OUR FISCAL YEAR begins and ends December 1. The year past has been one of the most interesting and successful in our Society's experience. Every day has seemed to add momentum to the work. Those who have been enjoying the light of Present Truth for years seem generally to be ripening in Christian character and in loving zeal for the Lord, the Truth and the brethren. Nothing pleases us more than this.
The next most interesting thing is the manifest awakening of thinking Christian people of all denominations. Many dear people of God have lived in a sort of religious lethargy for years. Sometimes they dreamed of converting the world, only to be rudely awakened to a fresh realization that if the heathen were brought to the same civilization that prevails in Christendom, God's will would be as far as ever from being done on earth as in Heaven. Others have had nightmares of horror as their minds would be recalled to the teachings of their creeds—as they would remember the old theory that all except the saintly Elect few will spend an eternity in torture.
The awakening ones very generally wander off into "Higher Criticism" unbelief, Evolution theories, and general doubt respecting everything. Others wander into Christian Science, and seek to convince themselves that aches and pains are purely imagination, etc., etc. Still others wander into New Thought, etc., only to find, in these, dangerous quicksands. Under the Lord's providence many of all these classes during the past year have been brought in contact with the Bible's own teaching, which we all have so long lost under the debris of human theory and tradition.
It has been a real pleasure to note, as the weeks went by, the increased attendance at the meetings and the increased number of meetings being held and the development of faithful brethren everywhere as heralds of the "good tidings." It has been a great satisfaction to read some of the warmly encouraging letters that have been received from hungry souls. Some tell of the sweetness of the Truth at its very first hearing. Others tell of how increasingly precious the Word of God grows, as their study of it continues in the light of the Divine Plan of the Ages. Surely THE WATCH TOWER is the favored place for a review of the entire Harvest field!
The Lord has greatly blessed the brethren who have engaged in Class Extension work, especially in Great Britain and America. There is room in this Department for the talents of every consecrated child of God. The Harvest is great. The laborers are few. All who are praying to the Lord to send forth more laborers are surely zealously watching for opportunities to take a hand in the work themselves. And all this energy is showing fruitage. There is nothing like it in the whole world. No money inducements! Everything is done from the love of the Lord and His Truth, and from a great desire to "show forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light." The blessing is two-fold. Not only are many thus brought into the light and caused to rejoice in the fullness of our Savior and His great salvation, but the laborers all receive spiritual refreshment, in proportion as they seek to lay down their lives and talents in the Harvest work.
Our readers are aware that our Society has been doing something in South Africa and South India during the past three years. Evidently the Lord's blessing in some degree on the work in foreign lands led up to the sending of an I.B.S.A. Committee to see the conditions of the heathen and to report. The report was given in the early part of the year, and published in a special issue of this journal. We have received complimentary testimonies respecting the truthfulness of the Report and the kindly spirit with which those truths, not altogether flattering, were presented. Some of these have come from foreign lands.
As a result of that investigation it was decided that conditions in heathendom warranted the expenditure of some of the Society's funds in proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom there. Accordingly, free literature was printed in six of the principal languages of India, the two principal languages of China, in the Japanese and in the Korean. This literature was designed principally for those professing Christ. But reports indicate that many non-Christians have manifested eagerness for the study of these things.
The Bible story of the election of the Church to be joint-heirs with Jesus in the Messianic Kingdom was new and palatable to many of the Christian natives and others; and the Bible assurance presented to them, that their friends and forefathers who have died in heathenish darkness were not in purgatory nor a hell of eternal torture, but in the Bible hell, the grave, was a relief to many. [R5144 : page 384] God's character, cleared of the awful stain laid upon it by our creeds, shone more brightly before the minds of many. We may be sure that the effect on honest hearts everywhere is the same; namely, that "the Love of God constraineth us."
