No. 151 Robinson St., Allegheny, Pa.
C. T. RUSSELL, EDITOR.
The Editor recognizes a responsibility to the Master, relative to what shall appear in these columns, which he cannot and does not cast aside; yet he should not be understood as endorsing every expression of correspondents, or of articles selected from other periodicals.
TERMS: – FIFTY CENTS A YEAR, POSTAGE FREE. Including special number (Millennial Dawn, Vol. I., paper bound) seventy five cents. Remit by draft, P.O. Money Order, or Registered Letter, payable to C. T. RUSSELL.
This paper will be sent free to any of the Lord's poor who will send a card yearly requesting it. Freely we have received and freely we would give the truth. "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come ye, buy and eat – yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price." And you that have it – "Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently – and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." – ISAIAH 55:1,2.
THE APRIL TOWER we have in good supply, for your use in loaning and mailing to your friends. Order as many as you can judiciously use – free. We send with them some pink slips to be pasted at the edge on the upper corner.
DAWN, VOL. I., is now in its twenty-fifth thousand. Many hearts are praying and many hands laboring for God's blessing upon it; hoping that fifty thousand or possibly one hundred thousand may be in circulation before 1888. Work the works of him that sent you while it is day, for the night cometh, when no man can work. (John 9:4.) "The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine." – 2 Tim. 4:3.
Zealous Brethren and Sisters in every direction are seizing opportunities and devising plans for the work outlined in the "View" of MAY TOWER. One Sister here, went forth filled with zeal and encouraged by Bro. Adamson's success, and her first day's labor was very successful: She took thirty-one orders for the paper bound DAWN. Others, in various quarters, have varying success, proportionate generally to their strictness in following the plans suggested in the May View. We suggest that all who are out at work would do well to read, yes, study that advice carefully and try it.
While many can use the Contents Circulars to good advantage, the majority of those who are meeting with the greatest success, find it best not to leave a circular and call later, but to take a couple of clean circulars in their hand (along with the sample books, a blank memorandum book and a pencil). Introduce yourself as The Representative of that wonderful book, which is making such a stir everywhere. Hand the lady or gentleman of the house one of the circulars, and pointing to the [R940 : page 1] pink slip on it ask them to read it, (or read it to them,) saying that it will introduce you and your business most quickly. Then proceed to talk of the book – its character as a faithful Bible exponent and antidote to Infidelity – its rapid sale – the absolute necessity that all should possess the very knowledge this book affords, in order to be released from present skepticism, or protected from its baneful influence in days to come, when it will become even more wide-spread and popular than now, catching specially the young minds, the rising generation.
You should, first of all, see for yourself that the book does this. Note the first three chapters, how they in simple language which the humblest may understand point out the fact of a great Creator and the proofs that the Bible is his revelation of himself and his plans.
This done, what could be more convincing to the Bible student, (whether he be full of trust, or full of doubts, concerning its inspiration) than the harmonious presentation of the great fundamental teachings of the Bible which chapters IV. and onward present. Other books attack infidelity and fight it vigorously, yet leave the stumbling stones which caused the infidelity unremoved. This book does its work in an opposite manner and with much greater success. It simply disarms infidelity by showing that though men have stumbled, it has been over misconceptions of God's plan, and that the Bible reveals a plan of God now in progress which SATISFIES REASON and harmonizes known facts, as nothing else would do. This is therefore the best antidote for infidelity known to us, and we ask, whether you know of a better.
And this is the line of argument to use in canvassing, because though few would confess it, nearly all nominal Christian people nurse their skeptical thoughts in secret, and really long for the firm foundation for faith and trust which an appreciation of the ransom and its results, Restitution, etc., alone can give.
Bro. Adamson still continues to lead all others, though some are following his method and success closely. Brothers Van der Ahe, Cain, Grable, Hughes, and Sisters Raynor and Vogel and others are doing remarkably well, and we trust that before next month many others will be doing as much or more.
We have been unable to fill orders very promptly of late, because our bindery could turn out only about 300 copies per day; but now this is bettered, so that we can supply 600 to 700 per day and increase it. So let the orders come, and let the glad tidings spread, and let the people be fed, to the praise of our Head – Amen.
Among the questions of the hour awakened by the more vigorous independent thought and increase of knowledge of our day, is what is known as The Land Question. Briefly stated the question is: Can one man rightfully hold thousands of acres more than he can or does use, while his brother man who desires to use land can obtain none without paying a speculative price for it, which in many cases he cannot do, if he would?
Going back, we inquire: Who held the original right, title and claim to earth as a whole with all its privileges, rain, sunshine, air, water and land. All must admit that God, the Creator, owned it all; and he gave the control of it to our father Adam for his use and the use of all his children. So then every foot of land is God's property and men are merely granted the privilege of using it, and not of hoarding it for speculative purposes. Surely no one could claim that the heavenly owner had given him a right to appropriate that which others have need of, and which he does not need.
This principle God laid down clearly in his dealings with Israel. His arrangement with them in giving them the land of Canaan, was on the principle of a lease and not of ownership of the land. It was to be a perpetual lease, subject to certain conditions, one of which was, that they must not work the land to death (as because of a violation of other parts of the law, the reservation of vast parks, etc., etc., the tenantry of Ireland are obliged to do, bringing on repeatedly failure of crops and famine). When God brought the tribes into Canaan he divided to each a portion according to their numbers and requirements; and another of the conditions of their lease was, that though they might trade with each other and thus be hindered from sloth, indolence, and lack of healthful ambition, yet they must not permanently take advantage one of another, so as to create class distinctions, making a permanently poor class and a permanently wealthy class, as we see it in Europe to-day, and as we see that time would bring about in America.
To keep this equilibrium, God arranged that he would lease them the land for only fifty years at a time. They might treat the land as their own, buying and selling as their changing circumstances might require for fifty years, but at the end of that lease all title reverted back to God, the owner, who then gave it again as at first on another fifty years' lease to the same families, or their representatives according to their number and needs. This fiftieth year of restitution was known to the Jews as the Year of Jubilee: and concerning it God's regulations were as follows: "In the year of Jubilee ye shall return every man unto his possession. And if thou sell aught unto thy neighbor, or buyest aught of thy neighbor's hand ye shall not oppress one another: [but] according to the number of years after the jubilee thou shalt buy of thy neighbor and according to the number of years of the fruits, he shall sell unto thee: According to the multitude of the years [to the next jubilee] thou shalt increase the price, and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it." (Lev. 25:13-16.) These are exactly the terms of a lease. And the ground and reason for this arrangement is specified in a succeeding verse (v. 23). "The land shall not be sold forever: FOR THE LAND IS MINE; for ye are strangers [without ownership] and sojourners [tenants] with me."
While this Jubilee had a typical lesson as a prophecy of the Millennial age, "the times of restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21), yet it had as well a practical blessing in it for the Jew: and experience will yet prove to the world the wisdom and necessity of some such arrangement. Not until now, could this necessity be so fully appreciated for various reasons. The world for several hundred years has found a vent for its rapidly growing population in emigration to America, Australia, etc., whose millions of acres attracted many of the most ambitious and enterprising from crowded Europe, drawing attention and reflection away from the fact that an aristocratic class, styled the "Nobility," had gradually acquired, some by fair and some by foul means, far more than their proper proportion of God's land, which under present arrangement is really the basis of all wealth; while others are forced [R938 : page 1] by circumstances to be, and to continue, a pauper class, with but slight hope of bettering their condition, except by emigration, because the wealthy aristocracy holds the basis of wealth – the land.
The time was, that this class did not think or hope beyond the liberties and stations of their fathers, but not so now; now men are thinking vigorously and independently – too much so, often extravagantly and foolishly, to their own injury and to the injury of the cause they seek to serve. They are no longer willing to be dumb driven cattle, but now demand that whatever inequalities the wrong ideas of the past have produced, these shall not go on increasing, but that the masses shall so rule and legislate that, while individuality shall remain and individual energy and ability have its reward, the conditions which produced and perpetuated class distinctions shall give place.
In America where the people rule themselves, the laws are being examined and overhauled as the best and surest means of preventing the evils so manifest in the Landlord system of Europe. They see that here as there, land is at present the basis of wealth, because it is a necessity whose value increases with every birth, and with every shipload of immigrants. They see that present laws and arrangements are favorable to land speculation, favorable to the acquisition of immense [R938 : page 2] tracts of land, the rentals of which may at no distant day be as onerous and burdensome to the people here, as they are to-day in Ireland and Europe.
The sentiment of the people cries out for a wholesome law on this subject, to secure to every man an opportunity of a share in God's land under his lease. Admitting the truth of the principle that wealth should be represented in buildings, factories, etc., in personal property, representing labor, and not in land, which is God's and which is given us all to use, the question arises: How can this truth be gradually approached, so as to work the least rupture of society, and the least possible injury to those who, under existing laws, have and hold title to land as representing labor, or wealth?
Complex and almost unanswerable as this question at first sight appears, we are living in a time – "the time of the end," when knowledge was to be increased (Dan. 12:4.) – when we should expect the answer to come from some quarter; and sure enough, it has come. So far as we know, the answer does not come from one of the "saints," (We know nothing of the man's religious views,) nor should we expect it from a saint. It should come from one of the world, whose time and talent would be absorbed in presenting this truth to the world. The saints minister specially to the saints, and in spiritual things mainly, and would have neither the time nor inclination to forsake their higher work for the "body of Christ" – the Church, to take hold of any of the various reforms of the hour among and specially bearing upon the World in this dawn of the Millennium. It is proper, however, that all the saints have right ideas on all the living questions of the hour; that he who sees the great truths of God's plan may at least not oppose by word or deed the grand outworkings of that plan in any direction. And though the holders of these general truths may not appreciate spiritual truths, in fact cannot do so, since they must be spiritually discerned, yet we should remember the words of the Apostle, "He that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man." (1 Cor. 2:15.) The saints can understand others, while others cannot comprehend the saints. We see the plan from God's standpoint, and act our part intelligently, while others are unwittingly used in its accomplishment, and ignorant both of our interest and co-operation.
