Count Zinzendorf

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ZINZENDORF'S full name or title was Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf —quite long enough, you will agree, like some of his hymns, one of which, "Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness," had originally thirty stanzas! The list of hymns written by him also is long—more than two thousand, it is said.
Zinzendorf came of an ancient family of Lower Austria. He was born at Dresden, May 26, 1700. He received his early education at Halle, under the pietist Francke, founder of the celebrated orphan school, and from whom Zinzendorf received deep spiritual impressions. Later he was sent to Wittenberg to study law and prepare himself for a diplomatic career. After this he was sent to travel through France, Holland, and various parts of Germany, where he sought the acquaintance of the most godly men.
On his return he decided to settle down among the peasantry, to promote among them the true knowledge of God and of Christ. With this purpose in view he purchased Berthelsdorf from his grandmother. Then he married and began living on his estate as a Christian landowner in the midst of his tenantry. The settlement rapidly increased, and received the name of Herrnhut.
God blessed his efforts to advance the kingdom of God in the world, and those who became associated with him were known as the Moravian Brethren. They interested themselves chiefly in missions, and from Herrnhut, their center, colonies were sent out to the West Indies (in 1732); to Greenland (1733); among North American Indians (1735). Zinzendorf visited most of these places himself and labored among them for a time. Before Zinzendorf's death (in 1760) these brethren had missions established in Livonia, and on the northern shores of the Baltic; among the negro slaves in North Carolina; in Dutch Guiana; among the slaves in various parts of South America; among the Copts in Egypt, and among negroes on the West Coast of Africa.
From his childhood Zinzendorf appears to have shown zeal for the salvation of souls, for, when quite young, he used to gather children about him to pray with and speak to them. Referring to these youthful efforts, he says, "The desire to bring souls to Jesus took possession of me, and my heart became fixed on the Lamb.”
He was not always allowed to carry on his work in peace, however, for in 1727 he was forbidden by the authorities to preach or hold religious meetings in Dresden.
A great sorrow came into Count Zinzendorf's life in the year 1752, when he lost his only son, whom he had named Christian Renatus. He had hoped that this son would take up the work of the Lord with him, and his removal by death was a severe blow, and three years later God took his wife. Thus he had 6 sorrow upon sorrow; but he was enabled by grace to say, "Not my will, but Thine be done." "Mine own will is hell to me," was a saying of his. And so it will be with all who, to do their own will, refuse to submit to God's. And what is the will of God for us? Hear it from His word: "This is His commandment, That we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another," and again: "God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent, because He hath appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness" (1 John 3:2323And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. (1 John 3:23); Acts 17:3030And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: (Acts 17:30)).
It must have been an easy task for Zinzendorf to compose hymns; for he says, speaking of his ministrations in Berlin: "After the discourse, I generally announce another hymn appropriate to the subject. When I cannot find one, I compose one; I say in my Savior's name what comes into my heart.”
In January, 1737, Zinzendorf made his memorable visit to London, where the Wesleys were brought under his influence; the two brothers, with their adherents, were for a time in association with the Moravians as a result of his visit, but doctrinal differences arising among them they separated, and Zinzendorf the same year returned to Berlin.
He visited the American Colonies in 1741, preaching in Philadelphia, and to the Indians through an interpreter. An old writer speaking of this time says, "He soon, with his daughter Benigna, and several brothers and sisters, visited several Indian tribes. At Shekomec he established the first Moravian settlement in North America (1742). In 1743 he returned to Europe, and died in Herrnhut in 1760.”
With all his gifts, and graces, his great wealth and high station in life, Zinzendorf was a very meek and humble man. He said of himself, "I am as ever, a poor sinner, a captive of eternal love, running by the side of the triumphal chariot, and have no desire to be anything else as long as I live.”
He said to his son-in-law, as he lay dying, "Now, my dear son, I am going to the Savior. I am ready; I am quite resigned to the will of my Lord. If He is no longer willing to make use of me here I am quite ready to go to Him." About a hundred members of the community were assembled in and about his bed-chamber to watch the departure of God's dying servant to whom they owed so much. He looked on them tenderly and with cheerfulness, speaking words of encouragement and consolation to all; and just as his son-in-law, in his prayer, closed with the words, "Lord, Thou lettest Thy servant depart in peace," he ceased to breathe. That blessed word "peace" was the punctuation of his earthly life, so full of faith and good works.
He died on the 9th day of May, in his sixtieth year. His coffin,"the chronicler says, was carried to the grave by thirty-two preachers and missionaries, whom he had reared, and some of whom had toiled in Holland, England, Ireland, North America, and Greenland. What monarch was ever honored by a funeral like this." Yes, what monarch! He honored God in his life and God gave him such honor at his burial as few are privileged to receive. But to serve the Lord as he did is open to all who know and love Him; so may we do it with diligence, for He is worthy, blessed Savior and Lord! Amen!
Martyr-Faith—by Count Zinzendorf
Written after he had been forbidden to speak in the name of Christ at Dresden
Glory to God, whose witness train,
Those heroes bold in faith,
Could smile on poverty and pain,
And triumph ev'n in death.
Oh, may that faith our hearts sustain,
Wherein they fearless stood,
When, in the power of cruel men
They poured their willing blood.
God whom we serve, our God, can save,
Can damp the scorching flame,
Could build an ark, can smooth the wave,
For such as love His name.
Lord, if Thine arm support us still
With its eternal strength,
We shall o'ercome the mightiest ill,
And conquerors prove at length.