DEAR SIR AND FRIEND:—"Honest confession is good for the soul." This maxim is an old one, and I have believed it as far back as memory can reach. I have a confession to make, and as there are none near me willing to lend a sympathizing ear, I come to you—personally a stranger—feeling that you can understand fully what my friends will not even listen to.
My parents were what may be termed strict Methodists, and in that faith I was reared. Duty to them compelled me to attend the church and Sabbath-school of that denomination, though I comprehended but little, as the teachings were too deep for my immature mind. The doctrine of eternal torment, however, was preached and taught me so persistently, and was so vividly illustrated to me, that through fear I believed or thought I believed it. These teachings were undoubtedly meant for my good; but from a retrospective glance I am forced to admit they [R1565 : page 237] have worked the opposite; for, from hearing so much of them, I made up my mind, when but a mere boy, that as soon as I became released from parental control, I would keep clear of churches in general and the Methodist one in particular. This liberty came to me more than a dozen years ago, and during the intervening period I have remembered my resolve. Until three months ago, I had attended church only about four or six times. I drifted here and there, paying attention to nothing but pleasure [R1565 : page 238] and bodily comforts, a very heathen in fact, until about three months ago. Conscience told me I was leading a wrong life, and that in duty to myself and my children I should change my mode, and give them a good example, if nothing more. I tried to hush its voice by applying myself to congenial tasks, but it would not be hushed. Finally, I made up my mind that attendance at church would satisfy this silent monitor, so to the Protestant Episcopal church I went, and I have attended it regularly ever since.
About two weeks after I had resumed church attendance and my mind had become reasonably easy, I was putting my wardrobe in order, and found two OLD THEOLOGY tracts, entitled Thy Word is Truth, and Dr. Talmage's View of the Millennium. I read them, carelessly at first, then again with more attention. They were something new to me, and seemed to appeal to common sense and reason. I inquired of my wife where they came from, and was informed that they had been left by a Mrs. Bergner, who had promised to send a paper bearing on the same subjects. This paper came in due time and proved to be the February number of the TOWER, containing an article entitled "What say the Scriptures concerning Hell." This article riveted my attention, and I read it over and over again, and confirmed it with the Bible. It was a wonderful new doctrine to me, and upset all former beliefs on this subject. These readings prompted me to send for the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN. I have read them all very carefully, and, I believe, understandingly. I have proved them by the Bible, and my faith in their truth is as firm as the Rock of Ages; for if the plan of the ages is not true, the Bible is not; and I have always reverenced that grand old book, though previous to reading DAWN I never understood it, but persistently misapplied the grand truths it teaches, and used to take great pleasure in pointing out what I foolishly called its contradictions.
Now, how shall I attempt to describe the conflicting emotions the reading of the DAWN series has caused to arise within me, when I cannot understand their meaning myself? My earnest wish is to be able to do something in God's service, but my will does not seem to be strong enough to put the wish into execution. Am I to persevere in trying in my weak way to grasp that prize which seems so far above my reach? Is there any hope of my ever being able to attain that blessed peace of mind possessed by so many of the TOWER readers, and breathed in every line of the correspondence column? I sincerely ask that you join your prayers with mine, in asking the Great Father above that he will give me abundant light to dispel the present darkness. As one hoping and trusting, I beg to remain,
DEAR FRIENDS:—It is with the deepest gratitude that I write, for I have to tell the same old story that others have often cheered you with before: light where there was darkness, understanding and clear sight where before there was but dim vision and uncertainty; and this through the guidance of our loving Lord in putting it into the heart of a dear friend to spread the truth he had already found. He sent three sets of the DAWNS to his friends in this far-away valley. Two have found good soil wherein to grow, and it is our prayer that the third will also be heeded and the truth diligently sought after. Pray that my life may testify to the reality of the faith that is in me, that others may be led to inquire and learn of Christ Jesus.
I have also seen a few copies of the TOWER, which is a great help to the study of the Scriptures. I enclose my subscription, and an order for DAWNS, as some are willing to read them. My whole life, with the exception of nineteen years, which have only been completed, is before me, and I am waiting for God to open the way to a life of service and witnessing for Christ. I did not like to send a bare order, without letting you know how the Truth is spreading in this part of the country.
MY DEAR FRIENDS:—True friends and helpers indeed! With all my heart I thank the Lord, and with my whole life I will thank him and praise him, for the light I have received from the reading of the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN; and to you also, I owe a debt of gratitude. It is the Lord who thus blessed your heart, awakened your understanding and filled your hands to sow the good seed and spread the glorious truth—God's living truth. I feel it from line to line, from sentence to sentence, that this is not the outcome of speculation, not the scheme of human intellect, not an uncertain [page 239] grasp for truths and teachings, but a living stream of water out of the living fountain. That the Lord may guide you and strengthen and uphold you is, and will henceforth be, my daily prayer.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I received the first volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN, and was well pleased with it. Before reading it, I was a Universalist; but its plain teaching of the Second Death has convinced me of my error. Since God's plan is to save all men through the second Adam, Christ, from all that was lost in the first Adam, it follows that when every child of Adam has been brought to a full knowledge of God's plan and a full opportunity for forgiveness and restitution to divine favor, all will have been saved from death. Then, however, their individual trial begins; and the length or brevity of salvation depends upon their own (not Adam's) course. If, after all that, they sin wilfully, the death-penalty will be the result of their own, and not Adam's sin—for which Christ died; and there is no authority in the Scriptures for the statement of some that our Lord's death was for, or that it will have any effect upon, those who will die the second death.
