MEET OUR BRITISH BRETHREN
Brother R. Robert Hollister reviews the highlights of his and Sister Hollisterís visit to the British friends. Their messages to us and our to them. 1956-1957
The foregoing discussion are published with no illusion as to their literary excellence and style: in fact we are quite conscious of imperfections in composition and punctuation. Nor do we desire to display any superior knowledge of harvest happenings or Scriptural comprehension. Our objective is solely an endeavor to, in some measure, be helpful to Godís dear people and cause. All will agree that perplexities and confusion exist among us to some degree. The Christianís way out is afforded through† a close and constant study and understanding of Godís Word and Spirit, and the application of these principles and percepts to our thinking and living.
Our hope is that the expressions herein may be found to be as St. Paul admonishes, "moderate." Simplicity and sincerity, we trust and believe, will be clearly evident. Furthermore our fond desire is that the combined and unanimous import of these words and thoughts be to point to "things above" where our affections should be "set"; where our "treasure" must be; and where we are longing to spend eternity.
This review has been prepared for free circulation among Bible Students, and for this purpose we have provided, we think, adequate supply. Any names and addresses you may send us will be checked against our mailing list and copies mailed accordingly.
Also please feel free to discuss with us any features of truth and practice pertaining to our mutual spiritual interests or having to do with the service of Godís plan and Godís people.
R. Robert Hollister
More than forty-five years ago the writer was invited by Brother Russell to introduce the weekly newspaper feature, "Pastor Russellís Sermons" to the British Press. Proposing also weekend pilgrim activities, Brother Russell gave us a letter of introduction to the British brethren, copy of which appears below. His words, "as my representative and, better still, as the Lordís representative" so very well represent his attitude of humility in matters pertaining to the Lordís work. Nearly two years among the British brethren endeared them to us, and that period is one of the happiest of our life. Many lasting friendships were formed, which have endured through the intervening years.
One of these dear brethren wore us in 1930 and again in 1955, together with his dear wife, inviting a return visit to the British friends. All expenses would be provided, except the ocean passage, hence the tour could be strictly a personal visitation. While delighted with the thought of visiting our faraway brethren again, and having our dear wife meet them too, we had a keen realization of our own inadequacy. As at the time of our first visit, we again viewed the undertaking with considerable fear and trembling. We silenced this opponent with a pebble from the brook: "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Additionally there were material obstacles to overcome. Diligently we sought the Lordís will through prayer. The removal of the hindrances, we thought, would indicate the Lordís approval. Soon the difficulties disappeared, and so we were ready to go! In 1910 we came to these Islands with youthful vigor and enthusiasm, perhaps emphasizing the two great qualities of faith and hope. In 1956 it was our desire to give greatest importance to that third element, the quality of LOVE.
Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A. July 12, 1910
To the Household of Faith in Great Britain and Ireland; Greetings in the name of the Lord.
This will introduce to you our dear brother in Christ, R. Robert Hollister. He is specially engaged in the Newspaper department of the Word, but we have requested him to do such Pilgrim service as will not interfere with the Newspaper work.
Receive him, please, not only as a representative of the Newspaper Syndicate, but also as my representative and, better still, as the Lordís representative. My prayer is that Brother Hollisterís ministrations to and yours to him may prove mutually helpful.
With best wishes and much Christian love, Your brother and servant in the Lord, (C.T. Russell)
Upon bidding farewell to our home class at Dayton, Ohio, in which we had served as one of the elders for some thirty-five years, we were commissioned to convey their love and greetings on our journeyings. Enroute to New York, our place of embarkation, we visited an ecclesia once large, but now small. In years gone by we had served this class as elder, pilgrim, convention speaker, etc. About twenty years ago this attitude changed and all invitations to serve ceased. However, as was our custom we attended the mid-week testimony meeting. Participating in it, we incidentally mentioned that we were going abroad. Much interest was expressed and the brethren voted to ask us to carry their love to those we might visit.
After the meeting, an elder asked how long we expected to be away. Kindly, but frankly we responded, "Not for long if the British brethren adopt the same attitude as does this class." The brother looked stunned and replied in rather dazed fashion saying, "Brother, I do not understand this situation." Nor do we, unless it is that partisanship has unbelievably, but effectively gained control. At the time above mentioned a senior elder had said, ĎWe will resign if you invite visiting speakers other than those representing the organization we support.í With the passage of years, these brethren together with other American classes have become accustomed to such undue influence as to those who shall serve as pastors and teachers. Prejudices, divisions, sects, parties, denominations are thus formed.
Happily we were to find that the British people have been born and nurtured in a different atmosphere than many of us in America. Standing firmly as non-conformists, together with tolerance and mutual respect is what we found. True, most of our ancestors fled Europe to escape religious persecution, but having arrived in this "free country" and with the passage of time we seem to have "dropped our guard," forgetting that "eternal vigilance" is the price of religious liberty as well as political liberty. Strength of character through non-conformity to man-made standards is a quality the Scriptures inculcate. After crossing Pennsylvania and entering New Jersey we stopped at Rutherford to visit the brethren of the Dawn Publishers. A very cordial welcome was extended to us by perhaps a dozen of its operating staff including several old friends. They added their love to the considerable package ear-marked for the British brethren. In the evening we visited the brethren of the Pastoral Bible Institute in Brooklyn. From these headquarters this group of brethren have endeavored to serve free brethren who escaped from the Society after Brother Russellís death. Indeed this Institute and its publication the "Herald" became a bulwark and tower of strength to scattered brethren far and near. After dinner or "high tea," they by vote joined their voice in loving greetings to those whom we should meet.
