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IN THE VINEYARD
To strengthen and encourage the lonely and isolated ones, we want to give a brief account of how the work in general is progressing. It is our common work and common interest. Many of you are apt to think that our glorious glad tidings are preached and known only by an occasional one, just as Elijah thought when he said: “I only am left alive and they seek my life”; but what saith the Word of the Lord to him? “I have left me seven thousand in Israel … which have not bowed the knee to Baal.” (1 Kings 19:18.) Even so now also there are more than two or three who worship Jehovah and His Christ only, and are controlled only by His Word; and now there doubtless are 7,000 or more who neither worship the Papal “Beast” nor the Protestant “Image.” (Rev. 13.)
THE TRACT WORK,
you will remember, was begun in a small way some time since, and afterward the “ZION’S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY” organized. First, we proposed to publish a quantity of the 32-page tracts, but soon concluded to make one large tract or pamphlet of 164 pages, which would give a general idea and outline of what we see to be God’s glorious plan, and gave it the title:
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“FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS: WHY EVIL WAS PERMITTED, AND KINDRED TOPICS”
We thought to publish 300,000 copies of this pamphlet, and so far as possible to put them in the hands of thinking Christians everywhere. But we soon saw that, though very large, the quantity would not be sufficient, and it was increased to 500,000 copies. These were printed in various cities of Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. These have nearly all been distributed in the medium and larger cities, and at the principal camp meetings, Brothers Adamson, Keith, Keim, McGranor and others, being still engaged in the work of distribution. Only about 65,000 yet remain.
But the way seemed to open yet wider, and Bros. Sunderlin and Bender were sent to Great Britain to publish the same pamphlet; three hundred thousand copies were published, and before you read this will probably be in the hands of the churchgoers of the principal cities there.
In the meantime another avenue of spreading the truth opened up. The manager of the principal paper of New York City agreed to send a copy of the tract to their entire list of subscribers, and several other papers of Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and New York favored us similarly in the work, for which they have our sincere thanks. [We omit the names of the papers only to save them inconvenience from applications from others. They say they have never before granted such privileges to any.]
For this work we had the same matter that was in the tract put into newspaper shape, and as such it constituted the September number of the WATCH TOWER—thus, doubtless, you have all read the tract. So to those who may have wondered why the increased size, change of form, &c., of your last paper, this will explain.
As we were reaching Christians in the cities with the pamphlets, we sent the papers only with weekly and monthly journals, and hope thus to have reached many Christians in country districts. We sent out in this way over 400,000 copies. Thus you see that from an apparently small beginning, the tract work has spread to the immense proportions of 1,200,000 copies, or about 200,000,000 pages in four months, or about eight times as much (in number) as were distributed by the American Tract Society in the last year. The work has employed hundreds of men, women and boys in preparation and distribution, nearly 500 boys being employed to distribute in London, and about 300 in New York—other cities in proportion. The distribution was made in the larger cities at the church doors on Sundays.
The work we believe to be the Lord’s, and that its results will be far-reaching we cannot doubt. Letters come pouring in from every quarter—many of them are very rich and sweet, and indicate that the same heavenly manna which has been so refreshing and strengthening to us, has the same rich flavor to many others when they taste of it. Some are from scattered ones who have been digging in the Word, and were reaching after these things. Some from parties who say they had been drifting into, or were quite in, Infidelity, because never had they been able to see anything reasonable, harmonious or worthy of a God of Love in the teachings of the Bible, as interpreted by the creeds of the various sects. Nearly all ask for more for their friends. A few, even, come from “class leaders” and pastors, asking them for their people, but very few; we have no reason to expect many from “those that give suck”; alas! they feel that they are “rich and increased in goods, and have need of nothing,” and are too busy giving the “milk of the Word” to have any time either to eat stronger meat or provide it for others.
The work has been so much greater than we had anticipated, and seemingly was impelled by an unseen hand and at such a special time, too, that we cannot doubt that it is all of the Lord, and it is probably designed as a ripener to some grains of “wheat,” to prepare them as a part of the “first fruits” of the wheat or spiritual harvest—members of the Bride of Christ; and also, one of the many instruments to be used in the overthrow of “Babylon” and the deliverance of God’s children within her. But while an unseen hand seemed to impel the onward progress of the work, another unseen hand seemed at work seeking to thwart our purposes, but “if God be for us, who can be against us?” In his strength one could chase a thousand opposers, and two put ten thousand to flight.
