WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE CHASTENS
MY DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
As is expressed by so many dear friends writing you, we hesitate to intrude upon your consecrated time. We regret that too often during the past fourteen years we have needlessly done so. We now pray that God shall overrule all our mistakes for the good of His cause and our own spiritual advancement.
We are now perplexed over some matters concerning what we should do in the Harvest work, and after praying over the matter, feel directed of the Lord to lay it before you, and abide by what you think best. We will try to be brief.
(1) Reading and accepting Present Truth in 1902, I was very zealous for about one year to hand out tracts and tell the "good tidings." Finding that the people generally did not care to hear it and having a growing family to support, I lost my zeal, became interested in worldly affairs, with the result that after a season of measurable prosperity in which I failed, painfully, to contribute to God's cause as I should, I found myself a bankrupt and in debt in 1912. I accepted the chastisement as of the Lord, returned to my "first love," and was not rejected (what wonderful mercy!), putting my trust in Him for temporal welfare as well as spiritual. He has guided and guarded our interests to the extent that we have been able to provide things needful in an honorable way (farming). Our family of seven children are growing--our oldest, a girl of fifteen years, thoroughly consecrated, and two boys younger than she, thirteen and eleven years respectively, are manifesting a deep interest in God's Word. We are thus enabled to have the Bethel exercises each morning, with lessons from the SCRIPTURE STUDIES and TABERNACLE SHADOWS alternately every evening before retiring. We are at present somewhat isolated, except for one dear brother near us whom the Lord brought into the light through our humble ministry. We have no class connections except our own home. Our questions follow:
(1) Opportunities are presenting themselves for giving public talks in small towns around us, which, when we have accepted them, seem to have stirred up an interest to the extent that the congregation increases and some are giving evidences of full acceptance of the Truth. There are brethren in large Classes who could and would as Elders do this work at a considerably greater expense than myself, owing to distance, etc. Since I have no Class direction should I call upon those brethren, or do this work myself--especially when going to a small place where we have no assurance of a good turnout?
(2) If I continue to do this service should I report to the Bible House each meeting held, number in attendance, number manifesting interest, etc.?
(3) We note that you advise that only such as are able to answer the late list of questions be considered as eligible to Eldership. We have sent in our answers to these questions, but have not heard as to what grade we made. We are sure since sending them in that we were not quite clear on one or two, at least. We kept a copy of the questions and are making a study of them, and find them very helpful. We also believe this is a timely test directed of God to provide thorough shepherds for His flock, and shall be glad to abide by the outcome of our examination.
(4) Considering the fact that we have lessons each day in the week at home, would it be proper for my family to sacrifice my leadership to other work on Sundays?
Praying every day for you, dear Brother, that you may receive strength, courage and wisdom from above to continue in the way until He shall say, "It is enough," and soliciting an interest in your prayers,
I am sincerely your brother in hope, -----.
OUR REPLY:--We rejoice with you that the Lord did not permit you to drift away from Him, but gave you experiences which directed you, and brought you important lessons.
We quite approve your course of going forth every Sunday, or whenever convenient opportunity may afford, to neighboring villages and towns, to spread the knowledge of God's Word and of the Divine "Plan of the Ages." We are glad that you are thus engaged and that the Lord is granting you to see some fruit from your labors. We would encourage you to go on in the good work, believing that you will not be sacrificing the interests of your home so long as you continue the worship of the Lord and the study of His Word therein. A further suggestion we would make is that you introduce the reading matter to all who manifest any interest. It is our experience that, no matter who does the preaching, nor how much of it is done, very few will be brought to a satisfactory condition of knowledge or of character unless they read for themselves--STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES, WATCH TOWER, etc.
Since you are not identified with any Ecclesia, it would not be necessary for you to appeal to any. Authority to preach God's Word goes to whoever receives the Holy Spirit, in proportion as he may have talents for service.
The V. D. M. questions have been sent out freely and many of them have been returned, but we have not yet had time to make an examination of them. Shortly we hope to appoint a Committee to examine all the papers and to pass upon them, and we will then be glad to notify each one in respect to the accuracy of his answers, as viewed by the Committee.
May the Lord's blessing continue with you richly!
TO PREPARE THE WAY
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Loving greetings to my beloved Pastor and Brother in the Lord, through whom the dear children of the Kingdom are constantly fed and nourished with meat in due season from the dear Lord's own table!
Kindly pardon this intrusion upon your great magnanimity, and accept my sincere thanks for all you have been to, and done for, me and mine, by your unceasing labor of love. As the debt is so great, and I so very poor at reciprocity, I pray God, our Father, through His Son, our Redeemer and Lord, to cancel it, making such rewards perpetually as it richly merits. (Phil. 4:19.) His grace is so wonderful and matchless!
Had served many years as a church worker, but eventually sickening at its form of godliness, etc., slipped back into the field (world). About this time I married, and my wife has blessed me with great faithfulness and five children--one asleep.
