ANOTHER year has coursed swiftly by. We congratulate you that one year less lies between us and the glorious consummation of our hopes—the completion of our "change"—that one year less intervenes before the establishment of God's glorious Empire, which is to bring blessing to all the families of the earth through the setting at liberty of the captives of sin and death. From this standpoint we rejoice to see the years fly swiftly by, and, as our Lord directed, we lift up our heads and rejoice, knowing that our deliverance draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28.) But while we would not restrain the speeding days and years, nor wish for a renewal of their trials and difficulties, joys and sorrows, nevertheless we believe that the expiring year, like many of its predecessors, has been a joyful, a pleasant one to the majority of the Lord's faithful followers. To the world it might appear that the trials, the testings, the scoffs, the slanders to which faithfulness to the Lord is sure to expose, would rob life of all its pleasures. But not so: "When he giveth quietness, who then can make trouble?" (Job 34:29.) All the Lord's people are surely being taught the lesson enunciated by the Apostle—that we must learn to rejoice in tribulation, and to be patient because of our hope, which, as an anchor sure and steadfast, has entered within the vail. Quite to the contrary of what the world would suppose, our own experiences, and the testimony of many of the household of faith, assure us that no other people in all the world are so happy, so contented, so joyful in the house of their pilgrimage as are we. The poet has well said:
If, momentarily, earth-born clouds and shadows do to some degree becloud our pathway, it is but for a brief season until we hear the voice of our Father and of our Savior assuring us of "Love divine, all love excelling." Before our mental vision comes the bright picture of the first manifestation of divine love on our behalf—in the redemption accomplished by our dear Redeemer; then the call of the Little Flock, and the fact that the way of attainment thereto has been made so clear to us—justification through faith in the blood, and begetting to a new nature through the operation of the truth and the sanctification of our hearts. Then comes the evidence that we have the divine favor, in that the eyes of our understanding have been permitted to see wonderful things in the divine Word—to realize that we are in the harvest time, that the great Chief Reaper is present, that the separating work is in progress, that the wheat is already being garnered, and that when the reaping, threshing and winnowing processes shall have been completed, and the last worthy member of the Body shall have been changed, "Then shall the righteous [the saints] shine forth as the sun in the Kingdom of their Father."—Matt. 13:43.
Our sighs and tears are indeed called for as we think of our dear friends and neighbors who are still blind to these glorious things. Yet the murmur is hushed and the tears dried, as we hearken to the voice of him that speaketh from heaven, assuring us that his love and sympathy for the groaning creation are far greater than ours, and that he has made ample provision for every man, and that in his "due time" all shall have the necessary knowledge and the necessary assistance to a participation in the glorious "restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all the holy prophets since the world began."—Acts 3:19-23.
We begin our report of the year's work with that feature in which the largest number of us have had the privilege of active participation—some by the contribution of money for the publication of these tracts and the payment of the freight and express charges thereon, others by the free circulation of the tracts, giving their time and energy thereto, and some [R4103 : page 372] by participating in both of these ways, and still others who, unable to actively participate, have sympathetically assisted the workers, figuratively holding up their hands in prayer and otherwise.
This year properly enough surpasses any of the previous years in the distribution of free literature. Many who have recently come into the Truth have found in this arrangement an opportunity for service, joining hands with those who for years have been active in volunteer tract distribution. And more and more, as the Truth works down deeply into the hearts of the Lord's people, and they come more and more to appreciate the Lord's favor to them and their privilege of being co-laborers with him, the dear friends are seeking opportunities to engage in this work. Many are obeying the Apostolic injunction to redeem the time—to buy it back from earthly cares, pleasures, ambitions, etc., that they may have the greater opportunity of "showing forth the praises of him who has called us out of darkness into his marvelous light." (Eph. 5:15,16; 1 Pet. 2:9.) We congratulate you all, dear brethren and sisters, in the success of this department of the Lord's service, and we trust that the figures shown may so stimulate and energize you that the new year before us may show no slacking of our zeal, but rather an increase, as the signs multiply about us confirmatory of our faith and hopes.
