VIEWED from the standpoint of the great institutions of the world, Bible Societies, Tract Societies, etc., ours is a very small work, if the measurement be by the amount of dollars received and expended; but if the measurement, on the contrary, be by the amount of work accomplished, we are certainly in the first rank so far as we know. We distance all tract circulators in the tract matter distributed freely, in the Bible Study Helps put into the hands of the people, etc., etc. God forbid that we should boast: we have nothing that we have not received of divine favor, and if the work has prospered we believe that it is of the Lord's providence and blessing and not by human wisdom and might. However, surrounded by much opposition from the world, the flesh and the devil, and the nominal Church, we have need to encourage ourselves in every way possible, and believe it to be the Lord's will that we should communicate these encouraging features to you all, knowing well that you will share in the trials and discouragements which the Lord forewarned us we should expect if we would be faithful to him and his Word.
By the grace of God the report of this year is the most encouraging we have ever had to present to you. It shows progress, increase, all along the line. But there is one report we cannot set forth in dollars or figures of any kind, yet it is the most important of all—the report of the spiritual condition of those who are in the light of Present Truth. It is not for us to judge the hearts except in the general sense that the Lord directed, that we may know the difference between thorns and grapes and between brambles and figs. "By their fruits ye shall know them."
Viewing the entire harvest field from this standpoint which the Lord gives us, we are encouraged to believe that the spirituality of the flock is as high or higher than it has ever before been. We feel like saying higher than ever before, nevertheless remember that the Lord's dear people in various quarters have had some very severe trials during the year, from which, we [R3906 : page 389] trust, however, they are emerging purified and polished, better fitted for the presence of the King and for a share of his glory. These trials, for the most part, have come apparently from the outside: and although the Apostle suggests "false brethren," we like to hope that some who have apparently filled that role were not at heart false, but merely temporarily blinded by ambition or some other unworthy motive; and we like to hope also that, by the Lord's grace, some at least of these will ultimately overcome, realizing the force of the Apostle's argument that the Lord resisteth the proud and shows his favor to the humble. "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time."
Though such storms and shakings may, while being experienced, seem very disastrous, we feel sure that the Lord will not forget his own, as it is written, "The Lord knoweth them that are his." We may be sure that he will not suffer them to be tempted above that they are able—that if they see to it that their hearts are loyal to him such experiences will not work them injury but really benefit, for are not all the Lord's people to be "overcomers"? and is it not by the "trial of their faith" that they are to be tested and proved? and is it not for this reason that the Lord permits such shakings? And are not the brethren the stronger after they have passed through such an experience and reached the further side in safety? Are they not the more reliant upon the Lord and the power of his might? And will they not more closely watch, not only to keep their own garments unspotted, but to assist all the Lord's dear flock who may be in any danger or trouble through their own weaknesses or those of others?
One lesson in this is that we are our "brother's keeper;" that in meekness and gentleness we are to be courageous for the right, for the Truth, and thus to assist the weaker ones of the flock. As the years roll on we may expect more and more of these testings and shakings and siftings. We are not to suppose that all who have heard the message and received it with joy will ultimately be worthy a place in the Kingdom: hence "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial that shall try you, as though some strange thing had happened unto you."—I Pet. 4:12.
It is with great pleasure that we announce that our subscription list has grown about 5000 since our last report a year ago. Today we have approximately 27,000 WATCH TOWER subscribers, which we may hope represents at least twice or three times that number of readers. We print 30,000 of each issue now, which allows some for sample copies, etc. Our financial sheet shows that our 27,000 subscribers paid us $12,666.59. Thus, with 5,000 increase in numbers on our lists, we have but $542 extra in money to show for it. Some might say that this was a bad showing, but not so we—we are glad to have it so. We have known for some time that many have been interested in the reading of the DAWNS and attending meetings that have not felt that they could afford to subscribe for the WATCH TOWER even at its low price of $1 per year. We have urged that these be encouraged by all the dear friends to send in their names either with the subscription price or without it—either telling us that they are too poor or that they would like to have the TOWER on credit, etc.
