DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:—You are entitled to a little report of our "Dawn Circle for Bible Study." We have been longing for a Sunday afternoon meeting, and have prayed for a brother in our midst to be touched with the spirit of truth to take the care of such a meeting. At one time it looked as though our requests were to be granted, but every hope of a present answer was taken away as we found unwillingness or faintheartedness among all the good men we thought interested. So the meeting must be abandoned or I must take the forward step, which, in the strength of the Lord, I did, and announced a series of Bible studies on the Plan of the Ages with chart illustrations. Last Sunday we began with but ten present; nevertheless the Lord was present to fill all the vacancies, and we spent a blessed time. All expressed themselves as greatly interested and enlightened, and purposing to attend regularly and to bring others. It was all the Lord's doings.
I was led in opening to give a little of my experience in Bible study, past and present, and the dear friends seemed very much touched, so much so that when I came home I thought I would try to express the same in verse, and wrote the enclosed, which I know is too long to be used in the TOWER; and which please return to me, as I have no copy.
We have a table at the meeting place, containing tracts and books and TOWERS, which we urge the attendants to take with them; and last week they did so very generally; so we hope for good results from this mode of circulating the truth. You must count us now as really a little Church, and pray for us daily. Remember especially the poor earthen vessel the Lord has to use, that his may be all the glory.
[We are well pleased with the report of your "Dawn Circle for Bible Study." We think that under the circumstances there you have done right to step forward and take the initiative, which we perceive you have done in the spirit of meekness with all deference to the Lord's will in the choice of brethren generally for the more public service. But if there be no brother in the company sufficiently or equally competent to lead, then the interests of the flock should not be permitted to suffer from that cause, when a sister with the necessary qualifications stands ready with consecrated talents meekly and faithfully to serve them. We call to mind that once God raised up a female judge in Israel; and if in these days of more general education and enlightenment he should bring forward some sisters with marked meekness, faithfulness, sobriety and ability to serve his flock with a little more prominence than others, we may not despise these indications of the Lord's will. No brother who is a mere novice in the knowledge of the truth, or a mere babe in Christian experience, should be asked to take a leading part merely because he is a brother. If a sister have preeminent talents, by all means use them. You did well, too, in starting the class with a Chart exposition.
I find that very few members of the church wish even to talk about Christ's coming now. Of course, there is but little oil in their lamps. Some tell me I would be frightened at his coming. The idea of being frightened at the coming of my Brother, with whom I am on the best of terms of love; never! Neither will any Christian who is striving and praying without ceasing.
Since Christians are liable to sins of omission or sins committed inadvertently, or sins committed because of doubt as to whether "so and so" is a sin (And so many take advantage of this doubt!), I am constrained to ask them to read the seventh chapter of Joshua, which clearly explains why prayers are so often not answered.
In this chapter it is recorded that God said to Joshua, "Get thee up; wherefore liest thou thus upon thy face?" Joshua had asked God why it was that Israel was defeated in battle, and his army put to flight? God answered, The children of Israel cannot stand before their enemies, because a theft has been committed by one of the people.
Thus we see that our prayers and our efforts in life will not be blessed by our heavenly Father if our hearts are sinning against God as did Achan, who with his sons and daughters was put to death for the theft in question. Thus it is that millions of good deeds and fervent prayers are nothing in the sight of God. Why? Because a wrong has been committed, and until reparation has been made it will be vain to plead at the throne of God.
Our faith may be strong; we may love God; if we are his children he does love us; but if we have committed that which is evil in his sight, until we make a clean surrender, our prayers will not be answered: there are formidable barriers between us and heaven.
To any in that condition I would say: You promised an unconditional surrender when you declared you would stand on the Lord's side. Do you not know that you did? But probably "one thing thou lackest;" and doubtless you know what it is. Does the thought of surrendering it make you sad? Is it a "sweet morsel?" Ask yourself what is its name! Is it worldly gain? malice? envy? revenge? or a want of charity? with which you have built a barrier around yourself, excluding your prayers from [R1902 : page 280] heaven? Be it what it may, you will be compelled to make a clean surrender ere you can expect a realization of divine favor. Will you surrender now? or will you continue your warfare against your own soul, and remain like an army that is whipped and continues to fight until nearly annihilated over a long and fruitless retreat?
