Hauge Movement Transplanted
Among the several million immigrants from Norway who have crossed the Atlantic and have found their homes in America, building innumerable churches, schools, institutions of charity, scattered mostly throughout the Northwest, we shall follow just the narrow lane, the scarlet line, the blood-line running through the converted hearts of the few, who have had real and personal experiences with God; who have walked with Him and talked with Him and won souls for the Lamb of God through the medium of lay - activity and personal evangelism.
We don't thereby undervalue what God might have done and still is doing through the organized churches and church bodies, but that does not come in under our subject.
The church work done by the various denominations and their leading ministers, etc., have been described in innumerable books. While we have very few real books on the spiritual life, struggles and soul-saving work that had their origin in the prayer meeting, in the personal work, in the free and independent lay-activity. May we draw life, power and inspiration from the long row of unselfish witnesses in the laymen's work. Some of them are well- known, many less known, many not known at all, but their names are in the Book of Life. God, add Your blessing that the power and heat of heaven may be upon us for Jesus' sake. Amen.
THE EARLIEST WITNESSES
Pastor Rasmus Jensen
We want this man along, as he is reputed to be the very first man who preached the Word of God in the Scandinavian tongue in America. He was pastor on a Danish ship, which with 65 men came to discover the Northwest Passage in 1619, the year before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. They anchored in Hudson Bay. "Pestilence, snow, hunger and cold laid but four of them low, but Pastor Jensen preached as a dying man to dying men." He died in February, 1620. According to the accounts, the fire of Pentecost and compassion for dying souls must have been in his heart. And his name should be honored among us.
He worked for the Good of Others and Pointed the Way for
Our Fathers to America
Stephen Grellet (Etienne de Grellet) was born in Limoges, France, November 2, 1773. He came to New York in 1795 and was converted through the Quakers. When he saw his lost condition, he cried to God day and night until he found peace and knew that Jesus lived in his heart by faith. He journeyed as a Quaker lay-evangelist till God took him home in 1855. His great aim was that the power of the Spirit should be revealed.
He came to Stavanger, Norway, in 1818, especially to encourage the few Quakers in and around Stavanger, who had become converted, mostly in the English prison camps during the war of 1807-14. These poor converted Quakers had rather a hard time of it in the church of Norway. But brother Grellet used his influence, even through the King of France, to insure them a better treatment. Then he told them about America. He was the very first one who pointed them across the waters. Thus they sent Knut Eide and Cleng Peerson Hesthammer to America to investigate.
So we should have a place in our hearts and in our record for the Quaker lay-preacher, Stephen Grellet. He helped the down-trodden people of God of the Quaker faith in Norway. He pointed them, and us through them, to the great America. He pointed them to Jesus his Savior, whom he loved with an intense love. He served Jesus in the liberty of the Spirit. Stephen Grellet, who pointed the way and gave vision to the poor and needy, shall not be the last person I want to meet when I get into heaven.
Blessed be thy memory of Stephen Grellet!
Cleng Peerson Hesthammer -The Trail-blazer
"Now is the acceptable time''-so it was when Cleng Peerson was sent by the Quakers of Stavanger to investigate and pave the way for a possible settlement of Norwegians in America. He came over here at the right time - in 1821 - and the immigration started at the tide of time, 1825.
Cleng Peerson was born in the parish of Tysvaer, north of Stavanger, May 17, 1782, and was all his life a great traveler. He and Knut Eide were sent as advance agents to find a suitable place for a Norse settlement. Knut Eide died in New York, but Cleng Peerson traveled on and on for three years. He found a place in Upper New York, returned to Norway and led a party of 52 souls on the sloop "Restaurationen" from Stavanger to Kendall, Upper New York, in 1825. Soon Cleng traveled on and on again to Fox River, Ill., to found another home for the newcomers - finding many settlements here and there, dying at last in Texas, December 16, 1865.
It seems as if Cleng Peerson did have a decision day for the Lord some time before he was sent out in 1821. At least in a letter written from New York, December 20, 1824, to Norway he writes among other things: ''Above all deal with one another in a brotherly spirit. Do not fail to love one another. Let us see ourselves as we really are, wretched and feeble; then we shall understand that we always have need of help and salvation from the hand of the Almighty.''
Now this sounds like a testimony from an awakened soul, at least, if not from a personal believer. It surely sounds good.
All accounts give Cleng Peerson the testimony that he was an unusually unselfish, devoted, helpful and friendly man, who would simply forget himself and serve and work for others in the most self-denying and self-forgetting way. He spent his life and strength to be of aid and service to the first settlers.
It certainly is sad that according to some accounts he might have lost his faith in America.
God grant this should not be true about our father of Norwegian immigration and one of the most helpful and unselfish men that ever has arisen among us, and who had written in 1820- "we have always need of help and salvation from God." If true, God grant he came to a true repentance before he died.
Jesus save me now! Jesus save me now! So that I do not lose my faith on life's dangerous journey!
Lars Larson Jeilane-the Leader of the First Immigration Party
This prominent Norwegian Quaker and leader was born in or near Stavanger in 1787. He was a war prisoner in England 1807-1814, or at least part of that time. He was visited in prison by a very earnest English Christian Quaker, Margaret Allen. He worked for her after his release. He was converted, as we have reason to believe, not just to the Quaker faith, but to the living God and the Savior Jesus Christ.
Coming back to Stavanger, he organized the first "Society of Friends'' (Quakers) in Norway and had devotional meetings in his home. The outstanding Christian Quaker, from America, Stephen Grellet, was in his home in 1818 and suggested he and the other Quakers look for a home in America. So after the advance agent Cleng Peerson came back, Lars Larson started for America July 4, 1825. He was married. A girl was born to them on the way, whom they named Margaret Allen, after the English benefactress who had led him to Christ.
