SWIFTLY SPEED the years—another has gone! But none too swiftly do they fly when we reflect that they bring us nearer and nearer to our goal—"the hope set before us in the Gospel"—"the Kingdom of God's dear Son," in which with all the faithful of this Age we hope to share, as members of "the Bride, the Lamb's Wife," associated with Him in His Throne. Yet, while rejoicing in the nearness of the Kingdom, another thought presents itself—are we ready for it—have we the graces of the Holy Spirit shed abroad in our hearts? Have we the fruits of the spirit well ripened in our characters? The greater our faith the more earnest should be our zeal in the race for the prize set before us. If by God's grace we discern with clear vision the goal of glory, honor and immortality, in association with our Redeemer in the glorious work of His Messianic Kingdom of a thousand years, what manner of persons ought we to be in "all holy living and godliness" while awaiting that consummation!
We are glad to be able to report from our vantage point on THE WATCH TOWER that a deep work of grace is in progress amongst the readers of this journal. We know this from the thousands of letters which come to us, as well as through the reports of the Pilgrim brethren and from our own personal contact with you at conventions, etc. Apparently there has been quite a clearing of the spiritual atmosphere within the past two years; some whom we loved walk no more with us, yet, strange to say, their places have been more than filled; and many who have come recently into the light of "present truth" give evidence that for a considerable time they have been in the school of Christ and learned of Him. In the light of "present truth" some of these have made such remarkable progress as to startle and abash others who have enjoyed the light of the Divine Plan much longer.
The general effect is stimulating; many are realizing the force of what we have long pointed out, namely, that while the Divine requirement is not knowledge but grace, nevertheless, in Divine providence, the two go hand in hand today, the one sealing the heart and the other the intellect. The daily Manna text and comments are proving helpful in many homes. Many are joining with the Bethel Family daily in the use of the same hymn of praise and in the reading of the Vow. The numbers who have informed us that they have taken the Vow is now close upon 10,000. What a wonderful prayer circle—these each remembering the others throughout the world. The Berean Studies with the printed questions are stimulating thought and are helping Bible students to consider deep subjects far more than would printed answers. The little classes everywhere are finding that they thus make much better progress than ever before in the mastication of spiritual food. Increasing numbers are following the suggestions offered by one of our correspondents—that the reading of eight pages per day permits the reading of the SCRIPTURE STUDIES series of six volumes in a year. Great blessing is reported; truths are kept freshly in mind which otherwise would be forgotten or lost. The daily touch with the Scriptures and their gracious promises is strengthening and assists in repelling the spirit of the world and in entertaining the holy spirit of the truth.
But while this personal work is indispensable, class work is progressing also. More and more it is being realized that while the Church is indeed commissioned to let her light shine before men as a witness—to reprove sin and to attract those who are feeling after God—yet this is not her only work nor the most important. The Bride is to make herself ready, the various members are to build one another up under the Headship of Jesus. And more and more is it seen that the Divine Plan interweaves for our highest welfare.
Thus while we let our light shine before men, and additionally seek to build one another up in the most holy faith we are by both of these good works developing ourselves personally in the fruits and graces of the Holy Spirit. Thus personal character-building leads us to "forget not the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much the more as we see the day drawing on." [R4935 : page 451] Similarly, it leads to volunteering or free-tract distribution, to class extension work and to a personal work amongst our neighbors and friends, in the sale or the loaning of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. So many and so diversified are the opportunities of service that every consecrated child of God may have a share in the blessed Harvest work, however few his talents or opportunities. And the zeal for this work to a considerable extent marks our love for the Lord and our appreciation of our invitation to be associated with Him in the conquest of the great Enemies, Sin, Satan, Error. Faint-hearted fighting against these implies a lack of love for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren—a lack which must be made up if we would be counted in amongst the "more than conquerors" who will share the Messianic Throne.