Amongst the laborers in this department of the Lord's harvest work are many brethren and sisters of good education, good social position, etc., who rightly reason that whatever of social standing or honor amongst men they may have attained should be brought to the support of the Truth—laid as a tribute upon the altar of the Lord. We think, for instance, of one company of volunteers in whose ranks are to be found several business men, several teachers, a high-school professor, a General of the U.S. Army and several bank clerks. These, instead of being ashamed to own their Lord and to witness a good confession of his Word of Truth, are properly glad that they have a little influence in the world to lay at the Master's feet. Not that we consider it a great matter to distribute gratuitously leaves of healing for the mental and moral comfort and relief of our friends and neighbors—it is, indeed, a light service, a precious opportunity for showing to our Master on a small scale our love and zeal. Glad would we be if we had a thousand tongues to sing our great Redeemer's praise, and a thousand hands and feet to use in the promulgation of the blessed message of "good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."—Luke 2:10.
The summing up of this year's work in the Colporteur department has exceeded our most sanguine hopes. Many of the dear friends, astonished at the results of last year's efforts, thought that we must not expect as great results this year: others thought it would be unwise at least to expect more; but we ventured to express the hope that this year we might reach nearly to the half-million mark. To our surprise, and yours no doubt, the totals show that we have surpassed this—notwithstanding the fact that a strike in the bindery interfered considerably for a little season.
The love and zeal with which the dear Colporteurs have labored during the year is worthy of our highest appreciation, and gradually their numbers have increased, until now we have about 600 laborers in the field, more than half of whom are giving all of their time, and others a portion, to this blessed service, which the Lord seems to be using so wonderfully in the scattering of his message. Amongst these dear laborers are several who were physicians, others who were school-teachers, stenographers, farmers and preachers, and others still who left manual labor and housework to give their time and energy to this method of preaching the Gospel. God is blessing these dear co-laborers, and we can note in their letters to the office, in their reports, and in the good results which follow their labors, that they themselves are growing continually in grace, in knowledge and in the love which the Truth begets, which includes meekness, gentleness, patience, long-suffering, brotherly kindness.
We note with interest also that the public are awakening more and more—that they are discovering a spiritual deadness in the nominal Church, and that those who have been begotten of the Lord's holy Spirit are feeling and hungering and thirsting for the Truth, which the chaff of sectarianism cannot satisfy. Many formerly earnest are therefore absenting themselves from former Church associations—sometimes to seek for spiritual food elsewhere and sometimes giving themselves over to worldliness and carelessness and doubt. These, who could not be reached from any pulpit, are reached by the Colporteurs, who not only defend the Bible as the divine revelation, but proffer them helpful suggestions, and seek to put into their hands the Bible Keys. The books may be neglected for a time, yet the earnestness of the Colporteur will so attach itself to the STUDIES that, as the time of trouble nears, the keys [R4104 : page 372] will more and more come into use for the blessing and enlightenment not only of the Little Flock but also of the Great Company. As the earnestness and spirituality of the Colporteurs increase and abound more and more, their work becomes more lasting, more effective, as, for instance: a report from one group of Colporteurs recently received showed that after their canvass of a small city they were able to locate a number of deeply interested Christians, some of whom had purchased from them, while others already had the DAWNS in their possession. These were gathered to a little meeting in one of their homes. The Colporteur talked over with them the Divine Plan of the Ages for a whole Sunday, and on the following Sunday he urged that they have regular meetings. This was decided upon by a vote of twenty, and one of their number, who manifested not only a deep consecration but a clear knowledge of the Truth, was chosen as their Elder or leader for further cooperation in the studying together of the [R4104 : page 373] Divine Plan. Thus the harvest work goes grandly on, despite the opposition of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Some eight or nine newspapers are now publishing Brother Russell's weekly sermons—the aggregate of their circulation amounting to more than 300,000—possibly 400,000. This in a year means approximately 18,000,000 copies of sermons, and since newspapers are presumed to be read by three to five persons each, it swells the total of possibility in this direction to an enormous figure. We are not forgetting that comparatively few have ears to hear the whole truth, the deep things of God, but are remembering also that there are many features of Present Truth which at the present time appeal strongly to the common sense of even the natural man, and it is our belief, based upon experience, that a favorable influence for the Truth is thus being widely exercised.
