Page images
[ocr errors]

the year.


better of the jealousy which was He was now, however, to obtain so natural to his companions, par- what had so long been the object ticularly when he took the lead in of his desires and prayers, in being the examination for honours and ordained to the ministry, and he public disputations at the end of was at this very time reminded that

it is God who preserves us both in • About this time he was by our going out and coming in by his circumstances led to that path of providence and mercy. The orditeaching which he subsequently nation was to be at Rheine; and followed so successfully. His fa- Overberg, being in bis old lodgther was dead, and he was passing ings, went before day light to the the vacation with his mother, when church, in order to begin this most he was requested by some of bis important day by solemn prayer. neighbours to instruct those chil- But a new cellar had just been dren, who though beyond the pro- made, and the door being open, he per age, had, from want of the fell in and was taken up from the required knowledge been refused stones to bed senseless; but soon admittance to the Easter

recovering, he went to the church nion, whilst they would, if in- for ordination. structed, be admitted next year. • A relative in Rheine urged him He began his teaching in the com- to officiate at Voltlage immediately, mon way-giving his scholars a and they arrived there so late, that series of questions and answers out Overberg could not go to his moof the catechism, to be learnt by ther at Hoeckel ; the relation, howheart, and then questioning them ever, sent a message requesting the on the following day. But he mother and some intimate friends made no progress by this method ; to come to the church at a certain the children did not learn the an- hour, without mentioning the reaswers, and even when he had made The old woman came, but them repeat them frequently after when her son appeared in his surhim, and had insisted on their plice at the altar and began the reading them at home, &c. he service, surprise and emotion had found next day that they had gene- almost overpowered her. rally either forgotten or misunder- • In 1780, he became officiating stood them. So at last he saw

vicar of Everswinkle, and many clearly that both questions and even yet can remember his powers answers were beyond their powers; as a spiritual guide and teacher, he had already begun to think of and the blessings which attended giving up this employment and him. His chief anxiety was for occupying his leisure time more the religious education of the chilusefully, when it struck him he dren of the parish, and this at his might make the attempt in another request was wholly given up to way; and the next time the chil- him by the rector. In three years dren came he told them some his manner of teaching became so Scripture stories. On this their perfect, that the minister Prince countenances brightened up, they Furstenberg was induced to think listened with attention, and caught of appointing him to the Normal the instruction which he connected school at Munster. But first he with them. Questions from these determined to hear the teaching stories they answered readily, and himself, and getting into his carthus giving them the necessary riage one Sunday when he knew knowledge chiefly by narratives, Overberg would catechise, he told the result was so very favourable the post-boys to bring him to that the children were prepared for Everswinkel exactly at two o'clock. the sacrament in the autumn. He thus got into the church unob



served, and listening unseen, found common reading, writing, arithmehis expectations exceeded, and tic, mensuration, &c. whilst the therefore offered the situation im- intellectual faculties thus developed mediately. Overberg's disposition were more easily brought under the and humility inclined him to remain power of the will, when the moral amongst the countrymen who were faculties were in healthy exercise. attached to him, but the offer was Catechetical as his instruction genereally a command from his vicar- rally was, he avoided the extreme general (which Furstenberg then in which it is now used and its was) and he had only to comply. attendant error of cultivating the On being desired to name his own memory of children at the expense salary, he modesty asked only for of their reflecting, and still more, 200 thalers, (about £31) with their moral powers. He never board and lodging in the episcopal began with abstract truths of relisetoinary at Munster. He entered gion, &c. but with the imagination this, March, 1783, and here he died and actual experience of the chilas principal, in 1826.

dren ; so that the answer was not His leading principles of teach- mere words or notions of the meing were explained in his writings, mory, but the enlargement of exparticularly in his Instructions isting ideas. His object was not for intelligent Teaching,' - his so much to give information, as to Catechism, -his Bible Histories, give such information and such and his Hand-book of religion. views of things, as would draw out The value of these works was ac- all the good and amiable points of knowledged by all judges both the character, and repress the conCatholic and Protestant at the trary.


he guarded time ; they have gone through nu- against that common system of merous editions, and the Bible emulation which seems formed to Histories are used in


Pro- fit a child for the selfish struggles testant schools at present.

