FRANCKE, AUGUST HERMANN.
Early Life and Studies (§ 1).
His Work in Leipsic, Erfurt, and Halle (§ 2).
His Philanthropic Institutions (§ 3).
His Service to Missions and Pedagogy (§ 4).
His Writings (§ 5).
1. Early Life and Studies.
August Hermann Francke, founder of the charitable institutions at Halle bearing his name, was born at Lübeck Mar. 12, 1663; d. at Halle June 8, 1727. In his third year his father, a jurist, removed to Gotha, on the call of Duke Ernest I. the Pious (q.v.), and died there a few months later. The pious influences of his home determined the son to study theology. He was educated by private tutors and at the gymnasium of Gotha, where he passed his final examination in 1679. After half a year's stay at Erfurt he went to Kiel, where he was influenced by Christian Kortholt (q.v.), a theologian of Spener's tendency. His memoirs illustrating this period show how strict he was in his self-discipline and how eagerly he longed for a perfect Christianity. After three years he went for two months to Hamburg where he perfected his knowledge of Hebrew under Ezra Edzard. Then he returned to Gotha, always dissatisfied with himself as being a mere "natural" man. In 1684 he continued his studies at Leipsic and in 1685 became master of arts, receiving at the same time permission to lecture as privat-docent.
In Leipsic his future Pietistic tendency began to manifest itself by his absorption in Holy Scripture. He helped to found the Collegium philobiblicum (see PIETISM) for a closer study of Old and New Testament exegesis. These Bible studies became very popular, and Francke confessed that he grasped the deep truths of Scripture first in these gatherings; but he was still dissatisfied with himself. In 1687 he went to Lüneburg to continue his Biblical studies under the guidance of the learned superintendent Sandhagen. The period at Lüneburg was destined to become the turning-point of his inner life as he dated from this time his conversion. In 1688 he was again at Hamburg, where he continued his exegetical studies under the influence of the learned preacher Johann Winkler, a friend of Spener. Toward the end of the same year he returned to Leipsic, visiting Spener at Dresden for two months on the way. The intimate intercourse with this congenial man exerted a great influence upon Francke, and ever after they were united by a bond of cordial affection, assisting each other in their labors and keeping up their correspondence until 1702.
2. His Work in Leipsic, Erfurt, and Halle.
After Francke's return to Leipsic in Feb., 1689, and the resumption of his earlier academic activity, his influence began to make itself felt in larger circles. By his lectures--which were chiefly exegetical, and attended by so many that the largest auditorium could hardly hold all his hearers-- as well as by his sermons and his personal intercourse with the students, he was the originator of a movement which struck deep roots in the minds of his hearers and was destined to effect a deepening of piety by a conscious devotion to Christ in a living, personal faith. It was inevitable that his success should arouse envy, and it must be confessed that not everything in the movement of Francke and his friends was commendable, as, for instance, the contempt of science and distrust of earnest philosophical study united with self-complacency and conceit among those who were only superficially inspired by the Spirit. Francke's chief opponent was his colleague, J. B. Carpzov (q.v.), at whose instigation, the faculty prohibited the continuation of the Collegia biblica and instituted a formal investigation against Francke, the result of which was that he had to confine himself to lectures of a philosophical nature. In 1690 he gladly accepted a call to the Church of the Augustinian at Erfurt. Here he developed again in an extraordinary manner his successful activity in the spirit of Pietistic Christianity. Students from Leipsic and Jena followed him to Erfurt, and his influence made itself felt beyond the town. But the opponents of Francke rose again and instituted a commission, the result of which was his dismissal from office (1691). He went to Gotha and from there was invited to Berlin by Spener. Owing to the latter's influence, he received in 1692 a parish at Glaucha, now a suburb of Halle, and at the same time the chair of Greek and Oriental languages in the University of Halle. Here he found among his colleagues a circle of congenial men who followed the tendency of Spener. The opposition of the orthodox town clergy was soon overcome. Francke's parochial activity and pastoral care exercised the deepest and most far-reaching influences. His sermons centered in the great theme of Pietistic theology, sin and grace. They were spontaneous utterances of his innermost being and testimonies from his own experience. His practical activity enlivened his lectures and made his study of the Bible more fruitful for the calling of his students, and his scientific work in its turn had a wholesome effect upon his sermons and religious instruction. He entered into intimate relations with his colleagues J. J. Breithaupt and Paul Anton (qq.v.), who held the same theological convictions, and the three men gave to the newly founded faculty its characteristic stamp of Pietism. The chief factors were a profound study of the Bible, an unfolding of the thoughts of salvation contained in it without the mechanical dogmatics of the orthodox, practical guidance in the successful performance of the clerical office, and insistence upon pious conduct and a godly life. In accordance with Francke's general views his lectures treated first of all Biblical exegesis, but hermeneutics, homiletics, and parenetics were not excluded.
