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FOR many years the work of the Society has shown phenomenal progress, our last report being the best of all—an astonishment even to the most hopeful. Of course, in the face of the financial depression, we had not the courage to hope that the present year would even nearly come up to last year's remarkable showing. We are confident, therefore, dear brethren, that you will be overwhelmed with surprise to learn that, notwithstanding the adverse conditions to which the panic led, the present year not only shows as favorably as last year, but shows a great improvement. We may well rejoice with one another and give to our Lord all the praise. Surely without him we could do nothing, in the face of the opposition which we continually meet from the world, from the flesh, and, above all, from our great Adversary, who works in and through the blinded children of disobedience. Ah! more and more do we realize the meaning of the Apostle's words, when he declares, "We wrestle not with flesh and blood, but with wicked spirits in high positions."—Eph. 6:12.
The contest is so unequal that if we did not have the supervision and protection of our Lord through his various agencies, we would surely be deceived and thwarted in every direction. As it is, in the light of our Lamp, the Word of God, we know what to expect; that for the harvest testing, which begins with the house of God and extends to the nominal systems and the world, there will be a relaxing of the Divine restraints upon the evil spirits, permitting their greater activity and correspondingly more and more severe tests upon all mankind. We remember our Lord's words, to the effect that the deceptions would ultimately prove so severe that they would "deceive, if it were possible, the very elect." It will not be possible, because for this class the Lord will provide special protection, special warnings, special assistances. We note the Apostle's remark that if it began first with us, what will the end be upon those who obey not the Gospel? "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"—I Pet. 4:18.
While the report shows progress in the work accomplished in extending the Truth to others, our chief cause for rejoicing lies in the fact that a deep work of grace seems to be in progress in many places; we believe very generally throughout all the Harvest work, considered as a whole. We are able to form, we think, fairly good estimates along these lines from the phraseology of the letters we receive and also from the reports made to us by the "Pilgrims." The spirit of brotherhood, the spirit of love, seems to be on the increase, even as the reverse spirit is increasing and manifest in the world—a spirit of strife and envy, evil-speaking and hatred.
We have been pleased to note the remarkable progress made by some dear friends who have come into the light of Present Truth recently. The rapidity with which they grasp the outline of the Plan in many details, and the zeal with which they undertake to "let their light shine," and to bring their thoughts and words and doings into line therewith, are evidences of the power of the spirit of the Truth working in them, and are gratifying indeed. But alas! a faithful "View" from the Watch Tower reminds us of the fact that the harvest time is not alone for gathering the wheat from the fields, but a time also for threshing and winnowing it, for the separation of the chaff from the wheat, that the latter may be ready for the garner. We should, perhaps, expect that the remaining years of the harvest will be conspicuously marked in this manner. While we expect a large ingathering of ripened grain, we must also expect that the flail of trial and testing will fall heavily, swiftly and repeatedly upon the wheat, that it may be thoroughly threshed, that every grain may be thoroughly separated from the hull or chaff. Results may sometimes be very disappointing as we find ourselves mistaken in our estimates; as we find some fall whom we had no doubt would stand firmly with us to the end of the journey and enter the garner of the Kingdom. However, the work is the Lord's, and not ours. It is for us to do with our might what our hands find to do, and to leave all results in the Divine care, knowing that our Lord is too wise to err, and that his love for all of his dear people is far more intense than ours, and that nothing in their interest, for their correction in righteousness, etc., will be left undone.
It is ours, therefore, to do our part and leave the remainder with him. We cannot share the sentiments of our opponents that the Lord has allowed the harvest work to progress thirty-four years along wrong lines, and now wishes three or four self-appointed brethren to [R4293 : page 372] take direction of affairs and say what should and what should not appear in the columns of this Journal, etc. This very same thought, as some of our readers know, has twice in the past led to conspiracies on the part of misguided brethren to turn the channel of the Stream of Truth more to their pleasement. As those efforts failed, so, we believe, other efforts, of a slightly modified form, will fail. These endeavors cause us sorrow of heart indeed, but in no sense or degree shake our confidence in the Lord and his perfect mastery of the situation and the carrying out of the harvest work. Our sorrow is for the deluded brethren whom the Adversary thus sifts out. It is not for us to question the methods of Divine Wisdom, but rather to remember that "The Lord knoweth them that are his." We may esteem brethren too highly or insufficiently, but the Lord knows the heart and makes no mistake. Then, too, each of the called ones has a will of his own. It is not our flesh that is being tested, but our wills; hence the necessity for watching our hearts and keeping very humble; otherwise pride or ambition may enter and in a few months, or even a few days, or hours or moments might work havoc to all our character development, from the Lord's viewpoint.
