Boos, Martin

Boos, Martin an evangelical divine in the Church of Rome, who was the instrument of a religious awakening in Germany similar to those of Whitfield and Wesley in England and America, was born at Huttenried, Bavaria, Dec. 25, 1762, and educated for the service of the Church at the University of Dillingen, where Sailer had already introduced an evangelical movement. He imbibed the doctrine of justification by faith, and found peace in believing. His first charge was Gruenbach, in the province of Kempten, and there he began, as he termed it, "to preach Christ for us and in us." The impression produced by the simple exhibition of this Gospel truth was as life from the dead. Those who had been agitated by doubts had their difficulties dispelled; those who had been harassed by fear attained peace in believing. The excitement spread like an epidemic; many gross sinners suddenly reformed, and multitudes could speak of the love of Christ and the happiness of his service. The Romish authorities regarded Boos as a fool or a fanatic, and deprived him of his pastoral charge. The day on which he was thrust out of his parsonage he remained a long time on the highway, uncertain what to do or whither to go; and at length spying an uninhabited hut on the roadside, he entered it, and, throwing himself down on the floor, prayed earnestly for light and guidance from heaven. The calumnies circulated against his character and ministry having been proved groundless, he was recalled from his retirement, and appointed to the curacy of Wiggensbach, adjoining his former parish. As his faith became stronger, his zeal in preaching the Gospel increased, and produced a great and extensive religious awakening. A discourse which he preached on New Year's day, 1797, on repentance, was accompanied with such penetrating energy that "forty persons, whose consciences were roused, fainted away and had to be carried out." While many revered the preacher as a man of God, the opposition of others was violently roused. -This latter party secretly influenced the vicar, who was himself disposed to be the friend of the pious curate, but whose kindly intentions were overborne. The simple converts, in admiration of Boos, spread so widely the story of his character and doctrines that the clergy joined in clamors against him as a heretic. From that moment persecution raged, and Boos was obliged to leave Wiggenslach. In a friend's house he obtained shelter; but his retreat having been discovered, he was surprised one day by the sudden appearance of an agent from the Inquisition at Augsburg, who, after rifling his writing-desk, carried away all his sermons and letters. On the 10th of Feb. 1797, he appeared before the Inquisition, where he refuted all the charges brought against him. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to a year's confinement in the clerical house of correction; but the keeper of that prison, like the Philippian jailer, was, with his whole family, converted by the pious conversation of Boos. Released from prison at the end of eight months, Boos, after passing through many vicissitudes, obtained permission to enter into the diocese of Lintz in Upper Austria, where the bishop, Joseph A. Gall, welcomed him, and gave him the populous parish of Peyerbach, where for five years "he ceased not to warn every man day and night." In 1806 he removed to the still more populous parish of Gallneukirchen, where, however, he labored for more than four years without any visible fruits of his ministry appearing. Surprised and pained by the deadness of the people, he gave himself to earnest prayer for the influences of the Spirit. His own fervor was kindled, and he dwelt more prominently on the justifying righteousness of Christ. One sermon preached in Gallneukirchen produced an excitement more extraordinary than ever. In that discourse having declared, that there were few real Christians in the parish, some, who were offended by the statement, accused him at the tribunal of Councillor Bertgen (1810). That magistrate, having, in the course of private conversation with Boos, been brought to a. saving knowledge of the truth, threw his official protection over the pious preacher; and, although he died shortly after, another came to the aid of Boos in the person of professor Sailer (1811). But the excitement in the parish was not allayed till Boos preached a sermon on Trinity Sunday from Mt 28:18-20, in which he brought out such views of the reality and power of religion that multitudes came to him eagerly asking what they must do to be saved. Persecution again followed. He was, in 1816, confined in a convent; and, although his parishioners petitioned the emperor for his release, it was secretly determined that he should leave the Austrian dominions. After an exile of seventeen years he was permitted to return to his native Bavaria, prematurely gray with care and hardships. After residing for some time as tutor in a family of rank near Munich, he was appointed by the Prussian government professor at Dusseldorf, which, however, he soon resigned for the vicarage of Sayn, to which he was elected by the magistrates of Coblentz. Boos was engaged in the same work, and brought to it the same lion-like spirit as Luther, though he remained in the Church of Rome until his death, Aug. 29, 1825. See Jamieson, Religious Biography, p. 60; Gossner, Life and Persecution of Martin Boos (Lond. 1836, 12mo).

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