We shall endeavor monthly to keep you informed as to the general outlook over the field, as seen from ZION’S WATCH TOWER, and shall be glad of information from any of our readers. We are expecting great things in the near future. If our position be correct, we may expect “Zion’s travail” to commence at once. [Keep in memory the distinction between real and nominal Zion, the word Zion being used instead of the word Church—so we speak of the real and the nominal Church—or nominal Zion being now termed, in Scripture, “Babylon.” The true Zion, the first-born, the heir, the Christ, has been delivered.
Brother Adamson is now in Illinois and Iowa distributing pamphlets from city to city, and preaching as he goes. An extract from a letter in another column, shows that he is enjoying the work. The Lord give him grace for every time of need—though showing him how great things he must suffer for the truth’s sake.
Brother Keith has been similarly engaged in central Pennsylvania and New York, and has had good success, and still continues. The Lord feed him abundantly with truth, that he may go from strength to strength—mighty in the Scriptures.
Brother Jones also gave valuable assistance in the tract distribution. He has now removed to New York City, and is doubtless preparing something valuable for the readers of the first number of his new paper, elsewhere referred to. The Lord lead him to his praise.
Brother Paton has been laboring recently in Detroit and in the neighborhood of his home, Almont, Mich. He is, we suppose, busily engaged writing for Bro. Jones’ new paper, to which, we believe, he will be an occasional contributor. He is busy also collecting names for the new paper. The Lord hold him in his powerful hand and overrule all things for His good.
Brother McGranor is distributing tracts, and as he goes preaching in Ohio and western Pennsylvania. The Lord has been blessing him greatly. The Lord enrich him and honor him by use in His service.
Brother Keim is attending to the tract work and preaching in New Jersey and Delaware. The Lord bless him and fill his mouth with the sweet things of His Word.
Brother Sunderlin is being tried in patience; for while he delights in the work and is anxious to be constantly in it, he is on a sick-bed. He was attacked with rheumatic fever and obliged to return home from the tract work in Great Britain just as he had the pamphlets ready for distribution. The Lord comfort and sustain and smile upon him in his affliction, and in His own good time restore him to us and the work.
Brother Bender is still in England busy with the tract distribution. We make a few extracts, in another column, from a letter recently received, written before the general distribution had taken place, which may interest you. The Lord guide him with wisdom, and while blessing others may he have an abundant blessing.
Others might be mentioned, but we refer only to those who are connected with the work in a very prominent way. Time and space would fail us to refer to those who in towns, villages and cities are engaged in helping the twos, threes, twelves and fifties to the food so richly provided in His Word by our Lord. Some, in a still more private way, are using their every talent in setting forth God’s great unfolding plan of Love—calling attention to his provision of a “Narrow way to life” for a few and promised “Restitution” to human perfection for the many. The work of these may not be heralded or known on earth, but it is all recorded in the “Book of Remembrance.” Their faithful performance of their consecration vows of self-denial and self-crucifixion is well known to the Lord, and will be rewarded exceedingly abundantly more than we can ask or think—when the Bridegroom shall say: “Thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into (share) the joys of thy Lord.” Among this last class are many noble women, who are unobtrusively exerting their quiet influence unknown to the many, yet owned and loved of God. Oh! the jewels, the jewels! how brightly they shine, lighted up by the light of the Lord’s face shining upon them and changing them daily from glory and beauty of resemblance to the head, to yet more glory and beauty until, the work done, and the Bride made ready, they shall be made like unto Christ’s glorious spiritual body—
“How beautiful are the feet of Him.”
We believe that every member of this body of Christ is engaged in the blessed work, either directly or indirectly, of giving meat in due season to the household of faith. “Who then is that faithful and wise servant whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household,” to give them meat in due season? Is it not that “little flock” of consecrated servants who are faithfully carrying out their consecration vows—the body of Christ—and is not the whole body individually and collectively, giving the meat in due season to the household of faith—the great company of believers?
Blessed is that servant (the whole body of Christ) whom his Lord when he has come (Gr. elthon) shall find so doing. “Verily, I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods.” “He shall inherit all things.”
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The “evil servant” who says: My Lord delayeth his coming, and forgetting his consecration vows, begins to eat and drink with the drunken (partake of the spirit of the world) shall have no part with the faithful overcomer. (Matt. 24:46-50.)
In conclusion, let each remember that the work is the Lord’s; that our Captain’s eye is upon each of us, and that his wisdom has appointed to each a place in his vineyard, however prominent or obscure (1 Cor. 12:18); and with this thought let us study to show ourselves approved workmen that need not to be ashamed.
Let us be careful in sounding the trumpet, remembering that others will be preparing to “sing” in harmony. See “The Temple Type.” Our every expression should be with care, and all our influence on the side of truth, so the trumpet shall give a clear sound.
— October And November, 1881 —