Samuel Francis Smith, (geb. Boston 21.10.1808, gest. Newton (bei Boston) 16.11.1895), Herausgeber von „The Christian Review”, rezensierte im Juni 1844 Jung-Stillings Werke. – Die vielen hier nur angedeuteten Rezensionen sind (nebst anderen) bekannt.
(Die eckigen Klammern finden sich im Original. )
LIFE OF STILLING.
BY THE EDITOR.
Heinrich Stilling's Lebensgeschichte (Johann Heinrich Jung's [gennant Stilling] sammtliche Werke.) Stutgart. [sic] 1841.
The Autobiography of Heinrich Stilling, late Aulic Counsellor to the Duke of Baden, etc. Translated from the German, by S. Jackson. Second edition. London. 1843.
It is rare that a work is received with such unqualified applause, as the Autobiography of Henry Stilling. The English magazines are enthusiastic in its praise. The Evangelical Magazine says: – "It is, indeed, a remarkable production; incident and dialogue are wrought up together, in a manner strongly resembling the composition of romance; yet, we cannot doubt the truth of the narrative. The story is simple as the Pilgrim's Progress, and fascinating as Robinson Crusoe.“The Metropolitan says: – "The first part of the book is exquisitely pastoral; and the beautiful simplicity of nature was never made to appear more beautiful, than it does in the unsophisticated characters of the Stilling family. From his youth upwards, Heinrich seems to have been marked by the hand of God as one chosen to vindicate his ways, and to show how a true Christian could bear up against all evils, pass, unscathed, through all trials, and meet, with pious resignation, all tribulations. It is a book for the serious, and to make the thoughtless become so.“In the Encyclopaedia Americana, under the article Jung (the real name of Stilling), we find it said of this Autobiography: – "His celebrated work is incomparable. He relates, with modesty and simplicity, the way in which his life was passed among the classes of people, less favored by extensive gifts of fortune, and his pious and pure heart discloses itself so unaffectedly and involuntarily, and the style is, at the same time, so excellent, that the work is one of the most popular among the German classics.“In respect to the translation, the Rev. Dr. Belcher rightly remarks, "The translator has admirably made his author think in English.“We have learned that two houses in America, one in Boston, and the other in New York, commenced the re-publication of the work simultaneously, ignorant of each other's intentions. On mutual consultation, the Boston house retired from the project, and the Harpers, at New York, are now stereotyping it. It is not surprising that we sat down, with elevated expectations, to the reading of a book so highly commended. Our expectations have been fulfilled. The beautiful character, the amiable spirit, the heavy trials, the Christian resignation, the sublime faith of Stilling, have wrought powerfully with us in his favor. The narrative is clothed with touching simplicity and evident truthfulness; and we have been interested in his fates, as if they were our own. It is rare that, in reading a biographical work, we feel such sincere sympathy with the character described. The author carries us captive, whether we will or no. In the few hours during which the book has occupied us, we have felt ourselves young with him in the village of Rosenburg, among the towering forests of the Giller, and in the green fields of Tiefenbach; we have shared his bitter trials and disappointments, opening our hearts to suffer with his; and we have stood, in spirit, by the bedside of the dying old man, anxious to receive, with his children, his parting benediction. We feel that we have lost an excellent friend; we are ready to bedew with fresh tears the green turf that covers his sepulchre; while we feel that a new tie of fellowship binds us to the glorious company of apostles, martyrs and saints, before the throne in heaven.
A few paragraphs and sentences we should wish to see omitted in the American edition. Some single words, also, might be advantageously changed, or the expression so far varied, as to cover that which it is not essential for the young and inexperienced reader to know, and the insertion of which is not necessary to the completeness of the story. The things referred to were written by the author, in the innocence of a pure heart, and we can overlook them; but if they can be spared, we are willing, for the sake of the multitude of readers, of all ages and of both sexes, to do without them. Of this class, is a narration on pages 47 and 48 of the copy before us. Examples of the objectionable words to which we have referred, occur, from time to time, throughout the book; but we cannot easily point them out, without repeating them, from which, we trust, we shall be excused. That may not seem indelicate for a German or a French audience, which our own scruples would suppress. Some of the episodes, drawn from the old romance, could be well dispensed with. On the last page of the work, in the description of the private administration of the Lord's Supper, just before Stilling's death, we observe that which seems like a recognition of the erroneous doctrine' of the final salvation of all men: – "This is the cup of the new covenant in his blood, which was shed for you, and for many, and, in the end, for all, for the forgiveness of sins.“This statement of the theological creed of Stilling, on a controverted point, seems to us unnecessary to be retained in the translation. If the unscriptural clause in the sentence were omitted, no wrong would be done to Stilling, and none, we are sure, to truth; while its appearance might serve as a casual prop to error, or, at least, a suggestion of it, which we should prefer not to afford. It is the only case we have noticed, in which, the religious views stated are not eminently elevated, pure and scriptural.
