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EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS
Walton Co., Fla.
C. T. RUSSELL:—Dear Brother:—Please accept my thanks. I wish I could only tell you all I feel, but I cannot. The teaching of the TOWER seems to me to be the truth, and yet, so different from what I have been taught. I read, and am amazed and delighted, and frequently I am led to exclaim, Surely, surely, this must be the truth! My Father in heaven knows how I long to know the truth—I have prayed to be kept from error.
For some time I have not been satisfied with so-called orthodox teaching. It didn’t seem to me to harmonize with God’s Word, and although for a time I tried to keep „in the lines,” I finally broke through and preached what I believed to be the truth. I have in consequence been persecuted and denounced as unsound in the faith. I became so disheartened that I meditated leaving the Baptist church. But where to go I knew not. When I came to examine, they all seemed to be afflicted with the same disease, and some worse off than my own denomination. Just then (it seemed an accident), a friend handed me, at meeting one day, a couple of Z.W.T., with the remark that as I was unsound, they would not hurt me to read them. Oh! how they stirred my very soul!
I am studying hard; if I become perfectly satisfied, I am done with sects and creeds. I have been lending the papers and circulating them about. Some of the strict ones are watching me. A storm is brewing for me, and I am all alone; but blessed thought, God will help. Yours in Christ,
VERY DEAR BROTHER:—I am going to write you a few lines. More and more I esteem your special work. I have been feasting on „Food,” and it is rich, spiritually. When first I read of the doctrine of the presence of Christ, it was too much for me—so contrary to all I had learned in days past—but now, after months of study and meditation, I see the truth, and it is a power to the believer. Your letter of April 11th has been perused over and over, and has been of great help to me. I again thank you. The one serious and important question, if you remember, was as to how much time I should give to the Lord and how much to business. Since then, the subject has been constantly in my mind, having given it the cool and careful consideration you advised (also my method), desiring to do exactly right in the matter, desiring above all to please our Lord, and to so decide that I should gain spiritually and be enabled to do the best for others.
Well, business takes the second place, and I will give more time in studying the Word and gaining from the Lord spiritual light and direction. The Lord is revealing himself to me more and more. I pray that I may so understand him as to do the most I can to honor him in this life, to do good to all men, and „to live and move and have my being in him.” I pray for wisdom, direction and blessing for you, often.
With sincere regard, your brother in Christ, __________.
Clay Co., Dak., Oct. 14.
DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:—May the Lord bless you, in your work, spreading the joyful tidings of our dear Master’s presence. „O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; say unto the cities of Judah, behold your God.” I have often thought of writing to you; but being a foreigner, the English language don’t come as natural to me. Have had the TOWER in our house for two years, and it has been the means of opening my eyes. My heart is full of gratitude to my heavenly Father. How gloriously the dawn is breaking after such a long night of darkness! For the last five years I have been earnestly looking for the coming of Jesus my Bridegroom. My path has often been narrow and difficult. Thanks to God, I can see it clearly now. What a great privilege it is to suffer with him here and share his glory there. When your paper and Food first reached me, it seemed to me I was like Peter, who was out along with the other disciples, fishing the whole night and caught nothing. When morning came, Jesus stood on the shore and they knew not that it was Jesus, but John was the first to recognize him, and told Peter, and we know the result. So it was with me, when you told me, „It is the Lord.” I believed the John class, and swam ashore. Will you please send me three copies of each number of the SWEDISH WATCH TOWER; I would like to send them to Sweden, to some persons whom I know for sure are thinking Christians and Bible students. The mite enclosed ($5.00) will help pay some of the debt you are in for expense of the Swedish paper. I wish it could be more, but I am sure the Lord is able to provide in due time. „Be of good cheer,” the help will come where we least expect it. I hope that some of my countrymen, or the Swedish saints, may be able to comprehend the glorious truth, and take an interest in the Swede TOWER. I know but two or three that really understand—they are old pilgrims. May God bless you abundantly, dear brother and sister Russell, is my daily prayer.
Your sister in Christ, __________.
MY DEAR BROTHER:—I am glad to tell you that I am cheerfully holding on to what I have learned of „the good (not spurious) Word of God,” and am still anxiously reaching for more. I receive so much comfort from the teachings of the TOWER that I read the different issues over and over again. Indeed, so helpful is the paper to me, in the understanding of God’s Word, that I look for it every time as I would for a dear friend. It is next to the Bible. I am alone as yet, but the light is certainly making some impression. Babylon is visibly unstable and corrupt; her corruption is becoming so enormous, that thinking men cannot much longer submit to it; she is actually closing her eyes and ears to known filth in her ministry, as well as laity, and her order is to „hold the fort” against the light now streaming from the Word.
