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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : THE HENKELS.

American Lutheranism by Friedrich Bente

THE HENKELS.

123. A Most Influential Family. -- The Henkels were by far the most prominent and influential of the men composing the Tennessee Synod. Because of their bold and uncompromising attitude toward the sects as well as all others deviating from the Christian doctrine, as taught by the Lutheran Confessions, they, together with their adherents, were universally, by false Lutherans as well as Methodists, Baptists, Presbyterians, and other sects, hated and ostracized, and stigmatized as |the Henkelites,| Paul Henkel being designated as their |head.| (B.1824, 10.) The sire of the American branch of the Henkel family was Gerhard Henkel. For a time he was court chaplain to the Duke Moritz of Saxony. But when the duke turned Roman Catholic, Henkel was banished. He left for America and served the first Lutherans in Virginia and later on Lutheran congregations in Pennsylvania, notably in New Hanover and Germantown. James Henkel, the grandson of G. Henkel, was the father of Moses, Paul, Isaac, and John Henkel. Thus Paul Henkel, born 1754, was the great-grandson of Gerhard Henkel. He was educated by J. A. Krug and ordained by the Pennsylvania Ministerium in 1702. For many years he served as missionary, laboring especially in Virginia, North Carolina, and Ohio. He was pastor at New Market, Va., at Salisbury, Va., and again at New Market, where he died, November 17, 1825. He participated in the organization of the North Carolina Synod, in 1803, of the Ohio Synod, in 1818, of the Tennessee Synod, in 1820. In New Market, Paul Henkel, together with his sons, established a printery for the purpose of supplying the Lutheran Church with the books, German and English, which they were in need of so sorely: Luther's Catechism, the Augsburg Confession, a Liturgy, hymn-books, etc. Paul Henkel was the father of six sons: Solomon, Philip, Ambrose, Andrew, David, and Carl. Solomon was a physician and manager of the printing-establishment. Philip was pastor in Green County, Tenn., and a member of the North Carolina Synod. Together with Bell, who was later ordained a minister, he opened a Union Seminary which, however, soon passed out of existence. He was one of the founders of the Tennessee Synod. Two of his sons, Irenaeus and Eusebius, were Lutheran ministers. Ambrose was minister at New Market, and a member of the New Market publishing firm. Under him the Book of Concord and other important works were issued. He was joint translator of the Augsburg Confession, the Apology, the Smalcald Articles, the Appendix, and the Articles of Visitation. Andrew, the fourth son, was pastor in Ohio. David, the fifth son, was the most gifted of the Henkel family. A clear, able, and undaunted theologian, he was preeminent in zealously defending the Lutheran truth. He died 1831, at the early age of thirty-six years. His two sons, Polycarp and Socrates, entered the ministry. The latter was pastor in New Market for more than forty years; he also assisted in the publication of the Book of Concord. Charles, the youngest son, was pastor in Ohio and published a translation of the Augsburg Confession in 1834. Dr. Graebner remarks with respect to the publishing house established by the Henkels at New Market: |From this printery, which is in existence today as the oldest Lutheran publishing house in America, were issued numerous large and mall publications in both the English and German languages, abc-books, catechisms, hymnals, theological dissertations and polemical writings, books for pastime and for instruction for young and old, Christmas booklets, such as Das Virginische Kinderbuch of 1809, a paper entitled, Der Virginische Volksberichter und NeuMarketer Wochenschrift bearing the motto: 'Ich bring' das Neu's, So gut ich's weiss!' The Henkels were a busy and skilful [tr. note: sic] people. When in need of manuscript for their press, they wrote it; when in need of verses, they composed them; when in need of woodcuts, they cut in wood; after the books were printed, they bound them; and when the bindings had dried, they, in part themselves, canvassed the finished product throughout the country.| (611.)

