Diary for Heinrich Schneider at Niederschelten 1867
Heinrich Schneider was my great grandfather. The family retains a one-year diary from him from which exerpts are translated below. The script is in an obsolete handwriting system called "Kurrent". The first page of the diary has large sections of the page missing. I have made some changes to Herr Lenssen's translation to make it more "Americanized".
Translation by Gerhard Lenssen (GL).
[Today in 1998, Niederschelten is named Niederschelden. It's a suburb of Siegen. Siegen is situated about 50 km east of Cologne. The region of Siegen is still today well known for its Protestant pietistic society (GL).]
The Lord spoke to Moses [text lost] for the memory [text lost] more to remember...
See, my days are in your hand and my life [text lost] before you. You have given my days a very short span; my life is as nothing before you. All mortals are but a breath. Selah. Psalm 39:6.
I was 18 years old, when I became awakened, but that's in no case the year of my conversion, and I don't want to state that I am profoundly [text lost], but every day I have to exclaim with Jeremiah: Lord lead me, so I become converted. What is a life without loving our Savior? [text lost]
Today I finish my 24th year of life, and so I become externally of full age, but in the spiritual life I will probably remain under age, until I come to the perfect manhood in Christ. Galatians 4:1-3. The watchword for today from the Bruedergemeinde [Christian Brotherhood, still in existence today and still giving for each day a watchword from the Bible] says: I am the Lord, your God, who teaches you, what's useful, and who leads you on the way, where you should go. Isaiah 48 v 17. I want to dedicate the future years and days, which I still have to live, to my Savior, that I may run after him on the way which goes to eternal life.
Jesus said to his disciples: I live and you shall live too! How understandable this is; it shows, that they were still not yet alive, that is, spiritually; but at first on the day of Whitsuntide [feast on which the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles is celebrated -- Pentecost (KD)] they became spiritually alive. As long as I am not well known by Jesus and don't have community with him, I cannot live in him. Therefore I take off the old coat of sin and put on the new one, made by God.
I am really a poor sinner; that I confess to you, dear Savior, and I beg you to liberate me from all sins, so that I can live for you. Oh yes, if I look at myself and think on my many sins and vices, it seems to me that God has left me. But I hear the Savior calling: the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. John 6:37. That gives me consolation again and courage to look up to him, who makes blessed the poor and lost sinner. Hallelujah.
This evening I heard a lecture on the future of our Savior Jesus Christ, mostly, how we can pass in front of [stand before (KD)?] God.
Oh, it is to lament and to mourn for the church of Christ on the earth, that is entangled in quarrel and discord. Where is the love and humility and the humiliation? So many Christians try to enforce their opinion, and forget the main point, namely: the new creation in Christ. I speak with Paul: In Christ there is no value in circumcision or uncircumcision, the only thing that counts is to be a new creature. Galatians 6:15.
The main duty of a Christian is: Conduct an honest life in Christ, and try to be proved as one who hasn't a lasting dwelling here on earth, but a future one up there in heaven. It saddens me, because I still try in many things to please the world. Oh, it is world around me and world in me. How I shall live for heaven? Lord Jesus! Help me, so that I don't look too much on the visible, but rather on the invisible.
19. March 1867
Recently, a distinguished person waas buried, with pomp and vanity (but then all is vain says Solomon.) This man U..., who openly declared at the inns: "it would be nonsense to believe in one God; God doesn't exist". Besides, he was a bad glutton and a drunkard, and of those Paul declares that they will not enter the kingdom of God. Nevertheless this man, of whom I just spoke, [received a] spoken blessing at the cemetery, saying that he had feared God since childhood, he had been a Nathanael [John 1:45-48 KD?] and as a soul, he would be consoled, justified for all in front of the tribunal of Christ. If all this were true, it would be fine and good, but one cannot steal the favor of God who says: "if one is not born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God". One didn't see any sign of conversion in him; but here we see parsons, who not are worthy to be called "keepers of souls", who pretend black is white and white is black. It is grievous, such ignorance; even the unbelievers were annoyed at such a sermon, because everyone knew what life this drunkard had led. Of course there is grace for all men, and the word of God says: God wants to help all men and that they should come to the knowledge of the truth. But I must want it--to accept grace and truth--and then my life will prove whether I am a bad tree. Because a bad tree bears bad fruit, but on a good tree are to be found delicious fruits; therefore, each man is known by his way of life. This is, and remains, true.
