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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
The Swedish tract fund reached such a sum as to justify the publishing of a sample copy of the TOWER in the Swedish language, to be used as a tract, among the Swedish and Norwegian Christians, here and in Sweden. The notice in our last issue, that we were ready for lists of addresses of religious Swedes and Norwegians, brought to us many responses, and we will be mailing sample copies to the same, about the time you receive this paper. Whether there will be in the future, a regular edition of the TOWER in Swedish, will depend upon the interest awakened amongst that people by these sample copies and upon the supply of needful means for the additional expense involved. It is in the Lord’s hands and we cannot doubt that He will overrule it to his own glory and the blessing of His Swedish Saints.
It cannot fail to give pleasure to each one who has contributed even „two mites” to the fund which published these sample copies, that they have helped to preach the „glad tidings of great joy” among over 20,000 Swedish brethren and sisters. All who appreciate the „good tidings,” seem to feel as did the early church, that it is a thing so precious, so good, that they cannot refrain from declaring it.
Though our Father is rich and will not permit a single one of his saints to go hungry for the bread of life through the unfaithfulness of any of us, yet if we do not improve the privilege granted us, of ministering to the saints, the loss will be ours. While we rejoice to see that some of the consecrated are growing in grace by the exercise of this talent of distributing to the (spiritual or temporal) necessities of others, we fear that some are depriving themselves of this blessed privilege and means of growth in grace. We have no disposition, nor do we intend this as fault-finding. We mention it as an aid to self-examination. May the Lord help us all, to faithfully judge ourselves, regarding the fulfillment of our covenant.
We shall not beg for Jehovah for he is rich; he says, „The silver is mine, and the gold is mine,” „and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” Hag. 2:8; Psa. 50:10. Yet while so rich, he has deposited a little here and there, more or less, with us; giving us the control of it. Then he leaves his own work, the very things in which he is interested most, measurably dependent on us, in order that we might have the privilege of using the means intrusted to us in ministering to the necessities of the saints and being thus co-workers with God.
Are we not right in saying that this is a great privilege? Are we not right too, in supposing that few appreciate highly enough their stewardship? Do we always remember Jesus’ words? „He that receiveth you receiveth me, … and whosoever shall give to one of these a cup of cold water only, shall in no wise lose his reward. Matt. 10:40-42. Do we always remember that the Lord as represented by every saint who is a member of His body, is still to be found, still to be ministered to? Let us remember too, that the real members will seldom ask, except of the Father, because they possess the spirit of their head—the spirit of trust which looks to their heavenly Father for whatsoever he sees best, to send, and by whomsoever he sees fit to send it. But how great is the privilege of being fit and used in Jehovah’s service.
If it is a privilege to feed and clothe the „earthen vessel,” how much more blessed is the privilege of feeding the spiritually hungry with „the bread of life,” and clothing them with the „wedding garment” of Christ’s righteousness, by scattering the truth. God has so ordered matters—inventions, etc., that to-day the greatest influence and the most forcible preaching, is done through the medium of the printing press. Thus, for instance, each copy of the TOWER contains about eight sermons, and these are brought before an average of about 20,000 readers at each issue, the majority of whom have „an ear to hear,” which is not the case with the ordinary congregations of nominal Christians. Thus the TOWER under the Lord’s blessing, is able to spread the truth more widely than 200 traveling preachers could do.
We call your attention to this matter so that you may appreciate more fully, the lever of power within your own grasp, for the spread of truth. Some, are recognizing and improving these latter day advantages in one way and some in another. Some call together companies of their friends and neighbors and read them a discourse; others write to us for sample copies, which they loan to such as seem to have an „ear.” Others, endeavor to introduce the TOWER among Christians, as a regular preacher.
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The present issue of the Swedish paper, will we hope, help to open the Lord’s storehouse, to the hungry of that people. This is well, but let us not stop, while others are crying for „bread.” Our German brethren and sisters are still in want, because of the famine (Amos 8:11) and it is our happy privilege to be among Jehovah’s agencies in answering their prayer—”Give us this day our daily bread.” Let us give the „meat in due season.” Freely we received, let us freely give to others the heavenly food—manna. „Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” Matt. 24:46.
To this end, we propose that while we shall still remember the regular Tract Fund and the Swedish Fund, we shall give some special attention to the German Fund. It will be remembered that this fund was started some time ago and then permitted to rest until the Swedish Tract-paper should be issued. Now we are ready, so far as in us lies to preach the glad tidings to our German brethren and sisters also. The German Fund contains about $25. When it grows to about $300. we shall begin to make a start, in this direction.
