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BROTHER HICKEY’S ANNIVERSARY
Saratoga Co., N.Y., Aug. 23d, 1887,
MY DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—Grace unto you, and peace be multiplied! Surely, I have great joy and consolation in thy love, being refreshed by thee.
The August TOWER is a very precious and grateful supply of the satisfying food God so graciously permits you to dispense to the household of faith. Thank you for the very kind personal allusions. I know you meant all in love (including letter, though its publication was embarrassing). The articles from your pen are verily „meat in due season.” And I am greatly rejoiced to learn that the number of harvesters is increasing; that their enthusiasm is so great; that the seal of divine approbation is so evidently set upon their efforts; and that each zealous worker seems to realize it, in his or her inner consciousness.
In my own case, I am frank in confessing that I believe that the prime object my Heavenly Father had in view in the severity of his dealings with me during the three months (just past) of physical suffering, was to bring me to see what is now manifestly my plain duty.
That is, to devote all the strength God gives me to the work of carrying to others and to as many as possible, that same blessed instrumentality which served to dispel the darkness from my own pathway, and to carry me forward and upward to such sublime heights of vantage ground, as to make me spurn forever anything and everything that is of the earth earthy; and to so fill and sway and agitate my throbbing heart as to all but burst, it in the sudden and mighty inflow of the knowledge of the glory of the Lord; and to plunge me into such fathomless depths of the boundless ocean of God’s love as to cause me to struggle and gasp, and—in my supreme joy, to wonder what possibilities there must be—can be, when we see face to face. God, I say, has been teaching me by exceedingly severe dealings that my bounden duty is „go and do likewise!” I can see very plainly now as I look back at the various stages of my sickness, how that God, in love permitted a severe and sudden attack when I thought I was gaining and began to plan for „my way.” That happened so often, that at last my dull comprehension has been sharpened and I have answered my Master with a „Yea, Lord, thy servant heareth!”
And now my health improves every day and my strength increases, and instead of being called hence, as I delusively imagined I was to be, I was only being vigorously shaken up, to a realizing sense of what I ought, long ago, to have seen to be my very plain and bounden duty. Now it might be of some use to print some of this letter. For it might serve to arouse some other of the sickly ones to vigorous action in dispensing to others that which has blessed them beyond all power of expression. I came here two weeks ago last night, „a physical wreck;” the next day I dragged myself out in the heat and began to work. The result is, I have gained steadily with the thermometer „among the nineties,” and can now work about six hours a day without very great fatigue.
Of course I have not done as well in point of numbers of DAWNS sold as some of the beloved brethren, (chief among them Bro. Adamson) whose letters in TOWER cheer and enthuse us. One reason probably is, it isn’t in me, and another is, that there could probably be no less favorable spot chosen than this wicked, brilliant, flashing Summer resort. Still, I can sell from 10 to 15 daily notwithstanding all disadvantages of my still weak condition and the character of place and people. And I expect to reach yet many more per day elsewhere and in cooler weather. „Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the WORK of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
It is just one year this day since I wrote you of the great and unspeakable blessing God had so graciously sent me through that marvelous production, „MILLENNIAL DAWN: The Plan of the Ages.” Its effect upon me after careful and prayerful study, and testing by the Standard of God’s Word, was instantaneously revolutionary.
I know of no other instance of a conversion so sudden and complete, from gross error honestly embraced and its conclusions sincerely acted upon, to the joyous reception of the truth and hearty conformity to its requirements as far as light was given, excepting that of Saul on his way to Damascus. Though I doubt not there have been many other like turnings.
I withdrew from the body of the Presbyterian Clergy at the earliest opportunity, henceforth to know no name but Christ. Numerous predictions were made concerning me by friends, relatives, and former clerical associates. One was to the effect that I would soon go into infidelity; another, that I would lose my reason; another, that I would return to the fold of Orthodoxy and Calvinism. As to the first, Infidelity (unbelief), I am deeply sensible that my trust, my confidence, my faith in God and the precious truths of his Word, has grown and strengthened constantly. And this is not surprising, for it is in the very nature of things that increased knowledge of God and his Divine Revelation should inevitably bring increased belief. As to the mental status, my honest conviction is that the subject is much further removed from the condition of lunacy then when he was literally
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crushed under the „burden of souls” doomed to „eternal torment.”
As to the last named prediction; am I a dog, that I should return to my vomit, or a sow, that I should return to my wallowing in the mire? Shall I return to the musty husks and polluted waters of former things, after revelling in broad fields of tender grass and drinking from crystal streams of living waters? Sooner would the eagle cleaving the blue expanse, return to the iron-barred cage of its former captivity. Surely the truth hath made me free!
The conviction that the best and only way to keep the blessing, and to increasingly realize its preciousness, is to give it out freely to others, deepens and strengthens daily. Accordingly I shall devote all the time, talents and energy God gives to proclaiming the „Glad Tidings” to as many others as I may be able to reach, and that through the same instrumentality by which I was reached: „MILLENNIAL DAWN—The Plan of the Ages,” while this is so manifestly the work to be done.
I enclose a cheering letter from my Brooklyn Physician.
Affectionately and gratefully Your brother in Christ, S. I. HICKEY.
We give some extracts from the letter mentioned above:—
MY DEAR BRO. HICKEY:—Someway, in thinking about you, after I realized that you had gone and that I might not see you again face to face, I felt the truth of that old adage about „blessings brightening as they take their flight.” I felt that I had suffered a dear friend to go away without talking to and with him about what was nearest his and my heart, those things for which you have suffered much reproach and contumely.
I had refused to listen to you, or had changed the subject whenever you had approached it, and my heart smote me. Thinking of this, I grieved a little over it, and in my grief I took up M. DAWN to learn more about it. I confess to you that I had not read the book through, I think I read the first three chapters, and then threw it aside. There were many good things in it which I could heartily accept even then—but the conclusions were what strangled me. I had heard the conclusions from you, but not the full course of reasoning and Scripture proof; and that reminds me of an error too often made: that of stating conclusions first, and so awakening such antagonism, that no subsequent argument will be effective. For instance, to state that „there is no hell,” or „there is probation after death,” etc. With most people you may as well stop right there. I speak of it because at first you approached the subject in that way, though I doubt not you have learned better by this time. Now, as I have said, I have read „MILLENNIAL DAWN”—have just finished it, and I can truly say, I regard it as a wonderful book, and as throwing a flood of light on the Word. It harmonizes in a remarkable manner, things which were before all confusion and discord. It plainly shows a plan, and moreover, a plan which on the whole is reasonable. I believe, too, that, on the whole, it is Scriptural. Certainly there is great good in it.
My appetite is whetted by the taste, and I want more, more time to study and compare Scripture and think and pray over it. I must look at it from all sides.
So you see your going away has worked some good where you least expected it.
Yours truly S. C__________.
— September, 1887 —