Julius Friedrich Sachse.

Justus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in online

. (page 7 of 9)
Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseJustus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in → online text (page 7 of 9)
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family. This was the case at Loonenburg (Athens) or
at a place called Klinkenbergh. He also lived for a time
at Calverack, and other outlying points, such as Prewen-

That notwithstanding his arduous duties, Dominie Falck-
ner still remained in touch with his clerical brethren on the
Delaware is shown by correspondence with them, and by
entries in the Diary of Pastor Andreas Sandel. The last
one reads :

"July 9, 1718. I sent same day by mail a packet to
New York, enclosed to Pastor Falkner, to be forwarded
by the first vessel bound for England." This letter has
reference to Pastor Sandel's journey to Sweden.

In addition to Dominie Falckner's arduous and exacting
duties incident to his widely separated charges and scat-
tered congregations, a factor arose towards the close of his
administration, which caused him much concern. This
was nothing less than the attempt of one Johann Bernhard
Van Dieren, a tailor by trade in New York, to usurp the
place as pastor in some of the congregations under Dominie
Falckner's charge. Van Dieren claimed to have been sent
to New York as a pastor by Rev. Boehme, court preacher
at St. James, London, but had no proof of his claim.

It was not known heretofore that Dom. Falckner was in
any manner involved in this controversy. The finding of
his correspondence by the present writer throws consider-
able light upon this episode in our early religious history.

It appears that Dominie Falckner wrote to the Swedish
pastors on the Delaware for advice in this matter, a trans-
lation of Dominie Andreas Hesselius', the Swedish provost
in America, Latin opinion is here presented : "

** Translation by Rev. H. E. Jacobs, D.D.

112 Dominie Justus Falckner.

"As to Bernhard Von Dieren I have been able to dis-
cover nothing except his singular zeal (would that it had
been more wisely directed) for serving the church which
he canvassed with such earnestness and such cares and
troubles. I only dread that much injury may result; for
if he be unfortunately transferred to administer affairs for
which he has not been fitted, he must neglect both his
order (?) and their duties, and corrupt those of others. If,
as he professes, he be actually a Lutheran, I wish, that,
being mindful of Luther's doctrine, he would acquiesce in
his words : ' Await the One who calls thee ; meanwhile,
be secure. ... If He (?) need thee. He will call thee.
No one is enriched by the word, unless one who, without
his wish, is called to teach.' How in every way this declar-
ation of Luther is harmonious with the practice of the an-
cient and purer church, the words of the Emperor Leo will
stand. The minister of the word of God ought to be so
free from ambition that he is to be sought for as one who
has to be constrained ; being asked for he retires, and
being invited he shrinks back. Let the necessity of mak-
ing an excuse be his own recommendation. Only he, is
worthy of the ministry who is ordained unwillingly.
" Such is the opinion of

" Andrew Hesselius, Pastor at
" Christiana and Provost of the

" Swedish Churches in Pennsylvania."

In a letter to Dominie Justus Falckner, dated 1721, on
the day of St. James the Apostle.

A partial account of Dom. Falckner's part in this con-
troversy will be found in the final chapter of this memorial.

Dominie Justus Falckner's married life proved of short
duration. We know but little of his movements, except





























































His Death. 113

what can be gleaned from his official entries, which show
that he continued to cover the whole territory of eastern
New York, Long Island and Staten Island.

The last entry found in his private diary, and copied into
the old church register by Pastor Knoll, shows that he was
at Phillipsburg early in September, 1723 :

" Sept. 4, 1723. Baptized at Phillipsburg " at the upper
mill, in the house of David Sturm, Johann Peter, born in
the middle of June ; ibidem. Father Pieter Hentz, mother
Maria, Witness Johann Birger."

After this his history becomes a blank, the only docu-
mentary notice being a memorandum made by Pastor Knoll
in the records of the Lutheran church at Newburgh :
" Pastor Justus Falcknenier, deceased. Anno, 1723."

According to the above record, which is no doubt correct,
Justus Falckner died at the early age of 51 years, after
having faithfully served the various congregations under
his charge for twenty years.

What were the circumstances of his sudden end cannot
be told. Whether he died alone among strangers, or amidst
his young family, is an unanswerable question. Not even
his burial place is known, nor whether he was buried with
the rites of the church in consecrated ground, or in some
imknown corner.

