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VIEW FROM THE TOWER
We wish it distinctly understood that no arrow from this TOWER is aimed at the Lord’s children; neither at the weak, nor at the strong. God forbid that we should at all wrestle with flesh and blood—especially that we should fight against our own kindred, the family of God.
Our arrows, are aimed at errors not men; at systems, not individuals. We wrestle against princedoms and powers in exalted positions of influence (Eph. 6:12), chief over which is Satan.
We write thus because a letter from one of the readers recently, suggests the thought that our words have been somewhat misunderstood. This brother points us to the success, influence, charities, and missions as now witnesses of God’s favor to the various sects, and warns us against saying anything against God’s children therein.
To this we reply as above, that against God’s children we have said nothing, but against the errors which have divided them and which keep them divided into sects contrary to the word and Spirit of the Lord. We have said something and by the grace of God assisting, we will say more, and say on, until the last of God’s children shall be freed from her enchantments and bondage, and regain the liberty wherewith Christ hath made them free.
A casual glance, or even a steady gaze if from a worldly standpoint of view, would show the various daughters of the harlot as creatures of grace and beauty; would grasp only the outward marks of prosperity, and not notice the inward dearth of the true Spirit of Christ. Outwardly whited and garnished, inwardly full of pride and corruption.
We have already seen that the Jewish Church at the first advent is a likeness of the Gospel Church at the second advent. Then, the scribes and Pharisees represented „orthodoxy” so-called, as Jesus testified: „The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. (Matt. 23:2.) That was a time of great prosperity in the Jewish Church. Never before had it been more prosperous outwardly. The Temple was more grand than the one Solomon built; their charity was noted of the Lord; they gave a tenth of all their possessions, even to the smallest items of their harvest. (Matt. 23:23.) They gave much alms in a way to be seen of men; they prayed much and long and were not ashamed to do it publicly; they sent missionaries throughout all the civilized world, and had missions in all the principal cities of the earth. Jesus testified to this also, saying, „Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte”—convert. (Matt. 23:15.)
Had our Lord joined the Pharisees and been „orthodox” (?), we cannot doubt that his life would have been quite different from what it was. That path would have led to honor and praise of men, but not to Calvary, and the praise of God. To have done so, would have been hypocritical as he testifies that they were. He shows that their hypocrisy consisted in pretending to do for God’s glory what was really for their own honor among men. (Doubtless in some measure self-deceived while deceiving others). Is not this much the case with the nominally „orthodox” sects of to-day? That their donations and labors and sacrifices are more for their sect than for God’s Church, few will deny. Each sect worships, serves, honors and advances itself, hence it is hypocrisy of the worst form—an attempt to deceive God as well as men.
We honor the spirit of sacrifice wherever we find it, whether among Protestants, Roman Catholics, Mohammedans or Infidels; but when it is remembered that the hospitals, schools, churches, etc., are still retained as the exclusive properties of the sects, we wonder whether the name charity is applicable to a gift made to one’s self.
We are much pleased at the spirit which publishes Bibles by the million and scatters the surplus profits in cheap copies among the very poor, even though it is more zealous in printing than in believing or teaching its doctrines.
We are in close sympathy with the missionary spirit, but not with missionary effort as at present operated by the nominal church. Ours is in the fullest sense a missionary work. We admire the sacrifice, especially of early missionaries, who went abroad without guarantee of every comfort and luxury and of good salaries. We should esteem it a great privilege to co-operate with such now, if we knew of any who as they went preached the „GLAD TIDINGS of great joy, which shall be unto all people.” But we cannot countenance present missionary labor, for the same reason that our Master could not approve of that of the Pharisees. The poor heathen will be better off to hear nothing in this age and wait for the age to come to spread true knowledge of God, than to be confused and prejudiced against God by the usual misrepresentations of his character and plans.
Neither should numbers deceive us—”Two or three assembled in Christ’s name in a small room are as much a church as a cathedral with as many thousands, and they are more likely to have their table furnished with living bread. If numbers are an evidence of God’s blessing, then Jesus had not much success as a preacher. If numbers prove anything in this age when the prince of darkness reigns, it usually means his favor and smile, for error and errorists abound and predominate as shown in the October diagram. Think not of numbers, better is the communion of two or three saints, than the emptiness and formality of a gathering of the worldly minded.