What is the power, the influence, that is pushing forward this department of the Harvest work? We trust that it is the Lord who is moving in this matter, as in all others, and rejoice that he is using the brethren in this as well as in the other matters. For instance, the latest request that has come to us for publication of the weekly sermon explained that various of the brethren had made request of the editor that he should publish these discourses, and that finally some of them addressed the "Circulation Manager," assuring him that they could guarantee at least 100 new subscriptions to his journal if the sermons should appear. Thus was the Lord pleased to use the brethren, who had in mind not only their own desires in respect to the reading of the sermons weekly, and the opportunity of sending copies to their friends, but additionally the thought that thousands would thus be brought in contact with the Truth who otherwise could not be so favorably reached. We commend this course to the dear friends in various quarters.
We note specially favorable results through the Pittsburgh Dispatch, and believe that other good work is gradually being accomplished. We encourage the dear friends who have been maintaining this work by their subscriptions to the Dispatch to continue so doing to the extent of their ability. We also suggest that the dear friends everywhere encourage the editors of these papers from time to time by mentioning briefly some point in the sermons which they have specially appreciated, and acknowledging the good work which the editors are doing by assisting in the publication of these sermons. In nearly every case ministers of the various denominations, sometimes singly and sometimes in a body, approach the editors and, by misrepresentation and threats, endeavor to have the publication of the sermons stopped. If the friends of the Truth manifest no interest, and give the newspapers no encouragement in the matter, and the opposition is active, it is easy for the editor to conclude that his interests would be better served by discontinuing the publication of the sermons.
The Woman's National Daily has made a clubbing arrangement with ZION'S WATCH TOWER, which now includes all the United States. Under this arrangement we are permitted to receive from within that territory $1.60 as a year's subscription to both papers, or 60 cents for a year's subscription to the National Daily from those who are already TOWER subscribers. Many of the dear friends have already taken advantage of this. Some, going further, have solicited subscriptions to the National Daily at $1.00 per year (one-third cent per copy) and have thus made for themselves a little profit, besides putting into the hands of their neighbors 52 sermons for the year. We suggest to all residing in the favored territory that such subscriptions, costing them but 60 cents each, would be excellent Christmas gifts, which might accomplish much for the Truth. We hope soon to know of some weekly papers in the North and East which would give our friends in those districts as good an opportunity at as low a price. We will advise you how we can accomplish the largest good in this direction—by assisting in the circulation of a paper which already has a large circulation amongst intelligent people.
The only disappointment we have to note in this year's report is in connection with the subscription list of ZION'S WATCH TOWER. It is not what it should be—not what we had expected it to be by this time. True, its circulation is large. We print 30,000 copies of each issue, sometimes more, when extra sample copies are needed. But our regular paid list is only about one-half of this. It seems a pity that this branch of the service cannot be extended more widely. Those who receive the TOWER assure us of their high appreciation of it and the blessings which they look for and receive with every number. For this encouragement we thank the Lord and you all. However, it is our opinion that if every thoroughly interested brother and sister would take this matter to heart, they could increase our list at least 10,000 during the present year. This is not an appeal for money. Our desire is that the good influence which we believe accompanies the TOWER shall be extended—that many who now have some interest and are reading the DAWNS and STUDIES, and are participating in the meetings, should additionally have the privilege and blessing that the Lord has provided through this journal. We remind you all again that those whose circumstances do not permit them to pay the price, are welcome to the TOWER free upon application, and that those who prefer not to ask for it free, yet have not the money conveniently now, may have it on credit with the plain understanding that if they should never be able to pay for it, and so request, we will cancel the indebtedness at any time. We would like to have the WATCH TOWER list representative of all the truly deeply interested friends everywhere, regardless of their financial conditions. Let each one do his part and watch and labor and pray for a wider influence for good in this direction—for the further ripening of the wheat and its ultimate preparation for the heavenly garner.
