|Chapter 9||Contents||Chapter 11|
As stated in a letter by Baron Cansteinα in 1706, to a member of the Prussian Government:—
My dear Sir,—
I have recently visited the great establishment at Halle, which was founded and has been brought to its present advanced prosperity by Professor Francke, of the University in that city. My visit was so pleasant and so quickening to my faith, that I cannot deny myself the privilege of describing the institution, as it exists now— a kind of little world, yet all in harmony and a state of great efficiency. The history of the rise of this Home for Orphans, with its dependent schools, is not a common one; it is not the common-place development of an institution which has been fostered by Government patronage, but it is one that began in faith, and has been continuing in faith up to the present time. Relying on the great fact that God is, that He still “moves,” as well as “has his being,” β Professor Francke has been emboldened to go on with this work, beginning it without capital, and only expecting that God would provide from day to day. he had dared to build a system of edifices of palatial size, believing that God would dispose the hearts of his children to give the necessary means; and he has been justified in this trust, for the Orphan House is complete, is paid for, and is still in the receipt of means to sustain its usefulness.
Francke’s Institution, as it perhaps ought strictly to be called, is a unit, by virtue of one controlling purpose— viz., the exercise of a wise charity, and by virtue of the strong, clear mind and will which direct all its movements Professor A.H. Francke is pastor of the church in Glaucha, a suburb of Halle, and a Professor in the University of Halle. Yet unit though it is, it unifies many diverse things, and is made up of parts, in themselves very unlike. It is a bundle of sticks which do not resemble one another at all, and yet make a whole of great strength and unity. I will speak of these parts one by one.
The first is—
The Divinity School,
An institution which grew out of the necessity for helping poor students of theology, and of using their services at the same time as teachers of the destitute children. From the very first, Francke employed indigent young men studying in the University, as his co-labourers in the Orphan House and in the schools for the poor. Many a young man has been saved to the ministry in consequence of this help; many a wise teacher has been trained by the preparatory drill which he has gained under Francke. Funds came in fro the very first to help indigent students, and they now enjoy a free table in the general dining-room of the House, they have apartments for study, and receive special instruction in the ancient languages. Professors in the University come to the Orphan House, and give their lectures on Hebrew, Greek, and Oriental literature: the Hebrew Bible is now printing in the House, under the auspices of the professor in this department; and thus ends so varied are made to help each other; the students are always at hand when they are needed as instructors; the cost of providing their food is a light expense when so many hundreds are to be fed, and the rooms are commodious as those of the University proper for the purpose of lectures.
The Teachers’ Seminary.
As the Theological Seminary was mainly for the advantage of young men who wished to become clergymen, it was early deemed good to found a department where thorough teachers might be trained. The needs of the orphans and the destitute children were so urgent at the outset, that Francke had to look around to secure help, and none stood so ready at his hand as young men of needy circumstances, who wished to gain an education. Many of these were pious, and exercised a healthful religious influence over the young. He began with only ten, giving them a home with him and a small salary besides, and claiming from three to five hours daily of them as teachers. The increase of the schools, demanded an increase of instructors, and the number expanded gradually to its present size. The studies pursued in the seminary are mainly those which will be of special service in teaching the children, and far more attention is given to a thorough acquaintance with the rudiments, than with branches which will be foreign to their after use. The means for providing all these men with their living, and the stipend which is paid to them, have always come as the response to faith; no man has been asked for it; no provision has been made by Government for it; all has been in answer to the “fervent effectual prayer of the righteous man.” γ This department has been a great blessing to the Orphan House, and I might even say to Germany, for the five years’ course of instruction secures the most competent instructors for the great schools of the kingdom.
The Free Table.
The free table is and excellent feature in Francke’s institution, and one which finely illustrates the faith of the founder. It was, humanly speaking, very hazardous for a clergyman without means to open his house to twelve young men, and offer them their board free; but Francke did it, and was justified in it. He believed in God, and it was imputed to him for righteousness; δ and the Lord opened the hearts of his children, so that in a short time Francke gave their meals to yet twelve more, soon to twelve more, and now the number is almost a hundred of these young men who sit down in the great hall of the Orphan House. This provision secures an ample supply of wholesome food to these young students; for it was found to be the case that many were so self-denying in their efforts to gain an education, that they begrudged themselves an adequate supply of nourishing food But now they must have it, and besides a dollar is spent to far better advantage when laid out in providing for hundreds than for one. The free table affords also an excellent opportunity for Professor Francke to study the character of the young men. If any are imposters, he finds it out; and they know each other, and are better known than they could be if they lived alone, and boarded themselves. The table, too, is made a means of religious improvement. A chapter of Scripture is read, and remarks are made. A hymn is sung, and a constant effort is made to keep in mind the bountiful hand of God. Nor does this lead to a mechanical, perfunctory service, as it might under other circumstances; but the peculiar history of the institution, and the unquestioned faith of Professor Francke, make every meal a religious enjoyment and a means of grace.
The Latin School.
If Francke’s institution has any offshoot which is not connected with it by the tie of organic life, it is this. It is a school for the children of the nobility, and of people well to do in the world, who desire instruction in the advanced branches. It took its rise thus:— When Francke was beginning his schools for the poor and for orphans, it was soon found out in Halle and the neighbourhood that he was a man of remarkably sound judgment, energy, Christian character, and skill as an educator. He was earnestly asked to select young men whom he might recommend unqualifiedly as private tutors, and let them go from his humble house to the mansions of the rich. This he did not choose to do. He preferred to keep the young men around him, and have an eye to all their progress. But he proposed to certain of the nobility to send their sons to live under his roof, and be instructed there; they did so, and the “Paedagogium,” or Latin School, thus sprung into being— at first embracing but twelve pupils, but now, after a lapse of only about ten years, embracing between fifty and sixty. Here instruction is given in the ancient and modern languages, in all the polite branches of literature, and in the sciences. Yet it would be unfair to pass by the fact, that this institution is not, and has never been, self-supporting. Were it not for the other schools, Professor Francke would not receive enough, even from the rich, to be able to educate their sons. So the Latin School links in with all the rest, and shares a common blessing. The same living and loving God watches over its interests who watches over all the rest. The same Beneficence which preserves the school for orphans, preserves the school for the sons of noblemen. God’s hand is extended in blessing over the whole great institution.
