AS our vessel steamed out of New York harbor your good wishes and kind messages of love cheered us greatly. It was a pleasure to know that you regretted to have us leave, even for two months, but it was a pleasure also to know of your brotherly love toward God's people beyond the sea in Great Britain and Scandinavia. We will remember to tell them of your interest in their welfare, and of your desire that God's blessing might accompany us to the intent that our hasty visit might further spread the "good tidings" and might further deepen their knowledge and their zeal and assist them in making their calling and their election sure in the Kingdom.
We had a pleasant voyageuneventful. The first two days the water was a little rough, and we had little difficulty in practicing Lenten self-denial. Brother Rutherford, Jr., served as our stenographer, and, under the Lord's blessing, we were enabled to get out considerable workanswers to correspondence and matter for THE WATCH TOWER and newspapers.
We landed at Plymouth (my stenographer and myself). Brother Driscoll, as representative of the Press Association, continued his journey, going direct to [R4801 : page 117] Vienna and beyond in preparation for our later coming.
The London Bible Students' Ecclesia held a general meeting the night of our arrival. It was a very happy occasion. Some excellent testimonies were given, and later we had the pleasure of a special meeting with the Elders and Deacons. As arrangements for the use of the LONDON TABERNACLE were not fully completed, Manchester was given our first Sunday in Great Britain. We arrived at Manchester Saturday evening and were met by representatives of the Bible Students there and had [R4801 : page 118] a good night's rest in preparation for Sunday, March 19.
The Hippodrome had been secured. The morning meeting was for the interested only. It was well attended, quite a number coming from surrounding places. We had a season of spiritual refreshment. A testimony meeting preceded our arrival, and our remarks, which concluded the session, were in the nature of a testimony to the grace of God on our behalf, and respecting God's blessing upon the work in general; of our constant endeavor to grow in grace, knowledge and love, and an exhortation that all of us continue so to do.
The afternoon meeting was semi-publicthat is, it had not been particularly advertised. The audience was approximately a thousand. We had excellent attention. The subject was, "The Two Salvations, but no Second Chance." The evening meeting was also in the Hippodrome. The topic was, "The Judgment of the Great White Throne." The friends had evidently advertised it thoroughly, as the audience was a very intelligent one in appearance. The number was estimated at thirty-two hundred, and it is said that hundreds were turned away. The aisles were crowded in a manner not permitted by the Fire Departments in America. For two hours the immense audience gave closest attention, many of them standing during the entire session.
The night train took us to London, and the next evening we were en route for the Continent. We went direct to Vienna. Some Jewish friends in New York had urged this course, suggesting that Vienna, Budapest, Cracow and Lemberg were great Jewish centers, and that in these cities many would be rejoiced to hear us respecting "Zionism in Prophecy."
A Jewish Rabbi of New York, who there tried to do us injury, continued his efforts of opposition in Austro-Hungary, and with considerable success. He evidently was grieved that we taught the people respecting the prophecies of the Bible. He cabled at considerable expense a long message of misrepresentation, warning the Jews to beware of usthat we were a missionary.
A moderate-sized hall had been secured in Vienna and it was crowded. The audience was of average intelligence and appearance; about two-thirds of them appeared anxious to hear us, and the other one-third seemed determined that no one should hear us. From the very beginning of our address, from all over the hall, they shouted and screamed and some of them appeared possessed of demons. One would have thought that we had come to deprive them all of life and liberty, whereas our motive was purely benevolent and a desire to make them more happyto tell them of God's love, and that the wonderful prophecies to which they are heirs, will soon be fulfilled. Evidently the many and severe lessons which the poor Jews have learned under the hand of oppression and injustice have not profited them greatly. Of justice they seem to know nothing. They neither respected our rights as friends nor even as they should have done had we been foes, neither did they respect the rights of their more intelligent brethren, who were anxious to hear what we had to say, without compromising their own liberty.