While we are confident that you will rejoice as you read our estimate of the spiritual growth of Bible Students [R4935 : page 452] with whom you are so closely in touch, we are sure that you will appreciate the corroborative testimony of the facts and figures of our annual report. And while you read with pleasure of the considerable work accomplished by our Society through its Office, through its Pilgrims, Colporteurs, and by tons of free literature, etc., do not forget your own share in this great harvest work. Do not forget the thousands of patient, earnest, self-denying laborers whose zeal has been shown to the Lord, to us and to their neighbors by their faithful circulation of the free literature, and also by the providing of the money wherewith the entire campaign under God's providence has been carried on.
Sometimes our carefulness and economy in connection with all the details of the work have been reflected upon as parsimonious, as a greater degree of economy than the Lord would approve. But we reply that Divine economy is everywhere shown—nothing goes to waste. Every leaf, every flower and every blade of grass, as well as every animal, dying, produces a fertilizer or nourishment for others. And when our Redeemer multiplied the loaves and fishes into an abundance for thousands, He was economical enough to direct that the broken fragments should be collected, that nothing be lost. Frugality is a new lesson to some of the Lord's people, but love will teach it. A desire to do good to others will prompt not only economy, but self-denial. Many of our readers have surmised that the growing donations to the Tract Fund for the spread of the Truth implies that there are many rich amongst the donors. This is a mistake. It is with us as the Lord declared it would be amongst His faithful, "not many rich."
We are glad of the opportunities afforded by these earnest reapers to show all the dear friends who have contributed to the funds how carefully these have been handled—how much work has been accomplished—so much more than usual in religious or other enterprises. The secret is the love, the zeal of all the workers. Without this no such results would be possible. We believe that the Lord guided from the very beginning—that no financial inducements should be extended to anybody connected with the work—that none should have more than comfortable necessities—"things decent." The love of money lies close to every evil, and money lovers find nothing to attract them in our Society's arrangements for any part of the world.
The importance of the Correspondence Department may be judged to some extent by the report below of mail received and mail dispatched. We take this opportunity to assure our readers that their letters are always very welcome—including those which seem to require no special answers except THE WATCH TOWER articles twice a month. Ordinary letters please direct invariably to the Society to insure prompt attention. Occasional changes in the Office force might otherwise delay replies. Of course, with the considerable development of the work in recent years, the Editor has been obliged to give less and less time to the correspondence. Nevertheless, if you so desire, important doctrinal or business questions may still be addressed to the Editor. Such letters will be handled by brethren specially deputed to act as his private secretaries. With these as with the Editor, communications will be confidential. If the questions require, the secretary would communicate with the Editor before sending a reply. But remember, please, to address all general and business communications to the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society—to the Brooklyn, London or Melbourne address, as may be most convenient to you. Where the business relates specially to Colporteuring, you may add, "Colporteur Department;" where it relates specially to Pilgrim service, you may add "Pilgrim Department," and where it relates specially to Class Extension work, you may add "Class Extension."
We watch THE WATCH TOWER subscription list with keen interest, considering it our very best index to the general growth of the work, because all who become truly, deeply interested in "present truth" we assume will want to be on THE WATCH TOWER list—that they may keep in touch with the work as well as with the Truth. Especially have we reason to expect this because we continually keep before our readers the fact that we are glad to have their names there whether they are able to pay their subscription or not. All who ask for THE WATCH TOWER may have it on credit and will not be held responsible if they never pay, or they may have it sent to them free if they will request it as the "Lord's poor"—for whom we have a specially contributed fund.
We have felt considerable disappointment that our list has grown so slowly—that even now it is not much above the thirty thousand mark. True, sometimes the one paper supplies several of the interested, but we would rather that each one have a copy himself, even though the additional copy be on the free list. Specially would we like to have the names of all fully consecrated Bible students on THE WATCH TOWER list. For various reasons we incline to think that our list should be at least double what it is.
However, we must not forget that long ago, before the government made more stringent rules respecting newspaper subscriptions, we had names upon our list from whom we had heard nothing for years. New postal regulations required that addresses be dropped unless subscriptions be renewed, either for money or on credit. We encouraged the Students everywhere to do what they could to help forward this branch of the service because we believe that a stimulating and helpful influence is exercised by the twice a month visits of our journal.
