New Church Worthies
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Bayley
DR. IMMANUEL TAFEL and GUSTAV WERNER,
The New Church in Germany and Switzerland
THE earliest Germans that we know to have become interested in the spiritual experiences of Swedenborg were Heinric Jung Stilling, counsellor of the Grand Duke of Baden, and Oettinger of Murrhard; the latter an inhabitant of the kingdom of Wurtemburg, which also gave to the New Church, Dr. Immanuel Tafel, the uncle of the present Dr. Rudolf S. Tafel, of Camden Road, London.
Dr. Oettinger was really a contemporary of Swedenborg, and received several letters from him.
Both these learned and excellent men fully received the testimony of Swedenborg as to the FACTS OF HIS SEERSHIP, and his relations of what he saw and heard in his intercourse with the inner and eternal world; but they do not seem to have made much progress in the study of the Arcana, and the perception of the SPIRITUAL SENSE OF THE WORD, or the states and progress of the REGENERATE LIFE. Oettinger wrote a book called—Earthly and Heavenly Philosophy of Swedenborg and Others: and Stilling published a work in two volumes entitled Spiritual Scences in the World of Spirits.
The chief use of these distinguished and early students, was to hand on the knowledge of the truth they were able to receive, and awaken others.
We have referred to Stilling as the one whose commendation of Swedenborg induced Oberlin to read and receive the new information concerning Heaven, and now we have to mention that in Dr. Immanuel Tafel, whose piety was much strengthened and directed by reading Stilling, a much more potent and diligent worker in the Lord's vineyard was awakened in Germany; one of those brave and holy souls, true apostolic men, who affect a nation, or an age.
Having had much to do with Dr. Tafel during his life, having visited him in the noble old ducal castle, now used as the library of the University under his charge, overlooking the plain of the Neckar, and enjoyed his hospitality in his home, and then with clear Mr. Watson being charged to arrange his affairs, dispose of his immense accumulation of books, and comfort his family at his death—I necessarily became intimately aware of his labours and his worth.
From his early youth upwards Dr. Tafel's life was one the young may profitably follow, and the mature may esteem and admire, as that of a diligent and faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, whom Germany has yet to receive as King of kings, and Lord of lords. By Him their intellectual strength would then be made gentle by the softness of love, which forms the yoke that is easy, the burden that is light, and gives to its possessor REST unto his soul.
Immanuel Tafel was born February 17, 1796, at Sulsbach on the Kocher; he was therefore at his decease sixty-seven years of age. He was the son and grandson of ministers of the Lutheran Church. His father was Christian Frederick Tafel, deacon of Baknang, where he died in 1814; his mother was a daughter also of a Lutheran minister—John Emmanuel Horn, of Tham—a pious, loving partner of her husband, and an inestimable blessing to her children. Both parents strove that their children, four brothers, should have the best information which their limited means afforded. The mother especially, as her son gratefully testifies, made every possible sacrifice in their family arrangements for this desirable end. Immanuel was the eldest son; and his parents arranged for the commencement of his education at Stuttgart, as affording advantages which he could by no means obtain in the small town which constituted the pastoral charge of his father.
Happily at Stuttgart there resided a second-cousin on his mother's side, a mechanical instrument maker, named Baumann, a man of great talent and modesty, who not only received Immanuel but also his three brothers into his house, and watched over their education with the same mild and pious spirit which had blessed them in their paternal home. Mr. Baumann used to read in the evening to his family, and very often from the works of Stilling; and young Tafel became so much interested that he soon began to read these works for himself, and they awakened and strengthened in him, while only a boy, an interest in eternal things. He was confirmed in 1809; and although on his showing considerable talent for engraving, and for scientific study, his relative Baumann wished his father (who intended him for the church) to let him follow a more worldly career—and he did work in his employment for a year—yet an inclination the most decided still determined him to continue a classical and theological career. Stilling, whom he chiefly read, occupied, as many of our readers will know, a sort of advanced position in the Old Church towards the New. Though so young, now fifteen, he was pious and careful to assist his parents, and to take care of his brothers, which we learn from a letter he wrote them at this time, dated December 2nd, 1811:—
"I can write you nothing better, dear brothers, than to pray you to lay the following things to heart; 1st, Give no occasion for anything un pleasant to happen in the house; 2nd, Be ready to render service to each person in the house, of course with difference as to position; never intruding your services, which also might be injurious to yourselves and others; when your uncle or aunt refuses anything, be sure to be obedient; 3rd, Always live in peace with one another, and never forget your prayers; 4th, Keep everything in order, do everything at its proper time, and when you have something to do to which you are not accustomed, pay great attention. Look well to your clothes, and remember that your parents are not rich. These are important points, and I hope you will follow them out."