The following morning aboard the "Ile de France" bound for Plymouth, whence three centuries ago the many Pilgrims including our ancestor, John Hollister, departed for a cold, forbidden and heathen country. How different our reverse voyage: only five days instead of five months; to one of the most beautiful and agreeable countries in the world; to be greeted and entertained by warm-hearted, truth-loving, cordial, consecrated Christians.
"He gives the very best to those who leave the choice to Him."
A quiet, uneventful voyage with good opportunities for study and thought brought us to Plymouth where we were met by the dear brother and sister who were mainly instrumental in issuing the invitation for our visit, and who handled all correspondence pertaining to appointments, transportation schedules and many other details. Conforming to their expressed wish, we acquiesce in the following sweet and humble message: "The Lord knows our hearts and motives which inspired the invitation to you, and if a blessing resulted to you and to ourselves and to the brethren to whom you ministered then we are quite happy and feel that is sufficient recognition." Two hundred miles through the counties of Devon, Somerset, Wilts and Bucks gave us a fair sample of the 1000-mile stretch of Britain, which is commonly termed, "from Landís End to John OíGroats." Not only the beauties of England did we see, but also the extreme productivity both as to agriculture and industry. These great activities made this Island Kingdom, together with its seamanship, the most prosperous and influential nation in the whole world during a period of four hundred years. Five months were we to spend visiting most of the British brethren scattered in nearly all parts of the country. Best of all we were spending practically all of the time in their homes and thus learning to know the, -whom to know, is to love.
Retracing Old Paths
In olden times it was pridefully said, "all roads lead to Rome." In England all roads lead to London, and so before many days had passed we found ourselves in London living over some experiences of 45 years ago. We revisited Royal Albert Hall where Brother Russell addressed capacity audiences on several occasions. Another place of interest was the Thanet House at the junction of the Strand and Fleet St., where Pastor Russell Lecture Bureau had its office. The Ivanhoe Hotel where Brother Russell often stopped when in London, and the British Museum just nearby.
A Bit of Past History
After a survey of the general expansion program of the harvest activities and particularly the possibilities of introducing the weekly sermons into Britain, a suitable headquarters building was decided upon. Thus in the Lordís providence negotiations were completed resulting in the acquisition of a fine, old, Congregational Church costing 6,000 pounds ($30,000.) Some of the brethren at first questioned the wisdom of this substantial expenditure, but the benefits accruing soon demonstrated the tremendous value. In America, the Brooklyn Tabernacle had proved a great asset; now in Britain was needed a building comparable as a substantial background for the Sermons, Question Box, and the work in general. In the course of time over 600 British newspapers had weekly service, besides many in Continental Europe, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. Additionally the prestige of the London Tabernacle extended support to the work in Canada and the United States, where a total of 4000 newspapers over a period of years printed the weekly sermons. In neither London or New York were the metropolitan newspapers included, but from time to time they were used at regular advertising rates. Our records indicate that some twenty suburban London papers used the weekly service, and as a matter of interest we list them here: Balham & Tooting, Brockley & New Cross, Camden Town, St. Pancras, Dulwich, East London, East Finchley, Greenwich & Deptford, Halloway & Hornsey, Ilford, Lewisham, Norwood, Paddington, Penge & Anerley, Stoke, Newingham, Sydenham & Forest Hill, Willesden, Battersea, Shepherds Bush.
Was it a Miracle?
If we were asked how it happened that Pastor Russell Sermons gained such remarkable acceptance, we would of necessity say, It did not "happen," but was unquestionably of the Lordís blessing and direction. If it were then asked what were the main agencies used by the Lord to secure such remarkable results, we would say voluntary and unstinted efforts by consecrated brethren. Nothing influences a newspaper editor more than letters from his readers and we venture to say that tens of thousands wrote letters of appreciation of the sermons. Indeed it was the appearance of many hundreds of such letters in newspaper columns that suggested the possibility of making the sermons a national and later an international success. It was of the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes!
Never Before-not Since
Carefully estimated on a commercial basis the space occupied in British newspaper during those years had a value of 200,000 pounds ($1,000,000). Similarly calculating the space occupied in America, Europe, etc., it would be a total of 1,500,000 pounds ($7,500,000). In present day depreciated money, 5,000,000 pounds or $15,000,000. Like all other features of the Harvest work, this newspaper preachement was phenomenal. An authoritative secular writer in the States years ago stated rather ruefully that Pastor Russellís sermons occupied more newspaper space than all other columnists or syndicate writers combined. Contacting British newspaper publishers in 1910, they repeatedly said, "we simply never publish sermons," but in the Lordís providence 600 or more changed their policy.
Our regular appointments began 3rd, June, at Conway Hall, Central London where we were warmly greeted by some thirty brethren. This small, earnest group was quite a contrast to the Central London meetings of 45 years ago, when on special occasions the attendance would be as many as a thousand. However, similarly a tiny bit of pure gold or radium is often derived from large quantities of quartz and other materials. Some remaining loyal to the Lord, the truth and the brethren, have gone to their heavenly reward. Some few came to greet us anew out of the past, and several had visited us in America. All very gracious and kind and thus began our five month tour of Britain. We felt drawn to talk of our common joys of Present Truth and the coming Kingdom and our gathering together unto Him. Our afternoon topic was chosen from Matthew 4, a quotation from Isaiah 9, "The people which sat in darkness saw a great light." (RSV) After tea we considered several verses from Psalm 139, this study along with the text from Matthew are reported rather fully elsewhere. A farewell text to carry on our tour and back to America was suggested: Ro 8:29, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first born among many brethren."
Arriving at the famous city of Lincoln we were met by a sprightly, enthusiastic brother of over eighty years of age, who seized one of our heavy satchels and led off to a bus station several squares away. This youthful-spirited brother was Charles E. Dickinson, who having begun his course as a young man some fifty years before, was to finish his race while on a pilgrim trip to the south coast of England only a few weeks hence.