We have a grand little army of Colporteurs, numbering about six hundred faithful bearers of the cross, enduring hardness as good soldiers. Although more than half a million volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES went into the hands of the public during last year, and although this is a phenomenal sale for such books, we nevertheless are not quite satisfied. We hope that 1912 will show a considerable increase. To facilitate this the books are now appearing in a new style of binding—still more attractive than formerly. And now the sets are put up in paper boxes, making them very attractive. Besides, the prices have been made uniform for all volumes, and the Colporteurs, sharpshooters and classes ordering twenty volumes at a time will be supplied any volume, in any language, at sixteen cents net. Some who cannot give all of their time to colporteuring can give two or three half days of each week. Application to the Office will bring to you helpful suggestions along the lines of this work which God has so greatly blessed in connection with the harvesting of the "wheat."
During this year our Society recommended a class extension work on the part of classes possessed of more talent for public work than they required. Any brethren [R4935 : page 453] who are thought by the class to be worthy, on Scriptural lines of selection, as Elders, whose talents could be spared, they were encouraged to send forth to start new classes in surrounding villages or wards, as opportunity might offer. Full particulars were sent to the classes telling upon what terms the Society would be glad to co-operate in this work by furnishing free literature for the public announcements of these meetings, and occasionally by rendering some assistance, financially. The subjoined report shows that little financial assistance was called for—the dear friends gladly and enthusiastically took hold of the service. We hope that the results may be a blessing to some truth hungry. Although this work has been under way but a few months, the following reports received are very encouraging.
Number of meetings reported.................
Attendance at meetings...................... 97,898
Number of copies "Everybody's Paper"
Reported cost of the above..................$6,927.21
Amount supplied by the Society.............. 1,116.34
We encourage the dear brethren possessed of ability for public speaking to engage in this Class Extension Work rather than to visit and attempt to preach to other classes. This latter work we believe can better be done by the regular "Pilgrims" sent by the Society in every direction in response to requests. It may be urged that the Pilgrim visits are not very frequent, and we reply that we believe this is all the better for the classes. It gives them an opportunity to serve themselves through the Berean Studies published in THE TOWER. This stimulates thought more than does preaching. Besides it tends to throw responsibility upon each little class and thus to draw out or develop whatever talent for leadership it may possess. Class Extension work is evangelistic and the plan which it outlines and which is being followed is bringing good results and apparently has the Divine blessing.
We have noticed with regret that some of the dear Colporteurs have left their special work to engage in the Class Extension Work. We are sure they meant well, but not so sure that they are doing wisely. The Class Extension is excellent for those classes which have more talent for public speaking than they need—brethren who cannot engage in the Colporteuring. For those who have time for Colporteuring we still recommend that branch of the service as the very best and most useful. All of our meetings anyway will be without results, except as we get the STUDIES into the hands of the interested, and get them to read. One brother and sister, besides Colporteuring, usually leave a Class of Bible Students in every town or city they serve. They note evidences of interest and call back and "water" the seed sown.
Many of our readers appreciate, as we do, the publication of our weekly sermons by the secular press. This is effected by a newspaper syndicate. The prosperity and success of the syndicate depends upon getting sermons into numerous papers and keeping them there. We supply the sermons to the syndicate free, but, additionally, the one thousand papers which it supplies should have every encouragement our readers can give them. The number of American papers and their circulation is practically the same as a year ago, but the number of British papers publishing the sermons has greatly increased—to about three hundred. The syndicate estimates that thus our sermons go weekly to over ten million readers. This is little short of a miracle. Never before have sermons reached one-fourth this circulation. We are not to deceive ourselves into supposing that this number read the sermons, nor that all readers are converted to the Truth. We have, however, good evidence showing that gradually superstition, ignorance and the errors of the Dark Ages expressed in our creeds are giving way before the light now shining from God's Word. It is our privilege to let our light shine before men, witnessing to the Truth whether they hear or whether they forbear to hear.
