WE WELL KNOW how the dear friends of the Truth watch for these annual reports. Recognizing that the Lord of the harvest is using the TOWER office as a kind of headquarters for the reaping work now in progress this side the vail, they are deeply concerned, not only respecting their own services in their own quarters, but also respecting the entire field as seen from this vantage point. Believing that such an interest is pleasing to the Lord and profitable to his people, we shall do our best to satisfy it.
(1) The general aspect of the work is favorable. The little gatherings for worship and study of the Word are more numerous and better attended than [R3119 : page 375] ever: and still better than this, the general spiritual condition of the flock is favorable; even the financial prosperity of the year—an insidious foe to spiritual development—has not prevented a great increase of love and zeal for the Lord and his Word and his brethren. We rejoice in this far more than in the items below, indicating the activity displayed by you all in the circulation of the harvest message: nevertheless, it should not be forgotten that the two are intimately related; for as it is the zeal that leads to the service, so also does service inspire fresh zeal in ourselves as well as in others.
But while thus rejoicing, let us take heed: let us remember that our Adversary is still on the alert, and that so long as he is "the prince of this world" it will be an "evil world," an enemy's country to all true followers of the Lamb until we shall be "changed" or until Satan's rule shall be fully overthrown and our Immanuel shall have full sway. Our Lord, through his Word, forewarns us to expect that neither Satan nor the systems of men organized under his supervision, or more or less controlled by him, will yield peaceably to the new rule; but must be overthrown by Christ after a violent struggle;—during which Satan will be forced to appear "as an angel of light" in order to perpetuate the delusions wherewith he has so long deceived the whole world—putting light for darkness, and darkness for light.—Compare Rev. 20:3; [R3120 : page 375] 16:13,14; 13:15; I Tim. 4:1; 2 Thess. 2:9-12.
While we see good evidences pointing to continued prosperity for the Truth during the new year just opening, we note many evidences that it is likely to be a year of severe testing. These evidences are more general, as well as more particular, than heretofore; and it is our duty to give a note of warning to all the watchers—putting them on guard against our Adversary; for "we are not ignorant of his devices." (2 Cor. 2:11.) One of his old "devices" (new, however, to some) is his denial (through his agents—and he always secures and uses the best servants he can for his mouthpieces,—Rom. 6:16) of his own existence. He comes in a garment of "light;" saying, Your ideas of an old devil are all wrong—a part of the general delusion from which all the intelligent people of our day are getting free—Higher Critics, Evolutionists, Christian Scientists, and the educated world all now admit this, and you must not lag behind in the mire of error. Never mind the Bible's numerous references to a personal devil and a host of demons who occasionally were cast, by the Lord and his apostles, out of those "possessed." Take my word for it; and pay no attention to Jesus' declaration that I was "a murderer from the beginning and abode not in the truth;" nor to the Apostles' warning that I would deceive and palm myself off as a minister of the light, denying my former self and practices and, instead, working miracles to deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.
Another device in line with the foregoing yet strictly new, is that Satan has become a worker of miracles. This is a token that his "house" is tottering to its fall—else it would not need support so opposed to the general policy of Satan—as our Lord declared, If Satan cast out Satan his house is divided against itself and cannot long stand. (Mark 3:23-26; Matt. 12:26.) He has long palmed himself off as a teacher—a light-bearer, clothed in light; but Satan in the role of faith-healer is a novelty belonging chiefly to our day—though, undoubtedly, he has had to do with the relic-miracles of Papacy for centuries. The worshiping of a relic-bone of St. Anne or of the "holy shroud" or of a "nail from the cross" served for less intelligent people in a less intelligent epoch; but now, and amongst more enlightened people, faith and prayer are more apt to deceive, and he is using and blessing these, and thus attracting the attention of people away from the Truth which is now dawning gradually upon nominal "Christendom."
Do we deny that "faith cures" are performed by "Christian Scientists" and "Mormons" and "Spiritualists" and "Mesmerists" and "Hypnotists" and "Magnetists" and "Comeouters" and "Christian Allianceists" and "Elijahites"? Surely no one can deny that some cures are performed by all these systems; and just as surely none can deny that earnest, well-meaning people are to be found in all of these systems. Perhaps some of the "very elect" are in them and deluded by Satan's substitution of darkness for light; if so, we may be sure that the Lord will use some means for their deliverance;—we should be glad if he would so use this very item of warning.
