"ONWARD, Christian Soldiers," seems to be our Great Captain's command to our Society—in its every department. When recording the year's results each December we have been amazed at "what God hath wrought," so great results from so imperfect instrumentalities. We are continually reminded of the feeding of the five thousand on five barley loaves and two small fishes, and the twelve baskets full of fragments left over. Each yearly report we have feared would be our best; not seeing how the following year could be a favorable. And just so is this year's report: Excellent, splendid, better than we could have surmised. The Lord be praised! We do not see how 1904 can equal or surpass 1903, but past experiences lead us to expect greater and still greater blessings from the great Chief Reaper in his service.
One of the encouraging features of the work is, that the newly interested seem to grasp the Truth quickly, thoroughly, and with a self-consuming zeal which stimulates afresh those who have been longer in the way. As an instance we mention a young woman of less than twenty years who, during the Eaton-Russell Debates in October, fully consecrated her life to the Lord, set about a systematic study of the Dawn volumes, and so on, resolutely sacrificing the comforts of an elegant home, became a Colporteur, and began to carry the water of life to others fainting by the way. She realized herself to be an "eleventh hour" laborer, and besought the Lord for privileges and blessing in the vineyard. The language of her heart was expressed in the words of the hymn:
Did she succeed, you ask? Surely; where faith and zeal go hand in hand to the Lord for service he rarely if ever rejects them; guidance, direction, alone was needed, [R3287 : page 453] and we were privileged to supply it. As a result that sister is circulating from fourteen to forty volumes of Millennial Dawn daily—delivering from 200 to 600 sermons daily, reckoning each chapter a sermon.
Some seem to get a worldly view of this matter of Colporteuring, and think of it as unworthy the time and service of the well-to-do and educated;—well enough for those who have no other business or trade, or who have no capital wherewith to engage in "something better." The contrary view is the proper one, namely, that this in God's esteem is one of the most honorable services rendered in his name to the household of faith. As the "Pilgrim" brethren do the service of Elders, so the "Colporteurs" and "Volunteers" are doing the service of Deacons and Deaconesses. And the more education, refinement and natural ability are brought to the service, the greater number of talents invested, the greater are the possibilities of grand results to the glory of our King and the assistance of his "brethren." Those who feel that their talents are too many or too valuable to be used in the Lord's service, but not too valuable to be used in law or medicine or merchandising or other money-winning employment, do not properly value the privilege of laboring in the Vineyard—do not rightly value the great rewards promised to those who forsake all to have the privilege of Kingdom service and self-denial now, and of Kingdom glory by and by.
True, many long for such service, but are so handicapped by earthly obligations that they cannot do as they would—cannot engage in colporteuring—should not so engage. We doubt not that with these the Lord, who knoweth the heart, reckons to their credit all the self-sacrifices of this sort they would be glad to make if the conditions favored. But such will be active along some other lines of service for the Truth and the Brethren. Faithfulness in all possible ways will doubtless bring them eventually new doors of opportunity.
While increase of interest is to be noted all along the line, we accord first place to the Colporteur branch of the service. The figures given in the summary following will no doubt astonish all of our readers, the total sales of Dawns being nearly three times last year's total. These were nearly all in cloth binding, too, whereas last year the majority were in paper covers. The cloth binding is much better appreciated, better cared for and displayed; and thus does more good.
We have one hundred and forty-three Colporteurs at work now, with many additions promised as soon as they can arrange their affairs. They are a noble band, laboring not for the meat that perisheth merely, but specially for the present and the prospective joys of the Lord.
Many of the great men in history, who won fame and renown as statesmen, soldiers, authors and scientists, or gained a world-wide reputation in commercial life, laid the foundation of their greatness, perhaps gained that knowledge of men and human nature which is such a factor in great minds, by acting as canvassing agents. Napoleon Bonaparte, when a poor lieutenant, took the agency for a work entitled "L'Histoire de la Revolution." In the foyer of the great Palace of the Louvre can be seen to-day the Emperor's canvassing outfit, with the long list of subscribers he secured. George Washington, when young, canvassed around Alexandria, Va., and sold over two hundred copies of a work entitled "Bydell's American Savage." Mark Twain was a book agent. Longfellow sold books by subscription. Jay Gould, when starting in life, was a canvasser. Daniel Webster paid his second term's tuition at Dartmouth by handling "De Tocqueville's America," in Merrimac County, New Hampshire. Gen. U. S. Grant canvassed for Irving's "Columbus." James G. Blaine began life as a canvasser for a "Life of Henry Clay." Bismarck, when at Heidelberg, spent a vacation in canvassing for one of Blumenbach's handbooks. None of these, however, labored thus for the King of kings. None of these carried to their fellow creatures so precious a gospel. None of these invited saints in the name of the Lord to prepare for a share in the throne with their Redeemer, or sought thus by faithfulness to make their own calling and election sure by attesting their loving devotion to the Lord and his cause, to the sacrifice of some earthly privileges;—esteemed in comparison as but "loss and dross."
