, she said. We told her that made no difference to us; we loved all who loved the Lord Jesus. She spoke very sweetly of the influence of the spirit.
14th. -- The Countess paid us a long visit, and spoke much of the Roman Catholic faith. She has no more faith in the efficacy of the prayers of the saints than I have, and said she had not prayed to them now for four years; their church only advises, not commands it.
16th. -- We went to dine with the Countess Reden and her sister, who live at the castle in Buchwald, one of the most lovely spots in the most lovely of countries. It is truly a peaceful abode, whose inmates fear their God, love their neighbor, and greatly esteem their king. We had been announced to the Countess from Berlin a week before; she and her amiable sister received us as a brother and sister beloved in the Lord. I never witnessed more intelligence combined with Christian politeness and real simplicity. The Countess is about seventy-six years of age; she is the president of the Bible Society, and the spiritual mother of all that is good in the neighborhood. She nursed the present king on her lap when he was a baby, and her great influence with him now she always turns to good account in serving benevolence and religion. Both she and her sister spoke with much affection of dear Elizabeth J. Fry, and her visit with Joseph John Gurney.
26th. -- Our last meeting, on First-day evening, consisted of all men, several of whom had come from Erdmannsdorf and the colonies of the Tyrolese. They seemed to appreciate the time of silence, and expressed much satisfaction with having made our acquaintance, and with the meeting.
On the 30th of the Fifth Month, J. and M. Y. quitted Warmbrunn and proceeded towards Bohemia.
We passed, says the former, through Hirschberg. Goldberg, Liegnitz, and to Dresden, Leipzig, and Halle, making acquaintance in all these places with serious persons, and, I hope, scattering here and there a little gospel seed; but truly we may say, It is sown in weakness. At Halle we were much gratified with our visit to Dr. Tholuck, but I think, not less so with his wife, a most lovely person, delighting to feel and to do good.
On arriving at Dresden, it became evident that Martha Yeardley, who had, suffered much for some time from an affection of the windpipe, required repose and medical care; and they concluded to rest awhile at the baths of Toeplitz. The illness of his wife, and some degree of bodily indisposition from which he himself suffered, did not prevent John Yeardley from employing the time in the diffusion of evangelical truth.
He had heard at Berlin that within a few months several hundred Bibles and Testaments had been sent into Bohemia, and had been eagerly bought there by awakened persons. He thought that if a translation could be made into the Bohemian language of some simple religious tracts, much good might be done by their dissemination; but he supposed that the intolerant laws of the Austrian Empire, which forbad all freedom of religious action, were still in full force. His account of his feelings and those of Martha Yeardley under the burden which this supposition imposed on them, and of the agreeable manner in which permission was unexpectedly granted them to print and circulate their little messengers of peace, must be given in his own words: --
Our hearts yearned towards the people, but we were afraid to give them tracts, which in other places had often been the means to conversation and to making acquaintance. This brought us low in mind; the body was already weak enough before. We thought it would not do to pass through the country in this state of depression, without trying to remove the cause. I went, therefore, the next morning to the head of the authorities, took with me one of our little tracts, mostly Scripture extracts, and asked whether I might be allowed to have the little book, or such as I then presented to him, printed for circulation. He received me politely, indeed kindly, and looked pleased with my tract, saying as be turned over its innocent little pages, Ah, nothing about politics; nothing against the religion of the country: it is very good, it is beautiful. You are quite at liberty to print and circulate such tracts as these. And when he found that the object was to do good to all, without cost to the receiver, he said, That is lovely. -- (Letter of 6 mo.23.)
The Bohemian translations were not made until J. and M. Y. went to Prague, which they did on the 22nd. Their feelings on entering this city, and the manner in which they were helped in their work of love, are described in the following diaries: --
6 mo. 23. -- Last evening we arrived at Prague. Our heart sunk on approaching this great city. The twenty-eight statues of saints, &c. on the bridge, with the many lamps devoted to these images, the crucifixes, &c., all indicated that superstition rages rampant.
We lost no time in sending to the Protestant pastors, one of whom kindly came to us in the evening, and we conversed till late. I showed him my little Spiritual Bread for Christian Workmen, with which he was much pleased. I told him I wanted it translated into the Bohemian language. This afternoon he paid us another visit, and brought his wife to see my M.Y. He produced the translation of the introduction to the little tract. We are to have 2000 printed. Most of the poor people read only the Bohemian language. I have promised to place 1000 at the disposal of the pastor; he is delighted with the opportunity of having anything of the kind printed in Prague.
Much, adds J.Y. in a letter, as I have suffered in the long prospect of a visit to this place, I feel a peculiar satisfaction that it has been deferred until there is liberty to print and circulate gospel tracts. Small as such a privilege may appear, until very recently such distribution of books would have been visited with a very inconvenient imprisonment on the individual transgressing the law. -- (6 mo.23.)
24th. -- I gave Pastor Bennisch for perusal, and choice for translation, William. Allen's Thoughts on the Importance of Religion, and our tracts on the Fall, Regeneration and Redemption, True Faith, and the Voice of Conscience. There is a great movement among the Catholics; they have need to be instructed in the first principles of Christianity, and it is very important that the doctrine of faith in Christ should be combined with that of the practical working of the Spirit as set forth in many of our tracts. On this account, I am glad they are likely to take precedence of others in their circulation; for I do not hear that any tracts decidedly religious have yet been printed in Prague.
During their stay in the city, and after they left, there were printed 12,000 copies of the tracts in Bohemian, and 1000 in German.
At Toeplitz, which they revisited before leaving Bohemia, occurred the interesting incident of the Bohemian soldier, which is related under that title in John Yeardley's series of tracts, No.4.
When they finally quitted the country, they took the nearest road to Kreuznach. On the way, they distributed tracts in the villages, at one of which, where they were detained for want of horses, the inhabitants flocked so eagerly to them to receive these little messengers, that they had difficulty in satisfying them. Notwithstanding this circumstance, the reflection with which John Yeardley concludes his account of their travels in Bohemia was, |It will require a power more than human to make the dry bones of Bohemia live.|
They spent three weeks at Kreuznach, confirming the faith of the brethren, and printing German translations of several tracts. In passing through Neuwied, they intended only to spend the night there; but hearing that much inquiry after the way of salvation had recently manifested itself in the villages around, they decided, after the horses had been ordered for departure, to remain and visit one of these villages. A meeting was called, and so many attended that the room could not contain them all. It was a good season; De Freis, the friend who had made them acquainted with the religious condition of the place, accompanied them as guide, and was a true helper in the work. He had been twenty years missionary in Greenland and South Africa.
They returned home, both of them worn with travelling, and Martha Yeardley exhausted with disease, which was making sure progress in her debilitated frame; but they were supported by the peaceful consciousness of having accomplished all the service to which they had been called to labor in common.