We want to suggest that those who feel hurt at such a statement as this, are we fear closely related to some of the systems denounced; perhaps partakers of her sins and therefore sharers in her pain. The seven thousand in Israel in Elijah’s day, who had not bowed the knee to Baal, did not—could not feel hurt at the prophet’s words against Baal. Israelites indeed, in Jesus’ day did not or should not have been hurt by his sharp reproof of those blind leaders who were leading the blind people. It is as much the duty of the body of Christ now, to point out present hindrances to growth in grace and knowledge—the teaching and theories and mighty influences of the nominal church—as it was the duty of our head to point out
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that the Church in his day would neither enter, nor permit others to enter the kingdom. (Matt. 23:13.) The Lord help us each to see clearly the truth on this subject and to do his will fearlessly. But may we be preserved from any spirit of bitterness and malice so that „Speaking the truth in love, we may grow up into Him in all things which is the head—even Christ. (Eph. 4:15.)
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We subjoin extracts from some
Reed City, Mich.
DEAR SIR:—Last week ZION’S WATCH TOWER was sent to me, and I find it just the paper I want. Brought up in the strictest sect of United Presbyterians, I find this new message is like cold water to my thirsty soul, and I wish to learn more of the glad tidings. Enclosed find one dollar for one year’s subscription and for the rest send me as many copies of the October number as you can, I want to send them to my friends to whom it will prove glorious news.
I am studying my Bible with new interest and it is wonderful that I have been so blinded to God’s glorious promises all these years. I shall trust to clergymen no longer for I find them small help in time of need.
I am truly grateful to the unknown one who sent me your paper. It is just what I have gone mourning for, for years, not knowing God was preparing „deliverance to the captives.” May he bless you in the good work. __________.
DEAR BROTHER:—Your highly esteemed and welcome letter of the 8th inst. was received and read with much pleasure. It gave me so much strength that opposition and persecution seem but trifles. I have received and used the copies and samples of „Food” and „TOWERS” you sent me. My wife and I are working in a private way just now, deeming it better than public work under the present circumstances.
Only a few out of the many seem willing to receive any new light on revealed things, so thick is the veil of prejudice drawn over their mental vision. But as I suggested, there are some who are willing to read and compare spiritual things with spiritual.
I lend the papers rather than give them, and to such as seem to be sincere, those consecrated ones of the household of faith. The papers and books are falling into the hands of even the unregenerated and by them are highly commended. It seems strange to me that such marvelous light should spring up in this our day, presenting truths that I had never dreamed of before. Because they are so startling is one reason why people do not receive them.
May the Lord of heaven bless you in the glorious work. We will help all we can directly and indirectly. We herewith send enclosed four names with subscriptions for the TOWER. You shall hear from us and our work as often as we have anything special to write.
Yours fraternally, __________.
New Haven, Conn.
DEAR SIR:—I see by looking over my papers that my subscription has nearly expired, so I hasten to renew it. I do not want to be without it. I watch for it eagerly and enjoy it. I had never heard much of this subject until about a year ago, but as soon as your book, „Food for Thinking Christians” fell into my hands I knew it was just what I wanted. It seemed to me that I only needed to tell my friends who believed, to have them rejoice with me. But I have been chilled and disappointed. A few have seemed to have some light but some of my friends think I am going to extremes.
I have wanted to write and let you know what a comfort your books and papers have been to me, but hesitated knowing that you received so many letters. But during the years I have been trying to serve Christ, I have been led in such a way that it seemed impossible for me to open my heart to any one about me, and for years I struggled through a thick darkness of doubts and fears. I wanted to serve God and to please him, but he seemed so far off. Then I heard the Advent Doctrine, and then came the first ray of light, but for many years after that the light was very dim, but still the Lord led me, and my heart cried out for him constantly, until finally about five years ago he gave me rest. Then I said: „Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Since that time I have not once doubted him. Every day I have grown nearer to him, until to-day I can look back over my life and thank God for every step of the way he has led me.
The past year has been the richest, most blessed year of my life, although it has been a time of sharp trial. I think it has taken all the faith I had to enable me to endure, but I feel stronger than ever, and I thank God that the light is shining so clearly now; and I thank him that it is shining on me.
I hope I have not written too long a letter, but my heart is full and I longed to open it. __________.
MY BROTHER:—Twice you have responded and sent me of your literature, which I have read; at first with some fears of becoming entangled, but now with a confidence of being led in the right direction: and having a craving desire to study with you God’s Word, I
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subscribe for the ZION’S WATCH TOWER one year.
Your reading matter has made my Bible many times clearer and dearer, even in a short time, and I thank God for seeing even through a glass darkly.
