I. THE DUTCH MENNONITES. Williani, prince of Orange granted the Mennonites a ,.settlement in the United Provinces near the end of the 16th century. In 1626 their -confession of faith was published; in 1626 an association was forined among theta, and was strengthened in 1649, which in its organization resembled in some respects that of .the present Congregationalists in the United States. As a result of this fellowship sonie of the rigorous rules of Menno and his successors were softened and improved. Each congre gation chose its own pastor who was called an exhorter, and, not being supported by his people, provided for himself in the best way he- could by engaging in business or trade. Where no pastor could be obtained, the deacon and deaconess ministered respec tively to the men and women. In the 17th and 18th c. persecution drove many of the .Mennonites from Germany and Switzerland to Holland, so that at one thne the denomi mation, in what they regard as their parent country, contained at least 160,000 persons. In 1735 their theological seminary was established at Amsterdam, the students of which receive instruction in a ,part of, the chapel that also contains the library. A knowledge cf Latin and Greek is a necessary qualification for' admission; the lectures are in Latin, :and instruction is provided in Hebrew, church history, physics, moral philosophy, and kindred studies. This institution was at first supported by contributions obtained in Amsterdam alone, but now churches in other places also send aid. All the students have the ministry in view, and SO/21C of them receive aid from a public fund. The edu- • cated ministry thus provided has made the denomination respectable among other Prot estants, and has raised up theologians that are highly- esteemed. In 1795 they obtained -equality. in law among other Protestants, and have since gradually formed themselves into one national body. In 1811 they united in forming a society to promote theological .education. A foreign missionary society also receives general support.
II. The Mennonites wdre numerous in Germany in the 17th century. In Moravia :alone they amounted so 70,000. In 1622 they were expelled tiy Ferdinand H., and after 41 brief sojourn in Hungary and Transylvania removed to Russia. They were very numerous in eastern Prussia, especially at Dantzic, Marienburg, and Elbing, where their cleanliness and industry soon transformed desolate marsh grounds into gardens. But perseention compelled many of them to flee until after 1782, when the king removed some restrictions from them, so that they gradually increased again in numbers until 1789, when the right to acquire property in land was taken away, yet with all their hindrances they have maintained themselves in some parts of Prussia and have espe cially made the valley of the Vistula " the garden spot of the land." III. In 1786 Catharine II. invited the, Mennonites to settle in Russia with other Ger man emigrants, and between that time and the close of the.century about 350 families found there a home, on and near the island of Khortiz, in the lower Dnieper. The privi leges pledged to them were: Protection from. all attacks; freedom of worship; a gift of 190 -acres of land for each family; exemption from taxation for ten years; money for their journey; money and wood with which to establish themselves; freedom of trade and manufactures; the administration of oaths in their own way, and perpetual exemption from military service. These great advantages induced a large and constant Mennonite
immigration into Russia until 1817, the new colonists settling near their brethren in the :government of Taurid, and between the rivers Molotchua, Dnieper, and Tokrnak; and from that dine they continued to increase in numbers and prosperity. They were -always protected and favored by the government, and, chiefly through the character, :and efforts of Johann Cornies, preserved uninjured their German institutions and habits. This remarkable man, without office or rank, though both were once and again -offered him by the government, exerted a verygreat influence over his countrymen and over the government intheir behalf. Through his efforts, besides having their own schools :and churches, and retaining their native language and ways of living, they enjoyed also a kind of popular government among themselves; each group of towns being under a mag istrate chosen by themselves from among themselves, and forming the organ of communi cation between them and the imperial government. In 1861 the late emperor, Alex :ander II., gave new lands and confirmed all the old concessions to a colony of Mennonites who established themselves on the Volga. These lands, indeed, as well as those WhiCh Catharine had given, were not altogether without restfiction. The holders could bequeath them to their children or sell them to any of their own community, but could not part with them to any one except a Mennonite unless by express permission from the government, Brit within the last decade the conduct of the imperial g,overnment towards this community as well as towards other colonists has been greatly changed. In June, 1871, an edict, addressed to all the colonists in the empire—Gernian Lutherans Roman Catholics, as well as 3lennonites, Bulgarians, and others to whom lands and privileges had been given—limited the period of exemption from military seryice to teu years, with the proviso that, as to furnishing recruits, the laws ruling colonists should -continue in force only till the publication of a general law on military duty. As such a law might be issued at any time, the Mennonites, with the rest, nught be compelled to furnish recruits, notwithstanding their belief in the unlawfulness of war. The general law of Russia does not allow emigration, but in this instance ten years were allowed for any to leave the empire who were unwilling to comply fully with the laws. Inquiries were at once commenced by some of the leadingMennonites concerning the best location for a new home. -Many answers highly favorable having been received from several parts of the United States and Canada, and circulated widely atnong the people, the. sum of $20,000 was raised by their voluntary contributions to scud a delegation to visit the most promising regions of America and report the result of their observations om their return.