The September 1st WATCH TOWER has just arrived and I do not know how to express the encouragement I feel in the reading of the first article on the "Christian's Duty and the War." As you know, no doubt, there has been a form of Census taken here in England, and many of the dear friends have been very much exercised as to what they ought to do if Conscription should come.
In reference to those of military age, my dear husband (who with myself has had the glorious knowledge of the Truth of God's Word for nine years) is of military age, and I have assured him that I should be proud of him (if he were compelled to go) to know he had been shot as a traitor (according to this world's opinion) rather than feel he had taken human life, because I should know he had been faithful to "His King"the King of Glory. The knowledge that he had finished his course and entered into the joys of his Lord would be just another link to draw me closer to the Lord, although the extent of the loss of his companionship only the Lord would know.
So strong do I feel, dear Brother, about having no part or lot if I can help it with this war, that when our son, a lad of 16, kept pressing the matter to us of going to sea on a passenger liner, I gave way very willingly, whereas not long ago I had been very much opposed to the thought on account of the great risks they are running; for I feel I would rather know he had gone down by a torpedo, etc., than know he had taken human life, for although so young he was continually being badgered to join the army and told he could say he was 19, and when the news came that there was to be a registration and that he might be taken for making ammunition, I looked away from the present things and thought of the glorious beyond, when all should hear His voice and come forth from Sheol.
When I tell you, dear Brother, that he is our only son, and very, very dear to us both (our other one, a dear little lad of 5-1/2 years, the Father has graciously hidden"until the wrath be overpast"for four years now), you may know that we needed the Lord's strength to let him go; but if we never meet again we are assured that "All things are working together for good."
I feel so glad you have made it clearer as regards the actually going into the trenches and firing, because I felt all along that if I were a brother I could not agree to the thought of accepting the uniform, taking the oath, etc., and [R5789 : page 319] then, if one was refused a place at the base or hospital and compelled to go into the trenches, to refuse to fire. To my mind it would not be rendering to Caesar the things that are his. I felt it would be more honest to say, "No, I refuse to take human life"; and then if they said I should be shotwell I would take it that it was the Lord's will.
The present happenings in England are calculated to unnerve many, for one never knows when he goes to bed at night whether a bomb will strike the house. But we that have put our trust in the Lord can rest peacefully, knowing that He is in charge. One dear sister who rents a room and lives alone had the awful experience of a bomb striking the house she was in, and the whole of the room, except where her bed stood, was utterly destroyed, and she herself came through without a scratch. On the following day (Sunday) she gave a splendid testimony to the friends, and told them that the same God who had cared for her would also take care of them, and if it was His will they should finish their course that way, what matter; they were only going Home to see their dear Father and elder Brother. Poor dear! Her face showed the strain of her ordeal; but she had not a bitter feeling towards the Germans; she just said she had dropped them over into the Millennium for Judgment.
Now, dear Brother, I am afraid this is a very lengthy letter, but I felt I wanted you to know how the Lord is blessing your labor of love in ministering to His people. May He give you grace and strength to press on until you see Him face to face. With our united love,
Just before crossing the State line of Illinois, heading westward, I learned that a man representing himself to be a brother in the Truth had visited some of the classes in the country, stating that he was formerly an attache of the Headquarters in Brooklyn, but had been "sent forth with the seventy." I do not remember the name, but undoubtedly it was fictitious. He wanted assistance to get further westward, where he had friends and where he could find work, etc. The "loan" was made, but that was the last seen or heard of this individual in the form of a man.
In western Kansas I learned of an almost identical case, save that there were somewhat more details given, which enabled me at once to detect the fraud. In each case it was the isolated who were "worked." In the Kansas incident the individual stated that he had put all the money that he had into the work; but that everything was closing down at Brooklyn, so he had been "sent forth," and without money. The story he told did not correspond with the facts as I knew them to be at Headquarters, so I quickly detected that it was a confidence game that was being systematically worked. Among other misstatements was one to the effect that he had worked in the "bindery" at Brooklyn, but the Society was no longer publishing the STUDIES, so the "bindery" had closed down, and he among others had to be set adrift, etc. Like the Illinois case he too wanted to get further west, where he had friends and where he expected to find work. He made the "touch" and got away.