How well would it be if every boy at fifteen was qualified and thoughtful enough to write such a letter! When he was seventeen years of age he first learnt something of the writings of Swedenborg. He had known previously what Stilling said of him, partly favourable, partly unfavourable. Shortly however he met with The Universal Theology, at the house of George Frederick Hoffacker, of Nierklingen; and he was struck with the teaching concerning the Divine Trinity, which appeared to him scriptural, clear, and fully proved. He plainly saw that God was NOT in three persons, but in one only, yet in this one there was a threefold distinction, like that of the soul, the body, and the influence proceeding from both together. The Godhead from eternity he saw was the Father; the Divine Humanity the Son; and the Holy Spirit the overflowing power going forth from both, and operating in angelic human hearts and minds. He desired to read this book through; but when he came to the chapter entitled The belief that the Passion of the Cross is Redemption itself is a fundamental error, &c., his prejudices were offended. He knew Stilling did not teach this. He consulted his father, whose residence was only five miles away, and his father thought Swedenborg in this was wrong. "However," he thought again, "Can God, who is love itself, and who has placed this warm love of truth within the breast, have done so without having determined to satisfy it? Has He not promised help to those who earnestly seek the truth? Has He not said, 'Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you?'" He prayed earnestly to the Lord that He would enlighten him, and show him what was truth. Then there came into his mind a strong desire to read more of Swedenborg. He examined the doctrine of Redemption, and closely compared it with the Holy Scripture, and convinced himself that it was thoroughly supported by the Word of Truth, and that he and others had been in great error. He was equally satisfied of the truth of the teaching of Swedenborg respecting Justification, and he saw the sublime lesson that no man had any merit in the sight of God, yet he was not prepared for Heaven by FAITH ONLY, but by willing and doing as well as by believing; and that THE CLAIMS ON THE PART OF MAN OF THE MERITS OF CHRIST WAS AN EXPRESSION ENTIRELY WITHOUT SENSE; that the forgiveness of sins took place only as we in the future course of life abstained from evil in the sight of the Lord. For the doctrine that man cannot keep the commandments of God, and that it is not necessary for salvation to do so, he conceived a great aversion.
On the other hand, the more he read the more the personal characteristics of Swedenborg gained upon him. He could not but admire his great modesty, his calm clearness, and the gentle feeling that filled all he said; and his heart was won.
To some near and dear friends, however, he communicated his new views, especially on the Lord and the Divine Trinity, and explained and sustained them with great clearness and power, considering his youthfulness. At this time also he writes—
"I had many inner experiences which I shall never forget. Once when I was walking in the forest between Merklingen and Flacht, while I was deeply pondering on eternal truths, all around me seemed as if it were glorified, and I was as if Heaven were opened to me. The same thing happened again one morning in Merklingen itself. I was contemplating the spiritual sense of Scripture, and especially the inner meaning of certain passages, and I believe I felt how this sense united us to Heaven and placed us in the very presence of the Lord."
In June, 184 his worthy father died, and this circumstance led him to change his situation at Merklingen for one near to his mother, that he might live with her and assist her. He was enabled also to take one of his brothers, Guttlob, as assistant to himself; and by the kindness of a friend in Sconberg, to obtain a. situation for another brother. He continued to fulfil the duties of his situation, and to rise in the confidence and esteem of all connected with him up to his twenty-first year, when he arranged to go to Tübingen with his mother and brothers, and to work out in full his University course. This he accomplished with great success, having obtained the highest testimonies from all the professors, and during the same time he had greatly extended his acquaintance with Swedenborg, and had enjoyed the happiness of introducing the doctrines of the New Church to several most valuable and most highly esteemed individuals.
