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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
This number commences Vol. V., and from the Tower we look backward over the last few years, and as we see the pathway shining more and more, we rejoice, thank God, and take courage.
„Looking back, we praise the way
God hath led us—led us, day by day.”
Each step on the shining path brings us nearer and nearer the perfect light of day—nearer to the perfect appreciation of truth in all its parts and relationships—the whole truth.
Our confidence in our Leader is strengthened too, in that while we have endeavored to make no paths for ourselves, but to follow his leading implicitly, we can look back and see that he has led us in a straight and progressive course. We have not been blown about by every wind of doctrine, but have been piloted in a course direct toward the light, „as the needle to the pole.”
Let us glance backward a few years and trace again, our guided footsteps in this shining way; we all need the encouragement which such manifest leading of the Lord affords.
„Then we’ll see what God hath wrought:
Let us PRAISE HIM—praise Him as we ought.”
So short a time ago as 1870 we saw, in addition to the first principles of the Gospel, only the two bare facts—the Lord’s second coming and the Restitution—and these but vaguely; for though we then saw restitution taught in Scripture, we were much in doubt as to its comprehensiveness, questioning often whether it would include all the billions of the dead whom the god of this world had in the present life blinded. And
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concerning the Lord’s second coming, while we realized that he is no longer a man, but is now the new creature—the express image of the Father’s person—a quickening spirit, yet we failed somehow to make a proper application of this to his second coming, and unthinkingly and ignorantly, rather expected his coming to be as a glorified man, than as a spiritual being. It was not until about 1874 that these things became clearer, so that we realized that when Jesus should come, it would be as unobserved by human eyes as though an angel had come; and that it could be known only by some miracle, by some manifestation or demonstration.
About the same time the completeness of the Restitution to be brought about, came clearly to our vision. It was in this way: we had seen the various Scriptures which spoke of the Sodomites’ return to a former estate (restitution), and Israel’s return at the same time, and how all the families of earth were to be blessed through Christ, when he should take his great power and reign, etc., etc. But all these failed to convince us of restitution for all, because we could see that God could in perfect justice, take away the lives which he had given—could entirely blot men out of existence as easily as he could bring them into being. And we felt much inclined to believe that many of the dead billions would never be brought into existence again, until we came to see more fully the value of the Ransom Price given for our sins, „and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”
When we came to scrutinize God’s dealings, we found that He showed no mercy on sin, but in justice condemned it and executed the penalty of death against all; that justice must be met and fully satisfied, before mankind could go free from that death penalty; and that God’s mercy was displayed, not in opposing and setting aside his justice, but in providing a Redeemer or ransom price which fully met all the claims of His own just laws against us. This convinced us that the various Scriptures which predicted the saving of all men from the curse—death—meant literally all they said: That when Paul said, „He gave himself a ransom [antilutron—equivalent price:: for all” (1 Tim. 2:6), it involved the necessity of a release from death of all who were thus bought. It gave a depth and scope to many scriptures, such as Rom. 5:18,19: By one man’s sin came death upon all; and by our Lord’s righteousness and obedience unto death (our penalty) comes life to the same all; for as through or by Adam all die, even so by or through Christ shall all be made alive. (1 Cor. 15:22.) Thus our faith in the ransom, that it was an equivalent price for ALL, was the rock into which entered as an anchor our hope for a „restitution of all things.”
Next our attention was drawn to the subject of the TIME of our Lord’s coming. Before this we had strenuously ignored time, partly because of its being made so much of by „Second Adventists,” and because of the frequent failures of their expectations. Moreover, the fact that they claimed the destruction of the world to be the impending event, and used the periods of time mentioned in Scripture to mark the time of that destruction, was another reason why we were disposed to ignore the subject of time. Their erroneous theory of the destruction of the world cast discredit on the time which they associated with it.