The bus conveyed us to the home of warm hearted brethren where we were to be much at home for several days, returning some weeks later for further fellowship and service. Four discourses† at their well appointed hall and numerous enjoyable studies and helpful conversation. This ecclesia chose as a message to us and to those we visited 2Th 1:11, 12, which reads: "Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power. That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ."
Brother Dickinson took great pleasure in pointing out at once the magnitude and exquisite beauties of the Lincoln Cathedral, where both he and his father had been actively connected many years before. On a high prominence, the Cathedral and Castle fortress are a source of great pride to the inhabitants for many miles about. It dominates the whole countryside. It reminds one of the prophecy describing Zion (Christ and his bride), the true and living Temple of the future, which shall be the joy of all nations and blessing† to all peoples of the earth. "Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion on the sides of the north, the City of the great King." (Ps 48:2)
Passed to His Reward
"Loving Greetings in Him. I was very pleased to have brotherís letter....Brotherís signature seemed a trifle familiar and so I got my Manna and turned the pages until I came to April 25th.., it seems as if we two young ones met in the early days. I expect to see you at least at Conway Hall Convention, if I can get there....Charles. E. Dickinson"
Next on our schedule came Kettering and a five day season of blessing. Here was an early introduction to the lovely ways of our British cousins. With the morning, one is happily awakened by a cheerful humming or snatch of hymn, a gentle knock and with the opening door a bright "Good morning." Draperies drawn aside to welcome the morning rays-tea for two! Such a lovely custom! Could anything be more pleasant or more typical of the true hospitality of our British brethren?
Meetings and small conferences, morning noon and night. Visitors drop in for a chat or we go to another home for tea and a somewhat informal meeting or some glad songs with the invariable good English singing. A motor load from Peterboro for the Sunday services and what a dear family they are! We would like to introduce them to you, but if we started "mentioning names," it would be a big task, and we might inadvertently leave someone out and that would never do. What an earnest and devotional prayer the dear brother offered. This wonderful experience past, but not forgotten, and we are on our way to Lincoln.
This "market town" is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Britain. However, we were interested in an area even more beautiful; yes, the region of the Spirit, "For our conversation is in heaven." So here at Melton Mowbray we found much to satisfy both our spiritual and human senses. We found an exceedingly warm welcome in this truth-home where we were to spend several days. Not only love and peace, but profound interest in the study of the Word of God and too, a deep understanding. These dear brethren seek for the truth as for "hidden treasure" and with considerable success; and we found them anxious to share their findings with us at our daily and nightly unscheduled meetings. What a boon for the church during the past century, the topical study of the Word. Brother Russell as none other brought to our attention this means of access to God and His Word, as represented in the Divine Plan and other features of Present Truth. After this season of good fellowship, including a day while driving through the outstanding "Peak District," we came to the Sunday meeting which assembled for study in Nottingham.
The Lordís "Girding"
Loving Greeting!....It was a real joy to us two to have you in our home....following the brief meeting we had....and we were only too sorry that the time together was so short. But we shall preserve the memory of you both and shall think of you still as you keep on in the way, examples of the long-keeping care of our God over those who have embraced and retained His truth....I like your thought about the choice of an earthly instrument being the "girding" of the Lord at His return as in the parable. One of the most significant evidences I think is the feast of truth of the past century....Warm love from us both. A.O.H."
Accompanying several from Melton Mowbray we arrived at the Y.M.C.A. meeting place in time for some visiting and fellowship with the brethren. Several remembered forty five years ago when on several occasions Nottingham was visited by Brother Russell. We recall those days when there were sizable meetings of the brethren addressed by Brother Russell and extremely large public lectures. These older brethren thrilled with joy in relating happenings of those harvest days. Also were mentioned with pleasure more recent visits by Brothers Hoskins, Thomson, Woodworth, MacAulay, John Read, Pollock, P.L. Read and others. Our topic was "Great Light," reviewed elsewhere, and so ended this happy event of our return visit to Nottingham.
"Loving greetings in Him we love....We all did appreciate very much having you both in our midst and the message, ĎHerein is My Father Glorifiedí you gave-warmly received. Our continued prayers and fond Christian love. Eph 1:6, ĎTo the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.í Yours by His Grace. Brother and Sister E.G.P."
This ancient town provides an ideal setting for a quarterly convention. A chapel for meetings and the ladies of the congregation who furnished suitable refreshments at moderate prices. This "home gathering" for the Midlands brethren was for one day only. June 30th, and with this inspirational background it was very impressive. Here John Wycliffe lived and preached, and worked on his translation of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into the English vernacular. His translation was never printed for the very good reason that the printing press had not yet been devised in the years 1374 to 1384, the date of his death. In 1380 he was condemned as a heretic, but was not molested, though his followers were persecuted by Catholicism then in power. John Huss, the great Bohemian reformer, was much influenced by Wycliffe and Martin Luther, the German reformed, was greatly influenced by Huss. Wycliffeís translation was widely used as a basis for translations which followed in English and Continental languages. It was a great landmark in Bible history.
An interesting feature of the afternoon session was a question meeting. Several very worthwhile points were brought up, and there was no criticism of those holding different views. The chairman, a Coventry brother, pointed out the divergent views, suggesting that each one carefully consider, accept and treasure the thoughts to him most logical, helpful and scriptural. Brother Hollister was scheduled for the evening discourse, and chose the topic, "Great Light," the substance being recorded elsewhere. Meantime opportunity to visit Brother Wycliffeís old chapel, tea and fellowship became available. Thus we came to the end of a day crowded with happy experiences. The Wycliffe Church is still in use despite its age of nearly, if not quite 600 years.
