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I am sending under separate cover the little book, "Practical Methods," which I am told is being widely circulated, that you may appreciate the subtle bait the wily Adversary is using to entrap the pure-minded. You must see that the author is evidently sincere and honest and hence the more powerful tool of Satan. You must see that an advanced point of knowledge is indeed given, but, like the Bible symbol, it is water from the mouth of the dragon.
I am told that this counterfeit "regeneration" is the secret, underlying teaching of Seventh Day Adventism, New Thought and Theosophy, Christian Science and Spiritism, and indeed every outgrowth of the "three unclean spirits" now boldly masquerading under the guise of purity and [R4129 : page 39] righteousness. I feel sure, Brother Russell, unless you note carefully certain facts you will fail to appreciate the severity of the temptation under which such a book comes to one of the Lord's true-hearted and pure-hearted. The religious errors are so apparent that one such earnest searcher for knowledge would not, could not, fail to distinguish them, and for this reason fail to see its danger. But failing to see that the Word of the Lord was sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work, and still under the delusion that light on these matters, considered secular, should properly come through secular channels, a book like this is read as secular knowledge, and unconsciously the principles of Theosophy are absorbed and do their vitiating work.
No human mind, as such, is capable of devising the subtle deception that underlies this book. Passing by the easily detected errors, from which the unwary reader feels himself perfectly safe, and, sure that he is gleaning only needful secular knowledge, he is not prepared to see how certainly and surely he has been led to enter a realm of thought, which adherence to the Word of the Lord would have saved him from entering. That DAWN, Vol. VI., gives explicit information I am fully aware; that the Lord's people have only tasted of this "heavenly gift" I am equally aware.
I feel sure, Brother Russell, that danger to the Lord's people from this source has never before been seen. You have on several occasions said the words to me, but I have never before so fully appreciated their force, that "human knowledge is defiled"—wisdom from beneath, earthly, sensual, devilish. I appreciate as never before that no channels are clean except such as are divinely provided.
Do you appreciate, Brother Russell, that a pure-minded person could take this book and read into its words that which is pure and good, and yet be defiled by a certain clearly discernible spirit after its results are manifest, but not discernible previously? Perhaps the discernment came by means of light now due, but which was not due before a recent date.
I wondered when, in the WATCH TOWER, you warned the friends against mechanical manifestations of spirits, through raps and Ouija boards, that you were silent on so powerful Satanic weapons as scientific books. Literary and professional brethren are surely more open to danger from this source than from material sources. Does not one come more directly in contact with the spirit of the Evil One through a book than through a mechanical device? Is this danger of the Lord's people confined to the physicians and the teachers? Does not the very hunger of the mind of all for knowledge, with the plausible necessity for its employment, constitute a most powerful temptation to every intelligent child of the Lord? Does not our great Adversary know this fact, and is he not specially designing to attack this point, surely vulnerable in so many? Is it not time to sound the alarm in a new direction? "Be in health" surely was timely, but have all heard?
I feel sure that the circumstances under which I am mailing you this are sufficient reasons for the earnestness of my letter, and I know my heart has grown into a sympathy for the severity of the temptation under which the Lord's holy ones encounter our wily foe, and I surely cannot do less than communicate to you that which has now become so plainly evident.
To be perfectly balanced physically is to be almost immune to disease. In other words, those who digest well what they eat, and who eat sufficiently and who work proportionately are so healthy that colds and other ailments pass them by. Those attacked by every passing ailment are usually either the under-nourished or the slothful. (See Vol. VI., pp. 559-562.)
This is true also of the New Creation. Some "babes" in Christ are always "catching" something in the way of false doctrine—usually because under-nourished in the Truth, but sometimes because their labors for the Truth have been insufficient to properly utilize the nourishment they have taken.
Whoever has studied the Word to good effect has learned that its standard is the correct one; namely, that we must grow in knowledge and the graces of the Spirit by our daily walk in life. We put forth first the faith foot and then the works foot, and thus proceed to more faith and more works. These "rightly exercised" make us strong in the Lord and the power of his might. It is to such obedient children of God that the promise applies, "The wicked one toucheth him not." Surely this is the only safe condition for any of the Lord's people to occupy.
The Lord has provided for his household the long-promised "meat in due season"—"things new and old." Some have repudiated and violently opposed these harvest [R4129 : page 40] blessings; others of us have embraced them and feasted on them and hungered and thirsted for more and more of the same kind, declaring with the poet:—
We want more of the same, but since tasting of the heavenly manna we have no appetite for other things. If the class thus described is rightly exercised by their good nourishment they will be active in distributing it to others. They will neither be slothful nor be busy making a new brand of their own. They prefer to use and to recommend to others the very kind and brand which the Lord has provided. These, thankful and active, are in no danger from all the various snares and poisons prepared by the great Adversary—and permitted by God as tests to his people. As the Apostle Peter declares: "If ye do these things ye shall never fall."