The religion of many who profess to be God's children is of three kinds. Either they have never become children of God, and hence their religion is wholly theoretical; or they have been truly converted, but fail to live a consistent Christian life; or, not having kept very close to our Heavenly Father, temptation has found them unsheltered, [R1903 : page 280] sin has crept in and taken root and developed to such alarming proportions that suddenly they awaken to a sense of their condition, and become doubtful as to whether God really owns them or not. [A small minority, having by their own experience or that of others come to appreciate the above dangers, are living close to him; and because in Christ they endeavor to do always those things which please Him, they are able to approximate the sentiment expressed by him when he said, "I know that thou hearest me always."—John 11:42; 8:29.—EDITOR.]
I have just returned from Minnesota, where Bro. Melin has been preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom. Many Swedes are stepping into the light there. I have visited N. Dakota twice this summer, and have been blessed and encouraged.
Three years ago I preached the gospel of restitution in my native country, Norway. Many were interested, and would, I believe, have been brought into the full light, if I could have remained longer with them. I intend to go back soon.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—I am getting more and more every day into the knowledge of our gracious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and God's glorious plan for redeeming poor fallen man. I have been a student of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series for about one year. I am entirely a different man to what I was when I first commenced their study, and since through a diligent search of the Scriptures I have come over on the Lord's side and have left Babylon. I am now happy in Christ, when before all was dark and gloomy. I was raised a Methodist, my father being an itinerant Methodist minister. He says their church is not what it used to be when he was actively engaged in the service. He is very much grieved that the ministry and the church have so far retrograded from its old teachings.
I am studying hard and praying that I may not only hold on to what I already have but that I may see more and more of God's glorious plan, and receive "meat in due season" for the household of faith, which is so necessary for growth and development in the Christian life that I am trying to live. A great field is open here for the spread of the truth. Pray for me, dear brother, in my solitary efforts for its advancement, and "Pray the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth more laborers into his harvest." Your brother in Christ, J. L. BAKER.
DEAR TOWER:—I have heard that some of the members in the church from which I withdrew have been enquiring of the minister and elders why I left; and they have been told that I did not leave the church, only withdrew from the eldership. And on the strength of that they have called on me for money for the church. I was going to write the minister and explain to him my reasons for coming out of Babylon, but fear he would not read my letter before the congregation. He knows my position, for I have sent him many tracts and TOWERS.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I have made a startling discovery lately. Although I left the M.E. church four years ago, I find upon inquiry that the minister under whose pastorate I left the church did not take my name off the church roll as I told him to do. And he has misrepresented me greatly. A great many regard me as a backslider, others think me an infidel, etc. I have searched into the matter and brought these things to light. Your suggestion about the letters of withdrawal in a recent TOWER seems to me very good, and I will be glad to avail myself of them. I am glad so much provision is made by the Lord for all his sheep, and praise him for his bountiful providence.
[The "Withdrawal Letters" were meant for just such cases, or, rather, to prevent such misrepresentations. They are kindly presentations of our reasons for standing separate from sects of "Babylon." They show that we feel no bitterness, but only love and sympathy, toward all of the Lord's sheep,—whether in or out of Babylon. Use these letters freely. They are now a number of the O.T. Tract series.—EDITOR.]
Am happy to say our "Dawn Circle" is making progress and I have strong hopes it will be a fruitful source of growth in the truth and knowledge of God in just the manner the Lord delights in. (See Jer. 9:23,24.) It is this that has caused us so much joy. Bro. Mogensen has been baptized, and is full of preparations to go forth colporteuring.
MR. RUSSELL:—Early this year MILLENNIAL DAWN VOL. I. came into my hands, I might say heart; for no book ever laid hold of me in the same way. I cannot tell you what it has done for me and cost me already. It is no small thing at sixty-seven to be turned upside down and outside in, until I don't know where or what I am, only a sinner saved by grace, and that I stand on the Word which liveth and abideth forever! Many are the questions I would ask if I saw you face to face. I want to prove all things by the Word. Praying that God may use and bless you in work for the saints,