The increase of our list with the small increase of money receipts encourages us to think that some of these friends, who ought to be getting the WATCH TOWER (free, if they cannot afford to pay for it), have been reached and are being thus served with the spiritual food according to the Lord's good pleasure. We urge that all the dear friends keep this in mind—that we are desirous of having on our lists the addresses of all who are truly interested in the Present Truth, in the harvest work and message—especially the consecrated. If you know of those who are not subscribers but interested in the Truth, assure them of our good pleasure in respect to the visits of the TOWER whether they can afford to pay for it or not. Assure them that there are good friends of theirs and of the Truth glad to make good the deficiency, and that we would much prefer to have them on the lists. Please remember, too, that we like to hear from subscribers yearly, and that those poor who request the TOWER are expected to renew their request each year about June 1st, because that is a less busy season with us.
This branch of the harvest work seems to be particularly blessed and used of the Lord, and our friends as well as our enemies are astonished at the results being obtained. In every part of the civilized world these ministers of the harvest time, of the King and his coming Kingdom, are going persistently and quietly, making their way against opposition. Our opponents, indeed, are almost without exception those who have never read our books or tracts, and we look for great things from the wide circulation of this reading matter in the near future. By and by, when some of the changes which we see clearly set forth in the Scriptures, and which we see rapidly approaching, shall have reached the world so as to be visible to others, then we may be sure there will be a great awakening of the foolish virgin class, a great trimming of their lamps, a preparation of them for the great time of trouble through which they must pass to wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.—Rev. 7:14.
It will astonish you all, dear friends, as it does us, to find it possible to make a better report this year than last. When last year we announced that 254,083 copies of the DAWN had been put into circulation during the year, we were afraid to express any hope of even equaling that large number for the year ensuing. We merely determined to do all in our power. Now we have to announce to you that during the past year, 1906, we have exceeded the output of 1905 by nearly 50 per cent., the total being 377,959. What this means can to some extent be grasped when we point out that this represents an output of over 1200 volumes for each working day of the year.
Now, how about next year? Shall we set our standard [R3907 : page 390] higher or lower? We believe that we may not go far astray if we set our mark for the coming year at 500,000 copies. No other books in the world are selling at this rate—no, nor anything like it!—and no other books in the world carry this glorious message of the Millennial Dawn, of the Parousia of the great King, of the harvesting of the wheat, and the things necessary to the preparation of God's people for a share in the Kingdom. Under God's providence much depends, of course, upon each one of our readers, as well as upon the colporteurs who reach the public in a more direct manner.
The secret of this large output during the year has been the realization on the part of the dear friends that the harvest is great and the laborers are few, that the work of harvest will not last very long, and that he that reapeth receiveth wages—most wonderful wages of divine favor and blessing upon his own heart now, besides the gracious things which the Father hath in reservation for them that love him. The thought is gradually pressing itself home upon the dear flock that not many years remain in which this harvest work can be carried on—that "the night cometh in which no man can work"—that we are even now approximately in the eleventh hour. We have every reason to suppose that we shall have at least three more years of good opportunities; by that time apparently the forces of evil will be permitted to more or less shackle and restrain our efforts to tell the good tidings, because the work of harvest will be nearly ended, the wheat will nearly all be garnered. With such expectations, hopes, prospects before us, who that has the opportunity could sit idly by? Who that has the Spirit of the Lord will not strive to make opportunity for service?
We encourage those who are free from encumbrances, whose hearts are full of zeal for the Lord and his cause, and who have any kind of reasonable address, to engage in this blessed service. And as for others, whose time and opportunities are less, we suggest to them that they earn those gracious words which our Lord gave to Mary, "She hath done what she could." Do what you can to forward the Truth amongst your friends, neighbors and acquaintances, either by loaning the books or, preferably, by selling them—because people will generally read more carefully that for which they have paid money, from the natural desire to get back again their money's worth. And when we consider that these books are sold at about one-fifth the usual price of such books, and that the Lord's message is precious beyond price, we see readily that we are extending the richest and best of bargains to all our dear acquaintances. If each of our readers would sell during the year but one half-dozen copies, we might feel very sure of being able to reach the high mark set; and if each would sell at least a dozen copies, we should be almost certain of reaching that high mark, Love—Service.
