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ANOTHER “CHOSEN VESSEL”
The following letter will, we know, be read with deep interest by you all. What do you think of it? What shall be done?—EDITOR.
New York, August 23, 1886.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL: Truly the entrance of his Word giveth light! Your book, “Millennial Dawn,” has been used by God to so illumine his divine revelation that the glorious view seems to have left me like one in a trance. Trained, as I have been, in the most rigidly Calvinistic school of thought, my whole self naturally and quickly assumed the defensive as I caught the spirit of the book in its opening pages. But God had beyond all doubt, been preparing my mind and heart for the childlike reception of his truth. And laying aside all prejudice, preconceived notions, and “traditions of the elders,” I closeted myself for the greater part of three days with my Bible and “Dawn” and earnestly seeking, in prayer, the guidance of God’s Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth, I feasted upon the fat things and drank in the precious truth until I could almost say with Paul, “Whether in the body I cannot tell; or whether out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth.”
I have long since become dissatisfied and disheartened concerning the clash and din of jarring discord among opposing creeds and rival sects composing the heterogeneous “mass of baptized profession”—each division, large or small, wresting the Scriptures to conform to its own particular phase of belief, causing the Word to appear so distorted that its divine Author would fail to recognize his own production.
But, blessed be God, the Scriptures in reality, cannot be broken, and however men may seem to pervert them to support their peculiar views, they remain unchanged and unchangeable—the Rock of Eternal truth! I praise God that he has made you instrumental in opening my eyes to behold the beautiful symmetry which the Word exhibits in the marvelous combination of its manifold and multiform parts, and in unstopping my ears to hear the delightful harmony which its many and varied notes produce when taken in their entirety.
I have, some time since, presented my body a living sacrifice unto God, and have been indeed a partaker of Christ’s sufferings.
I came here nearly a year since a young Presbyterian clergyman, longing to reach with the gospel message the tens and hundreds of thousands of people who are not reached by “the churches.” I came not knowing where my support was to come from, but was soon engaged to take charge of a “Mission.”
Having failed during the fall and winter to bring the “neglected classes” within the Mission building to hear the gospel, I began in May a more aggressive method, as indicated by the enclosed clipping. And for thus breaking away from the customary methods which had proved futile, and going out “into the streets and lanes of the cities,” I immediately lost caste with the Church and my ministerial brethren. The controllers of the Mission requested my withdrawal, and the committee from a large Presbyterian church in this city, who had engaged me to preach for them during this summer, waited upon me and requested me to release them from the agreement. They wanted not a man in their pulpit who had so little regard for his clerical dignity. Since which time I have been proclaiming what I believed to be the truth by preaching in the open air, and by the distribution of tracts and other religious literature, and by posting up bold-type Scripture texts on fences, telegraph poles, etc., through the city. I have received nothing in the way of support except what God has sent me in unexpected ways—enough to supply the “bread and water” for self and little family.
Now that I have received the truth as God has permitted you to present it to me, I long to proclaim it, and to give my whole time and attention to the work of spreading it abroad. Can you suggest ways and means? I am prepared to, and expect at the next opportunity to withdraw from all “ecclesiastical” connections.
The God of all grace bless you in your work and labor of love. Yours in glorious hope in Christ, __________.
— September, 1886 —