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SOME INTERESTING LETTERS
FROM THE SALVATION ARMY
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
I have often wanted to tell you something of what the knowledge of Present Truth has meant to me, but I find it very difficult to put it into words.
From my earliest recollections I have been “feeling after God,” lending an eager ear to any who seemed to know something of him and his ways, and who sought to conform their lives in accordance with their belief. When but twelve years of age I was “confirmed” in the Church of England. I looked forward to that ceremony with happy anticipations, thinking that it would surely work a great change in me for the better. My disappointment was bitter when the expected “change” did not take place, but resulted in the decision, for the time, that such things were not for me; that I must be more depraved than the rest of humanity, and that, therefore, it was of no use for me to try to “be good.”
A few years later I was “converted” in a Methodist Church revival, and a year later joined the Salvation Army. My reason for becoming a Salvationist was that they were the most earnest Christians I had ever met, and, too, I had a great desire to work for the Lord in return for his wonderful goodness to me. For sixteen years I remained in the Army, fourteen years as an officer, devoting all my time to the work. The last seven of those years were spent in New York City, where I was working in the Editorial Department at National Headquarters. For six years I was Assistant Editor of The War Cry and Editor of the children’s paper known as The Young Soldier. This brought me into close touch with the young people, of whom I became very fond, and among whom I was known as “Cousin Sunshine,” they writing many letters to me under that nom de plume, which letters were printed in The Young Soldier, together with one from myself addressed to the young people.
But while I enjoyed my work my heart was not satisfied on doctrinal points. My Bible told me that God was love; the creeds of the Salvation Army and other sects depicted him as a fiend, torturing millions of human beings eternally, while I would not torture a kitten for one moment. Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me,” yet I saw that not only were all men not drawn to him, but that very few of them were, and fewer still were consecrated footstep followers of the Lord. Surely he desired that all men should be drawn to him, but since they were not, the only logical conclusion must be that Satan was the stronger, and that God was not the Almighty God the Bible proclaimed him to be. The creeds could not help me in this matter, for they explicitly declared that the majority of the race would not be drawn to the Lord Jesus and be saved, and some even went so far as to say that God had never intended that all men should be so “drawn.”
These and other questions caused me great distress of mind and heart, and I prayed earnestly that God would send me the key that would unlock the Scriptures and smooth out the seeming contradictions in his Word and show me what was Truth. You can understand, then, dear Pastor, with what great joy I examined, with my Bible, “The Divine Plan of the Ages,” the “Hell” pamphlet, and others, as put into my hands by a dear Brother whom the Lord used as his messenger. I knew it was the Truth; it stamped itself so by the very
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Word of God. And oh, how I thanked him that at last I had the key that unlocked the wonderful treasures in his Word. In a few months I had left the Salvation Army. Few among its members, even my close friends, understand my position, but grieve over me as one who has been deceived by a “strong delusion.” I rejoice that the light will so soon come to them. Many of the young people do not know what has become of me, but in answer to their earnest inquiries have merely been told that “Cousin Sunshine is no more.” I am sorry to have grieved their young hearts, but must leave that, too, with the Lord.
My testimony up-to-date is that the Lord and his Truth are more precious to me than ever, and the pathway truly “shineth more and more.” The Vow, the Covenants, etc., have been wonderful sources of strength and joy to me, and I praise him more and more for having granted me the great privilege of understanding as much as I do of the wondrous things that are written in his Word—”written for our admonition.” (I Cor. 10:11; 2 Tim. 3:16,17.) Truly “He hath brought me into a large place,” and my heart rejoices daily in his goodness to even me.
Pray for me, dear Pastor, that I may be faithful, and that even I may be “counted worthy to stand before the Son of Man.”—Luke 21:36.
I remember you daily in my prayers, praising God for your faithfulness to the present time, and praying that you may so continue to the end of the way.
Your sister in the hope of immortality,
MRS. A. I. RITCHIE.
(Formerly Staff-Captain Nina Maitland.)
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
About a year ago a paper, issued not far from my home, began publication of your sermons. Of course, I was delighted that so many of my neighbors and friends would thus be brought within touch of the Truth, which I so dearly love. Recently the sermon feature was discontinued. Then I bethought me that I had not specially encouraged the publishers, nor told them of my deep interest in the matter. I supposed, however, that others had been more faithful than myself in this respect. I concluded that, although late, I would endeavor to retrieve my opportunity. I wrote to the publisher on the subject and felt vexed with myself and others that it was possible for the publisher to write to me as follows:—
“I do not know how many of our readers care for the sermons, but no one has complained of their discontinuance so far but you. This leads us to believe that they were not very popular with our readers. We never heard from anybody who did take pains to say that he cared for them.”
I trust that this will be a lesson to me that I should not only pray for God’s blessing upon the work, but also be on the alert to do my part to help forward his glorious message—however others may care to do their parts. With Christian regards,
Your brother and servant in the Lord, __________.
We sympathize with this case. There are others just like it, and probably will be more. Brethren and sisters, particularly those possessed of the talents of penmanship and of good expression, have a glorious opportunity for serving the Truth, which many of them, we fear, do not properly appreciate until after it has passed them by. It is apt to be thus with all of God’s blessings.