When, however, the manner of our Lord’s coming was seen in the light of what he is—a spiritual, and no longer a human being—then we saw that our Father had provided TIME in the Bible, that thus we might know, or see with the eye of our understanding, what we could not see with our natural eyes—viz., the Lord’s presence. A careful study of times and seasons taught in Scripture convinced us that the Lord was due to be present in 1874, and other time teachings of the Word showed that in the spring of 1875 the restitution of all things was due to commence.
This conclusion was rather startling, and surprised us thoroughly. It would have seemed so much easier to believe had the prophecies pointed twenty years ahead and shown us that then Jesus would come—be present and do a separating work in the nominal Church, and during a time of trouble should so order the truth that it, as his word, would smite down evil and error of every form, including „the kingdoms of this world,” under „the prince of this world.” We re-examined every point carefully, and every part fitted to every other with a completeness that bore the stamp of truth, and with a strength which testified that the calculations came from and were the testimony of God’s chronometer.
Very cautiously every expression of Jesus and the Apostles and Prophets was scanned, to see whether their testimony would correspond. Gradually we found them, one after another, to be in fullest accord; for instance, Jesus’ words (Matt. 24:37), „As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” Examining this passage we found that the word coming does not convey the proper meaning. The Greek word Parousia signifies PRESENCE—that the person has arrived, and is no longer in the act of coming. Another text we will mention (1 Thes. 5:1-5): „Of the times and seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you, for yourselves know that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night [stealthily, quietly], and when they [the world:: shall say peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child, and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief; for ye are all children of the light.” The children of light walk in the shining path enlightened by the Lamp—the sure word of prophecy, from which the light shines out, showing them that the time is fulfilled, that the harvest and its events are commenced, and that the Reaper is present in his day—the Day of the Lord.
[The Millennial Day-Dawn will contain these various TIME PROOFS. It is being prepared as rapidly as other duties will permit.]
Engaged in searching and teaching thus, time sped on till 1878 had come. While our previous leading into truth was blessed and sweet, yet since 1878, has come the richest feasting and most blessed growth in favor and knowledge—for it is since then, that the Lord has given us to see the deep things of God, at some of which we shall now glance briefly. All having been published, and being fresh in your memory, it is needless to now treat them in detail.
(1). It was there, that our „Lamp” showed us that the nominal church was cast off from favor, spued out from being the Lord’s mouthpiece, and from that time the message has been freely given, „Babylon is fallen! Come out of her my people.” And as we look at her present condition of decay and falling, looking back we see that she began to fall at the time indicated on the prophetic dial.
(2). Next the rays of divine illumination fell on Rev. 12 and 13, opening up before us, with marked clearness of detail, the history of Papacy—the Beast, and Protestantism its image—and the great control these would possess in the Church, ultimately causing the masses of the Church to mark or name themselves so as to indicate a support of their claims and systems; and prohibiting and forbidding the right of buying and selling—the free exchange of truth—by those who do not recognize these systems. This left no doubt as to the mind of the Spirit toward those systems here termed the „Leopard Beast,” „the two horned beast,” and the „Image of the Beast,” and their ultimate destruction by the bright shining of truth from the present one. This in turn helped us to appreciate more clearly that an important part of the overcoming expected of us, is to get free from the binding and blinding influences of these systems—as shown in Rev. 20:4.
(3). Following this, came light upon the short bed and narrow cover of Isa. 28:20, which we saw was the uncomfortable and unsatisfactory creeds in which a babe in Christ might, but a developed man could not stretch himself or find any rest. All who are „weaned from the breasts” and are no longer babes in Christ (verse 9), to these God will teach his doctrines and then they will speedily get out of the short trundle-bed creeds, and, instead of vexation, find rest in the liberty wherewith Christ makes free.
(4). Then the bed of Luke 17:34 was seen to be the same as the short one mentioned by Isaiah, and the shining of the one cast light upon the other and its surroundings. Thus we saw that the one taken and the other left in the presence of the Son of man, referred not as we had once supposed, to a change from natural to spiritual bodies, but to a translation out of the domain or kingdom of darkness into the light and liberty of the kingdom of light: in short, to the gathering of some out of short creed-beds to follow the Lord, and the leaving of others in their uncomfortable position.
