BIBLE STUDENTS DAY, JUNE 7th, 1915(From 1915 Convention Report, Pages 166 and 167)
At the Exposition Grounds a Committee of the Exposition Officials met our company at Festival Hall at 1:30 P.M. Director A. W. Scott, Jr. gave a brief address expressing a very hearty welcome to the Bible Students, and to Pastor Russell. To this Pastor Russell responded, on behalf of the Bible Students, expressing our deep appreciation of the hearty welcome extended to us, and briefly setting forth some views of God’s great plan, as held by the Bible Students.
Address of Welcome by A. W. Scott, Jr. (San Francisco World’s Fair Director.)
Promptly at one-thirty several hundred delegates of the Bible Students assembled at Festival Hall. After Organist Clarence Eddy, had delighted the delegates with the sweet music which flowed grandly and impressively from the great pipe organ at the touch of his deft fingers, Chairman E. D. Sexton introduced Director A. W. Scott, Jr., who welcomed the Delegates in the following words: Mr. Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Delegates, Guests:—I want to say on behalf of the Exposition Directorate that we hope you are all our very good friends. I feel that it is a great privilege to address an audience such as this today. We have welcomed many, many groups of people, representing different governments, as our guests to the Grounds, but it seems to me it is a particular privilege to speak to a delegation representing a great civilizing influence, such as brings you here today.
I cannot tell you how fitting it seems to me to see the representatives of your great organization participating in the work of this Exposition. Many have said to us as we have been doing our work, from the time we first took up the harness to the present, "What do you expect to get out of it? What are you doing it for? Why are you giving your time in something that possibly may be a thankless task?" I want to say this privilege of talking to you; this privilege of feeling we belong to you, and you and your great organization belong to us; that we have a part in the things you are working for; that you have the same desire to educate , and benefit fellow men—these are the things that go to make up the reward that comes to us for the efforts and toil we have put in, and will still put into the work of this Exposition.
Perhaps you will be able to come with me for a moment into our inner thoughts; really into our inner soul in the matter of this Exposition. You know there is nothing that gives me the pleasure I have in speaking to an audience like this, that I feel will really go down beyond the pageantry, and fun, and tassel of the Exposition. There is a motive in this Exposition far beyond the outward show. You who have been devoting your lives and thoughts to those things which make for the good of your fellows, can understand and appreciate how a few of the citizens of our state have gathered together with the idea of giving their best of time and effort, that they might be small figures in carrying out a work which the Almighty has planned for this great commonwealth of ours; that they might be units, in working out the destiny which the great Creator has ordained for us. While the nations are battling on the other side, we should be happy that we are given this opportunity of working out something that may tend to the betterment of our fellow men. There is something beyond the educational, something beyond the pleasure that may be experienced, something deep down in this Exposition that has a great civilizing influence which we cannot help but feel.
I am indeed glad to come here and address such a speaker as we have here today; a man whose life is devoted to the betterment of mankind—and to feel that I have a part as a worker in this field, of participating in a work like this. Surely that is a reward sufficient for one individual. In representing our Board I ask you as Delegates, and Pastor Russell as your representative, to accept a small token, a Bronze Medal, commemorative of the occasion.
We are giving it to you that you may have some small, tangible mark of our appreciation of those who, as we do, stand for progress, for the benefiting of humanity, for the aiding of fellow men. We heartily welcome you, and ask that you take this medal away and cherish it, not so much for its value; not so much for the occasion it represents; not so much for the gathering of people as for the great basic truth, the great fundamental principle which we can feel working within us, pushing us onward in the direction of progress and development. We heartily welcome you. I say to you, representing the Exposition Board, our doors are open to you. You belong to us; this is your home. Our house, so far as we have been able to put it in order, is yours. Come and participate with us of the feast. As we do so let us have, as we do, the full measure of gratitude, that full appreciation of our Maker, for the kindness that makes it possible for us to be separate from the strife and battle elsewhere; that enables us to gather in this Exposition, representing the great work of our magnificent nation; representing something we are doing to help man onward and upward to better things.
Response by Pastor Russell
I am sure, my dear sir, that I express the sentiments of the entire company here present, when I thank you on their behalf for this evidence of your sympathy and cooperation with us. I indeed esteem it a privilege to be a representative of the Bible Students, and for your information, sir, as well as for the information of others here, I have pleasure in saying that our Association is a purely voluntary one. We have no denominational creeds—nothing whatever except love for God and His Book, love for fellow men, and our love for ourselves in that we are seeking to do those things that would be for our own highest welfare.
The Association, in choosing San Francisco at this time as a meeting place for the Convention, had in mind this wonderful Exposition. I had the pleasure of being here, sir, more than a year ago, and of visiting the grounds and seeing what preparations were under way. I was amazed at the expense that was being undertaken, and thought to myself, then, as I still think, how much better is this way of expending than for war. How much better if those in Europe were doing likewise, instead of battling among themselves, destroying lives, homes and happiness.
I trust, my dear sir, that you, and all the people, are coming more and more to realize the fact that God has a great destiny, not merely for California, not merely for the United States, but that He is working out a great destiny for the whole world. We are glad today to recognize this great Fair, this great Exposition, with the wonderful manifestation it gives of intelligence and of thought, of skill and learning, of the use of time and talent for the service of humanity. We rejoice in all of this, not only for the good it may do here and now, and that it is doing to all of the people who visit this Exposition, but we rejoice in it in another sense. From our viewpoint it is one of the evidences that we are living in the dawning of a new dispensation. From our viewpoint as Bible Students the great day of God’s blessing, which is to last a thousand years, began in the autumn of 1874. We are not laying down these figures in any determined way, but merely, as before suggested, stating that we believe from that time the world has been entering upon a new dispensation, which is to be the most wonderful, the most peculiar ever thought of by human mind. That is the period the Bible refers to as the "Day of Christ," It is the time of Messiah’s Kingdom. We are not of those who expect the world to be burned up. Rather, we are of those who understand the teaching of the Bible to be that the world is about to enter upon this period of great blessing. It has been under the curse for 6,000 years, according to the Bible, but according to same Bible we understand the earth is to pass from under the curse during this period of blessing.
We recognize the fact that these great international expositions have been coming on since the opening of this new era. I had the pleasure of being at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. I thought it was a wonderful fair, and remember wondering if it could ever be surpassed. I have been at all of the great Expositions since, in this, and some in foreign lands, and have seen increasing evidence of skill. I have noted from the various Expositions as they follow one another, the grand progress that the world has made. All of these wonderful things belonging to our day indicate that we are in the dawning time of the great millennial kingdom. Although there is, as the speaker said, a dark cloud hovering over a part of the world, the Bible indicates that this is to be the last time of trouble—a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, and Jesus said "No, nor ever shall be," indicating this will be the great, final trouble. After this great trouble shall come Messiah’s Kingdom, ruling over all the earth. This is intimated in the prayer Christ taught his disciples to pray, saying "Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
We are not expecting this to come in any very sudden way, but gradually, grandly, steadily. The grand climax of blessing is to be not merely for Bible Students, but God has wonderful things in store for all of mankind; for all the families of the earth. We rejoice that He has not merely blessings for the church, but that there are everlasting blessings for all of humanity who during the time of Messiah’s reign shall be willing to cooperate to their own uplift to a better relationship to God; to a better understanding of the Bible, the Word of God; to a better understanding of themselves, and how to get out of their degradation, and meanness, and selfishness into a condition of freedom from sin, and all of its entailments. Through sin, Father Adam forfeited his relationship to God, and lost gradually the grand blessings he had enjoyed while obedient to the heavenly Father, his Creator. Because Jesus gave His life as a ransom price for Adam and his race, it will be their privilege during His reign to regain the blessings lost through sin. It is now possible, we believe, for those who are willing to become footstep followers of Jesus to receive God’s blessings in a still larger measure, in that they may thus be fitted for association with Him in bestowing the intended blessings upon the world later.
On behalf of the Bible Students now assembled, and those they represent in all parts of the world, I thank you for your kind courtesy. (3)
COLPORTEUR ADDRESSESPARTICIPATED IN BY THREE BRETHREN
OPENING REMARKS BY BRO. E. F. CRIST.
(From 1915 Convention Report, Supplement, starting on page 117.)
