LETTER TO THE CHURCH AT ALLEGHENY.
[Brother Russell's letter to the Church at Allegheny is published below as of interest to all TOWER readers.]
Odessa, Bessarabia, Russia.
August 1st, 1891.
TO THE DEAR BRETHREN AND SISTERS OF
We are thus far upon our long journey and are feeling weary from so constant travel; but, thank the Lord, we both are quite well--spiritually and physically. We pray for you all the same heavenly blessings.
You will be pleased to learn that our journey is proving profitable to us, as hoped. I will not give details or particulars now (leaving that for a general report in the TOWER), but will merely say that we already appreciate the situation of Europe much better than before.
You will be glad to learn that during our journey we have met several who manifested a deep interest in God's great plan of the ages, and who said they would procure and read DAWN, and search the Scriptures to see whether these things be so presented therein. One of these was a Hebrew with whom we rode from Dresden to Vienna. The gentleman (a merchant) had a noble and intelligent face, and until he so informed us we did not surmise him to be a Jew. We had inquired of him respecting the laboring classes--their daily wages, etc., and conversation turned upon the proportion of Catholics and Protestants, and finally to the subject of true heart-religion. He remarked that although almost all the people of Austria, except the Jews, are counted as Roman Catholic Christians, yet a truly religious spirit is lacking. He said that there were strong evidences that a persecution of the Jews in Austria may soon break out which would lead to as great or greater affliction upon that race than is now being experienced in some parts of Russia.
We assured him that these things must so be; that God through his prophets had clearly pointed out that he would permit persecution in all lands in order to drive out the Jews and to give them no rest; and further, that the Scriptures showed that the time for this was now due; but that while Israel feels the trouble sharply, this trouble (Isa. 26:16-19) is really unlike all others of the past 1800 years upon that people--it is not a mark of divine disfavor, but, contrariwise, of favor; for by it the Lord would awaken them from present lethargy and contentment among the nations, to cause their hearts to long for the Promised Land as an everlasting possession, because his time has now come to re-gather in Palestine the faithful, longing Jews and to remove from their hearts the blindness of unbelief.
But, we inquired, what evidences do you see of a persecution of the Jews in Austria. "Very strong indications," he answered; "for instance, stories are being circulated among the ignorant to the effect that the Jews kidnap Christian children and kill them and drink their blood; and the same class is told that if it were not for the Jews they would all be prosperous, money plentiful, wages high, etc. Why," said he, "one labor agitator publicly declared recently that the only remedy for the grievances of the poorer classes is to kill all the Jews. He said, 'We must do with them as was once done with the French at Seville' (--massacre them). That man," he continued, "is well known as a bad man: he had already done penal service (once for making counterfeit money); yet so greatly was that man appreciated for his hatred of the Jews that he was elected to the Austrian Parliament by a large majority."
We then briefly pointed out the matters detailed in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. II., how that God's Word reveals his plan: that as Israel had 1845 years of favor, which terminated with their rejection of Messiah, Jesus, so they were to have 1845 years of disfavor (during which period the Gospel Church would be selected), after which favor would return to Israel and their blindness of unbelief in Messiah be removed. As we proceeded to quote and to [R1324 : page 127] cite the prophecies referring to this "double," our friend began to note the passages, saying, "I am greatly interested in all this, for I am an Israelite."
We assured him of our love for all who are Israelites indeed, and proceeded to point out that the "double" was completed in 1878; that in that very year a Jew was the leader in the Berlin Conference of Nations; and that there began the preparation for Israel's return to God's favor and to Palestine. We pointed out that as they as a nation were 37 years in falling, so [R1325 : page 127] they would be 37 years in rising again to nationality, and that the present and prospective persecutions in all lands were but parts of the favor of God to bring them as a people to a condition in which all sincere Israelites would be blessed by Messiah, the Truth and the Kingdom.
The Hebrew friend and another traveling companion from Ireland, who overheard the conversation, are to receive the DAWN, and at once begin careful studies of these things. May God's blessing be upon them as they search, and may the true light--Christ--enlighten them both in all things pertaining to his name and Kingdom.
One of the most interesting of our experiences thus far was our visit to Brother Joseph Rabinowitch at his home in Kischenev, Russia. He welcomed us warmly, as did all the family, all of whom are believers in the Lord Jesus. We had a pleasant and, we trust, a profitable visit, in which we learned what we could of the work, past and present, among the Israelites.