The volume will furnish to the Christian reader a striking example of the methods of Divine Providence. The author himself, says, p. 115, "I am not writing Stilling's whole life and conduct, but the history of Providence in its guidance of him.“This plan of the writer throws over the book a religious air. It leads him to speak of prayer offered and answered, of God as the hearer of prayer, and of the Christian's joy in coming to a throne of grace. The reader finds himself sometimes borne onward by a resistless impulse, and looking in breathless and almost painful anticipation, not knowing from what quarter succor can arise; when, suddenly, in some most unexpected manner, God appears for the help of his suffering servant. It is often as if a sun broke forth at midnight, to guide the bewildered traveller; or, as when vegetation is ready to be consumed, and the hopes of the husbandman are cut off by parching drought, the burning heavens, in the moment of despair, become darkened with clouds, and life springs out of death, under the refreshing rain. Some of these remarkable instances of divine interposition we shall take pleasure in exhibiting. They are honorary to him who hears the young ravens when they cry, and not a sparrow falls to the ground without his notice.
The real name of Heinrich Stilling was Johann Heinrich Jung. He was born at Nassau, A. D. 1740. His grandfather, Eberhard Stilling, was a peasant and a burner of charcoal. During the whole summer, he commonly remained in the woods, returning only on Saturday, to look after his family, furnish himself with provisions, and attend worship on the Sabbath. He was an officer in the church, and a man of ardent and unaffected piety. The simple manners of the valley of Tiefenbach, in which he dwelt, and the rustic simplicity of his own life, carry us back to the pastoral tales of our youth. The whole imagery of rural pleasures, the grand and the calm scenes of nature, the labors of the field, the pious song at evening, the devout acknowledgment of dependence upon God, freedom from the din of worldly care and the bustle of political strife, the vine-clad wall, the green bower, the rude bench before the door, the homely porringer, with coarse bread and milk, – these meet us continually in the story of Eberhard Stilling. Eberhard was the father of six children, of whom two were sons, Johann and Wilhelm. Wilhelm, at the age of twenty-three, was married to the daughter of a neighboring clergyman. But Wilhelm was lame, so that he could not obtain a livelihood by the labors of the field; and the father of Doris, being aged, and in extreme poverty, she brought with her no dowry but her love. Wilhelm, at the time of his marriage, filled the double office of tailor and village-schoolmaster. They lived a most loving and simple life. Heinrich Stilling was their only child. But after two or three years, Doris died, leaving Wilhelm almost inconsolable. After he was restored to a degree of composure, he retired to an upper room of the house with his little Heinrich, two or three books of devotion, a few ells of cloth, and the implements of his profession. And here, for many years, he devoted himself chiefly to the education of his boy, and the duties of piety. Heinrich was brought up with the utmost strictness. Every act of disobedience was visited with severe punishment. He was permitted to go abroad into the open air for an hour or two in the afternoon, but his circuit was confined to a given district, where his father could keep his eye constantly upon him; and when the time had expired, or any one of the neighbors' children approached, even at a distance, Wilhelm whistled, and, on this signal, Heinrich was in a moment again with his father. He was kept so secluded, that, in his seventh year, he knew none of the neighbors' children, though "he was well acquainted with a whole row of fine books.“Some of these books were of a religious character, and others were secular. But his solitary life produced a peculiar cast of mind, unlike that of other children. He lived in an ideal world, and formed his standards of life from the books with which he was familiar. As he was continually hearing of God, and pious men, „the first thing he inquired after, when he had heard or read of any one, had reference to his sentiments towards God and Christ.“ Once, at the age of eight years, when some one thoughtlessly uttered an irreverent expression, savoring of profaneness, in his presence, he jumped up and looked timidly around him, and at length exclaimed, "O God, how gracious art thou;“ meaning, because he did not immediately visit the crime with his vengeance; and afterwards, he administered to the guilty person a modest rebuke. At the age of eight or nine years, Wilhelm began to make his son a confidant, conversed freely with him of his deceased mother, and was rejoiced to find her traits of character living in him anew. He now carried him, for the first time, to church. He was astonished at every thing he saw. Every soft harmony on the organ melted him. „The minor key caused his tears to flow, and the rapid allegro made him spring up."
At this period, Wilhelm's mind became more composed. His religious sentiments no longer prevented him from going into society; and his gentle gravity and pure and simple piety produced a powerful influence on all that saw him. Heinrich was the hope and joy of his family, and not unnoticed by those who came into the house. The parish priest, Mr. Stollbein, a unique and most entertaining character, an odd composition of bitterness and benevolence, observed the hopeful child; and, in visiting his father, on a certain occasion, proposed that he should learn Latin. He had it in view, at a future time, to secure the services of so promising a scholar, as the master of the village school. The proposal, after due consideration, was carried into effect, greatly to the gratification of Heinrich. It was exactly to his taste. The tasks were easy to him, and he still found opportunity to feast himself with reading. In order to gain time for this employment, when the season drew near for him to relinquish his Latin studies, he earnestly desired to be a schoolmaster. He had little taste for his father's trade. Stollbein proposed that he should proceed to the university, and even promised to procure supplies; but this undertaking was too great to be surmounted; and Wilhelm began to introduce his son into the mysteries of his art. Heinrich submitted to his fate as well as he could, and made his life tolerable by the study of mathematics and ancient history, and the reading of tales of romance.
„It was curious to see how he had garnished the corner in which he sat at his needle, according to his own fancy. The window-panes were full of sun-dials. Inside, before the window, there stood a square block, in the shape of a die, covered with paper, all the five sides of which were adorned with sun-dials, the hands of which were broken needles. On the ceiling above, there was likewise a sun-dial, on which light was cast by a piece of looking-glass in the window; and an astronomical ring, made of whalebone, hung by a thread before the window; this latter served in the place of a watch when he went out. All these dials were not only correctly and properly drawn, but he, also, even then, understood common geometry, together with writing and arithmetic thoroughly, although he was only a boy of twelve years of age, and an apprentice to the trade of a tailor."