In South India, where the London Missionary Society has had a start for over a hundred years, where it has established colleges, etc., the field seemed ripe for the Gospel of the Kingdom which we sent to them. As the people heard and read of the good time coming, it cheered them. According to the reports, the missionaries endeavor to keep the people from hearing, even threatening to excommunicate those who attend our meetings, and, going further than this, threatening to excommunicate whole families if even one member attends our meetings. And further, they are reported to have declared that they would not allow any marrying between any of their faithful and any who might come to hear and have a relish for the "good tidings of great joy which shall be for all people." But in spite of all the threats and endeavors and influence and rice, the hungry hearts came to our meetings and got some crumbs of comfort, benefiting in the present life and preparing them, we trust, for the life to come.
The latest reports from South India are that the missionaries of that vicinity, unable to stem the popularity of our Bible meetings, have been obliged to start similar Bible instruction respecting the Kingdom. Well, whether it be from strife or from some other motives, we are glad that Messiah's Kingdom is being heralded to whoever will be "Israelites indeed" of far-off India.
If the missionaries would all preach the Gospel of the Kingdom, if they would all tell the people the Bible Truth respecting "the wages of sin" and "the gift of God," the coming of Messiah, the rolling away of the curse and the pouring out of God's blessing, and announce that this grand consummation of the Divine Plan is near at hand, how glad we would be! If now our efforts have stirred them up to give the people the real Bible Message, we are glad.
Undoubtedly there are sincere missionaries, but such sincere ones are hampered and hindered by the limitations placed upon them respecting the creeds—burdens which are becoming galling to all "whom the Son makes free." But with the missionary, as with the home pastor of civilized lands, every one seems bound up in his congregational [R5145 : page 384] fetters. Only the courageous "overcomers" could even think of bursting the bonds which associate them with their food supply, their honor of men, and all opportunity they know for Divine service. We sympathize with such. Would that they might take a more satisfactory course! Would that they might exercise more faith in God!
If the ministers have much advantage every way as respects education, time, opportunity for study, etc., they are also having weightier trials, because any change of denominational base to them means practically their all. Few of them realize that this is the very test which the Lord wishes to bring to bear upon every one called during this Gospel Age—faithfulness, loyalty, zeal for God and His Truth—even unto death, counting not their lives dear unto themselves. It is of this class that it is written, "They shall be Mine, saith the Lord, in that day when I make up My jewels."—Mal. 3:17.
Very encouraging reports come to us respecting the influence of the Truth as it goes out from week to week through the public press of the English-speaking world. Approximately fourteen hundred newspapers are publishing our sermons and Sunday School comments every week. Our Adversary, God's Adversary, Satan, is, of course, displeased now, as he was eighteen hundred years ago, to perceive that "the poor have the Gospel preached unto them." Yet notwithstanding slanders, misrepresentations and violent attacks made by some, God's blessing continues with the work; and approximately twelve millions of people have the opportunity every week of learning a little respecting God and His Word—His Plan.
One would think that every true Christian in every pulpit, in every pew, would thank God that the people whom they could not get into the churches are having the Message of God's Love laid before their eyes in an attractive form weekly. It would be a pity if anything akin to jealousy should anywhere spring up to poison a Christian heart against a fellow-Christian and fellow-servant. Any one engaged in sowing such seed and planting such roots of bitterness would assuredly have Divine disfavor for his portion in some manner. But our point is, that, by the grace of God, the Gospel is preached. Earnest souls are being found. Hungry ones are being fed and made to rejoice. God is being glorified.
Let us be thankful to have any share in this great work. More and more it appeals to us to be the Lord's work. We cannot see how it could progress so marvelously as it has done, except under His blessing. We give Him our thanks. What if it has stirred up here and there an evil spirit in a class which the Bible describes as "sons of Belial"? What if these do fulfil toward us the Word of the Lord which declares, Whoever of you will live godly shall suffer persecution?
