"OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
DEAR FRIEND AND BROTHER:--I have just received my outfit from the WATCH TOWER PUBLISHING CO., and shall commence the canvass in a few days. Will you please answer the following inquiry, which is made in all good faith: Is there any organization among those who espouse the doctrines and gospel truth as taught by you in the DAWN Series? and, if so, by what name are they known? I have been a minister in the Baptist ranks for about four years, and in love with a full Gospel; and with the bright light of the DAWNS shining upon me I feel like breaking away from all hindrances and spreading the truth from platform and pulpit and in all other proper ways. Please write me and in addition to above inquiry make any suggestions you may feel willing. Yours in love and work for Christ, A. McHAN.
REPLY.--DEAR BROTHER: I rejoice to know of your growth in the fulness and freedom of the truth as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
To the majority of ministers, used as they are to a more or less easy living and to the honor and almost reverence of the people, to take a step away from these is a great trial. But considering that they have had more light, more opportunities for study, more advantages in every way than most people, it seems but reasonable that they should have greater trial --on the principle of more light, more responsibility. The truth has never been popular, and the one who would follow it must leave the approbation of the world and the worldly-minded nominal church.
We have, however, no organization into which to invite you, dear brother. The only one which we recognize is the one to which our Lord Jesus is the door, and the members of which have their names written in Heaven. It includes, probably, some in as well as out of all denominations--every consecrated Christian, known to us or unknown. We believe that you will already recognize yourself as a member of this one, true Church--our Church, because we are Christ's. But, while recognizing many in the denominations of Babylon as members of this true Church, it is our duty to re-echo the Lord's words, "Come out of her, my people!"--and then to assist them as much as possible by the truth which affords the necessary grace and strength.
I would, therefore, think it proper for you to use any opportunity or talent in any pulpit, etc., from which you can gain a hearing, so long as you are able to present therein what you believe to be the truth; and as long as you do not hide your light through fear of offending the worldly-wise. As the Baptists are professedly less sectarian and are governed more by pure Bible principles than most of the other denominations, probably your liberty there would last longer and your work among them prove more fruitful.
But the method from which, according to the experiences of others, best results are to be expected, and in which I see it to be your intention to engage, is the Colporteur work. As at the first advent, work from door to door, instead of pulpit preaching, seems to be receiving the Lord's special blessing. Then the disciples stood at the door with the simple message, "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"-- while now with the same message we can present literature (which they did not then have) showing why and how and when it is to be introduced.
In introducing the Dawns, however, it is better not to say much about the doctrines, except where a person is found who is ripe and ready for it, leaving it for the books to present them gradually, in a way not to excite prejudice before enough truth has been gained to offset it and to give a taste for more with the desire to search diligently for it. The suggestions already sent you, you will see are along this line of wisdom--speaking the truth in love.
A back number of the Watch Tower has been sent, in which you will find more concerning the true Church. May the Lord bless you in your service for him, and may you become more and more in touch with him and his plans. I shall be glad to hear from you whenever you feel like writing.
Yours in the Redeemer, --EDITOR.
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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--Enclosed find $6.00, for which please send me 20 copies of Dawn, Vol. I., and a quantity of Tracts.
I would like to give you some experiences of our little "church" of three. Last week each of us withdrew from the nominal church--myself from the Presbyterian, Brother D__________, from the Baptist, and Brother F__________, from the Methodist. Although it was the most difficult step I have ever taken, yet the way was made very clear, and the Lord has greatly blessed me since, because new floods of light have come from his Word, and whenever I have occasion to speak about it, I always have Scripture given to me, to prove wherein I am right. How true is that promise that "The path of the just shineth more and more unto the perfect day." I see it so plainly since I have given my will completely to God. [R1427 : page 220]
Many, many thanks for the Towers sent me in regard to Baptism and The Thief on the Cross. The proper mode for immersion is now very clear, and the light on the other came almost instantly upon reading the article. Thank God for a receptive mind!
I have been told that an infidel in this city was brought to Christ through one of the Dawns that we loaned, so you see the Harvest work is going on, and God gives his messengers plenty to do.