At the age of fourteen years and a half, young Stilling was confirmed, and immediately after appointed master of the school at Zellberg. His mode of instruction was to encourage his scholars to their necessary tasks, by the promise of some pleasing narrative, which was withholden from them, if at any time they were deficient. He thus won their warmest affections, and secured their highest improvement, without severity. He taught them in the catechism, reading, writing, and arithmetic, and the eldest boys, in geometry. Mr. Stollbein was offended, on his first visitation, at finding slates in the school, seeing he had not enjoined arithmetic as one of the regular studies, and poor Stilling was obliged to order the slates to be removed. The peasants, however, interposed, and Stilling, on their authority, extended the course of instruction more than ever. His supervisor, however, was inexorable; and learning, probably, the course Stilling pursued, Stollbein required that he should vacate his office. „The Sunday afternoon before Martinmas, the good schoolmaster put his few clothes and books into a bag, hung it on his shoulder, and, leaving Zell- berg, ascended the Heights. His scholars followed him in troops, weeping. He himself shed floods of tears, and bewailed the sweet season he had spent at Zellberg.“ The next Monday, his father placed him again in his old corner, at the needle; and he was obliged to solace himself, with repairing, at his leisure, his dilapidated sun-dials, and relating to his old grandmother, the wonderful things he had read in a German version of the Iliad, which he accidentally found at the forester's, with whom he had boarded.
His next attempt at school-keeping, was made at Dorlingen. The scholars were a rude and clownish company, brought up in familiarity with whatever was obscene, vulgar and profane. The parents seemed to join with their children in every possible effort to make the schoolmaster's position uncomfortable. Stilling found, therefore, here no sympathy or pleasure. And glad was he, when the time of his engagement expired, and he was permitted to escape to the simplicity, purity and truth of his native valley.
During this time, his father had contracted a second marriage, and removed to Leindorf, where Heinrich was again called to the office of teacher. Before and after school, his father expected him to labor at his trade; but he contrived, by taking his books with him to school, and stealing time from his official duties, to continue his progress in mathematics and history. But his labors, as a teacher, did not prove satisfactory. One complained of his reading for his own profit, to the neglect of his scholars. Another was offended by the strange figures of Selling's sun-dials and mathematical diagrams, in the windows, and upon the walls. And a third, not comprehending the methods by which he endeavored to stimulate the ambition, and promote the more rapid improvement of his scholars, sought to excite the hostility of the peasants and superintendents against him. Thus, his attempts at school-keeping successively proved unfortunate; and his literary soarings brought him back perpetually to the humble labors of the tailor's shop.
After two or three more efforts, Stilling became completely disheartened. His prospects, however bright they were at their opening, were uniformly overclouded. The rainbow vanished as he approached. The gilded pageant of prosperity was dim and dark, when he drew near it. He found no sympathy in his father's house, and few to understand his feelings abroad. God showed him the vanity of earthly hopes; and, by successive disappointments, prepared the soil of his heart for the operation of divine grace upon it. In this state, on the twelfth of April, 1762, having packed up his few ragged clothes, and with something more than four rix dollars in his pocket, he left his native province, and pursued his path, like Abraham, "not knowing whither he went.“ After three days, he found a situation as a journeyman tailor, with a person who was, at that time, in great want of his services. On the Sabbath, he uniformly attended church. He gained the affection and respect of the family of his master, and the esteem of all who frequented his place of business. In a mysterious manner, too, he was led to those religious experiences, which gave a character to all his future life.
"He was passing, one Sunday afternoon, through a street in the town of Schauberg. The sun shone pleasantly, and the sky was partially covered with light clouds. He was neither meditating deeply, nor had he any thing else of a particular nature in his thoughts. He accidentally looked upwards; and with this look, an unknown power penetrated his soul. He felt inwardly happy; his whole body trembled, and he could scarcely keep himself from sinking to the ground. From that time, he felt an invincible inclination to live and die entirely for the glory of God, and the good of his fellow-men. His love to the Father of men, and to the divine Redeemer, as well as to all men, was, at that moment, so great, that he would gladly have sacrificed his life, had it been required. He felt, at the same time, an irresistible impulse, to watch over his thoughts, words and works, that they might all be useful, agreeable and acceptable to God. He made, upon the spot, a firm and irrevocable covenant with God, to resign himself, henceforth, entirely to his guidance, and cherish no more vain wishes; but, that if it should please God that he should continue a tradesman all his life long, he would willingly and joyfully assent to it.
"He, therefore, turned about and went home, and told no one of this circumstance, but continued as before, except that he spoke less, and more cautiously, which made him still more beloved."
These experiences will be easily enough understood by every Christian mind. Taken in connection with his remaining life, there can be no doubt that Stilling was then led to exercise the grace of evangelical faith. He had made an advance in spiritual attainments. God was preparing »im for future trials, and girding him with divine strength, that he might be victorious in the hour of temptation. After this, his conscience was exceedingly tender. He was very scrupulous in watching over his motives of action. He shrunk from the contact of wrong, as with instinctive abhorrence; and he exercised the most simple, childlike and entire confidence in the character and the promises of God.