What if we do receive from some revilings, slanders, persecutions? Did not the Master forewarn us that this would be a part of our wages, saying, "They shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake? Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in Heaven; for so persecuted they the Prophets which were before you." St. Paul, who suffered not only from the tongues of men, but also from their whips, declared that present experiences were light afflictions, when viewed from the standpoint of the glory that is to follow as a reward of faithful endurance.
The proper way to view such experiences is to call to mind the blessed revenge which soon we shall be fitted and prepared to mete out to our enemies. In the language of the Scriptures, we shall by and by heap coals of fire upon the heads of those who now persecute us, by blessing them, opening the eyes of their understanding and helping them onward and upward to greater knowledge of God and harmony with His gracious arrangements. That is the kind of revenge that God is preparing for those who now so grievously misrepresent Him and His Word—ignorantly.
Let us be assured that ignorance rather than malevolence is at the foundation of opposition to the Truth. It was so at the First Advent. Many of those Scribes and Pharisees and chief priests were fairly decent people. They had theories of their own respecting God's Plan—as to how it must be fulfilled. Their own plans seemed better than God's because they were worldly-minded—not "Israelites indeed"—at heart.
Cannot very similar things be said truthfully and kindly respecting many of the ecclesiastically prominent in the present Harvest time? If so, instead of thinking too harshly, let us rather take our cue from St. Peter's words when, speaking under the influence of the Holy Spirit, he said to repentant Jews, "I wot, brethren, that in ignorance [R5145 : page 385] ye did it, as did also your rulers"; and St. Paul's words, "for, had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory."
So ignorance is the excuse for much of the wrong that has been done in the world amongst those bearing the name of Christ during the past eighteen centuries. And the same is true today. It behooves us, while seeking to rid ourselves of ignorance and to come to a clear knowledge of the Truth, to have sympathy for those whose eyes of understanding are still more or less blinded by "the god of this world." Let us pray for such, as St. Paul did, saying, "I pray God for you that the eyes of your understanding opening, ye may be able to comprehend with all saints the height and the depth, the length and the breadth—and to know the Love of God, which passeth all understanding."—Eph. 1:18; 3:18,19.
Post Office rulings require us to keep our subscription lists very clean. When subscriptions expire, but a short time can be left for renewals. This insures that our list is quite a live one. For several years we have been urging the friends that, instead of lending their papers to interested friends, they encourage them to become subscribers to THE WATCH TOWER and to the papers publishing the sermons. Friends of the Cause have provided a special Fund out of which any such subscriptions can be paid, so that poverty need not be a hindrance to the receiving of a regular supply of spiritual food.
In various ways we know that our list still represents only the smaller portion of those really interested in the Harvest Message. The list, however, is gradually growing. Many of you will be glad to know that we are now publishing thirty-five thousand or more copies at every issue. We wish we dared hope for an increase of fifteen thousand or more during the coming year. The matter is in your hands. If you are receiving a blessing through these channels, and if you desire to extend the blessings to others, be sure you properly advise them.
The Lord continues His blessing with the Pilgrim service. It is not the Society's desire to supply regular preaching for the Classes or in any manner to relieve them of the responsibility for their own spiritual upbuilding. The frequent supply of Pilgrims, therefore, is confined to large cities, where a more public witness than the local Class is able to provide seems necessary. Even then, we encourage the Classes to continue their regular studies, just as though the Pilgrims did not come so frequently.
Pilgrim visits are intended to serve a double purpose: First, to assist in giving from time to time public witnesses for the Truth—but preferably only one or two public discourses at each visit; second, the coming of a Pilgrim affords excellent opportunity for refreshing and strengthening the Household of Faith. They may be called upon to help unravel knotty questions which may arise, although there will generally be found in every Class some familiar enough with the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES to give a Scriptural answer to nearly every important question.
Many Classes of Bible Students have written us that by vote they have chosen the Editor of this journal as their Pastor (under-shepherd or bishop). We suggest to such that the Pilgrim brethren be considered in a general way our assistants, and that they be received accordingly. This does not mean that the lessons they give, the spiritual food which they present, should be received carelessly, or without proper mastication.
