Many, many times have I been going to write to you, both last year and this year, but did not like to trouble you with any of our depressing affairs. I did once mention something to you of our troubles, but always hoped that we would have good news to tell you, and thus delayed writing till now.
But although we cannot rejoice in worldly prosperity, we do rejoice in Christ Jesus and in the fact that he died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that through Christ we are strengthened and enabled to rejoice in all that passes over us, knowing that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose, and may we be amongst that number.
Being made perfect through suffering is a wonderful providence of the Lord. I saw very clearly and quickly God's "plan of the ages," and rejoiced in it and at once came out from human organizations, and rejoiced to be counted worthy to suffer anything in connection therewith, but to go through these last two years were altogether unlooked for, and from our view point would seem in no way satisfactory either toward God or man, and although our way has thus been hedged in, and our whole course changed, and that not by our own doing or choosing but rather the opposite, nevertheless I see that unless there were a need for it, in some way, it would not have been permitted. I now see it is no light matter to essay to take up the Ark of God, or to put one's hand thereto. That those who will ascend into the hill of God must have clean hands and a pure heart. That one must be very sensible of God's preserving care and fully realize the meaning of the Lord's prayer, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, or the Evil One." That those who are actively engaged in the Lord's harvest work need great encouragement and strengthening of their hands in God. When thinking on these things I determined that I would no longer refrain from writing you, for fear that my long silence might cause you anxiety of mind, rather than peace of mind, as I intended. And now, dear brother, I desire to express to you my great appreciation of all the helps and blessings which the Lord has sent us through your hands. Every Tower would seem to be more blessed than another. That article in last Tower, "Finally, be all of one mind," showing forth the proper use of combativeness on one's self was simply grand. I thanked and praised God after reading it. Pray for us that we may receive "mercy of the Lord," and be led in such a way as that we will be to God's glory in being made useful in His great cause, and dwell in His house forever. May the Lord preserve you from all evil and keep you as the apple of His eye and that you may be more than Conqueror for His own name's sake.
In a recent Tower you say, "Thenceforth it is the business of the 'new creature' in Christ to use up in the divine service, as wisely, economically, and yet rapidly as possible, all the earthly things" etc. This puzzled me on the first and second readings, for I thought, Why, our Lord ate and slept, and rested sometimes, and so does Brother Russell. I could use up the 'old creature' much more rapidly than I am doing, but I surely ought not to do anything suicidal. A third reading brought it straight for me,—such haste would not be for the best interests of the Lord's work,—even my little portion. It would not be sacrificing "wisely, economically." Then the text came to mind, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord." I must go neither too slow nor must I outrun my Guide. Not being yet made ready, the Lord hath in mind even for me, certain experiences and provings necessary for development in Christ-likeness, and I want them every one. Also, my blind aunt greatly needs me as yet, and I ought not to hasten too fast but keep my nerves and temper in condition to serve her acceptably. So I pray the Lord, "Order my steps in Thy Word!" And I believe He will.
I was first attracted to this message by my sister, Mrs. Lee,—whom we believe now to be with our Lord; and since her death, I too, have given up all I have or hope for, respecting earthly things for joint-heirship in God's kingdom.
I do thank you for the helpful words and sound doctrines found in the columns of your journal. My prayer is for you to obtain grace, wisdom and strength to feed us unto the end of the church's journey through the wilderness of sin.
I want to write and tell you how I am rejoicing in the truth to-day: the blessed truth as it is in Jesus. Words cannot tell of the peace that fills my heart, since I have come to understand the full meaning of the glad tidings, of which the angels sang at our Lord's first advent.
At twenty-one years of age, I was converted, and joined the M.E. Church; but I was always so troubled about the eternal torment of those who did not seek and serve the Lord, many of whom I knew to be really better in life than the majority of church members. For years I struggled to believe it just and right, against my own heart's protest, because orthodoxy said so, and finally I had to put it out of my mind, or lose my faith in the love and mercy of God. About three years ago, I went to visit friends in the country, and while there a booklet entitled "The Old Theology" was given me, which set me to thinking and proving its truth by God's Word.
The light began to dawn on my heart and soon the tract, "What the Scriptures say about Hell," was given me by dear Brother L., together with "Tabernacle Shadows of Better Sacrifices," and Watch Towers from time to time. I saw more and more of the wonderful love and mercy of God in the gift of Jesus, a Savior to bless not only the few, but all, all. And in answer to my constant prayer that I might understand the real truth, the light has filled my soul; and, praise the Lord, the truth makes me free indeed!
I had been a teacher in Sunday-school for years, but soon I was made to understand forcibly that no such doctrine could be tolerated there. They urged me to remain and believe as I wished, but keep it to myself; but I could not teach a class, what I knew was false doctrine, so sent in my resignation. Then came the most bitter denunciations from the pulpit of such (as the pastor called it) damnable heresy. I withdrew from the membership of the church, and since that time I have had an unutterable peace. How glad I am to be free from the cruel bondage of creeds, and forms, which now are meaningless to me.
I have been a reader of the Watch Tower for the last year, through the kindness of a dear brother who subscribed for me. It has been such a help and comfort to me and after I read it I have sent it by mail, and have given it personally to those whom I felt would be helped into the light by it. I have also been giving out the tracts and booklets from the Bible House, as I want to scatter the seed which has cleared away the false ideals of "Sectarianism" from my own heart.