Delta Co., Tex.
DEAR SIR AND BROTHER:—Some time ago, a copy of the WATCH TOWER accidentally (?) got into my house. I read it and became interested very much; have received several numbers since, and „Food for Thinking Christians.” Well, what of it? I hardly know whether to accept it or reject it; in fact, I can’t reject a part of it without rejecting the Word of God. I determined many years ago not to accept or reject any theory until satisfied that the Word of God sustained it. I need not tell you this motto has made me a little „weak-kneed” on some things in my church.
I have read all you sent and am thirsting for more. I handed some of the papers to friends, though that voice, „Let no man deceive you,” makes me tread cautiously; yet, „by their fruits ye shall know them” partly dispels the fear. I shall be glad if you will answer this by letter, and answer the following questions: First. Should I become convinced that yours is the true Church, and wish to join it, how should I proceed? Second. In other words, would I have to subscribe to a certain set of doctrines, the mode and design of baptism included? Third. If you have a set of doctrines your ministry are bound to subscribe to and teach, what are they?—especially with reference to baptism, its mode and design, and the conditions of pardon? I think, from what I can gather from your book and papers, that we are agreed on these things—I hope so. Can you arrange for us to have preaching on these subjects? This is, I should think, a good field of labor. Our people are ready to hear and test by the only infallible guide—the Bible. Will you please to send us, as per offer, more reading matter, especially, „The Tabernacle and Its Teachings,” and whatever else you think would be good for me.
With respect, etc., I am yours in Christ, __________.
[Answers to the above questions will be found in the following articles of Z.W.T.:—”The Ecclesia,” Sept., ’84; „Our Sect,” Oct., ’83; „Justification Defined,” Sept., ’84; „The Two Baptisms,” Oct., ’84; „The Episcopal Church,” this issue. When evidence is seen, „Be not faithless, but believing”—then courageous and faithful.]
MRS. C. T. RUSSELL:—My Dear Sister in Christ:—I have longed so often to write to you, but have refrained from anything only short letters to the TOWER, on what seemed necessary. But it is almost a year since I left the M.E. Church, and myself and husband were buried in baptism. It has been such a year of rest that I must write and tell you. Of course, we have had trials; those that once spoke well of us now say strange things, but you know all about that, for all are treated alike. We have stood on the „sea of glass” almost a year, and we are not tired yet! The Word tastes just as good—yea, it grows sweeter all the time. I do wish I knew some word to write that would express my intense love for the precious Word of God, precious because it is the revelation of himself. Several years ago I promised my Lord to do whatever I should see to be duty, regardless of others’ opinions, and the Lord always gave me strength to do whatever he required. As to knowledge of Scripture, I had none only the most simple; I clung to what I had, but was afraid to try to learn more. I read my Bible just exactly as a Catholic counts his beads, in reverence and in ignorance. I was afraid to study it, because friends of mine commenced studying long ago, and, seeing the error in the church, left it, and left all. They saw the error in the church, but did not see the glory in true religion; they saw the failure of man, but did not see that God has a religion that is not, and cannot be defiled by man. I feared to study my Bible, lest I should deny the Lord that bought me, and then, of a sudden, I saw that I might study—yea, I could go down into the depths of the wisdom and knowledge of God, and he would aid me, and there was no fear of infidelity! Could I be disobedient to the heavenly vision? nay, nay, but I could praise him continually for the great joy he has given me, the unspeakable joy of knowing him. I wish we could oftener find listening ears, for it seems so selfish to have all these precious truths and not feast our friends too; but they are suspicious of us, it is seldom they will listen, and I find it a severe trial to be quiet and learn so much and say so little. We esteem the WATCH TOWER most highly, but I cannot tell you that we swallow them all instantly; sometimes we get too large a dose, and have to wait a while and apply the test, but we search the Scriptures daily, to see if these things are so, and it is wonderful what feasts we have, how could we have read the Bible so long and not know anything about it?
And now, dear sister, I have written this to you, because I love to commune with one of like precious faith, and hoping that it might prove a slight encouragement to you, if your arms are weary. I would help to hold them up, but the Lord will sustain you. We do not know each other, but we do know the same precious Saviour, and together we will praise him.
Your sister in the Lord, __________.
— November, 1884 —