of after life, rather than train him The leading object of his inter- to Christian habits of kindness and course with all, both old and self-denial. young, with whom he came in • The office of schoolmaster in the contact, was to implant and culti- district of Munster was at that vate a spiritual principle ; a prin- time performed in the more popuciple coming from God's Spirit and lous parishes by men who, intendcontinually nourished by it alone, ing to be clergymen, had gone whilst he believed the means for through a part of the studies at the obtaining this to be clear and im- Gymnasium, and then stopped for pressive views of the truth and want of money, talents, or other power of the Christian religion causes; but in the smaller parishes laid deeply in the character during and scattered country places, it childhood. The relation and inter- was performed by labourers, who, course between God and man either teaching in winter, returned to their by natural or revealed means was work in summer. By far the greatthe great object of his instruction, est number of them were, and being so pervaded by this god- very ignorant and unfit for any liness himself, his pupils became intelligent teaching; but their pay in some degree warmed by it- was poor in proportion, and many, • Only that which comes from the having no room, made use of some heart can reach the heart,' was a bakehouse, or even an old chapel favourite saying of his; and all who without a stove, in the cold nights have heard him agree in stating of winter. To tempt them to an that a tone of cheerful piety seemed internal improvement, Furstenberg to accompany the studies, even the began with an external one; and

of course,

[ocr errors]

The expences

for this, commissioned Overberg it necessary

? Is it useful ? Is to visit all the village schools of there not something more useful the district. Some of the bad, which ought to be preferred to it superfluous, and unlicensed were Is it sufficiently comprehensible ? closed, and instead of two or three What is my object in proposing it? inconvenient, one more convenient Will it, when known, give them erected : then every schoolmaster only an appearance of learning, who offered himself for examina- &c. ? If so, away with it. tion, and passed it creditably, had * Feb. 7. 1790. Thou art teacha yearly salary secured him of ing me, O my God, more and twenty, thirty, or even forty thalers more for

my own experience, that (each about 3s. 1d.), according to of myself I can do nothing. When the population of his parish. The I fear that the teaching which thou examination was to be repeated hast committed to me will not go every three years, and they who on well, then I am surprised at its wished to improve themselves were success, and the contrary happens advised to attend the Normal when I say, 'this time I shall sucschool at Munster.

ceed. Is not this an intimation of this attendance were all to be from thee, not to trust on my own paid for them; and in order that strength? May thy grace help me there might be no material omis- to translate this into practice. O sion of their school duties, the God, how many are thy favours ; attendance at the Normal school even to-day I observed that thou was restricted to the usual time of takest away my usual impediment their vacation, from August 21 to to clear and loud utterance, whenthe beginning of November. On ever I have to speak in the church this being settled, from twenty to to the children. Ever grant me, thirty old schoolmasters attended O Lord, the grace, (undeserving Overberg, and most thoroughly though I be from having so freexercised his patience and charity, quently withstood it) the grace, by their indescribable helplessness that in all I do, particularly as and incapacity for learning : from regards these children, I may look nine to twelve, and from two to to thy will alone.

O Father, my five, he instructed them in the Father in Christ Jesus, do thou be principles of teaching, in religion, with me, that I do not make the in Scripture history, in reading, instruction of thy little ones needwriting, and arithmetic. He care- lessly difficult, giving them hard fully prepared himself for this, by food instead of milk; chaff instead one and a half hour's study; and of corn ; attending too much to he spent the rest of the day in some, and neglecting others. Thou reading with the most backward. hast permitted me to enter upon a Hopeless as all this trouble seemed new way of instruction; if it be at first, in a few years the result not better, if it be not thy will that was rich in blessings.'

I should go on in it, do thou call The spirit by which Overberg me back; if it be thy will, () was actuated is strikingly evinced make it so clear to me, that I err in the following extract from his not, and lead the children into byjournal:

paths, from which I must lead them • O God, help me ever more and back again. I am unworthy of more to imitate the manner of thy favour, but thou wilt not turn teaching of thy beloved Son, so away from these little ones, sancdivinely simple, short, clear, and tified by the blood of thy Son, easily remembered. Grant, that and hence I rely on thy assistance. before I propose any thing to the May I be wholly thine, and so do children, I may ask myself,Is more for thy honour and the good


of others. 0, may not the trust • From time to time he prayed in which others place in me be disap- the school for these communicants. pointed.

and as the day approached, he • Thus did Overberg perform the sent for the parents, put before apparently simple and easy duty them their duty to their children, of teaching children with a deep particularly that of personal examand holy earnestness, as in God's ple, and made them promise to sight, and in the strength obtained fulfil it. Whilst the children

proby prayer.