Lars Larson must have been a man of means, as he both fitted out the ship "Restaurationen" and later built a large house in Rochester, N. Y. He was an unusually loveable, friendly and hospitable man. Hundreds and hundreds of immigrants, on the way to the Midwest, stopped at the Larson home in Rochester, where he befriended them, housed and fed them absolutely free and gratis. For days at the time, not less than 100 stopped there at one single time. "I was a stranger and ye took me in."
Sad to say, our most noble and unselfish Christian countryman lost his life, falling from a canal boat while on his way to New York, November 13, 1845. Age 58. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace (and love) whose mind is stayed on Thee."
Blessed be the memory of Lars Larson Jeilane !
O1e Olson Hetletvedt - Our Very First Lay-preacher
Sorry to say, there seem to be very few living Christians in the first immigration party that left Stavanger, July 4, 1825. They were fifty-two in all. Many of them seem to be drinkers and carousers. However, there was a little sprinkling of living Christians. There was Larson, the leader, and his wife. There was a single man, Ole Johnson, who lived until 1879, and whose Bible is in keeping yet. There were a few Quakers, and there was the earnest Christian single man, O1e Olson Hetletvedt, who had devotional and prayer meetings among them after the Haugean custom.
So Hetletvedt was the first one among us to sound the bugle of truth and salvation - first on the ship, then first in the Kendall colony, New York, then first again at Fox River, Illinois. He kept on faithfully until his death in 1849. He taught parochial school; he preached and did personal work and conducted prayer meetings. He was around selling Bibles and Christian literature for the American Bible Society at times.
For eighteen years, from 1825 to 1843, there was no ordained minister among our people, but Hetlevedt and others carried on their soul-winning work in private and public to the sick and needy - called by none but God and supported by none but God. Hetletvedt married twice.
Both his wives were American. A very noted son, Colonel Porter Olson, died in action in the Civil War.
May these prayer and devotional meetings old Hetletvedt started in 1825 and kept up for some twenty-four years never die among us. Sinners came to the throne of grace for mercy and pardon then. They will do it now.
The Early Fox River Lay Preachers
The high church historians write and think about Fox River in the early days as a dreadful place in a churchly way - many sects, no ordained pastors, all chaos and confusion and disorder. No organized congregations. No orderly administrations of sacraments. But the low-church, pietistic Christians look upon it in an entirely different light. It is true there were sects and disorder. The awakened Haugean Christians coming from Norway with the strict ritualism of the state church, and who found themselves all of a sudden in a country without state church restraints, were pretty much like a colt coming out in a clover field after standing a long time in a dark stable. There came to be a rather wild tumbling and running back and forth, and various sects were busy in the troubled waders fishing - and some of the good-hearted Christians, taking all for good fish began to join various denominations and sects, even Mormons, thinking they were wonderful Christians.
But looking beneath the surface God had a wonderful work after all in the early days of Fox River. Our impartial historian, 0.M. Norlie, writes about the prayer and devotional meetings at Fox River from 1834 and on: "The immigrants of the low-church group held prayer meetings. At these devotional gatherings some one acted as leader. He would read a Bible selection, which he then proceeded to expound and to apply. Sin and grace was the general theme of every lay sermon, and exhortations to repent and believe were as much a part of the sermon as the 'amen' was a part of their prayers. Anyone in the gathering could take part in prayer, praise, personal witnessing or song. The prayer meetings were serious occasions at which sinners came to the throne of mercy for pardon and peace"
Eternity alone will reveal how many of the early settlers were saved through the Fox River laymen and these blessed meetings in the liberty of the spirit. We should preserve the names of as many as possible of these early spiritual reapers in the Fox River hat-vest field. Many of them started out at Fox River and continued in other places. Fox River came to be the cradle of independent spiritual lay- man's activity in America.
1. Ole Olson Hatletvedt, as described, was No. 1. The pioneer and trail-blazer in independent layman's activity and personal work-on the sloop, in Upper New York, at Fox River and around Lisbon where he came in 1837. For twenty-four years he carried on a blessed work in lip testimony and life testimony, without call, except from God ; without support, except from God.
2. Bjorn Hatlestad came over in 1836. He was not a great lay-preacher, but unusually sincere, earnest and very helpful to all. He drew upon himself much criticism from the high church element when he once said, perhaps in public, that for the sake of the salvation of their souls, the people should leave the high church congregations and join God's people in the Eielsen Synod.
Later he moved to Spring Prairie, Wis. He was founder and charter member of the pietistic church body organized on Jefferson Prairie in 1846 and one of the signers of the old constitution. "To the very end he admonished the people to seek the one thing needfull." He suffered a stroke out in the road and died almost at once, but not until he had given his dying testimony pointing souls to heaven. He was born at Skjold parish near Haugesund, and died at Spring Prairie, Wis., in 1880.
3. Aslak Aae - a very strict old brother and a witness for the Lord.
4. 5. 6. Endre and Herman Aagerbo and John Brakestad.
They were witnesses for God and kept the holy flame alive in the settlement.
7. Per Asbjornsen Mehus did not come over until about 1845. He had some schooling from Stavanger and became a lay-preacher and also colporteur for the American Bible Society. He traveled considerably. He was ordained in 1856 and was a pastor in "the Conference'' till about 1882. He died April 1, 1891. It is to be hoped that he continued after he became a pastor on the old low church, pietistic ground.
8. Knut Person., called "Kamme-Knut" had been a lay- preacher in Norway and continued at Fox River. About 1850 he was worn out both in body and mind, but Jesus held him fast until his blessed end.
Then there were some unstable Haugeans when it came to doctrine; Men who no doubt were spiritual, but rather good-hearted and credulous, and who joined other denominations and sects. They have been pointed to with scorn and much criticism by the strict, high church Lutherans, but no doubt God used them in the new church fellowship to the salvation of souls.