My constant companion is the Word of God, and his plan of salvation is scarcely out of my mind a moment. The light grows brighter every day. I received much good yesterday from reading the "Tabernacle Shadows." Believe me, dear Brother, although never having seen you, yet I feel very near to you.
Yours in Christian love,
MORGAN T. LEWIS.
REPLY.--DEAR BROTHER LEWIS: Your enclosure is applied as directed. Allow me to congratulate you and the other dear brethren on your new-found freedom from the Nominal Church. "Be not again entangled in any yoke of bondage," that you may render all allegiance to the one Lord and Master.
I very much appreciate the spirit of your closing remark. I think that is how all who truly love the Lord feel toward each other. We are one with him, and love binds us more and more closely to him and each other as we see his spirit, "the spirit of a sound mind," manifested in each other and working out in the life.
You have been growing very fast in the knowledge of the truth, dear Brother; in just a few months you have partaken of much "strong meat," in the three volumes of Dawn, all the back numbers of Tower obtainable, etc.; or, to use another figure, you have been putting on the "armor" very rapidly. All this is for a purpose: that you may have the strength and the proper armor to enable you to stand in this evil day; and not only to stand yourself, but also to protect and assist others. You must use the shield of faith to resist the fiery darts of the adversary, coming from many directions, and learn to handle skilfully "the sword of the spirit," which is the Word of God, as well as to have your intellect protected by the helmet of salvation.
Now I suggest that you re-examine your armor to see if you have on each necessary piece, in its proper place; in order that you may not be taken unawares when the battle grows hotter. In other words, that you go back and read again what you have received, so as to make it entirely your own. As in armor the shield does not change into the sword, or the helmet into the breastplate, or the one usurp the particular office of the other, so each distinct feature in the plan of salvation retains its own place and use in the general whole; and as there are only a certain number of pieces in a suit of armor, and when you have them on you need no more, only to see that they fit together and are tightly fastened, leaving no crevice for a stray arrow to penetrate, so with the truth: once a truth, always a truth, and needing only to be properly adjusted, secured and used; and no more can be piled on without disastrous effects, weighting one down with a multitude of pieces of unnecessary or poor armor which would permit the enemy to overpower and capture.
It is necessary to consider these things, because the Adversary, seeing that you and others cannot be hindered from studying the truth, transforms himself into an angel of light, and tries to lead such beyond the true light into realms of unwarranted speculation which in the end carries the expectant and eager student as far or farther away than the nominal church or some less subtle foe could at the beginning of [R1427 : page 221] his studies. A time will come when we shall know all things, even as we are known; and as we approach nearer to the end of our earthly course and apprehend more fully the heights and depths and lengths and breadths of our Father's plan, we must learn to take the same pleasure in its completeness that we formerly did in searching out "deep things"--just as God enjoys the grand and good and finished features of his work.
We should expect completeness now, so far as God's revelation is concerned, because such was the promise. For instance, Daniel was told, "Go thy way, Daniel, for the thing is closed up and sealed until the time of the end --then (1) many shall run to and fro, (2) knowledge shall be increased, (3) the [truly] wise shall understand,...and (4) at that time Michael [Christ] shall stand up...and there shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation." Here, then, we have an assurance that the truly wise will understand, or, as the Apostle says, speaking of the same class and the present time, "Ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief." And as our Lord promised (to his people throughout this age), "Ye shall know the truth," and "If any man will do my Father's will he shall know of my doctrine." Then again, we have the assurance that, "In the days of the voice of the seventh angel ['seventh trumpet']--when he shall begin to sound--the MYSTERY OF GOD [His plan and his Church] SHALL BE FINISHED"--matters "kept secret from the foundation of the world." --Rev. 10:7; Matt. 13:35.
I mention these points, dear Brother, because the tempter will sooner or later bring to you as to others suggestions of doubt and uncertainty upon the very points which now you see so clearly, and for which there is such abundant proof in God's Word. These suggestions will be human speculations, "May be" and "What if" and "Who knows," which finally end in the "outer darkness" of agnosticism, in which the worldly-wise have always wandered, and into which the nominal church is fast falling. These doubts will start with suggestions that, Perhaps if God is good and loving enough to provide a redemption for all, and an opportunity for all to escape the penalty which came upon all through Adam's sin, and to come to righteousness and harmony with him through Christ--perhaps he will force all to accept of his loving plans and thus ultimately force salvation upon all, by taking away their choice or free agency.