About this same time a dear friend of ours bought THE DIVINE PLAN OF THE AGES of a Colporteur (Sister Graham) and handed it to my wife for me to read it and give my opinion as to its merit, etc.
At this time my business began to move me to and fro with my little home and increasing family, and the book was laid away. After ten years or so of roaming, sometimes doing well, but never satisfied, I met a dear Brother S-----. A little conversation made me feel he had something I wanted, and somehow I let him know it. He kindly invited me to discuss the matter and after a very few exchanges he quoted, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground," etc. It was with this text I received some light, and surely more light has been the watchword ever since!
I should tell you here that we had been well warned to beware of our friend S-----'s religion, etc., and we had never heard of you, or MILLENNIAL DAWN; in fact, it was only when reading Volume III., after going through Volumes I. and II., that I got to know Pastor Russell and his authorship of the books, etc., the main reason for this, I think, being the fact that the chart and preface of Vol. I. were missing.
Leaving Brother S-----'s that evening, some tracts were given me. When I got home and told my wife where I had been and spent the evening, both hands went up in horror, and the words, "You've done it now; I was always afraid you would! I have no more desire; ah, I have been warned! You'll be an infidel proper now!" etc., etc.
But she was already grieved about my seeming lack of spiritual desire and non-churchianity, and very anxious for the children. Two days or so after this I sat down to take some of the "food," and a paragraph in the tract "Do You Know?" got me; it referred to the trouble, "world-wide, socialistic and anarchistic." I felt very strange and not anxious to take it in. The statement, "The downfall of all the kingdoms of the world" grieved me, but I had not yet noticed the statement, "To prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom"--the Heavenly Kingdom.
I did not like to see the disasters predicted, but when the above caught my eye I exclaimed, Thank God, whoever has penned this! Exuberant with this joy, my wife must see it. And as I read, you should have seen her face, "And will result in the downfall of all the kingdoms of the earth." She was troubled and said, "That's awful!" Yes, I said, but thank the Lord this author has something better for their place; listen: "To prepare the way for Messiah's Kingdom."
She did not, however, embrace the Truth with me, but seemed to fight at every step, until she was brought to see plainly it is the Truth and that it is no use to fight the Truth. She was now hopeful, missing my society, and very, very lonely. One day, sitting at her knitting (I was making a few notes), she said, "If you can't speak, write something; it will be all right." Whereupon I wrote, "What do you think of consecration?" and passed it on. She replied, "A great deal." I was delighted. She symbolized shortly after, and our [page 351] life has since been fraught with abundant joy and satisfaction in the dear Lord, to whom be all the praise for evermore!
Being tied by family duties, etc., we have not been able to render very much service in the Harvest work, but we do pray for the dear Lord's blessing continually on you and all "the dear colaborers at the Brooklyn Tabernacle, Bethel, and everywhere."
We ask your loving prayers for us that we may be found faithful and joined with you and all His own to our living, loving Head in His Kingdom, in the sweet bye and bye.
"Toil on, and in thy toil rejoice;
For toil comes rest; for exile, Home;
Soon thou shalt see Him face to face,
And hear Him say, "Enough, well done!"
Your brother in the Lord, T. R. HICKMAN.
ONE USED HIS BRAINS--THE OTHER DID NOT
DEARLY BELOVED PASTOR:--
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! I have been wanting to give you my testimony for some time; how I got the Truth, and what it has done for me. I had often heard the saying, "As a man soweth, so shall he also reap," and I was sowing bad thoughts in my heart, and reaping bad habits.
My first start in the Christian life was in the fall of 1914, when I joined the "Knights of Malta." I got out of each Degree just enough of the Bible to make me want to know the rest; so I would go home and get my Bible and read the connections. It got so interesting to me that I started at Genesis and read everything to the end of Revelation. In that way I was getting rid of some of my bad thoughts, for some good thoughts.
I was a great fellow for condemning the Roman Catholic religion. I was working with a Catholic friend at that time, and I asked him one day why he did not use his own brains instead of believing everything the priests told him. He [R5995 : page 350] asked what church I went to, and I told him that I was a Presbyterian, and he inquired why I was one. I told him, "Because my mother and father were." He asked, "Why don't you use your own brains?" I replied, "That is right; I am going to use them." He was telling all about St. Peter as being the first Pope, etc. So I bought a "Theological Dictionary" which gives the history and belief of all denominations. I asked our Heavenly Father to show me which was the right one. The first that I read was the history and belief of the Presbyterian Church. It did not take me long to find out that I did not believe what they taught. The more I read of the different beliefs the more disgusted I got. I saw your sermons in the Pittsburgh papers, but I did not read them very often, until one day I saw your sermon on, "Peter and the Kingdom Keys," and read it very carefully. I found that you proved from the Scriptures that St. Peter was not the first Pope. It gave me more zeal to read and study your sermons. The one, I believe, that got me into the Truth, was your sermon on "Christ Buried in the Flesh and Raised in the Spirit." I told my wife (who is also with me in the Truth), that I was going to send for a set of STUDIES IN THE SCRIPTURES. But our Heavenly Father, seeing that my heart was ready for the Truth, did not give me a chance to send for them. He sent one of His messengers to my home with them. It was April 15th, 1915, and I have been making a close study of them ever since, and I thank my Heavenly Father for calling me "out of darkness into His marvelous light." I rejoice in trials and tribulations, because my love for our Heavenly Father casteth out fear.
