OUR dear Brother Randle, formerly a Baptist missionary in China, has been with us at Allegheny for about a month, and we have learned to love him dearly as one of the Lord's "brethren." He has written for the TOWER a little sketch of his recent experiences in receiving the Truth and of his efforts to let it shine forth in turn to others. We know it will be appreciated. The brother's depth of interest is well attested by his long journey of 16,000 miles to Allegheny. He proposes spending the remainder of his earthly life in sounding the Jubilee Trumpet—the Gospel of the Kingdom. He will probably select Great Britain, his former home, as his future field for harvest work—preaching, and colporteuring the DAWNS.
Before leaving this country he has consented to do some "Pilgrim" work. He is now visiting a number of little gatherings in Ohio and western Pennsylvania, and later on will meet with the churches at Washington, Baltimore, Richmond, Philadelphia, New York City, etc., including some on the Hudson River. We confidently assure him a most hearty welcome from all WATCH TOWER readers he may be permitted to meet. His article follows:
There has been in China for years one solitary witness for the present truth, Miss Downing, of Chefoo. This lady was formerly a missionary of the Presbyterian Board and she chanced to meet with a stray WATCH TOWER, about the year 1883, in which she read an article on restitution, and at once decided to subscribe for the paper. She was the means of leading Mr. Fuller (whose letter is published at the end of VOL. III.) to study the DAWNS which proved so great a blessing to him. He died in 1894.
Amongst the missionaries of Shantung I am afraid Sister Downing was considered a queer old lady having some odd notions. She prevailed on me, however, to subscribe in 1892 for the WATCH TOWER and to get the Diaglott. The latter I much wanted. I read a little here and there in the TOWER, but too rashly concluded that it was the organ of some kind of universalism, which I did not want to corrupt my orthodoxy, so threw them aside.
I was too much afraid of the word "Universalism." Now I know that some things are universal. God's sunshine is universal; it shines from pole to pole, upon both the just and the unjust. So is his [R2633 : page 150] love. (John 3:16.) Light and truth are yet to be universal (John 1:9; Isaiah 11:9), and so is the testimony of the ransom. (1 Tim. 2:6; John 12:32.) Because of my prejudice then I continued four years longer in darkness.
Toward the end of that time I saw MILLENNIAL DAWN advertised in the London Times, and having been interested for years in the Lord's return, I had a growing desire to read that book. In the summer of 1896 Miss Downing lent me VOL. I., but a day or two later I received another copy from England, sent to me (without my request) by my dear mother. I returned Miss Downing her copy, and starting for my mission station, four days journey from Chefoo, I first read the PLAN OF THE AGES in a mule-litter. It wonderfully opened my eyes, and I became more and more astonished at the beautiful Bible exegesis it revealed. Later on I received VOLS. II. and III., and continued to read with admiration. In November of the same year I wrote my first letter to Allegheny, asking for the TOWER, and more information of any kind along the same lines. After reading the three volumes myself, I read them again with my wife, and afterwards with my children, and God has been graciously pleased to lead both my wife and my eldest daughter into a joyous reception of the present truth.
In 1897 I began to speak with my missionary colleagues about the character of the Judgment Day, for I was rejoicing in the strong consolation it gave me to see that God's purposes regarding the heathen—to give them a gracious and full opportunity to enter into life—were infinitely more grand and beneficent than I had ever dreamed.
When the question of the Trinity loomed up it gave me a temporary shock, but I soon saw that I should neither honor the Father nor the Son by making the Lord Jesus more than the Bible clearly teaches, when examined without prejudice: and I recognized not only that all men should "honor the Son even as they honor the Father," but also that it was the supreme will of the Father to have it so.
In 1898, being persuaded that this testimony is from God, and is in conflict with nominal Christianity, I did not consider it necessary to confer with flesh and blood, but resigned my connection with both the Baptist Church and the Mission Board with which I was connected. Being now free from the creeds and traditions of men my first desire was to tell to others [R2633 : page 151] the truth that had given me such comfort and joy.
I was able to hold about a dozen meetings among missionaries in several stations, but my principal effort to reach the missionaries of the far East had to be done by correspondence, for they are scattered over thousands of miles of country, in some 500 different stations. For this purpose I had a circular letter printed (a copy of which appeared in the TOWER, June 15, 1899, page 157). To each of these letters we added something further in writing, and enclosing one or more tracts, sent them all out by letter post, which we considered to be much more likely to command a reading than if the whole thing had been printed and sent out as printed matter. In all we despatched the following:—1847 to missionaries in China; 385 to missionaries in Japan; 72 to missionaries in Corea; 20 to missionaries in Siam, etc.; making a total of 2324. The number of tracts sent out was about 5000.
The vast majority ignored our appeal. This we fully expected, for we know that many are much too full of work for the Lord to hear him speaking to them. Still many replies were received, varying much in tone and spirit. No less than four accused me of blasphemy. One Doctor of Divinity thought I had lost my head; one predicted that I had begun to drift toward infidelity. Some deplored my departure from the faith, while yet others, more kindly in intention, begged me to return to the simplicity of the gospel; but none of them knew the pearl of great price I had found.
One wrote to me thus:—"I am very grieved that you should have been so led away by the wicked one, and would solemnly urge you not to become one of Satan's agents, and a 'seducing spirit.'...We are living in perilous times, and I would warn you to beware of him who not only goeth about as a roaring lion, but also as an angel of light." Another wrote:—"It is just as Paul told Timothy, evil men will wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. I am so sorry to think that you, Dr. Randle, are one who is being deceived by these evil men." These are both personal and esteemed friends, from whom, as from many more, I am now counted alienated. May the Lord deal very graciously with them.
Others wrote thankfully, and showed their readiness for the harvest message. A well-educated Chinese woman wrote:—"I have been reading the tracts you so kindly left me, first with interest, then with delight, and I feel so much happier than I have been for a long time; the more I read the more I want to read and the more light I get, but there is still much I want to know. I would like to have MILLENNIAL DAWN and the pamphlet on Hell. If you tell me how to send the money I will be ever so much obliged."
In all we sold 90 DAWNS and 38 pamphlets on Hell, Tabernacle Shadows, etc. One missionary, a young man who bought the four volumes, and has learned to appreciate and love the precious truths therein expounded, came out from Brethrenism, and is now standing alone in North China, bearing his testimony for the present truth. Four other missionaries are reading and studying the DAWNS with joy and profit, but have not yet come out of Babylon, which is to them no easy thing. I was also able to leave 25 volumes in Shanghai for further sale, and will be able to send more out if required, so that I trust the harvest work in the far East may continue to develop, until all shall have received at least some testimony to the light of present truth.
How true it is that the vast majority of the household of faith have no ear to hear the harvest message! As it was in Christ's first presence, so it is now. Immersed in their own work, many are preaching in his name, and doing wonderful works for him (Matt. 7:22), and yet they are as blind and deaf as the Pharisees of old, neither knowing nor doing the will of their Father in heaven. It is a strait gate indeed, and a narrow way, and verily few are finding the life they lead to. May we never cease to humbly and diligently inquire what is the Father's will concerning us, and abiding in Christ, that we may receive his spirit, may we be enabled not only to do that will, but also to see the loving-kindness that is in it!