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ENCOURAGING WORDS FROM FAITHFUL WORKERS
MY DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—Glory to God! By the aid of the Holy Spirit I am now feasting on the meat due to the household of faith. The Lord has anointed my eyes to behold the prize of the calling from on high. The separation has come; I am the Lord’s. I have not only covenanted with God that I will be dead to all human things, but with the aid of His spirit I have resolved to perform that covenant throughout my earthly career,—keeping my “body under,” keeping my will out of sight, and to perform only the Lord’s will. I am no longer simply justified, I am now sanctified. Praise the Lord! I have forsaken all and am willing to suffer with him that I may also be glorified with him. Words cannot express the joy and peace dwelling in my heart.
How is it that I remained in darkness so long? The Lord’s ways are certainly wonderful and past finding out to those who have not his spirit. I now better understand the purpose of his dealings with me. It was a hard lesson to learn, but thanks be to God for the permission to learn it. This world has no longer any attraction for me. It is all a fleeting show for man’s delusion given. Heaven is my home, and O how I long to be there! How I long to receive the crown which the righteous Judge shall give me at that day!
The Lord is sustaining me, spiritually as well as physically. To earn a living, I am doing some light work during the week,—”collecting.” I could not preach for money again. The Lord only knows how I regret having ever preached for a salary. But then I was not consecrated: now I know different; nor am I preaching for sects: I am only preaching for the Lord Jesus whenever and wherever opportunity presents itself. And, praise the Lord, I am now preaching “present truth.”
In connection with my work during the week I have opportunities to sell the DAWN. Perhaps the Lord will lead me into the colporteur work. His will be done! I don’t suppose that you remember me. We met at the Council Bluffs Convention.
Pray for me, for I need much divine strength.
Yours in Christ, J. A. KIEFERLE,—Colorado.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—As we did not get to bid you “good-bye,” at Chicago, nor have an opportunity to express our sentiments concerning the convention, I take this means of letting you know how much we enjoyed the meetings and how much good they have done us. Not only do I speak as to Sister Owen and myself, but the rest of the dear ones who were present from here (18 in all) have been greatly refreshed and blessed, and this morning at meeting I could see the blessed spirit of our Convention shining from their countenances, and they still wore the “convention smile” which was to me an inspiration in itself. One dear sister who has come into the truth since our Convention last summer and who was at our late one told me this morning that since attending the Convention and meeting with so many of the Lord’s people and hearing various phases of the truth discussed, all her doubts had vanished, and that she could not sleep last night for thinking of these blessed truths and God’s wonderful goodness to her in allowing her to see them. She said, “The room seemed to be filled with joy and all I could do was to lie still and praise the Lord,” and her bright, happy face this morning was a clear index to the deep well of joy springing up in her heart since coming out of darkness into his marvelous light.
This dear sister’s experience is doubtless but the counterpart of the experiences of many others. And if the Convention did us, who have the blessed privilege of daily fellowship with those of like precious faith, so much good, think what it must be to those dear isolated ones who, so far as human fellowship and sympathy are concerned, must stand alone through all the long days of waiting till their change come.
The foregoing brings vividly before my mind the memories of my first convention. It was in Allegheny in 1890. I was then “a cake not turned.” I did not know whether I believed in “restitution” or not. I well remember how timid I was, how fearful lest I should be led wrong. I almost felt as if I were going to the “enemy’s country.” But of this one thing I was determined; I would not allow any one “to pull the wool over my eyes,” but I would see and know for myself “whether these things be true.”
Sister Owen has preserved the letters I wrote her while at Allegheny this first time, and I send some extracts from them, thinking they would be of interest to you. In my first letter I wrote as follows:—
“I hardly know how I stand on their doctrines (now, thank God, I do know how I stand on our doctrines, I stand squarely on them with both feet), but I feel content to trust God to bring me into the full light. I find that the people here have a great advantage over us, and we are just beginning to learn, just in our letters, so to speak.”
Next day I wrote,—
“We had the best meeting last night that I have been in for a long time; it was a love feast indeed. … O how I wish you were here! Think of a houseful of consecrated people and the pleasure of worshiping with them. I am coming more fully into the light and am thinking of being immersed tomorrow. Brother Russell preached a sermon on this subject the first day that I was here that was better than anything I had ever heard. … I believe him to be the most consecrated preacher that I have ever met and have learned to love him. I may stay longer than Monday as he has given me a pressing invitation to do so.”
My last letter, written perhaps two days later than the one above, is so expressive of my feelings at that time that I give it verbatim.
“MY DEAR WIFE:—I did not write you yesterday, thinking to start home last evening, but Brother Russell insisted on my staying longer. I may stay until tomorrow evening. I am up before the family this morning; I am troubled with sleeplessness to some extent. Last night I went to bed very tired, and thought that I would go right to sleep, but I could not sleep for meditating on the goodness and mercy of God to me. And now my heart burns within me as I think of his many blessings. Praise his name forever!
“You know how undecided I was when I left home. Well, through the increase of knowledge and the sweet communion of God’s people, the mists of darkness have cleared away, and yesterday I symbolized my burial with him through water baptism. I have consecrated all I have and am or hope to be to God. Will you join me in this? I know you will. O, how I wish you were here with me that you might partake of the spiritual food that the Lord has supplied in such abundance. But I will bring home (I hope) all that my heart will hold and we will enjoy it together.