Notwithstanding a handicap put upon us by the post-office department in ruling our Old Theology Quarterly Primary Scripture Studies as not entitled to the specially cheap newspaper rate of postage, our tract distribution for the year shows up wonderfully. It cost considerably more, too, for the extra postage ran into thousands of dollars. However, what we cannot hinder we must conclude that the Lord has permitted, and neither murmur nor repine. We are glad that we can render so good a report for the year.
What we term the "volunteer" work has handled almost all of these tracts. We explain its operation for the benefit of those unfamiliar. We get out a special issue of our quarterly at the beginning of each year and use it as our "volunteer" number. All the dear friends far and near, in every land, are welcome to order of this special issue all that they can use in free distribution. We pay the freight charges. The method is that in each little Bible Study class a Captain be elected to take the supervision of this volunteer work. He in a general way districts the city and asks for the election of enough lieutenants to take charge of the different divisions of the city as he outlines them. Then, as many of the dear friends as can arrange their affairs to suit, meet every Sunday for tract distribution, each being [R3908 : page 390] enrolled as a worker under the general direction of the captain and the special care and direction of the lieutenant. In this way the distribution is thoroughly done, no part skipped and none done twice. Many of these companies of volunteers, after having completed their work of distribution in their own city, go out in little bands of two or three or more to adjoining towns and cities by electric or steam cars or otherwise. Thus the work of circulating the Truth is done in a most thorough manner. Only districts known to be strongly foreign or Roman Catholic are omitted.
The dear friends assure us (and we could see it without their assurances) that this work, whether it accomplishes much or little for others, is a great blessing to their own hearts. It certainly does help to develop the courage necessary to those who would be "more than conquerors." Some who at first felt like hiring newsboys to be their substitutes in the work have found how great a blessing they have been missing, and are now engaging regularly in the service—soldiers of the Truth, soldiers of the Lord. Amongst those who are thus engaged are many brethren and sisters of fine education, good address, and some of them of considerable business standing as merchants, bankers' clerks, physicians, etc. The intelligence of the person handing the tract or putting it under the door gives weight and influence to the tract itself, and, as for the day, no better day than Sunday could be found for such a circulation of the words of the living God. We would be glad to know that ministers in their pulpits accomplish as much good by their sermons as do those who thus circulate interesting and profitable discourses free of all charge.
Whatever the world may think of these dear volunteers, and whether it hates their message or forbears, we know how the Lord and the brethren esteem them, and that the day is coming when the Master—who said, [R3908 : page 391] If any man be ashamed of me and of my words, of him will I be ashamed when I come in the glory of the Father and all the holy angels with me—to each one of these will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joys of thy Lord." Not that we are putting works before faith, but as the Apostle says, we show our faith by our works. We believe, and therefore speak—give utterance to the Truth, scattering it everywhere by word and pen and printed page. The great Chief Reaper has so arranged matters as to test us along these various lines of love for him, for his Word, for his brethren—to test our courage or our shame, to prove whether or not we are true soldiers of the cross and followers of the Lamb.
All cannot engage in the colporteur work, but nearly all deprived of that privilege can if they will engage in the volunteer work. If they do not so engage we do not judge them: we will rather think kindly and generously of them, and assume that circumstances, of which we may or may not have knowledge, hinder them from doing all that they would do in this blessed work. But God, who knoweth the heart, will say the "Well done, good and faithful servant," only to those who are found zealous in his service. Let us strive to be pleasing to the Lord; let that be our standard. And in harmony with our text for the year let us "set our affections on things above, and not on things on earth." Let us remember that, whatever the opinions of men may be respecting us, we serve the Lord Christ, we have accepted his standard, receive our directions from him, and are satisfied to be found well pleasing in his sight, even though some who have named the name of Christ have not received the Truth in the love of it.—2 Thess. 2:10.
