MY DEAR AND BELOVED BROTHER RUSSELL:—At the close of the year I cannot help thanking you for the spiritual pleasure you are rendering me by your esteemed journal, ZION'S WATCH TOWER, which I receive regularly. It is to me like the merchant's ship—bringing spiritual food from afar. My constant prayer for you is that Jehovah our God may preserve you and Sister Russell for a long time that you may be able to continue the King's work to convince many souls of the true, blessed hope the whole world may have in the appearance of "this same" Jesus Christ. We are all well. With Christian love and best wishes to yourself and Sister Russell for a happy New Year 1897.
GENTLEMEN:—Four years ago I was brought into contact with the WATCH TOWER, and, reading a little here and there, I supposed it to be the organ of some [R2103 : page 43] peculiar sort of Universalists, outside the pale of orthodoxy, and threw the papers on one side.
However, I have recently read the three volumes of MILLENNIAL DAWN and am again going through the first volume more carefully and prayerfully; and I have been led to feel that, if this is God's truth, I want it at any cost. The Plan of the Ages magnifies the goodness of God ten thousand times more than any other system of interpretation or theology I have ever read.
I now turn up the old WATCH TOWERS of 1892 which I carelessly threw aside, and read them with avidity. I think inquirers should begin with the MILLENNIAL DAWN. I enclose $6, and wish you to kindly send me what you can for it. Yours faithfully,__________
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—We are having some good times here. Our brother Hart has been amongst us and helped us on. Our class is gradually becoming larger. For the last three weeks our room (which holds about 25) has been almost too small for us. Our tracts (which the Tract Society so kindly sent us) are doing a good work. Brother Guard and myself often go to different parts to circulate them, and now and again a request comes for a DAWN. One brother has already had over twenty copies, as the result of a tract left under his door.
As we go about we find that the harvest is ripening fast; but the laborers are very few. Let us pray with all earnestness that the laborers may increase. I think we may want another supply of tracts soon. This is a very poor neighborhood, and we have had to loan many DAWNS. Yours in Him, W. THIRKETTLE.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I am deeply thankful to say that we are still holding fast to the truth, and endeavoring to the best of our ability to spread it amongst others. It seems almost miraculous that any should be able to stand, when all the delusions and snares that abound everywhere are taken into consideration; but by the grace of God alone, certainly not by any special ability or firmness on our part, we are thankful to be in the liberty of the truth.
Our work here is moving, though we are not able to chronicle any very remarkable success, if such is to be gauged by the general standard—numbers, etc.; but we are conscious of an increased interest generally, and a joyful acceptance here and there. We earnestly trust the Lord will graciously increase the number, but, dear Brother, as you well know, this is a hard battle; foes within and without are to be met constantly; and we have the ever present consciousness of our own utter weakness and unworthiness. But oh, what a blessed comfort the truth is! How it makes every cross lighter, every problem luminous, in very truth. I know not how I should live through this present period did I not possess its healing and life-giving support; but the sweetest comfort of all is that God is perfect Master of the situation, and that all things will be brought to the best interests of his creatures. If the eternal happiness or woe of our fellow men were absolutely dependent upon our efforts, what a terrible thing life would be; but God and his blessed Son are a thousand times more anxious for the well-being and happiness of mankind than any mortal. With brotherly love to all the brethren and sisters, from Bro. Flack and myself.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—The amount of blessing I have derived from studying the Bible, helped by the DAWNS, I cannot describe. Before I knew of them, I plodded wearily through "Butler's Analogy" and "McCulloch's Calvinism" and, I might truly say, hundreds of other books, in search of something to satisfy me that Christianity was not cant. I must confess that though I had an earnest desire to know God, and though it is many years since I was converted, yet I did not study the Bible, but only read it now and then.
I have been careless of God, but he has not been careless of me; I have been often unfaithful, and he has ever kindly rebuked me. Now I see his love clearer; now I grasp heavenly things more tenaciously and dare not let go even for a moment. I fail in many things: it grieves me to fail in any thing; and I thank God for his many tokens of love and forgiveness of my follies. Blessed be God for the gift of memory which, though it shows me my sins and shortcomings in the past, also points out the many blessings my poor unworthy self has received in Christ Jesus.
In endeavoring to prove to many professed Christians that "hell" does not mean eternal torture, they have nearly one and all triumphantly pointed to the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Now, in addition to using your arguments, I have often put the following question, in order to prove that Jesus simply used the story as an illustration, and did not tell it as an actual reality: "Was there any member of the human family who died and went to heaven before Christ died on the cross?" I point out that Jesus tells the story of what happened in the past—"There was a rich man," etc. If they say "Yes," I show them they deny that Christ is the only Way to heaven, and this staggers them. If they answer "No," they condemn their own belief and they stand confounded.
DEARLY BELOVED BRETHREN IN CHRIST:—I was greatly rejoiced over the good news of your dear letter received a few days ago. I have not been so glad for a long while as when I read the statement of my account and saw how good the Lord had been to me that he had put it into some good heart to help me over the great debt I had gotten into. "Thank the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." It was the best news you could tell me just now; and I most heartily thank you for it, and pray that God will bless you and the dear brother who has been such a great help to so many of the Lord's servants. The WATCH TOWER for Dec. 15th received today and most of it read—with delight. I am so glad with the truths it presents and am perfectly in harmony with you; it is so good and grand to me, and I prize it above money or anything else. I thank the Lord that he has ever brought me in contact with the blessed good tidings proclaimed from God's Word. I know it is the plain truth, and it is my heart's desire that I might live in the way that is most pleasing to God, and in all things be subject to the will of God, our blessed Heavenly Father.