The same ray of light, shining on the connected statements, showed those grinding at the mill to represent teachers seeking to prepare food for the household of faith—some of these will be taken, others left to grind on at the unsatisfying husks and chaff. The taken ones went—where, Lord? Jesus answered, „Wheresoever the body [carcass—food] is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.” Thus we see that the class gathered in the presence of the Son of man—in the day when he is being revealed (verse 30)—will be gathered to the real food—to a satisfying portion. And all the saints whom the truth has called out of the short bed and from grinding the husks of human tradition, to the heavenly food now provided for us, can truly say, it is „a feast of fat things.”
(5). While it is difficult at such a feast to decide which is the richest food, yet we believe that what we are now about to mention is of all the food the best, viz: The appreciation of the
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sacrifices of Leviticus—especially of the Day of Atonement for sins, as pictured in Lev. 9 and 16. Nothing ever showed us so clearly the necessity and value of a sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. We feel confident that no one
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who has a clear understanding of the details of these sacrifices for sin, can ever question the ransom. Here is clearly shown the sacrifice of Jesus as the bullock and the „little flock” who follow him, represented by the Lord’s goat. Nowhere else is our share with our Lord in the work of sacrifice „filling up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” (Col. 1:24) so clearly shown. But we need not tarry with this topic—you have it in detail in the Tabernacle pamphlet, which we trust you have not only read, but studied in connection with the Scripture.
(6). Shining through this appreciation of the sacrifices for sins, came greater light upon a number of subjects related to the fellowship of the „little flock” in Jesus’ sufferings. We saw now a greater depth in Baptism, and as the light from Leviticus shone upon Rom. 6:3-5, we saw that Baptism into Christ, by a baptism into His death, meant much more than an immersion or burial in water, though that is a beautiful figure and symbol; appropriate as an outward sign or symbol of our consecration to death as sacrifices with Christ. And looking through this open door we saw the meaning of being dead WITH Christ that we might also live WITH him—suffering with him that we might also be glorified together—having fellowship (or part) in His death that we might have fellowship also in His resurrection.
(7). Following now in order, came light to discern the difference of natures—that animal or earthly beings, were distinct and separate every way from spiritual or heavenly beings; that while both were bodily conditions, yet as explained by Paul they are distinct and separate, one earthly, the other heavenly. „There is a natural [animal] body and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Cor. 15:44.) Thus we saw that as there are various orders or grades of earthly creatures—beasts, birds, fishes and the chief of all these man, yet each is a distinct nature. So also on the spiritual plane there are various orders or degrees, the chief of whom is Jehovah; yet those on the spiritual plane do not blend, hence the angelic nature never will develop into a divine nature, because they are distinct and separate natures, even as man and fish are separate natures.
We were aided in seeing this by the light from Lev. 16; for in it we saw that those who sacrificed surrendered a human nature (represented by the bullock and goat) to partake of a new nature (represented in the Priest); this being in harmony with much of Paul’s testimony concerning the same class of sacrifices, that as the natural man perished or was sacrificed, they were developing as „new creatures.” The transformation at first being merely a mental one—from a natural or earthly mind to a heavenly or spiritual mind—will at the resurrection be complete, for then the new or spiritual mind will be joined with a new or spiritual body—thus completing the change now begun from animal to spiritual beings. But this change of nature we saw was not designed for all mankind—no, only for those who sacrificed the human nature with Jesus, that they may gain a promised share with HIM, in life as spiritual or heavenly beings—highly exalted, not only above the human nature, but also above angelic nature. For know ye not that when exalted we shall judge or govern angels, and be joined in heirship with him who has been made so much better than the angels?