We cannot blame "the groaning creation" for desiring relief from pain and death; and we are glad that we can point them to the real relief which God has provided, so near at hand;—the Millennial Kingdom. We cannot wonder, however, if the poor world in gross darkness fails to see coming restitution clearly enough to trust in it and wait for it; but we should expect that the New Creation, begotten of the spirit, would see that the general blessing and removal of the curse is not due until the great Day of Atonement (the Gospel age) is fully ended and the Sons of God, the "very elect," are all glorified with their Lord and Head. These, the saints taught of God, should clearly see that now is not the time for restitution, but still the time for sacrificing; and accordingly should joyfully suffer with Christ as members of his body and not ask back the physical powers exchanged in consecration for spiritual hopes and promises. If [R3120 : page 376] our wily adversary could get us all to coveting and striving for physical healing and comfort, and to teaching such a gospel to others, it would please him and serve his purposes; for time and thought spent thus would be turned aside from spiritual interests and studies and efforts. Restitution hopes and efforts, which will be in order for the world very soon now, are surely not the hopes or ambitions of the Church called out of the world during this age to be "living sacrifices"—to lay down their lives and become "dead with him."
It will be noted that we are not condemning those who in the various systems "perform many wonderful works," but not by divine power. (Matt. 7:22,23.) Nor are we blaming those who have sought and found relief—they only followed a natural course. And if they gave God thanks for the healing, they have the same blessing as though God had performed the cure. If sincere, however, to learn better will mean that they will not accept healings from such sources again. What we now desire to do is to save some from being ensnared by these false doctrines by pointing out that none of these channels of healing give evidence that they are such as God would probably choose. To our understanding, Satan uses faith-healings as bait to catch the Lord's people and turn them away from the Truth.
"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free;" and "he that doeth truth cometh to the light," are our Lord's declarations. "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief;" is the Apostle Paul's prediction. (John 8:32; 3:21; I Thess. 5:4.) Excuse may well be made for those who lived and died before the dawning began; but for those now living and continually brought in contact with the light of present truth, what shall we conclude? We must conclude that if servants at all they are such as know not what their Lord doeth; such, therefore, as we should not regard either as favored sons or favored servants of God, as our Lord explains.—John 15:15.
Viewed thus, all of these doers of "many wonderful works in Christ's name" (Matt. 7:22) lack the proper credentials, in that they do not have the Truth, which they surely would have if they were in the Lord's favor and confidence. Worse than this, the vast majority of them are Christless—deniers of the ransom, its necessity and its results—as well as blind to the light of present truth. The Elijahites are deceived into an anti-Christ position similar to that of Papacy; for while the latter's pontiff poses as Christ's representative and substitute in ruling authority, and misapplies prophecies of Christ's kingly power and authority to the popes,* the Elijahites similarly misapply to their leader the prophecies which refer to our Lord and the glorified Church, as the great "Prophet like unto Moses" (Acts 3:22,23), and the "Messenger of the Covenant," whose mission, in the flesh, failing of turning the hearts of fathers and children will result in the "smiting of the earth with a curse"—"a time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."+—Mal. 4:6; Dan. 12:1.
The Christian Allianceists are thick in the medieval darkness, teaching eternal torment and various other blasphemies and falsehoods. The "Christian Scientists" repudiate all sin, and, hence, all redemption from sin, and thus plainly show that they have neither part nor lot with Christ or his message or power. The Spiritualists similarly deny the foundations of Biblical faith.
The Mormons teach a transmigration of soul, and, hence, deny Adam as the head of the race; hence, deny the death sentence on all mankind through him; hence, cannot logically hold the Scriptural theory that all die in Adam's sentence and were redeemed by Christ's sacrifice.
What reason have we to expect that the power of healing manifested in these variously blinded peoples is of Christ? None whatever. Indeed, they each brand the other as deluded servants of Satan, and we see no reason to doubt that this is true of them all to a greater or less extent. The Lord instructs us to put this test, saying: "The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him, and he will show them his covenant." (Psa. 25:14.) Do any of these miracle-workers see the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the divine plan and covenant? Surely not, else they would be with us heart and voice, declaring the "good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people."—Luke 2:10.