However, should any record be found to shed some light

•^ Philipsburgh or Philipsborough was a manor granted to Frederick
Philipse by royal charter in 1693. The lands continued in possession of
the family until 1779, when they were confiscated by the state of New York.
The manor included the present city of Yonkers and extended some dis-
tance above. Its boundaries, as defined in the charter, were as follows :

" All that tract of land upon the main, bounded to the north by a rivu-
let called by the Indians, Meccackassin, so running southward to Nepper-
han, from thence to the kill Shorackkapock and to Paparinnomo, which is
the southernmost bounds, then to go across the country, eastward by that
which is commonly known by the name of Bronx's river."

114 Dominie Justus Falclcner.

upon the last hours of this devout shepherd in the fold of
Christ, it will no doubt show that he died in the full per-
formance of his duty, true to his ordination vows.

As to his family, it is known that after the father's death
the widow with her three young children took up her
abode at Loonenburg, where the latter grew up in the
Lutheran Church, and were confirmed and married ac-
cording to its ritual.

One of the last official acts recorded by Dominie Berken-
meyer, prior to his death in 1744, was a baptism of a second
son of one of his church officers — Benedictus Falckner, a
grandson of his immediate predecessor.

Justus Falckner is represented by all accounts as a lovely,
winning character, a man of excellent gifts, good educa-
tion, fine mind, devout, of decided Lutheran opinions,
active and of great endurance. In fact, he was an ideal
pastor, who entered into his office with the full knowledge
that without God's grace nothing could be accomplished.
As has been shown, his field of labor extended along the
Hudson as far north as Albany and landward to Long
Island and Raritan in New Jersey.

His services, nominally confined to the Dutch and Ger-
mans of the Lutheran faith, were extended to all, irrespec-
tive of creed or color, as is proved by the mention of bap-
tisms of both negroes and Indians from the earliest days of
his ministry.

Nothing could show the devout and sincere mind of
Justus Falckner in bolder relief than the entries of his
official acts in the church register, a votiim being added in
every case.

From the documentary evidence come to light of late,
and which forms the basis of the majorit}' of these pages,
it is shown how the influence of the Pietists of Provincial

Greatest Monument. 115

Pennsylvania spread bej-ond the bounds of that Province
and extended over New York and the Jersej's. No matter
what the immediate causes maj' have been that induced the
Falckner brothers to leave their original home in America,
how the factor time is apt to set all matters right is evi-
denced in the historj^ of the elder Falckner and the contro-
version of the Pastorius slanders.

To the devout and pious Justus Falckner, who first came
to the western world as a Pietist and mystical Theosophist,
with the avowed intention there to prepare himself for the
coming of the Redeemer, history will ever point as one of
the most devout and sincere missionaries and brightest
characters in early German-American history.

Although for years almost forgotten by the present gen-
erations that now compose the congregations formerly
served by him, their very existence at the present day, after
the lapse of two centuries, and the fact of their still adher-
ing to the Lutheran faith as based upon the unaltered
Augsburg Confession, are his best monuments. They are
living memorials, far greater than either shafts of granite
or tablets of bronze made by the hands of man.

As a fitting close to this sketch may be quoted the con-
clusion of the ritual formerly used by the Theosophical
Brotherhood of which at one time he was a member —


The Van Dieren Controversy.


'HAT Dominie Justus
Falckner had more
or less trouble in his ex-
tended field of labor, is
an indisputable fact. It
has, however, not been
known heretofore that
Falckner was in any man-
ner concerned in what is
known as the Van Dieren

From an extended frag-
mentary report, found
among the loose papers in
the archives of the old Lutheran church in Amsterdam,
we obtain a clear insight into how this controversy arose,
together with Dominie Falckner's action in the premises.
We learn how a journeyman tailor married the daughter
of one of the officers of the New York church, and then
set himself up as a preacher. We also learn much of the
history of the New York congregation. Unfortunately the
last page of this report, bearing date and signature, is miss-


A Rare Pamfhlet. 117

jifilkm Chrijtoffel Berkemneyer^

Bcdienaars des Heyligcn Euangeliums van dc

Nederdujtfche Geineente

Nieiiw^Torh, Alhame en da^r on'trent,


derParochye dtxPahtymn hy^afaykf





Aande Hoog- en Neder-Duitfche LutherlaaHea

in defe Geweften,

eenfteitimig te zyn vertoont

tnct t»/( Brievot en andere Redenen Luthcrfcbcr I'beologditteHy

't Van Dierenfche Beroep,


De Henkelfche Beveftiging.