(8.) Then came—”The narrow way to Life,” and we saw as never before the meaning of Life—Immortality—and the narrowness of the way which leads to it. It is narrow; there is no room to lug along worldly hopes and ambitions; it is steep and rugged, and every step is a denial and sacrifice of the rights and comforts of the human nature. The steps in this narrow way are not merely conflicts with sin. No, that may be done anywhere by the justified only, as well as by the sanctified, and all who enter this „narrow way” have already been justified from all sin in God’s sight by the ransom price given by Jesus. On the contrary, the steps are of sacrifice: sacrificing those things to which as men they have a right.
As the steps are very difficult ones, which few would ever find, and fewer yet would care to walk in if they did find them, so it is but reasonable to infer that the prize at its further end is of wondrous value. The prize is Life—not merely existence, but Life in the superlative degree—i.e., independent of all conditions, as God has „life in himself,” and not dependent on surrounding circumstances and elements. Life in this degree belongs not to angelic or human nature, but to the Divine nature only. And the fact that the narrow way which few find, leads to this Life, proves that on it is the class who seek for „glory, honor and immortality,” and to whom are given „exceeding great and precious promises, that by these they might become partakers of the Divine nature.” (2 Pet. 1:4.) With joy we saw too, that though few find this „narrow way,” and few would gain that prize of life—immortality—yet these few were to be the instruments of God in the restitution of human existence to the WORLD, which, if used in harmony with God’s will, may be everlasting existence.
(9.) With the light shining from a better appreciation of the distinctness and separateness of human and spiritual natures, we soon began to see clearly the two phases or parts of the kingdom of God—the spiritual phase composed of Jesus and His Church over all and above all, and the earthly phase composed at first of Israel after the flesh, restored to favor and ruling and teaching men as the earthly representatives of the spiritual kingdom, and gradually gathering into union and harmony with it all the families of the earth, except a few incorrigible ones who shall be destroyed.
(10.) In turn, this discernment of the two parts or elements of the one kingdom, led to the appreciation of many Scriptures previously obscure, and enabled us to see how Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and all the prophets, would be in the kingdom of God (human phase), though having lived and died before the Spirit-dispensation began—before the narrow way to LIFE was opened up by Jesus our Guide and Forerunner in it.
(11). Next light flashed out upon the words of Jesus (Rev. 2:11). „He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Never before had we realized that we are called to go into the second death, but promised that it should not be a permanent injury or „hurt.” Now we saw that what is termed the first death is the Adamic death, which would have been the utter end except for the ransom given, which bought all out of its grasp and control. The actual recovery of mankind out of death (i.e., restitution) awaits for its accomplishment the glorious reign of Him who „bought us with his precious blood.” But now we are told to reckon ourselves, free from sin and pure, and to reckon ourselves freed from Adamic death, which is the penalty of sin. Thus one death is in the past to us, and this reckoned-restored life we present to God asking that our justified humanity be permitted to share death with Jesus’ spotless sacrifice. This would be our second death. First we were under and in Adamic death, but were lifted (by faith) out of that death that we might become dead with Christ.
Hence though death came to Jesus but once and was his first death, to those who become dead with him it is the second death, because Jesus was not in the Adamic death while we were. But the overcomers shall not be hurt of the second death. Ah, no; they will be greatly blessed by it, for if they thus become dead with Him they shall also live and be glorified with Him (Rom. 6:8 and 8:17).
But to all who enter the second death as a punishment for their own wilful sins, after being enlightened by the Spirit of truth and not as justified sacrificers with Jesus, it will be a great hurt, a severe loss, the loss of all hope, the extinction of all life, in which there is no hope of a resurrection; for Christ dieth no more; and for such there remains no further share in the sacrifice for Adamic sin, and which released from Adamic death (Heb. 10:26).
(12). Next we saw that the living members of Christ—those that are alive and remain in the presence of Christ—these have a special work to do, in introducing the present King. We had long since seen that among the many figures used to represent the union and fellowship which exist between Jesus and his Church, one of the most forcible is that which represents all as one person, Jesus the head, and the Church the joints and members of the body. In this figure the last members would be the feet; and while there has been a hand and foot class all along in every age of the Church, yet of the Church, as a whole, the last members are the feet. Hence if we have the right appreciation of the Word, the living members are the feet of the anointed body—the Christ.
