SINCE the sending forth of the double number of our journal last issue, the "Volunteer" enlistments have increased wonderfully. The dear friends of the truth everywhere seem to think that if that issue is to be the "ammunition" used by the Volunteers the results will be momentous; hence many are anxious to enlist in the service which promises nothing of earthly fame or reward, but large appreciation by the Captain of our salvation, and large rewards in the world to come.
There are probably as many as a hundred colored brethren on the Watch Tower lists, some of them very clear in the truth, and very earnest in its service, financially and otherwise. We have received letters from several of these, who had intended engaging in the Volunteer work, expressing surprise that in the call for Volunteers in the March 1st issue we restricted the inquiry to white Protestant churches. They rightly realized that we have not the slightest of race prejudice, and that we love the colored brethren with just the same warmth of heart that we love the white, and they queried therefore why such a distinction should be made in the call. The reason is that so far as we are able to judge, colored people have less education than whites—many of them quite insufficient to permit them to profit by such reading as we have to give forth. Our conclusion therefore is based upon the supposition that reading matter distributed to a colored congregation would more than half of it be utterly wasted, and a very small percentage indeed likely to yield good results. We advise, therefore, that where the Watch Tower literature is introduced to colored people it be not by promiscuous circulation, but only to those who give evidence of some ear for the truth.
We avoid, so far as possible, putting the pearls of present truth into the hands of the vicious and depraved, whites as well as blacks. Wherever we have reason to believe that people love sin rather than righteousness, we have no desire to remove from their minds any of the shackles which ignorance and superstition have put upon them; rather, we would leave [R2619 : page 122] them bound until, in the Millennial age, when these shackles shall all be removed, they will be under the strong hand of a strong governor, who will recompense every iniquity as well as every effort toward righteousness.
Similarly, the exclusion of Roman Catholic churches was not intended as any slight upon the people connected with them, for whom we have only the greatest good will and best wishes. Nor did it indicate that we thought none of the Roman Catholics amenable to the truth, for, on the contrary, there are quite a number of very zealous friends of the truth who were reared in Catholicism; indeed, only last Sunday (April 1st) at our meeting in the Bible House Chapel, four Roman Catholics made public profession of faith in the Redeemer and of full consecration to him, and symbolized it in water immersion. We excluded Roman Catholic churches from the Volunteer service because the vast majority of their attendants are either too ignorant or too bigoted to read and think for themselves. True, much of this would apply also to Protestants; but the percentage of hopefuls amongst the latter is so much greater as to justify, we think, the enormous expense involved in this circulation of free reading matter at the churches throughout this country.
The Volunteer service is open to all of the Lord's dear people, brethren and sisters, white and colored, who have a desire thus to serve the great Captain of our salvation, and to help deliver their "brethren" from the bondage of Babylon into the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free from sectarianism, superstition and every yoke of bondage. Nor do we desire to place this service as a yoke or burden upon any, but as the word indicates, it is only for "Volunteers." We believe that the Lord would not have any conscriptions or drafts connected with his service. As to whether or not this is a way in which you can serve the Lord's [R2619 : page 123] cause is not for us but for you to decide. We merely give you our opinion, that this is one of the best means of serving the truth—preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom—breaking the chains of error that are upon the "brethren"—honoring the name and character of our heavenly Father, and extolling the great redemption accomplished by Jesus our Saviour. It is a "harvest" work, in that it is gathering to the Lord his true people,—gathering them out of the various sects—not into another sect, but into heart-union with the Lord and with all who are at-one with him through oneness of spirit, engendered by love of the truth.
We are expecting great results from the Volunteer service this year, and those who engage in it to any degree will, we believe, look back with great pleasure to their share in it. But regardless of how much blessing may come to others by this service, we are convinced that great blessings are coming to the Lord's people, through the self-denial and cross-bearing which this Volunteer service implies. The bringing of our hearts into such a condition of devotion to the Master means a spiritual blessing and a character-development which surely will be great aids in the attainment of the Kingdom. However, to his own master each servant stands or falls, and we are to remember not to judge or offend one another, but rather to assist each other.
