Churchianity has been an abomination to me from childhood, and the Church of Rome a system I feared and hated. Fox's Book of Martyrs, with its illustrations of torture and persecution of the saints, roused all the indignation of my boy's heart. All my life my heart's best sympathies have been on the side of oppressed humanity, and I have turned neither to the right hand nor to the left for frowns or favors. In the abolition of slavery I took my part in Massachusetts, where I was born in 1835, and fought for it in the army. I was actively engaged with my dear old father in the temperance cause, and we struck hard blows, so much so that hanging in effigy and threats of all sorts, even to life, were common to us.
Some prejudice against the church and professed Christians was early engrafted into my mind by certain events of my youth. For instance, I saw a good man, who protested against fellowshiping men as brethren in Christ who held their fellow men in bondage, knocked down by the deacons and dragged by the hair of his head out of church. My mother had hard work keeping me from throwing the hymn-book at the deacons. I asked her why he did not stand up and fight. She replied that he was a true Christian, and believed in non-resistance. To my active, belligerent mind this was a strange principle. Senator Sumner of Massachusetts was another professor of this principle; and I remember well, when he was struck down in the Senate Chamber, how ready I was to avenge the blow if opportunity had permitted.
But life has brought its lessons, and I too have had to learn that physical force is not the most powerful weapon. In the Labor reforms energy, talent and money have all been spent for twenty-five years with no expectation of reward of any sort; for, unlike many others, place nor profit was not in it for me. However, as I see things now, I hold no vain regrets as to this matter; for I recognize in this whole matter God's own good pleasure to me personally, and world wide. No blow could have been struck, not even war, that would have caused such general worldwide distress and trouble as this act of all the kingdoms of demonetizing silver and thus taking away from the people the use of half their money. Money, the blood of commerce and the power of civilization, is thus made the instrument of helping on the day of trouble.
Yes, I see much of God's more excellent way of blessing the world through Christ, and I have been talking it at the firesides of my neighbors and have been writing it to my old co-laborers and urging them to send for the DAWN, and some have written me they have done so. I only regret that I have not the means to purchase a lot to send to friends. I recognize how hard the change of base will be; for I am well known to all the labor leaders and was active in the last campaign, speaking in school houses and elsewhere, free and without price. I see no way to prevent my falling into the temptation except to give the same zeal and effort to the instruction of others in the signs of the times and telling the story of the Resurrection and the Life, the overthrow of all earthly systems of government and the establishment of the Kingdom of the Prince of Peace.
[We sympathize greatly with the noble souls who, in one way and another, are striving and spending time, talent and means in the various reform movements of our day. They have the right spirit and we should not be surprised to find God granting them knowledge proportionate to their zeal.
To turn your zeal into the Lord's work and help to prepare yourself and others for a place in the Bride company which by and by, as God's Kingdom, will institute all the gracious reforms promised, is certainly the only proper course, as well as a great privilege. We are always glad to cooperate with all such soldiers of Christ.—EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER:—I have several things to write about. First: We are getting along nicely and harmoniously in our Circle gatherings. We have two a week, one Friday evening for the study of the Word in the light of the DAWN, and one Sunday P.M. for prayer and praise, taking some phase of the Christian life as part of the exercises. I have never attended any other meetings where there was such a unity of desire and purpose on the part of all to know the truth.
Second. It would seem as though when a little company comes out from the nominal church on account of the truth, they have to meet and reject all the errors going as never before. We have just passed through a trial of an error which most of us had never met before....[This is usually Satan's method. Those who sleep in Zion need not be disturbed, but as soon as they awake and come out into the liberty of the truth he is after them with "signs and lying wonders, and all deceivableness of unrighteousness." [R1889 : page 256] The only safety is in obeying 1 John 5:18 and Jude 21.—EDITOR.]