“I look forward with joy to the many precious hours that we will spend together studying the Word of God and loving its great truths more than ever now that we begin to see them more clearly. The doctrine of ‘Restitution’ is not a ‘cunningly devised fable’ but is foreshadowed in all the types in a way that we never dreamed of, and I believe that the Lord will reveal more and more of his great plan to us if we follow on to know the truth. Let us humbly and prayerfully do this, ‘looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.’
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“You will have to be content with this fragment until I get home. Kiss the dear children for papa. With much love, yes, with more love, I remain as ever, CHARLEY.”
I love to live over again these scenes; they are most precious to me, my dear brother, and to-night I can truthfully say that the love there begotten towards yourself has only grown deeper and stronger with the lapse of years, and I feel a deep and loving concern in all that concerns you. Looking back over these intervening years I can see much of weakness, much of humiliating defeat. Yet, thank God, many victories. He has permitted us to gather some precious grains of wheat, amongst them Brother and Sister Ransom and a good many others who are yet in the narrow way.
Just a few words regarding the singing. I think it was excellent. Brother McPhail did splendidly, and the new books are such a treat.
Yours in our dear Redeemer, C. A. OWEN,—Indiana.
CHARLES T. RUSSELL,
DEAR SIR:—About three weeks ago, on coming out of church, a young woman handed me a copy of your paper. I should like to thank her. I have read and re-read it, and it is a great relief to me to be convinced that there is no place of endless torment prepared for the wicked. I have not been able to understand how a God of love could inflict such terrible punishment upon his creatures, many of whom have been called to endure great suffering in this life. It is right, of course, that those who will not submit to God’s authority should be destroyed, but I am glad to be able to hope that another opportunity for repentance will be given them. I intend to lend my paper to friends, hoping to make converts, and will be glad to have some of the tracts which you send free. If I were able I would buy some but cannot do more than subscribe for the paper. Respectfully yours,
Miss S. E. RITTENHOUSE,—D.C.
MY DEAR BROTHER:—We cannot ever hope to have you and the other dear brethren (who assisted so graciously and unselfishly in making the gathering at this place on Sept. 29, 30, and Oct. 1 such a profitable one for our spiritual growth and upbuilding) fully understand this side the second vail what a deep spirit of gratitude and love fills our hearts for you. In every possible respect has the convention passed beyond our greatest hopes, and to whom but our very present Lord can we ascribe such unmistakeable direction in even the minutest detail? To him and the glorious Father be all the praise and glory, yet we forget not to thank him for the humble, loving instrument he has used of late years, so effectually to dispense and serve present truth to the balance of the household of faith. May the Lord continue to keep and richly bless you as that faithful servant. With much love,
W. BRENNEISEN,—Dallas, Texas.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—I find that I am a little behind with my contribution for the WATCH TOWER. I beg to enclose postal order which will pay for another year. How thankful I have been since my spiritual eyes were opened to see the grand and glorious truths that the Lord’s people were promised through his Word. The Bible to me has had a greater charm and is quite a new book. How true it is that many of the things were so difficult to understand, but we had faith in God, that he was too wise to err and too good to be unkind. Hence we used to say, “Why, in God’s good time all will be cleared and made right;” we forgot the fact that they were for a good and wise end.
I was, so to speak, cradled in Methodism, having been carried by a dear Father, who passed away some sixteen years ago, to Sunday school and more or less was always connected with School and Church. I had a splendid class of young women, which to leave was a sore task for me, but I found that it was impossible for me to continue teaching and speaking about things which were quite contrary to the Word of God. After leaving the School I had the Super- and vice Superintendent to visit me. I told them I could no longer continue. They thought I was doing wrong. The glorious truths which are rich to me were as foolishness to them. But oh! how they forget, or do not know, that Satan is blinding their eyes to the truth: One of the many questions I got is this one, “How is it that you have just found it out, and how is it that so few believe it? Have you, as the Word of God has told us, searched the Scriptures and proved all things? Are you not content to take what our ministers and teachers give us?” I find it very difficult to make much impression in our place, full of prejudice and blindness, tho I am happy to say I have an opportunity to spread the grand truth, having a wide connection in business; I am able to converse with many Christian travelers who come here; some listen with great interest. I have given many DAWNS and also many tracts, and I am hoping and trusting that some may be led into the light and liberty of God’s dear children. Thank God for all his blessings.
Yours in Christ, HENRY BELL,—England.
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:—In renewing my subscription for ZION’S WATCH TOWER for another year I would like to give expression to some of the feelings of gratitude which I have in my heart toward you, for the great work you are doing in said journal re the preparing of the little flock and getting ready the bride for the Bridegroom. I have received great and, I trust, lasting good from the reading of the TOWER. At times I have difficulties, but I find the sure way to get them answered is simply to wait, and not to trouble you with them, for you are sure to be discussing within a few weeks the very questions I am desirous of asking. In fact, speaking personally, I could ill afford to be without the helpful influence and practical lessons which are to be found in every issue of the TOWER. Any thing which helps us to walk closer to the Master, and enables us to abandon ourselves more entirely into the hands of our loving Father, must be coming from that same source. And I wish also to specially thank you for what some brother called a pleasant surprise, in other words, for the visit of a Pilgrim and Mrs. Henninges to this far away Scotland. It will take a more eloquent pen than mine to describe the blessed times we had together, listening to the good news as proclaimed by Brother Henninges. Please send them back soon, and earn some more of the gratitude of one along the narrow way which is ever getting narrower. But he giveth more grace.
Yours in Christ, JOHN THOMPSON,—Scotland.
— October 15, 1900 —