In harmony with this we are quite willing to cooperate with all the Lord's dear people in whichever of the various methods of serving the truth they may decide to be the most appropriate and best suited to their circumstances, conditions, zeal, etc. We will therefore not restrict this "ammunition" to the Volunteer work at the churches, but will supply it freely to others, for use amongst their friends, or in any manner that they may be able to use it. For instance, some have already sent us in numerous addresses of persons whom they have reason to believe might be amenable to the influence of the truth, and others have gotten extras for loaning amongst their friends and neighbors. While these may not be strictly counted in amongst the Volunteers, we may consider them a kind of sharpshooters and "guerillas."
Those who wish us to mail samples to their friends direct from our office should write the addresses on wrappers of about the size we use in mailing the Watch Tower (twelve by eight inches—the address to be written lengthwise of the sheet, and about one and a half inches from the top), and these addressed wrappers should be mailed to us, a postal card accompanying them in explanation. The harvest is great, the laborers are few comparatively, and the wages promised by the Master are enormous—"glory, honor and immortality" to the faithful.
Your success, and the kind of a reception you receive when circulating the truth, will in many instances depend largely upon your own manner. It is an old saying that "Like begets like," and if you go forth with your hearts full of love for the dear "brethren" whom you seek to serve, and if previous to starting you go on your knees to the Lord to ask his blessing upon yourselves, as his servants, and upon your effort in his service, praying for wisdom, grace and a fulness of his spirit of love, your manner will not be bold and blatant; but kind, courteous, humble, yet withal courageous, for you are there as a brother on the business of the Elder Brother, the King, and have nothing whatever to be ashamed of.
Your mission is both honorable and laudable. It is an appeal, not to the passions and prejudices of the people, but to their intellects and their hearts. This kind of preaching is as honorable as that done from the platform; yea, much more honorable, for many ministers are confessing in public from time to time, and to their shame, that for years they have been preaching, contrary to their consciences, a God-dishonoring, inconsistent, unreasonable and unscriptural message. They have been charging good round salaries for this falsification and defamation, while you, on the contrary, as a true minister of the Lord and the truth, not only serve to others "meat in due season" from the Master's table, but do it with good conscience, and without earthly reward or any hope of name or fame.
One dear brother, whose letter appears in this issue, had the "Dawn" in his possession, but was too prejudiced to study it, until he witnessed a "Volunteer distribution" at a church he attended, and saw amongst the Volunteers one whom he recognized as the head of a large mercantile business. He said to himself at once, "There is something real and tangible about the faith of these Christian people, and I must study the literature to find the basis of such self-denial and cross-bearing." He did investigate, and as a result is now a Volunteer himself. He is a man of college education, good natural ability, fills a fine position, and is not ashamed of the Lord, nor of the word of his grace, which has established his own heart and given him a faith and a hope beyond all compare. His present aspirations are, to be humble and faithful until death, and then to be a sharer, a joint-heir with the Lord in his Millennial Kingdom, which shall bless the world.
In addition to meekness and love, manifested in look, in word and in act, we advise the dear Volunteers to keep a reasonable distance away from church edifices whose congregations they seek to serve. A reasonable distance will, of course, depend somewhat upon circumstances. A quarter or a half block would not be too distant, if thereby the people could be well served. Of course, no one should take offence at a gratuitous distribution of spiritual food directly at the church door; yet experience shows that some do take offence at this, and feel as did the Pharisees of old respecting the Lord's message, when they asked, "Are we blind also?" It is well to avoid arousing prejudice. Our ammunition is not intended to wound, to hurt, to kill, but to do good, to comfort, to inspire with new Christian life and hope.
We have decided to discontinue the general Volunteer circulation of the "Bible versus Evolution" pamphlet, and to use this Volunteer number everywhere instead. Consequently all the new recruits to this Volunteer service will be supplied with the new ammunition, and the various companies may get together at once and, through one of their number, appointed as secretary or lieutenant, communicate with us, informing us respecting the number of Protestant white churches, and so far as they may be able to judge, the average attendance at each, and the number [R2619 : page 124] of Volunteers with their names. The Captain-General of our forces is the Lord Jesus, under whose banner alone we are enrolled, and whose cause alone we serve.