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DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—By way of introduction let me say “Thank you!” for the spiritual food which my hungry soul has found in the MILLENNIAL DAWN series. Years ago I “left the church” as the phrase goes, i.e., I withdrew from membership in the Methodist church, and burned my ships behind me, destroying my church letter and telling the good people who came to labor with me in the matter that it was a matter of conscience with me not to call men my brothers one day in the week knowing that the other six I must watch them like a hawk, lest they cheat me out of my eyeteeth. I would not “take communion” with the knowledge that beside me sat one who fed poisoned grain to my fowls and poisoned meat to my dog and whispered scandalous stories about every person she knew in the church and out of it. So for years I have been counted a heathen.
How marvelous is God’s leading! And because I could not see his hand in thus making my very soul sick over the hypocrisy and sham religion of the nominal church, I thought there was no church at all and wandered out into the desert beyond sight of the promised land. Theosophy, Spiritism, Christian Science, the Higher Criticism—O, the barren months and years of hungry searching! And while planning a course of study in Swedenborgianism and hunting for some second-hand copies of his works I ran across VOL. I. of the MILLENNIAL DAWN series. Do you know that I bought that volume and two others of the series as a joke? I said, “I’ll lend them to some Second Adventist neighbors of ours,” for I could see that the author turned the tables on that doctrine of fire and fury in a style as comprehensive as it was logical. But Swedenborg went into the box of “books to exchange and burn” and “The Helping Hand” led me out of the desert and set my feet once more in the narrow path. And now I want to help others enjoy these truths—the ministers particularly. The most of them here are good men, they see but they don’t see far enough. They know that I will not join any of their churches, but the Methodist preacher and the Congregationalist both tell me where Want has knocked at the door of one, or where trouble has found out another; and the Baptist preacher will talk Prophecy to me, and the Presbyterian, Practical Christianity. I believe I can get hold of them and of members of their churches better than if I “belonged” to any of them. I have told them that the only reason I sit still and listen to them slander the Word is because I know they as individuals are broader than their creeds, and that I guess God can forgive them if I can.
And now to get down to business. I have but little money that the Lord lets me call mine because he shows me so many ways to use it as soon as it comes, in that the purse is very slim. When I want books or papers he always shows me a way to pitch in and make tents, like Paul. I have wanted to send you a dollar for the WATCH TOWER for the last month, but he did not show me the way to make it until yesterday. I inclose it in stamps in this letter. Send me any extra copies or tracts that you can spare; I will put them into empty hands.
Near me lives a lady who has sore domestic trouble—a Swiss, reads French and German fluently—and she will gladly read anything that will help her to believe that “the Herr Gott is not deaf” as she expresses it.
Pardon this long letter.
Very sincerely your sister in Christ,
ELIZABETH ANNE GRAHAM,—California
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In Jan. 1st TOWER you speak of the time being short before the door of opportunity is closed. Some of us find the door to many churches closed to us. It was only on the last day of December, ’99 that the minister of the church where I was giving out tracts ordered me off from the church and forbade me giving any more. He said that we ought to be ashamed of ourselves, giving those to the people. I asked him if he had ever read it. He said that he had never read it, but knew all about it. I asked him what he knew about it. He said that it was breaking up all the churches and he would not allow me to explain.
The “Volunteer” work is a grand work for many reasons. (1) It enables us to preach with the printed page; (2) it gives us an opportunity to study character as well as to build character; (3) it gives us an opportunity to confess with our lips what we believe with our heart; (4) it strengthens us to be always able to give a “reason for the hope that is within us;” (5) it creates in us a love and sympathy for those whom we are trying to rescue from the awful blackness of infidelity; (6) it empties us of selfishness and causes us to sacrifice pleasures for the welfare of others. So as long as the Lord permits I will consider it a pleasure to be able to serve in so grand a work.
Enclosed please find check and order. With best wishes, Yours in redeeming love,
— March 1, 1900 —