DEAR SIR:—Recently, while waiting on a patient, on looking around for something to read, I came upon the second volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN. I became much interested in it; and upon inquiry, I learned that my patient had all three volumes, which she kindly loaned me. They had been in the house, she told me, several years, but they had evidently never been read. I have read them all, not as carefully as I should have liked, and found in them much food for thought. Your calculation as to the time of the end seems to be very plausible. I am not able to pick any flaw in it, unless I say that I have always had the idea that God never intended that any one should know in advance when the end would come. Of course, this idea of mine may be a very erroneous one, and certainly is worth absolutely nothing if there is any Scriptural proof against it. Your calculations, made in different ways and from different standpoints, do seem very conclusive, the one based upon the Jubilee striking me very forcibly.
I am sincerely anxious to know the truth and to live the truth. I am a Calvinist in faith, profoundly reverent in my attitude toward God, and earnestly desirous to know and to do his will, and his alone. If the views instilled into me from my infancy are in any respect erroneous, I would like to get rid of the error, but I do not wish to commit the mistake of giving up the real truth under the belief that it is not truth.
Your views are intensely fascinating, but some of them [R1923 : page 24] are so different from and opposed to what I have always believed to be Scriptural, that you can not wonder that I want more proof. Have you anything more that will throw further light on these grand themes?
REPLY:—We are always glad to meet and greet personally or by mail God's consecrated children. We perceive that you have the spirit of Christ, reverence and love for the truth. Your "idea" that God did not intend that anyone should know in advance when the end of the present age would come, and the Millennium be ushered in, is, we think, correct—borne out by facts. But if the Millennium began chronologically in 1874, and we are since then in the lapping time (forty years) in which the one age ends and the other as gradually begins, can it be said that any one knew of it in advance? Should we not expect that all who are Christ's "brethren" would be made to know of the changes of dispensation now in progress which are causing the world so much perplexity? Remember the Apostle's words on this subject: "The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night [stealthily, unobservedly], and when they [the world] shall say, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them as travail upon a woman with child [with paroxysms of increasing severity]; and they shall not escape; but ye, brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you [completely] as a thief. Ye are all the children of the light and of the day."—1 Thes. 5:2-6.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I have read with interest the article in the TOWER for Nov. 15, "Decently and in Order." Do I understand you to advise an organization as nearly as possible like that existing in the days of the Apostles? We have abundant evidence that their arrangement did not preserve the Churches in those days from error; in fact, they finally degenerated into Papacy; and it seems as though that would have been nearly impossible if there had been no "bishops," "deacons" and "elders."
If those gathered out of Babylon by present truth are all of the "wheat" class, they surely need no rules or order of any kind. If they are not all "wheat," but if some are "tares," will not the electing of elders make the companies part of Babylon, which is to be destroyed?
[REPLY:—The article "Decently and in Order" will stand careful study, because the subject is much confused in many minds. We expressly state in that article that we do not propose an organization, because the true Church is already organized, and has been organized for over 1800 years. We proposed no preparation of a creed, because our creed was made for us (by the Lord), and we have no right to change it. We distinctly stated that in our judgment only those have a right to a voice in the Church who profess faith in the ransom and full consecration to the Lord, and whose lives are in conformity with that profession.
This simple order, if still in force, would operate as at the beginning. You will find that in any congregation the number of those who even claim such faith and consecration is very small. The difficulty which you apprehend in the following of the course of the inspired Apostles is a misapprehension. The falling away, which culminated in Papacy, was from the opposite reason; namely, because the consecrated did not preserve their liberties by choosing their own leaders according to their understanding of the Lord's mind, but on the contrary permitted the leaders to usurp their places, authority and power, independent of them. Our only safety lies in close adherence to the instruction of the Word of God.
We have never claimed that the acceptance of the present truth proved a person to be of the "wheat" class; on the contrary, we have pointed out, repeatedly, that after receiving the light of present truth the sifting and separating, the threshing and winnowing, progresses most earnestly;—that the truth is a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. The gathering of the wheat "into the garner," from which all "tares" are excluded, is the gathering into the heavenly state as we are "changed," and pass beyond the vail.
To suppose that observing the Apostolic order, and preserving liberty by electing "elders" to serve the Church, is joining "Babylon," is to suppose that the Apostles organized "Babylon;"—a great mistake. The Babylonian method is just the reverse: it, so far as it is able, fetters the conscience of the believer with elaborate human formulae of creed, and makes the ministers (servants) a special and higher order, above the congregation, self-appointed or appointed by each other, as the case may be.
DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:—I received your letter this morning. I am reading DAWN for the third time, and the only part I cannot understand is why others cannot see the truth presented therein. Sometimes, when I am reading, my heart runs over with joy. I feel like a different man from what I was four months ago. I was almost ashamed to speak of Jesus and his love, but now I cannot help speaking of it all the day long. I have purchased sixty-five copies of DAWNS, and have a large card placed in my window as [R1924 : page 24] follows: "Every seeker after the truth should read MILLENNIAL DAWN, to be had within."
Our class, of sometimes eighteen, meets on Sunday and Tuesday evenings. We are now making arrangements for a hall to hold two hundred and fifty people, which we trust to open shortly. We shall also have arrangements for baptism. We have already commenced open air meetings.
I have been appointed by the class to be responsible for all tracts and DAWNS. We have received over two thousand tracts and could do with fifty thousand more. We also propose to visit a different town every Saturday afternoon, circulating tracts, each tract stamped with my address.