The answer to the question to which we refer has awakened much opposition on the part of many intelligent people, some of whom do not understand clearly either the question or its proposed solution, but hastily jump at the conclusion that it is a communistic idea of dividing all the property of the world alike among all the people. This they rightly conclude would be useless; because if divided in the morning, some would be paupers before night, having sold their all for some momentary gratification. But this is not at all the plan proposed.
The answer to this land question – the remedy proposed for bringing about gradually a recognition of the fact that God is the real Landlord and leases it to each man in such proportion, as he can and shall use it, and thus divert capital from land, where it is burdensome upon the masses, into manufacturing, building, etc., where it will benefit all, by giving increased employment to laborers – is advanced and championed by Mr. Henry George, of New York.
A brief synopsis of this proposed scheme of remedial legislation and its effects, as we foresee them, is as follows: The plan is to assess all general taxes on the basis of land holdings, at market value. This would be placing the responsibility and expense of government and improvements upon those claiming and holding the land whose value is improved; while the man who has none of the land would have no tax. The effect of this legislation would be, first, to discourage investments in land, except for actual use; secondly, to induce all who have surplus or idle lands to sell them; thirdly, since much of the surplus land would be for sale, it would stimulate the sale of building lots and small farms, to those who cannot now purchase, by reducing values of unimproved lands and inducing present holders to sell on long time and low interest. This increase of land and home owners would give additional stability to the government which protects them, and of which they are factors. The capital taken out of land would seek investment in building, manufacturing, and kindred enterprises, which would not only tend to increase the demand for labor, but also to cheapen rents and bring more of the luxuries of life within the reach of the "lower classes," which it would thus help gradually to lift to the level of manhood, by stimulating in all, the laudable ambition to be in every way the equals of their fellow men.
This would not, as some have asserted, put the brunt of all the taxes upon the farmers and let the owners of small city lots go practically free of tax; for the market value of the land – what the bare land would sell for – would determine the tax, and not its size. Thus a city lot on a business street might be worth ten thousand dollars, and a good sized farm might in some places be worth only one thousand dollars. In this illustration the city lot would pay ten times as much as the farm.
With most of farms and most of city properties the taxes would vary little from present rates; the exceptions would be in the large increase of the taxes upon "wild lands" and upon unimproved city property. At present, the man of enterprise who invests his wealth in a handsome building is taxed every year for having thus given employment to artisans and helped to beautify his vicinity and thus increase the value of his neighbor's unimproved property, which pays little tax, benefits no one but the owner, and is a drawback to the general community.
If we see this to be a correct principle, it will not do to oppose the right. What if you have some "wild lands" or unimproved town lots, which you bought on speculation, whose value would be injured, you should be glad to share a part in forwarding a general good, even if it costs something. And if you are one of the saints, while you cannot neglect your work to forward this cause, but must wait on your special ministry – preaching the glad tidings, yet you certainly must not oppose any feature of right. Remember, too, that while the "little flock" is in a special sense "The King's own," and while he in a special sense is the "Captain of our salvation," yet in another sense there are many troops and divisions, in the great army by which present arrangements and institutions are to be overthrown. – Rev. 19:15-21.
But will this solution of the question be accepted and acted upon by the people? Will this great change, this peaceable social revolution, accomplish the object desired? By no means! Those whose selfish interests are at stake will misrepresent the matter: men of wealth and influence will jump at the conclusion that it is a form of communism and anarchy, the secular and religious press will make light of it, and the majority of the people of influence and culture will pay no attention to it, thinking it a wild fanatical dream.
The result will be, that this like other safety-valves of legislative reform, will be closed tight, until finally the pent up force of the lower stratum of society will upheave and shatter the entire social structure in a reign of terror and anarchy which Scripture foretells, in which all bounds will be passed, leveling all claims to land ownership and all values of every sort, as portrayed in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. I., Chapter XV. From our standpoint, therefore, we see it would be the part of wisdom for all to come into harmony with this new land movement; for the holding of vast tracts of land away from others is certainly contrary to the spirit of the dawning Day. Whether Mr. George and his co-laborers succeed or not, landlordism is sure to go down under the reign of Immanuel.
St. Louis, May 16. – Dr. McGlynn was received by a large audience last evening when he came to the front of the Opera house stage to deliver his lecture, "The cross of the new crusade." From an interview it is understood that he will never go to Rome to recant, even if excommunicated. Dr. McGlynn outlines his faith as follows: "I would as soon go to Constantinople for my politics as to Rome. I believe the teachings of the church to be infallible, but the infallibility of popes, prefects, propagandas and bishops is quite another thing.
"Galileo discovered a great truth, but the popes and prefects denied it. This did not make it less a truth. The inquisition tried to convince him that right was wrong, but he explained his truth and refused to believe it aught else than a truth. Then he was cast into prison, and, being an old man, he soon grew tired of prison life and after four days he recanted. He knew he was right, but he got down on his knees and perjured himself like a gentleman. Afterwards the heads of the church were compelled to acknowledge that Galileo was right and they were wrong. What Galileo ought to have done was to go to jail and rot there. If they had said: 'You will die without the sacrament of the church unless you relent,' he should have said: 'I want none of your sacrament under such conditions; I will die without it.' Galileo was right and the world at the time was wrong. We are now right on the Land question and the world is wrong. We are not revolutionists; we are not going to hurt anybody. We are trying to secure equal justice to all men by a peaceful political revolution."
The Church of Rome has long boasted of her invincibility, and that her ministers were obedient and her doctrines one. That this has been so in the past is largely owing to the superstitious hold she has had of her subjects; but she cannot expect to be free in the coming years as in the past. While other sects and systems are tottering and falling under the weight of their errors, she too must go to fragments. She has had many questions to settle and has settled many – right and wrong – but in this "Evil Day" questions are arising which cannot be straddled, and which mean disaster to her system, whichever side she takes. Two of these questions are now before her, the Land question and the Labor organization question. The Labor problem confronts the Church of Rome from the fact that in her desire to hold her subjects completely, mind and body, through the Confessional, she forbids their joining any secret society whose affairs might not be freely submitted to her priests for their approval. The "Knights of Labor" organization has enrolled hundreds of thousands of Catholics among its members who are bound to act according to the commands of the order, irrespective of the opinions of priests and confessors. Many Catholic Bishops saw this to be a question vital to the control of Papacy over her subjects: If she sanctions liberty of conscience at all, it becomes the entering wedge for full liberty of conscience on every subject, and hence the end of her power. On the other hand, she dreads to force an issue with so large a number of her subjects on a point which they feel is all-important, essential to their future earthly well-being. But advised by American bishops who appreciate the influence and strength of the Labor movement in this country, the Pope has recently consented to recognize Catholics holding membership among the Knights of Labor.
This is a great step, a great concession, and is being interpreted as expressive of a great sympathy between the Church of Rome and the "lower classes"; as indicating that she is championing the cause of Labor as opposed to Capital. Not so, however. She more than any other system on earth has been the foe of liberty of conscience, and it is her own boast that she changes not. This concession to the K. of L. is not of choice: it is wrung from her. She more than any government on earth, is dependent on the servility, unmanliness, and mental bondage of the people for her influence and continued control over them. Hence in the struggle of this "Day of Trouble" she will be found on the side of monarchy, capital and oppression, notwithstanding the fact that the masses of her subjects are among the poor. She well knows that political liberty is a sure forerunner of general freedom of conscience, and her chief concern is to keep her shackles on men's consciences. Her interests bind her to support the thrones, and the interests of the thrones of earth will bind them to the Church of Rome and all others favorable to their maintenance – and this in the end will also include Protestant "orthodoxy."
We say, then, that the approval of the Knights of Labor organization by the Church of Rome will surely not stand; it will ere long be revoked. Is this a prophecy on our part? No; it is but the reading in the light of the past history of that apostate church, of the prophetic statement of Revelation 19:19, which clearly shows that in this struggle the Beast [symbol of the Church of Rome] will be found on the side of, and banded with, the "Kings of the earth" and their armies.
The Land question she hopes to nip in the bud by squelching Dr. McGlynn, one of the leaders; but so far he gives evidence of being of the sort willing to be martyred rather than deny an important truth. The above report of Mr. McGlynn's sentiments shows him to be a veritable Luther, raised up by other issues. Here seems to be the entering wedge of a great trouble in the Church of Rome, represented in Rev. 16:10,11. The darkness represents the perplexity rapidly coming over that hierarchy; and the gnawing of their tongues represents the painful controversies and contradictions one of another by those who act as Papacy's tongues. Mr. McGlynn has already contradicted Archbishop Corrigan and has cited the utterances of other tongues of Papacy, other writers and teachers honored in the past,
to support him. In contradicting and controverting Dr. McGlynn, the Archbishop has been obliged also to call in question the testimony of records and writers long regarded by Catholics as sacred. Thus the gnawing of tongues in pain begins.
If Dr. McGlynn will stand firm to the sentiments above quoted, he will surely go farther. He states his belief in the infallibility of the Church of Rome, but not in the infallibility of popes and bishops. This means that he accepts as infallible only the utterances of the great Councils of the Church of Rome, if we understand him. But if this be his position, he must go farther and deny the infallibility of Councils; for was it not the Grand Council of the Church of Rome which in 1869, sitting in the Vatican at Rome, declared for the first time the Infallibility of the Popes? So, then, Dr. McGlynn must come to the conclusion reached by unprejudiced, thinking men long since, that neither the Church of Rome nor its popes are beyond the possibility of error – infallible.
The jangle and turmoil, political and religious, which is preparing for the world and coming from every quarter, is agonizing indeed to those who see not that by such means God is working out a great blessing, preparing for the permanent overthrow of error and wrong on every subject and in every quarter, and the establishment of the Kingdom for which we have long prayed: "Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
In the little interval of peace before the storm gets under way, every saint should esteem it a privilege to share in the great work of the hour – the sealing of the servants of God (not the servants of sects), [R939 : page 8] the Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile, in their foreheads – providing such with the intelligent, intellectual, Scriptural understanding of God's plan, which alone will enable them to "stand" and not "fall" in this evil day. And if, while seeking out and sealing these, you are able to put into the hands of the deluded, Satan-blinded world some of the eye-salve of truth, you should do so – "doing good unto all men as you have opportunity, especially to the house-hold of faith."