124. Paul Henkel. -- |My father,| says Andrew Henkel, |was a large man, within half an inch of six feet in height, well developed, with a keen black eye, as erect as an Indian; somewhat inclined to corpulency, and yet athletic and rapid in his movements. Though his health was not always good, yet he was almost constantly employed either in reading, writing, preaching, or traveling; and when necessary he did not hesitate to labor with his hands. He had no desire for this world's goods beyond what was wanting for daily use; whatever savored of ostentation was foreign to his nature. His manner of living was frugal, and his dress plain, and yet in performing the services of the sanctuary, he uniformly wore a gown of rich black silk. He had great equanimity and serenity of temper, and his friendships were sincere and constant, and his friends numerous. In the social circle he always rendered himself agreeable, and often communicated important instruction by means of some pertinent and, sometimes, humorous anecdote. As a preacher he possessed much more than ordinary power. In the commencement of his discourse he was slow and somewhat blundering, but, as his subject opened before him, he would become animated and eloquent, with a full flow of appropriate thought and glowing language. His illustrations were lucid and forceful, simple and natural. He assisted in training a goodly number of young men for the ministry, some of whom have occupied responsible stations with great fidelity and usefulness.| (Sheatsley, History, 40; L. u. W. 43, 106 ff.) The obituary notice of |Father Paul Henkel of blessed memory,| appended to the Tennessee Report of 1826, says, in, part: |During his illness his greatest concern was that we might all remain faithful to the pure Evangelical Lutheran doctrine, and with meekness and patience, yet manfully contend for the truth for which he had contended so earnestly.| (B.1825, 16.) He expressed the same sentiments in a message to Pastor Riemenschneider, by whom also desired to be buried. Ambrose Henkel, in a letter, November 30, 1825, reports concerning the death of his father: |I then asked him whether I should inform also all my brothers to this effect concerning him. He said: 'O yes; write to all of them, that by all means they should remain steadfast.' I furthermore asked him whether he still stood on the faith which he had hitherto defended. He said: 'Yes, indeed; on this faith I have lived, and on it I will now die.' I was also careful to call in several neighbors to listen to his words, fearing that enemies might contradict my report of his statements.| In his last letter, written to his son David, and dated August 20, 1825, Paul Henkel wrote: |If the doctrine is right and it is the will of the Lord that it should be taught publicly, He will also find and show ways and means to do it. . . . How our mendax-priests would rejoice if they could accuse some of us that we deviated in a single article from the teaching of the Augsburg Confession of Faith.| (L. u. W. 60, 62.)

125. David and Philip Henkel. -- As for David Henkel, the Report of 1831 enumerates his publications and speaks of him as |this much-esteemed and venerable fellow-laborer.| |His last illness,| says the notice of his death, |was dyspepsia, which disabled him from officiating in a public capacity for the term of nine months. He bore his afflictions with a perfect resignation to the will of his divine Redeemer. He embarked in the cause of his blessed Savior when a youth (1812). And we are happy to say, to the praise of this worthy servant of Christ, that his assiduity and vigilance to study and deep researches into the truth of divine revelation have seldom been equaled by any. He remained immovable in the doctrines he promulgated to the end of his life. This venerable servant of the Lord had to endure many trials, crosses, and temptations, but he maintained his integrity through them all, trusting to the promises of his Redeemer; and notwithstanding the difficulties he had to encounter, he left a bright example to succeeding pilgrims. His ardent desire for the promotion of his Redeemer's kingdom and his love of truth caused him to submit cheerfully to the difficulties connected with his official labors. When on his death-bed, being interrogated by his friends whether he still remained steadfast in the doctrines which he had taught, he confidently answered in the affirmative. Being again asked whether he feared death, he replied in the negative. The last words which he was heard to utter, were, 'O Lord Jesus, Thou Son of God, receive my spirit!' and in a few moments expired.| |The perishable remains of this worthy brother were followed to the grave by his loving companion and seven children, together with a numerous train of mourners, who were left to lament the loss of a kind father, an affectionate husband, a friend and benefactor. The body is deposited at St. John's Church, Lincoln County, N.C. The funeral sermon was delivered by the Rev. Daniel Moser, from Phil.1, 21: 'For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.'| From 1812 to 1830 David Henkel preached 3,200 sermons, baptized 2,997 infants and 243 adults, and confirmed 1,105 persons. The whole course of his ministry was distinguished for industry and perseverance. He traveled in all seasons, even the most inclement, and frequently preached two and three times in a day, in the German and English languages. Besides, he maintained an extensive correspondence and was quite active also in a literary way. (1831, 15.) -- Concerning Philip Henkel we read in the obituary notice, appended to the Tennessee Report of 1833: |Already in his youth he was a confessor and defender of the Christian religion, and began in 1800 to consecrate his services to the Lord, in whose vineyard he labored incessantly for 33 years and 3 months. During this time he preached 4,350 sermons, of which 125 were funeral sermons. He baptized 4,115 children and 325 adults, and confirmed 1,650 persons into the Christian Church. . . . Shortly before his end he declared, if it were the will of God to take him home, he was willing, and prayed the verse, which were also the last words he was heard to utter: 'For me to live is Jesus, To die is gain for me, To Him I gladly yield me, And die right cheerfully.'| (B.1833, 24.) Philip Henkel was the first to conceive the plan of organizing the Tennessee Synod. In a letter to his brother David, dated December 9, 1819, he wrote that he would do his utmost to induce Pastor Zink and Miller to join them. |But,| he added, |do not say a word of it to anybody, not even to your best friend, lest they get wind of it. In a second letter, dated March 14, 1820, Philip declared: |If the old ministers will not act agreeably to the Augsburg Confession, we will erect a synod in Tennessee.| (L. u. W. 59, 481.)

THE END OF VOLUME I.

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