Now none of the friends who assisted these individuals were in a position to do so; but out of their goodness of heart they denied themselves to help, as they supposed, a Truth brother. Besides, what they have is consecrated to the Lord. So it was really the Lord's money that these frauds [R5790 : page 319] obtained. It occurred to me that you might consider this of sufficient importance to sound a warning through THE WATCH TOWER.
Again I wish to report that I find the general conditions in the field most encouraging. While the friends are restful, they are not sleepy, but rather are "waiting on the Lord," with "full assurance of faith" that He who has begun the good work is still at the helm and will finish the same in His own "due time." I find the friends growing in grace, zeal and love, and in joyous expectancy of a glorious change soonvery soon. The class conditions, as I have noted them, are an inspiration to me, spurring me on to renewed zeal and more determined efforts to have my sacrifice consumed, while it is called Day.
I cannot close without again assuring you of my ever increasing love and abiding confidence in you as the Lord's specially chosen servant to bring forth meat in due season for such as have partaken sufficiently of the "bitter herbs" to have their appetites sharpened so they can relish the "table prepared by the Lord."
In June 1 WATCH TOWER, 1915, page 2, you speak of the division of the Berean Classes, when they number more than twenty, and say that this same rule, you believe, would be found advantageous for the Prayer meeting. A few of our Class want the Wednesday meeting divided, but have said nothing as to the other classes being divided. I am sure that we all want to do the will of our dear Lord. Was it your thought that the classes should be divided regardless of the will of the majority?
Everything in THE WATCH TOWER and in the STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, etc., should be understood as advicenothing as commanded. We hold that only the Lord and the Twelve Apostles (St. Paul taking the place of Judas) have the right to command the people of God. Others, including the Editor, have merely the right to advise. And such advice should always be accompanied by either a Scriptural citation or an explanatory reason.
In recommending to the classes of Bible Students throughout the world that classes be divided when they number over twenty, we were following this rulemerely giving advice. There being no Scripture for this, we submitted our reasons: That large classes cannot so efficiently participate in the lessons and, therefore, cannot be expected to reap as large a blessing from them. We hold that in every Wednesday evening Testimony meeting a special blessing comes to all who participate; and very similarly, that in the Berean classes participation sharpens interest and deepens the impressions, and thus enlarges the blessings to be derived.
However, in every case it is for the class itself to decide, and that by a majority vote, whether in their case the class shall be divided or not. There might be reasons why a general rule might not apply in some particular cases because offset by other conditions. Be it always understood that according to the Divine arrangement as given us in the Bible, the class itself decides every question. And only the consecrated ones constitute the class proper, although the pleasure of the unconsecrated who may attend might well be considered by the consecrated when voting.
While each class might be considered an Ecclesia, or Church, by itself and entirely independent of every other class, nevertheless unity and fellowship are very desirable, and the various classes in one city may very appropriately be united in one Ecclesia, or Church, thus deriving the benefits of occasional joint meetings, joint fellowship and participation in the joint arrangement in the selection of servantsElders and Deacons. In thus uniting, each class, as well as each individual, sacrifices independence for the benefits of cooperation.
Men may sorrow in distress,
Sin-cursed, blind and weary,
Death may rule supreme today
All things may look dreary:
Make haste, O time; speed on, ye years!
As moments pass, the Kingdom nears.
Saints may "groan within" and suffer
Outward shame, distress, defeat;
Trouble may test faith and patience
Fiery trials, "furnace heat":
But stop your sighing, dry your tears;
As moments pass, the Kingdom nears.
Men for earth and saints for Heaven;
God's decree will surely stand.
Shout for joy, give God the glory!
Safe deliverance is at hand.
Ah, no more doubtings, no more fears,
As moments pass, the Kingdom nears.
J. G. KUEHN.