Surely those who are getting "The Plan of the Ages" (M. DAWN. VOL. I.) into the hands of the people so generally, are doing just such a work – sealing the saints, blessing many, and honoring our Father. He that honoreth God shall be honored. He that watereth others shall be watered.
"Men of thought, be up and stirring
Night and day.
Sow the seed, withdraw the curtain,
Clear the way.
Men of action, aid and cheer them
As you may.
There's a fount about to stream;
There's a light about to beam;
There's a warmth about to glow;
There's a flower about to blow;
There's a midnight blackness changing
Men of thought and men of action,
Clear the way.
"Once the welcome light has broken,
Who shall say
What the unimagined glories
Of the day?
What the evil that shall perish
In its ray?
Aid the dawning, tongue and pen;
Aid it, hopes of honest men;
Aid it, paper, aid it, type;
Aid it, for the hour is ripe:
And our earnest must not slacken
Men of thought, and men of action,
Clear the way!
"Lo, a cloud's about to vanish
From the day;
Lo, the right's about to conquer –
Clear the way!
Many a brazen wrong to crumble
With that right shall many more
Enter smiling at the door;
With the giant wrong shall fall
Many others, great and small,
That for ages long have held us
For their prey.
Men of thought, and men of action,
Clear the way!"
During the three and a half years of our Lord Jesus' ministry, the disciples who had sacrificed reputation, business, etc., to devote time and energy to heralding Messiah's presence and the establishment of his kingdom, had necessarily crude ideas regarding the manner and time of their Master's exaltation, and their exaltation with him as joint-rulers. It was quite sufficient, too, that they should faithfully take each step as it became due; hence the Master told them not all that he knew, but little by little as they could bear it – saying to them, "I have many things to tell you, but ye cannot bear them now."
Who can tell how great was their disappointment, when they saw him whose kingdom and glory they had been declaring, ruthlessly murdered, and that as a felon. What though they knew him to be a "good man, mighty in word and deed," falsely accused and wrongfully crucified, this did not alter the fact that their long cherished national hopes of a Jewish king who would restore their nation to influence and power, were dashed suddenly. Yes, and their own individual hopes, ambitions and air-castles of important offices on the right and left of this king, in whose service they had left all else to engage – these were all suddenly and ruthlessly demolished by the unfavorable turn which matters had suddenly taken in the crucifixion of the expected king.
Well did the Master know how desolate and aimless and perplexed they would feel at and after his crucifixion, for thus it was written by the Prophet: "I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." And during the forty days between his resurrection and ascension, it was therefore his chief concern to gather them again and to re-establish their faith in him as the long-looked-for Messiah, by proving to them the fact of his resurrection, that he that was dead had come to life again, and that since his resurrection, though retaining the same individuality, he was "changed," and was no longer a human but a spiritual being, with all that this "change" implied, illustrating it by his appearing or manifesting himself in different forms and then vanishing from their sight. He also corrected their misapprehensions and kept them from going back to former occupations, by making them further acquainted with their future work.
It is interesting to note how our Lord gave this instruction – not all at once, hastily, but little by little, and in such manner as to make the deepest impressions. Though we know of only seven appearings during those forty days, and those but brief, we cannot doubt that he was often invisibly present with them, hearing them express their doubts and fears and hopes and wishes, yet manifesting himself to their sight only when he had some lesson to impart which would best be given in that way.
He broke the news of his resurrection gradually to them through the Marys, to whom he first revealed himself – women naturally catching more quickly than men the truth in such a matter. Then he overtook [R941 : page 3] two of the sad, downcast disciples as they walked into the country, and as a friend inquired the cause of their trouble and despondency. Their hearts overflowed at the touch of his sympathy, and they told him of their Master who had been crucified three days before. They told how they had been with him for over three years, having left former employment and made themselves foolish in the eyes of their fellow men by believing that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed God's anointed, mentioned in the prophecies as the one who should re-establish their nation, and finally rule and bless the world. Ah! said they sadly, this is what we "had hoped," but these hopes, and our own personal ambitions, founded on his promises that we should reign with him, are all suddenly dashed. We cannot tell you how we feel – we have no heart, no ambition left for anything. After having such great expectations, the ordinary things of life seem common and distasteful. Our Master seems to have deceived both himself and us, for he was truly a good man, "mighty in word and deed before God and all the people."
Then the stranger preached them a stirring sermon from the prophecies, showing them that the very things which had so disheartened them were the things which the prophets had foretold concerning the true Messiah, – that before he could rule and bless and lift up Israel and the world, he must first redeem them with his own life from the curse of death, which came upon all through Adam, and that afterward, raised to life and glory by Jehovah, their Master would fulfill all that is written by the prophets of glory and honor, as well as shame and death.
A wonderful preacher and a wonderful sermon was that: It started new ideas and opened new expectations and hopes. Years afterward they remembered it, and drew strength and hope from it, and said, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked with us by the way and while he opened to us the Scriptures."
Again he appeared to the disciples, except Thomas, assembled in an upper room. And again, Thomas having said he would not believe unless the Master should appear and show the nail prints and the spear mark, our Lord did appear just so, and showed that he could as easily appear so, as in any other form, and that he wanted to meet every reasonable doubt with satisfactory proof. Yet he also showed Thomas, and all, that he was no longer flesh, but spirit, by vanishing from their sight.
Five weeks after the crucifixion, when the excitement of that event and of the appearances of the risen Lord had passed off, the practical questions of life began to present themselves to the disciples. They gradually settled down to the conviction that though somehow God had been doing something with them, and had used them somewhat in his service, yet that whatever it accomplished, that work was at an end. Peter, the oldest, and James and John, the youngest of the disciples, had formerly been partners in the fishing business, and had left their boats and nets at the Master's call to become "fishers of men." These at Peter's suggestion formed their partnership anew, taking with them Thomas, and Nathanael (he whom Jesus termed "an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile," who though not one of the apostles was one of the "brethren"), and two other of the disciples, probably Andrew and Philip.
They knew not what a turning point that was in their lives. Hear Peter, usually a leader and spokesman among them, address the others, saying: Brethren, we must do something, we cannot spend the remainder of life as we have recently been doing. We followed the Master, and taught from city to city that the King had come and that the kingdom of God was at hand, to be set up in glory and power. And though we still have evidence that our Master was Jehovah's special messenger, and that divine favor still rests upon him and has raised him from the dead, yet, after all that has happened, we certainly cannot go about now with the same message – we would be adjudged insane. From the four manifestations of our Lord made to us shortly after his resurrection, we got new hopes and thoughts, and wondered whether he would not after all somehow continue the work. But still, all things move on as usual, and we see no sign of his kingdom, and he has not even appeared to any of us for a long time now. So my counsel is that we seven, bound by unusual sympathy, become partners in the fish business, and in some degree bury our hopes of kingdom honors. And they all assented.
Arrangements made, boats, nets, etc., procured, they make a fresh start at the old business. Who can doubt that the Lord was among them often, whilst they were preparing, and that he had all things arranged which would make this a valuable lesson. If they should have great success and become swallowed up with interest in the business, they would soon be unfit for the higher service, yet if they should have no success, it would seem like forcing them, so the Lord adopted a plan which taught them a lesson which he often teaches all his followers, viz., that the success or failure of our efforts in any direction he can control if he please.
They toiled all night and caught not a fish and began to feel disheartened. A stranger on shore calls to them to know of their success. Poor success! they answer, Caught nothing! Ah! says the stranger, now cast your net on the other side the boat and try. No use, stranger, answers one, we have tried both sides all night long, and if there were fish on one side, there would be on the other. But we will try again and let you see. They did so and got an immense haul. It is strange, said some! but the quick and impressible John at once got the correct idea, and said, Brethren, the Lord only could do this; don't you remember the feeding of the multitudes, etc.? That must be the Lord on shore and this is another way, "another form" and time, that he has chosen to manifest himself to us. Don't you remember too that it was just so when the Lord first called us? Then, too, we had toiled all night and caught nothing until he told us, "Let down your nets for a draught" (Luke 5:4-9). Yes, surely that is the Lord, notwithstanding we do not recognize him by his appearance and form, since his resurrection. He now appears in a variety of forms, but we know each time, that it is he, by some peculiar circumstance like this.
And when they got to shore, they found that Jesus had bread as well as fish, and learned the lesson, that under his direction and care, they would not be left to starve, because he "knoweth that ye have need of these things." They did not ask him, if he were the Lord; for on this as on other occasions, the eyes of their understanding being opened, they knew him, though he had "another form," different from the one they had been used to seeing before he died. – John 21:12.
This was the Lord's opportunity to impress a lesson upon them all, so specially addressing Peter, the leader, pointing to the fish, and boats, and nets, he said, Simon Peter, lovest thou me more than these?* You left these things once to follow me and be a fisher of men; have you changed your mind, Peter? Are you sure which you love most – me and my service, or this business to which you have returned? When our Lord asked this the third time, it began to imply to poor Peter that the tendency with him was to love and serve business more than Christ. And he no doubt remembered also the three times he had denied the Lord. Peter was grieved; he felt remorse, and no wonder, but he immediately threw himself upon the Lord's mercy and answered, "Lord, thou knowest all things," thou knowest my weaknesses, yet "Thou knowest that I love thee." Then said Jesus, Feed my sheep and lambs; make that, not fishing, your business, Peter. Peter heeded and left the fishing business, and while feeding the flock over whom God had made him an overseer, proved by his faithfulness even unto death in his service, that he did really and truly love the Lord more than the fishing business, and that his love was not in word only, but in deed and in truth.
Had Peter continued in the fishing business and neglected the sheep and the lambs, which the great Shepherd had asked him to seek out and feed, would his actions not have contradicted his reply to our Lord's question – "Thou knowest that I love thee" above all? This would have been loving in word, but not in deed and in truth. (See 1 Jno. 3:18.) Had this been the course of the apostles, had they loved the Lord with their mouths, or professedly only, and not acted in harmony with their profession, we know they would not have been acceptable as members of the body of Christ; they would have been "castaways" from the heavenly calling. Called, but not faithful to the conditions of the call, they would not be among the chosen. Had their love for the Lord been overcome by their love for business, or [R941 : page 4] honor, or family pride, or love of peace and ease, they would have been "drowned," or "choked," and would have become unfruitful. And what would thus have been true of them, applies with equal force to us who are now living in the world, the consecrated, anointed representatives of the Shepherd, to seek and feed his scattered and starving sheep. [R942 : page 4]
The Lord tells us that he is seeking a choice little flock to be his Bride, to be with him and to behold and share his glory; and he tells us the character of the class he seeks, and that he will have no others. He tells us plainly (Matt. 10:34-38.) that such as love business, pleasure, self, ease, honor of men, or family, or even life itself, more than they love him, so that they would not sacrifice more for him and his word than for these, are NOT WORTHY to be of the class he is now selecting.