When these unscriptural suggestions of the Adversary (based upon purely human reasoning) come, the test begins. If your faith is built upon the wisdom of men, you will begin to say: My wisdom is just as good as that of Brother Russell or any other man, and I will think for myself. Then you will begin to imagine how things might be; and the Adversary will send you plenty of assistance in turning and twisting every Scripture statement seeming to interfere with YOUR OPINIONS. At first you might be disposed to base all such claims for universal, everlasting salvation upon the merit of Christ's redeeming sacrifice. But when you begin to reason on the subject you will see that --(1) God's law has held Adam and his race under its penalty, death, for these thousands of years; (2) The sinner could be released only by the payment for him of the death-penalty by the great Redeemer; (3) The new trial of all under the new Covenant by Christ the Mediator implies a possibility of failure and second death, as well as a possibility of success which would confirm the redeemed life and make it everlasting; (4) Since God's laws never alter, it follows that if, after being forgiven-- justified--from the Adamic condemnation, any shall sin wilfully after receiving full light and knowledge, and with full desire to do sin, the penalty, death (the second penalty--"second death"), would come against such as surely as it came against Adam at first; (5) Reason then urges that as surely as God's law required a ransom price to be paid before any could be released from the first penalty or first death, so the same unchangeable law would require another or second ransom before releasing any from the penalty of the second trial--second death. Reason says that it is scarcely probable that Christ would die again to give anyone a third chance for life, after he had been granted [R1427 : page 222] fullest opportunity under the second. And Scripture answers, "In that he died, he died unto [or because of] sin [our sin] once," but "Christ dieth no more!"
But the person infatuated with his own thinking and bent on making some new light for himself cannot be stopped by reason based on Scripture. So he is merely stunned by his reasoning. He hesitates but a short time, and then decides--my thinking must be right: all must be saved eternally, and not merely all saved from the first or Adamic death and granted a trial for life-everlasting. I must set aside the doctrine of the fall and its penalty, death, and the ransom from it by our Lord's death. I must make a new theory on this which will harmonize with universal salvation. And soon he begins twisting and turning language in every conceivable form to get rid of those statements so clearly set forth in Scripture, in which he at first delighted as the very bulwarks of the good tidings of great joy for all people --that "Christ died for our sins"--that "he died the just one for the unjust" that he might "open up for us a new way of life" and "bring us to God." He may or may not hold to the word ransom and affect to hold to the Bible's teaching, but in fact all such deny the ransom and the entire plan of salvation which God has revealed--whatever of their own or other men's wisdom they may adopt instead.
So, dear Brother, you see my solicitude for you and the reason for my urging that you study again and very thoroughly the subjects presented in DAWN, Vols. I., II., III., looking up every passage cited and noting the contexts. I would have your faith rest not in the wisdom of man--(neither my wisdom nor your own nor any other man's) but in the wisdom of God [R1430 : page 222] and in the power of God as revealed to us, his children, through his Word.--1 Cor. 1:24.
May the Lord bless you and your associates --"establish, strengthen, settle you," and fit you for usefulness in present "harvest" work.
Yours in our Redeemer, --EDITOR.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I feel that I want to do something in the vineyard of our Lord; but fear I may not be humble enough--or perhaps I am too ambitious, or may undertake "eye" or "hand" work, rather than that belonging to members of lower degree in "the body."
My health both physically and spiritually leaves me to a certain extent strengthless. Oh! how I do realize this--even more keenly spiritually than otherwise. The suggestions you gave me have found lodgment in my heart. I want them to remain there. I want to ponder over them. I do not know just what the result will be, but I want to loose my hold on business at least to the extent that it has overcharged me with this world's cares. My first work will be partly to regain lost ground. While getting business in shape to get more time to devote to the Lord's service, I will have time to study and exercise my senses, both in getting an understanding of, and in defending, the divine plan (which embraces the glad tidings to both Church and world).
