VOL. XII. NOVEMBER, 1891. NO. 11.
VIEW FROM THE TOWER.
THE HARVEST FIELD ABROAD.
After all the vicissitudes of our long and rapid journey abroad, which included ten thousand miles by sea and seven thousand miles by land, in and between Europe, Asia, Africa and America, we are glad to greet the readers of the TOWER again from the home office. We arrived just as the last issue of the TOWER was ready for press, and therefore had to delay any account of our travels for this and subsequent issues.
Toward the close of our journey we had the pleasure of greeting about one hundred and fifty of the interested ones at London and about the same number at Liverpool, who came together from various parts of England and Wales. The former company was brought together by the kindness of Sister Horne and others, the latter by Brother and Sister Elam. Both were precious seasons in which we learned to appreciate very highly the depth and earnestness of the fellow-members of the body over there. You will not be surprised to know that the same spirit of the truth (the spirit of love--deep, earnest and active) characterizes the saints there, as it does all who joyfully and devotedly accept the same good tidings on this side the Atlantic. These gatherings reminded us of those which are held every Spring in Allegheny. Love, joy and peace, the fruits of the spirit of the truth, were expressed in the faces and by the hands as well as in the words of all. And fervent and earnest were the prayers of the saints there for their dear brethren and sisters in America, and for the great work in which we are unitedly engaged. In the intervals of the public meetings the personal interviews were constant and very earnest, disclosing a strong under-current of love and devotion to God and a longing for still greater usefulness in his blessed service. Their prayers and parting benedictions will never be forgotten, except in the joys of our glorious reunion in the heavenly kingdom. O may we each so run as to be counted worthy of that blessed consummation of our hopes!
Arriving in New York, we were greatly surprised to find that Brother and Sister Fairchild had arranged for a gathering of interested ones at their home, to bid us welcome to the dear home land--the most favored in the world for the great harvest work. It was a warm welcome indeed, and most beautifully expressed by the floral decorations and elegant repast which loving hearts had planned and loving hands had executed. We greatly enjoyed this privilege of meeting and greeting the saints, about sixty of whom had gathered, some coming fifty and some a hundred miles, a majority of whom awaited our arrival.
Reaching Allegheny early on the following Sunday morning, we were again surprised by the loved ones. Brothers Bryan and Morrow, a delegation of welcome, met us at the depot; and on our arrival home, after worship, while [R1332 : page 146] we breakfasted, a poem of welcome, written for the occasion by Sister Ball, of our household, was read to us.
But our surprises were not yet complete. On our arrival at Bible House chapel, we found the stand and platform banked with potted plants and adorned with flowers, while upon the wall, in the rear of the desk, and beautifully executed, was the word Welcome. A congregation of about two hundred awaited our arrival, and Brother Weimar conducted the meeting, whilst we were shown seats among the congregation. The program consisted of an address of welcome by Sister Tuttle who, on behalf of the congregation, bade us Welcome Home in no uncertain language; and this was preceded and followed by the excellent rendering of two very appropriate hymns, specially prepared for the occasion by Sister Zech.
Then, an opportunity offering, we responded, assuring our dear Brethren and Sisters that we heartily reciprocated all the love and tender interest which they had so forcibly and elegantly expressed toward us. We assured them that we accepted these loving expressions of welcome, not merely as personal matters, but chiefly as expressions of their sympathy and love for the Truth and the Master whom we seek to serve. We then briefly related some items of interest furnished by our journey, and the various evidences we had of the Lord's favor and blessings upon us and upon our mission abroad, promising more anon through the TOWER.
While we realized that dangers beset us on every hand all through the journey, we gratefully remembered the prayers of the saints on our behalf, and the loving favor of God, whose presence was so signally with us all the way, so that every hindrance to the accomplishment of our mission was removed and our way was continually prospered. The seas were smooth and quiet, affording opportunities for letting our light shine among our fellow-passengers, although for a time we had to have a share of the discomforts of sea-sickness, which was doubtless for our good; and we sincerely hope that some lasting impressions were made upon the minds of some to whom we bore witness concerning our Father's plan.