Let us be very much in earnest, dear brethren and sisters, fellow racers for the first grand prize. We cannot serve both God and mammon; we will please neither, if we try it. We will by a half-hearted service fail even to please the world, get its chief favors; and more than all, surely the Bridegroom would accept of and crown as an overcomer and his joint-heir, no such faint-heart. Let us not deceive ourselves; that is love in truth, which works by deeds and sacrifices, and consists not of professions of love merely. Let us each, then, scan carefully his own life. Let each ask himself how his life must seem to the Master's eye. What does he who reads the thoughts and intents of the heart see to be your chiefest love, your chiefest aim in life? The world or even loving brethren, not knowing the heart, might misjudge you, but the Lord knows, and you should also know – whether you love him and his will more than self, family, business, etc. Let us not deceive ourselves, unless our love is active and full of that joy which esteems it a privilege to bear the cross in following Christ, it is not the supreme motive of our hearts.
Do not dodge the question, it is all important – answer the Lord's question: "Lovest thou me more than these?" And if you answer with Peter, "Yea, Lord," then like Peter obey the call, Feed my sheep and lambs, rather than the calls of business, the world, the flesh, and the devil to selfishness and ease. So, like Peter, you shall be accounted meet [worthy] for the inheritance of the saints in light, and to be confessed by the Master as his fellow overcomer and joint-heir, before his Father and the holy messengers. – Col. 1:12; Rev. 3:5.
Do not offer as an excuse for not feeding the sheep, that there are others more capable of feeding them, and you prefer to let them do it. That is not the language of love. The loving servant will anxiously inquire, Lord, how much can I do? Show me how to manage my temporal affairs and how to cultivate my one or many talents to secure the largest possible results in thy service. The Chief Shepherd is responsible, and he will see to it that every true sheep shall now get the "meat in due season," whether you do what you can in the service or not. The question is, Will you accept of the honor of sacrificing other interests in his service to which he thus invites you, and thereby prove your love for him to be SUPREME, above all other loves. He is passing by the great and wise and prudent, according to the wisdom of this age and is calling to his service just such as you (Matt. 11:25). This has always been his plan from the first. He chooses "babes" who will babble forth the truth unceremoniously, to confound the wise and great, while, as it is written, "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness." – 1 Cor. 3:19; Job 5:13.
The worldly-wise are often ensnared by their own boasted wisdom, or rather conceit, which from God's standpoint is foolishness. So then, no matter how unlearned any may be in earthly learning, no matter how uncouth in speech and address, no matter how many are more able naturally to represent the shepherd and call and feed the sheep in his name, let each appreciate his own privilege of showing his love for the shepherd, by laying down time, influence, money, yea, life itself, in feeding the sheep. Such shall be approved and accepted of the Master as his joint-heirs, no matter how humble and ignoble and unworthy they may be now, in the eyes of the world.
It is thus – in the service of the church, our fellow sheep, that we are exhorted by the apostle to sacrifice present interests, when he says, As Christ laid down his life for us, we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). We begin laying down life, by laying down luxuries and worldly advantages and end the service with the actual death of our human self. It was to this, the great business of life, that Paul exhorted believers to consecrate themselves, saying: "I beseech you brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God." – Rom. 12:1.
How many of the Lord's professed followers are to-day making fishing for earthly things of some sort, the chief business of life – fishing for money, or influence, or a great name, or self-gratification, or some thing of the sort – leaving the great work which the Master gave all his followers, viz., to be fishers of men, feeders of his sheep and lambs.
True, all are not apostles, as Peter, and all are not called to such special service, as his, requiring all their time. But each one is called upon to improve and use whatever openings and opportunities he does possess in preaching the good tidings. The apostle Paul said, we should follow his example, which was truly worthy and noble; and Peter refers to all the members of the body of Christ, as the "Royal Priesthood" that "should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. 2:9.) This should be the chief business of all the saints. To this work we were anointed as members of the body of Christ by the same spirit which anointed our Head, and for the same purpose. See what was the purpose of his anointing, and learn therefrom the purpose of your own anointing under him. It is written of him, and of us as members of him, "The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me TO PREACH THE GOSPEL to the meek." – Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18.
We have no hesitation in saying that every member of the anointed body of Christ will be a preacher of the gospel, though probably few of them will be of those known as "clergymen." The fact is, that those who have the truth and are governed by its spirit, could not avoid preaching as much as they have opportunity. Such will not need pay (neither money, honor, nor flattery), as inducement to enter the ministry (service) of the gospel, but would be glad to preach regardless of these and even at a loss of honor, money, etc., like Paul counting it joy to be considered worthy to suffer loss for the truth's sake, and to be God's ambassadors. The spirit of the truth had taken firm hold of some in the early church whom the Apostle addressed saying: "Ye endured a great fight of afflictions," "Ye were made a gazing-stock both by reproaches and afflictions," "and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods." (Heb. 10:32-34.) True, earnest preachers imbued with the spirit of the truth were those also, mentioned in Acts 8:4. In the persecution for the truth they hid not their light under a bushel, but openly declared the truth; therefore they were scattered abroad. But even as exiles, "they went everywhere preaching the word." They all preached, but seldom did they get a chance to preach in a synagogue, and few probably had ability for public speaking. They preached as Jesus and the disciples did, from house to house, or by the wayside, wherever they found hungry hearts and hearing ears – the "meek."
Why was it that these and the apostles did not say to themselves: We must be prudent, and not let it be known that we believe this gospel; for we have our business and family interests to attend to, and if we are zealous for the gospel, it will result in breaking up our business prospects, and we and our families will be unpopular and may be driven from home or cast into prison – Why did they not reason thus? We answer, because they had the spirit of the truth, the holy anointing was on them and they delighted to do God's will, and to be engaged in his service at any cost. Peter and John, when commanded to preach this gospel no more, answered, "We cannot [help] but speak, the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Paul tells how the fire of the truth and its service was burning in his heart and must find vent through his mouth, cost it what it might and did, when he says: Woe is me [Wretchedly unhappy would I be], if I preach not the gospel of Christ. To be obliged to keep silent and not declare the boundless love and glorious plan of God, would have been misery indeed to Paul, while he could rejoice with joy unspeakable, if permitted to preach it, even at the cost of home, comforts, fame, honor, wealth and "all things."
None should gather from the foregoing, that God expects the same service from each of the consecrated, regardless of talents and opportunities. There is just one sense in which the same exactly is expected of each; that is, each to be accounted worthy of joint-heirship with Christ must DO WHAT HE CAN. Those who have one talent, may do what they can as really and truly and as acceptably with God, as those who have ten talents, who at most can do no more. And none who have consecrated all, and who have seen how little their all is, in comparison to the favors of God, past, present and future, can conscientiously offer less than all, the little service they can render.
But some inquire, What can I do? My life seems so hemmed in, and my opportunities for testifying to the truth and suffering for the Master and his word in feeding his sheep, seem so small, that I fear I am not one of the sacrificers at all. Can that be so? Now brother, tell us of your case. Well, I am a miner; I work alone and have only Sundays and my evenings to myself, and my neighbors are ignorant [R943 : page 4] and seem irreligious. Very well, begin by using the advantages you have, and trust God to open larger and wider doors of usefulness before you by and by. First think over the good tidings of great joy yourself, and let it fill and overflow your own heart. Then think, how much good the joy and peace which you possess would do your fellows. Think, how much they need it, and how it might lighten and sweeten all the future of their lives. Think then of the privilege of being God's messenger to tell your neighbors of the great ransom price given for sin, and the full atonement which is made, and the grand results to follow, urging them to investigate and accept and be reconciled to God. Then pray God for wisdom to use the privilege he has granted you. By this time your heart will be full of love, fervor and zeal in your work as God's representative, and fear and shame will be cast out of your heart. Gradually with study and care you will learn to be wise as a serpent, as well as harmless as a dove, in presenting the truth; and sooner or later you will find proof of your ministry (service) being acceptable, in the fruits it will bear. Some will be interested and hear you gladly, while more will revile you and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for the truth's sake, because the world knoweth you not, even as it knew Him not (1 Jno. 3:1). Rejoice and be exceeding glad of this evidence of your faithfulness and at these promised present rewards, for great is your reward in heaven. Do not unwisely intrude your message at inopportune times, nor in a rough blunt manner, nor in harsh language, but let your speech be with wisdom seasoned with grace.
But a mother in moderate circumstances with a large family inquires, What can I do? I find no opportunity to sacrifice in the Lord's service. My time is wholly consumed in the care of my home and children – their morals as well as their persons. Ah! Sister, much depends upon how or to whom you sacrifice. Most of mothers know well what it is to sacrifice. To properly raise a family costs much self-sacrifice as every good mother knows. You sacrifice your health, your convenience, your time and comfort by night and by day. All good mothers find it thus, whether consecrated or not. But there is this difference: The majority do it simply from pride and selfish motives, in the desire to be honored in their children's honor and display. But the consecrated mother should regard the matter thus: I have given myself and my family for the present and the future to God; He has given me charge to use and dispose of these as so many talents according to my judgment for his glory; His word clearly teaches me that my children are my first charge; and it is God's will that I do my best to train them for usefulness to themselves and society. This part of your sacrifice rendered to God, results much the same as though you had not consecrated – in sacrifices for your children, yet in your case it is as actually a sacrifice of your talents to the Lord, as though done more directly to him. In fact, it is more acceptable to him, than if you were to leave your little ones to grow up like weeds, while you go abroad to preach the Gospel.