The signs by which the Gospel age was introduced to fleshly Israel were such as would appeal to sincere natural men,—physical blessings typical of greater things in the Kingdom. The signs with which the new dispensation now appeals to spiritual Israelites are spiritual signs, or proofs—the opening of the eyes and ears of our hearts to discern in God's plan wonderful things which the natural man cannot appreciate. Let those whose chief desire is for physical blessings and healings take these; Satan will be pleased thus to turn them aside;—to turn their faces from the direction of the rising Sun of Righteousness and the great and perpetual blessings which God proposes, to transient expedients and creature consolations, encouraging the thoughts that such physical gains are evidences of godliness or evidences of divine favor. The New Creatures in Christ will follow the footsteps of self-sacrifice [R3121 : page 377] and rejoice in the evidences of God's favor which the Scriptures warrant. It is our understanding that these delusions will be so strong as to deceive all except the elect, who will be kept by their clearer knowledge of the divine plan. It is our duty to sound the alarm, the warning, the caution, even though we know that some will, nevertheless, be led away from their own steadfastness. Our warning is that the coming year means much of trial and testing along these lines and that zeal in studying and in serving the truth is the only position of safety for any of us. The question of the Apostle is apropos, "Who shall be able to stand?" Let all who have tasted that the Lord is gracious,—all to whom he has shown his covenant, stand shoulder to shoulder with each other and with the Lord, in defense of the Truth and in aid of one another. Thus standing, the opening year will surely result favorably to us.
This is an important branch of the service—our "Correspondence School." The BIBLE is our text book, the DAWNS and TOWERS are our comments, explanations, etc., and our mail department enables us to point out and emphasize misunderstood parts of the instruction. We believe, however, that the references and indexes in the new "Watch Tower Bibles" will decrease the written communications by enabling students to find answers to their queries in DAWNS and TOWERS. During the present year we received 42,375 letters and cards, and sent out 40,601.
We are always glad of your letters; many a time their kind, encouraging words have come like a cup of cold water in a dry and thirsty land. Some, indeed, are filled with acrimony, and would cause us pain and discouragement did not the Lord's grace and truth sustain us and show us that Satan and ignorance are the real assailants and that the vail of ignorance and power of Satan will soon be cast aside and trampled upon.—Rom. 16:20.
The postal ruling which seemed likely to greatly interrupt the work has really proved a blessing: it led us to renewed efforts to reduce the cost of the clothbound DAWNS, which efforts were very successful. And these, in turn, are so much more attractive that the general sales of DAWNS this year are above our highest previous standard—over 93,000 copies of Vol. I. alone, and of all volumes, over 128,000. The total sales of booklets for the year are nearly 56,000. The zeal for colporteuring is increasing, and we hear from many who are seeking to adjust their affairs so as to be ready to engage in this evangelistic service by spring. If these hopes are realized, it will increase the above large figures nearly one-half. Our printers are increasing their facilities to keep pace with the demand. We know of no field of service yielding better results than this one; besides, many of these books, little cared for now, will, doubtless, be a helping hand for many in the time of trouble.
The showing here is equally good;—evidencing great zeal for the Master and his Word amongst TOWER readers, some of whom circulate the message at depots, some on trains and ferryboats and street cars; some privately and some by mail. The blessings are surely as great to those who give as to those who receive them. Total distributed during the year, 1,895,435.
The Volunteer work with the WATCH TOWER is a part of the same tract work and it alone amounted to 1,512,538, or a total of both of nearly three and a half million pieces. This would represent 122,432,732 tract pages. This is a grand showing, in which we may all rejoice.
Is it any wonder that those who attest their loyalty to the Lord and his message thus publicly should have a special blessing at his hand in return? No; it is in full accord with the Lord's general dealings. Them who honor him he will honor; them who confess him he will own and confess; they who water others shall themselves be watered. Not only are those congregations which have done volunteering most persistently, in the most robust condition, but those brethren and sisters who have courageously shown their colors are amongst the most clear and most staunch in the truth. How glad all will be when in the future they look back and note the little services and sacrifices they were privileged to make, as an expression to their Lord of their love for him and for his brethren!
The Lord willing, we will have some fresh Volunteer matter for next year—ready in the spring. We suggest that the various "Captains" send in reports for the year, to January 1, as soon as possible; and that enlistments for next year be recorded and a new election of Captains take place as soon as possible.
This work is still growing, and we are continually seeing new evidences that the Lord is owning and blessing it to the spiritual welfare of his dear flock. The announcements of routes, etc., in each issue of the TOWER tends to quicken the general interest, too: the solitary ones can now not only think of and mentally fellowship with the Allegheny Church and at the One Day Conventions, but also in spirit, travel with each of the dear Pilgrims and gather with the [R3121 : page 378] various bands of hope and love in sundry quarters.