We smiled upon them and motioned to them with our hands for order, but to no avail. Through our German interpreter, Brother Koetitz, we endeavored to speak a word or two to allay their fears, but to no purpose. They shouted and screamed and whistled and made Babel of the place. Several seemed anxious to get their hands upon us, but a strong cordon of the more sensible ones formed a barricade around us. We had no fear, but those who knew our opponents better seemed quite fearful for us. Finding that we could accomplish nothing, we smilingly waved our hand, indicating that we would give up the attempt, and left the platform. The same Jews opened the way before us and kept off any opponents and guided us out of the hall into which about six hundred were crowded. A number of young Jews followed to the hotel and questioned us until midnight and asked the privilege of coming the next day.
About fifteen came the next day and questioned further respecting the Divine Plan and of the share of the Jews therein, for about two hours. They informed us that after we had left the hall on the previous night, the Jews got into a serious wrangle among themselves. (1) An atheistic, anarchistic and Zionistic class, influenced by the cablegram of Rabbi Magnus, the self-appointed head of the self-appointed society of New York, which styles itself the Jewish Kehillah. (2) An orthodox class, greatly excited, which joined with them in opposing us, believing the statement that our object was "mission," and evidently greatly in fear that we would undertake it. (3) More than half the audience, reasonable, intelligent and more civilized and sympathetic with Judaism and the Bible, but not sympathetic with the foolishness and superstition. This class was the one which was anxious to hear us. Our Jewish friends informed us that the three parties got into such a row after we left, that forty-six policemen came in and dispersed them. We presume that Rabbi Magnus and the New York Kehillah will feel very proud of their influence over the hoodlum class of their peoplethe anarchists. False words may prosper for a time, but eventually the falsifiers will be known and be disesteemed by all whose esteem is desirable. We arranged to have a large number of Yiddish papers circulated in the Jewish quarter of Vienna, so that those anxious to know respecting "Zionism in Prophecy" might not be hindered entirely by their insanely fearful brethren.
We had intended a Jewish meeting at Budapest, but the advance agent reported adversely. The Hungarian government, as explained by one of the nobles, has long been trying to break down the lines of Judaism, and to have the Jews become Hungarians and become dead to any national hopes and promises. Evidently they have been successful to a considerable degree. The prominent Jews showed little interest in Zionism and preferred that their more ignorant brethren should abandon all Zionistic hopes. Added to this no moderate priced hall was available in Budapest, and Brother Driscoll's financial allowances would not permit the renting of such halls as were available.
At Cracow no meeting was held because of the Governmental restrictions. It is on the border of Russia, and Russian usages prevail to a considerable degree. It would have required some resident to become responsible to the government in respect to the meeting and what should be said thereat, and no interest was manifested by the Jews or others to this extent.
At Lemberg the situation was similar, but as Brother Driscoll had about given up his endeavor, a Jew of some prominence seemed to be Providentially sent forward. He took an active interest in the matter, signed the papers securing the government approval, etc. We had every reason to expect that the two meetings there, afternoon [R4801 : page 119] and evening, would prove very interesting to the Jews, who constitute about 28 per cent. of the entire population; but we had miscalculated. The message from America to Vienna was forwarded to Lemberg. "Pastor Russell is a missionary and the greatest possible menace to our race," seems to have been the substance of the message. As at Vienna, the Jews were of two partiesone party anxious to hear, the other determined that no one should hear. Again the opposing Jews acted like insane peopleas though possessed of evil spirits. "They gnashed on us with their teeth," would pretty nearly fit the situation. We were reminded of Apostolic times. No meeting could be held. Again we smilingly yielded to the situation and bowed adieu to the audience. Some cheered us and some cheered our opponents for having gained a victory over us. We withdrew.
We had determined not to attempt to address the evening service, and had sent a written note to this effect. In it we mentioned our interest in the Jews, assuring them that we were not endeavoring to proselyte them to Christianity; but that since the disorderly element was so large we declined to even appear to thrust ourselves on their attention.