Ah! how carefully we should heed the words, "Keep thy heart with all diligence (thy will, thy affections), for out of it are the issues of life"—life eternal or death eternal.—Prov. 4:23.
We have some very important and very interesting things to present to you respecting the grand outlook for the work in 1909, but that properly belongs to the "View" of our next issue, and we must not trench upon it here. Suffice to say that it contains wonderful hopes and prospects, under the Lord's continued guidance, and your continued cooperation.
With the New Year we expect to drop the word "Zion's" in the title of our Journal, because many of the friends inform us that the word is objectionable, having been so much used by Mr. Dowie and his followers. They report that our Journal is frequently cast aside under the supposition that it is published under Dowie's auspices, or in some manner affiliated with Zion City, which he founded. The new name, THE WATCH TOWER, is the one by which the Journal is usually mentioned. It appears, further, that African churches and papers use the word Zion extensively, which has led to the inquiry whether or not our Journal is published and generally read by colored people.
We consider the subscription list of our Journal the surest and safest criterion, as respects the numbers of our deeply interested ones. Our present enrolment is 25,000. This is only half the list we think we should have. It is the only discouraging feature connected with this report. It shows no increase over last year. For our encouragement, however, we must remember that during this year the Postoffice Department put into effect with all publications a rule intended to cut off the lists the names of all who do not actually subscribe and pay the money for their subscriptions, or have it paid for them by others. This meant the cutting off of large numbers of names from our list. Otherwise the list would probably show at least 5,000 stronger. As it was, our Society advanced to the TOWER account moneys representing the subscriptions of those who requested the Journal as the Lord's poor, and also advanced arrearage for those requesting the TOWER continued to them on credit. The Society is pleased to do this, as the work is one in any event, and any surplus which might accrue from the WATCH TOWER would belong to the Society. We state these matters in explanation and wish all our dear readers to know that we are as glad to have their names on the list, if they are poor and unable to pay for themselves, as if they were rich. We are continually reminded of the Scriptural declaration that amongst the Lord's consecrated flock there are not many rich nor great, but chiefly the poor of this world, rich in faith.
We offer no premiums to obtain subscriptions. We rely upon your loving interest in this Journal and in the Truth it presents and in the brethren whom we believe will be blest and profited by the reading of it. On these high grounds we appeal to all the consecrated in sympathy with this Journal and its mission, to see to it that the names of all the interested promptly get on our lists, whether as paying subscribers, or on credit, or as the Lord's poor.
What can and will you do in this direction for the coming year? Those who are on the list of the "Lord's poor" will please remember that their requests for renewal need not be sent to us now, but next May. We thus arrange so as to save our office force, for whom the present is the very busy season.
We esteem this department very highly, because it permits us to keep closely in touch with the dear friends of the Truth, and to know of their joys and sorrows, and to give them advice along various lines of their special requests. We want you to know how much your letters are appreciated; how pleased we are to have them, and we want you to understand why only an occasional letter receives a response, and that, sometimes, a very brief one (perhaps on a postal-card). It is because we trust that you accept the DAWN-STUDIES and TOWERS and Tracts as answers. Whenever a letter contains a direct question, we endeavor to give it a direct answer, and very frequently can do this best by citing the volume and page of the DAWN or TOWER in which it is treated much more fully than a private letter would permit. We offer the suggestion that in writing to us you endeavor to keep the business part of your letter separate from the more social portion, and, if you ask questions, please make them pointed as possible. Say as much as possible in few words, and your letter will receive more, rather than less care and attention. Let us assure you that the Lord has greatly blessed many of your kind letters to our refreshment of heart, during various trying experiences, which he has wisely and lovingly permitted, and against which we do not murmur nor repine.
Your assurances of your prayers and love and progress in the Truth and its service have been specially helpful. Continue, dear friends, to remember us and all the dear colaborers in your prayers. We feel sure that this is true in the case of all those who have informed us that they have taken the Vow.
The newspaper has become the great factor in the daily life of the civilized world. The Lord seemed to point us to this way also of forwarding the interests of the Truth, and opened a wide door for us in connection with the publication of the debates. We have sought wisdom and grace to use this opportunity to the Lord's praise and to the finding of his people, and their liberation from the chains of error. The Lord has greatly blessed the effort so that at the present time the editor's [R4294 : page 373] weekly sermons are published in eleven newspapers regularly, representing a combined circulation of 402,000. This is equivalent to a circulation of 400,000 tracts per week, or 21,000,000 per year, with the advantage that it reaches people in a manner which some prefer; for quite a good many dislike to be seen receiving or reading a tract. Surely this is an excellent field, well worthy of cultivation as one of the best means of reaching the reading public.