During the past year the "Pilgrim" service of the Society has been administered through twenty-one brethren, who have visited 1208 places, held 1335 public meetings and 2057 parlor meetings, covering a total of 117,746 miles. This record includes the Editor's One Day Conventions and General Conventions. The interest in the "Pilgrim" meetings is steadily increasing, and many of the friends are learning to cooperate with us by appointing some one of their number to send us their request for visits, with particulars, which we now request, for 1903, on page 383 of this issue. In a couple of instances the local leader has seemed a little jealous of the "Pilgrims," and fearful that their superior knowledge or ability or influence would discount his own and undermine it. This is wrong every way: vainglory has no proper place in the hearts of the Lord's true people; and it should be mortified. The "Pilgrims" are humble and earnest, and clear in the truth—on the fundamentals, at least—otherwise they could not represent this Society or travel under its auspices. They will never be found trespassing on the rights of the congregations visited; but, on the contrary, conservators of the peace and liberty of all. Welcome them as Ambassadors of the Great King.
Remember that these services are entirely free, traveling expenses and all; and that no collections are ever taken up by them. The Society meets every expense—except food and lodging, which the friends at each place are always glad to provide. Your donations to the fund, and ours, are the Lord's provision, by which, in this manner, much good is, we believe, being accomplished. We again repeat, as last year, our suggestion that one half or more of the sessions be Parlor Meetings,—specially for the interested.
The Conventions—Annual and One-Day—are evidently entrenching themselves in the esteem of those who love the truth, and who love to "speak often one to another." The Lord still hearkens, too, and still pours out blessings as of yore—abundant and spiritual blessings. (Mal. 3:16,17.) These gatherings are expensive, both as to time and traveling expense, and, therefore, all cannot enjoy their privileges: however, all do share their blessings; for we have good evidence that those attending carry back blessings to those at home. We will D.V. continue these during the year 1903. Locations have not yet been decided upon: these will be announced in due season in the TOWER.
After reviewing the figures foregoing, and rendering thanks to God for the privilege enjoyed in the service by so many of us—including all who have shared in any degree in this wide circulation of the good tidings—we naturally ask, What has all this cost, in money, additional to the free labor bestowed by so many? You will be surprised that it could be done for so modest a sum. You would be astounded if you could compare these figures and results with those of other Tract Societies.
For Pilgrim expenses..........$ 4,621.08
" Publishing matter,
circulated free........... 13,983.51
" Expense, Insurance, etc.,
We request that all who in any manner have co-labored with us to the attainment of these results—either by contributing money or by circulating the literature, or both—will, after reading and digesting this Report, join with us in a prayer of thanksgiving to our Lord, the giver of every good, for the privileges enjoyed in his service.
I have much pleasure in sending you the enclosed report of the British Branch operations, and I am sure it will give pleasure to you also. From a perusal of the statement of Tracts circulated you will find that there is quite an increase on the figures of last year; and the same will be noticed from the figures relating to the DAWNS, nearly 2,000 more of these having been sold than were sold last year. I am sure you will be glad to note this increased activity on the part of the brethren here. The circulation of the DAWNS has increased despite the fact that the Colporteurs are less in number than last year. Much has been done through the year by those who have been able to devote only a little time to the work; sometimes this has meant that part of a holiday has been given to it; sometimes that the home work or home life has been arranged that time might be obtained. Much still remains to [R3122 : page 378] be done, and the time is short. Many of the large towns of England are practically untouched, either with Volunteer literature or DAWNS. We continually pray the Lord of the Harvest that he will send more labourers into the vineyard.
The Volunteer work, and the general distribution of tracts, has been eagerly pushed forward by the brethren, and, for their encouragement, we would say that the work is having an effect in gathering the Lord's "Jewels." You will see, too, that the donations to the Tract Fund show a considerable increase on the previous year, nearly L100 more being received than last year. I have already reported concerning some of these donations.
Besides the above increases, there is, as you will have noticed, a marked increase in the number of TOWER subscribers. As may be expected all this increase has not come from the immediate neighborhood of meeting places; the Truth is asserting itself here [R3122 : page 379] and there, gathering to it those whose hearts are so disposed. In Ireland, too, much literature has been scattered, chiefly in Dublin and Belfast. In the latter place a considerable amount of Colporteur work has been done. Our hearts are glad because of all the favor of God, and because the knowledge of him is increasing. For all the goodness that has been shown we are deeply thankful.
The Pilgrim visit of Bro. Hope Hay was very much enjoyed by all the friends. I am sure I speak for all when I say we should much appreciate a sight of yourself amongst us. We remember your promise to come on the first opportunity.
Expenditures. L s d
Deficit from last year.....................537 4 11
Paper, printing, postage, etc., on matter
circulated free...........................222 14 6
"Pilgrim" expenses......................... 50 15 0
Total....................................810 14 5
Receipts from Great Britain................268 15 9
Deficit..................................541 18 8
" sent out............................... 4,329
Total DAWNS sold............................... 17,668
" Booklets sold............................ 2,516
Tracts and Towers circulated free............670,200
Representing tract pages....................23,131,440