And just in harmony, we here found the Prophet testifying, „How beautiful are the FEET of Him that bringeth good tidings of good … that saith unto Zion thy God REIGNETH (Isa. 52:7). We found not only that the living saints were the feet class, but that we were making this very proclamation to Zion as foretold by the Prophet, saying, „Thy God reigneth„—the Lord is present—the kingdom is being set up and is beginning, in its own quiet way, the breaking in pieces and consuming of every opposing thing.
(13). About next in order came, „The blessed dying,” mentioned in Rev. 14:13, and we saw for the first time that the evidence is clear, that all who become sacrifices must die. The difference between those who remain unto the presence of the Lord and those who „fell asleep in Jesus” previously, being
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that we shall not sleep. The overcomers in these days of his presence will not sleep, for in the very moment of death they „shall be changed” from human to spiritual beings. Hence, „Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from HENCEFORTH; yea, saith the Spirit, they shall rest from their labors, but their works follow with them.”
This in turn led to the appreciation of Psa. 82:6,8: „I have said ye are GOD’S; all of you children of the Highest: but ye shall all die like MEN.” This was very confirmatory of what we had seen of the distinctness of nature between men and the „new creatures,” between human nature which we have from Adam, and the divine nature promised to those who follow the captain in sacrificing the human nature.
Of the light shining during the past year—on Revelation, on the invisible things of God, the increasing evidence of the presence of Christ both in the condition of the Church, and the continued preparation of the world for a conflict, by uniting into societies, are fresh in your memory. Also the evidence presented of the credibility and authenticity of the New Testament Scriptures, called out by the claim of some that they were as competent, and better able to understand and express truth than the Apostles. Also the discussion in all its phases of that important question, „Whose Son is He?” We found no lack of evidence that he was the Anointed Son of the living God, and that his life was „from above,” and came not through the sin and death-tainted line of Adam. We thus disproved the claims of some who asserted that he was the son of Joseph; and not only so, but proved that, if a son of Joseph, he would have been of the line of Solomon and hence not the heir to „David’s throne,” since the promise to Solomon was on condition of loyalty to God, and he was cast off, that the true heir should come by another of David’s sons—Nathan—from whom Mary descended. And with many truths has the Lord fed us, making very clear, we trust, to all the little flock that the basis of all hope to the Church or the world is the favor of God exercised by and through a Redeemer and a ransom price. Lastly, we have seen that the „Arch-angel”—the chief messenger of Jehovah—is now our highly exalted Lord of all, the Redeemer of the world, the Head or Bridegroom of the Church.
And now, commencing another year, we trust that it will refresh and strengthen you all, to look back at the way that God hath led us.
„He leadeth us; oh, blessed thought”!
What better evidence could we have that we are on the shining way to perfect Day, than by glancing back. Ours has truly been a shining path—shining more and more. Each new ray of light has added to, instead of contradicting that previously received; and thus we may expect it to continue until the full blaze is reached—when we shall know as we are known—if we continue to follow humbly the Master’s leading.
Truly, this is not only an evidence of the Lord’s leading but His presence, for thus he told us it should be, when he would come and knock; blessed would be those servants who would be watching and open unto him immediately—He would come in to them and cause them to sit down to meat (food—refreshing and strengthening truth) and come forth and serve them (Luke 12:37 and Rev. 3:20).
We would not presume on past leading as a proof of leading during another year now beginning, but would keep in mind that as the natural branches were broken off because of boastfulness and unbelief, so we should be in danger if we ceased to „hold the head” in proper reverence. But by the grace of God we start upon another year trusting the same promises, that „He that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” We shall expect more meat in due season from the Master who is feeding us—yet doubtless there will be trials and testings of courage and faith, to see whether we have made proper use of the meat already given us. Beloved, let us give more earnest heed, lest at any time we should let those things slip; but, laying aside every hindrance and weight, let us, afresh with vigor, lay hold upon the great hopes set before us in the Gospel—glory, honor and immortality—the divine nature.
