DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I thought I would drop you a few lines as to my experience in my recently begun work as a colporteur. In company with Brothers Richardson and Barbour I came to Washington, Pa., a nice town of about 20,000 population. For the most part its people are very intelligent and independent. I found DAWNS and tracts in many of the houses, and a strong feeling of suspicion as well as of opposition against both. For this the ministers of the place are evidently responsible; the most of them had never read what they blindly oppose. Thus they are guilty of expressing judgment in advance of knowledge!
The WATCH TOWER readers have just distributed The Bible vs. the Evolution Theory. In a majority of the houses at which I called I found that excellent booklet, and upon inquiry learned that nearly all who had it had read it with benefit, and some were loud in their praise of such "a good and timely tract." On the strength of this tract many gave me their orders for DAWNS, saying that "the author of such a tract would certainly produce a readable and profitable book." One old "brother" said he "knew something heavier was coming." He gave me his order for the books that he might learn more of the truth.
One of the ministers of the city was very industriously engaged in misrepresenting the DAWN, going about from house to house counseling his flock not to read the book, but to exercise the same caution concerning it as they would relative to a dose of poison. He told some of them that if they had any faith at all the book would eclipse it with the darkness of unbelief. That if they had the least hope, they would be deprived of it should they read the DAWN! This "shepherd" and I came near forming acquaintance; he was always one door ahead of me! The first house I saw him come out of I went into. The "lady of the house" recognized me as if by instinct. "Good morning," I said. "Good morning, Sir; you are the man that's around with that book, MILLENNIAL DAWN?" "Yes; and I will be only too glad to call your attention to the book for just a few moments." "Oh, no! our minister was just here and told me not to read the book, nor receive you into my house, nor bid you God-speed, for your book was full of infidelity, and neither you nor the book believed in God, heaven or hell."
I replied, "Sister, I am confident the minister never read the book,—does not know what it contains, and am sure he is entirely wrong, for the book treats on all these subjects; and, besides, if you will read it, you will find as much hell taught as you could wish." "Oh, well, if that is the kind of a book it is you may bring it to me," said she. I thanked her, and in leaving the house was just in time to see the good minister emerging from another house.
I made my way to this residence and was received with a way-below-zero air, and at once told that "We do not want the book, and would not give it house-room." The minister, she said, had told her not to read the book, and that was enough for her! I said, "Lady, do you do everything your minister tells you to do?" She said, "No, not everything." I said, "If he would tell you to put your head in the fire, would you do that?" "No," said she. Then with true womanly curiosity she inquired: "What's in the book, anyway? It must be a funny book, everybody has so much to say about it." This opened the way, and after rehearsing some of the leading points she said: "If it's a book like that you may bring it, for I have often wondered what was to become of the heathen, anyway!" I recorded her order, and in leaving was just in time to catch a glimpse of my adversary leaving another house. I was soon in the presence of the "lady of the house," who at once advised me that I was wasting time at her house with the book; that when she wanted to read Ingersoll she would procure his works! I said, "Now, lady, why don't you want [R2523 : page 224] my book? I am sure it contains heart-satisfying and mind-catching explanations of the very things you wish to know about, and concerning which you have inquired of your minister and others many times, only to be left in the dark. You have, I am sure, been all your life querying respecting how the death of your Redeemer and the love and justice of God can and will affect the heathen. How and what will be the general judgment? When and how God's Kingdom will come and his will be done on earth as it is in heaven? Why God has permitted evil so wide an influence? etc. You have never found satisfactory answers to these questions, but can have them now in the MILLENNIAL DAWN. Besides, a lady of your intelligence should read for herself, as I am sure you do." "Well," said she, "bring me the first volume, and if it holds out, I will have the rest." I thanked her, adding, "I am confident you will have all the books. You do not look like a woman who will abide having her reading matter selected for her. The book may cut the corners of your creed, but"—. "I don't care anything about the creed, I never read the creed! I don't know it. Bring me all the books! How much are they?" she interrupted.
It is strange how little mental and moral independence some people have! Yet, there are instances where some go to extremes with what they do possess. For instance, in this town of Washington is a beautiful college building filled with the young of both sexes. The learned "Doctor" who presides over the institution, told Brother Barbour, who was presenting the claims of DAWN, that when he was a young man the question of the second coming of Christ troubled him very much. But as he grew in years and wisdom (?) the question did not bother him any more, and said: "I have absolutely no interest in the question of the second coming of Christ, and do not wish anything to do with the question." "No, young man, I don't want your book."
Altho I have been a minister of the gospel for nearly a quarter of a century and thought I knew something about matters and things, yet I realize that much of that service, tho rendered in all good conscience, seems to have been worse than wasted, for evidently my conceptions of the character and work of God were to a considerable extent decidedly wrong. Now with more correct and enlightened views of the lengths and breadths, and heights and depths of the justice, wisdom, love and power of our Heavenly Father, I am glad to avail myself of this new ministry which enables me to leave from sixteen to fifty printed sermons with the truth-hungry with whom I meet.