He preached with great acceptance on a variety of occasions, and already two ministers had applied for him to become their assistant as soon as he was entirely at liberty.
It is remarkable that he had not yet read either the Arcana Coelestia or the Apocalypsis Revelata. These works were in the Royal library, most likely as presents from Swedenborg himself; and now, his University course being fully completed, young Tafel commenced to read them, and he says—
"So soon as I had read the first chapter of the Arcana Coelestia, the scales completely fell from my eyes. I saw clearly that Swedenborg could never from his own ability have originated so connected, so wonderful, so spiritual, so completely carried out a sense as that here attributed to the Holy Scriptures. The unsealing of the Word appeared to me an ever-increasing miracle, not certainly a miracle to the senses, but to the reason, of man." A similar experience and conviction was related to me, by one of the greatest writers on Natural History of the present day. Young Tafel now felt an inward freedom to speak to others respecting Swedenborg, upon proper occasions, and a strength which he felt would fit him to become a faithful soldier of the Lord.
Once when he was at an evening party with a great number of students from North Germany and Switzerland, Krummacher, afterwards so celebrated as an author, called out to him—"Eh! Tafel, are not you a Swedenborgian?" He felt at first inclined to say he was neither ian nor ist of any kind, but only wished to be a true Christian. However he thought that would look like being ashamed of truths he felt were divine, so he replied: "Yes, I am; I have examined the Scriptures, and by the closest logic of a true interpretation the doctrines he teaches are fully proved." He had been known at the University as the "Pious Tafel." There were four Tafels there at the same time, each had his peculiar name, and Immanuel was the "pious." It was a name not unmerited, as a glance we will now give at his private journal will abundantly evince. He was now twenty-three. The following are the entries which we translate from his private journal, beginning with Feb. 16, 1819, that our readers may have the character of this most excellent man fully before them:—
"Ah! Lord, give me Thyself, and I ask no more either of heaven or earth. Merciful Lord Jesus Christ, lead me ever more and more in thine own way. Impart to me the gift of Thy Holy Spirit. Make me to become a useful instrument in Thy hands. Forward my studies, and so direct them that I may never lose sight of Thee and Thy kingdom as the end of all my efforts. The more I am myself united to Thee, the more can I lead others into this blessed union. O Lord, be ever near to me. Help me rightly to know the secret inclinations of my corrupt heart; and through Thy power ever to walk in Thy goodness, for without Thee I can do nothing. Give me ever a real horror of sin, and a real pleasure in all that is good. Lead, O Lord, all our family to Thee as the Fountain of Life, and let their hearts have no rest until they find it in Thee. O Lord there are a thousand means in Thy hands to touch the hearts of our free spirits and dispose them to faith. O withhold not these from my brothers, also from my friends, relatives and acquaintances, all of whom I desire, O Lord, to include in this my prayer.
"16 Feb., 1819.—Draw us all evermore to Thee, and fill us evermore with Thy spirit of wisdom and love. Help also our oppressed fatherland, and the whole world. Oh! let Thy kingdom come!
"17th Feb.—To-day is MY BIRTHDAY, and I wish to renew all my good purposes in Thy sight. But Lord, Thou knowest our weaknesses, do Thou give me strength. Once more will I give myself to Thee. Oh impress upon me the determination to walk holily in Thy presence. O beloved Saviour fill me with Thy power, that I may win others to Thee. Afford me, O Lord, that love of which I am so needy. Grant me also courage that I may not sink. Regulate also my outward lot, according to Thy good pleasure, and grant that it may ever lead me to Thee.
"18th Feb.—O Lord Jesus Christ, grant that my yesterday's resolutions may spread throughout my life. Impress them upon my heart and enable me every moment to see what is Thy gracious will. Yesterday, O Lord, I was not entirely in Thy presence; but, O Lord, to-day be the light unto my feet and my salvation.