On the east-bound journey were some fifty Congregationalist ministers, bound for a convention of that denomination in London, having for its chief object the closer union of Congregationalists throughout the world; and on our homeward journey was a similar number of Methodist ministers, bound for a Methodist convention to be held in Washington city. On the Black and Mediterranean seas, on board a Russian steamer from Odessa to Jaffa, we had a fair sample of Jewish exiles and also of the Russian hatred of the poor wanderers. But all the individual Russians cannot be judged by the policy of their despotic government, nor by the superstitions of their national religion--the Greek Catholic. Among them we met persons of both head and heart culture and whom we would have reasonable hope of converting to the truth under favorable circumstances for its presentation. To some of these we have promised a copy of THE PLAN OF THE AGES in French as soon as it is published.
On the Mediterranean voyages we also met and made the acquaintance of some fair representatives of the Greeks, Egyptians, French and Italians, and our appreciation of the kindly courtesy of these traveling acquaintances greatly enlarged our sympathy and love for the various peoples whom they represented; and as we exchanged cards on parting and wished each other a safe and happy journey, we promised each a copy of DAWN in German, French or English when they were familiar enough with any of these to read it. Throughout our journeys on the wave the Master's "Peace, be still," seemed to echo and re-echo; for though we heard of disasters abroad by sea and by land, our frail barques were always safely steered to their destination; and though all Europe was suffering from too frequent rains, and in many places damaging floods, we had fair weather and clear sunshine from the day we left home until our return, with the single exception of our last day in London, the rains and storms always being either in advance of us or in our rear. This, together with our continued physical health, notwithstanding the sudden changes of climate and the fatigue of constant travel and sight-seeing, we could not help marking as specially [R1332 : page 147] favorable to our rapid traveling and necessarily hasty observations, for all of which we sincerely thank God and you, dear brethren and sisters, who constantly remembered us before the throne of heavenly grace.
Our travels by land were also blessed by numerous opportunities for making the acquaintance of representatives of various nations, with whom we frequently conversed, sometimes through interpreters, all conversation naturally gravitating toward the truth. The kind faces and cordial hand-shaking and good wishes of these traveling companions will long be remembered as among the interesting events of our journey, as links in the chain of love that binds us to our common humanity and as instrumentalities in causing our hearts to beat with a quicker impulse and a warmer affection for the "whole world," whom God so loved as to give his only begotten Son for their redemption and restitution.
Yes, our sympathies have been greatly enlarged, our love strengthened and our zeal greatly stimulated to do our privileged part in the furtherance of that glorious plan of God which alone is equal to the emergency of our fallen humanity's desperate case. Our reason, as well as the Scriptures, clearly affirms that all efforts not on the lines of God's plan are vain indeed, and we long for the consummation in the blessed restitution of all things. But, as a means to that end, we see that the development and exaltation of the Church is of first importance, calling, therefore, now--in this harvest time--for the concentration of all our efforts here, in order that, under the future leading and government of the perfected and glorified Church, the world may believe.--John 17:21.
We want to tell you all we can about our journey, but it will require time to do so. We would now in a word tell you that the Lord has greatly blessed us in it to the accomplishment of what we contemplated in undertaking it, as explained in the July issue. You will be glad to know this much briefly now and we will endeavor to communicate some particulars in which you will be interested in succeeding issues. While abroad we not only sought to see all that we could for our own sakes, but continually remembered that we were seeing for you also--as eyes for the body: this time seeing earthly things indeed, but seeing these with a view to their relationship with heavenly truths [R1333 : page 147] and interests.
In view of certain leadings indicating that this journey would be the Lord's will, we did not hesitate to use a portion of the Lord's money for this purpose, though we felt impelled to accomplish the work in the most economical way possible, which we did by traveling generally in second class coaches, which also brought us more in contact with the people, as we desired, the first class coaches being very generally forsaken except by civil and ecclesiastical dignitaries and wealthy pleasure-seekers. We also found second class passage on the ocean quite comfortable, though not luxurious, and gladly availed ourselves of these methods of economizing, being pleased also to find that our unseasonable visits to Palestine and Egypt placed the hotel rates there at half the usual prices. Nor did we return home, as is the usual custom of travelers, laden with the luxuries of the old world, with samples of its art works, its rich laces or elegant silks, but we trust with a richer treasure of knowledge and experience valuable to the dear Lord's work. We have said we used the Lord's money, in this way, yet would not be understood to mean that we so appropriated any portion of the funds contributed to the spread of the truth, etc., every cent of which, and more too, is applied directly to the purposes intended. But we count all our private, personal means as the Lord's: hence the expression, "the Lord's money."