How blessedly live those, who lie in the arms of the Savior; there is peace and complete joy. One cannot both serve the world and sin, but one has all that one needs in Jesus, and one can sing:
My friend is mine,
and I am his,
who grazes under the roses.
High Song 6,2.
I like to write in the diary when I experience the love of Jesus. But if one has sinned against the Savior and did things, which haven't been good for a Christian, writing is not peaceful, but there is nothing for it, the truth has to be written. The Lord Jesus doesn't like hypocrites. Lord Jesus! Give to me the Holy Spirit, who teaches me to keep all that you said to me with your word.
I am very glad that one of our siblings serves in the Kingdom of the Lord, namely: a sister in a rescue mission at Duesselthal, where there are many neglected and poor children, to whom are brought the salvation in Christ as well as receiving some schooling and practical skills.
Christine is the third eldest sister of us siblings who are still living. We are six brothers and sisters. I am the second eldest brother, the other four are sisters; now I am glad that nearly all of us are going on the way to eternal life, even if that cannot be said of the younger ones with certainty-- that they know the Lord Jesus. But I believe that this will happen in the future and the Lord Jesus will help them in grace. Now something from my sister Christine, who I love heartily and who is also faithful to me.
On shouldn't think, that she, the weakest and most ill of us, has run out into the world, leaving brothers and sisters, relatives and friends and native place behind, in spite of all objections which are made. When I consider this, I have to say: that it came from the Lord and it's a miracle right before of our eyes. Ps 118,23. After the death of our beloved parents, each one of us went his own way and we were left to ourselves, but the Father of Orphans led us and always showed us the right way if we went wrong. For otherwise we would surely have gone on the way of peril.
That means: Our sister Christine moved in 1864 (which was the year of the death of my mother) to Steuthuetten as a housemaid. In 1865 she served at Neunkirchen as housemaid, but she never was healthy, so we privately agreed in the year 1867 that we intended to live together in a household; she would become my housekeeper. This plan was surely, I thought, to be an agreeable life for us both. It was not long until this plan came to fulfillment. It happened this way: One morning in February 1866 she came very sad and depressed [she came] to me in the house and declared: because of her illness she couldn't work any more as a housemaid and she asked: whether we couldn't keep a household together. I was startled a bit, but what to do? We needed a solution, because otherwise nobody was ready to help. Immediately my decision was made: to make preparations for what is necessary for a household,, although I had only five Thaler in my [purse]. Christine was overjoyed that we began immediately. But I don't want to tell all the details of what happened, it would take too long. In summary: the 28th of. February 1866 was the day, where we were again reunited in our father's house and have lived together since then. How fitting it is for Christians that if sometimes dissatisfaction comes up, nevertheless love always predominates. One soon observed that the more Christine enjoyed quietness and could care for herself, the more her health improved; but nevertheless she didn't became fully healthy since she came here. In the one year we were together one year I observed, that she didn't feel at home and wished always for something different, and if I thought quietly of her, I got the idea that she is better suited for something else, but if I saw her illness, I thought: she can never go to work in a business institution, but man thinks and God leads [rhymes in German (GL)]. Christine became acquainted with a traveling parson, Mr. Sewering, and it happened, that they discussed Diakonissen [Protestant sisters-society (GL)] [Deaconesses (KD)]. That would be a fine profession, to serve the Lord in such a manner. From this time she was decided to serve the Savior in the neglected children, without regard for which institution she would come to. Sewering made preparations to develop the matter further: these continued until December 1866, when Sewering wrote to director Imhausen at Duesselthal, that he knew a sister, who wanted to enter the hospital. The director wrote back that Christine should send a short description of her life, then she could enter. Sewering told this to my sister, and she sent her curriculum to Herr Imhaeuser. Mr. director wrote that she could enter as a sister and that she should come. Eventually the time for our separation came, the 26th of.January,1867 was the day of her departure to the Rhine-region to begin her new occupation. May the Lord protect her on her way of life; yes, the Lord Jesus be glorified, that one of us siblings serves close by him.