SEEING "GREAT LIGHT"
This prophecy (Isa 9:2) and its fulfillment transpired at the time of our Lordís ministry in Galilee (Mt 4:16) where they heard his gracious words and marveled. These Israelites had much enlightenment as compared to the heathen world about them, but the prophet referred to them as dwelling "in the land of the shadow of death." That was nineteen hundred years ago, and at the dawning of the Christian Era. Now at the far-end of the Gospel Age we also sat in like darkness and in "the land of the shadow of death;" yes, until recently even in the shadow of eternal torment. We, too, have seen a Great Light," Again the Lord is present, but recognized by only a few. He promised to return, and at that time "gird himself" and cause those who welcomed him to sit down and he would "come forth" and serve them. This great feast was served to some of us as much as fifty years ago, others forty, thirty, twenty, ten and even one.
Our lives were changed by this Great Light: the world, the universe, our ambitions, habits, church, ideals, hopes-everything. He came in and we have been supping and feasting with him by reason of this Great Lightí this truth now due; this Present Truth; this Harvest Message. At first the time features bulked large. The chronology pointed to nineteen hundred and fourteen with a startling alarm which stirred us decisively from lethargy and sleep. Since this awakening indescribable joy has been ours, but also uncertainty, perplexities, seeming delays, etc., have tested our faith and the Lord has been watching our response to these experiences, the intents of our hearts, the purity of our purpose. He sits as a purifier of silver and gold. As it was with the patriarchs and saints of the past: Abraham, Daniel, John the Baptist, the Apostles and even Jesus who was tempted and tested in all points like as we are, that in all things he might have the preeminence. However, dear brethren, the fact that we are here today indicates that we have weathered the gale thus far. Our faith in God and his great and precious promises continues. Our confidence has grown and, praise God, is greater than ever. Indeed that is the promise: "He that endureth to the end shall be saved." Let us hold fast the hope and the rejoicing firm unto the end.
Go-Teach All Nations
The sound like a mighty rushing wind that accompanied the Pentecostal baptism of the Holy Spirit was symbolic of the mighty power exhibited by the Disciples in carrying out the Masterís command to go into all the world and preach. History tells us that by the end of the first century there were three million profession Christians. Many thousands suffered as martyrs to the cause and these focused attention upon this new religion, attracting other adherents. History and tradition relate that the Apostles scattered: one to Spain, one to Scythia (Russia), one to northern Africa, one to India. Of Paulís activities we all know much. Peter and several remained mostly in Jerusalem. Beginning with St. James, nearly all the Apostles died as martyrs for their Master and his message-"whatsoever I have commanded you." Cruel and pitiless persecutions reached a climax under the Roman Emperor Diocletian at the beginning of the fourth century. Then conditions changed and with flatteries and the supposed adoption of Christianity by Constantine and many of the priests and supporters of heathenism and mysticism, Christianity became merely "nominal" and eventually Roman Catholicism was master of the field.
We read in Revelation, chapters 11 and 12 (Re 11-12), of two great symbolic events which indicate a cessation in large measure of public activities of the true Church of Christ. Godís "two witnesses [the Old and New Testaments]," arrayed in the "sackcloth" of dead languages and surrounded by equally ignorant priests and peoples, prevented the light of Godís Word from shining in the darkness. At this same time the True Church was given "two wings of a great eagle" that she might fly into the desert, her place, where she was nourished for the same period, or twelve hundred and sixty days. Thus the Church was practically in seclusion and we are accustomed to calling this period the "Dark Ages."
With the expiration of this period wonderful things began to happen. The "woman" came out of the desert, or in plain language, the Church became visible and active. The "two witnesses" were caught up into heaven: in simple language, the Bible became no longer hidden and suppressed; translations were made into many common languages; it was widely distributed and in the providence of God was raised to a position of power and influence.
North America The Melting Pot
Approximately three hundred and fifty years ago two events of tremendous importance occurred. This year (1957) the 350th anniversary of the establishment of Britainís first Colony, "James Towne" is being approximately celebrated and in 1961 will occur the 350th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible. The establishment of the American colonies suggests to us Bible Students how in the Lordís providence were gathered together in that newly discovered continent millions of people from all quarters of the globe. Many of these fled to escape religious persecution: the so-called Puritans from the Midlands of England; the Quakers of Wales and South England led by William Penn to found the "City of Brotherly Love," Philadelphia. Scotland sent her tens of thousands. Ireland, for over a thousand years subject to Papacyís priestcraft, sent a million, many starving for Irish potatoes of which there were not enough in their beloved native land. Similarly Italy and Poland sent their hemmed-in thousands away from the restriction of religious domination. Hundreds of thousands of Germans fled to escape imposed universal military service. Greek Catholics from Greece, Russia, etc. Muhammadans from many countries, Jews from all the nations where God had driven them. Many of the more enlightened of the millions of India, China, Japan, and on and one-truly American became "the melting pot."
William Miller, Adventist
Like most of the known reformers before him, William Miller believed in the visible appearance of the Lord and the literal burning up of the world; for, did not Peter say (2Pe 3:7), "The heavens and the earth which are now, by the same word, are reserved unto fire and the perdition of ungodly men"? He was known as "the man with the concordance" and with him we still appreciate our Crudenís, and the King James translation of the Bible through it is now nearly 350 years ago. His theory was never to interpret a Scripture text figuratively if at all possible to apply it literally; and so today his successors, the Adventists, follow that same practice. The dimensions and description of the New Jerusalem are just as they appear in the Revelation-gates of pearl, Davidís throne, and all. His interpretation of the "cleansing of the Sanctuary," was the reformation of our churches. He was driven to tremendous endeavors to save from death by burning all within the reach of his message, oral and printed: twenty different magazines, five hundred traveling preachers. In the absence of auditoriums a great circus tent was shipped far and wide. Great camp-meetings were arranged, one staged in New Hampshire reportedly attended by ten thousand. In those days with no railroads to speak of, only trails for wagons and horses; no hotels or restaurants, etc. Vast quantities of literature was prepared and distributed, much by ships as far as was then possible all over the civilized world.