(1) Those who received the Truth with joy—those glad to learn that there is not a hell of torment, but a blessing provided by the Lord for all the families of the earth. These, without the proper loving zeal, are indolent as respects labors of love and self-denial on behalf of the Lord, the Truth and the brethren: the Truth they have rather inclines to puff them up and makes them fit subjects for any malaria of error which the Adversary may blow their way. The more knowledge of the Truth such have had and have not properly used to the glory of God the more sure they are to "catch" some error; and the severer and more hopeless will be their case. Is this not both true and just? Does it not speak loudly to all of us to strive, to labor, to sacrifice, if we would be accepted as "overcomers"?
Nor is it enough merely to "beat the air"; we must, as the Apostle declares, "strive lawfully if we would be crowned." (2 Tim. 2:5.) And lawfully means: in harmony with our Lord, the great Chief Reaper, and the arrangements he has provided. It is noticeable that the "slothful servants," when entrapped by the Adversary, seem to become very energetic for the error. With sorrow we say it: we know of some who have long been favored of God with a knowledge of the Truth, who seem less clear in it than they were ten or twenty years ago, and who show less fruitage than they then did. Such, unless they become awakened, will be just in the condition to be ensnared. Would that we could arouse such. But if they are deaf to the Lord's words how little may we hope that ours would influence them.
(2) The under-nourished spiritually are liable to "catch" errors, or rather to be caught by them, at any time. We may well suppose that, "as new born babes," they have the Lord's special care for a time, that they may grow strong in the Lord. But we must also expect that such as refuse and neglect the various provisions and exhortations of the Master for their development, will not be counted worthy of a share in the Kingdom, and will therefore be permitted to stumble and fall "with the hypocrites," though they are not hypocrites and eventually will have a different portion. First one thing and then another will be permitted of the Lord to prove and test and sift his true people; whom he will thus refine and purify for himself, for his companionship in the coming glory.
"Is this poison?" asks one dear reader, who sends us a postal-card recently received from "The Home Preacher." The card alludes vaguely to "the third watch of harvest," "the midnight cry" and "a cake of barley bread." Yes, dear sister, it is intended to poison many and may poison an occasional one here and there, of such as are of the "catching" sort described foregoing. But it will not poison those who are truly the Lord's, for "they shall never fall."
The inconsistency of confusing the third watch of the morning with a midnight cry is not enough—the harvest in the night only adds to the confusion and leads to wonderment as to the mental calibre and make-up of the "Home Preacher." It is time, high time, that some [R4130 : page 40] one gave him a real barley cake, for he evidently needs more substantial food than he has yet had.
Briefly: this effort of the Adversary to hinder the Truth and to ensnare the Lord's followers is served by two who were once in the Truth slightly. The one was in "mission work" some years ago in St. Louis. The mission failed and he became interested in Present Truth. Later he got into conflict with the St. Louis Church, because he entertained the idea that God had appointed him its lord and master, regardless of the will of the Church as expressed in its vote. The racking and splitting of the Church ran over three years and resulted in its standing fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free. As the Editor of this journal could not support the brother in his unscriptural endeavor to lord it over God's heritage, he became our enemy and maligner and has for a year or more been doing what he can to destroy the harvest work. But he can have no power at all except as permitted by the Father.
The other "Home Preacher" professed considerable interest in the Truth some years ago. He would have been glad to be one of the "Pilgrims," but the Society could not conscientiously aid his aspirations. He started to do Colporteur work, but made no success of it. He objected to being styled a Colporteur—preferred to be called a minister, etc. We assured him that we regard all servants of the Lord as "ministers," but that "Colporteur" merely signified a minister who served the cause in a special manner, and hence that we preferred that cognomen. We were, however, quite agreeable to his striking his pen through the word colporteur on the Order and the Report blanks. Later on his accounts got behind, because, instead of colporteuring, he undertook the writing of a novel "along the lines of the 'Truth,'" he explained. We objected, and urged that consecrated time and money could be more wisely [R4130 : page 41] used. Unable to pay his own way, he concluded to get married; but of course this made matters worse. He became very bitter toward the Society and its President, because we could not supply him with all the financial aid he thought was his due.
These gentlemen having found that their past methods have not prospered, are now practising on the gullibility of the Truth people, selling five-cent pamphlets for fifty cents each and attracting the money their way by sending out to all of our addresses obtainable postal-cards referring to the Dawns, Midnight Cry, Harvest, etc. Compare 2 Tim. 3:8-13.