But if the spirit of consecration is back of all you do for your children, and not selfish pride, it will have this effect: while anxious and careful for their best interests, you will remember that you have no more right to simply gratify pride in their dress, etc., than in your own, and they, though neat, will not be so extravagantly dressed as some of your neighbor's children whose care is backed by pride and vanity. You will seek to economize the Lord's money and time in dressing them as well as yourself, and you will not always naturally like to have them, just as your consecration will lead you to have them. But you will say to yourself, It is the Lord's time and money and must not be wasted; he wants me to care for my children, but not to make dolls of them and cultivate pride in them, to spoil their dispositions and unfit them for the present as well as future true pleasure and usefulness. Soon you will [R943 : page 5] find, that thus doing all things as unto the Lord, you will be able to save some time, etc., for use in more direct service of the truth; and you will find time and inclination to speak to a thoughtful neighbor or caller, or to write of the message to a friend, sending or giving a suitable paper with the seasonable word. Thus your life is as truly consecrated and acceptable with God through Christ, as that of one whose every day is spent in public preaching to multitudes. And just so it is, in whatever circumstances we may be placed – If we use the opportunities we possess, to the best advantage according to our best judgment, with an eye single to the Master's glory, it is as acceptable unto him, as the faithfulness and greater results of those possessing greater opportunities. And every faithful one will be able to increase his opportunities and service and shall thus increase his joy. – 1 Cor. 7:20-22.
Is not this a reasonable service? Surely it is; and furthermore, it is the most enjoyable use you can possibly make of your talents. Think you, that those who spend their lives in attempted self-gratification are truly happy? Nay, none ever succeeded in pleasing himself – in gratifying all selfish desires. But he whose life is entirely given up to God and whose aim is to do God's will and honor him, is supremely happy. Even though it brings persecution and trouble he can rejoice, and be exceeding glad with a joy that the world can neither give, neither take away, and which even death cannot quench.
"Let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth and shall assure our hearts before him. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things. Beloved if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God." – 1 John 3:18-21.
It is well for those who have entered into the new relationship of spiritual sons of God to consider carefully and frequently the changed relationship into which it has brought us. Our most intimate relationships are no longer those of earthly origin. Our interests, hopes, and aims are now bound up with those of the heavenly family; and as we come to realize this more fully, our affections reach out after the family of God and our communion one with another should be such as to deepen and broaden that love one for another.
The above expression of our Lord shows how he regarded the heavenly relationship. When one said unto him: "Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without desiring to speak with thee," he answered, "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! for whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother and sister and mother." – Matt. 12:47-50.
As new creatures, we are spiritual sons of God, soon to be joined in heirship with his dear Son; we are the espoused virgin who, forsaking all earthly ties, is to be joined in marriage to our heavenly Bridegroom, and with joy we are now making all possible preparation for the great event. When this new condition is fully entered upon, we shall no longer be husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters, etc., with those on the earthly plane; for we shall be "kings and priests unto God," prepared to rule and to bless all the families of the earth, every member of which will then be as dear to us as to God. Our love to our former dear ones will be no less than now. Our love will be greatly intensified, though not bounded by the former narrow limits of blood relationship.
There is no doubt whatever as to Christ being "the Son of Man" – but in what sense it is asked. Did this phrase mean that he was simply a man – one of human kind; or did it imply something more than this? I think more is comprehended in the phrase. Jesus very frequently spoke of himself as the Son of Man, and must have meant something beyond the idea that some have advanced, that he was the son of the man Joseph, the husband of his mother Mary. I will give a few references for the reader to examine, where Jesus calls himself the Son of Man. Matt. 20:18; 18:11; 16:13-16; 12:8; 20:18,19; 25:31; 26:64. These are all from Matthew's testimony. They prove that the Son of Man was the anointed one, and are to be so understood. The Jews also understood the term as synonymous with Messiah. What other conclusion could they or we arrive at after reading Dan. 7:13,14? Let the reader turn to this reference, and see if it does not refer to the Messiah. But why is he called the Son of Man? Surely not in the same sense that I am the son of a man, because begotten by him; nor as the term is so frequently applied to Ezekiel the prophet; nor as used by David in the eighth Psalm, and as quoted by Paul in Heb. 2:6. The phrase as used by Jesus is always in the emphatic [R944 : page 5] form, though our English versions do not show it. The Greek is – ho whyos tou anthropou, "the Son of the Man." This definite form of expression implies that Christ was the son of some particular man. Shall we say the son of Joseph, the carpenter? Did Jesus mean this every time, when he used this emphatic form of expression? I trow not. Then whose son was he? I answer, "the son of David." The Messiah was to be the seed of David, according to the Prophets, and the genealogical records as given by Matthew and Luke, prove that Jesus was the Son of David, with whom Jehovah made an everlasting covenant, saying, "His seed shall endure forever, and his throne as the sun before me," Psa. 89:36. The genealogical records prove him to be the Son of David. The prophets foretold that the Messiah who should sit on David's throne, and order his kingdom, was to be the Son of Jesse and David. Isa. 9:6,7; 11:1; Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Psa. 132:11. The apostles believed that Jesus was the Messiah and the son of David. Peter, in his discourse on the day of Pentecost, tells the Jews that Jesus, according to the flesh, was from the loins of David; and Paul says that he was "made of the seed of David according to the flesh," Acts 2:30; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8. And the glorified Jesus himself declares: "I am the root and offspring of David," Rev. 22:16. From these testimonies I conclude that Jesus the Christ was the Son of Man, not in the sense of simply being a man, but because he was the son of the man David, with whom Jehovah made an everlasting covenant, that the throne and kingdom of Israel should belong to him and his seed forever.
[Our Lord was "Son of David" according to the flesh through his mother, who was of the lineage of David. As to how it was possible for our Saviour to be born of a woman who was of the fallen, condemned, imperfect race, and yet be perfect, undefiled and free from the condemnation which came upon every other member of the race through Adam, we refer the reader to an article in the TOWER of Sept. 1885, entitled "The Undefiled One." – EDITOR OF Z.W. TOWER.] In what sense was Christ the son of God? He was called the son of God while in the flesh. But it is asked in what sense? I answer, because he was God's son, in the sense of being begotten by him. Christ called God his Father, and God acknowledged him as his son. See Matt. 3:17; 17:5. If Christ was the Son of God only as we are sons of God, then he was not the son of God, but a son; nor would there be any more reason in confessing him to be the Son of the living God, as Peter and all the apostles did, than in confessing some other believer to be God's son. But Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, and consequently the Messiah. He also required his disciples to believe this truth. See John 9:35-37; 10:36. The belief that Jesus, the Son of Man, was also the Christ, the Son of the living God, lies at the very foundation of Christianity – on it the Church was to be built. Matt. 16:16-18. Jesus was more than an adopted son by faith – was more than a begotten son by the word of truth; he was "the only begotten of the Father," John 1:14; 3:16; 1 John 4:9. The Father with audible voice, proclaimed him as his beloved Son, Matt. 3:17; 17:5. Paul calls him God's own Son, and his dear son, Gal. 4:4-5; Col. 1:13.– Millenarian.
DEAR MRS. RUSSELL: – Pardon me for troubling you so soon again. I am so very much alone in the world, because of my peculiar belief, that I find it a relief to open my heart to you. I wish I could make you realize the change that has come over me regarding worldly affairs, since I have taken the liberty to think for myself. I was first impressed with these newly discovered ideas regarding the teaching of God's Word, in the fall of 1881. I grasped the central idea, the Atonement, from the first; also the Restitution of all things, through justification. These central points seem to me as clear as the noon-day. Some other points, and in comparison to these, minor ones I should say, such as the Trinity – the exact state of the being after death, the Communion, Baptism (the outward symbol and its correct form), and the Law touching the keeping of the Sabbath – these four questions have caused doubts and arguments for and against, to harbor within my mind. In regard to "the spirits in prison" (1 Pet. 3:18-20): Does this not teach that Christ, during his stay in the tomb, went in spirit to the spirits in prison? In regard to Baptism: It appears to me unimportant as to the form. It also appears immaterial, whether the person baptized be an infant or an adult. Children are bidden to come to Christ. And they are readier to believe and to love a Savior, than older ones. I feel that it is right to bring God's children to his altar, leaving them in the care of the Spirit. I feel that no time should be lost in putting them into his care. I feel deeply upon this subject, because I wish to do what is right.
Perhaps now you will say, I have not truly been begotten of the Spirit. Dear Sister, I can echo your fears upon this subject. And that brings me to the principal part of my trouble. My life is one of small trials and vexations. Like Mary I have chosen the better part, but I am a veritable Martha, though indeed with all the aspirations and ideas and longings of a Mary. That is, I am so surrounded with worldly anxieties and petty cares – having the care of my family, trying to make ends meet and working from morning till night, with miserable health continually, which of itself is a cause of nervousness and fretfulness. Do you wonder I doubt my own position in the Plan of the Ages? I do not presume to know where I stand in this matter – whether upon the spiritual or human plane. But I can say, with a conscience void of intentional, wilful offence, that I shall be grateful, if I may be accounted worthy even to be a doorkeeper in the house of our God.
In my present circumstances I am unable to take a stand even as a Christian, unless I attend a nominal church. My mother is a staunch Episcopalian. She is determined I shall either be a "somebody" in the Church, or a "nobody" out of it. She has influence. This is my position here. I speak not against my mother – all honor be to that sacred name! I only mention the fact, that you may see how I am placed.
Now, what is my duty? Can I do more good in my peculiar position, by going with my mother, thus making manifest my interest in religion and introducing my own views, as I see opportunity – or shall I continue as at present – in obscurity, almost absolute seclusion from society, for the sake of my principles? I am perfectly willing to do so – if it is right.
I have made no secret of my way of thinking; nor can I. My nature is too frank and open to admit of that. Hence the estrangement between myself and every one. But is this as it ought to be? I know I must suffer persecution, and gladly have done so – yet I may be standing in the light of others, if I cannot see plainly myself. I fear, I have not made myself plain. I will try and send some money soon – for O! I want this work to go forward! My husband and myself took Communion this year by ourselves, and it seemed a blessed season. I remain Yours lovingly,
MRS. S__________, MY DEAR SISTER: – Your esteemed favor of the 25th April is at hand and be assured that in your questionings and fears I fully sympathize with you. I do not look upon them however as evidence of any lack of consecration to God, or that you are not begotten of the Spirit. They come only as the result of an imperfect understanding of God's great comprehensive plan.