DEAR BROTHER:—Permit me in a few words to tell you how I have enjoyed the "meat in due season" which the Lord has provided for me (us) through your instrumentality. I have had The Plan of the Ages on my shelves for years, but, I cannot explain why, without reading it until a few weeks ago. I know, however, that before now I have not been prepared to appreciate it, having had, last winter, a most precious, new experience of the grace and power of God through Jesus Christ. The reading of Vol. I. only sharpened my appetite for the other volumes, although on beginning to read it I remarked to my wife that I feared it was "heretical." I read and pondered, read and wondered, all through the first volume, bought the other two, subscribed for the WATCH TOWER, and found out before long that I had either to surrender to the Truth, or else to reject the whole Bible; and I assure you it was an unspeakable pleasure to me to surrender. I have done it enthusiastically, heartily and gratefully. These things are just what I have been yearning for, unknowingly, for years. I have been praying God to lead me, teach me, and how wonderfully he has redeemed his promises. He had been drawing me slowly, but surely, out of the bonds of sectarianism. I had, so to speak withdrawn one foot from the denomination (Baptist), and was on the verge of taking the other step; and now I know I shall not be tolerated among them. But thanks to God for the Truth; how it liberates!
When in 1880, I was immersed, and joined the then (in Denmark) despised "Baptists," I did it on conviction of truth, and meant to pursue it even unto death; and the Lord has been leading me on until I now have left most of the Baptists behind—many of whom I trust will follow in due time. When I read your article on "Baptism and its Import" in the TOWER, I thought it was the way every Baptist desired to put it, but had failed for stopping short in the progress of Truth.
I was very glad to see announced that a Dano-Norwegian translation of Vol. I. is in the type-setters' hands, for I am anxious to have this marvelous knowledge of the Truth given to my countrymen here and in Denmark. Is any work being done among them? I could use some tracts.
DEAR SIRS:—Have you any special form of application for colporteurs? If so, I would be obliged if you would send me one; and, at the same time, please give me the cost of the complete outfit for the sale of your books, tracts, etc. I have for some years been watching for an opportunity to engage in some work which would furnish me occupation, in which I might find satisfaction, which would be of actual benefit to others, and in which the gain of money should not be any incentive to work. I am an invalid, but there are many days I am able and willing to work, and would be glad to do so in such a suitable and satisfactory labor as I believe the sale of your books would give me.
I have had the three volumes of DAWN in my possession for nearly a year, and would sooner have notified you of the indescribable blessings I have experienced by their study, but I deferred any such expression until I had critically examined and studied all that is therein written. Not that my opinion is of any value, but because I did not want again to expose myself as a victim of premature enthusiasm [page 240] over something new I had found—which I have done several times during many years. My last and most disappointing effort was with "Christian Science." Of your DAWNS I do now boldly declare that they are not only the most wonderful exposition, but the only one I have ever found strictly and perfectly in accord with God's revealed Word.
I have been greatly comforted in my confinement by the study of your Tabernacle Shadows. You have certainly made very clear the things to come by your excellent explanation of the types of the real. With such a model before me I can locate myself on my journey toward the celestial city or "the Most Holy."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I enclose fifty cents for the WATCH TOWER for the next six months. I am a new subscriber, but I have read a few copies kindly lent me by brother T. Mitchell, and I beg to say I am much interested in them. Day by day they bring new light. It is about eighteen months since I commenced to read MILLENNIAL DAWN, and I thank God that I was brought in contact with the precious food. I have been convinced for several years that the nominal church under her present system could not be in accord with divine revelation, and that she is daily drawing nearer to the world.
I am doing all I can to bring the precious Truth to others, and I thank God that one dear friend of mine has been brought to see the Truth. He has been an agnostic for about fifty years. He told me recently that he has a sister in London who has been praying for him for years, and that he wrote her about three weeks ago that he was loving the same God as she loved, and had been converted by reading the TOWER on "Hell."
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Anyone who has been led out of darkness into the marvelous light of the glorious gospel, always feels kindly toward the medium through which he was delivered. Therefore, and understanding that you are always glad to hear from the interested, I send a few lines with my order for books.
Some years ago, before I had heard of your writings, I had concluded that denominationalism was wrong and caused only strife and contention; and, failing to find in the Scriptures anything about organizing and joining churches, I determined to have nothing to do with anything of the kind. So I withdrew from the Christian church, against the protest of my friends (a very hard thing to do), and have ever since been trying to learn more truth. Brother Roberson, of Texas, obtained my address through a paper, and wrote to me persistently until he got me to studying your books; and by his help I found it was the very thing I had been so long looking for. While I can not understand all, yet I find it a grander and more sublime theme, with more harmony in all its details, than I thought was possible. I will ever feel grateful to Brother Roberson and yourself for this help in time of need.
DEAR SIR & BROTHER:—Pardon my familiarity in thus addressing you without a formal introduction; but after reading your three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN, the contents of which are so near my own convictions of the present state of affairs, it seemed to me when reading them that I was receiving a long-prayed-for light upon various topics that had hitherto been quite dark, and I wish to express my appreciation of this light and joy. It seemed as if great scales were being taken from my eyes, and I began to see men as trees walking. Being very desirous to obtain more light and meat in due season, I would kindly ask you to send me your paper and such books as bear upon the subject in hand. It is my earnest desire to know just what Christ's will is concerning me.
I wish to ask you in regard to "particulars" concerning arrangements for those wishing to help in their distribution. I cannot afford to order many copies for free gifts; but am anxious that the works shall be read. I was so discouraged and disheartened myself, and every effort to "search the Scriptures," on my part, was so frowned upon by ministers and church members, that I cannot but feel that your books have saved me from Infidelity.