This movement, 1831-1843, was in advance of the Harvest and used perhaps to pave the way for it. Miller did not "call out," but rather "join and clean up the churches." This was a wonderful work, of which too little is known. This man and his ministry were used of the Lord. Some believe it was described by our Lord in his parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins as the premature expectation of his Second Advent. (Mt 25:1)
Agnostic to Believer
The first one to see the "great light," which brings us together† today, was a young man, who, though a child of godly Scotch-Irish parentage, had lost faith in the Bible. He supposed it taught that God had placed upon earth man with powers of procreation resulting in a vast population, which God himself could not destroy. Hence, the bad, justly condemned, were to spend an eternity in pain and misery, but God could do nothing about it, for no power in heaven or earth could destroy these death-proof beings. These untold millions would necessity spend an eternity in "Hell." Less than one hundred years ago these ideas of God and the bible were very real and generally held by Christian people.
Staying Out Nights
This young man, Charles T. Russell, for he it was, was too just and kind to believe that God, who had created so much that was obviously beautiful and good, could be the author of such a plan. Consequently he laid aside this impossible book and devoted himself to business in which, despite his youth, he was extremely successful. In going back and forth to his place of business he frequently passed an old, dingy Adventist church. He met several of these devout men, including Brother Storrs who had been one of the many preachers presenting the Miller ideas a generation earlier. These good men helped young Russell to see enough truth to cause him to determine to lay aside the ideas which he had unquestioningly accepted as Bible teaching and really study the Bible without preconceived ideas. About this time he began staying out all-hours of the night. Russellís mother had died when he was very young, but his father kept an eye on him, and could not understand why Charles stayed out so late nights. Thought he, "Surely Charles is a good boy, Iíll follow him and see where he so constantly goes." One night he did! Charles went to his own retail store; unlocked the door; in the rear at a desk he place an oil lamp; getting out his Bible and reference books, settled down to a night of study. Brother Russell, Senior, went home to peaceful slumber.
Progress and Preparation
In 1876 we find Charles T. Russell-though only twenty four years of age-a successful business man, extending his chain-store operations to the metropolis of the state, Philadelphia. He had continued his studies in the Word both as regards fundamental doctrines and advanced spiritual growth. Clearing up the foul stains which Satan had inspired mainly through propagating the theory of the inherent immortality of the human soul and its attendant errors and false conclusions. The study of the promise of the Lordís return became a thrilling subject. Much progress was also made as respects spiritual growth; the privilege of consecration; the development of Christian character. He heard the Father say, "My son, give me thine heart." He heard the Apostle say (Ro 12:1), "...present your bodies a living sacrifice...a reasonable service."
An Alarm Clock
About this time a copy of an Adventist magazine dated in 1876 came to his attention. It suggested that perhaps their expectation of the Lordís return in 1874 had been fulfilled in an unexpected way. Had the Lord come secretly as a spirit being and not in the flesh as Adventists had previously thought, but rather, "put to death flesh, made alive spirit?" The publisher of the magazine lived at a distance. Young Brother Russell invited him to come to Philadelphia at his expense and discuss this vastly important thought and present Biblical proofs of its accuracy. He became convinced that Bible chronology was sufficiently clear to justify his confidence and to indicate the Lord had returned to earth in 1874 as an invisible spirit being. He would come "as a thief." As John the Baptist said of Jesusí first advent (Joh 1:26), "There standeth One among you whom ye know not." Brother Russell said, "If our Lord is here, then it is the End of the Gospel Age, the Harvest time. If this is the Harvest, I will give up my business and devote myself entirely to the Lordís business." This he quickly accomplished and began publication of the Watch Tower in 1879, and followed with the six volumes of Scriptural Studies one after the other.
"Illustrations are Windows"
"The Harvest is the end of the Age," said our Lord, and here began a work during the next forty years such as the Christian World had never experienced, either before or since. The spectacular performance of "Billy Sunday" of a half century ago or the current demonstration of skill and psychological technique by "Billy Graham" and his organization in no way approach in magnitude the vast Worldwide witness led by "Pastor Russell," as he became everywhere known. The Russell message was not like Adventist Millerís, to cleanse and revive, nor like the usual evangelistís exhortation to join the "church of your choice," but rather a harvesting or separating call to "come out" and be separate. Our Lord obviously referring to this harvest period as recorded in Lk 17:34-37 makes use of a series of illustrations. Three couples are used to graphically portray those who stay and those who come out. The environments are also significant; two men in one bed; two women grinding; two men in the field: how odd and strange, one shall be taken and the other left! To him that knocketh, it shall be opened, and so we are praying for the clear answer based on the Scriptures and the happenings which the oldest of our listeners and readers can well remember. What do the bed, women grinding, and men in a field, mean?
Two Men in a Bed
The two men in a creed-bed suggests a mixture of godly and worldly people mixed up in church organizations. These denominational berths are uncomfortable for true Christians as described by the Prophet Isaiah, Isa 28:20, "For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it." The worldly are very well pleased and content with the social, cultural and financial rewards of church membership, but those seeking spiritual satisfaction are discontented and welcome the breaking up of an improper relationship. These two men in bed personify tens of millions of professing Christians of all nationalities and in all parts of the world. The message of truth-Present Truth-had to go to the churches. First, they were offered lectures, but this was too slow and not very welcome. Next, on a larger scale, "Food For Thinking Christians" through the mails and delivered in millions at church doors. At first when there were few "in the truth," this delivery was a problem. Ah, the Lord had a solution, and Brother Russell discovered it. Telegraph messenger boys were dependable and could be hired to do tasks of this sort, and they did, not only in America, but in Britain, too. Soon there were study groups in nearly all sizable towns and cities and they were glad to do the distribution work. Thereafter nearly every Sunday they went to church, but rather late and stood on the outside delivering the wonderful gems of truth-with a smile. About the year 1904 the speaker and his family were on the receiving side, but by the next year they were on the giving side, joining in the distribution: freely ye have received, freely give. About the year 1907 the method of distribution changed: probably pastors and their flocks were annoyed with the annual visitations, and so the next phase of this parable then had its fulfillment.
