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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : JUSTUS FALCKNER.

American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente

JUSTUS FALCKNER.

19. Fabricius, Arensius, Falckner in New York. -- In 1669, five years after the fall of New Amsterdam, Magister Jacobus Fabricius was sent over by the Lutheran Consistory of Amsterdam to minister to the Lutherans in New York and Albany. Being of a churlish and quarrelsome nature, he soon fell out with the authorities of Albany and was banished from the town. The New York congregation was torn by factions, many demanding the resignation of Fabricius on the ground of |deportment unbecoming a pastor.| The matter was even carried before the governor. A solution of the problem was brought about through the arrival of a new pastor from Holland in the person of Bernhardus Arensius (Arnzius). Fabricius obtained permission to install Arensius as his successor, and went to Delaware, where he labored among the Dutch and Swedish Lutherans. Arensius continued to serve the Lutherans in New York and Albany from 1671 to 1691. The mildness and firmness which he displayed in trying circumstances repaired the harm done by Fabricius. Dr. Graebner says: |In Pastor Arnzius the Dutch Lutheran congregations on the Hudson had an excellent preacher and pastor, a man of whom they had no cause whatever to be ashamed. Above all he was a sound Lutheran, whose opposition to any and all church-fellowship with the Reformed was so decided that he abstained even from cultivating social intercourse with the pastor of the Dutch Reformed Church, although it would seem that the existing conditions called for it.| (70.) After the death of Pastor Arensius, in 1691, a long vacancy ensued, lasting till 1702, when Pastor Rudman, a Swede from Philadelphia, acceding to their repeated requests, took charge of the congregation in New York. But finding himself unequal to the task of regulating their deranged affairs, he resigned in 1703. Rudman was succeeded by Justus Falckner, who was ordained November 25, 1703, in the Swedish Gloria Dei Church of Wicaco, by Rudman, Bjoerk, and Sandel, the first Lutheran ordination in America. The new pastor, who arrived in New York on December 2, 1703, proved to be a true Lutheran, a faithful shepherd of the flock committed to his care, among which he labored with much blessing for a period of twenty years. Graebner says: |It is a most pleasing, captivating figure that we behold in Pastor Justus Falckner during the twenty years of his activity, a man of excellent parts, of splendid knowledge, of a delicate disposition, of a truly pious frame of mind, of a decidedly Lutheran standpoint, of active and enduring diligence in his office, in short, an all-round pastor. He had assumed the duties of his office with the consciousness that he was able to accomplish nothing without the gracious assistance of God; that God would grant him sufficiency was the fervent prayer of his heart.| (94.) Justus Falckner, born November 22, 1672, was the fourth son of Daniel Falckner, Lutheran pastor at Langenreinsdorf, Crimmitschau, and Zwickau, Saxony. He entered the University of Halle, January 20, 1693, and studied theology under A. H. Francke. He completed his course, but shrank from assuming the tremendous responsibility of the ministry. On April 23, 1700, he acquired the power of attorney for the sale of William Penn's lands in Pennsylvania, and left with his older brother, Daniel, for America. In 1701 ten thousand acres of Penn's lands were sold to Provost Rudman and other Swedes. Probably this transaction brought Rudman into closer contact with J. Falckner, who also had attended the Swedish church in Philadelphia. The result was that Falckner was ordained and placed in charge of the congregations in New York and Albany. While a student at Halle, Falckner wrote the hymn: |Auf! ihr Christen, Christi Glieder -- Rise, Ye Children of Salvation.| (Dict. of Hymnology, 363.)

20. Falckner's Spirituality. -- Falckner was of a spiritual and truly pastoral frame of mind. He was a faithful and humble shepherd, who loved the flock entrusted to him with all his heart. |God, the Father of all goodness and Lord of great majesty, who hast thrust me into this harvest, be with me, Thy humble and very weak laborer, with Thy special grace, without which I must needs perish under the burden of temptations which frequently descend upon me with violence. In Thee, Lord, have I put my trust, let me not be confounded! Render me sufficient for my calling. I have not run, but Thou hast sent, hast thrust me into this office. Meanwhile forgive whatever, without my knowledge, my evil nature may add; pardon me, who am humbly crying unto Thee, through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.| Such was the prayer with which, in classic Latin, Falckner prefaced his entries in the church register. Following are some of the prayers which he appended to his entries of baptisms: |O Lord, Lord, may this child, together with the three aforementioned Hackensack children, be and remain recorded in the Book of Life, through Jesus Christ. Amen.| |God grant that also this child be and remain embraced in Thy eternal grace and favor through Jesus Christ. Amen.| |O Lord, may this child be commended unto Thee for its temporal and eternal welfare, through Jesus Christ. Amen.| |May this child also, O Lord God, be and remain an heiress of Thy Kingdom of Grace and of the glory which Christ has obtained for us. Amen.| |God grant that this child may overcome Satan, the world, and its own corrupted nature, and with Christ reign and triumph eternally for Christ's sake. Amen.| |Lord Jesus, grant that this child may taste and enjoy Thy sweet love and grace in time and eternity.| In 1704 Falckner baptized in his congregation at New York |Maria, the daughter of Are of Guinea, a negro, and his wife Jora, both Christians of our congregation.| To the record of this baptism he added the prayer: |Lord, merciful God, who regardest not the person of men, but in every nation, he that feareth Thee and doeth right is accepted before Thee: let this child be clothed with the white garment of innocence and righteousness, and so remain, through Christ, the Redeemer and Savior of all men. Amen.| In later years, Falckner, after recording the baptisms of an entire year, would add a prayer like the following: |Lord, Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquities and transgressions and sin: do not let one of the names above written be blotted out of Thy Book, but let them be written and remain therein, through Jesus Christ, Thy dear Son. Amen.| One of the intercessions recorded with the entries of confirmations reads as follows: |Lord Jesus Christ, should Satan seek to sift as wheat one or the other of these members of Thy congregation, then do Thou pray for them to Thy heavenly Father that their faith may not cease, for the sake of Thy holy merit. Amen.| Marriages are recorded with prayers like the following: |Grant, Lord God, that also this union may redound to the honor of Thy holy name, to the promotion of Thy kingdom, and to the temporal and eternal blessing of those united, through Jesus Christ. Amen.| Graebner remarks: |What a gifted and sincerely pious pastoral frame of mind appears in the entries of the noble man, whom God, in wonderful ways, led from far-away Saxony to New York and here made a shepherd and teacher of the Dutch Lutherans!| (94 ff.)

