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Howells, William - Letter to William Phillips - 11 Apr 1850

Boulogne, April 11, 1850

DEAR BROTHERS WM. PHILLIPS AND JOHN DAVIS,

In spite of all the efforts made by Protestants and Catholics in this place to prevent me from preaching the gospel in the fulness of its blessings to the inhabitants, yet, I succeeded through it all to get a convenient place in the center of town to place the truth as it is in Jesus as a subject of attention and obedience to the honest in heart. There are but few listeners in the congregation; yet, "Who hath despised the day of small things?" A few years ago through the power and authority of the priesthood the godly truth began the majestic work of the dispensation of the fulness of times on the American continent, through beginning to gather together the heroes of the subjects of the kingdom, who will fill the world with the glory of God and who will stand forever and ever. Through it has been but a short time, and also in spite of the numerous obstacles which were made against the counsel of God being fulfilled not only by Belial and all his hosts but also by all the camps of the banner "protest," yet already the ranks of the happy subjects having the rights of the kingdom of Zion are multitudes of hundreds of thousands, and throngs will yet say, "What shall we do?" And the officers having been invested with the authority and the weapons of truth, fervent gospelers on every hill and through the regions, cities and villages are ready to say, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you, for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." It is true that every servant has hosts of enemies to overcome; but the secret of his Master gives him courage, and he knows that he shall be more than conquerors before long; for the enemies are beginning to lose their breath. At the siege of Damascus, the celebrated warrior, Kaleb, said to the Arabian Mahomedan army, "Look to it, the enemy are two to one, and there is no breaking them, but by outwinding them, hold out until the evening, and then the victory." And truly it was so.
On Sunday, the 3rd of March, at the opening of a place to preach the first sermon, there were but few present; neither should it cause wonder; for the various ministers of the religious flocks had given solemn warnings to the whole flock to be watchful. "Touch not, taste not, look not, listen not to the charmer's voice, with his poisonous fruit." The proprietor of the room had been told that the false prophet would charm him until they would make him blind, etc. Because of all that was said even the small children were afraid; but at the end of the meeting, the French, Scotch (sic), German, Englishman and Welshman who were present shook hands with each other as a sign that unity of the faith was beginning its heavely work on the continent of France.


After visiting with ministers of the various churches and receiving but little welcome, I turned to their wealthy members with the pamphlets, wishing to have an opportunity to preach the gospel in their splendid rooms, and I received much more of a welcome and gentleness than that which their pastors had shown. It was wonderful to sit in their rooms to answer their questions and to preach the gospel, warning them to flee from the wrath which will come. It was also wonderful to see the desire of their children to listen, and show me the greatest kindness. The poor, together with the French, showed me kindness beyond my expectation, but with a few exceptions.


In the midst of the hundreds of families which I visited, of every class and status among the French and English, in the distribution of thousands of pamphlets in the various towns and villages which I visited, I encountered much kindness, and through the goodness of God I escaped from the clutches of the bloodthirsty enemies, full of clever tricks.


Upon seeing that the harvest was great on the French continent, I prayed much to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers to assist me; and I received the lovely news that Brohers John Taylor, Curtis G. Bolton and J. Pack from the tent of Zion in the valley of the mountains are on their journey as missionaries of peace to the French continent.


The second Sabbath, after I finished preaching, an Independent minister who was present arose to address the congregation, hoping to attract them with lying assertions to disbelieve what they had heard, testifying of his own disbelief; after him a Baptist minister delivered a speech for the same purpose; I myself gave my testimony of the truth and the goodness of God to me and my family in a temporal spiritual sense, and my determination to go forward, etc. Mr. George Viett took me under his arm to town and testified to Mrs. Viett how sorry he felt for me in the face of the rage of the two men who stay in the place, neither one of them having a congregation.


The following Monday morning I went to pay for the room to preach in ahead of time, lest the enemies charm the owner. Then I went to one of the preachers to say that I inteded to preach in the same room the following Sunday; but neither one of them came near me thenceforth.
I received letters from the French Protestant Minister in Havre (in the French language) testifying that he continued to adhere to the principles of Mormonism, and that he had written one letter of importance to send to me. I also received letters from our sister Miss Anna Browse, from St. Malo, testifying that one gentleman of the name of Mr. De Pau, who had been present when I was arguing the truth of our principles before the learned Catholic priests, had believed the doctrine and is likely to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as soon as there is an opportunity to get hold of one of the officers. I received a letter from Bro. Wm. Peddle, testifying that in St. Servan some of my chief enemies are now willing to give almost everything they have to be baptized and to be accepted into the Church of Jesus.


On the 26th of March, I baptized Mr. George Viett and his son George H. B. Viett in the sea near Boulogne. A few days after them Mrs. Viett went with me down into the river where she was baptized. She walked home nearly two miles in the wet clothes, and the weather was cold; yet, she testified next day that she had never felt so healthy and happy. Several have told me of their determination to receive baptism soon. March 30, I preached in Welsh and English. The Welsh sailors listened to me very attentively and seriously. It was announced that the worthy Bro. G. Viett would preach the following Sunday in French and in German. He is an able scholar in several languages and is now writing the first principles in the German tongue. He convinced a captain of that country soon after he came to the Church.


April 6, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established on the American continent with six members.


April 6, 1850, I also had the honor of establishing a branch of the same Church on the French continent with six members.


I have a convenient place in the center of town for the American brethren to begin their lectures, sufficiently spacious to contain from four to five hundred. The goodness of God is seen greatly in this; for it difficult to get even inconvenient rooms in which to preach, while this chapel is in the center of town and its doors open to one of the principal steets.

My love to all of you, dear brethren.

WM. HOWELLS.

 

Immigrants:

Howells, William

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