3. His Philanthropic Institutions.
But his chief activity belonged from the beginning to his congregation. His eminent gifts showed themselves not only in his pastoral care, but also in the field of pedagogy. In both spheres he developed the most strenuous activity, taxing his powers to the utmost. He preached twice on Sunday, conducted daily prayer-meetings and daily catechization of children, and paid regular visits to the members of his congregation. In 1695 he opened his pauper-school in the parsonage with the aid of a poor student, and this undertaking of Christian charity was the seed from which all the other institutions of Franke developed. The number of children grew rapidly, and soon larger accommodations had to be provided, and the number of teachers had to be increased. In 1696 there originated the Pädagogium which was intended chiefly for the education of boys whose parents lived out of town, and almost simultaneously the orphan asylum was established. The teaching staff of these institutions consisted for the most part of poor students, who, in compensation for their services, received free board. In 1697 there was founded the so-called Latin School to prepare boys for academic studies. There was something almost miraculous in the growth and rapid development of these various institutions, and Franke revealed an extraordinary talent of organization in their management. His trust in God awakened everywhere the same spirit, and voluntary contributions poured in from far and near so that he considered his success a direct answer to his fervent prayers. In the year of his death more than 2,200 children were being instructed in his institutions, among them 134 orphans; 175 teachers and eight inspectors were employed; and about 250 students received free board. There were also added a printing-press and publishing establishment and a pharmacy which contributed a large profit to the institutions.
4. His Service to Missions and Pedagogy.
Not less important was Francke's interest in foreign missions. The orphanage with its numerous assistants and teachers became for a time an important center for the education of missionaries for India. Ziegenbalg, Plütschau, and C. F. Schwarz were trained in Francke's institutions and, together with the Moravians, deserve the credit of having inaugurated the missionary history of modern times for Germany. Another undertaking due to the influence of Franke is the Bible Institute founded in 1710 by Baron von Canstein (q.v.), a faithful admirer of Franke. Franke also rendered great services to the cause of pedagogy. As he was free from the restrictions by the authorities, he was able to realize some of his innermost ideals. The main purpose of education was for him to lead children to a saving knowledge of God and Christ and to true Christianity. Without true love to God and man all knowledge appeared to him worthless, and he considered it the task of the higher as well as of the lower schools to further not only Christian instruction, but Christian life. He hated all empty formalism and tried in every way to introduce object-lessons, and to emphasize instruction for the practical matters of life.
5. His Writings.
Francke's writings were numerous, but relatively unimportant. His Pädagogische Schriften have been edited by G. Kramer, with an account of his life and institutions, as vol. xi. of the Bibliothek pädeagogisher Klassiker (2d ed., Langensalza, 1885). His Fussstapfen des noch lebenden Gottes, an account of his institutions (Halle, 1701, and many later editions), was translated into English (An Abstract of the Marvellous Footsteps of Divine Providence, London, 1706 and often). Other English translations which were highly popular in their time are Nicodemus or a treatise against the fear of man (London, 1706); A Letter to a Friend concerning the Most Useful Way of Preaching (1754); Faith in Christ inconsistent with a Solicitous Concern about the Things of this World, a sermon (1759); A Guide to the Reading and Study of the Holy Scripture (1813)