Te Niam-rcrk, by J. feter Linger, A- C. MDCCXXYin.


Il8 Dominie Justus Falchner.

ing. It is, however, undoubtedly in the handwriting of
Pastor Berkenmeyer, who was Falckner's immediate suc-
cessor, and it was his first report to the Amsterdam Con-
sistory upon his arrival in New York, September 22, 1725.

There appears a date, 1721, in pencil upon the first
page. This is correct, so far as it refers to the Latin letter
of Dominie Andreas Hesselius to Dominie Justus Falckner
which is appended to the report.

This report with the local matter left out formed the
basis for Berkenmeyer's controversial pamphlet printed by
Zenger in 1728, the title page of which we reproduce on
the opposite page.

William Christopher Berkenmeyers | Minister of the
Holy Evangels to the | Low Dutch congregation | at | New
York, Albany and parts adjacent | as well as | the Parish
of Palatines at Qjiassayk | Addicted to the Unaltered
A[ugsburg] C[onfession] [Faithful pastoral and guardian
Call I to the High and Low Dutch Lutherans | in these
wilds I to be of one accord, demonstrated | by two letters
and other fundemantals of Lutheran Theologians | Con-
cerning I the Van Dieren Vocation | and | The Henkel Ordi-
nation I At New York by J. Peter Zenger, A. C. 1728. |

The writer is indebted to Pastor Van Wijk, Jr., of the
Amsterdam clergy for a verbatim copy of this interesting
document, which gives us so many new and interesting
historical facts concerning our early religious history.

♦|^\IGHT Reverend, most learned, as also Most Noble
lt\ and Illustrious Sirs, particularly our Most Kind
and esteemed Patrons !

I regard it as m}' duty, not only to express my thanks in
particular to you, Right Reverend, Most Noble and most

Story of Van Dieren. 119

learned Sirs, for the favors which you extended to me dur-
ing my sojourn in Amsterdam and after my departure, in
the positive assurance that God will extend his blessing to
each and all of you, but also to advise you of what passes
here, and give you an accurate account how I found the
condition of this congregation upon my arrival.

The contentions within the congregation and the letter
resulting therefrom were caused by the following con-
ditions :

There is a member of our congregation in the city one
Johann Michael Schtitz, a tailor, who gave his daughter
unto a man who left the needle and assumed the pastoral
office, over which there had been many a dispute even
during the lifetime of Dominie Justus Falckner, who as
he felt his end approaching admonished the wardens and
vestrymen to seek their refuge with the Right Worshipful
Consistory at Amsterdam.

The only obstacle in their way, however, was the heavy
expense, which it was impossible for them to assume. In
this dilemma Johannes Sybrand, who was a seafaring man,
volunteered, as he then stood prepared to go to England,
to assume the personal expenses of the Dominie, and to
go over to Holland to procure [a pastor] from thence, pro-
vided that they would supply him with a collection-book.
Now as they imagined that they were not risking or were
responsible for more than the charges on the Dominie's
baggage, the majority, together with the most respectable
members, accepted the offer with great pleasure.

However, the before-mentioned Schiitz would not con-
sent to anj'thing, as he would gladly have seen a different
course taken in regard to his son-in-law, who was then at
Schohari. Albeit he did not permit himself to say or do
anything until an answer was received from your Right

I20 Dominie Justus Falckner.

Worshipful Consistory, stating that, without any previous
consent or authority of the congregations concerned, one
would hardly consent to come over ; furthermore that
nearly all here had lost all courage.

These facts Schiitz made use of, and not only induced
one of the Kerkenmeister, Andreas Van Buskerke (who was
one of the signers of the call frocnratum to Amsterdam)
together with the latter's brother and son, who live in the
country, to sign the contradictory missive, but also induced
Johann Jacob Bos and Michael Peper to do the same.