While the work has increased greatly during the past year and the Watch Tower's regular issues are now over 20,000, this, although very gratifying, seems less important to us, as we believe it is less important in the Lord's esteem than the evident increase in deep spirituality witnessed in so many ways—by the letters we receive, by the energy displayed, etc. We remark, by the way, that we continually receive evidences that there are thousands of interested Dawn readers who are not on the Tower list. Surely this ought not to be so. We should be in constant touch with all who are of like precious faith. Generally the reason given is scarcity of money. We know not how to tell these dear brethren and sisters that they are as welcome to the Watch Tower as to the air they breathe; but they must request it, even as they must inhale the air. Those who do not like to ask for it as "the Lord's poor," may, if they prefer, ask it on credit year after year, and if never able to send the money they may at any time so inform us and have the debt cancelled. What can we say more than this? We merely add that we are convenienced by those whose renewals (whatever their kind) come to the office before January 1st each year.
We are expecting great things for the next few years in the spread of the Truth. We expect that the regular issues of the Watch Tower will be 40,000 copies (representing 80,000 readers) before 1908. We want the cooperation of all of the Lord's people to this end. As the editor can do a part in this not open to others, so others can do a part which is not open to the editor. Let us continue to co-labor, hoping by and by unitedly to hear the Chief Reaper say, "Well done! good, faithful servants. Enter into the joys of your Lord."
If space permitted we would enjoy giving details respecting this great work—explaining the practical methods adopted, by which in some large cities practically every house was visited—especially in Boston, Washington, Pittsburg and Allegheny, and their suburbs, for ten miles or more in every direction. Over three millions of tracts were thus used; besides the ordinary circulation of about two millions of other assorted tracts. Great as this work is, and far beyond all other tract distribution in the world, it can be more than doubled next year, if the [R3288 : page 454] friends in all other cities can arouse the same zeal displayed by some of those mentioned. For instance, at Washington practically the entire church, of about sixty engaged in the work. The trouble there was that with so many hands this much enjoyed service was too quickly accomplished. We are preparing "ammunition" for next year, and hope to be ready to supply orders in April. Let all prepare carefully and prayerfully for the opportunities of 1904. Remember that much depends on the selection of earnest-hearted and wise-headed captains and lieutenants, as well as on the zeal of the Church. Surely those who know no better way to use their time or to render service to the Truth, should be careful how they disregard this grand opportunity. The tracts are provided free; and the more of respectability, education and good address anyone can put into the service, the greater is likely to be the favorable impression to read and consider these messages from our King to nominal "Christendom" to select the "wheat" class.
The special issue of Dawn I. in Watch Tower form has been well received. Its price (5c per copy, including postage) is so cheap that it permits many to send it to their friends. One brother has sent about 300 to his friends and is still sending us large lists. A fund has been provided, by means of which this edition may be sent to every English-speaking minister and missionary in the world. We already have the lists, and about 50,000 have been sent out.
Letters come to us from all parts of the world making inquiries on the lines of Bible study and for assistance in applying the teachings of the Word to the affairs of daily life;—as well as business correspondence. We take pleasure in replying to these as lengthily as the questions seem to demand—frequently referring the inquirers to the more convenient and elaborate treatises of Dawn and the Watch Tower. We rejoice in such opportunities for service, and trust that any of the Lord's children who so desire will freely appeal to us for willing assistance along these lines.
Letters and cards received from Dec. 1, 1902, to
Dec. 1, 1903....................................41,079
Letters and cards sent out from Dec. 1, 1902, to
Dec. 1, 1903....................................37,810
The Lord's guidance in regard to the "Pilgrim" service is continually in evidence; not only in the words of appreciation coming constantly from those who have been blessed, but also in the evidences showing an increasing zeal and spirituality in their wake. This is not merely the result of the excellent discourses delivered by the "Pilgrims," but also, and, in large part, a result of the exercise of energy necessary to the making of the arrangements for the "Pilgrim" and for the meetings. The activity and comminglings incident to the preparations, bring a blessing, according to the divine promise that he who assists in watering others gets watered also himself.