We will endeavor to make our remarks such as may be of assistance, not only to colporteurs, "would-be’s," "has-beens" and volunteers, but also to those who are candidates for membership among those colporteurs who shall in due time carry the message of love to all of the families of the earth.
A proper appreciation of the beauty and harmony of the message we bear; and of the importance and dignity of our work as harvest laborers, will do much toward stimulating zeal and giving necessary impetus for carrying on our work successfully and effectively. With this thought in mind, let us notice the reading of Jas. 5:7, "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he received the early and latter rain.
In the Scriptural account of creation, we are told that the earth brought forth grass, and the trees of various kinds. It also brought forth cattle and creeping things, including beasts of all kinds. Of all that the earth produced, man was the crowning fruitage, having been made from the dust of the earth. We might correctly say that the man was THE FRUIT, in that he was superior to all else that the earth produced. That perfect fruit was stung by the serpent of sin. The virus there injected not only brought death to its first victim, but all the progeny down to the present time have suffered therefrom. We see no perfect fruit, no perfect man. God has been waiting for many centuries for THE PRECIOUS FRUIT OF THE EARTH, until He receive the early and latter (FRUIT, or HARVEST). From a suggestion from the Pastor we are helped to see that God waits not to receive some rain, but we know that He has patiently waited for an early and latter harvest. The word "rain" does not appear in the Vatican Mss., and the appropriateness of omitting it will be apparent to Bible students. God is looking forward to having this earth filled with a perfect FRUIT, NAMELY, a perfect race. As a means to that end He is now gathering out a still more precious fruit, for which He has been waiting 1800 years. It becomes our precious privilege to co-labor with Him in gathering out this most precious fruit, as colporteurs, as volunteers, or in some other capacity. When we have faithfully performed our little part in this feature of the fruit gathering, we may also participate in the ingathering of that multitudinous crop that will include all mankind who are willing to be made perfect. For this grand consummation, God has waited patiently 6,000 years. May the thought that we may be associated with Him in carrying out this purpose fill our hearts with joyful anticipation; may it move us to earnest, persevering effort to that end. "Let us be patient brethren."
We remember how Pharaoh, King of Egypt, placed Joseph in authority at his right hand, and during the seven years of plenty he gathered together the wheat that was to be used later as a means for saving the lives of all Egyptians. Doubtless people scoffed at his prediction of a great time of trouble (a famine); we may readily suppose they said, "How foolish to spend time in gathering up wheat—how much better it would be if he would engage in some reform work." Joseph persevered, knowing what the result would be, according to God’s word. What must have been his delight when later he could save the lives of these very ones who had looked with scorn upon his course.
Since we understand that Joseph was a type of Christ, the seven years of ingathering may well picture to us the entire harvest period, seven being suggestive of completeness. At any rate we know the Lord has been gathering the wheat (figurative wheat) during that time. He has raised the dead wheat (saints) and is now assembling the other grains, we believe, as one after another dies. This better wheat will be used for giving life to man kind as the antitypical Egyptians during the coming age. In the realization that we are spending time and energy in helping to gather this better wheat, may we not receive with equanimity the scoffings of our fellows who see not the glorious end to be thus made possible? What matter if they do say, "How foolish to spend time in such work; it would be better to do some slum work, or social reform work." Soon, if we faithfully perform the little part allotted to us in the wheat-gathering process, it will be our privilege to give life to these very ones who have misunderstood us. Truly, that will be sweet revenge. Surely we may take encouragement from this.
We read in Ephesians 6 about having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. To have one’s feet shod would suggest putting on shoes. With good shoes, having think soles, we would walk over sharp stones, or among thorns and briers, without inconvenience, or pain. However, the shoes would be of little assistance except they be worn. Would not the lesson be that we have in the Scriptures the Gospel of Peace. It is God’s purpose to give to mankind, peace universal and eternal, but there’s a special, prescribed way by which this is to be accomplished. A class is to be developed in gentleness, patience, humility, and love by passing through much difficulty and tribulation. "Through much tribulation shall ye enter the kingdom." If we have a proper grasp of this gospel of peace, so that we realize every disappointment, every conflict, every affliction, every rebuff, every opposition, every unkindness, received from others is most surely working out for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; that they are all necessary to fit us for giving peace to the world by and by, then that knowledge will protect us from feeling hurt of such experiences as thick soles would keep us from being hurt by the stones or briers. The knowledge must be so applied as to keep us from being hurt under such circumstances, otherwise it would afford us as little aid as shoes that were carried in the hand. Are we wearing these shoes? Are they protecting us so we can go unhurt over the rough places? If not, why not? Let the realization that we may help others to have such a valuable protection, spur us on to diligent effort in the work, while we seek to appreciate deeply the privilege of wearing the blessed shoes of the preparation of the gospel of peace.
The speakers have mentioned many precious promises. We wish to give a little illustration that may help to make these promises more real and effective to colporteurs and others. You have read of Sir Robert Bruce. When he was spending himself for the welfare of his country, there came a time when he had suffered defeat, he was forsaken by all and fled alone for his life. He came finally, in an exhausted condition, to the mouth of a cave, which he entered. He lay down to rest. There seemed to be little hope for him. As he looked toward the small opening through which he had entered, he saw a spider begin to weave its web. He watched with interest until the little insect had woven a network that completely spanned the opening. Soon he heard voices, and footsteps approaching the cave. At the opening his pursuers stopped, and one said, "I wonder if he may have taken refuge in there?" Another responded, "No; do you not see that spider’s web across the mouth of the cave? If he had gone in there he would have broken down the web. There is no use looking for him there. Let us hurry on." Sir Robert Bruce was saved by a spider’s web, frail and insignificant though it appears to be.
The web may appropriately illustrate to us God’s promises. When purchased by the adversary, if we have a web of these promises covering us he will say, "No use trying to get him; see how he is protected by these promises." While the promises may seem to some to be as inadequate to afford protection as the spider’s web, yet to those who place implicit confidence therein they afford absolute security. There can be no invasion by any foe. Let us see to it that we do not permit this web to be torn down, for therein lies our safety. "God is faithful who hath called you, who will also do it." Whatever He has called us to do He will also provide strength to perform , if we seek it in the proper way. "The God of all grace, who hath called you unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you."
FURTHER REMARKS BY BRO. O. MAGNUSON
I am so glad to see so many interested in the colporteur work. It has been my privilege for ten years to be engaged in that branch of the service. No portion of my life has been so much blessed as those ten years. It is a most wonderful way to show to the Lord that we love Him more than houses, lands, friends, or anything in the world.
Many years ago two colporteurs came to my home in Chicago. They were the first I had seen, and I never forgot them. We had the privilege of entertaining them for a year. They suggested that we go into the colporteur work. We said, "It is out of the question." But we prayed about it. We had a little girl about four years old, and we thought we must do the proper thing for her, so we were tied down to a certain extent. I was working for the Pullman Company. The Lord so blessed my efforts among the men there that we were able to leave about 150 volumes in the shop. I said, "That is no real evidence that you can do colporteur work, because you are dealing with friends and acquaintances; it will be a different matter when you go from door to door where no one knows you." Bro. Greig said to me, "You haven’t much to do; why not go out with me and try the work?" My spirit was willing, but my flesh was weak. I said, "I will try." I remember very keenly the first call I made. I knocked at the door, and while I waited, I hoped that no one was at home. When I heard footsteps coming toward the door my heart went pit-a-pat. A lady opened the door, and I stumbled along trying to tell her about the books. I soon saw the necessity of having a method. The Society did not send out a method at that time. I made a botch of it, but managed to sell her some books, When I left her I thought, "what was the trouble with you anyway? Were you afraid of that woman? No. Are you ashamed of the message? No. What is the trouble? I do not know." Then I began to think of my wonderful privilege of carrying from door to door the message of great joy—something the angels may not do. After trying this work for a week I wrote Bro. Russell, telling him how we Were situated, and asking his advice. I said, "My heart is in the colporteur work, but I do not know whether it would be proper for me to enter the work." He wrote back, "Enter the colporteur work, and, if necessary, leave the little girl with friends for a week, or a month, at a time. I feel sure the Lord will be pleased to have you do so."