Let us bear in mind that the Presence of Christ, and Whose son is he? were the tests at the first advent, and over that stone the fleshy house of Israel stumbled, as now in His presence a second time, the same questions are asked and discussed, and over the same stone now present in the path many are falling, for „He shall be for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel” (Isa. 8:14. and 1 Pet. 2:5-8).
Below will be found some extracts from
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—The Emphatic Diaglott received this morning, for which many thanks. I have now pleasure in forwarding my yearly subscription and a small contribution to the Tract Fund; should rejoice if it were more.
For twenty years, and indeed until the advent of „Food” twelve months ago, the United States was of all places in the world the last that I should have thought of for receiving spiritual instruction and consolation from; and the smile of pity, or amazement, or incredulity with which the mention of these glad tidings, or the presentation of „Food,” is received by the image worshipers here, appears to indicate that it is the last place they wish to receive it from.
The good news appears to be most acceptable to „Dissenters,” and still more so to those who are sectarians in name only, but to the „Orthodox” ones it is most objectionable. … A great stumbling block to many is the fact that we have no sectarian badge, and while seeing but little truth in many so fettered, they cannot realize any in those who are absolutely free. I thank my Lord that this great light has shone upon me, and I pray that I may be enabled steadfastly and faithfully to walk in the light until death.
Your article in January WATCH TOWER, as to the solitariness and loneliness
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of individual believers has, doubtless been felt by many besides myself, but though sometimes wishing for kindred companionship, I rejoice in the deliverance from the bondage of the multitude; and although I should be glad to meet with others for instruction and communion, I often think this severance is preferable, lest a sectarian spirit should spring up.
O how clear is the Word from the new teaching, and how harmonious; how vividly at times is the truth revealed, and what a comforting change from the doubts and misgivings, and the continual unrest and disquietude of former days! I thank the Lord for all these mercies, and pray that he will bless and prosper and enlighten and keep steadfast in his truth those who are disseminating his Word.
I am, Dear Brother,
Yours faithfully in the Lord, __________.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—Many warm thanks for your publications, which besides the „Concordance,” reached me in due time. I think they are inestimable in value, as they explain the blessed Word so that all that „have an ear to hear” ought to hear.
I have thrown aside all literature except the Bible, and even that single book would now take more time to study than I really can get. While in the past I never studied so much as now, and while the reading of other books occupied most of my time, yet I thought to know the doctrine of the Bible by heart. Whenever I read a chapter, it seemed to me so old and indifferent that I never could delight myself in reading it. But now everything is new, all is full of life and fire, which warms my heart up to devotion and praise, so I can thank God now that I ever was born. Especially I adore Him that I have the privilege to live in this grand time, when knowledge is increased, and that I am found worthy to suffer with our Lord, that I also may be exalted with him.
I have observed through your paper the sound position which you hold, and my constant prayer is, that the God of all grace might give you more wisdom, and build you up more and more. Surely you have a very difficult position, which requires constant watchfulness, and especially prayerfulness, in order to escape the snares of the adversary.
I am enabled, by God’s grace, to say that I am leaning on God’s Word, feeding in the pleasant pasture of peace, drawing water out of the wells of salvation, and rejoicing in hope of glory. My faith is unwavering, my prayers fervent, and I have the assurance that God the Father accepts my sacrifice. Though only five years in this country, only 20 years of age, I have seen hard times, experienced many things, and have been led wondrously by the hand of my heavenly Father; and my will in the future is to live only for our Redeemer’s cause, come what will.
I have a perfect knowledge of the German language, and I am meditating upon what I could do. When the German people are won, they are faithful. I am assured there will be a way opened to them by our divine Lord somehow. To Him be praise, honor and glory, both now and forever.
