If you struggle as a pastor or layperson, Gerhardt will inspire you by his life, his confession, his beautiful hymns. If you would like a good look at his significance, follow this link to an article by Uwe Netto-Siemon:
After you have done that, read his testament written to his son, the only one of his children to survive into adulthood:
THE TESTAMENT OF PAUL GERHARDT
Now that I have reached the 70th year of my life—and having the joyous hope that my dear worthy God will shortly save me from this world and lead me into a life better than the one I have had on earth—so I foremost thank God for all His mercy and faithfulness which He has shown me in body and soul and in all He has given me from my mother’s womb to this very hour. In addition I beseech him from the bottom of my heart that He would grant me a joyous departure when my little hour has come, that He would take my soul into His fatherly hands and give my body a soft rest in the earth until the dear last day where I—along with all my loved ones who have gone before and will remain after me—may be see my dear Lord Jesus Christ face to face in whom I have believed yet not yet seen.
To my only surviving son I leave few earthly goods, but at the same time pass on an honorable name of which he will not need to be particularly ashamed.
My son knows that from his tender childhood on I have dedicated him to God that he would be a servant and preacher of His holy word. He should remain such and not turn away only in order to have a few good days. For the dear Lord knows ways and is able to adequately replace outward affliction with inward joys of the heart and bliss of the spirit.
Study holy theology in pure schools and at unadulterated universities, and watch out for synkretists. For they seek the temporal and are faithful neither to God nor man.
In your everyday life do not follow bad company. but rather the will and command of your God.
1. do no evil in the hope that it will remain hidden for nothing is so finely spun that it does not come into the sun.
2. Out side of your office and vocation do not become angry. If you notice that your anger has heated up, remain completely silent and say nerry a word until you have in all seriousness prayed the Ten Commandments and the Creed in solitude.
3. Be ashamed of carnal sinful passions. And when you finally reach the age that you can wed, with God and good counsel wed into a family of pious, faithful reasonable people.
4. Do good to people, even though they are not immediately able to repay you. For what people can not repay, the Creator of heaven and earth has long rewarded you when He created you, gave you His dear Son and when He took you up and received you as His child and heir in Holy Baptism.
5. Flee greed as you would flee hell. Be satisfied with that which you have earned with honor and a good conscience, even if it is not all that much. But if the dear Lord grants you more in life, beseech Him to protect you from harmful misuse of temporal goods. In summary, pray diligently; study that which is honorable, live peacefully, serve honestly and remain steadfast in your faith and confession. Then some day you too will die and willingly depart from this world—joyous and blessed. Amen.
Note that he warns against synkretism. In spite of efforts to appreciate Gerhardt apart from his being a Lutheran, his life, his hymns, his witness are all expressions of a humble but steadfast confessional Lutheran. One verse from one of his hymns is worth a hundred praise songs.
You can read this in German by following this link: http://www.luther-in-bs.de/gerhardt.htm Do not be confused. BS in Germany is the abbreviation for Braunschweig where a very faithful Lutheran congregation continues to bear witness to the truth.
As a final step, pick up your LSB and read or sing through all the hymns Gerhardt wrote. After these exercises, your faith will have been strengthened, your ministry inspired, and your commitment to the Lutheran proclamation of the Gospel re-invigorated.
Posted by pomeranus