A few weeks after this change in his mind, he left his manual occupation, and became private tutor in a family more distinguished by wealth and fashion, than by a desire to diffuse happiness among the poor and the sorrowful. Stilling learned here many of the proprieties of respectable society, at which he inwardly rejoiced; but his situation was rendered extremely uncomfortable, and, after several weeks, he resolved to change again his occupation. It was not his calling to teach, and he rarely had any protracted success in it. He sighed for kindred hearts; he needed the consolations of Christian communion; and no situation now suited him, in which he was deprived of this privilege. Again he went out, like the father of the faithful, uncertain what evils might await him, or in what occupation he should engage. After having proceeded awhile, he found himself in a wood; the traces of the road had disappeared. He was hungry and in a wilderness, and did not know a single individual, far and wide, with whom he was acquainted. Without money, without introductions, without food, fatigued and sorrowful, he sat down to reflect upon his situation.
„He now began to say to himself, ' I have, at length, ascended the highest summit of abandonment; nothing more is left me, but to beg or die. This is the first day in my life, in which 1 know of no dinner provided for me. Yes, the hour is come, when that great promise of the Redeemer is put to the highest test, as it respects me. Not a halt of your head shall perish! If this be true, I must have immediate aid; for to this moment I have trusted in him, and believed his word. I belong to those, whose eyes wait upon the Lord, that he may give them their meat in due season, and satisfy them with his good pleasure. I am his creature, at least, as much as any bird that sings in the trees, and always finds its food when it requires it.' Stilling's heart, at these words, was in a state similar to that of a child, when, by severe correction, it melts, at length, like wax, and the father turns away to hide his tears. O God, what moments are these, when it is manifest how the bowels of the Father of men yearn over them, and when, from compassion, he can no longer restrain himself."
With these thoughts, the mind of Stilling was suddenly composed. He rose up to go into the town; and, finding his scissors and thimble in his pocket, he inquired of the first person he met, where the best master tailor in the town lived.
A child was sent to show him; and he soon found that the man to whose house he was brought was very desirous of the aid of a journeyman. As Stilling entered the parlor, he saw the woman spreading the cloth, in order to dine with her children. And here a dinner had been prepared for him, "while he was wandering in the wood, and reflecting whether God would that day grant him his necessary food or not.“ Here he found, not occupation only, but the fellowship of Christian hearts. On the afternoon of that very day, as he was at work with his needle, it so happened that his employer and the person at whose house they were laboring fell into conversation on some point of practical theology. Stilling, who sat behind a table, when he could no longer restrain himself, began to weep aloud, and exclaimed, „O God, I am at home, I am at home !“When he was asked, what was the matter, he replied, „It is long since 1 have heard this language; and as I now see that you are people who love God, I was unable to contain myself for joy.“ In this family, he lived with the greatest pleasure. He was now brought into association with those whose piety was of a kindred character with his own. They sought simply to exercise love to God and man, and to imitate Christ, their head, in their walk and conversation. And, as this coincided with Stilling's own religious system, he easily harmonized in their views. Drinking into the same spirit, engaged in the same pursuit, speaking the same heavenly language, and actuated by the same brotherly love, they lived together as heirs of immortality, helpers of each others' faith and joy. Stilling was introduced to a large circle of pious persons, and enjoyed the luxury of being useful. His master also kindly inquired into his circumstances, and freely gave him the things of which he stood in need. His clothing had become worn to rags and patches; and Stilling had been unable to replace it. But his benevolent host, of his own free will, provided him with a new suit, throughout, as joyful to give, as Stilling was to accept, a garb, in which he could appear abroad without being ashamed to be seen.
After he had lived at this place somewhat more than a year, Stilling went, one day, with his employer to work at the house of a gentleman of wealth and extensive business, whose name was Spanier. The latter, having, for some time, walked up and down the room, at length stood still before Stilling, and having looked at him awhile, 'he said, „You A child was sent to show him; and he soon found that the man to whose house he was brought was very desirous of the aid of a journeyman. As Stilling entered the parlor, he saw the woman spreading the cloth, in order to dine with her children. And here a dinner had been prepared for him, "while he was wandering in the wood, and reflecting whether God would that day grant him his necessary food or not.“ Here he found, not occupation only, but the fellowship of Christian hearts. On the afternoon of that very day, as he was at work with his needle, it so happened that his employer and the person at whose house they were laboring fell into conversation on some point of practical theology. Stilling, who sat behind a table, when he could no longer restrain himself, began to weep aloud, and exclaimed, „O God, I am at home, I am at home !“ When he was asked, what was the matter, he replied, „It is long since 1 have heard this language; and as I now see that you are people who love God, I was unable to contain myself for joy.“In this family, he lived with the greatest pleasure. He was now brought into association with those whose piety was of a kindred character with his own. They sought simply to exercise love to God and man, and to imitate Christ, their head, in their walk and conversation. And, as this coincided with Stilling's own religious system, he easily harmonized in their views. Drinking into the same spirit, engaged in the same pursuit, speaking the same heavenly language, and actuated by the same brotherly love, they lived together as heirs of immortality, helpers of each others' faith and joy. Stilling was introduced to a large circle of pious persons, and enjoyed the luxury of being useful. His master also kindly inquired into his circumstances, and freely gave him the things of which he stood in need. His clothing had become worn to rags and patches; and Stilling had been unable to replace it. But his benevolent host, of his own free will, provided him with a new suit, throughout, as joyful to give, as Stilling was to accept, a garb, in which he could appear abroad without being ashamed to be seen.