The correspondence feature of the work continues to increase, as we should expect, and we take this opportunity of assuring all that we are glad to have your letters and respond to your queries. If sometimes our replies are brief we trust you will not take it as an indication of lack of interest and appreciation. Sometimes on a card we can refer the questioner to the answer to his query in the DAWNS or in a back TOWER, and thus really respond more fully than the proper compass of a letter would permit. The new Bibles will bring many of you into closer touch with your DAWN- STUDIES and back TOWERS, and we trust will be very helpful. Nevertheless, do not forget that we are pleased to hear from you. We again request that all orders for books, tracts, etc., be on a separate sheet of paper from your general letter, that your address be very plainly written, and that any questions be separate from the letter itself. We also remind you that each receives a personal communication from the Editor twice every month—ZION'S WATCH TOWER. Please accept these communications in lieu of any lengthy epistles from him.
Number of letters and postal cards received at
Number of letters and postal cards mailed from
This branch of the harvest work has had the Lord's blessing to a marked degree during the last year. Altogether, thirty-five brethren have done more or less work in this branch of the service—some of these giving all of their time, others giving such portions as they could spare from their other engagements in life. The names of the latter do not appear in the Pilgrim list, but notifications of their visits are sent by mail. The following brief summary will give quite a comprehensive view of this branch of the service:
Total number of visits made.............................1951
" " public meetings held....................2009
" " semi-public meetings held (in parlors,
" " miles traveled.......................184,878
We have reported all the General Conventions and need not here repeat that they were simply grand—one and all. How we wish that all TOWER readers could attend at least one each year! They are such an inspiration [R4105 : page 374] as pen cannot do justice to. Once we considered them too expensive: now we consider that they pay well in increased zeal and love. "They that feared the Lord spake often together," writes the prophet, and then he adds, "A book of remembrance was written before him of them that thought upon his Word. They shall be mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I come to make up my jewels."
We cannot announce any program for these General Conventions for 1908, but feel impressed to have one in Pittsburg if the way seems to open. Let us look to the Lord for guidance—wisdom from above on the subject of time and place. We desire to take advantage of some large Convention's special excursion rates, that the larger numbers might be enabled to attend.
The "One-Day Conventions" of the past year have been events of increasing interest. We have not reported them all, for two reasons: (1) Our space is limited, and (2) although each one is different and has its own special blessings to those attending, there would of necessity be much sameness in the reporting of them. But they are surely awakening the public—Christian people in particular—especially such as have gotten hungry and tired of the "husks" of false doctrine. And they do the "brethren" good, too. They enjoy hearing not only on their own account, but also on account of others. Their self-denial in raising the money necessary for rent of auditorium and advertising brings a spiritual blessing as a reward. And their zeal to scatter the advertisements and place the show-cards finds a reward in the greater strength of character thus engendered. More than this, the conventions promote brotherly love and fellowship amongst the brethren of an entire district. Thus, for instance, at our last One-Day Convention—at Brockton, Mass.—more than 50 brethren came from Providence, R.I., on a special electric car; while friends from Lowell, Lynn, etc., joined the Boston friends and came together in a special train of five cars (321 passengers)—enjoying the journey and cheering and encouraging the Brockton class. May the Lord continue to bless this branch of the service in 1908 also.