Since she works as a sister, it seems that she feels fully at home; she was completely healthy and well, and she is joyful, that the Lord had lead her there. Yes this is really the way of life of the Lord; nobody could have thought this of her. She becomes 20 years old on the 10th of.May, 1867. What the future holds, nobody knows, but surely the Lord knows.
Praise and honor to the Lord. May he may lead us siblings all on the way which leads to eternal life.
[What's curious, mostly he writes of Christine in the third gender (in German we have three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter). It seems that in those times a young maiden was seen as neuter. Today impossible. (GL)]
Sin is the peril of mankind, says Solomon, and the prophet Jeremiah says: How can you do good if you are accustomed to the bad. So it is with man in his unconverted condition. He wants and wants and he doesn't come on a green branch. Why not? Because he doesn't want the Lord Jesus as master, who helps him to enforce the will [to do right]. That's has been the case for me. The world and the desire for sin wouldn't vanish easily, because I knew well, that, if I would follow Jesus and go on his way, I had to bid farewell both to sin and the world. I have to say that I didn't enjoy in full measure the lust for sin, because the grace of God protected me. Yes, I felt very lonesome amid the ecstasy of the world and I saw the infamy of her joy. Oh, what a poor life has the world to offer, its worldly joys.
I want to report something from my school years. My father, yes, my dear father, I certainly believe died blessed in the Lord (he died 1859). When we all sat in the evening in the living room, often the Holy Scripture would be taken and one of us had to read, and often father declared that it had been a fine thing, but I have to say, that I understood, nothing, because the Bible was still a closed book to me and I had no sense of what means to live in God .But one thing my father implanted in me, and this I never forgot, namely: "I shall exclaim with the man born blind: Lord Jesus! You son of David, pity me". If I should pray nothing else, I should pray this; this would be enough. And I have to say, that I prayed the prayer of the blind man in the evenings in my bed many times. Would the Lord Jesus have heard this prayer of a child? The Lord knows it.
Often I regret the death of my friend, G.Quandel, that he passed away so early in life, because we were very well acquainted one with the other, and one knew the sense of the other; in our younger days we both ran in the world and we loved the darkness more than the light, but eventually the light became bright in our hearts. We saw that the vain world-lust cannot give real joy. He became awakened one year before I, out of the sleep of sin; then I too followed, but not I--it was the grace of God, which brought me to the way of life. Now one can see what a common bond this gave us.
Now we had a better joy than that of the world; we had the Lord Jesus as leader on the way of life. Oh, what for a wonderful joy it is, if one finds in the years of youth many Jonathan's-souls, who together, hand in hand, make a pilgrimage to the eternal city of God. Such a Jonathan my deceased friend has been. Oh, I cannot forget him, and I dream of him at night. Such a friend shall I never find again, because in all matters and speaking we understood each other well. But what makes this appear less deplorable is that he is up in heaven near Jesus, where he has still better friends than I had been. I want to allow him his joy in heaven and I intend to stay faithful to Jesus until I too become gathered into the big flock in heaven.
Some days ago I confessed to a young man of distinguished rank a theft from my school years. The theft happened as follows: I and he sat in the school on one bench, one beside the other. Often I put my left hand into his jacket-pocket, and came up empty; but once I managed it to pull out a purse and put it cautiously into my own pocket. After school I opened it and counted eight silver coins., I carried the money and the purse home and gave it to my father with words: I found the money. He asked , where? Then I lied and gave a place, where I pretended to have it found it. Oh, I really regret having done this now, when I am captured by Christ. Oh you dear Lord Jesus, forgive me also the sin and vices of my childhood. Lord Jesus, for your name's sake.