After he had lived at this place somewhat more than a year, Stilling went, one day, with his employer to work at the house of a gentleman of wealth and extensive business, whose name was Spanier. The latter, having, for some time, walked up and down the room, at length stood still before Stilling, and having looked at him awhile, 'he said, „You succeed as well in that, Stilling, as if you had been born to be a tailor; but that you are not." How so ?" - asked Stilling. „For this very reason,“ rejoined Spanier, „because I will have you for tutor to my children.“„No, Mr. Spanier,“ replied Stilling, „that will not be the case. I have irrevocably determined to teach no more. I am now quiet and comfortable at my trade, and I will not depart from it.“ Mr. Spanier shook his head, laughed, and continued, „I will teach you something different from that. I have levelled so many a mountain in the world, that if I were unable to bring you to another way of thinking, I should be ashamed of myself.“ Notwithstanding Stilling's determination, Spanier found means to persuade him. Having an extensive business, in which it was requisite for him to have some one in his employ who understood the French language, as well as for the sake of his children, and who could also take the supervision of some departments of his affairs, he proposed to Stilling to seek out an instructer and learn French, at his expense, that he might be qualified for his new duties. This proposal stirred up the scholar afresh. The love of knowledge had slept under the ashes in Stilling's bosom; but such an opportunity revived all his old associations and propensities, and he gave his consent. In nine weeks after he had parted from his friend, the master tailor, „he could read the French journals in German, as if they had been printed in the latter language. He was, also, already able to write a French letter without a grammatical error, and read correctly; he only required exercise in speak ing. He was sufficiently acquainted with the whole of the syntax, so that he could boldly begin to give instructions himself in the language."
The termination of this matter justifies the sentiment of his friend, the tailor, when the proposal was made to him. "Now,“ said he to Stilling, "you will commit a sin, if you do not consent. This comes from God, and all your previous engagements from yourself.“ Mr. Spanier entered into the peculiarities of Stilling's mental constitution. He understood the proper method of treating him, to ensure his freedom from the wearing melancholy, which, under other circumstances, had consumed him. He knew that the sensitive mind, placed in uncongenial spheres, and thus driven back upon its own loneliness and gloom, or suffered to be without profitable occupation, and thus left to brood over real or imaginary trials, will ever destroy its own substance. He engaged him, therefore, as occasion offered, in employments which kept his mind busily occupied, and which required, not only temporary absences from books and solitude, but exercise in the open air, in view of some object to be attained.
After some four years, Stilling began to inquire, what would at length become of him. This inquiry resulted in his commencing, at the age of twenty-eight years, the study of Greek and Hebrew, in which, in a short time, he made very great proficiency. His kind patron threw no obstacles in his way; but, on the contrary, did all in his power to assist him in reaching the true end of his life. One afternoon, he was walking up and down in the room, as he was wont to do when he was reflecting upon any important affair. At length he said to Stilling, „Preceptor, it all at once occurs to me what you ought to do; - you must study medicine.“ The clue was thus unexpectedly furnished to Stilling's future course. He immediately felt that it was this for which God had designed him; and he found no difficulty in tracing, in the history of his life and education, the designs of Providence, tending towards this result. He communicated the plan to his uncle; but the latter opposed it. "Where shall the large sum come from, that is requisite for such an extensive and expensive study ?“But Stilling answered with his favorite motto, „Jehovah Jireh" - the Lord will provide. About this time, an aged Catholic priest, an intimate friend of Stilling's uncle, and who was famed for his skill in curing ophthalmic diseases, wrote to the latter, that „he had most faithfully and circumstantially copied out all his ophthalmic arcana, both with respect to their application and preparation; as also, an explanation of the principal diseases of the eye with the method of cure.“ This manuscript he wished to see in good hands before his death; and he requested John Stilling to inform him, if there were not in his family some worthy individual who had a desire to study medicine.“ In this matter could plainly be seen the finger of God. Hein- rich immediately visited the old priest, and obtained from him the precious manuscript. He received from him, also, a considerable number of medical books, which he packed up in his portmanteau and carried home with him. He copied the whole manuscript in four weeks; but at the end of that time, his new patron was dead. Beginning to feel a degree of confidence, with the information which he had acquired, after a few more' weeks of study, he undertook to prepare some of the aged priest's medicines. The first case in which he exhibited them was successful. This brought him into notice, and he soon had patients for several leagues around. By means of his medical skill, Stilling was made known to the family of his future father-in-law, where he spent many happy hours. It was necessary that he should study at the University, in order to perfect himself in the mysteries of his profession. But he had no money, and Do pledge of assistance from any friends. „He intended to study simply on faith.“ Such were his circumstances, that he could not well study under any other condition. His situation was very peculiar. At the age of thirty years, betrothed to a tender and pious, but sickly young woman, who was pronounced by all the physicians to be consumptive, the whole of his future welfare depending on his becoming a complete physician, and the requisite opportunities for study demanding at least one thousand rix dollars, „of which he could not tell where in the whole world to raise a hundred,“ his position was truly critical.