"19th Feb., half-past five in the morning.—O Lord, how far is my heart from Thee? O Lord, what is the cause that so often not Thy will but mine comes ever forward?—that Thy voice is not followed, but I take counsel of flesh and blood? What a phlegmatic being I am, especially when Thy commandments require obedience. Too much am I swayed by humour, by circumstances, by times. Strengthen me and give me courage, O Lord. Let my pleasure be ever more and more in Thee, and give, Lord, full success in my studies.
"20th Feb.—O, Heavenly Father, again yesterday I continued not in Thy presence. Have patience with Thy disobedient child. Draw me mightily to Thee, for in Thee alone I find that rest which the world cannot give. I fell into an outburst of ill-feeling with my brother, and gave way to external passion. Oh, how can such failings be well pleasing in Thy sight! O, lead me back to Thee and Thy divine order. Give me, O Lord, a deeper love of Thee, and lead me again to Thy commandments, and regulate all my inclinations. If it is Thy will, grant me my wish of to-day, and let me have a dwelling in the town. Help me in my studies. Be with me, my kinsmen, my acquaintances, my fatherland, and the whole human race.
"21st Feb.—O Lord, my heart is often far from Thee, yet raise me to Thyself. Return, O dear Lord Jesus, to me, and drive out every inclination which is opposed to Thee. Grant me love and delight in my duty. Give me, O gracious Father, that wisdom which I so much lack. Give me an insight into Thy Holy Word and a true love for it. Give me a sound body, that I may have in it a healthy soul. O God, I am guilty in Thy sight of extravagance. I have spent too much. How much better it would have been if I had spent the same sum upon my mental improvement, or for the Missionary or Bible Society, or any other benevolent work! Forgive me, O Lord, for my unrighteous stewardship.
"22nd Feb., quarter to five, morning.—O Lord! I mourn once more over yesterday. My tongue is not yet well ordered in Thy sight. The impure scenes around me were allowed to rise up in my mind, and I was too little resolved to defend Thine honour where it was necessary. In the Church, too, I allowed my thoughts to wander, and I was not true to my promise to meet my friend in time. Alas! what will become of me? But Lord, have patience with Thy disobedient child. Fill me with Thy Spirit of love and faith. Help me by Thy goodness to withstand what is wicked. Help me especially to withstand that wicked one.
"23rd Feb.—Lord God, while I thank Thee for the rest Thou hast given me this night to enjoy, I beseech Thee also to forgive me for my many sins of yesterday. Ungovernable, I am prone to self. I am careless in my college duties. O help me to draw near to Thee. Let me not lie down in my sinfulness. Grant me power to resist evil and do good. Help also my brothers, Lord. Give them a direction to what is good, and my friends, and my kinsmen, and my fatherland, and the human race. And if, Lord, it is agreeable to Thy will, give our cloister a better government—give us our freedom. Thou willest that we should serve Thee from freedom, not from constraint. Unite also our college government and that of the King, to see that true goodness can only be attained upon the ground of freedom. I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for the light Thou gavest me yesterday in my studies, in which I sought the law by which the highest conceptions are attained. Bring me still further in my studies. Without especial hindrance I will refrain from supper and go early to bed, that I may rise at least at three.
"24th Feb.—I thank Thee for this night's rest. Last evening, O Lord, I was not as I ought to be. I was ill-tempered. O help me Lord yet to find the right way. The path is so narrow and the door so strait that leads to life, yet give me power to stand on the former and to enter the latter. I give Thee thanks, O Lord, for the gift of light over my studies with which Thou hast still blessed me.
"25th Feb., half- past three, morning.—I thank Thee, O Lord, for my preservation during the night and the day that are passed. Oh, make me freer from self. Enable me to be constantly good in Thy sight. Lead my brothers back into Thine own way. Give them no peace until they are restored. Be with my friends, acquaintances, and my family, my fatherland, and the whole world. O Lord, grant me wisdom, active love, and peace."
