I have just read in your booklet, "Protestants Awake," these burning words: "Some even admit that their personal views differ from those they preach, and are endeavoring to have their conferences and synods allow them to preach what they conceive to be truth and desist from what they believe to be error; dishonorable, ignoble, hypocritical and slavish though such a course is," etc. This is not all true in my case, but sufficiently so to cause the words dishonorable, ignoble, hypocritical and slavish, to strike me with tremendous force, and in deep agony of spirit, born of condemnation, I cry unto God, What shall I do? I most certainly believe your interpretation of the blessed Word. My soul longs for freedom; I am helpless—chained by environment. Tell me what to do? I doubt not there are hundreds in my condition. They saw the truth too late. What they possessed of this world's goods has been willingly sacrificed to an all-absorbing, but false purpose. Their means is gone; their physical force is spent; their years are well nigh numbered. "Their righteous souls are vexed from day to day in seeing and hearing." Conscious helplessness augments their bitter agony. They are handicapped by dependent families. To withdraw from their denominations means to cut off their bread. Your system offers no support to the helpless. Their minds are constantly harrowed by the light of the new revelation. Their spirits chafe and fret like the caged eagle yearning for the liberty he sees but cannot enjoy. There seems to be no open door of opportunity, and again I ask, in God's name, What shall we preachers do? I would be willing to sink out of sight from the world.
If I could dispense with all responsibility toward my family, I would gladly submit to any sort of humiliation, criticism or persecution, and would feel that the liberty for which my heart and mind so yearns would be cheap at any cost to myself, but alas, alas! Brother, pray that a door may be opened unto me—that deliverance may come, in God's own way.
Your pathetic letter of the 18th is at hand. You have my sympathy, indeed, dear brother. I rejoice that you have a conscience and a heart to which the truth does appeal. Be of good courage! Our heavenly Father lives; our Redeemer lives; his power is as great as it ever was. All of his Daniels are safe from the lions. All of his Elijahs shall be fed. All of the widows shall be supplied with meal. The condition is faith, trust, obedience.
But the Lord's favor cannot be expected unless the step of obedience has been taken. Then man's extremity will constitute the terms on which the Father will be pleased to cause all things to work together for his good. The command is, "Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues." Those who discern the real Babylon condition, those who discern the errors of "Christendom," are more responsible than the others in Babylon who discern not; and if they will not come out of her, if they will not stand up for the truth and the Lord, they are demonstrating that they are not worthy to be his disciples in the special sense in which that word is properly to be used during this Gospel age. It is not for us to say that those who do not come out will lose all, but we have the assurance that they will lose the Kingdom position, the great prize of our high calling of God in Christ Jesus; and their position would be, through greater tribulations, in the "great company" of Revelation 7, "before the throne," instead of in it; with "palm branches," instead [R3626 : page 270] of "crowns;" "servants," instead of "the Bride."
Dear brother, if you have my sympathy, much more you may be sure you have the Lord's sympathy, and as soon as you shall have learned the lesson and taken the proper steps he will manifest his love and care and blessing toward you. Exercise the faith; overcome the spirit of fear and bondage, and thus be in heart an overcomer. The Lord will do the rest. It may not be in your way, nor in my way, but in the Lord's way he will supply all your need.
The question before your mind should not be, Shall I come out of Babylon? but that being settled affirmatively, the question should be, How would the Lord have me come out of Babylon? I offer you a few suggestions along this line, which I trust may be helpful.
I advise firmness and courage, blended with moderation and love. The truth of itself is sufficiently strong, without our adding to it any of our weight in the way of invective or sarcasm. "Preach the Word," says the Apostle; "Speak the truth in love." Begin at once to preach on the good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people, showing to all people of the Lord, and all others who will hear, something of the lengths and the breadths, the heights and the depths, of the love of God which passes all understanding. After a few discourses of this kind have filled their hearts with a high estimate of the divine character, preach a discourse on the meaning of the word "hell" as found in the Old Testament; another discourse on the meaning of "hell" as found in the New Testament. Nothing in these sermons can conflict with any reasonable or proper denominational limitations. Get your sermons out of the usual rut, and more into Bible studies, doing the talking yourself, of [R3626 : page 271] course, but appealing to your congregation, not so much through oratory, as through reason and references to the Scriptures. Thus gradually, from Scripture to Scripture, you may draw the attention of your own hearers, and those in your vicinity, to what the Scriptures do say, and they doubtless reverence God's Word. If later a conflict with the creed shall be thrust upon you, you can appeal to the congregation as to whether they desire to be bound by a creed of men, or whether their consecration to the Lord was to be faithful to him, in harmony with his Word. Stand up courageously, dear brother, and if this shall mean (what it doubtless will in the end) the rejection of your message and of you, God will bless those Scriptures to your comfort, and the enlightenment, perhaps, of others in that vicinity.