For want of practice I cannot make as good "music" on my "harp" as I could a few years ago. Then I had great confidence, so that I did not fear to meet and fight with a Goliath; becoming rather an expert with the two-edged sword. How ashamed I have felt sometimes within the past year or two, when I realized that I was concealing my light, fearful lest some "Philistine" giant might get the better of me in discussion, if he saw and accused me of being "one of them." I am truly glad that I never denied my Lord, nor indeed ever denied being one of his disciples; but realizing that I had to a great extent lost my power to use the Scriptures in defense of my views, I often felt it prudent to keep quiet, when otherwise I might have improved a good opportunity for exposing error, spreading the truth, or putting to flight its adversaries.
How thankful I am for the vivid glimpses of truth I had at different times while attending the Convention. I do not know to what to compare them--unless to what I have seen at night, during a terrible thunder storm, as I lay in bed looking out of a window. A few flashes of lightning divided the heavy, choking darkness, and for an instant revealed objects such as trees, houses, etc. These glimpses of truth seemed very, very distinct, and the impression they made remains with me. If the presentation of truth to the mind may be compared to the brightness of the sun at noon-day, these glimpses or pictures seen might be compared to the clean-cut flashes of lightning, even more dazzling than the brightness of the sun.
The feeling that always followed was like this: Oh, that I could always, constantly, have such clear conceptions of truth. Oh, that this [R1430 : page 223] bright shining, with the confidence it inspires and the love it enkindles in my heart, would remain. Then, how I could with confidence go into the vineyard, knowing that I would succeed--that I could hold fast, that I could stand, that I could overcome, that I could win the prize and wear the crown.
How sweet to leave the world a while, to retreat from its busy scenes, and to seek the fellowship of our Lord and the wise virgins.
In Christian love, yours,
WM. C. MACMILLAN.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have been in the Christian ministry for twenty years, during fifteen of which I have studied the prophecies diligently --which resulted in bringing me to some of the same conclusions you give in Millennial Dawn. It would be difficult for any one to imagine my delight in reading your books. I am profiting by the information thus gained and I am talking and preaching it wherever I go; and it is wonderful to find so many people ready to receive new truth, however much it may differ from the old stereotyped systems of theology in which they have been reared. I was pleased with the copies of Tower sent, especially with the one containing your article on "The True Church." I intend, by the help of God, to proclaim all that I learn from His Word, believing it is perfectly safe. I am Pastor of the Christian Church here, it is in a prosperous condition, and I fancy I have the love and confidence of my people; but there is no sacrifice too great for me to make for the cause of God and humanity.
I have no doubt that you are asked many questions by your many correspondents, and I am aware that your time is too valuable to waste on those of carping critics; but if it is not asking too much I should like to know how you harmonize the doctrine of the utter destruction of the finally wicked (which I also believe) with Rev. 20:10; 22:15. Believe me, dear Brother, that I ask this only for information. I make no secret of my nonbelief of eternal torment, and have a theory in reference to the scriptures referred to, but fearing it might not be the best I ask your views. [This question will be briefly answered soon in a tract--A Rejoinder to Mr. Ingersoll.--ED.]
I am studying these things with a view to devoting the remainder of my life to their proclamation, as soon as I can master the lessons. I am only forty-six years old, strong and vigorous, just in the prime of manhood and well inured to hard work; and hence I think I can do much in the name of Him to whom I belong--who bought me with His own blood. God bless you in your grand work.
Fraternally yours, N. G. MURPHY.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--The time draws near again to send in our "Good Hopes." I am glad that I am permitted to help even so little in the work, and perhaps, as I long to be useful in the Master's service, if I am faithful in a little, he will give me more to do.
I am very much interested in the young boys of this neighborhood. There are so many temptations to lead them astray. With this end in view, of lifting up a higher standard of morality and truth, we canvassed the neighborhood for means to buy a tent and started a Union Sabbath School. We also hold Bible readings; but our way is encountered with many difficulties, and it is only by prayer and earnest zeal that we are enabled to keep up. I have a class of young boys which I long to start out in the world as little soldiers to battle for the right.
Pray the dear Lord to help us in our weak efforts to do good and to guide us aright; and may he bless all of the dear workers everywhere, and hasten the glad day when all shall know and serve him.
One who is trusting in Him,
MRS. H. C. P__________.