Though it is right enough that those who preach the gospel should live by it—or be supported by it, (1 Cor. 9:11-15,) we are glad, that the „Chief Shepherd” has so arranged for us that we are not thus supported. Rather, we labor working with our own hands, that we might not be chargeable to any, but might have the privilege of helping, together with all saints, in supplying the lack, both temporal and spiritual, of others. (1 Cor. 4:12.)
For this reason we may freely speak to you of this privilege, with the less danger of being misunderstood. And yet we realize that many of our readers will feel, if they do not express it, a wish that the TOWER would confine itself to teaching „The love of God,” „Restitution,” etc., and occasionally touch upon and condemn profanity, or intemperance and not talk so much, of entire consecration, sacrifice, and self-denial. To this we reply, that the mission of the TOWER is specially to the „little flock”—to aid those who are consecrated, to sacrifice. To those of its readers who are fully consecrated, its words of counsel, reproof, and exhortation are directed. Of those who are not consecrated, and who are therefore not running for the prize of the „high calling,” we should not expect so much, though such, if they give even a cup of cold water, shall in no wise lose their reward, when the time for rewarding comes. (Matt. 10:42.)
With the Lord, it is not His poverty, but his desire to give us an opportunity of being co-workers with him, that is the cause of the seeming poverty of many of his saints and of his treasury. So, we can heartily say to you, that our interest in this question of your sacrifice, is a desire to see the truth spread and saints fed, but chiefly, for YOU WHO HAVE CONSECRATED; lest you should fail to perform your sacrifice. We even fear that a false modesty on our part, has been an injury to the flock over which our Lord hath made us to some extent „overseers.” We have for some time, seen the necessity of sacrifice on the part of all who would win the great prize, and though we have repeatedly set forth the necessity of entire sanctification of mind and body; our time, reputation and money—all: That this death to earthly things as symbolized in our water baptism is absolutely essential to our becoming joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 8:17.) Yet we have realized all along that selfishness—love of self, its ease, honors, etc., so powerfully counteracted the clear teachings of the Word, that it had but slight practical effect.
We desire to do our duty and to warn the flock against selfishness, our most iminent danger—our greatest enemy. (Ezek. 33:6,7.) Each one who is running the race for the great „prize of our high calling” should look the issue fairly in the face, and ask himself the question, What am I sacrificing? I have time, money and influence, some of each: am I so arranging my affairs that as large a proportion as possible of these, is used directly in the Master’s service? How much of my influence have I sacrificed, in an attempt to honor and advance the truth? How much sacrifice—self-denial, have I made, in ministering to the saints and others, either the earthly or the heavenly food and clothing? How much of my time has been sacrificed from self and spent for the good of others—doing good unto all men as I have opportunity, especially to the household of faith?
We must not attempt to excuse ourselves, by saying that we know of none of the saints that are starving or naked, else we would help them; and if the Lord’s treasury should become bankrupt, we would then come forward, and contribute. This is an old excuse and evasion suggested by our adversary. Let us remember that if we wait for such opportunities we will never find them. God will never allow his treasury to be bankrupt; He will never allow his saints to starve. Our experience in this matter corroborates that of David (Psa. 37:25,26.) „Yet have I never seen the righteous (saints) forsaken, nor his seed begging bread. He is ever merciful and lendeth; and his seed is blessed.” The Lord’s children, and work will get along without us; but alas what a loss of opportunity and blessing, we should sustain. „Take heed that no man take thy crown.” If we fail to use our privileges, some more worthy will enjoy them and receive the reward.
To be a sacrifice at all, it must be a willing offering and not one forced from us by extraordinary circumstances. Let no man who thus gives time, money, or influence, consider that he offers a sacrifice.
But some one who has considerable, willing to justify himself, may inquire, How much should I give, of my time, money and influence? Possibly you made a mistake—a common one however—for if you are running for the high calling, you should rather have asked, „How much may I use for myself?” If you gave yourself and all, to God, then none of the things you have are your’s but God’s; and you are his agent or steward, to spend all as you understand to be His will, regardless of your own preferences for self.
How much you ought to spend, on yourself and family, how much you should spend on the poorer, and how much you should spend in spreading the truth, are weighty and important questions, which we must leave each steward to decide for himself; merely suggesting Paul’s advice, that in all these matters your aim should be to provide things „decent.” You should attempt to do for the poor so as to have them „decent;” yourself and family should be „decent;” and the cause of truth should be supported on the plane of decency; but on none of these have you a right to waste the Lord’s goods, by extravagance.
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The warp in our „earthen vessels” is such, that do the best we may, we shall probably find self, more and better provided for than our poorer brother, or the work of our Father. Knowing this to be our disposition, and seeing how it differs from that of our Father as displayed by our Elder Brother, who, though he was rich, yet for our sakes became poor, that we through his poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9), we should be constantly on our guard; and while beholding his image (his disposition) as in a mirror we should see to it that we are being changed, daily and hourly to the same image, from glory to glory—by the spirit of the Lord. (2 Cor. 3:18.)