Then a special message came from the hall to inform us that there was a large and intelligent audience waiting for us and that certain Jews had provided military police to keep order, and that we must surely come and give the address. We went, but the wild, fanatical, foolish and almost insane conduct of the afternoon was repeated. Again we smilingly bowed to the audience that we would give up any attempt to address them. In the ante-rooms prominent Jews apologized, one a banker, another a lawyer and it should be mentioned that a prominent Rabbi made an endeavor during the meeting to have order. Nevertheless the friendly Jews were so fearful that something would happen to us that we were taken from the hall by a back way to a waiting automobile. Three of our friends stuck to us until we took our train, nearly an hour past midnight. They at least did show us that all Jews are not fanatics and insane. Indeed, they had become our fast friends, and the fact that [R4802 : page 119] we took the matter so patiently, kindly and without bitterness towards our enemies, made them interested in our message, and they requested reading matterfor themselves and some to circulate.
God alone knows what his providences may be in connection with these experiences. In our estimation, however, no higher compliment could possibly be paid to human tongue. Think of it! The Church of England Mission to the Jews has had a regular station at Lemberg, we believe also in Vienna, for years, ably and expensively managed, but these have no terror for the Jews. It was the coming of an American to speak for a few hours that threw them into such paroxysms of excitement, fear, dread of some wonderful bewitching power which would attend his utterances and sweep off a large proportion of the Jews into Christianity in two hours. Poor Jews! We must acknowledge that we are unworthy of such a tribute. Quite probably, however, their excitement on the subject may lead some to a deeper investigation than if they had heard us in a decent and orderly manner, or, not desiring to hear, had properly stayed away from the meetings to which only those interested in "Zionism in Prophecy" were in any sense of the word invited.
Our next appointment was at Berlin. There we met a very interested company of believers in Present Truth, some of whom had come about two hundred miles. We addressed them for about half an hour following their testimony meeting. Then came a general luncheon. The afternoon session was adapted to both Christians and Jews, but the topic seemed to bring an audience in which the Jews predominatedin all nearly a thousand.
Messages respecting us had been forwarded from Vienna, and there was manifested great fear lest we should convert them all in one short talk. It was surprising to us for two reasons: (1) It was in Berlin, a city of modern thought, and (2) the leader of the opposition was a Dr. Loewe, a man of fine appearance. Those who did not believe in the Bible should not have attended a meeting to which they were not invited, and if they came through any misunderstanding, justice would have demanded that they withdraw with as little disturbance as possible. It furnished a fresh illustration of how even intelligent people may be swayed by false words and prejudice. Our address had not proceeded very far until the Doctor and about 120 followers arose and retired to the rear of the room, where they made demonstrations of opposition. We judged that they were Socialists and unbelievers, because their withdrawal took place as soon as we began to refer to the prophecies of the Bible.
How strange it seems that those who disregard the promises made to Abraham, and who even question whether any such person ever existed, should pride themselves upon belonging to his family. How strange it seems to us that any who disregard the promises of the Scriptures should take any interest in the land of Palestinethe land of promise. Surely there is more desirable land to be found in many parts of the earth and much more accessible. Surely Zionism, without a religious basis, will never amount to anything.
The remainder of the audience, approximately eight hundred, remained and gave earnest attention as we set forth the interests, both to the Jews and Christians, of Zionism from the Biblical standpoint. At the conclusion of the service several Jews came forward and requested opportunity to apologize publicly for the conduct of those who had withdrawn boisterously. They spoke in the highest terms of the address they had listened to, assured us of their appreciation, and that they were not used to hearing such words from Christians, and that their brethren who had withdrawn had surely done so under misapprehension. They inquired when we would address them again, assuring us of a great audience. When they learned that we would depart the same night, they expressed regret, but warmly urged us to come back at a future time.
On the whole, who can tell but that, even in Berlin, the results may have been better for those who heard than if no prejudiced opposition had been manifested. We will leave the results with God. If the time has come for the Jews to hearken to their prophets, and for Zionism to take on a religious aspect, then it will be so. If we are mistaken, if God's time for Zionism is not yet, nevertheless Zionism, in the broadest sense of the term, is the hope of the world as well as for Israel. Whenever it shall come to pass, the Law will go forth from Mt. Zion, the Spiritual Seed of Abraham, the glorified Church, the great Messiah, with Jesus as the Head; and the Word of the Lord will go forth from Jerusalemthrough the Natural Seed of Abrahamthrough the Ancient Worthies, and so many other believing ones as will then associate themselves with that nucleus of Messiah's earthly Kingdom.