What you need, then, is to take plenty of time, and with patient carefulness and a meek and teachable spirit which is intent on knowing and doing God's will only, to study his great plan of the ages. Keep well in mind its deep foundation – its complete satisfaction of the demands of justice in our redemption through the precious blood of Christ; its righteous principles recognizing God's absolute and universal sovereignty and man's individual free agency; and then mark the wonderful scope of the plan – so far reaching in its grand results as to affect all creatures "in heaven and in earth," to establish once and forever the absolute authority of God in all the universe, and to establish all his creatures in righteousness and joyful and loving obedience.
Seeing that such is the wondrous scope of the divine plan, we should not be surprised to learn that it requires 7,000 years for its development – the 6,000 past and 1,000 future. The plan will have reached its culmination when Christ gives up the kingdom to the Father at the end of his millennial reign. Taking this grand view of the subject, many otherwise troublesome questions will settle themselves; for instance your anxiety for your children and your responsibility as a mother. God says: "All souls are mine: as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine" (Ezek. 18:4). God does not leave the eternal destiny of a single soul to the faithfulness of father or mother, or pastor or teacher, or any one. They are all his; he knows them every one individually, and every [R944 : page 6] phase of their character and disposition, and all their surrounding circumstances from earliest infancy. And each one of these individuals must stand on trial for himself: their eternal destiny, whether it be life everlasting in its glory and perfection, [R945 : page 6] or death – the blotting out of existence (Job 10:19; 7:21; 14:21.) must be decided by each for himself, when brought to a full knowledge of the truth – the plan of redemption and reconciliation accomplished through Christ. God himself has made full and complete arrangements for the eternal welfare and blessedness and glory of every individual, who will appreciate and submit to his authority. And he has also made arrangements for the discipline so necessary to their development and final perfecting. Where then, you ask, is a mother's responsibilities? It is simply this: In view of your greater influence over the child, your opportunity, and THEREFORE responsibility to God, for the right use of that influence, is greater than that of any other person. We are each accountable to God for the right use of whatever talents and opportunities we have, and no more. If you have naturally good judgment and make good use of it in training your children to righteousness and obedience to God, you will not only receive the divine approval, but without doubt you will see at least some of the good effects of your training in the present life, though your children will not reach perfection, until the better and effectual influences and agencies of the next age complete the work.
But if naturally you have poor judgment, and if much of your own life before your children, was spent out of harmony with God, so that the opportunities of the early years of your children's training were lost, and in consequence you now find it impossible to train them as you would, and you see them wandering from God and with no disposition to submit to either God's authority or yours, and though you try to do the best you can for them, your efforts all seem fruitless, still take courage: God says, "All souls are mine;" they are in his care whether you realize it, or have placed them there or not, and he will see that they get the discipline they need. He may in the present life let them run their course and see the result of their folly, though it be painful indeed to you, and then in the next age put on the brakes and check, restrain, punish, and encourage, and help them, as his wisdom and love will see best, until their reform is thorough and complete, or they are adjudged incorrigible and cut off from life. The mistakes of injudicious parents will all be overruled under the discipline of Christ whom God hath appointed as Prophet, Priest and King for that very purpose.
As a mother do the best you can with your present knowledge and ability and dismiss all anxiety, casting your burden upon the Lord, who is able to sustain you, and to make all things work together for the accomplishment of his purposes – "in due time." God only holds us accountable to the extent of our ability and opportunity since we became his children; all our sins and short-comings, previous to that time, having been freely forgiven for Christ's sake.
Now about giving your children to God: They are not yours to give; they are his already – "All souls are mine." But it is your privilege at the very dawn of their existence to recognize God's right and authority over them whom he redeemed by the gift of his Son, and to ask for wisdom to so train them that they may early learn to love and obey him and to recognize his love manifested through Christ. But what has baptism to do with this? Nothing at all. Study carefully the subject of baptism as presented in TOWER of Oct. '84. The sprinkling of babes is entirely out of harmony with the significance of either John's baptism or Christ's.
And again, Our Lord did not institute any ordinance in the Church to be practiced in an indefinite, haphazard way. Both the ordinances and the only ones which he did establish were very simple and clearly defined, both in form and in significance, and it will not do for Christians to say, I am not quite sure what they mean and how they are to be performed, because there is difference in men's opinions about them. There is no necessity for difference of opinion when the Scriptures are plain and explicit. And it is our business to make sure of what the Scriptures teach, and then to follow their directions, though a thousand opinions prevail to the contrary.
On the subject of the trinity (which is not a Bible subject) I would refer you to the TOWER of July '82, if I had it to send you. I presume you have no TOWERS so far back. I will suggest to Mr. R. however that he republish that article for the benefit of yourself and others. It would not be possible to satisfactorily canvass the subject in a letter; but if you study carefully Chap. X. of M. DAWN you will see that the common view is unscriptural and unreasonable.
On the other subjects I would refer you to the following articles: "The Spirits in Prison" in TOWER of Dec. '84, "The Ten Commandments" Oct. '83, "Sunday and The Law" Dec. '85, and recent articles relating to "The Lord's Supper."
With reference to going back into the Nominal Church your duty is clear if you are of the class designated "My People" in Rev. 18:4. You know that it is Babylon. Its Babel, confusion, mixture, is manifest even to the world. You were called out of her that you might not be a sharer of her sins, and that you receive not of her plagues. Her sins are those of conformity to the opinions and ideas and manners and customs of the world irrespective of God's will, and also the rejection of his truth to an increasing extent. If you return to Babylon and give that system the support of your influence in permitting your name to swell the list of its membership, or your money to support and extend it financially, or your presence to encourage its teachers in proclaiming as gospel that which is not gospel, then you are partaking of its sins and must share in its plagues. Your mother's wishes or the opinions of your friends should not have a feather's weight with you when God speaks – and remember he does not speak to us by mere impressions or imaginations, but plainly and unmistakably by his Word. He has shown you Babylon's confusion. You know that you are in it. And now he says, "Come out of her my people" etc. You need to remember that you belong to God, and while you love and honor your mother for her care and good influence in your youthful days, neither she, nor any one else must now be permitted to come between you and your God. And should your fidelity separate you from every earthly tie, rejoice that it links you closer to the throne of God. Consider it a privilege to be a "nobody" for Christ's sake and let others see by your cheerfulness that you enjoy the privilege. Perhaps after all as you decidedly wear his yoke you will find that his yoke is easy and his burden light, being lightened by the love you bear with it.
Now take courage dear sister – walk in the light, obey the truth as fast as you see it and study the plan of God with care, that you may be firmly established – rooted and grounded in the faith. Yours in Christian love,
"Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart." – Psa. 97:11.
Light is a most beautiful and fitting symbol for truth; and not only do the Scriptures so use it, but it is a symbol in common use to-day. Men frequently speak of the "light of our day," and in contrast speak of the ages past as "the dark ages;" they speak of the light of civilization, the light of truth, etc.; and that remarkable statue recently erected in New York harbor is an apt illustration of this symbol in present use. It represents liberty enlightening the world – liberty as an aid to the finding of light, truth. And truly as men gain liberty, and make proper use of it, truth on various subjects begins to open up, and brings with it its train of blessings. But liberty and light abused are as sure to sink those who abuse them, in deeper darkness and greater evils.
In the above text reference is made particularly to one certain class of truth, nevertheless we recognize it as a principle in the divine economy in dealing with mankind in general, that to the extent that men observe the principles of righteousness, they are correspondingly favored with truth and its attendant blessings.
The Scripture saith, "There is none righteous; no, not one." All mankind are unrighteous, they are under the penalty of death. But thank God, a redemption has been provided, and those who lay hold of it by faith, are justified, reckoned righteous in God's sight. And it is for these justified (reckonedly righteous) ones, who by faith have accepted the righteousness of Christ, and who in gratitude and love to God for such favor are endeavoring to live lives of obedience and faithfulness, that light is specially sown.
It is not for those who once by faith accepted of justification through the ransom, and who, simply consoling themselves with this thought, straightway turned back to the world to revel with it and stifle all thought of responsibility. Truth is not for such, but for the righteous who not only thankfully accept the righteousness of Christ, but who go further and consecrate themselves to the divine service, their rightful, reasonable service. Only such grow in grace and in knowledge.
It is in the Word of God that this light for this special, justified and consecrated [R946 : page 6] class, is sown; and while the justified and sanctified of past ages enjoyed a measure of light, all that was then due, the justified and sanctified of this age have far greater privileges in this direction than any of former times; for in the ages past the light, the truth, was being sown for our special benefit. Unto the prophets, to whom so much truth was given, yet in such a way that but little of it was understood by them, it was revealed, in answer to their earnest searching, that not unto themselves, but unto us (the Gospel Church) they did minister (1 Pet. 1:12) – that the truth which God was sowing, through their instrumentality, was not then due, but was being sown for the righteous some centuries down the stream of time.
The faithful prophets were not left in darkness, however, to blindly grope their way along without special evidence of divine favor. They had their measure of light, and because faithful to it, great will be their advantage in the resurrection. And while it is true that a great store-house of divine truth was prepared for the Christian Church through the instrumentality of the prophets of past ages, and while much more was added to it by the Lord and the Apostles, yet it has only been revealed by degrees, as the age advanced toward its termination; consequently the early church did not enjoy as great light as it is our privilege to enjoy to-day. Occupying our present position on the stream of time, it is the privilege of the Christian Church to enjoy such views of God's plans and doings as none before our day could possibly have. Yet only this special class, the righteous, are so privileged; and their continuance of the privilege is conditioned upon their faithfulness, both in searching for and in using the light.
It is a very noticeable fact that those who have been greatly blessed with light and have made no use of it, have not been privileged to retain it. The truth always brings with it its measure of responsibility, and to the extent that we measure up to that responsibility, more light is given. And vice versa – to the extent that we ignore that responsibility, further increase of light is denied, and the light that is in us, begins to wane.
If we accept the truth, and begin to act from its standpoint, very soon we find ourselves marked as peculiar, very different from the world, and very different too, from merely nominal Christians. This is as it should be. If this be your experience, brother or sister, go on; you are on the right track. But if you find yourself very much like other people, then take heed. Quite likely you are looking and acting from the world's standpoint, and not from the divine standpoint in which the truth has placed you.
