I was glad to receive your letter today, and what a chord it struck! What meaning such words as "First-borns" and "Little Flock" have now! I was glad to hear about Sister Adams. I have been learning much since I saw her, and you may tell her that I find this Truth more wonderful every day. Kindly convey to her Christian greetings from Sister Farrer and myself. I am sure the whole class would join.
Yes, Brother, I have been a Presbyterian minister, graduated from Knox College, Toronto, in 1898. I was at the Assembly Meeting held in Hamilton in 1899. I was commissioner from Regina Presbytery. I never dreamed of this Truth at that time. Truth is stranger than fiction. From the first day I started for Presbytery and college, I knew something was out of gear; what it was I could not tell. I was loyal to the Presbyterian Church. Many of the people I loved dearly: such men as Drs. Grant and Gray of Orillia, Dr. McLeod of Barrie and Dr. Caven of Knox College. I thought a great deal, but Brother, there are some big bits to swallow, and I am afraid if the truth was told, many things were swallowed and never digested, and this is true in all denominations, and [R5236 : page 142] I find the Presbyterians just as worthy as any. I have been careful in my thoughts, yet held my mind open to conviction. Years of knocking about on the mission field from nearly one end of Canada to the other, has had its effect. When I became fully acquainted with the workings behind the scenes, I was astounded. I have felt so many times that our people were not treated fairly, and certainly many of our poor missionaries were shamefully used, and could not defend themselves. I have certainly wondered where the hearts of the older and more prosperous ministers were. The city of __________ is the limit! One city minister told me a few days ago that the church, i.e., the Presbyterian Church here, had all gone to the Devil. Those were his words. Another minister, a Presbyterian, too, was up to our class on Wednesday last, and is reading the first volume; he knows something is wrong, and what he sees is not Christianity. Is it not strange that so many of our ministers are down on the Truth people! It must be because we hold to the Bible.
Say, Brother, take a look behind the scenes and see every big city minister in __________ lay hold of Evolution and deny the Ransom of Jesus Christ! This year I became heartsick and resolved to remain at home, attend no church, and try to study and love the Bible, as it was the only thing I had worth while. I have not been preaching for awhile on account of poor health, but have been looking on. I knew we should assemble, but where I could not say. It was not at former places. Strange, I had never heard of Bible Students or read Pastor Russell's books. A friend of mine invited me to a meeting one evening, and I went. On returning home I told Mrs. Farrer that I had heard more Scripture than I had studied and heard all the while I had been at the coast, all packed into one talk. It was certainly a wonderful talk. It shook me up; I never heard the like, and I told my wife that that man had the best of the argument by a mile.
During the following week I got hungry for more, but did not know where to go or what literature to get. However, I knew about the meeting the next Sunday, so I went to see if I could get anything to read. I did and hurried home to see what I had. I was not anxious to be seen around the place. I tell you, Brother. I soon found out what a prize I had in that first volume. We had absolutely nothing to compare with the first, fifth and sixth volumes, in college. I have wondered why we did not have them as text books. It was only after I got started in the Truth that I knew that Pastor C. T. Russell was the author of the books. I tell you, Brother Adams, I rejoice to be called a fool for Jesus' sake.
I attended Mr. Wilson's church while down in the city. Poor Wilson, I knew him before I went to college, but he is at sea, in the same boat as we were all in. The fact is we learned nothing much of the Bible at college. I am sending a letter of withdrawal to the Presbytery and will mail you a copy later on.
DEAR SIR:—Do you subscribe to the following statement, taken from the Confession of Faith?—"The Bodies of men after death return to dust, and see corruption, but their souls (which neither die nor sleep), having an immortal subsistence, immediately return to God who gave them. The souls of the righteous, being then made perfect in holiness, are received into the highest Heavens, where they behold the face of God in light and glory, waiting for the full redemption of their bodies; and the souls of the wicked are cast into hell, where they remain in torments and utter darkness, reserved to the Judgment of the great Day. Besides these two places for souls separated from their bodies, the Scripture acknowledgeth none.
"At the last Day, such as are found alive shall not die, but be changed; and all the dead shall be raised up with the self-same bodies, and none other, although with different qualities, which shall be united again to their souls forever."—Confession of Faith, Chapter XXXII, 1, 2.
I take it for granted that your inquiry relates to your real relationship to God and is not simply a matter of speculation. For I have no time nor inclination to engage in simple discussion and argument. Life is too short for that.
Nor do I care to defend the teachings of theology, which are quite different things from religion, for nobody is asked to accept Presbyterian Theology—or even read it—except Ministers, Elders and Deacons; you doubtless are aware of that. The first and only thing we require of private members of the church is to accept Jesus Christ, God incarnate, as Savior and Lord. Sincerely yours, __________
I would not attempt to discuss the matter further with the gentleman, but would merely thank him for his kind letter, and say that, as I was neither a minister nor an Elder of the Presbyterian Church, my conscience would go free; but that I had a sympathy for elders and ministers. I would proceed to say that, having found something satisfactory on the subject of "The State of Men after Death, and of the Resurrection of the Dead" (heading of chapter in the "Confession," from which the extract is copied), I ventured to recommend to him STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES by Pastor Russell, the books which God blessed to my heart and head enlightenment, hoping they might prove a blessing to him also.
As far as we can learn up to this writing, none of the Dayton Ecclesia were drowned, although a number of us have had thrilling experiences and narrow escapes. The shrieks and wails of the panic-stricken people, mingled with the moans of drowning horses, etc., was terrible to hear. It turned our minds to Daniel's description of the great time of trouble.
Sister Pottle and Sister H. F. Rieck were confined to an attic with the writer for about thirty hours before the sisters were rescued by boats. Here the value of the Truth was [R5236 : page 143] manifested. God's promised Grace to help in time of need was surely manifest, as the sisters were calm and composed. In the most perilous moments, one of the sisters calmly said, "Well, perhaps the time has come."
Our experience has been a valuable one. After forty-eight hours of confinement, the writer waded through about four feet of water for four squares, where the troops helped him into a boat and then to the landing. Brother Driscoll, also, will have some thrilling experiences to relate to you.
We still have many, many blessings to count. One of the greatest is the knowledge of the Truth, and the love of the brethren. This experience will draw us closer together, as we have learned of the dear brethren's anxiety and efforts for our rescue.