The report had spread that Dr Tafel was a Swedenborgian. His position became then (1821) the subject of discussion both publicly and privately. Some maintained he could hold office in the Lutheran Church, some that he could not. There were three clergymen who offered to take him as vicar (curate) if he signed the regular forms. There were eight clergymen known to him who were receivers of the writings and preached the doctrines. He gave his own views respecting his position in relation to the Church in a letter which we translate:—
"As soon as I came here I found a permission from the Government giving me the year I sought to travel, and requiring me on my return to appear for my examination preparatory to taking holy orders, when it would be seen whether my views are indeed an obstacle to my entering the Church of my country. At present it is required that a candidate should sign the articles of religion as contained in the authorised doctrinal works (chiefly the Augsburg Confession of Faith drawn up by Melancthon), and if this is to be insisted upon unconditionally I can never enter the ministry, for I am satisfied that these books have falsified the Word, and undermined all true religion. I am a Protestant, and I protest against every kind of Pope, and all human interference in matters of faith; and I will not sear my conscience for gain of any kind. I can labour without any church office, the Lord can make me useful without any human appointment, and I can make my necessities very small. People shall never say that my proceedings are matter of reproach. I know whom I serve, and He will never leave me. The New Church needs for her acknowledgment nothing underhand—no subterfuge, but real truth and uprightness. When our requirements are few in eating, drinking, and clothes, and when we spend anything we have superfluous to further the Lord's divine will, what a blessed reward we have! As my prospect of entering the Church is so slight, I am not so anxious about my journey immediately; and I wish to give myself to a thorough study of religious history. However, I will not go my own way, but look to the Lord for direction. He shall dispose of me, and my only care shall be to make myself as far as possible a fitting instrument in His hands to forward His kingdom."
Ultimately it ended in Dr. Tafel refusing to sign, and he was not allowed to enter the Church without. He proceeded with his work of publishing, and first he issued the Doctrine of the Lord.
In each successive issue for some time Dr. Tafel was attacked in the newspapers and reviews, and in various ways, but he well maintained his ground, and was the means of introducing the truth to a considerable number of receivers; and his great learning was generally acknowledged. His position too was improved by an offer from the Government of the office of Librarian of the University, but accompanied by the condition, that while he held that appointment he must cease directly or indirectly to publish Swedenborg's or other similar works. This offer was made September 4th, 1825, and the appointment at first was for a given time—a year only. At the end of the year it was confirmed, but still with the condition affixed. It was hard for Dr. Tafel to brook this condition; but it was smoothed by the assurance that the Government by no means wished to interfere with his personal convictions, and besides, he must remember that Rome was not built in a day. He accepted the appointment. This condition remained until the 25th March, 1829. Dr. Tafel had become so uneasy under it, that he had petitioned the King, for conscience sake, and stated that if the condition of not publishing the works of Swedenborg were persisted in, he must resign, as he felt it was a duty the Lord required of him. In reply, he had the happiness of receiving a renewal of the appointment without any conditions. The obstacle had continued THREE YEARS AND A-HALF.
From that time on he continued indefatigably to labour, republishing the Latin works, and thus reducing their price from £52 for a copy of the Arcana to about £5, and others in proportion, and at the same time translating into German every New Church work he thought calculated to benefit the Church in his country—the Catechism, the Liturgy, tracts, &c. The catalogue of publications which he has thus brought out included SEVENTY-FOUR distinct works; many of them, it is true, tracts, but many containing several volumes each. It is indeed a wonderful monument of the labour of one man, patiently continuing for forty years—little praised, often assailed—using all his available means to forward the Lord's kingdom for conscience sake.
Dr. Tafel married, August 22, 1832, a lady the daughter of Herr Müllensiefen, one of the earliest receivers of the principles of the New Church in Germany. Herr Müllensiefen was a Prussian, of Westphalia, and heartily embraced the doctrines in 1782. Dr. Tafel's marriage at my first visit had been a happy one, and blessed with nine children, five daughters and four sons. The youngest was a young lady of thirteen, the next older a youth of sixteen still at school. Two sons were in America.