The Orphan House Proper.
The fourth department is that of the Orphans, embracing the system of buildings where they are lodged, and have their instruction. The name Orphan House is given, indeed, to the whole congeriesε of buildings; but it is apparent that the home of the orphans is but a part of Francke’s institution. Yet it is the part which most fills the public eye, and draws the public sympathy; and it is to that that Francke has devoted himself with the most assiduous care. The main building devoted to this purpose is six storeys in height, about one hundred and fifty feet wide,ζ and is handsomely finished. It is by far the largest building in the city, and is really imposing in its appearance. There are many military barracks, which only give the observer the idea of size; but the main building of the Orphan House is not only colossal in proportions, but symmetrical, and a great ornament to the city. The whole house is built in the form of a hollow square, and the buildings on three sides of the rectangle are not elegant— simply commodious. It is the large building on the fourth side which attracts the most attention, standing as it does on one of the large public squares of the city. There are buildings adapted to all the varied wants of a large colony of children— a bake-house, a brew-house, a slaughter-house, a gymnasium, a wash-house, together with the dining, sleeping and school-rooms needed for more than a thousand souls. And all this was built without any accumulation of capital. From day to day the Lord provided what was required, and Francke received, in answer to his prayers, without asking the assistance of any man, every dollar to pay the workmen, and buy all the materials. He began with nothing; he never was beforehand with his means, yet he received so much, that though venturing to build of brick and stone, and in an expensive style of finish, he was not in arrears for this work. It is a signal trial of faith, and it is so regarded by all true Christians. Since the work was done, the same loving Father has continued to supply all the wants of the inmates; and although there have been hours of darkness, yet the Lord has always shown his mercy in the end.
The Apothecaries’ Department
The frequent cases of sickness in so large a collection of children, early made it necessary to provide for this class of needs. The apothecary department, now of much magnitude, began with the boiling of herbs for tea, and with the preparation of common household medicaments. It now has its large dispensary, with separate rooms for putting up and storing medicines, and is much used by the inhabitants of the city. Some of the remedies which have been employed by the house-physician have proved signally efficacious, and a gentleman in possession of a medicine called by him essentia dulcis bequeathed the receipt of its manufacture to Professor Francke. The income from this source is very large (twenty thousand dollarsη yearly), and the cures which have been wrought by it amazing, and are certified to by the leading regular physicians of the city and neighbourhood. The gift of this gentleman has done much to enrich the institution, and to put it on a permanent foundation.
Very early Professor Francke provided the children who came under his charge with books, and as the institution has advanced, the need of a department to meet this want became so obvious as to lead to the establishment of a large book-store [sic], where are kept all the works published at the institution, and a general assortment of useful works. This, too, is now large, and meets the wants of a great number of people in the city, who make their purchases at the House rather than elsewhere.
The Publishing Department.
There having been expressed a wish that a sermon of Franck’s should be widely circulated, a project was started that it be printed in the House. A press was procured, types and ink bought, a printer hired, and the sermon was published. This was the beginning of the publishing department, which, under the blessing of God, has expanded till it has become one of the first establishments of the kind in Germany. Not long after Francke began to publish, a great impetus was given to the effort by the unexpected proposal of the distinguished Spener, that one of his works should issue from the publishing department of the Orphan House. Thenceforward it became a power in the land; and now, not only are all the school-books used in the institution printed and bound under its own walls, but works in Hebrew and the Oriental languages have appeared, besides standard religious works. The whole management has been conducted with an eye to the good of the Church of Christ; nothing of doubtful character has been allowed to appear, and Francke’s wise and careful supervision has been bestowed on every work issued. The founts of types in the Greek, Hebrew, Syriac, and Arabic characters, are among the most complete in the land. Among the works of a learned character issued, may be mentioned Boyle’s Dissertation on the Style of the Scriptures, translated into French and German. The binding and printing-house have been self-supporting, as much of the labour is done by the larger lads in the schools.θ
Other Eleemosynary Departments.
Under the broad roof of the Orphan House are clustered besides all the agencies specified, a home for widows, an establishment for the care of poor people, in Glaucha (the suburb of Halle in which the buildings stand), and an establishment for strolling beggars.
And this great and comprehensive charity has all been carried into effect through the efforts of a single man! Who shall doubt the power of faith? who shall now doubt the power of prayer?
α The writer of this letter was later the founder of the Canstein Bible Society, an institution which publishes its works at Francke’s Orphan House, and sends them forth from there. It has been a great blessing to Germany, and is still in active operation. –Wm. Gage
β Acts xvii.28.
γ James v.16.
δ Romans iv.22, James ii.23.
ε cf Introduction, note α.
ζ ~46 meters
η Per Intro., note β, £34 millions/$42 millions/€41 millions.
θ The distinguished author of this letter does not refer to the great Bible-publishing department established by himself within the Orphan House, using its presses, binding, etc., and well known to this day as the Canstein Bible Depository, a most valuable means of circulating the Scriptures through Germany. Over five millions of Bibles have been scattered over the country through Baron Canstein’s efforts, and there is no cessation in the good work. I may remark that Canstein was the inventor of the art of stereotyping; he first applied it to the Bibles issued by him. –Wm. Gage
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