Rather, the Lord would have all of His dear sheep use their consecrated minds in rightly dividing the Word of Truth, giving special heed to the suggestions and expositions of those whom they have reason to believe are serving them according to the will of God. This advice would be applicable to the presentations of the Pastor or the Pilgrims or the local Elders—everybody.
Whenever public meetings are thought to be desirable, remember that one of the chief necessities for such an occasion is the procurement of a desirable auditorium—clean and in good repute. In many respects opera houses or small theatres of good class are more desirable than churches, because people of all denominations and those who attend no church services will feel free to come. The friends are gradually learning that it is useless to invite intelligent people to a meeting held in a dingy place or more than one flight of stairs from the street level. They are learning, too, the necessity for advertising meetings when they have good halls.
For success, the three things must co-operate—a speaker of ability, a desirable auditorium and the meeting well advertised. In the past much advertising effort has been wasted by poor auditoriums. Where notified that a public meeting is desired the Society will, as far as possible, apportion Sundays—especially if the town is of reasonable size and if the promises in respect to auditorium, etc., are encouraging. Increase of wisdom along these lines is helping forward the work in every direction. These same remarks apply in a lesser degree to Class Extension work, by which we mean meetings held in surrounding [R5146 : page 385] villages and towns by those Elders who have talent for public speaking and whose services are not needed by the local Class sending them forth. The Society has had the pleasure of co-operating along these lines during the year. The results are encouraging every way. All classes that have the talent to spare and that have not engaged in this Extension work should write to us for particulars at once. This work is in harmony with the Master's instruction, Pray the Lord of the Harvest that He will send forth more laborers into His vineyard. Let us labor while we pray.—Matt. 9:38.
Total number of ministers engaged.................
" " " cities and towns visited.......... 5,788
" " " public meetings................... 3,683
" " in attendance........................ 564,707
Semi-public meetings held......................... 9,881
Total number in attendance........................ 248,293
" miles traveled.............................. 622,373
Number of meetings reported.......................
Attendance at meetings............................ 108,563
Number of copies "Everybody's Paper" and
other announcements circulated................... 1,732,870
Reported cost of these meetings................... $9,389.02
Amount supplied by the Society.................... $1,003.18
Naturally, our correspondence increases every year. However, a change is noticeable in the character of the communications. Those who have been long on our list are asking fewer questions, finding that they have the answers already in THE WATCH TOWER and in the six volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. But our clerical force is still busily engaged in replying to questions from beginners, who have received of our literature and desire further spiritual nourishment. Herewith we present to you a memorandum of the number of letters received and [R5146 : page 386] the number dispatched. All parts of the earth are represented in our mail.
It amazes us that the sale of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES continues as it does. Colporteurs report to us that with the new method they are using they can generally sell the entire set of six volumes as easily as they formerly sold one volume or three volumes. The general awakening amongst Christian people is permitting many of them to become enlightened, preparing them for the Truth. They are satisfied neither with the darkness of the past, nor with the unbelief of Higher Criticism or Evolution. A soul-hunger is abroad in the world—with an increasing number of people. We thank God that we have for them the true Bread of Life, of which both they and we have so long sung,
The number of volumes of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, etc., circulated during the year, we here report with considerable satisfaction. We congratulate especially all the dear Colporteurs. Nearly all of these books were sold by them.
Our two little papers, PEOPLES PULPIT and EVERYBODY'S PAPER, circulated for the most part free, have gone far and wide this year in thirty-three different languages. The friends, our readers, knowing that they can have literature in any language, are more and more availing themselves of the privilege and seeking to interest their neighbors. Incidentally we remark that the majority of people can serve the Lord's Cause much better by handing a tract with a few commendatory words than by seeking to explain the Divine Plan. So many forget in telling of God's glorious Plan that their hearers are comparatively ignorant of it—that they know only the first principles of the Gospel of Christ, and have need that one teach them again the rudiments. A teacher must be wise and give only the kind and only the quantity that will nourish.—Heb. 5:12-14.
