Observation and experience enable us to offer the following suggestions which, we trust, will be serviceable to all who are endeavoring to spread the truth, which should be with all the consecrated the main object of life.
MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. I.—The Plan of the Ages—is the ablest Bible teacher and preacher that we know of, and one that can visit every city, town, and farm house and preach incessantly without exhaustion, without expense for food and clothing or need of rest. Hence all who love the glad tidings and desire to spread it should welcome this preacher, seek to open the way before it, and to introduce it to honest hearts and heads everywhere. Or, to state the matter in another way, this book provides the means by which every child of God, no matter what his natural ability as teacher or preacher is, may become an able minister of the glorious gospel.
Though "FOOD FOR THINKING CHRISTIANS" has done, and is still doing a great work, yet being more brief, it necessarily touched only a few of the prominent features of the great plan, and therefore is much inferior to DAWN as a teacher. The latter also, by reason of its wider scope, presents the plan and its orderly arrangement in such a gradual way that the reader actually finds himself basking in the sunlight, before he is fully aware that it is morning. Notice its design and provision to lead even the skeptically inclined by gradually progressive steps to a clear refreshing view and a full assurance of the great Creator's benevolent and glorious plan. It begins by laying a foundation for faith in the Creator and in the Bible as the Creator's revelation to man of his plan. The reader thus has confidence established not only in God and the Bible, but also in the book, "The Plan of the Ages." He will rightly reason that the work which at the very outstart has given him clearer and truer ideas regarding God and the Bible, and has opened up matters never before noticed, and given a foundation for faith and trust, is a safe counsellor to heed in seeking a knowledge of God's plans through His Word.
Thus the first three chapters lay a foundation which subsequent chapters build upon, showing "The Plan of the Ages" to be gloriously and truly the Plan of God, which the Bible reveals. No living teacher and no kind of preaching will so effectually reach the intelligent thinking class of Christians. There are two reasons for this: First, If you attempt to explain the plan orally, the hearer will interrupt you with questions which he cannot have answered to his satisfaction until first other truths are clearly seen. And therefore in a conversation it is almost impossible to keep close to the right line of exposition, not only because of the questions of your hearer, but because of the interruptions, and the further fact that neither you nor your hearer can spend enough time at once, to make the truth clear and convincing. The book on the contrary goes right along and refuses to be interrupted by questions or general conversation. And if business or other matters interrupt and it is laid aside the reader goes back and repeats enough to get the thread of thought or argument where dropped.
Besides, if you possessed the rare gift of oratory, or could in any measure speak and expound the Scriptures in public, you well know, if you have tried it, that it is almost impossible to get a congregation of intelligent people to stand long enough hearing a "street corner preacher" to get even a faint idea of the glorious gospel we proclaim.
Another difficulty which attends such preaching is, that you could not (unless backed by a small fortune) long sustain yourself or perhaps a dependent family by such a course without a miracle, which God does not authorize us to expect. This last is to many an insurmountable obstacle and hindrance preventing them from spending all their time and talent in making known the glad tidings.
Go to a town in which you are not known,—in which misrepresentation has not prejudiced the people against you and the truth. Take with you a lot of the Contents Circulars with pink slip attached and a blank book in which to write the name and addresses of all who subscribe, and take a big heart full of love for God and for those you would lead into the light, full of faith in God and trust in his promises, and full of hope that God will be pleased to use you to his glory now as well as hereafter.
Learn to act quickly upon whatever your judgment dictates. Go first to a store to inquire for a respectable place of lodging; arrange for boarding "a few days" showing your circular and stating that you are there as a colporteur. Next get quickly to work; distribute the circulars, being CAREFUL to say nothing whatever about the doctrines of the book, nor about your own belief regarding God's plan. Ignore all questions on such subjects and merely speak of the one fact—that its object is to furnish a firm foundation for faith in God, and in the Bible as the true revelation of his purposes, touching man's past, present and future. Let your theme be constantly—The TRACT SOCIETY wants me to get this book into every family and specially into the hands of the skeptically inclined, as a guard against the growing skepticism of our day, which is rapidly sapping true piety and reverence for God and the Bible in our Colleges, Theological Seminaries, Business houses, Banks and Homes—everywhere. You cannot well say too much for the book, as one that will show in interesting style that the Bible is a self-interpreter and its teachings grandly harmonious, when viewed in the light of sanctified reason and common sense. You can surely say, too, that the book is not dry musty reading, but truly "meat in due season" to the truth-hungry; and (in the language of a sister) that the light, which this precious volume reflects, has made the Bible a new book, a treasure, a mine of wealth to many as well as to yourself.