It has been 13-14 years now since this happened, but I can recall it all very exactly: In my earlier life in the world I didn't think anything of this, because I was a man dead in sin. But since my awakening in 1861, I thought of this, and often, as I saw the young man, I thought that I must to confess this theft and to give back his money. But how much I did not want to do it, and I told myself it wouldn't be necessary; this wouldn't get me into heaven. But I remained completely in turmoil and my conscience reproached me; it has to come out into the open; and if not here, then in eternity. Some days ago I meet this young man and I confessed my wrong.
I told him how it happened and offered him the stolen money and said, he should take it; it belonged to him. He was astonished that I confessed it to him and he said, now all should be forgotten and he wouldn't tell it to anyone else. The money he refused to accept, saying that it would be as if I had given it to him. I told him what man is capable of and what dwells in the heart of man. Now I am glad that the charge of my conscience is quiet after this confession. Far be it from me to think that this brings me earlier to heaven. The full forgiveness of this sin is only through Christ. Sins are extinguished by the blood of Christ, who has obtained my bliss on the cross. The main thing is and remains: to be: confess to the Lord ones sins--only to Him. But to confess to men is also good. He who believes he has to do it, shall do it.
It's strange and interesting for God's children, how they meet with others on their way of life. Often one meets men, and we would not think that they know Jesus because one cannot tell this from their face. But the love immediately reveals it and the person in front of me has a conviction; one notices which spirit's child they are. Today I went to a store at Siegen to buy something and a young girl was alone in the store; we exchanged but a few words, and then we knew we were in Christ, although I never saw her before. Oh, the word "love", how all-encompassing; yes, the love of Jesus is the thing of greatest value that a child of God owns here on earth. What a blessed consolation, if young souls early elect the love of Jesus and not the way of sin, to hold the soul clear and chaste for Christ. That's consoling and it will find grace. Lord, I give myself to you, to remain eternally.
Yesterday, the 21st at Freudenberg there was a mission-festival, two right mission-parsons [?] gave the festival-lecture; they spoke with proof of the spirit and power. One said: The first and greatest missionary was laid in the crib of Bethlehem; he has spoken and taught, gave miracles and signs, and preached the Gospel to the poor. Finally he completed the redemption of fallen mankind through his death on the cross.
All following pages are similar, he always ponders of his relation to God and Jesus, it's impressing, but it doesn't give more knowledge of his inner condition. Also he never gives hints of what he did or what a profession he had, or to tell, about the men in his near environment (with exception of his sister Christine).]
The ways of the Lord are wonderful; but we poor children of men cannot always understand them and acknowledge. I was grasped by a very strong desire to emigrate in the spring and I really intended to emigrate to America, but suddenly the Lord made a stroke through my plan, - my sister Christine at Duesselthal became again ill, and what now? I thought: you cannot leave her; that's against your natural and Christian love; therefore I will stay here and wait upon the ways of the Lord to see, what HE intends for both of us. May the Lord's will be done.
The Lord is wonderful in his ways, the Lord is his name. If the Lord wills, tomorrow , May 5th, I depart on a journey to the Rhineland, to stay some days with my dear sister Christine and to bring her back from her earthen "mother-house" [Diakonissenhaus(GL)] [Deaconess house (KD)], after her service of one and a quarter years in the institution at Duesselthal for poor children. We decided to keep a household together again. My desire to emigrate to America is completely vanished.
The Lord did great things for us; for this we are glad. Glad and well, I am back with my sister from the journey back to our father's house. Today I follow with a short (and insufficient) journal, which I kept during the journey. "May 5, Betzdorf. Departure. I sit comfortably in the railway coach; it goes by steam to Duesselthal, where my dear sister is awaiting me. The train rushes through the air tremendously. May the Lord Jesus be my companion on the journey."
[Here the diary ends.]