Third. The Wisconsin M.E. Conference has just closed its session here. I will send you some notes showing the drift of that Church. Dr. Payne, of New York, the General Secretary of the Board of Education of the M.E. Church, among other things said, "I am not an Adventist, and do not believe in a second advent. We have had one advent, and that is enough." This was loudly applauded. He held up Dr. Parkhurst's doings as the only kind of work necessary in connection with education, education being the prime factor. I have condensed Bishop Foster's sermon, using his words principally. Text: "For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us." He said:
"God is moving things along an ideal line and doing the best he can under the circumstances, has not reached the end and never can. He is trying to produce a race of beings which if they could be finished would be wonderful. In the first place he has created the great Universe, which includes our earth, and all of this is but a temporary affair, although it has taken millions and millions of years to do it, and it will be millions and millions of years before he can finish what is possible of his idea, for it is going to pass away as a scroll. The reason: After these millions of years of creation the earth had come into a condition in which he could use it for his idea; so he created man, and put him in a physical body on the earth for a time for a special purpose; i.e., that he might suffer a while in order to fit him for the next step in the process after he has left the body; that is, to go on from glory to glory forever in a constant upward progression." As the Bible says that at the resurrection we are to be like the Savior, what must we be at the end of millions of years!!
He said that no man has seen God at any time, neither can see him, neither can the angels; for God hath no body nor parts, and therefore cannot be seen; but the angels, living where he manifests his glory, can see that; and that we cannot see man: as he is a spirit we can see only the house he lives in while on the earth, and which he leaves when he dies; for man was not made to live on the earth. Consequently when he is through with the earth as a starting place for the race he is trying to produce, he will roll it up as a scroll. In closing he said we must have literary education, in order to form character; for our destinies are in our own hands and the place we shall occupy after death, whether in hell or heaven, depends on what characters we form here. We are all babes while on the earth, although some of us (Bishop Foster and the like) are a little precocious.
I cannot see what use such men have for the Bible. He read 1 Cor. 15 for his morning lesson, though he has no use for the resurrection. He takes an indefinite number of millions of years for the creation, the Bible six definite periods of time; he says God is not a person, consequently no one can ever see him, the Bible says the Bride will; he says man is not a human but a spirit being, the Bible says the Word [our Lord] was made flesh and dwelt among us; he says we never will reach perfection, the Word says we are to be complete in Him; he says that he is working out an idea, while the Bible says God is working according to a definite and well arranged plan.
DEAR BROTHER:—After so long a time, out of the abundance of my weakness and inability, I write of my success in the Master's vineyard. During ten month's work I have placed nearly fifteen hundred DAWNS to the Master's glory. I feel that I have done the best I knew.
On beginning work in every town, I have prayed the Lord that I might be used of him to carry the glad tidings to those of his servants who are hungry for the truth. I have asked him that I might be able to find his true servants, and while talking that I might speak my words aright and in season, that I might show the spirit of the truth, giving none offence by my words. I am determined to lay aside every weight and besetting sin, and to labor with patience for the Master, until he in his own good time may remove all difficulties. In the meanwhile I trust that the fruit of my labor may continue in his favor, that it may be watered and nourished until the crown be won. The Lord's work is my all-absorbing theme, and I humbly ask a continuance of the favor until I may have laid down my life in his service.
I can now more fully realize the blessing with which the Lord blesses those who enter his service. He has blessed me with a much plainer understanding of his Word and plan, and has shown me how to act my part, and given me a fuller appreciation of the joyful reward at the end.
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:—What a privilege it is to work for our God! As we study his character and the character of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we cannot but worship and adore them, and seek daily to conform our characters more to theirs. We also want to express to you with the enclosed for the Tract Fund our love for the work and also for yourselves as humble servants in it. May the Lord daily guide and keep you in that attitude of meekness (toward Him) which shall be to the best interests of yourselves and the Church which you serve.
The Lord has been very good to us ever since we consecrated, by his wonderful providences leading us in a way we did not know. Until this year we have come out a little behind in our finances; but now, though times are harder than ever, he seems to be willing, without our seeking, to trust us with a little more of "this world's goods;" so after paying our debts we are gladly putting the surplus into the work.
Enclosed please find a letter from Miss Steel who is in the Sandwich Islands. It shows that she is reaping: even over there the sickle is being thrust in. We sent her the books requested and hope they are now doing their work.
Some fifteen months ago, while praying and waiting that the Lord would open a door for me to give out the joyful news contained in the Plan of the Ages, He opened a door through a Church of England service on the subject of Immortality. Two dear brethren were very much upset over it. But when I asked them to meet at my house, and we would see what said the Word of God, they came and we had a most interesting meeting. More came the next week, and the Lord opened their minds to the truth as it is in Jesus. My heart is full of joy that he is using me to give out the truth.