Count Nicolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf (1700-1760)

 •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 8
Hymn #45.
The active founder of the Moravian Missions (United Brethren), Count VonZinzendorf, was born May 26, 1700 at Dresden, Germany. His father, noted for piety, had been Prime Minister at the Saxon court, but died soon after the birth of Nicolaus. Like Timothy (2 Tim. 1:55When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (2 Timothy 1:5)) he had a godly mother and a godly grandmother: so from his youth he was in close contact with the word of God. Even in his early days he gathered children together to pray!
In 1740 in reflecting on his early days he said: “It is more than thirty years since I received a deep impression of divine grace through the preaching of the cross. The desire to bring souls to Christ took possession of me, and my heart became fixed on the Lamb.”
While quite young he wrote hymns. In all he wrote about two thousand! We have all read of the painting of the crucifixion by the artist Stenberg which was hung in the galleries at Dusseldorf with the words on the frame: “All this I did for thee, what hast thou done for Me?” This painting was seen by Zinzendorf in 1719 when on a tour he came to Dusseldorf and was browsing in the galleries. He was arrested by the question on the frame and resolved to live more wholly for his Lord and Master.
He was married September 7, 1723 to the Countess Ermuth Dorothea, sister to his friend Count Reuss, and it was a happy married life for both. Not long after he came in contact with persecuted followers of John Huss (burnt at the stake in 1415) who were scattered about by the enemy. He bought an estate named Berthelsdorf in Saxony at the foot of a hill called Hutberg (meaning “Shelter Mountain’) which he changed to “Herrnhut,” that is “the Lord’s Shelter.” Here he allowed them to live and eventually he became their leader. From there the Word of the Lord sounded out to the regions beyond—Greenland, Labrador, Patagonia, West Indies, United States (yet to be that), and Europe. He often spent much time in London and it was there that he helped bring John and Charles Wesley to Christ.
His wife was taken from him June 19, 1756, and a year later he remarried, his second wife being Anne Nitschmann who was not of the nobility but was one of the sisters at Herrnhut. Here he spent his closing years in peace and quiet. Then on May 5, 1760 a fever laid hold of him from which he did not recover. His strength ebbed away and on the 9th, being nearly 60 years of age, he went to see “Jesus the Lord my righteousness.” Just before going he said to his son-in-law, “I am going to the Savior. I am ready; I am quite resigned to the will of my Lord. If he is no longer willing to make use of me here, I am quite ready to go to Him, for there is nothing more in my way!”
His coffin was borne by thirty-two preachers, who happened to be in Herrnhut at the time. They had been trained by him for the work of the Lord which took them to distant parts of the world. Over two thousand attended the funeral to the burying place. One asked, “What monarch was ever honored by a funeral like this?” But what a glorious resurrection awaits this dear servant along with all that are Christ’s at His coming!—”It is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruptibility” (JND translation).
“Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
‘Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed
With joy shall I lift up my head.
“Bold shall I stand in Thy great day,
For who aught to my charge shall lay?
Fully absolved through these I am
From sin and fear, from guilt and shame.”
(as originally translated into English by John Wesley in 1739. The Little Flock gives a revision by G. V. W. in 1856.)