As you say, the Lord in his providence is not arranging for a paid ministry, after the ordinary fashion, but in the present movement toward the methods of the early Church paid ministry is abandoned, and the original methods of laboring with hands and preaching the truth, as strength and opportunity will afford, is coming into vogue amongst those who are hearing the Shepherd's voice.
When faithfulness to the truth shall have led you outside of all sectarian lines (as it is sure to do, for, as the Apostle declared, "the time is coming when they will not endure sound doctrine"), we would be pleased to have you serve the Society as a colporteur, and will be glad to do what we can to co-operate in the use of your talents in some such manner, in the service of the truth, carrying the message to those who have not as yet heard it.
I wish to thank you for the tracts and the paper. I will send the money as soon as I get it in the fall. I did not know I would enjoy it so much, but it is the only pleasure I have, as there are no Dawnists here and no one is in sympathy with my belief. I sent for the tracts to distribute among friends, intending then to canvass for MILLENNIAL DAWN. I am sure I could do the work well, but my parents will not allow me for fear the churches would turn against us. They think because I am not eighteen that I do not realize what is right. When I left our Church they thought I was crazy, but I know it was God who sent me the DAWN books. It is very hard to be able to reap in the harvest and yet be held back by authority.
I wish I could tell you how I appreciate the blessed knowledge of MILLENNIAL DAWN! You will some day know how we all feel about it. Oh, how I rejoice in my loneliness to know there are hundreds of "like precious faith" around me though I do not know them, and I hope they remember in their assemblies the isolated ones.
I am glad to hear from you, and to know of the depth of your consecration to the Lord, and of your appreciation of his glorious plan. I rejoice that you will now have the regular visits of the WATCH TOWER, which will compensate to some extent your lack of personal fellowship with others of like precious faith. It is apparently the Lord's arrangement, by which many of his people are enabled to follow the advice of the Apostle, in Heb. 10:25, "Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together." Our hearts meet together in the study of the Word, in connection with the WATCH TOWER helps for Bible study, as well as meeting at the throne of grace. Through this means the Lord seems to be blessing, refreshing, strengthening and instructing and preparing for the Kingdom, some of his dear "Jewels."
You are quite right in respect to your duty: so long as you are under age you have no discretion in the matter of obedience to your parents, except in the case of any demand in violation of your conscience, and this is not your present situation.
Be assured, dear sister, that faithfulness to the Lord under the trials and difficulties, as they are permitted to come to you, will, in his providence, work out blessing. He is able to keep us; he is able to open and close the doors of opportunity. Let us trust him fully. Ultimately we will see more and more of the lengths and breadths and heights and depths of the wisdom and riches of his grace. May the Lord's blessing continue with you.
I wish I were able to tell you of the intense joy and blessing I received from the Dayton Convention. It was a day long to be remembered, and may our blessed Lord and Chief Reaper give the increase to that seed sowing, as the Dayton friends and yourself so zealously have done the planting and watering. It brings to my imagination some of the scenes that must have taken place when our dear Savior spake as never man spake to the crowds that pressed him. Glorious ministry! to be co-laborers together with Him!
In your comments in a TOWER of recent date on John 12:24, you said that our Lord's going down into death brought forth much fruit—the first fruits—the Church, the 144,000. Thinking on this it occurred to me, Will not the Church as so many grains of wheat (by virtue of our Heavenly Father's blessed arrangement in Christ) going down into death, bring forth the same amount of fruit in proportion? Reasoning thus, I found that if one brought forth 144,000, that number would bring forth 144,000 times 144,000, or 20,736,000,000. Ah! I thought, here is where Brother Russell must get his twenty thousand millions to which he refers so often in his sermons as representing earth's dead, and specially mentioned in the Tract, "Millennial Hopes Examined." Now, dear Brother, is this a mere coincidence or did you use this method in addition to the one mentioned in the Tract?
The light of His parousia is growing brighter and brighter as the Truth shines from the blessed Word; how much (and yet how little) I appreciate the various lightning flashes that come from the TOWER, (the "sign" of the Son of Man in heaven); how they clear up and purify the murky atmosphere that has surrounded the Word these many centuries, and wonderful miracle as it were, like of old, the thunder came in the harvest. So here in this "harvest" the thunders have uttered their voices with no uncertain sound, and verily to-day are shaking the very foundations of Ecclesiasticism, and by the time the last one speaks so that all hear, only those things will remain that cannot be shaken, God's blessed, glorious Truth. To Him be glory and honor and praise through Christ Jesus throughout all ages. Amen.
I am glad to have your suggestion respecting the proportions of the fruit of our Lord's death as represented in the Church of the First-born (144,000) and the afterfruit of these, 20,736,000,000. I had not noted this correspondency, and hence it had nothing whatever to do with my calculations of the world's dead.