I took Bro. Russell’s advice, and we began to sell out the furniture. Someone asked the little girl, "What are they doing at your home?" She said, "They are smashing the house and going into the ‘culture’ work." Truly, it is culture work. We want to be developed for a great future work. We burned all the bridges, and we never regretted it. The friends in Chicago were concerned about the step we had taken, not knowing we had well considered the matter. They said, "Brother Magnuson, we admire your zeal, but you should not have sold your goods." I said, "We have considered the matter, and we are taking Brother Russell’s advice." Every Sunday they would say, "How are you getting along, brother?" We told how the Lord was blessing us. After a month or six weeks they concluded that it was the Lord’s will that we should go into the colporteur work.
In order to be successful you must have faith in your work, and be enthused with it. I met a brother who said he could not do colporteur work because he could not see chronology as Bro. Russell does. He would make a failure in the work. We must have faith in the message we are carrying. There must be an entire consecration to the Lord of our time, our means, our talents, and everything. It has been said, "there is money in the colporteur work." I believe there is, for I know I put about $500.00 into the work, and it is still there. Anybody is welcome to it if they can get it out. "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal." It is necessary to have zeal, or we will not sell any books. There must be faith, consecration, and a loving zeal prompted by right motives. One brother told how he planned to sell so many books a day to establish a record as a colporteur. No doubt the Lord blessed his efforts somewhat in spreading the truth to a large extent. He says that he has found out now that one book sold where it gives the buyer the truth is better than a hundred sold elsewhere.
We believe the Lord is directing the harvest work. There was a time when we almost had to perform sleight-of-hand to keep the people from learning that we had Millennial Dawn. We used to put our finger over the words, "Millennial Dawn." We were deceivers, and yet true. I want to tell you a little incident right along this line, showing how Bro. Dr. Moe, of Chicago got the Scripture Studies, and became interested in the truth. He had no use for Dr. Jones’ religion. Bro. Jones said, "If possible I would like to have you get a set of books into the hands of Dr. Moe. I believe he is a consecrated child of God." I said, "If the Lord wants a set of books there, I have no objection. You pray for me." He lived on Washington Boulevard—a fashionable section. When I saw the place, I thought, "If I ever get the truth in there I will have to take it in the back door." I went to the back door, where I thought I would meet the wife, or perhaps a servant. He came to the door. His wife was standing at the stove stirring in a kettle. I got through my introduction and started to talk to him. While trying to press the canvass his wife said, "You don’t want those books; you have more books now than you need." I thought, "as long as she is standing there I can never sell him the books." The door bell rang. He made no move, and she had to go and answer the front door bell. I offered a silent prayer to the Lord that He might assist me to do His will. She was gone long enough for me to complete the sale. Knowing that they were prejudiced against Dr. Jones’ religion, I thought best to take the books to them right away. I took them after dinner. His wife said, "He didn’t order them did he?" I said, "Yes, he knew a good thing when he saw it." She took the books.
A few days later, a friend called, and seeing the books lying on the table said, "Why that is Dr. Jones’ religion; are you reading that?" Dr. Moe said, "If that is Dr. Jones’ religion it is all right; I have entirely misunderstood his religion." The result was, after a little his wife came in-to the truth, also a servant girl. This friend also came into the truth, and wanted a set of the books. Dr. Moe said, "You go and get them from Dr. Jones." The friend had been living near Dr. Jones for years. It was a little hard, but brought its reward. The Lord is directing the harvest work, and we are glad it is so.
Of course we will not sell books at every door. Sometimes we will meet a reception such as my wife once had. A lady whom she was trying to interest said, "I have my God, and my church, and I do not want your books." My wife said, "Who is your God?" She replied, "the god of this world." My wife agreed with her. I once said to a lady, "We are calling on the Christian people of your section; are you Protestant or Catholic?" She said, "And what is that to you?" I said, "It is true that is not my business, but the Bible Society has requested me to bring to the attention of the people here a wonderful method of Bible study, and I do not want td pass any by. I feel sure you will be interested in this if you will look into it." In this way I overcame her resentment.
Never take the first no as an answer. When a lady begins to hesitate, and says, "I don’t know whether I want those books or not," that is a sale. The old saying is, "To hesitate increases the power of temptation." That is the time you want to give some good licks to get the books in. You will surely succeed.
Now a few words about delivering. I remember one instance where I had sold a set of books to a Lutheran minister, and when I came to deliver them there was a house full of ministers in conference. I thought, "If I get the books in here the Lord will have to help me." He was sociable, and introduced me to the ministers. I told them how I appreciated anyone who was serving the Lord, etc. After it was all over I said, "Here are your books all wrapped up; my train is soon to leave." He took the books and thanked me. The Lord is able to help us.
I want to say, if you have the opportunity to enter into the colporteur work, by all means do it. It is the most wonderful work you can get into. "He that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal."
REMARKS BY BROTHER GOODWIN
I am very glad to have any share in the great harvest work, but I am especially glad to have a share in the colporteur department of that work. It , has been my blessed privilege to be in line with the great harvest work for many years. My attention was directed to these things by "Food For Thinking Christians," which was published as a forerunner for the Scripture Studies. I have followed the development of the work with great interest, from that day to this. Great and momentous events have taken place within that time. The great prophetic days of the Lord, with which we are familiar—1874, 1878, 1881 and 1914 have all come and gone, but the great events that they marked the fulfillment of remain. I have received many blessings since I came to this convention. I have been repaid a hundred fold, and I want to mention particularly one thing that was presented from the platform that specially impressed me. That was the lesson from the type of Elijah, in connection with the glorification of the last members of the church. History has recorded the fulfillment of prophecy, but the worldly historians know it not.
The year 1914 did witness the close of Gentile Times. Who would ask for any better evidence of the end of the wonderful time in which we are living? The explanation of this type brought out so clearly that when the last members of the church are taken it will be a surprise to them, although they are expecting it. The harvest work has been growing more interesting as time goes on, and I believe the opportunities have increased with the opposition. We have never had greater fruits than now. I think I can best illustrate the importance of taking advantage of our opportunities by a brief legend.
There was a statue in one of the ancient cities of Greece. A passing traveler addressed it in the following words; "Oh, statue, what is thy name?" "My name is Opportunity." "Why art thou made standing on thy toe?" "Because I can stay but a moment." "And why art thou made with the lock on thy forehead so long?" "That men may seize me as I pass by." "Why is the back of thy head so bald?" "That when I am passed men can never grasp me." How highly important that we improve these golden opportunities as they pass. We are nearing the end of the harvest day; the night cometh when no man can see to work. It was my privilege to be brought up on a farm, and I know something about harvest work. I remember that we used to rest a little during the heat of the day, and then in the cool of the day we would work hard again. When night came we would quit working, because we could not see to work. It seems to me we can see the night time settling down on certain portions of the world. While we know not how soon, yet we believe that very soon it will settle down on this land, as it has in other lands, so that no one can see to work.
It is not my intention to say much with reference to methods. I believe there are as many successful methods, or canvasses, as there are successful colporteurs. It is true we all begin with the excellent method placed in our hands by the Society, but as we proceed with the work, we change. The method used prior to 1914 would not be so successful today. I have changed my method greatly. We now have opportunity to call the attention of the people to the great Battle of Armageddon, in which all are interested at the present time. It is our privilege to tell them how these things breaking upon the world are in fulfillment of prophecy. We have the privilege and opportunity of reaching the ears of the people at the present time as we have never had before.
I want to tell you of a matter which I stumbled into. There is no credit to me. Rather, it reflected against me. I started out to work, and after a time I found I did not have my first volume with me, but I did have the prospectus. It had been my custom to carry the first volume. While at first I felt lost, I found later that this was one of the "all things that work together for good," in my case. I am not saying that other colporteurs should follow this method of working with the prospectus only, but it helped and if any can derive benefit from it you are welcome. I do not want the first volume. Even the prospectus takes too much time. The shorter the canvass the better, if the right things are said. When the iron is hot is the best time to strike. If you do not strike then you must heat it up again, and the chances are that you may lose the sale. It is not the number of books we sell, as one of the brethren has said, that determines our success. We might fill the world with books, and if we did not have the spirit of devotion and love for the Master; if we did not develop the Christlike character, our work would be far from a success. Our success is measured by the manifestation of the spirit of love and devotion to the Heavenly Father, which rises before Him as sweet incense, through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I wish to mention some of the other opportunities that we have as colporteurs, and other who are otherwise engaged in the harvest work, may also take part in this way. It is in organizing classes where there are none. Also in helping to build up classes, where there are such, and thus we build up ourselves. As we come in close touch with the people, we are enabled to locate those who have a special interest in Bible study, and in this way we can be a help. Another opportunity we have is to help arouse prejudiced persons who are still in Babylon. I remember one case which I will mention. We called attention to the Berean Study in the third volume on Babylon. It aroused her interest. She said, "If I believed that the nominal system is Babylon, I would not let any grass grow under my feet in getting out." She went to the Bible, and with the aid of the Bible Helps she satisfied herself that the great system there described is the Babylonism nominal church system. She got out of Babylon. I am glad to say that this sister is present at this convention. It is her first convention of this kind.