In proportion as the Lord's spirit of love pervades our hearts, it overrides and obliterates all division of country, race, sex, language, etc., and emphasizes the Lord's words, "One is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren." (Matt. 23:8.) We properly, therefore, feel the same interest in finding one of the Lord's hungry sheep, whether the color be yellow or black or white, or whether the residence be in Africa, in Europe, in Asia or America. However, every year seems to emphasize what we have suggested along the line of the divine providence, viz., that the Lord has gathered to this favored land people out of every nation, tribe, kindred and tongue, and especially the poor emigrating classes of all nations, with a view to their emancipation from the thraldom of priestcraft and superstition in preparation for this "harvest" message; hence, it does not surprise us to find that the great majority of those interested in Present Truth are still being found in this country. And a great many of those who are being interested in foreign lands have received more or less of the knowledge of the Truth through their friends [R4105 : page 375] residing here. Nevertheless, while using every energy here in the opening of the eyes of understanding of those who give evidence of having heart loyalty to the Lord, we feel it to be both a duty and a privilege, as the Lord opens the way, to convey the light of Truth to other lands, that the loyal and the true may be found and be refreshed, and be prepared for the Kingdom by the meat in due season—the "harvest" message—"the good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."—Luke 2:10.
Since during the past year the Lord has sent to our care and stewardship an increased amount of money, we have taken it to be his will that we should not only increase our activities in the home field, but also avail ourselves of the opening doors in foreign fields, and continue to enlarge the foreign missions already established. Reports from some of these will appear in a later issue. We content ourselves in this report with a brief general review.
Principal amongst these missions is the British, which during the past year has flourished exceedingly, giving evidence that many of the British people are becoming awake and responsive to Present Truth. The condition of things in Great Britain more closely resembles the conditions in the United States and Canada than does that of any other section. We feel greatly encouraged by the outlook there.
The Australian mission is making good progress, too. The field seems to be a ripe one, but not many Colporteur reapers have presented themselves there, and consequently the work is not progressing as it otherwise might. We are hoping great things from the dear friends of that mission, and that they may become more and more warmed and imbued with the spirit of the Truth.
Considerable work has been accomplished in Germany, but results are rather disappointing for the amount of effort put forth and money expended. The Colporteur work does not seem to prosper there either, because the dear friends do not learn how to do it, or else because of the scarcity of money, or perhaps the two difficulties in combination. The people of Germany certainly live comfortably, and if they were made to appreciate the value of the spiritual food that the Lord is now spreading before his consecrated ones, they would be ready to deny themselves natural food and luxury for the sake of the spiritual. We fain would encourage the Colporteurs in that field to greater courage and greater zeal in thrusting in the sickle of Truth. What has been accomplished there has been largely through the distribution of tracts, and, alas, but a small proportion of these were scattered through volunteering, nearly all having been sent in conjunction with newspapers through the mail. Thus, the tract distribution does not mean so large a share of blessing to the dear friends of the cause as might otherwise be supposed. Nothing in this, however, should be considered a reflection on the loving zeal which has exercised many of these German brethren and sisters. We presume that the narcotic influence of nominalism, Higher Criticism, etc., has affected Germany as much as or more than any other land. We here remark that the Germans in America are amongst the most active, most earnest, most self-sacrificing.
The work in Scandinavia, especially in Norway and Sweden, has been making considerable progress in the last year. We are glad of this, and rejoice to note the zeal of many of the dear friends there. The work in Denmark seems to lag. We are trusting for much better things in the year ahead of us. The work in Switzerland, France and Italy is extremely small, rather discouraging, nevertheless some true wheat has been found and we trust some ripened for the garner. We bid the dear friends in these countries be of good cheer, and to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth more laborers into the vineyard. (Matt. 9:38; Luke 10:2.) The work in Jamaica has prospered well during the year and is taking good hold, finding a considerable number who are very zealous to serve the King of kings as Colporteurs. Nearly all of these are colored.
We cannot give much of a report from Africa. A great many books and tracts have been sent there, and Brother Booth is there doing what he can to gain a hearing amongst the blacks. He reports some success, but nothing that he can boast about. It remains to be seen whether or not we acted wisely in supposing that there might be some true "wheat" among the aborigines, and in undertaking to find it and ripen it with Present Truth. We expect to send Brother Browne (colored) shortly to see if he can do anything to further the interests of the cause there.