Too many make a mistake, choking their friends with strong meat. Others make the mistake of talking too boastfully and drawing unpleasing comparisons, saying, What you believe, and, What we believe. We are glad, however, that all are gradually learning the import of the Master's words, "Be ye wise as serpents, harmless as doves." Let us remember that we not long ago were in similar darkness to that which generally prevails—and still we were Christians.
Hence we should not, in talking to our friends, give any hint that they do not belong to the family of God. Rather we find it the much better way to class ourselves in with all as true neighbors, to acknowledge that once we were in darkness, and to express the thought that all Christian people are becoming more and more enlightened in respect to the teaching of God's Word, because we are now living in God's due time for revealing some of the secrets of God's glorious Plan of the Ages. We are now living in the time of which the Prophet Daniel declared, "The wise shall understand"—the Wise Virgin class.—Dan. 12:10; Matt. 25:1-3.
In the English language.................
In all other languages.................. 848,000 "
Grand total of tracts................... 35,520,475 "
Equaling in usual tract pages........... 481,632,950 pages.
As we look back over the past, we perceive a steady progress in the amount of money donated to the Tract Fund for the promulgation of the Truth. Each year has shown a little better than its predecessor, and the present one is no exception to this rule. Remember, too, that few of our donations are large—that not many WATCH TOWER subscribers have much of this world's goods. Two things astonish our enemies and our friends:—
(1) While all denominations of Christendom are in distress because of increased expenditure and decreased contributions and because they are ashamed to beg more than they have done, our receipts, on the contrary, without solicitation, come gradually forward, apparently just as they are needed. Or rather, we should say, keeping within our receipts we are enabled to push the work a little more and a little more every year. Of course, we could do much more if we had more means; but we are not worried about that, for if the Lord desires us to do greater things, He is abundantly able to provide the means.
(2) The other point which surprises both our enemies and our friends is the large amount of work accomplished with the small amount of money expended. This is attributable to the fact that we pay no salaries, and all of our expenses are kept at a minimum. Our home and office force of over a hundred persons all labor diligently, earnestly, perseveringly, rendering their services as unto the Lord. We have no drones. All are provided for decently, comfortably, as, we believe, the Lord would be pleased with, but very inexpensively. This is one secret of our ability to do more than others with the same amount of money. Financial statement follows:—
Paid Shortage of 1911............................ $22,415.93
Receipts from "Good Hopes,"
Tract Fund, etc............... $200,767.51
Expended in the work mentioned above:
In the United States and Canada 134,228.43
In Great Britain............... 20,038.60
" Austria..................... 4,663.97
" Germany..................... 1,562.12
" Sweden...................... 1,338.04
" Denmark and Norway.......... 1,059.52
" South Africa................ 1,298.77
" Jamaica and South America... 3,933.69
" Japan....................... 2,300.00
" China....................... 2,300.00
" Korea....................... 2,028.62
" India....................... 1,723.19
" France, Italy and Switzerland 343.67
" Greece...................... 240.00
" Hungary and Poland.......... 471.29
" Philippine Islands.......... 157.95
Cash balance on hand........... 663.72
We will not here mention particularly the outlook for the future, but will leave that for next issue. We thank God for the privileges and blessings of the year closing, [R5147 : page 387] and rejoice with you all that by His grace we have had the privilege of His service. Let us press forward,
Let us not be fearful of the great Adversary's roar, when, like a roaring lion, he would seek to intimidate us. "Be of good courage and He shall strengthen thine heart." "He who has begun a good work in us is able to complete it." "He knoweth our frame and remembereth that we are dust." He will not suffer us to be tempted above that we are able, but will, with every temptation, provide a way of escape.—I Cor. 10:13.