Stilling, Jung, whose real name was Johann Heinrich Jung, was prominent as a writer of popular books for edification, and as a theosophico-mystical apocalyptist. He was born at Grund, in Nassaiu-Siegen, Sept 12, 1740. His early years were spent in poverty. A common village school afforded the earliest instruction he received, and his subsequent progress was constantly interrupted by the necessity of practicing his father's trade of tailoring.
Down to his twenty-first year, he studied, taught, and sewed, but never ceased to aspire. He became proficient in geography, mathematics, gnomonics, Greek, and Hebrew; and when he obtained the position of tutor and general manager in the household of the merchant Spanier, at Rade, he added to his acquirements a knowledge of economics, agriculture, and commercial science. At this time a Roman Catholic clergyman of the neighborhood made known to Stilling a secret cure for diseases of the eye, thereby conferring on him a favor by which he profited to the end of his life. A successful cure opened Stilling's way into the household of a wealthy patient, Heyder of Rondorf, whose daughter plighted her troth to him, and whose aid enabled him to obtain in Strasburg the diploma of doctor of medicine in 1771. At Strasburg he first met Goethe and Herder, and also Saltzmann, his life-long correspondent; and their influence undoubtedly did much to enlarge his mental horizon and broaden his sympathies; but it is certain that he never ceased to respect the Pietists, whose influence had guided his early experiences, and that he never wholly separated from them. The earliest pages of his autobiography, which were written at Elberfeld soon after his marriage, and published by Goethe, afforded evidence of increasing independence of thought, and served to decide his position as a literary man. They did not, however, relieve him from debts which he had incurred, nor free him from innumerous enemies whom his too lively imagination and morbid sensitiveness had raised up, and he accordingly accepted the position of professor of finance and political economy in the newly established academy of Kaiserslautern, though the salary was only 600 florins. The transfer of the school to Heidelberg doubled his salary, his practice as an oculist became steadily more profitable, and the expenses of his household were more carefully managed after he married his second wife, Selma von Saint-Florentin (1782), than before. It was not, however, until his transfer to Marburg that the pressure of financial troubles began to lighten. His circle of friends and influence now rapidly widened, and his books and medical practice engrossed his time; as a consequence, his academical duties were, but indifferently performed, and his lectures were but poorly attended by hearers. In 1805 the elector of Baden made him a privy-councilor, with a salary of 1200 thalers, and left him free to write and practice medicine. Rooms were assigned him in the palace at Carlsruhe, where he lived with his family, and where he employed his powers to the utmost in the work to which he was called His correspondence was immense his journeys frequent. He operated, generally with success, upon nearly two thousand patients for diseases of the eye; and, in addition to this, he was indefatigably engaged upon what he regarded as his life mission the preparation of religious, quite evangelical, but still more Apocalyptical books. He was concerned about not only the ordinary questions of eschatology; but also the problems of the future life, the spirit world, our connection with that world, and the apparition of its representatives among men. He endeavored to present such themes in a fresh, attractive, and helpful way, to arouse the sleepers as far as possible, and to gather and unite into a holy family all those who are awake, that they might be ready to meet the Master at his coming. The spirit which possessed him conferred upon him a dignified, quiet, peaceful bearing. His home became a sort of sanctuary, where nothing common or coarse was permitted to enter. Visitors of eminence were constantly arriving, and letters from all quarters kept pouring in. Thousands of his contemporaries expended on him in equal measure their veneration and their love. But his excessive labors exhausted him at length. The death of his third wife, Eliza Coing, of Marburg, preceded his own by only a few weeks. He fell asleep quietly on April 2, 1817.
Stilling was not a profound thinker, nor yet a thorough student. Education had not lifted him out of himself. He was simply the frankest, most natural, and most attractive of Christian romanticists. Even in his favorite field of theosophic mysticism he displayed none of the creative power of Oetinger, nor was he a visionary like J. Bohme; he was simply well read, and possessed the power of vivid description to perfection. His principal works are the Siegesgeschichte, i.e. an exposition and elaboration of the Apocalypse on the basis of Bengel's chronology, and the Theorie der Geisterkunde (Theory of Spirit-law), which is largely based on Swedenborg. He often asserted in his correspondence that he was constrained by the will of God, clearly revealed, to write these books. The most interesting of Stilling's writings are his always mystical stories. Their titles were captivating — e.g. Das Heimweh; Scenen aus dem Geisterreiche — but they were valuable rather on account of their solid contents; the scenes, often well nigh majestic, which they presented; the apparently artless, and yet richly illustrative, adorned, and blooming style in which they were written; the warmth of Christian feeling by which they were pervaded; and the grandeur of the problems they attempted to solve. Comp. the romances, Gesch. d. Herrn von Morgenthau:-- Theodor on d. Linden: — Florentin von Fahlendorn: — Theobald, oder d. Schwarmer:
— also H. Stillings Jugend-, Juglingsjahre, Wanderschafts- und Lehrjahre: — and the Graue Mann. His dogmatical views do not need discussion in this place. His was no philosophical mind, and his dogmatics were simply Christian ascetics in philosophical guise. Stilling is not yet, perhaps, well understood. The letters to Saltzmann reveal him most clearly. In them we observe his sensitive nature, his rich fancy, his power of delicate description, and an all-pervading impression that he is engaged in the service of the Lord. The letters breathe the most humane ideas and the most tender regard for the truth. On his life see Heinroth, Gesch. d. Mysticismus (Leips. 1830), p. 513 sq.; Rudelbach, Christl. Biograph. vol. 1; Winkel, Bonn. evangel. Monatssschrift, 1844, 2, 233-262; Kurze, Gesch. d. Inspirations-Gemeinden, besonders in d. Grafschaft Wittgenstein; Gobel, Gesch. d. wahren Inspirations- Gemeinden, in Niedner's Zeitschrift fir hist. Theologie, 1854, 2, 270; Prot. Monatsblatter, July, 1857; Jan. 1860; Bodemann, Zuge aus dem Leben des J. H. Jung, etc. (Bielefeld, 1844); Aus. den Papieren einer Tochter Stilling's (Barmen, 1860); Nessler, Etude Theolog. sur J. Stilling. (Strasburg, 1860); Encyclopedic des Gens du, Monde, s.v. "Jung, etc."