9. Jorgen Pederson was an enlightened and gifted Haugean. He had been a teacher in Stavanger. He was chosen leader and even asked to administer the sacraments in 1838. They thought of ordaining him. But he seemed to have been very easily led and not able to discern the spirits as he should. So he joined some seemingly pious Mormons and soon became a Mormon himself. It is to be hoped that he never forsook the blood-bought ground and his former living faith.
10. Ole Heier was a very earnest Haugean, a gifted man-he had also been a teacher in Norway, and a man with a fine appearance and great ability as a speaker. They thought of ordaining him, but suddenly he also turned Mormon, where he became an elder and at last a bishop in the Mormon Church. However, he was not satisfied there and later joined the Baptists. He no doubt was always a living witness, whom God used in the new fields.
11. Ole Hansen, called Ole "Konsulen" was also a gifted lay-preacher. He joined the Methodists and found his field among them. They were unusually earnest and lived exemplary lives.
12. Hans Valder was a very enthusiastic and gifted lay- preacher. He was born at Vats, Skjold parish, near Haugesund. He joined the Baptists in 1844, and became the first Norse Baptist minister. He no doubt won many souls for the Lord. He moved to Minnesota in 1854.
"Measured by Lutheran loyalty, these Fox River settlers make a bad showing indeed,'' a high church author writes. But God does not measure us by Lutheran loyalty, but by loyalty to the living Christ. "All was chaos and confusion," they say, in the Fox River colony. But when we come to the end of the road, we shall not be surprised to find that from this early settlement with its so-called chaos and confusion we shall find more people in heaven than from any other new settlement in America.
When the swamp-fever and malaria came, when in 1849 the cholera was raging and people died in every other home, God's witnesses were busy visiting the sick and dying, testifying in season and out of season to the well and the sick, the saved, seeking and unsaved. People were carried on the arms of intercessory prayer. The prayer and devotional meetings did not stop. The witnesses were pleading with sinners to come to the mercy-seat.
When Eielsen came and built the first meeting house in 1842 the revival work was still further strengthened. The "saints lived above the world, though Satan's darts at them were hurled.''
Blessed be the memory of the Fox River lay preachers !
Sorry we have neither space nor the funds necessary to describe this outstanding transplanter of low church pietistic simplicity and lay activity among us. It would take a book in itself. We can only touch very briefly upon a few high spots:
1. Early Activity. He was born in Voss parish, September 19, 1804. After he had been in an awakened condition for a few years, he found himself cleansed in the blood of Jesus, in Bergen, in 1832. For seven years he was engaged in an unusual evangelistic activity in Norway, visiting also Sweden and Denmark. Great revivals and great opposition followed. But he was a stone-crusher and an ice- breaker that no one could stop. When he was imprisoned at Slagelse in Denmark, he cried out to some timid Danish Christians : "Be of good courage, my friends, and rejoice in the Lord. He that is with us is stronger than he that is with them."
On the ship on the way to Gothenborg, Sweden, his friend, Thor Agnes, who had watched his unusual amount of personal work, said to him : "Have you spoken to all the people on the ship about their soul's salvation?'' Elling answered : "Yes I have. If you give in, you will fall into the snare of the devil. When you break through, you have the victory." Thus he went on from place to place doing personal work and preaching in season and out of season.
"I must set fire to the whole country," he said. And revival fires certainly sprang up. "Now I have no more room in these countries, I want to go to American," he said. And off our stone-crusher and breaking-plow went, July 15, 1839 - first to New York, then to Chicago, then to Fox River, Illinois-sowing beside all the waters.
2. God used Elling Eielsen at Rock River, Illinois, to bend back the outgoing, living low-church life-stream, which about 1839 was fast leaving the Lutheran Church.
Elling bent it back again into the Lutheran Church by his tremendous preaching and activity from 1839 and on. If this had not been done when it was done, we would no doubt have been swallowed up by high church activity and ritualism both in the beginning and all along the way. The Hauge movement would have left the Lutheran Church and never reached our people.
3. He made unusually toilsome and self-sacrificing journeys in 1841 and again in 1842 to get the Cathechism and Pontoppidan explanation printed and circulated, so that our low church experiencing Christianity might get feet to stand on. Pontoppidan stands for pietism and personal experiences to the bone and marrow. This great work of Elling so early was of tremendous importance.
4. He gave in and allowed himself to be ordained October 3, 1843, to hinder the swallowing up of the converted Christians by the high-church Lutheran congregations. He kept the little remnant together.
5. He founded a church body to include God's people.
This was done on Jefferson Prairie, Wis., April 13 and 14, 1846. A constitution was adopted which is chiefly centered around the live following principles:
First: The constitution is a guiding-line for a spiritual fellowship.
Second: The door into this spiritual fellowship is true experience of repentance and faith, or sincere seeking after salvation.
Third: Simple and Biblical ways and manners shall be followed in all worship. No high church ritual shall be used at any time.
Fourth: Lay activity, the personal testimony and prayer meetings shall be encouraged and stressed.
Fifth: To stand separated from the world and also from the dead and formalistic high church religion.
This was a tremendous undertaking that even our spiritual father, H. N. Hauge, had not dreamed of-to form separate congregations and a separate church body, within the Lutheran fold, but on such strong spiritual principles. Thereby we acquired a spiritual platform, a spiritual head- quarter in a church body, and congregations with prayer and testimony meetings, so that the new converts could find a home, as well as a place where all the converted Christians who came from Norway might gather. And where spiritual life could be transplanted and handed down to succeeding generations-down to us.
6. Eielsen's Personal Evangelistic Activity. This took on tremendous proportions, from house to house, from congregation to congregation, from prairie to prairie, on long journeys up to the far west frontier in Minnesota and the Dakotas and even down to Texas. Often he slept out in the open air, always preaching, always testifying or doing personal work. Something happened when he came. People "either got sad, glad or mad," as Spurgeon puts it. No doubt he is the greatest soul-winner who has been raised up among us.