Incidentally, let us remark that some dear friends send us newspaper subscriptions for friends and neighbors, without inquiring of them whether or not the gift of the paper would be acceptable. This is a serious mistake. The intended kindness becomes an injury if the favored one writes to the newspaper refusing it and declaring that he never ordered it. We have sent papers to some of the Lord’s poor at the Society’s expense—newspapers never do this, and thanks to them is wholly improper.
We would not reflect upon all of the dear friends. Some are very thoughtful and are continually, every month or so, noting to the publishers some appreciated features of certain sermons and expressing their gladness that the Gospel is reaching the many who rarely attend Church services. We might remark, however, that dear friends who are poor writers and very ungrammatical would serve the Truth better by not writing much. It is the work of the gifted, who can serve the Truth best along the lines of encouraging newspaper publishers, to do so. If they neglect the opportunity they will surely regret the matter sometime. Large weekly newspapers do not need special encouragement in the way of subscriptions: it is your nearby daily or smaller weekly that needs your subscriptions and those of your friends.
I have seen the first number of your periodical (P.P. Spanish), and have pondered the contents in my heart. Glory be to God! In my position as preacher of the Gospel (30 years), I have not encountered such brilliant truths as I now see in the four pages of your blessed little paper. My mind, stupefied by human theories, has hindered perfect reasoning on the plan of God. Now all I see is clear, logical and true.
The article, “Where Are the Dead?” was for me a celestial light which let me see a glorious eternity. I am conducting amongst this people a Mexican Mission, attended by thirty to forty individuals; we keep no accurate account. I preach the Gospel to them and their characters have been modified so that they are now good men. Although I am an ordained minister of the Baptist Church, I do not work in connection with them nor with any denomination. Last Sunday I preached a sermon on the theme of “Where Are the Dead?” and the congregation received this new light with great joy.
I have here a good friend, a Mr. John R__________, with whom I conversed on this subject, and he told me more particularly about these things, so new to me, and which have helped us here so much. Glory be forever to the blessed God and Father of our Lord Jesus!
From your brother in the faith,
C. TEZEDA Y VALDIVIA.
(Translated from the Spanish.)
DEAR BRETHREN IN CHRIST JESUS:—
I advise you that I have received a copy of the PEOPLES PULPIT (Italian), which treats on the subject of “Where Are the Dead?” and I read the same with pleasure. I desire that you do me the kindness of sending me other discourses along Scripture lines, because I aspire to be a helper in the Lord’s work in the Italian field.
Your brother in Christ, DEN ANTANACCI.
(Translated from the Italian.)
“SOW BESIDE ALL WATERS!”
EDITOR OF PEOPLES PULPIT:—
Through a friend there has come to my hands a copy of your PEOPLES PULPIT, which has interested me exceedingly to the very end, for I see that you invite inquirers to send for additional literature. I hope I may be favored with some—”The Thieves in Paradise,” “The Rich Man in Hell” and “Lazarus in Abraham’s Bosom.” I also wish to know more fully about the book entitled “THE PLAN OF THE AGES.” Anticipating the kindness, I am,
Yours very truly, MANUEL R. LANUZA.
(Translated from the Spanish.) Philippine Islands.
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“FORSAKE NOT THE ASSEMBLING”
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—
In my pilgrimage, especially of late, I find numerous Truth friends unmindful of Paul’s admonition, “Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is, and the more so as ye see the day approaching” (or drawing on). And to my query, “Why not have a meeting of the friends regularly, as do the Truth friends in other places?” I am almost invariably given the excuse, not a real or valid reason, “there is so much prejudice in this community,” or, “our people are scattered,” or “there are so few of us here,” etc.
The dear friends do not realize that all this is true of every locality, and in view of all the circumstances the conditions could not well be otherwise. In several places I have brought the friends to a realization of the necessity of meeting regularly for testimony and Berean Bible study, irrespective of all seemingly adverse conditions or unfavorable circumstances. I find much more Christian warmth and fellowship amongst those who do assemble regularly than amongst those who neglect to avail themselves of this blessed privilege. If there were no other incentive for meeting than this, it should be sufficient for Truth friends everywhere to assemble themselves, even though there be but three or four who could regularly come together.
The great Apostle surely gave wise counsel when he unconditionally admonished us to assemble ourselves, as others are doing, irrespective of convenience or inconvenience to ourselves. We owe to others spiritual refreshment and Christian fellowship, and we need the polishing derivable only by coming in contact with one another.
Some of the Truth people deplore their inability to serve the Lord, as well as their lack of opportunity for so doing. Bless their hearts, here is just the very best kind of a chance to serve the Master. Their attendance at a meeting is in itself a testimony of love and faith in God and his saints.
Where the Friends meet regularly, too, the class is growing in numbers as well as in spirituality, I find.
It seems to me that a TOWER article right along this line would be timely and helpful. I wonder if the other pilgrims have a similar experience? There is much to be said in favor of regular services amongst the brethren and not one thing I can think of that would be a valid argument to the contrary. There is no good reason for not having meetings regularly anywhere that I have ever been.
Your brother in Christ, J. A. BOHNET.
— October 15, 1910 —
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