« AnteriorContinuar »
ferent to the mere outward rites and ceremonies of their church, and some of them even went over to the protestant faith. Generally speaking, Franké's discourses were received with joy by the people of Erfurt, and many of them turned to the Lord with sincerity of heart. Besides this, Franké daily read lectures upon the scriptures, for the benefit of the students at Erfurt: on which account several came also from Leipzig and Jena, to Erfurt, amongst whom was Joachim Langé. Finally, being grieved at the ignorance of the people in divine things, he sought to remove it by the sale and distribution of New Testaments and other good books.
But Franké's activity in this respect, naturally could not long remain unopposed. The doctrine he preached was something quite new to the majority of the protestants. Many indeed, who searched deeper into the subject, soon recognized in it the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures, and yielded themselves up to the truth; but many others, ensnared by preconceived opinions, saw in Franké nothing but innovation, enthusiasm, and pietism. Even an aged colleague of Franké's hated him most bitterly, and could not be brought over to other sentiments, however much meekness, affection, and filial reverence Franké manifested towards him. But he experienced the greatest opposition from fanatical catholics; which was the more dangerous, not only from the very great number of them in Erfurt, but also because that city was under the Roman Catholic government of the electorate of Mayence.
The circumstance of Franké's frequently ordering New Testaments and Arndt's “ True Christianity,” from Lüneburg and other places, either for sale or
gratuitous distribution, occasioned the report, which easily obtained credence, that Franké wrote for heretical books, and disseminated them amongst the people. He was therefore strictly forbidden to order them by the magistracy. Franké naturally did not include the New Testament and Arndt's “ True Christianity" in this class, and wrote for them as before. But the magistracy had given the strictest orders at the post-office and the gates of the city, to transmit every parcel that arrived for Franké to the Senate-house, and a parcel was soon sent thither. Franké was cited, and asked, “How he dared to continue ordering heretical books, contrary to the prohibition ?" He assured them that he had never done so. He was answered, “ that since he could so boldly deny the fact, they would convince him of the truth of it.” The parcel was brought, and opened, when nothing but Lüneburg New Testaments were found in it. The senators were ashamed, and honourably dismissed him. Franké assured a friend, that this circumstance produced just the same effect, as if he had sent a public crier through the town to publish the arrival of a quantity of New Testaments. Previously, some weeks bad generally elapsed before he was able to dispose of such a number; but on that occasion, they went off rapidly in one day.
Franké had laboured a year and three months in Erfurt, when suddenly-in consequence of secret insinuations-an electoral rescript arrived from Mayence, in which it was stated, that “because Mr. Franké was said to be the head of a new sect, his Electoral Highness would no longer tolerate such disturbances; and it was therefore his imperative
command, that Franké should immediately give in his resignation, and leave the city.” As soon as Franké heard of this rescript, he went to the Senate, and complained of such a procedure. They advised him to ask for his own dismission. He answered, “The wicked fleeth when no man pursueth ; but the righteous is bold as a lion. Franké, on this, was immediately deposed from his office by a decree of the Senate, and received orders, accompanied with severe menaces, to quit the town in forty-eight hours. He yielded, but gave in a document to the magistrates, in which he stated, with equal modesty and boldness, “how unjust and unreasonable it was to condemn a man, who had neither been heard in his defence, nor even been informed of the charges brought against him.” But as little attention was paid to this application, as to other intercessions in his favour, either from the scholars of the parochial school, or from the town's-people, all of which proved of no avail.
The two days which Franké had still to spend in Erfurt, were employed in collecting his hearers and friends in his dwelling, and admonishing them most affectingly to continue faithful to the grace they had received, and to persevere unto the end. They melted into tears. But he left Erfurt with great and heartfelt joy, “ experiencing the superabundant consolations of the Holy Spirit," on the 27th September, 1691. He returned to his mother and sisters at Gotha, and wrote on the way the beautiful hymn which begins,
“ The Lord be prais'd! another step
Is taken towards eternity."
The Duke of Gotha immediately sent one of his ministers to Erfurt, to make strict inquiry into the
course of the matter; and having convinced himself of Franké's innocence, he made an impressive remonstrance to the Electoral Governor in Erfurt, against the highly unjust procedure against Franké; and when no attention was paid to it, he wrote in a serious manner to the Electoral Court itself. However, he had by no means the intention of replacing Franké in Erfurt; he wished rather to retain him in his own territories. Other ducal houses in Saxony also vied with Gotha in obtaining possession of Franké. He received from Saxe-Coburg a call as professor to the Gymnasium at Gotha, and from the younger Duke of Saxe-Weimar an invitation to become his court chaplain. But he did not feel himself at liberty to accept any of them; Divine Providence having already given him another intimation. The very day on wbich he had received the command to leave Erfurt within forty-eight hours, a letter had reached him, which contained an invitation from the Court of Brandenburg to reside in its territories, in case he should not be tolerated in Erfurt. Franké resolved, first, to wait the result of this offer; and on the 22nd December, 1691, he was formally appointed professor of the Greek and Oriental Languages, in the university just then being founded at Hallé; ? and at the same time, “ for his better subsistence,” the pastoral charge over the church of St. George at Glaucha, in the vicinity of Hallé, was committed to him. He repaired first of all to Berlin, where he received his vocation, and arrived in Halle on the 7th January, 1692.
1 Whither, at Spener's recommendation, Breithaupt of Erfurt was appointed, as member of the Consistory of Magdeburgh, professor of divinity, and director of a theological seminary.
Pastoral labours in Glaucha—Extracts from his sermons
- List of his spiritual writings.
FRANKÉ undertook his new pastoral charge in February, 1692, and found his congregation in a very deplorable state. Not only was it entirely destitute of inward and vital religion, but also of outward morality and propriety of conduct. A multitude of taverns and places of amusement, just upon the very site of the present orphan-house, to wbich the inhabitants of Hallé resorted in crowds, had demoralized the greater part of the population of Glaucha. Luxurious slothfulness had usurped the place of the moral duties, and at its side marched extreme poyerty. Franke's predecessor, Mr. Richter, had been accused of adultery and other criminal acts, imprisoned, and deposed in September, 1691. The succeeding vacation had contributed to increase the profligate state of the parish of Glaucha. Franké therefore found a wide field of labour before him, and only a man of equal zeal, faith, and love with himself could have cultivated it as successfully as he. He administered the pastoral office to this church, to which he devoted himself in the beginning exclusively, till