In closing I wish to refer to one other experience which I think may be of special interest to you. One evening I called to see a party who is somewhat of a Bible student, although he is in Babylon. He has an honest heart, and understands God’s Word as well as we could expect one to understand who has not the valuable Helps that we have in our possession. When I began to’ speak to him in regard to Scripture Studies, he said, "I don’t want them; I know enough about Pastor Russell." I said, "What do you know about Pastor Russell?" "Well so and so—." I asked, "Did he tell you; have you read any of his writings, or do you know just what you have read in some pamphlet written against him?" He acknowledged that such was the case. I said to him, "Brother, I would like you to take these books and see for yourself." "He said, "I did not go to hear Pastor Russell when he was in Providence but some who heard him said that he knocked hell out of the Bible." I said, "Brother, doubtless they meant to report the matter correctly, but Pastor Russell believes in hell." "Why," he said, "Is that true?" "Yes, but he does not believe in eternal torment." He said, "It is plain to me from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus that there is a hell of torment." I said, "You will agree that it is a parable, or it is not. It is all literal or it is not. It will not do to mix the figurative and the literal." He agreed. I gave him Pastor Russell’s explanation of the parable. He said to his wife, "I have never heard anything like that before. I have heard many explanations of it, but never anything like that." I had given him the explanation of one of the greatest Bible Students of the age.
We would say, dear friends, to those who are able to enter the colporteur work, it is a great opportunity. The colporteur work does not need you, but you need the colporteur work.
THE USES OF ADVERSITY-F. H. Robison(Discourse by F. H. Robison, recorded on page 71 of the 1915 Convention Report.)
Text—"It is good for me that I have been afflicted." Psalm 119:71.
Introduction and Generalities:
The Master said: "It needs be that offences must come", (Mt 18:7) and experience has her own confirmatory word. Someone has said: "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; Adversity is the blessing of the New." Certain it is that the New Testament writings are full of references to the sufferings of Christ’s followers, and even of himself it is written that "he learned obedience by the things which he suffered," and "he was made perfect through suffering. In fact the whole tenor of the New Testament inculcates the principle of resignation under adverse conditions, and more. For the follower of Jesus Christ must not be merely a passive sufferer but a strenuous and persevering combatant against opposing forces.
Troubles and afflictions are intended under the dispensation of Divine grace to bring out the deeper capacities of the heart. Experiences which are calculated to deaden the callused mind will develop consecration, richness and devotion in the thoughtful.
One time we had a summer hail-storm which beat on the flowers and foliage. A bed of nasturtiums which grew near the door suffered most. When the door was opened the air was full of sweetness from the crushed and mangled vines. They were returning good for evil in the misfortune that had come upon them. For every wound that the hail had made they were giving out the fragrance of a beautiful spirit. Though bruised and broken they were filling the whole atmosphere with an aroma which was in pleasing contrast to the adverse rain of hail. Blest is that life which can yield its sweetest fragrance when the storms are at their highest. we have all known men and women who when lacerated with pain, prostrate under the hands of God, have made their very atmosphere redolent with the incense of Christian hope and trust.
When we reflect on the conditions of discipleship laid down by our Lord we need not be surprised if certain adverse or unpleasant things be our portion. He said: "If any man will be my disciple, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me." The very first step of the way is thus seen to be a self-imposed adversity against ourselves, and the narrow way never grows broad and easy. The Apostle Paul, who himself suffered so much of opposition, was comforting instead of discouraging the early church when he told them: "We must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." A Christian without trouble is like a ship that has never weathered a storm; evidences of her sea-worthiness is lacking. It has not been demonstrated just how much ballast would be necessary to steady her.
Adversity from various sources:
The adversity, opposition, hindrance or resistance brought to bear against our Christian progress derives from five main sources: The Devil, the World, the Flesh, the Brethren, and God.
Of the Devil:
That from the Devil is calculated to be antagonistic in purpose and effect; opposite, hostile and inimical to our best interests. The Apostle Peter describes him in these words: "Your Adversary, the Devil, goeth about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour; whom resist, steadfast in the faith" His resistance to our Christian walk is to be met with a still stronger resistance on our part, and that not in our own strength and power, but by the power of faith, inspired and instructed by God’s word.
His method of opposing does not always consist in an endeavor to directly hinder our progress; but since he is a deceiver, he attempts to cause delay by getting us interested in various other schemes and subjects than that most vital to us. Again he is referred to as the "Accuser of the brethren". False accusations made against the brethren tend to hinder them by arousing their sense of justice. They are obliged to spend time and energy in resisting the desire to recompense the allegation, instead of committing their cause to him who judgeth righteously. We may safely assume that since God has seen fit to allow us to be confronted with opposition from so malignant and crafty a foe He sees some good in it for us, and just that good it is which we wish to experience.
Again Satan’s antagonism drives us to closer fellowship with God for we realize that the devil is wiser and stronger than we. But abiding under the shadow of the Almighty we can say: "If God be for us, who can be against us?" So even Satan who so persistently dogs the steps of the toiling saint, may be a means to a noble end, if we are rightly exercised thereby.
Opposition from the World:
The resistance which the world offers to our progress is from a twofold quarter—from the secular world or from the religious world. The opposition from the world in a general sense consists in its being or acting in a contrary direction, opposed or opposing in position or course.
From the Secular World:
From the secular wing of the world comes a passive opposition, as that of a fixed body which interrupts the passage of a moving body. The world has its ideas and ideals of life and these are said by the Scriptures to lie "in the wicked one." That is Satan, the wicked one, rules in the hearts of man by pampering to and nourishing the spirit of selfishness. This spirit of self and the ideals and institutions it has gendered are all firmly set and established in both the mind and heart of the world. When the Lord’s people, therefore, travel in an opposite direction they but naturally encounter the inertia represented in the world.
When we are criticized we are to seek to ascertain to what extent we are really at fault and if we are convinced that it is not our fault then just what lessons God would have us learn in connection with our difficulties with the world. The hauteur and supercilious attitude of the secular world ripens humility and submissiveness in us and helps us to look not at the things that are seen, but at the things that are eternal.
From the Religious Quarter:
Strange as it may seem, from the religious quarter of the world comes a more actively adverse influence. It is active, as in the exertion of force to stop, repel or defeat progress or design. Concerning this adversity the Master said: "Marvel not if the world hate you; ye know that it hated me before it hated you. Ye are not of the world, even as I am not of the world: if ye were of the world the world would love its own, but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you." It was the Jewish religious world which was especially set against the work of the Master. The Romans and Greeks cared little one way or the other.
But though opposition be our portion from the religious world; though the "sun of persecution ariseth;" (Mr 14:17) though "bonds and afflictions" await us; (Ac 20:23) though we be sent forth "as sheep among wolves"; though "all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution"; (2Ti 3:12) still we learn by that very method God’s protecting care and know that underneath are the everlasting arms. "Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me." (Ps 138:7). May it not be true in our case as with the Israelites of old! "The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew."
Ornithologists assure us that the eagle, the condor of the Andes, the Albatross of the Pacific, and even the swiftly flying little dove, like many other birds that are strong on the wing, can fly more swiftly against the wind than in a gentle breeze. It may be that this is because they are stimulated to exert the muscular strength of their pinions. But, however this may be, it is a fact that the fires of a steamship burn much more fiercely under the boilers when the vessel is going against a head-wind. The Christian’s effort of the right kind is at its best when opposition is faced, for this very condition brings us into contact with the Divine resources which are pledged to the help of the Lord’s people. "Woe to you when all men speak well of you."