Brethren familiar with newspaper methods advise us that Allegheny is practically unknown, that Pittsburgh is noted more for its smoke and dirt, steel and iron, Homestead riot and millionaires, than for anything along the lines of science, literature or religion. They assure us that if the weekly sermons emanated from a more favorable quarter it would possibly result in the publication of the sermons all over the United States; that within a year there might be hundreds of papers publishing them regularly. Investigation and reflection seemed to teach that Chicago and St. Louis, although central in a large degree, have a stock-yard and big reputation, rather than a religious one; and Boston, although cultured and scientific, has a reputation for unorthodox fads along religious lines. Altogether we concluded, after seeking Divine guidance, that Brooklyn, N.Y., with a large population of the middle class, and known as "The City of Churches," would, for these reasons, be our most suitable center for the harvest work during the few remaining years. Besides, the brethren of the office force, always zealous to use their time, energy and opportunities in holding meetings, will find in Brooklyn and surrounding cities a vast field, only partially cultivated at the present time. Within the radius of a few miles reside seven and one-half millions of civilized people of every nation—the two-hundredth part of the population of the whole earth—the one-fiftieth of civilization. There are more Jews in New York City than in all Palestine, and more Irishmen than in Dublin, the capital of Ireland. We trust that our proposed move will commend itself to all of our dear friends. In our next issue we will briefly explain to you some of the Lord's remarkable leadings in connection with the selection of the new Bible House, which is undergoing extensive repairs to adapt it to the needs of the work.
When a year ago we looked at our reports, a month after the panic began, we concluded that the Colporteur work had reached its climax, and that whatever success might attend other parts of the work, it would be impossible for the dear Colporteurs to make ends meet, in the face of a money stringency; that they would be obliged to retire, and hence that the sales would drop off greatly. Your surprise can be no greater than ours to find that, notwithstanding these various difficulties, the year 1908 stands head and shoulders above its predecessor and every other. True, the shutting down of works spoiled some of the territory entirely, but even this worked a blessing and led the Colporteurs to try the small villages and rural routes, with surprisingly good results, carrying the Truth to hungry hearts, who might otherwise not have been brought in contact with it. The total output of DAWN-STUDIES for the year shows an average of more than 2,000 volumes for each working day of the year. And the best of all—the last two months have been the best two of this, the best year.
We note a great work of grace amongst the dear Colporteurs themselves—a deepening, mellowing, enriching of the Lord's holy Spirit of love and zeal. Not content with colporteuring merely, they seek, in harmony with our suggestions, to water the seed which seems to have fallen into good ground. By the time the Colporteur is ready to leave the city or town, he generally finds a number of interested ones ready to form a Berean Class for further study of the Word, by the aid of the Society's "Helps," which, we believe, the Lord has specially provided for this harvest time and this "hour of temptation."
Let us all continue to remember these dear, loyal, faithful servants of the Truth in our petitions to the Throne of Grace. We scarcely dare hope that the year 1909 will show a further increase upon the present one in this department; for we constantly say to ourselves, "Will wonders never cease?" No such sale in subscription books was ever known. Undoubtedly the Lord is using this method, not only to reach many of his ripe and Truth-hungry saints, but also to put the Truth into the homes of others, where it will be sought and devoured, and give strength during the "time of trouble," especially to the Great Company class.
Tons of literature have gone forth this year. The present report does not include the German and Scandinavian Tract distribution, which will be set forth later. However, the totals in the English are astounding. When it is remembered that these Tracts are nested four in one, and separate, it gives us a total of over thirty millions. You would be much interested in the details of this distribution—to know that not only Pilgrims and Colporteurs, but also doctors, merchants, housewives, etc., carefully plan to redeem their time from secular pursuits that they may give the more time and energy to this branch of the work. God is blessing it, too. In various ways we can note that those who are "not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ," but are zealous to serve it, are blessed of the Lord in their hearts and heads, and granted increasing privileges of service in various ways. It is certainly true that a great blessing goes out from this work to every one that participates in it, and that it would be well worth while to continue it for their sakes, if not one of these seeds of Truth fell into good and honest hearts and brought forth fruitage; but, on the contrary, the reports we receive show that gradually the Truth is making headway against opposition and finding the "Israelites indeed, in whom is no guile."