This branch of the service is, we believe, a very useful one—one which we feel sure has been very profitable to the Lord's dear flock during the year past. The "Pilgrims" are brethren recognized as having not only a clear knowledge of the Truth, but as additionally possessing more than average ability in its presentation to others. They go from place to place at the Society's expense, and meet with the dear friends for usually about two days at each place. They are prepared to speak at least twice every day if suitable arrangements can be made for them. We urge that not more than one-half of the meetings at any place be for the public, allowing the other half to be especially for the interested, and we are urging that the "Pilgrims" during the coming year shall make a specialty of giving examples of the successful way of conducting Berean Studies at each of their visits.
We do this because we know how profitable these studies are to those who have learned how to conduct them along proper lines, and how insipid they may be if the real spirit of them be not caught by the leader and the class. In those classes where these studies have been most carefully and earnestly followed, and where tactful leaders have been chosen—leaders who will draw the answers to the questions from the classes rather than give the answers themselves, and then in conclusion will summarize the answers—results are excellent. We trust that all the dear friends will take hold of these Berean Studies. The majority of people neither know how to study nor how to teach, and hence fail to get the real food, nourishment, out of what they hear and what they read. Permit the "Pilgrims" to help you still more in this direction during the coming year.
"Pilgrim" appointments are only made where we have a positive request, and each May we publish a series of interrogatories, requesting answers thereto from those who desire "Pilgrim" visits, that we may judge the better as to the needs and the possibility for public and private meetings. We are always glad to receive these from any of the dear friends, and your contributions to the Tract Fund, while appreciated, are not allowed weight or influence in the matter. We seek to supply the "Pilgrims" where they are needed and would do the most good, leaving it to the Lord to find the means for the expenses thus incurred. The fact that you may be quite a distance need not hinder you from answering these questions, and be assured that we shall respond as well as we are able to all such appeals and as often as the men and the expenses and the money at our command will permit. It is too late to make the request when you notice that a "Pilgrim" is headed your way, for their routes are made out several months in advance, and they generally go in continuous journey, thus effecting a great saving of traveling expenses. The labors of this department and the cost of the same shown in our reports will be interesting and are encouraging, though not all that we could have hoped.
We need not go into details respecting these gatherings, as we keep you informed from time to time. We merely remark here that we are realizing the Lord's blessing upon this feature of the work more and more. We are finding that the One-Day Conventions as a rule are preferable as respects opportunities for reaching the public, that the General Conventions are preferable as respects the assembling of those who are already interested in the Truth, for spiritual refreshment and further development. The latter, we find, can advantageously cover a longer period of time, even though all cannot attend throughout the entire session. Some combine with the Conventions their vacation, and anyway are much less fatigued by having the Convention meetings spread over a longer period with larger opportunities for rest and social intercourse in the interim. The General Conventions of the year at Asbury Park, N.J., St. Paul, Minn., and Dallas, Tex., were very interesting indeed, and we believe highly profitable to the Lord's dear people, who attended in large numbers.
The One-Day Conventions are growing in interest and in results as the dear friends learn the necessity for business methods in respect to their arrangements. [R3908 : page 392] To reach the public it is necessary first to have a first-class hall, and such halls are expensive and cannot be indulged in advantageously unless a corresponding amount of money be spent for advertising purposes. This the dear friends have learned, and, following it with success, are greatly encouraged. This year we have requested the treasurers of these One-Day Conventions to send us a report of the total amount of the cost of the Conventions to the local congregations for hall, advertising, etc., and the amount of the expenses has been credited to those congregations as so much donated to the Tract Fund. This item, therefore, swells the Tract Fund contributions and correspondingly appears as an increased outlay in connection with the increased branch of the "Pilgrim" branch of the work. Of late we think it an excellent plan to follow these One-Day Conventions and their large crowds with Chart talks on the following Sundays, the latter being advertised at the large meeting. We thus seek to gather and hold all the interest created by the first widely advertised meeting. The Chart talk usually helps to fix the Truth in the minds of these dear friends, and the larger number are thus introduced to the local classes.