Two Women Grinding
These two women could represent church systems or theological colleges, but let us think of them as representing or personifying the millions of profession Christian homes throughout the world. "Grinding" grain for flour, suggests household duties or environment. By this time the colporteur work began to assume large proportions; hundreds of brethren from all walks of life ceased their regular occupations and ways of life and spent all of their time traveling about from town to town placing the Scripture Studies in the home. Thus the Volumes became "best-seller" and reached a total distribution of towards ten million copies. Eventually nearly one thousand brethren were so engaged and Brother Russell esteemed this manner of harvesting as perhaps the most blessed† of the various methods employed. However, these friends who left their school teaching, shop work, doctoring, dentistry, office work, etc., to devote all of their time to visiting homes with precious truth were not alone in this phase of the "calling out." The house to house distribution of free literature began to take on huge proportions. Year by year the "volunteer work" and workers increased until by 1910 there were thousands who practically every Sunday were out singly and in groups depositing the current yearsís free literature in American, Britain and parts of Europe. This annual distribution during the latter years attained or exceeded the fifty million mark and continued up to and slightly beyond the last year of Brother Russellís earthly life, 1916. The one taken might represent an individual or several in a family, and certainly in the fulfillment the "one taken" represents a far less number than the "one left."
Two in the Field
Some were called out of the "field:" we know that there were those far afield who had never been associated in any church organization and would be looked upon as purely worldly: we have met personally a number of such who become very devoted and consecrated. Fitting this pattern to the harvest happenings it seems that in the latter years the message was beamed, to use a modern term, towards those in worldly environments rather than church and home. For instance there were held many vast meetings in public halls and theatres, using somewhat spectacular subjects such as, "To Hell and Back," and "Where are the Dead?" These widely advertised gatherings were usually addressed by Brother Russell or other competent brethren. Another important effort to reach those in the "field" could well be represented in the four to five thousand different newspapers in the United States, Canada, Great Britain and elsewhere which were induced to print the weekly sermons of Pastor Russell. Finally, in this classification we would mention the message to all, including the masses, as presented in motion-pictures and talking phonograph records. This unique Photo-Drama met with wide acclaim and many heard this persuasive call to "come out," and acted accordingly.
Taken Where, Lord?
Are we not glad that the disciples were interested to know where the "taken" ones were taken to and they asked, where Lord? Our Lordís answer was true and clear: where the "body" is, there will the eagles be gathered together. These birds represent those attracted by the body of truth then and now due. They "come out" and are "taken" to a feast of "fat things," the Present Truth, the Harvest Message. What a wonderful intellectual and spiritual repast! Those who had been "sitting in darkness" at church, at home, or afield have seen a "Great Light" and we wonder, and we rejoice, and continue to feast.
Planting and Reaping Co-extensive
No good farmer plants wheat where it cannot be harvested. Nor would our Lord as the great householder instruct his servants to plant wheat in his field ("the world") unless he intended harvesting it in due course. If this conclusion is correct, we may be certain that the worldwide planting was followed by a worldwide reaping. In other words, our Lordís harvesting would necessarily be co-extensive with the sowing. Consistent with this theses, in 1911 time and funds permitted Brother Russell to tour the Orient. At most centres of population public meetings were held such as Tokio, Hong King, Shanghai, Canton, Manila, Singapore, Colombo, Madras, Bombay to mention the more prominent ones. The interest was so considerable that he decided a wide-spread witness should be made. In Travencore, southern Italy, the society had a native representative and established office. In this section there had been Christian activities reaching back over one thousand years, and it was claimed that 25% of the inhabitants were professing Christians.
India China Japan Korea
Brother Russellís instructions were to choose six most widely used languages in India and 100,000 pieces of literature printed in each. This was done: the message especially prepared and entitled, "The Friend of all People." Next China were two printed languages covered the vast population-Wenli and Mandarin. Here were printed over a million copies in each language. Both Japan and Korea required only one language each. All told approximately 5,000,000 tracts were printed and distributed to one-half the worldís inhabitants. That was one for every 200 people. How shall we proceed? The Lord promises to guide in the solving of such perplexing problems. The solution became simple: this was a harvest work; why not send the literature where Christians should be found?
Where there were missionaries there should be converts. Christianized orientals often can read and their native pastors and teachers could help and they usually did. For each center of missionary activity there were allotted 200 tracts per missionary. Maps and complete information were providentially available. Very often the native pastors helped our distributors to put the literature where it could and would be read. Judging by the thousands of letters received in response to this vast quantity of literature it reached eager hands and hungry hearts. Suffice it to relate the contents of one letter: Dr. Goto, a Japanese wrote in substance as follows: "I have been a Christian for the past thirty years. Of late I became discouraged, and have been staying home from church. At this time ĎBamin-No-Tomoí (The Friend of All People) came. I got in touch with several Christian friends, including the postmaster of a nearby town, who had been a Christian for the past fifty years. We met together and read ĎBamin-No-Tomo,í and after complete discussion we decided we wanted to lead the people according to ĎBamin-No-Tomo.í" Later correspondence indicated that they distributed large quantities of literature, including the Divine Plan, which was printed in four of the ten oriental languages.