We found Brother Rabinowitch pleasantly and comfortably situated: his home, office and new hand press for printing tracts are alongside of, and connected with, a new and very neat house of worship, which will seat about one hundred and twenty-five persons. We were struck with the close correspondence in many particulars between his work among the Israelites and our work among Christians. He finds the Israelites looking for a Kingdom of God, but disbelieving in Jesus as the Redeemer and King. We find Christian people trusting in Christ Jesus as Redeemer, but ignorant and disbelieving concerning the Gospel of the Kingdom. He finds many Jews anxious, privately, to know about the Redeemer, but fearful to incur the odium of their co-religionists. We find the same yearning and fear among Christians concerning the Kingdom. Undoubtedly both parts of the work (for it is one work in the sense of being under the one Lord) are making greater progress than appears on the surface. A heart work is in progress, much of which will bear no fruit until the great time of trouble has further unsealed the vision and the understanding.
Brother Rabinowitch has the New Testament and quite a number of tracts printed in what he terms Hebrew-Russo-German jargon--the only language which the lower classes can fully comprehend. Kischenev contains about 50,000 Israelites, so he has an excellent location for his work.
We found him well acquainted with the teachings of DAWN and in deep sympathy with the same. We took sweet counsel together of the Lord's work and each other's experiences, and of the necessity for holding fast to the word of the Lord's testimony.
Fearing that he was inclined to preach Christ's first advent and his sacrifice for sin almost to the exclusion of the Kingdom, we urged that he forget not the Lord's instruction upon this subject --"This Gospel of the Kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness." We urged that in presenting the subject to the mind of an Israelite, Christ Jesus the Redeemer of men would be much more acceptable, if presented from the standpoint of Christ Jesus the King, about to establish his long-promised Kingdom --to make which an everlasting Kingdom he died ("the just for the unjust") 1800 years ago.
Brother Rabinowitch replied that he well knew the truth of what we said, but that though he had not totally neglected the subject of the coming of Christ as the King, yet he had heretofore felt that the second coming of Christ and the Kingdom then to be established were subjects for those more advanced in Christian knowledge, and that, therefore, his discourses in the past had been chiefly in proof that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah foretold by the prophets. [R1325 : page 128]
Our advice to him was, that the Church had for eighteen hundred years preached thus, and to little effect; and that the Lord's Word now pointed out a new message for Israel, saying: "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people: speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem and cry unto her that her appointed times are accomplished, for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins." (Isa. 40:1,2.) We suggested that this meant a preaching to them of the return of divine favor to them as a people before they had believed in Christ, and that with this return of God's favor would come the opening of the long-blinded eyes to recognize in Christ Jesus the Sun of Righteousness whose beams of blessing were already shining upon them. While assenting to the proposition, that without a full acceptance of Christ there is no possibility of everlasting salvation for either Jew or Gentile, we urged that a measure of blessing was about to come to the people of Israel in order to reveal Christ to all who are Israelites indeed. We reminded him, also, of the Lord's declaration that the knowledge of the Kingdom about to be established constitutes no insignificant part of the Gospel which the Lord wished to have preached in all the world, but which so many Christians had lost sight of--"This Gospel of the Kingdom must first be preached in all the world for a witness." In this connection we related to him our experiences with the Hebrew merchant en route for Vienna, and his interest so keenly and so quickly awakened by the fulfilment of the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah, now manifestly in progress in its due time. We believe that the Kingdom will, hereafter, have a still more important place in Brother Rabinowitch's preaching, and we doubt not that the results will proportionately increase, to the praise of the Great King, in the turning away of blindness from Israel.
At parting we knelt in prayer with Brother Rabinowitch and his family in the forepart of the Chapel, each committing the other to the love and care of the one Lord whose work we each serve, though in different spheres. We left, extending our warm thanks to all for the kind hospitality received, and with our best wishes for their future welfare, receiving the same good wishes from each of them. At the railway station we were again greeted by Brother Rabinowitch and his son John (a very promising young man of about twenty years, from whom we hope to hear very soon in the Lord's vineyard). They had come to see that we experienced no difficulty with our tickets and baggage, and especially for a final good-bye and "God bless you." Both father and son kissed me (a custom much more usual among men here than in America), saying, "Pray for us when you are at Jerusalem, the City of the Great King, and especially when on the Mount of Olives." We assured them that we would do so, and asked their prayers also with us.
And now, beloved in the Lord, Farewell. When at the Mount of Olives, as everywhere, be assured that the Church of Christ at Allegheny, as well as the saints everywhere scattered abroad, will be remembered and loved and prayed for by my beloved helpmate, Sister Russell, as well as by myself.
Truly your brother and servant,
CHARLES T. RUSSELL.
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