Now if we except Johann Michael Schiitz as the author
and his son J. H. Schiitz, all the remaining signers to
the missive are either persons who have already severed
themselves from our holy religion, as Godfried Heyns and
Johann David Koning, or such as only join in our commun-
ion as strangers, like Fridiricus Boolt and Uldrig Zimmer-
diinger ; or such as are scattered about the country far and
near, like Joh. Jacob Huttrot, Joh. C. Miiller, and A. Beem,
who has since returned to Newburg. Others are not even
known here by name. Further, of all the rest or at least
not a single one of them (exxepting the three Van Bos-
kerkes and Joh. Michael Schiitz, who formerl}^ served as
a deacon, and once upon a time, about the j'ear 17 13, took
upon himself to collect money in Amsterdam, whereof he
delivered fifteen Pounds to the church after a lapse of three
years), ever gave a single penny toward the church during
their whole lifetime.

Yea, it even came to pass, after a brother of the Van
Boskerkes, who hailed from Hackensack, had extended a
call thence to this Van Dieren and permitted him occasion-
ally to preach in their dwelling houses, that he preached
once in our church, but only with the consent, forcibly
obtained, from both the p. t. deacons Lagrannie and




Appeal to Amsterdam. 121

Beekmann. Upon the next occasion, however, these offi-
cers took possession of the pulpit {priestcr Stuhl) and
barred the way to the chancel.

They even threatened to commit murder and force our
houses and church, if this were not opened unto them.
Their aim however was merely to obtain possession of the
strong box of the Church. Consequently the statement,
as made in their missive, that Johann Van Dieren was
called unanimously and by general consent, is fictitious.

The rest of the congregation as a dernier ressort have
resolved, in case the Right Reverend Consistory at Am-
sterdam would not favor them, to extend a call to the
brother of the sainted Falckner, although his own brother
would not counsel them to do this before they took up with
Van Dieren.

And now about the ungodly missive, they knew noth-
ing at all of it, until they were informed by a good
friend, who knew about the correspondence of the Consis-
tory, that Schiitz lied to them when stating that the mis-
sive had not been sent, and that he regretted that the
letter had fallen into such loyal hands. Otherwise the
missive would have been his, even if it had cost him fifty

The whole congregation accordingly consists of from ten
to twelve households, which upon the male or female side
are of the reformed faith. Of the remaining number who
reside in the town, many for several years have failed
to adhere to our church, as they either objected to the
preacher or had some other absurd reason. Others again
were angered at the bad condition of our church, and be-
came of a different mind. And of all these, thus far but
a single household hath returned.

Now as I arrived here, both friends and enemies — if I

122 Dominie Justus Falckner.

may so call them — became disheartened ; the former, as
they were greatly weakened, by the defection of the Van
Buskerkes, who were the wealthiest among the congrega-
tion ; the latter, because they realized that their scheme
had virtually turned out Archilochian. In the meantime
it was resolved to say nothing about that missive, if the
opposite party made no demand for it. In fact no one
here demanded either to see or read the letter.

The Church Council thereupon convened a meeting,
together with all the above-named members of our con-
gregation, whereat I had no sooner presented my letters
than Andreas Van Buskerken arose and extended his hand
to me. In this he was followed by all present, Joh.
Michael Schiitze being the last one.

The answering of the letters from the Right Rev. Con-
sistory was consigned to me, and it was afterwards resolved
to send the answers in their present form.

If your Right Reverend and Most Noble Society will
permit, I will now describe the several conditions of my
Congregation. As before stated in numbers our Congre-
gation is but few, and several among them live over two
German miles from the town. The Church hath no income
except that of the purse with the bell (^Klingcl Bentel).
The monies sent from St. Thomas over fifteen years ago
were, as I learn, put out at interest, which goes toward the
pastor's salary, and if this is not sufficient, the deficiency
is collected and supplied ostiantim [collected from door
to door] . Further there are no accidentia, such as mar-
riages or funeral sermons, as these hardly occur once in
many years.

The church, which we fear will be demolished by the
first heavy storm, is more like unto a cattle shed than a
house of God : only two windows are in the building, one

A Dilapidated Church. 123

behind the pulpit and the other directly opposite. As the
church is not paved, but merely floored with loose boards —
some long, others short — one cannot pass through it with-
out stumbling.