7. Elling Eielsen's Mistakes-the three divisions.
First split in 1848. Elling was no leader. The younger element became dissatisfied. Things seemed to go too slow for them. So four young men, Ole Andrewsen, Paul Anderson, A. Scheie and 0. J. Hatlestad, they were all young Christians, and a number of others left the Hauge-Elling people and joined other church bodies. At last they founded the Norwegian Augustana Synod in 1870 and joined the federated church body called the United Church in 1890. It was a tremendous loss that these gifted younger men and many others should leave. There were faults on both sides. If Elling had been a good leader it might have been avoided.
Second division. The devil got busy again and in 1856, at Primrose, Wis., at the Synod meeting, Eielsen and P. A. Rasmussen came to the parting of the ways. This was however more natural, as Rasmussen had had a Missouri Synod training. He had become a leader next to Eielsen and even more so. Rasmussen attacked the "old constitution'' which was Eielsen's pet-child, and so they parted, and the Haugeans became sadly divided.
Third split. We are not through with the unclean spirit of trouble among the brethren yet. In 1875 another division occurred. After that time we got the Elling Synod and the Hauge Synod. The fight was again about the constitution, which the younger element wanted to amend, also about the Swedish Pietism and the writings of Rosenius which the older element rejected and the younger element accepted. So they split up again, Elling throwing in his lot with the older element.
8. The persecution Eielsen Endured. This is simply incredible. He was very easy to slander, as he was not in the habit of answering when he was put up against the wall. He simply picked up his hat and left, which very often was poor judgment, as many thought he was ''mad.'' He was accused of theft, drunkenness, cheating and nearly every wrong under the sun except downright murder. The ministers preached against him and wrote against him, holding him up as a false prophet and even as a deceiver. Once he had actually been in prison (in Denmark). Once he was stopped in the entry to the church. He was not allowed to enter. But his family was. So he sat in the cold entry. It was a winter day. Perhaps the very worst act of persecution came from his own people when the Hauge Synod ministers read him out of the church body and expelled him f or having been along and reorganized the Elling church body. But it must be said that Elling took all persecutions in a meek and Christian way. That was one of the strongest points in his character.
9. His Death Bed. This like the rest of his life has been slandered and distorted. But Anna Minde who took care of him during his last illness writes:
"Some of his last words were: 'We must through much tribulation to enter the Kingdom of God.' He wanted us to pray for him. After a season of prayer, we sang one of his old favorites: 'Om himlenes rike saa ville vi tale.' 'We want to talk about the kingdom of heaven.' His very last words were, 'Only for Jesus' sake.'" He died in Chicago, January 10, 1883. On his tombstone in Graceland cemetery is engraved: "Others had trials of cruel mockings and scourging, yea moreover of bonds and imprisonment, Heb.11:36.'' An unusual inscription. It bears testimony to all his persecutions. His Christian and very gifted wife lived until 1904.
Next to the Chief Cornerstone Himself, Elling Eielsen is no doubt our chief Keystone in the spiritual building among us. He is without question the chief transplanter of experienced low church Christianity and the Haugean and laymen's movement from Norway to America.
The "Four Conditions for Membership" of the High Church Ritualistic Element and the so-called “Old Constitution” of the Haugean Revival Movement
By July, 1844, we had three pastors: Elling Eielsen at Fox River, Ill. but who continually traveled as an evangelist; Clausen at Muskego, Southern Wisconsin, and Dietrichson who had just come over and had Koshkonong, also in Southern Wisconsin. Young Dietrichson came as a high church dominating bishop. He had been ordained by Bishop Sorenson of Oslo before he came over. The state church ritualism was personified in Dietrichson. The low church simplicity in Eielsen. Dietrichson wanted to see Eielsen's call-letter. My call letter is in Matthew 28:19, Elling answered: "Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations." Dietrichson held that Elling had not been properly ordained, read him out of the ministry and held him for a false prophet and one who led the people astray. Neither was Elling afraid in the most unspoken manner to speak against the blind leaders of the blind, dumb dogs who cannot bark, dead mass Christianity and unconverted church members who go to communion like the swine to the trough, etc.
Dietrichson was a great organizer of many congregations. The following are the four conditions for member- ship according to J. M. Rohne, who has taught Christianity at Luther College:
1. Do you desire to become a member of the Norwegian Lutheran congregation at this place?
2. Will you to that end subject yourself to the church order that the Ritual of the Church of Norway prescribes?
3. Will you promise that you shall not call or accept any other minister and pastor than such as can clearly establish according to the Norwegian Lutheran Church Order that he is a regularly called and rightly consecrated pastor? And will you show the pastor thus called by you and the congregation to spiritual rulership the attention and obedience that a member of a congregation owes his pastor in all things that he requires and does according to the Ritual of the Church of Norway?
4. Will you, by signing your name or by permitting it to be signed, here make acknowledgment that you have joined the congregation on the above-named conditions?
Such worldly, club-affair churches where all kinds of ungodly people according to the ritual would be addressed as "good Christians," were an utter abomination to Elling Eielsen. E. Morstad in his book asks: "How could Eielsen as a true Christian and a true servant of God sanction such worldly churchianity? Should he not look upon it with utter disgust and at all occasions, publicly and privately, warn against it as a soul-pestilence? And this he did. Again and again he said in his speeches Words such as these:
"Saa bar det los med dans og drik og sus og dus, og saa gaar man til nadveren som svinet i trauget.'' They carry on with dancing and drinking, carousing and reveling and then go to communion like the swine to the trough.
When the world thus was organized into so-called congregations where God's people could find no home and no Christian fellowship, the converted Christians finally felt that they also should come closer together. So they came together for a large and very blessed Christian fellowship meeting at Jefferson Prairie, Wisconsin, April 13th and 14th, 1846, and organized themselves into a church body under the name : "The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America," and adopted a constitution.