When starting out we had specially three objects in view: (1) A study of the social conditions of Europe with a view to an unbiased judgment as to how soon the trouble which God's Word predicts may be expected there. (2) While so far on the journey we wanted to see Palestine and to judge of the fulfilments of prophecy and the prospects for the restitution work beginning among the Jews, and to meet and confer with our Jewish Brother Rabinowitch with reference to that phase of the harvest work which involves the Jewish question, so that these two parts of the work may proceed in yet [R1333 : page 148] closer sympathy. (3) While serving these main objects we proposed meeting and conferring with some of the TOWER readers and workers abroad, and from observation throughout the entire journey we hoped to see perhaps some way of forwarding the spread of the Truth, at least to some extent, in Europe.
But the last and the least of our objects, in going on this mission, has turned out to be the first and uppermost one in our hearts. Therefore this must be the first feature of our report to you, viz., the openings and prospects we found for the spreading of the harvest truth among the Lord's sheep in Europe.
It did not require long to convince us that we had underestimated the intelligence and religious fervor of God's people across the deep, especially in England, Ireland, Scotland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark. As your eyes we soon began to study how those members of the body of Christ, here, who have been so greatly blessed of the Lord by a knowledge of his gracious plans (present and future), could assist and bless and set free into the same glorious light of truth any of the fellow members of the same body in "the old world." The Lord seemed to say to us, "Lift up your eyes and see, for the fields are white for harvesting"--ready for the sickle of present truth.
And now as your eyes we have this report to make as to the ripeness of the fields for your services and ours as co-reapers with the great Reaper in the present gathering of the ripe wheat into the great garner of safety, separate from the world and the tares and out of the fiery troubles which will shortly overwhelm them.
We saw no opening or readiness for the truth in Russia, except on the part of Brother Rabinowitch and the Jews whom he is seeking to reach. We saw nothing to encourage us to hope for any harvest in Italy or Turkey or Austria or Germany. The Germans as a people seem to have had vital godliness and faith in the Bible almost wholly crushed out, and nearly all of the intelligent among them are at best moralists who reject the Scriptures except in so far as they imperfectly express their ideas of right, wrong, etc. The majority of Russians and Austrians seem to be immersed in superstitious formalism, into which intelligent appreciation of God and his Word does not seem to enter. The Italians have been so long under the baneful influence of the Papacy that they, like the French, are rapidly turning to open infidelity, although many still are blinded by gross Romish superstition.
But Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, and especially England, Ireland and Scotland, are fields ready and waiting to be harvested. These fields seem to be crying out, Come over and help us! and we know of no more hopeful parts in which to thrust in the sickle and reap: no, not even in this our favored land of liberty. In all of these countries there are hearts hungry for the truth and many evidently consecrated to the Lord and anxious to prove their devotion to him by engaging in what they severally conceive to be his work.
The Salvation Army is engaging the services of many of these, and is indeed doing a great work in its special line. By self-sacrificing methods they are continually planning and laboring to lift up the fallen and the degraded, and encouraging and assisting them to lead a better life. This, like every other humanitarian scheme, is a good work; and were we not aware of the better plans and ways and means which God has arranged for the lifting up and blessing of the world, such humanitarian works would have a large claim upon us. But we bear in mind that the harvest of the age is come and that the harvest work of thrusting in the sickle of present truth and gathering the elect from the four winds (from every quarter of the field) and from one end of heaven (the nominal Christian Church) to the other (Matt. 24:31) is the seasonable work of the truly enlightened now--the Lord's work and hence the work of his co-laborers.
In Great Britain many earnest souls are preaching Christ on the street corners without waiting for the laying on of clerical hands. True, their zeal is coupled with very little knowledge of the truth, but their disposition to serve the Master is very manifest; and the attentive and respectful crowds of orderly, thoughtful looking people that gather about them indicate a desire on the part of the multitudes for the true bread of life. Among thinking Christians [R1333 : page 149] there is, too, a growing dissatisfaction with the sectarian forms of godliness which so lack its vital power, and there is a longing and a reaching out for something better.