You have made a covenant with God, and have received favors from him, which alter your position and responsibility entirely. Think of this: Let your mind run back to your earliest experiences as a child of God. When you first realized that you were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ, that you were redeemed from death through faith in that blood, call to mind how your heart was filled with joy and praise to God for his loving favor toward a justly condemned sinner. And when you turned the sacred page on which you read your title clear to everlasting life, and read further the exhortation of our brother Paul – "This is the will of God, even your sanctification," – "Present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (1 Thes. 4:3; Rom. 12:1), you said, Yes, surely all that I can do to express my love and gratitude for such favor is at best but a poor return; and then on bended knees you said in all sincerity and fervency, Here, Lord, I give myself away; 'tis all that I can do.
Then you joined a church – as you supposed, a company of people all justified and consecrated like yourself. Your own heart was full of warm, fresh zeal: you meant to do just what you had covenanted to do. Your heart's inquiry was very much like that of Brother Paul, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" Then the Lord began to show you what you should do, how you should make your life one worthy of imitation, how you should let the spirit of God rule in your heart, conforming every feature of your character to the principles of the gospel, how in eating, and drinking, and wearing of apparel, in manner and conversation, and home and business life, you should first of all be a living epistle known and read of all with whom you come in contact. Then he began to point out fields of usefulness in his service, which would afford you the privilege of cross-bearing.
But do you remember how the love that [R946 : page 7] was in your heart helped you to set a vigilant watch over yourself, and to bravely and cheerfully take up your cross and follow the Master? And as thus for a time you stepped along joyfully in the narrow way, you said, Yes, truly I am proving day by day that his yoke is easy and his burden light.
But by and by your first love began to cool a little, and turning your thoughts upon yourself you began to think, How weary I am! how much I have to suffer by conforming so strictly to these principles. No one thinks more of me for it. Why there is brother A. and sister B.; they don't seem to trouble themselves about cross-bearing; they do very much as others do; they look and talk and act very much as others do, except that they make long and seemingly very earnest prayers in public, and make themselves generally agreeable, particularly in the church. And they are considered the very cream of the church, and most devoted Christians. As you looked around a little further, you noticed that nearly all were doing just so, except perhaps a poor old saint very generally overlooked, or else considered an extremist or a fool, unworthy of respect and attention. And verily you began to feel that you also were losing ground in their estimation. Why, surely, you thought, these are good Christians, and you must have taken an extreme view of your obligation to God. As you thus looked more and more at the examples of those around you, and less and less at the Word of God and the noble example of the Lord and the apostles, your own zeal became cold and you concluded that your first impressions of the Christian life must have been erroneous.
But they were not erroneous; they were right, and were derived from the right source, the Word of God, and should have been followed regardless of consequences. You would have had plenty of cross-bearing, but your Christian character would to-day be much stronger and more symmetrical. But thank God, he considered your unfavorable surroundings, and that while you were still willing to follow him, your flesh was weak; and so he sent you a special message of meat in due season which wonderfully awakened and encouraged you. Wonderful love! Do you suppose the Lord would so tenderly call you by his grace, and encourage and help you, if he did not desire to make you his bride? Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, O favored one, to whom God has granted present light, and forget not that if thou wilt prove faithful unto death, faithful is he that hath called you, who also will exalt you in due time, according to his promise. – 1 Thes. 5:24.
Take for your examples the noblest runners on this course. They looked not at the things behind, to pine and fret for those things they had covenanted to sacrifice, but walked according to the light they had. Consider, for instance, the daily life of Jesus after his consecration: While with his unequaled abilities as a man he might have had the esteem and honor of his fellow men, and while he might have had an honorable fame throughout the world, and while he might have spent time in accumulating wealth, and in the gratification of other legitimate earthly ambitions, he turned aside from all these and chose the life of continuous service of his Father esteeming it a privilege to preach the gospel to one or two or many, as opportunity might offer. With it came reproach, poverty, persecution, ingratitude from those he benefitted, and finally death by ignominious crucifixion.
Then look at our beloved brother Paul: With all his talents and advantages of birth and education, his worldly prospects were fair, but he resolutely curbed all ambitions in that direction. And when he inquired, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?" he conferred not with flesh and blood, but set himself at once to doing what the Lord directed. And though the Lord said he would show him how he must suffer great things for his name's sake, Paul counted the sufferings as not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall follow, though as yet he only saw that glory by faith. Truly, Paul suffered great things, but mark how he rejoiced even in those sufferings. When he and Silas were publicly beaten and then cast into prison, did they complain and say, they had had about enough of this, that some of the other apostles up there at Jerusalem ought to come out now and take their turn, that he was getting old and it was about time for him to settle down and take care of number one, he couldn't stand this kind of thing much longer?
No, you never heard a word of that kind from Paul. He had no notion of giving up, or of resting on his oars; he had learned the valuable lesson of contentment in whatever condition duty required him to be in (Phil. 4:11). Nay, more! he had learned to rejoice always, and in every thing to give thanks; and so he rejoiced even in tribulation, and sung for joy even in prison. The light of God's truth received in unfaltering confidence gave him a joy which the world could neither give nor take away. And no amount of persecution stopped Paul from rejoicing; for he remembered that all the sufferings endured for Christ's sake, work out a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
But he warns us, that if we would so run as to obtain the prize of our high calling, if we would receive the light of divine [R947 : page 7] truth and walk accordingly, we must look, not at the things which are behind, which we have covenanted to sacrifice, but at the things which are before, and which are yet unseen, except by the eye of faith.
To look back is one step, and a long one, towards ignoring and breaking our covenant. It is the first step in unrighteousness, and if not quickly retraced, it will sooner or later lead to darkness and apostacy; and the joy and peace we once experienced in believing will be taken away. He that looketh back is unfit for the Kingdom. – Luke 9:26,62.
We cannot too strongly urge upon God's covenant people their duty and responsibility in view of the light they have received – the duty of living for the heavenly things, and using the earthly things only as necessary aids in the divine service; the duty of viewing every matter of an earthly character from the standpoint in which the truth has placed us, from God's standpoint; the duty of acting promptly upon our convictions, and thereby giving no advantage to the adversary; the duty of enduring toil and persecution in the Master's service with uncomplaining meekness and joyful thanksgiving for the privilege; the duty of preaching the truth at any cost and at any sacrifice.
Light was indeed carefully sown centuries ago for the righteous, and it is now being most gloriously revealed to those for whom it was sown; but take heed, ye that have received it; for if through unfaithfulness the light that is in thee be turned to darkness, how great is that darkness! The messengers of darkness were never so active as in this "evil day," to overthrow the faith of the consecrated children of God; and never were their methods so subtle and so deceptive. Truly, they are calculated to deceive if it were possible the very elect. But thank God, that is not possible. The elect are those who faithfully, carefully study to know the will of God and are very earnest and faithful in doing it. Take heed that you make your calling and election sure.
It is frightful to contemplate the rapid increase of crime in all parts of our country. Scarcely a newspaper can be opened that does not contain the account of the perpetration of some horrible offence against society. The enormity of the crimes keeps pace with the rapid increase of their number. One day a man shoots his wife – the next a son stabs his father, a brother kills his brother for some slight difference of opinion, then a father murders his whole family. Common robberies and murders are of everyday occurrence. Forgery, swindling, and speculation are carried on by the wholesale. Private houses, banks and the government are indiscriminately robbed. Men of established reputation for business integrity, suddenly disappear, taking with them fabulous sums of money, the property of others. By perjury and other means the nation is defrauded of money more than enough to pay the interest upon the national debt.
Licentiousness prevails to an alarming extent. It appears as though Satan was let loose, and was exerting himself to the utmost, knowing that his time is short. What is the meaning of all this? Are the last days in reality upon us? Is the world [society] ripening for destruction? Look upon the face of society and see how perfectly its features correspond with the likeness by the pen of inspiration. "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof – from such turn away." Did not modern society sit for this picture? Could the Camera reflect a more accurate resemblance? Can this striking agreement be the result of accident?
It is time for the followers of Jesus to be up and doing. But the perpetrators of these high outrages are generally among those who call upon his name and attend upon his worship. They own pews in magnificent temples, or belong to a church which boasts of the imposing character of its rites, and the liberality of its terms of communion. Would you not be carried away with the current of ungodliness which appears to be sweeping all before it? You must build upon the rock for the storms are upon us. You must bear an unequivocal testimony against prevailing sins, and like Lot in Sodom, vex your righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds. From a quiet acquiescence to active participation the transition is gradual, easy, imperceptible and well-nigh certain. Above all let us call upon God in mighty prayer, to lift up a standard against the tide of iniquity which is poured out like a flood. Help Lord; for the godly man ceaseth; for the faithful fail from among the children of men.– The Earnest Christian.
"WHAT selfishness asked for, was vain;
What came for that asking, was pain.
Gain! none save the giver, receives;
Yet who that old gospel believes?
But one way is Godlike. Then give!
Then pour out thy heart's blood, and live."
Prejudice is pre-judgment. It is forming an opinion without examining the facts; it is hastily accepting a conclusion without investigating the evidence upon which it rests; it is allowing ourselves to be hoodwinked and deceived, when the slightest reflection would keep us from such a mistake; it is being satisfied with hearsay, when we should demand the proof; it is rejecting everything at first sight, which does not confirm our former convictions or suit our former tastes or agree with our preconceived ideas; it is a revolt against the unpalatable and distasteful; it is a deep-seated reluctance to part with that to which we have been accustomed – a persistent hesitation to accept as true what we have not hitherto believed; a wicked unwillingness to admit that we can be wrong and others right. It favors or condemns upon the slightest pretext; it recoils or embraces as it is moved by caprice. It is not limited to persons – has to do with places, and creeds, and parties, and systems: hence its influence is extensive, and its evils manifold. Prejudice does not hold opinions; it is held by them. Its views are like plants that grow upon the rocks, that stick fast, though they have no rooting. It looks through jaundiced eyes; it listens with itching ears; it speaks in partial and biased accents. It clings to that which it should relinquish and relinquishes that to which it should cling. When beaten it remains defiant; when disproved and vanquished, it is sullen and obstinate. There is nothing too low for its love, or too noble for its hatred; nothing is too sacred for its attacks, or too deserving for its aspersions. It is as cruel as it is universal, as unjust as it is relentless; as unforgiving as it is conceited and ill-informed.– Sel.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit!" You have received no report from me recently because of sudden, recurring, and very painful sickness. The physician said yesterday I must keep quiet "for another week." At present, therefore, I am but a broken reed. I have before suffered great mental agonies, but this is my first experience in long-continued, intense physical pain. I received the 25 hymn books safely, and can only thank you for them now.