They held the meeting in a log-house and God's blessing rested upon them from beginning to end. Many believers were gathered from Fox River, Jefferson Prairie, where the meeting was held, Rock Prairie, Yorkville Prairie, Queen Ann Prairie, Muskego and even from Koshkonong, where Dietrichson himself was in control of things and never tired of attacking Eielsen and the living Christians in public and private.
"At this blessed meeting the Word of God worked on the people to awakening, guidance and edification.''
The following constitution was drawn up at Jefferson Prairie and corrected and ordered into paragraphs four years later. Eielsen is the main author, but two gifted young men, Paul Anderson and Ole Andrewsen who had some schooling, were secretaries-especially Andrewsen - and did the writing. However, we must remember it was the common understanding of all God's people present.
The constitution consists of 20 paragraphs and we shall refer to a few of them here and there. Compare them to the "four conditions.''
Par 1, in part: "We who are united by the grace of God join ourselves into an official church body in conformity to the genuine Lutheran faith and doctrine built on God's Word, etc.-for our faith and confession, as living members under our Savior Jesus Christ, who is the head of our Church."
We see how the living Christianity is shining forth here.
Par. 2-a1l: "In accordance with the order and manner which the Holy Scriptures teach and convince that nothing common and unclean can enter the New Jerusalem (Rev.
21:27, etc.) , so no one ought to be accepted as a member of our body, except he has passed through a genuine conversion, or is on the way to conversion, so he has a true sorrow for his sins, and hunger and thirst after righteousness, from which must follow improvement in his conduct as a testimony of the living faith's work in soul and heart, about which the Scriptures testify so expressly to be of absolute necessity for every true member of the true church of God.''
This paragraph especially became the target of the enemy as a dreadful thing in a constitution. It was to put themselves up as judges, etc., etc. But we now realize that it was really the cornerstone of the church body itself. It is wholly Biblical. If this paragraph should be taken out or changed, why organize a church body? They might as well go in with the others, who held the same Lutheran doctrine.
However, an element developed gradually inside the church body itself, especially among the young pastors, which led finally to a split in 1875-76. They wanted to get rid of this paragraph and thereby to knock the cornerstone from under their own church body, which time proved.
Par. 3, 4 and 5 have to do with a holy life, church discipline according to God's Word and restoration.
Par. 6 in full : "With popish authority and also with the commonly used ministerial gown and vestments we hence- forth have absolutely nothing to do, since there is no proof in the New Testament that Jesus or His disciples have used it or commanded to use it. To the contrary we can read in Matt. 23:5; Mark 12:38 and Luke 20:46 that Jesus strongly reproved those who went about in long garments and performed acts of piety to be seen of men. Experience also teaches, that both minister and hearer often place a blind trust in the dead church ceremonies and the minister's robes and vestments, and through this do away with God's command because of their custom. Matt.15:6.''
This is, to be sure, a radical paragraph and as far from the high church view as pole from pole. But Elling and our fathers realized that they either had to make a complete and radical departure from high churchism and ritual- ism, or else soon be swallowed up by it. And is not the condition just the same today? The moment you begin to yield to ritualism, you will little by little slide into it until you are lost in it.
Par. 7 has to do with following in the blessed footsteps of our Master.
Par. 8 is about the calling of a minister as an ambassador in Christ's stead. Adding at the close: "But this calling is abused by many to become a deadly poison, so that they deceive both themselves and others with the hope of salvation, until they awake in hell." Isa. 3:12; Matt. 7 :15.
A very strong one, but how necessary that the poor people should get their eyes open on this point, not only in regard to high church ritualism, but modernism, evolution, etc.
Par. 9 mentions that ministers should be called a year on trial and also have the necessary knowledge, "but this," it adds, "as everything else must be subject to the Lord in faith and obedience, that not ours, but His will be done." Then numerous Bible passages are quoted, etc., to show that Jesus will give them the Holy Ghost who humbly ask Him for it, and it reminds us, that "Jesus Himself chose laymen and unlearned men to preach the Gospel, which was done with such power and unction that the worldly- wise in surprise had to ask: Are not all these who speak Galileans?''
It is here brought out clearly what kind of ministers our pietistic fathers wanted: Above all, spiritual men. And also laymen's work and lay-evangelism were wanted.
Par. 10 has to do with the instruction of the young and how to teach them to pray and lead them to Jesus, so we shall quote it in full:
"The young should be instructed in God's Word from their early youth. The A B C Book, Luther's Small Catechism of the older and unadulterated editions, and Pontoppidan's "Truth Unto Godliness' should be taught and be explained to the young, so they can be enlightened concerning all of God's plan of salvation. Each father and mother (husfar og husmor) should diligently instruct their children and members of their household and by prayer and meditation on God's Word help along, as much as they by God's Grace are able, that they, as living branches should grow into the true Vine into which they are grafted. Like- wise they should be taught to pray and to call upon God, as children especially are more easily induced to pray than grown-up people. The grown-up people should pray in a reverent way, as this also will have influence upon the hearts of the young and attune their hearts to more spiritual earnestness. Especially ought to be held forth the sweet love of Jesus toward those who call on Him."
Better guidance in training children for Christian life could hardly be given in so few words.
Par. 11, 12 and 13 continue to impress the need of schools and Christian instruction, "so that we as Christ's true followers may let God's Word dwell richly among us, and along this line help the needy both to soul and body." Also that the children should be taught two languages, first the mother tongue, yet in such a way that the public school should not be neglected.
Our fathers had the right vision for their children, and were not so narrow and against education as some have held them to be.
Par. 14 cracks down pretty strongly on the system of slavery and slave-traffic, which some of the high church ministers defended as instituted by God. We quote it in full:
"Standing together as one, we absolutely repudiate the dreadful sin of giving our consent to the slave-trade; but rather use all possible diligence in bringing about and sup- porting the opposition to it, to the freeing of the Negroes, since Jesus has said 'all things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them ; for this is the law and the prophets' (Matt. 12 :7) . They are also redeemed with the same blood and destined to inherit the same glory, as other races. We advise that each one give this matter closer consideration."