21. Distinctive Doctrines Stressed. -- Tender love for his flock did not silence Falckner's confessional Lutheranism, nor did it induce him to keep doctrinal differences in the background. He was no unionist. On the contrary, in order to protect the souls committed to his care from the Reformed errors with which they came into contact everywhere, and to enable them to confess and defend the Lutheran truth efficiently, he emphasized and preached also the distinctive doctrines of the Lutheran Church. Naturally, his congregation was imbued with the same spirit of sound and determined Lutheranism. |The straitened circumstances of our Dutch Lutherans,| says Graebner, |might have suggested to their flesh to seek a better understanding with the Dutch and English Reformed of the city, and to sacrifice some of their Lutheranism, in order to win the friendship as well as the support of these people. Indeed, we hear that these Lutherans manfully confessed their Lutheran faith whenever they came in contact with their Reformed compatriots. And Pastor Falckner was repeatedly urged by members of his congregation to compile a booklet for his parishioners in which the chief doctrines, especially the distinctive doctrines concerning which they were often called upon to make confession, would be briefly set forth, together with the necessary proof-passages. Falckner acceded to these requests. In 1708 he published a book entitled 'Thorough Instruction (Grondlycke Onderricht) concerning Certain Chief Articles of the True, Pure, Saving, Christian Doctrine, Based upon the Foundation of the Prophets and Apostles, Jesus Christ Himself Being the Chief Corner-stone.'| It was the first book to appear from the pen of a Lutheran pastor in America, and till the awakening of Confessional Lutheranism the only uncompromising presentation of Lutheran doctrine. V. E. Loescher praised it as being an |Anti-Calvinistic Compend of Doctrine, Compendium Doctrinae Anti-Calvinianum.| The chapter on the |Freedom of the Will,| which is embodied in Graebner's History of the Lutheran Church in America, bespeaks theological acumen and clarity on the part of the author. In simple catechetical form, together with most appropriate Bible-passages, Falckner presents the following truths: Having lost the divine image, man, by his own natural free will, can neither understand, will, nor do that which is spiritually right, good, and pleasing to God. Man is converted to God and to all that is |thoroughly good| only by the grace and power of God. It is God's pleasure to work in every man in order that he may will and do that which is good. The reason why this is not accomplished in all men is, because many wilfully resist the work of God's grace, despise the means of conversion, and thus, by their own stubborn and evil wills, frustrate the good and gracious will of God. Man has a free will; for he does the evil and rejects the good freely and without constraint, without any compulsion on the part of God. Furthermore, in external matters, which reason comprehends, man also has a free will, in a measure. The will of a regenerate Christian is set free, inasmuch as he is able to will that which is pleasing to God, by faith in Jesus Christ, although, in this world, he is not able perfectly to do that which is good. Falckner says: |I conceive this doctrine of free will as follows: All the good which I will and do I ascribe to the grace of God in Christ and to the working of His good Spirit within me, render thanks to Him for it, and watch that I may traffic with the pound of grace, Luke 19, which I have received, in order that more may be given unto me, and that I may receive grace for grace out of the fulness of grace in Jesus Christ. John 1, 16. On the contrary, all the evil which I will and do I ascribe to my own evil will alone, which maliciously deviates from God and His gracious will, and becomes one with the will of the devil, the world, and sinful flesh. And I am persuaded that if only my own will does not dishonestly, wilfully, and stubbornly resist the converting gracious will of God, He, by His Spirit, will bend and turn it toward that which is good, and, for the sake of Christ's perfect obedience, will not regard, nor impute unto me, the obstinacy cleaving to me by nature.| In the introduction of the book, which was written in the Dutch language, Falckner unequivocally professes adherence to the Symbols of the Lutheran Church, the confession of his fathers, |which confession and faith,| he says, |by the grace of God and the convincing testimony of His Word and Spirit, also dwell in me, and shall continue to dwell in me until my last, blessed end.| (91 ff.)

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