Total number who served as "Pilgrims," 1906.............30
" of visits made...........................1821
" of miles traveled in preaching tours..176,167
" of public meetings held..................1667
" of parlor meetings.......................3529
Very few probably realize what a great work is possible through the newspapers. This work does not conflict with the other departments of the service, but rather co-operates. The immense circulation of newspapers in our day amongst all classes of thinking people gives the public press a wonderful power for good or for evil. Why should we not seek to use these channels, these implements, in the harvest work? The Lord directed that in the Jewish harvest the message should be scattered everywhere, and we apply the same rules to the present harvest. At the present time and for a good while back Brother Russell's discourses are published regularly in five different newspapers whose combined circulation is 119,000 copies. This in a year represents 6,188,000 sermons printed and scattered broadcast amongst reading people. Besides this, in all the cities where one-day conventions are held the newspapers publish one of these discourses. So that altogether we would be quite safe in estimating that over 7,000,000 sermons were printed and scattered during the year. While we cannot say that 7,000,000 people were turned to the Lord and to his Truth thereby, we do know that some have been interested, profited, blest, brought into the Truth through this channel. What more can we expect? Besides, these lessons reach many who are not entirely convinced thereby, but whose prejudice against the Truth melts away gradually, preparing them for further blessings of the Lord now or in the future. The cause is indebted to many of the Lord's people for this circulation, for if you did not subscribe for these journals and thus encourage their publishers many of them would surely discontinue the service. All subscriptions should be sent through the WATCH TOWER office, except where the newspapers can be bought on the street.
If these sermons in the newspapers were calculated on the basis of tract pages they would represent 20 pages each or a total of over 140,000,000. We estimate therefore that this is a very valuable feature of the harvest work. Indeed, we all know that many will read a newspaper article who will decline to read a tract. We are looking to the Lord for possible further opening of doors in this direction, and if we learn of any way in which you can assist we will be pleased to communicate with you. Postal cards to the editors of journals publishing the discourses serve to show the interest and encourage publishers.
We are always glad to have letters from the interested and rejoice that the Lord has granted such wonderful opportunities for mail communication in our day. Should we not estimate that all these arrangements are designed of the Lord primarily as aids in the harvest work? We see that the harvest of the Jewish age covered but a small field, Palestine and vicinity, whereas the harvest of this age properly extends to every part of the world where there are thoroughly consecrated Christian people. And yet the same length of time, forty years, was apportioned to each harvest. How necessary, then, it was that the Lord should arrange greater convenience for the harvest work in our day. And how we see that railroads, steamships, telegraph and mail services all co-operate and were evidently expected to co-operate as factors in this harvest work. Shall we say that these things were designed for the world, and that we are permitted to profit by them? Shall we not the rather say that these things were necessary and intended for the harvest work, and that the world is permitted to profit by them?
If sometimes the dear friends receive very brief replies to their lengthy letters they must not understand this to signify a lack of appreciation. Your letters are all very welcome indeed, but especially so if they are plainly written and concisely stated. Some letters do not seem to need a reply. When you do wish for information please make your question quite distinct. Do not be surprised if sometimes to your lengthy questions we send very brief replies, perhaps on postal-cards. We answer many questions by referring to our wide-margin Bible, noting there the reference [R3909 : page 393] to the treatment of the verse in the DAWNS or TOWERS. We call your attention to the same, knowing that the printed explanations are much more comprehensive than anything that we could take time to write by pen in a letter. Give us credit always, dear Brethren and Sisters, for having the very best and kindest intentions toward you all and toward the cause we serve, and be assured that we feel the same interest in those who get their TOWERS free and make no remittances to the Tract Fund. When receiving a brief letter reflect that we have 26,000 subscribers, and that we write lengthy letters twice every month to every one, to you—the various issues of the WATCH TOWER. Accept these as our principal replies to your kind letters, and our brief replies as mere post-scripts.
In this connection, we remark that the wide-margin Bibles can no longer be supplied, and the little booklet promised some time ago, giving helpful references and texts, may be expected early in the new year. Due notice will be given in these columns.
The harvest work is prospering greatly in Great Britain and Australia and fairly well in other quarters, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, France, Italy, Greece and near our own doors in the island of Jamaica—amongst the colored people. Reports from these fields are crowded out of this issue, but may be expected in the January 1st number.