During the past year 25 persons took part in this "Pilgrim" work; 2,647 parlor meetings and 1,702 public meetings were held;—total 4,349. The distance traversed in connection with these services (the editor's trip to Europe included) was 154,214 miles. The expense was $7,956—a very modest amount for so extensive services. The One Day and Annual Conventions are also reckoned in account; but not the convention expenses, which are borne by the inviting churches.
These we have reason to believe were appreciated and profitable. The One Day Conventions are chiefly for the benefit of those "brethren" yet in Babylon, who are hungering for and seeking Present Truth; the General Conventions are chiefly for those already fairly established in it. Both are proving so helpful that we consider it the Lord's will that they be continued, as per regular announcements.
"Darkness covers the earth [civilized] and gross darkness the heathen." Our Society is making no effort to reach those in grossest darkness, believing that to be the work designed of the Lord for the Millennium. We have more than enough to do in dispelling the darkness prevalent in Christendom. For these are our labors and prayers, as were those of the Apostles.—Eph. 1:13.
The British Branch is well established, though by no means self-sustaining yet. A splendid work is in progress everywhere in Great Britain, and it is extending and broadening and deepening. Evidently, the Lord has "much people" in those islands. (Acts 18:10.) The editor was much refreshed by the manifestations of love and zeal everywhere encountered during his brief Pilgrim trip thither last Spring. Indeed, we know that all Watch Tower readers shared this through our reports, as was abundantly testified by your letters to us subsequently. A separate report of the British Branch is subjoined.
Work is commenced at Copenhagen and Stockholm for the benefit of our Scandinavian brethren;—to put into their hands the Present Truth and to co-operate with those who have already been blessed with the opening of the eyes of their understanding. We hope to have more to report in the way of works a year from now.
The German Branch has opened under fairly prosperous conditions, yet not what we had hoped for. The oneness of the "body" and of the "harvest" work does not seem to be sufficiently appreciated by the German brethren. It is proposed, however, to continue the mission during 1904, giving the field a fair trial and looking to the Lord for guidance as to whether or not there are more favorable fields for the use of consecrated time and money. Meantime Brother Koetitz has succeeded Brother Henninges as the Society's representative at Elberfeld, and the latter has passed to a new field, as below.
The work in French and Italian now centered at Yverdon, Switzerland, is being given a push, and promises well for the time. We are spending considerable money for free reading matter to be scattered all over Germany, [R3288 : page 455] Switzerland, France and Italy, as the Lord may stir up the hearts of his people to co-operate in the "harvest" work. We will do some witnessing. The Lord will use the Truth to gather the "wheat" and permit Satan to sift it clean. Experience seems to teach that the principal crop of ripe "wheat" will be gathered in Great Britain and America, where freedom has more or less prepared the way for the Truth amongst all nationalities. We must "harvest" while it is called day and where the wheat principally is.
Little has yet been accomplished in Australia, yet everything we are able to learn about it seems to imply that it should be ripe for the sickle of Truth. Its population is chiefly British and we believe intelligent and liberal-minded. Its claims appealed to us as being in line with the leadings of the Lord, and accordingly Brother Henninges has been dispatched thither to open a Melbourne Branch or Mission.
Brother Henninges has had a large experience in Allegheny, and later in London, and is, we believe, every way competent to push the work there. He will doubtless make it a success if the conditions are as favorable as we hope—if the Lord has "much people" there. Although this is in the nature of an experiment, we have already shipped nearly eight tons of literature there—chiefly Dawns—so great is our confidence.
We bespeak for all the dear "Yoke-fellows" (Phil. 4:3) in foreign fields, as well as in the home Pilgrim service and in the Colporteur service afar and near, the prayers and co-operation of all who recognize the one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one harvest work, and who see that the time for co-operation is short. Yea, as we see how few there are loyal to the Truth, and how many are their opponents, "within and without," let it draw us the closer to all whom the Lord has counted worthy to receive the Truth and worthy to permit to remain in its light. Let us pray for one another and in every way assist one another to "stand" and to "fight a good fight." Love of the brethren is classed in Scripture as one of the evidences of the new life—with what propriety each who has this love can judge.
Our continued prayers ascend daily, for all the dear co-laborers and for all the Lord's true sheep—known to us as well as unknown. Brethren, pray for us. Under the Lord's providence our position in this "harvest" work specially draws the fire of the great enemy and his blind and misdirected servants. It is a comfort to us to know of your Christian love and prayers in behalf of the editor and his faithful co-laborers. And amongst these do not forget the 32 loyal office helpers at Allegheny.
