On this archives Thursday, I am also going to draw on the archives of another party – Heritage Hall, the archives of Calvin College and the Calvin Theological Seminary (tied, of course, to the CRC).
Last week Saturday at a local Thrift store I found booklet “Number Four” of the Heritage Hall Publications (1997), titled From Heart to Heart: Letters from the Rev.Albertus Christiaan Van Raalte to His Wife, Christina Johanna Van Raalte-de Moen, 1836-1847. Ten of these twelve letters, with the English translation in the front and the original Dutch in the back, were penned by Rev.Van Raalte shortly after the Secession of 1834 in the Netherlands (the “Afscheiding”), when the small band of faithful ministers were travelling throughout the countryside trying to minister to the small congregations scattered throughout Holland. The last two letters cover the period when Van Raalte had arrived in the United States (specifically Michigan) and was looking for a place to settle.
Because I am also reading Marv Kamps’ new book on this history, 1834: Hendrik De Cock’s Return to the True Church (RFPA, 2014), these letters make a good tie to this book.
The occasion for the publication of these letters by Heritage Hall (which owns a small collection of Van Raalte’s letters) was the 150th anniversary (February, 1997) of Van Raalte’s founding of the “Colony” of Dutch immigrants in Holland, Michigan. For more on Van Raalte visit the website of the Van Raalte Institute on the campus of Hope College.
Today I will quote from one of the letters from the earlier period, dated December 28, 1837. It gives insight into the busy lives of these Secession pastors, as well as into the struggles of the Secession churches, including the persecution they were suffering at the hands of the Dutch government.
I completed the business in Hellendoorn on Saturday and on Saturday, moreover, I rode to Ommen. I preached in the vicinity of Ommen on Sunday and on Monday. We saw neither the mayor nor the policeman. On Tuesday we walked fifteen minutes farther to a place which is under the authority of another mayor. We did this because the autorities in Ommen were looking for us, and thus they searched for us in vain.
Yesterday we had a meeting of Classis at Stegeren because some seeds of dissension had been sown in the congregation as a result of which some people were led astray in part due to ignorance, but by God’s grace all the leaders have been persuaded to stand united, hand in hand, in the attempt to resist as much as possible the seed of divisiveness.
I have read that letter from Zwartsluis and I can well understand that things like this often weigh heavily on you, but beloved Wife, always remember that Jesus says it well that offenses come our way in order that the righteous may be revealed. My dear wife, everything is the fulfillment of God’s plan, and, in addition, it is written that all things will work for the welfare of those who love the Lord.
Tomorrow I hope to go to Den Ham to conduct family visitation, to confirm the faith of new members, and to preach there next Sunday. …I hope to come home on Friday, but probably it will be Saturday. I long for home.
…The horse is fresh and frisky but now and then it coughs. It has some bumps on its neck, but that does not bother him. I am glad I took the saddle with me because the water of the Vegt is so high in this area that I have to do everything on horseback. I still do not know how I shall get the buggy home.
…Kiss our Albertus for me. Greet Da and Mientje. May the fear and the love of God reign in your heart. Greet the consistory, our neighbor, and all those who ask about Zion.
Now, dear Wife, the Lord be with you.
Your loving husband,