Yours in Christ Jesus, __________.
C. T. RUSSELL, DEAR SIR:—Last October I received a copy of „ZION’S WATCH TOWER.” I do not know what I thought of it then, but recently I came across it in looking over old papers, and for two days I have been reading and re-reading it very attentively.
There are many thoughts which strike me with a force that forbids their dismissal as bare speculations.
I am a Presbyterian greatly interested in Bible study, but for years I have felt that I was barely clinging to the verge of the true light yet to be revealed. And yet, enough has been graciously vouchsafed to me by breaking away from denominational theories, and comparing scripture with scripture, to satisfy me that richer, greener pastures are within reach of every Christian than the great majority are ready or willing to feed in. With the slight advance I have made by striving to sink self-will in the Divine will, and trusting and believing in the Holy Spirit’s power to enlighten my mind in the study of the Word, I find many, in pulpit and pew, whom I know have little sympathy in what they deem departure from „old landmarks.” But that is all nothing to me. I have exulted in the restfulness and joy that certain new unfoldings have brought to me, and from the remaining restlessness and discontent, I know I am not yet fully anchored upon the solid foundation, cleared of the „hay, wood and stubble” of human building, and am looking, fully expecting the clearer understanding of „things to come” which Christ has promised to his „friends.” Will you please send me „Food for Thinking Christians.”
Yours very sincerely, __________.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Last week I made two hundred calls here; and after exhorting each one to „test” the „WATCH TOWER” by God’s own word, and not by old sectarian ideas, I left them the Oct. number, with the understanding that should they become interested in the themes of that number, they should have more truth on the same line. I see that God has set me right in the very best channel for doing good. I find it to be very humiliating to the natural man to thus suffer as I do, but to the spiritual it is a holy highway in which I walk, carrying armfuls of „FOOD” to starving saints. I think if every city could have a true, suffering and competent saint to go from house to house with this „BREAD,” that many of the enslaved ones would soon see deliverance coming, and thus be lifted out of the fearful snare of the devil, from which I have been picked and set at liberty.
I have stood in the pulpits of different denominations, exhorting sinners to escape eternal torment, and I thus scared many into the church. Thus I went from town to town and city to city telling the people of the eternal pain and anguish they must surely expect except they took my advice. And all that time I did not know whether eternal torment, or heaven would be my everlasting abode. I used to say these very words to my hearers: „A moment’s space removes me to that heavenly place, or shuts me up in hell.” But where are my scared hearers now? Their religion turned out to be a forced profession through fear of hell, and not LOVE to God. And nearly as soon (and sometime before), I left them they got back again as before. But now, how changed is all this! I have now spent nearly a year going from town to town scattering the real truth—this blessed Gospel. I now no longer wonder why Jesus came 4,000 years too late. Thank God he has tasted death for all; and, as Peter said, in the TIME of restitution he will set the captive free. O how I long to see it come! Your brother in Christ, __________.
DEAR FRIENDS:—Paper and Tabernacle Tract at hand, for which accept my thanks. O what joy thrills my heart at the receipt of anything from your office! I never had anything like it in all my life. When I read in TOWER about your celebration of the Lord’s Supper, I was overcome with an inexpressible joy that I couldn’t read the article for tears for some time. When I reached the point where Bro. Sunderlin called to mind Jesus’ words, „Verily one of you which eateth shall betray me,” I thought, O how often I had denied the dear Lord in the past through ignorance of the true teaching of His Word. O, what a Gospel feast now!
„Wonderful things in the Bible I see.”
How He feeds me on the Bread of Life! His flesh is meat indeed, and His blood is drink indeed.
The ground seems very hard and sterile here. I see so little fruits of my labors that sometimes I feel lonely and sad; but when the WATCH TOWER comes, I seem to be on an oasis for a while, and I dive afresh into the great mine of truth; and I know not how many times I say, „Glory to God,” before I get through my feast; but I sow in great hope, for I know it is good seed and must take root somewhere.
