Since writing you last I have enjoyed a number of days in happy service of the Truth. An incident somewhat unusual in the general colporteur experience you will perhaps be glad to hear. In soliciting orders for our glad tidings in the town of B__________ some days ago I was addressing a merchant when he turned and said, "Brother L__________, what do you think of this book?" (I have since learned that this Bro. L__________ is one of Southern Arkansas' most prominent Baptist ministers.) In reply he said, "Buy it and read, and if you don't like it I will pay your money back," and before I left he sold several books for me. One of the gentlemen present said, "Stranger, why can't you preach for us here?" I replied I would be pleased to do so, if house and congregation could be had, whereupon this dear old Bro. L__________ proffered me the use of the Baptist Church. Their pulpit was occupied at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m., so they gave me 3 p.m. At their 11 o'clock service the minister announced the afternoon service, and his words were about as follows: "The subject this evening will be 'God's plan of saving man.' The man who is to preach is selling one of the most wonderful books of the nineteenth century and if you haven't got one I insist that you do so at once and read it carefully and prayerfully. The book will teach you more in one week than you have known in all your life about the Bible."
The Society had sent this dear Baptist brother a "Plan of the Ages" in TOWER form. Think of what this five cent investment has done in mightily arousing one of God's sleeping ones yet in Babylon; next in selling four or five volumes, which doubtless will spread; next it led to our three o'clock service, which I learned later put two to reading—and so the good work goes on, and, hallelujah! we know it will be completed to the glory of the Father and the good of his creatures.
Enclosed find my report covering some very precious seasons of fellowship and service with friends by the way, and also marking some very bitter antagonism to the Truth. The hardest conditions that I have met since beginning the work I think I found at N__________. The feeling there is quite bitter. We had a very quiet meeting in the hall the first night, but on the second night the Episcopal Church people had a garden party (whatever this means) about a block from our meeting place. That of course brought to the village many from the surrounding country. The spirit of hilarity contingent upon the gathering of a crowd, together with expressions of contempt or disapproval of our faith by those in authority, I presume, led some of the "baser sort" to show by acts bordering on violence the contempt which others were content to express in words. During our service a large stone was hurled into the midst of the hall. Other stones were thrown against the house, showing the animus of the community. We continued the service to the end of the discourse [R3425 : page 271] and rejoiced that we were counted worthy to suffer such things for the Truth's sake.
I have long since felt it my duty to write you and say that I have laid aside the terrors that I have heretofore held in my heart for the MILLENNIAL DAWN literature (for terror it was before I knew it for myself). I only knew that the very best of our Church members were being lured away from the Church by reading your literature. I once bought the first DAWN from a Colporteur without knowing what it was. When it was delivered I said, "I have the money for you, but I want you to understand that I will not read the book; it is different to what I thought it was. I will pay you for it, but the book will go in the stove. I will burn it." How could I read a book the influence of which would lure me from the Church in whose cradle I had been rocked, and in whose cradle I had lulled my children to sleep. Now I have no such dread or fear, but am willing to give up not only my Church but loved ones [R3426 : page 271] also and flee into the wilderness for the Truth's sake.
I received your last letter and appreciate the kind greetings. My receiving two extra blessings close upon one another prompted me to write these few lines that you may share them with me. Yesterday morning while "delivering," I met a lady to whom I had delivered Vol. I. some weeks ago, in the back of which I had inserted a tract on "What is the Soul?" She told me she had read both, and said she had read quite a good deal of Biblical literature on the soul question, but out of it all, nothing gave her the satisfaction afforded by the tract. She has already loaned the volume to an old gentleman, who also has read it and is much interested. I received orders for Vols. II. and III. from the lady and she desires to get the whole set.
The other case is also that of a lady to whom I had delivered Vol. I. At the time I received her order I noticed that she was more than ordinarily interested in Bible topics; so I put a mark beside her name in my order book, with the purpose of calling some time, which I did. On inquiring how she liked the book she said, "Just grand, and I want the next one! Before you leave call and receive my order for a number of the first volume, to be used as Christmas gifts." She informed me that she had been thinking on the subjects contained in detail in the "Plan of the Ages" for a number of years past, and indeed she seemed happy for having received the book.
I am writing to you to express my deeply-felt gratitude to God and to you his servant, that through reading your books and studying the Word of God in connection with what you have written I have been brought into the clearer sunshine of his blessed revelation, and rejoice to see it from what I firmly believe is God's standpoint. God has indeed been good to me in guiding me into the Present Truth. I was very much prejudiced at first, as I had wrong notions concerning your teaching. The idea of the millennium starting from the year 1874 was a stumbling block to me until it was explained, and I tore up the tracts which had been handed to me and refused to read them. I had never heard of MILLENNIAL DAWN until about nine months ago, when my attention was called to the WATCH TOWER by a dear saint, a patient slowly dying of cancer, and my first idea about it was a glorification of so-called Christendom, because it placed the dawn of the millennium at the present time. Thinking it could easily be refuted by the Word of God, and with a desire to help others to ward off error, I promised to read one of the tracts, "The Hope of Immortality." I was simply amazed with the reasonableness, the wisdom, of it. It never occurred to me before that the all-wise God would certainly not have committed the silly blunder of making man an imperishable being, an "immortal soul," knowing beforehand how he would fall. I read through the tract, praying to God to guard me against being influenced by error. When I finished it I tore off on my bicycle at once to get "The Plan of the Ages" and "What Say the Scriptures About Hell?" I was so impatient that I did not like waiting a moment and eagerly devoured the books when I got them.
I have now read carefully and thoughtfully all the DAWN volumes several times and each time I learn more. Soon after beginning to read them we had a month's mission in Liverpool held by Messrs. Torrey and Alexander. Dr. Torrey was very much opposed to the DAWNS and warned the people against them. He advised the people to "take the tracts; By all means take them, and take them home and burn them." This seemed to me like the R.C. priests who say, "By all means take the Bible given to you and then burn it." His sermon on "Hell" was simply awful for its bitterness and nightmare misery, and he defined eternal punishment as "every second suffering infinite agonies throughout unending billions of years." One poor woman who knew I was reading the DAWNS said to me after one of the meetings, "Oh, Dr. Hughes, do burn those books, do burn those books!" and I was told that I would be done for if I read "those awful books!" So you see that it has been in the teeth of prejudice all along, and if it had not been that God had given me "Truth hunger" I should have neglected this glorious opportunity and lost the great blessing.
At a mission Sunday School in connection with the Presbyterian Church I joined some years ago I have a Bible Class for working men on Sunday afternoon for the last four months. I have been giving them MILLENNIAL DAWN teaching, and one or two of the young men have spoken about bringing the matter of my teaching before the minister. Some of them listen very attentively and seem to be greatly blessed.