It is becoming more and more light for me since I commenced to hold little meetings here in Denmark. We meet every Friday evening and have Bible readings with explanations, prayer and praise, and it has been very profitable to myself as to many of the dear Christians that have been attending. The circulation of Danish and Swedish tracts and DAWNS progresses, and although the results are not so great as we could wish, nevertheless the truth is spreading and finding some of the Lord's jewels. Your brother and fellow-servant in our dear Lord, JOS. S. WINTER.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Your very kind, loving and refreshing letter bearing date of the 19th ult. is duly received; also that containing Invoice, etc. We are truly glad that Brother Maxon arrived safely and gave you a clear description of the state of affairs. We are truly thankful for kind proposition made. We rejoice in Brother Hay's good fortune, of which we are partakers. How blessed are they who, possessing this world's goods, turn the same to good account.
Now, dear Brother, contrary to misunderstanding through communication concerning preaching, we had properly begun with it among the unintelligent, if by any means they could be aroused to an interest in securing DAWN, which would preach more lasting sermons. Being totally blinded, the people exhibited no appreciation for the truth, and we withdrew. We discern the necessity of associating preaching with the circulation of the Dawn. We gather from "Suggestive Hints to Colporteurs" that a house to house circulation is preferable, though preaching may not be ignored; and we are again preparing to go out preaching. We are experiencing severe storming by the Adversary; but occasionally realizing a gleam of sunshine amid the storm. We are having daily manifestations of divine providence and favor.
Our warfare out here is manifold, having to fight against the depressed state of things, the depravity of our surroundings, our own internal and external conflicts, etc.; so that we must be very often at the throne of grace, to implore the aid of our sovereign Lord and Head. We trust you will not cease to pray for us. We believe that grace will be given God's people equivalent to, or much more than, the evil with which they are surrounded. Thank God, we are growing in grace. The beam is in process of being cast entirely out of our own eyes; then shall we be able to see the motes of others.
It affords us great joy to see the report for 1896 in last TOWER, and to know of the active interest taken in the work by the brethren and sisters everywhere. May we all continue faithful unto the end.
[These two brethren were formerly representatives of the American Bible Society. After they got hold of present truth and it got hold of them they could do no less than spread it and are now colporteuring for DAWN as "Bible Keys," preaching and circulating O.T. TRACTS. They are full-blooded Jamaica negros.
Brother Maxon, a white man, converted by these brethren last year, called on us recently and gave a most excellent report of their zeal, patience, energy, devotion, ability and full consecration to the Lord.—EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Inclosed you will find an order for books. My labors with translations into French continue. Meantime I am using the German literature and making efforts to reach some of the many Germans of Switzerland and Germany itself. I have sent out over 4,000 tracts and, praise God, here and there some are awaking and are writing for more reading matter. Have also put notices of M.D. into different papers, having received $15.00 from a brother for that purpose. Several booksellers are now offering it for sale; another puts it into his showwindow; and with another I am corresponding about arrangements.
One editor of a religious Sunday paper printed the notice of M.D. twice free of charge. I sent him the three volumes. In the notice I offered to loan the first to all lovers of the Truth and received many a friendly request for the same, mostly from among the poor. My German correspondence is thus increasing. While my efforts have been chiefly among the Germans of Switzerland, I am of the opinion that there remains much [R2105 : page 44] work to be done on the mainland of Europe.
The whole month of December I had almost daily some orders or requests for the German DAWN; some came from old Deaf Hospital women. It seems that a great hunger and seeking after the truth—to know more about the glorious Millennial day, the dear Gospel of the true Kingdom and the wondrous plan of the ages—is prevailing in Switzerland. Praise the Lord!
A German periodical would be very appropriate at this time, containing TOWER articles and probably answers to correspondents; and thus the bond of fellowship amongst the true believers would be strengthened and the interest, I believe, much increased. There are a number scattered here and there who would rejoice much over such an undertaking and support it according to their means. We hope that something may be done soon. I took the matter to the Lord in prayer. Hope you will think favorably of the suggestion and give us your idea and advice in the matter.
The other day I received a request from a missionary in a neighboring city for the loan of some DAWNS for a number of earnest Christians. Thus the interest increases. Will close with saying that I am always glad to receive the TOWER, and constrained to give thanks for, and pray for the continuance of, the blessings and favors of God our Father and our Lord Jesus toward me and you all and those that are His in every place.
[Sister Mattern reports that while as a nurse in a hospital in Hamburg she introduced DAWN and that five other Sisters there are deeply interested in the subject and are having Bible-study meetings and suffering reproaches, being in danger of losing their positions. Sister Giesecke is also doing a good work loaning DAWNS, circulating tracts, etc., in Germany.
All things considered, it has been about decided that we will start a small (4 page monthly) German TOWER. The price will be 12 cents per year for single copies; 5 copies monthly for a year 50 cents; 12 copies monthly for a year $1.00. We shall be glad to hear from all of our interested German friends, soon as convenient, respecting their interest in this part of the one harvest work.—EDITOR.]