Very Truly yours, __________.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The late number of ZION’S WATCH TOWER containing the Diagram illustrating the population of the earth, in the religious divisions, I saw first in a paper from Mr. Guinness, of Harley House, London, where young men are trained for the mission field. It is one of the most striking evidences of the failure of human power with all its enlightenment, to convert the world, and to increase the desire and prayer of the believer in Jesus, that he may „come quickly” to „make all things new.” The signs of the times are ominous that a great crisis is not remote. The persecution of the Jews in Europe seems like an evidence of the truth taught by the Saviour in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. „Dead” and „buried” as a nation, they are suffering now, more than ordinary, the „torments” predicted by the Saviour.
In a late letter received from England, I see that the Society of which Earl Shaftesbury is President—the „Syrian Colonization Fund,” designed to aid the Jews desiring to settle in Palestine to escape the cruelty of their persecutors, has met with difficulties, arising from political causes. A number of Jews intending to settle in Palestine or Syria were not allowed by the Turkish government to enter the promised land, but obtained permission from the British government to settle in the island Cyprus. In the letter, to which I allude, the writer says: „Our Jewish colonists find that the land which the governments has granted is of excellent quality and in a healthy situation. They are clearing the ground and digging their wells; also doing needful work in road making. We have not yet raised enough to establish them, but the funds are coming in, and we are encouraged to hope that the effort will prove successful. As to Syria and Palestine the case stands thus: Until lately the Sultan and his government were friendly to Jews, and would have encouraged their settlement in Syria, but political intrigues on the part of foreigners has been exerted. The Sultan has been led to think that England is endeavoring to get hold of Syria by means of the Jews; and thus, at the beginning of this year, the Turkish authorities discouraged Jewish immigration or settlement. Jewish pilgrims coming to die in Jerusalem were allowed to land. But then even these were for a while prohibited. This state of things can scarcely last. There are numbers of Jews in the Holy Land, and the most of them are in extreme poverty,” (as Lazarus had been in the parable.) To these relief is being sent according to the means that are received.
The foregoing information cannot fail to be of interest to believers: The Diagram of the six classes of religionists in the world which appeared in the last number of the WATCH TOWER, is one of the best means of exhibiting the hopelessness of the world’s conversion to God, [by human agency] when up to the latter part of the 19th century only 116 millions of nominal Protestants stand up out of the 1424 millions of the population.
I am desirous to use the Diagram to awaken interest in the coming of the Lord among professing Christians. In Toronto the ministers of religion generally stand opposed to this doctrine. In „McMaster Hall,” the theological hall of the Baptists, not one of the Faculty believed in the Lord’s coming to reign upon the earth. This was evolved by a student who believed the doctrine, at a meeting specially called to consider it.
May the Lord greatly bless your labor of love.
I am Yours fraternally, __________.
Tangerine, Orange Co., Fla.
MY DEAR BROTHER IN CHRIST:—Nearly a year ago I happened upon a copy of ZION’S WATCH TOWER. How it came to be in this out-of-the-way place I know not, but I saw in it light on many things on which I had pondered much and had inquired much about, among the leaders of all sects, without being satisfied. Many of those things I wished to know more about. I was poor and afflicted and I was and am hard pushed to feed my family; but seeing your offer to send it to any of the Lord’s poor who would write for it, I wrote and requested it, hoping to be able some day to pay for it. I have since passed through much sickness and write this upon a bed of sickness. Whether I will now be restored to health or not I cannot tell, but God knoweth best what is good for me. I know I am unworthy of the least of His favors and whether He decrees that I shall or shall not live to receive more of the light that he is bestowing upon His children I can but say, His will be done. And how I wish I could be assured in this dark day of all others, while I lie here and watch the dark clouds that reach from the ocean to the gulf, and while time passeth so heavily, that I have an interest in your prayers. I feel it would do my soul good to know or learn personally that those who have caused me so much comfort in affliction had indeed made an afflicted and unknown brother a special subject of prayer. I have written now more than I thought to write, but not the half of what I could write if my strength permitted. Would I be intruding upon your kindness to ask of you to send me a few more copies of the October number of the TOWER? Will you please continue to send it to me? Perhaps it will not be long till I can do something for the cause, and if so, I will, surely.
Yours in deep affliction, __________.
DEAR BRO:—I herewith enclose my subscription for the dear Watch Tower. I cannot tell you how I appreciate its monthly visits with its deep living truth from God’s word. How it warms and cheers the heart and strengthens and encourages us in our pilgrimage, unfolding God’s plan of salvation and the presence of Jesus. I feel thankful to my Heavenly Father for the privilege of feasting on these glorious truths for it is by his favor that I am what I am. May our Father’s richest blessings rest on all those loved ones who are feeding the household of faith.
I know your time is limited and therefore I do not expect you to correspond, but I never forget you at the throne of grace, and may the blessing of the Lord rest on you all, is the sincere prayer of your sister in Christ. __________.
— December, 1883 —