The receipts and expenditures of the year exceed those of any previous year. Not only so, but the shortage of last year has been overcome and we have a credit balance to carry over for 1907. We do not boast;—we are aware that our totals are as nothing compared with the millions devoted annually to the propaganda of error in its various compounds and delusions. Were it not for those millions spent in salaries for ministers, in Church edifices, etc., the bad tidings of great misery for all people except the elect would speedily give place to the "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."
Evidently the Lord has designed the permission of this great misrepresentation of his character and name by the Adversary who for so long has deluded so many of the true household of faith and totally blinded those who believe not. (2 Cor. 4:4.) And doubtless, too, it is of the Lord's permission that now, as the clearer light shines in upon his Word, that those millions should gradually turn to the support of that "religious infidelity" called "Higher Criticism" and its twin sister, the Evolution theory, which repudiate the Bible record that Adam was created an earthly image of God and fell into imperfection and death through disobedience; that hence the race needed the work of the Redeemer at Calvary for their forgiveness; and will yet need that Redeemer's work of restitution back to all that was lost in Adam (during the Millennium), ere God's plan of salvation is completed. (Acts 3:19-21.) Doubtless these "strong delusions," together with that of Spiritism and Christian Science falsely so-called are permitted now for the testing of Laodicea (Rev. 3:14), the separation of the wheat from the chaff and tares. "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight." It consoles us to know that "The Lord knoweth them that are his," and that none of these shall be plucked from his hand, his power, his care. It will not be possible in this day for those strong delusions to "deceive the very elect," however ignorant or humble they may be.
On the other hand we note that the Lord wonderfully blesses what money his wisdom does provide. And the very scarcity of money becomes a blessing in that it encourages the faithful to economy and self-denials which doubtless inure to their greater spiritual profit, in various ways. Doing what we can let us be thankful and content. "Thy will be done!"
Total output of DAWNS, "Scripture Studies," cloth-bound,
sold at cost.......................................... 377,959
Total output DAWN, Vol. I., magazine form, sold at
Deficit of 1905, paid.....................$ 3,952.73
Pilgrim and Convention expenses........... 11,752.45
For Tracts, free TOWERS and newspaper
Maintenance of Foreign Branches........... 9,715.83
Balance, overplus, 1906................. $ 3,349.75
Let us permit the blessings of this year to encourage and strengthen and nerve us for the New Year. It may be a strain upon our faith to expect still greater things in 1907, but who knows the mind of the Lord to the contrary? Let us do our parts faithfully and leave the results to him. He is able to put millions into the work through seemingly natural means if he choose; and as we approach the close of the reaping time it should not surprise us to see the work extend wonderfully in the next three years, and then more rapidly close.
If we are doing all in our power, let us not worry but go on contentedly. If we on examination find that we are not doing all in our power we should not be content, but should watch and pray and strive to be of those of whom the Lord will say, "She hath done what she could." Remember that the best thing for your friend to read is STUDIES (or DAWN), Vol. I. Remember that every DAWN reader should be on the TOWER list. Remember that you can at no cost but time be a "Volunteer" -tract distributor.
A little child shall lead them!
Oh blessed, blessed time—
The Universe will be at peace,
The Bells of Heaven will chime,
As Angel Choirs again will sing
The song of Bethlehem's plain,
Glory to God! "How good He is!"
On Earth good will to men.
A little child shall lead them;
The fierce—the meek—the strong
No chains shall hold, nor fetters bind
The captives in that throng.
But Love shall be the leading string
The Universe to sway!
A Baby's fingers will control
And guide them in the way.
A little child shall lead them;
The pride and pomp of War,
The captives' groan, the angry tone
The battle's awful roar—
No more disturb the harmony
Of Earth's long-sought repose;
And Wilderness and desert place
Shall blossom as the rose.
A little child shall lead them;
The meek, so long oppressed,
Will then rejoice in perfect peace
And all the earth possess.
No more will vain ambition rule
Nor drench with blood the sod,
But all the ransomed human sons
Rejoice before their God.
Oh Precious Master, in whose arms
The little ones were blessed,
Unmindful of the clamoring crowd
That round thy pathway pressed,—
Fill our hearts with childlike faith,
Let Love expel the leaven
Of Sin's unholy blighting power,
For of such is the Kingdom of Heaven.