In Norway and Sweden there is also a great awakening and a growing revulsion against the established (Lutheran) church. The Swedes and Norwegians are serious, reverent, thoughtful people, and many among them are coming to realize that it is one thing to be born into the nominal Church and quite another to be a true Christian, a member of the one true Church whose names are written in heaven. But while many there are out and coming out of the old so-called orthodox ruts and systems and searching the Scriptures independently, without sectarian names, calling their meetings "Missions," the adversary is even there busily seeking to infuse pernicious doctrines of error, so that a general sifting process is going on among them as among us. And there, as here, chief among these false doctrines are those which in a very subtle manner deny the rock foundation of all true faith, viz.: the Ransom--that we were bought with a price, even the precious blood of Christ. A Mr. Waldstrom is one of the most active teachers on this line among them, while others strenuously oppose the error and are seeking for the old paths of the Lord and the apostles. The Danes, too, are in a similar attitude.
While other parts of Europe have their claims upon the gospel, and while the Lord has in all probability some precious saints scattered here and there all over the world, we surely have reason to hope for a larger ingathering from these portions of the foreign field than from any other.
And now the question forces itself upon us-- What can we, who have been so highly favored, do for the precious saints abroad? How shall we thrust the sickle into these ripened fields? How can we bind up the broken-hearted and pour in the oil and wine of the Truth? What privileges of labor and self-denial will the dear Master be pleased to accord to us and to bless, for the gathering of his sheep to the green pastures and still, refreshing waters of his Word, away from the befouled streams of human tradition and speculation?
In the first place, we see the great necessity for the translation of these harvest truths into the various European languages. The French translation of MILLENNIAL DAWN, now under way, will serve a good purpose all over Europe, as French is very generally understood and spoken everywhere, even among many of the common people. The German translation already completed for Volumes I. and II. is available for Germans wherever an interest can be awakened, though we can have little hope to find any considerable number of the elect in the midst of a nation so given up to pleasure seeking, beer drinking, military zeal and ambition, and where vital godliness has been almost crushed out by a cold, formal, state religion. The English edition will of course answer for England, Ireland, Scotland and for many in Wales, as well as for the United States and Canada, and for English speaking people scattered throughout the world. But there is a great need for a Swedish translation and also a translation which would serve both the Danes and the Norwegians, not only in their native [R1334 : page 149] lands, but here in the United States also; for, as perhaps few realize, these nationalities have millions of representatives here in our midst.
As yet we see no way open for this part of the work, but it is at least our privilege to pray the Lord of the harvest not only to send more laborers into his vineyard, but also to provide what he may deem the necessary equipment for the work. We are, however, looking for and arranging with persons competent to do the work of translating, so that when it shall please the Lord to indicate the way or to supply the means this work may be expedited accordingly; for the Swedish tract is already stirring up considerable interest.
Observation and conference with the saints in England, Ireland and Scotland indicate that one hindrance to a more rapid spread of the truth there is the inability of the interested to purchase as many tracts as could be circulated to advantage. In all the large cities great freedom and often protection from the police is granted for holding open air meetings; and on Sunday evenings especially, crowds gather and discuss religious and socialistic subjects from [R1334 : page 150] various standpoints--many evidently being dissatisfied and truth-hungry. Besides these there are Mission and Salvation Army meetings in progress, in perhaps twenty places at once, in each large city. These afford excellent opportunities for the Truth--superior indeed to anything of the same sort in this land. The Brethren and Sisters there realize these to be excellent fields for tracts explanatory of the truth, and could judiciously circulate thousands more than they have the means to purchase; for there, as here, the deeply interested number few of the great and rich.
We left them with the assurance that we saw this need and would do what we could to overcome the difficulty as the Lord would lead and grant the means for us to supply their need.
We found a number of the friends anxious, too, to use their time and energy in the colporteur work--selling DAWN. They had learned how God has been greatly blessing and using this method for reaching many here with the truth, and they were anxious to be sharers in a similar work of self-denial for the sake of the Lord, his truth and his people around them.