„Yet although Stilling placed all this before him in a very lively manner, he nevertheless fixed his confidence firmly on God, and drew this inference; - God begins nothing without terminating it gloriously. Now it is most certainly true, that he alone has ordered my present circumstances, entirely without my co-operation; consequently, it is also most certainly true, that he will accomplish every thing regarding me in a manner worthy of him.
„This conclusion rendered him so courageous, that he simply said to his friends at Rasenheim, 'I wonder from what quarter my heavenly Father will provide me with money.’“"
He did not, however, communicate his situation to any other individual; and when, on the eve of his departure for the university of Strasburg, the father of his future bride professed his inability to aid him with the necessary pecuniary supplies, he answered, -
"Hear me, my dear friend, I do not wish for a farthing from you. Believe assuredly, that he who was able to feed so many thousand people in the desert with a little bread, lives still; and to him I commit myself. He will certainly find out means. Do not you, therefore, be anxious. 'The Lord will provide.'"
And the Lord did provide. Owing to And the Lord did provide. Owing to unexpected delays and expenses on his journey, two days before leaving Frankfort for Strasburg, he had only one rix dollar left; and this was all the money he had in the world. He said nothing of it to any one, but waited for the assistance of his heavenly Father. At length, after he had suffered much anxiety, he met with a mercantile friend, who had known him in the region of his ophthalmic practice. The latter invited Stilling to sup with him at his room. Stilling went, at evening, to fulfil the engagement. After supper ensued the following conversation:
„'Tell me, my friend, who furnishes you with money to enable you tostndy?' Stilling smiled, and answered, 'I have a rich Father in heaven. He will provide for me.' Mr. Liebmann looked at him, and continued, ' How much have you at present?' Stilling answered, ' One rix dollar - and that is all.' ' So!' rejoined Liebmann,' I am one of your Father's stewards; I will, therefore, now act the paymaster.' On this he handed over thirty-three rix dollars to Stilling, and said, ' I cannot, at present, spare more; you will find assistance every where. If you are subsequently able to return me the money, well! - if not, it is no matter.' Stilling felt warm tears in his eyes. He thanked him heartily for his kindness, and added, ' I am now rich enough. I do not wish for more.' This first trial of his faith made him so courageous, that he no longer doubted that the Lord would certainly help him through every difficulty."
After reaching Strasburg, he found himself pleasantly situated in the university, having obtained convenient rooms, agreeable society, the friendship of some who afterwards became distinguished men, among whom was Goethe; and in the pursuit of study, he was truly in his own element. His thirty-three rix dollars, however, again melted away to one; and he began anew to pray fervently for assistance. Just at the time of greatest necessity, the student who came with him to Strasburg, and who shared the same room, said to him one morning, „You have, I believe, brought no money with you. I will lend you six Carolines, until you receive a remittance.“ Stilling knew as little where a remittance, as money, was to come from. But he accepted the friendly offer, and Mr. T paid him six louis d'ors. Who but God incited his friend to make this offer, just at the moment when it was most needed?
During Stilling's attendance at the university, lectures were, in due course, announced on one of the principal topics which he wished to study. Stilling presented himself, on Monday evening, supposing that these lectures would be paid for, like the others, after they were ended. But how was he dismayed when the doctor announced that the gentlemen would please pay six louis d'ors each, on Thursday evening.
His purse was again empty. Mr. T. had lent him already six louis d'ors, and there was no prospect of his being for him to return them.
„As soon as Stilling entered his apartment, he shut the door after him, threw himself down in a corner, and wrestled earnestly with God for aid and compassion. The Thursday evening, however, arrived, without any thing of a consoling nature manifesting itself. It was already five o'clock; and six was the lime that he ought to have the money. Stilling's faith began almost to fail; he broke out into a perspiration with anxiety, and his whole face was wet with tears. He felt no more courage or faith; and therefore he looked forward to the future, as to a hell with all its torments. Whilst he was pacing the room, occupied with such ideas, some one knocked at the door. He called out, ' Come in.' It was their landlord, Mr. R. He entered the room, and after the customary compliments, he began, ' I am come to see how you are, and whether you are satisfied with your lodging.' Stilling answered, ' Your inquiries after my health do me much honor. I am well, thank God! - and your apartment is quite according to the wish of both of us.'
„Mr. R. rejoined, 'I am very glad of it, particularly as I see you are such well behaved and worthy people. But I wished particularly to ask you one thing: - have you brought money with you, or do you expect bills?' Stilling now felt like Habakkuk, when the angel took him by the hair of his head to carry him to Babylon. He answered, ' No, I have brought no money with me.'
„Mr. R. stood, looked at him fixedly, and said, ' For God's sake, how will you be able to proceed?' Stilling answered, 'Mr. T. has already lent me something.' 'But he requires his money himself,' rejoined Mr. R. 'I will advance you money, as much as you need; and when you receive your remittance, you need only give the bill to me, that yon may have no trouble in disposing of it. Are you in want of any money at present?' Stilling could scarcely refrain from crying out; however, he restrained himself, so as not to show his feelings. 'Yes,' said he, 'I have need of six louis d'ors this evening, and I was at a loss.' Mr. R. was shocked, and replied, 'Yes, I dare say you are! I now see that God has sent me to your assistance,' and went out of the room."
In a few moments, this excellent man brought eight louis d'ors, handed them to him, and went away. As soon as he was gone, Stilling fell on the floor, thanked God with tears, and cast himself anew into his paternal arms; after which „he went to the college, and paid as well as the best."
