1757 - A short, reliable report from the church of the Unitas Fratrum...
The old Brethren had the special talent of being prolific writers, mostly preaching about Christianity and the Church. They had material from the New Testament, as well as from the Old Testament, and the words were almost all directly from the Bible. One could find, in each sentence, the words of the Holy Ghost. All of the sermons preached that Jesus Christ was the heart and guiding light of the Holy Scriptures. They spoke of his godliness and humanity, and especially of his status as the sacrificial lamb and as the redeemer through his own blood, by which, and only by which, one can become closer to God, and can and must become blessed and holy. He was the groom of their souls, their all and in all. In their works on salvation they stressed the story of Gods forgiving a poor sinner out of his own sheer goodness. This healing occurred only due to the sinners belief in the blood of Jesus and it led to an unending inner connection to Christ, through which one can and should receive the grace of God. God, who did not preserve his own son, but gave him to humanity and to the community of the Holy Ghost, and who gave him to his believers to teach them and lead them in the way of the truth, also gave Jesus to humanity so as to raise them, decorate them, and to soothe them as a mother would.
The old Brethren were even more prolific in their Hymns, which were normally a mixture of sections of both the Old and the New Testament. One can also see examples of this in the Brethrens Hymnals from the Bohemian Brethren who were in London in 1753. They were the first ones in the reformation of Hymnal Theology. The new Brethren copied the old song texts fairly happily, as one can see in the Augsburg
Confession and the Synod of Bern hymnals and in other Biblical songs. Their main concern is to sing of the commonness of the cross and the wounds of Jesus, and also of the whole Trinity in the person of Jesus Christ as written in Coloss. II, 9. They also have the trait of never singing a full song, but instead combining whole and half verses from many songs for their Singing Hour. The cantor immediately connects the material to a biblical text, the musicians play the score, and the whole community sings so well that one almost believes they were reading them out of a book. Even the children between the ages of 4 and 12, to the astonishment of outsiders, are so practiced that they often shine brighter than their elders.
It was already mentioned in § II that the Brethren use the name Unitas Fratrum. They adopted this name, instead of the first name Fratres Legis Christi, Brethren of the Laws of Christ, which had already been introduced by the Brethren in Lititz. This name had been twisted by antagonists. The Redeemers request and testament in Joh. XVII, that they would all be one", his words in Matt. XXIII 8, You are all one", and Pauls description of a community in Ephes. IV convinced them to take the name of Unitas Fratrum. Because they established brotherly relations with all Protestants and finally managed to become united with both Evangelical religions in Poland in the famous Consensa Sendomriensi, the name Unitas Fratrum took on a double meaning and also symbolized Brethren who lived in a union with all Evangelical persons. This has remained the same to this day and was never weakened. The Moravian Brethren, however, first publicly reclaimed their oldest name of Unitas Fratrum when they introduced the following items to the Synod: the three Tropis of the
Moravian, Lutheran, and Calvinist Churches, a new release of their old sites and polities in the general Synods in which one can actually search for the Unity, and two Summi Theologi from the Lutheran and Reformed Churches.
Tropus is the special style and way that a particular group in the Church of the Brethren works to understand and to dispense the knowledge of the godly truth. The Brethren did not wish to be wiser than their forefathers. As it was with them, many people from both Evangelical religions joined with the Brethren and the Brethren kept the different Tropos separate. This was done to avoid a mixing within the community that could lead to an indifference of religion or to a secret sect. The different paths to understanding the truth could manage to avoid each other with unnoted accrual and without much of an uproar, and the stronger would not wish to annihilate the weaker. The Tropi avert the appearance of a dropping away from the religion that one was born and raised in and the hatred that comes of this state. Those who chose to leave the Brethren were treated as children who did not share their parents senses. The decision to separate the Tropi held the door to other Evangelical religions open for them, so that they could return to the places that they came from without a great uproar. All three have the same prestige and rights in the Synodo, and the Tropus which had the most wisdom in it had the most weight at the time.