But don't stop to talk or argue; be on the move, and let all see that your time is precious, that the King's business demands haste, and that you intend to take their order and the order of every intelligent family in the town. Do not spend more than two or three minutes at each house, and if they do not readily subscribe say to them: I do not accept the money now, but merely take your orders; but be sure to have the money ready by__________? day—fixing a time when your canvass of the town will be complete. Remark also that though they feel no inclination to disbelieve the Bible now, they do not know the day when they or some of their family may come under the influence of that pestilence and need "a helping hand," and the very knowledge of God and his word that this book affords.
You can safely say too, "When this book is in the hands of all your neighbors and they are talking about its contents, you will have more than 25 cts. worth of curiosity to know as well as they, of its teachings and explanations. Then I will be gone and you will feel ashamed to borrow when you can now purchase for the paltry sum of 25 cents. You can sell the book for waste paper after reading it and surely not lose much. But many who have read, would not take ten dollars for the book, if they could not get another copy." Take the name and go on to the next house, and so on. Don't stop long—let them see that you are in haste, and they will decide quicker in favor of having the book.
Large towns and cities you will need to canvass and deliver to in sections, but towns of 5000 to 10,000 inhabitants, you should be able to canvass in from one to two weeks, and make your delivery when through, and ready to go to the next town.
But do you say—This is not preaching! I want to preach. We answer, It is preaching of a most effective sort, and will probably yield a thousand times as much fruit as any other method you could adopt. Besides, you should arrange to revisit the same town about five weeks after leaving it. Go then, to see whether some want DAWN in cloth binding, or whether they want five or ten copies of the paper bound edition to send to their friends, east, west, north and south, throughout the world. The interested ones will also want ZION'S WATCH TOWER, and then will be the time to [R927 : page 2] mention it. Show a sample and take yearly or half-yearly subscriptions. Then the interested will have questions to ask, too, which you may assist them to find answers for in the Bible, or DAWN, or Z.W.T., and at that time hold such public or private meetings as your judgment of your talents, surrounding circumstances, etc., may dictate.
The object of thus canvassing quietly is to avoid the prejudice which many zealous, but blinded and misguided Christian people would be sure to awaken in the minds of each other, which would hinder a candid, honest, earnest study of the great, grand subject, treated in DAWN. And we know that prejudice is one of the strongest foes of the truth.
Very seldom will you be questioned about a license, but should you be, tell your questioner that ZION'S WATCH TOWER TRACT SOCIETY is a chartered, benevolent religious Society; and besides that, the paper bound book represents three numbers of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. This you can show them upon the last page of its cover. It has therefore the same rights for public sale that all newspapers enjoy.
Those who are specially good canvassers may do as well to omit from the above plan the distribution of the circulars. Such might take a clean circular in their hand and perhaps read brief extracts from the "Words of Commendation" on it and then take the order. These would thus save one visit to every house. The first suggestion would make three trips—once with circulars, once to collect circulars and take orders, and once to deliver books upon the day appointed. The last suggestion would save the first of these trips.
This plan of two trips is the one pursued by Brother Adamson, which has worked very successfully with him. His first effort with this plan was on leaving Pittsburgh, after having spent some days with us, after the celebration of the Lord's Supper, April 7th '87. Knowing that we would be interested to know of his success on this plan, Bro. A. wrote us the following letters regarding his first two days' work:—
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—I now give you an account of my success. I think there must be forty names on my book—results of five hours' work yesterday. I am sure in good towns I can average forty names daily. I refer chiefly to the book as an antidote for infidelity and to open the Scriptures to Christians. If I say more, I merely glance at the Chart as an example of "object-teaching," making plain the relationship between God's plan and the history of mankind.
I found some people whose talk showed that those DAWNS will be seed on good ground. With no introduction from me to that line of thought, some began to tell me the confusion of their minds on Bible subjects.
I rode out from Greenville with a young man who, taking me to be a minister, began on Bible subjects. Why, said he, after I answered several of his questions, you talk like ZION'S WATCH TOWER—kind of sensible. You will find, said he, that such views are beginning to influence this whole country.
I find your directions as to promptness very valuable, and very few cases need to be urged to take DAWN at the paltry 25 cts. If workers could all get the spirit of your directions and use the method you propose, all could succeed and could readily clear their personal expenses and even support a family.
I speak of the circular which I carry in my hand as being an array of commendation from every side—sometimes pointing out one or two of them. As old Satan introduced the deceptive errors insidiously, let us use this method to uproot them. I will write often and report. Most kind expressions of regard and love from us both.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—I find my average of 40 names per day still holds good and as I have nearly names enough for the 80 DAWNS with me, I think best to arrange for 300 DAWNS to be sent by freight, so as to reach here by the close of next week. I will need nearly 300 for this town alone.