REPLY.--DEAR SISTER: Your enclosure has been applied as directed--and appreciated as your thank-offering to the Lord and as an evidence of your love and zeal. May it be blest in the service of our King, and may the sacrifices in earthly things, which it has cost you, be more than compensated for in spiritual blessings.
I am glad that you desire to be led of God into that service which will most honor him and put yourself in more nearly perfect touch with his will; yet I am not surprised that in the work for the boys of your neighborhood you find it very much up-hill. Ordinarily it would be a good work--better far than a bad or selfish way of spending or wasting the time--and accomplishing something for them also; but accomplished only with difficulty. And perhaps the Lord does not remove the difficulties, as you might like, in order to show you a better work--good though the present one is, and undoubtedly receiving his blessing on account of your earnestness and love.
Have you never thought that the Lord could, [R1430 : page 224] very easily, close the liquor establishments and other doors of temptation? and that the reason he does not do it is that his time has not yet come? When his time does come, in the Millennial age, humane work of reform will be far more successful, because evil will be restrained, temptations, etc., removed, and it will be his will that all shall be blessed.
So I want to suggest, as before stated, that he may desire to show you what his work is now, according to the times and seasons which he observes in all his dealings with us. This age has been for the selection of the bride of Christ, who is to be associated with him in the Millennial reign of blessing; and the work of the prospective bride now is to make HERSELF ready (Rev. 19:7)--not specially the blessing of the world, which her Lord designs shall be done after she becomes united to him.
Or, as pictured in a parable, this is the "harvest" of the age, when, instead of sowing the good seed, as you are trying to do in the case of the boys, the time for reaping has come, when the wheat (those who have already received the word of truth and been developed by it) is to be separated from the tares by the sickle of present truth. Surely there are many developed Christians within your reach in need of your sickle lest they be choked under the mass of tares.--See DAWN, VOL. III., Chapter vi.
The Lord said, as represented by the prophet, that he was anointed to preach the glad tidings to the meek. We, as the members of his body, have received the same anointing, and therefore must likewise seek THE MEEK. The meek are generally not found amongst wild boys or [R1431 : page 224] in the slums, but among Christians--those whose experiences in life have made them willing to seek refuge in Christ--whose hearts have been "broken." Surely if your boys were "meek" and willing your difficulties would be removed. But you are trying to force on them that which rightfully belongs to the meek, who are perhaps waiting and longing for your message of peace.
This is only a suggestion, dear Sister, inspired by the earnest tone in which you write.
May the Lord bless you and lead you to His praise and the accomplishment of his purpose.
Yours in our Redeemer, --EDITOR.
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I have read with great interest and, I trust, profit, the double number of TOWER in which you treat the subject of the "Trinity." It is a view that seems to harmonize with the Scriptures and sanctified common sense. I have also received the Quarterly giving an epitomized statement of the Plan of the Ages. I think this particularly good, and will be adapted to prepare the way for some busy people, who would not think at first that they could read 350 pages of matters ethical. I would like to have you send me fifty copies of it, and I will try to use them in a way that will help the great cause. I enclose my check for $5.00, which I think will pay for them and leave a little balance, which you may use in the Lord's work as you think he desires. I think "The Tabernacle and the Better Sacrifices" is excellent in pamphlet form.
Yours truly, R. P. CHAPMAN.
[Glad to know that our recent publications are giving so much satisfaction to you and others whose approval and co-operation we so much value.--EDITOR.]
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--I inclose one dollar for a year's subscription to ZION'S WATCH TOWER, beginning with July.
My wife and I have lately read MILLENNIAL DAWN, and you will know it has changed our whole lives. With my brother in the flesh, we had consecrated our lives to the service of the Lord in heathen lands, purposing to support ourselves with the Lord's help. Now all is changed. I have given up my pastoral work: the Bible alone must receive my whole attention for a time at least. The way is not clear, but we trust the Lord to lead us. We pray, God bless Brother Russell, as a faithful servant in the Lord's house, for the meat he has given us "in due season."
My work, pastoral and evangelistic, has been quite remunerative (about $1200 per year); but even before I read the DAWN, I felt I could no longer work for a salary. I have ordered 12 copies of the DAWN, and shall use my opportunities to spread the light.
In the hope of immortality, E. R. BLACK.