With the opening of wider ranges of labor and influence the Lord sent an increase of the necessary means;—our money receipts for the past year will surprise you. [R3289 : page 455] This is another evidence that the Lord's hand is guiding the "harvest" work;—grace sufficient to endure added trials; and money sufficient for the increased expenses, and that without either direct or indirect appeals for money. The Truth stirred the willing-hearted to do what they could, and the Lord gave the increase. We dare scarcely hope for as large opportunities or as ample means for next year, but we leave all in the Lord's hand and will seek to do with our might according to the opportunities and means the Lord will supply. All who have participated in the results summarized below, either through active service of the Truth or by money contributions in its aid, or both (and this includes almost every Watch Tower subscriber), may well join us in giving thanks to the Lord for the showing.
It will be noticed that while the work more than doubled the expenses did not double. We believe it to be a part of our stewardship to see that not one dollar of these consecrated funds is wasted. The dear co-laborers join heartily in this spirit. None here receives wages—merely expenses—and all rejoice to keep these at the lowest notch, and each feels that he cannot do too much for our King and his "brethren." We are entirely safe in saying that no such work was ever before done, nor at so relatively small a cost. But then neither was such a gospel ever before proclaimed. "What manner of persons ought we to be?"
For "Pilgrim" expenses............................$ 7,956.65
For publishing matter circulated free,—
tracts, etc...................................... 21,678.02
For expenses, postage, etc., on same.............. 5,026.49
For loss on Dawns incidental to rise in cost and
our desire to keep retail price low and give
Colporteurs every opportunity.................... 2,014.71
For Foreign Mission accounts, on which there
may be partial returns later on.................. 5,694.21
Surplus remaining.................................$ 1,094.11
Praising God for past mercies, let us begin the service of the New Year with a renewal of our consecration vows; and with the thought that we are a year nearer to the glorious "change" and "well done" for which we hope. "Now is our salvation nearer than when we first believed."
We give below Brother Hemery's Letter and Report. We all rejoice that the British Branch prospers, and hope [R3289 : page 456] that in another year there will be something to report respecting the "harvest" work in the lands afar.
Lest there should be some misunderstanding, we note the fact that the Financial Report takes no account of the cost of the tons of tracts sent from Allegheny, but merely of its circulation. We propose having the reports next year include cost of paper, printing, etc.
We are gratified in being able to send a report showing increase in the various branches of the work. The sale of Dawns has advanced upon last year's figures by 3,000, while that of the lesser booklets also shows an increase. But notable progress is shown in the account of tract circulation—we have sent out 1,033,000 free tracts and Towers. Of this number 700,000 represent the Volunteer matter; the new method of distribution lending itself to more extended opportunities of service than the previous one did. But while much has been done, much more remains. The increases plainly indicate further possibilities, telling us that "The fields are white unto the harvest." We pray the "Lord of the Harvest that he will send more laborers into His vineyard."
We believe your visit to us in the Springtime has, in the Lord's providence, done much to give a general impetus to the work in this part of the field. The brethren were stimulated to further assurance and zeal, and many new friends were made. Indeed, in view of the possibilities in these countries, it would appear that your early return is desirable. You will be glad to know that the work prospers in Ireland: the friends in Dublin especially were enthused by your visit there, and have, since then, sold a good many Dawns. The change of the British depot to its present address—brought about in harmony with your thought that this locality would be more desirable—already promises much advantage.
It has been our pleasure to have a Pilgrim visit from Brother Henninges this fall. He reports that the meetings have been well attended, and the usual good interest maintained. We are sorry to have to say "good-bye" to him and Sr. Henninges, though we are glad the work in Australia is to be helped forward by them. We are grateful to the Lord for all His favors to us—for the privilege of knowing His Truth, and for that of serving each other. We thank Him for all that He has done, and are hopeful concerning that which remains. Continue to pray for us here, as we do for you, that His purposes may be worked out in us and that we may all be good "laborers" in the vineyard.
L. s. d.
Deficit from last year.......................... 542 18 8
Postage, Rent, Labor, Gas and sundry
expenses....................................... 105 1 5
"Pilgrim" work expenses......................... 86 4 9
734 4 10
Tract fund receipts from Great Britain.......... 411 2 0
Deficit........................................ 323 2 10
Dawns sold, chiefly by colporteurs............ 20,590
Booklets sold, chiefly by colporteurs........... 3,851
Tracts circulated free, chiefly by "Volunteer"
These represented in pages...................... 18,368,600
Letters and cards received...................... 4,649
Letters and cards sent out...................... 9,842