You may count on my selling at least 5,000 of the books this year and as many more as possible. In this way, I expect to do much more preaching than ever before, though for years, as you know, I have given my time almost entirely to it.
A still later letter says:—I take a simple, easy course, generally like this, "I am taking subscriptions for a book of 350 pages at 25 cts.—will deliver it in two weeks. If you like the subject, you want it." Then I say that the various ages and their work, when clearly seen, give a clue to the meaning of every Scripture passage as commentaries do not and cannot.
I mention the chapters that do this—those antidoting infidelity—the permission of evil—the three ways—the Ransom vs. New Theology—the clear distinctions of the following chapter and Jehovah's Day—so acceptable to business men of THE WORLD etc. Price on back, 50 cts., calls out the fact that about 10,000 were sold at that price, before the TRACT SOCIETY lowered the price to 25 cts.—about cost.
I had an excellent offer to take agency of a Cyclopedia at about $150. per month. The man opened his eyes, when I told him $500 per month would be no inducement whatever to leave my present engagement.
The pay referred to in Bro. A.'s letters is the "Expense money" allowance of 10 cents each on paper bound DAWN, mentioned in VIEW FROM TOWER of March '87,—which see. Having explained this plan fully, we trust, let us suggest a plan for another class.
This plan is as follows: Write to us and we will send you a lot of April '87 TOWERS, and a lot of pink slips, which you can attach to the edge of the TOWER by pasting a very narrow edge of the slip. These you can take around town in a basket: leave them for a few days, and when you call for them, try to sell DAWN in paper covers at 25 cts. as above suggested. Take the order only and the next day deliver the book. You cannot sell as many, but you can thus reach many of the truth-hungry. Those who cannot go themselves, could send a child of 12 to 15 or any suitable person.
But all must not expect to sell 40 copies per day as Bro. A. is doing. Only persons with experience and ability can do so well as this; but many with the same effort they spend in other enterprises, yet with more zeal and love, because this is the service of the truth, can sell readily half as many and clear expenses.
Now who wishes to engage in this Crusade against error? Who wishes thus to call the attention of Christians to the Dawn of the Millennial day? Who wishes to help "Lift up a standard for the people" that they be not swept wholesale before the great tidal wave of infidelity already advancing?
Take Notice. Those who engage in this work will need an outfit—a sample of the cloth bound as well as of the paper bound M. DAWN. You will need circulars also, or April TOWERS, depending on which of the above methods suits your circumstances. And you will need to order books as soon as you have made a start and know about how many you will be able to sell in the town you canvass. It will save time and trouble for you and us, for us especially, for you to pay cash in advance on each order, and hence we require it. If you have not the means at first to send for a large supply, as a wise steward begin small and increase your work gradually and as rapidly as possible. In writing to us, keep your order and all business matters, separate from your letter; and in your order figure it out plainly; thus for instance,
25 copies of Paper bound DAWN
Vol. I. @ 25 cts. . . . . . . . $6.25
Less 10 cts. per copy TRACT
FUND Credit for Expenses. . . . $2.50
Money order enclosed for ——-
balance . . . . . . . . . . . . $3.75
We wish however to provide for those who cannot at first pay in advance. To these we would say: If you have been a regular subscriber to the Z.W. TOWER for one year or more you can have outfit and books for delivery on credit for the first time, after which the "expense money" allowed you, will enable you to pay in advance.
All books must be sold at the fixed price—cloth bound $1.00; paper bound 25 cts.—no more and no less, except that in each town you may make a reduction in price of your soiled samples, to some who may be glad to get them. Thus in starting each town you can have a clean sample. Though you should have a cloth bound DAWN with you do not try to push or sell it; for you can sell probably ten of the paper covered in the time you would spend selling one cloth bound. Use the cloth bound book merely as a contrast to make them see how very cheap the paper book is at 25 cts. You will remember how and why the paper edition is reduced from 50 to 25 cts. as explained in "View" in March 1887 TOWER.
We are glad to say to you that the present prospect is that by the united effort of all those now in the light, we shall be able to more than accomplish our first hope of putting 50,000 copies of DAWN into circulation before January 1888. Possibly we shall double that estimate.
Pray ye the Master of the harvest to send forth more laborers and then begin to use your own talents in the service. The Master says "Go ye also into the vineyard and whatsoever is right I will give you"—full pay to every laborer of whatever class, he guarantees.