"Iíd Rather Go to Hell!"
Before leaving the Orient, we here relate by contrast a somewhat typical attitude on the part of the more educated "heathen"(?). We became well acquainted with a prominent publisher in the Hindi language. Being a Hindu he revered and loved and perhaps worshiped his ancestors. Suddenly and unexpectedly he turned to us and remarked: "You Christian missionaries tell us heathen of your God of love, which appeals to us. You say He is all-powerful, and that there is no other name to save but His son Jesus. I ask you, what about my loved ones, my relatives who never heard of Jesus? You have no answer: they are in torment: they are in Hell! Yet your all-powerful God could have saved them, but did not. No thank you Missionary! Iíd rather go to Hell and be with my friends, than go to Heaven and be with a God like that."
The Historic Year 1914
Motion pictures, slides, synchronized music and talking records presenting the Divine Plan were being shown in all English speaking countries as well as throughout all Europe. The Photo-Drama of Creation had cost several million to prepare and exhibit to tens of millions of people. Many date their conviction of the truth to this final, visual, spectacular demonstration. Other activities were not allowed to diminish. Colporteurs, pilgrims, volunteers, public lectures and newspapers continued to proclaim the Glad Tidings. The work was going on so "grandly" that Brother Russell was cautioning against too great certainty as to our chronological expectations, which he said, should not be allowed to "weigh anything against the facts."
Drama in Miniature
On a hot Sunday afternoon in August, 1914, this speaker sat beside Brother Russell in a small electric car crossing Brooklyn Bridge. As we had crossed from "City Hall" station we heard "extras" being called-"WAR IN EUROPE!" Buy some! We sat in a corner of the almost empty car and read aloud the headlines and dispatches. True, was had broken out! Here in these familiar surroundings sat the one who for forty years had been pointing out from the Scriptures this great crisis in human events which should occur in this momentous year. He had directed the expenditure of millions of the Lordís money, contributed by thousands of consecrated Christians, including every dollar of his substantial fortune. He had told the saints, "Thy God Reigneth," prepare to meet thy God! He had attempted to awaken the worldly church to the coming of Christís Kingdom. He had pointed to prophecies focusing on 1914 as the fateful year. Centuries ago the Prophet Amos (Am 9:13) had foretold-"the plowman shall overtake the reaper." If any individual could possibly personify the "reaper" it was Brother Russell. The plowing we recognize as the breaking up of established nations and society (the cosmos). Thus in miniature we saw the reaper overtaken by the plowman. At once the plowing began in Europe and is still in progress all over the world.
Many inquire, "Are we then dependent upon a rather technical and somewhat complicated system of chronology to prove that the Lord is indeed now secretly present and preparing for the Kingdom about to be revealed?" Our answer is, we do not think so. We would rather anchor our faith to three, yes four other evidence which are simple, positive and convincing. FIRST our Lord promised upon his return to gird himself and serve a feat of truth. This he has done in marvelous fashion as has been just reviewed. We who sat in darkness have seen a great light. This enlightenment has circled the globe for the illumination of Christians everywhere.
SECOND proof of our Lordís second presence, unseen by human eye, is the shaking of heaven and earth, as foretold by Haggai "...I will shake the heavens and the earth...." (Hag 2:6, 7) This prophecy is quoted in Heb 12:26, 27. We who have lived during a considerable portion of the past fifty years know by personal observation that this shaking has been in progress. The "heavens" are well known to be Satan and his invisible hosts working in and through human agencies. False church systems are designed to deceive and mislead. The power to influence their adherents has been largely lost by Papacy and her Protestant daughters, hence we find "tolerance," another term for indifference.
The shaking of the earth is more obvious and consequently more easily comprehended. In the last summer of 1914 the First Great War broke out and since then there have followed many small wars and the Second Great War. These have been earth-shaking in fulfillment of the prophecy under consideration. The shaking of nations with consequent dethronement of emperors, kings, dictators, governments, colonial powers, authorities, classes and castes of every sort. We have witnessed the leveling of mountains and hills of authority, and we have seen the valleys of depressed peoples coming up to a higher level. Such a leveling process does not always mean greater blessings for all at once but usually for the few, but it does constitute a preparatory work which the Lord is accomplishing as he foretold. All this is preliminary to his revealment and recognition in the Epiphania and Apokalupsis of our Lord.
THIRD†† The third proof of the our Lordís presence and the imminence of the establishment of Christís Kingdom is in the remarkable returning of favor to the people of Israel. Beginning with the Congress of Nations at Berlin in the year 1878 when Turkey was forced to extend the privilege of land ownership in Palestine to the Jews. This was followed by the "fishers" as represented in the Zionist efforts to establish colonies of Jews in the promised land. Then the "hunters" as represented in Hitler and other brutal persecutions leading to the return of Israel of over a million of the dispersion and founding of the nation of Israel in 1948 with its progressive advancement ever since.
God is Not Slack
To many the diminishing number of embryo saints is very apparent. Peter tells us in his Second Epistle (2Pe 3:9) "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." These words are unmistakably addressed to the Church, not to the world, see first verse of the first and third chapters where he addresses those of "like precious faith" and "beloved." To us this is a clear intimation that the last members of the Church are given in some cases much needed time to finish their course with joy; to go on to perfection and to hasten the preparation for the marriage; thus the wife will have made herself ready.
From Over Seas
"Warmest Christian Greetings!....and a happy reminder of the short time of fellowship we had with you....I am thankful to our loving Father and to you dear ones from over seas and I pray Godís riches blessings on you both for your labors of love in this service. With love to all, Heb 6:10, A&M."
