A remittance was made in March, of one hundred dollars, from the American Baptist Publication Society, to aid Rev. J. G. Oncken in the publication of tracts for Hungary. By the following letter, addressed to Rev. B. R. Loxley, Assistant Treasurer, it will be seen that the donation was most seasonable, and that the stereotype plates of Pengilly's Scripture Guide to Baptism, in German, have been shipped to the society.
Hamburg, April 25, 1848.
My Dear Brother, - Your letter dated March 31, with the enclosed bill on London for L20,5 ($100) as a donation from the Board of the American Baptist Publication Society came duly to hand. The remittance could not have been made at a more seasonable time than the present. The astonishing political events which have taken place in rapid succession, over the whole of the continent of Europe, appear to be destined, by the ruler of the earth to sweep away both political and spiritual despotism, and thus prepare the way for the general diffusion of the glorious Gospel of the blessed God. A new era has broken in upon us, as Baptists, especially. The year of our jubilee has come - our chains are broken - the lock has been removed from before our mouth, and what we have been compelled to teach and preach for the last twenty-five years by stealth, we may now proclaim from the house top. The press, that mighty engine, is free! And free - blessed be God! - is our tongue; and free our assemblies for the preaching of the Gospel. The most inviting field lies now before us, and if we required the assistance of our American brethren before, we require it now tenfold. Remember, my brother, it is not one church, or a few isolated missionaries, who must have their hands filled with good tracts, but fifty churches, twenty five missionaries and colporteurs, and upwards of two thousand believers, who are deeply interested in the conversion of sinners to Christ.
Nor do we require aid only for the deceived millions of Protestant Germany, or for the millions of its Roman Catholic inhabitants, but also for Austria, Bohemia, and Poland. Let me, then, under our present most interesting and hopeful position, as the only body of Christians, on the continent of Europe who are not only proclaiming the everlasting Gospel, but who are anxious to restore all the landmarks of the first churches, and with it that spirit without which the most Scriptural form is useless, beseech you, and through you all our beloved transatlantic brethren, to aid us at present to the utmost of their ability, that we may be enabled to embrace the favorable opportunity, to spread the truth pure and undefiled, far and wide.
The circulation of our tracts, during the past year, (1847) amounted to upwards of ______, and as our funds are exhausted, we shall be soon at a stand.
A case with the stereotype plates of Pengilly's Guide to Baptism, in German, as per bill of lading, has been shipped to New York.
In the anticipation of receiving further encouraging communications from your respected Board, I remain, with Christian regards to yourself and the Board, your affectionate brother,
J. G. ONCKEN.
The following interesting letter was addressed to Rev. T. S. Malcom. It gives an encouraging account of the Baptist cause in France. Our prayers for the French brethren should ascend with increased earnestness.
DOUAI, May 29, 1848.
Dear Brother, - Your very kind note of March 9, 1848, reached me the 29th of the same month, with the draft for one hundred francs in aid of our condemned brethren. I cannot express to you my feelings on perusing your note, and learning with what promptitude you and others hastened to the relief of these men. You had not then heard of the wrathful visitation of the Almighty upon the sordid king of the French, and his corrupt and corrupting ministers. The Provisional Government had already decreed, before the arrival of yours, that all persons condemned to pay fines for holding religious meetings, but who had not yet paid them, were acquitted. This was precisely the case of our brethren. But lately, Mr. Lepoix has been requested to pay 123 francs and costs, which, it is pretended were not remitted by the decree. Whether he will finally have to pay it is uncertain. But if not, the money forwarded will not come amiss, since Mr. Delaborde, the Christian advocate who defended the brethren at the Court of Cessation, had to pay 240 francs, which, in this case, it would be well to refund, as it was money out of pocket. His defence is spoken of as noble; but a heartless-tyrant was then on the throne, and the highest court of the realm, whose judges were his pliant tools, did not hesitate, to confirm the unrighteous sentence of the correctional court of Laon, and the royal court of Amiens. It condemned the brethren, deciding that the Baptists had no legal existence in the kingdom. In this case, brethren, there are several coincidences worthy of consideration. Mr. Martin du Nord was the minister of worship, when these difficulties began, and himself gave special orders for the prosecution of the brethren; which prosecution was set in foot in January of 1847. A short time after, this Mr. Martin du Nord was found in a house of ill-fame in Paris, whither the police was attracted by the nocturnal disturbance, was made a prisoner, and conducted to the corps-de-garde, where, it was insisted that he should give his name. There being no way of escape he did so, to the utter astonishment of all concerned. Something, different was probably expected from the guardian of public morals. He survived this disgrace but a short time, dying of mortification and chagrin.