The length of this sketch will preclude our dwelling upon the incidents connected with his several publications, and the circumstances of his visits to us in 1851, and also his visits to Switzerland for the encouragement of the friends of the New Church in that country. He had a quarterly meeting of the brethren in Stuttgart, which he called a Conference, and at which I have been present, when about 100 attended.
We will conclude this article by the description from Fraulein Cönring, a German lady, (but for several years resident in Sweden, on a visit to Switzerland and to him,) of the whole period of his leaving home to his decease, drawn up at our request, and only adapted by us to English readers. This deeply interesting document, we are assured, will be read with eagerness by all our friends, as the last sketch of one whom we have long known, loved, respected and revered; one of the Church's best members on earth, and one best prepared to be a pillar of the New Jerusalem in Heaven.
THE LAST DAYS OF DR. TAFEL, BY FRAULEIN CÖNRING
I had been kindly invited to the assembly at Zurich, and it had been arranged that I should join Dr. Tafel there, and visit with him the members of the New Church in Switzerland. I was however agreeably surprised to meet him at the station at Stuttgart, and we were then enabled to travel together to Friedrichshafen. This was on the 14th August. On the steamer we had a long conversation about religion, and the blessings of the doctrines of the New Church, which, he said, ought to be accepted by every reasonable and reflecting person.
On this and on the following day, though poorly, he was cheerful. As we dined, looking at the strangers around us, he observed in English, "The Church of the Lord is an invisible one. He only knows who are His." Another time he said, "The uniform is no matter; many a person in the Old Church may be BETTER THAN I AM. Neither is the quantity of work we do the thing we have to care for; the one needful thing is to abstain every day from all that is wrong, and thus purify ourselves. So even our Divine Saviour purified the human He derived from His mother."
He returned several times to the subject of his projects concerning the New Church in Germany, the Printing Society, &c.; yet leaving the whole with entire confidence to the Lord. We reached Ragatz on Saturday the 15th, about three in the afternoon. On Sunday morning, before he was obliged to seek his bed, he remarked, "I don't say with Paul, I have a desire to depart and be with Christ." I replied, "Why not?" He then said, "In early life I had always an ARDENT DESIRE TO DIE, and thus to leave this world of darkness and of sin; but it is so no more. Eternity is sure to come; but while we live here we can be active to spread divine truth, and be useful to the kingdom of the Lord; and I have still much that ought to be done." Then he spoke about the Concordance of the Spiritual Sense of the Bible, at which work he particularly wanted assistance. He was compelled to retire early in the day to bed, and a physician was sent for. Though the symptoms appeared grave, the physician declared there was no danger. The same assurance was strangely enough repeated every day, though violent pains, and a total absence of appetite, seemed to indicate inflammation of the bowels. After his sudden death, the medical man stated that such was the fact.
Though he suffered much, and was hardly one moment free from pain, he NEVER UTTERED A MURMUR, but showed the most pious and enduring patience—that of a true Christian. Until the last night, his thoughts were perfectly clear, yet he spoke but little, from weakness. Still his soul was evidently occupied by the highest objects, and lifted up in prayer to the Lord. He did not think death so near, neither did we. He hoped to recover. He wished to go on and meet his dear friends at Zurich.
Even in the delirium, which took place the last night, there was no horror at all; on the contrary, even the vague utterances of his imagination only manifested a good and holy soul, in which no room was left for anything evil. At the last there was no visible combat, no agony; only twice in the last night did he lift his hands to be raised. About nine o'clock in the morning he became extremely pale, his hands and feet became cold, and about an hour afterwards his eyes shone for a moment with inexpressible splendour; then the eyelids sank half down, and without a sigh or a movement he passed away. His soul had ceased to communicate with his body.
This was August the 29th, at about ten in the morning. Two days after and the body—the organ of his dear and active soul—was interred in the Roman Catholic burial-ground at Ragatz, near the tomb of Schelling.
