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Both hearts were so full, that, for a long time, they did not speak a word.
At length the farmer said, “But, Berend, I must also think how I can repay you for your long and faithful nursing. What am I to give you?”
“Nothing," was the answer ; I have joy enough with you. Besides, I do not need anything. If you were to give me five dollars, and I were to give it for the poor, the people would ascribe it to wretched pride and boasting. When you give away so much, nobody talks about it.”
“You are right, old man,” interrupted the farmer ; “still I know one way in which you can be assisted. With you we must give work to pay for work. See, it was not until the long days and nights in which I lay so miserable that I gained a living experience of what we possess in the written word of God. If the word of God had not become
consolation, I should have perished in my misery. I often thought then to myself, how is it with your people? what concern have you shown about their souls ? I was always compelled to answer myself—none at all: for the body you give them good food ; spiritually you suffer them to starve. It has lain heavily upon my heart. If God had called me away with this fracture of a leg, I must have gone before him with all this sin. During those long nights I vowed to him, at least ten times,-Lord ! if thou restorest me, I will do for the poor people what lies in my power. It is true that I have never allowed disorderly conduct, drunkenness, card-playing, and the like. But simply not poisoning the people's souls is not doing anything for their healthy nourishment. Berend, you shall be my labourers' pustor. Through the winter you shall come up every evening at half-past six, shall have supper with the servants, and say a Christian grace with them. After supper you shall stay here till nine o'clock, sing a hymn with the people, read to them out of the Bible, and some other good book, and talk with them about what you have read. Every winter I will buy a book for you. At last
you shall offer up an evening prayer with the people, and then you can go home. I will take care that the people shall attend to yon, and that no ridicule shall take place. Are you satisfied with it?"
Berend did not take much time to consider: “Yes, master, that I will willingly do," was his answer.
“Well, begin this evening; but come somewhat earlier." Berend came. The farmer said, “I will go with you,
I must introduce you." He then crutched across with him.
It was the first time that he came into the servants' room after his fall. Labourers and lads, gardeners and shepherds, were together. All rose as a mark of respect when the master entered. But to-day he was not farmer- he was minister, and his crutches were his assistants. We placed a chair for him immediately. I was then lad at the lowest team.
When he had taken his seat all were as still as a mouse.
“My people,” he began, “you know how the Lord has smitten me. I have been lying down for fifteen weeks, and now I can only manage with all this trouble. I rejoice that you have continued faithful and diligent through the time. But, in my affiction, my heart has often given me more pain than my leg: and, do you know why ? For this reason, that I brought you so little to God's word; I did not myself observe properly till this calamity came, what a treasure we have in it, and what balsam and relief lie in it for poor
At school you have not learned much : some of you have not gone there much. What you have learned, most of you have forgotten again. Almost all that you still know lies dead within you—like meal-dust in the bag, from which no bread will ever come all its days. As you have learned but little before, you do not understand most part of what is preached in the church. So long as you have worked with me, nobody has helped you on: that is wrong of me, and on me alone lies the sin. As far as I can I will make amends for my neglect. From to-day, Berend Stein will come to you every evening, pray and sing with you, read something to you, and speak with you about it. That he understands it I know. I think you will like such occupation better than to do foolish things with one another, to make sport of one another, and to tell idle tales. If any one vexes or offends Berend so that he has to bring a complaint about you,
I shall regard it as if he had vexed me, and treat, you accordingly. But I hope that every one of you will regard the Saviour, and your soul's salvation, and that you will thank God if you are guided to both. You should receive Berend as a good friend, who will open the door for you to that which should be to every man the holiest and the dearest treasure. Are you willing for this ? "
The whole assembly answered with a loud yes, and I with them. We had already heard inuch that was good of the
old bachelor. We had to go up and shake hands with him in succession.
The master then spoke: “God bless thy going out and thy coming in.” He continued, after that, sitting upon the chair till supper was over; he then crutched away.
VI. HOW BEREND DISCHARGED HIS DUTIES. From that day Berend Stein was the labourers' pastor : nor was he called anything else till his happy end. He took up his office with all earnestness. Every day he came, be the weather what it would ; and if he worked at quite the other end of the place, yet he was there at the right time. He regularly brought his violin with him. If it rained or snowed, he had it wrapped up in a large cloth. His mason's dress-at least partly—he left at home. His official dress consisted of a bright green cloth jacket and the buckled shoes. On Sundays he came in his coat. In summer he was there only on Sundays and holidays, because we went to bed immediately after supper, in order to rise early in the morning.