The Synodus is either provincial or general. The former is a meeting
that is called into session each year by the Senioribus politicis. The collaborators are delegated workers from each community in a province. The Chor-Episcopi and the Senioris politici preside as all of the affairs of each community from the preceding year are discussed and, at the discretion of the provinces, henceforth dealt with.
The Synodus generalis is a meeting that happens every three years and is called into session by the chief secretary of the Unity. Delegates who have been given full authority come from each of the communities which take part in the provincial synods. The Vogts-Hof and the members of the disciples house also attend. the Advocati, the Ordinarii Unitatis, the bishops, and the Administratorum Troporum preside as the ground rules for the whole constitution are closely inspected. The decisions made by the provincial synods are endorsed or improved and the items which pertain directly to individual provinces, communities, Collegium, or to the constitution itself are organized.
Each person who is present has the unrestricted freedom to speak and all are kept under control by the intellect of the community and by the celebratory atmosphere of the meeting. When an item has been thoroughly discussed, the various members either agree silently, or a stance is reached by a majority vote. The presiders review the issue and make a decision. Important items which have been thoroughly debated but for which no clear decision can be made are decided by the outcome of the daily text, to be decided as the Father would have it. While the authority of the Brethren did not mean that they accepted the Synodos as the absolute truth but, due to reasons known well to both sides, they do not wish to be asked about it. It is not only the delegated who are invited as all of the Brethren are very welcome to attend. In addition to attending, they demand to confirm the Synodi.
Because the Synodus generalis only meets every three years it is represented by the Vogtshof and the disciples house between meetings. These groups are aided by their collateral council, whose members are in uninterrupted communication with the communities, their choirs, and the various departments. These same individuals also hold council days when it is deemed necessary. All of the deputies from the communities who are able to attend without wasting time or defaulting on other responsibilities come to these council days to dispose of the most pressing affairs in the communities or departments. If the situation necessitates it, a deputy of the Synodo, from the bishops, the Senioribus politicis, from the choir presbyters, or, at the least, a Diacono will be sent to see how it is going in the community and its choirs. Such Visitationes, which are a reinforcement for the community and its workers, happen at least every three years and are at the expense of the Visitatorum or those who send them. It is so, that those who request them freely care for them.
Because certain persons and offices were previously mentioned in this report, we would now like to provide a brief description of them.
An Advocatus, in English a reeve who protects and shields, is simply a word, very common in piss causis, that originally meant that kings would be your caregivers and their princesses your wet nurses. In modern times, when used in religions, it does not so much refer to fostering as it does to advising and warning against incompetence, as one does not even share in the theology of the people that one represents. In this way many German, evangelical princes, Advocati Monasteriorum, were responsible not just for their own religion,
but also for the Catholic religion. In the Ober-Lausitz evangelical estates they were reeves for the Catholic monasteries.
In the old Church of the Brethren Kings Podiebrad and Vladislaus and Kaisers Maximillian II and Rudolph II filled this role. Later, it was filled by pietistic princes in Schlessen and by their successors in the Brandenburg electorate. In Poland, the position was taken by various Palatinates in succession. Because none of the great forces of the earth were looking after the well being of the Brethren after 1699, a new order had to be established. This order must adhere to the requirements of the Matter of the Sovereigns as stated in the Jure publico. This was reserved and preserved specifically for them. At the same time it had to fall within the bounds of a simple syndicate office and, in consideration of the colonial and institutional Etablissemens, a house father office.
At this time Sir Heinrich the XXVII, Count and Lord of Plauen represents this office. He is a direct descendent of the princes of Bohemia and Schleisen who first sheltered the Brethren. Count Christian Renati von Zinzendorf, who refused the candidacy for this office and did not wish to be connected to any businesses of the soul, together with his wife who has an ancestral double right to nurture the church, insisted that his above named son be named the heir to the Ordinario Fratrum. He directs the same in England under the name of Lord Deputy, which is common in such cases. His collateral council is made up of the Seniores politicos and the agents of the Church of the Brethren, especially the chancellor, vice-chancellor and the steward, who looks after the goods.