Par. 15 is a scriptural admonition to God's people to stand united and not cause any friction within the Christian fellowship.
Par. 16 has to do with duties of elders to oversee the Christian training and the Christian testimony within the church.
Par. 17 says: "Likewise ought the congregation to unite in supporting by free-will offering those persons whom the church shall elect to travel and proclaim God's word."
Lay-evangelism is here certainly encouraged in a blessed Way.
Par. 18 provides for real Christian instructors in religion, who really can lead the children into the truth-stressing that such teachers must stand united with God's people.
Par. 19 enjoins the duties of a pastor and that he should be taken under church discipline for unbecoming life or false doctrines.
Par. 20 tells us how the two sacraments should be administered. "We follow" it adds, "the Altar Book of the Church of Norway in all things that have to do with doctrines bearing on salvation. But we eliminate the use of laying-on of hands in absolution, since it cannot be seen from the Holy Scriptures that Jesus and His apostles have used this at the Lord's Supper; but as Paul reminds each to try himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. But when the pastor in his preparatory address has made plain the way of life and the way of death, as a faithful shepherd of souls, he concludes his talk in this wise, 'Accordingly, then from God's Word is declared to all penitent, repentant and believing souls the forgiveness of sins in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.' "
Then in conclusion: "God give us all His grace to unite in Jesus' name and in His mind, that the power of His suffering and death might be manifested in all our ways and dealings with men. Amen"
This then is the sum and substance of the constitution of 1846, as revised in 1850, and which should prove to be such a storm-center in the church-an offense to the Jew and foolishness to the Greek. We who have the Holy Spirit realize the presence of God and His blessed Spirit through- out the document. Every paragraph is wrapped around with blessed scriptural truths. There is real edification in it. It separates God's people from the world. It encourages lay-activity and evangelism. It puts God's people like a city on the hill. It breathes out living Christian experience. It testifies of the true and deep Christian life of our spiritual fathers who gave us this document. The living Truth, the Holy Ghost and God's own born-again people are put in their right place. Then there is also real salt in it.
This "old constitution'' which has been laughed to scorn so many times, held God's people together in the time of storm. It gave the Hauge revival movement a base to stand on. Without it, it might have perished in the way. It is a living stone hewed out of the living Rock.
Letters to Bjorn Hatlestad
Bjorn Hatlestad who had come to America in 1836 and was one of the early Fox River witnesses, but now lived at Spring Prairie or Bonnet Prairie, Wis., was a real father in Christ. A number of letters have been preserved, which he received from other earnest Christian Haugeans, while his answers have been lost. One of the outlets of the blessed brotherly love were letters, we might call them chain-letters as they were sent around for many families to read. As our space and funds are limited, we can quote but a few and a little of each. Erik Morstad in his book on Elling Eielsen gives a number of them in full. We shall give a few samples:
Winnebago Co., the 8th of May, 1857.
Very beloved and often remembered friend, Bjorn Hatlestad and wife!
You are held in loving memory by the people here, and we wish that our fellowship and friendship in Christ shall continue in Spirit and in Truth by faith in Jesus.
We have to confess that we are far behind what we ought to be, my wife and I for our lost nature is so hard to over- come, but God has promised us His grace. This winter ' God has visited us and renewed His work in many hearts.
A number have begun to ask: "What shall I do to be saved?''
Yes, God be praised who bends the heart to a true sense of sorrow for sin, otherwise we cannot truly call upon God for forgiveness. We can give assent with our mouth, but the heart is far from God.
Be sure to pray for us, dear brethren (soskende), that we may be in more earnest about our soul's salvation. Some souls here we hope have come to a real awakening.
It would be very good if you could visit us again, that we might be built up in our most holy f aith. We greet you from the friends here : Paul Dalen, Sven Halling, Sven Husetoft with wife and children. Yesterday Sven's children were confirmed and many were gathered. Also greetings from Harald Mohn, his father and wife-very hearty greetings. God give us grace to fight the good fight of faith unto the end. Amen.
Your friend, Soren Olsen.
Next we shall quote nearly all from a letter by Elling himself:
Jefferson Prairie, Wis. June 2nd, 1851.
Dear Brother, Bjorn Hatlestad and Wife:
It surely was good to receive your letter. Yes, dear brother, it was very encouraging for myself and other friends who have read it. May we forsake ungodliness and come to a true conversion and living faith in Jesus and have real heart-concern both for our own and for the salvation of others.
We are sorry to acknowledge that the Gospel of the Kingdom is falsified both in heart and by mouth by too many of the servants of the word (ordained ministers). Also by the many sects who are crying, see here is Christ! May we discern the spirits to determine whether they be of God. You, dear brethren, who have tasted the good Word of God, hold fast that no one shall take your crown. Don't be discouraged, dear brother, trust in the Lord and He will be with you.
When we left the dear friends on Bonnet Prairie, we came the same day to the Norwegians near Waupon and held devotional meetings in the evening. The people desired us to stay longer with them. But next day we went to Sven Husetoft, where I confirmed three of his children. It appeared it was important, especially for two of the girls, to be renewed in their baptismal grace.
The other friends I found in a hopeful condition. Sven Halling had a real conviction of sin and grace. I was especially encouraged to find that it had taken such a serious turn with Harald Mohn, his wife and old father. They came with the other friends to communion and it was very touching to hear them pray to God in the devotional meetings. May God give them grace to be steadfast unto the end! Then we went to Rock River near Watertown, Wis. Some of the young people there were touched by the Word of God.
At Blue Mounds, where Torger Madsen lives, not so many have come to awakening and are united in fellowship with us. We have also been to Long Prairie and we can greet you so much from the friends there. By the grace of God the fire has been kindled anew. Many have awakened to a new life and make good progress. Our young Christians are kept in the same spirit. Some of the friends who be- fore had been in some doubt have now separated themselves from the state church and are now united with us. (Old Elling is still calling those who practised the high church ritual of the state church of Norway the "state church").