From the flesh:
The resistance which the flesh offers is in the shape of opposing desires, which are contrary to the wishes or to the good of the new creature. "The flesh lusteth against the spirit and the spirit against the flesh; and these two are contrary to one to the other." Through circumstances affecting the flesh we are at times "cast down, but not destroyed." But such disheartened feeling which arises as likely as not from an insufficient nervous vitality is not without its uses. We are not likely to be proud or unsympathetic while in that condition. And as the Apostle says: "I take pleasure in infirmities, for when I am weak then am I strong." Trust and submission are learned in a degree otherwise impossible.
Brunts from the brethren:
Yes, our closest friends and associates sometimes hinder us and the courage necessary to oppose these influences is greater than that required against outside forces in that one’s own feelings and the feelings of those held dear are involved. Nor does such action often if ever call forth praise from any one. Even our Master said to Peter: "Thou art an offence unto me, for thou savorest not of the things that be of God, but those that be of men." (Mt 16:23)
We are admonished lest "any root of bitterness springing up trouble us and many be defiled." There must therefore be some way for us to draw benefit from those things which tend of themselves to engender roots of bitterness.
In the first place we may learn humility of an extremely rare quality when we try to make something right and our motives are misunderstood. We go to a brother or sister with whom we have had words and wish to apologize for our part and they are thereby only confirmed in their belief that we were wholly wrong and they were wholly right. Otherwise why should we be coming there to explain anything if we did not now see that they were right. The rebuff to our noble aims thus gained with pretty surely burn out anything of pride that might have been left.
If the brethren speak evil of us (and they sometimes do) we can learn all those qualities which we do not see manifested in such conduct—large-heartedness; benefit of the doubt; is it true? is it necessary? does it minister grace unto the hearer? From the brethren we learn the futility of looking to one another’s faults to grow better. "Comparing ourselves with ourselves we are not wise." No, it is not by looking, even with sympathetic eye, at the weaknesses of our brethren that we are changed from glory to glory but rather "by beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord."
Well then, if offences are of such good to the Lord’s people why not turn in and cause others all the difficulties we can. But no: "it needs be that offences must come, but woe be to that man by whom the offence cometh." Not however a woe from us; it is not our affair to recompense evil with evil or hindrance with hindrance. The woes or difficulties upon those who offend us, as well as upon us if we offend others to their injury, will come from the Lord who can judge and recompense wiser than we know how.
Chastisement from God:
How rich a dowry sorrow gives the soul! God, the great husbandman, sees sometimes best to plow the soil of our hearts with trouble that he may plant the seeds of a richer harvest in the fruits of the holy spirit.
The floods which cover the upper Nile valley in Springtime are welcomed by the natives as affording them the opportunity to sow their seed and to have the soil renewed by moisture and by silt, so that a good crop is possible. The waters of affliction at times overflow on us and one seems to be overwhelmed; the heart is borne down by the flood, all her fruitful land is covered by the waters—waters of desolation, bereavement, affliction. The heart cries: "I am overwhelmed, undone; my life is all wrong; I shall never smile again." But nay. The flood which terrifies us may only wash away the impurity of the life, giving fertility; the fruits of love, patience, charity shall grow now; it is not a flood of desolation, but of blessing and fruitfulness. "Ye received the word in much affliction." (1Th 1:6)
Of course, in one sense all adversity is from God in that he allows it to transpire; but some is more directly so than others and in some his hand is more than generally seen. The purpose of such difficulty is never to drive us away from him but to draw us nearer by showing us our weak points and our need of his grace and fellowship. "In the world ye shall have tribulation"—" in me ye shall have peace." Even of our Lord it is written, "He was oppressed and he was afflicted.....the Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa 53:7).
When affliction is heavy and no one else seems to fully understand, we may be sure of a full appreciation of our little difficulties by Jehovah God, for it is written: "In all their affliction, he was afflicted." If we incline to think that God does not actually send or arrange for offenses let us read how that Jesus was definitely foretold as being of such a character that he would be an "offense to both the houses of Israel." (1Pe 2:8). Divine wisdom is capable of having arranged such a course for our Redeemer that he could have appeared popular and suave and pleasant to all; but such was not done.
Adversity is the bitter herb with which we eat the message of his grace, lest we become surfeited and vomit forth the whole.
The Master says: "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me; in my father’s house are many mansions." Not, "let not your heart be troubled, for you will have a nice, easy and respectable time in the present life." Rather is the basis for our peace put not in the present but in the future, and this is the word of the Lord through the Prophet Isaiah: "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest and not comforted; behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors and thy foundation with sapphires." (Isa 54:11)
Therefore, "Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us and the years wherein we have seen evil." (Ps 90:15) "O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard; which holdeth our soul in life and suffereth not our feet to be moved. For thou, O God, hast proved us; thou hast tried us as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidest affliction upon our loins. Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place." Only the experienced child of God can say: "I know, O Lord, that thy judgments are right, and that thou in faithfulness hast afflicted me." (Ps 119:75)
Conclusion and comfort:
The Scriptures tell us of a time when there shall be no more pain. the pain shall have done its work; the permission of evil shall have taught its lesson. Even for us the suffering is not long. "The God of all grace, who hath called you unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you." (1Pe 5:10) But if this light affliction, which endureth but a moment, be only instrumental in preparing us to heal poor humanity of its head-aches and body-aches of every kind, is it not worth while?
Now, though it is not within our power to make affliction no affliction, yet it is in our power to take off the edge of it by a steady view of those joys prepared for us in another state. All the philosophizing imaginable will not make hard things easy, will not make adversity pleasurable in itself. But a proper philosophy on the subject, guided by and based upon God’s word, will enable us to avoid despair and enable us in pious suffering to be calm during the trouble and thus minimize as much as possible, and sometimes entirely counteract the deleterious effects thereof. Trouble without the aid of the Holy Spirit, means anything but benefit. "Trouble and anguish shall make him (the wicked) afraid; they shall prevail against him as a king ready to the battle."
"Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?" Yes, Lord, though it be through fire and blood; by thy grace we will. But the natural man is not able to drink the cup and it would be futile to try. The natural man wants his rights and cries loudly at every infringement thereof. If the trial seems of a peculiar nature or seems more intense than we can bear, let us consider whether or not we are trying to meet it in our own strength.
Yes, it is good to be afflicted, for the winds of adversity fan to greater heat and brighter flame the fire of love already kindled there. Affliction proves and tests our earnestness and burns away hypocrisy and shallow-heartedness. What a terrible mass of hypocrisy and self-seeking would have been attracted to the message of the gospel, did not that message at the very start promise self-abnegation. Therefore, "count it all joy" and "think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you." We are forewarned and forearmed more than the worldly, who say: "I shall not be moved, for I shall never be in adversity." (Pr 24:10)
If something seems to be incompatible with our understanding of harmony, perhaps it will be all right when we understand the main theme better and perhaps we cannot understand the main theme better until we have had affliction. If others seem to be having an easier time and to be missing the continuous kaleidoscope of perplexities which are our portion, let us remember that they are being prepared for another place, or have had more time, or are not making so much progress, or are adept in hiding their troubles; for every follower of Jesus must walk the way of him who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
There is a German proverb which says: "Disaster lends to the just a charm, as night a beauty to the stars." Tenderer and purer than a mother’s kiss come the words "Let not your heart be trouble, neither let it be afraid."Joh 23:10.
"He kindles for my profit, purely, Affliction’s glowing fiery brand; For all his heaviest blows are surely Inflicted by a Master hand. And so I whisper, ‘as God will’ And in his hottest fire hold still." From the German of Julius Sturm
CONFIDENT ASSURANCE-R. H. Barber
(Discourse by R. H. Barber, 1915 Convention Report, Supplement, starting on Page 29.)
The general topic of the day is confident assurance, and we wish to keep this thought before our minds in speaking to you this morning. In looking over the program, I wondered which of the topics was of most importance. I could come to no decision. The one we have for today is surely of great importance—CONFIDENT ASSURANCE
What is meant by confident assurance? We understand that to be sure of anything would be to have a belief in it, based upon certain indisputable evidence—that is, evidence that would appeal to the mind as indisputable. It would mean that one would have no doubt in his mind. With respect to the great Divine Plan, it would mean to believe in the Heavenly Father as the God who is good, the God who is love; it would mean to believe that the Bible is His Word, and that its statements are true. Therefore, we could have confident assurance.
