"OUT OF DARKNESS INTO HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT."
DEAR BROTHER AND SISTER RUSSELL:--Although we are strangers to you, you are not strangers to us; and as a slight evidence of our appreciation of the blessings your books have brought us, we venture to trespass upon your precious time long enough to tell you something which may prove of interest.
We are a young husband and wife who have been members of the nominal church for about ten years; but are now, we trust, stepping from its darkness into the light of the new day now dawning for the consecrated children of the Most High.
About the first of December, '94, Miss Erlenmyer, one of your colporteurs and one of the Lord's dear saints, called at our home, and finding us deeply interested in the subject of our Savior's return, had little difficulty in persuading us to take the first volume of DAWN, promising to call again as soon as we had had time to read it.
We began to read and in two or three weeks were interested to such an extent that although nearly everything else was mixed up and we scarcely knew what we believed, we did see clearly that there certainly is some special prize, some exceptional opportunity, for which the humble, sacrificing members of Christ's flock are invited to strive. We felt that there was only about one plank in the old platform left for the Christian worker to stand upon, and that was the one in which we have always been most interested, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." We have always been expecting to fall into some trap unless we clung close to our Savior, and at the time of which we speak were by no means sure that your interpretations of the Scriptures, despite their apparent harmony with them, were not the well-meant views of another class of those unfortunates who unwittingly go about "deceiving and being deceived."
This hesitancy to accept the message led us into a most serious predicament from which, however, the Lord has extricated us, and that, too, in a manner which seems to us unmistakable personal evidence that your views of the Word are correct. A few words of explanation are necessary to understand the way we got into what has proven the greatest testing season of our lives.
Long before we ever met each other it was our earnest wish that we might serve the Lord, if it chanced to be his will, as missionaries in the foreign field. One of us has, however, been for years physically unable to go; the other had no opportunity to go before our engagement took place, and as he received only the next day after that event a notice of acceptance of an application made nearly two years before, from which nothing had been heard in the meantime, but which, had it been received even one day sooner would have been considered a "call" and prevented our engagement altogether, it seemed to both of us that we had been plainly shown the Lord did not wish to use us in that direction.
In this city there is a young lady who from her infancy has wished and expected to some time go to the foreign field, and she has had the advantages of the education usually given at Mr. Moody's Northfield School and the Chicago Training Institute to fit her for such work. She is now the city missionary of the church with which we are at present connected, and is, we believe, earnestly trying to do her Master's will.
To come to the point: One evening early in January, after a long discussion of the sore needs of what seemed to us the Master's work, and of the ways and means at our disposal, we decided to send the above mentioned young lady to the foreign field and sustain her in the work as God saw fit to favor the plan, provided she was willing to accept the call. We concluded that if the DAWNS were right we had not many years in which to work and that whether they were right or wrong we would be doing the Lord's will by giving up for him every earthly prospect.
We invited the young lady in question to call as soon as possible, which she did the next evening, and we found her not only ready but anxious to take up the work. The next day she sent in her application to the Mission Board, asked to be appointed to the field to which she has from her childhood wanted to go, and even mentioned the date she would like to start.
About a week later Miss Erlenmyer called, as she had promised, renewed our interest in the DAWN, left VOLS. II. and III., and such a sea of trouble as our first examination of the Chronology plunged us into, we earnestly hope we may never be called upon to go through again. We saw the old landmarks of orthodoxy topple and fall on every side, and although God's Spirit enabled us to look with a sense of joy upon the ruins of the creeds and catechisms, it did not extricate us from our contract to engage in work which we see is no longer necessary, and we did not have the confidence, as yet, in these, to us, new interpretations of the Word, to enable us to withdraw our offer.
In our extremity we asked our Father in Heaven to show us the truth or falsity of your teachings by sending our friend as we had planned, or preventing her from going.
Since that time we have gone on reading and studying the books and growing in the doctrine of grace and in the [R1830 : page 148] knowledge of the love of God until, from a comparison of their teachings with the infallible Word, confidence in the DAWN has become heart-certainty that they are right. But although we have been for several weeks fully convinced, and have been growing stronger and stronger week by week, we have done nothing to interfere with the plans mentioned, fearing to take out of the Lord's hands what we had placed in them, and knowing from many rich experiences in the past that in his own good time he would answer us in a way that would satisfy.
Our confidence in the Lord has not been in vain, for as fast as we have come into the light we have received our answer, although in a manner that has given us much pain. Our dear friend whom we had expected to send began about six weeks ago to have trouble with her eyes. A month ago the affliction had become so serious as to require regular treatment twice a week. Now she is unable to read or write and cannot even bear the light for any length of time.