He knew and con- mised in writing that they would fessed what an important charge is walk according to the gospel, the education of youth in prayer avoiding the danger to their faith and filial intercourse with God. and virtue, and using the means of

• Such was his earnestness in the grace; for bimself, his earnest common daily teaching, and the prayer was that he might be influblessings for which he prayed, at- enced in the selection of candidates, tended it, not merely on the sensi- by nothing but their piety, and tive hearts of the young, but it such was his zeal and anxiety in softened also many hardened by all this, that he frequently had age; still his earnestness

some illness when it was over. doubled when the time for the • During the course of the year, Sacrament drew near. He latterly after the first sacrament, the comtook down, as we have said be- municants were required to go to fore, the names of the probable the Lord's table, from time to time communicants a year before, and together, and he always prepared began carefully to observe the them for it.' state of each, and direct them • My getting confused (he says accordingly. The more immediate on another occasion) and annoyed instruction

was given during an when the instruction did not go on as hour and a half daily during Lent, I wished, shewed me what mixed till the Third Sunday after Easter. motives yet governed me: my satisHe then gave them a compendium faction depended not so much on of the doctrines of Christianity, my own conduct, as on the result and to guard himself against di- of the satisfaction it gave

to others; gressions, he wrote out his Lectures and although I struggled against at length daily. These were at- all of this, it was not so earnestly tended by many adult hearers, as I ought to have done. O Lord particularly of the theological stu- Jesus, have mercy upon me,

and dents, many of whom carried away blot out all


misdeeds! Make the matter in their note books, me a clean heart, and so shall I however little they might be teach thy babes thy way! warmed by all the piety which • In order to avoid these faults animated the author. On Thurs- in future, I will now take down days and Sundays during Lent, the names of those who will prono strangers were admitted, be- bably attend the communion next cause these days were devoted to year ; so that I may observe the repetition and examination in pre- state of their heart and mind, vious lessons. Besides this public during the whole time. I will pray teaching, he instructed, exhorted, for them ; and when I think it and warned them unceasingly in will do good, I will mention them private, according to the character in the public prayers of the school. and circumstances of each. He But, Lord, how can I have this led them as their confessor, to singleness of view ? Thou must reflect on the truths of salvation, give it, and the strength to act to prayer, and particularly to care- accordingly; I will fight, unwilling ful examination of conscience. though I be, and do Thou grant


men, in

that I


endure the fight to the life; self-observation had opened end !'

to him the secret folds of the hu« The child and the man, the man heart, and each reproof and small and the great seemed exhortation hit the point aimed at, equally dear and equally impor- whilst his example was even more tant to him, for he looked

influential than his precepts. each only as an immortal soul, • He was awoke by his servant at bought by the blood of Christ, half-past four, and before the latter and his learned and respected got out of the room he raised himfriends were sometimes annoyed self in his bed and then got up imwhen, having been long waiting in mediately. He used to say that his ante-room, they saw only some the first offering of the day should old country-woman or notorious be to God, not to our own feelbeggar come out of the study. He ings; when the day begins with tried to become all things to all Him it goes on well, and there

order to win some to seems an analogy between the imChrist, and he thought as much pressions of the morning of the about the confession of a poor day and of life, and they are child, as of any elevated person. equally influential. To his private

- His countenance and first inter- meditations and prayers he would course

gave confidence immediate- often join a hymn. Subsequently he ly. Thus he once felt himself went to the public prayers of the impelled in a cold rainy evening students, and then generally retired to go out, and then saw a man at for a short time again to his prione moment standing still, and then vate devotions. Next to a portion carefully looking round, proceed- of Scripture, to the apostolic coning hastily forward. Overberg fession, and the rich hymns of contrived to come up with him, praise of antient Christians, he and saluting him in a friendly used for his daily improvement the manner, attempted a conversation; writings of Tauler, Kempis, &c. this the stranger at first rather re- and during the day gave an hour jected, but soon admitted ; and to his breviary. The labours of ultimately becoming open, con- the day were those of his office as fessed that he had been a great Regent; and connected with this, sinner from his youth, and now the his duties in the committee for the measure of desperation was full, management of the government and he intended to put an end to schools; he lectured at the Norhis life. Will you be better off mal school, preached, catechised, by that ?' said Overberg; the heard confessions, visited the sick, other was startled, and Overberg was continually publishing, and addressing him with impressive besides all this, wrote an incredible sympathy, took him home, heard number of letters, all of wbich his confession, and from that hour contained some spiritual remark saw him begin to be a changed peculiarly adapted to raise and character.'

strengthen the reader. How he In the year 1809, Overberg was kept up such a correspondence is appointed Regent of the Theolo- difficult to imagine, when we regical Seminary at Munster, and in collect that he had scarcely a this character was called upon to quarter of an hour to himself the give theological lectures in the whole day.' University, on subjects chiefly of a In 1818, Overberg was visited practical nature. • His own la- witb a severe illness, and from this bours for Christian perfection,' time to 1824, his strength gradually says his biographer, had given declined. Writing to an old friend, him great experience in spiritual he said, I think the days of the

« EelmineJätka »