Our several days at Coventry and vicinity were crowded with joyful activities and fellowship. This great industrial city was badly damaged during the last great war, but is being rebuilt better than ever. In fact the vast new construction throughout Britain and Germany and American, etc., reminds us of our Lordís parable of the house holder who had so much that he decided to tear down his barns and build greater and to say to himself, I now have much laid aside for the future and can take my ease, etc., but the concluding thought was: "thou fool, this night shall thy soul be required of thee." We might apply this parable to the whole materialistic generation in which we live. Much of the beautiful old Cathedral was bombed, but some of the walls still standing are being strengthened and will remain as a reminder of what was, and the evils of war. Where once were pulpit and pews and other characteristic furnishing will be grass and formal gardens. In the adjoining area is being erected an entirely new structure, of most modern design.
We could have visited the famous residence of Shakespeare at Stratford-on-Avon, or as an alternative visit a dear brother and sister at Warwick who are largely isolated and enjoying little fellowship; needless to say, we went to Warwick. The invalid sister confided, "It was like a visit from angels." In any case we got from Shakespeare a thought and a subject for some thoughts next appearing under the caption, "The World is a Stage."
Sunday at Coventry there were two services together with the delightful and the customary tea. One discourse on "What Lack I Yet?" and Bible study on Luke 3. One dear brother joined us for the day from Birmingham, where he and his father were active 45 years ago, in the days of Brother Russell, when Town Hall with two thousand attendance was experienced. The good sized class gave us a vote of love and as a text to treasure and share, Weymouthís version of Joh 16:27, "for the Father Himself holds you dear, because you have held me dear and have believed that I came from the Fatherís presence."
The World Is a Stage
William Shakespeare , the dramatist, said, "The word is a stage and we the actors thereon." This well turned phrase we believe to be far more accurate than he or his admirers realized. How wonderful if the future demonstrates that the tragedy of earth is enacted not only for the eternal benefit of the inhabitants of this earth but for the inhabitants of thousands of millions of worlds still undeveloped and uninhabited. Various intimations and statements of Godís Word seem to confirm this theory.
If this be a correct deduction, then the reign of sin and death upon this earth will have a tremendously far reaching effect, not alone upon the human family but throughout the vast reaches of Godís Universe. How convincingly it will demonstrate Godís attributes of Wisdom, Justice, Love and Power. What a miracle of His grace it will be, if the sinfulness of manís fall and tragedy of his resultant death can be so effectively dramatized as to cause its lessons to endure eternally.
7000 Years and 8000 Miles
This drama consists of seven scenes and lasts seven thousand years. Yes, a long night of weeping, but a morning of joy and lessons of permanent and inestimable value. This is a spectacle worthy of Godís planning and execution. This planet only 8000 miles in diameter serves as a stage upon which to reach the most important lessons of the Universe and eternity, viz., obedience to God. Thus, God in using the earth, though only a speck in the Universe, and its inhabitants as a laboratory of testing grounds to demonstrate to man and angels (1Co 4:9) and unbelievable billions yet unborn on billions of whirling spheres yet uninhabited, the effects and fruitage of disobedience to the just and equitable laws of a loving God.
Red Letter Day For Us
"Loving Greetings....We knew the dear Lord Jesus would richly bless your visit to the friends in the Cotswold, we love those dear ones....We, also have very happy memories of your visit to our home. Sister often speaks about it, particularly for sister, it was a red letter day for us. The dear Lord is good to those who love Him. His mercies are new each morning and renewed each evening....May God bless you. H.H.M."
From Londonís busy station we entrained for the quiet of Englandís beautiful County of Sussex and the Southern Coast, to again meet friends who 45 years ago had opened their homes and hearts during those buy, happy, anticipatory years. Instead of the glorification of the church in 1914 came the first world-war: a cruel disappointment to all except those fully submissive to Godís will and way. To such, a convincing verification in definite viable and painful way of the end of Gentile Times. Following this sad experience of four long years, a peaceful season for a time, and then a second more devastating experience in the second world-war: loss of home, furnishings, health-horrors and sorrows! When oneís faith lays hold upon the promises, these things that are seen are offset by the realities of the unseen, and oneís hope reaches within the veil as an anchor to the soul, sure and steadfast. Our visit to Harold Irwin and his wife, formerly Greta of the dear Sharp family of London, was a homey one of several days and much enjoyed. One eveningís added pleasure was Brother and Sister Albert Hudson whom Harold brought home from Eastbourne where they were on holiday. Parts of two days at nearby Bexhill-On-Sea made possible good visit with Sister Fanny MacKenzie, who spent several years in China in the harvest word, her sisters Agnes and Belle, and Sister Margaret Shearn Chapman and her husband (since deceased). Precious was the Christian bonds which drew us together, and which transcends the joys, sorrows and disappointments of this life.
For yeasts we have desired to visit this ecclesia for we had formed the impression that it was much like the Earlham Hall meetings which we had visited and addressed in the long ago. Now we were going back to East London after 45 years. We arrived Euston Station among a thousand or more passengers. Without any hesitation, up walked one we had never seen before-our host, Harry E. Nadal. Without any advance description or identification, it appears like these Bible Student smiles are unmistakable. A brief subway ride and we were welcomed to one of the hundred-fold homes and brothers and sisters-including Sr. Jess. Brother Harry Nadal had been mentioned often, particularly because of his work in receiving and forwarding from American and British brethren necessities to the German brethren. This work entailed six or eight journeys to the Continent to increase the efficiency and accuracy in serving those needy and worthy. Medicines were included with clothing and foods and all amounted to thousands of pounds of value.
London and the British Museum
During this week our host and hostess were desirous of having us see some of the worldís most famous sights of the City of London. Everywhere are evidences or monuments of historic events covering hundreds of years-some lost because of recent wars. Westminster, Tower of London, Houses of Parliament, St. Paulís , but our chief point of interest was the British Museum.