A week ago she told us that it would be years before she could go, and day before yesterday informed us she had written to the Mission Board and requested them to let the matter drop. Of course we know that the Lord has not sent this affliction upon her for the purpose of answering our prayer, but we know, too, that the young lady in question has heretofore enjoyed good health and we believe this trouble, which it now appears has been coming upon her unobserved for years, has been providentially postponed until now, or otherwise so ordered as to give us an opportunity to "Prove whether these things be so."
Now we have proved the Lord, and he has answered us, and we mean to obey the call. With fear and trembling, but with confidence in our mighty King, we enter at the [R1831 : page 148] eleventh hour to run the race for crowns which others have flung aside. The thought that others have had them and lost them almost unnerves us. Oh! may he grant to strengthen our weak hands and confirm our feeble knees, that we be not castaways after having once entered the Holy Place and feasted on the wonderful truths so providentially placed in our way, is the heartfelt prayer of
Your loving brother and sister in Christ,
EMMA AND CLAYTON J. WOODWORTH.
[Since writing the above the Brother and Sister have withdrawn from the earthly organization of which they were members; but they are more than ever united to the one Church "whose names are written in heaven."--ED.]
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.:--Enclosed find order for One Dollar for which please send to the undersigned for one year ZION'S WATCH TOWER. I feel that I must have it, for as far as I have read in the DAWN I am more than ever convinced that it is leading me into that truth which will make me free. For nine years I have been groping in the M.E. church for what I have found in your book in as many hours. With the teachings of that church I have always felt, as they often sing, that "there was a void that never was filled." I have been a local preacher in that church, but have now renounced all connections with it, and as fast as the truth is gained by me, with the help of God I will teach it.
I have already given three lectures which have created quite a stir here, and many are looking up the Word to find me mistaken; but the truth still stands, thank God! Coming in at the eleventh hour, I am reminded that "the time is short." Am now sixty years of age; but when speaking in the light my "strength is renewed like the eagles." There are two or three already who are showing a desire to be led into the light. May God bless and help you still to unfold to me and other seekers the blessings that will follow from a true knowledge of him who gave himself a ransom for all. I take the liberty to subscribe myself,
Your brother in Christ, JAMES BUNTING.
DEAR BROTHER:--Last October a gentleman called at my house and drew my attention to a book he was selling. I was upon the point of refusing when the title, "MILLENNIAL DAWN," interested me. I consented to examine it, saw at once it was something I wanted, and ordered all three volumes. After going through them two or three times, to say I was astonished is a very mild expression. Although I had been brought up in the fear of the Lord and in the faith as taught by the Methodist church, still I had strayed far from all religion, believing that a God who would torment one forever could not be the God of love I had been taught. I was not far from atheism, but those DAWNS, thank the Lord, altered all that. I am now trying to serve God, and thank him sincerely that the colporteur called at my house. I will pray for him, and may his efforts be blessed in spreading the truth.
The DAWNS having proved such a blessing to me, I am anxious that others should have the benefit of the truth which they contain. I enclose Money Order and several addresses. May God spare you long for his work.
Yours in the faith, E. E. MITCHELL.
DEAR SIR:--Excuse a perfect stranger for troubling you, but will you please tell me if the fourth volume of MILLENNIAL DAWN is yet published, and where I can get it? I got the first three volumes from one of your agents last year, and have read them through five or six times with both pleasure and profit. I consider them books not to be read merely but to be studied. Every time I have read them I have gathered something new. In my opinion this is the true religion, the only one that combines reason with faith, and that is not contradictory to the sciences.
Your respectfully, E. S.__________.
TOWER PUBLISHING CO.:--I am carefully studying Vol. I. of MILLENNIAL DAWN. It is the clearest production I have yet found, and I desire to read VOLS. II. and III. Enclosed find order. If you have a catalogue of other works please send it, and oblige,
J. W. S__________, Pastor M.E. church.
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DEAR BRO. RUSSELL:--God be praised that at last I have willingly yielded to the Spirit's call through the Word, and have left Babylon, never to return, and am now happy in Christ my Redeemer. How blessed is the light that hath shined into our hearts! And now we realize fully the words of the Apostle--"And we, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake us unawares."
I have been reading DAWNS for about a year and a half. I heard the Spirit's call through the Word, but was so weak and so strongly bound to Babylon, that it was hard to throw off the shackles of bondage and enter into the liberty there is in Christ; but he will not break the bruised reed, or quench the smoking flax; and in his wisdom he sent among us Brother V. C. Haviland to do colporteur work. Bro. H. sought me out, and strengthened me, even as Ananias did Paul; and now I am in the light, bless his holy name, O my soul, and all that is within me!
Yours in hope of eternal life. FRANK H. RUSS.