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The Life of
Samuel Heinrich Fröhlich
Part 4

Extension

The persecutions brought Froehlich in October 1832 to Zuerich to his sisters where he could remain a week. In Zuerich the truth began to find a way. The movement spread farther and farther through Froehlich's tireless activity and reached over into other areas. Even the newspapers could not stop this, though they agitated: "The sect of the Rebaptizers is growing in the Cantons of St. Gall, Appenzell, Thurgau, and Zuerich," and publicly called upon the government of the Canton Aargau to prevent the "dangerous sectarian" S. H. Froehlich from moving about. In Appenzell believers were beaten till blood flowed and fined up to 100 gold pieces, a large amount at that time.

In his addresses and talks, Froehlich used an earnest, clear and positive speech, which awakened the lukewarm and chastened the opponents of the truth. This led to a decision of the spirits; the one to repentance, the other to enmity.

Expulsion and Departure

Early in 1837, Froehlich was forced to the realization that he could not remain long in his native city as his marriage took place without state-church copulation, being blessed however by the united prayer of the congregation at Hauptwil. As this was not according to state-church order, its validity was not recognized by the civil authorities. The home (state-church) congregation at Brugg denied the young woman the right to be received into citizenship, although the publication of the banns had taken place, and the marriage sanction, the marriage certificate and the immigration sanction had been granted. All petitions to the authorities of Cantons Aargau and Thurgau, as well as an interview with the federal president at Berne, to obtain recognition of the marriage were without result.

On March 20,1843, Froehlich was expelled from the city of Zuerich as a sectarian, five months after the completion of the series of sermons on the Epistles of John. He appealed, but this was denied on April 10th, after an interim of five days. He traveled to  Wil, Hauptwil and later to St. Gall, where his family visited him by day. It was impossible for him to stay in Hauptwil as a reward had been offered for his capture. On June 27th he was also expelled from St. Gall. He fled by night to Rapperswil and sought refuge at Hirzel, a small village on Zuerich See.

In June 1844, Froehlich made one more attempt in Brugg to bring his marriage papers in order. He was told that the marriage could be recognized only if he would allow the baptism and confirmation of his children. As his conscience forbade this, there was nothing else to do than leave his fatherland altogether and settle in Strassburg, where, at last, he had in prospect to find a homestead. For the time being he could not take his family along; that was not possible until June 1846, when he finally succeeded in obtaining legal recognition of his civil marriage and then after seven years of enforced separation he was united with his family in a home in Strassburg. Although Froehlich could achieve nothing for himself in Switzerland for legal recognition of his marriage, yet he was a pioneer with respect to it for others in a matter which weighed down so heavily upon the believers.

Determination

The brotherhood met in the Rohr July 10, 1843, to make petition or the recognition of their society. They resolved that the congregations should hold fast to their principles according to the Word of God, and to carry them out whatever the cost might be. Opposition was asserting itself everywhere. Yet it was not possible to repel the light that had appeared. The good seed had been sown and had brought forth its fruits.

As he had been expelled from the Canton Zuerich in September 1843, he could not abide in one place very long in order not to expose himself to arrest and punishment. In his distress, Froehlich remembered the advice given him ten years before in London to settle in Strassburg where there was freedom of speech. This course he now took.

Froehlich's departure was a severe temptation for the congregations in Switzerland. In the storms of those years his experience was invaluable. An active correspondence shortened the distance that separated then, whereby the messenger service of traveling or visiting brethren was utilized. Of one of these trips, it is reported that he carried a package of 70 letters. By means of mutual visits the bond was kept dose and especially were the various extended journeys which Froehlich made from his new home into Switzerland a blessing and joy to the churches.

Typical of the depth of his letters, we give here excerpts from letters written In September 1856, a few months before his death:

Zuerich, September 3-6, 1856, To the Church in Berne

I have received an invitation to a conference of Baptist preachers from Germany, France and Switzerland which will be held here from the 4th to the 8th of this month. It concerns the union of all the various and separated parties among the Baptists. However, as this union could be only an outward one, without the inner one of the Spirit of Christ and the truth, I cannot take part in the conference and have therefore written them a detailed reply outlining my reasons for declining.

Such a formal union would have the result that we would have to allow all such who differ with us in doctrine to teach in our meetings for thus they expressly write: “That the various bodies, regardless of the differences of their views, ought to work together for the one great purpose of the kingdom of God.” Thus the matter has a good appearance and a fine title, but in itself a destructive character and poison. Is it according to the apostolic rule and evangelical truth that men of the most varied opinions and views should unite themselves for one purpose in the kingdom of God? Is not that Satan in the form of an angel of light? I believe that here applies our Savior's warning that in the last days the seduction would be so subtle that if it were possible even the elect would be drawn into error.


We can insist upon nothing so much as that all brethren in the Lord be of one mind, endowed with one doctrine, and here it is declared that this difference has nothing to do with the working together in the kingdom of God.

I am therefore writing you this, that if anyone should trouble you about it, you may know the true state of affairs. For, for example, the Brothers L....... received the invitation before I did and were willing to accept it and to attend the conference, until I came here.

To me, my life in itself is not precious. However, I rejoice if the Lord, through me, does things for the comfort and well-being of the brethren; for the church is everything to me and for her I will present what I am able to do and I also would be presented as a sacrifice if it is the will of our Father in Heaven.

All is grace and Christ does everything for His Father's sake, to the glory of His name, when He bestows gifts and powers to His servants and messengers. For it concerns the destruction of Satan's kingdom and rule on this earth and the restoration of God's kingdom and glory. To this end the Son came and paved the way to victory by His victory. It may be gradual, slow, as long as the Gospel is preached, and much is done in a false guise that should have prestige as if it were for God's kingdom and the hurt of Adam were healed (in the easiest way), as if nothing else were necessary than to just believe, but if the whole world remains in enmity against God in the disposition of the flesh, that amounts to nothing.

Zuerich (Thursday), September 4, 1856: Letter to Baptist Preachers'

Conference

To the honorable Baptist Preachers' Conference, esteemed Friends:

You have honored me with a written invitation to your conference. But as I am not in position to accept this invitation, I at least feel myself obligated to reply to your letter, giving a few reasons. First and in general, I have a poor opinion of the benefit and results of such conferences, especially as they concern the truth and the kingdom of God. They remind me too much of the erstwhile church synods and councils where men desired to replace the missing truth by means of human inventions and wisdom, to great harm of the truth and the church of God. For just as there is only one truth, so also is the true church in itself just one, and this oneness (unity) has not to first be discovered or established by means of conferences.

Here the words of the prayer of the Lord (John 17:21) do no at all apply, for Jesus did not pray the Father that many existing organizations, each resting on its own foundation, might be merged into one, for under none of these organizations could another foundation be laid than that on which it already rests. Rather this was the prayer of the Son, that all who are converted to Him and, through the word of the apostles, become believers on Him, be completely one, even as He and the Father are truly one. This unity is accordingly given and exists in the true faith (by virtue of this intercession of Jesus) and should not first be achieved later on, between various separately-established organizations by means of conferences and all sorts of human endeavor.

On the basis of the divine truth therefore, such an intended union is impossible because the divine truth is not the foundation of these individual organizations, otherwise one would not primarily have to bring it into existence artificially. If a church rests on the foundation of the truth it will not afterwards confer with other organizations, otherwise it would mix the truth with strange additions and errors, and what is worse, no organization resting on a foundation of error is inclined to relinquish its false principles.

How is it possible then to have a union based on the truth? Where the foundation is one there the hearts are already one, and where the foundation is false, the individual hearts must make a new beginning. Now many have already passed judgment on me, that my foundation upon which I build the church, namely, my doctrine and my baptism are wrong, in that I ascribe too much to baptism and do not permit baptism to be an opus opera tum or a formal confession of the believer and that as a result I, for 25 years, teach that he who by baptism is born again is no longer a sinner, but has become a child of God in order to walk in a new life as a righteous and holy person, otherwise God would be a father of sinners like the devil.

I maintain therefore, that every organization which teaches and believes that the man in Christ is a sinner also, like the man in Adam (I John 3), stands on a false foundation. And if they, under the circumstances, constitute a church ordained according to the Word and will of the Lord, then I must deny this. No apostle of the Lord would acknowledge them as such, inasmuch as they say that the various organizations, regardless of the difference of their views, should work together for the kingdom of God.

In a true church of God one permits no difference of views to arise or to obtain. Unity and agreement must exist even on points of minor importance, for just in this free choice of views Satan has his sport and his playground and thereby the door is opened to error (Phil. 3:15-18; I Cor. 14:35-38; I John 2:22-27; II John 10 and Titus 3 :10).

Division is better than the union of unlike elements. In our last times the kingdom of heaven is like unto ten virgins who cannot be united (made one) because of their inner differences, even though there is apparently a formal unity in their endeavors. Each must look out for herself; the end will reveal who was right and who was wrong.

By a formal union, all those who teach otherwise would have the right to teach in our church, without the inner unity of the doctrine of Christ, and that shall not be. 

I do not love strife and commit every strange servant unto the Lord. I however have been judged of all and therefore say with Isaac (Genesis 26:27), “Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me and have sent me away from you?


Finally, we would have to unite with such organizations that have accepted those who departed from us or who were expelled, whereby they prove sufficiently that we do not belong to one church, for the one church of Jesus Christ has not many entrances but only one.

In general, different churches cannot become one in Christ, although the many local churches in the time of the apostles were really only one church of Christ. This is my answer and I now leave it to you as to what you may think of it. It is a matter of indifference to me whether I am judged by you or in a human way. It is the Lord however who judges me aright. To Him I commit the matter until He comes; then each will receive the praise of God that is due him. This I know, that the true brotherly love rests only on the truth as it is in Christ Jesus and I would not deceive myself with such brotherly love. Where the truth is and conquers, there the community of saints is of itself and without conferences.

Samuel Froehlich's last words

Samuel Heinrich Froehlich died January 15, 1857, aged 53 ½ years.

His last words:

“I shall die, Lord my God. Mayest Thou keep Thy holy ones from temptation that is in the world, that they may not perish but abide in Thee, and give them eternal life. For the prince of this world is prepared with his whole power of darkness, and preachers of unrighteousness who seek to destroy Thy work, to mislead Thy elect. Thou knowest that I have not sought glory before men but only to further Thy glory and have declared Thy name before all, and have not been ashamed of Thee and have fought until this hour.”

Then after speaking with Brother Weiler, who had watched at his bedside, about experiences of faith and his fears, and about the congregations and his family, he committed himself to the Lord, saying:

“. . . I do not regret our going out; we would and should let nothing frighten us, and if all unite to honor God, then there is no enmity and no foreign spirit can work among us. My soul is saved and I am comforted in the Lord.”

The special endowment which God gave to this faithful servant is still today our good! An idea of Brother Froehlich's diligence is formed when one considers that in one year he held up to 450 meetings, generally consecutively, chapter for chapter, verse for verse, of various books of the Bible. Besides this he held many children's instruction meetings, undertook visitations and tiring journeys, and annually wrote from 200 to 300 letters (in duplicate) annually, and his diary. His diaries from 1827 to 1856 are extant with the exception of that for 1839, and were put at our disposal by his family, for which we are very grateful.

The mortal remains of Samuel Heinrich Froehlich were buried in Strassburg, where he had taken refuge during the period of persecution. A simple grave-stone in the St. Helena Cemetery, which stands to this day, marks the end of his earthly pilgrimage.

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