Now all that we did I cannot tell you. The master had given us two Bibles: they lay up at the back of the can. The first ploughman fetched them down every evening, when we were together, and afterwards put them away again. Amongst the people he was therefore called the clerk. I had the office later, and while I stayed never let it pass from me. There were the same number of hymn-books as people: they belonged to the master. After supper we usually began by singing once. Berend played. We there learned to sing quite in order. A passage from the Bible was then read. When it was done, Berend told the history of it again. It was always the same passage fixed for each day, and yet it appeared always different. The subject seemed always as if it had happened among ourselves : that about Job he made as clear to us as if it had taken place outside there on the farm. Many a time also he pictured the whole story with chalk upon the table: thus, how Israel went through the Red Sea, and Pharaoh was drowned in it; how Joshua conquered Ai, etc. Enough! it was always just as if we were marching with the children of Israel ; as if we were catching the quails, and gathering up the manna among them; or as if we were standing behind the people with the Lord Christ, and that we could peep across.
He often also brought us to that point himself. We had to be the people in the Bible. I remember it still.
I was terribly passionate in my early years.
When I was with the first teain, the second ploughman did something to
I was not slow in telling him pretty sharply of it; and as he was still determined to keep at it, I gave it him. The thing kept going on so: the master heard nothing of it. Soon after Berend read us the story of Saul and David, how David was behind in the cave and cut off the skirt of Saul's coat. As we were going through it in conversation he said
Christian, if you had been David, and the second ploughman Saul, you would not have been satisfied, would you, with the coat-skirt ?” I blushed crimson. The others afterwards joked me. “Do you see, Christian, he does not even spare the clerk.”
He could bring it home very close to one's heart. One passion-week he pictured for us all the sufferings of Christ on the table. · First, the three crosses on which he and the thieves were hung ; then, below, the soldiers and the high priest ; on the other side his mother Mary, the other women, and the disciples ; behind, a number of heads, whose mouths were all open ; and behind them all, an old willow-tree, on which Judas hung himself. Now, we had just then two labourers from the part of Saxony which now belongs to Prussia, from Quenstedt: they were a couple of Flemish lads, who could carry four bushels and make light of it; but they were as gentle as children. They were very much attached to one another, and would have gone through fire for each other; they were the children of neighbours. One was called Hanarendt, and the other Friede. When we came to the part where the crucifixion was about to take place, and the wickedness of all the world was united against our blessed Lord, Hanarendt rose up, took Friede by the left arm, lifted his right fist in the air, and said, “ Friede, if we two had come up just then we would have given it the villains,” the tears starting into his eyes.
Berend had made a rule for himself in reading the Bible. The history of Jesus had to be gone through every year, just as the season suited. The gardener who served at the farm several years, once asked, “ But, Berend, why do not you take something else? we have already had that several times : it is tedious."
Jacob,” answered the pastor, “in your garden the same flowers come out of the earth again every year at the same time. First, the snow-drops, then the crocus, and then the tulip, etc. Every month different ones, but every year the
same. They look one year the same as another. Is that time wearisome to you? Every year you have again the same work at a fixed time. Sowing, planting in pots, weeding, hoeing, watering, gathering seed, covering, etc., you must do every year. All this you have been long acquainted with and able to do. Is the time wearisome to you in that?
“ No," answered the gardener. Whereupon Berend said, “Do you see? you there yourself show that you have more patience and understanding for your earthly calling, your gardener's place, than for the salvation of your soul. For this also regular labour is necessary, and the old ground must be laid
afresh every year step by step. When the spring comes you always rejoice afresh at the song of the nightingale, though you have already heard it for sixty years. Should you not now rejoice when the sweet angels sing again every Christmas-day, “This day is born unto you a Saviour?' That is sweeter than a nightingale's song. And then there is a further distinction : your flowers, your work, and the song of birds are every year alike; but God's word has every year new aspects, new truths, new consolation. Every year we find more in it, if we only search with meekness and prayer."
The gardener was silent, and stretched out his hand in a friendly manner to the pastor.
Afterwards, a story was told, or a passage was read out of the Bible. I assure you that now, in the whole village, no one can tell stories in such a manner. Berend brought forward what he had gathered together in his early years. He was like a rich man who has reaped in the summer, and
opens his stores in the destitution of winter. Many people of whom he spoke he had personally known; others he had heard of, and some tales he had read in books. If I were to tell what I still remember of his stories, it would make a long chain. They treated of steadfastness of faith in persecution; how God never lets faith be put to shame; of miraculous guidings and awakenings from God; of God's grace in the cottages of the poor ; of faithfulness towards one's earthly master ; of the blessing which pious children inherit; of upright masters and authorities; of the love to Christ which is stronger than. death; of a happy old age and a believing death ; or of the opposite to these things, and many other subjects.
Of his books I especially remember two, one of which belonged to himself. It was old, and as large as the old Bible. It contained stories on the Ten Commandments; blessing