I expect to take a trip in the country next week, the Lord willing, and shall publish salvation as I go. Wife joins me in much love to you and all the brethren.
Yours in the blessed Christ, __________.
P.S.—My health is poor now, but O, what peace is upon me!
DEAR BROTHER:—The time is come when a remittance is due. I enclose $15. Last year I took ten papers in the hope of interesting and doing good to some. I find some actually refuse them; others refused to be interested; and as I do not believe in forcing men, nor think it proper to cast pearls in an unseemly place, this year you may send me five copies. It would give me pleasure to increase rather than decrease the number, but when Jesus says, „Let them alone,” I obey. Please send me a Variorum Bible, and, if you can, send me two more of „Food for Thinking Christians,” and two more „Tabernacle Teachings,” as a reserve for opportunity to do good. I know that the others I got have done good. What remains of the remittance place where you think best. I think the claim of the Swedes is good.
Perhaps you would like to know who I am or what I am. I am over seventy years of age; what the world would call a poor man, a shoemaker, or rather a shoemender. But I bless God for his goodness to me. I was brought up a Presbyterian; came to this country forty-four years ago. From conviction I became a Baptist; afterwards in 1845 or ’46 George Storr’s sermons were the means of a great theological revolution with me. The hand of fellowship was withdrawn from me, because I believed I had no immortality now, but rejoiced I had it as a PRIZE BEFORE ME, and also because I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The Bible then seemed to me like a new book, and I bless God it has been brighter and brighter all along.
As proof texts for the restitution of the human race, although I have no remembrance of seeing them alluded to, I would quote Ps. 90:3. „Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men,” I used to look upon the word return, as to return to dust, but I was forcibly impressed by noticing that word marked by a capital R as being an emphatic word—and the reason assigned in the following verse, „For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.” God is not limited by years nor ages for the accomplishment for his gracious purposes.
Again, Jeremiah 12:15-17: „And it shall come to pass, after that I have plucked them out I will return, and have compassion on them, and will bring them again every man to his heritage, and every man to his land. And it shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of, my people to swear by my name the Lord liveth; (as they taught my people to swear by Baal;) then shall they be built up in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation, saith the Lord.” By carefully reading the preceding part of the chapter, I came to the conclusion these promises are yet in the future. „Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” Yours in love, __________.
New Hampton, N.Y.
DEAR BRETHREN:—I have read the „Food” in connection with the „Tower” and, owing to the clearer light obtained, find much pleasure therein. Thanks to Bro. G. A. Rose, who introduced them in this section. In response to the statement, that you have other reading matter for earnest inquirers, I write in the hope of obtaining.
It seems as if the dense night that has enshrouded us is at last dissolving, and the glorious light of the Word is slowly but surely breaking upon our benighted minds. We open our eyes in a convulsion of fear, just as the horrid nightmare is about to crush us with eternal torment, and lo, we are surrounded with the full radiance of day! A sweet sense of relief fills us with unutterable joy. But millions more are still blindly agonizing with their dreams, fearing to open their eyes lest they should find the awful vision real. This view is sad enough, but the break of day is near.
Surely God will prosper your undertaking. Continue your work; rouse the erring ones to their duty; bring them back to the fold.
Yours sincerely, __________.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:— … The Food and Tabernacle have been at work. We have been calling the attention of our neighbors and friends to read, but have only found one or two that want to learn. As for me and my house we are fully determined to follow after the truth, and lay aside our church creeds and rely on the Word of God. I am over sixty years of age; and have been very active in the cause of Christ for 40 years, but my light was dim until I got the WATCH TOWER and pamphlets. I held the office of deacon of the Baptist church here one year ago, but have come out of her, and, with one or two more, we stand alone. I have but very little of this world’s goods, but I feel truly rich to think that I have found the light and truth even in my old age. It is more pleasure to me now to read God’s Word than it was before.
Your brother in the Lord, __________.
— August, 1883 —