This year's figures on the Volunteer Work are astounding. To those who understand what tract distribution is these figures speak of an immense amount of work—carrying the Gospel into millions of homes of all denominations of Christendom, in all parts of the world, to which all other efforts put together are as nothing in comparison with our figures, yet they include great institutions with powerful financial backing. There is a difference, for which there is a reason. And we know what the reason is! Ours is the true Gospel of God's Love and Mercy, not only for the elect Church but also in due time for the non-elect world. Ours is the Gospel of which we are not ashamed, and this cannot be said of the other messages of bad tidings of great misery which are mis-named the Gospel, for the word Gospel signifies good tidings. We hope that every reader scanning these figures may have the consolation of thinking—I was a volunteer! I shared in this work! My labors are represented in the grand totals! Well has someone said that to love means to serve—to serve the Lord, the Truth, the brethren.
In the English language (copies).........
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 356,101,756
In the Swedish language (copies)......... 92,500
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 1,480,000
In the German language (copies).......... 25,700
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 422,400
In the Polish language (copies).......... 189,500
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 3,032,000
In the Greek language (copies)........... 109,200
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 1,747,200
In the Italian language (copies)......... 53,500
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 856,000
In the Hollandish language (copies)...... 11,750
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 124,000
In the Hungarian language (copies)....... 7,000
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 224,000
In the Spanish language (copies)......... 19,750
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 316,000
In the Finnish language (copies)......... 16,500
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 264,000
In the Norwegian language (copies)....... 1,000
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 16,000
In the French language (copies).......... 2,000
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 20,800
In the Syrian language (copies).......... 1,300
(equaling in usual tract pages)......... 20,800
Grand total of tracts.................... 22,838,282
Grand total in tract pages.............. 364,624,956
British Branch............................ $23,401.87
Germany and Holland....................... 4,098.81
South Africa.............................. 904.71
France, Italy and Switzerland............. 137.67
Grand total............................. $191,650.16
Receipts from "Good Hopes" and other
Deficiency or shortage............... $ 22,415.93
We doubt not this indebtedness will soon be cancelled; nevertheless the fact that it is nearly double the shortage of last year cautions us that we must to some extent put on the "brakes"; for it is our judgment of the Lord's will that we spend money only as it is supplied under His Providence.
During the year a very successful work has been accomplished by the brethren of the Peoples Pulpit Association. Every one of them participated and some other laborers were from time to time pressed into service as the work seemed to require and as the funds seemed to permit. Altogether fifty-eight participated in these public ministries, setting forth the teachings of the Divine Word. Some of these brethren labor during the week in the Correspondence Department and otherwise in the Brooklyn Tabernacle, and attend to public preaching on Sunday only, or chiefly.
About an equal number have traveled through the length and breadth of the United States and Canada, holding meetings, both public and semi-public—the latter in connection with Classes of the International Bible Students Association. These are routed from the Office here and all of their expenses are provided. They average meetings twice a day every day in the week. Without flattery we can say for them that they are able to "rightly divide the Word of Truth" and that they are thoroughly furnished for their work of helping God's people to an understanding of His Message. They make weekly reports covering every meeting held and are entirely free from family and business cares, and thus are able to say, with St. Paul, "This one thing I do"—the preaching of "the good tidings of great joy which shall be unto all people."
We encourage our readers everywhere to co-operate with these dear brethren, whose entire lives are given to the Lord and His service. All classes who are prepared to supply places for meeting and to provide for the entertainment of the speaker are requested to write to us if they desire such services for the New Year, giving particulars [R4937 : page 454] re the numbers usually attending the Class Meetings and whether any public meetings would be undertaken. Those unable to provide for the speaker at any of their homes should also mention that fact.
While our Society urges upon the brethren strict economy it nevertheless desires them to be suitably dressed for their profession as ministers and representatives of the Lord and His Message. As for their entertainment it is expected or desired merely that it be clean and wholesome—nothing elaborate or costly.
The totals below testify to the zeal of these dear brethren and the efficiency and economy of the arrangements under which the Society regulates this branch of the Harvest Work. We are sure that all of our readers, as members of the Society, will greatly rejoice in the work in this direction which they have been able to achieve during the last twelve months:
Total number of ministers engaged.............
" " " cities and towns visited...... 4,735
" " " public meetings............... 3,780
Semi-public meetings held..................... 8,333
Total number in attendance....................168,904
" miles traveled..........................470,702