In several places the people have got their eyes open to the fact that the practice and foundation of faith of the ordained ministers is only an attachment to dead customs and ceremonies. There is no sign of true Christianity in them, and the people began to be afraid of them.
Greet all friends on Bonnet Prairie and Spring Prairie. Knut Landru is here now and asks me to greet you and thank you for your letter to him. We certainly should like to have you come to our meeting at Lisbon, Ill., the 16th of June (1852) , but I suppose you cannot get away. Greet the Columbus people when convenient. Finally your dear f riends are greeted with sincere love from the friends here at Jefferson, and lastly from myself and wife to yourself, wife and the other friends. Rasmussen is also greeting both you and the others very lovingly.
(The above letter was dictated by Elling, but written by P. A. Rasmussen.) It certainly gives insight into the life, love and activity of the early Haugeans and their spiritual fathers in Christ.
Finally we shall have a letter from Chicago by T. 0. Ryg.
Chicago, June 12th, 1851.
Beloved friends on Bonnet Prairie, Bjorn Hatlestad and wife and other friends : I a humble brother and fellow soldier on the way of life, wish that the peace of God that casteth all understanding may keep your hearts from sin. God will give it to us when we obey His Spirit. May we disconnect ourselves from the love of the world. Yes, be- loved brethren, (soskende) may we be very obedient to the blessed reproofs and promptings of the Spirit, so that we do not live to ourselves any more but live in the faith of the Son of God, our Savior, who loved us and gave Himself for us.
How wonderful is the grace of God toward us. He does not grow tired and weary working on our hearts, though we often have to acknowledge we have disobeyed and have not been as watchful in faith and prayer as we ought to be. It sure was fine (kjaert) to hear from you that God with His Spirit is working among you in these dangerous days, when it looks like the devil with all his instruments, both seen and unseen, is using all his powers to disturb the Kingdom of our God and Savior and oppress and lead astray the little flock of the Lord.
0, that we might stand united in prayer with and for each other in these times, when the Gospel of the Kingdom is falsified in so many ways and often under the appearance (skin) of truth.
What causes us concern is, we suffer as you know, much persecution here. But we must praise God that some souls are added to the number of God's people. Torgerf Madson and P. A. Rasmussen are here now and expect to leave for the Synod meeting at Lisbon (Ill.) tomorrow. We shall be glad to hear from you. You are all greeted from the fellowship of friends here. Finally you, dear brother, and wife are greeted most lovingly from me. Greet Hellek and Kari.
Torger Olsen Ryg.
There then are only three, but they are specimens of thousands of letters the old Haugeans in America wrote to one another. These letters kept the spiritual movement alive, held the chain of brotherly love from breaking. They had more to do about strengthening the Haugean Revival movement in this country than we realize. Now we have weekly papers, The Vidnesbyrd, the Indremissionsvennen and the Morning Glory. They are engaged in the same mission as the old chain letters among the early Haugeans: To encourage and strengthen spiritual life and the gifts of grace and to convert sinners. The silent forces are often the mightiest. So the mission of the printed word has a mighty influence among us, keeping the holy flame alive.
Mrs. Kari Nyhus (Newhouse)
This blessed Lydia of the early Haugeans most certainly deserves a little memorial wreath. Her loghouse and her hearth were always open to God's people and to God's messengers. There they were at home and felt at home. She kept a little Bethany for the servants of God, where they could find love and refreshments for body and soul. When they left her home, she knew by instinct how much food they would need to take with them, and how far they would have to go, and how hungry they would be before they reached their destination.
It was Christmas time in 1843, Erik Morstad declares. Elling Eielsen and his friend Peter Thompson had walked far and it was getting dark. It was slushy weather and they were wet, cold and stiff. They had left the home of Kari Nyhus in the morning and still had her good lunch with them as they looked for a place to stay over night. They saw a light, found a logout, which they were permitted to enter-but only to eat the lunch and get a little water. The lunch Kari Nyhus had sent along certainly tasted good. Her wonderful love and hospitality stood out in sharp contrast to this house where they in a very cold spirit hardly were permitted to sit down and eat their lunch and certainly not allowed to stay over night.
However, they took their overcoats off, warmed them- selves a little, sat down, thanked God and began to eat. When through eating these refreshments of love Kari Nyhus had sent along, Elling said to his friend: "Per, now you must sing." "I don't feel as though I am able to sing now," Per said. "I want you to sing, I tell you," Elling answered. "I knew it was of no use to say 'No' to Elling," Peter Thompson continued, "so I sighed to God for courage, for we were in the home of an American family who did not understand Norwegian.'' But Per sang and Elling joined in:
"Av Hoiheden oprunden er
En morgenstjerne saa klar og skjaer,'' etc.
"The Day star from on High has come."
The Spirit of God worked as they sang. The man and especially his wife were deeply touched. She broke out weeping, though she could not have understood a word. It was the Spirit. She then made her confession, that she once had been a Christian but had backslid. Elling dealt with her about her soul. Of course, now that the hearts were opened the home was opened too and they were invited to stay over night. They were given the very best bed in the house.
We can discern the shining "lower light'' behind it all- the hospitality, love and good lunch Kari Nyhus had sent along. Without that, this spiritual incident and many others could not have occurred.
Kari Nyhus stands as a specimen and pattern of all the fine hospitable women, who during these 100 years have helped the Haugean Revival movement along more than any one of us realize. Without such hospitality and open home and willingness to serve the Haugean movement can- not prosper nor can the local societies. I believe we all realize it and appreciate it, and are very thankful for it.
Blessed be the memory of Kari Nyhus and all the other women of her type who have helped, served and befriended the people of God.