The preparations for divine worship are so bad, that I
doubt whether greater confusion exists in any heathen

The people are not capable of singing a hymn properly,
and upon several occasions they have stuck in the middle of
a hymn, and I have had to go thus to the altar or ascend
the pulpit, although I permit the precentor to sing whatever
he likes, and what they have been accustomed to sing.
And now if the seventy-three-year-old one dies, they will
have no one in the congregation who is capable of acting as

The £i7.ios promised me in the contract, I have just re-
ceived, as I am preparing to start for Albany. For the time
that I have served here they give me nothing. The same
sum was promised me on the part of the Albanians, but to
facilitate their communion they have also gotten rid of their
promise, although they said they would give it to me, as I
offered to repay the 41 Holland florins and 57 English shill-
ings advanced to me by Joh. Sybrand. This, however,
they would not permit, as I had used the money to purchase
a cloak and necessary household furniture. Accordingly
I did not want to take this sum from them, nor press for
any salarj' for the short time, though I think that I shall
receive my bodily food and sustenance from them, and with
this I suppose I shall have to content myself. God grant
that his blessing may rest upon my efforts to build up this
congregation, and may it be a joy unto me, even if not
fully in time, yet in eternity.

I further pray that your Right Worshipful Consistory

124 Dominic Justus Falckner.

will aid and assist me with good advice and material help,
as they perceive that it is for God's glory and the mainte-
nance of Evangelical truth in these lands.

I have found here a folio Bible, also a church liturgy,
which I take with me to Albany, for I surmise that, as there
is no public church there, neither shall I find any of these
books there. I trust that I shall not commit any wrong if
I take my books along, or rather the local church books,
and distribute them, just as I have done with those given
me by the Rt. Worshipful Consistory of Amsterdam, to-
gether with those bought at Hamburg with the collection

Otherwise there is a universal complaint about the
scarcity of hymn-books, catechisms and Bibles. Nearly
all the last-named that we have here are those sent by the
Rt. Worshipful Consistory of Amsterdam and contain the
name of the Rt. Rev. J. Wesling. They know little of
catechisms ; Bibles are found with the older families ; but
the new families have to borrow one from another.

About Job. J. Van Dieren I cannot report much that is
creditable. That he not only wrought as a tailor in Eng-
land, but also here in New York, and that the spirit of
fanaticism had already manifested itself in him in England,
is attested by Mr. Schlej'dorn who knew him there. Here
he was no less under this influence, and not only acted as
being in the church, but at divers times cried out aloud in
his workshop in the basement, and claimed to be holding a
conversation with God. He made the woman, in whose
house he lived, believe that he wanted to marry her daugh-
ter, but that God would not give his consent.

The name of Jesus the crucified served him for many
purposes. In his complimentary greeting to me he made
use of the name no less than ten times, as also the word
" Christ."

Ignorance of Van Dieren. 125

Thereby every man, like unto David, will recognize how
good and pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in

Thus do I find in a letter written by him March 7, 1721,
to one in Schohari whom he thanks for his kind greeting,
but complains that he was so cold during the past winter.
In this letter he makes use of the name of Jesus seven
times, twice of Jesus Christ, and once where he calls him
our heavenly prince.

As to the cold he experienced, this he says was a suffer-
ing for the sake of Jesus' name. He, however, consoles
himself with the example set by Jesus, the warm love of
Jesus and the great glory of heaven. The beginning is
thus: " yl5 it is only expressed in Holy Writ: 'Jesus to
greet you, the H0I3' Spirit as a kiss.'" He closes with
these words :

" I greet you with the kiss of the love of Jesus, and
greet me therewith, that we may all be brethren and sisters
in Christ Jesus, who do not live according to the flesh, but
according to the Holy Spirit. This greeting from me,
with the kiss of Jesus Christ. The love of God be with
them all. Amen."

That at this time he was still tailoring is shown by a foot-
note, wherein he writes : " This winter I have still earned
pretty well."

The sainted Falckner characterizes him thus (/« Litteris
ad enndcm exaratis): " In him we find great craftiness in
place of Christian prudence ; great obstinacy in place of
humble joyfulness. To prove this I will not give myself any

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Online LibraryJulius Friedrich SachseJustus Falckner, mystic and scholar, devout Pietist in Germany, hermit on the Wissahickon, missionary on the Hudson : a bi-centennial memorial of the first regular ordination of an orthodox pastor in → online text (page 7 of 9)