His brother, and son Theodore, and many New Church friends, who had hastened thither hoping to find the dear one still alive, only arrived in time to take part in the funeral, at which also were present a great number of the inhabitants of Ragatz, as well as strangers. I look back at the last days of our lamented friend, and brother in the Lord, with unmingled veneration, and am grateful that I had such an opportunity of intercourse with one of the Lord's servants—one of the truest and the best.
On learning the news of the departure of Dr. Tafel, and being aware from our knowledge of his life's long devotion to the re-publication of the Works in Latin, necessary to make them accessible to students, that no time had been left him to make even a modest provision for his widow and family, (before his time a copy of the Original Arcana required £50 for its purchase, he had also his German Translations and numerous defensive works,) the friends of the Swedenborg Society felt a vivid desire to render help where it was so much needed and so well deserved.
They requested therefore the treasurer Mr. Watson, and myself, as known to the family, to go with an address of condolence, and to advise and aid on the part of the Society whatever kind feeling and wise discretion might suggest.
We left London in September, 1863,and passed rapidly through France and Switzerland, going from Zurich over Lake Constance to Friedrickshafen, to Stuttgart, and so to Tubingen, which is situated on the river Neckar, about twenty miles from Stuttgart, the capital of the kingdom of Wurtemburg. We can reach Tubingen now, however, by rail. As we approached the fine old castle, on the heights overlooking the beautiful valley and the town where Professor Tafel had so many years lived and worked for the New Church, our hearts were deeply moved. We knew his widow and family were now in mourning and perplexity. As I was known to them, the introduction was soon over, and a conversation explaining their sorrows preceded on the one side, the kindest consolations from the New Church in England being offered on the other; the sympathies of the Church being gratefully accepted and acknowledged. The difficulties of Madame Tafel's position were freely laid before us, and our best advice and assistance requested.
There were five daughters at home, and one son still at school. Dr. Tafel's entire efforts had been given to the New Church for forty years, and the results were (besides the number of persons to whom his labours and writings had imparted the truth) thousands of books, which remained on hand from the editions he had printed, and which could not be sold in any way to relieve sensibly their necessities. The family were compelled also to remove to modest apartments, instead of their now spacious dwelling, so that it would be totally impossible to store the mass of books. We desired to see them, and, were shown FIVE ROOMS FILLED, and subsequently an EIGHT-STALLED STABLE ALSO CROWDED WITH BALES OF VOLUMES AND SHEETS. The great bulk was of Latin works, the new editions of all Swedenborg's publications, of which Dr. Tafel had generally published 1,000 of each volume, and sold probably about 100. He felt sure they would have value some day; and, though the burden was great, in the meantime, he yet worked bravely on.
There were also the German works, but of these a much larger number had been sold, as they were published, and there was a greater likelihood also of a sale in a reasonable time for what remained. Besides Dr. Tafel had only translated four volumes of the Arcana, and not all of the other printed works of Swedenborg. The number of German books on hand was comparatively manageable.
We were at first astonished at the magnitude of the affair with which we had to deal. We went to our hotel, and for a time felt the difficulty so great, that all we could resolve to do was, on the next and following days, to apply ourselves with the assistance of the family to take account of what there was, and to continue until we could make an inventory. This we did, and day after day toiled at it until a complete account could be made out and sent to London. The result was that we felt we might assure the family that the Church in England and America would give £500 certainly, perhaps more, but not less, and take and manage all the books.
This proposition was evidently a flash of sunshine in the gloom. In carrying it out we offered half the Latin Works to our American friends, and invited them to raise and present to Madame Tafel and the family half the proposed amount. This was most liberally done, so that more than THREE TIMES what had been promised was given. These efforts of the Church, as I have said, were gladly and gratefully accepted by Madame Tafel and her family; and ere we left for Stuttgart we took occasion to present in a kind and solemn manner the address of condolence from the New Church in England, which was printed in the October number of the Intellectual Repository.
Madame Tafel replied to the address with deep emotion, and acknowledged the kindness which had dictated all that had been done, in terms of the most touching character, assuring the deputation that the fraternal regards and attention of the New Church in this trying period of her hour of mourning would ever be remembered with esteem and affection.