While this was going on at Strasburg, his old friend of the thirty-three six dollars chanced to visit Stilling's future father- in-law. The conversation turned on their friend at the university, whose diligence, industry and genius were duly commended. Neither of them could conceive whence he obtained his money; but Liebmann remarked, „Well, I wish some friend would join with me, we would remit him, for once, a considerable sum.“ Friedenburg replied, „I will join with you in it.“ Liebmann rejoiced, and said, „Well, then, do you count out one hundred and fifty rix dollars; I will add as many more to them, and send off the bill to him."
„A fortnight after the severe trial of faith which Stilling had endured, he received, quite unexpectedly, a letter from Mr. Liebmann, together with a bill for three hundred rix dollars. He laughed aloud, placed himself against the window, cast a joyful look towards heaven, and said, 'This is only possible with thee, thou almighty Father! - May my whole life be devoted to thy praise.' He now paid Mr. T., Mr. R., and others to whom he was indebted, and retained enough to enable him to get through the winter."
The preceding pages exhibit that, of which the whole book is a specimen, the watchful care of God over his creatures. Stilling was, emphatically, the child of providence. His whole life was distinguished in the same manner by the interposition of God for his help, in every period of greatest necessity.
It is impossible for us to accompany Stilling though his public life. A few only of the remaining items must suffice. After his graduation, he established himself as a regular physician, in the region where he had practised so much and so successfully, before he went to Strasburg. He was not received, however, in the cordial manner which might have been anticipated. His religious friends looked upon him with suspicion, as a backslider; and by the wealthy classes, he was treated only with bare politeness, because he was not a man of property, like themselves. His general practice was not large, and he was often subjected to anxiety, and compelled to incur yearly a small debt, which at length became a serious burden. Still he lived in the exercise of faith in God; and often was amazed at the wonderful interpositions of providence in his behalf. His skill in diseases of the eye laid the foundation for his fame, and operations in that department were among his most successful services. Though he began to operate for the cataract with extreme unwillingness, and with a trembling hand, he became renowned far and wide, and proved himself one of the greatest benefactors of his age in Germany. But often these important operations were performed upon the poor, who were unable to give him any compensation; so that he was constantly exerting himself for human weal in the way of his profession; but, as long as he remained dependent on that profession, he was always in embarrassment. But though Stilling never had any thing before hand, what was needful never failed him. When it was required, it was there. On one occasion, when it was necessary that, within a certain number of days, seventy dollars should be paid on account of rent, Stilling and his wife suffered the utmost anxiety, not knowing from what source the sum was to be obtained. He had pledged his word for it, firmly relying on the divine promises. As the time of payment drew near without the slightest appearance of obtaining the requisite sum, Stilling, in great distress, „often ran up to his chamber, fell upon his face, wept, and entreated help of God; and when his vocation called him away, Christina (his wife) took his place. She wept aloud, and prayed with such fervor of spirit, as might have moved a stone.“ At ten o'clock, on the day when the sum was to be paid, the postman rang at the door, and handed Stilling a letter, the contents of which were very heavy. It was a pacquet, superscribed by Goethe, enclosing one hundred and fifteen ris dollars in gold. It appears that Goethe had obtained from Stilling, some time before, a manuscript of the narrative of his youth, which he had printed without Stilling's knowledge, and this welcome sum was obtained for the copyright.
After having continued for a season in the practice of medicine, Stilling received an appointment to a professorship, to which the course of his studies and his experience eminently adapted him. This was a most agreeable event to him; but it was not unattended by difficulties. Especially, in the prospect of a change of residence, he felt it incumbent on him to pay his debts. Eight hundred guilders must come from some quarter or other, before he could leave the town. Some advised him to assign his goods to his creditors. But this he declined.
„'No, no,' said he, 'every one shall be paid to the uttermost farthing. I promise this in the name of God. He has been my guide, and certainly will not let me be confounded. I will not make myself a knave, and abandon the school of my heavenly Father.' ' It is all very well,' answered they; ' but what will you do now? You are unable to pay; and if you are arrested and your furniture seized, what will you then do ?' 'I leave all that to God,' rejoined he, ' and do not trouble myself about it, for it is his affair.' "
His friend, Mr. T., who had been his room-mate at Strasburg, interceded with a merchant to whom Stilling owed sixty dollars, to remit the debt. The merchant not only remitted it, but gave him, in addition, sixty dollars more, to meet his straitened circumstances. Mr. T. also advised Stilling on the next day to go about and take leave of all his acquaintances. "Be comforted,“ said he, "and see what God will do for you.“ Stilling followed this advice. The first person on whom he called, at parting, slipped into his hand a roll of money, amounting to one hundred guilders. As he proceeded, acknowledgments were pressed upon him with the greatest delicacy; „and in the evening, when he had finished his round, and returned home, and counted the money over, how much had he ? - Exactly eight hundred guilders, neither more nor less."