Gaute Stene and Gudmund Strand
The converted hearts of the Haugeans in Norway were deeply grieved when they heard about the sad split among their brethren in America in 1848. The ties were tender and brotherly love was a living thing, though the vast ocean separated them.
As Barnabas was sent to Antioch and as Peter and John were sent by brethren to help things along in Samaria, so in truly apostolic fashion the believers in Norway sent two messengers who were filled with the spirit of love and wisdom to help God's people here in America. They were Gaute Stene and Gudmund Strand.
We do not know much about Brother Stene. He seems to have been a young man, while Gudmund was 55, when he came over. Gaute Stene must have died shortly after 1854. He came over in 1849. His memory should live among us. He was a spiritual tie between the brethren in Norway and in America. He was a messenger of true brotherly love. The heart-beat of true love could be felt in those days. May it always be so.
Gudmund Strand seems to have been the leading spirit of the two brethren. We may be sure the Christian friends in Norway did not send over some unwise hotheads, who might make conditions worse instead of better. Gudmund was a tried and experienced brother. He was of much help and encouragement to the brethren both after the split in 1848 and after the stormy synod meeting at Primrose, Wis., in 1856, when P. A. Rasmussen left them. Gudmund was then elected president of the meeting. However, his strong point was not to lead meetings. But there was a blessed spiritual balance in him and God used him to keep His people together in a stormy period.
In 1858 Gudmund Strand was ordained. He was then 64. The ordination, as we call it, was in those days a real New Testament affair. First of all the brethren fell on their knees and prayed that God should separate the one for service He wanted. Then if there were several they might have in mind, or the case was doubtful, they drew lots. The one that the lot fell on was set aside to be pastor.
The synod meeting was held at Spring Prairie, Wis., in 1858. Arne Boyum, a young Christian of 24 years, who was chosen pastor by lot, writes in his autobiography:
"We were three candidates present. One was to be chosen. They took six similar strips of paper. Three were blank and three were marked by an 'X'. They were put in a hat. A little boy held the hat and was to select three of six strips and give them to the candidates.
"But before this was done the whole audience went down on their knees and prayed that God's will should be done, 'old Elling' leading in prayer. There were tears in many eyes. Most of the friends were deeply touched. After rising from prayer the little boy stepped forward and gave three strips of paper-one to each candidate." Only Arne Boyum received one marked "X", the others received blank ones and were not ordained.
In Gudmund Strand's case, no drawing of lots was used as we know. He possessed the confidence of all. There was no doubt. He was ordained at the same meeting. All of it shows how deeply in earnest our fathers were that none should be pastors unless they were sure that God had appointed them.
Gudmund Strand was a man filled with the spirit of prayer. Erik Morstad in his book on Elling Eielsen tells of a discussion between the Haugeans and the high church ministers. There were many of these discussions, but this particular one was at a synod meeting in 1852.
Eielsen preached in the forenoon on the text in John 16: "Marvel not that the world hates you." One of the high church ministers got very offended at this sermon. Later these preachers started to discuss whether lay-people had a right to speak the Word of God in an audience. One of them came with a quotation, which he said was from Luther:
"Even if I saw that souls were led astray and went to hell in large numbers, and I with my preaching (salig laer-dom) could hinder them from going to hell, still I would not do it- I would not preach the Word of God if 1 did not have a human call (call from the church) to do so. Yes, even if some citizen (burger) should call me to do it, I ought not to do it."
Several of the Haugeans, especially Gudmund Strand, made a strong stand against this. Gudmund with much clearness and strong emphasis showed from the Bible and the writings of the fathers that the Christians have not only right but really owe it to God and the world to confess His virtues who has called them out from darkness into His marvellous light. Gudmund ended his testimony by saying:
"I don't follow Luther any further than Luther follows the Bible (which Luther himself has said we should not), even if there were ten Luthers who taught differently."
"At the close of these strong words Gudmund prayed. That prayer was so filled with the spirit and unction that tears fell even from the eyes of the opponents."
Gudmund Strand lived a very conscientious and blame- less life. At the auction, when he left the old country, he told the prospective buyers to look well at the articles before they bid on them. He did not want a cent above what any article was worth. "Examine the quilts and the blankets on the inside, before you buy. There might be holes in them," he said.
Strand was born in the parish of Kvinnherred, May 22, 1794. He was ten years older then Elling Eielsen. He lived in one of the parishes near Haugesund when he left for America. God called him home January 23rd 1864, at the age of 70. He was a man of a self-sacrificing manner and with a gift to discern the Spirit of God. He lived near God in child-like f aith and prayer. When he poured out his heart to God in prayer, it became peculiarly quiet in the audience. The Lord was there. He was a tiller, a cultivator and a waterer in the Garden of God. He fullfilled the mission the Haugeans in Norway sent him to do over here. Through his exceedingly helpful service, the Haugean Revival movement struck deep roots here in America.
Blessed be the memory of Gaute Stene and Gudmund Strand!
The Four Young Friends Who Left Eielsen in 1848-
Andersen, Andrewson, Scheie and HatlestadThe
They were left wingers and looked upon as radicals, inventors of new-fangled ideas, un-Lutheran, and as we would say, radicals in the church that might join any fanatic movement that came along and soon to disappear and never to be heard of. But instead they were destined to have a most remarkable career, which perhaps has never been equalled by four other young laymen or layman's pastors in any church. Their mutual friendship in Christ which was to last through many trials during a long life was very unique. Their poise and balance in true doctrine were remarkable as they were denounced by the synod pastors and even the Haugean as un-Lutheran. Paul Andersen no doubt had used some unguarded statements, but they were to prove in life and doctrine afterward that they were fully as good Lutherans as the Haugeans of the main group, if not a little stronger. Though in a way rejected by the other Haugeans, they ever continued as true Haugeans and pietists at heart and always stood for the low-church form of worship and experienced Christianity with awakening, con- version, separation from the world and a truly Godly life.