But does another say, „I have nothing to give!” Alas my brother, then you are indeed in a bad condition. If you have nothing to give, then you cannot sacrifice anything. Then you may as well reckon yourself out of the present race for the great prize, for all who attain that goal are sacrificers, and have something to offer. (Heb. 13:15,16 and 1 Peter 2:5.)
But are you sure—very sure, you have nothing? search carefully for none were „called” to this honor, to whom one talent or more, had not been given. If you have hidden yours, so that neither you nor others can see it, we urge you to dig it up quickly and make the more active use of it, lest the King should speedily finish his reckoning with the servants, and instead of saying „Well done, thou good and faithful servant” to thee, should say „wicked and slothful servant.”
No saint has so little, that he has nothing to spend, for the glory and honor of Him who did so much for us. And, in this connection it is well that we should remember, that the less we have, proportionately greater is the sacrifice when we give. Jesus showed his appreciation of amount and motive, for when the rich were casting into the Temple treasury, He saw a poor widow cast in two mites and said that she had sacrificed more, than all the others. (Luke 21:3.) The two mites principle applies to influence and time as well as to money. Be assured that if you have been led of the Lord to consecrate your all, you surely have a way before you to perform, for it is written: „It is God that worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure.” (Phil. 2:13.)
The true principle of sacrifice, seeks not the poorest and leanest part of our sacrifice to offer before the Lord, but the fat—the freshest hours, the choicest talents. Let us learn more and more to economize time and money, so that much of it may be directly used for His glory.
Now, with an exhortation that you shall read carefully Paul’s words to the saints at Corinth—2 Cor. 8 the chapter and especially the ninth chapter; marking carefully verses six to twelve; we feel that we have discharged a duty toward you and shall leave the matter with you, praying that the Word of God which is sharper than any two-edged sword, may
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in this as in all things, be toward you living and powerful; piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul (the human nature) and the spirit (the new nature): Thus enabling you to separate and judge even the thoughts and intents of your own hearts. (Heb. 4:12,13.) And, the very God of peace shall work in you, both to will and to do, of his good pleasure, while you let the same mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus our Lord.
For your joy and encouragement, we present below some—
EXTRACTS FROM INTERESTING LETTERS:
Coon Rapids, Iowa.
MR. RUSSELL:—Dear Bro.:—I enclose pay for the „Variorum Testament, the balance is for the Tract Fund. It is only a trifle, but I will have to be content with sending a little at a time, and hope that it may be more the next. But I can never hope to pay for what you have sent to me. It was through these publications that I was brought to know of the priceless prize, that it is even my privilege to run for. It found me a poor, overburdened, discouraged woman, although loving my Lord, still afraid to trust him. But I was looking and longing for His coming, and praying for light, and it came through your tract „Food for thinking Christians.” God sent it. I always receive these papers as from him. I have tried to interest others in them, but have found none in sympathy with me, not even my husband and children; and I have so longed for them to enjoy these things with me. But still I find even here a great joy; my Master was alone; did he not long for those he loved to understand and sympathize with him? I pray for my loved ones as he did for his. I am trying to sacrifice my life and all I have to Him, but find it a daily struggle to overcome. THE TOWER always sends me to my Bible, and, O what wonders, what comfort, what joy I find. I don’t get time to read anything else. Excuse me for writing so long a letter, but it tells so little. My love and prayers are with you. __________.
DEAR FRIENDS:—As a humble servant I am still trying to distribute and promote the truth, and am oftentimes refreshed by meeting from a very unexpected direction those who seem fully prepared to receive the good news. I had the pleasure of meeting some such the other evening and we were so much interested in the glorious subject, that we were surprised to find it near midnight when we finished. But I more often meet those who seem both deaf and blind to such blessed truths; this, formerly was very discouraging, but with increasing light and a more correct understanding of God’s plan, I can but sympathize with and pity them, and am often reminded of our Saviour’s prayer on the cross, for with their minds thus darkened they know not what they reject, or in so doing what they are losing. I have been thinking of forming a Bible Class, for searching the Scriptures in connection with the WATCH TOWER, as a help to the few who are willing to receive the light. It is a cheering thought to me, that I am entering my spiritual work, at about the same mature age as did my Saviour, and may I ever prove a vigilant and faithful servant is the continuous prayer of my heart.
Please send me anything you have on hand for distribution, as I think I see some new chances for doing good. You will find enclosed something for the Tract Fund—hope I can send more the next time. Yours in faith, __________.