Our brethren, condemned the 22d of January, 1847, by the court correctionelle de Laon, appealed to the cour royale d'Amiens, where they were also condemned, 25th March, and took thence a final appeal to the cour de Cassation. Much surprise was felt by the interested party at the fact that the case did not come on before this court - it lingered weeks and even months. Finally, Mr. Dalaborde wrote to Lepoix that the magistrate who was to judge the case, in this court, etait en conge, but that he himself was at his post, and would not fail to defend the brethren when the trial came on. We learned afterwards that this magistrate president of the cour de Cassation, was no other than the ex-minister Teste - and that his conge consisted in his condemnation to three years imprisonment, and to receive degradation for divers misdemeanors, especially for peculation, to the amount of 100,000 francs.
What an idea! The chief judge of the Supreme Court of the realm, found guilty of such crimes, and thus condemned - the very man who was to make a final decision in the case of the brethren! Who can doubt what that decision would have been?
The decision was delayed - all the purposes connected with the case were not yet rite. The 7th of January, 1848, the sentence of the courts of Laon and Amiens was confirmed by the court of Cassation. The drama was now drawing to a close. On the 22d of February, some of the most respectable members of the Chambre des Deputes in their interpellation of the ministry, respecting its arbitrary and unlawful conduct in forbidding a political meeting to be holden in Paris, as the bitterest reproach they could cast in its teeth, brought forward the unjust condemnation of the inoffensive Baptists of the Department de l'Aisne. The case of the brethren was, then, the subject of contention between these members of the Chamber of Deputies and the ministry at the moment when the revolution commenced, which drove the dethroned king and his disgraceful ministry from the country. To say the least, these coincidences are remarkably striking - so much so, that a salaried Protestant minister being at my house a few days after these exciting events, told me that the people of this place said that the revolution was a consequence of the prayers of the Baptists. We are compelled to recognize in these astonishing dispensations, the hand of our heavenly Father. "If any man serve me, him will my Father honor," said Jesus - and how remarkably are the words verified in this instance.
Our brethren have not failed to profit by the present liberty. On March 26, the chapel of Mr. Hersigny, at Genlis, one league from Chauny, which had one league from Chauny, which had never been occupied for religious purposes, through the odious intolerance of the fallen dynasty, was publicly opened. A new place of worship was also opened at Verberie, Department de I Oise, April 30. There had been a meeting there for several years, but in an unsuitable locale - they now have a convenient hall and cheering prospects.
The annual meeting of all the agents of the "American Baptist Missionary Union," in France, took place at Bertry, (Nord) May 16 and 17. It was an interesting time, and at the close of the meeting the little company separated, to pursue each his solitary way with to pursue each his solitary way with renewed courage and hope. The day following; there were baptized, at the village of Viesly, the brother of Mr. Fonlon and a person from another place. Mr. Lepoix expects to baptize at Pentecost (11th and 12th June) several persons. He represents the state of things as encouraging, and the work of God as progressing. The brethren are worthy the sympathy and prayers of the American Baptists. I must not, in my haste, omit the thanking of yourself and the other brethren in your city, and section of the country, who have now twice so promptly and efficiently come to the aid of the French Baptists. None have exceeded you, brethren, in this respect. May your labors of love, and your Christian sympathy, continue and abound more and more, and may the recompense of the righteous be yours.
Sincerely and faithfully yours,
[From the Tennesse Baptist, Nashville, August 17, 1848, CD version. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
Baptist History Hompeage