They pointed out that a depot for DAWN in London was almost a necessity to the work, as at present it required nearly a month to get a supply of books after they had taken the orders. Some, too, assured us that they longed to give themselves in this work, but that family obligations hindered them, as by it they could not earn enough to support their dependent ones, even though our recent allowance is admittedly liberal. This same difficulty has been encountered, too, by many here in America where money is less scarce and the sales and incomes consequently larger proportionately.
To overcome the first of these difficulties, we made arrangements for a London edition of MILLENNIAL DAWN, which, as soon as ready, will be duly announced in these columns. And regarding the second difficulty we will hope and pray that the way may yet open wide enough to permit all those to go into the service who are now hindered by financial necessities only, and whose hearts are filled to overflowing with an earnest desire to go forth and reap.
Among other things we realized the necessity for some tracts still different from those already published--for The Skeptical Christian, for The Consecrated Christian, and one showing plainly The One True Church. These ideas we will endeavor to put into shape during the coming year, as issues of our Old Theology Quarterly. We will also get out a new small tract corresponding somewhat to the present Arp-slip. The latter will be much less costly than the others, and may be given away more promiscuously, whilst the larger tracts should be given only where there is some reason to suppose that they will be appreciated.
Every opportunity for serving the Lord by the spread of his Truth means (during this age when evil abounds) an opportunity for self-sacrifice on the part of his consecrated ones. Our Master intends it to be so, because he would prove both to himself and to us the sincerity of our love. We may think that we love him and his Word more than we really do; and these opportunities, as they come, serve to show us our real attitude--the real depth of our love. And those whose hearts are really and fully consecrated, if they find a wincing of the flesh when an opportunity for sacrifice offers, will be put on guard thereby to see that their human will, pride, love of self and ease, etc., are more fully crucified--to the death.
Ah! says some one, I have consecrated all to the Lord, and would gladly give both time and means in his service, but the necessities of this life absorb almost all of both, in caring for those dependent on me. I wish that I could see some way of attesting my love. The "servants" under the Law were commanded to give a tenth of their increase in the Lord's service, and I, a "son" made free from Law, and shown the realities of the divine plan, which the "servants" saw only dimly in types, feel a desire to do more and not less than they. But how to do it I find not: there are so many demands for every spare hour and every spare dollar.
To such we believe that the Lord would have us deliver the following message which others will please not read:--
Your difficulty lies in trying to do too much --more than you have ability to do--and in [R1334 : page 151] overlooking the little things which are within your ability. You would love to preach the truth to great audiences with a thrilling "silver tongue," but have you such a talent? If not you had better begin humbly at home, and in a simple, quiet way tell the story of redeeming love to such of your family and neighbors as are "meek" and have "an ear to hear." It is to him who uses faithfully the talents which he has that the Lord promises to give greater talents and opportunities. Or perhaps, more humbly, you aspire to be the most successful colporteur or tract distributor--to sell and distribute thousands over vast extents--but cannot. Then turn and see how faithful you have been or can be in the use of opportunities which lie just at your hand on a smaller, humbler scale-- humility may be one of your most needed lessons. Or perhaps you are saying, Would that I had thousands or millions of dollars, how gladly would I spend them in spreading the truth.
You perhaps forget for the moment the great Master's remark (Luke 21:2-4), that the poor widow's two mites were more in his sight than the large bequests made by those who merely gave out of their abundance. "The Lord your God doth prove you," whether ye do love him and his truth supremely; and therefore he permits his work often to seem to lag for want of means, that the seeming necessity may give us the opportunity to deny ourselves in his service --for our benefit, our development, our blessing. (2 Cor. 8:1-15; 9:5-12.) Many who find the spirit willing but the flesh weak forget that God's Word takes cognizance of this, and marks out a straight path for our weak feet by admonishing those who would show their love in this way not to tempt themselves, but to adopt a regular habit of laying aside, on the first day of each week, whatever amount they feel disposed to give--according as the Lord hath prospered them during the preceding week. (1 Cor. 16:2.) How carefully God has provided for our guidance upon every subject: The Word of God is profitable that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto all good works." --2 Tim. 3:17.