DEAR SIR:—You will permit me, though a stranger, to say that I have received knowledge for both head and heart that years of searching had failed to accomplish, and so with the hope of seeing others freed from sectarian darkness, I, too, will be glad to be counted among those who are helping to distribute the meat in due season. I know whom I trust now, thanks be to God. The „Food”, came just when I had lost hold, because there was nothing to hold me in the churches—for I searched Baptist, Methodist, Free Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian denominations till I became satisfied that the Lord had something better for me to find: Then „Food” came—it seemed accidentally—but now I see it was providentially. Let me heartily thank you—or rather thank God for giving you the ability to open the way to the light. Great is the surrounding darkness and we are desirous to have others see their way clearly. If you can send us some reading matter, we can drop it into good soil. A dear old child of God left our house in great sorrow and perplexity of mind last Sunday evening. He has been a deacon in the Baptist church for thirty years. Said he, „O, I have studied these matters until I just find, that the more I give my mind to these things the less I know; and now I just know nothing and have made up my mind to let it go, for God will bring it out all right; and what can I do but wait God’s own good time. When we get over there, we will see face to face.” I endeavored to persuade him to expect the mystery to be explained. Said he: „O bring me anything. I want the best the Lord gives. I know God is love and I hate this „Hell doctrine!” The minister in a little church here, is in a quandary: he is a thinking man, only he is in the „iron bedstead.” Please send reading matter, if possible,—these two at least feel their need.
Yours in Christ, __________ and wife.
DEAR BROTHER IN JESUS:—Since writing you on the 26th ult. I have received „Food for Thinking Christians,” and I beg to say that I never in all my life read any book with the same relish. „Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” I have got such a blessing from it that it is like a new conversion to me. I cannot tell you, how it has filled my soul with rapture and thanksgiving to God. I am sure it will bless all who read it. It contains much I have not been in the habit of hearing or seeing, before, and still the same was in the Scriptures before me for my searching out, as you have done. There is a great depth of truth through the whole book, and it is written in a way that even those who have not studied their Bible much will be able to grasp the most of its precious teaching, and also, I trust, make them, as it has done with me, fall down on their knees and thank God. I wish you to send me the TOWER regularly. I am only a poor man in this world’s wealth, but I have faith in God. I cannot in my present circumstances, say how much I will be able to give towards the Lord’s work during the year, but you shall receive according as he prospers me: However, I enclose my small mite for the present. Trusting you will be enabled to still carry on the good work you are in, by our Heavenly Father moving the hearts of those who have plenty, to give of their abundance, also those who have less, to give in proportion. I see from your paper, and the book I have referred to, that I will be more able in the future to preach the Gospel than I have done in the past; and also to correct some things wherein I can now see plainly from Scripture that I was wrong in. But I taught according to the light I had.
Your brother in the Gospel, __________.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—”Food for Thinking Christians” received and read; it is now going the rounds of the village as a great curiosity. Some denounce it as the work of the devil, as did the Jews the miracles of Christ; others say its dangerous doctrine, it antagonizes their Church creeds; others rejoice that the „glad tidings of great joy” can be made so plain. To me I believe it a great blessing, for I now read the Bible ten times more than ever before; partly to see if these things are true, partly to see what more can be found with this new light; and because the more I know of God and his Word, the more I love him.
To say that I heartily thank you for this little book is but a feeble expression of my gratitude, and while I do not yet endorse all of your teachings, I am anxious to know what more you have to say in harmony with them, and take this opportunity to ask you to send me the „Tabernacle Pamphlet.”
May God assist you in reflecting the true light. Yours in the love and search of the truth, __________.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—Allow me to call you Bro. and thank you for your kindness in sending me a copy of „Food for Thinking Christians,” and two copies of the WATCH TOWER. Your favor is greatly appreciated. The pamphlet I have studied, and read to others, and talked the subject over with still others, with varying results. Some, with myself, value it highly as supplying a want long felt. It treats on subjects which I have long thought about, and desired to understand. It is more valuable to me than its weight in gold. A dear old mother in Israel, a confirmed invalid and not far from the river, with her son who is an Elder in our church and his wife and mine (five persons), delight to meet together to read it and converse about it. Another Elder and his wife say I have got hold of a dangerous doctrine; yet they are good people, but the Food is too strong for them. Others cannot understand its teachings at all, but cling to hell-fire and brimstone.
But oh, what a glorious subject it is to those who can appreciate it, and the more we study it the more interested we become. I have been talking with some of the brethren and I see that I can form a class of interested inquirers after the truth.
I have started a spirit of inquiry. Please send another copy of Food for Thinking Christians for the dear old mother before mentioned, she has my copy and can hardly allow it to leave her. We should dearly love to hear preaching on the subject. We belong to the Christian or Campbellite church, but at present are without preaching, our pastor having left for more profitable pastures.
Yours in Christ, __________.
— November, 1883 —