This morning I wish to bring to your attention some features of the divine plan, and I will use as a text Isa 30:15: ‘For thus saith the Lord, the Holy One of Israel; in returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength.’ It seems to me that the very essence of confident assurance is expressed in this text. It pictures us all as once wandering away from the Lord; as a ship without a rudder. It tells us that in returning and rest shall we be saved. Here we have the thought of confident assurance in rest. We understand the rest here referred to is not physical rest, although we believe this rest does contribute to physical rest. To our understanding it is the rest referred to in Heb 3. It is the rest of faith. In returning to God, and being filled with a realization of this great plan of salvation, we have been enabled to look forward in confident assurance to the time when that plan will be completed. When sin entered Eden, and seemed to interfere with God’s arrangements, He rested, and He is still resting in confident assurance. You and I have the privilege of entering His rest. In returning and rest shall we be saved. I am reminded of the Psalmist’s words in Ps 37:7, ‘Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him.’ I fear some of us have been waiting a little impatiently. I have had some of the friends tell me that they were very much disappointed that they are not in the kingdom. I tell them the fact that they are disappointed in the matter is positive proof that they were not ready for the kingdom. We want to get to the point where we will say, ‘Thy will be done.’ That is the rest of faith which says, ‘God has not taken us into the kingdom, therefore it must not be the proper time yet. We will wait, in quietness and assurance, God’s due time.’ It seems to me, if we do not feel that way, it would indicate a lack of this full assurance; it would indicate that we are not just ready. Perhaps God saw that we needed a little more time.
‘In quietness and confidence shall be your strength.’ This strength is of a peculiar character. It is in quietness and confidence. If you and I were to pick out those who we feel would stand the tests and trials of the present time, I feel sure we would select some who are strong and robust physically; some who have much of self-reliance, and possibly some of the spirit of boastfulness. We would say, ‘These will stand.’ I have seen some of that character in the past, who are not standing with us at this time. On the contrary, I have seen some timid ones, armed with God’s strength, who after long years are still loyal, and give every indication that they will remain loyal to the end. The Lord can provide the needed strength, and He tells us it will be manifested in quietness and confidence. The Lord is seeking such a class as this, who will conquer in the Lord’s strength, and not in their own. These will not only not be relying on self, but they will be relying on the Lord.
At the same time, they will be courageous. This goes hand in hand with courage. Some of the most courageous characters are those who had not much courage naturally. The Lord will endue with courage to meet the trials if we have dependence upon Him. He will give such strength as He gave to the martyrs of the past. In reading of the experiences of those loyal ones of the past, we were surprised to read of a boy of twelve who went to the stake without a murmur, without a word of protest. It reminds me of the Lord, who was ‘led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.’ We find the record of timid sisters in the past who were burned at the stake, or thrown to the lions, without a murmur or complaint. They were armed with the strength that God supplies. They had confident assurance, not in themselves, but in His grace. They believed that all things would work together for good to them that love God. They held to that promise, ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.’ Having this assurance, we can trust ourselves in His hands; secondly, there could be no complaining or murmuring. I hear many complaining and faultfinding about the Lord’s providences. I fear sometimes that we indulge in this. I think to some extent all of us are prone to do this. If so, we have not reached this condition of full confidence, or reliance upon the Heavenly Father. If we had, there would be none of this.
The Apostle Paul tells in 2Co 12:9, of his own experiences in this connection. You remember he had a physical disability. You and I, too, have physical disabilities of certain kinds. He prayed the Lord that this disability might be removed. I have no idea that this prayer was a selfish one. My thought is not that he wanted to be a more handsome man so that he might present the message in a more forceful and impressive manner, to bring attention to himself. I believe he desired to serve the Lord better, and for this reason he offered this prayer. The Lord gave him a wonderful lesson. He said, ‘Paul, my grace is sufficient for you.’ These humbling experiences that you are having are intended to be for your eternal good. ‘My grace is sufficient; my strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Think of this. The Lord is taking the weak, physically, and some who are weak in other respects—those who are naturally of a shrinking disposition, and He is supplying these with strength. They receive from Him strength, which gives them confident assurance, and they can rely upon the Lord.
‘My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ What an encouragement this should be, if we do not feel that we have much of physical strength, or self-reliance. Many of the friends have little of self-reliance. When the door of opportunity for service opens they shrink back, feeling their own inherent weakness. The Lord can use these gloriously in the carrying out of His purpose, sometimes rebuking those who have more of physical strength, and self-reliance. We have read instances where the Lord strengthened and used such in a wonderful way. It has been strengthening to me to read some of these instances.
God supplies this strength through the word of truth, through providential leadings, and experiences in connection with their own lives. Sometimes I think we fail to take note of the providential experiences as we should. Little things befall us day by day, and they come in such a matter-of-fact way, that we are apt to think they came by chance—that they are simply accidents, whereas the Bible tells us plainly that everything that befalls the Lord’s people is permitted by Him. These experiences are overruled by Him. These experiences are designed of the Lord to work out the good pleasure of His will in our hearts. Sometimes He opens opportunities of service to us, that we may see His hand in the matter, and thus gain confidence and strength, that we may be better armed to do His will in the future.
This is what furnishes us material for testimonials. The reason why
testimonies sometimes drag is that we have failed to note these providences. If we can go through seven days, from one week to another, without having some blessings of experiences to strengthen and encourage us, we had better get down on our knees and ask for grace and wisdom—perception, so we may see His hand in our affairs.
The Lord strengthens us through His Word. The Psalmist says, ‘Jehovah is the strength of my life; of whom should I be afraid?’ I am reminded here of Mt 10:28 in this connection. You remember the Scriptures give us the thought that having been begotten of the spirit the earthly body is simply the residence, the abode, of the new creature. The new creature is the I, and the old fleshly body is counted dead. The Lord says, ‘Fear not them who are able to destroy the body and after that have no more that they can do, but, rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body (the body and the new creature, the life).) We see the force of this. Of whom should we be afraid—those who destroy the body, and after this have no more than they can do? No, fear, rather, Him who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.
In Isa 28:5,6, we have a text referring to the present time, and I think it is specifically applicable to the time just in the future—’In that day shall Jehovah of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty unto the residue of His people, and for a spirit of judgment to him that sitteth in judgment, and for strength to them that turn the battle to the gate.’ It represents the Lord’s people fighting against the foe. Jehovah of hosts shall be their strength.
The prophet in Isa 40:31 says, ‘They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.’ That is why some of us are weak. What does waiting on the Lord mean? Sometimes I think we give this a restricted, very limited meaning. We think it means getting down on our knees twice a day in prayer. We grant that means waiting on the Lord, but we believe it is only a small portion of the waiting on the Lord, though a necessary portion. Waiting on the Lord would mean to give heed to His instructions. It would mean to search the Scriptures. I believe many are failing along this line, and I have noted it particularly during the past twelve months. I remember reading a letter in which it was said that the writer could see no evidence of lack of diligence among the Lord’s people. I must confess that my experience is the opposite. I see a lack of zeal. Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength—those who give heed to His instructions.
The Lord says, ‘Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together.’ Some are neglecting this. Another is, ‘Study to show thyself approved unto God.’ Some are neglecting that. I find some are not keeping up their study of the Volumes. Some have deserted the Volumes, thinking they possibly get misinformation there, hence they are studying the Bible for themselves-what our ancestors have been doing for hundreds of years without getting very much out of it. I believe that the Bible is given to be studied, but I also believe that the Lord has kept much of it hidden until the due time. At the due time He gives us the understanding through His agencies, and we cannot get instruction in any other way. It is best to follow the leadings of the Heavenly Father. We want to take the Bible, and study it with the helps the Lord has given us. That is the way to search the Scriptures.
Some who have lost confidence in the Volumes, and decline to use them further, go direct to the Scriptures, taking such helps as Young’s and Strong’s Concordance, not seeing the nonsense of rejecting the one and taking the other. They repudiate the most important aid, from which we have received the greatest help. All of these helps should be used, so far as they will assist us in understanding the Father’s Word.
If we wish to wait on the Lord it will mean watchfulness, prayerfulness, thoughtfulness. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves together, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching. This is included in waiting on the Lord. ‘They that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.’ If we find that we are losing faith, strength, confidence, full assurance, what does it mean? It is an indication that we are not waiting upon the Lord properly.