The proposition to serve the Truth in Japan miscarried. The missionary who had read and rejoiced and who desired to spread the Truth amongst the people there had not become sufficiently rooted and grounded in it. However, we are advised that the Japanese can read Chinese literature, and, a favorable opening having manifested itself in China, a work is under way there of which we have nothing as yet to report. We trust, dear readers, that all these various interests of the harvest lie so close to your hearts that you continually remember them at the throne of grace, petitioning for all your representatives and the Lord's in these various services of the Truth, that wisdom and grace from on high may be granted, that the Lord's will may be accomplished thereby, that his people may be blessed and his name honored. The Society's expenditure in these various missions, noted below, is in excess of whatever was collected and used in the missions themselves:
In Great Britain..................................$ 5,973.47
In Germany........................................ 6,385.00
In Australasia.................................... 5,142.54
In Scandinavia.................................... 2,089.91
In Jamaica........................................ 1,446.73
In Switzerland, France and Italy.................. 303.02
In Africa......................................... 1,740.25
In China.......................................... 1,288.19
The increased donations of this year encouraged us to spread the work as never before. The increase may be accounted for in part by the general prosperity prevailing; but this accounts for it only in part. In various ways we have evidence that a deepening work of grace is in progress amongst us. This led not only to financial activity but also to activities in Colporteuring and Volunteering and in attendance at the Conventions and arranging for them. The Lord be praised! This zeal to know the Lord, to understand his Word and to assist others toward the Kingdom is just what we should expect of the "called and chosen and faithful"!
We are not deceiving ourselves into thinking that our financial showing is very great. We know well that all of our receipts would be very small for some of the large institutions, which propagate "a ring-straked and speckled" Gospel, and that the amount would not be large enough to pay the salaries of the "officers." But we thank God that in his providence he has made us stewards to the extent indicated. We are striving to use the money so wisely that He will be pleased with the results and by and by say, "Ye have been faithful in a few things, I will make you rulers over many things."
Total number of DAWNS, "Scripture Studies,"
cloth-bound, sold at cost......................... 554,021
(This is more than 1,789 volumes per each working
day of the year.)
Total output DAWN, Vol. I., magazine form, sold at
Total output DAWN, Vol. I., magazine form, given
Balance from last year............................$ 3,349.75
"Good Hopes" realized and other Tract Fund
Expended for Pilgrim service. (This year this item is greatly enlarged by reason of including hall rents and advertising expenses, nearly all of which extra was actually sustained by the friends who were served. We have invited their reports of the amounts expended, have credited the same as a Church donation to the Fund, and charged the same in as part of the expenses connected with
the Pilgrim service.
This also includes the reported
expenses of One-Day and General Conventions.)....$17,091.38
Expended on Foreign Missions...................... 24,369.11
Cost of Tracts, TOWERS and other free literature
above, with postage, freight, rents, etc......... 35,670.91
Total expended during 1907........................$77,131.40
Balance, overplus for new work....................$ 9,260.42
Although this comfortable balance encourages us to an aggressive campaign for the Truth in 1908, we cannot hope that the receipts will equal the above report. But, if next year's receipts should be less, we will strive to use them wisely and to remember that our Lord owns all the gold and the silver and the cattle upon a thousand hills. If he sees best to withhold he will have a reason for so doing. Possibly money may be less plentiful in general, and hence the output of DAWN-STUDIES may be less, and the test of the loyalty and faithfulness of the dear Colporteurs the more keen. He knows! He knows what is best!
But on the other hand we are most decidedly of the opinion that the Harvest Message is to have a much wider circulation than it has yet had, before the closing in of the world's dark night of sorrow. It is for us to apply to ourselves the message, "Speak to the people that they go forward." It is ours to lay down our lives for the deliverance of the brethren from the yoke of error and the blindness of the Adversary, and to "show forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvelous light." Let us be faithful and endure hardness as good soldiers and wait for our Captain's word, "Well done! Faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things."