We took our leave grateful that the Lord had enabled us to be of use in a cause so really deserving of our best help, and trusting that our brethren at home would enable us to make good all that we had ventured to propose to be undertaken. Having accomplished what required our joint judgment, although much of a detailed character remained to be done, we parted at Stuttgart, Mr. Watson to join some friends who awaited him at Heidelberg, and I to return to Tubingen, and finish the work that remained, which took several additional days; and what is added relates only to myself.
On Sunday, September 27th, 1863, I went to Reutlingen, where I had long known Gustav Werner resided, a college friend of Dr. Tafel, and like himself unable to sign those formularies which contain the erroneous systems of the Old dispensation. I had also known that this excellent New Churchman had for many years been fostering institutions for educating and employing the poor and helpless, especially poor orphan children; and I resolved to see for myself all he was doing. I passed a most interesting day. Werner is a man probably fifty-seven years of age; his wife about the same, an admirable helpmeet for him.
On reaching the small town of Reutlingen by rail, I inquired for the Institution, and soon found it. Werner was known and universally respected. He commenced more than twenty years ago, having no children of his own, to take in and sustain some orphan children. He had more and more who applied, and he took them in, and preached in the churches, and had collections for their support. This continued, and grew, until he found it necessary to strike out some employment for the young people, and he took some land and sold the produce. He believed that he ought not to turn any suffering applicants away, if they would learn to work, and be obedient to the rules. He preaches the principles of the New Church, and the spirit of those principles reigns in all the arrangements of his Institution. This Institution has grown, until at Reutlingen there are 644 poor persons—131 children under 14 years of age. There are twenty-four branch institutions including in the whole 1,746 persons. These are clothed, fed, lodged, and cared for bodily and spiritually. They pursue trades of different kinds. At Reutlingen there are mechanics' shops, moulding shops, furniture shops, agriculture, and agricultural machine making, cloth weaving, stocking weaving, ribbon weaving, engraving jewellery, bookbinding, the grinding of corn, and some other businesses, besides school-teaching. Over all is the spirit of love.
I heard Mr. Werner address his congregation, consisting of part of his Institution, and people from the town who joined them. He was earnest, clear, and eloquent. He preached the necessity of regeneration, and I felt delighted with what I heard and saw.
After the sermon we had a long conversation. He had long known me by name, and welcomed me gladly. He took me over the Institution, and then asked me if I would dine with his large family, and on their humble fare. He stripped some of his clothes, to make himself like a waiter, while he served out the meat. They sung a grace; four hundred sat down together, and I sat and ate with them, and rejoiced that the Lord had filled this good man with His Spirit to accomplish so great a work. I took my leave in the evening, accompanied by Mr. Hahn, one of the committee, whom I found to be an intelligent New Churchman, and returned delighted to Tubingen on foot, the distance being only seven miles.
It is interesting to consider that in these two excellent men the New Church was presented to Germany in its two chief aspects; its intellectual greatness and culture; its charity, stooping to raise and comfort the lowest, in Werner; and both in the central kingdom of Wurtemburg; for Wurtemburg and Bavaria form geographically and I think morally and intellectually a pivotal part of the great German Fatherland. For many years, now, direct and earnest efforts have been made in various parts with great missionary zeal to spread the truth in Germany and in German Switzerland.
Mr. Mittnacht, formerly in America, but now of Frankfort, has been of late years the mainspring of continual efforts to publish abroad the glad tidings that the Lord has come again in Higher Wisdom and in Grander Love, to restore the golden age. His zeal and untiring energy have stimulated others both in Switzerland and Germany.
Mr. Bauman, whom I knew at St. Gallen, the friends at Vienna, and the Rev. Mr. Gorlitz, in Wurtemburg, have been labouring in their Master's vineyard during the burden and heat of the day.
I cannot but hope and trust, and pray, that in the great German people the seed thus happily and plenteously sown may, in the Lord's good time, be blessed with rich and heavenly increase, some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold.