Letters of Elder Thomas H. Owen
1839 - 1841

Signs of the Times, August 1, 1839, Vol. 7, No. 15, p. 116.
DeKalb, Hancock Co., Ill., July 2, 1839.

BROTHER BEEBE: - I have been waiting nearly a month to find leisure time to write you a long letter; and this evening I was taking a view of the crowd of business that appears to be just at hand, which calls for my attention. I despaired of being able to do so short of another month or two, and must now be content with a short communication.

I have, a short time since, got home from the Iowa Territory; and during my stay there I preached twice in one settlement where the people appeared to be as religious as any I ever have seen, and nearly every body professors at that. Yet I thought they in general possessed as little knowledge of the spirituality of religion as any people I ever saw. In place of being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, they appeared to be built upon the foundation of Alexander Campbell, denying the agency of the spirit in bringing sinners from darkness to light. I learned there had never been but very little Old School Baptist preaching among them; yet I found two or three there who appeared to understand the golden bell when they heard it, but they had dwelt in the smoke that ascended out of the bottomless pit, which we learn from Rev. ix. 2; the sun and the air are darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit, until their tongues were ready to confess what their hearts know to be false. Though there are many precious Old School Baptists in the Iowa Territory, there are a number of churches now constituted, and they expect to form an Association there this fall. In the Military District in Illinois, the Old School Baptists are generally sound in faith and doctrine. In the bounds of the Salem Association we have had a moderate increase, at our meetings. We have crowded congregations and some still professing to be brought to the love of the truth. I assisted in constituting an Old School Church on last Saturday in a settlement where Alexander Campbell's smoke has been rising and sending forth locusts for several years, to the darkening of the gospel sun to a great extent, until at length the lot of one of Christ's faithful laborers who had been toiling in his vineyard for many years was cast there; and his labors have been blessed and he has been instrumental in hunting out God's children in the cloudy and dark day. The effort system among the people called Baptists, in this country is getting along but middling at best; they cannot get money enough to support their craft, and when their cash fails, their legerdemain ceases, and they cannot make converts. And you know those greedy dogs will not stay in such a place, but will proceed further, seeking whom they may devour. The Presbyterians are establishing factories in this country to make preachers and I suppose when they get them done, and their preachers made, if their eastern brethren will suffer themselves to be imposed on by falsehood and misrepresentation, and launch out their cash unto these scholastic gentry, our country will soon be enlightened, and the people brought from heathenish darkness to the light of a man made, money bought gospel. Proselyte making has become quite an extensive and money making business in our world, and is progressing largely toward the fulfilling of the scripture and the consummation of the work of making one Proselyte. Matt. xxiii. 15. Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye compass sea and land to make one Proselyte, and when he is made ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Now is it not plainly to be understood that the New School divinity are busily engaged in making of this Proselyte their whole society system, from the Bible Society down to the Mary Magdalene Society? It is only the making process that is now going on; and when they gain the ascendency they will take the civil as well as the ecclesiastical authority into their own hands and then they will enforce such measures to support their craft as seems good unto them. Now take a view of the civil and religious authorities amalgamated together, and you will see the Proselyte complete, and does it not look as though he is two fold more the child of hell than themselves?

I must conclude, as I have been more lengthy than I intended, by requesting you to publish the change of my Post Office address, as there is a Post Office now established at the place where I live, and myself appointed Post Master. My address hereafter,

Thomas H. Owen., P. M.
DeKalb, Hancock Co., Ill.
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Signs of the Times, February 15, 1840, Vol. 8, No. 4, page 29.
DeKalb, Hancock Co., Ill., Jan. 21, 1840.

BROTHER BEEBE:- While I am discharging my duty, as agent for your paper, I will inform you and the readers of the Signs that there has been a rejoicing time with the children of God in this part, for some time past, which still appears to be increasing. I assisted in baptizing eight persons at Providence Church, last Lord's day; and two other persons gave a satisfactory relation of their change from nature's darkness to the marvelous light and liberty of God's dear Son, which were not baptized; and from every appearance, there will be at least as many more baptized at the next meeting in course. Some of them came forward confessing and weeping in consequence of their disobedience and date their experience some years back; but the largest portion of them, dated their experience more recently. We have crowded congregations, and strict attention generally given to the preaching. To what extent our anticipation may be realized remains yet for time to develop. As this communication was designed to be short, I shall conclude this epistle, by giving the name and post office address of a new subscriber of the Signs, Vol. viii.

I am your brother, and one that suffers persecution with yourself, as well as all that will live godly in Christ Jesus.

Thomas H. Owen.
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Signs of the Times, May 15, 1840, Vol. 8, No. 10, pages 77, 78.
DeKalb, Hancock Co., Ill., April 17, 1840.

BROTHER BEEBE:- Some of the Old School Baptist churches in this vicinity of country have had some rejoicing and refreshing seasons; there have been some considerable additions, and is still a pleasing prospect of many more. Notwithstanding we have had while upon earth a foretaste of that heavenly enjoyment, we have had to undergo the slander and abuse of all the Ishmaelitish crew. The children of the bondwoman are still mocking the children of the free woman. All sects, from the ancient Catholics down to the late Mormons, are raging like the infuriated dragon casting forth floods of water after the woman, that she might be carried away of them. So much at present, but remain,

Your brother in affliction,

Thomas H. Owen.
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Signs of the Times, January 1, 1842, Vol. 10, No. 1, page 4.
DeKalb, Hancock Co., Ill., Oct. 24, 1841.

DEAR BROTHER BEEBE: having a remittance to make to you, seems to render this a favorable opportunity to communicate some of my thoughts to the brethren who are scattered abroad. The shortness of time that I can now devote to writing admonishes me to forbear entering upon the more important considerations connected with the gospel of the Redeemer, and to limit myself to giving a brief account of the state and travel of the Old School Baptists in this country, for a short time past. Since the expulsion, from our fellowship and communion, of the Ishmaelitish band of arminians, who were and are engaged in the modern mission effort system, we have enjoyed peace and harmony throughout our correspondence, and I rejoice to add that none of the preachers remaining with us, especially in the Salem Association, preach a mixed gospel. Our watchmen lift up their voice together, their preaching is of one solid piece, like the two silver trumpets, and they give a certain sound, viz: "Salvation by grace alone." Some of God's people have been captivated and led astray by the alluring charms of missionism, a goodly number of whom have become tired of the husks on which they were fed, and have returned to their Father's house, where they enjoy refreshing manifestations of the love of God, and find bread enough and to spare, and where they enjoy an earnest of the inheritance which God has secured for them in heaven. We have had considerable additions by experience and baptism, during the past year, in many of the churches of Salem Association; this proves the falsehood of the frequent declarations of the effortees, that our doctrine is unprofitable, that while it is true it prevents revivals, &c. They must have forgotten, or they have never known, that it is truth that kills, and truth that makes alive. I hope never to be connected with revivals that are produced without truth. I am happy to testify, to the praise of divine grace, we have enjoyed for the last two years, a general reformation in this part of the country, and it has been under just such preaching as the New School would be offended with. I find that just such revivals are calculated to build up the church with sound materials, such as are able to endure sound doctrine, and grow and thrive upon it.

The last annual meeting of Salem Association took place on the Saturday before the fourth Sunday of last month, at which we had in attendance sixteen ordained preachers; from this fact you may judge of the truth and sincerity of those who are raising the great hue and cry at the east, of those who are engaged in begging money to send the gospel to the destitute west. We are indeed pleased to hear the gospel preached, here in the west, by all who bring us the true tidings; but those hirelings from the eastern preacher-factories bring another gospel, which is not another, but a perversion of the gospel of Christ; and is calculated to build up the anti-christian cause, and oppress the true church of God. We have great reason to thank God that he has preserved us from falling into their errors.

I will conclude this letter, after stating to you and your correspondents a few questions, which I hope may be answered, in a scriptural manner; they are in regard to the order and discipline of the church, viz.:

First. Is it right for a church to grant letters to persons that are in good standing and fellowship, in the church, upon their application for them, to join another church of the same faith and order, when the persons applying do not intend to change their place of residence?

Second. Suppose a member to be excluded from a church for a crime of sufficient magnitude to justify the church in his exclusion, should return to the church confessing his wickedness with sorrow, and the church should refuse to hear his confession; what course should he pursue to regain his standing in the fellowship of the church?

I remain your brother in the afflictions of the gospel,

THOMAS H. OWEN.

(Minutes of the Salem Association of Regular Baptists show that in 1840 two of the churches received a total of over 50 new members by baptism during the preceding year.)

(Minutes of the Spoon River Association of Regular Baptists for 1834 show that Middle Creek church, in Hancock County, was a member of the association at that early date.)

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