My wife and I had the great pleasure of hearing you talk at the Carnegie Hall, Pittsburgh, May 9th, 1915. The first time we attended a meeting in the Auditorium, Pittsburgh, was July 4th, 1915. Brother Kendall gave a talk on the Life of Christ, from Isaiah, 53d chapter. We made up our minds that from that time on we would follow you as you follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
October 10, 1915, I sent nineteen letters which I received from the Brooklyn Tabernacle, to the Elders, Deacons and the Minister of the Presbyterian Church, notifying them why I was withdrawing and asked each one of them to come to my home and we would talk it over. None have come yet. Shortly after, I passed the minister on the street, but he did not recognize me. It was told me that he said he did not want to have anything to do with Pastor Russell or anybody that believed in his teachings.
My wife and I consecrated ourselves to God during the October, 1915, Convention in Pittsburgh, and we symbolized our consecration by water baptism January 2d, 1916. We have been striving ever since to be overcomers by making the good fight, and guarding "the faith" to the best of our ability. We ask that you remember us in your prayers, that we may be faithful unto the end, when it will be said, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joys of thy Lord."
We pray that our Heavenly Father will give you strength and wisdom so that you will be faithful unto death, and also all others who have made a Covenant with Him by sacrifice.
With much Christian love,
BROTHER AND SISTER HEADRICK.--England.
A MINISTERIAL ATTEMPT TO "ANSWER" THE TRUTH
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--
Since your visit among us I have wondered if you would like to hear the results of our meeting. The effect on the entire city has been wonderful. Many thoughtful men heard you and have not minced matters in their open approbation of your sermon. The local papers did not report it and they came in for some criticism for failing to do so.
On Sunday evening following your meeting two ministers attempted to "answer" you. They resorted to slander and falsehood, blindly wresting your points. Many who heard them after having heard you, have been drawing comparisons that are detrimental to these ministers' hold on their people.
The pastors of one denomination have met to discuss the situation and to decide what to say to their congregations about you and your teachings. They admitted that the question everywhere is getting beyond their ability to answer.
We are continuing our volunteering and canvassing, finding a kind of interest that will not much longer be put off without the Truth.
The opposition is getting strong, but the Lord knows all about that! I thank Him always for this opportunity to serve Him. How kind He was to let me have this Light and His Robe of Righteousness to hide my blemishes as they become more perceptible!
I thank Him for your visit here. It has been a greater blessing than we knew. May our Father bless you and send you back!
In Jesus' Name, BUEBO ELLER.
BRITISH CONDITIONS GROW SERIOUS
A Brother in Great Britain writes:--
"Women are now taking the places previously occupied by men, in nearly every trade. They are driving and collecting fares on the electric cars, motor cars, etc.; they are to be found at the railway depots emptying the wagons, behind the counters, in the banks, working the machines on the farms, and doing every other conceivable job which men have been in the habit of doing in the past.
"Our nation is being weakened very considerably by the big battles that are now raging at the front. Thousands from this district wiped out daily. It is a common occurrence to meet a mother who has lost all her sons--very often three or four--and in many cases the father also.
"If ever there was a time to preach the Truth it is now. The nation is being broken down, and who can give comfort and joy to these dear hearts, now torn and sad, but ourselves? and we are doing, by the Lord's grace, all we can.
"As a Church here, we are adding to our numbers daily; many very fine and noble characters are amongst those now coming along; and while the Lord continues to bless us, we remember you all. Often we find it easier to walk with the Lord when troubles abound on every side, while it is difficult to maintain our full devotion to the Lord when everything goes smoothly."
CAREFULLY STUDIED VOW--THEN ACCEPTED IT
DEAR PASTOR RUSSELL:--
Soon after reading your views in the November 1 issue of THE WATCH TOWER I sat down to inform you, out of my own experience, what reasons a consecrated believer could have for not taking the Vow. After stating my reasons I decided to change the letter by leaving out one of them, so I re-wrote the letter, but decided to wait awhile before sending it in its final form. The result is, that after having carefully studied the Vow and my own heart, I have made the Vow my own, and thank God for it.
I wonder if there are not others who would be led to take the Vow, if they should very carefully scrutinize their reasons for not taking it? Please record me as a keeper of the Vow and accept my deepest gratitude for having brought me to a closer study of my heart.
May God's blessing continue with you in the work!
Yours in His name, M. E. S.--N. C.