Because "Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us: therefore" we "kept the feast" on the evening of April 7th last. A very precious season we enjoyed, as we remembered Him who laid down his life for us, and as we covenanted anew to follow our Head in sacrificing to the death our reckoned-perfect humanity that we may also possess with Him the Divine nature. Bro. Bowen and Mrs. Hickey went with me to Newburgh and about twenty, in all, partook of the emblems.
The May TOWER which came yesterday was weighted with blessed, refreshing Truth. Your article on Rom. 1 to 6 is logical, convincing, and destructive of the "damnable heresy" it strikes at. God bless you, my beloved Brother! May He strengthen and encourage you day by day!
Yours in loving sympathy in Christ,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – Enclosed find money-order which pays for two copies of the Tower in advance, from April, 1887, and three copies of "Millennial Dawn," which you were kind enough to send me. Any balance can be devoted to whatever fund you think most useful. Through reading your articles in the TOWER, and your valuable books, I have got much light, and I wish to take this opportunity of thanking you for help received, and of assuring you of my sympathy with and good wishes for your good work. Believe me yours, in fellowship and service,
[Joyfully we acknowledge that every good and perfect gift, among them the precious, soul-cheering truths on which we all feast, come from our Father in heaven. To Him be all glory and praise, now and forever. We merely give out what we receive, and no grateful heart could do less, to the honor of the giver and the blessing of his fellows. – EDITOR.]
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – I have nothing special to write except to say that I have made my delivery in Greenville in part, and can see that the Dawns deliver well. One can sell more than he sets down on his list. Over one hundred copies delivered, and over one hundred names yet, to do on next Saturday. The people are being moved as by an avalanche. The results of Bro. Blundin's and my own lecturing in Greenville are apparent. One lady said to-day, "I pray the Lord the doctrine is true." I think nearly one hundred books to every thousand inhabitants could be sold. I wish you could get brethren and sisters awake. Those who need the money that the Tract Society donates for selling Dawn, need not fear that they can not pay their way. There is no excuse now for any who really believe the Dawn to be a good preacher. I can take forty to fifty names daily, and expect to sell my usual one thousand copies per month. I am now selling at this rate, and have lost time in ways I shall not take again. Hope you are fully recovered. Our love to yourself and Sister Russell, and the kindest remembrance, in which Mrs. A. always joins. Yours in Christ,
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: – My deliveries, at Greenville 200 Dawns, Lewisville 25, and Jamestown and Conneautville each 60 copies, were successful to the extent of delivering more than my list, in some cases.
I do hope that the brethren who want to preach and teach in this practical way of selling Dawns will soon get started. I send you a very encouraging letter from Williamsport. I have 240 names at Sharon and some at Sharpsville, and will order books for next deliveries soon. While changing cars at Chenango Junction, I showed Dawn to the news agent. He took three at his own offer, 20 cents each, to be resold.
Dawn's influence is a mighty one. I wish that brethren who could sell it, and do not, had a little of the blessed experience that comes to me. It is exerting a mighty power on many classes, and moving the masses as "Food" never did.
DEAR SISTER AND BRO. ADAMSON: – I am glad to have an opportunity of writing to you. I received both of your last letters, and am glad that you enjoyed the feast of the Passover. I would have liked to be there, to hear Brother Russell preach. I have heard only a part of the book read, but think it the plainest and best work on the Bible I have ever heard read. Sister Garrison says she has read hers through with the Bible in one hand and the book in the other, and says she has never had any other reading that did her so much good. A few of us have formed a Bible class in connection with Mr. Russell's works. We read one half-hour from one of his tracts or the Tower, and the rest of the evening we give to Bible investigation. My sister Sue is one of the most interested of the class. We meet on Monday evenings. Sister Aletta is taking the TOWER this year. She has become quite interested in the reading of it. I have not found a suitable person to go out with me with the book, but expect to go out as soon as possible. I would like to go to Glen's Falls, take the book with me, and canvass that place, Colwell, Sandy Hill and Fort Edward, but I will try Williamsport first. I truly feel as though I must do something in some good work, and help others into the light by circulating the book – DAWN.
Oh! how disappointed I was when I found I could not meet you all at Pittsburg. Well, perhaps it is better that I have all these disappointments. I am trying patiently to trust in the Lord and be led by his hand. He only knows how many thorns are in the way of his blind child. It is such a comfort to realize that he does know and care; and though at times I am very weary, yet I can sweetly rest in his promises. Accept kindest regards. Your sister in Christ, A. B. E. [R947 : page 8]
ED. Z.W.T., DEAR SIR: – I received an April copy of your paper last Saturday evening, and must say that I was truly astonished at its doctrine. I sat down, and in about two hours had devoured its contents. After seven years of hard study of the Word of God, to the exclusion of all theological writers, am I so near-sighted as not to see that God is intending to give to the heathen who have died without the advantage of gaining a knowledge of the ransom prepared by Him for all, a chance to hear and accept the truth? Great God, is this thy word, or am I in a dream? What can it mean? How good, how merciful, how grand and beautiful thy plan, so far as I have seen! If this glimpse of light proves true, Great God, what other adjectives can I employ to describe more fully thy love and mercy. I am too weak even to contemplate the sublime grandeur of thy lovely purposes to man, thy fallen creature. Indeed I can only fall at thy feet and allow to pass through my mind the words, Holy, most holy, art thou, O Lord God.
I believe that man fell, that Jesus became the ransom, and I believe that the times of the restitution of all things, spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets, is near at hand. But does that restitution embrace the restoration of all Adam's fallen race to the first estate, that they may individually have a chance to render obedience to the great King of kings? O God, the knowledge of thy word is replete with goodness toward man. What can I say? Wonderful! wonderful! most wonderful! and mercifully loving art thou, O God. It is almost too good to be true, and yet God is good.
Dear Sirs, I am astonished, amazed, confounded, and even the tears start. I thought I was rooted and grounded in the faith. For years I have taught that the heathen had had their portion of light, and they that had received it and walked by it, would gain a reward, while those who rejected it, were dead to rise no more, [R948 : page 8] and though I had proved it by the word. But O, if those who had not light are to see light, and be permitted to accept that light, what a throng, what a glorious throng, praising God day and night! Why surely, there will be but few that will not accept it under the glorious reign of our King. Why friend, they will rend the heavens and burst the bars of space by their united shouts of praise.
If this be true, O King Jesus come, and come quickly! Amen. Yours in hope of more light,
MY DEAR BROTHER: – I came across the following clause in a very old work of the third century known as "Constitutions of the Holy Apostles," which may interest you, in the matter of the Lord's Supper, if you have not seen it before, – Book V. Chapter XVII.
"It is therefore your duty, brethren, who are redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, to observe the days of the Passover exactly, with all care, after the vernal equinox, lest ye be obliged to keep the Memorial of the one passion twice in a year. Keep it only once in a year for Him that died but once....Keep it when your brethren of the Circumcision do so....If they err in their computation, be not you concerned.... While they are lamenting and eating unleavened bread in bitterness, do you feast."
Various instructions follow about fasting, etc., etc., but I copy enough for the point in view, as showing what was the probable custom of that early period, though one of much defalcation in the matter of truth, and of much introduction of error into Christianity. Love to all yours. Ever in Him,
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL: – A sister in Christ, whose acquaintance I made only ten days ago, and who is having her house open for meetings on these subjects, invited me to come to her meetings. I went, and was surprised to see that the truths dealt with there are the very same that the Lord revealed to me, since I came to the knowledge of God in Christ Jesus. She also lent me a few copies of the WATCH TOWER, which I read with much interest, and I praise God for you and your fruit.
Allow me to give you my life's history and testimony in as few words as possible. I was born in Austria. My parents were very bigoted Jews. Of course their aim was to train me according to their knowledge. When six years of age I began to study the Talmud. When thirteen I entered the Rabbinical schools in Hungary, where I continued for six years. When I was seventeen years old, my eyes were opened to see the emptiness of my religion, consequently I turned to infidelity. All I then thought of Christianity was, that Christ was an impostor, that it was a sin to mention his name, and that I ought to hate him and all those who worship his images and crosses; for I knew only Roman and Greek Catholic Christians.
I lived in infidelity for about twelve years, though leading a moral life and always active in different philanthropic works and institutions. In 1883, while in Roumania, I felt inclined to emigrate to Palestine and to work there for the idea of "Colonization of Palestine by persecuted Jews from Russia and Roumania." Having to correspond with Hebrew periodicals, and to write and think on the subject of the restoration of the Jewish nation, I was obliged to read and study the Bible. This led me to see Christ as revealed in Moses and the Prophets. In order to inquire after the truth more freely, I went to Jerusalem, and on Easter Sunday, 1884, I made public confession of my faith in Christ. I soon began to see, by comparing the New Testament with church theology, that the theology was unscriptural and misleading; and the spirit of truth led me into the truth as revealed by God's prophets and apostles. I obeyed the voice of the spirit to "come out from Babylon and be separate." In February 1885, I left Jerusalem for London, with the hope to find here some Christians, as a Church of my opinion, but alas, I only found a greater variety of Satan's works, in sects and divisions, and that only confirmed me in my idea that the Church of this age is a Babel of confusion. I made up my mind to have Christ as my only Priest, Friend, and Guide, and to be joined to the saints of "the Church," "the Christ," "Head and Body," who are scattered all over the world, living the life of Christ as joint-self-sacrifices, waiting for his appearing to gather them in as joint-heirs and to reign with him for ever and ever. The Lord has laid it as necessity upon me to carry the Glad Tidings of Peace, to my own nation, the Jews, as a reasonable service. In order to do this, I was led to consecrate myself as a living sacrifice to God, and to make this my life's mission.
Your precious publications will always be to me an odour of a sweet smelling savour. Yours in Christ,