The Postoffice Department has not yet restored to us second-class privileges in connection with the Old Theology quarterly, hence we think of discontinuing it. Order all you can use of the old stock that we need not "move" it. The present form of the Old Theology Quarterly has become widely known, and may have gained some enemies, as well as friends. Look out for the new quarterly, "PEOPLE'S PULPIT." We propose transferring the subscriptions of the Old Theology Quarterly to "PEOPLE'S PULPIT," confident that this change will be satisfactory to all of the subscribers. But the Postoffice Department may demand to see our authorization of such substitution. We request, therefore, that you address our Society by Postcard, saying in so many words that you will be pleased to receive "PEOPLE'S PULPIT" for the remainder of the time that Old Theology Quarterly would be coming to you on your subscription already paid.
During the forepart of the year, when financial matters looked unfavorable, we made no special attempt to increase the number of the Pilgrims, but, as the year advanced, and we found that instead of the Tract Fund donations decreasing, they were increasing, we began to put on more force, and today have several new Pilgrims and some others ready to start early in the New Year. This branch of the service is greatly blessed of the Lord, especially in connection with the interested. A special effort seems to be necessary to successfully reach the public. For the new year we plan to have several Pilgrims do a special evangelistic work with the public in cities and towns where we have, and where we have not, interested readers and classes.
Our thought is to have these services in good localities and well advertised. We are selecting the brethren whose talents, we believe, will best qualify them for this department, leaving to the others the special work of more particularly ministering to the household of faith, as heretofore. We appreciate very much the helpfulness of all the dear friends along this line of service and trust and believe that the Lord has fully rewarded their self-sacrificing labors, in connection with the arranging and advertising. Only beyond the veil will we fully know what are the results. Now we see by faith, but are sure that the Lord's Word will not return to him void, but will prosper in the thing whereunto it was sent, and that our endeavors, on behalf of others, will bring refreshment to ourselves.
In the financial department, it will be noticed that the expenses of the Pilgrims run up into larger figures than ever before. This does not signify extravagance on the part of any of the dear brethren, but is owing to the following: Many of the dear friends go to considerable expense in hiring halls and advertising the one-day conventions (and sometimes the Pilgrim visits), and these outlays in the service of the Truth we have asked them to report to us, so that this money also can appear in our reports as so much money contributed to the Society and paid out by the Society for said meetings, etc., even though our treasury never actually received the money, nor paid it out. The money was spent for the propaganda, and had it not been so spent, quite probably it would have been sent to the Tract Fund. Have this in mind, therefore, when noting the summary of cash received and cash paid out, against Pilgrim expenses.
Confident that it would not be the Lord's will that we should go in debt, we are very careful not to undertake larger contracts than we feel reasonably sure we can meet financially. But as the year passed and the funds accumulated, we concluded that the Lord had in view a widening of the Work, and was preparing us for it. It is our thought that the increase of financial power put into our hands should not lead to less economical methods, but to an enlargement of the Work. We remember the Lord's statement, "He that is faithful in that which is least would be faithful in that which is greater." We go to our new quarters, therefore, financially well equipped for the opening of the work on a larger scale.
Our reasons for believing that a large number of the Lord's people are to be brought into the light of Present Truth during the year just beginning we will set forth in our January 1st "outlook." We believe that you will all agree with us on this subject, after reading the evidences.
TRACTS circulated free............................ 7,686,500
TOWERS circulated free.............................. 445,000
SERMONS in newspapers, about..................... 11,500,000
Foregoing in tract pages as usually stated...... 308,000,000
Pilgrims in service...................................... 47
Miles traveled...................................... 235,750
Public meetings held.................................. 2,527
Parlor meetings held.................................. 6,077
Balance from 1907 report.........................$ 9,260.42
"Good Hopes," 1908................................ 93,994.26
Expended in Foreign Missions:
Great Britain........................ $ 2,789.32
Switzerland, France and Italy........ 232.95
Expended for Tracts, Postage, etc..... 34,468.72
Expended for Pilgrim Service,
Conventions, etc..................... 20,074.96
Brooklyn Realty....................... 17,500.00
Balance for 1909................................ $ 8,100.34
We congratulate you, dear friends, on the Lord's blessing upon our mutual efforts. The realization of our own insufficiency for the great work which seems to be opening up before us for 1909, properly makes us feel very humble and dependent upon the great Chief Reaper. "Greater is he who is on our part, than all that be against us." Let us look carefully for his leadings and abide in his love by keeping his commandment, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another, as I have loved you."