In De 33:25 we read, ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’ I think we may properly say this text may be understood to refer to physical strength. If the Lord has some work for us to do, He will grant strength to do it. If you keep yourself in the Love of God He will supply strength in every trial, so you go through it to His honor and glory, and come off a victor. All of this depends upon our fulfilling the instruction given in the Word of Truth. We must wait on the Lord. If we go to the Word, depending on self-confidence, we are not waiting on the Lord. He will not then supply the strength. ‘As thy days, so shall thy strength be.’
The Bible, seemingly, calls attention to the fact that the harvest of the age, the end, would bring the very hardest part of the trial. I think our trials will be more severe than any past trials of faith. I understand that every trial, in the last analysis, simmers down to a trial of faith. The Apostle in 1Pe 4:12,13, says: ‘Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial (there is to be a fiery trial).’ If you have not had any fiery trial, there is such in store for you somewhere. If you murmur, and complain, and find fault, it means that you think it strange that the Lord would treat you in that way, does it not? It indicates that you have not learned your lesson as you should. You have not put the armor on as you should. You have not come to the point where, in quietness and confidence, you have strength. ‘Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you, but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.’ We promised the Lord in our consecration that we would be partakers of His sufferings. Are you able to have part in His baptism? We said we are able. When we complain in any trial, we are not in harmony with this text. ‘Rejoice, that when His glory is revealed ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.’
At the present time our sufferings may not be conducive to physical joy. Sufferings come to us as human beings; not so much as new creatures. The apostle says, ‘Christ suffered in the flesh; arm yourselves also with the same mind.’ If they burn you at the stake, it is the flesh that they burn. When they tell you something that hurts your pride, it is the flesh that is hurt. The tears may roll down your cheeks, the sobs may escape us, the pain may be truly severe, yet the new creature is rejoicing that it is counted worthy to suffer with Christ. We want to rejoice, that when His glory is revealed we may be glad.
In 2Pe 2:1,2 is a text which I think refers quite specifically to our time. The apostle there says, ‘There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.’ He is pointing to our day. Personally I believe it is a little further on. These shall ‘privily bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. Many shall follow their pernicious ways.’ Have we had that experience? Yes, we have had the bringing in of false doctrines, Those who have gone out from us have not been a great number yet. This passage declares that ‘Many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the truth shall be evil spoken of.’ It is evil spoken of now to an extent, but it is by the public principally. This text intimates that some will speak evil of the truth who have gone out of the truth.
In He 10:32,33, we read of some who ‘endured a great fight of afflictions (after they had been illuminated) partly whilst they were made a gazing stock, both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst they became companions of them that were so used.’ I interpreted it in this way: in some of the ecclesias there are some who are not highly educated, some who have lacks of various ways, and reproach may come in that way. However, I believe there is a different thought in this respect. I believe the reproaches will be against our dear pastor. The reproaches will be against him, and they will come upon us because we are associated with him. In our home communities, there is not so much reproach from the world against our religious belief. If I go quietly to your neighborhood and inquire about you, they might say, ‘Oh, he is a good fellow, he is a good man; he pays his debts, he is a good neighbor, and minds his own business, but he has a queer religion.’ The reproach brought against us in that way would not have a serious effect, because the neighbors know of our manner of life. But some of these matters brought against our pastor will be proven, to some extent, and people will say, ‘Are you following such a man?’ It will take some confident assurance about that time. When we cannot defend the character of our pastor, we can say, ‘I do not believe it.’ Then they will sneer at us, and there will be a severe trial. I can not think of one much more severe than that. There will be some who have had the truth, furnishing the evidence for all of this reproach. The world will say, ‘We have it from their own lips,’ as it were; ‘from those who walked with you.’ Such things have occurred in the past, and they may occur in the future. If any one on earth could tell you a story about our pastor, or any one else, among the Lord’s people, and you would believe it, let me tell you that if you had lived 1900 years ago you would have believed the things they told about Jesus. We have found some friends in this condition. I have talked until past midnight to some who have been thinking along this line. Some think everything is going on smoothly. It is in some places, but not everywhere.
Every man’s work shall be made manifest. What kind of work? The faith structure that we are building on the truth. I have found some who had newspaper clippings, and wanted me to swear to them. They had not built up their character on the truth. They had not seen the truth in such a wonderful way. It had not appealed to them that if our dear pastor has been used to bring this truth to us in such a beautiful way, nothing on earth should shake our confidence in him. If we lose confidence in the representatives of the Heavenly Father, we have lost confidence in the Heavenly Father. The day shall declare our work, of what sort it is. ‘Every man’s work shall be made manifest.’ Do not think that you will escape. Judgment has begun at the house of God. He is now sifting out, judging, condemning, eliminating everything not fit for the kingdom.
Ps 91:7 gives us a thought which I cannot think is fulfilled yet—not completely, anyhow. ‘A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand.’ We have interpreted this in the past as being applicable to the nominal systems going into evolution, Christian Science, etc. But it seems to me this comes home to God’s consecrated saints, who are walking with us, and believing the things that we believe possibly. ‘It shall not come nigh thee’—those keeping themselves in the love of God faithfully, Here is a text we should take confidence from. Many see the text, ‘A thousand shall fall,’ and wonder whether we will be among the falling ones. Notice the next verse: ‘It shall not come nigh thee.’ Let us always remember that God has made certain provision whereby we remain His children; whereby everything shall work together for good to us. The provision is, that we keep ourselves in the love of God. Keep your thoughts on Heavenly things, and full of faith. Pay no heed to the distractions of Satan. Pay attention to the truth, as the Father is giving it to us at the present time. Keep girding on the armor.
I think some forget that when we have the knowledge of the truth we may lose it. Consequently they get careless along the lines of study. The knowledge very soon slips away. Some texts may be very familiar to you, yet, after a few weeks or months you cannot quote them. A few years ago in the Pilgrim service, I had several different talks which I gave several times, and in these I used some texts many times. After a time I changed my talks, and to my astonishment, after I had not used them for a few months, I would have to go to my Bible and read them. Our minds are like leaky vessels. We must not think that we have the armor on—we must keep girding it on, and polishing the armor.
In Re 3:10, we have another text to consider ‘Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.’ I think all of the harvest of the age is a time of trial, but I believe it will culminate in a climax a little like we have been looking for and expecting—greater trials. The Bible tells us it is a trial of faith. ‘The trial of your faith, being more precious than that of gold that perisheth.’
Jude 17 and 18 says, ‘But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.’ Notice, these mockers are walking after their own desires, following their own fleshly desires and cravings. I understand this to be a class associated with the church, in the ecclesias. These are self-willed, walking after their own desires. Some seek to domineer in the class, not being willing to submit to the vote of the class, according to order and discipline. Jude describes this class as those who despise rule and dominion. They speak evil of the elders, and they speak evil of the pilgrims, who are also elders at large, and of Brother Russell once in a while. I have heard them say these things. They are despising dominion; speaking evil of dignities. The Apostle has told us that in the last time there would be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts. ‘These be they that separate themselves.’ You know there is some separating going on. On this last trip I learned of some classes who are already divided, and others are dividing. They are sensual, not having the spirit. They had it once, possibly, but now they have lost it. These are following their own ungodly lusts, because they have lost the spirit.
The spirit of love is, primarily, the spirit of union, of oneness. It is interesting to look up the texts on oneness, unity, etc., in the Bible. The apostle speaks of the faithful ones endeavoring to keep the unity of the spirit—that is, they strive to keep it. Some think it means, if there is a little friction between a brother and sister, that they must jump into the breach and right the wrong. Sometimes they work injury. I know of a brother who, living in a neighboring city, visited a class at another place, and he seemed to think he should right all the wrongs he saw there. He stirred up a great deal more of trouble than there was before. The Lord has not even appointed the Pilgrims to do this. I had two or three experiences where I tried to do that. Some think it is their special office as representatives of the Pastor to straighten out difficulties. Our special office is to preach the truth—the divine law. If we can give good advice in a talk, without being personal, that is properly our work. It is not our work as Pilgrims to do what we can to adjust these difficulties; it is not your work either. The best way to keep the unity of the spirit is to keep our own lives and example above reproach, and not be busybodying in other men’s affairs, or in the affairs of other ecclesias.
In 2nd Peter 3: 3 and 4, we read, ‘Knowing this first that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, ‘where is the promise of his coming."This indicates that there will be some who will doubt about the time features. Is any one in our little ecclesias saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming?’ I find that some are very doubtful about certain features of the truth, and consequently they stumble.