In the year 1784, the academy of Political Economy, with which Stilling was connected, was removed from Rittersberg to Heidelberg. His situation was there improved, and his compensation somewhat increased; but still, not sufficiently to enable him to liquidate all the debts which he had accumulated. In the year 1786, he was appointed by the university of Marburg, public and ordinary professor of the Economical, Financial and Statistical Sciences, with a salary of 2130 guilders, current money. In the mean time, his wife had died, and he had married again. His second wife was a more skilful housekeeper than the first; and besides meeting the expenses of the family with his salary, she managed every year to do something towards cancelling his debts. Though he had retired from the general practice of the medical profession, he continued to operate gratuitously for the cataract with much success. During his residence at Marburg, Stilling published two works, „Scenes in the Invisible World,“and „Nostalgia“(Heimweh), which had an important influence in determining his final mode of life. These works have had an extensive circulation. The act of writing them revived in his mind an impulse which he had strongly felt from his childhood, to become an active instrument in the Lord's hands, for the advancement of religion. Various circumstances seemed to suggest, that the time had now come for this impulse to be carried into effect. But the path to attain this end was not so clear. He continued, therefore, for the present, to discharge the duties of his office, occasionally to write for the press, and sometimes to visit distant places, for the purpose of performing ophthalmic operations. Some of these journeys were both interesting and profitable. On one such tour into Switzerland, Stilling experienced another of those remarkable interpositions of Providence, by which his life had been so much distinguished. He had a debt upon him of 1650 guilders, which must soon be paid. One of the Swiss patients on whom he operated for the cataract, without any knowledge of the fact, and simply from an impulse to make Stilling more happy, paid him exactly 1650 guilders for his cure. When Stilling retired to his room at night, he found the sum, partly in cash and the remainder in bills, upon his bed.
After a season, the way seemed opened before him, and Stilling having resigned his chair at Marburg, devoted himself to religious authorship, under the patronage of the Elector of Baden. This was his last employment; and in this, old age with its infirmities gradually crept upon him. But he had spent a long and eventful career. Now, surrounded by his children and grand-children, happy in the recollection of a well-spent life, and joyful in the prospect of the life to come, he composed himself, to wait for the summons.
The last scenes of his life, described by his grandson, are exceedingly touching and beautiful. We seem to forget that we stand by the death-bed of the accomplished professor. We imagine ourselves in the presence of one of the old patriarchs. The loveliness of piety beams forth in his appearance, and speaks in all his words. We find pleasure in coming to such a place. It is holy ground. It is impossible for us to quote the extended account. We will give only the close.
„But the solemn and mournful moment now gradually approached. The far advanced Christian, like his Redeemer, was to drink the cup of tribulation to the very dregs, as a glorious testimony of faith to the -world. Audit was the middle of Holy Week. He went, with his Saviour, to meet death and victory. On beholding his countenance, beaming with affection and dignity, one would have exclaimed, O Death, where is thy sting ? O Grave, where is thy victory ? But thanks be unto God, who giveth us the victory, through our Lord Jesus Christ.
„He continually sought us out, one after the other, with his benign and solemn look, and once exclaimed, ' Continue in prayer,' and we ceased not.
„He refreshed his languishing lips a few times more with cooling drinks, until at length he said, 'It is enough; no more will go down.' Several times he stammered forth supplicating expressions, when suffering from convulsive attacks, to the great Consummator, such as, 'Lord, cut short the thread of life!' and, 'Father, receive my spirit!' - and then we thought we heard him breathe his last. However, his vigorous constitution recovered itself a little. He prepared himself for the approaching mortal blow by stretching himself out at full length, and what he otherwise regarded as necessary; then fixed his eyes on the picture of the infant Jesus, which hung opposite to him; and now his eyes failed, and he closed them with all the power of bodily and mental strength. We stood breathless, and continued in prayer, while convulsion fearfully distorted the features of the sufferer. Once - and a second time - it seemed as if evil spirits sought to discompose his noble mien. But, behold, the dignified traits of his sublime countenance returned to their dignity and benignity, and heavenly purity perfectly presented itself to our gazing eyes. And when at noontide the sun shone most cheeringly, his breath departed, and the Christian had overcome. In faith was his victory.
„There is sorrow on earth for the departed benefactor, counsellor, friend and incomparable father. Father Stilling is lamented even in the most distant countries: but in heaven, there is joy amongst the blessed, and an unceasing song of praise before God ascends from his beatified spirit."
We designed to have spoken of the intermingling of a kind of superstitious element in Stilling's character, - his belief in supernatural appearances, and the regard he paid to waking visions. Several instances of this occur in the volume. They are perhaps to be viewed as almost the constant characteristics of persons educated in such entire seclusion, where, in a deep valley and among precipitous mountains, every reflection of the light, and every tree could be easily transformed, by a lively imagination, into a being from some distant sphere. Had our space permitted, we should have been glad to speak on another subject, the internal impulses, by which Stilling often thought he could discover the divine will. The character of the piety exhibited by Stilling and his friends, in the rural district of Tiefenbach, and by the tradesman and his family, with whom Stilling last wrought as a journeyman, deserves, also, more than a bare notice. How lovely is its light! What inimitable beauty it adds to the charms of pastoral life! And how it elevates and sanctifies whatever it touches ! „Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.“ It raises Jane, the Young Cottager, and Elizabeth Wallbridge to a seat among kings. But our limits forbid us to proceed to these and many other interesting topics, suggested by the Life of Heinrich Stilling. We close, therefore, with his own appropriate language:
„Whoever is inclined to wonder and rejoice at me, let him wonder it the way in which I have been led, adore the Father of men, and thank him that he still does not leave himself without a witness; that he also prepares witnesses to tread his sacred paths, and still sends laborers into his vineyard, even at the eleventh hour."