In Mal 3:2 we read, ‘Who may abide the day of his coming; and who shall stand when he appeareth?’ There is going to be an experience of testing—fiery trials of faith and courage. The fire will manifest what spirit we are of. Some are murmuring, faultfinding, resenting, being offended at something the brethren do or say, or something the pilgrims or Brother Russell do or say. There are little surmisings, little roots of bitterness, until the Lord sifts them out. The Lord does it. Sometimes you and I have been interested specially in some of these, and have tried to help them back into the truth. I had such an experience.
I went to a brother four times in thirty days, and tried to get him to see the wrong of the course he was taking. Some things of the truth he did not agree with, and he came to disagree more and more. Kindly, and as lovingly as I could, I pointed out the situation to him. He treated me as kindly as he could, but he gave me to understand that I had said some unkind things to him. I said, ‘I have not said an unkind thing, but have merely tried to help you to see the matter rightly. I believe in separating from the class you are losing a blessing. I do not believe you can keep the truth and stay away.’ He said, ‘You are talking unkindly.’ I gave him the thought that the body is to be edified and built up by that which every joint supplieth. We cannot be edified by the class, nor can we edify the class, if we stay away. He said, ‘Brother, I never heard you say anything unkind to me before.’ Almost invariably you will find that you cannot help them. Why? They once had the spirit of oneness, but when they separate themselves, is that oneness? It is the spirit of separation. ‘They went out from us, because they were not of us. If they had been of us they doubtless would have continued with us.’ The Greek is very emphatic. If they had been of us they would not have separated.
How does the Lord supply strength? You are all familiar with the suggestion of the Apostle Paul in Eph., the 6th chapter. It is by putting on the whole armor of God. Notice, beginning at the 10th verse, ‘Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might.’ What is strength? It is the knowledge, the truth, the understanding of God’s plan, that gives confidence, assurance, and strength. It helps to give us courage and persistency. ‘Put on the whole armor of God.’ You girded the armor on a number of years ago, but there is still more to do. As we read from the Pastor and from the Volumes we buckle on the armor the tighter, that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. He has had wiles all through the age, but nothing compared with those that are coming.
In 2nd Thessalonians, speaking of the second coming of the Lord, the apostle describes it as coming with energetic manifestations by Satan, with lies and unrighteousness. He is going to use lies, and deceptions. He is not coming with hoofs, and horns, and a tail, but as an angel of light, specially at this time. We must gird on the whole armor to stand against these wiles of the devil in this evil day. That locates it at the present time. We not only have a great battle against our own flesh and blood; and that of our neighbors, husbands, and wives, etc.; we wrestle not against these only, but against principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of the world (cosmos). We are living in the evil hour. While we must acknowledge that many of the imposing arrangements of the’ present time are good in some respects, we recognize that many of these imposing features are calculated to deceive, if possible, the very elect. A little farther on he has something lined up that he thinks will catch them all. When the federation is completed, and the thing looks so imposing, unless we are thoroughly protected with the armor, some of us will be led away. I have learned of some who have had the truth for many years, who have now gone back to Babylon, and placed their names on its roll. Deceptions are getting strong when they do that. I can see how one might desert the truth and go back to the world, but I cannot understand how they could go back there. Yet, the Scriptures intimate that some may do so. We are striving against the rulers of the darkness of this age. It is a time of darkness, and everything is intended to blind our eyes. Satan would be glad to get us mixed up with moral and other reform movements, and thus blind us to the study of the truth more and more. We are struggling against spiritual wickedness in high places. Satan has some high places; some exalted places. Some of his agents at the present time are cultured, and kindly, and benevolent. The more kindness, and benevolence, and suavity his representatives use, the better will it serve his purpose to deceive. It will tend to make us believe that possibly we have made a mistake in associating ourselves in opposition as we have.
It may appear that our time features did not come to pass. Seemingly we are left stranded, so far as our time features are concerned. Seemingly our work is going down. Have we made a mistake? Here is a little test. There may be an inclination not to be as energetic as in the past—a tendency to help the ruler of this world. Some are being tested along this line, and some are cooperating with the ruler of this present evil world. ‘Wherefore, take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand in this evil day; and having done all, to stand.’
I am impressed with this text at the present time. ‘Having done all.’ My thought was in the past that the harvest work would go on accumulating and increasing, until a grand finale would be reached, and then it would go to smash all at once. It looks now as though the Lord would let it peter out, until we are stranded. ‘Having done all, stand.’ We could not stand a moment if we did not have the armor on. It is not long since seventy went out from the Bible House. I was down south at the time, and some preacher got hold of it almost as soon as I did. He said in the pulpit that Pastor Russell’s friends were deserting him; that his prophecies did not come true, and therefore his friends would no longer furnish him money; they would not ‘feather his next longer.’ Suppose this sort of thing continues until there is no money to put out the Truth? What a test it would be. To simply stand, may be one of the final tests, for aught I know. (Do not say, Brother Barber said it would be so. It may be.) Just keep in mind that you could not stand a moment if you did not have on the whole armor.
Now, one or two thoughts in conclusion. Some of the friends are losing their confident assurance, it seems to me. I just want to show how this manifests itself. My travels in the last six months have taken me through a number places where they have had the truth many years. Some who have been active in the classes, and some elders, I find, have moved two or three hundred miles away and gone in debt to buy farms. They are going so far away that they cannot maintain their fellowship with the friends. In some cases the class do not even hear from them. What does it mean? It looks to me as though they lack confidence. It looks as if they are ashamed of the Gospel which they once believed.
Some are stumbled because some prominent brother whom they loved, and upon whom they had built their faith, to some extent, has dropped out. What does it mean? They have not confident assurance. Confident assurance is built upon the truth—not on a brother.
Some are getting careless and indifferent respecting the Studies, respecting tract distribution, and attending the various meetings. It was very noticeable in connection with my last two trips, particularly the announcements for the public meetings. While we had quite a few public meetings, at only one place on our last trip did we have a well advertised public meeting. In some places they put up a little notice in the post office, with a little notice an inch and a half long in the newspaper. Then they complained because they could not get anybody out. They think the door is shut. At one place, I found they had secured the court house for a meeting at eight o’clock. I went down to the post office, and found they had expected to invite the people to the meeting that evening when they came to get their mail. The mail did not get in until 8:30. I made inquiries and learned that they had advertised in a good way formerly, but they found that not many came out, so they had dropped down to advertising in this way. It means loss of confidence.
Others get offended at the brethren, and stumble. They are looking at the flesh of the brethren, instead of viewing them as new creatures. Bro. R—d called attention to this matter of getting offended, and demanding apologies.
Then evil speaking, and evil surmising must be guarded against. We should not listen to evil speaking. The pilgrims have more of that to contend with than anyone else on earth. People think they should listen to all of their troubles, and so they come with reports about this and that. One came to me with Dr. Ross’s pamphlet making an attack on Bro. Russell and the truth, and wanted me to explain. Others came with other matters like this. Some are offended at Bro. Russell’s teachings, and others are offended at the pilgrims. Satan has got in some false advertising in some way. I found a place where they take no part in tract distribution. I said to the brother, ‘If you believe the Society would give sanction to anything that is wrong, or if you think Bro. Russell would, or the pilgrims, the sooner you get out the better.’ We should have more confidence in one another. Inasmuch as you did this to another whom you are finding fault with, you did it unto the Lord Jesus.
Some are offended because they were not taken into the kingdom last October. They did not have enough confident assurance. We read in Ps 119:165, ‘Great peace have they who love thy law, and nothing shall offend them-’NOTHING shall offend them. In Mt 26:31, Jesus said, ‘All ye shall be offended because of Me this night.’ Suppose there should be another similar experience just ahead of us, where all shall be offended because of our dear pastor, or something else? All this, we think, indicates a lack of confident assurance. The proper thing for us to do is to gird on the armor.
Let us give more diligence in the matter of study in attending the meetings, in loyalty to the brethren, in loyalty to class work, and in loving the Lord and one another. Let us remember that the way to do this is to study, and to endeavor to preserve the unity of the spirit in the bonds of peace. Thus may we be able to stand faithful in the trials which the Lord may see fit to send upon us in the future. May the Lord bless us all.